Tag: amendment

Not a single Democratic U.S. Senator voted against reauthorizing corporate welfare agency that primarily benefits Boeing

An amendment to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), a federal corporate welfare agency that primarily provides taxpayer money to a single large corporation (Boeing, an airplane manufacturer), was successfully added to legislation designed to allow more employers to refuse to provide health insurance to their employees by a 67-26 vote. Not a single Democrat voted against the amendment, although three members of the Senate Democratic Caucus (Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Chris Coons of Delaware, and Ed Markey of Massachusetts) did not vote on the amendment.

I find it disgusting that nearly the entire Senate Democratic Caucus would support corporate welfare for Boeing.

The Export-Import Bank, initially created by a Franklin Delano Roosevelt executive order as part of his New Deal agenda, is an export credit agency that primarily provides loan guarantees to Boeing. In fact, in 2012, 82.7% of Ex-Im’s loan guarantees went to Boeing. If Ex-Im doesn’t provide taxpayer money to companies without requiring that all of the money given out be paid back over a certain period of time, then Ex-Im is technically not corporate welfare. However, Ex-Im is effectively corporate welfare, since its operations primarily benefit a single company.

I would only support reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank if it would merely serve as a currency exchange for foreign firms who trade with the United States.

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Wisconsin Republicans pass awful state budget, and how legislators should handle criticism of their legislative proposals

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly passed the most awful state budget in American political history in a 52-46 vote, and the budget is currently on Republican Wisconsin Governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker’s desk.

When I say that the Wisconsin budget that the Republicans passed is the most awful state budget in American political history, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the cold hard truth. The Wisconsin budget, among many other things, demonizes the working poor in Wisconsin by replacing the words “living wage” with the words “minimum wage” in state statutes, fast-tracks an expansion of a tar sands oil pipeline in Wisconsin and Illinois that will be even bigger than the Keystone XL pipeline would be, cuts funding to public K-12 and higher education in Wisconsin, effectively prohibits Wisconsin wineries from hosting weddings, and gives Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele even more unchecked power to sell off public property in Wisconsin’s largest county to his political cronies. This budget does a lot to pander to far-right voters that Scott Walker is trying to win over in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and does virtually nothing to benefit the people of Wisconsin in any way. You can read press releases from Democratic Wisconsin State Representatives Melissa Sargent of Madison, Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton, Amanda Stuck of Appleton, LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee, and Andy Jorgensen of Milton, as well as from Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha, at the links in this sentence.

However, prior to the Republicans in the Assembly passing the state budget, Katrina Shankland, the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Stevens Point, tried to amend the state budget to require that future proposals of non-fiscal policy measures in future state budgets get their own separate public hearing before a standing legislative committee (the Republicans rejected Shankland’s amendment). I criticized Shankland’s proposal, because it would not outright prohibit Walker or whoever else is Wisconsin Governor once Walker leaves office from proposing public policy in state budgets. Shankland responded to my criticism of her proposal via Twitter:

Anyone who holds political office, is running for public office, or is thinking about running for public office should take note of Shankland’s response to my criticism of her. She didn’t talk down to me, she didn’t belittle me, she didn’t attack me, and she didn’t try to change the subject. Instead, she directly addressed my criticism of her proposal by saying that she thinks that policy measures don’t belong in state budgets, and she defended her proposal by saying that the Republicans voted against allowing public hearings on policy proposals.

Katrina Shankland has been very respectful to me, even when I’ve disagreed with her, which isn’t often.

Bhuaigh Comhionannas!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The title of this diary is in the Irish language; the English translation of the title is “Equality wins!”. I am providing an American English language version and an Irish language translation of my article. The translations are courtesy of Google Translate, because I have no actual working knowledge of the Irish language.

NÓTA AN ÚDAIR: Is é an teideal an dialann i nGaeilge; Is é an leagan Béarla-theanga an teideal “Equality Wins!” Tá mé ag soláthar leagan Meiriceánach Béarla agus aistriúchán Gaeilge de mo earra. Is iad na haistriúcháin caoinchead Google Translate, toisc go bhfuil mé aon eolas ag obair iarbhír ar an nGaeilge.


A strong majority of voters in the Republic of Ireland have voted to ratify an amendment to the Irish Constitution that will allow gay and lesbian couples to enjoy the same right to marry that heterosexual couples currently enjoy. With all 43 Dáil (lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish national legislature) constituencies having counted votes, there were a total of 1,935,907 valid votes cast in the marriage equality referendum. Of those valid votes, 1,201,607 votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 734,300 votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. Rounded to the nearest hundredths of a percent, 62.07% votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 37.93% of votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. As only a simple majority is required to ratify an amendment, marriage equality is officially law of the land in the Republic of Ireland.

This is an historic victory for supporters of equality for two major reasons. First, the Republic of Ireland will now and forever be known as the first sovereign country to approve marriage equality in a public referendum. Second, the Republic of Ireland is an historic stronghold of the Catholic Church, which has aggressively defended discrimination against gay and lesbian couples and has strongly opposed all efforts around the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Irish voters have bravely stood up to the Catholic Church and other supporters of discrimination by voting to ratify the marriage equality amendment. Love has won in Ireland!


Tromlach láidir na vótálaithe i bPoblacht na hÉireann tar éis vótáil leasú ar Bhunreacht na hÉireann a chuirfidh ar chumas lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun taitneamh a bhaint as an ceart céanna chun pósadh go taitneamh a bhaint as lánúineacha heitrighnéasacha láthair a dhaingniú. Le gach 43 Dála (teach íochtarach an Oireachtais, na hÉireann náisiúnta reachtas) dáilcheantair a bhfuil vótaí a chomhaireamh, bhí iomlán de 1,935,907 vótaí bailí a caitheadh sa reifreann chomhionannais pósadh. As na vótaí bailí, bhí a caitheadh 1,201,607 vóta i bhfabhar comhionannas pósadh, agus cuireadh chaith 734,300 vóta ina gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Slánaithe go dtí na chéadú gaire de faoin gcéad, bhí chaith 62.07% vóta i bhfabhar an chomhionannais pósadh, agus bhí 37.93% de na vótaí arna gcaitheamh i gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Toisc go bhfuil ach tromlach simplí de dhíth leasú a dhaingniú, tá comhionannas pósadh hoifigiúil dlí ar an talamh i bPoblacht na hÉireann.

Is é seo an bua stairiúil do lucht tacaíochta an chomhionannais ar dhá chúis mhóra. Gcéad dul síos, beidh an Phoblacht na hÉireann anois agus go deo ar a dtabharfar an chéad tír ceannasach chun comhionannas pósadh cheadú i reifreann poiblí. Dara, is é an Phoblacht na hÉireann ina dhaingean stairiúil an Eaglais Chaitliceach, a bhfuil a chosaint aggressively idirdhealú in aghaidh lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha agus tá láidir i gcoinne gach iarracht ar fud an domhain chun ligean lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun pósadh.

Vótálaithe na hÉireann a sheas cróga suas go dtí an Eaglais Chaitliceach agus lucht tacaíochta eile idirdhealaithe ag vótáil an leasú chomhionannais pósadh a dhaingniú. Grá bhuaigh in Éirinn!

The Wisconsin GOP’s court-packing scheme is straight out of the FDR playbook…this time, there’s no valid reason for it whatsoever

During the midst of the Great Depression, then-Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stymied by a conservative-led U.S. Supreme Court that struck down many of FDR’s New Deal programs. On February 5, 1937, FDR unveiled a court-packing scheme, titled the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, that, in part, would have allowed FDR to pack the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) by appointing either six new justices or a number of new justices equal to the number of current justices who were older than 70 1/2 years of age, whichever was lesser, which would have resulted in a SCOTUS bench consisting of up to 15 members and, more than likely, a solid pro-New Deal majority. Nearly two months after FDR’s court-packing plan was unveiled, then-SCOTUS Associate Justice Owen Roberts, the usual swing vote on the New Deal-era SCOTUS who had previously sided with the “Four Horsemen”, as the anti-New Deal justices were known as, sided with the pro-New Deal justices in a 5-4 decision upholding the State of Washington’s minimum wage law. That decision also effectively ended any chance of FDR’s court-packing scheme from becoming law and kept the SCOTUS bench at nine members, which it remains today.

Nearly eight decades after FDR’s federal court-packing scheme failed, Wisconsin Republicans are attempting to pack the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWI) with conservative justices. However, the Republicans in Wisconsin are not trying to increase the number of justices on the bench of Wisconsin’s highest court (currently seven), and they aren’t stymied by liberal justices who are using the court to block Republican Governor Scott Walker’s far-right political agenda (in fact, Walker’s conservative allies have a solid majority on the court and have rubber-stamped every part of Walker’s agenda that has come before the court, including the union-busting Act 10 law). Instead, they’re “stymied” (note the quotation marks) by SCOWI Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is a liberal chief justice on a conservative-controlled court by virtue of being the most senior member of the court, and their efforts to pack Wisconsin’s highest court so that all seven spots on the SCOWI bench are held by far-right justices is a three-pronged effort:

  1. Enact a state constitutional amendment that would allow SCOWI justices to elect their own chief justice, which, if enacted, would result in one of the conservative justices, probably Patience Roggensack, becoming chief justice. This amendment will go before Wisconsin voters on April 7, and “yes” votes from a majority of voters would be required to ratify the amendment and effectively remove Abrahamson from the chief justice’s chair on the SCOWI bench. I’ve endorsed a “no” vote on this amendment.
  2. Enact a state law that would set a mandatory retirement age of 70 years for state judges in Wisconsin. This would automatically remove Abrahamson, as well as Patrick Crooks, the lone moderate on the SCOWI bench, from the bench entirely, and their replacements would be appointed by Walker, who would appoint far-right justices to replace Abrahamson and Crooks on the bench. Given that Republicans control both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature, and Walker would almost certainly sign a judicial mandatory retirement bill into law, it’s not a matter of if a judicial mandatory retirement bill will be enacted, but when it will enacted.
  3. Defeat liberal SCOWI justice Ann Walsh Bradley, the other of the three justices who usually side against Walker and his cohorts on the SCOWI bench, in this year’s state supreme court election. Conservatives are running James Daley, a Rock County circuit court judge, against Bradley, however, Daley is not a strong candidate, having repeatedly flip-flopped on the proposed chief justice amendment that will be on the ballot at the same time he is, so there’s a good chance that Bradley could win re-election.

The proposed Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice amendment is about more than simply removing Shirley Abrahamson from the chief justice’s chair on Wisconsin’s highest court. It’s the first prong of Wisconsin Republicans’ three-prong court-packing scheme designed to completely remove liberals and moderates from Wisconsin’s highest court and replace them with right-wing extremists who will rubber-stamp Scott Walker’s destructive agenda and oppose all efforts by Wisconsin Democrats to implement progressive policies designed to make Wisconsin a better place to live if and when Democrats regain control of the governor’s office and/or the state legislature. Wisconsinites can oppose the first and third prongs of the GOP’s court-packing scheme by voting for Ann Walsh Bradley for Wisconsin Supreme Court and voting “no” on the chief justice amendment on April 7, which will send a strong message to the Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government that they won’t support the second prong of their court-packing scheme. The state court-packing scheme that Republicans are trying to implement in Wisconsin is even more ridiculous than FDR’s federal court-packing scheme that he proposed nearly eight decades ago.

My video entry to the MAYDAYin30 video contest

I’ve decided to enter the MAYDAYin30 video contest that MAYDAY PAC, the Lawrence Lessig-led, crowd-funded SuperPAC that supports ending the culture of big-money politics in this country by, among other things, overturning the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision by a federal constitutional amendment.

My submission is a video supporting the campaign of Staci Appel, the Democratic U.S. House nominee in the 3rd Congressional District of Iowa. Appel, who has been endorsed by MAYDAY PAC. Staci supports amending the U.S. Constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision and end the era of big-money campaigns and SuperPACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money from big-wig donors.

Here’s my video:

If you like my video and would like to see it aired as a TV ad on stations covering Central and Southwestern Iowa, you can vote for my video here!

U.S. Senate votes 79-18 for proposed constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics

The U.S. Senate has voted to advance a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would effectively repeal the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision and explicitly allow Congress and state legislatures to prohibit corporations, labor unions, and other types of organizations from spending money to directly or indirectly influence the outcome of elections, allows Congress and state legislatures to legally distinguish between corporations and actual people, and enact “reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections”.

The vote was 79 for the amendment and 18 against the amendment. The 18 Senators, all of which are Republicans, who voted against the amendment are, in alphabetical order by last name, John Barasso of Wyoming, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Roberts of Kansas, James Risch of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Thune of South Dakota, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. The 3 Senators who did not vote on the amendment are Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski. At least 67 total votes were required to advance the proposed amendment, due to the U.S. Constitution requiring any constitutional amendment proposed by Congress to be approved by 2/3 majorities of both houses of Congress in order for it to be referred to either state legislatures or state ratifying conventions.

Here’s the text of the proposed amendment:

Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

While the Republican-controlled U.S. House, more than likely, won’t even bring this proposed amendment to a vote there, this is a big victory for people who, like me, would love nothing more than to see the corrupting influence of big money in our country’s political system gone.