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The Death of U.S. Political Democracy For The People

Posted by: LibbyShaw

Will the Senator from Wal-Mart please yield to the Senator from Halliburton? The Congressman from Black Water has 5 minutes remaining before the Congresswoman from United Health may speak.

Mark your calendars, folks. January 21, 2010 is the day the radical and activist Supreme Court of the United States delivered the U.S. Democracy into the hands of the corporate sector and special interests groups. According to an article in the New York Times corporations, lobbyists and unions can now legally purchase their candidates of choice.

“We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you – whichever one you want,’ ” a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, a lawyer at Skadden Arps in Washington and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission.

The decision yesterday will usher in unimaginable numbers of Swift Boat attack ads. Corporate fat cats can now threaten and bully politicians to do their bidding or else.

“It will put on steroids the trend that outside groups are increasingly dominating campaigns,” Mr. Ginsberg said. “Candidates lose control of their message. Some of these guys lose control of their whole personalities.”

“Parties will sort of shrink in the relative importance of things,” he added, “and outside groups will take over more of the functions – advertising support, get out the vote – that parties do now.”

Front row: Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Antonin G. Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. Back row: Associate Justices Samuel A. Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor.

Some have called the SOTUS decision a power grab that is intellectually dishonest.

In opening the floodgates for corporate money in election campaigns, the Supreme Court did not simply engage in a brazen power grab. It did so in an opinion stunning in its intellectual dishonesty.

Many of those commenting on the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission have focused on the power-grab part. I agree with them. It was unnecessary for the court to go so far when there were several less-radical grounds available. It was audacious to seize the opportunity to overrule precedents when the parties had not pressed this issue and the lower courts had not considered it. It was the height of activism to usurp the judgments of Congress and state legislatures about how best to prevent corruption of the political process.

“If it is not necessary to decide more, it is necessary not to decide more,” a wise judge once wrote. That was Chief Justice John G. Roberts — back when — and dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens rightly turned that line against him.

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Republicans naturally and predictably love this recent ruling. But of course they would. Republicans embrace and fully support authoritarian forms of government. And the sad truth of the matter is the GOP has always worked for the corporate sector.

It is devastatingly unfortunate that Republican voters have never been able to understand the hard, cold and mean reality of those they elect into office. Politicians take an oath to serve the people in their districts but many merely give their constituents nothing but empty rhetoric. If one were to closely examine one’s Republican lawmakers’ voting records one would find who their elected officials really work for.

My guess is the teabaggers will wraps it head around the reality of the SCOTUS decision like we progressives have, for the only one imperative we do share in common is a collective outrage over the corporate takeover of the U.S. government and its legislative process by special interest groups and corporations.

But unfortunately teabaggers, unlike progressives, are far too easily led astray by the likes of Dick Armey, one of the numerous behind the scenes leaders of the teabagger movement. Armey’s main mission is to promote the interests of the health care industry. He and his organization, Freedom Works, uses teabaggers as its tools.

Republicans and teabaggers alike have been led to believe that the government is the root of everything evil while progressives know that government is the only force that can and will protect us from the evils of self-serving greed mongers of the corporate sector.

We are where we are today b/c the corporate sector has been enabled to run rough shod over the American people. We are broke. There are no jobs. We lost homes. We lost retirement savings. Meanwhile on Wall St. the fat cats who can now purchase politicians get richer by the minute.

Elections have consequences. The nice guy or girl candidate with whom to have a beer could very well be an anti-political democracy devil in disguise who has every intention of throwing the middle and working classes to the lions.

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Oh, and Prince Alwaleed, grandson of the King of Saudi Arabia and the largest individual shareholder in Citigroup and second biggest shareholder in News Corp (Murdock’s FOX “News”) doesn’t like Obama’s tax on the banks.

Who would have thought?

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Wyclef Jean Joins George Clooney To Lead MTV’s ‘Hope For Haiti Now’ Telethon

Two-hour global telethon will air Friday, January 22

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean will join George Clooney and CNN’s Anderson Cooper in hosting MTV Networks’ “Hope for Haiti Now,” the global two hour telethon to air commercial-free across ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1, and CMT plus CNN International, National Geographic and MTV on Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Hope for Haiti Now” will feature performances and celebrity appearances to be announced in the coming days, as well as live news reports from CNN. Clooney will host from Los Angeles, Wyclef Jean will be in New York and Anderson Cooper will be live from the devastation, with the Hollywood actor lining up a who’s who of guests to drop by and perform on the night.

All proceeds will be split evenly among five relief organizations who are on the ground helping the people of Haiti: Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF and Yele Haiti Foundation. Both Facebook and MySpace have signed on as official social-media partners to help steer viewers to the telethon and drive donations.

Celebrities across the fame spectrum have harnessed social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to rally support for the Haitian people, announcing their personal donations or directing their fans to contribute to deserving aid groups.

Yele Haiti FoundationHaitian-born musician Wyclef Jean has become the unofficial face of this celebrity humanitarian movement. More than $1 million has flooded in to Jean’s Yéle Haiti since Tuesday, according the charity’s fund-raising organizers. The Hollywood Foreign Press announced it would donate $100,000 to Yéle, while figures such as Lindsay Lohan, MC Hammer, and Haitian-born soccer star Jozy Altidor have tweeted their support for Jean’s cause.

Producing the telethon will be Joel Gallen, who produced the 9/11 telethon “America: A Tribute to Heroes” that aired 10 days after that tragedy.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that several other celebrities are using their social clout and talent to direct attention to Haiti.

  • Lance ArmstrongCyclist Lance Armstrong announced to his 2.3 million Twitter followers that his Livestrong foundation had pledged $250,000 to two humanitarian aid groups.
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  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Actors-turned-philanthropists Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have donated $1 million to the Doctors Without Borders organization; Oprah began her talk show Wednesday by asking viewers to contribute to the Red Cross; Coldplay front man Chris Martin is urging his fans to donate to Haiti via Oxfam; and even Paris Hilton promoted the efforts of the Red Cross via Twitter.
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  • David BlaineMeanwhile, magician David Blaine is taking a slightly more hands-on approach. At 9 a.m. Friday, Blaine started what will be a 72-hour, nonstop “Magic Marathon” in Times Square. Benefits of the event and all proceeds from his online store will be given to the Red Cross.
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  • RihannaBut George Clooney isn’t the only celeb tapping his golden connections. East Coast nightlife guru Unik Ernest, whose Edeyo Foundation supports community-building projects in Haiti, has begun organizing a telethon and benefit concert. While the date of the event is yet to be released, celebrities said to be featured include: Rihanna, Usher, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Mark Wahlberg, Jay-Z, Susan Sarandon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and others, according to Tonic.com.

Celebrity support of the Haitian people has contributed to the success of this week’s aid efforts. The American Red Cross reported Wednesday evening that in the 48 hours following the quake some $35 million in donations had poured in – more than it had received in the two days following Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamis.

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TV Crew Interpreter Rescues Baby Winnie From Rubble in Haiti

Posted by: Audiegrl

Winnie is passed to Australian journalist Mike Amor

Winnie is passed to Australian journalist Mike Amor

After hearing many experts say that no one could survive more than three days without water, today we learned a lesson about the power of faith. An Australian television crew interpreter pulled a 16-month-old girl, Winnie Tilin, from the rubble of a house in Haiti on Friday, January 15, nearly three days after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the country.

In the ruins of a neighborhood, where a hillside collapsed, residents were desperately trying to dig out a young child who was crying under the rubble. She had been buried there for 68 hours with no food or water. Hearing her faint cries and concerned that rescue efforts were taking to long, a young man jumped into the concrete hole. Deiby Celestino was the TV crew’s interpreter from the Dominican Republic. Miraculously, after crawling over dead bodies to get to her, he was able to pull her out. Once free, he passed the child to Australian journalist Mike Amor.

Miracle baby, Winnie

Miracle baby, Winnie

It’s very emotional. I actually thought it was my own baby pulling out there,” said hero/rescuer Celestino “She did a great job staying alive for three days with no food or drink.

Once the child was pulled from the rubble, volunteers poured water over the girl. “Whose baby? Whose baby? Is it your baby?” asked Amor who passed the child to her Uncle. Unfortunately, Winnie’s parents were killed in the collapse of the family’s home. Her Uncle, Frantz Tilin, arrived to find her after losing his own pregnant wife in the earthquake.

Workers with Save the Children Fund fed Winnie and gave her fresh water to drink. STC medical experts determined the girl to be dehydrated, but expect her to recover well.

This is truly a story of the resilience of the human spirit and an example of a self-less act of heroism by a fellow human being.


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More Stories of Hope…

Amazing rescue as two-year-old boy is pulled from wrecked home in Haiti

A little boy named Redjeson Hausteen Claude, was saved by a Spanish emergency worker whose team have managed to reach the afflicted area.

A little boy named Redjeson Hausteen Claude, was saved by a Spanish emergency worker whose team have managed to reach the afflicted area.

A TWO-YEAR-OLD boy is plucked from the rubble of his home three days after it was destroyed by the Haiti earthquake.

Redjeson Hausteen Claude’s saviour Felix del Amo could not conceal his glee as he handed the child to his parents, Daphnee Plaisin and Reginald Claude.

Spanish and Belgian rescuers had listened to Redjeson’s fading cries as they dug for hours through twisted metal and concrete.

The tearful tot’s face broke into a huge smile as he clapped eyes on his mum and dad, who had tried to dig him free with their bare hands.

Amazingly, he had suffered only a few facial cuts.

Dramatic photographs captured the moment when the father of Redjeson saw a Spanish rescuer pull his terrified child from the wreckage: Click Image for Slide-show


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Breaking News: 2 Federal Agents Shot in Las Vegas Courthouse

Posted by Audiegrl


***UPDATE Sources say the gunman is 66-year-old Johnny Lee Wicks. He was apparently angry about a reduction in his social security benefits when he stormed into the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse and opened fire.

Read the Lawsuit filed by Johnny Wicks

Sixty-five-year-old Stanley Cooper, a court security officer, and an unnamed 48-year-old deputy U.S. Marshal were gunned down when Wicks opened fire in the lobby of the federal building in downtown Las Vegas around 8 a.m. Cooper is a retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sergeant. A motorcade made up of dozens of police officers escorted his body from University Medical Center to the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Dickey said the shooting started in the main foyer and continued outside. The gunman was killed across the street from the federal building, which is located on Las Vegas Blvd. between Bridger and Bonneville Avenues. Seven U.S. Marshals and security officers were involved in the gunfire. Some witnesses say they heard between 50 to 100 shots fired.

Wicks filed a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration in early 2008. In a handwritten complaint, he said discrimination had followed him from California to Nevada. Wicks wrote this about one California agent, “Doesn’t try to hide the way he feels about black people so he reduced my benefits.”

Wicks explained he suffered a stroke some years back. He claimed his benefits dropped from $886 to $445 a month and then to $128 a month.

U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley reviewed the case and determined Wicks’ payments were reduced because Nevada, unlike California, does not provide a state supplement. When Wicks moved to Nevada he was no longer eligible for the supplement.

The case was ultimately dismissed in September of 2009.

Prior to Wicks’ arrival at the courthouse, investigators suspect he set his home on fire. He lived at Sunrise Senior Village on 30th Street in Las Vegas.


***UPDATE Marshals say they don’t know motive for shooting

***UPDATE U.S. Marshals Service Director John F. Clark said in a statement, “I can receive no news more grim or sobering than word of a line-of-duty death or injury to our U.S. Marshals personnel. … Rest assured, the brave and immediate actions of these two individuals saved lives by stopping the threat of a reckless and callous gunman who had no regard for who or how many victims were struck down by his senseless actions. They are heroes.”

***UPDATE 8 News Now has learned that the Deputy U.S. Marshal suffered buckshot wounds to his head and hand. At least five federal agents shot the gunman killing him. The gunman’s body is outside of the federal building. The court security officer is identified as being 65-year-old retired Metro Sgt.

***UPDATE (AP)~~Hospital official says a court officer in Las Vegas federal building shooting has died.

Suspected gunman is shot dead, FBI says

The Lloyd George Federal Building in Las Vegas

MSNBC—Two federal agents were shot Monday when a gunman opened fire in the lobby of a federal building in downtown Las Vegas, and the gunman was shot and killed, the FBI said.

We have two marshals down,” Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Roxanna Lea Irwin said after the shooting ended at about 8 a.m. local time.

The condition of the federal agents was not immediately known.

Police and other federal agents swarmed the multi-story building, and paramedics wheeled at least two people out and down a ramp to ambulances. There was no immediate word on the identity of the shooter.

Las Vegas police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said the gunman had been shot in the head.

It looks like he went in there and just started unloading,” Morgan said.

The multi-story building houses federal courts and offices for federal officials including U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign.

Irwin said she saw shotgun casings on the floor of the lobby.

Two Shot at Las Vegas Courthouse

Police block off the area around the federal courthouse in Las Vegas on Monday.

CNN—Two people were shot Monday in the lobby of a federal courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada, police said.

The shooting suspect was shot and killed, FBI Special Agent Joseph Dickey said.

The incident occurred about 8 a.m., said Barbara Morgan, spokeswoman for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.

The two victims were a deputy U.S. marshal and a court security officer, according to U.S. Marshals spokesman Jeff Carter.

Authorities were in the process of evacuating the building, Dickey said.

One person was dead at the scene, and two others were transported to University Medical Center in unknown condition, according to Tim Szymanski, spokesman for the Las Vegas Fire Department.

No one else was in the lobby at the time of the incident, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said.

This report will be updated as information becomes available.

On YouTube, a man who claimed to have a jury summons captured audio of the shots (contains graphic language):
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Special agent Joseph Dickey confirms that two federal agents were shot in Las Vegas Monday. One suspect was shot and killed, according to Dickey.

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Schwarzenegger Signs Two Gay Rights Bills and Creates Day Honoring Harvey Milk

Posted by Audiegrl

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Dessert Sun/Nicole C. Brambila—Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill recognizing gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk and another recognizing the rights and benefits of legally married same-sex couples.

Schwarzenegger signed the two pieces of legislation as he dealt with nearly 700 bills on his desk. Sunday was the deadline to sign legislation passed in regular session.

Schwarzenegger attached the following statement to the same-sex couple law:

As required by Proposition 8, California will not recognize such couples as ‘married.’ However, Senate Bill 54 will provide the same legal protections that would otherwise be available to couples that enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships out-of-state. In short, this measure honors the will of the People in enacting Proposition 8 while providing important protections to those unions legally entered into in other states,” Schwarzenegger wrote.

The Harvey Milk Day bill calls for a day to honor of the slain, gay civil rights leader. It also seeks to educate Californians about the former San Francisco City Supervisor, the nation’s first elected openly gay person.

Advocates considered both necessary for advancing gay civil rights.

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Harvey milkAssociated Press/Don Thompson— Slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk will get a special day of recognition in California, making him only the second person in state history to gain such a designation.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing of the bill establishing “Harvey Milk Day” each May 22, Milk’s birthday, was announced Monday.

The Republican governor vetoed similar legislation a year ago. In the interim, Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in August and was the subject of a movie for which Sean Penn won the Academy Award for best actor.

In this file photo from June 26, 1978, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk is seen in San Francisco's seventh annual gay freedom parade. Milk was assassinated 30 years ago.

In this file photo from June 26, 1978, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk is seen in San Francisco's seventh annual gay freedom parade. Milk was assassinated 30 years ago.

Penn spoke out in favor of the bill last spring, saying he didn’t want to insult Schwarzenegger’s intelligence by assuming the governor would again oppose creating Harvey Milk Day.

He has become much more of a symbol of the gay community than he was a year ago because of those things,” Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said. “That may be the difference from last year: he’s really come to symbolize the gay community in California

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Sex, Lies, and a Hot ‘Mike’

CA State Rep. Michael Duvall

CA State Rep. Michael Duvall

Posted by Audiegrl

Who knew that Republican’s were so freaky? I thought we Democrats had all the fun. This summer we had the sex scandals with some of the members of the Prayboy Mansion (that’s what I call the C Street House). We were told of extra-marital affairs of Sen John Ensign and Gov. Mark Sanford, ending their 2012 Presidency ambitions.

But Michael Duvall, a conservative Republican state representative from Orange County, California, has risen to the top of the list of hypocritical-family values Republican office holders. Mike Duvall has put the real ‘hot’ and the real ‘Mike” in hot mic stories.

Duvall owes his notoriety to a conversation at a council meeting that was caught on a hot mic. You might say, so what… people get caught on ‘hot mics” all the time. I remember when MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Republican strategist Mike Murphy, and Conservative Columnist Peggy Noonan were captured on a hot mic during last summers Republican National Convention. They were talking amongst themselves and saying how the really felt about the Palin pick, which was curiously the opposite of what they had just said to viewers on air. Sometimes ‘hot mic’ events are a good thing, because it tells you what the Media or our Elected Officials really candidly think. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for honesty and keeping it real, but Mike Duvall took it a bit too far. All I can say to Mike is TMI. Too Much Information

Keep in mind, Mike is not talking about having sex with just anybody. He is talking about having sex with two different women that are lobbyists for utility companies! Coincidentally, Duvall is vice chairman of the Utilities and Commerce Committee….

Some of ‘hot Mike’s’ excerpts:

“She wears little eye-patch underwear. So, the other day she came here with her underwear, Thursday. And
 so, we had made love Wednesday–a lot! And so she’ll, she’s all, ‘I am going 
up and down the stairs, and you’re dripping out of me!’ So messy!”

“So, I am getting into spanking her,” says the Orange County Republican. “I like spanking her. She goes, ‘I know you like spanking me.’ I said, ‘Yeah! Because you’re such a bad girl!'”

Like I said, TMI.

Local CBS affiliate KCAL9 had the scoop. Here’s a video of their segment, showing the reporter desperately trying to interview the Rep. Duvall.

Hi-jinx ensue…

Talking Points Memo has much more on the story.

***Update III–Recorded sex comments cost Calif. lawmaker his job

Mike Duvall stepped down Wednesday after a videotape surfaced….

Duvall said Thursday that his “decision to resign is in no way an admission that I had an affair or affairs.”

“My offense was engaging in inappropriate storytelling and I regret my language and choice of words. The resulting media coverage was proving to be an unneeded distraction to my colleagues and I resigned in the hope that my decision would allow them to return to the business of the state”

***Update II: Duvall, who is married with two adult children, received a 100 percent rating from a conservative advocacy group for his votes on legislation considered pro-family. He represents parts of Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Anaheim, Placentia and Orange in Orange County.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a Democrat, removed Duvall from two committees, and the Assembly Ethics Committee was investigating.

***Update
On Wednesday, Assemblyman Mike Duvall of Yorba Linda released the following statement in response:

“I made a mistake and I sincerely apologize. I deeply regret the comments I made in what I believed to be a private conversation. This is a private matter and I ask that everyone respect the privacy of all involved.”

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