JanF

The Running of the Bull: Today’s 2016 GOP Presidential Primary News

The annual San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain known as The Running of the Bulls often features accidental gorings as thousands of sanity-challenged people run alongside the fighting bulls in the streets of the village.

In America, we have the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary where the running of the bull is not restricted to 9 days in July but started in January 2015 with the Steve King Iowa Pigslop and will last 543 long painful days until the Republicans crown a “winner” at their national convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016.

As of today, there are 14 announced candidates and 2 waiting to jump into the fray. One of those two, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, is trying to ratchet up the enthusiasm by releasing his logo over 9 days … one day at a time (hello? is your PR person a 13 year old girl???). It started out with what looks like a toilet plunger in the lower right hand corner and here it is 4 days in … with yesterday’s “piece” unveiled on Twitter:

There were several guesses made as to how the logo would end up and this one, while lacking in madd photoshop skillz, looks juuuust riiiiight:

The Scott Walker Story: Intimidated, again!

Earlier this year, the Republican dominated Wisconsin legislature did Gov. Scott Walker’s bidding and elided The Wisconsin Idea from the University of Wisconsin system’s mission statement. The Wisconsin Idea had been part of the statutes for well over a century and promised this:

Inherent in this broad mission are methods of instruction, research, extended training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.

You can see why this scared the Walker Administration: education, search for truth, public service. Not welcome in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin! The Walker Way overrides the Wisconsin Way and the Wisconsin Idea.

The outcry was fierce and Walker had to back down … the change was withdrawn (and blamed on a staffer, which is also the Walker Way).

Lesson learned, right? No. It. Was. Not.

On Thursday night, right before the long holiday weekend, Walker’s GOP legislature snuck a provision into the omnibus Budget Bill they were “crafting”, a provision that would essentially repeal the state’s Open Record Law. When this change was exposed by the Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee and questioned by the press, the Republican leaders refused to identify who had asked for the change. But you don’t have to dig deep to realize that the Open Records laws were behind the surprising interest of the normally docile press in Wisconsin, in investigating irregularities in WEDC, an agency set up by Walker to pick winners and losers in the economy with a special focus in including Walker campaign donors in the winners circle.

The outcry was even more fierce this time and came from some surprising places: the teaparty Attorney General and the right-wing talk show radio hosts in Milwaukee who created Scott Walker as an empty vessel to fill with their ideology. There had been signs that the right-wing talkers were realizing they had used Abby Normal’s brain when they built their Frankenstein and this time they Tweeted their dismay and spoke out in editorials, one on the front page of the normally pro-Walker Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Working Towards Our More Perfect Union: The Civil Rights Act of 1964

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

The act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin and gave the federal courts jurisdiction over enforcement, taking it out of the state courts where justice was uneven at best.

The Civil Rights Act had political ramifications as well. Its adoption caused a mass exodus of angry racists from the Democratic Party in the old south to the Republican Party. And the politics born of hatred of The Other gave the not-so-Grand Old Party the presidency for 28 out of the next 40 years.

Weekly Address: President Obama – Have a Safe and Happy Fourth of July

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President wished everyone a happy Fourth of July. He honored the individuals who, throughout the history of America, have struggled and sacrificed to make this country a better place, from our Founding Fathers, to the men and women in uniform serving at home and overseas. The President asked that on this most American of holidays we remember the words of our founders, when they declared our independence and that all are created equal, and that we continue to protect that creed and make sure it applies to every single American. And finally, he wished good luck to the U.S. Women’s National Team competing in the World Cup Final this weekend.

Good Government: Updating Fair Labor Standards – UPDATED with Transcript and Photos

The President will travel to La Crosse Wisconsin this afternoon to officially announce an update to the Fair Labor Standards Act that will go into effect next year.

President Obama: “This week, I’ll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That’s good for workers who want fair pay, and it’s good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve — since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren’t.”

From La Crosse, Thursday afternoon:

(TRANSCRIPT ADDED BELOW THE FOLD)

Secretary of Labor Tom Perez:

On June 25, 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act to, in his words, “end starvation wages and intolerable hours”. In addition to establishing the first-ever national minimum wage (a modest 25 cents per hour), the FLSA enshrined the 44-hour work week, later reduced to 40, mandating time and a half overtime pay for anything beyond.

But the overtime regulations haven’t been meaningfully updated in decades. An exemption from overtime eligibility originally meant for highly-compensated, white-collar employees now applies to workers earning as little as $23,660 a year — below the poverty line for a family of four. In 1975, 62 percent of full-time salaried workers were eligible for overtime pay; but today, only 8 percent of full-time salaried workers fall below the salary threshold and are automatically eligible for overtime pay.

Today, 77 years and five days after FDR signed overtime pay into law, President Obama announced the release of a new proposed rule that, once final, would extend overtime protections to roughly 5 million workers. As proposed, it would set the new salary threshold at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers, projected to be about $970 a week (or $50,440 a year) in 2016, more than double its current level. And by automatically updating the salary threshold to keep pace with inflation or wage growth, the proposal would guard against erosion of overtime pay in the future and provide more certainty for businesses and employees.

(Full Department of Labor blog post below)

President Obama: “We don’t have to be imprisoned by the past”

From the White House: President Obama Delivers a Statement on Cuba

PRESIDENT OBAMA: More than 54 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, the United States closed its embassy in Havana. Today, I can announce that the United States has agreed to formally re-establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba and reopen embassies in our respective countries.

Transcript below.

USA Today:

WASHINGTON — President Obama and Cuban counterpart Raul Castro said Wednesday that embassies in Havana and Washington will reopen later this month.

“This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people,” Obama said in his announcement from the White House Rose Garden.

Castro made a similar announcement in Havana.

A statement from Cuba’s foreign ministry “confirms the decision to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries and open permanent diplomatic missions in their respective capitals, from July 20.”

Obama said Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Havana later this month to formally re-open the U.S. embassy. […]

In his remarks, Obama called on Congress to end the embargo, casting the Cuba question as “a choice between the future and the past.”

A half-century of attempts to isolate Cuba have failed, Obama said, and improving the relationships will benefit people in both countries.

And then there were 14 …

Governor Bully to the rescue!! The candidate who exactly no one is clamoring for … except those who are superstitious about having 13 candidates.

From the NY Times Breaking News email:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, whose meteoric rise as a national Republican in his first term was matched only by his spectacular loss of stature at home in his second, enters the 2016 presidential race on Tuesday morning bearing little resemblance to the candidate he once expected to be.

The economic recovery he promised has turned into a cascade of ugly credit downgrades and anemic job growth. The state pension he vowed to fix has descended into a morass of missed payments and lawsuits. The administration he pledged would be a paragon of ethics has instead conspired to mire an entire town in traffic and the governor’s office in scandal.

Just three and a half years ago, Mr. Christie seemed so popular, compelling and formidable, such an antidote to all that ailed the Republican brand, that senior figures in the party pleaded with him to run for president as a substitute for their eventual nominee, Mitt Romney.

But today, a staggering 55 percent of Republican primary voters say that they cannot envision voting for Mr. Christie, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, a remarkable deficit from which to embark on a national campaign. The only candidate less palatable: Donald J. Trump, the bombastic developer-turned-reality television star.

With two pillars of his presidential run — his record and his judgment — looking wobblier than ever, Mr. Christie must build a campaign around his most raw and prodigious asset: his personality.

HAHAHAHAHA!!

Raw Christie … PLEASE, NO!!

SCOTUS Watch – Monday, June 29th – UPDATE: AZ redistricting win, Death drug loss, EPA back to drawing board

June is SCOTUS Decision month, when all eyes turn to the Supreme Court for rulings on the cases argued this term (before the court adjourns on June 30th for the summer). The calendar normally calls for orders and opinions to be released every Monday – 9:30am for orders and 10:00am for opinions. However, history has shown that additional “opinion days” are often added as the month unfolds and this year was no different as over the last two weeks we had Thursday and Friday opinion days. Today should be the last session of the term.

As always, the Moose News Network will cover the SCOTUS events with the help of SCOTUSblog and Twitter.

 
All eyes turn to the court

The Supreme Court will be in session this morning for orders and opinions starting at 9:30am Eastern. SCOTUSblog will liveblog at this link starting at 8:30am Eastern.

These are the cases heard in the current term but not yet decided:
DECIDED: The districts can be set by the commission. Decision (PDF). The “can citizens redistrict?” case, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (the Federal District Court upheld the redistricting, legislature appealed directly to Supreme Court)
DECIDED: Oklahoma drugs are not cruel. Decision (PDF). A death penalty case related to the drugs used, Glossip v Gross (Oklahoma wants to change its drug protocol, 10th Circuit ruled against the plaintiffs and for the state)
DECIDED: EPA must redo regulations looking at costs. Decision (PDF). Three suits against the EPA over its regulation of utilities and “failure” to consider costs, listed as Michigan vs. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (The states are appealing a ruling upholding EPA rule making procedures)

A full list of pending cases (with links) is below the fold.