Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ted Cruz is shut down re: Muslims, jihad and terrorism by Homeland Security

Senator Ted Cruz tried his damnedest to grandstand about Muslims today, but the head of Homeland Security shut him down. Hard.
At a Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Cruz went in full force on Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson over the Obama administration’s alleged scrubbing of references to jihad, Islamic terrorism, and Muslims from terror-related documents. Cruz confronted Johnson with the fact that the DHS chose not to attend a recent hearing on the matter and then asked Johnson if the claims of a former employee who said the White House had scrubbed those references were true.
“I have no idea,” Johnson replied.
Cruz continued to press, prompting Johnson to obviously become annoyed and finally lose his patience with the failed presidential candidate.
Senator, I find this whole debate to be very interesting. But I have to tell you, when I was at the Department of Defense, giving the legal sign off on a lot of drone strikes, I didn’t particularly care whether the baseball card said Islamic extremist or violent extremist. I think this is very interesting, but it makes no difference to me in terms of who we need to go after, who is determined to attack our homeland.
The other point I’d like to make sir, is that, and I have to think in practical terms in homeland security. I think this is all very interesting, makes for good political debate. But in practical terms, if we, in our efforts here in the homeland, start giving the Islamic State the credence that they want, to be referred to as part of Islam or some form of Islam, we will get no where in our efforts to build bridges with Muslim communities. Which we need to do in this current enviroment right now, that includes homegrown violent extremists.
At this point, Cruz decided to butt in and try to cut him off, but Johnson wasn’t having it.
Hold on just a second please,” Johnson said, raising his hand to hush Cruz. “They all tell me that, ‘ISIL has hijacked my religion.’ And it is critical that we bring these people to our side to do this.

POLITICIANS who admit they are bought off by money

One of the most embarrassing aspects of U.S. politics is politicians who deny that money has any impact on what they do. For instance, Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania’s notoriously fracking-friendly former governor, got $1.7 million from oil and gas companies but assured voters that “The contributions don’t affect my decisions.” If you’re trying to get people to vote for you, you can’t tell them that what they want doesn’t matter.
This pose is also popular with a certain prominent breed of pundits, who love to tell us “Don’t Follow the Money” (New York Times columnist David Brooks), or “Money does not buy elections” (Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner on public radio’s Marketplace), or “Money won’t buy you votes” (Yale Law School professor Peter H. Schuck in the Los Angeles Times).
Meanwhile, 85 percent of Americans say we need to either “completely rebuild” or make “fundamental changes” to the campaign finance system. Just 13 percent think “only minor changes are necessary,” less than the 18 percent of Americans who believe they’ve been in the presence of a ghost.
So we’ve decided that it would be useful to collect examples of actual politicians acknowledging the glaringly obvious reality. Here’s a start; I’m sure there must be many others, so if you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments or email me. I’d also love to speak directly to current or former politicians who have an opinion about it.
• “I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that’s a broken system.” — Donald Trump in 2015.
• “[T]his is what’s wrong. [Donald Trump] buys and sells politicians of all stripes … he’s used to buying politicians.” — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in 2015.
“Now [the United States is] just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congressmembers. … So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors …” — Jimmy Carter, former president, in 2015. (Thanks to Sam Sacks.)
• “[T]he millionaire class and the billionaire class increasingly own the political process, and they own the politicians that go to them for money. … we are moving very, very quickly from a democratic society, one person, one vote, to an oligarchic form of society, where billionaires would be determining who the elected officials of this country are.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in 2015. (Thanks to Robert Wilson in comments below.) Sanders has also said many similar things, such as “I think many people have the mistaken impression that Congress regulates Wall Street. … The real truth is that Wall Street regulates the Congress.” (Thanks to ND, via email.)
• “You have to go where the money is. Now where the money is, there’s almost always implicitly some string attached. … It’s awful hard to take a whole lot of money from a group you know has a particular position then you conclude they’re wrong [and] vote no.” — Vice President Joe Biden in 2015.

A SENATE VOTE ON GUN CONTROLS! The Democratic Sit In forced a vote. It will take place within 2 weeks.

There will finally be a vote on gun control in the House of Representatives after nearly 170 House Democrats protested in an historic sit-in. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has agreed to allow a vote, but just on a bill to prevent “suspected terrorists from buying guns.”
Ryan was facing another Democratic sit-in after the 4th of July holiday, but then he capitulated, deciding to allow a limited vote on a common sense gun control bill. According to The Hill, in a conference call, Ryan told Republicans:
The sit-in, led by infamous Civil Rights protestor Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, came just days after a gunman massacred 49 people in an Orlando gay nightclub. The killer was able to purchase automatic weapons even after the FBI investigated him for nine months.
Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota came to the sit-in after his mother called him and strongly suggested he do so, reports ThinkProgress. He said many of his fellow Democrats “have an appetite to do more than the sit-in” and that the next action “certainly could be” some form of civil disobedience.

Sister of slain Ambassador says Republicans are to blame for Benghazi, not Hillary. (GOP cut funding which cut security)

Dr. Stevens said that “I do not blame Hillary Clinton or [then Secretary of Defense] Leon Panetta. They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed. We know that now. But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.”
When asked if she thought the issue was politicized, she replied “Yes! Definitely politicized. Every report I read that mentions him specifically has a political bent, an accusatory bent.” She then went on to place to blame for the attacks where it truly belongs: with the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.
“It is clear, in hindsight, that the facility was not sufficiently protected by the State Department and the Defense Department. But what was the underlying cause? Perhaps if Congress had provided a budget to increase security for all missions around the world, then some of the requests for more security in Libya would have been granted. Certainly the State Department is underbudgeted…It would be much more useful for Congress to focus on providing resources for security for all State Department facilities around the world—for increasing personnel, language capabilities, for increasing staff to build relationships, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East. I would love to hear they are drastically increasing the budget.”
In 2009, the House of Representatives cut $1.2 billion dollars from the State Department budget. In 2011, Secretary Clinton warned Congress that continued cuts to the State Department security budget would be placing Americans at risk across the world – and she was promptly ignored by House Republicans, who slashed security funding by $128 million in 2011 and $331 million in 2012.  

Democrats blast Republicans in a stunning report: Grave Abuses of Power brought to light

House Democrats are fighting back after Republicans squandered millions of taxpayer dollars in a partisan effort witch hunt to attack a presidential candidate.

As one of the longest and most partisan congressional investigations in history, the Benghazi Select Committee’s actions serve as a case study in how not to conduct a credible, legitimate investigation.

The Select Committee broke the promise it made to the American people to address the attacks in Benghazi in a fair and balanced manner that would lead to improved security for Americans serving overseas.
The abuse of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds for partisan purposes to influence a Presidential election discredits the House of Representatives. It is a disservice to the American
public, the men and women who serve our nation, and the families of those who were killed during the attacks.
In order to create a historical record for Congress to consult before establishing any future select committees, the abusive and improper conduct of Republicans on the Benghazi Select Committee is set forth in the examples below, from A to Z.

Click on each entry for detailed information regarding misconduct on the part of House Republicans.


SOURCE: “Honoring Courage, Improving Security, and Fighting the Political Exploitation of a Tragedy,” – Report of the Democratic Members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi

ENOUGH WITH BENGHAZI says, The View. Good discussion

But some of the strongest criticism came from View stalwart Whoopi Goldberg, who noted, “It makes no sense, you know? Look, if you’re gonna go after her — look, this is a part of the problem… [Hillary Clinton] sat with the Republicans, she sat with everybody she was supposed to sit with. She talked about everything; she didn’t do anything!” she exclaimed. “Walk away! Get something new. We’re bored with it. It’s done.”
The panel noted how the NRA is now using the investigation in a series of pro-Donald Trump ads, indicating that despite the best efforts of both parties in their Select Committee reports (the committee’s Democrats released a shorter report on Monday, finding no wrongdoing whatsoever), the issue has become politicized.
The cohosts of The View argued that despite the lack of substance from the newly-released Republican-led report, the public perception damage against Clinton has already been done through the smear effort. “They already put it in our minds that it’s [Clinton’s] fault. The problem with society and social media is that once you put it in our minds, you can’t get it out. It sticks.”

EMERGENCY DECLARATION: Jet Stream Crosses the Equator for the first time: Climate Scientists say it has never happened before: Time to worry is now.

In a column on Tuesday, environmental blogger Robert Scribbler noted that the Northern Hemisphere Jet Stream had merged with the Southern Hemisphere Jet Stream.
“It’s the very picture of weather weirding due to climate change. Something that would absolutely not happen in a normal world,” he wrote. “Something, that if it continues, basically threatens seasonal integrity.”
“Like many extreme events resulting from human-forced climate change — this co-mingling of upper level airs from one Hemisphere with another is pretty fracking strange,” Scribbler explained. “Historically, the Tropics — which produce the tallest and thickest air mass in the world — have served as a mostly impenetrable barrier to upper level winds moving from one Hemisphere to another. But as the Poles have warmed due to human-forced climate change, the Hemispherical Jet Streams have moved out of the Middle Latitudes more and more. ”
“That’s bad news for seasonality,” he continued. “You get this weather-destabilizing and extreme weather generating mixing of seasons that is all part of a very difficult to deal with ‘Death of Winter’ type scenario.”
“Our climate system behaviour continues to behave in new and scary ways that we have never anticipated, or seen before,” Beckwith observed. “Welcome to climate chaos. We must declare a global climate emergency.”

911 Tape when Gun Loving Woman Shoots and Kills her two daughters

FULSHEAR, Texas -- Police have released disturbing 911 audio in the case of aTexas mother who police say gunned down her two adult daughters before she was fatally shot by an officer.
Police say Christy Sheats, 42, shot and killed her two daughters , 17-year-old Madison and 22-year-old Taylor, Friday in the family's home outside the Houston suburb of Fulshear. Her husband Jason Sheats, 45, survived.

Trump on Terrorism: If you can't beat em, join em. Margaret and Helen

Margaret, which voters have their heads farther up their asses, Trump supporters or Brexit voters? Wait a minute.  Is it farther or further? I don’t know, but either way the asshats they are now wearing aren’t  making anyone great again.
I know I offended some Bernie fans when I posted my support of Hillary.  But let’s be clear on how the cow ate the cabbage.  We need to get on the same team or we’re gonna end up a lot deeper in the shitter than the Brits. If Donald Trump wins this election, the only Bern anyone will be feeling is heartburn. 
Donald thinks the way to handle terrorists is to fight fire with fire. According to him, water boarding is bad but it’s no worse than what the terrorist do. So Donald’s plan to deal with terrorists is to be more like the terrorists?  In my book, that’s kind of like solving gun violence by giving more people guns.  No wait…
You know what?  I give up.  If violence is your answer then you are too stupid to be asked the question in the first place.  Donald’s response to terrorism is torture. His response to a global  financial crisis is to celebrate the increase in greens fees at his Scottish golf club.  His response to abortion is to punish the woman.  His response to immigration is racism.  His response to Orlando is to double down on racism. His response to a debate question about sexism is to attack the female moderator.  His response to a disability is to mock the disabled.
I’m willing to agree to disagree with the Bernie supporters about who is the better Democratic nominee.  In the end, I think we can find common ground.  But Donald doesn’t like common ground because he can’t develop it for a profit.  News Flash: his supporters aren’t looking for common ground.  They (and their leader) seem to prefer scorched earth.
I wish I had something funny to write.  I really do.  But this isn’t funny anymore.  I mean it.  Really.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Congressman Schiff: We must stand up to the NRA

 had enough. How long are we to keep going from mass shooting to mass shooting without something changing?
I thought that the movie theater mass killing in Aurora, Colo., would shock the nation's conscience. Twelve were killed and more than 50 injured in only seven minutes during a showing of "The Dark Knight." At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting since Columbine, also in Colorado. But nothing changed after Aurora.
And then I was convinced that the turning point would have to be theshooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., when 20 young children and six adult staff members were gunned down in a school. Five minutes was all it took to murder 26 and wound another three.
Again, I was wrong. Again, Congress declared a moment of silence, and did nothing.
Just this month, 49 were murdered and another 53 wounded at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando. This will go down, for now, as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It follows close on the heels of another mass shooting not far from our community, in San Bernardino, Calif.
When I woke up on the morning of the Orlando attack, reports of the massacre left me numb. Yet another mass shooting, this time by someone who had pledged allegiance to terror groups abroad. His motivations are still not completely clear — it will take time to unravel the degree to which he was radicalized by foreign terrorist organizations or acted on his hatred of LGBT people. Plainly, as the president said, this was an act of terror and also an act of hate.

Here's what we can do in Congress, if we have the courage to stand up to the extreme positions of the National Rifle Assn. and its allies.
First, Congress should pass legislation to require universal background checks and close the gun show loophole, a step which is supported by almost 90% of the American people. This would help prevent guns from being easily trafficked from states with lax gun laws into those with strong laws, such as California. Second, Congress should quickly enact "No Fly, No Buy" legislation so that those who are on terror watch lists cannot easily purchase weapons. Finally, we should reinstate the assault weapons ban which expired in 1994 and hasn't been reauthorized. Assault weapons, like the guns used in Orlando, San Bernardino and Newtown, are weapons of war, and they have no place on our streets.
Just this Monday, the Senate failed to pass measures that would have blocked people on the terrorism watch list from buying weapons — both guns and explosives — and another measure that would close background check loopholes. These amendments were the lowest common denominator — things we already agree on in principle and the American people support by wide majorities. But many senators and representatives are so scared of the political power of the NRA that they refuse to back these common sense measures.
Despite this terrible setback, we are not powerless to move forward. President Obama shouldn't simply wait for Congress to come to its senses.
I recently wrote to the president to ask that he consider instructing the Department of Justice to enable the FBI to place a flag in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System on those that have been previously investigated for terrorism. This flag would notify the FBI if such an individual sought to buy a gun, and potentially trigger a 72-hour waiting period prior to the sale and allow the FBI to investigate further. We will never know if such a system would have disrupted the Orlando plot, but it could save lives in the future.

CNN talks about Trump policies about Terrorists, Trade and illegal Waterboarding

Just a general good, basic discussion of issues brought up by Trump. 5 min or so.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What if the GOP spent the same Resources (7 Million) on Gun Violence as spent on Benghazi

Another day, another Benghazi report playing politics on the backs of the dead. But somehow what we can’t do – what we can’t ever do – is “politicize” gun violence.

Four people died and ten more were injured in the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. Their lives were precious; their loss was great.
The Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghaziestimate that the committee has spent 782 days and over $7 million on investigating the attack in Benghazi – a calculation which “does not include the costs of: the independent Accountability Review Board; the eight previous reports by seven Congressional committees; the time, money, and resources consumed by federal agencies to comply with Select Committee requests; or the opportunity cost of not spending this money elsewhere, like improving security for our diplomatic officers abroad.”
Because, as conceded by then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in September 2015, the investigation was never about finding ways to “improve security,” but about damaging Hillary Clinton’s electoral prospects.
And all for naught. The latest report, after 782 days and over $7 million, has found “no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton.”
To be blunt: The House has wasted an enormous amount of time and resources investigating Benghazi for partisan politicking, while saying over and over this entire process has been necessitated by the four lives lost.
Meanwhile, they flatly refuse to invest any time or resources to researching gun violence and prevention, despite the fact that6,602 people have been killed by guns in the United States this year so far.
Over 6,000 deaths and over 13,000 injuries. 161 mass shootings this year alone. And Republicans refuse to act, haughtily lecturing people who are demanding action not to politicize the deaths of people killed by gun violence.

Trump Supporter Called Out for not being truthful

On CNN today, a supporter of Donald Trump attempted to defend the Donald for the millions of dollars he stole from hardworking people via Trump University. And she did so by using a tactic which is frequently employed by her boss: she just flat-out lied.
Gina Louden was the designated spokesperson for Trump, and when another guestsaid Trump U was a “fraudulent scheme,” Louden fired back with this:
“The Clinton Foundation hangs on more than 80 percent of the money that is raised.”
CNN host Carol Costello asked Louden:
“Where are you getting that figure?”
And that’s when you could tell Louden was just feeding the host a line of bull:
“It’s out there. It’s everywhere, you can google it yourself.”
Another guest, Democratic strategist Sally Kohn, noted:
“At what point does this not become okay? You can’t do that. This is a democracy, this is a civil society. We actually care about facts and information. And at what point in this crazy election does it become unacceptable to address real serious substantive concerns with your candidate by continuing to deflect and attack?
“At a certain point, we have to just call that. We have to say that’s not okay.”
Costello then said the segment was over because she was “uncomfortable” with Louden’s questionable comment.
Then, later in the hour, Costello came back on the air and announced this:
“Trump supporter Gina Louden said the Clinton Foundation — and I’m quoting here — keeps upward of 80 percent of the money raised. I promised to look into that number for you and my team has.”
The CNN host said that according to Politifact and, the 80 percent figure is total balderdash:
“80 percent number has been floated by many conservatives, but they may be referring only to the amount donated by the Clinton Foundation to outside charities.
“The bulk of the Clinton Foundation’s charitable work is actually performed in-house. And last year, one independent watchdog did an analysis of the foundation’s funding and found that 89 percent of its funding went to charity, earning it an ‘A’ rating.”
I hope we’ll be seeing more honest fact checking from the media in the months ahead. Donald Trump is a pathological liar, and American people have a right to know how full of crap he truly is.

Abortion Ruling: Trump silent on the most consequential Abortion Ruling in Decades: WEIRD

Have Trump campaign operatives finally muzzled their intemperate boss or does the campaign simply have no idea to what to say on an issue that pits its boss’s multiple personalities against themselves? Here’s the last we've heard from Trump’s beloved twitter account since mid-morning Monday, roughly around the same time that Hillary Clinton was reacting to the Supreme Court decisionoverturning Texas' unconstitutional anti-abortion law.
Hmm. About 24 hours later and still nothing on that game-changing decision, despite the fact that Trump took time last week to try to shore up the GOP’s evangelical base. Zip, despite the fact that people like Bible-thumper and conservative activist Ralph Reed have been singing his praises on the abortion issue.
So what's the gaping yawn in communication mean? Here's what: the Trump campaign's inability to issue any reaction whatsoever to the most consequential decision on abortion in decades reveals the kind of indecision that comes with a campaign that has no idea whatsoever who their candidate is.