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Mike Huckabee's Facebook Fans Tear Him To Shreds For Defending Josh Duggar

May 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

The former Arkansas Governor may have finally done something too crazy for his base.


This morning, GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee posted a lengthy Facebook status affirming his “support for the Duggar family,” saying that Josh Duggar – who confessed to molestation – is being attacked by “blood-thirsty media” and deserves “our support.”

This set off a surprising reaction among Huckabee's Facebook fans, with a chorus of his once-supportive Republican loyalists declaring that he had lost their vote over his words on the matter. Here are a few examples:

 

Read more of the responses here.

Related Stories

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Source: ALTERNET

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Robert Reich: Bernie Sanders Is Right—We Need Free College for All

May 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, RobertReich.org

Higher education isn’t just a personal investment. It’s a public good that pays off in a more competitive workforce and better-informed and engaged citizens.


Senator Bernie Sanders is making waves with a big idea to reinvent education: Making public colleges and universities tuition-free.

 

I couldn’t agree more. Higher education isn’t just a personal investment. It’s a public good that pays off in a more competitive workforce and better-informed and engaged citizens. Every year, we spend nearly $100 billion on corporate welfare, and more than $500 billion on defense spending. Surely ensuring the next generation can compete in the global economy is at least as important as subsidies for big business and military adventures around the globe.

 

In fact, I think we can and must go further — not just making public higher education tuition-free, but reinventing education in America as we know it. (That’s the subject of this latest video in my partnership with MoveOn, “The Big Picture: Ten Ideas to Save the Economy.” Please take a moment to watch now.)

 

In the big picture, much of our education system — from the bells that ring to separate classes to memorization drills — was built to mirror the assembly lines that powered the American economy for the last century. As educators know, what we need today is a system of education that cultivates the critical thinking skills necessary for the economy of tomorrow.

 

We have to reinvent education because it’s not working for too many of our kids – who are either dropping out of high school because they aren’t engaged, or not getting the skills they need, or paying a fortune for college and ending up with crushing student debt.

 

How do we get there?

 

<span style="font-size: 16px;font-family: Arial;vertical-align: baseline;background-color: …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Should We Have Waged the Iraq War?' Is Not a Gotcha Question

May 22, 2015 in Economics

By Justin Logan

Justin Logan

A peculiar tic of contemporary American nationalism is the notion that the American state, particularly if helmed by a Republican president, makes no errors of commission in its conduct of military affairs. No American war was ill-founded, or aimed at a threat that didn’t exist or didn’t warrant the effort.

This logic never applies in the domestic sphere for Republicans, where government programs are at best naive and bound to make problems worse or at worst, venal and Machiavellian.

This tic is the only reason I can think of that we’re actually sustaining a debate in 2015 about whether, with the benefit of hindsight, it was a good idea to invade Iraq. Jim Fallows at the Atlantic argues that nobody should again ask a politician the question, since

To the extent voters—and donors—care about competent foreign policy, they deserve to know the answer.”

the only people who might say Yes on the Iraq question would be those with family ties (poor Jeb Bush); those who are inept or out of practice in handling potentially tricky questions (surprisingly, again poor Bush); or those who are such Cheney-Bolton-Wolfowitz-style bitter enders that they survey the landscape of “what we know now”—the cost and death and damage, the generation’s worth of chaos unleashed in the Middle East, and of course the absence of WMDs—and still say, Heck of a job.

I actually think this makes the case why the question should be—or at least should have been—asked, since at least one fortunate Republican son, Marco Rubio, belongs in Fallows’s bitter-ender camp. To the extent voters—and donors—care about competent foreign policy, they deserve to know that Rubio strongly opposes it, even with the benefit of hindsight.

But beyond the politics, a weird narrative has begun to emerge on the right that asking about the Iraq war is a “gotcha question.” Keep in mind: We are discussing a policy that was dreamed up by the Bush administration, marketedby the Bush administration and purchased by the vast majority of our legislators, including the likely Democratic nominee in 2016.

For example, conservative message man Rush Limbaugh whined on his radio show that this is nothing more than a “gotcha question” designed to tarnish Republicans. Iraq War monger Eliot Cohen would later echo this argument, lamenting “gotcha journalism” and calling the question a “silly hypothetical, and the people who ask it should know better.”

Pardon me. Nearly 5,000 Americans …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Bill O’Reilly & Josh Duggar’s Shame Is America’s Shame: How Abusive And Violent Men Get Away With It

May 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Katie McDonough, Salon

Celebrity and wealth help conceal abuse, but the system makes ignoring it pretty easy for everyone.


Bill O’Reilly is alleged to have choked his wife and dragged her down a set of stairs. He also sexually harassed a former producer at his network and allegedly threatened retaliation when she complained. He is still a marquee name at Fox News. Josh Duggar sexually abused at least five underage girls, and his abuse was known to his family and his church. Until this week, he was the head of the political arm of the Family Research Council, cozying up with Republican presidential hopefuls.

Put aside the tabloid spin on O’Reilly’s perch at Fox or Duggar’s work to deny rights to and spread hate against LGBTQ people, and these are stories about violence against women, ignored and unpunished. There are so many stories like them.

It is true that both of these men have built their careers claiming their bigotry as morality and hatefully judging, blaming and castigating others. And because of that, there is a particular kind of stink that comes with reading about the crimes they are alleged to or have committed. But make no mistake: the silences around these cases aren’t unique. Bill O’Reilly and Josh Duggar faced zero consequences for their alleged actions and crimes because that’s how these things tend to go.

Duggar released a statement Thursday night calling his abuse “wrongdoing,” and said that he “took several steps” to address it with his parents and church so that he wouldn’t end up “ruining [his] life.” Set aside how Duggar’s statement frames the abuse in terms of how it may have affected his own life rather than the harm he did to other human beings, and the confession remains chilling. As does every detail in the police report that came out this week.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were aware of their son’s abuse and waited to report it. Instead of going immediately to the police or entering Josh into an intervention program for juvenile sexual predators, they chose to “deal” with it themselves. The Duggar parents …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Hedge Fund Manager Compares Paying More Taxes to the Holocaust

May 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Clearly, these are the same thing.


The so-called “hedge-fund loophole” – where people who work in an industry where you easily earn millions of dollars a year pay a paltry low income tax rate of 15 percent – is a frequent target of ire for American taxpayers. It's very plainly seen as unfair that teachers or small business owners would be paying a higher tax rate than folks earning huge incomes on Wall Street.

To one hedge fund manager – who gave an anonymous quote to CNBC – this is a positively genocidal train of thought.

One prominent investor—who, like others, asked to remain anonymous given the divisive subject—called the rhetoric “class warfare” and noted other times in history, including before World War II, when financial speculators were unfairly blamed by politicians.

“Instead of the Jews, it's the hedge fund managers,” the person said.

Venture capitalist Tony Perkins previously made a similar remark in 2014, saying treatment of wealthy Americans today is like Jews in Nazi Germany.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Memo to Congress: Don't Do Something, Just Stand There

May 22, 2015 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

Congress has a golden opportunity over the next six weeks to significantly improve public policy and expand American freedom by doing nothing. In fact, a long vacation would be just the ticket.

The Export-Import Bank’s authorization expires on June 30, after being kicked down the road from last September. Let it expire.

And the Patriot Act’s most controversial provisions — bulk collection of Americans’ phone records stemming from Section 215 (already ruled illegal by a federal court), roving wiretap authority, and “lone wolf” provisions — will expire on June 1 unless they are reauthorized.

A six-week vacation would give a boost to economic growth and our Fourth Amendment privacy rights. It’s a win-win.”

This is a great opportunity for Congress to take a long vacation — go back to their districts and find out what’s on voters’ minds, take a fact-finding trip to Paris and Rome, or just relax at the beach — and let these misguided laws expire.

Members should stay on vacation through the Fourth of July and come back to Washington after listening to some speeches about our inalienable rights, free enterprise, and the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Ex-Im Bank is the most visible example of cronyism and corporate welfare, which has lately come under fire from both Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street activists. It has an especially close relationship with Boeing, which receives about 40 percent of the bank’s subsidies.

Free enterprise means that people are free to start and build companies, seek customers, and make profits if they succeed. The system works well if there’s competition. But subsidy programs like Ex-Im put a thumb on the scale. They help some companies at the expense of others. The bank backs only about 2 percent of American exports, with 76 percent of its assistance going to a few big companies such as Boeing, General Electric, and Bechtel. Government shouldn’t be picking winners, it should set a few rules of the road and let companies go out and compete vigorously for customers.

Members of Congress committed to free enterprise and competition should let the Ex-Im Bank die, no matter what the Chamber of Commerce and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) say.

As for the Patriot Act provisions, we’ve heard plenty of dire warnings from advocates of the surveillance state. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says vacuuming up …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul's Great Surveillance 'Filibuster' and What to Expect Next

May 22, 2015 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington, Jennifer Granick

Patrick G. Eddington and Jennifer Granick

Senator Rand Paul, joined by Senator Wyden and other surveillance reform advocates, as well as five members of the House of Representatives, spent much of last night on the Senate floor, making history. He used the platform of a de facto filibuster to name drop privacy and civil liberties advocates like EFF’s Mark Jaycox, former NSA whistleblowers like cryptographer William Binney, and of course America’s Founders, to make his case for surveillance reform. He was joined by Senator Mike Lee with a history lesson on The North Briton No. 45, and Senator Martin Heinrich giving a dramatic reading of the Fourth Amendment from the floor.

Paul filibustered a bill offered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would reauthorize section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Section 215 is the purported legal basis for the NSA’s dragnet collection of American’s phone records, and is scheduled to sunset, or expire, June 1.

Paul has all but assured that 215 will sunset — at least until Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess in early June.”

However, by filibustering yesterday, Paul all but ensured that section 215 will not be reauthorized. The reason why is the arcane legislative procedures of the Senate. In brief, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell can’t bring his reauthorization bill to a vote without cloture, a procedural vote required to end debate and move to a vote on the underlying measure and any related amendments. After a cloture vote, the Senate gets 30 hours before the bill can be voted on up or down and to address any amendments offered. That brings us into, or even past, the weekend. But the House goes on recess after last votes today (expected to be completed by 3pm), and doesn’t come back until June 1, after section 215 sunsets.

So, by Paul filibustering up till midnight, and with time so tight, the Senate is left with a choice: either sunset 215 or pass USAFreedom as it is. But … and this is where Senator Paul diverges from some of his colleagues in the filibuster … Paul wants a robust discussion and amendment process for USA Freedom Act. Again, a variation on USA Freedom can’t be passed before the House leaves.

Through his filibuster, Paul has all but assured that 215 will sunset — at least until Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess in early June. At that point, some surveillance reform …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Glaring (Ir)Relevance of Ramadi

May 22, 2015 in Economics

By A. Trevor Thrall, Erik Goepner, Maxwell Pappas

A. Trevor Thrall, Erik Goepner, and Maxwell Pappas

What does the fall of Ramadi mean? Even as the Obama administration acknowledged that Ramadi was a setback, spokesman Josh Earnest shrugged it off, declaring that the administration won’t “light our hair on fire” every time there is a setback in Iraq. Meanwhile, hawkish critics of U.S. policy have jumped on the defeat to justify their call for a more robust response. The Pentagon first said Ramadi would be a significant loss, but then argued that it wasn’t. Senator John McCain, on the other hand, labeled the defeat an “abysmal failure.”

Rhetorical positioning aside, the fall of Ramadi is essentially irrelevant to the final outcome in Iraq. Though a city of moderate strategic value considering its proximity to Fallujah and Baghdad, Ramadi does not spell victory for ISIS anymore than Iraq’s retaking of Tikrit from the insurgents spelled defeat for ISIS (despite suggestions to the contrary from the Obama administration). The battle for Iraq will depend on the ability of the Iraqi government to mobilize enough effective fighting power to stop the ISIS expansion. Unfortunately for Iraq, despite over a decade of U.S. investment in training and equipment, Iraq’s military appears incapable of mustering consistent fighting effectiveness to deal a decisive blow to ISIS on the battlefield. The only sure way Iraq can hope to defeat ISIS is by encouraging greater external intervention in the form of airstrikes, weapons, and most importantly of all—ground troops.

Second, Ramadi is irrelevant because, absent a dramatic change after the 2016 elections, it will not change U.S. policy. The fall of Ramadi makes clear that limited U.S. airstrikes are not enough to do the job, but even more clear that Obama has no intention of sending enough military force to change, however briefly, the momentum on the ground. As Susan Rice told USA Today, “We are not going to own this battle as Americans and put combat forces back on the ground again,” she said. “That is not what we are about.” Iraq will get more weapons, more equipment, and a higher tempo training program, but these will not be enough.

Ramadi does not spell victory for ISIS anymore than Iraq’s retaking of Tikrit from the insurgents spelled defeat for ISIS.”

If the U.S. military had managed to transform the Iraqi military into an effective fighting force during eight years of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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If You Don't Want Your Food Genetically Modified, Tell Nature to Stop It.

May 22, 2015 in Economics

By Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar

Chipotle hit the headlines last week when the company announced it would no longer serve customers genetically modified foods. This despite the fact that more than a trillion meals containing genetically modified food have already been eaten in the United States without incident. Science has decisively found that these foods have no negative impact on health.

Chipotle’s move seems to be based more on marketing than on science.

Recent research drives home how misled alarmists are about genetically modified food. All human beings, two Cambridge University scientists have established, are genetically modified, including Chipotle’s customers. Over the years, hundreds of foreign genes have jumped into human DNA through a natural phenomenon called “gene flow.” As a result, all humans carry genes that originated in algae, bacteria and fungi.

If humans can safely accept alien genes without mishap, why not food, too?

Science has decisively found that these foods have no negative impact on health.”

Farmers and breeders have for centuries used cross-breeding to improve the genetic characteristics of crops and animals. Because this process involves gene transfers within the same species, environmental advocates label it “natural” — even though cross-breeding is clearly man-made. Modern genetic splicing makes it possible to combine genes from completely different species to produce much-needed products, including pest-resistant and high-yielding crops.

The Bt gene from pest-resistant bacteria, for example, has been inserted into cotton to create a pest-resistant Bt cotton. The combination has greatly raised yields and reduced pesticide use. But some activists condemn this as a crime against nature.

When fears about genetically modified foods first arose, little was known about gene flow, also called horizontal gene transfer. The idea that genes could jump across species violated then-conventional wisdom. But scientific research has established that natural gene transfers regularly occur. So genetic transfers are not a human invention — just a belated human effort to imitate what nature has been doing all along.

This discovery has convinced some longtime campaigners against genetically modified crops to make a U-turn. British author and journalist Mark Lynas, for example, converted from being an activist opposed to genetically modified food to a firm supporter in a notable 2013 mea culpa speech, in which he apologized for letting his opinions trump the scientific data.

Scientists once thought that gene transfers occurred naturally only in simple organisms like bacteria. But research shows that transfers are also common in complex species, including human beings. Does …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Minimalist Surveillance Reforms of USA Freedom

May 22, 2015 in Economics

The Senate on Tuesday passed (and President Obama later signed into law) the USA Freedom Act, which reforms the way U.S. agencies conduct surveillance and gather data. Cato scholar Patrick G. Eddington argues that while the USA Freedom Act is an improvement, it still needs work: “Even the USA Freedom Act would not end the executive branch’s authority to collect metadata; it would (assuming the best case scenario) simply narrow the scope of such metadata collection.”

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES