Monthly Archives: October 2013

William O. Douglas: The 20th Century’s Most Influential Supreme Court Justice

We who believe in liberty must indeed live our ethic if it is to be an important influence abroad.” , William O. Douglas

Lincoln said, “It has ever been my experience that folks who have no vices, have very few virtues.” By that measuring stick, William Orville Douglas is one of the most interesting Supreme Court justices of our time. He was loved, he was hated, and very few people who knew him were indifferent. He was never boring personally or professionally, as his four marriages, three divorces, and two attempts to impeach him demonstrate.

In October 1949 during a horse ride at Wallowa Mountain in Washington state, he had a life-threatening accident. At the Court, the joke went something like this: “Douglas fell off a cliff.” and the reply came back, “Where was Frankfurter?”. They despised each other; Justice Frankfurter considered Douglas “truly evil” and Douglas considered him a “prevaricator” as well as intellectually lazy.

William O. Douglas was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, after serving as the third Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1937-1939). He replaced renowned liberal Justice Louis Brandeis (1916 – 1939) who was retiring; Brandeis even lobbied FDR to appoint Douglas.

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The Case for a 21st Century New Deal: End the War on Drugs

How old is the War on Drugs?  

If you had said 42 years old based on President Nixon’s June 17, 1971 speech where he declared from the White House, “To wage an effective war against heroin addiction, we must have international cooperation.”, then you would be only partly correct.

The original War on Drugs in the U.S. kicked off 100 years ago in 1913 with the Harrison Act, which is considered the foundation of current U.S. drug law. The year before, the 1912 Hague International Opium Convention was signed by China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Persia (Iran), Portugal, Russia, Siam (Thailand), the UK and the British territories (including British India).

The convention consisted of six chapters and twenty-five articles, and it was in response to the the growing problems of Opium, Morphine, Cocaine, and Heroin among the societies. It served as a global declaration of how dangerous Opium and other non-medical drugs were becoming; it also was the inspiration for the Harrison Act. Today, the Hague convention has evolved into the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

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Little-Known U.S. Document Signed by President Adams Proclaims America’s Government Is Secular

By Jim Walker, EarlyAmerica.com

treatyheadSome people today assert that the United States government came from Christian foundations. They argue that our political system represents a Christian ideal form of government and that Jefferson, Madison, et al, had simply expressed Christian values while framing the Constitution. If this proved true, then we should have a wealth of evidence to support it, yet just the opposite proves the case.

Although, indeed, many of America’s colonial statesmen practiced Christianity, our most influential Founding Fathers broke away from traditional religious thinking. The ideas of the Great Enlightenment that began in Europe had begun to sever the chains of monarchical theocracy. These heretical European ideas spread throughout early America. Instead of relying on faith, people began to use reason and science as their guide. The humanistic philosophical writers of the Enlightenment, such as Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, had greatly influenced our Founding Fathers and Isaac Newton’s mechanical and mathematical foundations served as a grounding post for their scientific reasoning.

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The Case for a 21st Century New Deal: A Presidential & Congressional Accountability Act

The past week saw the government shutdown and debt-ceiling limit fight come to an end. The cost of this particular episode of government irresponsibility is estimated at $24 billion with nearly a million jobs lost during the 16 days. Only a Congress helmed by a bunch of swivel-eyed loons would have gone down that road putting the nation at risk.

This amounts to financial terrorism against the country.

The NYTimes ran an article a couple of weeks ago that this government shutdown was planned for months beginning after the presidential election last year and was the work of the Koch Brothers, former Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese, Jim DeMint, and about three dozen conservative groups, and carried out by their foot soldiers Ted Cruz, Eric Cantor, and crew. Michele Bachmann, when interviewed on TV, was enthusiastic about shutting down the government.

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Frances Perkins on the Social Security Act (1935)

perkins_handshake

[Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins hailed the recent passage of the Social Security Act in a speech which she gave in early September 1935.]

People who work for a living…can join with all other good citizens…in satis­faction that the Congress has passed the Social Security Act. This act establishes unemployment insurance as a substitute for haphazard methods of assistance in periods when men and women willing and able to work are without jobs. It provides for old age pensions which mark great progress over the measures upon which we have hitherto depended in caring for those who have been unable to provide for the years when they no longer can work. It also provides security for de-pendent and crippled children, mothers, the indigent disabled, and the blind.

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The NDP So Far and Misc Notes

A lot of blog posts and Twitter tweets you see on the NDP site are a mix of political side topics as well as position papers (in the form of “The Case for a 21st Century New Deal”).

Some are humorous while others give you something to think about. We draw a lot from historical roots.

A month and a half ago on August 22, the New Deal Progressives officially went live when its website launched along with its blog and Twitter feed. The idea for a new political party dedicated to the values of FDR’s New Deal is something that has been in the works since October 2012. Once all the ideas and concepts were organized, then the website, blog, and Twitter feed were built.

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Remembering Fred Tuttle Ten Years On

Fred Tuttle passed away on October 4, 2003.  The world is a much poorer place without the likes of Fred.

Fred Gets the Third Degree

From the Washington Post:
It would be tough to create an effective television advertisement for Fred Tuttle’s U.S. Senate campaign, and not just because of his self-imposed spending cap of $16.

Such an ad would have to begin with Fred, wearing his standard uniform of blue overalls, thick glasses and blue baseball cap emblazoned with his first name, nuzzling against a Jersey cow. (Fred, 79, may lack any relevant political experience and possess only a 10th-grade education, but he was a dairy farmer for decades.) In the commercial, he’d be leaning on a walker, since he just had his knees replaced. He’s also weathered three heart attacks, four cataract operations, diabetes and prostate cancer.

Maybe he could introduce himself, except that with his thick Vermont accent and the absence of several key teeth (lost in a bar fight years ago) his name sounds like “Furry Turtle.”

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British Columbia’s Worker-Owned Mill Success Story

From the Tyee:

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill was as good as gone, until workers rallied to buy it, and their jobs, back.

The global economy was on the brink of collapse and thousands of British Columbian forestry workers had already lost their jobs.  Dozens of mills had either shuttered their gates for good or cut back on production as the U.S. housing market crumbled.

But that year saw a group of unemployed mill workers scrounge up enough cash to rescue their 50-year-old Nanaimo pulp mill and reinvigorate the region’s largest private employer. With $25,000 each and the support of three local investment groups, Harmac Pacific’s employees bought their pulp mill, saved their jobs and defied the odds.

This month they celebrate their fifth year in business. The mill is operating close to full capacity, employee share prices have increased significantly and workers earned dividends for the first time last Christmas.

History of a mill
When Pope & Talbot, the mill’s previous owner, filed for bankruptcy in the fall of 2007, PricewaterhouseCoopers was charged with finding buyers for the Portland-based company’s three B.C. mills.

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