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The Right’s Legal Troubles, John Roberts

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This Week on the Right

Toeing an Illegal Line

By Michael Flynn

With John Roberts seemingly a shoo-in for the Supreme Court, Republicans can hardly be blamed for their excitement on the legal front, which was fervently—and sometimes angrily—demonstrated at the August 14 Justice Sunday II extravaganza, the second installment of a religious-right rally aimed at attacking—in James Dobson’s words—an “unelected, unaccountable, and arrogant” judiciary and championing conservative social causes. Taking center stage at the event, Rep. Tom Delay lambasted “activist courts” for imposing “state-sanctioned same-sex marriage” and “ridding the public square of any mention of our nation’s religious heritage.” The event also served as a rally in support of Roberts, who conservatives hope will help put the court in the hands of the “moral majority.”

Despite the White House’s continued stonewalling over the release of documents detailing some of Roberts’ past work, it is clear what his ideological leanings are and the potential impact they will have on court rulings. Although he is perhaps “no crazed ideologue intent on overturning precedents willy-nilly,” as the Los Angeles Times opined in a recent editorial, Roberts will tilt the bench definitively in a conservative direction on social issues, including abortion. Also, according to observers quoted in a Los Angeles Times report (August 14, 2005), Roberts has a track record of supporting broad executive powers, which could potentially impact everything from the treatment of “enemy combatants” to the president’s authority to use military force without congressional authorization. With the nation confronting a seemingly endless war on terror, the issue of executive powers could turn out to be the most “important issue on the court’s docket over the next few years,” as Neil Kinkopf, a law professor at Georgia State University, told the Times.

But a successful Roberts’ nomination won’t stem the tide of legal woes afflicting a passel of high-profile conservatives and hard-liners with close ties to the Bush administration and powerful Republicans in Congress. Together with the potentially ground-shaking fallout from the ongoing PlameGate saga, the recent indictments of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and two former analysts from the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee with ties to neoconservatives in the administration have put the house that Bush built on increasingly rocky terrain. [Read entire article]

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Letters From Our Readers

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Re: World Movement for Democracy

Tom Barry’s article attacking the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) fails to acknowledge the support these institutions receive across a wide ideological spectrum in the United States and abroad. The NED gets substantial support and leadership from “mainstream” republicans, “moderate” democrats, and labor.

The WMD trumpets democratic values against governments which the United States disfavors, but the country fails to apply to these goals to itself, as is clearly seen in its failure to guarantee the constitutional right to vote and the appalling fact that 99 percent of House incumbents are re-elected every 2 years.

Another shortcoming of the WMD is its resistance to applying democratic principles to global governing institutions like the United Nations, the World Bank, and the IMF. For example, the WMD fails to focus on the hegemony of five nations at the UN, which is a profoundly undemocratic practice.

WMD will be vastly improved if it truly advocates for universal democratic values for all governing institutions. Foreign policy elites from various ideological camps would be wise to deepen their support for democratic principles.

— Michael Beer

Re: The New Crusade of the Democratic Globalists

The neoconservatives mentioned in this article are pursuing a disastrous course. Their arrogance in believing the universality of American ideas, values, and Western-style governance not only dismisses other cultures as inferior but invites the wrath of cultures that subscribe to their own religious ideas, values, and ways of governance.

These misguided and messianic ideologues dismiss Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” thesis, which argues that our system is culturally Western and fits our Western heritage. For example, the system of separation of church and state is an invaluable and immutable part of our form of government and Western democracies in general. Islam cannot fathom the separation of church and state. Our systems are not reconcilable. If we attempt to impose our values and our system on other civilizations because of our self-righteous belief that we are superior, we will incur hatred and contempt, and radicalize others to resist our interference, likely generating greater terrorism, and making all Westerners targets for terrorists.

— Dave Lefcourt

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Featured Profiles

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.


Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


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From the Wires

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Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


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The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


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An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


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The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


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Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


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As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


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We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


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