ALEC in Wisconsin: The Hijacking of a State

Koch's Americans for Prosperity Not Supporting Walker In WI Recall?

Americans for Prosperity logo and Koch Industries logoDC-based special interest group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is busing-in out-of-state Tea Partiers and spending millions on advertisements, rallies, and phone banks in the weeks before recall elections for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and four state senate seats. But the group founded and funded by New York-based oil billionaire David Koch insists its activities have nothing to do with the Wisconsin campaigns or elections.

image of Governor Scott WalkerWisconsinites were shell shocked in 2011 by a wide-ranging legislative agenda in their State Capitol that seemed to come out of the blue. Anti-consumer bills, union busting legislation, voter ID, enormous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy along with requirements for "super majority" votes to raise revenue were fast tracked through the legislature.

Is "Right to Work" Next on Walker's Agenda?

Governor Scott Walker with Diane HendricksMany are wondering if making Wisconsin a "Right to Work" state is next on Governor Scott Walker's agenda if he wins the recall election on June 5.


Last Friday, Governor Robert Bentley signed into law a head-scratcher of a bill, HB 658, which not only fails to address the catastrophic provisions of HB 56, but doubles down on its failed attrition-through enforcement strategy and cements Alabama’s standing as home to the most extreme anti-immigrant legislation in the country.

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Did the War on Women Exact a Toll on Romney's War Chest?

Recent polling suggests that Mitt Romney may have narrowed the gender gap between himself and Barack Obama in terms of voters. But the enthusiasm isn't translating to dollars for the campaign: A Center for Responsive Politics analysis of each campaign's large-dollar donations on a month-by-month basis shows that, as Obama accused the GOP of waging a "war on women," his fundraising dollars from women have stayed steady and Romney's have declined.

In 2011, 44 percent of Obama's money came from female donors -- but in the months of January, February and April 2012 it was up to 46 percent, the analysis shows. Romney, on the other hand, saw an initial increase from female donors in January of this year, but a steady slide ever since. In April, just 31 percent of Romney's large-dollar donors were female. » Read More

Watch the GOP Base tell us why they vote against their own interest

Can you say: toothless inbred racist Moron

Filmmaker (and daughter of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi) Alexandra Pelosi traveled to Mississippi at the behest of Real Time with Bill Maher to film voters and get their opinions of the 2012 Republican primary. Before showing the footage, Maher explained to the audience and his panel of guests that the people in the video were not “cherry-picked” and that the intent of the video was not to make fun of anyone.
However, it becomes clear fairly quickly that some of these people are not going to be shortlisted for MacArthur “Genius Grants” any time soon. After the clip, panelists John Hamm from AMC’s series Mad Men and former RNC Chairman Michael Steele joked about the number of teeth the interviewees possessed, but otherwise refrained from poking too much fun.
The Pelosi segment is above and the panel segment is below the fold and I'll give them credit for actually having a pretty substantive conversation about what leads to the sort of prejudices shown in the video by Pelosi, whether anyone thinks that the people she interviewed are representative of most of the people in that state or not, I've never spent any time in Mississippi, so I don't consider myself qualified to say one way or the other what most of the population there is like, although I do know they've got abysmal records when it comes to education and poverty. I found it strange that the coverage by Pelosi did not include any black people from that state, but they weren't specific about what area she dropped off in and what the ethnic breakdown there is compared to the general population of the state.
I'm sure there are a lot of people who will find the footage insulting, but I think the larger arguments about addressing the prejudices of the people interviewed is a good one to have for all of us and how to not dismiss them, but attempt to address them and understand what the underlying causes are, which I think the panel here at least tried to do in the limited time they had to discuss it.

NAACP Endorses Marriage Equality

BREAKING: NAACP Endorses Marriage Equality

The board of the NAACP, the “nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization,” endorsed marriage equality at a meeting this afternoon. The move comes 10 days after President Obamaannounced his support of same-sex marriage.
The NAACP’s move comes as attitudes about gays and lesbians in the African American community are changing rapidly. A recent poll found that 54% of African Americans supported President Obama’s recent decision.
Maxim Thorne, formerly of the NAACP, broke the news over Twitter:

Since Obama’s announcement, numerous influential political figures — including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn — have joined him in supporting marriage equality.
The NAACP confirms their decision with the New York Times: “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”

John Boehner's Website Admits GOP Out Of Ideas

If you’re trying to access the ”GOP Solutions” tab on House Speaker John Boehner’s website, you won’t find any policy initiatives or grand ideas. But you will get a poetic take on why Congress has a hard time gettinganything done:
“ERROR 404
Page Not Found
We apologize, but the page you are looking for could not be found. Please examine the spelling of the URL you are trying to access or use the search bar in the upper-right corner of the site.”
For a screenshot, click here.

How Obama Will Beat Romney in November

If President Obama keeps drubbing Republican challenger Mitt Romney as he has this month, pollsters calling the election a toss-up may be in for a November surprise.
The president not only has the ability to stage headline-grabbing events but has a far better command of the issues than Romney and is infinitely better at expounding them.
Romney edged Obama 48 to 47 percent in a Politico-George Washington University Battleground Poll and Obama beats Romney 47 to 45 percent in the Gallup Swing States poll, the Chicago " Tribune" reports.
But Obama's margins could widen as he takes his case to the nation. George Packer writes in the May 14th "The New Yorker": "A recent NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll has Obama beating Romney in every category from honesty and likability to "Looking out for the middle class' and "Being a good commander-in-chief'...."
So far, May has been a disaster for Romney. Obama's Afghan trip enabled him to dominate the media for three days, during which Romney's remarks were blotted out as if by some stellar explosion.

The manner in which Obama entered and departed Afghanistan---under cover of darkness---should have tipped off Romney he's got an issue about how badly that war is actually going. Instead of challenging Obama on his role in extending a military and moral fiasco, the best response  Romney could muster was to say he was "pleased" by Obama's trip to Kabul.
Next we saw Obama telling an audience of college students, how  Republicans voted to allow the interest rates on college loans to rise. Romney also favors this but Congressional Republicans don't help him by voting for the money-lenders.  
And while Obama gave his blessing to  same-sex marriage, Romney was allowing his foreign policy advisor Richard Grenell to resign on grounds that being gay disqualified him from that post.
To top it off, a story surfaces that Romney during his Cranford prep school days  assaulted a fellow student whose "hair style"  he didn't like. Romney wielded the scissors personally while his fellows held the youth down. A Romney aide first said Romney could not remember the incident and Romney later denied the student's haircut was over homosexuality. Whatever you believe, the episode put Romney on the defensive and strengthened Obama's grip on the gay vote.
Considering Romney's lukewarm endorsements from his own party and the likelihood that his lack of knowledge and nuance on the issues will bring him to grief, his delegates would make no mistake to rethink their commitments. Republicans still have dogged Ron Paul as an intelligent alternative. Unfortunately, the sensible Paul wants U.S. forces out of the Middle East now while Romney's backers seemingly are content to carry on the wars.
As Michael Knox, chief executive officer of the non-profit U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation, of Palm Harbor, Fla., noted, American voters really don't have a major peace candidate to vote for this time around. And as for the polls, activist David Swanson, of Charlottesville, Va., says they only "distract" from the problem, which is "an unrepresentative bought-and-paid for government offering us a heads-they-win and tails-we-lose election."     

5 Things To Know About State-Run Health Insurance Exchanges

Next month, the Supreme Court is expected to hand down its opinion regarding the individual mandate contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Their ruling on the constitutionality of requiring every American to purchase health insurance may affect how health reform moves forward. But, one thing the ruling will not significantly alter, in all likelihood, is the development of state-run health insurance exchanges. That's because regardless of the individual mandate, employers and individuals will still be looking for a vehicle that provides affordable health insurance that meets their needs - and exchanges may indeed be the answer.
PPACA mandates that all states and territories establish and launch their own health insurance exchange by Jan. 1, 2014, or default to a federal fallback program. These exchanges will create an online, one-stop shopping mall where consumers, employers, insurance brokers and others will view competing health plans side by side. By doing so, exchanges are designed to provide more value-based purchasing, more affordability and greater choice.
As the marketplace continues to evolve, we already know that different states are taking different approaches in complying with this mandate. Some states will build and manage their own exchange, others will opt for the federal fallback program, and still others may adopt the federal program in 2014 while they continue to develop their own exchange to introduce at a future date.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that more than eight million people will buy insurance through exchanges in 2014 alone. Some of these will be small businesses which, by purchasing coverage through a state-based exchange, become eligible under the Small Business Health Option Program for annual tax credits. With this change on the horizon, here are five things to know:
1. Employers participating in a public or private exchange achieve cost predictability, budget controls and ease of administration. They also remove themselves from the impossible task of trying to select one health plan that works for everyone. And for some employers who in the past were unable to provide health benefits because of rising premiums, they will now be able to provide this benefit in a way that makes financial sense.
2. All exchanges will offer multiple carries and multiple plans at various benefit levels and price points. Among these options will be platinum, gold, silver and bronze plan types that are designed to provide a wide range of benefits for individuals and families. That assortment will empower employees to choose a health plan, benefit structure and health care provider that best meet their needs and budget.
3. PPACA guarantees that health insurance plans offered in the individual and small group markets include a comprehensive package of services known as "essential health benefits" (EHB). These benefits must encompass preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic services in at least ten categories of care. While the authority was given to the Department of Health and Human Services to define the EHB package, late last year HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decided to defer this decision to the individual states, meaning that each state now has the authority to define which medical benefits insurance companies will have to offer starting in 2014. Regardless of the plan or benefit level an individual chooses, all plans within a state's exchange must offer the defined standard EHBs.
4. Exchanges will be sold directly through brokers and through a still-undefined network of navigators. As is the case today, it will continue to be advantageous for employers to purchase their health insurance coverage through a trusted, licensed and qualified broker. In fact, the broker's expertise and knowledge will be more important than ever in providing the information and unbiased recommendations employers and benefit managers need to make well-informed decisions as well as to provide service for everything from routine issues to serious policy interpretation issues.
5. Experience has shown that health insurance exchanges can work. Some public exchanges are already up and running while the country's most successful private exchange, CaliforniaChoice, has been successfully serving the market for 16 years, currently providing coverage for 10,000 employers and 150,000 individuals. It is no wonder then that the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions foresees an exchange market of as many as 46 million members by 2019 if PPACA is implemented without major changes.

Nancy Pelosi Hires Think Progress Editor as New Media Director

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has hired Faiz Shakir, editor-in-chief of the liberal-leaning Think Progress blog run by the Center for American Progress thinktank, as her new director of new media and senior adviser, the Huffington Post reported. He will be replacing Karina Newton, who plans to travel the world with her husband, according to the Huffington Post. Read more

The Wisconsin uprising updates

The Wisconsin uprising against Governor Scott Walker's assaults on union rights, public education and public services spawned a recall movement that has forced Walker and his allies to face new elections. And the first of these takes place today. So what should we be watching for? John Nichols reports.

The People's Bishop

 The People's Bishop
Chris Hedges, Truthdig: "'You can't sit anymore in churches listening to stodgy liturgies,' [said Bishop Packard]. 'They put you to sleep. Most of these churches are museums with floorshows. They are a caricature of what Jesus intended. Jesus would be turning over the money-changing tables in their vestibules. Those in the church may be good-hearted and even well-meaning, but they are ignoring the urgent, beckoning call to engage with the world.'" 
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Log Cabin Republicans act without spine or conviction regarding Ric Grenell's resignation from the Romney campaign

Washington Times: Nobody Wins with Grenell's Resignation - but it is a Chance for Romney to Stand Up

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper in his latest column for Communities @ Washington Times addresses the controversy over Ric Grenell's resignation from the Romney campaign and the need for employment nondiscrimination protections.
Politics is about winners and losers. With the resignation of my friend, Ric Grenell, from the Mitt Romney campaign, I grieve for a good man who was badly treated by the hyper-partisanship of today's political climate, but I am also convinced that nobody - not Republicans, LGBT Americans, or even social conservatives who called for Ric's head - scored a victory this week.

The Romney campaign has lost an experienced, talented and fierce advocate for a strong foreign policy and America's unique and vital role in the world. I worked with Ric as a part of the George W. Bush Administration, and I know him to be the most qualified person for the job. Ric earned the confidence of men like Ambassadors John D. Negroponte, John C. Danforth, John R. Bolton and Zalmay Khalilzad, and the GOP is losing out with him on the sidelines. We need him in the game this election cycle.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz made the following statement in honor of May as Jewish American Heritage Month:

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month in 2012
 Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) made the following statement in honor of May as Jewish American Heritage Month:

“I am delighted that this May we celebrate the seventh annual Jewish American Heritage Month, a time to honor the myriad contributions the Jewish community has made to the cultural fabric of the United States. The American Jewish experience is the story of the immigrant, the labor movement, and the battle for civil rights; Jews in America have blazed trails from the battlefield to the Supreme Court, from the sports field and symphony hall to the pages of our nation’s history books. The American Jewish story is the American story.

“This month we celebrate the stories of American Jews like Emma Lazarus, the poet who was an important supporter of Jewish immigrants and the large international Diaspora of Jews. Lazarus is best known for her sonnet “The New Colossus,” which is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

‘Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

“This well-known message and its prominence on our nation’s most famous statue demonstrate the enduring roots the American Jewish experience share with the larger American story. Not only do the lessons and values of Judaism, so prominent in Lazarus’s writing, complement the strivings of American history; the simple fact of these words’ presence on our nation’s symbol of liberty and justice shows that American Jews have helped shape our great national story.

“This May, I hope you will take a moment to visit to learn more about Jewish American Heritage Month and the history of the Jewish community in the United States. As we reflect on the contributions that the Jewish community has made throughout our nation’s history, we remain dedicated to forging a better world in the years to come.”
You can read the President's proclamation here.