Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Steve Scalise's Ties to David Duke Show GOP Can't Escape its Embrace of Racism


GOP House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) confirmed on Monday that he had addressed a white supremacy conference in 2002 organized by former KKK Grand Wizard and onetime GOP presidential candidate David Duke. The revelation immediately cast doubts on whether Scalise will hang onto his leadership position within the House Republican caucus as the GOP prepares to lead both chambers of Congress in 2015.

Democrats condemned Scalise's appearance and called on his fellow GOP House leaders to do the same. "Steve Scalise chose to cheerlead for a group of KKK members and neo-Nazis at a white supremacist rally and now his fellow House Republican Leaders can’t even speak up and say he was wrong," said Josh Schwerin, National Press Secretary for the DCCC. "Republicans in Congress might talk about improving their terrible standing with non-white voters, but it’s clear their leadership has a history of embracing anti-Semitic, racist hate groups."

As reported by The Hill:

"The news about Scalise will cast a cloud over the first week of Congress...Scalise will be surrounded by reporters upon his return to Washington, and it will distract from the GOP’s official message. Damaging stories touching on racism have the potential not only to distract, but to damage the GOP brand.

Scalise on Monday denounced the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, to which he spoke in 2002. 'I didn't know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group,' he said in an interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday. 'For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous,' he said.

Many people have expressed doubt, however, that Scalise could not have known who the group was given its name and David Duke’s prominence in the state of Louisiana. 'By 2002, everybody knew that Duke was still the man he claimed not to be. EVERYBODY,' influential conservative blogger Erick Erickson wrote Monday on RedState.com. 'How the hell does somebody show up at a David Duke organized event in 2002 and claim ignorance?'"

According to David Duke, Scalise knew exactly what company he was keeping. "Scalise would communicate a lot with my campaign manager, Kenny Knight," Duke said on Monday when interviewed by the Washington Post. "That is why he was invited and why he would come." Kenny Knight is one of Scalise's congressional campaign donors.

Yet appearing at the EURO conference was hardly the first time Rep. Scalise has tried to further his political career by appealing to bigotry and dividing people. Past votes and legislation pushed by Scalise show a disturbing pattern that casts doubts on his commitment to equal rights for all Americans.

While serving as a state representative, Scalise joined former U.S. Senator and notorious bigot Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) in the dubious club of Republicans who tried to stop the nation from honoring Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, when he twice voted against establishing an MLK holiday in Louisiana. In 1997, he voted no on a bill designed to "prohibit hate crimes based on race, class or sexual orientation." Exploiting anti-gay bigotry to win votes for the GOP in 2004, Scalise was the lead author of a bill that put a constitutional amendment on the Louisiana ballot banning gay marriage.

In 2009, Scalise was one of the leading Republicans who joined Glenn Beck in a campaign to smear black Obama Administration official Van Jones, forcing him to resign his post. Beck, Scalise, and the rest of the GOP scalp-hunters targeted Jones after it was discovered that his name appeared on a 2004 petition calling for more investigations into the 9/11 attacks, and also questioning whether any Bush Administration officials knew about the attacks in advance. Jones had agreed to lend his name to the petition without reading it first. "The last green jobs czar we had left in disgrace," Scalise crowed about Jones' departure, "because he expressed comments embracing communism and actually tried to blame the government, the American government, for September 11th attacks."

Currently, as pointed out by Vocativ:

"(Scalise) is a regular on Tony Perkins' radio show, Washington Watch With Tony Perkins. Perkins heads the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center condemns as virulently anti-LGBT."

Tony Perkins is also pals with David Duke, having once paid $82,500 for Duke's mailing list. Perkins filed a false campaign disclosure form to hide the payment, for which he was eventually fined $3,000.

The Republican Party needs to decide whether this is the face it wants to keep showing at a time when it has a demographic imperative to improve its standing with non-white voters. As Steve Scalise's political career makes clear, the ghosts of racism past and present still haunt the GOP.

#stevescalise #davidduke #gop #whitesupremacy #resign

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jeb Bush's Ties to Terrorists and Corrupt Cuban Exiles


Today, President Obama announced the historic news that he is moving to normalize relations with Cuba. This move comes after 50 years of failed U.S. policy that attempted to undermine the Cuban Revolution by isolating the island and keeping Cubans and Americans apart. It didn't work, ensured Cuba would remain economically dependent on the Soviet Union for decades, and delayed the day when the revolution's original promise will be fulfilled and true democracy will come to Cuba.

The wealthy, right-wing Cuban exiles who fled the revolution have had outsized influence on U.S. politics ever since the early 1960s. And Republican politicians in Florida have long cozied up to them. Which brings us to almost-declared GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush. Jeb's political connections are as shady as his father's and brother's were before him. While building his political and financial career in Florida, Jeb Bush became tightly linked to some of the most corrupt, far-right members of the Cuban exile community.

As reported by award-winning investigative journalist Ann Louise Bardach in the book Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana (2002):

"The Bush family connections go back to 1984 when Jeb Bush began a close association with Camilo Padreda, a former intelligence officer with the Batista dictatorship overthrown by Fidel Castro. Jeb Bush was then the chairman of the Dade county Republican party and Padreda its finance chairman. Padreda had earlier been indicted on a $500,000 embezzlement charge along with a fellow exile, Hernandez Cartaya, but the charges were dropped, reportedly after the CIA stated that Cartaya had worked for them. Padreda later pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development of millions of dollars during the 1980s.

Jeb Bush was also on the payroll in the 80s of the prominent Cuban exile Miguel Recarey, who had earlier assisted the CIA in attempts to assassinate President Castro. Recarey, who ran International Medical Centres (IMC), employed Bush as a real estate consultant and paid him a $75,000 fee for finding the company a new location, although the move never took place, which raised questions at the time. Jeb Bush did, however, lobby the Reagan/Bush administration vigorously and successfully on behalf of Recarey and IMC. "I want to be very wealthy," Jeb Bush told the Miami News when questioned during that period.

In 1985, Jeb Bush acted as a conduit on behalf of supporters of the Nicaraguan contras with his father, then the vice-president, and helped arrange for IMC to provide free medical treatment for the contras. Recarey was later charged with massive Medicare fraud but fled the US before his trial and is now a fugitive."

Jeb Bush's most controversial connection to right-wing Cuban exiles may be convicted terrorist Orlando Bosch, who died in 2011.

"At the request of Jeb, President George H.W. Bush intervened in 1989 to release the convicted Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch from prison and then granted him US residency. According to the Justice Department in George Bush Sr's administration, Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed.

CIA memorandums strongly suggest, according to Bardach's book, that Bosch was one of the conspirators, and quotes the then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, as writing that the "US government had been planning to suggest Bosch's deportation before Cubana airlines crash took place for his suspected involvement in other terrorist acts and violation of his parole."

This is the company Jeb Bush kept during his rise to political power. It shows a stunning lack of judgment and tolerance for corruption that by itself should be enough to disqualify him from high office. But most voters will never hear of these episodes from Jeb's past. His last name alone ensures he can't be ruled out as a serious contender for the 2016 GOP nomination.

#cuba #jebbush #havana #orlandobosch #election2016 #florida #BushClintonDynasties

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Skeletons in Jeb Bush's Closet


Jeb Bush is gearing up for his own presidential run, hoping to take advantage of Hillary Clinton being the likely Democratic nominee in 2016. Analysts predict a Bush-Clinton dynasty rematch will be seen as stale and boring by voters, and depress turnout to the extent that a GOP candidate could win nationwide again, despite the nation's browner, less Republican-friendly, changing demographics.

Veteran political journalist Joe Conason recently reminded us there are many things voters don't know yet about Jeb's years in Florida, from his shady business dealings to his tenure as an extremely right-wing Governor. For example:

"If Bush runs, extremism and corruption in the Sunshine State during his tenure will provide ample fodder for investigative reporters and primary opponents, as will many episodes in his long business career. Five months after he left the governor's mansion in 2007, he joined Lehman Brothers as a 'consultant.' No doubt he was well-compensated, as reporters may learn if and when he releases his tax returns someday. The following year, Lehman infamously went bust—and left the state of Florida holding about $1 billion worth of bad mortgage investments.

There are many equally fascinating chapters in the Jeb dossier, rooted in his declaration three decades ago that he intended to become 'very wealthy' as a developer and, yes, a 'consultant.' His partners back then included a certain Miguel Recarey, whose International Medical Centers allegedly perpetrated one of history’s biggest Medicare frauds. Indicted by the feds, Recarey fled the country—but not before Jeb placed a call on his behalf to his presidential dad’s health and human services secretary, Margaret Heckler. For serving as the flunky of a crook, he received a generous tip of $75,000 from Recarey, a mob associate."

Today's announcement by Jeb that he would "actively explore" running for President comes as no surprise. The Bush family has been grooming him for the presidency for the past quarter century, and originally planned for him to run in 2000. Until something called democracy got in the way when Jeb lost his first race for Governor of Florida in 1994, thanks to legendary Florida Democrat Lawton Chiles. Jeb had to wait to win until his second try in 1998, the same year George W. was re-elected to the top job in Texas. Which is how W. ended up with just enough experience mis-governing a large red state to be a credible GOP contender for the 2000 nomination.

And we all know how that turned out. After the debacle of W.'s presidency, why would anyone vote for another Bush? Unfortunately, history fades fast in America, even more so now that we're living in a 24-7 news cycle when the latest shiny distraction is all that seems to matter. As Conason warns, "If Jeb runs for president, it will be fascinating to see whether the mainstream press, which vetted his brother George W. so inadequately during the 2000 presidential race, performs any better this time." America shouldn't count on it.

Congress Secretly Voted Themselves a CRomnibus Luxury Car Perk

Huffington Post, OpEdNews, 12-16-14


Over the weekend, the CRomnibus budget deal passed the Senate by a 56-40 margin after narrow approval by the House. The outcome is a win for big corporations and wealthy campaign donors, and a huge letdown for 99% of Americans, who once again have been shafted by back room negotiations and legislation written to favor the rich and powerful.

There's a lot to make ordinary citizens sick about the CRomnibus. Republicans used the legislation as an end-of-year Trojan Horse to pass numerous stealth provisions that benefit the few at the expense of the many. Two of the worst are rolling back Dodd-Frank financial regulations so banks can once again gamble with money insured by taxpayers, which re-opens the door to more bank bailouts; and further gutting campaign finance reform by letting rich donors give up to $1.5 million a year to political parties, ten times the current limit.

But the one CRomnibus secret that wasn't reported anywhere in the media until after the bill cleared both the House and Senate was that the budget deal renews a lucrative perk for members of Congress: the ability for each member to spend $1000 of our tax dollars per month per car on a luxury car allowance. The number of cars members can lease is limited only by the total pool of money funding Congressional operations.

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado was the first to alert the public to this perk's renewal, when he posted about it on Facebook last Wednesday, the day after House Republican leaders filed the legislation. The relevant language was hidden on page 982 of the 1,603-page bill:

"None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives to make any payments from any Members' Representational Allowance for the leasing of a vehicle, excluding mobile district offices, in an aggregate amount that exceeds $1,000 for the vehicle in any month."

At a time when U.S. families are finally getting their feet under them again after our economy's long climb back from the Great Recession, the audacity of Congress to vote itself a luxury perk like this is breathtaking. It passed only because it was buried in an enormous spending bill, with no public discussion or media coverage.

President Obama has said he will sign the CRomnibus, but he deserves to hear the American people's opinions about it. Act right now to tell President Obama to veto this deal, and send it back to Congress for an honest debate over its Congressional luxury car cash and many other unacceptable provisions. You can call the White House at 202-456-1111, or send him a quick e-mail using this tool powered by Represent.Us:

The silver lining in this battle was that it showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is willing to take on Wall Street and the super wealthy when it comes to fighting for the rest of us. The CRomnibus fight boosted her national profile overnight, and cemented her status as the Democrat who could most likely wrest the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Where was Hillary when the CRomnibus reared its ugly head? As Politico made clear, "Clinton has not commented on the $1.1 trillion spending bill, which Warren claims will undo (financial) reforms made under the Dodd-Frank law."

According to The Hill:

"The reason for Clinton's silence, some of her staunchest supporters say, is that she likely supported the spending bill — even if she didn't want to go on record with that support. 'I don't think she would have considered the legislation deeply flawed,' said one ally. 'She would have some issues with it, of course, and she'd think that it's not a perfect bill but I don't think she would have taken Warren's stance.'"

Other CRomnibus provisions that advance the GOP's agenda include allowing corporations to cut up to ten million workers' pensions; slashing $300 million from housing assistance to the homeless; reducing the EPA's budget by $60 million, which will lead to massive cutbacks and layoffs; and cutting $300 million from grants to low-income students.

It's good for the wealthy, the powerful, and Washington, D.C.'s luxury car rental companies. But the CRomnibus is bad for America, and President Obama needs to step up with his veto pen and do the right thing.

(UPDATE 11:30 pm: With little fanfare, earlier tonight President Obama signed the CRomnibus, a bill which also tonight was immortalized by Jon Stewart as unappealing enough to be the "Bill Cosby of legislation." Passage of the CROmnibus is sorry evidence of how corporate interests firmly control Washington, and how badly real change is needed.

President Obama's stated reason for signing it was that it was the best deal Democrats could get before the GOP assumes control of the Senate in January, and he was wrong. The GOP's brand is now so linked with government shutdowns that they don't want to be blamed for another. If more Democrats had stood unified and rejected the poison pill-packed CRomnibus, Republicans were prepared to pass a three month spending bill with current levels of funding, not shut the government down. As reported by The Hill:

"Republicans prepared a three-month stopgap spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, just in case anything went awry. 'That was always the fallback but we were going to do everything we could to pass the bill,' said one source."
Three months from now, Obama could have then insisted the GOP pass a longer-term budget stripped of the riders the Republicans had crammed into the CRomnibus to force their agenda through, or face a veto. The unpopular provisions it was packed with could never survive up and down votes on their own. Instead, he and Congressional Democrats got rolled again.)

(CORRECTION 12/18: An earlier version of this post misstated the taxpayer-subsidized vehicle perk as new for FY2015, not a renewal of an existing perk.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

How The Left is Waking Up


After the midterms resulted in billionaires buying a U.S. Senate majority for Republicans, the CRomnibus spending bill fight has re-energized progressives and set the stage for full-throated opposition to the GOP's agenda over the next two years.

Paul Waldman observes in The American Prospect:

"For the first time in this presidency, liberal Democrats feel as though something like a coherent bloc, outside of and sometimes in opposition to the White House, is beginning to form. Animated by a new sense of purpose, they're experiencing the flush of hope."

And explains why a resurgent, insurgent left is exactly what the Democratic Party needs going into the 2016 election cycle:

"In contrast to what the Tea Party does to the Republicans, a newly coherent and organized left is unlikely to impede any of the party's practical goals, nor is it likely to damage the party's image. The policy ideas favored on the left tend to be pretty popular, and liberal lawmakers aren't pushing for anything destructive like government shutdowns.

What they may do, however—and what the Tea Party did with such extraordinary effectiveness—is mobilize their party's base, to vote and contribute and organize. There are few things the Democratic Party needs more than that kind of energy."

#readyforwarren #cromnibus #progressives #Democrats #election2016 #organize

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tell Congress To Reject CRomnibus Deal Allowing Rich To Buy More Elections

Huffington Post, OpEdNews, 12-11-14


Not content with the loosened campaign finance rules made possible by Citizens United, the GOP is attempting to pass a stealth provision that would open the big money floodgates even further. Republican leaders added the measure at the last minute to the so-called "CRomnibus" spending bill now under consideration in Congress.

As reported by Politico:

"A provision tucked deep inside the $1.1-trillion spending bill filed by Republicans on Tuesday night would dramatically increase the amount of money a single rich donor could give to national party committees each year -- from $97,200 to as much as $777,600. The provision, inserted as a rider to the bill only hours before it was filed, would mark a further erosion of campaign cash restrictions."

The provision was hidden on page 1,599 of a 1,603-page bill. NBC News reported that House Speaker John Boehner, "along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (both) pushed for the campaign finance measure, according to an appropriations committee aide."

In a statement, campaign finance reform leader Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) put the blame where it belongs. "We're seeing a preview of the Mitch McConnell Senate," said Sarbanes.

"He's attempting to drastically expand the influence of the wealthy and well-connected without even introducing a bill, holding a hearing or allowing a direct vote. By tucking this into a 1,600-page funding bill, Mitch McConnell is essentially saying 'auction off our democracy or I'll shut down the government.'"

Act right now to tell your members of Congress to reject this deal, which would further increase the corrosive influence of big money on our democracy. You can send them a quick e-mail using this tool provided by Public Citizen:

The Hill's constantly updated whip count for this bill shows opposition growing among Democrats and even some Republicans. Observers agree Speaker Boehner needs a substantial chunk of House Democrats to support the spending bill in order for it to pass.

The House is expected to vote on the spending bill sometime on Thursday, with the Senate facing a midnight deadline to pass it. Republican leaders have said they would offer a substitute spending bill to fund the government through January if the CRomnibus is rejected.

Another measure in the bill would give taxpayer subsidies to Wall Street derivatives trading, as first reported by The Huffington Post. The office of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) called the deal a "Wall Street giveaway."

On Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) urged Senate Democrats to oppose the spending bill, denouncing it as "a giveaway to most powerful banks in this country."

"This is a democracy, and the American people didn't elect us to stand up for Citigroup, they elected us to stand up for all the people," she said on the Senate floor.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are "deeply troubled" with the bill's measures. On Wednesday, Pelosi declared, "These provisions are destructive to middle class families and to the practice of our democracy. We must get them out of the omnibus package."

According to The Huffington Post:

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and other House members -- including Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) -- issued a joint release calling for the provision to be removed or else they would not support the bill."

An amendment offered by Rep. Deutch to remove the campaign finance provision from the CRomnibus spending bill was not adopted in a House Rules Committee hearing on Wednesday night.

Take five minutes today to e-mail and call your members of Congress. Tell them to reject this blatant attempt to allow the super wealthy to buy more elections!


(12:30 pm: Not a single Democrat voted to set up debate on the bill, which narrowly advanced Thursday morning by a one vote margin, 214-212. The Republican-controlled House will now vote on final passage of the bill this afternoon.)

(2:45 pm: Instead of pushing ahead with a vote, the House declared recess at 2 pm, a sign Republicans are scrambling to find enough votes to pass the spending bill. Keep contacting your House members and Senators.)

(3:30 pm: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued an open letter to her fellow Democrats saying the recess makes it clear that "Republicans don’t have enough votes to pass the CRomnibus." Meanwhile, liberal Senate Democrats are lining up in opposition.)

(6:40 pm: Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, gathered about 20 members in her office Thursday afternoon and worked the phones, countering a White House push to convince wavering Democrats to back the bill. "We don't like lobbying that is being done by the president or anybody else that would allow us to support a bill that...would give a big gift to Wall Street and the bankers who caused this country to almost go into a depression," said Waters. "I'm opposed to it and we're going to fight it." House Democrats went into a closed-door caucus at 5:30 pm to weigh their options.)

(9:50 pm: The CRomnibus has passed the House. The final vote was 219-206, only one more vote than needed. Now it moves on to the Senate. If the House had rejected it, the Senate leadership was prepared to quickly pass a three-month continuing resolution funding the government. Instead, as reported by CNN, "the Senate will agree to a two day extension of current funding levels to give itself time to approve the House bill." So the fight continues into the weekend.)

(Friday, 10:50 am: Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants a vote on the spending bill by this evening, although the deadline for action before a shutdown is now pushed back to midnight Saturday. Whether a vote proceeds today or not depends on "possible delays prompted by Democrats who want to air complaints over contentious provisions" in the bill. We need to keep contacting our Senators.)

(Friday, 10:30 pm: The Senate has recessed without a vote on the CRomnibus. Earlier today, it passed a voice vote extending the government's current funding through midnight Wednesday. According to CBS News, a cloture vote to end debate is expected Monday when the Senate returns to work. Today, Sen. Warren introduced an amendment to strip out the bill's Wall Street giveaways. But Sen. Harry Reid shut down that option when he "made a procedural move Friday evening that would set up a vote on final passage in the Senate no later than Monday," as reported by CNN.

"By making the procedural move, Reid prevented...amendments from being considered. Amendment votes could have been risky because if (any) passed, the spending bill would have to go back to the House to be voted on again. While the House is technically in session, most members have left Washington until the new Congress convenes in early January."

Let's stand with Sen. Warren and keep calling the Senate. The toll-free number for the Capitol switchboard is 1-888-291-9824.)

(Saturday, 6:15 pm: The Senate recessed Friday night without a vote on the CRomnibus, but came back into session today. Before the recess, a small faction of Tea Party Senators led by Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz attempted to force a vote on President Obama's immigration executive orders, and used procedural tactics late Friday night that delayed a previously agreed-to voice vote extending the government's current funding through midnight Wednesday. That funding extension was finally passed this afternoon.)

(Saturday, 10:40 pm: In an unexpected move, Senate leaders reached an agreement on moving the CRomnibus vote forward tonight instead of Monday. The bill passed by a 56-40 vote, and now heads to President Obama's desk, who plans to sign it.

The silver lining in this battle was that it showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren is willing to take on Wall Street and the super wealthy when it comes to fighting for the American people.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CIA Torture Report Confirms Bush Hurt Anti-Terror Fight


The release of the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture methods confirms that former President George W. Bush sacrificed our country's values and demeaned our most cherished principles of justice, and for what? Ineffective torture that did more harm than good.

Instead of helping keep America safe, torture hurt the fight to stop terrorist plots, according to the report. Authorities were repeatedly sent on wild goose chases when false confessions yielded bad intel and phony information.

As reported by USA Today:

"The use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and chaining prisoners in cold dungeons led some detainees to give false confessions, sending U.S. law enforcement officials in the wrong direction as they chased bad information, the report says. One detainee interrogated by the CIA falsely confessed to trying to recruit African-American Muslims in Montana — a state where blacks make up less than 1% of the population.

The report also refutes claims by the CIA that its harsh 'enhanced interrogation techniques' helped gain information that lad to the U.S. capture and killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. That information was actually elicited before the detainees were subjected to those methods, the report said."

Five years in the making, the Intelligence Committee report draws on more than 6 million pages of CIA documents. As expected, the declassified summary of the report condemns the methods used by the CIA to torture and imprison terrorism suspects under the Bush Administration, while concluding the information gained by torture didn't help stop terror plots. According to The New York Times:

"During his administration, President George W. Bush repeatedly said that the detention and interrogation program, which President Obama dismantled when he succeeded him, was humane and legal. The intelligence gleaned during interrogations, he said, was instrumental both in thwarting terrorism plots and in capturing senior figures of Al Qaeda. The Intelligence Committee’s report tries to refute each of these claims, using the C.I.A.'s internal records to present 20 case studies that bolster its conclusion that the most extreme interrogation methods played no role in disrupting terrorism plots, capturing terrorist leaders — even finding Bin Laden."

Top Republicans claimed the report's release by the still-Democratic-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee was "unconscionable," in the words of Florida's GOP Sen. Marco Rubio. But the only thing unconscionable about releasing the CIA torture report is the torture it reveals. On this issue, even former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was forced to stand up for the truth, owing to his history as a former POW and victim of torture at the hands of his captors during the Vietnam War. "The American people have a right - indeed the responsibility - to know what was done in their name," said McCain.

The real travesty is that by torturing terrorism suspects, the Bush Administration needlessly violated what America stands for in exchange for useless, unreliable information. For years, Bush apologists have insisted the "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized by George W. Bush's appointees were not torture, ignoring the verdicts of independent watchdog groups like Human Rights Watch and meticulous documentation by investigative journalists. Now there can be no doubt it was torture all along.

#CIA #TortureReport

Monday, December 8, 2014

John Lennon Spoke Out For Peace and His Message Lives On


Shortly before 11 pm on December 8, 1980, thirty-four years ago today, John Lennon was shot dead. He was the most radical rock star of his generation, and his refusal to stop speaking out about injustice made him the target of surveillance by the US government for most of the 1970s. An assassin's bullets may have felled him, but his message of peace and love will endure forever.

In this 2005 interview, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! talks with UCal-Irvine history professor Jon Wiener, author of two books on Lennon, about Lennon’s politics, his FBI files, and why Richard Nixon tried to deport him.

#johnlennon #lennon #RIPJohnLennon #fbi #peace

Saturday, December 6, 2014

How The GOP Is Scheming To Steal The Electoral College In 2016


Frustrated by their inability to win the national popular vote, Republicans are again exploring ways to re-write the rules.

By monkeying with the electoral college in blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin, they could elect a Tea Party President in 2016 with no more votes than Mitt Romney got in 2012.

#teaparty #gop #electionfraud #election2016 #electoralcollege #vote

Friday, December 5, 2014

GOP Says Eric Garner Was Too Obese And 'Shouldn't Have Resisted'


In response to a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to indict police officers involved in the July 17 death of Eric Garner, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "if he had not had asthma, and a heart condition and was so obese, almost definitely he would not have died from this."

Despite Garner's repeated protests that he couldn't breathe, as caught on video, King claimed "police had no reason to know that he was in serious condition."

Meanwhile, GOP Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) blamed Garner's death on high cigarette taxes, and right-wing Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly's reaction was that "he should not have resisted."

#‎icantbreathe‬ ‪#‎ericgarner‬ ‪#‎policethepolice‬ ‪#‎gop‬ ‪#‎injustice‬ ‪#‎blacklivesmatter

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The US Needs Police Review Board Laws


Why do we need police review boards to oversee local law enforcement agencies? Because as Eric Garner's July 17 death in Staten Island shows, body cameras aren't enough. This is how Wisconsin passed its first-in-the-nation law mandating outside review of all deaths in police custody, after 21-year old Michael Bell, Jr. was shot outside his house in front of a crowd of witnesses, including his mother and sister.

We must pass laws like this nationwide, because our increasingly militarized police need more transparency and rules of restraint. Without them, police will continue losing the confidence of the communities they are supposed to serve and protect. As Michael's father says, "if police on duty believe they can get away with almost anything, they will act accordingly."

#ericgarner #policethepolice #injustice #blacklivesmatter

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why is America Still The Only Developed Country Without Paid Maternity Leave?


The Supreme Court hears testimony today in "the most high-stakes challenge to pregnancy discrimination law in a generation," according to Time magazine.

At issue is the case of former UPS employee Peggy Young, who was put on unpaid leave and subsequently lost her job after the company denied her request to not lift heavy packages during her pregnancy eight years ago. Her story raises the question of why we are so far behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to providing paid maternity leave for pregnant women.

The UK guarantees an entire year of paid leave - 52 weeks. Australia gives 18 weeks, and Mexico offers 12 weeks, during which mothers are reimbursed fully 100% of their normal pay. Yet here in the United States? Nothing. Not even a single day of paid maternity leave.

Our children are our future, and we can do better!

#standwithpeggy #waronwomen #reproductiverights #notright

Friday, November 28, 2014

How Darren Wilson's Fairytale Testimony Destroys His Own Credibility


On Alternet, Chauncey DeVega shows how Wilson's testimony resembles the "ramblings of a paranoid white supremacist."

Wilson's own words reveal a deep racial bias and thoroughly discredit his version of what happened the day he gunned down Michael Brown.

#ferguson #blacklivesmatter #darrenwilson #‎policebrutality #whitesupremacy #kkk #policethepolice #endracism‬

This Black Family Had Their Yard Sign Burned for Voting Democratic


In the closing days of the 2014 elections, GOP voter intimidation efforts intensified nationwide. In North Carolina, mailers containing incorrect voting information blanketed the state, sent to voters by Koch-funded right-wing dark money group Americans For Prosperity.

Unidentified individuals were stationed outside early voting polling sites telling black voters it would take 2 hours to vote, while white voters were assured there was only a 45-minute wait. And echoing cross burnings of the past, in a predominantly Republican neighborhood in Huntersville, N.C., a black family's campaign sign for Democratic Senator Kay Hagan was torched on their front lawn.

#‎votersuppression‬ ‪#‎voterintimidation‬ ‪#‎election2014‬ ‪#‎kayhagan‬ #‎northcarolina‬ #boycottkoch ‪#‎blackvotesmatter

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ferguson Protestors Called 'Lynch Mob' by Right-Wing Dark Money Group


In a stunning display of historical ignorance, a spokesman for the right-wing dark money group Americans for Limited Government denounced Ferguson protestors as a “lynch mob” out to get Darren Wilson. Rick Manning, the group's vice president of public policy and communications, blamed the global attention drawn by Michael Brown’s death on “those who profiteer off of hate and misery (who) descended on the small town with (Attorney General) Holder amongst them.”

Americans for Limited Government has been described as a “pro-corporate Astroturf group” by Right Wing Watch. It is led by New York real estate magnate Howard Rich, who has “funded ballot initiatives throughout the country promoting his extreme anti-government agenda,” and wants to privatize the public education system.

#blacklivesmatter #ferguson #rightwingidiots

Monday, November 24, 2014

Justice for Michael Brown: Unarmed And Shot Six Times = Not Right


Tonight's announcement that a grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri had decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the August 9 shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown should come as no surprise. St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has a long history of siding with the police, his life shaped by when his own father, a St. Louis police officer, was shot and killed by a black man when McCulloch was 12 years old. He was fundamentally incapable of impartially handling the Michael Brown shooting case, and clearly steered the grand jury towards not indicting.

As Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter Don Von Natta Jr. said, "I covered criminal justice for 12 years. Never saw anything like this no-indict statement: a mix of confusion, defiance and condescension." According to Newsweek, even before the non-indictment was announced, Ferguson's black community had been "bracing for McCulloch to let the officer who shot Brown go free."

"'I don't believe that Bob McCulloch's office is going to issue any charges,' said Jerryl Christmas, a local criminal defense lawyer (in late August). 'It's not going to happen.' The investigating grand jury, Christmas said, is the perfect tool for allowing McCulloch to bail out the officer without getting blamed for dumping the case."

#‎ferguson‬ ‪#‎policebrutality‬ ‪#‎justiceformikebrown

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Two-Thirds Of Likely 2016 Voters Support President Obama's Executive Action On Immigration


A new poll released in the wake of President Obama's announcement of his executive orders on immigration shows two-thirds of voters likely to cast ballots in 2016 support these long overdue reforms. This includes 91% of Democrats and 67% of all Independents.

Yet 51% of Republicans still say no, fueled by Tea Party members who are opposed by a 2-1 margin. The GOP is out of step with the rest of our nation.


GOP Admits There Was No Benghazi Scandal


Now that the 2014 elections are over and the issue is no longer worth exploiting, the GOP-controlled House Select Intelligence Committee has released its final report on the 2012 attacks on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya, which admits there was no scandal, after all.

Ever since the Benghazi attacks, which occurred from Sept. 11-12, 2012, Republicans have been trying to blame the Obama White House or the State Department under Hillary Clinton for the deaths of four Americans who were killed there. But it was all a manufactured, faux news non-scandal. Shame on them.

#Benghazi #FauxNews #Scamdal

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rick Santorum Wishes Obama Was More Like Jesse Helms

HuffPo 11-19-14, OpEdNews 11-22-14


This week, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum announced he'd make a decision next year about running for the White House again in 2016. Last week, while guest hosting a right-wing talk radio show in Iowa, the ultra-conservative former Pennsylvania Senator gave the country a glimpse of what a Santorum presidency might look like.

Over the air, Santorum lamented the "breakup of any kind of cooperation in Washington D.C.," and said "this president is very much to blame for this," because Obama hasn't been enough of a gentleman. Unlike the late Republican Senator from North Carolina and hate-mongering demagogue Jesse Helms.

"There was no one nicer than Jesse Helms," said Santorum. "I mean, I don't think a single Democrat would tell you that on a personal level, there was anybody that was more gentlemanly, more kind than Jesse. He stood up for what he believed in, but he was always a gentleman about it."

This echoed the controversial comments made by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) last year, when he told a crowd at the Heritage Foundation that Helms was the first political candidate he had ever donated to, and "we need a hundred more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate." He'll have at least one new Helms clone by his side next year, Iowa Republican Joni Ernst, who managed to hide her extreme right-wing views from enough voters to win a Senate seat. Santorum campaigned for Ernst in early November, telling volunteers her victory would "set a tone for 2016."

Santorum and Cruz are Helms' ideological descendants, so it's not surprising they would speak highly of the man. But as sane observers are well aware, the real Jesse Helms spent more than five decades stirring the pot of bigotry and hatred to win elections and further his political career.

Ten lowest points of Helms' shameful legacy include:

(1) Creating scurrilous, race-baiting ads and handbills in 1950 for a white segregationist candidate.

(2) Denouncing the civil rights movement in TV and radio commentaries broadcast in North Carolina throughout the 1960s.

(3) Defeating his Greek-American opponent in 1972 in part by using the slogan, "Jesse Helms: He's One of Us!"

(4) Distributing tens of thousands of leaflets in 1976 during the Reagan-Ford primary fight in N.C. that alleged Gerald Ford was considering picking a black running mate.

(5) Opposing and delaying every effort ever proposed to impose U.S. sanctions on South Africa over apartheid, no matter how mild.

(6) Filibustering against renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 1982.

(7) Spending 16 days filibustering against making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday in 1983, and ending up the only Senator to vote against it.

(8) Using shameless gay-bashing and fears of Jesse Jackson registering black voters to win re-election in 1984.

(9) Unleashing a wave of blistering, race-baiting attack ads against his 1990 black Democratic challenger Harvey Gantt, including some of the most racially divisive political advertising of modern times.

And finally, perhaps Helms' greatest crime:

(10) Leading the opposition in the U.S. Senate to increased federal funding for AIDS research all throughout the 1980s, which left real blood on Helms' hands, because even a modest increase in spending could have saved tens of thousands of gay Americans who died horrible, painful deaths in the years before effective AIDS drugs were developed.

But according to Santorum, we shouldn't believe Helms' well-documented history of fearmongering and inflaming racial tensions, because he was a politician who exhibited "probably the starkest contrast of what the press used to portray and what the reality was."

While on the subject of Jesse Helms, Santorum also told listeners how fondly he remembers the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, the man who blamed gays, feminists, and the ACLU for the 9/11 attacks. At the time of his death in 2007, Falwell was described as "a founder and leader of America's anti-gay industry" by Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

During the 1980s, Falwell's Moral Majority PAC raised $69 million for GOP candidates and claimed to speak on behalf of 6.5 million members. It helped elect presidents Ronald Reagan in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1988, and re-elect Sen. Helms in 1984. Falwell founded the Moral Majority in the 1970s to organize evangelical Christians behind conservative Republican candidates, and claimed it was Roe v. Wade that sparked his movement. Yet the so-called "Religious Right" he helped lead first came together to preserve the right of Christian schools to maintain racial segregation.

The divisive political figures Santorum admires tell us all we need to know about how he would lead America if ever given the chance. Hopefully we've come too far as a country to go back to the days when far right-wing demagogues using religion to cloak their narrow-minded agendas were guiding our national politics. We can be thankful Santorum's chances to succeed as a presidential candidate are remote, and his time on the national stage will eventually end up in the dustbin of history alongside the chapters on Helms and Falwell, where they all belong.

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