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First up, Greg Sargent previews the latest attempt to attack the successful Affordable Care Act:
A new report this morning confirms that Republicans intend to use upcoming confirmation hearings for Obama’s HHS nominee to breathe new life into political attacks on Obamacare in advance of the 2014 elections.

Democrats should absolutely relish this development.

Reuters reports that Republicans plan to use confirmation hearings for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Obama’s pick to replace Kathleen Sebelius, to “re-energize their election-year attacks on his signature healthcare initiative.”

And this is why they need a new angle of attack:
Here’s another unexpected way the politics of Obamacare are going to get scrambled in the days ahead – and not necessarily in the GOP’s favor — as the reality of mounting sign-ups sinks in.

It turns out that several of the states with some of the hardest fought races of the cycle are also boasting some of the highest Obamacare sign-up numbers in the country [...] these numbers will make it harder and harder for Republicans to continue pretending the law’s beneficiaries don’t exist — even in states that constitute tough political terrain for the law and Democratic candidates.

And some great research from Sabrina Siddiqui and Sam Stein at The Huffington Post provides further evidence that some Republican's aren't finding an all-out attack on Obamacare (and its lifesaving policies) all that appealing:
In public, House Republicans show few to no cracks in their anti-Obamacare platform. They say they want the law repealed and -- if they deliver their talking points right -- replaced with a conservative alternative.

The GOP mantra is repeated ad nauseam. And when someone deviates from the script, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) did days after the 2012 elections, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) did last week, they quickly backtrack.

Scratch a bit below the surface, however, and the position that House GOP lawmakers take on the health care law becomes cloudier. On their campaign and congressional websites, in fact, a good number of House Republican lawmakers don't actually advocate for repeal at all. An equally healthy chunk of the GOP caucus say they want to get rid of Obamacare, then add that they support some provisions of the law.

Much more on the day's top stories below the fold.

On the other big story of the week, the botched execution in Oklahoma, Eugene Robinson pens an eloquent piece about the death penalty:

We fool ourselves if we think there is a “humane” way to way to kill someone. Sure, the second inmate, Charles Warner, probably would have suffered an equally agonizing death. But isn’t this the whole point?

When I read about the crimes Lockett committed, I wish I could support capital punishment. When I read about what Warner did, I want to strangle him with my own hands. But revenge is not the same thing as justice, and karmic retribution is not a power I trust government to exercise. The death penalty has no place in a civilized society.

In case you missed this, this piece by Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, is a must-read:
Six years after the financial crisis, an alarming concentration of wealth and income at the top of this country is hobbling our economy and strangling our democracy. Wage stagnation is a fact of life for the vast majority of the United States. The bottom 90 percent of wage earners have experienced falling wages since the end of the Great Recession, and 95 percent of the income gains since June 2009 have gone to the richest 1 percent. But the problem predates the recession. Census data show that household income for the typical family in 2012 was lower than it was in 1989 and that the median income for men working full time is lower than it was 40 years ago.

This is regress. This is retreat. This is democratic capitalism teetering, held upright mainly through greed, speculation and fear.

The winners in our society, the top 10 percent, belong to both political parties, as do the 90 percent experiencing stagnant and falling incomes. And the winners in our losing economic game have pushed policies that benefit the super-rich instead of helping most of the United States: bank bailouts and fiscal austerity, NAFTA-like trade agreements, attacks on Social Security. The more this agenda gains ground in both parties, the more working-class voters get discouraged and don’t turn out.

On the topic of campaign finance reform, Avram Billig makes an interesting suggestion:
Start with government contractors—groups that receive taxpayer money in exchange for goods and services. Because contractors receive federal funds, their relationships with politicians are especially prone to corruption. That’s why they are prohibited from contributing to candidates’ campaigns. Yet the same groups can spend unlimited sums to elect politicians without any public scrutiny. The president can correct this inconsistency by requiring any contractor who receives taxpayer funds to disclose its dark-money spending. In 2011, the administration drafted an executive order to do just that, but it was leaked and quickly quashed by Republicans in Congress. Since then, the problem has only gotten worse. It’s time to reintroduce the proposal. Just as Obama led on minimum-wage reform by raising contractors’ pay floor, he can lead on transparency by requiring more contractor disclosure.
Leonard Pitts Jr. examines "The racist misadventures of Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling":
The truth is, the idiocy of these men doesn’t mean a whole lot, doesn’t impact much beyond their immediate lives. We hyperventilate about it, yet somehow manage not to be overly concerned as black boys are funneled into prison, brown ones are required to show their papers, voting rights are interdicted, Fourth Amendment rights are abrogated and some guy has his job application round-filed when the hiring woman sees that his name is Malik.
Finally, Jay Bookman reminds us of the Republican's Benghazi broken record and provides a great takedown of their latest spin:
Charles Krauthammer says that newly released White House emails represent the long-sought "smoking documents." The courtly Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is ranting about "the scumbags ... in the White House who lied about this.” “We have a major, major scandal,” says the hapless Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

What you have, boys, is nothing. With sufficient application of hot air, even a dying ember of a scandal might be made to emit a puff of smoke, but you lack even that.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Loved that piece from Trumka (47+ / 0-)

    We need to push this message:

    We will also turn out for candidates who tell the truth about what is happening in our country: candidates who speak clearly about falling wages and concentration of wealth and income, and about the astounding tilt in our economy and politics toward global corporations and the very rich.
    and can I get an "Amen" for this:
    There is no way to out-plutocrat the plutocrats. Working-class voters will turn out when politicians put on the ballot an economy that works for all, where opportunity is real, wages rise and the government is truly on our side.

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Fri May 02, 2014 at 04:41:05 AM PDT

  •  Thank You Jay (6+ / 0-)

    nice way to start a FRIDAY !

    •  BENGHAZEEEEE!!.......argggghhhh. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TofG, JaxDem, a2nite, Hoghead99, rl en france
    •  Yeah, a major major nothing is still nothing (13+ / 0-)

      and since they won't shut up about it, then let's discuss this: 13 Benghazis Happened Under President Bush and Fox News Said Nothing

      The incidents below include all kinds of attacks — gunmen on bikes, suicide bombs, car bombs, gunmen shooting outside, and terrorists storming Consulate compounds similar to what happened in Benghazi. During each of those incidents Fox News was only supportive of the adminsitration's reactions and there were no calls for the removal of Secretary Condoleeza Rice.

      The GOP and Fox's fixation on Benghazi is partisan propoganda. In some of these attacks the State Department had been forewarned about potential threats, unlike Benghazi. Instead of reporting the incident and the recent allegations from a whistleblower, Fox News is hacking together their own version of the events to further convolute the story's reality.

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Fri May 02, 2014 at 05:05:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anyone know how many Americans died in (0+ / 0-)

        these attacks.  I seem to recall one ambassador in the Middle East.  Betcha there was more than four.

        "The truest measure of compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them." Father Gregory Boyle, Homeboy Industries

        by Mr MadAsHell on Fri May 02, 2014 at 09:27:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I remember 110k + 4k dead plus more in Iraq (0+ / 0-)

          Not counting Bush's botching completely what's happening in Afghanistan and what kind of NOTHING we're going to be left with there.

          WTF is the anger over that?! WTF is the comparison?!

          The ambassador was WARNED to get out of Benghazi and he did not. Susan Rice ABSOLUTELY nailed it when she said the issue in Benghazi was some stupid asshole's videotape that incensed the local conservative militia and they attacked and murdered Stevens by setting fire to the compound, not a bullet through the head.

          Obama nailed it the next day in the Rose Garden saying it was a terrorist attack. Mitt Romney blew it by misrepresenting what the president said.

          WTF do you want? It is black and white and the cons in this country are full of shit!

          What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

          by TerryDarc on Fri May 02, 2014 at 02:44:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The more pundits claim both parties are to blame, (7+ / 0-)

    The less people turn out.

    Redistribution towards the wealthy is the default scenario.

    by FortunateGuy on Fri May 02, 2014 at 04:46:05 AM PDT

    •  Agree, but the more they act the same, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tb mare

      the lower voter turnout.  Some Dems don't offer a clear choice, and it isn't everyone who will think in terms of organization of the House and Senate, SCOTUS appointments, etc. when they decide whether or not to vote.

      I am a senior citizen and have always voted in every possible election, but sometimes the choices are so dismal I have to push myself to do it.

  •  In the spring....there will be growth....or not... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CenPhx, se portland, skohayes, offgrid
  •  The death penalty is wrong & the last killing (10+ / 0-)

    Shows there is no "humane" way to kill someone. There is something wrong with us.

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Fri May 02, 2014 at 04:47:32 AM PDT

  •  On BBC Worldnews just saw a report subprime (5+ / 0-)

    lending is back in U.S. for---automobiles. Now what could possibly go wrong with that?

    •  Hasn't it always? (9+ / 0-)

      My understanding is that one reason poor people sometimes drive flashy cars (while living in trashy housing) is that the auto companies and their captive loan arms were more than willing to make subprime loans, at confiscatory rates with no money down, on an item that was guaranteed to lose value (below the value of the loan) the minute you drove it off the lot. But apparently the money they made on the sale, plus the confiscatory interest, more than made up for the high default rate.

      What may be new is independent lenders getting into the act, and then bundling the loans for resale on the derivatives market. Hopefully at least responsible investors will do a bit more due diligence, not just be suckered in by the promises of high returns. Or Moody's and S&P and the government regulators may look with a bit more jaundiced eye.

    •  mine turned out to be subprime (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wintergreen8694, skohayes

      the Chrysler Cirrus that I owned was totalled after a rear end collision(not my fault) in 2010.  I knew it was gonna be hard to get a decent new/used car after spending my entire adult life to date living paycheck to paycheck and never being able to pay all my bills on time, my credit rating has never been good.
      Anyway, was able to get a used 2006 economy car with financing through the dealer's lender, although I did pay $1000 down.  Didn't realize at the time it was a subprime lender, although I should have guessed, was just happy to have a decent car for work.  Cars have never been anything but a necessary evil for me, unfortunately I don't live in an urban area where I could do without one.  Ever since, things have been near impossible with the additional car payment bill, but I'm finally going to be moving to a cheaper apartment.  Over the past year or so I was wondering why the car would stall, for me it was always in stop and go traffic usually at traffic lights, luckily there was always a place to pull over.
      Long story longer: the dealer was Chevy, the lender GM Financial, and my car is a 2006 Cobalt.  Fuck me.  

  •  NYTimes goes full wow-e-zowie propellor head (8+ / 0-)

    over Chernobyl "sarcophagus". I think the editorial this morning was outsourced to the Science Club at Communist Martyrs High School. The construction of a giant dome over the site decades after the release of radiation that killed and sickened thousands and rendered large swaths of land forever poisoned does not "entomb my unfounded fears". Has the crew that put this piece together been to Fujishima? Are they aware of the "spent" rods sitting in Peekskill upstream from their head quarters that no one has the guts, brains or commitment to deal with?

    And they accuse the Germans of having acted irrationally and now have to fire up old coal fired plants. They neglect to mention that Germany has had great success with renewable energy. Their problem is that operators of coal and oil fired plants are losing too much business to economically operate their plants which are needed when wind and solar energy are low. This is a problem that could be solved if the will was there to do so.

    Anthropogenic climate change is a tough problem, the solution is not to bury radioactive piles that are hot for thousands of years under pyramids that last a hundred.

    I will check the markets today to see of the Times was acquired by GE.

    •  I have been wondering about Chernobyl's (9+ / 0-)

      should mother Russia fully take over the Ukraine, or will she carve out that area and choose not to own it?

      In the meanwhile: Some birds adapt to Chernobyl's radiation

      The effects on local plants and wildlife have been varied. Pine trees close to the disaster died in the days soon after. Other plants thrived in the spaces abandoned by humans. Wildlife, too, seemed to be doing well. Rare birds were spotted. A herd of Przewalski’s horses, escaped from captivity, grew. Wolves and boar were seen on the streets of one town.

      But all was not good. Radiation, after all, is not healthy for living things. And so studies have documented negative effects of Chernobyl’s radiation on the region’s plants and animals, including changes in abundance, distribution, life history and mutation rates. Scientists have found that birds living in the area have eye cataracts or smaller brains. And insects, microbes and other decomposers aren’t behaving normally.

      A new study, however, finds that some birds may be adapting to the low levels of radiation that persist around Chernobyl. The study was published April 24 in Functional Ecology.

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Fri May 02, 2014 at 05:17:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  there are some interesting findings on fast (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JaxDem, rl en france

        evolution but I don't think any are fast enough to adapt to nuclear accidents.....

        •  They don't "adapt". Evolution is (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skohayes, singe

          the relative growth in abundance of a specific genotype that was already present in the population due to random mutation. That's why small populations tend toward extinction in the face of new inhospitable environmental changes. The problem also with studies of regions like Chernobyl is what is being compared to what. If you compare sparrows in Chernobyl to very large populations of sparrows, then you very well may come up with anomalies caused by the relative disparity in population sizes, although one would hope for more competence in researchers than that. The other problem with studying such local populations is that local influences not visible to researchers may actually be causal, rather than the radiation effects that researchers identify as the determining variable. So it's much more complicated than the "post hoc propter hoc" thinking one often sees in such studies.

          Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

          by Anne Elk on Fri May 02, 2014 at 08:47:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes i understand how evolution works. My comment (0+ / 0-)

            "fast enough to adapt to nuclear accidents" was meant to be tongue in cheek but I guess it was a bit too droll and sent up a red flag given that creationist nonsense isfoaming all over the media....populations/species do adapt to environmental change as genetic variations in populations become of increased fitness blah, blah, but I guess I am preaching to the choir....I should take my wise guy act out to the creation museum and get my fair share of the way the piece from the times science section that I offer a link to is quite interesting....have a good day

      •  Thanks for the tip on Functional Ecology (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        singe, JaxDem, rl en france

        I get the journal but haven't looked at that issue.

    •  I heard this morning (0+ / 0-)

      that over the last couple of weeks, two small boats covered in barnacles and seaweed have washed up on the coast of California, and researchers are investigating to see if they came from the tsunami wreckage.

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Fri May 02, 2014 at 09:24:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Distorting the truth about Obamacare and BENGHAZI (7+ / 0-)

    All of the lies the Republicans have told about Obamacare, and now the GOP house, as a group, has released distorted numbers about how may of the 8 million exchange enrollees have yet to pay. Numbers that will clearly be shown as highly inflated by later in May.

    Yet they're in a frenzy claiming that "the White House has been caught lying" about an e-mail released this week related to BENGHAZI. And Morning Joke was forewarning us this morning about how damaging the 30 second ads on BENGHAZI will be for Hillary in 2016.

    Yes, the Republican plan to win in 2014 & 2016: distorting the truth about Obamacare and BENGHAZI! Sounds like a winning strategy... for Dems!

    "Inequality is the root of social evil." ― Pope Francis

    by GoodGod on Fri May 02, 2014 at 04:57:44 AM PDT

    •  And they're causing problems for the locals (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CenPhx, SoCalSal

      nosotros no somos estúpidos

      by a2nite on Fri May 02, 2014 at 05:13:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But they aren't smoking mara-ju-wanna (5+ / 0-)

      so the government isn't going to do anything.

      Phone in a false marijuana sighting and you'll get somewhere.

      Early on the morning of October 2, 1992, 31 officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Border Patrol, National Guard and Park Service entered the Scott's 200-acre (0.81 km2) ranch. [2] They planned to arrest Scott for allegedly running a 4,000-plant marijuana plantation.[1] When deputies broke down the door to Scott's house, Scott's wife would later tell reporters, she screamed, "Don't shoot me. Don't kill me."[3] That brought Scott staggering out of the bedroom, blurry-eyed from a cataract operation—holding a .38 caliber Colt snub-nosed revolver over his head.[4] When he emerged at the top of the stairs, holding his gun over his head, the officers told him to lower the gun. As he did, they shot him to death. According to the official report, the gun was pointed at the officers when they shot him.[1]

      Later, the lead agent in the case, sheriff's deputy Gary Spencer and his partner John Cater posed for photographs smiling arm-in-arm outside Scott's cabin.[4]

      Despite a subsequent search of Scott's ranch using helicopters, dogs, searchers on foot, and a high-tech Jet Propulsion Laboratory device for detecting trace amounts of sinsemilla, no marijuana—or any other illegal drug—was found.[5]

      As much as our cops are murderous beasts, I can't believe the government is actually taking shit off of a citizen.

      Legal means "good".
      [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

      by xxdr zombiexx on Fri May 02, 2014 at 05:16:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  George to Jeb...If you need some advice....give me (5+ / 0-)

    a call.

  •  GOP stands for an Unequal America (7+ / 0-)

    Committed to job destruction,

    Committed to impoverishing Americans,

    Committed to starving Americans,

    Committed to denying Americans as much choice over as many areas as possible,

    Committed to denying sick and starving poor Americans with access to even remotely appropriate medical care.

    I keep awaiting the day that these Americans figure it out.

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Fri May 02, 2014 at 05:12:14 AM PDT

  •  Slate puts Benghazi emails in order (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, skohayes, askew

    Ben Rhodes email is right in line with what we already know. There is nothing new here. Rhodes was simply condensing what he was told into a short email. He didn't make this up himself. It was the C.I.A.'s own report. Was Ben Rhodes in a position to question what he had been told? There is no indication he had more information than the C.I.A. at this time.

    The C.I,A. Office of Terrorism Analysis report starts with, "We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. consulate and subsequently its annex."

    Here is the rest of the timeline:

    12:23 p.m.: The CIA's office of general counsel adds a line about the "inspired by the protests" theory being inconclusive.

    3:04 p.m.: The talking points are sent to relevant White House aides, including Ben Rhodes.

    4:42 p.m.: The CIA circulates new talking points but removes a mention of al Qaida.

    6:21 p.m.: The White House (Tommy Vietor, not Ben Rhodes) ads a line about the administration warning, on September 10, of social media reports calling for demonstrations.

    7:39 p.m.: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland objects to some of the language because "the penultimate point could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings."

    8:09 p.m.: Ben Rhodes sends the "smoking gun" email, nine hours after the first draft of talking points from the CIA said that the attacks grew out of a demonstration.

    “We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.” - Winston Chuchill

    by se portland on Fri May 02, 2014 at 05:53:40 AM PDT

  •  Repeal and replace (3+ / 0-)

    Repeal and replace the term "top 1%" with "households who make over $400,000 per year".  I think a lot of traction is lost when "top 1%" is used because people don't realize how far their income is away from the 1%, so they think any tax changes  might affect them soon, if they just do a little better. And that's just income.  There should be a way to bring wealth into the conversation, too...  THAT would show another huge gap.  Ideas???

  •  '13 cars (0+ / 0-)

    I tripped over a Google link about rear axle repair for a '13 Dodge. I sort of brain farted and thought that looked surprizingly modern for a '13. Then I realized that it wasn't the '13 I grew up with going to Steam & Threshing shows and other antiques back when I was a kid in the '60s and '70s.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Fri May 02, 2014 at 06:25:52 AM PDT

  •  Funded Fundies.... (0+ / 0-)

    There was a diary about the 1%ers pumping a billion dollars a year into Religious Right. I wonder if there's anyway to divide and conquer or otherwise defuse this?

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Fri May 02, 2014 at 06:30:26 AM PDT

  •  Vaccines as a public health issue get a bit of (3+ / 0-)

    attention in "The enduring benefits of vaccination" with a fairly good biological explanation:

    In most health matters, defying medical authority mainly has individual consequences. Those who believe that cancer can be treated with coffee enemas are only killing themselves. But communicable diseases are different. Some people can’t be immunized for medical reasons, or their protective response to a vaccine is weak. They depend on the immunity of others to avoid infection. Immunization rates north of 90 percent are usually required to protect the whole herd.

    This means that if even a small portion of the herd refuses vaccination, the risks rise for everyone. Epidemiology grants marginal groups the power to do great harm. The United States generally has rates of immunization in the high 80s or low 90s. In some places, however, the rate dips lower, making it easier for an infected traveler (for example) to cause an outbreak. Recent examples can be found in Orange County, Calif., and New York City. The problem is even worse in Britain (where the immunization rate for measles is only about 80 percent) and in other parts of Europe.

    And one of the oddities I've noted:
    A larger number of resisters are committed to an organic, chemical-free, natural lifestyle. This is attractive, except in the case of diseases in which the “natural” state — through most of history and still in much of the world — has been massive infant and child suffering and death.
    And when that view endangers those that for legitimate medical reasons cannot be vaccinated it is simply reckless endangerment.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Fri May 02, 2014 at 06:31:16 AM PDT

  •  "The death penalty has no place in a (4+ / 0-)

    civilized society"

    Couldn't be more plainly stated.

    When will people learn that the death penalty is not about the criminals, but us??

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Fri May 02, 2014 at 07:14:02 AM PDT

  •  Wonder how the dirt-poor (0+ / 0-)

    neocon states that didn't expand their Medicaid programs are gonna vote...especially when they see residents of smarter and richer red states that did benefiting from this hated social services program.

    There are lots of 'em...and one has to wonder if they will overcome their hatred of anything "federal" when it affects them...or have their illustrious leaders been slipping them federal funding disguised as "charity" all along, just like Perry did in Texas with the Meals on Wheels program.

    Wonder how much of the neocon base is gonna vote to remove Obamacare if they enrolled and are getting affordable healthcare...perhaps for the first time in their lives.  Should be an interesting election this November...just to see how brainwashed the neocon base actually is.


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