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  • August 16, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    A bridge collapses in Minnesota, with tragic and deadly consequences. A report shows hundreds of bridges across Massachusetts are in similar need of repair. Each year, education think tanks decry the chronic underfunding of many public schools. Meanwhile, In a desperate bid to refill depleted town coffers, the residents of a quiet little town vote 2-1 to allow casino gambling – a decision that will change the face of the town forever and bring in its wake a whole new world of social and other problems.

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  • August 13, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Don’t be fooled by all of the partisan bickering. Congress’ recent debate over enacting a new federal wiretapping statute boiled down to one very simple question: should Congress transfer the authority to approve wiretaps from judges, whom the constitution specifically entrusts with this power, to the intelligence agencies and the Department of Justice, who conduct the surveillance?

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  • August 10, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Inspired perhaps by the ridicule that greeted its symbolic ban on the word “nigger,” the New York City Council is now considering a similar ban on the words “ho” and “bitch,” (which the proposed ban delicately references as the “b-word.”) Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, chief sponsor of the admittedly unenforceable ban, characterizes the words “bitch” and “ho” as “a vile attack on our womanhood” that “creates a paradigm of shame and indignity” for women.

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  • August 04, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    To the consternation of civil libertarians, Congress has acceded to the demands of the Bush Administration and enacted changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that (according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation) “could radically expand the government's ability to spy on Americans without a warrant.

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  • August 02, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Earlier this week I published an op-ed in The Boston Globe discussing the ways in which the Senate Judiciary Committee can enforce compliance with its subpoenas. That Committee has been investigating whether the Bush White House improperly fired a number of United States attorneys because those attorneys were reluctant to pursue politicized prosecutions, or were otherwise not exercising fidelity to the Republican Party agenda.

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  • July 30, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    It’s difficult for a libertarian to oppose legalized casino gambling, (and I don’t,) but my heart is not in defending it. People have a right to get drunk and flush their money down the toilet; but public support for turning what was once publicly owned woodland in Middleborough, Mass. into a giant hotel and casino is a depressing reminder of what we value – tawdriness, and mindless stimulation over repose, not to mention illusions of easy money.

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  • July 30, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate
    For critics of higher education, few campus controversies have been as illuminating as the ongoing saga of Professor Ward Churchill. His case has uniquely intertwined all of the higher education issues du jour – Academic freedom, plagiarism, affirmative action, liberal bias, degraded campus culture – into one messy cloud of controversy that just will not go away.

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  • July 29, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    If money isn’t speech, as advocates of campaign finance restrictions wishfully insist, then why does your local NPR station persist in conducting those annoying pledge drives? If money isn’t speech, why does Rupert Murdoch want to own the Wall Street Journal? Why do unprofitable political publications require financial angels to survive? Of course, money is speech, in effect, as Harvey observes below, (and as crtitics of campaign finance restrictions regularly point out; we have been having this argument for years.

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  • July 25, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    There was a show-tune ditty that was popular back when I was a kid, which younger readers might also identify as the theme song to Married With Children. “Love and marriage,” went the lyric, “go together like a horse and carriage. This, I tell you, brother: You can’t have one without the other.” In quite the same way, in the context of electoral politics, you can’t have speech without money.

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  • July 18, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Prostitution is a crime for women but a “personal matter” for men. That’s the lesson of the latest Washington sex scandal involving ultra conservative Louisiana Senator David Vitter and alleged D.C. madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Palfrey, charged with running a prostitution ring, faces federal racketeering charges. Vitter, exposed as one of Palfrey’s clients, enjoys the support of his right wing Republican Senate colleagues, who have accepted his apology for committing a “serious sin,” which they characterize as personal

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  • July 10, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate
    “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Attributed to Freud, this insight reaches beyond psychoanalysis. It is equally applicable to the industry of self-proclaimed “terrorism experts” who have sprung up in our terrorism-obsessed times. These “experts” often sell their services to convince government officials, and sometimes criminal trial juries, that common everyday blather might be – and likely is – disguised plotting against the public safety.

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  • July 06, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Only two words are necessary to say all that needs to be said about the rapidly expanding scandal over the dangerous food, toiletries, and manufactured goods arriving on our shores and shelves from The Peoples Republic of China: Silent Spring. That, of course, is the title of Rachel Carson’s 1962 classic book that launched the environmental movement by exposing the deleterious consequences of the over-use of the pesticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT).

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  • July 03, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    The unwarranted uproar among the punditocracy over President Bush’s commutation of part of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s sentence is indicative of the sorry state of this nation’s public political discourse. The left is agitated because Bush spared Vice President Cheney’s right-hand man a humiliating prison sentence for lying in an investigation about his knowledge of the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity.

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  • June 29, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Should a public university build footbaths for Muslim students who are required by their faith to wash their feet before prayer? Yes, according to the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which is renovating two bathrooms on campus to include two new “foot washing stations.” The footbaths reportedly cost about $25,000, (out of a total renovation cost of $100,000,) raising questions about the expenditure of public funds for sectarian religious purposes.

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  • June 27, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Civil libertarians have good reason to mourn the Supreme Court’s latest rulings eviscerating student speech rights and empowering the president to divert public funds to sectarian religious groups. In the wake of the Court’s earlier decision this term upholding bans on second trimester abortions, these cases confirm that the Court is now pretty firmly under the control of authoritarian (not libertarian) conservatives.

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