Mitch McConnell fights for dirty water, political time-wasting

President Barack Obama meets with Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Oval Office, Aug. 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news or

Fun times.

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats defeated an attempt by Republicans to kill—of all things—a Clean Water Rule. Because, you know, overreach by the Obama administration in trying to make our water clean. 

The rule, which was finalized in June and which clarifies what water bodies get the protections of the landmark Clean Water Act, restored safeguards for streams and wetlands that lacked clear protection.
The Senate voted on a motion to take up a bill sponsored by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) that would have killed the rule. As the White House pointed out in threatening a presidential veto of the bill, it would also “require the agencies to define [protected waters] in a manner inconsistent with the [Act] as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in more confusion, uncertainty, and inconsistency,” and would “result in higher drinking water treatment costs, increased contamination of fish and

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Ben Carson is furious that CNN quoted Ben Carson

Repubican presidental candidate Ben Carson announces his candidacy in Detroit, Michigan May 4, 2015. Carson announced in television interviews on Sunday that he is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and is expected to hold a formal an

Did Ben Carson really have a violent childhood in which he hit a classmate in the head with a lock in his hand, among other incidents? CNN has gone looking for anyone who knew Carson when he was young and remembers the Republican presidential candidate having the violent temper he has repeatedly described in his books and speeches, but no one seems to remember Carson that way. This allegation that Ben Carson may not have been dangerous and violent in his youth has angered Ben Carson.
Carson is outraged that CNN would dare question his accounts of his own life (the details of which have shifted from telling to telling) and because—get this—the media didn’t apply this level of scrutiny to President Obama! Reminded that “it’s called vetting” and provided with specific instances of questions the media raised about Obama’s autobiography, Carson laughed “give me a break.”

What you

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Obama mocks Republicans: They say they can handle Putin, but not CNBC moderators?

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Laborfest 2014 at Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin September 1, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT) - RTR44KDY

It has to be fun for President Obama to watch the current mess of a Republican presidential field without the stress of having to campaign himself. And he’s making it fun for the rest of us, pointing out a few of the absurdities the Republicans spew on a regular basis. There’s their tough-guy pledges in contrast with their constant whining:

“Have you noticed that everyone of these candidates say, ‘Obama’s weak. Putin’s kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he’s going to straighten out,'” Obama said, impersonating a refrain among Republican candidates that he’s allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin too much leeway.
“Then it turns out they can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators at the debate. Let me tell you, if you can’t handle those guys, then I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you,” Obama said.

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President Obama comes through for formerly incarcerated people

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the shootings in Oregon from the White House in Washington October 1,  2015. Obama on Thursday angrily repeated that gun laws needed to be changed after the latest mass murder in Oregon and took aim

Just weeks after becoming the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, President Obama is ramping up his efforts to make criminal justice reform a key target in the last phase of his presidency. According to The Huffington Post:

President Barack Obama, who has made criminal justice reform a top priority of his last years in office, will announce actions on Monday to help formerly incarcerated people reintegrate into society.
The White House said the steps, to be unveiled by Obama at an appearance in Newark, New Jersey, would include up to $8 million in federal education grants over three years for former inmates as well as new guidance on the use of arrest records in determining eligibility for public and federally assisted housing.

Obama is also directing the Office of Personnel Management to take steps where possible to modify its rules in order to delay inquiries into

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Obama focuses once again on criminal justice system reform in weekly address


I believe we can disrupt the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. I believe we can address the disparities in the application of criminal justice, from arrest rates to sentencing to incarceration. And I believe we can help those who have served their time and earned a second chance get the support they need to become productive members of society.

Criminal justice reform is once again the topic of President Obama’s weekly address this morning, building on a series of meetings he’s had with stakeholders in the system, from police officers and corrections officers, to inmates and families fighting drug abuse.
And he was clear about what he’s learned: “We know that having millions of people in the criminal justice system, without any ability to find a job after release, is unsustainable. It’s bad for communities and it’s bad for our economy.”

And next week, he told listeners,

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Christie joins chorus of liars against Black Lives Matter

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland  February 26, 2015.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4RBJT

Over the weekend, New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie forcefully—and shamefully—declared that the Black Lives Matter movement encourages the killing of police officers, joining the likes of Fox News in smearing the activists and organizations involved.
Appearing on CBS’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Christie was responding to host John Dickerson, who asked whether or not he agreed with FBI Director James B. Comey’s suggestion that increased calls for police accountability have made police officers less aggressive in doing their job of curbing crime. Comey made the comments during a speech last Friday at the University of Chicago Law School.

Christie started out by saying there is no problem with police not doing their jobs in his state, because he tells them to perform without exception and that he backs them. He then pivoted to what he calls President Obama’s encouragement of “lawlessness” in the U.S.

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Congressional nihilists, and Paul Ryan, trash budget deal but are unlikely to kill it

U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) pauses as he speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTS5DA3

Paul Ryan wants you to know he doesn’t like this deal.

Congressional conservatives are not happy that outgoing House Speaker John Boehner negotiated away all their favorite hostages until 2017 in the newly announced budget deal. They’re trashing the deal in both the House and the Senate, though their opposition doesn’t seem large or organized enough to derail the package.
On the Senate side, it’s all Boehner’s fault.

Asked about the tentative agreement after the briefing, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions replied: “My knees quiver at the sound.”
In an interview, Sessions expressed frustration that outgoing Speaker John Boehner was hammering out the deal just days before he plans to give up the gavel for good. “What does Boehner got to do with it?” said an exasperated Sessions, the former top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. “I’m worried about how fast it’s moving. I see no reason for

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Obama administration calls for standardized testing caps, but activists are skeptical

Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Education has been one of the Obama administration’s worst policy areas, with President Obama and outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushing standardized testing endlessly, among other problem moves. So it’s really good to see them walking back the test-and-punish model at least a little, as they announced over the weekend with a call to cap standardized testing to no more than two percent of time spent in the classroom. But while what we’ve heard from the administration so far sounds good, it’s not enough.

“I still have no question that we need to check at least once a year to make sure our kids are on track or identify areas where they need support,” said Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, who has said he will leave office in December. “But I can’t tell you how many conversations I’m in with educators who are understandably stressed

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Budget, debt ceiling deal close, sources say

U.S. President Barack Obama (C) hosts a bipartisan meeting of Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, January 13, 2015. Pictured (L to R) are Speaker of the House John Boehner, Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc

Dealing?

There is panic over John Boehner’s looming departure from the House speakership, and according to one early report, it’s leading the White House to do really stupid shit.

While congressional aides cautioned that the deal was far from certain, and the White House and Treasury Department declined to comment, officials briefed on the negotiations said the emerging accord would call for cuts in spending on Medicare and Social Security disability benefits.

That’s the New York Times. CNN has a bit more detail and is less alarming.

The deal is expected to include $70 billion-$75 billion in increased spending for defense and domestic spending, sources said. That new spending would be offset by sales from the strategic petroleum oil reserve, use of public airwaves for telecommunications companies and changes to the crop insurance program—among other measures. Moreover, the deal would spread out increases in Medicare premiums over time so beneficiaries

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Obama tackles climate change in weekly address, challenges Congress to act


After all, as Pope Francis reminds us so eloquently, this planet is a gift from God – and our common home. We should leave it to our kids in better shape than we found it.

President Obama tackled climate change—both the progress being made to fight it and the challenges ahead—in his weekly address this morning, laying out the achievements of his administration: more acreage set aside as public lands, local alliances created to protect endangered wildlife, creation of numerous sanctuaries, and joining an international coalition to fight illegal overfishing.
He also pointed to America’s leadership in lowering emissions and working on clean energy solutions, claiming that this leadership will help guide the Paris talks in December when countries will work together to tackle climate change challenges. But there’s more to be done domestically, and he knows where to start:

Now Congress has to do its job. This month, even

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Cartoon: Hot spikes through the forehead


If you blinked, you may have missed the Drone Papers report that was just released. I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of the investigative report by the crew over at The Intercept and their anonymous source who leaked classified material. The nutshell version: those drones that do so much heavy lifting for United States foreign policy are not as neat and effective as you’d like to think. (Which we all pretty much knew already, now it’s just doubly, awfully confirmed.)

Imagine if the policy of “targeted killings” was carried out by some other means other than those marvelous high tech drone contraptions. (Remember, “drones” aren’t the policy, “assassination” is the policy.) What would we think of a policy that killed people who weren’t the intended targets about 90% of the time? We’re not talking about missiles going off course, we’re talking about intelligence failures and by

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Vice President Biden will not run for President

Barack Obama in Springfield, Illinois, right after Biden was formerly introduced by Obama as his running mate. August 23rd, 2008

After months of speculation about whether he’d run for president in 2016, Vice President Biden will be speaking early Wednesday afternoon from the Rose Garden at the White House. No word yet on whether he’ll be sharing his final decision on that. He will reportedly be accompanied by President Obama.
We’ll update as there’s more information.

9:19 AM PT: Biden says that he’s said all along that the grieving process after his son Beau’s death might close the window for running for president, and he’s concluded that that window has closed.

9:20 AM PT: “While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent […] Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record, they should run on the record.”

9:29 AM PT: Biden speaks out against inequality and for the middle class, calling for free public higher education: “We all

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Team Jeb claims Dubya ‘inherited’ 9/11 and recession

The Republicans' Magic Calendar.

Stung by Donald Trump’s self-evident truth that history did not begin on September 12, 2001 and end at noon on January 20, 2009, Jeb Bush asked, “Does anybody actually blame my brother for 9/11?” As it turns out, this is hardly the first time the former Florida governor complained about the unkindness the calendar has shown his brother. In August 2012, Jeb declared it was “unbecoming” for Barack Obama to continue to “blame others” for the economic calamity he inherited from George W., and went so far as to suggest the president should be “spanked” for pointing the finger at his brother. And in April 2009—just weeks after Obama entered the Oval Office in the midst of the greatest American economic calamity since the Great Depression—Jeb protested:

“If I had one humble criticism of President Obama, it would be to stop this notion of somehow framing

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If the party that loses can impose its will, why bother having elections?

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are pictured during the second U.S. presidential campaign debate in Hempstead, New York, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

One of these guys won, and the other lost. That’s democracy.

What’s the point of elections? Seriously, think about it for a minute. In the most practical terms, elections are how we, the people select the leaders who—within the boundaries set by the Constitution—will make the laws and determine the policies by which we live. For better or worse, our system is designed to make it very difficult for one party to make significant policy changes unless it wins both the White House and majorities of both houses of Congress. This includes a very large majority in the Senate thanks to the way the filibuster operates now, which is radically different from only a generation or two ago (opponents of Medicare, for example, never seriously considered one).
Behind all the craziness going on in the House that John Boehner so desperately wants to leave is a faction of his party

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The comical cult of Paul Ryan

Not since LeBron James announced “The Decision” to “take my talents to South Beach” have so many Americans waited with bated breath for one man to declare his intentions. Hoping for white smoke from the chimney of his Jaynesville, Wisconsin home, most Republicans and even some Democrats are hoping that Paul Ryan will decide to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives and thus save the GOP from itself.
While Mitt Romney’s 2012 running mate and current House Ways and Means Committee chairman remains huddled with family in his Badger State conclave, politicians and pundits sing Paul Ryan’s praises in almost hagiographic terms. Josh Marshall noted that “a defining principle of modern Republican ideology is that ‘Paul Ryan is awesome.'” Jonathan Chait argued that Ryan “is already the president of Republican America” because “no other figure within the party combines Ryan’s philosophical radicalism and tactical pragmatism.” While

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Obama discusses criminal justice reform efforts in weekly address

… much of our criminal justice system remains unfair. In recent years, more of our eyes have been opened to this truth. We can’t close them anymore. And good people, of all political persuasions, are eager to do something about it.

President Obama in this morning’s weekly address tackled the topic of criminal justice reform, pointing to some progress that’s been made in recent years, some current positive signs that change is in the offing, and his own plans for the future.
He discussed crack and cocaine sentencing reform he signed, as well as investments in at-risk youth programs in schools and his commutation of sentences. But, as usual in his weekly address, while he acknowledged progress, he also insisted more needs to be done. In that vein, he announced he’ll be traveling the country in coming weeks to meet with stakeholders in the criminal justice system—communities wrestling with drug abuse,

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Cartoon: Collateral damage condolences


Click to enlarge.

Remember Afghanistan? Although the “Afghanistan War” proper ended, we’re still bombing stuff over there, and finding new and innovative ways to be terrible. The most recent example is the prolonged airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz.

As far as international PR campaigns go, bombing our way to peace makes us look either dumb or malicious, but most likely both.

McConnell, Boehner can end GOP’s debt ceiling crisis with same clean bill they gave Bush

Current GOP leaders gave Bush

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that the federal government will run out of cash on November unless Congress raises the debt ceiling to increase Uncle Sam’s borrowing authority. Under pressure from hard liners in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is returning to his role as hostage-taker, threatening to block the debt limit hike unless President Obama agrees to cuts in Medicare and Social Security spending. But a default by the United States, as outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) first warned in 2011, “would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy.”
Which is why Boehner and McConnell should simply do for President Obama what they did for President Bush. In November 2004, they gave Bush a “clean,” $800 billion boost in the debt ceiling with no strings attached. With the current annual budget deficits at an eight-year

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McConnell, Boehner can end GOP’s debt ceiling crisis with same clean bill they gave Bush

Current GOP leaders gave Bush

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that the federal government will run out of cash on November unless Congress raises the debt ceiling to increase Uncle Sam’s borrowing authority. Under pressure from hard liners in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is returning to his role as hostage-taker, threatening to block the debt limit hike unless President Obama agrees to cuts in Medicare and Social Security spending. But a default by the United States, as outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) first warned in 2011, “would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy.”
Which is why Boehner and McConnell should simply do for President Obama what they did for President Bush. In November 2004, they gave Bush a “clean,” $800 billion boost in the debt ceiling with no strings attached. With the current annual budget deficits at an eight-year

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Reports: Obama to announce he’s keeping 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a eulogy in honor of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney during funeral services for Pinckney in Charleston, South Carolina June 26, 2015. Pinckney is one of nine victims of a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Epis

The U.S. won’t be leaving Afghanistan anytime soon. President Obama is expected to announce that he’ll be keeping 5,500 troops in the country until 2017:

The president’s decision came after an “extensive months-long review” that included regular discussions with Afghanistan’s leaders, his national security team and U.S. commanders in the field, a senior administration official said.
Obama will also slow the pace of the reduction of American forces and plans to maintain the current U.S. force of 9,800 through “most of 2016,” said the official, who spoke anonymously to preview the president’s announcement.

Obama is scheduled to speak at 11 ET.