May 1, 2010 archive

Good Morning, America: You’re Fired!

The empire is really sucking bilge water when they start firing key propagandists!

Job cuts at ABC leave workers stunned and downcast


Photo: Good Morning America hosts demonstrating happy-happy-joy-joy to Disney-berg villagers.

If “Good Morning America” or “World News” look any different in the coming weeks, it might be because ABC News is employing nearly 400 fewer people.

Earlier this week, ABC News, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, largely completed one of the most drastic rounds of budget cutbacks at a television news operation in decades, affecting roughly a quarter of the staff. The cutbacks promise to change ABC both on- and off-camera.

The business of news is a particularly ugly one these days, and news outlets across the country have trimmed their staffs. But it is exceedingly rare for a newspaper or a network to shed a quarter of its employees all at once, as ABC has done.

For viewers, the effects will be felt on the individual broadcasts, like “World News with Diane Sawyer,” which lost two of its six senior staff members to buyouts. They will not be replaced.

In the future, more segments will be reported, filmed and edited by jacks-of-all-trades, called digital journalists, internally. They may lack the polish that a traditional four-person crew can provide, but they are much less expensive. Sometimes two of the digital journalists will team up for reports.

Hell, just sign up for an account at Docudharma!

And drop a nickel in the kitty.

Obama Bashes Integration and Abortion

Barack Obama wandered away from the teleprompters last Wednesday night on Air Force One, and engaged in “an impromptu conversation with reporters” about liberal activism on the Supreme Court.  

“It used to be that the notion of an activist judge was somebody who ignored the will of Congress, ignored democratic processes, and tried to impose judicial solutions on problems instead of letting the process work itself through politically,” Mr. Obama said.

“And in the ’60s and ’70s, the feeling was — is that liberals were guilty of that kind of approach. What you’re now seeing, I think, is a conservative jurisprudence that oftentimes makes the same error.

Mr. Obama’s comments, which came as he prepares to make a Supreme Court nomination, amounted to the most sympathetic statement by a sitting Democratic president about the conservative view that the Warren and Burger courts — which expanded criminal defendant rights, required busing to desegregate schools and declared a right to abortion — were dominated by “liberal judicial activists” whose rulings were dubious.

Glenn Greenwald provided a little context around Obama’s impromptu right-wing rant.

Given that the defining rulings of those decades have long formed the bedrock of the progressive understanding of the Constitution and the judiciary, that the dominant Justices of that era (Brennan, Marshall, Douglas, Black) are the iconic liberal judges of the 20th century, and that those decades produced the most vital safeguards for core Constitutional guarantees and critical limits on executive power, Obama — as I said yesterday — should at least specify which decisions he finds “erroneous” and illegitimate.  But the imperial decree has been issued and that’s apparently all you need to know:

The White House declined to identify rulings that Mr. Obama believes relied on judicial activism.

The absolute dumbest political platitude in the vast canon of right-wing idiocies has long been the premise that courts act improperly — are engaged in “judicial activism” — whenever they declare a democratically enacted law invalid on the ground that it is unconstitutional.  That’s one of the central functions of the courts, a linchpin of how our Constitutional Republic operates.  We’re not a pure democracy precisely because there are limits on what democratic majorities are permitted to do, and those limits are set forth in the Constitution, which courts have the responsibility to interpret and apply.  When judges strike down laws because they violate Constitutional guarantees, that’s not a subversion of our political system; it’s a vindication, a crucial safeguarding of it.

It’s possible that Barack Obama doesn’t really oppose integration and abortion rights, and simply believes that the courts should have waited for legislatures to write Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade into law, instead of engaging in “judicial activism.”

But the framers of the US Constitution were notoriously unwilling to allow basic human rights to be redefined by every succeeding gang of newly-elected politicos, and they consequently embedded the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment directly into the Constitution.

So maybe what Mr. Obama means by “letting the process work itself through politically” is that proponents of abortion rights and integrated schools should have summoned a Constitutional Convention, instead of relying on “judicial activism” or transitory Congressional legislation which every succeeding Congress could reverse or re-instate.

But when the over-active Warren Court wrote its unanimous 9-0 opinion in Brown v. Board of Education, for example, no less than 17 states still enforced de jure segregation of schools.

So in order to attain the necessary two-thirds majority of approval by state legislatures required for a Constitutional Convention, black Americans would have had to wait for 34 integrationist legislatures to over-rule the 17 segregationist states…

And that means they would have had to wait for the 51st state to be admitted to the Union, and that means…

They would still be waiting.


Of course Obama isn’t really trying to overturn Brown v. Board of Education, and his impromptu attack on “judicial activism” is just an unusually clumsy manifestation of unscripted Obama.

The real problem is a real possibility that the Roberts Supreme Court might overturn the “mandates” of healthcare reform as an illegitimate and unprecendented extension of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

It is true that the Supreme Court has interpreted the Commerce Clause broadly enough to reach wholly intrastate economic “activity” that substantially affects interstate commerce. But the Court has never upheld a requirement that individuals who are doing nothing must engage in economic activity by entering into a contractual relationship with a private company. Such a claim of power is literally unprecedented.

On March 21, the same day the House approved the Senate version of the legislation, the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation released a 157-page “technical explanation” of the bill. The word “commerce” appeared nowhere. Instead, the personal mandate is dubbed an “Excise Tax on Individuals Without Essential Health Benefits Coverage.” But while the enacted bill does impose excise taxes on “high cost,” employer-sponsored insurance plans and “indoor tanning services,” the statute never describes the regulatory “penalty” it imposes for violating the mandate as an “excise tax.” It is expressly called a “penalty.”

This shift won’t work. The Supreme Court will not allow staffers and lawyers to change the statutory cards that Congress already dealt when it adopted the Senate language.

Yes, the smart money is always on the Court upholding an act of Congress. But given the hand Congress is now holding, I would not bet the farm.

The bottom line is that if the Democrats had enforced healthcare mandates with a tax, they could have avoided the relatively serious Constitutional challenge which attaches to an unprecendented penalty, but in that case they would have had to abandon their role as tax-cutters and in general “Republicans lite,” so they rejected the unpopular category of taxes in favor of the very possibly unconstitutional category of penalties.

Now the Joint Committee on Taxation is trying to run away from that mistake, and they can run, but they can’t hide.

This Week in Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness. This is an Open Thread.

UN: Stop rape now

Charlize Theron: She could be your mother, your sister, your daughter.

Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert: It is perhaps more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict.

Nicole Kidman: Those responsible for sexual violence must be held accountable.

Leymah Gbowee: Wars and being fought on the bodies of women and children.

Dr. Denis Mukwege: Sexual violence is the monstrosity of our century

Theron: Go to to learn more and to take action

Learn More go to Stop Rape

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.  

Open Maypole


Bill Moyers Journal Last Airing

Bill Moyers Journal, aired his last show on April 30th 2010 as he goes into a well deserved retirement after many years of service to his fellow American’s with his outstanding and one of a kind journalism, real journalism, joining the ranks of the few before him and the very few still practicing their craft and profession as professionals!

With this technology and it’s coming advancements everything can be archived and much easier to search out to not only find the past, and it’s lessons, but what really is and not that spoken by some as to what isn’t but quickly grasped by some as their gospel without bothering to join the realities!.

Atrocities in Afghanistan: A Troubling Timetable

By Kathy Kelly and Dan Pearson

April 30, 2010

Peace activists can hasten an end to the U.S. war in Afghanistan by demanding a timetable for U.S. military withdrawal. A bill in the U.S. Congress introduced by Representatives McGovern and Jones, requires such a timetable. In the Senate, a similar bill has been introduced by Senator Feingold. Arguments in favor of a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan should include readiness to examine disturbing patterns of misinformation regarding U.S./NATO attacks against Afghan civilians.

It is worth noting that even General McChrystal acknowledges that U.S. forces have killed civilians who meant them no harm. During a biweekly videoconference with US soldiers in Afghanistan, he was quite candid. “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force,” said General McChrystal. “To my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I’ve been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it.”

Those families and individuals that General McChrystal refers to should be our primary concern. We should try to imagine the sorrow and horror afflicting each individual whose tragic story is told in the “timetable” of atrocities committed against innocent people. How can we compensate people who have endured three decades of warfare, whose land has been so ravaged that, according to noted researcher Alfred McCoy, it would cost $34 billion dollars to restore their agricultural infrastructure.

We should notify our elected representatives that the $33 billion dollar supplemental funding bill sought by the Obama administration to pay for U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could be directed toward helping Afghanistan replant its orchards, replenish its flocks, and rebuild its irrigation systems. We should insist on an end to atrocities like those which follow.

The list below describes, in part, the suffering and agony that people in Afghanistan have endured since April, 2009. To focus on this list doesn’t excuse atrocities committed by Taliban fighters. It does indicate our own responsibility to urgently educate others and ourselves about a deeply disturbing pattern: U.S./NATO officials first distribute misleading information about victims of an attack and later acknowledge that the victims were unarmed civilians.

Providing a Way to Encourage the Best in Other People

So much of my life I spend cynically griping about the bad side of human nature.  The work I do every day frequently centers around a ceaseless source of constant frustration.  Seeking strategies to reform destructive behaviors is the basic skill set of many professions and basic activism.  Influencing people so that they might understand the correct means of conducting their lives is a substantial challenge and a constant energy drain.  I’m sure many of you understand this quandary all too well.  While it is true that we all possess a dark side, some more than others, recent events in my life have provided a unexpected but welcome sense of clarity and perspective. I note with joy over the past three days that I have, much to my great surprise, seen the very best in people.  Once again I am humbled to have been proven incorrect in my assumptions about others.

On This Day in History: May1

Today in history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro debuted in Vienna, Austria.


On This Day in History: May1

Today in history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro debuted in Vienna, Austria.


Docudharma Times Saturday May 1

Saturday’s Headlines:

BP’s containment problem is unprecedented

Tourism firm to offer space rides for $102,000


Environmental catastrophe looms on Louisiana’s coast

Ariz. gov signs bill revising new immigration law


Amazon’s Luxembourg base means improved consumer rights

Belgium passes Europe’s first ban on wearing burka in public

Middle East

Arab ‘middlemen’ help Jewish settlers buy homes in East Jerusalem

Why Iran’s Ahmadinejad is pushing to cut popular government subsidies


The enemy within: why coalition forces fear attack by Afghan comrades

Mumbai attack masterminds ‘will never be brought to justice’


Rwanda Pursues Dissenters and the Homeless

UN chief warns against early withdrawal from DR Congo

May ’70: 2. Nixon Kicks It Off!

I want to continue this review of May, 1970 with a deeper look at Richard Nixon’s speech, broadcast 40 years ago tonight. It was that speech, announcing that US troops were invading Cambodia, which triggered the eruption of protest that was May 1970. Actually, you could say Tricky Dick predicted it:

My fellow Americans, we live in an age of anarchy, both abroad and at home. We see mindless attacks on all the great institutions which have been created by free civilizations in the last 500 years. Even here in the United States, great universities are being systematically destroyed.

The US High Command had known since 1967 that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, as the leaked Pentagon Papers later showed. Nixon had been elected in 1968 with the promise that “new leadership will end the war” and giving wink-and-nod no-comment replies to reports he had a “secret plan” to do so.

More on the Gulf Oil Debacle…

oil spill Pictures, Images and Photos

Last night Mike Malloy interviewed Mike Papantonio, who co-hosts the weekly radio program, Ring of Fire, along with Bobby Kennedy, Jr.  Both are prominent trial attorneys, oftentimes representing plaintiffs in environmental damage suits.  As one might imagine, they are probably not included on the holiday greeting card list for any of the companies in the Fortune 500.  

The opening topic was the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  What follows are some bits and pieces that I can recall from that interview as well as my commentary.

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