Daily Kos

Syndicate content
News Community Action
Updated: 2 min 19 sec ago

Possibility of GOP taking over Senate has Republican immigration reform supporters scared

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:21
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) is flanked by Senator John Thune (R-SD) (L) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) (R) as he addresses reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, February 4, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX1880M GOP immigration reform supporters want action now because
they're afraid of what might happen if these guys win. At the end of a Wall Street Journal report on how House Speaker John Boehner and other top House Republicans are privately telling campaign donors who support immigration reform that they still believe it can happen in 2014 comes this amazing passage explaining why some Republicans believe it's important to take action this year instead of waiting until 2015 or beyond:
GOP lobbyists and some congressional staff say the task might grow harder if the party waits.

If Republicans win control of the Senate, for example, Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), who is widely seen as opposing an immigration overhaul, would be slated to lead the Judiciary Committee, which handles immigration.

Many in the business community have shifted their lobbying to emphasize this point, several lobbyists said.

In other words, Republicans who support immigration reform want to act now because they're afraid of what would happen if Republicans were to take full control of Congress. In a way, that makes sense, but it's also a damning indictment that the possibility of winning the next election is one of the biggest fears of the GOP's immigration reform supporters.

But how about this for a better solution? Deny Mitch McConnell his dream of becoming Senate Majority Leader and put the Democrats back in control of the House. Short of a miracle from House Republicans, that's the only way immigration reform is going to happen anytime soon.

Republicans marginalized again in poll about income inequality

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 14:22
Rep. Paul Ryan at CPAC 2014 He doesn't represent America. The conservative vision of the world is in stark contrast to what the rest of the country sees. That's been obvious in all sorts of issues, from abortion to gay marriage to marijuana legalization, but here's an issue that's particularly salient this election year: poverty and income inequality.
Among all Americans, 44 percent said they think poor people are poor mostly because of a lack of opportunities, while only 30 percent said it's mostly because of their individual failings. More specifically, 47 percent said poverty has to do more with the fact good jobs aren't available, while only 28 percent said it's because poor people have a poor work ethic.

Likewise, 52 percent said most wealthy people got where they are primarily because they had more opportunities, while 31 percent said the wealthy just worked harder than other people.

When it comes to unemployment, 51 percent said most are trying to find jobs but can't, while only 36 percent said most could find jobs if they want to. On the other hand, respondents were more divided about the long term unemployed. Forty-five percent said people who have been unemployed more than 6 months are trying to find jobs but can't, while 41 percent said they could find jobs if they wanted to.

Those in the minority on every question were, of course, Republicans who "tended to think the poor are poor because of individual failings, rather than lack of opportunities (48 percent to 23 percent), and that they have a poor work ethic rather than good jobs being unavailable to them (49 percent to 21 percent)." So it's no surprise that 58 percent of Republicans think that the unemployed don't have jobs because they don't want them. Even people making more than $100,000 a year in this poll believe that the rich just have more opportunities available to them than everyone else, by a 49-33 margin.

Here's just one more issue on which Republicans are far, far apart from the mainstream.

Midday open thread: $50 billion oil pit, ethnic America mapped, campaign money skews white

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 14:01
  • Today's comic by Mark Fiore is George W. Bush's Art of Legacy: Animation still
  • Coming up on Sunday Kos ...
    • Obamacare is working. Now's the time to start talking about making it better, by Joan McCarter
    • We unlucky few: a look at the incumbents who lost their primaries, 1994-2012, by Darth Jeff
    • The ghosts, joys and unexpected obsessions of seeing it live, by Laura Clawson
    • Repeat after me: President. Obama. Is. Black. by Denise Oliver Velez
    • The real IRS scandal that's costing Uncle Sam trillions, by Jon Perr
    • Not this Chait again: or, hating Obama is part of the right's racial animus, by Dante Atkins
    • Remember when the GOP was the patriotic, law and order party, by Mark E Andersen
    • It’s time for the Alan Grayson health care narrative: 'Don’t get sick or die quickly,' by Egberto Willies
    • Anything Russian 'in czarist times' is fair game in Putin's mind, by Ian Reifowitz
  • These Daily Kos community posts were the most shared on Facebook April 17:
    Jews Ordered to Register in Eastern Ukraine, by Timaeus

    Justice Stevens: Supreme Court has Misinterpreted the Second Amendment, by night cat

    Industry Expert Says StopRush Has Destroyed Limbaugh's Business For Good, by ProgLegs

  • The world's $50 billion toxic money pit: A giant oil field was discovered in 2000 50 miles off shore in Kazakhstan's slice of the Caspian Sea. It's called the Kashagan oil field and it's huge. But the international consortium of companies—including ExxonMobil—seeking to get the oil out in the tough climate and problematic underwater terrain has proved difficult and expensive. In thirteen years, they've spent $50 billion, building islands and pipelines and digging deep, some two and a half miles below the surface, to reach a so-called supergiant oil field where sour crude is mixed with toxic gas at ungodly pressures. In industry circles, Kashagan has become a watchword for massive complexity and near impossibility, and adopted an unofficial motto: "cash all gone."
  • Ethnic America, on a map: The history of European colonization of the Americas is still evident today in most of the United States. This very cool map shows which ancestries make up the largest population in each of the country’s 3,144 counties. [...] The legacy of slavery still shows up in many rural Southern counties, where African Americans make up dominant slices of the population. Mexican Americans are dominant in border states, and in rural areas where agriculture is a big slice of the economy in places like eastern Washington and southern Idaho.

    And note those of non-Mexican Hispanic/Spanish origin in northern New Mexico. Those are the families who were in the United States before there was a United States. Or a Mexico, for that matter.

  • Texans lose another abortion clinic: Texas’s harsh anti-abortion law has claimed another victim, as a clinic in El Paso has been forced to immediately halt its abortion services. The Reproductive Services clinic attempted to seek an injunction against the provision of the law that requires abortion clinics to get admitting privileges from local hospitals—a medically unnecessary requirement that’s often impossible to meet—but a federal judge denied that request.
  • How the BP oil spill turned African American oystermen into an endangered species.
  • John Roberts and the Color of Money v. People of Color: People of color are almost entirely absent from the top donor profile, and none more so than members of the community that white Americans enslaved for two centuries:

    While more than one-in-six Americans live in a neighborhood that is majority African-American or Hispanic, less than one-in-50 superlimit donors do. More than 90 percent of these elite donors live in neighborhoods with a greater concentration of non- Hispanic white residents than average. African-Americans are especially underrepresented. The median elite donor lives in a neighborhood where the African-American population counts for only 1.4 percent, nine times less than the national rate.

    In other words: Political money and hence influence at the top levels is disproportionately white, male, and with almost no social context that includes significant numbers of African Americans and other people of color.

  • Chelsea Clinton expecting a baby in the fall: With her mother at her side, Ms. Clinton added, “I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and, hopefully, children as my mom was to me.” [...]

    In September, CBS News asked [Bill] Clinton whether his wife would rather be president or grandmother. “I think she’d say grandmother,” he replied.

  • The rollercoaster-building business: according to Roller Coaster Database, there are 2,956 roller coasters in 2,067 amusement parks worldwide, with nearly 400 million riders each year. How did these feats of engineering become so popular, and who are the people behind them?
  • On today's rerun of the Kagro in the Morning show, it's 4/18/13. West, TX has just exploded, the gun bill has gone down, we pondered what is & isn't "terrorism," and Aaron Schock presaged the court ruling discussed yesterday, declaring good PR a new corporate entitlement.

Dispute over Nebraska pipeline route spurs Obama administration to delay Keystone XL decision

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:54
Keystone XL pipeline route Unnamed sources familiar with the decision have told Reuters that the Obama administration will announce Friday that it is extending the government comment period for the Keystone XL pipeline. This will likely delay any decision on whether to build the pipeline until after the November midterms:
President Barack Obama has said he will make a final decision on whether to allow the pipeline connecting Canada's oil sands region to Texas refiners but several government agencies were expected to weigh-in by the end of May.

A dispute over the proposed route of the pipeline has stalled the project in Nebraska, though, and officials will cite that uncertainty in its announcement on Friday justifying the delay.

A judge ruled in February that the state had unconstitutionally transferred authority to the governor's office to approve the revised route that TransCanada, the pipeline builder, has chosen for Nebraska. That decision, she said, should be made instead by the Nebraska Public Service Commission. The case is being appealed by the state attorney general.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

Here come the positive campaign ads. Wait, what?

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:42
Scott Brown in his pickup, giving a thumbs up. "Scott Brown. He, um, owns a truck." Oh Gawd, this is going to be hilarious to watch.
Some of the best-known “super PACs” and outside groups — like Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the conservative billionaires David H. and Charles G. Koch — are making an effort to also cast their candidates in an appealing way instead of solely attacking opponents. Already this year, 16 percent of Americans for Prosperity’s spots have been positive; in 2012, the group did not run a single one. Sixteen percent? That's off the positivity charts, baby!
The shift is the product of several factors — the renewed hope that positive commercials can break through the advertising clutter; lessons of the 2012 presidential race, when Mitt Romney and outside Republican groups largely failed to offer an alternate message to an onslaught of negative spots; and the increasing prevalence of stock footage made public by campaigns that makes producing positive ads easier. Ah ha ha ha ... so that's it. Campaigns are going to release footage of their candidate "to the public," which will mean that the SuperPACs can "appropriate" those candidate images for use in their own totally uncoordinated advertising campaigns for that candidate. And since no campaign is going to release footage of their candidate biting the head off a squirrel "to the public," positive ads it is!
“Any idiot can do a negative ad badly, and many do, but a good positive ad captures a sense of the candidate and the candidate’s connection to the place where he’s running,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist who advises roughly a dozen super PACs and candidates, and who made the 2002 ad tying a Democratic senator from Georgia, Max Cleland, who lost both legs and his right hand in the Vietnam War, to Osama bin Laden. And fuck you for that forever, fella. Run all the positive ads you want from now on, you're still a piece of trash. And I mean that in the most positive of ways.

Note that the Koch brothers alone are worth 100 billion dollars. They could spend one billion dollars on every last American Senate race in the next six years and still have enough left over to buy a cheeseburger. When they want a certain candidate in office, or don't want a certain candidate in office, Americans for Prosperity can spend as much money as they want to try to make that happen because the Supreme Court doesn't think one family personally buying all the Senate seats would be a problem. With the kind of money being thrown around these days, of course there's going to be some percentage of positive ads. There will have to be, simply because they will eventually have run through every possible smear on every possible opponent and have nothing else to run.

Fox News warns of 'The Unholy War on Easter'

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:09
The number of things that set decent God-fearing folks off really does seem infinite. Chief among them is daring to even express an opinion other than their own, because that's oppressing them, you see.
The new unholy war on Easter finding a new battleground in the Windy City. Well that's quite the intro. Do go on.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation, an atheist group that already posted an anti-Easter sign in the Wisconsin state capital, is now erecting a massive display in Chicago's Daley Plaza. Two eight-foot banners featuring Thomas Jefferson and President John Adams promoting the secular views of our founding fathers. THOSE BASTARDS.
One banner reads "In reason we trust", the other will say "Keep state and religion separate." The exhibit, aimed at countering the Jesus in Daley Plaza displaying a display that is going on today or going up today, it's been going on for eight years there in Chicago, it'll feature a nineteen foot tall cross and a 10-foot tall image of the resurrected Jesus. Has Easter evolved into an occasion to demean religious beliefs and Christianity? Blah blah interview Satan blah. And since it's been going on eight years, it's clearly our national tradition and how dare some other group try to bring the hellhound Founding Fathers into this.

Thankfully all parties agree that it's within atheists' rights to put up their own public display, even if it lacks, quote, "class." What we can't agree on is whether merely expressing an opinion other than a belief in Christianity in the public square is an "unholy" attack on Christianity. Fox News says it is, the founding fathers didn't seem to think so, and I guess the founding fathers don't have their own television network so it sucks to be them.

"God bless you both," the Fox anchor ends the interview with. Now that's class.

President Obama makes the case for Medicaid

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:58
Infographic showing result of decision by states to refuse Medicaid expansion money.
In Thursday's press conference announcing that the Affordable Care Act had reached 8 million exchange enrollees, President Obama was asked whether that would mean Democrats would start campaigning on Obamacare. His answer in part:
I think that Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact that millions of people like the woman I just described who I saw in Pennsylvania yesterday we’re helping because of something we did. I don’t think we should apologize for it, and I don’t think we should be defensive about it. I think there is a strong, good, right story to tell. He gave them the blueprint for telling that story, here:
[I]f the Republicans want to spend the entire next six months or year talking about repealing a bill that provides millions of people health insurance without providing any meaningful alternative, instead of wanting to talk about jobs and the economic situation of families all across the country, that's their prerogative. At some point I think they’ll make the transition. That's my hope, anyway. If not, we're just going to keep on doing what we're doing, which is making it work for people all across the country.

I'm sorry, I'm going to say one last thing about this, just because this does frustrate me: States that have chosen not to expand Medicaid for no other reason than political spite. You’ve got 5 million people who could be having health insurance right now at no cost to these states—zero cost to these states—other than ideological reasons. They have chosen not to provide health insurance for their citizens. That's wrong. It should stop. Those folks should be able to get health insurance like everybody else.

Democrats can stand behind Obamacare, making the case that it has helped millions of people. But that's just part of the story. The other side of it is that Republicans aren't just fighting to take all that away from the people who just got it—anywhere from 14 to 23 million people—they're keeping 5 million out of coverage. Simply because of politics. People are dying simply because of Republican politics.

Epidemic of GOPer virus will kill thousands in red states

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:32

Imagine that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned that America was about to be hit by a preventable epidemic of a deadly, though curable, virus. In response, the federal government budgeted funds for each of the 50 states to purchase antidotes to save the afflicted and vaccines to immunize residents against future outbreaks. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the White House raised the revenue to completely cover the costs of the emergency program for three years and promised to pay 90 percent of the bill after that. Even having to pick up 10 percent of the tab, most states would come out ahead by virtue of not having to pay for the care of the sick and the dying. All the 50 governors and state legislatures had to do to save thousands of their residents from needless deaths was to say one word to free money from Uncle Sam: Yes.

Now, imagine that 24 states simply said no, for no other reason than their leaders' dislike of the president and his political party.

If that sounds inconceivable, it shouldn't. It's actually happening right now. By rejecting the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, Republicans are making the unconscionable routine by guaranteeing that thousands of their own constituents will die every year.  Die, that is, from the GOPer virus.

That's not hyperbole, but a grim reality. Due to what might be the greatest act of political spite in modern American history, Republicans will needlessly leave millions of people uninsured, many hospitals on the edge of financial ruin and thousands of Americans dead, mostly in the states the GOP itself controls.

Continue reading to see how the Republicans' killer math works.

Nebraska joins the states that no longer allow employers to ask job applicants about criminal record

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 11:23
A woman's hands behind bars Gov. Dave Heineman signed a bill Wednesday making Nebraska the 11th state that bars employers from asking prospective employees if they have a criminal record. The prohibition is a provision in a law designed to reduce prison overcrowding. It removes a box that asks job applicants whether they have been arrested or convicted of a crime. Checking that box instantly keeps many job seekers from getting hired for the lowest-paid jobs.

In fact, unemployment among ex-convicts, studies indicate, can be as high as 75 percent. A study in New York City found applicants admitting they have a criminal record were 50 percent less likely to be offered a job. Not surprisingly, in one more impact of the racist nature of the criminal-justice system, black applicants with records were far less likely than white applicants with the same background to get job offers.

Besides banning the box, the Nebraska law also includes provisions for job training, mental health and transitional programs, reports Annie-Rose Strasser:

The bill passed with “little fanfare,” said a spokesperson for the Governor. It was approved by the legislature on a vote of 46-0.

State Senator Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), who authored the bill, said that the potential budget savings from helping keep people out of prisons was one of the keys to getting everyone on board. But he also said the state has been focused on criminal justice issues for a while—they started with juveniles—and that there’s been consensus from Republicans and Democrats alike on it.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

Six families whose lives have been changed by Obamacare

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 10:59

While President Obama was in Austin this week, he and First Lady Michelle Obama met with six families who had written to him to tell him how the Affordable Care Act has helped them. Watch their meeting:

Mitt Romney, party elder and statesman

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 10:50
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney walks off stage at the conclusion of a campaign rally at the airport in Columbus, Ohio November 5, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder The sign that convinced Karl Rove that Mitt would win This article is sort of hilarious, not so much for the content of the article itself...
After retreating from public view following his crushing loss to President Obama in the 2012 election, [Mitt] Romney has returned to the political stage, emerging as one of the Republican Party’s most coveted stars, especially on the fundraising circuit, in the run-up to November’s midterm elections. ...but because the first comment pretty much sums things up:
A commentary on the current state of the Republican Party that a guy who has lost every election he's ever been in, except one, is considered a star and elder statesman. He served as a one-term governor and didn't run again because he was so unpopular. This is who is revered in the GOP? Sad. Sad for the GOP, I guess. Comedy for the rest of us. I'm sure it feels good for Romney to be wanted by certain segments of his party (for example, fellow Massachusetts politician Scott Brown has asked him to campaign on his behalf), but at the end of the day, he's still a guy who doesn't appeal to his party's base and doesn't appeal outside his party's base.

That being said, what other options do the GOP have when it comes to party elders? John McCain? George W. Bush? Dick Cheney? Sarah Palin? Hell, Romney is probably the best they've got. And even though he says he's not running in 2016—and would surely lose if he did—he'd certainly be one of the GOP's best candidates and arguably even the best. And that really is a pathetic commentary on the current state of the GOP.

Republicans respond to good Obamacare news: 'Lalala, we can't hear you!'

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 10:42
9 year old boy with his mouth open in a scream, and his ears covered. Isolated on dark background. Obamcare enrollments exceeded all expectations, premiums are going to be lower than predicted, millions of Americans now have health coverage. So, as President Obama said Thursday, in announcing 8 million enrollments, "It's well past time to move on as a country." Right? Ha.
No, we can't. RT @ZekeJMiller: Obama:  "I think we can all agree that it's well past time to move on."
@NRCC Oh, but that's not all:
From dropped coverage, to increased health care costs, to less access to preferred doctors, #ObamaCare is hurting millions of Americans.
@Senate_GOPs Tell Congress to stop spending $17 million of your tax dollars every month on #Obamacare ads! http://t.co/...
@FreedomWorks Or in the words of a Republican in House leadership:
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy said Obama was “right” when he said the GOP refuses to accept the Affordable Care Act “as settled law.”

“Republicans cannot and will not accept this law,” McCarthy said in a statement.

For Republicans, no Obamacare news is good Obamacare news. It's just another opportunity to roll out the talking points, the "unskewing" and the conspiracy theories about how the numbers really can't be all that good. Because everybody knows, this law is doomed to collapse under its own weight. That's their theory, and they're sticking to it all the way through November.

Chart of the Day: Obamacare sign-up tally if Fox News does the counting

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 09:02
Satirical count of ACA sign-ups. Thanks to Daniel Liebman for this chart that would surprise nobody if it appeared on Fox.  

Cartoon: George W. Bush's Art of Legacy

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 08:51

Really?  George W. Bush is having an art show at his presidential library featuring his painted portraits of many of the big important people who he met during his presidency?  Okay, I just couldn't resist this one.  He's capturing emotion!  He's showing Putin's personality!  Look!  He painted a cuddly duck for his grandchild!  (Cartoon not necessary for that one.)  He's trying to paint his way to a nice cuddly legacy.

Methinks there are a few other things he should be painting.  If he's not forced to paint the victims of his reckless foreign policy in real life, at least I can make him do it in my cartoons.  Please, Dubya, visit a disabled veteran's house and ask him to sit for a portrait.  Oh wait, I forgot, your portraits only come from the top searches of Google.

Alas, one can only hope.  If only Bush really wanted to capture the pain, loss and suffering of his ridiculous war escapade.  He'd have to make so many visits to Iraq, a full C-130 full of art supplies would be required at regular intervals.  Enjoy the cartoon and pass it along to your favorite ex-president hobbyist painter.

Daily Kos Radio is IN RERUNS at 9am ET!

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 07:31

Daily Kos Radio logo

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

"Good Friday morning to you, everybody!" I've been waiting for some time to say that, and as luck would have it, I'm not actually on the air to do it. So I'll post it, instead.

Yes, it's the last day of Spring Break, and time to pack the Family Truckster once again. I'll leave you with the April 18, 2013 show to play with while I'm gone. West, Texas has just exploded. The gun bill has gone down in the Senate. And Aaron Schock has presaged the federal court ruling discussed at the end of yesterday's show, by declaring good corporate PR to be a new entitlement.

Listen LIVE (in a manner of speaking) at 9:00 ET, here: The Daily Kos Radio Player

Click this Link to Listen on your iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player

Can't see the live stream and/or podcast players in these posts? Do you use NoScript or something similar to control Javascript? Want to? Remember to enable Libsyn and Shoutcastplayer, and you'll see our players every morning!

Or if you prefer, why not download the Stitcher app on your favorite mobile device, and search for the Netroots Radio live stream? And hey, when you do, be sure to sign up with the promo code DAILYKOS, and earn Daily Kos Radio $1 in the Stitcher affiliate program!

Please do remember to "favorite" us while you're at Stitcher. We're bouncing up and down in the rankings these days, and the more of you who help us, the more listeners out there who'll find us on the Stitcher network.

Miss our last LIVE show? You can catch it here:

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

Economics Daily Digest: Inequality was not an accident

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 07:09
Economics Daily Digest by the Roosevelt Institute banner

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

We Built This Country on Inequality (The Nation)

Mychal Denzel Smith writes that the U.S. economy was built on a foundation of inequality for women and racial minorities, and that we must fight racism and sexism if we hope to close the wealth gap.

Oklahoma Governor Signs Law Barring Cities From Raising Minimum Wage (AJAM)

The Oklahoma law also bars cities from requiring paid sick leave or vacation time, reports Amel Ahmed. This seems intended to preempt a push for a state-level minimum wage increase, as in California and Maryland.

Treat Wage Theft as a Criminal Offense (WaPo)

Catherine Rampell asks why the consequences for stealing thousands from workers' paychecks are so much less severe than the consequences of stealing from someone's home.

Obamacare Succeeded for One Simple Reason: It's Horrible to be Uninsured (Vox)

Sarah Kliff says the eight million sign-ups are proof that insured pundits didn't understand how desperate the uninsured and underinsured were to get health insurance.

Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich suggests that today's concentrated wealth resembles the Gilded Age, right down to the need to break up too-large corporations. He cites the pending Comcast-Time Warner merger as a troubling example.

New on Next New Deal

Not Just the Long-Term Unemployed: Those Unemployed Zero Weeks Are Struggling to Find Jobs

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal looks at the data on those who move from one employer directly to another, without any unemployment. When even those workers struggle on the job market, wage growth slows.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: In fighting the ACA, Republicans will have an uphill battle

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 07:05
The Washington Post:
OBAMACARE’S CRITICS have had a bad week. On Thursday, President Obama announced that 8 million people have enrolled in new health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, and a significant portion of them are young Americans. Yes, we need to learn more about the numbers. And yes, a lot needs to happen to complete the ACA’s phase-in. The debate about how well the law is working is not over. But the initial figures are encouraging, and Mr. Obama is right to insist that continued Republican demands for repeal are unproductive and unwise. Geoffrey Cowley at MSNBC:
What a difference three months make. The Barack Obama who wore “ACA” like scarlet letters for the last quarter of 2013 sounded like a changed man during Thursday’s press conference on the Affordable Care Act. Rather than re-apologizing for the troubled launch of healthcare.gov, he reveled in numbers well-chosen to undermine the GOP’s 2014 campaign plans.

The first one was 8 million. That’s the number of people who have found private coverage through the new insurance exchanges since October. Only 4.2 million people had signed up by the end of February, and supporters worried that the exchanges would fall short of the 6 million needed to preserve a modicum of credibility. By March 31, enrollment had surged to 7.5 million, and the new figure turns the homerun into a grand slam.

Much more below the fold.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Karl Rove's new polls have positive trendlines ... for Democrats

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 07:01
Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest banner Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here. Leading Off:

Crossroads: Karl Rove's American Crossroads just shared five new Senate polls with Politico, but the crosstabs are all behind their paywall at "Politico Pro," so all we have are summaries of the toplines. But the numbers (from Harper Polling) are instructive nevertheless, particularly when you examine the trendlines:

AR-Sen: Mark Pryor (D-inc): 39, Tom Cotton (R): 39 (Jan: 42-36 Cotton)

CO-Sen: Mark Udall (D-inc): 45, Cory Gardner (R): 43 (March: 45-44 Udall)

LA-Sen: Mary Landrieu (D-inc): 43, Bill Cassidy (R): 47 (Jan.: 45-44 Cassidy)

MI-Sen: Gary Peters (D): 40, Terri Lynn Land (R): 43 (Jan.: 42-37 Land)

MT-Sen: John Walsh (D-inc): 35, Steve Daines (R): 42 (Jan.: 43-29 Daines)

So in four of five states, Democratic margins have improved since the last time Harper went into the field—and as Markos Moulitsas observes, this comes after the Kochs have spent many millions on withering attack ads in most of these races for months. Arkansas is perhaps the most notable of all: Following four straight positive polls for Democrats, the best that Rove can do is a survey showing a 6-point drop into a tie?

Certainly Pryor's far from out of the woods, and all of these races are tough holds for Democrats. But after a dark winter, the gloom may be lifting. Funny that Karl Rove, of all people, should be the bearer of such portents.

Open thread for night owls: A guide to the Koch-funded propaganda about rich states and poor states

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 22:30
At The Progressive, Mary Bottari provides A Reporter's Guide to the Koch-Funded Rich States, Poor States ALEC Report:

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is slated to roll out its annual "Rich States, Poor States" publication this week. The document, whose lead author is economist Arthur Laffer, is sold to the press as an objective, academic measure of state economic performance, but should instead be viewed more as a lobby scorecard ranking states on the adoption of extreme ALEC policies that have little or nothing to do with economic outcomes. This year, leaked documents revealed that the report is directly funded by the Kochs, on top of longstanding Koch support for ALEC itself.

Until recently, little information was available about the funders of Rich States, Poor States, but tucked in a cache of ALEC internal documents obtained by the Guardian in December was a spreadsheet (PDF pg. 40) that showed for the first time that Rich States, Poor States is funded by the Kochs' Claude Lambe Foundation, as well as the Searle Freedom Trust. […]

Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First in Washington, D.C., told theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel that Laffer's report evaluates and rewards states that are suppressing wages and moving their tax burden from the rich to the poor. "This is all about regressivity," LeRoy said. The non-partisan, non-profit resource centers Good Jobs First and the Iowa Policy Project issued a report in 2013 which took apart Rich States, Poor States on methodological grounds. Their analysis criticized Rich States, Poor States for its "primitive approaches" and for ignoring decades of academic peer-reviewed studies on economic development.

Moreover, the 2013 Rich States Poor States appeared highly politicized, ranking Scott Walker's Wisconsin 15th in the nation at a time the state was ranked 44th for new job creation by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Laffer and his colleagues, which included Stephen Moore (formerly of the Wall Street Journal, now at the Heritage Foundation), seem intent on rewarding Republican governors who pursue austerity agendas even if that agenda hurts economic growth. Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker is a former ALEC member who signed 19 ALEC bills into law in his first two years in office, slashed government spending and eviscerated state unions prompting mass protests in February 2011. […]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008Pelosi, At Papal Mass, Demonstrates Pro-Choice Politicians Not Prohibited From Receiving Communion:

Why is there a persistent belief among many that the Roman Catholic Church denies Communion to people—especially American politicians who are pro-choice and members of the Democratic party—who don't adhere to every tenet of Church doctrine?  

Because many reporters are lazy and don't bother to figure out the facts. Four years ago American Bishops voted on a proposal to deny communion to politicians, and the proposal was rejected 183-6. And why has the issue come up? Because conservative political activists who are also Catholic have tried to make it an issue. For them, Church doctrine is only relevant on issues of the crotch. The Just War doctrine, economic justice, capital punishment, none of those things matter. No, the only things that matter for them are abortion, homosexuality and human conception. And they're trying to use the Church for their partisan political goals. And as seen by idiotic questions from reporters like this, they're at least succeeding with some dimwitted media types.

Tweet of the Day:

Oligarchy Defined: Koch Brothers Worth $100 Billion, Buy GOP For Just $412 Million http://t.co/...

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, an extended conversation with long-time Netroots denizen (and former BLM employee!) Mark Brooks. Hear him recount his efforts to stay on top of issues of local governance in his rural VA county, and fight his way through the many (and familiar) obstacles that still hinder effective use of the Freedom of Information Act. Local? Yes. Unsexy? Maybe. But it's an issue with enormous impact on your everyday life. Come hear what he's got to say about it, and learn where you can turn if you're fighting a similar uphill battle. And the story I snuck in under the wire: U.S. appeals court finds conflict-minerals rule violates free speech.

High Impact Posts. Top Comments. Overnight News Digest.

Sometimes when I get nervous, I hold my gun & squeeze my fingers closed like this! BLAM! GunFAIL LXV

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 21:14
Seven of 51 guns discovered by TSA agents in airports across the country last week. Another week heavy on the self-shootings. We have 40 total listings, and 21 of them involve people accidentally shooting themselves.

Seven of our listings involved law enforcement officers, active duty military, or security guards. Their seven accidents wounded three and killed two, including the astonishing death of a Marine guard posted at the entrance to Camp Lejeune, NC, accidentally shot by the other guard with whom he was standing duty.

Speaking of astonishing stories, here's one I didn't include in the list, because it just doesn't fit the category:

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department acknowledged Thursday that its deputies mistakenly shot and killed an aspiring TV producer earlier this week while responding to a stabbing and hostage standoff in West Hollywood. Sheriff’s officials said deputies believed John Winkler, 30, was the attacker when they encountered him at a Palm Avenue apartment complex Monday night. In fact, he was one of three hostages being held inside an apartment by a man with a knife. Winkler was shot in the chest when he rushed out of the apartment with one of the other victims, sheriff's officials said in a statement. There were six child victims of GunFAIL in today's compilation, ages, 4, 8, 9, two 11 year olds, and 17. And two kids who accidentally shot their siblings, including a 2 year old who somehow managed to fire someone's (very manly) .357 with an 8-inch barrel. In our other standard categories, we find four target shooting accidents, three home invasion shootings, three gun cleaning accidents (and one gun "securing" accident, if you're not full-up on irony yet), plus one guy who accidentally shot himself at an NRA event.

Anyway, you get the gist. So without further ado, this week's dishonor roll, below the fold.