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Hermosa Beach mom wins settlement from TSA over airport breast-feeding incident
“The TSA agents decided to make an example and humiliate her”
A Hermosa Beach woman who sued the Transportation Security Administration after she claimed officers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport harassed her four years ago over her son’s breast milk has won a tentative legal settlement against the agency, she said Tuesday. Stacey Armato sued in federal court in Phoenix after a 2010 incident in which she asked the TSA to provide an alternate form of screening that would not expose her 7-month-old son’s breast milk to radiation. During the incident, Armato claimed in court papers, she was forced to wait in a glass enclosure for more than 40 minutes while she was “frequently harassed and abused by the TSA agents.” Under the terms of the proposed settlement, which should become official within the next month, the TSA will take steps to retrain its officers on proper breast milk-screening procedures, Armato said. The agency also will pay her $75,000, which she plans to use for her legal fees and to donate to BreastfeedLA, a group dedicated to promoting breast-feeding across the region. Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the TSA, declined to comment on the lawsuit. He cited current TSA policies that permit mothers to travel with breast milk in quantities greater than 3 ounces as long as “it is presented for inspection at the security checkpoint.” The milk does not necessarily need to go through the X-ray machine to satisfy the inspection requirement. But Armato said screeners are not always aware of the agency’s rules. In her lawsuit, she claimed that she has had more than one run-in with TSA employees in Phoenix. In a January 2010 incident highlighted in the complaint, Armato said it took screeners 40 minutes to clarify TSA policy before they eventually allowed her to proceed past the checkpoint without putting her milk through the X-ray machine. After that incident, Armato filed a formal administrative complaint against the Phoenix screeners. About a week later, according to the complaint, Armato, on her way to Los Angeles, returned to the same screening checkpoint. In the complaint, Armato alleged that the screeners were aware that she had filed a complaint against them. Armato claims the screeners then sought to retaliate against her.
Army general disciplined over mishandling of sexual-assault case in Japan
Then they gave him a cushy Pentagon job
The sexual misconduct complaints piled up on the desk of Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., the commander of U.S. Army forces in Japan. A colonel on his staff had been accused of having an affair with a subordinate, of drunken and inappropriate behavior with other women at a military club and lastly, of sexual assault. But Harrison let most of the complaints slide or reacted with leniency, according to the Army. He had known the colonel for two decades and said he didn’t believe some of the allegations. In March 2013, when a Japanese woman accused the colonel of sexually assaulting her, Harrison waited months to report it to criminal investigators — a clear violation of Army rules, according to an internal investigation. As chronicled by that investigation, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, the general’s handling of the case provides a textbook example of the Pentagon’s persistent struggle to get commanders to take reports of sexual misconduct seriously. Stung by troop surveys that show most sex-crime victims don’t trust the military to protect them, the Defense Department has repeatedly pledged to fix the problem and punish commanders who don’t get the message. The Army brought Harrison back to the Pentagon to take another important position, as director of program analysis and evaluation for an Army deputy chief of staff. He received an administrative letter of reprimand in December for mishandling the sexual-assault case and other complaints, but remains on active duty.
New York Times
Putin Continues to Run Circles Around the West
Russia Displays a New Military Prowess in Ukraine’s East
Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Russia of behaving in a “19th-century fashion” because of its annexation of Crimea. But Western experts who have followed the success of Russian forces in carrying out President Vladimir V. Putin’s policy in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have come to a different conclusion about Russian military strategy. They see a military disparaged for its decline since the fall of the Soviet Union skillfully employing 21st-century tactics that combine cyberwarfare, an energetic information campaign and the use of highly trained special operation troops to seize the initiative from the West. “It is a significant shift in how Russian ground forces approach a problem,” said James G. Stavridis, the retired admiral and former NATO commander. “They have played their hand of cards with finesse.” The abilities the Russian military has displayed are not only important to the high-stakes drama in Ukraine, they also have implications for the security of Moldova, Georgia, Central Asian nations and even the Central Europe nations that are members of NATO. The dexterity with which the Russians have operated in Ukraine is a far cry from the bludgeoning artillery, airstrikes and surface-to-surface missiles used to retake Grozny, the Chechen capital, from Chechen separatists in 2000. In that conflict, the notion of avoiding collateral damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure appeared to be alien. Since then Russia has sought to develop more effective ways of projecting power in the “near abroad,” the non-Russian nations that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Obama gives $50 million of your tax dollars to hapless Ukraine
In Kiev, Biden pledges support for fair election, help to weather economic pressure
Vice President Biden pledged American support Tuesday to help Ukraine stage a successful presidential election next month and to defy Russian economic pressure, but he also warned Ukrainian leaders that they must confront the nation’s rampant official corruption to meet the high political demands of a frustrated public. Biden announced that the United States would provide an additional $50 million in assistance to Ukraine, including $11.4 million to help conduct the election scheduled for May 25, as well as expertise to assist Ukraine in reducing its reliance on Russian energy supplies. The White House also announced $8 million in nonlethal military aid for the Ukrainian armed forces and border guards, including explosive ordinance disposal equipment, communications gear and vehicles. The aid is in addition to a $10 million package that includes military meals and health and welfare assistance, the White House said.
Chris Christie rips Colorado ‘head shops’
NJ's police state governor will be happy to define your freedoms for you
Chris Christie just isn’t really a Rocky Mountain kind of guy. The New Jersey governor, asked about Colorado’s marijuana legalization, slammed the state, criticizing its “quality of life.” “See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado where there’s head shops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high,” Christie said on a local radio show in New Jersey on Monday, according to CNN. “To me, it’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that.” The governor opposes marijuana decriminalization, and told a caller that he won’t be signing any legislation to relax standards on pot. “You say it’s going to come down the road,” Christie said. “You know it may come down the road when I’m gone. It’s not going to come while I’m here,” he said.
GOP poll defies tide on gay marriage
Republicans clinging to their message of hate
Two conservative groups are pushing back on moves by the GOP to drop opposition to same-sex marriage from party platforms, releasing a poll of base voters taken last month that found in favor of defining marriage “only” as between a man and a woman. The poll, commissioned by groups led by conservatives Gary Bauer and Tony Perkins, runs counter to a wide variety of opinion polls that show movement on the question of same-sex marriage, with more voters favoring it than opposing it. Last week, the Nevada GOP removed opposition to same-sex marriage from its platform, with the state chairman saying the move was indicative of where the party is headed. The survey by the GOP polling firm Wilson Research Strategies was of Republican and Republican-leaning independents and was taken over a month ago, sampling 801 people from March 18 through March 20, with a 3.5 percent margin of error. The survey showed 82 percent agreeing with a statement that marriage should be between “one man and one woman.” It also found 75 percent disagreed that “politicians should support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.” A number of Republican influentials and elected officials have voiced support for same-sex marriage, and public polling has show independent voters increasingly supporting it.
San Francisco Chronicle
LOL!!! Scientists and their Leftist pals lashes out at "ignorant" Americans...
Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans
Americans doubt concepts that scientists say are basic truth: global warming, evolution
Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they express bigger doubts as concepts that scientists consider to be truths get further from our own experiences and the present time, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Americans have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago. Rather than quizzing scientific knowledge, the survey asked people to rate their confidence in several statements about science and medicine. On some, there's broad acceptance. Just 4 percent doubt that smoking causes cancer, 6 percent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and 8 percent are skeptical there's a genetic code inside our cells. More — 15 percent — have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines. About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority — 51 percent — questions the Big Bang theory. Those results depress and upset some of America's top scientists, including several Nobel Prize winners, who vouched for the science in the statements tested, calling them settled scientific facts. "Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts," said 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine winner Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley. The poll highlights "the iron triangle of science, religion and politics," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. And scientists know they've got the shakiest leg in the triangle.
San Diego Union
Chicken Little shrieks!!! Are you listening???
Climate: 'Alarm bells have never been louder'
UCSD expert says efforts to stave off global warming haven't been enough
International efforts to cut greenhouse-gas emissions haven’t been enough to stave off climate change, the world’s leading scientific organization on the issue warned last week. Emissions climbed at record rates for the first decade of this century, and only major action will keep warming at manageable levels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in the final volume of a trilogy of reports about the science and policy of climate change. This latest series of assessments, like previous versions of the panel’s reports published since 1990, has been a lightning rod for debate. Some government leaders, business executives and advocacy groups have leveraged the reports to call for greater intervention, while others have said the documents are unnecessarily alarmist. While scientists — including the thousands that contribute to the panel’s analyses — agree that climate change is taking place and that human activity plays a central role, they don’t fully understand certain dynamics of the phenomenon. David Victor, a chief author of last week’s report, believes the message is clear. “The alarm bells have never been louder than they are in this report,” said Victor, a professor of international relations and director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at UC San Diego. He said the world may have missed a chance to keep global warming about three and a half degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. But Richard Tol, an economist at the University of Sussex in England and a lead author for the climate panel’s second volume, pulled his name off that document. He told the BBC that its message “was all about the impacts of climate change and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.”
Los Angeles Times
Conservative heavyweights have solar industry in their sights
The Koch brothers and large utilities have allied to reverse state policies that favor renewable energy
The political attack ad that ran recently in Arizona had some familiar hallmarks of the genre, including a greedy villain who hogged sweets for himself and made children cry. But the bad guy, in this case, wasn't a fat-cat lobbyist or someone's political opponent. He was a solar-energy consumer. Solar, once almost universally regarded as a virtuous, if perhaps over-hyped, energy alternative, has now grown big enough to have enemies. The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states. Alarmed environmentalists and their allies in the solar industry have fought back, battling the other side to a draw so far. Both sides say the fight is growing more intense as new states, including Ohio, South Carolina and Washington, enter the fray. At the nub of the dispute are two policies found in dozens of states. One requires utilities to get a certain share of power from renewable sources. The other, known as net metering, guarantees homeowners or businesses with solar panels on their roofs the right to sell any excess electricity back into the power grid at attractive rates. Net metering forms the linchpin of the solar-energy business model. Without it, firms say, solar power would be prohibitively expensive.
Democratic super PAC reserves TV airtime in California
The evil Koch brothers aren't the only ones doing this after all
In politics, it's never too early to plan. A Democratic super PAC announced Friday that it has reserved more than $800,000 in television time for the home stretch of the general election in California. House Majority PAC, which wades into contested congressional races, secured TV time in Sacramento, Riverside and San Diego counties for the weeks leading up to Nov. 4. It includes $112,219 to protect Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, $189,610 on behalf of Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, and $512,190 in the district held by Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego. The initial reservation for broadcast and cable nationwide is $6.5 million and covers 24 districts. Early reservations typically allow candidates and outside groups to lock in lower advertising rates. A spokesman for the House Majority PAC said the group didn't make its initial television reservations last cycle until July. It spent money in more than 50 races, said Matt Thornton. Ruiz, Bera and Peters swept into office as part of the Democratic wave in 2012. All three have outraised their closest Republican challengers Brian Nestande, Doug Ose and Carl DeMaio, respectively. In Sacramento County's 7th district, trailing Ose in fundraising are Republicans Elizabeth Emken and Igor Birman.
Japanese plaintiffs apparently think sexual slavery is no big deal
Glendale comfort women statue controversy goes to U.S. District Court
A federal case over whether to remove a controversial Glendale memorial to “comfort women” forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II could be decided as soon as next month. The case in U.S. District Court centers over a bronze statue in Glendale Central Park that depicts a Korean woman sitting in traditional garb next to an open seat. The Glendale City Council voted 4-1 to install the statue last July. It is intended as a tribute to hundreds of thousands of women believed to be rounded up and forced into sexual slavery, but the issue remains controversial to this day because many conservatives in Japan dispute some of the estimates of how extensive the practice was. The plaintiffs in the court case filed in February argue that the memorial exceeds the city’s power, infringes upon the federal government’s power to exclusively conduct foreign affairs, violates the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution and negatively affects foreign relations with Japan. The plaintiffs are identified as Michiko Shiota Gingery of Glendale, Koichi Mera of Los Angeles and a group calling itself the Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT-U.S.), of which Mera is president.
New York Times
Death Panel Doctors: Are You Worth The Money To Save?
Cost of Treatment May Influence Doctors
Saying they can no longer ignore the rising prices of health care, some of the most influential medical groups in the nation are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care. The shift, little noticed outside the medical establishment but already controversial inside it, suggests that doctors are starting to redefine their roles, from being concerned exclusively about individual patients to exerting influence on how health care dollars are spent. “We understand that we doctors should be and are stewards of the larger society as well as of the patient in our examination room,” said Dr. Lowell E. Schnipper, the chairman of a task force on value in cancer care at the American Society of Clinical Oncology. In practical terms, new guidelines being developed by the medical groups could result in doctors choosing one drug over another for cost reasons or even deciding that a particular treatment — at the end of life, for example — is too expensive. In the extreme, some critics have said that making treatment decisions based on cost is a form of rationing.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for the GOP
Mitt Romney returns to the political stage as Republicans prepare for midterms
After retreating from public view following his crushing loss to President Obama in the 2012 election, Romney has returned to the political stage, emerging as one of the Republican Party’s most coveted stars, especially on the fundraising circuit, in the run-up to November’s midterm elections. Romney, 67, has begun to embrace the role of party elder, believing he can shape the national debate and help guide his fractured party to a governing majority. The former GOP nominee has endorsed at least 16 candidates this cycle, many of them establishment favorites who backed his campaigns. One Romney friend said he wants to be the “anti-Jim DeMint,” a reference to the former South Carolina senator and current Heritage Foundation chairman who has been a conservative kingmaker in Republican primaries. Romney’s approach is to reward allies, boost rising stars and avoid conflict. Romney has signed his name to sharply partisan e-mail appeals and headlined recent fundraisers from Las Vegas to Miami to Boston. This week, he appeared in his first television ad: a U.S. Chamber of Commerce spot supporting Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, who faces a tea party challenger in a state where Romney remains widely popular. And Romney’s confidants said he will appear in more ads, record robo-calls and stump at rallies later this year.
New York Times
Putin Asserts Right to Use Force in Eastern Ukraine
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia emphasized on Thursday that the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament had authorized him to use military force if necessary in eastern Ukraine, and also stressed Russia’s historical claim to the territory, repeatedly referring to it as “new Russia” and saying that only “God knows” why it became part of Ukraine. Speaking in a televised question-and-answer show, Mr. Putin also admitted for the first time that Russian armed forces had been deployed in Crimea, the disputed peninsula that Russia annexed last month immediately after a large majority of the population voted in a referendum to secede from Ukraine. Mr. Putin’s remarks on eastern Ukraine came as officials from Russia, the United States, Europe and the new government in Kiev were meeting in Geneva for four-way negotiations aimed at resolving the political crisis. During the question-and-answer show, Mr. Putin stressed that he had the authority to invade Ukraine, but that he hoped it would not be necessary. Mr. Putin said that Russia felt an obligation to protect ethnic Russians in the region, who are a sizable minority. “We must do everything to help these people to protect their rights and independently determine their own destiny,” he said.
Tables turned on NYC cop as Indian government treats him the way cops in the U.S. gun owners here
U.S. politicians say N.Y. cop held in India is victim of diplomatic row
A New York City police officer arrested last month at the New Delhi airport with bullets in his luggage may be forced to stay in India until this summer, after a judge delayed his case Thursday. Lawyers for Manny Encarnacion, 49, had hoped that Delhi High Court Justice Sunil Gaur would grant their request to dismiss pending weapons charges against Encarnacion at a court hearing Thursday. But it was not to be. Gaur delayed the case until July 1, meaning that Encarnacion, whose passport was taken by authorities but who remains out on bond, would have to stay in India until then. The officer wept and clung to his wife after the hearing. The couple declined to comment.
New York Times
Bloomberg Plans a $50 Million Challenge to the N.R.A.
Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association. Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda — even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own. “They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’ ” he said of the N.R.A. “ ‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ ” He added: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”
Los Angeles Times
Pols getting wise to e-cigarette scams...
E-cigarette firms targeting young people, lawmakers say
E-cigarette companies are preying on young consumers by using candy flavors, social media ads and free samples at rock concerts, according to a report released Monday by Democratic legislators. A survey of nine electronic-cigarette companies found most were taking advantage of the lack of federal regulations to launch aggressive marketing campaigns targeting minors with tactics that would be illegal if used for traditional cigarettes, according to a report released by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and signed by 10 other Democratic lawmakers, including California Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Henry A. Waxman of Beverly Hills. According to the report, based on information from the eight companies that responded, five of the surveyed companies more than doubled their marketing expenditures between 2012 and 2013, regularly promoting e-cigarettes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Producers have come up with an array of creative flavors, a practice that was banned for traditional cigarettes by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. E-cigarette flavor names include pumpkin spice, chocolate treat, snap! and cherry crush.
Kansas City Star
Just like the Taliban, whack-job killer was a religious bigot
Federal hate-crime charges, state charges likely in Overland Park shootings
Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., 73, of Aurora, Mo., also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, could be charged as soon as today in Johnson County District Court, where he probably will face murder counts. District Attorney Steve Howe said information about charges could be released this morning. Miller will face hate-crime charges in federal court, based on allegations that he was motivated by bias, said Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney for Kansas. “We are in a very good place from an evidence standpoint and will present the case to a grand jury in the not-too-distant future,” Grissom said in a news conference in Overland Park. Asked whether others could have been involved in the shootings, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Kaste said the investigation is focused on Miller. “We will look everywhere the evidence takes us,” said Kaste, who oversees the bureau’s Kansas City office. Miller has made statements to investigators, but authorities would not reveal those comments Monday. The southwest Missouri man long has been known for deeply anti-Semitic and racist statements. He was a Ku Klux Klan grand dragon at one time and founded the White Patriot Party in the 1980s. Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, and his grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, 69, were killed about 1 p.m. outside the Jewish Community Center, where Reat planned to audition as part of a singing contest. Reat was a freshman at Blue Valley High School. His grandfather was a physician. Both were Methodists. Terri LaManno, 53, of Kansas City, was killed at the Village Shalom assisted living facility in Overland Park. She was a Catholic.
|Ana Marie Cox
Obama's equal-pay myth is one thing...but the GOP's chauvinism is a problem
Republicans have been both very right and very wrong about their many objections over the past week to the White House's flashy "paycheck equality" push. They're right to characterize it as a mostly political ploy, an unserious legislative gambit to prove that Republicans are insensitive to the needs of working women. (Who knows why Democrats felt they had to force the issue – Republicans are perfectly capable of proving their insensitivity all by themselves.) Republicans are also correct in pointing out that women have made steady gains receiving equal pay for equal work; if you correct for enough "lifestyle choice" factors, the gap almost disappears. But here's where Republicans are wrong: they believe that a gender pay gap due to "lifestyle choices" is somehow OK, or inevitable, or – and this gets to the core fallacy of modern conservatism – that it is OK because it is inevitable. Conservatives celebrate male dominance in the most high-paying professions as a natural one, of course.
Midterms may hinge on whether Obamacare losers outvote the winners
Will people who pay more, or who get less, or both, take their Obamacare unhappiness out against Democrats this November? Some surely will. But how many, and how strongly motivated they will be, will probably remain unknown until after the polls have closed.
Feds go out of their way to look bad
The length to which the federal government can go to make itself look heartless and foolish is, at times, breathtaking. This is one of those times. The latest case study came last week when the Washington Post revealed that the government has been confiscating taxpayers’ refunds to pay decades-old debts that may have been incurred by their parents. Often those debts are not nefarious, but instead were overpayments made by the government itself. No, really. We aren’t kidding.
Putin plays long game
The Russian leader couldn't care less about world opinion
Despite Russia's Crimean landgrab and its massing of troops on the Ukrainian border, Western leaders still refuse to recognize the mind-set of Vladimir Putin. U.S. officials still hope he will negotiate a "compromise" with the Kiev government rather than engineer the dismemberment of Ukraine. Anyone who still believes this pap should be sentenced to a week of watching the gross anti-Western propaganda on Russian state TV (nearly all national media are now state-controlled), which distorts the facts on Ukraine while whipping up nationalist fervor. This kind of agitprop, which hasn't been seen since the worst days of Joseph Stalin. Indeed, the Kremlin campaign on Crimea and eastern Ukraine has taken propaganda to a new level.
Hammerin’ Hank for speaking a racial truth
Baseball great Hank Aaron is catching hell for telling the truth. Actually, the Hall of Famer is catching hell from racists because he had the temerity to point out that racism still exists. Those who think otherwise are delusional and willfully ignorant of the racial state of play in the United States. Aaron’s alleged offense occurred in a USA Today interview with sports reporter Bob Nightengale. Aaron explained why he still has the racist hate mail he received as he closed in on breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record 40 years ago last week. The racist reaction to Aaron’s comments flowing into USA Today and the Atlanta Braves offices prove Aaron’s point.
The Right's Racial Blinders
What really explains the politics of the Obama era
Usually when MSNBC invites a liberal guest on air, a friendly welcome awaits. This past Sunday, New York Magazine columnist Jonathan Chait got to experience what it's like when that's not the case.
On privacy, Silicon Valley needs to step up
Another privacy bomb was dropped on Silicon Valley last week with Bloomberg's revelation about the Heartbleed software bug, dealing yet another blow to the U.S. technology industry's reputation and its ability to compete abroad. It's hard to say what's more stunning: That Bloomberg reports that the NSA knew about the bug two years ago but didn't tell anyone, leaving American consumers at the mercy of hackers -- including, some believe, the NSA itself? Or that Washington's tech geeks seem to be ahead of the Valley at every turn? When did government outdo Silicon Valley in its awareness of sophisticated technology.
Republicans kiss votes from women goodbye
This was not the way Republican leaders had planned to observe Equal Pay Day. On the eve of Tuesday’s commemoration — the day symbolizing how far into 2014 women must work to catch up to the wages men earned in 2013 — a small newspaper in Louisiana, the Ouachita Citizen, reported that its congressman, Republican Rep. Vance McAllister, had been videotaped making out with a low-paid staffer. McAllister, called the “Duck Dynasty” congressman because of his defense of the Robertson family’s Christian values, issued a statement asking for forgiveness from God, his family, his staff and constituents, and he declared that he still plans to run for reelection. And the woman, a part-timer paid less than $22,000 a year who also received $300 from McAllister to clean out his campaign office? She was terminated as the story broke, the congressman’s chief of staff told another Louisiana paper. It takes chutzpah to observe Equal Pay Day by sacking the low-wage employee you’ve been snogging.
What principles rule the GOP?
Pro-business or pro-market: Republicans politicians can't have it both ways anymore
For years, Republicans benefited from economic growth. So did pretty much everyone else, of course. But I have something specific in mind. Politically, when the economy is booming — or merely improving at a satisfactory clip — the distinction between being pro-business and pro-market is blurry. The distinction is also fuzzy when the economy is shrinking or imploding. But when the economy is simply limping along — not good, not disastrous — like it is now, the line is easier to see. And GOP politicians typically don't want to admit they see it. A big test will be on the Export-Import Bank, which is up for reauthorization this year. A bank in name only, the taxpayer-backed agency rewards big businesses in the name of maximizing exports that often don't need the help (hence its nickname, "Boeing's Bank"). In 2008, even then-Sen. Barack Obama said it was "little more than a fund for corporate welfare." The bank, however, has thrived on Obama's watch. It's even subsidizing the sale of private jets. Remember when Obama hated tax breaks for corporate jets? Friends of the Ex-Im Bank are screaming bloody murder. That's nothing new. What is new is that the free market is on line two.
Having the temerity to challenge Washington gridlock
As it obliterated yet another restriction on campaign spending, the U.S. Supreme Court last week made a point of claiming that there is full and fast public disclosure of campaign donations. “With modern technology, disclosure now offers a particularly effective means of arming the voting public with information,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. “Databases,” Roberts wrote, “are available on the FEC’s website almost immediately after they are filed” and on private sites. Do they really think we believe that? A few blocks from the Supreme Court, the Federal Election Commission, the entity most directly responsible for compelling disclosure, was mired in gridlock. California’s own Ann Ravel had the temerity to describe the dysfunction at the FEC like she saw it, in a very public way. “The Federal Election Commission is failing to enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws. I’m in a position to know. I’m the vice chairwoman of the commission,” Ravel wrote an op-ed in The New York Times the day after the high court issued its ruling. That sent Ravel’s Republican colleagues into orbit.
Sacramento Update Washington D.C. Update