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U.S. presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks to reporters with a Secret Service agent looking on (L) in an auto shop as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at Kirkwood Community College in Monti
Okay, okay, it's in Politico's gossip column, but nonetheless, it is 2015 and once again we are looking at a political publication focusing on what clothes women in politics wear like it's newsworthy. In this case, we get an interview with Nina McLemore, who makes expensive women's professional clothing worn by Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and others. Surprise! McLemore thinks we should be talking more about what women wear, not because she stands to profit from it but because it's important.
As McLemore says, “People often harp on the whole concept of ‘we shouldn’t be talking about what a female candidate is wearing,’ but we should. It’s a very important topic, in fact. I don’t think a lot of people, women in particular, realize how strong the power of how we look really is.”
Women don't realize how important looks are? Uhhh ... how do we explain the vast industries dedicated to women's appearance, then? Seems like if there's one thing that gets drummed into women at an early age, it's that looks are important.

I think it's generally understood that appearance matters for politicians, and for the women in particular, but many of us get that that's a bad thing, because it's yet another way to trivialize women. You know, somehow when we talk about appearance, it's the women and their pantsuits, not the darker side of dadbod as demonstrated by Ted Cruz, or whatever that mess on Rand Paul's head is; someone get that man to Devacurl, stat.

Then again, McLemore seems to need no help trivializing women:

“TV is where charisma and attractiveness count for more than substance,” says McLemore, with all the seriousness of a political consultant. “I personally think it’s hard for women to have charisma, where some men have it in spades. We can’t change the fact that we’re women, but we can put forth our best image for the result we want.”
There are interesting observations to be made about how, in our culture, charisma tends to be defined in terms of attributes more commonly held by men. These are not them. FFS, "we can't change the fact that we're women, but ... " we sure can try to fit into the male professional mold by wearing a pantsuit! And then parlay that into media coverage trivializing women in politics! Sweet!
People at an immigration rally with signs saying
Republicans say that before Congress can possibly think about passing immigration reform with a path to citizenship, the United States needs to secure the borders and perhaps even build a dang fence. To hear them talk, you would think that the borders were being flooded, but reality is that:
As the Department of Homeland Security continues to pour money into border security, evidence is emerging that illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades. The nation’s population of illegal immigrants, which more than tripled, to 12.2 million, between 1990 and 2007, has dropped by about 1 million, according to demographers at the Pew Research Center.

A key — but largely overlooked — sign of these ebbing flows is the changing makeup of the undocumented population. Until recent years, illegal immigrants tended to be young men streaming across the Southern border in pursuit of work. But demographic data show that the typical illegal immigrant now is much more likely someone who is 35 or older and has lived in the United States for a decade or more.

Beefed-up border security isn't the only explanation for that—when the U.S. economy cratered, fewer people thought it was a great place to come to find economic opportunity, and demographic changes in Mexico could also account for part of the drop. But whatever the explanation, the drop in undocumented immigrants coming in, and the fact that many of those who are here have been here long enough to become embedded in their communities, means that the Republican emphasis on border security is not just inhumane but outdated. While it's not the only outdated position Republicans like to promote, at some point the general public starts to notice these things and national political debates shift with or without Republicans.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a news conference after he announced his candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, on Capitol Hill in Washington April 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  - RTX1B06L
Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
It's kind of hilarious watching the media try to wrap its collective head around the idea that of Hillary Clinton's two Democratic primary challengers, the one who's getting more traction is Sen. Bernie Sanders, not former Gov. Martin O'Malley. As Politico's Annie Karni describes the contrast:
One candidate is 73, with a shock of wispy white hair and a famously rumpled demeanor that makes him look more like a mad scientist than a politician.

The other is central casting’s image of a presidential candidate: square-jawed, athletic-looking and 52 years old — the ideal age that Fortune 500 companies look for in a CEO and that voters find appealing in a president.

But ... but ... his hair!

Karni quotes the usual assortment of anonymous "strategists," "insider" sources "with ties to the Clinton world," and one-time (but they're not saying when) Bill Clinton advisers to make the point that Hillary Clinton's campaign is more worried about Sanders than O'Malley. Like so:

Insiders familiar with the Clinton campaign’s thinking described it as “frightened” of Sanders — not that he would win the nomination, but that he could damage her with the activist base by challenging her on core progressive positions in debates and make her look like a centrist or corporatist. The source described the campaign as “pleased,” at least, that O’Malley and Sanders will split the anti-Clinton vote. A Clinton spokesman declined to comment.
It shouldn't really be breaking news that the guy polling at 15 percent in the Iowa caucus is more threatening than the guy polling at 1.8 percent, but such is the power of media assumptions about what a presidential candidate looks like, I guess.
Demonstrators stage a protest near the U.S. Supreme Court building, on the anniversary of the Citizens United decision, in Washington, January 20, 2012. Under the banner 'Occupy the Courts,' organizers expect thousands of people to rally on Friday at 150

Politico lifts the curtain on one big player in the Republicans' dark money game in this long profile of Ohio lawyer David Langdon. It also demonstrates the devil's bargain the GOP has made with the Christian right. Here's a little bit about Langdon, who runs what's basically a dark money laundering business out of a nondescript law office in West Chester, Ohio.
Langdon is a critical behind-the-scenes player among the small army of lawyers working to keep secret the origins of millions of dollars coursing through the American political system. Thanks to his work, this unremarkable suburb is a home base for nonprofits and super PACs that pour millions of dollars into elections.

Langdon is also an unswerving legal warrior for conservative, often Christian, nonprofit organizations that together spend millions more to influence public policy and wield great influence among evangelical voters.

Since the 2010 election cycle, at least 11 groups connected to Langdon or his firm have collectively spent at least $22 million on federal and state elections and ballot initiatives around the country, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of records.[…]

Langdon was a lead author of a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, which Ohio voters passed in 2004. The U.S. Supreme Court last month heard arguments on whether the Ohio ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional.

He has donated thousands of work hours to Alliance Defending Freedom, which describes itself as a nonprofit Christian legal ministry and specializes in religious freedom cases.

In addition to that, he's helping the tea party sue the IRS and represented the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List in a free speech case before the Supreme Court. His past actions include having "acted as a defense lawyer for abortion clinic protesters, filed a brief in another case on behalf of the Christian Coalition of Ohio and represented groups opposing a lesbian couple's efforts to share equal custody of their children." Given all that, and the fact that he's in Ohio, it's not surprising that he also was instrumental in helping then-Secretary of State Ken Blackwell implement and defend voter suppression efforts.

His current activities, though, are pretty shadowy, revolving around the ever-evolving network of Super PACs that form and dissolve and transfer money back and forth in order to make it nearly impossible to track where any of the money originally came from. That's, of course, by design and "appears pretty clearly to be geared toward opaqueness," said Robert Maguire, an investigator for the Center for Responsive Politics.

The problem for the GOP with relying on a guy like Langdon is that a guy like Langdon wants candidates who will adhere to his kind of hardcore conservative social policies. And that is driving them into a demographic ditch.

President Obama used this week's video address to ask the Senate to quickly pass the USA Freedom Act, a revised but still controversial renewal of some of the now-expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.
Today, when investigating terrorist networks, our national security professionals can seek a court order to obtain certain business records.  Our law enforcement professionals can seek a roving wiretap to keep up with terrorists when they switch cell phones.  We can seek a wiretap on so-called lone wolves—suspected terrorists who may not be directly tied to a terrorist group.  These tools are not controversial.  Since 9/11, they have been renewed numerous times.  FBI Director James Comey says they are “essential” and that losing them would “severely” impact terrorism investigations.  But if Congress doesn’t act by tomorrow at midnight, these tools go away as well.

The USA Freedom Act also accomplishes something I called for a year and a half ago: it ends the bulk metadata program—the bulk collection of phone records—as it currently exists and puts in place new reforms.  The government will no longer hold these records; telephone providers will.  The Act also includes other changes to our surveillance laws—including more transparency—to help build confidence among the American people that your privacy and civil liberties are being protected.  But if Congress doesn’t act by midnight tomorrow, these reforms will be in jeopardy, too.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.
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Images of Pluto returned by New Horizons. Click image for background on mission
This week more images of Pluto were released by the New Horizons team showing what appear to be polar caps. We'll know more soon!
As you can see, surface features are getting easier to discern (note that a different part of Pluto was seen by the probe on each day, so you're seeing different features). It’s not just light and dark patches, but they have some shape to them as well. It actually reminds me a bit of seeing Mars through a small ‘scope. Note that on the May 10 image there appears to be a dark chunk taken out of Pluto’s side; that’s an illusion due to that spot being particularly dark; it blends in with the blackness of space and fools your eye into thinking Pluto’s missing a piece.
  • Climate change could strip the Himalayas of ice and snow.
  • If only robots could heal themselves ...
    Scientists claimed that they have invented a robot which is able to recover itself when damaged. This is an ideal creation in a world of machines that impersonate the incredible adaptive powers of both humans and animals. ... Jean-Baptiste Mouret of the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris said “The idea is to have robots that can survive in hostile environments such as a Fukushima-type nuclear disaster.”
  • A new study finds, in my view anyway, that dinos might have made great deep space astronauts: they were warm-blooded enough to sprint like a cheetah, but they could also rest like a turtle, and possibly even hibernate or close to it.
  • Move over A. afarensis also known as Lucy. Paleo-anthropologists have found another possible human ancestor which lived at about the same time and place as the most famous human fossil ever uncovered:
    Anthropologist Yohannes Haile-Selassie and his team have named the new species Australopithecus deyiremeda. They found fossilized upper and lower jaw fossils at a paleontological dig site in the Afar region of central Ethiopia in 2011, and after four years of study, they’ve published their findings in the journal Nature.

LA Times on the effort to curtail personal vaccine exemptions in CA:

The vaccination debate has reached fever pitch. Legislation has passed in the state Senate that would do away with the "personal belief exemption" that allows parents in California to refuse to vaccinate their children. As it moves to the Assembly, opponents are ratcheting up their rhetoric, calling the bill a huge intrusion on their rights, and one that is written so broadly that even children with conditions that make vaccinations dangerous for them wouldn't be entitled to exemptions.

The noise surrounding SB 277 is drowning out the truth, which is this: In general, parents have a right to make medical decisions for their children. But when it comes to communicable diseases, which can have devastating consequences on large groups of people, there also is a general societal right to protect public health.

It just happened in Vermont:
Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed without fanfare the legislation that removes the philosophical exemption from Vermont's vaccination law.

On the heels of a polarized and emotional public debate at the Legislature this year, Shumlin signed the bill privately in his office early Thursday afternoon, according to spokesman Scott Coriell.

The exemption is to end July 1, 2016.

Politico has a piece semi-defending Dennis Hastert:
The specific charges against Hastert involve “structured withdrawals,” Hastert is alleged to have taken down a series of transfers from financial institutions all just under the ten thousand dollar reporting threshold, allegedly to evade reporting them to the government. As an add on, Hastert is accused of having lied to federal investigators when questioned about these withdrawals.

These reporting requirements, first adopted in 1970 and recently expanded in the USA Patriot Act—a notable legislative accomplishment, ironically, of Dennis Hastert—were designed to furnish tools for law enforcement in combatting money laundering and drug trafficking. Are the feds saying that Hastert is a money launderer or a drug trafficker? No. What exactly was wrong with his unreported withdrawals? There is a strong suggestion of improper purpose, but the indictment is sparing with the facts.

Hastert is so screwed. Good luck defending him.
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It's Friday, so forget politics for three minutes and watch these felines have a blast
 in a cardboard cat maze. Notice they can't even herd themselves. Best part after 2:05.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2009Clarity on Torture Photos a No-Brainer:

Since the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph published their first error-filled stories last week about withheld torture photos, there's been a gradual festering that finally erupted in the past two days.
I was personally suspicious after reading the Telegraph's May 15 story last week claiming that the Australian channel SBS had shown previously unshown photos. When I saw the photo included with the Telegraph's story that was first posted in this regard, it rang a bell. Sure enough, a few minutes on the Google proved to me that it was identical to one of the 15 shown by SBS in February 2006. A naked, hooded prisoner, hanging upside down from an equally naked bunk-bed frame. Only the manner in which his genitals were censored was different. You can see the Telegraph's version here and SBS's via the BBC here. Here's an archive of all the SBS photos from 2006 if you have the stomach for it.

Having my skepticism all but confirmed by this, I took out my trusty phone card and called SBS. It was the weekend in Australia, so I couldn't get the boss. But, I was told by a staffer of the program "Dateline" that contrary to the Telegraph's claims, the station had not shown any photos the night before the newspaper's story was published that had not previously been shown in 2006. [...]

The entire imbroglio stems from the administration's decision not to release 44 photographs to the ACLU, which has - and they deserve our undying thanks for this - sought for six years to acquire ALL documents, photos and videos of torture and abuse at ALL prisons (known and secret) used to house terror suspects. Not for purposes of some voyeuristic desire to watch torture porn, but to build cases against torturers and those who ordered torture.

Tweet of the Day
Evil people often find great success their entire lives, then die completely unrepentant and completely unpunished. Sorry 'bout that.

On today's encore Kagro in the Morning show, it's the June 2, 2014 episode. Greg Dworkin rounds up top stories, including the POW exchange, the EPA's new emissions rules (and all the controversy that comes with them), the VA, and how Gop intransigence accidentally yielded a national health care exchange. A musical interlude from Lauren Mayer (aka PsychoSuperMom), "GOP Hypocrisy Blues." An extended discussion of the issues wrapped up in the POW swap. Another open carry demonstration, this time hijacking the Home Depot brand. And now, even the NRA recognizes that this is kind of dumb. And speaking of guns & dumb, Scott Brown is tangled up in something weird & getting weirder.

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Fri May 29, 2015 at 07:30 PM PDT

Jeb Bush’s four percent fraud

by Jon Perr

There's an old Monty Python sketch in which a "Face the Press" interviewer grills the Minister for Home Affairs:
"You claimed that you would build 88,000 million, billion houses a year in the Greater London area alone. In fact, you've built only three in the last fifteen years. Are you a bit disappointed with this result?"
Given some of the recent pronouncements of his campaign, it's easy to imagine President Jeb Bush being subjected to similar shaming. After all, Jeb has been promising for months that if elected he will deliver four percent annual economic growth for the American people. As it turns out, since Ike was in the White House only two presidents—Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson—averaged at least 4 percent GDP growth over their tenures. And no President named Bush ever reached that mark even once in 12 years.

Nevertheless, Reuters last week offered a fawning story ("How an off-the-cuff remark shaped Jeb Bush's economic vision for U.S.") about how Jeb came up with that magical target, if not any details on how he might hit it:

There were no fancy economic models or forecasts when former Florida Governor Jeb Bush first tossed out the idea that 4 percent annual growth should be the overarching goal for the U.S. economy.

But what started as a casual suggestion during a 2010 conference call with advisers to the George W. Bush Institute, a public policy center in Dallas, has now become the central economic idea of Bush's developing run for the White House.

Last Thursday, Jeb explained to a New Hampshire audience the birth of his sound bite:
"It's a nice round number. It's double the growth that we are growing at. It's not just an aspiration. It's doable."
Four is a nice round number. (It's also an even number and the square of two.) But so far, Bush has offered neither a plan for how he'll achieve it nor a reason why Americans should trust anyone named Bush to run the economy at all.

Head below the fold for more Bush strategy.

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Television commentator Bill O'Reilly checks himself in a mirror prior to interviewing Bono, lead singer of the Irish rock group U2, during the third night of the 2004 Republican National Convention, at Madison Square Garden in New York, September 1, 2004.
Gallup recently released a poll showing that for the first time since they began examining American's views on social issues in 1999, liberals have pulled even with conservatives.
Gallup first asked Americans to describe their views on social issues in 1999, and has repeated the question at least annually since 2001. The broad trend has been toward a shrinking conservative advantage, although that was temporarily interrupted during the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency. Since then, the conservative advantage continued to diminish until it was wiped out this year.

The newfound parity on social ideology is a result of changes in the way both Democrats and Republicans describe their social views. The May 6-10 Gallup poll finds a new high of 53% of Democrats, including Democratic-leaning independents, describing their views on social issues as liberal.

"How can that be" asked an incredulous Bill O'Reilly to his equally perplexed audience. His calcified brain unable to fully compute this changing landscape, Bill decided that simpletons too stupid to walk erect were to blame. That, and the fact that "the net has taken people away from the real world and put them in a fantasy world," unlike, say, Fox News.

Please join me over the fold to see just how far Bill has his head up his own tuchus.

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Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Group of Diverse Students Celebrating Graduation
This year's high school and college graduates don't face as dire an employment picture as graduates during and immediately after the recession, but that doesn't mean they've got it easy. According to a new Economic Policy Institute report, both unemployment and underemployment remain high for young workers—there's 7.2 percent unemployment and 14.9 percent underemployment among young college graduates, where in 2007, before the recession, the same group had 5.5 percent unemployment and 9.6 percent underemployment. For young high school graduates, the unemployment rate is a shocking 19.5 percent, with underemployment close to twice that. And young black and Latino people face an even worse employment picture.

Not only is unemployment high, but wages are stagnant:

The real (inflation-adjusted) wages of young high school graduates are 5.5 percent lower today than in 2000, and the wages of young college graduates are 2.5 percent lower.
  • Women in particular have seen large declines in hourly wages, among both high school and college graduates.
And college graduates, while they have much better odds of finding work than do high school graduates, face significant debt, with college costs having more than doubled in the past 30 years:
Between 2004 and 2014, there was a 92 percent increase in the number of student loan borrowers and a 74 percent increase in average student loan balances (according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York).
But you know the Republican answer to this—screw creating jobs or alleviating student debt, Republicans just want to talk about bootstraps.
Reposted from Barriers and Bridges by Shaun King
Family photo of Tanisha Anderson
Tanisha Anderson
“They killed my sister,” Joell Anderson, Tanisha’s 40-year-old brother said as he fought back tears. “I watched it.”

Suffering a mental health breakdown on the evening of November 12, Tanisha's family called 911 so that she could be taken to a hospital. Instead of an ambulance, the police arrived. Like so many other families who sought medical attention for their loved ones, police killed Tanisha just a few minutes after arriving.

Could you ever imagine the scenario in which people watched two men slam the head of a police officer on the ground, ignore him while he died, and delay medical support until it was too late? Could you imagine six months after such an incident that investigation was still ongoing and no charges had been brought while the men who killed the officer walked free?

It would never happen. Ever.

Such is the outrageous case with Tanisha Anderson.

Family members who lived with Anderson dialed 911 to request medical assistance after Anderson became disoriented and walked out of her house into the cold, wearing only a nightgown, according to the court filing. After the officers arrived and escorted Anderson to their car, the family says, she began to panic. Family members allege that Aldridge then grabbed Anderson, "slammed her to the sidewalk, and pushed her face into the pavement," and then pressed his knee on her back and handcuffed her, while Myers assisted in restraining her. Within moments, Anderson lost consciousness, the family members said. The lawsuit also alleges that when family members asked the officers to check on her condition, the officers "falsely claimed she was sleeping" and delayed calling for medical assistance. "During the lengthy time that Tanisha lay on the ground," the family said, Aldridge and Myers "failed to provide any medical attention to Tanisha."
As Tanisha called out for her brother and mother, an officer used a “Judo” take down move after having pressed her head down repeatedly in the backseat in what seemed to be a “smothering” manner, Joell Anderson said.

Joell says that after she hit her head on the concrete, and the officer placed his knee on her back, she never opened her eyes or spoke another word.

To add insult to injury, Joell says that his sister’s sundress was lifted above her waist, where it remained as officers refused to administer any aid to the unconscious woman. Joell says that he was forced to go over and use his own jacket to cover her naked lower body, because police would not, even when he asked them to.

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