July 8, 2013 at 8:31 am #92238
Some videos about the First Family’s recent trip to Africa.
As you begin a new week, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate.
Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.July 8, 2013 at 8:32 am #92239
Good Morning, EveryoneJuly 8, 2013 at 8:36 am #92240
You can follow a liveblog of the George Zimmerman trial here:July 8, 2013 at 8:38 am #92241
Sufficient evidence has been introduced to support a guilty verdict in Zimmerman case
Sunday, July 7, 2013
NBC’s Dan Abrams, whom I generally respect, has announced that he believes the jury will find the the defendant not guilty of both murder 2 and manslaughter. Given the State’s difficult burden to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, which he believes to be impossible since the defendant has a coherent theory of the case supported by many witnesses as well as the photographs showing the injuries to his head, he said that he does not see any way that the jury can convict him.
In reaching that opinion, I believe Abrams commits the same mistake that so many of his colleagues commit on a daily basis regarding all of the important stories and issues of the day. They assume that there are two sides to every story and each side has both strengths and weaknesses. In other words, they assume the opposing sides are roughly equally legitimate. This assumption is not based on a thorough evidence based review of the respective sides or an objective evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing arguments.
In fact, the assumption of equivalency is a false assumption and an extremely poor substitute for investigative journalism and critical thinking.
Abrams also commits another mistake by failing to acknowledge that the jury will decide how much weight to assign to the evidence. For example, the jury could decide that the defendant is a liar and disregard everything he said that is not independently supported by other credible evidence.
For a long time I have been describing this case a simple case. The jury can reasonably infer based on the evidence introduced at trial that the defendant attempted to locate and physically prevent Trayvon Martin from being yet another fucking punk and asshole who always escapes out the rear entrance of the neighborhood before the police arrive. They could also reasonably conclude that Trayvon uttered the terrified death shriek since he was unarmed and the shriek ended with the gunshot. Finally, they also could conclude that the absence of any of the defendant’s blood or DNA on Trayvon Martin’s hoodie means Trayvon did not attack the defendant.
Anyone who has taken the time to study this case should realize that there is sufficient evidence in the record to support a verdict of guilty to murder 2.
Indeed, Judge Nelson so ruled on Friday.
Therefore, Abrams opinion that there is not sufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict is flat out wrong.July 8, 2013 at 8:42 am #92242
Stupid Linings Playbook: Boehner & Ryan Cook Up A Plan That Hands Dems the 2014 Election
By: Jason Easley
Jul. 7th, 2013
John Boehner and Paul Ryan have cooked up a debt ceiling plan that is so unpopular that it hands the Democrats the 2014 election. It is truly one of the most transparently stupid strategies ever.
The National Journal reported that Paul Ryan and John Boehner are working on a list of debt ceiling “options:”
House Speaker John Boehner is now working with several leading conservatives – including Scalise and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan – to draft the options menu.
It is based on what’s known as the Ryan budget, according to Rep. Tom Price, a far-right spending plan passed by the House that’s been written off by Democrats as nothing more than a political document that decimates support for the poor and hurts the middle class. And it will outline what Obama will have to agree to for whatever length extension he wants.
For a long-term deal, one that gives Treasury borrowing authority for three-and-a-half years, Obama would have to agree to premium support. The plan to privatize Medicare, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Ryan budget, is the holy grail for conservatives who say major deficit-reduction can only be achieved by making this type of cut to mandatory spending. “If the president wants to go big, there’s a big idea,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
For a medium-sized increase in the debt-limit, Republicans want Obama to agree to cut spending in the SNAP food stamp program, block-grant Medicaid, or tinker with chained CPI.
For a smaller increase, there is talk of means-testing Social Security, for example, or ending certain agricultural subsidies.
While the menu includes plenty of variables, the underlying strategic goal is to reduce mandatory spending — whatever the scope of the deal. Even at the smallest end of the spectrum — another months-long extension of debt-limit — there is talk of pushing back the eligibility age for Social Security by an equal number of months.
House Republicans are and will try to sell this as their attempt to compromise, but everything major on their list of options contains nothing that President Obama and congressional Democrats want. Boehner and Ryan are seemingly clueless to the fact that they are trying to win the message war with a really lousy message that has already been repeatedly rejected by the voters. If they want to make the 2014 election about Medicare and Social Security, Democrats will be more than happy to do that.
The House is responsible for raising the debt ceiling. President Obama doesn’t have to agree to any of these options, because he isn’t running for reelection ever again. Obama can say no to them all, and Democrats can use these options against Republicans in the 2014 election campaign. Boehner and Ryan are setting the whole Republican Party up for failure next year.July 8, 2013 at 8:44 am #92243
Republicans Have Gone From Hating the Government to Hating America
Jul. 7th, 2013
Few Americans ever witness firsthand the level of evil human beings are capable of in countries where monstrous dictators slaughter their own citizens, or partisan extremists murder innocent civilians based on their ethnicity or religious affiliation; that is a benefit of living in a civilized society. However, there is an element in this country exhibiting the same inhumane qualities toward their fellow citizens that Americans hear about in lawless African nations and governments dominated by Islamic extremists, and the atrocities are at the hands of Republicans beholden to corporations and religious extremists. It appears that just as one thinks Republicans can hardly stoop any lower in their assault on Americans, they sink to another level of severity and it is unlikely the people have seen or felt the full force of inhumanity inherent in extremism permeating the Republican Party.
There are hardly comparisons in American history of an entire party acquiescing to the will and whim of extremists in their ranks, and their willingness to act in concert with cruel fanatics condemns the entire party; not just the extremist wing. What is astonishing, really, is that after four years of obstruction, phony debt crises, killing jobs, attacks on women, and obviously deliberate attempts to thwart economic recovery that cost them dearly in the 2012 election, Republicans could not even wait for 2013 to unleash more severity on the people. It is true a major factor in the GOP’s four-year assault on Americans has its basis in their racial animus toward President Obama, but after he won re-election it is glaringly obvious their hatred is toward the American people as much as the government meant to serve them.
The first few months of 2013 were dominated by Republican atrocities such as blocking benign gun safety measures, wasting time repealing the Affordable Care Act, fabricated scandals involving the IRS doing its job, the attack on diplomats in Benghazi, and blocking the budget process after Senate Democrats passed a budget the GOP complained was lacking for four years. In fact, following up their non-existent performance in the President’s first term, Republicans have made absolutely no attempt to govern save their rapid deployment to pass legislation protecting wealthy airline passengers “suffering” the effects of their sequester cuts. However, the past two months have brought out the most extreme assault on Americans in Republican states and in Congress, and no demographic is being spared callous disregard that is the new normal in Republican politics.July 8, 2013 at 8:47 am #92244
What a Fool Believes: Mitch McConnell Is Cynically Playing the Tea Party
By: Sarah Jones
Jul. 7th, 2013
Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was scared. So scared that when he wasn’t plotting to bring down then possible opponent Ashley Judd by using her personal life against her in a dirty, desperate move, he wormed his way into the bed of the Paul family, as in Rand Paul, Ron Paul, etc. With the Pauls by his side, McConnell could inoculate himself against the primary rage of the Tea Party.
Detailing how the “Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has forged an alliance with tea party darling Rand Paul, picked up support from other national tea party leaders and brought in a campaign manager from the upper echelons of the tea party movement”, Yahoo traced McConnell’s wheeling and dealing back to his recent campaign manager Jesse Benton:July 8, 2013 at 8:50 am #92245
‘Overregulation’ for me, not for thee
By Steve Benen
Mon Jul 8, 2013 8:00 AM EDT
It’s been a couple of weeks since Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) took on his chief Democratic rival, state Sen. Wendy Davis, commenting on her teenaged pregnancy during a speech at the National Right To Life conference. The governor’s comments generated criticism from his own allies, and yesterday on Fox, Perry still struggled to explain what he was thinking.
For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s how the governor explained himself:
“Actually, those comments were meant to be a compliment to her for what she had accomplished in her life, and you think about where she came from, what she’s accomplished. And as a matter of fact, I would think that she’s very proud of that as well.
“My point was that saving a life and letting that life come to its fulfillment and all the good things that happened, you never know when who’s going to be considered to be an extraordinary individual who’s going to make that real impact and life. And that was our point that we were making, and nothing else, nothing more.
You can watch Perry’s original comments and see for yourself whether this makes any sense — it sounded to me like Perry has looked at Davis’ life, and has taken it upon himself to decide what lessons she should have drawn from it. What’s more, listening to the governor yesterday, it sounded like he might also have been making an argument against birth control, because after all, if people use methods to prevent conception, “you never know” what kind of life they’re preventing.
In the meantime, though the subject did not come up during Perry’s “Fox News Sunday” appearance, perhaps now would be a good time to consider why the governor and his party are preoccupied with reproductive rights, but have done nothing to address exploding fertilizer plants.July 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm #92260
Just a question to the TWIB Verse. Will they every use another photo of Trayvon Martin or are they going to keep using the cropped photo ?July 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm #92269
The George Zimmerman trial is the worst fear of every black family
By David Dennis, The Guardian
Sunday, July 7, 2013 13:28 EDT
The Trayvon Martin case has been nothing short of heartbreak from the very beginning. Regardless of what anyone believes about Trayvon’s past, his innocence or George Zimmerman’s, the fact remains that a teenager is dead. I honestly didn’t think I would get emotionally broken up more than I was over the story that Rachel Jeantel’s friendship with Martin stemmed from the fact he was one of the only people who never picked on her. The story painted such a tragic picture of friendship and two people whose lives will never be the same.
Then came this week’s testimonies and reactions from Trayvon Martin’s parents to leave me – and so much of America – floored. On Friday morning, Sybrina Fulton took the stand to talk about her son. As part of her testimony she had to identify her child’s screams in his finals seconds of life. Later in the day, Tracy Martin had to sit in court as the medical examiner, Dr Bao, explained how Trayvon died in severe pain and was alive for minutes after getting shot in the chest.July 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm #92270
The Opening Salvo of 2014
A Koch brothers ad attacking Obamacare begins airing today. It’s smart, savvy, and likely to be effective. Are Democrats ready to respond?
by Michael Tomasky Jul 8, 2013 6:07 AM EDT
Starting today, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ propaganda arm, will run an ad, the first of several that are planned, to attack Obamacare. This marks the official opening salvo of the 2014 election campaign. With no accomplishments, no remotely popular vision of the country, on the cusp of possibly killing immigration reform, and perhaps admitting (at least to themselves) that Benghazi and the IRS are not going to be Barack Obama’s undoing after all, Republicans have been reduced to grasping at their final straw: frightening people about health-care reform. The sad thing is, they stand a decent chance of succeeding. It’s too much to say that the fate of Obama’s legacy hinges on the fate of Obamacare. But it’s probably not too much to say that no other single item will loom as large in determining, 10 to 15 years from now, how Obama’s presidency will be seen. And it’s definitely accurate to say that this is going to be the consuming and defining fight of the remainder of his presidency.
The debut Koch brothers ad is very smart. They’re not shooting for the expected geriatric caucus, or even for the middle-aged couple singing the kitchentable blues à la Harry and Louise. No—here, we have a young mother, pretty (not perky pretty but interesting-looking pretty; she might read books, might even be a liberal) and self-assured. She is “Julie, mother of two.” She speaks of her son “Caleb’s” health issues as a toddler (Caleb!). She’s also pregnant—great touch, that. I don’t know if she’s real or an actress, but if real, I guess I congratulate them for finding her, because they couldn’t have done better making it up.
She goes on to voice her concerns about Obamacare, starting with that old chestnut “If we can’t pick our own doctor…” Nonsense. Conservatives, when asked to defend this, do so by explaining that, well, if A happens and then B and then C, it could … in other words, it’s a Rube Goldberg answer that no one should take seriously. Then there’s “higher premiums and a smaller paycheck.” I don’t know where the “smaller paycheck” comes from (maybe she works for the government and has been furloughed two days a month). But as for the premiums, well, yes, increases are possible. But something beneficial is happening in exchange for those higher rates: sick people who couldn’t previously get insurance will be able to get it now, and more types of medical services will be covered and reimbursed. If you actually want to learn something about this interplay between premium increases and coverage, read this report from the state of California.
But of course talking about all that is explaining, not emoting. On TV, emoting works a lot better, and so Julie here gets the job done. The pro-reform side has its own answering ad and it’s fine, but it’s not as effective. It makes the usual liberal mistake of thinking people will listen to an argument instead of just responding to earnest pleas from pretty blondes.July 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm #92271
By Steve Benen
Mon Jul 8, 2013 8:37 AM EDT
If we were to make a list of competitive Senate races to watch in 2014, Wyoming wouldn’t make the cut. Sen. Mike Enzi is a popular Republican incumbent in a deep-red state — he won re-election in 2008 with more than 75% of the vote — and at age 69, the senator is not yet in a position where he needs to think about retirement. Enzi’s fourth term looks like one of the cycle’s safest bets.
At least, it did. In an era in which even conservative Republican incumbents have to worry about fierce primary challenges, Enzi will apparently have a high-profile foe next year.
A young Dick Cheney began his first campaign for the House in this tiny village [Lusk, Wyoming] — population 1,600 — after the state’s sole Congressional seat finally opened up. But nowadays, his daughter Liz does not seem inclined to wait patiently for such an opening.
Ms. Cheney, 46, is showing up everywhere in the state, from chicken dinners to cattle growers’ meetings, sometimes with her parents in tow. She has made it clear that she wants to run for the Senate seat now held by Michael B. Enzi, a soft-spoken Republican and onetime fly-fishing partner of her father.
It’s not just idle speculation. Liz Cheney, despite having no meaningful background in the state whatsoever, moved with her family to Wyoming just last year and quickly became a ubiquitous political player. Indeed, the right-wing media personality even called Enzi directly, letting him know she’s likely to run against him in a GOP primary.
The result would probably be an ugly fight within the state Republican Party, pitting a popular three-term incumbent against a powerful family with deep roots in the state.
It’s not altogether clear why Cheney would bother. Her brief tenure in public office — she worked in the Bush/Cheney State Department — didn’t go well, but she remains a fixture in political media, routinely publishing “stark raving mad” pieces and making Sunday show appearances. Cheney’s megaphone is formidable, even if she uses it towards ridiculous ends.
But whatever her motivations, this will probably be one of the cycle’s more noteworthy primary fights. Enzi, assuming he doesn’t retire, would almost certainly have the edge, though he has not yet faced a rival as fierce and unburdened by propriety as Cheney.July 8, 2013 at 6:52 pm #92272
The Voting Rights Act was gutted, but it’s not yet dead
By Steve Benen
Mon Jul 8, 2013 9:12 AM EDT
With lightning speed, state Republican policymakers responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act by moving on a series of new voting restrictions, primarily targeting minority groups, students, and the poor. Before two weeks ago, many states would have needed Justice Department approval for these changes — approval they would not have received — but it is now “open season” on Americans’ access to their own democracy.
There is, however, a possible hurdle for those waging the “war on voting.” The Supreme Court undermined the Voting Rights Act by targeting Section 5 of the law — the provision related to pre-clearance — ordering Congress to come up with new standards and leaving this area of the law unenforceable. But Section 2 of the VRA — described by Chief Justice John Roberts in his ruling as “permanent” and applicable “nationwide” — remains intact.
One side effect of the Supreme Court’s decision to stop enforcement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is clear: a flood of new lawsuits that have already begun.
The ruling all but guarantees that voting rights advocates will pivot toward filing lawsuits relying on a separate piece of the law, Section 2, to challenge procedures which might impede voters. [...]
Section 2 … bans voting procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups…. To win a Section 2 case, the Justice Department or a plaintiff doesn’t need to prove that a voting procedure had an invidious intent — only that it had the result of denying a racial or language minority an opportunity to take part in the political process.July 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm #92273
Getting mad for all the wrong reasons
By Steve Benen
Mon Jul 8, 2013 4:37 PM EDT
Nearly a week later, the Affordable Care Act’s opponents are still furious that the employer-mandate provision that conservatives opposed won’t be implemented on schedule. But there’s a reason that sentence might seem unusual to you — if Republicans don’t like the employer mandate, why are they outraged that the mandate won’t exist until 2015 at the earliest?
The answer is simple, but unsatisfying: Republicans are mad for all the wrong reasons. Brian Beutler had a good piece on this the other day, noting that Obamacare’s detractors are, ironically, disappointed that “a problematic provision won’t be taking effect right away.” Republicans don’t want a health care system that works effectively; they want a system doesn’t work effectively so they can complain about it. The White House’s decision last week satisfies GOP policy goals, such as they are, but interferes with the GOP’s rhetorical goals, which the right obviously sees as more important.
[I]t doesn’t take much reading between the lines to recognize what’s really going on. Republicans are still committed to the far-fetched objective of repealing Obamacare, and as such have effectively vowed not to work with the administration to fix any of its dysfunctional provisions. To the contrary, the GOP is committed to creating implementation problems where they can, and to making sure existing problems are never fixed, to make the whole program a liability for Democrats.
By delaying the employer mandate, the Obama administration unilaterally sidestepped the GOP’s strategy. And Republicans aren’t happy about it.July 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm #92279
The Pentagon furloughs the political world ignores
By Steve Benen
Mon Jul 8, 2013 3:15 PM EDT
Just over the last week or so, one ridiculous policy — Republicans’ sequestration cuts, approved two years ago — has undermined the federal government’s capacity to battle wildfires, hurt the federal court system, undercut job growth, and even canceled 4th of July events. The political world shrugged, if it noticed the effects of the sequester at all.
With this in mind, I don’t imagine Pentagon furloughs will generate much attention, but they should.
More than 650,000 civilian workers in the Defense Department will be taking their first of 11 furlough days this week.
The Pentagon’s 11 weeks of furloughs kick in on Monday, which result in a 20-percent-weekly pay cut through September for 680,000 of the Pentagon’s roughly 800,000 civilian employees.
Those are a lot of numbers, so take a moment to look beyond the statistics and think about the human element: a whole lot of Americans are about to take a huge pay cut for a few months, not because they’ve done a poor job, but because congressional Republicans support unnecessary spending cuts for no apparent reason. This will affect their ability to pay their bills and purchase good and services, which means undermining the economy.
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