Friday Reads: Hillary Clinton Takes On Wall Street

It’s Friday!!!

Things continue to be a little crazy around the kathouse but every time I read political news I feel as though the crazy contagion started from politicians and the media that obsess on them.  We’re getting close to 148402_600the first Democratic Presidential Debate so candidates and their proxies are dialing it up to 11.

Former Congressman Barney Frank is on the trail for Hillary Clinton.  He penned an op-ed at Politico at Politico in July in which he said progressives supporting Sanders are basically helping the GOP win.  He also questioned a return to Glass Steagall, as supported by Elizabeth Warren.

In the post, titled “Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Bernie,” the former Massachusetts congressman urged Democratic primary voters to steer clear of his fellow New Englander, warning “wishful thinking won’t win the White House.”

Frank pointed to the gleeful cheerleading of Sanders’ challenge to Hillary Clinton from neoconservatives like Bill Kristol to argue that Sanders only serves to weaken Clinton before her general election match-up. According to Frank, a Sanders candidacy — with his poll number steadily gaining on Clinton’s lead — would only distract from the circus that is the 15-person Republican primary.

You can find this quote and the rest of the article at Politico. 

I believe strongly that the most effective thing liberals and progressives can do to advance our public policy goals — on health care, immigration, financial regulation, reducing income inequality, completing the fight against anti-LGBT discrimination, protecting women’s autonomy in choices about reproduction and other critical matters on which the Democratic and Republican candidates for president will be sharply divided — is to help Clinton win our nomination early in the year. That way, she can focus on what we know will be a tough job: combating the flood of post- Citizens United right-wing money, in an atmosphere in which public skepticism about the effectiveness of public policy is high.

I realize that before explaining why I am convinced that a prolonged prenomination debate about the authenticity of Clinton’s support for progressive policy stances will do us more harm than good, that very point must be addressed. Without any substance, some argue that she has been insufficiently committed to economic and social reform — for example, that she is too close to Wall Street, and consequently soft on financial regulation, and unwilling to support higher taxation on the super-rich. This is wholly without basis. Well before the Sanders candidacy began to draw attention, she spoke out promptly in criticism of the appropriations rider that responded to the big banks’ wish list on derivative trading. She has spoken thoughtfully about further steps against abuses and in favor of taxing hedge funds at a fairer, i.e., higher, rate.

This is reflective of her role in the 1990s, when she was a consistent force for progressive policies in her husband’s administration. And as Paul Krugman documented throughout the 2008 nomination campaign, she was, on the whole, to Barack Obama’s left on domestic issues.

Barney Frank

On Wednesday, Politico published an article by Zachary Warmbrodt that describes how Frank is advising Hillary on her plan for dealing with Wall Street.

Frank told POLITICO on Wednesday that he has been working with campaign staff including Gary Gensler — a key ally in the eyes of Dodd-Frank supporters and often a foe of big banks during his time as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates derivatives markets.

“He was a major formulator in this plan,” Frank said of Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs partner and a Treasury Department official during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

The input of Frank and Gensler could help Clinton’s standing among Democrats aligned with Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, and allay any lingering concerns that Clinton would go easy on a sector that her husband helped deregulate before the 2007-09 crisis that prompted the passage of Dodd-Frank.

Frank had more to say about the notion of bringing back Glass-Steagall.

In Iowa on Tuesday, Clinton gave a brief preview of the direction of the plan, which she said would be released “in the next week.” Clinton was responding to a question about whether she would try to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial and investment banking activities — an idea backed by Warren and Clinton’s Democratic primary competitor Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Clinton said, “Big banks are not the only things we have to worry about.” She said she also wants to target risks among insurance companies, hedge funds and other entities in the so-called shadow banking sector. Clinton added that she was willing to work to change the law to make sure individuals are held accountable for financial wrongdoing.

“What she has proposed is in the spirit of Glass-Steagall but in contemporary terms,” Frank said. “The Glass-Steagall debate is an artificial debate at this point. It’s 85 years old. Most people can see if we had it in effect, it wouldn’t have stopped AIG. It wouldn’t stop subprime mortgages that shouldn’t have been granted.”

Today at Vox, Matthew Yglesias wrote that: Hillary Clinton’s plan to tame big banks shows her at her wonkish best.
Hillary Clinton has often stood accused of pandering or shaping policy proposals for political purposes, but her proposals for improving regulation of the financial system show her doing exactly the opposite — tackling the issue of mega-bank risk in a thoughtful way that is likely to prove politically thankless.

Her idea — not exactly optimized for a 15-second television spot — is to “charge a graduated risk fee every year on the liabilities of banks with more than $50 billion in assets and other financial institutions that are designed by regulators for enhanced oversight,” with fees scaled to be “higher for firms with greater amounts of debt and riskier, short-term forms of debt.”

It’s a mouthful. Banks will hate it. It doesn’t feature a crowd-pleasing, populist applause line. And it’s a pretty great idea.

Hillary Clinton’s risk fee, explained

The problem Clinton is trying to address here is that when a big bank goes bankrupt, it creates huge problems for the broader economy. Because of that, governments have a tendency to prevent big banks from going bankrupt.

And because of that, big banks have a tendency to engage in a riskier pattern of business than you see from other kinds of companies. All companies spend money to make money, but banks finance a much larger share of their spending with borrowed money (as opposed to retained profits) than you see from non-banks. And many banks rely very heavily on short-term borrowing, and fund ongoing operations by counting on their ability to get new short-term loans tomorrow. Financing investments with debt magnifies profits when your bets pay off, but it also magnifies losses when they don’t. Using short-term debt rather than long-term debt lets you pay lower interest rates, but also exposes you to the possibility of unexpectedly finding yourself unable to get the money you need in an emergency situation. Both tendencies magnify risk.

Clinton is proposing to clamp down on those risks by imposing a tax on bank debt.

That compensates the public for the financial cost of bailouts and the social cost of bank failures, while also creating new incentives for banks to manage their affairs in a less risky manner.

Read the rest at the link for more wonky goodness.


Hillary’s plans for Wall Street demonstrate the progressive values she has always had. If you watched TV last night, you probably saw the talking heads carrying on about Hillary’s so-called flip-flops on the Keystone Pipeline and the TPP. The problems these folks have is that they have assume that Hillary and Bill are basically the same person with the same political views. They also refuse to understand that when Hillary was Secretary of State she was working for Obama and had to carry out his policies. Now she’s on her own, and she’s expressing her own views–not Bill Clinton’s or Obama’s.

There’s a great post by Peter Daou at Hillary Men about this: TPP to KXL to WTF! Heads Explode as Hillary Goes Progressive. I hope you’ll read the whole thing. It is a wonderful reflection on how Daou came to be such a strong Hillary supporter and how he came to understand that she is a true progressive. Here’s the conclusion:

In the years I worked for her and in the time since, nothing I saw or heard dissuaded me from my first impression: Hillary is a progressive at heart. I’m perfectly aware that anything she does and any position she takes will get savaged by her detractors, but as a lifelong progressive, I know I’m supporting the candidate who is the most capable of anyone in America to advance the things I care most deeply about. Not Bernie Sanders, who I admire greatly; not Joe Biden, who I also like and respect. Certainly none of the out-of-touch and dangerously narrow-minded Republicans. For that matter, not Barack Obama or Bill Clinton.

Hillary will make an exceptional president. On women’s rights alone, her impact will be history-changing. As the father of a young girl (born during the 2008 campaign), nothing matters more to me.

I’ll conclude with a pithy observation from Lane Hudson, another blogger friend from the early days:

The same people criticizing Hillary for taking a position opposing Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal are the same people who wanted a Warren or Sanders challenge to pull her to the Left.

It’s going to be fun watching the Villagers’ heads explode as Hillary reveals more and more of her true, liberal self.

 What stories are you following today?

Monday Reads: Blood Sport Edition

gop carElection Season continues to close in on us with a number of national policies under consideration and under fire.

It’s time to focus on issues.

Hillary Clinton has introduced her policy prescriptions for sensible gun regulation. They include repealing laws giving legal protection to gun manufacturers and dealers.  Gun manufacturers and gun retailers are the only industry given protection from every circumstance of negligence in product design, sales, and use.  Dealers can sell to anyone and not be held to account.  On-line dealers and gun show dealers bear no legal responsibility for selling to felons or the mentally ill.  Clinton’s position stands in direct conflict with Senator Bernie Sanders’ voting record. Sanders–an independent–is Clinton’s closet challenger in the Democratic Party presidential race. Martin O’Malley–a former Governor and Democrat–also embraces sensible gun control. Of course, the Republicans support a weapons free-for-all.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday detailed new proposalsaimed at closing gun sale loopholes and holding accountable those who sell guns for violence committed with those weapons.

Seizing the moment following last week’s mass shooting in Oregon, Clinton called for the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gives legal protection to gun manufacturers and dealers whose guns are used for criminal activity.

As a senator from New York, Clinton voted against the law in 2005 and, the official said, would lead an effort to repeal it if elected president. Her closest competitor in the Democratic primary, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who served in the U.S. House at the time, voted in favor of it.

Clinton appeared viscerally frustrated as she spoke after Thursday’s shooting at Umpqua Community College, in which authorities say a student killed nine people before turning one of several guns he had with him on himself. “What is wrong with us, that we cannot stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby, and the gun manufacturers they represent?” Clinton said Friday at Broward College in Davie, Florida. “We don’t just need to pray for these people. We need to act.”

In staking out a hardline position on guns, Clinton is capitalizing on an issue where she stands to the left of Sanders. He has a mixed record on gun control—he voted against the Brady Bill in 1993 and for the liability protection law, but also in favor of restrictions on the size of gun magazines—that he attributes to the gun culture of his rural state. He responded to the shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, and in Oregon with promises to implement “sensible gun-control legislation” and to improve mental health services, but has not yet offered specific proposals.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who is trailing Clinton and Sanders in polls, on Sunday in New Hampshire called on his rivals to “join me in building a new consensus” on gun control by supporting his four-point plan, his campaign said.

Could Clinton staking out a position make Gun Control an actual issue in the 2016 presidential primary?  Greg Sargent of the Plum Line discusses the question.124586_600

Clinton’s new plan, which she will discuss on the campaign trail today, includes a raft of ideas: closing loopholes in the background check system; more aggressive action to revoke the licenses of gun dealers who knowingly supply so-called “straw purchasers”; and repealing a law that protects gun manufacturers from liability for gun violence.

But the most controversial aspect of Clinton’s plan is this: She vowed to take executive action to partly close the loophole that allows private sellers to peddle guns without a background check if Congress doesn’t.

Clinton’s campaign says that this could theoretically be accomplished via a new rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that would more clearly define what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. Gun control advocates point out that under federal law, those “engaged in the business” of selling firearms must perform background checks, but federal regulations defining that phrase are too vague, allowing too many gun sales to proceed without such a check. Such federal regs, they say, could be changed through executive action that, for example, would set a clearer threshold defining “engaged in the business” of selling firearms in terms of the number of guns sold.

Arkadi Gerney, a gun policy expert at the Center for American Progress, tells me what Clinton’s new policy proposal means:

“The statute says that anyone engaged in the business of selling firearms must apply for a federal license. Like any other statute where it’s vague, there’s the potential to define it further. You could update the regulation and have a more clear threshold. You couldn’t say, we define ‘engaged in the business’ as anyone who sells a gun ever. But you could change the regulation to be more focused, more narrow, and less vague than it currently is, which makes it very hard to prosecute people who abuse the law and are selling tens and hundreds of guns as private sellers.

“One way you could do this would be to have a clear numerical threshold on the number of gun sales.”

But if Clinton could do this as president, couldn’t Obama do this by executive action right now? Gerney thinks the answer is Yes:

“Clinton’s idea of clarifying further what kind of gun sellers are engaging in business and need to get a license to sell guns is a smart one.  She’s right that the President can do more to define the current law on what level of gun-selling activity triggers the requirement to conduct background checks. And, by putting this idea forward it is something of an implicit challenge to the current administration to move forward along these lines.”

More on this later, but this raises new questions: Is Obama, who has been visibly frustrated by government inaction, thinking of undertaking such an executive action? Will Clinton’s public vow to undertake such action raise the pressure on the administration to do the same?

961a7ef0dc8b6e8f29d4573dd6cf953bIt seems another Columbine-style school massacre was in the planning stage in California.  How can we put an end to these things?

An investigation into a planned shooting at a Tuolumne County school led to the arrests of four male students, deputies said Saturday.

“They were going to come on campus and shoot and kill as many people as possible at the campus,” Tuolumne County Sheriff Jim Mele said.

Investigators with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said administrators at Summerville High School contacted them Wednesday about three students who were making threats against students and faculty.

The investigation included interviews with the students and several searches, and deputies said they were able to identify a fourth student who was also involved in the plan.

“The suspects’ plans was very detailed in nature, and included names of would-be victims, locations, methods in which the plan was to be carried out,” Mele said.

Mele said the students confessed to planning the mass shooting.

They were removed from campus Wednesday after other students at the school noticed suspicious activity and alerted administrators.

“Their willingness to get involved and report what they saw prevented what well could have been another needless tragedy,” Mele said.

Detectives plan to meet with the families of the children whose names were on the hit list to notify them. Among those listening at Saturday’s press conference were parents sick with worry.

Meanwhile, carly Fiorina appears to be challenging Sarah Palin for most stupid answer to a lack of foreign policy credentials.  Palin is well known for explaining that parts of Russia are close to Alaska which was later turned into the Tina Fey’s “I can see Russia from my front porch” lampoon.  Fiorina argues that her Medival History degree will help her contain ISIS.  I can see the political cartoons referencing The Crusades already.   Maybe her plans include holding Rennaisance Festivals in Syria.

For over three decades, Carly Fiorina’s bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in medieval history and philosophy has had little real-world application.

But as she mounts a presidential bid, the Republican candidate says her degree is finally of use as she considers how she would deal with ISIS as commander-in-chief.

“Finally my degree in medieval history and philosophy has come in handy,” Fiorina said Sunday night, “because what ISIS wants to do is drive us back to the Middle Ages, literally.”

Well, the Republican Party should know about policies that derive from the Dark Ages. That explains a lot of Fiorina’s management style at HP.

There is still speculation about a Biden candidacy.  It seems awfully late to get into the race, but the some members in the media seem to be dying for something resembling an internecine battle between CHsKHw0UwAAaJDYDemocrats.  Ed Kilgore haves some Tiger Beat on the Ptomac for breakfast.

It figures that the penultimate Biden’s Running!story comes from Mike “Win the Morning” Allen of Politico, who begins with the trumpet blare of a scoop:

He’s finally close. Confidants of Vice President Joe Biden expect him to make a decision next weekend, or shortly thereafter, on whether to launch an epic battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Several people who have visited Biden recently said he seems to be leaning “yes.”

“Nothing he has heard in the past couple of months has deterred him,” said one Democrat close to the process.

A former Senate colleague of Biden’s said, after visiting the vice president, “He loves what he does, and he has a great deal of confidence that he could contribute in a meaningful way. He’s willing to face, ultimately, having his final political expedition be a defeat.”

Ah, but then Allen starts hedging, and before you know it, the confident trumpets become the kazoo orchestra of mere rumors and guesswork:

One longtime friend said the long windup — and the fact that no staff has been hired — tells its own story.Huh. Didn’t I just read at CNN last week that campaign managers had been lined up for all the early states? Could it be that was just another assertion by the five or six Draft Biden blind quote machines who have been more or less making stuff up for months? But somebody didn’t get the memo:

“If you’re going to run, you run,” the friend said. “Every time he pushes back a decision, that’s the ultimate tell.”

A third recent Biden visitor said: “I can’t see how he can wake up one morning and think some big tidal wave sweeps him in. The raw politics just aren’t there.”

After describing their hunches, friends and advisers almost universally added that they remain unsure which way he’ll go.

But there will be a big announcement any day now, right?

Meanwhile, the real internecine battle is in the Republican House leadership race where right wing extremists are out winging each other.  Who votes for these people?  Oh, never mind.  Steve Scalise–164799_600representative for David Duke Land (aka Jefferson Parish)–is one of our neoconfederates.  Representative Scalies (KKK) says he has the votes to win majority leader.  

The Louisiana Republican held a conference call with backers Sunday evening during which he indicated he’s locked up support from more than half of the 247-member GOP conference. Closed-door voting for the majority leader post is expected on Thursday, though some Republicans are pushing to delay it until after a new Speaker is sworn in.

“I’ve been making calls all day. I haven’t stopped working, and I know you haven’t stopped working either,” Scalise said, according to a source on the call. “In this race, the winning number has always been 124. A couple of days ago, we actually hit that number and we’re continuing to add to it each day.”

Scalise, the current No. 2 Republican in leadership, is squaring off with Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) in the race for GOP leader, a post occupied by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is running for Speaker. Both Scalise and Price are red-state conservatives who previously have served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

Last week, several Republicans tried to draft Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) into the majority leader’s race, but he said he was focused on leading the House panel investigating the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Did I mention he likes to mention he’s “David Duke without the baggage?”
One of the major Congressional whackados is going for Speaker.  You had to know Jason Chaffetz of Utah was after something given his embarassing performance in the Planned Parenthood witch hunt.  Embarassing, non-reality based witch hunts are a Republican Leadership speciality these days.

The bid by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, comes amid unrest from conservatives driven by doubts that McCarthy (Calif.) will be any more inclined than Boehner to embrace the right flank of the House Republican Conference.

Chaffetz said on “Fox News Sunday” that he was “recruited” by members displeased with McCarthy’s ascent and that he would “bridge the divide” in the House GOP

“You don’t just give an automatic promotion to the existing leadership team,” he said. “That doesn’t signal change. I think [House Republicans] want a fresh face and fresh new person who is actually there at the leadership table in the speaker’s role.”

Chaffetz’s remarks not only reflect tensions between conservatives and establishment Republicans, but also concerns about McCarthy’s ability to communicate with the GOP base and the public at large. Those concerns grew after McCarthy made comments last week suggesting that a House investigation into the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, stemmed from political motivations.

“We need somebody who’s out there who is actually going out there and making the case to the American people, talking to the Senate about what we need to do, and going on the national television shows and winning that argument,” Chaffetz said. “We don’t seem to win the argument, and that’s a problem.”

Some one needs to tell Mister Chaffetz that they don’t win the argument because the majority of people in the Senate do not think the Moon is made of Green Cheese because Satan!!!

The frontrunner is no peach either. Remember, this position is third in line to the President.

In spite of the rapid dumbing-down of the GOP (see also Mr. Trump), they continue to churn out more dummies.

Enter Kevin McCarthy. The Bakersfield, California Republican is the most likely conservative white-guy to ascend into John Boehner’s post as Speaker of the House. And he shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near Congress, much less a leadership post.

By now, we’re all aware of McCarthy’s admission that the congressional select committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks is almost exclusively designed to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations.

They say gaffes are merely the truths spoken out loud. This was certainly the case with McCarthy. By the way, we should underscore at this point how McCarthy isn’t just another ambitious member of Congress. He’s the House Majority Leader. So, yes, the House Majority Leader accidentally spilled the beans on one of the longest running scams in congressional history — one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer money since Ken Starr’s probe into President Clinton’s pants-parties.

That’s pretty bad. But McCarthy’s bad week didn’t end there.

Either McCarthy is incapable of reading, or he has the worst speech-writing staff in the history of American politics — and that includes Sarah Palin’s self-authored Patriotic Mad Libs. Three days after Boehner announced his resignation from Congress, McCarthy was propped up for a foreign policy speech before the John Hay Initiative. The ostensible goal was to burnish McCarthy’s political heft, but the exact opposite happened and, frankly, even the dumbest Republicans ought to be embarrassed to caucus with this idiot.

So, that’s my round up of what passes for politics in our country.  To me, the choice couldn’t be clearer.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Friday Reads

1bee80ac1bfdffef45df1a686a62cbecIt’s a great autumn weekend down here in New Orleans!  I hope your day and weather are splendid too!

There’s a lot of news up today but the first thing I want to cover is the clarification made by the Vatican on the Kentucky Bigot Brigrade and the supposed papal visit.  It looks like we have a case of extreme exaggeration or “telling a whopper” as we like to call it in my neck of the woods.

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis did not invite Kim Davis to meet him. There was no secret meeting, and the Pope had no idea who she was when he met her.

In a statement, the Vatican clarified that Pope Francis didn’t even know who Kim Davis was:

The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:

Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.

The Pope briefly met Kim Davis as part of a group, had no idea who she was, said hello to her, and moved on.

The Vatican’s version of events is the opposite of what Davis’s supporters are claiming happened. The anti-gay marriage crowd claimed that the Pope met with Davis in secret and expressed his support for her bigotry. The right has been using the imaginary meeting as an endorsement of their out of step views.

The extremist conservative movement’s attempt to use Pope Francis for propaganda purposes has fallen apart. Davis’s invitation had been extended by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the envoy in Washington. Viganò is well known to have gone further than others in the church in his campaign against gay marriage. The Pope did not invite Davis to meet him. In fact, according to the Vatican, Pope Francis had not been briefed on the situation and knew nothing about Davis.

The fact that the Vatican took such pains to distance themselves from Davis could logically be viewed as a rejection of her beliefs.

So, hopefully the Archbishop will be called to the Vatican woodshed and there will be a great big huge discussion on rending unto Caesargrid-cell-18637-1405708438-24 that which is Caesar’s.  Either way, the Kentucky Bigot Brigade appears to following the usual tradition of lying your way to to what you think gawd wants.

Yet another abortion advocate is the target of death threats from the “pro-life” set.  I’ve had all kinds of run ins with these folks over a period of about 30 years and it always ends in threats of violence.  Lies and violence are their trademarks.

A few weeks ago, writers Amelia Bonow and Lindy West began the hashtag campaign #ShoutYourAbortion to encourage the one in three women who have had an abortion to speak out about their experience instead of being shamed into silence. Then came the death threats.

Bonow told the New York Times that the idea behind the campaign wasn’t to glorify the procedure, but instead to destigmatize it during a time when people are so angry about the topic they’re setting Planned Parenthood clinics on fire.

“A shout is not a celebration or a value judgment, it’s the opposite of a whisper, of silence,” Bonow told the Times. “Even women who support abortion rights have been silent, and told they were supposed to feel bad about having an abortion.”

In a social-media world that’s this upsetting and dangerous, no wonder some celebrities hire Twitter surrogates.

Increased violence against Planned Parenthood Clinics is on the FBI’s radar and has come about as the result of the intense lying of Congressional Republicans and idiots like Republican Presidential Wannabe Fiorina. Nothing ever good comes from whipping up a bunch of religious fanatics.  Check the Middle East region if you need further proof.

As the national conversation on Planned Parenthood has become louder and more heated, politicians have warned that it could ignite acts of violence against clinics and neighborhood facilities.

Late Wednesday, for the second time in weeks, a Planned Parenthood center in Thousand Oaks came under attack, this time by an arsonist or arsonists who authorities believe smashed out a window, splashed gasoline inside the clinic and then ignited it.

Authorities say there’s no evidence the attack was related to the larger debate on Planned Parenthood, but said the West Hillcrest Drive facility was previously attacked by vandals six weeks ago.

No direct theats had been made to the facility or clinic workers before the fire, said Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. John Reilly.

A few plants near the window were blackened, but the small fire had been extinguished quickly because of a sprinkler system, Lohman said.

a57489e8e9b51705244f3519fadb76dbA fire in a Washington State Planned Parenthood that happened in early September was already ruled arson.  As previously mentioned, the FBI is warning local law enforcement of the possibility of increased domestic terrorist activites aimed at Planned Parenthood.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned of an increasing number of attacks on reproductive healthcare facilities. “It is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities,” an FBI Intelligence Assessment reads,according to a CBS report Friday.

The finding comes after a July video from the pro-life Center for Medical Progress, which releasedsecretly taped footage of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they use tissues from aborted fetuses for medical research.

Since then, federal investigators have reported nine criminal or suspicious incidents at reproductive health centers across the country, which included cyberattacks, threats and arson. The FBI believes the incidents were “consistent with the actions of lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement,” sources told CBS.

12277179b4bd15de4070b1c14c3f6d83So, this is in keeping with the latest mass shooting whose perpetrator is a self-confessed NAZI and “conservative Republican” who disliked “organized religion”.   Chris Harper Mercer is yet another example of a lone wolf, young white male shooter with mental illness issues. 

Mr. Mercer appeared to have sought community on the Internet. A picture of him holding a rifle appeared on a MySpace page with a post expressing a deep interest in the Irish Republican Army. It included footage from the conflict in Northern Ireland set to “The Men Behind the Wire,” an Irish republican song, and several pictures of gunmen in black balaclavas. Another picture showed the front page of An Phoblacht, the party newspaper of Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the I.R.A.

A picture of Mr. Mercer also appeared on a long-dormant dating website profile registered in Los Angeles. On it, he described himself as an “introvert” with a dislike for “organized religion.”

In the offline world, Mr. Mercer’s mother sought to protect him from all manner of neighborhood annoyances, former neighbors in Torrance said, from loud children and barking dogs to household pests. Once, neighbors said, she went door-to-door with a petition to get the landlord to exterminate cockroaches in her apartment, saying they bothered her son.

“She said, ‘My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him,’ ” Julia Winstead, 55, said. “She said they were going to go stay in a motel. Until that time, I didn’t know she had a son.”

We’ve said this before, but American’s gun fetish is causing our country to look like some kind of throwback to the Stone Age.  Except, 06b00848ebc42841b77839ed82e51815stone axes can kill one person. Sophisticated guns kill millions of Americans.  Here’s “America’s fucking awful, truly unique gun violence problem,visualized” per Ezra Klein.

Whenever a mass shooting occurs, supporters of gun rights often argue that it’s inappropriate to bring up political debates about gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy. For example, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a strong supporter of gun rights, criticized President Barack Obama for “trying to score cheap political points” when the president mentioned gun control after a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

But if this argument is followed to its logical end, then it will never be the right time to discuss mass shootings, as Christopher Ingraham pointed out at the Washington Post. Under the Mass Shooting Tracker’s definition of mass shootings, America has nearly one mass shooting a day. So if lawmakers are forced to wait for a time when there isn’t a mass shooting to talk gun control, they could find themselves waiting for a very long time.

We’ll undoubtedly see more stories blaming mental illness.  But is it the real issue in these domestic terrorist situation?  Read this great rant by Arthur Chu on Salon.

I get really really tired of hearing the phrase “mental illness” thrown around as a way to avoid saying other terms like “toxic masculinity,” “white supremacy,” “misogyny” or “racism.”

We barely know anything about the suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina, atrocity. We certainly don’t have testimony from a mental health professional responsible for his care that he suffered from any specific mental illness, or that he suffered from a mental illness at all.
We do have statistics showing that the vast majority of people who commit acts of violence do not have a diagnosis of mental illness and, conversely, people who have mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.

We know that the stigma of people who suffer from mental illness as scary, dangerous potential murderers hurts people every single day — it costs people relationships and jobs, it scares people away from seeking help who need it, it brings shame and fear down on the heads of people who already have it bad enough.

But the media insists on trotting out “mental illness” and blaring out that phrase nonstop in the wake of any mass killing. I had to grit my teeth every time I personally debated someone defaulting to the mindless mantra of “The real issue is mental illness” over the Isla Vista shootings.

“The real issue is mental illness” is a goddamn cop-out. I almost never hear it from actual mental health professionals, or advocates working in the mental health sphere, or anyone who actually has any kind of informed opinion on mental health or serious policy proposals for how to improve our treatment of the mentally ill in this country.

There are so many ways to see how our country is marching backwards from modernity that it sometimes makes my head 18536e6732f186631f4e82093ab9a17dhurt badly.  This is Hillary on Alabama’s attempt to remove DMVs and access to picture IDS in their counties that are majority black. Alabama is trying to reinstate Jim Crow just as every Republican in Congress wants us back to the days before Birth Control and Abortion was legal and acessible.  

Hillary Clinton slammed the closure of 31 driver’s license offices in Alabama — many in majority-black counties — as “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”

The closures, announced this week, hit majority-black counties especially hard. Under Alabama’s new tougher version of its voter ID law, voters must have a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to vote. Every Alabama county with at least 75 percent African American registered voters will lose its DMV office, according to local reports.

“This is only going to make it harder for people to vote,” Clinton said in a statement Friday. “It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.”

Clinton has made voting rights a major platform of her presidential campaign. Alabama has defended the DMV closures, saying that there are other options for residents to obtain an ID that will enable them to vote.

Read Clinton’s full statement below:

“I strongly oppose Alabama’s decision to close driver’s license offices across the state, especially in counties that have a significant majority of African Americans. Just a few years ago, Alabama passed a law requiring citizens to have a photo ID to vote. Now they’re shutting down places where people get those photo IDs. This is only going to make it harder for people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.

“We’re better than this. We should be encouraging more Americans to vote, not making voting harder. As President, I’ll push for automatic voter registration for every American when they turn 18, and a new national standard of at least 20 days of early in-person voting in every state. And I’ll work with Congress to restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act.

“African Americans fought for the right to vote in the face of unthinkable hatred. They stood up and were beaten down, marched and were turned back. Some were even killed. But in the end, the forces of justice overcame. Alabama should do the right thing. It should reverse this decision. And it should start protecting the franchise for every single voter, no matter the color of their skin.”

It may be time to take to the streets again.

The cell phones in the pockets of the dead students were still ringing when we were told that it was wrong to ask why. As the police cleared the bodies from the Virginia Tech engineering building, the cell phones rang, in the eccentric varieties of ring tones, as parents kept trying to see if their children were OK. To imagine the feelings of the police as they carried the bodies and heard the ringing is heartrending; to imagine the feelings of the parents who were calling — dread, desperate hope for a sudden answer and the bliss of reassurance, dawning grief — is unbearable. But the parents, and the rest of us, were told that it was not the right moment to ask how the shooting had happened — specifically, why an obviously disturbed student, with a history of mental illness, was able to buy guns whose essential purpose is to kill people — and why it happens over and over again in America. At a press conference, Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, said, “People who want to … make it their political hobby horse to ride, I’ve got nothing but loathing for them. … At this point, what it’s about is comforting family members … and helping this community heal. And so to those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Monday Reads: Is there Life on Mars?

blood moon

Did you see the Blood Super Moon last night?

Last night, one of the most amazing astronomical events happened.

 Sky-watchers from the Americas to western Europe enjoy a rare astronomical event in which the moon appears to redden in the night sky – a ‘blood moon’. It is the result

NASA has a site up with some fantastic pictures if you’d like to see what some great lens and photography can do for an event like this.  You can also read about NASA’s amazing find.  There is briny water on Mars which portends the finding of some kind of Martian life.  It’s actually flowing!

So the news is that there is flowing water on Mars. The evidence comes from dark streaks that appear on the surface of the Red Planet. These have been known about for many years because the landscape has been seen to change on successive images taken by spacecraft orbiting Mars. Although flowing water has always been a possibility for their creation, other ideas such as the movement of dry ice (carbon dioxide) or the action of the wind, could not be ruled out.

Now, however, strong evidence for them being driven by water has been collected by an instrument called CRISM on board Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It has seen the signature of salts known as perchlorates in the dark streaks. These indicate that flowing salty water is responsible for the markings.

In light of this discovery, the search is on for finding where this Mars water is coming from, how it finds its way to the surface and how much of it is down there? There is much we do not know: previous radar studies from Europe’s Mars Express spacecraft had come up empty handed when looking for underground aquifers of water. So where is the water hiding?

Down here on earth, intelligent life forms–the majority of America–do not want Planned Parenthood defunded.  15ec9643c5

Nearly seven in 10 Americans — 69 percent — oppose shutting down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood, according to the results of a new national Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

Just 23 percent support closing the government over the dispute. Even among Republicans, a majority of 56 percent to 36 percent opposes a shutdown due to Planned Parenthood.

At the same time, 44 percent to 39 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, with a significant gender gap. Among women, 50 percent to 35 percent approve of the group, while men disapprove, 43 percent to 38 percent.

But as far as cutting off funding to the group, 52 percent said they would oppose doing so, compared with 41 percent who supported such an action. Women opposed such an action by a wide margin — 60 percent to 34 percent — while men responding to the survey supported an end to federal funding 49 percent to 44 percent.

Paul Krugman refers to the the scorched-earth policy of the Republicans as damaging to American credibility abroad and to the economy at home.  He also calls them the Blackmail Party.

In other words, despite all Mr. Boehner’s efforts to bring him down, Mr. Obama is looking more and more like a highly successful president. For the base, which has never considered Mr. Obama legitimate — polling suggests that many Republicans believe that he wasn’t even born here — this is a nightmare. And all too many ambitious Republican politicians are willing to tell the base that it’s Mr. Boehner’s fault, that he just didn’t try blackmail hard enough

This is nonsense, of course. In fact, the controversy over Planned Parenthood that probably triggered the Boehner exit — shut down the government in response to obviously doctored videos? — might have been custom-designed to illustrate just how crazy the G.O.P.’s extremists have become, how unrealistic they are about what confrontational politics can accomplish.

But Republican leaders who have encouraged the base to believe all kinds of untrue things are in no position to start preaching political rationality.

epa04691820 A lunar eclipse is seen from Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday, 04 April 2015. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon on its way around the Earth moves through the planet's shadow cast by the sun in opposing position. EPA/DAVID CROSLING AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Meanwhile, Boehner talks about the lesser angels–or perhaps more apt, larger demons--left to do the dirty work in the caucus.  He called them “false prophets” which far kinder than they deserve.

Visibly exasperated, Boehner said his top accomplishments as speaker – including the first major entitlement reform in decades, and deficit reduction – “all were voted against by my most conservative members because it wasn’t good enough. Really? This is the part I really don’t understand.

“Our founders didn’t want some parliamentary system where if you won the majority you got to do whatever you wanted,” he added. “They wanted this long, slow process. And so change comes slowly. And obviously too slowly for some.”

Asked if his critics on the right are unrealistic, Boehner exclaimed, “Absolutely they’re unrealistic!”

So, will things get worse or better sans the Orange Dude?3500

Democrats in both chambers say Boehner’s resignation has given them a sinking feeling ahead of the hard negotiations slated for later this fall.

“I’m afraid that it may make things much worse. John Boehner is a good and decent man. I’ve known him since he’s been in the Congress and he’s trying to do his very, very best,” Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) told MSNBC.

The outside groups that constantly attacked Boehner immediately said they expect more from his successor.

“We have a reset. Now the challenge is will whoever takes John Boehner’s job understand that dynamic and be aggressive in trying to put forth conservative policy and fighting for that conservative policy,” said Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action for America.

No matter who is the next Speaker, he or she will face a difficult task in reaching deals with Obama on spending levels, the debt ceiling and a host of other issues.

Before Boehner’s announcement, some had faint hopes that a lame-duck president and Speaker might be able to work out a deal. Those hopes came crashing down on Friday.

“There’s a building sense among some in the administration and on the Hill that a bigger package could have been put together in a December, but now I don’t think anyone thinks that’s possible,” said Jim Manley, a former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

If Congress is able to agree to a short-term spending bill this week, its next challenge may be reaching an agreement on a measure to keep the government operating through the next fiscal year.

Democrats want to lift the spending ceilings agreed to as part of a 2011 budget deal, and some Republicans are interested in a deal if it increases defense spending.

Holler, however, said conservatives would put heavy pressure on Boehner’s successor to not agree to any such deal.

“I would certainly think that as members are meeting with folks who are interested in having that job, that’s going to be one of the questions they ask,” Holler said of proposals to break the caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Even something supported by many centrist Republicans, such as extending expiring tax provisions, could be thrown into jeopardy.

One conservative aide called the package of tax provisions “cronyism,” adding, “It’s not a good image, bailing out Wall Street at Main Street’s expense.”

The Export-Import Bank’s authority lapsed over the summer. Boehner was a supporter of the bank, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the favorite to succeed him, is not.

The GOP establishment has been troubled by Boehner’s rocky tenure in the House, and many elder Republicans said they are worried about the trend in their party.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) cheered Boehner’s demise at a Values Voter Summit Friday in Washington, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who, like Cruz, is running for president, said McConnell should be next.

 Meanwhile, there are some pretty weird people lining up for the overall of Republican Leadership in the House.  Okay, weird is simply too nice.  There are all kinds of whackadoos lined up including “Check out my White Sheets” Scalise.

All manner of knuckle-draggers want be the next Speaker of the House. Where is Dennis Hastert now that you really need him? Oh, yeah, never mind.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is quietly locking down support to be the next House speaker, is privately assuring Republicans he’ll take a tougher stand against the White House — and also the Senate GOP leadership, according to people familiar with the talks.

Oh yeah, it can get worse. Even their “moderate candidate” wants blood on the floor.

Another funny name I saw mentioned is Pistol Pete Sessions from Texas. OhHoly Crap. The guy is also known asCaptain Stupid. But there’s also the possibility that he’ll be a hairdresser’s dream.Best Pete Sessions?

Just hours after federal agents charged banker Allen Stanford with fleecing investors of $7 billion, the disgraced financier received a message from one of Congress’ most powerful members, Pete Sessions.

“I love you and believe in you,” said the e-mail sent on Feb. 17. “If you want my ear/voice — e-mail,” it said, signed “Pete.”

He’s a crate of crazy, Honey.Oh yeah, pick him! Pick him!

Maybe I should consider signing up for the next Mars Mission.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Friday Reads: Boehner’s Short Goodbye

Good Morning!


Speaker Boehner just announced he will be retiring his seat and plans to quit the speakership. The embattled Speaker was facing yet another grueling fight over mundane financing issues from the radical right wing of his party.

Speaker John Boehner plans to resign from Congress in late October, he told member of his conference Friday morning in a closed door meeting, according to multiple reports emerging from the meeting room.

Boehner is second in line to the presidency, after Vice President Joe Biden. He was first elected to Congress in 1990. He has served as speaker since Republicans took control of the House in 2011.

Boehner was meeting with his conferenceto discuss plans to avert a government shutdown, looming next week. The speaker was under enormous pressure to keep the government open and satisfy conservative members of the conference who were refusing to vote for any bill that would provide funds for Planned Parenthood.

You’re in trouble when a member of your own caucus from your own state tries to find a candidate to primary you.

Republican sources say an ally of Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) has attempted to recruit a primary challenger against the GOP lawmaker who introduced a measure to oust the Speaker.

Three senior GOP sources told The Hill they’ve heard Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) has reached out to Republicans in North Carolina’s 11th District to gauge their interest in launching a primary challenge against Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).

Meadows is a Tea Party favorite who generated national headlines this summer after floating a plan to depose Boehner. McHenry is the chief deputy whip and a member of Boehner’s leadership team.

Boehner has been having his usual trouble with the party’s extremist religious right who is trying to defund Planned Parenthood and had threatened to shut down the government. The Senate has shutdown that possibility.

Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress on Thursday began advancing bills urgently needed to avoid federal agency shutdowns on Oct. 1 while navigating conservatives’ demands to punish Planned Parenthood over an abortion controversy.

The Senate defeated Republican efforts to use a funding extension bill to cut off money to Planned Parenthood, clearing the way for a version without that provision that extends all previous funding through Dec. 11.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has set the first procedural vote on that measure for Monday, two days before the federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

I’m posting this so we can follow up with some live updates as they happen. So far, no names to replace the Speaker have been mentioned in the media,

Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!

$_1Well, I really didn’t think I’d end up writing my next morning reads about Scott Walker although we’ve covered his reign of terror in Wisconsin quite a bit.  It appears the Koch sponsored Governors are not doing very well this year.  Walker’s coffers were full of funds but his campaign was as empty as bucket with a hole much like his rhetoric and ideology.

After a dramatic fall from the top tier of Republican presidential candidates over the last several weeks, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ended his bid for the White House Monday.

“Today, I believe that I’m being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field,” Walker announced at a press conference in Madison, Wisconsin on Monday. “With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.”

“I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same, so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front runner,” Walker went on to say, referring to current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

Walker’s run started on July 13 and lasted 71 days.

The move comes just two months after polls showed Walker leadingTrump in the crucial, first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa. Many pundits considered Walker to be a favorite for GOP nomination after his successful recall election in Wisconsin in 2012 and his establishment support.

But over the last several weeks, Walker has fallen dramatically in national polls, registering at less than 0.5 percent in the latest national CNN/ORC poll this weekend. In Iowa, where for much of the year Walker was considered the favorite to win the first in the nation caucuses, Walker slid from 19 percent to 5 percent in just six weeks of NBC News/Marist polling.

Walker first gained attention in Iowa for a speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January. But after riding high in the polls in that state for over half the year, Walker was outpaced in the polls following a lackluster performance in the first televised Republican debate.

Walker, never having graduated college, pitched himself as an outsider to Washington and argued that the next president needed to be a governor.

Walker’s governorship was ideological from the get go. Anyone with a critical eye toward results can see the damage he’s done to Wisconsin.   Kansasil_214x170.606870553_gs4t and Louisiana also stand out as failed states in the ALEC/Koch style.  It’s not like any of these guys can run on a successful economy or stewardship of their state’s funds. Walker’s jihad against teachers and police officers and their unions took on a nasty tone.  His actions spoke far louder than his words on the campaign trail.  I found his debate manner insipid. Even one of his slighted former campaign aids said he tried to please every one and came off as having no real core ideals.  

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whose early glow as a Republican presidential contender was snuffed out with the rise of anti-establishment rivals, announced Monday that he was quitting the race and urged some of his 15 rivals to do the same so the party could unite against the leading candidate, Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Walker’s pointed rebuke of Mr. Trump gave powerful voice to the private fears of many Republicans that the party risked alienating large parts of the electorate — Hispanics, women, immigrants, veterans, and most recently, Muslims — if Mr. Trump continued vilifying or mocking them as part of his overtures to angry and disaffected voters.

Still, Mr. Walker’s exit was not a selfless sacrifice: He was running low on campaign cash, sliding sharply in opinion polls, losing potential donors to rivals and unnerving supporters with a stream of gaffes, like saying he would consider building a wall along the Canadian border.

Appearing ashen and drained at a brief news conference late Monday in Madison, Mr. Walker said the Republican presidential field was too focused on “how bad things are” rather than on “how we can make them better for everyone.” Without naming Mr. Trump, Mr. Walker issued a plea to fellow candidates to coalesce around a different Republican who could offer a more “optimistic” vision and guide the party to a victory next year that, he admitted with sadness in his voice, he could not achieve himself.

The Great Wall of Canada may have been the first whiff of how absolutely clueless the man was on the world outside.  What was he planning on doing?  Stopping Americans from getting cheap Canadian drugs?

GutsNutsHis last speech was a rail against big labor. That’s hardly a zinger in a country where labor membership can’t get much lower.

Walker’s decision to quit followed two lackluster debate appearances, tepid fundraising and several statements that attracted a flurry of negative headlines, including those that followed the candidate’s assertion that building a wall along the Canadian border was a possibility that deserved further examination. It may have also been hurt by the fact that Walker is essentially a life-long politician in an election season in which Americans are so far embracing outsiders.

While Walker’s union-bashing record provided his ticket into the race, the narrative that brought him headlines and donors didn’t prove to be a white-hot issue. At a time when organized labor is already losing membership, reducing its clout hasn’t been a top national priority for most Republicans. In the first debate on Aug. 6, the word “union” was used just three times, and only once by Walker, in his closing statement.

“I took on the big-government union bosses, and we won,” said Walker, who saw his state and national poll numbers fall almost as soon as Trump entered the race. “They tried to recall me, and we won. They targeted us again, and we won.”

The references were to Walker’s 2011 fight with public-sector unions, as well as his 2012 recall and 2014 general election victories, both contests that included heavy union spending against him. His ability to remain “unintimidated” in those battles has become a central theme of Walker’s campaign.

On the campaign trail, however, Walker wasn’t that intimidating. In an often monotone Midwestern voice, his speeches virtually never changed and he wasn’t as quick on his feet in interviews or during debates as some of his opponents. While he worked extremely hard to stress his common-man credentials, seemingly making almost continuous references to his love of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, it also kept him from looking presidential.

6532890991_0befd2f40cHe just couldn’t hold a candle to The Donald.  Or, so he says and they say …

But Walker began the 2016 campaign season in a promising spot. He had a record of fighting for conservative priorities in Wisconsin in a way that impressed both the GOP’s base and its elites. Since he wasn’t so identified with pro-immigration policies as Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, it seemed to some that he was well-positioned to unite the party’s disparate factions. And despite some early rockiness on policy issues, Walker took the lead in Iowa caucus polls in mid-February, and held it for the next five and a half months.

Then Hurricane Trump rolled in. The billionaire’s showmanship and disdain for what he called “political correctness” on the topic of unauthorized immigration excited the Republican right, and powered him to the front of polls nationally and in Iowa.

In comparison, Walker looked like a typical politician, had an unimpressive speaking style, and failed to stand out from the crowd in the two debates so far. In last week’s second debate, the Wisconsin governor spoke the least of any candidate, and twopost-debate surveys asking Republican voters who won this week’s debate found Walker in last place of the 11 primetime debaters. After the first debate, he plummeted in the polls both in Iowa and nationally. Currently, he’s in 11th place nationally and in 7th place in Iowa, according to RealClearPolitics’s poll averages.

There are some other candidates that are on the ropes but seem oblivious to their problems.   Hillary was in Baton Rouge yesterday. Jindal challenged her to debate health care with him. Instead,  she took the stage and left him to his less than 1% standing in the polls among Republican voters.  She’s not backing down on the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Hillary Clinton defended President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, during a campaign stop in Baton Rouge on Monday and took aim at her Republican rivals who say they want to repeal “Obamacare.”

“It’s not just a political issue, it’s a moral issue,” the Democratic presidential front-runner told a crowd of 1,200 cheering supporters and schoolchildren at the Louisiana Leadership Institute.

Attendees circulated volunteer sign-up sheets and texted their information to the campaign during the rally, which was the first of several stops on Clinton’s latest effort to campaign on the importance of the federal health care law and her plans to protect and build on it.

“I’m not going to let them tear up that law, kick 16 million people off their coverage and force the country to start the health care debate all over again,” she said as supporters waved bright blue “Hillary” signs.

Clinton won several bouts of applause from the friendly crowd, particularly as she took jabs at Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, both Republicans.

Jindal, who is seeking the GOP nomination for president, has been a vocal opponent of Obamacare and has repeatedly called for its repeal. He also blocked the state from expanding its Medicaid program for the poor and uninsured through an optional piece of the federal health care law — a point that Clinton was quick to point out.

“He put ideology ahead of the well-being of the people and the families in this state,” Clinton said, noting that some 190,000 people in Louisiana would have been eligible for Medicaid if Jindal had supported expansion.

The ACA has faced near constant backlash from many Republicans since it was signed into law in 2010. Jindal, through his America Next policy group, released hisown proposal to repeal the law and replace it last year.

But Clinton said such a move would be too disruptive and vowed to fight any effort to repeal the law, if elected.

“I want to build on the progress we’ve made. I’ll do more,” she said.

Clinton said she would announce a plan this week to further address health care costs, including rising drug prices.

The equity markets are evidently betting on Hillary.  The viral story of the day was of a dudebro hedge fund manager who bought aimages (4) drug on the cheap and hiked its price to the stratosphere.  Hillary demanded investigation in to price gouging and the entire industry felt the discipline of the market and the expectation she’d do it too.  One company who’d gotten a patent from a non profit associate with Perdue for a Tuberculous drug wound up with the patent deal rescinded.  The dudebro’s move still stands for the time being.

Mania-prone biotech stocks were in the market’s doghouse Monday, after a 21-word tweet from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ripping a drug company’s pricing policy sparked a sharp selloff for the group.

Referencing a New York Times report on a steep price hike for a drug recently acquired by Turing Pharmaceuticals, Clinton lambasted the often-astronomical price tags for specialty drugs being developed by biotech and pharmaceutical companies and pledged to provide a plan to keep such therapeutic costs in check.

You can read more about both situations here.

A huge overnight price increase for an important tuberculosis drug has been rescinded after the company that acquired the drug gave it back to its previous owner under pressure, it was announced on Monday.

However, outrage over a gigantic price increase for another drug spread into the political sphere on Monday, causing biotechnology stocks to fall broadly as investors worried about possible government action to control pharmaceutical prices. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell more than 4 percent.

“Price-gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous,” Hillary Rodham Clinton, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, said in a tweet on Monday. She said she would announce a plan on Tuesday to deal with rising drug prices.

Ms. Clinton was referring to the actions of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which last month acquired Daraprim, a 62-year-old drug used to treat a serious parasitic infection, and raised its price to $750 per tablet, from $13.50.

It’s really interesting to watch the difference between a campaign on fire and one going doing in flames.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

It’s Saturday Night!

MOV_49725bec_bI’m so far behind on everything it’s not even funny!  

You name it!  I’m behind on it!  Bills!  Grading!  Cleaning!  Laundry!

There’s actually a lot of things to avoid these days unless you want to be made terrifically anxious.

For example, you could read all about the Republicans bitching about persecution of Christians in this country while jumping all over on the Pope’s case for being critical of capitalism and appreciating the science behind global warming.  I mean that really makes sense, doesn’t it?  Scream about Christian persecution while berating a Pope?  

George F Will is still alive and working but for some reason he can’t afford a new hair helmut, schtick or headshot. They all must be at least 40 years old at this link from WAPO. However, his complaints are straight out of the good old days.  He’s got a set of really stranger than usual argments and I say that knowing full well that most of his arguments are always strange and unusual.  George, a pope with red gucci shoes has “flamboyance”. One with science degrees and a realistic take on climate change has gravitas.  

Why is George F Will persecuting christians?

Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.

Hey, I’m not a fan of any organized religion but any one whose magical thinking includes a good dose of science is better than one that’s all magical thinking and lies.

Meawhile, my book club is reading The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case which is educating me on things I never knew about the Reconstruction period.

The case was combustible. Two mixed-race women, abetted by the son of one of them, stood accused of kidnapping a blonde, blue-eyed white baby girl in New Orleans in 1870. How did it end? Author Michael Ross expertly keeps readers in suspense as he weaves this true tale of crime, culture, politics, and colorful Southern characters — including a riverboat captain, “mulatresses,” and a precedent-setting Afro-Creole detective.

The case began on the afternoon of June 9, 1870, when Bridgette Digby sent her 10-year-old son, Georgie, and toddler daughter Mollie outside to play under the supervision of a teenage babysitter. Two stylish, fair-skinned African-American women happened to be strolling by. As they stopped to admire Mollie, a fire broke out a few blocks away, and the excited babysitter asked Georgie to hold his sister while she ran to watch the fire.

“No bubby, I will take the baby,” one of the women said. The women asked Georgie to lead them to the home of a certain neighbor. Once there, they told Georgie it was the wrong house, and then sent him to the market to buy a treat for his sister. A heart-stopping shock awaited Georgie when he came out of the market. The women were gone, and so was his baby sister.

In the era of post-Civil War Radical Reconstruction, the Digby kidnapping case quickly became the focus of public fears and sensationalistic press coverage. Louisiana Governor Henry Clay Warmouth, a young Union army veteran from Illinois, saw the case as an opportunity to demonstrate to skeptics the professionalism of the newly integrated New Orleans police department. When Afro-Creole detective John Baptiste Jourdain was assigned to the investigation, he became the first black sleuth in the nation to work such a prominent case.

Leads poured in. Detective Jourdain, who sometimes donned a disguise, and other investigators questioned mulatto women, nursemaids, voodoopractitioners, even a clairvoyant, all without success. Then, nearly two months after Mollie Digby disappeared, acting on a tip, Detective Jourdain and other police officers went to the home of an “attractive mulatto woman,” Ellen Follin, who, like Jourdain, was Afro-Creole. She denied having the child, but a suspicious Jourdain threatened to have everyone in the house arrested unless she produced Mollie soon.

Within two days, former riverboat captain James Broadwell, who was white, appeared on the Digbys’ doorstep. “I think I have your child,” he informed Mollie’s father. A black woman friend of the Broadwells had allegedly asked the captain to return the baby who, she claimed, had been left at her gate by a veiled white woman. The Broadwells’ friend was none other than Ellen Follin. With Mollie’s safe return, Follin, her son, and her sister were all arrested on kidnapping charges. (The arrest date for the sister differs from page to page, one of very few discordant notes in this otherwise well-researched narrative.)

Here’s a bit about that with photos.  It was a fun discussion today and I look forward to the next two where we try to sort more things out.

I’m trying to head to Baton Rouge on Monday Morning to attend an organizing event with Hillary Clinton and members of the campaign.  Hopefully, I can work out the logistics but my grade are due on Thursday and as I said, I’m very behind on everything.  You’ll know if I do because I will post pictures.

So, anyway, this is just a short open thread!

Have a great night!!!