NC Constitutional Amendments

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Editoral Cartoon by Draughon/WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

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Dems Are Once Again Poised to Fumble Away a Must Win Election

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Jeff Merkley

IMAGE: Whowhatwhy.org

 

If the Democrats want to win control of the House in the fall, they need to have a plan, a positive vision, and a focus on issues that directly affect Americans. Not surprisingly, they are failing on all fronts.

I cover US politics for a living and, with less than five months to go before the crucial midterm election that will determine whether American voters will impose some checks on President Donald Trump, I couldn’t tell you what the Democrats’ platform is… or their plan for winning this November.

Instead of coming up with policies that will change the lives of Americans in a meaningful way — as well as a strategy of telling voters about them — they keep getting sucked into the Trump trap.

The president will do or say something that is so ridiculous or reprehensible that Democrats are sure that, this time, the public will surely realize that he is a know-nothing liar and demagogue who is destroying the US from within.

More from Klaus Marre and Donkeyhotey @ Whowhatwhy.org

 

Posted by Libergirl

British Politicians Declare War on Knives Having failed to thwart crime with gun bans, British officials now want to restrict what may be the most useful tool ever invented.

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It turns out that when you pass laws disarming people in an attempt to prevent violence, criminals who habitually disregard all laws don’t make exceptions for the new rules. In London, crime still thrives despite the U.K.’s tight gun controls and the British political class is now desperately turning its attention to restricting knives.
A flurry of recent headlines reveal that London now has a higher murder rate than New York City, a metropolis of nearly identical population and one long considered more vulnerable to crime. “London police investigated more murders than their New York counterparts did over the last two months,” Reuters reported earlier this month. “In the latest bloodshed, a 17-year-old girl died on Monday after she was found with gunshot wounds in Tottenham, north London, a day after a man was fatally stabbed in south London.”
Commentators note that this may be a blip and that New York City’s murder rate for 2017 stood at more than double that for London. In fact, London’s murder rate really hasn’t risen much—instead, New York’s has dropped dramatically. But that still represents a big shift. In her 2002 Guns and Violence: The English Experience, historian Joyce Lee Malcolm noted that “New York City’s homicide rate has been at least five times higher than London’s for two hundred years. For most of that time, there were no serious firearm restrictions in either city.”

New Yorkers didn’t need firearms to exceed the bloodlust of their trans-Atlantic rivals. Even if you removed crimes committed with guns from the comparison, “New Yorkers still managed to outstab and outkick Liverpudlians by a multiple of 3 and Londoners by a multiple of 5.6″ over those two centuries,” wrote the late Eric H. Monkkonen in Murder in New York City, published in 2000.
The mayhem that’s closed London’s homicide gap with its trans-Atlantic rival appears to be largely the result of violent criminal gangs. Firearms are strictly restricted in the U.K., including a near-total ban on handguns. Nevertheless, “[i]n the 12 months to October 2017, there were 2,500 offences involving guns: a 16 per cent increase on the previous year and a 44 per cent increase on 2014,” the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee noted in January. Criminals, it seems, are not averse to committing crimes—including the illegal acquisition of tools that help them commit more crimes.
Besides illegal guns, British criminals also use edged weapons, which have been a favorite tool for mayhem since the dawn of civilization.
Having failed to disarm criminals with gun controls that they defy, British politicians are now turning their attention to implementing something new and different: knife control. Because criminals will be much more respectful of knife laws than of those targeted at firearms, I guess.
“No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife. Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law,” London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted on April 8.
Not to be outdone, his predecessor, Boris Johnson, currently Foreign Secretary, called for increased use of stop-and-search powers by police. “You have got to stop them, you have got to search them and you have got to take the knives out of their possession.”
Poundland (the British equivalent of a dollar store) announced last week that it will no longer sell kitchen knives in any of its 850 stores. Similar stores are being slapped with fines for selling knives to minors.
British politicians propose banning home delivery of knives and police promote street-corner bins for the surrender of knives while also conducting stings against knife vendors. Their goal is to “target not only those who carry and use knives, but also the supply, access and importation of weapons.”
It all sounds all so familiar, doesn’t it? And yet so utterly pointless. If British authorities have been unable to block criminals’ access to firearms—mechanical devices that require some basic mechanical skill to manufacture, or at least a 3D printer—how are they going to cut off the flow of knives, which require nothing more than a piece of hard material that can take an edge?
There are also practical downsides to discouraging the public from possessing knives—one of the oldest and most useful tools ever invented. Poundland, after all, isn’t dropping the sale of combat blades; the company’s move applies specifically to the tools people use to make their meals. The law looks much more likely to inconvenience peaceful people planning to carve a roast than to put off thugs who, push comes to shove, can find a way to sharpen a piece of rebar against a rock.
And remember, if guns and knives can be used offensively by criminals, they can be used defensively by would-be victims—especially if they’re permitted to do so. In her 2002 book, Malcolm noted that “English law now prohibits civilians from carrying any article” for private defense. Seventy-eight year-old Richard Osborn-Brooks was recently arrested on suspicion of murder for fatally stabbing a burglar who attacked him in his own home; only under public pressure did police released him without charges. Current British law actually enhances the advantage criminals who ignore the law have over their law-abiding prey.
Rather than a race to ban dangerous objects that can only end with the criminalization of rocks and pointed sticks, it’s time politicians stopped pushing laws that are ignored by criminals and annoying and inconvenient to the rest of us.

By  J.D. Tuccille/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Lesson From Parkland: Our Political System Is Totally Corrupt

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As the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has shown, what was considered insanely corrupt political behavior 40 years ago is now normal. And you can thank right-wingers on the Supreme Court.

Back in 1982, the late novelist Robert B. Parker was hard at work on one of his Spencer novels, titled The Widening Gyre. In the book, a local businessman owns a local politician; the politician then makes tax decisions and real estate zoning decisions that help the businessman. Both the politician and the businessman are working as hard as they can to cover it all up.

In 1982 this sort of thing was a major, career-ending scandal for both the politician and the businessman.  A wealthy man owning a politician, who, in turn, changed the tax code and altered regulations to increase the businessman’s profits, was considered a symptom of intolerable corruption.

But what Parker and most Americans didn’t realize was that, in 1982, the die had already been cast and the oligarchs had already begun seizing the levers of power in America; a seizure that would lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.

The billionaires doing the seizing of our nation just didn’t come out about it until the presidency of Barack Obama, when the Koch Network, Adelson, the Mercers and the Waltons all became openly, and in some cases braggadociosly political in their “giving.”

As I noted in my book The Crash of 2016, The American Legislative Exchange Council was founded in 1973, right after Lewis Powell’s memo –  suggesting a propaganda program to promote the interests of big business and the rich – began circulating through top corporate and high-net-worth circles. That year, too, the Heritage Foundation was created. And in 1977, Charles Koch and friends founded the CATO Institute.

While the efforts of these groups have been multifaceted, their most obvious and deadly impact has been on the ongoing proliferation of weapons of war in America, and the denial of healthcare to millions in so-called red states. With the installation of Reagan, big business and billionaires were finally to get the tax breaks and other goodies that they wanted from Congress and the Executive Branch, while waging war on unions and working people.

But to Lewis Powell, a lawyer by training and the author of the infamous blueprint for billionaires to take over America (now known as The Powell Memo), nothing was more important than targeting the courts.

In his memo, Powell wrote, “Under our constitutional system, especially with an activist-minded Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change.”

He noted, “This is a vast area of opportunity for the Chamber, if it is willing to undertake the role of spokesman for American business and if, in turn, business is willing to provide the funds.”

Laying out specifics, Powell added, “The Chamber would need a highly competent staff of lawyers. In special situations it should be authorized to engage, to appear as counsel amicus in the Supreme Court, lawyers of national standing and reputation. The greatest care should be exercised in selecting the cases in which to participate, or the suits to institute. But the opportunity merits the necessary effort.”

In the 1970s, as the US Chamber of Commerce focused on the courts, employing high-priced, savvy lawyers, and flooding the Supreme Court chamber with amicus briefs, a string of explosive decisions throughout the decade gave the #MorbidlyRich what they needed to eventually overthrow FDR’s New Deal and to radically reinterpret the 2nd Amendment.

In 1976, in Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court (which Nixon appointed Lewis Powell to in 1972, the year after Powell wrote his infamous memo) ruled that political money is constitutionally protected free speech, changing American law so that those who have the most money would have the most “First Amendment free speech” in our political system. And if there was anything that the NRA was getting good at, it was raising money from weapons manufacturers and others.

That same year, in United States v. Martin Linen Supply Co., corporations – as persons – were given Fifth Amendment protections against double jeopardy, limiting the ability of citizens to go after gun manufacturers, among others.

And in Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, the Supreme Court ruled that corporate advertising (including promoting M15 weapons of war to our kids) is a protected form of free speech.  (Ironically, William Rehnquist was the sole dissenter; he argued that corporate “speech” [advertising] was often deceptive. But the deed was done; Caveat emptorbecame the new American normal.)

A year later, in 1977, in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, the Supreme Court overturned state restrictions on corporate political spending, saying such restrictions violate the First Amendment rights of corporations, and giving the NRA and other interest groups an added lever to use to extract legislation.

In their dissents in that case, Justices White, Brennan, and Marshall argued, “The special status of corporations has placed them in a position to control vast amounts of economic power which may, if not regulated, dominate not only our economy but the very heart of our democracy, the electoral process.”

But their warnings were ignored.

Then came the Federalist Society, founded in 1982 with millions of dollars in funding by the Koch-connected Bradley Foundation.

They built a nationwide network of jurists, attorneys, legal scholars, and politicians to indoctrinate a new generation’s legal system with billionaire-friendly interpretations: Corporate personhood is real, money is speech, democracy is not sacred, and organized money should always have privilege over organized people.

They also helped lay the case for the Heller decision, which, for the first time in nearly 230 years, found a “right to individual gun ownership” in the 2nd Amendment.

In 2010 the Supreme Court wrapped its gift to corporations and gun manufacturers all up in a neat little bundle with their 5-4 Citizen’s United ruling.  With that decision, America was nearly completely turned over to the wealthy and corporations.

Thereafter, oligarchs like Adenson and the Kochs began openly bragging about how much they were spending to buy politicians, legislation, tax breaks, and the deregulation of consumer protections.

President Obama called this out in his 2010 State Of The Union speech:

“It’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It’s time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.

“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.

“I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.”

Hard-right corporatist judge Sam Alito silently (and disrespectfully) mouthed, “Not true!” at Obama, but history shows that Alito was the one in error, not Obama.  Right on down to the ability of foreign entities to influence our elections and lawmaking by, for example, the possible laundering of campaign money through the NRA.

And so, a few days after Paul Ryan shepherded through Congress a law that confers potentially billions of dollars in tax benefits to them, the Kochs and their friends put a half-million dollars into Ryan’s fundraising committee, while the NRA continues to shower him and Mitch McConnell with support.

In Robert B. Parker’s 1982, this would have been the end of Ryan’s career, and the Kochs and the NRA would be vilified as corrupters of the political process.

In 1971, only 175 companies had registered lobbyists. By 1982, there were nearly 2,500, and today there are over 12,000 lobbyists just registered in DC. Oligarchs were dumping huge amounts of money lobbying for favorable legislation, although it still isn’t really visible to most Americans until tragedies like mass shootings give us an insight into how it all works.

As the Reagan administration rolled into power in 1981, so, too, did the #MorbidlyRich oligarchs, who were seeding brand-new right-wing think tanks devoted to espousing the same free-market, Andrew Mellon/Warren Harding ideologies that led to the 1929 Great Crash: massive tax cuts, deregulation, and privatization.

Back during the era of Nixon, Americans understood the power and dangers of corruption.

As Lamar Waldron and I point out in our book Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination, when the milk producers association wanted the Nixon administration to increase milk price supports (to increase their profitability by over $3 billion), they hid/laundered their “campaign donations” through local GOP groups and a briefcase with $3 million in cash, which were later determined to be illegal, an event that became a major part of the Watergate-era Nixon scandals.

But that was all so pre-1976, the year when the Supreme Court’s Buckley decision ruled that rich people (or rich corporations) owning their own personal politicians wasn’t corruption; it was free speech.

While it’s taken us over 40 years to fully integrate the 1976 Buckley decision and its spawn into our body politic, the corruption of this entirely new interpretation of the First Amendment is systematically taking apart our nation. And has made it easier and easier for maladjusted people among us to stockpile weapons of war.

For example, can you imagine Richard Nixon lying about how environmentally destructive some industrial poisons are? Nixon couldn’t imagine it; he put into place the Environmental Protection Agency.  And he was fine with the fairly strong gun control laws that several states, from California to New York, had in place.

But today’s Republican Party (with a few very, very rare exceptions) is so in debt to – so owned by – a few petrobillionaires and coal multimillionaires and oil companies that they’re perfectly willing to look the world in the face and lie through their teeth about the science of global warming.

They’re so fully-owned by the gun lobby/NRA that they’ve made it illegal for the US government to do any meaningful research into gun deaths; they’ve banned doctors, in a number of states including Florida, from even asking kids

if there’s a gun in their home; and McConnell and Ryan have successfully prevented any sort of meaningful legislation to restrict guns from getting a vote even when they know it would pass.

As a result, we’re the laughingstock of the world, and we lose over 30,000 people a year to guns and another 40,000 a year to a lack of access to health care.  That’s a lot of blood on GOP hands.

Good government was perceived, prior to the Buckley decision and its embrace by the Reagan administration, as the singular hallmark of American democracy.  Today it’s a joke.

In the wake of the most recent Florida school shooting, we find politicians who’ve taken literally millions of dollars through their careers from groups like the NRA refusing to engage in any meaningful discussion about gun control.  Forget legislation; they won’t even allow a debate.

This echoes the legislators who’ve taken Koch or ExxonMobil money and refuse to discuss climate change.

Or those indebted to Big Pharma who won’t talk about reforming Medicare Part D so the government can negotiate discounted drug prices.

Or those taking money from agricultural chemical and seed companies who ignore evidence of cancer and other problems with GMOs and the herbicides and pesticides associated with them.

The young people of Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida see this situation with new and clear eyes. They see it for what it is: Corruption.

And they’re mad as hell about how that corruption has led to the deaths of 17 of their friends and teachers.

Every new assault – be it from an “active shooter” or a corporate raider – shows us how the radical shift in the Supreme Court starting with the 1976 Buckley decision has turned America from a democracy into an oligarchy.  Even former President Jimmy Carter came onto my radio/TV program in 2015 to proclaim it:

HARTMANN: Our Supreme Court has now said, “unlimited money in politics.” It seems like a violation of principles of democracy. Your thoughts on that?

CARTER: It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.

The most effective way to solve this problem is to pass a constitutional amendment that will proclaim, clearly and unambiguously, that corporations are not persons and that money is not “free speech.”  Groups like MoveToAmend.org and Public Citizen have been working on these campaigns for years, and they’re bearing fruit.

Once the power of money is stripped from our political system, the power of gun manufacturers through the NRA will largely evaporate.

During the years I lived and worked in DC, several Republican politicians confided in me – off the record – that they would love to be out of the clutches of their wealthy donors.  And that they’d quickly vote with Democrats to get free of the need to fundraise for hours every day.  This could easily become bipartisan quickly, with the right leadership.

The NRA’s essentially outright purchase of senators like Richard Burr ($6.3 million in 2016), Marco Rubio ($3.2 million in 2016), Roy Blunt ($3 million), and Rob Portman ($2.2 million) – and Donald Trump ($30 million in the presidential race) – is so obviously corrupt to many of the students in Parkland that they’re furious.

We should all share their anger, and use it to fight to amend our Constitution to undo the damage these oligarchs and their toadies on the Supreme Court have done to our republic.

By Thom Hartmann/AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

The Life of the Party: 7 Truths for Democrats

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The ongoing contest between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wings of the Democratic Party continues to divide Democrats. It’s urgent Democrats stop squabbling and recognize seven basic truths…

1. The Party is on life support. Democrats are in the minority in both the House and Senate, with no end in sight. Since the start of the Obama Administration they’ve lost 1,034 state and federal seats. They hold only 16 governorships, and face 32 state legislatures fully under GOP control. No one speaks for the party as a whole. The Party’s top leaders are aging, and the back bench is thin.

More from Robert Reich

Posted by Libergirl who says the Dems are NOT going to wake up…. bunch of corporate whores!

That time when Clinton refused to drop out of the race because Obama could be assassinated

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Image: Raw Story

 

Call me sentimental but I’m a sucker for anniversaries. Take, for example, May 23 2008, when then Senator Hillary Clinton was asked if she was going to drop out of the primary race, given the Senator Barack Obama’s lead in delegates. During an interview with the editorial board of the South Dakota newspaper The Argus Leader Clinton expressed frustration with the way she was being pressured to suspend her campaign. I should add that I don’t find this part of her response inappropriate:

I don’t know I don’t know I find it curious because it is unprecedented in history. I don’t understand it and between my opponent and his camp and some in the media, there has been this urgency to end this and you know historically that makes no sense, so I find it a bit of a mystery.

But things took a turn for the worse when the editorial board asked, “You don’t buy the party unity argument?” to which she responded:

I don’t, because again, I’ve been around long enough. You know my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere around the middle of June. We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. Um you know I just I don’t understand it. There’s lots of speculation about why it is

More from the Raw Story

Posted by the NON-Conformist

Good Grief – Glenn Beck Today: Ted Cruz is “The Mormon Prophecy” Sent To Save The World from the “last of days”…

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Image: nevadastatepersonnelwatch

Reblogged on WordPress.com

This isn’t the first time Glenn Beck has said his blessed candidate was the representative image and embodiment of his lord and savior who has arrived to save the world.   Beck also isn’t the only one who believes it.  Ted’s father has said something similar when he proclaimed “Ted was anointed to take control of society“.

Previously Glenn Beck proclaimed that God killed Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to insure Ted Cruz wins the republican nomination.  Today Beck proclaimed the “end of days”, and Senator Cruz as the prophecy fulfilled.

Source: Good Grief – Glenn Beck Today: Ted Cruz is “The Mormon Prophecy” Sent To Save The World from the “last of days”…

Posted by Libergirl

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