Justin's Political Corner
North Korea Executes Kim Jong Un’s Uncle, Calls Him ‘Worse Than a Dog’
Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, has been executed in North Korea for leading a “dissolute and depraved life,” the Associated Press reports.
North Korea state media say Jang, who was previously the second-most powerful official in the country, …
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Mexico approves historic bill ending 75-year oil monopoly — RT Business
Mexico’s Congress has approved a bill to end a 75-year state oil monopoly by allowing foreign and domestic investors to enter the market.
The vote was passed 353-134, allowing private companies to explore and drill for oil and gas, which was not previously permitted. The bill still needs to be approved by 17 of Mexico’s 31 states, which is believed to be highly probable.
State-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, gained ownership of all natural resources when Mexico’s government took over operations from foreign oil companies in 1938. At the time, the move was viewed by many as a symbol of nationalism.
The bill carries key importance for the US, as Mexico is in the top five exporters of crude oil to America.
Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) and the conservative National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional) were behind the proposal.
Many fiercely opposed the bill, with some leftist members of Congress trying to stop negotiations by blocking access to the chamber of the House of Deputies with chairs and tables, AP reported. A member of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática), Antonio García Conejo, undressed during his speech to emphasize that the bill is a “plunder of the nation.”
“We must defend our oil,” Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, a three-time presidential candidate and son of the president who nationalized the oil industry, said in a television advertisement. The state oil company, he added, belongs“to all Mexicans, and we must not allow it to go private.”
How Outside Conservative Groups Pushed John Boehner Over The Edge
After several right-wing outside groups slammed the bipartisan budget deal negotiated by House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) — in some cases before the deal was even announced — Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) hit his breaking point. “When you criticize something and you have no idea what you’re criticizing, you’ve lost your credibility,” he told reporters Thursday, noting that it “comes to a point where some people step over a line.” But Boehner’s frustration has no doubt been building up over this three years as Speaker, as groups like Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, and the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) have stymied his attempts to pass even conservative-friendly legislation.
In 2011, Boehner and President Obama were on the verge of reaching a “grand bargain” on taxes, spending, and deficit reduction. The talks fell through, in part because freshmen Republicans and the conservative groups that backed them were unwilling to accept new revenue.
Here are some of the bipartisan and GOP measures the groups have worked to block over the past three years:
The 2011 Budget Control Act.
Facing a possible default on the national debt, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed on a bill to force automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, unless a “super committee” could find sufficient savings cut hundreds of billions of dollars from federal spending over the next ten years. Though Boehner had made in clear in 2010 that when Washington hit its debt limit, Congress would “have to deal with it as adults,” groups on the right opposed increasing the ceiling. Heritage Action denounced the agreement, arguing that “Speaker Boehner’s most recent proposal to raise the debt limit is regrettably insufficient for our times.” With FreedomWorks and SCF also opposed, 66 House Republicans voted against the bill.
The New Year’s Eve 2012 Fiscal Cliff deal.
As 2012 ended, Congress grappled with a standoff over the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and the beginning of drastic sequestration cuts. After Vice President Joe Biden (D) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reached a deal to extend some of the tax cuts, let others expire, and delay the cuts, the groups blasted the deal as “higher taxes.” FreedomWorks announced it would count a vote for the bill against legislators, while Heritage Action slammed it before it was even announced as a “K Street gravy train,” laden with giveaways to special interest groups. The deal passed with Boehner’s support, but the majority of Republicans voting against.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill in June by an overwhelming 68-32 super-majority. The bill had the strong opposition of SCF and Heritage Action, who attacked it as “amnesty.” While Boehner initially agreed that it was “time for Congress to act,” GOP opposition has delayed any House action until at least 2014.
Efforts to avert the October 2013 government shutdown over Obamacare.
The effort to force a government shutdown over defunding Obamacare was largely driven by freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the Senate Conservatives Fund. Even though Boehner warned that it was a bad strategy, SCF and the other groups pressured Republican members to oppose any bill to fund the government without killing the Affordable Care Act. As the government shutdown dragged on, Boehner was forced to pull bills from the floor as members of his caucus refused to go against the groups’ wishes. At one point, he reportedly recited the Serenity Prayer at a closed-door caucus meeting at which he announced his “Plan B” was being scrapped for lack of Republican support. Though FreedomWorks believed the standoff a “brilliant strategy,” Congress eventually reopened government without any repeal. A furious Heritage Action said the compromise “will do nothing to stop Obamacare’s massive new entitlements from taking root — radically changing the nature of American health care.”
The 2013 Farm Bill.
On October 1, Congress allowed the historically bipartisan Farm Bill to expire. Attempts to revive the law, which funds numerous programs vital to the nation’s food supply, have been ongoing. Citing “myriad flaws with both the House and Senate” farm bill proposals, Heritage Action suggested there were “a trillion reasons not to pass the Farm Bill.” FreedomWorks opposed even the more conservative House proposal as “80% food stamps and 100% fiscally irresponsible.” Boehner backed the House bill, but 62 Republicans joined with 172 Democrats to defeat it.
h/t: Josh Israel at Think Progress
Christian talker Steve Deace: "Rape and incest exceptions are like allowing unfettered Muslim abortion" | The Raw Story
Here’s one to stick it to the anti-choice zealots (aka the #PrayToEndAbortion crowd). #p2 #PrayToSaveAbortion
Proud to be pro-reproductive choice.
Erik Rush: "Obama Might Be On Drugs" | Right Wing Watch
WorldNetDaily’s Erik Rush, who last year called for journalists to be imprisoned for their “treasonous collusion” with President Obama, has recently been urging the media to “expose” Obama’s crimes, such as his plot to nuke America.
On his radio show today, Rush celebrated a letter prominent photojournalists sent to the White House last month protesting the “limits on access currently barring photographers who cover the White House,” which Rush says is proof that journalists are no longer afraid to “complain about our precious first black president.”
Rush said that such limits are due to Obama’s “pathological, compulsive, narcissistic need to control,” but also his drug use: “Part of it has to do with the president’s general instability at large, I think that there is — I’m not the only one to postulate that he’s spread pretty thin mentally and emotionally and that there may be pharmaceuticals involved in keeping him going. Of course he does have a history of drug use.”
From the 12.12.2013 edition of Full Contact with Erik Rush:
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
No More Shutdowns! House Passes Bipartisan Budget Deal, Senate To Vote Next Week On The Bill
The Republican-led House on Thursday passed a bipartisan budget deal aimed at mitigating painful spending cuts and avoiding more government shutdowns.
The vote was 332 to 94 with 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats voting for it.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass, and subsequently be signed into law by President Barack Obama. If the bill becomes law, it would mark a major turning point after three years of paralyzing partisan disputes which culminated in the 16-day government shutdown last October. It means Congress would return to the normal budget process, if only for two years, rather than funding the government in incremental steps.
The modest deal, brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), boosts discretionary spending from $967 billion to $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.014 trillion in 2015. It relieves $63 billion in across-the-board sequester cuts to defense and domestic programs, and is projected to lower the deficit over 10 years relative to current law.
The legislation offsets the spending increase with a mix of targeted cuts and non-tax revenue, such as higher airline ticket fees and higher federal worker contributions to retiree benefits. In order to satisfy each party’s core demands, the agreement does not raise any tax revenues or cut benefits from safety-net programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Surprisingly for some, House conservatives didn’t mount much of a rebellion. Ryan paved the way for the deal by pointing out that a continuing resolution at sequester levels lacked the votes to pass the House. GOP military hawks and appropriators, he told skeptical members, would have joined Democrats and voted against it. The budget deal was sold to the GOP conference as the most conservative plausible outcome in divided government.
The deal is Ryan’s first major bipartisan breakthrough that stands a chance of becoming law. While modest, the higher spending levels have drawn rebukes from hard line conservatives who often praise Ryan as a conservative hero. The House budget chief has struck a conciliatory tone while selling the plan, describing it as imperfect but an important step in the right direction. It’s a marked change in tone from his no-compromise posturing in President Barack Obama’s first term, when he sought to subvert large tax-and-spending deals and preserve hopes for enacting his budget that slashes taxes and privatizes Medicare.
"That’s the nature of compromise. In a divided government you don’t get everything you want. But I think this bill is a firm step in the right direction. It’s not perfect, it’s a start," Ryan said on the House floor. "It gives us the added benefit of preventing Washington from this lurch from crisis to crisis. We’re bringing stability to the budget process."
Democrats weren’t thrilled with the agreement but reluctantly accepted it as an improvement on the status quo. They’re angry that it doesn’t extend emergency unemployment benefits, which are set to expire on Dec. 28; they believe it serves special interests by failing to unwind any tax loopholes for corporations; they dislike the effective pension cuts for federal workers.
If and when the budget legislation becomes law, Congress has until Jan. 15 to flesh out spending bills and avert a government shutdown.
h/t: Talking Points Memo
GOP Blocks Judiciary Committee From Even Meeting
Senate Republicans have escalated their sabotage of the judicial nominations process this week, most recently by forcing the Senate to wait until 1:00 am this morning to hold a confirmation vote on Nina Pillard to the D.C. Circuit. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he will keep the Senate in session for the rest of the week in order to hold what should be routine confirmation votes, which are being needlessly delayed by these GOP antics.
The obstruction isn’t just on the Senate floor: This morning, Republicans prevented the Senate Judiciary Committee from even meeting.
Under a rarely enforced Senate rule, committees can’t meet more than two hours after the Senate goes into session. Routinely, senators give unanimous consent to waive the rule so the committee can carry out the chamber’s – and the country’s – business. But today, Republicans refused unanimous consent to let the Judiciary Committee meet.
The committee has a busy schedule, with votes scheduled for 15 judicial nominees who have testified before the members and answered follow-up written questions. Among those are nominees for vacancies designated as judicial emergencies by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. Each one of the nominees has been fully vetted and has the support of their home state senators, including Republicans Mark Kirk (IL), Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran (KS), Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (TN), Roy Blunt (MO), and Pat Toomey (PA).
But Senate Republicans just don’t care.
To make things worse, even had the committee meeting been held, Republicans were expected to abuse another rule: As they have done with only five exceptions since Obama became president, they almost certainly would have demanded that the committee delay votes on these nominees for at least a week without giving a reason, a right under committee rules that they have abused and made a standard part of their mechanism of obstruction. But since the committee didn’t meet, they haven’t even crossed that hurdle yet.
If the committee is not able to meet until next week – the last week the Senate is expected to be in session – and Republicans force the nominees to be held over, then they’ll be stuck in committee at year’s end. Since that will be the end of a session of Congress, absent unanimous consent to do otherwise, Senate rules require the nominees to be sent back to the president for renomination in the next session. That would force all of these nominees to repeat the committee voting process all over again, where once again the GOP could find new ways to slow them down.
How Did a Conservative Colorado Preacher Get YouTube to Shut Down His Liberal Critics?
Don’t like someone’s videos on YouTube? A conservative former Navy chaplain and Colorado state assembly candidate has a novel solution: Spam the site with takedown notices to trigger automatic removals to shut down your enemy’s channel entirely.
Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt has been waging war for weeks on the liberal group People for the American Way, whose Right Wing Watch project works to highlight incendiary comments made by conservative firebrands such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. The group has made a habit of taking short clips from Klingenschmitt’s own “Pray in Jesus’ Name" show (also conveniently hosted on YouTube) and uploading them unedited onto their own YouTube channel, albeit with altered titles such as “Klingenschmitt Declares That ENDA Promotes Bestiality" or "Klingenschmitt Says Wendy Davis Is Ruled By A ‘Demon of Murder’.”
Klingenschmitt was not amused. To counter RWW’s practice, he began submitting takedown notices toYouTube under the justification that the group was “stealing and pirating” his show, which he believes is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
His efforts so far are paying off. RWW’s videos are getting taken down temporarily, and twice their entire channel has been shut down—both times for at least 10 days.
"They don’t add any value to the content," Klingenschmitt told National Journal. “They simply steal and copy and post with their own logo. They are not a legitimate news organization.”
The preacher is adamant that Right Wing Watch’s actions constitute “a clear violation of copyright,” but his claim rests on shaky legal ground. There’s little question that RWW’s videos are protected under the fair-use doctrine, said David Sunshine, an intellectual property lawyer with the law firm Cozen O’Connor.
So if Right Wing Watch videos are protected, why is YouTube taking them down? In an effort to comply with federal law, the site errs strongly on the side of caution when a video is flagged for copyright infringement, and its process for restoring a video is slow even if the claim is baseless.
Under the “safe harbor” provision of the DMCA, Internet service providers or content platforms like YouTube are promised protection from liability for any user-posted content that violates copyright. But to dock in the safe harbor, the party hosting content must not have knowledge of the infringement and must possess a standard procedure for removing content that users mark for infringement.
YouTube's procedure until last year granted users little recourse when someone hit them with a copyright-infringement claim. But the site updated its policy to allow users to submit a counter-notice challenging the claim, which triggers a statutorily mandated 10-day holding period during which YouTube waits to see if the party crying foul pursues legal action. During that time, the video in question remains offline.
Additionally, YouTube also has what some call a “three strikes” rule, which shuts down an entire account if three infringement claims are submitted. Klingenschmitt has exploited this rule to get RWW’s channel killed two times.
H/T: Dustin Volz at the National Journal
'War On Christmas' Fighter Claims Non-Christians Shouldn't Take Any Days Off Of Work | Right Wing Watch
Bodie Hodge of Answers In Genesis, the group that runs the Creation Museum, recently authored a book about the “War on Christmas” and launched the “War On Christmas Insider Team” to help people defend the supposedly imperiled holiday.
Today, Hodge stopped by the American Family Association’s show Today’s Issues and chatted with AFA head Tim Wildmon and research director Ed Vitagliano about the mindset of supposed anti-Christmas agitators…which led him to argue that non-Christians shouldn’t even take any days off of work.
“If you thought about it, a secular, atheistic worldview, you know they don’t want Christmas,” Hodge said. “Well, why don’t they go up and say, ‘I want to work on Christmas and I don’t want time-and-a-half and I don’t want any of those holidays because that implies there is some God out there that’s holy that makes a day special. Consider a weekend. A weekend is a Christian thing, God created in the six days, he rested on the seventh, the Lord resurrected on the first day, that’s a Christian thing. These guys should say, ‘No, we should work all the time’ and work like the bees till you die.”
“They should have no days off, the whole concept of work and rest is a Christian thing,” he added. “Within their own worldview they have no basis for it, they have to borrow that from a Christian worldview, so they borrow it and they try to corrupt it.”
From the 12.12.2013 edition of AFR’s Today’s Issues:
h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW
A Media Guide To The Right-Wing Agenda Of North Carolina's Civitas Institute
Newly released documents have exposed the agenda of the conservative North Carolina-based J.W. Pope Civitas Institute showing that the organization is seeking funds to engage in a campaign to decimate Medicaid funding in the state. North Carolina media should take care to disclose these revelations to ensure readers know what’s really behind the Civitas Institute’s forthcoming Medicaid attacks.
On December 5, The Guardian released documents noting that conservative groups across the United States “are planning a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers’ compensation and the environment.” The Guardian explained that the “proposals were co-ordinated by the State Policy Network, an alliance of groups that act as incubators of conservative strategy at state level.” Indeed, according to a report by the Center for Media and Democracy, the State Policy Network (SPN) and its member organizations “work together in coordinated efforts to push their agenda, often using the same cookie-cutter research and reports, all while claiming to be independent and creating state-focused solutions that purportedly advance the interests or traditions of the state.” he report added:
Although many of SPN’s member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, our in-depth investigation reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, ALEC-backed agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders, all while reporting little or no lobbying activities.
Among the groups cited in the Guardian papers was the Civitas Institute. The organization requested funding for a campaign to try to sway politicians into reducing the amount of money North Carolina gives to the state’s Medicaid program, which it characterized as “failed,” and if successful, export their messaging to other SPN affiliates around the country:
As Media Matters has previously noted, Civitas is affiliated with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which gets funding from Donors Trust — once dubbed the “dark money ATM of the conservative movement.” The Trust counts the Koch brothers and other major conservative donors as its benefactors. The Civitas Institute itself, receives a significant portion of its funding from North Carolina conservative luminary Art Pope, who is also a budget advisor to North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory.
FCC considers a proposal to allow in-flight cell phone calls.
Just in: FCC votes to consider proposal to end ban on cellphone calls in-flight
Megyn Kelly Assures Everyone That Santa Is White Even Though Santa Does Not Exist
On Megyn Kelly’s show last night, the Fox News host discussed a piece called “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore” head-on, for the kids.
On Megyn Kelly’s show last night, the Fox News host discussed a piece by Slate’s Aisha Harris about how the typical representation of Santa Claus as a white man had been confusing in her youth. Kelly addressed the piece, “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore,” head-on, for the kids.
When I saw this headline I kinda laughed and I said, “Oh, this is ridiculous. Yet another person claiming it’s racist to have a white Santa.” And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is maybe just arguing that we should also have a black Santa. But, you know, Santa is what he is, and just so you know, we’re just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.
"Santa is what he is." This is true! Santa is, as the story goes, a man who lives in an uninhabitable Arctic hellscape where elves make toys year-round so that he can deliver them to every house on Earth over the course of a single night by flying around in a regular-sized sleigh pulled by eight flying reindeer. Also a fun thing about Santa: he does not exist, except in the hearts and minds of those who truly believe.
Still, it is pretty considerate that Megyn Kelly, at 9:45 p.m. on the East Coast, would refrain from shattering the myth of Santa Claus for her millions of viewers, children and children-at-heart. (By the way, if you sit in the middle of the venn diagram comparing “Megyn Kelly viewers” and “believers in Santa Claus,” please drop us a line.)
After Jedediah Bila defended Harris’s piece about the confusion behind arbitrarily assigning race to a fictitious person who breaks into houses in the dead of night, Kelly continued:
Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change. You know, I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure; that’s a verifiable fact—as is Santa, I want you kids watching to know that—but my point is: how do you revise it, in the middle of the legacy of the story, and change Santa from white to black?
Jesus is a real historical figure, but whether he was white is actually a pretty large matter of debate. Some researchers suggest that “the historical Jesus would be a Middle Eastern Jew of medium, if not dark, complexion.” So that assertion about Jesus’s whiteness is not entirely sound.
In the segment, Monica Crowley brings up that Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas, who was a white man. That’s a fair point about authenticity, but it’s also being a bit selective. In addition to being white, was Saint Nicholas also a monster of commerce who kept an NSA-like list of all the nice or naughty actions committed by the world’s children? Doubtful.
So this holiday season, create Santa in your own image. The jolly fool could be fat, skinny, white, black, male, female, a killer robot, or even Tim Allen. It’s kind of like waging your own personal war on Christmas.
Gun Owners of America (aka "NRA on Steroids"): Denials Of Conspiracy Theory Prove Conspiracy Theory Is True | Right Wing Watch
Gun Owners of America – which prides itself in being to the right of the NRA — has been pushing the creative conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is using the Environmental Protection Agency to institute backdoor gun control. GOA’s story goes that a Missouri lead smelter that shut down rather than comply with clean air regulations was in fact forced shut by the Obama administration in order to suppress the supply of lead used for manufacturing bullets.
The first problem with this story is that, as Steve Benen pointed out, the EPA started going after the plant in question during the Bush administration.
The story gained so much traction, though, that the NRA felt compelled to issue a statement earlier this month reassuring its members that “this particular facility’s closure should not have the dramatic impact that some have predicted.”
The word of the great conspiracy also reached a major bullet manufacturer, which itself issued a statement saying that its “supply should not be in jeopardy” and that the Missouri factory’s closure presented “no reason for alarm,” as the conservative outlet NewsMax reported.
But according to Gun Owners of America, these denials just serve to confirm the group’s suspicions. GOA spokesman Mike Hammond told NewsMax yesterday that the NRA and the manufacturer’s dismissals of the EPA-gun control conspiracy theory “only drive home his point.”
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
YouTube bans homophobic teen Christian Rush Limbaugh mimic Caiden Cowger for life (To read the story, visit Joe. My. God.; For a related post, click here http://christiannightmares.tumblr.com/post/24566035425/teenage-christian-radio-host-caiden-cowger-says)