A couple is wed in San Francisco soon after the state approved marriage licenses (by Pargon)
The most popular posts of the week as chosen by our readers were Texas Republican Thinks Rape Kits “Clean Out” Pregnant Victims Of Rape And Incest, our report that Snowden Took the NSA Job In Order To Gather Evidence, the full breakdown of the Voting Rights Act: Everything You Need To Know, Cato’s important piece about Why The Farm Bill Mattered, and finally, Saying Goodbye To The Washington “Scandals”.
Other popular posts were Fareed Zakaria’s The Threat Comes From Within, Here Are The States Already Prepping Discriminatory Voter ID Laws, and The Case For Class Based Affirmative Action.
Here are some posts you may have missed, but we think are important: whether or not it’s Time To Stop Worrying About American Foreign Policy?, DOMA Struck Down: Reactions And Analysis, #StandWithWendy: The Fight Is Not Over, and finally, our thoughts regarding a revelation about the NSA leaker, Snowden: “(Leakers) Should Be Shot In The Balls”.
Thanks for stopping by,
Robert Bateman captures the significance of the exchange above:
Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs and had her arm sewn back on, mostly, lays it down. A businessman is called out. It seems his company got something like $500 million in contracts from the government, primarily because his company was a “small business, disabled veteran owned.” His disability? When he was in prep-school, he twisted his ankle playing football.
Representative Duckworth, who knows something about sacrifice to your nation, tears this man a new orifice. And I, for one, would ask that everyone, regardless of politics, forward the clip. This man, and those like him, hurt us.
As always, RedState finds a way to dissent:
Stipulated: the VA system is broken. Stipulated: an industry exists to help veterans get a VA awarded service connected disability rating. Stipulated: the military services are a part of that system. Regardless of what “Doctor” Duckworth might think of Mr. Castillo’s injuries, the facts are that he applied for the disability rating and the VA granted him that rating. She doesn’t get a vote on it and no one should lionize her for her asshattery.
To be fair, Strieff makes a good point there about the brokenness of the VA system, which is mostly at fault here. But what Duckworth lamented in the beginning of her statement, and what the unbiased minds at RedState failed to absorb, was that Americans like Castillo see the brokenness, and are forever trying to take advantage of it. That’s what this poor, injured CEO did — to the tune of $500 million. And if a double amputee female warrior can’t call him or anyone else out for doing something as callous as that, then who can?
The bromance between NJ Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama was always going to come to an end once the former realized that unless he convinces the voters in his state that he is in fact a “conservative Republican”, he won’t be re-elected this coming fall. Newark-Star Ledger reports that whilst speaking to hundreds at a Sussex County town-hall meeting, Christie twice took to reminding the crowd that he is indeed a “conservative Republican” and promised the audience that he won’t be the same “kind of leader” for New Jersey that Obama is for the country:
“I know when you look at Washington right now, you shake your head at a president who can’t figure out how to lead, at a Congress that only 11 percent of the people in the last poll I saw approve of the job they’re doing,” Christie told hundreds inside the Vernon Township High School gym.
“That’s what happens when you have someone in the executive office who is more concerned about being right than he is concerned about getting things done,” Christie said. “But I’m not going to be that kind of leader of New Jersey.”
The statement comes on the heels of his pro-GOP response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA, where he criticized the federal recognition of same-sex marriages as a “bad decision“:
“It’s just another example of judicial supremacy rather than having the government run by the people we actually vote for. “I thought it was a bad decision.”
And with that, Governor Chris Christie is in full re-election mode.
(Photo by Bob Jagendorf)
Greenwald, like Nader, does not believe in meliorist progress. If you are not good, you are evil…This way of looking at the world naturally places one in conflict with most liberals, who are willing to distinguish between gradations of success or failure. Nader and Greenwald believe their analysis not only completely correct, but so obviously correct that the only motivation one could have to disagree is corruption. Good-faith disagreement, or even rank stupidity, is not possible around Greenwald. His liberal critics are lackeys and partisan shills. He may be willing to concede ideological disagreement with self-identified conservatives, but a liberal who disagrees can only be a kept man…Greenwald insisted that “even if Obama is the lesser of two evils, he’s the more effective of two evils.” Statements like this make their putative allies more nervous, or even provokes them to break with them altogether. But this only convinces them all the more deeply of their uncorruptable virtue.
Jonathan Chait, Glenn Greenwald is Ralph Nader
(Photo by Erik Alberhalden)
Tiffany Germain, Ryan Koronowski and Jeff Spross relay their shocking findings in a recent survey of climate change deniers in Congress:
Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus and high costs to taxpayers, there are still elected officials in Congress who refuse to accept that climate change is happening.
Almost 70 percent — 125 members — of the current Republican caucus in the House of Representatives deny the basic tenets of climate science. 65 percent (30 members) of the Senate Republican caucus also deny climate change. What this means is that they have made public statements indicating that they question or reject that climate change is real, is happening, and is caused by human consumption of fossil fuels.
This refusal to accept overwhelming scientific evidence is not just a symptom of the rank-and-file backbenchers. Members of GOP leadership and the committees that make critical decisions on national energy policy and air pollution have even higher concentrations:
90 percent of the Republican leadership in both House and Senate deny climate change
17 out of 22 Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, or 77 percent, are climate deniers
22 out of 30 Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, or 73 percent deny the reality of climate change
100 percent of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans have said climate change is not happening or that humans do not cause it
Check out the full interactive map here.
(Image: via ThinkProgress)
Once a parish priest in Rome and still only one of the few to actually be convicted of child rape (serving five years in jail), Don Partizio Poggi filed a complaint with Italian police claiming that a former officer of the Carabinieri — the Italian military police — served as the pimp facilitator for a Vatican “rent boy” ring.
According to The Times of London:
The former Carabinieri police officer pulled up outside a bar known as Twink — slang for a gay youth — next to Rome’s central station. He was driving a Fiat Panda marked “Emergency Blood” so he could easily park.There, he picked up Romanian immigrant “rent-boys”, some underage, for gay encounters with Catholic priests around Rome.
Obviously, there’s an issue regarding Poggi’s credibility here. He did time for raping young boys while many others who have done the same are residing comfortably within the great halls of the Vatican, so there’s some clear resentment and motive there. The Times, in seeing that there may exist an issue of credibility, noted the following:
“[his allegations] gained some credibility from the fact that he was accompanied by Monsignor Luca Lorusso, an adviser to the Papal Nuncio to Italy, who is himself a confidante of Pope Francis.”
(Photo by flickr user Geert Oyre)
Jonathan Chait noticed something yesterday: no one is talking about White House scandals anymore. Not even the Republicans. The reason for that is simple enough: the scandals never existed in the first place. DC and by extension, the media, were desperate for something to make up for the post-election lull that followed Obama’s second inauguration, and so we pretended for a while that Benghazi was something more than a military debacle gone awry; the IRS situation a tale of bureaucratic incompetence and negligence; and the NSA surveillance programs a matter of policy, not legality. Well, you can’t pretend forever:
What about the rest of the scandals? Well, there aren’t any, and there never were. Benghazi is a case of a bunch of confused agencies caught up in a fast-moving story trying to coordinate talking points. The ever-shifting third leg of the Obama scandal trifecta — Obama’s prosecution of leaks, or use of the National Security Agency — is not a scandal at all. It’s a policy controversy. One can argue that Obama’s policy stance is wrong, or dangerous, or a threat to democracy. But when the president is carrying out duly passed laws and acting at every stage with judicial approval, then the issue is the laws themselves, not misconduct.
At least when it comes to the NSA leaks, there’s something there with some teeth. Not in a scandal sense, mind you, but when it comes to government policy, it’s as juicy as it gets. Remarkably though, President Obama’s time in office has been pretty much entirely scandal free. Nothing he’s done — as far as we know — has crossed over the line of legality, technically speaking. You can and should disagree with his burgeoning use of drones, the ongoing disgrace of Gitmo, continued secret surveillance programs adopted from the previous administration, and the ongoing debate between action/inaction in Syria, but those are matters of policy.
DC needs a good feeding frenzy every so often to satiate the hawks, and who can really argue that there wasn’t a feeling of desperation and overreaching behind (mostly) Republican efforts to paint Obama as the second-coming of Nixon?
(Photo by flickr user Sean Hayford O’Leary)
The late journalist and commentator offers some changes to the Decalogue:
The process of utterly obliterating an opponent’s entire (usually religious or political) argument, usually in one or more succinct or terse statements, orally or in writing; employed almost exclusively by Christopher Hitchens.
Written by Cato:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” Matthew 25:35
By now we all know that the farm bill failed. What you might not know is why that matters.
According to NPR:
“If you think only farmers care about the farm bill currently being considered by Congress, you’re very, very mistaken. The measure will not only set policy and spending for the nation’s farms for years to come, but it will also affect dozens of other seemingly unrelated programs — all at a cost of nearly $1 trillion over the next decade.
“It’s not just about farmers. The farm bill is an all-encompassing piece of legislation comprising everything from farm subsidies and crop insurance — which have an indirect impact on food prices — to energy, forestry, food stamps and school lunches.
“‘It covers what is, in a lot of ways, the rural economy in this country,’ said Dale Moore, director for public policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation.”
So if the farm bill is so important, why did it die? The answer is simple really: Democrats wouldn’t accept the deep cuts that Republicans wanted to make to food stamps. It’s not hard to determine who’s morally right on this issue. Here’s a clue: it’s not the GOP.
According to a new study carried out by a group of expert researchers and published in Nature, the oldest DNA to ever be found comes from a horse. The researchers sequenced the DNA of a 700,000 year-old foot bone belonging to a wild horse, found in Canada’s Arctic, and discovered that the animal can trace its origins back 4 million years, making it the oldest creature — so far — whose DNA modern science has been able to study:
Dating techniques revealed that the animal lived in an epoch when woolly mammoths, saber-toothed cats and giant beavers shared turf with ancestral humans.
The work “opens great perspectives as to the level of details we can reconstruct of our origins and the evolutionary history of every animal on the planet,” said study leader Ludovic Orlando of the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
By comparing all of these genomes, the researchers determined that the most recent common ancestor of all these species — as well as zebras — lived 4 million to 4.5 million years ago. That’s about 2 million years earlier than previously thought, and allows for far more time for horses to have evolved into the animals we know today.
(Photo: courtesy of Wikicommons)
“I’m not gonna have one case … suddenly being elevated to the point where I’ve got to start to do wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues simply to get a guy extradited so that he can face the justice system in the United States. I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker. I get why it’s a fascinating story from a press perspective. And I’m sure there will be a made-for-TV movie somewhere down the line.”
President Barack Obama, commenting on Edward Snowden during a news conference from Senegal.
(Photo by NASA Goddard)
In December of last year, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved a 6,000 page report that processed more than 6 million pages of documents about CIA’s post 9/11 interrogation tactics — basically, torture. After the reviewing the documents, Reuters reported that torture tactics rarely, if ever, actually yielded intelligence of any sort. Senator Feinstein — chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee — had this to say at the time of the vote:
“The report uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight. I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine ‘black sites’ and the use of so-called ‘enhanced-interrogation techniques’ were terrible mistakes. The majority of the Committee agrees.”
In response, the Central Intelligence Agency took it upon itself to conduct a review of the review, and according to the Washington Post, summarily rejected the Senate’s findings. CIA director John Brennan is set to present his agency’s findings to Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), during a closed meeting today. The core disagreement being whether the torture techniques used by the agency post 9/11 were effective or not:
Dan Drezner politely recommends America’s foreign policy commentators relax:
I suggest a community-wide vacation because, right now, a lot of them are writing a lot of nonsense. The combination of perceived U.S. inaction on Syria and Snowden is leading to a lot of silly talk about how Russia is back and China is back and the U.S. can’t do anything anymore and everything is going to hell in a handbasket.
I don’t mean to go on a rant here, but this is just so much bulls**t.
OK, it’s not all that. Advocates of humanitarian intervention are justifiably upset about inaction on Syria — and they should be even more upset if the administration is actually doing what I think they’re doing in Syria.
That said, there’s not much that’s new in these laments. China and Russia are opposing U.S. interests? Well, blow me down!! I haven’t seen that kind of activity since… since… every year for the last decade. There’s nothing new here.
He has a point. US/China/Russia relations have been tenuous for decades now and it’s likely to continue now until the end of time. The Middle East has been a pit of despair and conflict for a half-century (thanks in large part to American/Russian imperialism and interventionist policies), and now with Syria descending into a sectarian strife that will likely become a regional conflict, there’s no end in sight. And when it comes to Snowden, this quote from Obama tells you something about how he feels about the affair: “No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”
America has the most powerful military force in the history of military forces, and it’s not even close. It’s economy is far and away stronger than that of Europe and despite the handwringing over China’s ascension, still stronger than theirs too.
Basically, America is doing fine.
(Photo by flickr user The U.S. Army)
For whatever reason, the media establishment and prominent members of the GOP have decided that Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken) is someone who deserves to be taken seriously in politics. The New York Times labeled him — along with Rubio — as one of the party’s “rising stars“, and the Washington Post took to calling him “the most interesting politician in the country“.
But when Rand volunteers to go on lauded crackpot Glenn Beck’s show and proceeds to say one of the most ignorant, stupid, insulting, and backwards things ever, people are justified in asking, “why exactly are we meant to take him seriously?”:
“I think this is the conundrum and gets back to what you were saying in the opening — whether or not churches should decide this. But it is difficult because if we have no laws on this people take it to one extension further. Does it have to be humans?
Beastiality. That’s where Rand went.