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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Editorial Comment

You found the early edition of The Truth Be Told before our official Grand Opening on March 1, 2015.
Within we will expose that which the wingnuts want hidden and highlight the incessant failure(s), complete ignorance and being utterly wrong about every single thing.
We will attempt to follow the format of starting at the Adult's Table (read: Liberals and Progressives) with posts about how adults handle things, then proceeding to the Children's Table (read: Libertarians and Republicans) with posts about how children cannot handle things and ending up with post of varying nature (read: not strictly politics) showcasing the foibles of shall we say the lesser minds out there.
Thanks for stopping by.

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Chelsea Clinton’s Accomplishments May Surprise you

by Jill Bond
bill&CChelsea Clinton is often targeted by Republicans who have nothing better to do than tear down a woman who is, simply put — brilliant.
She’s turned the other cheek to harsh and vicious attacks from right-wing zealots like Rush Limbaugh while still an adolescent in the White House. The right likes to label her as ugly and claim she’s where she is today solely because she’s ridden her parents’ coattails. But the real ugliness lies in the hearts of those right-wing extremists who have no idea what real brains and compassion looks like.
In order to make it clear to Chelsea’s detractors that she is actually a very learned and accomplished young woman in her own right, here’s an abbreviated list of some of her achievements:
  • Chelsea is so intelligent that she skipped the third grade.
  • She was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist at the age of 17.
  • During her teenage years she was active in Model United Nations — an extracurricular activity in which students typically role play as delegates to the United Nations.
  • She graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in History.
  • She earned her master’s degree in International Relations from Oxford University.
  • In 2003, she joined McKinsey & Company as a consultant, becoming the youngest person in her class to be hired.
  • Clinton completed a Master of Public Health degree at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2010 and began teaching there in 2012.
  • She’s serves as vice-chairperson for the Clinton Foundation and serves on the board of the School of American Ballet and IAC.
  • In 2010, she began serving as Assistant Vice-Provost for the Global Network University of New York University, working on international recruitment strategies.
  • She is the co-founder of the Of Many Institute for Multi-faith Leadership at NYU and serves as its co-chair.
The GOP crying nepotism over Chelsea Clinton is really rich, because…Bush(s).
Chelsea clinton babyNot only are the Bushes products of nepotism, they’ve gotten fat eating at the public trough, and yet the haters go after Chelsea who’s never worked in the public sector. Please.
Chelsea’s work alone toward advancing women’s equal access, representation, and compensation in communities around the world is enough to make me love her. She has already accomplished more in her thirty-odd years than I would ever dream to.

So I think we can safely put to rest the baseless assumptions and attacks made by those who are obviously jealous of the fact that Chelsea Clinton is intelligent, highly educated, and accomplished, and is making a real difference in the world in which we all live.
I can hardly wait to see what a marvelous woman Chelsea’s daughter Charlotte grows up to be.

DNC Endorses Constitutional Amendment Guaranteeing The Right To Vote

A constitutional right to vote
On the weekend, the DNC  gave its unanimous endorsement to a constitutional amendment that explicitly states voting is an individual right.
Donna Brazile, the DNC’s Vice Chair of Voter Expansion and Protection released a statement announcing the endorsement.
Last year at the DNC Winter Meeting, we announced the Voter Expansion program to ensure that every eligible voter is registered, every registered voter is able to vote, and that every vote is counted. Today we built on this critical mission by unanimously passing a resolution to amend the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee Americans’ right to vote.  The Democratic Party stands for inclusion, and we know that we are all better when everyone has a voice in the democratic process. The right to vote is a moral imperative, and I am proud to support this resolution.
This is a welcomed development to FairVote, an organization dedicated to making the vote a constitutional right. As noted by the organization’s Executive Director, Rob Richie,
More than a decade ago, FairVote became the leading institutional voice calling for establishing an explicit individual right to vote in the U.S. Constitution, joining academic stars like law professors Jamin Raskin and Lani Guinier and historian Alex Keyssar, journalists like John Nichols and Katrina vanden Heuvel, and elected officials like Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr and his tireless aide Frank Watkins.
The DNC’s support recognizes that when left in the hands of state legislatures, the vote is treated like a privilege to be bestowed on select individuals based on the legislature’s partisan interests.  The DNC’s endorsement of the vote as a right recognizes it as a fundamental necessity to the preservation of other individual rights and freedoms.  Eligibility to participate in the political process has long been subject to the partisan interests of lawmakers.  With that, we have seen an erosion of political participation and increasing skepticism in the value of voting.  With fewer people voting, political accountability has lost all meaning.
Aside from rectifying problems, a constitutional recognition of voting as a right means benefits to individual voters, but it also means an improved political system and with it better policy.
In a 2014 article, Law Professor Lani Guinier explained in legal terms the benefits that come with recognizing the vote as a constitutional right and the standard that states would have to meet in order to justify restrictions on the vote.
By amending the Constitution to enshrine an explicit right to vote, states would be required to prove that all difficulties, restrictions and burdens to voting served a “compelling” interest. Such an amendment would ensure uniform standards and prohibit laws that make it harder to vote.
In other words, a constitutional amendment should shift the burden from individuals proving to the state that they are eligible to vote, to the state having to show a compelling interest in suppressing the vote.
Jamin Raskin, another law professor, wrote a paper in 2003 in which he identified two categories of people who are permanently disenfranchised under the law solely because of where they live. Taxpaying citizens residing in DC can vote in Presidential elections but are limited to electing a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives and do not have representation in the Senate.  Over 4 million Americans “residing in federal Territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have no right to vote for president and no voting representation in the Congress.”
Raskin identifies a third category of people who are disenfranchised and in some states for life, namely people who convicted of felonies. He also points to the fact that in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court ruled that the people’s right to vote for president is at the will of the states.
The Court held that, since the “individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States,” whenever such a right is granted by state legislators, they can always revoke it and simply “take back the power to appoint electors.
In short, the will of “the people” exists only when it suits the partisan interests of politicians be they in state legislatures or in Congress.  With that comes changes in the lawmakers’ priorities.  Rather than earning votes with good policies, lawmakers focus on ways to manipulate voter eligibility and access to the polls.  Combining vote suppression with gerrymandering resulted in an increased numbers of districts in which Republicans are “safe” from the accountability that comes with free and fair elections.
The vote is not only a mechanism to voice our views on which policies we like. It is also protects other rights and freedoms.  As Republican districts got “safer” from accountability, we saw an erosion of other rights. Collective bargaining, reproductive rights, fair housing, access to education and opportunity are shadows of their former selves because of policies supported by Republicans in “safe” districts.
Judges appointed and confirmed by Republicans increasingly restricted the meanings of free speech, expression and religion.  We have also seen narrower interpretations of the right to counsel, the right to remain silent and protections against cruel and unusual punishment. We witnessed the erosion and disappearance of laws to protect minorities from discrimination in the work place, in access to education and at the polls.  Black men are shot like dogs by the police, who enjoy increasing impunity. Certain protestors are arrested for standing still, not walking fast enough and walking outside “the free speech zone” while others “protest” by threatening the lives of politicians they disagree with and with semi-automatics strapped to their backs.  These are only a few examples.
Increasingly politicians disregard the will of the people and in some instances show increasing contempt for the people they are supposed to represent. Despite the overwhelming popular support for sensible laws to keep guns out of the hands of people with proven violent histories, legislatures pander to lobbyists for gun manufacturers. Despite popular support for affordable and accessible healthcare, lawmakers dedicate their efforts to take healthcare away from millions of people.  They do this knowing that their big donors will continue support their campaigns and knowing that they are “safe” from accountability by the electorate.
We need a constitutional amendment that recognizes voting as the individual right of all American citizens of voting age to stop partisan based manipulation of the vote and with it manipulation of elections. We also need it to re-establish political accountability and to preserve other rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.
By endorsing a constitutional amendment to recognizing voting rights, the DNC supported the return of power to where it rightfully belongs: voting age citizens of the United States.  This is an important difference between Democrats who trust the power of the people and Republicans who hold contempt for it.

Senate Democrats Crush 4th Republican Attempt To Overturn Obama Immigration Action

Senate Democrats turned up the heat on Boehner and McConnell by blocking the fourth Senate Republican attempt to overturn President Obama’s immigration actions by attaching it to the Homeland Security funding bill.
Today’s vote was just like the previous three. Republicans voted to move the bill forward, except for Dean Heller of Nevada, while Democrats and Independents stood united in opposition. The final vote was 47-46 in favor, with Mitch McConnell voting no as a procedural move so that he could bring the vote up again later.
Before the vote, Sen. John Barrasso went through the same Republican talking points that they tried to use during the previous three attempts to move the bill forward. The only difference is that Barrasso added the ruling by the Bush appointed partisan judge that blocked President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Republicans tried to shift the focus away from Homeland Security and towards immigration. Barrasso accused Senate Democrats of, “Not understanding why they lost” the midterm election and called on Democrats to, “stop defending the president and the White House.”
Democratic vice chair of the Appropriations Committee Sen,. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) called out Republicans and said, “We should be voting on a clean Homeland Security bill.” She called out Republicans for playing politics while the country faces some of our biggest homeland security challenges right now. Mikulski contrasted the hypocrisy of Republicans asking what is Obama doing to protect America while ignoring the “boots on the ground” in this country who need funding. The Maryland senator urged Republicans to put immigration aside and pass a clean Homeland Security funding bill.
Democrat Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) used the threat of an attack against her home state Mall of America to hammer Republicans for jeopardizing national security over the immigration language in the bill. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) went after Republicans on the point that members of the Coast Guard won’t be paid.
Republican Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) went with the standard Republican talking point that Democrats are obstructing the bill while he ignored the Democrats’ issues with immigration riders in the bill.
With days to go until Homeland Security shuts down, Senate Republicans have their backs against the wall. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have to quickly decide whether he will abandon the House Republican suicide mission of trying to overturn President Obama’s executive action immigration by tying it to Homeland Security funding, or if he is finally willing to pass a clean Homeland Security funding bill.
It is clear that the House Republican Homeland Security bill is going nowhere fast. Unless Speaker John Boehner backs down at the last moment and allows a clean vote on Homeland Security funding, it looks like the agency is heading for a shutdown.
Republicans tried to pick a fight with President Obama by tying Homeland Security funding to overturning his immigration actions, and they are losing in a big way. The ball is now in Boehner’s court, and if Homeland Security shuts down, Republicans will be blamed.

Chicks On The Right Have Questions

This Liberal Has Answers.
by Ann Werner
Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 1.06.09 PMI was sent an article written by a woman who identifies herself as Mockarena, a member of a team who call themselves Chicks On The Right. I am familiar with these women in a small way. I don’t normally read their column because – well, because they’re on the right and I’m not. But last week, Mockarena asked some questions and said she genuinely wanted answers. I thought I would accommodate her. I have included her questions and my responses.
1. Do you think that feminine hygiene products should be covered expenses under Obamacare (or employer healthplans as mandated by Obamacare?) Do you believe that a monthly menstrual cycle should be included under the broad definition of “women’s reproductive health?” If not, why not?
Well, Mock, I have to say, that is a ridiculous question. Of course no one thinks that Summer’s Eve or tampons or any of the other paraphernalia women have to deal with on a monthly basis should be covered under any medical plan. By the way, Obamacare isn’t a medical plan. This is something that seems to confuse those on the right. It is merely an effort by the government to regulate the out of control behavior of insurance companies and to bring down costs for all of us by spreading around the expenses associated with health care. Now, back to your question. As for including a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, well, yes, it is a part of women’s health. After all, our menstrual cycles are a part of our lives. If we don’t get one, we go to the doctor to determine why it is absent. If there is a pregnancy involved, then we know the reason. But if not, then there must be an underlying reason that could affect our health in a variety of ways. As we age, our cycles can become erratic and that tells us that we are coming to the end of our reproductive lives. (Mock, you are too young to know about this via experience but I have been there, done that, and have gone to my doctor for assistance in finding a remedy because it really was unpleasant in so many ways). The menstrual cycle is a part of overall women’s health and as such, deserves our attention when things don’t run smoothly. But just because that is the case doesn’t mean that health insurance should cover the cost of everyday maintenance when things are going well. So no, liberals don’t think that things like Summer’s Eve or sanitary napkins or tampons or any other things of similar nature should be covered by insurance. We tend to think of those things as part of being a woman.
2. Do you think that over-the-counter medications and diapers for kids should be covered expenses under Obamacare (or employer healthplans as mandated by Obamacare?) If not, why not?
Again, this is silly. You are being silly, right? No! Why should anyone think that? It has never been the case. Only prescription medications have ever been covered under commercial health plans. And diapers have never been covered. Why would you think that anyone is putting forth the idea that the Affordable Care Act (and that is the real name of the law, not Obamacare, just in case you were unaware) would change the status quo? The law has to do with INSURANCE COMPANIES and regulates their behavior. For instance, the caps on lifetime care have been removed. Oh – and here’s a really good aspect of the law – women can no longer be charged more than a man for health insurance just because of  the fact of their womanhood. That really pissed me off. I had an employer plan and was charged more than one of the men I worked with. We are the same age, although I am 3 months older than he. I am in great shape, keep my weight down, low cholesterol – all of it – and he is grossly overweight. I take care of myself and he doesn’t but he got the benefit of a lower premium. Thanks to the ACA, things like that won’t happen anymore because it’s against the law.
3. What does “healthcare is a human right” mean to you exactly? If I have neck strain due to my job sitting at a computer, and the only thing that eases that tension is a good deep-tissue massage, should that be a covered expense under Obamacare (or employer healthplan as mandated by Obamacare?) If not, why not?
That’s a good question! Yes, I do believe that healthcare is a human right. Your question, though, is a bit of a gotcha because you are positing that deep tissue massage is the one and only answer and we all know that really isn’t the case. Now if you are dealing with neck strain due to your job, I think that exercises to loosen up those muscles would be the optimal thing to do. That and making certain that your workstation is ergonomically correct so the strain in your neck would be relieved. It’s a pretty simple thing to do – I know because I work at a computer all day long and I had those problems. But adjusting my seat and making sure the screen of my computer was in a position where I didn’t have to hunch my neck or put it in a position that would cause pain worked wonders! However, if you do have an injury that does not respond to common sense methods, I think that seeing a physician to determine the reasons for the ongoing pain should certainly be in order and certainly be covered. After all, there are conditions that can be alleviated by any number of therapies, whether medicinal or through something like chiropractic, which is now and has been included in many health plans.
4.  If healthcare is a human right, then it should reasonably follow that food is also a right, correct?  If that is the case, specifically what sort of food am I entitled to eat, and specifically what kind of food should I receive from the government (taxpayers) without paying anything for it myself?  Do I have a right to filet mignon?  If not, why not?  And who should make that decision?
Yes, food is a human right. After all, we do need food in order to stay alive. We should all have enough food to be able to go about our daily lives. Now, again, you are doing that gotcha thing. Of course, filet mignon isn’t a human right. That’s a luxury and nobody is saying that pheasant under glass, filet mignon or baked Alaska should be mandated by the government. But I do believe that families should be able to sit down to more than a bowl of cereal for dinner. I’m betting that you are one of the fortunate folks who have never had to rely on foods stamps. And if that is the case, I’m happy for you. However there are people in this country – hard working people – who don’t make enough money to put decent food on the table for their families. How do I know this? I was one of them. Back in the 1970s, during the first fuel crisis, I was working for a car dealer. Tumbleweeds were rolling through the showroom and nobody was making any money. I was a single mom. I had bills. I remember how embarrassing it was for me to pull up to the food stamp office in my brand new car (which wasn’t mine, it was a demo) dressed in my suit and going in there to be met by the angry stares of the other people who were waiting their turn. Because of my appearance they immediately assumed that I was some sort of “taker” – but nothing could have been further from the truth. I was dead broke and had a five year old at home. So I sucked it up and got my food stamps. I hated using them but you know what? It made the difference from me going on welfare and having EVERYTHING paid for by the government and me being able to continue being a taxpayer and contributing to society. I did know other women who had no choice but to go on welfare – one woman comes to mind. She had four young children and her husband just left one day. No child support, no nothing. Just poof! Gone! What would you say to her? Would you beat her over the head with filet mignon questions or would you understand that she needed help? I was only on food stamps for two months but it made all the difference in the world. Before I go on to your next question, I would like to remind you that a great number of our veterans are recipients of food stamps. Would you have that benefit taken away from them because you are so concerned about a few cents coming from your tax dollars? Would you beat veterans over the head with gotcha questions?
5.  If healthcare is a human right, then it should reasonably follow that shelter is also a right, correct?  If that is the case, specifically what sort of shelter am I entitled to have, and specifically what kind of shelter should I receive from the government (taxpayers) without paying anything for it myself?  Do I have a right to air conditioning, for example?  If not, why not?  And who should make that decision?
Again, you are going on the assumption that everyone who needs assistance is a lazy person who just wants handouts. Yes, shelter is a human right when you are living in a country that is a place of plenty. Case in point, I work with a young man (he’s in his 30s) who just happens to be a Republican. And he’s VERY Republican. But you know what? He lives in Section 8 housing. Why? Because he’s broke and trying to work his way out of it. He is also divorced and pays child support for his two daughters and that is where the bulk of his money goes. Now I don’t know if the place he’s renting has air conditioning, however, he does pay rent on a scale that he can afford because despite what you are inferring, everything is not free. I think he’s a great guy for being a good father and tending to his parental obligations, don’t you? Or would you prefer that he have to pay full rent and forgo paying child support? I don’t know what rents are where you live, but in my neck of the woods, $1300 is about what one pays for a modest one bedroom apartment. And no, people are not ENTITLED to air conditioning. People are entitled to have a roof over their heads. Or do you think they should all just go and live under a bridge or find a nice dry cave?
6.  If your answers to #4 and #5 involve you using the word “basic” as part of your answer, please define what “basic” food and “basic” shelter is, exactly. In fact, please define what “basic” healthcare is, while you’re at it.
I didn’t use the term basic, but if you look it up in the dictionary, there are several definitions. For the purpose of this answer, let’s just go with FUNDAMENTAL  and constituting or serving as the basis or starting point. Basic food is staples like bread, sources of protein like meat (ground beef and chicken and eggs will do, not those filet mignons you mentioned), milk, vegetables, fruit. You know, nothing fancy, just the things one needs to live and be healthy. I think shelter was covered in the above answer, but I will expand – a place to lay your head and bathroom facilities, either private or shared are pretty basic. A hot plate at the very least, a small kitchen would be better. One room will do and there are many who would jump at the chance to have a room to call their own. Healthcare? When you are sick you have a place to go and get treatment. To keep costs down, at least once a year a health checkup and survey to make sure that you are in good shape – cholesterol, lipid panels, all the same things you get when you go in for your annual checkup. For women, pap smears and mammograms to make certain that no cancer cells are detected. We all know that early detection and treatment is a LOT less expensive than when a disease becomes full blown and very costly to combat. And in the end, if it’s too late, all that money is down the drain when a person dies for lack of early detection. It’s a fiscally responsible way of handling healthcare and it affects all of us. I mean, really, do you think that hospitals were charging $300 for an aspirin just for the hell of it? It is because people without health insurance were using emergency rooms as their primary source of health care and they had no means to pay the bills and so voila! It was passed on to you and me – no differentiation between liberals and conservatives. We all paid. We are all still paying because there are states that have turned their backs on the ACA and deprived tens of thousands of their citizens of the BASIC health care needs that could alleviate so much suffering, not to mention those expenses you are so concerned about. I am too, which is why I do not understand what the beef is with the ACA. Full implementation would bring down costs even more. While costs are still rising, they are going up at a reduced rate and with full implementation, it only stands to reason that the rate would slow even more. After a while, we may even be able to turn the trend. Actually, if we just had single payer, that would get rid of the 20% that goes to the insurance company middlemen right off the bat. But you “fiscally responsible” conservatives prefer that insurance companies profit from human suffering. So be it. I’m just saying – 20 percent off the top – something to consider!
7.  How do you define the term “fair share” exactly?
That’s a hard one but I think that if you are wealthy – part of the 1% if you will – then you should be willing to pitch in a bit more. After all, this country gave you the opportunity to become wealthy and really, if you’ve got piles of money, you won’t miss a little extra. I think that wealthy people should pay at least as much as the guy who makes, say $50,000, and goes to work every day of his life except those two weeks off annually for vacation. Sure, I think people should get deductions for things like kids, mortgage interest and charitable contributions. Everyone should.  If a person is making subsistence wages, then I don’t think they need to be taxed. Did you know that social security benefits are taxed? They are! I know. I receive social security and sure enough, I get taxed on my benefits. If I make over a certain amount in a year, I have a tax bill. I paid it this year, although last year I didn’t have to. It all depends on the situation of the individual. But if you’re wealthy, yes, you should pay a little more. And you know what? When those taxes go to lift others out of poverty, we all benefit. Remember the Clinton years when the economy was booming? Taxes were higher then but EVERYONE had more money. It’s a win-win thing. When people have money, they spend it on goods and services. That raises demand, which in turn, translates to employers hiring people to meet that demand, which puts more money into the pockets of more people who go out and spend it on goods and services … You see where this is going. Oh, and by the, how about the people who own WalMart? They get away with paying hardly any taxes – if they pay any at all – and yet, they are so cheap that they refuse to pay their employees a living wage, causing those employees to turn to the government for assistance. Money out of everyone’s pocket – yours and mine.
8. If my “human right” to something requires the service of someone else, how exactly is it a human right?
That’s easy. Let’s make it personal. You are driving along, obeying all the traffic laws. Some drunk comes speeding out of nowhere and slams into your car. You are grievously injured. Do you think you have a right to medical service? If so, there’s your answer. If not, we’ll leave you to die bloodied and battered for lack of a paramedic, an ambulance and emergency care followed up by a stay in the hospital while the drunk gets away for lack of the police being called. You see, the paramedic, the doctors, the nurses and the rest of the hospital staff, as well as the police are all providing services to keep you alive and to attain justice for an act against your person. Don’t you think you have a right to those services? If not, please file a directive to let the appropriate people know that you won’t be requiring their services in the event of a catastrophic occurrence in your life. We wouldn’t want to waste taxpayer money getting you back up to speed if you think that needing another human being from time to time is a burden on society.
9.  Obama once said that at some point, you’ve made enough money.  What amount of money do you believe should be the maximum someone should be allowed to make?
Oh, you’re doing that gotcha thing again! When President Obama said that, he was not implying that there would be a cap placed on the amount of money any one individual is allowed to earn and you couching that question in a manner that suggests otherwise is beneath you, don’t you think? Now let’s see what he REALLY said. “We’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But, you know, part of the American way is, you know you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.” In case you are wondering, he was talking about our capitalistic system and how it works.
10. How do you define a “living wage” exactly?
A living wage is a wage that is enough to provide the necessities of life: food, clothing shelter. If a person works a full time job, that job should pay enough to meet those necessities. It doesn’t have to pay for cable TV, it doesn’t have to be enough to take a vacation in Cancun. It doesn’t have to be enough to put your beloved filet mignon on the table every night of the week, or even once a month, although it would be nice if maybe once a year, on a special occasion, there would be enough saved up – but not necessary. Do I have to bring up WalMart again?
You say you have tons more questions. Bring ‘em on, Mock. I’ve got tons of answers, and I sincerely hope that reading those I’ve just provided will enlighten you. You see, liberals believe in personal responsibility – only we don’t use it as a slogan. We recognize that there are times when people need assistance and we don’t have that stingy gene that seems to inhabit people on the right. We don’t mind sharing. Our parents taught us that concept when we were just babies and we’ve remembered it all of our lives. It seems that you have forgotten the concept. It’s a shame that you are so angry and so concerned that somebody somewhere is going to get something you deem they don’t deserve and that it’s coming our of your pocket. When you use the term personal responsibility, it has to be more than a platitude. If you’re going to talk the talk, then, to be taken seriously, you need to walk the walk!

And I Quote

Media Intentionally Hides Republicans’ Economic Failures And Democrats’ Success

It is true that Republican policies are why Americans are rapidly losing economic ground to the few wealthy elites, but the media is not only culpable, they are complicit …

The De-Evolution of the Republican Party

The irony is that so many republicans do not believe in evolution...
Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower must be rolling in their graves. 

A Republican Tells Me Why She Hates President Obama, And All I Can Do Is Shake My Head

by Allen Clifton
Being that I’m in Texas, most of the people I encounter are Republicans. And believe me when I say that telling a wingnut that I’m a progressive is probably less popular than if I had just told them I was a drug kingpin who primarily focuses on selling crystal meth.
So, needless to say, I try to avoid discussing politics much of the time.
However, there are times where I get baited into doing it, which is what happened last night. A buddy of mine had invited me and a couple of other friends into a group chat to discuss a few things. Well, after a little back and forth amongst the group one of his friends started chatting with me directly, eventually asking me the dreaded question, “What do you do?” Well, I proceeded to give my usual answers, prompting her to simply ask, “So, are you for or against Obama?” At that time I informed her that I try to avoid political discussions because often people are filled with misinformation and if I try to correct anything that they want to believe, they usually just get very upset.
But I did ask her if she was for or against the president. She saw my question as a bit hypocritical since I didn’t answer hers, to which I responded by telling her that it’s just my morbid curiosity to know what “side” some people are on and what information they’ve used to come to that conclusion.
“I hate President Obama. Completely against him,” she said.
This prompted me to simply ask, “Why?”
Upon reading her answer, I instantly regretted my decision to venture into this discussion.
Here was her answer:
I think Obama is a lazy horrible excuse for a president. He’s playing golf while our citizens are being killed..he holds a press conference for some thug who got shot Bc he assaulted a police officer, yet I don’t see any press conference about Christians being slaughtered, or Jews being killed for anti-Semitic reasons. He’s a schmuck and the ONLY reason that he was elected the first time was bc he’s black, and either black people voted for him or white people didn’t wanna seem racist. And the reason he’s still president is bc of voter fraud. I’d LOVE to see them require id’s for votes, bc I guarantee he wouldn’t still be around.
Sadly, this is what I deal with practically on a daily basis. It’s no wonder these people hate President Obama; look at the utter and total bullshit (excuse my language) that they believe. Here this person was, basing her entire opinion on the president completely off of nothing but pure wingnut propaganda. And the thing is, outside of him being a golfer and making comments about the Mike Brown shooting (mostly in response to the protests that had broken out following the incident), nothing she said was true.
Did she just make all of this up? No. This is the kind of crap that the wingnut media pushes every single day. “Information” that’s literally just pulled out of thin air.
Take her comments about voter fraud, which are completely baseless. Between 2000 and 2010, out of 649 million votes, there were thirteen cases of legitimate voter fraud found. That’s barely one per year. Yet this individual would swear right to your face that the only reason President Obama was re-elected was because of rampant voter fraud.
Then there’s the issue with him not holding a press conference about the killing of christians and jews by ISIL. Then, tell me, what are all these press conferences he’s held concerning ISIS for the past year? And she’s clearly not aware that ISIL isn’t just targeting non-muslims, they’re slaughtering other muslims every single day as well. Then again, you rarely see Faux News talk about that so it’s not surprising that she knows nothing about it.
Needless to say, I proceeded to embarrass her by pointing out several facts that debunked her nonsense – which prompted her to tell me I was an idiot and instantly block me. I really shouldn’t have even bothered. With someone who is that far gone, I would probably have had more luck trying to reason with a brick wall.
But it does go to show you just how blatantly inaccurate the information is that the wingnut media pushes all the time. Because while her answer was slightly more ridiculous than most of the ones I get, it still wasn’t that far off from the average response I get from the typical wingnt when the president’s name is brought up.
And the truth is, I’m fine with people not agreeing with President Obama. All I ask is that their opposition to him be based on facts rather than fiction – which, sadly, is usually not the case. That fact was perfectly demonstrated by this woman’s absolutely ridiculous reasoning why she dislikes our president.

As Terrorists Threaten U.S. Malls, Conservatives Push To Shutdown Homeland Security

A day after it was reported that a terrorist group was urging attacks on malls in the United States, conservatives continued to refuse to support a bill that would avoid a shutdown of Homeland Security.
Conservatives and Republicans have adopted the delusional line of thinking that a Homeland Security shutdown won’t be that bad.
According to National Journal:
A DHS shutdown now appears possible, if not likely. And the optics, conservatives say, are not as bad for the party as some pundits have screamed about. Some Republicans believe that, if spun right, Democrats will get the brunt of the blame.
“DHS should not shut down for one day,” Sen. Ted Cruz argued during a press conference before Congress left for last week’s recess. “The only reason there is a risk that could happen is that Senate Democrats are putting partisan politics above the national security interests of this country.”
Adding to their confidence, some Republicans have pointed out that the impact of a DHS shutdown might not even be that extreme. Unlike during the full government shutdown in October 2013, DHS is just a fraction of the government, and most of the things people care greatly about will continue to function.
Risking a shut down for any length of time just so that Republicans can prove a political point is an insane strategy. Congressional Republicans and the conservative outside groups are obsessed with using their congressional majority to prove their dominance over Democrats. If they have to risk a potential terrorist attack in order to make themselves feel stronger, it appears that they are happy to do it.
Republicans refuse to understand common sense. They are in charge of Congress now. When something goes wrong, like shutting down Homeland Security, they are going to be blamed. It’s that simple. Polling has already shown that the majority isn’t buying the Republican demand that the immigration executive actions must be undone before Homeland Security can be funded.
Polling also shows that the majority is not buying their attempts to blame Senate Democrats for a potential shutdown. Democrats have made it clear that they aren’t going to blink and agree to vote to overturn President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Even if they did vote with Republicans, the president would veto the bill, and Republicans would be right back to where they started from.
This mess was created by House Republicans, and now they are willing to potentially jeopardize the lives of American citizens because a “win” is more important than national security.
The Republican behavior in this situation is a reminder that it isn’t Washington that’s broken. The nation’s dysfunctional politics begin with the Republican Party.

Another Republican Needs Remedial Lessons in Lady Parts

Oh no. 
A Republican tried to do biology again. 
This never goes well.
This time it was Idaho state legislator Vito Barbieri, who sits on a committee considering a bill that would ban telemedicine abortions (where a woman video-chats with a doctor who prescribes medication to induce an abortion).  Barbieri had a question for a doctor testifying against the ban, and he had some…difficulties…with the basics of female anatomy.
He asked the doctor testifying if a woman could swallow a pill with a camera so her doctor could conduct a remote gynecological exam. In her vagina. With a camera. That she swallowed.
Here’s a (very) rough diagram for Rep. Barbieri to explain the problem with his plan. I drew it in crayon in the hopes that it would help him relate.
Lady Parts
So unless Barbieri thinks doctors need to conduct rectal exams before they prescribe abortion medication, his suggestion is ignorant, offensive, and insane.
Needless to say, the bill still passed the committee, 13-4, because anti-choice Republicans are terrible.

Greg Grothman Urges Constituents To Spy On Food Stamp Users

by Arthur Delaney


It's not unusual for a Republican lawmaker to relate stories of poor people using food stamps to buy questionable items. It's less common for a congressman to urge constituents to proactively snoop on other people's shopping carts.
Freshman Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) reportedly said at a town hall in his district last week that constituents should monitor purchases made with debit cards from Food Share, which is Wisconsin's name for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Grothman "told the people in attendance to keep an eye on the types of things people on Food Share buy at the grocery store," Oshkosh Northwestern Media reported Monday.
"I would argue some people are arranging their life to be on Food Share," Grothman said, according to reporter Jeff Bollier. Grothman listed welfare fraud, debt and immigration as the biggest problems facing Washington.
A spokesman for Grothman didn't immediately respond to a request for more information about his remarks.
Though last year marked the conclusion of a two-year battle over food stamp reform, the House Agriculture Committee, which oversees nutrition assistance, is poised to begin a top-to-bottom review of the $78 billion program with a hearing on Wednesday. Grothman is not a member of the committee.
During the SNAP debate in 2012, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) took to the House floor to lament food stamp recipients buying Alaskan king crab legs -- a gripe about food stamps dating to the 1990s. Food stamp supermarket stories have been a Republican staple since at least 1976, when Ronald Reagan told the sad tale of a "strapping young buck" using his benefits to buy steak.
Nutrition assistance can be used for any food item, but not for hot prepared meals, household supplies, or things like alcohol and cigarettes.

An Oklahoma Legislator Wants to Ban Banning?

by John Paul Brammer
And now, more from our ongoing coverage of the farce that Oklahoma has become. State legislators have proposed a bill that would ban local governments from banning oil and gas drilling in their city limits.
The ban-happy state has at last proposed a ban of the one thing we thought they could not ban: banning itself. Oklahoma has opened a wormhole in the baniverse. They’ve created banception.
The bill, proposed by Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Jeff Hickman, would hand over control of who decides where drilling takes place from local governments to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
Hickman says he is doing it to protect Oklahoma’s economy, and that the state should be able to tap into any resources within state limits. “Minerals don’t stop under city limit boundaries,” he said.
But Democratic Rep. Cory Williams disagrees, saying the committee was swayed by, you guessed it, oil lobbyists. “There were no less than 30 to 35 oil lobbyists in that room. Our job is to represent the people who aren’t paid to be there and that’s our constituents.”
You would imagine that Oklahoma, which has suffered from a sudden spike in earthquakes that studies show is due to fracking, would see the negative effects that their current drilling policies have created.
Williams says his constituents “should have the ability to limit the intrusion into their lives that oil and gas gets to make.”
The bill has already made it through committee and will be considered by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. If it passes, the Central Oklahoma Clean Water Coalition says they will fight it on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
Oklahoma has been making national headlines lately for its bizarre bills seeking to ban things that most sensible outsiders would see as totally random, including hoodies, gays, and AP U.S. History classes.
To be clear, as an Oklahoman myself, I know firsthand that there are intelligent, amazing people like Rep. Cory Williams who, like me, are sick of rolling their eyes at their embarrassing government.
Perhaps the only ban that Oklahoma needs is a ban that bans banning.

Editorial Cartoon


Connected Big Boys Access A Bottomless Pit Of Tax Credits

There’s a bill parked in the House Ways & Means Committee called the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Extension Act for 2015. Over at the Senate Chamber, a companion piece awaits introduction. The president likes NMTC; his budget and the legislation both call for NMTC to be made permanent. As is, it has been re-upped every two years since 2007.
NMTC, at its core, enriches rich folks. Even as the latest extension legislation snoozes in Ways and Means, connected opportunists are pursuing NMTC like lions stalk Springbok.
The program was called the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act when President Clinton signed it December 21, 2000. It was sort of a Clintonian Yellow Brick Road. Its purpose was to inject the spirit of economic development into communities that were statistically impoverished at the 25% level.
That’s supposedly still its purpose. A website called ‘Enterprise’ accurately defines NMTC’s logistics. NMTC is administered by the Treasury Department. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) awards allocation authority to Community Development Entities (CDEs). CDE’s, in turn, use the qualifying loan or equity investment in a project or business called a Qualified Active LOW-INCOME Community Business.
But the devil is in the details. As far as what you might have thought the bill stood for; fancy buildings and businesses with decent jobs in stressed neighborhoods, plus parks and recreation builds; well, there were just enough of those to claim a modest patina of legitimacy, but there were also projects that didn’t remotely qualify. The authors of the legislation were sneaky in their wording. Money was to go to COMMUNITIES that qualified under poverty guidelines, not necessarily into specific poor neighborhoods.
That was a welcome loophole enabling lenders to fiscally water projects that didn’t come close to meeting the intent of the bill. Fancy hotels, big Christian non-profits, questionable qualifiers that employed a single individual, but made money hand over fist, all won the day. And from 2003 to 2012, some 60 billion-loan dollars went to businesses, propped up by NMTC with half that total coming directly from NMTC-qualified money.
Now we get to the good part. The folks who actually made a killing in ancillary businesses and tax credits with what, on paper, was supposed to be a legit feel-good project. Of course, apologists and defenders of NMTC cite job numbers in the jillions with enormous growth everywhere. That’s interesting. In the nearest NMTC city in my home state of South Carolina, the average salary and poverty levels have barely budged since the decade of program involvement. Unemployment numbers fluctuate from time to time, but still exceed the national average.
Conversely, certain investors and banks have done fabulously well with investor tax credits of 39% over a 7-year period and great loan deals from banks that are gifted with a ridiculous 50% tax credit, the same reduction as some borrower’s costs. One bank in particular, headquartered in Canada, has captured most of South Carolina’s loan business.
New Market Tax Credit projects made up 42% of my nearby cities’ long-term debt according to their FY 2014 budget. NMTC transaction costs are roughly 15-20% of the Qualified Equity Investment (QEI). There are consulting firms (that have grown like kudzu on steroids since NMTC’s inception), the aforementioned CDE is either a domestic corporation or partnership with a 4% “allocation” fee (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). There are lawyers and consultants galore. The money has to flow from investors to the projects through CDE’s; then there’s something called a CDE AMF; another 5% skim.
The referenced Carolina city and its government feature a bunch of “Economic Development” groups; a city Economic Development Director, the Chamber, the Economic Futures Group, a community college, all with paid staff along with the City Attorney’s office. Can’t they do some of this stuff?
Let’s take an objective look at some of these projects for the “poor.” Wofford College is a good place to start. It’s a darn nice local center of higher education. The school population is around 1,600 students. A total of $15 million in loan tax credits was arranged. The loan funding (less the $15 mil for the feds) will build 20 dorm rooms, classrooms, a couple of places to eat and other stuff small colleges could use.
Wofford has an endowment approaching $200 million. Grants and gifts added another $67 million during a recent five-year period. And there’s always number one benefactor, former pro footballer and Hardees co-founder, Jerry Richardson. He owns the Carolina Panthers and brought their summer training camp facilities to his Alma Mater’s campus. Jerry’s worth about $1.1 billion and, I’m sure, would willingly part with a portion of that stash to fund anything the college really wants or needs. We hear there were 32 jobs created. That’s good. What were they? Short-term construction? Long-term, near-minimum wage dead-enders?
For our Baptist friends, there’s the $10 million in tax credits for investor/donors to the right-leaning Upward Star Center “Our Mission: Promote the Discovery of Jesus Through Sports”, AKA Upward Sports, AKA Upward Unlimited, the latter, the parent “non-profit.” A check of Upward Unlimited’s latest 2012 EO 990 numbers through Citizen Audit, shows the six top honchos making $134,682 – $271,700. From 2007-2011, this outfit has plumped up its bottom line to over $145 million. Nonetheless, Upward wants a 120,000 square foot sports complex/Sunday school and NMTC is going to make sure they get it.
Then there’s the work on a big, ‘ole fancy parking garage, including $15 million in three promissory notes with a ground lease of a buck a year for 22 years. The project is for the benefit of the USC Upstate Business School, an homage to a filthy rich local businessman whose name graces the facility. He could finance the garage out of pocket change. Then, of course, the state might want to kick in for a state institution. And like most NMTC projects, there’s a mind-boggling basket of hedging, swapping, exchanges, blended components, reserve accounts, pre-funding and an exorbitant $617,500 in “project management fees.”
Add some NMTC tax credit “investor” morsels for sprucing up a big ‘ole fancy hotel, plus a big ‘ole fancy building for a new school to train D.O.’s (Doctors of Osteopathy). Neither would appear to bring in a deluge or even a trickle of ongoing high-paying jobs.
And how about those project dollars flying over to the Airport Facilities Corporation? Now there’s a king-sized city payback that began in 2010 with interest only for 6 years, then principal and interest extending to February 16 of 2049. That’s only 39 years of local Hospitality tax money to repay whomever renovates and constructs a terminal and T-hangers, not to mention expanding office space, meeting rooms and the pilot’s lounge. And we all know how poor and needy pilots are. Permanent jobs? Not many!
The hospitality fee is an additional tax on local restaurant meals. The law states the proceeds can only go to projects that attract tourists. More dissembling of intent. No, for the most part, NMTC is a confusing numbers-spinning, big-boy game with little oversight or enforcement of the supporting legislation.
That’s my NMTC story, what’s yours?

Koch Brothers Needed a Scientist to Deny Climate Change — So They Bought One

There is zero doubt that climate change is real, and that increased carbon pollution is the cause. To say it’s the overwhelming scientific consensus is to understate reality.
But every now and then a respected scientist pops up with a different theory. A great example is Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, an aeronautical engineer who works for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He believes climate change is the result of variations in solar activity rather than humans pouring carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.
extreme climate
Soon’s theory has made him the darling of conservative media (which often misidentifies him as an astrophysicist) and conservative politicians like Sen. James Inhofe, current chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. They point to Soon as evidence that there is a real controversy over what’s causing climate change.
But it turns out Soon’s research has been bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry — including the Koch brothers.
The New York Times reports that not only have corporations like Exxon and Southern Company Services — which owns many coal plants — paid for Soon’s research, but so have organizations with deep ties to the petroleum industry, like the American Petroleum Institute, the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and Donors Trust, which funnels anonymous donors to conservative causes.
Corporate funding of scientific research isn’t unusual, but what’s different in this case is Soon’s direct acknowledgement that he would produce specific results for his funding. In his proposals for  funding, he referred to papers submitted to journals and testimony before Congress as “deliverables” — what his funders would get for their cash.
don't believe in climate change
Just as troublesome, Soon didn’t disclose his dependence on petrodollars to the journals where he published, a clear breach of the ethics governing scientific research. The journals are investigating, as are his employers at Harvard and the Smithsonian.
The media commonly cites the statistic that 97 percent of scientists agree that man-made climate change is a reality. Now we know where the the other 3 percent come from — the oil industry buys them off.

David Barton Lies That Lawsuit Which Did Not Take Place Proves He Doesn’t Lie

David Barton tried to refute his long history of lying by falsely claiming a lawsuit which never took place proves his innocence…
So pseudo-historian David Barton was accused of associating with white supremacists by a couple of Democratic opponents in Texas. He sued and won in December of last year. He says he didn’t know the groups he spoke to were white supremacist.
Fair enough. We have no choice but abide by the court’s ruling in that case.
But now Barton is falsely claiming in an email from his organization WallBuilders to his supporters, that his win somehow validates his dishonest portrayals of American history. The only thing is, his win wasn’t about history – it was about whether or not he was knowingly consorting with white supremacists.
Over the years, Barton has lied about any number of things. Just a few that We’ve covered here are his claim that the Due Process Clause comes from the bible. It does not. It’s origins are to be found in Medieval England. The Brits are wrong: Jesus is not an Englishman.
Due Process is that which comports with the deepest notions of what is fair and right and just.”1 The content of due process is “a historical product”2 that traces all the way back to chapter 39 of Magna Carta, in which King John promised that “[n]o free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”3 The phrase “due process of law” first appeared in a statutory rendition of this chapter in 1354. “No man of what state or condition he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor taken, nor disinherited, nor put to death, without he be brought to answer by due process of law.”4
Then there is his lie that the Founding Fathers settled the Evolution debate – before there was a debate. The Founding Fathers didn’t so much as talk about Evolution, let alone decide it, because Jean-Baptiste Lamarck didn’t introduce the idea of evolution to the world until 1800, thirteen years after the United States Constitution – Barton’s touchstone – and the term biology wasn’t even coined until 1802 – again my Lamarck. Charles Darwin, the great promoter of the Theory of Evolution, was born in 1809 and did not publish his controversial “On the Origin of Species,” until 1859.
So, yeah…you do the math. Then do what Barton hasn’t done out of that great store of original documents he brags about: provide proof.
He has actually invented reasons the Founding Fathers supposedly did not grant women the vote. The problem is for Barton that the Founding Fathers did NOT decide the issue of women voting: they left it up to the states. This is what we call a lie.
He has also lied about who was burning whom at the stake back in the day. In saying that Christians were being burned at the stake, he “forgot” to mention that while this is true, the people burning them were also Christians. We call that a lie of omission.
So back to that email about how Barton never lies. He tells supporters to spread the Bartonian gospel far and wide, that everything he says is true, even as he lies about having proof of this:
When you see attacks against WallBuilders and David on Facebook, Twitter, in articles, comments, and so forth, please take a few minutes to enter your own rebuttal comments, even linking to the national articles reporting that the critics’ claims are false (e.g., David Barton Wins Million-Dollar Defamation Suit).
He goes on to claim that,
But the second lawsuit we won addressed the false claims that David’s works are widely discredited, that he is an admitted liar, that he makes up his history, etc.
Here are the facts Barton won’t give you: This second lawsuit was against a blogger, W.S. Smith, who rightly called Barton a liar. He even provided examples. So Barton, who makes a living calling other people liars, sued for being called a liar, and now is lying about the results of that lawsuit – which, as it happens, he did not win.
As Warren Throckmorton reported yesterday at Patheos,
“In fact, Parker County, TX records show that the suit against Smith was dismissed by Barton on April 18, 2012.”
Barton has now claimed that he won a second case; WND said the same thing. Where is the case? Who was involved? The Parker County records don’t support the narrative in Barton’s email or the WND article.
Oh dear. Isn’t that interesting? No lawsuit. No win. No vindication for David Barton.
A couple of side-notes here:
Interestingly, the very visible and outspoken Barton critic, Chris Rodda, research director at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, was not sued, even though she actually invited Barton to sue her. It is worth noting here that Smith contacted Rodda, who published his response in an op-ed at The Huffington Post in 2011.
She is not alone among noted Barton opponents. Also not sued was Warren Throckmorton, co-author of a book refuting Barton’s book full of Jefferson lies. Nor was Rob Boston, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (au.org), who has called the lawsuit “the legal equivalent of a schoolyard bully’s shakedown.” Barton also did not sue Keith Olbermann, who interviewed Boston on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, back in 2010:
Boston, for the record, told Olbermann that “Barton is to history what the creationists are to science.”
All the respect in the world for Rob Boston, who has been writing about Barton since 1993, but that might be an understatement. David Barton has outdone himself here.
As Kyle Mantyla noted at Right Wing Watch, “But in typical Barton fashion, he was unable to even tell the truth about the results of his own defamation lawsuit.”
Finally, what follows in that email is, to me, the most critical. This is Barton’s “proof” of his own veracity:
(Makes up history? How ridiculous is this claim when WallBuilders owns one of America’s largest private collections of original Founding Era documents — more than 100,000 originals or copies of original documents from before 1812. In fact, we even footnote our historical email blasts!)
It is interesting, this theory that if you possess original documents, you cannot lie about them. You obviously can, since Barton penned an entire book of such lies, about Jefferson. Or that if you footnote your lies, your lies are suddenly not lies. But footnotes have no magical properties. They cannot transmute lies into fact.
The Blaze tells us that, “Barton said that he wanted supporters to know that his work is not comprised of ‘made-up stuff’ and that they have been able to rely on trustworthy history over the years.”
The problem is that his work is comprised of made-up stuff, and demonstrably so. And now, even his claims of proof that his stuff is not made up, are made up.
Let’s put this in simple terms:
David Barton lied that a lawsuit he himself dismissed, was ruled in his favor, and that as a result of this win which never actually took place, his lies are not really lies, but truths. Even though he is lying about the win he never had to prove he isn’t lying.
The verdict of history, if not the courts, is in: David Barton is a liar.