Author: kstreet607

Politics! Politics! I love politics! Unapologetic Barack Obama enthusiast.

Texas Handgun Open Carry Bill Clears Legislature


Scott Smith, a supporter of open carry gun laws, wears a pistol as he prepares for a rally at the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Huffington Post

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas lawmakers on Friday approved carrying handguns openly on the streets of the nation’s second most-populous state, sending the bill to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who immediately promised to sign it and reverse a ban dating to the post-Civil War era.

Gun owners would still have to get a license to carry a handgun in a visible holster.

The state known for its wild west, cowboy history and some the nation’s most relaxed gun laws, has allowed concealed handguns for 20 years. Concealed handgun license holders are even allowed to skip the metal detectors at the state Capitol, as state troopers providing security assume they’re armed.

But Texas was one of only six states with an outright ban on so-called open carry, and advocates have fought to be allowed to keep their guns in plain sight. Cast as an important expansion of the Second Amendment right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution, it became a major issue for the state’s strong Republican majority.

“We think of Texas being gun happy, but we didn’t afford our citizens the same rights most other states do,” said Rep. Larry Phillips, a Republican from Sherman, one of the bill’s authors.

The House gave final approval on a mostly party-line 102-43 vote, drawing gleeful whistles from some lawmakers. A short time later, the Senate passed it 20-11, also along party lines, with all Republicans supporting it and all Democrats opposing.

Within minutes of the bill passing, Abbott sent a Twitter message that he’ll sign it. “Next Destination: My Pen,” Abbot tweeted.

The bill passed after lawmakers made concessions to law enforcement groups, who had been upset by an original provision that barred police from questioning people carrying guns if they have no other reason to stop them.

The final bill scrapped that language, meaning police will be able to ask Texans with handguns in plain sight if they have proper licenses.

Before Friday’s vote, police groups had demanded that Abbott veto the bill if it wasn’t taken out.

Gun control advocates have argued that open carry is less about personal protection than intimidation. Gun rights groups have staged several large public rallies in recent years, sometimes at notable historical landmarks such as the Alamo, where members carried rifles in plain sight, which is legal.

The open carry debate also stirred drama at the Capitol early in the legislative session, when gun rights advocates confronted one state lawmaker in his office. The lawmaker, Democrat Poncho Nevarez, was assigned a state security detail and House members voted to make it easier to install panic buttons in their offices.

“This session has been an alarming show of politicking that caters to a gun lobby agenda,” Sandy Chasse with the Texas Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “As a gun-owning Texas mom, this is not the Texas I want for my family or community.”

Just like the current concealed handgun law, the bill requires anyone wanting to openly carry a handgun to get a license. Applicants must be 21, pass a background check and receive classroom and shooting range instruction — although lawmakers have weakened those requirements since 2011.

Texas has about 850,000 concealed handgun license holders, a number that has increased sharply d in recent years.

It also recognizes the concealed handgun licenses issued in more than 40 states, and license holders from those states will be allowed to openly carry their weapons in Texas once it becomes law.

“I have great faith in our concealed license holders that they will do the right thing and carry their gun appropriately,” said Sen. Craig Estes, the Wichita Falls Republican who sponsored the measure in that chamber.

Democrats such as Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston said they fear violence on the streets.

“I hope we don’t have a host of Texans running around with a Rambo mentality,” Ellis said.


Rand Paul Has No Billionaire, Must Scrape For Cash

Crooks & Liars

Rand Paul’s role in the 2016 Republican primary is to peel off prospective young voters and disenfranchised liberals. So today’s spate of stories about how Rand Paul is being left out in the cold by his billionaires, leaving him short on cash should be viewed for the cynical manipulations they are.

We begin with Republico Politico :

In a presidential campaign defined by billionaire sugar daddy donors, Rand Paul has a problem: He doesn’t seem to have one.

While his rivals cultivate wealthy backers who will pump millions of dollars into their candidacies, Paul has struggled to find a similar lifeline. It’s led to considerable frustration in his campaign, which, amid rising concerns that it will not be able to compete financially, finds itself leaning heavily on the network of small donors who powered his father’s insurgent White House bids.

It hasn’t been for lack of trying. In recent months, Paul has sought to woo a string of powerful Republican megadonors — from Silicon Valley executives to a Kentucky coal mogul to the billionaire Koch brothers — who, it was believed, would be philosophically aligned with his free-market views. In each case, he met disappointment.

The author goes on to name Peter Thiel, Sean Parker and Larry Ellison as three billionaires Rand was counting on for financial help. Alas, Larry Ellison fell in love with Marco Rubio, Thiel is staying out of things for unknown reasons, and Parker is leaning toward Hillary Clinton.

I don’t buy the schtick. Mainstream Republicans wouldn’t let Rand Paul close to the nomination ever, because he doesn’t support the war machine. Given that, they really just want to use him to peel off those younger voters and liberal libertarians. This is why they’re tolerating his “the GOP sucks” nonsense and pretending it’s perfectly all right for him to play Democrat running in the Republican primaries.

Moving on to CNN, whose headline is “Rand Paul: The GOP’s Punching Bag.” This story is also framed for its intended purpose — to appeal to the less-mainstream types in the Republican party and independent category.

Rand Paul has a “kick me” sign on his back — and he put it there himself.

The Kentucky senator and Republican presidential candidate is thrilling his libertarian-leaning base with a campaign against the NSA and stinging criticism of his party’s history of Middle East meddling. But the moves are enraging other Republicans eyeing the White House with his opponents zeroing in on Paul’s comments this week that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party.”

Are we feeling sorry for that poor sad-sack politician yet? Piling on that way, shame on them.

And of course, the Patriot Act reauthorization plays into things here too.

The Paul-hating could come to a head this weekend when the Senate convenes for a rare Sunday session in a last-ditch attempt to prevent key NSA surveillance tactics from lapsing at midnight — something both President Barack Obama and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have sought to avoid.

Paul hasn’t hesitated to deploy every procedural tool available to thwart Senate action, leaving him with no friends on the issue among GOP presidential contenders.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is emerging as Paul’s top antagonist on the NSA and said such a strategy could result in “dangerous and severe consequences.”

On Twitter, the governor slammed “misguided ideologues who have no real world experience in fighting terrorism.”

This is what happens when you’re a hardcore Republican and you pretend you’re not. Yes, the libertarian piece is real, and it’s possible to applaud Rand Paul’s stance on that without actually supporting a guy who has no problem with big government sticking their probes in women’s vaginas.

Finally, we come to Fox News, who actually cut Paul out of their poll graphic even though he ranked higher than the bottom five shown.

America’s Liberal Surge Continues As Pro-Choice Americans Now Outnumber Pro-Lifers

obama and congressional liberals kill corporate tax cuts

atribution: None


America’s move to the left on social issues continues as a new Gallup poll has found that for the first time in seven years more Americans identify themselves as pro-choice than pro-life.

A new Gallup poll found that:

Half of Americans consider themselves “pro-choice” on abortion, surpassing the 44% who identify as “pro-life.” This is the first time since 2008 that the pro-choice position has had a statistically significant lead in Americans’ abortion views.


For most of the past five years, Americans have been fairly evenly divided in their association with the two abortion labels. The only exception between 2010 and 2014 was in May 2012, when the pro-life position led by 50% to 41%.

Prior to 2009, the pro-choice side almost always predominated, including in the mid-1990s by a substantial margin. While support for the pro-choice position has yet to return to the 53% to 56% level seen at the time, the trend has been moving in that direction since the 2012 reading.

The Koch fueled Republican takeover of state level offices has led to a surge in anti-choice legislation, but Republicans are out step with the direction of a majority of the country. At the federal level, when Congressional Republicans pass bills that take away the right to choose, they are appealing to a shrinking constituency of supporters.

Socially, the United States is moving to the left. Majorities in the country support immigration reform, same-sex marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and accept climate change as reality. On all of these issues, Republicans are in the minority.

The social movement to the left was also found in last week’sGallup poll that revealed that social liberals outnumber social conservatives. This hasn’t translated to success for Democrats in midterm elections because many millennials who share similar beliefs as Democrats don’t vote.

A recent poll by Toluna Quicksurveys found that Millennials support Democrats by a margin of 41%-21%, and 91% plan on voting in the 2016 election. The problem for Democrats is that 30% also said that they vote in presidential elections, but not in state and local elections.

Most Americans are pro-choice, but a sizable number of these individuals aren’t voting in the elections that determine the policy direction of many states on social issues. If pro-choice Americans don’t vote, their states elect governors and legislators that carry out an anti-choice agenda.

What this dynamic means for 2016 is that the Republican presidential candidates will be trying to win an anti-choice primary in order to run in a general election when the majority of voters are likely to be pro-choice.

The U.S. has shifted left on social issues, but for that shift to reflected in policy, voters must vote in non-presidential year elections.

Republicans can’t stop it. America is becoming a liberal nation.

Jason Easley

Watch ‘Christian’ RWNJs Blame Texas Flood Victims For Living Among ‘Gays’ And ‘Witches’ (VIDEO)

Are these people really that dense…?


The catastrophic flooding taking over Texas as of late is, naturally, overwhelming. People are dying, homes are being destroyed, along with thousands and thousands of lives that will have to find a way to start over from damn near nothing, from whatever they could throw in the car as they fled the flood’s path, if they were even that lucky. And while people around the country are scrambling to figure out how to help, as well as rationally, scientifically what leads to such massive weather-related events, there are others, devoid of science, compassion and humanity who would simply rather view it as an opportunity to cast judgment, proselytize and blame it all on God’s hatred for witches and “teh gays.”

As even beer companies find a humane, moral bone in their corporate bodies (if only for the opportunity of amazing PR advertising), compelling them to halt production of the bubbly suds for a while in order to, instead, can water for those in desperate need, RWNJ and “Christian” radio host Bryan Fischer and his audience are busy sitting on their asses coming up with bunk “Christian” theories like blaming the LGBTQ community and nonbelievers for the devastation.

“Rebecca in College Station, Texas,” called in Thursday to offer her theory to Fischer, obviously filled with Christian love and concern for others. Rebecca pointed out to Fischer that the portions of Texas hardest hit and deepest underwater due to the rains and flooding, are areas “that are overrun with witchcraft and sodomy,” referring specifically to Austin and Houston, which also, she gladly points out, is run by a “sodomite mayor.”

On the other hand, Rebecca righteously points out, where she lives there was no such devastation despite her living in a valley, and she attributes that marvel to her area because “we kicked out abortion.” She also says they were spared because folks in her parts are especially conservative.

Rebecca concluded:

“If God is judging Texas, it’s because of the witchcraft and sodomy that we’ve allowed to run rampant.”

Rampant! Rebecca says if you go to areas like Austin and Houston “you can just see it.” It’s so RAMPANT. You can hardly drive a block without a couple of queer witches pouring KY potions all over themselves or casting spells of latex and leather. Rainbows blot out the skies and the moon shines like a purple triangle.

Fischer, of course, agrees, stating that, if one is going to attribute supernatural causes to the floods in Texas, what Rebecca is saying makes a lot of sense. It also make a lot of sense that thousands of dragons are evacuating bladders filled with the blood of virgins upon Texas if you look at it from a fantasy point of view. You could go on and on with various insanities if coming up with wild theories through any tin pan alley theory.

Fischer responds to Rebecca, though:

“If you’re going to attribute the flooding in Texas to some kind of supernatural cause, you can make a geographical connection between the flooding and the practice of the occult and witchcraft and the embrace of homosexuality. That’s where the disaster is being felt the wors[t].”

Fischer goes on to compare Austin and Houston to Sodom and Gomorrah, as readers likely expected, stating that the disasters that overwrought both cities was very centralized to those two cities for the most part, just like Austin and Houston, and everyone knows just how gay and magical Sodom and Gomorrah were – like Studio 54 on Viagra and MDMA combined, and all the “blow” you want. Fischer stated:

“[Natural disaster] just wiped out those two cities where homosexuality had been embraced [so] if you’re going to make a case that there is some supernatural origin to this natural disaster, that would probably be the place to look.”

Right. Forget help. Forget organizing aid. Just dismissively swat your hands at the Texas flooding victims as being gay, or Wiccan, and forget them, right after you shake your head at how gay and filled with witchery folks who live in cities are. Don’t even consider that those dying may be straight, devout Christians, themselves. That’s what they get for even living amongst or passing through cities containing gay folks and “witches,” right? Show them God’s love by judging them to hell and forgetting them in likely their greatest time of need.

The victims of the Great Texas Flood thank you kindly for your help, Mr. Fischer. You and your audience are certainly making all the difference for those devastated by this latest natural disaster.

10 things you need to know today: May 29, 2015

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


1.Ex-House speaker Hastert accused of evading currency-reporting law
Former House speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted Thursday on charges that he tried to hide $3.5 million in hush money he allegedly paid someone to keep quiet about past misconduct. Hastert, 73, is accused of trying to mask nearly $1 million in bank withdrawals to avoid banking laws requiring banks to report cash transactions over $10,000. He also is accused of lying about the withdrawals to the FBI. Both counts carry up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Source: The Associated Press

2.FIFA’s embattled president, Sepp Blatter, faces reelection
FIFA officials are voting Friday on whether to give President Sepp Blatter a fifth term. Blatter has faced calls to resign since a corruption scandal erupted this week at the organization — soccer’s global governing body. He is expected to defeat his sole challenger, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, but Hussein gained support ahead of the vote. Blatter on Thursdayaddressed the scandal for the first since the Wednesday arrests of nine FIFA officials, denying blame. “We, or I, cannot monitor everyone all of the time,” Blatter said.

Source: BBC News, The New York Times

3.Pataki formally announces presidential bid
Former New York governor George Pataki, a moderate Republican, announced on Thursday that he would run for the White House in 2016. Pataki adds one more long-shot candidacy to an already crowded field, with more contenders expected to join the race soon. Pataki served for three terms, but has not held office since 2006. Lacking national name recognition, he polls behind a dozen GOP rivals. Announcing his candidacy with a swipe at Democrat Hillary Clinton for her high speaking fees. “She speaks for the middle class?” he said.

Source: Reuters

4.Volcanic eruption forces evacuation of small Japanese island
Japanese authorities ordered the evacuation of the small island of Kuchinoerabu on Friday after a volcano, Mount Shindake, erupted there. At least one person suffered minor burns from falling debris after the volcano sent rocks and black smoke into the sky, and a dense flow of rocks and hot gases toward the sea. The injured man and two others were airlifted out, and 133 others were evacuated by boats. Shindake also erupted last August, for the first time since 1980.

Source: The New York Times

5.Veterans overcharged for student loans to get refunds
The Department of Justice has arranged for military veterans who were illegally charged too much interest on student loans to receive up to $100,000 in refunds. Student loan service provider Navient Corp., formerly known as Sallie Mae, will begin issuing refunds in June. A total of $60 million has been set aside for 77,795 veterans overcharged when Navient violated a required 6 percent cap on interest rates for some loans. The average veteran will receive $770.

Source: The New York Times

6.Journal retracts high-profile study on gay-marriage views
The journal Science on Thursday retracted a December article on shifting attitudes toward same-sex marriage. The highly publicized study concluded that people’s attitudes toward gay marriage could be changed through brief face-to-face conversations. The study’s senior author, Columbia University political scientist Donald Green, asked for the retraction after his co-author, University of California graduate student Michael LaCour, declined to provide the raw data on which he based his conclusions. LaCour stood by his work.

Source: The New York Times

7.Christie changes his mind on Common Core education standards
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced Thursday that he was abandoning the Common Core program and calling for state education officials to develop new education standards. Christie once support the controversial Common Core, but said in the five years since its adoption it had created “confusion and frustration” for parents and created unanticipated new problems. “The truth is that it’s simply not working,” Christie said. “We need to do something different.”

Source: CBS News

8.N.C. governor vows to veto bill letting officials refuse to perform marriages
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said Thursday that he would veto a newly passed bill that would let magistrate judges refuse to perform marriages due to their religious beliefs. The bill does not single out same-sex marriages, but opponents say it would result in discrimination against gay couples, who can marry in the state under federal court rulings. McCrory said he agrees with fellow Republicans “with sincerely held religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman,” but that public officials must uphold their duties.

Source: Raleigh News & Observer

9. Dozens rescued from latest Texas floods
Emergency responders rescued dozens of people from continuing flash floods in Texas early Friday. Flood alerts stretch nearly 800 miles from southern Texas to central Missouri. Texas is facing its wettest May on record. At least 23 people have died in flooding and tornadoes caused by severe storms across Texas and Oklahoma in the past week. Another 14 were killed in northern Mexico. About 56,100 Texans remain without power.

Source: NBC News, CNN

10.National spelling bee crowns co-champions for second straight year 
The Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday ended in a tie for the second straight year. Before last year, the last tie was in 1962. This year’s winners — Vanya Shivashankar, 13, of Olathe, Kansas, and Gokul Venkatachalam, 14, of Chesterfield, Missouri — battled head to head for 30 minutes after the rest of the 285 contestants were eliminated. When Vanya correctly spelled “scherenschnitte” and Gokul spelled “nunatak,” the judges ran out of championship words and called a draw. Vanya was the first sibling of a former champ to win — her sister, Kavya, won in 2009.

Source: USA Today, CNN

Harold Maass

The Fake Clinton Scandals Are Back

AP Photo.


The right’s newest crusade has an old fake villain

Has Washington learned nothing from Whitewater? The Clintons have spent their entire political lives in the capital dogged by one fake scandal after another. And, as we’ve been reminded this week, the fake villain in many of their fake scandals always seems to be the same: Sidney Blumenthal.

By leaking emails between Blumenthal and Hillary Clinton to the New York Times, the House Select Committee on Benghazi majority staff evidently aimed to frame Blumenthal into a sinister narrative of Libyan intrigue, encouraging dark suspicions about his work for the Clinton Foundation and his relationship with the former Secretary of State. The fact that Blumenthalwas paid some $10,000 a month for working at the Clinton Foundation doesn’t change anything: This remains a fake scandal that will fail to turn up any real wrongdoing.

Having known Sid for nearly 40 years, I feel confident predicting that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the committee chair, will find nothing to substantiate the fantasies marketed by his staff to the Times, which set the stage for Blumenthal’s subpoena and deposition in a political show trial that will unfold sometime in the coming weeks. Sid passed along information that he thought might be useful to his friend, the secretary of state—someone he has known for nearly 30 years and with whom he worked closely in the Clinton administration.

As the emails illegally purloined from his computer by the Romanian hacker called “Guccifer” indicate, he kept that role separate from discussions about a Libyan relief project, which was intended to provide hospital beds and medicine. That project never got beyond the concept phase and remained entirely distinct from Blumenthal’s job at the foundation, which involved several projects—mostly concerned with President Clinton’s legacy. Certainly it was no crime for the foundation to pay him for that work.

Unfortunately, the Washington press corps tends toward exaggeration and worse when the subject is Sid—and, come to think of it, often when the subject is the Clintons, too. It was no surprise to see Karen Tumulty declare in The Washington Post that “Blumenthal had business interests in Libya,” as if he was making money there—when the reality is that he was never paid a penny and never asked the secretary for anything.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page went even further, demanding a Justice Department investigation of those alleged “business interests,” complete with a far-fetched theory that his emails to her were somehow “in violation of State rules,” while noting darkly that both “used private email addresses.”

The Journal editorialists, whose style harks back to their page’s decade-long Whitewater obsession, don’t specify what kind of email address Blumenthal, who is after all a private citizen, should have used. (Whether Hillary Clinton should have imitated her predecessors in using private email is a separate question that she has already addressed—and again, Blumenthal can’t be blamed for that.) But the Journal’s sinister, heavy-breathing tone, like so much coverage and commentary, remains unsupported by anything but speculation.

Meanwhile, nobody asks why the Republican Congressional leadership should feel entitled to squander millions of tax dollars on yet another Benghazi inquisition—despite last year’s exhaustive 2014 report by the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence, which effectively dismissed all the crackpot conjecture about cover-ups and conspiracies, following several other lengthy official investigations. Rather than any perfidy on the part of Blumenthal or Clinton, this episode demonstrates how little the Washington press corps has learned over the past two decades from pursuing bogus scandals like Whitewater.

It is telling when reporters suggest, for instance, that Blumenthal represents a “paranoid” streak in Hillary Clinton’s thinking—as if the years of conniving against her and her husband by a network of right-wing adversaries never occurred.

The media appears to have forgotten how, during Blumenthal’s first summer working in the White House, ideological refugee David Brock told him about wealthy conservatives, notably Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, who were spending millions of dollars on a secretive scheme known as the “Arkansas Project” to destroy Clinton’s presidency—and how those same figures lurked behind the Whitewater investigation, Kenneth Starr’s Office of Independent Counsel and the media campaign to smear the Clintons as somehow culpable in the 1993 suicide of White House lawyer Vince Foster.

Sid recounted this partisan offensive in The Clinton Wars, his account of the Clinton administration’s struggle against Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and the entire constellation of forces determined to bring down a Democratic president they considered illegitimate. In that struggle, he served as a loyal partisan, defending Bill and Hillary Clinton and, as he and others in the White House believed, the Constitution of the United States.

When Bill Clinton first invited Blumenthal to join the White House staff, the newly re-elected president wasn’t hiring a hatchet man. Over the preceding decade, they had established a friendship based not on common animosities, but a shared interest in how to renew the Democratic Party and progressive politics. Blumenthal had introduced Clinton to Tony Blair, then the new leader of Britain’s Labor Party and future Prime Minister, whose outlook was strikingly similar. Bringing together social democratic leaders across Europe with the U.S. president in what became known as “the Third Way” movement was a substantial part of Sid’s portfolio as a special assistant to Clinton.

But Blumenthal’s years of reporting on the American right had prepared him for a less uplifting mission—to confront the ongoing plot against Clinton by right-wing lawyers, operatives, and financiers, which already was building toward a climax by then. When the unfolding crisis finally concluded in Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial, Sid became the target of House and Senate Republicans (and his old friend Christopher Hitchens), who tried to set him up for a perjury trap.

In the process he was “demonized” in the Washington media, later writing: “To the right wing, I was the focus of evil in the White House. To the scandal-beat press, as a former journalist, I was a traitor, a Lucifer-like figure who had leaped from grace to serve the devil.” He had committed no offense, but left public service with over $300,000 in legal bills.

Not everyone was pleased by impeachment’s denouement—and many still suffer from Clinton Derangement Syndrome. So Sid has emerged again as an almost fetishistic object of spite (and a convenient surrogate for attacks on Hillary Clinton). He evokes turbulent emotion on the editorial pages of the Journal, the New York Post, and kindred outlets, which depict him as a ruthless, manipulative schemer, constantly immersed in skullduggery on behalf of his powerful patrons.

Rather than a perpetrator of dirty tricks, however, Sid has been a victim—and not just of Guccifer. On the first day that he went to work in the White House in the summer of 1997, the Drudge Report gleefully published a false, defamatory, anonymously sourced post that accused him of abusing his wife Jackie, to whom he remains happily married after 39 years. (The main suspect in that ugly episode was, not incidentally, a political columnist for the Journal.)

While his critics and enemies never succeeded in bringing Blumenthal down, they have concocted an image of him that is strangely flat and clichéd. Blinded by animus, they have no realistic sense of who he is, what he has done, or why the Clintons might continue to value his friendship. He’s a bit more interesting and complicated than their imaginary hobgoblin.

A talented and industrious writer, Sid has authored several significant books on American politics and co-produced two movies, including Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning documentary on the Bush administration’s torture policies, Taxi to the Dark Side. (Currently he is working on a four-volume series for Simon & Schuster about the political life of Abraham Lincoln.) Unafraid to dissent from the Clinton-bashing consensus among Washington elites, he indeed became a dedicated ally to Hillary and Bill, but not only to them—he has developed a substantial network of friends and contacts around the world. Familiar as he is with practical politics, what drives him is a commitment to liberal values and ideas.

“Sidney Blumenthal was not as billed,” acknowledged the late Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter in his 2000 memoir, recalling the day he deposed the presidential aide and longtime journalist in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. Specter, then a Republican, evidently intended a gruff compliment. Expecting a tense and combative witness—the “Sid Vicious” of tabloid headlines—he was surprised instead to find the White House aide and longtime journalist to be cooperative and even cordial.

Today it still seems rather simple-minded to define Sid, in the words of that Journal editorial, as an “opposition hit man.” And it is absurd to suggest, absent any evidence, that he committed some legal or ethical offense.

With another Clinton seeking the White House, an epidemic of derangement was sadly inevitable. Before November 2016, there will surely be more to come. But if there is indeed any scandal in this affair, it lies in the partisan abuse of power by Congressional Republicans, trying desperately to sustain a Benghazi investigation that should have ended many months ago.

Like the effort to frame Blumenthal during the impeachment trial, this too shall pass—and then fizzle away.

Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo

Whoops! A creationist museum supporter stumbled upon a major fossil find.

(University of Calgary)


Canadian Edgar Nernberg isn’t into the whole evolution thing. In fact, he’s on the board of directors of Big Valley’s Creation Science Museum, a place meant to rival local scientific institutions. Adhering to the most extreme form of religious creationism, the exhibits “prove” that the Earth is only around 6,000 years old, and that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.

Unfortunately, Nernberg just dug up a 60-million-year-old fish.


Local outlets report that the man is far from shaken by the bony fish, which he found while excavating a basement in Calgary.

Because here’s the thing: He just doesn’t believe they’re that old. And he’s quite the fossil lover.

“No, it hasn’t changed my mind. We all have the same evidence, and it’s just a matter of how you interpret it,” Nernberg told the Calgary Sun. “There’s no dates stamped on these things.”

No sir, no dates. Just, you know, isotopic dating, basic geology, really shoddy stuff like that. To be fair, I’m not any more capable of figuring out when a particular fossil is from than Nernberg is. I’d be one sorry paleontologist, given the opportunity. I’ve never even found a fossil, so he’s got me there. But the science of dating fossils is not shaky — at least not on the order of tens of millions of years of error — so this fossil and the rocks around it really do give new earth creationism the boot.

[Bill Nye the Science Guy annihilates creationists using emoji]

But this can go down as one of the best examples ever of why it’s downright impossible to convince someone who’s “opposed” to evolution that it’s a basic fact: If you think the very tenets of science are misguided, pretty much any evidence presented to you can be written off as fabricated or misinterpreted.

Even if you dig that evidence up with your own hands.

The scientific community is thrilled and grateful for the find, and the University of Calgary will unveil the five fossils on Thursday. These fish lived in a time just after the dinosaurs were wiped out, when other species were able to thrive in the giants’ absence. It’s an important point in Earth’s evolutionary history, because new species were popping up all over to make up for the ecological niches dinos left behind. Creatures from this era give us some breathtaking glimpses of evolution in progress. But it’s rare to find fossils of that age in Calgary, since most of the rocks are too old and yield dinosaurs instead.

Ironically, Nernberg’s contributions at the Creation Science Museum are almost certainly what scientists have to thank for the find. He’s an amateur fossil collector, and he knew the fish were special as soon as he spotted them.

“When the five fish fossils presented themselves to me in the excavator bucket, the first thing I said was you’re coming home with me, the second thing was I better call a paleontologist,” Nernberg said in a statement.

“Most people would have overlooked these. When these were uncovered, Edgar right away recognized them,” Darla Zelenitsky, paleontologist and assistant professor of geoscience at the University of Calgary, told the Sun. “He’s apparently interested in fossils, and that’s probably how he saw them. An ordinary person might have just seen blobs in the rock.”

Nernberg is reportedly seeking a cast of one of the fish so he can put it on display at the creationist museum.

Rachel Feltman

13 things you need to know about the fight over voting rights


The fight over voting rights is a highly partisan battle over how voting ought to work and which regulations are needed to make sure voting is accessible and fair.



GOP Should Run Scared As Bernie Sanders’ Appeal Expands Toward Traditional GOP Voters

Sen. Bernie Sanders | attribution: None


Republicans should start quaking in fear of Bernie Sanders, because his appeal is growing, and not just with young voters. Voters in his own age group are also drawn to him and his message. Sanders is 73, and the older generation currently makes up a large and critical piece of the Republican base. So the fact that he’s appealing to older people is not good news for Republicans.

Sanders is an independent from Vermont, however he caucuses with the Democrats and is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. According to an article in The New York Times, the people he’s appealing to are the people who remember a time when the top tax bracket was 90 percent, and the middle class thrived while the wealthy actually paid taxes.

Our top tax rate now is too low, with way too many loopholes, under the flawed and failed ideas of trickle-down economics. We don’t have a system that rewards work, it punishes work, and rewards greed. Back then, the system didn’t allow for the kind of greed we have today nearly as easily. Republicans want to make the top tax brackets even lower, though, on the lie that doing so will create well-paying jobs and make everyone prosper.

Another thing that’s oddly appealing to the older generation is the idea of free college at public universities. In fact, Sanders has declared that higher education should be a right. Of course, the right looks at that as “socialism,” despite the fact that other developed nations, like Denmark and Germany, have free university. Here, college is increasingly unaffordable and younger students are starting out their adult lives crippled with debt, in jobs that don’t help them pay for that debt.

Back when Sanders was young, many public colleges and universities offered education for free, or at very little cost, according toThe Times piece. You only had to pay good money to go to a private school.

Sanders’ message of tax the rich, redistribute wealth, and bring back a strong government that takes care of its people, tends to resonate with Millennials and the youngest Gen-Xers, who are still young enough to be idealistic. However, the older generation—the one that we expect to vote Republican—finds itself moved by Sanders’ evocations of times when things were better, thanks in part to a government that was strong enough to care about people.

Today’s Republicans try to invoke earlier times in the name of idealistic nostalgia, but they may fail when it comes to people who actually lived those times. These people remember when someone could actually retire after a long and productive life, and maybe have to tighten their belts a little, but didn’t face living in poverty, or having to continue working part-time. They remember when education was important to everyone. They remember when people were paid what they were worth, and when pay increased with productivity.

What they remember is what Sanders is appealing to. Republicans don’t want to take us back to the booming economy of the late ’40s, and the ’50s and ’60s. They want to take us back before the ’30s, when the rich could get richer without lifting a finger, and the plebes were more or less slaves to their bosses and their jobs, and often lived in squalor.

That’s not what Sanders has in mind. If he can appeal to enough of the older generation, as well as the younger generations, he’ll be unstoppable against any Republican candidate.