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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand meets members of the 106th Rescue Wing, Westhampton Beach, NY.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said Monday that sexual assaults committed by members of the military continue to be "vastly underreported" even as the military claims to be making progress on reducing such crimes. Gillibrand, who has thus far lost her bid to change the way sex crimes are prosecuted in the military, said the military had declined to hand over much of the material she sought for a report she was compiling. But the material she did receive revealed disturbing patterns in the way the cases were handled, reports Richard Lardner.
The senator said her analysis of 107 sexual assault cases found punishments that were too lenient and the word of the alleged assailant was more likely to be believed than the victim. Less than a quarter of the cases went to trial and just 11 resulted in conviction for a sex crime.
Gillibrand said more than 50 percent of the victims were female civilians, but the military doesn't survey civilians in its reports on sexual assault.
In one of the cases Gillibrand reviewed, an airman allegedly pinned his ex-girlfriend down and then raped her. During the investigation, two other civilian victims stepped forward to accuse the same airman of sexual assault. One of them, the wife of another service member, awoke in the night to find the airman in bed with her. Two of his fingers were inside her vagina. The investigating officer recommended the airman be court-martialed. If convicted, he faced a lengthy prison term.

But the investigator's superiors decided against a trial and used administrative procedures to discharge the airman under "other than honorable conditions." The Air Force said the victims preferred this course of action. Two of them had decided they "wanted no part in the case," according to the Air Force, while the third said she did not want to testify.
To Gillibrand, the outcome was suspicious and suggested the victims may have been intimidated.

"It's frustrating because you look at the facts in these cases and you see witnesses willing to come forward, getting the medical exam and either eventually withdrawing their case or the investigators deciding that her testimony wasn't valid or believable," she said.

Looks like it may be time to revisit Gillibrand's legislative overhaul of the system, which would take military commanders out of the business of deciding which crimes gets prosecuted.
That judgment would rest with seasoned military attorneys who have prosecutorial experience. The Pentagon is opposed to the change.
Of course.
U.S. former Secretary of State, and now a Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, attends a Georgetown University luncheon to deliver remarks and present awards for the Advancement of Women in Peace and Security in Washington April 22,
Hillary Clinton will be making her biggest policy pronouncements to date on immigration Tuesday and the big question hanging in the air is, how far will she lean in? What Clinton says during a roundtable at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, will indicate just how much she is breaking away from the old Rahm-inspired conventional wisdom that immigration is the third-rail of politics.

Her campaign has been reaching out to a wide array of immigration advocacy groups and activists in advance of the speech, reports Adrian Carrasquillo.

While most advocates expect to hear her endorse immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship, they also want to know how invested she is in the issue and whether she will commit to taking executive actions that may even go further than those that President Obama has already taken.

“I want to hear, ‘In my first year, immigration reform is getting done and it’s getting done well,’” said Angelica Salas, from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), who often visited with the White House during the 2014 run up to the executive actions.

Janet Murguia, president of National Council of La Raza (NCLR), who made waves last year after calling Obama the “deporter-in-chief,” said that until Congress acts, the Latino community expects the next president to not only commit to making immigration legislation a priority, but to “expending political capital to achieve immigration reform.”

“For us, it means placing it at the top of her legislative agenda, working with Congress to broaden pathways for people to work and providing an accessible path to citizenship for longterm residents,” she said...

“What would get me to put a Hillary sticker on my car is if she said the president’s executive actions didn’t go far enough and didn’t exercise the totality of discretion,” said one activist whose organization has hit Clinton for her public comments on immigration.

For more on Clinton's roundtable event, head below the fold.
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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
It has been clear for some time now that would-be Republican savior Ben Carson was going to run for president. Or at least, that he'd make a try at it, given that an entire cottage industry revolves around at least pretending he could be a presidential contender in order to separate money from rubes, and we are entering the months in which candidates will have to put up or shut up about that. (Looking at you, Jeb Bush.)

To be clear, Ben Carson does not have even the slightest chance of becoming the Republican nominee. It's not going to happen. He will, if we are all very good this year, make it into the first debates. At that point he will be expected to open his mouth, and Ben Carson usually does very well in appearances right up until the point when he opens his mouth. Then all hell breaks loose.

Among his greatest hits? He famously compared gay Americans to "NAMBLA" and "people who believe in bestiality," which did not go well, and offered prison rape as evidence that homosexuality was a "choice." He called the VA scandal a "gift from God." He compared Obamacare to slavery. He also declared Obamacare more damaging to America than the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and fretted that insufficiently patriotic AP History courses might make students join ISIS. And declared that America under Obama is "very much like Nazi Germany."

In short, whenever would-be Republican savior Ben Carson is asked to opine off the cuff, would-be Republican savior Ben Carson ends up making national news and having to apologize or clarify his remarks soon afterward. He himself recognizes this flaw, which he vows to address by simply not talking about controversial things anymore:

Dr. Carson’s own words at times have caused controversy in recent months regarding Obamacare and homosexuality. “Now that you’ve announced you’re running for President of the United States,” Barnd asked, “what have you learned from those experiences?”

“I don’t wander off into those extraneous areas that can be exploited. I have learned that.”

Which would be grand for him, except that his popularity is based entirely on his willingness to opine on those things. Nobody has ever given a damn what Ben Carson's plan for the budget might be, or what Ben Carson would do as commander of the military, or what Ben Carson thinks we should do about this or that trade agreement. He made his name criticizing Obama for being Wrong, and criticizing America's social fabric for being Wrong, and by telling audiences that "Obamacare" is coming to take their children and replace their bathroom cabinets with portals to a dark socialist realm. Ben Carson not opining on social issues or Obamacare makes for some short speeches.

No matter. We—by which I mean anyone who is not a social conservative—are lucky to have him. The more the merrier, on the Republican debate stage. Ben Carson suffers from the worst of all conservative afflictions, a tragic disease that causes him to say what he thinks out loud, and no Republican with this condition has ever been elected president. Past candidates have undergone years of training to break themselves of the habit, and have assembled entire teams to rebrand the things they think into things that can be said out loud without dooming their careers. Ben Carson is, in the grand scheme of presidential politics, not long for this world.

Scene of police cars, chyron "Fox crew witnesses police shooting of black man in Baltimore."
Fox News made a major oops on Monday afternoon, and not of the usual Fox News kind. This wasn't a partisan lie about Obamacare or anything like that. No, a Fox reporter claimed to have been an eyewitness to a police shooting that did not happen. According to Fox's Mike Tobin:
"I was getting ready to do a live shot for my shift ... I was sitting in the car, scribbling on my notes for the next live shot, and he ran right in front of us," Tobin said. "I never saw the individual turn and do anything I would consider an aggressive act, but we did see the officer draw his weapon and I counted one gunshot."
But I guess this is why eyewitnesses aren't the be-all and end-all of investigating and prosecuting crimes:
"What's happened is we screwed up what it sounds like," [Fox host Shepard] Smith said. "I can tell you one thing, Mike Tobin would never — I've been through this. Mike Tobin thought he saw somebody get shot. And there was a gun. And there was a patient on a stretcher. And there was a woman who said she saw the cops gun him down and there's gonna be violence and all the rest of that. And what we have is nothing."
When what seems like a big story starts breaking on social media, it can be tough to sit back a few minutes and wait to find out if it's for real. Many, many news organizations have at some point passed along early reports that turned out not to be true. Usually when you have an eyewitness account coming directly from a news organization, you figure it's for real ... but here's a great reminder of why it's good to wait for confirmation.
Obamacare is such a failure, it can't even kill the jobs Republicans said it would!
Meet the Press:
TODD: You made some dire predictions about health care. 2014 you said fewer people would have health insurance. According to plenty of surveys, more people have health insurance today than they did before it went down from – the uninsured rate went down 17 percent to just under 12 percent. You said it would destroy jobs. The first year it was implemented, the country added 3 million jobs. Why…

BOEHNER: Obamacare made it harder for employers to hire people. The economy expands and as a result, you are going to have more employees because businesses have to. But if you can ask any employer in America, and ask them whether Obamacare has made it harder for them to hire employees, they’ll tell you yes. Because it’s a fact.

There's the substantive response to this nonsense here.

But hey, Boehner says "ask any employer in America", and it just so happens that I'm one of those. Daily Kos currently employs 35 people. Vox Media, which I co-founded, is sitting at over 400 employees. And both those companies are in America, and so am I!

So ask me, "Has Obamacare has made it harder for you to hire employees?" And the answer is "what the fuck are you talking about? Of course not!" I mean, the whole concept is patently ridiculous. Why would the law make it harder? Note that Boehner doesn't even bother trying to explain why.

You know what would make it easier for me to hire more employees? Universal health care. Take away my healthcare costs at Daily Kos, and I save over $400,000 per year. That's what, four-six employees? I could use those extra employees, too. (With nearly 10 times the employees at Vox Media, I can't imagine how many millions that company would save with universal health care!)

So what is hurting my ability to hire more people? Not Obamacare, which if anything is actually helping because it has lowered the annual increase in insurance premiums. Perhaps that's why not a single business group filed an amicus brief in support of the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case challenging the law.  

Conservatives can rail against Obamacare all they want, but it has nothing to do with business. We're doing just fine with the law on the books, thank you very much for asking, Mr. Speaker.

Scott Walker tweet: 'Hope for Republicans there still is. #MayTheFourthBeWithYou #StarWarsDay @StarWars -TW' Image: 'That boy was our last hope... No, there is another. SCOTTWALKER'
I have seen many attempts at political self-promotion over the years, but this may be the first time a presidential candidate's staff has hinted that their candidate may be a Jedi. (Or, to be more accurate, a Jedi's twin sister.)

You know that feeling you got in the pit of your stomach when, during Episode One, you realized that Jar Jar Binks was going to be sticking around as one of the main characters?

This is like that.

  • Today's comic by Tom Tomorrow is Responses to Baltimore:
    Cartoon by Tom Tomorrow -- Responses to Baltimore
  • What you may have missed on Sunday Kos ...
    'Sir, are you injured anywhere?' vs. 'f*ck your breath'. Only one kind of approach provokes riots, by Ian Reifowitz

    Reclaiming secularism is the key to protecting religious liberty, by Jon Perr

    On "riots" and roots, by Denise Oliver Velez

    The White House Correspondents' Dinner: America's political saturnalia, by Dante Atkins

    The most racist areas in the United States, by Susan Grigsby

    Happy Birthday, Customer, by Mark E Andersen

    Do we all live in a giant hologram, by DarkSyde

    Hillary Clinton on Foreign Policy: Critical Perspectives from the Left, by koNko

    A constitutional amendment is the only solution to our fraudulent politics, by Egberto Willies

  • Execution was meant for the worst of the worst. Research shows that's far from the reality.:
    The authors of a study published last year in the Hastings Law Journal took a closer look at the most recent 100 executions (as of June 2013) to determine whether any of those defendants might have been spared in accordance with the law. As it turned out, the overwhelming majority met one or more of the criteria: One-third of the executed prisoners had a documented intellectual disability, borderline intellectual functioning, or a traumatic brain injury—and eight scored below 70 on an IQ test, a level of disability that should exempt a defendant from execution. Four were 18 at the time of their crimes.

    Although the Supreme Court has twice ruled that states may not execute someone who is insane, 54 of the 100 executions studied involved prisoners who showed symptoms of severe mental illness, including six cases of schizophrenia, three of bipolar disorder, and eight of PTSD. Six had tried to kill themselves at least once.

  • Kent State plaque, one of a series on the campus, explaining the shooting 45 years ago.
    One of a series of plaques with details on the slayings by
    National Guardsmen on the Kent State University campus, May 4, 1970.
  • Employee spent half his time at work watching porn:
    Baltimore City officials estimate the 39 hours an employee spent watching pornography on the job during a two-week period equated to about $1,166 in salary. They fired him in January after monitoring and documenting the employee's porn viewing.

    The maintenance supervisor with the Department of Public Works—who city officials did not identify, citing personnel confidentiality—was bringing a pornography DVD to work and watching it at his computer, according to a report released last week by the Office of the Inspector General.

  • Woman waging war against Lucifer. Please donate:
    The woman who was arrested for tearing down a holiday display set up by the Satanic Temple in Florida has launched a crowdfunding campaign so that she may continue to wage her Earthly war to “keep Satan out of our Capitols and out of our schools.”

    Florida prosecutors dropped the charges against Susan Hemeryck after she destroyed the display containing an angel descending into a pit of fire.

    Ironically, she looks a bit like the late professional atheist, Madalyn Murray O'Hair.
  • Her last night on the job, waitress gives a tip to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, and it goes viral: Chloe Hough, 22, was working at Boss Hawg’s Barbecue when Brownback showed up. She went to social media to ask friends what she should tell the governor since she had the chance. She has long been concerned about the state of education in Kansas. Recently, Brownback signed a bill that changes the funding method for the schools, which, unsurprisingly included cutting how much money they get.
    Before Hough took the tab to the governor—which rang in at $52.16—she put an X in the line where he would leave a tip. And to the left of that she wrote, “Tip the schools.”
    Her tip went viral.
  • As predicted, "slyly, brilliantly done" obituary for "Santa" mentions man's biggest claim to fame.
  • EPI: Minimum wage increase hits the bullseye:
    Social or labor market policies are measured by their reach, their adequacy, and their costs. By these metrics, a minimum wage increase is a slam dunk. A generation of research now demonstrates pretty decisively that markets can accommodate a reasonably higher minimum at no significant threat to job creation—especially when ancillary gains (productivity gains, less turnover, increase in aggregate demand) are taken into account. Raising the minimum wage makes almost no demands on the public purse, and could in fact recoup much of the current public subsidy (through working families’ reliance on means-tested tax credits, cash assistance, health care, and food security programs) of low-wage employment. Even a small increase promises to make a big difference: in 2013, Arin Dube estimated that an increase to $10.10 would raise the incomes of poor families (those at the 10th percentile) by 12 percent and lift five to seven million out of poverty. An increase to $12 would likely have even larger poverty-fighting effects.

    While much of our social and tax policy is either poorly targeted (it reaches the poor unevenly) or aimed in in the wrong direction (it benefits those who don’t need it), a minimum wage increase hits the bull’s-eye. As EPI’s new estimates of the impact of the “Raise the Wage Act” (bringing the minimum to $12.00/hour by 2020) underscore, the benefits of an increase would flow overwhelmingly to those—young workers, single parents, workers of color—who need it the most.

  • On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Garland gun-free zone: how did anyone survive? Guns Everywhere GA roundup. Where's Rand? Policing crisis & the Clinton crime bill. Can you run from the cops? Depends! 7th cir. upholds assault weapons ban. Mutual funds & inequality.

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney answers a question as he debates President Barack Obama during the second U.S. presidential campaign debate in Hempstead, New York, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Wow, Mitt Romney. Just wow. At a time when even many Republicans are pretending to care about mass incarceration, Romney instead attacked Hillary Clinton for saying that we need to "end the era of mass incarceration." In fact, he denied that it's a reality:
I was concerned that her comments smacked of politicization of the terrible tragedies that are going on there. When she said we’re not going to have mass incarcerations in the future, what is she referring to? We don’t have mass incarcerations in America. Individuals are brought before tribunals, and they have counsel. They’re given certain rights. Are we not going to lock people up who commit crimes?
Mitt Romney is famously a business guy, so presumably he likes numbers and facts. Let's turn to one very basic fact on incarceration in America.
Incarceration rates for OECD nations. United States WAY WAY above everyone else.
That is mass. Politicians have to grapple with this, and there are two basic possibilities. One is that Americans are uniquely likely to commit crimes, that we are a nation of criminals, and that the only thing to do is to lock us up by the millions. The other is that the United States has different policies than other nations, that those policies produce higher incarceration rates (and possibly higher crime rates), and that we could change the policies. That we could make another choice and reduce prison populations without endangering ourselves. That just because there is a system in which there are tribunals and counsel and certain rights does not mean current incarceration rates in the U.S. represent true justice.
Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal
Kimberley Strassel
What's responsible for Baltimore's problems? Republicans need answers other than "massive economic inequality, racism, and police violence," and when Republicans need answers but can't admit what the real problems are, they turn to a familiar set of scapegoats. Take Wall Street Journal editorial board member and columnist Kimberley Strassel's answer to Chuck Todd's question "how should the business community be responding to Baltimore?" Strassel quickly pivoted: "They want to be able to help in this situation, but ..."
The reality, there has been a kind of common plan in a lot of these cities, which is what John Boehner was referring to. There have been a lot of policies out there that you see replicated across these cities, of sort of central planning, lots of money being poured in from both the state and the federal level, but you still have a failing education system dominated by public sector unions, teachers unions, you've still got high crime and high unemployment.
And if you could fix all that, then maybe the business sector would care to invest. Voila!

The truth is that central planning has been a factor in creating the problems of cities like Baltimore. Specifically, decades of government-sponsored segregation created a hell of a lot of problems and prevented black families from building and passing through generations the kind of wealth that white families have.

As for Baltimore's failing education system dominated by teachers unions—a point that, precisely because it comes out of nowhere in Strassel's response, we know is an important one, something she worked to get in there—we need to talk about two things here. One is that, nationally, states where the teachers are unionized have better educational outcomes than states where they are not. This is not mostly because of teachers unions, it's because states that have unions also tend to have other characteristics that are good for education, but it's certainly a reason to be suspicious anytime someone tries to tell you that teachers unions hurt education.

Second, the big thing that affects educational outcomes—The. Big. Thing.—is family income. If you want to make a solid guess about how "effective" an area's schools and teachers are, find out its average income. Does Kimberley Strassel really think that if you took the teachers from the highest-performing schools in non-union states and put them in Baltimore, working under the rules they work under in their home states, suddenly Baltimore schools would have the outcomes of the best schools in the wealthiest towns in Georgia or Texas? Like hell she does, if she's being honest. But the right's crusade against teachers unions trumps honesty about what's going on in Baltimore's schools.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) at CPAC 2015.
Even though the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act most likely will pass the Senate by a large majority, the superhawks, pushed by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and president-wannabe Marco Rubio (R-FL), appear to have been defeated in their efforts to get a vote on amendments that would make a deal with Iran over its nuclear program impossible. And they have only themselves to blame.

Thanks to a parliamentary maneuver by Cotton last week to get a vote on amendments that would make any deal with Iran contingent on Tehran recognizing Israel, disclosing all its nuclear history and closing all its nuclear facilities, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering moving ahead this week to a vote on the full bill without voting on several other amendments Republican senators wanted. He has yet to make up his mind.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, together with ranking committee Democrat Ben Cardin (D-MD), had been working both sides of the aisle to get a vote on several amendments, including Cotton's, considered without losing needed Democrat support. But Cotton's move made a mess of things. Hence, despite the right's view that the bill is toothless, McConnell may very well just ram it through in something close to its current form.

When the bill first cleared committee it was widely viewed as a case of President Obama blinking and thus a Republican victory since he said he would back it after some items were removed, particularly a requirement for him to certify that Iran is not supporting terrorism that harms Americans, an impossible task. As I noted at the time, it was not a GOP win. If McConnell does move ahead to floor consideration, the bill that is voted on will be substantially the one that the committee approved unanimously last month.

Bill Scher argues, quite rightly, that passing the bill as it stands won't stop Obama from making a deal and neither would defeating the bill. Lose-lose:

What they haven’t come to grips with is that Obama has the power to indefinitely waive sanctions on Iran, because Congress gave that power to him.

All the various sanctions bills passed by Congress, including those passed with bipartisan votes during Obama’s presidency, grant waiver authority to the executive branch. (And one of the main sanctions laws expires completely at the end of 2016.)

Not only does Obama have that authority under current law, his negotiations with Iran are premised on him using that authority. If Congress didn’t want him to do that, it shouldn’t have given him the power in the first place, especially since lawmakers can’t revoke it without a veto-proof supermajority.

The situation could, of course, change. But for now it appears that the efforts of Cotton, et al., to wreck any nuclear deal before it actually happens has failed.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington February 26, 2015. Conservative Republicans urged House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner not to capitulate in a fight with Democrats over Preside
House Speaker John Boehner visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum last month when he was in New York on a fundraising trip. Here's what he had to say about the visit.
"So you hear what they're telling you, but you are also reliving what happened. Your heart breaks for the families. The resolve pushes its way through. You stop to collect your thoughts. You are right back there." He concluded, "I'm glad I had the chance to go. God bless America."
Apparently Boehner's heart only breaks for the families of the people who died in the World Trade Center that day, because he's got nuthin' for the first responders who are living today with the aftermath of their heroic actions.
The Speaker remains publicly opposed to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which helps those first responders get healthcare. Due to a compromise to ease passage in 2011, the act will start to expire this year if Congress does not extend it.

Through the bill, about 33,000 people, and counting, receive treatment for a least one health issue, ranging from asthma to terminal cancer, linked to exposure to toxins around Ground Zero.

Boehner voted against the bill in 2010. He has not changed his view, spokesman Michael Steel said last week.

Granted, Boehner doesn't generally believe in the government helping regular folks out with health care, but you'd think he could make an exception for the men and women who actually ran into the inferno that day. Clearly, you'd be giving him too much credit.
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton waits to be introduced during an early voting rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana October 20, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR4AWCL
Former President Bill Clinton is pushing back against the attacks on the Clinton Foundation's fundraising, pointing to the side of the story the media is less interested in telling: what the foundation does, including:
... good works like the "Wings to Fly" program that has helped 10,000 poor kids in Kenya attend high school.

The program has been a whopping success, with 94 percent of the kids graduating and 98 percent of them going on to college. [...]

While in Tanzania, he and 20 of the foundation's big donors also visited the Anchor Farm Project which is expected to produce huge yields of maize and soy and to help locals learn new agricultural techniques. They connected with a group called "Solar Sisters" that empowers women by selling environmentally friendly products such as solar lights and cook stoves.

They are headed Monday to Liberia — where they helped the government combat HIV/AIDS and coordinated delivery of medical equipment and supplies during the Ebola epidemic — to see several survivors.

Instead, the media has been fixating on the story being spread by Republican operative Peter Schweizer in his book Clinton Cash, a story centered on speculation that donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees for Bill Clinton were used to influence Hillary Clinton in her time heading the State Department. While the Clinton Foundation has made a few mistakes in its reporting of contributions from foreign governments, Bill Clinton points out that:
"The guy that filled out the forms made an error," he said. "Now that is a bigger problem, according to the press, than the other people running for president willing to take dark money, secret money, secret from beginning to end."
Like Jeb Bush, who's delaying his official entry into the presidential race so he can keep coordinating with his super PAC and is even talking about outsourcing traditional campaign functions to the super PAC. Bush's family has also trailed the Clintons on disclosing donors to the foundations of its two former presidents—David Corn points out that the foundation supporting George H.W. Bush's library did not disclose donors while his son was president, and neither that nor George W. Bush's equivalent foundation is disclosing donors while Jeb is running for president.

But for some mysterious reason, the media seems more interested in talking about Peter Schweizer's weak allegations than about the holes in those allegations, or Bush family fundraising practices, or any of the stuff the Clinton Foundation is doing with the money it takes in.

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