10 things you need to know today: July 29, 2014

Putin watches a parade to celebrate Russia's Navy Day on Sunday. 

Putin watches a parade to celebrate Russia’s Navy Day on Sunday. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service)

The Week

Judges rule Virginia’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, the U.S. and Europe tighten sanctions against Russia, and more

1. Court rules overturns Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban
A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional because barring gay couples from marrying amounted to a new form of “segregation.” The 2-to-1 decision, upholding a lower court ruling, extended a winning streak for gay marriage advocates in court. After the decision, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) said his state would end its “vigorous” defense of a similar ban. [The Washington Post]

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2. Washington and Europe tighten Russia sanctions
The U.S. and the European Union agreed to intensify sanctions against Russia for allegedly returning troops to the Ukraine border and sending heavy weapons to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The E.U. had been resisting tougher sanctions, but in the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, European leaders have rallied behind measures more severe than Washington’s. [The New York Times]

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3. Court says Donald Sterling can’t block Clippers’ sale
Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling lost a battle to block the team’s sale, when a California judge issued a preliminary ruling allowing Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, to proceed. Judge Michael Levanas said Shelly Sterling had the authority to negotiate the $2-billion sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer after two doctors found Donald Sterling to be mentally incapacitated. [USA Today]

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4. U.S. accuses Russia of violating missile treaty
The Obama administration on Monday accused Russia of violating a 1987 arms control treaty by testing a cruise missile. The State Department said it had attempted to talk to Moscow about the issue for more than a year. Under the treaty, Russia is not supposed to possess or test missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. Moscow said it dismissed the charge after an investigation. [CNN]

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5. Three law enforcement officers wounded in shootout with accused pedophile
Two federal marshals and a New York City detective were wounded Monday in a shootout with a fugitive child molestation suspect in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. The suspect, Charles Mozdir, died after being shot seven or eight times. Mozdir, 32, had been on the run for two years since a family friend accused him of molesting her son. Mozdir’s girlfriend reported him after seeing the case featured Sunday on John Walsh’s show The Hunt on CNN. [New York Post]

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6. Israel steps up strikes in Gaza
Israel hit Gaza overnight with the heaviest bombing of the three-week conflict. Israel targeted more than 70 sites, including government offices and other symbols of Hamas’ power. Israel also reportedly shelled Gaza’s only power plant, shutting it down. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a “prolonged” fight, and a Hamas leader whose house was hit said the strikes would not break Palestinians’ determination. [ABC News]

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7. Texas man charged with sending envelopes with harmless white powder
A Rowlett, Texas, man was accused on Monday of sending more than 500 letters containing white powder to government offices, schools, and other locations since December 2008. The suspect — Hong Minh Truong, 66 — was charged with false information and hoaxes. One batch of the mailings included a letter stating, “Al Qaeda back! Special thing for you. What the hell where are you Scooby Doo.” [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

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8. Congress announces $17 billion deal to improve veterans’ health care
House and Senate Veterans Affairs committee members unveiled a three-year, $17-billion deal on Monday to fix the veterans health-care system. Senate Democrats wanted $25 billion to reduce wait times for care; House Republicans wanted $10 billion. “The United States Congress is in my view a dysfunctional institution,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate committee, “so I’m quite proud of what we’ve accomplished.” [Fox News]

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9. Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar for $8.5 billion
Dollar Tree announced Monday that it was buying rival discount retailer Family Dollar for $8.5 billion. The surprising move came three months after Family Dollar announced that it would close 370 stores and slash prices following the latest in a series of disappointing earnings reports. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn had pushed for the merger of the No. 2 and No. 3 discounters, calling it “a big win” for Family Dollar shareholders. [The Washington Post]

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10. Bad timing killed the dinosaurs
What really wiped out the dinosaurs was a run of terrible luck, according to a new study published in Biological Reviews journal. The dinosaurs might have survived the impact of a six-mile-wide asteroid that paleontologists believe was the biggest factor in their demise if big plant eaters — prey for big carnivores — hadn’t just entered a period of decline. “If the asteroid hit five million years later or earlier, the dinosaurs might still be around,” one of the researchers said. [National Geographic]

House GOP Lowers Taxes On The Rich

Liberland

Surprise surprise.  The House GOP, largely incapable of passing any legislation did manageto pass a tax cut on Friday.  Guess who it helps?

You’ve probably heard this story before: House Republicans choose to cut taxes for the rich instead of the poor. On Friday, they did it once again. The House GOP had an opportunity to address an expiring law that would result in a significant tax increase on the poor. Instead, it passed legislation that would cut taxes for high-income Americans. . .

If the House legislation became law, the Center for Budget and Policy Prioritiesestimated that a couple making $160,000 a year would receive a new tax cut of $2,200. On the other hand, the expiring provisions of the {Child Tax Credit} CTC would cause a single mother with two kids making $14,500 to lose her full CTC, worth $1,725. The CBPP projects that 12 million people, including six million children, would either fall into poverty or fall deeper into poverty if Congress does not extend those 2009 changes. Taken together, these changes would be extremely regressive.

Yup, you guessed.

UN Rights Chief: Flight 17 Possible War Crime

Google Graphics

ABC News/AP

The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 may be a war crime, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday.

Pillay, the U.N.’s top human rights official, called for a thorough investigation into the violation of international law that occurred when the flight was shot down with a surface-to-air missile over a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists on July 17, killing all 298 people on board.

Pillay’s comments coincided with a new report by her office that says at least 1,129 people had been killed and 3,442 wounded in Ukraine’s fighting as of Saturday, and more than 100,000 have fled the violence since April.

“This violation of international law, given the prevailing circumstances, may amount to a war crime,” Pillay said of the downed jetliner, which U.S. and Ukrainian officials say was shot down by a missile from rebel territory, most likely by mistake.

“It is imperative that a prompt, thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation be conducted into this event,” she said.

Fighting over the weekend prevented a team of Dutch and Australian police officers from visiting the crash site to start searching for evidence and the remaining bodies. The Dutch government said a team of 26 forensic experts left Donetsk for the crash site on Monday.

A full-fledged investigation still has not begun at the crash site. Some bodies are still unrecovered and the site has been forensically compromised.

The report by the U.N.’s team of 39 field monitors in Ukraine says there has been an alarming buildup of heavy weaponry in civilian areas of Donetsk and Luhansk — including artillery, tanks, rockets and missiles that are being used to inflict increasing casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.

The report says such attacks could amount to violations of international humanitarian law.

Gianni Magazzeni, head of the U.N. office’s branch that oversees Ukraine, told reporters in Geneva that all governments must respect “the presumption of innocence of civilians.”

“There is an increase in the use of heavy weaponry in areas that are basically surrounded by public buildings,” he said. “All international law needs to be applied and fully respected.”

Sarah Palin Launches Online Subscription Channel

NEW ORLEANS, LA – MAY 29: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks during the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 29, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Yes, TFC friends, apparently there are people who still want to see and hear from Sarah Palin on a regular basis.  Go figure…

Liberaland

For $9.95 a month or $99.95 a year you can have access to Sarah Palin’s new online channel. Palin will oversee all content on the channel, which will feature her take on “important issues facing the nation,” and a behind-the-scenes look at her life as a “mother, grandmother, wife and neighbor.” This way you don’t need to filter through the lame stream media to access her pearls of wisdom: “I want to talk directly to you on our channel, on my terms — and no need to please the powers that be. Together, we’ll go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter.”

Palin created the channel with Tapp, the online-video venture formed by Jeff Gaspin, former chairman of NBCUniversal Television, and Jon Klein, former president of CNN U.S.

Channel members will have the ability to post their own videos to the Sarah Palin Channel, submit questions to her and participate in online video chats with her and other subscribers. Active U.S. military members can subscribe free of charge, according to TAPP.

 

Now read this:

10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2014

Palestinian girls celebrate the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, the festival to end Ramadan.

Palestinian girls celebrate the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, the festival to end Ramadan. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The Week

Violence declines under Palestinian-Israeli truce, Congress reaches a deal on veterans’ health care, and more

1. Strikes ease under Palestinian-Israelis humanitarian truce
Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket fire declined sharply on Monday as a humanitarian ceasefire took hold at the start of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan. Hamas said it wanted a 24-hour truce. Israel said it would respect “an unlimited truce” but would respond to any attack. Palestinian health officials said the death toll in the Gaza Strip had reached 1,032, most of them civilians. [The Wall Street Journal]

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2. Politicians agree on a plan to improve veteran health care
The leaders of veterans’ affairs committees in the House and Senate reached a deal to fix the health-care system for the nation’s veterans. The Veterans Affairs Department has been gripped by scandal for months since reports surfaced of patients waiting months for care at VA facilities and attempts to cover up the failings. VA committee leaders scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference Monday to announce their proposal. [Bloomberg News]

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3. Ukrainian separatists agree to let Malaysian investigators see crash site
Ukrainian troops launched an offensive to retake the area where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down, stalling international investigators’ efforts to reach the site hours after Malaysia reached a deal with pro-Russian separatists to let 68 Malaysian police officers visit the site. Officials in Australia and the Netherlands, where some of the victims were from, also plan to send officers. [The New York Times]

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4. Judge overturns Washington, D.C., handgun ban
A federal judge has ruled that Washington, D.C.’s ban on carrying handguns in public is unconstitutional. The overturning of the city’s ban marked a setback for local politicians who — faced with the nation’s highest murder rate two decades ago — imposed gun laws once seen as some of the toughest in the country. City officials plan to ask for a stay while they decide whether to appeal. [Al Jazeera America]

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5. Liberia closes borders to keep Ebola from spreading
Liberia closed most of its border crossings on Sunday as part of a campaign to impede the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. Ebola has killed at least 660 people — including two Americans — in West Africa. Only Liberia’s main entry points will remain open, and people there will be subject to inspections and testing. Ebola can kill 90 percent of those it strikes, but the current outbreak has killed about 60 percent. [Reuters, CBS News]

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6. Beach goers hit by lightning at Venice Beach, California
A 20-year-old man was killed and nine other people were injured in a lightning strike at California’s Venice Beach on Sunday. A witness said the jolt blasted roof tiles off of nearby buildings. Around the time of the afternoon incident the National Weather Service tweeted a warning, urging people to stay indoors if they heard thunder. Three other people were injured by the same rare lightning storm elsewhere in Southern California. [Los Angeles Times]

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7. Washington says it has proof Russia is shooting at Ukraine
The U.S. released satellite images on Sunday indicating that Russia was shooting rockets and artillery at Ukrainian forces from across the border to support pro-Russian separatists. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the need for an immediate ceasefire. Kerry also reportedly told Lavrov that Russia must stop shooting and sending weapons over the border. [The Washington Post]

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8. Man killed by plane crash landing on Florida beach
A father walking with his daughter was killed on a Florida beach on Sunday when a single-engine plane crash landed in the sand. The pilot and passenger in the 1972 Piper Cherokee sent a distress signal before bringing the plane down. Neither person on board was hurt as the plane came to a bumpy stop, but Ommy Irizarry, 36, of Georgia was killed, and his 9-year-old daughter, Oceana, was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition. [New York Daily News]

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9. Sarah Palin Channel launches online
Sarah Palin launched a subscription-based online video network — the Sarah Palin Channel — that she said would allow her to reach Americans with no “politically correct” media filter. “I want to talk directly to you on our channel on my terms,” she said in a video greeting viewers, “and no need to please the powers that be.” The site promises video chats, interviews, and clips from Palin’s events. Access costs $9.95 per month. [MarketWatch]

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10. Vincenzo Nibali wins the Tour de France
Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France on Sunday. The 29-year-old Sicilian — who calls himself “a flag-bearer of anti-doping” — was the first Italian to win cycling’s biggest race in 16 years. He won by picking up a second on his rivals wherever he could, then dominating in the grueling mountain phase, where he took three of the four stages he won in the tour. [CBS News]

Rula Jebreal Rails Against MSNBC For Labeling Her ‘Palestinian Journalist’ (VIDEO)

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Rula Jebreal former MSNBC Contributor

 

I have to wonder about the corporate bosses MSNBC.  If nothing else labeling her anything which might lead to a negative connotation, was simply inappropriate for a news organization.

TPM LiveWire

Jebreal said that there’s no reason to label her by her ethnicity, especially when she’s been counted on in the past to weigh in on issues across the Middle East as a journalist and expert.

“Is this how we label people? I think whoever is doing this PR campaign for MSNBC needs to rethink these issues,” she said.

She then suggested that MSNBC labeled her that way to make her seem “emotional.”

“Did I become Palestinian because this way you can describe me as emotional and as biased, and this way can avoid debate as to who is really biased on this issues?” she asked.

Jebreal was not forced out of her contract with MSNBC, but chose to pursue other opportunities.

“If I wanted to stay, I would have stayed,” she told TPM on Wednesday.

She also criticized MSNBC for calling her a Palestinian journalist on Wednesday, even though she calls herself a “Palestinian Journalist” on one part of her website.

Watch the interview via CNN here…

10 things you need to know today: July 27, 2014

An Israeli tank fires into Gaza

An Israeli tank fires into Gaza Andrew Burton / Getty Images

The Week

Hamas proposes a new cease fire, fighting thwarts investigators from reaching the MH17 crash site, and more.

1. Hamas calls for 24-hour truce as death toll tops 1,050
Hamas on Sunday requested a 24-hour humanitarian truce ahead of the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan. The request came one day after the militant Palestinian group rejected an Israeli-proposed truce, saying the terms were “unacceptable” because they did not mandate Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. More than 1,050 Palestinians have died in the three-week-old conflict, the majority of them civilians. [USA Today, NBC News]

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2. MH17 investigators thwarted by fighting in Ukraine
International investigators who were to inspect the MH17 crash site Sunday called off their visit due to intense fighting in the area between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists. “The situation on the ground appears to be unsafe,” Alexander Hug, deputy head of the European monitoring group, said. Small contingents of international observers have reached the site since the plane went down July 17. But though the Malaysian government struck a deal to grant greater access to foreign observers, heavy fighting once again delayed the deployment of more experts to the area. [The New York Times, BBC]

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3. New York Times endorses marijuana legalization
The New York Times editorial board on Sunday called on the federal government to repeal its ban on marijuana — which would effectively legalize the drug nationwide. Calling pot “less dangerous than alcohol,” the Times said that though there remained legitimate concerns about legalizing the substance, “on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization.” The Times did, however, add that the drug should only be sold to adults 21 and over. [The New York Times]

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4. U.S. doctor in Africa contracts Ebola
An American doctor working to contain the Ebola outbreak in Africa has tested positive for the deadly virus. Thirty-three-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly, who has been working in Liberia with the organization Samaritan’s Purse since October 2013, recognized the symptoms and isolated himself to prevent further spread. It is not known how he contracted the virus, which kills 90 percent of those it infects, though a spokesperson for the group promised an “intensive and thorough investigation.” [Associated Press, Reuters]

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5. Fighting in Libya leaves dozens dead
At least 38 people were killed and another 50 injured in Benghazi, Libya, in clashes between the military and Islamist fighters. The conflict began late Saturday when Islamist groups launched an attack on a special forces base in the city. Also on Saturday, 23 people were killed in a rocket attack near the main airport in Tripoli. Citing a concern that the fighting could spread, the U.S. on Saturday evacuated all personnel from its Libyan embassy. [AFP, Al Jazeera]

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6. Pope Francis begs for end to global crises
Pope Francis on Sunday made an emotional plea to end the various violent conflicts that have bubbled up around the globe in recent weeks. Citing the upcoming 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the pontiff said he was dismayed by the chaos claiming the lives of innocents — especially children — in the Middle East and Ukraine. “Please stop,” he said at the close of his regular address. “I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop.” [Reuters]

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7. Video shows first American suicide bomber in Syria
An Al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria has released a video showing a U.S. citizen who carried out a May suicide attack in Syria’s civil war. The group, the Nusra Front, released a video on Friday that shows 22-year-old American citizen Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha smiling and speaking before a May 25 attack on the Syrian army. “I want to rest in the afterlife, in heaven,” Abu-Salha says in the video. “There is nothing here and the heart is not resting.” [The Guardian]

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8. Costa Concordia reaches final resting place
The wreck of the cruise ship Costa Concordia completed its journey to a Genoa scrap yard Sunday, bringing to an end a two-year salvage operation. The ship capsized after running aground in January 2012, and sat partially submerged before being “re-floated” in one of the largest ever maritime salvage operations. [The Guardian, BBC]

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9. Obama urges Central American leaders to stem immigrant surge
President Obama called on the heads of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to help curtail the flood of young migrants to the U.S-Mexico border following a 90-minute White House meeting with the foreign leaders. “Children who do not have proper claims, and families with children who do not have proper claims at some point will be subject to repatriation to their home countries,” Obama warned. [Politico, The New York Times]

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10. MLB Hall of Fame to induct three legends Sunday
Baseball’s Hall of Fame will on Sunday induct three of the most iconic players from the past generation — Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas — along with a handful of managers. All three players earned entry on their first year of eligibility. The trio of selections came one year after Hall voters selected zero players in what was widely seen as a symbolic rebuke of the steroid era. [Baseball Hall of Fame]

Sunday Talk: The daddy party – 07-27-2014

ALT TEXT

Daily Kos

If, as is widely expected, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz should both decide toseek the GOP nomination for president in 2016, the race will be a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican party.

And, more importantly, it will deliver themost epic campaign surrogate match-up in American history.

Rand, a self-certified ophthalmologist, is the son of conspiracy theorist/Russiaapologist Ron Paul, MD—himself a two-time primary loser.

The good doctor’s experience with direct mail would certainly be a boon to Rand’sminority outreach efforts; and he’d need all the help he can get on that front.

After all, Ted’s outspoken father, Rev. Rafael Cruz, hails from Cuba (and later Canada), which makes Ted a bona fide minority—unlike Rand, who just plays a minority in urban settings.

 

Morning lineup:

Meet The Press: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Chris Gunness (United Nations Relief and Works Agency); Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI); Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY); Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); Roundtable: Judy Woodruff (PBS), David Brooks (New York Times), Nia-Malika Henderson (Washington Post) and Ruth Marcus (Washington Post).

Face The Nation: Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin; Roundtable: David Leonhardt (New York Times), Amy Walter (Cook Political Report), Anthony Salvanto and John Dickerson (CBS News).

This Week: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX); Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX); Roundtable: Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), S.E. Cupp (CNN) and Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich

Fox News Sunday: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA); Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi; Roundtable: Brit Hume(Fox News), Kirsten Powers (USA Today), George Will (Washington Post) and Juan Williams (Fox News).

State of the Union: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Sen. Lindsey Graham(R-SC); Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley; Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA); Julia Ioffe (The New Republic).

 

Elsewhere:

A Florida state senator was so impressed by convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza’s latest “documentary” that he wants it shown in every school statewide.

Republican Alan Hays, inspired after seeing the movie in theaters, said he now plans on introducing a one-page bill in November which wouldrequire all 1,700 Florida high schools and middle schools to show the movie to their students, unless their parents choose to opt them out. The documentary film is a conservative-spin on American history focusing on elevating the “essential goodness of America” while discrediting criticisms about American’s checkered history with civil rights and social justice. It’s not completely inconceivable for the bill to pass the Republican-controlled Florida legislature and be signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Scott.”I saw the movie and walked out of the theater and said, ‘Wow, our students need to see this.’ And it’s my plan to show it to my colleagues in the legislature, too, before they’re asked to vote on the bill,” Hays said.

 

Dumb And Dumber Headed To Texas Border

King-Bachmann

I couldn’t resist posting this article.  The headline had me at “Dumb and Dumber…”  So apropos for these two.

Liberaland

U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said on Friday that he is heading to the Texas-Mexico border this weekend to assess the current immigration crisis, and he will be joined by Michele Bachmann (R-Minn).

They will visit the areas of Brownsville, McAllen and Laredo, meeting with the Border Patrol and local officials. King has been a critic of  immigration reform and has called for toughening border security, according to KCCI.

His jaw dropping statements such as immigrants weighing “130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” will only add to the problem.

Stuff King shouldn’t say again while visiting our Southern Border:

“We could also electrify this wire (on the border) with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time.”

King comparing immigration laws to picking a dog: “You put out a beacon like the Statue of Liberty and who comes here? The most vigorous from every country that has donated legal immigrants to America. The cream of the crop. We’ve always had bird dogs around our place. In our family there’s a black lab and white lab, a yellow lab, and my brother has a chocolate lab. Well, you go in and you look at a litter of pups, and you watch them. You watch how they play — they run around a little bit — and what do you want? You want a good bird dog, and you want one that’s gonna be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest, the one that’s in games the most — not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner. You want a pet to sit on the couch, pick the one that’s sleeping in the corner. That’s — so, you get the pick of the litter, you got yourself a pretty good bird dog. We got the pick of every donor civilization on the planet because it’s hard to get here; you had to be inspired to come. We got the vigor from the planet to come to America. Whichever generation it was, and then we taught our children that same thing.”

King on the United States’ official language, “One of the great things about America is we’ve been unified by a common language. That common language, of course, is English. Our language is getting subdivided by some forces of the federal government. It is time to speak with a common voice. The argument that diversity is our strength has really never been backed up by logic. It’s unity is where our strength is. Our Founding Fathers understood that. Modern-day multiculturalists are defying that.”

“When we give the welfare state, then people won’t be able to come out of it. It’s the biggest trap that people can have,” Michele Bachmann said in 2011.

Both politicians are “pro-life” Christians. It will be interesting to see how the two will reject children who are fleeing violence and still be OK with GOP Jesus.

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