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“Executive Orders To Undo Executive Orders”: Does Rand Paul Want To Repeal All Executive Orders? Depends When You Ask

Does Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) want to repeal the Emancipation Proclamation? It depends on when you ask him.

Senator Paul raised the subject during a Thursday night appearance in Manchester, New Hampshire. During a question-and-answer session with Republican activists, a young man reportedly asked Paul, “If you were to receive the presidency, would you repeal previous executive orders and actually restrain the power of the presidency?”

“I think the first executive order that I would issue would be to repeal all previous executive orders,” Paul replied, as quoted by Real Clear Politics.

This would be problematic for a number of reasons. Although Republicans would presumably love to do away with President Obama’s executive order protecting some young immigrants from deportation, for example, repealing others would be a tougher sell. Would Paul really want to reverse President Lincoln’s order freeing the slaves, President Truman’s order desegregating the armed forces, or President Kennedy’s order barring discrimination in the federal government?

Well, not when you put it that way.

“Well, I mean, I think those are good points, and it was an offhand comment, so obviously, I don’t want to repeal the Emancipation Proclamation and things like that,” Paul told Real Clear Politics when questioned on the broader impact of his plan. “Technically, you’d have to look and see exactly what that would mean, but the bottom line is it’s a generalized statement that I think too much is done by executive order, particularly under this president. Too much power has gravitated to the executive.”

In reality, President Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any president since Franklin Roosevelt. But still, Paul’s point is clear: He was speaking extemporaneously, and doesn’t actually want to repeal all executive orders.

That excuse would be easier to swallow if Paul hadn’t made the same promise to the Louisville Chamber of Commerce in August:

Asked directly if he would issue executive orders as president, Paul said the only circumstance would be to overturn the ones made by his predecessors.

“Only to undo executive orders. There’s thousands of them that can be undone,” said Paul. “And I would use executive orders to undo executive orders that have encroached on our jurisprudence, our ability to defend ourselves, the right to a trial, all of those I would undo through executive order.”

Paul later backed away from that comment in much the same way, telling reporters that “It wasn’t sort of a response of exactness.”

In fairness to Senator Paul, it seems highly unlikely that he really wants to resegregate the military in an effort to roll back executive overreach. But his clunky attempt to get on both sides of the issue has become a theme for him, which has repeated itself on Medicare, immigration, foreign aid, and a multitude of other topics.

His Democratic rivals have taken notice.

“Rand Paul’s problem isn’t that he changes positions — it’s that he insists that he can simultaneously hold multiple, contradictory positions on a litany of key issues,” Democratic National Committee press secretary Michael Czin said in a statement. “As Paul gears up for a presidential run, he changes positions to suit the moment or to match the views of the group in front of him. From confronting ISIL to ending aid to Israel to whether he supports the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act, Rand Paul disingenuously tries to have it every way.”

Paul may be able to get away with clunky flip-flopping in the Senate, but it will become a major liability for him if he pursues the presidency in 2016. Clearly, Democrats are ready and eager to attack his lack of consistency. If Paul isn’t careful, they could set the narrative for him long before the first votes are cast.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, September 15, 2014

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Executive Orders, Rand Paul | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Shoot-Me State”: New Missouri Law Will Allow Teachers To Carry Guns, Defying Statistics And Common Sense

Nobody really knows how Missouri got the nickname the “show me state,” but what we do know is that under a new gun law passed last week, Missouri residents will be able to walk around openly showing their guns. And what we further know is that this law drops the concealed carry (CCW) age requirement from 21 to 19 and allows local school districts to grant CCW privileges to teachers whose job will be to protect everyone else in the school from all those bad guys carrying guns.

The intent of this new law obviously is to make Missourians more safe because lowering the CCW age to 19 will qualify more people to walk around armed and letting teachers bring concealed weapons into schools will also protect the children and other teachers when a bad guy with a gun comes into the school. In other words, the new law supports a favorite theory of the NRA which can be summed up as “more guns equals fewer guns.” Oops, what we mean is more guns carried around by the “good guys” means fewer guns carried around by the “bad guys.”

The last time Missouri made it easier for its citizens to arm themselves was in 2007 when the legislature abolished a law which required that people wishing to buy handguns first had to go to the police department and get a permit-to-purchase (PTP) in order to take possession of the gun. To show you how successful this measure was in helping good-guy Missourians use guns to protect themselves from bad-guy Missourians, the gun homicide rate over the next three years jumped by almost 25 percent, even though the non-gun homicide rate remained about the same.

Of all 50 states, only Louisiana currently has a higher gun homicide rate than Missouri, and while the overall violent crime rate in Missouri has declined by about 20 percent between 2007 and 2012, the homicide rate has remained remarkably stable and remarkably high, a testament no doubt to the legislature’s uncanny ability to understand how making it easier for everyone to acquire handguns would lead to a safer and more secure place to live. Having seen the positive impact of easier handgun access on gun homicide rates, the legislature in its wisdom now believes that it will move the gospel of “good guys with guns protecting us from bad guys with guns” into the schools.

But what are the facts about the utility of using guns to protect kids (and teachers) in schools? Actually, the number of homicides that take place in schools each year has shown the same gradual decline over the last twenty years that has characterized violent crime rates in the United States as a whole. From 1994 to 2013, violent crime dropped roughly 50 percent, with most of the decline taking place prior to 2004. As for school homicides, according to a Justice Department study, they have dropped by about the same amount over the period 1992 to 2010, and serious victimizations, including robberies and assaults, have declined by as much as two-thirds.

Most of this decline in school criminality seems to have been the result of increased attention paid to people entering school buildings and increased surveillance within the buildings. By 2011, nearly 90 percent of all public schools had some kind of security measures to monitor access and the same percentage reported requiring visitor sign-ins. On the other hand, less than one-third of all schools had armed security patrolling on a full-time or part-time basis. And while I don’t have specific numbers on school security in Missouri, I can tell you that the last school shooting in the ‘show me’ state occurred in 1993.

Do you think there was any connection between the passage of the new Missouri gun law and the racial strife in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown? It’s as good a theory as any about what really motivated legislators to let guns into schools, because there sure isn’t any violence problem in Missouri schools that this law will solve.

 

By: Mike Weisser, The Hufington Post Blog, September 15, 2014

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Guns, Missouri, Schools | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“If Money Is Speech And Speech Is Freedom…”: Those With Less Money Get Less Freedom, Less Speech, Less Representation

If money is speech and speech is freedom, then it follows that those who have more money will have more freedom.

This includes the freedom to determine who gets to vote, the freedom to dictate how much workers are paid, and the freedom to impose their agenda regardless of public opinion.

It also follows that those with less money will have less freedom, less speech, and less representation.

These are the basic tautologies in logic that Conservatives refuse to address. By equating freedom with money, the Party That Loves Liberty and Freedom is actually reducing the liberty and freedom of the vast majority of Americans. Yet when the majority of Senators tried to correct this problem, obstructionist Senate Republicans killed the proposal with a filibuster. Conservatives accused the Democrats who supported the proposal of trying “to radically shrink First Amendment protection of political speech.”

Constitutional guarantees of free speech, it turns out, are only available for those who can afford to pay.

Bloviating pundits notwithstanding, speech is not an infinite resource. There are only so many radio and television ads that can be sold; only so many prime time hours; only so many websites. Perhaps the most finite of all resources is the attention span of voters. Once these resources have reached their full capacity, there is no room left. Other voices and ideas are simply unheard, no matter how brilliant, valuable, or vote-worthy they might be. Television stations cannot squeeze in one more commercial. Voters will not sit through another political ad.

In the war of voter attrition, the Koch brothers are winning.

The problem is exacerbated by judges that believe that political ads are not required to tell the truth. Politicians and the PACs that suppport them have the freedom to create a lie and to overpower any opposition to it, including opposing views that are based on actual facts. It’s a perfect propaganda machine.

Voter fatigue translates into skewed election results. Once in office, politicians rewrite election laws, gerrymander Congressional districts, and take other actions to ensure that their donors are rewarded and that they and their party remain in power. Laws that can’t be changed through legislation are manipulated through the budget process. New ideas are allowed to die despite having strong public approval. 92 percent of Americans think that requiring a background check before someone can buy a gun is a good idea. 72 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage. Yet these and other popular ideas are routinely killed by a minority of Senators who represent a minority of voters.

Let’s be honest. Citizens United and the closely related McCutcheon were not about increasing freedom of speech. Both were 5-4 decisions from a Conservative majority and are about ensuring political control in the face of changing voter preferences. Both cases are about drowning out any opposition.

Which brings us to Net Neutrality. If money equals freedom, then startup companies and small businesses that have less money will have less freedom. This means, among other things, less freedom for innovation, less freedom for commerce, and less freedom of speech. The end of the Net Neutrality means a decline in the quality of service for everyone who uses the Internet. Ultimately, it is one step closer to the end of discussion, debate, and democracy.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web portion of the Internet, envisioned and still supports an open and inclusive web. Conservatives are on record as opposing this freedom. Instead, they prefer a “free market approach” that will do to the Internet what Citizens United has done to political campaigns. American media is already dominated by an oligarchy of just six companies. Independent media outlets and commentators already face enormous challenges as they struggle to be heard. Banishing these websites to the slow lane of the Internet would mean less freedom, not more.

Free speech cannot exist when those without money are shut out of the conversation. Democracy, in political ads and on media websites, requires a diversity of legitimate ideas, not simply the repetition of the same biases and misinformation.

Instead of asking why Democrats oppose unchallenged speech for a few, the better question is to ask why so many in Washington seem to oppose freedom for all.

 

By: Bob Seay, Editor, NewsPrism.com; The Huffington Post Blog, September 15, 2014

 

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Democracy, Freedom | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Just So We’re Clear”: Arizona Republican Suggests Sterilizing Poor Women

Russell Pearce has had quite a career in Arizona. The Republican started as a fairly obscure state senator, before his anti-immigrant SB1070 pushed him into the national spotlight, which Pearce parlayed into a promotion as state Senate President.

His shooting star didn’t last – Pearce’s record and extremist associations undermined his standing, and in 2011, voters pushed him out of office in a recall election.

State Republicans probably should have allowed Pearce to fade from public view, but instead, GOP officials made Pearce the #2 leader in the state party. As Zach Roth reported, that didn’t turn out too well, either.

The far-right former lawmaker who helped create Arizona’s “papers please” immigration law has resigned as a top official with the state GOP after making comments about sterilizing poor women. […]

On Saturday, the state Democratic Party highlighted comments Pearce made recently on his radio show. Discussing the state’s public assistance programs, Pearce declared: “You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations…. Then we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”

Just so we’re clear, by making Norplant a part of public assistance, Pearce was, fairly explicitly, talking about sterilizing low-income women.

By way of a response, the principal author of Arizona’s “papers please” law argued in a written statement that he was referencing “comments written by someone else and failed to attribute them to the author.”

It’s a rare sight: a politician trying to defend himself by relying on an admission of plagiarism.

Of course, the problem has nothing to do with attribution and everything to do with an intended message. No one cares whether Pearce was sharing someone else’s argument; everyone cares that he talked about sterilizing poor people.

Daniel Strauss added that Arizona Republicans were so eager to support Pearce after his recall race that he was made the first-ever vice chairman of the Arizona GOP a year after his ouster.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 15, 2014

September 16, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Poor and Low Income, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Punish Them At The Polls!”: Paycheck Fairness Act Blocked Again By Senate GOP

Senate Republicans on Monday blocked for the fourth time a bill that would strengthen federal equal pay laws for women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would ban employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with each other, impose harsher penalties for pay discrimination and require employers to be able to show that wage gaps between men and women are based on factors other than gender.

The bill needed 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster and advance to a final vote on passage, but it fell short Monday by a vote of 52 to 40. Senate Democrats have brought the bill to the floor four times since 2011, and each time Republicans have rejected it.

“The wage gap not only hurts our families, it hurts the economy,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said before the vote. “If it were reversed, I’d be standing here fighting for the men. It’s not right.”

Republicans say they oppose the bill because they believe it would discourage employers from hiring women, out of a fear of lawsuits. The GOP has accused Democrats of staging a “show vote” on the bill in an election year, knowing it won’t pass.

“At a time when the Obama economy is already hurting women so much, this legislation would double down on job loss, all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the last vote on the bill in April. “In other words, it’s just another Democratic idea that threatens to hurt the very people that it claims to help.”

Women working full-time in the U.S. earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar men earn, according to the Census Bureau. A small portion of that gap, economists say, is due to employers paying women less than men for the same work.

Republicans are trying to engage women voters ahead of the November midterm elections, but their opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act and other equal pay measures has repeatedly been used against them in campaigns.

 

By: Laura Bassett, The Huffington Post Blog, September 15, 2014

 

 

 

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Gender Gap, Paycheck Fairness Act, Senate | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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