Daily Archive: 06/27/2014

Jun 27 2014

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Jessica Valenti: The US supreme court’s abortion buffer zone ruling protects a gauntlet of horror

Abortion clinics are not safe places – anti-choicers have ensured that – and if women are going to be free from harassment, the fight must go on

Imagine trying to walk into a building, trying to get a medical treatment – and someone screams at you. Someone is two inches from your face – two feet from the front door – and that someone is videotaping you, calling you a whore. There’s ketchup poured in the snowbanks around you, made to look like spurted blood. You try to take a step forward, but people block your way, yelling that you’re going to be “mother to a dead baby”. They hold signs in your faces, whisper “murderer” in your ear as you pass. Maybe they shove you.

Don’t believe portrayals to the contrary – from anti-choice activists and the news media – that these kinds of protestors outside abortion clinics are not grandmas praying, or kindly “counselors” who just want to talk reasonably to women. These people wait outside clinics to shame and to harass; they are there to scare.

Despite the horrifying experiences of women across the country trying to obtain abortions, the US supreme court ruled unanimously on Thursday that a Massachusetts law providing a 35-foot buffer zone outside of clinics is unconstitutional, and violates protesters’ first amendment right to engage in “personal, caring, consensual conversations” with women seeking abortions.

Personal, caring and consensual?

Peter van Buren: Shredding the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

Four ways It no longer applies

Here’s a bit of history from another America: the Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from their government. If the First Amendment’s right to speak out publicly was the people’s wall of security, then the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy was its buttress. It was once thought that the government should neither be able to stop citizens from speaking nor peer into their lives. Think of that as the essence of the Constitutional era that ended when those towers came down on September 11, 2001. Consider how privacy worked before 9/11 and how it works now in Post-Constitutional America. [..]

In Post-Constitutional America, the old words that once defined our democracy are twisted in new ways, not discarded. Previously unreasonable searches become reasonable ones under new government interpretations of the Fourth Amendment. Traditional tools of law, like subpoenas and warrants, continue to exist even as they morph into monstrous new forms.

Americans are told (and often believe) that they retain rights they no longer have. Wait for the rhetoric that goes with the celebrations of our freedoms this July 4th. You won’t hear a lot about the NSA then, but you should. In pre-constitutional America the colonists knew that they were under the king’s thumb. In totalitarian states of the last century like the Soviet Union, people dealt with their lack of rights and privacy with grim humor and subtle protest. However, in America, ever exceptional, citizens passively watch their rights disappear in the service of dark ends, largely without protest and often while still celebrating a land that no longer exists.

Scott Lemieux: Justice Scalia’s ahistorical legal view informs his recess appointment opinion

Scalia wants to make 18th century practices work in our government. But that’s disastrous in the 21st century

It doesn’t matter which theory of executive power that the conservative political views of Antonin Scalia require him to advance at any given time. His way of advancing them remains consistent: the US supreme court justice makes highly tendentious historical arguments in a tone suggesting that only a fool could disagree with him.

Scalia’s concurrent opinion issued as part of Thursday’s court ruling on the constitutionality of presidential recess appointments is no different.

The case, NRLB v Canning, brought to the high court one question: whether a three-day recess of the US Senate was long enough to justify President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. While the constitution normally requires Senate approval of executive branch appointments, there is one exception: Article II empowers the president to fill up “all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate” without its approval, though such appointments expire at the end of the Senate’s term.

Dean Baker: Bankers Could Go To Jail

Morning Edition had a strange piece discussing how regulators can punish banks for breaking the law. The piece focused on the various fines and regulatory measures that can be imposed as penalties when banks are found to have broken the law. Remarkably it never considered the underlying logic of the punishment and the likely deterrent effect on criminal activity.

While banks are legal institutions, ultimately it is individuals that break the law. The question that any regulator should be asking is the extent to which the penalties being imposed will discourage future law breaking. As a practical matter, the immediate victims of the measures mentioned in the piece are banks’ current shareholders. Since there is often a substantial period of time between when a crime is committed and when regulators discover it and succeed in imposing a penalty, the shareholders facing the sanction will be a different group from the shareholders who benefited from the original crime. This makes little sense either from the standpoint of justice or from the standpoint of deterring criminal activity by bankers.

Amy Goodman: [The Egyptian Counterrevolution Will Not Be Televised The Egyptian Counterrevolution Will Not Be TelevisedThe Egyptian Counterrevolution Will Not Be Televised]

Egypt sentenced three Al-Jazeera journalists this week to severe prison terms, in court proceedings that observers described as “farcical.” Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were charged with fabricating news footage, and thus supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in a military coup a year ago and labeled a terrorist organization. Along with the three jailed journalists, three other foreign journalists were tried and convicted in absentia. Greste, who is Australian, and Fahmy, who is Canadian-Egyptian, received seven-year prison sentences. Baher Mohamed, who is Egyptian, was dealt a 10-year sentence, ostensibly because he had an empty shell casing in his possession, which is an item that many journalists covering conflicts pick up off the street as evidence. The prosecutors called that possession of ammunition. The harsh, six-month pretrial imprisonment, the absurd trial itself and now these sentences have generated global outrage. A movement is growing to demand clemency or release for these three journalists. But while the words of the Obama administration support their freedom, the U.S. government’s actions, primarily in pledging to resume military aid to Egypt, send the opposite message.

Jun 27 2014

The Breakfast Club: 6-27-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

This Day in History

Jun 27 2014

On This Day In History June 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge.

June 27 is the 178th day of the year (179th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 187 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1950, Truman orders U.S. forces to Korea.

On June 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman announces that he is ordering U.S. air and naval forces to South Korea to aid the democratic nation in repulsing an invasion by communist North Korea. The United States was undertaking the major military operation, he explained, to enforce a United Nations resolution calling for an end to hostilities, and to stem the spread of communism in Asia. In addition to ordering U.S. forces to Korea, Truman also deployed the U.S. 7th Fleet to Formosa (Taiwan) to guard against invasion by communist China and ordered an acceleration of military aid to French forces fighting communist guerrillas in Vietnam.

Factors in US intervention

The Truman Administration was caught at a crossroads. Before the invasion, Korea was not included in the strategic Asian Defense Perimeter outlined by Secretary of State Acheson. Military strategists were more concerned with the security of Europe against the Soviet Union than East Asia. At the same time, the Administration was worried that a war in Korea could quickly widen into another world war should the Chinese or Soviets decide to get involved as well.

One facet of the changing attitude toward Korea and whether to get involved was Japan. Especially after the fall of China to the Communists, “…Japan itself increasingly appeared as the major East Asian prize to be protected”. US East Asian experts saw Japan as the critical counterweight to the Soviet Union and China in the region. While there was no United States policy that dealt with South Korea directly as a national interest, its proximity to Japan pushed South Korea to the fore. “The recognition that the security of Japan required a non-hostile Korea led directly to President Truman’s decision to intervene… The essential point… is that the American response to the North Korean attack stemmed from considerations of US policy toward Japan.” The United States wanted to shore up Japan to make it a viable counterweight against the Soviet Union and China, and Korea was seen as integral to that end.

The other important part of committing to intervention lay in speculation about Soviet action in the event that the United States intervene. The Truman administration was fretful that a war in Korea was a diversionary assault that would escalate to a general war in Europe once the US committed in Korea. At the same time, “[t]here was no suggestion from anyone that the United Nations or the United States could back away from (the conflict)”. In Truman’s mind, this aggression, if left unchecked, would start a chain reaction that would destroy the United Nations and give the go ahead to further Communist aggression elsewhere. Korea was where a stand had to be made, the difficult part was how. The UN Security council approved the use of force to help the South Koreans and the US immediately began using air and naval forces in the area to that end. The Administration still refrained from committing on the ground because some advisors believed the North Koreans could be stopped by air and naval power alone. Also, it was still uncertain if this was a clever ploy by the Soviet Union to catch the US unawares or just a test of US resolve. The decision to commit ground troops and to intervene eventually became viable when a communiqué was received on June 27 from the Soviet Union that alluded it would not move against US forces in Korea. “This opened the way for the sending of American ground forces, for it now seemed less likely that a general war-with Korea as a preliminary diversion-was imminent”. With the Soviet Union’s tacit agreement that this would not cause an escalation, the United States now could intervene with confidence that other commitments would not be jeopardized.

Jun 27 2014

TDS/TCR (Recess Appointments)

TDS TCR

Navigating an Obstacle Course of Sexual Menace

Not Even a Clove of Garlic

The real news below.