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Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Daily Drift

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President Obama And Bill Clinton Put Republicans To Shame With Twitter Takeover

Bill Clinton Barack Obama
President Obama and former President Bill Clinton got more attention than the Republican presidential candidates combined with a good-natured exchange on Twitter.
President Obama delivered his first tweet from his personal Twitter account:
Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.
The President’s first tweet led to this exchange between former President Clinton and Obama:
While Jeb Bush is running around the country try to convince people that Obamacare can be replaced with an Apple Watch, Obama and Clinton were owning Twitter.
Welcome to @Twitter, @POTUS! One question: Does that username stay with the office?
Good question, @billclinton. The handle comes with the house. Know anyone interested in @FLOTUS?
While Jeb Bush is running around the country try to convince people that Obamacare can be replaced with an Apple Watch, Obama and Clinton were owning Twitter.
Republicans don’t have a single person in their party that has as much star power as Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Democrats have the top four biggest headline getters in either party. The Obama/Clinton Twitter exchange highlights a major problem for the Republican Party. None of the GOP’s presidential candidates has an ounce of charisma.
The cookie cutter Republicans are all dull, and there isn’t a single one of them who won’t get blown off of the debate stage when they stand next to Hillary Clinton. Jeb Bush is about as exciting as cold and unflavored oatmeal, and he is the Republican Party’s great white establishment hope for 2016.
Scott Walker is a walking gaffe machine who is in way over his head. Rand Paul can’t decide whether he is an establishment Republican or Ron Paul’s crazy kid. Marco Rubio looks like a great candidate until he talks, and the rest of the field is made up of a motley crew of has-beens and never-wases that will never be elected president.
President Obama and former President Clinton put Republicans to shame because they perfectly demonstrated what real charisma can do in 140 characters or less. The media has looked at all sorts of angles as the 2016 candidates announce, but the one point they overlook is that the Republican candidates aren’t very likable.
A couple of tweets from two of the biggest heavyweights in the party showed why Democrats are in a good position to keep the White House in 2016.

Bernie Sanders Rejects Negative Campaigning, Says He Likes Hillary Clinton

Sanders' positive campaign is refreshing, and he is avoiding the strategic errors committed by the Ralph Nader 2000 insurgent campaign.…

Democrats Call For A Federal Criminal Investigation Into Scott Walker’s Jobs Agency

Scott Walker’s troubles are growing as Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin are calling for a federal criminal investigation into the governor’s jobs agency.
Scott WalkerDemocratic lawmakers Monday called for a federal criminal investigation of Gov. Scott Walker’s jobs agency, which is facing a tough audit and a separate report that the Wisconsin governor’s top aides pressed for a now delinquent $500,000 loan from taxpayers to a failed Milwaukee construction company.
Two Democratic lawmakers on the board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation called for a review Monday of the unsecured loan WEDC made to Building Committee Inc. The loan was made in 2011 as the company was collapsing, according to a news report.
The loan created no jobs and has led to a lawsuit by WEDC to recover its money from Building Committee, which is headed by a donor who made the maximum $10,000 donations to the campaigns of both Walker and former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
There has been a strong whiff of scandal surrounding Walker that the national media has ignored. The John Doe investigation has been a dark cloud hanging over Scott Walker for years. Walker has lawyered up and seen his closest aides turn on him over the last few years. Last year, it appeared that Walker was under investigation. Much like the current scandal at the Wisconsin jobs agency, Walker remains dogged by the investigation into if he provided special favors to wingnut billionaires who donated secret millions of dollars to his political efforts.
Scott Walker is a national scandal that is waiting to happen. The Democratic calls for a federal criminal investigation into Walker’s jobs agency fit into his administration’s pattern of behavior. Unlike Rick Perry, Scott Walker isn’t under indictment yet, but more like Chris Christie, the evidence of corrupt abuses of power are beginning to pile up.
Instead of dreaming of the White House, Walker should consider himself lucky if he avoids the Big House.
There’s something rotten in Wisconsin, and the evidence points to Scott Walker at the heart of the problem.

President Obama Lowers The Boom On Republicans By Threatening To Veto Anti-Science Bill

President Obama issued a veto threat to yet another Republican attempt to starve and deny science and science-based programs.
If put on his desk as is, the President will veto science-slayer Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)’s bill, H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, in part because it “would set an extremely harmful precedent of political interference in the scientific integrity of the regulation process”.
The Republican bill takes partisan aim at things like climate change research at the 
Department of Energy, so the reality based community would prefer it if Republicans like Congressman Smith kept his nose out of things he doesn’t understand or respect.
From the White House:
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, which would undermine critical investments in science, technology, and research.  The Administration believes that H.R. 1806 would be damaging to the Administration’s actions to move American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth forward through a world-leading science, technology, and innovation enterprise.
The Administration strongly opposes the bill’s appropriation authorizations for the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that would establish maximum funding levels significantly below those provided in the President’s FY 2016 Budget.  For example, H.R. 1806 would weaken investments in critical clean energy research and development and grid modernization by providing authorization levels at less than half of the funding levels proposed in the President’s Budget for DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.  Additionally, the legislation would shortchange efforts to support fundamental research to address diverse and critical global challenges by providing an authorization level for the DOE Office of Science biological and environmental research program far short of the funding levels proposed in the President’s Budget.  The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 would also establish NSF authorizations levels for geosciences, education and human resources, international and integrative activities, and administrative activities well below the funding levels proposed in the President’s Budget, as well as an NSF authorization for social, behavioral, and economic sciences research that is 58 percent below the President’s Budget.  Additionally, the legislation would undermine efforts to implement sound science and technology policies by providing an authorization level for OSTP nearly 20 percent below the President’s Budget.
In addition to its strong opposition to the authorized funding levels in H.R. 1806, the Administration has serious concerns with several other provisions in the bill and looks forward to working with the Congress to address its concerns.  For example, the Administration opposes barring Federal regulatory authorities from relying on the results of certain Federally-supported research and development.  This provision would set an extremely harmful precedent of political interference in the scientific integrity of the regulation process, which would undermine the value of the Federal research and development enterprise as a whole.  The Administration also objects to the increased administrative burdens that the bill imposes on NSF and its awardees without commensurate benefit.  In addition, the Administration opposes reducing oversight at the DOE National Laboratories, which would increase the exposure of the Federal Government to risk and liabilities while also conflicting with the execution of the DOE mission.
H.R. 1806 undermines key investments in science, technology, and innovation and imposes unnecessary and damaging requirements on Federal support of research.  If the President were presented with H.R. 1806, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Introduced on April 15, the Republican authorization of appropriations bill claims to “provide for technological innovation through the prioritization of Federal investment in basic research, fundamental scientific discovery, and development to improve the competitiveness of the United States, and for other purposes.”
Or, as Jeffrey Mervis and Adrian Cho of Science Magazine explained when Smith first introduced his bill:
Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) has never hidden his desire to reshape federal research policy—
often over the objections of much of the scientific 
community—since he became chair of the House of Representatives science committee 2 years ago. Last week, he introduced legislation that lays out those plans in unprecedented detail, and the reaction was predictable. Although academic leaders say that some parts of the new, 189-page bill are better than previous versions, they believe it would seriously damage the U.S. research enterprise.
The bill not only sets out funding levels for several research agencies that in some cases depart sharply from those the Obama administration requested for 2016; it would also reshape key policies and priorities guiding those agencies.
Republicans are trying to kill science any way they can. On one hand they are busy denying science as a thing, favoring the childish notion of equating the opinion of financially invested parties with the opinion of experts and on the other, they are killing through defunding. Or, as they call it when running for office, “sustaining” a program by not outright murdering it, which would be bad press.
Republicans prefer to starve programs instead, so that when the program stops working due to lack of funds, Republicans can use that dysfunction to validate their ideology that government is unnecessary. This, of course, is a big win for big business, but a big loss for science and other reality based programs.
Luckily, President Obama is in the White House and can put a stop to this anti-science Republican nonsense.

New Study Finds That Fox News Is Brainwashing Viewers And Hurting The Republican Party

A new study has found that Fox News is hurting the Republican Party by brainwashing millions of angry wingnuts with misinformation.
In a new study of the Fox News effect by Bruce Bartlett, research was collected that demonstrated the negative impact of Fox News on media and politics.
Bartlett described what the founding of Fox News first meant to wingnuts, and how it shifted into an act of self-brain washing, “Like someone dying of thirst in the desert, wingnuts drank heavily from the Fox waters. Soon, it became the dominant -and in many cases, virtually the only – major news source for millions of Americans. This has had profound political implications that are only starting to be appreciated. Indeed, it can almost be called self-brainwashing – many wingnuts now refuse to even listen to any news or opinion not vetted through Fox, and to believe whatever appears on it as the gospel truth.”
Mr. Bartlett documented Fox News’ extreme rightward shift after 9/11 and how the network went from tilting wingnut to flat out misinformation and propaganda. The study also sums of years of research that points to Fox News viewers as being the least informed media consumers.
The dominance of Fox News has led to some extremely negative consequences that are harming the Republican Party:
Although this arrangement unquestionably aids Republicans in winning elections and votes in Congress, it is not without its downsides. One is that Fox now exercises such powerful control over the GOP that it has become the party’s kingmaker in presidential primaries.56 Indeed, during the 2012 election cycle, a number of aspirants for the Republican nomination had been paid Fox commentators, including Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. And woe to the Republican who runs afoul of Fox’s top brass or ignores their advice, as Mitt Romney did on one occasion in 2012. Fox is now so important in GOP primaries that candidates must put aside pressing campaign concerns when summoned to a Fox interview, where any error is magnified within the Republican bubble.
Another problem is that Republican voters get so much of their news from Fox, which cheerleads whatever their candidates are doing or saying, that they suffer from wishful thinking and fail to see that they may not be doing as well as they imagine, or that their ideas are not connecting
outside the narrow party base.
Bartlett’s conclusion is that the same attributes that make Fox a strong cable network are harming the Republican Party.
There is little doubt that the Republican Party is influenced by two interests. The corporations and wingnut billionaires who fund their campaigns and Fox News. A Republican candidate can be made or broken by Fox News, but the network also pushes Republicans to an unelectable wingnut position in presidential elections.
Viewers have been brainwashed by a combination of misinformation and constant confirmation of their own biases. Fox News doesn’t “report” reality. The result is that millions of Fox News Republicans expect their candidates to carry out what they see on television, which has led to a party of non-reality based voters supporting delusional candidates.
The impact is felt on a broken legislative process where for one party there is no middle and opposing the President at all costs has become a path to political victory.
The conclusion is unmistakable. Fox News has not only broken journalism. The wingnut 'news' network is also destroying the Republican Party.

Republicans Scheme To Pay For TPP Deal By Stealing From Medicare

GOPers Scheme To Pay For TPP Deal By Stealing From Medicare
The linkage with the assistance program adds a whole new layer of political connivance.

Democrat Busts Republican Scheme to Screw With Medicare To Benefit Corporations

During a Health Subcommittee Hearing on Competition in Medicare, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) busted Republicans for trying to eliminate competition in a Medicare program to raise prices on consumers to benefit corporations.
During his opening statement for a Health Subcommittee Hearing on Competition in Medicare, Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee Jim McDermott (D-WA) called out the fallacy of the hearing and of modern Republicans’ ideas about “competition”, charging that they are actually going to put a halt to the existing program for competitive bidding for medical equipment, reduce competition, and increase costs for Medicare and beneficiaries.
From Congressman McDermott’s prepared remarks, he started off questioning the entire point of the hearing, which is an excellent observation, “We are here today for a hearing about improving competition in Medicare. But I can’t help but wonder what this hearing is really trying to accomplish.Because if this hearing were about competition, we would be looking carefully at how to drive down prices and get a handle on healthcare costs. This would mean reducing waste and overpayments to industries that are profiting at the expense of the American public.”
This, by the way, is exactly what the Obama administration has done — reduce waste and overpayments, going after fraud.
From 2012:
… (T)he Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) released an updated annual report showing that, for the second year in a row, anti-fraud efforts have recovered more than $4.1 billion in fraudulent Medicare payments. Compare this to just $2.14 billion recovered in FY 2008. Prosecutions are way up too: the number of individuals charged with fraud increased from 821 in fiscal year 2008 to 1,430 in fiscal year 2011 – nearly a 75 percent increase.
But naturally, since these are Republican proposals, they aren’t actually going to do what their title suggests they do. Rep. McDermott said, “Unfortunately, the proposals that we will hear this morning won’t control costs. Instead, they are designed to appease the very interests that benefit from waste in the system and contribute to higher healthcare spending. We are going to discuss ways to revise Medicare’s competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment. Specifically, we will hear about a proposal that would put a halt to the existing program, reduce competition, and ultimately increase costs for Medicare and beneficiaries This is ironic, because I remember when it was Republicans who were champions of competitive bidding. It was a Republican Congress that first introduced the concept to Medicare as a demonstration project in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. And it was a Republican Congress that expanded the program in 2003 as part of the prescription drug legislation.”
Republicans have disguised a piece of legislation as cost controlling but what it really does is increase costs by providing a benefit to big business. What Republicans mean when they talk about regulations harming the economy is that regulations that help ordinary people are lowering corporate profits.
The idea isn’t to control costs to costs for beneficiaries; it is to increase profits for corporations by allowing them to price gouge on equipment. Those increased prices are passed on to consumers.
Republicans are opposing competition and the free market. That is what the Republican Party really stands for.

Hillary Clinton Attacks A Republican Achilles Heel By Calling Out Their Fake Concerns For Small Business

Hillary Clinton
“Republicans in Congress insist on using this issue to give relief to community banks as a Trojan Horse for rolling back protections for consumers and rolling back the rules for the biggest banks,” 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday at an event in Iowa.
Clinton has angered the press corp by basically ignoring them. They spend a lot of time complaining that she won’t answer questions from them and griping about the way she is running her campaign, because she is focusing on small groups and even individuals, instead of big campaign events.
Tuesday, for example, Clinton had a discussion with small business and lending communities in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She advocated for something that sounded distinctly Senator Warren-ish, saying that the regulations needed for big, too-big-to-fail banks should not apply to small, community banks with deep local ties that are being squeezed by regulations meant for Wall Street banks.
“We should not apply the same restrictions on community banks as those needed to regulate our big banks,” Clinton said. She continued to call out the way that Republicans use “concern” for small businesses to justify giveaways for big business, which actually harms small business.
“It’s not the big banks that need relief from Washington, it’s small banks and small businesses. We should be doing more to rein in risky behavior in Wall Street and too-big-to-fail banks, not less. I fully support the regulations from Dodd-Frank on the big banks, but we should pass common sense community banking reform right now. However Republicans in Congress insist on using this issue to give relief to community banks as a Trojan Horse for rolling back protections for consumers and rolling back the rules for the biggest banks… We should call this what it is, a cynical attempt to help those at the top.”
During these micro events, Secretary Clinton is able to discuss the issues that the press hasn’t been very interested in yet — issues of wage equality, actual small businesses as opposed to pretend small businesses, and good paying jobs. Things that really matter to the average American, instead of chasing the latest scandal and playing personality politics. But the press has focused more attention on the already debunked claims of a disgraced Republican agitator author and the resulting questions of that author’s conspiracies than the issues that actually impact American voters.
Every candidate should answer questions from the press, which Clinton did today, but the press should accept responsibility for amplifying every conspiracy artist the Republican machine cranks out against Clinton before they even vet their claims. Accountability is a two way street. This is particularly annoying when it results in harming democracy, the very thing reporters are claiming is being harmed by Clinton not engaging with them. Democracy is for the people, to discuss the people’s issues, not to elevate Beltway drama and gossip.
The real question here is why won’t our press get as invested in actual issues. Clinton handed them a great story today, by busting the way Republicans use small business rhetoric to hurt small businesses while they deregulate and subsidize too-big-to-fail.
Or maybe I just think it’s a great story because it has bothered me for years and I’ve wondered why no politician has made it an issue. Clinton made it an issue today — but the press responded by commenting on her treatment of them and asking about the money she made from speaking events, as if earning money means that her actual policy positions don’t matter.
It’s not that their questions shouldn’t be asked and answered, it’s that the people’s questions deserve some air time as well. And the press is supposed to be asking questions for the people. The people do not give a crap about much right now, except why they are working so hard but getting screwed again and again while Republicans hand their tax money to big businesses who aren’t even paying taxes.

Hillary Clinton Clearly Says What No Republican Will: Iraq Was a Mistake

Sec Hilary Rodham Clinton, Iowa
Some people can admit they were wrong. 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at a bicycle shop in Cedar Falls, Iowa Tuesday, responded to questions from reporters about Iraq.
Unlike the Republican candidates who are falling over themselves to avoid saying that Bush got it wrong, that it was a mistake, Secretary Clinton came out of the gate charging with accountability for her past vote as a Senator to authorize the war in Iraq in 2003, one that upset the liberal end of the Democratic Party still burning with rage over the invasion of Iraq based on a lie.
“I know that there have been a lot of questions about Iraq posted to candidates over the last week. I’ve made it very clear that I made a mistake, plain and simple,” the Democratic former Secretary of State said.
Clinton added, “And I have written about it in my book, I’ve talked about it in the past, and what we now see is a very different and very dangerous situation. The United States is doing what it can, but ultimately this has to be a struggle that the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people are determined to win for themselves.”
It’s not hard to admit a mistake. It means that you’re human. In this case, as it relates to foreign policy, Democrats see it as a dynamic, ever-changing situation that must constantly be adapted to as new information comes in, whereas Republicans believe that once they take a position, they will stake that position out in spite of changing evidence, information, and factors. Republicans see foreign policy as static. They freeze in WAR and never look back.
Hillary Clinton admits that the vote she took on Iraq was a mistake. Too bad the people who presented false information to her and other Senators in order to push them into voting the way they did have yet to say they are sorry, or even admit they were wrong. Of course they can’t really do that, because they weren’t “wrong”, they were deliberately cherry picking information in order to get Congress to authorize the war.
Hillary Clinton in 2015 is an improved candidate from 2012. She is confident enough to say she was wrong about Iraq. Her confidence is well warranted, as she has the most foreign policy experience of any 2016 hopeful. Being able to clearly own a mistake is something that helps voters feel they can trust a candidate. Clinton isn’t trying to walk any fine line, she’s giving it straight, as the voters deserve.

Lindsey Graham Blames President Obama For The Mess That He Helped Cause In Iraq

lindsey_grahamSouth Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham insisted on Monday that the Iraq War was not a mistake. Appearing on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, Graham defended the Iraq War. The South Carolina Senator offered vague and tepid criticism of how the war was carried out, but he stood firm in arguing that ousting Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do to stabilize the region.
Not only did Graham defend President Bush, but he also spun history on its head by saying that Barack Obama was to blame for the mess in Iraq. Senator Graham stated:
At the end of the day, I blame President Obama for the mess in Iraq and Syria, not President Bush.
The hawkish Senator then told Wolf Blitzer, that if he is elected President, he will send more troops back into Iraq, more than tripling the number of troops there from 3,000 to 10,000. In rhetoric that resembled Bush’s language leading up to the initial invasion of Iraq, Graham argued that more troops are needed in Iraq to prevent a terrorist attack on American soil. Graham told Blitzer:
It will take us thousands of American soldiers over there to protect millions of us back here at home.
While many of the other Republican presidential hopefuls are working to disassociate themselves from the Iraq War disaster, Senator Graham is tying his presidential aspirations to that failed policy. The South Carolina Senator fully embraces the worldview of Dick Cheney and other neo-conservative architects of the Iraq War.
In Graham’s myopic view, military force is almost always the answer to any international question. He has little interest in diplomacy. Instead, he relishes the opportunity to project American military power across the globe, in some sort of real-life, high stakes game of Risk. Graham refuses to acknowledge that the Iraq War was a mistake. He is eager to repeat that mistake, in the unlikely event he ever becomes president.

Kansas’ Governor Destroyed The State Budget With Massive Tax Cuts And Now Kansans Are Paying The Price

With a giant deficit looming, Kansas is spending $43,000 per day so that lawmakers can keep disagreeing about whether or not the state's tax cuts are working.

Obama Announces Ban on Sale of Military-Style Equipment to Police Departments


Even Barack Obama More Popular Than Bobby Jindal In Louisiana

Even Barack Obama More Popular Than Bobby Jindal In Louisiana
That explains why he wants to be President!
Even Barack Obama More Popular Than Bobby Jindal In Louisiana

Michigan pastor who railed against same-sex marriage resigns after being caught seeking men on Grindr

A religious leader warns his flock (Shutterstock)
In light of revelations that he solicited companionship with men on Grindr, the popular hookup app, Reverend Matthew Makela has resigned as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran cult and school in Midland, Michigan.

Wingnuts think Susan Sarandon blamed Reagan for homelessness — now they’re sputtering in rage

Actress and outspoken liberal Susan Sarandon (Shutterstock)
Wingnuts think Susan Sarandon blamed Reagan for homelessness — now they’re sputtering in rage
OK, so, 'Think' is a relative term when dealing with wingnuts, but you get the idea.

Lifelong Republican Turns On His Party, Embraces Obamacare

"I'm in the situation I'm in because they chose not to expand Medicaid for political reasons."

Undocumented Parents Could Have Applied For Immigration Relief By Now, If Not For Republican Lawsuit

"After the lawsuit, my mother got very sad," one undocumented immigrant said. "It hurts me to see her cry."

Texas Governor Signs Bill That Makes Local Fracking Bans Illegal

When cities in Texas decided they didn't want fracking in their communities state lawmakers decided it wasn't up to them.

4 Sacred Native American Sites In Danger Of Being Destroyed By Corporations

Osage Mounds