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Open thread for night owls. Warren: Kicking butt again

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 22:00

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2009Afghanistanization: But Still No Exit Plan:

After 60 days of comprehensive reviews and leaks about differences over those reviews within the administration, no surprises have emerged in the new strategy for the "good war" in Afghanistan that President Obama announced today. Not even the slightest hint about when the U.S. troop commitment might end. And not a word about the 550 or more prisoners in the infamous Bagram prison, many of them previously tortured and still held without recourse to legal or humanitarian intervention.

Thousands of additional troops and hundreds of civilians with expertise in agriculture and civil projects will be deployed with a major focus on counterterrorism. The objective will be to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda," the President said in a speech which reminded the world of the loss of nearly 3000 on September 11, 2001, and thousands killed—many of them Muslims—by al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere since then. [...]

It’s been obvious since before election day that the Obama administration would follow a different Afghan strategy and employ different tactics from those of the Bush administration. And so it will. But eight years into what will soon be longest war the U.S. has ever fought—the American Indian wars aside—there is still no exit plan for Afghanistan. And none in sight.

Tweet of the Day My former Knight-Ridder colleague @KevinGHall with kick-ass reporting on Pentagon paying a Chilean killer for years. http://t.co/...
@TimothyS
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, a veritable parade of guests! First, the big news of Reid's retirement. Greg Dworkin discusses that, plus Senate budget action, the "doc fix," and... maple syrup. Rosalyn MacGregor's MI update, botched live, was "digitally remastered" for the podcast! Gov. Snyder short-circuits school reform, MI House OKs "religious" discrimination against gay adoption, while the Senate approves a "choose life" vanity license plate scheme funneling dollars to anti-abortion activists. Meteor Blades dropped by to discuss Iran developments. And Armando also joined in to discuss Reid, and briefly, breaking news on a key CA gun case.



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Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Coke FRIDAY!

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 18:30
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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

One Poll to Rule Them All

The first C&J "Who won the week" poll was posted seven years ago this week, on March 28, 2008. Despite efforts on the part of Gallup, PPP, Pew and RATSmussen to duplicate my secret formula, none survived more than a few weeks without going down in flames of ridicule and scorn. Nor has Kossack poblano (better known by his screen name "Nate Silver" and I hope one day he explains how he came to choose that mysterious nom de blogger) been able to predict each week's winner with any degree of certainty above three percent---his one and only statistical Achilles heel for which he hates me and all the humans and human-animal hybrids in my bloodline.

As you contemplate tonight's candidates, here are some scattered winners chosen by you over the years that were particularly snarky or otherwise memorable:

6/27/08 The folks in San Francisco who tried to get a sewage treatment plant named after George W. Bush.
8/5/08 Paris Hilton, for responding to John McCain's anti-Obama "celebrity" ad with one of her own at Funny or Die.
10/31/08 Texan Amanda Jones, the daughter of a slave, who cast her vote for Barack Obama at age 109.

Trophy 3/20/09 Daily Kos, for placing #3 on Bill O'Reilly's "Media Enemies List."
8/23/09 Barney Frank, for his response to a Lyndon LaRouche idiot at a town hall meeting who compared Obama to Hitler: "On what planet do you spend most of your time?"
10/2/09 Rep. Alan Grayson, for characterizing the GOP healthcare plan this way on the House floor: "Don't get sick. If you do get sick, die quickly."

3/26/10 Everyone associated with passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
5/21/10 Rachel Maddow, for grilling Rand Paul for admitting he wouldn't have voted for part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
7/16/10 Whoever figured out how to cap that damn well in the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

2/25/11 Blogger Ian Murphy, for duping Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker into thinking he was speaking on the phone with David Koch.
5/6/11 President Obama, along with the intelligence and special-ops team that put an end to Osama bin Laden.
9/30, 10/4, 10/14, 10/28, 11/4 and 11/18/11 The Occupy protesters.

2/17/12 Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) who walked out on the House Oversight Committee's hearing on contraception coverage because no women were on the witness list.
4/20/12 The penguin that bit Newt Gingrich.
9/21/12 David Corn and James Carter IV for releasing the secret Mitt Romney "47% of Americans are moochers" video.

1/11/13 Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, for taking a leading role in the effort to curb gun violence.
5/31/13 Former Republican Senator and '96 presidential candidate Bob Dole, for saying his party has no ideas and should shut its doors.
11/29/13 Pope Francis, for issuing a papal manifesto that calls for an end to trickle-down economics and the 'new tyranny' of income inequality.

1/10 and 1/17/14 The Bergen Record, Wall Street Journal, Steve Kornacki and The Rachel Maddow Show, for breaking open the Chris Christie "Bridgegate" scandal.
4/11/14 Attorney General Eric Holder, for his committee-hearing parting shot to Rep. Louie Gohmert: "Good luck with your asparagus."
8/15 and 8/22/14 The Ferguson, Missouri protesters.

By the way, "Senator" Barack Obama won our first poll. And the next. And the next. And the next. In fact, he's won 69 of the 339 WWTW polls voted on by the Daily Kos community, making him undisputedly FIRST (frist?) in the hearts of his countrymen. (Sorry, George Washington, but we're just not into your "uniformity in weights and measures" shtick anymore.) Good luck in tonight's poll---we're all counting on you.

Your west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cartoon: Death penalty dissonance

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 16:50

Click to enlarge.

Since lethal injection drugs are becoming scarce and no longer efficient at the whole "lethal" thing, Utah's getting ready to bring back the firing squad, while other states are dusting off their electric chairs and gas chambers. Somehow these are all more preferable than calling off capital punishment altogether, which often results in the executions of many, many innocent people. But at least they got a trial. The same can't be said for the summary executions the United States conducts overseas.

Republican congresswoman doesn't back down on Obamacare horror stories. Just one little problem ...

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 14:49
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) makes air quotes as she talks about Obamacare "horror" stories only, please? Oh, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. In the words of Kenny Rogers, "you've got to know when to hold 'em....and know when to fold 'em." After yesterday's story on the surprising response she got from constituents when she asked for "Obamacare" nightmares, she doubled-down with a press conference and mentioned several so-called Obamacare horror stories, presumably heartfelt stories that had been sent to her. See the short statement here:
But, there are a few problems with these accounts. For one thing, there are only five. Five whole stories of the Affordable Care Act being a nightmare, compared to the thousands of positive comments on her Facebook page. Secondly, all five stories (including the ones below) were lifted directly from the House Republican leadership website, which was posted days before her press conference:
“I am a 62 year old widow and only make $8.79 an hour. I have lost my insurance coverage and cannot afford to pay for this.“

— Sandra P. from Augusta, GA

As Daily Kos user jfromga points out, Obamacare hasn't failed "Sandra P."—her Republican governor and legislature have failed her by refusing to expand Medicaid.

Head below the fold for more stories.

UPDATE: Gov. signs Arizona abortion bill requiring doctors to give patients misleading information

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 14:22
Arizona's GOP: Who cares if the procedure is unproven? Doctors must tell women about it Let's say you have a stomachache and go to the doctor, but a new state rule mandates that your physician must tell you about an unproven procedure involving monkey dung and turnip juice. Hey, a guy in Malaysia says it works! For what medical procedure are doctors required to do something like this—tell you about unproven, experimental treatments? Well, we have one.

That's the substance of SB 1318 in Arizona, which passed the legislature yesterday and immediately landed on Gov. Doug Ducey's desk. He's been such a suck-up to Cathi Herrod and her far-right Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), which has spearheaded at least 30 anti-abortion measures here, that it's unlikely the former ice cream businessman will veto the bill.

UPDATE: Ducey did sign the bill on March 30. Herrod called it "a good day for Arizona women."

SB 1318 started out bad enough, as a measure prohibiting private insurers from offering abortion coverage to patients who signed up on the federal exchange. But it became even more odious when an amendment was slipped in that requires physicians to tell women about an unproven procedure that might reverse the effects of the abortion pill. The bill also directs the Arizona Department of Health Services to list the experimental and highly controversial practice on its website.

Worse and worser over the bump.

Consumer protection bureau takes on payday lending

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 14:06
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) listens to the new Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington July 17, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing President Obama with CFPB Director Richard Cordray The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is doing its job again, this time targeting legal loan sharks, the payday loan industry with rules to rein in their most abusive practices.
The rules would cover a wide section of the $46 billion payday loan market that serves the working poor, many of whom have no savings and little access to traditional bank loans. The regulations would not ban high-interest, short-term loans, which are often used to cover basic expenses, but would require lenders to make sure that borrowers have the means to repay them. […]

On Thursday, Mr. Obama lent his weight to the consumer bureau’s proposal, saying that it would sharply reduce the number of unaffordable loans that lenders can make each year to Americans desperate for cash.

"If you lend out money, you have to first make sure that the borrower can afford to pay it back," Mr. Obama said in remarks to college students here. "We don't mind seeing folks make a profit. But if you’re making that profit by trapping hard-working Americans into a vicious cycle of debt, then you got to find a new business model, you need to find a new way of doing business."

David Dayen has the details of the proposed rules and a solid critique of them. Consumer advocates are supportive, but want the rules to go a lot further, pointing out that the rules would still allow lenders to make six unaffordable loans every year, "creating enough fees in some states that the borrower would owe $1,250 on an initial $500 loan." Advocacy groups want the agency to use the same authority it has to mandating an ability-to-repay standard for mortgage loans to payday loans. They also want the lenders to be prevented from creating lump-sum balloon payments at the end of a loan, payments which are devastating for low-income borrowers.

As Dayen says, the problem with payday lending goes far beyond their practices to their very need for existence. The working poor shouldn't actually be poor—work should provide a living wage and government's function should be ensuring that. That's going to take a political revolution, starting with Democrats taking over the Congress and progressives taking over the Democratic party. In the meantime, the CFPB is off to a pretty good start reining in these abusive loans. But they can, and should, do more in the final rules.

Midday open thread: Registration rules reduce votes by millions, GDP growth misses expectations

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 14:00
  • Today's comic by Mark Fiore is Imagine Republican dough: Cartoon by Mark Fiore -- Imagine Republican dough
  • What's coming up on Sunday Kos ...
    • NRA targets Loretta Lynch, by Denise Oliver Velez
    • Just how many elected officials are there in the United States? The answer is mind-blowing, by David Nir
    • What presidents can do: the Supreme Court, by Armando
    • Daily Kos Elections presents our fully interactive visualizations of the 2014 federal elections, by Stephen Wolf
    • The Iran Regime Change Act of 2015, by Jon Perr
    • New proposals to rein in payday loans show why unscrupulous corporations want you to hate government, by Ian Reifowitz
    • It's so hard to be an Obamacare-hating Republican these days, by Dante Atkins
    • Americans continue to lose because we do not know our savior, by Egberto Willies
  • GDP rises 2.2% in fourth quarter, below expectations: The Commerce Department released its third and final estimate for fourth quarter growth in gross domestic product Friday. On an annualized basis, the economy grew 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter last year, the same as was announced in the second estimate. For the entire year—as opposed to an annualized quarterly basis—the economy grew 2.4 percent. Annualized growth in the third quarter was 5 percent.

    The slowdown in the final quarter is likely to have lowered growth in the first quarter of this year, too, and some analysts have lowered their predictions for that growth. The Commerce Department will report first-quarter results on April 29.

    As has been the case for most of the past six years, the economy continues to send mixed signals, but main takeaway is that it is underperforming.

  • Arguing over whether to use "global warming" or "climate change" is a distraction.
  • Newspaper claims Germanwings pilot was suffering from mental illness: On Friday, German tabloid Bild claimed that Lubitz had spent one and a half years in psychiatric treatment. They also put the break in his training down to a "serious depressive episode." The paper also reported that Lufthansa flight school in Phoenix, Arizona, had designated Lubitz "not suitable for flying," though VICE News has not been able to independently verify this.

    Germany's Federal Aviation Office has also said that Lubitz had a medical condition that was documented in his pilot's medical certificate, though there is no indication of exactly what this refers to.

    Some of the man's acquaintances as wella s other pilots have urged people not to jump to conclusions before all the facts are known. Always good advice.
  • Body of Richard III lowered into floor of Leicester Cathedral with kingly ceremony: The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby, presided over the service with local senior clergy and representatives of world faiths.

    Sophie, Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were among the guests.

    Actor Benedict Cumberbatch, a distant relation of the king, read a poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

  • These Daily Kos community posts were the most shared on Facebook March 26:
    Baton Rouge hospital closes ER thanks to Piyush Jindal, by Old Redneck

    Bipartisan bill to repeal the Patriot Act, by gjohnsit

    BREAKING: WikiLeaks Leaks TPP Draft!!!, by Tasini

  • Boston Globe report loses bet; Mayor gets her column space for one day: Readers looking for Shirley Leung’s twice-weekly business column in The Boston Globe this morning will see an unfamiliar face: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. [...]

    "Last year I made a bet with the good mayor of Boston, and he’s now collecting his prize. He was so slow at installing a permanent director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority that I bet he couldn’t find one before Charlie Baker was sworn in as governor. I lost."

  • Researchers find that millions wanted to vote in 2012 but couldn't because of registration rules: Alex Street: “We estimate that keeping registration open through Election Day in 2012 would have allowed an additional 3 million to 4 million Americans to register and vote. We used the number of Google searches for ‘register to vote’ in the weeks leading up to the 2012 election to measure late interest in registering. These search terms were entered millions of times, and much of the activity fell at the very end of the campaign period.”
  • Team Blackness discussed how good it is to know that one of the original second-wave white feminists knows what she's talking about when it comes to inclusion. Gloria Steinem explained the huge impact that black woman have had on the movement. Also discussed were the ramifications Indiana's LGBT discrimination, the German pilot that deliberately flew a plane full of people into a mountain, and Rep. Peter King's bold pronouncement if Ted Cruz gets the GOP nomination. Subscribe on iTunes | Subscribe On Stitcher | Direct Download | RSS
  • On today's Kagro in the Morning show, a veritable parade of guests! The big news: Reid's retirement. Greg Dworkin discusses that, plus budget action, the "doc fix," and... maple syrup. Rosalyn MacGregor's MI update. Meteor Blades on Iran. And more on Reid, with Armando.

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Arkansas 'right to discriminate' bill clears Senate, may soon head to governor's desk

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 13:47
Arkansas is apparently jealous of all the attention Indiana is getting, so it's back for another whack at LGBT hate. They enacted a different hate law last month that prohibited any jurisdictions from passing nondiscrimination protections for LGBT folks. Now they've passed a "religious freedom" bill that will ensure the right to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds (i.e. cuz the Bible tells you so).
HB1228, the so-called conscience protection bill by Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville) that would allow Arkansans to discriminate against LGBT people based on their personal interpretation of religion, has passed the state Senate by a vote of 24-7. It now heads to the House.

No one spoke in favor of HB1228 after it was introduced by Sen. Bart Hester, though several Senators spoke out passionately against it.  

Oh, suddenly no one wants to go on record touting all the benefits of the bill, but they voted for it anyway. Cowards. If you can't speak to the merits of a bill, you know it's crap. Every one of those 27 state senators voted in favor of discrimination. Congrats to them! May each and every one of them have to look in their childrens' or grandchildrens' eyes one day and explain their bigotry.  

Just to be clear here—most people across the nation already have free rein to discriminate against certain law-abiding, taxpaying citizens, otherwise known as LGBT Americans. Federal law provides no explicit nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, transgender Americans have been having success combating workplace discrimination through the sex discrimination protections provided in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Additionally, 18 states plus the District of Columbia have passed LGBT workplace protections—(spoiler alert: Arkansas is not one of them).

The bill could soon be headed to Gov. Ass Asa Hutchinson's desk.

Hutchinson said Thursday that he intended to sign the bill. It first heads back to the House, where it was passed in February, to consider amendments added on the Senate side. The Human Rights Campaign is making a push to dissuade Hutchinson from giving the bill his signature by placing this ad in the San Jose Mercury News, the most widely read newspaper in Silicon Valley. Hutchinson has been seeking more tech investment in Arkansas. Good luck with that. Hutch might want to look up Brendan Eich.

That racist SAE song? Members say they learned it at a national fraternity leadership event

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 13:21
Racist Students from the SAE Fraternity That must've been some leadership event. Despite SAE leadership protesting and saying they'd never heard the racist song before video appeared of University of Oklahoma SAE members singing it on a bus, OU President David Boren says otherwise:
Speaking outside Evans Hall on OU's campus, Boren said an investigation into the SAE incident revealed that members learned the racist chant four years ago on a national SAE leadership cruise and brought it back to campus.

He said the chant had been taught to members and pledges at both formal and informal events at the university. He called the song "widely known and informally shared" among national SAE leadership.

And he wants to know more:
In the letter, Boren asked SAE's leaders to disclose whether they have looked into how widely the chant was taught or used in chapters across the country and what steps it has taken "to remedy the situation." Boren said 25 students had been disciplined, but more needs to be done:
"This is not just a problem here at this campus or at other college campuses, … this is a problem in America," Boren said.

"Every day, every week there seems to be another" incident, he said, his voice rising with emotion. "I don’t know why it’s happening, but I know … we can stop it."

Hats off to OU President Boren for addressing this head-on from the moment the video started going viral. This is what leadership looks like. Perhaps SAE leaders will take note.

Harry Reid endorses Chuck Schumer to succeed him as Democratic Senate leader

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 13:18
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (L) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hold a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, January 16, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX17GRH Harry Reid (left) and Chuck Schumer Harry Reid's surprise retirement announcement has left a wide-open race to succeed him back home in Nevada, but his replacement as Democratic Senate leader looks a lot clearer. Reid quickly endorsed New York Sen. Chuck Schumer for the post, while Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Schumer's chief rival for the top job, reportedly has told colleagues he would not seek a promotion. (Durbin is currently number two in the Democratic caucus, Schumer number three.)

A couple of other names—Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet—surfaced as early possibilities, but with Schumer consolidating support, they're unlikely to challenge him. (If anything, Murray, the fourth-ranking member of the caucus, might go after Durbin's job as chief whip.) For good measure, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a progressive favorite, has said that she, too, would not run.

Assuming Schumer does indeed take over for Reid, what does this mean for the Democratic Party? Matt Yglesias makes a convincing argument that the answer is "not a whole lot":

Legislative leaders are important people. But especially in the US Senate, leadership is more like being captain of a rec league basketball team than like being a coach in the NCAA tournament. You can only lead the caucus in directions the members are willing to follow, and the imperatives of doing the job often mean the leader's priorities change as much—if not more so—than the party's. [...]

There are real differences between Schumer and Reid. As a New York legislator, Schumer takes a kinder view of Wall Street as something of a hometown industry. He also is a genuinely passionate and fired-up hawk on Israel-related issues. But it would be a mistake to think his ascension would lead to a massive Democratic Party reorientation in favor of Bibi Netanyahu and Jamie Dimon. If anything, the opposite. If he becomes leader, Schumer will have to sand down the edges of his personal approach to politics in order to better fit the posture of generic Democratic leader. This is one reason the Warren idea is so ridiculous—if your passion in life is picking intra-party fights, a leadership job would be a disaster.

Yglesias offers a good illustration of how this exact process worked on Reid, who began his career declaring he was "pro-life." But in his time in charge, he operated as a loyally partisan pro-choice leader because that's where his caucus stood. This isn't to say that Schumer will transform into a progressive hero overnight, but he'll be beholden to his fellow Democrats—and in this case, that's a good thing.

There's also one definite positive here: Unlike Reid, Schumer will never have to worry about re-election, since he represents safely blue New York. Reid always faced difficult campaigns, and his role as party leader made him more vulnerable, perhaps to the point that he felt it necessary to shy away from some national battles in order to preserve his chances of victory back home. That's not a calculus Schumer has to concern himself with, so he can be as pugnacious as he likes. And a shortage of pugnacity is never problem when it comes to Chuck Schumer.

11:44 AM PT: It's a done deal: Durbin says he will back Schumer.

Senate postpones Medicare 'doc fix' until after spring recess

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 12:46
Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell After the House of Representatives did the unthinkable Thursday—passed substantive legislation with a resounding bipartisan vote, Mitch McConnell opted to leave town without acting on it.
"I want to reassure everyone ... we'll move to it very quickly when we get back," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, adding he expects it will pass the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he was "disappointed" the Senate wouldn't take up the legislation Friday morning after voting on the budget.

"I understand it's late, whatever day it is," Reid said. "We're willing to move forward, I'm disappointed that we may not able able to get it done tonight."

The bill is the permanent repeal of the Medicare "doc fix," a flawed formula for calculating reimbursements to physicians for treating Medicare payments. The bill passed by the House also includes two years of funding for the Children's Health Insurance program and funding for community health centers. Both of these provisions in the House bill have some problems for Senate Democrats, who have been pushing hard for a four-year extension of CHIP funding, and because there's gratuitous anti-abortion language inserted into the health center funding.

The current patch for the "doc fix" expires on March 31, but McConnell says that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told him they can "handle" a two-week gap and prevent pay cuts to doctors from taking place.

This gives Senate Democrats a bit of an edge to go for that four years of funding for CHIP. Given the huge vote in the House and the popularity of CHIP, the historic nature of the vote, this is very likely something that Senate Democrats could indeed accomplish and get the House to agree to, and is something they should continue to push for. Getting the anti-abortion language out of it would probably be harder, so at the least they should fight for CHIP now that they've been given time to do it.

America's Dumbest Congressman not running for president after all. For now.

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 12:30
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) questions U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on The "news" that America's Dumbest Congressman, less frequently known as Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, was contemplating a run for president sent shivers up our spines for a moment last night. Alas, it was too badgood to be true.
Later, a Gohmert aide told the Texas Tribune that the congressman was being ironic. The aide said Gohmert believed his lack of hair would be a major hindrance to trying to run for president. Um ... all right. That, too, is no way to run a country, but I suppose there is more precedent for denying a bald person the presidency than denying a stupid person the same office. Most presidential primaries feature few if any bald people but a very ample selection of stupid people. It is a bit of a running theme, in fact.

As usual, Gohmert's office amps up the surrealism with an official statement that sounds suspiciously like it was cribbed from a Wes Anderson movie.

“To more completely describe his actual beliefs, Congressman Gohmert notes the Kennedy-Nixon debates created a line of demarcation beyond which television became the critical factor in being elected President which also meant there would be no more bald Presidents in his lifetime.” Yes yes, quite so, indubitably. Now let us all have some iced cream.

#BoycottIndiana trends #1 on Twitter

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:59
Following Indiana's enactment of a law that will ensure the right to discriminate against LGBT Americans and other marginalized groups, #BoycottIndiana started trending on Twitter Thursday and hit the #1 spot (behind a promoted link) Friday.
Here's some of our favorite reactions from Twitter.

1. Marc Benioff (Twitter bio: Ceo@salesforce.com) — 8,430 Retweets

Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination. http://t.co/...
@Benioff 2. Hillary Clinton (Twitter bio: Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD...) — 7,881 Retweets
Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn't discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT http://t.co/...
@HillaryClinton Head below the fold for more.

Clueless Republicans gloat over Reid retirement

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:25
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (2nd L) stifles a sob as he awards astronaut Neil Armstrong (L) with the Congressional Gold Medal at the U.S. Capitol in Washington November 16, 2011. Also pictured is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (2nd R) Way to stay classy, Republican National Committee:
The RNC today released the following statement in response to Democrat Leader Harry Reid announcing his retirement:

"With the Democrat Party already in disarray, a national committee struggling to raise money, and a scandal-plagued presidential frontrunner, it's no surprise Harry Reid realized he was about to suffer a humiliating defeat and decided to step aside," said RNC Press Secretary Allison Moore.

Right. You stick with this story for the next 22 months, as Harry Reid continues to drink Mitch McConnell's and John Boehner's milkshakes. Let's see, he's kept his caucus united and stymied Republicans on Department of Homeland Security funding (and what an embarrassment for Boehner that one was) and poison pill anti-abortion legislation. That's just three months' worth of work for him.

And let's just see how Republicans pull together to finally pass that Obamacare replacement plan they've been floundering on for—what is it, now? Oh, yes—five years. The definition of disarray since 2010 has been John Boehner House of Representatives. But hey RNC, go with what you've got. Harry Reid's going to make the next two years hell for your boys, so enjoy it while you can.

Teachers push for Los Angeles charter chain management to stay neutral in union drive

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:18
 One of the big appeals of charter schools, for the hedge funders and politicians who support them, is that they're a way to break unions. But as charter schools become more entrenched, and their teachers see the problems that come with high turnover, low wages, and lack of due process protections, they're starting to unionize. Which was definitely not the plan of the charter industry. Earlier this month, teachers at the largest Los Angeles charter chain, Alliance, launched an organizing drive, because:
"We believe that when teachers have a respected voice in policymaking it leads to school sustainability and teacher retention," said Elana Goldbaum, who teaches history at Gertz-Ressler High School, a member of the Alliance group. "We have a lot of talent and we want to see that stay. We want to see our teachers be a part of the decision-making and we want to advocate for our students and ourselves." The letter teachers sent to Alliance management specifically asked for "a fair and neutral process," i.e. no union-busting, and Alliance—the board of which includes a hedge fund billionaire (among other financial industry types), a former mayor of Los Angeles, and a judge—seemed to say yes:
In a statement, leaders of the 11,000-student charter group said that they would not stop the teachers from pursuing union affiliation.

"We acknowledge the rights of our teachers to undertake this effort. We also recognize that our teachers are under no obligation to participate," said the statement from President and Chief Executive Judy Burton and incoming President and Chief Executive Dan Katzir.

About that. Alliance has now launched an anti-union website as part of a broader effort to keep teachers from joining together to get collective bargaining and other union rights. Not exactly neutral, though I guess Alliance management isn't yet saying teachers don't have the right to unionize, they're just saying they really don't think teachers should exercise that right. Since Alliance is publicly funded, these anti-union messages are being paid for with public money; teachers are enlisting community support in the request for true neutrality.

The charter industry has reason to be frightened. It's an industry built on overworking and underpaying teachers, accepting the high turnover that comes with that (at a detriment to students), and denying teachers a voice in what goes on in the classroom. As one Alliance teacher says, in a video you can see below the fold, "I would like to organize a union because I believe that teachers should have a say in the curriculum and instruction that's being provided to their students." That shouldn't be such a big ask, but apparently it is.

Officer Bill 'Robocop' Melendez named in 12 brutality and corruption lawsuits

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:09
William Bill Robocop Melendez William Bill Robocop Melendez Before Bill "Robocop" Melendez brutally assaulted 57-year-old Ford Motor employee Floyd Dent this past January, he was named in 12 separate lawsuits for brutally assaulting people, planting evidence, and making illegal arrests. One case, though, sounds shockingly familiar to what Melendez did to Floyd Dent—who was choked unconscious before Melendez punched him 16 times in the face and head breaking his orbital bone, causing severe bleeding, and a brain injury.

A federal judge recently dismissed Melendez's petition for "qualified immunity" in an extreme case of brutality and wrongful arrest that took place on July 26, 2011. After reviewing the evidence, District Court Judge Gershwin Drain determined that Melendez and several of the officers under his command used illegal force against Deshawn Acklin and that they would not be protected under the qualified immunity clause.

On July 26, 2011, Bill "Robocop" Melendez brutally beat and choked Deshawn Acklin until he was completely unconscious and defecated on himself. Melendez did not stop the beating until he was pulled off of Deshawn Acklin by fellow officers. Later, fellow officers sprayed Acklin with mace when he was handcuffed in the back seat of the police car. They never even charged him with a crime, but let him go out of the back door of the local jail after they took him to the hospital for his injuries.

In addition to the extreme brutality, it appears that Melendez, as he is currently trying to do with Floyd Dent, concocted a story about what Acklin did that day to deserve such a beating.

Below the fold are some of the major discrepancies.

What Harry Reid's retirement means for Nevada Democrats

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 11:05
Harry Reid Departing Senate Leader Harry Reid Despite spending the last few months saying he would run for re-election, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid announced on Friday that he would not be on the ballot in 2016. Nevada was already emerging as a major battleground for control of the Senate, and this move won't change that.

It's unclear if Reid's departure will help or hurt his party's chances at holding this seat. On the one hand, Reid has been quite unpopular for years, and the GOP was looking forward to portraying him as a creature of Washington who had lost touch with his home state. However, even Reid's enemies conceded that he was a very tough campaigner and that his seniority was an asset to the state. For better or for worse, the new Democratic nominee will have a very different profile than Reid.

Democrats have done well in the Silver State during the last two presidential elections, but neither party can take anything for granted in what is still a swing state. Reid has no obvious Democratic successor, but Team Blue has a few potential contenders. Rep. Dina Titus quickly announced that she would give "serious thought" toward running. Titus won a tough House race in 2008 and almost hung on during the 2010 GOP wave, so she can definitely make this competitive. (She returned to the House in a new seat in 2012.) But there are a few other Democrats worth keeping an eye on.

Former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is close to Reid, and his support could make a real difference in a primary. Former Secretary of State Ross Miller may be interested, though he's had his eyes on the governorship for a while. Ross lost a 2014 race for attorney general, but his defeat was due more to poor Democratic turnout than anything he did wrong. Reid's son former Clark County Commissioner and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Rory Reid has also been mentioned, though his double-digit statewide defeat doesn't inspire much confidence. One name we can rule out is 2012 nominee Shelley Berkley, who very quickly said no to a comeback bid.

Several Republicans were already scouting out this contest even before Reid's announcement. Las Vegas Councilor Bob Beers has been running for a while, though he hasn't generated much excitement from national Republicans. State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson has been preparing for a campaign, though his moderate reputation could be a liability in a primary. Former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki has been talking about a bid, though he he's also interested in the governorship.

Some other names to keep an eye on are state Sen. Greg Brower; newly elected Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske; Heidi Gansert, a former chief of staff to popular Gov. Brian Sandoval; Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison; state Controller Ron Knecht; state Attorney General Adam Laxalt; and state Treasurer Dan Schwartz. Reps. Mark Amodei, Joe Heck, and Cresent Hardy ruled out bids against Reid, but they may be having second thoughts now. Heck in particular is a very tough campaigner, and national Republicans would love it if he changed his mind and ran. The GOP dream candidate is Sandoval, but he's thumbed his nose at the idea of serving in the Senate.

This is going to be a very exciting race in a highly competitive state, and it's going to take a while for things to sort themselves out on both sides. Republicans will be excited at the prospect of an open seat, while Democrats will be glad they're playing defense in a presidential year. This race could definitely go either way, and we'll be watching all the developments here at Daily Kos Elections.

9:29 AM PT: That was quick: Reid has already endorsed Catherine Cortez Masto to succeed him.


Wall Street banksters whine about how Elizabeth Warren doesn't like them

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 10:28
A demonstrator stands outside the Citigroup headquarters during a rally in support of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) message for the need to break up the big banks in New York December 18, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SOCIETY) - RTR4ILXN Well boo fucking hoo for Wall Street banksters. They have a big sad and are threatening to take their ball and go home, if Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown don't start being nice to them.
Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party's tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week.[…]

Citigroup has decided to withhold donations for now to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over concerns that Senate Democrats could give Warren and lawmakers who share her views more power, sources inside the bank told Reuters. [..]

JPMorgan representatives have met Democratic Party officials to emphasize the connection between its annual contribution and the need for a friendlier attitude toward the banks, a source familiar with JPMorgan's donations said. In past years, the bank has given its donation in one lump sum but this year has so far donated only a third of the amount, the source said.

The money from the banks in question is largely symbolic—$15,000 per bank. It's the extortionist approach that is particularly special here, with their "friendlier attitudes" and pouting. They should be fucking grateful that they weren't broken up the last time the wrecked the economy, instead of trying to roll back the weakened legislation they bought from the Congress in the aftermath of the crisis they caused.

But, you know, we the people could pretty easily make up for the $60,000 withheld, and then some. All that Senate Democrats would have to do is stand by Brown and Warren, stand against the banisters and with us. They'd sure get our money. They'd probably also get a lot of votes.

Can Jeb Bush win over the Christian right after all?

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 10:06
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) addresses the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington December 1, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEADSHOT PROFILE) - RTR4GBP1 Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Jeb Bush has a problem. He governed Florida as a fierce social conservative, but he's not getting much credit for it with the far-right voters who dominate the Iowa caucus and South Carolina primary, polling only so-so with so-called "values voters" and being the establishment candidate that evangelical and social conservative groups are trying to unite against. Bush could aggressively remind voters of his role in the Terri Schiavo fiasco, or throw some red meat, but his dilemma is that:
The man who famously said that a Republican must be willing to "lose the primary to win the general" in 2016 wants to court religious voters without taking the kinds of hard-line stands that could hurt him in the general election. He knows that wooing the evangelical base generally involves talking (and talking some more) about polarizing issues—abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage, to name a few—in ways that risk alienating the broader electorate come November. Bush wants to avoid that. But he also needs Christian conservatives' votes to get to November in the first place. Bush may have some secret strength here. While what we're hearing about in the news and polls is mostly social conservative suspicion of him, National Journal reports that:
In fact, powerful Christian conservatives are operating what amounts to a stealth campaign on Bush's behalf. Some are old allies from the Florida days; others are holdovers from George W. Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns. Some are both, including Ralph Reed, president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a longtime friend of Jeb's who served as Southeast regional chairman of George W.'s 2004 reelection effort (and thus practically lived in Florida). Multiple GOP sources say that Reed has been urging Jeb Bush for several years to make a 2016 run and spoke with him recently to game out the campaign. Like many of the organizations that Bush's supporters lead, Reed's coalition demands impartiality from its leaders, so Reed can't openly back his man—unless, as some suspect will happen, Reed ultimately decides to join the campaign officially. (Reed declined to comment for this story.)

While the candidate isn't hitting the hustings to woo rank-and-file Christian voters, he's been busy surreptitiously building a formidable coalition of socially conservative luminaries.

Bush has met with a laundry list of such luminaries, and is reportedly making a good impression. Whether that will translate into endorsements—or at least neutrality—is another question, especially if Bush remains unwilling to throw the red meat publicly as well as privately. But if that happens, it would seriously shake up the establishment vs. far-right Republican primary dynamic that's been shaping up so far.

Ohio lawmaker's personal story of rape and abortion interrupted by male colleagues laughing

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 09:50
Ohio state Rep. Teresa Fedor on the house floor This is real courage. Ohio state Rep. Teresa Fedor took the microphone as lawmakers were debating a bill that would ban abortions if there is a detectable heartbeat—as early as six weeks of pregnancy:
Abruptly asking to speak during debate on a bill to outlaw abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, the Toledo Democrat and 15-year veteran of the legislature stood and revealed a long-kept secret. She was raped, became pregnant as a result and had an abortion.

“You don’t respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice,” she told colleagues. “What you are doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I’ve sat here too long. I dare every one of you to judge me. ... How dare government get in my business.”

A very courageous speech, indeed. But, in the midst of her impassioned speech, she suddenly had to pause—because at least one male lawmaker in the room was laughing.
I see people laughing and I don't appreciate that. And it happens to be a man who is laughing. But this is serious business right now and I'm speaking for all the women in the state of Ohio who didn't get the opportunity to be in front of that committee and make this statement. She noted her own military service (she served in the Air Force and the National Guard) and that our military women who are rape survivors deserve to make their own personal choice—and that is when the laughter started.

Watch her heartfelt speech and reaction to the laughter below the fold.