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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Obama May Have Inadvertently Announced The Death Of The Republican Party

Obama May Have Inadvertently Announced The Death Of The Republican Party (VIDEO)You cannot fight against one of the fastest growing industries in the nation and claim to be a job creator at the same time.

Working Parents Should Be Very Happy About This Obscure Senate Vote

Parents Working

Statistician Identified Voting Irregularity In Kansas

Image CC by Donkey Hotey One of the often cited concerns of electronic voting is the lack of hard record. Indeed, Black Box Voting has been reporting on this concern now for over...


Obama Tells Republican Warmongers What They Don’t Want To Hear: Diplomacy Works

obama weekly address iran deal
President Obama delivered the message that Republicans least want to hear. Diplomacy can be difficult and time-consuming, but unlike the neocon war first ideology, it works.
The President said,
This week, together with our allies and partners, we reached an historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon and make our country, our allies, and our world safer.

This framework is the result of tough, principled diplomacy. It’s a good deal—a deal that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.

This deal denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb. It shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon. Moreover, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it. So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

And this is a long-term deal, with strict limits on Iran’s program for more than a decade and unprecedented transparency measures that will last for 20 years or more. And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.
In return for Iran’s actions, the international community, including the United States, has agreed to provide Iran with phased relief from certain sanctions. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place. Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, all will continue to be enforced.
As I said this week, many key details will need to be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed. And if there is backsliding, there will be no deal.
Here in the United States, I expect a robust debate. We’ll keep Congress and the American people fully briefed on the substance of the deal. As we engage in this debate, let’s remember—we really only have three options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program: bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities—which will only set its program back a few years—while starting another war in the Middle East; abandoning negotiations and hoping for the best with sanctions—even though that’s always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program; or a robust and verifiable deal like this one that peacefully prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
As President and Commander in Chief, I firmly believe that the diplomatic option—a comprehensive, long-term deal like this—is by far the best option. For the United States. For our allies. And for the world.

Our work—this deal—is not yet done. Diplomacy is painstaking work. Success is not guaranteed. But today we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us. And this will be our work in the days and months ahead in keeping with the best traditions of American leadership.
The reason it is difficult to believe the Republicans that all they are seeking is a “better deal” is because they have gone out of their way to sabotage the entire diplomatic process. Republicans haven’t been urging the President to take a different course in the negotiations.
Republicans have spent their time vowing to destroy any diplomatic efforts. The reality is that sanctions and military threats alone have not worked. Sanctions brought the Iranians to the negotiating table, but they are not an adequate resolution to issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.
George W. Bush’s tough talk and sanctions strategy were an absolute disaster, but Republicans never learn. President Obama is correct the door is open for a peaceful resolution. Republicans are hiding their agenda behind a game of deal or no deal when what is at stake is war and peace.

Republicans Offer No Plan To Deal With Iran Other Than Spouting Saber-Rattling Rhetoric

bush cruz walker
While the framework for a nuclear deal reached with Iran in Switzerland on Thursday, remains a work in progress, it has become clear that the Republican Party is adamantly opposed to practicing international diplomacy. The agreement that was reached on Thursday was far better than any of Obama’s critics, or for that matter his supporters, anticipated. However, that didn’t stop Republicans from blasting the agreement anyway.
Wisconsin Governor turned presidential hopeful Scott Walker, for example, was quick to announce that if he is elected President, he will back out of the deal, regardless of how America’s allies feel. When radio show host Charlie Sykes asked Walker if he would cancel he Iran deal, even if it meant our trading partners were unwilling to reimpose sanctions On Iran, Walker towed the GOP anti-Obama party line. He basically argued, yes, let the consequences be damned, I would renege on the agreement.
Absolutely. If I ultimately choose to run, and if I’m honored to be elected by the people of this country, I will pull back on that on January 20, 2017, because the last thing — not just for the region but for this world — we need is a nuclear-armed Iran.
Walker asserts that the first thing he plans to do, if elected President, is to back out of a multilateral agreement with Iran. Ironically, he argues that this is because he opposes a nuclear-armed Iran. However, the very deal he would back out of, is one that all but guarantees Iran will be unable to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium for at least a decade. One wonders if he even understands the deal he opposes.
Predictably, several other GOP Presidential hopefuls also jumped on the anti-Obama, “blow up the deal” bandwagon. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Texas Governor Rick Perry all, like Walker, panned the nuclear agreement with Iran.
While it is no surprise that Republicans have made it an article of faith to oppose anything and everything President Obama does, nowhere are the consequences of that tactic more reckless than in the realm of foreign policy. The Republicans offer no alternative policy for dealing with Iran other than empty saber-rattling rhetoric. Or if the saber-rattling rhetoric is not hollow, their policy is even worse, as it could precipitate an international crisis or force the U.S. into war.
Partisan politics are a normal part of life in a nation that holds regular elections. However, Republican politicians who are willing to compromise important international agreements to score cheap political points have no business running for President. Unless the GOP can offer a rational alternative for how to deal with Iran, none of their candidates should even be considered for the office of President of the United States.

Lindsey Graham Demands That Barack Obama Stop Being President

On CBS’s Face The Nation, Lindsey Graham demanded that President Obama stop acting like the president and save the negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program for the next person who occupies the White House in 2017.
Graham (R-SC) said:
graham-ftnWhat I would suggest is if you can’t get there with this deal is to keep the interim deal in place, allow a new president in 2017, Democrat or Republican, take a crack at the Iranian nuclear program. Obama is a flawed negotiator. His foreign policy has failed on multiple fronts.
Nobody in the region trusts him. The Iranians do not fear, respect him, so he’ll never be able to get the best deal. The best deal will come with a new president. Hillary Clinton would do better. I think everybody on our side, with the exception of Rand Paul, could do better, so that’s one way of looking at this program.
What Lindsey Graham was demanding was that President Obama stop being president. Graham’s argument about not making any big new commitments might have some merit if this was the fall of 2016, but the country is nineteen months away from the next presidential election. Sen. Graham is suggesting that the Obama presidency should end roughly halfway through the president’s second term.
It is ironic that Graham would mention Iran not respecting President Obama, when he was one of the 47 Republican senators who tried to sabotage the president by sending a letter directly to the Iranian government. The problem isn’t that Iran doesn’t respect President Obama.
The center of presidential disrespect is the Republican Party. Sen. Graham is sure to be disappointed because President Obama isn’t going to voluntarily decide to surrender his executive powers and keep the seat warm for the next president. Graham’s comments were some of the dumbest and most blatantly disrespectful remarks towards the president that one can imagine.
The bottom line is that there is about as much of a chance of Obama surrendering his presidential powers as Graham has of ever being elected president.

Bob Corker: Without Congress, Iran Deal Would Be Worse

From the "Talk about living in a delusional bubble world" Department:
Bob Corker: Without Congress, Iran Deal Would Be Worse
Never mind that members of Congress have been trying to sabotage this nuclear deal with Iran from day one, Sen. Bob Corker now wants us to believe that he and his cohorts were actually being helpful.

The American bin Laden

26.7 Percent Of N.C. Children Starving; Republican Wants To Restrict Abortions, Create ‘More Little Taxpayers'

According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for women in the United States. Currently in the State of North Carolina, there is a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can opt to have the procedure. Republican, Pat McElrath, has introduced a bill that would extend that waiting period to 72 hours.  Additionally, she would like to ensure that no other medical professional except a gynecologist be able to perform the procedure.
She says that tax payers have made it “loud and clear” that they don’t want state funds being used for abortion in any way, including medical training at state universities. WRAL reports:
UNC Hospitals and the School of Medicine do not use any state funds to perform pregnancy termination or abortion procedures, according to Jennifer James, a spokeswoman for the university-run health care system.
McElrath explained that the bill was not to hinder women from being able to obtain contraception and abortions, but rather that they receive “competent” care. She elaborates further on her reasoning for blocking the education piece by saying:
There are opportunities for doctors to learn this. Abortion physicians learn from all kinds of training – spontaneous abortions or miscarriages. Sometimes, you learn how to act in an emergency situation. There are other options.
Jennifer James explains that medical students are required to have access to firsthand experience with induced abortions in order for them to satisfy their residency education, acknowledging that this is the only way they can be prepared for the management of complications, however infrequent they might be.

What Representative McElrath doesn’t discuss is:

  • North Carolina is ranked in the top 10 states of citizens experiencing food shortages.
  • More than 1 in 4 (26.7 percent) children in the state of North Carolina are lacking food on a regular basis.
  • SNAP (a federal program) pays approximately $146 per person per month for North Carolina residents.
  • 81 percent of North Carolina households receiving food assistance have no idea where their next meal is coming from.
  • 61 percent have been forced to choose between food or housing.
  • 75 percent have had to choose between food or heating.
  • 73 percent have had to choose between food or healthcare.
Not surprisingly, North Carolinans signed up for “Obamacare,” affordable health insurance, at a rate that “beat nearly every other red state.” But of course, their elected officials — that they elect — don’t support it.
As of November 1, 2014, health plans that are offered in North Carolina’s State Health Exchange under the Affordable Care Act, as well as policies for public employees and any public funding of abortions, are only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
It’s unclear how this bill will benefit the people of North Carolina, especially since the State House Speaker has said that he and other state leaders feel their focus should be on jobs and developing the economy.
McElraft’s response:
We are multi-taskers here in the General Assembly. I am absolutely an advocate for jobs, but we can do lots of the things. And actually, when we can have a few more little taxpayers born, why not?

How "Legal to Discriminate" Became "Freedom and Liberty"

What reverberates in our skulls is the obvious disconnect between reality and this tired wingnut storyline. A bully calling his victim a bully is hard to digest.

Matthew Dowd Is Very Mad About The 'Culture Wars' Polarizing Americans

Matthew Dowd Is Very Sad About The 'Culture Wars' Polarizing Americans
Former shrub-Cheney campaign agitator Matthew Dowd is terribly upset about these divisive "culture wars" we're having now that his side is losing them.

If Faux News Was Honest

Fox Hacks Lie About Minimum Wage Hike Closing Businesses

Fox Pundits Lie About Minimum Wage Hike Closing BusinessesYet another show on Fox "news" spreads lies and fear-mongers about the minimum wage hike in Seattle.

Arkansas woman fired for telling a reporter she was glad of minimum wage increase

An Arkansas woman says she was fired because she was quoted in the Washington Post saying she was excited about her state's minimum wage going up by 25 cents an hour because she'd be able to afford diapers for her grandson. Tippen had worked in the Days Inn and Suites in Pine Bluff.Tippen says she was fired by her boss, hotel manager Herry Patel. Earlier that day, Patel had called the Post to express frustration that he had been quoted giving his opinion about the minimum wage hike. (He objected to it.)
It was soon after, Tippen says, that Patel found her in the lobby and fired her.
"He said I was stupid and dumb for talking to [the Post]," Tippen said. "He cussed me and asked me why you wrote the article. I said, 'Because he's a reporter; that's what he does.' He said, 'it was wrong for me to talk to you.'"
In the original article, Patel was quoted saying "Everybody wants free money in Pine Bluff." This from an employer who pays all his housekeepers and front desk staff minimum wage. "Free money." An extra 25 cents an hour for the people doing the work of keeping your business running, including the injury-prone job of hotel housekeeper.
And the kicker? Reporter Chico Harlan notes that, before Patel fired Tippen for talking to him and being quoted in the Post, Patel had introduced Harlan to Tippen as a person to talk to for his story.
Tippen is still looking for work

Kansas to ban welfare recipients from using benefits to pay for cruises, spas, lingerie, psychics

From the "OK, like this is a REAL problem" Department:
Woman on a cruise - Shutterstock
According to the Kansas “Successful Families Program“, an eligible family of four in a “high cost/high population” area would be eligible for $497 in cash assistance per month in addition to receiving food stamps.
How many families of four receiving the maximum  $497 could take a cruise for $497?
A trip to the Spa - maybe the woman once a year with the $497 'extra' - doubtful but no problem.
No lingerie? Do you mean the cotton kind or the silk kind - be specific.
Visit a Psychic? Well, you need not be a Psychic to see that isn't going to happen - not with that bad transmission in the clunker they call the family car.

Missouri Republican’s Plan To Deny Seafood For Food Stamp Users Smells Fishy

Rep. Rick Brattin
A bill proposed by Missouri Republican Rick Brattin (R-55) to prohibit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients from using their benefits to purchase seafood is part of a longstanding effort by conservative politicians to stigmatize the poor. Brattin’s proposed Missouri House Bill 813, would prohibit SNAP beneficiaries from using their EBT card to purchase “cookies, chips, energy drinks, soft drinks, seafood, or steak”.
While it may be understandable that lawmakers might want to ban taxpayer dollars being spent on food that has no nutritional value like soda, energy drinks, and cookies, the justification for banning seafood is far more dubious. Furthermore, the rationale for banning specific types of food is based more in right-wing mythology about the poor people eating lavishly off of SNAP (more commonly referred to by critics as “food stamps”) benefits than it is based on any objective reality.
The reality is that, on average,  SNAP recipients actually make healthier grocery decisions than most American with higher incomes. This, however, has not stopped Republicans from making outlandish claims about spotting EBT card users making lavish purchases in the checkout aisle.
Perhaps taking his cues from the many such apocryphal stories online, Brattin claims:
I have seen people purchasing filet mignons and crab legs with their EBT cards. When I can’t afford it on my pay, I don’t want people on the taxpayer’s dime to afford those kinds of foods either.
Apparently, unlike most shoppers, the eagle-eyed State Representative is more concerned about what the person in front of him is purchasing, rather than what he is putting in his own shopping cart.
He also seems to argue that SNAP recipients can eat better than he does. That claim, of course, is ludicrous, given that an individual single adult without children to feed can qualify for up to 194 dollars a month in SNAP benefits. Brattin, on the other hand, earns a state legislative salary of 35, 915 dollars annually. With 3,000 dollars a month in pay and another 103.20 in daily per diem allowance, Brattin can certainly afford seafood and steak more readily than any EBT recipient. This is the case, even if we don’t factor in his non-legislative income from his family’s construction business.
Brattin’s proposal, like so many other GOP proposals that target the poor, has nothing to do with saving taxpayer money or getting low-income people to eat more healthily. Instead, the proposal is part of the GOP’s effort to stigmatize the poor as people who make bad choices and who cheat the system to live “high on the hog”. Brattin’s stories have little basis in reality. However, that hardly matters.
As long as Brattin can get voters to continue to focus on the imaginary injustice of poor people ripping off taxpayers to enjoy lobster dinners, he can continue to support policies that enrich the already wealthy at the expense of the middle class. When middle-class voters spend their time peering into the shopping carts of the poor, they will overlook the policies being enacted that are continually feeding the gluttony of the extremely wealthy, at the expense of everyone else.

First Detroit, Now Baltimore Is Shutting Off Water To The Poor

detroit water
Usually, when you see someone making a mistake, and if you’re relatively intelligent, you try hard not to replicate that mistake. Because when you see that something doesn’t work or causes unnecessary harm or danger, then the normal reflex is to head in the other direction. Try something else. Try something that works.
Which is why I’m having a rather hard time understanding why it is that the City of Baltimore has apparently made the decision to follow in the footsteps of my adopted hometown Detroit and is shutting off the water in poor peoples’ homes for falling behind on their bills while allowing the larger – and significantly wealthier – corporations and businesses to slide on by. Even though they are the ones most responsible for the related deficit that the city currently finds itself in.
Food and Water Watch researcher Mary Grant explained that making water unavailable to residents is a major health risk, and that if Baltimore were to deprive 25,000 households of water, diseases would have a high chance of propagating throughout densely-populated neighborhoods.
“There is direct risk associated with lack of access to water,” Grant told ThinkProgress. “When you lose your water service, you lose water to wash your hands to flush the toilet, there is risk of disease spreading.”
City officials like Department of Public Works director Rudy Chow claim that residents using water without paying are to blame for the $40 million in overdue water bills. In fact, the Baltimore Sun found more than a third of the unpaid bills stem from just 369 businesses, who owe $15 million in revenue, while government offices and nonprofits have outstanding water bills to the tune of $10 million. One of those businesses, RG Steel (now bankrupt) owes $7 million in delinquent water bills all by itself.
I’m not completely on the side of those who claim that water is a human right and therefore should be free. This populist philosophy applies if you’re drinking water out of a stream, or trapping rainwater, but once you involve the services of a water treatment plant, built and operated by people who need to get paid, then the free water argument pretty much goes out the window. So forget free.
However. And this is a truly large ‘however’.
Fairness and decency do matter in this world. And allowing poor families to go without water because they don’t have sufficient resources to keep up on their bills while turning a blind eye to those who, no doubt, have somebody’s ear in a vice grip at City Hall due to ocean deep pockets, is not exactly what any sane person would characterize as fair. So after all the protests and the negative press that Detroit got last year for shutting off the water to poor people while also letting far wealthier clients off the hook, how is it that Baltimore thinks they can get away with this? Especially when Detroit was forced to change course and do the right thing because the wrong thing didn’t work? From the March 16, 1015 online edition of The Detroit News:
The city’s water department this week plans to step up enforcement of overdue business accounts to collect tens of millions in lost revenue, but it won’t shut off residential water until a proven safety net is in place.
Although there are 26,000 residential accounts with outstanding balances, officials said they will target commercial accounts first.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is seeking compliance from 2,044 delinquent commercial accounts to avoid shut-offs. Those customers owe DWSD about $20 million, said Bill Nowling, spokesman for a new regional water authority set to go into effect in July.
So just do the right thing, Baltimore. Save yourself a few steps

Pentagon: "Darn it, we misplaced $45 billion. Give us more."

A audit of U.S. military spending in Afghanistan "has revealed that a whopping $45 billion is unaccounted for."