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Chris Christie's approval ratings sink to yet another new low

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 13:44
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reacts during a news conference in Trenton January 9, 2014. Christie on Thursday fired a top aide at the center of a brewing scandal that public officials orchestrated a massive traffic snarl on the busy George Washingto New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's poll numbers continue to slide into the murky depths.
Only 35 percent of registered voters in the Garden State say they approve of the Republican governor’s job performance in the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey, compared to 51 percent who disapprove. Those figures mark the lowest approval and highest disapproval ratings recorded by the survey center. In January, 39 percent said they approved of his performance and 47 percent did not. Those are truly terrible numbers. Chris Christie's going to be plenty steamed when he gets back from Iowa, or London, or wherever he's gone off to this time around.
As far as Christie himself, public opinion appears to be mixed. Thirty-five percent of voters responded that they dislike everything about the governor, while just 8 percent said they dislike him but favor his policies. At the same time, 29 percent responded that they like everything about the governor and 21 percent said they like the man but not his policies. The takeaway from this is that the more time Christie spends on the proto-presidential circuit, the less people like him—at least people in his own state, the ones who have to live with Christie's newfound convictions on how pigs should be raised or other hot-button Republican issues you didn't know existed until Christie started pandering to them.

I'm not seeing any Christie path to the presidency. Perhaps there once was, but then America got to know him. Other candidates entered the race that have his credentials and his policy notions but who are more skilled at personal interactions than Gov. Shut Up. That ship has sailed, and Christie realistically has to know that.

Conservative group whines about establishment Republicans trying to fund Homeland Security

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 13:31
Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Conservative Ken Cuccinelli upon hearing that Boehner wants to fund Homeland Security. The Senate Conservatives Fund, a tea-party aligned group, is really upset that some Republicans want to take a responsible approach to funding Homeland Security—namely, actually passing a bill that averts a shutdown for more than a week. The American Action Network launched ads last week against Reps. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, all of whom opposed passing a "clean" bill to fund Homeland Security through the end of September.
[T]he establishment-aligned American Action Network released ads arguing the three congressmen "are willing to put our security at risk by jeopardizing critical security funding." Here's the whining, courtesy of SCF president Ken Cuccinelli:
"This is a direct attack on three constitutional conservatives by the Republican establishment to punish them for opposing House leadership." True, Ken.
"These congressmen are fighting to stop the president's lawlessness and secure our nation's borders to protect us from future terrorist attacks. They're trying to keep the promises that the House leadership made last year, but have once again abandoned." False, Ken. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell's biggest promise was that they would prove Republicans could govern in the majority and that they would avert government shutdowns.

Let's just say they have a ways to go on that first promise and they're hanging on to that second one by a hair.

Leader of only nuclear-armed nation in Middle East says bad nuclear deal with Iran will lead to war

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 13:21
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) acknowledges applause at the end of his speech to a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 3, 2015. U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (C) (R-OH) and President Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledges the 25th standing ovation he received during his speech to a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday. In a 40-minute speech punctuated by 25 standing ovations and 41 applause breaks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned a joint session of Congress Tuesday that if the "bad deal" he claimed is being negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program is approved, the United States will leave itself vulnerable to a nuclear attack from Tehran a decade or so in the future. Of the deal, he said:
It doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, it paves Iran’s path to the bomb." Netanyahu said the choice is not between this "bad deal" and war, but between this and a better deal. Except, however, for a complete change in Iran's behavior as Netanyahu described it and a capitulation on all nuclear matters being negotiated, he gave no specifics of what a better deal would entail.
That’s the Netanyahu Plan. Designed to be impossible. RT @mattduss: The alternative to this deal is Iran capitulating on everything.
@Max_Fisher While the majority of senators and representatives repeatedly jumped to their feet during the speech, diplomats in the gallery did not applaud. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi openly displayed frustration and anger more than once, covering her eyes and throwing up her hands. Many other Democrats figuratively sat on their hands.
I hated this speech even more when George W Bush gave it 13 years ago
@speechboy71 Repeatedly making note of the longstanding close alliance between the United States and Israel, Netanyahu said the agreement the United States and five other nations are trying to hammer out over a nuclear program that Iran says is dedicated solely to peaceful purposes could threaten the very existence of the Jewish state. Early on, he made a reference to a preemptive strike by the ancient Hebrews against an alleged plot to kill all Jews by the ancient Persians that is recounted in the biblical Book of Esther. That event, which many scholars believe never happened, is commemorated on the Jewish holiday of Purim, which is celebrated this year on Wednesday.

More on the speech below the fold.

Eric Holder: 'Nothing justifies excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage'

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 12:49
Attorney General Eric Holder Attorney General Eric Holder penned a piece for the USA Today Monday announcing that the Department of Justice will file a friend-of-the-court brief this week arguing that same-sex marriage bans nationwide are unconstitutional in the cases to be argued before the Supreme Court next month. The position goes considerably further than the last brief the government filed in advance of Supreme Court consideration of marriage equality in 2013. That brief argued for an expansion of the states that offered same-sex marriage but stopped short of pushing for marriage equality nationwide.
This week, the Justice Department will file a brief setting forth our position that state bans on same-sex marriage violate the fundamental constitutional guarantee of "equal protection of the laws." It is clear that the time has come to recognize that gay and lesbian people deserve robust protection from discrimination.

Nothing justifies excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage. Denying them the right to marry serves only to demean them and their children, to degrade the dignity of their families and to deny them the full, free and equal participation in American life to which every citizen is entitled.

In the piece, Holder noted what many Americans so often forget about marriage bans—they prevent same-sex couples from accessing an array of federal benefits that, in turn, threatens their financial security, their families, and their mental, physical, and emotional health.
The bans intersect with issues as varied as workers' compensation, taxation and inheritance, posing challenges to basic financial security. Same-sex couples living in states with bans too often face obstacles to adopting and raising children together. And restrictions on medical decision-making and hospital visitation impose devastating burdens during the moments when a partner is needed most.

The mental and emotional injuries are just as acute. A marriage ban written into state law broadcasts the state's view that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families, undeserving of the rights and protections offered to opposite-sex couples. It creates a stigma that pervades society, encouraging individuals to harass or belittle even their loved ones because of pressures brought by their community.

Holder notes that "marriage equality is an idea whose time has come." Bravo, Mr. Holder.

Marginalized centrist Democrats target Elizabeth Warren 'wing' of party

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 12:15
Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat for Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren addresses supporters during her victory rally in Boston, Massachusetts, November 6, 2012. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS USA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ELEC Centrist Democrats are in a twit. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has reenergized the Democratic party, delivering a distinctly pro-Main Street message that resonates with average Americans across party lines. That has really ticked off the Wall Street wing (i.e. "centrists") of the Democratic Party, reports Kevin Cirilli.
For months, moderate Democrats have kept silent, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) barbed attacks against Wall Street, income inequality and the “rigged economy” thrilled the base and stirred desire for a more populist approach.

But with the race for the White House set to begin, centrists are moving to seize back the agenda.

Oh yes, with the White House hanging in the balance, centrist Democrats will unveil a rousing economic platform this week that's sure to inspire. Remember when the centrist Democrats delivered all those inspirational speeches after the party got trounced in the 2014 midterms? No, you don't. That's because the person delivering the rallying cry that made people believe again was Sen. Warren.

But Warren's popularity along with her ideas are really starting to tread on centrist Democrats now, making them look oh so '90s.

No worries though, the New Democratic Coalition (NDC) of pro-Wall Street House Democrats is totally going to light it up this week with new messaging. (If you're not familiar with NDC it's because they haven't accomplished anything noteworthy.) They've apparently been working in concert with centrist Democratic groups Third Way, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) and New Democratic Network to come up with some good stuff.

That's why Hillary Clinton made a big deal about reaching out to them in December for their ideas. Oh, wait—that was Warren she met with, not the NDC.

What this really comes down to is an attempt by centrists to stay relevant while Warren is busy electrifying the Democratic base and other voters. Otherwise, they might not have the power they've always envisioned in a potential Clinton White House.

The House rule that will likely save Homeland Security from a shutdown

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 12:03
Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hands the speaker's gavel to incoming House Speaker John Boehner after Boehner was elected Speaker on the opening day of the 112th United States Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 5, 2011. REUTERS Here, John, let me show you how to work this thing. When the House votes later today on a "clean" bill to fund Homeland Security through September 30, it will likely be under Rule XXII (or 22), which will basically allow the House to reverse course on its rejection last week of the Senate's "clean" bill.
Rule 22 is complicated, but it essentially stipulates that since the two chambers cannot get to a conference negotiation before DHS funding expires, the House reverses its position of disagreeing with the Senate’s legislation and concurs with it. If John Boehner and crew have done their jobs, they will have lined up enough Republicans to vote with the 188 Democrats, almost all of whom are expected to vote for the "clean" funding bill that includes no anti-immigrant riders.

Make no mistake though, a successful vote today to fund DHS will be a huge win for House Democrats and Nancy Pelosi, who more-or-less backed Boehner into a corner on this by refusing to back his 3-week funding bill last week.

Netanyahu frenzy lets Boehner bury news of his Homeland Security cave

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 11:51
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (C) pauses between answers to questions during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 10, 2013. U.S. House of Representatives Republicans are still weighing a short-term debt-limit increase, pos First thing Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner folded like a cheap suit in agreeing to hold a vote on a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill. Why would Boehner do this with entire days left before the short-term funding passed last Friday night expires? After all, until now, he'd been holding out to pacify the extremists in his caucus who want to hold DHS funding hostage to an attack on President Obama's immigration actions, and folding now means he'll face rage from the right.

Hmm ... what else was going on Tuesday morning?

That's right, Boehner caved just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's highly politicized speech to Congress. The speech provided a massive distraction in the media—something some reporters, to their credit, noted. And Boehner can probably count on at least some of his far-right critics in the House being too exhausted from all their Netanyahu-induced orgasms to be as loud and frenzied in their outrage as might otherwise have been the case.

Once it became clear that the House's anti-immigrant DHS funding bill couldn't get through the Senate, it was inevitable that Boehner was going to cave. The question was when, and the safe money always seemed to be on "at the last possible moment." Instead, he found a way to bury his surrender under a distraction that he created by intentionally violating established protocol to invite Netanyahu to speak to Congress without having consulted the White House.

This news dump-like timing for Boehner's DHS cave may be the smoothest political move he's made in weeks. Congratulations, Mr. Speaker! (But Netanyahu's speech is over and you still have to get this vote through the House.)

House Republicans unveil Obamacare replacement idea: Steal Obamacare

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 11:06
Rep. Paul Ryan at CPAC 2014 This weekend, a handful of Senate Republicans sketched out what they call a "plan" for fixing the mess conservatives might have created by getting the Supreme Court to gut Obamacare. It wasn't much in the way of an actual plan as two vague ideas, one of which was pretty much lifted from Obamacare. Well, now it's House Republicans'—led by their "ideal guy" Paul Ryan—turn to write an op-ed about their plan, and darned if it doesn't have some familiar elements.
We would allow parents to keep children on their plan until age 26. We would prohibit insurers from imposing lifetime limits on benefits. We would protect people with existing conditions. And we would guarantee renewability for people already enrolled in a plan.

Second, help people buy coverage. Right now, those who get insurance through their employer get a lot of help from the tax code, while some people who buy insurance on their own, including potentially the millions of Americans the IRS put at risk, get no help at all. So we would offer those in the affected states a tax credit to buy insurance.

Yes, it's Obamacare, but with a big red GOP stamp on it. Yep, that Paul Ryan, he sure is a big thinker. Oh, they throw in the usual suspects of buying insurance across state lines and tort reform and getting rid of the mandate (because they hate the mandate) but the system they are proposing is pretty much Obamacare. Of course, it's not as stable as Obamacare would be because it wouldn't have the mandate—good luck getting insurers to agree to any restrictions when they don't have a guaranteed customer base.

But getting insurers to agree isn't even their first hurdle. More importantly, they have to convince their fellow Republicans that the federal government has a place in health care at all. Good luck with that one.

Hillary Clinton used personal email account as secretary of state

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 10:07
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walks past after arriving at the airport in New Delhi May 7, 2012. Clinton said on Monday that Pakistan had not taken enough action against Hafiz Saeed, the Islamist blamed for masterminding the 2008 attack by Pakis As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton used a personal email account for all her correspondence, the New York Times reports. "To comply with federal record-keeping practices," Clinton has turned 55,000 pages of emails over to the State Department.

Previous secretaries of state, including Colin Powell, have similarly used personal email accounts to conduct official business. And other Republicans, including Mitt Romney and many in the Bush-Cheney administration, have used private accounts or actively sought to hide correspondence. Democrats should expect higher standards, of course, but it's not actually clear that Clinton was trying to hide anything. That, however, is the spin the New York Times took from whichever Republican campaign or committee fed it the story:

The story, coming on the heels of recent news accounts criticizing the Clinton Foundation’s handling of foreign donations, could present a challenge for Mrs. Clinton’s fledgling campaign, feeding the perception that she is secretive — an accusation that has dogged her since her time as first lady.

Way to make it clear that feeding that particular perception is what this is all about. Clinton should certainly continue to do everything possible to ensure that her records are properly preserved, and should offer some explanation of how and why this happened, but the proper context for reading reporting on this is "Republicans push story that furthers narrative they've taken a long time building."

Boehner caves, will allow clean vote on Homeland Security funding

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 09:51
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington February 26, 2015. Conservative Republicans urged House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner not to capitulate in a fight with Democrats over Preside It appears that House Speaker John Boehner is ready to end the prolonged game of chicken he's been playing with funding for the Department of Homeland Security. He plans to allow a vote on a clean funding bill through the end of the fiscal year, according to reports:
Facing dwindling options, Speaker John Boehner outlined the situation for rank-and-file GOP members during a closed-door caucus meeting Tuesday morning. [...]

Boehner told the caucus that he was outraged by the president's actions, but this was the right decision "for this team and the right one for this country."

With DHS funding running out on Friday, the timing on this vote appears to be sooner rather than later:
ITS OFFICIAL: CLEAN DHS BILL COMING UP FOR VOTE TODAY IN THE HOUSE. BOEHNER ANNOUNCED IN CLOSED GOP MEETING.
@JakeSherman A super PAC tied to Boehner had begun running ads pressuring Republicans who were standing in the way of a clean bill, demanding that any bill the House passed absolutely had to attack President Obama's immigration actions. Now, Boehner is directly challenging these members of his caucus, many of whom have already shown themselves willing to go against him. In short, the Republican civil war is ratcheting up another step.

Cartoon: 'Right to be a jerk' states

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 09:50

(Click to enlarge)

For years, I've been meaning to do a cartoon on the ridiculous phrase that is "right to work." Unfortunately, Scott Walker has given me an opportunity.

"Right to work" is a classic example of linguistic framing by market fundamentalists. Every time we use it, we invoke their agenda. Personally, I'll take the "right to work for more than peanuts through collective bargaining." Let's call "right to work" what it really is: an attack on the right to unionize.

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Netanyahu speech to Congress might include sensitive Iran agreement details

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 09:36
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's politicized speech before a joint session of Congress today appears to be going from a mere insult to President Barack Obama and his administration to potential outright interference in this nation's foreign policy.
Washington (CNN)The Obama administration is bracing for Benjamin Netanyahu to spill secret details of Iran nuclear talks, as both camps traded last-minute political jabs ahead of the Israeli prime minister's controversial address to Congress Tuesday.

The White House is uncertain what precise details may come out but aides spent Monday frantically mobilizing after Israeli officials said that the prime minister planned to disclose sensitive details of an agreement taking shape in talks between six world powers and Iran, which has entered a delicate final stage.

Concern and anger among American officials about the nature of what Netanyahu might expose heightened already roiling tensions between the two countries. Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned about the damage such revelations might have on the negotiations and President Barack Obama himself attacked Netanyahu's judgment.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the potential release of this sensitive information "would betray the trust between our allies, and it certainly is inconsistent with the behavior of trusted allies." Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry met Monday with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Switzerland. Kerry warned that the release of sensitive information by Netanyahu "would make it more difficult to reach the goal that Israel and others say they share in order to get a good deal."

President Obama is not meeting with Netanyahu on this visit, to avoid the appearance that a meeting would be an attempt by the White House to interfere in the upcoming general election in Israel, on March 17.

8:03 AM PT: The speech begins momentarily and is streaming on C-SPAN.

Boehner's ads attacking conservatives look like the spots Republicans ran against Dems—in 2002!

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 09:00
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) wipes away tears during his remarks at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring members of the First Special Service Force at the U.S. Capitol in Washington February 3, 2015. The "Devil's Brigade" special operati How does this not end in tears for John Boehner? The GOP civil war, which burst wide open with last week's Homeland Security funding debacle, has now reached a fever pitch. The American Action Network, a super PAC tied to none other than House Speaker John Boehner, is airing $400,000 worth of television ads, radio spots, and robocalls targeting "dozens" of Boehner's fellow Republicans for their refusal to go along with rest of their party when it comes to paying for the department's operations.

What's even more amazing is the imagery AAN is using. If you were following politics a dozen years ago, you saw this exact kind of fearmongering with distressing frequency—except it was leveled at Democrats, in the form of mendacious claims that limp-wristed liberals were feckless wimps who wanted to offer "therapy and understanding" to Global Supervillain No. 1 Saddam Hussein and his creepy brother-in-law, Osama bin Laden.

To see the very same rhetoric deployed against Republicans is nothing short of stunning:

We've certainly come a long way around the bend, but it's almost impossible to overstate how delicious it is to watch Republicans feel the brunt of hysterical attacks that they're "putting our security at risk" because they're sending "the wrong message to our enemies"—complete with clips of black-masked jihadis armed with assault weapons, in case anyone was confused. They deserve this. Oh how they deserve this.

But here's the really crazy part: We still have no idea what Boehner's end-game is here. He's done everything he can to pretend like he hasn't promised Nancy Pelosi that he'll allow a vote on "clean" legislation that would fund Homeland Security through September, but he doesn't need to target dystopians like Tim Huelskamp to pass that bill. (All it'll take is a unified Democratic Party—not a problem in this case—plus a handful of GOP votes from the not-totally-insane wing.)

So why is Boehner's super PAC antagonizing the ultra-conservative nutters like this? What does he hope to gain? The bill that failed last week thanks to right-wing purity troll defections would have only kept the department in business for another three weeks. Even if Boehner could pass that bill now, what would be the point? He'd just be putting off his day of reckoning.

But when you watch the ad above, it sure as hell feels like that day of reckoning is already upon us.

King v. Burwell: Constitutional avoidance

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 08:41
Oblique facade of the Supreme Court According to the doctrine of constitutional avoidance, the court should seek to interpret a statute in order to avoid a constitutional question. In my previous posts on King v. Burwell, I addressed the statutory interpretation of the text of the Affordable Care Act and the impact of Chevron deference on the case. In this post, I will review what may be the argument that is most appealing to the conservative justices of the court which would lead to a favorable result for the government, the doctrine of constitutional avoidance to avoid a federalism issue—specifically the Pennhurst doctrine.

The argument is well presented in the amicus brief (PDF) of 22 states urging the upholding of the IRS rule that provides that the tax credit subsidies of Section 36(b) of the tax code, promulgated by ACA, are available on the federal exchanges. Let's start with the doctrine of constitutional avoidance. The State amici argue:

“A statute should be interpreted in a way that avoids placing its constitutionality in doubt.”[cite omitted] The constitutional-doubt canon “militates against not only those interpretations that would render the statute unconstitutional but also those that would even raise serious questions of constitutionality.” [cite omitted] This is an uncontroversial observation. So what is the "constitutional infirmity" that the challengers' argument presents? It is the Pennhurst doctrine. The amici explain:
When Congress enacts cooperative-federalism programs, the States are entitled to clear notice about the conditions to which they have agreed. [cite omitted] The Court in Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman [cite omitted] described that clear-statement rule this way:

[L]egislation enacted pursuant to the spending power is much in the nature of a contract: in return for federal funds, the States agree to comply with federally imposed conditions. The legitimacy of Congress’ power to legislate under the spending power thus rests on whether the State voluntarily and knowingly accepts the terms of the “contract.” There can, of course, be no knowing acceptance if a State is unaware of the conditions or is unable to ascertain what is expected of it. Accordingly, if Congress intends to impose a condition on the grant of federal moneys, it must do so unambiguously. By insisting that Congress speak with a clear voice, we enable the States to exercise their choice knowingly, cognizant of the consequences of their participation. [Cite omitted.]

So there are the doctrines of constitutional avoidance and the constitutional infirmity that are implicated in King. Where do the arguments take us? I'll explore on the flip.

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Tue, 03/03/2015 - 08:30
Daily Kos Radio logo As the King v. Burwell oral arguments approach, we'll no doubt dive into still more detail on the case, in an effort to make you the best-informed radio audience in existence.

But if, in the meantime, Twitter explodes with questions over what color the Justices' robes are, we're totally going in on that.

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Texas weighs heavy in weekend GunFAIL. Greg Dworkin rounds up the Republican DHS collapse and the obscure rule that could possibly provide a way out, Chris Christie's engineering of a major environmental settlement from ExxonMobil to close his budget gap, and Scott Walker's possibly premature surge to frontrunner status. Armando primes us for King v. Burwell week, focusing on his Sunday piece on how and why the plaintiffs' textual arguments in the case fall flat. And Aaron Schock is in still more trouble, for taxpayer-paid private planes and hiring full-time personal photographer.

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

Cleveland mayor offers backhanded apology to family of Tamir Rice, doubles down on defense

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 08:23
Last known photo of Tamir Rice before he was killed by Cleveland PD. Taken just a few weeks before his murder. After being widely criticized for blaming Tamir Rice for his own death, Mayor Frank Jackson offered a public apology on Monday for language the city used in its legal defense:
"Whether or not we can explain it away is irrelevant," Jackson said at a press conference late Monday afternoon. "I'm here to say to you and say to the people and say to the family that we're sorry."

The city plans to reissue the defense, removing language Jackson called "insensitive" and "hurtful" but still maintain its defense.

City lawyers have 21 days to submit an amended response to the lawsuit.Three of those defenses appear to point the finger at the 12-year-old for his own death.

While an apology in this instance may feel like it's better than nothing, the truth is that Mayor Jackson is just playing politics with this case. His admission, in essence, wasn't that the city was actually wrong for shooting and killing Tamir, but that they used the wrong adjectives in describing the case. The city still fully and completely aims to claim that Tamir caused his own death.

The tragedy in this is that the city has squandered an opportunity to just come out and say, "You know what, we made a mistake and we want to do everything we can to show this family and this community how we will get through this mistake together." That type of courage sounds too much like right.

The ugly truth is that the city and even the police chief started blaming Tamir for his own death the day after he was shot. In this press conference, the police brought out the toy gun they claimed Tamir had and showed how it didn't have a bright neon tip on it—suggesting that had it had such a tip, that he may still be alive.

The truth, though, is that police officers who pulled up on Tamir never saw the gun. He never pulled it out for them to see if a neon tip was missing or not. They saw that after they had already shot him and left him bleeding alone for minutes there in the park, but pretended after the fact that it had something to do with them shooting him.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Cheers and Jeers: Tuesday

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 08:17
C&J Banner

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

It's After 5am. Let's Pop A Cold One.

If anyone's gonna get tax breaks, I say let it be these folks:

Shipyard Export Ale Portland's own. Very tasty. The Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act or Small BREW Act, [is designed to] stimulate regional economies nationwide with a reduction in the excise tax on each barrel of beer brewed by small brewers. Senator Angus King (I-ME) is an original cosponsor of this bill which would change the threshold definition of a small brewer to better reflect modern production.

“Maine is home to an incredible array of small, independent craft brewers that deliver world-class products and quality jobs,” Senator King said. “By reducing the tax burden on our brewers, this important piece of legislation will give them a vital boost and enable them to further invest in their businesses and our communities---a winning combination that will create jobs in Maine and across the nation.” … There are now more than 3,200 small and independent breweries in the United States, with approximately 1.5 more opening every day, according to the Brewers Association.

An economic impact study by then-Harvard University’s Dr. John Friedman (now at Brown University) found that the bill would generate $183.1 million in economic activity in the first year and almost $1.04 billion over five years and would also create nearly 5,230 jobs in just the first year.

In addition to both of Maine's senators, it's got a foamy head of cosponsors, including Tammy Baldwin, Mazie Hirono, Bernie Sanders, Tom Carper, Barbara Mikulski (please don’t go!!!) and Jeff Merkley. Sounds good to me.

But as nice as tax breaks sound, how 'bout everyone in America get a raise instead? Then we can all buy more craft beer!

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Mikulski's departure sets off a free-for-all for her seat

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 08:00
There are no shortage of Democrats who might run for this Senate seat Leading Off:

MD-Sen: On Monday, five-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the longest-tenured woman in congressional history, announced that she would not seek another term in 2016. Mikulski's decision surprised plenty of people, and a number of politicians will be assessing their chances here in the coming days and weeks. Safely blue Maryland has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1980, when Charles Matthias, the man Mikulski succeeded, won a final term, and most of the action is expected to be in the Democratic primary.

We have a visual guide above of the potential Democratic candidates, created by dreaminonempty. Their names are below the fold, along with any information about their intentions. (That and a lot more.)

Another unarmed Mexican immigrant killed by police; Rubén Villalpando called the Mexican Mike Brown

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 07:55
Rubén García Villalpando memorial service Memorial service for Rubén García Villalpando Just days after Pasco, Washington, police shot and killed Mexican immigrant Antonio Montes for throwing rocks, another Mexican immigrant, Rubén García Villalpando, a father of four, completely unarmed, has been shot and killed by police in Grapevine, Texas:
As he stepped out of his pickup on the shoulder of the Texas 121 service road Friday night, an unarmed Rubén García Villalpando raised his hands and repeatedly asked Grapevine police officer Robert Clark to stop calling him foul names, a relative who has seen the police video of the encounter said Thursday.

At one point, García asked Clark, “Are you going to kill me?” said García’s brother-in-law Fernando Romero, in an interview with the Star-Telegram.

“I’m right here,” García said, according to Romero. Then García, a Mexican national who lived in North Richland Hills, stepped out of view of the camera. Two gunshots could be heard.

A police spokesman confirmed that the officer used profanity before shooting García.

After what appears to be an uptick in fatal police shootings of unarmed Mexican immigrants in the United States in 2015, the Mexican government has called for the Department of Justice to investigate the shootings as being an alarming pattern of police violence and discrimination against Mexican immigrants.

Widely known for police corruption, when the Mexican government has an honest criticism of American police, our country has a real problem.

Supporters and family members are now calling on police to publicly release the police dash cam video of the entire incident. Family members who were allowed to see it are stating that Villalpando is clearly seen putting his hands up just seconds before he is shot twice in the chest by the officer.

This is unacceptable.

We have crossed a threshold where we need new, revised national guidelines on when police are reasonably allowed to use lethal force. Simply imagining a grave threat, when one does not truly exist, should not and cannot be reason enough for police to kill anyone. Furthermore, a new national standard must be set on all things related to dash cams and body cameras with law enforcement. The public should not have to beg for them to be released in fatal shooting or in any case in which the question of police brutality is on the line.

Abbreviated pundit roundup: Boehner's bad job performance, the Affordable Care Act and more

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 07:30
We begin today's roundup with Eugene Robinson who pulls no punches in his evaluation of John Boehner's performance as Speaker:
House Speaker John Boehner needs to decide whether he wants to be remembered as an effective leader or a befuddled hack. So far, I’m afraid, it’s the latter.

Boehner’s performance last week was a series of comic pratfalls, culminating Friday in a stinging rebuke from the House Republicans he ostensibly leads. Boehner (R-Ohio) wasn’t asking for much: three weeks of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which was hours from shutting down. He came away, humiliated, with just seven days’ worth of operating money for the agency charged with keeping Americans safe from terrorist attacks.

By any standard, the whole situation is beyond ridiculous. The government of the world’s leading military and economic power cannot be funded on a week-to-week basis. There’s no earthly excuse for this sorry spectacle — and no one to blame but Boehner.

Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann:
Two months into their control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans have little to show for their majorities -- except for yet another embarrassing failed vote. House Republicans' inability to pass a measure to keep the Department of Homeland Security open for a mere three weeks resulted in a last-minute effort by the Senate and House to extend the funding for one more week, which means we're now back to where we started. As we've written, congressional Republicans have picked as many fights (over immigration, DC's pot legalization, Loretta Lynch's nomination to be U.S. attorney general) as legislation they've passed that has become law (the Clay Hunt SAV Act, terrorism risk insurance reauthorization, and Friday's one-week DHS extension). This isn't the first two months of GOP congressional control that Republicans envisioned or even promised. Governing is never easy, especially during a time of divided government (with Democrats in charge of the executive branch and Republicans the legislative branch. But Republicans so far have taken a hard job and made it even more difficult. Much more on the day's top stories below the fold.