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Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today is - Pig Day
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Welcome to our first 'official' day of postings. 
You will find what those who seek to control you wish to remain hidden exposed to the bright light of knowledge here.
It is highly appropriate that today is 'Pig' Day because we will make those who are trying to hide what they are and what they are doing squeal in terror as the Torch of Truth shines its light on them.

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Shameful: American Democracy Ranks 45th In The World In Electoral Integrity

Now, it appears there may be a good reason for yet another voting rights amendment according to a new report placing America's electoral integrity" on par with Colombia 
 statue-of-libertyIf a person possesses the quality of being honest with strong moral principles or “moral uprightness” they are regarded as having integrity.  In American politics, particularly Republican politics, integrity is not only in short supply, it is by all estimations non-existent. Between the preponderance of outright lies and deliberate deception, the hallmark of Republican politics, it is little wonder America’s electoral process lacks integrity; particularly in states controlled by Republicans. In fact, despite being a so-called free democratic society with specific constitutional amendments guaranteeing all citizens the right to vote, Democrats have officially endorsed yet another constitutional amendment establishing the right to vote.
Now, it appears there may be a good reason for yet another voting rights amendment according to a new report placing America’s “electoral integrity” on par with Colombia and Bulgaria at 45th among the world’s democracies. Those nations are arguably not shining examples of democratic Utopias, so America’s being in their company is not a very encouraging statistic to anyone except Koch-Republicans. It is reasonable that their goal has been eliminating anything resembling “electoral integrity” for over a decade and doubtless they celebrated America’s pathetic ranking.
According to a report last year from the BradBlog, researchers at Harvard and the University of Sydney reported that after assessing the 2012 General Election, America ranked number 26; one step higher than Mexico and one below Micronesia. So in the course of one election America’s electoral integrity declined and should surprise very few Americans. It is another world ranking embarrassment for the nation that conservatives claim is exceptional, and a telling narrative about the pathetic state of this once storied example of democracy compared to the rest of the world. It is likely that there are not many Americans who would even use the term “electoral integrity” in the same sentence with American democracy.
The new report is from the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) that assessed the latest midterm elections with “additional countries” that were not included in the previous report. The report was best summarized by the statement: “Contests in the United States scored the worst performance among any long-established democracy. (bold original) Hence the 2012 Presidential election was ranked 42nd worldwide with additional countries’ statistics, while the 2014 mid-term Congressional races was ranked 45th. One reason America ranks so low according to experts who expressed their growing concern over US electoral laws and processes of voter registration, both areas of heated partisan debates.” It is true there are partisan debates due to Republicans actively disenfranchising and obstructing the voting rights of students, the poor, and people of color in the former Confederacy, but the trend is also growing in other GOP-controlled states. The apparent goal is to “bestow the privilege of voting solely on white Republican voters,” and restricting ballot box access to Democratic voters as stated by several Confederate-state Republicans.
Since the idea of electoral integrity is nearly non-existent in Americans’ consciousness, the project defined it as “meeting international standards and global norms governing the ‘appropriate’ conduct of elections.” There were about 1,500 domestic and international election experts’ involved in the study whose views were represented by forty consultants who concluded that “Elections in United States stand out as relatively poorly compared with other established democracies, and are deserving further scrutiny.” The latest report echoed the same problems from last year’s study that rated the 2012 Presidential election poorly reiterating that “The November 2014 Congressional elections got poor grades because experts were concerned about the electoral laws, voter registration, the process of drawing district boundaries, as well as regulation of campaign finance.” What they likely meant was the glaring lack of regulation of campaign finance.
The EIP particularly noted major concerns Democrats have cited such as laws restricting voter registration efforts in Southern states and new laws denying access to the polls that the study found were “increasingly polarized and litigious ever since the 2000 ‘Florida’ debacle generating growing controversy in state-houses and the courts.” Apparently the report is referring to the Koch-Court striking down the Voting Rights Act that opened the floodgates for Confederate states’ to devise and impose new Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise the poor and people of color. In fact the study did note that “America also suffers from exceptionally partisan and decentralized arrangements for electoral administration and suggested the role of money in American politics deserves more detailed scrutiny.”
The one area the study could not assess for integrity is the “computerized voting systems,” or touch-screen voting machines, that are “100% impossible to verify for accuracy after polls have closed.” Hand marked paper ballots can be checked for veracity after the fact, but they are either counted by optical scans and are only used in about 60% of the nation. The study did give a cursory look at things such as ballot box security, results announced ‘without delay, if counts are conducted fairly, or if election monitors are restricted from having polling place access Otherwise, it was nearly impossible to accurately rank how fair the ballot counting process really is, and how close to the bottom American elections really are.
The truly sad commentary about this latest American humiliation is that it is certain to get worse, and with the Koch brothers pledging nearly a billion dollars to buy the government in 2016, it will get much, much worse. Part and parcel of the Koch’s influence is from their heavily-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity influence on Republican states’ legislation to restrict voting rights in and outside the former Confederacy. Republicans and ALEC claim the need for restricting voter access is an overwhelming problem of rampant voter fraud. However, It is worth reiterating that according to a comprehensive study, the actual number of voter fraud incidents between 2000 and 2014 was 31 out of more than 1 billion votes cast in every general, primary, special, and municipal election in the United States during that 14 year period according to the Federal Election Commission.
Many Americans are well-aware that this country’s so-called representative democracy is a joke, and it is obvious that the low voter turnout is in part due to the increasing obstruction plaguing many prospective voters. America was purported, at one time, to be the world’s shining example of how democracy is supposed to work, but between the Koch Supreme Court giving their blessing to unlimited campaign financing and giving former Confederate states free rein to impose harsh voter restriction laws, it is no wonder America is ranked 45th in electoral integrity among the world’s democracies and frankly, it is amazing that it is not ranked at the bottom of the list; something the Koch Republicans will certainly rectify by the next election.

The Republican Who Sacrificed Over 22,000 American Lives To Steal An Election

by Samuel Warde

Military-Caskets Richard Nixon may be best known for the Watergate scandal and the consequences his administration suffered due to his recording of White House conversations. However, Nixon wasn’t the first president to record conversations.
As BBC reports, Nixon got the idea from Lyndon Johnson, his predecessor, who believed he had an obligation to allow historians to be able to eavesdrop on his presidency.
“They will provide history with the bark off,” Johnson told his wife, Lady Bird.
The final batch of Johnson tapes released by the Johnson Library in 2013 cover 1968 and detail Richard Nixon’s greatest act of treason – he knowingly sacrificed the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers to win an election.
The Smithsonian reports:
In 1968, the Paris Peace talks, intended to put an end to the 13-year-long Vietnam War, failed because an aide working for then-Presidential candidate Richard Nixon convinced the South Vietnamese to walk away from the dealings, says a new report by the BBC’s David Taylor. By the late 1960s Americans had been involved in the Vietnam War for nearly a decade, and the ongoing conflict was an incredibly contentious issue, says PBS.
Nixon was campaigning for president in ’68 on a platform that opposed the war and needed the war to continue. As BBC reports,
Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign. […] In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris – concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared.
As the History News Network reports (HNN)
Throughout the 1968 campaign, the Republican nominee promised not to interfere with the Paris talks. “We all hope in this room that there’s a chance that current negotiations may bring an honorable end to that war,” he told the Republican convention in Miami, “and we will say nothing during this campaign that might destroy that chance.” Publicly, Nixon claimed to put the quest for peace above his own quest for votes, although it was clear that any negotiating breakthrough by Johnson before Election Day would help Vice President Humphrey’s campaign.
However, a week before the election Johnson got a tip from Alexander Sachs that Nixon was trying to sabotage the negotiations. Johnson considered Sachs a credible source as he had earlier predicted the Great Depression, Hitler’s rise to power, and the imminent threat of Nazi Germany building a nuclear bomb – a revelation to the President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939, which led to the Manhattan project.
HNN reports,
Once LBJ received the warning from Sachs, he took a closer look at diplomatic intelligence collected by the National Security Agency (which intercepted cables from the South Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Diem in Washington, DC, to his home government in Saigon) and Central Intelligence Agency (which bugged South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu’s office). “[I am] still in contact with the Nixon entourage, which continues to be the favorite despite the uncertainty provoked by the news of an imminent bombing halt,” Ambassador Diem cabled President Thieu on Oct. 28, 1968. “I [explained discreetly to our partisan friends our] firm attitude.” The president ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to put a wiretap on the embassy’s phone and tail one of “our partisan friends,” Anna Chennault, the Republican Party’s top female fundraiser.
The Smithsonian confirmed those newly released Johnson tapes from 1968 “detailed that the FBI had indeed ‘bugged’ the telephones of the South Vietnamese ambassador and Chennault. Based on the tapes, says Taylor for the BBC, we learn that in the time leading up to the Paris Peace talks, ‘Chennault was despatched to the South Vietnamese embassy with a clear message: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal.’”
HNN then reports that
Three days before the election, the bureau sent the White House this wiretap report: “Mrs. Anna Chennault contacted Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Diem and advised him that she had received a message from her boss (not further identified) which her boss wanted her to give personally to the ambassador. She said the message was that the ambassador is to ‘hold on, we are gonna win’ and that her boss also said, ‘Hold on, he understands all of it.’” That day, President Thieu had announced that the South would not send a delegation to Paris, rendering any settlement of the war impossible for the time being and stalling Humphrey’s surge in the polls.
The Atlantic Wire, reports of the tapes:
In the recently released tapes, we can hear Johnson being told about Nixon’s interference by Defense Secretary Clark Clifford. The FBI had bugged the South Vietnamese ambassadors phone. They had Chennault lobbying the ambassador on tape. Johnson was justifiably furious — he ordered Nixon’s campaign be placed under FBI surveillance.
The Atlantic Wire goes on to report that Johnson passed along a note to Nixon advising him he knew about his treason and advised Nixon’s opponent, Democrat Hubert Humphrey as well.
The Democratic campaign decided they were close enough in the polls to not release the information. A treason accusation could potentially damage the country’s security, they thought, before Humphrey lost a narrow election.
Johnson had concerns about keeping the information secret, but like Humphrey and the Democrats, he had greater concerns regarding security:
Johnson felt it was the ultimate expression of political hypocrisy but in calls recorded with Clifford they express the fear that going public would require revealing the FBI were bugging the ambassador’s phone and the National Security Agency (NSA) was intercepting his communications with Saigon.
So they decided to say nothing.
Nixon went on to win the election by a narrow margin, and as BBC reports:
Once in office he escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia, with the loss of an additional 22,000 American lives – quite apart from the lives of the Laotians, Cambodians and Vietnamese caught up in the new offensives – before finally settling for a peace agreement in 1973 that was within grasp in 1968.

The Greatest Threats To America

All republicans and their ilk or as they are commonly referred to - wingnuts and the lunatic fringe

Al Franken And Bernie Sanders Praise Net Neutrality As An Enormous Victory Over Corporations

In two separate statements, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) praised the passage of the FCC’s new net neutrality rules. Franken called the rules an enormous victory for the American people, while Sanders said that the success of net neutrality shows that ordinary Americans can win when they stand up to corporations.
In a statement, Sen. Franken said:
This is a an enormous victory. This is the culmination of years of hard work by countless Americans who believe—just as I do—that the Internet should remain the free and open platform that it’s always been. Net neutrality is important for consumers, for small businesses and startups trying to compete with the big guys, and ultimately, for the innovation that has helped drive our economy for the past several decades.

The bottom line is this: the Internet is a vital part of our daily lives, and net neutrality is at the core of how the Internet operates. It is critical to our democracy and our economy that it continue to operate this way.

I’m thrilled that the FCC has taken this crucial step. But the fight isn’t over as some Republicans are already working on legislation to undo all of this. So in the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to make sure everyone understands what’s at stake, and why we need to stand by the strong rules adopted by the FCC.

But in the meantime, let’s celebrate.
Sen. Sanders said, “The FCC has ensured that the Internet remains a place for the open exchange of ideas and information free of discrimination and corporate control. This is a victory for consumers and entrepreneurs. Millions of Americans, including tens of thousands through my website, told the FCC loudly and clearly that Internet service providers should be a neutral gateway to everything on the Internet. Today’s vote shows that ordinary Americans can make a difference when they stand up to powerful corporate interests and Washington lobbyists.”
This is a huge victory for millions of Americans who have fought for years to keep the Internet open and neutral. If the FCC rules stand up to the inevitable legal challenge by the ISP’s, there will be no Internet fast lane for those who can afford to pay.
The internet will remain the one area of our society that is the most purely democratic and not under the thumb of corporate control. People can beat corporations, and as Sen. Franken said today is a day of celebration.

House Republicans Are Already Trying To Block The New Net Neutrality Rules

House Republicans are trying to block the new net neutrality rules passed by the FCC, and are turning a victory for the open internet into an Obama conspiracy theory.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the Republicans threatened to block the new net neutrality rules:
Boehner-DCHealthExchange-v2We are also troubled by the manner in which the ‘Open Internet’ rules were formulated. On November 10, 2014, President Obama urged the FCC to impose Title II regulations on the Internet. Shortly thereafter, you began making statements in support of a Title II approach. Certainly, the timing of your support for Title II following the President’s recommendation calls into question the degree, if not the existence, of the FCC’s independence from the White House.
We will not stand by idly as the White House, using the FCC, attempts to advance rules that imperil the future of the Internet. We plan to support and urge our colleagues to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution disapproving the “Open Internet” rules. Not only will such a resolution nullify the ‘Open Internet’ rules, the resolution will prevent the FCC from relying on Title II for any future net neutrality rules unless Congress explicitly instructs the FCC to take such action.
The practical problem is that any resolution that the House passes will have to clear the Senate, and would be vetoed by President Obama. House Republicans are on a quite a destructive roll. They are in the process of shutting down Homeland Security unless John Boehner decides to cave and pass a clean funding bill. The House has no chance of overturning President Obama’s immigration executive orders, and they face roughly the same odds on blocking the FCC’s new net neutrality rules.
The House majority has become a pit of anti-Obama conspiracy theories, and the Republicans from the House Judiciary Committee are already hard at work trying to turn the FCC’s action into an Obama takeover of the internet. The fact that Republicans are advocating the exact opposite of an open internet should not be lost on anyone. The attempt to convert net neutrality into “Obamanet” is straight out the same playbook that labeled the Affordable Care Act an Obama takeover of healthcare, and the auto bailout as “Obama Motors.”
Republicans are doing what they do best. They are trying to take the democracy out of the internet and sell it to corporations. The internet is a relatively pure form of free market principles. Their effort to block net neutrality demonstrates that instead of liberty House Republicans are most interested in selling freedom to corporate oligarchs.

Democrats Blast Scott Walker For Comparing Labor Unions To ISIL

Gov. Scott Walker insulted millions of Democrats and Republicans who belong to unions today by comparing unions to ISIS during his CPAC speech. Democrats are responding by blasting Walker.
Video of Walker comparing unions and peaceful protesters to ISIS:
Walker told the CPAC audience, “We need have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message that not only will we protect American soil, but…freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world. We need that confidence. If I can take on a hundred thousand protesters, I can do the same across the world.”
DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee responded, “If Scott Walker thinks that it’s appropriate to compare working people speaking up for their rights to brutal terrorists, then he is even less qualified to be president than I thought. Maybe he should go back to punting.”
scott walker compares unions to ISIS CPACScott Walker’s statement was a direct insult to millions of working Americans, but it is proof that Walker is going to try to ride his union-busting the whole way to the White House. The fact that Walker considers peaceful protesters to be on par with terrorists demonstrates that he is not qualified for office.
Gov. Walker has abused his power and illegally arrested protesters for years. As governor, Walker has specialized in arresting grandmothers and children for singing. Scott Walker was forced to back down from a plan to arrest people for watching a protest.
Scott Walker has been fumbling foreign policy questions left and right, but his biggest mistake yet may be absurdly trying to inflate his resume by comparing peaceful protesters and union members to terrorists. Comparing citizens of his home state to terrorists is the kind of red meat that the CPAC crowd eats up, but to the rest of the country, Scott Walker is proving that he isn’t fit to be president.

Obamacare Is Not Some Left-Wing, Socialist Plot; It Is a Republican Plot

Most of the tenets of Obamacare were introduced way back in 1971 by Richard Nixon
Most of the tenets of Obamacare were introduced way back in 1971 by Richard Nixon, a Republican president. (Photo: Tim Pierce)Obamacare is not some communist, left-wing, socialist plot.
It's a Republican plot.
Back in 1971, then President Richard Nixon was extremely concerned that he would have to face then Sen. Ted Kennedy in the 1972 presidential election.
At that time, Senator Kennedy was pushing a proposal for a national single-payer health care plan that would extend coverage to all Americans.
Nixon knew that Kennedy's proposal would be popular with the American people, and could threaten his re-election chances, so he came up with a health care proposal of his own.
Nixon's proposal for health care in the US included different plans for four categories of Americans.
Under Nixon's plan, employers would have been required to buy health insurance providing a basic package of benefits for 150 million working US residents and their families.
For 20 million people who were considered the working poor at the time and their families, Nixon's plan would have replaced Medicaid services with private health insurance plans fully paid for by the government for the poorest, with a sliding scale of contributions for families earning over $3,000 (roughly $17,300 in today's dollars).
Nixon's plan also dropped Medicare premiums for 21 million "aging" Americans, and instead adjusted Social Security taxes to make up for the costs.
Finally, Nixon's plan lowered health care costs for 30 million self-employed Americans by allowing them to buy health care policies at lower group rates through insurance pools.
Now, what does all of that sound like to you? It sounds an awful lot like Obamacare, right?
That's because most of the tenets of Obamacare were introduced way back in 1971 by Richard Nixon, a Republican president.
But Nixon wasn't the only Republican to get behind a health care plan that sounds a lot like Obamacare.
Back in 1993, then-President Bill Clinton tried desperately to reform healthcare in the US. He created a special health care task force that was charged with finding solutions to rising healthcare costs and an increasing number of uninsured Americans.
While that task force was trying to find solutions, Republicans in Congress were trying to create a health care reform alternative of their own.
They came up with the Health Equity and Access Reform Today bill, or HEART.
That bill was spearheaded by then Republican Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island, and co-sponsored by 18 other Republican senators, including current Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, both of whom are now opposed to Obamacare.
It was also supported by the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, which at the time was pushing particularly heavily for an individual mandate.
Among other things, the HEART bill proposed by Republican senators included an individual mandate (to appease the folks over at the Heritage Foundation), the creation of insurance purchasing pools, standardized benefits, vouchers for poor Americans to buy insurance and a ban on insurance companies denying coverage based on preexisting conditions.
Again, what does that sound like?
Speaking about the HEART bill, Sheila Burke, former chief of staff for former Sen. Bob Dole told PolitiFact's PunditFact that,
"You would find a great deal of similarity to provisions in the Affordable Care Act. The guys were way ahead of the times! Different crowd, different time, suffice it to say."
So, yet again, you have Republicans introducing a national health care reform plan that contained a lot of the key tenets of today's Obamacare.
The facts speak for themselves. Republicans have been pushing Obamacare-like health-care principles for more than 40 years!
So, why in 2015, are Republicans suddenly so opposed to policies they have crafted and supported in years past?
Because today, Republicans aren't operating on principle, they're operating on politics.
They're doing everything in their power to sabotage President Obama's presidency and tarnish his legacy.
They're fulfilling the plans of a group of powerful Republican lawmakers and strategists who sat down to a private dinner at the Caucus Room restaurant here in Washington on the night of January 20, 2009, and vowed to filibuster and obstruct any and all legislation supported by President Obama.
Republicans aren't morally opposed to Obamacare; after all, it's helped millions of people, and it's making the insurance industry even richer.
Republican opposition to Obamacare is entirely about politics, and that's no way to run a country.
If you're going to run a country, which Republicans basically are by being in control of Congress, you should be operating on principle and on legitimate policy disagreements.
It's time for Republicans to stop playing politics, and start doing what's right for the people of the United States.

Two Years After SCOTUS Gutting, GOP Rep Insists Congress Is Ready To Amend Voting Rights Act

It should be no surprise by this time, but whenever present-day Republicans point a finger and cry "foul," you can be reasonably sure the crime is an inside job…
Charlie Dent
In June of 2013, the United States Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a contentious 5-4 ballot divided along ideological lines. From his naive and privileged white male perch, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority, “Our country has changed…While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
Two months later writer Ari Berman of The Nation, apparently a little wider-eyed than the conservative SCOTUS wing, wrote a piece entitled The Voting Rights Act Is in Peril on Its Forty-Eighth Anniversary. In it, he observed:
“The Supreme Court’s decision in late June invalidating Section 4 of the VRA threatens to roll back much of the progress made over the past 48 years. Since the ruling, six Southern states previously covered under Section 4 have passed or implemented new voting restrictions, with North Carolina recently passing the country’s worst voter suppression law. The latest assault on the franchise comes on the heels of a presidential election in which voter suppression attempts played a starring role.”
But that’s why Roberts and his cohorts threw the ball back at Congress, right? Surely our elected officials wouldn’t stand for rampant modern disenfranchisement efforts after so many fought and died for truly universal suffrage.
I guess the court’s right wing is so deeply committed to the study of law, they haven’t paid much attention to the news since Obama took the oath of office in January 2009. The most recently adjourned 113th Congress produced just 22 percent of it’s “Do-Nothing,” 1947-1948 counterpart. Suffice it to say the Voting Rights Act is every bit as imperiled on its 50th anniversary this year, as it was on its 48th.
Maybe it’s because I just stepped out of the ballot box this week, casting my vote in an effort to unseat Chicago’s machiniest (yes, I just invented a word) Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Maybe it’s because most of the volunteer faces I saw at my local polling place making the magic happen were African-American ones, but I’m more irked than usual by Capitol Hill’s failure to act.
On last Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, Republican House Member Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania spoke with Chuck Todd about the fate of the VRA. Despite actually supporting a Congressional rewrite of the law, Dent provided the usual rhetorical cover for his less noble party mates on the subject of voter ID restrictions (the ones that in many states allow for concealed weapons permits to be presented, but not student identification):
“Well, I do support voter ID. I think Republicans will insist on voter ID being protected. I’m from Pennsylvania. I have witnessed voter fraud. We had a state senator thrown out because of absentee ballot fraud in the 1990s. I lived through that.
It was awful. It was a stolen election. And we’ve seen it. We had a candidate for Congress in Maryland not so long ago in 2012 who voted in both 2006 and 2008 in Florida and Maryland. She had to drop out. So, there is real fraud out there. And I think you can be against discrimination and against fraud. Those two ideas are compatible.”
After hearing Dent’s comments, a rather simple observation occurred to me. What is the common denominator in the Representative’s two fraud examples? Both were perpetrated by politicians rather than private citizens. I think most of us are still waiting for the “awful” tales of our next door neighbor running to the ballot box multiple times just for kicks. In the fraudulent absentee ballot scenario, is there any doubt it was a conspiracy cooked up by the state senate candidate and his or her staff?
It should be no surprise by this time, but whenever present-day Republicans point a finger and cry “foul,” you can be reasonably sure the crime is an inside job. But when justice, common sense and decency fail to get them to move, sometimes a little shame is the most effective weapon. If Dent hopes to be taken at all seriously after his television appearance last Sunday, may he repeat his words early and often to his GOP colleagues:
“I think many Republicans recognize that the Voting Rights Act is the single most important civil rights legislation ever passed in American history. And we also take seriously the fact that we do need to amend the Voting Rights Act, given the court’s rulings.”

Ted Cruz Vows to Block Confirmation of AG Nominee Lynch

by Goldie Taylor 
Loretta_Lynch_US_AttorneyHeralded as “supremely qualified” by some and a “radical” whose “views undermine the rule of law” by others, U.S. District Attorney Loretta Lynch cleared another hurdle on her way to becoming the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
It has been no easy road. The nomination has been pending for 110 days, leaving many Democrats on Capitol Hill frustrated.
It could have been avoided.
Skipping the chance to vet and confirm Lynch after the midterm elections and before the new Republican Senate majority was sworn in proved to be a miscalculation by Sen. Harry Reid (NV-D). The now-Minority Leader delayed hearings as an olive branch to new Senate leaders, in hopes that decorum would return and it would create a more bi-partisan legislative environment. Instead, Republicans took hold of that olive branch and promptly beat Democrats over the head with it.
For their part, GOP senators who take issue with President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigrations, which Republicans say are unconstitutional, found no solace in Lynch.
“Ms. Lynch pledged to support executive amnesty…but it just doesn’t stop at that,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Politico. He ticked off several issues, including drone strikes and the Internal Revenue Service to buffet his point. “She has told us her views. Those views are radical. Those views undermine the rule of law.”
LorettaLynch cleared the Senate Judiciary today, picking up support from three Republicans on the panel–Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Jeff Flake (R-Arizona). The final vote was 12-8.
But, if Cruz has anything to say about it, the fight is not over.
“Personally, I wanted to support Ms. Lynch’s nomination,” Sen. Ted Cruz told Politico. “Six years of Eric Holder has done enormous damage, and Ms. Lynch’s service as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York has earned her a reputation as a relatively no-nonsense prosecutor. However, the answers she gave at her confirmation hearing are, in my view, disqualifying for serving as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer.”
Despite the brewing fight, confirmation is expected.
“Loretta Lynch, a supremely qualified nominee for a vital national security and law enforcement post, should never have been pulled into the fray” over immigration, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

Obama: ‘No, Both Sides Aren’t to Blame for Broken Immigration System’

by John Paul Brammer
Obama’s town hall meeting with Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart saw the president the way we like him best: confident and in control.
The best example of this would be when Obama shut down the “both Democrats and Republicans are at fault” rhetoric when it comes to our broken immigration system.
Answering a question from Díaz-Balart on both parties’ roles on the failure to pass an immigration bill through Congress, Obama reminded him and the audience which party has been holding up the process, saying, “The blockage has been very specific on one side:

The Democratic Party has been consistent. A few Republicans have supported it, but let’s be clear, the reason why we don’t have a bill is because [House Speaker] John Boehner wouldn’t call a vote.”
Much of Obama’s town hall was dedicated to defending the legality of his executive order last November that temporarily provided relief to thousands of families living in the United States.
But Obama also reminded the audience that unless a bill gets passed, the fix is indeed temporary:
“In order for us to get absolute certainty that it’s gonna be permanent and not just temporary, that it doesn’t just last during my administration and then get reversed by the next president, we’ve gotta pass a bill.”
In that sense, the town hall meeting served its purpose. The pressure is on for Republicans to step up and put a bill in front of Obama. Until then, the president says he is doing what he can to help as many as he can.

Democrats Aren’t Letting Boehner Weasel Out Of The Homeland Security Crisis He Caused

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) bill to fund Homeland Security for three weeks in a shameless attempt to buy time to try to get out of the crisis that Republicans caused, and Democrats aren’t buying it.
boehner-face-485-wideThe Hill has the details of the Republican plan:
The House will vote Friday on a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security for three weeks in an attempt to avert a shutdown slated for Saturday at the massive agency.
If the bill is approved by the House, the Senate is expected to quickly follow suit — though the upper chamber also plans to move forward with a bill funding Homeland Security through the end of the fiscal year.
GOP lawmakers said a three-week measure buys more time for the federal courts to consider a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obama’s policies, which would shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. It also gives Republicans a little more time to pursue a longer-term solution on both Homeland Security funding and halting Obama’s immigration actions.
Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are opposing the bill. Pelosi is actively whipping up opposition to the bill. With House Republicans deeply divided on any clean funding of Homeland Security, it is possible that conservatives join with Democrats to kill Boehner’s bill. If Boehner’s bill dies, and knowing the Speaker’s history of having to pull his own bills it is possible that it will, House Republicans don’t have another plan. In fact, Boehner is planning on allowing the House to leave town for the weekend.
Boehner’s plan to extend funding for three weeks in the hope that a court will block President Obama’s immigration executive actions reeks of desperation. While the nation watches House Republicans put on a clinic on how not to govern, it is important to remember that the crisis over Homeland Security funding was completely avoidable.
Speaker Boehner manufactured the crisis, and Democrats aren’t about to help him get out of the mess that he caused. The odds are that in the three weeks Congress will be right back where it started, and, if they don’t already, the American people should regret handing control of the legislative branch of their government to the Republican Party.

GOP Tries to Defund Department of Homeland Security to Get Back at Obama

by John Paul Brammer
Republicans have done some confusing things in the past, things that have left us collectively scratching our heads and wondering, “Why?”
This is one of those times, but it might be one of their craziest moves yet.
The GOP is trying to defund the Department of Homeland Security, the government entity in charge of protecting the border, to get back at President Obama for his executive order on immigration.
And now DHS is on the verge of a partial shutdown.
Remember when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there would be no shutdowns on his watch? Here’s hoping he remembers too.
Democratic Senator Ed Markey from Massachusetts made a solemn plea for logic and reason, saying he would tell Republican leaders to:
BorderPatrol“…Tell their most radical members that the DHS must be funded, and must be funded this week.”
But the GOP has already become death, destroyer of worlds, and is beyond the feeble powers of logic and reason. Rep. Matt Salmon from Arizona said:
“America needs leadership to confront an out-of-control executive, and a Congress willing to defend the separation of powers. We must either be that Congress or acquiesce to the demands of a president intent on assuming the powers of a king.”
If Congress cannot come to an agreement by Friday at midnight, DHS will partially shut down. Which is extra terrible considering most DHS employees are considered “essential” and must report to work anyway.
They just won’t get paid.
Editor's Note: The republican house still in denial refused to pass a bill funding Homeland but did pass a lame bill funding the department for one week longer so they could still try and weasel out of their responsibility and the blame for their failure to do their job in the eleventh hour Friday evening. So the farce will continue for another week as the republicans as usual lurch from self-made 'crisis' to self-made 'crisis' and the rest of us get more disgusted with them daily.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Talk About Lady Parts … Akin is Back!

by Shawn Drury
Disgusted by Ted Cruz? Offended by Jim Inhofe? Repulsed by Thom Tillis? Well, that threesome could be adding a fourth to their esteemed ranks.
Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin is reportedly looking to take another crack at entering the world’s most deliberative body.
According to The Hill, Mr. Shut That Whole Thing Down is weighing a primary run against fellow Republican Roy Blunt in 2016, which would make for a spirited primary, to say the least.
The Hill quoted Akin as saying “there is a high level of dissatisfaction among conservatives, that they have to some degree been pushed out of the Republican Party… the sentiment is there. The Tea Party is skeptical and wants some fresh blood, not just the same establishment guys.”
So Akin thinks the GOP isn’t conservative enough? I guess that’s one way of looking at État des affaires.
If that’s not rich enough for you, Akin also thinks he fits the “fresh blood” requirement. Mmmk. Akin was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1989. He stayed there for 12 years. After which he went into the private… hold on, cancel that. After leaving the Missouri House, Akin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Where he stayed for another 12 years before he ran for the Senate and, you know the rest…
So Todd Akin served in elected office for 24 years, but is not one of “the same establishment guys.”
We have a winner of today’s Lack of Self-Awareness Award. And he didn’t even have to speak at CPAC to do it.

Liberals Hijack #CPACQ, Conservatives Have Public “I’m Melting!” Moment

by Jimmy Williams
Sheer genius reared its beautiful head today when the organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) got their fave Twitter hashtag hijacked by a bunch of lefties. Here are a few that we here at lefty BNR thought you might enjoy:
kriskey @apocalypsemeeow
Why don't poor people understand they just need to get more money?

bsalert @bsalert
If I am in Texas or Florida and feel threatened by a fetus, can I legally shoot it?

Robin Eublind @iamrobineublind
"@RepublicanSwine: If your ideas are so successful, why are most @GOP controlled states leading in most every category of Despair?"

Robin Eublind @iamrobineublind
"@RepublicanSwine: If your ideas are so successful, why are most @GOP controlled states leading in most every category of Despair?"

Why is Obama a failure for cutting the deficit by 60%, dropping the unemployment by 40%, and dropping the uninsured rate by 28%?

So if you’re bored at work or just need to vent at a bunch of right wing haters, go on over to twitter.com and type in #cpacq and show ‘em how we do it on the progressive left.

CPAC: Icky Brown People Are Destroying our Country

Republicans have sold their souls, assuming they have any, to white nationalists who believe mixing races is rebellion against dog…
Ann Coulter told her readers at World Net Daily the other day that Americans should be more afraid of immigrants than of the Islamic State:
“ISIS is not at our doorstep. Illegal immigrants are not only at our doorstep, but millions of them are already through the door, murdering far more Americans than ISIS ever will.”
The rhetoric from this year’s CPAC seems to be in agreement with this frenzied analysis.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), like the State of Iowa, always brings out the worst in Republicans, and never more so where the forces of ethnic nationalism are concerned. The Republican Party seems particularly prone to falling into line with white nationalist rhetoric that has been especially noticeable at the Tea Party level.
As Right Wing Watch reports, CPAC is in part sponsored by a White Nationalist organization, ProEnglish, “led by Bob Vandervoort, an activist with a history as a white nationalist organizer. This year, CPAC once again allowed ProEnglish to host a booth in the event’s exhibit hall, which entails a $4,000 sponsorship.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) tells us that,
ProEnglish is the creation of John Tanton, the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement. Tanton has made his white nationalist views clear, writing that he believes that “for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” In a memo Tanton prepared for the leadership of the Washington anti-immigrant lobbying group Federation for American Immigration Reform, Tanton questioned the “educability” of Latinos and warned of a coming “Latin onslaught.” Tanton serves on ProEnglish’s board with Kent, and Tanton’s foundation, U.S. Inc., funds the organization.
According to ProEnglish, their mission is,
ProEnglish is the nation’s leading advocate of official English. We work through the courts and in the court of public opinion to defend English’s historic role as America’s common, unifying language, and to persuade lawmakers to adopt English as the official language at all levels of government.
But they are up to a bit more than just making English our official language. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) refers to them as an “anti-immigrant group,” and during 2012’s CPAC reported that Peter Brimelow, who runs the racist Web site VDARE,
[A]lleged that kids cannot get a job at MacDonald’s because they can’t speak Spanish – a trend he described as a “ferocious attack on living standards of the American working class…just as immigration policy in general is.”
The ADL’s profile of board member Phil Kent, whom, as the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in 2011, was appointed by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal “to serve on a new state panel charged with enforcing the state’s harsh new immigration law,” is revealing in this regard:
Phil Kent is a longtime anti-immigrant activist based in Georgia who once suggested that citzens should be wary of multiculturalism, stating, “What will be the values and ideas of a multicultural America? What will it mean to be white after ‘whiteness’ no longer defines the cultural main-stream?” Kent also spoke at the 2009 Social Contract Press Writers Workshop, a group founded by Tan-ton. The workshop is held annually and often features racist speakers, including Peter Brimelow, the founder of the anti-immigrant website VDARE.
No, these are not nice people, despite Kent’s objection that one of the groups he is affiliated with, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) has been “targeted for demonization by the political leadership of the Left and its media allies.”
Because nothing says wholesome like the idea that only white people are…well, people.
The idea that multiculturalism is destroying the country is an interesting one, if only because multiculturalism has been an essential part of the rich tapestry that is American society from its very earliest colonial days.
From the very beginning, people from different nations came to America to start new lives. Even if in the beginning the majority of European immigrants were English, there were also many Scots and Irish, as well as Dutch, Germans, and others. Not to mention many African Americans, brought here as slaves, and, of course, an equally diverse collection of Native American cultures.
After the American Revolution, the pace of immigration picked up, and U.S. Census figures tell the tale: The first U.S. Census was taken in 1790, three years after the drafting of the United States Constitution, and revealed that fully one-fifth of the 3.9 million-strong population was African American, even though each African American was only 3/5 of a human being according to that Constitution (this first census did not include Native Americans).
If you look at specific Mid-Atlantic and Southern states, you see that a high percentage of the population of each was actually enslaved:
South Carolina – 42 percent
Virginia – 39 percent
Georgia – 35 percent
Maryland – 32 percent
North Carolina – 26 percent
Looks pretty multicultural to me. Just sayin’. And these people, need it be remembered, had not asked to be here.
While much of the data has been lost, we know that most of the rest (1.3 million) were English, Scots (180,000), and Germans (156,000), with Dutch (54,000), Irish (44,000) and French (13,000). Obviously, the new country was populated with more than just English speakers. And if English colonists were a majority, they were not an overwhelming majority. Three-fifths is 60 percent, and 60 percent is just enough to override a presidential veto.
If you examine the census records, you find that in 1850, 9.7 percent of Americans were foreign-born, in 1860, 13.2 percent, in 1870, 14.4 percent and so on, not dropping below 10 percent again until 1940. To see just how diverse America’s population is, it is instructive to take a look at the Census Bureau’s Region and Country or Area of Birth of the Foreign-Born Population: 1960 to 1990 (1999)
The census also tells you were immigrants were coming from in different periods of U.S. history. In 1870, Chinese were added to the census as a category to include all East Asian people, and in 1890, the category of “Japanese” was added. Hindu, Korean, and Filipino were added in 1920. Mexicans were included in 1930 but in 1940 Mexicans turned into white people, a no doubt inexplicable decision to Republicans today. There have always been, among these various categories, gays and lesbians, atheists and Muslims and people of various other religions.
Though Kent’s CCC believes “mixing the races is rebelliousness against dog,” Thomas Jefferson felt it necessary to make this point in relation to his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786), writing in his autobiography (1821) that,
[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom … was finally passed, … a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.” The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.
In over two centuries, multiculturalism has not destroyed the United States. It has changed it, certainly (and if the America of 2015 is not the America of 1945, neither was the America of 1815 the America of 1745) but not destroyed it.
What is really being said here at CPAC is that “icky brown people” are destroying the United States. Multiculturalism, used this way, is simply a code word for “people who aren’t like us – i.e. not white.” And they’re not even really trying very hard to disguise that fact.


Fox’s O’Reilly parses the meaning of the word ‘see’

by Steve Benen
Bill O'Reilly appears on NBC News' "Today" show. (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty)
Fox News Bill O’Reilly has long been a controversial media figure, though the last week has been an especially awkward time for the conservative host. Specific claims he made about his work covering the Falklands war, for example, have struggled under scrutiny. Soon after, the public learned that O’Reilly’s claims about the suicide of a JFK assassination figure also appear to be, at best, suspect.
But perhaps the most striking angle to this story deals with claims O’Reilly made about seeing nuns murdered in El Salvador. If you missed last night’s show, Rachel’s segment on this stood out for me in part because of O’Reilly’s explanation.
First, a little backstory. Soon after the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, O’Reilly spoke on the air about the nature of evil. “I don’t think a lot of people understand,” he said. “My mother, for example, doesn’t understand evil. When I would tell her, ‘Hey, mom, I was in El Salvador and I saw nuns get shot in the back of the head,’ she almost couldn’t process it. She couldn’t process it.”
In reality, while Catholic nuns were executed during El Salvador’s civil war in December 1980, O’Reilly could not have seen them get shot – he was not in El Salvador in December 1980. He arrived in the country the following year.
Since there’s no way O’Reilly could have seen what he claims to have seen, Fox News gave “The Rachel Maddow Show” a statement from O’Reilly, which read as follows:
“While in El Salvador, reporters were shown horrendous images of violence that were never broadcast, including depictions of nuns who were murdered. The mention of the nuns on my program came the day of the Newtown massacre. The segment was about evil and how hard it is for folks to comprehend it. I used the murder nuns as an example of that evil. That’s what I was referring to when I say, ‘I saw nuns get shot in the back of head.’ No one could possibly take that segment as reporting on El Salvador.”
That’s a pretty remarkable response for a couple of reasons.
First, we’ve reached a curious point at which O’Reilly is parsing the meaning of the word “see.” When the Fox host said he “saw nuns get shot,” he apparently meant he saw pictures of nuns who were shot, and according to O’Reilly, those two sentiments have identical meaning.
And second, while O’Reilly says he only brought up the murders in El Salvador in the context of Newtown, that doesn’t explain why he said seven years before Newtown, “I’ve seen much worse behavior on the masculine side than the feminine side in my life, all right? I’ve seen guys gun down nuns in El Salvador.”
It does not appear that O’Reilly saw guys gun down nuns in El Salvador.

DC Mayor Defiantly Stands Up To House Republicans, Legalizes Pot In Nation’s Capital

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel BowserIgnoring warnings from Congressional Republicans, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser enacted the city’s new law legalizing marijuana possession on Thursday. Despite being issued stern warnings from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), that she would be breaking federal law by allowing pot to be legalized, Bowser was undeterred.
Noting that D.C. voters overwhelmingly approved the measure legalizing marijuana in the city, Bowser defiantly responded: 
We would encourage the Congress to not be so concerned with overturning what 7-in-10 voters said should be the law in the District of Columbia.
She added that Chaffetz and Meadows should focus on more important goals, like maybe funding Homeland Security. That task, she felt, should take precedence over fighting the evils of D.C. weed smokers toking up in the privacy of their homes.
Although the D.C. law still prohibits buying or selling marijuana, it does allow city residents, age 21 and older, to possess up to six marijuana plants. They can also transfer up to an ounce of marijuana to another person as a gift, as long as no money is exchanged. The law prohibits public smoking but allows private use of marijuana for recreational purposes.
The showdown between the D.C. Mayor and Congress has long been brewing as the Republican-dominated body has tried to use its federal authority to impose its will on the Democratically controlled city. Because the District of Columbia lacks statehood, Congress can more easily force policy on the District’s residents.
Congressional Republicans inserted provisions in a December bill to prevent D.C. from legalizing marijuana. It also forbade the city from reducing criminal penalties for drug possession. This, despite the fact that D.C. voters approved Initiative 71, to legalize weed, in November by a crushing 70-30 margin.
For all of their rhetoric about limited government, individual liberty, and local control, House Republicans do not want black people or multi-ethnic liberals, in the nation’s capital, to be able to exercise self-government. Fortunately, Washington D.C. has a strong Mayor who is willing to stand up for the city’s residents, against the meddling Republicans in Congress. The GOP Congress wants to rule over D.C. like feudal lords running a federal fiefdom.
Muriel Bowser has stood up to the wannabe feudal lords and made marijuana use legal in the city. Due to the ongoing conflict between Congress and the city, the drama surrounding D.C. pot legalization is far from over. However, at least for now, local residents can smoke a joint legally, thanks to Mayor Bowser and no thanks to moralizing GOP Congressmen like Chaffetz and Meadows.

17 Times: Police Shoot and Kill a Migrant Worker in WA

They said he was throwing rocks at police officers. Some of them hit cars and trucks, and two—one the size of a softball—allegedly hit an officer. He was confronted with “voice commands” and hit with a Taser, to no avail, the police report says. Antonio Zambrano-Montes, a 35-year-old Mexican national, was then chased on foot and shot.
That’s how many times Pasco, Washington police fired, with five or six rounds hitting and killing the former orchard worker, according to investigators. Onlookers claim that Zambrano-Montes was actually facing away from the officers when the shooting began and, at one point, turned around and had his “hands out.”
In a $25 million lawsuit against the city, the victim’s family accuses three police officers of shooting Zambrano-Montes “execution style.”
CopsBleedingFlagThe investigation comes at a time when law enforcement agencies across the country are being pressed to review their policing methods and when various types of force are necessary. Specifically, police departments operating in minority communities are being challenged to more fully and accurately account for “police involved” shootings, especially when an unarmed suspect dies.
A multi-jurisdiction special investigations unit looking into the incident says, according to the autopsy report there were “no shots in the back” and that they are reviewing a videotape to see if Zambrano-Montes was holding anything. The full autopsy report, including toxicology, is expected within four weeks.
But, during a press briefing Sgt. Ken Lattin said, “I think it’s safe to say there was a rock found next to his body.”