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Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by Jeff Singer
Pennsylvania Republican senatorial candidate Pat Toomey (L) shakes hands with Democratic senatorial candidate Congressman Joe Sestak before their debate at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 20, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaff
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (left) faces a rematch with Democrat Joe Sestak
In the last few months, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has looked like the favorite in light-blue Pennsylvania. Two polls gave him a strong job approval rating, and national Democrats aren't happy to see their 2010 nominee, ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, making another run. However, a new survey from Public Policy Polling paints a very different picture of next year's Keystone State contest and finds that while Toomey starts with a lead, he's far from secure in a race that could decide control of the Senate.
• 44-35 vs. ex-Rep. Chris Carney

• 44-35 vs. state Sen. Vincent Hughes

• 44-34 vs. Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski

• 46-41 vs. ex-Gov. Ed Rendell

• 42-38 vs. 2010 nominee Joe Sestak

• 44-33 vs. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams

Against all comers, Toomey takes between 42 and 46 percent of the vote, a bit far from the 50 percent mark he'd like to be at. PPP finds Toomey's approval rating underwater at 30-37, not a great place for an incumbent in a hostile state to be. A March Quinnipiac poll and May survey from Harper Polling gave Toomey a 49-24 and 54-32 approval rating respectively, and there's no easy explanation for why PPP finds something so different.

Head over the fold for more.

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Officers Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan
Chicago Police Officers Jerome Finnigan and Timothy McDermott
The Chicago Police Department fought to keep private this horrendous photo taken between 1999 and 2003 of Officers Jerome Finnigan and Timothy McDermott posing with a black man as if he were a dead deer.

Maybe it's because the cash-strapped city has already paid over a half a billion dollars in settlements because of police misconduct the past 10 years alone?

Maybe it's because it was recently revealed that the Chicago Police Department has a secret facility it has been using to harass people off the record?

Maybe it's because the City of Chicago just passed a reparations bill for the many victims their police have tortured?

Even more likely, though, is that they really didn't want the identity of these two officers in the spotlight.

Officer Jerome Finnigan

Officer Jerome Finnigan, pictured on the left, is in prison for ordering a hit on another officer. Known as one of the most corrupt officers in the history of the Chicago Police Department, details of his crimes—as part of the department's secretive Special Operations Section—continue to emerge to this day.

In his plea agreement, Finnigan stipulated that he unlawfully stopped and detained persons, conducted illegal searches, and arrested individuals based on false evidence.

SOS gained notoriety in 2006, when Finnigan and others were indicted for breaking into homes without warrants, and stealing money from and even kidnapping suspects. SOS was disbanded in 2007.

Another officer, Keith Herrera, is awaiting sentencing. Two other officers were federally convicted, and seven more officers were convicted of lesser state charges.

The most egregious theft listed in the article was when Finnigan and two partners stole  $450,000. The group, according to the article, stopped a driver of a pickup truck and handcuffed and frisked him. Then, with guns drawn, they searched his house, finding a leather bag filled with bricks of cash. Finnigan split the money with the two officers.

The City of Chicago seems to want Finnigan, currently housed in a Florida prison, to keep quiet because he continues to implicate other officers who have never been held responsible for the roles they played in widespread corruption of the worst kind.
Finnigan, who pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2011, told Levin the group’s stealing from suspects was more widespread than what the public knows. He told Playboy he knows of 19 officers who stole cash and personal possessions during SOS searches.
The federal complaint against Finnigan is mind-blowing. He openly discussed the different gang members and hitmen he would use to execute another officer who was giving him trouble. So prolific was Finnegan at corruption that he and the three officers he supervised accumulated over 200 internal affairs complaints. 200? How the hell is that even possible without action being taken?

Nine years before Finnigan ever spent a day in prison, he and other officers, according to a civil suit, broke into the home of a man who turned out to be a Chicago fire-fighter and tortured him in front of his wife and kids. When the fire-fighter reported it, look at what happened:

The following day the plaintiff called the Chicago Police Department ("CPD") to report the incident. The next day, May 30, 2002, an investigator from the CPD came to plaintiff's home to discuss his complaint. The investigator told plaintiff that plaintiff was a drug dealer and that his complaint was "bogus."

A day or two later, the investigator returned to plaintiff's house and told him that if he pursued his complaint the police would cause him to lose his job. Plaintiff told the investigator that he would not pursue the case so long as the police did not arrest him, plant drugs on him, or have him fired. As the investigator left plaintiff's home, he told plaintiff, "just forget about this; otherwise kiss your job goodbye, and you're fucked."

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Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich at debate during campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination
This is bad news for Rick Santorum
In the wake of a 2012 Republican campaign season that did not go off as planned, the anti-LGBT religious conservative group run by noted crackpot and birther Bob Vander Plaats is not planning to require conservative presidential candidates to sign an official Family Leader "Marriage Vow" pledging themselves to various tenets of Bob's personal religion. The 2012 version generated considerable controversy because among the planks candidates were asked to sign off on in addition to pledges to not commit adultery and-so-on were statements that Muslims were attempting to impose sharia law in the United States, that homosexuality is a "choice" and a public health risk, and that black American children were better off under slavery.

While presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum eagerly signed the pledge because of course they did, eventual actual nominee Mitt Romney declined, which peeved evangelicals greatly but probably helped Romney look not entirely insane. (An irritated Vander Plaats would go on to endorse Santorum, but not before making the rounds of other candidates in an apparent attempt, according to Republican insiders, to sell his endorsement for cash.

Alas, it looks like there will be no repeat of these shenanigans in 2016. The notion that American children were better off under slavery, etc., so damaged the "Marriage Vow" brand that they don't have the clout to demand candidates sign an updated version. Or, to put a better spin on it:

"One of the reasons why we are not doing it this time is that we saw it as more of a distraction" than as a benefit, Vander Plaats said. "We thought that there were other ways to do this. You know, our opponents want to pick apart things that we do. We want to make sure that the candidates are full-spectrum, pro-family conservatives."

As an alternative, The Family Leader is sponsoring a series of meetings with presidential candidates, Vander Plaats said. Included are four regional leadership forums, a family leadership summit in Ames in July, and a presidential forum in Des Moines in November.

So they won't be requiring candidates to put ink to paper because that didn't work out so well last time around, but they will be requiring candidates to run through a gauntlet of their own sponsored events in order to gain the important and still-coveted Family Leader approval. That should provide ample entertainment, and even more chances for the groveling candidates to humiliate themselves.
Gov. Scott breaks ground on Embraer’s new Engineering and Technology Center, Melbourne, Florida. November 28, 2012
Florida's Senate President Andy Gardner offered a compromise Tuesday to try to get the state's legislature out of a budget impasse. That impasse could be resolved, the Senate has maintained, by accepting Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. So, to try to get a recalcitrant House and Gov. Rick Scott to agree, Gardner modified the Senate proposal.
The Senate's proposal, referred to by Gardiner as FHIX 2.0, bypasses putting people into Medicaid starting in July as was initially proposed and instead requires those eligible for the FHIX coverage to wait until January. The state plan also would have to obtain federal government approval.

The proposal also gives people the option of staying on the federal health insurance exchange, rather than going into the state's privately-run option.

The proposal requires federal approval and, if the federal government rejects any piece of it or recommends changes, the plan would have to come back to the Legislature for final approval.

"We look at next week as starting the dialogue or the discussion," Gardiner said.

That was quickly rejected by Scott and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli who still want their federal healthcare money to come in a form that is somehow not tainted by Obamacare. But here's who's really pulling the strings on this one:
Americans for Prosperity also objected to the changes. State Director Chris Hudson, said the changes aren't a compromise.  The Senate, Hudson said in a release, "is just dressing up a failed model from other states and hoping it sticks."
The legislature begins its special session next week, in which it will attempt to fulfill Scott's impossible dream of a budget that "keeps Florida's economy growing will cut taxes and give Floridians back more of the money they earn, not inevitably raise taxes in order to implement ObamaCare and grow government." The people left out of that dream are the 800,000 uninsured Floridians who should be getting Medicaid.
Two F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft ferry from Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma on May 22, 2013.
F-35 fighters over Texas. Because they were built there.
The Boston Globe went to Texas to find out why a large segment of the American population has gone insane, or more specifically, why they are convinced that a military training exercise named Jade Helm is in fact an Obama plot to take over Texas and put his enemies, by which we mean a scattered passel of rural Texas lunatics, into camps. For some reason.

The short and almost depressingly obvious answer is because Obama.

Interviews with residents of this community illuminate the distrust that has developed across deeply conservative America — fueled by anger at the White House and Congress and a sense among many that the federal government is no longer on the side of the people it is dedicated to serve.
Which, I suppose, is a given. If you're the sort of rube who is so hostile to the first black president that you're already willing to believe he's a secret Kenyan, or Muslim, or any of the other things that even sitting congressmen were willing to pipe up with then believing he's going to use his secret Muslim powers to brainwash the military into invading Texas is not much of a step. I wish, however, we put more emphasis on pointing out that people who believe these things are not "conservatives" or "patriots" or any of the other things they wish to be called. They're mostly just deeply stupid.
“What comes home in the conservative consciousness is: The government is hostile to me,” [Bastrop County GOP chair so-and-so] said. “And if he’s already unleashed the IRS on us, is it a big leap to think he’d unleash the military?”
Yes, actually, it is a very big leap—even if you have convinced yourself of the hostile and IRS parts, "and now the military is going to invade Texas" is indeed a leap. It speaks to the mind-set, though; this other fellow is my enemy. Therefore, he is conspiring against me and doing illegal things, and about to do not just illegal things but nation-shatteringly loopy things. Because I am freedomz, and he is not.

It's particularly interesting that this national conviction among conservatives that they are being terribly oppressed comes immediately after a period of wartime rhetoric in which non-conservatives were, literally, called traitors to the country; one change of presidents later and the Texas governor makes noises about his state leaving the country altogether if that same can-do-no-wrong government starts doing things he isn't fond of. These people don't do nuance. When they are in power they proclaim themselves the only true Americans; when they lose an election they are convinced it is precursor to America collapsing entirely.

Head below the fold for more on this story.

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There's no amount of debunking that will convince the hardcore Benghazi conspiracy theorists or the cynical Republicans who believe they need a Benghazi scandal to defeat Hillary Clinton. But for the sliver of people who care about Benghazi yet aren't 100 percent committed to believing in giant lapses and a cover-up on the part of the Obama administration, former CIA deputy director Michael Morell does his best to debunk some of the myths. For instance:
Earlier last week a handful of number of news organizations, including Fox News, breathlessly reported that they had just gotten their hands on a Defense Intelligence Agency report—acquired through a FOIA request by Judicial Watch—that they say proves that the government knew very soon after the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11/12 that they had been planned ten or more days in advance. These news organizations suggest that this document puts the lie to what I and other current and former intelligence officials have been saying—that there was little planning before the attacks.

But the only thing that newly released document proves is that the people who trot out these reports do not understand the world of intelligence and do not take the time to ask the right people the right questions before publishing the “news.” The DIA report in question was an “Intelligence Information Report” or IIR. It is what we term “raw intelligence.” It was not the considered view of DIA analysts. Often from a single source, these bits of information represent one thread that some intelligence collector has picked up. The all source analysts in the Intelligence Community are charged with looking at that snippet of information and every other bit of available information from communications intercepts, human intelligence, open source material and much more to come up with an overall judgment.

Those all source analysts—without any input or pressure from above—looked at all the available information and determined that there was not a significant amount of planning prior to the attacks. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can look at the briefing slides produced by the National Counterterrorism Center (which is not part of CIA) and coordinated across the Intelligence Community. These slides were declassified over a year ago and were appended to the report on Benghazi produced by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee. In describing the attacks at the State Department facility, the slides say “attackers moving in multiple directions,” “attackers do not appear well coordinated” and “no organized effort to breach every building.” Not the words one would expect to see associated with an attack planned well in advance.

But some people will never believe an analysis of all the available information if there's one person out there saying what they want to hear. Especially not if it gives them an avenue for attacking Hillary Clinton.
goslings  7
Check out OceanDiver's post.

Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) normally appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Saturday Spotlight can be seen here. More than 22,650 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

snake in woods
The Daily Bucket - Suspect Apprehended and Brought to Justice—by foresterbob: "I have mentioned in previous conversations that a large snake has been living in my basement. The snake itself had eluded observation, but there were plenty of pieces of shed skins to convince me that my basement had a nonpaying guest. All this would be fine, except that said guest is not potty trained, and sometimes the basement reeks of snake excrement. The way my basement is constructed—concrete blocks with brick veneer—led me to believe that the snake was finding its way in and out of the house with relative ease. Inside, the blocks are not sealed at the top. By burrowing underneath from outside the house, the interloper could, um, snake its way through the blocks and hang out in the safety of the basement whenever it chose to. [...] Suspect was charged with trespassing, failure to pay rent, littering, and disorderly conduct. Efforts to handcuff suspect were unsuccessful, as was the effort to fingerprint. Suspect excercised fifth amendment right to remain silent during the entire proceeding. [...] After a brief trial, suspect was found Probably Guilty, and was sentenced to freedom at a local park. Suspect was transported approximately one mile, to the opposite side of an Interstate highway and a busy city street, and released in a wooded area. Mug shots were taken. Suspect elected not to appeal, and disappeared into the woods."

So You Want To Control Global Population? Easy.—by LaFeminista: "A two step program: 1] Educate women. 2] Easy access to multiple forms of free birth control. In every country, even regions of rapidly expanding population [eg India] where women are educated and there are generally high literacy [eg Kerela] rates there are fewer children. In Kerela there is an average of 1.5 children per family. I don't believe you need laws and draconian programs. [...] It is obvious and I am not alone in this: Surveys in developing countries indicate that most women of childbearing age would like to increase the spacing between their pregnancies or stop having children altogether. There are 300 million couples in the developing world who do not want any more children but who are not using any effective means of limiting family size. [...] If women who do not want to become pregnant are empowered to exercise that choice, population growth rates in the developing world fall by about 30%. [...] By making family planning services universally available, providing financial incentives to allow women to realize their goal of a smaller family, and improving prenatal and infant health care and the education of women, the world's population can be stabilized."

You can find more excerpts from green diaries below the orange spill.

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Wed May 27, 2015 at 03:15 PM PDT

Cartoon: Ireland's rainbow

by laloalcaraz

Reposted from Comics by Barbara Morrill
Ireland's Same Sex Marriage vote this weekend was historic and happy news for gays & lesbians on the Emerald Isle. I believe the Supreme Court will decide this summer that a little rainbow in our lives is not a threat to anyone's marriage in the USA.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush listens to a question during an appearance at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs in Chicago, Illinois, February 18, 2015.   REUTERS/Jim Young  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4Q53V
Jeb Bush has tried valiantly to shake off his disastrous Iraq statements, including a lame attempt at deflection, sort of a "well, sure my brother screwed up, but it's so much worse under Obama because ISIS!" ISIS, he says, "didn't exist when my brother was president. Al Qaeda in Iraq was wiped out when my brother was president." Our own Jon Perr debunked that statement last week. Now Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post fact-checker, has followed suit, giving Bush four out of four Pinocchios, meaning there isn't even any room for debate how much he's lying about this.
The National Counterterrorism Center puts it this way: "Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and more recently the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), was established in April 2004 by long-time Sunni extremist Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi." The NCTC notes that Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006 and afterwards his successor announced the formation of the Islamic State.

As analyst Brian Fishman noted in a 2006 report for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, the announcement was made on Oct. 15, 2006—more than two years before Bush left office. (This paper, interestingly, was one of the reports that Osama bin Laden had on his bookshelf when he was killed by U.S. forces in 2011.)

"Unfortunately, almost everyone in Washington, including those of us that understood and emphasized the political shifts it had made, continued to use 'al-Qaeda in Iraq' as shorthand for the group because it was widely understood nomenclature among policymakers," said Fishman, who is now with the New America Foundation. "This was a mistake; I certainly regret conceding to convenience at the time."

Fishman added that although the term "ISIS" was not used until 2013, after the group captured territory in Syria, "the Islamic State of Iraq, declared in 2006, was intended to be a sprawling entity like the one we see today. That was its political purpose and ambition. Todays ISIS is the same organization, only stronger."

Oh, and that part about Al Qaeda being "wiped out" by his brother. Nope. Fishman points out that, "despite its setbacks, the ISI was one of the strongest terrorist groups in the world even at its weakest point after the Surge." At least that part of the the Iraq War history of his brother isn't going to be so easy to revise, not like the whole "mistakes were made," "faulty intelligence" canard.
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum addresses his Michigan primary night rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 28, 2012.  REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
Exxon Mobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson addresses reporters at a news conference at the conclusion of the Exxon Mobil Shareholders Meeting in Dallas, Texas May 27, 2009.  REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES BUSINESS) - RTXOO0T
'Gentlemen: To evil.'
ExxonMobil has a plan to deal with climate change. The plan is they're going to do whatever they want, and it sucks to be you.
The CEO of one of the world’s largest oil companies downplayed the effects of climate change at his company’s annual meeting Wednesday, telling shareholders his firm hadn’t invested in renewable energy because “We choose not to lose money on purpose.”

“Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity,” ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson told the meeting, pointing to technologies that can combat inclement weather “that may or may not be induced by climate change.”

Until Rex Tillerson sees a gadget that can prevent climate change by burning copious amounts of Exxon-provided oil, he ain't interested. It's up to the kids to adapt to not having a Florida, via technology and whatnot.

I do enjoy Exxon's continued commitment to being flat-out cartoon-villain evil. So much more refreshing than other energy companies' sporadic ad campaigns promising to maybe someday give a damn.

Carly Fiorina, Republican presidential candidate, looks on at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 23, 2015.   REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX1E82L
Carly Fiorina
Carly Fiorina hoped to get some attention for her Republican presidential candidacy, which currently has her polling in the low single digits, by taking her relentless attacks on Hillary Clinton to a press conference outside a hotel where Clinton was holding an event. But it seems like Fiorina may not have been ready for the press to notice the nakedness of this particular campaign stunt and the general all-Clinton-all-the-time nature of her campaign:
Ms. Fiorina insisted she had planned her trip here “many, many weeks ago, so perhaps she’s following me.” She said she had lots more to offer than merely Clinton-bashing: “Anyone who has sat through these avails over many months knows that I will take any question on any subject, and the vast majority of my speeches in front of anyone are about a host of issues.”

About 20 reporters and photographers circled her near a side entrance to the Marriott, leaning in to hear Ms. Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive who spoke softly, at times barely audible.

One reporter asked if she was here because of Mrs. Clinton.

“I planned to be here weeks and weeks ago!” she said. “I have a luncheon to go to, with the G.O.P. here.”

At this hotel?

“This trip has been on my itinerary for a very long time,” she said.

Yes, here I am, a Very Important Presidential Candidate, standing at the side entrance of a Marriott like I'd planned all along, to show that my campaign has substance beyond attacks on the Democrat who is, in a total coincidence, the only other woman in the race.

On the plus side for Fiorina, getting the attention of 20 reporters and photographers is probably a step up on quantity, even if the quality she offered them was low.

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