Ten years after: grim and getting worse

Ten years ago, in January 2010, the Supreme Court released its disastrous Citizens United decision. The court, either through remarkable naivety or sheer malevolence, essentially married the terrible idea that “money is speech” to the terrible idea that “corporations are people.”

The ruling put a for sale sign on our democracy, opening up a flood of corporate, special interest, and even foreign money into our politics.

Through Citizens United and related decisions, the Court made a bad situation worse. We saw the proliferation of super PACs, which can accept and spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, and the rise of dark money, which is undisclosed political spending that can come from any special interest, including foreign countries.

In the 10 years since the decision, there’s been $4.5 billion in political spending by outside interest groups, compared to $750 million spent in the 20 years prior to the case.

From 2000-2008, there were only 15 federal races where outside spending exceeded candidate spending. In the same amount of time following Citizens United, this occurred in 126 races. Now, almost half of all outside spending is dark money that has no or limited disclosure of its donors.

That money isn’t coming from the farmers suffering through Donald Trump’s trade war or the fast-food workers fighting for a living wage. It’s coming from the wealthiest donors, people often with very different priorities than the majority of Americans. In fact, a full one-fifth of all super PAC donations in the past 10 years have come from just 11 people.

This has led to an unresponsive and dysfunctional government. With so many politicians in the pockets of their big donors, it’s been even harder to make progress on issues like gun safety, health care costs, or climate change.

Not to mention, we’re left with the most corrupt president in American history, who’s embroiled in a series of scandals that threaten our prosperity, safety, and security.

To name just a few of these scandals: Trump urged a foreign country to investigate his political opponents. His lawyer’s “associates” funneled money into Trump’s super PAC through a sham corporation. The National Rifle Association spent tens of millions of dollars in unreported “dark” money to elect him while allegedly serving as a Russian asset.

Trump and his accomplices should be held accountable, through congressional impeachment, the judicial process, or both. But we also need meaningful anti-corruption reforms.

Thanks to a class of reformers elected in 2018, we’ve already begun that process. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act (H.R. 1).

H.R. 1 would strengthen ethics rules and enforcement; reduce the influence of big money while empowering individual, small-dollar donors; and, along with a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act, protect every American’s right to vote. It also calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Sadly, this bill is being blocked by Mitch McConnell in the Senate.

These reforms are all popular with the American people. We can unrig the system and restore that faith by fighting for these priorities, and by pressuring elected officials to act. Join groups like End Citizens United or Let America Vote to push back against our rigged system and put people ahead of corporate special interests.

Together, we can restore trust in government, prevent corruption, strengthen our national security, and ensure Washington truly works for the people.

 

 

from Times-Standard by Tiffany Muller
Tiffany Muller is the president of End Citizens United. Follow her at @Tiffany_Muller. 

 

PG&E has no credibility

PG&E photo

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) (The CAISO runs the grid in California).  issued a Transmission Emergency notice for Northern California a PG&E spokesperson said. “This is the lowest emergency level,” “It is declared for any event threatening or limiting transmission grid capability, including line or transformer overloads or loss. Yet the power was shut off for most of Humboldt County for over six hours or more.

PG&E blames weather for the widespread outage. Except the storm with high winds past before midnight the heavy snow and rain had eased off hours before the 5:30 am countywide sudden outage.

Large swaths of Humboldt County lost power for an extended period of time on Friday in an outage event that the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. attributed to storm conditions and snowfall. PG&E claimed The Humboldt area has experienced severe weather conditions this week, including heavy snowfall. Snow is 6- to 7-feet deep in some locations, plus there is fog this morning. The local National Weather Service office politely called BS calling such an estimate excessive. Meteorologist Alex Dodd said Friday the highest levels of snowfall were closer to three feet, and those at very high elevations,….

It’s true that meteorologists had clocked strong wind speeds, estimating 30-to-40 mile-per-hour gusts in certain areas with a peak gust of 60 miles-per-hour in strength. But that was Thursday afternoon and evening the power was shut down at 5:30 am.

It’s hard to believe anything PG&E says.

Matthew Owen’s Terra Gen BS

Matthew in the Middle diatribe –(with our comments)
Humboldt County’s closed for business (Corporate exploitation)

When Rex Bohn was first running for County Supervisor in 2012 he had a great tagline, “I wanna make Humboldt County open for business.” (usually resource extraction) Sadly, that ended this past Tuesday when the Terra-Gen Humboldt Wind Energy Project was voted down 3-2 by the Board of Supervisors and with it, the chance of any major businesses with jobs (15 permanent jobs filled from out of the area) and tax revenues coming to Humboldt County. Said Supervisor Bohn, “If this project gets voted down, we won’t see any similar proposition come along for quite a while because of fear of the unknown.” (there is always another corporate profiteer waiting to exploit us)

Thank you to the two county supervisors along with the city of Eureka (the city supported early without knowing any specifics about this boondoggle), who sent a letter of support for standing up for progress. (business as usual) However, elections have consequences and when you elect an environmentalist and a Regressive,(takes one to know one) how did you think they were gonna vote? Unfortunately, Supervisor Sungnome (Steve) Madrone had his marching orders and made up his mind before the meeting even started. I’m curious if he drove a fossil-fueled car to these meetings and if he has solar panels on his home? (more classic “whataboutism” from the real regressive, Matthew) You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.

Right now, I’ll bet the Norwegian fish farm and any other projects looking at Humboldt County are sweating. (as they should be)  If you were a rapidly growing business, would you want to expand to Humboldt County? Nevada, Texas and numerous other states open their arms wide to attract new businesses that bring jobs and much needed tax revenues. (great comparison Nevada and Texas, no thanks) Not Humboldt County. Back in the early 2000s, former Eureka City Councilmember Chris Kerrigan fought the Starbucks drive-through because “it wasn’t appropriate for our community.” (it still isn’t) When does this madness stop? (it obviously hasn’t, with the construction of the new burger mall on broadway)

Unfortunately, this was Saul Alinsky 101 “mob rules” tactics. (another tired neocon trope)

Those who show at public meetings up with the most bodies and yell and scream the loudest win. Sad. I’ve heard that county staff that was followed out to the parking lot by angry protesters with signs who threatened them. (classic fox news, “some people say”) Borderline criminal and uncalled for. I know they’re gonna say, “We won, so the ends justify the means.” Really? (nobody on the left ever gets threaten or jailed right Matthew?)

I felt sorry for the blue-collar union representatives that were booed and hissed at for supporting this project. (they had been 150% against it until they switch sides and sold out) Terra-Gen would have created over (temporary) 300 local union jobs and also (maybe) facilitated restarting an apprenticeship program. It would have been huge for our local unions. (maybe for the two unions that broke ranks and soldout)

I’m waiting to see how these so-called Democrat (we non-republicans call it the Democratic party) electeds tell our unions why they voted against the working man and woman. We just lost out on over $1.5 million annually in additional property taxes for the next 30 years. Can you think of any needs for that money in Humboldt County?

Our Founding Fathers made land rights one of the principal themes in the Constitution. (that was property rights which included people dipshit)

The Russ Family has owned this land for generations (over 100 years). (hey Matthew, refresh our memory, how did they get that land?)  The average person I talked to said, “Let me get his straight. This is a clean, green, energy project. It’s on private property. Financed with private funds. Using local union labor.

Who could possibly be against this project?” Also many people said to me, “I got a job. I gotta work 8-5. I can’t take eight hours off to stand in line for four hours to speak for two minutes at some public meeting.” (a chronic problem for all of us)

Curiously, how many of those speakers had jobs and weren’t retirees, students or tribal members?

Ever wonder how Donald Trump won the presidency? (it was in fact with white racist and Russian help, idiot)

Look no further than our local Regressives. (that’s you, Matthew) Fox News could have filled a week of coverage on the loony radicals in NoCal.

“Corporate colonialism”— what does that even mean? (see Matthew, that’s your fundamental problem you’re uneducated) From Supervisor Sungnome Madrone, “Who doesn’t know that these high ridges are important to our Native American community?”

As of a few days ago, 99% of the (white republicans) people didn’t know this. Ever been to the Bay Area or L.A.?

Guess what they put on high ridges? Communications towers, equipment, antennas, etc.

Supervisor Madrone is going to have to tell the Bay Area and L.A. to remove these unsightly monstrosities from these ridges.

Oh, and sorry that you’ll have no cell or phone service, no cable or TV and no Internet.

I’m sad that we’ve just lost the next generation or two of our children thanks to this vote. They’ll graduate high school and head off to either the military, college or go elsewhere to earn a living because minimum wage with no benefits ain’t gonna cut it to raise a family. Sorry, you’re gonna have to travel to visit your grandkids in the future and you can thank three county supervisors.

 

 

To set the record straight:
Steve Madrone was skeptical of this project from the very beginning. He was the only one to ask staff meaningful questions during the hearing.
Mike Wilson really, really wanted this project but saw betraying his friends the Wiyot Tribe was not going to play well.
Estelle Fennel really wants to be reelected and seems to have had a sincere change of heart.

The social media rumor mill is out of control, time to check it before it wrecks us

 

Suicide? Hmmm….How convenient, or deadmen tell no tales

The new Barr-Epstein virus, it’s deadly

According to a report from Reuters, prison guards overseeing convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein in his cell in the Special Housing Unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) failed to do mandatory check-ins before his suicide.

Epstein, who had previously been on suicide watch, was found unresponsive in his cell early Saturday morning and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

According to the updated report, “At the MCC, two jail guards are required to make separate checks on all prisoners every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not followed overnight, according to the source. In addition, every 15 minutes guards are required to make another check on prisoners who are on suicide watch.”

The report that Epstein was skipped is likely to fuel even more conspiracy rumors about the death of a man who reportedly supplied underage females to his wealthy and powerful friends.

Epstein’s death is currently being investigated by the Justice Department which oversees the MCC, with Attorney General Bill Barr calling the prisoner’s apparent ease with which he killed himself “appalling.”

That not the only thing that’s appalling, having Bill Barr connected to this at all is appalling. Barr’s father hired Epstein to teach at the Dalton School, a private co-educational school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in the early 1970s.

Donald Barr, Dalton’s headmaster and father of Attorney General Bill Barr, hired Epstein to teach math and science.

“What we’ve all been wondering,” one of Epstein’s former students said, “is how did this guy get his job in the first place, without a degree.”

Epstein was without a college degree when he was hired, but Barr, thought of as “no-nonsense,” saw promise in the young man who was in his early 20s at the time. Surprisingly Epstein was able to jump from teaching the children of Wall Streeters to become a Wall Streeter himself. He left Dalton after two years, accepting a job at Bear Stearns as an assistant to a floor trader.

The Dalton School’s Headmaster Donald Barr hired Jeffrey Epstein to teach at the school without a college degree and is current U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr’s father. Shockingly Bill Barr has decided not to recuse himself from Epstein’s case.

More than 30 years later, after Epstein’s resignation at Bear He and his money managing remain shrouded in secrecy, just like Trump’s magical financial fiefdom.

OMG! Hell has indeed frozen over; Matthew Owen makes a valid point

Urban Dictionary: grow dozer A big, lifted, dirty truck. Usually, a diesel and is used by a marijuana grower as a tow vehicle for big utility trailers to transport supplies and soils to the grow site. Grow Dozers gained notoriety in Humboldt County. 

 

This past week Humboldt County Sheriff Billy Honsal Jr. announced that the California National Guard will be assisting the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office in serving search warrants at suspected illicit marijuana grow sites across the county.

Said Honsal, “We are working together to try and bring the illicit cannabis industry into compliance with the state law.”

It’s about damn time!

I love it that California Gov. Gavin Newsom has stated one of his goals was to get the illegal cannabis industry into state compliance and offered the National Guard to assist local law enforcement with this task.

You can choose to be a cannabis cultivator or a drug dealer. A cannabis cultivator is a legal farmer who went through the process, got the appropriate permits and pays taxes. The drug dealer grades their land without permits, dropping slit into our rivers and streams. They use pesticides and then claim they are “organic.” They use guns and threaten violence to get their way. They sell their products out of state for cash (interstate transportation of narcotics) and pay zero taxes.

It’s tragic that over 90% of our Humboldt growers are still illegal drug dealers and refuse to comply with the law.

You give people a choice: You can have the carrot or you can have the stick. When the majority of the cannabis community refuses the carrot, then hit them with the stick. Hard! Between the county using real-time satellite imaging and sending out notifications that “it appears you have an unpermitted cannabis grow on your property” with threats of $10,000 per days fines and now having helicopters flying over properties to identify illegal cannabis grows, hopefully we can start to eliminate 1020 of the “bad players” every day from Humboldt County, seven days a week, 52 weeks per year. That will make a dent clearing out the drug dealers.

If it were me, I’d use drones (more cost effective than helicopters) to identify illegal grows off 101 in SoHum and off Highways 36 and 299. No permits on file?

Then roll up with the wood chipper. Confiscate any cash lying around and use the asset forfeiture to hire additional compliance officers.

Now remind them we’ll be back in 60 days to re-inspect your property again for noncompliance and every 60 days thereafter.

I’m getting tired of hearing, “We can’t afford permits.” Pretend you want to open up any other legitimate business in the city or county. Any idea how many different governmental agencies will be inspecting your business before issuing a permit? No permit, no business.

That’s how the real world works. Besides, you’ve been making cash tax-free for how many years now? It’s not my fault you didn’t save any money the past 20 years. You didn’t have to spend three to six months in Costa Rica or Mexico blowing your profits and then buying a new growdozer ($75,000 tricked-out pick-up truck) every year. Try running a real business. Deal with Human Resource issues. Payroll taxes. Workers comp disability claims. Health insurance for your employees.

Not getting much sympathy from me or 99% of the taxpaying citizens out there.

To make matters worse, some growers have been complaining to major media outlets (New Yorker Magazine, Politico) of how tough the new regulations are. Yet when I reach out to them to sit and meet with them and ask additional questions, they lose my number quick. I ain’t no East Coast writer who has zero idea of the cannabis world and takes their word for everything.

I would ask follow-up questions. If you’re part of the 1,000-pound club (major cannabis grower) don’t go crying that you can’t make any money with today’s regulatory environment.

The majority of the cannabis community has been stalling for years to avoid dealing with rules, regulations and taxes. It’s time for them to either come into compliance or go back to where ever they came from.

From an editorial in the Times-Standard

Time to defeat Mitch “the grim reaper” McConnell

Beating Senate crime boss Mitch McConnell, the self-described grim reaper in 2020 and taking back the Senate is just as important as beating the executive office crime boss Donald Trump. Exposing voters to the way in which the majority leader has made the Senate a graveyard for legislation that has broad support among voters is a great way to start. Particularly now the McConnell family’s graft and corruption been exposed.

Mitch McConnell likes to call himself the “grim reaper,” which is a rather odd label for a politician to embrace during a year when he is running for reelection. But if you want to cast yourself as the champion of “nostalgia voters” and embrace a revanchist agenda, killing off anything that helps the country adapt to the future might work.

But one thing is worth noting about McConnell’s response to this latest messaging. When discussing it with Fox talking head Laura Ingraham, the majority leader embraced his role as the grim reaper, killing off what he mislabels as “socialism.” The examples he gave didn’t fit the framing because they all have broad bipartisan support among voters. Instead, he named proposals that haven’t passed in the House: the Green New Deal, single-payer health care, and discussions about granting statehood to Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Wait! Puerto Rico! That one is especially odd because that territory of the United States has absolutely nothing to do with so-called “McConnell socialism”.

What McConnell obviously wants to do is avoid public recognition that he has blocked every bipartisan effort to limit dark money in politics, re-establish net neutrality, strengthen background checks for all gun purchases, provided real protections for Dreamers, establish paycheck fairness, and pass the Violence Against Women Act. We can now add that he continues to block all attempts to protect our elections from Russian and other foreign interference.

Democrats should do to McConnell what Republicans have done to Pelosi. I was referring to the way that she became the poster child that every Republican ran against.

All Democratic candidates for running for Senate should make the case that a vote for their opponent is a vote for McConnell and against our values in a democracy. This is one time when democrats should worry about taking a page out of the Republican playbook.

Based on a story in AlterNet