Thursday, August 07, 2014

Senator Berates DREAMers, Says They Don’t Have Anything To Teach Him

The viral video of an eight-minute confrontation between two undocumented immigrants and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Monday was an uncomfortable reminder of how extreme elements within the Republican party are alienating minority voters. But the person who could see the most political fallout from the incident is a senator caught on film awkwardly excising himself early on from the table with his staff.
Potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has touted himself as an outspoken champion for GOP outreach, maintained to Fox News that he left because he had another interview, but many are accusing him of distancing himself from the immigration reform debate entirely.
Explaining his departure Wednesday during a radio interview in Iowa, Paul said, “I’ll be honest with you, I’m not interested in being filmed and berated by people who broke the law and are here illegally to try and convince me about policy. But I’ll tell you I have sympathy for the DREAM Act kids. I’m actually a moderate on immigration.”
Peculiarly, the two undocumented immigrants, Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, are exactly the so-called “DREAM Act kids” for whom Paul should express sympathy, as they were illegally brought to the United States as minors. Paul previously said that legalization should “start with DREAM Act kids,” alluding to a federal immigration bill that would have granted an earned pathway to citizenship for some qualified undocumented immigrants. Andiola and Vargas are also among the more than 550,000 recipients of an executive order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that grants work authorization and deportation relief for two years. But they were in Iowa to confront King who has continuously pushed for legislation that would gut the DACA program. Each time, the House has voted to kill the program.
The cognitive dissonance between the two statements said moments apart by Paul was not lost on the Democratic National Committee Director of Hispanic Media Pili Tobar who said, “Rand Paul attacks young people brought to America through no fault of their own and in the next sentence says he’s a new type of Republican and that he’s a moderate on immigration. Rand Paul is proving that he’s no better – and no different – than far-right Republicans like Steve King.”
Similarly, Andiola told MSNBC host Jose Diaz-Balart Wednesday morning, “the reality is that if you have someone who is actually affected by it try to talk to you, you don’t run away. You actually sit there and actually try to talk.” She added that Paul’s insincerity on the issue could hurt him in the 2016 presidential race, “I don’t know if Rand Paul actually learned a lesson from Mitt Romney, but Mitt Romney lost his election with the Latino vote because he didn’t support the DREAM Act and because he believed in self-deportation.”

Just 17 months ago, Paul said in a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that some of his values stemmed from his formative years getting to know undocumented immigrants. “At a young age, I came to understand that it makes a difference whether you are a documented immigrant or an undocumented immigrant,” Paul remarked in March 2013. “That the existence was not easy for the undocumented but that opportunity in America somehow trumped even the poor living conditions and low pay… Somewhere along the line Republicans have failed to understand and articulate that immigrants are an asset to America, not a liability.” But he has gradually moved faster and further away from that position, stating that he would not support the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill and accusing the President Obama of “poisoning the well” by using an executive order to create the DACA program. And as MSNBC pointed out, Paul endorsed legislation in 2011 to end the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Sorry about no blog updates.

My work schedule had me working a lot lately and been too tired to look and read for stories to post. Thanks for the understanding and let's take back the house from the forces of stupidity and racism.

How Conservative Media Helped To Kill Boehner's Border Bill

From Media Matters:

House Republicans pulled a bill which would increase funding for security at the southern border after conservative media and their allies voiced opposition to it.
The bill, pushed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was tabled after he and House Republican leadership faced "a rebellion among their most conservative ranks," according to the New York Times, who also reported that the failure to pass the bill "ensures that no legislation to address what both Democrats and Republicans call an urgent humanitarian crisis will reach President Obama's desk before the August break." After the measure failed, Republicans met to discuss whether they would bring up another bill before Congress goes into recess or to scrap the legislation entirely. Roll Call reported that "chaos reigned" as it became unclear what Republican leaders would decide to do.
Conservative media darling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was reportedly whipping votes in order to stop the bill the night before its introduction, according to a Washington Post report. Cruz appeared on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren that same night and attacked what he described as "President Obama's amnesty."
Weekly Standard founder and ABC News contributor Bill Kristol wrote a July 31 blog post demanding that the House "kill the bill." He described the bill as "dubious legislation" and argued that passing it would "take the focus off what President Obama has done about immigration."
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt agreed with Kristol, writing that the House should "kill the fake border security bill and go home until the House leadership gets serious about passing a real border security bill."
The Drudge Report highlighted opposition to the bill at the top of the site with the headline "Hill Phones Melt As Boehner Pushes Border."
The Drudge headline linked to, which has repeatedly opposed immigration reform efforts. The story by Matthew Boyle noted that "The American people have overloaded the Congressional phone lines yet again on Thursday, pressuring their members of Congress to vote against the House and Senate immigration bills."
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson argued at his site, RedState, that the bill was flawed because it failed to repeal the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which conservatives incorrectly blame for generating the surge in child migrants from Central America.
Erickson added, "The House GOP should be starting with closing DACA, not telling conservatives they first have to fund the President and then they'll get table scraps" and directed his readers to RedState's "action center" where they could call Congress and demand that "the House GOP must close DACA." 
Daily Caller columnist Mickey Kaus promoted a campaign from the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which urged readers to call the U.S. Capitol switchboard in order to speak to their member of Congress and demand "No New Laws" on immigration. Kaus also linked to a list of members and their direct office phone numbers.
Laura Ingraham, a talk radio host and Fox News/ABC News contributor, who has been an anti-immigration reform crusader for years, wrote on Twitter that Boehner had made a "supreme accomplishment" by pushing a bill that "manages to enrage both the political left and conservatives." She later celebrated its defeat.

The GOP’s impeachment whiplash

Trolls quickly drown ReaganBook social media site in sea of profanity, pornography

By Travis Gettys/Raw Story
A half-cooked attempt to set up a conservative social network quickly collapsed into a heap of phony accounts, crude swearing, and pornographic GIFs.
Ohio Republican Janet Porter pre-launched ReaganBook – “Facebook for Patriots” – in April, after employees from the more well-known social media site took part in a LGBT rights demonstration in San Francisco.
After several left-leaning sites, including Raw Storypublicized the launch the fledgling social network, its several dozen presumably conservative users were quickly drowned out by a flood of phony accounts (Vladimir Putin, Sarah Palin, and Manuel Noriega) and less-obviously phony accounts.
“I think they’d attract more people and less trolls if they didn’t put that brand on it of Reagan — if they called it something else,” conservative blogger Amy Jo Clark told The Daily Beast.
Many users posted profane criticisms of former President Ronald Reagan, while others posted pornographic images and GIFs.
The only discernibly sincere comments found on the site were the persistent complaints about slow load times and overall poor user experience.
Porter, who is president of the anti-abortion group Faith2Action, announced Wednesday morning that administrators had been tasked with removing offensive posts and culling troll accounts from the site.
“Glad I did the pre-launch because that gives us an opportunity to tighten our security for the real launch,” Porter posted just hours earlier on her ReaganBook page. “Also, the fact that so many leftists have invested so much time in the site, It provides confirmation that we’re on the right track.”
But weeding out the trolls must have proven too difficult, because the site was taken offline by Wednesday afternoon, about 24 hours after the site launched.
“Please be patient while we make the necessary changes to keep the site free from obscenity, pornography, and those intent on the destruction of life, liberty, and the family,” site management said in a statement. “We will be opening the doors again soon with additional protections in place. As Reagan taught us, trust, but verify.”
No timetable was given for when ReaganBook might go back online.

Russell Brand rips Fox blowhard Sean Hannity over inflammatory Israel-Gaza coverage

By Scott Kaufman/Raw Story
In Russell Brand’s latest episode of The Trews, the British comedian attacks Sean Hannity for his hypocrisy when it comes to the subject of Israel.
Brand begins, however, on a lighter note, playing a clip from Hannity’s show and saying that the Fox News and syndicated radio host “looks like the Ken Doll from the Toy Story 3 film.” Moreover, “he has his name on a police badge in the corner of the screen, screaming ‘HANNITY!’”
He then continued his running commentary on the clip, in which Hannity asks why “is America’s largest Muslim so-called civil rights group [the Council on American–Islamic Relations or CAIR] showing sympathy to terrorists? Let’s have a debate.”
Brand then noted that Hannity was “already being unreasonable” in how he framed the debate. While most people “want peace,” Hannity “wants conflict — wants to know what things I should say to exacerbate the conflict.”
One of Hannity’s guests, Yousef Munayyer of the Jerusalem Fund & Palestine Center, then suggested to Hannity that peace might be achieved if Israel addressed the occupation of Palestinian territory, at which point the Fox News host insisted the debate be brought back to the 1948 petition plan and the 1973 war.
“Yes, let’s do that Sean,” Brand responded. “Because that’s the broader context. But he’s not going to actually talk about any of those things, because Sean’s not interested in truth — Hannity is only interested pushing a particular perspective.”
He then cuts back to the Hannity clip, in which Hannity does not, in fact, address the broader context, but repeatedly asks what Munayyer would do if people were firing missiles into his neighborhood. Munayyer responds that he’s going to try to answer Hannity’s question if Hannity would stop “asking it at him,” to which Hannity replies, “Good luck.”
Brand laughs at Hannity’s answer, then repeats it, “‘Good luck’! That’s right, good luck, mate answering Sean’s question, because Sean doesn’t want an answer. Sean wants to say more stuff while jabbing his finger aggressively!”
After playing another clip of Hannity shouting his guest down, Brand notes that “another thing Sean does is just use incendiary words. ‘Rockets!’ ‘Kidnapper!’ ‘Murder!’ ‘A little baby ducklingkicked in the face!’ These are just things that are bad.”
As the conversation on Hannity’s program continues to deteriorate, Brand remarks that Hannity’s not interested in learning about what would constitute progress in the Middle East, because he took a job at Fox News. Imitating Hannity, Brand yells, “I’m interested in shouting, and pointing, and simplifying things!”
When Hannity tires of yelling the same question his guest has already answered, he switches to his other guest, who like himself is pro-Israel. The guest immediately begins discussing the Palestinians using children as human shields, a fact whose veracity Brand disputes.
“Reports from Gaza say that they’re not using children as human shields,” he say, “those children are dying because there are missiles going off all over the place and Gaza’s only a little tiny area.”
“But even if they were,” Brand continued, “even if everyone was carrying around children literally strapped to wooden boards, using them as shields — they still wouldn’t die if it weren’t for the missiles. The key ingredient in the death of those children is the missile.”
He then returns to the clip at a point in which Munayyer attempts to get a word in. Hannity summarily dismisses him with an angry “Goodbye!” to which Brand responds, “one definition of terrorism is using intimidation to achieve your goals. Who in that situation was behaving like a terrorist?” he asks.
“Sean Hannity — that’s where the terrorism’s coming from.”
Watch the entire episode of Russell Brand’s The Trews below.

Boehner Encourages Obama To Take Executive Action, One Day After Voting To Sue Obama Over Executive Action


Hours before Congress broke for the August recess, House Republicans claimed that the President could use executive action to fix the border situation with unaccompanied children fleeing violence in the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. In a press statement released Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other House Republican leaders indicated that President Obama could address the crisis “without the need for congressional action,” a statement tinged with some irony given that just the day before, House Republicans had slammed the President with a lawsuit claiming executive overreach.
“This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws,” the House Republican leadership press release stated. “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”
Boehner made the statement even though the House still had time Thursday before it broke for the August recess to vote through a $659 million supplemental emergency bill to deal with the child arrivals at the border. The House could still potentially offer up a fix to the border situation when the GOP holds an emergency meeting on Friday morning. Still, Republican leaders are struggling to reach the necessary 218 vote threshold, with some calling on a vote for a separate measure that would defund a 2012 presidential initiative that grants temporary deportation reprieve and work authorization for some undocumented immigrants.
At odds with Boehner’s statement is a lawsuit that House Republicans hadauthorized Wednesday, which criticizes the President over claims that he had unlawfully overused executive orders. The lawsuit enumerates a number of areas in which they allege Obama had employed executive overreach, but they especially targeted the President for not fully implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Their lawsuit does not specifically mention immigration. Republicans often cite a 2012 executive order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a prime example of executive overreach.

Republicans have claimed that the DACA program was responsible for the surge of child arrivals at the southern border since the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year, as well as the reason why they could never pass immigration reform. It seems that the executive action that House Republican leaders have expressed the most interest in since last year has been to dismantle the DACA program, voting three times to dissolve the DACA program, an issue that researchers found has little to do with the current border crisis (eligible DACA applicants must have entered and continuously lived in the United States before June 2007).

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Male Justices Don’t Understand What Hobby Lobby Meant For Women

BY NICOLE FLATOW/Think progress
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that businesses get to decide whether their female employees should have access to contraception, five conservative mendisagreed with three women and Justice Stephen G. Breyer. This gender split could have been incidental, since the three women on the court were appointed by Democratic presidents. But it also signifies a deeper misunderstanding about the experience of women, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told Yahoo News’ Katie Couric in an interview this week.
“Do you believe that the five male justices truly understood the ramifications of their decision?” Couric asked Ginsburg this week. “I would have to say no,” Ginsburg replied. “But the justices continue to think and change so I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow.”
“Contraceptive protection is something every woman must have access to, to control her own destiny,” Ginsburg told Couric. The decision allowing an employer to refuse to cover those contraceptives “meant that women would have of that for themselves.”
She analogized the “blind spot” the justices had in this case to that in the 2007 ruling against plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter, a woman whose fair pay lawsuit was rejected by the court. She has framed on her wall the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, passed by Congress two years later to correct the Supreme Court ruling in which she dissented. It was the first piece of legislation signed by President Barack Obama.
Ginsburg said the passage of the law is one of her proudest achievements, because in her dissent to that case, “I said the ball is now in Congress’ court to correct the error into which the court has fallen. And Congress did it in record time.”
Lawmakers have already proposed the “Not My Bosses’ Business Act” since the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision in June. But Republicans in the Senateblocked the bill from moving forward.
In her interview with Couric, Ginsburg praised the U.S. tradition of dissents, noting that “many of those dissents are now unquestionably the law of the land,” pointing to Justice John M. Harlan’s dissent to the separate but equal ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson.
In her 35-page dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Ginsburg lambasted the majority for asserting that employers have religious rights that trump those of employees.
“I certainly respect the belief of the Hobby Lobby owners,” Ginsburg told Couric. “On the other hand, they have no constitutional right to foist that belief on the hundreds and hundreds of women who work for them who don’t share that belief. I had never seen the free exercise of religion clause interpreted in such a way.”
She explained how the law is supposed to work with an analogy she used in her dissent: A person has freedom to move his or her arms until it “hits the other fellow’s nose.” “It’s the same way with speech. Same way with religion. You can exercise your right freely until the point where it is affecting other people who don’t share your views.”
On the male justices’ future evolution, Ginsburg said she believes that “daughters can change the perception of their fathers.” She also believes that progress wins out over the course of history. Asked about the landmark Citizens United ruling that struck down limits on corporate political spending, Ginsburg said she believes her dissent in that case will also one day be the law of the land.
“That is my expectation,” she said. “I may not be around to see it but it will happen.”

Above the framed copy of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in her chambers, Ginsburg has a photograph of the signing of the act, given to her by President Obama with a personal message. “Happy birthday,” he wrote, “and thanks for helping to create a more equal and just society.”

Prominent Conservative Pundit Tells John Legend To ‘Shut Up And Play The Piano’

BY JUDD LEGUM/Think Progress
John Podhoretz, a former speech writer for Ronald Reagan with a regular column in the New York Post, told musician John Legend to “shut up and play the piano” in a tweet sent on Wednesday afternoon. Podhoretz was prompted by a tweet that Legend sent criticizing Israel’s treatment of Secretary of State John Kerry.
Podhoretz’s tweet was widely criticized for playing into racist stereotypes of African American entertainers.
Rather than apologize or address the controversy, Podhoretz apparently deleted his Twitter account. He was an extremely active user of the Twitter, sending almost 70,000 tweets and attracting over 34,000 followers.

Podhoretz is also the editor of Commentary, a conservative magazine, and a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard.