Here are 11 appalling laws pushed by right-wing Republican nutters near you

John Kasich speaks to CNN (screen grab)

John Kasich speaks to CNN (screen grab)


November, many Americans who didn’t vote in 2014 or 2015 will be casting a vote for president of the United States. Midterms and off-year elections are often ignored by registered voters, but anyone who doubts the importance of voting in every election need only look at the type of damage far-right Republicans can do at the state or local level when they are in control. Although Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and President Barack Obama was reelected decisively in 2012, Republicans fared extremely well during the 2010 and 2014 midterms, not only in Congress, but in the state and local races. The result has been an obscene amount of destructive legislation, from anti-union laws to harsh anti-abortion and anti-contraception measures to laws that harm the environment.

Below are 10 terrible laws or bills brought to you by some of the more obscure GOP politicians wielding way too much power in statehouses and state legislatures around the country.

1. HB 174 Prevents Alabama Cities from Setting Their Own Minimum Wages

Among progressives, the battle to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour is being fought at the city, state and federal levels. Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, running as a Democrat, favors raising the federal minimum wage to $15, and Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco are three cities where, according to local laws, minimum wages must gradually increase to $15 per hour. But in Alabama, which has the misfortune of being plagued by both a far-right Republican governor, Robert Bentley, and a GOP-dominated legislature, it is now illegal for municipalities to have a minimum wage higher than $7.25 per hour.

On February 25, Bentley signed into law Alabama House Bill 174, which forbids Alabama cities from passing their own minimum wages, and with his signature, Bentley struck down a Birmingham law that would have raised that city’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. Neither Bentley nor Alabama’s legislature respected Birmingham’s autonomy when it came to setting its own minimum wage, which is appalling but not surprising: Alabama is a “right to work for less” state, and in Bentley’s mind, even $10.10 is too generous for the peasants.

2. West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act, aka West Virginia SB 01

Union dues are a small price to pay for the higher wages, protections and benefits that typically go with union membership. But one of the ways Republicans undermine unions is by pushing for laws that prohibit unions from requiring dues; for example, West Virginia SB 01, the so-called West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act, passed earlier this year. Since Republicans had enough seats in the West Virginia legislature to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the law goes into effect July 1. And having just scored another anti-union victory in addition to passing anti-union laws in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana in recent years, the GOP will no doubt seek to keep increasing the number of states with “right to work for less” laws (which are bad economic policy because workers who make less spend less and support fewer businesses).

3. Florida SB 1722/HB 1411: Anti-Abortion, Anti-Contraception, Anti-Women’s Health

In European countries where comprehensive sex education and easy access to contraception are the norm, the number of abortions goes way down. Fewer unplanned pregnancies means fewer abortions, and the low abortion rates in countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands bears that out. But in the Florida legislature, Republicans have passed a bill that will increase unplanned pregnancies while making abortion much more difficult. SB 1722/HB 1411, likely to be signed into law by Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, defunds Planned Parenthood while stating that abortions can only be performed by doctors with local hospital admitting privileges, a thinly veiled ploy to make it impossible for clinics providing women with abortions to continue to operate.

4. Wisconsin AB 554: the Fast-Track to Water Privatization

In recent years, Republicans in northern states have been effectively making tap water either unsafe or unaffordable (or both) under the guise of privatization. In 2015, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law the so-called Water Infrastructure Protection Act, which will make it easier to privatize local water systems in that state. Thanks to Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, residents of Flint have basically been poisoned by their tap water. And now, in Wisconsin, Republicans in the state legislature are promoting Assembly Bill 554, which would fast-track water privatization in municipalities. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO, which opposes 554, has been posing the question, “Could Wisconsin be the next Flint, Michigan?” Given that Republicans are involved, that is certainly a reasonable question.

5. The Alabama Student Religious Liberties Act

Republicans often claim that the American Civil Liberties Union is anti-religious freedom for opposing laws that promote prayer in public schools. But no organization is more supportive of religious freedom than the ACLU, which realizes that when Christian fundamentalists can use public schools to promote their agenda, it is discriminatory against children of other faiths. In Alabama, the Christian Right adores the Student Religious Liberties Act of 2015, signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley last year. The law requires public schools to “allow religious expression in class assignments, course work, and artwork,” but considering the contempt far-right Christian fundamentalists typically have for other faiths, don’t expect to hear a lot of Hindu or Buddhist chants in Alabama classrooms anytime soon.

6. Oklahoma HB 3044 Seeks to Isolate Gay Teens from Pro-Gay Organizations and Counselors

For gay teens suffering from anxiety or depression, seeing a therapist can be a very positive thing. But if Republican Sally Kern, one of the most anti-gay legislators in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, had her way, that lifeline would likely be cut off. Introduced by Kern, HB 3044 would discourage public schools from referring gay teens to any therapist or organization that is pro-gay: if the therapist or organization is considered pro-gay, parents would have to be notified immediately. However, no parental notification would be necessary for therapists or groups that aren’t considered pro-gay.

7. SB 733: Republican Bigotry Oklahoma Style

With the U.S. Supreme Court having legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states last year, Oklahoma Republicans cannot prevent gays from getting married in that state. However, they can make bigoted proposals like Oklahoma Senate Bill 733, which would forbid anyone who is HIV-positive from getting married in the state. The law doesn’t mention gays specifically, but one need only read between the lines to know who the bill is targeting (not that HIV affects gays exclusively). Problem: SB 733 would be a blatant violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

8. Oklahoma SB 1848, aka the Oklahoma Human Life Act, and Oklahoma HB 2797, aka the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act

Although Republican Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed Oklahoma SB 1848, the Oklahoma Human Life Act of 2014, into law two years ago, it has been challenged in court by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The Oklahoma State Supreme Court has delayed its enforcement, but in February, Oklahoma Judge Don Andrews upheld the law as constitutional. Like similar anti-abortion laws in Texas and elsewhere, SB 1848 greatly restricts abortion access statewide by saying abortions can only be legally performed in the presence of a physician with local hospital admitting privileges. Oklahoma is also a state where the Christian right has a long history of promoting failed abstinence-only sex education programs. And on March 1, the state’s House of Representatives passed Oklahoma HB 2797, aka the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act, which would force public schools to teach students that life begins at conception and calls for an “abortion-free society.”

9. Florida HB 191: Fast Track to Fracking

For pro-fracking zealots in the Florida GOP, it isn’t enough to have fracking in some parts of the state, they want to impose it all over Florida. On January 27, Florida’s House of Representatives passed GOP-sponsored HB 191, which would prevent any municipalities in the Sunshine State from having a local moratorium on fracking. Presently, fracking is legal in Florida, although municipalities can opt out if they choose (Palm Beach County has a local fracking ban). But HB 191 seeks to force fracking on all Florida communities whether they want it or not.

10. Ohio House Bill 294: Defunding Planned Parenthood in the Buckeye State

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is often described as the least extreme of 2016’s Republican presidential candidates (which isn’t saying much), but in late February, he signed into law Ohio House Bill 294, which forbids any group that performs abortions from receiving federal funds, including Planned Parenthood. Of course, the federal funds Planned Parenthood was receiving in Ohio were not being set aside for abortions; under the Hyde Amendment, federal funds can’t be used to finance abortions except in extreme cases. But Kasich did succeed in cutting Ohio women off from federal funding for all the other services Planned Parenthood provides, such as breast exams, HIV testing and prenatal care for expectant mothers (abortions comprise a mere 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services).

11. Senate Bill 4: Kentucky’s New Anti-Abortion Law

Signed into law by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin last month, Senate Bill 4 requires that women in Kentucky receive in-person counseling 24 hours before an abortion. The Kentucky ACLU describes SB 4 as “an unnecessary barrier to safe and legal abortion practices,” and Derek Selznick (director of the Kentucky ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project), said, “Legislators were not elected to provide medical advice or care to Kentucky women.” This is the same Bevin who began dismantling Kentucky’s successful, state-run Obamacare exchange, Kynect, right after taking office in January. So the health of Kentucky women is not high on his list of priorities.

This Is The First Sign Republicans Are Already Crumbling On The Supreme Court



Senate Republicans have publicly said they are refusing to give Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland a fair hearing and an up or down vote that has been afforded to others in a similar position for decades. But on Friday came the first sign that political pressure over the court is getting to some in the party.

Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois is up for re-election in a state that voted overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2012, and he has now become the first to give in.

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk took shot at his Republican colleagues on Friday for refusing to hold a Senate hearing and vote on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

“Just man up and cast a vote. The tough thing about these senatorial jobs is you get yes or no votes,” Kirk told “The Big John Howell Show” on Chicago’s WLS-AM. “Your whole job is to either say yes or no and explain why.”

Kirk realizes that he needs some Democrats to back him in his race against Rep. Tammy Duckworth, and that his own party’s petulant insistence to not even give Judge Garland a hearing is hurting them.

Garland was nominated in part due to past statements from Republicans like Senator Orrin Hatch, who said his strong record and credentials would make him worthy of a nomination and consideration by Republicans, even if nominated by a Democrat.

In other ways Republicans have begun to crumble on Garland. They originally said they wouldn’t even meet with him, as is customary for nominees. But now some Senate Republicans have decided that the optics of refusing to answer the door when Garland comes calling would make for bad television and fodder for Democrats in the fall election.

Republicans are being squeezed even further with the news that front-running presidential candidate Donald Trump also believes that Garland’s nomination should be rejected out of hand without hearings. As polls show Trump could be a drag on the party in the fall, they are being forced to demonstrate ways that they aren’t marching in lockstep with him, and in fact working towards a situation where Trump is the one picking the next Supreme Court justice.

Their kneejerk opposition to the nomination offered by Obama is going to have to last for about nine months, and as Kirk has shown, that may be impossible in the long run.

Oliver Willis

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Americans Tell Senate GOP To Let President Obama Pick Supreme Court Nominee (IMAGE)


Sorry, Republicans. The American people have spoken and you lose.

Ever since Justice Antonin Scalia died, Republicans have insisted that President Obama should let whoever wins the 2016 presidential election nominate the new Supreme Court Justice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even vowed not to even consider anyone Obama picks, which is a complete betrayal of the Constitution and everything Scalia stood for.

And the American people overwhelmingly disagree with the GOP.

Not only is President Obama serving out the final year of the second term a majority of Americans elected him to serve, a new poll shows that Americans still want him to the job despite what Republicans want.

A new Rasmussen poll indicates that Americans not only think President Obama should make the pick, they say Senate Republicans should NOT block any nomination Obama puts forth.

All told, 51 percent of Americans say President Obama is still the commander-in-chief, therefore he should get to replace Scalia, while only 43 percent say he shouldn’t. An even bigger percentage of people, 53 percent, say Senate Republicans should not stand in his way. Only 35 percent say Senate Republicans should remain the obstructionist assholes they are.

Here’s a chart showing the poll results via ThinkProgress.



The poll represents the opinions of likely voters, which means Republicans should probably reconsider their stance since any political stunt could hurt them on Election Day. People are sick and tired of GOP obstructionism and blocking President Obama from filling a vacant seat on the Supreme Court out of some sick political game won’t impress voters at all.

But rather than listen to the American people, Republicans will probably ignore them like they did when they listened to Ted Cruz and shut down the government. If Republicans really care about not getting their asses totally handed to them at the voting booth this November, they need to suck it up, respect that President Obama is still their president, and give any nominee he puts forward a fair confirmation hearing. That’s what the American people want, that’s what the American people should get.

Stephen D Foster Jr



GOP Cracks Form… Key Senator Leaves Door Open For Hearings…Vulnerable Republican Flip-Flops: Now I’m Willing To Vote… Another Warns Against ‘Obstructionism’… Carson: GOP Prez Wouldn’t Wait To Nominate…


‘How Many Times Did You Have Sex In Junior High?’ Intensive Vetting Begins…Republicans Struggle To Defend Outright Obstructionism… Schumer: ‘They Will Have To Back Off’… WATCH: Reagan Urged Vote On Lame Duck Nomination…

GOP Demonstrate true meaning of “Job-Killing”…

Republicans fine with increasing unemployment…and they don’t deny that it’s what they’re doing!

The Rachel Maddow Show

Rachel Maddow explains this as clearly as anyone I know:

Part 1

Part 2

The New Freshman Class of Extremist Senators

From People for the American Way.

The message here is: “Watch out for those newly elected senators and congressmen, they want to turn back the clock to the 50’s….”

Clarence Thomas’ Ethics Problems, Then and Now

Justice Clarence Thomas has been noted for having the least to say during arguments before the Supreme Court.  It seems he never asks questions of the plaintiff nor the defendant when any given case is argued before The Court.

One has to wonder…is he that stupid or does he have something to hide, knowing that if he made one mistake, he’d be held up to scrutiny by the press and by a country full of bloggers, like myself.

Let me be clear, I do not like Clarence Thomas.  I do not like how Senate Republicans did everything they could to undermine Anita Hill and make HER look like the guilt party at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings nineteen years ago.  Having said that…

The Nation

Why now? What, after almost twenty years, prompted Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to leave a message on Brandeis professor Anita Hill’s office voicemail asking her to apologize for accusing Justice Thomas of sexual harassment during his 1991 confirmation hearings?

The timing was interesting. Ginni Thomas placed her call to Hill the morning after the New York Times reported that Virginia Thomas’s new Liberty Central organization accepted “large, unidentified contributions” totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those untraceable dollars came in the flood of right-wing funding following the Citizens United campaign finance decision, in which Justice Thomas voted with the majority. The Times reported that a wide range of legal ethicists said Liberty Central’s financing raises “knotty questions” about a conflict of interest for Justice Thomas.


It is now nearly forgotten that Thomas’s ethics record gave Hill’s accusation traction. Briefly a federal appeals judge, and before that a Reagan operative charged with undercutting civil rights enforcement, Thomas had a long habit of telling untruthful stories. As the late civil rights scholar Haywood Burns, dean of the law school at City University of New York, testified during the ’91 hearings before Hill’s accusations surfaced, Thomas’s testimony and record were marked by “a lack of candor, compassion and ethical judgment.”

Reporting to Congress as head of the EEOC, Thomas misrepresented his agency’s nonenforcement of age discrimination law. As a federal judge he sat on an appeals court review of the criminal conviction of Col. Oliver North, despite having spoken out in support of North’s actions in the Iran/Contra scandal. He failed to recuse himself from a case involving his political patron, Senator John Danforth.

To score points, Thomas even lied about his sister: falsely describing her in speeches as pathetically welfare dependent, a mocking depiction utterly at odds with the proud and hard existence of a woman who worked a series of minimum-wage jobs for most of her life to support her family.

Perhaps Ginni Thomas’s phone call was a smokescreen—an attempted distraction from the reporting on Liberty Central’s funding. Maybe it was unrelated. Either way, twenty years later it bears remembering that Hill’s accusations were not just a matter of “she said, he said.” Hill, in 1991, testified as a credible witness of unquestioned probity.

Thomas had a documented ethics problem then—and, it appears, an ongoing ethics problem now. Back then, Thomas’s truth problem obscured his shameful role in undoing the very civil rights tradition that made his nomination possible. Today, the Thomases’ evocation of that old episode obscures an ethically challenged Supreme Court justice complicit in handing American politics over to corporations and anonymous far-right donors—that is the real scandal.