Wednesday, September 30, 2015

No Shutdown

WASHINGTON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress, ending weeks of infighting, gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill funding the government through Dec. 11 and averting agency shutdowns that would have otherwise begun on Thursday with the start of a new fiscal year.
By a vote of 277-151, the House approved the stopgap spending bill and will now send it to President Barack Obama for signing into law before a midnight deadline.
House Speaker John Boehner, who is resigning on Oct. 30, needed significant support from Democrats to pass the bill as a majority of his fellow Republicans voted against the measure. (Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by Sandra Maler)

New Perspective On The Iran Deal

I found this opinion piece to be very interesting, it is a new angle on the Iran nuclear deal:

teamsters union endorsement


Phil McCarten / Reuters

by PATRICK HOWLEY29 Sep 2015977

The Teamsters union is withholding an endorsement for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, further eroding Clinton’s support from Big Labor.

The Teamsters union’s general executive board voted unanimously Tuesday, 26-0, to hold off on endorsing Clinton at its meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. Fox News reports that the vote was meant as “an intentional snub” of Clinton for backing away from her previous support for the job-creating Keystone pipeline.

The union is holding off until union-friendly Vice President Joe Biden makes a decision about whether or not to run for president.

The union also seeks a “sit down” meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose recent tax reform proposal drastically lowers the corporate and individual tax rates for the middle class in an effort to spur job growth, savings, and investment.

Clinton’s relationship with Big Labor has been rocky.

Last month, the National Nurses Union endorsed Democratic challenger 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)


 over Clinton.

AFL-CIO head Richard Trumpka threatened to sit out the 2016 election until Clinton backed away from her support of President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which unions strongly opposed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cruz Sternly Rebuked By His Own Party

He has vowed to try again today.

PP Paid Thugs


on September 25, 2015 in Davenport, Iowa." style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; display: block; width: 340px;">

by ALEX SWOYER28 Sep 2015Washington, DC6,571

Planned Parenthood paid some of its supporters who threw condoms at GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and at her supporters during an Iowa Hawkeye tailgate on Saturday.

The payments were briefly mentioned in a story by the New York Times. “On Saturday, women wearing pink, some of whom were paid by Planned Parenthood, protested Mrs. Fiorina at a campaign appearance in Iowa, throwing condoms and chanting, ‘Women are watching, and we vote,'” reported theNew York Times.

[UPDATE: The Times has since changed the language of this sentence without notification. It now reads: “some of whom were affiliated with Planned Parenthood.”]

Breitbart News previously noted:

Planned Parenthood supporters and the mainstream media have challenged Fiorina’s statements at the second GOP presidential primary debate about an undercover video created by the Center for Medical Progress that showed a fully-formed fetus, heart beating and legs kicking, being kept alive in order for Planned Parenthood officials to harvest the brain.

Abortions comprise roughly three precent of medical services provided each year by Planned Parenthood. The group completed 327,653 abortions during its 2013-2014 financial year. Planned Parenthood receives roughly $542 million dollars from tax-payers each year.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Davis-Bacon Act... Jim Crow of the North.

One of Scott Walkers union busting ideas was to scrap the Davis-Bacon Act.  What do you union supporters think? 

The ugliest and most disturbing events in American history have usually been linked with state-sponsored or sanctioned racism: Incidents of police brutality, symbolized by the Rodney King trials. Slavery. The Dred Scott decision. The post-Civil War Jim Crow laws. School segregation.

Today, however, most people like to believe that their government fairly represents the interests of everyone, regardless of race. Unfortunately, the states and the federal government still discriminate against blacks, but this state-sponsored racism has taken on more subtle forms. Thus while great strides have been made since the Jim Crow era, some relics remain. One of them is the Davis-Bacon Act.

Davis-Bacon, passed in 1931, requires private contractors to pay “prevailing wages” to employees on all construction projects receiving more than $2,000 in federal funding. The Secretary of Labor is charged with conducting surveys of a region’s wages and setting rates for up to 100 various classifications of workers. Most often, the “prevailing wage” corresponds to the union wage, especially in urban areas, where union membership tends to be higher. The Davis-Bacon Act covers approximately 20 percent of all construction projects in the United States and affects more than 25 percent of all construction workers in the nation at any given time.

The Act was passed in order to prevent non-unionized black and immigrant laborers from competing with unionized white workers. The discriminatory effects continue, as even today minorities tend to be vastly under-represented in highly unionized skilled trades, and over- represented in the pool of unskilled workers.

Davis-Bacon restricts the economic opportunities of low-income individuals in a number of ways. Minority contracting firms are often small and non-unionized, and cannot afford to pay the “prevailing wage.” The Act also requires contractors to pay unskilled laborers the prevailing wage for any job they perform, essentially forcing contractors to hire skilled tradesmen, selecting workers from a pool dominated by whites.

Thus, the Davis-Bacon Act constitutes a formidable barrier to entry into the construction industry for unskilled or low-skilled workers. This is especially harmful to minorities because work in the construction industry pays extraordinarily well compared to that for other entry-level positions, and could otherwise provide plentiful opportunities for low-income individuals to enter the economic mainstream.

In November 1993, the Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C., based public-interest law firm, filed suit challenging Davis-Bacon constitutionality, as part of the Institute’s litigation program to help restore judicial protection of “economic liberty” the basic right to pursue a business or profession free from arbitrary government regulation.

The History of the Davis-Bacon Act

Prior to the enactment of the Davis-Bacon Act, the construction industry afforded tremendous opportunities to blacks, especially in the South. In at least six southern cities, more than 80 percent of unskilled construction workers were black. Blacks also represented a disproportionate number of unskilled construction workers in the North, and constituted a sizable portion of the skilled labor force in both parts of the country.

This was so despite the fact that most of the major construction unions excluded blacks, and that blacks faced widespread discrimination in occupational licensing and vocational training. These unions felt seriously threatened by competition from blacks, and favored any attempt to restrict it.[1]

The co-author of the Act, Representative Robert Bacon, represented Long Island. Bacon was a racist who was concerned lest immigration upset the nation’s “racial status quo.” In 1927, he introduced H.R. 17069, “A Bill to Require Contractors and Subcontractors Engaged on Public Works of the United States to Comply With State Laws Relating to Hours of Labor and Wages of Employees on State Public Works.” This action was a response to the building of a Veterans’ Bureau Hospital in Bacon’s district by an Alabama contractor which employed only black laborers.

Representative William Upshaw, understanding the racial implications of Bacon’s proposal, stated: “You will not think that a southern man is more than human if he smiles over the fact of your reaction to that real problem you are confronted with in any community with a superabundance or large aggregation of negro labor.”[2] Over the next four years, Bacon submitted 13 more bills to regulate labor on federal public works contracts. Finally, the bill submitted by Bacon and Senator James Davis was passed in 1931, at the height of the depression, with the support of the American Federation of Labor. The Act required that contractors working on federally funded projects over $5,000 pay their employees the “prevailing wage.” The law was amended in 1935, reducing the minimum to $2,000 and delegating the power of determining the “prevailing wage” to the Department of Labor. The Department’s regulations governing the determination of wages, remained basically unchanged for five decades and equated the prevailing wage with the union wage in any area that was at least 30 percent unionized. In practice, the “prevailing wage” was almost universally determined to be the same as the union wage.

The debate over Bacon’s bills betrayed the racial animus that motivated passage of the law. Representative John Cochran stated, “I have received numerous complaints in recent months about southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South.”[3] Representative Clayton Algood similarly complained, “That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.”[4] Other derogatory comments were made about the use of “cheap labor,” “cheap, imported labor,” “transient labor,” and “unattached migratory workmen.”[5] While supporters of the Act intended to disadvantage immigrant workers of all races, they were particularly concerned with inhibiting black employment.

Supporters of Davis-Bacon were also full of anti-capitalist rhetoric. Representative McCormack said of Davis-Bacon, “It will force the contractor who heretofore has used cheap, imported labor to submit bids based upon the ‘prevailing wage scale’ to those employed. It compels the unfair competitor to enter into the field of fair competition.”[6] This rhetoric of “fairness” dominates much of the contemporary debate over Davis-Bacon, as well.

Two important modifications have recently been made in the way that the Davis-Bacon Act is enforced. In 1982, the Department of Labor altered the basis for determining the prevailing wage, deciding to equate the union wage with the “prevailing wage” only in places where the construction industry was 50 percent unionized. This change has had little effect on minority-owned firms’ ability to secure contracts because union membership tends to be much higher in urban areas, where large minority populations reside.

The Department of Labor has also attempted to alter its regulations to allow contractors to hire a limited number of unskilled “helpers” to work on Davis-Bacon projects for less than the prevailing wage. This change, which was to go into effect on February 4, 1991, would help to diminish some of the discriminatory effects of the Act, but Congress has so far prevented the Department from enforcing it. Moreover, labor unions are now pressuring Congress and the Clinton Administration to repeal the changes. Similarly, while President Bush suspended the Act in South Florida, coastal Louisiana, and Hawaii in October of 1992 following Hurricanes An drew and Iniki, President Clinton reversed course upon entering office.

Last year Senator Hank Brown (R-Col.) sponsored legislation to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. A similar bill was introduced in the House by Representative Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). Both proposals have attracted congressional co-sponsors, but, not surprisingly, have failed to attain majority support.

Effects of the Davis-Bacon Act

The Davis-Bacon Act imposes tremendous economic and social costs—at least $1 billion in extra federal construction costs and $100 million in administrative expenses each year. Industry compliance costs total nearly $190 million per year. Repeal of the Act would also create an estimated 31,000 new construction jobs, most of which would go to members of minority groups.

Davis-Bacon’s impact on the ability of minorities to find work in the construction industry has been particularly devastating. The Department of Labor’s initial set of regulations did not recognize categories of unskilled workers except for union apprentices. As a result, contractors had to pay an unskilled worker who was not part of a union apprenticeship program as much as a skilled laborer, which almost completely excluded blacks from working on Davis-Bacon projects.[7] This effectively foreclosed the only means by which unskilled blacks could learn the necessary skills to become skilled workers.

As a result, while black and white unemployment rates were similar prior to passage of the Davis-Bacon Act, they began to diverge afterwards. This problem persists today. In the first quarter of 1992, the black unemployment rate was 14.2 percent, even though the overall national rate was only 7.9 percent.

The racial difference in unemployment rates is especially pronounced in the construction industry. According to a recent study by the National Urban League, in the fourth quarter of 1992, 26.8 percent of all blacks involved in the construction industry were jobless compared to only 12.6 percent of white construction workers.[8]

Despite recent racial progress, Davis-Bacon continues to inhibit minority economic progress in several ways. For instance, union apprenticeship programs, even if they no longer discriminate, still strictly limit the number of enrollees and impose arbitrary educational requirements on potential applicants, thereby excluding the most disadvantaged workers.[9]

Moreover, unskilled workers must be paid the same wage as a skilled worker, forcing the contractor to pay laborers considerably more than the market value of their work. For example, in Philadelphia, electricians working on projects covered by the Davis-Bacon Act must be paid $37.97 per hour in wages and fringe benefits. The average wage of electricians working for private contractors on non-Davis-Bacon projects is $15.76 per hour, with some laborers working for as little as $10.50 per hour.

Thus, even minority, open-shop contractors have no incentive to hire unskilled workers. Ralph C. Thomas, former executive director of the National Association of Minority Contractors, stated that a minority contractor who acquires a Davis-Bacon contract has “no choice but to hire skilled tradesmen, the majority of which are of the majority.” As a result, Thomas said, “Davis-Bacon closes the door in such activity in an industry most capable of employing the largest numbers of minorities.”[10]

The paperwork a contractor must fill out pursuant to Davis-Bacon contracts also discriminates against small, minority-owned firms. Many do not have personnel with the necessary expertise to complete the myriad forms and reports required.

As a result of all these factors, the Davis-Bacon Act prevents rural and inner-city laborers and contractors from working on projects in their own communities. Ironically this is one problem Davis-Bacon was intended to prevent. Bacon said during debate over the Act, “Members of Congress have been flooded with protests from all over the country that certain Federal con tractors on current jobs are bringing into local communities outside labor,” and “that the government is in league with contract practices that make it possible to further demoralize local labor conditions.”[11]

Such a claim could easily be made today by inner-city and rural contractors. Yale Brozen, an economist at the University of Chicago, found that the “prevailing wage” for the Appalachian region of western Pennsylvania is set at the same level as that of Pittsburgh, despite the fact that the wages normally paid by the rural contractors are only half the levels of union contractors in Pittsburgh. The same is true of inner cities, where small, minority-owned, open-shop firms are forced to pay union wages when working on Davis-Bacon projects, because of the high concentration of unionized workers in other parts of the city.

As a result, rural and inner-city contractors are deterred from seeking Davis-Bacon contracts because they cannot afford to pay the higher wages to their employees and larger and more highly unionized firms are encouraged to seek out such contracts. The result makes it clear that the government is in fact “in league with contract practices” that “demoralize local labor conditions,” only now at the expense of minorities rather than whites.

The results of this practice were clearly demonstrated in Los Angeles. In the parts of the city where the riots occurred, the rate of unemployment for black workers is 27.6 percent. Despite an ample supply of local labor to help rebuild the city, Davis-Bacon has and continues to freeze out local unskilled minority workers from those available jobs. In contrast is the situation in South Florida and coastal Louisiana, where the suspension of Davis-Bacon created 5,000 to 11,000 jobs.

In addition to this statistical evidence, individuals involved in the construction and renovation of low-cost public housing have testified as to the disastrous effects of the Act. When Ralph L. Jones, president of a company that manages housing projects for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, gained control of a pair of dilapidated 200-unit buildings in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he intended to hire many of the building’s unemployed residents to help restore the property. But the Davis-Bacon Act required him to pay everyone working on the project union wages, forcing him to hire only skilled laborers, very few of whom were minorities.

Mary Nelson, director of Bethel New Life, Inc., a social service organization located in Chicago, has found that Davis-Bacon adds up to 25 percent to her total costs and frequently prevents her from hiring unskilled, low-income workers to work on projects renovating the public housing that they themselves live in. Elzie Higgin-bottom, builder of low-income housing in Chicago’s South Side, has had similar problems. Davis-Bacon requires him to pay carpenters (defined by the Act as someone who hammers in a nail) $23 per hour. As a result, he complained, “I’ve got to start out a guy at $16 per hour to find out if he knows how to dig a hole. I can’t do that.”[12]

The constitutional challenge to Davis-Bacon is a cornerstone of the Institute for Justice’s program to restore economic liberty as a fundamental civil right. The Institute is challenging Davis-Bacon on the grounds that it is racially discriminatory, since it was passed to discriminate against blacks and immigrants, and as a result, violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment. The courts need only look to the legislative and administrative history of the law to determine that racial discrimination was among its purposes. The courts could also void the Davis-Bacon Act for impinging on the right of individuals to pursue employment opportunities, thereby violating the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause. The Institute for Justice has brought together a unique coalition of plaintiffs to challenge the law. Complainants range from individual minority contractors, who have either lost opportunities to successfully acquire government contracts or who have gone out of business altogether because of the application of Davis-Bacon, to resident-management corporations who because of the law have been unsuccessful in their attempts to involve public-housing residents in rebuilding programs at their own developments.

Borne of racial animus, the Davis-Bacon Act has undermined the efforts of economic outsiders to find employment in the construction industry for more than six de-cades. Given the influence of organized labor over Congress and the extent to which the Clinton administration’s support of NAFTA alienated this key constituency, it is highly unlikely that either branch will risk further undermining union support by pursuing reform or repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act. Thus, the only avenue that remains open is the judiciary. The courts should bury this relic of the Jim Crow era.

This is exactly the kinds of institutionalized policy that is supported by people all over this country. It makes a mockery of the whites who have a hissyfit over the confederate flag...  a diversion from their own sins... a diversion from placing the blame for racial tensions of this country at the feet of a federal government that refuses to uphold the real law of the land and not its subverted, precedence created perversions such as this.

This is also the kinds of law that creates distortions in the free market, making determining a 'living wage' a generally impossible and job destroying exercise.

Boehner Out

House Speaker Boehner to resign from Congress at end of October

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who has repeatedly been challenged by the conservative wing of his Republican Party, told members on Friday that he will resign from the House at the end of October.
An aide to Boehner, who holds the top job in the House, said the Ohio lawmaker will step down from the speakership and his seat in Congress effective on Oct. 30.
U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the No. 2 Republican in the House, is expected to be the top contender to replace Boehner as speaker, Republican Representative Peter King told reporters.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

When is poverty really poverty.

From the census bureau:

Living Conditions of the Poor in America

Consumption by Poor Families. Since the Census Bureau dramatically undercounts the actual incomes of the poor, it should be no surprise to find that the U.S. Department of Labor routinely reports that poor families spend $2.40 for every $1.00 of their reported income. If public housing benefits are added to the tally, the ratio of consumption to income rises to $2.60 for every $1.00. In other words, the “income” figures that the Census Bureau uses to calculate poverty dramatically undercount the economic resources available to lower-income households.
Amenities. Because the official Census poverty report undercounts welfare income, it fails to provide meaningful information about the actual living conditions of less affluent Americans. The government’s own data show that the actual living conditions of the more than 45 million people deemed “poor” by the Census Bureau differ greatly from popular conceptions of poverty. Consider these facts taken from various government reports:
  • Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, at the beginning of the War on Poverty, only about 12 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Nearly three-quarters have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television.
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and a quarter have two or more.
  • Half have a personal computer; one in seven has two or more computers.
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
  • Forty-three percent have Internet access.
  • Forty percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
  • A quarter have a digital video recorder system such as a TIVO.
  • Ninety-two percent of poor households have a microwave.
For decades, the living conditions of the poor have steadily improved. Consumer items that were luxuries or significant purchases for the middle class a few decades ago have become commonplace in poor households. In part, this is caused by a normal downward price trend following the introduction of a new product. Initially, new products tend to be expensive and available only to the affluent. Over time, prices fall sharply, and the product becomes widely prevalent throughout the population, including poor households. This is a general sign of desirable economic progress.

Overall, 100 million individuals—nearly one in three Americans—received benefits from at least one of these programs. Federal and state governments spent $943 billion in 2013 on these programs at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient.
Today, government spends 16 times more, adjusting for inflation, on means-tested welfare or anti-poverty programs than it did when the War on Poverty started. But as welfare spending soared, the decline in poverty came to a grinding halt. As Chart 2 shows, the more the government spent, the less progress against poverty was made.
How can this paradox be explained? How can government spend $9,000 per recipient and have no apparent impact on poverty?

Time to Dismantle the UN Human Rights Council

  • What makes the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) ignore such rights violations? The answer is simple: most of the member states of the Council are themselves the worst violators of rights of their own citizens, and they are trying to save each other through a conspiracy of corruption.
  • When Hamas was raining rockets down on Israel, most members of the UNHRC seemed unconcerned that Jerusalem might have had moral and legal obligations to protect its citizens.
  • The horror is that so many corrupt countries go along with it to protect their own corruption. More sickening is that countries pretending to stand for freedom, such as the United States, fund nearly a quarter of the UN's budget.
  • It is time for those who truly care about human rights to dismantle this show.
Like it or not, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a big flop. It does not care a fig for what it is supposed to do: promote and protect human rights in general, and freedom of association, assembly, expression, belief and religion, sexual preference and women's rights and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities in particular.
The past record of the UNHRC shows it has overlooked rights violations in a large part of the world in general and the Middle East in particular. The UNHRC has notoriously been obsessed with inventing rights violations by Israel, the Middle East's only democracy, where women and minorities -- the most oppressed sections in most of the nations in the world -- enjoy equality in law and practice both. Since March 2006, when the UN General Assembly brought the UNHRC into existence, it has condemned Israel 61 times, compared to just 55 condemnations of all other nations in the world combined.
How many times has the UNHRC condemned states such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, which oppress their own citizens -- women and minorities in particular -- and inspire many states to follow them?
What makes the UNHRC ignore such rights violations? The answer is simple: most of the member states of the Council are themselves the worst violators of the rights of their own citizens, and they are trying to save each other through a conspiracy of corruption.
The mandate of the UNHRC Advisory Committee experts is too restrictive for them to look into the rights abuses of the states they themselves belong to. Experts tend to pass time discussing some vague, high-sounding priorities, initiatives, working methods, procedural efficiency measures and proposals, such as creating a world human rights court for ensuring citizen safety and human rights.
Recently, the UNHRC voted on a resolution that condemned Israel for human rights violations allegedly committed during the 2014 Israeli strikes on Gaza. Forty-one countries voted in favor of the resolution. The United States alone voted against it. India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Macedonia abstained from voting.
The McGowan Davis Commission Report on the Israeli strikes claims that the Israeli military deliberately targeted civilian areas and residential buildings. The UNHRC brought it to a vote and called on Israel and Hamas "to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court" -- another unaccountable, biased and politicized group.
Although the McGowan Davis Report also criticized Hamas for violence against Israeli citizens, its net effect amounted to equating Hamas, a lawless, terrorist actor, with Israel, a democratic state with a sound judicial system.
That approach to life is something that most member states of the UN Human Rights Council have in common with Hamas. Neither group seems to believe in secular democracy or human rights. The Hamas Charter preaches the politics of hatred and violence against Israel, but Hamas does not spare even its own people, whom it used freely during the war last year as cannon-fodder before the eyes of international television crews. Hamas threw many of the more progressive Palestinians off the highest floors of buildings in Gaza when it took over in 2007 and expelled officials of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah. Hamas activities have also included the support of the so-called "Axis of Resistance": Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Jihad.
After Hamas's parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, came to power in Cairo, then Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi blessed Hamas.
In June 2014, senior Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal, Fauzi Barhum, and Mushir al-Masri praised the abduction and murder of the three Jewish teenagers.
When Hamas was raining rockets down on Israel, most members of the UN Human Rights Council seemed unconcerned that Jerusalem might have had moral and legal obligations to protect its citizens by resorting to "Operation Protective Edge," aimed at countering more than 11,000 attacks from Gaza into Israel since Israel totally withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Given the pattern of lawless, unpunished (often rewarded) behavior of many member states just now -- such as Iran, rewarded for violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty by being fast-tracked to building nuclear weapons; Russia, which invaded Ukraine with no push-back; and China, which has been building military land-fill islands throughout the South China Sea while encountering no serious negative response -- why shouldn't the leaders of Hamas employ a practice illegal under the Geneva Convention -- using the civilian population in Gaza as hostages -- to protect themselves, and dub the impending civilian casualties as "Israeli crimes against humanity"?
By contrast, any perceived infraction by Israel of the even most trivial nature is treated as an international catastrophe.
The horror is that so many corrupt countries go along with it to protect their own corruption.
More sickening is that countries pretending to stand for freedom, such as the United States, fund nearly a quarter of the UN's budget.
It is time for those who truly care about human rights to dismantle this show.
Jagdish N. Singh is a senior Indian journalist based in New Delhi, India.

Time for the Human Rights council to just go away.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush garners seven percent, a new low for him in the Fox News poll.

Fox News Poll: Outsiders rule 2016 GOP field, support for Biden nearly doubles

By Dana Blanton

Published September 24, 2015

Why Hillary no longer has a lock on Democratic nomination

Most Republicans feel betrayed by their party -- and show their displeasure by supporting outsiders over establishment candidates in the GOP presidential race. 

Real-estate mogul Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are the favorites in the Republican race in the latest Fox News national poll on the 2016 election.  Neither has held elected office before and yet the two of them -- together with businesswoman Carly Fiorina -- capture the support of more than half of GOP primary voters.


On the Democratic side, support for Vice President Joe Biden -- who is still considering a run -- has almost doubled since August.  But make no mistake: Hillary Clinton remains the frontrunner. 

Trump stays on top with 26 percent among GOP primary voters, followed by Carson at 18 percent.  Fiorina and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are next, tied at 9 percent.  All four have gained ground. After the August Fox News debate, Trump had 25 percent, while Carson had 12 percent, Fiorina 5 percent and Rubio 4 percent. 

Trump holds his leader status even though he was once again rated in the poll as having done the worst job in the debate. Fiorina, Rubio and Carson receive positive marks for their performances.

The appeal of outsiders comes from significant dissatisfaction with the party establishment:  62 percent of Republican primary voters feel “betrayed” by politicians in their party, and another 66 percent say the recent Republican majorities in Washington have failed to do all they could to block or reverse President Obama’s agenda.  For comparison, 40 percent of Democratic primary voters feel betrayed by their party.  

Frustration with party leaders has been a recurring theme for one sitting GOP senator in the race, Ted Cruz of Texas, who is next in the poll at eight percent.  He was at 10 percent in August. 

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush garners seven percent, a new low for him in the Fox News poll.  He had 15 percent support as recently as early August.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A True American Legend

Yogi Berra, one of baseball’s greatest catchers and characters, who as a player was a mainstay of 10 Yankee championship teams and as a manager led both the Yankees and Mets to the World Series — but who may be more widely known as an ungainly but lovable cultural figure, inspiring a cartoon character and issuing a seemingly limitless supply of unwittingly witty epigrams known as Yogi-isms — died Tuesday. He was 90.

His death was reported by the Yankees and by the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center Museum in Little Falls, N.J. Before moving to an assisted living facility in West Caldwell, N.J., in 2012, Berra had lived for many years in nearby Montclair.

In 1949, early in Berra’s Yankee career, his manager assessed him this way in an interview in The Sporting News:
“Mr. Berra,” Casey Stengel said, “is a very strange fellow of very remarkable abilities.”

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hikers Witness Rare Optical Illusion

Hikers Witness Rare Optical Illusion


Sep 21, 2015, 3:42 PM ET

Radka Chapin

Radka Chapin was climbing a mountain when she witnessed an optical illusion known as a Brocken Spectre.more +

Two hikers witnessed a rare occurrence while climbing a mountain in Mount Rainier National Park: their own optical illusion.

Radka Chapin and her husband Chris were standing on the summit ridge of Washington's Tamanos Mountain on Saturday when they got to see an effect known as a “Brocken Spectre.”

A "Brocken Spectre" occurs when a person is standing above the horizon, causing a shadow to be cast on the mist or cloud below. As a result, a circular rainbow halo forms around the shadow or "Spectre."

“We were secretly hoping we would get lucky on Saturday as the conditions looked perfect,” Chapin told ABC News.

She added: "As the day went on, the Spectre would last longer and was more prominent and colorful. The best display was in the evening, when the Spectre appeared very clear, large and a short distance from us, right before thick clouds rolled in and obstructed the sun."

Chapin said she has witnessed other forms of atmospheric phenomenon before but last weekend's Spectre was incredibly significant.

“I have seen many halos in the mountains, beautiful storm clouds, incredible sun rays, but this was my first time seeing the Brocken Spectre,” she said. “It's truly a spectacular sight to see.”

Scott Walker "called" to quit the race

You know, I would have way more respect for these guys if they could just state the obvious and say, "I gave it a shot and the voters did not respond to my message. I thank all the people who worked tirelessly to help me run this campaign." Surely I will be chastised by our perfect example of the beatitudes(, William, for my lack of faith, because pointing out my Godlessness is what he does when he isn't hiding under a bridge asking three questions to let people pass.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Scientists Ask Obama To Prosecute Global Warming Skeptics

Scientists Ask Obama To Prosecute Global Warming Skeptics


4:39 PM 09/17/2015

The science on global warming is settled, so settled that 20 climate scientists are asking President Barack Obama to prosecute people who disagree with them on the science behind man-made global warming.

Scientists from several universities and research centers even asked Obama to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to prosecute groups that “have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.”

RICO was a law designed to take down organized crime syndicates, but scientists now want it to be used against scientists, activists and organizations that voice their disagreement with the so-called “consensus” on global warming. The scientists repeated claims made by environmentalists that groups, especially those with ties to fossil fuels, have engaged in a misinformation campaign to confuse the public on global warming.

“The actions of these organizations have been extensively documented in peer-reviewed academic research and in recent books,” the scientists wrote.

But these riled up academics aren’t the first to suggest using RICO to go after global warming skeptics. The idea was first put forward by Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who argued using RICO was effective at taking down the tobacco industry.

“In 1999, the Justice Department filed a civil RICO lawsuit against the major tobacco companies… alleging that the companies ‘engaged in and executed — and continue to engage in and execute — a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public, including consumers of cigarettes, in violation of RICO,’” Whitehouse wrotein the Washington Post in May.

“We strongly endorse Senator Whitehouse’s call for a RICO investigation,” the scientists wrote to Obama. “The methods of these organizations are quite similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. A RICO investigation (1999 to 2006) played an important role in stopping the tobacco industry from continuing to deceive the American people about the dangers of smoking.”

“If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done,” the scientists added.

This year has been a trying one for global warming skeptics. Earlier this year, Democratic lawmakers began an investigation into scientists who disagreed with the White House’s stance on global warming. Many of these skeptical scientists were often cited by those critical of regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva went after universities employing these researchers, which resulted in one expert being forced to get out of the field of climate research altogether.

“I am simply not initiating any new research or papers on the topic and I have ring-fenced my slowly diminishing blogging on the subject,” Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado wrote on his blog.

“Congressman Grijalva doesn’t have any evidence of any wrongdoing on my part, either ethical or legal, because there is none,” Pielke wrote. “He simply disagrees with the substance of my testimony – which is based on peer-reviewed research funded by the US taxpayer, and which also happens to be the consensus of the IPCC (despite Holdren’s incorrect views).”

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Should we just abolish the Supreme Court altogether?

After reading TS's exchange with William and Kingston a few threads ago and after watching Rick Santorum talk for several weeks now, I'm kinda wondering why bother having a SCOTUS at all. TS, IMO, is the only person on this board, and I mean only person, who is entirely consistent with his view. When he chided William for being no better than liberals because he just happens to be pissed about the ruling on gay marriage, I felt like that nailed just about everyone who posts here. Most of us get torqued because a ruling doesn't go our way, but will be quite content to accept a SCOTUS ruling that we believe fixes (or forbids) something we don't agree with.

IMO, it seems that the job of the Supremes is to interpret whether laws that are passed square with the constitution. However, this is an entirely subjective thing which is starting to make me think the whole thing is just a waste of time. Stack the court with a bunch of Scalia's, (or liberals) and you don't even have to bring a case up because you know what they will say. People like Scalia seem to be against any behavior that became socially acceptable after 1800 and he seems quite willing to let the states pass as many laws as they want to reflect that outlook. Liberal leaning judges, however, seem to believe that rulings should follow the "spirit" rather than exact letter of the constitution and are likely going to see it otherwise and be content to let federal law super cede local law in the interest of letting law reflect a more current social outlook rather than a locked in time and "dead document" outlook. Who is more correct, in such  cases, depends entirely on your outlook of world.

With that in mind, why not just get rid of it altogether and just let political majorities decide everything. It certainly seems to be headed that direction.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Export Import Bank Closure Creates Jobs

But not in the U.S.

For months, GE has said that the failure to reauthorize the export financing agency, which congressional Republicans have singled out as an example of corporate welfare, would force the company to move jobs overseas or risk losing contracts for turbines, power projects and other industrial equipment.

GE said Tuesday it had signed an agreement for a line of credit for certain power projects from France’s export credit agency, Compagnie Française d’Assurance pour le Commerce Extérieur, or Coface, which would result in 400 jobs moving to Europe, primarily from facilities in New York, Texas, South Carolina and Maine. It said another 100 jobs would be moved next year from a facility outside Houston to Hungary and China to access export credit for customers of gas turbines used in aviation.

Executives say the company is bidding on $11 billion worth of projects, mostly in developing nations, and that bids won’t be entertained if they aren’t sponsored by an export credit agency. GE said, for example, that countries where such export credit agency sponsorship is required have accounted for 80% of total sales of those aviation-related turbines over the past three years.

”In a competitive world, we are left with no choice but to invest in non-U.S. manufacturing and move production to countries that support high-tech exports,” said John Rice, vice chairman at GE, in a statement on Tuesday.

Meet Hillary Clinton's Bulldog

Once a part of the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ to destroy the Clintons, David Brock now savages the media from inside Hillaryland

Political assassins don’t choke up in front of reporters. But here is David Brock, confessed hit man and wrecker of reputations, the baddest bull in Hillary Clinton’s billion-dollar win-the–White House militia, with his eyes gone bloodshot and filling with tears.
We are sitting at one corner of his sprawling complex of offices, just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, where he employs 250 youthful activists to dig dirt on Republicans, plant stories in the press and punish pundits who step out of line. They work for groups with bland names that conceal their importance–Media Matters, Correct the Record, American Bridge, American Democracy Legal Fund, to name a few–on two floors that don’t look anything like a D.C. political office.

Think Cupertino startup meets Buddhist retreat meets the Jetsons, with bright molded-plastic furniture, exposed ceilings, colorful art, the occasional Japanese paper wall. Brock doesn’t look anything like a D.C. operative, either. At 53, he wears his silver hair long and pomaded behind his ears; he likes tailored shirts that fit too tight, pocket squares and skinny ties. When he drafted the office lease, he wrote in a clause for Toby, the pet schnoodle who accompanies him to work.
The question is simple and should be easy. When was the first time you saw Hillary Clinton after you defected from the conservative movement? He’s told the story before; it all happened more than a decade ago, for God’s sake. But his voice is halting. Then it cracks.
It was a Senate lunch in 2002, he says, just after he had published his third book, Blinded by the Right, a confession of all the rotten things he had ever done to liberals–from his “little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” slander of Anita Hill, who had accused then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, to his discovery of Paula Jones, which forged a trail to Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

In an ornamented room, he told the Democratic leaders about their right-wing enemy, talking for nearly an hour. Clinton, then a Senator, sat in the back, immobile, hard to see over all the balding heads and charcoal suits. “She didn’t say anything, so I was starting to wonder,” he says. “And her hand went up at the very end.” This is where he starts to lose it. “And … she just summarized everything I said. Better than I said it. And it was amazing.”
I ask if something is wrong, if he is really as emotional as he appears. “Yeah,” he says. “It was a big deal.”
Now Hillary Clinton is rising again, along with the scent of scandal and the frenzy of her enemies, and Brock has pledged to fight by her side. To understand his commitment, you must first understand the most bizarre entanglement in modern political history, which has turned Brock into one of the most powerful players in Democratic politics. Among other jobs, he currently coordinates message strategy with the Clinton campaign, leads her rapid-response super PAC, raises money and sits on the board of a separate “independent” super PAC that will pay millions for her TV ads, and has set up the group that creates all the federal Democratic opposition research for the 2016 campaigns.
In total, over a little more than a decade, he has personally raised more than $150 million from rich liberals to fund his sprawling empire, which also includes a group that files mostly spurious ethics complaints against Republicans and another that mercilessly attacks both Fox News and the New York Times. This is no small feat for a reformed liar who has never held political office. And to hear his defenders tell it, he has done it all with aplomb.
“Brilliant,” several of them tell me when I ask about Brock’s talents. “He’s like a minister,” says John Stocks, the chairman of the Democracy Alliance, an umbrella group for wealthy progressives. “He is like an artist in my mind,” explains Susie Tompkins Buell, a progressive activist, Clinton supporter and Brock’s first major donor.
But talent is not all Brock has. His relationship with Hillary Clinton is at the root of everything he has accomplished. Salvation came first to Brock, who in 1994 found himself suicidal, sitting in a running Range Rover in a closed garage in Laguna Beach, Calif., suffering for the lies he had peddled about Anita Hill. He stepped out of the car and into his next project, a takedown biography of Clinton, which had earned him a $1 million advance. But instead of writing what everyone expected, he wrote the truth as he saw it, a glowing tribute to a courageous woman. “In struggling to find Hillary’s humanity, I gradually found my own,” he explains in his latest book, Killing the Messenger, due on store shelves Sept. 15.
Salvation came to Clinton years later, after her husband’s affair with a 22-year-old White House intern became a national disgrace. As the furor grew, Brock, who remained a member of the conservative elite, became her eyes and ears, a secret agent feeding the White House real-time intelligence by way of Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal. Brock detailed it all, from the leaks coming from the independent prosecutor’s office to the secret sources of Internet bad boy Matt Drudge.
When Clinton went on NBC’s Today show in 1998 to warn the country of a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” she was describing a picture Brock had painted. It was Hillary who kept a chaotic White House focused on its tormentors that year, and it was Brock who gave Hillary the ammunition. “Having knowledge restored a sense of normalcy,” Blumenthal would later write of Brock’s contribution to Hillary during those dark days.
Over time, both Bill and Hillary Clinton found they shared something else with Brock: an unnatural focus and fierceness. “What I appreciated from the right wing was you had to have political power before you could make the changes you wanted to make,” Brock explains now. “And I wasn’t afraid of that. There was a culture in the Democratic Party of weakness and nonresponse. I think some of what we did helped change that culture.”
Political knife fighting turns out to be far more complicated than the real thing. The best practitioners conceal not only the knife but also the fighter. They distort the truth without getting caught in a lie. Most important, they submerge their cutthroat instinct in a redemption story, a fight for justice and goodness, which allows people to believe in the cause–and in the need to shed more blood in its name.
Brock has such a story. Last year he traveled to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., to make his case that the person he used to be still exists in the conservative firmament. The dark enemy would return. “I know from personal experience that the best efforts of the right wing to market political smut did not defeat the Clintons,” he said. “The truth won out in the end. And it will again.”
This time, he promised, the fight will not play out as it did before. If the New York Times stumbles in a Page One story on Hillary’s email scandal, Brock is there, penning a letter demanding an editorial “review” of the paper’s “flawed and fact-free reporting.” If Jeb Bush takes a dig at Hillary for failing to promptly turn over her emails to the government, Brock’s deputy asks the Florida state attorney to open a criminal investigation into Bush for his possibly “knowing and willful” violation of Florida public-records laws. If Trey Gowdy, the head of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, asks for Clinton’s personal server, Brock counters with an open letter to Gowdy demanding the public release of “your own work-related and private email.”
Candidates have long sent kids to track their rivals with video cameras, hoping to capture a public slip-up. But Brock’s operation is the first to have a team of about 30 trackers live-stream the footage back to headquarters so that it can be more quickly cut and sent out to reporters. He has also begun to plot new ways to get his trackers more involved–in asking questions of Clinton’s rivals, perhaps even setting up dummy groups so they can buy their way into fundraising events.
Such undercover work, a trademark of conservative activists since the Nixon era, has lately been frowned on by liberals. “I am very aware of what the Democratic culture will tolerate,” Brock says. By this he means he continues to push for change, though he maintains that he will never return to peddling falsehoods. “If people understand what propaganda is,” he says, repeating a koan of his craft, “it ceases to have an effect over time.”
As time has passed, the Brock trophy case has grown. By creating bursts of outrage, he helped get Don Imus kicked off MSNBC, ended Lou Dobbs’ run at CNN, chased Fortune 500 advertisers away from Rush Limbaugh and organized a boycott of Glenn Beck’s Fox News show before its cancellation. A local Brock tracker was the first to uncover Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s bizarre comment about “legitimate rape” in 2012, and his opposition research helped ensure that Tea Party candidate Richard Mourdock won the Senate primary in Indiana, thus ensuring a Democratic pickup in the general election.
Chances are your views on Charles and David Koch, the biggest backers of conservative politics, have been shaped more by Brock’s research machine–which paints the brothers as greedy moneybags with selfish interests–than by their own multibillion-dollar operations. Before he entered the race, Jeb Bush was tripped up on camera over a question on his support for the Paycheck Fairness Act, a Democratic effort to increase wages for women. Brock’s people not only recorded the exchange, they also planted the question. Back in 2010, he even wrote a secret memo proposing the impeachment of Justice Clarence Thomas, a radical idea that Blumenthal forwarded to Clinton. “After the ’13 and ’14 cycle we went back and we measured the TV coverage of any piece of research that was original to us,” Brock says. “And we monetized it as if you went out and bought it as advertising. It was over $225 million in publicity, and we spent $15 million to produce it.”
Ask Brock where it ends–this constant innovation, the institutional expansion–and he gives an ice-cold answer. “The only place it can end is with the defeat of the extreme elements of the Republican Party,” he says. “A third of the Republican base thinks Obama is the Antichrist. You just can’t reason with them.” This is the language of zealots who welcome peace talks only after the total surrender of their rivals. I point out that most liberals would not talk like that. “Probably not,” he agrees.
Last January, some Democratic opponents of Brock attempted a sort of palace coup. They didn’t like his growing power, didn’t like his fundraising methods–his business partner earns a commission on nonprofit donations, an unusual practice–and they wanted to maintain the Obama hold on the party’s richest donors. A disparaging story appeared in the New York Times, detailing the complaints, and Brock abruptly quit the board of Priorities USA, the Clinton advertising effort, threatening a rift in the high-dollar Democratic-donor community. “This is the kind of dirty trick I’ve witnessed in the right wing and would not tolerate then,” Brock wrote in his resignation letter.
Within weeks, Hillary Clinton’s allies stepped in, and Brock won back what he wanted, almost completely. Obama insiders were dispatched and demoted, a Clinton confidant was put in charge of the organization, and Brock was invited back to the board, with the promise of a joint fundraising plan he had long proposed. In the coming months, even as he advises the campaign, he plans to raise millions for a joint fund, which will split its money with the pro-Clinton group he founded. Not much has been raised yet, but hopes are high. “I think we came up with 800 donors who could give $1 million or more,” he says. “That doesn’t mean they will. But they could. So that’s not a terrible number.”
As for the current scandals swirling around Hillary, he refuses to give an inch. On the private email server: “I don’t feel any criticism is due.” On the Clinton Foundation’s raising money from people Bill Clinton helped through public appearances overseas: “The attacks on the foundation are almost the most despicable because of all the good work the foundation does.” Any reason for concern over the creation of a private consulting firm, Teneo, that employed Hillary Clinton’s State Department aides while aiding Clinton Foundation donors? “No. I haven’t seen anything,” he says.
This is David Brock. When he thinks of Hillary, he doesn’t think about an awkward politician with a mechanical laugh who has lost as many public battles as she has won. He thinks of the “deep well of personal integrity” he wrote about in his 1996 book. He thinks about the time she invited him to the Clinton summer rental in Sagaponack, N.Y., when her whole family was there, the siblings, spouses, kids and dogs. He thinks about eating pizza and sipping soft drinks by the pool, then looking up after a couple of hours to see the Secretary of State walking around the yard with a trash bag, picking up garbage. “Just like something my mom would do,” he recalls.
Does that sound like propaganda to you? You could call it that. Or you could call it politics. But for David Brock it is also the truth, a lodestar for the person he has become.