This Week’s Completely Ignored Historic Senate Debate on Plutocracy and Democracy

By: Wednesday September 10, 2014 6:50 pm

An important debate is underway in the United States Senate this week, but if you are, like most, a casual consumer of the news, you probably wouldn’t have heard about it. This is no indictment of your news-gathering habits, but rather of what passes for mass communication in modern America, in other words, the mainstream media’s systematic suppression of important information.

 

Government Tries to Alter Court Transcript in EFF NSA Spying Case

By: Tuesday September 9, 2014 3:13 pm

This is one of the crazier things I’ve seen in a while, and as someone who works with a lot of whistleblowers, that’s saying something.

The EFF is suing the NSA and other government agencies in the case Jewel v. NSA, attempting to stop illegal dragnet surveillance. According to EFF there was a hearing on June 6 in a crowded courtroom, but after it was over the government asked to have “classified information” that they had presented in open court removed from the court transcript. And they wanted to do so in secret so it would never be a matter of public record.

Moreover, EFF was under a gag order not to speak about it until today

Who Rules Washington?

By: Monday August 4, 2014 7:15 pm

As every schoolchild knows, there are three check-and-balance branches of the U.S. government: the executive, Congress, and the judiciary. That’s bedrock Americanism and the most basic high school civics material. Only one problem: it’s just not so.

During the Cold War years and far more strikingly in the twenty-first century, the U.S. government has evolved. It sprouted a fourth branch: the national security state, whose main characteristic may be an unquenchable urge to expand its power and reach. Admittedly, it still lacks certain formal prerogatives of governmental power. Nonetheless, at a time when Congress and the presidency are in a check-and-balance ballet of inactivity that would have been unimaginable to Americans of earlier eras, the Fourth Branch is an ever more unchecked and unbalanced power center in Washington. Curtained off from accountability by a penumbra of secrecy, its leaders increasingly are making nitty-gritty policy decisions and largely doing what they want, a situation illuminated by a recent controversy over the possible release of a Senate report on CIA rendition and torture practices.

All of this is or should be obvious, but remains surprisingly unacknowledged in our American world. The rise of the Fourth Branch began at a moment of mobilization for a global conflict, World War II. It gained heft and staying power in the Cold War of the second half of the twentieth century, when that other superpower, the Soviet Union, provided the excuse for expansion of every sort.

Tomgram: Peter Van Buren: Undue Process in Washington

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 6:26 pm

You can’t get more serious about protecting the people from their government than the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, specifically in its most critical clause: “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In 2011, the White House ordered the drone-killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without trial. It claimed this was a legal act it is prepared to repeat as necessary. Given the Fifth Amendment, how exactly was this justified? Thanks to a much contested, recently released but significantly redacted — about one-third of the text is missing — Justice Department white paper providing the basis for that extrajudicial killing, we finally know: the president in Post-Constitutional America is now officially judge, jury, and executioner.

CIA, Senate and a Constitutional Crisis Resolved (not in favor of the Constitution)

By: Friday July 11, 2014 3:50 pm

The CIA attacks on the Senate, designed to impede, alter or influence the outcome of a report on torture, coupled with a lack of concern from the White House and the Department of Justice, as well as apparently by the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee itself, are another example of our new world, a Post-Constitutional America where the old rules of an aging republic no longer apply.

Late Night: Why Millennials Don’t Vote and What To Do About It

By: Monday June 9, 2014 8:00 pm

More than half of respondents in this survey, released by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, said they think elected officials don’t share their priorities, and almost two-thirds said elected officials seem motivated by selfish reasons. Less than a quarter of the millennials polled said they will definitely be voting in November

Systemic Reform for the Complete Idiot

By: Sunday April 6, 2014 4:30 pm

The Supreme Court’s latest terrible decision in McCutcheon v. FEC took away the spending limits individuals can influence/bribe politicians with. We officially have a government of the crooks, by the crooks, for the highest bidders. Half of these crooks don’t want to see anyone cast another bothersome vote. You are serfs, that pray you don’t get thrown from the land call home after working for a pittance and degrading yourself in a food service economy. We are ruled by the nobility, warped by the clergy, and you are now in a class of idiots to be oppressed for profit.

Anti-Fracking Activist Can Now Go to the Hospital (update)

By: Sunday March 30, 2014 1:09 pm

Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., will now be allowed to go to her hospital, supermarket, drug store, several restaurants, and the place where she goes for rehabilitation therapy. She can also go to the county’s recycling center, which is on 12.5 acres of land the county had leased to Cabot Gas & Oil Corp., one of the largest drillers in the country.

Judge Finds NSA Phone Metadata Program Infringes Upon Privacy & Vindicates Edward Snowden

By: Monday December 16, 2013 6:30 pm

In a ruling on constitutional claims brought against the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program, which collects the phone records of all Americans, a federal judge ruled the program infringes upon the “degree of privacy” America’s founders “enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

Fifty Years After King’s Dream Speech, Nullification Keeps on Marching

By: Saturday August 24, 2013 9:00 am

Each time I read or hear Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a different piece leaps out at me. Today, as we come to the fiftieth anniversary of that speech, it’s this:

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

The language of nullification — the thought that state laws can trump federal laws — is still a part of our national lexicon, despite the fact that the Nullifiers lost the Civil War. Indeed, here in Missouri, it’s become a very large part of the state political conversation.

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