Sunday, August 10, 2014

Republicans Propose Gerrymandered Districts To Replace Gerrymandered Districts

Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.
If you have never seen the text above don't feel bad.  Apparently the Republicans in Florida never did either.  Above is the constitutional amendment Floridian voters overwhelmingly approved four years ago during the 2010 midterm elections.  In response to the new constitutional amendment calling for geographically compact and demographically balanced districts, state Republicans, with the aid of lobbyists and political operatives, redrew Florida's congressional districts to maximize Republican votes.

How did they do this?

They carved out every minority neighborhood and democratic stronghold from Orlando to Jacksonville - a 200 mile "compact" stretch.  And don't forget college town Gainesville.  All these areas were shoved into one single "safe" Democratic district held by Corrine Brown, effectively making several other "safe" Republican districts.

These gerrymandered districts were called out by a federal judge in July as being blatant power grabs by the majority party and ordered them redrawn.  So what did Republicans do?

Virtually nothing.

While they gave Brown's "safe" district a little more conservative voters and added some minority neighborhoods to Daniel Webster's conservative district, they also took away a huge swath of Osceola, an area that is 47.8 percent Hispanic (25%of the population being Puerto Ricans), from his district, so essentially the only change was making Corrine Brown's district a little less "safe" while maintaining every adjoining Republican district.

How are these districts constitutional?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Supreme Court Decisions - Unions Could Use The New Ruling To Unload The Free-loaders

Earlier this week the Supreme Court of the United States released two controversial rulings that seemingly flew in the face of hundreds of years of legal precedence, as well as past rulings from the conservative justices currently sitting on the court. 

In one case, Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, the so-called "religious" closely-held company decided that since Barack Obama won election and passed his signature health care law they all of a sudden opposed certain provisions that they previously had no problem covering. Their argument: claim the new law violated their religious convictions as a corporation and that abiding by the neutral and beneficial law would cause an undue hardship on their ability to be good religious what-nots. The conservative justices ignored all the hypocrisy, such as the fact that the corporation used scientifically-debunked data to claim birth control was "abortifacients," that despite opposing the birth control mandate the sincerely religious corporation invested money for another employee benefit (401k) into the corporations that produce previously mentioned birth control, and that prior to the passage of the law the religiousness of the corporation did not conflict with providing the birth control in states that required coverage.  This ruling has also led to such "religious" companies to drop birth control coverage because they believe birth control is murder, like Trijicon, Inc., the firearms aiming systems manufacturer.

That is right.  A company that designs tools to improve killing is upset about covering medicines for their employees because they believe those medicines equate to killing.


The other case was Harris v. Quinn, which ruled that the First Amendment prevents unions from collecting  dues from workers who do not wish to associate or support those unions, despite benefiting from the bargaining conducted by the union.  While I can understand the rationale behind this ruling, I have one huge gripe about it - the conservative justices have no problem extending First Amendment protections to workers (so long as those workers oppose unions) and corporations, but extending those protections to a union?


The reason for a union collecting agency fees from workers who do not wish to join but benefit from the bargaining is that the law requires a union to represent everyone despite not everyone wanting to join.  If a union has to represent a worker regardless then there is no incentive for a worker to join - they can sit back and reap the benefits.  The Supreme Court said this is okay, because forcing someone to pay the union violates their right to freely associate with anyone they want.

This is where the unions may be able to benefit from this ruling.  They could also claim that by having to represent the free-loaders they (as in the workers who have decided to unionize and become a collective force) are being forced to associate with those who wish to ride on their coattails.  If unions were freed to only represent those who join, they could negotiate better terms for their members while those workers who believe they would fare better if they negotiated on their wold be free to do so, and enjoy their reduced benefits and wages as a result.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Marco Rubio's Memorial Day Advertising

Tell me if this fundraising ad from Marco Rubio's Reclaim America PAC is in bad taste:

First of all, what is "happy" about the observation and remembrance of those who have dedicated and sacrificed their lives for this nation?  Memorial Day is not just another occasion to have a 3-day weekend and barbecue, or in Rubio's world, an opportunity to fund-raise off of the deaths of service men and women. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Why Obama's Federal Pay Executive Order Doesn't Matter

President Obama has recently caused Republicans to scream and throw a tantrum regarding his State of the Union address calling for action and the use of executive orders to find solutions around Congress's inaction, more specifically his latest promise to issue an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 per hour to just over $10 ($10.10 to be exact).

Why does the hysteria from conservatives not matter at all?

Ignoring the fact that Obama has issued much, much less executive orders than his last few Republican counterparts, a simple comparison can be made between an executive order made by his predecessor George W. Bush over a decade ago (and more than once) and Obama's December 23rd, 2013 executive order issuing a 1 percent raise to federal workers.  

Executive Order 13282, titled "Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay," was issued December 31st, 2002.  It dealt with federal pay.

Executive Order 13655, titled "Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay," was issued December 23rd, 2013.  It too dealt with federal pay.

The only difference was that when George W. Bush used his executive power to increase the rate of pay for federal workers Republicans did not weep for the death of the Constitution.