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Polis pushes for the House to vote on anti-discrimination bill

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:21
Marriage equality demonstration Democrats are once again flinging themselves against the brick wall that is House Speaker John Boehner's refusal to even allow votes on a long list of incredibly popular bills. This time, it's a renewed effort on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Rep. Jared Polis has filed a discharge petition on the bill.

There's been some controversy over what shape ENDA will take, with the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision highlighting the dangers of the extremely broad religious exemption included in the version of ENDA passed by the Senate. Several major LGBT organizations withdrew their support of the Senate ENDA over that issue, and when President Obama subsequently issued an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, he did not include any new religious exemptions, saying that existing ones were strong enough. The discharge petition from Polis is in that spirit:

Following the outcry of these groups, Polis introduced a resolution before the House Rules Committee, H.Res. 678, that would narrow ENDA’s religious exemption in the event the committee approved the bill for a vote on the House floor.

It’s that version of ENDA that would come up for a vote if the discharge petition is successful.

Of course, while ENDA not only enjoys widespread support among voters but a majority of Americans actually believe it is already illegal to fire people for being LGBT, Republicans will not sign a discharge petition even if they would vote for the underlying bill, Boehner will not allow a vote, and Republicans in the Senate who voted for a bill with a Hobby Lobby-style religious exemption might refuse to vote for a bill with a narrower one. So, once again, all Democrats can do is remind voters of the gulf between Democratic priorities and Republican ones, and lay the groundwork for the kind of legislation they'd pass if they controlled Congress.

Darren Wilson spent four hours testifying before grand jury

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:13
Demonstrators Aaron Little (R), Gianni Cook (C) and Troy Jones hold signs while protesting against the death of black teenager Michael Brown, outside St Louis County Circuit Clerk building in Clayton, Missouri August 12, 2014. Police said Brown, 18, was s From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson testified for almost four hours Tuesday in front of a St. Louis County grand jury investigating the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, a source with knowledge of the investigation said Wednesday.

Wilson was not obligated to testify, and has also spoken with St. Louis County investigators twice and federal investigators once, the source said. The source said that Wilson had been “cooperative.”

The grand jury term was set to expire last week, but was extended until January 7, 2015.

Why you shouldn't freak out about Quinnipiac's new polls

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:05
Bob Beauprez (R-CO) Is Colorado Republican Bob Beauprez really up 10 points? Probably not. Well, you can have one of two reactions to Quinnipiac's new polls of Colorado and Iowa that the university released on Wednesday. One is to panic and assume the sky is falling on Democrats. The other response is to say, "Hmm. These polls don't look like any others we've seen lately. That means they're probably off-base."

The latter option is, of course, the correct one, so let's see what we've got here, starting with Colorado. There, Quinnipiac finds Republican Bob Beauprez implausibly surging out to a 50-40 lead on Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who's generally held small leads. In fact, Beauprez's only ever led in two polls, and never by more than a single point. One of those was from Rasmussen and the other from ... Quinnipiac, back in July, when they had Beauprez ahead 44-43. Since then, they've switched to a likely voter model, and it seems that their screen must simply be bonkers.

And as we've noted before, the school has had trouble polling Colorado in the past, often finding much more positive numbers for Republicans than other outfits have. In Aug. 2012, they found Mitt Romney up 5 points, the most optimistic poll he ever saw there, and their final poll still had him on top by 1, even though he lost by more than 5. Likewise, in the summer of 2008, they also had John McCain leading at a time when pretty much no one else did.

And if Beauprez had internal numbers that were nearly this good, don't you think he'd have released them by now? He hasn't—but Democrats were ready with their own polling to counter Quinnipiac. Project New America released data from Myers Research showing Hickenlooper with a 51-44 advantage. That's actually the biggest lead Hick's seen in a while, but if you think those numbers are too gaudy, then that's a good reason to reject Quinnipiac's as well.

Iowa also requires the same level of skepticism. There, Quinnipiac has Republican Joni Ernst up 50-44 on Democrat Bruce Braley, the largest lead she's seen since just after she won the GOP primary. But again, Quinnipiac's switch from registered voters to likely voters has caused a dramatic shift, as Braley was up 4 in their last poll in June. Most recent polling has put Braley up a touch, and perhaps more importantly, Republicans are privately confessing that Ernst has slipped behind. (Politico's headline: "GOP frets over Harkin seat.")

And to be crystal clear, we're urging caution when interpreting these results not because they're bad for Democrats and we want people to plug up their ears and clap louder, but because they don't make sense in light of all the other available evidence. We'd be insisting on the same thing if Quinnipiac had suddenly found Pat Quinn or Mary Landrieu up 10. The point, as always, is that you can never rely on a single data point to draw conclusions, and Quinnipiac just gave us two good lessons as to why.

Walmart finds a new way to exploit workers with a new dress code

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 11:44
Black Friday protesters at a Westerly, Rhode Island, Walmart, November 2012. Walmart may have stirred up a little more publicity than it expected when it changed its "dress code" for employees recently. The low-paid workers are not happy that they'll be expected to buy the new clothes they're required to wear to work, and they've been making themselves heard. But wait. Federal law says that employers have to provide workers with required uniforms, right? Bryce Covert explains how Walmart is getting away with making workers pay:
But, under the language used by the company, the new clothes aren’t “uniforms.” Instead, they’re part of a new “dress code.”

As Reuel Schiller, a law professor at UC Hastings, told NPR’s Marketplace, “There’s a legal difference between a uniform and a dress code.” Walmart skirts the regulation about uniforms and is able to pass the cost on to workers by calling it a dress code rather than a uniform. It also gets around it by making employees buy clothes that they could conceivably wear elsewhere, not ones branded with a logo, for which it would otherwise be legally required to pay.

Although, if workers don't already have the required clothes, Walmart has helpfully marked the tags on items that pass muster in case workers want to buy those clothes from Walmart. Isn't that thoughtful? Worker group OUR Walmart estimates that the company stands to make $51 million or more in sales to workers buying the new not-quite-uniforms.

Walmart will also be supplying workers with a vest they're required to wear—a vest that, for all the company's big talk about American-made products, is currently being made in Jordan. They promise that soon, the vests will be made in the U.S., but:

Michelle Gloeckler, executive vice president of consumables and U.S. manufacturing at Wal-Mart, confirmed the vests were made in Jordan, explaining the retailer made this decision because it couldn't find a supplier in the U.S. to churn out 1.4 million vests under such a quick time crunch.

"The sheer number of vests that we ordered for our associates is the reason that we utilized a current apparel supplier in that location," she said. "Our intent is to replenish the vests as needed through a U.S. supplier."

What was so urgent about putting workers in new clothes that they couldn't wait long enough to get 1.4 million vests made here? And if it was hard for Walmart, with its massive profits, to get vests quickly enough, think about the strain for its workers, many of who are forced by their low wages and part-time hours to rely on food stamps and Medicaid, and are now required to quickly come up with the money to buy new work outfits.

Obamacare opposition loses bite for Republicans in 2014

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 11:05
Buttons reading 'Repeal Obamacare' are displayed at the American Conservative Union's annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, February 9, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   Or not, you know. Whatever. Even the Wall Street Journal is now forced to admit that a working Obamacare makes for a piss-poor rallying point for Republicans in this election. So much so that Republicans are now running against the word "Obamacare" as a symbol and not against the law itself.
"Obamacare is part of the mix, but it is nowhere near the sole focus of our campaigns," said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. "Obamacare has come to symbolize government overreach, Obama's liberal values and poor policy judgment." […]

"We still capture ads attacking Obamacare just about every day of the week, but there are lots of issues being focused on now," said Elizabeth Wilner, who tracks campaign ads as vice president of Kantar Media Ad Intelligence. "Republicans were trying to make the election a referendum on the president, and a health-care law with his name on it was a perfect vehicle to do that. But now they are finding other vehicles."

Those other vehicles are immigration, and general voter dissatisfaction with how government is not working. And if you think it takes a lot of chutzpah for Republicans who have ground government to a halt to be running against government dysfunction, you're absolutely right. When has hypocrisy ever stopped them before?

That doesn't mean there won't still be obligatory Obamacare votes in the House—they had one last week. But by now that's just become as much habit as anything else. With Democrats like Mark Begich and Mark Pryor and even West Virginia's Natalie Tennant running on the benefits of the law—benefits that people are actually quite pleased with, there's not much for Republicans to do but try to change the subject.

Tillis opposed apology for 1898 racist massacre, because it didn't praise white Republicans enough

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 11:03
Thom Tillis attends a debate between the four top-polling Republican candidates in North Carolina for the U.S. Senate, at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina April 22, 2014. Picture taken April 22, 2014. To match USA-NORTHCAROLINA-SENATE REUTERS/ Thom Tillis is just a gem of a peach of a man. In his first term in office, the North Carolina state House speaker and Republican Senate nominee actually voted against a resolution apologizing for a white supremacist riot against black residents of Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898. Why did Tillis oppose the apology?
"It is time to move on," he wrote in a message to constituents. "In supporting the apology for slavery, most members felt it was an opportunity to recognize a past wrong and move on to pressing matters facing our State. HB 751 and others in the pipeline are redundant and they are consuming time and attention that should be dedicated to addressing education, transportation, and immigration problems plaguing this State."

But at the time, Tillis—who showed up in Wilmington on Tuesday with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in tow—offered another explanation for opposing the measure: Not all whites had participated in the riots. So Tillis pushed for an amendment introduced by a fellow state representative that would have added language to the bill commemorating the heroic white Republican lawmakers who had opposed the violence. "The proposed amendment would have acknowledged the historical fact that the white Republican government joined with black citizens to oppose the rioters," he argued. The amendment failed, and Tillis ended up voting no on the final version.

Hey, we already apologized for slavery, so it would be redundant to apologize for the killing of 25 black citizens more than 30 years after the Civil War! Also, too, #notallwhitepeople.

Seriously, this guy. He just can't stop making clear that the only people who matter to him are people just like him. White Republicans did something good more than 100 years ago? It absolutely must be mentioned or we shouldn't apologize for mass murder. The electoral challenge today's Republicans face? Not enough "traditional," i.e. white, population. People objected to his mansplaining? That's "just silly." A woman criticized him? That was "born out of emotions." Tillis seems to realize that other people exist, people who are not white male Republicans. It's just that he doesn't seem to realize they matter except insofar as he needs at least a few of them to vote for him—and he resents that.

House expected to vote on military aid for Syrian opposition

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:55
U.S. Capitol building. If you're desperate for some bipartisanship, here you go:
The House on Wednesday is expected to vote on – and likely pass – an amendment authorizing President Obama to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in his war with the Islamic State, but don't expect the vote to fall neatly along party lines.

While the measure has drawn support from both the Republican and Democratic leadership, rank-and-file members across the political spectrum have raised concerns about it in recent days. The opposition is likely not enough to derail the proposal, but it could deny Obama the overwhelming vote of support he wants from Congress.

Adding to the likelihood that it will pass, the Syrian opposition aid package is being tacked onto the continuing resolution that Congress must pass before the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown. It will provide about $500 million in funds to the Syrian opposition, a sum that pales in comparison to what we're expected to spend on Iraq air strikes, which are also intended to go after the militants calling themselves Islamic State. Although there is some opposition to the measure from the right, tea party groups like Club for Growth have decided against actively rallying opposition to it.

(A pathetic side note worth noting: Even as Congress and the White House prepare to spend enormous sums to attack ISIS, a request for $1 billion to combat the truly catastrophic Ebola crisis languishes, as David Nir noted earlier. It's a false dichotomy to say we can't do both, but it's mind-boggling that we aren't dealing with Ebola.)

In the Senate, which will vote on the House measure if it is approved, support for military aid was mixed. Sen. Tim Kaine came out in favor of aid, but also said he wanted to vote on an authorization for military force in attacking ISIS as part of the package. Congress, however, is unlikely to take a vote on authorizing military strikes until after the November elections. Sen. Joe Manchin said he opposed funding the Syrian opposition. But because the aid will be packaged with the continuing resolution, it seems unlikely that aid opponents will vote against final passage no matter how they vote on amendments leading up to the ultimate vote.

Meanwhile, as Meteor Blades wrote yesterday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey said that despite assurances from the president and Congress, he may recommend ground forces in attacks against ISIS, euphemistically describing such personnel as "close combat advisers."

11:15 AM PT: President Obama addressed the administration's approach to ISIS in a speech (transcript here) earlier Wednesday at MacDill Air Force Base.

Idiotic Wisconsin Republican lawsuit: ballot placement is only fair when they're on top

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:45
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks to supporters in La Crosse. Scott Walker talks to his friends (who can't spell). Goal ThermometerDumbasses.
Republican legislative leaders filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking changes to the newly redesigned ballot for the November election, claiming the one drafted by the nonpartisan elections agency unfairly benefits Democrats [...]

The ballot design is unfair because Democratic candidates are listed first under the name of the office being sought and Republican candidates are separated by a line, the lawsuit said.

Democrats are listed first, per state law, based on results in the 2012 election where President Barack Obama won Wisconsin. Republican candidates were listed first in 2012 because Gov. Scott Walker won election in 2010.

The ballot is unfair because Democrats are listed first! It wasn't unfair in 2012, when Republicans were listed first. Because, you know, Republicans were listed first.

So to recap, the only fair Wisconsin ballots are ones where Republicans are listed first, and where draconian photo ID requirements protect against voter fraud that doesn't exist.

But hey, can't blame them. It's not as if they can win fair and square on their ideas.

But we don't have to take it sitting down. Give $3 to sweep asshole Republicans out of power in Wisconsin.

As U.S. prepares to spend $10 billion a year on Iraq, U.N. begs for $1 billion to fight Ebola

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:15
Health workers remove the body of Prince Nyentee, a 29-year-old man whom local residents said died of Ebola virus in Monrovia September 11, 2014. REUTERS/James Giahyue (LIBERIA - Tags: DISASTER HEALTH) - RTR45VK3 Health workers remove the body of Prince Nyentee, a 29-year-old man whom local residents said died of Ebola virus in Monrovia (September 11, 2014) The ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa is an absolutely horrifying humanitarian catastrophe, and one that has the potential to become much, much worse. But while the Western response has been "dangerously inadequate" to date, it wouldn't cost much to turn things around: The United Nations says that it needs $1 billion to contain the disaster.

There are lots of ways to put that amount of money in context, but here's a particularly salient one. Right now, the United States is spending $7.5 million dollars a day to support military operations in Iraq, at an annual cost of $2.7 billion per year. But if, as Joe Biden put it, we chase ISIS "to the gates of hell," we'll wind up paying far more.

Just how much? One expert says that ramped-up air operations could take our costs up to $100 million to $200 million a week, or $5 to $10 billion a year. But that only accounts for air strikes in Iraq. Another expert points out that if our reach expands—as military endeavors are wont to do—by engaging in air attacks in Syria, say, or paying other countries to join us, we could easily get up to a price tag of $15 to $20 billion per year, for what may be a multi-year venture. And none of this covers the possibility of ground troops. Add them in and the sky's the limit.

All this to hunt down a "ragtag collection of militants using secondhand weapons" that poses a very uncertain threat to the U.S. ISIS are barbarians—there's no disputing that—and the world would be a far better place with them gone. But their ability to target Western nations directly is limited at best.

Ebola, on the other hand, only needs to catch a single plane flight to cause far more terror and devastation than a handful of terrorists ever could. But even if you're of the opinion that we must spare no expense in stopping ISIS, there's no reason why we can't also focus on halting the spread of Ebola. As one of those defense experts notes, even $10 billion a year is "a round-off error" when it comes to our military budget.

But $1 billion—a rounding error on a rounding error—could save lots and lots of lives in Africa. It could also prevent the disease from reaching our own shores. We owe it to our fellow human beings to help them in a time of desperate need, and it's also just good sense to take preventive action that could protect this country, too. It's long past time for the West to act and put a stop to this dread virus, and it's long past time for the United States to lead.

GOP #Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy explains why first hearing may steer clear of tin foil

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 09:30
Rep. Trey Gowdy at a microphone Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the GOP's select committee on Benghazi With the House GOP Benghazi committee holding its first public hearing on Wednesday, it's only natural to assume that the event will devolve into a tinfoil spectacle aimed at pleasing the right's most wild-eyed conspiracy theorists. Writing for Mother Jones, however, David Corn reports that at least on paper that isn't supposed to happen:
Instead, the committee will examine the State Department's implementation of the recommendations made by the Accountability Review Board, an independent outfit that investigated the attack and in late 2012 issued proposals for improving security for American diplomats and US diplomatic facilities overseas. And the idea for this first hearing came from…a Democrat. As Corn says, this actually could be a worthwhile hearing topic—but it's certainly not the kind of hearing you need a special select committee to hold. Without the conspiracy theories that keep the Benghazi story alive, the House never would have voted to create the committee in the first place. And if the only thing they do is examine relatively mundane questions about how the administration handled the aftermath of the ARB report, they will have effectively conceded that there was never a good reason to create the committee.

So what's going on, then? Well, as Corn also notes, it turns out the committee chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina has been pretty clear about his strategy:

I know I'm biased, but one of the good parts about running an investigation in a way that appears to be serious-minded is that witnesses who were previously unavailable or not interested in cooperating are now interested in cooperating. The universe of witnesses is expanding. Note that Gowdy didn't say he was interested in running a fair or serious hearing. It's that he said he wants to run the committee in a way that appears to be serious-minded. Why? Because he thinks that's the best way to get witnesses to divulge the secrets behind the conspiracy that Republicans all know took place. The only thing their theories lack is evidence, and Gowdy's pitch to conservatives (and perhaps himself), is that pretending to be serious is the best way to get somebody to spill the beans. So while it may be the case that this latest hearing is a relatively boring affair, don't make the mistake of assuming that the GOP has given up on Benghazi. In fact, the more "serious-minded" that they "appear" to be, the bigger the circus will be when they finally pitch their tent.

Media ignores minimum wage, assumes voters are doing the same

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 09:25
U.S. Republican Senators John McCain (L) and Lindsey Graham talk during the Fiscal Responsibility Summit at the White House in Washington February 23, 2009.       REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque   (UNITED STATES) The media may love Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, but that doesn't mean voters agree with them. Democrats have a full set of economic priorities they're pushing in the run-up to November's elections, but, the New York Times points out, at least in the national media, issues like the minimum wage are getting drowned out by ISIS and Ebola.
The Democrats’ strategy of making an increase in the minimum wage a midterm election rallying cry has been drowned out by world events. The party continues to talk about it, but it appears that few are listening. [...]

Events overseas have undermined Democrats’ strategy to tie their midterm prospects to an economic theme that includes calls for a higher minimum wage, reducing income inequality, pay equity for women and help with college tuition. Instead, the public and Congress have been overwhelmed this summer by a border crisis, an Ebola outbreak in Africa and, most notably, the terrorist threat from the Islamic State, also known by the acronym ISIS.

That's true to an extent, but the Times' Michael Shear and Carl Hulse, though, seem to be missing just how much they're talking about a national-media phenomenon that doesn't necessarily reflect voters' priorities. The Middle East may be drowning out the minimum wage on CNN and in the New York Times, but in Arkansas, Republicans are feeling threatened enough by the popularity of a minimum wage ballot initiative to say they support it, however tepidly. For that matter, in recent polling, the economy is still way out in front of terrorism or international issues as the most important issue facing the United States.

Yes, if the media focuses overwhelmingly on bombings and beheadings, it can drown out the economic issues voters care most about, and the constant media chatter can help push voter interest in some issues over others. But even though the media's Middle East coverage is dominated by Republican voices like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Americans are still deeply divided over how the government should respond to ISIS. It's hardly clear that this is a home run for Republicans, even if it is a serious distraction from the issues Democrats would prefer to focus on. And raising the minimum wage and promoting equal pay remain incredibly popular issues—issues Republicans are on the wrong side of.

The Daily Show: Willary or Won'tary

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 09:04
Jon Stewart with Hillary Clinton graphic Everybody freak out–HILLARY WENT TO IOWA!

In a segment called "Willary or Won'tary" Jon checks in on Hillary Clinton and her hint-of-a-campaign-style-stop in Iowa this weekend. And what report about Hillary Clinton in Iowa would be complete without the nauseating reaction of the media?

See Jon Stewart's hilarious take in the video below the fold.

Cartoon: The banality of barbarism

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 08:50

Stephen Colbert looks at a new war in the Middle East

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 08:00
Stephen was on fire last night! He blasted the murky legal authority for war, war hawk Lindsey Graham, and the so-called "support" of Arab nations that the administration refuses to name. Full video after the jump.

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9am ET!

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 07:30
Enjoy new Pumpkin Spice Kagro in the Morning I don't know if it's really possible to enjoy pumpkin spice anything, but we're going to give it a shot.

At least it's Wednesday, which we call Joan McCarterday. Because it's the day when the show has Joan McCarter on it, obviously. I only said that because I needed to type Joan's name a second time, so that I could bold it and it wouldn't look funny.

We'll catch up on all things Daily Kos, probably tsk-tsk disapprovingly at the national security landscape, and draw on the vast reservoir of stuff I haven't gotten to yet. All with a dash of delicious Fall Flavor!

Daily Kos Radio's Kagro in the Morning show podcasts are now available through iTunes.

Listen LIVE at 9:00 ET, here: The Daily Kos Radio Player

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Listen to Stitcher Help support the show through Stitcher's revenue sharing program. Be one of 5,000 "active listeners" per month, and, well, they send us money. All you need to do, believe it or not, is listen to 30 seconds of a show, once in a month. Seriously! Choose any one of the shows at this link, listen to 30 seconds' worth, and you're on board!

How are we doing on that? Well, it's been a little underwhelming, to be honest. Hundreds of thousands of you come through here every day, but I only tricked succeeded in convincing 762 of you to do this last month. So if you're seeing this and you didn't participate last month because you figured there were thousands upon thousands of your fellow Kossacks filling the quota, we could use your help on that.

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Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 07:17
C&J Banner


Parchment is Brittle---Do Not Eat!

I hope you put some extra starch in your bloomers this morning because no slouching is allowed on Constitution Day. 227 years ago, on September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by delegates from 12 states. And you can thank a wily West Virginia Democrat for making us pay attention to the damn thing at least once a freakin' year:

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) Craaazy Bob!
- Constitution Day became a national observance in 2004, when Senator Robert Byrd passed a bill designating September 17 as the day for citizens to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and learn more about our founding document. Senator Byrd once said, "Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world." … In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. Fun facts:
Closeup of the U.S. Constitution Yeah, even that jerk Gladys in HR.
- The U.S. Constitution was prepared in secret, behind locked doors that were guarded by sentries.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping.

More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in Congress. Thirty three have gone to the states to be ratified and twenty seven have received the necessary approval from the states to actually become amendments to the Constitution.

According to the Daily Show's classic history manual America (The Book), the early reviews were boffo:
Pabst Blue Ribbon logo After the signing,
they enjoyed this
fine malt beverage. "Checks, balances, executive, legislative, judiciary--this baby's got it all!"
---George Washington, Mount Vernon Bee-Dispatch

"The Constitution grabs you right from the Preamble and doesn't let go until the last Article…the must-ratify document of the summer!"
---Alexander Hamilton, New York Post

"Belongs in the so-bad-it's-good genre of political charters…destined to become the kind of camp classic revered by some of our more, shall we say, 'unmarried' friends."
---Melancton Smith, "Melancton's Musings" (syndicated column)

Take the quiz here. It should be noted that Republicans care very deeply about the Constitution, and pledge to fight tooth and nail for every single word...during Democratic presidencies.

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

Economics Daily Digest: Who's taking part in our unequal democracy?

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 07:00
Economics Daily Digest by the Roosevelt Institute banner

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Fighting Inequality in the New Gilded Age (Boston Review)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Sabeel Rahman reviews three new books that ask who is engaging in democracy and how they are doing so in light of today's economic inequality.

Home Free? (New Yorker)

James Surowiecki looks at Utah's Housing First and Rapid Rehousing programs as examples of a better approach to solving social problems: investing in prevention.

At the Uber for Home Cleaning, Workers Pay a Price for Convenience (WaPo)

Lydia DePillis compares HomeJoy, an app-based cleaning service, to traditional services that count workers as employees, complete with worker's compensation for a job that involves harsh chemicals.

Do State Retirement Pensions Belong with Wall Street Hedge Funds? (The Guardian)

Suzanne McGee looks to current arguments in Rhode Island to explain why the high risks and high fees associated with hedge funds make some pension managers think twice.

‘A National Admissions Office’ for Low-Income Strivers (NYT)

David Leonhardt says Questbridge, a non-profit connecting low-income students to full-ride scholarships at top universities, has an innovative approach that is shifting the admissions process.

Americans' Stagnant Incomes, in Two Depressing Charts (Vox)

Danielle Kurtzleben looks at new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which confirms that U.S. household income remains stagnant and income inequality hasn't shifted either.

New on Next New Deal

Wall Street Swindled Local Governments, Too. Here’s How They Can Get Their Money Back.

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Saqib Bhatti explains how Wall Street harmed municipalities with risky interest rate swap deals, and argues that those deals may have been illegal and should be fought in court.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Pat Roberts is trailing big-time in Kansas

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 07:00
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (R) Pat Roberts (on right) Leading Off:

KS-Sen: PPP's new poll of the Sunflower State, their first since Democrat Chad Taylor announced he was dropping his bid for Senate, confirms that Kansas—Kansas!—has cemented its position as the most exciting state of the 2014 election cycle. Taylor's status remains uncertain, though: The state Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday morning as to whether Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach should remove his name from the ballot (Kobach's refused to), and election law expert Rick Hasen thinks that Taylor's likely to prevail.

Fortunately, while we wait for the court to rule, PPP checked in on both possible scenarios—i.e., with Taylor on the ballot and with Taylor off—but in both cases, the news is equally dire for Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. In a three-way race, which is what we still have for the moment, independent businessman Greg Orman holds a 7-point lead:

Greg Orman (I): 41

Pat Roberts (R): 34

Chad Taylor (D): 6

Randall Batson (Lib): 4

Undecided: 15

Unlike SurveyUSA, which recently found Taylor at 10 percent despite informing respondents that he'd quit, PPP didn't prime the folks they interviewed. Instead, they asked Taylor supporters after the horserace question above whether they knew he'd dropped out, and 36 percent said they were, in fact, not aware.

That's good news for Orman, because this group of inattentive voters is heavily Democratic (42 percent, versus just 12 percent Republican). That means they're more likely to come over to his side once they learn Taylor's not running, even if his name does formally remain on the ballot. (Of course, it'll be a struggle to get folks who haven't paid attention to the single biggest political story in Kansas in the past month out to the polls, but that's a separate problem.)

And in the event that the Supreme Court does side with Taylor, PPP's numbers show that such a development would indeed redound to Orman's advantage. In a direct head-to-head matchup without Taylor or Batson, the Libertarian, Orman holds a huge 46-36 lead on Roberts, whose job approval rating remains mired at a miserable 29-46, unchanged from his 27-44 score in August. Orman, meanwhile, has seen his standing surge with voters, despite Republican attacks that he's a stealth Democrat who's Harry Reid's willing puppet: His favorability rating has jumped to 39-19, up from 24-12 a month ago.

That won't last, because the GOP has yet to train its biggest guns on Orman, and they most certainly will. But Roberts, despite a peppy debate performance 10 days ago, still hasn't managed to stanch the bleeding. It's hard to get over what's happening in Kansas, which last sent a Democrat to the Senate in 1932, but yeah, it's happening.

Oklahoma cop accused of raping black women goes back to court tomorrow

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 06:54
photo of Daniel Holtzclaw from Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office Photo of Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw from Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office Bond has been lowered for an Oklahoma City police officer and Enid native accused of sexually assaulting women he encountered while on patrol.
Bond for Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, was set at $500,000 Wednesday with conditions placed upon his release, if bond is posted. Holtzclaw has been held since his arrest two weeks ago in lieu of a $5 million cash bond. His attorney had wanted bond set at $139,000.

According to online court records, if bond is posted, Holtzclaw would be under full house arrest, have a GPS monitor and would only be allowed to go to his attorney’s office and court proceedings. At an earlier hearing Wednesday, Holtzclaw was set for a Sept. 18 preliminary hearing. A judge entered not-guilty pleas for him.

Holtzclaw was arrested last month following a months-long investigation by Oklahoma City police following a complaint from one of his alleged victims. Prosecutors have filed 16 felony charges against Holtzclaw, including four counts of forcible oral sodomy, two counts of first-degree rape, four counts of sexual battery, four counts of indecent exposure, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of stalking. The charges allege there are eight victims.

This is not a new phenomena.  

Newsweek recently featured "Why Cops Get Away With Rape."

“[Officers] tend to choose victims who would lack so-called credibility in the eyes of other law enforcement, whether it was somebody who was engaged in sex work or whether it is somebody who was intoxicated or who was using drugs, and then they use that justification for why that person cannot be believed,” Marsh said.

“Unfortunately, this is more the norm than the exception,” she continues. “It’s hard to do research and find reliable statistics on a topic that nobody wants to speak about.” An unofficial study by the Cato Institute’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project found that sexual misconduct is the second greatest of all civilian complaints nationwide against police officers, at 9.3 percent in 2010. The organization noted that 354 of the 618 officers under investigation for sexual offenses were accused of engaging in nonconsensual sexual acts, and just over half of the 354 cases involved minors.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: What could go wrong for Republicans?

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 06:23
Current Senate prediction/forecast models
Fivethirtyeight: chance of Democratic control 43.7%
Upshot: 49%
Election Lab: 49.9%
HuffPost Pollster: 53%
Daily Kos poll explorer: 55%
Princeton Election Consortium (Sam Wang): 70%

Chris Cillizza:

So, what exactly has changed to move the Election Lab projection? Three big things:

* Colorado: On Aug. 27 — the last time I wrote a big piece on the model — Election Lab said Sen. Mark Udall (D) had a 64 percent chance of winning. Today he has a 94 percent chance.

* Iowa: Two weeks ago, the model gave state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) a 72 percent chance of winning. Today she has a 59 percent chance.

* Kansas: Republican Sen. Pat Roberts's reelection race wasn't even on the radar on Aug. 27. Today, Election Lab predicts that he has just a 68 percent chance of winning.

And that model may well be wrong about IA and KS.  But, to be fair to the model, a 60% e.g. chance of winning is a 40% chance of losing. And that's a good chance.

Charlie Cook:

Two examples quickly come to mind. In North Carolina, incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is holding onto a small lead that may be slowly expanding. This is happening in part because of the pounding they have been able to give state House Speaker Thom Tillis, the Republican nominee. There is a sense that a spending disparity might be emerging in Iowa, where Democrats—specifically the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Senate Majority PAC, Majority Leader Harry Reid's super PAC—have been attacking GOP nominee Joni Ernst in recent weeks.

Another reason things might not turn out for Republicans is if the highly touted Democratic Senate ground game comes together. Clearly the Obama campaign and Democratic allies had a superior voter-identification and get-out-the-vote operation two years ago. Earlier this year, Senate Democrats announced the Bannock Street Project, a $60 million program with the goal of putting in place 4,000 paid workers to use techniques perfected and put to work in 2010 by DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet in his race, and again two years ago by the Obama campaign. While some Republicans have scoffed at the likelihood of Democrats being able to mount such an effort, they concede that the Democratic ground game was superior two years ago. In midterm elections, if Democrats can crank up the turnout among young, female, and minority voters, then their chances of success this year increase.

Thus, if things go awry for Republicans on election night, some of the same factors that went wrong for them in 2012 will have been repeated.

More politics and policy below the fold.