Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 29, 2011

This week the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and the Teapublicans are furious because the American people will now have access to health care like most of the developed world already does. Something Un-American about that, to be sure. Meanwhile, Facebook had a curious historic moment when its management team joined the 21st century. And finally, spitting and cursing and fuming into the night, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gives a daily reason why there should be term limits at the highest court in the land.

The Stopped Clock Theory

This past week Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts proved that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. In his relatively short tenure Justice Roberts has already proven himself to be one of the most partisan right wing jurists in the history of the court. And while the Citizens United decision has unleashed untold harm to American democracy, the upholding of the Affordable Care Act will do much to preserve the lives and the quality of life for hundreds of millions of Americans.

Clearly, while the Roberts court taketh away, it occasionally giveth. Upon reflection there was no rational alternative but to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act but that hasn’t stopped Roberts and his Terrible Trio of AlitoScaliaThomas in the past – the daylight robbery of the 2000 presidential election immediately comes to mind.

Nevertheless, June 28, 2012 was a great day for the American health care system.
And now we are witness to the Teapublicans, led by their marionette candidate Mitt Romney, promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with promises of untreated disease, misery and hopelessness.

An interesting choice.

Facebook Ever Forward

Last week Facebook got around to joining the 21st century by appointing Sheryl Sandberg as the first female member of its board of directors. That sentence bears re-reading, several times. Facebook is acknowledged to be on the cutting edge of the new media for the new age.

Yet, its board of directors, all male until this past week, had a composition that would have made J.P. Morgan or Henry Ford very happy campers. Unfortunately,
Facebook is not unlike so many successful American corporations who feel that diversity issues are addressed by having a couple of left handed people on the board or one lonely woman or one Magic Negro.

Facebook has changed the way that we communicate. Perhaps it is finally time that Facebook also begins to change. And hopefully other corporations will take note.

Get Shorty

At the age of 75, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has had a direct and filthy hand in some of the most horrible decisions in the history of the court. While the Dred Scott decision is the all time worst, the theft of the 2000 presidential election ranks up there, as does the Citizens United decision. And Justice Scalia paw prints are all over these decisions.

Now, in a dissent to a decision partially upholding the abhorrent Arizona anti immigration law, Justice Scalia seized upon the opportunity to criticize and castigate the president of the United States for his executive decision regarding the children of so-called illegal immigrants.

This would be the same Antonin Scalia who pantomimed his displeasure during President Obama’s State of the Union address a few years ago. Clearly disgraceful disrespect for the president goes hand in hand with his disrespect for the Constitution and the people of the United States.

Have a great weekend!

Be My Guest

Be My Guest Column by Herb Boyd

AG Holder Under Fire

Still smarting from setbacks a week ago, the Obama administration received another withering blow from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday when it voted 23 to 17 to favorably report a contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder was cited with contempt of Congress over statements made regarding Operation Fast and Furious, in which agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rather than confiscating illegally purchased weapons chose to track the weapons to the traffickers with the purpose of dismantling their networks.

The experiment went awry when agents lost track of the weapons and one of them apparently was used in the slaying of U.S. border agent Brian Terry.

Basically, Holder was cited with contempt for failing to turn over documents requested by the committee, though during the year and half investigation, the Justice Department reportedly submitted 7,600 documents, including details of Operation Fast and Furious.

But the furor arose because the Department at first denied the botched experiment of “gun walking” (tracking the illicit movement of the weapons) and this triggered a further investigation by the committee.

On the heels of the committee’s vote, President Obama invoked executive privilege to withhold the documents the committee is seeking, documents that are generally off-limits to Congress.

“The president has asserted executive privilege,” wrote Deputy Attorney General James Cole in a letter to Issa. “We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the committee’s concerns and to accommodate the committee’s legitimate oversight interests.”

Rep. Darrell lssa (R-Calif), chair of the committee, said Obama’s action was “an untimely” assertion of privilege.

On Tuesday, Holder and Issa met for 20 minutes without reaching any kind of resolution on the dispute.

Holder insisted that he would not turn over documents related to the gun-smuggling probe unless Issa consented to another congressional briefing on the Department’s material. He wanted some guarantee that the transfer of records would be enough to stand down the subpoena.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), appearing Wednesday evening on PBS’s Newshour in a debate with Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), both of whom sit on the committee, took strong exception to the contempt charge.

“I think we have to look at the totality of the Constitution here,” he asserted. “Congress has a right to compel the production of papers and to compel witnesses before the committee. That’s an Article I right. At the same time, the administration, Article II, has the right under the Constitution to say, look, we’re invoking executive privilege — that doesn’t mean just the president, the executive branch privilege — and say, we’re not going to produce that for our own reasons.

“Now, the next step then would be to go to the court. And I would hope that, if we can not resolve this that the one concession that would be made is that we not pursue by resolution a criminal matter. We can pursue a civil matter, have a court make a decision, saying, OK, produce the documents, and then we come back to the court enforcing a resolution of Congress.”

The next move was the House of Representatives findng the Attorney General in contempt. This action is unprecedented in American history and could force further negotiations.