Category Archives: Breaking News

GOP Gets Well-Deserved Smack for Holding Up Bundy Family as “Patriots”

Conservatives begin backing away after Cliven Bundy’s remarks disparaging ‘the Negro’ (via Raw Story )

Republican politicians began backtracking on their support of Nevada anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy after the New York Times caught Bundy making racially-inflammatory remarks blaming African-Americans for willingly submiting to dependency on federal…


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Victory for Abortion Rights in Wisconsin

A lower court’s decision to block an admitting privileges law was upheld on appeal:

he U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit today upheld a lower court’s decision blocking a Wisconsin law that singles out doctors who provide abortions for medically unnecessary restrictions. A challenge to the law was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

“We’re glad that the court has prevented this law from taking effect,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “These kinds of decisions should only be made by a woman, her family and her doctor. Politicians should have no place in the complicated and personal decision about whether or not to end a pregnancy.”

Doctors and leading medical groups, such as the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Wisconsin Public Health Association, have opposed such requirements because they are unnecessary for the provision of safe, high-quality health care, and because they prevent women from getting necessary services. Wisconsin law does not require doctors providing surgery at other health centers to have admitting privileges even for more complicated procedures.

“Across the country, extremist politicians are trying to shut down women’s health centers and make it more and more difficult for women to access abortion care,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “These laws have nothing to do with women’s health and are designed to unfairly target medical professionals who provide safe and legal abortions.”

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Filed under Breaking News, Reproductive Rights

The Crisis Next Time

So the government is open again and the debt ceiling will not be breached — for now. And yes, that’s good, and it’s good that the deal that ended this latest crisis did not include any concessions to Republicans (except, of course, the Obama income verification thing — more on that later). But I’m not calling this a victory until the possibility that Republicans can again take the entire nation and the global economy hostage is eliminated for good.

Those who say that Republicans have learned a lesson and won’t let the crazies who have taken over their party do this again are, in my view, deluded. No matter what Mitch McConnell says. Because, as John Dickerson said on CBS News last night, it’s the fighting that matters to them, not the winning. So Ted Cruz and his pack of far right anarchists don’t see the beating Republicans took in the polls as a defeat. Indeed, they don’t believe the polls. They think they won. They think the American people support them. And as they’ve said and shown many times, they are willing to go to any lengths to get their way. More to the point, though, I haven’t seen or heard anything from Old Guard Republicans that would lead me to believe they would have the guts to NOT let the Cruzians steamroll over them again, in January and February.

To wit, here is Jim DeMint in today’s Wall Street Journal, telling us that elections, as far as he is concerned, don’t have consequences (emphasis is mine):

Yes, I can hear many conservative friends saying to me right around this point: “Jim, we agree with you that ObamaCare is going to wreck the country, but elections have consequences.” I have three responses.

The first is that ObamaCare was not the central fight in 2012, much to the disappointment of conservatives. Republicans hoped that negative economic news would sweep them to victory, and exit polls confirmed that the economy, not health care, was the top issue. The best thing is to declare last year’s election a mistrial on ObamaCare.

Second, the lives of most Americans are not dominated by the electoral cycle. They shouldn’t have to wait three more years for Congress to give them relief from this law, especially when the president has so frequently given waivers to his friends. Full legislative repeal may not be possible while President Obama remains in office, but delaying implementation by withholding funds from a law that is proven to be unfair, unworkable and unaffordable is a reasonable and necessary fight.

There’s a third reason not to stop fighting. Forget the consultants, the pundits and the pollsters; good policy is good politics. If the Republicans had not fought on ObamaCare, the compromise would have been over the budget sequester. Instead, they have retained the sequester and for the past three months ObamaCare and its failings have been front and center in the national debate. Its disastrous launch was spotlighted by our defund struggle, not overshadowed, as some contend. With a revived and engaged electorate, ObamaCare will now be the issue for the next few years.

These are the reasons we fought so hard to get Washington to listen to the American people and take action to stop ObamaCare, and it is why so many are thankful for the courageous leadership of people like Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and conservatives in the House of Representatives. The law is economically unstable, financially irresponsible and harmful to hardworking Americans.

Forget the substantive problems with DeMint’s arguments. The point here is that he and his fellow right-wing nuts believe in them. And they think that closing the government and breaching the debt ceiling is gaining them nothing but gold stars from their base.

Here are Ted Cruz and David Vitter in the Washington Post today, reiterating their ends-justify-the-means philosophy about the Affordable Care Act:

“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), a tea party favorite who said he would not rule out pushing for another government shutdown.

House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders announced Thursday that they will hold a hearing Oct. 24 to scrutinize the law’s implementation. They also sent Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a letter, asking her to reconsider the administration’s decision not to participate.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who tried unsuccessfully to insert a provision in Wednesday’s continuing resolution that would have denied federal health insurance subsidies to lawmakers and their aides, said he will revive the proposal as soon as possible.

“I guarantee it will be back,” Vitter said on Fox News. “I’m not going away, and this issue is certainly not going away.”

Furthermore, the shutdown and near-breach of the debt ceiling got the GOP at least one substantive win, despite Pres. Obama’s vow that he would not allow any policy concessions until the government reopened and the debt ceiling was raised. Although opinions on the left differ as to how significant the income verification requirement for subsidized insurance policies on the exchanges will prove to be, what is not arguable is that Democrats DID make the concession. I don’t see how that can do anything but embolden the Cruzians, given that they have made it clear they don’t even need tangible signs of success to believe they can get rid of Obamacare by shutting down the government.


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Without Fear of or Favor to Any Person

Marcy Wheeler uses her sharp knife to cut up Keith Alexander’s defense of NSA in the New York Times — and David Sanger and Thom Shanker for repeating most of his lies unchallenged — and eats them both for dinner (quoted in full because Marcy’s masterful dissection cannot be dissected):

Less than 10 days ago, Keith Alexander admitted to Patrick Leahy that the single solitary case in which the phone dragnet proved critical was that of Basaaly Moalin. But that was not an attack. Rather, it was an effort to send money to al-Shabaab (and others) because they were protecting Somalia against a US backed Ethiopian invasion.

And yet two crack “journalists” used this as the lead of their “interview” with Alexander with not a hint of pushback.

The director of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, said in an interview that to prevent terrorist attacks he saw no effective alternative to the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of telephone and other electronic metadata from Americans.

The phone dragnet has never — never! — been more than one tool in preventing any attack, and yet Alexander gets to imply, unchallenged, it is critical going forward.

Instead of actual reporting, we get platitudes like this.

General Alexander was by turns folksy and firm in the interview. But he was unapologetic about the agency’s strict culture of secrecy and unabashed in describing its importance to defending the nation.

That culture is embodied by two installations that greet visitors to Fort Meade. One is a wall to honor N.S.A. personnel killed on overseas missions. The other is a tribute to the Enigma program, the code-breaking success that helped speed the end of World War II and led to the creation of the N.S.A. The intelligence community kept Enigma secret for three decades.

The only thing remotely resembling a challenge came when these “reporters” note Alexander’s claim to have willingly shut down the Internet metadata program (which the NSA has largely kept secret, in spite of having been disclosed) ignores NSA claims it (like the phone dragnet now, purportedly) was critical.

But he said the agency had not told its story well. As an example, he said, the agency itself killed a program in 2011 that collected the metadata of about 1 percent of all of the e-mails sent in the United States. “We terminated it,” he said. “It was not operationally relevant to what we needed.”

However, until it was killed, the N.S.A. had repeatedly defended that program as vital in reports to Congress.

The rest consists of more of the same kind of rebuttal by redefinition. The claim that NSA shares data with Israel is wrong, this “journalism” says, because “the probability of American content in the shared data was extremely small” (which of course says nothing about the way it would violate minimization procedures in any case). The claim that NSA launched 200 offensive cyberattacks in 2011 is wrong because many of those were actually other “electronic missions.” Besides, Alexander claims,

“I see no reason to use offensive tools unless you’re defending the country or in a state of war, or you want to achieve some really important thing for the good of the nation and others,” he said. [my link, for shits and giggles]

We are not now nor were we in 2006 when StuxNet started “in a state of war” with Iran, so how credible are any of these claims?

Mostly though, this appears to be an attempt, four months after highlighting the importance of PRISM against cyberattacks but then going utterly silent about that function, to reassert the importance of NSA’s hacking to prevent hacking.

Even there, though, Alexander presented dubious claims that got no challenge.

General Alexander said that confronting what he called the two biggest threats facing the United States — terrorism and cyberattacks — would require the application of expanded computer monitoring. In both cases, he said, he was open to much of that work being done by private industry, which he said could be more efficient than government.

In fact, he said, a direct government role in filtering Internet traffic into the United States, in an effort to stop destructive attacks on Wall Street, American banks and the theft of intellectual property, would be inefficient and ineffective.

“I think it leads people to the wrong conclusion, that we’re reading their e-mails and trying to listen to their phone calls,” he said.

The NSA already is filtering Internet traffic into the United States (and also searching on and reading incidentally collected Internet traffic without a warrant) under Section 702 certificates supporting counterterrorism, counterproliferation and … cyberattacks.

But nosiree, Alexander can’t envision doing what he’s already doing — and had been doing in a way that violated statute and the Fourth Amendment for three years already by 2011 — in the name of protecting the banksters who’ve gutted our economy. Only all of that — including the retention of US person data in the name of protecting property (presumably including intellectual property) is baked right into the NSA’s minimization procedures.

And that bit about violating Section 702 and the Fourth Amendment for over three years with a practice that was also baked into NSA’s minimization procedures? Here’s the claim the NYT’s crack journalists allow Alexander to end this charade with.

“We followed the law, we follow our policies, we self-report, we identify problems, we fix them,” he said. “And I think we do a great job, and we do, I think, more to protect people’s civil liberties and privacy than they’ll ever know.

And this is the same David Sanger who complained, in a report prepared by the Committee to Protect Journalists, that “this is the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered.” Apparently, Sanger thinks it’s wrong to stonewall reporters but doesn’t feel the need to challenge government sources in his actual reporting.

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October 13, 2013 · 12:22 pm

The GOP’s Messiah Complex

To paraphrase Dana Milbank, the Republican Party is Cruzifying itself.

Lots of good reads on Cruz in the last few days:

  • Josh Barro writes at Business Insider that “Ted Cruz is living on another planet” — and the Tea Party base is more than willing to hang out with him there.
  • This AP article is one of many I’ve seen lately that talk about how fed up establishment Republlicans are with Cruz and his Tea Party fellow crazies. But look at the establishment Republicans they’re quoting by name!

    “It’s time for someone to act like a grown-up in this process,” former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu argues. …

    Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is just as pointed, saying this about the tea party-fueled refusal to support spending measures that include money for Obama’s health care law: “It never had a chance.”
    “At the end of the day, you’re fighting legislation that’s already passed,” said former South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson, describing the fight to defund the health care law as a lost cause.
    “We’re not saying Obama is right. We’re saying what Republicans are doing is wrong,” said Matt Cox, a former executive director of Ohio’s Cuyahoga County GOP.
    Former Illinois state Sen. Laura Douglas wants to believe that the holdouts can win. But she has her doubts.

    “My heart says, `Keep fighting, don’t give up,'” said Douglas, a resident of Quincy in western Illinois. “But my head says, `If we keep this kind of thing up, we’re going to get creamed next year.'”

    The only currently serving Republicans who are willing to go on record are from the Tea Party faction, and obviously they have nothing but kind words for their interplanetary denizens.

The Republican establishment may hate Ted Cruz, but they don’t dare cross him, either. As of October 2 — the second day of the shutdown — 17 House Republicans had gone on record saying they would vote for a clean CR if John Boehner brought it to the floor for a vote. But he wouldn’t then. and he won’t now. House Democrats said they would try to force a vote via a rarely used procedure called a discharge petition, but two House Republicans who had publicly declared they would vote for a clean CR if it came to the House floor — and who have also publicly said such a vote would be successful — refused to support the idea.

Tony Perkins is right. Ted Cruz IS the de facto leader of the Republican Party.


Filed under Breaking News, Politics

Habeas Corpus Is Dead

It was in critical condition until now, but the Supreme Court has just officially ruled it dead.

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Filed under Breaking News, Civil Liberties, Law, Politics

THE Most Tone-Deaf Presidential Candidate EVER

It really isn’t even news anymore that Mitt Romney is completely disconnected from most Americans’ daily reality. He hasn’t got a clue. He’s living in a bubble. He isn’t on the same planet the rest of us live on. His latest? Advising young people who don’t have the money to go to college or start out on their own to borrow money from their parents.

Libby Spencer has THE.BEST.TITLE: “You can rely on the old man’s money.”

I fucking LOVE it.

ABL at Balloon Juice:

Mitt Romney is the most tone-deaf motherfucker to ever run for president. HANDS DOWN.


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Filed under Breaking News, Economy, Politics