Exclusive: Republican White House hopefuls attack Obamacare but take money

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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File photo of former Governor of Texas Rick Perry speaking at the Freedom Summit in Des MoinesBy Andy Sullivan WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Several Republican governors likely to run for president have secured hundreds millions of dollars under Obamacare while working to dismantle the healthcare law, according to a Reuters review of federal spending records. Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, all staunch opponents of President Barack Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act, have collectively applied for and won at least $352 million through grant programs set up by the law, federal records show. "Receiving federal grants that existed prior to the ACA is not the same as participating in the core elements of the ACA." The money in question stems from less controversial parts of the law that enhance public health and other nuts-and-bolts programs, rather than the insurance exchanges and expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor that have drawn fierce opposition from Republicans.

Gov. Mike Pence pledges to ‘fix’ controversial law

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence held a press conference to announce he will ask the state’s legislature to change a controversial religious freedom bill signed into law last week. This comes as a reversal for Pence, who on Sunday told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the law would not change. Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga breaks down today’s turnabout with Yahoo News Chief Washington Correspondent Olivier Knox.

Indiana governor vows to ‘fix’ law assailed for curbing gay rights

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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Gov. Mike Pence pledges to "fix" controversial lawIndiana's Republican Governor Mike Pence, responding to national outrage over the state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, said on Tuesday he will "fix" it to make clear businesses cannot use the law to deny services to same-sex couples. Pence, in a news conference, said the law he signed last week had been unfairly "smeared" but he called on the state's Republican-controlled General Assembly to come up with clarifications this week. "I believe it would be appropriate to make it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to deny services to anyone," he told reporters at a testy, nationally televised news conference in the state capital, Indianapolis. Arkansas' Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson may soon face a similar firestorm after his state's Republican-controlled legislature on Tuesday passed a similar bill and sent it to his desk.

Good luck to pro-LGBT Republican reformers, because they’ll need it

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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Tony Perkins

The guy from the hate group gets to explain Republican policy on television. So yes, good luck moderating that.

I see we are playing the “pretend the Republican Party may see reason on an important issue that they have devoted themselves to being assholes about” game again. This time it’s a group of stalwart activists seeking to moderate Republican opposition to marriage equality, and ideally to remain silent on it altogether.

[T]he task that day in Iowa wasn’t to show Republicans how much has changed in a decade or to nudge them toward acceptance of those unions. It was to force them to concede that going neutral on gay marriage is critical to winning the White House. It was, very specifically, to persuade them to take a series of tactical steps that would ultimately see language opposing gay marriage wiped from the Republican Party platform in 2016.

This is all well and good, but the inherent problem faced by these groups is best demonstrated by the nice man from the other side of the fence that our reporter chose to use as the voice of the opposing viewpoint: Tony Perkins, head of the SPLC-designated hate group Family Research Council. He may head a SPLC-designated hate group, after all, but at the end of the campaign he will be able to sport photographs of himself shaking hands with every one of the current crop of Republican presidential candidates. It’s not likely that Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry will get the same privilege.

Perkins seems confident the gay-marriage effort will fail, and he has the ear of enough decision-makers to make his opposition well known. He was a delegate to the 2012 GOP convention, and while Perkins says he’s not sure he will take on that task again in 2016, a devoted socially conservative ally is sure to play a central role in drafting platform language.

And indeed, note that all of the Republican presidential candidates have expressed opposition to marriage equality, even the ones that ostensibly believe in states’ rights and government getting out of people’s lives. Which of these people are we expecting to shift positions, earning the fire-and-brimstone wrath of religious conservatives, in order to please that far tinier percentage of Republicans who want their party to not be such raging assholes on these things?

Yes, we should applaud that groups of younger Republicans are indeed trying to pry a bit of party control from the designated hate group wing of the party. But I can’t help but feel that each and every one of these stories minimizes the extent to which the party is captive to hard-right extremism. Read it yourself, and then ask yourself whether our plucky little band of rational reformers has a snowball’s chance in Republican Hell.

I think it’s far more likely that the party will eventually sunder into two sub-parties than it will go any more gradual moderation, because at this point all the efforts at moderation have resulted only in strengthening the more extremist elements. Reformers seeking a rational immigration policy instead saw that effort dismantled and the xenophobic wing of the party, aka Steve King, cement their own power; Republicans for marriage equality have in these past years been barred outright from presenting their case at CPAC, the top conservative convention, after the nice people from the hate groups told conference organizers that they simply wouldn’t tolerate that—so the odds that they’ll be allowed to help draft the party platform seems a bit thin. The anti-environmentalists have been put in place of environmental policy, the fabulously wealthy have been given the reins of tax policy, and the Republican House spends more time on various schemes to wound or defund or dismantle “Obamacare” than they do on any actual efforts to keep the government functional. If anyone has been looking for a glimmer of potential Republican reformation or moderation in the midst of any of that, God help them.

Arkansas House passes ‘right to discriminate’ bill, advances it to governor

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), a consultant of the National Rifle Association, discusses the findings and recommendations of the National School Shield Program at the National Press Club in Washington April 2, 2013.    REUTERS/Gary Cameron  (UNITED ST

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, being all inclusive.

Maybe the Arkansas legislature has been sequestered for the past several days, or living in a cave, and missed the whole Indiana brouhaha. At any rate, that state’s version of a “religious freedom” bill has passed in the state’s House, and is ready to go to Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Like the Indiana law, the Arkansas legislation allows a person who feels his or her exercise of religion has been “substantially burdened” to cite that argument as a claim or defense in a private lawsuit. The legislation also grants corporations the right to religious freedom. This language is not in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and critics say it could be used to override existing anti-discrimination protections.

“The Arkansas and Indiana bills are virtually identical in terms of language and intent,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign. “They place LGBT people, people of color, religious minorities, women and many more people at risk of discrimination.” […]

In Arkansas, both Walmart and Acxiom, a big data company, have spoken out against the legislation. The Democratic mayor of Little Rock also warned Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Tuesday that “any piece of legislation that is so divisive cannot possibly be good for the state of Arkansas and its people.”

Thus far Hutchinson seems unmoved, either by the warnings from some of his state’s largest employers or from the Indiana trainwreck. He has pledged to sign the bill, saying “Arkansas is open for business, and we recognize and respect the diversity of our culture and economy.”

Benghazi Panel Wants to Talk to Hillary Clinton by May 1

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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GOP says the move is necessary because Clinton declined the committee’s request to turn her personal email server over to a third party.



Blowback against Indiana hate law shows no signs of stopping

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN)

Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN)

It’s getting hard to keep track of everyone who’s come out against Indiana’s license-to-discriminate law, which is probably why Gov. Mike Pence sounded so defensive at his press conference Tuesday morning. But in the spirit of trying to keep track:

  • The raging hippies over at NASCAR, who hold a somewhat famous race in Indiana, aren’t happy:

    “We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance,” said NASCAR, which is based in Florida and North Carolina. “We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.”

  • Subaru, which has an assembly plant in Indiana and had previously said it had a policy against commenting on legislation, decided to comment:

    “We at Subaru do not agree with any legislation that allows for discrimination, or any behavior or act that promotes any form of discrimination,” said Michael McHale, director of corporate communications for Subaru of America. “Furthermore, we do not allow discrimination in our own operations, including our operations in the state of Indiana. We will certainly continue to take the issue of non-discrimination into consideration as part of our decision-making processes.”

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned nonessential state-funded travel from New York to Indiana, joining the governors of Connecticut and Washington in such bans.
  • Comedian and Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman will do a scheduled show in Indianapolis on Wednesday, but he’s donating the proceeds to the Human Rights Campaign—and he’s cancelling a show scheduled for this summer.
  • USC athletic director Pat Haden:
    I am the proud father of a gay son. In his honor, I will not be attending the CFP committee meeting in Indy this week. #EmbraceDiversity
    @ADHadenUSC

That’s in addition to the long list of other companies and organizations that have expressed opposition. Meanwhile, AFSCME and Salesforce have canceled conferences scheduled to be held in Indiana, Wilco has canceled a concert, and Angie’s List has halted plans for an expansion. The Indiana blowback is also creating pressure against similar bills in other states. In Arkansas, the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying that:

While we believe that HB 1228 seeks to protect the religious freedoms of all Arkansans, it can be interpreted to provide religious protection for Arkansans who choose to discriminate against other Arkansans. This is bad for business and bad for Arkansas. Unless and until this issue is clarified by amendment in HB 1228, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce is against the bill.

And North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says he won’t sign his state’s version of the law.

On the other hand, the Republican presidential candidates are standing solidly behind Mike Pence and the cause of discrimination. So Pence has that going for him, as will Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson should he go where Pence has gone before him.

Congress, Obama head for Iran showdown, regardless of talks outcome

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republicans will push ahead with legislation reflecting their deep mistrust of a nuclear deal with Iran whatever the outcome of talks between Tehran and major powers in Switzerland, setting up further confrontation with President Barack Obama. If that deadline is missed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said lawmakers would vote on a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran if it does not come to a final agreement by the scheduled date of June 30. The aim would be to increase pressure on Iran to compromise in the last months of the talks.

Harry Reid unloads on the 2016 Republican crowd

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gestures as he addresses reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Harry Reid is going to make the most of his last 22 months in politics by having some fun, starting with the 2016 GOP hopefuls, including maybe just a little bit of damning by his own praise.

“I like that guy. He is so nice,” Reid said of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). […]

As for Sen. Ted Cruz, he said he and the Texas Republican “disagree on virtually everything. But on a personal basis, he’s been very nice to me. I don’t think he stands much of a chance, but I admire his tenacity for thinking he does.” […]

Although Reid would not say whether he thinks Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) would make a good president, he was very vocal about his dislike for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

“I think he doesn’t know who he is,” Reid said. “Of all the candidates we’ve mentioned, I hope he loses.”

That might be the most charitable reading of Ted Cruz’s delusions of grandeur he’ll ever get. Nice job, Harry. And that jab at Bush? Reid is definitely thinking about what he can do in 2016. Consider this part of the interview, when CNN’s Dana Bash asks him whether he regrets the allegations he made about Mitt Romney’s failure to pay income taxes.

Without hesitation, “I don’t regret that at all.” When Bash followed up about some calling it “McCarthyite”, he gave a shrug with a little smirk.

Followed by: “Romney didn’t win did he.”

Harry Reid unleashed for 2016 is going to be a lot of fun.

Midday open thread: Frackers’ secret recipes, no end in sight in Afghanistan, sewage gauges obesity

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-03-2015-05-2008

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  • Today’s comic by Jen Sorensen is The submerged state:
    Cartoon by Jen Sorensen -- The submerged state
  • Former State Dept. official Matthew Hoh says staying in Afghanistan terrible idea:

    HOH: The violence has not abated and actually, since we escalated the war in 2009, the violence has steadily ratcheted up. Every year there’s been an increase in civilian casualties. Every year with an increase in Afghan security forces who are killed.

    The answer lies in stop intervening. Stop meddling. Stop trying to pick winners and losers in these conflicts, and start trying to enable and assist in political reconciliation and negotiations. When we come in and we take one side in a conflict, that only makes the other side fight harder, and it gives no incentive to the side who we’re taking to negotiate.

  • Hindsight analysis of Reagan’s words looked for signs of dementia:

    Visar Berisha and Julie Liss, professors of speech and hearing science at [Arizona State University], compared transcripts of all 46 news conferences that Mr. Reagan held to the 101 sessions President George H. W. Bush held in his term.

    The researchers assessed changes in the presidents’ speech patterns with a new algorithm based on a technique used by others to analyze changes in writing by novelists.

    In an interview, Dr. Berisha said he did not set out to study Mr. Reagan, but found he was the only individual with progressive dementia for whom long-term transcript information is publicly available.

  • These Daily Kos community posts were the most shared on Facebook March 30:

    What Do Conservatives Want When They Say “I Want My Country Back?”, by Steven D

    Activists ‘Shut Down’ Nestlé Water Bottling Plant in Sacramento, by Dan Bacher

    Boycott these 5 common products made in Indiana, by NotAhab

  • Sewage gauges cities’ obesity levels:

    If someone were to ask you what distinguishes skinny cities with from fat ones, you might think of the prevalence of fast food joints, the average length of automobile commutes, or the relative abundance of parks and jogging trails. But there’s also another, more underground factor: their sewage.

    Researchers with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee collected raw sewage samples from the intakes of municipal wastewater treatment plants in 71 cities around the country. Their results, published last month in mBio, the American Society for Microbiology’s open-access journal, showed that the microbial content of that sewage predicted each city’s relative obesity with 81 to 89 percent accuracy.

  • Foxaganda blames Obama for idiots who took selfies in front of NYC fire.
  • ‘Pong’ Meets ‘Space Invaders’ Meets ‘Pacman’ and It Actually Works:

    It’s as chaotic as it sounds, but a lot of fun, and if you’ve played any of these classic games previously, old muscle memory will definitely help you.

  • Frackers keep 10% of chemicals secret, says EPA:

    Oil and gas companies refuse to disclose 10 percent of the hundreds of chemicals they use during hydraulic fracturing, according to a new analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency. The revelation comes in a major installment of the EPA’s study of the potential risks of fracking on drinking water.

    The agency’s assessment of more than 39,000 reports from the website FracFocus about the composition of fracking fluid also showed that “at least one chemical was identified as confidential business information in 70 percent of the disclosures analyzed,” wrote Tom Burke, EPA’s science adviser, in an agency blog.

  • On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, IN’s ridiculous “religious freedom” bill. Armando discusses that, plus Iran & TPP. Cruz & his Obamacare. Gop candidates who’ve destroyed their electronic records. Blood from a turnip: extortionate rates on prison phone calls, payday loans.