Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio Would Like to Have a Beer With Devout Muslim Teenager Malala Yousafzai

Image Credit: AP

Whatever happened to smart and/or informed politicians? – ks


Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, had a very interesting answer to a very easy question during a Q&A session at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

At the event, Rubio was asked which non-politician he’d most like to share a beer with. His response? Malala Yousafzai, the 18-year-old, Pakistani teen who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating gender equality in education in Pakistan. She later won the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy for the rights of women and girls around the world.

Yousafzai is three years away from being able to drink legally in the United States, and Muslims who follow Islamic dietary laws do not drink alcohol.

The weirdest thing about the whole exchange is that Rubio was apparently unprepared to answer one of the easiest questions an American politician can be asked. The question is usually posed to voters as a way of gauging candidates’ authenticity, but Rubio certainly should have been able to whip up an answer that would not involve underage drinking.

While Rubio’s answer may be just as unflattering as the litany of bizarre answers Republican candidates gave in response to the question of which woman they would put on the $10 bill during the second GOP primary debate, it is certainly a better answer than Ben Carson’s response to whether Muslims should be allowed to be president.

Tom McKay – h/t Gawker

Marco Rubio Thought Nobody Would Find These 4 Skeletons In His Closet

Marco Rubio's ugliest moment: The mean-spirited ultimatum that showed the 2016 contender's true colors

(Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)


At the Republican presidential debate on CNBC earlier this week, Senator Marco Rubio dismissed a series of questions about some serious skeletons in his closet as “discredited attacks.” But in reality Rubio’s history of mismanaging money and financial troubles will come to trouble him, either in the Republican primaries or if he survives and becomes the party’s nominee.

Politifact took issue with Rubio’s casual dismissal of the controversy, and rated his description of them as “false”:

Rubio’s response was to dismiss all of Quick’s examples as partisan smear tactics.

“Well, you just listed a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents, and I’m not gonna waste 60 seconds detailing them all,” he said. He then went on to detail his blue-collar upbringing with immigrant parents.

The response made us pause, because we wondered what had been “discredited” about Rubio’s widely reported financial mishaps. In this context, “discredited” means the things Quick said are not true or accurate.

Here’s what Rubio did that will cause Republican and general election voters to take pause before they pull the lever for the telegenic right-winger:

  1. When he was in the Florida legislature, Rubio commingled his personal finances with the finances if his political committees. A newspaper investigation found that Rubio paid his wife Jeanette $5,700 for “gas and meals” while giving his relatives another $14,000
  2. Rubio charged thousands of dollars worth of restaurant meals to a credit card issued to him by the Republican Party of Florida while the cost of his meals was being covered by Florida taxpayers
  3. Rubio bought a house in Tallahassee, Florida with his pal state Rep. David Rivera. Rivera failed to make mortgage payments on the house, and was sued by Deutsche Bank for $136,000 as foreclosure proceedings began, soon to be stopped by a quick payment from Rivera. Rivera ended up in an ethics investigation and Rubio shoved him out of his inner circle as he sought more power in Florida and on the national stage.
  4. Rubio claims that he can run the entire country’s finances, but he can’t seem to keep his own house in order. He liquidated a $68,000 retirement fund in 2014, costing himself thousands n taxes and penalties – apparently because he needed access to the cash despite his $174,000 Senate salary. When he was asked about this by Fox News, Rubio said he needed the money to replace an air conditioning unit and for “college” for his children (his oldest child is 15, the others are 13, 10, and 8)

Politifact looked at Rubio’s skeletons and concluded, “All of these events happened and have been well-documented. It’s not accurate for Rubio to refer to the issues as ‘discredited,’ whether his opponents have used them to attack him or not.”

Nice try, Senator.

Government Watchdogs to Rubio: Vote or GTFO

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Senator Marco Rubio speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada October 8, 2015.

David Becker / Reuters


Government watchdog groups have a message for Sen. Marco Rubio: If you don’t want to do the work, it’s time to resign.

Rubio’s absences from Senate votes and committee work have piled up in recent months as he dedicated more and more time to running for president, but he toldThe Washington Post this week, he didn’t miss it. At all.

In the interview with the Post, Rubio said he was “frustrated” with the Senate, and said that in addition to running for the White House, he was not running for re-election. Asked if he would have run for re-election to the Senate had he not been in the midst of a presidential campaign, Rubio said he didn’t know.

Government watchdogs from across the political spectrum, from conservative-leaning to progressive-leaning, say that Rubio has to make a choice, and soon, about whether he wants to fully participate as a senator. And if not, he should step down. Senators are paid $174,000 a year for their work.

“As long as he is a sitting Senator, he should do the job of representing his state, show up for work, no matter how frustrated he is with his current job. He should make a decision one way or another, be straight with his constituents, and take the appropriate action from there,” said Ryan Alexander, president of taxpayer watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense.

“There can be legitimate reasons for Senators to miss votes, but deciding that you don’t like the job is not among them. If Senator Rubio does not want to perform his duties on behalf of the people of Florida, there’s nothing preventing him from resigning his seat,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“Either he does the work or he doesn’t. And if he doesn’t want to do the work of being a Senator then he shouldn’t be getting paid for it and should step aside so that the state of Florida gets two senators,” added Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight.

Rubio was absent for 10 percent of votes in 2014, and missed half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearings and meetings. Rubio has missed nearly 30 percent of votes this year, more than any other senator. Of his missed votes,more than a quarter came before he was a candidate for the presidency.

“His constituents have every right to expect the senator to do his job as long as he is in office. Rubio has earned the title of the ‘most absent senator,’ which is a disservice to those he is supposed to serve. If Rubio does not want to perform his duties as senator, he owes it to the public to leave office sooner rather than later,” added Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at the consumer rights group Public Citizen.


Rubio, addressing the issue on Sunday, said that said he wasn’t “missing votes because [he’s] on vacation,” and that the most important duty for a senator is constituent services, which his office still provides. His campaign declined to comment further.

Rubio had at least one defender: Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, who pointed to Senate dysfunction as a legitimate reason to miss votes.

“Unless one is the 60th vote for a bill the president intends to sign Reid’s partisan maneuvers and the President’s veto make most votes—on the floor and in committee—irrelevant,” Norquist told The Daily Beast. “Did Obama resign when he ran in 2008?”

Tim Mak

H/t: DB

Republican Obamacare replacement plans: A gift to the wealthy, a hit to the poor. As usual.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker waves a U.S. one dollar bill as he formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, July 13, 2015.   R

attribution: REUTERS


For people who’ve been paying attention, it pretty much goes without saying that the healthcare “reform” proposals by Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Scott Walker would hurt the poor and help the wealthy. That’s what they do, they’re Republicans. But not everyone has been paying attention, and not everyone is aware of how much Obamacare has actually done to level the economic playing field, at least in health care. So it’s definitely worth taking a look at what repealing that law would mean, and the New York Times’s Margot Sanger-Katz did just that.

One of Obamacare’s main effects has been to redistribute income. The law taxes wages, health insurance and medical devices, and raises insurance prices for wealthy, healthy people. It uses the money to subsidize insurance for people who are poor or whose health history made them poor insurance risks in the old system. As my colleague Kevin Quealy and I wrote last year, the law has had the effect of pushing back against income inequality. In addition to lowering the cost of buying insurance, federal dollars also reduce the out-of-pocket costs that low-income Americans now pay when they use those plans. […]Governor Walker’s plan appears to be less generous for many poor Americans. It would roll back the Medicaid expansion that has provided free insurance to low-income adults. It would distribute tax credits to those with private coverage on the basis of age, not income. […] [F]or people without a lot to spend on insurance, a comprehensive health plan may slip back out of reach. For others, an affordable plan might be so bare-bones that it wouldn’t kick in before a major health catastrophe.

Wealthier people, on the other hand, could fare better under this plan, as long as they’re healthy. They would get more federal money to buy insurance plans, and they would have the choice of buying cheaper, less comprehensive plans than those offered under Obamacare rules.

The Rubio plan, less detailed than Walker’s since it’s just an op-ed rather than a white paper, would do the same—provide some sort of tax credit for health insurance. But what it would also do is sweep away everything existing in Obamacare—all of the regulations that help keep prices down for the not-rich. That includes ending lifetime caps for how much insurance companies will pay out to keep you covered, or the provision that lets adult children stay on family plans up to age 26, or requiring all plans provide for preventive care services without any additional copays from patients. All of these things help keep healthcare costs down. The idea of getting rid of it all, as Sanger-Katz explains it, is that “[w]ithout all the rules, and without as many sick people in the system, insurance would be expected to become less expensive, and perhaps more inventive.” The problem is that we’ve tried that already, in the pre-Obamacare system. It didn’t work.

When you factor the massive cuts all Republican plans would make to Medicaid and the inevitable cuts that Medicare would experience once privatized (in Rubio’s plan and the Republican House budget), the hit to low- and moderate-income people is even bigger. That’s a feature, not a bug, in these Republican plans. Because, after all, there’s always the emergency room for those people.

Republican “Survivor”: A Proposal for Culling the G.O.P. Field

Voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take fifteen or twenty Republican primary candidates seriously.

Voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take fifteen or twenty Republican primary candidates seriously. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY


A couple of weeks ago, I was driving along the Belt Parkway, listening to Sean Hannity’s radio show, when the right-wing commentator said something that surprised me about the ever-expanding field of Republican primary candidates. This is getting ridiculous, Hannity complained—how are they all supposed to fit on the same stage for a debate?

Hannity’s fears have proved to be well grounded. On Wednesday, the former senator Rick Santorum, who had been the runner-up to Mitt Romney in the 2012 G.O.P. primary, announced his candidacy. On Thursday, it will be the turn of George Pataki, the former governor of New York. Who knows whom Friday will bring? Lindsey Graham? Rick Perry? Donald Trump? Herman (999) Cain? Ted Nugent?

Here, in alphabetical order, are the eight Republican candidates who, by Thursday, will be officially running: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Santorum. Then there are Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, two front-runners who have all but announced that they are in. Currently in the “exploratory” stage, we have Graham, Trump, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, and the benighted Chris Christie. That makes fifteen, with other outlying possibilities, too.

The number turns out to be too high for Roger Ailes, Hannity’s boss at Fox News. The network (along with Facebook) is set to host the first televised G.O.P. debate, in Cleveland, on August 6th, and it has said that it intends to limit participation to the top ten candidates in the polls, plus those who are tied. “It was a difficult call based on political necessity,” Howard Kurtz, the veteran media reporter, who now works for Fox, explained in a post on Tuesday. “With 17 or 18 Republicans gearing up to run, you simply can’t have a viable debate with all of them. Each candidate would receive a miniscule amount of time. No sustained questioning would be possible. And it would be bad television.”

Not everyone associated with the Republican Party is happy about Fox’s decision. Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, accused Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, of colluding with Fox to cull the field prematurely. “There are fourteen candidates who are serious people,” Kristol said (doubtless prompting a protest call from Trump). “I think they all deserve to be on the stage.” He proposed that they have two debates, with the candidates split up randomly. “Republicans would be interested. They wouldn’t turn off the TV halfway through.”

Kristol raises a good point. If Fox applied its proposed criteria on the basis of current polling data collated by Real Clear Politics, Santorum, who won eleven state primaries in 2012, would barely make the cut. Fiorina, the only female candidate, who has reportedly impressed Republican audiences in Iowa and New Hampshire, would miss out. So would Graham, Jindal, and Kasich, all experienced elected officials. That doesn’t seem fair, or even particularly democratic. So what to do?

The G.O.P. needs a procedure that affords all of the candidates an opportunity to impress while also acknowledging that voters (and viewers) can’t be expected to take all fifteen or twenty candidates seriously. One solution might be to turn the early stages of the G.O.P. primary into a version of “Survivor,” the long-running reality-television series.

Here’s how it could work. Following Kristol’s suggestion, Fox and Facebook would hold two debates on August 6th, with the candidates drawing lots to decide whether they appeared on the first or the second one. Each would receive the same amount of airtime, and the questions in the two debates would be broadly similar.

For the second debate, which CNN is scheduled to host from the Reagan Library, in Simi Valley, on September 16th, things would be different. A limit of twelve candidates would be imposed. Rather than follow the “Survivor” template literally, and have the candidates themselves decide who gets to appear at the debate and who doesn’t, it would be best to rely on surveys of likely Republican voters. The top dozen candidates in the poll of polls on September 9th, a week before the debate, would make the cut; everybody else would miss out. I’d leave it to the network executives and the R.N.C. to decide whether this debate would need to be split in two, like the first one. (CNN has suggested an alternative format for its event, using the full slate of candidates, in which the top ten candidates appear in one debate and the rest in another.)

The winnowing process wouldn’t end there. For the third debate, which will take place in October, there would be another cut, to ten candidates, with the poll of polls again deciding who is invited. And for the fourth debate, in November, there would be a final cut, to eight candidates.

By that stage, the G.O.P.’s Iowa caucus would be on the horizon—it’s now slated for February 2nd, but may well move up a bit—and the field might be starting to narrow of its own accord, regardless. But for now, and for the next few months, there are too many candidates, and some way of treating them equitably needs to be found.

My solution perhaps isn’t the best. Quite probably, it would favor candidates who have raised enough money to launch advertising campaigns and boost their poll numbers—but the current system does that anyway. Another possible objection is that focussing attention on the minor players would blur the message of the front-runners. I doubt that would happen. Bush, Rubio, and Walker would still get the bulk of the media’s attention.

On the upside, shifting to the “Survivor” model would afford everyone an opportunity, and it would inject a bit of excitement into the race early on. Over to you, Reince!

John Cassidy

Iraq War Supporters Run For The Hills




Among the prominent Iraq War figures TPM contacted: Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, Douglas J. Feith, Bill Kristol, Scooter Libby, Peter Feaver, Bruce Jackson, and Stephen Cambone. They all either declined to comment or did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

“They’re in their foxholes and they don’t want to say things, because they’re all sort of positioning to engage these candidates, be in the inner circle for these candidates,” said Shawn Brimley, executive vice president and director of studies at the Center for a New American Security who previously served on Obama’s National Security Council staff.

It was not too long ago, however, that many of the voices that initially cheered the Bush administration towards war were still loudly defending the decision.

Kristol, a neoconservative commentator who now is the editor of The Weekly Standard, told CNN last June he would not apologize for supporting the war, as it was the “right thing to do and necessary and just thing to do.” Likewise, Rumsfeld said in 2013 it would have been “immoral” not to invade Iraq. Former Vice President Dick Cheney also said last summer he had no regrets when asked about the decision.

Jeb Bush has tapped a number of members of his brother’s administration to advise him on foreign policy, including Wolfowitz, making Jeb’s grappling with the issue particularly awkward.

Republicans are “finally having the reckoning that is long overdue on the issue of Iraq,” according to Brimley.

“The silver lining for the Republicans is that it’s good that this reckoning is happening now, potentially very early in the primary,” Brimley said.

Still, a few Iraq defenders have emerged from the woodwork in recent days. John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Bush, said unequivocally that the decision to invade Iraq was the correct one.

Other hawks have danced around the intel heralded at the time — that Iraq was in possession of WMDs. They argue that was to blame.

“I think that most of the Republicans would say no — that the proximate cause of the invasion was the intel about WMDs. And had that intel not been there, we would’ve tried to get the no-fly zone going and the sanctions going,” Elliott Abrams, a former national security adviser in the Bush administration, told Bloomberg.

Michael Rubin, a Pentagon official during the Bush years, also said in an email to TPM that President Bush’s decision was justified by the intelligence available to him at the time. He added, “Reconstruction, redevelopment, and lengthy occupation both in Afghanistan and Iraq were mistakes. We have little to show for our efforts in either. The Washington model of throwing money at problems doesn’t work in the Middle East.”

Jim Hanson, executive vice president at the Center for Security Policy — which is led by Frank Gaffney, one of the most vocal Iraq War advocates — said judging a position on the Iraq War by what is known now is “unfair” and a “ complete cop out.”

“You don’t get to make decisions in hindsight. You take the best available intelligence and you make the best decision you can at that point in time,” he said. “Hindsight is not a part of the game, so I think it’s an unfair question to ask.”

Richard Perle, another prominent figure from the pre-invasion days, defended the 2003 decision in an interview with Huffington Post last week: “The evidence is strong enough and the cost of standing down would be not delaying for a week or two, but essentially abandoning the capacity.”

But some of the Iraq War’s biggest cheerleaders just wanted to move away from the argument entirely.

“Our collective intellectual efforts would be much better employed trying to understand how to manage the wars and threats we face now — none of which are going well — than continuing to rehash an argument we’ve been having for more than a decade,” Fred Kagan, once a promoter of the Iraq War who is now a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told TPM in an email.

Prominent Iraq War critics were not surprised.

“Clearly it was one of the largest blunders the U.S. has ever made in its foreign policy history,” said Paul Pillar, a former CIA counterintelligence official. “We still have much cognitive dissonance among those who promoted the war who have had a hard time recognizing that. If we are getting silence from neocons, it’s because they don’t have anything plausible to say in defense of the decision.”

Last Monday, Bush told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that, even knowing what is known now, he supported his brother’s decision to invade Iraq and his Republican rivals were quick to pounce. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) lined up against Bush, arguing that at least in retrospect, the decision to intervene in Iraq was a mistake.

Meanwhile, Bush recalibrated his position a few more times, before settling on an opinionThursday that, “I would have not engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.”

The issue of Iraq is unlikely to go away for Republicans.

“By virtue of who Secretary Clinton is — and she is the presumptive nominee, I would assume, on the Democratic side — they’re going to have to run at her on national security and foreign policy,” Brimley said. “Does being hawkish on foreign policy mean having to embrace all of the hawkish elements of the George W. Bush- kind of legacy? They’re struggling with this right now.”

Tellingly, Rubio — who counts Abrams and former Dick Cheney aide Eric Edelman among his advisors — has flipped again on the issue, arguing Sunday to Fox News’ Chris Wallace that “the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn’t run Iraq.”

When pressed whether the decision was a mistake knowing Hussein didn’t have WMDs, Rubio still wouldn’t say that President Bush made the wrong decision. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is mulling a presidential run, also said Saturday that Bush made the correct decision given what was known then. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is also expected to announce his White House candidacy next month, conceded Monday, “If I [knew] then what I know now, a land invasion may not have been the right answer,” but said the war was not a mistake and blamed Obama for withdrawing troops in 2011.

“We have somewhat similar debate going on right now with Iran — the fact that having a nuclear program doesn’t by itself constitute a case to do any one thing — to go to war, to negotiate or whatever,” Pillar said. “You have to argue the pros and cons.”

According to Pillar, the broader back-and-forth proves that we “are still stuck in the framework that the war promoters in the Bush administration gave us,” in that perceived threat alone justifies an invasion.


10 things you need to know today: May 6, 2015

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images


1.The U.S. investigates ISIS claims it staged Texas attack
Skeptical U.S. investigators are looking into the Islamic State’s claim that it wasbehind the attack at a Texas cartoon contest featuring images mocking Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The White House said it was too early to say whether ISIS really was involved in what would be its first strike in the U.S. Police shot and killed two men — Elton Simpson and his roommate Nadir Soofi — after they allegedly opened fire, wounding a security guard. A federal law enforcement agent said Simpson was under investigation before the attack.

Source: Reuters, Fox News

2.Mike Huckabee launches second White House bid
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday became the latest in a flurry of candidates to jump into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee, a former president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention, made a strong showing in his first White House bid, in 2008. On Tuesday, he jabbed at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and GOP rivals such as Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, saying he would be “funded and fueled not by the billionaires but by working people across America.”

Source: Bloomberg

3.Hillary Clinton backs citizenship path for undocumented immigrants
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday publicly backed establishing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States. “We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship,” she said at a Las Vegas high school. Seeking to draw a contrast between her view and that of rivals in the Republican party, the Democratic frontrunner said, “When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status.”

Source: USA Today

4.Investigators say Germanwings co-pilot rehearsed crash
French investigators reported Wednesday that the Germanwings co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing his airliner in the French Alps had entered crash settings on the plane’s previous flight in what appeared to be a rehearsal for the tragic fatal dive. Andreas Lubitz repeatedly set the altitude dial to 100 feet on a flight to Barcelona that ended normally, French safety agency BEA reported Wednesday. On the return flight to Dusseldorf, he allegedly locked the captain out of the cockpit and crashed, killing himself and 149 others.

Source: NBC News

5.Baltimore officer challenges prosecutor claim that Freddie Gray’s arrest was illegal
One of the six Baltimore police officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death has filed court papers challenging prosecutors’ claim that Gray was falsely arrested. A lawyer for Officer Edward Nero, who has been charged with assault, misconduct, and false imprisonment, said Gray had an illegal knife, and challenged prosecutors to produce it. Baltimore City’s State Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed the charges last week after receiving a police investigative report. She said the knife was legal under state law.

Source: Baltimore Sun

6.French lawmakers back bill likened to U.S. Patriot Act
The lower house of French parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would broaden the government’s spy powers. The bill, which is expected to easily pass in the Senate, was drafted days after gunmen killed 17 people in separate attacks — including one on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The so-called French Patriot Act would let intelligence agencies tap phones and monitor email accounts without a judge’s permission. Critics say it it is an unnecessary encroachment on liberty.

Source: The New York Times, AFP

7.Four sentenced to death for mob killing in Afghanistan
An Afghan court on Wednesday sentenced four men to death for participating in the March mob killing of a 27-year-old woman named Farkhunda who was wrongly suspected of burning a copy of the Koran. Forty-nine people, including 19 police officers, were tried for their alleged roles in the fatal beating, which caused widespread anger and spurred calls for greater women’s rights in Afghanistan. Eight others were convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Charges were dropped against 18, and the rest will be sentenced Sunday.

Source: The Associated Press

8.California water regulators adopt mandatory conservation rules
California’s State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday approved the state’s first rules for mandatory water conservation as the state struggles with an historic drought that is entering its fourth year. The emergency regulations require communities to slash water use by as much as 36 percent. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) ordered the cutbacks, which hit urban users hardest while giving broad exemptions to the state’s giant agricultural sector, even though it accounts for 80 percent of the state’s water use.

Source: Reuters

9. Loretta Lynch meets with Freddie Gray’s family and police in Baltimore
Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited Baltimore on Tuesday, saying she was considering a request from City Council President Jack Young for a civil rights investigation into the city’s police department after the death of Freddie Gray. He suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody. Lynch met with Gray’s family, protesters, city officials, police, and religious leaders. Calm has returned to the city following protests and riots, but Lynch said tensions between residents and police remain.

Source: Politico, The Associated Press

10.Federal government approves ferry service to Cuba
The Obama administration on Tuesday granted licenses to at least four companies to offer ferry service between Florida and Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. “I’m very excited, because this is a historical event in U.S.-Cuba relations,” said Leonard Moecklin Sr., managing partner of one of the companies, Havana Ferry. The move is part of an effort, announced by President Obama in December, to restore diplomatic relations between the U.S. and its former Cold War antagonist.

Source: Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Wall Street Journal

Marco Rubio: ‘Ridiculous And Absurd’ To Believe Gays Have Constitutional Right To Marry

Christian Broadcasting Network

Right Wing Watch

While his campaign touts his outreach to gay Republicans, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network this weekend that anyone who believes that gay people have a constitutional right to marriage have a “ridiculous and absurd reading of the U.S. Constitution.”

“There is no federal constitutional right to same sex-marriage,” Rubio said, before criticizing gay rights advocates for supposedly trying to shut down debate over the issue.

Watch Video Here

It doesn’t exist. There is no federal constitutional right to same sex-marriage. There isn’t such a right. You would have to really have a ridiculous and absurd reading of the U.S. constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex. There is no such constitutional right. Can a state decide to change their laws? Yes, but only through the political process, not through the court system and that’s what is happening now.

The advocates of same-sex marriage refuse to go to the legislatures because they can’t win that debate, they don’t want to have a debate in society. They want courts to impose it on people and they are not even satisfied with that. They have now gone further. They want to stigmatize, they want to ostracize anyone who disagrees with them as haters. It’s very simple. This is not a policy against anyone. I believe, as do a significant percentage of Americans, that the institution of marriage, an institution that existed before government, that has existed before laws, that institution should remain in our laws recognized as the union of one man and one woman.”

Brian Tashman

Marco Rubio leads GOP field in new national poll

Andrew Burton/Getty Images


Sen. Marco Rubio leads all Republican presidential hopefuls in a new poll released Thursday morning, capturing some momentum in the weeks after he became the third major Republican to announce his presidential campaign.

The Florida senator garnered support from 15% of the registered Republicans polled by Quinnipiac University, giving him a slight edge over his mentor Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who won 13% of the vote in the poll.

Rubio also performed the best of all the potential Republican candidates in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, trailing her by only two percentage points.

The poll — surveying national Republicans and coming nine months before the first votes will be cast in the Iowa caucuses — serves as a signal that Rubio has the potential to make a run at the nomination.

“This is the kind of survey that shoots adrenaline into a campaign,” said Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the poll, in a statement. “Marco Rubio gets strong enough numbers and favorability ratings to look like a legit threat to Hillary Clinton.”

Most early opinion polls have shown Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading the Republican field. Walker earns bronze in the new Quinnipiac poll, with 11% of respondents saying they would vote for him. A significant number of Republican primary voters — 14% — said they didn’t know who they planned to support.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz earned 9% of the vote in the poll, and his Senate colleague from Kentucky, Rand Paul, won 8%. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tied with 7% support — the rest of the field earned 3% or less. The margin of error for Republicans in the survey is 4.1 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac findings track closely with a CNN/ORC poll issued this week, though Bush beats Rubio by 5 percentage points in that survey.

All GOP candidates in the Quinnipiac poll trail Clinton, but the difference between Rubio and the former secretary of state is the smallest in all one-on-one battles: two percentage points. Paul lost to Clinton in a hypothetical match-up by four points; Christie, Walker and Huckabee by 5; and Cruz and Bush by 7.

In the CNN/ORC poll, the differences between Clinton and her rivals are much wider, with Rubio faring best by keeping the distance to 14 percentage points. CNN/ORC polled all adults, rather than registered voters, and asked the head-to-head questions with different wordings than did Quinnipiac, which could factor into the varied findings.

On the Democratic side in the Quinnipiac survey, Clinton continues to widely pummel the rest of the field. Vice President Joe Biden, who has not said he is running for the presidency, trailed Clinton by 50 percentage points for second place. Yet a majority of those polled say Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, a poorer rating than some of her Republican rivals.

“Yes she is a leader, but can she be trusted? Mixed review for Hillary Clinton on key character traits,” Malloy said.

Quinnipiac surveued 1,354 registered voters on landlines and cell phones — about half of whom are Democrats and half of whom are Republicans — yielding an overall margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

Theodore Schleifer, CNN

Sean Hannity gets schooled on immigration: “People won’t vote for a candidate who will deport your father”

Sean Hannity gets schooled on immigration: "People won't  vote for a candidate who will deport your father"

Sean Hannity (Credit: Jeff Malet,


The Fox News host is confused why Hispanic Americans don’t like the GOP. Fusion’s Jorge Ramos sets him straight

Last night, Sean Hannity spoke to Fusion host Jorge Ramos about why the Hispanic community refuses to back Republican candidates who share their cultural identity like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

He began by asking Ramos why we don’t hear much about how historic a Rubio or Cruz presidency would be. Ramos answered that, on the one hand, both senators are choosing to follow Barack Obama in not making his race an issue in the election, and on the other, both Rubio and Cruz are Republicans of Cuban descent, whereas the majority of Latinos are of Mexican descent and vote Democratic.

A slightly confused Hannity replied by saying that he doesn’t believe in identity politics, only to characterize Latinos as people who share conservative values he identifies with: “hard work, family values, conservative on social issues, deep faith, love of country.”

Ramos replied that “it’s immigration,” because “Latinos cannot see beyond immigration right now. It’s a very simple concept, Sean — people won’t vote for a candidate who will deport your father, your friends, your colleagues, and your students.”

Hannity detailed the draconian immigration policies of Mexico and Australia, then asked Ramos why it is that if you enter Mexico illegally from a Central American country, you’re immediately thrown in jail or deported.

“It’s awful,” Ramos replied, confounding Hannity’s expectations, “how they treat Central Americans in Mexico.”

Ramos then applauded America as being “an exceptional country, an immigrant country,” which caused Hannity to try talking over him, repeatedly saying “it’s not an illegalimmigrant country.”

Ramos went on to discuss the billions of dollars that immigrants — including undocumented ones — contribute to the United States economy, but all Hannity wanted to talk about were the problems that he believes they cause. “There’s the criminal element!” he said, before returning to the topic at hand — the possibility that the Republicans might have a Hispanic nominee for president.

“What I’m saying,” Ramos tried to conclude, “is that if Cruz and Rubio choose not to support immigration reform,” but Hannity cut him off and again appealed to identity politics.

“Even if it’s the first Hispanic American president?” he asked. “Wow.”