August 16, 2013 at 12:11 am #94866
President Obama speaks on the happenings in Egypt.
TGIF and Good Morning.
As you go through your day, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.August 16, 2013 at 12:12 am #94867
Good Morning, EveryoneAugust 16, 2013 at 12:14 am #94868
Phillip M. McKenzie @pmmcken
CRIME PAYS: Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald wants $50K for access to an interview with Snowden he will conduct himself. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324823804579014611497378326.html …
5:15 PM – 15 Aug 2013August 16, 2013 at 9:09 am #94869
McConnell digs a hole, falls in
By Steve Benen
Thu Aug 15, 2013 3:36 PM EDT
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talked to a local reporter this week about the Affordable Care Act, which he described as the “single worst piece of legislation passed in the last 50 years in the country.” The Republican senator restated his position that “we need to get rid of” the law.
But McConnell also made an off-hand comment that seemed wholly uninteresting at the time: “I mean, there are a handful of things in the 2,700 page bill that probably are OK, but that doesn’t warrant a 2,700 page takeover of all American health care.”
In 2013, with the right’s hysteria over health care seemingly getting worse, the comments are apparently controversial.August 16, 2013 at 9:16 am #94870
What the RNC chair considers ‘horrific’ and ‘racist’
By Steve Benen
Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:39 AM EDT
The Republican National Committee, as part of its summer meeting, held an event in Boston yesterday to highlight the party’s “Rising Stars,” with a clear emphasis on diversity. The party’s base may be older, male, and overwhelmingly white, but when the RNC wanted to feature future stars, they picked four people — including two women, a Latina state lawmaker, and an African-American state lawmaker.
But perhaps the more interesting aspect of this story was a quote, not from one of the “Rising Stars,” but from the head of the RNC itself. Brett LoGiurato reported:
In condemning Rep. Steve King’s incendiary comments on immigration, RNC chairman Reince Priebus swept in his party’s presidential nominee, saying that talk of “self-deportation” was “horrific” and even “racist.” [...]
“Using the word ‘self-deportation’ — it’s a horrific comment to make,” Priebus said, in a forceful rebuke. “I don’t think it has anything to do with our party. When someone makes those comments, obviously, it’s racist.”August 16, 2013 at 9:20 am #94871
The profound cynicism of Obamacare opponents
By Greg Sargent, Published: August 15 at 3:14 pm
Here’s a little tale that neatly reveals the real game plan of Obamacare opponents: Spread as much confusion and dishonesty about the law as possible, with the explicit goal of preventing Americans from realizing what benefits it carries for them.
The conservative group Americans for Prosperity is up with a new radio ad (embedded below) that decries the law as an impending disaster. Yet when you unpack the ad it’s actually more revealing about the strategic game plan behind this sort of political attack than it is about the law itself.
The ad features a worried mother who says the following: “Two years ago, my son Caleb began having seizures…if we can’t pick our own doctor, how do I know my family is going to get the care they need?”
FactCheck.org took a look at a previous version of this ad, and pronounced the claim that “we can’t pick our own doctor” under Obamacare to be false. What’s more, the invocation of a preexisting condition is a particularly audacious move in an ad that attacks a law that bans discrimination against people with preexisting conditions.
But perhaps the most revealing thing of all is the ad’s warning of public confusion about the law. To buttress the impression that the ad is a catastrophe, the ad claims: “ABC News says confusion and doubt are prognosis for Obamcare.”
And it’s true: The ABC News article in question does bear that headline. But the article actually presents this not as a sign that the law itself is flawed, but as a sign that the public remains ignorant about what’s actually in it. The article is about how many Americans, even those who stand to gain from the law, are not yet aware of its benefits.August 16, 2013 at 9:34 am #94874
New Snowden Bombshell Reveals Surveillance Errors Via Internal NSA Oversight
The Washington Post‘s Bart Gellman was one of the reporters who received stolen classified documents from Edward Snowden and who simultaneously, with Glenn Greenwald, broke the news about the National Security Agency’s PRISM system back in June. Gellman published another Snowden-based article on Thursday, also based on a top secret Snowden document, with the headline: NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds.
Gellman’s document contained information about 2,776 errors made by both NSA analysts and computers during three-quarters of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. The infractions included “operator error,” “computer error,” “typographical errors” and so forth. Inexplicably, Gellman jumped to the unverified conclusion that this occurs “thousands of times each year” even though the document only covers a one-year span, and he mentioned that one official “declined to disclose whether the trend has continued since last year.” So, one year, not multiple years. Interesting usage of Greenwald-style hyperbole right there.
More importantly, this was an internal audit, which means… oversight! It turns out, yes, obviously, NSA has multiple layers of oversight and exhaustive internal audits of the agency and its analysts as a means of both weeding out problems and then mitigating them. The elephant in the room is that the purpose of Gellman’s document, presumably from NSA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), is to keep detailed tabs on the agency. But Gellman never explicitly mentioned the OIG, just that the document is an “audit.” But it’s a fair to reach such a conclusion since internal audits are performed by various OIGs within all government agencies and departments.August 16, 2013 at 9:35 am #94875
Making sense of chaos
By Jonathan Bernstein, Published: August 15 at 5:57 pm
There’s a lot out there to keep track of on what we’re hearing about the GOP government shutdown/debt limit threats right now. So here’s a roundup. Remember: a government shutdown would come without funding bills (in the form of a continuing resolution, or “CR”) passing by the end of September. Later in the fall, the debt limit will be reached and Congress will have to act to prevent a government default or other catastrophe.
So where are we right now?
* Some conservatives are really pushing the threat to shut down the government unless the Affordable Care Act is “defunded.”
* However, Republican congressional leaders have fought back effectively, and many of the rank-and-file are buying the idea that Republicans could lose their majority over it. For example, here’s another House Republican making the case that Obamacare opponents should avoid a government shutdown, and here’s Tea Party Senator Ron Johnson making the same case.
* Smart and realistic Republican leaders are still looking for an attainable “ask” in budget negotiations.
* But it’s still possible that Republicans could fail to pass a CR anyway, even without the Obamacare threat.
* Partially because of a repeating dynamic in which many conservative Members of Congress want to be seen as the “real” conservatives who would run the government if only it wasn’t for squishes and RINOs constantly selling them out.August 16, 2013 at 10:59 am #94879
Designer who created Wikileaks store’s Snowden tee also designed dartboard with bullseye on President Obama’s head http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/42404_Wikileaks_Store_Snowden_T-Shirt_Designer_Sells_Dartboard_w-Bullseye_on_Obamas_Forehead …
9:47 AM – 16 Aug 2013August 16, 2013 at 11:24 am #94883
North Carolina law takes war on voting rights to a new low
By Editorial Board, Published: August 15
IN THE wake of the Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision, which gutted significant portions of the Voting Rights Act, it’s difficult to say which of the many recently passed voter-suppression bills constitutes the greatest threat to that most sacred of American freedoms: the right to vote. The contest has several leading contenders, but the winner just might be North Carolina’s especially draconian bill, signed into law on Monday.
The bill includes the usual provisions that have come to characterize the quiet assault on the franchise: a shortened early-voting period, the elimination of the state’s successful same-day registration program and, of course, a strict photo identification requirement despite any evidence of voter fraud in the state.
What makes this law unique is how much further it goes. It includes no fewer than 12 extra provisions that prohibit such things as counties extending polling hours by one hour in the event of unusual circumstances (such as, say, long lines); provisional voting should someone, say, mistakenly go to the wrong precinct; and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, who could previously register to vote before they turned 18.
The bill is a truly abominable piece of anti-democratic legislation, the only likely effect of which will be to make it increasingly difficult — maybe even impossible — for some people who don’t typically support Republicans to be able to vote. Sadly, none of that seemed to bother Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who signed it into law regardless.
“This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of states throughout the country,” the governor said in a statement. “This common sense safeguard is common-place.” Mr. McCrory is correct that laws like the one he signed are increasingly commonplace, but the only thing common about them is their lack of sense.
States do have a valid interest in ensuring that voters are who they say they are, but the same states that so vehemently defend these laws typically provide little assistance for those who lack the necessary documentation. In fact, if defending the franchise were really the intent, these laws would include positive measures that helped citizens meet new requirements instead of a laundry list of restrictions unrelated to a voter’s identity.August 16, 2013 at 11:58 am #94895
Got A Buck? Forget The Coffee, Buy A Actual House In Gary, Indiana!
Author: Deborah Montesano August 16, 2013 10:47 am
Like Detroit, the city of Gary, Indiana has lost half its population as jobs in the steel industry have vanished. Gary, however, has a plan to retain what’s left of its 80,000 citizens. For $1, a resident can buy one of the 10,000 abandoned homes in the city.
The homes aren’t all being offered at once, and some will be razed. But for those who meet the requirements, ownership is now a possibility. Those requirements include:
a residency of at least six months in the city
a minimum income of $35,250 for one adult or $40,350 for two.
payment of yearly taxes
bringing the house up to code within six months
living in the house for five years before assuming full ownership
These conditions are designed to keep profiteering investors out of the process and instill pride of ownership instead. Suddenly, the process includes a whole lot of people who might not otherwise have had a prayer.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced the program in June. It’s not an entirely new idea. She bought her first home 25 years ago under a similar HUD program–for a dollar. As she tells it:
It had an overwhelming impact on my living in the city of Gary and contributing to it.August 16, 2013 at 11:59 am #94896
Dems Defy Obama on Mortgage Protections
[....] The CFPB’s new mortgage rule is intended to prevent lenders from directing borrowers toward higher-cost loans that earn the lenders more money—a practice that helped lead to the financial crisis.[....] The new mortgage fee cap also says that fees for certain types of title insurance—which protects the value of a homeowner’s property in case of losses due to defects in the property title—have to be included in the 3 percent cap, to avoid another conflict of interest.[...]
The whole point of the CFPB rule is “to make sure that brokers are more likely to work in the interest of homeowners,” says Alys Cohen, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC). The bills—backed by Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), David Scott (D-Ga.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), and David Loebsack (D-Iowa)—could re-create the pre-crisis state of affairs.[....]August 16, 2013 at 12:22 pm #94905
Koch brothers thrive on healthcare confusion
By Steve Benen
Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:12 AM EDT.
Earlier this week, Reince Priebus, commenting on the Affordable Care Act, said, “People know what Obamacare is. It’s European, socialist-style type health care.” The quote struck me as fairly hilarious because the second sentence helps debunk the first — anyone who the federal U.S. system is in anyway similar to European, socialist-style type health care clearly has no idea what “Obamacare” is.
The truth is, most Americans remain confused about the basics, and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity apparently hope to make matters much worse on purpose.
Last month, AFP invested $1 million in support of a remarkably dishonest ad campaign, hoping to mislead Americans about the health care system, and this week, the right-wing group is at it again, making a six-figure ad buy in support of a radio ad.
The problem, of course, is that the message of the ad is pure garbage. Salon called it the “stupidest anti-Obamacare campaign ever,” and given some of the advertising in recent years, that’s no small claim.
The spot features a woman voice that tells listeners, “Two years ago, my son Caleb began having seizures … if we can’t pick our own doctor, how do I know my family is going to get the care they need?”
In reality, there’s simply nothing in the Affordable Care Act that stops consumers from choosing their own doctor. Literally, not one provision. Under a variety of HMOs, there are limits on out-of-network physicians, but that was an American norm long before “Obamacare” came around.
For that matter, if you’re a parent of a kid with seizures, the Affordable Care Act is perhaps the best friend you’ve ever had — not only does the law protect you and your family’s coverage, but it extends protections to those with pre-existing conditions, and ends annual and lifetime caps. And since treating children with seizures can get a little pricey, that’s important.
So why are the Koch brothers saying largely the opposite? Because they hope to use deceptions to scare people. It’s as simple as that.August 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm #94907
Dems Defy Obama on Mortgage Protections
Twelve Democrats in the House and Joe Manchin in the Senate have cosponsored bills that would gut new protections on home loans.
—By Erika Eichelberger
| Thu Aug. 15, 2013 3:00 AM PDT
Last week, President Barack Obama laid out his new housing plan, emphasizing the importance of safe, simple, affordable mortgages. But lawmakers in his own party are working against him, trying to gut historic new safeguards on home loans.
A new mortgage rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that takes effect January 1 limits fees on new home loans to three percent. The regulation is “one of the most direct and important responses to the mortgage crisis,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) argued in a recent editorial in American Banker. But 12 House Democrats and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have joined with Republicans to cosponsor bills that would eviscerate the new cap and clear the way for lenders to steer Americans into riskier, higher-cost loans.
The CFPB’s new mortgage rule is intended to prevent lenders from directing borrowers toward higher-cost loans that earn the lenders more money—a practice that helped lead to the financial crisis. Tens of thousands of borrowers, especially minorities, were sold costly subprime loans even when they qualified for more affordable loans, because those loans were more profitable for lenders and brokers, according to a 2011 investigation by the Justice Department. The three percent fee cap effectively ends that conflict of interest.
The new mortgage fee cap also says that fees for certain types of title insurance—which protects the value of a homeowner’s property in case of losses due to defects in the property title—have to be included in the 3 percent cap, to avoid another conflict of interest. In most real estate deals, the lender shops for title insurance for the borrower. If the lender’s company also owns a title insurance company, the lender has an incentive to buy expensive title insurance for the homeowner from that company, since it would benefit his business.
The whole point of the CFPB rule is “to make sure that brokers are more likely to work in the interest of homeowners,” says Alys Cohen, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC). The bills—backed by Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), David Scott (D-Ga.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), and David Loebsack (D-Iowa)—could re-create the pre-crisis state of affairs.August 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm #94908
‘For a criminal practice, there has to be a gun’
By Steve Benen
Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:44 AM EDT.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) hosted a town-hall event in his district this week, and was asked by a constituent about his position on Glass-Steagall and “Wall Street criminal practices” in general. The congressman’s response was … unusual.
For those who can’t watch clips online, McClintock told voters, “Well first of all, for a criminal practice, there has to be a gun. It’s pretty simple.”
Now, McClintock is pretty far out there — he boasts about his memberships in the far-right Republican Study Committee and Tea Party Caucus — but I doubt he means this literally. Car thieves are engaged in a criminal practice, whether or not they carry a gun. Those who sell drugs to children are also engaged in a criminal practice, armed or unarmed.
But in context, McClintock seems to believe financial industry crimes aren’t terribly serious. Indeed, he specifically referenced predatory loans, apparently unclear what they even are: “When I hear about predatory lending, for example, my first question is, well that’s just terrible. You shouldn’t be allowed to force somebody to take out a loan they don’t want.”
First, that’s not actually a question. Second, after watching the video a few times, I think he means that unless a loan is accepted at gunpoint, he doesn’t much care.
In any case, McClintock went on to endorse a largely unregulated financial system: instead of preventing crises, we’ll just “stop bailing out people’s bad decisions.”
The very idea of financial industry improprieties seems like a foreign concept to the congressman — apparently because industry insiders carry a fountain pen instead of a literal firearm.
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