Voters in eight states go to the polls today with the main event focused on California where voters choose the top two candidates, regardless of party, who will face off in November. Californians call it the “jungle primary” which was instituted back when Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, was governor. Arnold thought that it would bring …
Aug 31 2016
2016 Primaries: State and Local
Bet you thought the silly season ended with the last presidential primary. Wrong. It just continues at the state and local levels. Yesterday Arizona and Florida held theirs. Here are some the more notable results. Arizona: Republican Sen. John McCain has also won the primary race for his Senate seat. His main opponent in this …
Jul 25 2014
The Death Penalty: When Do We End State Sponsored Barbarism?
In the barbaric custom of using secret drugs to execute prisoners, the state of Arizona botched another state sponsored murder taking nearly two hours for convicted murder Joseph R. Wood III to die.
In another unexpectedly prolonged execution using disputed lethal injection drugs, a condemned Arizona prisoner on Wednesday repeatedly gasped for one hour and 40 minutes, according to witnesses, before dying at an Arizona state prison.
At 1:52 p.m. Wednesday, one day after the United States Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution granted by a federal appeals court last Saturday, the execution of Joseph R. Wood III commenced.
But what would normally be a 10- to 15-minute procedure dragged on for nearly two hours, as Mr. Wood appeared repeatedly to gasp, according to witnesses including reporters and one of his federal defenders, Dale Baich. [..]
Arizona officials said they were using the same sedative that was used in Oklahoma, midazolam, together with a different second drug, hydromorphone, a combination that has been used previously in Ohio. Similar problems were reported in the execution in Ohio in January of Dennis McGuire, using the same two drugs. He reportedly gasped as the procedure took longer than expected.
Capital punishment by lethal injection has been thrown into turmoil as the supplies of traditionally used barbiturates have dried up, in part because companies are unwilling to manufacture and sell them for this purpose.
A court order was issued to preserve Mr. Wood’s body and anything that was used during the execution. The medical examiner was also ordered to take blood and tissue samples by 11 PM last night but he refused to comply with the deadline.
While Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) has ordered the State Department of Corrections to review the execution, Mr. Wood’s attorneys have called for an independent inquiry:
“There has to be a thorough and independent review of what happened here and the Arizona execution protocol,” Dale Baich, a member of Wood’s legal team, told the Guardian.
Wood’s death reignites controversies about state secrecy and the suitability of drugs used to execute prisoners. It was the third time this year that a lethal injection procedure has gone wrong, following problems in Ohio and Oklahoma. [..]
“We were concerned that the mixture of midazolam and hydromorphone had only been used in one prior execution and that did not turn out well, so we were very concerned about that and that’s why we asked as one of our requests: how did the state come up with the formula that it was using?” Baich said.
This is an experiment by people who have no clue about what they are doing and is barbaric. It just needs to stop.
Mar 09 2014
Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert
The gay-stream media compares Arizona’s refusal of service bill to Jim Crow laws, but Rep. Steve King argues that “self-professed behavior” doesn’t qualify for civil rights
Jun 26 2012
SCOTUS Ruling Limited Free Speech
The latest session of the US Supreme Court is coming to a close with several decisions handed down since last Thursday, that peaked today with several rulings handed down. The “grand finale” will be this Thursday when the court announces its decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The media has been focused mostly on today’s ruling that gutted three quarters of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, S.B. 1070. The overturn of a 100-year-old Montana state law that banned corporations in that state from spending any of their corporate cash to support or oppose a candidate or a political party and the ruling that struck out any requirement that life without parole be the mandatory penalty for murder by a minor got second and third billing.
What the media chose to ignore was last Thursday’s 5 -4 decision in Knox v. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that dealt a blow against public sector labor unions and in favor of employees who are represented by a union but are not members:
The case has three holdings: (1) When a public-sector union imposes a special assessment or dues increase, the union must provide a fresh Hudson notice (the Court’s vote on this issue was seven to two); (2) the union cannot require nonmembers to pay the increased amount unless they opt in by affirmatively consenting (vote of five to four); and (3) the case was not rendered moot by the union’s post-certiorari offer of a full refund (unanimous).
So what you say? Why is this an important ruling? It’s important because it requires Unions to do something that corporations aren’t. It requires unions to get permission from their non-members, who pay fees so they are covered by SEIU-negotiated contracts, before that money can be used for political spending. Instead of the traditional “opt-out”, the now have to “opt-in.” Corporations are not required to get share holders permission to spend millions on a political campaign. This could significantly impact on labor’s ability to fight back against corporations in the political arena. It restricts the union’s First Amendment rights to spend unlimited amounts under the 2010 Citizens United ruling:
“The court’s opinion makes clear its displeasure with 60 years of precedent on the dues issue, which have placed the burden on employees who object (to political spending) to opt out,” said William Gould, who from 1994 to 1998 chaired the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that governs labor relations in the private sector. “This decision is an invitation to litigate this issue.”
Although the Knox case involved special assessments on non-union members, Gould said, the Supreme Court’s reasoning suggests that it could be applied to all union dues that fund political spending paid by non-members. The next time that a union goes through the standard process of notifying non-members they have the ability to opt out, the union may well be met with a legal challenge, warned Gould. “(This decision) indicates that if these five (justices) are there when these cases come back to the Court, that the Court will decide these cases adversely to unions,” he said.
That thought has the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, and similar groups celebrating — and labor advocates fearing the worst.
Patrick Semmens, vice president of the foundation, said via email that while some justices have used similar language in the past, the Knox decision confirms that now a majority believe “compulsory unionism” is a violation of First Amendment rights.
SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina pointed out that while this complicates matters for unions it is “doable”. But he also noted that this decision was one sided in that “There is nothing in this [Knox] decision that even speaks to the question of shareholders, or corporations having to tell shareholders about any of the contributions they make, [..] “The language, to me, signals what has been the rightward drift of the Supreme Court … Now they’ve come up with a decision to make it more difficult for workers to be able to effectively participate in the [political] process.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and her guest, legal correspondent and senior editor for Slate Dahlia Litwick discussed all of these rulings with emphasis on the Knox ruling.
As was expressed in it opinion on June 23, the New York Times rightly noted:
The conservative majority strode into the center of the bitter debate about right-to-work laws preventing unions in 23 states from requiring nonmembers to pay any union expenses, including those supporting collective bargaining that benefits nonmembers. It used this narrow case to insert itself into that political controversy when there was no reason to do so.
Jun 27 2011
SCOTUS Strikes Down AZ Campaign Finance
Once again the corporate owned, conservative Supreme Court has struck down the 1998 Arizona Campaign Finance Law provided escalating matching funds to candidates who accept public financing. How the Roberts’ court decided that law violates the First Amendment rights of these corporation is truly a backbreaking twist if logic and the constitution.
The vote was again 5-to-4, with the same five justices in the majority as in the Citizens United decision. The majority’s rationale was that the law violated the First Amendment rights of candidates who raise private money. Such candidates, the majority said, may be reluctant to spend money to speak if they know that it will give rise to counter-speech paid for by the government.
“Laws like Arizona’s matching funds provision that inhibit robust and wide-open political debate without sufficient justification cannot stand,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. Justice Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined the majority opinion.
What about the under funded candidate’s right to be heard under the First amendment? The reason for the law, which was written after a corruption scandals rocked the state’s election financing during the 90’s, was to foster free speech:
The idea was to encourage candidates to forgo the scramble for money, with all its inherent invitations to corruption — to spend more time speaking to the electorate, and less time speaking to potential funders.
In that sense, its goal was very much to increase genuine political speech. But to the Roberts court, money as speech takes precedence over speech as speech.
The court’s majority clearly telegraphed its antipathy to the Arizona provision during oral arguments in March. The only real suspense was whether they would go further, and use the case to cast doubt on public financing generally.
So there was a sense of relief in the good-government community Monday.
“This is not the death knell of public financing. This ruling affects only one mechanism of public financing, and there are numerous ways to fix it,” said Common Cause president Bob Edgar in a statement. “Today, in the wake of Citizens United, it is more critical than ever that we change the way we pay for our elections by moving to a small donor system that gives the public a voice back in our government. Nothing short of our democracy is at stake.”
Well, thank these corporate shill justice for that.
The dissent written by Justice Elena Kagan, which was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, said that the Arizona law protected the First Amendment by promoting more speech and less corruption. It is not just a scorching criticism of the majority but an indictment of their own corruption:
Justice Elena Kagan on Monday began her blistering minority dissent with a morality play comparing two states. One of them limits itself to what is essentially current federal campaign finance law — and “remains afflicted with corruption.” The other tries to create a robust public-financing regime — and rids itself of corruption. The majority, Kagan writes, has taken the side of corruption.:
A person familiar with our country’s core values — our devotion to democratic self-governance, as well as to “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open” debate, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254, 270 (1964) — might expect this Court to celebrate, or at least not to interfere with, the second State’s success. But today, the majority holds that the second State’s system — the system that produces honest government, working on behalf of all the people — clashes with our Constitution. The First Amendment, the majority insists, requires us all to rely on the measures employed in the first State, even when they have failed to break the stranglehold of special interests on elected officials.
I disagree. The First Amendment’s core purpose is to foster a healthy, vibrant political system full of robust discussion and debate. Nothing in Arizona’s anticorruption statute, the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act, violates this constitutional protection. To the contrary, the Act promotes the values underlying both the First Amendment and our entire Constitution by enhancing the “opportunity for free political discussion to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people.” I therefore respectfully dissent.
After the recent rulings that have sided with corporations this ruling comes as no surprise.
h/t to David Dayen for further reading on this decision at The Brennan Center for Justice
Apr 16 2011
Arizona to the President: Show Us Your Papers
Constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley was a guest on Lawrence O’Donnell’s “Last Word” to discuss the constitutionality of the law passed by the Republican controlled Arizona state legislature, HB 2177. The bill would require every Presidential candidate to provide a so-called “long form” birth certificate. In the absence of a “long form” birth certificate that includes at least the date and place of birth, the names of the candidate’s mother and father, including information sufficient to determine the citizenship of both parents, the names of the hospital and the attending physician, if applicable, and signatures of any witnesses in attendance. The state would accept such things as a combination of baptismal or circumcision records, hospital birth files, postpartum medical records or other documents that are evidentiary of someone’s birth in the United States. If there continues to be a dispute, it will be up to the Arizona Secretary of State to make the call.
In other words, it rejects the “Certificate of Live Birth” issued by Hawaii to all its citizens born there and any other state that issues a COLB which may very well be unconstitutional under a number of clauses, amendments and court rulings. Under Article IV, section one of the US constitution, known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause, states are required to give full faith and credit to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. This includes accepting as genuine records from a sister state that have been officially certified under seal from the appropriate record keeper. The Arizona law is a clear violation of that clause.
Then there are a couple of Amendments, namely the 12th and 20th which would preempt any state law on this subject:
The 12th Amendment states:
The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following [changed to January 20th by 20th Amendment], then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.
And the 20th Amendment which says:
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
The implication of this is that the issue of Presidential qualification is one that solely belongs to the Electoral College and Congress. The states play no role at all.
The US Supreme Court has also put limitations on what the states can make a ballot qualification when it comes to Federal offices. In U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton
…the states cannot impose requirements for federal office holders beyond those set forth in the Constitution. This would include the requirement that a candidate provide proof of his eligibility beyond the affidavit which every state requires a candidate or his representative to sign.
Despite all the denials that this bill is not about President Obama, it is fairly clear that the bill is precisely aimed at the ridiculous claims made about Obama’s place of birth.
Jan 12 2011
The Arizona Death Panel: Death by Budget Cuts
Last March, the Republican controlled Arizona State Legislature cut $1.4 million from state’s Medicaid program – Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) – cutting off urgent transplant funding that was previously promised to 98 Arizonans. Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who advocated for the cuts, has blamed those cuts on “Obamacare” even though the bill had not even been signed into law at the time the cuts were made. The cuts have attracted the attention of the foreign media. When Brewer was asked by Britain’s Channel 4 News Washington correspondent Sarah Smith “how many people would die” before she restored the funding Brewer quipped, “if people are so worried about the transplant patients, then they should ask the federal government in Washington to send us more money”. Brewer has yet to explain what she did with the $200 million that Arizona received in stimulus funds. Maybe Darrell Issa would like to investigate that.
Since the cuts went into effect two of those patients now have died. The “Brewer Death List” is now down to 96.
In late November, Mark Price, an Arizona father who had been battling leukemia for a year, died due to complications related to chemotherapy treatment he was receiving. Price was awaiting an organ transplant that could’ve saved his life, but he was unable to receive one in time due to Brewer’s budget cuts.
Now, the University of Arizona Medical Center has told the press that another patient passed away in late December because they were unable to get their organ transplant funded. Although the attending physicians declined to release the name of the patient out of respect for the family’s privacy, they confirmed that the patient that passed away was one of the 98 Arizonans cut off from organ transplants by Brewer and the GOP-controlled state legislature. He “was our patient. He was on our list,” said surgery department spokeswoman Jo Marie Gellerman.
Not all Republicans are as heartless as Gov. Brewer and the legislature. An Illinois State GOP Central Committeeman, Steven Daglas, working with others found solutions to restoring the funding, one from a $2 million AIG settlement or transferring $1.2 million from a now defunct plan to build bridges for endangered squirrels (No, I did not make that up) or using a portion of unclaimed lottery player prize winnings, roughly $6 million annually.. However, Daglas has heard nothing but silence from Brewer’s office
Since early last month, Daglas and those with whom he is working have been reaching out to the governor and her staff with the ideas. Among other things, they sent a letter that required a signature confirmation so they knew the information was getting through.
But they haven’t heard back.
“We’re worried that maybe her office is thinking that we’re offering these ideas as a way to attack her or make her look bad, and that isn’t it at all,” Daglas said. “I’m a Republican guy from Illinois. We have plenty of problems up here. We’re just concerned about these transplant patients and want to help. We have provided detailed information about the suggestions, the statutes, the original sources and so on.”
Daglas and five of the families of the patients from the transplant list have launched a web site, Arizona98.com, The website lists 26 possible ways that Arizona can shift funding in order to pay for the transplant procedures without having to raise any additional revenue.
On “Countdown”, Keith Olbermann discussed these cuts and revealed that one those whose life is threatened by these cuts is the great granddaughter of Franklin Roosevelt. As Arizona mourns one senseless tragedy, who will stop another one?
Aug 04 2010
The Week in Editorial Cartoons (Part I) – Dropping the Ball
Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma
Due to the unusually high number of editorial cartoons published over the past week or so (I literally have another 300+ cartoons saved), I’m going to try and post another edition of this diary by Friday, August 6th. It something I’ve never done before.
Jul 17 2010
Arizona: Neo Nazis Patrol Border
Is it chickens or is it eggs? Is it that Governor Brewer’s immigration extremism gives cover to Nazis? Or is it that Neo Nazis give cover to the ugliness that is SB 1070? Is it that Joe Apraio was thought to be as extreme as anyone could be, but people have emerged in Arizona who are even further beyond the Pale?
This from AP:
Minutemen groups, a surge in Border Patrol agents, and a tough new immigration law aren’t enough for a reputed neo-Nazi who’s now leading a militia in the Arizona desert.
Jason “J.T.” Ready is taking matters into his own hands, declaring war on “narco-terrorists” and keeping an eye out for illegal immigrants….
But local law enforcement are nervous given that Ready’s group is heavily armed and identifies with the National Socialist Movement, an organization that believes only non-Jewish, white heterosexuals should be American citizens and that everyone who isn’t white should leave the country “peacefully or by force.”…snip
But Ready, a 37-year-old ex-Marine, ,,, and his friends are outfitted with military fatigues, body armor and gas masks, and carry assault rifles. Ready takes offense at the term “neo-Nazi,” but admits he identifies with the National Socialist Movement.
“These are explicit Nazis,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. “These are people who wear swastikas on their sleeves.”
And so, today, running around in the desert where it’s dangerously hot are a bunch of heavily armed Nazis. And Sheriff Arpaio continues to humiliate immigrants while failing to prevent crime. And the Governor of Arizona continues to insist that SB1070 is not preempted. And not racist. And a waste of money.
My revulsion overflows. I’m not advocating violence. I’m just noticing the strong, negative feelings all of these creeps evoke. I hope that the people of Arizona will find a way to be free of these demagogues.
simulposted at The Dream Antilles and docuDharma and dailyKos