Patrick Leahy’s Double Think

Double think files: Patrick Leahy wants the NSA to prevent another Snowden and to be more accountable.

“Lawmakers expressed concern Thursday about the security lapses at the agency. “It is unacceptable that the NSA’s security protocols and breaches were so easily circumvented,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). “This is the same NSA that asks us to trust that it will keep safe massive amounts of data on innocent Americans, and that we should have faith in its internal policies and procedures.””

Federal government backs off stiffing indigenous on social services:

“The payments for 2014 are reflected in revised spending plans for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) that are to be delivered to the House and Senate appropriations committees within a week.

“This ought to put this issue to rest now,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), one of two Native Americans in Congress. He added that the failure to fully pay tribes “should have never happened in the first place.”

The Obama administration’s decision is a dramatic reversal from its proposed 2014 budget, which called for placing spending caps on individual contracts. Under the caps, tribes would again have been paid millions of dollars less than what they say they are owed and millions less than the agencies’ estimates of the payments due. The spending caps also would have been a step toward limiting payments in the future.

The revised budgets follow a Washington Post story in December that detailed the administration’s plans to impose the caps despite two U.S. Supreme Court rulings ordering the government to fully compensate the tribes.

Although the new plan fully funds contracts for 2014, it does not address the billions of dollars that the tribes say they are owed for past claims.

Congressional budget negotiators rejected the spending cap proposal last month, along with language that would have eliminated the tribes’ right to seek legal remedies in pursuit of contract claims.

The negotiators also told the two agencies that their original 2014 budget plans ran counter to Supreme Court rulings about the government’s agreements with the tribes, called “self-determination contracts.”

Unpaid claims under the contracts grew to an estimated $3 billion by late 2013, according to agency records, while hundreds of tribes severely cut education, health and public safety services.

“This issue has affected real people’s lives,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), former chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.”

Ian Shapiro, “Democracy Man: The Life and Work of Robert A. Dahl,” FEBRUARY 12, 2014

“Dahl’s most analytically acute book, A Preface to Democratic Theory published in 1956, is a trenchant critique of the separation of powers in general, of judicial review in particular, and of the system of representation that the founders devised as part of what turned out to be a vain attempt to head off civil war over slavery.

Noting that Madison’s oft-repeated slogan from Federalist Number 51 that “ambition must be made to counteract ambition” was long on rhetoric and short on an account of how this might actually work, Dahl maintained that the founders and legions of their followers were mistaken to think that the American constitutional order was responsible for the survival of American democracy. Rather, it was the pluralistic character of the society that permitted the constitutional order to survive.

In a seminal article in 1957, Dahl zeroed in on judicial review, arguing that the available data failed to support the conventional wisdom that the Supreme Court protects minority rights. Subsequent empirical scholarship has borne out Dahl’s contention. Whether one looks at the United States over its own history, at comparisons among many countries, or at democracies that have gone from not having judicial review to having it, Dahl turns out to have been right that the heavy lifting is done by democracy, not constitutional courts. Authoritarian leaders ignore judges and courts with impunity, and adding courts to democracies has no appreciable effect on their protection of civic freedoms or minority rights. Yet curiously, we continue pressing for the creation of independent judiciaries to enforce bills of rights in new democracies. ….

Dahl was also decidedly Madisonian in his worries about the effects of inequality on democracy. Just as Madison came to fear that the monied interests championed by Alexander Hamilton in the early 1790s would destroy America’s nascent democratic order, by the time Dahl published On Political Equality in 2006, he wondered whether the growing political inequalities he saw around him might not “push some countries — including the United States — below the threshold at which we regard them as ‘democratic’.” His active research ended with that book’s publication, but in this area, like so many others, subsequent developments have revealed Dahl’s concerns to be well founded.”


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