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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Massachusetts
Home country: United States
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 02:28 PM
Number of posts: 60,536

Journal Archives

GOP goes on K Street hiring spree

By ANNA PALMER 12/19/14 5:32 AM EST

Lobbyists can come home again.

As Republicans take control of Congress, they are bringing in veteran influence peddlers to help them run the show. Nearly a dozen veteran K Streeters have been named as top staffers to GOP leaders or on key committees as lawmakers prepare to take the gavel in January.

For instance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell named Hazen Marshall policy director earlier this week. Marshall, a former staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, has spent the last 10 years as a lobbyist at the Nickles Group representing dozens of clients like AT&T, Comcast and energy company Exelon.

The trend is in part because Republicans are taking control of the Senate next year, opening up attractive jobs once held by Democrats.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/gop-k-street-lobbying-113690.html#ixzz3MNSyjLGO

Sony 'made a mistake'

Source: Washington Post

The first questions asked of President Obama involved the massive Sony hack, which the United States has tied to North Korea.

“In this interconnected digital world, there are going to be opportunities for hackers to engage in cyberassaults both in the private sector and the public,” he said. “Now, our first order of business is making sure that we do everything to harden sites and prevent these attacks from taking place.”

He said the country needs to work on improving its cyber-security laws, adding that he is sympathetic to Sony being hacked. Yet he said Sony “made a mistake” in opting to pull the movie. He also said he wished Sony had spoken with him before canceling the release of “The Interview.”


Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics-live/liveblog/live-updates-obama-press-conference/?

The next policy to help the middle class that Republicans will oppose

By Paul Waldman December 18 at 3:16 PM

Lately, Democrats have been searching for new ways to appeal to working class and middle class voters on economic issues. They know their basic economic perspective is popular, but they worry that the few specific policies they advocate, like increasing the minimum wage, don’t touch enough people’s lives. They also worry about being seen as advocates for the poor but not the middle class. So they’re looking for ideas.

But there’s one policy change already in the pipeline that looks as though it could be the next big Democratic economic push. It’s got everything: the potential to affect millions, guaranteed opposition from business groups, and the specter of another executive action from President Obama. That last point means that the change can be made as soon as the administration wants, and that Republicans will be apoplectic when it happens.

It’s about who gets overtime pay, which has all but disappeared from American workers’ paychecks. But maybe not for long.

A little background: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, workers are supposed to be paid overtime (time and a half) if they work more than 40 hours a week. That doesn’t apply to executives and managers, or workers whose salaries exceed a certain threshold. The threshold is what’s at issue; it has only been raised once since 1975. The current threshold is $455 a week, or $23,660 a year — under the poverty level for a family of four. If you make more than that, you’re ineligible for overtime pay. Today only around one in ten American workers is eligible for overtime pay, compared to 65 percent of workers who were covered in 1975.


Washington sheriff backs deputy who said cops need military hardware to fight right-wing extremists

18 DEC 2014 AT 10:21 ET

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich tried to grapple with the fallout after one of his deputies said something in a video that was picked up and became a viral hit at InfoWars, the website of conspiracy enthusiast Alex Jones. In the video clip, the deputy said military-grade equipment was necessary because of gun-hoarding “constitutionalists” who have made police work dangerous.

The woman interviewing the deputy asked about the need for a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle in America, to which the deputy replied, “We’ve got a lot of constitutionalists and a lot of people that stockpile weapons, lots of ammunition. They have weapons here locally.”

The InfoWars website jumped on that quote as evidence that there’s a conspiracy by the country’s law enforcement agencies to target Americans who hold conservative views. “Constitutionalist” is how many on the far right — including the majority of InfoWars’ audience — describe themselves. However, as Sheriff Knezovich noted, “people need to understand that there are people who carry that title who have killed police officers.”

As the Sheriff said in his YouTube response (below) to the InfoWars video, his deputy was not referring generally to those who support the Constitution, but to self-described “constitutionalists” like Jerad and Amanda Miller.


'Nuclear Option' Helps Obama Reshape The Courts For A Generation

By SAHIL KAPUR Published DECEMBER 18, 2014, 6:00 AM EST

President Barack Obama can thank outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for triggering the "nuclear option" in November 2013 and securing him one of the most robust judicial legacies of any modern president.

In six years, he has appointed a whopping 307 judges, who will shape the law for decades after he leaves office. The final 12 district judges were confirmed in the closing night of the Senate session on Tuesday, Reid's final move before Democrats surrender control of the chamber.

"The Obama Administration and the United States Senate have given Americans the best possible holiday present: the gift of justice," said Nan Aron, the president of the progressive law and policy group Alliance For Justice.

A total of 132 judges were confirmed in the 113th Congress — the most since the 1970s.

Perhaps most significant is his appointment of 53 judges on federal circuit courts, which have the last word on most matters of law. When Obama took office, just one of 13 appeals courts had a majority of Democratic-appointed judges on the active bench. Today, nine of 13 appeals courts have a majority of Democratic appointees.


Al Franken Realizes Mid-Sentence That He's Endorsing Hillary Clinton

The Huffington Post | By Paige Lavender

Posted: 12/16/2014 5:28 pm EST

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, even if he didn't realize it at first.

"I think that Hillary would make a great president. I haven't announced that I am supporting her, but -- does this count? I guess? Maybe this counts," Franken said in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday.

When asked if he felt he needed to see other potential candidates before endorsing Clinton, who has yet to declare she's running, Franken said he's ready for her to make a move. "I think that I’m ready for Hillary," Franken said. "I think that we've not had someone this experienced, this tough, and she's very, very impressive."

Franken's endorsement came hours after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) announced he has "decided to actively explore" a presidential run.


Video: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/16/al-franken-hillary-clinton_n_6336620.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

The call that changed half a century of division...


Jim Sciutto ✔ @jimsciutto

The call that changed half a century of division: POTUS speaking with #Cuba Pres. Raul Castro yesterday

12:36 PM - 17 Dec 2014

Jon Favreau @jonfavs

Remember when Barack Obama couldn't get anything done because he was a lame duck
President who lost the midterms? That was six weeks ago

12:57 PM - 17 Dec 2014



What? Pat Robertson predicts gays will go extinct ‘because they don’t reproduce’

17 DEC 2014 AT 12:39 ET

Christian Broadcasting Network host Pat Robertson on Wednesday predicted that gay men and lesbians would eventually “die out because they don’t reproduce.”

On Wednesday’s 700 Club, a woman named Crystal complained that her church had banned dating, and it considered showing interest in the opposite sex a “sin.” She said that the only married members of the church were people who had met their spouses before joining.

According to Robertson, this church faced the same threat as the LGBT community: extinction.

“You know, those who are homosexual will die out because they don’t reproduce,” the TV preacher opined. “You know, you have to have heterosexual sex to reproduce.”


Congress Stands In The Way Of Lifting The U.S. Embargo On Cuba

By SAHIL KAPUR Published DECEMBER 17, 2014, 1:02 PM EST

Despite the monumental shift on Wednesday toward U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than half a century, a cornerstone of American policy is here to stay for the foreseeable future: the economic embargo.

Lifting the embargo is a two-step process that requires approval from the executive branch as well as Congress, experts say.

First there would have to be inter-agency approval for lifting the designation of Cuba as a terrorist state, something that President Barack Obama said Wednesday he has asked his administration to review. Then Congress would have to remove the embargo in order to pave the way for the U.S. to establish treaties or trade agreements on Cuba.

"On the trade issue, the beginning of that conversation would have to do with changing Cuba's designation as a terrorist country," said Carl Meacham, the director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "As far lifting the embargo, that would have to be through Congress. ... You need legislative action in order to lift the embargo."


Marco Rubio Challenges The Pope On Obama's New Cuba Policy

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) torched President Barack Obama's new policy aimed at normalizing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba on Wednesday, and addressed Pope Francis' support for the president's move.

"My understanding is that the influence that His Holiness had was on the release of Mr. [Alan] Gross, which I've not criticized. As I said, I'm happy that he's with the Cuban people [sic]. I would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people — for a people to truly be free," Rubio, a Catholic whose parents immigrated from Cuba to flee the Castro regime, told reporters.

"I think the people of Cuba deserve the same chances to have democracy as the people of Argentina have had, where he comes from; as the people of Italy have, where he now lives. Obviously the Vatican's its own state, but very nearby," the senator and rumored 2016 presidential hopeful continued. "My point is I hope that people with that sort of prestige on the world stage will take up the cause of freedom and democracy. The Cuban people are the only people in this hemisphere that have not been able to elect a leader in more than 55 or 60 years. That's outrageous."

In a statement circulated by the White House, the Vatican said, "The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relation, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their history.


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