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NRA website has nothing on the Thursday night movie theatre shooting…

I thought I’d skip over to the News page at the NRA’s website and watch their news report from yesterday, July 20. I was sure they would at least put forward a position on the Colorado shooting that killed and wounded about 50 people.

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA

Nothing there. Oh, there was a complaint about Congress looking into carry permit law and shooting competitions around the country, but nothing at all about the mass killing in a movie theatre.

Wayne LaPierre’s National Rifle Association has ignored the idea of people who shouldn’t have guns being able to get them…and use them. Their recent support of the “Stand Your Ground” law in the Trayvon Martin case is an example of their position. And look, Twenty or so years ago, the NRA was losing members. At the time, when some nut shot up a post office or a McDonald’s, we actually had laws passed like the 1994 assault weapons ban.

LaPierre and members lobbied for years and made sure the assault weapons ban was not renewed. I assume that means that the NRA thinks assaults are legal.

Rather than focus on putting airport-style security on movie theatres (which will keep me away from the movies), why aren’t we exploring more effective gun laws? I assume LaPierre and his minions are meeting today over at their world headquarters outside of DC planning their next set of tactics to keep assault weapons in the hands of moose hunters and to promote automatic weapons and machine guns for target shooting.

Keep an eye on the TV news… the NRA will be showing up soon.

Thanks to all of you who have called and e-mailed after my accident…

So many of you have wished me well. I am still in some pain in my ribcage (I’m  calling it “airbag shock”), but, in general I’m feeling much better.

Several have asked what caused the the accident and the best I can say is “I don’t know.” Essentially I had a blackout seizure and when I finally realized where I was I was 30 miles down the road having hit two cars and a power line. When I noticed a police car behind me and I pulled over, I had no idea what was going on, or that the whole front of my car was just about gone.

Somewhere in the course of the accident I lost my Superfocus glasses… I terrible loss for me. We don’t know yet of the insurance covers the loss as part of the accident.

Anyway, they’re not likely to let me drive again unless they can figure out what causes the seizures (apparently I’ve had a couple of other ones, not while driving, over the last couple of years. Most of these include lapses of time that I don’t remember, either.)

So my computer and I will continue to travel the world… but I won’t be getting out of the yard unless someone else takes me.

Decision is in… for the most part Obama has triumphed.

From the Financial Times:

US Supreme Court upholds bulk of ‘ObamaCare’

The US Supreme Court has left Barack Obama’s healthcare law broadly intact but ruled that an element of the law was not valid, handing the president a political victory.


In decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the majority of justices ruled that the individual mandate that compelled every American to buy insurance was not valid under the commerce clause of the Constitution. But they also ruled that the financial penalty outlined in the law against people who did not buy insurance was allowed. In effect, it means that the high court agreed with critics who said the mandate as written was unconstitutional, but that the implementation of the law will proceed much as it would have if the law had been completely upheld.


The mandate can now be enforced as a tax.

So the Mandate is unconstitutional, but it still may be applied with a different definition. This, of course, means Congress has to create the tax and the forthcoming conflict will be in this area.

Want to know where the NRA stands on shooting people like Trayvon Martin?

National Rifle Association

National Rifle Association – Our Great Protector 😦

In 2005, the NRA pushed it’s Florida members to vote to support the “Stand Your Ground” law. Now, when we’ve seen what that law can cause in the Trayvon Martin case, the National Rifle Association is now offering legal insurance for Stand Your Ground Shooters.

The insurance  covers policy holders’ costs should they become embroiled in a legal battle after shooting someone in “self-defense.” It is formally endorsed by the NRA and administered by Lockton Affinity exclusively for NRA members  (added as a rider to the “excess personal liability” plan.)

Here’s how the website advertises the added coverage for self-defense (emphasis in the original):

What’s Covered:

• Provides coverage up to the limit selected for criminal and civil defense costs.

Cost of civil suit defense is provided in addition to the limit of liability for bodily injury and property damage.

Criminal Defense Reimbursement is provided for alleged criminal actions involving self-defense when you are acquitted of such criminal charges or the charges are dropped.

And what does it cost? The basic liability plan costs either $47 or $67 annually, for coverage up to $100,000 or $250,000, respectively… PLUS a policy holder can add the self-defense insurance by paying $118 or $165 for the lesser coverage, or between $187 and $254 for the larger plan.The coverage amount stays the same.

I agree with ThinkProgress.org that Matt Bors summed it up better than anyone:

As usual, America is so lucky to have the NRA looking after our right to bear (and use) arms.

Not all parts of Obamacare are objected to by three major insurers…

While we’re waiting for the Supreme Court to make a decision on the health Care law, at least three major insurers promised yesterday to continue following some of the rules in the law.

United Healthcare, representing about 26 million people that could be affected by a change in the law, said it would allow young adults to stay on their parents’ policies up to age 26, wouldn’t reinstate lifetime limits on coverage and would continue to offer cancer screenings and other preventive services without co-payments. It also would maintain a third-party appeals process for treatment denials and wouldn’t cancel policies retroactively.

Later in the day, Humana said it would continue the same provisions. Aetna, said it would retain the young adult provision, the preventive care benefits and a third-party appeals program, but didn’t include a reference to lifetime limits on coverage or retroactive cancellation.

Public opinion polls have shown these provisions to be very popular, even among people who say they don’t like the overall law.No other comments on significant provisions in the law, such as the requirement that applicants with preexisting conditions must be accepted for insurance after 2014.

No word yet from the Romney folks on this set of announcements.

What makes Tennessee the Capital of Creationist Conservatism?

For one thing, their House and Senate just passed a bill that allows criminal prosecution for the death of an embryo.

Although it has passed the Tennessee Senate and House, Governor Bill Haslam hasn’t yet said where he stands on the bill (HB3517) which marks the second change in the last couple of years to a 1989 law making it a crime to kill a “viable fetus.” Last year they cut the word “viable.”

The bill marks the second change in two years to a law that since 1989 had it a crime to cause the death of a “viable fetus.” That was changed last year to eliminate the word “viable.”

It seems, however, that under the scientific definition of a fetus, the term only applies when eight weeks or more has passed since conception. Adding “embryo” covers from the moment of conception. Sen. Mae Beavers (R), the sponsor, got the text of the law changed.

Should this bill get signed by Haslam, Tennessee will be the go-to state for religious extremism. And maybe embryos will get tax deductions.

As to women’s rights, does this make a miscarriage a crime?

Quote of the Day :)

“There is a strange new law making its way through the Arizona Legislature that would make it illegal to post negative comments on the Internet. The penalty for annoying or offending someone is up to six months in jail. That is good. They’re always saying the prisons aren’t full enough.”

Jimmy Kimmel

Thanks to All Hat, No Cattle for pointing out this one.

Today the Supreme Court gets back to the Health Care Bill’s Constitutionality…

C-Span 3 has them scheduled to be on the air at 1:00 PM… I don’t know if that’s live or a replay, but it will cover the next stage of their discussions.Today is the second day of hearings (tomorrow is the third and last), with the justices moving from the technicalities of the first day to exploring the legal issues at the heart of whether the law is constitutional or not.

Most of the commentators I’ve heard in the last two days think the 22 Republican challengers (3 state governors, the rest Republican Attorneys General) will not get the law declared unconstitutional. If that is the case, any move to change or eliminate it goes back to Congress.

From 1992 to the near present, it was the Republicans who were pushing mor the Individual Mandate that everyone be required to have Health Insurance. It was only when Obama pushed it in his ACA bill that they came put against it. This is why it seems political more than nationally useful.

Anyway, I’ll be listening to the Court… so more later.

Oral Argument on Health Care begins before the Supreme Court

I’ve been sitting watching C-Span 3 which is replaying the arguments today (the beginning of six hours of arguments over three days) – Today they debated whether the Healthcare Law includes a tax and, if so, does the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to decide the case.

Reuters did a summary of the morning’s session:

LEGAL QUESTION: Whether a challenge to the new requirement that most people in the U.S. buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty must wait until the penalty is due and a refund is sought. This provision of the law is known as the “individual mandate.” A central issue is whether the court should regard this as a general “penalty” or as a “tax” that would be covered by a U.S. tax law known as the Anti-Injunction Act, premised on the notion of “pay first, litigate later.”

* WHO ARGUED: Robert Long, of Covington and Burling, appointed by the court to argue that tax policy should apply and delay the case; Donald Verrilli, who as U.S. solicitor general is the government’s chief courtroom lawyer, and Gregory Katsas of Jones Day, who joined the government’s argument.

* THE HIGHLIGHTS INSIDE: A majority of justices across the ideological spectrum suggested by their questions that federal tax law would be no barrier to reaching the core question of whether Congress had the power to require people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

* INSIDE THE COURTROOM: Justice Clarence Thomas did not ask any questions during the session, his usual style during oral arguments. He last asked a question on Feb. 22, 2006, during arguments in a death penalty case. Among the spectators who got one of the coveted seats inside courtroom with the white marble columns and red velvet drapes were: Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Attorney General Eric Holder; outspoken critic of the law Alabama Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions; and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has led the challenge by the 26 states.

* THE LOWDOWN OUTSIDE: Hundreds of supporters and protesters dueled on the sidewalk chanting and marching with signs declaring their feelings about the law.

* THE DAY’S QUOTE “FOR”: Kathie McClure, an Atlanta attorney, said the law has allowed her children, who suffer from epilepsy and diabetes and are now in their 20s, to get health insurance that they otherwise would not have had. McClure was first in line for a public seat ahead of Tuesday’s second day of arguments and has been camped out since Friday. “This is personal for me. This is about my children’s’ future. But it’s really also about all the other millions of people in America who are in their same situation. In America we spend a boatload of money, trillions of dollars, and still we have a very poor outcome for our people,” McClure said.

* THE DAY’S QUOTE “AGAINST”: Sally Oljar, from Seattle, said it defies the U.S. Constitution ,o force Americans to buy anything. “I’d like to think that the Supreme Court supports the Constitution. … If they don’t, then there are a lot of us who are ready to go to jail. The day hasn’t come when the government can force me to buy a damn thing,” she said.

* UP NEXT: Tuesday is the main event of the three days when the justices will hear arguments on whether Congress, in requiring that most people in the U.S. buy insurance by 2014, exceeded its power to regulate interstate commerce.

The Supreme Court has posted the audio and transcript of the arguments on its website, here, and C-Span 3 will probably replay the session this afternoon and this evening (check listings.)

Culture Wars…

We are entering another month of the ongoing political culture wars next week, without really looking at the concerns of jobs, economics, climate change or any of the other real problems that need to be addressed.

Tuesday will be the Michigan and Arizona primaries, so the TV pundits are focusing on those states and in so doing are revealing some new cultural phenomena. For instance, in Arizona they are considering a new law that bans college teachers from cursing but allows students to carry guns. Got that? Gun violence good, language violence bad? And then… what is a naughty enough word to get a teacher fired? Will they be listed in the law?

The biggest insertion of cultural conflict into the process is, of course, religion. Between candidates who have been spoken to by God and encouraged to run, to major religious groups protesting established birth control legislation but supporting the penetration of vaginas to discourage abortions, the promotion of religion over secular politics is frightening… and disgusting.

These politicians are ready to scrap what we know of the scientific proof for climate change in order to promote more industries that pollute the air (listen to the righties cheer) or to ignore what is necessary to reduce the unbelievable growth of population. Don’t they see what is going on here?

I turn to the world of intellectual comedy to backup my views of religion, science and atheism (a belief area that I belong to… but like most atheists don’t try to inflict my beliefs on other people using the replacement of secular law.) Here’s Eddie Izzard:

Even if you don’t agree with Eddie (or me), I hope you were at least entertained… and will think about how to get away from the culture wars and back to solving our real problems.

(BTW, Eddie Izzard will soon be appearing in a new version of Treasure Island playing Long John Silver. Can’t wait.)

Ayn Rand an Illegal Immigrant

Ayn Rand

My thanks to Bruce The Economist for bringing attention to this as we see the conservative elite clamp down on possible voting immigrants…

Brucetheeconomist's Blog

Date: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Earlier this month was the birthday of Ayn Rand, the controversial philosopher and novelist, who emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1926. Regardless of what one thinks of her ideas, there is no denying that she was a great American. When the American intelligentsia was playing footsie with Soviet communism, Rand unabashedly defended liberty and individual rights, America’s core values, famously declaring: “[The] United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world.”

But this proud naturalized American, who arguably did more than any contemporary figure to restore the faith of Americans in America, might have been hounded out of the country if one of our current crop of Republican hopefuls had been president when she arrived. Why? Because Rand lied and bent every rule to gain…

View original post 6 more words

A Quote To End The Day (and it was a Big Day):

From Michael Moore at a WE ARE ONE rally:

Today everywhere is Memphis, and it’s not just sanitation workers being attacked. It’s teachers and firefighters and social workers — yes, all those greedy public workers who caused the Great Recession we are in!

It was the greedy teachers who caused the crash on Wall Street!

It was the greedy firefighters who sent millions of jobs overseas!

It was the greedy social workers who insisted that GE pay no taxes and that CEOs should make 500 times what the average employee makes!

No, my friends, it wasn’t! It was the top 1% of the country who did this. THEY brought on the mortgage crisis. THEY made off with billions of dollars from our economy. THEY have systematically destroyed the middle class. And THEY have bought and sold the very people elected to represent us!

 

…and it looks like Obama is one of them. He can turn himself around, though… and we’d better make sure he knows what we think.

This from Salon this morning: A great piece by David Sirota:

clipped from www.salon.com

The states’ legislative sadists

Mad scientists of lawmaking are looking to go medieval on America. Here are six examples

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said that states are the “laboratories of

Louis Brandeis Associate Justice c1916
Justice Brandeis

democracy.” Oft repeated over time, the aphorism has helped impart legitimacy to the rough and tumble of state lawmaking. We’ve heard “laboratory” and we’ve imagined staid scientists in white coats rigorously testing forward-thinking theories of societal advancement.

It’s certainly a reassuring picture — but there is a darker side of the metaphor. States are indeed laboratories. The problem is that today, those laboratories are increasingly run by mad scientists.

We’re not talking about the usual Dr. Frankensteins trying to bring alive new corporate giveaways through harebrained cuts to social services (though there are those, too). We’re talking about true legislative sadists looking to go medieval on America. Behold just six of the most telling examples:
blog it

Republicans Hide Health Care Law Benefits From Their Constituents

clipped from tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com
Two days after a Republican Florida federal court judge voided the entire health care law, the multi-front Republican war against it continues in the Senate, where members will vote today on whether or not to just repeal it, full stop.
Simultaneously, Republican members are trying to sneak grenades into the heart of the law, crafting modifications which they admit are meant to destroy it.
But that presents them with a conundrum when they head back to their states and districts and face constituents who stand to benefit from the law right now — seniors who are entitled to free checkups, and young adults, who can now stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26, for example.

“I’m a practical guy. I believe redoing the bill and replacing it is the best for everybody. Until that day comes, if you have a legitimate need under the current structure, I’ll help you meet it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “It’s like the stimulus funds — I voted against it but, you know.”

There hasn’t been such partisan warfare about a bill or law since, perhaps, Republicans (and a few Democrats) passed Medicare Part D — the prescription drug benefit — back in 2003.

In a fight that in some ways mirrored the health care reform debate Democratic principals trashed the bill and the legislative process until the moment it became law. There was no talk of “death panels” but it was no secret that Democrats hated that bill, wanted to do it themselves — make sure it was paid for, close the doughnut hole, and otherwise improve it.

At the time, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was ranking minority member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee‘s HealthSubcommittee. He was one of the Medicare bill’s most vocal critics, but he changed tone after his constituents served to benefit from it.
Sherrod Brown, member of the United States Senate.

Sherrod Brown

“I worked with senior centers. I recall I sent out missives of some kind… to seniors and senior groups to make sure that

they could benefit from this under the law, but again, making sure that the drug companies and insurance companies watching them, that they weren’t gaming the system with higher premiums and taking people off formularies, and all the things that the drug and insurance companies are pretty good at doing.”

.In Republican Ohio today, Brown sees a different dynamic. 

“All I can see is a bunch of conservative Washington politicians who have been benefiting for their whole political careers… from tax-payer financed health insurance taking benefits away from seniors and taking benefits away from families,” he said.

blog it

 

Well, let’s see where the vote goes today… then maybe we can get on to funding the FAA.

Watching the House debate Health Repeal…

As I sit here I wonder why they need 7 hours of this… alternating 1 minute speeches making the same points over and over but not explaining what is really in the law. The Republicans keep bringing up a complaint that there is no “Tort Reform” anywhere in the law and that when they put a new law in (after repealing the one we have) they will certainly include “tort reform”.

I’ve been listening to this for years, but had no real knowledge of what was meant by tort reform. When I started researching on the web, several legal sites led me to a law blog run by Justinian C. Lane, Esq., where this  article from 2004 was considered definitive.

It’s long and goes into depth, but before we accede to the Republicans’ need for “tort reform” we should know what we’re getting into. I reproduce it here in it’s entirety:

 

What Is Tort Reform – And Why Is It Bad For The Public?

Justinian on March 1, 20042 Comments

There’s an interesting dichotomy regarding the public’s perception of lawsuits in America. On one hand, we love the little guys, Erin Brockovich, and the myriad crusaders for justice in John Grisham’s novels. We hate “big tobacco”, and cheer multibillion dollar settlements in the tobacco litigation. Americans, as a general rule, are distrustful of big corporations. The accounting scandals on Wall Street have left the public with the perception that the bigger the company, the deeper the corruption – remember Enron, Tyco, and Worldcom?

We’re enraged when we hear about companies that put the bottom line ahead of the safety of their customers. Yet, despite our predilection to root for the underdog, many Americans support tort reform.

What is a tort, and what is a tort reform? The classic legal textbook about Torts is called Prosser and Keeton on Torts. In that book, one definition offered of a tort is a “civil crime”; an act that is illegal, but is not criminal. Perhaps the most common type of a tort is an auto accident. Medical malpractice suits are also torts. Tort reform is the effort to “reform” lawsuits so as to prevent “runaway verdicts” that range into the millions of dollars.

Often, tort reform, or “tort deform” as its detractors call it, revolves around setting limits of awards for “noneconomic damages”. Noneconomic damages include things like pain & suffering, mental anguish, and in general, anything you don’t have a fixed bill for. To better illustrate, let’s say you’re in a car wreck and your car receives $5,000.00 in damage, and you need $5,000.00 in medical treatment. You would have $10,000.00 in economic damages. If you were to receive another $7,000.00 for pain & suffering that $7,000.00 would be noneconomic damages.

When you hear about multimillion dollar jury verdicts, they usually involve a form of noneconomic damages that are called either punitive or exemplary damages. Let’s take a look at what punitive/exemplary (P&E) damages are, and are not.

First, punitive damages are not intended to compensate or reward the individual who was wronged. The Merriam-Webster definition of punitive is “inflicting or aiming at punishment”, and the definition of exemplary, in this context anyway, is “to serve as a warning. That means that P&E damages are to punish a party who did something that the jury wants to make sure never happens again, such as knowingly selling a dangerous product, or hiring a bus driver that failed his drug test. Over time, it has been found that the most effective way to deter a company from engaging in unethical or illegal behavior is to punish them financially for their misdeeds. Juries do this by awarding punitive damages, and those awards could be considered a fine. Of course, rather than the state collecting a fine, the punitive damages go to the plaintiff of the lawsuit. From time to time, juries are outraged by a defendant’s behavior and award punitive damages that are far in excess of any suffering the plaintiff endured. These verdicts are what are reported to the public, and these verdicts create the perception of greedy plaintiffs and money-grubbing trial lawyers. However, what is rarely reported are the circumstances that caused a jury to award the large verdict.

Let’s take a burn case for an example. What if a company was making $1.3 million dollars a day selling a product that they admittedly knew routinely caused second and third degree burns to their customers? What if during the ten years they offered this product, over 700 people had been badly burned – some permanently disfigured – by this product? What if this product was sold as something harmless, even common, but this product would cause third-degree burns to the skin within two seconds of contact if it were accidentally dropped? Finally, what if that company called those 700+ burn victims “statistically trivial” and refused to fix the product, even though doing so would cost next to nothing?

What would a fair award be for the callous indifference of a multibillion dollar corporation that made $1,300,000.00 per day – $474,500,000.00 per year – by selling a product that burned over 700 men, women, and even infants?

This isn’t a fictitious case. This is the famed “McDonalds coffee case”, and in that case, six men and six women found that an appropriate punishment for McDonalds was to “fine” them the profit from just two days of nationwide coffee sales.

McDonalds sold their coffee at 180-190 degrees, a temperature that they admitted no human could drink, as it would cause third-degree burns within 2-7 seconds of contact with skin. Over 700 people had been burned within the ten years prior to the McDonald’s coffee case, yet McDonalds wouldn’t lower the temperature of their coffee.

Stella Liebeck was the woman who was burned. She was a 79 year old grandmother who received third-degree burns to her legs, thighs, and genitals when the cup accidentally spilled in her lap. The 190-degree coffee immediately soaked into her jogging pants, and she was unable to do anything to prevent her burns. She had to go through painful debridements (scrubbing with wire brushes), skin grafts, and her treatment lasted two years. Of course, at the end of the treatment, she was left with permanent scars. She offered to settle with McDonalds for the amount of her medical bills, and they refused. After that, she hired an attorney, and the rest became a media circus.

One fact that wasn’t reported very heavily was that the judge reduced the $2,700,000 award to $480,000.00 and Stella settled for an undisclosed figure less than that amount instead of going through a lengthy appeals process. This demonstrates the safety valve inherent in the systems of many states: A judge can often reduce a verdict he or she finds excessive.

Perhaps the most important fact of the case is that the day after the verdict, McDonalds lowered the temperature of their coffee to 158 degrees, a temperature that takes about a minute to cause severe burns; the justice system worked, and it worked because of a large jury verdict.

But America now ridicules a grandmother who received third-degree burns to her genitals: Ever receive a piece of e-mail called “The Stella Awards”? The “Stella Awards” are supposed jury verdicts that purportedly showcase how “broken” the justice system is. None of those verdicts are real; some are laughable. But every laugh at the “Stella Awards” is a laugh at a permanently disfigured grandmother. More importantly, every recipient of the “Stella Awards” is someone receiving misinformation that may influence them to support tort reform.

The real point of tort reform isn’t to prevent multimillion-dollar jury verdicts; most of those awards are reversed or overturned, and even if they weren’t, a $1 million dollar verdict isn’t much deterrent to a company that makes ten billion dollars a year. So what is the point of tort reform? It’s to keep the misdeeds of corporate America out of the public eye. After all, if a plaintiff’s “best day in court” is arbitrarily set at $250,000.00, there’s no incentive to go through a lengthy and expensive trial if the plaintiff is offered $250,000.00 by a company that sells a defective product. Such a settlement would almost certainly be confidential, and the company could continue selling their defective product and killing or maiming consumers without anyone knowing of the dangers of the product. Confidential settlements kept the problems with Firestone tires a secret for years before the recent lawsuits. To put a finer point on it, confidential settlements killed Firestone consumers; it wasn’t until public litigation began that Firestone recalled tires that they had for years known were defective.

The real effect of tort reform will be to ensure that corporations can keep their dirty laundry private, and to place the financial well-being of a corporation above the physical well-being of their consumers. It’s a sad commentary on our society’s values that corporations will pay more money for defrauding investors out of money than for knowingly selling products that kill their consumers.

News Update from California….

Peter Hecht | Sacramento Bee
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that will reduce the crime of possession of an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction, handing a victory to marijuana advocates one month before November’s state vote to legalize pot for recreational use.

The governor’s signature of Senate Bill 1449 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, will not reduce actual penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under California law, misdemeanor possession of less than an ounce was already punishable as infraction – with offenders facing fines of $100.

Marijuana advocates say the governor’s decision to sign the bill will significantly reduce the number of cases clogging California courts by removing the misdemeanor tag.

The law will take effect Jan. 1, meaning it may be superseded – at least for Californians over 21 – by the November legalization measure.

Schwarzenegger said he signed Leno’s bill because “possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is infraction in everything but name.”

Read the complete story at sacbee.com

Why it’s important that we get behind Senator Byron Dorgan…

Dorgan (D – North Dakota) is the Senator who introduced legislation, S. 260, to shut down a tax loophole that rewards U.S. companies that move U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas. The legislation would close the loophole that allows U.S. multinational companies to defer paying income taxes on profits they make from the U.S. sale of the products manufactured in foreign factories, until those profits are returned to the United States, if ever.  Manufacturers who remain in the United States receive no similar subsidy.

While passage of this law has obvious benefits for the U.S., it has been something Dorgan has been trying to get through for ten years.

You may not believe it, but when a U.S. company closes down a U.S. manufacturing plant fires its American workers and moves those good-paying jobs to China or other locations abroad, U.S. tax law actually rewards those companies with a large tax break called deferral. The tax code allows these firms to defer paying any U.S. income taxes on the earnings from those new foreign-manufactured products until those profits are returned, if ever, to this country. If a company making the same product decides to stay in this country, it is required to pay immediate U.S. taxes on the profits it earns here.

– Senator Byron Dorgan

Examples of products that used to be manufactured in America but now are being made in China or Mexico or other countries? How

No longer Made In America

about Nabisco Fig Newtons, which are now made by 50¢ per hour workers in Mexico. Or Huffy Bicycles, formerly made in Ohio, now made in China by 33¢ per hour workers. Or Etch-a-Sketch. Or La-Z-Boy furniture. Or Fruit of the Loom underwear. The list goes on and on.

And we support the outsourcing of products in two ways. When we go to Wal-Mart or K-Mart (companies that demand our products at the lowest prices) and purchase them we give tacit support to the throwing away of American jobs. But that isn’t the only way we support major corporations who screw Americans out of their jobs…we give them tax breaks for doing it! These are called “Deferrals” and they are totally legal.

We have lost so many jobs, especially in the 8 Bush years when close to 750,000 jobs a month disappeared as work making everything

Made In Mexico

from solar panels to Radio Flyer Wagons went to China, Mexico, and other countries where child labor at 50¢ per hour for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, can create products for minimum corporate expense. It will be extremely difficult to bring jobs back, but without changing the law so that tax breaks go to those who remain in America to carry out manufacturing and not to those who rob us of jobs and send the production overseas.

The Senate is debating the issue today. Needless to say, no Republicans are stepping up to the plate yet and Republican leader McConnell (R-Kentucky) has stated that no problem exists. The President signed legislation today to make $50 Billion Dollars available to banks for loans to small businesses. Hopefully, this will create employment and perhaps see new products manufactured in our country.

One could hope.

In case you missed Stephen Colbert testifying yesterday…

…here he is before the House Immigration and Agriculture Subcommittee:

So now there is a debate as to whether this was effective or merely entertaining. It sure got a lot of people looking at the migrant fieldworker situation.
________
UPDATE:

Watching CNN this morning, the opinion of the newsman was that this was a bad move by Zoe Lofgren, the subcommittee chair who invited Colbert to appear.

And, of course, Fox News has weighed in with this statement:

His “testimony’ was an embarrassment to himself, his country, the Congress and the entire issue of immigration reform. It amounted to nothing more than a bad comedic monologue.

My opinion, of course, is that Colbert was right on and Congress was a little more interesting to watch yesterday… and the point was made.

Congress is back in session and the coming elections are influencing everything…

I watched the Senate for awhile this morning. They are working on a bill to provide more money to smaller banks to loan to small businesses so they can create more jobs. Admirable.

Except…

Republicans have gone after the issue of 1099 forms that businesses have to provide to the IRS for new purchases over $500.00 (primarily because the people they are buying a lot of their supplies from can’t be counted on to declare income), and they are doing this with the Johanns Amendment which throws out just about everything in the bill… but is really being used to disable income to the Health Care law that was passed earlier this year. The debate this morning by Senator Nelson from Florida (D) proposes another amendment that cuts out the 1099s for purchases under $5,000.00 and does not disable Health Care funding. Voting on these amendments (Johanns first) is going on now. Eventually they will get back to debating the whole bill.

…and Johanns did not get the 60 votes it needed.

The House hasn’t come back into session yet. They should be taking up the Republicans’ push to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone and President Obama’s insistance on returning the taxes on the rich. That should be fun. We saw John Boehner’s slip(?) on the Sunday talks that if he had to he’d support the President’s proposal since it would keep the tax cuts on 98% of us who are NOT rich (income less than $250,000.00 per year). Maybe this will begin this afternoon.

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UPDATE:

The Nelson Amendment was also voted down, but the Senate moved to go into debate on the overall bill before they broke for lunch.

Time for California to End The Unwinnable Marijuana War

Cannabis plant from http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/...

Image via Wikipedia

Eyes are all on California… if Marijuana is legalized there it could be legalized everywhere and perhaps our huge prison and arrest expenses (totaling in the billions of bucks) can be applied to more necessary ventures.

Here’s part of the article in OpEdNews today… go in and read the whole thing before you make your own decision:

clipped from www.opednews.com
By Kevin Zeese (about the author)
Can More Arrests Ever Stop Marijuana?

Since the founding of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1973, 15 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana.

That is more people than live in California’s 25 largest cities millions more than live in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Illinois.

The DEA has led an aggressive national law enforcement effort that results in a marijuana arrest every 38 seconds, propelling the U.S. to become the biggest incarcerator on the planet, housing one out of four of the world’s
prisoners.Despite mass arrests, incarceration and the tearing apart of millions of families, the war rages on with no end in sight.
Is there any reason to think that millions more arrests with costs running into the billions will win the marijuana war?
Will more arrests stop marijuana?
If not, isn’t it time to consider alternatives that could better control marijuana?
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Do we deserve an Article V Convention? Congress doesn’t think so…

Article V of the U.S. Constitution: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight [1808] shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

So what happens when the Congress ignores (and has since 1965) applications by ALL 50 STATES to call an Article V Convention? Take a look at requests for a Balanced Budget Amendment, which would keep the government from going further and further into debt on Military expenditures, let’s say. 171 Balanced Budget/General-Call-for-an-Article-V-Convention applications were submitted by 39 different states (rescissions excluded). Has an Article V Convention occurred?

No.

Friends Of An Article V Convention are pushing the cause at their web site. This is what you find at foavc.org:

What is Happening to Our Country?

Are you aware that We The People are being denied our constitutional right to an Article V Convention to propose amendments, despite a whopping 400+ (or more) Article V applications from the state legislatures of ALL 50 states? Only 34 (i.e. two thirds) are required.

FOAVC is a non-partisan association of American citizens from every state comprised of a broad range of occupations, Convention of 1787 (click  here to enlarge)ethnicities, religious affiliations and political persuasions.  Our common bond and mission is a deep commitment to preserving the values and principles embodied in our founding documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America – upon which this nation was founded. Article V of the United States Constitution provides that Congress, “on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments“.  The Founding Fathers of our nation recognized the importance of providing this means by which the citizens of our country could initiate amendments to change and/or clarify the Constitution; the fundamental document which they intended to be not only the blueprint for our federal system but also the supreme Law of the Land.

If you’d like to see the 400+ applications for the Constitutionally Required Article V Convention? Go HERE.

And once a Convention is called, there can be other amendments brought in (I think this is the real fear of our legislators… we might get lots of our government problems changed.)

So what do you think? As Joel S. Hirschhorn of FOAVC has stated:

American society is saddled with distractive consumerism, a culture of dishonesty, and rampant corporate corruption of government.  Despite what false patriots tell us, we now have a delusional democracy, not one that citizens can trust to serve their interests.  We clearly need a Second American Revolution.

Quote of the Day – on the Google/Verizon Attack on Net Neutrality

“We can’t let companies write the rules that we the people are supposed to follow. Because if that happens those rules will be written only to protect corporations.”

– Senator Al Franken (D-MN)

Read more HERE.

A Deal Reached to Kill “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”?

OK…let’s see if this goes through. I think it is rather iffy myself.
Picked this up in the NY Times:
clipped from www.nytimes.com
WASHINGTON — President Obama, the Pentagon and leading lawmakers reached agreement Monday on legislative language and a time frame for repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, clearing the way for Congress to take up the measure as soon as this week.
It was not clear whether the deal had secured the votes necessary to pass the House and Senate, but the agreement removed the Pentagon’s objections to having Congress vote quickly on repealing the contentious 17-year-old policy, which bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the armed services.
House Democratic leaders were meeting Monday night and considering taking up the measure as soon as Thursday. But even if the measure passes, the policy cannot not change until after Dec. 1, when the Pentagon completes a review of its readiness to deal with the changes. Mr. Obama, his defense secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff would also be required to certify that repeal would not harm readiness.
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Uganda is being criticized by the world for its proposed anti-homosexual law…

clipped from carnalnation.com

Since the international media began reporting on and criticizing a bill proposing the death penalty for some gays in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has found himself in a difficult position on the world stage.
Mr. Museveni said, “It’s a foreign policy issue, and we must handle it in a way that does not compromise our principles but also takes into account our foreign policy interests.”
“The prime minister of Canada came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays. [UK] Prime Minister Gordon Brown came to see me and what was he talking about? Gays. Mrs Clinton [the U.S. Secretary of State] rang me. What was she talking about? Gays.”
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, told reporters, “There has been a gross-misunderstanding, because [the anti-gay bill] is not a government sponsored bill, this is a private member of Parliament who proposed a bill.” He added, “The government has not taken a formal position of the matter.”
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The thing that is most disturbing to this blogger is:

Evidence has recently surfaced that this unduly harsh, anti-gay bill may have some roots in America, particularly in the fundamentalist Christian community. Mr. Museveni, a key African ally to these fundamentalist interests, has previously said that homosexuality is a European corruption of Africa. While the three-term Ugandan president seems to have had a change of heart, it likely has more to do with money than an actual moral epiphany. But that’s politics.

This “change of heart”, however seems to mean only that the death penalty may be removed. The proposed law is not going away.

Courts Roll Back Limits on Spending in Election Law

From the NY times…will this have a negative effect on the next Presidential campaign. Here’s a clip, but I encourage you to read the whole article:
clipped from www.nytimes.com
Even before a landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance law expected within days, a series of other court decisions is reshaping the political battlefield by freeing corporations, unions and other interest groups from many of the restrictions on their advertising about issues and candidates.
Legal experts and political operatives say the cases roll back campaign spending rules to the years before Watergate. The end of decades-old restrictions could unleash a torrent of negative advertisements, help cash-poor Republicans in a pivotal year and push President Obama to bring in more money for his party.
If the Supreme Court, as widely expected, rules against core elements of the existing limits, Democrats say they will try to enact new laws to reinstate the restrictions in time for the midterm elections in November.
“It will be no holds barred when it comes to independent expenditures,” said Kenneth A. Gross, a veteran political law expert at the firm of Skadden Arps in Washington.
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