July 2 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #885

July 2 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #885


“I’m comfortable in my life. There is one thing I miss, looking in the eyes of the people who serve this country and saluting them.” — George W. Bush, adding he also misses the showers on Air Force One and the personal pastry chef. 6/24/15

“I do great with Latino voters. I employ so many Latinos. I have so many people working for me. I’m a job creator. I create jobs. I’m a master job creator. No politician knows how to create jobs. They’re all talk, they’re no action. They don’t know what they’re doing. And you know, the Latinos love Trump and I love them.” —Donald Trump, while giving reporters a tour of his golf course. 6/23/15

“I’m appalled by –– though, I really like to like Nikki Haley since she is a Republican. On the other hand, she is an immigrant and does not understand America’s history,” —Ann Coulter about South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) who called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds. Haley was born in Bamberg, S.C. 6/24/15

Anyone who knows the first thing about military history, knows that there is no greater army that ever took the field than the Confederate Army.” —Ann Coulter 6/23/15

“I can’t believe Bush is in first place. This guy can’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag. So I’m in second place to Bush. I hate it.” — Donald Trump, who is in second place among Republican candidates in New Hampshire. 6/24/15

“For all the misinformation campaigns, all the doomsday predictions, all the talk of death panels and job destruction, for all the repeal attempts, this law is now helping tens of millions of Americans.” — President Obama, on the Supreme Court’s vindication of the Affordable Care Act.

Today the Supreme Court fulfilled the words engraved upon its building: ‘Equal justice under law.’ Far too long our justice system has marginalized the gay community and I am very glad the Court has finally caught up.” — Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 

The march of progress is often slow, but it is always steady. On Friday, the United States took another step toward the ideal of equality envisioned by its founders. And we are all more free as a result.” — PennLive Editorial 6/26/15

“This morning, love triumphed in the highest court in our land. Equality triumphed. America triumphed.” — Hillary Clinton 6/26/15

Video of Bree Newsome taking down the Confederate Battle Flag at the South Carolina State Capitol.

“Dylann Roof is a product of the left wing. He’s a product of their education system. As much as they wanna blame it on the right, as far as I’m concerned — you can look at everything he’s done and it absolutely adds up to leftism.” — Fox News guest Kevin Jackson 6/28/15

“Yeah, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is running for president. No, I don’t know why either.” — Hunter in the Daily Kos 6/30/15

“When you add the ACA to the reforms in the stimulus package, Dodd-Frank, and his various climate initiatives. I don’t think there is any doubt: On domestic issues Obama is the most consequential and successful Democratic president since LBJ. It isn’t close.” — University of California Professor Paul Pierson 6/26/15


1. Andy Borowitz: Scalia Arrested Trying to Burn Down Supreme Court

In a shocking end to an illustrious legal career, police arrested Justice Antonin Scalia today as he attempted to set the Supreme Court building ablaze.

Justice Scalia, who had seemed calm and composed during the announcement of two major rulings this morning, was spotted by police minutes later outside the building, carrying a book of matches and a gallon of kerosene.

After police nabbed Justice Scalia and placed him in handcuffs, the Juror appeared “at peace and resigned to his fate,” a police spokesman said.

“He went quietly,” the spokesman said. “He just muttered something like, ‘I don’t want to live in a world like this.’ ”

Back at the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia’s colleagues said they hoped he would get the help he needed, except for Justice Clarence Thomas, who said nothing.

Elsewhere: Many in Nation Tired of Explaining Things to Idiots

Of the many obvious things that people are sick and tired of trying to get through the skulls of stupid people, the fact that climate change will cause catastrophic habitat destruction and devastating extinctions tops the list, with a majority saying that they will no longer bother trying to explain this to cretins.

Coming in a close second, statistical proof that gun control has reduced gun deaths in countries around the world is something that a significant number of those polled have given up attempting to break down for morons.

Finally, a majority said that trying to make idiots understand why a flag that symbolizes bigotry and hatred has no business flying over a state capitol only makes the person attempting to explain this want to put his or her fist through a wall.

In a result that suggests a dismal future for the practice of explaining things to idiots, an overwhelming number of those polled said that they were considering abandoning such attempts altogether, with a broad majority agreeing with the statement, “This country is exhausting.” Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/


“One of the best constitutional minds in the country.” —Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) about Chief Justice John Roberts on 7/28/05


“Today, these robed Houdinis transmogrified a ‘federal exchange’ into an exchange ‘established by the State.’ … Unelected judges have once again become legislators, and bad ones at that. They are lawless, and they hide their prevarication in legalese.” — Cruz about the Obamacare decision written by Roberts on 6/25/15


“For the United States, that meant clinging to a policy that was not working. Instead of supporting democracy and opportunity for the Cuban people, our efforts to isolate Cuba despite good intentions increasingly had the opposite effect—cementing the status quo and isolating the United States from our neighbors in this hemisphere. The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past. When something isn’t working, we can—and will—change.” — President Obama 7/01/15


– “I intend to oppose the confirmation of an ambassador to Cuba until these issues are addressed. It is time for our unilateral concessions to this odious regime to end.” — Sen. Marco Rubio 7/01/15

– “Opening the American Embassy in Cuba will do nothing to help the Cuban people and is just another trivial attempt for President Obama to go legacy shopping.” — Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) 7/01/15

“I oppose the decision to further embrace the Castro regime by opening an embassy in Havana.” — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 7/01/15


“I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.” — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) 6/26/15


“This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.” — President Barack Obama, hailing the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage as “a victory for America.” 6/26/15

3. From Justice Kennedy’s Majority Opinion on Gay Marriage

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment in themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” — Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the Court’s Majority  http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/supreme-court-gay-marriage-ruling-highlights-n382431

4. Conservatives Can’t Hide Their Disgust With SCOTUS

On Obamacare

“An out-of-control act of judicial tyranny … Our Founding Fathers didn’t create a ‘do-over’ provision in our Constitution that allows unelected, Supreme Court justices the power to circumvent Congress and rewrite bad laws.” — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 6/25/15

“The judiciary, John Roberts included, is now just the water boy for the welfare state.” — Fox’s Andrea Tantaros on Twitter 6/25/15

“This decision turns common language on its head. Now leaders must turn our attention to making the case that ObamaCare must be replaced.” — Chris Christie on Twitter 6/25/15

“This decision turns both the rule of law and common sense on its head. ObamaCare raises taxes, harms patients and doctors and is the wrong fix for America’s health care system. As President, I would make it my mission to repeal it and propose real solutions for our healthcare system.” — Sen. Rand Paul (KY) 6/25/15

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the administration’s implementation of ObamaCare means Republicans in the House and Senate must redouble their efforts to repeal and replace this destructive and costly law.” — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker 6/25/15

On Gay Marriage

“The Supreme Court is completely out of control, making laws on their own, and has become a public opinion poll instead of a judicial body. If we want to save some money lets just get rid of the court.”— Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) responding to the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage.

“We’re not bound by what nine people say in perpetuity.” — Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who vowed to fight a Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage:

“A ruling by the Supreme Court is nothing but an opinion if the legislative branch and the executive branch do not enforce it.” — Former GOP House majority leader Tom Delay

“The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do-redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.” — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R)6/26/15

5. The Nightly Show: O’Blivious – Bill O Reilly’s All White Debate On Racism


6. Hate Is Subsidized by U.S. Taxpayers

The Council of Conservative Citizens Inc., the group that allegedly inspired the racial hatred in Roof, the 21-year-old high school dropout who is is charged with nine counts of murder, is listed by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization that promotes social welfare, also known as a 501(c)(4).” 6/23/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/23/group-that-fueled-dylann-roof-s-hate-is-subsidized-by-u-s-taxpayers.html

7. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Fox Claims Fast Food Workers Forego Higher Salaries To Keep Receiving “Free Stuff From The Government”http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/06/24/fox-claims-fast-food-workers-forego-higher-sala/204120

Fox’s Ralph Peters: ISIS Is Trying To “Exactly What The American Left Is Trying To Do … Destroy The Past”http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/06/24/foxs-ralph-peters-isis-is-trying-to-exactly-wha/204118

Fox’s Steve Doocy Parrots Rush Limbaugh To Stoke Fears About A Liberal Assault On American Flag http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/06/24/foxs-steve-doocy-parrots-rush-limbaugh-to-stoke/204116

Fox Claims Fast Food Workers Forego Higher Salaries To Keep Receiving “Free Stuff From The Government “http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/06/24/fox-claims-fast-food-workers-forego-higher-sala/204120

Fox’s Andrew Napolitano: Supreme Court Used “Almost Tyrannical Power” To Uphold Affordable Care Act http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/06/25/foxs-andrew-napolitano-supreme-court-used-almos/204156

Right-Wing Media Respond To Nationwide Marriage Equality: “We Should Weep For Our Country”http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/06/26/right-wing-media-respond-to-nationwide-marriage/204166

Fox’s Martha MacCallum On Marriage Equality Decision: “What’s To Prevent” 3 People From Getting Married Now? http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/06/26/foxs-martha-maccallum-on-marriage-equality-deci/204167

Hannity Agrees With Cruz: “Today Is Some Of The Darkest 24 Hours In Our Nation’s History” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/06/26/hannity-agrees-with-cruz-today-is-some-of-the-d/204177

O’Reilly: “We Have An Activist [Supreme] Court,” Unable “To Put Ideology Aside” In Recent Rulings http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/06/29/oreilly-we-have-an-activist-supreme-court-unabl/204197

Conservative Media Argue Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Creates Constitutional Right To Carry A Gun In Public http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/06/29/conservative-media-argue-same-sex-marriage-ruli/204191

Fox News Rallies To Defend Donald Trump After NBC Announces Split http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/06/30/fox-news-rallies-to-defend-donald-trump-after-n/204207

Fox’s Erick Erickson: “Abuse” And “Parental Issues” Make People Gay http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/06/30/foxs-erick-erickson-abuse-and-parental-issues-m/204210

8. “Blame the Flag,” a cartoon by MarkFiore


9. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“Donald Trump announced that he’s running for president. During his speech he told the crowd that if elected he would be ‘the greatest jobs president that God ever created.’ Then God said, ‘Hey, don’t drag me into this publicity stunt.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump told ABC news that if he had Oprah as a running mate, they could easily win. Although you know who’d definitely win? Oprah WITHOUT Donald Trump.” –Jimmy Fallon

“In his presidential announcement speech yesterday, Donald Trump pledged to become ‘the greatest jobs president that God ever created.’ This is from the man who coined the catch phrase ‘You’re fired.'” –Conan O’Brien

“Political analysts are saying that as a candidate, Donald Trump is ‘a totally unqualified nuisance.’ In other words, he is a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination.” –Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump is running for president, and I couldn’t be happier about it. He promised he would be ‘the greatest jobs president that God ever created.’ I think President Trump would be a very good thing for jobs in this country — specifically for my job here at this show.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Presidential hopeful Donald Trump said yesterday that he has better hair than Senator Marco Rubio – a claim that was recently disproven by wind.” –Seth Meyers

“Jeb Bush is here tonight, fresh off his announcement that he’s running for president. We were also going to have Donald Trump as well, but last time we checked he was still giving his speech.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Trump is running for president and he’s wasting no time getting down to business. In fact, just after his announcement he demanded to see Jeb Bush’s birth certificate.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump announced today he is running for president of the United States. Traditionally that means six more weeks of comedy.” –Conan O’Brien

“Due to Donald Trump entering the presidential race, season 15 of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ will not air. But don’t worry. With Trump running for president, you’ll still get to see an irrelevant B-list celebrity not get a job.” –Conan O’Brien

“Did you see Donald Trump’s big announcement today? Trump is very confident. He could be the only presidential candidate to ever pick himself as a running mate.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“A lot of people aren’t taking Trump seriously. But the fact of the matter is, when Donald Trump makes an announcement, people listen — because he’s shouting. You have no choice but to listen.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Trump said, ‘The American dream is dead.’ All right, well, it’s not exactly ‘Hope and change,’ but it’s a slogan.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Donald Trump announced today that he is running for president. And based on the amount of bronzer he uses, he’s also running for president of the Spokane NAACP.” –Seth Meyers

10. From Bill in Portland Maine: House Committee Demands White House Produce A Scandal

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold hearings early next month to grill Obama administration officials about a lack of quality scandals originating in the White House, sources say.

“We’ve exhausted all of our leads and didn’t turn up a thing,” said a Republican committee member who asked to remain anonymous. “Solyndra, Fast and Furious, the IRS, the tan suit—even our ace in the hole, Benghazi, is a big nothingburger and at this point we’re down to investigating rounding errors in office supply expenditures.”

Added the source: “We’re going through crossword puzzles over here faster than crap through a goose. Every day is the same—crickets.” More at  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/23/1395465/-Cheers-and-Jeers-Tuesday

11. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: And Now – 5 Years of People Prematurely Declaring The End of Obamacare


12. Daily Show: Jindal all the way


13. Christie Lies

Most Americans don’t know Chris Christie like I do, so it’s only natural to wonder what testimony I might offer after covering his every move for the last 14 years.

My testimony amounts to a warning: Don’t believe a word the man says. If you have the stomach for it, this column offers some greatest hits in Christie’s catalog of lies. Don’t misunderstand me. They all lie, and I get that. But Christie does it with such audacity, and such frequency, that he stands out.

When Christie picks up the microphone, he speaks so clearly and forcefully that you assume genuine conviction is behind it. Be careful, though. It’s a kind of spell. He is a remarkable talent with a silver tongue. But if you look closely, you can see that it is forked like a serpent’s. 6/30/15 Read more at http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/06/after_14_years_of_watching_christie_a_warning_he_l.html

14. Poll: Majorities back Supreme Court rulings on marriage, Obamacare

According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 63% support the Court’s ruling upholding government assistance for lower-income Americans buying health insurance through both state-operated and federally-run health insurance exchanges. Slightly fewer, 59%, say they back the ruling which made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states.

Support for each ruling is sharply divided by party, with most Democrats and independents behind both, and most Republicans opposed to both. — Tom Moran 6/30/15 http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/30/politics/supreme-court-gay-marriage-obamacare-poll/index.html

15. Steven Colbert: June Is A Lovely Time For A Wedding


16. How to survive the next 500 days until Election Day


17. Court Says States Can’t Seek Voter Proof of Citizenship

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider letting states require evidence of citizenship when people register to vote for federal elections, rejecting an appeal from Arizona and Kansas.

The rebuff is a victory for the Obama administration and voting- and minority-rights groups that battled the two states in court. It leaves intact a decision by a U.S. agency that blocked the states from requiring proof of citizenship for voters in federal elections. 6/29/15 Read more at  http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-06-29/states-seeking-voter-citizenship-proof-denied-by-top-u-s-court


1. Paul Krugman: Hooray for Obamacare

Was I on the edge of my seat, waiting for the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare subsidies? No — I was pacing the room, too nervous to sit, worried that the court would use one sloppily worded sentence to deprive millions of health insurance, condemn tens of thousands to financial ruin, and send thousands to premature death.

It didn’t. And that means that the big distractions — the teething problems of the website, the objectively ludicrous but nonetheless menacing attempts at legal sabotage — are behind us, and we can focus on the reality of health reform. The Affordable Care Act is now in its second year of full operation; how’s it doing?

The answer is, better than even many supporters realize.

Obamacare has survived, it’s here, and it’s working. The great conservative nightmare has come true. And it’s a beautiful thing. 6/26/15 Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/26/opinion/paul-krugman-hooray-for-the-aca.html

2. Richard Cohen: The GOP’s View From Under the Sand

Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal is the personification of contemporary Republicanism. He’s opposed to same-sex marriage, abortion rights, the teaching of evolution in the schools and, of course, a reasonable fiscal program. His state is about $1.6 billion in the red, his popularity has plummeted, and in a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, he scored a zero as a presidential candidate. Perhaps he can carry Louisiana, where polls suggest most voters would like to see him somewhere else.

Not all Republicans are so doctrinaire in the application of the anti-government, anti-tax dogma. But the notion that government should be as small as possible and do as little as possible is generally accepted as undebatable. It persists even though America is in desperate need of repairing and/or replacing its sagging infrastructure. The country has third-world airports, highways and bridges as well as a groaning electrical grid that strains if too many people toast their English muffins at the same time.

The cost of revamping, repairing, restoring and just plain creating a 21st- century infrastructure is staggering — an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2020. But huge construction projects would put huge numbers of people to work and would, in the long run, result in savings. It costs money for a truck to sit idle in traffic. We do an awful lot of idling in this country.

Size can be a problem. Large government is inevitably inefficient, but so, too, is large private enterprise. (See the GM bankruptcy.) Much worse than the unavoidable inefficiencies of large government is the failure to fund the government we need. Private enterprise cannot rebuild the nation’s infrastructure or keep our research institutions vibrant. Government must do what only it can do. Only a semi-mystical Republicanism, deluded by its own dogma, cannot see the future. That’s why it may not have one. 6/30/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/06/30/the_gops_view_from_under_the_sand_127171.html

3. Jeffrey Toobin: Doom for a Cynical Assault on Obamacare

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act, starting with President Barack Obama, have generally taken the high road in response to Thursday’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the heart of the law. Graciousness in victory is, perhaps, its own reward. But it may also be appropriate, on the occasion of the 6–3 decision in King v. Burwell, to observe that this lawsuit was from its inception a shameful and cynical exercise, which illustrated the debasement of the contemporary conservative legal movement.

What principle was at stake in this lawsuit? The correct answer is none. This is a contrast to National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, which was the first challenge to the A.C.A. In that case, the plaintiffs argued that Congress lacked the constitutional authority to pass the law in the first place. The case made a respectable (if ultimately unsuccessful) argument for a narrow conception of the government’s ability to regulate health care under the Constitution. King v. Burwell did not implicate the Constitution at all. It was, rather, based on a claim that the Obama Administration violated the A.C.A. itself by offering subsidies to purchasers on the federal exchange. The case was, in other words, a sophisticated game of gotcha, based on what was, again, essentially a typographical error. The case was only about trying to destroy the law by denying insurance to millions and setting in motion a death spiral of raised premiums, cancelled policies, and more rate hikes until the system collapsed. (The sheer callousness of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in King was something to behold. Millions tossed off health insurance? Hey, deal with it.)

Obamacare remains controversial, and its future will be an important issue in the 2016 elections. That’s as it should be. If Republicans can win the Presidency and extend their control of Congress, they may well have the chance to undo the law, and they will have every right to do so. But today the Court said that the future of the law should be decided in that political process and not in response to litigation stunts like King v. Burwell. 6/25/15 Read more at  http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/doom-for-a-cynical-assault-on-obamacare

4. Brent Budowsky: Why Hillary scares the right

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Hillary Clinton defeating former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) by 8 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) by 10 percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) by 14 percent.

Even if this poll exaggerates Clinton’s advantage, when was the last poll showing any Republican defeating her by such huge margins? If there were such a poll, Republicans would be ecstatically celebrating the arrival of the new GOP messiah who would bring the next golden age of American conservatism.

Hillary hysteria is gripping the GOP. Every day, conservative media offers an angst-ridden deluge of attacks against the former secretary of State, with derision, anger and predictions of her coming demise.

As Shakespeare might put it, the GOP doth protest too much. Republicans and conservatives are terrified that there is only one candidate in either party who today demonstrates the potential to win the nomination and be elected by a landslide. That candidate is the Democrat who would be the first woman president.

There is a progressive wave growing in America. When she vows to lead a national fight to reverse widely opposed Supreme Court decisions that allow the wealthy to buy elections and undermine voting rights, Clinton is leading this wave. On other issues it is led by others such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Clinton and Democrats are riding the progressive wave on the right side of history. This terrifies Republicans and conservatives, as it should. 6/24/15 Read more at  http://thehill.com/opinion/brent-budowsky/246075-brent-budowsky-why-hillary-scares-the-right

5. Eugene Robinson: The Fall of the Confederacy

As a native South Carolinian, I was proud of Haley as she delivered her eloquent speech about the flag — an Indian-American female governor, flanked by all of the state’s leading officials including the first elected African-American U.S. senator from the South since Reconstruction, Tim Scott.

But standing behind Haley was Reince Priebus, the Republican Party’s national chairman, and I couldn’t help but think of all the GOP-led state legislatures around the country, including South Carolina’s, that have passed voter-ID and other laws meant to ensure that fewer African-Americans and other minorities are able to vote.

Even when the flag comes down, those laws will still be in place.

Black voters showed in 2012 that they can overcome restrictive new voting laws. They can do it again, including in state and local elections, where power over voting rights resides.

This historical city that marked the birth of the Confederacy can now mark the beginning of its end. But we have work to do. 6/26/15 Read more at  http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/06/26/the_fall_of_the_confederacy_127131.html

6. E.J. Dionne: The Right to be Free From Guns

Advocates of a saner approach to guns need a new strategy. We cannot go on like this, wringing our hands in frustration after every tragedy involving firearms. We said “Enough” after Sandy Hook. We thought the moment for action had come. Yet nothing happened. We are saying “Enough” after Charleston. But this time, we don’t even expect anything to happen.

What’s needed is a long-term national effort to change popular attitudes toward handgun ownership. And we need to insist on protecting the rights of Americans who do not want to be anywhere near guns.

“The best way to disarm the NRA rhetorically is to make the Second Amendment issue moot,” said Guy Molyneux, a progressive pollster. “This is not about the government saying you cannot own a handgun. This is about society saying you should not have a gun, especially in a home with children.”

“Those of us who want to live, shop, go to school and worship in gun-free spaces also have rights,” Molyneux says. “In what way is ‘freedom’ advanced by telling the owner of a bar or restaurant they cannot ban handguns in their own place of business, as many states now do? Today, it is the NRA that is the enemy of freedom, by seeking to impose its values on everyone else.”

The nation could ring out with the new slogans of liberty: “Not in my house.” “Not in our school.” “Not in my bar.” “Not in our church.” We’d be defending one of our most sacred rights: The right not to bear arms. 6/25/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/06/25/the_right_to_be_free_from_guns_127111.html

7. Sally Kohn: The GOP Gay Marriage Freakout

Marriage equality has won at the Supreme Court, but the fight over gay marriage is far from over. Now we enter the Republican temper tantrum phase.

Even before the Supreme Court’s ruling, several prominent Republicans had pledged to disobey any high court ruling in favor of marriage equality—and had called on their fellow Republican leaders to do the same.

For instance, Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have both signed a pledge that reads, “We will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.”

Huckabee also challenged the authority of our nation’s highest court when he said, “The Supreme Court can’t overrule God.”

Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Steve King also called for Congress and any future Republican president to flagrantly ignore such a Supreme Court ruling.

Let’s be clear: These are current and former officeholders, who have taken an oath to uphold the laws of our nation, literally pledging to violate those laws as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

In any reasonable political environment, this should be a disqualifier for elected office.. 6.26.15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/26/the-gop-gay-marriage-freakout.html

8. Laurence Tribe: Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision is a victory for all of us

THE SUPREME COURT has rebuffed yet another attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act.

The implications of this decision can be summed up in three words: The people won. The most obvious victory is in the decision’s implications for American health care. Had the dissenters prevailed, 8.2 million Americans would have been left uninsured, and many more would have been subject to large premium hikes. The ACA was a culmination of a decades-long effort to provide Americans with universal and affordable health care. And studies show that it is working in achieving those goals. By deciding for the challengers, the court would have gratuitously ripped a major hole in this social safety net.

Still, however total this victory may be, it is worth reflecting on how vigorously the ACA’s opponents have tried to destroy it, and how close they have repeatedly come. When the ACA was passed, no member of Congress in either party argued that it meant what the dissent now claims that it does; nevertheless, at least four justices voted to hear King quickly, and three would have sided with the challengers. Indeed, Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent went so far as to accuse the majority of having “no semblance of shame” in making arguments that amount to “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” Before we celebrate, we would do well to remember how close the law has come to judicial destruction. 6/25/15 Read more at http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/06/25/victory-for-people/65JTpdexIHdryI85OvU3yI/story.html#

9. Jay Michaelson: Supreme Court: If It’s Worth It for Corporations, Pollution May Be Okay

While LGBTs and health-care reformers are still nursing their celebratory hangovers, the final Supreme Court case of the 2014-15 term just junked 20 years of environmental regulations.

The case, Michigan v. EPA, specifically dealt with the EPA’s regulation of mercury emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act—a long, 20-year process that has been opposed by industry at every turn, even as mercury air pollution from coal-fired power plants has irreparably poisoned the Great Lakes .

Today, the clock has been set back. In its third 5-4 decision of the day, with Justice Kennedy again providing the swing vote, industry has prevailed. Writing for the court, Justice Scalia held that the EPA had to factor in costs in deciding whether to regulate, not just how to regulate.

This is as incoherent philosophically as it is practically. Think about it this way: Who owns the right to your health?

In Justice Scalia’s reasoning, now the law of the land, the toxic chemical emitters do. If it is economically efficient to poison you with mercury—if the costs to them outweigh the benefits to you, calculating an economic value of your health—then they get to do it.

Michigan v. US now stands for the principle that corporate interests are equal in kind to human interests. Whether the EPA should regulate mercury depends on whether it’s cost-effective to do so, treating the costs to industry and the benefits to health equally.

Because corporations are people, right? 6//29/15 Read more at  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/29/supreme-court-if-it-s-worth-it-for-corporations-pollution-may-be-okay.html

10. Robert Redford: Time to step up game on climate change

I believe climate change is the defining environmental issue of our time. It’s hurting our people — around the world — and it’s time to stand up and say we’ve had enough. Enough of rising seas and widening deserts that threaten our homes and our crops. Enough of withering drought and blistering heat that mean more malnutrition and disease. Enough of raging floods, wildfires and storms that threaten people everywhere with one disaster after another.

We’ve got a real chance in Paris to come together and do something about it. But getting it done, and doing it right, will require a powerful public outcry. It’s happening. It’s building.

We know what’s driving the problem, and we know what to do about it. When we burn coal, oil and natural gas, we choke our atmosphere with the dangerous carbon pollution that’s driven global temperatures up about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in a little more than a century.

That might not sound like much, but it’s already melted about third of the Arctic sea ice in recent decades. That’s a global change that has global impacts on temperatures, ocean currents and salinity levels. Meanwhile, this carbon pollution has raised the acidity levels of the world’s oceans, threatening shellfish and the coral reefs that support foundational life at sea.

Every day we don’t act, the crisis gets worse — and the cost of inaction goes up. 6/28/15 Read more at http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/28/opinions/redford-climate-change/index.html



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May 28 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #881


“I’d rather go to Iraq than work for Carly Fiorina again.” — Anonymous former Carly Fiorina staffer complaining that Ms. Fiorina who, although she has a worth an estimated $120 million, failed to pay her high-ranking staffers who worked on her failed 2010 bid for California Senate until a few months before she launching her presidential campaign.

“Republicans running in the 2016 campaign would rather threaten jobs than ‘stand up to the tea party and talk radio.'” — Hillary Rodham Clinton on Republicans in Congress and GOP presidential hopefuls who, by seeking to eliminate the Export-Import Bank, are threatening tens of thousands of small-business jobs. 5/22/15

“The Republican bet is that they can scare voters about ISIS and pin the blame on Obama, wiping out the memory of the role of the invasion of Iraq in destabilizing the region and creating the conditions for the formation and rise of ISIS. They probably can scare voters—but it’ll be tough to scare enough people to overcome opposition to more years of war and to Republican domestic policies.” — Laura Clawson in the Daily Kos 5/21/15


“Mr. McConnell promised that his party would instill more discipline, avoiding the last-minute legislative cliffhangers that have long marked Congress and left government workers and the capital markets in a state of constant unease. Instead, he allowed the Senate to depart with a key national security program dangling on the precipice of extinction. Senators also failed again to find a long-term solution for fixing the nation’s crumbling roads.”– NY Times 5/23/15

“I think many conservatives live in a bubble where they watch only Fox News on television, they listen only to conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, many of the same people. When they go on to the Internet, they look at only conservative websites like National Review, Newsmax, World Net Daily, and so they are completely in a universe in which they are hearing the same exact ideas, the same arguments, the same limited amount of data repeated over and over and over again, and that’s brainwashing.” — Conservative historian Bruce Bartlett explaining how conservatives are “brainwashing” themselves with Fox News and other right-wing media.

“These people are so greedy, they’re so out of touch with reality. They think they own the world…I’m sorry to have to tell them, they live in the United States, they benefit from the United States, we have kids who are hungry in this country. We have people who are working two, three, four jobs, who can’t send their kids to college. Sorry, you’re all going to have to pay your fair share of taxes.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), criticizing Wall Street executives. 5/26/15

Subsidies being available only to those using the state exchanges was “never part of our conversations at any point. Why would we have wanted to deny people subsidies? It was not their fault if their state did not set up an exchange.” — Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the latest lawmaker involved in the drafting of President Obama’s health care law to undermine the case against the ACA currently being considered by the Supreme Court. 5/26/15

“Everything I know about the Iranians I learned in the pool room. I ran the pool room when I was a kid and I met a lot of liars, and I know the Iranians are liars.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a video address to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. 5/26/15

“Let’s ask ourselves….Why did I see 75 planes spraying white stuff into the sky on my 15 minute drive to work? Who pays for this and why is it happening? Is something being exterminated here? Is that something me? Does this have anything to do with why Honey Bee’s are Dying off really fast. Why are some days normal with no planes spraying and others look like this? Whos is responcible? What effect will this have on our health and our childrens future? WHO THE F#*% THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? Am I the only one who sees this? [sic] — Kylie Jenner, the 17-year-old star of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, unknowingly stumbling into the chemtrail conspiracy theory, which dates back to 1996. 5/26/15

“The Holy Father is being misled by ‘experts’ at the United Nations who have proven unworthy of his trust. Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth—in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity.” — Koch-funded global climate change-deniers at the Heartland Institute:4/27/15

“Just a cool thing.” — Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Wisconsin’s requiring for mandatory ultrasounds for women hoping to get an abortion. 5/27/15


“ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most these arms were snatched up by ISIS.”— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in an interview on Morning Joe.


It has become impossible to imagine a President Paul defeating Radical Islam and it’s time for the rest of us to say it. — Gov. Bobby Jindal@BobbyJindal


“When the secretary of state answers a question concerning the murders of six Americans, including an American ambassador, by saying, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?’ I think that’s a pretty clear indication that it’s time for that person to go.” — Rand Paul taking Hillary Clinton out of context in a passage from his new book “Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America.” 5/27/15


“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. […]” — Hillary Clinton in response to repeated questions about why then-Ambassador Susan Rice characterized the attack as coming out of a protest, and accusations that the Obama administration was purposely misleading the public.


“Are we gonna light our hair on fire every time that there is a setback in the campaign against ISIL? Or are we gonna take very seriously our responsibility to evaluate those areas where we succeed and evaluate where steps are necessary for us to change our strategy where we’ve sustained setbacks?” — WH press secretary Josh Earnest 5/21/15


“Of course my most unfavorite is this idiot Earnest saying ‘Well, we’re not gonna set our hair on fire every time there’s a setback. Mr. Earnest may not, but bodies are on fire on the streets of Ramadi as we are speaking. This is an evil.”– Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” before almost immediately retracting it. 5/23/15


“This decision is an important victory for the rule of law and for every legal immigrant who is disrespected by the president’s unconstitutional amnesty.” —Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals appeals court decision that blocked President Barack Obama’s action to defer deportation. 5/27/15


“With Republicans doing this, it definitely demonstrates who is on our side and who isn’t, and who we should support and who we shouldn’t.” — Cesar Vargas, the co-director of the Dream Action Coalition, on the ruling which is felt deeply in the Hispanic community. 5/27/15

2. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Fox Attacks Obama For Calling Climate Change An Immediate National Security Threat http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/05/20/fox-attacks-obama-for-calling-climate-change-an/203722

Iraq War Architect Bill Kristol: Knowing What We Know Now, “We Were Right To Fight In Iraq” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/21/iraq-war-architect-bill-kristol-knowing-what-we/203725

Fox Host Blames ISIS Recruitment In America On Schools Embracing Multiculturalism http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/05/21/fox-host-blames-isis-recruitment-in-america-on/203729

O’Reilly Factor Misrepresents DACA To Claim Obama’s Executive Action Makes It Easier To Enter U.S. “Illegally” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/21/oreilly-factor-misrepresents-daca-to-claim-obam/203738

Climate Change Poses Huge Challenge To The Coast Guard, But Fox News Would Rather Dismiss It http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/21/climate-change-poses-huge-challenge-to-the-coas/203735

Former CIA Official Calls Out Fox News’ Latest “Benghazi Myth, criticizing Fox and the media at large for habitually scandalizing the Benghazi attacks based on incomplete or unsupported claims.”http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/26/former-cia-official-calls-out-fox-news-latest-b/203756

Limbaugh Instructs GOP To “Focus” On Benghazi In 2016 http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/05/26/limbaugh-instructs-gop-to-focus-on-benghazi-in/203758

Immigrants Are More Dangerous Than ISIS And 10 Other Horrible Anti-Immigrant Media Moments From Ann Coulter http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/05/27/immigrants-are-more-dangerous-than-isis-and-10/203769

Bill Kristol: Fox News “Colluding” With RNC To Limit GOP Presidential Debate Field http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/05/27/bill-kristol-fox-news-colluding-with-rnc-to-lim/203767

The Uncomfortable Truth About The Political Nature Of Fox News — It’s Not “Entertainment,” It’s The Engine Driving The GOP Agenda http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/05/27/the-uncomfortable-truth-about-the-political-nat/203768

Fox’s Napolitano Floats Impeachment After Court Continues Hold On Obama’s Executive Actions For Immigrants http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/05/26/foxs-napolitano-floats-impeachment-after-court/203762

3. Poll: Hillary Clinton vs Republican field

PPP’s newest Washington poll finds that Clinton leads the GOP hopefuls by anywhere from 10 to 15 points. Ben Carson and Marco Rubio come the closest, each trailing by 10 at 49/39. Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are each down by 11 at 48/37 and 49/38 respectively. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul face 12 point deficits at 50/38.  Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry lag by 13 points at 50/37. And Chris Christie does the worst of the Republican field with a 15 point deficit at 49/34.  Clinton doesn’t quite match the 15-17 point margins Obama won the state by, but exceeds the 5-7 point ones Gore and Kerry had. 5/21/15 Read more at http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2015/PPP_Release_WA_52115.pdf

4. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“President Obama broke a world record after he reached a million followers on Twitter in just five hours. The only guys not following Obama? His Secret Service agents. They lost track months ago.” –Jimmy Fallon

“A lot of people think I’m retiring, but I’ve been telling a fib. I’ve been forced to leave this job because I gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation. ” –David Letterman

“A new poll found that almost 70 percent of voters say that whoever our next president is, they must have political experience. You know, because it would be rude to say ‘anyone but Donald Trump.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“Former Texas Governor Rick Perry said yesterday that knowing what we know now, he would not have invaded Iraq. Mostly because ‘what we know now’ is that Rick Perry will never be president.” –Seth Meyers

“George W. Bush gave a commencement speech at Southern Methodist University this weekend. It was pretty inspirational. He said, ‘As I like to tell the ‘C’ students, you too can be president.’ Even George W. Bush has George W. Bush comedy material in his act.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Lindsey Graham is now the seventh Republican running for president. If you’re keeping score, that’s basically one Republican candidate for every two Republican voters.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama joined Twitter today with a tweet that began ‘Hello, Twitter!’ His bio says, ‘Dad, husband, and president of the United States.’ He didn’t have to say ‘Dad.’ We got that when he tweeted ‘Hello, Twitter!'” –Seth Meyers

“Jeb Bush said recently that he believes apps on the Apple Watch could help Americans better manage their healthcare than Obamacare. So there you go. If you can’t afford healthcare, just buy yourself an Apple Watch.” –Seth Meyers

“It’s Friday. That’s one reason to celebrate. Also, it’s the first day in a long time when no one declared they’re running for president.” –Jimmy Fallon

“During a recent event at a restaurant called Tommy’s Country Ham House in South Carolina, presidential candidate Ben Carson delivered a speech right after he lost his front tooth. Which still left him with more teeth than everyone combined at Tommy’s Country Ham House.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Former New York Governor George Pataki may enter the race for president. It’s not definite, but he tweeted that he’ll announce his 2016 plans on May 28 in New Hampshire. Well, what’s he gonna do, go to New Hampshire to say he’s NOT running? That’s like getting down on one knee and saying, ‘I think it’s time to see other people.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“By accident Jeb Bush announced that he was running for president. And then he said, ‘No, not yet. OK, I made a mistake.’ And then later in the day, by accident, he called Hillary and congratulated her. ” –David Letterman

“It turns out Hillary’s brother could damage her campaign. But then Jeb Bush said, ‘I think we all get a pass on who our brothers are.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“The White House encouraged Tom Brady to be more of a role model. They would’ve said more, but there was a drunken Secret Service agent streaking across the Rose Garden.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Senate Democrats blocked President Obama’s trade bill yesterday because they’re worried it could hurt jobs. It’s not an issue for Republicans, since they’ve all found work as presidential candidates.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Last night we had Bill Clinton, the former president. Security was as tight as Governor Christie’s yoga pants.” –David Letterman

“Kim Jong Un reportedly had his defense chief executed after he fell asleep during a meeting. Not only did they execute him, they shot him with an anti-aircraft gun. I’d like to see NBC hire Kim Jong Un to host ‘The Apprentice.’ His way of firing people is much more exciting than Donald Trump’s.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Things like that make me glad I live in America — where our political figures are free to fall asleep wherever they want.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Kim Jong Un — it’s really Catch-22 with him. If you close your eyes, you get shot for nodding off. If you open them, you get shot for laughing at his haircut.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“According to a new report, since he’s been governor, Chris Christie has spent $82,000 at a concession stand at MetLife Stadium. Now, I know it seems like the perfect story for a Chris Christie joke but I’m actually on a Chris Christie joke diet. So nothing for me, thanks.” –Jimmy Fallon

“If you’re going to do a Chris Christie joke, just say, ‘Christie spent $82,000 at a concession stand at MetLife Stadium. Then he turned to his friends and said, ‘You guys want anything?” That’s a joke. I can’t believe it. I caved in. I feel awful.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in nearly seven years. The job sector that has seen the most growth is in the field of Republican presidential candidates.” –Conan O’Brien

“Former President Bill Clinton is on the program tonight. He says that while his wife runs for president, he would like to stay out of the limelight. Well, he’s certainly come to the right place. He’ll be fine here.” –David Letterman

“A new poll finds that the majority of GOP voters say they can’t see themselves supporting Chris Christie. The trick is to lift with your legs, not your back.” –Seth Meyers

5. Fox, CNN Set Criteria for First GOP Debates

The big debate about the Republican presidential debates is over – at least for the first two rounds.

Facing the unprecedented dilemma of having more candidates (19, plus or minus) than a single stage can reasonably bear, Fox News and CNN, the networks hosting the first two debates, came up with two different approaches.

Fox will accept the top 10 contenders, based on their poll numbers, for the first debate in Cleveland Aug. 6. Entrants must have formally registered for a presidential campaign with the Federal Election Commission and have paid all necessary federal and state filing fees.

CNN announced a two-tier system for its Sept. 16 debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. The top 10 candidates will debate in one group, and the remaining candidates will face off in another. Each candidate must poll at 1 percent or higher. CNN requires debate participants to have at least one paid campaign staffer in two of the early voting states and have visited two of those states at least once.

The Aug. 6 debate will take place at the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. Fox News anchors Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace will moderate.  Caitlin Huey-Burns – 5/20/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/05/20/fox_cnn_set_criteria_for_gop_debates.html


6.The GOP’s war on the poor (cont.)

The Kansas legislature has placed a daily cap of $25 on cash withdrawals beginning July 1, which will force beneficiaries to make more frequent trips to the ATM to withdraw money from the debit cards used to pay public assistance benefits.

Since there’s a fee for every withdrawal, the limit means that some families will get substantially less money.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of this action. Many households without enough money to maintain a minimum balance in a conventional checking account will pay their rent and their utility bills in cash. A single mother with two children seeking to withdraw just $200 in cash could incur $30 or more in fees, which is a big chunk of the roughly $400 such a family would receive under the program in Kansas. 5/21/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/21/kansas-has-found-the-ultimate-way-to-punish-the-poor/


7. New York Times does its best to be a ‘real opponent’ to Hillary Clinton

New York Times reporters really aren’t bothering to hide their loathing of Hillary Clinton anymore, to the point where the next logical step is for the newspaper to adopt the mottoes “fair and balanced” or “we report, you decide.” Here’s how one Times reporter tweeted his latest article:

In Iowa, Queen Hillary and the Everyday Americans of the Round Table distribute alms to the clamoring press. http://t.co/... — @jasondhorowitz

Laura Clawson in the Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/05/22/1386859/-New-York-Times-does-its-best-to-be-a-real-opponent-to-Hillary-Clinton

8. Mark Fiore Cartoon: Jeb Bush and Brotherly Love


9. The Borowitz Report: Louisiana Breaks Off Trade Relations with Ireland

In the aftermath of Irish voters legalizing gay marriage, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has used his emergency powers to ban all Irish products from the state.

Jindal explained that breaking off trade with Ireland was necessary to protect the sanctity of marriage in Louisiana.

“Every time someone takes a sip of Guinness, a part of straight marriage dies,” he said. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/louisiana-breaks-off-trade-relations-with-ireland

10. Pope’s pronouncements making trouble for GOP Catholics

Catholic Republicans are developing a pope problem. Earlier this month, Francis recognized Palestinian statehood. This summer, he’s going to issue an encyclical condemning environmental degradation. And in September, just as the GOP primary race heats up, Francis will travel to Washington to address Congress on climate change.”

“Francis may be popular with the general public, but key Republican primary constituencies — hawks, climate-change skeptics and religious conservatives, including some Catholics, are wary of the pope’s progressivism. 5/26/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/popes-pronouncements-making-trouble-for-gop-catholics-118234.html#ixzz3bFFHvNk4

11. Suspicion of US government reaches a new level in Texas

How did America become so divided, the state of the union so fractured, that the secretary of defense is forced to deny the Army is planning the hostile takeover of a state?

The conflict about the Jade Helm exercise illustrates some of the most confounding political divisions in the country. It reveals how an increased willingness to believe in sinister plots, fomented by people once dismissed as occupying the political fringe, has seeped into the political mainstream of the nation’s second-largest state. 5/25/15 Read more at http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2015/05/25/divided-america-theories-military-takeover-texas-find-legitimacy-political-mainstream/KSScgClOewjIXXisqkF5IM/story.html


12. Republicans’ 2016 math problem

“The 2016 electorate, demographically speaking, will be worse for Republicans than 2012. And unless Republicans can begin winning more of the nonwhite vote, the 2020 election will be worse for the party than the 2016 election. And 2024 will be worse than, well, you get the idea.” 5/26/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/05/26/the-hard-demographic-truth-facing-republicans-in-2016-in-2-charts/

13. It’s becoming cooler to call yourself ‘liberal’

For the first time since Gallup began tracking it in 1999, there are now as many Americans who describe their views on social issues as “liberal” as there are who describe them as “conservative.” 

“It’s been a long and slow crawl, but Americans have steadily become more liberal on social issues without much interruption — except for a brief dip when President Obama first took office in 2009. Today, it’s tied at 31 percent. Back in 1999, it was about two-to-one conservative over liberal.” 5/26/15 Read more at  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/05/26/its-becoming-cooler-to-call-yourself-liberal-and-it-has-a-lot-to-do-with-gay-marriage-and-marijuana/


1. Paul Waldman: Fox News is taking control of the Republican primary

Liberals often say that Fox News is the house organ of the Republican Party, but in the 2016 election, the network is becoming something more: a kind of stern boss, setting the agenda, plotting the group’s course, and weeding out the weak performers. As powerful as the network has been within the conservative movement, the 2016 election has given it the opportunity to increase its influence even further

Fox News chief Roger Ailes’ genius has always been in his ability to balance Fox’s twin goals: making money and serving the interests of the Republican Party. But at a time like this, the latter goal becomes more complicated to achieve than when Republicans are just fighting with Democrats. And some Republicans who just a few months ago could expect nothing but hugs and applause from the network now aren’t getting such friendly treatment.

Once there’s a GOP nominee, he’ll be praised and defended on Fox News like he was the second coming. But until then, Fox is going to work to find the strongest candidate and get rid of the rest. Because if they don’t do it, nobody else can. 5/22/15 Read more at http://theweek.com/articles/556439/fox-news-taking-control-republican-primary


2. Alan Rappeport: Republicans Continue to Lurch Right on Immigration

Staring at startling exit polls after a beating by President Obama in 2012, Republicans vowed they were finally ready to do something about immigration reform or risk further alienating Hispanic voters.

But two-and-a-half years later they have seem to have decided to lurch to the right on the issue.

In interviews on Fox News this week, three Republican White House hopefuls did their best to assure potential primary voters that “amnesty” would not happen on their watch.

On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey told Megyn Kelly that a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants was an “extreme way to go” and explained why he has changed his view on the issue.

“I think I have learned over time about this issue and done a lot more work on it,” Mr. Christie said. “I think everyone has to do what you need to do to be able to get educated on these issues and learn.”

Bowing to political realities, Mr. Rubio, who says he still wants to change the immigration system, is now among those who say the focus should be on border security.

“If we want to move forward on immigration, the first thing we’re going to have to do is prove to the American people that future illegal immigration is under control,” he said. 5/20/15 Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/05/20/republicans-continue-to-lurch-right-on-immigration/?_r=0


3. Paul Waldman: Hillary Clinton has fewer problems with the Democratic base than you might think

If you’re part of the DC establishment, you know that liberals’ feelings about Hillary Clinton are nothing if not complicated.

Your average professional liberal here in the nation’s capital, whether it’s a think-tank wonk, a Capitol Hill staffer, an interest group activist, or a writer like me, has always had and will always have mixed feelings about Clinton. We acknowledge her talent, her smarts, and her tenacity. We recognize how historic it would be if she became president. And sooner or later we find ourselves defending her, if for no reason other than the craziness of her enemies.

If you look at what the polls are telling us so far, Democrats seem quite happy to have Clinton as their presidential nominee. In the latest Pew poll, 77 percent of Democrats see her favorably, and she has strong approval across ages, incomes, and races. (African-Americans, the most important Democratic sub-group, rate her particularly highly, at 87 percent favorable.)

Approval may be a pretty low bar, but we need to understand that there are lots and lots of Democrats who think Hillary Clinton is the bee’s knees. Many of them are women, and for them the possibility of America’s first woman president is likely to become more and more exciting as election day approaches.

Just like any candidate, Clinton has plenty of problems she’ll have to overcome if she’s going to win the White House. But uniting the Democratic base behind her may be less of an issue than many of us suspect. Read more at http://theweek.com/articles/556175/hillary-clinton-fewer-problems-democratic-base-than-might-think

4. Olivia Nuzzi: Dear Chris Christie: Sorry We Did Our Job

On CNBC Thursday morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made a simple request: that the media apologize for its unjust treatment of him during Bridgegate.

“I do believe there’s an absolute bias and rush to judgement,” he said. “You all know this. You saw the coverage of me 15 months ago. I was guilty, I had done it. Now we’re 15 months later. Where are the apologies pouring in? Not one thing I said the day after the bridge situation has been proven wrong. Fifteen months later everything that I said the day after that story broke—everything I said—has proven out to be true after three different investigations.”

Christie has, as is his nature, graciously handed all of us an opportunity, and I intend to make the most of it.

I would like to apologize.

I would like to apologize to Christie, first, on behalf of everyone who noticed that access lanes to the George Washington Bridge had been inexplicably shut down and wondered why it happened, and how it could have happened without the state’s top lawmaker being—at the very least—aware of it.

And I would like to apologize to Christie on behalf of the children who were late to their first day of school because of the profound traffic jams those lane closures caused, and on behalf of the emergency workers who—instead of sitting in the traffic—were forced to respond to calls on foot.

I’m sorry that Christie’s initial response to this bizarre occurrence in the northern part of his state was indifference, and his response to reporters asking questions total contempt.

I’m sorry that in December 2013, two months after the lane closures, Christie told the press, “I know you guys are obsessed with this. I’m not. I’m really not. It’s not that big of a deal.” I’m sorry that Christie mocked WNYC reporter Matt Katz for asking if the lane closures were an act of political retribution by saying, “I worked the cones, actually. Unbeknownst to everybody I was actually the guy out there, in overalls and a hat. You cannot be serious with that question, Matt!”

I’m sorry the theory that the lane closures were orchestrated to exact revenge turned out to be true.

I apologize that as Christie attempted to go about the business of running for president while largely neglecting the state of which he is ostensibly in charge,

I apologize on behalf of everyone in the media who did their job, despite Christie’s belittling, bullying tactics. That was wrong, and we all should have been covering the Clinton email story, instead—the one that wouldn’t break for another year and a half. 5/21/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/21/dear-chris-christie-sorry-i-did-my-job.html


5. Shikha Dalmia: Hillary Clinton has already crushed Republicans on immigration

You can question Hillary Clinton’s political scruples. But don’t doubt her political smarts.

There is no better proof of either quality than her U-turn decision last week to go all out in embracing amnesty for undocumented immigrants. Clinton’s gambit is a major flip-flop — one that will put Republicans in a bind that they’ll have a hard time extricating themselves from. It’s heads she wins and tails they lose, regardless of what they do.

Clinton stunned everyone — even Latino activists — when she boldly called for a “path to full and equal citizenship” for all of the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. Speaking at a gathering of handpicked young immigrants in a high school in Nevada, a Latino-heavy swing state, she rejected the notion of a mere path to legalization — like the sort Jeb Bush and some of the more immigrant-friendly Republicans have skittishly backed. “That’s code for second-class status,” Clinton declared. She promised to go much further than even President Obama’s recent executive action and “defer” deportation proceedings not only against some illegal immigrants, but virtually all of them, while working toward comprehensive immigration reform that included citizenship.

This was a remarkable shift for someone who has not only maintained a studious silence for months about Obama’s executive action, but also previously opposed drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. Indeed, her flip is so dramatic that instead of raising questions about her credibility, it has changed the conversation so much that we’re immediately asking what Republicans need to do to catch up.

Regardless of where one stands on the merits of the issue, the political reality is this: Republicans’ harsh anti-immigration rhetoric has left them no good options. They have created their own vulnerability. And Hillary Clinton has just zeroed in on it. Read more at http://theweek.com/articles/556421/hillary-clinton-already-crushed-republicans-immigration

6. Tim Mak: Sorry, GOP. There’s No Smoking Gun In Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi Emails

If Republicans were looking for a silver bullet to use against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the State Department’s Friday document dump about Benghazi wasn’t it.

There’s no illicit weapons Libyan program to be found in the emails, as some have speculated. No “stand-down” order. Just a hectic flow of information to and from Hillary Clinton—about danger, about death, and ultimately, about condolences. 5/22/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/22/sorry-gop-there-s-no-smoking-gun-in-hillary-clinton-s-benghazi-emails.html


7. Peter Beinart: Hillary Clinton’s Surprisingly Effective Campaign

Hillary Clinton has been an official candidate for president for five weeks, and she still hasn’t done the thing most candidates do on day one: given a speech laying out her vision for America. Nor is she planning on doing so anytime soon. Politico reports that Hillary’s “why I’m running for president,” speech, initially scheduled for May, has now been delayed until June, or even later.

There’s a reason for that: The speech is unlikely to be very good. Soaring rhetoric and grand themes have never been Hillary’s strengths. That’s one reason so many liberals found her so much less inspirational than Barack Obama in 2008. And it’s a problem with deep roots. In his biography, A Woman in Charge, Carl Bernstein describes Hillary, then in law school, struggling to articulate her generation’s perspective in an address to the League of Women Voters. “If she was speaking about a clearly defined subject,” Bernstein writes, “her thoughts would be well organized, finely articulated, and delivered in almost perfect outline form. But before the League audience, she again and again lapsed into sweeping abstractions.”

Team Clinton appears to understand this. And so it has done something shrewd. Instead of talking vision, Hillary is talking policy, which she does really well.

Sooner or later, Hillary will have to move from policy to philosophy. It may be a rocky transition. And if the Republicans nominate Marco Rubio (which at this point looks like a decent bet), she will face a candidate who interweaves personal biography and national aspiration better than she does. But if Hillary stumbles, these opening weeks of her campaign may offer a template for how she regains her footing. She’s at her best talking about America not abstractly, but concretely. She’s most inspiring when talking not about what she believes, but about what she wants to do. And she most effectively humanizes herself by being true to who she is: knowledgeable, passionate, and vaguely obsessive about making government work. Against Rubio, or any other likely Republican challenger, that identity should provide an excellent contrast. 5/22/15 Read more at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/05/hillary-clintons-2016-campaign/393872/

8. E.J. Dionne: The Right’s Political Correctness

The shortage of philosophical adventure and the eagerness of GOP hopefuls to alter their positions to make them more conservative have the same cause: a Republican primary electorate that has moved so far right that it brooks no deviationism. What makes it even harder for the candidates to break new ground is that the imperatives of orthodoxy are constraining even the thinkers who are trying to create a new “reform conservatism.”

The fall-in-line-or-fall-in-the-polls rule means that Walker has gone from supporting to opposing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as has Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J. Rubio got much praise for his work in negotiating a bipartisan bill that would have allowed the undocumented to become citizens — and then, faced with hostility from tea partyers, he turned against it.

Paul, the most daring of the lot because of his libertarian convictions, deserves kudos for being true to his small-state ideology by standing up — literally, for nearly 11 hours on the Senate floor — against the Patriot Act. But even Paul has recast his foreign policy positions to make them sound more hawkish and thus more in keeping with prevailing Republican views.

Accommodating right-wing primary voters poses real risks to the party in next year’s elections. Its candidates’ messages on immigration and gay marriage, could hurt the GOP with, respectively, Latinos and the young.

But the greater loss is that none of the leading Republicans is willing to offer a more fundamental challenge to the party’s rightward lurch over the past decade. L. Brent Bozell III, a prominent activist on the right, could thus legitimately claim to The Washington Post: “The conservative agenda is what is winning the field.” 5/25/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/05/25/the_rights_political_correctness_126700.html

9. Jonathan Chait: The Endurance of Bushism

When GW Bush’s economic program turned the projected surplus into persistent deficits, conservatives did not concede they had failed. Instead they blamed Bush for allowing spending to get out of control. Of course the tax cuts had been sold as a way to prevent this very outcome. Conservatives simply shifted from claiming tax cuts wouldn’t lead to deficits because they would prevent excessive spending to claiming tax cuts hadn’t caused the deficit because the true culprit was excessive spending.

Not only did the new conservative attempt to shift blame from tax hikes onto spending undermine the original rationale, it presented a wildly distorted account of what actually caused the deficit. It was not “big spenders” defying the right who produced deficits. It was that Congress enacted the very policies conservatives were demanding: tax cuts plus more spending on defense. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities broke down the legislative causes of higher deficits under Bush, and virtually all of it was the result of policies conservatives had demanded:

Indeed, Bush himself repeatedly used this line during his own presidency. He attacked Congress for “acting like a teenager with a new credit card” and vetoed bills to increase domestic spending. When Jeb Bush and other Republicans blame George W. Bush’s indulgence toward Congress for Bush-era deficits, they’re not actually indicting his administration. They’re making the same argument Bush himself used.

Indeed, the striking fact about the Republican Party is how little it has questioned Bush’s economic program. The central tenets of Bush-era economic doctrine remain as firmly entrenched as ever. All the Republican economic proposals combine deep tax cuts, higher defense spending, and a general refusal to accept that revenues must bear some long-term relationship to likely outlays.

The party’s disposition toward Bush’s Iraq War has attracted deep (and warranted) scrutiny. Its disposition toward Bush’s economic policies has not. Despite their bellicose rhetoric, none of the Republican candidates are actually proposing to recapitulate his regime-change policy, in Iraq or elsewhere. It is in domestic policy where Bush-era dogma remains completely unreconstructed. 5/25/15 Read more at


10. Paul Waldman: The Koch brothers try to rein in the GOP presidential clown show

Up until now, the Koch brothers hadn’t indicated that they’d be taking a side in the primaries. It almost seemed that they viewed that as the kind of thing amateurs like Sheldon Adelson do, throwing money at some candidate based on overly irrational personal feelings, while they keep focused on the real goal of getting a Republican — any Republican — into the White House. By saying they’re going to support several candidates in the primaries, the Kochs are pledging to accelerate the winnowing process, by which the race’s chaff can be sloughed off and the focus can stay on the serious contenders.

Don’t be fooled by the line about them supporting all the ones whose policies they’re happy with. That’s because there’s almost no disagreement among the candidates, at least on the issues the Kochs care about. All of them would like to see low taxes on the wealthy (most have even advocated a flat tax, a boon to people like the Kochs), a dramatic reduction in regulations that affect corporations and a rollback of the social safety net. Where the Kochs personally disagree with the candidates (as they may on some social issues or on immigration), they disagree with all the candidates, because the candidates’ positions are so similar.

So mark my words: If the Kochs pick out a few candidates to support, it will be the ones they think would be the strongest in a general election and those they think put the best face on the GOP.

If the Kochs are ready to put some of their ample resources into the primary campaign, it’s a sign that the enormous size of the primary field is generating some serious concern at the top of the GOP. The question is whether, even with their money, there’s much they can do about it. 5/25/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/05/25/the-koch-brothers-try-to-rein-in-the-gop-presidential-clown-show/?hpid=z5



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Apr 30 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #877


“A book that has not yet been published has caused the New York Times to publish a wildly speculative, innuendo-laced article about the Clinton Foundation and my role in contributing money to it. There is not one shred of evidence to back up the Times‘ conclusions. This is not about me, but rather an attempt to tear down Secretary Clinton and her presidential campaign. If this is what passes for investigative journalism in the United States, it is very sad.” — Frank Giustra, the Canadian businessman who the Times noted also donated to the Clinton Foundation and who owned the predecessor to Uranium One, selling his personal stake in the company in 2007 before its sale to the Russians . 4/23/15

“We’ve spent the past six years trying to rescue the economy, retool the auto industry, and revitalize American manufacturing. And if there were ever an agreement that undercut that progress, or hurt those workers, I wouldn’t sign it. My entire presidency is about helping working families recover from recession and rebuild for the future. As long as I’m President, that’s what I’ll keep fighting to do.” — President Barack Obama in his weekly address. 4/25/15 VIDEOTEXT

“More astronauts have been to the moon than farmers who paid the inheritance tax in 2013.” — Bill Maher poking a hole in the Republican argument that the estate tax threatens the livelihoods of “family farmers.” 4/23/15

“[W]hen you take a closer look at Mr. Schweizer’s organization and who is backing him, it is a who’s who of big right-wing funders, including one of the guys behind the right-wing media site Breitbart.com, for which Mr. Schweizer has previously written — also the billionaire family that is currently bankrolling Ted Cruz’s presidential run.” — Rachel Maddow on the author of ‘Clinton Cash.’ 4/20/15

“At the end of the day, his record, in my view, shows a foreign policy vision one step behind leading from behind. And all I can say is that if he’s the nominee, I will support him. But if he’s the nominee of the party, we risk giving up the central issue of the 2016 campaign which will be foreign policy.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), taking offense at Sen. Rand Paul’s comparison of him as one of President Obama’s lap dogs. 4/22/15

“The Republicans’ multi-year search for evidence to back up their Benghazi conspiracy theories has turned up nothing. The Select Committee has identified no evidence — documentary, testimonial, or otherwise — to support claims that Secretary Clinton ordered a stand-down, approved an illicit weapons program, or any other wild allegation Republicans have made for years.” — Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the panel, accusing Gowdy of intentionally dragging out the proceedings to harm Clinton. 4/23/15

“Hillary Clinton has already spent five hours testifying at two congressional committee hearings but, as she’s been saying since last year, she’s happy to do it again. Unfortunately, Republicans insist her testimony is done behind closed doors, where the American public is unable to see their true, politically motivated intentions.” — Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, on the request by Benghazi Committee Chairman Gowdy (R-SC). 4/23/15


“Causes considered “pro-Israel”—and make no mistake that killing an Iran deal is, in Washington, a pro-Israel cause—are increasingly being conflated with doctrinaire neoconservatism and taken up solely by Republicans. This is the battle neocons are winning—but being the ideologues that they are, Kristol and his comrades will be satisfied with nothing short of total victory in the war. Which, in the case of Iran, would be launching an actual one.”– Ali Gharib in “The Nation” 4/24/15

“By finally admitting that he omitted key details and has no direct evidence, the author of ‘Clinton Cash’ just confirmed what many media reports had already made clear. ‘Clinton Cash’ is nothing more than a tangled web of conspiracy theories backed by no actual evidence.” — Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin. 4/26/15

Jeb Bush “told about 350 of the top donors to his super PAC on Sunday evening that the organization has raised more money in its first 100 days than any other Republican operation in modern history.” — Washington Post 4/26/15

“Today’s Democratic Party has decided there is no room for Christians. There is a liberal fascism that is going after Christian believers.” — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), 4/25/15

“I believe that I take over on Day One as president prepared to lead this country in the most crucial obligation the president faces, as commander in chief … Governors can certainly read about foreign policy, and take briefings and meet with experts, but there is no way they’ll be ready on Day One to manage U.S. foreign policy.” —Marco Rubio 4/25/15

“I will build the best wall, the biggest, the strongest, not penetrable, they won’t be crawling over it, like giving it a little jump and they’re over the wall, it costs us trillions. And I’ll have Mexico pay for the wall. Because Mexico is screwing us so badly. I will take it from out of just a small fraction of the money they’ve been screwing us for over the last number of years.” — Real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump 4/27/15

“I will disclose my records. I will disclose everything. And I tell you what: People will be very, very, impressed.” — Donald Trump 4/27/15

“What we have seen in Baltimore should, and I think does, tear at our soul. The patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable. … We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America.” — Hillary Clinton, 4/29/15

1. The Borowitz Report: G.O.P. Chairman Warns Against Hatred for Hillary Peaking Too Soon

In an urgent memo to the field of G.O.P. Presidential candidates, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, praised them for their relentless personal attacks on Hillary Clinton, but warned that their hatred for the former Secretary of State might be “peaking too early.”

Priebus called the candidates’ ongoing evisceration of Clinton “magnificent,” but expressed his concern that “no human beings, even an impressive group like yourselves, could possibly sustain such a high intensity of throbbing hatred for an entire year and a half.”

“Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint,” he wrote. “You need to leave some hate in the tank.” Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. ‘Clinton Cash’ & NYT Fail to Prove Any Connection Between Hillary Clinton & Russian Purchase of Uranium Assets

Relying largely on research from the conservative author of Clinton Cash, today’s New York Times alleges that donations to the Clinton Foundation coincided with the U.S. government’s 2010 approval of the sale of a company known as Uranium One to the Russian government. Without presenting any direct evidence in support of the claim, the Times story — like the book on which it is based — wrongly suggests that Hillary Clinton’s State Department pushed for the sale’s approval to reward donors who had a financial interest in the deal. Ironically, buried within the story is original reporting that debunks the allegation that then-Secretary Clinton played any role in the review of the sale.

The essential fact is that Hillary Clinton was not involved in the State Department’s review of the sale to the Russians. While it is true that the State Department sits on the multi-agency, inter-governmental panel that reviews deals like this one, Hillary Clinton herself did not participate in the review or direct the Department to take any position on the sale of Uranium One.

Mr. Giustra, the main Clinton Foundation donor that the Times suggests stood to gain from the sale of Uranium One to the Russians had liquidated his stake in Uranium One entirely back in 2007 and thus had no reason to have sought any favor from Clinton’s State Department. 4/23/15 Read more at https://medium.com/@brianefallon/clinton-cash-nyt-fail-to-prove-connection-between-clinton-russian-purchase-of-uranium-assets-797a71cb40b0


3. Swiftboat 2016: Why Buy The Ad When You Can Get The Press For Free?

Today’s news is full of speculation about what the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) has dredged up on Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and donors from foreign countries who gave to different initiatives promoted by the Clinton Foundation. As it turns out IRS reports give a pretty clear look at who’s footing the bill for all of this “government accountability.”

The three largest donors to the GAI are Donors’ Trust, the Koch-founded and operated political slush fund through which donations are laundered and sent to various organizations connected with them, Franklin Center, and the Mercer Family Foundation in New York.

The Mercer Family Foundation is a private foundation established by right-wing hedge fund mogul Robert Mercer. The trustee of the foundation is Rebekah Mercer, who also happens to sit on on the GAI board, alongside Citizens United board member Ron Robinson, former Wall Streeter Hunter Lewis, and Heritage Foundation Fellow Owen T. Smith.

There have been many reports about the reclusive Robert Mercer, because he has been identified as one of the big Ted Cruz funders for the 2016 primaries. According to Mother Jones, “Mercer has a history of spending big to topple House members who support restrictions on the finance industry.” 4/20/15 Read more at http://crooksandliars.com/2015/04/swiftboat-2016-why-buy-ad-when-you-can-get


“Well, here is what’s important to keep in mind. It was one of nine agencies, but any one of those agencies had veto power, so she could have stopped the deal.” — Peter Schweizer, claiming that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had the power to unilaterally veto the Uranium One deal. 4/26/15]


“Only The President May “Decide Whether A Transaction Should Be Suspended Or Prohibited.”  — According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the only person with the power to make a final decision on a proposal requiring CFIUS oversight is the president — not members of the CFIUS.. 4/27/15


Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) “Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015” strips federal courts of jurisdiction to hear cases related to marriage.  The effect of the bill would prevent federal courts from hearing marriage cases, leaving the issue to the States where it properly belongs. […]


“Mr. King has perverted the Constitution to create rights to things such as discrimination, bullying, and disparate treatment. These efforts to enshrine these appalling values as constitutional rights were not envisioned by the voters, or by King’s colleagues who must currently try to restrain his attempts to single-handedly rewrite the nation’s founding principles on a bill-by-bill basis.” — Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), whose tongue in cheek “Restrain Steve King from Legislating Act,” would block King from introducing legislation related to judicial authority. 4/25/15


“Schweizer is working on a similar investigation of Jeb Bush’s finances that he expects to publish this summer.” — Bloomberg Politics, suggesting that this book will quiet the left-wing clamor that Schweizer is simply out to get Hillary Clinton: 4/23/15


“HarperCollins, the publisher of Clinton Cash, denies that any such book is in the works.” — Media Matters 4/24//15


“When a guy shows up at a Las Vegas emergency room on New Year’s Day with severe facial injuries and broken ribs and gives as an explanation the functional equivalent of ‘I walked into a doorknob,’ it isn’t hard to guess that he ran afoul of mobsters.” — John Hinderaker, a proprietor of the conservative blog PowerLine on Harry Reid’s exercise equipment accident. 3/30/15


“It was just so outrageous . The fact that someone can say something completely false that can destroy somebody’s life, it’s just wrong. Where’s the moral compass?” — Larry Pfeifer who pitched a fake story about the Reid brothers’ supposed fight to Hinderaker, to test whether the blogger would publish it as well. Hinderaker did and the rumor was subsequently spread by others in conservative media. 4/27/15


“In his book’s chapter on Haiti, dubbed ‘Disaster Capitalism Clinton-Style,’ Schweizer writes that O’Brien, whose company Digicel was attempting to secure a contract for mobile phone service in Haiti, paid Clinton $600,000 for speeches in Ireland on Sept. 29, 2010, Oct. 8, 2011, and Oct. 9, 2013.” — John Stanton in BuzzFeed 4/28/15


“The book’s reporting is false. President Clinton did not personally receive speaking fees for any of these three speaking engagements in Ireland.” — Clinton spokesperson Matt McKenna 4/28/15

5. Secret Koch memo outlines plans for 2016

“The Koch brothers’ political machine is expanding into new states and recruiting new donors as it seeks to shape the Republican Party — and its presidential field — headed into 2016,” according to confidential donor briefing documents.

“The documents detail plans to beef up the network’s state-of-the-art data system, and pay hundreds of staff embedded in local communities across the country in preparation for get-out-the-vote efforts that are unprecedented from a third-party group.” 4/22/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/koch-brothers-2016-election-memo-117238.html#ixzz3Y46MBq6j


6. The GOP’s war against consumer protection (cont.)

The House passed bill would set new limits on, and effectively cut, the amount of money the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can spend.

The bill was approved by a vote of 250-173. Just nine Democrats voted in favor of the measure, and no Republicans voted against it. 2/04/15 Read more at http://thehill.com/policy/finance/231783-house-bill-would-cap-cfpb-budget

7. Senate GOP Leaders Endorse Bill To Extend Obamacare Subsidies To 2017

The Senate’s top five Republican leaders have cosponsored legislation to extend until 2017 the Obamacare insurance subsidies that may be struck down by the Supreme Court this summer.

The legislation would seek to protect the GOP from political peril in the 2016 elections when Democrats would blame the party for stripping subsidies — and maybe insurance coverage — from millions of Americans in three dozen states. A defeat for the Obama administration in a King ruling would likely create havoc across insurance markets and pose a huge problem for Republicans, many of whom have been pushing the Supreme Court to nix the subsidies. 4/23/15 Read more at http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/senate-republicans-obamacare-subsidies-ron-johnson

8. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Conservative Media Float Conspiracy That Obama Made Statement On Drone Strike To Distract From Clinton Cash http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/23/conservative-media-float-conspiracy-that-obama/203394

Schweizer’s Anti-Clinton Claims Start Falling Apart http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/04/23/schweizers-anti-clinton-claims-start-falling-ap/203396

Who Funds Peter Schweizer’s Government Accountability Institute? http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/21/who-funds-peter-schweizers-government-accountab/203355

ABC News Finds More Errors In Schweizer’s Clinton Cash http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/23/abc-news-finds-more-errors-in-schweizers-clinto/203390

Limbaugh: Baltimore Has Been Left Unprotected Like Clinton Left Amb. Stevens Unprotected In Benghazi http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/27/limbaugh-baltimore-has-been-left-unprotected-li/203431

Fox Wonders If Muslim Faith Would Keep Military Veteran From Saluting The Flag http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/27/fox-wonders-if-muslim-faith-would-keep-military/203427

Fox Personalities Blame Obama For Baltimore Violence http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/27/fox-personalities-blame-obama-for-baltimore-vio/203442

Limbaugh: “Ultimate Goal” Of Same-Sex Marriage Activists Is To Close Churches http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/29/limbaugh-ultimate-goal-of-same-sex-marriage-act/203470

NRA Uses Baltimore Riots To Promote “Stand Your Ground” Laws http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/29/national-rifle-association-uses-baltimore-riots/203468

Laura Ingraham Likens Same-Sex Marriage Rights To State-Validated Incest, Polygamy http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/29/laura-ingraham-likens-same-sex-marriage-rights/203465

Former Ambassador: Clinton Cash Author Peter Schweizer Took My Comments “Badly Out Of Context” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/29/former-ambassador-clinton-cash-author-peter-sch/203461

9. 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

President Obama’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=21&v=NM6d06ALBVA

Cecily Strong’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH5XAeKdrjM

10. Voters Back Iran Deal By Wide Margin

American voters support 58 – 33 percent the preliminary agreement with Iran to restrict that country’s nuclear program, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today.

Supporting the agreement are Democrats 76 – 15 percent and independent voters 60 – 33 percent, with Republicans opposed 56 – 37 percent. 4/26/15 Read more at


11. Jon Stewart: Baltimore on Fire


12. President Obama & Bill Nye Talk Earth Day in the Everglades


13. Conservative author admits evidence on Hillary Clinton is circumstantial

“In back-to-back interviews over the past 24 hours, conservative author Peter Schweizer admits he doesn’t have direct evidence that Hillary Clinton intervened to assist individuals and entities because they donated large sums of money to the Clinton Foundation.” 4/26/15 Read more at http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/first-read-clinton-cash-author-speaks-out-n348866


1. James Carville: Clinton Cash And The Clinton Rule

The Clinton Rule is as follows: There shall be one standard for covering everyone else in public life, and another standard for Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Never have we seen a more instant classic for followers of the Clinton Rule than with this latest tome. The book isn’t even slated to be released for several weeks and yet The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Fox News are in cahoots with the author — reporting on what might be inside. I’ll run you through the playbook.

Let’s start with the facts. The star of this latest instance of the Clinton Rule is the author, Peter Schweizer. He’s a discredited fringe conservative activist and former political aide to the likes of George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Bobby Jindal. That’s a trifecta that pays a high dollar for pushing right wing conspiracies. Schweizer has worked for such “reputable” publications as Breitbart.com — the same Breitbart.com that once called gun safety advocate Gabby Giffords a “human shield” for the gun safety movement. His right wing bona fides don’t end there. Schweizer is even listed as a contributor to one of former Fox News host Glenn Beck’s books.

The bottom line is that mainstream media must be up for the challenge. To all the reporters wanting to push the limits and take an advance look into the claims of a guy whose history of reporting is marked by errors and retractions, I say it’s time to break the Clinton Rule. But in this case, I’m afraid the smarter bet is that we are going to see the same playbook over and over again. 4/23/15 Read more at http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/23/clinton-cash-and-the-clinton-rule/203379

2. Brent Budowsky: Holy war against Hillary

What have the American people done to deserve the political campaigns that have become a permanent feature of American life, starring politicians who perpetually escalate every unsavory tactic that brings politics into widespread disrepute?

Today, consider the Republican campaign for the presidency in 2016, which has degenerated into an obsessive war against Hillary Clinton that borders on becoming a vindictive and venomous holy war, that is more reminiscent of political discourse in the Middle East than the contest of serious ideas that should be the hallmark of democratic nations. Tomorrow, we will consider the Democratic side of what is shaping up as a vapid and empty 2016 campaign.

For two years Clinton has been the target of the most personally hostile, lavishly financed and longest-lasting negative campaign of personal destruction and character assassination in the history of presidential politics.

One might have thought the GOP had reached rock bottom when Republicans were unable to agree at least that the current Democratic president of the United States loves our country and believes his faith. But no, in their rage and partisanship directed against Barack Obama, some Republicans question the president’s love of America and Christian faith, while many other Republicans respond with agreement, acquiescence or silence to these false and defamatory attacks.

Listening to the long list of GOP candidates for president doing their dog and pony shows, when these candidates should be offering their vision and plans for America, they appear to be going through a psychic transference of their political venom and vindictiveness from President Obama to Clinton.

Ever since Clinton left her post as secretary of State, the GOP has been running a nonstop campaign of vilification against her that is the only unifying principle of Republicans. It takes a form of a two-year holy war, financed by huge conservative money, subsidized by taxpayer funding for partisan congressional hearings, that paints a demonic portrait of a woman who does not exist and publishes a book that turns a half truth into a big lie, propagated by presidential candidates who substitute their derision against the demon for the vision of America they lack. 4/28/15 Read more at http://thehill.com/opinion/brent-budowsky/240392-brent-budowsky-holy-war-against-hillary


3. Chris Cillizza: Why the middle is irrelevant in American politics

It’s become fashionable in American politics to talk about how the ranks of independents, those famously fickle people without a preferred party, are growing in every state as people sour on the traditional bifurcated model of elections.

But, it’s  also somewhat meaningless.

Why? Because politics has increasingly become about campaigns and candidates talking to people who are already paying attention to what they are saying. Again, why? Because those high news consumption folks also happen to be — surprise, surprise — the sorts of people who turn out to vote. And where do those people tend to reside on the political spectrum? On the far left and the far right, of course. Independents? Not so much.

This battle of the bases is only likely to escalate in 2016 as advances in technology make it harder and harder — and more and more expensive — for politicians to reach people who aren’t already on their side or, more accurately, paying much attention.

Such a “base” campaign will likely grow the ranks of so-called independents as they feel ignored and unappreciated by the two major parties. Of course, until independents start paying more attention to politics, they don’t have much room to complain. 4/22/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/04/22/this-chart-perfectly-explains-why-the-middle-is-dying-in-american-politics/?wpisrc=nl_fix&wpmm=1


4. Michelle Goldberg: The Clinton Scandal Rabbit Hole

The phrase “Clinton rules” has two very distinct meanings. Bill and Hillary Clinton’s enemies use it to mean that the couple flout rules that apply to everyone else. In the early years of the blogosphere, however, liberals used “Clinton rules” as shorthand for the way journalists regularly abandoned ordinary standards of evidence to breathlessly pursue Clinton pseudo-scandals, often cooked up by right-wing operatives. As the Daily Howler wrote in 2007, “Under ‘the Clinton rules of journalism,’ you can say any goddamn thing you want—as long as you say it about the Clintons.”

Both versions of ‘Clinton rules’ describe real phenomena, and with any given Clinton story, it can be extremely difficult to figure out which Clinton rules are at work. Things are easier if you start off with a strong stance on the couple, always assuming the worst of either the Clintons or of anyone who criticizes them. But if you believe, as I do, that the Clintons have been demonized and persecuted to a preposterous degree and that they have cut ethical corners, if you delight in the idea of a female president but dread the return of the Clinton circus, it’s not easy to sort out who the real wrongdoers are in each new Clinton investigation. You find yourself plunged into rabbit holes, arguing about minutia, wishing for some sort of ideological heuristic to make sense of it all.

Take today’s New York Times investigation, “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company.” The story implies—but does not clearly allege—that money funneled to the Clinton Foundation greased the wheels for a deal that left Rosatom, the Russian atomic energy agency, in charge of 20 percent of American uranium reserves. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was part of a committee of cabinet officials that had the power to accept or reject the deal.

The origin of the piece is suspicious. On Monday, Times reporter Amy Chozick wrote about a forthcoming book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, by the right-winger Peter Schweizer. (Among Schweizer’s other books is Makers and Takers: Why conservatives work harder, feel happier, have closer families, take fewer drugs, give more generously, value honesty more, are less materialistic and envious, whine less…and even hug their children more than liberals.) According to Chozick, Clinton Cash is potentially more threatening to the Clintons than other right-wing hit jobs, “both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.”

This last line caught many up short. Why on earth would The New York Times enter into an “exclusive agreement” with a right-wing hack like Schweizer? After all, there’s nothing to stop the paper from following up on Schweizer’s reporting on its own. Why make a deal with him? What did it entail? Chozick didn’t say, and a piece today by Margaret Sullivan, the paper’s public editor, only clarified things a bit. “Any agreement limiting journalistic inquiry is unacceptable; the wording in the original story certainly suggested that,” wrote Sullivan. “I believe…that such a thing didn’t happen here; that, rather, The Times merely pursued the angle it was most interested in, with no restrictions. But I still don’t like the way it looked.” Indeed, it looks terrible—a clear example of the second sort of Clinton rules. 4/23/15 Read more at http://www.thenation.com/blog/205225/clinton-scandal-rabbit-hole


5. John Cassidy: “Clinton Cash” Attacks Could End Up Aiding Hillary

On Monday night, Sean Hannity opened his show on Fox News by claiming that new developments had emerged that could derail Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. He was referring to the revelation, in the Times, that an upcoming book, “Clinton Cash,” by Peter Schweizer, a conservative speechwriter and author, reportedly alleges that overseas donors to the Clinton Foundation, as well as foreign entities that paid Bill Clinton for speeches, received favors from the State Department while Hillary was in charge.

Many viewers of Hannity and other Fox programs will probably seize on the new book in order to confirm their view that Hillary Clinton is unworthy of the Presidency. But none of these people were going to vote for her anyway. Politically, the important question is what impact, if any, the book’s allegations will have on independent voters, who may or may not vote for Clinton, and also on liberal Democrats who are inclined to vote for her, and maybe even to campaign for her, but who still have some reservations.

On this front, my guess is that “Clinton Cash” (whose full title is “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich”) could end up benefitting Hillary. With Hannity and other conservative media figures piling on, the Clinton campaign will be able to portray questions about the Clinton Foundation and the family’s finances as a political witch-hunt rather than a legitimate exercise in vetting Presidential candidates. And if that happens, many Americans may end up dismissing the whole thing as a partisan squabble.

From here on out, however, things could get tricky for journalists covering the Clinton donations. Every word they write will be doubly scrutinized for evidence of political bias, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign operatives will be on hand to dismiss as part of a G.O.P.-inspired vendetta anything that is critical of the candidate. Until this week, it was easy to label such tactics as political spin, and few fair-minded people questioned the credibility of the Clinton money stories or the motivations of those writing and publishing them. Now that Schweizer has entered the fray, with the likes of Hannity and Paul to ballyhoo what appear to be largely unsubstantiated allegations, partisan politics is likely to color the views of the broader public. If and when Hillary Clinton falls back on the old argument that it’s all a right-wing conspiracy against her and her family, many people might well be prepared to take her at her word. 4/22/15 http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/clinton-cash-attacks-could-end-up-aiding-hillary


6. Olivia Nuzzi: Republicans’ Gay-Marriage Hysteria

The social conservatism of presidential elections past will be a hard sell in 2016—but apparently no one has informed the Republican candidates. 

At the Point of Grace Church in Waukee, a Des Moines suburb, GOP candidate after candidate (or likely-candidate) pledged support for a constitutional amendment that would overrule the Supreme Court’s decision and allow states to ban same-sex marriage again. (How this would work is not quite obvious.)  

While most of the country favors the legalization of same-sex marriage, Republicans overwhelmingly do not. According to that Washington Post-ABC poll, over 60 percent of Republicans and more than 70 percent of conservative Republicans remain opposed. 

Appearing soft on traditional marriage could prove fatal in the primary, where socially conservative voters hold significant power. Candidates prone to more moderate rhetoric on marriage (if not actually moderate policies)—Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul—must compete with the likes of Cruz and Huckabee, both of whom usually sound like they are on the verge of waving snakes in the air and speaking in tongues. 

This places Republican candidates in a tough position. What wins the primary may be the very thing that sets the nominee up for failure in the general. 4/27/14 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/27/the-gop-s-gay-marriage-hysteria.html

7. E.J. Dionne: Is Democracy Unraveling?

The world’s democracies, perhaps especially our own, face a peculiar set of contradictions that are undermining faith in public endeavor and unraveling old loyalties.

There is a decline of trust in traditional political parties but also a rise in partisanship. A broad desire for governments to reduce the levels of economic insecurity and expand opportunity is constrained by a loss of confidence in the capacity of government to succeed. Intense demands for change are accompanied by fears that much of the change that is occurring will make life worse for individuals and families.

In the United States, partisan splits have rarely been so deep and acrimony across party lines so intense. But these feelings don’t come from wildly positive views about the parties voters embrace. In a widely discussed paper released earlier this month, Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster, Emory University political scientists, noted that “one of the most important trends in American politics over the past several decades has been the rise of negative partisanship in the electorate.”

It occurs, they write, when “supporters of each party perceive supporters of the opposing party as very different from themselves in terms of their social characteristics and fundamental values.” Yes, our current form of partisanship leads us to dislike not only the other side’s politicians but even each other.

This is a big problem for self-government, since aggregating sustainable majorities is the first task of politicians in democratic countries. They are not doing a very good job, and the unfolding 2016 campaign doesn’t inspire much confidence that they’ll do better. 4/27/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/04/27/is_democracy_unraveling_126396.html 

8. Matea Gold and Ed O’Keefe: Never before have so many people with so much money run for president

The 2016 Republican presidential contest, designed to be a tidy affair, is instead shaping up to be a chaotic, drawn-out slog, thanks largely to an expanding pool of rich patrons raining money on a broad field of candidates.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has raised tens of millions of dollars for his allied super PAC, collecting a historic amount, he told donors Sunday night. But that hasn’t been enough to stop his rivals from amassing their own stockpiles. A super PAC supporting Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida secured about $20 million in commitments in less than two weeks, according to people familiar with the totals. An independent operation backing Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas says it pulled in $31 million in a single week. A new super PAC allied with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is close to matching that, fundraisers say.

Never have so many candidates entered a White House contest boosted by such huge sums. The financial arms race could fuel a protracted primary season similar to the one in 2012 — exactly what party leaders were hoping to avoid.

“There could be as many as a dozen candidates that have a threshold amount of money in their campaigns and super PACs to compete vigorously in the early states,” said Phil Cox, a Republican strategist who runs America Leads, a super PAC supporting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that has the backing of at least two billionaires. 4/27/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/why-the-2016-gop-race-may-be-more-like-2012-than-the-party-hoped/2015/04/26/fff662c8-e9f9-11e4-9767-6276fc9b0ada_story.html


9. Dana Milbank: For the GOP, ‘one man, one vote’ becomes ‘one billionaire, one ballot’

GOP leaders exulted a few years ago when the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and other decisions invited the rich to pour unlimited sums into political campaigns — and they are, by the billions of dollars.

But the Law of Unintended Consequences frequently rules the practice of politics, and it has once again. Republican candidates are hauling in so much money that the flood of cash has washed away the Darwinian system of natural selection that previously allowed parties to pick their nominees.

In the past, there was a money primary: If candidates polled poorly, their fundraising would dry up and they’d have to drop out of the race. But such market principles no longer apply, because a large number of inviable candidates are artificially subsidized — kept in the race by a beneficent billionaire, or even a friendly multimillionaire or two. With no easy way to push weak candidates from the race, Republicans are being hoist by their own gilded petard.

My Post colleagues Matea Gold and Ed O’Keefe reported Monday that no fewer than 15 White House hopefuls are being assisted by outside groups typically formed as “super PACs” and run by the candidate’s allies. For the first time in the modern political era, political operatives say it’s possible the eventual nominee need not win in either Iowa or New Hampshire.

The outright acquisition of the primary process by the wealthy is the latest instance of the 1 percent taking over the American political system – although in this case it’s more likely the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. As the Center for Responsive Politics notes, the top 1 percent of donors to super PACS (about 100 people and their spouses) contributed 67 percent of super-PAC funds in 2012.

Fred Wertheimer, a campaign-finance reformer who runs the group Democracy 21, predicts that, for the first time, spending by super PACs will exceed spending by candidates and parties combined in the 2016 presidential campaign, which is expected to cost some $5 billion.

Thanks to the Roberts court, the sacred concept of one man, one vote has been replaced by a new reality: one billionaire, one ballot. 4/27/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/for-the-gop-one-man-one-vote-becomes-one-billionaire-one-ballot/2015/04/27/d6a35aa4-ed0d-11e4-8abc-d6aa3bad79dd_story.html?hpid=z3


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Apr 23 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #876

Apr 23 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #876


That man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of existing scientific data. It’s shocking and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office.” — Gov. Jerry Brown about Ted Cruz 3/23/15


“We must to do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies.” — Jeb Bush, apparently mistaking the Obama-Clinton foreign policy for that of his brother. 4/13/15

“I don’t really care. I think they’re all losers.” — Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), assessing prospects for the 2016 Republican presidential field.

“Lyndon Baines Johnson was the last profoundly ugly candidate to be elected president, and he was a legacy of the martyred JFK. Voters don’t want a leader who looks frazzled or frumpy. We’re told that Lincoln was too homely to be elected president in an age of television and paparazzi. But Lincoln’s homely face had a dignity, a gravitas. If nothing else, we want a face that reassures us, not one that scares us, a la Night of the Living Alinskyites.” — From the “Top Ten Reasons Why Hitlery Will Never Be President” by Don Feder

“I think it’s fair to say that if you look across the country, the deck is stacked in favor of those already at the top.There’s something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the American worker … There’s something wrong when American workers keep getting more productive … but that productivity is not matched in their paychecks. here’s something wrong when hedge fund managers pay less in taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80” while driving from New York to Iowa over the past two days.” — Hillary Clinton in Monticello, Iowa. 4/14/15

“Hillary might not be much by way of a radical liberal candidate, but one thing she very much is, is an abject nightmare for the conservative male status quo. And sometimes, that’s all you really need.” — Mark Morford 4/14/15

“To put it simply, the President is importing millions of illegal aliens who when they arrive here he thinks, and he’s right, they are undocumented Democrats, and so the next phase of this is to document these Democrats so they can vote,” — Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). 4/16/15

“In honor of Earth Day, America must go all out to save a creature that’s on the verge of extinction. I’m talking of course about the Republican politician who believes in science.” — Bill Maher. 4/18/14

“My family is a consideration. Number two, the most important thing is, what does the Lord want me to do with my life?” — Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), awaiting a signal from God before deciding to become a candidate for president. 4/19/15

“The deck is stacked in their favor. My job is to reshuffle the cards.” — Hillary Clinton, about the nation’s wealthiest citizens. 4/21/15

“We have a woman running who got fired from a company; now she’s running for president. She got fired from a company in a vicious manner. They eventually walked her out. And she also lost an election, not by a little bit, by a landslide. I won’t use names. Now I turn on the television, and she’s running for president. I don’t know.” — Donald Trump, not a fan of Carly Florina. 4/20/15

“I think it’s worth noting that Republicans seem to be talking only about me. I don’t know what they’d talk about if I weren’t in the race.” — Hillary Clinton 4/20/15


“Washington is afraid to have an honest conversation about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid with the people of our country. I am not.” — Chris Christie calling for raising the retirement age for Social Security to 69 and early retirement to 64; requiring wealthier seniors to pay more of their Medicare health-insurance premiums; and gradually raising the eligibility age for Medicare to 67. 4/14/15


“You take a deep breath and try to wonder what world these people live in. What Governor Christie is saying is just the continuation of the war being waged by the Republican Party against the elderly, against the children, against the sick and against the poor, in order to benefit millionaires and billionaires. It is an outrage.” — Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-NH) 4/14/15

“I don’t know who’s more believable.” — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) when asked whether Sec. Kerry’s or Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s version of the Iran nuclear deal are more believable. 4/14/15


“When I hear some, like Senator McCain recently, suggest that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, who served in the United States Senate, a Vietnam veteran, who’s provided exemplary service to this nation, is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the Supreme Leader of Iran — that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries.” — President Obama 4/12/15


2. Mark Fiore Cartoon: Religious Freedom and Gay Commerce


3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Fox’s Charles Payne Attacks Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Campaign Video For Not Having Enough Straight White Men http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/14/foxs-charles-payne-attacks-hillary-clintons-201/203286

Fox Guest Responds To Hillary Clinton Campaign Event By Comparing Her To Karl Marx And Voldemort http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/14/fox-guest-responds-to-hillary-clinton-campaign/203277

VIDEO: At NRA Annual Meeting, Ted Nugent Talked About Shooting Sen. Harry Reid http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/14/video-at-nra-annual-meeting-ted-nugent-talked-a/203274

Mark Levin: “Boehner Is The Benedict Arnold Of The Republican Party” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/15/mark-levin-boehner-is-the-benedict-arnold-of-th/203292

O’Reilly Lashes Out At Critics: “The Fact That I’m White And In A Powerful Position Makes Me The Enemy” … “What I Stated Is A Fact,” It’s “Open Season” On White Men In America” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/17/oreilly-lashes-out-at-critics-the-fact-that-im/203333

Maureen Dowd’s Advice For Hillary Clinton Is Full Of Sexist Tropes http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/19/maureen-dowds-advice-for-hillary-clinton-is-ful/203337

Fox News Is Trumpeting The Latest Anti-Clinton Smear Book “Bombshell” http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/04/20/fox-news-is-trumpeting-the-latest-anti-clinton/203342

Clinton Cash Author Peter Schweizer’s Long History Of Errors, Retractions, And Questionable Sourcing http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/04/20/clinton-cash-author-peter-schweizers-long-histo/203209

Karl Rove Misrepresents Abortion Language In Human Trafficking Legislation To Blame Democrats For Lynch’s Stalled Confirmation http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/04/19/karl-rove-misrepresents-abortion-language-in-hu/203338

Fox Host: To Stop Terror Recruitment, We Need A “More Robust, Manly, Not Feminized Version Of Christianity” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/04/21/fox-host-to-stop-terror-recruitment-we-need-a-m/203356

4. Jon Stewart: The Jon Stewart mysteries presents the case of the Iranian agent


5. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“Governor Chris Christie says if he’s president, he will crack down on the sale of marijuana. However, that was before he was told it also comes in a brownie.” – Conan O’Brien

“Hillary’s trying to appear down-home. Earlier today she was sitting on the front porch of a general store whittling a pantsuit. ” –David Letterman

“The only fun thing about filing your tax return is getting a refund. About 80 percent of taxpayers get money back, which is a weird thing to be happy about. That means you’ve been overpaying all year long. It’s like if someone broke into your house and the police recovered the stuff and brought it back and you said, ‘Oh, presents.'” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Hillary Clinton is not the first woman to run for president. That title belongs to Victoria Woodhull, who ran for president in 1872. Her running mate was a young, scrappy John McCain.” –Conan O’Brien

“Jeb Bush welcomed his fourth grandchild. The new Bush grandchild is happy, healthy, and will be running for president in 2048.” –Conan O’Brien

“The 2016 presidential campaign is heating up. Can you feel the indifference, the apathy?” –David Letterman

“Hillary Clinton announced that she is running. Then she drove from New York to Iowa in a van. You can’t be president of the United States unless you agree to eat a corn dog in front of a small group of farmers.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Marco Rubio announced he’s running for president. Fun fact: Marco Rubio’s wife is a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader. In other words, she knows how to generate fake enthusiasm for someone who’s not going to win.” –Conan O’Brien

“When he was asked about Hillary’s candidacy, Obama said, ‘If she’s her wonderful self, I’m sure she’ll do great.’ He added, ‘If she’s her other self, watch out.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“In a recent interview, Michelle Obama said that the Secret Service taught Malia how to drive. In exchange, Malia taught the Secret Service how to throw a party when her parents are away.” –Conan O’Brien

“Arizona Senator John McCain announced that he plans on running for a sixth term because he is concerned about the nation’s security. He plans to help just like any other 80-year-old: by sitting on his porch with a police scanner.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush is facing criticism after it was just revealed that he checked off his race as ‘Hispanic’ on a voter registration form back in 2009. When asked if he regrets it now, Bush said, ‘Si.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush identified himself as Hispanic, so I guess it’s actually pronounced ‘Yeb Bush.'” –Seth Meyers

“President Obama and his wife are going to Kenya. Donald Trump said, ‘While you’re there, pick up your birth certificate.'” –David Letterman

“You’ve all heard about the Indiana religious freedom law? Some people think it’s anti-gay. Well, presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Scott Walker have all come out in favor of the new law. Well, I guess I shouldn’t say ‘come out.'” –Seth Meyers

“According to a new poll, Republicans are more likely to have a doughnut for breakfast, while Democrats prefer to eat bagels and croissants. While Independents are that annoying friend who’s still looking at the menu after 15 minutes.” –Jimmy Fallon

“As of this week, the only state that President Obama has not visited while in office is South Dakota. Residents of South Dakota said they’re looking forward to President Obama or any black person visiting soon.” –Conan O’Brien

“During a speech on Friday, Senator Ted Cruz said that if you walk up to someone and say ‘Joe Biden,’ the person will crack up laughing. Which is the same reaction you get if you say ‘President Ted Cruz.'” –Seth Meyers

6. The Borowitz Report: Kochs Defend Purchase of Scott Walker

Koch Industries is defending its acquisition of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker against charges that it overpaid for the Midwestern politician.

After co-owner David Koch revealed that Walker had become a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, he set off a firestorm of criticism that the company had spent too much for a worthless asset.

In a terse statement, Koch Industries argued, “Scott Walker is a perfect fit with our diversified portfolio of elected officials,” but indicated that, if Walker underperforms, the company would be open to selling him at a later date. Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

7. Obama pro-union rule to take effect

An Obama administration rule that speeds up the process by which employees can unionize took effect Tuesday after Republicans last month failed to block the measure.

Under the new National Labor Relations Board rules, employees could potentially organize a union in less than two weeks, compared to the previous average of 38 days between the time a petition is filed and the election is held. 04/14/15 http://thehill.com/regulation/labor/238775-labor-board-speeds-up-union-elections

8. The Republican war against the poor (cont.)

Not satisfied with cratering his state’s economy, cutting education budgets and rescinding long-established job protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday signed a punitive, intrusive and counterproductive measure placing wholly unnecessary restrictions on how Kansas relief recipients can spend their benefits. http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-brownback-signs-spectacularly-punitive-kansas-welfare-bill-20150416-column.html

9. Obamacare repeal falls off Republicans’ to-do list as law takes hold

After five years and more than 50 votes in Congress, the Republican campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act is essentially over

GOP congressional leaders, unable to roll back the law while President Obama remains in office and unwilling to again threaten a government shutdown to pressure him, are focused on other issues, including trade and tax reform.

Less noted, senior Republican lawmakers have quietly incorporated many of the law’s key protections into their own proposals, including guaranteeing coverage and providing government assistance to help consumers purchase insurance.

And although the law remains very unpopular with GOP voters, more than 20 million Americans now depend on it for health benefits, making even some of the most conservative Republicans loath to cut off coverage.” 4/18/15 Read more at http://www.latimes.com/business/healthcare/la-na-obamacare-republicans-20150418-story.html#page=1


10. Hillary’s Campaign Kick-off Trip to Iowa in 100 Seconds


11. Obamacare is Finally Popular

This month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds American’s opinion of the health care law closely divided, 43 percent say they have a favorable view of the law and 42 percent say they have an unfavorable view.

Opinion still is sharply divided by party, with 70 percents of Democrats viewing the law favorably and 75 percent of Republicans viewing it unfavorably. Independents fall in the middle; 42 percent like it and 46 percent don’t.

4/21/15 Read more at http://kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-april-2015/

12. Watch Sec. Hillary Clinton Defend Reproductive Rights and Family Planning in 2013



1. Daily Kos Staff: The 2016 election is not about the presidency. It is about the Supreme Court

The 2016 election is kicking off in fine fashion. The Republicans are trotting out crazy, crazier, and craziest, and I’ll let you figure out who is who there. The Democrats have Hillary Clinton, and while there surely will be a couple of others in the Democratic primaries, the nomination will likely go to the former secretary of state.

Some on the left are already crying foul about Clinton being anointed by the Democratic Party, that she is the establishment candidate, that she is the corporate candidate, that she has too much baggage, or that we don’t want a Clinton dynasty any more than we want a Bush dynasty.

None of that matters. If she is the nominee, we must support her whether or not we think she is the establishment candidate or the corporate candidate. Why? The U.S. Supreme Court. Considering the ages of the current justices, the next president will likely nominate several Supreme Court justices.

If we fail to turn out on Election Day some 19 months from now and the Democratic nominee loses, the Supreme Court will tilt right for the foreseeable future. If we do turn out, and the Democratic nominee wins, we can change the current makeup of the court and it will lean to the left. We already know what damage a right-leaning court can do—just think about Citizens United and Bush v. Gore, and then imagine if America gets one more conservative justice.

The stakes in this coming election are nothing less than the Supreme Court. 4/19/15 Read more at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/19/1377580/-The-2016-election-is-not-about-the-presidency-It-is-about-the-Supreme-Court?detail=hide

2. Gary Hart: Dare We Call It Oligarchy?

The lobbying/campaign finance/access matrix has corrupted American politics, divided our nation, and is well down the road to creating a system of political oligarchy.

Our Founders created a republic and, being keen students of the history of republics beginning with Athens, they knew that placing special and narrow interests ahead of the common good and the commonwealth was the corruption that destroyed republics. They feared this kind of corruption as the greatest danger to America’s success and survival.

By this standard, today’s American Republic is massively corrupt. Every interest group in our nation has staff lobbyists and hires lobbying firms. Thousands of lobbying firms now penetrate the halls of Congress as well as all State capitols and city halls. Those same lobbying firms collect funds for election and re-election campaigns. In exchange, they have access to legislatures and administrations, those who write the laws and make the regulations.

With its monumentally wrong-headed Citizens United decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has now sanctioned this corruption and eliminated any chance for control of campaign contributions.

We will have created a political system and some form of government new in our history. But it will most surely not be the Republic of our Founders hopes and dreams.4/17/15 Read more at http://time.com/3826278/gary-hart-dare-we-call-it-oligarchy/


3. William Saletan: Foreign Saboteurs

Kosovo, Libya, Iran, Israel, climate change. These aren’t breaches of the norm. They are the norm. When Republicans leaders are presented with a conflict between a Democratic president and a foreign government, they tend to oppose the president—and often side with the foreign government.

As a liberal, I’m OK with that. The right to dissent is a core American value. It has kept this country free for more than two centuries. But when Republicans are in power, they vilify dissent. During the George W. Bush years, Vice President Dick Cheney and his henchmen ruthlessly attacked the patriotism of anyone who questioned—even on tactical grounds—their conduct of the Iraq war, surveillance, or “enhanced interrogations.”

Last week, just before McCain gave his interview to Hugh Hewitt, Cheney appeared on the same show. He said of Obama: “If you had somebody as president who wanted to take America down, who wanted to fundamentally weaken our position in the world and reduce our capacity to influence events, turn our back on our allies and encourage our adversaries, it would look exactly like what Barack Obama’s doing.” When Hewitt played back Cheney’s quote for McCain two days later, the senator agreed with it.

That’s a cold, clear, functional definition of treason. But it could be applied just as easily—and with a better fit—to Cheney, McCain, and their collaborators on the right. If a political party wanted to tear America apart, weaken its position in the world, reduce our capacity to influence events, and encourage our adversaries, it would look exactly like what the Republican Party has done under Democratic presidents. Make of that what you will. 4/14/15 Read more at http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/

4. Jonathan Chait: How ‘Negative Partisanship’ Has Transformed American Politics

President Obama’s approval ratings are hovering a few points below 50 percent, and his party is seeking a third straight term in the White House. Most analysts see this as a toss-up scenario. I see it as a highly favorable situation for the Democrats that would require a major event, like an economic downturn, to change. What accounts for the difference? At the bottom, it is about whether American presidential politics are following the same basic rules they have for decades, or whether the game has changed. I believe the game has changed, and the thing that’s changed is polarization.

The logic that predicts a toss-up election is rooted in the perfectly sound assumption that the historical models give us the best guide to the future. A third straight term from a party whose president has middling approval ratings sits right on the probability fault line, historically. As Nate Silver writes, “these cases default to being toss-ups.”

The trouble is that almost all those cases are drawn from a historic period that is very different from the current one. During the 20th century, the two parties were extremely heterogeneous. The Republican Party had a moderate wing that dominated its presidential elections for most of the postwar years until Ronald Reagan. Democrats had a powerful southern conservative wing. In that environment, the old folk wisdom, “Vote the man, not the party,” made a great deal of sense. In that environment, large chunks of the electorate swung easily from one party to the other depending on transient factors, like the current state of peace and prosperity, rather than deeper values.

The splitting of American politics into two coherent ideological parties with very little programmatic overlap changes things. Voters who are fundamentally attached to one party or the other are not going to abandon their team merely because their party has held onto office for too many terms, or because the other party’s president is presiding over a nice recovery. Those factors are not meaningless because some swing voters do still exist. And performance can change voter perceptions to a degree; a deep recession might make some Democrats doubt their party’s economic program. But these temporal effects are muted. 4/17/15 Read more at http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/04/negative-partisanship-has-transformed-politics.html


5. Ana Marie Cox: Marco Rubio, Gen-X Fraud

On the surface, Marco Rubio is such a perfect 2016 Republican nominee you might think he was created in a lab. He ticks off all the demographic boxes that the GOP has struggled with for the past decade: A young (43) Latino who likes Tupac! He is adept with social media, talks like a person who watches the same dumb TV as you, and is pleasantly self-deprecatory when the occasion calls for it. Pundits and consultants are giddy with the prospect of a “generational choice” between Rubio and the rest of the field—not to mention Hillary Clinton.

Analysts aren’t wrong to suppose that a race against Rubio, in either the primary or the general, will expose a generational fault line. But it’s far from certain that Rubio will be one with the youth vote on his side.

Take away Rubio’s biography and look at his positions and he becomes less the voice of his generation and more Benjamin Button. If I told you about a candidate that was anti-marriage equality, anti-immigration reform (for now), anti-pot decriminalization, pro-government surveillance, and in favor of international intervention but against doing something about climate change, what would you guess the candidate’s age to be? On all of those issues, Rubio’s position is not the one shared by most young people. The Guardian dubbed him the “John McCain of the millennial set,” which isn’t fair to McCain, who at least has averred that climate change exists.

Marco Rubio is the GOP’s Cousin Oliver, a desperate gimmick by the out-of-touch to spark interest in a moribund brand. That Rubio is a gleeful participant in this exercise makes his distance from the actual dreams and desires of this country’s young people all the more apparent. 4/19/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/19/marco-rubio-gen-x-fraud.html


6. Valerie Plame & Joe Wilson: America needs Hillary

We have known Hillary Clinton both professionally and personally for close to 20 years, dating back to before President Bill Clinton’s first trip to Africa in 1998 — a trip that they both acknowledge changed their lives, and gave considerable meaning to their post-White House years and to the activities of the Clinton Foundation. Joe, serving as the National Security Council Senior Director for African Affairs, was instrumental in arranging that historic visit.

Our history became entwined with Hillary further after Valerie’s identity as a CIA officer was deliberately exposed. That criminal act was taken in retribution for Joe’s article in The New York Times in which he explained he had discovered no basis for the Bush administration’s justification for the Iraq War that Saddam Hussein was seeking yellowcake uranium to develop a nuclear weapon.

When we were subjected to a vicious character assassination campaign orchestrated by senior White House officials and championed by their allies in the right-wing echo chamber, Hillary reached out to us. Her counsel during that tumultuous period was as timely as it was wise. She reminded us that the personal attacks on us were politically designed to deflect attention from the Bush administration’s falsehoods. She urged us to remain strong in the face of their tactics of personal destruction. Smear campaigns should not trump the facts in the public square.

As president she will provide the seasoned, smart and tough leadership the United States will need to face the challenges of this rapidly changing world. She is by far the most qualified and trustworthy person to protect our national security interests and to create a better American future.

Hillary stood with us, as she has stood with so many over the years, and we are proud to stand with her for our country now. 4/13/15 Read more at http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/04/13/hillary-clinton-presidential-qualifications-valerie-plame-joseph-wilson-column/25707671/

7. Michael Tomasky: The GOP Primary Is Where Ideas Go to Die

So now we have us some candidates, on the Republican side. Who’s the big kahuna? Jeb Bush? He keeps getting called front-runner, and I suppose he is, even though the polls sometimes say otherwise. Scott Walker? Certainly a player. Rand Paul? Pretty bad rollout, but he has his base. The youthful, advantageously ethnicized Marco Rubio? Some as-yet-unannounced entrant who can hop in and shake things up?

Each has a claim, sort of, but the 800-pound gorilla of this primary process is none of the above. It’s the same person it was in 2008, and again in 2012, when two quite plausible mainstream-conservative candidates had to haul themselves so far to the right that they ended up being unelectable. It’s the Republican primary voter.

To be more blunt about it: the aging, white, very conservative, revanchist, fearful voter for whom the primary season is not chiefly an exercise in choosing a credible nominee who might win in November, but a Parris Island-style ideological obstacle course on which each candidate must strain to outdo his competitors—the hate-on-immigrants wall climb, the gay-bashing rope climb, the death-to-the-moocher-class monkey bridge. This voter calls the shots, and after the candidates have run his gauntlet, it’s almost impossible for them to come out looking appealing to a majority of the general electorate.

Might I be wrong about the primary voter? Sure, I might. Maybe the fear of losing to Hillary Clinton and being shut out of the White House for 12 or 16 consecutive years will tame this beast. But the early signs suggest the opposite.

After all, how did Scott Walker bolt to the front of the pack? It wasn’t by talking about how to expand health care. It was by giving one speech, at an event hosted by one of Congress’ most fanatical reactionaries (Steve King of Iowa), bragging about how he crushed Wisconsin’s municipal unions. That’s how you get ahead in this GOP. I’d imagine Rubio and Paul and the rest of them took note. 4/15/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/15/gop-primary-land-where-ideas-go-to-die.html


8. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: GOP offers new faces, stale ideas: Another view

The Republicans vying for their party’s nomination want to bring back the tired, old trickle-down policies that have failed repeatedly. Their proposals to hand out tax breaks to the very rich and wealthy corporations shift the tax burden onto the middle class.

Instead of a serious plan to expand opportunity for all, Sen. Marco Rubio’s tax plan reads like a wish list written by wealthy donors. It’s exactly what we would expect from a politician who consistently panders to the Republican base.

And, of course, Sen. Rand Paul has been the most vocal about reaching out to new voters. But how can he broaden Republicans’ appeal when he has voiced opposition to the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, opposed comprehensive immigration reform, wrote a budget slashing Pell grants, belittled LGBT rights, and sponsored bills to take women’s health care decisions out of their hands?

Paul isn’t a new type of Republican, and neither are his colleagues who are already running or will soon. Jeb Bush isn’t going to fight for middle-class families. Gov. Scott Walker has already brought Washington’s dysfunction to Wisconsin.

Democrats are the party of inclusion, empowerment and expanded opportunity. None of the GOP’s “new” faces can grow their party so long as they’re holding on to the same, harmful policies of the past. 4/14/15 Read more at http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/04/14/republican-democratic-debbie-wasserman-schultz-editorials-debates/25793869/


9. Erika Eichelberger: How the Republicans are trying to make the rich even richer

If Tax Day fills you with dread and anger, that’s not irrational — at least not if you’re poor or middle class. The United States tax code is so warped, so skewed in favor of the wealthy, that it is in effect hastening the arrival of the new Gilded Age.

Since the middle of the last century, millionaires’ tax burden has been cut in half. During the same time period, the share of government revenue coming from corporate taxes has plummeted while the portion coming from payroll taxes has jumped. As a freelancer, I have to give 30% of my income to the Internal Revenue Service. Hedge fund managers, meanwhile, pay 20% because they’re allowed to pretend that their regular income is actually investment income. This particular rich-person tax perk is one of the main reasons income inequality in this country is out of control.

Here’s the really bad news: If the Republicans who control Congress have their way, the tax code is only going to get more unfair.

Today, the top 20% of U.S. households own more than 84% of the wealth in this country, while the bottom 40% holds a mere 0.3%. Of all Western nations, the United States is now the most unequal.

Yet the GOP continues to help the rich get richer. And the party isn’t even trying that hard to conceal its efforts. This week, while millions of Americans scrape the bottoms of their savings accounts and the tops of their credit card limits to pay their share of taxes, the House will vote on a bill to fully repeal the estate tax.

If it passes, the measure would redistribute an average of about $3 million a year to the wealthiest 0.2% of households in America — or about 5,000 rich families. With that in mind, enjoy Tax Day. 4/15/15 Read more at http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0415-eichelberger-taxes-20150415-story.html


10. Michael Hirsh: How Hillary Jilted Wall Street

At a small Washington dinner party in 2013, the topic of discussion was Gary Gensler’s elbows—specifically how very sharp they can be. Present were Brooksley Born, Gensler’s legendary predecessor at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Mary Jo White, the then-new chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Gensler, the mild-voiced CFTC chairman, was proving to be not only the scourge of Wall Street but a major irritant to America’s closest allies. The reason? Gensler was insisting on rules that would allow U.S. regulators to oversee trading by the big Wall Street banks even if the banks operated abroad. He wasn’t going to let Goldman Sachs (his former employer) or anyone else escape whipping by shifting a complex derivatives deal from New York to some affiliate in London, or Bonn, or wherever.

The reported selection of Gensler this week as chief financial officer of Clinton’s campaign follows several days in which the just-announced Democratic candidate—on the road in Iowa championing “everyday people”—has offered up more progressive rhetoric and turned Wall Street into her campaign bugaboo. “There’s something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses,” Clinton said on the trail, taking a rhetorical shot at some of the same billionaires who have been underwriting her preparations for months.

Now the choice of Gensler to become in effect the financial manager of a billion-dollar-plus campaign, and part of Clinton’s senior leadership team, may be the surest sign that Hillary Clinton isn’t going to just sound populist but intends to distance herself from her Wall Street friends (though she’ll still take their money, of course). The goal seems clear: to reassure and inspire the party’s liberal base, or what’s become known as the “Elizabeth Warren wing,” and tamp down cries for a liberal challenger to rise up and take her on in the primaries. 4/17/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/hillary-wall-street-117092.html

11. David Frum: The Question That Will Decide the 2016 Election

“Will you take away my health insurance?”

That question does not get asked often at Republican presidential forums. Yet it will be the most decisive question in the 2016 presidential election.

Since the last presidential election, the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act have taken effect. Millions of people are now enrolled in Medicaid, or are receiving health insurance subsidies through state exchanges, who were not enrolled or subsidized in November of 2012. Obamacare skeptics may disparage these benefits as inefficient, counter-productive, and excessively costly. Fine. Those who receive them won’t cherish them any less. The mortgage-interest deduction is not exactly a model of economic rationality. Try taking it away. Go ahead. Try.

The next presidential election, like the last, will be decided by whether Democratic-leaning groups show up at the polls in large numbers—and maybe, at the margins, by whether the last few single percentage points of undecided voters choose “change” or “more of the same.” For those economically stressed toss-up voters—for the younger voters who sometimes show up and sometimes vote—the tipping point issue won’t be foreign policy. It won’t be ethics. It won’t be healthcare. It won’t even be the overall performance of the economy, which will be better, but still unwonderful. It will be that single haunting question, “Will I lose my insurance?”

If they don’t hear a clear and convincing “No,” they’re going to assume the answer is “Yes”—and most likely, vote accordingly. 4/22/15 Read more at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-question-that-will-decide-the-2016-election/391137/

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Mar 12-26 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #875


“Believing that Cruz cares about anything other than getting headlines and anyone other than his far-right base is like believing Justin Bieber cares about the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” — Dean Obeidallah on Ted Cruz’s proposed alternative to Obamacare. 03.05.15

“Though it was “unlikely,” it would not be a “huge jump” to predict that the Obama administration could call an end to the prosecutions of African Americans for any crime.” —Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the chief architects of the anti-immigrant movement’s legal and legislative strategies. 3/04/15

“Conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza decried Hillary Clinton’s “lawlessness” in a Skype interview from San Diego, California, where he is currently serving his eight month sentence in a “community confinement center” for violating campaign finance laws.” — Matt Wilstein in Mediaite 3/05/15

“Voters do not give a shit. They do not even give a fart. Find me one persuadable voter who agrees with HRC on the issues but will vote against her because she has a non-archival-compliant email system and I’ll kiss your ass in Macy’s window and say it smells like roses.” — Longtime Clinton ally and Democratic strategist Paul Begala 3/05/15

“Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, won’t face legal questions over their use of email but won’t have to turn anything over, either, because Congress exempts itself from open records laws.” — Eric Bradner and Alexandra Jaffe, CNN 3/06/15

“Fifty years ago, registering to vote here in Selma and much of the South meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap. It meant risking your dignity, and sometimes, your life. What is our excuse today for not voting? How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought? How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future?” — President Obama in Selma. 3/07/15

“Despite a small minority of Democrats and Israeli reporters seeking to curry favor with Obama, Netanyahu’s speech to Congress elicited overwhelming support.” — Israel Hayom in Israel Today, the money-losing free news daily which Sheldon Adelson set up in 2007 mainly to support Benjamin Netanyahu. 3/06/15

“Make no mistake, this is your father’s Republican Party. This is the exact same trans-vaginal ultrasound, all white-guy committee chair, aspirin between your knees Republican Party we have been fighting for thirty years. Shame on them. They are trying to fool women. And shame on us if we let them get away with it. They don’t support women. They don’t trust women. They don’t respect women so don’t tell me that there is no war on women. And don’t bother asking for a truce. We didn’t start this fight but mark my words. We are going to win it. — Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock (video)

“I don’t email. You can have every email I’ve ever sent. I’ve never sent one. I don’t know what that makes me.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). A Luddite? NOTE: Senator Graham sits on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law 3/08/15


“I’ve been very good over the last year and a half about not posting things about Obama, but this one was too good to pass up,. I promise this will be the last one for some time.” — Maine State Sen. Michael Willette (R), who shared a Facebook post suggesting that President Barack Obama has family members of the ISIL. 3/09/15

“From issuing a completely unnecessary subpoena to Secretary Clinton to Republican fundraising off of the tragedy in Benghazi, it appears that the Select Committee has given up any pretense of a legitimate investigation, and now has just become a surrogate for the Republican National Committee.” — Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on reports that the RNC is fundraising off of the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s private email accounts. 3/09/15

“The Hillary Clinton email story is getting ugly, showing the nasty side of a longtime D.C. institution. Not Clinton herself, though. The political media. Political reporters are in an orgasmic frenzy at the chance to play out the tired narratives about the Clintons that they long ago bought from Republican operatives. They’re outraged about the difficulties of getting last-minute press credentials at the United Nations. And because it’s Hillary Clinton, they feel confident in explaining what’s in her head, what this story Tells Us About Hillary, as if it’s not a story that basically only a certain class of political reporter gives a shred of a damn about.” — Laura Clawson in The Daily Kos 3/11/15

1. FLASHBACK: When Millions Of Lost Bush White House Emails (From Private Accounts) Triggered A Media Shrug

Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.

The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95 percent of his communications.

As the Washington Post reported, “Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations.” But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators.

Back in 2007 Fox News seemed utterly uninterested in the Bush email story days after the news broke. A search of Fox archives locates only one panel discussion about the story and it featured two guests accusing Democrats of engineering a “fishing expedition.”

From then-Fox co-host, Fred Barnes: “I mean, deleted e-mails, who cares?” 3/10/15 Read more at http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/10/flashback-when-millions-of-lost-bush-white-hous/202820


Forty-seven Senate Republicans warned in an open letter to Iran’s leaders Monday that any agreement between the White House and Tehran on nuclear weapons could be quickly nullified or changed once President Barack Obama leaves office. The letter, which was signed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and a number of top committee chairmen, said that unless approved by Congress, any agreement between world powers and Iran would be seen by GOP lawmakers as an executive agreement between Mr. Obama and Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei. Such an agreement may not stay in effect under future administrations and could be modified by lawmakers in the future, they wrote.” 3/09/15


— “Republicans are undermining our commander in chief while empowering the ayatollahs. … Even at the height of our disagreements with President George W. Bush, Senate Democrats never considered sending a letter to Saddam Hussein or other Iraqi leaders at the time. It’s time for Republicans to accept that the citizens of our country twice elected President Obama by large margins as president of the United States. Obviously. Republicans don’t know how to do anything other than juvenile political attacks against the president.” — Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) on the letter 47 GOP senators wrote to the Iranian leadership. 3/10/15

— “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.” —Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif. 3/10/15

— Republicans have a “long and rather sordid history” of putting military options ahead of diplomatic ones.” The letter, signed by 47 GOP lawmakers is “the continuation of a partisan strategy to undermine the president’s authority.” — White House press secretary Josh Earnest 3/09/15

— “In 36 years in the United States Senate I cannot recall another instance in which senators wrote directly to advise another country — much less a longtime foreign adversary — that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them.” — Vice President Joe Biden 3/9/15

— “When we see a major party, on a partisan basis, try to undercut and kill the negotiations while they are going on at this very moment in Geneva, then that goes a step too far. I am saddened.” — Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), 3/10/15


3. Florida Officials Told Not to Use Term ‘Climate Change’

Officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting reports.

“This unwritten policy went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the DEP’s director, according to former DEP employees. Gov. Scott, who won a second term in November, has repeatedly said he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.” 3/09/15 Read more at http://fcir.org/2015/03/08/in-florida-officials-ban-term-climate-change/

4. The Error in the Senators’ Letter to the Leaders of Iran

It appears from the open letter from 47 Republican senators to Iran’s leaders that the Senators suggests that the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran that do not understand our constitutional system or the power to make binding agreements. Instead, it appears from the letter that the Senators are the ones who do not understand our constitutional system or the power to make binding agreements.

The letter states that “the Senate must ratify [a treaty] by a two-thirds vote.”  But as the Senate’s own web page makes clear: “The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification” (my emphasis).  Or, as this outstanding  2001 CRS Report on the Senate’s role in treaty-making states (at 117):  “It is the President who negotiates and ultimately ratifies treaties for the United States, but only if the Senate in the intervening period gives its advice and consent.”  Ratification is the formal act of the nation’s consent to be bound by the treaty on the international plane.  Senate consent is a necessary but not sufficient condition of treaty ratification for the United States.  As the CRS Report notes: “When a treaty to which the Senate has advised and consented … is returned to the President,” he may “simply decide not to ratify the treaty.” 3/09/15 Read more at http://www.lawfareblog.com/2015/03/the-error-in-the-senators-letter-to-the-leaders-of-iran/

5. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Limbaugh Dismisses DOJ Report Finding Racial Bias In Ferguson As “Throw[ing] A Bone To The Civil Rights Coalition” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/03/05/limbaugh-dismisses-doj-report-finding-racial-bi/202775

“B-i-itch Battle”: Limbaugh Describes Possible Primary Between Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/03/05/b-i-itch-battle-limbaugh-describes-possible-pri/202771

O’Reilly Highlights Christiane Amanpour’s Time In Iran To Undermine Her Criticism Of Netanyahu’s Speech http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/04/oreilly-highlights-christiane-amanpours-time-in/202768

The Conservative Myth Of The Ambassador Ousted Over A Personal Email Account http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/03/06/the-conservative-myth-of-the-ambassador-ousted/202789

Fox’s Outnumbered Takes Its Own Poll Out Of Context To Downplay Positive Jobs Report http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/06/foxs-outnumbered-takes-its-own-poll-out-of-cont/202787

Conservative Columnist Uses Clinton Email Investigation To Revive Bigoted Muslim Brotherhood Conspiracy http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/06/conservative-columnist-uses-clinton-email-inves/202782

Justice Scalia Once Again Repeating Right-Wing Media Talking Points In Health Care Challenge http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/06/justice-scalia-once-again-repeating-right-wing/202781

Ben Stein On Fox: Michelle Obama’s Healthy School Lunch Initiative Is Orwellian http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/03/09/ben-stein-on-fox-michelle-obamas-healthy-school/202812

Breitbart.com: Gabby Giffords Is A “Human Shield”http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/09/breitbartcom-gabby-giffords-is-a-human-shield/202809

After Right-To-Work, The Conservative Media Coronation Of Scott Walker Signals A New War On The Middle Class http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/10/after-right-to-work-the-conservative-media-coro/202823

O’Reilly: “Let’s Be Frank,” Hillary Clinton Email Scandal Is About Benghazi http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/03/10/oreilly-lets-be-frank-hillary-clinton-email-sca/202835

Fox Host Said Clinton Was “Lying,” But She Couldn’t Use Two Email Accounts On A BlackBerry In 2009 http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/10/fox-host-said-clinton-was-lying-but-she-couldnt/202833


Fox News Adopts Gowdy’s Fallacy To Accuse Clinton Of Hiding Emails http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/10/fox-news-adopts-gowdys-fallacy-to-accuse-clinto/202826

Two Names The Press Omits From Email Coverage: Colin Powell And Jeb Bush http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/03/11/two-names-the-press-omits-from-email-coverage-c/202847

6. MarkFiore: Greater Republica


7. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“President Obama said he wants the United States to establish an embassy in Cuba by April. When asked if Cuba would establish an embassy here, Obama said, ‘What do you call Miami?'” –Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush is getting his presidential campaign in gear. Last week he said he supports a path to citizenship for immigrants. He said, ‘I believe in an America where hard work and dedication can lead to any job that your brother and dad once had.'” –Conan O’Brien

“Today during his speech in Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly referred to Congress as ‘my friends.’ It was a move that had many in Congress Googling the word ‘friend.'” –Seth Meyers

“This weekend the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, featured several speakers including Sarah Palin and Phil Robertson from ‘Duck Dynasty.’ It was a good weekend for conservatives — and a great weekend for wild animals.” –Jimmy Fallon

“During the CPAC conference, Rand Paul told the crowd it was time for a new president and that people need to help make the change. Of course, most people agreed with him, since that’s how term limits work.” –Jimmy Fallon

“RNC chairman Reince Priebus criticized Joe Biden, saying that he can’t control his mouth. That’s kind of like someone trying to say the name ‘Reince Priebus,’ which sounds like a drunk person trying to say ‘rented Prius.'” –Jimmy Fallon

“In New Jersey, Chris Christie joked that he gave up The New York Times for lent. But then his priest told him he had to give up something he’d actually miss.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Hillary Clinton is receiving criticism after telling a crowd to ‘unlock their full potential,’ because that line is commonly used by another possible candidate, Carly Fiorina. People said, ‘You can’t just steal someone’s slogan like that!’ And Hillary said, ‘Yes we can!'” –Jimmy Fallon

8. GOP’s War Against Workers (Cont.): Scott Walker Makes It Official: Signs Right-To-Work Bill

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed right-to-work legislation on Monday, finishing a quick turnaround after conservatives in the state legislature vowed to fast-track a right-to-work bill. 3/09/15 Read more at http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/scott-walker-signs-right-to-work-bill


9. Ferguson judge behind aggressive fines policy owes $170,000 in unpaid taxes

The judge in Ferguson, Missouri, who is accused of fixing traffic tickets for himself and colleagues while inflicting a punishing regime of fines and fees on the city’s residents, also owes more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes.

Ronald J Brockmeyer, whose court allegedly jailed impoverished defendants unable to pay fines of a few hundred dollars, has a string of outstanding debts to the US government dating back to 2007, according to tax filings obtained by the Guardian from authorities in Missouri.

Brockmeyer, 70, was this week singled out by Department of Justice investigators as being a driving force behind Ferguson’s strategy of using its municipal court to aggressively generate revenues. The policy has been blamed for a breakdown in relations between the city’s overwhelmingly white authorities and residents, two-thirds of whom are African American. 3/06/15 Read more at http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/06/ferguson-judge-owes-unpaid-taxes-ronald-brockmeyer

10. GOP Hopefuls Silent on Clinton Email Controversy

The GOP presidential field has been unusually silent this week as scrutiny mounts over Hillary Clinton’s email practices, there’s a logical explanation: Many of them are tormented by their own email demons.

At least a half-dozen 2016 Republican prospects have felt the sting of sustained negative press coverage over their email practices, with the common denominator being an attempt to sidestep public scrutiny attached to official government accounts. While the scope and scale of the controversies range widely — and they’re not comparable to the Clinton circumstances — their histories with electronic communications have left them with their own unique vulnerabilities on the issue. 3/05/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/hillary-clinton-email-flap-creates-awkward-gop-silence-115781.html#ixzz3TW0OKCuG

11. Transcript of Obama’s speech in Selma


You can watch a video of 3 segments of Obama’s speech at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyIx1qan3v8


12. Jon Stewart: Revolutionary Road & Skyfail


13. Andy Borowitz: Iran Offers to Mediate Talks Between Republicans and Obama

Stating that “their continuing hostilities are a threat to world peace,” Iran has offered to mediate talks between congressional Republicans and President Obama.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, made the offer one day after Iran received what he called a “worrisome letter” from Republican leaders, which suggested to him that “the relationship between Republicans and Obama has deteriorated dangerously.”

“Tensions between these two historic enemies have been high in recent years, but we believe they are now at a boiling point,” Khamenei said. “As a result, Iran feels it must offer itself as a peacemaker.”

For their part, the Republicans said they would only agree to talks if there were no preconditions, such as recognizing President Obama’s existence.

ELSEWHERE: In an unusually forthcoming interview with the Korean Central News Agency (K.C.N.A.), KimJongun said it was “hurtful” that the Republicans would send a letter to one of the United States’ most longstanding enemies while “totally snubbing” another. Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/iran-offers-to-mediate-talks-between-republicans-and-obama

14. The GOP’s War on Women (Cont.): West Virginia bans abortions after 20 weeks over governor’s veto

The Republican-controlled West Virginia legislature on Friday banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, overriding the governor’s veto and joining 11 other states in prohibiting abortion at that point. 3/06/15 Read more at http://news.yahoo.com/west-virginia-bans-abortions-20-weeks-over-governors-231832732.html


1. Joe Conason: Is This a Scandal — Or a ‘Scandal’?

Angry Republicans on the House Select Committee that is forever investigating Benghazi, plainly frustrated by years of failure to find any evidence that incriminates Clinton or President Obama in the loony conspiracy theories cherished by tea party Republicans, are behind the email stories first published by The New York Times. In fact, Clinton’s use of a private account has been publicly known for more than two years — but that fact didn’t seem to trouble the Republicans until now, as she prepares to run for president. And today the House Government Operations Committee, chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz — a right-wing extremist whose own business card lists his Gmail address – is poised to take up the “investigation.”

This unappetizing scenario is most reminiscent of the bad old days, when a House committee chair “investigated” the tragic suicide of White House aide Vince Foster by pumping several pistol rounds into a watermelon in his backyard. Back then, various Senate and House committees chaired by Republicans endlessly “investigated” Whitewater, the FBI files, and other putatively scandalous matters, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars, with no purpose beyond selective, salacious leaks to reporters at the top newspapers and networks. Then everybody would feign outrage for a day or two, and the latest whatever would pass into oblivion.

Someone should ask the Republicans and their media enablers what they expect to find now. Is there any evidence of actual wrongdoing by Clinton and her staff, or merely the familiar stink of insinuation? Will they seek the testimony of former Bush aide Karl Rove — who misplaced thousands of White House emails on an RNC.com address during a criminal probe — or any of the other ex-officials, like Powell, who have used private email addresses to conduct public business over the past decade or so? Or will they simply continue a partisan hunting expedition with taxpayer millions, which is what they seem to believe they were elected to do instead of governing? 3/05/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/03/05/is_this_a_scandal_–_or_a_scandal________125830.html


2. E.J. Dionne: The Wound Netanyahu Left

It was disconcerting to watch Congress cheer wildly as a foreign leader, the prime minister of one of America’s closest allies, trashed an American president’s foreign policy. It was equally strange that the speaker of our House of Representatives interjected the United States Congress into an Israeli political campaign.

John Boehner’s unprecedented act of inviting the leader of another nation to criticize our own president, and Netanyahu’s decision to accept, threaten to damage the bipartisan and trans-ideological coalition that has always come together on behalf of Israel’s survival.

Netanyahu may have spoken the words, “We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel,” but the rest of his speech painted the president as foolish and on the verge of being duped on a nuclear deal by the mullahs in Tehran.

The Israeli leader reached for the most devastating metaphor available to him, the appeasement of the Nazis that led to the Holocaust. He urged the United States “not to sacrifice the future for the present” and “not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.” This is what he was accusing Obama of doing. No wonder House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi described herself as “near tears” over Netanyahu’s “condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran.”

The crux of the difference between Obama and Netanyahu is about a bet on the future. The Israeli prime minister argued that “the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.” He added, “I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal.”

Obama’s bet, by contrast, is that a deal opening up space and time provides the best chance we have of encouraging political evolution in Iran. Of course there is no guarantee of this, but it’s a reasonable assumption that ending the negotiations would set back the forces of change.

Skeptics of an agreement, Netanyahu included, can usefully push Obama to get the longest time line and the toughest guarantees he can, and American negotiators can try to use the threat of opposition in Congress to strengthen the final terms.

But Netanyahu never gave a satisfactory answer to the most important question: What is the alternative? As for Netanyahu’s provocative and divisive intervention in American politics and Boehner’s meddling in Israel’s election, the voters of our friend and ally will render a judgment soon. 3/05/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/03/05/the_wound_netanyahu_left_125825.html


3. David Brock: There’s no scandal in Hillary Clinton’s emails

How do Republicans try to breathe new life into an old scandal? We’ve seen it time and time again. Here’s how it works:

Step One: Republicans, with nothing in their arsenal to use against Hillary Clinton, selectively leak to reporters a “scandalous” tidbit — often one that has been previously reported.

Step Two: The new media bites.

Step Three: The media hyperventilates and suffocates the airwaves with repetition of the same story.

Step Four: Upon further examination, the story falls apart.

This is exactly how the latest media hype, this time over Hillary Clinton’s use of emails at the State Department, has played out. And it presents yet another chapter in the Benghazi hoax.

The New York Times story about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account at the State Department is a perfect example of “gotcha” journalism, where reporters will take any bait the Republicans give them without proper vetting. The New York Times has a history of this. (Whitewater, anyone?)

The Times story suggests Secretary Clinton broke federal rules in relation to her email. But the Times’ main source for this allegation says Clinton violated no laws.

Republican investigators seeking to hype the current Benghazi investigation leaked the issue to keep a dying investigation alive.

And once again, reporters bit. In the days since The New York Times posted its story, there have been dozens and dozens of stories written on the topic. Why?

Because the Clintons are held to a double standard when it comes to media scrutiny. Their perfectly usual, above board behavior is spun as secretive and unaccountable — while Republicans are left relatively unscathed.

In the end, all we are left with is the benign fact that Hillary Clinton used a personal email account at the State Department. This isn’t even a revelation — it has been known for years. Looks like the Republicans wasted their breath, once again, for nothing. 3/05/15 Read more at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/05/opinions/brock-hillary-clinton-email/index.html


4. Economist Editorial: Don’t kill Obamacare

AMERICA’S health-care system is the costliest in the world, gobbling up 17% of GDP. The average for rich nations is only 9%; even the French spend less than 12%. Despite this avalanche of cash, one American in ten has no cover and American life expectancy, at 79, is four years worse than Italy’s.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010, better known as Obamacare, was supposed to deal with these problems. Five years later, Barack Obama’s most important domestic reform is unpopular (56% of Americans disapprove of it) and under renewed attack. This week the Supreme Court heard yet another legal challenge. In King v Burwell, the law’s opponents argue that its subsidies for individuals buying health insurance on the federally organized online exchanges are illegal. They are unlikely to prevail but, if they do, the law will be gutted and the insurance market thrown into turmoil.

That would be a terrible shame, for Obamacare appears to be working better than expected. First, despite the incompetent rollout of healthcare.gov (the website that allows people to use the federal exchanges), the proportion of Americans who lack cover has fallen from 16.2% to 12.3% since 2009. Second, the previously terrifying pace of medical inflation has slowed. The amount that America spends on health care grew by 3.9% a year in nominal terms between 2009 and 2011—having grown by 7.3% a year in 2000-08. The trillion dollar question is: how much of this squeeze is because of Obamacare?

Annual spending per Medicare beneficiary has fallen in real terms from $12,000 in 2011 to an estimated $11,200 in 2014. This is highly unusual—the last time Medicare spending fell was in the late 1990s. Granted, Medicare beneficiaries are healthier than they were, since swarms of baby-boomers have pulled down their average age. But the program has also grown more efficient. The Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare spending per head will be no higher in 2020 than it is now. By then, spending on Medicare and Medicaid (cover for the poor) could be $160 billion a year less than previous estimates. In the wider market, too, health inflation is subdued (see article).

As Americans age and Obamacare continues to extend coverage, federal outlays on health will probably start to grow again as a share of GDP over the next decade. America still spends far more than it needs to on health care, as the gap with other nations shows. But there is hope at last that health inflation can be made more manageable. Scrapping Obamacare and starting again from scratch would make this harder. Far better to build on what appears to be working. For the Supreme Court to rule for the challengers would be a woeful outcome. 3/07/15 Read more at http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21645730-supreme-court-considers-whether-gut-obamacare-evidence-mounting-law


5. Congressman John Conyers: 50 Years Later: I’m Still Standing with Selma

My first speech on the House floor as a Member of Congress was to recount the events I’d seen firsthand in Selma and urge my colleagues to pass the Voting Rights Act. It didn’t solve all inequality, but it finally forced elected officials to be accountable to uphold the constitution they were elected to defend.

Fast forward to present day and we still find ourselves having to defend the right to vote – the very cornerstone of our great democracy. States with a history of discrimination at the polls are now allowed to resume such practices because the Voting Rights Act’s most important sections were gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

It is up to Congress to restore the critical sections of the Voting Rights Act and the only thing stopping them are those in the political majority who have chosen to forget our history. They are the same Republicans who have removed “Civil Rights and Human Rights” from the title of a Senate committee that oversees these critical issues. This is the same party who passed an unprecedented number of voter identification laws that disproportionately affects young people, people of color, low-income people, veterans, and the elderly. Even more appalling is how they continue to defend these laws that have disenfranchised so many Americans.

The same Congress that can’t seem to pass a fix to the Voting Rights Act, was able to recently pass a bill honoring the marchers of Selma. They must do more. And you and I know they can. 3/06/14 http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/06/1369020/-50-Years-Later-I-m-Still-Standing-with-Selma


6. Bill Moyers, Michael Winship: Netanyahu Speaks, Money Talks

Everything you need to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of one man – Sheldon Adelson.

The gambling tycoon is the Godfather of the Republican Right. The party’s presidential hopefuls line up to kiss his assets, scraping and bowing for his blessing, which when granted is bestowed with his signed checks. Data from both the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and the Center for Public Integrity show that in the 2012 election cycle, Adelson and his wife Miriam (whose purse achieved metaphoric glory Tuesday when it fell from the gallery and hit a Democratic congressman) contributed $150 million to the GOP and its friends, including $93 million to such plutocracy-friendly super PACs as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, the Congressional Leadership Fund, the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, Winning Our Future (the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC) and Restore Our Future (the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC).

Not only is this casino mogul the unofficial head of the Republican Party in America (“he with the gold rules”), he is the uncrowned King of Israel — David with a printing press and checkbook instead of a slingshot and a stone. All of this came to the fore in Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday: the US cannot determine its own policy in the Middle East and the majority in Congress are under the thumb of a foreign power.

Like a King Midas colossus, Sheldon Adelson bestrides the cause of war and peace in the most volatile region of the world. And this is the man who — at Yeshiva University in New York in 2013 — denounced President Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran and proposed instead that the United States drop an atomic bomb in the Iranian desert and then declare: “See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”

Everything you need to know about Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of that man. We are hostage to his fortune. 3/05/15 Read more at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/03/05/netanyahu-speaks-money-talks

7. Leslie H. Gelb: GOP Hates Obama More Than a Nuclear Iran

That letter to Iranian leaders from 47 Republican senators could well destroy critical bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy for years to come and treacherously undermine the bargaining power of the person constitutionally authorized to conduct American affairs abroad—the President of the United States. On top of what House Speaker John Boehner did by unilaterally inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, this letter seriously points to one terrible conclusion: A formidable number of congressional Republicans hate President Obama more than they love America.

These acts go entirely beyond legitimate criticism of presidential actions abroad. They are not like a few legislators wandering in foreign lands and expressing their disagreement with their government. They surely exceed the usual congressional resolutions of disagreement with presidential policy.

Beyond these negotiations, the effects on our national security may well be profound and lasting. Just look at the future implications of what these Republican senators said in their letter. They maintained, in effect, that this thing a president of the United States has been negotiating will either be thrown out by Congress or discarded by the next president, so don’t waste your time. Did the 47 even consider how future Congresses would apply such words to future presidents?

For one moment, did these senators think about how their actions could affect the ability of President Barack Obama to protect the safety of America? Did they consider how their insistence that he doesn’t matter affects his power to protect American interests and lives in the Middle East or NATO countries? These noble legislators were saying Mr. Obama doesn’t speak for Congress or the American people, and bad guys of the world, you can defy him and thus the United States however you wish.

The House Republicans who invited a foreign leader to Congress to attack the president of the United States, and the 47 Republican senators who undermined U.S. national security with their letter, can’t be expected to repent. Anyone who would do these things may well be beyond redemption. But Republican leaders who have effectively and nobly carried out U.S. foreign policy in the past and may do so in the future must step up now to protect America’s future. 3.10.15 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/10/open-letter-to-iran-shows-gop-senators-hate-obama-more-than-they-love-america.html


8. Ben Collins: The Campaign Cash That Can Kill the Open Internet

All but two of the 31 co-sponsors of a House bill to kill net neutrality received thousands from telecoms in just the last election cycle. Is their cash enough to end a free Web?

“The Internet Freedom Act” is a House bill intended to destroy newly instituted Net Neutrality rights. And of the bill’s 31 co-sponsors, all but two of them received money from a major telecom or its lobby in 2014 alone.

The 29 co-sponsors received over $800,000 from AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and their lobby, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

The bill was brought to the House floor by Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and 30 Republican colleagues. In the last year, Blackburn received $87,000 from those Internet service providers, or ISPs, and their lobby, through her campaign committee and her political action committee, MARSHA PAC. This included a maximum $25,000 donation from AT&T.

Five other co-sponsors received $50,000 or more in the same cycle. An FEC mandate caps donations at $10,000 per candidate for each company (or $25,000 for those with PACs).

The NCTA spent $196,500—or 28 percent of its total Republican House spending budget—funding just 23 co-sponsors of this bill. There are 245 Republicans in the House, and the NCTA donated campaign money to 126 in the 2014 election cycle.

The bill has virtually no chance of passing. President Obama insisted in this year’s State of the Union Address and in recent public comments he’d veto any legislation that would allow ISPs to block traffic or create a speed toll for competitors or consumers on the Web. This legislation would likely bar the FCC from the ability to enforce punishments for—let alone seek out wrongdoers of—that kind of anti-competitive behavior. 3/09/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/09/the-campaign-cash-that-can-kill-the-open-internet.html

9. Juan Williams: How conservatives capsized school reform

The House had planned a vote on the “Student Success Act” on the last Friday in February. 

After years of difficult debate, Republicans seemed to be on their way to passing a bill that at least provided a basis for future negotiations with the Senate. 

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) enthused that it was a “good conservative bill that empowers America and does not empower the bureaucracy here in Washington.”

But with the largest GOP majority in memory, the Speaker still could not get the votes to pass the bill and Republicans cancelled the vote. The Associated Press described it as a “political embarrassment for Republicans.”

It was a national embarrassment.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, managed to say only that he hoped to “finish this important work soon.” 

But House Republican leaders have not scheduled another vote.

That means years of work on school reform have gone up in smoke. Why? The answer is a purely ideological grandstand play in which Republicans demanded the bill completely eliminate the federal hand in dealing with failing schools.

What happened on Capitol Hill to the school reform bill is the biggest, most tragic sign in years of a broken Congress. 3/09/15 Read more at http://thehill.com/opinion/juan-williams/234979-juan-williams-how-conservatives-capsized-school-reform

10. Paul Waldman: Republicans are beginning to act as though Barack Obama isn’t even the president

It’s safe to say that no president in modern times has had his legitimacy questioned by the opposition party as much as Barack Obama. But as his term in office enters its final phase, Republicans are embarking on an entirely new enterprise: They have decided that as long as he holds the office of the presidency, it’s no longer necessary to respect the office itself.

Is that a bit hyperbolic? Maybe. But this news is nothing short of stunning:

A group of 47 Republican senators has written an open letter to Iran’s leaders warning them that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama’s administration won’t last after Obama leaves office.

Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber’s entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process.

It’s one thing to criticize the administration’s actions, or try to impede them through the legislative process. But to directly communicate with a foreign power in order to undermine ongoing negotiations? That is appalling. And just imagine what those same Republicans would have said if Democratic senators had tried such a thing when George W. Bush was president.

And it isn’t just in foreign affairs. In an op-ed last week in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Mitch McConnell urged states to refuse to comply with proposed rules on greenhouse gas emissions from the Environmental Protection Agency. Never mind that agency regulations like these have the force of law, and the Supreme Court has upheld the EPA’s responsibility under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions — if you don’t like the law, just act as though it doesn’t apply to you. “I can’t recall a majority leader calling on states to disobey the law,” said Barbara Boxer, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, “and I’ve been here almost 24 years.”

But as has happened so many times before, Republicans seem to have concluded that there is one set of rules and norms that apply in ordinary times, and an entirely different set that applies when Barack Obama is the president. You no longer need to show the president even a modicum of respect. You can tell states to ignore the law. You can sabotage delicate negotiations with a hostile foreign power by communicating directly with that power.

I wonder what they’d say if you asked them whether it would be acceptable for Democrats to treat the next Republican president that way. My guess is that the question wouldn’t even make sense to them. After all, that person would be a Republican. So how could anyone even think of such a thing? 3/09/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/03/09/republicans-are-beginning-to-act-as-though-barack-obama-isnt-even-the-president/


11. Steve Almond: The vast right-wing conspiracy is still real. Also, the media is really stupid

Let me start by admitting, upfront, how truly fucking boring I find the Hillary Clinton e-mail story. Not only is it unclear whether the former Secretary of State and future presidential candidate did anything illegal, but the fact that she’s willing to turn her emails over to the State Department casts doubt on the Republican fever dream that her now-infamous private in-box will contain mash notes from foreign donors to her husband’s foundation, or explicit instructions to her underlings to shred vital documents related to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

It’s not a non-story, exactly. It’s more like a fishing expedition, a la Whitewater and Travelgate and the Clinton Christmas card list.

The primary motive of such stories isn’t really to root out genuine instances of moral turpitude. It’s to retail a narrative of insinuation that sells newspapers and baits clicks, one that the press has been working for three decades solid when it comes to the Clintons.

Emailgate (as it will surely be dubbed) is a story that arises from confirmation bias—without the confirmation of wrongdoing. Because the media have portrayed the Clintons as slippery and secretive for so many years—masters of the massive cover-up!—we should all assume that Hillary doing business on her private email is slippery and secretive and evidence of some massive cover-up.

But if you look at the history of the Clinton scandals, none of them, other than the Lewinsky nonsense, ever amounted to a hill of beans. All they did was prove to American news consumers (and to Hillary in particular) that the media really were engaged in a “vast, right-wing conspiracy” to take her family down.

What the Hillary email kerfuffle demonstrates more broadly is the warped filter our Fourth Estate uses in making editorial decisions.

It may turn out that Hillary Clinton wanted a private email system so she could hide nefarious deeds. But it’s much more likely that this “scandal” will turn out to be more sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The beauty of scandalism, from a business perspective anyway, is that scandal stories don’t have to lead to a revelation of corruption to be considered successful. They don’t have to deliver on their promise, so long as the pitch is seductive enough to dominate the news cycle.

To use an analogy more appropriate to the milieu: scandalism is the journalistic equivalent of spam. 3/09/15 Read more at http://www.salon.com/2015/03/09/the_vast_right_wing_conspiracy_is_still_real_also_the_media_is_really_stupid/

12. Amy Davidson: Congress’s Poison-Pen Letter to Iran

Forty-seven senators, all of them Republicans, have sent a letter to Tehran that might be summarized this way: Dear Iran, Please don’t agree to halt your nuclear-weapons program, because we don’t like Barack Obama and, anyway, he’ll be gone soon. That may be shorthand, but it is not an exaggeration of either the tone or the intent of the letter, which was signed by the Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, as well as John McCain, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul.

What is the source of the crying need that certain members of Congress, particularly Republicans, feel to make sure that everybody, and every last mullah, knows that they are much more important than some guy named Barack Obama? One pictures Tom Cotton walking through the streets of Montreux, where John Kerry, the Secretary of State, has been doing his best to negotiate a deal that will keep Iran from getting the bomb, asking random strangers with briefcases, “Don’t you know who I am?” Iran and the United States have been in an intimate, often hostile embrace for half a century. The Iranians have been watching us pretty closely, through coups and revolutions and wars and hostage negotiations and the imposition of sanctions. (I wrote about the current talks, which resume this Sunday, in the magazine this week.) The Iranians were adept enough in their knowledge of American electoral politics to time the release of the American Embassy hostages, in January, 1981, to Ronald Reagan’s completion of his Inaugural Address. (Split screens in the news coverage showed a tired-looking Jimmy Carter, who had actually negotiated the deal, on the phone, while Nancy Reagan waved at the crowd.) They probably know that they would be signing an executive agreement, not a treaty that the Senate would ratify.

As with the invitation that John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, extended to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, to speak before Congress, it is not clear whether the primary impetus has to do with foreign policy or with partisan theatrics. Is the intention to scuttle the nuclear negotiations, without regard for the ugliness that it brings to our politics? Or is it to humiliate and insult President Obama, no matter the cost to the goal of nuclear nonproliferation—even if it means another bomb in the world? 3/09/15 Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/congress-letter-iran-nuclear-negotiations-netanyahu




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Feb 26 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #873


“It is impossible to say which is more appalling: Giuliani’s willful ignorance of Obama’s heritage (his grandfather served in World War II while his grandmother worked on a B-29 assembly line); Giuliani’s division of the country into right-thinking Americans (Republicans) and unworthy others; or Giuliani’s sense that he had hit on a winning political tactic in poking the hornet’s nest of haters. Rudy Giuliani loves America. But apparently he hates Barack Obama even more.” — NY Daily News 2/19/15

“Can you be your own man while sharing a last name with other men with complicated legacies inside and outside your own party? Can you be your own man while talking to the same men (and some of the women) who advised those other men during some of the low and high points of their foreign policies? Can a man who once famously said he never disagreed with anything his brother did as president find a few areas where he parts ways?” — Rick Klein on Jeb Bush’s candidacy. 2/19/2015

“Now that their predictions of doom and gloom and death panels and Armageddon haven’t come true — sky hasn’t fallen, Chicken Little’s quiet — the new plan apparently of congressional Republicans, and this is progress, the new plan is to rebrand themselves as the party of the middle class. Not making this up.” — President Barack Obama 2/20/15

“We know that Tehran knows the details of the talks. Now I tell you that Israel also knows the details of the proposed agreement. I think this is a bad agreement that is dangerous for the state of Israel, and not just for it.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who continues to go out of his way to attack the Obama administration. 2/20/14

“Okay. I didn’t know that’s how the economy worked, but maybe. We’ll call some economists.” — President Obama laughing off Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) recent suggestion that positive economic signs could be connected to the GOP’s sweeping victory in the 2014 midterm election. 2/20/15

“I don’t know. I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that. I’ve never asked him that. You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?” — Scott Walker on whether the president is a Christian or not. 2/21/15

“I’ve never asked the President so I don’t really know what his opinions are on that one way or another.” — Gov. Scott Walker on whether Obama loves America or not 2/21/15.

“Rudy has devolved into this red meat Republican base ideologue who periodically seems to need self identification. Maybe it is Rudy in his dotage, where he has lost whatever boundaries he once had. He sounds like a bitter old man.” — Douglas Muzzio, a political scientist at Baruch College and a New York City media commentator. 2/20/15


“Sen. McConnell promised the moon but delivered a box of rocks.” — Harry Reid’s spokesperson, Adam Jentleson, on Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) first month, which ranks as the least productive in the last five sessions of Congress, going back to 2007, with fewest bills passed, excluding resolutions, and fewest nominations confirmed by roll call votes. 2/23/15

“I’m still trying to decipher if this is God’s calling. You’ve got to be crazy to want to be president of the United States. You’ve got to be crazy. To look at what it does to a person and a family, you’ve got to be crazy. But you should only do it if you feel that God’s called you to get in there and make a difference.” — Gov. Scott Walker (R) 2/24/15

“Hey Rudy, why don’t you ask Osama bin Laden if President Obama loves America?” —Barbara Boxer@BarbaraBoxer 2/24/15

“The prime minister was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush. We all know what happened with that decision.” —Secretary of State John Kerry on Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of a hypothetical deal with Iran as a threat to Israel. 2/25/15

1. The Borowitz Report: Forgotten Man Seeks Attention

A largely forgotten man sought attention on Wednesday night before returning to obscurity on Thursday, according to reports.

Rudy Guillani, whom many Americans had difficulty placing, was making a desperate bid to remind people of his existence, experts believe.

His efforts were somewhat successful, as his widely reported outburst caused people across the country to rack their brains to try to remember who he was.

After briefly attempting to recall where they had seen the man before, many people gave up and moved on with their days, but for others, the desperate man’s remarks left a bitter aftertaste.

“There is no excuse for making comments like those, no matter who you are,” Tracy Klugian, forty-seven, of Springfield, Missouri, said. “Who is he again?”

Still others showed concern for the man, and expressed hope that, instead of future bids for attention, he would find fulfillment in crafting or some other harmless hobby.

LATER: In his weekly radio address, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his love of country, telling the nation, “I love America—even its idiots.” Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/



— “I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” — Former NY City Mayor Rudy GiulianI 2/19/15

— “If you are looking for someone to condemn the Mayor, look elsewhere.” — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). 2/19/15


“If the Republican Party really wants to be taken seriously…really wants to avoid its problems of the past…now is the time for its leaders to stop this kind of nonsense. Enough.” — DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl). 2/19/15

“It’s a hit piece. Everything I said about what I reported in South and Central America is true. Everything.” — Bill O’Reilly saying that the Mother Jones report about hesfalse claims about his Falklands War experience is “a piece of garbage” and that its principal author, David Corn, is a “despicable guttersnipe.” 2/19/15


“Bill O’Reilly is hiding behind name-calling, rather than dealing with the substance of the matter. Mother Jones sent him a long list of detailed questions about his comments regarding his experience as a war reporter. He and Fox News declined to respond. Instead, O’Reilly hurls invective, seemingly to distract. The basic issue is this: On repeated instances, O’Reilly said he was in the “war zone” during the Falklands conflict of 1982. Yet, according to his own colleagues at the time and other U.S. reporters working in Buenos Aires then, no American correspondent ever made it to the war zone, which was 1,200 miles away and far out at sea. Mother Jones simply compared O’Reilly’s assertions with the facts and identified a contradiction. He chooses to ignore that and to resort to insults. That doesn’t change the facts.” — David Corn. 2/19/15


“I don’t hear from him what I heard from Harry Truman, what I heard from Bill Clinton, what I heard from Jimmy Carter, which is these wonderful words about what a great country we are, what an exceptional country we are.“– Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani 2/19/15


— “These people are a part of me. And they are part of America, this country that I love.” — Barack Obama March 18, 2008

— “The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain.” — Barack Obama August 28, 2008

— “The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known.” — Barack Obama June 4, 2009

— “We keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon knowing that providence is with us and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.” — Barack Obama Sept. 6, 2012

— “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.  But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions.” — Barack Obama May 28, 2014

More from Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post Fact Checker at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2015/02/22/giulianis-false-claims-about-obamas-speeches/


3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Sean Hannity Defends Giuliani’s Claim That Obama Doesn’t Love America http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/19/sean-hannity-defends-giulianis-claim-that-obama/202576

O’Reilly Lashes Out At Critics Of His Falklands War Claims http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/20/oreilly-lashes-out-at-critics-of-his-war-falkla/202608

Bill O’Reilly: Former CBS News Correspondent Eric Engberg “Is A Coward” For Criticizing His Falklands War Reporting http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/22/bill-oreilly-former-cbs-news-correspondent-eric/202614

Former CBS News Colleague Calls O’Reilly’s Combat Claim “Absurd” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/23/former-cbs-news-colleague-calls-oreillys-combat/202624

Fox’s Katie Pavlich Echoes Giuliani: Obama Has A “Blame America First” Approach http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/23/foxs-katie-pavlich-echoes-giuliani-obama-has-a/202628

Conservative Media Use Mall Of America Threat To Promote Concealed Guns As A Terrorism Solution http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/24/conservative-media-use-mall-of-america-threat-t/202651

Fox News Rallies Behind Florist Who Refused To Serve Gay Couple http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/24/fox-news-rallies-behind-florist-who-refused-to/202649

O’Reilly Lied About Suicide Of JFK Assassination Figure, Former Colleagues Say http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/24/oreilly-lied-about-suicide-of-jfk-assassination/202655

Under Scrutiny For Fabrications, O’Reilly Shifts Focus To Claim Fox News Is Under Siege http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/24/under-scrutiny-for-fabrications-oreilly-shifts/202658

Limbaugh: Obama’s Race Gives Him “Blanket Amnesty” To Push “Illegal Executive Amnesty”http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/25/limbaugh-obamas-race-gives-him-blanket-amnesty/202669

4. Few Republicans Think Obama Is Christian

Alex Theodoridis reports on a poll that found 54% of Republicans said that “Muslim” best described what President Obama “believes deep down.” Thirty percent of Republicans answered the way Gov. Scott Walker did, by selecting “I don’t know.” Only 9% selected “Christian” to describe what Obama likely believes.

Interestingly, only 45% of Democrats chose “Christian,” while 17% said “spiritual,” 10% said “Muslim,” and 26% said they didn’t know. 2/25/15 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/02/25/scott-walkers-view-of-obamas-religion-makes-him-a-moderate/

5. Going back to the future in 2016?

Who among the nascent field of 2016 contenders represents the future?

Asked in a new CNN/ORC poll whether seven possible candidates better represent the future or the past, 50% said Clinton evoked the future, more than said so of any other candidate. By contrast, Joe Biden and Jeb Bush, whose names have been in the political conversation even longer than Clinton’s, were each seen as representing the past by 64% of Americans. 2/18/15 Read more at http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/18/politics/poll-2016-race-hillary-clinton-jeb-bush/index.html

6. Political Polarization in the American Public

Views of the president among members of the opposing party have become steadily more negative over time. Over the course of Obama’s presidency, his average approval rating among Democrats has been 81%, compared with just 14% among Republicans.

During Eisenhower’s two terms, from 1953-1960, an average of 49% of Democrats said they approved of the job the Republican president was doing in office. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, an average of 31% of Democrats approved of his job performance. And just over a quarter (27%) of Republicans offered a positive assessment of Clinton between 1993 and 2000. But the two most recent presidents – George W. Bush and Obama – have not received even this minimal level of support. 2/16/15 Read more at http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/02/16/presidential-job-approval-ratings-from-ike-to-obama/

7. Work of prominent climate change denier was funded by energy industry

Over the last 14 years Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, received a total of $1.25m from Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and a foundation run by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers.

According to newly released documents, the biggest single funder was Southern Company, one of the country’s biggest electricity providers that relies heavily on coal.

The documents draw new attention to the industry’s efforts to block action against climate change – including President Barack Obama’s power-plant rules.

Unlike the vast majority of scientists, Soon does not accept that rising greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial age are causing climate changes. He contends climate change is driven by the sun.

In the relatively small universe of climate denial Soon, with his Harvard-Smithsonian credentials, was a sought after commodity. He was cited admiringly by Senator James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who famously called global warming a hoax. He was called to testify when Republicans in the Kansas state legislature tried to block measures promoting wind and solar power. The Heartland Institute, a hub of climate denial, gave Soon a courage award. 2/21/15 Read more at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/21/climate-change-denier-willie-soon-funded-energy-industry


8. Walker Leads the GOP Pack

PPP’s newest national Republican poll finds a clear leader in the race for the first time: Scott Walker is at 25% to 18% for Ben Carson, 17% for Jeb Bush, and 10% for Mike Huckabee. Rounding out the field of contenders are Chris Christie and Ted Cruz at 5%, Rand Paul at 4%, and Rick Perry and Marco Rubio at 3%.

Walker has more than doubled his support since his 11% standing on our January national poll, and Carson has moved up 3 points.  Bush, Huckabee, Paul, and Perry have largely stayed in place while Cruz has dropped 4 points and Christie has dropped 2 points.

Walker is climbing fast in the polling because of his appeal to the most conservative elements of the Republican electorate. Among ‘very conservative’ voters he leads with 37% to 19% for Carson, 12% for Bush, and 11% for Huckabee. Bush has a similarly large lead over Walker with moderates at 34/12…the problem for Bush though is that there are two times more GOP primary voters who identify as ‘very conservative’ than there are ones who identify as moderates. 2/24/15 Read more at http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2015/02/walker-breaks-out-in-national-gop-race.html


9. Do Voters Believe Obama Loves America?

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 35% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with this statement made last week by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani – “I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Republican voters do not believe Obama loves the nation he leads. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Democrats and unaffiliated voters by a 48% to 33% margin say that’s not true. 2/24/15 Read more at http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/february_2015/



1. Dean Obeidallah: Why Calling ISIS Islamic Only Plays Into Its Hands

Takeaway from White House summit: ISIS and Al Qaeda want us to call them Islamic. It helps them recruit. Is this so hard to understand?

If you want to help ISIS and Al Qaeda, then call them Islamic. That’s one of my big takeaways from this week’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), which I attended on Wednesday.

Speakers at the CVE summit, which featured counterterrorism experts, elected officials including the Mayor of Paris, law enforcement, and Muslim leaders, offered a few reasons for this proposition.First, it’s simply inaccurate. As President Obama said as the closing speaker of the day, ISIS and Al Qaeda “no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism.” Obama also offered a sentiment very similar to the NRA mantra: Religion doesn’t kill people, people kill people.

I understand that some will dismiss that as political correctness. Well, maybe then these reasons will move those people. As Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) put it at the summit, ISIS wants us to believe its actions are based in Islam because it frames the conflict as a religious war between the West and Islam. This then enables these terror groups to claim they are the defenders of Islam, thus, assisting them in raising funds and attracting recruits.

But there’s another point raised subtly by some, including Obama, and more explicitly by Jordanian counterterrorism expert Suleiman Bakhit, whom I spoke to one on one, that has received little to no coverage in our media. ISIS and Al Qaeda not only want people in the Muslim world to think their actions are based on Islam, but they want Westerners to as well. Why? Because they hope that people will retaliate against Muslims living in the West for Al Qaeda and ISIS’ actions. If these Muslims are then subject to demonization, hate crimes or worse, the terrorists can tell Muslims: “See, the West hates Islam! That is why you should join us to fight them.” 2/19/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/19/why-calling-isis-islamic-only-plays-into-its-hands.html


2. Dana Milbank: Jeb adds to the quotable-Bush canon

Bush leads in the early GOP 2016 polls because his name is Bush, but that name could bring about his downfall, as well, because his brother’s tenure is remembered for misery in Iraq and economic collapse. Try though he did to differentiate himself from George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, John Ellis Bush’s delivery gave him away.

When he addressed the Chicago Council on Global Affairs luncheon at the Fairmont, he combined his father’s awkward oratory with his brother’s mangled syntax and malapropisms. Like his brother, he said “nucular” instead of “nuclear,” and he hunched over the lectern with both hands on it — but instead of exuding folksiness, as his brother does, he oozed discomfort.

A top priority, he explained, is “reforming a broken immigration system and turning it into an economic — a catalytic converter for sustained economic growth.”

Presumably he was reaching for “catalyst” but instead came up with an automotive emissions-control device.

“As we grow our presence by growing our ability to produce oil and gas,” Bush went on, “we also make it possible to lessen the dependency that Russia now has on top of Europe.”

Russia’s dependency on top of Europe? It was, in addition to being backward, a delightful echo of his brother’s belief that it is hard “to put food on your family.”

At another point, discussing NATO’s aggressive stance in the Baltics, Jeb explained that “I don’t know what the effect has been, because, you know, it’s really kind of hard to be out on the road, and I’m just a gladiator these days, so I don’t follow every little detail.”

Bush admitted that his foreign policy was still in the training phase. “Look, the more I get into this stuff, there are some things [where] you just go, you know, ‘Holy schnikes.’ ”

If he keeps talking like this, Americans may say the same of him. 2/18/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeb-bush-flubs-his-speech/2015/02/18/ff9ba502-b7ba-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html


3. Lloyd Grove: How Bill O’Reilly Keeps Getting Away With It

It doesn’t matter what accusations are leveled at the veteran Fox News host, whatever the new evidence he will shout it down louder than ever.

Poor Bill O’Reilly.

The beleaguered Fox News star—who in recent days has faced unwelcome scrutiny for his tall tales about covering the 1982 Falklands war, and on Tuesday had his veracity further challenged by a report that he fabricated an account of his journalistic exploits in his supposedly nonfiction book, Killing Kennedy—is upset that rival media outlets are being so mean and nasty to him.

By now, pretty much anybody who cares about such things knows that O’Reilly was either repeatedly and recklessly imprecise in publicly recalling his brief stint in Buenos Aires 32 years ago covering a riot of angry Argentines after the military junta surrendered to the British navy, or else he actively embellished his role as a rookie CBS News correspondent who supposedly dodged bullets while being chased by the Argentine army, faced down a young soldier pointing an M-16 at his head, and dragged his injured, bleeding cameraman to safety in the middle of a “combat situation”—while his colleagues cowered in their rooms at the Sheraton.

And yet, because he is Bill O’Reilly, he is grinning (or at least baring his teeth) through his personal apocalypse and brandishing a swift sword at his presumably contemptible enemies. Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, as he has so often during O’Reilly flaps of the past, is backing his boy to the hilt, having issued a statement that “Ailes and all senior management are in full support of Bill O’Reilly.” 2/25/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/25/how-o-reilly-keeps-getting-away-with-it.html


4. NY Daily News: Rudy Giuliani’s disgusting attack on Barack Obama

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. What the hell’s gotten into you? Something awful.

Odiously, New York’s former mayor declared on Wednesday evening that Barack Obama is a President who loves neither the U.S. nor many of its people.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the President loves America,” Giuliani told a dinner featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential Republican presidential contender.

Having descended into that deep, dark hole, where dismal people live, Giuliani continued: “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

It is impossible to say which is more appalling:

Giuliani’s willful ignorance of Obama’s heritage (his grandfather served in World War II while his grandmother worked on a B-29 assembly line); Giuliani’s division of the country into right-thinking Americans (Republicans) and unworthy others; or Giuliani’s sense that he had hit on a winning political tactic in poking the hornet’s nest of haters.

Rudy Giuliani loves America. But apparently he hates Barack Obama even more. 2/19/15 Read more at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/editorial-giuliani-disgusting-attack-obama-article-1.2121564


5. Erwin Chemerinsky, Samuel Kleiner: Texas judge’s immigration ruling is full of legal holes

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s decision to block the Obama plan to defer deportation for about 5 million immigrants here illegally ignores a basic principle of government: For better or worse, the executive branch of government always has discretion as to whether and how to enforce the law.

The judge’s lengthy opinion is wrong as a matter of law and, worse, is based on xenophobia and stereotypes about immigrants. It is very likely to be overturned by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and, if necessary, the Supreme Court.

Every president must set enforcement priorities on immigration, choosing whom to prosecute or whom to deport. No administration brings prosecutions against all who violate the law. Resources make that impossible, and there are laws on the books that should not be enforced.

Nor has any administration, Democratic or Republican, sought to deport every person who is illegally in the United States. For humanitarian reasons or because of foreign policy considerations or for lack of resources, the government often chooses not to bring deportation actions. In fact, as recently as three years ago, the Supreme Court in United States vs. Arizona recognized that an inherent part of executive control over foreign policy is the ability of the president to choose whether to bring deportation proceedings.

That is exactly what President Obama’s executive orders on immigration have done. He has announced that the federal government will not seek to deport 600,000 young people who were illegally brought to the U.S. as children, or the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have resided in the country for at least five years. Millions of parents would be able to remain with their children because of this order and not need to live every day in fear of deportation. 2/19/15 Read more at http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-chemerinsky-obama-immigration-injunction-2-20150219-story.html

6. John Cassidy: The Dangerous Candidacy of Scott Walker

Let’s stipulate up front that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is an odious politician whose ascension to the Presidency would be a disaster.

Set aside, for a moment, his repeated refusal, in the past few days, to say whether he believes that President Obama loves America, or whether he believes that the President is a Christian, and look instead at Walker’s record running what used to be one of America’s more progressive states. Having cut taxes for the wealthy and stripped many of Wisconsin’s public-sector unions of their collective-bargaining rights, he is now preparing to sign a legislative bill that would cripple unions in the private sector. Many wealthy conservatives, such as the Koch brothers, who have funnelled a lot of money to groups supporting Walker, regard him as someone who’s turning his state into a showcase for what they want the rest of America to look like.

Having cemented his reputation as an economic conservative, Walker is busy making a concerted effort to win over social conservatives and evangelical Christians, some of whom apparently believe that Obama is the Antichrist (or perhaps the Seventh King). Earlier this month, during a trip to London, he refused to say whether he believed in evolution, commenting: “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in, one way or the other.” In addition to making that hat tip to the Book of Genesis brigade, Walker has been reiterating his opposition to gay marriage and taking a notably harder line on abortion than he did during his gubernatorial reëlection campaign, last year. In a recent meeting with Iowa Republicans, the Times reported earlier this week, he stressed his support for a “personhood amendment” that would define life as beginning at conception and effectively outlaw the termination of pregnancies.

It’s still early, very early, of course. But Walker is an ambitious and determined politician who has already been through one tough race—his 2012 recall election—that subjected him to a great deal of media attention and hostility from Democrats. Thanks to his ties to the conservative plutocracy, he’s almost certainly going to have some serious money behind him, and he is trying to pitch his campaign in the sweet spot of G.O.P. primaries, where conservatism and antagonism toward coastal élites meets electability. He has the advantage of youthfulness, at age forty-seven, and, finally, as he pointed out to a convention of Christian broadcasters on Monday, he is, “unlike some out there,” a self-made fellow who “didn’t inherit fame or fortune from my family.” That jab was presumably aimed at Jeb Bush, but if Walker were to get the G.O.P. nomination, it could be modified and directed at Hillary Clinton, assuming that she wins the Democratic nomination.

For all his awfulness, Walker is a serious contender. We’d better get used to it. 2/24/15 Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/dangerous-candidacy-scott-walker


7. Maureen Dowd: Jeb Bush’s Brainless Trust

Jeb is bristling with Jane Austen-style condescension, acting as though he would still be where he is if his last name were Tree. The last two presidents in his party were his father and brother, and his brother crashed the family station wagon into the globe, and Jeb is going to have to address that more thoroughly than saying “there were mistakes made in Iraq for sure.”

He says he doesn’t want to focus on “the past,” and who can blame him? But how can he talk about leading America into the future if he can’t honestly assess the past, or his family’s controversial imprint?

In his speech, he blamed President Obama for the void that hatched ISIS, which he also noted didn’t exist in 2003 at the dawn of “the liberation of Iraq.” Actually, his brother’s invasion of Iraq is what spawned Al Qaeda in Iraq, which drew from an insurgency of Sunni soldiers angry about being thrown out of work by the amateurish and vainglorious viceroy, Paul Bremer.

Although Jeb likes to act as though his family is irrelevant to his ambitions, Bushworld stalwarts recite the Bush dynasty narrative like a favorite fairy tale:

The wonky Jeb, not the cocky W., was always 41’s hope. H.W. and Bar never thought W., unprepared, unruly and with a chip on his shoulder, would be president. His parents’ assumption that he was The One got in Jeb’s head and now the 62-year-old feels he needs “to try to correct and make up for some of W.’s mistakes,” as one family friend put it. The older Bush circle seems confident that Jeb sided with his father and Brent Scowcroft on the folly of letting the neocons push America into diverting from Osama to Saddam.

If he wants to reclaim the Bush honor, Jeb should be holding accountable those who inflicted deep scars on America, not holding court with them.

Where’s the shame?

For some reason, Jeb doesn’t see it. 2/21/15 Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/opinion/sunday/maureen-dowd-jeb-bushs-brainless-trust.html


8. Peter Beinart: What Does Obama Really Mean by ‘Violent Extremism’?

Sometimes we overlook the obvious. For weeks now, pundits and politicians have been raging over President Obama’s insistence that America is fighting “violent extremism” rather than “radical Islam.” Rudy Giuliani calls the president’s refusal to utter the ‘I’ word “cowardice.” The president’s backers defend it as a savvy refusal to give ISIS the religious war it desperately wants. But, for the most part, both sides agree that when Obama says “violent extremists” he actually means “violent Muslim extremists.” After all, my Atlantic colleague David Frum argues, “The Obama people, not being idiots, understand very well that international terrorism possesses an overwhelmingly Muslim character.”

But what if they don’t? What if Obama is using the term “violent extremism” rather than “radical Islam” not only because he doesn’t want to offend moderate Muslims, but because he’s also worried about violent extremists who aren’t Muslim? It sounds crazy, but it shouldn’t.

Why does this matter? Because the U.S. government has finite resources. If you assume, as conservatives tend to, that the only significant terrorist threat America faces comes from people with names like Mohammed and Ibrahim, then that’s where you’ll devote your time and money. If, on the other hand, you recognize that environmental lunatics and right-wing militia types kill Americans for political reasons too, you’ll spread the money around.

Instead of assuming that these threats are the same, we should be debating the relative danger of each. By using “violent extremism” rather than “radical Islam,” Obama is staking out a position in that argument. It’s a position with which reasonable people can disagree. But cowardice has nothing to do with it. 2/20/15 Read more at http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/02/obama-violent-extremism-radical-islam/385700/


9. Eugene Robinson: The GOP’s Self-Deception

Republicans had better divert some of their campaign cash toward finding a cure for Obama Derangement Syndrome. If they don’t, their nemesis will beat them in a third consecutive presidential contest — without, of course, actually being on the ballot.

GOP power brokers and potential candidates surely realize that President Obama is ineligible to run in 2016. Yet they seem unable to get over the fact that he won in 2008 and 2012. It’s as if they are more interested in vainly trying to rewrite history than attempting to lay out a vision for the future.

Obama Derangement Syndrome is characterized by feverish delirium. The Republican Party suffered an episode last week when former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani began speaking in tongues about Obama’s patriotism.

Giuliani’s burst of nonsense is important because it speaks to the Republican Party’s mindset. If the party is going to contend for the White House, it first has to fully acknowledge and accept that it lost the last two presidential elections. The nation voted twice for Obama and his policies. Deal with it.

Republicans need to abandon the fantasy that there’s some sort of grand deception underlying the Obama presidency. They’re only deceiving themselves. 2/24/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/02/24/the_gops_self-deception_125711.html


10. President Obama: Moving forward to fix our broken immigration system

Congress would seek to govern responsibly by supporting common-sense solutions to one of our country’s greatest challenges, just like President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tried to nearly a decade ago. Instead, we’ve seen a series of votes to deport Dreamers, young people who are American in every way except on paper. We’ve even heard irresponsible threats to shut down the Department of Homeland Security, the very agency tasked with securing our borders and keeping Americans safe in a time of new threats, for no reason other than partisan disagreement over my actions.

It’s time to end the era of manufactured crises, put politics aside and focus on doing what’s best for America. So while I will fight any attempt to turn back the progress we’ve made or break up families across our country, I welcome the opportunity to work with anyone who wants to build on the improvements we’ve put in place, and fix our broken immigration system once and for all.

Throughout our history, America’s tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants has continually shaped us for the better. If we renew that tradition, and build upon it for future generations, there’s no limit to what we can achieve. 2/24/15 http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/233585-moving-forward-to-fix-our-broken-immigration-system



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Feb 19 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #872


“I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other.” — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), responding to a British moderator who asked him if he believes in evolution.

“Boehner has no one to blame but himself. He’s the one who let the House GOP’s crazy caucus, chaired by Rep. Steve King, lead the charge on attaching anti-immigrant riders that will increase the deficit to the Homeland Security funding bill.” — Kerry Eleveld in the Daily Kos on Rep. Boehner who is not only blaming Democrats for failure to pass the DHS funding bill, but also pointing the finger at Senator Mitch McConnell. 2/12/15

“I won’t talk about the past. I’ll talk about the future. If I’m in the process of considering the possibility of running, it’s not about re-litigating anything in the past. It’s about trying to create a set of ideas and principles that will help us move forward.” — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who isn’t interested in talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially as it relates to his brother. 2/14/15


“This power over marriage, which came from God under our organic law, is not to be redefined by the United States Supreme Court or any federal court.” — Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore saying that he wouldn’t be bound by a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. 2/15/15

“I’m just not that scared of sticking to principles and filling campaign promises that we made back home, irrespective of what leadership tells us to do here.” — Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fl), representing the views of hard-line GOP conservatives on the possibility of Department of Homeland Security shutdown. 2/15/15

“And, if he does stand in the way, particularly of things that are vital to the security of this country, then I think we can start talking about treason. If things are done to the contrary to the security of this country, whoever does them is guilty of treason.” — Potenital presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson 2/17/15

“The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts, and the district court in Washington, D.C. have determined that the President’s actions are well within his legal authority.Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision.” —White House spokesman Josh Earnest on the Texas Court ordered halt to President Obama’s executive actions to shield more than four million people from the possibility of deportation. 2/17/15

“There’s a lot at stake for our communities. This is not only a blow to those who would benefit and their families, but it’s a blow to all of us and the chance to build a stronger and more cohesive community because these are our neighbors—they live among us, they go to church with us, they’re next to us at the movies and the grocery store.” — Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to “stop” his obsession with targeting immigrant communities. 2/18/15 s

1. The Borowitz Report: Bush Says He Will Harm Nation Differently from His Brother

In an effort to distance himself from the legacy of his brother, George W. Bush, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will use a major foreign-policy speech on Wednesday to assert that, if elected President, he would harm the nation in completely different ways.

“A lot of people are looking at me and thinking that I’m just going to be a rerun of my brother,” Bush told reporters before the speech. “They are greatly underestimating my ability to create chaos and destruction in ways that are uniquely mine.”

As an example, Bush said, he was unlikely to invade Iraq for a third time, calling such an action “too derivative.”

“George already did it, and Dad did it before him,” he said. “Call it my independent streak, if you will, but I want to spawn some disasters of my own.”

To that end, Bush said that he and his foreign-policy team were already scanning the globe for “new and different places” where the United States could become involved in open-ended and pointless quagmires.

“I see boundless opportunities for the reckless and totally optional insertion of American military force,” he said. “No offense to my brother, but there were a few spots that George missed.” Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/


“Texas has been criticized for having a large number of uninsured, but that’s what Texans wanted.” — Rick Perry (R) 2/11/15


More than 1 million people have signed up for ObamaCare plans in Texas in 2015, an 80 percent increase over last year. — The Hill 2/11/15


“So, we’re surrendering around the world, we’re surrendering our embassy, and now we’re asking U.S. Marines to surrender their dignity, give up oaths that they made, creeds that they live by, and surrender their rifle. … Who thought it was right thing for Marines to hand over their weapons to Yemeni officials before evacuating the country. Someone botched the plan. … It is maddening how naive this administration is.” — Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth on Fox’s The Kelly File. 2/11/15


“All crew served weapons were destroyed at the embassy prior to movement. None of them were ‘handed over’ in any way to anyone. The destruction of weapons at the embassy and the airport was carried out in accordance with an approved destruction plan. To be clear: No Marine handed a weapon to a Houthi, or had one taken from him.” — Marine Corps statement 2/11/15


“The Republicans — if there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown — we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans.’” — Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Il) on 2/10/15


“I generally agree with the Democratic position here.” — Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) on 2/12/15 after a poll showed that Illinois voters approved of Obama’s immigration measures 62-30.


“Once you start doing that [paying ransom], then everybody, every American citizen traveling abroad becomes a subject in regard for kidnapping and then the plight of how much money has been captivated in the Boca Raton group.” — Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). 2/11/14


“While I’m pleased that the congressman from Arizona would have the name of Boca Raton on his lips, I am disappointed that he would confuse our vibrant, beautiful city with a movement promoting Islamist insurgency in Nigeria.” — Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie saying she is unfamiliar with the group in her city. 2/11/14

3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Limbaugh Advises Scott Walker To Say He Left College To Avoid Being “Accused Of Rape”http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/12/limbaugh-advises-scott-walker-to-say-he-left-co/202516

Fox Business Host: Food Stamp Program Is A “Deliberate” Effort To Buy Votes http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/12/fox-business-host-food-stamp-program-is-a-delib/202508

Limbaugh Furious That Republicans “Were Never Really Willing To Shut Down” Homeland Security Over Obama’s Immigration Action http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/11/limbaugh-furious-that-republicans-were-never-re/202493

Fox’s Erick Erickson Rallies Supporters Behind Anti-Gay License-To-Discriminate Laws http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/13/foxs-erick-erickson-rallies-supporters-behind-a/202527

Fox News Plagiarizes RNC’s Hillary Clinton Attack Campaign http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/13/fox-news-plagiarizes-rncs-hillary-clinton-attac/202523

Megyn Kelly On Jon Stewart Leaving The Daily Show: “I Don’t Think Overall He’s Been A Force For Good” … “In His Later Years He Got A Little Nasty”http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/13/megyn-kelly-on-jon-stewart-leaving-the-daily-sh/202537

Cue Conservative Media Outrage Over Obama’s Selfie, Use Of “YOLO” In BuzzFeed Video http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/02/13/cue-conservative-media-outrage-over-obamas-self/202531

Right-Wing Media Attack Obama For Tying Terror To Poverty Years After Bush Made The Same Connection http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/02/17/right-wing-media-attack-obama-for-tying-terror/202548

The Unbearable Stupidity Of Obama’s “Muslim Gang Sign”http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/18/the-unbearable-stupidity-of-obamas-muslim-gang/202550

4. ObamaCare signups surge in southern states

Signups for ObamaCare are surging in southern states, with increases of nearly 100 percent in some states compared to last year, federal health officials said Wednesday.

Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and Mississippi have each seen 80 percent more signups compared to last year, Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt said.

The trend is particularly significant given that the Republican governors in each of the states have made little or no effort to promote signups, leaving the outreach to state and national healthcare advocacy groups. State leaders, like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, have been some of the law’s harshest critics.

“Real simply, I think word is spreading. I think word of mouth is spreading really positively as neighbors tell neighbors how easy it’s been to get coverage this year,” Slavitt told reporters in a briefing Wednesday. 2/11/15 Read more at http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/232489-obamacare-signups-surge-in-southern-states

5. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“A new report says that last year Colorado collected $44 million in marijuana taxes. Unfortunately, they can’t remember where they put it.” –Conan O’Brien

“Axelrod also said in his new book that Obama lied to Americans to get votes in 2008 when he said he opposed gay marriage. Of course, Republicans have already turned it into a scandal: BenGayZi. It’s trending right now.” –Jimmy Fallon

“A lawmaker in Tennessee is pushing to make the Bible the official state book. It would replace Tennessee’s current state book, the menu at Cracker Barrel.” –Seth Meyers

“Never again will Brian Williams mislead this great nation about being shot at in a war we probably wouldn’t have ended up in if the media had applied this level of scrutiny to the actual f**king war.” –Jon Stewart


“There’s a rumor that NBC is going to have Tom Brokaw fill in temporarily as the NBC News anchor. When asked why, a network spokesperson said, ‘Because the only other NBC person we have is Bill Cosby.'” –Conan O’Brien

“Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has released all of his emails. I’d like to release all of my emails. I’ve got nothing but emails about low-cost funerals and Viagra.” –David Letterman

“Now people want Brian Williams to resign, but it could have a happy ending. Apparently what he said was such a blatant departure from the truth, today he got an offer from Fox News.” –Bill Maher

“House Speaker John Boehner said the Republican Party will no longer stand in the way of gay marriage. Then Boehner said, ‘Now can I go to Elton John’s Oscar party?'” –Conan O’Brien

“At today’s National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama and the Dalai Lama avoided a direct meeting. Uh-oh, sounds like there may be some Obama-Lama drama.” –Seth Meyers

6. The GOP’s War against gay rights (Continued)

“The Arkansas legislature gave its final thumbs up Friday to a bill that would block cities and counties from enacting anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people,” 2/13/15 Read more at http://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/arkansas-legislature-passes-bill-allowing-lgbt-discriminatio


7. President Obama’s BuzzFeed video: Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About


8. The Top 10 ‘SNL’ Political Sketches Of All Time


9. GOP Governors Propose Raising Taxes on Poor

A number of Republican-led states are considering tax changes that in many cases would have the effect of cutting taxes on the rich and raising them on the poor.

Of the 10 or so Republican governors who have proposed tax increases, nearly all have called for increases in consumption taxes, which hit the poor and middle class harder than the rich. 2/14/15 Read more at http://politicalwire.com/2015/02/14/gop-governors-propose-raising-taxes-poor/

10. Republicans Losing Another Shutdown Showdown

In our experience, there’s a simple rule to follow to make sense of any shutdown showdown: The side that’s divided usually loses. And Republicans are the ones who are divided in the battle over funding the Department of Homeland Security — over whether or not to include riders overturning Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Playing politics with security is always problematic. But it’s doubly problematic when your party is divided. 2/16/15 Read more at http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/walker-bush-meet-your-republican-presidential-frontrunners-n306981

11. Republicans Unable to Get Congress Working

After six weeks in session and 139 roll call votes in a House and Senate that feature some of the largest Republican majorities in generations, one of the most telling statistics from the new Congress is this: President Obama’s veto threats outnumber the bills Congress has been able to send him.

When Republicans swept into power last November, they promised a new era of productivity and discipline that would break four years of gridlock… But far from striking a bold contrast with the last two terms of stalemate, congressional Republicans have quickly run into familiar obstacles, including partisan paralysis and party infighting.” 2/16/15 Read more at http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-gop-congress-assessment-20150215-story.html#page=1

12. The Five Most Memorable Eviscerations From Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’ Run


13. Survey | Roughly Three-Quarters of Americans Favor Goals of Obama’s Immigration Action

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Americans say Republicans in Congress should prioritize passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation over legislation that would overturn Obama’s immigration policies. Seventeen percent say Republicans in Congress should prioritize undoing Obama’s immigration policies. http://publicreligion.org/research/2015/02/survey-roughly-three-quarters-favor-substance-behind-obamas-immigration-reform/

14. Blame Would Fall on GOP for Shutdown

A new CNN/ORC poll finds Republicans in Congress would shoulder the blame for a shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security more than President Obama if they are unable to enact a new spending bill to keep the agency running, 53% to 30%. Another 13% say both deserve the blame. 2/17/14 http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/17/politics/poll-dhs-funding-gop/index.html

15. Jeb Bush’s foreign policy team is eerily familiar, in one Venn diagram




1. Peter Beinart: Is Jeb Bush Buying the Nomination?

Jeb’s weaknesses are hiding in plain sight. They’ve just been obscured by his dazzling success in raising cash.

If Bush’s well-known last name did not provide him with such epic fundraising capacity, in fact, he’d be George Pataki: a dull, moderately conservative former governor of a large state who has been out of politics for a while.

In winning the money primary, Bush is crowding out potential candidates with greater appeal to actual voters. Consider Marco Rubio. He’s a more natural politician. Despite an immigration stance similar to Bush’s, he has a stronger connection to the GOP’s conservative base. And given his youth and lack of connections to previous Republican administrations, he would naturally embody change. Yet as a fellow Floridian, Rubio is the candidate Jeb hurts the most.

On ideological grounds, Republicans generally hate public financing of campaigns. But in 2016, they need it more than Democrats. Right now, the people with the greatest influence over the GOP’s next presidential nominee are caucusing not in Sioux City but Central Park West. And they’re choosing the wrong guy. 2/12/15 Read more at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/is-jeb-bush-buying-the-nomination/385433/


2. John Cassidy: On Immigration, the G.O.P. Won’t Take “You Win” for an Answer

Back in June, 2013, the Senate, with the encouragement and involvement of the White House, passed a comprehensive immigration bill that had the support of fourteen Republicans, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio. The legislation included funds for twenty thousand new border-patrol agents and seven hundred miles of electric fencing. And it provided a convoluted, thirteen-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who could show that they had obeyed the law and paid their taxes. It died in the House of Representatives, and eventually the White House looked for a way to do an end-run around Congress.

If Boehner and his colleagues resurrected and passed the Senate bill tomorrow, Obama would sign it in an instant. It’s not going to happen, of course, and that’s why Hanen’s ruling, although it has given Republicans something to cheer about, could end up helping to deprive them of the White House. If the new deportation system were to go into effect as planned, it would have been up and running for more than eighteen months come Election Day, and there wouldn’t have been any real prospect of it being reversed. Like Obamacare, another Republican hate object, it would have become a fact on the ground.

Now everything is up in the air again, which means that immigration will be a central issue in 2016. That can’t be good news for the Republicans. .2/18/15 Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/immigration-gop-wont-take-you-win-for-answer

3. Simon Maloy: Republicans in disarray: GOP can’t quite decide who’s to blame for a govt. shutdown

We’re about two weeks shy from the deadline for funding the Department of Homeland Security, and the chances of sending DHS into a “shutdown” grow larger with each passing moment. Republicans in the House keep insisting that funding for the department be tied to legislation undoing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and Republicans in the Senate can’t overcome Democratic filibusters.

The whole legislative process is stalled, and you all know what that means: it’s time to start working the refs and preemptively affixing blame for once again failing to perform the basic functions of government. The Republicans are trying their damnedest to pin this all on the Democrats, but they’re being tripped up by the fact that they also can’t stop blaming themselves.

So who will be to blame for a shutdown at DHS? Well, the straightforward assessment of the situation is that DHS would already be funded if the Republicans weren’t adamant about using the appropriations bill to force a showdown with the president (a showdown they wouldn’t win even if their bill passed the Senate). But blame is also contingent upon how the public perceives the conflict, and right now the GOP is in complete disarray in its messaging efforts, to say nothing of its legislative strategy. “Unless they can …get a bill passed that forces a presidential veto, Republicans are likely to own any shutdown of DHS,” NBC News concluded. The GOP can’t do that, but they seem hell bent on keeping the circular firing squad going for as long as they can before they inevitably give in. 2/12/15 Read more at http://www.salon.com/2015/02/12/republicans_in_disarray_gop_cant_quite_decide_whos_to_blame_for_a_govt_shutdown/


4. Ed Rogers: The Insiders: Why is immigration so hard for Republicans to get?

It is only a month into the 114th Congress and it is no surprise there is already trouble within the GOP ranks over how to handle immigration. As the Wall Street Journal rightly pointed out, “the only winners of GOP dysfunction will be Mr. Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.” Listening to some of the rhetoric, you could almost believe that some within the GOP caucus think anything short of capital punishment or complete expulsion of all illegal immigrants is “amnesty.” So what is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to do?

To state the obvious, McConnell needs to convince Senate Republicans that they are not going to get everything they want in a bill. President Obama’s executive actions are a reason to pass immigration reform, not a reason not to. And the last thing we need is for all funding for the Department of Homeland Security to be cut off because Congress can’t reach a compromise. Allowing DHS funding to expire would have the equivalent effect of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shutting down the government over Obamacare in 2013. And, as my friend, the former governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour says, “You don’t learn much from the second kick of a mule.” If DHS funding expires, it will hurt Republicans and help the Democrats. Period.

The feud over immigration reform is alienating voters from the Republican Party. The mainstream media will make excuses for Democrats until they are blue in the face, but Republicans don’t have that same layer of protection. Democrats can get away with making statements like those from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who told Politico that Democratic votes to block the Republican legislation to fund the DHS isn’t actually filibustering because, “We’re not just stopping things to stop it. We feel that we’re actually being constructive.”  Sound familiar? Isn’t that what Republicans were blasted for when they were in the minority? But here we are. Republicans need to tread carefully, make good decisions and pass something — or the 114th Congress could hurt the GOP in the run-up to 2016. 2/12/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/02/12/the-insiders-why-is-immigration-so-hard-for-republicans/

5. Julian Zelizer: ‘Get your government hands off my Obamacare’

It is possible to imagine that several decades from now, when a Democratic president sends a proposal to Congress that would require cuts in the Affordable Care Act, a right-wing activist will say: “Get your government hands off my Obamacare!”

That’s almost exactly what happened in 2009 and 2010 when conservatives fought President Obama’s health care proposal by warning that it would require cuts to Medicare.

In recent months, we’ve seen how ACA continues to become entrenched in our political system. A sizable number of Republican governors in red states are now allowing the expansion of Medicaid under ACA to take place. For a while this seemed unlikely. In 2012, the Supreme Court struck a blow to ACA by ruling that the expansion of Medicaid was optional. Many Republican governors vowed they would not allow Medicaid to grow.

Recently, the congressional Republicans voted for the 56th time to repeal Obamacare. Each vote looks more futile than the next, each making the GOP seem disconnected from political reality. As more voters, health care providers and government officials come to depend on the benefits from these programs, the weaker the opponents will be. “They’re baaaaaying at the moon, 56th time,” quipped House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Many of the nation’s biggest domestic programs, like ACA, start in a heated political atmosphere. But history shows these programs can become part of the status quo, with those receiving their benefits becoming a powerful force for their continuation. 2/09/15 Read more at http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/09/opinion/zelizer-obamacare-bet-succeeds/index.html


6. Nancy LeTourneau: McConnell Is Blowing It…Big Time

My take on Sen. Mitch McConnell has always been that he is not so interested in issues/policies as he is in the power game of politics. That approach was never on display more clearly than when he said that his number one goal was to ensure that Obama was a one-term president – in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Given that, I will credit McConnell with being a good strategist. No matter how bad his total obstructionist tactics were for the country, they were a fairly effective power play. That’s why it’s been so fascinating to watch him fail so miserably lately.

McConnell’s initial strategy was to paint President Obama as the new obstructionist by forcing him to veto legislation that would otherwise undo his agenda. But that is getting all gummed up by either the Democrats in the Senate standing strong or the lunatic caucus in his party making compromise impossible. The Majority Leader finds himself between a rock and a hard place and can’t seem to get much of anything to the President’s desk.

So the spectacle voters are witnessing right now is a Democratic President who is busy getting things done while Congress is gridlocked and McConnell whines that Democrats in the Senate won’t let him get anything done.

In other words, you’re blowing it McConnell…big time! 2/14/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2015_02/mcconnell_is_blowing_itbig_tim054177.php

7. Danny Vinik: Republicans Are So Desperate, They’re Blaming Obama for Income Inequality

The Republican Party’s newfound attack on Obama over rising income inequality is especially strange because it ignores his greatest legislative achievement, which has improved the lives of millions of poor Americans. Yes, I mean Obamacare, the benefits of which accrue almost entirely to the poor. 

Those benefits don’t show up in income inequality statistics, so Republicans can still point to falling real wages as evidence that Obama’s agenda has hurt the poor. But once you think that argument through, it crumbles quite quickly.

That holds true for most Republican arguments about Obama’s economic agenda right now. Stephen Moore, the chief economist for the Heritage Foundation, on Sunday ran through a host of statistics that are supposedly evidence of Obama’s failed policies: that the recovery has been slow compared to past recoveries; that inflation is actually rising; that inequality has worsened; that the rate of business creation has dropped; that Americans no longer think their kids will have better lives than them; that the national debt has grown by trillions of dollars; that young Americans have dropped out of the labor force; that divorce rates have risen; and that entitlement spending is increasing.

That’s quite a list! And just about all of it is wrong.

Expect to hear many of these arguments over the next few years. But they are all easily disproven. Americans are finally beginning to look at Obama’s economic agenda as a success. Boehner’s argument and Moore’s article show how little ammunition the right has to combat the Democrats’ message. 1/26/15 Read more at http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120855/republicans-blame-obama-income-inequality-ignoring-recession


8. Michael Tomasky: W’s Wars: Is Jeb His Brother’s Keeper?

The ex-president’s brother thinks he shouldn’t have to address all the bloodshed his brother caused. Sorry, Jeb: That’s insane.

I wouldn’t want to talk about the past either, if I were John Ellis Bush. I trust you caught that little moment last Friday, when he said, in response to questions about his “major foreign policy speech” coming this Wednesday, that running for president is not about “re-litigating anything in the past.”

Right. As Daniel Larison pointed out, no one running for president should be allowed to get anywhere near the Oval Office without giving voters a very full understanding of their assessment of American foreign policy in these last tumultuous and sanguinary 15 years. But for someone named Bush, that goes triple. It would be like Bernie Madoff’s brother trying to get a seat on the stock exchange while insisting that the past was irrelevant.

All right, Madoff is a bit of a stretch, I guess. But only a bit. We—the United States of America, under George W. Bush and his lieutenants—unleashed oceans of mayhem on the world, leading to many tens of thousands of deaths; leading to the rise of ISIS, which grew directly out of the failure of our favored government in Baghdad to deal reasonably with the Sunni population; and leading, finally, to some of the most shameful moments in modern American history (torture, black sites, and the rest). Gee, now that I put it that way, I think I actually insulted Madoff, who only stole money. The George W. Bush government did that too, in essence, with its $2 trillion, off-the-books war, on a scale Madoff could never have dreamed. 2.16.15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/16/where-does-jeb-stand-on-w-s-wars.html

9. Alex Isenstadt: The war on Jeb Bush

The war on Jeb Bush is on.

Rand Paul is attacking him as a hypocrite on marijuana who’s indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz is questioning whether Bush’s stands on education and immigration will fly with primary voters. Conservative outside groups are going after him, with one airing a TV ad declaring, “We do not want dynasties in our White House.”

For most of the past year, the Republican 2016 nomination fight had been seen as a free-for-all among a half-dozen or so viable candidates with no clear favorite. But in a matter of weeks it’s morphed into a collection of would-be Bush rivals and detractors ganging up on the early front-runner in hopes of blunting his momentum.

There are huge question marks surrounding Bush, from his controversial surname to positions on issues that may be deal-stoppers for conservative early-state voters. Yet big donors are lining up behind him, and top political staffers are signing up for campaign jobs. He’s become the man to beat practically out of the starting block — an enviable position but one that’s put a bull’s-eye on his back. 2/12/15 Read more at Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/the-war-on-jeb-bush-115159.html

10. Hanna Rosin: Among the Hillary Haters

Republicans don’t need a deep sense of history to see that Clinton disdain is like an infectious disease: if it rages out of control, it can easily kill its host. Stories about lesbian encounters in a White House shower or crack pipes meant as ornaments for a White House Christmas tree (both from the former FBI agent Gary Aldrich’s 1996 book, Unlimited Access) may sell, but they won’t win an election. In addition to obscuring justified accusations of wrongdoing, such tawdry tales are likely to elicit sympathy for Hillary Clinton, especially in an age when trashing a prominent woman typically carries some cultural penalty. Also, the re-airing of any of the wilder Clinton conspiracy theories is likely to harm the messenger more than the target. Take Representative Dan Burton of Indiana: though he served 30 years in Congress, he will forever be known as “Watermelon Dan” for shooting a melon with a revolver in his backyard, as part of his attempt to prove that the Clintons’ friend Vince Foster did not commit suicide but was instead murdered because he could implicate them in Whitewater.

Republicans particularly dread loose cannons at this political moment. In the 2012 elections, various off-the-cuff candidate musings (for instance, speculation about “legitimate rape” by Representative Todd Akin of Missouri) made the entire party look backwards and loony, and it paid a price in lost congressional seats. In 2014, the GOP was determined not to make the same mistakes—and for the most part, it didn’t. The result was that Republicans gained control of both the House and the Senate, and now enjoy a more favorable national impression than they have in years. Wanting to hold on to that honeymoon mood, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had one message for Republicans in the new Congress, summarized by The Washington Post in January: don’t be “scary.” Translated for 2016, the warning to his party is clear: keep the Clinton crazies muzzled. MARCH 2015 http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/among-the-hillary-haters/384976/

11. Eugene Robinson: Boehner’s Classroom Run Amok

The House of Representatives seems to be trying mightily to make itself irrelevant, with Speaker John Boehner leading the effort. I can’t help but think of the old proverb: “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.”

The caravan, in this case, consists of President Obama, the Senate and the American people. It’s still early, but one has to wonder whether anything but yipping and yapping will emerge from the House before the next election. Prospects, thus far, are not promising.

Under Boehner’s leadership, the House insists on holding the Department of Homeland Security hostage in an attempt to force Obama to undo his executive actions on immigration. Funding for the agency expires at the end of the month, and the House refuses to take up a simple appropriations bill without attaching unrelated immigration measures that have no chance of getting past the Senate or the president.

The timing of this attempted power play is less than exquisite. Each day seems to bring new reminders of the potential threat posed by terrorism. A group allied with the Islamic State parades 21 Coptic Christians onto a beach in Libya and savagely beheads them. A lone-wolf gunman stages a deadly attack in Copenhagen, perhaps modeled on the Charlie Hebdo killing spree in Paris.

So is this the moment to play political games with the nation’s safety from terrorist attacks? “Certainly,” said Boehner, when asked Sunday whether he was prepared to see Homeland Security run out of funding. 2/17/15 http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/02/17/boehners_classroom_run_amok_125626.html

12. Washington Post Editorial: Republicans are playing hot potato with Homeland Security funding

IN THE impasse over funding that threatens to shutter the Department of Homeland Security at the end of this month, House Speaker John A. Boehner has labored mightily to wash his hands of responsibility.

“The House has done its job,” Mr. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, imperiously.

By Washington’s cynical standards, Mr. Boehner may have a point. The Republican-controlled House indeed did do a job — a job on the American people. It passed a funding bill for DHS — with poison-pill riders attached to defund President Obama’s immigration policy — that it fully knew had no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law.

Now, rather than passing a no-gimmicks bill to keep funding flowing, Mr. Boehner and his querulous caucus are insisting that the onus is somehow on the Senate. As Mr. Boehner huffs and puffs, even many Senate Republicans are rolling their eyes, publicly warning Republicans in the House to get serious lest they suffer the political fallout when DHS closes its doors. Thousands of employees would be sent home, with thousands more expected to keep working without pay.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says it is “obviously” up to the House to pass a realistic bill that can clear the upper chamber. More high-mindedly, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) pointed out that the House could have used its time more constructively by actually passing an immigration bill to deal meaningfully with the underlying issue of 11 million undocumented immigrants.

So far, House Republicans prefer to fulminate, grandstand and vent their fury — which will be nothing compared with the fury directed at them if a critical department of government is shuttered. 2/16/15 http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-gop-plays-hot-potato-with-dhs-funding/2015/02/16/1a94aed8-b3d0-11e4-886b-c22184f27c35_story.html


13. President Barack Obama: Our fight against violent extremism

With al Qaeda and ISIL peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Islam — all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans. This week, we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day. It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.

That pluralism has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions. We’ve seen tragic killings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and at a Jewish community center in Kansas last year.

We do not yet know why three young people, who were Muslim Americans, were brutally killed in Chapel Hill, N.C. But we know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid. Americans of all faiths and backgrounds must continue to stand united with a community in mourning and insist that no one should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.

Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds. With this week’s summit, we’ll show once more that — unlike terrorists who only offer misery and death — it is our free societies and diverse communities that offer the true path to opportunity, justice and dignity. 2/18/15 Read more at http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-obama-terrorism-conference-20150218-story.html


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Feb 12 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #871


“In my opinion, the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now.” — Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) speaking against President Barack Obama’s efforts to transfer prisoners out of the Guantanamo Bay detention center 1/05/15

“This bastard has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene. I do not care how this is done, whether it’s dismembered, whether we drive a stake through its heart, whether we tar and feather it and drive it out of town, whether we strangle it. I don’t care who does it, whether it’s some court some place, or the United States Congress. Any which way, any dollar spent on that goal is worth spending, any brief filed toward that end is worth filing, any speech or panel contribution toward that end is of service to the United States.” — Michael Greve, a board member of CEI, the organization “coordinating and funding” King v. Burwell, the case that is likely to strip health insurance away from at least 13 million people if it succeeds. 2/05/15


“It appears that the speaker of Congress made a move, in which we trusted, but which it ultimately became clear was a one sided move and not a move by both sides.” — Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi implying that House Speaker John Boehner led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to believe that his invitation for the prime minister to speak before Congress in March was bipartisan. 2/06/15

“Obviously rape is awful. What is beautiful is the child that could come from this.”– West Virginia House of Delegates member Brian Kurcaba (R-Monongalia), explaining why he opposed a Democratic-sponsored amendment to add an exception for rape victims. 2/05/15

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” — From President Obama’s remarks during the National Prayer Breakfast. 2/05/15

“If the whole point of this election was simply to give John Boehner and Mitch McConnell nicer offices, let’s give ‘em back.” — Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) complaining that GOP leaders have lost interest in repealing Obamacare. 2/06/15

“I’m sick of this woman and her ‘don’t touch my kid regardless what he/she did or will do again’ attitude. Perhaps a good paddling in school may keep me from having to put a bullet in him later.” — NRA board member Charles Cotton complaining about State Rep. Alma Allen’s (D) bill to “prohibit the use of corporal punishment in public primary and secondary schools. 2/07/14

“The measles hoax – is it possible we have been lied to about the measles, this outbreak?” — Glenn Beck calling the measles outbreak a “hoax” designed to make Americans “obey

“Those advocating mandatory vaccinations for the “so-called public good” could be ushering in “forced abortions” and “forced pills.”” — Fox News guest Jonathan Hoenig. 2/07/14

“Can Jeb Bush win Iowa? Of course he can. Can Jeb Bush come in fifth place in Iowa? Sure he can.” — Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann. 2/09/15

“Do they stop with one man and one man or one woman and one woman? Or do they go to multiple marriages? Or do they go to marriages between men and their daughters or women and their sons?” — Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore worrying that gay marriage would pave the way to marriages between men and their daughters or women and their sons. 2/10/15


“We are listening, and we are committed to repealing Obamacare so we can replace it with patient-centered reforms that lower costs and protect jobs.” —Speaker John Boehner 2/03/15


-“We’re working on this. Having discussions amongst our members, got a lot of divergent views about how best to go back to a doctor/patient relationship that’s revered, about rewarding medical professionals as opposed to all those rules that are coming down and frankly driving doctors out of the system.” — Speaker John Boehner 1/25/15

-“You know, the discussions about Obamacare and what the replacement bill would look like continue. We’re trying to build consensus around one plan. Not there yet.” — Boehner 7/24/14

-“Our goal is to show the American people what we believe would work better. I believe we will. We’ll continue to roll them out as we develop them.” — Boehner 3/26/14

-“Our members will offer an alternative when it comes to Obamacare. We’ll offer better solutions on jobs, on job training, education and a host of other issues while Democrats will sit on the sidelines and we’ll continue to lead and offer better solutions for the American people.” — Boehner 1/27/14

-“We had an alternative when they passed Obamacare. … But we’ve got other bills that have been introduced over the last year by various members of our conference. So we’re going to have a conversation today about the way forward on Obamacare.” — Boehner 1/30/14

-“(To) repeal Obamacare … isn’t the answer. The answer is repeal and replace. The challenge is that Obamacare is the law of the land.” — Boehner 3/25/14

-“It’s one of the big issues for conversation in terms of our agenda for this year, and I think you’ll see Republicans come forward with a plan to replace Obamacare.” — Boehner 1/16/14

-“The American people want to be able to pick their own type of health insurance. They want to be able to pick their own doctors. They want to be able to pick their own hospital. That is what a patient-centered health care system looks like.” — Boehner 12/03/13

-“I expect our conference in the coming weeks to have a discussion about Obamacare and how we’re going to deal with it, and what the replacement legislation would look like.” — Boehner 5/16/13

-“Listen, there are a lot of provisions that can be replaced. Remember, I said, we want to take a common-sense, step-by-step approach to replacing Obamacare.” —Speaker John Boehner 7/01/12 — TPM 1/05/15


“Not only did he vilify Christianity, but he actually made a case to defend radical Islam, that’s killing people around the world. He actually defended what they were doing, and tried to draw some sort of twisted equivalency, moral equivalency, between what they’re doing today and what Crusaders did 800 years ago.” — Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) 2/09/15


President Obama spoke out against those who “hijack religion” in order to justify terrorism during remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. Condemning the Islamic State (ISIS) as a “death cult,” Obama pointed to the nondenominational phenomenon of religion being used to justify “murderous ends,” including the Crusades and Inquisition of several centuries ago.” — ABC News 2/05/15 2/5/15


“I think it’s clear we can’t go forward in the Senate. And so the next move, obviously, is up to the House.” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blaming the House for the impasse over funding DHS. 2/10/15


“The House did its job. We won the fight to fund the Department of Homeland Security and stop the president’s unconstitutional [immigration] actions. Now it’s time for the Senate to do their work. You know, in the gift shop out here, they’ve got these little booklets on how a bill becomes a law.” — Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) rejecting the plea from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a separate Homeland Security funding bill to avert a shutdown of the department on Feb. 27. 2/11/15


2. Mark Fiore: How to Avoid Killing and Maiming Children


3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Fox Airs ISIS Execution After Previously Blasting Media Outlets For Airing “Terrorist Propaganda”http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/04/fox-airs-isis-execution-after-previously-blasti/202414

Conservative Media Bash Obama For Mentioning Crusades At Prayer Breakfast http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/02/06/conservative-media-bash-obama-for-mentioning-cr/202447

Fox News Stokes Fears of Obamacare Penalty That IRS Already Waived http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/06/fox-news-stokes-fears-of-obamacare-penalty-that/202456

Fox News’ Special Report Advances Debunked Claim That Climate Change Data Is “Cooked” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/10/fox-news-special-report-advances-debunked-claim/202479

New GOP Hearing On The Presidents Executive Actions Will Feature Notorious Right-Wing Media Misinformers http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/10/new-gop-hearing-will-feature-notorious-right-wi/202476

Fox Guest Star Parker: Obama Mentioning Crusades At Prayer Breakfast Was “Verbal Rape” http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/09/fox-guest-star-parker-obama-mentioning-crusades/202468

Limbaugh Furious That Republicans “Were Never Really Willing To Shut Down” Homeland Security Over Obama’s Immigration Action http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/11/limbaugh-furious-that-republicans-were-never-re/202493

Conservative Media Weaponize Brian Williams Suspension To Attack Hillary Clinton http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/11/conservative-media-weaponize-brian-williams-sus/202486

4. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“Hillary Clinton is weighing in on the measles outbreak. She tweeted: ‘The Earth is round, the sky is blue, and vaccines work.’ She didn’t stop there. She also tweeted, ‘Fire is hot, ice is cold, and the Seahawks should have handed the ball off to Marshawn Lynch.'” –Jimmy Fallon

The CDC announced that there are currently 102 measles cases in the U.S. Some say it’s because people aren’t vaccinating their children. You can tell things are getting bad. Today Disneyland opened a new ride called ‘It’s a Smallpox World.'” –Jimmy Fallon

Remember that dancing shark from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show? A guy in Colorado actually got a tattoo of the shark. That story again: Weed is still legal in Colorado.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Mitt Romney is not going to be running for president. So you know what that means. We are getting closer and closer to ‘President Trump.'” –David Letterman

“The city of Boston today held its Super Bowl victory parade. Meanwhile, the city of Seattle held Seahawks coach Pete Carroll out a window by his ankles.” –Seth Meyers

“During an interview last weekend, President Obama was talking about the next race for president and refused to choose between Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, saying quote, ‘Love ’em both.’ Which was nice until he said he’d support the nominee, regardless of who she is.” –Jimmy Fallon

“President Obama unveiled a $4 trillion budget for 2016 that would increase taxes on the wealthy and spend more money on education. He also made a snowball and put it in the oven, just to see which would last longer, his budget or the snowball.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush admitted that he smoked a notable amount of pot in school. He said, ‘You would too if your parents had named you ‘Jeb.'” –Conan O’Brien

“Mitt Romney is not going to run for president. Mitt said it’s time for fresh faces. So that’s good news for Bruce Jenner.” –David Letterman

“Mitt Romney announced that he is no longer considering running for president in 2016. As opposed to those other guys who forgot about running — the Seattle Seahawks.” –Jimmy Fallon

“It really was an incredible game. And even though the Patriots won, you really have to hand it to Marshawn Lynch. Don’t think about it. Just hand it to Marshawn Lynch.” –Seth Meyers

5. Borowitz Report: Bush Campaign Hopes to Stoke Nostalgia for Nation’s Most Glorious Era

Tracy Klugian, who heads the newly assembled Bush media team, said that he and his staff are poised to tap into the nation’s longing for a time “when everything in this country seemed to be going right.”

A centerpiece of the marketing strategy will be evoking memories of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “It’s been a long time since the United States has invaded another country for no reason,” he said. “People are sentimental about those simpler times.”

Additionally, Klugian said the Bush team hopes to rekindle Americans’ memories of “one of those most exciting times in recent history,” the financial meltdown of 2008.

“Seeing the financial system teeter on the brink of Armageddon was a thrill ride we haven’t experienced the likes of since,” he said. “I know I’m not alone when I say that I miss those days.”

All in all, Klugian said that he and the Bush team “can’t wait” to roll up their sleeves and start reminding America of the glories that were the years 2001 to 2009. “When you have a great story like the Bush story, it’s hard to know where to start,” he said. Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

6. Republicans try to blame Dems in DHS funding fight

But with its funding set to run dry in 17 days, and with the House and Senate still tied in knots over President Barack Obama’s immigration policies, no signs are emerging of a solution to the DHS standoff — and Republicans are ramping up their efforts to blame Democrats.

“The Republicans – if there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown – we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, ‘You are responsible for these dead Americans,’” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said Tuesday.

Democrats are demanding a clean DHS bill free of immigration provisions, but several senior House Republican aides were skeptical that such legislation could pass the GOP-led House, even if carried mostly on Democratic votes. 2/10/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/dhs-funding-gop-senate-house-bill-115075.html


7. Daily Show (videos)

Guardians of the Veracity: http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/j3ware/guardians-of-the-veracity

Fox News’ Strange Obsession With Jordan’s King Abdullah: http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/mtqomx/wish-you-were-him


1. Ruth Marcus: The right’s crusade against Obama

Such is the daggers-drawn state of political discourse in Washington these days that President Obama could go to the National Prayer Breakfast, call the Islamic State a “brutal, vicious death cult” — and still end up being assailed by conservatives.

Obama’s offense? He dared to note that Islam is not the only religion to have been perverted to justify violence and atrocity.

Thus, former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore’s (R) over-the-top reaction to Obama’s remarks as “the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime.” Obama, Gilmore thundered, “has offended every believing Christian in the United States.”

But wait, that’s not all. More Gilmore: “This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.” Okay, if you’re one of the hordes of 2016 presidential hopefuls, maybe you’ve got to ramp up the rhetoric to have your voice heard, but really, this goes too far.

Gilmore wasn’t alone. “Obama Insults Christians,” blared the Catholic League; its president, Bill Donohue, termed Obama’s comments “an attempt to deflect guilt from Muslim madmen.” Twitter erupted. Ditto Rush Limbaugh.

This reaction was as predictable as it was disheartening. Conservatives have ample grounds to assail Obama on his handling of the war on terror and his belated response to the rise of the Islamic State.

Instead, they seem inexorably drawn to overstate, to detect insult to Americans and animus toward the United States where none exists. This reaction says more about Obama’s critics, and their inability to accept his legitimacy, than it does about the president. 2/06/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-rights-crusade-against-obama/2015/02/06/a36f8202-ae5b-11e4-9c91-e9d2f9fde644_story.html

2. Peter Beinart: Is America at War With Radical Islam?

If there’s one thing top Republicans know, it’s that America can’t defeat terrorism unless we call it by its real name. “We are in a religious war with radical Islamists,” Lindsey Graham recently told Fox News. “When I hear the President of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we’re in a religious war, it really bothers me.” Rudy Giuliani agrees: “If we can’t use the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ we can’t get rid of them.” So does Ted Cruz. At the Iowa Freedom Summit in January he declared that, “You cannot fight and win a war on radical Islamic terrorism if you’re unwilling to utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’”

There are several problems here. Even if one believed that calling the enemy “radical Islam” were a good idea, it would hardly explain how to defeat it. Yet the Republicans slamming Obama for his linguistic failures mostly stop there. After he chastised the President in Iowa for not saying “radical Islam,” Ted Cruz’s only policy suggestions were that Obama should have attended the anti-terror rally in Paris and that Americans who join ISIS should lose their citizenship. On Fox, Giuliani mentioned the Paris rally too, and then fell back on platitudes like “you know what you do with bullies? You go right in their face!”

Obviously, the United States need not be ideologically agnostic. American presidents should say they believe liberal democracy is morally superior to Islamic theocracy, just as it was preferable to fascism and communism. But that’s a far cry from declaring war on every regime based upon an -ism we don’t like. For much of the cold war, the United States battled the Soviet Union but not communist China. In the 1940s, the United States went to war against Germany, Italy and Japan but not fascist Spain. And today, the United States is at war with those “radical Muslim” organizations that actively seek to kill Americans while allying ourselves with other “radical Muslim” regimes that don’t. Why is that so hard for Ted Cruz to understand? 2/05/15 Read more at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/is-america-at-war-with-radical-islam/385200/


3. Sam Kleiner: Is Rand Paul the World’s Most Gullible Man?

Wearing gray slacks and a white t-shirt, Rand Paul took a seat in the Capitol physician’s office last week to get a Hepatitis A booster. This wasn’t just about his physical health. He was there with a reporter to do damage control over his earlier remarks on vaccines. Paul had said on national TV that he was aware of “many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” The comment was a disaster for Paul and opened up serious questions about the viability of his candidacy. But while he likely will weather this storm, the episode does shed light on the conspiracy theories that have defined Rand Paul’s worldview and his rise to political power.

Time and again, in one incident after another, Paul has shown that his worldview is colored if not controlled outright by the idea that America’s very existence is constantly threatened by shadowy conspiracies both foreign and domestic. It is hardly surprising that someone who embraces such radical ideas would also adopt the conspiratorial anti-vaccine position.

To fully understand Paul’s asinine vaccine comments, we have to understand the conspiratorial nature of his worldview. This isn’t a one-off issue for Paul. Growing up under the tutelage of his father, Paul has embraced and espoused a conspiratorial worldview where “official” truths are to be doubted in favor of explanations based on secretive plots. Paul’s rise to power was based on the populist tradition of “weaving a vast fabric of social explanation out of nothing but skeins of evil plots,” in Hofstadter’s words.

Such views have always existed at the political fringe, but they become dangerous when they come close to finding a home in the Oval Office. And of course Paul doesn’t want us prying into his deep, disturbing history of embracing conspiracy theories just when he’s trying to mainstream his views for the presidency. Because if we did get a good look at the nonsense he’s been preaching for years, we might then realize just how unqualified he is to be president. 2.11.15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/11/is-rand-paul-the-world-s-most-gullible-man.html


4. Aaron Blake: Why Obama invoked the Crusades — and what it says about how he views terrorism

President Obama is drawing some heat — mostly from the usual quarters — for invoking the Crusades while talking about Islam and terrorism on Thursday.

Words matter, and the way this issue is framed is going to go a long way toward determining how the “war on terror” will be waged. Moreover, the rise of the Islamic State — along with the lesser-publicized Boko Haram — has ramped up the debate over terrorism and its roots to the highest point since perhaps after Sept. 11, 2001. This is a key moment in defining the terms of the debate. Both Republicans and Obama recognize that.

Obama’s critics believe he’s being Pollyannaish about the nature of the threat and how it is inherently tied to Islam. Without recognizing the seeds of terrorism, they reason, how can you combat it?

Obama disagrees wholeheartedly with that characterization and thinks attributing violence to Islam is unfair and damaging to relations between Christians and the broader Muslim population.

It’s perhaps the defining semantics debate of his presidency. 2/06/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/02/06/why-obama-invoked-the-crusades-in-re-islam-and-terrorism/

5. Dean Obeidallah: There’s No Such Thing as ‘Radical Islam.’ There Are Only Terrorists Who Are Muslim

ISIS is about as Islamic as the KKK is Christian. They just use religion. Their real agenda is political. Get with it.

To be honest, how many have heard about the details of ISIS slaughtering of Muslims? In 2014 in Iraq alone, can you guess how many Muslims civilians—not fighters, civilians—ISIS killed? At least 4,325. ISIS is murdering an average 12 Muslim civilian men, women, and children every single day.

Why do these facts matter? Because I think it makes it clear to any reasonable person that ISIS is not about the tenets of Islam. Their religion is power.

Those aren’t just my words. In September, more than 120 Islamic scholars and clerics wrote a letter to ISIS in both English and Arabic denouncing ISIS and its invoking of Islam to justify its horrific actions. They even explained in great detail how ISIS is violating the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, concluding that ISIS is truly unIslamic.

Yet these words don’t move many on the right in America, who continue to argue in essence: If a Muslim yells “Allahu Akbar” after committing any action, that absolutely means that their conduct is based on the faith. That is beyond simplistic—it’s idiotic.

And nearly as ludicrous is the claim by people like Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who stated on Fox News on Sunday that we need to call it “radical Islam” because we “have to define our enemy.”

Look, there’s no such thing as “radical Islam.” There is only one Islam. But there are radical Muslims.  And there are Muslims who engage in terrorist acts. They are called terrorists. That is the proper way to describe them. 2/06/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/06/there-s-no-such-thing-as-radical-islam-there-are-only-terrorists-who-are-muslim.html

6. Eugene Robinson: A Juvenile GOP

Bang. Bang. Crash. That was the sound of the Republican majority in Congress shooting itself in both feet, then tripping over them.

At a moment of heightened concern that terrorists in the Middle East might stage or inspire attacks on U.S. soil, the GOP-controlled House and Senate are unable to agree on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security. If the party’s aim is to show Americans it is ready to govern, we are witnessing an epic fail.

Indeed, the whole episode does seem pretty insane. House Speaker John Boehner knew the bill he sent to the Senate would be dead on arrival. McConnell knew he didn’t have the votes to pass it. And both leaders knew that if the legislation somehow made it through — perhaps when Democrats weren’t looking, or through divine intervention — there was no way Obama would ever sign it into law.

Boehner and McConnell appear to be trying to teach House Republicans a lesson in basic arithmetic. The class, however, is busy throwing spitballs.

The GOP apparently hopes the display of juvenile behavior we’re witnessing will inspire voters to give the party even more power in 2016 by electing a Republican president. Good luck with that. 1/06/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/02/06/a_juvenile_gop_125511.html


7. Rachel M. Cohen: Blind to the Future

Some day not long from now, if you are traveling by rail in the Northeast, you may be stuck in a train waiting to enter a tunnel under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. Perhaps your grumbling seatmate curses Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, or politicians generally. But one leader in particular will deserve to be singled out on such occasions: Chris Christie, who, as governor of New Jersey in 2010, blocked a joint federal-state project to build a new passenger rail tunnel.

Today, few outside the New York metropolitan area know much about Governor Christie’s decision to veto the Access to the Region’s Core plan (ARC), a $9.8 billion project in the works for nearly 20 years that would have doubled cross-Hudson rail capacity, with a projected 2018 completion date. Christie gained notoriety for one Hudson River tie-up in September 2013, when his aides and allies closed traffic lanes at the George Washington Bridge as political retribution against a local Democratic official. But compared to “Bridgegate,” as that twisted tale came to be known, Christie’s veto of the new rail tunnel is a far more serious scandal. For the sake of short-term political gain, Christie sacrificed the long-term interests of his state and the nation. The story of the blocked tunnel is also evidence of a wider problem: Republican leaders’ refusal to deal with failing infrastructure for fear of raising taxes and antagonizing anti-tax groups on the right.

Enthusiasm among Republicans for Christie may not be as robust as it once was, but he remains a serious contender for the party’s presidential nomination. After all, Republicans around the country are not going to ask why the governor of New Jersey canceled a rail tunnel under the Hudson River. And Christie will be long gone from state politics when people in the region are left to suffer the consequences of that decision. Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine http://prospect.org/article/blind-future-chris-christie-and-republican-default-public-investment

8. Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig: Obama Was Right to Compare Christianity’s Violent Past to the Islamic State

Conservative critics are in hysterics thanks to a few short remarks made by President Barack Obama on the subject of Christian history during Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast. Addressing religiously motivated conflict abroad, Obama said, “Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

The degree to which, in retrospect, we are willing to condemn violent perversions of faith often has to do with their proximity to us. Most will now admit, however grudgingly, that the Crusades and Inquisition were efforts to carry out some construal of God’s will, however mistaken and otherwise motivated. With more recent conflicts, such as Bosnia and Rwanda, we are more apt to see Christianity as a single thread in a web of ethnic and political tensions that was ultimately only one cause among the many that ultimately culminated in brutality. And this analysis is probably right.

But it is also probably true of the terrorism perpetrated by ISIS, which has been roundly denounced as contrary to the principles of Islam by a host of Muslim leaders and clerics, most recently after the murder of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. Like war crimes and individual acts of brutality committed within the Christian world, the pattern of tensions that has produced ISIS, in all its unthinkable cruelty, seems to be broader and deeper than its self-proclaimed religious convictions. For those not searching for a source of personal offense, this is the only point Obama’s remarks on the religious violence enacted by Christians really conveys.

And it is, at last, a hopeful point: If we in the Christian world are capable of owning the monstrosities of our past, identifying their sources as multivalent and contrary to our faith, and holding one another accountable for the behavior we exhibit moving forward, then so are the members of the faiths we live alongside in the world. But accountability requires honesty, and pretending that Christians have never attributed violence to the cause of Christ is a disservice to modern peacemaking and to the victims of the past. Obama was right to take a clear-eyed view of the years that have come before, and to look hopefully to what we can do together as a multi-faith nation in the years to come. 1/06/15 Read more at http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120993/obama-national-prayer-breakfast-compares-christian-violence-isis

9. Bill Moyers: When America behaved like ISIS: Jesse Washington and the Bible Belt’s dark history of public lynchings

After listening to one newscast after another rightly condemn the barbaric killing of that Jordanian air force pilot at the bloody hands of ISIS, I couldn’t sleep. My mind kept roaming the past trying to retrieve a vaguely remembered photograph that I had seen long ago in the archives of a college library in Texas.

Suddenly, around two in the morning, the image materialized in my head. I made my way down the hall to my computer and typed in: “Waco, Texas. Lynching.”

Sure enough, there it was: the charred corpse of a young black man, tied to a blistered tree in the heart of the Texas Bible Belt. Next to the burned body, young white men can be seen smiling and grinning, seemingly jubilant at their front-row seats in a carnival of death. One of them sent a picture postcard home: “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe.”

The victim’s name was Jesse Washington. The year was 1916. America would soon go to war in Europe “to make the world safe for democracy.” My father was twelve, my mother eight. I was born 18 years later, at a time, I would come to learn, when local white folks still talked about Washington’s execution as if it were only yesterday. This was not medieval Europe. Not the Inquisition. Not a heretic burned at the stake by some ecclesiastical authority in the Old World. This was Texas, and the white people in that photograph were farmers, laborers, shopkeepers, some of them respectable congregants from local churches in and around the growing town of Waco.

Yes, it was hard to get back to sleep the night we heard the news of the Jordanian pilot’s horrendous end. ISIS be damned! I thought. But with the next breath I could only think that our own barbarians did not have to wait at any gate. They were insiders. Home grown. Godly. Our neighbors, friends, and kin. People like us. 2/10/15 Read more at http://www.salon.com/2015/02/10/when_america_behaved_like_isis_jesse_washington_and_the_bible_belts


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Feb 5 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #870


“Get out of here you low-life scum.” — Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) to protesters who shouted criticism at 91-year-old Henry Kissinger. 1/29/15

“I wear this as a badge of honor.” — Rick Perry (R) on his indictment on abuse-of-power charges while serving as Texas governor.1/28/15

“He should be ashamed. And I think people really need to know what type of person he is. To bring as much pain as he did, to me and my family, that should be an issue.” — Michael Schiavo on how Jeb Bush handled a “contentious, drawn-out conflict” over his brain dead wife, Terri Schiavo while serving as Florida governor. 1/29/15

They’re now threatening to let homeland security funding expire because of our disagreement with my actions to make our immigration system smarter, fairer and safer. Don’t jeopardize our national security over this disagreement. Until they [Congress] pass a funding bill, it is the end of a paycheck for tens of thousands of front-line workers, who will continue to have to work without getting paid.” — President Barack Obama warning of a potential blow to national security if the Republican-led Congress fails to fund the Department of Homeland Security by the time money expires at the end of this month. 2/02/15

“I want that to be my choice as a parent. I know my kids best. I know what morals and values are right for my children. I think we should not have an oppressive state telling us what to do.” — Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) 2/03/15

“While I think it’s a good idea to take the vaccine, I think that’s a personal decision for individuals to take and when they take it.” — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) 2/02/15


The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest — 2/02/15 Hillary Clinton@HillaryClinton

“It’s clear to anyone with eyes and ears by now that he is an almost pathologically ambitious figure, who has no qualms about persecuting his enemies, pettily seeking payback when necessary, and using public office to pursue political vendettas. What you really see in the Bridgegate mess is his desire to get Democratic party officials to endorse him to burnish his bipartisan credentials for a national race. If they didn’t, they had something to fear in New Jersey. He’s a big guy, in other words, with a tendency to punch down and suck up.” — Andrew Sullivan on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie 2/03/15

1. Poll: Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change

A majority of Americans, including roughly half of Republicans, support government action to curb climate change, according to a new poll.

Conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the research group Resources for the Future, the poll found that 48 percent of Republicans are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports actions that tackle climate change.

Forty-eight percent of Republicans and 72 percent of independents said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who says human-induced climate change is a hoax. 

In all, 77 percent of Americans said they want the government to make significant steps in fighting climate change.  

Broken down, 90 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 48 percent of Republicans wanted federal action. 1/30/15 http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/231247-poll-majority-support-federal-action-on-climate-change



“It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So that’s the balance that the government has to decide.” — Chris Christie ignoring the science behind vaccine safety. 02.02.15


“The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.” — Governor Christie’s spokesperson, revising Christie’s position a few hours later. 2.02.15

3. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

“Fox Host Suggests Some Campus Sexual Assault Victims Are “Bad Girls … Who Like To Be Naughty. It’s The Same Thing With Guns. Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People. Alcohol Doesn’t Get You Drunk, You Get Yourself Drunk”http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/01/30/fox-host-suggests-some-campus-sexual-assault-vi/202351

O’Reilly Pushes Misleading Study Claiming All Job Growth Since 2007 Went To Immigrants http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/01/30/oreilly-pushes-misleading-study-claiming-all-jo/202367

Limbaugh Accepts Credit For Getting The Anti-Romney Ball Rolling http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/02/limbaugh-accepts-credit-for-getting-the-anti-ro/202376

Laura Ingraham Slams Jeb Bush For Not Embracing Right-Wing Radio http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/02/02/laura-ingraham-slams-jeb-bush-for-not-embracing/202374

ABC News’ Laura Ingraham Pushes Vaccine Myth That ABC News Called Discredited http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/03/abc-news-laura-ingraham-pushes-vaccine-myth-tha/202392

Fox News Host Falsely Claims Job Losses From Sequestration “Did Not Happen” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/03/fox-news-host-falsely-claims-job-losses-from-se/202395

Fox Airs ISIS Execution After Previously Blasting Media Outlets For Airing “Terrorist Propaganda”http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/04/fox-airs-isis-execution-after-previously-blasti/202414

Fox Ignores Obama’s Condemnation Of ISIS To Falsely Claim He Hasn’t Called The Group Terrorists http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/02/04/fox-ignores-obamas-condemnation-of-the-islamic/202413

4. Mark Fiore: King Abdullah: Royal Pain


5. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“In a speech today, President Obama said that Michelle Obama is very strong and talented and she frequently tells him that he is wrong. As a result, Michelle Obama is now the Republican front-runner for 2016.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama said the small drone that flew over the White House fence yesterday could be bought at any RadioShack. After hearing this, the RadioShack CEO said, ‘I’m shocked to find out we still sell something people want.'” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama said that if he could have any superpower, he’d want the ability to speak any language. That’s so everyone in the world could tell him he picked one of the lamest possible superpowers.” –Jimmy Fallon

“One of the most Googled questions during this week’s State of the Union address was, ‘How much does the president make?’ When he saw it was $400,000 a year, Mitt Romney said, ‘I’m out!'” –Jimmy Fallon

“California officials want to contain a measles outbreak that originated in Disneyland last month. They are in luck because everyone who is exposed to it is still in line at Space Mountain.” –Conan O’Brien

“Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was summoned to answer questions about the footballs that were mysteriously deflated in their game against the Colts. This was covered live on all the sports networks and also live on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and a bunch of local channels. You would think Tom Brady had killed the president’s dog.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“CNN is developing a game show to be hosted by Anderson Cooper. It will be just like the other CNN shows except the contestants will make wild guesses instead of the news anchors.” –Seth Meyers

“The Jamaican government is considering a bill to decriminalize marijuana. But first they have to get over the shock of finding out it was illegal in the first place.” –Seth Meyers

“According to a new report, there are still five people alive today who were born in the 1800s. Even crazier, every one of them was re-elected this November.” –Seth Meyers

6. The Borowitz Report: Obama’s New Popularity Could Force Congressional Democrats to Admit to Knowing Him

President Barack Obama’s increasing popularity is forcing congressional Democrats to consider admitting that they know him, a leading Democratic staffer revealed on Monday.

After months of denying ever having been in the same room as the President, some Democrats are tentatively rethinking that position now that his approval rating has hit fifty per cent, the staffer said.

But even as Democrats contemplate admitting that they have met Obama or even shaken his hand, some worry that such moves could have perilous consequences if his approval rating drops again.

“I say, let’s cross that bridge when we come to it,” Petrack said. “If you don’t know when to admit you know your President and when to desert him, you don’t deserve to call yourself a Democrat.”

Elsewhere: Tracy Klugian, who heads the newly assembled Bush media team, said that he and his staff are poised to tap into the nation’s longing for a time “when everything in this country seemed to be going right.”

All in all, Klugian said that he and the Bush team “can’t wait” to roll up their sleeves and start reminding America of the glories that were the years 2001 to 2009. “When you have a great story like the Bush story, it’s hard to know where to start,” he said.

Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

7. Reality check: Jeb Bush’s conservative record

He cut billions in taxes, intervened in controversial abortion cases, railed against affirmative action and gun control and dreamed of a state capital in which government buildings would forever be drained of unneeded workers.

During his first gubernatorial campaign in 1994, not only did he advocate for abolishing the Department of Education, for voter approval of all new taxes, and “privatization in every area where privatization is possible,” he also suggested welfare reforms that would have cut recipients’ access to benefits after two years.

During that failed first campaign, he argued in the Miami Herald that there was no need for “special categories” to protect members of the gay and lesbian community. Should “sodomy be elevated to the same constitutional status as race and religion?” he asked in one controversial line. “My answer is no.”

During his second inaugural address in 2003, he gazed out at government offices and said “there would be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society than if we make these buildings around us empty of workers, silent monuments to a time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill.”

Over the course of eight years, Bush signed into law $19 billion in tax cuts. He sought to privatize key government providers, including foster care, state parks and even legal aid to death row prisoners. His business-friendly state’s bonds were top-rated.

He reshaped Florida by wiping out 13,000 government jobs and vetoing $2 billion in new spending, an economic approach influenced by the conservative gospels of Milton Friedman. He enforced conservative solutions on taxes, gun control, dismantling affirmative action in universities, taking on teachers unions over testing and performance. 1/28/15 http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/28/politics/bush-politics-analysis/


8. The Increasingly Unequal States of America

University of California at Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez estimates that between 2009 and 2012, the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of total income growth.

Lopsided income growth is also a long-term trend. Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent took home well over half (53.9 percent) of the total increase in U.S. income. Over this period, the average income of the bottom 99 percent of U.S. taxpayers grew by 18.9 percent. Simultaneously, the average income of the top 1 percent grew over 10 times as much—by 200.5 percent. 1/26/15 http://www.epi.org/publication/income-inequality-by-state-1917-to-2012/

9. Groundhog Day: As 2016 contest begins, GOP remains deeply divided

Since it’s Groundhog Day, it’s worth repeating (over and over and over and over): The establishment-vs.-conservative divide inside the Republican Party continues to be as a wide as ever. The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll is the latest example of this. Not only does the poll show Walker leading the early GOP pack in Iowa, it also has Jeb Bush coming in sixth (!!!) with Mitt Romney included in the field and fifth (!!!) without him. What’s more, Bush’s fav/unfav among likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers is just 46%-43%, compared with 66%-28% for Mike Huckabee, 64%-25% for Rand Paul, 64%-26% for Rick Perry, 60%-12% for Scott Walker, and 58%-21% for Ted Cruz. Yes, Jeb is going to be able to raise A LOT of money, but his story of 2015 could very well be whether he can make up ground with conservative grassroots voters.

There are two 2016 GOP races going on right now: One, the establishment contest, where Jeb and Christie are wooing deep-pocketed donors, especially now that Romney is out of the race. And two, the conservative grassroots contest, where the candidates will be jockeying to prove themselves as the most in tune with today’s Republican Party.2/02/15 http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/man-hour-scott-walkers-big-moment-n298421


10. Obamacare is costing much less than expected

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now projects that federal health spending — including the costs of health reform’s coverage expansions — will be about $600 billion less over 2011-2020 than CBO projected in January 2010 without health reform.

In other words, projected health spending over the decade has fallen by $600 billion since 2010, despite $1 trillion in additional spending for premium tax credits and expanded Medicaid to help cover 27 million more Americans. 1/28/15 http://www.offthechartsblog.org/projected-health-spending-has-fallen-since-2010-even-with-health-reforms-coverage-expansions/


11. Clinton Holds Early Leads in Swing States

A first look at three critical swing states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, for the 2016 presidential election is good news for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who tops possible Republican contenders in every matchup, except Florida, where she ties former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio, where she ties Gov. John Kasich, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.

Overall, Gov. Bush runs best of any Republican listed against Clinton, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states.

Clinton’s favorability rating tops 50 percent in each state, while Republican ratings range from negative to mixed to slightly positive, except for Bush in Florida and Kasich in Ohio. 2/03/15 http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/2016-presidential-swing-state-polls/release-detail


1. Brent Budowsky: The great GOP overreach

According to the summary of polling from Real Clear Politics, approval of the Republican Congress is barely 15 percent. Disapproval remains near 72 percent. Control of Congress means ownership of the vast unpopularity of Congress.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s popularity has risen significantly since November. The stage is set for Clinton to begin a 2016 campaign with a significant lead over GOP opponents and run against a highly unpopular Republican Congress.

Voters see Republicans overreaching and underachieving. They see the GOP repeating ritual attacks against Obama and Clinton as though the 2014 campaign never ended. They see Republicans moving to pass political bills they know will never be enacted, such as old attacks against ObamaCare, and opposing important bills voters do want enacted, such as immigration reform. They see the GOP stage phony hearings on Benghazi that are nothing more than taxpayer-financed attacks against Hillary Clinton.

There is a GOP distemper in Washington, an overreaching of aggressive tactics against Democrats and an underachievement of success in governing. The result? Obama rises in favorability, Clinton rises against Republicans. 01/28/15 http://thehill.com/opinion/brent-budowsky/231092-brent-budowsky-the-great-gop-overreach


2. ALEX ISENSTADT: They’re back! The new tea party surge

Congress hasn’t even been in session a month and a raft of Republicans are already being threatened with primaries in 2016.

The reasons run the gamut, from backing John Boehner for speaker to objecting to an anti-abortion bill. One congressman is under fire for failing to amass clout that would help his district on a key issue. It’s the latest proof that divisions within the GOP are very much alive, despite the triumph of the establishment GOP wing over the tea party in last year’s midterms.

“There is an unprecedented level of disquiet,” said Daniel Horowitz, who has worked as a political strategist for tea party groups. “There’s a sense that the Republicans in Washington don’t share the beliefs of the conservative platform, or don’t fight for them.”

Erick Erickson, an influential tea party leader and conservative commentator, said the House GOP’s decision to reelect Boehner as speaker had sparked initial conversations among conservative activists about launching primaries. Those talks, he said, inevitably will become louder in the months to come, as the newly empowered Republican majority faces tough calls on legislation.

“Right now,” he said, “it’s just a simmering under the surface.” 1/29/15 http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/tea-party-2016-elections-114701.html

3. Molly Ball: The Republican Congress Meets Reality

Republicans promised to do a couple of things right away if given control of Congress. One was to pass a bill to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Another was to open up the Senate processes that they charged the Democrats had bottlenecked during their time in the majority.

Keystone was supposed to be the low-hanging fruit Republicans could pluck right away. Back in November, with Democrats still in the majority, a similar measure failed by a single vote. But as the GOP tried to push the bill through last week, Democrats cried foul. They pointed to new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to open up the amendment process over which now-Minority Leader Harry Reid previously exerted a stranglehold, something both Democrats and Republicans complained about at the time. The bill was delayed and ended up taking all month.

It’s not going to get any easier: The Senate’s next task is to pass funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which will open a messy debate over immigration enforcement. The department’s funding runs out at the end of February. Another piece of legislation that was supposed to easily garner bipartisan buy-in, an attempt to impose tougher sanctions on Iran, is already running into trouble as Democrats get cold feet. That more or less exhausts the list of achievable items on the agenda of the Republican-led Congress.

The new dawn they promised isn’t looking very different from last year’s gridlock. 1/30/14 http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/01/the-republican-congress-meets-reality/385008/

4. Eugene Robinson: The Boehner-Bibi Backfire

The political ramifications are clear: House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a colossal mistake by conspiring behind President Obama’s back, and the move has ricocheted on both of them.

The big, scary issue underlying the contretemps — how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program — is a more complicated story. I believe strongly that Obama’s approach, which requires the patience to give negotiations a chance, is the right one. To the extent that a case can be made for a more bellicose approach, Boehner and Netanyahu have undermined it.

First, the politics. Why on earth would anyone think it was a good idea to arrange for Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress without telling Obama or anyone in his administration about the invitation?

Yes, Congress has an important role to play in international affairs. And yes, the days are long gone when disputes among officials over foreign policy ended at the water’s edge; members of Congress routinely gallivant around the globe and share their freelance views of what the United States should or should not be doing. But inviting a foreign leader to speak at the Capitol without even informing the president, let alone consulting him, is a bald-faced usurpation for which there is no recent precedent.

Pending legislation, which Obama threatens to veto, would automatically impose tough new sanctions against Iran if the drawn-out, multiparty nuclear negotiations fail. If Boehner wanted to build support for sanctions, he failed spectacularly. 1/30/15 http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/01/30/the_boehner-bibi_backfire_125448.html


5. Peter Beinart:The Sophisticated Bigotry of Bobby Jindal

The Louisiana governor wants Christians to stand apart from secular society, but condemns Muslims who do the same.

If Bobby Jindal runs for president, he will likely campaign on two major themes. The first, which he outlined last February at the Reagan Library and last May at Liberty University, is that Christians are at war with a liberal elite that is trampling religious liberty and secularizing American culture. The second, which he laid out this month at London’s Henry Jackson Society, is that “non-assimilationist Muslims” are endangering America and Europe.

Why point out the contradiction between Jindal’s heroic portrayal of Christian non-assimilators and his demonization of Muslim ones? Because it exposes his lofty talk about culture and identity to be an elaborate ruse. The only principle he’s really defending is anti-Muslim bigotry.

In 2012, Herman Cain distinguished himself as the leading Islamophobe in the Republican presidential field. Jindal is now well-positioned to fill that role. The only difference is that Cain spoke like a pizza executive while Jindal speaks like a Rhodes Scholar. But strip away the fake sophistication and it’s bigotry just the same. 1/30/15 http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/01/the-sophisticated-bigotry-of-bobby-jindal/384997/

6. Michael Tomasky: The GOP: Still the Party of Stupid

Governor Scott Walker, I see, has surged in a new Iowa poll, while the only one who at least looks like president, John Ellis Bush, has taken a tumble and is viewed more negatively by potential caucus-goers than he once was (46 favorable, 43 unfavorable). We can’t say for sure why Bush has fallen, but it seems clear that Walker has gained on the strength, so to speak, of his empty-calorie bromides.

He’s gained because those items— kicking Planned Parenthood, denying your own citizens subsidized health-care coverage, pretending that voter fraud is a thing—are what pass for ideas in today’s GOP. Walker is even more vacuous on foreign policy, as Martha Raddatz revealed yesterday, twisting him around like a pretzel with a couple of mildly tough questions on Syria. The Democratic Party has its problems, but at least Democrats are talking about middle-class wage stagnation, which is the country’s core economic quandary. Rick Santorum is, in fairness, but a) his solutions are the same ones conservatives have been advertising for years (lower taxes, less regulation, more two-parent families) and b) he’s not going anywhere in the polls so far, undoubtedly precisely because he’s trying to drop the homosexuality-is-bestiality shtick and talk about actual economic problems.

But you can’t really discuss economic problems as a Republican presidential candidate, because in the pond of voters where you’ll be fishing, “America” has no such problems. Some people—roughly 47 percent of them—have economic problems, but that’s all their fault, you see. So these candidates are about to spend a year pandering to that. That will make them weak in more ways than one. 2/02/15 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/02/the-gop-still-the-party-of-stupid.html

7. Zack Beauchamp: Study refutes the myth that Muslims are more violent

If Islam itself were in fact the key cause of Islamist terrorism, you’d expect ordinary Muslims to be more violent than ordinary non-Muslims. There are over a billion believing Muslims globally; if their religion were intrinsically prone to violence, the data would bear that out. In fact, it does nothing of the sort.

Still, there’s no denying that Islamist extremist terrorism is a real phenomenon and real problem the rightly receives widespread study. (Fish offers his own argument, that Islamist terrorism is best understood as a reaction to Western foreign policy, but his case is exceedingly unpersuasive.)

That’s not to say you can absolve the West completely. Foreign invasions of Muslim countries clearly played a role in fueling the growth of violent Islamist movements. The US-led invasion of Iraq, for example, created widespread chaos and violence, and that chaos and violence gave way to extremism. But the West is only one among a variety of factors at play in the broader 20th and 21st-century trend of Islamist extremism. Other factors have included the prevalence of dictatorship in the Muslim world, Sunni-Shia sectarianism, and, yes, theological doctrines developed by modern Islamists such as Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Sayyid Qutb.

In that sense, though, Islam is like almost any other religion: its core tenets can be read both to prohibit and to justify political violence, depending on who’s doing the interpreting. That doesn’t mean Islam is intrinsically violent. It just means Muslims are people like everyone else. This data should be an important reminder of that distinction. 1/30/15 http://www.vox.com/2015/1/30/7951309/islam-violence

8. Jonathan Chait: Paul Ryan’s Most Shameless Lie Ever

Shamelessness is the primary feature of Paul Ryan’s public persona (the secondary feature being a woundedness he displays when his shamelessness is pointed out). Yet it is possible that nothing in Ryan’s long and distinguished career in the field of shamelessness has ever exceeded his comments in yesterday’s New York Times on the Obama budget. Ryan’s complaint is that Obama’s economic policies have exacerbated the gap between the rich and the poor. “The Obamanomics that we’re practicing now have exacerbated inequality,” he claims. “They’ve exacerbated stagnation. They’re made things worse. The wealthy are doing really well. They’re practicing trickle down economics now.”

What gives Ryan’s comments a veneer of plausibility is that income inequality has increased continuously, punctuated by a few short reversals, for more than three decades. Economists have extensively studied and debated the cause of rising inequality for years, clustering about multiple theories: the decline of labor unions, technological change, the growth of finance, and so on. None of the theories blame Obama’s economic policies.

What can be proven beyond a doubt is that, even if underlying economic trends have increased inequality, Obama’s economic policies have reduced it sharply. The stimulus included tax cuts for low-wage workers, and the Affordable Care Act was financed in part by higher taxes on the rich. Back when conservatives were lambasting Obama for stealing hard-earned money from the rich and handing it out to the unworthy poor, rather than pretending to worry about inequality, they were happy to make this perfectly clear.

In addition to opposing all of Obama’s inequality-reducing policies Ryan flamboyantly advocated a sweeping budget plan that would have eliminated coverage expansions for the poor, layered on hundreds of billions of dollars in additional cuts in programs benefiting the poor, and in general produced “the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).”

And now Ryan is claiming Obama’s policies increased inequality! There seems to be literally no limit at all to his shamelessness. 2/02/15 http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/02/paul-ryans-most-shameless-lie-ever.html

9. Rebecca Leber: The Kochs Are Already Getting What They Paid for in Congress

Ask progressives what the last three weeks of Senate debate on a Keystone XL bill was really about, and they might mention the Koch brothers. “The Republican’s Keystone XL obsession is about one thing and one thing only—a direct payback to Big Oil, specifically to the Koch brothers,” Credo’s Senior Campaign Manager Elijah Zarlin said in response to the Senate passing a Keystone XL bill, 62-36, on Thursday. 

It’s not just a talking point. Just one month into the new Congress, and already the Kochs’ fossil fuel interests—which include oil pipelines and refineries—have neatly aligned with Republican priorities. The Koch network’s campaign for and against Keystone amendments not only offers a preview of future energy battles, but demonstrate their difficult-to-quantify political influence. 

In January, three conservative groups—Heritage Action, American Energy Alliance (AEA), and Americans for Prosperity (AFP)—combined for a total of seven key vote alerts on amendments that would count in their congressional scorecards. The alerts serve as a warning: If a senator votes against the group’s interest, he or she risks future attacks from the right. All three groups are tied to the Kochs: AFP is considered the brothers’ “main political arm,” and they have contributed to Heritage and AEA.

The groups helped defeat an amendment from Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, that would have reinstated the wind production tax credit for five years. Heitkamp couldn’t even scrape together a majority of senators for what historically has been a popular, bipartisan policy. Wind energy happens to be big in red states, so it has the support from Republicans like Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, but it has long been a target for conservative, fossil-fuel-aligned groups. AEA, AFP, and Heritage all recommended a “no” vote on the amendment, in line with the Koch network’s years-long campaign to eliminate renewable tax credits (while oil’s tax breaks remain politically untouchable). 

Of course, all of this is for naught: Obama has promised to veto the bill. But if nothing else, this two-week-long charade on Capitol Hill has allowed Republicans to declare their undying allegiance to the Kochs. 2/02/15 http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120922/keystone-xl-senate-bill-amendments-influenced-koch-brothers


10. NY Times Editorial: President Obama’s New Budget

President Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget, released on Monday, pulls together the themes and policies set forth in his State of the Union address and other recent speeches and gives them a force and coherence — an ambitiousness — that a more piecemeal delivery does not convey.

Contrary to the Republican charge that the budget is fiscally irresponsible, it addresses, albeit indirectly, longer-term problems like the financing shortfall in Social Security — just not in ways that Republicans care to acknowledge. For example, the budget assumes passage of comprehensive immigration reform, which would boost the economy by adding millions of newly legalized workers. Immigration and economic growth are essential to improving the financial health of the Social Security system.

The president’s budget will not be enacted in whole, and perhaps not even in part. But enactment is not the only measure of its success. The budget is a strong discussion draft, detailed in its particulars, unassailable in its aims and a powerful challenge to the Republicans. 2/02/15 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/opinion/president-obamas-new-budget.html

11. Brian Beutler: Public Health Experts Have Estimated How Many Americans Will Die If the Supreme Court Guts Obamacare

In a brief to the Supreme Court, dozens of public health scholars, along with the American Public Health Association, detail the harm the Court would create by ruling for the challengers in King vs. Burwell. Most of their analysis is rooted in the basic point that stripping insurance away from eight million people would dramatically impede their access to the health system. But they also flesh out the corollary argument that an adverse ruling would have deadly consequences, and ballpark the number of avoidable deaths such a ruling would cause.

“Researchers found that, in the first four years of the [health care reform] law in Massachusetts, for every 830 adults gaining insurance coverage there was one fewer death per year,” the brief reads. “Using the national estimate that 8.2 million people can be expected to lose health insurance in the absence of subsidies on the federal marketplace, this ratio equates to over 9,800 additional Americans dying each year. Although the specific policy context and population impacts of any policy cannot be directly extrapolated from one setting to another, the general magnitude and power of these findings from the Massachusetts study demonstrate that even when approached cautiously, these earlier findings carry enormous public health implications for withdrawing subsidies and coverage from millions of Americans.”

For those who haven’t been keeping score all along, Republicans have spent the past several years cyclically promising and then failing to deliver an Obamacare alternative. They didn’t have an alternative prepared in 2012 when conservatives asked the Court to declare Obamacare unconstitutional. They didn’t have an alternative prepared later in the year, when Mitt Romney was their presidential candidate. They didn’t have an alternative prepared when they shut down the government as part of an ill-fated effort to defund Obamacare. They didn’t run on an Obamacare alternative in 2014. And they don’t have an Obamacare alternative prepared this week, though they’re scheduled to pass another repeal bill on Tuesday. 2/02/15 http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120948/supreme-court-king-sebelius-obamacare-decision-could-kill-thousands


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Jan 29 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #869


“Week one, we had a Speaker election that didn’t go as well as a lot of us would have liked. Week two, we spent a lot of time talking about deporting children, a conversation a lot of us didn’t want to have. Week three, we’re debating reportable rape and incest — again, not an issue a lot of us wanted to have a conversation about. I just can’t wait for week four.” — Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) 1/22/15

“My grand-daddy used to say you don’t learn much from the second kick of a mule.” — Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), on Mitt Romney running for president again. 1/22/15

“I was leading in every poll. … I regret that I didn’t stay in … I would’ve won the race against Obama. He would’ve been easy. Hillary is tougher to beat than Obama, but Hillary is very beatable. … He (Romney) failed. He choked. He’s like a deal-maker that didn’t close the deal. He shouldn’t be running again. He had a great opportunity to win against a president that was absolutely lame, and he didn’t do it. The 47 percent statement, which was a disaster, is not going away. Romneycare is not going away. All of his problems are not going away. He should get out and get out quickly.” — Donald Trump 1/24/15

“I’m with Ann Romney on this one: No, no, no, no, never.” — Sen. Rand Paul, (R-KY) on the notion of a third Mitt Romney candidacy. 1/26/15

The Republican-led House is planning to vote next week to fully repeal Obamacare, a GOP leadership said on Wednesday. This will be the 4th House vote to repeal the law in its entirety, and the latest in more than 50 votes aimed at dismantling the ACA. — TPM 1/27/15

“I am totally outraged at Speaker Boehner for doing it, I think it’s, it was deliberately designed to undermine the president — that’s close to subversion.” — Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) on House Speaker John Boehner inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to the House of Representatives. 1/26/15


1. Jon Stewart: Democalypse 2016 – Fox News Correspondent Auditions


2. The Borowitz Report: Republican Candidates Descend on Iowa

Republican Presidential candidates descended on Iowa over the weekend, giving Iowans a rare opportunity to evaluate all thirty thousand hopefuls in one place.

The candidates were a big hit with their G.O.P. audience, who attempted to determine which of the thirty thousand would do the best job of eviscerating Obamacare and deporting college students.

Attendees gave an especially warm welcome to the businessman Donald Trump, whose potential entry into the 2016 race would instantly raise the credibility of everyone else.

EARLIER: President Obama’s proposal to give workers six weeks of paid leave is meeting strong opposition from a group of people who annually receive thirty-three weeks of paid leave.

For example, they were confused by Obama’s challenge to try to survive on a full-time job that pays fifteen thousand dollars, since they all currently hold a part-time job that pays a hundred and seventy-four thousand dollars. Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

3. The YouTube Interview with President Obama



“Listen, the more the president talks about his ideas, the more unpopular he becomes. Why would I want to deprive him of that opportunity?” — House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) when asked, in December of 2014, if he planned to extend an invitation to Obama to deliver the State of the Union address.


On the day of the State of the Union address, Obama’s approval rating was just a little underwater – 46% approval, 49% disapproval. As of today, those numbers are largely reversed – 50% approval, 45% disapproval. — Gallup tracking data.


5. GOP’s War on Women (Continued)

The House easily passed H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015 that would permanently prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion. The House bill would also restrict small businesses from getting an Affordable Care Act tax credit if they purchase employee health plans that include abortion coverage on the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP exchange. 1/22/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/house-abortion-ban-federal-funding-114497.html#ixzz3PbBqsPTT

6. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Right-Wing Media Attack House GOP For “Cowardice” In Dropping Abortion Bill http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/01/22/right-wing-media-attack-house-gop-for-cowardice/202237

Limbaugh Rehashes Debunked Myth To Claim Granting DREAMers Driver’s Licenses Is A Democratic Voter Fraud Scheme http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/01/23/limbaugh-rehashes-debunked-myth-to-claim-granti/202252

Memo To The Media: GOP-Led Senate Is Still Denying Climate Science http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/01/23/memo-to-the-media-gop-led-senate-is-still-denyi/202251

Beltway Press Loves To Cover Polling, Except When It’s Hillary’s http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/01/23/beltway-press-loves-to-cover-polling-except-whe/202248

Fox & Friends Hosts Suggest Lindsey Graham Could Be Answer To GOP’s 2016 Hopes http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/01/23/fox-amp-friends-hosts-suggest-lindsey-graham-co/202246

The No-Go Zone Myth Comes To America http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/01/26/the-no-go-zone-myth-comes-to-america/202263

One Year Later, NRA’s Ted Nugent Says His “Subhuman Mongrel” Slur Was “Too Delicate” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/01/26/one-year-later-nras-ted-nugent-says-his-subhuma/202262

7. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“Last night was the State of the Union address, and everyone’s excited about the huge special appearance by a guy we haven’t seen in a really long time: 2008 Barack Obama. That guy had swagger.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Tonight President Obama gave the State of the Union address. Obama said he was more relaxed just because he’s already done it so many times. Incidentally, Mitt Romney said the same thing about running for president.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The IRS suggests filing early to reduce the chance that someone will steal your identity and file before you. Honestly, if somebody wants my identity so badly they’ll file my tax return for me, go crazy. You can mow my lawn while you’re at it, too.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“A new survey shows that most people trust Google more as a source for current events than traditional news outlets. Traditional news outlets didn’t believe the news until they Googled it.” –Seth Meyers

“The RNC released its first presidential debate schedule, which includes at least nine debates in different states across the country. As opposed to the Democratic debates, which will just be Hillary staring at her opponents until they burst into flames.” –Jimmy Fallon

“According to a new poll, nearly six out of 10 Republicans want Mitt Romney to run for president. So do 10 out of 10 Democrats.” –Conan O’Brien

8. US Senate vote on climate change

Fifty US senators affirmed that they indeed do believe that the activities of human beings contribute to climate change. OK. But 49 senators—fully half the upper house that represents our grand republic—do not. So, hey, you go out there and burn whatever carbon you want to? Not sure what to make of that. Of the senators who think climate change is some other species’ problem, unsurprisingly, are all Republican, and the the senators who wish we’d maybe do something about it.are, except for two Republicans, all Democrats. 1.21.15 Read more at http://www.wired.com/2015/01/senators-dont-believe-human-caused-climate-change/


9. Jon Stewart: ‘Monsters Of Money’


10. Mark Fiore: Whip Steve Scalise


11. GOP clown car runs into ditch

The Republican Party’s clown car has become a clown van.

With nearly two dozen possible presidential candidates, the GOP is having a seriousness deficit. There can’t possibly be that many people who are real candidates.

But they can ride in the clown car from event to event, and nobody can stop them.

Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, told the Freedom Summit crowd, “Don’t worry about being called mean. Let’s talk about Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is the second most influential person in her own household. I would say Hillary Clinton has the wrong vision for America, but I don’t know what it is.”

Bill O’Brien, a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, told the crowd: “I don’t know what is worse, nominating someone because he has been nominated once before (i.e., Mitt Romney) or someone who endorses Common Core (i.e., Jeb Bush). Are we going to nominate one of them?”

The audience bellowed: “Noooooo.”

Roger Simon 1/24/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/gop-clown-car-runs-into-ditch-114565.html

12. The Kochs put a price on 2016: $889 million

The Koch brothers’ operation intends to spend $889 million in the run-up to the 2016 elections — an historic sum that in many ways would mark Charles and David Koch and their fellow conservative mega-donors as more powerful than the official Republican Party. 1/26/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/koch-2016-spending-goal-114604.html


1. E.J. Dionne: Obama: Damn the Torpedoes

“This is good news, people.”

With those five words, President Obama made clear that he thinks it’s far more important to win a long-term argument with his partisan and ideological opponents than to pretend that they are eager to seize opportunities to work with him. He decided to deal with the Republican Party he has, not the Republican Party he wishes he had.

Those ad-libbed words followed what ranks as one of the more polemical passages ever offered in a State of the Union address. “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious,” he declared, “that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.”

Good news, indeed, and in telling the Republicans that all their predictions turned out to be wrong, he was also reminding his fellow citizens which side, which policies and which president had brought the country back.

His analysis of the nature of his political opposition, in turn, dictated the approach he took in the rest of the speech. There was no point in hedging on his wishes, constraining his hopes, and compromising in advance. Earlier in his administration, he might have begun the negotiations by offering his interlocutors their asking price upfront and then moving backward from there. No more. 1/21/15 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/01/21/obama_damn_the_torpedoes_125339.html


2. Dana Milbank: Republicans pulled a classic bait-and-switch with abortion bill

Just two weeks into the new Congress, they voted Tuesday afternoon to bring to the House floor their current priority: a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. The legislation, which doesn’t even grant exceptions to victims of rape unless they report it to police, was scheduled to be taken up Thursday — on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade and coinciding with the annual March for Life.

It was a classic bait-and-switch.

Abortion got barely a mention in last year’s campaign, which led to unified Republican control of Congress. Voters in exit polls said their top priorities were the economy (45 percent), health care (25 percent), immigration (14 percent) and foreign policy (13 percent) — not surprising, given that these are the issues Republicans talked about. A Gallup poll after the election found that fewer than 0.5 percent of Americans think abortion should be the top issue, placing it behind at least 33 other issues.

But instead of doing what voters wanted, House Republicans set out to make one of their first orders of business a revival of the culture wars. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the new Senate majority leader, promised to take up the bill, too. 1/21/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/gop-abortion-bill-a-classic-bait-and-switch/2015/01/21/1620fdd2-a1ad-11e4-b146-577832eafcb4_story.html

3. Max Fisher: John Boehner’s outrageous plan to help a foreign leader undermine Obama

House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress in February, on the topic of Iran. On the surface, this might seem innocent enough. Israel is a close American ally. Surely he should be welcome in Congress, particularly to discuss an issue that concerns his country.

On the surface, Netanyahu’s speech will be about opposing Obama’s nuclear talks with Iran and supporting Republican-led sanctions meant to blow up those talks.

But there’s more than meets the eye here. Netanyahu is playing a game with US domestic politics to try to undermine and pressure Obama — and thus steer US foreign policy. Boehner wants to help him out. By reaching out to Netanyahu directly and setting up a visit without the knowledge of the White House, he is undermining not just Obama’s policies but his very leadership of US foreign policy. The fact that Netanyahu is once again meddling in American politics, and that a US political party is siding with a foreign country over their own president, is extremely unusual, and a major break with the way that foreign relations usually work.1/21/15 Read more at http://www.vox.com/2015/1/21/7866089/netanyahu-boehner-congress


4. Michael Tomasky: Three Cheers for the Death Tax!

Please, conservatives. Taxing wealth appropriately is not just defensible. It’s moral. And I have some pretty good back-up on this position.

Of all the Obama proposals unveiled in the State of the Union address, the one that’s probably drawn the most right-wing fire is the one that would close an inheritance capital-gains tax loophole. This is because Republicans talk about inheritance taxes not just in practical terms but moral ones. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah tea partier in the House, thundered away the other day: “That’s a non-starter. The audacity, that he thinks the government has a right to people’s money? He wants to transfer wealth. It’s one of the most immoral things you can do, is try to steal somebody’s inheritance, to steal it away from their family.”

Chaffetz has it exactly backwards. Undertaxing inherited wealth is what’s immoral. I have pretty good back-up on this point, which I’ll get to. But first, hear the argument. And for openers, let me stipulate that everything I’m about to say applies only to fortunes—certainly not to all inherited money.

That would be absurd. If your parents were thrifty enough to have left you $500,000 or even $1 million, which ain’t “rich” these days, no one—no one—wants to take a red cent of that from you. That’ll help you buy a home, pay for your kids’ college, and eventually if all goes well pay for their kids’ college. So normal pass-downs of money aren’t on the table here.

So, right now, according to this Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, the estate tax doesn’t start until $5.43 million per person or $10.86 million per couple. That’s high enough that only the wealthiest .15 percent of Americans pay any estate tax. Among the 3,780 U.S. households that owed any estate tax in 2013, their average tax rate was 16.6 percent. There are massive loopholes that many rich people take advantage of to avoid even that.

So the conservative position is immoral and un-American. It’s also un-conservative. I say this because well, on matters economic, who is the conservatives’ great hero? Maybe Hayek. But he’s like the Lebron. The Jordan is still Adam Smith. And Adam Smith believed in taxing huge wealth. He wrote this: “A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fullness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural. There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death.” 1.23.15 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/23/three-cheers-for-the-death-tax.html


5. Dana Milbank: Get used to Obama’s swagger

Here’s some practical advice to those who didn’t like President Obama’s swagger during his State of the Union address: Get used to it.

Economic indicators suggest he’s going to have even more to crow about in the months to come.

Obama taunted his Republican opponents on Tuesday night, reminding them in an off-the-cuff remark that he won both of his presidential runs and boasting about the suddenly booming economy: “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health-care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years. This is good news, people.”

His cocky, colloquial cadence was a bit much, but it’s hard to deny Obama a victory lap now that Americans are optimistic about the economy after six years of misery. This isn’t necessarily the result of his policies — but neither were the six years in the doldrums his fault. This president, like all presidents, gets the blame when the economy is weak and the credit when it is strong.

In that sense, people may not appreciate the extent to which Obama is likely to be ascendant in his final two years in office. It happened rather suddenly in the past couple of months, but the lame-duck path Obama was on now looks more like Ronald Reagan’s in 1987 and 1988. If the economy continues on its current trajectory, as most expect, he’ll leave office a popular president and leave the 2016 Democratic nominee with a relatively easy path to victory.

Barring shocks and catastrophe, though, the rising confidence in the economy also bodes well for a win in 2016 by Hillary Clinton or another Democratic nominee. As a general rule, the party of the incumbent president will win an election if the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index is above 100. The index was at 92.6 in December, up from 44.9 in 2008 and 71.5 in 2012.

Barring the unforeseen, the index will soon rise above 100 and remain there for the rest of Obama’s term. His opponents may not think it fair, but the return of the American consumer’s long-suppressed optimism will keep a swagger in the presidential step. 1/23/15 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-get-used-to-obamas-swagger/2015/01/23/8efc3606-a304-11e4-b146-577832eafcb4_story.html

6. Jeffrey Goldberg: The Netanyahu Disaster

An even more obvious flaw: John Boehner is not the commander-in-chief, and does not make U.S. foreign policy. Netanyahu might find Boehner’s approach to Iran more politically and emotionally satisfying than Obama’s, but this is irrelevant. Yes, Congress can pass new sanctions against Iran, but it is the executive branch that drives U.S. Iran policy. Barack Obama will be president for two more years, and it makes absolutely no sense for an Israeli leader to side so ostentatiously with a sitting American president’s domestic political opposition.

Netanyahu appears to believe that his mission is singular, but Israeli prime ministers, in fact, have two main tasks. The first is to protect their country from existential threats. The second: To work very hard to stay on the good side of the president and people of the United States. Success in accomplishing this first task is sometimes predicated on achieving this second task.

Israel has been, for several decades, a bipartisan cause in Washington. Bipartisan support accounts for the ease with which Israeli prime ministers have historically been heard in Washington; it accounts for the generous aid packages Israel receives; and it also explains America’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge.  

Netanyahu’s management of his relationship with Obama threatens the bipartisan nature of Israel’s American support. His Dermer-inspired, Boehner-enabled end-run has alienated three crucially important constituencies. First, the administration itself: Netanyahu’s estrangement from the Obama White House now appears to be permanent. It will be very difficult for Netanyahu to make the White House hear his criticisms of whatever deal may one day be reached with Iran.

The manner and execution and overall tone-deafness of Netanyahu’s recent ploy suggest that he—and his current ambassador—don’t understand how to manage Israel’s relationships in Washington. Netanyahu wants a role in shaping the Iranian nuclear agreement, should one materialize. His recent actions suggest that he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing. 1/27/15 Read more at http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/Netanyahu-vs-Obama-on-Iran/384849/

7. Arif Rafiq: Bobby Jindal’s Muslim Problem

Bobby Jindal, who was born a Hindu, has a Muslim problem. The Louisiana governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate has been repeating a lie that even Fox News was forced to apologize for. In an address before the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society in London last week, Jindal warned of so-called Muslim “no-go zones” in the West—areas in which “non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can.”

He has since doubled down on the claim, even after being pressed for evidence by a British journalist and failing to provide it. Instead, Jindal asserted that no-go zones “absolutely is an issue for the UK [and] absolutely is an issue for America and other European [or] Western nations.”

It’s a sad thing to say for a Hindu convert to Christianity who changed his name from “Piyush” to “Bobby” and paints himself as a model immigrant, but Muslim-baiting is a key part of Jindal’s pitch to a demographic that he is aggressively courting: evangelical conservatives.

Among evangelicals, there is a growing anti-Muslim subculture. This isn’t simply a reaction to terrorism perpetrated by jihadists or the undeniable persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority countries. Evangelicals are being taught to suspect and disdain peaceful Muslims who live in their own country. And that culture of fear is exactly what Jindal is playing into.

There’s a cottage industry of terrorism experts and ex-Muslims who speak at evangelical churches and conferences warning about imaginary Muslim plots to take over the United States and establish “sharia law.” 1/25/15 Read more at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/bobby-jindals-muslim-problem-114579.html


8. Sam Kleiner: Romney’s Foreign Policy Foresight a Myth

The truth is that Romney is not running because he has a vision for our nation’s foreign policy; he is running because he doesn’t know how to accept that his candidacy has already been rejected. Michael Ignatieff, one of the world’s foremost political philosophers and a failed candidate for Prime Minister in Canada, said that candidates who “enjoyed success outside of politics, in academia or journalism or business, [often] go into politics with the reasonable assumption that the prestige they achieved in their former profession should automatically transfer into politics. It doesn’t.” Romney has always been confused about why Americans don’t support him and he assumes that his success in business entitles him to a position on the national stage. “People who think they’re entitled to standing—because they are brainy, rich, or famous—almost always lose,” Ignatieff concluded.

If Romney ultimately decides to jump in the race, we will no doubt hear a great deal about how he was right on important foreign policy questions. Some supporters may even claim that he is a Nostradamus for our era. The reality is that Romney has offered little vision for what his foreign policy would look like and once you dig a bit deeper, his redemption story is a hollow one. 1/27/15 Read more at http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/27/romney-s-foreign-policy-foresight-a-myth.html

9. Mark Morford: Are the Koch brothers the worst humans in America?

There’s a storm coming, and it’s far worse than the east coast blizzard, or CA’s beloved “superstorm,” or Katrina, or the Iraq fiasco, or Bush/Gore’s hanging chads, et al.

It’s a storm made entirely of money, power, bloviated ego, malignant pollution and a brand of calculated, savage greed the nation hasn’t seen since the days of the railroad tycoons and robber barons, if ever.

This particular hate-storm is borne of a single question: What would you get if you crossed a ruthless drug kingpin, a mafia crime lord, the willful blindness of the NRA, the combined CEOs of Monsanto, Exxon and RJ Reynolds and a couple scared old wolverines with God complex and a penchant for contaminating the world?

Why, you’d get the brothers Koch, of course, David and Charles, easily the most unsavory, power-mad libertarian mega-capitalists in modern American history. 1/28/15 Read more at http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2015/01/28/are-the-koch-brothers-the-worst-humans-in-america/?cmpid=NLmorford


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