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Posts Tagged ‘Citizens United’

If you haven’t seen this video yet, you should take the time to watch, because what’s going on now in Wisconsin and may play out in other states as well is not about state deficits or budget cuts. It’s about union-busting and the power that goes with it. Breaking the unions is a stepping stone to that “permanent Republican majority” that the GOP have been working towards for years. It’s also about the money that the Citizens United ruling allowed to flow directly to the Republicans, and the corporations that are throwing it at them. And they’re not going to stop. It’s about plutocracy.

Just look at what Republicans are doing now. Redefining rape, de-funding health care, draconian laws against women, abortion, pushing for laws that make the killing of abortion doctors “justifiable homicide,” guns in schools, churches and bars, deregulating everything like big polluters, oil companies, repealing laws from the FDA, EPA, FAA, and these are just a few. Do you really want Republicans who are puppets to corporate rule to have a permanent majority? Look what happened in Arizona. They’re willing to do just about anything to get there, and trashing the country is of no concern to them. Just like John Boehner shrugged off job losses, they’re willing to trash the very Democracy they claim to love so much:

“So be it.”

They. Don’t. Care.

Watch this video below from Rachel Maddow and pass it along.

You can also read this piece for more background on what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is really doing from Ezra Klein. Pass it along too.

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In the wake of the ruling yesterday by Florida Judge Roger Vinson against the Affordable Care Act as “unconstitutional,” the Republican Party is absolutely beside itself with joy and cheering that the health care law is now all but defeated. Nothing to see here, move along. But as they happily bow at the feet of the health insurance companies and the lobbyists that they serve, let’s put some of this into the perspective of reality for a moment.

Yes, the ruling was troubling for those who were going to benefit from it with affordable health care that has eluded their grasp for so long. Yes, the ruling is just what the health insurance companies ordered over the recommendations of actual doctors, which is also the point. But is the Affordable Care Act really “over” as many are running victory laps are predicting? No, not necessarily. I will defer to those with more expertise on the many details of the ruling and the law like Ezra Klein does so well here.

But there’s one little thing I would like to point out here. After the ruling came out yesterday every Republican official in Florida was racing to be the first to declare the ACA a defeat and the true death panels, the health insurance companies and the Republicans who carry out their wishes, the clear winners. From our newly elected Gov. Rick “Who was Never Charged With Medicare Fraud” Scott, right down to every local Tea Bagger wannabe GOP involved in government in any way, they all rushed to crow about the ruling.

One in particular gave me pause. Newly elected Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. In her news release declaring victory, she said this:

“Today’s ruling by Judge Vinson is an important victory for every person who believes in the freedoms granted to us by our Constitution,” said Attorney General Bondi. “This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional. In addition, the bipartisan effort from Attorneys General across the country shows the federal government that we will not back down from protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens.”

Really? This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional.” Actually it “proves” no such thing. (Perhaps we should ask for proof of Bondi’s law degree.) What it “proves” is that one more Republican judge ruled against it. Two Democratic judges also upheld the ACA. Yet Bondi needs no more proof than this one ruling. She’s good! Thanks for playing!
That aside, it also shows that the The Family Research Council and the religious right found a judge who agrees with them so much that he used some of the very language in that ruling that they use. What a coincidence, huh?
Even beyond that, it appears that groups like The Family Research Council (also branded as a hate group by the SPLC, mind you) can have great influence on judges. Furthermore, it also appears that the religious right and The Tea Party and their corporate funders with big pockets also have “great influence”  in elections, thanks to that other court ruling: Citizens United.
Of course, there’s no “proof” of that, it just looks that way.  But hey, what do I know? I’m no Attorney General.

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UPDATED BELOW

From the party that claims to be fiscally conservative when it comes to cutting things like Social Security and unemployment benefits, but who think nothing of adding a big ole’ black hole to the deficit to preserve tax cuts for the rich as well as tax breaks for corporations so they can outsource more jobs, there are some new numbers for you to take a peek at.

In Florida, for some unknown reason, a majority of voters chose to elect Rick Scott as the new Governor in spite of his history. Yes, they elected a guy who says he wants to run Florida like a business. Never mind that one business he owned and ran holds a record for the largest fines in Medicare fraud. Even overlooking that, this is a guy who wants to cut everything from state employees pay to Medicaid, and seems to think that stimulus money for things like high-speed rail should be turned down in spite of the jobs those projects would create in Florida.

On the other hand, he recently gave a private speech to unveil his agenda to businesses, not voters or the press. Not that it was a total surprise that he wants to give big businesses a tax break, freeze state business regulations, sympathizes with the insurance companies “hardships” due to the slow hurricane seasons of the past few years, wants to protect doctors from lawsuits, and wants to hand over just about everything else to the private sector like education and Medicaid. (Shocking, that last one, huh?)

Yes, he is absolutely Mr. Fiscal Responsibility! Except when he isn’t.

With unemployment so high in Florida, foreclosures through the roof, literally, among our other problems, and with an “Outsider” Governor who plans to practically cut everything that won’t turn a profit for private businesses, you would think that something like a Governor’s inauguration might be a somewhat modest affair.

But you would be wrong:

Scott is now soliciting donations of up to $25,000 to pay for his inauguration. Price of admission to the ball: $95 per person, a hair less than the $100 ticket price that had been set initially for Crist’s ball in 2007, after the self-proclaimed “People’s Governor” had campaigned on a populist message to lower property insurance rates and tax bills. Crist took a shellacking in the press for soliciting donations as high as $500,000 before deciding in December to scrap the ball, return the biggest checks and lower the donation threshold to $10,000

Yes, Rick the “Outsider” has even outdone Charlie the “Most Definitely An Insider” Crist when it comes to the lavish affair of an inauguration. Not to worry though, Eddie Haskell’s inaugural committee has a perfectly good explanation for those high-priced donations:

“The people of Florida have plenty to celebrate with the inauguration of our state’s new governor, Rick Scott, including the implementation of an aggressive jobs plan and a new focus on revitalizing the state’s economy. Floridians are invited to participate in the inaugural festivities, many free and open to the public, as Rick Scott prepares to forge a new path towards prosperity for all Floridians.

Again, see my translation for “jobs plan and revitalizing the economy-speak” above.

“The Inaugural Committee is organizing a dozen events in Tallahassee on Jan. 3 and 4 surrounding the official swearing in ceremony, many of them free and open to the public. These events will be funded through the generosity of private contributors (contributions are capped at $25,000). All proceeds, after costs have been paid, will go to an organization the Governor Elect is very excited to partner with and we look forward to making that announcement in the coming days.”

How thoughtful. Free events so that the small-folk may grovel and give thanks to our scary new Gov., just to name a few:

  • “Tribute To The First Lady.” (We don’t know her, but I guess a tribute will make her feel like….royalty?)
  • “Salute to Women In Leadership Breakfast (You may now salute those two women you also elected, Pam-Health-Care-Not-So-Fast-Bondi and Jennifer-I-Didn’t-Care-For-Scott-Until-He-Picked-Me-As-Lt.-Gov.-Carroll.)
  • “Forging A Path To Prosperity Reception” (So you may mingle with the private sector who will perhaps be outsourcing the job you hold now, if you have one.)

Hey, what do you want? They’re free!

UPDATE: The donors list for the inauguration so far can be seen here.

Now let’s take a look at another big event we have coming up in Florida: The 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.

In that department, Mr. Big Spender himself, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is doing his best to keep his reputation intact as one who can burn up cash faster than a compulsive gambler on steroids after a six pack of Four Loko in Vegas. Leave it to him to have already thrown $636,800 into the wind since September, and it’s only 2010! That means there’s still plenty of time for him to put the Republicans even further into the red than he already has. (Well, not counting the donations courtesy of Karl Rove, Dick Armey and the Chamber Of Commerce and others from “Whoever” thanks to SCOTUS and the Citizens United ruling.)

No sir, don’t you even suggest that he pace himself! He be da’ man!

Spending through September topped $636,800, according to figures in a report to the Federal Election Commission. That is 18 times the amount spent in a comparable period four years ago.

At a time when Steele and the RNC have come under fire for what critics call financial mismanagement, the convention spending has raised questions about oversight and financial controls inside the committee.

“I can’t imagine what you’d spend $636,000 on at this point,” said David Norcross, a former national committeeman from New Jersey. In 2004, Norcross chaired the RNC’s Committee on Arrangements, which oversees national conventions. “Is it possible that it’s early spending that would have to take place anyway? It’s possible, but I can’t imagine what it would be.”

Lucky for Mr. Norcross and others in the party, there’s plenty of time left for them to exercise their imagination while they watch Steele make many more of those dollars disappear between now and the summer of 2012, or before they find a new chairman. Whichever comes first.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the Republicans are putting everything, including extending unemployment benefits, and our national security on the back burner while they do whatever it takes to make sure those Bush tax cuts for the rich don’t expire.

You see, the Republican-Tea Bagger Party really ARE fiscally responsible. It’s all about priorities. Gaining wealth while “gaming” elections just happen to be at the top of their list. There’s your “fiscal.”

They just choose to shift the “responsibility” part of the equation to you and me.

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The South Florida Raging Grannies “salute” the SCOTUS justices who ruled in favor of Citizens United.

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From the files of: Who could have predicted THIS? comes the news that little brother Jebbie Bush, the former Governor of Florida, will be one of the first to jump to take advantage of the recent Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited political fundraising from corporations.

From The New York Times:

A group of prominent Republicans is forming an organization to develop and market conservative ideas, copying a successful Democratic model and hoping to capitalize on the fund-raising and electioneering possibilities opened up by a recent Supreme Court ruling.

Republicans who are donors, board members or both include Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi; Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida; Ed Gillespie, like Mr. Barbour a former chairman of the Republican Party; Fred Malek, an investor and official in the Nixon and first Bush administrations; Robert K. Steele, a former executive of Wachovia and Goldman Sachs who was a Treasury official in the second Bush administration, and Kenneth G. Langone, a founder of Home Depot and a former director of the New York Stock Exchange.

And the Supreme Court’s decision last month in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission potentially will allow the organization to take unlimited contributions from corporations and individuals to use to advertise for or against political candidates.

“This administration as well as Citizens United — when you combine the two the prospects for funding these types of efforts are greatly enhanced,” Mr. Coleman said.

The Corporate States of America. Let the games begin.

Anyone who wants a preview, for starters just take a look at what the shadow brother Jeb Bush has done to Florida.

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The Republicans have made it clear from the start: They want Obama to fail. They were blunt about this fact right from the beginning, when those very words were shouted and spewed forth by Dick Cheney’s friend, his hate-mongering puppet and the “leader” of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh. By doing so, the Grand Obstructionist Party also wants America to fail. To these greedy, power-hungry Congressmen, it’s a small price to pay. In their ignorance they are willing to all but destroy the country in their pursuit of power, and we, the American people are merely getting in the way.

We’ve seen what they did and are still doing to kill health care reform. But before they’ve finished that task, now they’re moving on to the next target: financial reform and the bank problem. Never mind that the U.S. economy was nearly destroyed in the past year dragging the world economy with it. No, they’re not finished with that just yet. Finance reform must be killed as well, and to do that they plan to use the same tools they used in the attempt to obliterate health care reform. One of those tools they’re using, and oh what a tool he is: Frank Luntz. He is the chief tool, and the fool of the “Buzzword” industry. Some may recognize him from GOP-TV FOX “News” where he leads low information voters in focus groups to let the rest of the FOX viewers know that what Obama and the Democrats are doing is wrong, and to exactly what degree of wrong they are.

What some may not know is that Luntz had a large role in the Newt Gingrich “Contract For America,” after which he built up a large “buzzword” business which boasts:

“It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.”

He used that business, and that motto, to give the GOP its talking points and strategy to oppose health care reform, words they in turn used and repeated like trained parrots before the cameras every time they’ve needed an anti-health care sound byte in the past year or so. Luntz, the self-proclaimed “Word Doctor” writes the words, and they try to sell them to you and me. Along with their own made up claims and scare tactics. Whatever works.

So now “Frank Luntz: Word Doctor” (enter superhero music here if you like) is back to do his best to kill finance reform along with the GOP, a job probably made even easier now thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United. He’s written the talking points that the GOP will use (you can read a copy of the report for yourself here.) dumbed down just for them, written in bold, contained in boxes throughout the report entitled “Words That Work” and apparently he saved the really “big” words and phrases for the last page where you’ll find a big RED box called “Words to Use” for the particularly challenged congressmen who can’t or is too lazy to read the rest. Phrases like “RED TAPE”, “BLOATED BUREAUCRACY”, “HARD WORKING TAXPAYERS” and “NEVER AGAIN.” All phrases that we will, no doubt, have memorized within a month or so if we spend any time watching the news or reading the paper. Yes, thanks to idiots like Luntz and the Grand Obstructionist Party, and The Supreme Court, if the Democrats don’t step in and stop it somehow, we will soon be The Corporate States of America.

Last night on Countdown, Keith Olbermann had a great report on the Luntz memo:

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According to an article in the New York Times, the SCOTUS ruling in the Citizens United case that now allows corporations to spend unlimited cash in campaign contributions and essentially “buy” elections was just the beginning of an orchestrated plan to “dismantle the entire regulatory regime that is called campaign finance law.”

The plan was set in motion by James Bopp Jr., the first adviser for Citizens United, who has spent 35 years on the idea of changing campaign finance laws and regulating donations “as an affront to free speech.”

From the New York Times:

“We had a 10-year plan to take all this down,” he said in an interview. “And if we do it right, I think we can pretty well dismantle the entire regulatory regime that is called campaign finance law.”

“We have been awfully successful,” he added, “and we are not done yet.”

The involvement doesn’t stop with Mr. Bopp. Not surprisingly there is a lot more to the story than was first reported after the ruling, and several familiar names and groups are linked to the plan.

For instance, there’s a reason Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was one of the first to happily rush to the microphone to express his agreement with the ruling last week. McConnel has been involved with helping Mr. Bopp work on the regulations since 1996 according to the Times.

Also involved is The Republican National Committee and their so-called “purity tests” for GOP candidates, as well as Theodore B. Olson, the lawyer who argued the case, who was a solicitor general in the Bush Administration, and Bush’s appointments of so-called “conservative justices” to the Supreme Court, the shift in the court which made the ruling a five to four decision.

Bopp is also involved with Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition, far right groups who fight election laws, and he brands Obama as a “socialist.”

It almost sounds like part of a larger ongoing plan to game the system hoping to skew the advantage to one party, doesn’t it? I’ll bet a lot more familiar names are involved as well that we’re not hearing about yet.

The only problem is that they didn’t think this through very well. They’ve opened up a lot of potentially disastrous outcomes, and not necessarily in their favor, because they won’t have any more control over where the big donors come from than anyone else, like foreign countries, for instance. Especially if Mr. Bopp is successful in his next step, shielding the donors identity. So much for free speech.

This from the so-called “National Security Party” who claim they are the only ones who can keep us safe. Stupidity can be dangerous.

To read the full article: New York Times

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