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Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
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The US supreme court has become a threat to democracy. Here's how we fix it

The US supreme court has become a threat to democracy. Here's how we fix it
Sabeel Rahman

The court has been weaponized to skew political power and insulate extreme conservative coalitions from accountability

(Guardian UK) Just a few days after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are moving quickly to appoint and confirm a replacement. A growing number of moderates, such as Eric Holder, are warning that should Republicans ram through an appointment, this fact, plus the deliberate blockade of Barack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland in 2016, would justify a new Democratic administration and Congress to add seats to the supreme court to restore balance.

With voting already under way in the 2020 election, a rushed appointment and confirmation in this moment would be a clear partisan power play, and further collapse the legitimacy of the supreme court. But more broadly, the firestorm over Justice Ginsburg’s replacement is a reminder of how the modern supreme court has too much power in the first place. It is critical that our democracy reform agenda also consider how to reform the judiciary.

First, courts have too much power to radically remake our social and economic life. If this latest Trump appointment goes through, the resulting 6-3 far-right majority on the supreme court would have the power and opportunity next month to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (in the middle of a deadly pandemic). They would be positioned to further gut voting rights, reproductive rights and rollback anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ and Black and brown Americans, while further shielding police departments and immigration officials from accountability for racist state-sponsored violence against people of color. While courts have at times also ruled in more progressive directions to advance rights and equity, on balance this concentration of power without sufficient accountability is a threat to democracy – and to the ability of our communities to thrive.


Second, we need to protect democratic politics from being upended by the idiosyncrasies of an individual justice, or the randomness of when a justice might step down or pass away. That means regularizing the replacement process by establishing fixed and staggered term limits for justices. We could also expand the size of the supreme court, and move to a model akin to circuit courts of appeals, where cases are heard by randomly drawn smaller panels, with an option to appeal to the larger full circuit. ..........(more)


Florida man suing McDonald's, claims he was injured by Chicken McNugget

This was a pretty unhappy meal.

A McDonald’s customer is suing the company after he says he was hurt biting into a Chicken McNugget. The man claims he cracked one of his teeth on a piece of bone inside one of the nuggets.

Alexei Stolfat is suing McDonald’s for $1.1 million and is calling for a recall of all McNuggets, the Sun-Sentinel reports. He ordered the food through Uber Eats from a West Palm Beach restaurant.

Stolfat says he felt pain in his mouth and suffered headaches for three days after biting into the bone. After going to the dentist, he reportedly discovered that his tooth was cracked in two places and would need surgery to replace it. ...........(more)


Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for equality -- media must make clear Trump's pick will do the opposite

Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for equality — media must make clear Trump's pick will do the opposite
This Supreme Court battle isn't just another partisan squabble. It's a historic turning point, and we should say so

SEPTEMBER 24, 2020 12:00PM

(Salon) The breathless horserace coverage about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court risks normalizing as just another partisan squabble what is in fact an epic clash between two starkly different visions of America, only one of which can be accurately described by the phrase engraved above the court's front entrance: "equal justice under law."

Based on what we know about Trump's top judicial appointees thus far, his choice to replace Ginsburg will be a radical extremist, not just by Democratic standards but by the standards of the general public, and even by the standards of jurists installed by previous Republican administrations.

As a group, Trump's appointees to the courts represent not just a retrograde view of women's rights, gay rights, and voting rights, they also vest power in corporations over workers and consumers, and in the presidency over Congress, while drastically limiting the government's ability to establish new rights and regulations. Much like their champion, their views hearken back to a golden era of White Christian America that never really existed, and bear little relationship to reality. They are fundamentally out of step with the American people, and with the American story.

A lot has been written about Ginsburg's legacy, and much of it has been wonderful, but the who's-up-who's-down coverage about her succession is pushing aside necessary context about what is at stake if she's replaced by someone with essentially opposing views. .........(more)


'You can win this!': how Beto O'Rourke is becoming Joe Biden's greatest ally

(Guardian UK) Beto O’Rourke has a plan for America, and it starts in Texas. The Democrat from El Paso, who became a global superstar with his insurgent 2018 bid to oust Ted Cruz from the US senate then went on to contest the Democratic presidential nomination, is back where he says he likes it most – trying to move mountains in the Lone Star state.

With less than a month to go before early voting opens in Texas, with its giant crop of 38 electoral college votes in play, O’Rourke has a message for his one-time Democratic presidential rival. “We can see what’s happening in Texas and are screaming at Joe Biden from the roof tops. ‘Hey, over here! You can win this!’”

O’Rourke points to FiveThirtyEight’s poll tracker that has Donald Trump just one point ahead of Biden in Texas – an astonishingly close call for a state that has voted solidly for Republican presidential candidates since Jimmy Carter in 1976. He points to the state’s rapidly diversifying population that turned minority majority in 2005 and has seen 2m more new voters registered even since his paper-thin defeat to Cruz two years ago.

Winning Texas is the definitive answer to any dirty tricks Trump might be tempted to try were he to lose the election on 3 November, O’Rourke contends. “If Texas comes in for a Democrat for the first time in almost half a century the shock will be seismic. Trump may or may not accept those results, but the rest of the country absolutely will. It will forever reorder what’s possible.” ...........(more)


More Giuliani mystery: He created two unknown companies amid his work for Trump in Ukraine

(Salon) Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney, has told Salon that he created two new companies last year amid his work on Trump's behalf trying to dig up damaging information on Joe Biden in Ukraine. The purpose of the companies, especially that of Giuliani's brand new one-man law firm — as well as their possible connections to the president — is somewhat unclear.

According to New York records, one of the companies, first called Giuliani Media and now known as Giuliani Communications, was created in November, just before Giuliani traveled to Ukraine with a production crew from One America News Network (OAN).

During that trip, Giuliani interviewed Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, who was recently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as an "active Russian agent," for material included in a documentary later aired on OAN. Giuliani released his interview with Derkach a few months later.

Although the existence of Giuliani Communications has not been previously reported, its creation lines up with reports at the time that Giuliani planned to create a podcast aimed at defending Trump from the impeachment narrative. He eventually launched that podcast, which airs regularly, and has conducted video interviews as well — including the one with Derkach. For unclear reasons, Giuliani changed the company name to Giuliani Communications in March 2020, the same month he released his Derkach interview. ...............(more)


Trump campaign still appears to be hiding large-dollar payments to Kimberly Guilfoyle and Lara Trump

Trump campaign still appears to be hiding large-dollar payments to Kimberly Guilfoyle and Lara Trump
Meanwhile, former campaign manager Brad Parscale appears to have taken a $15,000 a month pay cut since his demotion

SEPTEMBER 22, 2020 2:35AM

(Salon) The Trump campaign appears to still be hiding large-dollar payments to some of its top staff from federal regulators, including campaign manager Bill Stepien, chief strategist Jason Miller and former Fox News host turned chief fundraiser Kimberly Guilfoyle, campaign filings show.

The campaign's August report, which was filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission, shows no payroll payments to a number of senior advisers, with gaps from July previously reported by Salon still open.

While the campaign reports salary payments to chief of staff Stephanie Alexander and senior adviser Katrina Pierson — at the rate of $20,000 a month each — it does not appear to issue similar reports for Guilfoyle; COO Jeff DeWit; or senior advisers Bob Paduchik, Bill Shine and Lara Trump, filings show.

Further, the Trump campaign has still not disclosed any payments to senior adviser Jason Miller or new campaign manager, Bill Stepien, who took over Brad Parscale's role in July, according to mandatory filings. .............(more)


Florida man arrested after girl hit with flagpole during street corner pro-Trump rally

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A 67-year-old Florida man is facing a charge of child abuse after a young girl was struck with a flagpole during a political rally in Orange Park, according to a report from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident was caught on camera by Crystal Ledoux, the mother of the 13-year-old girl. She said it happened Wednesday near the Freddy’s on Blanding Boulevard.

According to Ledoux, they were driving to the restaurant when they noticed the group of President Trump supporters holding a rally on the sidewalk.

"There was a gentleman on the corner of the road flipping cars, waving at cars back and forth saying, “Trump 2020.” We flipped him off as well and said, “Biden 2020,” and with that he came charging at us," Ledoux said. "I tried to pull forward but there was nowhere I could go because there was a car in front of us.

The video shows the man lunge toward the car with the flagpole, which appears to go through the car’s open window. ..............(more)


Revealed: evidence shows huge mail slowdowns after Trump ally took over

(Guardian UK) The United States Postal Service (USPS) saw a severe decline in the rate of on-time delivery of first-class mail after Louis DeJoy took over as postmaster general, according to new data obtained by the Guardian that provides some of the most detailed insight yet into widespread mail delays this summer.

Shortly after taking the helm, DeJoy - a major Republican donor with no prior USPS experience - implemented operational changes he said were intended to make the financially beleaguered agency more efficient. Those changes, which included an effort to get postal trucks to run on time, led to severe delays and widespread public outcry this summer.

In late August, DeJoy announced he was putting the changes on hold until after the election, and last week a federal judge in Washington blocked USPS from implementing them. The changes were clearly aimed at “voter disenfranchisement”, given the increased role USPS will play in this year’s presidential election, the US district judge Stanley Bastian wrote in his ruling.

“It is easy to conclude that the recent Postal Services’ changes is an intentional effort on the part the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections,” Bastian wrote. ............(more)


Detroit Free Press: Joe Biden is the anti-toxin America needs

(Detroit Free Press Editorial) Among the myriad lawn signs sprouting in anticipation of November's presidential election, two are noteworthy for their seeming nonpartisanship:

The first sign — "ANY FUNCTIONING ADULT 2020" — makes light of America's current upheaval, tacitly confessing how little today's disillusioned voters expect of their elected leaders.

The second, beginning with the words "IN THIS HOUSE," advertises the occupants' allegiance to a list of cardinal virtues — kindness, respect for learning, compassion for those with disabilities, etc. — as timeless and anodyne as the Girl Scout Law.

Neither sign mentions any candidate, political party or elective office. But it is telling that both signs are understood — instantly and universally — to signal the resident's opposition to Donald Trump's re-election.


Donald Trump’s election was a tragedy whose cost Americans have scarcely begun to reckon. Its most conspicuous casualties are the disproportionate number of American lives extinguished by a pandemic that raged unchecked for months while the president shrugged off, mocked and occasionally obstructed the medical community's urgent efforts to contain it. .............(more)


Trump's eugenics obsession: He thinks he has "good German genes," because he's a fascist

Trump's eugenics obsession: He thinks he has "good German genes," because he's a fascist
Trump's "racehorse theory" of genetics is profoundly racist — it's also why he thinks he's a natural-born genius

SEPTEMBER 21, 2020 12:30PM

(Salon) Over the past five years or so, I've had no problem using the "F" word (fascism) to describe what's been happening under President Trump and the Republican Party. I wrote about it here in Salon all the way back in 2015, noting that I wasn't the only one. In fact, it was his fellow Republicans who were the first to use the term to describe him. All you have to do is go back and read that full-page newspaper ad Trump took out in 1989, headlined "Bring Back the Death Penalty, Bring Back Our Police," to understand his fundamental authoritarian nature.

Even though we knew from the beginning that we were dealing with an essentially authoritarian leader, our awareness of it has sometimes been subsumed amid the sheer chaos of daily news over the past five years. But if you look at the various issues Trump is most obsessed with, whether it was the lurid obsession with terrorist violence and refugees during the 2016 campaign or his preoccupation with immigrants, the pardoning of war criminals, his flirtations with dictators, the endless threats to jail his political opponents and muzzle the press, the valorizing of the Confederacy and the openly racist "law and order" campaign of this year, it's pretty clear what gets him excited — along with his devoted following.

But wait, you say: Donald Trump only cares about himself! He's not interested in anything as abstract as "issues," not even the ones that tickle his lizard brain. But these are not mutually exclusive things. You see, Donald Trump genuinely believes he is scientifically superior to all those "others" and that they must be kept in check, with whatever level of violence may be necessary.

He doesn't talk about this a whole lot, but it definitely comes up from time to time. Just this past weekend in Minnesota, in the midst of one of his most rambling, racist rallies in a long while, Trump said this, startling quite a few people who perhaps weren't aware of his deep and abiding belief in eugenics: ...............(more)


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