Sunday, January 30, 2011

Boeing/Narus Helps Egyptian Dictatorship Fight Pro-Democracy Movement from Allgov News

The government of Egypt's attempted crackdown on mass protests has been aided by an American firm that sells telecommunications software that allows the authoritarian regime to spy on citizens' emails and cell phone communications.
Narus, located in Sunnyvale, California, sold the Egyptian government Deep Packet Inspection equipment, a content-filtering technology used to inspect, track and target content from users of the Internet and mobile phones.
According to a Narus executive, owners of the software can record everything that goes through the Internet in their country, allowing them to read emails and attachments, view browsing histories and even reconstruct phone calls made over VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).
Founded in 1997 by Israeli security experts to create and sell mass surveillance systems for governments and large corporate clients, Narus is now owned by Boeing.
Egypt is not the first country to use Deep Packet Inspection equipment to spy on protestors. The government of Iran reportedly used similar technology sold to it by Siemens and Nokia to hunt down political opponents following the country's national elections in 2009.
The Cairo government also has received help from the United Kingdom's Vodafone Group, which complied with a request to shut down its cell phone network during the uprising.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Vodafone CEO Explains Egypt Phone Cutoff (by Alan Murray, Wall Street Journal)

Christians pray for Obama to convert to Christianity (must see) #p2 #tcot

Massey Energy Sells Itself Just in the Nick of Time


Now that Don Blankenship is out as head of Massey Energy and the company faces serious charges with regard to its safety record and last year's explosion, company executives have decided it's a good time to have the company sold to a company with better

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The 5 Stupidest Things Right-Wingers Have Written about the Egyptian Uprising #p2 #tcot

SNL Pans Bachmann For Her SOTU Tea Party Response #p2 #tcot

New York City May Fire 21,000 Teachers

New York City could lose $1 billion in education aid from the state, forcing the nation's largest school system to cut more than 21,000 teachers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday.

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to unveil his first budget proposal since taking office on New Year's Day, Mr. Bloomberg and his new schools chancellor, Cathie Black, are bracing for what could be devastating cuts to city schools.

On his weekly radio show Friday, Mr. Bloomberg stressed that he has yet to receive word of a definitive budget proposal from the governor. "Scuttlebutt is that the education budget will be cut statewide, and New York City's share of that would be a billion-dollar cut," he said.

If the governor proposes a $1 billion cut and the Legislature approves it, the mayor estimated the city would be forced to cut 15,000 teachers, most of which would be accomplished through layoffs. That's on top of plans, outlined by the mayor in November, to cut 6,166 teachers in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

In total, the administration is facing the specter of losing 21,000 teachers in the coming months, most through layoffs. An aide to the mayor warned that these numbers would probably change as negotiations with lawmakers over the state and city budgets begin in earnest in the coming weeks.

The city's Department of Education currently employs roughly 75,000 teachers.

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Reason responds to Ayn Rand going on the dole #p2 #tcot #teaparty

Ayn Rand took government assistance while decrying others who did the same #p2 #tcot #teaparty

Egypt: iconic photo of protester kissing guard during demonstrations

Egypt: yet another iconic photo of a brave protester smooching a bewildered cop

Salon's War Room blog has profiles of the lobbyists doing Mubarak's bidding in DC.

As protests rage on in Egypt, the close relationship between the U.S. government and the regime of Hosni Mubarak has already garnered a lot of attention. But it's also worth taking a moment to examine the lobbying muscle that Egypt employs to secure its interests in Washington, including a mammoth $1.3 billion annual military aid package.

Seven firms are currently registered foreign agents for Egypt, including one, the Podesta Group, that has close ties to the Democratic Party and the Obama administration.

Founded by brothers Tony and John Podesta in the late 1980s, the Podesta Group has been retained by some of the biggest corporations in the country, including Wal-Mart, BP and Lockheed Martin. Tony Podesta's bio boasts that "if you want something done in Washington, DC, you go to Tony Podesta." After starting the firm, John Podesta went on to serve as Bill Clinton's chief of staff and, more recently, to found the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank closely associated with the Obama administration.

The Podesta Group counsels Egypt "on U.S. policies of concern, activities in Congress and the Executive branch, and developments on the U.S. political scene generally," according to forms filed with the Justice Department in 2009. 

Records also show Tony Podesta himself meeting with members of Congress, governors and generals in recent years to discuss U.S.-Egypt relations and the military aid package and to introduce Egyptian officials to American power brokers.

For this work, the Podesta Group has profited handsomely. The Egyptian government in 2007 signed a deal to pay $1.1 million annually, plus expenses, to the PLM Group, which was a joint venture of the Podesta Group and the Republican firm the Livingston Group. (That's the lobbying shop of former Louisiana congressman Bob Livingston, who, on the eve of becoming speaker in the late 1990s, resigned from the House following revelations of extramarital affairs.)

PLM Group agreed to lobby Congress "to facilitate approval of commercial and non-subsidized government-to-government arm sales, and to improve the terms of the aid package." PLM would also "provide general, high-level strategic advice relative to the Egyptian image among American decision-makers."

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Can we lower medical costs by giving the neediest patients better care #p2

If Camden, New Jersey, becomes the first American community to lower its medical costs, it will have a murder to thank. At nine-fifty on a February night in 2001, a twenty-two-year-old black man was shot while driving his Ford Taurus station wagon through a neighborhood on the edge of the Rutgers University campus. The victim lay motionless in the street beside the open door on the driver's side, as if the car had ejected him. A neighborhood couple, a physical therapist and a volunteer firefighter, approached to see if they could help, but police waved them back.

"He's not going to make it," an officer reportedly told the physical therapist. "He's pretty much dead." She called a physician, Jeffrey Brenner, who lived a few doors up the street, and he ran to the scene with a stethoscope and a pocket ventilation mask. After some discussion, the police let him enter the crime scene and attend to the victim. Witnesses told the local newspaper that he was the first person to lay hands on the man.

"He was slightly overweight, turned on his side," Brenner recalls. There was glass everywhere. Although the victim had been shot several times and many minutes had passed, his body felt warm. Brenner checked his neck for a carotid pulse. The man was alive. Brenner began the chest compressions and rescue breathing that should have been started long before. But the young man, who turned out to be a Rutgers student, died soon afterward.

The incident became a local scandal. The student's injuries may not have been survivable, but the police couldn't have known that. After the ambulance came, Brenner confronted one of the officers to ask why they hadn't tried to rescue him.

"We didn't want to dislodge the bullet," he recalls the policeman saying. It was a ridiculous answer, a brushoff, and Brenner couldn't let it go.

He was thirty-one years old at the time, a skinny, thick-bearded, soft-spoken family physician who had grown up in a bedroom suburb of Philadelphia. As a medical student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in Piscataway, he had planned to become a neuroscientist. But he volunteered once a week in a free primary-care clinic for poor immigrants, and he found the work there more challenging than anything he was doing in the laboratory. The guy studying neuronal stem cells soon became the guy studying Spanish and training to become one of the few family physicians in his class. Once he completed his residency, in 1998, he joined the staff of a family-medicine practice in Camden. It was in a cheaply constructed, boxlike, one-story building on a desolate street of bars, car-repair shops, and empty lots. But he was young and eager to recapture the sense of purpose he'd felt volunteering at the clinic during medical school.

Few people shared his sense of possibility. Camden was in civic free fall, on its way to becoming one of the poorest, most crime-ridden cities in the nation. The local school system had gone into receivership. Corruption and mismanagement soon prompted a state takeover of the entire city. Just getting the sewage system to work could be a problem. The neglect of this anonymous shooting victim on Brenner's street was another instance of a city that had given up, and Brenner was tired of wondering why it had to be that way.

Around that time, a police reform commission was created, and Brenner was asked to serve as one of its two citizen members. He agreed and, to his surprise, became completely absorbed. The experts they called in explained the basic principles of effective community policing. He learned about George Kelling and James Q. Wilson's "broken-windows" theory, which argued that minor, visible neighborhood disorder breeds major crime. He learned about the former New York City police commissioner William Bratton and the Compstat approach to policing that he had championed in the nineties, which centered on mapping crime and focussing resources on the hot spots. The reform panel pushed the Camden Police Department to create computerized crime maps, and to change police beats and shifts to focus on the worst areas and times.

When the police wouldn't make the crime maps, Brenner made his own. He persuaded Camden's three main hospitals to let him have access to their medical billing records. He transferred the reams of data files onto a desktop computer, spent weeks figuring out how to pull the chaos of information into a searchable database, and then started tabulating the emergency-room visits of victims of serious assault. He created maps showing where the crime victims lived. He pushed for policies that would let the Camden police chief assign shifts based on the crime statistics—only to find himself in a showdown with the police unions.

"He has no clue," the president of the city police superiors' union said to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I just think that his comments about what kind of schedule we should be on, how we should be deployed, are laughable."

The unions kept the provisions out of the contract. The reform commission disbanded; Brenner withdrew from the cause, beaten. But he continued to dig into the database on his computer, now mostly out of idle interest.

Besides looking at assault patterns, he began studying patterns in the way patients flowed into and out of Camden's hospitals. "I'd just sit there and play with the data for hours," he says, and the more he played the more he found. For instance, he ran the data on the locations where ambulances picked up patients with fall injuries, and discovered that a single building in central Camden sent more people to the hospital with serious falls—fifty-seven elderly in two years—than any other in the city, resulting in almost three million dollars in health-care bills. "It was just this amazing window into the health-care delivery system," he says.

So he took what he learned from police reform and tried a Compstat approach to the city's health-care performance—a Healthstat, so to speak. He made block-by-block maps of the city, color-coded by the hospital costs of its residents, and looked for the hot spots. The two most expensive city blocks were in north Camden, one that had a large nursing home called Abigail House and one that had a low-income housing tower called Northgate II. He found that between January of 2002 and June of 2008 some nine hundred people in the two buildings accounted for more than four thousand hospital visits and about two hundred million dollars in health-care bills. One patient had three hundred and twenty-four admissions in five years. The most expensive patient cost insurers $3.5 million.

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HOWTO make health-care cheaper by spending more on patients who need it #p2

Friday, January 28, 2011

.@gop Senate Republicans Place Big Bank Apologist On Banking Committee

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)

ThinkProgress' Ian Milhiser noted yesterday that Senate Republicans put Sen. Mike "noun, verb, unconstitutional" Lee (R-UT) on the Judiciary Committee, despite his radical ignorance regarding constitutional matters. But that wasn't the only committee assignment for which the GOP decided that fealty to ideology was more important that acknowledging reality.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) was one of the financial industry's biggest apologists during November's campaign, opposing the Dodd-Frank financial reform law while claiming that derivative deals were "non-risky," even as they cost schools and cities all across the country (including many in Pennsylvania) millions of dollars. And Toomey has been totally unrepentant about his personal role in deregulating the financial industry.

In 2000, former Sen. Phil "mental recession" Gramm (R-TX) attached the Commodity Futures Modernization Act to an unrelated, 11,000 appropriations bill. The CFMA ensured that the growing market in over-the-counter derivatives, including credit default swaps, stayed entirely unregulated. Toomey — then a member of the House of Representatives — voted for that bill, and said that he would do it again, inaccurately claiming that the legislation "did absolutely nothing to cause the financial crisis."

So, naturally, Republicans have seen fit to name Toomey to the Senate Banking Committee, which has oversight of the nation's financial regulatory laws. The committee was instrumental in crafting Dodd-Frank.

Here's what the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission — which released its final report yesterday — had to say about the bill Toomey claims did nothing to bring about the financial crisis:

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.@gop Big Government GOP Moves to Redefine 'Rape' #p2

Once again, Big Government Republicans are trying to put federal bureaucrats between you and your doctor, while at the same time making the world safer for rapists by redefining the meaning of "rape" entirely. Via Nick Baumann at Mother Jones...

Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.
Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old's parents wouldn't be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn't be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.

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Right-Wing Civil Rights Commission Trumps Up Report On Phony New Black Panthers Party Scandal @andrewbreitbart #p2

Media Matters for America

Right-Wing Civil Rights Commission Trumps Up Report On Phony New Black Panthers Party Scandal

On January 27, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission released a report on the Department of Justice's investigation into the New Black Panthers Party case. USCCR's report largely adopts the right-wing media's bogus allegations that President Obama's Justice Department engaged in racially charged corruption in the case. This is unsurprising; the USCCR is dominated by conservative activists, and the witnesses they rely upon are J. Christian Adams, a longtime GOP activist deeply tied to the Bush-era politicization of the DOJ, and Christopher Coates, who reportedly became "a true member of the team" during that administration.

USCCR Pushes Claims By Coates And Adams About DOJ "Policy" Of Not Enforcing Laws "In A Race-Neutral Fashion"

Report: "Mr. Coates And Mr. Adams Testified That this Hostility To Race-Neutral Enforcement Influenced The Decisionmaking Process In the NBPP Case." From the USCCR's report, "Race Neutral Enforcement of the Law? The U.S. Department of Justice and the New Black Panther Party Litigation":

In their appearances before the Commission, which the Department attempted to prevent, trial team members Coates and Adams presented testimony that both raises concerns about the current enforcement policies of the Department and provides a possible explanation for the reversal in the course of the NBPP litigation. In sum, they indicated that there is currently a conscious policy within the Department that voting rights laws should not be enforced in a race-neutral fashion. In their testimony, they gave numerous specific examples of open hostility and opposition to pursuing cases in which whites were the perceived victims and minorities the alleged wrongdoers. This testimony includes allegations that some career attorneys refuse to work on such cases; that those who have worked on such cases have been harassed and ostracized; and that some employees, including supervisory attorneys and political appointees, openly oppose race-neutral enforcement of voting rights laws.

Mr. Coates and Mr. Adams testified that this hostility to race-neutral enforcement influenced the decisionmaking process in the NBPP case. The disposition of the Panther case, Mr. Coates testified, was the result of anger on the part of acting political appointees and other attorneys arising from a "deep-seated opposition to the equal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act against racial minorities and for the protection of white voters who had been discriminated against."

These serious accusations deserve to either be proven or exposed as false. While the Department has issued general statements that it enforces the laws without regard to race, these assurances do not confirm, deny, or explain the specific allegations of misconduct raised by Mr. Coates and Mr. Adams.

Unfortunately, the Department has thus far refused to address many of these specific claims or to provide the type of information that would allow the Commission to properly review the decision making relating to the NBPP lawsuit. [USCCR report, 1/27/11]

U.S. Commission On Civil Rights Is Dominated By Conservative Activists

The report was approved by a vote of 5-2. All five commissioners voting in the majority are longtime conservative activists.

Chairman Reynolds And Commissioners Gaziano, Heriot, Kirsanow And Taylor Voted To Release The Report. "Because the Department withheld relevant documents and relevant officials' and supervisors' witness testimony, the Commission was limited in its ability to complete a final report. As a result, the Commission issues this interim report, which was approved on November 19, 2010. Part A of the report, consisting of Chapters 1 through 5 and the appendix, was approved by a vote of 5-2. Chairman Reynolds and Commissioners Gaziano, Heriot, Kirsanow and Taylor voted in the majority. Commissioners Yaki and Melendez voted against the report. Vice Chair Thernstrom was absent and declined an opportunity to cast her vote for the body of the report and findings and recommendation at a subsequent meeting. [USCCR report, 1/27/11]

Bush Used "Controversial Maneuver" To Pack Panel With Conservatives

Bush Reportedly "Used A Controversial Maneuver To Put The Agency Under Conservative Control." The Boston Globe reported that the "Bush administration used a controversial maneuver to put the [U.S. Commission on Civil Rights] under conservative control." The Globe reported that "[c]ritics say Bush in effect installed a fifth and sixth Republican on the panel in December 2004, after two commissioners, both Republicans when appointed, reregistered as independents" and that the appointments "have had a sweeping effect, shifting the commission's emphasis from investigating claims of civil rights violations to questioning programs designed to offset the historic effects of discrimination." [Boston Globe, 11/6/07]

NPR: "In Practice, Three Quarters Of The Members Are Reliably Conservative." NPR's All Things Considered reported, "Today the commission has four Republicans, two Independents and two Democrats. In theory, the commission is following the rules. In practice, three quarters of the members are reliably conservative." The article quoted law professor and former Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Bill Yeomans, who said that the USCCR "charter says that no more than four commissioners can belong to any one political party," but that "[u]nder the Bush administration, two of the Republican commissioners changed their registration to Independent so that two more Republicans could be put on the commission." [All Things Considered4/22/10]

"Independent" Gail Heriot Is A Longtime GOP Activist Who Became An Independent Just Before Her Appointment

Heriot Reportedly Was An Alternate Delegate To GOP Convention And Changed Registration To Independent Seven Months Before Appointment. The Globe article reported: "In early 2007, Senate Republicans restored the 6-to-2 bloc by appointing Gail Heriot, a member of the conservative Federalist Society who opposes affirmative action." Savage continued: "Heriot was an alternate delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention and was a registered Republican until seven months before her appointment. In an interview, Heriot said her decision to reregister as an independent in August 2006, making her eligible to fill the vacancy, 'had nothing to do with the commission.' " Savage reported that Heriot "declined" to cite any disagreements she had with the Republican Party. [The Boston Globe11/6/07]

Heriot Is A Federalist Society Activist. According to her San Diego University faculty biography, Heriot serves as chair of the conservative Federalist Society's executive committee on civil rights and has been a member since 1998. [, accessed 1/28/11]

Heriot Advised GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch. According to her faculty bio page, Heriot served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and "advised Committee Chairman Senator Orrin G. Hatch on civil rights issues and judicial nominees." [, accessed 1/28/11]

Heriot Has Long Record Of Activism Against Affirmative Action. For example:

  • Heriod Wrote That "Racial And Gender Preferences Act As A Straitjacket To Diversity." In an op-ed, Heriot wrote, "Racial and gender preferences act as a straightjacket to diversity -- both on campus and in the work place. The tyranny of 'keeping up the numbers' prevails." [Washington Times, 7/24/1996]
  • Heriot Sought To Outlaw Affirmative Action Programs In California. In her Washington Times op-ed, Heriot was identified as the co-chair of the campaign in support of the California Civil Rights Initiative, which she says would eliminate "gender and racial preferences." [Washington Times, 7/24/1996]
  • Heriot Reportedly Helped Write Ballot Initiative To Eliminate Affirmative Action In Public Hiring. According to a Miami Herald article headlined "Florida chosen as next battleground to try to dismantle racial preferences," Heriot co-wrote a 2000 Florida ballot initiate that sought to end affirmative action in public hiring. [Miami Herald, 12/6/99, via Nexis]

Heriot Advocated For Bush Judicial Nominees. In an op-ed, Heriot criticized Democrats for their "stony silence" toward Bush judicial nominees Michael McConnell, Miguel Estrada, and John Roberts. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/8/02, via Nexis]

"Independent" Todd Gaziano Is A Long-Time Conservative Activist Who Has Attacked Progressives

Gaziano "Served Under Noted Conservative Leaders In All Three Branches Of The Federal Government." Despite being an "independent" on the commission, Gaziano's "Heritage Expert" page on the right-wing Heritage Foundation website states that before joining the organization, he "served under noted conservative leaders in all three branches of the federal government":

Before joining former Attorney General Edwin Meese at The Heritage Foundation in 1997, Mr. Gaziano served under noted conservative leaders in all three branches of the federal government. He was Chief Counsel to the House Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources, and Regulatory Affairs, where he worked on government-wide regulatory reform legislation for Chairman David McIntosh. He served in the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Justice Department, which provides advice on constitutional and legal issues to the President, the Attorney General, and other Cabinet Secretaries. He also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Edith H. Jones, United States Judge for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. [, accessed 1/28/11]

Gaziano Is Director Of Right-Wing Heritage Foundation Project. Gaziano serves as the director for the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation. [, accessed 1/28/11]

Gaziano Called "So-Called Hate Crime Laws" "Counterproductive." Gaziano was quoted in the Chicago Tribune opposing hate-crime legislation, saying, "Even the best so-called hate crimes laws are redundant, unnecessary and sometimes counterproductive. ... There is no serious evidence that any state is not prosecuting the underlying acts. All states prosecute murder as murder, assault as assault, battery as battery." [Chicago Tribune, 10/19/98, via Nexis]

Gaziano Attacked Obama Over Von Spakovsky Hold. A 2007 Politico article reporting on Democrats "blocking" former Justice Department attorney Hans von Spakovsky's controversial nomination to the Federal Election Commission quoted Gaziano attacking then-Sen. Obama's opposition, saying it was "nothing more than fear-mongering with potential liberal voters" and that the hold shows "desperation in his political campaign." [Politico, 10/6/07]

  • NY Times: Von Spakovsky "Most Meddlesome" Of Bush's DOJ "Political Operatives."New York Times editorial headlined "Another sorry ascension" stated, "It apparently wasn't enough for the Bush administration to pack the Department of Justice with political operatives. The White House has now nominated one of the most meddlesome of those partisans, Hans von Spakovsky, to a powerful post on the Federal Election Commission." [New York Times, 6/14/07]

Gaziano Supported Stripping Felons Of The Right To Vote And Said Minority Communities "Ought To Be Most Grateful." From the Tampa Tribune:

Todd Gaziano, a senior fellow in legal studies for the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank, said stripping felons of the right to vote is no different than ordering them to make restitution or perform community service.

"Part of your punishment, part of your debt, is this continuing inability to vote," he says.

Gaziano rejects arguments that such laws are aimed at stripping blacks of their constitutional right to vote.

"Felons can't possess firearms, either, and that's a clear constitutional right," he says. "I find it curious that those folks who want felons to be able to vote are not clamoring to overturn the state and federal laws prohibiting felons from owning guns."

Gaziano says the disenfranchisement laws provide a benefit to minority communities, which are often economically depressed and crime-ridden: It gives law-abiding citizens the right not to have their votes "diluted" by former lawbreakers.

"If you are concerned about people in those crime-ridden communities you ought not to listen to the hustlers, the race baiters," he says. "You ought to be most grateful for the disenfranchisement laws." [Tampa Tribune, 12/17/00, via Nexis]

Gaziano Helped Prepare Challenge Seeking To Overturn Miranda Protections. The Boston Globe reported that Gaziano "has been helping to prepare the challenge" against "the 1966 Supreme Court ruling requiring police officers to read suspects their rights." From the article:

Television viewers of shows from "Dragnet" to "NYPD Blue" know it as well as lawyers: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

Those are the opening lines to the so-called Miranda rights, named for the 1966 Supreme Court ruling requiring police officers to read suspects their rights. But the ruling, which has become embedded in popular culture as deeply as it is rooted in criminal procedure, faces a serious challenge this week. Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether Miranda should be drastically scaled back, or even eliminated.


Miranda's critics argue that it is the honorable police officers whose work is frustrated by a strict reading of the rule. "The suggestion that we're going to retreat to rubber hoses and intimidation is unfair," said Todd Gaziano, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who has been helping to prepare the challenge to Miranda. "No one wants to allow coerced confessions." [Boston Globe, 4/19/00, via Nexis]

Gaziano Compared Clinton, Federal Civil Rights Officials To Segregationists. In a 1998 article titled "The New 'Massive Resistance': The Clinton Administration Defies the Constitution to Save Racial Preferences" in the journal Policy Review, Gaziano compared President Clinton, federal civil rights officials, and federal law-enforcement officials who use "racial preferences to distribute economic and educational opportunities" to segregationists in the South who engaged in "massive resistance" to federal enforcement of civil rights laws. [Policy Review, 1998]

Gaziano: "Conservatives And Liberals All Agree" Sotomayor Is "Dumb." Appearing on the syndicated radio show Radio Free Washington Gaziano commented: "The other conclusion I think conservatives and liberals all agree on after the hearing: She's dumb. We all were unimpressed with her intellect." Gaziano later commented: "Well, she's quite smart compared to the average person. Compared to the average potential Supreme Court justice, she's, you know, quite unimpressive." [Radio Free Washington, 8/29/09, comments at 16:48] 

Chairman Gerald A. Reynolds Was A Controversial Appointment Who Acknowledged Commission's Conservative Slant

Reynolds Was Appointed By Bush. Reynolds' USCCR biography states: "President George W. Bush designated Gerald A. Reynolds to serve as Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on December 6, 2004." [, accessed 1/28/11]

Reynolds' Appointment Said To Signal "The End Of The Commission As An Independent Voice For The Protection Of Civil And Human Rights." Washington Post article reported that Leadership Conference on Civil Rights executive director Wade Henderson "said the Bush administration sought to undermine the intent of the commission by appointing an ideological conservative such as Reynolds." Henderson was quoted as saying, "Gerald Reynolds's selection to head the Civil Rights Commission is the elevation of ideology over substance. ... It signals the end of the commission as an independent voice for the protection of civil and human rights." [Washington Post1/17/05]

Reynolds Was Criticized By Women's Law Center For Opposition To "Critical Element Of Civil Rights Enforcement." In a USA Today article about Reynolds' appointment as assistant secretary of education for the Office of Civil Rights, Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women's Law Center, was quoted saying: "The fact that (Reynolds) comes with stated opposition to such a critical element of civil rights enforcement [Title IX] of the laws he would be charged with overseeing and interpreting is very problematic." [USA Today7/18/01]

Reynolds Eventually Installed Through Recess Appointment After Objections Were Raised To His "Longstanding Hostility To Basic Civil Rights Laws." The New York Times reported in a March 30, 2002, article: "President Bush used his power to make appointments during Congressional recesses today to name a young black lawyer who is a vocal critic of preferences for minorities to be head of the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education." The article reported that "civil rights groups and advocates for women and the disabled, among others, quickly lined up against the nomination, arguing that he was hostile to their concerns and had little experience in the field." The article also quoted Sen. Ted Kennedy saying: "'I was struck by his lack of education policy experience and his longstanding hostility to basic civil rights laws.'' [New York Times3/30/02]

Reynolds Acknowledged That Conservatives Were "Gam[ing] The System." NPR reported that Reynolds "does not dispute that his colleagues have the advantage" and quoted Reynolds saying, "I'm a very cynical fellow. ... My assumption is that given an opportunity, Democrats and Republicans will each game the system." The article continued:

In this case, Reynolds does not believe the party switches undermine the intent of the commission's creators.

"I think it is healthy that no one point of view dominates the commission for an extended period of time," he says. "If there was a rule that says commissioners shall not change party affiliations, I think that's problematic. I started out life as a Democrat. Should there be a rule that says, 'Gerry Reynolds you can't change your mind and become a Republican?' I do not see it as a problem." [All Things Considered4/22/10]

Ashley J. Taylor Jr. Reportedly Served As Counsel To The McCain 2008 Presidential Campaign

Taylor Was Appointed By George W. Bush. Taylor's official biography notes that Taylor "was appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by President George W. Bush on December 6, 2004." [, accessed 1/28/11]

Taylor Reportedly Served As Counsel To McCain Campaign. A November 3, 2008, Cleveland Plain Dealer article identified Taylor as "an attorney for McCain," [Plain Dealer, 11/3/08]

Taylor Served As Delegate To 2004 GOP Convention. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies listed Taylor among a roster of black delegates and alternates to the 2004 Republican National Convention. [, accessed 1/28/11]

Peter N. Kirsanow Has A History Of Promoting Right-Wing Attacks On Progressives

Kirsanow Said Obama Had A "Mentor-Protégé" Relationship With Ayers. In a September 24, 2008, National Review Online blog post, Kirsanow pushed a Stanley Kurtz piece that he said described "what appears to be an attempt to cover-up the extent of Sen. Obama's ties to William Ayers." Kirsanow called it a "big story" that illustrated that it "certainly looks more like a mentor-protégé relationship than a tenuous relationship between two guys who happen to live in the same neighborhood." Kirsanow concluded his post:

The story of a why an unrepentant terrorist has such a close relationship with a presidential candidate should have reporters swarming over the Obama campaign demanding answers. [National Review Online, 9/24/08]

Kirsanow Invoked Right-Wing Bogeyman ACORN In Attacking Obama. In an October 10, 2008, National Review Online post, Kirsanow called on Sen. John McCain to attack Obama for his "judgment/radical associations" and wrote that "as Stanley Kurtz demonstrates, McCain can do both at the same time," since "Obama and Ayers serve together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge where they funnel tons of cash to finance ACORN." Kirsanow also wrote, "And then there's ACORN's 'voter registration efforts.' " [National Review Online, 10/10/08]

Kirsanow Advanced The Falsehood That Obama Supported Infanticide. In an October 6, 2008, National Review Online blog post, Kirsanow proposed questions for "[a]nyone attending" a town hall to ask Obama. Kirsanow suggested that it would be appropriate to ask whether Obama believes "a baby is a human being" that would be "entitled to human rights" and whether Obama's "uncertainty regarding this issue [is] the reason [he] voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act." [National Review Online, 10/6/08]

  • Right-wing Attack Is False. [Media Matters for America, 8/22/08]

Kirsanow: "Diversity" Is A "Feel-Good" Term. In a 2007 National Review Online post, Kisanow divided "diversity" as "the feel-good term for our times." [National Review Online, 10/24/07]

USCCR "Whistleblower" Adams Is A Long-Time GOP Activist Tied To Bush-Era Politicization Of DOJ

Adams Reportedly Filed Ethics Complaint Against Hugh Rodham That Was Dismissed. In a February 26, 2001, Washington Times column, John McCaslin cited a formal ethics complaint filed by Adams against Hugh Rodham, brother of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton. [Washington Times, 2/26/01, accessed via Nexis]

  • Adams Claimed Rodham "Put His Florida Law License 'In Jeopardy.'" On February 24, 2001, The Washington Times  reported that "Adams said Mr. Rodham put his Florida law license 'in jeopardy' with an admission that he accepted a contingency fee in obtaining the commutation for Carlos Vignali, the convicted drug dealer released from prison after serving six years of a 15-year sentence." [Washington Times, 2/24/01, accessed via Nexis]
  • Florida Bar Cleared Rodham. A July 22, 2001, New York Times article reported, "The Florida bar has cleared Hugh Rodham of violating legal ethics." [New York Times, 7/22/01, accessed via Nexis]

Adams Reportedly Volunteered With GOP Group That "Trains Lawyers To Fight On The Front Lines Of Often Racially Tinged Battles Over Voting Rights."  The legal news website Main Justice reported:

Before coming to the Justice Department, Adams volunteered with the National Republican Lawyers Association, an offshoot of the Republican National Committee that trains lawyers to fight on the front lines of often racially tinged battles over voting rights. [, 12/2/09]

Adams Reportedly Was A Bush Campaign Poll Watcher In Florida.  Main Justice article further reported: "In 2004, Adams served as a Bush campaign poll watcher in Florida, where he was critical of a black couple for not accepting a provisional ballot in early voting after officials said they had no record of the couple's change of address forms, according to Bloomberg News. Democratic poll watchers had advised voters not to accept provisional ballots because of the risk they could be discounted under Florida law, Bloomberg reported." [, 12/2/09]

Adams Likened Obama To Appeasers Who Caused "Carnage" Of WWII. In an October 30, 2009, American Spectator piece, Adams wrote: "President Obama's received his Peace Prize, according to the Nobel Committee, for his 'efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between nations.' Norman Angell's Nobel was awarded for similar reasons." Adams went on to blame Angell's ideas for World War II:

The 1933 Peace Prize winner profoundly influenced British policy in ways that led directly to German tanks rolling into Poland in September 1939. War did not break out because nations ignored Angell's advice; instead, the ensuing carnage in Europe happened because European democracies made Angell's ideas government policy.

Adams concluded: "Churchill, responding directly to Angell, asked 'who is the man vain enough to suppose that the long antagonisms of history and of time can in all circumstances be adjusted by the smooth and superficial conventions of politicians and ambassadors?' The Nobel Committee may have answered Sir Winston's query for the 21st century." [American Spectator, 10/30/09]

Adams Now Appearing At Summits For Group That "Critics Said Trained Poll Watchers Who Intimidated Voters." TPM Media reported:

A Texas Tea Party group that critics said trained poll watchers who intimidated voters in neighborhoods with large minority populations last year is launching a nationwide effort to put an end to what they say is the massive problem of voter fraud.

True the Vote, an outgrowth of the King Street Patriots group, held a "Texas Summit" at the beginning of the month featuring prominent anti-voter fraud speakers J. Christian Adams (a former DOJ lawyer who resigned over its handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case) and Anita Moncrief, who was fired from the community organized group ACORN for allegedly misusing a credit card and then became a critic of the group.

Both will be featured at an upcoming National Summit on March 25 and 26 which is being hosted in Houston. [TPM Media, 1/24/11]

Former Voting Rights Section Chief: Adams Is "Exhibit A Of The Type Of People Hired By Schlozman." A July 6 article on Main Justice reported that Joseph Rich, former head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division Voting Section, said that Adams "was hired in the Civil Rights Division Voting Section under a process the DOJ Inspector General later determined was improperly influenced by politics," by Schlozman. Main Justice further reported:

Rich said Schlozman asked him to attend an interview with J. Christian Adams, a solo practitioner from Alexandria, Va., who had worked for the Secretary of State in South Carolina. Adams had also volunteered for the Republican National Lawyers Association, a GOP-funded group that sought to draw attention to voting fraud.

Adams did not have an extensive background in civil rights, Rich said, but may have had limited voting rights experience from his time in South Carolina. "He is exhibit A of the type of people hired by Schlozman," Rich said.

Rich said he sat in on the interview, but Schlozman asked most of the questions. There was no discussion of Adams' political background at the meeting, according to Rich. Adams was offered the position shortly thereafter, and Rich said he doesn't believe anyone else was interviewed for the job.

"I was invited to the interview but was never asked for a recommendation," Rich said. "This was an example of the way things were being done. There's no evidence that this was a normal hiring process." As a supervisor, Rich said, he normally would have been involved in hiring decisions. [, 7/6/10]

DOJ IG "Found That Schlozman Considered Political And Ideological Affiliations When Hiring... In Violation Of Department Policy And Federal Law." A July 2008 report from the Department of Justice Inspector General's Office and the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Schlozman "considered political and ideological affiliations when hiring and taking other personnel actions relating to career attorneys in violation of Department policy and federal law." The report concluded:

The evidence in our investigation showed that Schlozman, first as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and subsequently as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General, considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys and in other personnel actions affecting career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. In doing so, he violated federal law -- the Civil Service Reform Act -- and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct. The evidence also showed that Division managers failed to exercise sufficient oversight to ensure that Schlozman did not engage in inappropriate hiring and personnel practices. Moreover, Schlozman made false statements about whether he considered political and ideological affiliations when he gave sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and in his written responses to supplemental questions from the Committee. [IG/OPR report, "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division," 7/2/08]

Schlozman Is Said To Have Picked Attorneys Who "Lacked Relevant Experience" And "Rarely Expressed Any Interest In Civil Rights Enforcement." The IG/OPR report stated that Special Litigation Section Chief Shanetta Cutlar "said that the applicants whose résumés she reviewed after they had been culled from the applicant pool by Schlozman or others in the front office typically reflected membership in conservative organizations. She also said the most striking thing she noticed about the résumés was that the applicants generally lacked relevant experience. She said Schlozman minimized the importance of prior civil rights or human rights work experience." In addition, the report states:

Former Criminal Section Chief [Albert] Moskowitz also said the candidates for career positions chosen by Schlozman had conservative political or ideological affiliations and rarely had any civil rights background, rarely expressed any interest in civil rights enforcement, and had very little or no federal criminal experience. [IG/OPR report, "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division," 7/2/08]

"Whistleblower" Coates Reportedly Became "A True Member Of The Team" During The Bush Administration

Coates Reportedly Filed A "Reverse-Discrimination" Complaint Against DOJ And Became "More Conservative" After Not Being Promoted. A 2007 McClatchy Newspapers article connected Coates to Schlozman and the Bush-era politicization of the Justice Department. McClatchy reported that Schlozman attempted to refute the notion that the DOJ had used political ideology in its personnel practices in part by citing "the promotion of Chris Coates, a former ACLU voting counsel, to serve as top deputy chief of the voting section." McClatchy went on to report that Joseph Rich, then head of the DOJ's voting rights section, and other DOJ lawyers interviewed said that Coates "seemed to grow more conservative after his superiors passed him over for a promotion in favor of an African-American woman, and he filed a reverse-discrimination suit." [McClatchy Newspapers, 5/6/07]

Schlozman Reportedly Identified Coates As A "True Member Of The Team." The IG/OPR report concluded that Schlozman improperly considered ideology when making personnel decisions and cited numerous emails in which Schlozman discussed adding conservative members to "the team." [IG/OPR report, "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division," 7/2/08]

  • Report: Schlozman's Reference To A "True Member Of The Team" Was To Coates. In a January 8, 2010, American Prospect article, Adam Serwer reported that "several current and former Justice Department officials" identified Coates as the attorney Schlozman called "a very different man" from his days of working for the American Civil Liberties Union and "a true member of the team" while recommending him for a job:

At first glance, Coates' extensive experience with voting rights -- he first worked for the American Civil Liberties Union and later the Justice Department -- made him look like just another career attorney. But Coates' current and former colleagues at the Justice Department say Coates underwent an ideological conversion shortly after a black lawyer in the Voting Rights Section, Gilda Daniels, was promoted to deputy section chief over him in July of 2000. Outraged, Coates filed a complaint alleging he was passed up for the job because he is white. The matter was settled internally.

"He thought he should have been hired instead of her," said one former official in the Voting Section. "That had an impact on his views ... he became more conservative over time."

Coates' star rose during the Bush administration, during which he was promoted to principal deputy section chief. While not mentioned by name, Coates has been identified by several current and former Justice Department officials as the anonymous Voting Section lawyer, referred to in the joint Inspector General/Office of Professional Responsibility report, that Schlozman recommended for an immigration judge position. Immigration judges have jurisdiction over whether or not foreign nationals are deported. In his letter to Monica Goodling, a former senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who was implicated in the scandal involving politicized hiring, Schlozman wrote of Coates:

Don't be dissuaded by his ACLU work on voting matters from years ago. This is a very different man, and particularly on immigration issues, he is a true member of the team. [The American Prospect, 1/8/10]

  • Coates Confirmed He Believed Schlozman Was Referring To Him. In testimony before the USCCR, Coates confirmed that he believed he was the individual Schlozman identified as a "true member of the team" in the highly politicized Bush Justice Department. [Coates testimony, 9/24/10, via Media Matters]

You can help support our work: donate to Media Matters for America.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Income inequality: Some thoughtful criticisms and a response

we know whos interest he's got: John Boehner To Give Keynote Address At Annual Insurance Lobbyists Summit #p2 #tcot

fuck you arizona: Girl, 9, and father shot dead by 'anti-immigrant vigilantes' as she begged for life #p2 #tcot #teaparty


A nine-year-old girl begged for her life before being shot dead along with her father by an anti-immigrant vigilante group, a court heard.

Brisenia Flores was gunned down at point-blank range in her own home in Flores, Arizona, as her terrified mother Gina Gonzalez, who had also been hit, played dead on the floor.

She sobbed as the court was told how she had heard Brisenia's desperate pleas as her killer stood over her.

'I can hear it happening,' Mrs Flores told the court describing how her daughter said: 'Why did you shoot my dad? Why did you shoot my mum?'

'I can hear her telling him to "please don't shoot me."'

The prosecution alleges that the child and her father Raul Flores Jr were murdered in May 30, 2009 by a group of vigilantes set up to tackle Mexican immigrants.

The shootings took place 200 miles from Tucson, the scene of the gun massacre earlier this month in which another nine-year-old girl died.

Shawna Forde, the head of the Minutemen American Defence group, is on trial accused of two charges of first degree murder.

She is allegedly orchestrated the attack on the Flores family with two male accomplices, due to face face court in.March.

Police claim that Forde believed Mr Flores was a drug trafficker and would have cash and goods in the house which they could use to fund their patrols.

She reportedly led the raid and gave instructions to the male accomplices.

On trial: Shawna Forde is accused of murdering Brisenia Flores, nine, and her father Raul Flores Jr

On trial: Shawna Forde (centre) is accused of murdering Brisenia Flores, nine, and her father Raul Flores Jr

Mrs Gonzalez told the court that her husband woke her up just before 1am on May 30 and said that the police were at the door.

The couple went to the front room - where Brisenia had spent the night on the sofa to be near her new dog - and spotted two people outside.

Both were in camouflage. Mrs Gonzalez said one was a heavy-set woman while the other was a man whose face was blackened with greasepaint. He was armed with a rifle and pistol.

The mother-of-one told the court the pair had demanded to be let in, claiming the family were harbouring a fugitive.

They then burst into the house. The man told Mr Flores: 'Don't take this personal, but this bullet has your name on it.'

Accused: Shawna Forde is one of three people charged with two counts of first-degree murder over the shooting of Brisenia Flores and her father

Accused: Shawna Forde is one of three people charged with two counts of first-degree murder over the shooting of Brisenia Flores and her father

He then opened fire, hitting Mrs Gonzalez in the shoulder and leg.

Her husband was hit multiple times before the gunman turned to her daughter.

She described hearing the murderer reload his weapon as he ignored Brisenia's pleas for mercy and then open fire.

The gunman and his accomplice left but as Mrs Gonzalez called 911, she heard him returning.

Desperately wounded, she dragged herself through the house to find her husband's gun and exchanged fire with her assailant, who police say is Jason Bush.

He was injured and fled the scene. 

Forde was arrested shortly after the shooting. She had Mrs Gonzalez's wedding ring and other jewellery, according to police.

Investigators said that she was originally a member of the anti-immigrant Minuteman Project but left to form a more extreme breakaway group.

Members claim that it is their civil duty to protect the Mexican border with weapons as the authorities are unable to do so. 

Forde allegedly funded her by group by robbing the houses of suspected drug dealers. When she reportedly proposed one such raid to two potential accomplices, they phoned the FBI - who did nothing because they believed the suggestion was too ludicrous to be true.

Prosecutor Kellie Johnson said: 'Not only will the state prove to you that Shawna Forde was in that house that night, barking orders and telling people what to do, the state will prove that Shawna Forde organised and planned this offence.'

Forde's lawyer Eric Larsen told the court that she was not at the house and that much of the evidence was circumstantial

Forde denies murder. The trial continues. If convicted, she faces the death penalty.

.@chase Stop Picking on Bankers, douchebag king banker Dimon Says #p2

no shit: Everyone Was to Blame, Crisis Panel Finds

Rand Paul wants FDA budget cut by 62%; even though he finds diarrhea abhorrent, sometimes Liberty requires it #p2 #tcot #teaparty

thanks Barefoot and Progressive

US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas violated conflict of interest law #p2

Over the course of 21 years, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas repeatedly broke a government ethics law requiring that federal employees disclose their spouse's income and employers, an open government advocacy group, Common Cause, reported last week.

In response, Thomas on Monday filed papers admitting his wife, Virginia "Ginnie" Thomas, was gainfully employed by right-wing and pro-corporate lobbying groups. Thomas sought to alter financial disclosure forms going as far back as 1989, two years before he joined the high court.

The revelations illustrate the advanced rot of the American judicial system and the control that corporate money wields over the highest court in the land. Thomas and another right-wing justice, Antonin Scalia, trample upon basic precepts of the judicial system—non-partisanship, court impartiality and the rule of law—with impunity, safe in the knowledge they will be shielded by the Obama administration and the court's liberal wing.

Virginia Thomas, an outspoken Republican and widely regarded as the most partisan Supreme Court spouse in the institution's history, was paid $686,589 from 2003 to 2007 by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, according to Internal Revenue Service tax filings. It is not yet known how much she was paid between 1998, when she was first hired by Heritage Foundation, and 2002. It is also not known how much she was paid in 2008 by right-wing Hillsdale College of Michigan for heading up its Washington D.C. constitutional law program. She earlier worked as a lobbyist for the US Chamber of Commerce and as a congressional aid to former Texas Republican Dick Armey, who is now a leading figure in the Tea Party movement.

In 2009 Virginia Thomas launched Liberty Central, another right-wing lobbying group closely linked to the Tea Party, the supposedly "grass roots" political movement funded with tens of millions from billionaires Charles and David Koch. Liberty Central was endowed by an undisclosed donor with $550,000, and a Koch Industries lobbyist, Matt Schlapp, was installed on its five-member board of directors.

In October 2010, it was revealed that Clarence Thomas and Scalia each spoke at secretive political strategy sessions hosted by Koch Industries, the second largest privately-held corporation in the US. According to a letter describing the events, entitled "Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity," "participants committed [themselves] to an unprecedented level of support" in order for Republicans to win in the midterm elections. Scalia and Thomas have admitted their presence at these events but not when they attended, which could have had a bearing on then-pending Supreme Court cases.

Clarence Thomas continues to insist that his wife was not paid anything for this work at Liberty Central, according to the revised conflict-of-interest forms he filed Monday. He brazenly claims that the falsification of his wife's employment status on the conflict-of-interest forms was an innocent mistake, saying it was "inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions," in a letter to the Supreme Court office that submits the financial disclosure forms.

The claim that Thomas could have made such an error—which required him to fill in with pencil a specific box claiming his wife had no income over $1,000—is absurd on its face. Under a section of the form entitled "spousal noninvestment income," each year for more than a decade Thomas checked a box labeled "none." This is not "omission," but an out-and-out lie.

"Justice Thomas sits on the highest court of the land, is called upon daily to understand and interpret the most complicated legal issues of our day and makes decisions that affect millions," said Common Cause president Bob Edgar. "It is hard to see how he could have misunderstood the simple directions of a federal disclosure form. We find his excuse is implausible."

"It wasn't a miscalculation; he simply omitted his wife's source of income for six years, which is a rather dramatic omission," said Stephen Gillers of New York University law school. "It could not have been an oversight."

The fact that Thomas could be paid, through his wife, hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of dollars by Republican-affiliated pro-corporate lobbying groups delegitimizes hundreds of important cases argued before the Supreme Court. Many of these decisions were ultimately decided in the right wing's favor by 5-4 margins, including the infamous Bush vs. Gore decision stopping vote-counting in Florida and handing the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush, and last year's Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case, which overturned decades of campaign finance law and opened the floodgates to secret corporate donations to political candidates.

According to Common Cause, as a result of Citizens United, "Outside groups spent more than $296 million on the 2010 Congressional midterms—a 330 percent increase over 2006—with more than $135 million of that coming from undisclosed donors." Among those most active in supporting the Citizens United lawsuit were several right-wing groups funded by the Koch brothers.

Common Cause filed a complaint with Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday arguing that the Citizens United case should be vacated because both Thomas and Scalia were obligated to recuse themselves from the proceedings. Had they done so, the plaintiffs in the case would very likely have lost in a 4-3 decision

Thomas' actions in leaving out from his conflict-of-interest filings his wife's income and employer identity is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, a law that allows the Attorney General to "bring a civil action in any appropriate United States district court against any individual who knowingly and willfully falsifies or who knowingly and willfully fails to file or report any information that such individual is required to report." The law defines such falsification as "unlawful" and punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year, or, if it is prosecuted under the Title 18 US Code 1001 injunction against making false statements or entries, by up to five years imprisonment.

In appealing to Holder to petition for a retrial in the Citizens United case, Common Cause points to the US Code's Title 28, Section 455, which stipulates, "Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned," including cases in which a judge's spouse "is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding."

In fact Virginia Thomas openly celebrated the decision, telling the Los Angeles Times in March, 2010, that Liberty Central could now "accept donations from various sources—including corporations—as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court."

There has so far been no comment from the White House or the Attorney General's office. With the Obama administration attempting to outdo the Republicans in the courtship of big business, there is no desire to retry the Citizens United case.

The author also recommends:

US Supreme Court justice's wife has leading role in ultra-right group
[1 November 2010]

The Supreme Court ruling on corporate political spending
[23 January 2010]

SOTU: revealed obliviousness/indifference of political establishment to social disaster confronting millions of Americans #P2 #TCOT


President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night demonstrated the insular, sclerotic and reactionary character of the American political system.

The annual presidential address before the US Congress long ago degenerated into a hollow ritual. What was remarkable about Obama’s address, however, was how completely it revealed the obliviousness and indifference of the political establishment to the social disaster confronting tens of millions of Americans.

No aspect of social reality can be openly and honestly addressed by any section of the American ruling class or the corporate-controlled media. This is itself a reflection of the staggering levels of social inequality and the intensity of class tensions that permeate American life. The fear is that any acknowledgment of the real state of American society could become a focus for the social anger building up just below the surface.

There was no mention in the speech of record levels of long-term unemployment, plunging home values or the million-plus foreclosures occurring each year. Nor was the steady growth of hunger, homelessness and poverty even raised. One would not know from the hour-long address that virtually every American state and city is insolvent and in the process of shutting schools, laying off teachers and other public employees and imposing furloughs and cuts in wages and pensions.

Instead, Obama boasted of having “broken the back of the recession.” His proof? “Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up.”

That Obama, in a prime-time, nationally televised speech to the nation, should hail the good fortune of the financial parasites who were chiefly responsible for bringing the US and world economies to their knees is highly revealing of the real constituency of the president and both political parties.

What social strata are benefiting from the bull market and record corporate profits? What comfort are such tidings to working Americans, when 90 percent of all stocks, bonds and mutual funds in the US is owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of the population, and more than half is controlled by the richest one percent?

There was plenty more good news for big business in the speech, including Obama’s promise to slash the corporate tax rate and gut regulations on business.

Wall Street’s recovery has been the direct result of the administration’s policies, beginning with the multi-trillion-dollar bailout of the banks. The Federal Reserve’s cheap credit policy and the lack of any serious reform of the financial system have fostered a resumption of the type of financial swindling and criminality that led to the crash of September 2008.

Record corporate profits have also been the result of White House policy. Despite its pronouncements to the contrary, the administration welcomes high levels of joblessness because it enables corporations to boost their profits by pressuring workers to accept lower wages and benefits. The White House initiated a nationwide wage-cutting drive with its attack on GM and Chrysler workers last year, and has accelerated it with its recent pay freeze on federal employees.

In his speech Tuesday, Obama signaled that a drastic and permanent reduction in working class living standards is at the center of his strategy to double exports within five years. What does “making the US competitive” with low-wage countries such as China and India mean in the context of an economic policy that equates “growth” and “job-creation” with boosting corporate profits? It means shrinking the labor cost gap between the US and these emerging market countries by reducing US wages, pensions and benefits and intensifying speedup on the job.

Obama sought to evoke the aura of Kennedy and the 1960s space race, declaring that globalization and the rise of China had created “our generation’s Sputnik moment.” This was an entirely cynical attempt to make the case for unity and sacrifice in answer to a new challenge to the nation as a cover for an actual policy of class warfare against the vast majority conducted in the interests of a small, aristocratic minority.

Under Obama’s program―dubbed “winning the future”―all the sacrificing will be done by the working class. It will be devastated by cuts in social spending (a five-year freeze in non-defense discretionary spending) followed by attacks on the basic entitlement programs―Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The rich will get a further cut in their tax rates (in the name of “simplifying” the tax code) and an even bigger share of the national wealth.

“We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business,” Obama proclaimed, echoing the remarks of President Calvin Coolidge that the “business of America is business.” Obama has unashamedly turned the White House into a branch office of JPMorgan Chase or General Electric. Indeed, in the run-up to the speech he appointed multi-millionaire JPMorgan executive William Daley as his White House chief of staff and put General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt in charge of the newly created Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

In 2008, powerful financial and political interests maneuvered to channel popular anger against the Bush administration and its militarist and pro-business policies behind the Obama campaign. In 2010, the ruling class manipulated the mid-term elections―exploiting widespread popular disillusionment over the betrayal of Obama’s campaign promises and disgust with his right-wing policies―to engineer a Republican victory and justify a further lurch to the right by Obama.

The entire experience of this administration proves the undemocratic character of the two-party system and its complete subordination to the financial oligarchy.

In order to defend its interests, the working class must build a socialist movement, independent of the Democratic Party and its allies in the trade union apparatus, that will fight for a workers’ government to break the stranglehold of the financial aristocracy and reorganize economic life on the basis of social need, not private profit.

We urge all workers and young people determined to carry out this fight to make the decision to join and build the Socialist Equality Party.

.@SARAHPALINUSA Moron: Palin completely misunderstands what "Sputnik Moment" means #p2 #tcot

video here

So Sarah Palin went on Greta Van Susteren's show last night and one of the "questions" was about what she thought of President Obama's reference to America's "Sputnik moment" during his State of the Union address.

Just about everyone knows that the phrase "Sputnik moment" refers to America's response to the Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite and how it galvanized the nation to make the scientific and technological advantages that allowed us to go to the moon and beyond, but not Sarah Palin.

To Palin, the Sputnik moment was a bad thing for America and the fact that President Obama "would aspire Americans to celebrate" it represents a "WTF moment." Why? Because, she says, Sputnik "resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union."

Of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union had to do with more than just Sputnik (and does Palin really think its collapse was a bad thing?), but the point of President Obama's speech wasn't that we should emulate the Soviet Union -- it was that we should emulate our own history and our own response to Sputnik. Palin obviously didn't understand that, which makes for a truly remarkable 45 seconds of television -- quite possibly the stupidest 45 seconds of babbling by a potential presidential candidate in American history:


GRETA: Governor, last night there was a lot of discussion about the Sputnik Moment the President wants us to have. Do you agree with him? Is this our moment?

PALIN: That was another one of those WTF moments, when he has so often repeated, the Sputnik Moment, that he would aspire Americans to celebrate, he needs to remember that what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory and that race to space, yeah, they won, but they also incured so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union so I listen to that Sputnik Moment talk over and over again and I think, no we don't need one of those.

.@GOP Puts Guy Who Thinks Federal Child Labor Laws Are Unconstitutional On Senate Judiciary Committee #P2 #TCOT #TEAPARTY


There's only three things Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) likes in a sentence: a noun, a verb, and "unconstitutional." Indeed, Lee has recently claimed that federal child labor laws, FEMA, food stamps, the FDA, Medicaid, income assistance for the poor, and even Medicare and Social Security violate the Constitution. Yet Senate Republicans have inexplicably chosen to put Lee on the very Senate committee that has jurisdiction over constitutional questions and the judiciary:

[A]ides said two Republicans, Sens. John Thune, R-S.D. and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and one Democrat, Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., will take seats on the Finance Committee. Freshman Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, will join the Senate Judiciary Committee and freshman Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D. and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., are expected to win two of several open Appropriations Committee seats.

Placing Mike Lee in charge of overseeing the Constitution is a bit like putting Dick Cheney in charge of hunting and gun safety, yet the Senate GOP was so eager to put this radical tenther on the Judiciary Committee that it waived a rule prohibiting both of a state's senators from serving on Judiciary in order to ensure Lee's membership.  Bizarrely, this move exposes a very real divide between Senate Republicans and the President. While President Obama's State of the Union Address specifically highlighted "child labor laws" as an example of the kind of "commonsense safeguards" that all Americans can embrace, the Senate GOP apparently sees no problem with Lee's view that federal child labor laws cannot constitutionally exist.