Category Archives: Constitution

Do Drones Undermine Democracy? – NYTimes.com

Do Drones Undermine Democracy? – NYTimes.com.

Sunday Review

Do Drones Undermine Democracy?

Washington

IN democracies like ours, there have always been deep bonds between the public and its wars. Citizens have historically participated in decisions to take military action, through their elected representatives, helping to ensure broad support for wars and a willingness to share the costs, both human and economic, of enduring them.

In America, our Constitution explicitly divided the president’s role as commander in chief in war from Congress’s role in declaring war. Yet these links and this division of labor are now under siege as a result of a technology that our founding fathers never could have imagined.

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We don’t have a draft anymore; less than 0.5 percent of Americans over 18 serve in the active-duty military. We do not declare war anymore; the last time Congress actually did so was in 1942 — against Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. We don’t buy war bonds or pay war taxes anymore. During World War II, 85 million Americans purchased war bonds that brought the government $185 billion; in the last decade, we bought none and instead gave the richest 5 percent of Americans a tax break.

And now we possess a technology that removes the last political barriers to war. The strongest appeal of unmanned systems is that we don’t have to send someone’s son or daughter into harm’s way. But when politicians can avoid the political consequences of the condolence letter — and the impact that military casualties have on voters and on the news media — they no longer treat the previously weighty matters of war and peace the same way.

For the first 200 years of American democracy, engaging in combat and bearing risk — both personal and political — went hand in hand. In the age of drones, that is no longer the case.

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WITHOUT any actual political debate, we have set an enormous precedent, blurring the civilian and military roles in war and circumventing the Constitution’s mandate for authorizing it. Freeing the executive branch to act as it chooses may be appealing to some now, but many future scenarios will be less clear-cut. And each political party will very likely have a different view, depending on who is in the White House.

[…]

Read the full article here: The New York Times

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America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine

America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine.

Fire Congress, Dump Mississippi and Alaska

How a private-equity firm would refurbish the United States for quick resale to China.

Like many large corporations, America is going through a painful transition as it reaches maturity. Growth has stagnated, expenses have soared, and shareholders are getting antsy. While emerging markets offer potential, competitors are rapidly eating away at the United States’ market share. Analysts are bearish, with many believing the country is on the decline. Is it time for a leveraged buyout?

Probably not. Still, it’s a fun thought experiment: What sort of changes and cost-cutting measures would a firm like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital impose if it wanted to buy the country at a discount and refurbish it for a quick, profitable sale to, say, China?

Though the United States carries a $15 trillion debt load, if you look past its bloated budget and shaky governance, the country has some valuable assets. America has vast real estate holdings, a productive workforce, reliable cash flows, and a globally recognized brand name. An aggressive private-equity outfit, though, would find a lot to cut and a lot of people to fire. Here’s a 10-point plan to get the country shipshape.

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Read the full article here: Slate Magazine

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Guantánamo, 10 Years Later – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

Guantánamo, 10 Years Later – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Room for Debate Home

Updated January 9, 2012 6:33 PM

Guantánamo, 10 Years Later

On Jan. 11, the U.S. detention camp at Guantánamo Bay — despite calls for its closing — will have been open for 10 years. The politics of shutting down the camp are complex.

What’s wrong with Guantánamo, and to what extent have the problems been fixed? What should the next Congress do?

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Read the full debate here: The New York Times – Room for Debate

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Should Foreign Money Be Allowed to Finance U.S. Elections? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

Should Foreign Money Be Allowed to Finance U.S. Elections? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Updated January 6, 2012 2:17 PM

Foreign Money Swaying U.S. Voters?

The United States Supreme Court may decide this week to take up a case involving Benjamin Bluman, a Canadian citizen, who is challenging the Federal Election Commission for the right to contribute money to American political candidates. The court ruled two years ago that banning political spending by corporations, labor unions or other organizations in elections violates the First Amendment’s free speech principles. If that’s the case, argue those in support of Bluman, then foreign nationals also have the right to contribute to U.S. political campaigns.

Are they correct? Should noncitizens who live in America be allowed to donate to U.S. elections? What are the ramifications for U.S. politics?

[…]

Read the full debate here: The New York Times, Room for Debate

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Richard Cordray: Is Obama’s recess appointment consistent with past presidential practices? – Slate Magazine

Richard Cordray: Is Obama’s recess appointment consistent with past presidential practices? – Slate Magazine.

Sneaking By the Senate

When did presidents start using recess appointments to bypass advice and consent?

President Obama used his recess appointment power to make Richard Cordray head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday, after Senate Republicans refused to allow a vote on the matter. When did presidents start using the recess appointment power to install people they knew the Senate would reject?

More than two centuries ago.

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The authority to make recess appointments, and controversies surrounding it, are nearly as old as the United States itself. During the debates over constitutional ratification, anti-federalists argued that it gave the president monarchical powers. George Washington made several recess appointments without major uproar during the very first Senate recess in 1789, but even the esteemed first president soon ran into trouble.

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Read the full article here: Slate Magazine

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Super PACs are a dangerous new weapon – The Washington Post

Super PACs are a dangerous new weapon – The Washington Post.

Ruth Marcus
Opinion Writer

Super PACs are a dangerous new weapon

DES MOINESThe barrage of commercials tells the story: This is a presidential election without meaningful contribution limits or timely disclosure, outsourced to political action committees whose spending often dwarfs that of the candidates they support.

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Read the full article here: The Washington Post

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Let Noncitizens Contribute to U.S. Elections – NYTimes.com

Let Noncitizens Contribute to U.S. Elections – NYTimes.com.

Let Noncitizens Contribute to U.S. Elections

Arlington, Va.

ON Friday the United States Supreme Court will meet to decide whether to hear Bluman v. F.E.C., a First Amendment challenge to a federal law that prohibits noncitizens living in the United States (but who don’t have green cards) from making contributions to American political candidates or from spending money on independent speech to influence elections.

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Read the full article here: The New York Times

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Westchester’s Desegregation Battle – NYTimes.com

Westchester’s Desegregation Battle – NYTimes.com.

Editorial

Westchester’s Desegregation Battle

The struggle for racial integration is neither bygone nor exclusively Southern. In Westchester, north of New York City, county leaders are stonewalling federal authorities over a longstanding housing desegregation case. Led by County Executive Rob Astorino, they are defending an ultrawhite status quo against the federal government’s effort to upend decades of housing discrimination.

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Read the full article here: The New York Times

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G.O.P. Field Has Broad Views on Executive Power – NYTimes.com

G.O.P. Field Has Broad Views on Executive Power – NYTimes.com.

In G.O.P. Field, Broad View of Presidential Power Prevails

WASHINGTON — Even as they advocate for limited government, many of the Republican presidential candidates hold expansive views about the scope of the executive powers they would wield if elected — including the ability to authorize the targeted killing of United States citizens they deem threats and to launch military attacks without Congressional permission.

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The answers come against the backdrop of a decade of disputes over the scope and limits of presidential authority. Because executive branch actions are often secret and courts rarely have jurisdiction to review them, the views of the president — and the lawyers he appoints — about the powers the Constitution gives him are far more than an academic discussion.

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Read the full story here: The New York Times

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Ironic Perry can’t get on Va. ballot – Houston Chronicle

Ironic Perry can’t get on Va. ballot – Houston Chronicle.

Ironic Perry can’t get on Va. ballot

Updated 08:14 p.m., Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry has another “oops” on his hands, having failed to get on the ballot for the March 6 Virginia primary. His campaign submitted more than enough names to meet the 10,000-signature requirement, but it did not ensure that the people who collected the autographs were all registered voters or eligible to vote in the state, which is a requirement for the Virginia Republican primary.

Perry does not deny that he failed to meet the state statutory requirements, but that does not mean he is simply going to take it. Rather, Perry is suing in federal court to overturn this state decision. And for a 10th Amendment advocate like Perry, that’s like rain on his wedding day.

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To win this case, Perry is going to need a judge willing to overturn state law. Dare we say, Perry will need an activist judge.

We think Perry should take this opportunity to reflect upon his antagonistic rhetoric toward federal courts.

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The governor might also use this experience to contemplate the consequences of the overreaching voter ID law that he supported in the Texas Legislature. After all, that law threatens to place severe burden on voters’ freedoms of speech and risks prohibiting otherwise qualified voters from taking part in the democratic process.

We agree that Virginia’s ballot requirements are overly burdensome, and as a major candidate Perry does belong on the ballot. But Perry suing in federal court over strict state voter ID rules is exquisitely ironic.

Read the full article here: The Houston Chronicle

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Filed under 1st Amendment, ballots, Constitution, election laws, elections, federal courts, judicial activism, Judicial System, politics, USA, Virginia, voter ID