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It's going to be a long, ugly year for Congress

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 08:58
U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker of the House John Boehner (L-R) attend. funeral services for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston South Carolina June 26, 2015. Pinckney was one of nine victims of a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.   REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  - RTX1HYZQ House Speaker John Boehner might have averted one crisis by sacrificing himself. By resigning before his hardliners could try to vote him out for passing a government funding bill with Democratic votes, he can get that bill passed and it looks like a government shutdown will be averted. For now. But what Boehner can't do before he leaves on October 30 is get everything else that needs to happen in the last three months of the year. This is going to be one chaotic autumn.
"It is setting up a very major set of hurdles for the next majority leader come the middle of December," Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center who worked for the U.S. Senate for 25 years, told TPM. "How they make this silk purse out of a sow’s ear is going to be very, very difficult." […]

Immediately next on the agenda is funding the highway trust fund, the deadline for which comes at the end of October. The Congressional Budget Office has signaled that the debt ceiling will need to be lifted by late November or early December, which remains a particular flashpoint for conservative hardliners who see a possible credit default as an opportunity to extract spending cuts. […]

Lawmakers will also have a series of "tax extenders" in need of reauthorization on their hands by the year’s end. And there is also the debate around the reopening of the Export-Import Bank, which, to the delight of Tea Party politicians, expired over the summer but continues to be supported by business-aligned Republicans as well as Democrats.

That's all difficult enough, with the debt ceiling being the most dangerous flashpoint, but the current funding bill expires on December 11. Between Planned Parenthood and Republican tricks to hike defense spending while keeping the sequester limits from the 2011 crisis agreement in place for the rest of spending, coming to a long-term budget agreement is going to be ugly, and ugly just before the Christmas recess. The most we can likely expect is another stop-gap funding that pushes the deadline to just before spring recess. Rinse and repeat until November's election.

This is all going to have to be navigated by a new speaker—likely Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). TPM interviewed Stan Collender, federal budget expert, who says, "[h]ow does a new speaker, who will be facing a Freedom Caucus in the Tea Party who think they just knocked off a speaker after knocking off a majority leader and can do it again if they want, how do you get a speaker who can go through that maze and come out looking whole?" How, indeed.

Cartoon: Kneejerkin' (health care edition)

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 08:51

(Click to enlarge)

It takes a lot to make my head explode these days, but reading about Martin Shkreli, the hedge fund brat who bought the drug used to treat toxoplasmosis and raised the price from $13.50 a pill to $750, accomplished exactly that. While the Times piece on Shkreli rightly generated a groundswell of outrage, it made me think of all the previous injustices in our health care system that didn't. All the abuses of private health insurance companies prior to the ACA -- the dropping of sick patients, the exorbitant premiums for those with pre-existing conditions, the flat-out denials of coverage dooming people to death or financial ruin -- were just as evil, yet not as easily located in the scandalous behavior of one unsavory person. Remember this article about hospitals charging $137 for a $1 IV drip bag? In a sense, Shkreli simply puts a face on everything that is wrong with America's predatory, profiteering health care system.

The Affordable Care Act was desperately needed to curb its worst excesses, and has worked extremely well. Shkreli serves to remind us of the need for regulation of an industry that obviously cannot be trusted to serve the public interest or behave ethically on its own.

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 am ET!

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 07:30
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Last night’s lunar eclipse was pretty, but has not heralded doomsday at press time, and neither has Pope Francis shaking John Kerry’s hand. Donald Trump promises to round up immigrants humanely. Greg Dworkin fulfills his vow to round up the latest polling and analysis: Trump isn't winning like he used to. Chainsaw Carly is at third, while cementing her reputation of being a lying liar that lies. Polls show Gop on the wrong side of several issues including gun control and funding Planned Parenthood, and just like Obamacare and the Iran Deal, support increases the more people become informed on the issues. Now that they ruined the job, and caught the car, Republicans have a hard time finding a new Speaker of the House. Conservatives are happy to be on the wrong side of the Constitution as well. Ben Carson sees at least one religion as a probable cause for searches, which is just one available criteria for suspicion. And, a KY Republican claims a First Amendment right to accept bribes. VW programmed a computer to lie to you, and you did not find out for years. What other machines are lying to you right now? Good guy with a gun bullseyes the carjacking victim, may not get that NRA salute.

Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!

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

Requests be damned, city of Chicago refuses to release multiple police videos of murders on duty

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 07:19
Laquan McDonald, Ronald Johnson Laquan McDonald and Ronnie Johnson...alive and well. On Oct. 12, 2014, Chicago Police Department officers shot and killed Ronald Johnson, a 25-year-old father of five who was beloved in his community.
On the night in mid-October, Johnson had been with his cousin and other friends when he came across flashing police lights. He recognized a Chicago police presence in his neighborhood as a danger, so began to run. Plainclothes officers ran after him and opened fire.

Witnesses have told Dorothy Holmes that the officers didn't identify themselves, and that Johnson stopped and asked why they were shooting at him. When he received no answer, he turned and continued running. Police shot him as he fled--his death from multiple gunshot wounds has been ruled a homicide.

Apparently a police dash cam filmed the shooting, but the police and the city refuse to release it in spite of repeated requests from Johnson's family and a Freedom of Information Act request from their attorney.

This isn't the only video being concealed by Chicago officials.

Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times and killed by Chicago police on Oct. 20, 2014. His family received $5 million in a settlement, but officials refuse to release the video of his killing. It has since been reported that police deleted 100 minutes of video from a nearby Burger King.

Ultimately, it's my strong belief that every video of police brutality and murder should be released immediately—not after prosecutors decide not to do anything, not after all charges are dropped, but as soon as it is humanly possible to upload them to YouTube. The videos are public property, paid for by tax dollars, and inform the public far better than fictional press releases ever will.

If videos record people being wrongly murdered by police, the public deserves to know and these police officers should be held accountable. That this is even a conversation is preposterous.

Cheers and Jeers: Tuesday

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 07:16
C&J Banner



Congressman Who Drank from Pope's Glass Now 180 Feet Tall, Rampaging

The Department of Homeland Security and other law-enforcement agencies are on high alert this morning just days after U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA) drank from the water glass used by Pope Francis during his speech to a joint session of Congress Thursday and went on a rampage after growing 180 feet tall and becoming what terrified citizens describe as "Godzilla in wingtips."

Rep. Bob Bradyb (D-PA) drinks from the water glass used by Pope Francis during his speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24, 2015. Rep. Brady's fateful sip. "Honestly, we don’t really know what we're dealing with yet," said DHS Director Jeh Johnson as he dodged another car tossed like a rag doll by the towering congressman. "But this thing must be stopped."

Security guards on Capitol Hill were first alerted Monday morning that someone in a representative's office had grown a huge head and was breaking furniture while shouting petty gibberish. Their response was delayed after misinterpreting the description as a tea party caucus meeting to choose a new House Speaker. After bursting through an exterior wall, Brady set on a path of destruction and is currently consuming the contents of a Denny's on the outskirts of Huntington, West Virginia.

Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl said late last night that Pope Francis regrets not following his usual protocol of personally disposing of his drinking glass so as to avoid this kind of thing. "He's graciously offered to send a battalion of Swiss Guards to help pursue Brady, but beyond that there's not much that can be done."

Several of Rep. Brady's aides and family members, who also drank from the pope's glass, are currently under observation at an undisclosed location.

Responding to the unfolding calamity, the House Intelligence Committee launched a major investigation to find out what Hillary Clinton knew and when she knew it, issuing over five hundred subpoenas in the span of two minutes.

When asked for comment Rep. Brady said, "Raaahhhrrr!" Then he yanked a streetlight out of the ground and used it to smash mailboxes.

Said a passing Medieval knight of Brady's fateful sip: "He chose…poorly."

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

Morning Digest: What the what? RGA stops airing ads for Matt Bevin in Kentucky!

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 07:00
Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin Kentucky GOP nominee Matt Bevin Leading Off:

KY-Gov: Well, this is just absolutely nuts. With barely a month to go until Election Day, the Associated Press reports that the Republican Governors Association has stopped airing ads on behalf of businessman Matt Bevin—who is, you know, the Republican nominee in what's supposed to be a hotly competitive race down in Kentucky.

Usually moves like this only come when a party committee is forced to triage a hopeless candidate in the midst of a big election cycle. But there's almost no way that's the case here: There are no other gubernatorial contests the RGA has to worry about this year, and what little polling we've publicly seen has netted out to a tossup between Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway, the state's attorney general.

Now, there's no arguing that Bevin's run a shit campaign. He's constantly alienated fellow Republicans, he's done no fundraising, he waited until just a week ago to even start airing TV ads, and a super PAC formed on his behalf has less money in the bank than Donald Trump's annual comb budget. But still, this is Kentucky. While Democrats have continued an unlikely string of success here in non-federal races, it's impossible to imagine that an open-seat contest for governor could simply fall out of reach for the GOP, no matter how lousy their candidate is.

So what on earth is going on here? Bevin, bizarrely, seems to think he has this one in the bag: Earlier this month, Bevin claimed he was already "vetting" new hires for his administration because, he told a group of business owners, "the odds are I'm going to be your next governor." No one else seems to agree.

Could it simply be that the RGA despises Bevin so much that they're willing to shove him overboard—if only because they can't keel-haul him? Or are they maybe trying to instill the fear of the devil in him and force him to shape up (and self-fund) while there's still a little time left? Boy, it's awfully late to send your nominee to Humiliating Republican Boot Camp.

But Bevin is an unusually fucked-up piece of work: On Friday afternoon, he personally stopped in at Democratic Party headquarters in Frankfort to complain about a nearby billboard that reads, "You still can't trust Matt Bevin"—and, say Democrats, he even yelled at the receptionist. This is not made up. This is Matt Bevin. And maybe, just maybe, Republicans have had enough.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Fiorina defends her Planned Parenthood lie

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 06:46
We begin today's roundup with Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post who explains Carly Fiorina's latest strategy:
How angry is Carly Fiorina? So angry she can’t see straight. That’s the only explanation for the yawning gulf between what she says and the plainly visible facts.

Fiorina stands out among the Republican presidential candidates not just because she is a woman but also because she has adopted a strategy of breathing fire. She presents herself as mad about everything, and she never gives an inch on anything she says, no matter how demonstrably untrue. Unhappily for our democracy, this approach has vaulted her into the upper tier of the multitudinous GOP field. [...]

“That scene absolutely does exist,” she said. When Todd pointed out that the antiabortion activists who made the videos admit that what Fiorina saw was stock footage, she ignored him: “Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, Chuck. Do you think this is not happening?” [...]

I try not to question the sincerity of anyone’s views on abortion. But however passionate Fiorina’s convictions may be, she doesn’t get to make stuff up.

Eric Alterman at The Nation: