From Associated Press:
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Blunt-spoken Republican Gov. Paul LePage said out-of-state drug dealers are impregnating "young white" girls, and his remarks were quickly denounced by critics on Thursday as racial fearmongering.
LePage, talking about Maine's heroin epidemic, described out-of-state drug dealers as "guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty" and said "half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave."
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Advocates in Buffalo, New York, working to end homelessness in their city are crowing about an exciting new number: 22. That’s how many chronically homeless people are living on the streets as of early January, and the number is still falling, according to Dale Zuchlewski, executive director of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York. That figure is down from the roughly 400 chronically homeless people living without shelter four years ago—and the success is largely thanks to a simple idea.
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WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The number of Americans who applied for new unemployment benefits in 2015 fell to the lowest level in 42 years.
Fresh government figures show 277,000 people filed initial jobless claims in the seven days running from Dec. 27 to Jan 2. That is down 10,000 from an unrevised 287,000 in the prior week.
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I don't much care for political scandal. It distracts from issues that ought to be decided by an informed electorate.
A politician I deeply admired, the late Governor Marvin Mandel of Maryland, accepted watches, legal services, expensive clothing, jewelry, real estate, and lots and lots of money as part of a complicated scheme of bribery. It broke my heart, and it took from the citizens of Maryland the opportunity to judge whether to continue policies of school construction, gun safety, Metro-train style public transportation, emergency shock trauma health innovation, and all around government efficiency.
A politician I came to admire, Governor George Ryan of Illinois, was less creative in selling government contracts and licenses for money-laundered bribes. As indictments came closer, voters in Illinois were deprived of the chance to approve or reject his stand against the death penalty.
I still admire these two thieves, both of whom very much belonged in prison.
I did not much care for Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia. Voters should have decided whether to continue a program of education cuts, off-shore drilling expansion, slashes in health care, and an infamous trans-vaginal ultrasound requirement of women thinking about abortion. Instead, public attention was devoted to an investigation that initially focused on whether the Governor used public funds for dog food and bathroom shower products, an investigation that later exposed true major corruption.
Scandal is highly entertaining and enticing to much of the public. I don't much care for its sickly sweet odor. Scandal substitutes triviality in place of substance.
Occasionally, scandal itself becomes so overwhelming it overlaps into the nature of public policy. I see the blunt force trauma to civil liberties administered by the Nixon administration as reaching that threshold. That is the thermonuclear exception to the rule of more common petty temptation.
What are we to make of Marco Rubio?
Rival Jeb Bush hints darkly of background problems that will swim out of the political swamp, like some medieval sea monster, huge and menacing: a watery version of a biblical behemoth rising from the book of Job.
Minor problems with an organizational credit card issued by the Florida Republican Party did not quite fill sandals of Goliath. Corruption should be made from sterner stuff.
The brother-in-law problem may be closer to what Jeb! has in mind.
It seems Marco Rubio's sister married a fellow who got involved with a drug organization in Miami. When the organization was broken up by federal law enforcement authorities, the brother-in-law went to prison. He got out 12 years later.
Some of us do take almost a libertarian view of narcotics. A competent adult should have the right to self-destruction. Treatment works better than punishment when the self-destructive have a change of heart.
And there should be limits on guilt by association. Young Marco was close to his brother-in-law, mowing lawns, doing odd jobs for a child's wages, and hanging out. When the involvement with drugs began, Marco was 12. By all accounts, he was unaware. When the arrest occurred he was 16.
Marco Rubio seems never to have hidden his relationship with his brother-in-law. He has written about the man's gift for tales of Cuba, bringing the comfort of fond memories to Marco's parents. He has also written about the pain of finding out about the arrest, discovering the hidden illegalities.
Not everything was aboveboard for Marco Rubio. In later years, after serving a dozen years in prison, the former drug dealer wanted to make his way into an honest living. He applied for a real estate license.
By this time Marco Rubio was a success, an influential leader in the Florida legislature. He wrote letters on behalf of his brother-in-law and got him his real estate license. But he did not mention in those letters the brother-in-law part, or that they were relatives, or that they had any relationship.
And investigations by reporters keep uncovering details. The brother-in-law was at the center of the Tabraue Cartel. He functioned as the front man, insulating the drug kingpin Mario Tabraue from day-to-day functions, making contact, conducting deals, pretty much operating at the direction of the head of the cartel.
That cartel was more than a sub rosa smuggling operation, providing a service that bluenoses don't like. Three years before Rubio's brother-in-law got involved, the group became aware of the undercover identity of a federal informant. The murder was especially grisly, involving chainsaws and body parts. Authorities were never able to find the pieces of the victim.
On a policy level, Marco Rubio does conform to the requirements imposed by today's Republican base. Like other officeholders, he reacts with reflexive opposition to any and every Obama initiative. From the Iran anti-nuclear agreement to this season's modest gun safety initiative, Republicans respond with anger before actual policy is known to them. They predict what they will see, and are amazed and outraged by nothing more than their thoughts. When actual details are finally known, they modify modify their fury to fit.
But Marco Rubio has a reputation for moderate demeanor. And, in some areas, Republicans are moving a little beyond a mere contest of anti-Obama name calling. They are just beginning to debate in what direction they might part ways with Obama anti-terrorist policies. Marco Rubio is at the center of that debate.
Voters may never develop a verdict about Marco Rubio's ideas, his policy approach, the direction he might endeavor to take the Republic.
I have been hoping Marco Rubio might contribute a rare shining light to the Republican darkness. He has been at the center of an inspirational true story of the trauma of discovered criminality and arrest, followed years later by a nurturing of recovery and redemption. I think of a family providing a lost soul with a way back to the fold.
Then I think of his primary rivals, and a political party who, not so long ago, elected a president with attack ads about rape and murder and Willie Horton. What ethical limits will his rivals possess?
This is the modern Republican party. The one time home of Abraham Lincoln now houses a shrinking group that routinely accuses a president of treason, a party still proud of swift boat attacks on a war hero.
If Marco Rubio begins to rise to the level of a threat to another Republican, the campaign will not be about an inspirational story. It will not be about debate or policy.
Marco Rubio will not survive the primary season.
From Max's Dad:
First of all Happy New Year! Ok now that the tripe is out of the way cuz I have no say in how anybody's New Year goes, the annual New Years Eve ritual of staying off the streets and going to the movies is now over.
Being an old, New Years Eve is really nothing to get excited about. Two shitty football games, won by Southern teams who cheat better than the rest of the teams, Times Square revelers pimping a gym and not even noticing cuz hey its a free top hat and that makes me cool, and drunken CNN anchors telling Jon Rivers Lite she has a nice rack. Perhaps the greatest moment ever on CNN and that's not a high bar.
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From Jon Perr at Perrspectives:
Christmas day doesn't always bring you the present you want. (As a Cleveland Browns fan eagerly anticipating an NFL championship since 1964, I can attest to that.) But you may just get the gift you really need. And sometimes, you receive something truly special, something you didn't deserve.
For those dismayed and disheartened by the unusually ugly and sadly sinister tone of American politics in 2015, Abraham Lincoln is the gift that keeps on giving. After a year in which xenophobia, naked nativism and religious bigotry became the new normal for the Party of Lincoln, the Great Emancipator remains a potent antidote to what ails us.
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From tengrain at Mock Paper Scissors:
The WaPo has a really well-researched piece up on Marco Rubio and his ex-con brother-in-law, with the unfortunate, down-played headline of How Rubio helped his ex-con brother-in-law acquire a real estate license.
Now, being a bleeding heart liberal, I do believe that once you’ve done your time, you’ve paid your debt to society and you get a clean slate and a chance to start over, and I applaud people who do.
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From Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:
National Review’s Tim Alberta and Eliana Johnson report a potentially important development: The emergence of an Anybody-But-Cruz-(Except-Trump) movement from the soon-to-be ashes of the Iowa campaigns of Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. It would seem that some social conservatives, including a few currently supporting the last two Iowa winners, consider Senator Ted Cruz a “phony opportunist" -- and would rather see Senator Marco Rubio do well if their own candidates don’t have an unexpected late surge.
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From The Observer, Fayetteville, NC:
A man with a semi-automatic assault rifle walked into a downtown Fayetteville church during a New Year’s Eve prayer service.
The church’s pastor is City Councilman Larry Wright.
The incident at Heal the Land Outreach Ministries, off Campbell Avenue, ended peacefully, although many of the 60 members in attendance were startled, and at least one person — a pregnant woman — slipped out of the service.
Wright said he was able to calm the armed stranger, take away his weapon and then pray for him before Fayetteville police officers arrived.
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From Tommy Christopher at The Daily Banter:
There’s nothing like a molten hot take to warm up the icy news tundra of Christmas week, and so it is that Politico Magazine has stepped in to fill the void with a column suggesting that President Obama travel the country silently being spat on by racists in order to counter Donald Trump‘s Starkiller Base of white resentment. Lest you think I’m exaggerating, here is a little sample of Issac Bailey‘s well-intentioned but misguided column:
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From Libertarian Michael A. LaFerrara at Principled Perspectives:
The december 2015 Paris agreement by nearly 200 countries to “fight climate change” launched, in theory, a major War on Fossil Fuels, the world’s largest and best energy source. You’d think that there must be some incredibly important, life or death reason to restrict the use of and ultimately outlaw the energy that supports the well-being of seven billion people.
But you’d be wrong. The attack on coal, oil, and natural gas is real, but the rationalization is hollow. The rhetoric of the champions of the Paris agreement proves it.
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From Green Eagle:
I guess it is on everyone's mind these days. No sense discussing the fact that, unless you are using the term in its most restrictive form, to refer to Mussolini, who really popularized the term, and his government, there is really no agreement about what the term means. There is, however, a very interesting list, compiled in 2003 by Lawrence Britt, of fourteen characteristics of a Fascist government. Here it is:
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From The Moderate Voice:
Before there was Bush Derangement Syndrome and Obama Derangement Syndrome there was Clinton Derangement Syndrome — which thrives today among many when it comes to Hillary Clinton. She has her supporters, and then those who disagree with some of her positions, or those who are perhaps not enamored of her personality. But to those who aren’t red-faced sufferers of outright Clinton Derangement Syndrome, it’s evident when you hear, read or see the syndrome. And Peter Daou, who has worked with and for Clinton, sees it as having reached a fever pitch last week. He writes:
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From Human Voices:
So I've been trying to get attention for my observation that younger Americans are beginning their sentences with the word "So" ad nauseam. So no one wants to hear it. So we have a new year now and so perhaps with the release of the annual "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use,Over-Use or General Uselessness" by Lake Superior State University in Michigan, my readers will stop ignoring me. "So" is at the top of the list.
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When she was just three years old, a friend’s daughter announced that her real name was Joseph.
At first, her parents thought this was comical, if also slightly puzzling.
But it became alarming as the girl, Sally, insisted she was a boy and that her parents, Anna and Richard, weren’t her real parents and their home city wasn’t her real home.
She was convinced that, as Joseph, she lived in a little house by the sea, with lots of brothers and sisters.
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Can this be right?
James anticipates an unreasonable reaction from atheists, then is amazed and irritated by how unreasonable that anticipated reaction will be?
From conservative James Wigderson:
Get the smelling salts and the fainting couch. The atheists in Madison are having a case of the vapors. They don’t know whether to be angry or extremely angry, but they know they do not like state Rep. Scott Allen of Waukesha. They haven’t been this upset since Gov. Scott Walker dedicated a “Christmas tree” instead of a “holiday” tree.
Allen, like a number of other Republican legislators, recorded a Christmas message to his constituents in the state Capitol. Allen, a Christian, actually reminded the audience that Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Allen also suggested for those who are not Christian, “I invite you to consider the hope offered by the Prince of Peace.”
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Bethany Baird is a writer for the Lies Young Women Believe website. In a post titled 8 Ways to Fight For Purity, Baird gives sexually aware young women eight ways to sex-proof their lives. If young women follow Baird’s advice, they can be certain that they will never get laid until their wedding day. Isn’t that good news? Here’s Baird’s prescription for a sex-proof life:
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