The House Oversight Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), filed a civil lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder Monday for what Issa alleges was Holder's failure to cooperate with a congressional subpoena.
Issa promised to sue after the House of Representatives found Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly failing to provide documents related to committee's investigation into the botched ATF operation known as Fast and Furious.
Issa tweeted the news on Sunday night, referring to the civil lawsuit as "charges" against Holder. The lawsuit, filed in D.C. federal court midday Monday, contends that the Justice Department's view of executive privilege goes too far.
"Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the Attorney General's conception of the reach of 'Executive privilege,' were it to be accepted, would cripple congressional oversight of Executive branch agencies, to the very great detriment of the Nation and our constitutional structure," the lawsuit states.
Democrats swiftly condemned the suit as a waste of time and money.
"It seems clear that House Republican leaders do not want to resolve the contempt issue and prefer to generate unnecessary conflict with the administration as the election nears," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the Oversight Committee. "Unfortunately, the American public suffers as House Republicans disregard the real work that needs to be done."
"At a time of scarce resources and record debt, the House is embarking on wasteful litigation against the Justice Department. We know how this will end -- with a settlement that will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousand of dollars in attorneys fees and could have been resolved months ago if the House had been willing," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in a statement. "This litigation will do nothing to shed light on the facts of Fast and Furious, to bring the killers of Agent Brian Terry to justice, or to stem the flow of guns across the border."
The consequences of a contempt resolution are mostly political.
The Justice Department, under both parties, has held that the contempt statute is unenforceable when the president asserts executive privilege.
"I wouldn't be [worried] if I were advising the attorney general, I'd say read the precedents and go about your business. Don't worry about it, it'll be 2014 before this gets resolved," lawyer Stan Brand told TPM.
The lawsuit is embedded below.
Here is the letter from the Marshall County Board of Supervisors asking that the Department of Justice reject the Republican-drawn redistricting plan as violative of Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act:
Marshall County Letter to DOJ
The Board is right. The Republican plan splits Marshall County to hell and gone, and was created without input from those affected. Furthermore, the Republican plan reduces the number of minority influence districts in north Mississippi from 2 to 1. The map is gerrymandered severely in that portion of Mississippi, and it will be interesting to see the DOJ's response.
SARAH PALIN long ago left center stage, with the final death knell her abysmal self-promotion during the aftermath of the Gabby Giffords shooting. Her stature is made smaller by her own efforts, which in an era of competence and women’s prowess rising shows Palin preferring celebrity and sheer flackery over tooling up and gaining knowledge to rehabilitate herself.
So, after being deliberately ignored by the Romney campaign, which is exactly what she deserves, from the Fox News world of Greta Van Susteren comes Sarah’s whisper.
??Everything I said at the 2008 convention about then-candidate Obama still stands today, and in fact the predictions made about the very unqualified and inexperienced Community Organizer?s plans to ?fundamentally transform? our country are unfortunately coming true. This year is a good opportunity for other voices to speak at the convention and I?m excited to hear them. As I?ve repeatedly said, I support Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in their efforts to replace President Obama at the ballot box, and I intend to focus on grassroots efforts to rally Independents and the GOP base to elect Senate and House members so a wise Congress is ready to work with our new President to get our country back on the right path. This is imperative. As President Clinton said in 2008 while candidate Obama and lapdogs in the media were thrashing his wife?s record and reputation, this is ??the biggest fairy tale.? For the sake of America?s solvency and sovereignty we must close this nonsensical book in November??- Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin can pick candidates and perform grass roots wonders among the margins, but with a Republican Party moving towards the reimaging of Reagan in the guise of Paul Ryan, there’s no place for her at the power table. If Romney-Ryan loses, though they’re coming out hard to help define Ryan as warm against the Grinch who Stole Your Medicare image, the party will move even farther away from Sarah’s brand of bloviating. She’s also been out classed by any number of Republican women who at least take themselves seriously enough to put specific issue points over sound bite barks.
Sarah has her fans, but she’s lost respect.
When Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan he delivered the anti-Palin candidate. Yes, Paul Ryan’s budgetary plans are extreme, but they’re detailed, explained and passionately delivered by a man who has religion on them. Strong and wrong beats right and weak, as we saw with George W. Bush, with the Democratic economic message almost non-existent in Pres. Obama’s first term.
With Republican female stars that start with Dr. Condoleezza Rice and include Governors South Carolina Nikki Haley, as well as New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, the first female Hispanic governor in the country, Sarah Palin now looks like a throw back, like one of those souvenirs at a Cracker Barrel outlet you see along the freeway. Remember when?
Paul Ryan may help take Mitt Romney down, though let’s face it, Mitt Romney was doing that on his own before Ryan arrived. Ryan economics is a disastrous road, but that’s the road Romney’s chosen and the one that best represents today’s Republican Party. There’s simply no room for a woman Romney wouldn’t hire if this effort was a business.
photo via Shutterstock
Buck McKeon-- not a laughing matter for women
For one of the most misogynistic members of Congress, Buck McKeon, the decision on whether or not to have an open hearing on rape in the military was easy. No! That?s been the answer given to Protect Our Defenders (POD) and Lt. Paula Coughlin-Puopulo, USN (ret.) who delivered 10,000 signed petitions to McKeon asking for an open investigation into the sexual assaults at Lackland Air Force Base. Some may remember Lt. Coughlin as the whistleblower in the Tailhook Scandal in the early 1990?s where 83 women and 7 men were sexually assaulted in a Las Vegas Hotel. A statement from POD read, ?More than 20 years ago, 87 servicewomen were sexually assaulted while serving in the U.S. Navy, in what became known as the ?Tailhook scandal.? Paula was one of the 87. The former Naval aviator reported the incident to senior officers, but they did nothing. So she went public. Today, Paula is going public again demanding Rep. McKeon open a congressional hearing about Lackland and then legislate fundamental reforms.?
A closed briefing was held instead and one general reportedly asked McKeon not ?to hobble base commanders? in determining how to handle sexual assault cases.
Military sexual assaults have been put back in the spotlight after 38 female Air Force recruits came forward with complaints of sexual assault or rape by instructors at Lackland AFB. Fifteen instructors have been implicated and two already found guilty. One awaits sentencing and another given only 30 days? confinement and a reduction in rank-- a punishment criticized by POD asserting the military doesn?t take these crimes seriously.
A new movie, The Invisible War, by Oscar-nominated director Kirby Dick (trailer below) exposes the epidemic of rape in the military by telling the real stories of victims. The Invisible War won at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Even the preview is enough to anger any American who values our troops.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced H.R. 3435 last year and it is languishing in Rep. McKeon?s Armed Services Committee. We can help Protect Our Defenders by signing their petition here. And, as always, you can help to get that misogynistic carbuncle, Buck McKeon fired by supporting his opponent Dr. Lee Rogers, a doctor outspoken on women?s issues and on the myth that women are doing just fine and shattering the glass ceiling without any help from anyone. Rogers has two young daughters and he and his wife are raising them in a spirit that doesn't recognize any glass ceilings or Bronze Age patriarchal taboos. In his book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About The Economy, Joshua Holland also takes on that myth, explaining that although the gender pay gap doesn?t appear immediately, right after college, when young women earn pretty much the same salaries as their male counterparts and that now more women than men are earning college degrees, the glass ceiling is still very much in play in the U.S. There's a widespread belief that once women achieve a critical mass in the lower echelons of corporate management, they?ll begin to move up the ?pipeline,? eventually achieving something like parity in the nation?s executive suites, writes Holland. "According to the theory, senior management is just that-- senior-- and even if women hold very few of the top positions today, the next generation of movers and shakers will naturally be a more diverse crowd. But in 2010, a major study by Catalyst, a nonprofit business consulting group, suggested that the pipeline that many have been counting on is in fact a myth."
Rather than look at the average salaries of all men and women... researchers Nancy Carter and Christine Silva studied the subset of the population that is most likely to end up becoming tomorrow?s corporate leaders-- ?high potential women and men MBAs for whom much was paid and from whom much was expected.? They were the ?best and the brightest,? having gotten advanced degrees ?at twenty-six leading business schools in Asia, Canada, Europe, and the United States? between 1996 and 2007.
What they found was that the women in this rarified group fell behind the men right away and stayed behind during the early years of their careers:
Among this highly talented group, women lag men in advancement and compensation from their very first professional jobs and are less satisfied with their careers overall. Furthermore, women are more likely to have left their first post-MBA job because of a difficult manager and to have paid a penalty for pursuing a nontraditional career pathway, such as working in the nonprofit, government, or education sectors; being self-employed; or working part time before returning to work full time in a company or a firm.
The researchers found that even ?after taking into account number of years of experience, industry, and global region,? women ?still were more likely than men to start in a first post-MBA job at a lower level.? Right out of business school, men were given more responsibility and earned an average of $4,600 more than their female counterparts did.
When men and women started at similarly low positions, men got promoted faster and had an easier time moving up the ladder. And whatever their starting salaries, men saw greater increases than women did in their first years after earning an MBA.
It?s been argued that men and women have different aspirations and exhibit different degrees of ambition. Yet the researchers found that the results were the same even when they looked only at those who said they aspired to be CEOs. And they adjusted for childbearing, finding that the pattern remained the same when they looked only at men and women who hadn?t yet had children.
After testing every possible explanation for the differing outcomes, what they were left with was old-school sexism. ?I was shocked,? Catalyst CEO Ilene Lang told ABC News when asked about the findings. ?This really ate away, undermined my confidence that important change had taken place.?
Lang called the study an important wake-up call for young women who thought the battle for equality in the workplace had been fought and won by their mothers. ?We?ve raised them to think they can do anything,? she said. ?There are still a lot of inequities. They need to be armed and vigilant.?
A new documentary profiles the young men and women who fought the government when it did little to nothing to address the AIDS epidemic. The film, How To Survive A Plague, has been hailed as “an epic celebration of heroism and tenacity” and reminds how the brave ACT UP activists inspired not only a future of protesters (like Occupy Wall Street), but had a huge impact on the entire field of medical research. Watch the trailer:
Despite a nationwide effort by the right-wing to perpetuate the myth that voter impersonation is a serious problem, a new study by News21 once again confirms that it remains virtually non-existent in the United States.
The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters.
The News21 report is based on a national public-records search in which reporters sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of alleged fraudulent activity ? including registration fraud; absentee-ballot fraud; vote buying; false election counts; campaign fraud; the casting of ballots by ineligible voters, such as felons and non-citizens; double voting; and voter impersonation.
The analysis found that there is more alleged fraud in absentee ballots and voter registration than in any of the other categories. The analysis shows 491 cases of alleged absentee ballot fraud and 400 cases involving registration fraud. Requiring voters to show identification at the polls ? the crux of most of the new legislation ? would not have prevented those cases.
The analysis also found that more than 46 percent of the reported election fraud allegations resulted in acquittals, dropped charges or decisions not to bring charges.
Requiring voters to present government-issued photo IDs would do next-to-nothing to stop voter fraud, could cost the states millions, and could disenfranchise millions of legitimate citizen voters. But, as more and more Republicans are admitting, they could accomplish their real aim: disenfranchising enough Democrats to win elections for Republicans.
During the Republican primary, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney promised to pick a running mate who is just as anti-abortion as he is, and he seems to have found that in Paul Ryan. ?I?m as pro-life as a person gets,? Ryan, who is Roman Catholic, told the Weekly Standard in 2010.
The Republican from Wisconsin has cast 59 anti-choice votes on abortion and reproductive rights issues during his seven terms in Congress. From supporting restrictive limitations on abortion services to restricting military women’s access to abortion care, Ryan’s record firmly establishes him as an anti-choice politician. Here are five of his extreme positions everyone should know about:
1. Ryan co-sponsored a ?personhood? amendment that would give legal rights to a fetus starting at conception. Ryan joined 62 other Republicans in co-sponsoring the Sanctity of Human Life Act, an anti-abortion measure declaring that a fertilized egg ?shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.? This would outlaw abortion, some forms of contraception and in-vitro fertilization.
2. Ryan supports banning all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. In addition to his support of the personhood amendment, Ryan won his congressional seat in 1998 by emphasizing his opposition to all abortions without exceptions. But this puts him at odds with Mitt Romney, who has said he would allow exceptions in cases or rape and incest.
3. Ryan voted to ban abortion coverage from being included in the state health insurance exchanges. The Stupak amendment that Ryan backed would have prevented women from purchasing plans that cover abortion services through the exchanges set up under Obamacare — even when using their own funds.
4. Ryan compared Roe v. Wade to the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision. “Twice in the past the U.S. Supreme Court?charged with being the guardian of rights?has failed so drastically in making this crucial determination that it ‘disqualified’ a whole category of human beings, with profoundly tragic results,” Ryan wrote in 2010. After the 1857 case, Dred Scott v. Sandford, “the second time the Court failed in a case regarding the definition of ?human? was in Roe v. Wade in 1973,” he added.
5. Ryan has supported defunding Planned Parenthood. In 2011, he voted for an amendment that would block Planned Parenthood and the health care organization’s affiliates from receiving any funds in a 2011 continuing appropriations bill.
NBC did not exactly earn itself warm fuzzies from the Olympic audience it hopes to entice to its new fall series last night when the network interrupted coverage of the London closing ceremonies to preview Animal Practice, its new sitcom starring Justin Kirk as Dr. George Coleman, a veterinarian in the Gregory House model, JoAnna Garcia Swisher as Dorothy, the woman who owns the hospital where he works, and Crystal the Monkey, who receives third billing on the show as Dr. Rizzo, a primate with a medical license, or at least, a tiny ambulance and sets of scrubs. That billing is important. As NBC tries to retool itself, the network is offering up shows for the Law & Order set in Chicago Fire, the CBS set in Guys With Kids, and the Glee set with Ryan Murphy’s sitcom The New Normal. Go On, which did a test premiere last week to generally strong ratings, is its effort to make the Community formula emotionally accessible to a broader audience. Animal Practice, which comes from Community producers Anthony and Joe Russo, feels a bit like a vengeful slap at that sitcom’s audience, a “You wanted smart and spiky and weird? Fine. We’ll give you smart and spiky and weird. And a monkey.”
Part of the problem with the show is George himself. I love me some Justin Kirk, but it’s tiresome to watch him play yet another TV asshole whose jerkdom is meant to be excusable and adorable because Dorothy dumped him after he failed to provide basic emotional reciprocity in their relationship. In Community, the self-sabotage and self-deception that landed Jeff Winger at Greendale was fascinating?why would an obviously talented man fake his college degree when he could have easily graduated? In Go On, Ryan’s grieving his wife, giving the problems he’s trying to face some actual emotional heft. But it’s hard for me to sympathize with a jerk who pain comes from immaturity rather than a deep wronging or a reckoning with the way he’s brought harm upon himself. It’s not really charming or awesome to watch George offer to sleep with a depressed patient whose even more depressed cat tried to commit suicide, as happens in the opening to the show: I’m not really in the mood to celebrate George’s skills as a lothario before I even have any sense of whether I like him or not.
Beyond innuendo and crankiness towards Dorothy, it seems George’s schtick is using animal science to diagnose the people around him. He tells Doug, his newly-single and down-at-the-mouth colleague that he needs to reestablish his primacy. “I’m not a primate,” Doug grouses. “I live in Brooklyn, I get my food from Fresh Direct, I have opposable thumbs.” But he lets George take him girl-shopping based on what dogs women are taking to the park, and later, George hooks Doug up, which I suppose is what counts for altruism in the show. It’s not a terrible joke, but it’s not transformatively clever, either. In place of Community’s commentary on pop culture, Animal Practice has the doctors betting on horse races that include some of their former patients, and betting on turtle races where the hamsters act as jockeys. The latter, in particular, and Rizzo’s presence are cute and memeable, but adorable animal juxtapositions do not a show make unless you’re the National Geographic Channel.
And the animals are used more creatively than the humans. Animal Practice, like Go On, has the virtue of an extremely diverse cast, but falls immediately into stereotype humor. Kim Whitely is Juanita, the African-American nurse who keeps George and Dorothy’s menagerie of a hospital running with some semblance of order. Betsy Sodaro is Angela, who because she is somewhat heavier and less conventionally pretty than Swisher, must by the laws of dumb comedy be oversexed, weird, and loud. “I am not peeing in a cup unless it’s for money. Or love,” she tells Dorothy. And as Dr. Yamomoto, Bobby Lee is moderately less stereotypical than Matthew Moy’s Han Lee on 2 Broke Girls, though that may simply be because he’s a doctor rather than a diner owner and because Animal Practice hasn’t been on the air long enough to joke about his penis. Animal Practice literally has him tell Dorothy “You’re a really bad lady. You’re worse than my wife. But you’re really sexy,” as if being Asian-American means that you can achieve a veterinary degree but only basic command of English.
I don’t like to judge comedies on their pilots, but Animal Practice is throwing up a lot of warning signs for me. A diverse cast should be a chance to have a richer show, rather than to check boxes and revert to stereotype humor. Jerks need justification, and to be humbled sometimes. And if the biggest selling point on your show is a monkey, that doesn’t show much trust in your stories about humans, or the talented people who have agreed to play them.
If you’d like to be more persuasive, buy my new book Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga in paperback (click here) or Kindle (click here).
For the past quarter century — since my first published article on Shakespeare in 1988 — I have studied the secrets of the greatest communicators in history. In this book, I show how you can apply these tools to your writing, speaking, blogging ? even your Tweeting. I also discuss the latest social science research on how to be more persuasive and memorable.
One of the greatest speech-makers in the progressive movement gave me this jacket quote after reading a draft of the book two years ago:
Van Jones: “This book changed my life, and it can change yours, too. Joe Romm understands the secrets of persuasion and messaging and he has distilled them into this must-read book.?
As I say in the book’s opening line, “This book will change the way you speak and listen.” I believe that this book will change the lives of some significant fraction of those who buy it and read it — those who take its principles to heart and seek to master them.
I decided to give away the most important secret of blogging (and tweeting) in the book, which you can find in the excerpt at the Amazon Kindle page (click here and then hit “Click to Look Inside”).
This is easily my best book ever and by far my best written book as I apply the secrets of effective communications to the very writing of the book, something that took me years and years to achieve and the input of many, many editors.
Bill McKibben: “Joe Romm is one of the best communicators we have. This book is the essential hand-book for anyone who wants to be more effective or more persuasive.
Everyone who has read this book so far loves it, and I will be reprinting a bunch of rave reviews and sweet tweets here this week.
Heidi Cullen just posted a great review at Climate Central:
I would give you a money-back guarantee if there were an easy way to do it, but since I can’t, you’ll just have to take the word of Van Jones and Bill McKibben and Heidi Cullen for now. Or go read the Introduction and much of the first chapter here.
Finally, for those who want to go beyond just becoming more persuasive and help me maximize sales this week to get the best Amazon rank: You can retweet or repost this post — the headline was designed to reach many different audiences via Twitter. You can also buy both the $14.99 paperback (click here) and $9.99 Kindle (click here). The Kindle has active links for all of the chapters and the footnotes, which include links to many of the great speeches of all time and much of the recent social science research on persuasive speech and writing. You’ll want that extra copy of the book to give away to a friend or family member who communicates for living.
Click here to view this media
From our friends at The Political Carnival: Did Reince Priebus say that neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan are fully qualified to be president?.
As they noted, Rachel Maddow tweeted this about her appearance on Meet the Press this Sunday:
Here's how Priebus finished up his interview with Gregory:
DAVID GREGORY: Final question. Is he ready on day one?
REINCE PRIEBUS: He's absolutely ready on day one. And the fact of the matter is that's the threshold test. And he needs that test.
DAVID GREGORY: No foreign policy experience. No private--
REINCE PRIEBUS: Well--
DAVID GREGORY: --sector experience?
REINCE PRIEBUS: I think 14 years in Congress, many trips overseas, many trips over in the Middle East. I think Mitt Romney's leadership, Mitt Romney's diversity, at the Olympics, as governor, as someone who understands international business, I think combined these guys are ready on day one and they're the comeback team and they're going to help save this country.
Sorry Reince but as Rachel tweeted, that's not how it works.