Archive for bad law

Cliff Notes: "Gun insanity, my friends, this is where Florida really and truly excels."

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My dear friend and mentor, Cliff Schecter, has a new post up; Cliff has given me permission to share his work with you, so I’ll give you the latest edition of what I call Cliff Notes.

He skewers better than a chef at Smokey Joe’s BBQ. He has comedic insights that rival those of our mutual friend, the hilarious Lizz Winstead. He’s sharper than the point on Sarah Palin’s pin head.

Here are a few excerpts from his latest, with permission. Please read the whole thing, because he has way more than I’ve included here. It's about Florida and its Zombie Apocalypse gun insanity bill. 'Nuff said.

Here are bits and pieces that don't do it justice. Please, link over for the entire post:

Florida is what you might call a special place. There’s a reason why when you type “Why is Florida…” into the Google Machine, among the first options that pop up are “crazy” and “so crazy.”[...]

But gun insanity, my friends, this is where Florida really and truly excels. Whether it’s their pioneering effort in passing racist Stand Your Ground laws (Thanks to former Gov. Jeb Bush—The Smart One!—and pint-sized troll-cum-gun lobbyist Marion Hammer) or applying them to non-whites possessing the audacity to get their groove on while gassing or munching too loud on rainbow candy treats.

Their can-do spirit comes in the form of the disgruntled marching into a school-board meeting in Panama City and firing on the assembled members in an attempt to get his wife’s job back. Shooting a man for texting his babysitter from a movie theater. And returning a Glock pistol and assault rifle to a gentleman named Wayne Rogers, after he shot his “drinking buddy.” And killed him. Did I mention Rogers is blind?

For these reasons and many other infamous ones, you could call Florida the Grand Ole Opry of gun nuttery. [...]

Presently, the gun monster’s reared its ugly head in the form of an NRA-backed bill in the statehouse—HB 209—that seeks to allow anyone lacking a concealed carry permit to go ahead and ignore that whole permit thing during “riots” and other emergencies.... And just what constitutes an emergency that would put this law into effect? Nobody knows, least of all the sponsor of the bill , State Rep. Heather Fitzhagen (R-Fort Myers). [...]

The result is that those with actual experience dealing with criminals, such as Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, respond like this: “To allow people to go into a riot while concealing a gun without a permit is the definition of insanity… The bill is crazy. It’s absurd.”[...]

[A]s we understood for most of our history in this country and Texas’ governor explained in 1893, the “mission of the concealed deadly weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law-abiding man.”

Please read the entire post at The Daily Beast, here.

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WI GOP fast-tracks "dark money" bill in midst of "John Doe" campaign finance violations probe

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citizens united check republic Koch brothers dark money

By now you've probably heard of dark money. I've written about it often. It is when nonprofits spend money on elections by exploiting loopholes in campaign finance disclosure laws. In other words, they don't reveal who their donors are, but use their wealth to influence election outcomes by funding "issue ads." Thank you, Citizens United.

Here's how Rachel Maddow described the practice:

...Millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to, if you want to.

In that particular segment of her show, she was describing how the Koch brothers operate.

Now we get to see how Republican legislators in Wisconsin operate, or as I like to call it, Dark Money Central.

Via PRWatch.org:

A proposed bill that would keep the public in the dark about the sources of money in Wisconsin elections could also make it easier for dark money groups to coordinate with candidates, an issue of particular salience given the ongoing "John Doe" probe into alleged campaign finance violations in the state. [...]

And most importantly, it could open the door to direct candidate coordination with issue ad groups, potentially undermining what remains of Wisconsin campaign finance law. Prosecutors in the John Doe campaign finance probe are reportedly pursuing a theory of illegal coordination between independent "issue ad" groups and the Walker campaign during the 2011-2012 recalls. [...]

Wisconsin courts have held that if a group is coordinating on issue ads with a candidate, their spending -- regardless of whether it includes express advocacy -- can be considered a contribution, which under Wisconsin law encompasses both cash donations and the giving of anything of value.

If those "contributions" exceeded donation limits and were not reported to the state elections board, the group running coordinated issue ads would be violating election law.

And that is the whole reason for the bill. It would change the "political purpose" definition which would also end up changing the interpretation of "candidate contributions."

Nothing new here, just your typical GOP approach: If you can't get what you want honestly and openly, cheat, lie, defraud, slither, smear, steal, and/or hide.

what's the big secret

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Money in politics out, people in: "It's We the People, not It the Money."

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money in politics citizens united corporations

"Money is the root of all evil." Well, maybe, maybe not, but that classic quote sure applies when it comes to politics.

As I was watching The Stephanie Miller Show on Free Speech TV (which I highly recommend), this most excellent video from 2012 came on (Free Speech TV doesn't air commercials. Instead, viewers are treated to all kinds of recorded segments informing us about clean energy, common sense gun safety measures, and equal rights, among other things):

Represent.Us:

Published on August 2, 2012

It will take millions of people to defeat billions of dollars. Join us at www.unpac.org!

Super PACs and special interests have turned our politicians into money junkies only out for their next fix. We have to fight back before this becomes the new normal in American politics.

Please share this video with your friends and family.

Sadly, this is the new normal in politics thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Way to go! America first!

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Nightmare on First St! US might look very different in 2014 thanks to conservative Supreme Court justices

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nightmare on first street Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20543

There were two articles in Sunday's Los Angeles Times that had me reaching for two bottles: Pepto Bismol and Jose Cuervo Gold. Both articles were about how the U.S. Supreme Court could very well steer to the right on social issues, one (written by Eric J. Segall) referring to that scenario as "a liberal nightmare."

He's not kidding; We should all be more than a little queasy at the prospects of impending major SCOTUS decisions further eroding what's left of democracy.

First an overview by David G. Savage of what we're up against when the Supreme Court begins its term on Monday:

supreme court cases

Savage describes this as "a clear opportunity to shift the law to the right on touchstone social issues such as abortion, contraception and religion, as well as the political controversy over campaign funding."

Worrisome much?

The Citizens United ruling has already been a windfall for fundraisers. And now the Supreme Court appears poised to allow more of the wealthy few to buy elections. Please read those links, because you will be and have been impacted by the outcome of bad decisions like CU as well as what's next on the agenda:

In other cases due to be heard this fall, the justices are likely to uphold state bans on college affirmative action and block most housing bias claims that allege an unfair impact on blacks and Latinos.

They may also give states more authority to restrict and regulate abortion.

On to the op-ed by Eric J. Segall, a law professor at Georgia State University and the author of "Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court Is Not a Court and Its Justices Are Not Judges." He begins his post with the chilling warning, "When the dust settles, if the conservative justices hold sway, Americans could find themselves living in a different country."

He then reminds us that the Citizens United decision "granted corporations and unions the same rights as private individuals to make independent political expenditures." What it did not do is address "the important distinction made in Buckley between groups or individuals giving money directly to a candidate or campaign versus the independent expenditures." My link above explains that in more detail. In short:

[C]onservative amicus briefs are urging the court to abolish that distinction and invoke the 1st Amendment to prohibit the regulation of campaign contributions... [T]his case could be the knockout punch that limits legislative efforts to reduce the corrosive effects of money on political campaigns.

And you thought all that influence the top 1% (coughKochBrotherscough) was bad now. Just wait.

On to the separation of church and state... or what's left of it:

The relationship between government and religious liberty is also at issue this term.... [Conservatives]... want the court to broadly hold that government endorsements of religion never violate the 1st Amendment's establishment clause unless the government is actually coercing religion. Such a finding would create a "coercion test," long the wish of Justice Antonin Scalia, which would allow the government to place religious symbols on public property without limitation and permit overtly Christian (or any other religious) prayers at legislative sessions without any judicial check.

He notes that if Justice Kennedy veers right on this one, "the wall between church and state, a wall that Scalia doesn't think exists, will be dramatically lowered."

gulpNext up: a big, sloppy French kiss-in-waiting to the GOP:

Souter and O'Connor are now gone, and Justices Scalia and Clarence Thomas have repeatedly urged the court to abandon the "undue burden" standard and replace it with a reasonableness test that would give lawmakers much more discretion to restrict abortions... Kennedy is again the key. Although it is unlikely he would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, if he turns right even a little bit, the ability of women to obtain safe and affordable abortions might be severely threatened.

Segall ties it all up with a very ugly bow:

Depending on how [Kennedy] votes, this country might look very different at the end of June 2014.

To those of you who continue to believe that elections don't matter, think again. It is the president who chooses Supreme Court justices, so stop whining and get yourselves to the ballot box. And while you're at it, help get out the vote wherever and how ever you can.

Unless, of course, rulings like the ones discussed in this post don't matter to you.

nightmare

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Supreme Court appears poised to allow more of the wealthy few to buy elections

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citizens united cartoon smaller

The conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court may very well allow the wealthy few to have even more opportunities to drown out the rest of us.

Yes, again.

More big donors with more money than most of us will see in our lifetimes may get legal permission to pour more of their more money into more political fights and more candidates.

Most of us can't afford to donate huge sums of cash to buy elections, which means the very rich will have even more influence and control over financing campaigns and corporate causes, and therefore, have more say than we do about our lives.

This anti-democratic practice changed our election system for the worse and is destroying what's left of democracy and equal rights. The Supremes' 2010 Citizens United ruling got the ball rolling, and now there's this little bombshell via the Los Angeles Times:

In what may be Act 2 in the decline and fall of campaign funding laws, the Supreme Court appears poised to lift the lid on the total amount the wealthy can give directly to all candidates and political parties.

Increasingly, the money that funds election races for Congress and the presidency comes from a small sliver of the very rich, what the Sunlight Foundation called the "elite class that serves as gatekeepers of public office in the United States." The nonpartisan group has tracked how a growing share of election money comes from the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans.

In the first major case of its new term, the court could give those donors even more clout with lawmakers and their parties. The issue is whether federal limits, not on contributions to individual races but on how much a donor can give to all candidates for Congress or party committees in a particular election cycle, violate the right of free speech.

The current law allows the rich to give millions to super PACs and other groups that pay for "independent" election ads. What they cannot do is give more than $48,600 total to all members of Congress or more than $74,600 to various party committees.

Those restrictions may end.

Guess who's behind the challenge. Just. Guess.

On Oct. 8, the Supreme Court will take up an appeal from the Republican National Committee, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon, who say contributions should be treated as "core political speech."

tadaa3McConnell is facing a primary challenge from a conservative tea partier and is also up against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has been leading him in the polls. So of course he's desperate to do something, anything, to change that.

If SCOTUS decides in his favor, then both political parties could each donate up to $3.6 million which "could be funneled by party leaders into a close race or races, tipping the balance of power in Congress."

Lee Drutman, a researcher at the Sunlight Foundation, said, "The data shows there are more big donors on the right than on the left."

No matter who has the most money to donate, this much is true: Money should be kept out of politics. We need a level playing field so we can have fair elections. All this monetary power and influence by a very few ends up corrupting our candidates and ultimately, the lawmakers and laws that affect every single American.

citizens united dollars are not citizens smaller

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3/4 of Senate GOP want to bar any new legislation that would help workers, regulate workplace conditions

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stfu omg

Our own David Garber previously posted "Tom Coburn Isn’t An Idiot, He Just Plays One In The Senate":

Senator Tom Coburn, the firebrand senator from Oklahoma has his priorities on backwards. He believes in punishing the worker bee to get to the queen — in this case the Affordable Care Act. Silly man. Stupid Man. Dangerously idiotic man.

Here’s what Tom Terrific is doing. He doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act. So he’s going to be placing a hold on an administration executive nomination, in this case Katherine Archuleta, nominated to head the Office of Personnel Management....

It’s about pettiness. It’s about poor sportsmanship. It’s about “If I can’t pitch, I’m taking my baseball home and then nobody can play.” It’s attitude. Childish at that.

David's post was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Check out what Coburn and Rand Paul are up to now, but first take a swig of anything alcoholic and/or pop a Tums. Think Progress:

More than three-quarters of the Senate Republican caucus signed onto legislation introduced Wednesday by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Rand Paul (R-KY) that could render it virtually impossible for Congress to enact any legislation intended to improve working conditions or otherwise regulate the workplace. Had their bill been in effect during the Twentieth Century, for example, there would likely be no nationwide minimum wage, no national ban on workplace discrimination, no national labor law and no overtime in most industries. [...]

Coburn and Paul’s bill appears to be an attempt to restore the constitutional regime that prohibited child labor regulation and other such nationwide regulation of the American workplace. [...]

What is somewhat surprising, however, is the sheer breadth of support for Coburn and Paul’s discredited view of the Constitution within the Senate Republican Caucus. According to Coburn’s press release, their bill is cosponsored by “Senators Ayotte (R-NH), Barrasso (R-WY), Blunt (R-MO), Boozman (R-AR), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Coats (R-IN), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), Cruz (R-TX), Enzi (R-WY), Fischer (R-NE), Flake (R-AZ), Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Heller (R-NV), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT), McCain (R-AZ), McConnell (R-KY), Moran (R-KS), Risch (R-ID), Roberts (R-KS), Rubio (R-FL), Scott (R-SC), Sessions (R-AL), Thune (R-SD), Toomey (R-PA), Vitter (R-LA), and Wicker (R-MS).”

See how deeply these right wing extremists care about small businesses? Growing businesses? Employees? Jobs? Job safety? Equal rights? Equal pay? Health and welfare? Democracy? You? They say they do, they campaign like they do, but all they really care about is profit and power on the backs of ordinary working Americans.

We simply don't matter. At all. They convince people to donate to them and then vote them into office. Then once they're elected, this is how they want to treat you and your families... which leads me to get down on my knees and plead to you to register, to vote, and to help others do the same, in a huge way.

These self-serving, duplicitous skunks don't want to just "rebrand" their party (or as I like to call it, "destroy"), they want to rebrand the U.S. Constitution. They will have failed at both. "Dangerously idiotic" indeed.

But what do they care, as long as they appeal to their base. What a perfect word to describe anyone who would support them: base.

opposite world

backwards

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Graph: How long it took blacks, whites, Hispanics to vote in 2012. One guess who waited in line the least amount of time.

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In January it was reported that at least 201,000 did not vote in Florida because of frustration with long lines. In fact, former Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer came right out and said that Florida Republicans tried to suppress the black vote.

Now the New York Times has a series of graphs depicting exactly how long it took different groups to vote. One guess who waited longer among African American, Hispanic, and white voters. Hint: White voters waited an average of 12+ minutes. Black and Hispanic voters waited an average of 20+ minutes.

surprise

Democrats waited an average of 15 minutes, but Republicans? A little over 12 minutes.

Here is a peek at the results. Source: 2012 Survey of the Performance of American Elections, conducted by Charles Stewart III of M.I.T. Much more at the link and here:

Overall average: 14 minutes

The dotted line represents the 14 minute mark.

chart graph how long it took to vote 2012 black, white, hispanic

 chart graph how long it took to vote 2012 states

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