In fact, Obama's carefully-phrased comment to the justices highlights two critical aspects of the majority's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, both of which constitute dangerous and revolutionary shifts in long-settled law:
1. The Court ruled that the First Amendment makes no distinction among speakers -- that the identity of a speaker makes no difference for purposes of government regulation of speech. As Justice Stevens pointed out in his dissenting opinion, this logic leads to some remarkable conclusions: "Such an assumption would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by 'Tokyo Rose' during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders." Stevens also clearly explained that the majority's logic "would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans." This is truly an unprecedented reading of the Bill of the Rights that could have consequences that reach even beyond campaign finance law. By eliminating any distinction among speakers, which, as Obama noted, has been recognized for at least a century, the Court hinted that any regulation that distinguishes between corporations and individuals may be problematic -- raising the question of what other rights currently reserved for citizens the Court might soon extend to corporations. As Stevens noted in his dissent, under the majority's logic, "it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech."
2. To make matters worse, the Court dramatically redefined the meaning and standard of "corruption," ruling that only the strictest and most direct forms of corruption -- e.g. bribery -- are prohibited, and not, as was previously the standard, any "appearance of undue influence." This critical component of last week's decision redefined the boundaries of what constitutes corruption and made influence by special interests significantly more difficult to prove. More important, the ruling, as Obama precisely indicated and as Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) fervently reiterated this morning on the Senate floor, appears to sweep away vital barriers that were keeping foreign special interests, such as Toyota, from manipulating American elections. If all speakers are treated equally under the First Amendment, and the only corruption Congress can prohibit is direct vote-trading for money, then there is no reason why foreign companies with a U.S.-presence couldn't spend endless amounts of money to influence U.S. elections. Under the logic of the Supreme Court's decision, just as Exxon can now spend millions to oppose a candidate who, for example, supports the climate bill, so, too, could Toyota or other foreign companies.
If Justice Alito wanted to disclaim any of this, or if he thought that the majority's opinion was not as far-reaching as Justice Stevens' powerful dissenting opinion demonstrated, he should have written a concurring opinion. He should have explained how the logic of the Court's opinion doesn't change course on over a century of campaign finance law that seeks to limit corporate influence in elections and showed us that the Court's formalistic approach to the First Amendment and corporations won't lead to foreign corporate spending in U.S. elections. But muttering at the State of the Union clarifies nothing.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
One reason that our educational system is probably weaker than most other nations is the diversity of our citizenry. We take in, and have taken in since the inception of the nation, immigrants from all over the world - including nations that don't have much history of educating their youth, meaning folks without the culture (like Japan) that have an intense drive to pursue learning.
We also have weakness because of a fatal flaw in the reasoning of those guiding the schools - they are convinced that everyone can, and wants to, and should learn the same stuff. Here in New York, with few exceptions, all high school students are required to take "Regents" classes that focus on more advanced language skills, algebra and geometry, Biology and earth science, etc. There's little room for the children whose interest focuses on technology, welding, auto mechanics, or even digging holes in the ground. In some districts, music and art are also after-thoughts. In many other nations around the world, children are sorted out, at some point, to get an education in a field that they are suited for and have an interest in.
Another reason our schools are weak is the religious influence that wants to dull the intellectual pursuits of science and increase the pursuit of subjects best left to harlequins and preachers. If your going to focus on crap like creationism and astrology, your children are going to look pretty dumb on tests that ask how long ago dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Now we've got at least one Federal judge who's going to provide sanctuary for the nincompoops that don't want to learn what the better educational systems are offering. Most likely, religious nuts who want their children to believe that the only true text is a dusty old book written over two-thousand years ago by an imaginary God that nobody can see, hear or touch.
The following is from the J-Walk blog...
A US judge has granted political asylum to a German family who said they had fled the country to avoid persecution for home schooling their children.Oh goodie - some more anti-science nuts to throw into the mix.
In the first reported case of its kind, Tennessee immigration judge Lawrence Burman ruled that the family of seven have a legitimate fear of prosecution for their beliefs. Germany requires parents to enrol their children in school in most cases and has levied fines against those who educate their children at home.
Christians Uwe Romeike, a piano teacher, and his wife, Hannelore, moved to Morristown, Tennessee, in 2008 after German authorities fined them thousands of euros for keeping their children out of school and sent police to escort them to classes, Romeike said. They had been holding classes in their home.
Along with thousands of torture victims, political dissidents, members of religious minorities and other persecuted groups who win political asylum every year, the Romeike family will now be free to live and work in the US.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Susie Madrak posted a great editorial over at Crooks and liars - I've re posted the first part of it here - click the link to finish it...
I said back during the primaries that, as a former executive recruiter, I just didn't see enough executive ability in Obama to make him an effective president. (People retorted that his well-run campaign proved me wrong. I didn't even try to explain that candidates don't run the campaigns - and if they do, it's the sign of a poorly-run campaign). But whatever.
When I used to recruit for C-level jobs (CEO, COO, CTO, etc.), I was often flooded with resumes from people who'd had similar titles, but no strategic experience -- and you could tell after a short conversation. They hadn't been in leadership positions, hadn't redesigned their organizations, designed any new initiatives, hadn't really moved the ball down the field at all. They thought that simply having and keeping a job with a high-level title was enough, and couldn't even conceive there was more to being a strategist. They were process people -- caretakers.
But they just wanted it so much. At first, I'd talk to my manager: "Couldn't we give this guy a shot?" But he finally drummed it into me: Putting someone in a high-level job for which he or she's not suited doesn't help anyone, least of all that new hire.
You can't will yourself into a strategic mindset. Either you have that kind of executive personality and thinking ability, or you don't. And I think it's pretty clear at this point that Obama doesn't:WASHINGTON — President Obama signaled on Wednesday that he might be willing to scale back his proposed health care overhaul to a version that could attract bipartisan support, as the White House and Congressional Democrats grappled with a political landscape transformed by the Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race.
Now there's an update - cooler heads prevail - but they still knuckle under to parents who like their kids ignorant and stupid.
From Gawker - click the link to read more.
The dictionary that was banned from a California school for having the definitions of sex words in it is back to corrupt our youth. Although parents will have the option of denying their kids access to this filthy smut.
There were two great joys for us back in the day - looking up dirty words in the dictionary and browsing magazines for the bra ads. We had no access to computers and porn.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Now the clown of a conservative who masterminded that job has been arrested while trying to bug the phones of a U.S. Senator. This guy was probably born a loser.
4 charged in phone scheme at La. senator's officeRead more HERE.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A conservative activist who posed as a pimp to target the community-organizing group ACORN and the son of a federal prosecutor were among four men arrested and accused of trying to tamper with phones at Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office.
Activist James O'Keefe, 25, recorded two of the other suspects with his cell phone as they walked into the office dressed like telephone repairman and said they needed to fix problems with the phone system, according to an FBI affidavit.
I came home and found this on the web...
1. A Democratic congressman walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve your kind here.” The Democratic congressman whimpers, “You’re right, I’m sorry, I never should’ve come in here, it’s all my fault, boo-hoo, please, bend me over, I’ll do whatever you want because I’m a little punk.” The bartender says, “Jesus Christ, you people are pathetic.”
2. What do you call a dead baby with no arms and no legs wearing a sombrero? I don’t know, but whatever you call it, it’s got about 1,000% more fight in it than these jackass Democrats.You can read the rest of the "jokes" HERE.
But the cruelty is not limited to us - it is world wide and it is often a manifestation of some perverted belief in a cruel and punishing God. It is based in ignorance and superstition and it makes me sick to my stomach.
The following is from the J-Walk Blog.
In Bangladesh: Rape victim receives 101 lashes for becoming pregnant.
A 16-year-old girl who was raped in Bangladesh has been given 101 lashes for conceiving during the assault.
The girl's father was also fined and warned the family would be branded outcasts from their village if he did not pay.
According to human rights activists, the girl, who was quickly married after the attack, was divorced weeks later after medical tests revealed she was pregnant.
Her rape emerged after her pregnancy test and Muslim elders in the village issued a fatwa insisting that the girl be kept in isolation until her family agreed to corporal punishment.
Her rapist was pardoned by the elders.
I wonder how they came up with the number 101? Is it really an even 100, plus "one for good measure?"
From Boing Boing...
Southern California's Menifee Union school district has banned the Merriam Webster's 10th edition from use in fourth and fifth grade classes, over this salacious definition of "oral sex": "oral stimulation of the genitals". "It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature," district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper.
A good article on Boing Boing...
Tishman Speyer Properties and its co-investors just walked away from the largest real-estate deal in US history, simply defaulting on the properties and the loans that bought them and leaving their creditors in the lurch. The properties, Manhattan's 56-building, 11,232-unit Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, were "under water" (worth less than the debt hanging over them), so the corporate developers elected to simply jettison them.
They're not alone -- Morgan Stanley recently dumped five San Francisco office buildings, stiffing their creditors when the buildings went underwater.
As a business-strategy it makes sense: why repay loans secured by assets that are worth less than the loans? Just turn the assets over and cut your losses.
But individuals are shamed, bullied, and counselled not to do this when it's their private homes that fall underwater. Everyone from former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to credit counsellors to the Mortgage Bankers Association tell you that defaulting on underwater property is low and dishonest (unless you're a Wall Street player -- then it's just "protecting shareholder value").
Monday, January 25, 2010
Just when I'm beginning to think that none of the stupid political nonsense in this country can surprise me any more, here comes something new.
South Carolina: Your politicians stink. Mark "All Over Your Appalachian Trail" Sanford's right-hand man, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, refuses to apologize for a comment comparing poor people to "stray animals," arguing we should not "feed" them lest "they breed."
Here's what Bauer said in front of a crowd of people in Greenville:
In government, we are too often giving a handout instead of a hand up. [...] My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals You know why? Because they breed.
You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better.
The State—a newspaper that is either really good, or just has a good beat, since South Carolina politicians have neither self-control nor discursive filters—reports that Bauer refuses to apologize. Though his words were rough, he says, the message was true. Which is weird, because even if you forgive him for comparing poor people to flea-bag alley cats that "don't know any better" than to blindly rub their genitals together until flea-bag babies spring from their loins—if you actually follow his argument to its logical conclusion? It's that we should starve poor people until their reproductive organs cease to function, which is not only totally messed up, but isn't even efficient.Bauer's "stray animals" rant came on the same day that South Carolina reported a jobless rate of 12.6 percent. Some South Carolinians find this coincidence distressing
"This is out of love and compassion," Bauer said. "If I have to take a hit, then fine. ... I will take short-term pain for long-term gain."
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Sitting together on a train was Obama, George W. Bush, a little old lady, and a young blonde girl with large breasts.
The train goes into a dark tunnel and a few seconds later there is the sound of a loud slap.
When the train emerges from the tunnel, Obama has a bright red hand print on his cheek. No one speaks.
The old lady thinks:
Obama must have groped the blonde in the dark, and she slapped him.
The blonde girl thinks:
Obama must have tried to grope me in the dark, but missed and fondled the old lady and she slapped him.
Bush must have groped the blonde in the dark. She tried to slap him but missed and got me instead.
George Bush thinks:
I can’t wait for another tunnel, so I can smack Obama again.
The moral of this story...
- Republicans spend a lot of time thinking about grabbing women's breasts without their consent.
- Republicans like to see people get beat up.
- George W. Bush is nothing more than a thug.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I've been writing for years that the core Republican value boils down to this: cheap, disposable labor.
They want the workforce battered to the point where they will be grateful for any kind of work, no matter how badly paid or how poor the working conditions - and they want you stripped of any rights in the workplace that might slow them down while making money.
I was reminded of that this basic truth this morning when I read George Will's latest column:
Today's unemployment rate is 10 percent; the underemployment rate—the unemployed, plus those employed part time, plus those discouraged persons who have stopped looking for jobs—is 17.3 percent. Almost 40 percent of the unemployed have been so for seven months or more—which is not surprising: Congress continues to extend eligibility for unemployment benefits, apparently oblivious to the truth that when you subsidize something you get more of it.
He's not talking about the Wall Street Bankers who got us into this mess, of course. He's chiding people who are on unemployment for not taking anything they can get, under any conditions.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Religious nuts have a common cause in Haiti - convert the heathens while they suffer and are vulnerable.
Scientologists have mobilized to seize on the promotional and recruitment opportunities presented by the horror going on in Haiti, and John Travolta has personally arranged to fly "volunteer ministers" to Haiti to inflict his junk science on victims there.
Anywhere people are suffering, Scientology's yellow-shirted "volunteer ministers" can be found lurking near news cameras and claiming to help people with their bullshit technology. They performed "purification rundowns" on recovery workers sifting through the ruins of the World Trade Center after 9/11, administered "touch assists" to victims of the tsunami, distributed literature after the Virginia Tech shooting, and are on the ground in Haiti right now warning the starving, dehydrated populace about the dangers of psychiatry.
April 18 is a worldwide prayer day. God made a big mistake when he made Trig Palin, and if enough people pray to him, God will fix his mistake: Pray 4 Trig.
Q: Why Trig Palin?
A: Trig Palin is well known in the media; people all over the world know just who he is, and they already care about him. It will be much easier for them to sincerely pray for someone they care for, instead of what to them is a random name.
Also, it is known publicly that Trig Palin indeed has Down Syndrome. Science has no way to undo this condition, which is the result of an extra chromosome; but God can. When Trig Palin is found to be miraculously healed, everyone but the most hardened atheist will have to acknowledge God's Majesty!
And don't miss the discussion forum. More than 1,300 topics have been posted -- and 99% of them are spam.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Once again, thanks to the J-Walk Blog for this post.
Albert Mohler is head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he even has a radio show. He asks, Does God Hate Haiti?
Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God's direct and observable judgment.
God does judge the nations -- all of them -- and God will judge the nations. His judgment is perfect and his justice is sure. He rules over all the nations and his sovereign will is demonstrated in the rising and falling of nations and empires and peoples. Every molecule of matter obeys his command, and the earthquakes reveal his reign -- as do the tides of relief and assistance flowing into Haiti right now.
A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God could not have prevented it from happening.
He concludes:Good ole Christian-style babble. They can pretty much conclude anything they want. The more nonsense they spew, the more followers they get.
In other words, the earthquake reminds us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real message of hope. The cross of Christ declares that Jesus loves Haiti -- and the Haitian people are the objects of his love.
From the Borowitz Report
NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) - In the wake of his comments about the earthquake in Haiti, televangelist Pat Robertson has become a "public relations nightmare" and a "gynormous embarrassment to me, personally," God said today.In a rare press conference at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, the usually reclusive Almighty said that He was taking the unusual step of airing His feelings in public because "enough is enough."
"I pray that his TV show would just go away, but of course, when you're me there's no one to pray to," God said, to the laughter of the packed room of reporters.
A San Diego school vice-principal saw an 11-year-old's home science project (a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics), decided it was a bomb, wet himself, put the school on lockdown, had the bomb-squad come out to
destroyX-ray the student's invention and search his parents' home, and then magnanimously decided not to discipline the kid (though he did recommend that the child and his parents get counselling to help them overcome their anti-social science behavior). When police and the Metro Arson Strike Team responded, they also found electrical components in the student's backpack, Luque said. After talking to the student, it was decided about 1 p.m. to evacuate the school as a precaution while the item was examined. Students were escorted to a nearby playing field, and parents were called and told they could come pick up their children.
A MAST robot took pictures of the device and X-rays were evaluated. About 3 p.m., the device was determined to be harmless, Luque said...The student will not be prosecuted, but authorities were recommending that he and his parents get counseling, the spokesman said. The student violated school policies, but there was no criminal intent, Luque said.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Gov. David Paterson's
1415-year-old son was arrestedtaken into custody for possession of a stolen credit card after cops caught him shooting dice near his Upper West Side school, law enforcement sources confirm.
The governor’s son, a student at Beacon High School on W. 61st St., was arrested at about 3 p.m. and taken to the 20th Precinct.
Cops spotted the teen shooting dice on the sidewalk near his school. When officers searched his belongings, they found a credit card in someone else’s name, traced it and determined it had been stolen, the source said.
Paterson's press office has not yet returned a call seeking comment.
The DN's Rocco Parascandola and Bill Hutchinson are working on this developing story.
UPDATE: Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein released the following statement:"Earlier today, Governor Paterson's son was taken into the 20th precinct and subsequently released to his parents. The Governor and the First Lady ask that their privacy is respected during this personal time."
UPDATE2: An aide to the governor called in to say: "The governor's son was not arrested. No criminal charges were filed." (Hence, the change in headline).
Monday, January 11, 2010
TSA lied: naked-scanners can store and transmit imagesfrom Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
You know those airport scanners that can see through your clothes, offering an intimate look at your junk and your lovehandles and every other part of you that you keep between you, your spouse, your doctor and the bathroom mirror? You know how the TSA swore up and down that these machines didn't store and couldn't transmit the compromising photos of your buck-naked self?
Just more US government employees doing Al Qaeda's business: undermining the quality of life in the "free" world. Osama's still free, how about you?
Read more by clicking on the link above.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
|From Acerbic Politics|
|From Acerbic Politics|
Saturday, January 09, 2010
- Immediately flown to Detroit to examine the underwear personally.
- Ordered an immediate cessation of domestic underwear production and imposed a ban on imports of all underwear.
- Bombed any facility overseas developing undergarments of any sort (aka, Weapons of Ass Destruction)
- Declared another war on Iraq.
- Put Vice President Biden in a secure, undisclosed location.
- Demanded that John McCain finally reveal his secret plan to capture Osama bin Laden
- Lowered the flag to half-staff on all Federal buildings to honor the victims of Northwest Flight 253.
- Showed leadership by no longer wearing underpants on Air Force One.
- Asked Donald Rumsfeld to take over the Department of Homeland Security
- Declared Mission Accomplished.
Solution to Airport Security, Health Care Woes
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) In what some in the White House are calling a "win/win" solution to the nation's airport security and health care reform problems, starting next month U.S. airports will begin conducting full body scans that will double as annual physical checkups.
Read the whole post HERE.