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E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post brings up that word again that was only seen on blogs until its recent appearances in traditional media: oligarchy. He writes, It’s time for progressives to reclaim the Constitution:

In the May issue of the Boston University Law Review, Joseph R. Fishkin and William E. Forbath of the University of Texas School of Law show that at key turning points in our history (the Jacksonian era, the Populist and Progressive moments and the New Deal), opponents of rising inequality made strong arguments “that we cannot keep our constitutional democracy — our republican form of government — without constitutional restraints against oligarchy and a political economy that maintains a broad middle class, accessible to everyone.”

Their article is called “The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution,” though Forbath told me that he and Fishkin may give the book they’re writing on the topic the more upbeat title “The Constitution of Opportunity.” Their view is that by empowering the wealthy in our political system, Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United directly contradict the Constitution’s central commitment to shared self-rule.

The Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times comes to some conclusions on the influx of minors crossing the southern U.S. border:
This humanitarian crisis, which is how President Obama has described it, is both divisive and frustrating, and finding long-term solutions will require a broad and nuanced understanding of the problem. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has argued, this is a regional crisis that demands regional solutions—not just more guards at the border or more lawyers in the immigration courts. The United States should be involved in those solutions because it is more than just a wealthy country that attracts illegal immigrants; it bears some responsibility of its own for the violence and instability in Central America.
Katha Pollitt at The Nation laments of Hobby Lobby decision that There’s no telling how far religious exemptions will go under Justice Alito’s ruling:
Facts are stubborn things, as John Adams famously said. Unless, that is, you’re talking about religion. Then facts don’t seem to matter at all: right you are if you think you are. The Hobby Lobby case was billed as a test of religious freedom versus the power of the state: Did the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) mean that David Green, the evangelical Christian CEO of a chain of crafts stores, could be exempt from providing coverage for the full range of contraceptives for his employees under the Affordable Care Act? Green balked at including Plan B, Ella (another form of emergency contraception) and two kinds of IUD, because, he claimed, they caused “abortion” by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The Court’s 5-to-4 decision—which featured all three women justices ruling for the workers, and all five Catholic men ruling for the corporation—was wrong in many ways. But the thing I really don’t understand is why it didn’t matter that preventing implantation is not “abortion,” according to the accepted medical definition of the term. And even if it was, Plan B, Ella and the IUDs don’t work that way, with the possible exception of one form of IUD when inserted as emergency contraception. As an amicus brief from a long list of prestigious medical organizations and researchers laid out at length, studies show that emergency contraception and the IUD prevent fertilization, not implantation. They are not “abortifacients,” even under the anti-choicers’ peculiar definition of abortion. (Green is actually more moderate than some anti-choicers, who include hormonal contraception, aka “baby pesticide,” as abortion.) Why doesn’t it matter that there is no scientific evidence for Green’s position? When did Jesus become an Ob/Gyn?

Below the fold are more pundit excerpts.

Paul Krugman at The New York Times views those who said government spending to ease the impact of the Great Recession continue to spout magical thinking about the economy in Conservative Delusions About Inflation:

On the eve of the Great Recession, many conservative pundits and commentators—and quite a few economists—had a worldview that combined faith in free markets with disdain for government. Such people were briefly rocked back on their heels by the revelation that the “bubbleheads” who warned about housing were right, and the further revelation that unregulated financial markets are dangerously unstable. But they quickly rallied, declaring that the financial crisis was somehow the fault of liberals — and that the great danger now facing the economy came not from the crisis but from the efforts of policy makers to limit the damage. [...]

Needless to say, it’s not the first time a politically appealing economic doctrine has been proved wrong by events. So those who got it wrong went back to the drawing board, right? Hahahahaha.

In fact, hardly any of the people who predicted runaway inflation have acknowledged that they were wrong, and that the error suggests something amiss with their approach. Some have offered lame excuses; some, following in the footsteps of climate-change deniers, have gone down the conspiracy-theory rabbit hole, claiming that we really do have soaring inflation, but the government is lying about the numbers (and by the way, we’re not talking about random bloggers or something; we’re talking about famous Harvard professors.) Mainly, though, the currency-debasement crowd just keeps repeating the same lines, ignoring its utter failure in prognostication.

You might wonder why monetary theory gets treated like evolution or climate change. Isn’t the question of how to manage the money supply a technical issue, not a matter of theological doctrine?

Rebecca Burns at In These Times takes a look a a little-noticed phenomenon that could make big economic inroads if organizers spread it, as she points out in Worker-Owners Cheer Creation of $1.2 Million Co-op Development Fund in NYC:
In a victory for new economy advocates, the New York City Council passed a budget last week that will create a $1.2 million fund for the growth of worker-owned cooperative businesses. The investment is the largest a municipal government in the U.S. has ever made in the sector, breaking new ground for the cooperative development movement. [...]

Across the country, similar local economic justice coalitions have been seeking to persuade municipal governments and local institutions to throw their resources behind the development of worker-owned co-ops. It’s those resources, many advocates believe, that could take co-ops from a niche movement to a broad-based strategy for creating living-wage jobs and putting economic power in the hands of workers.

Melissa Hoover, executive director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives and the Democracy at Work Institute, hails the New York City Council’s move as “historic.” “We have seen bits and pieces here and there, but New York City is the first place to make an investment at that level,” she says. [...]

To that end, [co-op develop consultant and co-founder of San Francisco-based Project Equity Hilary] Abell hopes to see more cities follow in New York’s footsteps. In the Bay Area, she tells Working In These Times, local organizers are currently reaching out to local officials for support in scaling up worker-owned cooperatives to the point that they constitute five to 10 percent of the local economy. The coalition is particularly focused on creating jobs for workers of color in the low-income areas of the East Bay , as past experiences have shown that worker-owned co-ops can be particularly effective in redressing racial inequities in the job market. For example, Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security (WAGES), a network of nearly 100 worker-owned cleaning cooperatives in Oakland, has increased members’ incomes by more than 50 percent.

Tim Radford at Climate News Network repeats a warning in Quick fixes won’t solve CO2 danger:
Once again, US scientists have come to the same conclusion: there really is no alternative. The only way to contain climate change and limit global warming, they say, is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

It won’t really help to concentrate on limiting methane emissions, or even potent greenhouse gases such as hydrofluorcarbons, or nitrous oxide, or the soot and black carbon that also contribute to global warming. Containing all or any of them would make a temporary difference, but the only thing that can work in the long run is a serious cut in carbon dioxide emissions. [...]

The conclusion is not a new one. The same solution was recommended by a Californian-led team in June, and university researchers in Oxford, UK, and Bern, Switzerland also said much the same in November last year.

Henry A. Giroux at Truthout writes Data Storms and the Tyranny of Manufactured Forgetting:
The current mainstream debate regarding the crisis in Iraq and Syria offers a near perfect example of both the death of historical memory and the collapse of critical thinking in the United States. It also signifies the emergence of a profoundly anti-democratic culture of manufactured ignorance and social indifference. Surely, historical memory is under assault when the dominant media give airtime to the incessant war mongering of politicians such as Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham and retro pundits such as Bill Kristol, Douglas Feith, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz - not one of whom has any credibility given how they have worked to legitimate the unremitting web of lies and deceit that provided cover for the disastrous US invasion of Iraq under the Bush/Cheney administration.
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones writes The NSA Said Edward Snowden Had No Access to Surveillance Intercepts. They Lied.:
For more than a year, NSA officials have insisted that although Edward Snowden had access to reports about NSA surveillance, he didn't have access to the actual surveillance intercepts themselves. It turns out they were lying.1 In fact, he provided the Washington Post with a cache of 22,000 intercept reports containing 160,000 individual intercepts. The Post has spent months reviewing these files and estimates that 11 percent of the intercepted accounts belonged to NSA targets and the remaining 89 percent were "incidental" collections from bystanders. [...]

The whole story is worth a read in order to get a more detailed description of what these intercepts looked like and who they ended up targeting. In some ways, the Snowden intercepts show that the NSA is fairly fastidious about minimizing data on US persons. In other ways, however, the NSA plainly stretches to the limit—and probably beyond—the rules for defining who is and isn't a US person.

Michael W Twitty at The Guardian takes a look at a custom that taught black children just how limited were their options were in Jim Crow America in his column, Black people were denied vanilla ice cream in the Jim Crow south—except on Independence Day:
By custom rather than by law, black folks were best off if they weren't caught eating vanilla ice cream in public in the Jim Crow South, except – the narrative always stipulates—on the Fourth of July. I heard it from my father growing up myself, and the memory of that all-but-unspoken rule seems to be unique to the generation born between World War I and World War II. [...]

The late poet Audre Lorde had a similar narrative to Angelou's in her own autobiography, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. She visited Washington DC with her family as a child, around Independence Day, and her parents wanted to treat her to vanilla ice cream at a soda shop. They were rebuffed by the waitress and refused service. She expressed disappointment at her family and sisters for not decrying the act as anything but "anti-American". She summed up the event:

The waitress was white, the counter was white, and the ice cream I never ate in Washington DC that summer I left childhood was white, and the white heat and white pavement and white pavement and white stone monuments of my first Washington summer made me sick to my stomach for the rest of the trip.
Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine writes of How Barack Obama Saved the Obama Administration:
The logic of Obama’s environmental regulations is fairly straightforward now. But it wasn’t straightforward before he announced them. Some extremely smart reporters and political analysts considered it doubtful (John Broder), or even vanishingly unlikely (Matthew Yglesias, Ryan Lizza) that Obama would actually regulate existing power-plants. If it was that obvious that Obama would use his regulatory authority this way, nobody would have believed otherwise. The decision obviously undertook some political risks that not any Democratic president would have unhesitatingly accepted.
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