A news report challenges the Justice Department claims that the mortgage fraud task force was up and running. It suggests the co-chair, Eric Schneiderman still has no office and there are no phones or staff that anyone can find.[...]
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Why are Republicans waging a war on the Church?You know how Republicans in Congress believe all of our laws should be Catholic Church-approved, right? Well, all of our laws regarding lady parts, anyway. Other stuff, like, say, the federal budget ... meh, not so much.
Seems like only yesterday, Republicans couldn't stop shoving bishops in front of cameras to explain why women's health care is immoral. But now that the bishops have some strong words for Republicans on their immoral budget to screw the poor, Republicans are sticking their fingers in their ears and saying, "Lalalalalala, we can't hear you." In fact, House Republicans would prefer the bishops shut up and stop talking about morality:
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) chastised Catholic bishops at a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill, saying they needed to look at the bigger picture after they complained that the GOP budget plan fails to meet "moral criteria."Gosh, it's not so fun when the Catholic bishops call you out for being immoral, is it?
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is criticizing the House Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan for cutting food stamps and other assistance programs for the poor.The bishops sent this letter after Rep. Paul Ryan gave a rather bizarre interview, in which he claimed that he's "using [his] Catholic faith" to justify cutting, for example, food stamps. Because, he says, that's how to "help people get out of poverty out onto life of independence."
In a letter sent to the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, the bishops say the budget fails to meet certain ?moral criteria? by disproportionately cutting programs that ?serve poor and vulnerable people.?
The bishops disagreed:
[T]he bishops urged lawmakers to reject "unacceptable cuts to hunger and nutrition" programs for "moral and human reasons." [...] Lawmakers should "protect essential programs that serve poor and hungry people over subsidies that assist large and relatively well-off agricultural enterprises," said the letter, signed by Bishop Stephen E. Blaire.
"Cuts to nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment. These cuts are unjustified and wrong."
SNAP happens to be one of the programs Republicans plan to cut in order to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and to give the Pentagon more money than it even wants. If Paul Ryan, John Boehner, and their fellow Republican Catholics in Congress think we should be following the moral dictates of the Church, they might want to reconsider those Church-endorsed programs that bishops say address "the needs of the hungry, the homeless and the unemployed first" and "reflect the shared responsibility of government and other institutions to promote the common good of all, especially 'workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.'"
After all, it's what Jesus would want.
Apparently, being under investigation by the Secret Service doesn't worry Ted Nugent one bit, because he went on CNN's Dana Loesch's radio show and threw more poo from his cage.
"I'm a black Jew at a Nazi-Klan rally," the rock star complained to Loesch. "And there are some power-abusing, corrupt monsters in our federal government that despise me because I have the audacity to speak the truth...I spoke at the NRA and will stand by my speech. It's 100 percent positive. It's about we the people taking back our American dream from the corrupt monsters in the federal government under this administration, the communist czars he has appointed."
He's at a Nazi-Klan, rally to be sure. But..."communist czars?"
Nugent also compared Wasserman Schultz and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to "varmints."
"Varmints are sometimes clever, but they're really easy to outmaneuver," Nugent said, before calling Pelosi a "sub-human scoundrel."
Apparently, the irony of casting himself as a victim of "Nazis" while railing against sub-human communist vermin is lost on him.
Here's what needs to happen next.
Barack Obama's campaign should call on Mitt Romney to reject and denounce these recent comments. The Democrats in the House should call on John Boehner to reject and denounce these comments. Every elected Republican or GOP operator near a microphone should be asked to reject and denounce these comments. Democrats should be in front of the cameras asking why Republicans are tolerating hate speech like this in their party, and they should keep doing it until the GOP says "Uncle" and they hate the sound of Ted Nugent's voice.
That's the correct playbook. Will they run it?
The Sunlight Foundation looked at the eight companies that spent the most on lobbying and found that all of them saw their reported tax rates drop. This drop in tax rates effectively reduced the taxes the companies paid in 2010 by $11.2 billion.[...]
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Ohio Planned Parenthood, and women, to the back of the busOhio Republicans want to get rid of Planned Parenthood but apparently don't want to get into the kind of trouble Texas did and lose Medicaid funding for women's health altogether. So they've figured out an end run that is defunding Planned Parenthood by default:
Under the proposal, local health departments get the top funding priority, followed by federally qualified community health centers, private care centers and, last, Planned Parenthood.So it's Texas-lite, and a pretty sneaky way to try to avoid a complete cut-off of federal funds for women's health care.
?We refer to it as defunding Planned Parenthood because a lot of the money, in fact, will go to the top three, but it doesn?t preclude Planned Parenthood, at the end of the day, from receiving money,? said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life.
This is a little like Mitt Romney's people explaining how taking funding away from Planned Parenthood isn't really defunding.
Ohio Republicans are trickier, and better, at it. But that's probably because the apparent spokesman for the Ohio House Republicans is the president of Ohio Right to Life, and he doesn't need to pretend he's not waging a war on women.
The hits just keep on coming. Here's Nugent back in 1990, quoted in the Detroit Free Press magazine:
In the same interview Nugent expounded on his racial views, "I use the word n----r a lot because I hang around with a lot of n----rs, and they use the word n----r, and I tend to use words that communicate...."So "they" like to be called that. Good to know.
One of the reasons Trayvon Martin’s death has struck such a chord is that his killing adds another young black man to a tragic pantheon that includes Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo, and it gives the sense that learning lessons from one of these deaths doesn’t give us what we need to prevent the next one. Telling a young black man to respect the cops as the mother in Bruce Springsteen’s “41 Shots,” his remembrance of Diallo and now Martin, does doesn’t save that boy from a vigilante with a gun and the backing of a Stand Your Ground law. And it’s easy, because there are differences in these cases, to focus on them as individuals, rather than examining the sense of anger and entitlement that motivate both people like George Zimmerman and the cops who killed Diallo, and Bell, and Grant.
So in that light, I’m glad to see that a project from writer and director Ryan Coogler about the last day of Oscar Grant’s life is coming together, starring Michael B. Jordan, who should be considered a major, major talent, as Grant, and produced by Forest Whitaker. And I’m particularly glad that because Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer is involved, playing Grant’s mother, people will be required to pay attention to the movie rather than dismissing it as some sort of angry, marginal indie. The format of the movie will apparently follow Grant through the last day of his life, meaning that it will be framed in such a way to build sympathy between the audience and someone who will be murdered by its end, rather than offering up a black man as a vehicle for the exploration of a cop’s psyche and morals.
And in a sense, Spencer’s presence will make a valuable point for audiences who see both movies: black families face the same risk of seeing their children legally murdered today that they faced sixty years ago. The risks are different in intensity, the avenues to pursue justice and reform somewhat more accessible. But they’re still there. The Help did a major disservice to its audience in adapting the book in a way that removed images of white violence against blacks, whether it’s the details of protagonist Aibileen Clark’s son’s death or the beating a young black man suffers for accidentally using the wrong bathroom that leaves him blinded. It was a movie that allowed white viewers to escape any complicity with racism, and then made sure they didn’t have to confront the most revolting consequences of racism either. Hopefully, this movie will honor Oscar Grant by making neither of those mistakes.
A ThinkProgress review of campaign finance records reveals that Mitt Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC was among the largest donors to Kris Kobach’s successful 2010 campaign for Kansas Secretary of State. Romney’s PAC contributed $2,000 to the anti-immigrant hardliner’s campaign. Only Kobach himself and six other donors contributed more. Kobach, who is currently advising Romney on immigration issues, is the author of the highly controversial and harmful Arizona and Alabama immigration laws. Today, Kobach told the Washington Post that he expected Romney to rule out any immigration measure that granted any form of legal status to undocumented immigrants.
Last year, Senate Republicans tried to effectively repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by refusing to confirm anyone President Obama nominated to lead that agency. In response to this attempt to sabotage the new agency, Obama recess appointed Richard Cordray over the Senate GOP’s objections, and he also recess appointed several people to the National Labor Relations Bureau to prevent a likely filibuster of those officials from shutting down that agency as well.
Needless to say, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is not happy that President Obama thwarted his power grab, so he’s once again trying to get judges to roll back decisions made by the people the American people elected to govern:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that his conference has hired conservative attorney Miguel A. Estrada to file a brief in a case brought by Noel Canning, a Washington state businessman who operates a bottling company. Canning plans to challenge an NLRB ruling that said his company must establish a collective bargaining agreement with a labor union.
McConnell once again called Obama?s appointments an ?unconstitutional action? and said his colleagues had been seeking a strong legal challenge to the appointments to support.
McConnell’s legal arguments are not strong. Although the Senate minority claimed that it could thwart recess appointments by having a single senator hold a pretend Senate session every three days, the Senate simply does not have the power to block appointments simply by hosting a meeting in the Neighborhood of Make Believe. As two of President George W. Bush’s top constitutional advisors explained in 2010, the Senate is in recess when it is ?not capable of acting on the president?s nominations.? Because no nominees can actually be confirmed in a make believe session, these fake sessions do not defeat Obama’s recess appointment’s power.
Moreover, even if they did count as real sessions, it’s not at all clear that the Senate was not in recess during the three days between the pretend meetings. As the highest federal court to consider the question explained in Evans v. Stephens, “[t]he Constitution, on its face, does not establish a minimum time that an authorized break in the Senate must last to give legal force to the President?s appointment power under the Recess Appointments Clause. And we do not set the limit today.”
Ultimately, however, this case is likely to turn less upon what the Constitution actually permits than on the outcome of the high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The case against health reform is significantly weaker than the case against Obama’s recess appointments. Nearly 200 years of Supreme Court precedent conclusively establish that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, not to mention the text of the Constitution itself. In the words of Judge Laurence Silberman, a leading conservative who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush, the case against the ACA has no basis ?in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent.?
Yet despite the fact that the health care challenge is so weak that it borders on frivolous, several of the Supreme Court’s conservatives appeared more interested in doing the Republican Party’s bidding than they did in actually following the law when the health care case was argued last month. If the justices ultimately strike down the Affordable Care Act, they will send a clear signal to every judge in the country that the Constitution does not apply any more when there is an opportunity to embarrass Barack Obama.
So Mitch McConnell might have a chance of winning his case after all — at least if the judiciary decides to put partisan politics ahead of the law.
On Friday, LGBT students and their allies will participate in the GLSEN-organized Day of Silence as a form of protest for the anti-gay and anti-trans bullying abuse that takes place in schools every day. Tomorrow, however, is the conservative Christian response, Focus on the Family’s ironically-named Day of Dialogue (formerly “Day of Truth”), which encourages students to express God’s condemnation of homosexuality to their gay peers. Over the past week, various anti-gay groups have promoted the Day of Dialogue’s harmful message while decrying the Day of Silence as anti-Christian intolerance that children shouldn’t be exposed to. Here are some examples:
Indeed, all of Focus on the Family’s materials on the Day of Dialogue encourage students to use the Bible to condemn homosexuality as “broken” and promote ex-gay therapy that is known to be traumatic and ineffective. Given the overt antipathy encouraged against any LGBT-inclusive information, the day is perhaps better described as a Day of Monologue. This is a concerted effort to paint blatant in-school evangelism as welcome free speech and the stark silence of LGBT awareness as indoctrination, intolerance, and an unprotected disruption to school activities.
The Day of Dialogue is nothing short of encouragement to bully. Even if DoD participants do not attack or harass their targets, the stigma they encourage through condemning homosexuality helps maintain an unsafe climate for students with consequences that can last a lifetime. Students who have experienced prejudice-motivated bullying and victimization are more likely to attempt suicide, become clinical depression, or contract a sexually transmitted disease by early adulthood. In fact, simple exposure to stigma can increase the chances that LGBT teens experience suicidal thinking throughout the rest of their lives. Even living in a community that generally has socially conservative anti-gay attitudes can increase the suicide risk not just for gay, lesbian, and bi teens, but their straight peers as well. Minority stress also contributes to higher rates of substance abuse in the LGBT community, one of many negative consequences that can be mitigated by having gay-straight alliances in schools.
The Day of Dialogue is a direct attack on our nation’s youth, a campaign to impose not just religion in schools, but harassment, shame, and a lifetime of consequences. Not only do social conservatives oppose visible day of silence, they don’t want there to be a place in our schools for LGBT students at all.