Archive for the 'U.S. Supreme Court' category

Supreme Conspiracy: How The Koch Brothers and Clarence Thomas Overthrew Democracy

Oct 28 2010 Published by under Featured News, U.S. Supreme Court

In developing countries and dictatorships it’s not unusual or unexpected for the judicial system to be corrupt and biased. In America, it used to be a source of pride that our judicial system was fair and followed the letter of the law. Apparently, those days are gone and we are seeing the result of biased court decisions in this election cycle with unprecedented corporate donations to Republican candidates.

The Supreme  Court’s decision to give personhood to corporations (Citizens’ United v Federal Election Commission) so they can donate unrestricted amounts to politicians outraged just about everyone; except conservatives. One would like to imagine the court reached its decision after hearing the arguments and considering the implications it would have on America, but it doesn’t look like that was the case.

A gathering of conservative corporate leaders, financial experts, and conservative pundits met at an event sponsored by the Koch Brothers to strategize the 2010 elections and beyond. The stated purpose of the event was to eliminate 90% of regulations and preserve prosperity for corporate America.

There are volumes written on business’s goal of taking control of the government to enrich the wealth of corporations and the oil industry, and the Citizen’s United decision all but handed control to the Koch Brothers and their cohorts.

Two Supreme Court associate justices attended similar meetings put on by the Kochs and it begs the question: Did Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas take direction on how to rule in cases that favor corporate America? Whether or not there was any impropriety, further investigation is necessary to see if the justices are complicit in the Kochs’ plans. In particular, did Clarence Thomas and his wife (Ginni) conspire with the Kochs to proffer rulings for favors? It is a valid question.

Ginni Thomas is the head of a Tea Party group, and an anonymous donor handed over $500,000 to start her PAC. It is now well known  that the Koch brothers funded and promoted Tea Party groups, but there is no way of knowing if the Kochs funded Thomas’s Tea Party PAC  because they don’t have to reveal who made the donation, and it may be because of the Citizen’s United ruling.

Supreme Court justices are not supposed to bring personal political beliefs into their decision making process, but Scalia and Thomas attending a strategy session for destroying regulations and promoting corporate interests certainly looks suspicious. Justice Samuel Alito was asked during his confirmation hearings if he would bring his conservative beliefs into the cases he may hear and he said absolutely not. His decisions have leaned favorably toward corporations.

America is in decline because corporate interests take precedent over working people, and it has never been as blatant as in this election cycle. The protection against unfair spending and foreign influence is gone, and it was bought and paid for by conservative corporate interests.

It’s horrendous that corporations buy votes in legislative houses, but it is a travesty when two Supreme Court justices attend Republican Party and corporate leaders’ strategy sessions for the next election cycle.

If there is any justice in America, there will be an investigation into the Koch brothers, their group of industrialist leaders, foreign influence in campaigns, and the Supreme Court justices in their employ.  In particular, Clarence Thomas should be investigated for ethical impropriety concerning his wife and Koch brothers’ Tea Party funding.

Americans deserve truthful answers from Thomas and Scalia regarding their attendance and involvement in planning corporate strategy in this election cycle to assure Americans the Supreme Court is impartial. Unfortunately, conservatives are not inclined to give truthful answers whether they are politicians or Supreme Court Justices.

15 responses so far

Focus on the Family: Legislating Hate and Subverting the Constitution

James Dobson, Dominionist

In no instance have… the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.
– James Madison

Because he thinks the Supreme Court will never outlaw abortion, James Dobson, dominionist and head of the Christian hate group known as Focus on the Family, figures he can do an end around by getting individual states to ban it.

I would be willing to settle for each state making a decision, and we’ll fight that out in the state legislatures in 50 states. I just don’t see the Supreme Court saying this is flat-out illegal. I wish they would, but I don’t think that will happen.

Dobson says that “You can’t deny it’s a baby. You see it sucking its thumb, moving and turning cartwheels in its mother’s womb.”

That’s not a pretty picture, certainly, but it’s also not the whole argument. I don’t think many people argue that abortion should be employed as a method of birth control, but that is how abortion opponents frame their argument. Of course, they’re so anti-abortion that they’re willing to force incest and rape victims to bear their attackers’ babies and they’re willing to let mothers die.

There no explanation and no justification for the privileging of the life of a fetus over that of a mother.

This end-round the Supreme Court’s ruling, Roe vs. Wade (1973) has been tried before and the Supreme Court has struck down many state laws limiting or regulation abortion from the mid-70s on. The problem for James Dobson and his group is that the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a fundamental right under the Constitution.

The pros and cons of abortion (or that ruling) aside, Dobson seems to miss one of the original purposes of the Constitution, which was to protect the American people from “excesses of democracy” of local legislatures, which tended to run roughshod over the rights of the minority.

In other words, certain restraints were placed on the powers of local legislatures in order to force them to respect the rights of all their citizens, not just the majority (Article I, Section 10).  That is why the United States Constitution trumps state constitutions. All citizens have rights equally, not just those who form part of a majority.

As James Madison said, “In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.” In fact, Dobson places himself in direct opposition to Madison. While Dobson somehow imagines that his own particular religion is the truest guardian of a liberty he would extend to only a few, Madison argued that “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” And that true liberty extends to all.

This is the problem with state referendums which, for example, attempt to deprive certain groups of their civil rights – Proposition 8 in California being a case in point. The hypocrisy of the Republican position on rights is apparent when those rights are reserved for only a few. It is not the position of the Constitution that some are more equal than others, or that equal rights are dependent upon holding a majority. States can’t vote to ignore the Constitution. This is not something that is permitted. It is not something that can be permitted. Nor can states vote to ignore the rulings of the Supreme Court. It – not Dobson’s interpretation of the views of his supreme deity – is the final arbiter in the land.

Of course, while the Constitution says (Article VI, Section 3) that no religious test is required to hold office, Focus on the Family ignores the Constitution by arguing the opposite:

Does the candidate have a Christian world-view? Is he pro-life? A clue is whether he knows the embryonic stem-cell debate and opposes the process. Does she firmly support God’s definition of marriage, and does she oppose civil unions that give marriage benefits to same-sex couples? Does he believe that parents, rather than the state, have ultimate say over what a child learns in school? Is she hostile toward or silent on matters of faith? A candidate’s positions on all these issues are important indicators.

The major problem with the Republicans is that they have become not just the morality party but the party of one particular morality – Christian morality, and a specific type of Christianity at that. While most cultures share ideas of taboo behavior, it would be a mistake to assume that one idea of morality can function as a guide to every person on earth. The same protections employed in the Constitution to protect the minority apply to religious minorities. The eighteenth century’s Evangelicals understood this; Dobson does not.

But then Focus on the Family is anti-minority, and by that I do not mean necessarily racist, but opposed to groups that represent a minority point of view. For example, Focus on the Family thinks bullies are the true victims, not the kids they abuse and beat up or force into suicide. The majority should be able to do whatever they want and (for now) Christians are still a majority religion in the United States. Might, in Dobson’s view, appears to make right, and that was not the view of the framers of the Constitution.

But this is no surprise from a group that has argued that “tolerance and diversity” are “buzzwords” used to promote a (nonexistent) homosexual agenda, or that it is not gays that are being persecuted by Christians but Christians by gays. It is clear that fact plays very little role in Focus on the Family’s rhetoric.

Where at the founding of our nation Protestant leaders, unhappily familiar with the example of the Church of England and the Papacy, mostly showed opposition to the idea of state sponsored religion, today’s Protestant leaders seem to think the intention all along was to create an officially Christian United States, and James Dobson feeds into this misguided mania. Despite any evidence in favor and piles of evidence against, he insists that his fevered imaginings are reality.

When the only mention of Christianity in the Constitution is “the Year of the Lord” in Article VII; when there is no mention of liberty in the scripture he champions, Dobson’s claim that Christianity is essential to the American republic or to liberty are absurd. Every state ratified this secular Constitution without objection to the absence of God. That the American Revolution was a largely secular revolution might explain this; the Second Great Awakening, as it was called, was a product not of the 18th, but of the 19th century. James Dobson is not only attempting to bypass the Constitution, he is attempting to subvert it. He is not trying to save America but to destroy it. And in light of the evidence, Dobson’s claim that “the charge that we are hateful is simply not rooted in fact” rings hollow.

34 responses so far

The GOP’s Revolution is Guillotining the Constitution

Madame Roland

Against stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain.” – Friedrich Schiller

The military has an interesting acronym, BFI: Brute Force and Ignorance. The rule of thumb is that BFI does not get the job done. War is no longer two opposing groups coming to grips and bashing away at each other until one gives up.

Shock and Awe, like Blitzkrieg, was more than the application of brute force. It takes finesse and nuance to conduct a successful lightning campaign.

Politics is similar. The Founding Fathers set up an intricate system of government which abounds with nuance, a complex system of checks and balances to sustain it through trials and time. They could have come up with something simpler had they wished, but their labors have served us well for over two centuries.

Unfortunately, any structure, however strong, will give way to repeated battering. You cannot win a lightning campaign through BFI but as George W. Bush realized, if you have overwhelming strength you can dispense with finesse and just pummel your enemy into submission. He did exactly that for eight years.

And the system so lovingly constructed by Madison, Jefferson and others, fell under assault. Cracks are starting to appear.

Congress surrendered it’s authority to the Bush Administration, voluntarily emasculating itself. Only the judicial branch held up its end of the bargain and continued to function anything like intended, and the Bush administration signaled its intention to ignore the courts and to ignore the constitution whenever it wished. Suddenly, there were no brakes on the executive.

After eight years of running amok, conservatives seem suddenly beside themselves with the loss power. They are so eager to “take their government back” that they are willing to destroy it in the process through the application of brute force and ignorance.

George W. Bush was the proverbial bull in the china shop. He did not have any idea at all what diplomacy meant. Where Teddy Roosevelt advised speaking softly and carrying a big stick, Bush just carried a big stick, and he wanted a bigger stick than everyone else.

Cave-man style, speaking wasn’t an important part of the equation. Pummeling was. And his pummeling took place domestically as well as oversees. Across the ocean, the Old World recoiled in horror at his approach and at times, his behavior. Brute force toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein; it did not win America any friends.

To put it another way, the kings of the Bronze Age, without any oversight by way of public opinion, local or otherwise, indeed, without even a word for or concept of, “diplomacy,” behaved in a more responsible manner towards their neighbors than did President Bush towards ours.

President Obama, who understands diplomacy in the same way the Bronze Age Kings did — that the country is part of a larger community of nations — is accused of apologizing for America simply because he does not continue to beat everyone with the big stick.

Bush’s application of brute force tactics at home operated on the well greased machinery of fear. Fear was the currency of politics from 2001-2008. With control of Congress he steamrollered the cowed opposition when it was offered and proclaimed that the Constitution was “just a goddamned piece of paper.” The Constitution established our government, its powers and limitations. You cannot simply treat it like a set of “guidelines” or “suggestions,” and expect there to be no damage.

And he got away with it. Brute force and ignorance.

Bush is out of office now, his misrule terminated by time, but his politics remain. The Constitution remains a “goddamned piece of paper” to be ignored, to have parts removed or revised or reinterpreted according to ideological needs. The conservatives are still loose in the china shop, destroying it; America is the china shop.

Once upon a time, American politics operated with a level of subtlety that today is glaringly absent. Was an eight-year sustained attack on the Republic enough to destroy our system of government? It’s true that Bush wasn’t the first; it didn’t begin with him. There have been violations of the Constitution by the Executive before, including by no less a hero than Abraham Lincoln, who illegally suspended habeas corpus.

But the eight years of the Bush administration, followed by nearly two years of obstructionism, rejection, and the establishment of a virtual “government in exile” has been without precedent. Think about it: a government in exile implies a legitimate and an illegitimate government. The implication of conservative politics is that only their governance is legitimate and that the Democrats are usurpers. That paradigm does not allow for compromise, for compromise is now something dirty: collaboration.

The idea that only the Republican Party legitimately has American interests at heart is a dangerous one, and America is being beat to death with it.

The American political system assumes that all parties will behave responsibly and continue to try to govern the nation even through disagreement. For one party to completely withdraw from the process and insist on their status as “a government in exile during a time of political usurpation” is something the Founders never foresaw. They proceeded on an assumption of enlightened governance, but enlightenment, for today’s conservatives, is a liberal plot.

When President Obama entered office, his approach to politics was in accordance with the old paradigm. He assumed that the opposition would behave responsibly and reasonably. There would be rancor, but government would continue to function. Instead, the Republicans, despite their complete failure on Election Day ’08, decided to emulate George W. Bush. Lacking any but imagined power, they still proceeded on the assumption that they dictated policy.

They seemed completely ignorant of their loss of public support, of both the executive and representative branches, and operated on the assumption that they could still dictate policy despite their minority position. None of that mattered once they convinced themselves they were the legitimate government. And so they refused to compromise. They refused to talk unless it was to issue their diktat or to say “no.” And they said “no” to literally everything.

When they are not obstructing the functions of government, they simply make things up and bombard the American voter with lies. Tell a big lie and tell it often.

If confronted with undeniable, irrefutable facts simply ignore them and repeat the lie.

It didn’t win them the White House – or Congress in 2008, and it seems unlikely to reward them at the Midterms in 2010.

BFI may not get them back into power, but it can destroy the country.

Is it possible that Republicans believe their own propaganda, or knowing the truth that they do not represent the majority view of the country, they persist in the lie in order not to demoralize their base?

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “’I did that,’ says my memory. ‘I could not have done that,’ says my pride and remains inexorable. Eventually – the memory yields.”

Is this what happens to conservative thinking? Is the need for fact to fit to system so strong that even memory must give way? Something simply has to be true, and therefore is?

I wonder if, one day, a former Tea Party member will stand up, astonished at the destruction they have wrought, and like Madame Roland before the guillotine will cry, “Oh Liberty! Liberty! What crimes are committed in your name!”

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Democrats Chip Away at 40 Years of Radical Pro-Business Legislation

This morning, on a day when a category one hurricane is rushing into the Gulf, a Senate committee voted to eliminate limits on liability that oil companies would face for damages stemming from offshore spills like the one in the Gulf of Mexico. The President signaled his support for higher or no caps on liability for oil companies earlier this month. While it may seem like this is just another meaningless vote, a closer examination reveals a huge paradigm shift under way, and it would be wise for voters to pay attention.

Democrats Try to Protect Fisherman in the Gulf

The Senate Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to eliminate liability caps for oil companies. The change, if approved (it still needs to be debated next month) would apply retroactively to BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf.

Reuters reports:

“The oil spill prompted Democrats to move quickly to eliminate the liability limits. Initially, they were pushing for a $10 billion cap, but were convinced by the Gulf of Mexico spill that a more ambitious approach was necessary.

Senate Republicans blocked earlier efforts to pass this legislation in the full Senate using a fast-track procedure.”

The Republicans have had a hard time deciding where they stand on this issue, but they keep coming out as supporters of BP rather than of the people of the Gulf, as best exemplified with Joe Barton’s apology to BP over the President’s request that they set aside twenty billion dollars in an escrow account for victims.

The President was most likely trying to avoid allowing the fate of Alaska’s Exxon Valdez victims to befall the residents impacted by Deepwater Horizon. In the years after the Valdez, Exxon Mobil attacked the award on several fronts, using both maritime law and the federal Clean Water Act, to argue that they were exempt from punitive damages. The US Supreme Court’s eventual ruling slashed their recovery of punitive damages from about $75,000 apiece to $15,000.

It should be noted that in 2005, the oil and gas industries were exempted from the Clean Water Act under the Bush administration.

The Exxon Valdez victims (32,677 fishermen and other interests ) fought Exxon for over 17 years in court, only to have the court awarded damages (1994) cut significantly due to a Supreme Court decision written by Justice David Souter, who said that the $5 billion punitive award against Exxon for spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in 1989 was excessive.

Justice Souter wrote that since Exxon Valdez “was caused by recklessness, rather than intentional wrongdoing,” Exxon should not be held to paying more than compensation for actual economic harm suffered. This ruling was seen as a huge victory for business.

In 2008, Sarah Palin, then Governor of Alaska, spoke about how disappointed she was over the ruling; however, later when running for VP, she claimed she was a part of holding the oil companies responsible and took credit for bringing Exxon to heel to the people, a stance which embittered Alaskans who still feel the sting of the Supreme Court decision.

“The president supports removing caps on liability for oil companies engaged in offshore drilling,” said White House spokesman Ben LaBolt. “Oil companies should have every incentive to maximize safety and arbitrary caps on liability create a disincentive to achieve that goal.”

When one looks at all of the many assaults on the people’s rights and the environment under the Republican/conservative driven legislation over the majority of the last 40 years, one simply can’t argue that both parties are the same. This small step to remove a liability cap would be a small but important change in the way America does business.

Obama and the Democrats are sending a message to big business that (it should be noted that while Republicans tout “small business owners” as their raison d’être, their actual policies support and enable big business and corporate America) they are not being given a free pass and will be held accountable for their actions. Being held accountable hopefully leads to a company being more inclined to promote safety, which in turn is good for workers and the environment. Accountability is a free market principle, which makes the Republicans desire to give business a pass again a rather remarkable radicalization and bastardization of their own philosophy.

In small, unseen ways, the party you vote for affects your life, the environment, safety standards, the values of social justice, etc every day. While I have often been in favor of balance between the two parties, as I believe in the intrinsic value of rigorous debate, this country is suffering from the implementation of extreme, radical Right values and desperately needs several years of Democratic rule in order to recover some semblance of balance. Being pro-business does not have to necessarily imply that we careen off the cliff into radical, unbalanced legislation such as we have seen over most of the last 40 years, and as became a bitter parody of free market principles left unchecked and unacknowledged by their own party under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Photo Courtesy of www.shawnescoffery.com

27 responses so far

The Bullies on the Right Stoop to Sexism to Oppose Kagan

The Right Takes Aim at Kagan’s Appearance

The Right Wing is revealing both the dearth of their values as well as the utter emptiness in their opposition to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan by focusing on her looks. This is on par with the Republican Party’s oppression of women platform, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise, and yet the fact that they are so graceless as to come out with the hideously appalling criticisms they did is still shocking.

Michael Savage Judges Women's Looks

According to Media Matters:

“In May 11 tweets, right-wing radio host Neal Boortz compared Kagan to Shrek, the cartoon ogre voiced by Mike Myers in the DreamWorks film series.

Boortz: “Has anyone seen Mike Myers and your new Supreme in the same room at the same time?” “

Wow, that’s so relevant and so clever. How does Neal live with all of that wit just dying to get out? Prophesy: Neal Boortz makes millions by selling Boortz Dumb Comment of the Day toilet paper to tee-peers the country wide.

“On the May 10 edition of his radio show, after a caller said Kagan was a “horrendous creature,” Michael Savage replied: “Let’s not, let’s not comment on how her appearance is, because although I find it personally grotesque, there are many who find it attractive, and so we’ll leave that out of it. Let’s avoid that. Let’s talk about her radical, Marxist policies.”

Savage previously said on his April 9 program that Kagan “looks like she belongs in a kosher deli.” Savage added: “Isn’t there such a thing about the aesthetics of the appointee? Don’t they have to look a — I mean, is there a certain aesthetic that you have to — you know, it’s one thing to be a legal scholar, it’s another thing like you have to look at these people. Let’s put it to you this way, she’s not the type of face you’d want to see on a five dollar bill.” Savage later said that Kagan makes Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg look like a “Kazakhstan beauty.””

Gosh, what exactly does a smart legal mind look like, Mikey? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that maybe it can look a lot of ways and yes, Mikey, sometimes they come attached to breasts that are not bared for your consumption. I know, this is utterly unforgivable, for how else can the Right dominate and control women, if we don’t all assume that their lust is our primary goal?

Mikey is further suggesting that there’s a look of belonging in Kosher Deli. Not sure who should be most offended here, but this appears to be some kind of slam against Delis and frankly, we’ve had enough of that kind of bigotry!

It’s obvious these guys can’t find one legitimate thing to pick on, so they are picking on Kagan for her looks because she’s a woman, and that’s what the bullies on the Right do. They pick on minorities for being minorities, twisting their juvenile knife of judgment into the political discourse like the schoolyard bullies they are.

“In a May 11 tweet, HumanEvents.com editor in chief Jason Mattera wrote: “HumanEvents.com’s Mattera: Kagan, Napolitano, Sotomayor all “look like linebackers for the New York JETS.””

I’m just throwing stuff out there, but I think Jason’s fear of women with a brain makes him see them as larger than himself, which is threatening to him because in the world of Patriarchy, size is power and power is on top. Clearly Jason doesn’t want a woman on top. Good to know — not that there was much threat of that happening with any reasonable woman.

“May 10 post headlined “Obama to Pick Elena ‘Butch’ Kagan For Supreme Court,” Jawa Report’s Howie stated, “On the bright side it appears she may be against limiting the number of calories in fast food.” Jawa Report: “Butch” Kagan “may be against limiting the number of calories in fast food.””

Aren’t you just enthralled by the brilliant legal critiques here? I know I am. Also, too, it’s adorable how Howie is so ‘80’s with his criticisms. Butch went out a while ago, but hey, this is all part of their America that they want back so badly, so let them stew in their 80’s retread smears of desperation.

If they had an idea, they wouldn’t have to resort to sexism to mount their opposition. Any time a group or individual has to stoop this low, the opposition they are fighting has already won. Desperation begets lowest common denominator meanie behavior. Let the knuckle-draggers simmer in childish rage as we leave them in the dust of their failed version of a patriarchal America where only they had power. Progress has come to America, and she may or may not look like a Deli.

9 responses so far

Kagan’s Anti-Corporate Past is the Real Reason for GOP Opposition

Is the GOP being honest in their critique of Kagan? The round up of Conservative’s arguments against Kagan appears to be baseless, hypocritical and perhaps grounded in her fight against corporate influence on elections.

Elena Kagan, a covert liberal?

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) announced opposition to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan based on her lack of vetting just hours after President Obama selected her Monday to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. In 2009 Kagan was confirmed with bipartisan support as the first female solicitor general of the United States.

CNN reports:

“”As with her nomination to serve as Solicitor General, I remain concerned about Elena Kagan’s record,” Inhofe said in a statement shortly after Obama announced her as his second pick for the high court. “Now as a nominee to the Supreme Court, her lack of judicial experience and her interpretation of the Constitution also play an important role in my decision to once again oppose her nomination. The position for which she has been nominated has lifetime tenure, and it is concerning that the President has placed such trust in a nominee that has not been properly vetted through a judicial career, having worked mostly in academia and never before as a judge.””

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also went on record to note Kagan’s “lack of judicial experience and short time as solicitor general.”

The GOP does not have a leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing a candidate over “lack of vetting”. It was just a year and a half ago that they were calling any questions of then Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s lack of experience “sexism”, and their epic failure to vet her was revealed for the world to see over the painful course of the month and a half campaign.

By most accounts, Kagan is a moderate who deeply disappoints liberals, with the New York Times noting:

“The selection of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be the nation’s 112th justice extends a quarter-century pattern in which Republican presidents generally install strong conservatives on the Supreme Court while Democratic presidents pick candidates who often disappoint their liberal base…..

Ms. Kagan addressed the point herself 15 years ago in the University of Chicago Law Review: “Herein lies one of the mysteries of modern confirmation politics: given that the Republican Party has an ambitious judicial agenda and the Democratic Party has next to none, why is the former labeled the party of judicial restraint and the latter the party of judicial activism?””

Given this, it’s tough to see the already gearing up GOP opposition as anything other than more opposition for opposition’s sake. They will, of course, frame their opposition under the guise that Obama is trying to radicalize the court by turning it into an activist court, much as the Right has been actually doing in their blatant attempts to stack the court with Justices who might reverse some of the laws (e.g., Roe v Wade) they find most egregious. It is this argument that you will hear the most during these confirmation hearings. Here’s an example of how it appears after going through the spin machine:

The Wall Street Journal:

“In selecting Elena Kagan to be the country’s next Supreme Court Justice, President Obama has tapped the legal world’s version of himself: a skillful politician whose cautious public persona belies a desire to transform the court and shape a new Constitutional liberalism.”

Conservatives are afraid that Obama will transform the court, but he is supposed to impact the court, since he is the Constitutionally elected President and appointing nominees who reflect his values is one of the manifestations of the voters choice of him. Once again, Conservative opposition also comes down to their bitterness over losing the election and their scathing embarrassment of the poor implementation of their ideas during the Bush/Cheney reign.

But perhaps the real issue behind their opposition is Kagans’ record for standing up for the rights of ordinary citizens and shareholders against corporations in her work as solicitor general. Kagan argued Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission before the Supreme Court, defending campaign finance reform against special interests spending. If so, this is at least an ideological argument that they could make, but one which would require them to come out pro-corporation at a time of great populist anger directed at Wall Street.

Obama said during the nomination ceremony that Kagan had an “understanding of law, not as an intellectual exercise or words on a page, but as it affects the lives of ordinary people.” In this way, Obama is reinforcing the choice he made in Sotomayor – another person who is bringing her real-world experience to the court, in addition to her legal expertise. It may be this that the GOP objects to as well, for the court has long been comprised of a majority of white, male Americans.

If confirmed, Kagan will be the fourth woman ever seated on the nation’s highest court. And, for the first time, the Supreme Court would have three women serving together. While I would not be in favor of Kagan just because she is a woman, she does seem to encompass the President’s pragmatic and open-minded approach to the world.

The Republican Party is the party most likely to attempt to use the court for activism, in their relentless attempts to turn back the clock on social justice issues and their pro-corporate agenda. One wonders when the Republican Party’s constant cries of “Wolf!” will finally wear thin on a constituency who still trust and approve of this President and are more worried about paying their bills than they are a supposed radicalization of the Supreme Court.

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Right Wing Media Attacks Elena Kagan with Allegations of Socialism and Bad Driving

May 10 2010 Published by under Featured News, U.S. Supreme Court

One of the tell tale signs of how a Supreme Court nominee is going to fare is always the initial criticism of the opposition. So far the right wing has hit President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagen with allegations that she a socialist (Glenn Beck), hates the military (Bill Kristol), and is a bad driver (National Review). I didn’t realizing that driving was a constitutional issue.

First, up we have Glenn Beck, who had to turn Kagan into a Red via Media Matters:

Beck pointed to Kagan’s Master’s thesis about Socialism in New York City 1900-1930 as evidence that she is a Socialist. Beck claimed that she endorsed Socialism in her thesis,”Then she issues a call to action. Her call for Socialists to unite in order to, “defeat the entrenched foe.” Later Beck concluded, “It is true that you don’t necessarily endorse this in your thesis, but how many times do we have to hear this from people. I mean Hillary Clinton wrote it on Saul Alinsky. I mean how many times do we have to hear this. Wouldn’t you love somebody who is really not interested who wrote their thesis on George Washington.”

Then we have Bill Kristol who has flip-flopped and now claims that Kagan has hositility towards the military, “For me, the key obstacle to Elena Kagan’s confirmation is pt. 5 in Ed Whelan’s NRO post, which is also the question raised by Peter Berkowitz in these pages several years ago and by Peter Beinart just recently: Her hostility to the U.S. military.”

This so called opposition is based on some of the discriminatory recruitment policies of the U.S. military, but Kristol labels any opposition to a military policy as hostility towards the military, “Many important people are complicit in what Kagan regards as the “moral injustice of the first order” of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The only ones Kagan sought to make pay a price were those serving the ranks of the military. So Kagan needs to be asked: Why doesn’t this reflect hostility to the military?”

Kristol seems to have forgotten that he endorsed Kagan as a Supreme Court nominee of the April 11, 2010 edition of Fox News Sunday:

The cherry on top of these attacks is the allegation in the National Review that Kagan is a bad driver. According to National Review’s Ed Whelan, “Kagan … is such a product of New York City that she did not learn to drive until her late 20s. According to her friend John Q. Barrett, a law professor at St. John’s University, it is a skill she has not yet mastered.” Of course, the true implication that Whelan is making is Kagan is that Kagan is liberal New York City elitist, who is out of touch with “real America” because she didn’t learn to drive until she was in her late 20s.

This is the best criticism that the right has to offer? Beck throwing out the concept of academic research, so that he can label Kagan a Socialist, which by the way, no self respecting academic institution would ever allow a call to action in a Master’s thesis. Beck intentionally took her thesis out of its academic contest to boost his claims of socialism. However he is not as bad as Kristol who seems to be suffering from short term memory loss, because he doesn’t remember endorsing Kagan for the Supreme Court a month ago, but Kristol is not as bad as Whelan, who was reduced to spouting out stereotypes about women and city dwellers, to argue that she is not fit for the Supreme Court.

Kagan was in the running last time before Obama selected Sotomayor, so the right has had plenty of time to come up with a line of attack on Kagan, yet they have nothing. I suspect that most of the serious criticism of Kagan could come from the Left as Obama will be replacing a true liberal with someone who holds very conservative views on presidential power and terrorism. Liberals will be much less enthused with Kagan than moderates, and If confirmed she will move the court will move further right on some issues.

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The White House Defends Obama’s Supreme Court Criticism

Jan 31 2010 Published by under U.S. Supreme Court, White House

Senior White House advisor David Axelrod was on Meet the Press today, where defended Obama’s criticism of the recent Supreme Court decision on campaign finance at the State of the Union. Axelrod said, “I certainly think it was appropriate for the president to talk about the threat that this decision brings to our democracy.”

Here is the video:

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Moderator David Gregory asked, “Was it appropriate for the president to criticize the Supreme Court during the State of the Union? And do you consider Justice Alito’s response to be appropriate or inappropriate?”

Axelrod answered, “Well, I certainly think it was appropriate for the president to talk about the threat that this decision brings to our democracy. Basically, it’s going to be open season for special interest groups and big corporations to participate in our elections with all their might and all their money. And that includes foreign–domestic branches of foreign-owned businesses, even government–foreign government-owned businesses. In fact, some of the, some of those companies signaled on Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal, that they’re going to lobby vigorously against any effort to rein this in.”

He continued, “One thing we ought to be able to agree on, and, and maybe we can here today, is that we shouldn’t have foreign-owned businesses and foreign–you know, Hugo Chavez should not be playing in American political campaigns. And I, for the life of me, don’t understand why we wouldn’t make that illegal.”

In an age of multinational corporate interests the scenario that Axelrod laid out is not an unrealistic possibility. Of course corporations are going to lobby against any attempts to right the wrong carried out by this decision legislatively. The ruling gave corporations, all corporations unlimited ability to influence elections.

Obama’s criticism at the State of the Union was not only justified, but the president had a moral obligation to directly address the Supreme Court. The Court has opened the door to the biggest threat to the American electoral system in our lifetime, and it is the constitutional duty of the two remaining branches of our government to protect the integrity of our electoral process.

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Racism: the Latest GOP Spin Sensation

Jan 11 2010 Published by under Republican Party, U.S. Supreme Court

Thanks to some seriously inappropriate words from Democratic Senator Majority Leader, Harry Reid, the GOP are up in arms while trying to spin their racist behavior on to the Democratic Party.

During the 2008 Presidential Primary, Senator Harry Reid made the mistake of saying basically that then Senator Barack Obama was electable because he was a light skinned African American who did not speak with a Negro dialect unless he chose to do so.

Now Senator Reid has expressed his embarrassment and apologized directly to the President and Obama has accepted it. Why????? Because President Barack Obama knows that Reid’s heart is in the right place and it has been demonstrated with his hard work and dedication to the President and his policies.

He has worked tirelessly for healthcare reform and other policies for the President while battling the GOP for hours and hours, days and days, months and months but coming through with an outcome in the end one step at a time, but all the while bringing us closer and closer to healthcare reform in his support and commitment to the President and the people of the United States. The President says, “The book is closed as far as he is concerned.” I think we as a country are lucky to have Senator Reid.

Well, the GOP are in a uproar demanding Reid’s resignation and position of Senate Majority Leader calling the words and statements made “foul” and that the Dems have a double standard when it comes to racism by fellow Democrats. And the lead attack dog is African American RNC chairman Michael Steele who in my opinion, is frequently used as what is called in the African American community, an “Uncle Tom”, for the GOP.

He has been accused of being jealous of President Obama and takes pride in attempting to upstage him. He’s a bit of a hothead and certainly no Colin Powell but he was elected to be the GOP’s representation match for Barack Obama. There’s only one problem, there’s only one Barack Obama.

The problem with this claim of racism is not really much more than the usual tactics of the GOP. They just believe that this time they actually have some truth to stand on for a change. Now if there were not so many other dramatic serious policies and issues to be dealt with, this would be an excellent time period to delve into race relations whole heartedly because it keeps coming up and will continue to come up as long as Barack Obama holds the highest office in the land.

Racial issues have many layers and many subtleties that most don’t understand. It is never merely black and white. The GOP keep bringing up the incident with former Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, that they believe is the same example as this one with Reid. That is not true. Trent Lott was speaking of Strom Thurmond’s leadership as a segregationist.

Senator Reid has a history of being pro civil rights. He made a comment that was stupid and of his age group but it was supposedly off the record and was actually a compliment from his perspective of the then young senator Barack Obama from Illinois. You have to be able to discern the difference in race relations and most are not experienced or knowledgeable enough to do so. So it is all piled in to one bundle and then racism is shouted to the loudest degree.

Well, the real racism with much depth and longevity has been coming since Barack Obama was elected President and primarily coming from most of the GOP and the right wing and fringe of the party. The disrespect to the office of the Presidency on this level has not been seen before. It is supported by the media and the GOP, the birthers, the teabaggers, the rightwing militia, etc.

They may not actually use words that are considered racist but the mentality is totally deep rooted in racism. The claims of “Give Me Back My Country” and “Don’t Let the Government Mess with My Medicare” and the congressman who was out of order and called out to the President in a formal State of the Union Address, “You lie!” He should have been fired but a mere apology was sufficient. But that was actually racism.

When the President’s image is painted as a “Joker”,” Hitler” or worse yet “hanging from a tree”; that is real racism, this president has had more death threats than any other president. Now people want to say it is about his policies but it is actually racism! No one wants to claim it.

Even former president Bill Clinton, as much as he is loved by the African/American community, fell into the trap of being accused of racism. It is easy to go there.

What you have to examine and research are the person’s deeds and commitments. Senator Ted Kennedy was committed to Civil Rights for all and that is why he was a staunch supporter of Barack Obama for President and to carry on his commitment to healthcare reform. This is what Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid is doing and we need him.

The GOP simply wants another excuse to kill healthcare reform and bring down the Democratic Party. They are merely back to business as usual with another distraction. It only takes a moment. Again, the GOP’s expertise is in taking the focus off real progress while they try to sneak back in to power by any means necessary

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Delusional Michael Steele Promises Victory over Specter in PA

Apr 28 2009 Published by under U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Steele is in full damage control mode after Arlen Specter left the GOP. Steele claimed that Specter is a left winger who the Republicans look forward to beating in 2010. Yeah, Republicans are going to beat Specter the same way that Steele promised they were going to win the House special election in New York.

Here is Steele’s statement, “Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not. Let’s be honest-Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record. Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first.”

Steele doesn’t realize that the Democrats aren’t going to field a candidate against Specter, so the Democrats aren’t going to beat him, and guess what? Pat Toomey and the Republicans have no shot against him in 2010. Specter is wildly popular with Democrats and Independents. In a March Quinnipiac Poll, Specter got a 71% approval rating from Democrats, and a 47%-29% disapproval rating from Republicans.

Specter himself admitted that the likely primary loss to Toomey factored in to his decision. Recent polling revealed that Specter was trailing Toomey by 23-25 points. The reality is that in the new Republican Party, Specter is a lefty, which says more about the state of the GOP than it does, Arlen Specter.
We all should have seen this move coming. Here in PA, political observers were starting to wonder why Democrats weren’t lining up their candidate for next year yet. I think we know why now.

Specter will cruise to victory as a Democrat. Michael Steele doesn’t understand Pennsylvania politics. Extremists don’t win in the state. Pennsylvania is a moderate state. Bob Casey is a pro-life Democrat, while Arlen Specter was a pro-choice Republican, which perfectly sums up Pennsylvania politics.

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