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Quiet, uneventful day ahead for planet

In exclusive agreement, book by controversial Democratic campaign operative questioning ethical practices of Republican presidential candidate scores weeks of extra publicity in the name of "fact checking" by The New York Times, The Washington Post and ABC News

Bernie Sanders stops making sense

Conservatives maintain grip on power in Alberta

Headline error in The Gurdian  2008
Senator Tom Cotton wakes up with world peace on his mind

Republican budget most likely to benefit poor, middle class

Bill O'Reilly reports from war zone

Humans credited with comeback of large herbivore mammals

Hedge fund managers jumping out of windows over "paltry" $11bn earnings

Aaron Schock posts selfie on Instagram from exotic location

Astronaut says view from International Space Station is overrated

Sunday morning shows now favoring liberal guests over conservatives

Holy #$&!@!! Obama invading Texas after all!!!

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

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Can Jeb survive a 7th place showing out of Iowa? New Q caucus poll shows: Walker 21, Rubio 13, Rand 13, Cruz 12, Huck 11... Jeb 5.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is coming under increasing criticism for ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor federal military exercises.

The exercises drew concerns that the government could implement martial law or confiscate citizens' guns.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, the Pentagon, and the White House have suggested the concerns and Mr Abbott's request were unfounded.

The exercises, called Jade Helm 15, are set to begin in July.

"In no way will the constitutional rights or civil liberties of any American citizen be infringed upon while this exercise is being conducted," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. "I have no idea what [Abbott] is thinking."

Well, Abbott's either pandering to the nutters or he's one himself.

Mark Liebovich:

Today’s candidates operate in an environment in which the power dynamic between the media and politicians has shifted in their favor. It has become so much easier to simply call “gotcha” on an unwelcome inquiry and be done with it. Campaigns no longer rely as heavily on the news media to communicate. They can now fashion their own websites and tweets and benefit from their own auxiliary noise machines (super PACs). In so much as the media have become more partisan, candidates can pick and choose their outlets, expect some to be friendly while dismissing others as hostile. Or they can dismiss all of them. (An April 29 headline in Politico: “Harry Reid: Journalism doesn’t exist.”)
@jonward11 @MarkLeibovich @DemFromCT to 've fair, media brought it on itself in a lot of ways
@PCalith @jonward11 @DemFromCT totally...
More politics and policy below the fold.
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Trans-Pacific Partnership
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich writes Trans-Pacific Trickle-Down Economics:
Now comes the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It’s being sold as a way to boost the U.S. economy, expand exports, and contain China’s widening economic influence.

In fact, it’s just more trickle-down economics.

The biggest beneficiaries would be giant American-based global corporations, along with their executives and major shareholders.

Those giant corporations initiated the deal in the first place, their lobbyists helped craft it behind closed doors, and they’re the ones who have been pushing hard for it in Congress – dangling campaign contributions in front of congressional supporters and threatening to cut off funding to opponents.

These corporations made sure the deal contains provisions expanding and protecting their intellectual property around the world, but not protecting American jobs.

Supporters of the deal say it contains worker protections. I heard the same thing when, as secretary of labor, I was supposed to implement the worker protections in the North American Free Trade Act.

I discovered such provisions are unenforceable because of how difficult it is to discover if other nations are abiding by them. On the rare occasion when we found evidence of a breach we had no way to force the other nation to remedy it anyway.  [...]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005Pentagon Analyst Charged With Passing Secrets To AIPAC:

The shoe dropped on Larry Franklin. In a much anticipated culmination of an investigation that could have wider reaching implications, the Department of Justice arrested Franklin, a man closely associated with Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowoitz:

Federal agents arrested a Pentagon analyst on Wednesday, accusing him of illegally disclosing highly classified information about possible attacks on American forces in Iraq to two employees of a pro-Israel lobbying group.

The analyst, Lawrence A. Franklin, turned himself in to the authorities on Wednesday morning in a case that has stirred unusually anxious debate in influential political circles in the capital even though it has focused on a midlevel Pentagon employee.

The inquiry has cast a cloud over the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which employed the two men who are said to have received the classified information from Mr. Franklin. The group, also known as Aipac, has close ties to senior policymakers in the Bush administration, among them Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is expected to appear later this month at the group's annual meeting.

The investigation has proven awkward as well for a group of conservative Republicans, who held high-level civilian jobs at the Pentagon during President Bush's first term and the buildup toward the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and who were also close to Aipac. They were led by Paul D. Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary who has been named president of the World Bank. Mr. Franklin once worked in the office of one of Mr. Wolfowitz's allies, Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary for policy at the Pentagon, who has also said he is leaving the administration later this year.

Tweet of the Day
Well, Senator Graham said one of "al" dumbest things ive heard this week

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Bill in Portland Maine tweets the word "wienerschnitzel" and that takes up an hour of the show. Greg Dworkin discusses Fiorina's substantive entry into the race, but also her webFAIL. We've never been more united about how divided we are. WSJ's 2016 snapshot. Christie in Sixth Sense sequel (doesn't know he's dead yet). Charlie Hebdo vs. Garland, no comparison. Three guns in Capitol bathrooms, and the investigation is about who leaked the news! Follow-up on the convoluted Kinloch, Missouri, story. Wienerschnitzelpalooza! An inside look at benefit corps., from citisven, shared with us not by Arliss Bunny as I mistakenly stated, but by where4art!

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Tue May 05, 2015 at 07:30 PM PDT

Mad Men 7.12 - 'Lost Horizon'

by Adam B

Caution: McCann Erickson May Be Hazardous To Your Hard-Fought Advances Against The Patriarchy.
Mad Men begins with an image of a man falling from a skyscraper; this week, it's the ladies' turn. Whatever advances they had made in the past decade at SC&P are gone, as the McCann Boyz Klub presented itself as a crudely implacable foe: "guys you usually encounter only on workplace training videos about sexual harassment."

Meanwhile, the men adopt old habits: Roger drinks, Harry's a dick, Pete and Ted accept their fates, Don flees, and Bert shows up in his dreams. But by and large, this week was about how women who had earned so much respect lost it quickly.  

Below the fold, I'll let some smarter people than me explain it all.

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio
A federal appeals court panel Monday was not impressed with a legal challenge to President Obama's 2014 immigration actions brought by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio last November. Lindsay Dunsmuir has the details:
Two of the three judges weighing the case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit signaled some agreement with a D.C. federal judge who ruled in late December that Arpaio lacked standing to sue, a provision in U.S. law that means he has to prove he has been directly harmed.

Arpaio contends that his office has been harmed because, among other reasons, there are criminals who would not be deported in the country as a result.

"I wasn't entirely clear ... there is no suspension of deportation with respect to those people," Judge Nina Pillard, an Obama appointee, said to Arpaio's lawyer Larry Klayman.
They are more likely to be deported, she added.

The movement of the case, Joseph Arpaio v. Barack Obama, et al, now at the D.C. Court of Appeals, stands in stark contrast to how another case, Texas v. United States, is proceeding in the 5th Circuit, where the pace has been far more leisurely.

After Arpaio's November filing, a federal judge in the District of Columbia threw out the challenge the following month. Arpaio then filed an appeal, which was heard by the appeals panel Monday.

The Texas challenge was filed in December. Two months later, Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that the 26 states did have "standing" to bring the lawsuit and issued a preliminary injunction to stop Obama's immigration programs from moving forward just two days before they were due to go into effect.

Though Hanen issued that decision in time to block the immigration actions, he has displayed little sense of urgency since. Hanen first ignored and then rejected the administration's request to lift his injunction, forcing government lawyers to seek an injunction from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. All this and Judge Hanen still hasn't heard oral arguments in the case.

The good news here is that a 5th Circuit Appeals Court panel recently ruled unanimously that the state of Mississippi did not have standing to challenge Obama's 2012 executive actions on immigration.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (L) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speak at a news conference about the U.S. debt ceiling crisis at the U.S. Capitol in Washington July 30, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  
Republicans took a licking last time they tried to defund President Obama's immigration actions through the Department of Homeland Security and the GOP leadership appears to have no interest in treading that path again, reports Seung Min Kim.
Better to let the issue play out in the courts, the GOP reasoning goes, especially since a judge has already halted the president’s November executive actions — at least for now.

“The avenue that we took last time was a losing battle, and we knew it was a losing battle going into it,” said Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), the man writing this year’s DHS funding bill. “There might be other things we can figure out. We’re putting our heads together on that — but it won’t be what we did last time because what we did last time won’t win.”

They knew it was a losing battle going in, eh? Genius. Anyway, at least leadership isn't up for a repeat in the House, even as their firebrands continue to clamor for a fight. On the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is experiencing some of his own "hindsight, 20/20" syndrome.
During a recent interview with POLITICO, McConnell suggested that in retrospect, he would have ended the DHS fight more quickly after seeing it would be a losing battle. He also stressed that Republicans would ultimately have to stake out some middle ground on government funding.

“What will happen is the bills will start out the way we like them. In order to move them, we’ll probably have to make compromises,” McConnell said, referring to the dozen of appropriations bills funding the federal government. “That’s the way the legislative process works when it’s functioning.”

Good God, Mitch. Could you give us a little warning next time you're about to start throwing around a word like "compromise"?

But really, could it be that Republicans are finally wrapping their minds around the fact that threatening to shut down the government and destroy the U.S. credit rating every few months isn't accomplishing anything? It sounds preposterous, for sure. But maybe, just maybe, the reality of actually governing rather merely obstructing is settling in. Or maybe this is just a fluke.

Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush
Is this Mitt Romney's big legacy? Republican presidential candidates are straining to show that they really, really care about people who aren't rich. And it is a strain, since they certainly can't offer up any policies they support that would help the non-rich. There are those who use their own biographies to argue that they care:
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida praises his parents, a bartender and a Kmart stock clerk, as he urges audiences not to forget “the workers in our hotel kitchens, the landscaping crews in our neighborhoods, the late-night janitorial staff that clean our offices.”
Don't forget them, but don't do anything nuts like raise the minimum wage so many of them are paid, or support paid leave or affordable health care.

There are also those Republican candidates who can't run on biography, so they just make broad claims and hope no one asks for details:

On a visit last week to Puerto Rico, Mr. Bush sounded every bit the populist, railing against “elites” who have stifled economic growth and innovation. In the kind of economy he envisions leading, he said: “We wouldn’t have the middle being squeezed. People in poverty would have a chance to rise up. And the social strains that exist — because the haves and have-nots is the big debate in our country today — would subside.”
So ... free college? Strengthening regulations on Wall Street? Taxing the rich and using the revenue to invest in infrastructure, creating lots of good construction jobs? Yeah, I didn't think so.

There's a cliche in writing that may need to become a cliche in politics: Show, don't tell. Don't tell me you care about non-rich people, show me. In policy, not by showing up at a soup kitchen and washing dishes that aren't dirty.

Republican U.S. Presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson talks to students at the Dr. Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine in Detroit, Michigan May 4, 2015. Carson announced in television interviews on Sunday that he is ru
And here's your trophy for showing up.
This Mark Halperin political "analysis" of Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's coming out announcement depresses me very, very much.
'Ben Carson: Style B+, Substance C-, Overall B'
The only way that works out to a "B" is, of course, if you're counting Style considerably more than Substance. Fear not, though, because the charitable "B" grade here takes into account other, equally important factors.
Note: The overall grade is not an average of the style and substance grades, but takes into account other aspects of the announcement as well, such as staging and crowd reaction. In addition, a candidate’s overall grade reflects the degree to which the candidate’s standing in the race is improved by the event and performance.
In other words, we're just engaging in all of this as the White House Correspondents Dinner version of beer pong. Or as the "talent" competition in a Donald Trump-sponsored beauty pageant. Or—sigh, never mind. Then there's the legitimate question of whether Ben Carson has enough presidential substance to manage a passing grade in any universe.
Spoke in the vaguest of generalities when describing America’s current problems, and offered even fewer specifics about how to deal with [take your pick.]
This is charity speak for Had Nothing To Say. I would hope anyone standing on any stage asking for any political job would be able to wrap themselves in a flag and rattle off a few platitudes about how wondrous America was. Offering no substance, however, means no substance. If we're giving Carson a passing grade for being able to tie his patriotic shoelaces together without stumbling into the audience, we have set the "political substance" bar rather low these days.

I suppose what makes this all so wearying, a full year and then some before the party conventions roll around, is that by these metrics any reasonably skilled junior high school essay contest winner ought to be able to pull off a B-level presidential campaign announcement. Empty platitudes about solving Various Problems via Resolve because Freedom? Check. Neat attire? Not a problem. Crowd reaction? Fill the room with family members and supporters and you could get a standing ovation for making a cheese sandwich.

So it just makes me sad. I don't know why. No—I do know why. Because judging the style and staging and crowd reaction on things is exactly what most of our political press infrastructure considers to be the critical elements of campaign coverage. Does the candidate have the slightest idea how to address national issues? Would you trust the candidate to command the most powerful military on the planet in a non-bumbling fashion? Is the candidate a flagrant liar, or an obvious charlatan whose stated beliefs and policies shift according to audience or who refuses to state policy positions at all? Doesn't matter. The staging was nice.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) (L), along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R), speaks at a news conference after the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 3, 2015. The White House has said Pre
These two guys are moving toward a vote on Thursday of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.
Jordain Carney reports that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 is likely to pass this week:
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that he expects an “overwhelming vote” on Thursday in favor of legislation that would allow Congress to review a nuclear deal with Iran.

Corker also said he believes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will file cloture on the bill and end debate, which could prevent the Senate from voting on a controversial amendment that would require Iran to recognize Israel as part of the deal.

“My sense is that cloture is going to be filed,” Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters. “My sense is that Thursday there's a very strong chance that we'll get an overwhelming vote.”

Corker's goal is to get a bill passed with strong bipartisan support. But "poison pill" amendments introduced by ultra-rightist senators could make it a useless exercise by stripping away Democratic support and leaving it open to a presidential veto that couldn't be overridden.

It's not known whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will choose to allow a vote on the amendment to mandate that any deal with Iran over its nuclear program must include Tehran's recognition of Israel. Thanks to the Democratic objections created by a parliamentary maneuver engineered last week by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to get that amendment voted on, many other proposed amendments are now destined for the dustbin as McConnell and Corker seek to hang onto support for the over bill. Of the 66 co-sponsors, 20 are Democrats. But passing the Israel recognition amendment and a few others would undoubtedly spur many of them to withdraw their backing.

Corker is working with the ranking committee Democrat Ben Cardin to come up with a manager's package of softer amendments. That approach is what led to the current form of the bill passing the Foreign Relations Committee by a unanimous vote, and to President Obama's reluctant decision to sign it.

Ali Gharib, an Iranian-American journalist who writes regularly on Iranian affairs, has posted an interesting background piece discussing how the fight over the review act has pitted some neoconservatives against other neoconservatives and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The wrangle, Gharib says, has isolated William Kristol and his protégé, Tom Cotton, on the matter of the amendments. While AIPAC and some neoconservatives would, of course, prefer a tougher bill, they've chosen a more pragmatic course, apparently believing the current diluted bill is better than none at all. Kristol and his pals would just as soon kill it.

Photo of man who supports obamacare at the supreme court in washington dc on 6/28/12.
The healthcare wonks putting the Affordable Care Act together back in 2009-10 had a lot of ideas about a lot of small, varied projects that could reduce healthcare spending. They tried one of them—accountable care organizations for Medicare, and based on the results so far, it's working really well. They saved $384 million in just two years.

The Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) concept is to test how to change the regular fee-for-service system we've always used in this country—you pay a certain amount to the provider for certain procedures—to a system that doesn't reward doctors or hospitals for the number of procedures they conduct, but for the results they achieve. If the participating hospitals provided care for Medicare patients at lower-than-expected costs, they get to keep 70 percent of the savings, and the remaining 30 percent goes back to the government. If the hospitals spend more than expected, they have to pay back the difference. It really appears to have worked, with $384 million saved. What's remarkable in that number is that just an initial 32 hospitals (13 dropped out after the first year) achieved those savings, about $300 per patient on average.

This wasn't because doctors skimped on care: quality metrics show that patients in and outside the Pioneer ACO program generally reported similar satisfaction rates. And in some ways, the Pioneers did better: patients in those programs reported more timely access to their doctors, perhaps because hospitals wanted to put more effort into preventing costly complications down the line.

The Pioneer ACO program was always meant as an experiment. Once it started, new hospitals couldn't join even as some participants dropped out. The Obama administration did launch other ACO programs in the meantime but they were generally less aggressive, with smaller rewards for the doctors who did the best (and, in tandem, smaller penalties for those who screwed up). And those programs really haven't saved much money at all, not nearly as much as the Pioneers.

With these new, positive results in hand, the Obama administration now says it wants to expand the Pioneer approach to other hospitals. And, of course they do: if they can deliver better care at a lower cost, that's pretty much delivering on the Holy Grail of health care right now.

How scalable this project is remains a big question. The hospitals that joined the program were larger and more advanced than the average, and thus had kind of a leg up in incorporating this new system. Spreading it to more traditional hospitals will likely be much more challenging, and the results probably aren't going to be as dramatic. There's also the possibility that savings at these rates aren't sustainable. The Pioneer ACOs have already claimed the low-hanging fruit for savings, like switching to generic drugs. But they're still spending less than they had been, and still saving Medicare money. It's a project definitely worth expanding.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
You know the standards for a political party have fallen considerably when indictments against some of a governor's top staffers and appointees for crooked doings is considered having a good day.
Gov. Chris Christie escaped a damaging blow to his 2016 presidential prospects on Friday when news of federal charges in the George Washington Bridge lane closure controversy were announced, conservative columnist George Will declared on Fox News Sunday this morning.

"It could have been a bad day for Mr. Christie," Will said. "It wasn't."

This is George Will we're talking about, of course, and George Will has been not right in the head for quite some time now. His formulation, however, is not unique. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has long been touted as resilient because even though the people sharing his office keep going to jail, he himself has escaped the handcuffs so far.

You or I might think that leading an office in which your chief confidants have ended up under indictment for stealing cash or causing dangers to public safety out of political spite would reflect rather badly on your character, but that is because you have not spent your career giving public tongue baths to liars and crooks. After a while, didn't get indicted begins to look like trophy-worthy material.

Last known photo of Tamir Rice before he was killed by Cleveland PD. Taken just a few weeks before his murder.
Tamir in a photo taken in the month before he was shot and killed by Cleveland police
Shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann of the Cleveland Police Department all the way back on November 22, 2014, 12-year-old sixth-grader Tamir Rice has still not been buried. This alone is a new crime all by itself. Even though the entire shooting was filmed and took less than two seconds, the so-called investigation into the shooting has carried on for a ridiculous six months.

According to family attorney Walter Madison, Tamir's family is waiting for the investigation to end so they will not be subjected to burying him and having to exhume his body from the ground for yet another medical examination. Via text, Madison pointed out: "The city of Cleveland knows that too. The delay incurs a daily $75 fee. To date, the outstanding expenses are $18k which at some point Samaria Rice would have to be obligated to pay. They talk nice and are apologetic but they are waging war of a different brand."

Beyond the fact that the shooting death of Tamir was traumatic, the artificial delay of this investigation is outrageous. They are acting as if key pieces of evidence or central witnesses are missing. They aren't. This investigation is not being delayed for any substantive reasons, but in an artificial attempt to cause public attention to die down.

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