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map of KKK chapters in the US, state by state
In March, WFAA reported on a recent Ku Klux Klan recruiting effort in Wise County, Texas — fliers saying "The KKK wants you" were placed on residents' doors. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, that particular chapter of the Klan — the Loyal White Knights — recently tripled in size, to become the largest in the US.

Wise County's experience is a reminder that the KKK isn't some silly relic of the past, but still real and potentially dangerous in many places around the US. The SPLC has identified 160 chapters of various Klan orders around the country, and NewsOne put them all on this map [see above]

Greg Sargent:
One Democrat makes a smart point to me this morning: In many ways, executive actions and the courts are saving Republicans from themselves on gay rights. A lot of the work is getting done without them having to lift a finger. They are increasingly going mute on the issue in the face of announcements such as the one promising executive action to end gay workplace discrimination.

But even if Republicans are quietly acquiescing to such changes, they’re effectively standing on the sidelines, squandering the few chances they do have to play at least some kind of role in moving the country forward when it comes to gay rights, before this cultural moment has passed them by. Very few GOP lawmakers have endorsed gay marriage. The House GOP is still blocking a vote on ENDA. And now House Republicans will likely not allow any vote on measures that would extend Social Security and veterans benefits to gay couples in states that don’t recognize gay marriage.

NY Times:
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted at its General Assembly on Thursday to change its constitution’s definition of marriage from “a man and a woman” to “two people,” and to allow its ministers to perform same-sex marriages where it is legal.

Both measures, passed by large majorities, are a reversal for a church that in 1991 and in 2008 barred its pastors from performing same-sex marriages, and that has held ecclesiastical trials for ministers who violated the ban and blessed gay couples.

More politics and policy below the fold.

Modern Healthcare:

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vowed Friday to bypass the General Assembly and expand Medicaid eligibility for about 400,000 low-income residents on his own.

The Democratic governor said his staff has begun working with the federal government, insurance plans, hospitals and other groups on how to expand health care coverage for the poor, absent approval from state lawmakers.

"Let me be crystal clear, I am moving forward to get health care for Virginian citizens," McAuliffe said at news conference at the capitol.

Adrianna McIntyre:
A bipartisan group of legislators is working together on Obamacare — not trying to repeal it, but trying to make the law work a little bit better.

On Thursday, four Senators — two Republicans and two Democrats — introduced legislation that would tweak an Obamacare program that is meant to improve patients' medical care, but, according to recent research, might actually be making things worse for low-income patients.

It's hard to know now whether this change will get any traction or, like the majority of bills right now, get trapped in the political process. Still, its a notable moment for the health care law, with Senators from both political parties making an apparently good faith effort to fix something in the law that doesn't seem to be working quite right.

Bipartisan? Not in VA!

Michael Brendan Dougherty:

Republicans: Now is the time to admit you were wrong about the Iraq War
The GOP must undo the damage to its foreign policy brand
Dana Milbank:
For all the talk of the struggle between the tea party and the GOP establishment, it has become a false dichotomy. In ideological terms, the tea party has already won the battle; Republican lawmakers new and old have shifted so far to the right that the differences among them are minor. What divides Republicans now is temperament — and here the establishment has prevailed.
NY Times:
In dealing with health plans, drug companies are facing a new imperative — bargain or be banned.

Determined to slow the rapid rise in drug prices, more health plans are refusing to cover certain drugs unless the companies charge less for them.

The strategy appears to be getting pharmaceutical makers to compete on price. Some big-selling products, like the respiratory medicine Advair and the diabetes drug Victoza, have suffered precipitous declines in market share because Express Scripts, the biggest pharmacy benefits manager, recently stopped paying for them for many patients.

“There’s clearly more price competition in the marketplace,” Andrew Witty, chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, said, talking about Advair in a recent company earnings call.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 04:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Three Star Kossacks.

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