Saturday, March 14, 2015

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson: It costs too much to fund the VA

No money for wounded veterans!
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost us between $4 and $6 trillion dollars, but that is not the true cost of war. The true cost of war is counted by the dead and wounded, 6,640 U.S. service members who were killed and 50,540 who were wounded through Feb. 5, 2013. Of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines deployed, 103,792 were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 253,330 service members were diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) of some kind. A total of 1,715 service members received wounds that required amputations and 1,493 lost an arm or leg.

The cost of war includes those whose lives will never be the same whether they have visible wounds or not. Horrific scenes will haunt the dreams of the young men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of their lives. Suicides, alcoholism and drug abuse will take even more of those who served. The costs of war are counted in broken marriages, domestic abuse, and homelessness. The costs of war will be counted for more than just the generation that served.
On December 8, 2004, Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, was asked this question by Specialist Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee National GuardREAD MORE

Todd Starnes Conflates Homophobia With Christianity

Fox News has their point man who is always on call to teach us how today's Christians are persecuted for simply being Christian. Todd Starnes writes,

Thousands of Americans, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and famed evangelist Franklin Graham, have come to the defense of a chaplain who could be thrown out of the Navy because of his Christian faith.
Lt. Cmdr. Wes Modder has been accused of failing to show “tolerance and respect” in private counseling sessions regarding issues pertaining to faith, marriage and sexuality – specifically homosexuality. READ MORE

Missouri's Lt. Gov. Calls Sean Hannity's Show 'Terrible TV'

You know your conservative TV show sucks when even Republican politicians say as much when they think they're off-air. Sean Hannity was hard to take when his show was mildly entertaining during its Hannity & Colmes phase, but now it's unwatchable -- unless you're a mindless stooge. His coverage of Ferguson is simply the worst and Missouri's Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) seems to agree with me as his true opinions were caught on-air while he believed his mic was not live.

After airing interviews that a Fox correspondent conducted live on the ground in Ferguson, Mo., host Sean Hannity turned to the lieutenant governor for his thoughts on renewed protests in the city.

Pope Francis Expects Short Papacy, Leaves Open Possibility Of Retirement

Pope Francis arrives for an audience in St. Peter's
Square at the Vatican on
March 11, 2015.REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
In a wide-ranging interview Thursday with Mexican broadcaster Noticieros Televisa, Pope Francis said he had the "somewhat vague sensation" that his papacy could be short, leaving open the possibility he may retire rather than serve until his death, as is the custom for serving popes.

Francis told interviewer Valentina Alazraki that he had "the feeling that my pontificate will be brief: four or five years; I do not know, even two or three. Two have already passed. He added, "Maybe it's like the psychology of the gambler who convinces himself he will lose so he won’t be disappointed and if he wins, is happy. I do not know. But I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time, and nothing more."

He was also asked if he thought it would become normal for popes to retire, as his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, did, rather than serve until their deaths, as has been the custom. Francis replied that he believes Benedict "opened a door": READ MORE
In general I think what Benedict so courageously did was to open the door to the Popes Emeritus. Benedict should not be considered an exception, but an institution. Maybe he will be the only one for a long time, maybe he will not be the only one. But an institutional door has been opened. Today the Pope Emeritus is no longer a rarity since a door for him to exist as a figure has been opened.

Wildstein's Relationship With Christie Closer Than Governor Acknowledged, Report Says

Attorney Alan Zegas, left, with his client, David Wildstein
as they testify before the state Assembly transportation
committee. Wildstein, is the former Port Authority official
who shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge
in September.
Thursday January, 09, 2014 (Patti Sapone/The Star-Ledger)
TRENTON — The former Port Authority official considered to be the mastermind behind the lane closings at the center of the George Washington Bridge scandal appears to have had a closer relationship with Gov. Chris Christie than Christie has acknowledged, according to a report by WNYC.
The public radio station based its findings on examinations of David Wildstein's calendars during his four years at the Port Authority and a review of more than 1,000 photographs and thousands of pages of documents, the report said.

Christie went to Livingston High School in the 1970s with Wildstein and appointed him to a $150,000-a-year position at the bistate agency. But the Republican governor, who claims to have had no personal involvement with the lane closings, has repeatedly said he was not personally close with Wildstein. READ MORE

Friday, March 13, 2015

Over 239,000 Americans Sign Petition Demanding Treason Charges Against GOP Senators Behind Iran Letter

The Republican tactic of attempting to torpedo the ongoing negotiations between President Obama and the Iranian Government has backfired in a spectacular way. As a result of the letter, over 200,000 Americans are now calling for charges of treason to be filed against the 47 Republican senators who masterminded the letter.

A petition filed with on Monday has more than 200,000 signatures as of mid-Thursday afternoon. Just to be clear; various right-wing rallies planned days in advance could only dream of this sort of turn out.

The White House must respond to any petition that gets 100,000 signatures in 30 days. This one netted more than twice that in four.

The petition calls for the rogue senators to be charged under the Logan Act, which dates from 1799 and forbids unauthorized citizens, including senators, from negotiating with foreign governments. Now, the law is out-of-date and probably wouldn't be applicable in court, but the sheer volume of signatures means the White House will have to add its own response. READ MORE


Netanyahu lags centre-left in last polls before Israel vote

Jerusalem (AFP) - Final opinion polls on Friday put Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party four seats behind its centre-left rival with four days to go before a general election.

Several polls released Friday -- the last day opinion surveys can be released before Tuesday's vote -- showed the Zionist Union pulling further ahead of Likud after an intense campaign.

Netanyahu, who gambled by calling the vote nearly two years early after his government coalition fell apart late last year, has warned Israel's security will be at risk if his rivals win.

But the opposition's call for change after nearly six years of rule by the divisive Netanyahu appears to have been heard by many voters.

A poll in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper showed the Zionist Union winning 26 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, against 22 for Likud. READ MORE

Thursday, March 12, 2015

After Donations To Christie Admin, Prudential Gets Millions In Fees

"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate"

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration kept
investments in Prudential, after its top official gave to
Christie's campaign.Reuters/Mike Segar


Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration has over the past five years paid at least $6.5 million in taxpayer fees to Prudential Financial to manage New Jersey pension funds, even after company officials made substantial contributions to Christie's 2009 gubernatorial campaign, International Business Times has learned. One of the Prudential officials was Christie's top fundraiser, adviser and donor. Christie appointees nonetheless maintained investment contracts with Prudential despite state rules that require such contracts to be canceled when executives at firms managing pension money donate to or raise money for state lawmakers. 

“It sounds like it’s a clear conflict with the rules,” said Melanie Sloan, a former U.S. Department of Justice official who served as executive director of the watchdog group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), after IBTimes described its findings. “It seems like this thing is a clear violation of the rules. The rules just haven’t been enforced and now everyone is scrambling for cover.” READ MORE



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Civil Whites March: Fox News Whines That Liberal Media Cut Bush Out Of Selma Ceremony

This past weekend marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic events in America's history. In 1965 hundreds of protesters organized a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demand an end to the institutional racism that kept African Americans from exercising their right to vote. The marchers were met on the Edmund Pettus Bridge by state troopers who beat them with nightsticks, trampled them horses, assaulted them with water cannons, and left many of the peaceful marchers severely injured.

John Lewis, now a U.S. congressman, was among those who suffered at the hands of the segregationist southern establishment. The televised images of the brutality directed at the marchers played a significant role in elevating the civil rights crisis to a national priority.
So how did Fox News choose to cover this historic commemorative occasion?

The KKK made their presence known in Selma, Alabama this weekend

Another day in post-racial America.
These people have no shame:

Robert Jones, the grand dragon of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK spoke with Sunday afternoon and said about 4,000 KKK fliers have been distributed throughout Selma and Montgomery in the last two weeks.

"We pretty much put out fliers, some against King and some against immigration," Jones said. "It's time for the American people to wake up to these falsehoods that they preach about MLK."
Crews covered thousands of homes, depositing their hate-filled fliers onto doorsteps and driveways, using rocks for paperweights so their message wouldn't blow away in the wind. Homeowners in Selma were in disbelief: 

A deeper examination of the sheer joy of Oklahoma students chanting about hanging n*gg*rs from trees

Money, during a bad economy, doesn't actually disappear, it just moves around into different hands and different accounts. If a whole segment of America all of a sudden doesn't have money because of shifts in the economy, it just means that it has shifted to another group, but please understand—that money still exists—just not in your wallet.

Racism is like money. It changes hands. It shape-shifts and finds itself a new carrier, a new account, a new way to express itself in changing times, but it never actually disappears. Suppressed racism is no less real than money in a savings account, but rest assured, suppressed racism always has a way of telling on itself—sometimes in the most despicable, hurtful, and shocking ways.

Before I dig into why a group of white University of Oklahoma college students from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, clad in tuxedos and ball gowns, so giddily chanted about "hanging n*gg*rs from trees" let me clear—racism is dangerous. It's not funny. It's not just words. It's not kids being kids. It's not playful. This is shit is real and it's dangerous.

Racism is the fundamental dehumanization of an entire ethnic group. READ MORE

Maine GOP senator suggests President Obama will see ISIS at family reunion

There has been talk lately in Maine about what sort of legacy Gov. Paul LePage will leave the Pine Tree State, and it seems unfiltered comments is a early front-runner. Maine State Sen. Mike Willette should have thought a bit more before hitting the post button on his facebook page, as Mike Tipping reports:
“I’ve been very good over the last year and a half about not posting things about Obama, but this one was too good to pass up,” wrote Maine Republican Senator Michael Willette on Facebook on March 1st before posting an image with the caption “Why haven’t I done anything about ISIS? Because I’ll deal with them at the family reunion.” superimposed over a photo of the president.

Willette manages to combine some of the worst false slurs and conspiracy theories about President Obama’s family, faith and foreign policy in one meme, and seems to know he shouldn’t be posting it.  READ MORE

Woman complains about Transgender Woman in her gym, and her problem is rectified

A woman had a major problem with the fact that a Planet Fitness gym in Midland, MI, was allowing an identifying transgender woman to change in the woman's locker room. Below is a link to the story and synopsis of what transpired.

Here is the story.
To sum up, The Planet Fitness slogan is "judgement free zone."  They abide by this slogan and therefore have no problem with transgender people using the changing room of their identifying gender.

The woman continued to complain to staff, corporate headquarters and other gym members.  Therefore, the gym did the only sensible thing possible- they cancelled the membership of the complainer.  READ MORE

NY Daily News Denounces GOP Senate as "Traitors" on their Front Page (Trending Worldwide)

BOOM!  The backlash to the GOP warmongering stunt has been withering, and now a leading pro-GOP, pro-Likud paper is calling them "traitors" in a banner front page headline.

The NY Daily News is a reactionary paper, owned by a neo-conservative, which endorsed George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.  They also oppose the administration's efforts to avoid war and strike a nuclear arms agreement with Iran.

But even for them, an attempt by GOP Senators to sabotage and scuttle the foreign policy negotiations of a sitting US President was a bridge too far.  READ MORE

THIS LINK is to a Twitter search of the hashtag #47Traitors

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rand Paul Says Same Sex Marriage 'Offends Him'

As readers know, I'm no fan of libertarianism. They are people, mostly embarrassed to call themselves conservatives, (especially with the tea party taking over their party) and outside of a few civil liberty issues, they fall squarely in the free market, evangelical wing of the Republicans.

Senator Rand Paul has inherited the mantle from his now retired father, Ron, as the leader of libertarians, but when you hear him opine on issues coveted by the religious right, he falls squarely in their camp every time. 

Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul said on Friday affording the distinction to marriage to same-sex couples “offends myself and a lot of other people.”

In an interview with Bret Baier of Fox News, the Kentucky Republican, who described himself as a “libertarian conservative,” made the remarks when asked about his views on gay rights. “I’m for traditional marriage,” Paul said. “I think marriage is between a man and a woman. Ultimately, we could have fixed this a long time ago if we just allowed contracts between adults. We didn’t have to call it marriage, which offends myself and a lot of people.” READ MORE

Yes, Black America Fears The Police. Here’s Why.

This story was co-published with Politico Magazine.

Last July 4, my family and I went to Long Island to celebrate the holiday with a friend and her family. After eating some barbecue, a group of us decided to take a walk along the ocean. The mood on the beach that day was festive. Music from a nearby party pulsed through the haze of sizzling meat. Lovers strolled hand in hand. Giggling children chased each other along the boardwalk.
Most of the foot traffic was heading in one direction, but then two teenage girls came toward us, moving stiffly against the flow, both of them looking nervously to their right. “He’s got a gun,” one of them said in a low voice.

I turned my gaze to follow theirs, and was clasping my 4-year-old daughter’s hand when a young man extended his arm and fired off multiple shots along the busy street running parallel to the boardwalk. Snatching my daughter up into my arms, I joined the throng of screaming revelers running away from the gunfire and toward the water.

The shots stopped as quickly as they had started. The man disappeared between some buildings. Chest heaving, hands shaking, I tried to calm my crying daughter, while my husband, friends and I all looked at one another in breathless disbelief. I turned to check on Hunter, a high school intern from Oregon who was staying with my family for a few weeks, but she was on the phone.
“Someone was just shooting on the beach,” she said, between gulps of air, to the person on the line.
Unable to imagine whom she would be calling at that moment, I asked her, somewhat indignantly, if she couldn’t have waited until we got to safety before calling her mom.
“No,” she said. “I am talking to the police.”

My friends and I locked eyes in stunned silence. Between the four adults, we hold six degrees. Three of us are journalists. And not one of us had thought to call the police. We had not even considered it.READ MORE  Then Google "Sundown towns"

Jeb Bush Compares Obama Executive Actions To Orders Of A Latin American Dictator

Yep, Jebbie's out to prove his bona fides as an official American hater. On the day that the President spoke of the ongoing battles for equality in this country, Jeb was confronted by a Latino voter with questions about what he would do regarding DAPA and DACA.

Dave Weigel:

A friendly Spanish-speaker translated the exchange and shared the transcript with Bloomberg Politics.

DREAMER: Will it be your priority to end DACA and DAPA?

BUSH: End what?


BUSH: DACA? What is...

DREAMER: You said you would stop the President's overreach. Are you referring to DACA and DAPA?

BUSH: (inaudible) We need to pass it as a law. (inaudible)

DREAMER: Ok so you have plans to end DACA and DAPA? To do away with those programs?

BUSH: DACA is for... the program for the DREAMers. No. Let's give them priority to be citizens. But by the law, not by decree, because that's like a Latin American dictator. READ MORE

Sunday Morning Bobblehead Thread (Crooks & Liars)

Good morning! Hope you remembered to set your clocks ahead. Hence the video I selected. Here's what's on today's menu:

CBS Face the Nation
Big guests: Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

High on the agenda: The Senate Republican agenda and Hillary Clinton's emails.

The pundit panel: Margaret Brennan, Ruth Marcus, April Ryan and Gerald Seib.
Fox News Sunday

Big guests: Former Arkansas Republican governor and likely presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and former White House special counsel Lanny Davis.

High on the agenda: Hillary Clinton's emails and the 2016 race for president.

The pundit panel: Juan Williams, Neera Tanden, George Will and Kimberley Strassel.
NBC Meet the Press

Big guests: Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

High on the agenda: Hillary Clinton's emails and the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, Ala. READ MORE

Tens Of Thousands Fill Rabin Square For Anti-Netanyahu Rally

March 7, 2015
Times of Israel staff
Posted with permission from The Times of Israel 
Israelis take part in a rally to ask for a change in the
Israeli policy on March 7, 2015 on Rabin Square in
Tel Aviv. Israelis go to the polls on March 17, in a
vote that looks set to bring right wing Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu a fourth term in office.
(photo credit: AFP/JACK GUEZ)
An estimated 40,000 demonstrators poured into Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square Saturday evening to take part in a rally calling for a change in government.

The plaza was filled with posters supporting the left-wing Meretz party and the center-left Zionist Union.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan headlined the speakers who took to the podium to address the teeming crowd. Having unleashed harsh criticism of the Netanyahu administration in an interview aired Friday, Dagan again attacked the prime minister, saying “we have a leader who fights only one campaign — the campaign for his own political survival.”

“In the name of this war, he is dragging us down to a bi-national state and to the end of the Zionist dream,” the former spy chief, 70, said of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. READ MORE

THIS Is a Lesson of How to Hit Back Vs. O'Reilly & RW Lying Bloviating Buffoons Covering for the 1%

It’s way past time that someone published such a punishing and honest appraisal/takedown.
In Rolling Stone, Jeb Lund wrote a must-read piece called "Go Ahead and Call Bill O'Reilly What He Is: A Pathological Liar":
"O'Reilly isn't a newsman, he's a blue-eyed cirrhotic cyst erupting acid onto the brass rail at the Now I'll Tell You What the REAL Problem Is Pub. He's the guy who sits next to you and brags about how he'd kick the hell out of any thugs daring to bring violence into his neighborhood, stumbles off his barstool, goes outside, reflexively crosses the street to avoid two black kids on the sidewalk two blocks up, then drives home drunk. He's the guy who picks a fight with you if you correct him, then refuses to throw down because he 'was Gold Gloves in college and doesn't want to end you, man,' then backs away toward his driveway while trying to make eye contact with anyone he thinks is a friend and saying, ' feel sorry for him! I have a pool in my backyard... Bill O'Reilly is all ad hominem because he has nothing else. In an atmosphere devoid of facts, a legend will have to do, and those who challenge it must be shouted down, threatened or "sanctioned" to intimidate anyone else who might threaten to puncture him next. '
Because that's the other school of thought about Bill O'Reilly, and something that explains why he leapt on Brian Williams with a predatory recognition of common weakness. O'Reilly long ago turned up the volume on his Real American Thug schtick to drown out the fact that almost everything he has to say is either a lie, bullying or a deracinated piece of non-data." READ MORE

'The biggest ongoing disaster in the United States you haven't heard of'

Incredible video of a sinkhole, located south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, swallowing whole trees:

Tim Murphy at Mother Jones described the sinkhole at Bayou Corne as "the biggest ongoing disaster in the United States you haven't heard of."
One night in August 2012, after months of unexplained seismic activity and mysterious bubbling on the bayou, a sinkhole opened up on a plot of land leased by the petrochemical company Texas Brine, forcing an immediate evacuation of Bayou Corne's 350 residents—an exodus that still has no end in sight. Last week, Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the company and the principal landowner, Occidental Chemical Corporation, for damages stemming from the cavern collapse.
Texas Brine's operation sits atop a three-mile-wide, mile-plus-deep salt deposit known as the Napoleonville Dome, which is sheathed by a layer of oil and natural gas, a common feature of the salt domes prevalent in Gulf Coast states. The company specializes in a process known as injection mining, and it had sunk a series of wells deep into the salt dome, flushing them out with high-pressure streams of freshwater and pumping the resulting saltwater to the surface. From there, the brine is piped and trucked to refineries along the Mississippi River and broken down into sodium hydroxide and chlorine for use in manufacturing everything from paper to medical supplies.

Bayou Corne is the biggest ongoing disaster in the United States you haven't heard of.
What happened in Bayou Corne, as near as anyone can tell, is that one of the salt caverns Texas Brine hollowed out—a mine dubbed Oxy3—collapsed. The sinkhole initially spanned about an acre. Today it covers more than 24 acres and is an estimated 750 feet deep. It subsists on a diet of swamp life and cypress trees, which it occasionally swallows whole. It celebrated its first birthday recently, and like most one-year-olds, it is both growing and prone to uncontrollable burps, in which a noxious brew of crude oil and rotten debris bubbles to the surface. But the biggest danger is invisible; the collapse unlocked tens of millions of cubic feet of explosive gases, which have seeped into the aquifer and wafted up to the community. The town blames the regulators. The regulators blame Texas Brine. Texas Brine blames some other company, or maybe the regulators, or maybe just God. READ MORE