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This was said about a campaign finance law: “As other histories tell us, attempts to purify the public square lead to places like the Guillotine and the Gulag.” That wasn’t said on some conspiracy theory site like World Net Daily or Infowars. It wasn’t in one of those forwarded e-mails you get from your wingnut crazy uncle. That was said by a federal judge. In an opinion!

That nutty sentence came from U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa, in an opinion where he didn’t merely stop a prosecutors from continuing to try a case, because the case was still in the investigation stage. He stopped the investigation. Prosecutors can’t even look into it further than they have, and he ordered them to return or destroy all evidence to guarantee no one can ever investigate again. The targets were the campaign of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and some outside groups who supported him, for allegations of illegal coordination. Randa cited McCutcheon and Citizens United, neither of which apply here, so coordination between independent groups and candidates’ campaigns is still illegal.

Randa was appointed by a Republican president. Try not to act shocked. Oooh, well done. Though you might be slightly surprised that he was appointed by the senior Bush, supposedly the less ideological one. Can you imagine a Democratic president appointing a judge who would say regulating campaign finance leads to the guillotine and the gulag? Whatever disagreements you’ve had with modern Democratic presidents on whatever issues, you’ve known that at least they’re not going to appoint judges like Randa.

That’s why it matters which party wins and gets to appoint judges. Stakes are a lot lower at the state level, but the argument still applies since governors appoint judges too. Who wins matters. A lot. If you need just one reason to vote, to get someone else to vote, to care who wins, judges are it. The damage they can do, well, let’s put it this way: without the 5-4 conservative majority majority on the Supreme Court, we would still have campaign finance laws. We wouldn’t have judicial abetment of the running-amok of big business. Bush Jr. would not have been allowed to steal an election. If you want a Rosetta Stone to understand the conservative judiciary, look at where big business and billionaires care, and where they don’t care. Where they care, they get what they want.

The next person who says the parties are the same, or it doesn’t matter who wins, is too big a fool to be listened to any further.

Fortunately in this one case, hope is not lost. The appeals court stayed the ruling. They allowed Randa to still stop the investigation, but the ordered the evidence gathered thus far to be preserved. Here’s hoping the overturn the ruling, and that if there was a crime committed, the investigators will have time to complete it before the Supreme Court throws it out. By a 5-4 majority, of course.

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Comment Preferences

  •  least likely to be quoted in the future.. (10+ / 0-)

    except as one of the worst crap decisions ever.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Fri May 09, 2014 at 12:03:03 AM PDT

  •  I wish I could recommend this a thousand (25+ / 0-)

    times. The judiciary are the ultimate arbiters and I don't think it is exaggeration to say that the future of democracy may well hinge on the character of court appointments during the next ten or fifteen years. Citizens United and McCutcheon have shown that no matter what the executive or legislative branches do, the courts, especially SCOTUS, can apply their agenda driven constructions of the law in order to impose their distorted vision on the Nation. The law is what they say it is.

    They can pervert the electoral process, can do irreparable damage to education, can further privilege the already privileged, can concentrate information dispersal in the hands of a few bloated corporations, can allow the internet to bend to the will of monied gatekeepers, can skewer economic law to favor the already favored. In short, we are nearing a point where the damage may be beyond remedy. This is a self-perpetuating calamity for the health of the nation.

    This is why I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that we are in crisis and must concentration our efforts on preventing the ultra conservatives from controlling the appointment process.

    In truth the Bush appointed Court (which I prefer to call the Nader Court because, IMHO, he enabled it) may well have already taken us beyond the point of remediation. Its just absurd to think that the country will be the same with a president from either party, as if it doesn't matter. Think how different things would be if Nader had not handed the election to Bush in 2000. There would be no Citizens United, no McCutcheon, no Iraq war, the environment would be a lot healthier, and on an on.

    There can be no doubt that disaffected splinter groups have in the past had invaluable influence on the course of American history. But it is a matter of timing. This is not the time for internal division on the left. The ideological balance in the courts is hanging precariously on the edge and we have seen what a conservatively leaning Court can do. Imagine what can happen if there is a solid majority of ultra conservatives to dictate the direction of jurisprudence. The consequences are too frightening to contemplate. It is hard for me to understand why so many people refuse to see that we are staring into the abyss.

    "PLEASE STOP EATING ANIMALS" Fourth Grader's Crayon Poster.

    by Pirogue on Fri May 09, 2014 at 12:34:33 AM PDT

    •  If the Repugs gain the Senate, the SCOTUS (7+ / 0-)

      appointment will be a complete mess.  The Republicans will delay and hold hearings and try to prevent anyone from getting appointed until past 2016.  Obama may try a recess appointment and it'll go to the current SCOTUS and they'll give it to the Republicans and all hell is going to break loose.

      Anyone who stays home from this election is beyond a fool.

      •  If it is one of the 5 that retires/exits the court (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pollwatcher, Sister Havana

        then we'll be 4-to-4 with Roberts as the extra thumb on the scale.

        Ugly, to be sure.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        —Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Fri May 09, 2014 at 08:59:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Generally speaking, it is often 4 - 4 already, but (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          polecat

          Kennedy is usually the one who can be swayed one way or another.

          Lately, though, he has shown a lot of fondness for Roberts and the decisions have been decidedly conservative.

          At the same time, anyone who thinks that judicial appointments are vitally important should ask why this administration doesn't have a full line-up of judges nominated for openings which exist.

          Obama, like Clinton before him, didn't put a lot of emphasis or time into making sure the federal benches were filled, while Republican presidents shift into overtime to insure they can appoint as many as possible.  I don't understand why that is....

          Does anyone?

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Fri May 09, 2014 at 10:02:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Linky, for those who are curious: (0+ / 0-)
            There are currently 77 vacancies on the federal district and appellate courts.[1]  With over 850 authorized judicial seats, this represents a nine percent vacancy rate.  This alarmingly high vacancy rate has persisted for over four years; indeed, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service recently determined that we are in the longest period of historically high vacancy rates in 35 years.[2]  In addition, over 44 percent of the existing vacancies (34) are in courts so overburdened that they have been designated "judicial emergencies" by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. [3]  Millions of people live in jurisdictions with judicial emergencies.[4]
            Obama administration shifts into higher gear this year... what were they doing the last five years when the courts were just as important?

            Judicial vacancies.   Administration needs to get to work:  77 vacancies, only 40 nominated.  Barely over 50%.  Why aren't there 77 nominees???

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Fri May 09, 2014 at 10:09:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  The grim and sad fact is that the (17+ / 0-)

    the judiciary is becoming as politicized as the legislative branch as the zealots on the right install fellow zealots on the bench.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:39:20 AM PDT

    •  Thank the Kochs and their buddies (5+ / 0-)

      They have already learned to work the system from the bottom up, dumping literally millions into local races for school board, county commissioners, state representatives etc.  Therefore we are already seeing nutty laws being passed locally and on the state level, such as the recent "religious conscience" law that several states are fighting to enact so that a person is able to discriminate against any minority, LGBT, etc in any manner so long as they can prove it is the product of a "sincere religious conviction"

      Next battleground is for judgeships which are elective.  This election cycle we may see the first multimillion campaigns for jobs that were once largely uncontested as they paid less than $100K annually in many areas

  •  Isn't what Randa did (4+ / 0-)

    an attempt to "purifying the public square"?

    Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

    by tobendaro on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:42:42 AM PDT

  •  I am reminded of the quote "Democracy is the worst (8+ / 0-)

    from of government, except for all the rest. Well, let's face it, we are all, at times, disappointed with some Democrats, whether they be too moderate, or too leftist, or too pro-corporate or pro war for our tastes. They are a flawed and confusing group.

    But the Republicans are so much worse. The only hope is the stated goal of Kos; elect more and BETTER Democrats, but you start by making sure you can elect Democrats at all. The Republican party is firmly set against allowing you that right.

  •  Lots of open positions in the pipeline awaiting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maybeeso in michigan

    confirmations. Lots till waiting for the administration to appoint candidates. Not much progress during this administrations with this congress.

    "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." Edward R. Murrow

    by temptxan on Fri May 09, 2014 at 05:35:46 AM PDT

  •  this judge has had some other questionable (7+ / 0-)

    opinions, I think
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...
    http://www.jsonline.com/...
    "Late yesterday, Judge Rudolph Randa ruled that a deaf survivor of  Fr. Lawrence Murphy is bound by an agreement he reached with church officials even though he was deceived in order to secure that agreement."

    There seem to be more out there but this much surfaces from a quick search

  •  I think the seventh circuit court gave Randa (4+ / 0-)

    enough rope to hang himself when they allowed him to declare the appeal frivolous.  My understanding of frivolous is that it is without merit.

    The only way to show it is "with merit" is to show the evidence...

  •  "It doesn't matter who wins" (10+ / 0-)
    The next person who says the parties are the same, or it doesn’t matter who wins, is too big a fool to be listened to any further.
    Agreed.  If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that one, well...

    The usual offenders are low-information voters or non-voters, generally apathetic, cynical, apolitical people - especially those of a naturally conservative temperament, who believe deep down that nothing can be done to change the system anyway, so why bother?

    Of course, fomenting this kind of fatalism plays directly into Republican hands - because it suppresses the hope, the optimism, and the enthusiasm of ordinary people to wrest control of the system back from the oligarchs and the plutocrats - leaving the corporate special interests and their hardcore base of supporters to determine the outcomes of our elections, and thereby retain the power and the control.

    So it's a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.  Reminds me of the famous movie line: "The greatest lie the Devil ever told was to convince the world that he doesn't exist".

    All that is necessary for the triumph of the Right is that progressives do nothing.

    by Mystic Michael on Fri May 09, 2014 at 06:20:48 AM PDT

  •  Ding ding ding (7+ / 0-)
    The next person who says the parties are the same, or it doesn’t matter who wins, is too big a fool to be listened to any further.
  •  "voting against someone isn't good enough" (4+ / 0-)

    That's another one that drives me crazy.  Voting against Republicans who are stealing our democracy and changing our country to a Plutocracy, is a DAMN GOOD reason to vote!  You get out and work for the best people in the primaries, and if they don't win, you get out and fight to stop the Republicans from grabbing power and killing our democracy.

    Seldom is the worst Democrat as bad as the best Republican.

  •  I have a different take on this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polecat, maybeeso in michigan

    Before Randa made this insane ruling, hardly anyone outside of WI knew or cared about this investigation.

    Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

  •  Keep pushing that meme. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fToRrEeEsSt, angel d

    There will always be some distinction between the parties that you can make, while they both continue to loot the country, trash the rule of law, strip the people of their Constitutional rights, and throttle what's left of the press.

    If there is any good in life, in history, in my own past, I invoke it now. I invoke it with all the passion with which I have lived. --Elizabeth Kostova,

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri May 09, 2014 at 07:54:32 AM PDT

  •  Depends on what your priorities are (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FutureNow, fToRrEeEsSt, angel d

    When it comes to economic issues very little separates the two parties. Fetishizing balanced budgets and privatization is the status quo in both parties. There's no political home for a Keynesian in today's political climate.

    I am done voting for Democrats who vote for and talk about bills that balance budgets and cut taxes for businesses. I'll never vote Republican, guess I'm a political free agent.

    I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

    by jbou on Fri May 09, 2014 at 07:54:36 AM PDT

    •  Political Free Agent basically = Republican (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GabrielinNC, freakofsociety

      If you aren't working against them, you are basically working for them.   Withholding votes from Democrats on idealistic grounds is cutting off your nose to spite your face.  

      •  Voting for a party repeatedly... (3+ / 0-)

        and not getting the results you are looking for is stupid. I am done settling for the nonsense that comes from the Democratic party. You need to do better than the we're barely better than the other guy spiel it's getting old and as the Democratic party keeps moving to the right economically it's getting harder and harder for anyone to take them seriously on the economy.

        I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

        by jbou on Fri May 09, 2014 at 08:21:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well then (5+ / 0-)

          welcome to a country completely destroyed by asshole Republicans.  And when it happens, you will have no one to blame but yourself.

          •  Yup (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            burlydee, angel d

            It's my fault that the Democratic party sold out working people and hired wall Street cronies to work in their white house. The working class has no party that puts their priorities first. Bill Clinton sold the party to wall Street in the 90s and the Democrats have never looked back. But yeah my not voting is what matters.

            I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

            by jbou on Fri May 09, 2014 at 08:38:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, your voting is what matters (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              duhban, freakofsociety

              This isn't a hard concept.

              Sitting around bitching that you won't vote for Democrats because they aren't perfect when the alternative is the unadulterated EVIL that is the current Republican party is, whether you want to admit it or not, rather ridiculous.

              If you want to work to field better Democrat candidates?  Great.  I'm all for that.  There is always room for that kind of work.  Saying you won't vote for them at all because they aren't good enough for you?  You might as well just support the Republicans if that is your attitude.   IMO it's an incredibly short-sighted attitude that has no chance of working in the long term.  

              Unless you plan on leading some major 3rd party revolution, the system is what the system is.  So you can either work within the system to get the best people we can get, or you can take your ball and go home and just say f*&# the country.   If you want to say f*&# the country, well fine, but don't pretend that isn't what you are doing.

              •  I live in Massachusetts (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                angel d

                I can vote for myself for president every year and it won’t matter one bit.

                I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

                by jbou on Fri May 09, 2014 at 09:29:34 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well congratulations then (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  freakofsociety

                  So your throwing a hissy-fit about bad Democratic candidates and then admitting in the same breath that your protest non-vote doesn't matter one bit.  Great for you.  You can have your little "I hate all the candidates" protest up there in Massachusetts.

                  There are other states, and lots of races besides the Presidency, that matter.  And there are a lot of very clear differences between Democrats and Republicans, and a lot of reasons why electing Democrats is a FAR better path for this country to take moving forward.  If you don't want to see that, well that is really your problem.  

      •  It's impossible to "withhold" votes from Democrats (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angel d

        The notion that someone can "withhold" their vote from the Democrats presupposes that the Democrats are somehow entitled to their vote to begin with. They are not.

  •  But don't vote people (4+ / 0-)

    You will never have to trouble yourself with Democrats anywhere to the right of yourself, because there will be no Democrats left.  Let them win and further gerrymander, restrict voting access and push their right-wing agenda as main-stream and we will be looking at a country that is further than unrecognizable.  Continue to insult the two Presidents that we have had since Reagan as poor leaders and schills and they will be able to push that Reagan was the greatest ever, using our own dissent as proof.  A moderate Democrat isn't on our side all of the time, but a Republican is rarely ever on our side.

    GOP: The only party stupid enough to try to say that rape is the new safe sex.

    by GabrielinNC on Fri May 09, 2014 at 08:24:44 AM PDT

    •  Voting for the lesser of two evils is dumb (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nancat357, angel d

      Say that the Democrats are at a 30 on the scale of evil, and the Republicans are at a 50. You decide, well, I'll vote for the Democrats because they're the lesser of two evils, and you would be correct - for this choice.

      However, what this line of reasoning ignores is the fact that once the Democrats know that you will vote for them no matter what they do, they have no incentive not to move further to the right on the scale of evil. And the Republicans will move to the right as well, because the Democrats are beginning to occupy the space they used to occupy. So the next election is between the Democrats at a 35 on the scale and the Republicans at a 55. Next, it's between the Democrats at a 40 and the Republicans at a 60.

      Pretty soon, the "lesser" evil that you're voting for is just as evil as the greater evil that you used to be so afraid of. We're seeing that today--the Democrats of today are basically the Republicans from the 1990s. In another 20 years, if we keep doing what we're doing, the Democrats will look like the Republicans of today and I can't even imagine what the Republicans will look like.

      The only way to break the cycle is to show the Democrats that they will pay an electoral price for continuing to move to the right. And you don't do that by pledging to always vote for them no matter what they do because "The Republicans are worse."

      •  That electoral price costs us more (0+ / 0-)

        What you say could make sense, if it weren't for the fact that our losses let them move the goalposts for the future.  If they couldn't rig the system, full steam ahead, with our losses, sure, but we are in a fight for our lives.  We may be stuck with a choice to slow the infection or let it consume.  Our best bet is not to let the electoral free market sort it out by voting for people doomed to fail.  Our best bet is to move the dialogue by not cannibalizing our own, while stating our preferences and why they are better.  Bashing the leaders isn't constructive, stating what they should have done and why is less damaging to the whole of the left.  When the dialogue has moved far enough to our side to get people who agree with us elected, that is when we should strike, not while we don't have a realistic hope of putting someone with our ideals in.  IF WE SPLIT THE LEFT, WE LET CONSERVATIVES WIN.  IF YOU DO THAT, YOU SEND THE MESSAGE TO ALL POLITICIANS THAT THE WAY TO WIN IS TO GO RIGHT, BECAUSE OF A FRACTURED LEFT.

        GOP: The only party stupid enough to try to say that rape is the new safe sex.

        by GabrielinNC on Fri May 09, 2014 at 11:00:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are not sending the message you think you are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angel d

          When you tell the Democrats that you will vote for them no matter what they do, you are making yourself completely irrelevant. They have no incentive whatsoever to do what you want if they know that your support is assured regardless.

          Do you know why the Republicans don't dare to cross their base? Because they know that their base will not vote for them if they don't do what the base wants. The left needs to make the Democrats understand the same thing. And we don't do that by pledging our unconditional support.

          •  You are not sending the message you think (0+ / 0-)

            you are.  There are two ways of pushing behavior.  There is punishment an reward.  Democrats move to the right, because the right are the ones who get out to vote in the midterm and local elections.  We have the numbers on the left nationally, but, all too often, we don't have the votes.  2010 was a lesson to everyone, but we are letting it happen again in 2014.  Going left, when people who agree with you won't vote isn't as fruitful as going right and hoping some moderates that vote will.  Fix the enthusiasm gap, then vote for your ideal candidate, but by letting the right get elected while the candidates to the left of them continue to lose would be giving candidates a lesson that the left is not fertile ground for victories.  These are politicians.  They are ALL moths chasing a flame.  Keep the flame bright and they will keep coming in your direction, but if your light grows dim, they will move towards another light.  Period.

            GOP: The only party stupid enough to try to say that rape is the new safe sex.

            by GabrielinNC on Fri May 09, 2014 at 12:45:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This is the 21st Century, we don't use Guillotines (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maybeeso in michigan

    .... we use Wood Chippers, your Honor.

  •  Hey, here's an idea (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fToRrEeEsSt, angel d

    Instead of going after progressive voters for not supporting Democrats, why don't you go after the Democrats for not advancing policies that progressive voters (and a large majority of other voters besides) support?

  •  Are all these lectures on the importance of voting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angel d

    working?

  •  FOIA request for Biskupic's wife...seems like it (0+ / 0-)

    might be worthwhile based on hubby's history with this judge.  She would be the perfect go between....

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