You need to know this. We all now know about Right-to-Work-for-less laws in Michigan, thanks to Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the corporate oligarchs. But, believe it or not, Right-to-Work-for-less may not even be the most radical, anti-democratic law that passed in Michigan this week. Late Wednesday, Republicans in the State House passed a new emergency financial managers law, which allows Rick Snyder to take over an entire city, appoint mini-dictators who can fire all the local elected officials, and take the reins of looting that city. The new law will allow Governor Snyder to break union contracts, slash budgets, and sell off parts of the commons to for-profit corporations. This is a radically anti-democratic law and it’s already been put in place in mostly-minority, cash-strapped cities like Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Pontiac, and Flint. But what’s even more radical, is that just last month on Election Day, voters repealed Snyder’s emergency financial managers law. Voters said, “no way!” and the law was kaput. So in response, and in a huge slap in the face to voters, Republicans just passed the law again. Governor Snyder claims the law is new-and-improved to address voter concerns. But the incoming Democratic House Minority Leader called the legislation a “mirror image” of the law that was repealed in November. Snyder thinks that by just changing the name of the law, he can send his mini-dictators back into the field, to take over more of Michigan’s cities against the will of the voters. The Republican overreach in Michigan is unprecedented. A movement of organized working men and women must respond and make sure Republicans are never given power again in the Wolverine State.
In screwed news…race baiting and lies help the Republicans prevail once again. The take down of Susan Rice is complete, as she has formally withdrew her name from consideration for Secretary of State. In a letter to the President, Rice wrote, “The position of Secretary of State should never be politicized. I am saddened that we have reached this point even before you have decided whom to nominate.” Republicans made a political calculation that they could exploit the Benghazi attacks to smear Susan Rice – yet another African American official in the Obama Administration that’s been the target of a vicious attack campaign by Republicans. And they succeeded in getting their way. What Republicans really want is John Kerry nominated for Secretary of State, so that there will be an open Senate seat in Massachusetts and oligarchs like Sheldon Adelson can buy it for Scott Brown – Wall Street’s favorite guy. This was strictly political, and once again it shows the depths Republicans are willing to go to to protect their billionaire agenda.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Speaker of the House John Boehner is either lying, or he doesn’t know what the heck the debt limit is in the first place. During a press conference on Thursday, Boehner told reporters that the he opposes giving the President the power to unilaterally raise the debt limit saying, “Congress is never going to give up our ability to control the purse.” Actually – the debt limit has nothing to do with controlling the purse or setting spending levels – something Boehner should know after a long career in the House. All the debt limit does is set a limit to how much of the nation’s credit card can be paid down. Raising the debt limit does not authorize more spending; it just gives the Treasury Department authority to pay the bills on money that’s already been spent - like Bush’s two wars and his expensive giveaway to drug companies, Medicare Part D. But Republicans don’t want voters to know that, because they plan to take the debt limit hostage in order to force big spending cuts that hurt the middle class. The entire Republicans strategy relies on them lying to low-information voters about what the debt limit really is.
President Obama has finally weighed in on what he plans to do with Colorado and Washington, now that those two states have legalized marijuana. In an interview set to air tonight on ABC, the President said his administration has, “bigger fish to fry” than to use his Justice Department to crack down in the states. President Obama said, “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.” The President also said he’s willing to have a conversation about changing how strict federal law is in regard to marijuana, now that state laws are legalizing it. Echoing that sentiment, the top Senator on the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, floated the idea of softening federal law prohibiting marijuana usage. President Obama was an aggressive drug warrior in his first term, let’s hope he loosens up in his second term, and leaves it up to the states to deliver the final blows to Richard Nixon’s failed drug war.
And finally…this week – the European High Court of Human Rights condemned the secret extraordinary rendition programs of former President George W Bush, calling them torture and a violation of international law. The case involved Khaled El-Masri, who was abducted in Macedonia in 2003 and handed over to CIA agents, who tortured El-Masri and locked him up in a secret detention facility in Afghanistan for four months. He was never charged with any crime. The court found that while in the custody of the CIA, El-Masri was beaten, drugged, shackled, and even sodomized. Sending terror suspects to third world nations to be tortured in secret facilities was a common practice during the Bush Administration. But this ruling by the Human Rights court could bring a lot more accountability to European nations that assisted the United States with extraordinary rendition after 9/11. The only way to move forward, is to make sure the crimes of the past don’t go unpunished. It’s still not to late to prosecute Bush for war crimes.