In Banning Sharia Law, Oklahoma Voters May Have Voted Against Native American Rights, Too

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Oklahoma voters recently celebrated the novelty of becoming the first state to ban the non-existent threat of Sharia law. Under the “Save Our State” constitutional amendment, Oklahoma courts are forbidden from considering or using international and Sharia law in their rulings. Beyond the obvious First Amendment problems with the law, in their zealous “war” against the phantom Sharia menace, Oklahomans might find unexpected collateral damage to the Ten Commandments, businesses, and now, Native Americans.

Oklahoma has the second largest population of Native Americans in the U.S and law experts like Oklahoma University law professor Taiawagi Helton point out that language in the law banning courts from looking at “legal precepts of other nations or cultures” could pose a problem if applied to tribal legal cases, as the tribes are considered sovereign nations. In fact, the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission released an official memo on October 20 explaining how the “lack of specific tribal law language” could “damage the sovereignty of all Oklahoma tribes” and “starkly reminds [the Commission] that some Oklahoma lawmakers forgot that our nation and state were built on the principles, blood, and back of other nations and cultures, namely, ou[r] tribes”:

[The law]completely ignores the possibility that an Oklahoma state court may be called upon to apply the law of any of the 39 Indian tribes located with the borders of Oklahoma to resolve a dispute.[...]

The language of this proposed amendment starkly reminds us that some Oklahoma lawmakers forgot that our nation and state were built on the principles, blood, and backs of œother nations and cultures, namely, out [sic] tribes. It also ignores that Oklahoma tribes have become valuable economic partners with the State that it cannot afford to ignore or exclude.

If SQ 755 is approved, the lack of specific tribal law language could easily be interpreted by a state judge to leave no room to refer to a tribe’s law to determine the existence of a valid waiver of a tribe’s sovereign immunity, for example. Thus, SQ 755 has the potential to provide state court judges with yet another opportunity to further erode tribal sovereignty. A state court judge could rely on the amendment’s absence of recognition of any tribal law to avoid or disavow its application.Tribes and tribal members should be aware of this glaring omission for Oklahoma courts to look to and apply our tribal laws when appropriate, and vote on this question accordingly.

Ohio University international law professor Peter Krug said Oklahoma businesses that deal with companies overseas could also suffer as “many transactions between companies rely on international treaties to uphold contracts” and “lawyers could take advantage of the lack of clarity in the language” to challenge cases.” “I think we will see extended legal arguments from both sides, and, quite honestly, any court decision that addresses [the amendment] will likely be appealed,” he said.

Fortunately, as Helton notes, it is unlikely that courts will uphold the law. A federal judge’s temporary order to block the law on Tuesday certainly lends credence to that notion.

ThinkProgress

Bush Voted For Obama?

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

An interesting, possibly apocryphal, story appears in today’s Financial Times:

George W. Bush’s bombastic return to the world stage has reminded me of my favourite Bush anecdote, which for various reasons we couldn’t publish at the time. Some of the witnesses still dine out on it.

The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.

Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.

Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.”I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”

Given the long standing enmity between Bush and McCain, this is actually plausible.




Outside the Beltway

Obama’s NLRB Appointee Says Unions Need to be Voted in Quicker

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Now that the election is over and we’ve seen in stark light the rebuke that Obama has received, many are wondering if he’ll moderate his far left agenda. But a few movements in the Labor Dept. will disabuse anyone of the notion that Obama intends to drop his left-wing agenda.

obama_stern

Leave it to an Obama appointee to the National Labor Rights Board (NLRB) to want to push votes to install unions in the workplace on an accelerated schedule. I guess all the payoffs and special favors that Obama and his cohorts have given to labor unions in these two of the longest years any president ever had have not been enough.

On Oct. 21, NLRB Member Mark Gaston Pearce said that the time period between filing and the holding of elections for new union representation in a company should be “as brief as possible.”

Of course, this shortened election period is nothing but a sop to Big Labor and intended to hurt businesses that might try to put up a fight against the encroachment of unions.

As Jay Summer of the Labor Relations Counsel website says:

Regardless of Pearce’s stated rationale for interest in a shortened election period, if implemented, the shorter the election period, the less opportunity an employer has to exercise free speech rights and educate employees. The result would be a workforce making a decision whether or not to unionize relying only on what facts the union organizing them chooses to disclose, even if misleading or incomplete. Combined with electronic voting which would almost certainly depress voter participation, the almost certain result is a dramatic increase in unionization. This, of course, was the primary goal of EFCA’s card check proposal.

Naturally it’s all just a piece with Obama’s campaign to give unions paybacks, payoffs, and special favors to pay them back for the millions that they gave to him to run for president. It is also another example of Obama’s essential anti-business ideology.

Pearce was a recess appointment made by President Obama in March of 2010. His appointment expires in 2013.

Meanwhile, in yet another example of Obama’s war against business (and subsequent helping hand to jobs-killing unions), Obama’s Dept. of Labor announced that the Bush “culture of noncompliance” is over and Obama plans to crack down on those evil businesses that have gotten away with things for so long.

Obama Labor Solicitor Patricia Smith told attendees of a conference at Suffolk University Law School that the Labor Department would launch a new era of tougher enforcement of labor laws.

Smith heaped scorn on the pro-business Bush practices.

They relied on trickle-down enforcement; it doesn’t work any better than trickle-down economics. [As a result of reduced enforcement] many employers developed a “catch-me-if-you-can” attitude. Our challenge is to change that attitude.

You can just hear the left-wing ideology underpinning her rhetoric, can’t you?

Smith said that the Obama Labor Dept. intended to increase criminal prosecutions of businesses for perceived violations of labor law.

As we can see Obama’s anti-business crusade continues a pace with his other left-wing policies. He intends to use his power to shape regulation to go around Congress and our elected officials and push his extremist agenda anyway.


Big Government

Billionaire Astroturf Group Claims Tea Partiers Voted To Give Billionaires Tax Cuts

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Astroturf sites against a lame-duck session

Americans for Prosperity, the Astroturf group run by pollution billionaire David Koch, claims that voters rejected “tax-the-rich ideas” in the midterm elections. On NovemberSpeaks.com — a website launched the day after the election — AFP rallies its supporters to oppose any action by Congress during the lame-duck session that begins November 15, while Democrats still control the House of Representatives. Not only does AFP falsely claim that Democrats intend to pass “enormous Social Security tax hikes,” it also makes the absurd claim that the midterm elections were driven by popular support for the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires:

1. These are the first votes of the 2012 cycle and public anger is not going away.
2. You have no right to raise taxes on any American while the economy remains weak and after class-warfare, tax-the-rich ideas were decisively rejected in a national election.
3. It’s wrong to cheat the American people by voting to fund ObamaCare before a new Congress elected not to fund it can be seated.

In fact, voters from Wisconsin to New York, from California to Indiana, were overwhelmingly concerned about the state of the economy, much as they have been since 2008. They are worried because of the millions of people who lost jobs and homes during the Bush recession — not because David Koch, a 70-year-old with a net worth of twenty thousand million dollars, might see his taxes return to levels during the Clinton era. They believe that Congress isn’t doing enough to fix the economy — not that that Congress needs more vacations.

During the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress, elected officials still have the opportunity to get the United States working again with the enactment of progressive pro-jobs policies. However, the billionaire-driven tea party front groups — like FreedomWorks, which warns Democrats will use the lame duck session to “Pile on More Tax Hikes to Fund their Socialist Agenda!”, the Traditional Values Coalition, which says the lame duck agenda is “more spending, blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants, new taxes, and anti-Christian laws,” or American Solutions For Winning the Future, which calls the lame duck “the worst kind of political corruption” — want the corporate takeover of Congress to begin now, instead of next year.

ThinkProgress

Oklahoma Voters May Have Accidentally Voted Against Ten Commandments, Too

November 6, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Last year, radical right-wing politicians in Oklahoma passed the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act, which ordered “the placement of a monument displaying and honoring the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol.” The bill authors noted that “the Ten Commandments found in the Bible, Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21, are an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Oklahoma.”

As ThinkProgress noted, many of these same legislators voted to put a proposal on this week’s ballot, the “Save Our State” constitutional amendment, that bans Sharia from being considered in Oklahoma courts. The ballot states that Oklahoma courts must “rely on federal and state law when deciding cases” and forbids them from “considering or using international law” and “from considering or using Sharia Law.” The measure passed with 70 percent of the vote.

As a law professor noted to CNN, however, the religious zealotry of these lawmakers may now be in serious self-conflict:

Rick Tepker, the first member of the University of Oklahoma School of Law faculty to try a case before the U.S. Supreme Court…called the passage of the measure “a mess” with implications unknown until a case that challenges it arises.

“Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don’t cry,” he said. “I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn’t that a precept of another culture and another nation? The result of this is that judges aren’t going to know when and how they can look at sources of American law that were international law in origin.”

The complicated “mess” caused by the Sharia ban is also affecting Oklahoma Muslims, who say that, though they obviously never considered seeking sharia law remedies, the constitutional amendment makes them feel alienated. “It’s really brought the Muslim-haters out,” said Allison Moore, a Muslim activist in Tulsa. Sheryl Siddiqui, a spokeswoman for the Edmond-based Islamic Council of Oklahoma, said her group tries outreach and education about Islam, though clearly with frustrating results. “Muslims in Oklahoma do a phenomenal amount of outreach,” she said. “It’s not on us anymore. There are people out there who still believe Obama is a Muslim.”

A lawsuit has also been filed against the amendment, which charges it transforms Oklahoma’s Constitution into “an enduring condemnation” of Islam by singling it out for special restrictions. “We have a handful of politicians who have pushed an amendment onto our state ballot and then conducted a well-planned and well-funded campaign of misinformation and fear,” said Muneer Awad, who filed the suit and is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma.

ThinkProgress

Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Aqua Buddha

November 5, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Via Freeman in Kentucky, we learn that the Rand Paul/Jack Conway battle has given birth to it’s own t-shirt:

Operators are standing by.




Outside the Beltway

PA voted like it was the 1930s: Gov’s race deeply Republican

November 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

This has got to hurt.  Dem nominee for PA gov Onorato is the County Executive for Allegheny County - Pittsburgh’s situs.  Onorato lost Allegheny County.  Ouch:

The Allegheny County executive lost his home county in the governor’s race to Republican Tom Corbett, an indignity in a county where his party has 2.3 times as many votes. That has to be on his mind — and those of possible GOP or Democratic rivals — as he considers running for an unprecedented third term as county executive next year.

Mr. Corbett beat the Democrat by 649 votes in Allegheny County, the first time a GOP gubernatorial candidate had taken Pittsburgh’s home county since Tom Ridge won re-election over Squirrel Hill’s Ivan Itkin in 1998. In an open contest like this year, a Republican had apparently not won since the city’s Democratic ascendancy began in the 1930s.

I knew something was up when his first statewide ads had him saying, “Some of you have trouble pronouncing my name,” followed by him spelling it and holding up a sign with his name on it.  Felt rather like a write-in campaign.

Another PA note - termed-out gov Rendell did his best to support the dems, all in hopes of landing a job with Obama.  He’s got no traction.  He’ll go the route of gangster-casino skanks.  Bye, Ed.  We never liked you.

Liberty Pundits Blog

I Just Voted, and I Feel Much Better

November 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

I am a Democrat, but I am also a realist.

What I said earlier sarcastically, I am now repeating in earnest: Republicans are going to clean our clocks today—rightly or wrongly, deservedly or undeservedly.

As most Americans, I have been thinking, talking, reading (and writing) about the elections today.

As most Democrats, I have been nervously viewing, listening to and reading about the tsunami that is supposed to hit us and wash us away today and, to be honest, I have been fuming at some of the gloating, in-your-face, told-you-so comments being bandied about by our Republican friends.

So, with the upcoming tsunami—the earthquake, the landslide, the hurricane and all those other nasty (un)natural phenomena—about to happen and wipe us out, why should I even bother to vote?

Of course this is a rhetorical question and of course I could recite numerous platitudes (not really) and clichés (not really) about why voting is so important and why every vote counts.

About how voting is not only a right, but also a civic duty, an obligation. An obligation to ourselves, to our fellow Americans, to our democracy, and to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so we can freely and unencumbered cast that vote, etc., etc.

About how a single vote may have elected—or defeated—a president, a governor, a congressman; may have admitted a state into the Union; may have changed the course of history, etc. (Please check with Snopes on such)

On the other side of the voting coin, we have all heard platitudes (yes, really) and clichés (yes, really) like “My vote won’t make a difference” or, as in this case, “What can my little Democratic vote accomplish faced with a tsunami of Republican votes?”

The fact is that your vote will make a difference: it will up the total vote by that all-important one and, in the big scheme of things, it will, along with the millions of other votes, help subdue that monstrous category 5 hurricane into a more manageable category 3 or 2 hurricane—and, believe me, you don’t want to mess with a category 5 hurricane.

But, perhaps most important at the personal level, voting will make you feel better. Really!

Take it from me, I just voted and I feel great:

* I did what I firmly believe is right.

* While I have patiently and not so patiently listened to the braggadocio of the “other side,” and written essays read by a dozen or so people, casting my vote—doing something that literally counts—was a cathartic experience for me. It suddenly lifted the stress and irritation I had been carrying for weeks.

* Perhaps most important, now that I have exercised my right to vote, I can exercise with a clear conscience another important right for the next two years: to complain about and criticize both the politicians and the political process.

Or, as I read somewhere, “I vote, therefore I bitch.”

Depending on where you live, you still have several hours to exercise your right to vote. You may not change the world, or the outcome, but you’ll certainly feel better and you will have those all-important “bitching rights.”


The Moderate Voice

Don’t vote guy voted

October 27, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Molly Ball reports that he says he’s being perfectly consistent.





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Ben Smith’s Blog

Foursquare announces an “I Voted” badge

October 27, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

New York (CNN)-When pulling the lever on Election Day, Foursquare users can “check in” and receive a special badge the company announced on Wednesday.

Foursquare, a location-based mobile application that lets users “check in” to venues and compete for virtual badges, unveiled their “I Voted” badge.

A user unlocks the badge by checking in to one of any 107,000 polling places and writing “voted,” “vote” or “voting” in a shout (a message attached to a check in).

Foursquare is one of the fastest-growing social networks with over four million users.

“Every day we see new examples of Foursquare encouraging and reinforcing positive behaviors,” said Foursquare’s Eric Friedman in a statement. “We’re excited to harness the power of Foursquare to drive civic engagement through the ‘I Voted’ badge.”

Gowalla, a similar location based network, announced Monday an “I Voted” Pin that users receive when checking in to a polling station and telling their friends on Twitter or Facebook.


CNN Political Ticker

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