(Photo: Eric Gay, AP)

Republicans need to get over stubborn opposition to helping poor

“This week marks 50 years since the passage of Medicare. If addressing inequality is a real priority for Republicans officials — particularly those in the South — they should take a cue from history, embrace the health law, and expand Medicaid. …

“The passage of Medicare and Medicaid was the first breakthrough in access to health care for all.

“But we have a long way to go. Just like in 1965, expanding Medicaid can reduce racial disparities in health care. The uninsured rate remains about 1.5 times higher for African Americans and almost three times higher for Latinos than white Americans. Access to affordable health care in America remains segregated along race and class lines, in large part because Republican governors and legislatures in most southern states have refused to expand Medicaid.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on racial disparity in health care.

“Most people expect that a Republican and Democrat couldn’t possibly get along in this day and age,” says George W. Bush. And yet, the former U.S. President shared, earlier this month, a sofa with his predecessor, Bill Clinton, to talk to TIME magazine’s Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. The Bush-Clinton bond is tighter than expected, and it started with a private letter from George H. W. Bush left for Clinton as he took office. It read: “You will be our President when you read this note. I am rooting hard for you.” Bush 43 talks about how instructive that moment was: his father gracious in defeat, Clinton humble in victory. The actual family friendship began a decade later when the younger Bush sent Clinton and his father traveling the world to raise relief funds for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami and then after Hurricane Katrina. Read the full story in this week’s issue of TIME magazine and find out how this photo, by Mark Seliger for TIME, was taken on #bush #clinton #politics

House introduces bipartisan bill to repeal the terrible Patriot Act

How hilariously poetic would it be to force Obama to veto a repeal of the Patriot Act, one of the worst legislative offenses of the Bush administration? 

from the great Julie Borowski writing over at FreedomWorks:

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) have introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act that would end the NSA’s unconstitutional domestic spying. I can say without hesitation: this bill is the real deal.

“The Patriot Act contains many provisions that violate the Fourth Amendment and have led to a dramatic expansion of our domestic surveillance state,” said Rep. Massie. “Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop the kind of warrantless spying and searches that the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act authorize. It is long past time to repeal the Patriot Act and reassert the constitutional rights of all Americans. I am proud to co-sponsor Congressman Pocan’s bill and look forward to working with him on this issue.”

Congress has introduced a handful of NSA reform bills over the past few years. Due to public disapproval of NSA spying, there is significant political pressure to “do something” about it. Most of these reform bills, however, would do practically nothing to rein in warrantless spying. Civil liberties experts say that most of these bills contain loopholes that would allow the invasive practices to continue.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a bill like the Surveillance State Repeal Act. It’s bold and effective. Specifically, here is what the bill would do:

  1. Repeals the Patriot Act (which contains the provision that allows for the bulk collection of metadata from U.S. citizens).
  2. Repeals the FISA Amendments Act (which contains provisions allowing for the government to monitor emails).
  3. It would extend judges’ terms on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and technical and legal experts to advise on technical issues raised during proceedings.
  4. Mandate that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regularly monitor such domestic surveillance programs for compliance with the law and issue an annual report.
  5. Ban the federal government from mandating that the manufacturer of an electronic device must install spy software.
  6. Gives people a proper channel to report illegal activity in their department.
  7. Says that no information related to a U.S. person may be acquired without a valid warrant based on probable cause—including under Executive Order 12333.
  8. Retains tools that are useful to law enforcement such as not requiring a new warrant if the suspect switches devices in an attempt to break surveillance.
  9. Protects intelligence collection practices involving foreign targets for the purpose of investigating weapons of mass destruction.

read the rest

Supposedly, Democrats have been against the Patriot Act since its passage (and rightfully so).  However, since Obama’s inauguration, he has not only used the Patriot Act to abuse the privacy rights of innocent American citizens, he’s expanded the scope of the Patriot Act to leave virtually no electronic communication private. 

PLEASE KEEP ANON. I could use your expertise on something. I hear from right wingers that it was republicans who made things like women’s suffrage and abolition of slavery happen. I read that Lincoln was a republican but to the best of my knowledge I think that at that time republicans were representing leftist views (maybe that weren’t leftists but had some leftist views). So now right wingers point this stuff out. What are your thoughts on this?

Yeah, the parties switched and that’s why early progressive accomplishments are attributed to Republicans; because that was, at the time, the more “liberal” party.  Here’s an article about it.
Congress under pressure from left and right to 'demilitarize' police

(The Hill) Groups on the left and right are uniting behind calls to end what they say is the rise of a “militarized” police force in the United States.

They say the controversial police tactics seen this week in Ferguson, Mo., are not isolated to the St. Louis County Police Department and warn the rise of heavily armed law enforcement agencies has become an imminent threat to civil liberties.

“What we’re seeing today in Ferguson is a reflection of the excessive militarization of police that has been happening in towns across America for decades,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ACLU is aligned with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and groups on the right who are calling for an end to a controversial Defense Department program that supplies local police departments with surplus military equipment, such as armored tanks, machine guns and tear gas.

According to the Defense Logistics Agency, more than $4 billion in discounted military equipment has been sold to local police departments since the 1990s.

A rare moment of broad bipartisan agreement. We’ll see if it translates into action.

The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

Today in 1964, LBJ signed the Wilderness Act, protecting more than 9 million acres of land.

In his signing speech the President praised the bipartisan work in getting the bill passed: 

“I think it is significant that these steps have broad support not just from the Democratic Party, but the Republican Party, both parties in the Congress. For example, the wilderness bill has been before the Congress since 1957, but it passed this year 73 to 12 in the Senate, and 373 to 1 in the House. So it seems to me that this reflects a new and a strong national consensus to look ahead, and, more than that, to plan ahead; better still, to move ahead.”

Attendees at the ceremony included some of those Congressional leaders, and many leaders of nonprofit groups who had worked alongside them. LBJ signed the bill outdoors, in the Rose Garden–naturally!

-from the LBJ Library


Earlier last week, members of Congress and their staffs were greeted by a makeshift golf expo set up in the Rayburn House Office Building.

The event included golf shot simulators, certified golf instructors and a putting challenge between Democrats and Republicans. It was all part of National Golf Day, an annual event organized by the industry that promotes the economic and health benefits of the sport.

American politicians have had an affinity with golf dating back at least as far as William Howard Taft, the first-known president to hit the links. Since then, Democrats and Republicans alike have enjoyed game. But as hyperpartisan politics have become more commonplace in Washington, bipartisan golf outings have disappeared like a shanked tee shot into a water hazard.

On Links As In Life, D.C. Bipartisan Relations Are Deep In The Rough

Photo credit: Emily Jan/NPR

I would say the best part of the Obama administration would be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big metadata programs, the NSA being enhanced.

Jeb Bush. Glenn Greenwald comments:

One of the most glaring myths propagated by Washington — especially the two parties’ media loyalists — is that bipartisanship is basically impossible, that the two parties agree on so little, that they are constantly at each other’s throats over everything. As is so often the case for Washington partisan propaganda, the reality is exactly the opposite.


The Americans with Disabilities Act - Today in History

On July 26, 1990, President George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). President Bush had made the bill a key element of his domestic agenda that year. The ADA proved to be one of the most far-reaching civil rights bills in the nation’s history, affecting more than 40 million citizens.

During its development, the ADA was a popular idea, but there were great challenges in turning it into workable legislation.  Although the ADA was equally embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike, bipartisan support did not ensure easy passage of a complicated bill capable of touching tens of millions of lives.

As these documents demonstrate it took leaders and politicians willing and able to “reach across the aisle” to find workable solutions; though as the documents also show, political strategists were well aware of the electoral costs of failure. Read More