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Paul's View

The hypocrisy of defunding Planned Parenthood

I believe I finally now understand. I couldn't quite figure out why Congressional Republicans are so hell bent on defunding Planned Parenthood, since they were all, to a "man", similarly hell bent on doing away with abortion in this country.

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Montgomery County's Laboratory for Democracy

 

A "laboratory for democracy"! That is the phrase used by Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes to describe New York City's public election funding program during his address to  the "American Elections at the Crossroads" forum at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York City on July 22nd. Since Montgomery County established a very similar small-donor matching fund program for candidates with the passage of Bill 16-14 on September 30, 2014, it is hoped that that same description can someday be applied to Montgomery County.

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Montgomery County's model for reform

 

cashA "laboratory for democracy"! That is the phrase used by Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes to describe New York City's public election funding program during his address to the "American Elections at the Crossroads" forum at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York City on July 22nd.   Since Montgomery County established a very similar small-donor matching fund program for candidates with the passage of Bill 16-14 on September 30, 2014, it is hoped that that same description can someday be applied to Montgomery County.

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Kate Stewart talks about the issues

kate stewartI had the opportunity to interview Takoma Park Councilwoman Kate Stewart recently. What drew me to this particular interview was that Ms. Stewart entered the political arena quite recently. She was elected in April 2014 to fill the seat on the Takoma Park City Council left vacant as a result of the passing of Councilwoman Kay Daniels Cohen. I was particularly interested in gaining the perspective of a rather new player to local politics and to understand her motives for joining that arena and the ideas she brings to it. I was not disappointed.

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Encouraging Supreme Court news

scales of justiceCourt rulings, for the most part, have as their legal basis court precedent. Where no precedent exists, new precedent is established. It is the role of the court, including the Supreme Court, to interpret those previous rulings and apply them to the particular set of circumstances in today's society and, in the Supreme Court's case especially, ensure that the court's decision is consistent with Constitutional intent. The Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, has been rather infamous for not allowing itself to be burdened with the precedent established in previous Supreme Court rulings. In the Heller case in 2006, it ignored substantial precedent regarding gun ownership by individuals. An even more egregious ignoring of precedent came in the Citizens United case in 2010 in which the court ignored much precedent designed to limit spending in political campaigns. The gutting of the Voting Rights Act is another example.

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Actions speak louder than symbols

Confederate soldier pic from Sentinel around 1915The recent controversy regarding the displaying of the Confederate battle flag gave me cause to consider the difference between actions and mere symbols. The argument most given against removal of the battle flag is that it expresses pride in one's heritage and one's strong belief in state's rights and, further, is covered by the first amendment to the Constitution under freedom of speech. Displaying a flag would be considered by the Supreme Court as an expression of speech based on court precedent. However, the court has also used the now famous example of "yelling fire in a crowded movie theater" where there is no fire to indicate that there are exceptions even to the first amendment and freedom of speech. In the case of the displaying of the Confederate battle flag, although it may, indeed, represent one's heritage and a strong belief in state's rights, the state's right that it represents is the right to own another human being and the right to secede from the union if that right is to be taken away. As such, it serves all too often to represent hatred and the associated violence, as in the case of the Charleston shooting, and should be no more protected under the first amendment than the right to yell fire in that crowded movie theater when there is no fire.

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Slithering back from the far right

In last week's column, we provided some lessons to be learned for the running for president in 2016.  However, there are also some lessons to be learned that Republican candidates may wish to consider as they try to make their way to the White House.  From the looks of the current Republican crop of candidates, and there are many, there are several important lessons from past campaigns.  The most important lesson is probably that the farther right you go to curry favor with the right wing of the party, the further you have to go to slither your way back to the center during the general election.  If these candidates learned one thing from Mitt Romney's failed presidential bid, it should have been that it is extremely difficult to get back to center after months of moving to the far right and still maintain any semblance of credibility. Certainly, in the age of cell phone cameras, consistency of message is the only protection against the flip-flopping accusations that haunted the Romney campaign.

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Lessons for Democrats running

 

president sealCertainly the issue of lessons learned applies to presidential campaigns and none more so than the next presidential election in 2016.  Republicans are already portraying a Hillary Clinton presidency as a "third term of Obama".  The question for Hilary, as well as, to a degree, the other democrat candidates, is whether she will allow herself to be baited into distancing herself from the Obama Administration and, in her case, the Clinton Administration, or will she, rather, embrace them both and, if so, to what degree?

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Racial Lessons from Charleston

I recently posted on my Facebook wall my reaction to the horror that just befell Charleston, South Carolina. The responses to that post revealed all too well the challenges we face as a nation as we deal with these tragedies on an all too regular basis. My post was this:

Is there anyone who can still claim racism in this country no longer exists...I mean anyone other than FOX? Oh, and who gave him the gun? And while I'm at it, how sad that the life of an individual who dedicated that life to serving his community and was elected to office at 23 could so easily have been snuffed out by a 21- year- old loser.

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