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Warren Zevon - Lawyers, Guns, and Money

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So this is it, the last day of the term for this disastrous SCOTUS.  It's a good thing that conservatives are so against activist judges who legislate from the bench, who override five votes by Congress on the votings rights laws, huh?  I really do wish that they were term limited.  As everyone notes, Roberts and his gang play the long game, but with the voting rights act, there are a lot of us who also play the long game and while they've worked for thirty years to get this, it's going to be a short term win for them.  This won't stand and in the end, they will lose, one way or another. There is more than one way to go about it.  And with the issue of equality, if they rule against it, time and culture change is working against them on that too.

Supreme Court Could Make History on Same-Sex Marriage, or Not

WASHINGTON — It is usually impossible to say when the Supreme Court will announce any particular decision. There is one exception: On the last day of the term, when the court takes action on every remaining case, the process of elimination supplies the answer.

The last day of the term is Wednesday. The court has yet to issue decisions in two momentous cases on same-sex marriage.

Those facts in combination mean that shortly after 10 a.m. the justices will announce their rulings on challenges to two laws that define marriage to include only unions of a man and a woman.

Keep trying to force your will on us and there will be a lot more where that came from.  Bravo, Ms. Davis.  You did us proud.
Texas Vote Passing Abortion Bill Is Rendered Moot

AUSTIN, Tex. — Hours after claiming that they successfully passed some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country, Republican lawmakers reversed course on Wednesday and said a disputed late-night vote on the bill did not follow legislative procedures, rendering the vote moot and giving Democrats a bitterly fought if short-lived victory.

The reversal capped a remarkable day in the Texas Legislature here. A petite Fort Worth Democrat in pink sneakers staged a 10-hour-plus filibuster marathon in which she never sat down. Abortion rights activists succeeded in disrupting Republican senators, and the fate of a bill that Gov. Rick Perry had made a priority devolved into a legislative mess so thick that even senators who had voted on the bill could not say for certain whether they had indeed voted on the bill.
“With all the ruckus and noise going on,” Mr. Dewhurst said, he could not complete administrative duties to make the vote official and sign the bill. Senate Democrats and women’s right’s advocates said the real reason the vote could not be made official was a time stamp on official documents that showed the bill passed after midnight. The Legislature’s official Web site first posted that the Senate’s vote occurred on Wednesday, after the midnight deadline, but the date was later changed to Tuesday for unknown reasons.

It's a bit too late for this.  Last night at a dinner meeting, one of the participants, who said that he tends to defend the Obama administration, so I assume he's a Dem, expressed what turned out to be a unanimous sentiment at the table.  The bellicose attitude of our government during this whole thing has been ineffective, and the whole world is mocking us as a result of it.  Not to mention that throwing Espionage charges at Snowden and calling for his head, branding him a traitor, did not help things at all and in fact made things worse. So now Kerry is trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube too, after already announcing to the world that Snowden was a traitor, while saying nothing about the things he revealed.

I'm no diplomat and I have no experience in the trade, but even I know that making demands of a guy like Putin and chest thumping is just about the last thing that one could expect to be effective.  Even I know that bringing the Chinese head of state over here only to scold him for hacking while you're on the offense doing the same thing is going to be a huge problem, and one that won't be forgotten any time soon. The Chinese play the long game and when you intentionally embarrass them publicly (and not just in one way, they were also pretty upset that his wife had no counterpart during the visit) it's not going to go over very well.  Kerry has also been banging the drum for using force against Syria and making a no-fly zone, battling with the Pentagon, and the Pentagon, led by a former Republican, and full of career war hawks, are looking like doves compared to Kerry, the supposedly "sensible on war" former senator with first-hand experience on the Vietnam clusterf*k.

So in my view, these past few weeks have been a major fail for our new Secretary of State.

Kerry Softens Tone with Russia in Snowden Dispute

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday softened the tone of the American requests to Russia to hand over Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former national security contractor who is accused of revealing surveillance programs.

“We are not looking for a confrontation,” Mr. Kerry said during a joint news conference with his Saudi counterpart. "We are not ordering anybody. We are simply requesting under a very normal procedure for the transfer of somebody.”
"We consider the attempts to accuse Russia of violation of U.S. laws and even some sort of conspiracy, which on top of all that are accompanied by threats, as absolutely ungrounded and unacceptable," Mr. Lavrov said in Moscow. “There are no legal grounds for such conduct of U.S. officials.”

More lies exposed.
Leaked Documents Reveal the Lie Behind U.S. Claims on Drone Strike's Victims in Pakistan

Watch the full interview with Jonathan Landay on Democracy Now! at Senior National Security and Intelligence reporter for McClatchy Newspapers discusses his reporting on secret U.S. records that confirmed drone strikes carried out in Pakistan over a four-year period ran contrary to the standards set forth publicly by President Obama. Classified U.S. documents reviewed by Landay show the Obama administration targeted and killed hundreds of supposed lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified "other" militants, even though they have claimed publicly to only target senior al-Qaeda leaders and associates planning to attack the United States. Records confirm drone operators were not always sure who they were killing.

Julia Gillard ousted as Australia prime minister

Gillard laid down the challenge to Rudd, when she called on Wednesday for a do-or-die ballot on the condition that the loser retire from parliament to end the debilitating Labor leadership war.

Gillard said she had called the ballot on the basis that "if you win, you are Labor leader; if you lose, you retire from politics" and was now expected to retire. A cabinet reshuffle is expected.

Yesterday, Sens. Wyden and Udall sent a letter to Keith Alexander, saying that the fact sheet he gave to Congress was not accurate.  NSA removed the fact sheet from their public web site.  I'm curious to see what, if any, updates to it will be made.  We need another Church Committee and long, thorough public hearings, not just the kabuki hearings that we've gotten so far and that we typically get from this Congress.
Liberal icon Frank Church on the NSA
Almost 40 years ago, the Idaho Senator warned of the dangers of allowing the NSA to turn inward

Even among US Senators, virtually nothing was known at the time about the National Security Agency. The Beltway joke was that "NSA" stood for "no such agency". Upon completing his investigation, Church was so shocked to learn what he had discovered - the massive and awesome spying capabilities constructed by the US government with no transparency or accountability - that he issued the following warning, as reported by the New York Times, using language strikingly stark for such a mainstream US politician when speaking about his own government:

"'That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.'

"He added that if a dictator ever took over, the NSA 'could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.'"

The conditional part of Church's warning - "that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people" - is precisely what is happening, one might even say: is what has already happened. That seems well worth considering.

The fault for this falls squarely on the conservative movement, but it's hard to argue with this.  We worked like hell to get them to filibuster Alito and that's no exaggeration. Anyone who was around dkos during those days will remember it.  For me, that was the first major disappointment with a Dem party on the rise and the first sign of bad things on the horizon.
About the Supreme Court

Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, et al knew that these guys were corrupt, racist, sexist ogres when they were up for confirmation. They could have organized a proper filibuster.. Bork was stopped, these ogres could have been stopped. Going back to at least as far as Bush vs Gore we knew that no member of the Federalist Society would decide according to the law, but only according to the conservative agenda.


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

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