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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

296 St. Gaius ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
536 St. Agapitus I ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1500 Pedro Alvarez Cabral discovers Brazil.
1509 Henry VIII ascends to the throne of England upon the death of his father, Henry VII.
1529 Spain and Portugal divide the eastern hemisphere in the Treaty of Saragosa.
1745 The Peace of Fussen is signed.
1792 President George Washington proclaims American neutrality in the war in Europe.
1861 Robert E. Lee is named commander of Virginia forces.
1889 The Oklahoma land rush officially starts at noon as thousands of Americans race for new, unclaimed land.
1898 In the first action of the Spanish-American War, the USS Nashville, takes on a Spanish ship.
1915 At the Second Battle of Ypres, the Germans use poison gas for the first time.
1918 British naval forces attempt to sink block-ships in the German U-boat bases at the Battle of Zeeburgge.
1931 Egypt signs treaty of friendship with Iraq.
1944 Allies launch major attack against the Japanese in Hollandia, New Guinea.
1954 The Senate Army-McCarthy hearings begin. They are broadcast on television.
1955 Congress orders all U.S. coins to bear the motto "In God We Trust."
1976 Barbara Walters becomes the first female nightly news anchor on network television.
1995 In Africa, Rwandan troops kill thousands of Hutu refugees in Kibeho.

Non Sequitur

http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/N.0jv2TFtOgBqcRXH8hTaQ--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTE5NTtweW9mZj0wO3E9NzU7dz02MDA-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ucomics.com/nq140421.gif

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Stealing, Murdering, and Raping Like the Barbarians of Old

The Republican Party has come to embrace stealing, and in its worship of the gun culture and stand your ground laws, murder…
Sack_of_Rome 
Republicans are always complaining about class warfare but since 2001 they have been on what can only be described as an extended plundering expedition on behalf of the rich. Their most recent activities since the Gilded Age may have begun in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they have hardly let up since George W. Bush left office. The only difference now is that while before it was foreign nationals and American taxpayers shared the dangers, today American citizens are their victims, and the annual Ryan Budget has become the crown jewel of this scheme.
The ancient and medieval worlds were plagued by attacks from outside what were considered “civilized” areas, by what were deemed “barbarians.” My ancestors were members of one of these groups, the Norse. The Norse had a concept of what they termed, in Old Norse, the innangarðr (the community) and utangarðr (the lawless wilds). The innangarðr was sacred and enjoyed frith, or peace. Those who violated this peace were outlawed and forced into the utangarðs (where life, in Hobbesian terms, was nasty, brutish, and short) for their sins. In a historical side note, Leif Eriksson was one such outlaw.
But while bands of Norsemen would raid those in the utangarðr, for example, Ireland, France, England, etc., and Norsemen from one locale would raid Norsemen from other locales, they did not plunder their own communities. And don’t get the idea that the so-called civilized lands of Medieval Europe were superior, except in their own minds.
But my point here is, if my ancestors qualify in most history books as barbarians, what does this make the Republicans, who don’t spare a second thought for their own community, who look upon their own people with a rapaciousness once reserved for the utangarðr?
Tacitus wrote admiringly of the Germans in 98 CE that, “This is what they consider the strongest of bonds, the sacredness of the home, the gods of wedded life” (Germania). What is sacred to the heathen mind is the community. The community, the inangarðr is the home of luck. In it, people dwell “in luck, in frith, in honour.” while the wilds, the utangarðr “is waste, the home of evil and unluck.” (Grönbech, 111). The wild is a joyless place, lacking not only the comforts of home, but the necessities of life.
And it has never been more clear that the Republicans want to deprive those of us in their own community of the comforts of home and the necessities of life, right down to the food we eat and the water we drink, and even their air we breathe. Depriving us of medical care seems to be just a bonus for them, a few more profits to squeeze out of the victims of their plundering before consigning them to their deaths. Gated communities will form the new inangarðr in the plutocratic Utopia. The rest of us will slave in a dystopian, distinctly Hobbesian, utangarðr to sustain their shameless lifestyles.
Where is their morality? As James C. Russell defines it, “the standards of ethical conduct among the Germanic peoples appear to have been ultimately derived from a sociobiological drive for group survival through in-group altruism. Ethical misconduct thus consisted primarily in violating the code of honor of one’s kindred or one’s comitatus.” (Russell, 204). But there is no place for altruism in the Republican worldview unless it is that of one rich person for another.
Grönbech illustrates the depth of these differences:
Family tradition constitutes the entire ethical standard. A fixed line of demarcation, separating evil from good, was not known. There was, of course, a broad average, as among all peoples. The Germanic people knew that certain acts, stealing first and foremost, murder, and some few others, brought dishonor upon a man, whoever the culprit might be (Grönbech, 74).
The Republican Party, on the other hand, has come to embrace stealing, and in its worship of the gun culture and stand your ground laws, murder. Where is the morality, you ask? There isn’t any. The Republican Party has done away with the inconvenience of morality. It is not congenial to their profit margins. Their view of economic and social justice is as warped as their view of religion.
It is easy to see why they would oppose the idea of liberal governance. Government, we are taught, is of the People, by the People, for the People, and as such, it is an unhappy barrier between the 1 percent’s desires and its victims. Government restrains. What the Republican Party wants is a government that, rather than regulating corporations, facilities their plundering of the taxpayer. Corporate welfare, obscenity that it is, is only the tip of the iceberg.
If, as studies show, America is fast becoming a second-rate nation, there is a very good reason for that, and one need look no farther than the Republican Party and its rich patrons, who have become the new barbarians at the gate.
The U.S. Constitution is the tenuous barrier between us and them, and it is wearing thin as Republican lawmakers do their utmost to outlaw the Constitution wherever and whenever the opportunity arises. And we have a Supreme Court that, rather than closing the gates, has opened them, letting these new barbarians run rampant through our streets, stealing, raping, and murdering like the raiders of old.
The question is, what can Americans do about these barbarians and what are we willing to do? It was Justice Roberts himself who told Americans that they had two choices: accept plutocracy or revolt. The poor, historically, have a very poor record against the wealthy, with a few exceptions, and our pitchforks are more metaphorical than real these days, but we are not without power even so. The question is, what will we do with it, and will we do it before it’s too late?

President's who give back ...

Obama Calls Out Faux News For Spreading Lies About Equal Pay

obama-equal-pay-paycheck-fairness 
At an event announcing executive action on equal pay today, President Obama called out Fox News for spreading lies about the pay gap.
The president said:
Everybody who cares about this should pay attention to how the Senate votes tomorrow on this Paycheck Fairness Act, because the majority of senators supports this bill, but two years ago a minority of Senate Republicans blocked this from getting a vote.
Even worse, some commentators are out there saying the pay gap doesn’t even exist. They say it’s a myth, but it’s not a myth. It’s math. You can look at the paychecks, look at the stubs. I mean, Lilly Ledbetter didn’t just make this up. The court when it looked at the documents said, yep, yep, you’ve been getting paid less for doing the same job. Just the court then said, as Lilly said, it’s been happening so long you couldn’t do anything about it anymore, which made no sense, and that’s why we had to sign another bill.
It’s basic math that adds up to real money. It makes a real difference for a lot of Americans that are working hard to support their families, and of course, the fact that we got some resistance on this from folks up on Capitol Hill just fits with the larger problem. This vision that congressional Republicans seem to be continually embracing. This notion that you know, what you’re just on your own no matter how unfair things are.
When President Obama referred to commentators who are claiming that the pay gap doesn’t exist, he was talking about Fox News.
Here is a collection of clips of Fox News claiming that the pay gap isn’t real, and women get paid more than men:
The president took two steps today. He signed an executive order that prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation. The order doesn’t force anyone to discuss equal pay or make pay rates public, but it does not all employers to forbid employees from discussing compensation with each other.
President Obama also signed a Presidential Memorandum instructing the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations that require federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race. The Department of Labor will use the data to make sure that federal contractors are in compliance with equal pay laws.
Republicans are claiming that it is condescending to fight for equal pay for women. They are also labeling the Paycheck Fairness Act a desperate political ploy. What they won’t explain is why they are opposed to women getting paid the same amount as men for doing the same work at the same job. They don’t want to talk about that.
President Obama was right to call out Fox News, without mentioning their name, for spreading falsehoods about the pay gap. For millions of Americans, equal pay is a critical economic. Republicans who claim that this is a political ploy don’t understand what it is like to work hard and still be struggling to make ends meet.
Equal pay isn’t a “women’s issue.” It’s an American issue. This discrimination hurts the economy. Republicans are living in an alternate reality where the pay gap doesn’t really exist, but they are going to get a jolt back into the real world this November when women and men who care about this issue go to the polls on Election Day.

The repugicans Accuse Women of Lying About Being Paid Less Than Men

What the preponderance of Republican assertions about equal pay for equal work really told American women was to stop lying because according to conservatives there is no pay…
GOP Equal pay vote 
During the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention, to settle a debate on how slaves would be counted to determine a state’s total population for constitutional purposes, delegates from southern and northern states reached “The Three-Fifths Compromise” that counted one African slave as 3/5s (60%) worth of a white man. By those numbers, America’s women in 2014 should consider themselves extremely fortunate and regale in the fact that even though Republicans succeeded in keeping them counted as a little over 3/4s (77%) the worth of a man, at least they are worth 17% more than indentured slaves at America’s founding. Republicans will never regard women as worthy of being counted as equal to men, but of course equality is something Republicans oppose as a matter of course whether it is for gays, minorities, or women Republicans will not allow to decide their own reproductive health choices or earn the same pay as a man doing the same work.
As expected, Republicans maintained their record of perpetuating pay inequity based on gender when Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act to keep women earning 77 cents on every dollar a man earns for the same job. Although Republicans concealed their patriarchal biblical belief that women are second class citizens and in subjection to Republican men who deemed they will work for less pay than a man, the result is that women are at the mercy of Republicans adhering to their longstanding opposition to women as equal to men.
Recently President Obama signed two executive orders to narrow the wage gap between men and women to no avail.  One prohibits federal contractors from punishing workers who disseminate information about wages to prevent employers from concealing wage disparity favoring men, and he will direct the Labor Department to collect data from federal contractors detailing wages by gender; both directives are useless while pay inequality is still the law of the land. The President had urged Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that Senate Republicans just blocked and it was as much a waste of breath as pleading with Republicans to raise the minimum wage; apparently he had to try.
What the preponderance of Republican assertions about equal pay for equal work really told American women was to stop lying because according to conservatives there is no pay inequality and women and equal pay advocates are liars for claiming otherwise.  Fox News insists there’s no such thing as pay inequity, and the Heritage Foundation said pay equity will hurt women working to support their families mired in poverty. Teabagger Jim DeMint’s organization claimed  ”Equal pay and minimum wage: Two ways to hurt women in the workplace.” Republicans continue the stunning assertion that paying American workers more will hurt them financially, and it is supposed to give them cover to oppose overtime pay, raising the minimum wage, and to block any attempt at gender equality in pay.  Texas Governor Rick Perry said the pay gap between men and women is “nonsense,” while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called it “bogus.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called equality in pay “the left’s latest bizarre obsession” and accused Harry Reid of “blowing a few kisses to his powerful pals on the left.” McConnell thought he was being cute, but there is nothing cute about women earning 77 cents for every dollar as a man in the same job. However, McConnell is right about one thing, women are powerful and Mitch should fear that not all women suffer bible-inferiority complex or Stockholm Syndrome.
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (TX) said, “This whole thing is a transparent political campaign. It isn’t actually about solving problems, because the law of the land is already paycheck equity.” Cornyn is as big a liar as he is a patriarchal advocate because he just helped Republicans block the bill that would have made paycheck equity the law of the land and he knows it. Kansas Republican Representative Lynn Jenkins claimed “Democrats’ push for pay equity between men and women is “condescending . . . Some folks don’t understand that women have become an extremely valuable part of the workforce today on their own merit, not because the government mandated it.” But according to Republicans they are not “extremely valuable” enough to deserve equal pay according to the second-class status bestowed on them by Republicans exercising freedom of religion to subject women to lower pay than men.
Pay inequity means women lose on average more than $400,000 in wages over the course of their working lives, and perpetuating lower pay for women serves the Republican crusade to drive more retirement age women into poverty. On average, women who retire at age 65 will realize 25% less in Social Security benefits than the average for a man, and it is the same regardless a woman has a private retirement account because their lifetime earnings are 23-25% less than a man at the current level of disparity. It will be much higher if Republicans eliminate the minimum wage, overtime pay, and successfully force salaried employees to work overtime for free; policies Republicans claim prevents poverty. It is important to remember that whether it is Republicans in Congress, conservative belief tanks, or the Koch brothers, they assert that if workers earn more they will be poorer, and millions of Republican supporters are convinced conservatives are right that more money to spend equals more poverty and rapid financial demise.
There are multiple studies by the American Association of University Women and many others showing the infamous “77 cents on the dollar” figure approximates the overall difference between men and women across all professions and all education levels; African-American and Latino women make 62% and 54% of a white man’s wages, respectively. Conservatives claim pay disparity is like comparing apples and oranges such as female teachers to male congressmen as if any Republican congressmen’s contribution to society is even a fraction of the worth any female teacher. However, that mindset is exactly what one expects from a patriarchal society still clinging to the bible thesis that women are less than a man and must subject themselves to a man’s will. Last week a Heritage Foundation panel said the “feminist movement” scammed women who are miserable getting paid for working when the only thing they really want is to get married, become birth machines, and spend their lives cleaning a man’s chamber pot. A recent poll found that unmarried women were unimpressed  with Heritage’s bovine excrement and were likely personally affronted by Republican plans to push women into marriages. Over two-thirds of single women placed greater emphasis on policies to help women and children rise out of poverty and stunningly 24% supported Republican policies to marry off women, but they are likely good Christian women suffering Stockholm Syndrome and support their captor’s devious machinations to keep them under foot and out of the workforce.
The real issue for Republicans is not pay disparity, forcing retired women into poverty, or perpetuating patriarchal preference for men; although those are all contributing factors to why Senate Republicans blocked pay equity and continue waging a war on women. The real issue is that Republicans hate women because they believe they are fated by god to be subservient according to scripture and that aspect cannot be overstated. It drives Republican and the religious right’s opposition to women working, why they demand to make reproductive health decisions for women, and why they viciously attack teacher unions that are predominately women while never broaching extremely costly law enforcement, correctional officers, or firefighter unions because they are male-dominated jobs. It is also a major reason Republicans adamantly opposed the Affordable Care Act because it prohibits the insurance industry from charging higher premiums for insurance policies for women. It is also why Republicans and the religious right target Planned Parenthood for elimination because besides providing health screenings for women, it assists them to plan when they start their families and takes the control away from religious right Republican men.
Republicans are consummate bigots, and they hate women as much as they hate gays, minorities, and the poor. Although they regard women as only three-quarters of a man’s worth, women’s votes still count every much as any man; including those who are incensed their wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters who are better educated and informed than men earn 25% less for the same job. That is the price women pay for living in a society controlled by patriarchal Republicans who adhere to the religious belief their male god gave them dominion over women, but it is a condition they can bring to a quick end if they exercise the true power and vote.

Bobby Jindal’s Corrupt Regime Swatted Down by Federal Court as MoveOn Wins

The Judge ruled that Lieutenant Governor Dardenne "underestimates the intelligence and reasonableness of people viewing the billboard."…
MoveOn_Billboard_LA_Final_COMP 
A victory for free speech and a defeat for Bobby Jindal in his administration’s attempt to force MoveOn.org to remove their truth-telling billboard in Louisiana. As MoveOn reported yesterday,
Judge Shelly D. Dick of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana issued a ruling in Dardenne v MoveOn rejecting the state of Louisiana’s attempt to force MoveOn.org to take down a billboard criticizing Gov. Bobby Jindal for denying health care to 242,000 Louisianians.
Judge Dick thought it was pretty obvious that the MoveOn billboard was not an official state billboard, saying in her ruling that, “the Lieutenant Governor [Lt. Gov. Dardenne] underestimates the intelligence and reasonableness of people viewing the billboard.”
Well, that is the modus operandi of the GOP, to dumb things down, including, if they get their way with education policy, people.
Judge Dick shot down Jindal’s corrupt regime lock, stock, and barrel:
The State has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of prevailing on its burden of proving confusion by viewers of the billboard. Furthermore, the State has failed to demonstrate a compelling reason to curtail MoveOn.org.’s political speech in favor of protecting of the State’s service mark. Finally, the State failed to demonstrate that injunctive relief is required to ameliorate irreparable injury. There has been no showing of irreparable injury to the State.
This is a huge victory for freedom of speech. It turns out you can tell truth to power in Louisiana and survive the experience.
MoveOn.org Civic Action executive director, Anna Galland, celebrated the victory but pointed to the foolishness and waste of the entire episode:
This decision is a victory for common sense, freedom of speech, and the 242,000 Louisianians being denied health care because of Governor Jindal and Louisiana Republicans’ outrageous refusal to let them access Medicaid. What it means is, our billboard is staying up.
While we are pleased with today’s outcome, it’s a shame that the state filed this baseless lawsuit in the first place — which nearly every lawyer with basic knowledge of the First Amendment said they’d lose. Lt. Gov. Dardenne should apologize to the taxpayers for this waste of time and money — time and money that could have been better spent finding ways to get Louisianians access to health care.
But the Republicans, while declining food and medicine and housing to the needy, and education to our children, don’t mind throwing money away on their pet causes, like wasteful investigations of “scandals” they themselves have invented out of whole cloth, or repeated votes to repeal Obamacare, or frivolous lawsuits like this one. There is always money enough for them to play their political games, and they never apologize for spending it even while complaining the coffers are empty.
They certainly won’t apologize for attacking the First Amendment. They have been attacking it in state after state and they are not going to say “We’re sorry” now.
And it isn’t just money wasted on frivolous lawsuits. As Galland pointed out in her response,
Medicaid expansion would be fully funded by the federal government for three years, and then at least 90 percent of the funding would be guaranteed to come from the federal government forever. By saying no to this money, what Governor Jindal is doing is essentially taxing the people of Louisiana to pay for Medicaid for people in other states, but refusing to allow Louisianians to reap the benefits.
The Republican Party has shown itself to be the poster child for a reinvestment in education in this country. You have to believe that if more people could do their sums, that elephant would be begging on a street corner somewhere rather than ruining lives.
The Times-Picayune reports that Lt. Gov. Dardenne has not decided whether to “move ahead with the legal challenge.” Dardenne, significantly, is a candidate for governor in 2015 and can make the billboard a cause célèbre for his campaign. Not coincidentally, Bobby Jindal sees himself as a candidate for president in 2016, and he, like his lieutenant governor, stands to gain or lose Tea Party cred by what he decides to do now. As reported by The Washington Post on April 2, Jindal has already, “announced a plan Wednesday to repeal and replace President Obama’s health-care law, an effort by the Republican to insert himself into the increasingly competitive early maneuvering for his party’s presidential nomination.”
The real tragedy is that people who vote Republican bring this on themselves, but so many people find themselves victims of the vote, victims of vast sums spent by unscrupulous plutocrats, or victims of voter suppression, suffering from a terminal case of legislation without representation, the very thing that brought the colonists to war against the British government.
Yet in a perverse reversal, the GOP, playing the part of King George III and Parliament, pretend to be the patriots in this story rather than the oppressors. The facts show the opposite to be true, and put Republican administrations like that of Bobby Jindal squarely where they belong, publicly humiliated on the stocks in the village square. All we lack is the tar and feathers, but we can apply that during the midterms and again in 2016, and ensure that for once and for all, the basic essentials of a free society are not denied even the poorest American.

Koch Brothers Received Millions In Obamacare Subsidies

Charles and David Koch may have spent millions of dollars opposing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but that didn’t stop them from benefiting from the law. The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Koch Industries received $1.4 million in subsidies from a $5 billion program established by the Affordable Care Act to help employers and states maintain coverage for individuals 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare..
ThinkProgress first noticed that Koch applied for the program in August of 2010, along with other critics of the law, including state-run programs in Texas and more than a dozen members of the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent millions to support Republican causes.

Nothing Really Compares to the Koch Brothers’ Political Empire

by Paul Blumenthal
As billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch become a focus of Democratic Party attacks for their big spending in the 2014 elections, conservatives have argued back that the Kochs’ “dark money” is puny compared to the shadowy funds spent by an array of wealthy liberal interests and individuals.
Businessman Tom Steyer listens during a meeting to announce the launch of a group called Virginians for Clean Government at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. The group was formed to explain the impact of CONSOL Energy not paying royalties to their family and neighbors as well as speaking out against Ken Cuccinelli's acceptance of $111,000 in CONSOL contributions. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Businessman Tom Steyer listens during a meeting to announce the launch of a group called Virginians for Clean Government in Richmond, Va. 
Fingers have been pointed at labor unionsbillionaire investor George Sorosbillionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and the Tides Foundation as the supposed liberal counterparts to the Kochs.But the numbers just don’t add up. And these progressive groups tend to operate in the sunshine of public disclosure, unlike the Kochs’ semi-secret political empire.
Let’s start with the misunderstanding — or the deliberate expansion — of the term “dark money.”
Coined in October 2010 by Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation, “dark money” was meant to describe the funds spent on elections and election-related issue ads by political nonprofits that are not required to disclose the names of their donors. This money skyrocketed following the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.
The term “dark money” does not apply to every nonprofit that does not disclose its donors — not even to every nondisclosing nonprofit with political goals, broadly speaking, on the left or the right.
The term “dark money” does not apply, however, to every nonprofit that does not disclose its donors — not even to every nondisclosing nonprofit with political goals, broadly speaking, on the left or the right.
“Cato [Institute], Heritage [Foundation] and Center for American Progress aren’t dark money groups, and neither is the March of Dimes, which also does not disclose donors,” Allison said via email. “I think of Dark Money as the money from undisclosed donors spent to influence the outcome of an election.”
What kinds of nonprofits does the term cover? Mainly, “social welfare” nonprofits (organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code) and trade associations (organized under section 501(c)(6)), when they spend money to influence electoral outcomes. It can also cover shell corporations that spend on elections and have no other apparent purpose.
Those not included under the “dark money” moniker: public interest nonprofits (organized under section 501(c)(3)), which may be involved in shaping policy but are forbidden to engage in electoral activity and labor unions (organized under section 501(c)(5)), which can participate in elections but must disclose their donors to the Labor Department.
Super PACs must file with the IRS as 501(c)(4)s.
The Koch brothers run most of their political empire through a network of 501(c)(4)s and 501(c)(6) nonprofits. The Koch brothers run most of their political empire through a network of 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits, the majority of which spend money directly on elections or fund those that do.In total, the Koch political empire marshaled $400 million in the 2012 election cycle toward groups and efforts that spent money directly in the electoral arena. Not every group that received money from the empire reported spending on elections, but the vast majority of that money went to groups that spent tens of millions on electoral ads — which must be reported to the Federal Election Commission — and even more on issue ads that targeted candidates but didn’t advocate their electoral victory or defeat — which is not reported. Koch players included Americans for Prosperity, the American Future Fund and the 60 Plus Association.
Already, Koch-linked dark money groups have spent more than $30 million on ads targeting vulnerable Democratic congressional candidates running in the 2014 midterms.
It is the electoral focus of the Koch nonprofits and their sophisticated efforts to shield donors’ identities – plus the vast sums of money they move — that has brought them the unwanted attention of both Democratic Senate leadership and reporters.
There exists no outside network or organization supporting Democratic Party candidates in elections, while not disclosing its donors, that spends money in comparable amounts.
Take the Tides Foundation, a longstanding liberal donor fund that provides money to nonprofits working on the environment, labor issues, immigrant rights, gay rights, women’s rights and human rights. Conservative blogs blasted the foundation as far more influential than the Koch brothers as early as 2011.
But according to tax records accessed through CitizenAudit.org, the Tides Foundation allocates little of its money to groups that engage in FEC-reportable spending on elections. Tides gave just $3.1 million of its $136 million in 2011-2012 grants to 501(c)(4) nonprofits that are permitted to engage part-time in politics. An even smaller sum went to such groups that actually reported election spending — i.e., dark money groups.
Some of those recipient groups reported spending large sums on elections, but they received very little of that from Tides: The League of Conservation Voters, which spent $11.2 million on elections, received just $150,000 from Tides. The Michigan League of Conservation Voters spent $860,237 but received only $15,000. Planned Parenthood spent $6.7 million and received $110,000. And VoteVets.org spent $3.2 million and received $82,500.
The Advocacy Fund, a former Tides organization that is still run out of the same office, gave more to 501(c)(4) nonprofits in the last election cycle: $11.5 million. But only $5.7 million went to those dark money groups that actually spent money on the elections. Recipients that engaged in electoral spending included America Votes ($1.8 million from the Advocacy Fund), the Campaign for Community Change ($1.3 million), the League of Conservation Voters ($2 million), the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund ($125,000), the NRDC Action Fund ($80,000) and the Sierra Club ($278,000).
So if the Tides Foundation is supposed to be the liberal equivalent of the Kochs, it’s a pale shadow of the conservative juggernaut. Combined, the money from Tides and the Advocacy Fund falls well short of the amounts amassed by the Koch operation.
Another favorite target of conservative comparison making is George Soros, who is indeed a major progressive political donor and operates a large network of nonprofit funds to push his vision of an “open society.” This network holds assets in the billions of dollars.
But again, the Soros foundations direct only a tiny fraction of their funds to groups spending money to directly influence elections. The Open Society Policy Center and the Fund for Policy Reform, the main Soros groups donating to 501(c)(4) nonprofits, gave $12.9 million to those nonprofits in the 2012 cycle, of which just $1 million went to the subset that spent money in elections. Soros himself has publicly stated his opposition to funding attack ads.
In addition, Soros was personally a major donor to Democratic super PACs in the last election, including $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, $1 million to Priorities USA Action, $675,000 to House Majority PAC and $100,000 to Senate Majority PAC. He has also donated $25,000 to the Ready for Hillary PAC. But unlike whatever funds the Koch brothers pour into their political empire, the Soros donations to super PACs are not “dark,” for they are all disclosed to the FEC in publicly accessible records.
As for Tom Steyer, the former hedge fund investor turned super-environmentalist, the majority of his spending this election cycle has gone through a super PAC, which discloses its donors — or in Steyer’s case, its donor.
Other liberal donor funds — including the Atlantic Advocacy Fund, the Green Tech Action Fund and the Public Interest Projects Action Fund — donated approximately $35 million to 501(c)(4) nonprofits during the 2012 election. But only 19 percent of that went to groups that actually spent money on elections.
As for Tom Steyer, the former hedge fund investor turned super-environmentalist, the majority of his spending this election cycle has gone through a super PAC, which discloses its donors — or in Steyer’s case, its donor. So far, his CE Action Committee has spent more than $1 million to help Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) secure victory in a 2013 special election and more than $8 million to help Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) win his race.
Steyer has declared that he intends to spend up to $100 million in the 2014 elections. Although that would no doubt make him the largest political donor among those backing Democratic candidates, it remains to be seen whether he will follow through. The Los Angeles Times said as much when it wrote that Steyer “may” be the liberal answer to the Kochs.
In the meantime, the Kochs’ dark money empire is not merely a future threat or a possible hope. It is a reality, controlled by two billionaires who chose to operate, as much as they can, in the political shadows.

Thanks to the Koch Brothers and the Supreme Court, the Sky IS Falling!

I want Democratic men and women, using whatever communications available to 'out' the likes of the Kochs and their ilk. We're fast approaching the last roundup.…
David Koch, executive vice president of Koch Industries, applauds during an Economic Club of New York event in New York
It’s all right to be Howard Beale angry. I mean “mad as hell” as seen here in some YouTube scenes from the 1976 film “Network.” It’s OK to be anchorman, vein popping, red-faced, trembling, just this far from a CVA, angry. Because the Republican Party and their despicable proxies, the Koch brothers, deserve every blood pressure point of that anger. And you don’t have “to take it anymore.”
Southern Democrats never get Beale angry with Southern Republicans. They just shake their hands at the local Rotary club. And that’s why the Southern Democratic Party is, for the most part, politically impotent. There is one exception to the Southern Democratic repression of their anger. While said Democrats never get angry with people who are destroying the South and most other regions of America, they do manage to vent their hostility on the rare Democrat who does get righteously angry.
Well, be prepared Southern Democrats; ’cause I’m about to let loose. A couple of things have happened recently that got my blood boiling. I’ve written about the capitulation of both the University of South Carolina Upstate and the College of Charleston over the issue of books and discussions of what it’s like to be gay in the south (miserable) and an ongoing symposium at USC-Upstate on essentially the same subject. The chancellor of USC-Upstate forced the academic director of the symposium to pull a segment that two local state senators, Lee Bright and Michael Fair, in particular didn’t like. I’ve already written about the intimidating “visit” to the chancellor to force his hand. The chancellor then proceeded to put the head of the Symposium under the bus by announcing from the podium the first day that “WE” agreed….”
The College of Charleston rolled over completely. They’re going to change their whole approach to the question of educating incoming freshmen about one of the great societal problems of our time; the ongoing discrimination and mistreatment of the gay population. Now, the inescapable conclusion is that students at the school have heard the last of anything substantive, sympathetic or relevant to the ongoing gay issue other than, I’m sure, some subtle demonizing.
The awesomely homophobic Republican majority in the legislature responded by demonstrating what happens when you play nice to ignorant dictators. An amendment suddenly popped up in the general assembly, rewarding the College of Charleston’s reversal of its initial reasonable approach to the gay issue, with the new and potentially lucrative designation as a research university, created within the college itself. There’s only one other official research university in the state.
That’s how it works. Bow to the narrow-minded power brokers and the dollars come raining down on your institution of higher learning. Sass, and funding won’t budge from the budget.
The second thing that fired me up was an AP story of the human detritus called the Koch brothers, who are taking advantage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) for their own selfish benefits while funding every conceivable negative commercial slamming Democratic senate candidates supporting ACA in critical states. AP quotes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as noting that Koch Industries ‘Early Retirement Program’ benefited from a temporary provision in the health care law. The provision actually “helped the company pay health insurance costs for its retirees who are not covered by Medicare.”
The Koch brothers are a throwback to the Robber Baron era of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Baron’s with such easily recognizable names as Astor, Carnegie, Mellon, Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. The term was first coined by Atlantic Monthly magazine. The Robber Baron’s modus operandi involved controlling the government, cheating wherever possible, paying absurdly low wages and acquiring (with no DC resistance) enough companies to constitute monopolies so large as to quell any meaningful competition, plus the control of natural resources (oil and natural gas anyone?).
Just a word about the Vanderbilts, past and present. The money flow started with perv (he married his first cousin) Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt. A string of inheritances enabled a bunch of Vanderbilts to swim in money. They loved homes and one decided to build a summer home nestled in Asheville, North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. What’s not to like? Here are some mind-blowing stats. The ‘home’ totals nearly 180,000 square feet, just shy of a Walmart Supercenter and about 100 times larger than your humble domicile. There are 250 rooms that sit on 8,000 acres compared to your 1/3rd of an acre, if you’re lucky. The original acreage was 125,000. It’s called the Biltmore Estate.
If you’ve got around $60 to blow for the pauper’s tour of Biltmore House (guideless, you’re on your own), have at it. It’ll take about 3 ½ hours or so, then you can wander the grounds and figure out other ways to give the Vanderbilt’s your money. They still run the operation.
And what has changed since the robber baron days? Nothing for the better. Capitalism has run even more amuck. When 8 people make as much as 3.6 million people, we’ve almost reached the point of no return. And when the McCutcheon v. FEC 5-4 decision by the corporate-controlled anti-American wing of 5 radical Supreme Court justices commits the near-treasonous, money laundering (as described by ThinkProgress) act of giving our country over to a handful of billionaires and corporate monopolies, we’re finished as a viable, reasonable nation and have entered an era of economic slavery where we’re all black and we all serve the man!
What drives people like the Koch brothers? They’ve made their money. They’re now worth $40 billion apiece. These two are sick puppies. I wouldn’t offend those challenged by mental illness, by saying the Koch brothers are mentally challenged. They’re not. They’re sick; greedy egomaniacs who don’t give a tinker’s damn about anybody but themselves and maybe their families. They’re laughingly described in many quarters as philanthropists. Any money they give away, is either to lower an already non-existent tax bill, a strategic corporate move or to deflect attention away from their true purpose in life, the destruction of a meaningful existence for those making less than a million a year.
David Koch will be 74 in May; Charles 79 in November. I want them to go away. I want America to change direction, or to put it another way, I want my country back. I don’t want to be personally beholden to the likes of the Kochs and their pernicious posse. I want people with stagnant wages to rethink their absurd and totally uninformed objections to ACA, financial regulations, unions, clean air and water, public education, women and minorities rights. When they’re finally informed, please win the day back for the good guys at the polls.
I want Democratic men and women, using whatever communications available to ‘out’ the likes of the Kochs and their ilk. We’re fast approaching the last roundup.

The repugican Mississippi Governor Signs Unconstitutional Law That Voids The 14th Amendment

Although the majority of Americans errantly believe the United States Constitution is the unchallenged law of the land, a substantial number of Christian fundamentalists still adhere to, and are enforcing, their firm belief that their almighty god directed the Founding Fathers to create a Christian nation and wrote a set of laws they would call “The Constitution of the United States.” In the Christian version of god’s Constitution, equal rights are an abomination on par with biblical god’s abhorrence of homosexuality, and religious freedom is Christian’s biblical right to subjugate the population under a Christian theocracy. Over the past five years, Americans have learned that, along with Republicans and teabaggers, the religious right hates the U.S. Constitution as much as they despise America’s African American President, gays, women, and Americans rejecting the Christian bible as law of the land, and the proof is another Republican-controlled state passing and the Republican governor signing into law, a religious edict voiding the 14th and 1st Amendment to make the Christian bible the law of the land in Mississippi.
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Last week while Americans deluded that the religious right anti-gay movement is in its death throes celebrated the country’s entrance into the 21st Century as an all-inclusive nation, Mississippi Republicans passed an anti-gay “religious freedom” law. Religious right activists celebrated Mississippi’s biblical law as empowering businesses to reject the Constitution and enforce biblical law discriminating against same-sex couples in the name of Christianity, and shortly after Governor Phil Bryant signed the scriptural edict into law, head of the Family Research Center, Tony Perkins, issued a statement saying as much. The leading prospect to head a Supreme Christian Council to rule theocratic America said, “Whether it’s someone like Pastor Telsa DeBerry who was hindered by the Holly Springs city government from building a new church in the downtown area, or a wedding vendor, whose orthodox Christian faith will not allow her to affirm same-sex marriage,” the religious edict will “prevent government from discriminating against religious exercise.”

Ziggy

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Darrell Issa Using Tactic In IRS Probe Last Used In McCarthyism

According to a new report by the Congressional Research Service , the tactics used by Rep. Darrell Issa’s (r-Calif.) while probing the Internal Revenue Service is venturing into McCarthy-era territory.
Former IRS official, Lois Lerner, has invoked the Fifth Amendment twice, which is her right. Still yet, Issa wants to force her to testify.
The Huffington Post reports:
But there seems to a serious hitch in the drive to punish Lerner. According the records retrieved by the Congressional Research Service, no American has been successfully prosecuted for invoking their Fifth Amendment rights before Congress.
Congress brought contempt cases 11 times from 1951 to 1968, according the the CRS. Only two of those cases that involved documents — not personal testimony — were upheld by the courts.
Most of the cases involved the House Un-American Activities Committee and its communist witch-hunts in the 1950s. But one that is particularly instructive involves a Buffalo, N.Y., woman named Diantha Hoag, who was fired from her factory job after Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) and his Senate Committee on Government Operations accused her of being a communist and she pleaded the Fifth.

Hoag flatly refused to answer questions about her associates and any communist connections she may have had.

When McCarthy attempted to compel her testimony through the courts, as Issa is now threatening, a judge did not look kindly on the bid, declaring: “I reach the conclusion that the defendant did not waive her privilege under the Fifth Amendment and therefore did not violate the statute in question in refusing to answer the questions propounded to her. Therefore, I find that she is entitled to a judgment of acquittal on all counts.”

Today's House Republicans akin to McCarthy

Darrell Issa Started His IRS Investigation Because Karl Rove Was Denied Tax Exempt Status

Based on documents that were released, and obtained by Pro Publica, the more likely motive for Issa's obsession was a desire to intimidate the IRS into granting Karl…
issa
On Wednesday, the Republican controlled House Oversight and Government Control Committee voted to seek criminal charges against Lois Lerner for contempt of Congress.  In other words, the Republicans on the committee know there is no scandal.  However, in the name of keeping the theater alive, they’ve got to do something or at least look like they’re doing something.  And besides, Lerner’s actions made Darrell Issa look bad on Fox and just made Fox look the same as it usually does. The odds of this resulting in a prosecution are pretty low.  Issa didn’t take the constitutionally necessary steps of overruling Lerner’s Fifth Amendment assertion and he wasn’t “clearly directing her to answer the committee’s questions.”
This doesn’t mean that Lerner is completely in the clear either because there is an ongoing investigation of the IRS’s handling of tax exempt groups and of Lerner’s role in it.
You may remember how Darell Issa embarrassed Fox when he was caught lying about Lerner’s next appearance before the committee.  You may also recall that when Lerner waved her rights, Issa took the unprecedented step of shutting down  the committee’s hearing without so much as allowing ranking member Elijah Cummings to speak. Issa wasted a year, millions of dollars and thousands of hours in labor desperately seeking an IRS persecution of right wing organizations where none existed.
Based on documents that were also released on Wednesday, and obtained by Pro Publica, the more likely motive for Issa’s obsession was a desire to intimidate the IRS into granting Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS tax exempt status. Crossroads was, by far, the Republican Party’s biggest source of dark money, giving $90 million to Republican candidates during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
This nexus between the IRS’s intent to deny Crossroads application for tax exemption status and the IRS “scandal” will come as no surprise to PoliticusUSA readers because we wrote about it back in May 2013.  In fact, she identified the nexus between the “investigation” and Crossroads in her May 22nd article on the subject.
By May 28th, we identified the financial interest Republicans had in derailing existing audits  of Tea Party groups based on their violations of the rules by engaging in political activities.
Now we have documents  to prove that we were correct on both points.
In the application, Crossroads claimed that a small portion (30%)  of its resources would be used for “Activity To Influence Legislation and Policy Making” while 20% would be allocated to “research” and 50% of its finances would be used for “education”.
In fact, Crossroads spent $90 million to elect conservative politicians, raising red flags to election watchdog groups.  The IRS received 25 referrals or complaints about Crossroads activities.
By January 2013, the IRS was in the process of writing a letter of denial  to Crossroads.  Between May 13th and May 17th 2013, the IRS finished a draft of the letter and it was sent for review. Republicans began screaming IRS “scandal” on May 13th, 2013.
The documents also show that the IRS planned to deny the applications of 5 other conservative groups that had spent money on elections, after telling the IRS they wouldn’t do so.
Republicans claim that the IRS focused exclusively on conservative groups which only tells part of the story.  Most new Liberal counterparts don’t apply to the IRS.  In fact, the documents show that the most prominent liberal dark money group, Priorities USA did not apply to the IRS.
In other words, the IRS investigated conservative dark money groups who broke the rules because they broke the rules and because few Liberal dark money groups applied to the IRS.  It stands to reason that means conservative groups are therefore more likely to be scrutinized.
This wasn’t about going after conservative groups because they were conservative. Rather, it was about Issa and company trying to intimidate the IRS into breaking the very laws it is supposed to enforce for the benefit of right wing dark money groups.

Most Senators Overseeing the Comcast-Time Warner Deal Have Taken Money From Both

by Alex Park

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from Comcast and Time Warner executives about their extraordinarily controversial merger proposal. A recent poll found that 52 percent of respondents believed mergers like it lead to reduced competition and poorer service for consumers.
At today's hearing, a number of the senators expressed concern about the deal which, if approved, would result in a single company serving slightly less than 30 percent of the US paid television market and up to 40 percent of American broadband subscribers.&Chairman Leahy started the proceedings, saying that "thousands of Americans have flooded the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] in recent weeks with comments supporting the restoration of open-internet rules. Their voices on this issue should be heard."
But Leahy and most of his colleagues have already "heard" from both Comcast and Time Warner—in the form of generous campaign contributions. Out of the committee's 18 members, 15 have accepted donations from at least one of the two media giants since the 2010 election cycle; 12 have received money from both. The average contribution over that time: $16,285. Democrats were the biggest recipients, taking an average of $18,531 from the two cable and internet giants, nearly twice as much as their Republican counterparts.

MSNBC Forbids Ed Schultz From Democratic Fundraiser But Allows Joe Scarborough to Raise repugican Cash

The MSNBC double standard is on full display as the network made Ed Schultz cancel an appearance at a Democratic fundraiser, but is allowing Joe Scarborough to speak at a Republican cash grab.
scarborough-schultzIn December of 2013, Ed Schultz was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the Broward Democratic Party’s big Unity Dinner in Florida, but he was forced by his bosses at MSNBC to cancel the appearance and claim that he didn’t know it was a fundraiser.
However, Republican Joe Scarborough is being allowed to deliver a keynote address for Cheshire County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner in New Hampshire in May. The fundraiser that Scarborough is appearing at costs $50 per person, and all of the money goes to the Republican Party.
MSNBC has turned down repeated requests for comment from media reporters who want to know why Scarborough is allowed to appear at a fundraiser, but Schultz was not.
It is this kind of a double standard and poor leadership that has led to many viewers distrusting MSNBC. There is a reason why MSNBC is losing viewers and has such a negative perception among cable news viewers.
The problems at MSNBC begin at the top. Viewers don’t trust the people who are running the network, and the people who are running the network tend to ignore what the viewers want. There are many talented people working at MSNBC. The network could be so much more than what it is, but it difficult to believe that they are leaning forward when management has different rules for their liberal and conservative employees.
Keith Olbermann was suspended for donating to Democrats in 2010, and that clash with management was part of the feud that led to his departure from the network. It is difficult to escape the suspicion that the execs at MSNBC are trying to push Ed Schultz out too. They have already tried to shuffle Schultz off to the weekends, but viewer outrage combined with the crashing and burning of Chris Hayes forced the network to bring him back to weekdays.
MSNBC’s behavior is not matching their public image, and it leaves viewers to wonder if the network’s liberal tilt is all a marketing scam.

Buying the election ...


Gutting of campaign finance laws enhances influence of corporations, rich


Study: Gutting of campaign finance laws enhances influence of corporations, rich
Affluent individuals and business corporations already have vastly more influence […]

Opposition to Medicaid Expansion Killing repugican Governors’ 2014 Election Hopes

Five Republican Governors who oppose Medicaid expansion are in position to lose their bids for re-election in 2014. …
rick scott sad
Forget the media narratives that say Democrats could lose because of their support for Obamacare. While that convenient narrative is easy for beltway reporters to regurgitate, it is not supported by polling evidence. Polling data suggests that contrary to the dominant narrative, health care is a winning issue for Democrats not Republicans. This has become especially apparent in the many contests for Governorships across the country.
Recent polling done by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that five incumbent Republican Governors who  oppose Medicaid expansion are in danger o losing their bids or re-election.  Not surprisingly, Maine Republican Paul LePage and Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett trail in their bids for re-election as their right-wing policies are far out of line with their blue-leaning electorates. However, even in Georgia and Kansas, Republican incumbents are losing to Democratic challengers. Even in these deep red states, a solid majority of voters want their Governors to expand Medicaid.
No Governor has made opposition to Medicaid expansion more a cornerstone of his campaign than Rick Scott in Florida. Yet, by a 58-33 margin, Florida voters want their Governor to accept the federal funding for Medicaid expansion. More than four in ten Florida voters say Rick Scott’s dogmatic opposition to Medicaid expansion makes them less likely to vote or him. In a head to head match-up with Democrat Charlie Crist, Rick Scott is losing 49-42 percent. GOP opposition to Medicaid expansion will prove to be Rick Scott’s undoing.
The pattern is repeated in state after state. Maine’s Paul LePage, another fierce opponent of Medicaid expansion, trails Democrat Michael Michaud 44-37. If not for left-leaning Independent Elliot Cutler polling at 14 percent, LePage would be losing by double digits. As bad as Rick Scott and Paul LePage are doing, they at least are not as hopelessly doomed as Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett. The Republican Keystone state Governor is poised to be crushed in a blowout of epic proportions this November. He currently trails a hypothetical Democratic opponent by a punishing 56-34 margin.
Two additional Governors who oppose Medicaid expansion are losing much closer races. However, given that they are in Kansas and Georgia, this should serve as little consolation to the GOP. In Georgia, Jason Carter (D) holds a narrow 43-42 edge over Governor Nathan Deal (R).  In Kansas, a state which Barack Obama lost by 22 points to Mitt Romney in 2012, Democratic candidate Paul Davis is leading Sam Brownback 45-41.
Republican Governors and their surrogates will continue to argue that Democrats are losing the debate on health care, but they do so at their own peril. Republican Governors who rejected the federal Medicaid expansion face being rejected by voters in November. From Tallahassee to Topeka, the GOP’s policies blocking health care access to low-income residents is set to backfire at the polls. For constituents in need of affordable medical care, November 2014 cannot come soon enough.

New Rule Prohibits Voters In Miami-Dade County From Using The Restroom, No Matter How Long The Line

by Nicole Flatow
South Floridians stand in line during the last day of early voting in Miami, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012.During the 2012 presidential election, voters reportedly waited on line for upwards of six hours. That wait alone is enough to deter would-be voters from going to the polls. But now residents in Florida’s most populous county will have another disincentive: they won’t be able to go to the bathroom.

Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities, according to disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin. Dubin said the policy change was in “direct response” to an inquiry to the Elections Department about whether they had assessed accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities.
“I was expecting them to say either yes we have or yes we will,” Dubin said.

Instead, he received a written response announcing that the county would close all restrooms at polling places “to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly,” a January email stated. “[T]he Department’s policy is not to permit access to restrooms at polling sites on election days,” Assistant County Attorney Shanika Graves said in a Feb. 14 email. Elections Department officials did not immediately respond to inquiries.

The truth be told

Makers of Lethal Painkiller Open Lawsuit After Massachusetts Ban

by Dayna Evans

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced a state of public health emergency as heroin and opiate overdoses rise. The announcement called for a ban on the new drug Zohdyro, an opiate painkiller ten times stronger than Vicodin. In response, Zogenix, the drug's maker, has filed a federal lawsuit. 
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Zohydro had just started rolling out in California markets this March, and Patrick's decision has forestalled any chances of that happening in the Northeastern state, calling it a "potentially lethal narcotic painkiller."
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Patrick has ensured that Narcan, an overdose preventive medication, will be more readily available to first responders, but has also promised that Zohydro will stay off the market until more safeguards are put into place. 
"We must have more rigor over the overprescription of pain medication," Patrick said. Opiate overdoses in Massachusetts rose 90 percent from 2000 to 2012.

Glenn Beck, National Review and NY Post Might be Forced to Pay Huge Defamation Damages in Court

Libel and slander cases are increasingly viewed as long-shot legal propositions that aren't worth the effort required to see the cases to completion only to suffer defeat. But three high-profile libel suits against media organizations are bucking that trend and making their way through the legal system. Two of them have already cleared steep judicial hurdles, opening the way for the discovery phase and possible jury trials. All involve well-know conservative media defendants: National Review, the New York Post and Glenn Beck's The Blaze.
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As Media Matters has documented for years, newsroom standards for conservative journalists leave much to be desired and outlets routinely trample over established norms of responsible behavior. But has the recklessness reached such heights, and have the attacks become so slanderous, that courts will rule against the offending media outlets? And if so, how high could the penalties run?
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"Damages for every case come down to whatever the jury wants them to be," former New York Times general counsel George Freeman tells Media Matters.
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Responding to speculation that a pricey courtroom loss could drive National Review out of business, publisher Jack Fowler assured readers in January that the magazine has libel insurance to cover damages, although he conceded "our insurance does not cover all the costs related to the suit." But even if the three outlets avoid a big jury loss, simply paying the legal fees becomes tantamount. "The costs can be absolutely staggering," says Robert Drechsel, professor at the University of Wisconsin who specializes in media law.
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Not surprisingly, the three headline-making suits revolve around hot-button issues for the right-wing media: last year's Boston Marathon terror bombing case, which led to the suits against the New York Post and Beck, and the political jousting over climate change, which pits National Review versus Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann.

Republican 'news' outlets have been lying again

Iran Ambassador Dispute Unites Democratic, repugican Senators

by Donna Cassata
The congressional outcry over allowing a former hostage-taker involved in the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to serve as Iran's ambassador at the United Nations is uniting Democrats and Republicans..
The Senate could vote as early as Monday on legislation that would deny entry to the United States to an individual found to be engaged in espionage, terrorism or a threat to national security. The bill was prompted by Iran's anticipated selection of Hamid Aboutalebi, who was a member of a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Daily Comic Relief

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Florida Lawmakers Want To Let People Carry Guns Without Permits During Riots, Disasters

by Eric Lach
The Florida House is expected to vote on a version of the bill on Friday.
According to the Herald, the bill, known as HB 209 (short for House Bill 209), would allow people with clean criminal backgrounds to carry concealed firearms during emergencies declared by the governor or local officials, including natural disasters, riots, and civil unrest. The bill's backers say the measure will give gun owners the chance to protect their property during disasters. But opponents say -- it's crazy.
“To allow people to go into a riot while concealing a gun without a permit is the definition of insanity,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the Herald. “The bill is crazy. It’s absurd.”
[...]

This Texas School District Wants 23 Foreign Teachers To Leave The Country

by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee
It only takes two unscrupulous school district administrators to unravel the lives of nearly two dozen teachers in a Texas surburb. When administrators recruited foreign teachers from the Philippines, Mexico, Colombia, and other countries to accommodate the growing Latino population in a Dallas suburb, they allegedly promised to help secure permanent residency for teachers. Instead those teachers, the majority of whom have worked for years at the Garland Independent School District (GISD), are now facing deportation.
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Over the past decade, the GISD filed 642 H1-B work visa applications to fill bilingual teaching positions, even though “similarly sized Dallas schools were recruiting 17 to 23 foreign teachers annually,” according to a CBS Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate.
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The H1-B visa is a “non-immigrant visa” that does not provide a pathway to securing legal permanent residency and maxes out after six years. Organizations can sponsor foreign workers for permanent residency however. Twenty-three teachers alleged that the GISD made that promise and even accepted fees to do so. The school never followed through with sponsorship and has maintained the actions of a few school district officials do not speak for the school itself.
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During a press conference Tuesday, Harry Jones, GISD’s law representative, said that a Human Resources administrator had exploited the H1-B program in order to line his own wallet.

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • A century of earthquakes in one map
  • Air pollution over Asia makes pacific storms more intense
  • Birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper identified in Mexico
  • Revisiting Ansel Adams wilderness
And more ...
This golden eagle is our Animal Picture, for today.