Rubio: Sexual preference is not a choice

Sunday April 19th, 2015 07:59:00 PM Emily Samsel
Newly declared Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio said Sunday that he believes being gay is not a choice.

NFL reinstates Adrian Peterson

Sunday April 19th, 2015 07:00:00 PM
Star running back Adrian Peterson returns to the NFL after a year of public legal turmoil. Ed Schultz discusses the league’s decision.

Rise in e-cig use

Sunday April 19th, 2015 06:59:00 PM
California Democrats take a strong stance on big tobacco on the heels of new studies showing a rise in the use of e-cigarettes among teenagers. Ed Schultz, State Sen. Mark Leno and Gregory Conley discuss.

Christie considers presidential run

Sunday April 19th, 2015 06:58:00 PM
Diminishing approval ratings and questionable policy decisions in New Jersey aren't phasing Gov. Chris Christie from considering a presidential run. Ed Schultz, Gordon Johnson and David Corn discuss.

Comic book speakeasy: Attracting a new crowd

Sunday April 19th, 2015 06:54:00 PM
What if you have a product that you know a lot of people would love if you could just get it in their hands? We meet a comic store owner who opened a bar that stealthily got his comics in front of a whole new audience.

5 ways to sharpen your PR

Sunday April 19th, 2015 06:52:00 PM
Public relations can help your small business capture lots of attention but if you’re reckless with the media, you’ll find yourself wishing you had a game plan in advance. Here are five ways you can sharpen your PR, from SmartCEO.com.

Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day

Sunday April 19th, 2015 06:33:49 PM Rebecca Sanchez
Hosted by Will.i.am and Soledad O’Brien, the day-long event united artists like No Doubt, Usher, Fall Out Boy, Mary J. Blige, Train and My Morning Jacket with world leaders, finance ministers, environmental and development NGOs and industry executives in the name of one shared goal: to mobilize global citizens in the climate and environmental, poverty and development movements.

DOJ, FBI admit to years of flawed testimony

Sunday April 19th, 2015 05:48:04 PM Associated Press
The FBI and the Justice Department admitted to years of flawed testimony from the FBI's microscopic hair comparison unit, according to a report.

Global Citizen Festival starts conversation

Sunday April 19th, 2015 05:40:54 PM
MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow recounts his coverage of the 2015 Global Citizen Festival to Alex Witt, including his interviews with musicians Will.i.am and Usher.

Desalination plant to help in CA drought

Sunday April 19th, 2015 05:29:24 PM
Jason Burnett, mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, joins Alex Witt to discuss ways in which California’s severe drought has affected his community and highlight some of the options being suggested to help the state save what little water it has left.


Catastrophe

Sunday April 19th, 2015 06:40:42 PM
Survivors say there were as many as 700 people on board a migrant ship from Libya which sank on the way to Italy. Only a couple dozen survivors have been recovered so far.

Renewable Energy Is Growing Faster Than You Realize

Sunday April 19th, 2015 04:15:05 PM
This Spring we're running a five part series on the rapid growth of renewable energy over the last five years. It's a fascinating story and one I at least was not fully aware. Here's installment one and two of the series and installment three is coming soon. These articles and projects are part of our TPMPrime membership program. This kind of work can't get done without your membership and support. Signing up not only gets you a lot of added benefits at TPM (fewer ads, more stories, features) and access to these stories, it also makes it possible for us to fund these efforts. If you're not a members, sign up now. It's just 14 cents a day. And it's a critical part of keeping TPM healthy, vital and growing.

When Ooops Won't Really Do

Sunday April 19th, 2015 04:02:17 PM
The FBI and the DOJ, working with the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is formally acknowledging that nearly all of the hair match evidence testimony its experts provided from the middle 1970s through the year 2000 was flawed and significantly overstated the likelihood of a match. From the Post ...Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far ... The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.The FBI errors alone do not mean there was not other evidence of a convict’s guilt. Defendants and federal and state prosecutors in 46 states and the District are being notified to determine whether there are grounds for appeals. Four defendants were previously exonerated.It is important to note that these convictions did not rest entirely on hair match evidence. But if it weren't an important part of the case, prosecutors would not have presented it. The upshot is that at least as practiced at the time, this was junk science.

Revisionist History

Sunday April 19th, 2015 02:02:05 AM
Natan Sharansky has an oped today in the Washington Post (exactly where you'd expect it). And reading it, crazy as this must sound, it's clear that Sharansky needs something of a refresher course in what actually happened during the Cold War. The premise of his argument is that in its dealings with Iran America has lost the moral clarity and confidence that it had during the Cold War - and apparently more or less consistently until President Obama came into office. To hear his telling of it, the entire Cold War was one long series of Soviet stands and humiliations as the United States stuck to its guns, dictated Soviet actions and generally force them to cave or isolate themselves over issues such as human rights. This is doubly funny since this would certainly come as news to the first generation of US neoconservatives, who Sharansky has broadly associated himself with, who definitely did not think this is what the US was doing through the 1970s when they were sounding the alarm over the coming American defeat in the Cold War. Neoconservative godfather Norman Podhoretz, as late as 1980, announced that it might be too late to prevent the "finlandization of America, the political and economic subordination of the United States to superior Soviet power."As some of you are likely saying, Sharansky knows a thing or two about the Soviets and the Cold War. And certainly he does. But he may need to bone up on the actual history. In case, the oped indirectly highlights a key point. Iran is not the Soviet Union. It's not even Russia today, in its more denuded but increasingly aggressive incarnation. It may be too Israel and Saudi Arabia, though I think even that is questionable. But it's not to the United States. Iran is a small country with a second or third rate military that has pretensions to be a regional power. The US is the dominant regional power in every corner of the globe. The US could invade and occupy or destroy Iran from the sky if it decided to. And the US has many other concerns besides Iran.We have a deep, critical interest in preventing Iran from producing or obtaining nuclear weapons, which we appear on our way to doing. But Iran is not the Soviet Union. And whenever you hear someone talking about moral clarity and moral confidence in regards to foreign policy, it's almost never, ever going to be good.

Now He's Ready

Sunday April 19th, 2015 03:27:42 AM
I've already gotten a lot of interesting responses to my Hillary question below. And I'm going to be publishing a lot of them over the weekend. But this one has a fascinating twist.From TPM Reader EB ... Here are my thoughts on Hillary…Back in ’06 and ‘07, I was 100% against Hillary and pulling for Obama to first enter the race and then become the nominee because I thought that Obama would give us the best chance, if he won, to move beyond the partisan politics of both the Clinton and Bush years. Now, after having watched Hillary serve as Sec. of State and knowing that the Republicans had a dinner a couple of days BEFORE Obama’s inauguration where they vowed to block anything he did as President, I’m fully behind Hillary as President for ’16. Her becoming President might finally be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to actually governing. I’m not counting on it and if it doesn’t, at least she cements Obama’s gains and legacy.It makes me sick to imagine where we would be in terns of our economy and infrastructure if Obama had gotten any reciprocity for the open hand he showed to the Republicans numerous times during his first six years in office. And because of that, screw ‘em. Go Hillary ’16.Late Update: TPM Reader S adds to the theme ... I was 100% Obama in '08, not because I thought the GOP wouldn't do what they do, but because he had the best shot at not getting dragged down by drama and hangers on like the Clintons. Hillary though, I've always thought would be an excellent cleanup hitter to what Obama signed into law. 8 years after a Hillary presidency, healthcare as a citizen right will be baked into society, and no one is probably more ruthlessly prepared to defend Obama's gains than her.It made sense to get the "nice" Obama Presidency finished first, then send in the Hillary knife fighters. If there's nothing more than eight years of drama, that will still mean no going back on Obama's progressive gains. As much as I love Warren, the next 2 Presidential terms should be about gain consolidation. By the time her terms are up, the demographics will be so stacked against the GOP hardliners, it won't matter much who the Dems run.

Huckabee: Don't Enlist till We Get a More Godly President

Saturday April 18th, 2015 10:09:06 PM
Mike Huckabee says serving in the armed forces is great. But you should probably wait to enlist until we have a Commander-in-Chief who is godly and promotes sexual morality. From Right Wing Watch ...“This administration has had an open hostility toward the Christian faith,” he said. “And I know that sounds like a bold statement, Jan, but when you have a president whose administration orders its chaplains to put its Bibles away, not to pray in Jesus name, not to counsel people on the issues of sexual morality; when you have this attitude that is more about promoting gay marriage and gay rights in the military than it is about being able to protect religious liberty for those people of faith, it’s going to be hard to find people that are truly devoted people of faith and Christian believers and Orthodox Jews and others.”“Why would they want to be in a military that would be openly hostile and not just simply bring some scorn to their faith, but would punish them for it?” he asked.This led Mickelson to ask Huckabee what he would tell parents whose children are considering joining the armed forces.“There’s nothing more honorable than serving one’s country and there’s no greater heroes to our country than our military,” he responded, “but I might suggest to parents, I’d wait a couple of years until we get a new commander-in-chief that will once again believe ‘one nation under god’ and believe that people of faith should be a vital part of the process of not only governing this country, but defending this country.”

Are You Ready for Hillary?

Saturday April 18th, 2015 09:33:30 PM
I've mentioned a couple times that Democrats appear to be at the beginning of an all but unprecedented primary season in which the outcome appears so foreordained as to change the whole nature of the process. So I wanted to ask readers? Are you ready for Hillary? Are you a supporter? If not, are you ready to be? I am not looking for any particular answers. I'm just curious to hear people's thoughts, Democrats who are going to vote for the Democratic nominee regardless. What's your thinking at this point. Want to share your thoughts? Shoot me an email at our comments email address.

Rep. Steve King: Obama Is Importing Millions Of 'Undocumented Democrats'

Saturday April 18th, 2015 07:57:58 PM
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) during a radio interview Thursday on “The John Fredericks Show” accused President Obama of importing “undocumented Democrats” and essentially buying votes. “To put it simply, the President is importing millions of illegal aliens, who, when they arrive here, he thinks, and he’s right, they are undocumented Democrats,” King said. “The next phase of this is to document these Democrats so they can vote. This is a raw political power move.”King criticized Obama's "lawlessness," saying he was bringing in people who would “erode the politics of this country" and who don't have "respect for the rule of law.”“They don’t understand the law,” King said. “They come from lawless countries so they’re not at all likely to defend our constitution or the rule of law.”King also compared the loyalty these illegal aliens would have for Obama and the Democratic Party to the loyalty African Americans had for Democrats after President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act.Listen to the audio below, courtesy of BuzzFeed:

GOP Rep: Obamacare Makes America More Like North Korea

Saturday April 18th, 2015 07:24:54 PM
Rep. David Brat (R-VA) on Thursday, during a conversation with Lars Larson at the “Hold Their Feet To The Fire” conference, blamed Obamacare for moving America away from a free market system and making the country more like North Korea. During the conversation, Brat responded to a PolitiFact article, which took issue with a statement he'd made on March 17. Brat had said repealing Obamacare would save America more than $2 trillion, a statement that PolitiFact, a fact-checking project run by the Tampa Bay Times, disputed and said was false. Brat disagreed with PolitiFact's conclusions and told Larson that moving away from a free market economy was endangering America.“Look at every country in the world,” Brat said. “Look at North Korea and South Korea. It’s the same culture, it’s the same people, look at a map at night, half the, one of the countries is not lit, there’s no lights, and the bottom free-market country, all Koreans, is lit up. See you make your bet on which country you want to be, right? You want to go free market.”“We have poverty on the rise because we’re moving away from free markets,” Brat added. Brat also said business was a “morally good calling” but lamented that that message wasn’t being taught in schools, which, he maintained was problematic.Listen to the audio below, courtesy of Right Wing Watch:

Rand Paul: Hillary Has So Much 'Baggage' She Needs An Extra Plane

Saturday April 18th, 2015 06:26:50 PM
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton saying she had so much baggage she’d need an extra plane just to haul it, during a speech on Saturday in New Hampshire, The Hill reported. "I'm starting to worry that when Hillary Clinton travels, there's gonna need to be two planes – one for her and her entourage, and one for her baggage," Paul said. “I'm concerned that the plane with the baggage is really getting heavy and teetering.”Paul, who, like Clinton, recently announced his 2016 presidential candidacy, criticized Clinton for using a private email account while she was secretary of State, according to The Hill. The Republican candidate also reportedly took issue with the fact that the Clinton Foundation had accepted monetary contributions from foreign governments.Paul has recently faced criticism over his comments and behavior toward women, prompting accusations that he’s sexist and forcing his wife to defend him against the claims.

Fox Contributor: If We Allow Gays To Get Married, Why Not Siblings?

Saturday April 18th, 2015 04:53:25 PM
Fox contributor Pastor Robert Jeffress during Friday’s “The O’Reilly Factor” likened gay marriage to incest while arguing that the Supreme Court shouldn’t make gay marriage a civil right. “If you expand the definition of marriage to two men and two women, why stop there?” Jeffress said. “If it’s an absolute constitutional right, why can’t 16-year-olds get married? Why can’t polygamists get married? Why can’t siblings get married? Where do you stop? It opens up a Pandora’s box of societal-wide chaos.”Jeffress, who signed a brief asking the Supreme Court to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage, also agreed with host Bill O’Reilly’s comments that Christians were under attack in America.“I believe that if the Supreme Court, as expected, enshrines gay marriage as a constitutional right, I believe it’s truly going to be, to use your phrase, ‘open season’ on Christians and those who believe in traditional marriage,” Jeffress said. “Once you make gay marriage a civil right then anyone who opposes it is guilty of a civil rights violation.”Watch the video below, courtesy of Media Matters:

O’Reilly: I Give 'Big Money' To Minorities, Have No Complicity In White Suppression

Saturday April 18th, 2015 03:02:43 PM
Bill O’Reilly during Friday night’s “The O’Reilly Factor" denounced "the big lie" of “white privilege" and ranted that he wasn't complicit in "white suppression." O’Reilly set up his show by mentioning comments he’d made on Monday’s show in which he claimed that “our traditional American values are under siege nearly everywhere.” He added that it was “open season” on Christians and white men in America.O’Reilly devoted Friday’s show to attacking the “lie” that "white privilege” and “white suppression” are real issues in American society.O’Reilly also said he wasn’t complicit because he was “a big fan” of abolitionist John Quincy Adams and donated “big money to help suffering minorities in this country and all over the world.”“No society is perfect,” O’Reilly said. “Police agencies, local political situations, corporations can all be corrupted. But there is no organized white suppression, and our system gives all men and women the chance to succeed in life if they do what is necessary to compete.”h/t Mediate

Bill Maher To Ted Cruz: 'You, Sir, Are No Galileo’

Saturday April 18th, 2015 02:07:31 PM
Bill Maher slammed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Friday’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” for denying climate change and comparing himself to Galileo. Cruz, in an interview with the Texas Tribune, compared his denial of climate change to Galileo's rejection of the "scientific wisdom" of his day and pointed out that Galileo was branded a heretic for his denial. “You, sir, are no Galileo,” Maher said. “But as long as you want to look at Galileo. The consensus he disproved was that the sun orbits the Earth, which wasn’t a scientific consensus! It was a Bible myth from cavemen! He was the scientist!”Maher also urged Americans to save a rare species from extinction.“In honor of Earth Day,” Maher said, “America must go all out to save a creature that’s on the verge of extinction. I’m talking of course about the Republican politician who believes in science.”Maher then presented “zombie lies,” his name for lies that are “definitively proven wrong and yet refuse to die.” However, he clarified that the climate change denial and zombie lies weren’t ever about facts, they were about donors.“The zombie lies aren’t for the voters, they’re for the donors who make their money killing the planet,” Maher said. “The question is not why today’s politicians suck more than ever. It’s who they’re sucking more than ever.”Maher also pointed out that Republicans will say anything for the amount of money they’re getting from donors like the Koch brothers.“It’s what their fellow prostitutes in the sex industry call the ‘girlfriend experience.’”Watch the video below, courtesy of HBO:h/t Mediaite

There's Wingnuts in Them Thar Hills

Friday April 17th, 2015 10:24:10 PM
ICYMI: This gold mine in Oregon is probably going to be the next Bundy Ranch. The militia winguts are already converging.Because of course it is.

TPM Talks to Reserve Deputy's Atty

Friday April 17th, 2015 10:18:33 PM
EXCLUSIVE: TPM talks to the attorney representing Robert Bates, the Tulsa volunteer Sheriff's reserve deputy charged with shooting Eric Harris.

Top RNC Data Official: Actually, There's Not Much Vote Fraud

Friday April 17th, 2015 09:54:46 PM
The Chief Data Officer for the Republican National Committee on Friday cast doubt on ongoing claims that continue to find life on the right: that voter fraud is a widespread problem that sometimes swings elections against the GOP. At a panel of RNC officials Friday at the First In The Nation Republican Leadership Summit in New Hampshire, RNC Chief Data Officer Jesse Kamzol responded to a question about voter fraud ambiguously saying "it's only about 1 percent." That number was in response to a question by an attendee at the event asking if the RNC "had looked at voter fraud data." Conservatives have warned about widespread voter fraud diluting the power of legitimate votes and swinging elections in favor of Democrats. Those claims have served as the core rationale for voter identification laws, even in the face of studies (flagged by TPM) showing that voter fraud, especially in person voter identification fraud, is extremely rare. The same claims have been used to justify other voting restrictions, like early voting and same day registration.To be clear, if 1 percent of votes were fraudulent that would still be a huge number of votes in absolute numbers. Actual investigations have found numbers that are infinitesimally smaller. For instance, as The Washington Post noted, Kansas's secretary of state reviewed 84 million votes cast in over 20 states. He found only 14 cases (or 0.00000017 percent of the total votes cast) got a referral for prosecution. Only official efforts, often by prominent advocates of voting restrictions, have found similarly meager results. Still 1 percent seems to be a shorthand way of saying that the phenomenon is not nearly as widespread as Republicans themselves often claim."It's a really hard thing to track to be honest with you. Every state has very different election laws," Kamzol said during the panel. "You get a state like Wisconsin, or even New Hampshire which is a same-day registration state, it's really hard to actually prove that at the time that they're registering to vote. "So we do post-facto try to figure out exactly who was voting in multiple locations," Kamzol continued. "But you have to do a lot of research into it. So you have to take a lot of that into account. It's not as big as you would think it would be. It's only about 1 percent and a lot of times it's on accident but we do take it into account, especially in these states."It's not clear from Kamzol's answer or the question exactly what that 1 percent is. Is the percentage of the total number of voters analyzed by the RNC? Or maybe the total voting electorate? Kamzol's exchange didn't offer more explanation.TPM reached out to the RNC to try and get in touch with Kamzol but didn't immediately hear back from the data officer.Watch the video below:(Photo credit: Youtube)

EXCLUSIVE: Attorney For Deputy Who Killed Unarmed Black Man Talks To TPM

Friday April 17th, 2015 10:17:51 PM
The white Oklahoma reserve sheriff's deputy charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man has received threats and been harassed by the media in recent weeks, according to one of his attorneys.Corbin Brewster, a member of the defense team representing Tulsa County Sheriff's Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, spoke about the threats and other details of the case in a phone interview Friday with TPM. Brewster (whose father, attorney Clark Brewster, is pictured above with Bates) told TPM that both Bates and his lawyers have received threats referencing the man Bates killed, Eric Harris."Random anonymous phone calls which are, I’ll be honest, quite frightening in light of Mr. Harris -- I mean on his Facebook he claims gang affiliation with the Crips," he said. "So when you receive an anonymous threat involving reference to Mr. Harris, I think it’s particularly alarming."Daniel Smolen, an attorney representing the Harris family, did not immediately respond on Friday afternoon to a request for comment from TPM about the allegations of gang affiliation. Bates told investigators after the shooting that on the day of the undercover operation, Harris was described to him as a convicted felon and a "bad son of a bitch" who had gang affiliations. News reports and statements from the sheriff's office have not identified Harris as a gang member or mentioned any affiliation with a gang. Brewster also addressed questions about Bates' training that have surfaced in the Tulsa World newspaper. The paper reported, based on anonymous sources, that sheriff's office supervisors had falsified records for firearms and other training for Bates.What follows is a partial transcript of TPM's conversation with Brewster that has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity. TPM: Sheriff Stanley Glantz, in a radio podcast interview earlier this week, said that there were some records related to Bates’ firearms training that his office couldn’t locate. Today Bates said that he has proof of his training in writing. How does his legal team reconcile those two things? There’s no missing firearm records in terms of his score. The way that your firearm qualification works is you go to the range, you shoot -- I don’t know how many rounds you have to shoot, like 100 rounds or something -- and they are scored by a firearms instructor, I believe. That score is then reported into a system that logs the score and if you qualify then you go forward. The notes of the firearm instructor are not necessarily kept. In the sheriff’s case I think -- and I don’t represent the sheriff’s office in this matter -- but I think those are the records he’s referring to, the underlying notes of the firearm instructor. They don’t have those. Now the qualification scores that were entered into his personnel file, they do exist, and his record of his firearms qualifications.Mr. Bates also told investigators after the shooting that he became a reserve deputy in 2007, while the sheriff’s office said that he joined the reserve deputy program in 2008. I believe it’s a misstatement. Now that we’ve gone back and looked at those records I think he joined in 2008. It’s pretty clear. Mr. Bates did not intend to deceive anyone or misstate the dates. I think he just confused 2007 with 2008.Is your legal team aware of any waivers or exemptions that Mr. Bates may have been granted by the sheriff’s office in terms of field training or any firearms certifications?I believe because Mr. Bates was a former police officer he was grandfathered in certain CLEET [Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training] training requirements. Is the legal team aware of any political activity that Bates has been involved in outside of chairing the sheriff’s 2012 re-election campaign and donating to that effort?I don’t know. I bet you have the tools to look that up quicker than I could. Don’t you keep records of any donations to any politician, like OpenSecrets? Honestly I haven’t checked and I don’t think that his political involvement is relevant.How is Mr. Bates is dealing with the scrutiny from this case? Have there been any threats or harassment toward him?We had one producer tell us that she was begging for an interview with Mr. Bates which we declined. She made the comment "Am I gonna have to stalk him until I get it?" Another producer was in his window, with his hands on the window, peeking into his home while his wife was there and it frightened her. There were several news vans parked outside his house for several days. That’d be three examples.So he’s under more scrutiny from the media than from, say, citizens who are upset about this incident?I think he’s received direct threats too. We’ve had threats called into our office. Random anonymous phone calls which are, I’ll be honest, quite frightening in light of Mr. Harris -- I mean on his Facebook he claims gang affiliation with the Crips. So when you receive an anonymous threat involving reference to Mr. Harris, I think it’s particularly alarming.Is there any information that you feel the media should be aware of with relation to this case?I think this is something that could have happened to any police officer in a high pressure, moment-to-moment situation like the one that confronted Mr. Bates. The focus on his age and all these other extraneous details loses sight of what police officers face every day in terms of threats and danger when they're working on the streets. The other point I would make to you is that a lot has been made about Mr. Bates’ age. He was not assigned as part of the take down team, or the arrest team or the undercover team. Mr. Bates was driving a sheriff’s Tahoe that had evidence bags, a camera, gloves, other crime scene tools and equipment that was going to be used in the execution of a search warrant at Mr. Harris’ house. When the undercover buy went down, Mr. Bates was blocks away in what they call a containment position. It was never in the plan for him to be involved at all or have any contact with Mr. Harris.The plan was to have a quick and clean arrest following the gun deal and then to execute the search warrant at Mr. Harris’ apartment. When Mr. Harris ran, he ran several blocks away from the undercover buy directly towards Mr. Bates, activating him into an emergent, highly tense situation. Mr. Bates, as a reserve deputy, was duty bound to assist and he was making an attempt to assist other officers when the gun was fired and he accidentally shot Mr. Harris. So I think there's been some misconception with, why are we putting this 73-year-old in the middle of this high-pressure situation? That really wasn’t the plan. Mr. Harris’ decision to run from police created that situation.

5 Points On Harry Reid's Unusual Plot To Force A Vote On Loretta Lynch

Friday April 17th, 2015 07:49:26 PM
WASHINGTON — Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is threatening to do something that no Senate minority leader in modern history has attempted: bypass the majority party and force a vote on a high-profile nomination.That would be Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's attorney general nominee who has been twisting in the wind for five months, not because she faces united Senate GOP opposition per se but because her nomination has been caught up in an unrelated fight over abortion and human trafficking. Reid's daring and seemingly unprecedented move may succeed in shining a spotlight on GOP senators who support Lynch's confirmation but are willing to go along with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in holding up the vote. But the gambit appears unlikely to succeed in securing Lynch's quick confirmation.Here's what's going on. Reid claims he'll force a vote if Republicans don't act. "Absolutely we can force votes. If we don’t get something done soon I will force a vote," he told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday night. "I had a conversation today with a number of Republicans and told them really to get her done or I will make sure they will have an opportunity to vote against her."In other words, Reid is threatening to effectively seize the reins from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the issue.Here's how Reid's gambit would work. Senate rules allow any member, when recognized on the floor, to make a motion to proceed to a nomination on the calendar. By tradition this is a prerogative of the majority leader, who enjoys the right of first recognition, but ordinary senators are not prohibited from trying. It just never happens.So let's say Reid tries. The next thing that would happen is that Republicans would object, and Reid would need 51 votes to override their objection and move forward. This is where his plan is likely to fail.Five Republicans back Lynch, but are loyal to McConnell. Assume all 46 Democratic members unite, Reid will need the support of at least four Republican senators to proceed to the executive session. The problem here is that the five Republicans who support Lynch — Sens. Jeff Flake (AZ), Orrin Hatch (UT), Lindsey Graham (SC), Susan Collins (ME) and Mark Kirk (IL) — have been loyal to McConnell on procedural matters. All have stood by him as he has delayed a vote on the nomination, and it's extremely unlikely they'll support Reid in a procedural move designed to undercut McConnell.A Senate Republican leadership aide categorically said Reid's move "would fail" and added: "He cannot force a vote on Lynch. It's that simple."If Reid somehow cobbles together the majority needed to proceed to executive session, then he can file "cloture" on the nomination if 16 other senators sign his petition — they can all be Democrats. At that point, there would be a vote to proceed to the nomination, followed by a maximum of 30 hours of debate, and then a final vote on the nomination — both would require a simple majority."Democrats will frame those procedural votes as a test of the GOP's willingness to confirm the first female African-American AG. That will put those GOP [senators who support Lynch] in a tough spot — precisely where Reid and Democrats probably want to put them," said Sarah Binder, a Senate expert and George Washington University professor.Reid's gambit appears to be unprecedented. Neither Reid's office nor outside Senate experts could point to a modern precedent for such a move. The right of the majority leader to control votes has been unchallenged for generations."[T]he delay on Lynch is unprecedented," said Adam Jentleson, Reid's spokesman."I have never heard of this being attempted before," said Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "It makes you wonder what's going on in Harry's mind right now in doing a prod on this issue. Unless it's simply to register a strong political point." McConnell says he'll bring up Lynch after the Senate passes an anti-sex-trafficking bill. But it's unclear when — or if — that'll happen. The legislation stalled one month ago due to anti-abortion language that Democrats said they discovered while it was on the floor. Since then sparks have flown and offers have been traded, but the parties remain divided over whether trafficking victims should face restrictions on the use of money collected from perpetrators to get an abortion.McConnell has used the Lynch nomination as a bargaining chip, but Democrats insist the issues are unrelated and that she deserves a vote regardless.McConnell "has already announced that the Lynch nomination will get a vote," said Don Stewart, his deputy chief of staff. "Members are continuing to work to find a way to overcome the Democrats’ filibuster of a bipartisan bill that will help prevent women and children from being sold into sex slavery. Once that bill’s complete, the Lynch nomination is next."If and when Lynch does come up, she appears to have at least 51 votes to be confirmed.

Huckabee Bashes Chris Christie's Social Security Cuts

Friday April 17th, 2015 07:05:36 PM
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) took aim at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) proposal to make dramatic changes to Social Security. "I don't know why Republicans want to insult Americans by pretending they don't understand what their Social Security program and Medicare program is," Huckabee said Friday, according to The Weekly Standard. He was responding to a question about Christie's proposed cuts to Social Security. Christie also called on gradually raising the national retirement age. Besides Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) have both signaled support (albeit vaguely) for some kinds of cuts to entitlement programs. But not Huckabee. He said his answer is "not just no, it's you-know-what no." Huckabee added that he wasn't "being specifically critical of Christie but that's not a reform. That's some kind of proposal that Republicans need to embrace because what we are really embracing at that point is we are embracing a government that lied to its people —that took money from its people under one pretense and then took it away at the time they started wanting to actually get what they have paid for all these years." Huckabee called Republican proposals to reform entitlement programs "disastrous, not only politically but I think they [will] be disastrous in terms of further breaking the trust between the government and its people."

Texas High Schoolers Record Racist Song About Lynching

Friday April 17th, 2015 08:35:49 PM
Two high school students from Grapevine, Texas were forced to write letters of apology after they recorded "a highly offensive, racist rap," the Grapevine-Courier reported on Thursday. The two students were required by the high school's school district to write letters of apology, which were circulated in a district-wide email this week for the rap which they reportedly recorded in June 2013. The names of the students were not released.The song, which was posted to social media two years ago, began circulating among Grapevine High School students and the school only recently had been made aware of it.According to one of the letters by the students, the freestyle rap was recorded when they were naive about the potential repercussions because they "were just getting into social media," the Grapevine-Courier reported."That was almost two years ago," one of the students wrote. "Being new to social media then, I did not fully understand the swift and large impact that one posting can have."The other student also spoke of their naiveté. "Racism was not the talk of the country nor had we ever witnessed the true power of social media, twitter was still fresh and we had never heard of anyone getting in trouble for posting anything on social media, it was the beginning of this social era," the student wrote. "I was 14 years old and was ignorant to the words coming out of my mouth. As kids, we hear racist jokes all times of the day. It’s what we’re around, it’s the jokes we heard."The Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District released a statement on Thursday addressing the incident, expressing how "appalled" the district was and noting that it didn't have "legal disciplinary authority," according to the Grapevine-Courier.Grapevine High School Principal Shannon Tovar also issued a statement in which she expressed how sorry she was for the incident and thanked the students who stood "up for the values that uphold the proud heritage" of the school, the Grapevine-Courier reported. Tovar also stressed the fact that the school, located near Dallas, couldn't legally punish the students, but she mentioned future efforts that would be undertaken to "reinforce the diverse values" of the community.This apology comes after a frat at Oklahoma University was recorded using the n-word during a chant about hanging black people from a tree. The frat member who led the chant and was expelled from the university was from the Dallas area of Texas.Listen to the audio below, courtesy of Complex.(Warning: Song is explicit and contains violent and racist lyrics.)http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/04/texas-high-school-students-white-supremacist-song


Woman Cites Religious Freedom Law To Defend Her Right To Feed The Homeless​

Saturday April 18th, 2015 03:12:02 PM Bryce Covert

Joan Cheever has fed the city's homeless for 10 years and says it is a free expression of her religious beliefs. The post Woman Cites Religious Freedom Law To Defend Her Right To Feed The Homeless​ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The Laws That Could Protect Workers From Chaotic Schedules That No One Knows About

Friday April 17th, 2015 02:17:14 PM Bryce Covert

Eight states have laws that protect workers from abrupt schedule changes, but they're rarely enforced. New York's attorney general wants to change that. The post The Laws That Could Protect Workers From Chaotic Schedules That No One Knows About appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Much Of Homeless People’s Daily Life Is Criminalized. This Bill Aims To Change That

Thursday April 16th, 2015 02:01:15 PM Bryce Covert

The bill would enshrine rights for the homeless such as the ability to lie down in public, accept food, and expect a certain level of privacy. The post Much Of Homeless People’s Daily Life Is Criminalized. This Bill Aims To Change That appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Google Faces Antitrust Lawsuit For Influencing How Users Shop

Wednesday April 15th, 2015 03:46:17 PM Lauren C. Williams

The European Commission announced Wednesday the search engine giant would be charged for suppressing market competition, harming customers. The post Google Faces Antitrust Lawsuit For Influencing How Users Shop appeared first on ThinkProgress.

On Tax Day, House Republicans Vote On Handout To The 0.2 Percent

Wednesday April 15th, 2015 02:06:22 PM Bryce Covert

House Republicans will vote to repeal the estate tax on Wednesday, which only applies to a tiny number of very wealthy people. The post On Tax Day, House Republicans Vote On Handout To The 0.2 Percent appeared first on ThinkProgress.

After Destroying His State’s Retirement System, Christie Sets His Sights On Social Security

Tuesday April 14th, 2015 08:41:28 PM Alan Pyke

Presumptive 2016 candidate Chris Christie (R-NJ) laid out a plan to cut Social Security benefits on Tuesday in New Hampshire, but critics note that it would not only harm future retirees but fail to close the program's funding gap. The post After Destroying His State’s Retirement System, Christie Sets His Sights On Social Security appeared first on ThinkProgress.

These Rules Could Stop Financial Advisors From Siphoning Billions From Americans’ Retirement Every Year

Tuesday April 14th, 2015 07:12:52 PM Bryce Covert

A new rule would require all investment advisers who help people with retirement to act as fiduciaries and avoid conflicts of interest. The post These Rules Could Stop Financial Advisors From Siphoning Billions From Americans’ Retirement Every Year appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Major Investor Chides Corporations For Wasting Money On Shareholders Instead Of Workers

Tuesday April 14th, 2015 03:37:23 PM Bryce Covert

The CEO of BlackRock, the world's biggest asset manager, thinks companies are too worried about the short term at the risk of economic growth. The post Major Investor Chides Corporations For Wasting Money On Shareholders Instead Of Workers appeared first on ThinkProgress.

House Republicans Want To Strip Protections For People Living In Mobile Homes

Tuesday April 14th, 2015 12:00:39 PM Alan Pyke

The mobile home industry has been chugging along just fine since new regulations to protect borrowers from predatory loans came online last year, but Republicans are planning to strip the protections at the industry's behest. The post House Republicans Want To Strip Protections For People Living In Mobile Homes appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Where The Presidential Candidates Stand On Equal Pay

Tuesday April 14th, 2015 12:00:11 PM Bryce Covert

Where all the candidates stand on Equal Pay Day. The post Where The Presidential Candidates Stand On Equal Pay appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Economic Policies Hillary Clinton Could Use To Energize Voters

Saturday April 11th, 2015 05:37:27 PM Alan Pyke

Hillary Clinton is expected to formally announce her candidacy for the White House on Sunday. Here's a look at the public opinion landscape around key economic policy areas where the Clinton campaign will have to win friends and influence voters. The post Economic Policies Hillary Clinton Could Use To Energize Voters appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Teacher Instructs Students To Fear Muslims, Says Islam Is An ‘Ideology Of War’

Friday April 10th, 2015 07:35:25 PM Jack Jenkins

“You will either give into their demands recognizing Islam’s ‘noble’ rule, you will become a Muslim yourself, or you will die,” the flier read. The post Teacher Instructs Students To Fear Muslims, Says Islam Is An ‘Ideology Of War’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Workers Sue Walmart For Manipulating Employee Classification To Deny Them Overtime Pay

Friday April 10th, 2015 02:30:47 PM Bryce Covert

The company is accused of making managers do work that should have earned them overtime without paying extra. The post Workers Sue Walmart For Manipulating Employee Classification To Deny Them Overtime Pay appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Seattle Restaurant Data Demolishes Conservative Argument Against $15 Minimum Wage

Friday April 10th, 2015 01:30:20 PM Alan Pyke

It was embarrassing enough when conservatives claimed that Seattle restaurant owners were closing because of the $15 minimum wage law without even asking the restaurateurs. Now, new data on the restaurant scene makes the claim look even sillier. The post Seattle Restaurant Data Demolishes Conservative Argument Against $15 Minimum Wage appeared first on ThinkProgress.

You Can Get Away With Cheating The IRS As Long As You Only Steal $999,999

Thursday April 9th, 2015 08:43:29 PM Alan Pyke

Cutting your nose off to spite your face is one thing. Undermining your country's ability to enforce tax laws so that wealthy criminals can swindle billions per year with no consequence is another. The post You Can Get Away With Cheating The IRS As Long As You Only Steal $999,999 appeared first on ThinkProgress.

What It Means To Have To Work ‘Anytime Of The Day, Any Day Of The Week’

Thursday April 9th, 2015 01:50:03 PM Bryce Covert

Many American workers struggle with unpredictable schedules and have no say over changing them. The post What It Means To Have To Work ‘Anytime Of The Day, Any Day Of The Week’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Bank Workers Tell Their Bosses: Stop Making Us Sell Shady Products To Poor People

Thursday April 9th, 2015 01:43:06 PM Alan Pyke

The call for reform is coming from inside the bank! The post Bank Workers Tell Their Bosses: Stop Making Us Sell Shady Products To Poor People appeared first on ThinkProgress.

No, Women Getting College Degrees Won’t Close The Gender Wage Gap

Wednesday April 8th, 2015 02:44:23 PM Bryce Covert

Women with the highest degrees actually experience the largest wage gap. The post No, Women Getting College Degrees Won’t Close The Gender Wage Gap appeared first on ThinkProgress.

New Website Hopes To Keep Women From Being ‘Blindsided’ By Leave Policies

Wednesday April 8th, 2015 12:00:01 PM Bryce Covert

Maybrooks is gathering data on hundreds of companies' paid family leave and flexible working policies to give women the information they need. The post New Website Hopes To Keep Women From Being ‘Blindsided’ By Leave Policies appeared first on ThinkProgress.

California Cities Band Together To Preserve Their Right To Treat Homeless People As Criminals

Tuesday April 7th, 2015 07:43:37 PM Alan Pyke

The cities claim that protecting homeless people from harassment by police and criminalization of their day-to-day lives would distract lawmakers from tackling tougher issues like affordable housing and social services. The post California Cities Band Together To Preserve Their Right To Treat Homeless People As Criminals appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Community Distrust Remains High As St. Louis County Deals With Another Fatal Police Shooting

Sunday April 19th, 2015 07:07:00 PM Erica Hellerstein

he incident occurred after officers responded to a call from a woman who was concerned that her son was acting out of character. The post Community Distrust Remains High As St. Louis County Deals With Another Fatal Police Shooting appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Ohio Officer Demonstrates How To Avoid Using Deadly Force

Sunday April 19th, 2015 05:09:41 PM Nicole Flatow

A man suspected of killing his fiancee and his best friend told Officer Jesse Kidder repeatedly to “shoot me” as he ran toward him after a police chase. But Kidder didn’t shoot. The post Ohio Officer Demonstrates How To Avoid Using Deadly Force appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Why 1 of the Jena 6 Is Now Speaking Out Against Juvenile Justice Spending

Friday April 17th, 2015 06:11:33 PM Carimah Townes

"A lot of kids are in detention for non-violent offenses and don’t need to be there. They aren’t a threat to public safety." The post Why 1 of the Jena 6 Is Now Speaking Out Against Juvenile Justice Spending appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Why These Victims’ Parents Don’t Want The Death Penalty For The Boston Bomber

Friday April 17th, 2015 05:41:10 PM Nicole Flatow

For many families of murder victims, seeking the death penalty is offensive, disruptive, and anathema to their healing. The post Why These Victims’ Parents Don’t Want The Death Penalty For The Boston Bomber appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Hobby Lobby Part II Is Barreling Towards The Supreme Court

Friday April 17th, 2015 02:55:51 PM Ian Millhiser

A case winding its way through the courts provides the Supreme Court with a new vehicle for expanding the power of religious employers to deny health coverage. The post Hobby Lobby Part II Is Barreling Towards The Supreme Court appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Reid Will Force Vote On Attorney General Nominee ‘Very, Very Soon’ If McConnell Doesn’t Bring Her Up

Thursday April 16th, 2015 08:59:56 PM Ian Millhiser

Should Reid make a motion to proceed to a vote on Lynch, that will trigger the kind of labyrinthian sequence of votes on votes that can only exist in the United States Senate. The post Reid Will Force Vote On Attorney General Nominee ‘Very, Very Soon’ If McConnell Doesn’t Bring Her Up appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Hillary Clinton Shifts Stance On Major Immigrant Policy Issue

Thursday April 16th, 2015 07:32:28 PM Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

"Hillary supports state policies to provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants," a Clinton campaign spokesperson said. The post Hillary Clinton Shifts Stance On Major Immigrant Policy Issue appeared first on ThinkProgress.

School Photoshops T-Shirt That Says ‘Feminist’ Out Of Class Photo

Thursday April 16th, 2015 03:25:27 PM Ian Millhiser

"Some people might find it offensive." The post School Photoshops T-Shirt That Says ‘Feminist’ Out Of Class Photo appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Did The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Fake Robert Bates’ Training Documents?

Thursday April 16th, 2015 03:01:12 PM Carimah Townes

"That’s incredibly disturbing that we would see an instance in which an individual were able to purchase power within the police department." The post Did The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Fake Robert Bates’ Training Documents? appeared first on ThinkProgress.

How Chicago Is Finally Coming To Grips With Its Dark History Of Police Torture

Thursday April 16th, 2015 01:49:56 PM Kira Lerner

A settlement announced Tuesday would make Chicago the first city in the country to offer reparations and an official apology to victims of police misconduct. The post How Chicago Is Finally Coming To Grips With Its Dark History Of Police Torture appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Millions Spent Lobbying By Private Prison Corporations To Keep A Quota Of Arrested Immigrants, Report Says

Thursday April 16th, 2015 11:59:25 AM Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

"We simply detain too many people," Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) said. The post Millions Spent Lobbying By Private Prison Corporations To Keep A Quota Of Arrested Immigrants, Report Says appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Christie Promises To ‘Crack Down’ On Marijuana If Elected President

Wednesday April 15th, 2015 08:43:09 PM Carimah Townes

He's behind the curve. The post Christie Promises To ‘Crack Down’ On Marijuana If Elected President appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Private Company Conspired With Police To Hold Poor People For Ransom, Lawsuit Charges

Wednesday April 15th, 2015 07:47:08 PM Aviva Shen

Plaintiffs were told they couldn't leave the courthouse until they paid a fee. The post Private Company Conspired With Police To Hold Poor People For Ransom, Lawsuit Charges appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Lawmaker: High-Capacity Magazines Are Just A ‘Harmless Piece Of Plastic’

Wednesday April 15th, 2015 06:39:24 PM Scott Keyes

Three years ago, James Holmes used a high-capacity magazine to gun kill 12 people and wound 70 more in under 90 seconds. The post Lawmaker: High-Capacity Magazines Are Just A ‘Harmless Piece Of Plastic’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

A New Low For PETA

Wednesday April 15th, 2015 03:28:34 PM Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

"I believe people can be rehabilitated from the inside out,” Pamela Anderson said. The post A New Low For PETA appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Major Libertarian Thinker On Human ‘Failures': ‘It Is Best They Should Die’

Wednesday April 15th, 2015 03:10:18 PM Ian Millhiser

"Having, by unwise institutions, brought into existence large numbers who are unadapted to the requirements of social life, and are consequently sources of misery to themselves and others, we cannot repress and gradually diminish this body of relatively worthless people without inflicting much pain" The post Major Libertarian Thinker On Human ‘Failures': ‘It Is Best They Should Die’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

How Artists Are Taking On Police Brutality

Wednesday April 15th, 2015 12:00:44 PM Carimah Townes

Violence vs. Love The post How Artists Are Taking On Police Brutality appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The Battle Rages On: Internet Providers Sue FCC In Hopes Of Killing Net Neutrality

Tuesday April 14th, 2015 08:50:44 PM Lauren C. Williams

Shots fired: Broadband industry groups launch first legitimate lawsuits to undo net neutrality. The post The Battle Rages On: Internet Providers Sue FCC In Hopes Of Killing Net Neutrality appeared first on ThinkProgress.

New Mexico Is The Second State To Ban Police From Seizing Innocent People’s Property

Tuesday April 14th, 2015 01:49:18 PM Carimah Townes

The state has previously been one of the worst offenders. The post New Mexico Is The Second State To Ban Police From Seizing Innocent People’s Property appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Islamic Extremists Have Seized Control Of U.S. Cities, Says NRA Seminar

Tuesday April 14th, 2015 01:09:23 PM Kira Lerner

"I have seen it with my own eyes, witnessed it in the backseat of a car and it is for real. No-go zones exist in the United States," the speaker told the NRA audience. The post Islamic Extremists Have Seized Control Of U.S. Cities, Says NRA Seminar appeared first on ThinkProgress.



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