Friday, August 13, 2010

Nightwatch: Trashing the Constitution

The tea partying Rabid Right is advocating trashing the Constitution and its Bill of Rights on behalf of numerous lunatic xenophobic cynical over-sugarified delusions. But the insidious but actual erosion--if not wholesale destruction--of Constitutional rights that got its big impetus with the Patriot Acts and other pandering- to- panic responses to terrorism, is continuing long past the last shadow of the Bushites cast on the White House lawn.

Some of that does get dropped at the door of the Obama administration, but a lot more is happening inside the Supreme Court, which used to be the prime protector of the Constitution because--remember those good old days?--that's supposed to be its job.

We all know about Citizens United which sells political speech to the highest corporate bidder, but a decision that completely got by me, for one, was Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, at least as interpreted in this article by David Cole in the current New York Review of Books. He writes that on June 21 the Roberts court"ruled that the First Amendment permits Congress to imprison human rights activists for up to fifteen years merely for advising militant organizations on ways to reject violence and pursue their disputes through lawful means."

In the past, the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment protected the right to advocate even criminal activity, including overthrow of the government, so long as one’s advocacy was not intended and likely to produce an imminent crime. In the Humanitarian Law Project case, however, the Court ruled—for the first time in its history—that speech advocating only lawful, nonviolent activity can be subject to criminal penalty."

If that's true, do I have to point out the many ways this is really really, frighteningly wrong?

In a not unrelated story, yet more statistical evidence that the threat of terrorism in the lives of Americans is way overblown: last year, dogbites joined the list of dangers that are more likely to kill or injure U.S. citizens.

In other news, the monsoon disasters in Asia, particularly in Pakistan, may not interest the U.S. media, but the U.S. government is on the job, helping out.

The Rabid Right pulled all the old strings to make the media jump by accusing Michelle Obama of doing a Nancy Reagan with a lavish vacation in Spain. The real story looks to be here: a combination of friendship, compassion, parenting and the necessities of being the First Lady. Not that they would be interested in the real story, of course.

NASA ain't pulling no punches in its report on this long hot summer, calling July What Global Warming Looks Like.

Following up on the continuing storm at Kos over "progressive" dissatisfaction with Obama and (re Robt Gibbs) vice versa, a popular post by blogger "puakev" documented liberal anger with FDR, something I've mentioned here once or twice, along with liberal anger with JFK, and (as this post documents) often in the same language as has been inflicted on President Obama.

Where I stand on all this in function terms I reproduce from my own comment on that post:

The constructive function of the left with a sympathetic president is to 1)advocate on particular issues and 2)build support for their positions, giving the president both ideas and political cover for moving towards their positions. But when the left personalizes their dissent, castigating the president and his administration in a global way, or piles up lists of imperfections, they do little that's constructive, a lot that's destructive. And a lot that is ultimately self-destructive.

Someday I may expound on that further. For now, it's back to third grade.

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