Archive for citizens united

Poll-itics: SCOTUS approvals near lowest "in 14-year trend"

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poll-itics smaller SCOTUS

SCOTUS, SCOTUS, SCOTUS, what are we going to do with you? Well, here's an idea: Elect Progressive presidents who will replace right wing extremist Supreme Court justices (and other judges) who decide cases that are turning this country upside down.

This Supreme Court has:

  • ruled in favor of prayers in city council meetings (read: Christian prayers);
  • eliminated buffer zones around abortion and contraception medical centers in Massachusetts so that women can now be intimidated and threatened literally within an inch of their lives;
  • weakened unions by ruling that they could not force home-care workers to join them and pay dues;
  • and, of course, allowed Hobby Lobby and other family-owned businesses to decide what kind of birth control their employees could use based on their bosses' religious beliefs. Not the workers' beliefs, mind you, because apparently, corporate religion trumps that of the individual.

And don't get me started on Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions allowing corporate money to attempt to buy elections the way Willard "Mitt" Romney buys car elevators.

According to Gallup, this has affected the court's popularity. Democrats in particular are not too thrilled with this SCOTUS. If that's the case, you know what to do: Vote. In droves. Swarm the polls. Help to register other voters and get them to the ballot box, too.

gallup scotus

Gallup:

Americans remain divided in their assessments of the U.S. Supreme Court, with 47% approving of the job it is doing, and 46% disapproving. These ratings are consistent with approval last September, when 46% approved and 45% disapproved, and rank among the lowest approval ratings for the court in Gallup's 14-year trend. [...]

Republican approval of the Supreme Court is up 21 percentage points since last September, from 30% in 2013 to 51%. Independents' approval shows little change, going from 47% to 46%. Support among Democrats, on the other hand, is down [...]

Americans' current views more closely reflect the court's own ideological divisions in these two recent decisions, rather than its bipartisan unanimity.

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"Any subject the extreme right deems worthy of a lie" becomes a campaign

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extreme right gopTruth-Lies

The extreme right lies constantly. They lie on air, they lie in print, they lie in tweets, they lie in Congress, they lie in GOP legislatures, they lie in their sleep. The extreme right lies about things that they claim are false but are provably true. Documented things. Factual things. *coughCLIMATECHANGEcough*

But that doesn't stop them, because if you repeat a lie often enough, people will start to believe it. Especially uninformed, misinformed, ignorant people who can't or will not do any research of their own on any given topic.

Corporations are allowed to legally lie, too, by the way. Well, "corporate people," because, freedom of speech. Thank you, Supreme Court! Watch:

We can't stop them, legally at least. We can call them out, we can prove them wrong, we can try to be louder than the liars on the extreme right, and we can try to dissuade the gullible, the ignorant, the willfully ignorant, our friends and neighbors, and anyone else within shouting/writing distance. But they will still lie.

And with that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re: "When it comes to politics, there's no need to outlaw lying," Editorial, June 17

Police the liars? How did that work out for the millions of us advocating for equality as we tried to negate the lies coming from the pro-Proposition 8 campaign in 2008? There are people who, six years later, still hold to be true the falsehoods perpetuated by the television ads and mailers of the campaign's deep pockets.

The damage is done, is nearly irreparable and causes harm to this day. Shame on the Supreme Court for clearing the way for the continuance of fabrication within political campaigns.

Couple that decision with the Citizens United and McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission rulings, and we're all in for Proposition 8-style campaigns on any subject matter the extreme right deems worthy of a lie. Again and again, the damage will be done as many take as gospel untruthful propaganda.

Sheila Alberg

Bakersfield

***

In the world of the pre-Roberts court, your editorial about criminalizing false political advertising would be on target. But since Citizens United and its progeny under this Supreme Court, money is apparently king.

If a well-funded group (spelled K-O-C-H) decides to place ads deliberately misrepresenting a candidate or ballot measure, how does the citizen candidate ever have the funds to publicly correct the defamation?

Your position would give license for more negative (and deliberately false) political ads and still more expensive campaigns.

And, by the way, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's line that "the remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true" reminds me of the National Rifle Assn.'s phrase about good and bad guys with guns. That also sounded good until the Las Vegas good guy with a gun was killed and the Seattle good guy with pepper spray became a hero.

So much for the turn of a phrase.

Ken Goldman

Beverly Hills

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Citizens United Decision Makes Prostitution Legal According To Expert Testifying To Senate

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Prostitute Customer

Citizens United. Ah, what a slippery slope the Supreme Court hath delivered. The 5-4 decision upheld that unlimited business money donations are merely expressions of first amendment rights, commonly known as our freedom of speech. As such, they cannot be regulated. So, that's the way you SCOTUS jurists want to play the game.

What hell hath you wrought, you nine black-robed crusaders?

A constitutional law professor, Jamie Raskin was called by the Senate to come in and speak about his field of expertise and how the first amendment might/should/could be interpreted. Though the senators thought they were going to hear how the Citizens United decision would affect money in political campaigns, they also got some news which was surprising -- and in a great way for Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)

Raw Story:

An American law professor told senators on Tuesday that outlawing prostitution was a violation of the First Amendment if spending money was a form of free speech.

“Your other point though about money not equaling speech is a critical point for people to understand,” American University professor Jamie Raskin said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “There are lots of forms of purchase and exchange that we criminalize, for example, buying sex. We don’t say if someone wants to purchase the services of a prostitute, well that is just an expression of their speech.”

Hear the short testimony for yourself. It's very interesting  and maybe has some valid points that those justices, voting for the majority in the Citizens United, case should have thought about BEFORE they issued their politically-motivated decision.

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The Kochocracy

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la cucaracha Charles Koch KochocracyVia Lalo Alcaraz

Another snark-filled guest post by the one, the only Will Durst, who's having a little fun with those pesky, corporate 1%ers. Or as Will calls them, the Kochocracy. Take it away, Will:

THE KOCHOCRACY

In the bad old days, medieval German Lords figured out how to pocket some quick coin by charging a toll on the primitive paths meandering across their lands. The money wasn’t used to improve the roads or better the lives of the peasants or clean the rivers their pigs pooped in but rather heighten the piles in their treasury. Even back then, you just couldn’t have enough pewter candlesticks.

These were the first robber barons. Literally. Rich people whose sole pursuit was to survive to become richer people. A criminal aristocracy. A term history has proved redundant.

During the Gilded Age, the flushest 1% of the country held 1/3 of the national income. In the 1920s, this figure ramped up to 2/5ths. Molehills compared to today’s mountainous wealth, where the richest 400 American families control more money than the poorest 165 million of their fellow citizens put together. And if all 165 million were knelt end to end, those 400 families would have footrests from any compass point.

6 members of the Walton Family have accrued as much money as the bottom 41% of all Americans. Now, how hard would it be for them to cover the health care of WalMart employees? They’d still be worth as much as the bottom 34%. How many pewter candlesticks does one family need? You’d think they could get them wholesale.

In decision after decision the Supreme Court has equated money with free speech. Which would be great if it meant the more we spoke, the more we’re worth. But, alas, no. That’s not the deal. Pretty much the opposite, come to think of it.

Rich people have exploited these high court rulings like foxes given skeleton keys to the Tyson chicken empire. Any politician who espouses lowering taxes on the rich and blunting the powers of the poor gets backed. With unlimited sums. Of course the poor have free speech too, but we might as well be whispering downstage at a Metallica concert.

A plutocracy is a society where the rich make the rules- quickly becoming our norm. The 9th richest man in the world, Sheldon Adelson, focuses on politicians whose Israeli policies most closely mirror his. That’s it. One issue. In 2012, he gave 90 million to various GOP presidential candidates. And in the next election cycle, he is reportedly ready to triple that number, recently holding auditions in Las Vegas for his own personal presidential candidate American Idol. Once again: not Clay Aiken.

The most Darth- like of the new Robber Barons are the Koch Brothers, (rhymes with rock) David and Charles, each richer than Adelson. These self- made inheritors of a vast oil empire are responsible for jumpstarting the Tea Party and ALEC, and are now hand picking candidates all over the country; pouring in vast amounts of money to get them and their skewed legacies elected. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is one of the first generation Kochbots. And a bit glitchy.

If so desired, the Koch Family could spend a billion dollars a year for the next 85 years buying politicians. Bankrupting the rest of us through Kochbot legislated tolls on the primitive paths meandering across Koch owned lands. Especially egregious when ALL lands are Koch owned. Get ready for the American Kochocracy.

Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com to find about more about his new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG,” info about the documentary film “3 Still Standing,” and a calendar guide to personal appearances.

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“This event is emblematic of how corporate money undermines our democracy"

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corporate money america

Why hasn't this big, corporate money, corporate influence event already been canceled, especially after this from the Los Angeles Times: "AT&T wields enormous power in Sacramento"?

No other single corporation has spent more trying to influence legislators in recent years. It dispenses millions in political donations and has an army of lobbyists. Bills it opposes are usually defeated.

Here's a press release that just came my way:

Sec. of State Candidate Cressman Urges Lawmakers to Cancel This Weekend’s “Speaker’s Cup” Pebble Beach Fundraiser

Lawmakers Get Schmoozed By Lobbyists, Corporate Titans

Senate cancelled similar fundraiser in wake of Sacramento scandals

Sacramento, CA –

California Secretary of State candidate Derek Cressman today blasted lawmakers attending the Speakers Cup Weekend in Pebble Beach this weekend, saying the golf-and-schmooze event embodied everything that is wrong with politics in a state where three lawmakers were recently suspended from the Senate for corruption.

Cressman today called on Assembly Speaker John Perez to cancel the event, just as Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg had recently cancelled a Senate golf fundraiser with corporate interests.

Cressman, who is running on a platform of transparency and reducing the influence of corporate money, said the Pebble Beach event was just a legal version of the bribery and influence-peddling in the Golden State that has made headline news across the country in recent months.

“This event is emblematic of how corporate money undermines our democracy,” said Cressman. “Corporations like AT&T use campaign contributions to elect corporate Democrats who then deliver legislation that boosts their profits at the expense of California consumers,” he said.

“Frankly, it seems AT&T has California by the calls.”

As an example, Cressman pointed to SB 1161, authored by Senator Alex Padilla to deregulate phone service provided over Internet lines. Consumer advocate Mark Toney of The Utility Reform Network called it “the most anti-consumer bill ever introduced in California.” AT&T likes the bill so much that it has made a similar version a “model bill” of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC. ALEC is an organization that connects state legislators with corporate and right wing organizations that is best known for promoting the Stand Your Ground law implicated in the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Senator Padilla has received at least $108,732 from telecommunication interests, including $43,395 from AT&T and it’s employees during his time in the Senate.

Overall, AT&T has given California legislators $2,336,468 since 2006.

Cressman wants to get corporate money out of California politics by overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that struck down bans on corporate campaign spending under the reasoning that corporations should be considered people with constitutional rights. “AT&T is not a person and it shouldn’t be allowed to buy our elections,” said Cressman. He has led a national movement to place questions on the ballot giving voters the chance to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court. SB 1272, to be voted on in the California Senate Elections Committee on April 21st, would place such a measure on the statewide ballot in November.

AT&T has consistently been able to block legislation to remove monthly fees that it charges consumers to have an unlisted phone number, a basic privacy protection that reportedly nets telecom firms upwards of $50 million per year.

In another instance of telecommunications influence, just last week Senate bill SB962, which was sponsored by Senator Mark Leno in response to the high rate of stolen smartphones, would have forced electronics manufacturers to install a shut-off function in all smartphones failed in the state Senate. The so-called “kill switch” legislation would have required companies to manufacture smartphones with technology that would make them inoperable when not in the owner’s possession.

AT&T has lobbied heavily against the bill.

Note: Edited to correct error in original release.

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"Here's what your money is buying right now..."

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gop your money

We have written countless posts about the Supreme Court's terrible Citizens United decision, followed by their latest debacle, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the other appalling Supreme Court ruling that favors billionaires and allows them to influence our election outcomes.

Even Garry Trudeau couldn't keep quiet about it any longer: The Koch brothers can buy anything, including Doonesbury!  As I said in that post, a very few obscenely wealthy individuals are able to spend lavishly on candidates, politicians, and potential votes while, try as you might, your money simply can't compete with the endless supply of cash donated by the corporate big boys.

And with that, another installment of today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Money won't buy you votes," Opinion, April 20

Sure, money won't buy the vote of a regular person, but it sure can buy members of the state legislature or Congress. Here's what your money is buying right now:

Profits on gun sales fund the National Rifle Assn. and ensure that even when little kids get slaughtered at school, universal background checks won't pass the Senate despite the fact that about 90% of the country supports them.

Wealthy people who make money from investments make sure they don't get taxed at the same rates as wage earners.

Money strangles the implementation of banking reform. And it makes sure that no matter how many floods, fires or hurricanes we have, nothing is done about climate change.

Best of all, money buys donors the ability to hide behind "social welfare" organizations so nobody knows who's doing these evil things.

Joanne Zirretta

Aliso Viejo

**

A large war chest doesn't guarantee victory, as Republican Meg Whitman learned in 2010 when voters elected Democrat Jerry Brown governor by a wide margin.

But what money does allow is for the wealthy to buy the loyalty of politicians. The handful of GOP presidential hopefuls who visited billionaire Sheldon Adelson recently offer proof of that.

Most Americans agree that the latest Supreme Court rulings loosening campaign finance rules were steps in the wrong direction.

Kyle Laurent

Newhall

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Koch brothers can buy anything, including Doonesbury!

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doonesbury logoI don't know how Garry Trudeau does it, but he always does what he does well, including his latest Doonesbury strip. In this Sunday's snark fest, Trudeau concentrates on none other than the infamous Koch brothers and their big spending ways. That creative wizard can pack more into a few panels than Chris Christie can pack into his... lawyer's whitewash of Bridgegate.

Using the Kochs as his focus, Trudeau sets his sights on the Supreme Court's awful Citizens United decision. That would be the same decision that allows a very few obscenely wealthy individuals to influence our elections while the rest of us donate a few bucks here and there hoping to boost our candidates of choice. One can only imagine the handful of rich donors cackling as they haul out their checkbooks.

However, unlike the "Doonesbury" below, they're not in the least bit amusing.

Trudeau ironically points out the ease with which "nasty billionaires" like the Koch brothers can buy whomever and whatever they want, including the very comic strip that houses his creation, a now unsuspecting "supporter" of the two "respected, civic-minded job creators" (vs. those Evil Labor Unions).

Don't look now, Doonesbury, but you've been acquired:

doonesbury koch brothers

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