10/01/2015 archive

The Elephant is Out of the Bottle

Like many of the past GOP gaffs, the truth about the real purpose of the House’s latest House Benghazi investigation as exposed when prospective Speaker of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told that the Fox News’ Sean Hannity Benghazi investigation was intended to damage the presidential campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

McCarthy said Tuesday that Clinton would have remained “unbeatable,” had it not been for the committee.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee, what are her numbers today?” McCarthy told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “Her numbers are dropping, why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened.”


He then reiterated that to CNN’s Jake Tapper that the committee was part of a “strategy to fight and win”.  

“I’m willing to fight but I want to fight to win,” McCarthy said when asked about the call by some Republicans to force a government shutdown fight in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

McCarthy said he supports a “bottom-up” approach to leading, where Republicans first put forward their policies and plans, use committees to do the groundwork, and then let that effort result in winning a vote on a policy.

He pointed to the controversy over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while in office — which has at times overshadowed her presidential campaign — as an example of how the process can work.

“When you look at the poll numbers of Hilary Clinton — they’ve dropped. Unfavorable is pretty high because people say they don’t trust her,” McCarthy said. “They don’t trust her because what they found out about the server and everything else. Would you ever have found that out had you not gathered the information from Benghazi Select Committee? So if we really want to be able to show what this Planned Parenthood has done … have the select committee get all the information, all the hearings. Win the argument to win the vote.”

The fall out from the Democratic side was immediate with demands that present Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) disband the committee:

In the letter, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats said that McCarthy, who is in line to replace Boehner after the speaker retires, had revealed that the panel’s true purpose was political.

“We are writing to ask you to disband the House Select Committee on Benghazi after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent comments admitting that the Select Committee was put together to serve the political purpose of defeating Secretary Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential elections by hurting her in the polls, rather than conducting a serious investigation into a terrorist attack that killed four Americans,” wrote Reid, who was joined by Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.).

“We should not disrespect their sacrifice by further politicizing this tragedy,” they continued.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spoke with Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) about why the committee should be disbanded and a possible boycott by the Democrats on the committee.

Following Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s spilling truth , the Republicans are scrambling to deny it

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said McCarthy should apologize, saying the California Republican made an “absolutely inappropriate statement.”

Speaker John Boehner, who is set to retire at the end of the month, sought to provide cover for McCarthy on Thursday. In a statement, he denied that the committee has anything to do with politics.

“This investigation has never been about former Secretary of State Clinton and never will be,” Boehner said. [..]

“I might have said it differently,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, told CNN. “Any ancillary political activity that comes out of it is, in fact, not the goal of the committee and is not what the committee is seeking to do.”

Added Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, “I totally disagree with those comments.” Asked if they could jeopardize his bid for speaker, the conservative Amash said: “I think it should be a concern.”

This is an elephant they aren’t going to get back in the bottle.  Everyone knows this charade has always been political. Republicans using the deaths of four Americans for political gain is bereft of any human decency.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Trevor Timm: The ‘Athens Affair’ shows why we need encryption without backdoors

Revelations about the hack that allowed Greek politicians to be spied on in 2004 come at a time when the White House is set to announce its encryption policy

Just as it seems the White House is close to finally announcing its policy on encryption – the FBI has been pushing for tech companies like Apple and Google to insert backdoors into their phones so the US government can always access users’ data – new Snowden revelations and an investigation by a legendary journalist show exactly why the FBI’s plans are so dangerous.

One of the biggest arguments against mandating backdoors in encryption is the fact that, even if you trust the United States government never to abuse that power (and who does?), other criminal hackers and foreign governments will be able to exploit the backdoor to use it themselves. A backdoor is an inherent vulnerability that other actors will attempt to find and try to use it for their own nefarious purposes as soon as they know it exists, putting all of our cybersecurity at risk.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Sanders vs. Clinton: Who Has the Best Plan for America’s College Students?

The differences between the college financing plans offered by Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are important – both for their impact on the middle class, and for what they tell us about the candidates and their governing philosophies. [..]

We know that our current system is broken. It has left more than 41 million Americans owing more than $1.3 trillion in student debt. That burden is holding back an entire generation of Americans and is harming the economy as a whole.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have had fundamentally different responses to this crisis. While those differences have been papered over by some in the media, as well as some progressive groups, they are real – and they are significant.

David Cay Johnston: Trump’s tax plan should be titled ‘The Art of the Con’

Such obvious deceptions and bogus thinking would get him fired on ‘The Apprentice’

If you believe that the $18.1 trillion federal debt should be much bigger, that the rich don’t have nearly enough, and that corporations need a tax-rate cut of 57 percent, then Donald Trump has just what you are looking for.

The real estate mogul and reality TV star who wants to be president put out a document he called a tax plan. Like many of his business deals, it is long on boastfulness and short on money to pay the inevitable bills.

Trump told “60 Minutes” that his plan will work because “overall, it’s going to be a tremendous incentive to grow the economy and we’re going to take in the same or more money … We’re gonna grow the economy so much.”

He would cut the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, cut the corporate rate from 35 percent to 15 percent and eliminate the estate tax so the children of billionaires inherit tax-free. (Most of the estate tax falls on economic gains that have never been taxed, as I showed in my book “Perfectly Legal”.) That sounds like more of the tried and failed Republican tax policies of the past 35 years.

Chandra Bozelko: A criminal justice reform bill that doesn’t end mandatory minimums isn’t enough

Too often we forget that our judicial branch is supposed to be a criminal justice system, not a criminal sentencing system: sometimes convictions do not have to be made and sometimes punishments do not have to be severe (depending on the particular facts of the case) in order to achieve justice. But, though we might be moving away from the War on Drugs, it seems that we will continue our war on justice.

On Thursday, the US Senate announced the results of its agreement on a comprehensive reform bill called the Criminal Justice Reform and Corrections Act of 2015. Despite its name, and the growing consensus that such provisions impede rather than improve justice, the bill allows many mandatory minimum sentences to remain in effect – and even adds mandatory minimums for other crimes. But the backstory of a crime can contain complexities, and mandatory minimums don’t allow sentences to be tailored to the circumstances of the situation.

Terry O’Neill: Why the Attacks on Planned Parenthood Keep Failing

When Republican leaders in Washington don’t feel like governing, they attack women’s health care and abortion rights. That’s what happened this week, as a focus on defunding Planned Parenthood jumped to the head of the line in legislative priorities for the House of Representatives. That, and launching vicious personal attacks on Cecile Richards, the organization’s CEO.

But Planned Parenthood is not going down, far from it. In fact, I predict the organization will be both better understood and more admired over the coming months. It’s already starting: a new poll shows not only Planned Parenthood enjoying widespread and deep support, but also politicians who support the organization. [..]

In 1969, during the debate over the law that became Title X, which expanded federal government funding for family-planning services for low-income women, President Nixon said,

   It is clear that the domestic family planning services supported by the Federal Government should be expanded and better integrated. It is my view that no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Breakfast Club (Red Christmas)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgThe Waters of Mars is an episode of the Doctor I rarely re-watch because it’s sad and painful.

The story is set on Mars in the year 2059 where the Doctor encounters the first human colony, Bowie Base One. This is commanded by Captain Adelaide Brooke who turns out to be a pivotal character in the history of humanity. The Doctor must decide whether to use his knowledge of her fate to change history.

The nuclear blast that destroys the base leaves no survivors, but it does galvinize humanity to explore the Universe.  Because the event is so pivotal it is considered a “fixed point” in time, unlike the life of Gillian Taylor who not only gets dumped by Kirk but who’s disappearance from the time stream makes no difference whatsoever.

Thus Galifreyan interlopers are expected not to interfere.  The Doctor, the last Time Lord of Galifrey, the Oncoming Storm who destroys his entire race as well as the Daleks in the holocaust of The Moment, decides he is no longer bound by petty rules of continuity and saves Adelaide and two others.

Time Lord Victorious!

Adelaide, shocked by the potential consequences of what he has done, kills herself.  The Cloister Bells ring.

So, is it better to be like Yuri, Mia, and Gillian- little noted nor long remembered?  Sacrifice yourself over the ravings of a lunatic in a blue box?  And what does this say about the hubris of absolute power, could you be trusted with the future?

Well, not me!  I like pushing buttons and I expect I’d push every last one.  This is why most realistic assessments of time travel that allow you to change events end up with a future in which that no longer works.  It’s the only way to be sure.

On the other hand perceptions are tricky things and perhaps the way we experience reality is not the only one there is.  In physics the rule is that your model is self consistent, that its internal rules not contradict themselves.  It is perfectly possible to imagine such systems, if they exist we will probably never know.

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Science News and Blogs

Science Oriented Video

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

On This Day In History October 1

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 1 is the 274th day of the year (275th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 91 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1946, 12 high-ranking Nazis are sentenced to death by the International War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg. Among those condemned to death by hanging were Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi minister of foreign affairs; Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of the German air force; and Wilhelm Frick, minister of the interior. Seven others, including Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s former deputy, were given prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life. Three others were acquitted.

The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military, held by the main victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany. The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany, in 1945-46, at the Palace of Justice. The first and best known of these trials was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which tried 22 of the most important captured leaders of Nazi Germany. It was held from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. The second set of trials of lesser war criminals was conducted under Control Council Law No. 10 at the US Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT); among them included the Doctors’ Trial and the Judges’ Trial.

The Main Trial

The International Military Tribunal was opened on October 18, 1945, in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg. The first session was presided over by the Soviet judge, Nikitchenko. The prosecution entered indictments against 24 major war criminals and six criminal organizations – the leadership of the Nazi party, the Schutzstaffel (SS) and Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the Gestapo, the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the “General Staff and High Command,” comprising several categories of senior military officers.

The indictments were for:

  1. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of a crime against peace

  2. Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace

  3. War crimes

  4. Crimes against humanity

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Oliver!)

The New Kid

Risk Diss

Trevor, you better not play me.  Here it is the Wattle, the symbol of our land.  You can put it in your pocket.  You can hold it in your hand.  Australia!  Australia!  Australia!

Though America del Sur works almost as well.

Tonight Trevor is hosting that overstuffed sack of pus, Chris Christie, who is, unfortunately, his first political guest.

I say unfortunately because he’s not yet at that 2.5% threshhold of support that will get him a seat at the CNBC adult table with such luminaries as The Donald and I strongly suspect it is but a matter of moments before he retires to New Jersey with his not so unique brand of bullying bluster and makes their lives miserable until they have that good sense to dump him.

This week’s guests-

The New Continuity

Wet Spot

Tonightly we will be talking about Taxes (That’sa where he lives, Dollars Taxes) with panelists Mike Yard, Marina Franklin, and Robert Reich.

The Dancing Man

I must admit I’m really looking forward to this one.  John Oliver kicks ass and chews bubblegum and he’s all out of bubblegum.  Best show of the week and I haven’t even seen it yet.  Stephen’s other guests are Elizabeth Gilbert, and Bill Withers and Ed Sheeran.

This week’s guests-