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Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 04:55 PM PDT

I Don't Blame Thomas -- He Lies Openly

by djayritt

Look, I'm not a Constitutional Law Professor, I only play one on Monday nights at a local law school.  And I don't pretend to have any kind of neutral, non-baised take on what happens in those hallowed halls.  As far as I can tell, it's mostly a BYOB frat party.

I have two favorite stories from teaching Con Law to the poor pathetic souls who file in at 6 pm on Mondays to my class.  The first is about former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.  I don't hate the guy.  Granted, while Thurgood Marshall spent his pre-Supremes days arguing Brown v Bd of Education on behalf of the NCAAP, Billy Boy spent his pre-Supremes day with a bullhorn outside Arizona polling places trying to convince Latino votes that they'd all go to IRS hell if they voted, and, really, that's pretty much all you need to know about the difference between the two.

But one interesting fact about Chief Justice Bill (besides his decision to pimp himself to RMN in exchange for appointment) is his really interesting decision in the Virginia Pharmacy case on commercial speech for First Amendment rights.  On the one hand, you had the folks on the Supremes willing to give commercial (that is, business) speech some little amount of Constitutional protection.  On the other hand, you had Bill -- interestingly enough -- advocating for zero protection for commercial speech, especially for pharmacies.  His argument, and it wasn't a bad one, is that because pharmacies peddled drugs -- some of which were painkillers -- they didn't really need any extra protections and allowing them to advertise lower prices might actually encourage folks to abuse painkillers.  The rest of the Court seemed a little taken aback by that.  So what?  It's free speech babies -- everybody ought to have access to equal info.

Interesting thing was...turns out Chief Justice Bill Rehnquist had himself quite a little predilection for painkillers and knew damn well the dangers of letting folks know where you could get that stuff cheaper.  No one else on the Court really knew that.  Bill ended up in rehab, and if you want to read about it, check out Jeffrey Toobin's "The Nine" for some great Sup Ct gossip.  

I got nothing bad to say about Bill's perspective.  Sounds right to me.  From his perspective, commercial speech out not be provided any real protections at all -- as opposed to political speech -- which deserves full on protection b/c it's integral to the functioning of our democracy -- or at least our republic form of democracy.

God I miss those guys.  Say what you will about Bill and his bull horn outside Arizona polling places, or Sandra D and her role as a Goldwater Girl -- these folks actually gave a shit about the Constitution and wanted to make sure that the protections that were provided in that document remained true today.

Our fuckwads on the Court today could care less.  The recent decision on Title V of the Voting Rights Act is an abject disgrace.  Even Bill -- wacked out on Vicodin.  Even Sandra Dee -- from Stanford, Arizona and Barry G.  Even folks like Lewis Powell and Warren Burger.  None of them would have signed on to this shite.  

Conservatives used to complain about the kinds of judges who would simply overturn democratically elected decisions for their own ideological goals.  Fair enough.  Laws criminalizing birth control.  Struck down.  Lucks criminalizing abortion.  Stuck down.  Luck segregating schools and public places.  Struck down. Laws criminalizing inter-racial marriage.  Struck down.  All these laws -- passed by the representatives of the people -- in the ideal manner of republican for democracy -- all struck down by an "activist" court which purported to know better than the people.  I got it.  I get it.  There's  a principled basis for that criticism.

What happened today is a conservative court that crapped on that whole concept.  And I'm disgusted.  Not surprised.  Just disgusted.  And I think Sandra D, and (if he were alive) Bill R and Lewis P and Harry B (who, btw, voted agains the Pentagon Papers case), all would agree.  Let alone my judicial heroes -- William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, Earl Warren and William O Douglas.

Don't ever let anyone -- Rose Perot, Rand Paul, Ralph Nader.  Don't let anyone tell you that election's don't matter, that Democrats are the same as Republicans.  We saw the difference today..


I've just finished reading (ok, by "reading" I mean listening on while my fat ass drags itself back and forth to my office on my heLAcious SoCal morning and evening commutes) Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein's "It's Even Worse Than It Looks," which came out last year and is a moderate, well-articulated, evenly advocated confirmation by two guys from the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution (not exactly, you know, Occupy Wall Street or the Daily Pravda) of the one fundamental fact everyone who has paid just a nickel's worth of attention to the vaguest of political dialogues knows to be true -- that the Republican Party has taken the bullet train to Crazytown, like, yesterday.  What I found really interesting was one of the suggestions which Mann and Ornstein raise in their book (published last year -- again -- last year) as a way of perhaps de-railing the Batshit Express -- especially in the wake of Citizens United and the influx of massive quantities of cash into the electoral system -- that is, for the IRS to aggressively go after the entities (mostly conservative, according to the conservative Mann and Ornstein) which are abusing the 501(c)(4) rules by creating political entities which don't have to disclose their donors.  Reason being, said Mann and Ornstein last year, conservative organizations were completely abusing the 501(c)(4) non-disclosure rules and engaging in political activities with absolute impunity and in clear violation of the law.

Let me say that again -- and be slow because I barely can contain myself as I think of this -- these guys were suggesting in 2012 that the IRS AGGRESSIVELY PURSUE THE MOSTLY CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS HIDING BEHIND 501(c)(4) DESIGNATIONS.

As Maggie tells Danny Noonan in "Caddyshack," -- Tanks for nutting, Noonan! Or...oops.

Funny thing, turns out the IRS appears to have taken these very well-respected, moderate, political scientists' suggestion and -- HOLY CRAP IT'S A CONSPIRACY.  Specificall, as Mitch McConnell says recently, it part of a "culture of intimidation" by the thuggish (insert Chicago-style phrase here) Obama Administration to silence its poor, victimized conservative political opponents.  

Uh huh.  Let's put aside that McConnell is pulling the Obama Administration's purported role in the IRS' examination of these organizations out of the part of his body which should be encased in tidy-whities.  There's an even more important aspect to McConnell's lame ass comments which everyone seems to be overlooking.  If, in fact, the organizations which the IRS was targeting and examining were primarily engaged in political speech then THEY WERE BREAKING THE LAW, then hell's yeah, they should be targeted.  501(c)(4) organizations are designed to promote the "general welfare" NOT engage in political speech of any sort -- conservative, liberal or today's Republican (ie, loony tunes).  In exchange for promoting the "general welfare," 501(c)(4) organizations get two cool benefits -- one, they don't have to pay taxes, and two, they don't have to disclose where their money is coming from.  That's REALLY nice if you are, say, a giant oligarchy hell bent on bending the political system to your will with tens of millions of dollars worth of swiftboating lies and you don't want folks to know that your last name starts with K and ends with an OCH.  BUT you're not entitled to those sweet benefits if the primary purpose of your organization is to engage in political speech -- you can still spend up the ying yang, you just can't hide behind the 501(c)(4) shell.  You gots to come out and wave at all the pretty people.  Helllooooo.....

So, count me as one of the people who thinks two things.  First, the media is totally missing the point of the IRS focus on 501(c)(4)'s.  The IRS was doing exactly what it should have been doing -- making sure that these organizations were not primarily engaged in political speech but were rather doing what they were supposed to do under the law -- promote the general welfare.  And two, thanks Mitch, for making the point that the IRS was doing exactly what it was supposed to do.  If they really were targeting conservative political speech, then gives those dancing fools another fully paid convention trip to Cleveland, or wherever.  Cause they're just doing their jobs right!

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Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 04:59 PM PDT

I Am So Lame

by djayritt

Like the World's Most Interesting Liberal Blogger, I don't often blog but when I do, I choose to blog at...Red  Why, you ask, would I -- a Berkeley-educated, Reform Jew(ish)y/Agnostic secular humanistic, daily Daily Kos-reading, Noam Chomsky-hypnotized, Southern California-living, hybrid-driving, green tea-drinking, Aaron Sorkin-loving, Obama campaign-working defense lawyer and sometimes Constitutional Law Adjunct Professor -- post on Red State?  Why?

Because...I. Am. So. Lame.

I never or rarely blog here.  I rarely ever even post a comment here, even though I visit Daily Kos more often per day than David Vitter probably visited (made it up -- don't bother) during his heyday.  Why?

Because...I. Am. So. Lame.

And because, notwithstanding my well developed Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I don't have much to add here.  I enjoy and am generally illuminated by, the posts and diaries of the great writers here.  (From tone thus far, you'll know I'm a huge Hunter and Meteor Blades fan).  Most times, I'd just be another echo in the chamber of what I tend to perceive as, I suppose, truth.  So I don't bother.

Red State, on the other hand, intrigues me to the point where I am far more likely to post a comment or two.  Like the proverbial Xanax-addled moth drawn to the tequila flame of Erik Erickson, I cannot escape it.  And also, truth be told, I harbor a deep abiding belief in the underdog.  I am a Charger fan, a Padres fan, a frackin' Clippers fan and, of course, a California Golden Bear fan.  I root for losers every single year.  My heart is broken every single year, on every sport's field of combat, every single season.  And yet I continue to believe.  

And I believe in something else, even crazier than a Chargers Super Bowl victory or the Bears in the Rose Bowl.  I believe that there are (or should be) common areas of human experience, moral values and political striving that join all of us -- conservative and liberal, Tea Partier and Occupier -- together, and I believe that if I could just get those guys over at Red State to listen to me for just a minute or two, well...then...unicorns and lollipops all around, people.

Which, of course, leads me to: I. Am. So. Lame.

So here's why I'm posting this diary now.  While it didn't get a lot of play here at Daily Kos, over at Red State, they're doing Mary Lou Rettonesque double somersaults over David Sirota's somewhat agitpropy column at Salon entitled "Let's Hope the Boston Marathon Bomber is a White Guy," or something close to that.  Here's the link, because it's a great piece:

Anyway, Sirota's general point (made yesterday) is that if the bomber(s) turn out to be white guy(s) (and as of fifteen minutes ago, it's kinda looking that way), we as a country and a political body are far less likely to douse our moral and political selves in metaphorical gasoline and set ourselves and our principals on fire than we would be if these guys turn out to be dark-skinned foreigners, especially Islamic.  Reason being, of course, you know, history.  And he cites to things like studies and facts and the pretty undeniable double standard our country has engaged in when reacting to terrorist acts (compare McVeigh to Bin Laden -- no Patriot Act, shredding of the Fourth Amendment, crapping on the Geneva Convention, or wars against the Midwest arising out of the former -- or, for that matter, go back to WWII and compare the reaction to potential Japanese spies on the West Coast and potential Italian or German spies on the East Coast -- somebodies were rounded up, had all their belongings and property stolen and shuttled off to friggin Utah and somebodies didn't).

Sirota is especially interesting when he cites to an article by Darryl Johnson, the guy who joined the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush Administration, led an investigation into domestic terrorism and then wrote the DHS report about the rise of right-wing home-grown terrorism in this country, only to have his report leaked and mischaracterized by shrieking and hysterical conservatives to such a degree that they actually shut down and dismantled the entire department and investigation.  Shut down the investigation.  Into terrorist activity in this country.  Cause the guys the were investigating were white.  So, Sirota seemed to have a point.

For my friends over at Red State, this article was not just wrong, not just historically skewed or inaccurate, but rather reflective of an evil, racist moral cancer that eats away at the "elite" (i.e., I think they're referring to that breed of evildoer known as the "intellectual") who read or subscribe or like or write for  Here's the link to their featured diary:  Even scarier than the article itself, were the comments, some of whom decided that what Sirota really needed was a lesson in how the true evildoers -- Islamic fundamentalist crazies -- are the real problem, and so they (completely falsely) ascribed to Sirota -- in Arabic -- statements about the prophet Mohammed of the sort that might get him killed by crazies.  Which, I don't know, I tended to think was a little over the top.  But that's me.

So, I had to comment, only I couldn't comment on the article because I was already on double secret probation at Red State for other comments I had made of an insufficiently batshit crazy nature.  I could, however, for some reason actually post a diary about it, which I did.  It was entitled, "David Sirota Is Not Evil."  And, guys, really, it was super nice.  Like I always do (because -- [see diary title), I have this naive abiding faith in human nature and I let it out on the page.  As you can see:  Really, really nice.  In retrospect, wayyyy tooo nice.

Anyway, the comments section on it -- some were nice in their characterization of me and my point as the product of evil liberal brainwashing/douchebaggery/what have you.  Other comments, not so nice, a little lengthy, disconnected, perhaps even mentally ill.  You can see for yourself.

But, as to the nicer comments, I wanted to reply, which I could only do if I logged in to my Red State account.  Which I can't do anymore.  Because I've been blacklisted, or, redlisted, or kicked off.  I have been apparently permanently banned from Red State and blocked from signing on to my account.  For my unconscionably polite and respectful defense of David Sirota as not being evil and worthy of murder by Islamic fundamentalists.

I.  Am.  So.  Lame.

And wanted to share.


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