A restoration of the balance of power between the three branches of government is desperately needed.


3branchesBelow is my column in the Sunday Washington Post on separation of powers — authored with United States Senator Ron Johnson (R, Wis.). As the piece states, Johnson and I come from sharply different political perspectives, though the most surprising aspect of this collaboration is that he is a Packers fan and I am a Bears fan. We decided to write a piece together to try to seek a nonpartisan response to the rapidly expanding executive power in our system — and the corresponding decline of legislative power. We have been discussing this worrisome shift within our system and the lack of any collective institutional identity, let alone action, from members. We thought, if we could show the common ground in these concerns, it might encourage other members to reach across the aisle in the interests of their institution.

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Supreme Court Rules For Hobby Lobby In Major Blow To Obama Administration

In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court reaches pivotal decision in the exercise of religious rights by closely-held corporations.


Supreme Court300px-HobbyLobbyStowOhioThe Supreme Court finished its term with its usual dramatic flair with the release of the long-waited decision in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores (which is consolidated with Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius). The two cases represent a classic split in the circuits with the Tenth Circuit agreeing with Hobby Lobby as to the religious claims of the company while the Third Circuit ruled against such claims by Conestoga Wood Specialities Corp. The Court ruled that the Hobby Lobby does have religious rights, but limited the decision to closely-held corporations. Where Citizen’s United recognized that corporations have free speech rights like individuals, Hobby Lobby would do the same thing for religious rights. I will be running a column in the Los Angeles Times in the morning not just addressing this ruling but, once again, highlighting what I consider a far more important case that will be decided just…

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Mother Of Seven Dies in Jail While Serving Sentence For The Truancy Of Her Children

This article addresses the intersection between the criminalization of America and the modern form of debtor’s prison. An impoverished mom of 7 chooses to serve 48 hour jail sentence, rather than pay a fine she can’t afford. All because of her son’s truancy.


SchoolClassroomWe have previously discussed the move in some states to jail parents of truant children. It is part of the criminalization of America where pet peeves of politicians are ramped up to criminal offenses to make a point. Now, Eileen DiNino, 55, of Reading, Pennsylvania has died while serving one of these ridiculous sentences. The mother of seven died in jail after serving half of her 48-hour sentence.

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Musings of a News Junkie

Thursday, June 12, 2014

BREAKING NEWS:   Today, former President, George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving.

Also, pregnant actress Mila Kunis tells fathers-to-be to stop telling people that they and their wives are pregnant.  (Since, obviously, males can’t get pregnant? I guess?)

BREAKING INTERNATIONAL NEWS:  North Korea’s Dear Leader, Kim Jun-Un, chastises North Korean weathermen for getting their weather predictions wrong.

140612015945-kim-jong-un-weather-restricted-story-top“Get It Right Or Else!!”

These are just a couple of the top news stories in the United States today.  There were also some articles about Islamists overrunning Iraq, something about Karachi airport in Pakistan being attacked by the Taliban, thousands of foreign-born children flooding into the southern border states, something else about a deserting American solider and the freeing of 5 AL-quida guys who like to pose for pictures with severed heads. Oh yea, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned the world to prepare for the next housing crisis.  Something like that.  These types of articles are usually buried on the bottom of the page.  Or, if given top billing, such as the Iraq story, the article merely consists of some basic timeline facts.  Nothing else.

It should be obvious that the American news media often fails to adequately cover what is “really going on in the world.”  There’s a word for the goings on in the world: it’s called The News.  In order to read The News, News Junkies (such as myself) are forced to scan the world’s headlines and articles from a variety of sources.  Somewhere amongst the morass of news stories, the actual truth of what is occurring in the world is present.

To uncover the News, one is forced to sift through the garbage to find the nuggets of truth.  The garbage consists of political agendas, pop culture diversions, marketing campaigns, self-serving diatribes, and on and on and on.  You get the idea.  To sift through that garbage you need a healthy dose of cynicism, ability to think for one’s self, willingness to question all sources, and a well-honed horse puckey meter.  It does take some work to find the News, but once you pull that nugget from the rubbish heap you will feel an enormous sense of satisfaction.

So dig deep into that cow pie.  And remember that no matter how high the media tries to pile the bull poop on top of the real news, you will not be deterred.  You will hold your nose and dive straight in.




Florida Judge Invites Public Defender To “Step Outside”


On Monday, Judge John Murphy of Brevard County, Florida, invited public defender, Attorney Andrew Weinstock to “go out back” so he can “just beat [his] a@*!”

The exchange began with Judge Murphy asking Weinstock, who was representing a client charged with assault, what he “wanted to do?” It seems the judge was referring to whether the defendant was going to waive his right to a speedy trial.

Weinstock replied, “I’m not waiving…I don’t know, what do you want to do?”  Weinstock, with irritation in his voice, then made a comment about the judge setting the matter for trial or putting it on the docket.

Judge Murphy replied by stating that if he “had a rock right [he] would throw it at [him] right now.”  Murphy then told Weinstock to “stop pissing him off” and to “sit down.”

Weinstock asserted his right as the client’s attorney to be present.

At that point, Murphy told Weinstock “if you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass.”  Weinstock then made his way to the side door.

Out of view of the camera, the judge followed behind Weinstock.  Audio then picks-up part of the exchange between Murphy and Weinstock in which Murphy exclaims, “you wanna f@#k with me?!”  Other commotion noises are heard in the background.  While a camera was not present during the confrontation, Weinstock reports that Judge Murphy punched him in the head.  Two deputies broke up the altercation.  Currently there are no charges pending against either party.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

Negative Interest Rates And The Sick Man of Europe

k13261637        The European Union is the sick man of EuropeSeveral EU countries are hanging by the proverbial economic thread.  Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy are all experiencing depression level unemployment.  Last year, Cyprus depositors woke up one morning to discover that a substantial sum of their savings had been confiscated in exchange for a bail-out package insisted upon by “healthier” members of the Union–such as Germany.

On Thursday, the European Central Bank announced the imposition of negative interest rates on deposits.  This move is meant to spur economic growth and combat low inflation.  The theory is that negative interest rates will discourage banks from parking their money with the ECB and instead stimulate these banks to engage in lending.  Thus, encouraging economic growth thru a cash infusion into the marketplace.  However, these measures are absolutely unprecedented and reveal the depth to which the ECB is worried about the economic health of the EU.  Certainly, the ECB is undertaking this radical policy because the EU’s fiscal health is critical.  The questions that are not being asked, but should be are: “Will the EU survive this crisis intact with all the current members?” “Or will the EU cease to exist?”

11582865-hospital-patient-with-a-dropper-vector-illustration     It remains to be seen whether “the sick man of Europe” is terminal.  If the man is terminal then the measures taken by the ECB should be described as hospice care. Purely, an attempt to make the sick man as comfortable as possible before his final demise.

Mario Draghi, President of ECB