The Moderate Voice http://themoderatevoice.com An Internet hub with domestic and international news, analysis, original reporting, and popular features from the left, center, indies, centrists, moderates, and right Sat, 31 Jan 2015 23:59:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Islamic State posts video of Japanese journalist’s execution http://themoderatevoice.com/202369/islamic-state-posts-video-japanese-journalists-execution/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202369/islamic-state-posts-video-japanese-journalists-execution/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 23:57:50 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202369 Islamic State posts video of Japanese journalist’s execution IRBIL, Iraq — A short video apparently depicting the decapitation of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto was released late Saturday by the Islamic State group. The executioner appeared to be the same British-accented man shown killing at least five other hostages in previous videos. The video, which lasts [...]

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Islamic State posts video of Japanese journalist’s execution

IRBIL, Iraq — A short video apparently depicting the decapitation of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto was released late Saturday by the Islamic State group. The executioner appeared to be the same British-accented man shown killing at least five other hostages in previous videos. The video, which lasts about one minute, caps two weeks of drama over…

Graphic via shutterstock.com

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Republicans Plan To Impose Huge Tax Increase On Middle Class In Opposing Obamacare Fix http://themoderatevoice.com/202368/republicans-plan-impose-huge-tax-increase-middle-class-opposing-obamacare-fix/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202368/republicans-plan-impose-huge-tax-increase-middle-class-opposing-obamacare-fix/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 23:04:06 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202368 Republicans are increasingly seeing King v. Burwell as a way to do what they couldn’t accomplish in over fifty votes–repeal the Affordable Care Act. While it defies logic, the Supreme Court could conceivably rule that the Affordable Care Act only provides subsidies for plans purchased on state exchanges but not on the federal exchange. A [...]

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Republicans are increasingly seeing King v. Burwell as a way to do what they couldn’t accomplish in over fifty votes–repeal the Affordable Care Act. While it defies logic, the Supreme Court could conceivably rule that the Affordable Care Act only provides subsidies for plans purchased on state exchanges but not on the federal exchange.

A majority of people want Congress to pass a simple legislative fix should this occur, guaranteeing a continuation of the subsidies for those who purchase plans over the federal exchange. The health care and insurance industries also support such a fix.

This does not mean that the Republican Party will take the rational path. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Congressional Republicans say they won’t move to preserve consumers’ health insurance tax credits if the Supreme Court strikes them down, raising the stakes in the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act…

Leaders in the GOP-controlled House and Senate see the court challenge as their best hope for tearing apart a law they have long opposed. If the court strikes down the subsidies, Democrats are expected to clamor for lawmakers to pass a measure correcting the language in the law to revive them. Congressional Republicans say there is no possibility they would allow that.

“No, no, no, no,” said Sen. Dan Coats (R., Indiana). “Even Democrats have acknowledged that this needs fixing.”

That position would force lawmakers to confront people in as many as 37 states where the federal government is currently running some or all of the exchange where consumers buy plans and tap the tax credits. There are 6.1 million people in those states who have the credits for 2015, according to federal data released this week. The average tax credit this year is $4,330, the Congressional Budget Office said this week.

Eleven of the states where the federal government has a hand in running the insurance exchange – including seven with Republican governors – signed onto a brief submitted late Wednesday asking the Supreme Court to uphold their tax credits. The brief said the loss of the credits “would deprive millions of low-and moderate-income Americans of billions of dollars in federal premium assistance essential to buy health insurance, thereby disrupting state insurance markets throughout the United States.”

The brief was filed by a group of mostly Democratic attorneys general. The lone Republican, North Dakota’s Wayne Stenehjem, declined to comment…

Nobody in the Senate Republican caucus has said the party should tweak the law so it can continue as it is, particularly since such a move would preserve the unpopular requirement for people to buy coverage or pay a fine, said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Republicans are also increasingly preparing to use the budget procedural tactic known as reconciliation to repeal large parts of the law and potentially enact alternative provisions after the court ruling, whatever the outcome. The reconciliation process allows party leaders to pass changes with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes most bills need to clear procedural hurdles in the Senate.

A loss of the subsidies would amount to a tax increase on the middle class. Republicans tend to concentrate on lowering taxes for the wealthy, at the expense of the middle class, and therefore see no problem in this. They mistakenly believe this will not affect their more affluent supporters, who do not qualify for the subsidies. What they fail to realize is that reducing the number of people in the risk pool will result in higher premiums for everyone.

Republicans are again talking about proposing their own plan, but they have repeatedly failed at doing so. The last time the Republicans did propose a plan it was remarkably similar to Obamacare, except then it was proposed as the conservative alternative to Hillarycare.

Any Republican plan which avoids harming millions of people will not only have to provide a mechanism for assisting those who cannot afford insurance coverage. Any plan must also ensure that insurance companies could not return to denying coverage to those who have medical problems. Republicans will find that this is not so simple, and will require the type of compromises seen in the Affordable Care Act.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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Super Vigilance XLIX http://themoderatevoice.com/202355/super-vigilance-xlix/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202355/super-vigilance-xlix/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 19:19:17 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202355 It is good to know that the footballs that will be used in Super Bowl XLIX will be under the most intense security and scrutiny in the Bowl’s history. Read all about the precautions and the almost minute-by-minute timeline and chain of custody for those famous 108 balls here. It is even better to know [...]

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Superbowl DHS Image

It is good to know that the footballs that will be used in Super Bowl XLIX will be under the most intense security and scrutiny in the Bowl’s history. Read all about the precautions and the almost minute-by-minute timeline and chain of custody for those famous 108 balls here.

It is even better to know that those who are fortunate enough to attend our nation’s annual sports extravaganza will benefit from one of the most intensive security efforts in years.

In the wake of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris and in view of other terrorist activities and threats, federal, state and local military and civil security agencies will be working openly and behind the scenes to help ensure the safety and security of those attending Super Bowl XLIX as well as of those attending the many related events and of all residents in the Phoenix area.

The unprecedented security measures are led and coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) but will be augmented and supported by dozens of other agencies.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson highlighted some of those agencies and security operations.

Here are just a few of them: The Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, Federal Air Marshalls, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the Office of Health Affairs, Cybersecurity, Office for Bombing Protection, Active Shooter Preparedness.

Of course, the military and in particular the Arizona National Guard will be critical participants in all security operations.

Arizona National Guard leaders have assembled “Joint Task Force Super Bowl” whose primary mission is “to ensure unity of effort and adequate, timely, and scalable responses to requests for support from civil authorities…”

Arizona National Guard helps protect Super Bowl crowds

Arizona National Guard leaders receive a Joint Task Force Super Bowl briefing Jan. 26, 2015, at the joint operations center at Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix. The task force was assembled to support local, state and federal authorities during events related to Super Bowl XLIX. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour

Army Staff Sgt. Brian Barbour of the Arizona National Guard:

Arizona Air National Guard pilots and F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 162nd Wing in Tucson will enforce the Federal Aviation Administration’s temporary flight restriction around University of Phoenix Stadium during the game — ready to intercept any aircraft that enters the 30-nautical-mile-radius. The North American Aerospace Defense Command fighters will refuel midair from Guard KC-135 Stratotankers from the 161st Air Refueling Wing here.

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Five National Guard civil support teams from around the country are assisting authorities at several major events in addition to the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl: the 91st from Arizona, the 95th from California, the 92nd from Nevada, the 72nd from Nebraska and the 63rd from Oklahoma. Civil support teams survey and pre-emptively detect any hazardous material threat to advise civilian responders and facilitate the arrival of additional state and federal military forces if necessary.
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Arizona Army National Guard soldiers from the 2-285th Assault Helicopter Battalion have trained and plan to have UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters on standby in case emergency responders need a robust airlift and transport capability.
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Military police and communications specialists from the 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade are also rehearsing possible support operations and are standing by to augment first responders if needed.

Super Bowl F-16s

F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing performing a flyover in July. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

In addition, nextgov.com reports, “the Secret Service will be searching social media messages this Sunday to identify potential threats during the Super Bowl,” and adds:

Social media-tracking technology is just one piece of surveillance gear the government will deploy for the face-off between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
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DHS cybersecurity professionals paid to try hacking into systems have been probing Internet-connected devices at the stadium to check for weaknesses that miscreants could breach…

Finally, DHS Secretary Johnson announced the re-launch of the Department’s “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign and continued partnership with the National Football League (NFL) to help ensure the safety and security of employees, players and fans during Super Bowl XLIX. The campaign “for the first time will remind citizens to report suspicious activity through in-app advertising on NFL mobile apps. Campaign messaging will appear on smartphones located in Arizona on the Game Day and NFL Experience apps.”

Whatever has happened or may happen to the now-famous footballs, there is nothing deflated about security at Super Bowl XLIX.

Here is to a safe and enjoyable Super Bowl.

Lead image: Courtesy Department of Homeland Security

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“Horrific” pre-historic shark makes a rare appearance in Australia http://themoderatevoice.com/202365/horrific-pre-historic-shark-makes-rare-appearance-australia/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202365/horrific-pre-historic-shark-makes-rare-appearance-australia/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 19:12:40 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202365 John Hopton for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online A fishing crew in Australia had a surprise guest in their catch recently, after snaring a rarely seen shark with 300 teeth and a terrifying, pre-historic appearance that was enough to make even Australian fisherman go all sissy. The 6-foot long frilled shark more closely resembles a [...]

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John Hopton for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online A fishing crew in Australia had a surprise guest in their catch recently, after snaring a rarely seen shark with 300 teeth and a terrifying, pre-historic appearance that was enough to make even Australian fisherman go all sissy. The 6-foot long frilled shark more closely resembles a crazed…

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Cartoon: The Superbowl Brady Bunch http://themoderatevoice.com/202363/cartoon-superbowl-brady-bunch/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202363/cartoon-superbowl-brady-bunch/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 19:08:33 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202363 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

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Are ‘Childish games’ hurting U.S.-Israel relations? http://themoderatevoice.com/202356/childish-games-hurting-u-s-israel-relations/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202356/childish-games-hurting-u-s-israel-relations/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 19:05:09 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202356 Are ‘Childish games’ hurting U.S.-Israel relations? By Donald Harrison U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) said House Speaker John Boehner jeopardized bipartisan support for Israel by inviting Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a Joint Session of Congress. He urged both Netanyahu and Boehner to “consider measures to mitigate the damage this political maneuvering [...]

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Are ‘Childish games’ hurting U.S.-Israel relations?
By Donald Harrison

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) said House Speaker John Boehner jeopardized bipartisan support for Israel by inviting Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a Joint Session of Congress. He urged both Netanyahu and Boehner to “consider measures to mitigate the damage this political maneuvering has inflicted.”

Here is the rest of Nadler’s statement:

“The Prime Minister of Israel, our key strategic ally and friend in the Middle East, is always welcome in the United States. And indeed the Israeli Prime Minister has a moral imperative to give his view to the world about Iran’s looming and very real threat to Israel, and to voice his concern that a potential nuclear deal, if it were too weak, would pose great danger to both our countries. It is in the interest of the United States that we listen to these views very carefully.

“However, Speaker Boehner, in extending an invitation to address Congress at this time and without appropriate consultation with the Administration and both parties in the House and Senate as diplomatic protocol demands, has shown his true colors. He has demonstrated that he is willing to play childish games with our most serious questions of war and peace, and is equally willing to put partisan advantage over Israel’s security. That the Speaker would seek to undermine the historic bi-partisan support for Israel in this way is an unprecedented, reprehensible act worthy of condemnation by both sides of the aisle, and from all friends of Israel.

“True friends of Israel understand that bi-partisan support — going back to Harry Truman — has been essential for the safety of Israel and to the success of the US-Israel strategic partnership. And particularly given the fact that Israel is currently facing its most serious threats from all sides, by terrorists and terrorist states alike, that bi-partisan consensus is more important than ever.

It would be very wise for both parties to this invitation to consider measures to mitigate the damage this political maneuvering has inflicted.

“Despite the Speaker’s inappropriate actions, I am confident that Members of good will in both parties will continue to build the historic bi-partisan consensus that has ensured that Congress remains a bedrock of support in a strong US-Israel relationship.”

Donald Harris is editor of The San Diego Online News Association, which also includes The Moderate Voice. This article is reprinted from that website.

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Pro-Growth Policies http://themoderatevoice.com/202311/pro-growth-policies/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202311/pro-growth-policies/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 18:17:00 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202311 Dana Milbank and Larry Kudlow offer contrasting takes on curing what ails us economically. There’s widespread agreement about the problem – that inequality is as bad as it has been in America since the crash of ’29. Even Republican leaders are talking about it (their solution, alas, is a tax system with even more breaks [...]

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Dana Milbank and Larry Kudlow offer contrasting takes on curing what ails us economically.

There’s widespread agreement about the problem – that inequality is as bad as it has been in America since the crash of ’29. Even Republican leaders are talking about it (their solution, alas, is a tax system with even more breaks for the wealthy.) But there’s no sign yet of the mass anger that could turn into a political movement.

 

This is the week we would have seen it. As my colleague Matea Gold reported, the Koch brothers and their fundraising network plan to spend $889 million on the 2016 race. That sort of brazen bid to buy an election should come with naming rights – perhaps the Charles G. and David H. Koch White House, to match the Charles G. and David H. Koch United States Senate they financed in 2014. A half-dozen of those whose new Senate seats were acquired with Koch money attended a Koch confab in Palm Springs over the weekend to thank their patrons.

As if on cue, Kudlow responds:

If the economy were unshackled of rising taxes and regulations, and if there was a new long-run commitment to sound money and free trade, we could unleash a new American prosperity. Negativism would turn into optimism, and America’s global leadership position would be restored.

So Milbank agrees with Sanders that government policies favoring corporations and the wealthy have resulted in historic income inequality while Kudlow predictably advocates more of those same policies (tax cuts and deregulation) as “pro-growth.”

The problem with Kudlow’s supply-side argument is that economic data do not support it. A 2013 study of multiple western economies over multiple decades found that tax cuts and deregulation were correlated with sharp rises in income for the top 1% but had no relationship to economic growth.

If we look at the aggregate outcomes, we find no apparent correlation between cuts in the top tax rates and growth rates in real per capita GDP (Piketty, Saez, and Stantcheva, 2011). Countries that made large cuts in top tax rates such as the United Kingdom or the United States have not grown significantly faster than countries that did not, such as Germany or Denmark…By and large, the bottom line is that rich countries have all grown at roughly the same rate over the past 40 years–in spite of huge variations in tax policies.

A 2012 Congressional Research Service study found similar results.

The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.

Senate Republicans had a predictable response.

These three sentences do nothing less than blow apart the central tenet of modern conservative economic theory, confirming that lowering tax rates on the wealthy does nothing to grow the economy while doing a great deal to concentrate more wealth in the pockets of those at the very top of the income chain.

 

Not surprisingly, the results of the study caught the attention of a great many conservatives—so much so that, according to a New York Times piece, Republican’s in the United States Senate successfully pressured the Congressional Research Service to withdraw the report shortly after it was released. The withdrawal came over the objection of the CRS economic team and the author of the study.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2015/01/pro-growth-policies_31.html

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Cartoon: The End of Football http://themoderatevoice.com/202352/cartoon-end-football/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202352/cartoon-end-football/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 18:01:36 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202352 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

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The Entertainment Industry Enabled Cosby (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/202350/entertainment-industry-enabled-cosby-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202350/entertainment-industry-enabled-cosby-guest-voice/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:57:38 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202350 The Entertainment Industry Enabled Cosby By Tina Dupuy Hollywood is rumored to be a liberal bastion. Why exactly? Because a couple of actors raised some money for Obama? Hollywood as a business is far from liberal. Its core value isn’t progress; its core value is profit. If “Fifty Shades of Grey” can make money, it’s [...]

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Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

The Entertainment Industry Enabled Cosby
By Tina Dupuy

Hollywood is rumored to be a liberal bastion. Why exactly? Because a couple of actors raised some money for Obama? Hollywood as a business is far from liberal. Its core value isn’t progress; its core value is profit. If “Fifty Shades of Grey” can make money, it’s produced. If “The Passion of the Christ” can make money, it’s produced. Hollywood’s only bottom line is the bottom line.

So if the most powerful man in town is a libertine predator, but he’s making people money, he has immunity. Yes, I’m speaking of America’s father figure, sitcom icon Bill Cosby.

As of this writing, more than 30 women spanning four decades have come out publicly to say that Cosby sexually assaulted them. But because we love Cosby, the knee-jerk reaction is to cast doubt on these women: “Who are they?” “Why’d they wait so long to come forward?” “What are their motives?”

“I don’t know why it’s so hard to believe women,” said Jay Leno during an interview at an industry conference last week. “You go to Saudi Arabia, you need two women to testify against a man. Here you need 25.”

Because in the world of television the formula is set: Bad guys lose, good guys win. Bad guys are bad. Good guys are those we identify with—their struggles, their charm, their perseverance. To Americans, Cosby was the quintessential television good guy.

I didn’t have a father growing up. The father I created was an amalgam of advertising images and Dr. Huxtable.

So it’s understandable for fans to reflexively want to protect Cosby by casting doubt on his accusers. We aren’t used to seeing monsters who don’t look like monsters. Cosby is a complicated villain who made an entire industry complicit in his sex crimes. It’s now clear Bill Cosby, the man, is more fit for a Shakespeare drama than a half-hour situation comedy.

If you talk to people in the Cosby-sphere (which I have), his assaulting women has been an open secret for a very long time. So forgive me for not calling him an alleged rapist.

He’s an enabled rapist.

One victim is a crime—more than 30 is a criminal enterprise. And just like in the mob, if you’re an earner, you’re protected. The moment Cosby was no longer bankable, the allegations suddenly stuck.

I commend those responsible for canceling Cosby’s new projects after more than a dozen women came forward. A Cosby crony, former NBC employee Frank Scotti, told the Daily News he paid off women for the comedian in the 1980s. Besides Scotti, there are plenty of others who knew this was going on and did nothing. Those who at best looked the other way and at worst supplied the family friendly fraud with young girls.

As a television viewing public, once we get past not believing three-dozen women and finally admit Cosby is a serial rapist, the next phase is even more uncomfortable. It’s realizing there’s an industry we love and admire that fostered, promoted and profited off a Cosby. Who was going to stop the gravy train just because a couple of models got hurt? Apparently no one.

In an industry that loves to navel gaze, it’s time for some serious self-reflection.

Imagine being brutally assaulted by a beloved entertainer who was free to continue the practice as he wanted. These women were rape victims first and victims of a conspiracy against rape victims next.

Whether Cosby will be charged with a crime or not is yet to be seen, but regardless of the legal system, it’s the Hollywood machine that should be held in contempt: An industry with no regard for young women, treating them as a disposable commodity to be fed to a star.

That’s the buried lead in the Cosby saga: As a predator, he thrived and blossomed in a business where the only crime, it appears, is not being profitable.

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© Copyright 2015 TinaDupuy.com, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Tina Dupuy is a nationally syndicated op-ed columnist, investigative journalist, award-winning writer, stand-up comic, on-air commentator and wedge issue fan. Tina can be reached at tinadupuy@yahoo.com.

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Ghostbusters Returns To Theaters In 2016 With All Female Cast http://themoderatevoice.com/202348/ghostbusters-returns-theaters-2016-female-cast/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202348/ghostbusters-returns-theaters-2016-female-cast/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:32:58 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202348 Who you gonna call??? Ghostbusters!!! As the saying goes: there’s nothing new under the sun because all of the old movies from my younger days are coming back left and right. I don’t know if I’ve been under a rock or not, but I had no idea that Ghostbusters was returning to theaters soon. According [...]

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Who you gonna call??? Ghostbusters!!! As the saying goes: there’s nothing new under the sun because all of the old movies from my younger days are coming back left and right. I don’t know if I’ve been under a rock or not, but I had no idea that Ghostbusters was returning to theaters soon. According to…

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‘American Sniper’ thrills Baghdad crowd: ‘Shoot him! He has an IED!’ http://themoderatevoice.com/202346/american-sniper-thrills-baghdad-crowd-shoot-ied/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202346/american-sniper-thrills-baghdad-crowd-shoot-ied/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:11:18 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202346 The post ‘American Sniper’ thrills Baghdad crowd: ‘Shoot him! He has an IED!’ appeared first on The Moderate Voice.

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american-sniper-545760e1c094e (2)” data-show-first-image=”true” data-src=”//license.icopyright.net/user/viewFreeUse.act?fuid=MTg5MTIyMjI=”>Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” has wowed American audiences, but for one short week it also thrilled crowds in Baghdad. Iraq’s upscale Mansour Mall played the film for one week before the controversy surrounding the film prompted management to end showings. “Some people watching were just concentrating, but others were screaming ‘[expletive], shoot him! He has an…

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Cartoon: Super Bowl XLIX http://themoderatevoice.com/202344/cartoon-super-bowl-xlix/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202344/cartoon-super-bowl-xlix/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:53:21 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202344 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Super Bowl XLIX

Super Bowl XLIX

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Is This the Year the NFL Bubble Bursts? http://themoderatevoice.com/202342/year-nfl-bubble-bursts/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202342/year-nfl-bubble-bursts/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:01:53 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202342 How big? How big can the NFL grow? How many? How much? How large? How far? How often? How many? Last year, Super Bowl XLVIII, a game that was basically over after the Denver Broncos’ first snap, drew 112.2 million viewers. That figure fails to include the countless throngs who viewed the contest at sports [...]

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How big? How big can the NFL grow? How many? How much? How large? How far? How often? How many? Last year, Super Bowl XLVIII, a game that was basically over after the Denver Broncos’ first snap, drew 112.2 million viewers. That figure fails to include the countless throngs who viewed the contest at sports bars…

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Boehner’s big boo-boo http://themoderatevoice.com/202340/boehners-big-boo-boo/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202340/boehners-big-boo-boo/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:25:43 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202340 Well, the latest Boehner boo-boo, anyway. The guy is loaded with ‘em. John Boehner, thanks to the split in his caucus, is having to rely on House Democrats for some key votes. That’s just the way it’s worked out for the Republicans: their party has a major as well as a bunch of minor fractures [...]

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Huffaker, Politicalcartoons.com

Huffaker, Politicalcartoons.com

Well, the latest Boehner boo-boo, anyway. The guy is loaded with ‘em.

John Boehner, thanks to the split in his caucus, is having to rely on House Democrats for some key votes. That’s just the way it’s worked out for the Republicans: their party has a major as well as a bunch of minor fractures which tend to annihilate their win in November. So the last thing Boehner should be looking for is trouble with Democrats.

But now he’s got trouble. In a breach of protocol as well as good sense, Boehner invited the widely detested Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to speak to Congress. And now, thanks to the Boner, President Obama is getting some unusually strong support for his Iran policy.

President Obama’s relations with Democrats on Capitol Hill have never been especially close. But one man is helping to bring them a little closer together: Benjamin Netanyahu.

The decision by the Israeli prime minister to accept an unusual invitation from House Republicans to address a joint meeting of Congress has had the unintended effect of helping the president rally Democrats as his administration negotiates a delicate nuclear deal with Iran.

For months, the issue of imposing sanctions on Iran split many Democrats from the president, as they feared his posture was emboldening the government in Tehran to further develop its nuclear program. But Mr. Netanyahu’s planned speech, a provocation of the president that many Democrats found distasteful and undiplomatic, has helped shift the political dynamic. …NYT

Once again John Boehner’s having a hard time. He deserves it.

Cross posted from Prairie Weather

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Distracted Driving Reveals the Growing Rift Between Tech and Policy http://themoderatevoice.com/202335/distracted-driving-reveals-growing-rift-tech-policy/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202335/distracted-driving-reveals-growing-rift-tech-policy/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:08:33 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202335 It’s rare that a new technology threatens to fundamentally change an entire facet of American life, but we may be on the verge of just such a revolution. Make that two revolutions, actually: the world’s tech companies are in the process of pioneering wearable technology, and all the while Google has been toiling away on [...]

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It’s rare that a new technology threatens to fundamentally change an entire facet of American life, but we may be on the verge of just such a revolution. Make that two revolutions, actually: the world’s tech companies are in the process of pioneering wearable technology, and all the while Google has been toiling away on their driverless cars, which may even change American life as we know it.

Both of these technologies are case studies in how technology can influence politics and policy. We saw it before when smartphones found their way into our pockets, our cars, and our lives. We’re now beginning to see it with the consumer-level drone industry – buy them while you can! – and we’re going to see it with wearables such as Google Glass (already banned in movie theaters) and the forthcoming Apple Watch.

Given all the uncertainty, let’s narrow down the conversation a little bit and focus only on distracted driving and its implications. Until the autonomous car revolution truly arrives, we’re going to have a lot of unanswered questions about how distracting technologies are going to fit into our daily lives.

But before we can get a sense of where we might be going, we must first see where we’ve been. Here’s what distracted driving looks like right now.

Statistics Reveal Opportunities

Distracted driving is a problem that transcends socioeconomic barriers, age groups, and any other demographic classification you can think of. According to Distraction.gov – the official US government website for distracted driving awareness – 3,328 people died in 2012 as a result of distracted driving. Little surprise, given that at any given moment, about 660,000 US drivers are interacting with electronic devices behind the wheel. If this proves anything, it’s how wide – and widening – the rift really is between technological progress and the policy that governs it.

Will the government need to keep an up-to-the-minute list of products that are illegal to use while driving? Will the law allow us to check the time on our smartwatches but not our text notifications? At what point will we be able to trust that a given technology is “safe enough” not to pose a danger to drivers – if ever? And will driverless cars render this all moot?

When Are States’ Rights Not Right?

So, on to the big question: How long will it take until we get some kind of comprehensive legislation governing our use of technology while we drive?

Those who live in fear of governmental overreach likely hope it never happens, and for them there’s good news: our 50 states still have not reached a consensus on what constitutes distracted driving, nor on the appropriate punishments for those who have been found to be in violation.

In Pennsylvania, for example, text messaging is banned under state law, while general cell phone usage is not. The state of Colorado is equally complicated: despite being home to 472 traffic deaths in 2012, they have banned cell phone usage only for drivers under the age of 18.

Does that sound unnecessarily convoluted to anyone else? These laws represent a fractured front in the battle against preventable driving deaths, making it all the more confusing why so many of us still champion the sacred cow of states’ rights. Should we not recognize that distracted driving is a highly preventable cause of death that calls for a unified approach?

States’ rights do, however, give states the opportunity to lead by example or ask important questions, as when Massachusetts filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or when New York instituted a statewide ban on fracking late last year. It also opens up contentious legislation to productive debate, as when Virginia challenged the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Sebelius in 2010.

Moving at the Speed of Legislation

In a perfect world, the federal government wouldn’t have to promote safety by way of legislation and regulation. We could, for example, count on energy companies to seek profits using non-destructive technologies like solar or nuclear. And, yes, we could also count on our fellow motorists to leave their phones where they belong until they get where they’re going.

I chose consumer electronics to frame this discussion because it’s one of the fastest-moving industries in the world, and one that poses a unique problem for lawmakers. New technologies may represent our best and brightest hope for escaping our own worst instincts (again, the wait for the Google Car is beginning to feel interminable), but the political process seems to frequently be a day late and a dollar short to deal with these developments. We have yet to see how the government will deal with the impending rollout of autonomous cars. Their potential to make us safer and more productive is almost too great to fathom right now – the only question is whether we’ll be ready to greet them with a logical, nationwide policy or whether they’ll be mired in red tape for ages. For now, they remain legal for road use in just four states, while individual counties are now beginning to issue their own laws on the subject, further complicating the issue.

In short, it’s become clearer than ever that our political process has grown much too bloated and cumbersome to effectively and appropriately respond to significant shakeups as they happen. Then again, the glacial speed of American legislation might be an advantage, given the importance we rightfully place on scientific due process and productive discourse. Maybe we’ve simply approached the moment where our grasp of technology is finally outpacing our skill at effectively governing ourselves; perhaps in time we’ll even see sweeping changes in the way technology policy is written in this country.

Until then, we’ll keep living in the gray area between progress and policy.

-

Image Credit: Flickr (via Creative Commons)

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Mitt Romney Decides Against Third Presidential Run (UPDATE 2) http://themoderatevoice.com/202333/mitt-romney-decides-third-presidential-run/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202333/mitt-romney-decides-third-presidential-run/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:31:31 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202333 Two-time failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not throwing his hat in the ring for a third time. No binders full of women jokes this election cycle. Mitt Romney released a statement to his supporters:  “After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in [...]

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shutterstock_105819485 (2)

Two-time failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not throwing his hat in the ring for a third time. No binders full of women jokes this election cycle.

Mitt Romney released a statement to his supporters:  “After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee.”

“I feel that it is critical that America elect a conservative leader to become our next president. You know that I have wanted to be that president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president.” - Hugh Hewitt Show

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

Maria Dryfhout / Shutterstock.com

UPDATE: This is a big political story so it’ll be updated throughout the day.


Ace political reporter Mark Halperin
in Politico gives these among the reasons Romney didn’t run:

The Romney clan was only too aware of the toll a presidential run would take, with physical, emotional, and psychic stresses barreling down directly upon Mitt and Ann and spilling onto family and friends around the country. While to the Romneys the call to service rang loud and true, the prospect was daunting to the entire family.

The second “no go” reason weighed far more heavily on Romney—and was likely the dispositive one. People close to the former governor say he believed he would beat Hillary Clinton in a general election matchup if the election were held today. But, like many election watchers, Romney anticipates a vicious Republican nomination fight that will damage and deplete the ultimate winner, while Clinton, virtually unchallenged for her party’s nomination, will be luxuriantly free to squirrel away hundreds of millions of election dollars and step into the general arena, rich and refreshed, against a shattered GOP nominee.

And, according to Halperin, this doesn’t mean Romney wants Jeb Bush:

But those familiar with Romney’s thinking as he’s been contemplating a run and over the years say that he has held a jaundiced view of the former Florida governor dating all the way back to his handling of the Terri Schiavo case, and has come to see Bush as a non-entity in the 2016 nomination contest. Romney is said to see Bush as a small-time businessman whose financial transactions would nonetheless be fodder for the Democrats and as terminally weighed down with voters across the board based on his family name. Romney also doesn’t think much of Bush’s political skills (a view mocked by Bush’s camp, who say Romney is nowhere near Bush’s league as a campaigner). Romney also considers Bush the national Republican figure who was the least helpful to him during his last run for the White House, a position that has darkened Ann Romney’s view of Bush as well.

Booman:

Let no one say that Mitt Romney left the political stage gracefully or with even a shred of dignity left. The best you can say is that he somehow mustered the self-awareness to avoid even further indignities. He will not run for the presidency a third time, which pretty much hands the reins to Jeb, if Jeb can somehow ride the bucking clown car all the way to the acceptance stage in Cleveland next summer.

In the end, he signed off calling for an “end to the grip of poverty,” causing something between a collective shrug and a guffaw. He then reiterated the importance of electing a “conservative” president, thereby eliminating any hope that he might stand for something within the modern Republican Party that could ultimately save or redeem it.

Hot Air’s Allahpundit:

My guess this morning was that he would decide against running, even after the Daily Beast farted out its now infamous “Sources: Romney’s running!” scoop. The odds of winning were too long and the risk of humiliation too great for him to take the plunge again. Only an egomaniac would think he was the guy for 2016 after losing badly twice before against fields much weaker than this, and Romney’s never struck me as an egomaniac. Frankly, I’m surprised he got as far as he did in thinking seriously about it again. The last month has been an odd show of impetuousness from a guy who’s supposed to be coolly, unflappably analytical in his assessment of risk. He seems to have taken Jeb Bush’s aggressive recruiting and fundraising as some sort of personal affront, worthy of tossing out the window his alleged plan to hold back and possibly enter the race late as establishment savior if Bush struggled. Remember, for months the only route to running again touted by Romney insiders was with Mitt as the reluctant warrior, drafted back into the race next spring to unite a fractured party that couldn’t agree on a nominee. Then Jeb got in and suddenly we arrived at a place where Romney was prepared to announce before nearly anyone else. Bizarre. But I’m glad he got his bearings before making a mistake. It would have been painful to watch him struggle and eventually quit against a more talented field. He’s a nice man. He’ll do well, and already has done well, as an elder statesman.

Ann Althouse:

I’ve been more or less positive about Romney’s running again, and I just put up a post earlier this morning looking at the factors he was supposedly weighing, but even though I do like him, I was concerned that he was becoming the front-runner mostly on name recognition, and that was not good for the overall competition within the GOP. I’d like to see the plausible candidates go through a process of presenting themselves to us — especially in debates — and giving us a chance to scrutinize them and maybe warm up to them, and it’s appropriate for Romney to stand back and allow that to happen.

If various seemingly plausible candidates fail to get traction or crash for some reason, there’s the elder statesman Romney, prepared to serve if needed. I like him there. It fits with the idea that he was going to use as his pitch: That he’s a dutiful, modest man, a humble servant, who responds to a calling.

So: Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

-Daily Kos:

Naturally, the news helps clear the way for Romney’s main rival, Jeb Bush. The donor and consultant classes are no doubt jockeying for new position with Romney out.
But perhaps this is the beginning of the slow peel toward a smaller group. Let’s face it, if Romney thought he could make a case for a third run, anyone could make the case for a run. Clearly, he thought better.


UPDATE II:














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Cartoon Revenge Through Hacking http://themoderatevoice.com/202331/cartoon-revenge-hacking/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202331/cartoon-revenge-hacking/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:54:54 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202331 Cartoon Revenge Through Hacking By Daryl Cagle There was a time when readers who are offended by a political cartoons would write a letter to the editor. Now angry readers rant online; they demand apologies or retribution for being offended. I run a “syndicate” that distributes editorial cartoons and columns to about 850 subscribing newspapers [...]

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Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

Cartoon Revenge Through Hacking
By Daryl Cagle

There was a time when readers who are offended by a political cartoons would write a letter to the editor. Now angry readers rant online; they demand apologies or retribution for being offended.

I run a “syndicate” that distributes editorial cartoons and columns to about 850 subscribing newspapers in America. I’m perceived to be the “boss” of the cartoonists, and I get angry demands that I fire cartoonists I work with, who drew cartoons that offend. Just draw about abortion, the Confederate Battle Flag, gun control, religion, Israel or the Palestinians — and the cyber outrage will flow.

One of our cartoonists drew a cartoon a few years ago that showed an Iraqi soldier holding a book titled, “The Koran for Dummies.” The cartoon motivated a group called the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to put a call out to their members to e-mail me, demanding that I punish the cartoonist; I received many thousands of crazy e-mail threats in response. Whenever there is a big response to a cartoon, it is usually because some group is organizing the effort.

Recently my political cartoon web site at Cagle.com has been getting hacker attacks. New, crazy, huge, sophisticated, brute force, distributed denial of service hacker attacks, from IP addresses all over the world, focusing on taking us down.

The hackers succeeded in breaking through to erase data on our hard drives on our servers and bring our Cagle.com site down. Luckily, we had an unconnected backup in the cloud, and this attack had us down for only a day rewriting the hard drives. We don’t keep credit card information or salacious emails about movie stars online, so there isn’t much for hackers to do except to take us down.

The new attacks started before the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, back when we were featuring cartoons about North Korea and the Sony Pictures hackers. Cagle.com is still going down occasionally as the hackers change their strategies. I suppose this is the new reality for editorial cartoonists, who have never been well paid by newspapers that are continuing to cut their budgets. Editorial cartoons seem to be the new flashpoint for a clash of civilizations, even as we tighten our belts.

The bottom line is that our Cagle.com site is now expensive to host as the attacks continue to become more costly and time consuming for us. We thought about dropping the site and concentrating on our little newspaper syndicate, but we’re trying something different.

We’re putting up a plea to our readers to make contributions to help us keep the Cagle.com site online. I see lots of other sites with “donor” buttons, including opinion sites like Slate.com and Truthdig.com, but this is new to us. Visitors to Cagle.com will see a pop-up window this week, asking for support, and offering lots of nice perks for different levels of support.

We’re hoping the love and support of editorial cartoon fans can overcome the costs of the evil editorial cartoon haters.

Want to help? Visit cagle.com/heroes. We need more heroes.

——-

Daryl Cagle is an editorial cartoonist who runs the CagleCartoons.com newspaper syndicate, distributing editorial cartoons to more than 850 newspapers around the world, including the paper you are reading now. He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society. Comments to Daryl may be sent to editor@cagle.com. Read Daryl’s blog at www.darylcagle.com.

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The Holocaust ‘Profoundly’ Shapes Israel’s Foreign Policy, Experts Say http://themoderatevoice.com/202327/holocaust-profoundly-shapes-israels-foreign-policy-experts-say/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202327/holocaust-profoundly-shapes-israels-foreign-policy-experts-say/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:50:16 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202327 Less than a month after 17 people were killed in terror attacks in Paris, including four in a kosher supermarket, the world marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Tuesday, with ceremonies throughout Europe, Israel and North America. The remembrance takes place amid reports that European anti-Semitism is on the rise and [...]

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Less than a month after 17 people were killed in terror attacks in Paris, including four in a kosher supermarket, the world marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Tuesday, with ceremonies throughout Europe, Israel and North America. The remembrance takes place amid reports that European anti-Semitism is on the rise and that…

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Kaiser Health Tracking Poll Shows Most Support Fix For Subsidies Under Affordable Care Act http://themoderatevoice.com/202320/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-shows-support-fix-subsidies-affordable-care-act/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202320/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-shows-support-fix-subsidies-affordable-care-act/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:14:59 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202320 While you can never be certain as to what the Supreme Court would do, I’ve always felt that it is most likely that they would ultimately find that King v. Burwell is a frivolous case. (In other words, the most conservative justices might accept it, but John Roberts will cast the deciding vote against it [...]

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While you can never be certain as to what the Supreme Court would do, I’ve always felt that it is most likely that they would ultimately find that King v. Burwell is a frivolous case. (In other words, the most conservative justices might accept it, but John Roberts will cast the deciding vote against it if needed). This case is the latest Republican attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the courts because of some language in the law, contradicting other portions, which could be taken to mean that subsidies are only available to those who obtain coverage through state exchanges, and not the federal exchange.

As I’ve pointed out in the past, it would politically be bad for Republicans if the court ruled against the Obama administration in this case. If the Supreme Court does accept the absurd argument that subsidies should only be available under the law for policies purchased on state exchanges, the simplest solution would be for Congress to revise a few words in the law to fix the problem. It is rather common for Congress to pass laws after major legislation to fix minor problems, except in this case Republicans in Congress are more interested in repeated, futile efforts to repeal ObamaCare as opposed to making such fixes–with yet another repeal vote now planned.

The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll for January finds that relatively few people are now aware of King v. Burwell, but most people do think that Congress should fix the problem. Among total voters, passing a law to fix this is supported 64 percent to 27 percent. There is similar support among independents, greater support among Democrats, and even a substantial number of Republicans (40 percent) would support such a fix:

King-v-Burell

If this is not fixed by Congress passing such a law, the second solution would be for states to start their own exchanges. A majority would also support this in affected states. Even Republicans support this, although at lower levels than Democrats and independents:

King-v-Burell2

I suspect that Republican leaders would much prefer to see the Supreme Court not put them in a position to have to take such action, either in Congress or at a state level. Failure to take such action would make displease the majority of voters, while taking such action would displease their base, who might take revenge in primaries where they dominate.

Hospitals and insurance companies also lose if the subsidies are not continued, and are therefore also defending the subsidies before the Supreme Court.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

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Boehner’s Blatant Lie: Does the Truth Matter? At ALL? http://themoderatevoice.com/202316/boehners-blatant-lie-truth-matter/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202316/boehners-blatant-lie-truth-matter/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:30:16 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202316 The quaint notion that “partisanship ends at the water’s edge” continues to plague a few journalists and other inconsequential figures as the GOP does their best impression of Aristophanes’ sophists in The Frogs. Administration Official Criticizes Israeli Ambassador Over Netanyahu Visit Julie Hirschfeld Davis / New York Times WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, after days of [...]

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shutterstock_117714457

The quaint notion that “partisanship ends at the water’s edge” continues to plague a few journalists and other inconsequential figures as the GOP does their best impression of Aristophanes’ sophists in The Frogs.

Administration Official Criticizes Israeli Ambassador Over Netanyahu Visit
Julie Hirschfeld Davis / New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, after days of mounting tension, signaled on Wednesday how angry it is with Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted Republican leaders’ invitation to address Congress …

John Boehner told a blatant lie and then followed up with a nonsensical one to cover the first:

Invitation to Netanyahu to address U.S. Congress: When bipartisan means partisan
BY PATRICIA ZENGERLE
WASHINGTON Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:29pm EST

(Reuters) – When U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, jolted Washington this week by inviting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, his office said it had been done “on behalf of the bipartisan leadership.”

[...]

The invitation was worded that way, a Boehner spokesman said on Friday, because “Boehner is the Speaker of the whole House, elected by the whole House.” Boehner was re-elected as the chamber’s leader on Jan. 6 with 216 votes, all from Republicans, out of the 435 voting members of the House of Representatives.

I have waited a week to see if anyone in the so-called “media” of “journalists” would pay attention to Journalism 101:

bipartisan lie

Read Boehner’s formal letter of invitation here.

The problem is that Boehner — no matter how you might try to parse his incredibly lame excuse — ALSO pretends to speak for the entirety of US Senate, which did NOT elect him, and did not, in “bipartisan” fashion, elect Boehner as spokesman for Congress by any stretch of the imagination whatsoever!

I realize that a sophist of the legal persuasion could eventually somehow pretend that this lie is, in fact, the truth, but that would be to give the lie to any notion of truth whatsoever.

There IS such a thing as truth and falsehood, else no law works, and Boehner is retroactively consigned to irrelevance.

The question is– aside from the Logan Act, which, while not probably actionable, STILL strongly indicates that only the President makes foreign policy  – can one lying leader of one Congressional House, invite a foreign head of state, while lying about his authority to do so, without our national press noticing or much caring that it is a blatant falsehood that walks right up to the front porch of treason and sedition and rings the doorbell?

The answer seems to be ‘yes.’

Here is Brent Bozell’s oxymoronically and Orwellian-entitled “Accuracy In Media”:

Iran, Obama, Boehner and Netanyahu
Caroline Glick — January 29, 2015

… Just as the invitation to Netanyahu was a bipartisan invitation, so concerns about Obama’s policy toward Iran’s nuclear program are bipartisan concerns…

There.

Why-You-Cant-Trust-The-News-coverThe article is framed by THIS in-house
(and contextually hilarious) 
advertisement for their “truth” as
opposed to anyone else’s. This is a
classical sign of a cult, by the by.

Question answered by fiat:

It is “bipartisan” because we SAY it is “bipartisan” and not because any notion of “fact” or “truth” enters into the equation.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Or, more likely, Quod Ararat Demonstrandum, roughly translated as “False? Noah way it’s false!”

Why am I the only journalist in America who is bothered by this?

[Leaving aside the rest of the toxic brew of racism, sedition, treason, calumny and betrayal of agreed-upon protocols for foreign policy dating back to at least 1799, that is.]

And shouldn’t journalists and politicians be asking the Israeli government why they are accepting an invitation based on clearly false pretenses?

My bad for giving a damn, I guess.

 Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

Courage.

Pinocchio: nevenm / Shutterstock.com

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US Navy Turns To Robots For Military Training http://themoderatevoice.com/202314/us-navy-turns-robots-military-training/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202314/us-navy-turns-robots-military-training/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:14:20 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202314 The U.S. Navy has unveiled new plans to employ robots to train marine forces in the future. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) on Tuesday launched a new experiment that it hopes will help create robots and other human surrogates for military training purposes. As part of the study, being carried out at the University [...]

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The U.S. Navy has unveiled new plans to employ robots to train marine forces in the future. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) on Tuesday launched a new experiment that it hopes will help create robots and other human surrogates for military training purposes. As part of the study, being carried out at the University of…

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CMS Agrees To Demands From Physicians & Congress To Modify Rules For Electronic Medical Records http://themoderatevoice.com/202313/cms-agrees-demands-physicians-congress-modify-rules-electronic-medical-records/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202313/cms-agrees-demands-physicians-congress-modify-rules-electronic-medical-records/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 21:16:08 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202313 I recently discussed the problems with the government regulations for conversion to electronic medical records. The majority of doctors have been unable to comply with the regulations which were scheduled to begin this January (already postponed from last October) for reasons beyond our control. A bill with bipartisan sponsors was introduced in Congress to postpone [...]

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I recently discussed the problems with the government regulations for conversion to electronic medical records. The majority of doctors have been unable to comply with the regulations which were scheduled to begin this January (already postponed from last October) for reasons beyond our control. A bill with bipartisan sponsors was introduced in Congress to postpone the current requirements further until October, 2015. While this would be helpful, further changes are also needed in the requirements.

CMS has responded to the complaints, sending out an email to physicians today stating that the rules will be reevaluated this spring. This includes considering changing the requirement from a 365 day reporting period for 2015 to a 90 day reporting period, which would essentially postpone the requirements until October. The email also stated they would be “Modifying other aspects of the programs to match long-term goals, reduce complexity, and lessen providers’ reporting burden.” Modifications have already been made in the past to the regulations to reduce their complexity, but further modifications remain necessary.

While no official changes were announced at this time, it seems inconceivable that they will not go long with recommendations to postpone when the changes are due until October now that they have announced plans to consider this. It will also be necessary to make other revisions to the rules, which also now is under consideration. Complicating matters further, in addition to these requirements for electronic medical records, conversion to ICD-10 diagnoses codes (which has also been postponed several times) is also now scheduled to occur in October.

CMS has also announced plans to reconsider the regulations on their blog.

Cross-posted from Liberal Values

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Scam PAC’s http://themoderatevoice.com/202289/scam-pacs/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202289/scam-pacs/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:31:00 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202289 Kenneth P. Vogel details the rise of “scam political action committees” (scam PAC’s) on Politico.com (h/t Kevin Drum). Since the tea party burst onto the political landscape in 2009, the conservative movement has been plagued by an explosion of PACs that critics say exist mostly to pad the pockets of the consultants who run them. [...]

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Kenneth P. Vogel details the rise of “scam political action committees” (scam PAC’s) on Politico.com (h/t Kevin Drum).

Since the tea party burst onto the political landscape in 2009, the conservative movement has been plagued by an explosion of PACs that critics say exist mostly to pad the pockets of the consultants who run them. Combining sophisticated targeting techniques with fundraising appeals that resonate deeply among grass-roots activists, they collect large piles of small checks that, taken together, add up to enough money to potentially sway a Senate race. But the PACs plow most of their cash back into payments to consulting firms for additional fundraising efforts.

 

A POLITICO analysis of reports filed with the Federal Election Commission covering the 2014 cycle found that 33 PACs that court small donors with tea party-oriented email and direct-mail appeals raised $43 million — 74 percent of which came from small donors. The PACs spent only $3 million on ads and contributions to boost the long-shot candidates often touted in the appeals, compared to $39.5 million on operating expenses, including $6 million to firms owned or managed by the operatives who run the PACs. POLITICO’s list is not all-inclusive, and some conservatives fret that it’s almost impossible to identify all the groups that are out there, let alone to rein them in.

 

“These groups have the pulse of the crowd, and they recognize that they can make a profit off the angst of the conservative base voters who are looking for outsiders,” said the influential conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who has taken it upon himself to call out PAC operators and fundraisers he sees as scams. They are “completely a drain,” said Erickson, whose assessments of candidates and groups carry particular weight among tea party activists and the Republicans who court them. “The conservative activists feel like they’ve contributed to a cause greater than themselves, but the money goes to the consultants, and eventually the activists get burned out and stop giving money, including to the legitimate causes.”

 

In the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections, McConnell and Boehner tried to marginalize out-of-favor PACs, and McConnell’s allies last week launched an unofficially endorsed super PAC to go along with one that Boehner’s confidants formed in 2011, partly to stem the flow of cash to competing PACs.

 

That technique has worked well for Democrats, who have mostly avoided the problem, though they also benefit from the lack of tea party-style insurgency on their side. That could change if the 2016 Democratic presidential primary inflames deep ideological divisions within the party. But on the right, this industry appears only to be growing, according to conservatives who track it closely.

Kevin Drum asks why scam PAC’s have been so much more successful on the right. 

So here’s my question: why is this so much more common on the right than on the left? It would be nice to chalk it up to the superior intelligence of liberal audiences and call it a day, but that won’t wash. There’s just no evidence that liberals, in general, are either smarter or less susceptible to scams than conservatives.

 

I won’t be happy with answers that simply assume liberals are innately better people. Even if they are, they aren’t that much better. It’s got to be something institutional, or something inherent in the nature of American conservatism. But what?

Two reasons jump to mind for me:

The first is the tendency of those drawn to conservative politics to confuse net worth with self-worth, to define themselves and their value in terms of material wealth.  A corollary of this is the Gordon Gekko belief that “greed is good,” that making money is a higher good in and of itself. A second corollary is let the buyer beware. If someone is taken in by a scam, the ethos of individual responsibility says that is on them, with less sense of a collective responsibility to protect the unsuspecting from exploitation.

A second factor may be the emphasis in the conservative movement on ideological conformity. Ideologically correct language may serve as an “all clear” sign that makes conservatives feel safe and results in letting the guard down. A movement that ostracizes those questioning the party line (e.g. David Frum, Bruce Bartlett, David Stockman, Andrew Sullivan) encourages the suspension of critical thinking where ideology is concerned.

Together these and other factors seem to have created conditions ripe for scam PAC’s.

Your thoughts?

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2015/01/scam-pacs.html

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Obama Issues Executive Order Giving Him Authority to Issue Executive Orders http://themoderatevoice.com/202291/obama-issues-executive-order-giving-authority-issue-executive-orders/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202291/obama-issues-executive-order-giving-authority-issue-executive-orders/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:26:11 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202291 In a historic early morning ceremony in the Yellow Oval Room, attended only by Michelle Obama and pajama-clad White House dog Bo, and recorded for posterity by White Hose photographer Pete Souza, President Obama — also pajama-clad — signed the mother of all executive orders: An order giving him Constitutional authority to issue executive orders. [...]

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In a historic early morning ceremony in the Yellow Oval Room, attended only by Michelle Obama and pajama-clad White House dog Bo, and recorded for posterity by White Hose photographer Pete Souza, President Obama — also pajama-clad — signed the mother of all executive orders: An order giving him Constitutional authority to issue executive orders.

It soon would become clear why this unprecedented action was necessary and sufficient. Later on Thursday, Andy Borowitz reported at the New Yorker that the President, subsequently, signed an executive order closing Congress, effective immediately.

The President cited efficiency and fiscal reasons for the move and minimized the significance and impact of his order by saying that while some would argue that the Constitution calls for three branches of government, all his order does is reduce that number by one, according to Borowitz.

Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted indignantly and defiantly to this affront to their manhood by inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to address a joint session of the disbanded Congress at an undisclosed location.

Taking a welcome break from his invasion of Ukraine, Putin eagerly accepted the invitation saying that it would be his honor and pleasure to show this “despot” — referring to Obama — “what democracy is really all about.” Republicans insisted on one condition only: That Putin wear his shirt out of respect for the Congress-in-exile and because it will be very cold at the undisclosed location — a cave deep in the Virginia mountains.

It is not clear whether Democrats will attend the joint session or whether they will petition the President to issue another executive order recognizing an all-Democratic Congress.

Asked by reporters if he had any message for the former members of Congress, the President — whose approval rating immediately soared to seventy-nine percent — said, “I got it from here,” according to the Borowitz Report.

Lead image: www.shutterstock.com

Edited to correct the title of President Vladimir Putin.

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Charlie Hebdo attackers should not be called terrorists, says BBC Arabic executive http://themoderatevoice.com/202308/charlie-hebdo-attackers-not-called-terrorists-says-bbc-arabic-executive/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202308/charlie-hebdo-attackers-not-called-terrorists-says-bbc-arabic-executive/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:03:22 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202308 The head of BBC Arabic said the Paris attackers who killed 12 people at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo should not be called terrorists. Tarik Kafala said that “terrorist” is “too loaded” of a word to describe the actions of Said and Cherif Kouachi. The two died in a shootout with French authorities on Jan. [...]

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The head of BBC Arabic said the Paris attackers who killed 12 people at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo should not be called terrorists. Tarik Kafala said that “terrorist” is “too loaded” of a word to describe the actions of Said and Cherif Kouachi. The two died in a shootout with French authorities on Jan. 9.…



graphic via
shutterstock.com

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Is Mitt Romney Selling His La Jolla Home? http://themoderatevoice.com/202305/mitt-romney-selling-la-jolla-home/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202305/mitt-romney-selling-la-jolla-home/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:58:11 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202305 Is Mitt Romney Selling His La Jolla Home? by Chris Jennewein SAN DIEGO (SDONA) — Potential Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is considering selling his La Jolla home, according to a Boston newspaper. An aide to the former Massachusetts governor told The Boston Globe earlier this week that Romney is taking steps to shed some [...]

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Mitt Romney. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Mitt Romney. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Is Mitt Romney Selling His La Jolla Home?
by Chris Jennewein

SAN DIEGO (SDONA) — Potential Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is considering selling his La Jolla home, according to a Boston newspaper.

An aide to the former Massachusetts governor told The Boston Globe earlier this week that Romney is taking steps to shed some of his property, and has retained a broker to show the La Jolla property.

The U-T San Diego said an attorney representing Romney confirmed that the home at 311 Dunemere is being shown. It was purchased for $12 million in 2008 and is undergoing a complete renovation.

Both the Globe and the U-T reported that the Romney family has not made a firm decision to sell the home.

Romney’s last presidential bid was hurt by an image of privilege and wealth and perceived insensitivity to low-income Americans.

Chris Jennewein is editor of The Times of San Diego which, along with The Moderate Voice, is a member of the San Diego Online News Association. This article was reprinted from that website.

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Cartoon: Palin for Prez http://themoderatevoice.com/202303/cartoon-palin-prez/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202303/cartoon-palin-prez/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:39:32 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202303 The post Cartoon: Palin for Prez appeared first on The Moderate Voice.

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Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

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Netflix: Where Lonely Hearts Binge Together — Alone http://themoderatevoice.com/202301/netflix-lonely-hearts-binge-together-alone/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202301/netflix-lonely-hearts-binge-together-alone/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:37:38 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202301 Television binge-watching involves viewing multiple episodes of the same TV series in one sitting. It is the glorified version of a TV marathon and is a relatively new practice, possibly due to television recording technology and on-demand services. Although surely everyone is guilty of watching more than one episode of their favorite show on a [...]

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Television binge-watching involves viewing multiple episodes of the same TV series in one sitting. It is the glorified version of a TV marathon and is a relatively new practice, possibly due to television recording technology and on-demand services. Although surely everyone is guilty of watching more than one episode of their favorite show on a Sunday…

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Cartoon: Radical Islam Nazi Salute http://themoderatevoice.com/202299/cartoon-radical-islam-nazi-salute/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202299/cartoon-radical-islam-nazi-salute/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:32:40 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202299 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons


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Whatever Happened to Pragmatism? http://themoderatevoice.com/202297/whatever-happened-pragmatism/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202297/whatever-happened-pragmatism/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:25:43 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202297 Whatever Happened to Pragmatism? By Jason Stanford We complain about a two-party system that’s stuck in ideological ditches, but somehow it never occurs to us to embrace pragmatism, the uniquely American philosophy that was created as a reaction to ideological stagnation. Unless Republicans and Democrats getting madder at each other suddenly starts working, maybe it’s [...]

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John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune

John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune

Whatever Happened to Pragmatism?
By Jason Stanford

We complain about a two-party system that’s stuck in ideological ditches, but somehow it never occurs to us to embrace pragmatism, the uniquely American philosophy that was created as a reaction to ideological stagnation. Unless Republicans and Democrats getting madder at each other suddenly starts working, maybe it’s time to give pragmatism a chance.

When I was a child, I used to say that Ben Franklin invented electricity. My mother, ever patient, would remind me that he discovered it, not invented it. So maybe that’s how we should talk about the American thinkers who came up with pragmatism as a philosophy. Maybe William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, and John Dewey didn’t invent pragmatism. Maybe they just discovered it. Either way, before then we didn’t have a way to describe thinking as a problem-solving tool.

That was back in the 1870s when they were still getting over the Civil War, which was truly a conflict of ideologies. In that case, it was abolition versus white supremacy. These ideas could not coexist, contributing to the inevitability of the war.

I’m not saying James, Peirce, Dewey, and other leading intellectuals of the day such as Oliver Wendell Holmes sat down after the Civil War and said, “Well, that was stupid. How do we avoid that in the future?” But the post-war period fermented an explosion of ideas in the United States and Europe. That’s when we came up with the scientific method, with psychology, political sociology, a legal education based on case studies, and Darwinism.

Pragmatism was created in this kitchen. Suddenly, we understood that we could direct our minds to solve problems and not merely reflect reality.

This golden age of American thinking continued until the middle of the 20th Century, when once again we went to war along ideological lines, first against fascism, then against Communism.

We’re still fighting an ideological war, except this time we’re fighting against our own countrymen once again. We have chosen up sides in this cold civil war — North versus South, Democrats versus Republicans. Inevitably, Congress has retreated into ideological trenches, prioritizing party purity above getting anything done. We’re stuck in a negative cycle of crisis management, conducting the basic affairs of government only under the threat of catastrophe.

It’s gotten so bad that people don’t realize that partisanship only recently became synonymous with ideology. Almost a half century ago, Democrats and Republicans voted with their parties seven out of 10 times. In the 1990s, party loyalty increased, but there were still conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, and getting stuff done was more important than avoiding a primary challenge.

Not any more. Congress is now more ideologically polarized than any time in our country’s history. Democrats can accurately point out that Republicans are more ideologically rigid than they are, but only by 2.5 percent. Put another way, when Bill Clinton was first elected, Democrats in Congress voted along party lines 86 percent of the time. Now that figure is 91 percent. The problem is real, and there are no good guys.

Many smart people have looked at this problem and diagnosed America with a bad case of galloping partisanship, but I think the problem is that our parties have ideologically segregated themselves.

Partisan politics worked in the past when it wasn’t merely an expression of distilled ideologies. But with party switching, primary challenges, and redistricting, there are no longer any politicians on the figurative common ground. That’s where you get shot. It’s safe in the trenches, but you don’t make progress when you’re hunkered down.

This can change, but only if we have leaders who can embrace that great American invention, pragmatism. Pick any policy debate we’re stuck on—education, taxation, national security—and you’ll see both sides guided by their principals. They repeat beliefs founded in ideologies instead of proposing solutions grounded in evidence. No wonder nothing happens.

The first side to embrace pragmatism will find a willing and grateful public. All Congress has to lose is their record-low approval ratings. Who knows? If pragmatism catches on in Washington, maybe Congress will become more popular than root canals, cockroaches, and traffic jams.

I know — dream big.

—–

© Copyright 2015 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Jason Stanford is a regular contributor to the Austin American-Statesman, a Democratic consultant and a Truman National Security Project partner. You can email him at stanford@oppresearch.com and follow him on Twitter @JasStanford.

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Cartoon: Saud beneath the sod http://themoderatevoice.com/202295/cartoon-saud-beneath-sod/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202295/cartoon-saud-beneath-sod/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:20:05 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202295 See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star


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Does GOP take Palin and Trump seriously? http://themoderatevoice.com/202292/gop-take-palin-trump-seriously/ http://themoderatevoice.com/202292/gop-take-palin-trump-seriously/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 17:08:50 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=202292 Does GOP take Palin and Trump seriously? DES MOINES, Iowa — They are the sideshows of the Republican presidential campaign. While Republicans such as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul craft broad visions for governing and do the work that could set up a real presidential campaign, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump appear to [...]

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Does GOP take Palin and Trump seriously?

DES MOINES, Iowa — They are the sideshows of the Republican presidential campaign. While Republicans such as Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul craft broad visions for governing and do the work that could set up a real presidential campaign, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump appear to be using the tease of a presidential campaign…

graphic via shutterstock.com

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