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Kansas Murder Suspect Is Hate Leader Who Cut Deal With Feds

Huffingon Post Politics - Mon, 2014-04-14 03:22
An Anti-Semite To The Core, But Tainted By Plea Deal
Frasier Glenn Cross, 73, the alleged triple murderer who defiantly yelled "Heil Hitler" from the back of a rain spattered patrol car in Overland Park, KS on Sunday afternoon is a notorious, though exiled, hate group leader with a criminal record that dates back decades. He allegedly shot two people dead at a parking lot outside of a Jewish Community Center there Sunday, on the day before the Jewish holiday of Passover, and one week before Hitler's birthday. The Associated Press has identified the two Christian victims killed there as Dr. William Lewis Capron, and his 14 year old grandson, Reat Griffin, a freshman at a local high school. Another female was killed shortly thereafter at Village Shalom, a Jewish retirement home nearby. President Obama labeled the events "heartbreaking" and committed federal resources to the investigation.

Cross, also known, as Frasier Glenn Miller led a North Carolina Klan Group before founding the White Patriot Party. A former Virginian and North Carolinian, he resides in Aurora, Missouri. He was a key figure in the militarization and Nazifaction of the Klan in the 1980s. His subsequent deal with federal prosecutors to testify against other extremists made him the target of derision in a mostly unforgiving movement.

In his seventies and shuffled to the sidelines by mainstream society and pronounced a traitor by much of the hate world that once embraced him, Miller's attack could be a desperate and pathetic swan song that is not simply about the promotion of violent hate. On a more selfish level, it could also be a last, though deadly, whimper for relevance or rehabilitation, in an increasingly leaderless hate world where violence is the remaining dog whistle for a shrinking core of the bigoted civilly illiterate.

The hateful horrendous acts were presaged by words in his 2002 publication "A White Man Speaks Out", where he urges a race war against Jews:

The Jews have greatly damaged you morally and spiritually, but your genes are unblemished.

We have been the same race for a thousand generations, since before our common forefather, who with his sons and daughters in tow, crossed westwards the entire width of Western China and Europe with nothing but his battle axe and his will to live to sustain him. The racial chain binding us to him has never been broken. A thousand generations of the White Aryan Race.

Preserving this chain and passing it intact to generations-to-come is the true purpose of life itself. Everything else pales to meaninglessness or religious lunacy in comparison.

Twenty million Jews (that's all there are in the world); these swarthy, hairy, bow-legged, beady-eyed, hooked-nosed, parasitic midgets; now swear to the world that this time, the White Aryan Race will be wiped from the face of the Earth, drowned forever in a sea of colored mongrels.

My generation is beaten. But the youth and the generation to come can win, but only if they come to know the truth about their deadly enemies, the Jews.

Among our youth and in their genes, there are Alexander the Great's, Thomas Edisons, Caesars, Richard Wagners, Nathan Forrests, Stonewall Jacksons, Martin Luthers, and yes, Adolph Hitlers. Our youths need only truth to steer them toward equal greatness and beyond.

You can continue to doom them or you can steer them toward that greatness and a chance to create a secure future in which the racial chain of our forefather will continue for another thousand generations and his genes will be spread throughout the universe...

[C]lear your mind of Jewish garbage, and provide you[rself] with the knowledge and understanding necessary to defeat the Jews and save our Race.

From Nazi's to a New Militarized Klan
Miller's roots in the hate world are long standing starting with membership in a Nazi group in 1976, while still in the Army, where he previously served two tours in Vietnam. As a member of the National Socialist Party of America, he was involved in a violent battle between on November 3, 1979 in Greensboro, NC, with Nazis and Klan members on one side and Communists on the other, that left five of his adversaries dead. Shortly, thereafter he founded a North Carolina Ku Klux Klan group, where he was known for revitalizing old chapters, producing the White Carolinian newspaper, marches and unsuccessful campaigns for elected office. He was also among the first hatemongers to use pre-Internet computer bulletin boards. Miller boasted of appearances on national television shows such as Good Morning America and Sally Jesse Raphael.

Miller, however, was not just a pioneer in growing the ranks and publicity of his Klan group, which according to the Southern Poverty Law Center surged to 1,000 members across nearly two dozen chapters by 1985. He sought the formation of a white supremacist "Christian Army" that trained with heavy weapons and camouflage and maintained close ties with neo-Nazis, something Klan groups previously avoided. He received $200,000 from a violent hate group called The Order, though he was not involved in their most notorious crimes. The Order's laundry list of crimes included the assassination of Jewish radio KOA Denver radio host Alan Berg in 1984, the bombing of a temple and the commission a 3.6 million dollar Brinks armored car heist in Ukiah, California. According to Miller, the Order's leader told him,

"Mr. Miller, I represent a group of people who want to help certain White organizations by providing large financial donations. I found my voice, and inquired, "Is the money stolen?" Quickly and without batting an eye, he answered, "Yes, it is, but it was stolen from ZOG's [Zionist Occupied Government] banks

Under a new name the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux the group drilled and prepared for a war to win America back for whites. They gathered sophisticated stolen military weapons including AR-15s, night vision equipment, and tank busting rockets. Miller and others were held in criminal contempt for violating federal court orders relating to their military type activities. Miller has written that he served in the Army from 1959 to 1979, retiring as a Master Sergeant. While operating under a new name called the White Patriot Party, which lasted from March 1985 to 1987, Miller issued a "Declaration of War" in the Spring of 1987 against his enemies including Jews, the federal government and civil rights leader Morris Dees and briefly went underground before being captured with an arsenal of weapons.

I left my home and family in Virginia on March 18, 1987, after taking out a $100,000 life insurance policy...[and] decided to go underground and wage war against the Jews and the federal government. Since they wouldn't allow me to fight them legally above ground, then I'd resort to the only means left, armed revolution....

Using a rented copy machine, we printed 2,000 copies of my Declaration of War, inside our rented apartment in Monroe, Louisiana, and then mailed them to around 1,900 selected members of the WPP, other White groups, the Associated Press, U.S. Attorney Sam Currin, the U.S. Congress and Senate, SBI, FBI, UPI, Associated Press, CBS NBC, ABC, and the New York Times, and a dozen or so other newspapers around the country....

Inside the mobile home and in one of our vans parked outside, the feds found C-4 plastic explosives, dynamite, pipe bombs, hand grenades, fully automatic M-16 and AR 15 machine guns, sawed off shotguns, pistols, cross-bows, and around a half-ton of ammunition, to list some of it.

From Leader to Tainted Informant
Faced with an array of federal charges Miller shocked the white supremacist world when he became a government witness in exchange for a sentence of five years, though he was released early in August 1990. In recent years he has done various public speaking and media events as well as circulated hate literature, though his stature in the hate world was significantly damaged by his plea bargain. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, receiving seven votes and that he was a pen pal to Kevin Harpham, who tried to bomb a Martin Luther King Day celebration in 2011.

Fatal Anti-Semitic Attacks Rare, But Repetitive in United States
Lone extremists have been involved in various fatal attacks on Jewish targets over the last twenty years including a 1994 shooting of a Chabad van on the Brooklyn Bridge, a 1999 attack on a Jewish community center and murder of a nearby postal worker in Los Angeles by Nazi Bufford Furrow, a 2002 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport by loner Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, a 2006 shooting at a Seattle's Jewish Federation center by lone extremist Naveed Afzal Haq, and the 2009 Holocaust Museum shooting by long time Nazi James W. Von Brunn.

While horrifying, statistically, Jews in America have a far greater chance of dying in a car crash than at the hands of an extremist, making the United States the envy of the world for tolerance, if such envy actually materially exists much elsewhere. Of the 5,796 hate crimes reported in the United States in 2012, 1,166 were committed on the basis of religion, with 59.7% or 674 anti-Jewish, with no fatalities. It is estimated that there are no more than several thousand Klan members across the nation, and hard core hatemongers commit a very lower percentage of hate crimes. However, when they do, as appears to be the case yesterday, or at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, they can be fatal, and hard core hate mongers account for a greater percentage of hate homicides than they do hate crime in general. The Alabama based Southern Poverty Law Center enumerated 939 hate groups in the United States in 2013, a decline from the previous year, with 5 in Kansas and 23 in Missouri. The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, reported that anti-Semitic incidents declined in the United States by 19% in 2013, but saw minor assaults increasing. Still, while rare, attacks like this reverberate across the targeted community: "On the eve of the Passover holiday, where Jews around the world celebrate the festival when the ancient Israelites broke the shackles of tyranny , the Jewish community of Kansas City was struck by a tyrant," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

From Miller's "A White Man Speaks Out"

Chapter 17: My Predictions Should The Jews Continue To Rule
1. Legal age of consent lowered to 12, then to 10. Drugged and diseased adolescent White girls and boys selling themselves to White men and giving the fee to their Negro or Hispanic pimps.
2. All laws suppressing sexual freedom, including those discouraging public acts of homosexuality and bestiality are vetoed by the One World Constitution. However, human participants must be at least age 10.
3. All drugs legalized and taxed by One World Government, creating five million new jobs in the U.S. alone.
4. Prostitution legalized for adults of both sexes above the age of 9, reducing unemployment to world record low, and raising One World Government revenue to new heights.
5. Interracial married couples rewarded with 10-year tax exemption, with three years added for each bi-racial offspring produced.
6. Punishment for hate crimes committed against any "protected class" elevated to the death penalty, with appeals limited to 30 days.
7. United Nations forms special international anti-terrorist task force to track, arrest and "hospitalize" racists and anti-Semites. (Racism, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and Muslim fundamentalism all officially classified as mental illnesses).
8. World disarmament. Nuclear weapon stockpiles destroyed except those located in Israel, after unanimous vote by United Nations Security Council.
9. World population lowered from 7.5 billion to 2 billion by Jewish created wars, famine, disease, and test tube virus' unleashed by Israeli scientists (as was AIDS, genital herpes, and Ebola) to make the world cleaner and more manageable for the Jewish Master Race. (Western European and Muslim countries especially hard hit).
10. Race war erupts across the United States. After repeated urgent appeals by the President and both houses of Congress, the United Nations sends in 15 million international peace-keeping troops from India, China, and South and Central America to booster hard pressed American forces, and after only 18 months, 75 million White male "racists" are killed, wounded, or imprisoned. But peace and democracy are restored.
11. Except for small pockets of White survivalists located in Alaska, the Canadian wilderness and a few remote areas of the Northwestern U.S., both North and South America are ethnically cleansed of White males. Surviving young White females however, seem happy and contented, and are adjusting naturally to their colored mates and children. Bold young pioneers creating a truly race-less, democratic world society.

Is Washington Just Impossible?

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 21:57
As Washington says goodbye to now Former Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius, I wonder, is Washington just impossible? Who leaves this town without scars? Having been here for so long, I have met hundreds of politicians on both sides of the aisle and I have yet to meet one who did not come here with the goal of making it better for Americans. Everyone comes with big dreams, big ideas, genuinely wanting to help... but so many (all?) leave here discouraged and just wanting to 'take a shower' because the place can make you feel dirty. I imagine some sit in the passenger section at Reagan airport waiting for that exit flight wondering, 'what was that all about? that was crazy!' Or maybe, 'what was I thinking when I thought it was a good idea?'

And those who don't leave here can be so immersed in the culture, the fight, that they have forgotten that original feeling of inspiration and desire that drove them here in the first place.

For some it is an accidental moral corruption -- it is no longer about fixing problems, making things better, but engaging in the most petty fights with political opponents. It is simply about winning. And yes, I know, everyone has the moral corruption justified so that it seems so right -- 'trying to save the republic' or 'the war on women' or 'the 1%' or 'bad ideas dragging us down or we can't afford and will destroy the nation' etc. Everyone has a reason to justify his or her reason for not working together on solutions and for blaming someone else. Why is our enemy not our problem but each other? Weird, isn't it?

There is something fundamentally wrong with a city that is all about taking sides, and not solving problems when everyone genuinely came here to solve problems.

If 'Money Shouts,' How Can Democracy Lower the Decibel Level So Both Sides Are Heard?

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 21:37

By: Mark Green


David (47 percent) Corn debates Ron (not NJ's) Christie about the constitutional and political aspects of McCutcheon. Since the Roberts Court believes that money is more important than voting, how can pro-democracy advocates pursue the slogan, "Money Out/Voter In"? Con Amendment? Term Limits for Justices? Replace one of Roberts Five? Legislation on campaign finance and disclosure?

On McCutcheon. David blasts the McCutcheon and Citizens United decisions for elevating "the .00001 percent over the 100 percent by expanding the power of money which tilts the system" to the super rich -- i.e., their money affects our wallets and health when it comes to minimum wage, unemployment compensation, jobs, climate...

Ron is asked if he's bothered by decisions that to take us back to the Gilded Age of "The Senator from Standard Oil". "Absolutely not," he replies, seeing the cases through the prism of money=speech. He adds that labor unions too give lots of money and, like Roberts, thinks that if the First Amendment tolerates repugnant speech like flag-burning and Nazi parades, surely it should tolerate a large volume of paid speech by people like the Kochs.

Host: Of course this assumes that the majority sincerely cares about promoting political speech rather than the ascendency of wealth. Recall in this context J.P. Morgan, who once said: "A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason"

So I ask Ron if he'd be ok if Soros spent $5 billion to win the presidency...if it's fine to limit speech at 120 decibels at midnight in residential neighborhoods, why not limit the "decibels" of billionaires drowning out actual human speech...if he agrees that it's one thing for more money to buy stuff in Capitalism but a problem if private wealth leeches into public Democracy where 1 person-1 vote is the rule? Nope. Ron sticks to the metaphor and analysis of the Roberts Five.

After Citizens United and now McCutcheon, what should campaign finance reformers do? A Constitutional Amendment permitting the regulation of the volume of speech (which attracts 70%+ when up for local, non-binding resolutions)? Term Limits for Justices (see @rickhertzberg) since it's absurd that the head of Executive Branch can't serve more than 8 years but head of Judicial Branch can go 30? Run counter-ads exposing how the Kochs's money is buying democracy and hurting voters? Push legislation like Government By the People Act, Ginsberg-Bauer Voting Reforms, Disclosure legislation? Replace one of the Roberts Five when there's a vacancy?

The two doubt the effectiveness of anti-Koch ads and the feasibility of either a Con Amendment or Term Limits. (Ron: "The Founders wanted life-time tenure for a good reason"). Both favor disclosure of all political spending online although the current congressional GOP won't let that happen. Ditto campaign finance and voter reforms (which may have to wait until and if Democrats win the White House, Senate and House in 2016).

Last, given mortality, will a) one of the Roberts Five be off the bench in next 1-10 years and a Dem POTUS replace him with a Dem Justice and then b) a newly constituted Court reverse the money-is-speech metaphor? David believes that while conservative justices have recently been little concerned with upholding precedents (guns, money, voting rights etc.), liberal justice will probably be.

(Host Esq. disagrees! Why should a reality-based new justice accede to Roberts's absurd assertion that it's not corrupting if a candidate feels "gratitude" for donors' gifts and Kennedy's monumental conjecture that "the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy." These are comments from ideological jurists people who have never run for or held elective office.

On illegal immigration being an"act of love" Did Jeb Bush commit a suicidal heresy or, as both Lawrence O'Donnell and Bill O'Reilly think, shrewdly take a stand he believes in and then see if it sinks or buoys him?

There's a consensus that either way it imperils a possible candidacy given how the party's very right-wing base regards this issue in early primaries (see Rick Perry) but that Jeb had little choice since a) that's what he thinks, b) he's married for over three decades to a women from Mexico and c) "self-deportation" didn't go over well in a General Election.

As for Bush45 v. Clinton 45, David points out that however wearying such a match-up, it would mean a Democratic victory "since our dynastic brand is way better than their dynastic brand."

On Rumsfeld's self-love. Donald Rumsfeld was a successful wrestler in school -- is he as good at verbal wrestling in Errol Morris's doc "Known Unknowns"? David says he was amazed at how shallow Rummy was and either deceptive or delusional when he maintained that the Bush crowd never implied that Saddam was behind 9/11.

Ron explains that it's more likely Rumsfeld was being either "inartful" when he explained that it wasn't the Bush Administration that okayed torture but his Department of Justice and that he was essentially trying to put a happier face on painful events.

On Eich and Eichmann. Gay protests against Mozilla and (now former ) CEO Brandan Eich spur criticism of "goose-stepping fascism." Thoughts?

David concludes that the folks on Fox and elsewhere who say that "are simply nuts". There's no way to compare the Eich contretemps -- he gave money to an anti-equal marriage group and then was forced out of his CEO post by his Board -- with governments that killed millions of Jews, gays and communists. In any event, since conservatives value free markets, what's wrong with gay critics and Eich each "speaking" their minds and then allow a private Board to decide that keeping him as CEO would hurt their bottom line?

Ron's having none of that. He tears into the "liberal thought police" that values first amendment rights unless they disagree with the articulated position. He won't answer David' hypothetical -- ok, what would you do if you're on a Board and the CEO gave money to a white supremacist organization?

On Letterman-Colbert. Turns out that both panelists agree that Letterman was a breakout talent for his hipness, irony and use of face to convey a joke. And Colbert is an inspired choice given his hipness and skills...though neither knows who exactly Colbert is behind the comedic mask he wears on The Colbert Report.Limbaugh's accusation that CBS was a liberal lap in the face of America" is given no credence.

Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.

You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen

Send all comments to Bothsidesradio.com, where you can also listen to prior shows.

Both Sides Now is available
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& Sun. 8-9 AM EST from Business RadioTalk Network.


Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 20:24

The Democratic Party must embrace, fight for and enact economically-progressive policies. It must be the party of Main Street, not Wall Street, of the 99 percent, not the one percent. In particular, it must fight for a strong safety net to protect those of us who fall on hard times. There is good reason to criticize many of today's Democrats for not being, in short, progressive enough. It's important to say these things at the start.

There is another, related argument out there -- often connected to the call for Democrats to be more progressive -- that does not stand up to scrutiny. That argument focuses on the failures of Democrats to win the votes of the white working class. The notion that Obama has "abandoned" the white working class has been espoused by conservative critics, trying to drive a wedge between working-class voters of different races, but that's a different argument. For the progressive take on this, let's look at a recent column by Michael Lind, someone I respect a great deal (he's all over the footnotes of my book, and he has influenced my understanding of American national identity as much as any other writer), who offered the following:

The social programs that enjoy the greatest level of support from white working class voters are universal, non-means-tested programs like Social Security and Medicare which reward work by being funded with payroll taxes... FDR and LBJ offered white working class voters universal social insurance programs -- Social Security and Medicare -- and were rewarded with huge Democratic majorities in Congress and presidential elections, even though the white working class was far more racist and culturally conservative than it is today.

That all sounds intuitively right, and it definitely works as part of a call for Democrats to embrace economically progressive policies. However, if you read the caption to the photo above, you know that there are serious holes in that narrative, starting with the crown jewel of the New Deal, the Social Security Act.

As originally enacted, the Social Security Act was by no means a "universal" program. Because various occupations were excluded, only about half of American workers were covered. In particular, approximately two out of three African Americans were not covered, a percentage that rose to three out of four in parts of the South. The NAACP initially criticized the law as "a sieve with holes just big enough for the majority of Negroes to fall through." Not exactly universal.

It's worth noting that welfare (originally called "Aid to Dependent Children" and created by the Social Security Act) similarly excluded blacks at the outset, i.e., under FDR. The fact that there was significant local control over how these programs were administered especially hurt Southern blacks. A study by Richard Sterner (cited here by Ira Katznelson) found that, in Georgia, just over 14 percent of eligible whites got aid compared to 1.5 percent of eligible blacks.

Here's the other point worth making: From 1935 to 1938, when the Social Security Act became law, FDR had what Emory sociology professor Alexander Hicks described as "rare, non-Southern Democrat majorities -- 270 non-Southern Democrat representatives and 71 non-Southern Democrat senators" backing his Second New Deal. Although African Americans certainly benefited from the New Deal in many ways, one can ask whether FDR could have done more to ensure equal treatment. That's a polite way to ask that question. We can certainly say that the New Deal was not applied, to return to Michael Lind's point, in a "universal" way. We'll never know how white working-class voters, in particular those in the South, would have reacted to FDR had it been.

In 1965 LBJ passed Medicare. It didn't exactly guarantee Democratic dominance in subsequent decades. This leads to the larger point that pushes back against Lind's argument. The Democratic Party didn't abandon the white working class, nor did the white working class abandon the Democratic Party. The Southern white working class abandoned the Democratic Party, and they did so because of civil rights, and they continue to do so because of race and other cultural/social issues on which the South diverges from the rest of the country. If you haven't read Elisabeth Jacobs' study on the politics and voting patterns of the American white working class, you should:

On average, Democratic presidential candidates prospects with self-identified white working class voters have diminished somewhat over time... Yet, the downward trend in Democratic presidential vote choice between 1956 and 2008 is concentrated amongst the Southern white working class... White working class presidential party vote choice for non-Southerners is remarkably stable over time; if anything, the period between 1984 and 2008 has been one of improvement for the Democrats amongst this group. The opposite is true in the South. Prior to the 1960s rights revolutions (including, most notably for the South, the major upheavals of the Civil Rights Movement), a strong majority of the Southern white working class voted for Democratic candidates. Southern white working class voting appears to have settled into a basic equilibrium with Reagan's 1984 election, with the notable exception of an uptick for Clinton's first election in 1992, and again for Obama's 2008 election gambit....

Third, and perhaps most importantly because it is so often overlooked in popular analysis, the defection of the white South from the Democratic Party plays a central role in driving the overarching story of white working class politics. As Bartels succinctly summarizes: "Democratic presidential vote share has declined by almost 20 percentage points among [S]outhern whites without college degrees. Among non-southern whites without college degrees, it has declined by one percentage point. That's it. Fourteen elections, 52 years, one percentage point." The same basic relationship holds across all income groups of non-college educatedwhites: a 20-point-gap between the South and the rest of the country. This is Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy come to life, not a widespread national defection of white working class voters from the Democratic Party. Case in point: in 2008, Obama won 54 percent of whites with incomes under $50,000 outside of the South, while he secured just 35 percent of this group in the South.

It is important to note that these are presidential election years, and the 2010 midterms went a different way for Democrats. Of course, other mid-term elections have not been bad at all for Democrats in recent decades. Furthermore, it doesn't make sense to ignore the stark difference between the non-Southern and Southern white working class vote in presidential years, and put this all on the general so-called abandonment of the white working class. The numbers are simply too strong.

To return to the broader argument of Lind and others who contrast Obama to FDR and LBJ, he criticizes Obamacare because it is not "universal" like Social Security and Medicare, and suggests this is why working-class whites aren't responding by voting Democratic. First of all, Social Security and Medicare are aimed at a population that is not expected to be working, a significant difference from the population at which Obamacare is aimed. But that's irrelevant, critics say -- why didn't he fight for single-payer?

Great question. I support single-payer. I believe single-payer is preferable to Obamacare. But before we condemn Obama for not passing it and criticize him as falling short where FDR and LBJ succeeded, let's remember some facts. As I cited previously, FDR had huge Democratic majorities. LBJ had majorities almost as large, and, as this memo makes clear, a filibuster of Medicare was not even a possibility, as opponents would not have considered one. President Obama's "filibuster-proof" majority of 60 senators included "Democrats" like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman -- the latter of whom promised to filibuster the whole package if it included a public option, let alone single-payer. Single-payer never even stood a chance. Finally, a review of a large number of polls shows that single-payer is not that popular compared to private health insurance. That surprised me, frankly.

And here's the other thing to remember about Obamacare and Social Security: Social Security is a hell of a lot better program in 2014 than it was in 1935, as I've described above. Well, if Social Security improved, maybe Obamacare will as well. Noam Scheiber has predicted, in fact, that it will ultimately pave the way toward single payer. But the thing is, you know who else -- in addition to Barack Obama -- failed to pass single-payer, universal health care? FDR and LBJ. And Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. So maybe Obama's not such a bad liberal after all.

My point here isn't to talk down FDR and LBJ, but rather to counter the idea that Obama "failed" in comparison. Lind's larger point -- that Democrats should embrace liberal, populist positions that would appeal to the white working class that too often votes Republican -- is totally right. But the idea that Obama failed where the great liberals succeeded (you should see the things those who criticized FDR from his left called him), and that that's why white working class voters aren't voting for Democrats, just doesn't hold water.

Paying Your (Un)Fair Share on Tax Day

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 17:58
"I pay my income tax... and I starve myself to death, trying to keep my family fed. I keep my budget tight, trying to get myself ahead... a workin' man can't get nowhere today." -- Merle Haggard, "A Workin' Man Can't Get Nowhere Today," 1977.

If you're like most people, you've been slaving away over the weekend trying to get that almighty tax return ready for April 15th. And chances are, even if you weren't around then, you can relate to Haggard's lament about working and taxes from way back in the 1970s. A lot has changed -- but not for the better. Back in the 20th century, the rich paid more. Not now.

We'll make like Marketplace and look at the numbers. Let's say you, or you and your spouse together, made $90 thousand last year. Taking the standard deductions, you're going to pay about $9600 in income tax. Your neighbor up the hill in the high-dollar neighborhood made $90 thousand too. Only he didn't actually get up and go to work a single day. His $90 grand was from qualified dividends and long-term capital gains. He pays -- are you ready? -- NOTHING. Obviously income from ordinary work is taxed at a much higher rate than income from stock investments. Seems backward to me.

Your wealthy neighbor isn't the only one with a get out of jail free card when it comes to income tax. According to an analysis by USA Today, whole raft of major U.S. corporations -- household names like Verizon and Metlife -- won't pay a thin dime this year.

We keep hearing that if corporations have to pay more taxes, the economy will suffer, because they won't hire more workers. Well, if you hadn't noticed, for the last five years they've hardly been on a hiring spree. And when they do hire these days, it's mostly low-wage jobs.

Corporations like to claim they're people -- "corporate personhood," meaning the constitution gives them the same rights it grants real people. The courts agree, letting them spend megamillions to promote political candidates and lie to us all on TV.

If corporations are people, the IRS should treat them like people, and take away the tax deductions they get that real people don't. You know, those three martini lunches, entertainment at places like Augusta National Golf Club, credit for shipping jobs overseas and hiding profits in foreign countries while accepting subsidies and bailouts.

Back in Haggard's day there was another country song that said "you got the gold mine, I got the shaft." When it comes to the U.S. tax system, the corporations and the wealthy are getting the gold mine. The rest of us are definitely getting the shaft.

Listen to the two-minute radio commentary here:

Keystone XL Opponents Carve Anti-Pipeline Message Into Field

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 15:48
NELIGH, Neb. (AP) — Opponents of a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from Canada south to the Gulf Coast have stamped a massive message of resistance into a Nebraska field that is in the project's path.

The artwork, which covers 80 acres and was done last week, reads "Heartland#NoKXL." It is the latest protest environmentalists and landowners have employed against TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Critics of the pipeline want President Barack Obama to reject the project because they fear it could contaminate groundwater and contribute to pollution.

Farmer Art Tanderup, who owns the land where the artwork was created, said he worries about the proposed pipeline because of the nature of his land.

"We have always been stewards of the land," Tanderup said. "The soil is very sandy here. Any leak would leach into the Ogallala Aquifer, contaminating our water without any concrete plan to clean up the pollution."

Tanderup drove the tractor that carved the image into dirt. It was based on a design created by artists John Quigley and Richard Vollaire.

TransCanada has said the pipeline will have upgraded safety measures, including remote control shut-off valves and frequent inspections. The company has already built and is operating the southern leg of the pipeline between Oklahoma and Texas.

More than five years have passed since TransCanada first proposed the project to complement its existing Keystone pipeline.

Last week, 11 Senate Democrats urged Obama to approve the project by the end of May, so that another construction season won't be lost.

The U.S. State Department and the president have authority over the project because it crosses a U.S. border.

The section of the project that still needs approval would cross Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

TransCanada also has proposed connecting it to the Bakken oil field in Montana and North Dakota.

The company altered the pipeline's path through Nebraska to avoid the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region and a couple of towns' drinking water wells.

But a February court ruling raised questions about the status of TransCanada's proposed route through Nebraska because a judge invalidated the law state officials followed when they approved the route. That court ruling has been appealed, and the company says that means the route remains valid until the appeal is decided.

9 Countries That Hate America Most

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 15:23
From 24/7 Wall St.: International approval of U.S. leadership improved last year, rising from of 41% in 2012 to 46% in 2013. This ended a downward trend in U.S. approval ratings, which had consistently declined since 2009.

While people around the world tended to have positive opinions of U.S. leadership, residents of some countries had a negative impression of the United States. In five nations, more than two-thirds of those surveyed disapproved of the current administration, according to the latest U.S.-Global Leadership Project, a partnership between Meridian International Center and Gallup.

Click here to see which countries dislike America

Last year represented a major improvement for U.S. leadership, Ambassador Stuart Holliday, president and CEO of Meridian International Center, told 24/7 Wall St. There were several reasons for this, including a wind-down of America’s role in armed conflicts abroad. As a result, “The view that we are the major shapers of the world and our image as being the world’s policeman are fading,” Holliday said. An ongoing return to normalcy in the global economy, in which the United States plays an outsized role, has also helped, he added.

The United States has long-running political tensions with many nations that disapprove of the U.S. leadership. Among these is Iran, which has not had diplomatic relations with the U.S. since 1980, and whose nuclear ambitions and human rights violations are points of contention for the United States. In Pakistan, the U.S. has launched attacks against terrorists and insurgents inside the country. Most notable was the 2011 raid and killing of Osama bin Laden, which led to heightened tensions between the two nations.

Another potential reason for high disapproval of U.S. leadership is the relationship with Israel. The U.S. State Department notes America was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, and that “Israel has become, and remains, America’s most reliable partner in the Middle East.” Countries with long-running disputes with Israel — such as Lebanon and the Palestinian territories — also disapprove of U.S. leadership.

Ambassador Holliday noted the situation in the Middle East is also influenced by a lack of clarity over U.S. policy goals and, to some extent, perceptions of the U.S. government’s support of Israel. This is driven in large part by a 24/7 news cycle that chronicles every twist and turn of the peace process, Holliday added.

Several of the countries that dislike American leadership the most have also undergone recent political upheavals. Mass demonstrations in Tunisia, for example, set the tone in 2011 for what came to be known as the Arab Spring. There has also been considerable political upheaval in Egypt following the forced resignation and trial of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Mubarak was long considered a stable ally of the United States.

However, while it may be easy to conclude disapproval of U.S. leadership is largely limited to the Middle East and North Africa, this is not always the case. Most notably, in Slovenia, 57% of residents disapproved of U.S. leadership — despite the fact that the country is both a major ally in NATO and a member of the European Union.

But what Slovenia has in common with a number of other countries that disapprove of American leadership is the citizens’ negative opinion of their country’s government. In 2012, less than one-quarter of Slovenians had confidence in their own government, and a similar number lacked faith in their judicial system, lower than in the vast majority of the countries in the same region. Similarly, less than one-third of Pakistan and Iraq residents had confidence in their governments.

America’s strong economy may also provoke resentment among residents of these countries. According to Jon Clifton, Managing Director of the Gallup World Poll, residents of many of these countries experience hardship and do not enjoy the kind of broad economic benefits seen in more developed countries. As a result, residents equate “U.S. leadership and the leadership of whatever the current economic order represents for them.”

GDP per capita in four of the nine countries that hate America the most was less than $10,000 last year. By contrast, U.S. gross domestic product totaled more than $50,000 per capita in 2013.

Limited access to basic needs may also add to the misery of the citizens in many countries that disapprove of the United States the most. Just 31% of Iraqis were satisfied with the quality of their drinking water in 2012, less than any of the 16 other peer countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In Slovenia, only 24% of residents said they were satisfied with the availability of good, affordable housing. This was less than in all but one other OECD nation.

To determine the countries that hate America most, 24/7 Wall St. relied on data from The U.S.-Global Leadership Project, a partnership between Gallup and the Meridian International Center. Gallup also provided data from a number of other indices it produced through polling in 2012. Additional economic information and estimates, including unemployment data, came from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) 2013 World Economic Outlook. IMF figures on GDP per capita are given at purchasing-power-parity in order to show real differences in wealth. Data on life expectancy was provided by The World Bank.

These are the countries that hate America most, according to 24/7 Wall St.:

Ukraine Gives Rebels Deadline To Disarm Or Face Military Operation

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 15:19

(Adds UN Security Council to meet)

* Ukraine gives separatists until 0600 GMT Monday to lay down arms

* Kiev angered by death of officer, wounding of others at roadblock

* Russia warns Kiev not to use force against militants

* Fears that confrontation could touch off wider violence

* UN Security Council to meet at Russia's request

By Conor Humphries and Thomas Grove

KIEV/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine, April 13 (Reuters) - Ukraine has given pro-Russian separatists a Monday morning deadline to disarm or face a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" by its armed forces, raising the risk of a military confrontation with Moscow.

Angered by the death of a state security officer and the wounding of two comrades near the flashpoint eastern city of Slaviansk, acting president Oleksander Turchinov gave rebels occupying state buildings until 0600 GMT to lay down their weapons.

"The National Security and Defence Council has decided to launch a full-scale anti-terrorist operation involving the armed forces of Ukraine," Turchinov said in an address to the nation.

He blamed Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea region when Moscow-backed former president Viktor Yanukovich fled after months of pro-Western protests, for being behind the rash of rebellions across Russian-speaking towns in eastern Ukraine.

"We will not allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of Ukraine," Turchinov said.

Russia's foreign ministry called the planned military operation a "criminal order" and said the West should bring its allies in Ukraine's government under control.

"It is now the West's responsibility to prevent civil war in Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

A United Nations Security Council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the council would meet at 8 p.m. (0100 GMT) in New York at Russia's request. Another diplomat said negotiations were under way on Ukraine's participation.

Earlier, the American ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, said on ABC's "This Week" that the latest events in Ukraine bore "the telltale signs of Moscow's involvement".

"The president has made clear that, depending on Russian behavior, sectoral sanctions in energy, banking, mining could be on the table, and there's a lot in between," she added.

With East-West relations in crisis, NATO described the appearance in eastern Ukraine of men with specialised Russian weapons and identical uniforms without insignia - as previously worn by Moscow's troops when they seized Crimea - as a "grave development".

Ukraine has repeatedly said the rebellions are inspired and directed by the Kremlin. But action to dislodge the armed militants risks tipping the stand-off into a new, dangerous phase as Moscow has warned it will protect the region's Russian-speakers if they come under attack.

One Ukrainian state security officer was killed and five were wounded on the government side in Sunday's operation in Slaviansk, interior minister Arsen Avakov said. "There were dead and wounded on both sides," he wrote on his Facebook page.

The Russian news agency RIA reported that one pro-Moscow activist was killed in Slaviansk in clashes with forces loyal to the Kiev government. "On our side, another two were injured," RIA quoted pro-Russian militant Nikolai Solntsev as adding.

Russian TV broadcast grainy footage of what it said was the body of the militant. The images, which Reuters could not verify independently, showed a man in black clothes, slumped against the door of a car, with a pool of blood between his legs. A rifle lay next to him.


The separatists are holed up in the local headquarters of the police and of the state security service, while others have erected road blocks around Slaviansk, which lies about 150 km (90 miles) from the Russian border.

However, details of the fighting remain sketchy. A statement from the administration of the eastern Donetsk region indicated the security officer may have been killed between Slaviansk and the nearby town of Artemivsk. It said nine were wounded.

An eyewitness in Slaviansk said a gunman walked up to a car in the city centre and fired four or five shots into it. Video footage from the scene later showed a man being pulled out of the car, either seriously wounded or dead. It was not clear what links the shooting had with the unrest in the town.

Kiev accuses the Kremlin of trying to undermine the legitimacy of presidential elections on May 25 that aim to set Ukraine back onto a normal path after months of turmoil.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Kiev was "demonstrating its inability to take responsibility for the fate of the country" and warned that any use of force against Russian speakers "would undermine the potential for cooperation", including talks due to be held on Thursday between Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.


Relations between Russia and the West are at their worst since the Cold War due to the crisis that began when Moscow-backed Yanukovich was pushed out by popular protests in February.

Moscow then annexed Crimea from Ukraine, saying the Russian population there was under threat. Some Western governments believe the Kremlin is preparing a similar scenario for eastern Ukraine, something Moscow has strenuously denied.

In Kramatorsk, about 15 km south of Slaviansk, gunmen seized the police headquarters after a shootout with police, a Reuters witness said.

The attackers were a well-organised unit of over 20 men, wearing matching military fatigues and carrying automatic weapons, who had arrived by bus. Video footage showed the men taking orders from a commander. Their identity was unclear.

Their level of discipline and equipment was in contrast to the groups who have occupied buildings so far in Ukraine. They have been mostly civilians formed into informal militias with mismatched uniforms.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed concern about similarities in some of the rebels' appearance to that of the Russian troops who seized control in Crimea.

Calling on Russia to pull back its large number of troops, including special forces, from the area around Ukraine's border, he said in a statement: "Any further Russian military interference, under any pretext, will only deepen Russia's international isolation."

NATO has effectively ruled out military action over Ukraine, which lies outside the Western alliance. However, Washington and NATO leaders have made clear they would defend all 28 member states, including former Soviet republics in the Baltic that are seen as the most vulnerable to Russian pressure.

NATO allies have beefed up their air and sea firepower in eastern Europe. The alliance has also cut off cooperation with Russia and stepped up work with Ukraine, including advising its military on reforms and promising to increase joint exercises.

With EU foreign ministers due to discuss the crisis in Luxembourg on Monday, Britain called on Moscow to disown the rebels. "Assumptions that Russia is complicit are inevitable as long as Moscow does not publicly distance itself from these latest lawless actions," a Foreign Office spokesman said.


The crisis over Ukraine could trigger a "gas war", disrupting supplies of Russian natural gas to customers across Europe. Moscow has said it may be forced to sever deliveries to Ukraine - the transit route for much of Europe's gas - unless Kiev settles its debts.

For now, though, the focus of the crisis was in eastern Ukraine, the country's industrial heartland, where many people feel a close affinity with neighbouring Russia.

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, supporters of the revolution that brought the Kiev leadership to power clashed with opponents who favour closer ties with Russia. Police said 50 people were hurt, 10 of whom received hospital treatment.

In another eastern town, Zaporizhzhya, Interfax news agency said 3,000 pro-European supporters turned out in a unity rally and faced off with several hundred pro-Moscow supporters, many of them waving the Russian flag.

"We are ready to defend ourselves," said separatist Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, who said he had taken over leadership of Slaviansk after the city's mayor fled. (Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev, Alessandra Prentice in Moscow, William James in London and Adrian Croft in Brussels; Writing by Christian Lowe, Richard Balmforth, and David Stamp; Editing by Will Waterman)

Sharyl Attkisson: It Was 'Easy To Want To Leave' CBS News

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 14:54
Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson opened up on Sunday about her recent resignation from the network and the "unprecedented" restrictions that journalists face under the Obama administration.

Attkisson resigned from CBS News as an investigative reporter in March, after a 20-year career with the network. In an interview with Fox News host Howard Kurtz that aired Sunday, the former reporter spoke about her decision to leave and exposed some of the frustrations she faced as a journalist.

"In the end, it was pretty easy to want to leave because there really wasn't much left for me to do," she said, later adding that, "there is pressure coming to bear on journalists for just doing their job in ways that have never come to bear before."

Attkisson gained a great deal of attention as a reporter in the last few years for her coverage of Benghazi, Obamacare, and government obstruction. She told Kurtz she struggled to get her stories on the air, and the problem is "part of a broader trend" happening in journalism today. There is a clear decline of interest in "original and investigative, in-depth reporting," she said.

"There's come to be a narrowing universe of stories that are desired by the broadcasts, and it leaves us with, sometimes, I think, newscasts that don't dig very deep," she said. "There's just a tendency to avoid certain controversies."

Attkisson told Kurtz she's not the only reporter who feels there's declining interest in investigative reporting. Journalists at CBS News and other outlets are sometimes "not happy" with the kind of work they are being told to do, according to Attkisson.

"When a broadcast doesn't want a story, they don't really say those things to you," she said. "They simply don't air the story."

Attkisson also called out the press for being "very shy" about challenging the Obama administration, and added that she did not encounter that kind of timidness when she covered the Bush administration. She said both the restrictions on the press and the secrecy under the Obama administration are "aggressive" and "unprecedented"

Watch the video for a clip from the interview.

(h/t: Mediaite)

UC Santa Barbara Tries To Figure Out How A Party Turned Into A Riot

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 14:30
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — With streets still littered in glass and garbage cans overflowing with red cups and bottles, University of California, Santa Barbara students were trying to shake off a lingering hangover from an annual spring party morphed into a raucous and violent blowout.

Once proud to attend one of the nation's best-known party schools, some struggled to reconcile that image with what happened last Saturday night as young people clashed with police, tossed bricks, bottles and rocks for no apparent reason. A university police officer and four deputies were injured and 130 people were arrested. "That doesn't happen, especially here," said 21-year-old Jake Pangburn, a senior who lived near the center of the rioting.

Problems with excessive partying have persisted for decades on this roughly half-square mile that is home to 23,000 people, but the violence has brought out politicians, university officials, police and student leaders to call for more prudent partying.

The daytime bash known as "Deltopia" isn't sanctioned by the university or formally planned, but it's a well-known happening the first weekend of spring quarter in the community next to UC Santa Barbara's campus and picturesque beachside cliffs.

It evolved from "Floatopia," a beach party banned since 2009 after it was deemed an environmental and safety hazard because of trash, human waste and near drownings. Since then, beaches are closed that weekend, and the party migrated a block inland to Del Playa Drive.

Authorities ramped up patrols after a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student fell to her death off the cliffs last year and an overcrowded balcony collapsed, injuring several partygoers.

With social media spreading the word, the party has grown. As many as 25,000 people packed the sunny streets last Saturday in classic Isla Vista garb — bikinis, flip-flops, tank tops and shorts. With drinks in hand, they lined yards in front of two-story apartment buildings and crowded overhanging balconies.

Violence broke out around 9:30 p.m., after a university officer trying to break up a fight was hit in the head with a backpack filled with booze bottles. Hundreds of people threw rocks, bricks and bottles at officers, tore down stop signs, rocked cars and smashed windows. Authorities rolled out armored vehicles, lobbed tear gas and fired rubber bullets and foam projectiles to disperse surging crowds.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson called it "spring fever on steroids." She said officials need to look at Isla Vista's overcrowding, its isolation from services and the permissive culture of binge drinking. Those factors have been exacerbated by the area's party-hard reputation.

"Students historically get together and party," Jackson said. "But it's not as extreme as what we saw on Saturday."

And a 17-year-old from Los Angeles, accused of starting the incident by wielding the bottle-filled backpack, has been charged with mayhem, resisting an officer and assault on a police officer. He was charged as an adult.

Much of the violence was blamed on visitors. Of 62 people cited or arrested who claimed to be students, only 16 said they were from UC Santa Barbara, according to preliminary data provided by Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office.

Still, UC Santa Barbara Associated Students President Jonathan Abboud said it was up to students to take responsibility.

After getting tear-gassed trying to calm the crowd, Abboud posted on Facebook that "what happened last night in Isla Vista was inevitable and we are in part to blame for it because we encouraged this culture."

The post generated more than 1,600 likes and 80 shares and seemed to speak to a new reality. Isla Vista is not only the locale for partying but has, over the last year, brought violence: multiple sexual assaults and stabbings, including one Saturday evening before the riot.

Some students criticized police for a heavy-handed approach and lack of communication. Students had just returned from spring break last week to find surveillance cameras among the palms towering over Del Playa Drive featuring large warning signs that they were being watched.

An Isla Vista Foot Patrol sergeant posted on Deltopia's Facebook page that no music would be allowed during the party and violators could be arrested.

"That's frightening to people," Abboud said. "When people feel constricted, they might lash out."

Abboud has called for a civil grand jury investigation to get an independent account of how things spiraled out of control.

Police defended their actions and said they were trying to keep the community safe when the mob turned on them.

University officials condemned the violence, and have held multiple meetings with student leaders to figure out how to ensure next year's party doesn't devolve into similar chaos.

Abboud said for many students it was the first time they felt like their concerns were really being heard by the university's staff.


Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams

Rand Paul: 'We Can't Invite The Whole World' To Immigrate To U.S.

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 14:03
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Sunday said that America "can't invite the whole world" to enter the country, no matter how much some immigrants may love the U.S.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Paul said that when lawmakers focus only on the reasons immigrants enter the U.S. illegally, it makes "people think, 'Well, because they're doing this for kind reasons,' that the whole world can come to our country."

Paul's comment was in response to a question about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's (R) recent statement that undocumented immigration was "an act of love," and not a felony. Bush's remarks were quickly criticized by conservatives who oppose immigration reform.

Paul was not among those critics, however. "I don't want to say [Bush] is terrible for saying this," Paul told ABC's Jonathan Karl. "If it were me, what I would have said is, people who seek the American dream are not bad people. However, we can't invite the whole world."

Paul declined to say outright whether or not he agreed with Bush, only saying that the former governor could have been "more artful, maybe, in the way he presented this."

"When you say they're doing an act of love, and you don't follow it up with 'but we have to control the border,' people think, 'Well, because they're doing this for kind reasons,' that the whole world can come to our country," he said.

Paul's response was notable for how carefully he worked to avoid implying that undocumented immigrants were somehow worse people than those who came to the U.S. legally. Experts believe that there are currently around 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., most of them from Central and South America.

A 2016 presidential hopeful, Paul also said Sunday that Republicans need to change the perception, held by "some people," that the party vilifies immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally.

Obama's New Health Secretary Nominee Draws Early Republican Fire

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 13:26

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON, April 13 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's new nominee for health secretary drew some early political fire from Republicans on Sunday in what could foreshadow a stormy election-year confirmation debate in the U.S. Senate over the future of the law known as Obamacare.

Two days after Obama nominated his budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Republican lawmakers alleged the new nominee could help the White House exert political control over Obamacare enrollment numbers and other data showing how well the reforms are working.

After a disastrous launch last year, the administration's enrollment drive has surpassed the most optimistic independent forecasts by signing up 7.5 million people in private health plans through new online insurance marketplaces.

That number is expected to grow and could approach the 8 million mark as applicants who were unable to complete the process by the March 31 deadline continue to sign up through federal and state-run marketplaces.

The results present a challenge for Republicans, who claim Obamacare is a failure that Americans should reject. They maintain that the actual number of enrollees could be much smaller than the administration's total and many have signed up for Obamacare plans because their original coverage was canceled as a result of the law.

"Burwell is an interesting choice. They know they've got a math problem with Obamacare and the numbers are not going to work out so that the program is actuarially sound," Representative Marsha Blackburn said on CBS' "Face the Nation" program.

"They're going to have to have somebody to kind of spin the numbers and this is something ... I think they're expecting her to be able to do for them," added Blackburn, a senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees healthcare issues.


Burwell, who would succeed outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as the public face of Obamacare, needs to be confirmed by the Senate before she can start the job. She sailed through the Senate last year for her current job as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with a 96-0 confirmation vote.

But Republicans say things may not be so easy this time.

"There is no doubt she was a good choice for OMB. That does not necessarily make her a good choice for HHS," Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina told "Fox News Sunday."

"Will the next secretary have Americans' (interests) first, or will they have the administration's policies and try to carry the water for the president?" he said.

"We are going to have an opportunity to discuss with Director Burwell her approach to making sure that the American people are the primary objective and not politics," Scott added.

Republicans hope to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats in November's midterm elections and see Obamacare's unpopularity as a key lever for attracting independent swing voters and turning out their own base.

But the strong enrollment results have revived Obama's fellow Democrats, who now hope the impending change in leadership at HHS will begin a new chapter for the law and help stave off blistering Republican attacks.

"It probably is a good thing to have a new face going forward," Democratic U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said on "Fox News Sunday."

Sebelius, whose tumultuous five-year term became overshadowed by last year's botched rollout, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that she made the decision to step down and told Obama in March, after the enrollment effort had bounced back and was meeting its targets.

"The site actually worked, and the great thing is there's a market behind the site that works even better. People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market," she said.

Blackburn scoffed at the idea that Sebelius' resignation would quell Republican opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"No, it's not going to quiet the controversy, I think it's quite the opposite," the Tennessee Republican said. "What it has done is to elevate some of the concerns." (Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Sarah Lynch; Editing by Jim Loney and Meredith Mazzilli)

Bill Maher And Pussy Riot Discuss Possibility Of Putin Being Gay

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 13:09
On Friday night's episode of HBO's "Real Time" two members of the political activist group Pussy Riot chatted with Bill Maher about their controversial and performative actions against the Russian government.

At one point, the three, along with Tolokonnikova’s husband, Petr Verzilov, who acted as a translator, discussed the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin being gay -- a rumor that has surfaced before.

“Vladimir Putin talks a lot about, ‘we’ve got to check the gays,’” said Maher. “And in my experience, any time somebody talks a lot about how we have to get the gays in line... it turns out that they’re really gay themselves... every time I see a picture of Putin, he’s got his shirt off.”

Watch the full clip above.

(h/t Towleroad)

Samantha Power: Talks With Iran Continue Amid Outrage Over Ambassador Pick

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 13:01
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States' ambassador to the United Nations says talks about Iran's nuclear program are continuing undisturbed by Washington's decision to block Tehran's ambassador to the diplomatic body.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power on Sunday told ABC's "This Week" that Iran's selection of Hamid Aboutalebi (ah-boo-TAH'-leh-bee) to be its United Nations envoy is not acceptable. She says Tehran should pick someone else. Iran has rejected that suggestion following Washington's refusal to give Aboutalebi a visa to enter the United States.

Aboutalebi was a member of the group responsible for the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Aboutalebi has insisted his involvement in the Muslim Students Following the Imam's Line was limited to translation and negotiation.

Thousands Protest In Moscow For Media Freedom

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 12:50

MOSCOW, April 13 (Reuters) - About 5,000 Russians, some waving Ukrainian flags, rallied in central Moscow on Sunday to protest at what they say is a government crackdown on independent media intended to stifle debate about the crisis in Ukraine.

In the past few weeks, Russia has removed the longtime editor of a popular Russian Internet news site Lenta.ru and taken an independent television channel off air.

The Kremlin denies allegations of censorship or pressure on the media. Most Russians support the Kremlin's policy on Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula has significantly boosted public approval ratings of President Vladimir Putin, polls indicate.

Protesters at the heavily policed rally listened to speeches from activists, decrying state control of the media.

"Russia's main problem at the moment is lying, a problem leading to war in Ukraine, (and) the isolation of Russia from the rest of the world," said Igor Yakovenko, the former head of Russia's Union of Journalists, who helped to organise the protest.

The crisis in Ukraine has led to the most serious standoff between Russia and the West in decades. Both sides accuse each other of manipulating the news for political ends.

In March, Russia blocked access to the blogs of prominent Kremlin foes Alexei Navalny and Garry Kasparov and other Internet sites that have become platforms for opposition voices.

The move followed the enactment of a law allowing prosecutors to order providers to block access to sites deemed to have published calls for participation in demonstrations planned without the consent of the government.

At Sunday's rally, protester Ekaterina Maldonko said the media atmosphere in Russia was reminiscent of the country's Communist totalitarian past.

"I'm here to protest against the rapid return of 1937, against censorship, (and) endless lies from our zombie-box (television). I also want to express my support for the heroes of Ukraine," Maldonko said.

Her mention of 1937 was a reference to the height of purges by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin who during his long rule sent of millions of people to their deaths. (Reporting by Alexander Reshetnikov; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Stephen Powell)

The Government Listens To Lobbyists And The Wealthy, Not You And Me

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 00:04
When organized interest groups or economic elites want a particular policy passed, there’s a strongly likelihood their wishes will come true. But when average citizens support something, they have next to no influence.

Sunday Roundup

Huffingon Post Politics - Sun, 2014-04-13 00:03
This was a week of reshuffling and resetting. On Friday, President Obama announced the resignation of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Yes, the Obamacare signup system was initially botched, but Sebelius also presided over a historic expansion of medical coverage, with the number of uninsured Americans having dropped to 2008 levels. On Thursday, David Letterman further shook up late night TV by announcing his replacement would be Stephen Colbert. As brilliant as he's been as "Stephen Colbert," it'll be exciting to see the full Colbert in action. Meanwhile, the Heartbleed computer bug reminded us how vulnerable we are to technology. As we take the time to strengthen our computer security by resetting passwords, we should also take the opportunity to fortify our inner strength and well-being by reminding ourselves to regularly "consciously uncouple" from our ever-present devices.

Bush Draws Boos From Conservatives

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-04-12 22:52
A mention of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), a potential 2016 presidential contender, brought boos from a conservative crowd in New Hampshire on Saturday.

Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-04-12 20:42
Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.

John Kerry Warns Russia Of Consequences After East Ukraine Attacks

Huffingon Post Politics - Sat, 2014-04-12 20:40

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed strong concern that attacks by armed militants in eastern Ukraine have been orchestrated and synchronized, and are similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

The State Department says that Kerry expressed his concern Saturday in a phone call with Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.

In a statement, the State Department says that Kerry made clear that if Russia does not take steps to de-escalate in eastern Ukraine and move its troops back from Ukraine's border, there would be additional consequences.

On Saturday, men in the uniforms of Ukraine's now-defunct riot police occupied police headquarters in one of the eastern cities that's become a flashpoint of a wave of pro-Russia protests. A Ukrainian official describes the unrest as "Russian aggression."