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Rand Paul’s big “selling point” is dead: How Clinton schooled him on criminal justice reform

In aftermath of Garner tragedy, Clinton indicted police abuse and mass incarceration. Paul? He railed against taxes


I got a lot of pushback, mainly from Rand Paul fanboys, to my suggestion that the Kentucky senator’s blaming Eric Garner’s death on cigarette taxes was tin-eared, to say the least. The complaints, on Twitter and (surprisingly) in a lot of personal email, took two forms: 1) I’m a nanny state liberal who doesn’t care about the wanton abuse of state power to not only impose taxes but then aggressively police their enforcement. And 2) I’m terrified that Rand Paul can beat Hillary Clinton, especially because he’s better than she is when it comes to issues of our expanding police state.

On the first point: I support high cigarette taxes, because cigarettes kill people and impose vast costs on society. I regret that those taxes fall heavily on the poor, and I support community programs to help people stop smoking and improve their health. But on the issue of enforcement, cigarette taxes are just one of many, many “laws” that are over-enforced or arbitrarily enforced in poor communities, in order to give the police greater control over the population.

From aggressive traffic stops to littering citations to harsher penalties for crack cocaine than powder, and higher rates of marijuana busts, we know that comparatively small infractions are policed heavily in low-income black communities, to keep people ensnared with the cops and to keep them controlled. Eric Garner didn’t die because the police were dispassionately trying to enforce a nanny-state law taxing cigarettes, but because cops routinely find ways to harass low-income black men, and then escalate the situation, often with violence.

On the second point, that I’m “afraid” of Rand Paul because he’s a threat to Hillary Clinton, well, that’s even sillier. First, I’ve said all I have to say about Hillary Clinton here, in the Nation. I respect her, I may support her in the Democratic primary, but I may not, depending on who’s running. However, I think she’s much better than any Republican eyeing the race, and that includes Paul – including on criminal justice issues.


Anti-'Libtard' Ex-Police Chief: I Was Undercover For The Feds The Whole Time


An ex-police chief who had his 15 minutes of fame last year in a series of profane YouTube videos is clawing his way back to the spotlight with some bizarre claims.

Mark Kessler was fired from his post as the police chief of Gilberton, Pa. in September 2013. Tensions had risen between Kessler and the borough council after videos that showed him firing machine guns at an target he called "Nancy Pelosi" and ranting against "libtards" went viral -- but now he's saying that he made the videos with a federal agency as a tool to root out anti-government extremists.

In a Tuesday interview with Fox News radio host Alan Colmes, Kessler said he did not actually believe the views he expressed in the videos and was simply acting as a "magnet" for sovereign citizens and the like.

His claims, however, were vague and offered without proof.


They got it all wrong: New data shows how Dems can win back America

Turns out conservatives are getting crushed in family values debates. Here's 5 other findings the left should know


To everything there is a season and now is the time for election dissection. How do we reconcile an electorate that raised the minimum wage everywhere possible and opted for Republicans who profess not to believe in it? And what do we make of the – even for America – pathetically low turnout?

One-third of Americans struggle to make ends meet. That’s 106 million people who often don’t know how they’ll pay rent, get childcare or retire. Even in our fractious America, that’s a large group with shared interests – decent wages, reliable work hours, affordable child and health care, and the means to enable a livable last couple of decades.

Never mind the 99 percent, why don’t we see the bottom 33 percent rising up? They’re the ones with the sharpest ax to grind with our current economic policies. We know there are major structural and economic impediments to them organizing and voting, but are there other reasons they’re sitting on the political sidelines?

We recently completed an investigation to understand why and what to do about it. We wanted to know if there are new and better ways to describe poverty, its origins and fixes that could compel people to challenge the economic status quo. We sought unfiltered language from the people most affected and focused on frames that move those people to action rather than merely meeting the mushy middle where they are.


Judge allows libel lawsuit against Glenn Beck to proceed

Source: Salon

The suit stems from Beck's false accusations that a Saudi student funded the Boston Marathon bombing


A federal judge on Tuesday denied Glenn Beck’s request to dismiss a libel lawsuit that accuses the conservative talking head of defaming a Saudi man Beck falsely accused of funding the Boston Marathon bombing last year.

As Josh Gerstein explains, Beck sought to have the lawsuit tossed out on the grounds that Abdulrahman Alharbi, the man who brought the suit, was a public figure because of his presence near the finish line of the marathon, where two bombs exploded, killing three people. As a public figure, Alharbi would have had to clear a difficult hurdle in order for the lawsuit to proceed, proving that Beck intentionally lied or acted with malice in making the accusations.

But in ruling that the lawsuit could move forward, U.S. District Judge Patti Saris rejected the argument that the mere act of attending the event made Alharbi a public figure.

“Choosing to attend a sporting event as one of thousands of spectators is not the kind of conduct that a reasonable person would expect to result in publicity,” she wrote. “Quite to the contrary, a spectator at an event like the Boston Marathon would reasonably expect to disappear into the throngs of others, never attracting notice by the press. Because he did not ‘assume the risk of publicity,’ Alharbi does not meet the definition of an involuntary public figure.” Therefore, Sari concluded, Alharbi is a private figure who does not need to prove “actual malice” on Beck’s part.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2014/12/02/judge_allows_libel_lawsuit_against_glenn_beck_to_proceed/

Ferguson officer who shot Michael Brown resigns

Source: Washington Post

The white police officer who killed Michael Brown has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, nearly four months after the confrontation that fueled protests in the St. Louis suburb and across the nation, the Associated Press reports.

Darren Wilson has been on administrative leave since the Aug. 9 shooting. His resignation was announced Saturday by one of his attorneys, Neil Bruntrager. Bruntrager says the resignation is effective immediately.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ferguson-officer-who-shot-michael-brown-resigns/2014/11/29/807b8064-7820-11e4-8893-97bf0c02cc5f_story.html?wpisrc=al_national

GOP Intel Report Debunks Its Own Party's Nutty Benghazi Theories


By KEN DILANIAN Published NOVEMBER 21, 2014, 5:40 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.

The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/republican-benghazi-investigation-debunks-conspiracy-theories-clears-obama-hillary

Obama's plan of action on immigration may derail Republican agenda


Rising Republican hostility toward President Obama's impending immigration plan is as intense as has ever existed between the White House and the GOP.

House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio says the president's executive action — expected to be announced Thursday — will "poison the well" for cooperation with the upcoming Republican-controlled Congress. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky compared it to "waving a red flag in front of a bull." Tea party conservatives have renewed talk of censuring or impeaching the president.

But the strong reaction by Republican leaders has less to do with opposition to the nuts and bolts of the president's immigration policy and more to do with fear and anger that the issue will derail the agenda of the new Republican majority before the next Congress even convenes.

Republican leaders who had hoped to focus on corporate tax reform, fast-track trade pacts, repealing the president's healthcare law and loosening environmental restrictions on coal are instead being dragged into an immigration skirmish that they've tried studiously to avoid for most of the last year.

That's largely because the question of how to handle the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. bitterly divides Republicans, and the party has been unable to agree on an alternative to the president's plan.


Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy to Democrats: Grow a Pair

David Freedlander

In his first term, Dan Malloy enacted a hugely ambitious progressive agenda. This fall, he ran on that record—and won. Now he’s got some advice for his dejected fellow Democrats.

When Dan Malloy was elected governor of Connecticut in 2010, he was the first Democrat to win an open race in the Nutmeg State since 1980. It would have been reasonable to expect, then, something of a cautious approach, one wary of shifting political winds in an otherwise reliably blue state.

Instead, Malloy enacted one of the most ambitiously liberal agendas of any governor in the nation, from higher taxes on the wealthy to a higher minimum wage, guaranteed paid sick leave for workers, protections for gays and immigrants, strict new gun-control laws, looser marijuana-possession laws, allowing the unionization of daycare workers, and outlawing the death penalty.

The result? A 25,000-vote victory out of more than a million cast in Malloy’s reelection bid against Tom Foley.

Now, having barely survived in a race that was not conceded, Malloy has some advice for his fellow Democrats. But first he wants to clear up a few things.



NOM CRATERS: Funding for Anti-LGBT National Organization For Marriage Drops by Over 50%

November 19, 2014 by Stephen Peters

A white-hot spotlight focused on the issue of same-sex marriage over the last few years hasn’t translated into financial success for an organization whose self-proclaimed sole purpose is to “protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.” In a time when virtually every nightly newscast, political debate, even television series delves into discussions about marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, the beleaguered National Organization for Marriage (NOM) can’t seem to raise enough money to cover its expenses. According to analysis of the organization’s 2013 tax filings done by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), NOM raised $5.1 million in 2013, dropping by over 50% since 2012. Just 2 donors accounted for more than half of the organization’s funding – further evidence that everyday Americans have little interest in furthering NOM’s extremist agenda. In addition, the NOM Education Fund also dropped by nearly $3.5 million in funding -- a drop of almost 70% since the previous year. NOM ended the year more than $2.5 million in debt.

“NOM should start figuring out that people aren’t willing to give their hard-earned money to an extremist agenda that's going nowhere,” said Fred Sainz, HRC Vice President of Communications. “If I were Brian Brown, I’d be worried that my two or three mega-donors are soon going to come to terms with the fact that they’d largely be better off flushing money down the toilet. Americans certainly aren’t buying what NOM is selling, and it’s only a matter of time before the trickle of money keeping the lights on at NOM HQ dries up.”

NOM made their 2013 990s available this morning after repeatedly refusing to make them public following their November 17 deadline – a direct violation of federal law. HRC first made an in-person request for the public financial documents on Monday morning and again Tuesday – both times, NOM was unable to produce the documents. Federal law requires organizations to publicly release their 990s the same day an in-person request is made. As a result, HRC filed a complaint with the IRS in order to compel NOM to abide by the law.

A virtually unending series of losses is at the heart of NOM’s financial woes. Since enduring a staggering defeat on Election Day 2012 when voters at the ballot enacted marriage equality in three states and defeated a discriminatory marriage ban in another, the defeats just keep on coming. Over the last year, nearly three-dozen federal court rulings – from judges appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents – have struck down state bans on marriage equality, while only two federal courts have upheld the bans. In the year since NOM released its last annual financial report, the number of states where same-sex couples can legally marry has jumped from fifteen to thirty-three. Today, sixty-two percent of Americans live in states with marriage equality. And the Supreme Court of the United States has allowed federal court rulings granting marriage rights to same-sex couples to become the law of the land in eleven states over the last two years: California, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana, Virginia and Pennsylvania.


House authorizes building of Keystone pipeline

Source: Washington Post

The House easily passed a measure Friday authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, sending it on to the Senate where the issue is expected to come up for a vote on Tuesday.

Lawmakers voted 252 to 161 to approve the project. Thirty-one Democrats, including a handful who lost reelection last week, joined with all but one Republican who voted for the bill. Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), a renegade Republican who frequently bucks his party and top leaders, voted present.

An identical measure is set for debate and a vote Tuesday in the Senate, where Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) forced leaders to permit an up-or-down vote in hopes of settling a long-simmering concern for her state and to help buttress her reelection.

Landrieu faces Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who was the lead sponsor on Friday's House bill, in a Dec. 6 runoff race for her Senate seat.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/11/14/house-passes-keystone-xl-construction-bill/?wpisrc=al_comboPN_p
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