Senator With DUI Says 1891 Rule Should Make Him ‘Privileged From Arrest’

He was busted drinking and driving, but a Kentucky state senator says that he should have his charges dismissed. Why? Because of a rule that originated from before there were even cars on the road. Senator Brandon Smith cites an 1891 rule that says state lawmakers are “privileged from arrest” during legislative sessions. Smith’s request was formally filed as a motion by his attorney. It is based on Section 43 in the Kentucky state constitution. That section was added in 1891. “The members of the General Assembly shall, in all cases except treason, felony, breach or surety of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House they shall not be questioned in any other place,” it reads. Smith, a Republican senator, found himself […] Read More

The GOP’s Coming Horror Show: Why the New Congress May Be Worse than You Think

>My advice: Get the popcorn ready! If there is one thing on which I wish I’d laid a bet over the past few years it’s that despite their successful strategy to make the economic recovery as weak as possible, the minute it started to substantially improve, the conservatives would be standing at the head of the line taking credit for it. It was as predictable as the sun coming up tomorrow that they would claim their obstructive tactics resulted in Morning in America. After all, it just rewarded them with a Republican majority in the Senate and enlarged their majority in the House so they must be on the right track, right? Still, the Beltway wags insist that the new class of Republicans are the grown-ups who are coming to town determined to prove they can “govern.” What they mean by governance is a little vague but is generally assumed to […] Read More

2014: Hightower: It’s the Immigration Fearmongers We Should Be Worried About, Not Their Ebola Hype

Trying to spread panic about immigrants and their risks is highly damaging to society. One thing you can say about Rick Perry is that he sticks to his guns. If one of his policy proposals turns out to be dumb, by gollies, he will double-down on dumb. For example, in his current re-run for the GOP presidential nomination, the “Oops” governor has repositioned himself as an expert on border security. As such, he milked a lot of political PR out of this summer’s surge of migrant children crossing our southern border illegally. Never mind that they were desperate to escape the abject poverty, rapes, murders and gang cultures that confronted them every day in their Central American homelands, Perry used their plight as a chance to foment fear and pose as a superhero “seal the border” candidate. Perry was on Fox News howling for federal troops, declaring that, “This […] Read More

Six States Where GOP Voter Suppression Tactics Could Sway The Outcome

As another federal election cycle heads to a close, Jim Crow’s ghost rises. Anyone who pays attention to American election knows that the Republican Party’s favorite tactic to try on win on Election Day is to change the rules of who can vote and which ballots get counted. This is what happened in presidential elections in Florida in 2000, in Ohio in 2004, and it is behind 2014’s ongoing courtroom fights over allowing same-day voter registration, imposing tougher voter ID requirements, narrowing early voting options, and counting provisional ballots turned in at the wrong table, and on and on. As 2014’s campaigns enter its final stretch, federal and state courts are weighing in on a range of Republican-generated attempts to change the rules. These fights aren’t yet over, so it is hard to say whether this will be an election where most of these tactics will be shown the […] Read More

2013: A Conspiracy to Hide the Truth: Why the True U.S. Government Debt is $205 Trillion

Dr Laurence Kotlikoff , professor of economics at Boston University and a research associate at the  National Bureau of Economic Research, was recently interviewed by the Financial Sense Newshour  about the true state of fiscal affairs in this country. He explains how the government uses accounting tricks to hide the truth and keep everyone in the dark about the US’s actual debt-load, which runs $205 trillion versus the $17 trillion you often here in the news. Kotlikoff also details the ongoing pattern of obfuscation, censorships, and firings of government personnel attempting to disclose budgets of prior Presidents when doing so is deemed politically inconvenient. This is a must-listen interview. Here we present a few key excerpts: Jim Puplava: Professor, officially we’re in debt over $17 trillion but underneath it there’s a bigger problem. I wonder if you might explain to our listeners what that bigger problem is? Professor Kotlikoff: The liabilities […] Read More

1999: The Anti-Government Movement Guidebook

The National Center for State Courts The Anti-Government Movement Guidebook 1999, National Center for State Courts This guide was developed under a grant. Award No. SJI-96-02B-B-159, “The Rise of Common Law Courts in the United States: An Examination of the Movement, The Potential Impact on the Judiciary, and How the States Could Respond,” from the State Justice Institute. The points of view expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the State Justice Institute. STAFF Managing Editor Mr. Chuck Ericksen Acting Executive Director Institute for Court Management National Center for State Courts Contributors and Primary Researchers Mr. Chris J. Wesser, J.D. College of William and Mary Williamsburg, Virginia Mr. Dov M. Szego, J.D. College of William and Mary Williamsburg, Virginia Project Staff National Center for State Courts 300 Newport Avenue Williamsburg, Virginia 22185 (757) 253-20000 Ms. Catina N. Burrell Senior […] Read More

2013: Inside the Conservative Brain: Why Tea Partiers Are Desperately Afraid

To understand how Tea Partiers view the world, you have to know how they see themselves. As America is torn apart by extremists, maybe a deep dive into our individual and collective psychology is a good way to start figuring out what’s happening to us. The problem, as it turns out, may be the difference in the way people view individuals and collectives; whether you’ve got a “me” or a “we” focus; and how big those categories happen to be. john a. powell (his name is spelled without capitals) leads the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and is considered a leading thinker on race and ethnicity. He spoke Wednesday evening in Manhattan at the Union Theological Seminary as part of a joint series on Economics & Theology put on by UTS and the Institute of New Economic Thinking. INET’s executive director Rob Johnson, along […] Read More

2013: “Monsanto Protection Act” Dropped from Senate Bill to Delight of GMO Critics

Opponents of genetically modified organisms (GMO) celebrated this week after the U.S. Senate dropped a controversial provision allowing agricultural companies to ignore judicial rulings. The Farmers Assurance Provision, which critics labeled the “Monsanto Protection Act,” would have allowed biotechnology companies like Monsanto to sell GMO seeds to farmers even after a court blocked their sale. But members of the Senate prevented the plan from being included in a House continuing resolution used to keep the government funded. “This is a victory for all those who think special interests shouldn’t get special deals,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) said in a statement. “This secret rider, which was slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year, instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to allow GMO crops to be cultivated and sold even when our courts had found they posed a potential risk to farmers of nearby crops, the environment, and human health.” Dave Murphy, executive director […] Read More

2013: Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee says CISPA sister bill in the works

Reuters / Gary Cameron The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, could soon appear again on Capitol Hill. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) says she’s prepared a draft bill that will complement the House-penned CISPA that was approved earlier this year. Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters at The Hill on Tuesday that she intends on moving forward with a draft bill she helped created to serve as a counterpart to the cybersecurity act approved in the House of Representatives in April by a vote of 288-to-127. Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger originally introduced CISPA in late 2011 and touted it as a necessary implement to counter cyberattacks waged at the computer systems of businesses based in the United States. It was passed by the House in mid-2012 but failed to make its way to the Senate, prompting Rogers and Ruppersberger to […] Read More