A loophole in the STOCK Act would render it fairly meaningless. If you remember, the STOCK Act was the bill that rocketed to passage after allegations of insider trading among members of Congress, using at times non-public information to profit off of[...]
Read The Full Article:
Overall in June, Mitt Romney outraised President Obama by $35 million, $106 million to $71 million. But as I explained on Wednesday, those numbers only tell part of the story.
Today, we learned that just $33 million of Romney's $106 million haul went directly to his campaign. The remaining $73 million went to the RNC and its affiliated committees. Why did so much more money go to the RNC? Well, the maximum donation to the Romney Victory Fund is $75,000?but only $5,000 of that goes to Romney's campaign. The remaining $70,000 goes to the RNC and its affiliated committees.
Because Romney's fundraising is so top heavy, most of his money goes to the RNC. That's important to understand because the party money is less useful than the campaign money. Every dollar in excess of $21 million that goes to the party cannot be legally spent in coordination with the campaign. It must be spent through an independent expenditure committee. Assuming Romney and the RNC follow the law, that will make message coordination very difficult. Moreover, while Romney (as a candidate) qualifies for discounted ad rates, the independent expenditure committee does not.
President Obama faces the same rules, but his fundraising is less top heavy than Romney's. In fact, he actually raised more money for his campaign?$46 million?than Romney did. His campaign also has far more cash in the bank: $97.5 million to Romney's $22.5 million. The president raised $25 million for the DNC and its own independent effort, and their cash on hand probably trails Romney's, but again, that money is less valuable on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
Bottom-line: Romney still had a better overall fundraising month, but the gap is nowhere near as large as the top line numbers make it seem.
So maybe it is all about disenfranchising minorities, just maybe?
A new National Agenda Opinion Poll by the University of Delaware?s Center for Political Communication reveals support for voter identification laws is strongest among Americans who harbor negative sentiments toward African Americans.The study finds that racial resentment trumps party affiliation and political attitudes. While they found Republicans and conservatives overwhelmingly support voter suppression (because that's what they do), they found that Democrats and liberals "with the highest 'racial resentment'" also express strong support for the laws.
Voter ID laws require individuals to show government issued identification when they vote. The survey findings support recent comments by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who portrayed a Texas photo ID law now being challenged as similar to poll taxes used in the Jim Crow era, primarily by Southern states, to block African Americans from voting. Holder pledged to oppose ?political pretexts? which, he said, ?disenfranchise? black voters.
These laws disproportionately hit minorities.
1.2 million eligible black voters and 500,000 eligible Hispanic voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. People of color are more likely to be disenfranchised by these laws since they are less likely to have photo ID than the general population.That's the whole point.
Between 1989 and 2010, the top 1 percent of the population went from holding 30.1 percent of the wealth to 34.5 percent, while the bottom 50 percent went from having 3 percent of the wealth to having just 1.1 percent. That's right: In 2010, 50 percent of Americans had 1.1 percent of the total net worth (PDF), according to the Congressional Research Service. The share of wealth held by the next 40 percent of people, up to the 90th percentile, had also dropped, from 29.9 percent to 24.3 percent. Put another way (and it's stunning however you look at it), 10 percent of people have 74.5 percent of the wealth.
The median and mean household net worth dropped considerably between 2007 and 2010, but even as both dropped, inequality increased, with the median?the amount of wealth that half of people have more than and half of people have less than?dropping by 38.8 percent, while the mean?the amount you get when you add up all the wealth and divide it by the number of people?lost just 14.4 percent. That means that the amount everyone would have if wealth were distributed equally went from being 4.6 times the amount the person actually in the middle has to being 6.5 times that number.
So: Prior to the financial crisis and the recession, there was massive inequality in America. Following the financial crisis and the recession, there is a Grand Canyon of inequality in America. For good reason, we talk a lot about how much of the wealth the top 1 percent have. We talk less about how little the bottom 50 percent have, but think about what it means that 50 percent of people have just over 1 percent of the money. Forget all the definitions you've heard of who is in the underclass. We're on track to have "underclass" and "majority" be synonyms. And the Republicans have got a guy running for president who wants to speed the process.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's scurrilous (John McCain's word, not mine) accusation that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Islamic, American-born aide used her position to secretly support the Muslim Brotherhood was the straw that finally broke the camel's back for one-time Bachmann campaign aid Ed Rollins who, in a blistering letter to Fox News, scolded his former client for her "false" and "far-fetched" claims against Clinton's long-time top staffer, warning that unless Republicans pushed back against contemptible bile like this the GOP was in danger of becoming "the party of intolerance and hate."
A veteran of California Republican politics and National Campaign Director for the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1984, Ed Rollins is one of the gray beards in GOP politics. He says "there is little that amazes me and even less that shocks me." But Bachmann's "unsubstantiated," "extreme" and "dishonest" charges against, Huma Abedin, was the exception.
"Having worked for Congressman Bachmann's campaign for president, I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts," said Rollins. "But this is downright vicious and reaches the late Senator Joe McCarthy level."
Rollins recommended that, as penance, Bachmann prostrate herself on the floor of the House (well, stand anyway) and apologize to Abedin and to Secretary Clinton "and to the millions of hard working, loyal, Muslim Americans for your wild and unsubstantiated charges."
Rollins said that since Bachmann was a "devoted Christian" she needed to ask forgiveness for her "grievous lack of judgment and reckless behavior." Rollins concluded: "Shame on you, Michele!"
Sadly, I did not have to go farther than my own Facebook page to see that Rollins was right - about Republicans becoming the party of "intolerance and hate" I mean.
A friend had linked to an urban legend that's been around for awhile and was being promoted by an obscene right wing website called "I pledge allegiance to my country, not my President" whose idea of cleverness is a picture of the UN logo perforated with bullet holes and a poster showing a car with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, with the caption: "When the shooting finally starts, don't forget the drivers of these cars. Obama is only the symptom. THEY are the problem."
The apocryphal story promoted by this site has been knocking around since at least 2008. It tells of a US Marine in between assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan who was attending a college course taught by "an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU."
One day, the professor shocks his class when he says: "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you exactly 15 minutes."
The class falls silent. 10 minutes go by. Nothing. The professor then says: "Here I am God, I am still waiting."
As the 15 minutes were about to expire, the marine gets out of his seat, walks up to the professor and cold-cocks him, knocking him off the platform. When the shaken professor comes to he asks the marine: "What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you do that?"
The marine calmly replies: "God was too busy today protecting American troops who are protecting your right to say stupid shit and act like an asshole. So, he sent me."
The deafening roars of "Ooh-rah!" and "Semper Fi!" could be heard from the 2,100 or so readers who "liked" the story. Only a handful of the hundreds who commented seemed to grasp the horrible irony of people cheering a US Marine putting his life on the line to defend our constitutional right to speak our mind who then cold-cocks the first person who exercises that right by saying something that offends him.
Most of the rest were like these:
Derric Donaldson: AMEN!!!!!!!!!
John Todd: Good for him he did it. It's too bad that there aren't more like him.
Maurie Ock: Way to go!
Bob August: Pledge to uphold the constitution, not the Kenyan born muslim in chief.
Erika Vogel Hoffman: Great. How many of us have felt like doing that to teachers and profs who say idiotic things and expect you to believe them?
Donald Wall: Let's hope that America wakes up and sees this socialistic dictator for what he really is and rids this country of the most reviled president in history.
Frank Villegas: God bless the Military...
Peggy Balcom: We all need to do God's work whatever, wherever. Amen!
Susan Ward: AMEN! It is hard to believe that people are so stupid as to not believe in GOD and see all the miracles he does.
Ann Vamplew Griffiths: Amen to that. You gotta love a Marine,:)
Byron White: God, I love it..What else can you say..Give that marine a bigasshug. from me.
Mary Simms: How many times have we wanted to do something like that? I am glad the Marine had the courage to do it. His statement says it all.
Butch Gunnin: I'm gonna share this one ..... See who reads every word of it...Lmao !!!
Stephen Smith: God acts in mysterious ways....doesn't he?
Sam Brandt III: YES! I have read this many times and no matter how many times I will still love it!!! Yippiieee for the Marines, Our Army USAF and Navy. Never has one Country been blessed with such an Amazing Military to defend it from Evil. May God continue to Bless everyone of them past Present and future. Our Veterans who stand as a reminder of our past. The Spouses, families and Friends of those who serve.
Karan Chambley Chaffin: Good for him!!
Sean Free: That rocks and is so true thanks to all the troops and may god bless y'all. I'm stealing this bro.
Laura Denney Tabor: I hope that is a true story. Love that!
Emily Walsh: Awesome. Ooh-rah!!!!
Doug Howard: Freakin' awesome!
Charleen Owen: That's awsomeee!!!
David Schwartz: Works for me!
Ken Wiseman: Anyone who disagrees with this should be given the right to leave the country-if they refuse they should agree with it or be deported.
The house-of-mirrors vertigo the reader suffers after hearing so many people applaud free speech at the very instant they so obviously cheer its curtailment, is just one manifestation of a right wing conservative movement that likes to adorn itself in patriotic red, white and blue while espousing values and ideas that are so clearly undemocratic, or worse.
Another familiar feature of this incoherence is the standard reply you get from conservatives whenever their ideas or behavior are challenged, even from one of their own. Instead of defending their conservative ideas honestly and openly, the right prefers to play word games and accuse their liberal antagonists of hypocritically betraying their own liberal tolerance by not more openly welcoming non-liberal, or even illiberal, points of view that are in many cases hateful, violent and - like those expressed on the website mentioned above -- borderline fascist.
The incoherence and inconsistency occurs because the radical right cannot speak openly or plainly about its real intentions, which is to move American democracy in much more economically, socially and politically authoritarian directions.
This, more than anything else, explains the laconic nature of a Mitt Romney presidential campaign that hopes to win the election by default and by remaining mute as to what its candidate intends or even who he is.
Ideas do not "cause" people to act but that does not mean they are politically insignificant, for "there is no behavior without ideas, without language," writes historian Gordon Wood in his new book, The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States.
"Ideas and language give meaning to our actions," he says, "and there is almost nothing we humans do to which we do not attribute meaning. These meanings constitute our ideas, our beliefs our ideology and, collectively, our culture."
What this means in practical terms, says Wood, is that since "democracy" is a highly valued concept in our society - maybe the highest -- political antagonists will compete to wrap their actions and agendas, however controversial, in the appealing "democratic" label. But if the deed does not match the word - if those who oppose our actions are able to convince others that our agenda is in fact "undemocratic" - then we are inhibited in behaving as we prefer.
"It is in this sense that culture - the collection of meanings available to us - both limits and creates behavior by forcing us to describe our actions in its terms," says Wood.
Do you understand now why Frank Luntz makes the big bucks?
Nevertheless, "democracy" in America is not universally acclaimed. There is not just one American political "tradition," but several, and not every one of them subscribes to the notion that all men are created or that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The sorry spectacle of the Gilded Age robber barons and their protectors on the reactionary Supreme Court offered just one example of a radical break with even the rudiments of democracy we've enjoyed. And even early American colonial society, writes Wood, "was a lot more hierarchical and patriarchal" than is generally allowed.
Pity the poor aristocrat, then, who must hide his true mossback nature as he twists and turns trying to translate his reactionary beliefs into democratic terms, or makes a fool of himself pretending to be a "man of the people" as did those upper-class Whigs who tried to impersonate the unwashed masses during the famous "log cabin and hard cider" election of 1840.
But the truth is, you can't fully appreciate the changes that have overtaken American politics over the last 30 years unless you understand that, for more than a generation, wealthy billionaires like Charles and David Koch, who were traumatized by the upheavals of the 1960s, who were appalled by the progressive political assumptions that underlay the New Deal and Great Society, and who have ultimately lost faith in democracy as a form of government capable of protecting their property and preserving their position atop the American hierarchy, are now assiduously trying to undermine that democracy - without anybody being the wiser.
Think voter disenfranchisement as fraud control and the tens of untraceable millions in campaign donations thanks to Citizens United.
What the rich want, in short, is the respect and groveling deference from the American people more commonly seen from the deposed aristocracies of the past during those periods in world history that were known as "counterrevolutionary." And lest we think it can't happen here, don't forget that our own American Revolution is just 230 years old.
It turns out that the rich really are different from you and me after all, as Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times today.
"Even the hint that sometimes the rich aren't completely praiseworthy has been enough to drive plutocrats wild," says Krugman. "Not only do many of the super-rich feel deeply aggrieved at the notion that anyone in their class might face criticism, they also insist that their perception that Mr. Obama doesn't like them is at the root of our economic problems. Businesses aren't investing, they say, because business leaders don't feel valued."
As both the plutocrats' presumptive candidate for president and a perfect representative of their class, Mitt Romney clearly believes, as Krugman says, "that he could run for president while remaining safe inside the plutocratic bubble."
Romney is therefore "both shocked and angry," says Krugman, to discover "that the rules that apply to others also apply to people like him."
Such rules as the commonplace demand made of candidates running for president that they make their tax returns public so that the public can, among other things, judge for itself whether the candidate might have conflicting agendas or interests they would impede his or her ability to govern.
Now, most rich people in America today do have a sense of perspective and don't believe their achievements and success entitle them to live by different rules, says Krugman. "But Mitt Romney, it seems, isn't one of those people."
And maybe that is why "those people" can't stand Mitt Romney any more than we do - because Romney is too much of a stumbling, bumbling clown to appear in public without giving the game away about how "those people" plan to take over.
Read The Full Article:
by William S. BeckerIn the Olympics of living, there used to be a moment when an older generation ?passed the torch? to the next generation in line.In his inaugural speech a half-century ago, John Kennedy declared, ?The Torch has been passed to a new[...]
Read The Full Article:
Click here to view this media
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on Thursday responded to criticism over her attacks on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, by claiming that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) also had a "long record" of association with radical Islamists in the Muslim Brotherhood.
Last week, the St. Cloud Times reported that Bachmann and four other Republicans sent a letter to inspectors general in the State, Homeland Security, Defense and Justice departments calling on them to investigate ?potential Muslim Brotherhood infiltration? of the Obama administration by Abedin, an aide to Secretary Clinton and wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). Their accusations were based on a report by Frank Gaffney?s neoconservative Center for Security Policy.
On Wednesday, Ellison, who is Muslim, told the Star Tribune that this "is one of those moments when you can't stay silent," adding that the attacks were "McCarthyism at its worst."
Speaking to conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Thursday, Bachmann declined to respond to her Republican critics, but attempted to smear Ellison by associating him with Islamic radicals.
"So when you wrote this letter, then Keith Ellison comes out," Beck told Bachmann. "Keith Ellison is -- he has a record of being the Mafia hitman."
"Well, [Ellison] has a long record of being associated with CAIR and with the Muslim Brotherhood," Bachmann agreed. "[S]o he came out and essentially wanted to shut down the inspectors general from even looking into any of the questions that we were asking. So he wanted to shut it down. In response I wrote another letter back to Keith Ellison, a 16-page letter which I would encourage all of your listeners to go and read this letter. It?s what I call a bulletproof letter."
"And so then now what?s happened is the attack machine has been turned on myself and the other members of congress who have been asking the questions, that somehow we?re the Muslim haters, we?re the witch-hunters, we?re the new Joe McCarthyites because we?re asking these questions," she insisted.
Later on Thursday, Ellison told CNN's Anderson Cooper that Bachmann's charges were "ridiculous."
"That's not true," the Minnesota congressman explained. "I don't have any Muslim Brotherhood connections that she's talking about."
"I'm absolutely not trying to shut down their investigation. What I'm trying to do is raise a concern about unfounded allegations of disloyalty, specifically with regard to Huma Abedin and a few other people who she mentioned."
Ellison continued: "It's about marginalizing and alienating a group of Americans who she does not view as all-American enough."
Gay federal employees will be allowed to cover their same-sex partners’ children under the federal health insurance plan after a proposed regulation from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is enacted. According to the Washington Blade, “children will be eligible for coverage if a parent is in a domestic same-sex relationship with a federal employee who receives coverage through federal programs,” and the children could receive coverage even if they had not been legally adopted by the federal employee:
Right now, federal employees can obtain coverage for the children of their same-sex partners if he or she adopts their partner?s children. But adoption isn?t available to same-sex couples everywhere: only in 18 states and D.C. is second-parent adoption available statewide.
Brian Moulton, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the proposed rule change is important because of this limited availability of second-parent adoption.
?In the absence of fair adoption laws, thousands of same-sex parents across the country remain legal strangers to the children they have raised from birth,? Moulton said. ?By issuing this proposed rule, OPM will ensure that fewer children of federal workers will be denied health care coverage simply because their parents are a same-sex couple.?
OPM offered recommendations about additional benefits that could be provided to partners of gay federal employees after President Obama extended limited benefits to same-sex partners. But since Obama’s June 2010 memo based on the recommendations, OPM determined that “stepchild” in the U.S. code related to federal employees could include a child of an employee’s same-sex partner. The proposed regulation expanding coverage is needed to implement Obama’s memo and “is consistent with OPM?s policy determination that extension of coverage is appropriate,” according to the rule.
The Senate has taken steps to pass the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligation Act, which would extend health insurance and other workplace benefits to federal employees and their same-sex partners. But while that legislation is stalled, this proposed regulation is a good step in the right direction.
54-year-old Philip Cobbs was summoned to court to answer for two marijuana plants spotted on his 37-acre farm by a helicopter. About 10 law enforcement officials came to his farm to confiscate the illegal plants, armed with semi-automatic guns. Cobbs claimed that he was not aware of the marijuana plants on his property, which can sometimes grow in the wild.
The plants were discovered by a task force of law enforcement officials that routinely flies over farms searching for marijuana. Cobbs’ attorneys, Paul Belonick and Andrew Sneathern, unsuccessfully contested in a pre-trial motion that these helicopter flyovers violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects against “unreasonable search and seizure.”
Sneathern, pointing out that the task force uses National Guard helicopters, protested, “We?re treating our citizens like they?re the enemy.”
As Sneathern noted, Virginia law dictates that anyone found guilty of a first offense of marijuana possession must have their drivers license revoked without exception.
While the jury ultimately found Cobbs not guilty, it took half a day to find 7 people out of 25 who were neutral enough on drug laws to serve as jurors. Many potential jurors had to be dismissed because of their strong disagreement with national marijuana laws.
Sneathern, who in the past has prosecuted drug possession cases for the Commonwealth, observed that the law is still “playing catch up” to “a massive sea change in public opinion about small amounts of marijuana.”
Support for marijuana legalization is currently at an all-time high of 56 percent, according to a Rasmussen poll released in May. 15 states and several cities have reduced penalties for marijuana possession; recently, Chicago decriminalized small amounts of marijuana.
The prosecutor’s closing statement warned the jury against nullification, which allows jurors to find a defendant innocent because of their dislike of a law. Most judges prevent defense attorneys from informing the jury of this right. New Hampshire passed a jury nullification law in June, a move that could significantly affect drug cases in the state.
In Virginia, Sneathern hopes that lawmakers and prosecutors all over the Commonwealth keep Cobbs’ trial in mind for future prosecutions.
“This is not a good use of their resources,” he said. “This was an extraordinarily expensive trial for them to bring when the best outcome they were going to get was a maximum of 30 days [in prison], and likely just a fine.”
He also questioned the non-financial cost of frightened citizens: “This is over in the sense that this case is over, but as [Cobbs] told me yesterday, it will take him a long, long time to get over the feeling of the invasion and the fear that he felt — and still feels every time he sees a helicopter fly over his house.”
I don’t have a particularly strong opinion on whether the statue of Joe Paterno standing outside Penn State’s football stadium should stand or fall, and I find the competing arguments — that it should be immediately removed or that it should stand, at least for a little while, as a shameful reminder of Penn State’s mass institutional failure — interesting and compelling in their own right. There are conflicting reports about whether the statue is coming down this weekend, but either way, this latest protest is another shameful chapter in an ongoing series of them for the university and its students:
A group of Penn State students have started a vigil intended to protect the Joe Paterno statue from vandals.
Seniors Mike Elliot and Kevin Berkon formed the group after they saw a plane fly over the campus earlier this week displaying a banner that read: “Take the statue down or we will.”
Clearly, at least for some students, the necessary realignment of Penn State’s cultural priorities that should have taken place after this scandal hasn’t yet happened. It’s enough to make you wonder if any of this would have been necessary had anyone in State College rushed to defend Jerry Sandusky’s victims with the same vigor these students have for defending a man whose reputation was shattered long before his statue will be.