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Screenshot of Tweet showing Chris Murphy's Senate floor appearance with poster.
That's Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on the Senate floor Thursday, summing up the Republican plan for the millions of Americans who could lose health insurance with the Supreme Court's King v. Burwell decision. Nailed it.
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U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters after a roundtable campaign event with small businesses in Cedar Falls, Iowa, United States, May 19, 2015.    REUTERS/Jim Young   - RTX1DOLO
Anyway, this is the polite version of the face I made when reading this article.
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
Yeahhhh, Queen Hillary. "We report, you decide!" As for the article itself ...
Unlike in 2008, when Mrs. Clinton’s regal bearing was brought low by Barack Obama’s insurgent campaign, there is no one to force her out of her Rose Garden. Neither Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, nor Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, has applied significant pressure on her. That leaves the news media as her only real opponent so far on the way to the Democratic presidential nomination, and while it may not be great for an educated populace or the furtherance of American democracy, it makes all the political sense in the world for Mrs. Clinton to ignore them, too.
"That leaves the news media as her only real opponent so far." It's a horrible premise, as Jay Rosen among others has made clear. But boy is it ever a premise Jason Horowitz does his best to live out in an article with personal animus oozing from under every line. Here's how Horowitz describes Clinton taking press questions, as they'd been endlessly whining she was not doing:
“Tell me — tell me something I don’t know,” she said, almost musically, as she snapped her head to the left in a Janet Jackson-era dance move. “Ha, ha, ha, ha.”

The smile on Mrs. Clinton’s face slowly faded as she nodded and replied and obfuscated in response to the half-dozen questions asked of her.

Later in the piece, "She seems less a presidential candidate than a historical figure, magically animated from a wax museum to claim what is rightfully hers." So, Janet Jackson-era dance moves and a historical figure magically animated from a wax museum—she's old! To claim what is rightfully hers—Queen Hillary, so entitled! How dare she be a strong presidential candidate when we, the press, don't like her?

The entitlement here is on the part of the press, claiming a role in politics that does not belong to it by any reasonable read of the role of the press, with reporters insisting that their inane questions and picayune obsessions are what's important in this race. Insisting that, rather than covering Bernie Sanders' campaign as seriously as they're covering the campaigns of Republicans with lower polling numbers than Sanders, the right way to cover the Democratic primary is by dismissing Sanders and setting themselves up as Clinton's true opposition. It's disgraceful.

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Fri May 22, 2015 at 07:00 AM PDT

Cartoon: Jeb Bush and Brotherly Love

by Mark Fiore

Reposted from Comics by Barbara Morrill

Jeb Bush has performed a valuable service with his recent missteps and flubs, he’s reminded the world of the baggage he willingly carries. I’m not tarring him with the same brush as George W. Bush just because they are brothers. Jeb has voluntarily staffed his foreign policy team with 17 people from his brother’s administration. (This is out of a foreign policy team of 21, mind you.)

Sure, the dynasty thing is bad enough and it’s the same Bush family as before—but whether Jeb is a Bush or not, he deserves to be pilloried for putting people like Paul Wolfowitz in places where they might have an impact on, you know, foreign policy. (It boggles my mind Wolfowitz is actually showing his face in public, never mind appearing on cable news and advising another Bush.)  

Besides Wolfie, there are loads of other people on Jeb’s list of advisers—people like Porter Goss, who gets a bone-chilling shout out in this week’s Frontline piece. (Right after the 43 minute mark.) While the run up to the Iraq war may seem like a long time ago and a president or two away, Jeb is actively bringing these guys back.  

These inept hawks are the ones who took this country to war on a lie and actively contributed to the deaths of thousands of United States servicemen and women and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. And remember, this was not just about "faulty intelligence," the George W. Bush administration (many of who are now in Jeb Bush’s circle of advisers), knowingly used false intelligence to make the case for an unnecessary war. It’s important to remember the recent past so we don’t put the same criminals and idiots in power again. Fortunately, things aren’t looking too good for Jeb right now, but the campaign has barely begun. Enjoy the cartoon, like, comment and all that other good stuff—and be sure to check out the links behind the cartoon.

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Photo of Rep. Jackie Speier posing with poster of sage grouse armed with rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) was not impressed.
The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act this week, and while much of the attention was on the anti-immigration aspects of the legislation, Republican lawmakers also hit the administration on the Endangered Species Act and the endangered sage grouse.
But a Republican maneuver on the $612 billion military bill to block the Interior Department from adding the bird to the endangered species list has set off a major congressional skirmish that has spilled over into Western states, where the sage grouse is revered, and among environmental groups that fear a steady erosion of the Endangered Species Act. […]

House Republicans, in advance of a legal deadline for final determination of the sage grouse status, have gone at it in several forms, most recently in the military bill. There they argued that giving the bird special status would put military training operations in peril because the birds’ habitat—which stretches across an array of Western training areas—would be essentially off limits. […]

House Democrats were not amused by these efforts. Armed with a large poster of the lesser prairie chicken wielding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, accused Republicans of treating the birds as "a sort of feathery sleeper cell."

That's the excuse for adding this prohibition to the bill, but it's not reality.
Management of the bird has not "resulted in unacceptable limits on our military readiness activities," said Mark E. Wright, a Defense Department spokesman.

"Because we have already undertaken these actions voluntarily, and expect to need to manage for the sage grouse indefinitely, we do not believe the listing decision—regardless of the outcome—will affect our mission activities to any great degree," he said.

Who is really opposed to the listing, of course, is the oil and gas industry. Sage grouse habitat is also drilling and fracking ground. Groups like the Western Energy Alliance, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance have been lobbying hard to prevent this listing, and they and their member organizations "are among the top donors to election campaigns of major players in Congress who have pushed legislation that would block Interior’s actions." Of course.
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Today, I'm just going to say, "Josh Duggar" over and over for one hour and fifty-two minutes.

Then, Rosalyn MacGregor's Michigan update will fill the rest.

Oh, wait. Greg.

OK, Greg will interrupt me by saying "Josh Duggar" before I do for half an hour, then I'll go, then Rosalyn.

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Greg Dworkin rounds up stories about Rand Paul's non-filibuster, Huckabee passing on the IA straw poll, Fox setting the rules on who'll debate, media still mad at Hillary, and how Luis Lang was short-changed by the media, and could end up getting screwed again. Finally, ICD codes: an insider's peek at games doctors play to pass the time. A reminder of the somewhat sketchy practice of Members of Congress living (rent & utility-free) in their offices. The NSA's back door into your smartphone. One of the bikers arrested in the Waco shootout was among the group lobbying for looser gun laws at the TX capitol. State legislatures increasingly banning local bans. On everything. Scotland Yard once thought Star Trek fans were a national security threat. Florida bar owner shows us the worst thing wrong with "Stand Your Ground" laws. Guess what? Conservatives are taking a 54th crack at developing their own Move On.

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

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We begin today's roundup with The Des Moines Register's take on the military equipment use by American police forces:
Documents obtained by CNN in April found the Missouri National Guard referred to Ferguson protestors as "enemy forces" during demonstrations last summer. Many Americans don't trust an officer with a department-issued handgun, let alone a grenade launcher. Yet grenade launchers are among the equipment given to local law enforcement by the Department of Defense over the last few decades. Iowa agencies have seven of them.

In this state, 144 agencies have acquired military gear from the federal government valued at about $11.5 million. Items include mine-resistant armored vehicles, automatic handguns, sniper scopes and night-vision goggles. Last year the Register's editorial board reported that the Iowa State University campus police were among the agencies that sought and received M-16 rifles.

Does any of this make Iowans feel any safer?

Probably not.

The Boston Globe:
The Defense Department’s 1033 program is a prime example of a well-intentioned initiative that, in the absence of clear strategy and oversight, has lost some measure of sense. Created in the 1990s, and resurgent after 9/11, the program has funneled billions of dollars’ worth of surplus military equipment to police departments around the country, including many in Massachusetts. Some of the equipment that departments have received — such as rifles, helmets, trucks and night-vision glasses — might on rare occasions prove tactically useful. Others seem patently out of place: Police in the town of Rehoboth, population 11,000, got a mine-resistant tank valued at $658,000.

The Obama administration’s order, sensibly, doesn’t end the 1033 program outright. It bans the transfer of certain items, such as armored vehicles that run on tracks, grenade launchers, and some types of camouflage uniforms. To receive other items, police departments now must offer a plan and justification. That’s a process worth going through before any acquisition. Indeed, police departments around the country have, in recent months, tried to return some expensive military equipment — most notably, those mine-resistant vehicles — after finding that it was costly to maintain and unnecessarily divisive.

More on the day's top stories below the fold.
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Matt Taibbi
Matt Taibbi
Amy Goodman interviewed Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi on the news that the five banks—Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS—which pleaded guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates were fined more than $5 billion. Here's an excerpt:
AMY GOODMAN: But when it comes to this, what did they do?

MATT TAIBBI: They were monkeying around with the prices of every currency on Earth. So, if you can imagine that anybody who has money, which basically includes anybody who’s breathing on the planet, all of those people were affected by this activity. So if you have dollars in your pocket, they were monkeying around with the prices of dollars versus euros, so you might have had more or less money fractionally, depending on all of this manipulation, every single day. And again, Attorney General Lynch went out of her way to say that this activity went on basically every single day for the last five years or so. So every single day, that $5 in your pocket was worth a little bit more or a little bit less, based on what these people were doing. And if you spread that out to everybody on Earth, it turns into a financial crime that’s on a scale that, you know, you would normally only think of in Bond movies or something like that.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, the Justice Department says traders used online chat rooms and coded language to manipulate currency exchange rates. One high-ranking Barclays trader chatted, quote, "If you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying." And another responded, quote, "Yes, the less competition the better." So, could you comment on that, Matt? And also explain why, in this particular case, the companies pleaded guilty.

owl
MATT TAIBBI: Well, I think part of it is because they had this very graphic online record of these people chatting and admitting to essentially a criminal conspiracy in writing. That’s one of the things that’s really interesting about this entire era of financial crime, is that you have so much of this very graphic, detailed documentary evidence just lying around. The problem is the government has either been too overwhelmed or too disinclined to go and get it and do anything with it. In this case, you have people openly calling themselves the cartel or the mafia, and then openly talking about monkeying around or manipulating, you know, the price of this or that.

The CFTC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, actually released chats from a different case involving interest rate swaps yesterday, where they—where one guy was bragging about how he was holding up the price of interest rate swaps like he was bench-pressing at. They were bragging about this, you know, in these chat rooms. So these—what you have to understand about a lot of these people, they’re very testosterone-laden, souped-up young people who think that they’re indestructible. They’re very arrogant. And they’re doing all this in chat rooms, thinking they’re never going to get caught. And they got caught.

AMY GOODMAN: On Wednesday, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat said, quote, "The behavior that resulted in the settlements we announced today is an embarrassment to our firm, and stands in stark contrast to Citi’s values," unquote. Meanwhile, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon called the investigation findings, quote, "a great disappointment to us." He went on to say, quote, "The lesson here is that the conduct of a small group of employees, or of even a single employee, can reflect badly on all of us, and have significant ramifications for the entire firm," said the CEO, Jamie Dimon.

MATT TAIBBI: Well, what’s humorous about this is that virtually all of these so-called too-big-to-fail banks now have been embroiled in scandals of varying degrees of extreme seriousness since 2008. So for them to say, "Oh, it’s just a few bad apples in this one instance," is increasingly absurd. They have been dinged for everything from bribery to money laundering, to rigging Libor, to mass fraud in the subprime mortgage markets and now the forex markets. It’s one mass crime over—you know, after another, and there’s no consequence.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, aren’t these banks competitors?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, sort of. But that’s the main problem in this case, is what’s happening is that they’re colluding, which is a far more dangerous kind of corruption than what we saw, for instance, in 2008, when you saw a lot of banks, in house, committing fraud against their own clients and against the markets. This behavior, where you have a series of major banks colluding to fix the price of a currency, that is extremely dangerous. And if that behavior is allowed to go unchecked, the negative possibilities that could stem from that are virtually limitless.  [...]


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2007Blank Check on its Way:

Caught between the rock that is George Bush and the hard place of troops on the ground in Iraq, the Dems are apparently going to blink:

WASHINGTON - In grudging concessions to President Bush, Democrats intend to draft an Iraq war-funding bill without a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and shorn of billions of dollars in spending on domestic programs, officials said Monday.

The legislation would include the first federal minimum wage increase in more than a decade, a top priority for the Democrats who took control of Congress in January, the officials added.... Democratic officials stressed the legislation was subject to change. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss provisions before a planned presentation to members of the party's rank and file later in the day.

All of the details haven't been released yet, pending meetings in the Dem caucus in the House to discuss the bill, so changes could still be made. Will those changes include real timelines? Seems pretty unlikely, since the leadership says they want a bill that won't be vetoed.

So the fight is shunted off down the road a few months, to when we're supposed to be seeing that mythical September when all the Republicans decide to jump ship. On this, I'm in complete agreement with Atrios: we won't see a movement among Republicans for withdrawal, they're in it too deep. They won't back down.


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How long did it take Noah to collect the 900,000 different kinds of known living insects, plus all the ones scientists have yet to discover?
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On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin rounds Rand's non-filibuster, Huck's pass on the IA straw poll, Fox says who'll debate, media's still mad at Hillary, and how the media failed Luis Lang. How bored docs pass the time: ICD codes. The sketchy practice of crashing at the Capitol. NSA's trap door into your smartphone. One biker went from lobbying for looser gun laws, to busted at Waco. Banning local bans. Scotland Yard once thought Star Trek fans were a national security threat. Florida bar owner shows us the worst thing wrong with "Stand Your Ground" laws. Guess what? Conservatives are taking a 54th crack at developing their own Move On.


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A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held crisis talks with leaders of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday urging them to stand with Baghdad in the face of a Sunni insurgent onslaught that threatens to dismember the country. Picture taken June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3VIB1
A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul.
Just one week after a 19 year-old college student rightly informed Jeb Bush that "your brother created ISIS," the 2016 GOP White House hopeful apparently decided one historical beat down wasn't enough. At a gathering in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Wednesday, Dubya's brother doubled down and declared:
"ISIS didn't exist when my brother was president.  Al Qaeda in Iraq was wiped out when my brother was President."
As Jeopardy's Alex Trebek would say, "Oh, no. I'm so sorry."

Head below the fold for all the reasons why.

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Senator John Cornyn (R), Senator Ted Cruz (C) and Congressman Roger Williams (L) talks to reporters about an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas April 19, 2013. Investigators searched for clues on Friday to the cause of an explosion and inferno
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, right, with Sen. Ted Cruz
In his home state, nine people were just slaughtered in a bloodbath. Over 1,000 weapons were recovered. Families were endangered, and it was the biggest single incident of murder in Waco since the Branch Davidian compound burned down.

Texas' own U.S. senator, John Cornyn, though, hasn't mentioned anything about the Waco incident on his Twitter stream. He's tweeted about Hillary Clinton's fundraising, but he has been radio silent on the massacre in his own state.

What makes this doubly troubling is that he had the nerve, the unmitigated gall, on May 8, to tweet to the world that he blamed the unrest in Baltimore on absentee fathers.

He tweeted:

Liberals, admit it: Baltimore riots are part of a story of absent fathers.
More below.
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The statue of a scout stands in the entrance to Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas, February 5, 2013. Boy Scouts of America board members are holding a three-day meeting in which they will consider ending a controversial national ban on gay membership, sparking a flurry of lobbying from groups both for and against the change.  REUTERS/Tim Sharp (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3DDWY
The Boy Scouts may well earn that equality badge yet.
Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates says the time has come:
The president of the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday called for an end to the group’s blanket ban on gay adult leaders, warning Scout executives that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” and that “any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”
The remarks came after he spoke of shrinking membership and financial struggles. More from his prepared statement:
However, events during the past year have confronted us with the urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore. We cannot ignore growing internal challenges to our current membership policy, from some councils – like the greater New York council, the Denver area council, and others – in open defiance of the policy, to more and more councils taking a position in their mission statements and public documents contrary to national policy.

Nor can we ignore the social, political and juridicial changes taking place in our country – changes taking place over the past year no one anticipated. I remind you of the recent debates we have seen in places like Indiana and Arkansas over discrimination based on sexual orientation, not to mention the impending U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer on gay marriage.

I am not asking the national board for any action to change our current policy at this meeting. But I must speak as plainly and bluntly to you as I spoke to presidents when I was the Director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense. We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained.

A definite step in the right direction. Robert Gates and Scout leadership may earn that equality badge yet.
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Captain Daniel Johnson being arrested for sexual assault
Captain Daniel Johnson has been arrested after being formally charged with sexually assaulting at least nine different women while he was chief of security for the Emanuel State Prison for Women in Georgia. Most of the women were from the metro Atlanta area.

Speaking to Daily Kos, attorney Walter Madison stated, "This man regularly threatened and manipulated these women. He would tell them he'd never let them see their kids again or convince them that he'd get their charges reduced. If they still refused him, he would tell them nobody was going to believe them if they reported it since he was in charge."

In some ways, it appears that was true. In a video interview below, it was revealed that one alleged victim of Captain Johnson had previously reported that he sexually assaulted her and the accusation was disregarded.

It has now been reopened.

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Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
McDonald's worker with a sign made to look like a paycheck to an
McDonald's workers are once again rallying ahead of the company's shareholder meeting, boosting their call for $15 an hour pay and the right to join a union. There was no ignoring the protest Wednesday:
McDonald's shut down a restaurant near its headquarters Wednesday after the area was swamped by hundreds of protesters calling for pay of $15 an hour and a union.

The restaurant was closed because of traffic concerns, said Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, a spokeswoman for McDonald's. The company also told employees in a building targeted by protesters they should work from home, she said.

McDonald's has only made a weak token gesture toward raising worker pay, saying it would raise wages in the small percentage of stores operated directly by the company, then using that to boost its case that McDonald's is not responsible for wages and working conditions in stores operated by franchisees. But the low-wage worker movement for $15 pay has had a big national impact, with the Los Angeles city council having voted this week to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. Los Angeles follows Seattle and San Francisco in passing such a law, while other cities like Chicago and Oakland have raised their minimum wages above the levels passed by any state government to this point.
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