Tea Party

It’s Elizabeth Warren’s party now! How to remake it in the liberal heroine’s image

Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama | (Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque/Yuri Gripas/photo montage by Salon)

I’ll just say, I hope she runs in 2016…

Salon

If they’re smart, liberals could use Warren’s new power to make the changes to the party that are so badly needed

Despite being so notoriously difficult to get right, predictions are part of the pundit’s stock-in-trade. So once you’ve got some grains of salt ready to toss into the mix, please indulge me for a moment as I make one of my own.

Here it goes: Twenty years from now, assuming climate change has not yet ended the world as we know it, most American liberals won’t think of this fall as the time when Republicans finally retook control of the U.S. Senate. And they won’t think of it as the brief pause that separated the era of Barack Obama from that of Hillary Clinton. Instead, when the liberals of our near future look back on the current moment, they’ll remember it as the hour when the Democratic Party began to move decisively to the left, thanks in no small part to the continued ascendance of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Pessimist that I am, I’ll readily grant that this is very optimistic. In fits and starts, the party’s been moving leftward for a number of years now, and I’ve little doubt that the midterm blowout will be cited by some as proof that Democrats must become even more centrist. Yet unlike the talk surrounding a historically ignored election, which will dissipate quickly (especially if I’m right about the return of government-by-crisis), the opportunity raised by the Democratic Party’s recent decision to make Warren part of its Senate leadership has the potential to be far more enduring. But only if liberal activists know what to do with it.

At this point, it’s not entirely clear what the folks nominally in charge of this infamously disorganized party are trying to do by elevating Warren. Because the former Harvard Law professor has been prominent in liberal circles since the launch of her brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it can be easy to forget that she’s only been in Congress for a couple of years. And coming as it does after a truly disastrous midterm showing, this seeming vote of confidence from Democratic bigwigs has the risk of being a “glass cliff” situation. My former colleague Brian Beutler, for example, has guessed that Senate Dem leadership may have opted to bring Warren into the fold because they’ll need a popular spokeswoman to deliver the next two years’ worth of bad news to the “professional left.”

Still, even if Warren’s promotion isn’t motivated entirely or primarily by idealism and generosity, it could nevertheless be a major turning point for activists looking to push the Democratic Party in a more left-wing direction. After many years of kvetching about their paltry influence — and following decade after decade of enviously watching the conservative movement refashion the GOP in its own image — lefty ideologues and organizers now have the chance to turn Warren into a kind of trojan horse for a resurgent politics of economic populism (or, as it used to be called, liberalism). And if they adapt and adhere to the script used many years ago by visionary right-wingers, who famously responded to an electoral drubbing in 1964 by staying the course and propelling a true believer to the White House less than 20 years later, it just might work.

It’s not a perfect analogy, I admit. There are fundamental, irresolvable differences between liberals and conservatives, and they extend well beyond ideology and into the realms of psychology and sociology. (Liberals are less hierarchically minded, more demographically diverse.) Further, in spite of all the mythology about conservative movement turning the GOP into the “party of ideas,” the fact is that the men (and women, but mostly men) who transformed the party of Lincoln into the chief vehicle of the Reagan Revolution spent much more time talking about and organizing around what they were against — taxes, the welfare state, the civil rights movement, feminism, LGBT equality, the separation of church and state, etc. — than what they were for. And while there are certainly some recent Supreme Court decisions they’d like to see reversed, a politics centered around a return to the glorious past is, for liberals, not really an option.

But notwithstanding all of that, I still think the conservative example offers activist liberals unhappy with the Obama record –which is most of them — some valuable lessons.

For one, if left-wing troublemakers want to make Sen. Warren a Goldwater of their own, they’ll have to ignore the 2016 presidential race as much as possible. That doesn’t simply mean giving up on the lost cause of forcing Wall Street favorite Hillary Clinton to reinvent herself as a true progressive. And it certainly doesn’t mean wasting resources on a quixotic primary challenge, which in the present circumstances will do little more than help Clinton get back in the swing of triangulation. Instead, it means building institutional support from the bottom up by creating funding networks and community spaces outside of the Democratic Party’s reach, so lefties can feel personally invested in their cause without having D.C. grandees step in and tell them to be “serious.” That’s what right-wing activists did through churches, think tanks and mailing lists; and the often successful Internet-based organizing from people at Daily Kos and the Blue America PAC has already offered a hint of how those on the left can do it again.

For another, the conservative precedent suggests that even if policy is overrated when it comes to deciding the outcome of elections, it’s extremely important to be in control of the policymaking apparatus for the time that comes next. Our political culture may pay an inordinate amount of lip service to the idea that policy is a translated version of the people’s will, but the reality is that most partisans and politicians choose their policy views by following where their party leads them, not the other way around. Conservative dominance over the grants, scholarships and think tanks that comprised the GOP’s policymaking infrastructure was integral to the dramatic lurch to the right the party platform experienced between 1960 and 1976 (before Reagan’s coronation, you’ll note). And as the Tea Party’s recent takeover of influential right-wing policy shops like Cato and Heritage shows, the value of this approach has not over time been diminished. As Grover Norquist, one of the leading right-wing activists of his generation, noted in 2012, controlling the GOP policymaking machine made it so all conservatives needed in a Republican president was the ability to use a pen.

Last but not least, the success of right-wing activists from the past and present indicates that there can be long-term benefits in a short-term stint as the minority. To be clear, it’d be taking things too far to say that it’s a good thing Democrats now only control the White House. As the last four years have taught us, the powers of the imperial presidency don’t seem to extend very far into the realm of the domestic (at least not yet). So having a majority in Congress is vital, still. At the same time, there’s value, to a degree, in having a party with ideological coherence — increasingly so, I’d argue, in an era of institutional failure and partisan polarization. Most of the Democrats dissolved in the red tides of ’10 and ’14 were “blue dog” conservatives, and while their absence has stripped Democrats of control over Congress, it’s offered lefties within their ranks the chance to redecorate, as it were, now that the majority times have ended.

Perhaps more than anything else, though, what lefty activists should learn from their right-wing counterparts is this: In a dysfunctional two-party system such as ours, in which voters are perpetually unhappy and ready for any excuse to throw the bums out and start all over, it’s only a matter of time until the losers of yesterday are once again ascendant. And as the GOP has shown in the years since its back-to-back wipeouts in ’06 and ’08, responding to electoral defeat by moderating is no longer necessary, while moving further away from the center is no longer a death sentence. Now that they have a political superstar and ideological true believer as their behind-the-scenes agent, lefty activists with an eye on the long term have a chance to, in the words of Warren, “frame the issues for the next few elections” and ultimately make the Democratic Party truly progressive.

10 Ways Conservatives Sell Their Failed Policies

Obama-Exempt-Obamacare-Jobs-Cost

Poster mocking “Obamacare” | Conservative Report photo

This article is a bit long, but informative…

AlterNet

No, medical bankruptcy is not freedom.

Below are 10 examples of the far right using liberal-influenced rhetoric or terminology to promote destructive policies.

1. “Right to Work” Laws

Proponents of so-called “right to work laws,” which are especially common in Republican-dominated southern states, will claim that such laws are doing workers a favor by “liberating” them from the demands of labor unions. Southern Republicans tout “right to work” laws as a gift to the working class, insisting that collective bargaining is an impediment to one’s ability to be gainfully employed. But as the AFL-CIO and other labor unions have asserted, such laws just give the right to work for less, resulting in lower pay, inferior benefits and bad working conditions. According to the AFL-CIO, median household income in states with right to work laws is $6,437 less per year than in states that are more union-friendly—and in right to work states, only 50.7% of employers offer their employees health insurance compared to 55.2% in states that don’t have such laws. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has noted that the number of deaths in the workplace is 36% higher in right to work states than in union-friendly states.

2. So-Called “Restorative Therapy” For Gays

The Christian Right has been aggressively promoting so-called “restorative therapy” for gays, insisting that homosexuality can be cured with a big dose of Christian fundamentalism. Terms like restorative therapy and reparative therapy have a new age-like ring to them. In Texas—where Republican Gov. Rick Perry has compared homosexuality to alcoholism—such “therapy” is officially endorsed in the state’s Republican Party platform. But Texas Republicans aren’t doing gays any favor by promoting restorative therapy, which doesn’t work—and John Paulk (who, in the 1990s, became the far right’s poster child for turning gay men straight) has come out against it. Paulk now says what many gay activists have been saying all along: homosexuality is not a choice, but a sexual orientation one is born with, and restorative therapy is an abusive practice, especially when imposed on teenagers.

3. Generation Opportunity: Equating Medical Bankruptcy with “Self-Determination” and “Freedom”

Receiving huge donations from oligarchs Charles and David Koch and having strong ties to the Tea Party, the Virginia-based Generation Opportunity (or GenOpp for short) bills itself as a “nonprofit Millennial advocacy organization.” One of its main targets has been the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. GenOpp, using rhetoric like “self-determination” and “free the future,” has been holding youth-oriented rallies urging Millennials to sign a pledge to “opt out” of Obamacare exchanges. But what GenOpp calls “self-determination” or “freedom” could lead to medical bankruptcy for Millennials. Healthcare reform activists have been quite critical of GenOpp’s irresponsible “Opt Out of Obamacare” campaign. In 2013, Ethan Rome (executive director of Health Care for America Now) asserted that it was“seriously unconscionable” for GenOpp to urge Millennials to make a point of being uninsured and stressed that suffering a major illness or accident while uninsured could result in Millennials being “buried by bills and unable to recover for the rest of their lives.” To GenOpp and their friends at Koch Industries and the Tea Party, medical bankruptcy is “freedom”; to sane people, it’s a cruel and frightening hardship.

4. Social Security “Reform”: Butchering Social Security in the Name of “Prosperity”

When Republicans and the Tea Party speak of “social security reform,” they insist they have the best interests of senior citizens at heart and want to make sure they enjoy a comfortable retirement. “Reforming” social security was part of the so-called “path to prosperity budget” for 2015 that Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin proposed earlier this year, but Ryan’s potentially disastrous ideas for social security would be more like a path to poverty for seniors. Ryan would like to gut social security: his ideas have included allowing workers under 55 to invest large portions of their social security taxes in the stock market (a terrible idea in light of how badly Wall Street and the banking sector crashed in September 2008) and—according to estimates from the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities—cutting benefits by about 40% for workers making $43,000 a year and about 50% for workers making $70,000 a year. There was a time when some prominent Republicans (including President Dwight D. Eisenhower) recognized social security as a valuable element of the New Deal, but these days, Ryan and other Tea Party favorites speak of “reforming” social security when in truth, they want to butcher it.

5. So-Called “Pro-Life Feminism”

Founded in 1972, Feminists for Life of America is the leader of the so-called “feminist pro-life” movement—which claims that it is “empowering” women by fighting to deny them access to safe and legal abortions. The organization is big on pseudo-feminist rhetoric, often invoking the name of Susan B. Anthony and saying it employs “holistic, woman-centered solutions” when addressing unplanned pregnancies. But even though Feminists for Life of America calls itself nonpartisan, it has never been shy about associating with or endorsing the Christian Right. One of its outspoken members is former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whom the organization haspraisedfor her “pro-life feminist” views. And the former head of its California chapter is none other than long-time Republican Party activist Susan Carpenter-McMillan.

6. Christian Fundamentalists Promoting “Great Sex”

The Christian Right has a long history of being anti-sex, from opposing real sex education (choosing instead to support failed abstinence-only programs) to opposing birth control. But some Christian fundamentalists have tried to counter that puritanical image by insisting they want you to have wild, explosive sex. For example, 1Flesh describes itself as “a grassroots movement dedicated to bringing great sex to the entire universe.” But it is actually a far-right Christian fundamentalist site that opposes contraception. Similarly, christiannymphos.org is a website that addresses a wide range of sexual topics yet opposes any type of sex outside of marriage. These websites underscore the fact that when Christian fundamentalists try to sound liberal or progressive, they often end up showing how socially conservative they are.

7. The Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011

It isn’t uncommon for far-right Republicans to invoke the names of civil rights figures when they are pushing oppressive ideas. A perfect example was the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011. When Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona proposed the bill, he claimed that it was designed to prevent the epidemic of “race-selection abortions” and “gender-selection abortions” (an “epidemic” that doesn’t exist). But Franks’ attempt to sound like the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women all rolled into one fell painfully flat because it was obvious he wasn’t motivated by concern for women or African Americans—he was pandering to white anti-abortion zealots of the far right. Unafraid to call Franks out, Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan told him, “I’ve studied Frederick Douglass more than you, and I’ve never heard or read about him saying anything about prenatal non-discrimination.”

8. So-Called “Pregnancy Crisis Centers”

Although the Christian Right will never admit it, Planned Parenthood actually reduces the number of abortions in the United States by providing contraception for women. But instead of preventing unwanted pregnancies by supporting Planned Parenthood, easy access to contraception and comprehensive sex education programs, the Christian Right would rather deny women access to abortions when unwanted pregnancies occur. A common tactic among far-right Christian fundamentalists is pretending to be an abortion clinic or offer pregnancy counseling: once women are lured into those so-called pregnancy crisis centers with warm, fuzzy language, they are bombarded with militant anti-choice rhetoric from the same zealots who oppose contraception. And even if the pregnancy is the result of rape, many of these Christian fundamentalist “clinics” still try to shame and bully women into not having abortions.

9. Allen West and the Modern-Day “Underground Railroad”

When Republicans and the Tea Party try to sell wingnut ideas to African Americans, one of their tactics is mentioning civil rights leaders of the past. Former Florida Rep. Allen West, for example, has described himself as a “modern-day Harriet Tubman” whose mission is to “lead people on the Underground Railroad” away from the Democratic Party and into the loving arms of the GOP and the Tea Party. West likes to paint himself as a friend of the oppressed and the downtrodden, but his positions—disdain for unions and healthcare reform, trying to butcher the social safety net, opposition to raising the minimum wage—demonstrate that he is anything but.

10. Mike Huckabee’s Idea of Female “Empowerment”

When President Barack Obama was reelected in 2012, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee asserted that the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket lost because Republicans’ rhetoric was too harsh. There was nothing wrong with the GOP message, Huckabee claimed—only in the way they presented it. Huckabee has long been a master of trying to make extreme Christian fundamentalism seem warm and caring. But this year, Huckabee showed his true colors when an awkward, clumsy attempt at preaching female “empowerment” ended up sounding contemptuous of women. Opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate, Huckabee insisted: “Republicans don’t have a war on women. We’re having a war for women—to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender.” Huckabee went on to say, “If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.” Huckabee, in essence, echoed Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that women are sluts if they want health insurance to cover birth control pills. So much for Republicans softening their rhetoric.

Official Ku Klux Klan Party Platform IS The GOP And Tea Party Agenda

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This article proves most Progressives and center-right Americans were right about these clowns…

Addicting Info

I have been saying for a long time that the republican and tea parties are just mouthpieces for the American white supremacist movement.  Based on a hunch, I decided to go to the official site of the KKK and read the platform of the “Knight’s Party.” You can verify that this IS the official platform of the Ku Klux Klan by clicking here and visiting the hate group’s official website.

First and foremost, the KKK claims that:

“There is a race war against whites.”

It’s the same as claiming that reverse-racism is a real problem for white people.

And where have we heard this before? It is the exact same propaganda being promoted by Fox News, by right wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh and by right wing politicians like Mo Brooks. It’s also the same propaganda that is being distributed by the “Official Tea Party USA” website.

The official platform of the Knight’s Party (KKK) also includes the following:

1. “The recognition that America was founded as a Christian nation.”

This is the first line from the official platform of the KKK. The underlying idea here is that if you accept the false premise that America was founded as a Christian nation, you will also accept the false (and unchristian) premise that it’s ok to hate, discriminate and segregate everyone who is not a Christian.

Where have heard this Christian nation stuff before? Fox News, Tea Party representatives like Michelle Bachmann, talk show personalities like Rush Limbaugh and everywhere else right wing propaganda is spun. From the Official Tea Party website:

“The Tea Party includes those who possess a strong belief in the foundational Judeo-Christian values embedded in our great founding documents.”

2. “The recognition that America was founded as a white nation.”

As Mitt Romney would say, it’s the ‘Anglo-saxon heritage‘ white people share with the people of Europe, that President Obama just can’t understand.  We can see this as clear as day in this recent article about the situation in Ferguson, which appeared in the Tea Party Tribune on August 20. There’s also the non-stop revisionist history lessons taking place on Fox News.

3. “Abolish all affirmative action programs.”

White people are being discriminated against. It’s totally unfair to white people if other people are given a fair chance. Again, we see this propaganda being disseminated via Fox News,  republican politicians, and of course, republican talk radio personalities.

4. “Put American Troops on the Borders and Stop the Flood of Illegals.”

“America is being over run by illegal immigrants mostly from nonwhite countries who do not share the Christian European values of our nation’s founders.”

Is there any doubt that the republican and tea parties are pushing this part of the KKK agenda?

5. “Abolish all anti-gun laws and encourage every adult to own a weapon.”

This sounds remarkably similar to the position of the GOP and tea party.

6. “Drug testing all welfare recipients.”

Again, a policy strongly promoted by GOP and tea party politicians, pundits and media personalities. It has been struck down by federal courts because the idea behind it is deeply rooted in stereotypes and racist ideas.

7. “Balance the budget.”

Yes this is a part of the official KKK platform.

8. “Privatization of the public school system.”

“We must remove the humanist influence in our schools and teach fact based curriculum to further the students knowledge not someone’s opinion. Parents should have the option of private or home schooling if they prefer and students should be free to practice their Christian faith in the classroom.”

In it’s official platform, the KKK states that the group wants to abolish the National Education Association and children’s protective services, as well.

As Adolph Hitler said “Give me the text books and you give me the country.”

Below is the rest of the KKK agenda. It’s clear that all of these policies mirror those of the republican and tea parties.

9. “Restoring individual freedom to Christian America.”

“People should be allowed to hire who they want, live where they want and practice the Christian faith as they please. Likewise people should be able to sell to whom they want , rent to whom they want and socialize and conduct business with who they want. The government should not interfere with the everyday lives of white Christian Americans.”

10. “Sovereignty of the states.”

“Each state should be able to officially declare that any power of law not directly given to the federal government by the constitution can be nullified by the state congress. We furthermore recognize that the 10th Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states to be an agent of the states instead of the states being an agent of the federal government.”

11. “Everyone who can work, should work.”

12.  “A strong defense department.”

(Women should be excluded from combat.)

“We believe that the defense dept. should consist of volunteers of both men and women with women being excluded from combat positions.”

13. Outlaw abortion.

14. Outlaw homosexuality.

“This is a Christian nation and the Bible condemns homosexual activity and the perversion of our society which it encourages.”

15. Death penalty (and extend it to include rapists and child molesters.)

16. A flat tax rate.

“A flat income tax should be introduced to allow for the funding of community, state and federal projects.

This should be the one and only tax allowed. It is the only fair way to collect revenue and does not discriminate against any economic class.”

On the KKK’s official website, the Klan states the following in relation to its goal of becoming “the leader of the White racialist movement’:

Through a strong organized show of leadership

Through the training and use of qualified media representatives

Through a concerted effort of all Klansmen and Klanswomen to carefully follow instructions, suggestions, and guidelines as set by headquarters and to continually strive to be THE BEST.

In relation to the Klan’s goal of “becoming the representative and driving force behind the White Community,” there’s this:

Through an aggressive use of television, radio, and print advertising

Through huge nationwide literature drives in which millions of people are reached with our literature.

To legally break through the liberal wall that surrounds America’s colleges and universities – to reach and instruct students in the reclaiming of their schools.

Through the effective use of project committees to assist in the re-education of law enforcement agencies and the educational establishment. These two very important groups must be given another side of the story instead of only receiving information from organizations such as the ADL, NAACP, or ACLU.

You can compare the agenda of the KKK with the agenda of the republican and tea parties, to determine for yourself what, if any, differences there are between them.

10 things you need to know today: August 6, 2014

The walls of the military base where U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was shot and killed.

The walls of the military base where U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was shot and killed. | (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

The Week

A U.S. general is killed in Afghanistan, Utah appeals to the Supreme Court to restore its gay marriage ban, and more

1. American general killed in an apparent insider attack in Afghanistan
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was shot and killed in Kabul on Tuesday in an apparent insider attack by a member of the Afghan armed forces. Greene was the highest ranking member of the U.S. military killed in the line of duty since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Greene, 55, was a key figure in the training of Afghan security forces, and he was making a routine visit to a training center when he was shot. [The Washington Post]

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2. Utah takes its defense of its gay marriage ban to the Supreme Court
Utah on Tuesday became the first state to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on its bid to save its same-sex marriage ban. The voter-approved ban was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge andan appeals court. If the Supreme Court declines to hear the appeal, the appeals court ruling will stand and gay marriage will be legal in its jurisdiction, which includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

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3. Russian gang pulls off record heist of internet security data
Security researchers say that a Russian crime ring has pulled off the largest theft ever of internet security information, collecting the user names and passwords of 1.2 billion users. The confidential personal data, along with 500 million email addresses, was stolen from 420,000 websites, including both well-known sites and smaller ones, according to Hold Security, which discovered the credential theft. [The New York Times]

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4. Businessman ousts Tea Party-aligned Rep. Kerry Bentivolio in GOP primary
House establishment Republicans got a lift after former majority leader Eric Cantor’s June primary loss, when businessman Dave Trott beat Tea Party-aligned Rep. Kerry Bentivolio in Michigan’s 11th District on Tuesday. Trott won in an apparent landslide, taking 66 percent of the vote with 60 percent of precincts reporting. In Kansas, Sen. Pat Roberts defeated a Tea Party challenger in what might have been hard-liners’ last chance to oust an incumbent GOP senator this year. [Politico, The New York Times]

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5. Gaza truce holds on its first day
The latest three-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas held early Wednesday, its second day, as negotiators in Cairo prepared to start indirect talks on ending the month-long Gaza conflict. Both Israel and Hamas claimed victory. Israeli military officials said they had accomplished their mission by destroying tunnels used by Palestinian militants to attack Israel. Hamas said the casualties it inflicted on Israeli forces showed the limits of Israel’s power. [The Associated Press,Los Angeles Times]

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6. Missouri carries out first execution since prolonged lethal injection in Arizona
Missouri executed inmate Michael Worthington by lethal injection on Wednesday for the 1995 rape and murder of a Lake St. Louis woman. Worthington was the first U.S. inmate put to death since a controversial execution in Arizona last month in which the condemned man was given 15 doses of lethal drugs and was not pronounced dead until two hours after the execution began. [The Associated Press]

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7. Sprint abandons T-Mobile takeover bid
Sprint has given up on taking over T-Mobile, ending the No. 3 mobile phone carrier’s attempt to create a major challenger to Verizon Wireless and AT&T. T-Mobile was reportedly willing to move forward if several sticking points on the financial structure of a deal could be resolved, but both companies doubted regulators would approve the deal because of concerns about competition. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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8. Tour buses collide in Times Square, injuring 14
Fourteen people were injured in New York City’s Times Square when two double-decker sightseeing buses crashed into each other. Most of the victims were pedestrians with minor injuries — the buses were empty except for the drivers and one tour guide. One of the people injured was a baby in a stroller. Police arrested one of the drivers, charging him with driving while impaired. [CBS News, The Associated Press]

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9. Argentine grandmother finds grandson 36 years after his abduction
A grandmother in Argentina says she has found the grandson who was taken from her daughter shortly before she was executed by the military dictatorship of the 1970s. Estela Barnes de Carlotto, founder of the human rights group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, said the now 36-year-old man — identified by Argentine media as pianist and composer Ignacio Hurban — had questions about his identity and came forward to have a DNA test. [The Guardian]

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10. Spurs hire former WNBA star Becky Hammon as assistant coach
The NBA champion San Antonio Spurs announced Tuesday that they had hired six-time WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon as assistant coach. Hammon is not the first woman to join an NBA team’s coaching staff — Lisa Boyer worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-2002 — but her high-profile job is still being called historic. Hammon downplayed the significance of her success, saying other women had “trail-blazed the path.” [CNN]

Conservative military charity faces serious allegations

Nidal Malik Hasan

Soldiers from Fort Hood march during the annual Veterans Day parade outside of Fort Hood in downtown Killeen, Texas, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009. Paul Sakuma/AP

Rachel Maddow

A Tea Party charity called “Move America Forward” is facing serious allegations of fraud — suggesting it may not be what it appears to be.  Complicating matters, the group has benefited from testimonials from Dick Cheney, Rick Perry, Rush Limbaugh and other high-profile Republicans.

Any time a charity is accused of fraud, it’s alarming, but especially during a war, there’s something even more outrageous about dubious charities that claim to be helping veterans and active-duty military personnel.
Last year, for example, Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll, was forced to abruptly resign over her connections to something called Allied Veterans of the World. The Florida-based non-profit was accused of trying to “defraud the public and governmental agencies by misrepresenting how much of its proceeds were donated to charities affiliated with Veterans Administration.”
This year, a Tea Party affiliated group called Move America Forward, is facing allegations every bit as serious. Kim Barker’s piece in The Daily Beast raises serious questions the charity will have to answer quickly.
Move America Forward calls itself the nation’s “largest grassroots pro-troop organization,” and has recruited a bevy of Republican luminaries, including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, to support its efforts.
Yet an examination of its fundraising appeals, tax records and other documents shows that Move America Forward has repeatedly misled donors and inflated its charitable accomplishments, while funneling millions of dollars in revenue to the men behind the group and their political consulting firms.
Barker’s report raises allegations that, if true, may point to illegalities, including the possible use the charity’s funds to subsidize conservative political action committees.
The driving force behind Move America Forward is Sal Russo, 67, the longtime political consultant who is listed on the 10-year-old charity’s tax returns as chief strategist.
Russo is better known for helping to form the Our Country Deserves Better PAC, also known as the Tea Party Express, one of the largest Tea Party groups in the country.  Consultants from his Sacramento-based firm, Russo, Marsh and Associates, also set up two other PACs, the Move America Forward Freedom PAC and the Conservative Campaign Committee, to aid conservative causes and candidates.
According to its tax returns, Move America Forward paid out more than $2.3 million – about 30% of the group’s overall expenditures – to Russo or his firm.
Barker talked to a former Tea Party Express consultant who said, “It was just so shady. With PACs, I know it’s dirty money – it’s politics. But this is a charity that’s supposed to be helping the troops.”
It’s not clear who, if anyone, is handling the day-to-day management of this charity. The organization’s former executive director left in 2012 “and does not seem to have been replaced.”
The same report goes on to detail instances in which Move America Forward falsely claimed to deliver care packages to troops, used photos in fundraising and promotional materials that belonged to other organizations, and even boasted to donors about a partnership with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that never existed.
And yet, despite all of this, Dave Weigel notes that Move America Forward benefited from testimonials from Dick Cheney, Rick Perry, Rush Limbaugh and other high-profile Republicans.
Obviously, the charges raised in this investigatory piece remain in the realm of unproven allegations. But given the evidence and seriousness of the potential wrongdoing, it’s easy to imagine law enforcement taking a keen interest in Move America Forward’s records, bank accounts, and activities.

10 things you need to know today: June 25, 2014

The once-and-future senator of Mississippi. 

The once-and-future senator of Mississippi. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Week

Sen. Cochran fights off a Tea Party challenge, Putin urges an extension of Ukraine’s cease-fire, and more

1. Cochran holds off a Tea Party challenge in Mississippi
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) narrowly defeated a Tea Party-backed challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a GOP primary runoff on Tuesday. The race was a critical win for mainstream Republicans and a blow to the Tea Party. McDaniel edged ahead in the first round, but Cochran bounced back by getting African-American Democrats to turn out and help him beat his more hard-line challenger. McDaniel, angry over Cochran’s appeal to Democrats, refused to concede. [The Washington Post]

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2. Putin backs extending Ukraine’s cease-fire
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government to extend a temporary cease-fire on Tuesday, and called on Russian lawmakers to rescind their authorization of the use of force to intervene in Ukraine. Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, warned he might scrap the fragile truce after separatists shot down a military helicopter late Tuesday, killing nine servicemen. [The New York TimesThe Associated Press]

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3. Insider says Phoenix VA facility altered files of dead patients
Officials at a VA hospital in Phoenix altered records of dead veterans to hide the number of patients who died waiting for care, a whistleblower told CNN. “Deceased” notes were removed from files to improve the facility’s statistics, the source — scheduling clerk Pauline Dewenter — said. The interview marked the first time she had spoken publicly about the scandal. [CNN]

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4. Methodist appeals court overturns defrocking of pastor over gay marriage
United Methodist Bishop Peggy Johnson of Pennsylvania said Tuesday that she would abide by a church appeals court order to restore the credentials of the Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was suspended last year for officiating at his son’s 2007 same-sex wedding. A jury of pastors defrocked Schaefer because he wouldn’t promise not to perform any more gay weddings. The appeals panel overturned the decision Tuesday. [The Associated Press]

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5. A woman is killed as attackers shoot at landing Pakistani plane
Gunmen fired on a Pakistan International Airlines plane landing at Peshawar’s airport Tuesday night, killing a female passenger and wounding three crew members. It was the third violent attack at a Pakistani airport this month. The plane, carrying 178 passengers, was hit by six bullets as it arrived on a flight from Saudi Arabia. One bullet narrowly missed the captain. Another hit the engine. The dead woman’s 9-year-old daughter was seated next to her. [Reuters]

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6. Judge finds no-fly list unconstitutional
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the federal government’s no-fly list is unconstitutional because blacklisted people have no way to challenge the decision. The challenge came from 13 Muslims in Oregon who were prevented from boarding a 2010 flight. District Court Judge Anna Brown said the freedom to travel was not a luxury but “a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society.” Brown ordered the government to devise a way for people to get removed from the list. [Reuters]

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7. Brooks acquitted, Coulson found guilty in U.K. phone-hacking case
Rebekah Brooks, former head of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, was acquitted in London on Tuesday of conspiring to hack the phones of royalty, celebrities, and crime victims in search of scoops, a scandal that has rocked Murdoch’s media empire. A jury found former editor Andy Coulson, Prime Minister David Cameron’s ex-communications chief, guilty, however. The jury returns Wednesday to continue considering whether Coulson approved bribes for exclusives. [CNN]

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8. Official testifies that IRS failed to follow the law and report lost emails
U.S. Archivist David Ferriero told members of Congress on Tuesday that the Internal Revenue Service “did not follow the law” when it failed to report that two years’ worth of then Exempt Organizations unit director Lois Lerner’s emails had been lost in a computer outage. The testimony came in the third hearing in the two weeks since the IRS revealed the glitch. Lerner was a key figure in the division’s targeting of conservative groups for special scrutiny. [Politico]

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9. Dylan lyrics sell for a record $2 million
A handwritten manuscript of Bob Dylan’s hit song “Like a Rolling Stone” sold for $2 million Tuesday in a Sotheby’s auction in New York. The purchase set a record for an original set of lyrics, beating the $1.2 million paid for John Lennon’s “A Day in the Life” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Dylan wrote the words for his classic on stationery from the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington. [Los Angeles Times]

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10. Uruguay’s World Cup win marred when player appears to bite opponent
Uruguay’s 1-0 World Cup victory over Italy was overshadowed by an incident shortly before the game-winning goal when Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez appeared to bite Italian Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder. The match’s outcome sent Uruguay to the next round, and eliminated Italy. The controversy was intensified by the fact that Suarez served a seven-game suspension in 2010 for biting a player in Holland and a 10-game one for a bite in England last year. [ABC News]

Oklahoma Tea Party Candidate Supports Stoning Gay People to Death

scottpic

Would Scott Esk stone with a smile on his face? |

You can’t make this crap up.  The Tea Party faction of American politics is primarily batshit crazy.  They are often called the “American Taliban“.  The term seems quite appropos…

Slate

Given how savagely anti-gay the mainstream Oklahoma Republican party is, it’s no surprise that the state’s Tea Partiers are so rabidly hateful that they come across more as dark satire than as serious bigots. To wit: This week, an Oklahoma magazinediscovered that last summer, Tea Party state house candidate Scott Esk endorsed stoning gay people to death: “I think we would be totally in the right to do it,” he said in a Facebook post. Esk went on to add nuance to his position:

That [stoning gay people to death] goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.

When a Facebook user messaged Esk to clarify further, he responded:

I never said I would author legislation to put homosexuals to death, but I didn’t have a problem with it.

Understandably unnerved, the magazine called up Esk for clarification. Although Esk claimed he didn’t remember the comments, he fleshed out his views:

That was done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God and in that time there it was totally just. It came directly from God. I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law. I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins.

Pressed one final time about his position on stoning gay human beings to death, Esk dug in his heels:

I know what was done in the Old Testament and what was done back then was what’s just. … And I do stand for Biblical morality.

I am impressed that Esk has some understanding of the concept of morality. But I am not quite certain that his views square with modern notions of the concept. I do suspect, however, that Esk’s beliefs aren’t all that far from the other state-level Republicans in the region, who recently attempted to push through the most extreme piece of anti-gay legislation America has ever witnessed. Perhaps our criticism of Esk, then, is really misguided: Rather than chastising him for his seemingly extremist views, we should be thanking him for saying what so many of his political associates are likely thinking.

Eric Cantor succumbs to tea party challenger Tuesday

Mark Wilson/Getty Images – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) participates in a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.

The Washington Post

In a stunning upset propelled by tea party activists, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was defeated in Tuesday’s congressional primary, with insurgent David Brat delivering an unpredicted and devastating loss to the second most powerful Republican in the House who has widely been touted as a future speaker.

The race called shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern by the Associated Press.

Brat’s victory gives the GOP a volatile outlook for the rest of the campaign season, with the party establishment struggling late Tuesday to grapple with the news and tea party conservatives relishing a surprising win.

“This is an earthquake,” said former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber, a friend of Cantor’s. “No one thought he’d lose.” But Brat, tapping into conservative anger over Cantor’s role in supporting efforts to reform federal immigration laws, found a way to combat Cantor’s significant financial edge.

Brat, an economics professor, simply failed to show up to D.C. meetings with powerful conservative agitators last month, citing upcoming finals. He only had $40,000 in the bank at the end of March, according to first quarter filings. Cantor had $2 million.

Despite those shortcomings, Brat has exposed discontent with Cantor in the solidly Republican, suburban Richmond 7th Congressional District by attacking the lawmaker on his votes to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown, as well as his support for some immigration reforms. At a May meeting of Republican activists in the district,Cantor was booed, and an ally he campaigned for was ousted as the local party chairman in favor of a tea party favorite.

A similar revolt in the state Republican committee last year determined that the party would hold a two-day convention rather than an open primary to elect candidates in 2013. That decision helped gubernatorial contender Ken Cuccinelli II, a conservative hero who lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Many establishment Republicans in the state believe Cuccinelli’s nomination cost them the governorship. The 7th District fight is a sign that the factions in the party have yet to unite.

Since his days in the Virginia legislature, Cantor has been on the side of the pro-business, establishment. But he began to forge ties with the tea party in 2010, positioning himself as a conservative counterweight to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) after the movement helped sweep Republicans into power. Yet tea party activists in his own district have never embraced him.

Cantor has taken the primary threat seriously, attacking Brat in television ads and boasting in mailers that he blocked “amnesty” for illegal immigrants on Capitol Hill.

The winner of the GOP primary will face Democratic Party nominee Jack Trammell — a professor at Randolph-Macon College, the same school where Brat works — in the general election this fall.

THAT’S IT. I AM COMING HOME.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images News | Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers embrace near a Wal-Mart in Las Vegas, Nevada. Two colleagues were shot and killed by two assailants at a pizza restaurant nearby

Esquire

By Lt. Col. Robert Bateman 

The NRA has made mass killings normal in this country. I’m coming home from years of serving my country overseas to help stop it.

This is too much. We have Tea Party political activists shooting cops from behind, in the head, then covering their dead bodies with the Tea Party “Gadsden” flag and shouting, “The Revolution begins now!”

No. I am coming home. I need to be there and be part of the solution.Moms Demand Action is getting some traction, but they can use the lean-in of a few U.S. Army Airborne Infantry Rangers. I am only sorry that I did not stand up to this threat to our nation before. I am sorry. I was busy.

I have been overseas in Afghanistan and in NATO nations for half a decade while the insanity of the National Rifle Association expanded and exploded, and the NRA became, essentially, the tool of death in the United States. They made mass killings normal.

Well done, NRA. But this shit is too much.

Constant cop-killing, by people who echo the NRA talking points and the conspiracy theories of the Internet wackos.

So I will come home, and perhaps some of those 3,000 nutjobs who sent me hatemail might want to meet up, because I am more than fricking willing, you whining, little boy-toys who need guns. So many of you have threatened me that I am literally booked, but any of you who feel you have been left out, go ahead. Book a date. You bring your gun to try and convince me that you are not a complete and total idiot, and if you bring a gun, let us see which tool works best.

Wimps need guns. Come and get me.

Oh, and if you try to go lethal, to convince me that your rhetoric is more intellectually compelling than my own written words, I am going to be giggling at the Las Vegas odds on you, with your guns, and me.

So there is that. Bring it on, little boys.

Bateman, pictured, is an infantryman and a Military Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The opinions here are only those of somebody that thinks a “Patriot Movement”—one which executes police officers—is not working in the service of the nation. They are only the opinions of someone who believes that “Tea Party members” who shoot policemen in the head— executing them at point blank range and then declaring that the “revolution” is starting before placing a Don’t Tread on Me flag atop the dead bodies of the police officers you just killed in cold blood—are not good.

You may believe otherwise. If you do, screw you.

10 things you need to know today: May 21, 2014

The Senate minority leader easily bested his Tea Party opponent on Tuesday.

The Senate minority leader easily bested his Tea Party opponent on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

The Week

Mitch McConnell defeats a Tea Party-backed challenger, a judge overturns Pennsylvania’s gay-marriage ban, and more

1. Mitch McConnell brushes off Tea-Party-favored primary challenger
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) easily defeated a Tea-Party-backed challenger, Matt Bevin, in Tuesday’s primary. Establishment Republicans also beat more conservative candidates in Oregon, Georgia, and Idaho. “My party is knitting itself back together,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R- Okla.). Democrats said mainstream Republicans were only winning because they were shifting to the right and running like Tea Partiers. [CNNThe Wall Street Journal]

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2. Judge rules Pennsylvania’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional
A federal judge on Tuesday threw out Pennsylvania’s gay-marriage ban and declined to put the ruling on hold pending a possible appeal by the state, giving same-sex couples time to rush to apply for marriage licenses. Gay marriage is now legal throughout the Northeast. “We are a better people than what these laws represent,” U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III wrote, “and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” [The Associated Press]

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3. Russia clinches crucial gas deal with China
China on Wednesday signed a deal to buy natural gas from Russia. The long-awaited deal gives China, the world’s biggest energy user, a source of clean-burning fuel. It also gives Russia a place to sell its gas at a moment when Europeans, angered by Moscow’s ties to separatists in Ukraine, are trying to find other sources of gas. The 30-year deal is estimated to be worth more than $400 billion, and is said to reflect the two countries growing ties. [Reuters]

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4. U.S. to disclose memo justifying killing American terror suspects abroad
The Obama administration said Tuesday it would release a classified memo justifying the use of drones in the targeted killing of American terrorism suspects overseas. The document was written by appeals court nominee David Barron, whose nomination faces a vote Wednesday. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. decided to disclose the memo rather than appeal a court order to release it under the Freedom of Information Act. [The New York Times]

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5. Twin blasts kill dozens in Nigeria
Two explosions killed at least 118 people at a market in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Tuesday afternoon. Nobody claimed responsibility, but suspicion immediately fell on the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, which has been blamed for the abduction of more than 270 high-school girls last month. “It’s a wake-up call,” said activist Shamaki Gad Peter. “They are trying to make the country ungovernable.” [The New York TimesVoice of America]

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6. Court halts Missouri execution over condemned man’s medical condition
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito late Tuesday halted a Missouri execution to allow doctors to determine whether the condemned inmate, Russell Bucklew, would suffer extreme pain during his lethal injection due to a birth defect that affects his veins. He would have been the first person put to death in the U.S. since a botched execution in Oklahoma in April. [USA Today]

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7. GM recalls another 2.4 million vehicles
General Motors announced the recall of another 2.4 million vehicles on Tuesday, bringing to 13 million the total number of cars and trucks it has recalled since January. The latest recalls covered some Chevrolet Malibus, Cadillac Escalades, and other models. Just last week, GM recalled another 2.9 million vehicles. GM on Friday agreed to pay $35 million over delayed recalls on 2.6 million cars with faulty ignition switches. [CBS News]

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8. D’Souza pleads guilty to illegal campaign contributions
Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty on Tuesday to making illegal campaign contributions. D’Souza, author of 2010′s The Roots of Obama’s Rage and co-director of the 2012 documentary 2016: Obama’s America, had claimed he was being persecuted for criticizing Obama. Under a plea deal, he admitted making illegal contributions, but a charge of making false statements was dropped. “I deeply regret my conduct,” he said. [New York Daily News]

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9. Ex-players sue the NFL over painkillers
Eight retired National Football League players filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing the league of illegally giving them painkillers — without prescriptions, and without warning them of potential side-effects — so they could return to the field despite injuries. Attorney Steven Silverman said the league put profits ahead of the players’ health. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he couldn’t comment because he had not seen the suit. [The Washington Post]

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10. Golfer Lucy Li becomes youngest Women’s Open qualifier at age 11
Lucy Li, 11, became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open this week. The previous record holder, Lexi Thompson, was 12 when she qualified in 2007. Li shot rounds of 74 and 68 on a par-72 course, beating her nearest rival by seven strokes in a sectional qualifier. The tournament begins June 19. One player, Beverly Kass, competed at age 10 in 1967, but that was before the qualification process began. [ESPN]