The U.S. Constitution: Too Much Deference to It, Not Enough Difference With It
The framers of the U.S. Constitution never meant it to be the unassailable, fix-resistant final word on “the law of the land,” but the basis for vigorous debate, and even open challenges, in pursuit of a more just and democratic society, says our guest, Louis Michael Seidman, professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University.
Too much deference is given to the Constitution and not enough difference taken with it, he says in his recently published On Constitutional Disobedience. Consequently, Americans have been living under a compact that compels them to forfeit what the framers regarded as a most basic right for themselves—the right to question or disobey even “supreme” laws and policies that might pass the test constitutionally but nonetheless are wrong.
Seidman has written several books and scholarly papers on the U.S. Constitution generally challenging “the sheer oddity of making modern decisions based upon an old and archaic text,” as he put it in his current release.
Well, here we are, by popular demand, at the premiere of “Free Your Mind Friday!”
It’s a re-branded, re-scheduled “Open Forum,” but with the same purpose and intent—to be the gathering place for the vigorous exchange of information, opinions and ideas.”
Leid Stories’ listeners had everything to do with it. Fridays (as opposed to Tuesdays) allow for a review of the week’s major issues, they said, and they liked “Sarah from Dallas”’s idea of having an opportunity to exorcise burdensome thoughts before the weekend. Mission accomplished on both counts.
So, free your mind. Let’s hear what you have to say about whatever you think is worth [re]considering.
Edward Snowden has said that his motivation for looting an estimated 1.7 million classified files from the National Security Agency was to expose the NSA’s indiscriminate, wholesale violations of privacy rights in pursuit of the clandestine interests of the surveillance state. He carefully selected media outlets to tell various aspects of the story based on the files, he said. The London-based Guardian newspaper and contributing reporter Glenn Greenwald were clear favorites.
But after a few stories that gained international attention came a noticeable lull that was broken by news that Greenwald had struck a $250-million deal with Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire owner of Paypal, a longtime cooperator with the NSA’s data-collection program and, recently discovered, co-funder with the U.S. government of ultraright groups seeking to topple the government in Ukraine. Greenwald and a small posse of “leftist” journalists are now employees of Omidyar’s recently launched multimedia venture, First Look Media.
Questions abound. Did Snowden get punked by the person he said he entrusted his classified cache to? Is Greenwald a checkbook journalist? Is Omidyar now the “owner” of Snowden’s looted files? Did Greenwald strike a deal also with the U.S. government to hand over certain files?
An EyeOpener report by independent commentator James Corbett puts the issue in perspective.
Why the Ukraine-Crimea Crisis Should Make Us Change Our Politics
If nothing else, the Ukraine-Crimea crisis should cause us to re-examine our basic political philosophy and orientation. Why? Because it clearly hasn’t happened at the leadership level; across the board, they’ve run out of good, innovative ideas and new ways of doing things.
Leid Stories raises a number of examples that illustrate the stagnation of progress in many spheres of American life, owing largely to an unwillingness, incapacity or downright refusal to embrace new ideas and realities. No “modern” nation, let alone a “world-leading” one, would tolerate a 2-million-plus prison population, or ninth-place standing in the world on Internet speed, or one-in-seven poverty rates, or would engage in Cold War bloviating and call it diplomacy. In its policy making the United States is its own conundrum, having a futuristic vision of itself that cannot be accomplished with vapid ideas and ways of doing things.
Leid Stories expands on this theme and asks the question: The system is impervious to change. What, then, are our political choices?
Detroit Seeks Court OK on Bank Payoffs; Coalition Readies for Showdown;
Obama, Congress Mull $1 Billion in Aid to Ukrainian Fascists
State-appointed city manager Kevyn Orr late yesterday filed a motion with the federal judge overseeing Detroit’s $18-billion bankruptcy seeking approval of an $85-million settlement Orr said he had worked out with two creditor-banks to end costly interest-rate swap deals from 2005. Judge Steven Rhodes had rejected two previous proposed settlements.
Meanwhile, grassroots groups opposed to Orr’s appointment, the bankruptcy, and drastic cuts to pensions and city services have formed a coalition and are getting ready for a courtroom battle.
Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African Newswire and a Detroit organizer for the Workers World Party, updates the situation in Detroit.
Gaining no traction with veiled military threats against Russia in the Ukrainian crisis, Washington instead will buy its way in with an immediate $1-billion “aid” package to help its would-be client—the ultranationalist “government” that ousted the democratically elected president. No such legislative speed or money to solve problems at home, says a Leid Stories commentary.
Venezuela, Ukraine Crises Reheat Battle for Hemispheric Hegemony
The dynamics of the crises in Venezuela and Ukraine—and, now, Crimea—are changing almost by the minute, pointing up complex issues that go far deeper than Secretary of State John Kerry’s supersimplistic, and predictably standard, explanation that they are about “freedom and democracy.”
Dr. Gerald Horne, who has written extensively on struggles against imperialism, colonialism, fascism and racism and teaches graduate courses in diplomatic history at the University of Houston, expands his Feb. 28 discussion with Leid Stories (check podcast) that places these crises in proper historical, ideological and geopolitical perspective.
Particular attention is given to the roles of the United States and Russia, and hemispheric hegemony.
The Ukraine and Venezuela Crises, and U.S. Support for ‘Democracy’
Obama’s Shameless Objectification of Black and Latino Youth
Turmoil in Ukrain and Venezuela has dominated news headlines in recent weeks, apace with an escalation in the violent opposition to the now-ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and to President Nicolás Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela regime.
Generally, the media report both as popular struggles for freedom and democracy—echoing the open support and approval of the Obama administration. But what really is unfolding in these two countries? Noted historian, political scientist, social critic and author Dr. Gerald Horne, who has written more than 30 books and 100 scholarly papers and reviews on struggles against imperialism, colonialism, fascism and racism, goes behind the headlines.
President Obama yesterday launched at the White House an initiative to address key life challenges for African American and Latino boys and young men. Called “My Brother’s Keeper,” the initiative will focus on education, criminal justice and employment, he said, and nonprofits, businesses and foundations, which have already donated $150 million, will fund its satellite programs.
Leid Stories explains in a commentary why the noble goals of the program notwithstanding, Obama’s shameless use of “at-risk” populations to tout his philanthropic endeavor does not cancel out the political reality that his administration has done little to improve their lot.