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Sarah Palin, Westboro Church & the 1st Amendment

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Alaska's leading constitutional scholar, Sarah Palin, sent out a tweet about last week's Supreme Court decision in the Westboro Church case. She clearly was not in tune with the eight members of the Court who sided with Westboro's free speech rights. Now, she is walking back her tweet. Justin Elliott at Salon.com has the story.
The episode raises a strategic question for any future campaign by Palin - who is going to tell her to stop tweeting? And, the episode again shows the GOP's problem going into 2012. Anybody read any tweets from Romney, Pawlenty or Barbour this weekend? Of course not. Palin can affect the debate in a cost-free way that none of her potential rivals have achieved. She may not understand the difference between the Establishment Clause and the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment, but she understands, and has mastered, the art of modern communications in ways that leave her rivals in the dust.

Why Unions Matter

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The WaPo's Outlook section had a really great article yesterday about why unions matter to the entire middle class. Professors Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson detail the role that unions have played in American history, a role that has diminished in recent years. As the percen tage of workers in unions has declined, income inequality has exploded. That is not good for America. In the long run, it is not even good for the very rich. Gross income inequality invites the kind of class warfare Americans have always shunned. If there really is a moderate center of the electorate, they should be paying close attention to the attacks on labor in Wisconsin and Ohio - and they should shudder.

Congressman King's Hearings

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In her last semester of college, my mother was student teaching at the Horace Porter Elementary School in Columbia, Connecticut. She was teaching a lesson on the Soviet Union. One of her less bright students unhelpfully went home and told his parents that Miss McDermott was “teaching communism.” This was the early 1950s, so predictably, my mother was removed from her student teaching assignment and hauled before the president of her college. Fortunately, in the classroom that day was another student teacher, a decorated veteran of World War II who assured the college authorities that my mother was teaching about communism not advocating for it. She was allowed to graduate.

Good News on Jobs

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The unemployment rate dipped again, despite analysts predictions it might move north, falling to 8.9 percent. Last month, according to figures released this morning, 192,000 new jobs were added to the economy. That is not enough - and it could be offset by cutbakcs in state and local governments if the Tea Party has its way, but it is nice to find some good news on the business pages.

Newt Dips His Toe in the Waters

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Newt Gingrich put his toe into the presidential waters yesterday. A man known for his brashness did not jump in head first, but the confusion that surrounded his announcement – was he forming an exploratory committee or not? – brought back the old charge that Gingrich lacked the discipline and comportment necessary for a successful presidential run. Over at Politico and in this morning’s Washington Post, the main stumbling block to a Gingrich candidacy is his lack of discipline.

O'Malley Picks a Winner

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Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has proposed a small surcharge for electricity bills to help fund a project that will produce renewable energy for decades to come. O'Malley wants the funds to help start a wind farm off the Maryland coast.

The surcharge, depending upon which estimate you choose, would amount to as little as $1.44 a month or as much as $3.61 per month. That is, a little more than a latte.

Turning America towards renewable energy is not an option, it is a necessity. As gas prices go up due to events in the Mideast entirely beyond our control, proposals such as this should be waqrmly embraced. Yes, it will cost money.

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August 1-14, 2014

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