Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

The following news stories actually make me not only wonder if our species will survive for much longer but also if we deserve to survive our own stupidity and neglect.

  • The City of Detroit found 11,000 rape kits that were abandoned and never tested.  After testing less than 7% of them they identified 100 serial rapists and 10 convicted rapists.  So if that pattern holds and they test the rest of them, they can expect to discover several hundred more of these scumbag.  ht mistermix at Balloon Juice
  • The AZ legislature is pushing a bill that would allow people to carry guns into building even if it’s forbidden (if they don’t have lockers available you can ignore the ban).  They’ve also advanced the idea that some gun owners can carry even if there are lockers and ban.  And to make it truly impossible for local governments to forbid guns in their government buildings, they’ve approved and forwarded a bill that says any local government who enforces local ordinance over state law can be fined.  This is like the trifecta of stupid.  They’re begging for someone to go into government buildings and commit mass murder.  I certainly will be avoiding those buildings like the plague if this crap passes.  ht JM Ashby at Bob Cesca
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, back when he was a prosecutor, let a child slaver off easy so that he could take down a political rival.
  • Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, told a woman that having cancer was her own fault for not forgiving her abusive father.  Okaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy
  • A new law went into effect in Michigan that says businesses and individuals who purchase private insurance must take out a separate rider to cover abortion care.  Essentially, if a woman needs an abortion for ANY reason and if she doesn’t have  a separate rider for it, she will have to pay out of pocket for the cost of that care.  So if I lived there, had a miscarriage and needed a D&C to shorten the process  and suffering so I could get back on my feet sooner, I would have to pay completely out of pocket for it.  Likewise for women who have become pregnant as a result of incest and rape.  That’s insane.  The real kicker is that there is not a single private insurance provider in the marketplace that provides this insurance.  This could not only bankrupt women and their families, it in effect nullifies Roe v. Wade, and will force women to seek out cheaper and more dangerous care for such things.  I hope the women in Michigan enjoy being second class citizens because it looks like the state is on target to vote the same politicians who’ve created these laws back into office.
  • Billionaires in the 1% are getting their panties in a twist and crying lots of salty tears because the rest of us are tired of having the economy manipulated while they gamble with our money and take what little wealth Americans have managed to accumulate over the last few decades.  The 99% have had the temerity to exercise their Freedom of Speech and the Right to Vote in more progressive candidates.  However, so far as I know there have been no lynch mobs or guillotine lines nor any proposed by anyone of significance in any “likely to happen” fashion.  The 99% are simply using the peaceful system of governance and the wonderful mechanisms given to us by the Founding Fathers.  However, reading some of the recent comments by the 1% (here’s a few examples here and here) might make one think that we are in the midst of a communist peasant uprising (or fascist style takeover depending on which historical example they erroneously choose).  Truth is, if we were in such a state, their heads would already be on pikes.  In reality nothing is happening to them and that’s the stupid thing.  We should be curtailing their almost godlike power over our economy and our elected officials. Their message gets broadcast loud and clear.  We hear about their perspective 24/7 on Fox News, read their whining on major websites and news sources (in addition to reading about their phenomenally ignorant take on history), and suffer under the vagaries of the worldwide economy which they essentially control.  As Jon Stewart said the other day, they make money regardless of how the economy fares.  So why should they give a crap about us? They don’t and the majority of Americans haven’t yet grasped this fact and what it will mean for this country, and indeed the world, in the long run.  Until Americans decide to stand up and pull up our pants, they’ll be back there having their way with us and complaining that its hard, nay dangerous, to be a billionaire.

From the land of the truly nuts:

  • As I said in a post the other day national focus has turned to AZ again primarily due to Senator McCan’t and his Border charades.  The Senator’s antics were no doubt timed to coincide not only with the state GOP’s vote of no confidence, but also to the appointment of the newest Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, who has only been in office since Dec. 23, 2013.  Sec. Johnson is getting familiarized with the gargantuan task of running such a massive department, so it must be the perfect time for Sen. McCain to start hammering said department on the efficiency and effectiveness of their border security program.  Sec. Johnson will be visiting the Tucson sector of the Arizona border with Mexico this week.  Let’s hope the press leaves him alone so he can get to work sooner rather than later…although if Sen. McCain has his way, Johnson will be hounded every step of the way, I’m sure.
  • Since it is MLK Day, there will be lots of stories about his legacy such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is fitting.  It should also be a day to remember that the fight for those Rights did not end in 1965 and recently has heated up.  Just this past year, a US Supreme Court case gutted the law, so states like Arizona went right back to their old shenanigans.  Since then States controlled by Republican governors and/or legislatures been involved in attempts to limit access to polling stations, remove methods of voting, and limit who can vote (mainly using new Voter ID laws or outright removing people from the state’s registration lists).  Of  course, these all target traditionally Democratic voters like African Americans, Native Americans, the urban poor, women and the young.  Today, of all days, we must remember that we’re still in the ring and the other side is throwing a lot of unanswered punches.
  • Another inmate has died in a Maricopa County jail under Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reign.   Even though the MCSO is being monitored by the U.S. District Court (because of the pattern of abuses and unethical behavior spotlighted in the Melendres v. Arpaio Civil Rights case), I doubt anything will come from this latest death investigation. After all, who cares about another dead inmate—except their family of course.  They’ll get paid off like they always do and Maricopa County residents will forget and re-elect Arpaio yet again .
  • The incredibly stupid bill to allow people to carry weapons on school campuses is being proposed in the AZ State Legislature again.  It failed to even reach committee last year so let’s hope it suffers a similar fate this time as well.

It’s not all confetti and party hats this week. The Supreme Court also decided to get rid of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This act required that nine states get pre-approval from the Department of Justice before implementing any voting changes because those states had a history of making changes in voting laws for the express purpose of minimizing the ability of minorities and the poor to vote. Now that pre-approval requirement is gone and boy are Conservatives happy. Of course, Arizona happened to be one of those places (emphasis in the following quote is mine).

In one of the strongest statements welcoming the decision, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said the law requiring federal approval of voting changes “humiliates Arizona by making it say ‘Mother may I’ to the federal government every time it wants to change some remarkably minor laws.”

Ummm, voting is not a “minor law”. It’s a big fucking deal. In fact, it is one of the BIGGEST reasons we live in a free country today. To someone like me, someone who doesn’t have health care and keeps getting turned down, my vote for President Obama meant something very concrete and important. I will be able to get healthcare in 2014 and the insurance companies can’t turn me down. It is very likely that having insurance may save my life at some point in the future (I’m not getting any younger). That’s a BIG fucking deal and my vote helped to make that happen. So please Atty. General Horne sit down and STFU.

Thankfully, it doesn’t mean that states still get to do whatever they want. State laws can still be challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional–Arizona had it’s new voter ID law overturned on a vote of 7-2 by the Supreme Court just last week. The bad part is that judicial oversight happens AFTER the law has passed and done it’s damage. This is all conservative preparation for the 2016 Presidential Race. If they can’t win fair and square, it’s become apparent they’re willing to violate the foundation of democracy in order to tip the scales.

Once again Arizona, land of few taxes and no services, has spent a ton of money and time defending yet another unconstitutional law. The notoriously right leaning Supreme Court struck down Arizona’s Prop 200 Voter ID law by a vote of 7-2.  Their reasoning was, to put it simply, that the Arizona law interfered with Federal Law.

Essentially, a 1993 Federal Law established a uniform procedure for voter registration for all 50 states that said anyone who swore an oath that they were a U.S. citizen under penalty of perjury and signed that oath could be registered to vote.  The Arizona law entitled, “Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act,” required anyone without a driver’s license to provide proof of citizenship via a birth certificate or passport.  I’ve discussed this many times before.  Just because you have a driver’s license doesn’t mean you’re a citizen and many citizens don’t drive and therefore don’t even have a driver’s license. Furthermore, getting a copy of a birth certificate is not as easy as it sounds for many people, it costs money, and it takes quite a bit of time. All of this is true for passports.  Study after study after study have shown that this kind of voter ID law ends up causing less voter turn out among the following kinds of citizens:  the elderly, urban non-driving residents, and the lower socioeconomic classes (in which minorities tend to be disproportionately  represented and they tend to vote Democratic).

For many years after 1993, that signed oath was deemed sufficient until the 2000 Presidential election.  You remember the “hanging chad” debacle and how the Supreme Court handed the Presidency to George W. Bush on a platter after a suspicious vote recount in the State of Florida.  The irony is that conservatives won that round but came out of the process thinking that if they can rig the process, then the liberals will try to do it too.  Except the liberals didn’t.  The 1993 law remained in place and not a whole lot changed EXCEPT for many states willingly adopting early, mail-in ballots which everyone agreed helped increase voter turn out and saved people time and money.

Still, there were calls for investigations by conservatives who insisted it was happening.  The story that Mickey Mouse registered to vote will live in infamy regardless of how false it is.  So investigations were completed during the Bush tenure and they found so few incidents of voter fraud that it was something like less than one one hundredths of a percentage.   And of the fraud found, all of the perpetrators had been caught and prosecuted trying to vote in more than one polling location AND their vote didn’t count.  In a country of 350 million people that low of a violation right is a testament to how sacred we hold the right to vote.  It’s damn important and we treat it so.

Still conservatives pushed the idea that fraud was happening because it scares their base and that motivates them to get out and vote.   That kind of fear mongering always seems to work on a certain percentage of any population and it worked here.  Combined with a lot of dog whistles during the 2008 Presidential campaign, fear of voting fraud reached a fever pitch.  So when President Obama won that election, it was all the proof they needed.  Why they couldn’t fathom that millions of white people like me would vote for a brown person like him, is beyond my understanding.

In any case, the result was a rash of new state laws to control the voting process and voter ID laws like Arizona’s Prop 200.  There have been other laws attempting to limit the hours of voting locations, to limit or entirely eliminate early voting opportunities (Think it was Ohio that tried to say that only military families had the right to vote via early ballot), and to purge voter lists based on how foreign someone’s name sounds (FL, I’m looking at you).  When they couldn’t get a law passed or couldn’t get it passed fast enough to affect an election, particularly the 2012 Presidential election, they tried a more hands-on method of imposing themselves at polling stations and attempting to be the guardians of the ballot box.  Thankfully this kind of behavior simply motivated liberals all the more and alienated quite a few moderates.

In any case, the Supreme Court finally made a good decision based on sound principle.   Federal law is the supreme law of the land and the states cannot pass a law that is stricter than the Federal law.  So what’s next?  How will they try to destroy the voting process?  Because make no mistake about it, they’re trying to steal elections.  They’ve succeeded in gerrymandering congressional districts and we won’t be able to reverse that for another decade or more.    The last thing I heard was an attempt to split up electoral votes based on those same biased congressional districts in states like Pennsylvania and Virginia.   Gird your loins folks, we got work to do.

Other Sources:

https://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/this-is-how-democracy-dies/

A bill passed by the AZ legislature would have defunded Planned Parenthood and was signed into law by Gov. Jan “I had leather grafted onto my face” Brewer in May 2012.  The state in its infinite wisdom decided that the fact that Planned Parenthood services MIGHT go to cover abortions so the state could disqualify them as being able to provide services to the poor and be reimbursed by Medicaid.

Under HB 2800, an estimated 3,000 Medicaid recipients in Arizona who currently receive contraception and other preventative care at their local Planned Parenthood clinic would no longer be eligible for services there.

A Federal Judge blocked the law saying “that Medicaid recipients have the right to choose between the full range of qualified providers ‘without government interference.'” and it wasn’t the state’s job to determine if the organization was qualified to receive Medicare funds. This case will help in the same fight over laws passed in Texas and Oklahoma.