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Monday, March 2, 2015

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North Carolina officials: Sex between lobbyists and lawmakers has ‘no monetary value’

Arturo Garcia by Arturo Garcia
'Couple in a hotel room' [Shutterstock]
Officials in North Carolina handed down a ruling that attempts to clarify rules regarding “consensual sexual relations” between lobbyists and state lawmakers. But critics contend that it leaves the door open for third-party arranged liaisons.
As WFAE-FM reported on Wednesday, the State Ethics Commission determined that in a “general and largely hypothetical context,” sexual encounters between legislators and registered lobbyists do not have to be reported as expenditures.
The ruling came in response to an inquiry from state Sec. of State Elaine F. Marshall’s (D) office. Marshall’s request did not refer to any specific case, the commission noted, limiting its response.
“Consensual sexual relationships do not have monetary value and therefore are not reportable as gifts or reportable expenditure made for lobbying,” the committee said in a letter. “However, a lobbyist or lobbyist principal’s provision of paid prostitution services by a third party to a designated individual could constitute a gift or thing of value, albeit an illegal one, depending on the particular facts.”
At the same time, the commission stated that if no lobbyist were involved in a sexual encounter, “there would be no need to even consider the application of the Lobbying Law’s gift ban or expenditure reporting requirements.”
Stephen Spaulding, who works for the watchdog group Common Cause, told WFAE that the key to the commission’s ruling was that it hinged on consensual relationships, adding that political workplace relationships are not uncommon.
“You have plenty of members of Congress and state legislators that are married to registered lobbyists,” Spaulding said. “If the intent is to move a client’s agenda forward I think that raises all kinds of ethical concerns and the conflict of interests are just more than apparent.”
But according to Addicting Info, the ruling could lead to potential ethical violations.
“In other words, lobbyists can hire people expressly for a politician to use in a carnal manner, even if the politician asks for or otherwise indicates their desire for such a service,” Nathaniel Downes wrote.
According to state regulations, legislators and state officials must report any gifts from lobbyists worth at least $10. WRAL-TV reported that the rules were adopted in the wake of then-state House Speaker Jim Black’s  resignation and conviction on bribery corruption charges in 2007.
Five years later, two aides for then-House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) resigned after admitting to inappropriate relationships with lobbyists. Tillis is currently fucking up in the Senate.

Maine Shows That Publicly Financed Elections Really Can Work

by Andrew Bossie
Maine Citizens for Clean Elections
welcome to maine road signAlmost 20 years ago, Maine voters approved a transformative initiative to put elections back where they belong, in the hands of everyday people. The proposal, passed by voters in 1996 and put into effect for the 2000 election cycle, had a simple premise: our elected officials should be accountable to the people electing them, not wealthy donors and special interests trying to curry favor.Under this Clean Election Act, legislative candidates who demonstrate broad support can choose to qualify for public funds for their campaign by collecting a large number of small contributions and agreeing to forgo raising large contributions.
It worked well for several cycles. Hundreds of candidates were able to run and win office without prostrating themselves before big donors and lobbyists. Farmers, waitresses, and others who usually can’t make their voice heard in politics were able to go to Maine’s state capital Augusta and represent their constituents free from the influence of special interest cash.
The Clean Election Act has allowed Mainers to have a government that’s truly reflective and accountable to the voters. A 2007 study conducted by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, showed that seven out of 10 women said that having the Clean Election Act was very important in their decision to run for office and that more women ran for office as a result of public financing. Former Maine Senator Deb Simpson, who was a single mom and waitress when she decided to run for the state house using Clean Elections, said of the system that it allowed her the resources “without having to figure out how to ask for money from donors when I really didn’t live in that world.”
In the 2014 book, White-Collar Government, author Nicholas Carnes praises Maine as having the most blue-collar legislature in the country, with one out of seven state representatives holding blue-collar jobs. He goes on to draw a correlation between Maine’s strong public policy geared toward working-class people and our citizen-led legislature of diverse economic backgrounds.
At one point, a full 85 percent of the legislature was elected using Clean Elections, but then the United States Supreme Court got in the way. In a one-two punch of decisions, Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett and Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court made it harder for publicly financed candidates to compete with newly-empowered outside groups.
As a result, on Election Day 2014, just over half of the winning candidates used the Clean Election Act to fund their campaigns. Fortunately, something else happened that day — Mainers fought back. Nearly 1,000 volunteers, working with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, fanned out across the state to collect signatures for a ballot initiative to restore Clean Elections, enhance disclosure and increase the accountability of our elected officials. This January, we submitted over 85,000 signatures to the Secretary of State, more than enough to put a question on the ballot this November.
At the press conference announcing the signatures, former Republican State Senator Ed Youngblood said, “So much about politics is about divisions, but in this Clean Election endeavor, we are Mainers first. Republicans like me worked alongside Democrats, Greens and unenrolled voters to collect these signatures. That is a reflection of the widespread concern about the skyrocketing cost of elections and the growing role of Big Money.”
The ballot initiative is straightforward. We’re asking voters to approve changes to the law that will restore the viability of Clean Elections, so we can once again have a government that is accountable to everyday voters, and not bought and paid for by wealthy special interests. When enacted, this initiative will shine a light on dark money in our elections by strengthening disclosure and transparency laws. It would also raise fines and penalties on those that break our campaign finance laws – a practice which lately has become all too common.
Over the next 10 months, we’ll be talking to Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and any Mainer who will listen, encouraging them to vote in favor of this initiative to ensure the longtime viability of this landmark law.
Mainers — and everyone in America — want and deserve a government that’s of, by and for the people. In 1996, Maine took a bold step in showing the rest of the country how to do that. It’s our turn to do it again.

US elections are rigged. But Canada knows how to fix them.

by Andrew Prokop
When Americans voted for the House of Representatives in 2012, Democratic candidates won 1.4 million more votes than Republicans. Yet after the dust settled, the GOP ended up with a 234-201 majority in the chamber. And notably, in several states, Republicans had won about half the vote or less — but ended up with a far greater share of the states' Congressional seats:
Gerrymandering Chart Updated Final
Last year, in contrast, the GOP won a national landslide. But despite winning big victories in these four states, they only picked up one new House seat overall among them (in North Carolina). That's because Republicans already won nearly all of the competitive seats in 2012 — partly because of gerrymandering.
Gerrymandering isn't the only reason that election results only occasionally match vote totals. "Does redistricting explain why Democrats got a majority of the votes, but not a majority of the seats [in 2012]? Probably not," Eric McGhee, a fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, told me last year. Several analyses find that simple geography matters more — many Democratic voters are packed closer together in urban areas.
But gerrymandering infuriates voters because it feels so unfair. Letting partisan politicians — or their appointees — draw congressional districts reverses the normal order of politics. Voters are supposed to choose their politicians. Gerrymandering lets politicians choose their voters.
So is it possible to end gerrymandering? Well, the country just north of us managed to pull it off.
How Canada does it
"Canadian reapportionment was highly partisan from the beginning until the 1960s," writes Charles Paul Hoffman in the Manitoba Law Journal. This "led to frequent denunciations by the media and opposition parties. Every ten years, editorial writers would condemn the crass gerrymanders that had resulted." Sound familiar?
Independent commissions now handle the redistricting in every Canadian province
Eventually, in 1955, one province — Manitoba — decided to experiment, and handed over the redistricting process to an independent commission. Its members were the province's chief justice, its chief electoral officer, and the University of Manitoba president. The new policy became popular, and within a decade, it was backed by both major national parties, and signed into law.
Independent commissions now handle the redistricting in every province. "Today, most Canadian ridings [districts] are simple and uncontroversial, chunky and geometric, and usually conform to the vague borders of some existing geographic / civic region knowable to the average citizen who lives there," writes JJ McCullough. "Of the many matters Canadians have cause to grieve their government for, corrupt redistricting is not one of them." Hoffman concurs, writing, "The commissions have been largely successful since their implementation."
American experiments with redistricting commissions
So why hasn't the US done this yet? One reason is that in Canada, there was a long tradition of the national parliament being involved in the redistricting process. But the US leaves the boundary-drawing to the states. The national government and the courts have only interfered for two main reasons: to keep each district roughly equal in population, and to combat racial discrimination. So a national law requiring independent redistricting commissions in each state would go against the US tradition of state independence, and might not even be constitutional.
there are no truly nonpartisan redistricting commissions in the us
And it's important to note that these commissions can be little better than the system that preceded them. Some US states have ostensible redistricting commissions, but let politicians name the appointees. "Those commissions are not really independent per se, they're just a separate venue where Democrats and Republicans can hash out their differences," McGhee said.
The specifics of the commission's instructions also matter. "Some of these commissions are specifically charged with creating competitive districts, but that process has costs to it," Nicholas Goedert, a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, warned. "You can end up with districts that are not as amenable to representing minority interests."
Only six US states use commissions to do their redistricting, but none of them have fully embraced the Canadian solution. The key difference is that Canada's commission members are all nonpartisan — they're mostly judges, political scientists, or retired civil servants. But our states with redistricting commissions, like California and New Jersey, reserve many seats for members of political parties. "There are no truly nonpartisan redistricting commissions in the United States," political scientist Bruce Cain of Stanford University told me last year. Iowa uses a nonpartisan agency that's not permitted to take party registration into account, but it still gives final say to the governor and legislature.
How California's commission works
California's commission does take several steps toward independence. It doesn't let politicians specifically choose commissioners — instead, it uses a complex selection process with thousands of applicants that includes random drawings as well as input from the legislature. And while the commission reserves 5 seats for Democrats and 5 for Republicans, it has 4 "tie-breaking" seats for people of neither major party.
But in 2012, California Democrats won 62% of the House vote, and got 72% of the seats — so some have argued that the state just ended up gerrymandered anyway. Yet McGhee, the researcher from the Public Policy Institute of California, told me those kinds of numbers are to be expected. That's because the US only elects one winner from each district — so the losing voters in each district don't affect the House delegation at all. When one simulates various districts and election outcomes under such a system, the winning side naturally ends up with some advantage in the results — a winner's bonus.
Though McGhee was originally skeptical of California's commission, he had come around when I talked to him in the spring of 2014. "I think they did a great job. Compared to the previous decade, the new plans were more fair, more compact, and provided better minority representation," he said. As for reported attempts by Democrats to influence the process, McGhee said, "If you talk to the commissioners, they say, 'Yeah, we knew that was going on, we could tell which people were likely shills for one side or the other.' The only question is whether the outside forces will play the commission better next time around."
Replacing gerrymandering with independent commissions won't solve all our problems. But 50 years of Canadian experience shows that it can make elections more fair — and that it's possible to make one of the worst features of our politics a thing of the past.

Republican Congressman: ‘Sometimes I believe Republicans live in an unreal world’

by Egberto Willies 
Peter King slams Republicans about funding Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security fiasco continues as Republicans continue to play games with the security of the American people. According to the Huffington Post,
The upper chamber voted 98-2 on a procedural hurdle that would pave the way for a “clean” funding bill to be brought to the floor, following a deal announced by Senate Democratic leaders earlier in the day. Only Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) voted against moving forward with the agreement, which would fund DHS without any measures to block President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration.
If the Senate passes the bill it will be up to Speaker John Boehner to decide if he will allow a vote on a clean bill disassociated from the President’s executive action on immigration. In the press conference above Minority Leader made it clear that he will not allow anything but a clean bill to get through the Senate. He said he has heard many rumors that the House will return the fully funded DHS bill and send it back with many riders.
“It is a waste of time,” said Senator Harry Reid. “We will not allow a conference to take place. It won’t happen.”
Speaker John Boehner in the interview above continued to push for connecting the President’s Immigration Executive order to DHS funding. He claimed that Republicans were united on the issue. Really? Congressman Peter King (R-NY) did not concur.
“It is absolute insanity for Republicans if we don’t vote on the clean bill,” Congressman Peter King said. “If the Senate send’s us a clean bill, we have an absolute obligation not just a political obligation but a moral obligation to vote on that. To be defunding the Department of Homeland Security at a time when the terror threats are greater now than at anytime since 9/11. To me it’s just living in, it’s a fantasy world, a delusional world. … Sometimes I think that the Republicans are living in an unreal world.”
Sensible Republicans need to speak up. They have been quiet for too long as their party has been taken over by radical extremist ideologues.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Obliterates Scott Walker With Just One Sentence

Sen. Elizabeth Warren needed just one sentence to lay waste to the hopes of the union buster turned Republican Great White Hope for 2016 Scott Walker.
At CPAC, Gov. Scott Walker compared 100,000 teachers and firefighters who were protesting his busting of public sector unions in Wisconsin to ISIS, “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.”
Sen. Warren (D-MA) used a few choice words to destroy the wannabe 2016 Republican nominee:
If Scott Walker sees 100,000 teachers & firefighters as his enemies, maybe it's time we take a closer look at his friends.

The attempt to boost his foreign policy credibility by comparing teachers and firefighters to terrorists has backfired on Gov. Walker. Scott Walker has quickly taken off his pretend moderate mask to reveal his real extremism. Sen. Warren brought up a great point. If Walker considers hard working Americans who protect our communities and educate our kids the enemy, what does that say about the people who he calls his friends?
Scott Walker is going to regret that remark to CPAC because as Warren demonstrated it is an easy line to use against him. Walker’s statement also opens the door to more scrutiny of his positions and who is backing him. Gov. Walker (R-WI) is a favorite of the Koch brothers, and he would not have survived the recall mounted against him if it weren’t for a flood of billionaire dark money into his state.
Walker’s claim to fame is his attack on unions. He can’t run on his terrible economic record in Wisconsin. The governor has already demonstrated that he is a foreign policy buffoon. All Walker has worked for him is his union busting. The comparison of peaceful protesters and public servants to ISIS may play well at CPAC, but it would make Walker unelectable in a general election.
The ease with which Warren laid out Walker indicates that Democrats would have a field day if he became the Republican nominee. Elizabeth Warren perfectly delivered the message by wiping the floor with Scott Walker in 140 characters or less.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Wants To Eliminate Reporting Requirements For Campus Rapes

Walker has proposed a budget which says that campus rape isn't such a big deal that a witness should be required to report it. …
Scott Walker ABC This Week
Tucked away in Republican Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget, is a clause that has nothing to do with campus funding. Yes, the proposed budget cuts 30 million dollars from the public university system. But beyond the Governor’s war on education, he is also intensifying the war on women, by proposing the elimination of rape reporting requirements on campus.
Governor: Delete the requirement that the Board direct each institution and college campus to incorporate oral and written or electronic information on sexual assault in its orientation program for newly entering students and to supply all students enrolled in the institution or college campus with the same information in either printed or electronic form. Delete the requirement that the Board of Regents submit an annual report to the legislature regarding the methods used to comply with the above requirement.
Delete the requirement that any person employed at an institution who witnesses a sexual assault on campus or receives a report from a student enrolled in the institution that the student has been sexually assaulted report the assault to the dean of students.
Delete the requirement that each institution report annually to the Department of Justice (DOJ) statistics on sexual assaults and on sexual assaults committed by acquaintances of the victims that occurred on the campus of that institution in the previous years, and that DOJ include those statistics in appropriate crime reports.
This measure would eliminate the requirement that universities must report the number of sexual assault that occurred on campus to the Department of Justice (DOJ), during the reporting year. That alone is controversial. However, the more shocking change is that Walker’s proposal would also end the requirement that university employees who witness a sexual assault on campus, must report it to the Dean of Students. Walker apparently thinks its okay for university employees to remain silent about sexual assaults on campus.
Over the last couple of election cycles the Republican Party has battled the perception that they are waging a “War on Women”. Whether the issue is equal pay for equal work, reproductive choice, domestic violence, or insensitivity towards rape victims, the GOP has struggled to shed the image that they are anti-woman.
Scott Walker however appears to be waging the war anew. Apparently he relishes wielding power to oppress the people of Wisconsin as some kind of stepping stone to the White House. Perhaps his reasoning is if he cripples enough unions, and ignores enough rapes, maybe he will win the undying loyalty of the meanest primary voters in the GOP. If he can prove his misogynistic mettle with enough fervor, maybe it will inspire those Republicans who can’t stand Hillary Clinton to line up in his camp.
Who knows what Walker is actually thinking, with this ill-conceived proposal. What is clear however, is that one of the leading Republican candidates for President, has proposed a budget which says that campus rape isn’t such a big deal that a witness should actually have to report it to the Dean of Students.

Overheard at CPAC: Conservatives on Parade

by Jesse Berney
There is definitely a type at CPAC: young, white (of course), male, wearing a suit, completely awkward, yet brimming with confidence. They’re delighted to be here, and they should be. Lots of conservative red meat on the main stage, lots of take-home treats in the exhibit hall, trainings and parties.
You hear some interesting things as you walk through the halls. Some politics related, some not. Here are some of the top quotes I overheard at CPAC:
  • “I’m just here for the outfits.”
  • “I was just in the elevator with Ted Cruz!” -a very excited attendee sporting a student credential
  • “MOHAMMED IS A HOMO” -definitely the worst t-shirt I saw here
  • “Killin’ it. Killin’ it.” -attendee very excited about his three-piece suit
  • “The man is the head of the house, the woman is the neck.”
  • “The Democrats are like the Politburo. You never hear about Democrats having any discord.” -someone who has apparently never been in a room with two Democrats.
  • “I am literally starving.” -Jeb Bush supporter who was not, in fact, literally starving.
  • “I only play squash and golf.” -Those aren’t sports, squash is just a networking activity for rich kids.
  • “He was telling me about breakfast burritos and how they’re like ISIS and global jihad.” -the most CPAC thing ever said.

Laura Ingraham Trashes Jeb Bush in Delicious Example of GOP Cannibalism

by John Paul Brammer
IngrahamCpacLet it be known going into this that I, like most people with half a heart, really can’t stand Laura Ingraham. Seriously. This is a woman who took great pleasure in outing closeted gay men when she was the editor of the Dartmouth Review. 
I also, however, don’t really care for Jeb Bush. Not that he’s worse than Ingraham in his views. No, you’d have to be Ann Coulter or something to achieve that. But he does stand a good chance at becoming the Donner Republican Party’s presidential nominee.
Having no dog in this fight, it was delicious to see Ingraham completely trash Bush (and his wife, Columba) at the CPAC conference at Maryland. Take a look.
According to The Washington Post, Columba Bush took out a loan to buy $42,311.70 worth of jewelry in one day.
That’s a lot of bling, and if it’s true, Laura Ingraham, terrifyingly enough, might have a point. Ingraham also claimed there is little difference between Clinton and Bush, saying:
“Go through the list of things they agree on: Common Core, amnesty, giving Obama fast-track trade authority — lots of new trade deals with China — the surveillance culture. So I’m designing the bumper sticker. ‘CLUSH 2016, What difference does it make?’”
I would love to find these bumper stickers at CPAC with all the rest of the weird swag they have for sale. The more infighting in the GOP, the better.
BONUS ROUND: Bill O’Reilly blowing up at Laura Ingraham.
Now for round three, Jeb Bush should blow up at Bill O’Reilly, thus completing the vicious cycle of GOP punditry and keeping the circle of life in motion.

Democrats Win As Senate Passes Clean Homeland Security Bill 68-31

Senate Republicans caved gave Democrats and President Obama what they wanted by passing a clean Homeland Security funding bill, 68-31.
The Senate passed an amendment that removed the provisions that blocked President Obama’s immigration executive orders from the House bill. In other words, the Senate has done its job, but the chaos and confusion in the House make it less than certain that a shutdown of Homeland Security has been avoided. Speaker of the House John Boehner is not going to bring the Senate bill up for a vote. Instead, Boehner is going to attempt to pass a three-week continuing resolution to temporarily fund Homeland Security.
The large margin of passage of the amendment made it clear that Senate Republicans want no part of this fight. Conservatives are outraged at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and are in full Ronald Reagan quotation mode over his cave.
Senate Democrats have proven themselves to be a strong and powerful minority. Republicans have not been able to split the Democrats, and it has been Harry Reid’s side of the aisle that has been setting the agenda in the Senate. Republican Sen. Richard Shelby complained to Politico that Sen. Reid is controlling the agenda, “He is controlling the agenda, and he probably will control the agenda if we don’t change the rules.”
The rule change that Sen. Shelby wants is for the filibuster to be gutted so that only 51 votes are required to advance and pass legislation. Harry Reid wouldn’t make this change when he was Majority Leader, and Mitch McConnell has shown zero interest in getting rid of all filibusters during his brief time in charge.
Democrats are controlling the agenda through effective use of their minority powers. The difference is that Democrats aren’t obstructing for the purpose of obstruction. Democrats disagree with the legislation that is being offered. When Republicans come to the middle, they will have more Democratic support. If they continue to insist on trying to pass dead on arrival House legislation, Senate Democrats will remain united in opposition.

The Truth Be Told


Bernie Sanders Tears Into House Republicans For Passing One Week DHS Funding Bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has some pointed words for House Republicans. Sanders told them that it was time to stop playing political games. and found it incomprehensible that the House is refusing to properly fund Homeland Security.
In a statement, Sen. Sanders (I-VT) said:
At a time when ISIS is a growing terrorist threat to the United States and countries around the world, it is incomprehensible that the Republican House of Representatives refuses to follow what the Senate did and fund the Department of Homeland Security for the entire fiscal year. Enough is enough.
On behalf of the more than 2,500 Homeland Security workers in Vermont and their co-workers around the country, I hope the House will stop playing political games and fully fund this important department.
The one week funding bill is an embarrassment that Republicans should be ashamed of. Friday’s fiasco in the House provided clear evidence that Republicans can’t govern. When left on their own, House Republicans can only agree on extremist legislation that will never become law.
It is way past time for the House majority to stop playing partisan politics. The insistence on the language the overturns President Obama’s executive orders on immigration is a direct pander to their Republican base. House Republicans have placed partisan politics ahead of national security, and it is not an exaggeration to suggest, as Sen. Sanders did, that House Republicans are sending a clear message to those who want to attack the United States.
By messing with Homeland Security funding, Republicans are embarrassing their country at home and abroad. They are also playing a dangerous game that could invite another attack on the United States. Sen. Sanders is as liberal as they get in the United States Senate, and he understands the importance of Homeland Security.
What Sen. Sanders statement highlights is the fact that Homeland Security isn’t a liberal or a conservative issue. It isn’t a political football, or a hostage that can be ransomed in order to achieve partisan objectives.
The funding of Homeland Security is a basic measurement of the House Republicans’ ability to govern. It’s a test that the Republicans are spectacularly failing.

The DHS Crisis Might Die, But Congressional Dysfunction Is Alive & Well

by Jill Bond
BorderPatrolIn their latest attempt to inflict pain on the people they are supposed to govern, the Republican-led majorities in both the House and Senate have separate bills that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Funding for DHS is set to expire at midnight on Friday.
The DHS-immigration fiasco has the House and Senate at odds with each other over the last several days. The Senate ending up splitting the bill and sent a “clean” funding proposal not tied to immigration over to the House. The Senate’s bill would fund DHS through September 30.
Meanwhile, the House passed a bill that kicked this can down the road three weeks. House Republicans have balked at not being able to hinge the funding on blocking President Obama’s executive actions, leaving Boehner (in tears) mostly reliant on Democrats to approve it. There were unconfirmed reports that Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas actually threw a hissy fit.
Boehner will have to convince at least 25 Republicans to play nice with Democrats in order to pass a clean bill, so expect to see him make some more pained faces for the camera as he tries to convince conservatives that he put up a good fight.

Twisted By Obama Hate, Republicans Threaten To Overthrow Boehner If Clean DHS Bill Passes

boehner-cryA group of House Republicans hate President Obama so much that there is a very real possibility that they overthrow John Boehner if he allows a vote on the Senate passed clean funding bill for Homeland Security.
Politico reported, “Boehner’s allies are concerned after Friday’s setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility.”
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi signaled to her House Democrats that Speaker Boehner cut a deal with her to allow a clean vote on the Senate passed Homeland Security bill next week, “Your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding next week. Thank you for your leadership.”
Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, denied that his boss made a deal with Democrats, “We did not make any such ‘deal’ or promise.”
There obviously was a deal made. Here is how the process is expected to play out. Senate Democrats are going to block the move to form a conference committee that would combine the House and Senate passed bills. Without a conference committee, House Republicans can’t reinsert their language overturning President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Speaker Boehner’s only remaining move will be to bring the Senate’s clean Homeland Security funding bill to the floor for a vote. Democrats will join with Boehner’s supporters in passing the clean funding bill.
If all goes as expected, conservatives will be demanding that Boehner be removed from the speakership. In other words, a group of House Republicans hate President Obama so much that they are willing to jeopardize Homeland Security in an attempt to defeat him. They would deem Boehner’s clean funding of Homeland Security to be a fireable offense, and would seek to remove Boehner from his position as the leader of the House Republicans.
House Democrats have likely agreed not speak publicly about the deal, but it is clear that this situation is going to end with the Senate’s bill that funds DHS through September being passed, but because he didn’t sufficiently jeopardize national security, John Boehner might find himself out of a job.

Boehner Is A National Embarrassment For Comparing America to China and Russia

The problem with Boehner is that he is so accustomed to lying and making a laughingstock of himself, that he is likely unaware that he embarrasses himself,…
Boehner PipelineEmbarrassment is an emotional state of intense discomfort experienced upon having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by other people. Over the course of the past few years there has been no greater national embarrassment than the unacceptable actions of Republicans in Congress; particularly Speaker of the House John A. Boehner. The problem with Boehner is that he is so accustomed to lying and making a laughingstock of himself, that he is likely unaware that he embarrasses himself, and America, whenever he opens his mouth.
Boehner outdid himself this week when he threw a childish fit due to President Obama’s veto of the unconstitutional Republican legislation approving a permit for construction of a Canadian corporation’s Keystone tar sand pipeline. Now, Boehner has been lying through his teeth about all aspects of the pipeline to benefit himself, a foreign nation, the oil industry, and a foreign corporation. However, he reached a new low when he said the President’s veto was a “national embarrassment” and not in “America’s national interest” by comparing America with China and Russia’s pipeline projects.
Boehner said, “The president’s veto of the Keystone jobs bill is a national embarrassment.  It’s embarrassing when Russia and China are plowing ahead on two massive pipelines and we can’t get this one no-brainer of a project off the ground. He’s too invested in left-fringe politics to do what presidents are called on to do, and that’s put the national interest first.” Seriously, Boehner said “no-brainer, left-fringe politics, and national interest” all at once in comparing America with China and Russia; it begs a couple of questions Boehner likely cannot and will not answer.
The first question that comes to mind and one Boehner will not answer without more lies is; whose national interests is it in to build the Keystone pipeline? The second question is; what in dog’s name does left-fringe politics have to do with not putting a foreign nation and foreign corporation’s interests above those of America’s? And, does Boehner know anything whatsoever about the Chinese and Russian governments to dare compare them to America without sounding like a raving lunatic?
This is where Boehner’s citing what China and Russia are doing with their ‘massive pipelines’ boggled the mind. For one thing, the notion that building Keystone is putting the “national interest” first is beyond comprehension; unless Boehner means Canada’s national interest, or the Koch brothers, ConocoPhilips, TransCanada, or Boehner’s interests first.
It is well-established that there are no benefits whatsoever to America, its national interest, its people, its economy, or its unemployment rate by building Keystone. If China or Russia are building massive pipelines, they are building them to either bring in, or transport, oil to their citizens and businesses for national use; not to benefit oil companies sending it to foreign nations. In fact, if China is building a massive pipeline it is most likely to transport Canadian oil imported from American refineries on the Gulf Coast. That is where a great deal of the exported Canadian oil is stated. It is noteworthy that when Senate Democrats attempted to attach an amendment to the “Keystone approval legislation” demanding the Canadian oil stay in America; Republicans blocked it because the oil belongs to Canada and is going to China.
It is also certain that China’s leaders would not block a provision demanding that its massive pipeline project use Chinese-made steel to build their pipeline. Republicans blocked a Democratic measure demanding the pipeline use American-made steel exclusively. There is nothing in the pipeline that benefits America’s national interest and in that regard; at least China and Russia’s pipeline projects are in their respective national interests. Boehner’s China and Russia comparison was total bovine excrement.
Boehner also said that “there are manufacturers clamoring for the development of North American resources.” In referring to Keystone, he meant Canadian resources. Since the refined tar sands is slated exclusively for export on the foreign market, those ‘clamoring’ manufacturers are foreign, not American and those resources belong to Canada; not America. Most Americans are unaware that since Korea is already contracted and has been supplying the steel for the pipeline, and that ConocoPhilips has deals to export the oil to foreign nations in Asia, those clamoring manufacturers are foreign. Like John Boehner, they have no regard and could not possibly care less about America’s national interests; they care about getting Canada’s oil.
Another area where Boehner’s comparison with Russia and particularly China epitomizes his lunacy is how either of those nations’ leaders would react to a corrupt special interest group in a position of power attempting to subvert the government authority for personal profit and to help a foreign nation; particularly in China. A group attempting to assist a foreign nation with lies and corruption would garner a lot more than a presidential veto.
In China, for example, they would likely be identified, ridiculed publicly, and promptly sent to prison for violating government procedures if they were lucky; more than likely they would be taken out and summarily executed. Boehner, in particular, would be in serious trouble for lying and using his position of authority to aid and abet a foreign entity and benefit his personal stock portfolio. The only thing Boehner and Republicans received was a mild rebuke when President Obama accused them of attempting to subvert the constitutional authority of the Executive Branch when he vetoed the legislation
For the president, Keystone may just be today’s politics, but there are workers who have spent years counting on the 42,000 jobs this project will support who want us to put politics aside and get this done.” The only reason any American worker may have thought, or counted on, jobs from building the pipeline is due to Boehner’s persistent abominable lies about the number of jobs to drive up share prices when investors think the tar sands development is imminent. Remember, there will only be about 1,200 jobs each year over two years according to the pipeline’s owner TransCanada, and that means about 2,400 temporary specialized jobs the pipeline’s owner will supply. There will only be 35 permanent jobs because it takes very little manpower to operate a pipeline. It is why they rupture, explode, and wipe out environments so easily; they are unmonitored.
Boehner’s childish rant, and claim that the President’s veto was a ‘national embarrassment’ by comparing America to China and Russia was truly a national embarrassment; particularly claiming building the pipeline is in America’s national interest. If Boehner even understood what America’s national interest entailed, he would be screaming about American oil producers shutting down drilling rigs to drive up the price of domestic oil, or pass a clean Department of Homeland Security funding bill.
Americans have witnessed a plethora of John Boehner fits since President Obama has been in the White House, but this last one over a presidential veto founded on a President really protecting America’s national interest is a monumental national embarrassment. It is also something China or Russia would not tolerate coming from a corrupt politician working solely to advance the national interests of a foreign corporation over the interests of Americans.

Reality ...

Two are false and one is true. 
Can you guess which?

This Republican Wants a Civil Rights Organization for White People

Shelia Butt
A member of the Tennessee House of Representatives says she was “misunderstood” when she called for a new civil rights organization that supports white people. Rep. Sheila Butt posted a Facebook comment suggesting that “…It is time for a Council on Christian Relations and an NAAWP in this country.”
She later said she made up the controversial acronym and explained that she was not referring to the National Association for the Advancement of White People, the group once led by white supremacist and former KKK leader David Duke.
Butt was responding to “an open letter to Republican leaders” that urged Republican presidential candidates to “engage Muslim voters, reject Islamophobia.” Butt, who has since apologized, said her remarks were intended to mean “Western people” or “Western culture.”
“I strongly believe that this nation is better off when we all adhere to our Christian values and beliefs,” she told her colleagues on the House floor. “…And this being divisive, and this trying to make something intentionally that was inclusive to be divisive, is something that should not happen in this body, and I am disappointed if it was misunderstood by many of you or some of you.”
SheliaButtButt said her Facebook post was about the First Amendment: “Our religious beliefs, our religious liberty in this body, in this state, and in this country.”
Some of her colleagues, including several Republicans, say the apology fell short and demanded that Butt be censured. Black Caucus Chair Rep. Brenda Gilmore of Nashville said she was “left very sad…because we expected stronger leadership. The Republican Administration is not taking any action, so by their silence we take it they condone this behavior.”
Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada disputed that, saying he stands with Butts. “The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Black Caucus need to stop this foolishness and quit acting like they do in Washington, D.C.”
Editor's Note: This is not a bad idea in the scope of things - Civil Rights, that is, however the approach is not what they are trying to make it out to be. 
Civil Rights should apply to ALL and any group advocating for any particular sub-set of US citizens is doing it wrong. 
Yes, that means ALL groups.
Just as there is one 'Race' the Human Race advocates should be advocating for humans, not any particular sub-group misnamed as a 'Race'.

White Supremacist Group Is at Odds With Arizona State

by Goldie Taylor
WhitenessAn Arizona State University professor is embroiled in controversy after a journalism student complained about an English course on race theory was announced. Appearing on Fox News, Lauren Clark said she was disturbed by the class offered in the Spring 2015 catalog because it singled out white people as “the root cause of social injustices for this country.”
White supremacist groups, including the National Youth Front — an arm of the white nationalist organization American Freedom Party— were awakened and objected to a class called “Race Theory & the Problem of Whiteness.” According to Talking Points Memo, Professor Lee Bebout has been subjected to death threats and other menacing messages after his personal contact information and photos of his mixed-race family were shared on message boards.
New Jersey-based Angelo John Gage, a prior service Marine who chairs the NYF, called Bebout’s course “racist” and a clear indication that white people were again being victimized. “We’re an oppressed majority,” he said, quizzically. “But we’re becoming a minority, and that’s the concern I have with the future.”
He also maintained that his group is non-violent and not behind the flurry of e-mail threats sent to the professor. “We’re pressing on [the university] because what they’re doing is completely racist and hypocritical.” He questioned why ASU did not offer similar studies about a “blackness problem” or a “Jewishness problem.”
ASU defended the course and in a statement said the “problem of whiteness” class would “examine how people talk about – or avoid talking about – race in the contemporary United States.” It also defended the course as “designed to empower students to confront the difficult and often thorny issues that surround us today and reach thoughtful conclusions rather than display gut reactions.”

Ex-Sheriff Fought Against Obamacare Now Needs Help Paying Medical Bills

by Jill Bond
mack2Former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack — a Clive Bundy supporter who last year proposed putting women on the front lines at the Bundy Ranch to be shot and a passionate opponent of Obamacare — is now trying to find the means to pay for his and his wife’s medical bills, because… Karma.
Mack is self-employed, according to Talking Points Memo, and founded the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association “to uphold, defend, protect, preserve, and obey the Constitutions of the United States of America.” He described the group on the CSPOA blog site as “the army to set our nation free.” Of course they don’t believe in government “handouts” or having states partake in the Affordable Care Act. That would be unpatriotic!
And now he finds himself and his wife both recovering from serious illnesses and is left to beg for money to cover their hospital bills and expenses because he chose to thumb his nose at the ACA. Or as I’m sure he likes to call it, Obummercare.
Mack’s answer to his distressing situation has been to start a GoFundMe account that his friends, family and strangers can contribute their hard-earned dollars to in order to help cover the expenses he and his wife have racked up while being uninsured.
“Since it appears that recovery will take a good deal of time with associated expenses, I struggle to not feel stress – both the stress of thinking about huge hospital and other medical bills as well as regular living expenses while I am unable to work — and also the stress of not being able to accomplish what I am so passionate about doing for others,” Talking Points Memo reports Mack wrote in a note on his GoFundMe page. “It is difficult and humbling to say that we need your help, but we do.”
Some people never learn. The number of uninsured Americans has been reduced by 12 million thanks to the ACA, and that number is expected to climb to 24 million by the end of 2016, ensuring that these individuals won’t be put into the same dire predicament that Mack has currently found himself in.
Yet one of the things Mack has been “passionate” about doing is, you guessed it — blocking affordable health care.

If You’re Keeping Score, Add The LA Riots To List Of Things Bill O’Reilly Has Lied About

bill o'reilly falklandsOn Thursday evening, The Guardian published a report claiming six people who worked with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly during the 1992 Los Angeles riots have disputed his past remarks that he was attacked by protesters and concrete rained down on him. At the same time, Media Matters reported that more people have come forward to refute O’Reilly’s claims that he was on the front porch of George de Mohrenschildt’s house when the Russian emigre killed himself with a shotgun blast in 1977. Meanwhile, The O’Reilly Factor host has also tried to explain away his apparent exaggerations over his reporting in El Salvador by parsing the meaning of the word ‘see.’
The Guardian interviewed a number of O’Reilly’s former colleagues from his time with the tabloid program Inside Edition regarding claims he’s made about his personal coverage of the LA riots. In 2006, O’Reilly told a website that rioters were “throwing bricks and stones at us” and “concrete was raining down on us.” Earlier this week, in a conversation with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, the Fox host told Hewitt that his group was attacked by protesters and bricks were thrown at them.
However, O’Reilly’s former Inside Edition colleagues who were with him at the scene say that nothing of the sort ever happened when they went to cover the riots. Instead, they think O’Reilly may be wildly overstating an encounter with a homeowner who tossed a chunk of concrete at a camera when O’Reilly’s team was setting up on a street near the man’s home. Per those present or who had access to footage at the time, nobody was hit by bricks, concrete wasn’t rained down on anyone and protesters did not attack O’Reilly or any other reporters.
Regarding the specific incident former colleagues believed O’Reilly is referring to, The Guardian wrote the following:
Several members of the team suggested that O’Reilly may instead be overstating a fracas involving one disgruntled Los Angeles resident, who smashed one of their cameras with a piece of rubble.
Two of the team said the man was angered specifically by O’Reilly behaving disrespectfully after arriving at the smoking remains of his neighbourhood in a limousine, whose driver at one point began polishing the vehicle. O’Reilly is said to have shouted at the man and asked him: “Don’t you know who I am?”
O’Reilly has also come under fire over allegations that he completely made up a story in his best-selling book Killing Kennedy. In the book, he claimed he was present with de Mohrenschildt killed himself in Palm Beach, Florida, even though O’Reilly was a reporter in  Texas at the time. Earlier this week, Media Matters interviewed two reporters who worked with O’Reilly at the time and have said there was no way O’Reilly could have been there that day. On Thursday, the media watchdog site published a report in which they interviewed three more former colleagues who disputed O’Reilly’s story.
One of the men Media Matters interviewed, Hugh Aynesworth, a former Newsweek bureau chief, vehemently denied that O’Reilly was anywhere near the scene at the time of de Mohrenschildt’s suicide.
Hugh Aynesworth, a former bureau chief for Newsweek and the Washington Times, strongly refuted O’Reilly’s JFK claim. The Dallas Observer reported on February 26 that the de Mohrenschildt suicide scoop came from the Dallas newspaper “where Aynesworth was working. It was his story, he says. He did go to Palm Beach, and he says now there was nobody around the news scene that day named Bill O’Reilly.” Aynesworth, a “JFK assassination expert,” says he was on the scene “within hours” of the suicide, adding, “I didn’t see him [O’Reilly] there. I was at the police department or that house for hours, and he just was not there.”
Another allegation that popped up this week surrounds O’Reilly’s assertions that he had seen nuns gunned down in El Salvador during his days as a CBS correspondent. However, O’Reilly didn’t make it to El Salvador until 1981. The incident when three nuns and an American worker were raped and killed by the Salvadoran national guard happened in 1980. O’Reilly has since tried to explain the discrepancy by saying he saw pictures of the shot nuns when he arrived in El Salvador and that he never meant he physically saw them being shot. Of course, that is beyond silly on it face, especially because he said on at least one occasion that he’s “seen guys gun down nuns in El Salvador.”
What started with an article in Mother Jones last week regarding O’Reilly’s embellishments on his Falklands War reporting has now snowballed into numerous accusations of exaggerations and lies over a period of years. In response, O’Reilly and Fox News have basically used the ‘vast left-wing conspiracy’ excuse to blanket O’Reilly from accusations, which will likely work with his rabidly far-right base of viewers and keep O’Reilly safely on the air. However, the one thing O’Reilly has always craved, beyond fame and notoriety, is credibility and acceptance from the news journalism crowd he supposedly despises for their partisan agendas. That acceptance and credibility isn’t coming anytime soon, my friend.