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The Definitive Guide To What Bundy’s Biggest Supporters Are Saying Now

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

What he said previously: Appearing alongside Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on KSNV-TV, Heller praised Bundy and his supporters: “What Sen. Reid may call domestic terrorists, I call patriots.”

What he’s saying now: A spokesman for Heller told the New York Times that the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.”

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

What he said previously: Earlier this month, Paul criticized the federal government on a Kentucky radio station and said he’d prefer for the dispute to be worked out in court: “The federal government shouldn’t violate the law, nor should we have 48 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams.”

What he’s saying now: After a spokesman told the New York Times that the senator wasn’t available for comment, Paul condemned the remarks Thursday in a statement to Business Insider: “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.”

Fox News Host Sean Hannity

What he said previously: The Fox News host has staunchly defended Bundy and his supporters, going so far as to suggest that Sen. Harry Reid and the federal government were planning a secret raid on Bundy’s ranch. He’s also slapped down high-profile criticisms of his support for Bundy, most notably from Comedy Central comedian Jon Stewart.

What he’s saying now: Hannity hasn’t come forward with a position on Bundy’s latest comments. He still has a radio show and a Fox News program to broadcast today, though, so his take may be forthcoming.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)

What he said previously: Perry appeared Wednesday on Fox News and suggested the federal government was instigating the conflict: “I have a problem with the federal government putting citizens in the position of having to feel like they have to use force to deal with their own government.”

What he’s saying now: Perry appeared Thursday on CBS This Morning and dodged the question: “I don’t know what he said, but the fact is Clyde (sic) Bundy is a side issue here compared to what we’re looking at in the state of Texas. He is an individual. Deal with his issues as you may.”

After Perry had a chance to read Bundy’s remarks later in the day, his spokesman told Business Insider via email that the governor “thinks they are reprehensible and disagrees with them in the strongest possible way.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R)

What he said previously: The gubernatorial candidate did not weigh in on the Bundy standoff specifically. However, he called attention to the BLM’s management of federal lands in Texas in a letter sent Tuesday to the director of the agency, saying he was “deeply troubled” by reports that the agency planned to “regulate the use of federal lands along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River.”

What he’s saying now: A spokeswoman for Abbott told the New York Times that Abbott’s letter to the BLM “was regarding a dispute in Texas and is in no way related to the dispute in Nevada.”

Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R)

What she said previously: The lawmaker told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in a testy interview that she thought the federal government’s handling of the conflict with Bundy was “suspicious:” “Don’t come here with guns and expect the American people not to fire back.”

What she’s saying now: Fiore disagreed with Bundy’s comments on race in a statement that also reaffirmed her opposition to the BLM’s actions: “I strongly disagree with Cliven Bundy’s comments about slavery. Mr. Bundy has said things I don’t agree with; however, we cannot let this divert our attention from the true issue of the atrocities BLM committed by harming our public land and the animals living on it.”

Arizona state Rep. Kelly Townsend (R)

What she said previously: Townsend, who participated in a rally near the ranch earlier this month, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that video of a clash between anti-government protesters and BLM rangers disturbed her: “Watching that video last night created a visceral reaction in me. It sounds dramatic, but it reminded me of Tiananmen Square. I don’t recognize my country at this point.”

What she’s saying now: Townsend hasn’t responded to Bundy’s latest remarks. TPM has reached out to Townsend for a statement and will update when we receive a response.

Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack

What he said previously: Mack, who helped organize the militia on Bundy’s ranch, equated the rancher and his supporters to civil rights icon Rosa Parks in recordings flagged by Right Wing Watch: “This particular peasant said, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’m not rolling over for this one. You guys are out of line, you don’t own the land, you don’t own our ranch, you don’t own us. … This was Rosa Parks refusing to get to the back of the bus.”

What he’s saying now: Mack hasn’t yet responded to Bundy’s remarks on slavery.

National Review Correspondent Kevin Williamson

What he said previously: Earlier this month, Williamson wrote that “a little sedition” à la Bundy is a good thing: “Of course the law is against Cliven Bundy. How could it be otherwise? The law was against Mohandas Gandhi, too, when he was tried for sedition.”

What he’s saying now: Williamson explained in an email to TPM that like “the men who died at the Alamo,” probably, Bundy has “repugnant” views that are distinct from the issue at hand: “Mr. Bundy’s racial rhetoric is lamentable and backward. It is also separate from the fundamental question here, which is the federal government’s acting as an absentee landlord for nine-tenths of the state of Nevada.”

Conservative Pundit Dana Loesch

What she said previously: Loesch has written extensively in support of Bundy on her blog.

What she’s saying now: The pundit wrote in a blog post that Bundy’s comments could have been blown up because he wasn’t media trained. She also argued that “the left” was attempting to tie his anti-government activism to racism.

 

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Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy Makes Ridiculously Racist Comments, Says Blacks Might Have Been ‘Better Off’ As Slaves

Cliven Bundy

Clive Bundy | Getty

Bundy and his supporters are finally hitting at the heart of their issue.  It was just a matter of time before the real reason for their protests emerged.  In my opinion, they hate the fact that there is a Black President and Attorney General.  Hence the support from the far right-wing militia types who also reject the leadership in the White House…

Business Insider

Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who some Republicans and conservative activists have rallied around in a high-profile fight against the federal government, made disparaging comments about African-Americans in an interview with The New York Times published Thursday.

Bundy wondered if African-Americans might have been “better off” as slaves, referring to them as “the Negro.”

From The Times’ Adam Nagourney:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Bundy’s recent standoff with the federal government exploded on the national scene as activists flocked to is ranch to support him.

Bundy’s fight with the federal Bureau of Land Management dates to 1993 when the BLM eliminated livestock grazing in the area, citing the protection of an endangered tortoise species. That was when Bundy decided to stop paying grazing fees. And now, the agency says he owes more than $1.2 million in fees. A federal judge first ruled in 1998 that Bundy was trespassing on federal land. Last year, a federal judge ruled the agency could remove the cattle.

The BLM, among others, says Bundy is breaking the law. Bundy says the land is his property, and he has accused the federal government of being overreaching and oppressive.

Bundy’s case has won support from prominent national conservatives, including Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Dean Heller of Nevada. In a statement provided by a spokesman for Paul to Business Insider on Thursday, Paul denounced Bundy’s comments.

“His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” Paul said.

Heller also immediately distanced himself from Bundy’s new controversial remarks.

“Senator Heller completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way,” spokesman Chandler Smith said in an email.

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10 things you need to know today: April 24, 2014

Hamas and Fatah join forces. 

Hamas and Fatah join forces. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The Week

Rival Palestinian factions join forces, the FCC abandons net neutrality, and more

1. Rival Palestinian factions announce plans for a unity government
The two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, announced plans to form a unity government in the next few weeks. The rival groups — Fatah controls the West Bank, Hamas runs the Gaza Strip — made a violent break in 2007. The U.S. said it was disappointed with the reconciliation deal, and predicted it would “seriously complicate” peace efforts with Israel. Hamas’ militant Islamists don’t accept Israel’s right to exist. [Voice of AmericaThe Jerusalem Post]

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2. FCC gives up on net neutrality and proposes internet fast lane
The Federal Communications Commission officially gave up on its bid to ensure all internet content is treated equally, and announced Wednesday that it was proposing rules to let companies such as Disney and Netflix pay internet service providers for faster lanes for their streaming content. The FCC’s decision to give up on what’s known as net neutrality came three months after an appeals court struck down rules that tried to guarantee an open internet. [The New York Times]

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3. Ukraine takes back a town from separatists
Ukrainian police cleared pro-Russia separatists out of city hall in the southeastern city of Mariupol, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Thursday. The move came a day after government forces regained control of the town of Syvatogorsk as Kiev stepped up operations against rebels. Russia said it would respond if its interests were attacked, and President Obama said he was ready to impose new sanctions against Russian leaders. [BBC NewsBloomberg News]

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4. U.S. doctors killed at hospital in Afghanistan
Three American doctors were shot and killed by an Afghan security guard at an American-run Christian hospital in Kabul, the U.S. embassy said Thursday. Several other people were injured. The shooting was the latest in a series of insider attacks against foreigners in Afghanistan ahead of the planned withdrawal of international troops at the end of the year. The facility, CURE Hospital, mostly provides medical care for needy children. [The Washington Post]

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5. Politician says doomed South Korean ferry was overloaded with cargo
A South Korean lawmaker, citing prosecutors, said the ferry Sewol was overloaded with 3,600 tons of cargo — three times its recommended maximum — when it tipped and sank a week ago. Divers have recovered 156 bodies, but more than 300 people are feared dead, most of them high school students. The ship’s captain has been arrested and accused of negligence and making an “excessive change of course without slowing down.” [NBC News]

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6. Facebook profits surge
Facebook reported quarterly earnings on Wednesday that shattered analysts’ expectations. The social network’s advertising revenue for the first three months of the year reached $2.27 billion, 82 percent more than the first quarter last year. The company also continued to make progress onboosting income from mobile users, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said, with mobile now accounting for 59 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue. [San Jose Mercury-News]

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7. Oklahoma high court ends execution delays over lethal injection drugs
The Oklahoma Supreme Court late Wednesday rejected two death-row inmates’ claim that they had a right to know the source of the drugs that would be used to kill them. The condemned men, convicted murderers Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, succeeded in getting their executions postponed as they demanded the information in court. The state Supreme Court paved the way for the executions to proceed, saying the men were just stalling. [The Associated Press]

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8. Apple surges thanks to iPhone sales
Apple shares shot eight percent higher in overnight trading after the company announced that strong iPhone sales had more than made up for a dip in demand for iPads in the first three months of 2014. Profits were up over a year ago, with revenue of $45.6 billion, $2 billion more than analysts expected. Apple also announced that it was boosting a stock buyback plan from $60 billion to $90 billion, and making a seven-to-one stock split. [PCWorldThe Wall Street Journal]

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9. FDA moves to regulate e-cigarettes
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday is unveiling a proposal to start regulating electronic cigarettes the way it does conventional cigarettes. The new rules would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and require health-warning labels. The regulations would also apply to cigars and pipe tobacco, which long avoided the tight control placed on cigarettes. [The New York Times]

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10. Jodie Foster marries photographer and actress Alexandra Hedison
Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster has married her girlfriend, photographer Alexandra Hedison, Foster’s representative said Wednesday. Foster, 51, has long guarded her privacy, and first acknowledged she was gay in a speech at last year’s Golden Globe Awards. Hedison, 44, dated comedian Ellen DeGeneres a decade ago, and appeared as an actress in the former Showtime series The L Word. [Reuters]

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Georgia Governor Signs ‘Unprecedented’ Gun Rights Bill

Gov. Nathan Deal, seated, signs House Bill 60 into law Wednesday in Ellijay, Ga. The gun law is a broad loosening of Georgia’s gun restrictions. Under the law, people with a license can carry a gun into bars, some government buildings and places of worship if religious leaders say it’s OK. 

I can’t believe the Governor of Georgia signed this incredibly dangerous gun “rights” bill.   What about the rights of potential victims of this madness?

The Huffington Post

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a sweeping gun rights bill on Wednesday.

House Bill 60, also known as the Safe Carry Protection Act, will allow licensed gun owners to carry their firearms into public places, including bars, nightclubs, schools, churches and government buildings.

“People who follow the rules can protect themselves and their families from people who don’t follow the rules,” Deal said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should reside at the forefronts of our minds.”

The National Rifle Association has praised the bill as “the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent state history” and called it a “historic victory for the Second Amendment.” Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun control organization started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), fought todefeat the bill, calling it “the most extreme gun bill in America.”

Colin Goddard, a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting who now works with the advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety, called the bill “unprecedented.”

“The Stand Your Ground expansion is truly a new type of Stand Your Ground as we know it,” Goddard said of the measure, which some critics dubbed the “guns everywhere” bill. “To expand it in such a way to remove all carrying or possession offenses is really unprecedented.”

For more on Deal’s thoughts on the bill, go to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Here’s The History Of NYPD Abuse That Turned Its PR Campaign Into A Twitter Assault

NYPDFrisk

CREDIT: PHOTO POSTED BY OCCUPY WALL STREET’S TWITTER ACCOUNT.

Apparently, it was not the response the NYPD was expecting.  Well done Twitterverse, well done…

Think Progress

The New York Police Department may be showing early signs of reforming its practices, but it still hasn’t come to terms with its image. In a PR gaffe that was seemingly predictable to everyone but the NYPD, the Department put out a call on Twitter for constituents to send positive photos about the Department’s work under the hashtag #myNYPD.

Tweeters documented a litany of alleged encounters that ended with detached retinas, a young black boy with a scarred face, and countless instances of beatings caught on camera:

The campaign had gone so awry by morning that the New York Daily News splashed the headline “Bash Tag” across its front page Wednesday morning.

But even now that Mayor Bill de Blasio has cut back on the rampant stop-and-frisks, Muslim spying, and brutality that became synonymous with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s NYPD, the department doesn’t seem to have shed the attitude that prompted NYPD Chief Ray Kelly to declare last year, “You might read something snarky on Twitter, but I could take you right now to 125th Street in Harlem and young men will stop me for my picture and give me a very favorable and friendly greeting.”

And while one of the NYPD’s biggest mistakes was failing to realize that Twitter is an inherently inhospitable forum for glowing public relations, it’s worth taking a look back at the patterns of systemic abuse that underlie the outrage:

Targeting young black and Hispanic men. The NYPD’s systematic campaign against the city’s young minority men is not just evidenced by statistics that show they stopped more young black men in 2011 than there are young black men in the city. The federal judge who ruled the police department’s stop-and-frisk program unconstitutional also found that the department explicitly targeted Hispanic and black men between the ages of 14 and 20 as “the right people,” and established de facto stop quotas that fueled the pervasive tactic.

Aiming to “instill fear” in residents. The administration that thought stop-and-frisk was the answer to everything developed its reputation in part through a campaign of fear. One state senator testified at the trial on NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program that New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly said his goal was to “instill fear” in young minority men. In one incident, an officer admitted during the trial that he told a 13-year-old to stop “crying like a girl” as he handcuffed and detained him.

Inflicting disproportionate violence. In September, NYPD officers shot two innocent bystanders when they were aiming for a mentally ill man, who they were purportedly intending to subdue with gunshots. Prosecutors later charged the mentally ill man for the injuries to the bystanders. In January, an 84-year-old man was left bloodied and hospitalizedafter he was allegedly beaten by police over a jaywalking stop. And during Occupy Wall Street Protests, officers reportedly used violence “without apparent need or justification” 130 times.

Labeling entire mosques terror cells so it could spy on abuse. One of the greatest reforms of the new NYPD under Mayor Bill de Blasio was disbanding the NYPD’s Demographics Unit, which engaged in pervasive spying of the Muslim community after 9/11. But the unit existed until just six days ago, and among its major accomplishments werelabeling entire mosques terror cells without any evidence of wrongdoing, and paying a 19-year-old informant to “bait” Muslims into criminal activity.

Over-zealous policing. While the vast majority of the rampant police stops under the Bloomberg administration resulted in no arrest at all, the most common reason for arrest was for marijuana, even though public possession of marijuana was already decriminalized in New York. The program intended to thwart gun violence snagged very few guns. And other prominent arrests included a 7-year-old who alleged stole $5 from an elementary school classmate, a street artist thrown to the ground for touching the sidewalk, and a real estate broker arrested for being a “smart ass.”

Arrest for documenting abuse. As evidenced by the most recent campaign, the only reason the public knows about many of the most egregious NYPD incidents is because they were documented by photos or recordings. But many individuals have reported arrests and even beatings by NYPD officer for trying to exercise their First Amendment right to record the police. The department even circulated a “wanted” poster for a couple that was legally recording stop-and-frisks.

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Filed under NYPD Police Abuse, Twitter

Obama doesn’t have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do

Let's leave Teddy's idea of manliness where it belongs — in the past.

Let’s leave Teddy’s idea of manliness where it belongs — in the past. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

The Week

When it comes to the issue of manliness, conservatives protest far too much

It seems beneath my manly dignity to give David Brooks a hard time for his comments decryingObama’s “manhood problem in the Middle East.” He made them on a Sunday talk show, after all, and we know that no one watches them. And anyway, people accidentally say stupid things on television all the time.

And yet, I suspect that Brooks actually meant it. Because even though he’s distanced himself from the conservative movement in all kinds of ways over the past six years (basically, since George W. Bush’s presidency went down in flames), one thing that’s remained consistent with him since his days writing paeans to American “national greatness” for William Kristol’s Weekly Standard is his tendency to swoon (in only the most manly of ways, of course) at dramatic displays of militaristic swagger and toughness.

When that kind of man’s man looks at Barack Obama’s policy in the Middle East — with its gratuitous displays of not bombing countries, not overthrowing their governments, and not invading and occupying them — he sees something less than virile, a little bit limp, and just a tiny bit flaccid (emphasis on the “tiny”).

He sees a girly man.

This certainly doesn’t place Brooks out of the mainstream on the right. On the contrary, Brooks’ comments on Meet the Press might be the most mainstream conservative thing he’s said in years. There is a long, deep, and highly repetitive tradition of testosterone-fueled bellicosity on the right that consistently justifies itself in terms of manliness and sees itself as the necessary antidote to the creeping, potentially fatal feminization of the nation.

Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first to valorize manliness (and decry feminization) in American public life. In the 95 years since his death, he’s been venerated by a broad swath of conservatives, and especially by the second-generation neocons and their one-time hero John “Battlefield: Earth” McCain. Hell, this faction’s leading political philosopher — Harvard’s Harvey C. Mansfield — even wrote a book titled Manliness, in part to defend men against all the mean and hurtful things that scary feminists like to say about them.

If all of this sounds a little personal to me, that’s because it is.

Back in 2002 when I worked as an editor at First Things — a journal that’s aptly been dubbed theNew York Review of Books of the religious right — I wrote a column for the magazine that got me into a bit of trouble. My son had just been born, and I wanted to make a case for the modern, egalitarian family in which fathers play an active role in the day-to-day drudgery and delights of raising small children. This was in contrast, of course, to the more traditional family structures usually defended in our pages.

Conservatives have a point, I argued, when they focus on negative consequences of women working outside the home; children often end up being raised by strangers in daycare centers, and women feel torn between their maternal instincts and their desire for careers. But the answer to such problems, I suggested, was not an (unjust, undesirable, and impossible) return to some earlier paradigm of stay-at-home mothering. It was rather an increase in fatherly involvement in the family — and perhaps even the advent of Scandinavian-style government-sponsored paternity leave to allow men to more fully share domestic burdens and rewards.

That didn’t go over well with our readers. At all. Not that I expected it to. But I did expect that the controversy would be about ideas. Instead it was about testicles. Mine, to be specific — and in particular about how my wife had quite obviously stolen them just before bullying me into denying the self-evident fact that mothers are forbidden to work outside the home, fathers are precluded from changing diapers, and God wants to keep it that way.

And then there was the special treat of a letter from Gilbert Meilaender — distinguished moral theologian, long-time friend of the magazine’s editor-in-chief (Richard John Neuhaus), and member of President Bush’s Council on Bioethics. As far as Meilaender was concerned, my ideas clearly flowed from a deep-seated longing to lactate.

As I wrote in my published response to the letters, this charge had about as much intellectual substance behind it as a playground taunt of “f–got.”

Another day at First Things, another reason to break from the right.

The important point is that when they pronounce on the subject of manliness, none of these people — not Teddy Roosevelt, not John McCain, not Bill Kristol, not David Brooks, not Harvey Mansfield, not Gil Meilaender — can be taken seriously on an intellectual level.

What they’re doing is some kind of ideological shtick, whether or not they recognize it as such. They’re either cynically flattering gullible men and attempting to whip them into a froth of indignation in the way that Fox News and talk radio hosts do every day — or else they’re inadvertently confessing their own gendered status anxieties. Either way, it’s both inaccurate and insulting to treat their grunts as more than irritable mental gestures.

Obama’s policy in the Middle East is wise or foolish, smart or misguided, moral or immoral. His “manhood” has nothing at all to do with it.

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This May Be The Most Atrocious Political Ad Of 2014

Nikki Haley

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC)

Think Progress

If you want to run for office some day, you better not believe that everyone is entitled to legal counsel before the government locks them away. Or, at least, that’s the message sent by a new Republican Governors Association ad targeting Vincent Sheheen, a former prosecutor who now represents civil and criminal clients in private practice. Sheheen is a Democratic candidate for governor against incumbent Nikki Haley (R-SC).
The RGA’s ad attacks Sheheen for “defend[ing] violent criminals” and ends with the tagline “Vincent Sheheen protects criminals not South Carolina.” Watch it:

The implication of this ad is that Sheheen is somehow unfit for public office because he once provided legal counsel to people accused of crimes. Indeed, the ad lists several serious crimes, including sex offenses and child abuse, that Sheheen’s clients were accused of committing. It is likely that many of these clients are very, very bad people.

But in the American justice system, we do not presume that anyone is guilty of a crime untilafter they have received a trial where they were represented by counsel — indeed, we afford all criminal defendants a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Moreover, as the Supreme Court explained more than half a century ago, the right to a trial often means little unless criminal defendants enjoy the right to counsel. Without an attorney, Justice Hugo Black wrote in 1963, an innocent man “faces the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence.”

Sheheen’s clients may very well have committed horrible crimes. But we do not lock people away in prisons in the United States until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is how we protect innocent men and women from winding up in those same prisons alongside the guilty.

This ad is at least the second time in as many months that Republicans lashed out at an attorney because he stood up for a person accused of a serious crime in court. Last month, every single Senate Republican who voted joined with a handful of Democrats to vote down Debo Adegbile, who was nominated to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The fact that Adegbile once signed a brief arguing that a convicted cop killer was unconstitutionally sentenced to die played a major role in the campaign against him. A panel of predominantly Republican judges eventually held that this death sentence was, indeed, unconstitutional.

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Filed under Gov. Nikki Haley

10 things you need to know today: April 23, 2014

Off to Asia. 

Off to Asia. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Week

The Supreme Court chips away at affirmative action, Obama meets with Asia allies, and more

1. Justices uphold Michigan’s affirmative action ban in college admissions
The Supreme Court, in a 6-to-2 ruling, upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment banning affirmative action policies in public university admissions. Michigan and other states, such as Florida and California, that have outlawed taking race into consideration in higher education have seen sharp drops in enrollment of black and Hispanic students, but the court’s majority said voters, not courts, should decide what policies to use. [The New York Times]

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2. Obama sets out to reassure Pacific allies
President Obama arrived in Japan Wednesday for a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of a four-nation tour of Asia. Obama is trying to show allies that the U.S. is “rebalancing” in the Pacific, to reassure them in the face of security concerns raised by China’s territorial battle with Japan over remote islands, and North Korea’s nuclear program. Obama will also makes stops in South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. [Voice of America]

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3. Ukraine calls an end to truce with pro-Russian separatists
Ukraine officially ended an Easter truce in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday and vowed to make a new push to remove pro-Russia separatists from occupied government buildings. The move came after Vice President Joe Biden visited Kiev and repeated a U.S. pledge to hit Russian leaders with new sanctions if they fail to reduce tensions. First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema said the U.S. had promised not to “leave us alone with an aggressor.” [TIME]

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4. Divers retrieve more victims from sunken South Korea ferry
The official death toll in the sinking of the South Korean ferry Sewol reached 150 on Wednesday as divers recovered dozens more bodies. Search crews said, however, that they would have to break through cabin walls to reach more victims. Most of the dead are high school students who were taking a trip. Two more crew members were arrested Wednesday, bringing the total number of crew arrested or detained by investigators to 11. [CBS News]

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5. Obama visits with families of Washington state mudslide victims
President Obama on Tuesday visited the scene of a massive mudslide that buried three dozen homes in a Washington state river valley on March 22. The bodies of 41 victims have been recovered. Two people are still missing. Obama viewed the site of the disaster from his hovering presidential helicopter, then met with relatives of victims in a small chapel, and promised federal support to rescue workers and others in the community. [Reuters]

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6. U.N. reports a massacre in South Sudan
United Nations officials said hundreds of civilians were massacred last week in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s oil-producing Unity state, where rebels recently took control. The U.N. said there were “piles and piles” of bodies, some inside a mosque. The victims were reportedly members of targeted ethnic groups. The killings in South Sudan, the world’s newest country, came 20 years after the genocide in a nearby nation, Rwanda. [The Associated Press]

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7. IRS employees got bonuses despite owing back taxes
The Internal revenue service paid $1 million in bonuses between Oct. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012, to employees who had failed to pay their own taxes, according to a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The allegedly tax-averse tax collectors also received more than 10,000 hours of extra vacation. Another $1.8 million went to employees cited for fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits and other infractions. [The Washington Post]

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8. Sherpas reportedly decide to leave Everest after deadly avalanche
Most of the Sherpa mountain climbers on Mount Everest have decided to walk out following the loss of 16 of their colleagues in an avalanche, a guide said Tuesday. It was the deadliest day ever on the world’s highest mountain. The bodies of three of the Sherpas still haven’t been recovered. The walkout is expected to severely curtail the normal rush for the summit in the narrow spring season. [The Associated Press]

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9. Bridgegate might disrupt World Trade Center development plan
The Bridgegate scandal dogging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is threatening to disrupt developer Larry Silverstein’s plan to finish the next World Trade Center skyscraper. He needs a guarantee from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to land a $1.2 billion construction loan for 3 World Trade Center. The agency’s board, which has begun reconsidering its mission since the scandal hit, is due to vote on the matter Wednesday. [Reuters]

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10. Pujols hits his 500th homer
Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols hit his 500th home run Tuesday night, an accomplishment only 26 of the 18,000 major league baseball players since 1876 have achieved. Pujols also pulled off a first by becoming the first hitter ever to whack his 499th and 500th homers in the same game. At age 34, he was also the third youngest player ever to reach the milestone. Only Alex Rodriquez and Jimmie Foxx got there quicker. [Los Angeles Times]

 

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Seen On The Internet 4-23-2014

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April 23, 2014 · 9:06 AM

The NRA Quietly Backs Down On Domestic Violence

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington about gun violence.

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre

Well, it’s a start…

The Huffington Post

For nearly a decade, the National Rifle Association successfully blocked a bill in Washington state that would have required alleged domestic abusers to surrender their firearms after being served with a protective order. Only those actually convicted of felony domestic violence, the nation’s largest gun lobby argued, should be made to forfeit their gun rights.

This past year, the NRA changed its tune. As the bill, HB 1840, once again moved through the state legislature, the gun lobby made a backroom deal with lawmakers, agreeing to drop its public opposition to it in exchange for a few minor changes. This February, with the NRA’s tacit approval, the bill sailed through the state legislature in a rare unanimous vote.

The NRA’s decision not to oppose the measure was a stark departure from its usual legislative strategy. For over a decade, bare-knuckled lobbying by the NRA hasdoomed similar bills in state legislatures across the country. Legislators who backed such bills, particularly in states with strong traditions of gun ownership, could practically be guaranteed a challenger after the NRA withdrew its endorsements or backed their opponents.

But over the past year, the NRA has quietly scaled back its scorched-earth campaigns against stricter domestic violence laws. The group has consulted with legislators in states across the country on bills similar to HB 1840. With the tacit approval of the NRA, Louisiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota have all passed or advanced bills banning the possession of firearms by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse, those served protective orders, or those deemed by the court to pose a physical threat to their families.

Minnesota state Rep. Dan Schoen (D), the sponsor of one anti-domestic violence bill, said he spotted an opening after the NRA helped pass a similar bill in Wisconsin.

“I called [the NRA's] government affairs person and said, ‘If they can do something in Wisconsin, a Republican-controlled state, there’s no reason we can’t do something like this in Minnesota,’” Schoen told The Huffington Post.

Schoen agreed to work on the bill with the NRA in exchange for its support. The original version required people who had been served restraining orders in domestic abuse cases to surrender their guns to law enforcement or a licensed federal firearms dealer. The NRA asked Schoen to make a few changes, one of which gave alleged abusers the option to turn their guns over to a friend or family member instead.

Once Schoen made the alterations, he said, the group became more agreeable. The bill is expected to pass the Minnesota legislature in the coming weeks.

“The NRA has been really good to work with on this particular issue,” Schoen said. “It pains me to say, but they have been.”

The NRA’s shift on domestic violence bills is not a complete about-face. The group still opposes efforts to broaden the definition of domestic violence to include related crimes, like stalking. It also opposes expanded background checks, which could prevent many convicted domestic abusers from purchasing guns in the first place.

So why did it change its stance on this particular issue, and why did it do so without any public notice?

The gun lobby wouldn’t say, but the timing suggests that politics, both internal and external, were at play. Documents and press releases reviewed by HuffPost show that the NRA began to relax its position on gun restrictions for alleged domestic abusers after March 2013 — the same month the New York Daily News reported that a top NRA official, Richard D’Alauro, had pleaded guilty to harassing his wife “by subjecting her to physical contact.” A judge served D’Alauro, the NRA’s field representative for New York City and its suburbs, a protective order and ordered police to remove all 39 guns from his home.

D’Alauro’s wife claimed that he had physically abused her for years. He settled the case by pleading guilty to harassment — a less serious charge than a misdemeanor. But once the case started attracting media attention, the NRA began softening its position on gun rights for accused domestic abusers.

A spokesman for the NRA confirmed that D’Alauro is no longer employed by the group, but said he could not comment for this story due to the personnel issues involved.

If the desire to avoid the taint of the D’Alauro saga wasn’t what compelled the NRA to change course, then perhaps a shifting political landscape did the trick. While the public is fairly split over tighter gun laws in general, people are less conflicted about the idea of taking guns away from domestic abusers. A 2013 poll conducted in Colorado by Project New America/Keating Research found that 80 percent of respondents believe judges should be able to order someone who is “convicted of domestic violence or given a restraining order” to surrender his guns to the court, compared to 55 percent of voters in the state who favor stricter gun laws overall.

Polling also shows a massive gender gap on gun control issues. A 2013 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted a few months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., showed that 65 percent of women favor stricter gun laws, compared to only 44 percent of men.

And women’s opinions clearly matter to the NRA, which is currently engaged in a high-octane effort to recruit a younger generation of women as both new members and gun rights advocates. The group will hold its first Women’s New Energy Breakfast on Sunday during its annual convention in Indianapolis. The description of the event, which aims to recruit new female members, says it will allow women to “socialize with other like-minded female NRA members women and learn about the many programs and outreach efforts just for the women of NRA.”

The NRA has also launched a new online outreach campaign called NRA Women, which aims to teach young, single women how to be “Armed and Fabulous,” fall in “Love At First Shot,” and “Refuse To Be A Victim.”

For those who follow the debate over gun rights, the NRA’s decision to soften its opposition to domestic violence bills suggests that it may be ceding some of its long-held terrain. Instead of fighting for the gun rights of alleged abusers, the NRA appears to be shifting its focus to bringing more women into the fold.

“I think this is a welcome, but calculated retreat by the NRA,” said Arkadi Gerney, senior policy fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress and author of a 2013 study on guns and domestic violence. “The NRA knows that their message — which is more guns everywhere and generally doing nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people — doesn’t resonate very well with most women in the United States.”

For gun control advocates, meanwhile, the NRA’s shift in position has provided the rarest of commodities: a chance to actually advance legislation. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who survived a point-blank gunshot wound to her head in 2011, was among the most visible advocates of the Senate bill to strengthen background checks that failed last April. She hasn’t backed off that push. But, in a telling sign of how she sees the current political landscape, she has also begun demanding that the Senate hold a hearing on the role of guns in domestic abuse.

“Many of those who perpetrate violence against women are still allowed easy access to firearms,” Giffords wrote in a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be delivered next week. “More action is needed – and soon. Women’s lives are at stake. We know more about the dangerous connection between domestic abuse and guns than we ever have.”

Giffords’ political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, has calculated that independent women voters have increasingly aligned with Democrats over the past two decades in support of stiffer penalties and tighter gun restrictions for domestic abusers. A well-funded newcomer to the gun rights arena, ARS plans to spend millions of dollars counteracting the NRA’s political influence in both state and federal races in 2014.

“Americans know that more must be done to protect women from gun violence,” said ARS senior advisor Pia Carusone. “Research shows that a broad bipartisan majority of voters, including independents in states with high rates of gun ownership, want their elected officials to take commonsense steps to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”

Like ARS, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun violence prevention group, Everytown, sees potential in the NRA’s subtle shift in its stance on domestic violence restrictions. The group plans to push for expanded domestic violence protections as part of a broader campaign to tie gun restrictions to women’s health and safety.

“We’re going to start to talk about the ways gun violence affects everyday Americans, including domestic violence, suicide, and child access to guns,” said Erika Soto Lamb, a spokesperson for Everytown.

With the gun-rights lobby in a bit of a retreat, gun control advocates are beginning to feel emboldened. “This is not your grandfather’s NRA,” Soto Lamb said.

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