Oregon is 16th State to Call for Overturn of Citizen’s United

On this 237th birthday of our independence the revolution continues.

Today, the Oregon Legislature passed House Joint Memorial 6 (HJM 6), becoming the 16th state to call on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The bipartisan measure passed the state House by a 48-11 margin, with 14 Republican votes (the majority of state House Republicans), and the state Senate by a 17-13 margin, with one Republican, Senator Betsy Close (R-Albany), voting in favor.

Oregon joins California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. The Washington, D.C., Council has called for an amendment as well.

Amending the Constitution – A Bipartisan Call to Overturn “Citizen’s United”

Earlier this month Maine became the 12th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Maine joins West Virginia, Colorado, Montana, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, Maryland, Vermont, New Mexico and Hawaii in calling for an amendment. Washington, DC also backs the movement.

This comes less than a month after red state West Virginia enacted a similar resolution. Momentum is building and it’s bipartisan.

the Maine State Senate voted 25-9 for the resolution, five Republicans joined with nineteen Democrats and independent Senator Richard Woodbury to “call upon each Member of the Maine Congressional Delegation to actively support and promote in Congress an amendmentto the United States Constitution on campaign finance.”

Money is not speech and corporations are not people. Those nine words added to the constitution would change everything. 

For the record what was the last amendment to the constitution enacted?  The 27th.

AMENDMENT XXVII

Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

Have to look into this one.  I thought it was expanding the vote to 18-20 year-olds but that was the 26th amendment in 1971.  Bottom line it’s only been 21 years since the last amendment. I think most people would be surprised at that.  I was.

The Constitution is not a Suicide Pact – Part II

I’m reminded this morning, listening to Pete Dominick on Sirius 104, that another suicide pact issue is the free speech/campaign finance law conundrum.  Maybe it’s not really a conundrum, the rest of the world doesn’t treat it that way, only so-called free speech absolutists, like the Fab 5 on the Supreme Court, who actually find that free-speech is really quite limitable for poor people, just not for rich people.

Constitutional law professor Erich Segal commented, often, that the Citizen’s United decision is a “unique” view of campaign finance limits.  Perhaps he also meant that the equation of money and speech itself is unique. It’s all so unique and HORRIBLE FOR DEMOCRACY!  The execrable Will Cain was arguing in favor of free speech for all (businesses) with his usual libertarian nonsense (miming a jacking off motion) that takes a theoretical approach to aspects of life that do not require theoretical approaches.  We live here in the actual 3D real world – we have long historical experience with money corrupting politics, ALWAYS!  We have empirical evidence that the Citizen’s United system is just legalized bribery in which the people with the money to spend on campaigns have all the access to the politicians as well as the means to buy and hijack media.  We can study the history of the Copper Kings, the trusts, the selling of Senate seats before the 17th amendment, etc, etc. etc.  We don’t need theories.

And it’s so transparent because nobody who advocates for the confluence of money and speech believes that you can shout “fire” in a crowd.  They intellectually believe that society has an interest in limiting speech in the case of libel and fraud and other uses of speech that are clearly deleterious to life, limb and especially money.  But rich people should not have their “speech” limited by law.  They earned it and they know better.

That’s where this really comes from.  It’s not at all an effort to defend the 1st amendment from those who would sacrifice it for squishy, granola eating “good government” reasons. It’s a continuation of the old Federalist aristocracy-centered government when people believed that the men with money should have more say about things because they clearly knew more and God had smiled on them.  

Because in a real democracy Joe Shmoe with $20,000 in the bank should have as much ability and right to run for office as Thurston Howell III.  But as we all know, when Joe Shmoe walks into a party office and they ask him how he would finance his campaign and he says “Well I’ve got $20,000 but people like me and Ill work really hard to shake every hand and kiss every baby” he would have his posterior kicked out of the office right after he said “$20,000”.  Meanwhile across town billionaire Thurston, despite being a low grade moron, will have been recruited to run for office so that they can use his check book to win a seat. 

To think that the 1st amendment means that we have to just throw our hands up in the air and say “what are you going to do?” and shuffle away from addressing the problems in our democracy is insane.  Or as Will Cain said this morning “the answer is always more speech.” Which oddly enough is also the NRA’s answer to violence:  more guns!.  

Overuse of Antibiotics – NYT Op-Ed Today

I wrote two posts last week on this issue, please review if you haven’t. David A. Kessler, former Commissioner of the FDA writes an op-ed in today’s NYT.

SCIENTISTS at the Food and Drug Administration systematically monitor the meat and poultry sold in supermarkets around the country for the presence of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These food products are bellwethers that tell us how bad the crisis of antibiotic resistance is getting. And they’re telling us it’s getting worse.  

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/opinion/antibiotics-and-the-meat-we-eat.html?hp&_r=0

The FDA started testing meat and poultry for antibiotic resistant bacteria strains in 1996, the most recent report on superbugs in our meat, covering 2011, was 82 pages long.

In 2008 Congress required companies, for the first time, to tell the FDA the quantities of antibiotics they were using in agriculture (though still not which antibiotics). That report for 2011 was 4 pages long. We just don’t know enough about what the meat packers are giving the animals we eat. 

Most disturbing:

We have more than enough scientific evidence to justify curbing the rampant use of antibiotics for livestock, yet the food and drug industries are not only fighting proposed legislation to reduce these practices, they also oppose collecting the data. Unfortunately, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, as well as the F.D.A., is aiding and abetting them. 

Of course!!!  As usual our legislators are behind on this, not because the evidence isn’t there to see, but because they’re being paid not to see it.

Gillibrand and Feinstein are leading in the Senate to fix the FDA reporting issue. Waxman and Slaughter in the House are working on this. There are good public servants and don’t let anybody tar them all. But the ones in the pockets of big business, who would compromise public health! need to be called out by name.

Upton Sinclair:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary (or campaign financing) depends on his not understanding it.”

Another subject that comes down to the need for campaign finance reform to help make government responsive to a problem and make things work the way they’re supposed to.