The Widdershins

Et tu PACs…

Posted on: August 26, 2014

Good afternoon Widdershins.

Before delving in on today’s primary subject, let’s update a few recent stories. First, the killing of Michael Brown in Michael Brown BodyFerguson, Missouri. CNN is reporting there is an audio recording of the gunshots during the killing. The FBI has interviewed the owner of the tape who lives nearby the scene of Brown’s shooting. Fearing for his safety, the owner wishes to remain anonymous.

The recording depicts eleven shots being fired. What is legally and factually important is this: After the first series of five or six shots, there is a substantial pause before the final five or six shots are fired.

Along with at least five witnesses who saw parts of the encounter between Brown and Officer Warren, this tape, if authentic, provides incontrovertible evidence as to the sequence of events — particularly if Brown was retreating and surrendering. We will be hearing about that couple of seconds pause for months to come.

No matter what the tape demonstrates or the eyewitnesses say, there is a motto by which criminal defense attorneys live: If there are problems getting the facts from the police, you can bet there is a problem with the facts.

As an update on the corporate tax dodging issue of inversion I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, it looks as if Burger King has joined the band of American corporate abdicators. Burger King will be buying Tim Horton’s, a Canadian restaurant chain, for $11 Billion and moving its headquarters to north of the border.

According to Burger King, the gobbling up of Tim Horton’s makes sense since Burger King wants to refocus its efforts in the breakfast wars. Burger King insists a marginally lower tax rate isn’t the reason for the move. I guess to some corporate executives just heightening the effort to ensure every human on the planet has a diabetes diagnosis before age fifteen is reason enough for the Burger King move.

Gas or the vapors, you decide...

Gas or the vapors, you decide…

One last update on the situation in Iraq and Syria as it relates to the marauding ISIS or ISIL. There are now reconnaissance missions approved over Syria. With the five proxy wars now raging over Syria, the precision on where to bomb is indeed a tricky one. To do damage to ISIL without helping the Assad regime is indeed trying to thread a moving needle with a cruise missile.

Lady Lindsey just about had a terminal case of the vapors on the Sunday morning talkies because he declares, Obama‘s proclamation of “doing nothing stupid,” is not a foreign policy. It seems lost on the L.L. and John McCain that the alternative to such a policy is affirmatively “doing something stupid“. Seems like we were employing the “doing something stupid” policy when we were lied into invading Iraq twelve years ago. Some lessons are hard to learn.

Turning to the subject of today’s post, if there’s a Senate race in your state, you probably have been inundated by political ads from outside groups. I know I have. The ads have been running all summer, but the frequency has picked up.

For those on a PAC payroll, it is indeed the best of times — there should be muffin baskets aplenty delivered to the Supreme Court for the Citizens United decision. The Citizens United decision should be styled as the political hack retirement act since billions are flowing through groups that are little more than legalized “grift mills”.

So if you are a down on your luck political entrepreneur, what do you do? Take these national groups and localize them. AFPThat is exactly what the Brothers Koch have funded. The Koch’s Americans for Prosperity has more than 200 full-time staffers in at least 32 states. As we know, idle hands are the devil’s workshop so these minions have gotten busy — busy with local elections.

There were the county board elections in Wisconsin over a zoning change for mining rights near and dear to the interests of the Brothers Koch. There was a mayoral race in Iowa and property tax fights in Kansas, Ohio, and Texas. In Arkansas, the local AFP group succeeded in turning the state legislature red for the first time since Reconstruction.

To be fair, it is not just the tentacles of the Kochtopus delivering all this local political havoc. There’s been a New Jersey school board election pounced on by a PAC funded by the bail bondsmen — too convoluted to try and explain in this limited space. Outside PACs have hit constable races in Texas and the Boston mayoral race. In Nevada, a pro-shooting group launched a PAC to target a state senator who improvidently sponsored a bill to expand background checks.

Then you have the Liberty for All super Pac. It has meddled in legislative races in Texas, Maine, and West Virginia. Liberty’s claim to fame came in 2012, when it parachuted into northern Kentucky and dropped $1.7 million into a congressional race guaranteeing the election of Republican Thomas Massie.

At the time, the main funding source of Liberty was a young man named John Ramsey. Ramsey, who was then in college, earned his money the old-fashioned way, he inherited it. Having reached the sage age of 23, Ramsey now waxes eloquently about the “big return” on relatively small amounts of local political contributions by saying, “We can incubate candidates.” How positively cyborg of him.

TN JudgesAll of these PAC funded political shenanigans might be amusing until somebody gets killed, but that is exactly what was at stake in Tennessee. The local Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity launched a campaign to recall three Tennessee Supreme Court justices. Deemed too liberal by the AFP group, the aim was to replace these justices with more conservative and “pro-biddness” justices “in a relatively cheap way” through inexpensive judicial recall elections.

Taking the lesson of the three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were replaced after ruling in the same-sex marriage case, the three Tennessee justices took to political fray. Since the central issue of attack chosen by the local AFP PAC was softness on crime, the Supreme Court justices found themselves bragging about the number of executions they passed on during the previous eight years. To quote:

During our tenure in service there have been four executions during the last eight years, whereas in the 46 years prior to that there were only two executions.

Tennessee is but an example. Thirty-eight states put their high court justices on the ballot. While all three Tennessee Super PACsjustices prevailed in their elections, not for a moment can we believe this gorilla-style pouncing out of the trees by groups like Americans for Prosperity doesn’t weigh upon these judges. It probably doesn’t affect the high-profile cases, but you can bet it affects those at the edges — those cases where the law is unclear and the equities are close.

Who are usually the litigants in these types of cases? You can bet it won’t be large corporations or those who have been suckled on trust-funds. It will be the average, run-of-the-mill litigants — the average Joe and Jane Lunchbuckets who will be the victims in this judicial second-guessing especially in capital cases.

Judicial second-guessing brought to you by Citizens United in order to guarantee constitutional rights to corporate legal fictions that exist on paper and reside in filing cabinets in some Secretary of State’s office. Et tu PACs?

As always take this conversation anywhere you would like.


4 Responses to "Et tu PACs…"

After the first series of five or six shots, there is a substantial pause before the final five or six shots are fired.

It shouldn’t have been a pause to reload, assuming the cop was carrying a semi-auto which most seem to do nowadays This situation isn’t going to get any better.


That pic of “I am AFP”. I wonder if the Koch Bros just laugh their @sses off when they see folks doing that. How incredibly dumb.

Shades of “The Pelican Brief”.

For days now, I have been wallowing in the thoughts that we have not made real progress. Then, today I get this video that shows me how far we have come from the almost 100% (34,998 out of 35,000) white university that I attended to the present:

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