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 …
May 25 2017
Update 5/26/2017 01:00 ET Greg Gianforte (R) has been declared the winner of the Montana at-large House seat. Update 20:55 ET: The polls on Montana closed at 10 PM ET. Early results have a very close race with Gianforte with a slight lead 48.3% t0 46% for Quist. Keep in mind most of these votes …
Dec 08 2012
Somewhere along the line the concept of equality has become muddled. We can certainly see that in deliberations around North America in the past week.
In Boise, ID, Helena, MT, East Aurora, IL and Canada we have seen what happens when the public chooses to consider the equality of minority people…especially those of us in minorities that most people don’t know much about, don’t want to know much about and generally detest anyway.
The idea that giving us equal protection under the law will endanger other people because a third set of people might take advantage of our protections is just ludicrous. It’s like saying that disabled people shouldn’t have protections because able-bodied people might use their set-aside parking spaces.
Jun 27 2012
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.
Apr 18 2011
If your view of politics is filtered by a lens marked “Progressive” or “Liberal”, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve been gnashing your teeth and pulling your hair in frustration over the “give away the store, then negotiate” approach professional Democrats have used when facing the challenges from the Tea Party last year, and all that’s come after.
Over and over and over people like me have written stories wondering why Democrats, starting with this President, don’t get out in a very public way and slam Republican policies, over and over and over-especially when most Americans hate the things Republicans seem to love to support.
Turning over Government to the highest bidder?
Not so popular.
Going back to a heathcare system run by, for, and of the insurance industry?
Again, not so much.
Jacking up taxes and healthcare costs for you and me in order to provide another trillion in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires?
So unpopular pollsters hardly believe it.
But there is another way, and today’s story is in two parts: we’re going to talk about how hard it is to get Democrats, as a group, to get loud and get aggressive-and then we’re going to talk about Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is out there showing any reluctant Democrat just exactly how you can “grow the brand”.
Oct 17 2010
Raese says Minimum Wage is Unconstitutional
by Alison Knezevich, The Charleston Gazette — Oct 14, 2010
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Republican candidate for U.S. Senate John Raese doesn’t just want to abolish the minimum wage. He also calls it possibly unconstitutional.
Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin’s campaign seized on Raese’s remarks as a sign that Raese, a multimillionaire, is out of touch with West Virginians.
West Virginia is one of the nation’s poorest and oldest states. Nearly 18 percent of West Virginians live in poverty, compared to 14 percent of Americans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Rachel Maddow has some sage advice, on how to turn “out of touch” rhetoric like this, into Electoral Gold …
Mar 23 2010
A national health insurance reform bill is on the brink of passing and all is well on Capitol Hill.
But that doesn’t mean too much for the rest of the country. Much of the country still wants more than a public-option-free, far-from-single-payer, band-aid-like bill to fix our broken health care system. One writer states, from the interesting vantage point of Australia, where they do have universal health care:
But Australia has something that America lacks: a universal public system that provides basic medical services for all.
Here, thanks to Medicare, you can be cared for in a public hospital without going broke regardless of your health insurance status…But the political compromise [Barack Obama’s] been forced to adopt fails to address the morbidity at the heart of the system.
It’s taking the disease and trying to turn it into the cure.
The solution, the real health care reform that we’ve been asking for since Teddy Roosevelt’s time, lies with the state single payer movement. And, at least here in Pennsylvania, we’re moving full speed ahead. All that this bill means for us is that we’d better move fast if we want real health care reform any time soon.
May 24 2009
It’s already happened in the Northeast, and the Pacific Coast. The process is well under way in the Great Lakes region, the mid-Atlantic region, and the Mountain West (excluding the Mormon Belt) . . . yep, except for the South, Americans are turning against conservative values like homophobia, intolerance, and racism in huge numbers, as the overwhelming majorities that Democrats have won in 2006 & 2008, and the overwhelming popularity of President Obama show.
I submit to you that there is area of the US which has only just begun to change though – and that would be the Great Plains states – North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas – as well as Montana, which I’m including in this analysis. It’s already been widely reported here, here and elsewhere that RepubliCon strength is overwhelmingly over-represented in the South – defined as the 11 states of the confederacy plus Oklahoma and Kentucky in the first hyperlink from the National Journal. DailyKos blogger Steve Singiser notes in that second link that:
At the Congressional level, the disparities are, if possible, even more stark. In the United States Senate, Republicans control 19 of the 26 seats in the South. Outside the South, Democrats control 53 seats. The GOP controls just 21 seats outside of the South.
What this means, in a nutshell, is that outside of the South, Democrats come very close to controlling three-quarters of the seats in the United States Senate.
The other major area of RepubliCon strength is the Mormon Belt.
Mar 16 2008
Continuing through the alphabet….
Mississippi has 4 representatives: 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans
The filing deadline was Jan 11, and the primary was on March 11
Missouri has 9 representatives: 5 Republicans and 4 Democrats
Filing deadline is March 25, primary is Aug 5
Montana has one representative, a Republican
Filing deadline is March 20, primary is June 3