Daily Archives: May 20, 2012

A Democrat and a Republican want the Supreme Court to revisit “Citizens United”

This Press Release went out from Senator Whitehouse’s office on Friday:

U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John McCain (R-AZ) today filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court that details the explosion of anonymous political spending since the Citizens United decision.  The brief was filed in a case regarding a Montana law that bars corporations from funding election ads.  The case presents the opportunity for the Court to clarify the authority of Congress and state legislatures to address the threat of corruption posed by this spending.

“We are deeply concerned about the rise of unlimited, anonymous money now flooding our elections,” Whitehouse and McCain said in a joint statement.  “This unregulated and unaccountable spending invites corruption into our political process, and undermines our democracy.  We urge the Supreme Court to make clear that legislatures can take appropriate actions against corrupting influences in campaigns.”

The Senators’ brief, filed in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, asks the Court to deny a petition to review a Montana Supreme Court decision which held that the Montana legislature’s ban on corporate election spending was still constitutional following Citizens United.  Failing that, the brief asks the Court to give the Montana case a full review in light of the flood of anonymous money that has entered political campaigns since Citizens United.

The brief urges the court to “revisit Citizens United’s finding that vast independent expenditures do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,” arguing that rules requiring donor disclosure and prohibiting outside groups from coordinating with campaigns have been evaded and manipulated by politically-active groups and individuals.  The brief chronicles the extensive coordination that takes place between campaigns and super PACs, and the means of “identity-laundering” that allow secret donors to hide their activity.  The legislators conclude that “the campaign finance system assumed by Citizens United is no longer a reality, if it ever was.”

The Senators have both been leading advocates on campaign finance issues.  McCain was a co-author of the landmark Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, or “McCain-Feingold,” which limited corporate expenditures on political ads, and which was partially struck down by Citizens United.  Whitehouse has introduced legislation this year that would require enhanced disclosure of spending on political ads.

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This is something all Americans from all political backgrounds should get behind… unless you want 8 or 9 rich guys putting out whatever crap they want to sway elections. The Supreme Court stuck us with this in “Citizens United” and it is their responsibility to bring back the basics of democracy (and let’s stop pretending Corporations are citizens.)

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Cartoon(s) of the Week – Fun with the Economy

Ben Sargent in the Austin American-Statesman:

Some people can’t wait for Bush’s book on Economics to come out…

– and –

Jeff Daniziger in the L. A. Times:

… and some people believe whatever they are told…

– and –

Kevin Siers in the Charlotte Observer:

… perhaps the economy needs a prank…

– and –

Drew Sheneman at Tribune Media Services:

… but we can be grateful for a candidate’s maturity…

– and –

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

… and let him take credit for things he didn’t do (he needs to convince us of his worth.)

 

How do we deal with American illiteracy?

Perhaps you are disturbed, as I am, that there are large numbers of Americans appearing in this political season who cannot interpret either the needs of the nation or the words of various experts in how to fill those needs. It is very apparent in the repetition by average Americans of things they hear from sources like Fox News, or even CNN and MSNBC, without evaluating whether they are true.

This has a lot to do with literacy, defined by ProLiteracy.org as “the ability to read, write, compute, and use technology at a level that enables an individual to reach his or her full potential as a parent, employee, and community member.” The statistics?

  • 63 million adults — 29 percent of the country’s adult population —over age 16 don’t read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth grade level.
  • An additional 30 million 14 percent of the country’s adult population — can only read at a fifth grade level or lower.
  • Forty-three percent of adults with the lowest literacy rates in the United States live in poverty.
  • The United States ranks fifth on adult literacy skills when compared to other industrialized nations.
  • In the U.S., 63 million adults — 29 percent of the country’s adult population —over age 16 don’t read well enough to understand a newspaper story written at the eighth grade level.
  • An additional 30 million 14 percent of the country’s adult population — can only read at a fifth grade level or lower.
  • Forty-three percent of adults with the lowest literacy rates in the United States live in poverty.
  • The United States ranks fifth on adult literacy skills when compared to other industrialized nations.
  • Adult low literacy can be connected to almost every socio-economic issue in the United States.
  • Low health literacy costs between $106 billion and $236 billion each year in the U.S.
  • Seventy-seven million Americans have only a 2-in-3 chance of correctly reading an over-the-counter drug label or understanding their child’s vaccination chart.
  • Low literacy’s effects cost the U.S. $225 billion or more each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.

Got the idea? How do you think the result of these statistics show up during the election season? Take a look:

This is not something that can be corrected in the short term… mores the pity. It requires long-term support of education and the increased employment of teachers. It mandates aiming the majority of our youth to college education as opposed to the military. It means encouraging reading and writing on continuing upgraded levels.

It also requires a massive reduction in the influence of current television programming, something that is the least likely to happen anytime soon.