Apr 18, 2013

Gabrielle Giffords blasts senate Republicans for filibuster of gun safety bill

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords wrote a scathing op-ed in the New York Times on Thursday, after Republicans in the senate successfully filibustered new gun safety legislation.

Giffords wrote: “I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.”

Just days ago, it looked as though senate Democrats had the votes to overcome the GOP filibuster on gun buyer background checks. But hopes for action died on Wednesday when there were only 54 votes in favor of the bill, 6 votes shy of the 60 needed to break the filibuster.

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Recommended links:

GOP lawmakers defend NRA after massacre of 20 children

Wayne LaPierre: Guns are for Armageddon and 'fun'

Gun control wars: Is the Sandy Hook massacre enough to fight the NRA?

How Bible-thumping works for the Republican propaganda machine


Apr 12, 2013

Income inequality may be here to stay

Once an animal knows what it’s like to run free, it’s never happy to be tied up again.

That pretty much sums up the problem America faces when it comes to the growing wealth of the wealthy and the shrinking middle-class.

Former president Ronald Reagan began lengthening the leash of corporate America more than 3 decades ago. The most notable event is perhaps the breaking of the air traffic controllers union. The message sent was clear. Workers’ rights matter less than corporate profits.

So it began and so it continued with the presidents that followed.

Bill Clinton got rid of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, a law that kept commercial banks from using depositors’ funds for risky investments.

George W. Bush came in behind Clinton and cut even more of corporate America’s leash. Bush added a cookie on top, with two massive tax cuts that made the rich even richer, and ultimately exploded the US federal deficit.

In the years following multiple levels of deregulation on corporate America, income inequality has spread like a disease. Low wages and lack of opportunity are now trapping more than 50 million Americans in poverty.

When Barack Obama took office in 2009, he did little to repair what the previous administration had done to damage the middle-class. Although he was successful in lifting the Bush tax cuts on higher income Americans in 2013, it hasn’t changed the fundamentals of the economic disparity.

The Daily Beast notes, “Our national conversation now is dominated by the voices of the small, thriving minority…Perhaps the economy has been bad enough for long enough that its expiration date for news has expired, one more sign this terrible reality is the New Normal.”

To say that the rich have the American economic system rigged may be an understatement. In the 2009 documentary, “Capitalism, A Love Story,” award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore explains how to the collapse of the U.S. economy, brought on by  deregulated Wall Street greed, was a “financial coup d’├ętat.”

Looking back at the taxpayer bailouts of America’s banking industry, it’s hard to refute Moore’s claims. The big winners in the years following the TARP bailouts have been the banks. JPMorgan and Wells Fargo, along with the rest America’s biggest banks, continue to post record profits.

The New York Times points out just how bad income inequality has gotten in the U.S.
“NEW statistics show an ever-more-startling divergence between the fortunes of the wealthy and everybody else….. 
In 2010, as the nation continued to recover from the recession, a dizzying 93 percent of the additional income created in the country that year…went to the top 1 percent.”
Yet for American workers, opportunities for upward mobility continue to sink. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report issued on March 28, 2013, there are more jobs available in the U.S., but “average weekly wages declined.”

Apr 6, 2013

GOP Voter suppression laws growing at frightening pace

Voter suppression efforts led by Republican-controlled state legislatures are accelerating in the wake of  their 2012 GOP election losses. 

Some of the new laws require voter ID, but others involve financial penalties, like North Carolina Senate Bill S666, which among additional constitutionally illegal restrictions, eliminates tax deductions for the parents of students who register to vote. 

Indiana has also introduced a law aimed at banning college students from voting.
As in North Carolina, Indiana House Bill 1311 is in direct violation of the 1979 Supreme Court decision in Symm v. United States, which prohibits discrimination against college student voting rights.

New barriers to voting targeted at specific groups of people have become top priorities for Republican lawmakers in Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, Arizona, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Michigan, Idaho, South Dakota, Ohio, Nebraska, Maine, and dozens of other states.

Why are the Republicans in these states so worried about letting too many people vote without additional new restrictions? 

The most significant motivation for voter suppression relates to what Republicans have already done in states where they have a veto-proof monopoly of power. 

Many of the new policies solid “red state” lawmakers have enacted are broadly unpopular among Independents, Democrats, low income groups, seniors, students, Latinos, women, and disabled veterans. If Republicans can successfully block access to voting among these groups, they can escape viable threats to their reelection bids. This strategy combines election rigging with the destabilization of representative government law.

Why Americans need to be terrified of the Radical Republican Party
Gerrymandered redistricting  after the 2010 elections has made Republican lawmakers unresponsive to public objections to their drastic new policies. With no fear of backlash from the voting booth, the GOP has dictatorship-level control.

Drunk with power, solid Republican legislatures have been promoting laws that ignore or attempt to dismantle the US Constitution.

As recently as last week, the Arkansas Senate voted to reject the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.

In the 2013-2014 session, 15 North Carolina Senate Republicans co-sponsored House Joint Resolution 494, which attempts to establish an official state religion. 

Such a law is a direct violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The  Bill of Rights  states that the government shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Is it even possible that such a large group of elected lawmakers do not know what’s in the Bill of Rights?

In Michigan, Republican Governor Rick Snyder, with the help of his GOP majority state legislators, created an “emergency manager” law in 2011 that gave the governor the power to completely eliminate representative democracy.

Emergency managers have since been used to strip cities and towns of their democratically elected officials in places including Benton Harbor, Detroit, and other cities. The unelected czar as unlimited power to break contracts, sell assets, and even dissolve the entire local government permanently if they so choose. 

A month after Michigan voters rejected the emergency manager law on the 2012 ballot, Gov. Snyder created it again and signed it into law. This time it included a provision to prevent voters from ever putting it on the ballot again.

If you think any of this sounds more like dictatorship than democracy, you are correct. 

By definition, a dictatorship is: 

A form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations. 

The term dictatorship comes from the Latin title dictator, which in the Roman Republic designated a temporary magistrate who was granted extraordinary powers in order to deal with state crises.”

Add together gerrymandering, attempts to overrule the Bill of Rights, blatant disregard for election results, plus voter suppression efforts spreading on a frightening scale, and it is impossible to dismiss the obvious. 

Republican states with majority control are carrying out an orchestrated assault on the founding principles of American democracy, freedom, and the documents that have bound them together for more than 250 years.

Sources and more info:

ACLU of Iowa Restarts Its Voter Suppression Lawsuit Against the Iowa Secretary of State

Sharpton Group Sues Against Michigan Emergency Management

Top North Carolina Republican Introduces Florida-Style Voter Suppression Bill

Apr 4, 2013

GOP voter suppression bill taxes familes of college students who vote

If you are a parent with a child in college, you may have to pay up to $2500 more in taxes if your child registers to vote.

North Carolina Republicans introduced Senate Bill 666 and 667 on Tuesday, both of which are designed to suppress voting by college students.
The new laws would only apply to parents and students who register to vote.

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