Archive for billionaires

Elizabeth Warren's "growing clout could shift the caucus to the left"

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clout elizabeth warren

The Hill has a post about Senator Elizabeth Warren's "growing clout" that should make many a Progressive smile and nod. It may even send a thrill up some Democratic legs. Clout coming from the left can do that.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has emerged as one of the top fundraisers for Senate Democratic candidates in the midterm election campaign, filling a void left by the absence of Hillary Clinton.

Warren, who was elected to her first term in 2012, has already raised more than $2.3 million for Senate Democratic candidates this election cycle, according to her staff. She has also transferred $100,000 from her campaign account to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

She’s the biggest draw so far,” said a Senate Democratic campaign aide, referring to Warren’s knack for getting donors to open up their checkbooks.

Lets hope a few of the donors she appeals to have checkbooks the size of the Koch brothers'.

The article goes on about how, when it comes to fundraising, Hillary Clinton is "staying on the sidelines" these days, but Senator Clout is stepping up in a big way, which only "accentuates her influence." This is great news, because Dems badly need to keep the majority in the Senate, and that is exactly what Senator Warren aims to do.

Pretty impressive for a freshman, says The Hill. Even more impressive is her appeal to women voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

But this was my favorite sentence in the entire piece:

Democratic strategists and political experts say Warren’s growing clout could shift the caucus to the left, especially on economic and financial regulatory issues.

We need 100 more Elizabeth Warrens.

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Charles Koch is a "greedy jerk": La Cucaracha

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citizens united check republic billionaires Koch brothers dark money

A major advantage of having a Twitter pal like the wonderful Lalo Alcaraz (@LaloAlcaraz) is that he generously shares his work with us. In his comic strip today, Lalo zeroed in on one of the Koch brothers, Charles Koch. Only one, Lalo?

But Charles Koch is well worth a snarky strip devoted only to him, not to mention to his corporate billions dedicated to ultra-conservative causes. Thanks to the Supreme Court and their two disastrous decisions-- Citizens United and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission-- the door has opened wider to billionaires influencing (and by that I mean buying) elections, candidates, and votes. By increasing the role money plays in American politics, SCOTUS has once again chipped away at what's left of our democracy, allowing the wealthiest Americans the potential to determine election outcomes.

Despite those legal victories, the Koch brothers insolently play the victims, all the while pumping unlimited cash into the veins of anti-women's rights, anti-civil rights, anti-voting rights, anti-gay rights, and anti- workers' rights Republicans.

Of course, that doesn't mean we can't beat them. We did in 2012. Say it with me now: Get Out The Vote.

And with that, here's Lalo's latest:

la cucaracha Charles Koch

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Dems outraise GOP in March. Too bad about those SCOTUS rulings.

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money in politics citizens united corporations outraise

Democrats outraise Republicans! Big headline! Lots of thumbs up on Twitter in response to the headline! Boyoboy! We're rolling in dough, we're raking in the big bucks! We'll show those Republicans, yes we will! Go Dems! Outraise again! Keep it up! We did it! We beat our rivals!

To which I ask, so what?

After the appalling Supreme Court decision that favors billionaires, the decision that extends the influence of big money on elections... brought to us by SCOTUS's previous Citizens United ruling, this is only mildly good news. The truckloads of money shelled out by super PACS, the Koch brothers, and the Sheldon Adelsons on the right make these numbers look like lunch money.

Roll Call:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised its Republican counterpart in March, ending the month with more than $22 million in cash on hand for the competitive midterms.

Both the DSCC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee said they posted their best fundraising months of the cycle in March.

Democrats raised $8.1 million in March, which is $21 million more than the NRSC. Plus, the DSCC paid off its 2012 debt. Republicans hauled in $6.4 million and have $15.9 million available to them. They also paid off their debt from 2012.

But Republicans have a huge advantage now that the Supreme Court has French kissed Adelson and the Kochs.

You know the solution, though, right? Say it with me now:

vote  turnout  gotv

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The Supreme Thwart: SCOTUS "re-created legalized bribery"

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democracy gone, legalized bribery

Apparently "legalized bribery" is fine with the Roberts Supreme Court. As you can see by my previous post Billionaires and Supreme Court undermine our "1st Amendment right not to be drowned out", this appalling decision makes me furious and more than a little worried. In the post I wrote:

Think it was bad before? You ain't seen nothin' yet. You thought Sheldon Adelson and the ass-kissing at Jewish Mingle were obscene? Billionaires like him are just getting started. Super PACs are morphing into Super Duper PACs, Mingles will become orgies, and the kajillions of TV ads will turn into mini-series sponsored by Deep Pockets, Inc.

Despite the TV "news" media's skimpy reporting on this very important topic-- instead running wall-to-wall speculation about the horrific Fort Hood killer-- the Los Angeles Times gave ample coverage to the legalized bribery that is now law. Here are a few takes on what came down yesterday, or as I like to call it, The Supreme Thwart of democracy as we knew it.

First, excerpts from the L.A. Times front pager:

The decision, McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, also shows again the impact of President George W. Bush's two appointees: Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Or to put it another way, elections matter. Continuing...

Fred Wertheimer, a veteran champion of campaign finance reform, said the court was on a "march to destroy the nation's campaign finance laws enacted to prevent corruption."

The decision "re-created the system of legalized bribery today that existed during the Watergate days," said Wertheimer, president of the nonprofit group Democracy 21.

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, said neither the Founding Fathers nor most Americans "want government beholden to narrow elite interests."

Republicans call that hand-wringing.

Moving on to an editorial titled, "Really, justices? Even more money in politics?"

The campaign reform group Democracy 21 notes that after Wednesday's decision, a presidential nominee could form a joint fundraising committee and solicit a contribution of as much as $1,199,600 from a single donor for the election cycle. Does anyone doubt that the person who signed that check would expect special consideration from the candidate who solicited it?

Roberts was untroubled by the idea that mega-donors would receive special treatment in exchange for their largesse.

How nice for Roberts that he can sleep well at night knowing that the imbalance of power in this country is causing democracy to go the way of Chris Christie's political career.

Finally, there was an op-ed written by Jessica A. Levinson, an associate clinical professor at Loyola Law School-Los Angeles and vice president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission:

And how many people were handcuffed by these limits? Well, fewer than 600 donors, or 0.0000019% of Americans, gave the maximum amount under those oh-so-restrictive limits, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. [...]

Disclosure may be the only way we can regulate the political money trail in the near future. [...]

Where does McCutcheon leave us? It leaves people like me who believe it is both legal and good policy to limit the influence of money in politics in an existential crisis. [...]

Our current system essentially limits only direct contributions from donors to candidates and political committees. But independent organizations receive and dispense vast sums related to candidate campaigns, and many do not have to disclose the donors of this dark money.

The base contribution limits could be the next restriction on the chopping block.

And then she called for more transparency. And how about more justice... and different Justices?

money talks democracy has no voice

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Billionaires and Supreme Court undermine our "1st Amendment right not to be drowned out"

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citizens united check republic billionaires Koch brothers dark money

Today Michael Hiltzik gets a twofer at TPC, this time regarding the appalling Supreme Court decision that favors billionaires, the decision that extends the influence of big money on elections... brought to us by SCOTUS's previous Citizens United ruling.

Via a New York Times email alert:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a major campaign finance decision, striking down limits on federal campaign contributions for the first time. The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and probably increase the role money plays in American politics.

The decision, by a 5-to-4 votes along ideological lines, was a sort of sequel to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to disturb the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties.

I'm beyond furious, way past frustrated, and drowning in worry over turning on enormous spigots of money that will drown out the majority of ordinary (aka 99% of us) political donors. Our voices will no longer be heard (are they now?) over the deafening ka-chings and the triumphant stomping all over our rights and campaign finance reform efforts.

We are being silenced by five Supreme Court Justices and the powerful entities with gigantic bank accounts to which they genuflect. Money talks, we're just audience members. But we are not applauding.

booo

Think it was bad before? You ain't seen nothin' yet. You thought Sheldon Adelson and the ass-kissing at Jewish Mingle were obscene? Billionaires like him are just getting started. Super PACs are morphing into Super Duper PACs, Mingles will become orgies, and the kajillions of TV ads will turn into mini-series sponsored by Deep Pockets, Inc.

Anyone still wondering why the GOP is trying to kill labor unions? If so, here's why: They tend to support Democrats, and those very few union sources for campaign cash are dwindling:

chart maddow unions v corps campaign spending smaller

Hiltzik:

The notion that an unrelenting torrent of money can suborn the entire political process doesn't seem to occur to Chief Roberts.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the minority, didn't accept this charade. [...]

It's not only the 1st Amendment right to be heard, but also the 1st Amendment right not to be drowned out that are at issue, he wrote:

"The First Amendment advances not only the individual’s right to engage in political speech, but also the public’s interest in preserving a democratic order in which collective speech matters.... Where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard."

For proof, he needed to go no further than the majority opinion.

So what do we do? Vote in droves. It's time to stop the endless obstruction by the GOP: Obstruction to voting rights, civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, and constitutional rights. Get. Out. The. Vote. We can do this.

Please read the entire piece by Hiltzik here.

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Fla. Gov. Rick Scott campaign staff made racist jokes (allegedly)

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outreach my ass reach out inclusive

Psst! Rick Scott! Outreach means exactly that: reaching out. Outreach is also what the Republican Autopsy called for. Yes, they referred to their own post-2012 election report as an autopsy, because... suicide. They admitted that they needed "to do things differently."

The GOP not only needs a reinvention, they need an intervention.

Via Think Progress:

On late Thursday, billionaire Mike Fernandez abruptly resigned his post as the finance co-chair of Governor Rick Scott’s (R-FL) reelection campaign. The prominent Cuban-American health care mogul’s departure has fueled rumors of racism among Scott’s campaign staff.

Tensions between Scott’s campaign staff and Fernandez had been building for weeks. And the last straw, according to people within the campaign who spoke with the Miami Herald this weekend, was an incident in which several of Scott’s campaign staffers allegedly began joking around in a cartoonish, over-the-top Mexican accent while on the way to a Mexican restaurant.

They just can't help themselves.

Think Progress has more.

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Vergara v California continues: Public schools vs billionaires

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vergara v california

As promised, here is an update on Public schools vs billionaires: Vergara v California. Please follow the link for the back story.

My first Vergara post caused a bit of a stir, but that's a good thing for a couple of reasons: One, that means people are paying attention, and two, it means they care enough to communicate, and communication is everything.

So, per my sources, yesterday the Vergara trial resumed. The defense had two interesting key witnesses.

The first was Dr. Robert Fraisse. You've probably never heard of him, but he has a 40 year career in education. He was a classroom teacher, assistant principal, counselor and superintendent of several different school districts and now he's head of the school of education at California Lutheran University. This man knows what he's talking about.

He made some really important key points during his testimony. First, it's important to note that the education administration expert said that permanent status (aka tenure) is important. Teaching conditions matter and giving teachers stability helps attract the best teachers to a district. He made it clear that having due process through tenure doesn't mean you're protecting bad teachers... and that he was able to remove ineffective teachers even after they had tenure.

To clarify: Their case is that tenure protects bad teachers. One of the top people in the education field just showed that they are wrong. Moving on...

Another key point he made was about how the achievement gap is actually an opportunity gap: “I believe that the achievement gap is really an opportunity gap, and that is an all-of-the-above proposition in terms of looking at things as important as prenatal counseling for moms who are pregnant, preschool opportunities.”

But the part that stood out the most for me was when Fraisse began talking about the arts. As a former theater instructor, I can tell you first hand that you can't measure that work on a standardized test. It's not even an option. Impossible.

Fraisse got into the unintended consequences of Standardized testing. Because that's how these ed deformers label bad teachers, based on test scores. One word: Oy.

Fraisse said: "And in my opinion, based upon my experience, it would be a narrowing of the curriculum if we simply had teacher evaluations based on a standardized test score. "

"Certainly it would go away from the full breadth of offerings in music and the arts; which I'm not even sure how you would measure by a standardized test whether that music teacher, whether that art teacher or shop teacher, is doing a great job and making a difference in the lives of kids."

Think about that. You can't measure the difference we make in the lives of kids based on a test score. My personal experience: A few of my students told me that what we did in our theater classes saved their lives. Literally. Test scores don't register that kind of impact, now do they?

The trial continued with testimony of Christine McLaughlin. She was named by one of the defendants as a bad teacher. But what do you know! It turns out that she was a a Pasadena Unified Teacher of the Year. During her testimony she was revealed to be a highly-qualified, highly-lauded and incredibly innovative teacher. Yeah, real "bad."

As the LA School Report points out, McLaughlin successfully refuted the accusations against her.

To be continued. As Rachel Maddow would say, "Watch this space."

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