GOP Rep: No Fast Track Authority on Trade & No Lapse On DHS Funding

At the Citizens United Iowa Freedom Summit, I asked Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC 3) if he will give Fast Track Authority to President Obama for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and whether or not he will vote for a clean funding bill for the Dept. of Homeland Security, that is one without the Republican riders meant to defund President Obama’s executive order on immigration…

Huckabee Has No Regrets Over Beyoncé Comments

Huckabee Bey






Former AR Governor Mike Huckabee (R) has gotten a lot of flak for criticizing the Obamas for their parenting — in letting their daughters listen to Beyoncé. At the Citizens United Iowa Freedom Summit, I asked him if cultural commentary would be part of his political strategy for a possible presidential run…

GOP Rep: Defund Obama’s Executive Amnesty

At the Citizens United Iowa Freedom Summit, I ask GOP Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN 7) whether she would vote for a clean funding bill for the Dept. of Homeland Security, i.e. one without the Republican riders for defunding Obama’s executive orders on immigration…

GOP Prez Hopeful Runs Away from Wall Street Questions

In her presser at the Citizens United/Steve King Freedom Summit, former HP CEO and prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina railed against big banks and the auto bailout, but refused to answer concrete questions about either. She ran out the door as reporters Lauren Windsor of the Undercurrent and Kasie Hunt of MSNBC pressed her to answer whether or not she would repeal Dodd Frank…

Steve King: World Was Right in the 1950s and 60s

At the Citizens United Iowa Freedom Summit co-hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-IA 4), the congressman drew a comparison between President Obama’s upbringing in Indonesia and his own. King referred to a statement made by Obama that the call to Islamic prayer was “the most beautiful sound in the world” (King’s mis-quote), and seemed to imply that the president is a closet Muslim. The congressman said that both men were dramatically impacted by those formative years, and that for himself, “that’s that time in my life when the world was right.” Shark Tank reporter Javier Manjarres had asked King why he thought it was so hard for Obama to use the words ‘Islamic jihadists.’

Rep. King is known for opining on President Obama’s upbringing, and sowing seeds of doubt with regard to his religion, with remarks like “[Obama] doesn’t have an American experience.” In this 2011 interview with Lawrence O’Donnell, King said that he took Obama at his word in terms of his faith, but that the president needed to work harder to dispel the notion that he is a Muslim.

At the Freedom Summit, Manjarres told me of the encounter, emphasizing that he understood King’s implication to be that Obama is a Muslim. After watching the clip, I was struck by a more subtle aspect of King’s statements… Given that King was born in 1949, he would be referring to the 1950s and 60s — decades that were great for white men, but not so much for blacks, women, and gays. They are also decades in which U.S. tax rates were near their highest, with a top rate of 92% (they briefly hit 94% during World War II in the 40s). Does King yearn for a return to those glory days? And if so, is it for the rampant discrimination or the high tax rates?

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Inside the Supreme Court Citizens United Protest

The Citizens United decision, which allowed for unlimited money spent in independent political campaigns to be counted as First Amendment free speech, turned five on Wednesday. To mark that occasion, seven activists with the anti-corruption group 99Rise disrupted the opening of the Supreme Court’s proceedings to protest the corrosive influence of unlimited campaign cash on our elections.

In an interview for this article, 99Rise co-founder Kai Newkirk outlined their motivations for the action:

We did this act of nonviolent civil disobedience to send two messages. First, to the Supreme Court justices whose Citizens United ruling betrayed democracy – and every government leader who enables corruption – that they face a determined and growing resistance. And second, to the American people who want a government that represents not just the 1%, but all of us, that there is hope for change and it is time to stand up and demand it.

Mary Zeiser, who stood first, was tackled to the ground shortly thereafter, as can be seen in footage of the protest obtained by The Undercurrent from a source who was present…

Chief Justice John Roberts, the primary proponent of the “expansive” interpretation of money as speech, was shockingly not supportive of this particular display of the First Amendment. He reportedly muttered the words “oh, please” and pointed out protesters to security guards.

The entire episode lasted for less than two minutes, and ended with eight people in handcuffs for conspiracy-related offenses for disrupting the court. Seven were additionally charged with making “a harangue or oration.” They were: Andrew Batcher, Irandira Gonzales, Margaret Johnson, Alexandra Flores-Quilty, Katherine Philipson, Curt Ries, and Mary Zeiser.

The eighth individual, Ryan Clayton, allegedly used a concealed camera. Surreptitious video recording is legal in the District of Columbia with the consent of at least one party, but cameras, whether still or video, have not been allowed in the Supreme Court, since 1946 for the former and 1972 for the latter. When Sen. Chuck Grassley pushed to repeal the provision in 1999, the court began to release audio records, but only after the conclusion of oral arguments.

It is unclear as to what penalty Clayton might face, given that this is only the second time that video footage has emerged from court proceedings. The first instance was in February of last year, after another 99Rise protest by Mr. Newkirk. That videographer remains unknown.

Shortly after his release from jail, Clayton issued this statement:

Our Constitution has been interpreted for a century to protect the freedom of the press to publish as well as recognize people’s freedom of speech, while at the same time permitting common sense limitations upon electoral activity so that our government represents the citizens of the country. The Founding Fathers would outright reject the notion that bribing politicians and corrupting our government is a form of free speech, and they would consider that claim an insult to both the freedom of speech enshrined in the First Amendment and the right to self-government enshrined in the United States Constitution.

For an institution that so directly influences American democracy like the Supreme Court to operate in the cloak of darkness impedes the ability of the press to report on it. Despite the availability of same-day written transcripts, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the lack of broadcasting “is out-of-sync with the realities of the media industry.”

Another one of those pesky First Amendment rights. And ironically enough, the biggest supporters of an “expansive” interpretation of the First Amendment in regards to political campaign cash are the very same justices who oppose allowing cameras into the court.

In remarks to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ Annual Conference in July of 2006, Justice Roberts spoke against cameras:

There’s a concern [among justices] about the impact of television on the functioning of the institution. We’re going to be very careful before we do anything that might have an adverse impact.

It’s a shame that Justice Roberts doesn’t have the same concern over the adverse impacts of money on the functioning of our government.