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Monday, May 4, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah we're talking to you ...!  
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N.C. Senate bill would roll back consumer protections against abusive debt collectors

by Jane Porter
Do you like seeing itemized charges if you’re paying a debt collector? Do you like not being sued to pay off other peoples’ debt?
Mike_Lee.jpgOf course we all do, which is why in 2009, legislation was passed to protect consumers from debt collectors suing them for debt without valid evidence that the debt exists, and without proving they are suing the right person for the right debt.
But a bill in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-New Hanover, would roll back the 2009 reform that prevents abusive debt collection in North Carolina. A version of that bill, Senate Bill 511, passed a Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning.
Around 2004, the state’s courts started seeing a flood of lawsuits brought by debt collectors against the wrong people, with little evidence that that these people owed the debt. People who couldn’t afford an attorney ended up in default. The 2009 legislation was meant to protect these North Carolina consumers.
The reasoning behind Lee’s bill appears to be that debt collectors (who buy off debt from businesses, banks, hospitals etc.) don’t want to pay extra for documents itemizing the debt they purchase. Lee doesn’t see fraudulent lawsuits as a problem.
“If a lawsuit against you says you owe money, you have the right to say I need itemized business records,” he told the committee. “The debtor has to come to court and respond. Misidentifications occur, you can’t craft rules against exceptions.”
Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, defended the average consumer.
“A lot of people are illiterate about financial practices,” she said. “They don’t know they can advocate for themselves, so this is denying information to those folk. You can’t refute a charge if you don’t know what it is and they don’t know to ask for this information. You are saying, ‘get a lawyer to refute things,’ but that’s not a general practice in a lot of our community.”
A spokesperson from the Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice praised the 2009 reform.
“The General Assembly had the foresight to pass a good law that protects consumers,” he said. “States that haven’t passed laws like this are still having problems. The North Carolina law has been looked at as a model.”
For example, according to a report in the Washington Post, a review of court filings in five Northern Virginia districts found of 16,000 cases filed by one debt collector company, 9,000 got default. In many cases, the consumers didn’t know what had happened until the sheriff showed up and tried to repossess their house or car.
Statistics from North Carolina’s Center for Responsible Lending show that abusive debt collection is the top consumer complaint made by seniors, military and veteran families to the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 36 percent of debt collection complaints from all consumers, 41 percent of complaints for all veterans and military families and 48 percent of complaints for all seniors relate to continued attempts to collect debt that is not actually owed.

Freddie Gray’s Death Ruled A Homicide

Arrest Warrants Issued For Six Baltimore Cops

Fox News Hack Sides With Killer Cops After Officers Charged In Death Of Freddie Gray

Fox News hack Todd Starnes’ immediate reaction to the breaking news that all six officers are being charged in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore was to accuse State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby of declaring war on law enforcement.
Via Twitter:
Todd Starnes
This is the refrain of many people who have a hard time admitting that we have a systemic problem of racial bias within all tiers of our justice system.
But the real question is why would anyone defend police officers who are not upholding the law? These bad actors do not reflect on all law enforcement. The few bad actors stain the name of all of the hard working police in this country. For that reason, everyone should want to weed out the bad actors and hold them accountable.
The highest charge against the officers is that of second-degree depraved heart murder. According to Wikipedia, depraved heart murder is also known as “depraved-indifference murder”. This “demonstrates a ‘callous disregard for human life’ and results in death.”
In what world does holding an officer/officers accountable for having a callous disregard for human life equal “declaring war”? If Starnes feels that being asked to behave lawfully is an act of war, he has other problems.
Starnes might also want to realize that the State’s Attorney is law enforcement. She is responsible for upholding the law. The State’s Attorney repeatedly said that this was not an indictment of the Baltimore Police Department, but of the six officers charged in this case.
Mosby used an independent investigation in order to determine the facts, instead of leaving it up to the police to investigate their fellow officers.
There is no excuse for turning these charges around on the prosecutor and claiming victimization by whining that being held to the law is an act of war. The point of these charges is that everyone is expected to uphold the law, including the police. They are, in fact, supposed to be setting the standards for upholding the law.
For every bad police action getting headlines right now, the majority of police officers are trying their best to honor the public trust and keep the peace, often under trying circumstances. Instead of defending the few bad actors, which implies an identification with their actions, it makes more sense to hold everyone accountable to the same standards.
Since most police do not treat citizens with callous disregard for their life, there is no reason to view these charges as anything other than the result of an independent investigation. The justice system will work its way through these charges just as it does for every person charged with a crime; the officers are entitled to due process just as anyone else is.
By Starnes’ standards, law enforcement is declaring war on every person ever charged with a crime. So to follow through with his logic, everyone who has been charged with a crime should respond that the police are declaring an act of war on everyone who shares something in common with them. Yeah, that’s nuts.
Todd Starnes’ accusation is irresponsible at best. He has no evidence to suggest these charges are unwarranted, but that didn’t stop him from inflaming the situation with the sort of self-pity often seen in people of privilege when they are held accountable for their actions.

Former Marine: I Was A 'Patriot', Now I'm A 'Thug'?

Former Marine: I Was A 'Patriot', Now I'm A 'Thug'?A former Marine unloaded on the police and the hypocrisy of  wingnut criticism.
I Was A 'Patriot', Now I'm A 'Thug'?

Democrats introduce KOCH Act–Keeping Our Campaigns Honest–would require PACs to name donors

by Jen Hayden

Democrats are trying to create a bit more transparency around campaign ads
Well, this is something:
David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, attends an Economic Club of New York event in New York, December 10, 2012.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS) - RTR3BFKFFrustrated with the Koch Brothers and other wingnut donors pouring money into attack ads, Democrats are asking a federal agency to enact tougher political disclosure rules. But that agency isn't the Federal Election Commission, which typically handles campaign finance issues. Instead, top Democrats in the House and Senate are pressing the Federal Communications Commission to use its power over the nation's airwaves to make super PAC spending more transparent.
The Keeping Our Campaigns Honest Act (yes, that's the "KOCH Act") would direct the FCC to require that super PACs and other outside political groups disclose their major donors in TV and radio ads.
Sixteen Democrats are backing the bill, including Nancy Pelosi. In reality, the bill isn't likely to make it through a Republican-misled Congress, but they are hoping the FCC will act on its own to make changes and create greater transparency.


Skyler Gets It ...

Obama Backs Democrats’ Proposal For A $12 Minimum Wage

Photo Credit: Wikipedia CommonsThe only thing standing in the way of changing countless American lives is…Republicans.

The Truth Be Told


Wisconsin Republicans Don’t Want Food Stamp Recipients Buying Beans, Potatoes, Pasta Sauce

House Republicans Vote To Allow Employers To Fire Women For Using Birth Control

Courtesy of Electablog.com
In the end, 225 Republicans voted in favor of escalating their war on women under the guise of religious freedom.

Roberts Admits Wingnuts Believe Politicians Should Serve The Rich

It is very seldom, if ever, that any Republican purposely admits in public that their raison d'etre is solely to serve the interests of corporations and the very…
It is often the case that a person’s heartfelt beliefs are eventually revealed inadvertently despite their best efforts at masking their true intentions and motivations for their actions with questionable excuses. Politicians are notorious for pretending their support for policies and agendas are in the best interests of their constituency even though their special interests are always the primary, and often only, beneficiaries. Republicans have spent the past thirty perfecting the ploy of convincing their monumentally stupid base that taking everything from the poor and middle class and giving it to the wealthy will benefit the entire population. It is very seldom, if ever, that any Republican purposely admits in public that their raison d’ĂȘtre is solely to serve the interests of corporations and the very richest Americans, and it is doubtful they expected the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to expose their badly-kept secret, but he did; albeit inadvertently.
In a case before the High Court, Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, to decide on whether the state of Florida has the right to “prohibit judges and judicial candidates from personally soliciting funds for their campaigns,” the Court ruled in favor of the state on Wednesday by a vote of 5-4. The close vote swung on Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the liberal justices in upholding a semblance of campaign finance limitation and the influence of money in politics. It is stunning that there is a line that Roberts seems unwilling to cross when it comes to money in politics, but it was a victory, albeit a “symbolically important” one, for Americans who believe there is already too much money controlling how Americans are governed. However, Roberts’ opinion for the majority revealed the conservatives’ true belief and motivation in the highly unpopular Citizens United decision conservatives ruled was a matter of freedom of speech for legal entities known as corporations, and not giving power over the government to the rich.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion for the majority in Williams-Yulee, and if he had joined the rest of the wingnuts and struck down the limit on judges and judicial candidates’ fundraising ability, America’s judicial system would be forever polluted and judges would have free reign to solicit campaign money directly from corporate and criminal defense lawyers who practice before them. What is telling about Roberts’ writing the opinion is that he contends that judges have a special duty to remain neutral and unbiased for the good of all the people; something he claims is completely inappropriate and inherently wrong-headed for presidents, legislators, and governors. Roberts’ inadvertent admission is that politicians have an intrinsic duty to serve the interests of their biggest donors and not their constituents; it is the true premise and only motivation for the High Court’s conservative majority ruling in Citizens United. It is also likely something Roberts did not intend to expose, although even that is debatable in the Koch-oligarch era of American politics.
Although it appeared that all of the Court’s wingnuts believe campaign finance laws and regulations have outlived their relevance in American politics, Roberts agreed with liberals that “States may regulate judicial elections differently than they regulate political elections, because the role of judges differs from the role of politicians. Politicians are expected to be responsive to the preferences of their supporters. Indeed, such responsiveness is key to the very concept of self-governance through elected officials. The same is not true of judges. In deciding cases, a judge is not to provide any special consideration to his campaign donors. Our precedents applying the First Amendment to political elections have little bearing on the issues here.”
It is interesting, and telling, that Roberts was seemingly careful to cite the Court’s application of the First Amendment in Citizens United as if no-one would notice his assertion that “politicians are expected to be responsive to their supporters,” not constituents, “as a key to the concept of self-governance.” When politicians are responsive to their wealthy donors, the only concept of self-governance relates to the rich and corporations dictating governance purely for their self-interests and the rest of the population be damned. That is what the wingnut court, and its Koch brother masters, intended in granting “First Amendment” rights to corporations and the one-percent of the population Republicans are “expected to be responsive to;” something Republicans have fulfilled with due diligence since the Citizens United ruling.
It is no surprise that Republicans have dutifully been “obedient” to the narrowest segment of the population as a result of Citizens United, and although Roberts revealed that was the wingnut Court’s sole intent, Justice Kennedy in writing for the majority at least put it in less obvious terms and had the brains to mention the voters. He wrote that, of course “favoritism and influence are unavoidable in a representative democracy,” and went on to suggest there was sometimes a positive good. He continued that “It is well understood that a substantial and legitimate reason, if not the only reason, to cast a vote for, or to make a contribution to, one candidate over another is that the candidate will respond by producing those political outcomes the supporter favors. Democracy is premised on responsiveness.”
Chief Justice Roberts was writing very specifically about money informing responsiveness in delineating limitations between campaign finance rules for judges and politicians. He did not even mention voters and particularly differentiated between a judge, “who is not to provide any special consideration to his campaign donors” and politicians who are “expected to be responsive to the preferences of their supporters;” not voters, not the public, and certainly not constituents. It is exactly what Republicans have done without reservation since the conservative Court did what it was expected and “provided very special consideration to its supporters,” the Koch brothers and Mitch McConnell who was the driving force behind the Citizens United lawsuit against the Federal Elections Commission in the first  place.
Obviously, most Americans expect judges to be impartial and not “follow the preferences of their  supporters” or give “undue consideration to their campaign donors.” As the ScotusBlog noted, the Court’s ruling is unlikely to convince many Americans that the judicial system is suddenly going to be completely impartial, but the ruling was a hedge against corporations and the rich buying judgements the way the Kochs are buying politicians and legislation. It is actually the case that most Americans do not agree with Roberts or his fellow Koch-wingnuts and believe that politicians, like judges, should not be allowed to solely “follow the preferences of” or give “special consideration” to their wealthy donors. However, Citizens United is the law of the land and it is highly unlikely Republicans or their Koch funders will ever allow a constitutional amendment striking it down to gain traction, much less be ratified, and they have the billions to make sure wingnuts follow their preferences of strengthening, not ending, Citizens United; precisely as the wingnut Court intended.

Tom Cotton's Latest Attempt To Kill The Iran Bill

Tom Cotton

House Republicans Create ‘Action Group’ To Seize And Sell America’s Public Lands

Don’t Forget To Remind Any Wingnuts You See — If They Wear The Flag, They’re Breaking The Flag Code

Don’t Forget To Remind Your Right-Wing Pals — If They Wear The Flag, They’re Breaking The Flag CodeHypocrisy at its finest — The next teabagger rally better not have anyone wearing flags as clothing if they love the flag as much as they say they do.

Paranoia-Rama: Obama Behind Baltimore Riots, Military Coup Imminent & Bullet Ban A-Brewin'

When President Obama isn’t secretly ordering riots in Baltimore from the Oval Office, he is plotting a military coup through the Jade Helm 15 drill and a bullet ban through the EPA. Quite a week for our “apathetic,” “ lazy” president. MORE

After Voting to Strip it From DC Residents, Boehner Claims to Champion Religious Freedom

"America was founded on the principle of religious freedom." It's just a shame he thinks only corporations have that freedom…
boehner-frownAs you know, on Thursday, House Republicans voted that employers not only have the right to know if female employees are on the pill, but have the right to fire them if they are. Calling religious freedom “liberal fascism,” Ted Cruz Friday urged Senate Republicans to do the same thing.
This is what Republicans call “religious freedom”: imposing their religious beliefs on others. Nancy Pelosi rightly called the House measure, “Hobby Lobby on steroids.”
To illustrate just how twisted their thinking is, John Boehner released a statement on Thursday explaining his actions, and claiming to be a champion of the religious freedom he had just trampled:
WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today applauding House passage of H.J. Res. 43:
“America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and faith-based employers deserve the ability to hire people who share their beliefs. The measure passed by the D.C. Council, however, discriminates against religious and pro-life Americans, violates their conscience rights, and runs completely counter to the ‘free exercise’ clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. As a proud pro-life Catholic, I condemn this form of discrimination and urge the president to reconsider his veto threat of our joint resolution.”
NOTE: Under Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress has direct oversight of the District of Columbia. Under the Home Rule Act of 1973, Congress has the authority to review – and disapprove – all policies passed by the District of Columbia City Council and signed by the District of Columbia Mayor.
You will note that Boehner has clearly categorized religious freedom as a form of discrimination, while repressive Republican measures are hailed as religious freedom.
Conservative opposition to D.C.’s RHNDA has been predicated on the idea that it stripped companies of their religious freedom as though companies were people.
For example, over at American Thinker I found this claim being made:
The court’s decision in Hobby Lobby protects closely-held private employers from having to violate their conscience in providing contraception as part of their employee health care plans. As the Hobby Lobby decision expressly prohibits what RHNDA seeks to enforce, it is rather peculiar then that the council claims that it does not apply to the District.
But it is somehow not a violation of conscience for employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.
“America was founded on the principle of religious freedom,” Boehner said. It’s just a shame Republicans think only corporations have that freedom, that corporations have rights of conscience but individuals do not.
If ever less thought went into thinking, it will have to be proven to me.
To help justify the House move, Beohner goes on to say,
In December, then-Mayor Vincent Gray urged the City Council to postpone voting on the so-called Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) “until significant legal concerns … are resolved.” Gray, a Democrat, wrote that:
“the bill raises serious concerns under the Constitution and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). Religious organizations, religiously-affiliated organizations, religiously-driven for-profit entities, and political organizations may have strong First Amendment and RFRA grounds for challenging the law’s applicability to them. Moreover, to the extent that some of the bill’s language protects only one sex’s reproductive health decisions, that language may run afoul of the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee. … While I applaud the goals of this legislation, as currently drafted, this legislation is legally problematic.”
You have to love how the RHNDA is legally problematic but “Hobby Lobby” is not, how forcing other people to abide by your religion is perfectly okay but forcing corporations to respect their employees’ religious freedom is somehow persecution.
Boehner is right in saying that America was founded on principles of religious freedom. He is wrong to say that what he is doing is promoting that religious freedom.
The only thing the House of Representatives is promoting is religious tyranny, and in direct violation of the United States Constitution’s First Amendment.
The fly in the buttermilk is that as Bridget Bowman pointed out at Roll Call yesterday, “As with any D.C. law, the D.C. Council transmitted RHNDA to Congress for a 30-day review process during which time Congress can formally block the law by passing a joint resolution of disapproval. That review period ends Saturday.”
In other words, Congress waited too long to act and lost their chance to strip D.C. residents of their freedoms. Bowman notes that, “House conservatives are pushing for lawmakers to incorporate a policy rider in the District’s spending bill to block implementation of the act, though it is not clear how exactly a rider could do so.”
Delmore Schwartz said in 1937, “Time is the fire in which we burn.”* Time, even more pointedly, is the enemy of the catastrophically Republican 114th Congress, which is so good at doing nothing that it did nothing just a little too well, and so lost their chance to oppress the residents of Washington, D.C.
* “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day,” 1937

In case you forgot - there's no difference between christian and muslim fundamentalists - they are all nasty people

Georgia Cult Sign: 'Homosexuality Is A Death Worthy Crime'
The pastor of a cult in Milledgeville, Ga., recently changed the sign outside his church to read, "Homosexuality is a death worthy crime," according to Georgia television station WGXA.
The sign caused a stir in the neighborhood, but Robert Lee, the pastor of ten commandments cult, defended his sign and claimed he was quoting the bible.

D. L. Hughley Whacks Dan Senor For Being Perpetually Wrong On Foreign Policy

 D. L. Hughley Whacks Dan Senor For Being Perpetually Wrong On Foreign Policy
Someone finally asked chickenhawk Dan Senor the question he and all of his ilk should be asked every single time any one of these warmongers who were so wrong about invading Iraq are allowed on our airways.

Maher Slams Republican Chickenhawks For Having Learned Nothing From Invading Iraq

Maher Slams Republican Chickenhawks For Having Learned Nothing From Invading IraqReal Time host Bill Maher went after Republicans during his New Rules segment for having learned absolutely nothing from our invasion of Iraq.