Saturday, March 31, 2012

Update on the Vigilante on Vigilante shooting in Utah

It's funny what you find when you do an update check on a previous story, as I sometimes do.  I found this little news story by accident, but it is worth sharing here.
For those of you who are curious, here is the original vigilante on vigilante shooting post I wrote, from earlier this month.  It is worth noting that unlike Florida, Utah while too pro-gun in many respects, was sane enough as a state to limit castle doctrine and shoot first laws to a person's home.  They still give more permission to shoot people to less regulated, less accountable, less trained civilians than they do to police but at least they restrict it to a person's own property.  But this is after all still Utah, which has an interesting history when it comes to gun loving conservative older men and much younger or underage women, not unlike the conservative culture of perversion I wrote about here in Grand Marais, Minnesota.  It appears Utah is not so different from rural Minnesota.
This conviction does not justify the man who went to jail for taking his gun and leaving his home to go looking for this self-appointed neighborhood watch captain and then shooting him. It does argue for his belief that this gun violence victim and his buddy weren't following the car full of girls because they were behaving illegally, as they claimed, but rather that he had a fetish for young teenage girls. 
That the gun shot victim tried to blame HIS victim for his conduct is characteristic of a certain mentality that blames the victim instead of the legally and morally responsible adult bad guy taking the responsibility for his actions.  What the following AP story fails to mention is the gun violence victim now in a wheelchair had LEFT his neighborhood where he claimed he was fulfilling his neighborhood watch duties, to follow aggressively the car full of young teenage girls.

You can read the story here, from the AP:
Utah man paralyzed in neighborhood watch shooting convicted of sex with neighbor girl, 17

SALT LAKE CITY — A 39-year-old man paralyzed in a Bluffdale neighborhood watch shooting faces up to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of having sex with a 17-year-old neighbor girl.
A jury found David Serbeck guilty on Thursday of three felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor. Sentencing is May 25.
Serbeck denied the accusations, saying the teen, who is now 22, had a crush on him and wanted to impress her friends.
The alleged victim testified she was 17 when she and Serbeck had sex three times in his Magna home in 2007.
Serbeck denied the accusations, saying the teen, who is now 22, had a crush on him and wanted to impress her friends.
Serbeck was shot and paralyzed in July 2009 by Reginald Campos, who suspected Serbeck of aggressively following his teen daughter in an SUV while patrolling the neighborhood. Campos was sentenced to up to life in prison. ****************** I wonder if Campos and Serbeck will be serving their time in the same prison. That could be awkward.

Friday, March 30, 2012

All in the Family of Man and the Trayvon Martin shooting - the more things change the more some things stay the same

My blogging colleague Laci reminded me of this old All in the Family episode in the context of the Trayvon Martin shooting, where there are shaprly differing versions of events. It perhaps illustrates both how far we have come, and how far some people still haven't come, as well as being an excellent 'point of view' episode to illustrate how we filter events through our own biases - and we all have them to some degree.

And just because it also applies, I'm throwing in an episode from season 3, September 16, 1972, 'the Editorial'.

Dolphins: Gay and Bi-sexual orientation discovered by science

For all of the sexually repressed right-wingers who believe contrary to facts that GOD objects to any sexual orientation other than monogamous heterosexuality, here is more evidence that they have no idea of the mysterious ways and variety in which God or nature operates.  Clearly if this is the way in which nature is created, a spectrum of sexuality in man and other animals serves a function which we are only beginning to appreciate and understand, and is not EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEvil or an abomination to creation, but rather an important part of its diversity.

Dolphins are credited with an exceptional intelligence, and clearly as well they demonstrate the kind of problem solving and altruistic behavior, as well as possibly possessing self awareness that we now understand is not the unique province of humans as well.  In this regard they appear to exceed the qualities we think of as inherently part of humanity rather better than some of our more bigoted regressive human clergy who find God's creations either an abomination or a dangerous choice.

from MSN:
Researchers find bisexual and exclusively gay dolphins
Dolphins are considered such radiantly happy creatures that "dolphin assisted therapy" (aka, hanging out with dolphins) is practiced as a way to treat human physical and mental suffering. Well, maybe an open society is part of the dolphin's allure, too. According to one study of 120 bottlenose dolphins in Australia, researchers found a lot of male dolphins enjoy "extensive bisexuality." And not just that, but some pairs engage in "exclusive homosexuality," reports Discovery News. Pairs, trios or small groups of male dolphins will form exclusive groups that are sexual, social, and sustainable. One herd of seven males spent 17 years together in an intimate and affectionate clique.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

'Obamacare': Who Does It Scare and Why?
And Who is LYING?
Who is selling you out?

Rick Newman, U.S. News writer for MSN wrote an excellent post recently on the issues of Obamacare, more correctly called the Affordable Healthcare Act.
Before the darned thing passed, I read it, the whole long legislation.
Do I understand it? I think so, reasonably well. 
But I wouldn't consider myself expert, and I think very few people are expert.  What struck me about the Newman article, which I will address here momentarily, is how many other people I have encountered who understand it less than I do, often MUCH less.  Those include the people who believe Sara Palin hysteria about death panels that was a blatant pants on fire lie, a statement at the level of burning stupid, to borrow a pet phrase from a former co-blogger of mine, that I would expect from Palin's paranoia pandering:
Seniors and the disabled "will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care." Sarah Palin on Friday, August 7th, 2009 in a message posted on Facebook
HuffPo quoted her claiming that President Obama and 'Obamacare' would kill her youngest child, afflicted with Down's Syndrome as part of that statement.  That is not true, and it should be too ludicrous for anyone except a rightwinger who has lost their reality grip to believe.
We have others making similar misstatements about health care reform, beginning with the ever factually averse Michele Bachmann who is pretty much incapable of getting a fact correct.  This exchange was about the appointment of the extremely well qualified Donald Berwick to head Medicare and Medicaid Services.  From TPM:
BACHMANN: He’s the one now who will be in charge of implementing full-scale Obamacare and he’ll be in charge of Medicare and Medicaid.
BAKER: Oh boy. That’s why I’m now referring to him as the chairman of the Obamacare death panel.
BACHMANN: That’s right.
BAKER: That’s my title.
BACHMANN: That’s right because this is his quote, and I have it right in front of me. He said, “the decision is not, whether or not we will ration health care. The decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” Well, it’s with his eyes open. Because he’s going to be the one who is denying people care.

And of course we have the stupidity from Santorum, who should perhaps be nicknamed 'Insanit-orum', with his weird and fact averse claims about euthanasia in the Netherlands.  No, they don't go around killing all their old people.  They in fact have an excellent form of allowing people to control their very near death and pain so as to die with as much comfort and dignity as possible.  It is closer to hospice care, only slightly more proactive.  An example would be allowing people who are near death without hope of recovery to die at home through having medical staff come to them rather than taking people from what are comfortable and familiar surroundings when they die.  Both the Dutch and the Swiss have very careful provisions in place to use their euthanasia laws to give people the greatest possible control over their lives and death, not take either their control or their lives from them.  We have a version of that already in the U.S. in Oregon, where mass killing of sick and old people has not resulted either, not for convenience, not for cost/benefit reasons.  What is referred to on the right by the likes of stupid candidates like Santorum as 'involuntary euthanasia' would be occurrences like the removal of the life support apparatus, and pain medication as normal death resulted in the case of Terri Schaivo.  This summary of the Terri Schiavo case in the New England Journal of Medicine was compelling, but I will limit myself to these two excerpts:
The right of competent patients to refuse unwanted medical treatment, including artificial hydration and nutrition, is a settled ethical and legal issue in this country — based on the right to bodily integrity. In the Nancy Cruzan case, the Supreme Court affirmed that surrogate decision makers have this right when a patient is incapacitated, but it said that states could set their own standards of evidence about patients' own wishes...
Let us hope that future courts and legislative bodies put aside all the special interests and distractions and listen carefully to the patient's voice as expressed through family members and close friends. This voice is what counts the most, and in the Terri Schiavo case, it was largely drowned out by a very loud, self-interested public debate.
but perhaps the most important quote from the article was this one:
Distortion by interest groups, media hyperbole, and manipulative use of videotape characterized this case and demonstrate what can happen when a patient becomes more a precedent-setting symbol than a unique human being.
Because Terri Schiavo's brain had liquefied.  Every treatment had been tried.  She wasn't coming back, and being a vegetable on expensive life support was something she found grotesque.  That it was also horrendously expensive while grotesque was secondary to human dignity and control of our own destinies in our final days - of determining how we leave this 'mortal coil'.  Republicans made it a hideous circus of distortions, lies, and exploitation that had nothing whatsoever to do with reverence for life.
The Healthcare Reform / Obamcare conflict is about special interests making obscenely large amounts of money off of sick and injured people, leaving others to die who could and should be treated.  They die through the unreasonable costs institutionalized in the system, and through the allowance of denial of insurance to people with preHealthcare reform is about having a more efficient and consistent delivery system of health care in this country, one that IS less expensive, and one that covers more people with better care.
One of the models for that kind of care management came from Minnesota's Mayo Clinic.  I can't believe anyone who is familiar with that institution would EVER claim that they have death panels that determine care, or kill Down's Syndrome babies or elderly people using bureaucrats who make determinations of societal usefulness.  Instead you find the Mayo working with the Obama administration's Department of Health and Human Services  TO LOWER HEALTH CARE COSTS.  From the 2010 MAYO ANNUAL REPORT:
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., was selected to receive a $12 million Beacon Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a three-year research project in southern Minnesota that will study whether better sharing of patients' health information through electronic medical records will improve treatment of diabetes and childhood asthma. Mayo Clinic was the only rural-area recipient to receive this funding.
 The electronic medical record (EMR) has long been critical to Mayo's ability to deliver health care quality, safety and efficiency while reducing health care costs. Today, Mayo Clinic has one of the largest EMR systems in the world. 
Starting as a pilot program, the southeast Minnesota "Beacon Community" will combine the efforts of public health offices, public schools, medical centers and Mayo Clinic Health System communities to show how electronic exchange of health information can lower health care costs, facilitate care management and improve community health. Everything related to a patient's care — physician notes, laboratory reports, copies of correspondence, appointment schedules, X-rays — will be instantly available to caregivers. 
It is of course NOT true what the right has said about the Healthcare reform.  It is NOT true either what they say about the places in Europe where they have better health care than we do, along similar public regulation to 'Obamacare'. 
So how does the right continue to get away with such extraordinary boldface lying?
That brings us to the recent article by Rick Newman
The real reason Obamacare scares people

Despite the uproar over the individual mandate, the requirement would affect only a tiny portion of the population.

Sometimes the weatherman predicts a big storm that never materializes.
Politicians do the same thing, and right now many of them are warning that President Obama's 2010 healthcare reform law is about to come slamming into the nation like a once-a-century hurricane. Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney calls the law "an unfolding disaster for the American economy." His fellow candidate Rick Santorum routinely tells audiences that Obamacare "is the beginning of the end of freedom in America." Board up the windows. Hurry to the basement.
At the eye of this gathering storm is the "individual mandate," a key part of the law that will require most Americans to buy a minimum level of health insurance by 2014, or ask the feds for an exemption. Those in violation will have to pay a penalty fee that could be as high as the annual premium on a basic insurance plan. The mandate, which some people consider highly intrusive, generated court challenges almost as soon as Obama signed the law, with the Supreme Court now due to decide whether it's constitutional.
Many of those people would qualify for subsidies set up under the law, which are meant to encourage people to buy insurance and help them pay for it. Some of them, no doubt, would do what the law says, and buy health insurance. So the number of Americans truly subject to penalties for violating the mandate would be less than 10 percent of the population--perhaps far less. Kaiser notes that in Massachusetts, which enacted a statewide law similar to Obamacare in 2006, about 70 percent of the people without insurance qualify for an exemption, and only 1 percent of the population pays a fine for going without coverage. And there's been little uproar about lost freedoms or a wrecked economy.
Changes are always more intimidating when they're poorly understood, however, and that is certainly one reason that Obamacare is so controversial and highly divisive. Polls show that Americans are about evenly split on their view of the law, with many Republicans strongly opposed to it and many Democrats strongly in favor. At the same time, only about one third of Americans say they feel they understand the law--and their self-assessments may be overly generous.
Complexity, therefore, may be the real reason Obamacare spooks people. For starters, the law could end up remaking the whole healthcare system—which accounts for about one sixth of the U.S. economy—in ways nobody can predict. The U.S. healthcare system was a mess before Obamacare, with soaring costs and millions of families that couldn't afford care.
The 'Obamacare' legislation attempts to make health care more efficient, using as a template something that already works.   It makes it possible for the people who are dying NOW without insurance and without health care, people who wouldn't die at that rate WITH care, to be able to get care and to buy insurance.  And that s a LOT of people.
According to Reuters, someone in that group of uninsured and uncared for dies every 12 minutes (as of 2009 - it may be higher numbers now;).  As health care costs rise, an increasing, not decreasing number of people will lose health care and insurance coverage, and those who DO have it will continue to have declining care.  Why? So that the conservatives can keep enriching their insurance company donors.
They don't give a tinkers damn about people dying or about life; it is just a very effective ploy to deceive the ultra conservative low information voters.  When you have Frank Luntz, famous word master and superlative spinner of terms telling the right they're wrong, you know it's gone beyond the realm of even the tenuous Republican reality.  Even the rational right knows it's wrong.

Current health care and insurance chaos denies health care to millions of people in this country, and we have a lot of avoidable death as a result of our current system, as reported by non-partisan Reuters, providing factual information, not conservative paranoid crap:
(Reuters) - Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year -- one every 12 minutes -- in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday.
More than the number of people who die, the number of people who have their lives destroyed, the number of people who are economically severely harmed by our health care system before 'Obamacare' was huge.

From the WaPo back in 2009 when the right wing lies about Obamacare started:

New Study: Bankruptcy Tied To Medical Bills

By Sarah Lovenheim

Sixty-two percent of all bankruptcies filed in 2007 were linked to medical expenses, according to a nationwide study released today by the American Journal of Medicine. That's nearly 20 percentage points higher than that pool of respondents reported were connected to medical costs in 2001.

Of those who filed for bankruptcy in 2007, nearly 80 percent had health insurance. Respondents who reported having insurance indicated average expenses of just under $18,000. Respondents who filed and lacked insurance had average medical bills of nearly $27,000.

Since 2007, the number of Americans without insurance has increased and filing for bankruptcy has become more difficult due to more stringent laws, according to the report..

The authors of the study, David Himmelstein, Deborah Thorne, Elizabeth Warren and Steffie Woolhandler, say their findings "reflect the U.S. health care financing system is broken." Middle class families, they conclude, "frequently collapse under the strain of the health care system that treats physical wounds, but inflicts fiscal ones."

The Republicans have not come up with a single credible alternative to Obamacare, or any proposal that significantly improves the present system that is so clearly broken based on our poor delivery of expensive inferior care, based on the number of people dying without care who shouldn't die, and based on the number of people who are financially ruined and effectively destitute because of the cost of our health care system.  Pretty much every single Republican / Tea Party proposal relating to health care has been nothing but a sham that would benefit special interests and corporations.

Republicans talk about being the party of small government, but they institute the most wide-reaching intrusions between health care providers and patients this country has ever seen.  Republicans talk about being the party of freedom, but they mandate false medical information, medical malpractice style withholding of important information from patients by their doctors, and possibly the most egregious example of the right selling out people to corporations was this:

For Pennsylvania's Doctors, a Gag Order on Fracking Chemicals

By Climate Desk

Mar 27 2012, 9:05 AM ET116

A new provision could forbid the state's doctors from sharing information with patients exposed to toxic—and proprietary—fracking solutions.
Under a new law, doctors in Pennsylvania can access information about chemicals used in natural gas extraction -- but they won't be able to share it with their patients. A provision buried in a law passed last month is drawing scrutiny from the public health and environmental community, who argue that it will "gag" doctors who want to raise concerns related to oil and gas extraction with the people they treat and the general public.
Pennsylvania is at the forefront in the debate over "fracking," the process by which a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, sand, and water are blasted into rock to tap into the gas. Recent discoveries of great reserves in the Marcellus Shale region of the state prompted a rush to development, as have advancements in fracking technologies. But with those changes have come a number of concerns from citizens about potential environmental and health impacts from natural gas drilling.
"People are claiming that animals are dying and people are getting sick in clusters around [drilling wells], but we can't really study it because we can't see what's actually in the product."

There is good reason to be curious about exactly what's in those fluids. A 2010 congressional investigation revealed that Halliburton and other fracking companies had used 32 million gallons of diesel products, which include toxic chemicals like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, in the fluids they inject into the ground. Low levels of exposure to those chemicals can trigger acute effects like headaches, dizziness, and drowsiness, while higher levels of exposure can cause cancer.

Pennsylvania law states that companies must disclose the identity and amount of any chemicals used in fracking fluids to any health professional that requests that information in order to diagnosis or treat a patient that may have been exposed to a hazardous chemical. But the provision in the new bill requires those health professionals to sign a confidentiality agreement stating that they will not disclose that information to anyone else -- not even the person they're trying to treat.

"The whole goal of medical community is to protect public health," said David Masur, director of PennEnvironment. He worries that the threat of a lawsuit from a big industry player like Halliburton or ExxonMobil for violating a confidentiality agreement could scare doctors away from research on potential impacts in the state. "If anything, we need more concrete information. This just stifles another way the public could have access to information from experts."

The provision was not in the initial versions of the law debated in the state Senate or House in February; it was added in during conference between the two chambers, said State Senator Daylin Leach (D), which meant that many lawmakers did not even notice that this "broad, very troubling provision" had been added. "The importance of keeping it as a proprietary secret seems minimal when compared to letting the public know what chemicals they and their children are being exposed to," Leach told Mother Jones.

The limits on what doctors can say about those chemicals makes it impossible to either assuage or affirm the public's concerns about health impacts. "People are claiming that animals are dying and people are getting sick in clusters around [drilling wells], but we can't really study it because we can't see what's actually in the product," said Leach.

At the federal level, natural gas developers have long been allowed to keep the mixture of chemicals they use in fracking fluid a secret from the general public, protecting it as "proprietary information." The industry is exempt from the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory -- the program that ensures that communities are given information about what companies are releasing. In 2005 the industry successfully lobbied for an exemption from EPA regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act as well, in what is often referred to as the "Halliburton Loophole." The Obama EPA has pressed drillers to voluntarily provide more information about fracking fluids, but the industry has largely rebuffed those appeals.

The latest move in Pennsylvania has raised suspicions among the industry's critics once again. As Walter Tsou, president of the Philadelphia chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, put it, "What is the big secret here that they're unwilling to tell people, unless they know that if people found out what's really in these chemicals, they would be outraged?"

Yup, those big freedumb-talking right wingers CLAIM to be pro-life, but they sell out people to corporate interests in a heart beat, and too bad if you get sick and die.  You're FREE.  Yup, Free to get sick and die and not know why, in order to protect corporations.  You are free to be denied insurance, you are free to die when you could live, to be sick when you could be well, exclusively to protect corporate greed.  Why anyone would trust the right's position on health care and health care reform is inexplicable.  Such trust is irrational and emphatically ill deserved... emphasis on the ILL.

Want to bet that given the participation by big oil and big fracking interests behind this crony capitalism, that ALEC and especially the Koch Brothers might have a hand in this special interest legislation done in secret?  It sure sounds like their kind of legislative operation.  They can afford the corruption kind; and too many people cannot afford the medical kind.

This is what you get, the corruption you have when public office serves private interests rather than the public interest.

Guns and Bad Adult Judgment
Lives Depend On It

You have to question the judgment of these people, in how they permit the proximity of firearms around children.

Washington state has had no less than three shootings where children were harmed by guns that were not kept secure by adults using poor judgment; two of them were fatal, the third left a girl in critical condition recently.  One of the adults involved in the fatality of his own child through his negligence was a cop, who arguably should have known better than someone with less training.

But for pure stupid on the part of adults - and this involved another cop with an ostensibly unloaded gun - takes the cake for dangerous and irresponsible conduct, in which the church administrators and clergy share.  How many accidents every year involve guns that people believed were unloaded......except they weren't?  Fun and gun have a greater difference than one adjoining letter of the alphabet.  The lesson about religion was poorly conceived; the unintentional lesson that guns are for fake violence and playing at violence was worse, especially in a situation where the clear boundary line between fiction and fact are so deliberately blurred.

And then there is this incident where a 13 year old shot an adult instead of another child or himself. Video from Huff Po crime
I'm always struck by the insistence that everyone involved are 'good people'. The adults who let kids play with guns, the adults who leave guns and kids in cars unattended, the adults who shoot other adults for that matter.......there is always someone around to stupidly say "oh, they were GOOD people'. The rationale behind allowing the Shoot First law, and the lax carry permits - where any permit at all is required for firearms assumes everyone is GOOD PEOPLE. Except they so often prove otherwise.

Bloody Broken Nose? No.
Bruises? Not evident.
Injuries to the Back of head? No

So, courtesy of ABC, this cop shop video doesn't show the injuries that George Zimmerman's lawyer is claiming for him. A broken nose would be expected to swell up pretty quickly, and there is no appaernt bruising, cuts or scrapes to the back of his head either. For someone is a fight for his life, he seems to be moving pretty comfortably as well after the experience. Presumably someone will be "leaking" the content of the paramedic report any time now. Privacy appears to be a fragile concept, too expendable, given the provision to the press of Trayvon Martin's school disciplinary record, trivial as it was. I'm sure that Zimmerman's medical records will equally become grist for the media mills. Too bad the police didn't think to have any blood on Zimmerman checked to see who it belonged to - Zimmerman or Martin - along with a test which is apparently usual in homicides or potential homicides of checking the shooter for alcohol and/or drugs. This is doubly of interest given the previous instance of violence and alcohol in Zimmerman's past, and that he had been ordered to alcohol rehab as a result of that encounter with getting physical with a cop. From ABC news which did a crap job on logo placement, and who will, one hopes, be providing a better, cleaned up versoin soon of this. video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Victory for Women!

Sanity instead of medical malpractice being forced on women by conservative thugs elected to office!
From a recent email from the Center for Reproductive Rights:

The Center for Reproductive Rights Action Alert

When it comes to fighting for reproductive rights, there’s often no sweeter word than “unconstitutional.”
It’s sounding especially sweet today: A district court just struck down Oklahoma’s demeaning and invasive mandatory ultrasound law for being an “unconstitutional special law”—treating abortion differently from other medical procedures without justification.
Left unchallenged, this law would have forced a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, have the image placed in front of her, and hear it described in detail—even if she says NO.
But the Center for Reproductive Rights did challenge the law, and the fundamental rights of Oklahoma women have been rightfully protected by the courts. Today’s ruling resoundingly affirms what should not be a matter of controversy at all—that women have both a fundamental right to make their own choices about their reproductive health, and that government has no place in their decisions.
Similar laws in Texas and Virginia have illustrated the harm that results when these laws go into effect. Women feel humiliated, even bullied by their own doctors—and access to essential reproductive health care services is severely threatened.
Today’s decision means that Oklahoma women will not be subjected to this kind of treatment—and it adds to the growing momentum of a nationwide backlash against the overreaching of lawmakers hostile to women, their doctors, and their rights.
We still have a long road ahead of us in the battle to reclaim our reproductive rights—but today we celebrate and stand proudly with the women of Oklahoma.
When we work together, we can be victorious.
Thanks, as always, for all you do,
Nancy Northup
Nancy Northup
Nancy Northup
President & CEO
PS - The Center for Reproductive Rights has filed three lawsuits against ultrasound laws and is tracking 22 copycat bills. We are on the frontlines fighting in the courts because we all have a human right to dignity and health.

There is a larger relevance to the 22 copycat bills the Center for Reproductive Rights is following.
Not surprising, anytime you see the copycat (or as I've called it previously, cookie cutter legislation) like this from the right, you can pretty much expect that the secretive, special-interest / corporate-legislator-buying ALEC is in the mix somewhere. If you oppose legislation written outside your state being pushed in your state to benefit special interests and corporations hiding their identities from the legislative process......then YOU TOO OPPOSE ALEC, and entities that engage in illegal acts like voter suppression, funded by the Koch Brothers. Making that clear and well-outlined link between ALEC, and right wing legislation is the Sunlight  Foundation Reporting Group:
Virginia ultrasound law is the image of a few others By Ryan SibleyMar 07 20129:59 a.m.3 comments
Source: Sunlight Foundation; Guttmacher Institute
Source: Guttmacher Institute Updated March 7, 4;22 p.m.

The bill Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed Wednesday requiring women in his state to undergo ultrasound screening before they can proceed with an abortion represents the latest victory for anti-abortion activists pushing to get similar legislation enacted nationwide. Seven states already have laws on the books requiring pre-abortion ultrasound screening, according to Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group that focuses on reproductive health policy. At least 18 more states are considering similar bills. Above is a map showing states that either have or are considering ultrasound legislation, including states that have legislation but are considering further changes. Light purple states are those that have already enacted legislation; medium purple are states where legislation is under consideration. Dark purple states have laws on the books but are considering changes. Among the states that have already passed ultrasound legislation, some are attempting to expand the provisions. The Oklahoma state legislature, for example, is considering a bill that will mandate the woman considering an abortion listen to the sound of the fetus' heartbeat as well as look at images of it. Kristi Hamrick, a spokesman for the anti-abortion Americans United for Life, confirmed that the group authored a model bill, titled “The Woman’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act” that appears to have been the inspiration for a number of the bills currently under consideration. A Sunlight Foundation analysis that uses technology called SuperFastMatch shows the AUL bill has instances of text matching with all 13 bills to which we compared it. Of course, some bills show much more overlap than others. Matching instances run from a low of one to a high of 29. Given that ultrasound bills enacted by two states -- Oklahoma and Louisiana -- are on hold while they are challenged in court, an even more popular model may turn out to be a Texas ultrasound law that was upheld in January by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Sunlight's analysis using SuperFastMatch shows that the Texas bill shares multiple instances of identical text with 12 of the 13 bills to which it was compared, including Virginia. Our analysis also showed text overlaps between the Texas bill and the model bill written by Americans United for Life. SuperFastMatch, an automated textual analysis, identified overlaps in text in multiple ultrasound bills, but also found cases where entire passages were replicated. In some cases an entire passage was replicated across bills with exception of one word, such as the use of “that” instead of “which,” causing the technology to overlook those instances and not count them as matches. When that occurs, it takes the work of a human to point out that that passage is in indeed the same. An example of this is below, with the single distinguishing word in each passage boldfaced: Alabama SB12: MEDICAL EMERGENCY. A condition which, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions. No condition shall be deemed a medical emergency if based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. Oklahoma SB1274 "Medical emergency" means a condition that, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman that it necessitates the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which the delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions. No condition shall be deemed a medical emergency if based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. Sometimes the similarities between bills are immediately obvious, like the case of AUL’s model bill and the bills being considered in Alabama and Pennsylvania. All three have a similar title: The model bill is titled “The Woman’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act”, while the Alabama and Pennsylvania bills are titled, “The Right to Know and See Act” and the “Women’s Right to Know Act, respectively. The 13 bills that Sunlight ran through SuperFastMatch are: • Alabama SB12 • Alaska SB191 • Illinois HB4085 • Iowa HF2033 • Kentucky SB103 • Michigan SB150 • Mississippi HB1107 • New Jersey S231 • Ohio HB125 • Oklahoma SB1274 • Pennsylvania HB1077 • South Carolina H3026 • Virginia HB462 Model legislation appeared on the country’s radar last year after the work of two left-wing organizations revealed the entire catalog of model bills curated by the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC). According to the AUL website, members of the anti-abortion organization attended the 2010 ALEC conference to network with state legislators and promote their model bills.

For those who aren't familiar with the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, it is part of the larger Sunlight Foundation.  this excerpt provides more information and context  From their 'about' section:

About Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group

The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group is part of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based organization that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable.
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Dirty Election Tricks: Canadian Conservatives Use U.S. Republican Tactics

If they cheat to get elected, how can you expect those people from that kind of a party to give you honest government?  Clearly, you can't expect honest government, and the conservatives who do it won't deliver it to you - and neither will those who don't engage in corruption, but still are perfectly willing to work with the manifestly corrupt people in their party.
As it becomes clear to the Republicans that they face low turnouts and lower voter interest in many of their candidates, and as their 2010 majorities slip away in recall elections, I expect to see more of the kind of voter suppression and illegal activities from conservatives like those over the border to our north....what you might call the not-so-true north.
Canada is facing protests over the validity of last year's elections, citing unprecedented levels of 'American REPUBLICAN style dirty tricks' that could invalidate the election of politicians from the Prime Minister on down:
Second Rally to Protest Voter Suppression in 2011 Federal Election

TMTVNEWS.COM, Nelson BC Canada --- (submitted)

In response to Democracy Canada’s call for a second day of action to protest voter suppression in last year’s federal election, concerned citizens in Nelson will be meeting on Saturday, March 31, at 12:00 at City Hall. The previous day of action on March 11 saw people from 32 cities in Canada converge to call for a public inquiry into the robo-call affair.
Jean-Pierre Kingsley, a former chief electoral officer at Elections Canada, has called the scope of the illegal robo-calls unprecedented and says that jail time should definitely be considered if the allegations can be proven. The allegations must be dealt with swiftly and transparently because they erode our democracy and cast real doubt on the legitimacy of the Conservative’s claim to a majority government. Regardless of who might be behind the scandal, protecting democracy is a non-partisan issue.

Thirty-one thousand Canadians have reported irregularities in the last election, and 700 incidents are under investigation by Elections Canada. While some like to portray the misleading robo-calls as trivial and characteristic of the dirty tricks that all politicians take part in, harassing voters at odd hours of the day or night and deliberately misleading voters by telling them to go to incorrect or non-existent polling stations is not a case of politics as usual. Harassing voters and misleading them are voter suppression techniques and they are unjust and illegal.

According to a recent Postmedia News poll, 75 per cent of Canadians support a call for an independent inquiry with judicial powers to look into the robo-call affair. Prime Minister Harper has countered by saying that Elections Canada is invested by law to investigate and must continue in its role. But Elections Canada will not obtain all of its promised new investigative powers for at least another six months, when required legislation might be passed. Moreover, Canadians have seen with the in-and-out fraud of 2006 how seriously and for what length of time Elections Canada can become bogged down in acrimonious litigation, right up to the Supreme Court. For these reasons, Canadians need a public inquiry into the Robocall fraud, and we need it today.
I am ashamed that it is the tricks used by Republicans and other conservatives in my country that were used.  THESE are those same people who claim they are so concerned about the security and purity of our elections that they need to force through any way they can voter ID laws.  Those laws don't make elections more secure, but they DO make it more difficult specifically for voters they target as likely to be opposition voters, and generally they prevent large groups of people who can legally vote, but who they believe won't vote for THEM from casting their ballots at all.
Over and over, those in Canada who engaged in this, their conservative party, suggest this is just normal politics  the way conservatives do it south of their borders.  It is illegal there, and it is illegal here.  New laws or new constitutional amendments wouldn't change that it is the REPUBLICANS, it is the CONSERVATIVES - those dirty people who like to give lip service to religion and 'family values' and talk up morality - that are doing this, over and over, in place after place, to win elections. 
In Maryland it led to arrests, convictions and jail time.  It was widely reported in last year's Wisconsin elections from a Koch Brothers funded entity.  The Koch Brothers have their hands in a lot of what is arguably corrupt organizations, from robo-calling front groups to ALEC.
Every time a conservative politician or other spokesperson, like right wing bloggers, make the patently demonstrably false statement that elections have been stolen from the right, every time you DON'T see them making mention of the numerous efforts on the right to rig elections - from the Indiana Secretary of State, the person RESPONSIBLE for honest elections, being arrested and convicted for voter fraud, perjury and other crimes, or the Maryland conviction for voter suppression by the Republican candidate's campaign, or the misinformation mass mailings from Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Koch brothers, and robo calls directing people to vote at the wrong place and /or on the wrong day.

If there is any question that this is organized, well funded CONSERVATIVE voter suppression and election fraud either here  or in Canada, this is evidence to the contrary, from conservative political operatives to conservative bloggers (emphasis added in large, bold other than title, and underline are mine - DG):
UVic professor claims voter suppression promoted at conservative campaign school

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shame on you Minnesota (Senate)

On Friday, the Minnesota Senate pushed through a bill requiring a specified photo-ID be presented to vote. 
This bill is a big-government solution without a problem. In 2010, after a Republican temper tantrum over their candidate losing the Senatorial race to Al Franken, they launched pointless extensive, epensive investigation into alleged cases of fraud.  After spending a lot of money,  the cases they claimed demonstrated fraud were dismissed with only a couple of cases that were caught by the checks and balances in place, and a few cases of felons who voted with chaotic corrections department paperwork that was ambiguous as to their status.  The number of cases of actual voter fraud in any decade, but particularly as tracked since 2000 doesn't support the conservative belief that they are losing elections because of fraud.  In some cases, counties to conduct the investigation sought by the conservatives who were absolutely convinced they were robbed required the hiring of one or two additional full time people, just to satisfy their paranoia.  Minnesota has long been studied as the example among specialists in electoral law for our clean elections.  Only the low information paranoiacs on the far right believed otherwise, but they disrupted more important activities that better used tax dollars for their unsupported IDEA, a fantasy.
They were and are simply being poor losers who can't accept they didn't persuade the electorate fair and square. 
This is the same party that didn't accept the governor's race recount despite being down by nearly 9,000 votes, and that disregarded the costs of their side of the recount, stiffing counties with unpaid bills.  That hand recount only served to show the insistence in spite of all the objective evidence to the contrary that our election system works, and works well.  That is the same party that could not find enough people to participate for their side in the previus hand recounts of 2008 and 2010, and who consistently cannot field enough people to serve as election judges - the people they want to do all the extra checking that will slow down voting, and make it more inefficient.  If people were discouraged under our model system from voting, if we make it take longer and be harder, there will be fewer people of any political persuasion willing to do their civic duty - either voting or serving as an election judge - not more.
This should concern the Republicans who are facing a disastisfied and apathetic base of voters, as demonstrated by the low number of people turning out for primaries across the country, not just in Minnesota. The number of Republicans participating is lower than 2010 AND lower than 2008; lower by a LOT of people.  So this is the wrong time for Republicans, even acting in their own self interest, to  be proposing this legislation.
They love the idea, they love spending tax payers money, but they don't care enough to show up and participate in actually conducting an election as an election judge.  That reality wouldn't fit with their FEAR about how voting really works.

So much for the small fiscally responsible government party.
So much for less intrusive government.
So much for participatory democracy.

The ACTUAL findings of the state-wide investigation for the 2008 election were that there were 47 cases of voting fraud, 43 of which were committed by felons who, mostly, didn't know they weren't allowed to vote.  Hennepin County District Attorney Mike Freeman stated, regarding these cases,
" the voter fraud cases represent a tiny fraction of all ballots cast in the 2008 general election, which is when President Barack Obama was elected. He also said that despite the charges, investigators didn't find evidence of people working together to commit voter fraud. 
There was no organized or coordinated effort to induce improper voting. There was no involvement of any campaign or any candidate. And there were no cases charged of non-citizens improperly voting," Freeman said.    
In Minnesota, the county attorneys are responsible for prosecuting voter fraud in their jurisdiction.  County Attorneys are elected, and the Minnesota County Attorneys Association (MCAA) is bi-partisan, reflecting that cross section of elected officials.  In a 2010 report, in response to the Republican unfounded hysteria, this report was generated by the bi-partisan MCAA:
The Minnesota County Attorneys Association’s (MCAA) executive director John Kingrey says Minnesota Majority’s reports of massive voter fraud in the 2008 election were “widely overstated” and “frivolous,” adding that the conservative group’s demands of those investigating suspected voter fraud were draining county public safety resources.
MCAA was at a press conference last week where a report was released that showed voter fraud in Minnesota is extremely rare. The report’s authors, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota and the Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA), said the report demonstrates that government-issued voter identification is unnecessary.
MCAA’s Kingrey said that Minnesota Majority sent county attorneys’ offices information last year alleging widespread fraud in the 2008 election. He said the “the drumbeat continued” when the Republican Party of Minnesota backed up Minnesota Majority’s claims and then counties were served with an order by KSTP-TV to retain absentee ballots from the 2008 election.
“County attorneys take voter fraud very seriously; there is no discretion for county attorneys in this manner,” Kingrey said. Minnesota Majority produced a list of more than 1,000 names of Minnesotans that they suspected of illegal voting.
“The list generated wildly overstated the number of felons that voted,” said Kingrey. “Many actually were legal voters; they were allowed to vote under Minnesota statute.”
He continued, “This matter has taken up considerable prosecutor and law enforcement involvement and resources at a time of dwindling budgets. It also impacts the strapped budgets of our public defenders and the courts as well.”
He added, “Our priority must remain public safety. The diversion of resources to investigate frivolous reports of voter fraud causes nothing to protect public safety.”
He said that several counties in the Twin Cities area had to hire new staff to deal with Minnesota Majority’s lists.
That is the reality, contrary to the extremist right winger's fantasy that is not factually substantiated, an ugly disenfranchising fantasy on which they would try to enact a constitutional amendment.
One case of abuse of absentee ballot voting was found, in Anoka, from 2008, and that was caught and prosecuted by the system already in place, not voter ID.  That case was not about a candidate or a party conspiring to rig an election, much less a case of democrats "stealing" an election; it was about an overactive 'helicopter' mom going too far on behalf of her daughter:
In a statement, Nyhammer said she was the mother of the 19-year-old woman and allegedly admitted that she had completed the absentee ballot for her daughter and voted absentee on her daughter’s behalf because Nyhammer did not think her daughter would be voting in Mankato.
None of these rare cases of voter fraud would have been prevented by Voter ID.  Over-eager mom had to pay $200 in court costs, and was placed on probation for a year because she is not a threat to either the security or the purity of the electoral process in Minnesota.
Secretary of State Ritchie has made a counterproposal that would be more effective and less costly for voter identification, and which would not disadvantage certain groups the conservatives expect to vote for democratic candidates, but they reject that proposal even though it is significantly better and non-partisan.  Better voting and cleaner more secure elections is NOT their goal.  From the PiPress:

Dayton, Ritchie offer 'poll book' as voter-ID alternative By Doug Belden
Posted: 03/08/2012 12:01:00 AM CST Updated: 03/08/2012 11:05:43 PM CST

As a bill asking Minnesotans to amend the state constitution so voters would be required to show a photo ID began its way through the House on Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie unveiled an alternative they say would be faster, cheaper and less likely to disenfranchise voters.
With an electronic "poll book," eligible voters who have lost an ID or no longer carry one could come to the polling place and have their electronic information pulled up from state records, Ritchie said.

He said about 84,000 Minnesota voters don't carry photo ID, but in many cases, they would have photos in the state drivers' database. For those who don't, another ID could be scanned in or a photo could be taken at the polling place. "We would not be disenfranchising anybody and we would not be breaking the bank," Ritchie said.
The rare  number of cases of voter fraud, and the kinds of cases, aligns well with studies from other states, Ohio in 2004, and Oregon in 2000, where independent studies found voting fraud incidence at .006% and .0009% of the electorate. Essentially, the incidence of fraud was rare enough to be effectively non-existent. The number for Minnesota was 47 out of 2,107021 votes cast (for Governor), or .002% of all votes. So, the evidence, the ACTUAL facts, that which you are asked to provide in court, that which you must explain in the scientific method, simply does not support that the US, nor any state within it, has some sort of rampant, election changing, problem with voting.  There is no evidence to show there is a problem and there is no logic or evidence to show that this solution would fix the tiny problem of felons voting that were discovered.  Those were not a problem with people pretending to vote as someone else, they were a problem with corrections records.
The reason they aren't seen as necessary, as opined by the Brennan Center for Justice, among others, is that voting fraud is an illogical act unless it can be highly coordinated AND assured to be effective. In short, why risk 10 years in prison to miscast 1 (or 10) vote(s) among 2 million? It isn't logical, and therefore, isn't done. To create a larger pool of fraudulent votes would require the assistance of dozens if not hundreds of people, and doing so would risk any of those people being caught, or simply coming forward to tell the truth, then or at any point in time later. Again, there simply is no evidence that such activity has gone on, not in any great number - again there were 3 votes fraudulently cast in 2010 by people whom we can be pretty certain meant to do so. Consequently, it has been long held as well established that it isn't necessary to restrict access to the poles quite simply because there is no interest or compelling reason to try to abuse them. Our system of checks of registration needs updating, but people aren't off creating busloads of people to go fake registrations - it's just too risky.
The flip-side though, e.g. making voting easier, IS part of the core of democracy. For tens, if not hundreds, of years, we Americans, we shining beacon on the hill, grasped that being inclusive in allowing everyone to vote who was of the appropriate age, and who had been in the country long enough to have an opinion, was a grand, supreme ideal. If a handful of nefarious people abused that system, they'd be drowned out by the vast chorus of the overwhelming voice of the people who would stand in opposition to their position OR, if the people backed the same position, then their nefarious acts would be purposeless, merely adding a few votes to a huge number.
We believed that voting was such a fundamental right that we overturned Jim Crowe laws, poll taxes, and the like because free and unfettered access to self-determination quite simply trumped worries about cheating. The only cheating we actually saw, in fact, was when the wealthy paid people who would otherwise not have voted, to vote for their (the rich and powerful's) platform. We DID pass laws against paying people for votes, but that wasn't curtailing access, it was to ensure people voted with their hearts, for that which THEY wanted, rather than what someone gave them money to support. In the end, we appeared to have decided that we'd far prefer to have 100,000 MORE people vote, and have a few slugs cheat, than stop or impare those 100,000 from voting much like we say we'd rather have 100 guilty men go free than jail one innocent man. We didn't want to "jail" the rights of 100,000 innocent people, to catch 47 guilty.
Or, so it was. Until now... So, some more facts..The Brennan Center for Justice, the law review of the prestigious NY University Law School, estimates requiring voters to go get photo ID's, requiring them to ensure they have it on them when they vote, and the validation requirements these bills bring along with them, will disenfranchise (stop from voting) about 5% of the entire electorate. In Minnesota in 2010, roughly 2 Million people voted. This bill, if the Brennan Center is right, will stop 100,000 Minnesotans who would have otherwise voted, from voting. Even if The Brennan Center is off by a factor of 10, and only 1/10 that number are dissuaded from voting, it will still stop 10,000 people from voting. It will stop them because people already find voting to be something of a chore, it's on a Tuesday (no good reason other than we started there), they have to take time away from work or find someone to watch the kids, and so on, if you put another obstacle out there, then the attitude for some will be, "why bother", as so many already believe. Our goal shouldn't be to create further ambivalence toward being involved in our country's future, it should be to breathe fire and life into their desires to be self-determined, if not, we might as well turn the keys over to a king or queen, or more correctly in our case, to the plutocrats who already control much of our government with their vast campaign cash.
The Brennan Center has also offered opinion by various experts that in fact the 5% of the people who won't bother to vote, or who will be turned away will be disproportionately poor and/or elderly. The poor because they may not chose to spend their scant dollars on new Id's, the elderly because finding decades old documents to get an ID, when they've let their driver's license expire, may be well nigh impossible. And this, ladies and gents, in the end is the aim of the authors.
The Republicans claim they think there is rampant fraud, but clearly they can see the evidence isn't their. So, either they believe something despite a virtually total lack of proof, a fool's belief at best, or their aim is to discourage voters, and not just voters, but a certain block of voters. Why would they do that? Why would these self-appointed small government, low regulation champions (HA!!!) seek to enact sweeping, restrictive laws making it more challenging for some people to vote, and thus reduce the likelihood they'd vote?
Well, I suspect you can guess, but here's the opinion of experts, they are doing so quite frankly because it will benefit them. Those who will be less likely to vote are MORE likely to vote Democratic (and NO, I'm not saying all poor vote for Democrats or all elderly do, but that the percentages of those least likely to be able to afford the ID or to find paperwork, generally tip toward Democrats).
So the irony is that these Republicans, these champions of our constitutional ideals, intend, in order to "protect the integrity" of a system which is not questioned as being highly reliable, they intend to suppress votes. They not only want to stop fraudulent voting, but in bill after bill across the country have also proposed doing away with early voting, something which has propelled states like Oregon to the highest levels of voter participation in the country. They want to do away with same day registration, they want to limit absentee voting. This isn't about fraud, it's about suppressing votes.
For many years I've heard complaints, from the left and the right, about what a shame it is that so few people vote, especially in off-year elections. They complain about the ambivalence of voters. We, as a nation and as a government, spend money encouraging people to exercise their rights, and this, this would do exactly the opposite, it would and will discourage people, will make them MORE ambivalent, not less, will make it more likely, not less, that they will not vote. If for no other reason than that, we should not do this. But worse, it will block at least many hundreds who TRY to vote, from voting, maybe many tens of thousands, all to stop 47.
There is shame here on the Minnesota Senators who voted for this ineffective, ham-handed sham. There frankly is no greater threat to democracy than to begin restricting the right of the people to vote and thus be self-determined. Well, except for the other threat, that threat being the ambivalence of those who sit idly by and watch it happen. In truth, those who should be most ashamed aren't the Senators, but instead all of us rank-and-file Minnesotans who put these snake-oil salesmen (and women) into office in 2010. We over-reacted when President Obama and the Democrats couldn't undo in 2 years what Bush and the 'caveat emptor'-no regulation Republicans allowed to transpire in the preceding eight. We foolishly put those same snake-oil salesman back in office and what we've gotten is "Stand Your Ground" legislation allowing anyone with a gun to shoot first and claim self-defense later, and proposed amendment to our constitution after amendment when Republicans can't get past Dayton's veto. They want to side-step the process, make irrelevant the governor's office when they can't win fair and square, and rule by tyranny of the majority, preventing gays from having equal rights under the law, and worst of all, to try to fool the electorate into believing that this bill will actually stop fraud and won't harm the ideal of allowing nearly everyone to vote.
It's ultimately up to you, the voter to decide what you want. Do you want to make it more difficult to vote, probably causing 100,000 to stay away or be prevented from voting in order to stop 47 cases of fraud? Or do you want to stand up against the rich and powerful who sponsor these kinds of bills, knowing they are bad policy, and protect the basic rights of Americans and with it, the wholly American ideal that we protect the rights of the innocent first and against any worries about the acts of the guilty? Will you let hope and belief in the goodness of the average American rule your view, or will you succumb to unproven, unwarranted fear?

Update on Recall Scheduling

The dates are set!  Let the campaigning commence!
Two states which are like Minnesota, in having northern borders with Canada, in having Republican majorities which have been destructively polarizing, are Michigan and Wisconsin.  Both of those states have recall options built into their government. I'm undecided if that would be a good course of action for Minnesota to follow, but it makes a heckuva lot more sense than any of the Constitutional Amendments the Republicans in Minnesota are putting on the ballot for November 2012.
Here is an update from Ballot News, an excellent non-partisan site that generally does a very good job of being unbiased.  In addition to accessing the specific article through the link, readers can access it through the listing on our blog roll at any time; our blog roll is on the lower left column alongside our posts.  (There is a small blurb on a successful recall of an Arizona extremist, included for interest; the same nut job is running again in the November 2012 Arizona elections.)


The Wisconsin State Senate finished its work for the year on Thursday, the last day scheduled for passing bills, after meeting for less than an hour. The Assembly, however, did not adjourn until late Friday after Democrats held a 30-hour long filibuster over a bill that would have dissolved the Milwaukee Area Technical College board. Democrats returned to the floor at 3 a.m. on Friday, giving speeches and interrupting GOP attempts to adjourn until Republicans finally agreed late in the afternoon to reappoint the current members of the MATC board.[9]
The contentious end of the two-year long session was just the latest in a long line of partisan fighting that began in February 2011 when Gov. Scott Walker (R) introduced his budget repair bill which limited collective bargaining rights, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees. Also noteworthy was the passage of a bill allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons and one to require photo ID at the polls, which Democrats argued was unconstitutional.[10] Last week a circuit court judge agreed with Democrats, issuing a permanent injunction against the Voter ID measure.[11]
The end of the session saw a firestorm over a mining reform bill aimed at getting Florida-based Gogebic Taconite to open an iron mine in northwestern Wisconsin, creating hundreds of jobs. Republicans were unable to amass the necessary number of votes when Sen. Dale Schultz (R) sided with Democrats against the bill. Schultz and Democrat Bob Jauch are being targeted for possible recall over their opposition to the bill, while Republican leaders are said to be considering a special session to try and get the measure passed.[12]


Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled.


Former state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) became the first legislator to be removed in state history when voters recalled him from office last November. Up till now he has not made his future plans clear, but that could change today – Pearce is speaking at an event where many expect him to announce a campaign for state Senate. Following redistricting, Pearce was moved from the 18th to the 25th District – if he does chose to run that could set up a primary between Pearce and current Republican incumbent Rich Crandall.[13]


2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns are continuing on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) are aiming for the August 2012 ballot.


Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senatorsPam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard.[14] Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012.
Last week was a busy one – on Monday the board dismissed all of the challenges submitted by the senators against the petitions, voting unanimously to order recalls against all four.[15] On Tuesday, GAB received an extension on their deadline to certify the results, giving them until March 30. The following day Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess signed an agreement scheduling primaries for May 8 with general elections on June 5. If there is no primary the general election takes place on May 8.[16]
The Senate wrapped up their 2012 session on Thursday[17], and on Friday Sen. Galloway announced she was resigning her seat, effective the following day, but said it had to do with her family and not the recall. GAB said the recall will continue as scheduled and Republicans are now seeking a candidate to take Galloway’s place.[18]
Meanwhile, conservative group Citizens for Responsible Government said they are going forward with plans to recall senators Dale Schultz (R) and Bob Jauch (D) who both worked to reject a compromise on a bill aiming to increase the speed of the state’s approval for iron ore mines. CRG is expected to announce more details about their plans today.[19]