‘Bigger fish to fry’

I’ll file this one under “weasel words”, right there with “I’m not going to slash Social Security”:

President Barack Obama said prosecuting pot users in states that have legalized the drug won’t be a top priority for his administration.

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama told ABC News’ Barbara Walters. “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”

Last month, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational pot use for adults, though marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

The Obama administration suggested last week that it was considering plans to undermine the voter initiatives. In his interview with Walters, Obama did not say whether his administration would go after producers and suppliers of marijuana in those states. The administration has cracked down extensively on the medical marijuana industry in California, despite its legality under state law there.

Stephen Colbert is a good Catholic boy

And I mean that in the most complimentary sense:

My Dearest Email List,

Last month, my friend Ham Rove passed away in a very unsuspicious fashion. On the same day, Colbert Super PAC’s money, $773,704.83, was squirreled away in a fashion that was extremely suspicious, but entirely legal. I thought that’s the last I’d hear from Ham Rove, particularly because a dog ate him.

But Ham Rove had plans beyond his death, and I was recently surprised to find myself on the board of the Ham Rove Memorial Foundation. I was equally surprised to learn we received a $773,704.83 donation. Where did that very specific amount of money come from? There’s simply no way to know.

Tonight, I am honored to announce First and Final Annual Charitable Donations by the Ham Rove Memorial Fund.

Hurricane Sandy was much like Ham Rove: Cold, cruel, salty, and the cause of untold devastation. In his honor, Donors Choose, Team Rubicon, and Habitat For Humanity will each receive $125,000 to assist with their Sandy relief efforts.

We’ll also be donating $125,000 to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which serves wounded soldiers and their families. My attempts to get a matching donation to the Blue Ribbon Fund, which serves me frosty cans of PBR, were not successful.

The remaining money will be split between two pro-transparency groups who fight against the corrupting influence of outside money in politics. Luckily, they were both fine with the corrupting influence of outside money in their offices. As per his wishes, the Center for Responsive Politics has officially renamed their meeting space “The Colbert Super Pac Memorial Conference Room.” And the Campaign Legal Center will, from here on out, be home to “The Ham Rove Memorial Conference Room.”

It is the highest compliment that I can pay when I say I miss Ham Rove almost as much as I miss that money. I wish he could have stayed with us a little longer. Because now I have to plan a whole new Christmas dinner.

Yours Givingly,

Stephen Colbert

Accidental Chairman, The Ham Rove Memorial Fund

Michigan law may not apply to government workers

You mean after all that, they didn’t even bother to have their new law checked against existing legislation? Ha, ha! Boy, the Kochs really should be more careful about the quality ofthe people they buy:

Lansing – Less than 24 hours after Governor Snyder signed his damaging “Right to Work” legislation into law, analysis shows that the flawed legislation may not even have the result the Governor claimed it would, raising serious questions about whether the Republican leadership even read the language of the bills before voting it through and signing it into law.

“It’s become increasingly clear that the Governor presented the legislature with bills written by out-of-state extremists who had no understanding of Michigan’s constitution or how our laws apply to Michigan workers,” said Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer. “This is what happens when the Governor does an 11th hour about face in a lame duck session showing utter contempt for our people by cutting out all public input, scrutiny and debate. That isn’t leadership, it’s epic incompetence .”

Someone needs to tell ALEC to get better lawyers!

Reports today show that HB 4003, which the Governor said would provide “Right to Work” type policies for public employees in Michigan, could not be implemented as intended as the Michigan Constitution gives clear authority to the Civil Service Commission over conditions of employment for the state’s workforce. Experts have suggested today only a vote of the Civil Service Commission could enact Right to Work policies for state workers.

“The public was not given an opportunity to read these bills, legislators were not given an opportunity to read these bills, and we now know that the Governor himself either didn’t read or didn’t understand these bills himself,” said Senator Bert Johnson (D – Detroit). “This process has been a complete affront to democracy from the start and was nothing more than a political gift to the Koch Brothers and ALEC who bought and paid for this legislation.”

A series of questions have been raised in recent days over the legality of the “Right to Work” legislation as well as the process in which it passed. A lawsuit has already been filed against the Michigan House of Representatives for violating the Open Meetings Act as these bills were passed while the public was illegally locked out of the State Capitol and additional legal challenges are expected in the coming days.

I took a look at their Open Meetings Act, and Democrats look like they have solid grounds to sue and overturn the new law. See, under open meetings or “sunshine” laws, politicians aren’t allowed to meet in secret to plan these little legislative coups, and since the Democrats had no idea what was coming, looks like a de facto violation to me,

The origin of ‘right to work’

And how it came to be. Go read Mark Ames’ entire piece, it has great historical context:

Vance Muse’s fellow traveler in Texas union-busting fascism was a local big business outfit called the “Fight for Free Enterprise” and together, the two groups passed laws outlawing picketing by striking workers and making it easy for anyone to accuse picketing workers of inciting violence, open shop “Right-to-Work” laws, and they even pushed for a Nazi-like law that would force union organizers to wear “identifying head gear (red for the CIO and gray for the AFL).”

Even as millions of Americans were fighting fascism overseas, Vance Muse in his ten-gallon hat bragged to his Confederate plutocrats about the passage of Texas’ anti-picketing bill, saying it would “keep the color line drawn in our social affairs.” In 1944, he told theHouston Post that so-called “Eleanor Clubs,” named in honor of the First Lady, were a “RED RADICAL scheme to organize negro maids, cooks and nurses in order to have a Communist informer in every Southern home.”

Muse’s sister and partner in Christian American, Ida Darden, agreed with her brother, telling the Antioch Review she worried that the Eleanor Clubs…

…stood for “$15 a week salary for all nigger house help, Sundays off, no washing, and no cleaning upstairs.” As an afterthought, she added, “My nigger maid wouldn’t dare sit down in the same room with me unless she sat on the floor at my feet!”

Allowing herself to go still further, the little lady went on to say, “Christian Americans can’t afford to be anti-Semitic, but we know where we stand on the Jews, all right. It doesn’t pay us to work with Winrod, Smith, Coughlin, and those others up North; they’re too outspoken and would get us into trouble…You’d be surprised how many important corporations support our work.”
– Southern Exposure, Stetson Kennedy

Indeed. That, again, from the sister and partner in the outfit that created the modern Right-To-Work movement which, decades later, just steamrolled over Michigan.

A March 10, 1945 article in the Sunday Morning Star in Delaware reported on Vance Muse’s outfit, as its first “Right-To-Work” successes started to get national attention:

“Union groups throughout the country are asking [for] an investigation of the Christian American Association which has been pushing anti-labor bills in many state legislators. Anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic literature has also been attributed to the Christian Americans.”

In fact, their anti-Catholic literature was so strident that they were all but chased out of Louisiana.

But in Texas it worked: That year, 1945, Vance Muse’s Christian American Association successfully lobbied for Texas’ “Right-To-Work” law thanks to a brilliant smear campaign run by Muse himself: He arranged for a woman called Ruth Koenig, who claimed to be the head of an alleged Texas Communist Party, to testify before the Texas legislature on the Right-to-Work law. Naturally the Communist testified against the law – and thanks to that testimony Muse’s Christian American Association was able to label any Texas lawmaker opposed to Right-to-Work as a Communist. Flyers were printed up warning state residents about “Communists in the Legislature,” listing their names, linking them to Koenig with the header: “Where She Leads Us, We Will Follow.”

Until that day, Texas was on its way to becoming a strong union state, according to Dartmouth’s Prof. Dixon, outpacing other states in the South thanks largely to successful organizing by the CIO. After passage of the Right-to-Work law…well, look at Texas today. It’s libertarian Hell, Koch Industries paradise, home to Ron Paul and Rick Perry. Just how they like it.

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