Republican Super-PAC Attacks Trump Because He's Creepy About His Daughter

| Tue Nov. 24, 2015 11:28 AM EST

New Day for America, a super-PAC supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich, one of the back-of-the pack GOP presidential contenders, has a bold new plan to take down front-runner Donald Trump: tell Iowa voters how creepy he is. The group posted a web ad on Tuesday that mocks Trump for, among other things, saying of his daughter, while sitting next to her on national television, "If Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her."

Of all the Republican wannabes, Kasich took the lead in the last debate in assailing Trump, noting that Trump's plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants was nutso. But Kasich's verbal punches did not land, and, so far, it's tough to see him as the guy to dethrone Trump—and there's not much evidence to date that a YouTube clip like this will persuade Trump fans that he's too weird to be president.

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Turkey Shoots Down Russian Jet

| Tue Nov. 24, 2015 11:18 AM EST

Turkey shot down a Russian jet today. Since Vladimir Putin is a real leader, not the featherweight we have here in America, I'll bet he made it crystal clear what price Turkey would pay for this. Let's listen in:

Certainly, we will analyze what's happening very seriously, and today's tragic event will have serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations. We have always treated Turkey as not just a close neighbor, but as a friendly state. I don't know in whose interests today's incident is, but it's not in our interest. And instead of immediately establishing the necessary contacting us, the Turkish authorities immediately their NATO partners, as if we downed a Turkish jet.

How....very Obama-like. But we'll see what happens. This intervention just keeps getting worse and worse.

5 People Shot at Black Lives Matter Protest in Minneapolis

| Tue Nov. 24, 2015 10:21 AM EST

Update, November 25, 7:50 a.m. EST: A third man is now in custody. The Star Tribune reports the three suspects are Allen Lawrence "Lance" Scarsella III, Nathan Gustavsson, and Daniel Macey. Police say the Hispanic man arrested earlier in the day was released after officials determined he was not at the scene of Monday's shooting. 

Update, November 24, 2:28 p.m. EST: Police have arrested two suspects in connection to Monday night's shooting in Minneapolis. The Guardian reports the two suspects are a 23-year-old white man and a 32-year-old Hispanic man.


The police are searching for three gunmen who reportedly shot five people during the continued Black Lives Matter demonstration in Minneapolis on Monday, where demonstrators are protesting the November 15 killing of an unarmed black man by the police.

Officials say the victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

A witness told NBC News that the gunmen arrived at the scene "yelling and being aggressive and it was obvious they were here to antagonize and confront people." At least one of the suspected gunmen was seen wearing a mask.

Black Lives Matter protester Miski Noor told the Star Tribune that the group was attempting to escort the men away from the demonstration, when gunfire broke out. On Facebook, the activist group described the gunmen as "white supremacists."

"I don't want to perpetuate rumor," Rep. Keith Ellison, whose son has been participating in the protests, said in response to Monday's shooting. "I'd rather just try to get the facts out. That's a better way to go. I know there's a lot of speculation as to who these people were. And they well could have been, I'm not trying to say they weren’t white supremacists. But I just haven't been able to piece together enough information to say with any real clarity."

Monday marked the eighth night of ongoing protests for Jamar Clark, the 24-year-old black man who was fatally shot by the police earlier this month. On Sunday, the Department of Justice announced it was opening a federal investigation looking into Clark's death.

In the wake of Monday's violence, Clark's family has called for an end to the protests.

"Thank you to the community for the incredible support you have shown for our family in this difficult time," Clark's' brother Eddie Sutton said in a statement released on Tuesday morning. "We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful. But in light of tonight’s shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step."

Both a school walkout and march are still planned to take place as scheduled today.

Turkey Just Shot Down a Russian Warplane Near the Syrian Border

| Tue Nov. 24, 2015 8:54 AM EST

Update, November 24, 3:00 p.m. EST: Speaking at a press conference from the White House on Tuesday, President Obama responded to the situation by saying Turkey had the right to defend its airspace. But he pressed the two countries to abstain from escalating tensions. While expressing solidarity with Turkey at an emergency meeting, NATO also echoed the president's call to calm.


A Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday, after Turkey says the Russian aircraft ignored several warnings that it was violating the country's airspace. The Kremlin denies that its warplane crossed into Turkish airspace.

The two pilots inside were seen ejecting themselves from the SU-24 plane. Their whereabouts were still being officially determined. A Syrian rebel group claims to have found one of the pilots badly wounded. The group told Reuters the pilot was dead.

In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the incident was a "stab in the back" that would render "very serious consequences" for relations between the two countries. He also accused Turkey of being "accomplices of terrorists."

"Neither our pilots nor our jet threatened the territory of Turkey," Putin said before a scheduled meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan. "This is obvious. They are fighting terrorists in the northern areas around Latakia, where militants are located, mainly people who originated in Russia, and they were pursuing their direct duty, to make sure these people do not return to Russia."

"These are people who are clearly international terrorists."

A NATO official told CNN that the group has called an emergency meeting for later today to discuss the downing of the Russian aircraft.

More Than 100,000 People Have Signed a Petition to Oust the DEA Chief

| Tue Nov. 24, 2015 6:00 AM EST

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for the ouster of Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Roseberg after he flatly rejected the idea that smoking marijuana could have medical benefits. "What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal—because it's not," Rosenberg said during a press briefing earlier this month. "We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don't call it medicine—that is a joke."

In response, a petition with more than 106,000 signatures is calling upon President Barack Obama to "fire Chuck Rosenberg and appoint a new DEA administrator who will respect science, medicine, patients, and voters."

Rosenberg is clearly wrong, yet it's not entirely inaccurate to call medical marijuana a joke—in California at least.

Roseberg need not look far to find reputable studies documenting the medical value of marijuana, even in its whole-plant, smoked form. As Vox's German Lopez points out, a comprehensive review in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that pot can effectively treat chronic pain and muscle spasticity.

Still, it's not entirely inaccurate to call medical marijuana a joke—at least in California, the state with the nation's most lax medical marijuana law. When I visited a "marijuana doctor" in San Francisco a few years ago, it took me less than 15 minutes to get a pot card for—wait for it—"writer's cramp." Meanwhile, my wife waited for days before being denied a pot recommendation from our HMO, Kaiser Permanente, despite suffering from a flare-up of actual arthritis. While she sat at home popping Advils, I headed to the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo, where my card got me into a "patient consumption area" staffed by busty women in tight-fitting nurse outfits and a dispensary worker with a nametag that read, "Dr. Herb Smoker, MD."

But that sort of irony wasn't what Rosenberg was talking about. He seems to believe that because marijuana is popular as a recreational drug, it can't  also be real medicine. Clearly, Dr. Herb Smoker isn't the only medical professional who disagrees.

An Incomplete Catalog of Donald Trump's Never-Ending Fabrications

| Tue Nov. 24, 2015 1:00 AM EST

There's a legal term applied to advertising called "puffery." For example, if Coca-Cola says Coke is the best-tasting soda in the world, that's just puffery. They can't prove it, but that's okay, even if polls show that most people prefer Pepsi. Legally, statements like this are evaluated not as strictly factual claims, but as mere ordinary boasting, something that "ordinary consumers do not take seriously."

The same concept applies to politics. Presidential candidates always say their tax plans will balance, they'll crush every one of our enemies, and the current incumbent is the worst ever in history. This is just puffery. It's worth pushing back on, but it's not generally a hanging offense.

But Donald Trump is different. Sure, his picture is probably in the dictionary next to the word "puffery," but he also tosses out wild howlers with a con man's breezy assurance and tells flat-out lies as a matter of routine. He'll say things one day, and 24 hours later he'll blandly insist he's being malignly misquoted even though it's all on tape. These aren't just exaggerations or spin or cherry picking. They're things that are flatly, incontrovertibly wrong.

And that's not all. Trump doesn't do this only in private or only when he's under pressure. Nor does he do it to cover up dubious past deeds. That would at least be normal human weakness. Rather, he does it again and again in front of huge crowds and on national TV, whether he needs to or not. It's just his normal, everyday behavior.

We need an official list of this stuff. Like I said: not exaggerations or spin or cherry picking. Things that are just plain wrong. Here's a start:

  1. On 9/11, he personally saw thousands of Muslims in Jersey City cheering.
  2. He never said Marco Rubio was Mark Zuckerberg's "personal senator."
  3. There are actually 93 million people not working and the real unemployment rate is about 40 percent.
  4. The Obama administration is sending Syrian refugees to red states.
  5. Climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.
  6. He opposed the Iraq War and has dozens of news clippings to prove it.
  7. Thirteen Syrian refugees were "caught trying to get into the U.S." (Actually, they just walked up and requested asylum.)
  8. He never said the stuff Megyn Kelly accused him of saying in the first debate.
  9. He will allow guns at Trump golf resorts.
  10. People on the terrorism watch are already prohibited from buying guns.
  11. Among white homicide victims, 81 percent are killed by blacks.
  12. America has the highest tax rate in the world.
  13. CNN lied when it reported that a speech he gave in South Carolina was one-third empty.
  14. His criticism of Ford prompted the company to move a factory from Mexico to Ohio.
  15. Vaccines cause autism.
  16. The Obama administration wants to admit 250,000 Syrian refugees.
  17. ISIS built a luxury hotel in the Middle East.
  18. He was on 60 Minutes with Vladimir Putin and "got to know him very well."
  19. He was never interested in opening a casino in Florida.
  20. November 17: The United States only started bombing ISIS oil fields "two days ago."
  21. His campaign is 100 percent self-funded.
  22. Mexico doesn't have birthright citizenship.
  23. The Iran deal forces us to "fight with Iran against Israel" if Israel attacks Iran.
  24. We still "really don't know" if Barack Obama was born in the United States.
  25. More than 300,000 veterans have died waiting for VA care.
  26. The Bush White House begged him to tone down his "vocal" opposition to the Iraq War.

This is not normal political hucksterism. It's a pathological disregard for the truth. Trump knows that the conventions of print journalism mostly prevent reporters from really calling him out on this stuff, and he also knows that TV reporters won't usually press him too hard because they want him back on their shows. And when he does get called out, he just bluffs his way through. He knows his followers will believe him when he says the fault-finding is just another example of how the liberal media has it out for him. Within a day or three, he's repeated the lie often enough that it's old news and enters the canon of what "everyone knows." Journalists don't even bother with it anymore because they're already trying to play catch-up with his latest whopper.

Anyway, this list is meant only as a start. It's what I came up with just by digging through my memory and doing a bit of googling. I'm sure there are plenty of others. Feel free to add them in comments.

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This Judge Just Condemned Wisconsin's Abortion Law as Unconstitutional. Read the Withering Ruling.

| Mon Nov. 23, 2015 9:38 PM EST

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that a Wisconsin law requiring abortion providers to gain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals is unconstitutional.

The law that was struck down is known as a TRAP law—short for "targeted regulation of abortion providers." According to the Guttmacher Institute, Wisconsin is one of 11 states that have required similar admitting privileges. (Courts have blocked these requirements in six of those states.) The law is particularly effective in conservative regions where hospitals are less likely to grant those privileges to abortion providers. The law's supporters say the law ensures continuity of care if complications arise from the procedure. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that less than one half of 1 percent of all abortions involve major complications.

The 2-to-1 decision comes at a time when the constitutionality of TRAP laws are in question nationally. Just over a week ago, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to Texas' "HB 2," which decreased the state's number of abortion clinics from 41 to 18 by implementing a host of TRAP laws. The ruling, due next year, will be the most notable reproductive rights ruling since Roe v. Wade.

Judge Richard Posner, writing for the 7th Circuit majority, stated that the regulation qualifies as an "undue burden" and that the medical grounds for such a requirement is "nonexistent." Posner also had some words for abortion foes: "Opponents of abortion reveal their true objectives when they procure legislation limited to a medical procedure— abortion—that rarely produces a medical emergency."

Posner—nominated by President Ronald Reagan—is known for his tart legal arguments, as we've noted previously. This case is no exception:

A great many Americans, including a number of judges, legislators, governors, and civil servants, are passionately opposed to abortion—as they are entitled to be. But persons who have a sophisticated understanding of the law and of the Supreme Court know that convincing the Court to overrule Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey is a steep uphill fight, and so some of them proceed indirectly, seeking to discourage abortions by making it more difficult for women to obtain them. They may do this in the name of protecting the health of women who have abortions, yet as in this case the specific measures they support may do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion. This is true of the Texas requirement, upheld by the Fifth Circuit in the Whole Woman's case now before the Supreme Court, that abortion clinics meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers—a requirement that if upheld will permit only 8 of Texas's abortion clinics to remain open, out of more than 40 that existed when the law was passed.

Carson Joins Trump Idiocy About Jersey City, Then Backs Away

| Mon Nov. 23, 2015 6:09 PM EST

The latest from la-la land:

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson joined GOP rival Donald Trump in claiming that he, too, saw news footage of Muslim-Americans cheering as the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001 — despite the fact that no such footage has turned up yet. "I saw the film of it, yes," Carson told reporters at a Monday campaign event, adding that it was documented by "newsreels."

Newsreels? What is this? 1943? But wait. We have breaking news via Twitter from Jon Karl of ABC News:

@RealBenCarson spox Doug Watts: Carson was mistaken when he said he saw film of Muslims celebrating on 9/11 in Jersey City...."He doesn't stand behind his comments [on] New Jersey and American Muslims," Watts told ABC's @KFaulders...."He was rather thinking of the protests going on in the Middle East and some of the demonstrations" there on 9/11.

This is nuts. These guys are trying to put the Onion out of business for real. "We have investigated and discovered that East Jerusalem is not on the Hudson River after all." But hell, at least Carson is willing to admit his error. One brownie point for that—though it does raise some questions about his vaunted memory. Trump will continue to insist forever that he saw it, and his supporters will continue to believe him because you can never trust the mainstream media, can you? They're always covering up for Jersey City's Muslim community.

Planned Parenthood Launches Texas Legal Offensive to Fight Funding Cuts

| Mon Nov. 23, 2015 5:27 PM EST
Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards gives a high five to a supporter at a rally in Texas.

Planned Parenthood announced on Monday that it's suing Texas officials for stripping the organization of Medicaid funding, saying that the decision unfairly singles out Planned Parenthood and prevents women from accessing their chosen medical provider in violation of federal law.

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, said the federal lawsuit aims to protect the 13,500 women on Medicaid who go to the organization for health care services. Ten patients also joined the lawsuit, all of whom are currently covered by Medicaid and would have to go elsewhere for health care unless the lawsuit is successful.

In October, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blocked Medicaid funding for the organization, citing safety concerns brought to his attention following the release of the now-infamous (and widely discredited) videos showing some of Planned Parenthood's staff discussing fetal tissue donation. Three days later, state officials also subpoenaed Planned Parenthood for the medical records of patients who donated fetal tissue in the past five years, in an attempt to find criminal activity. A Planned Parenthood representative called the move "unprecedented" and denied any wrongdoing on the part of the organization.

Texas is one of a handful of states that have taken aim at Planned Parenthood over its fetal tissue donation, a practice that is legal in the United States. Arkansas, Utah, and Alabama have also tried to cut Medicaid funding to the group, despite a warning from the Obama administration that doing so could violate federal law. In October, a federal judge blocked Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's attempt to defund Planned Parenthood in the state, saying the move would cause "irreparable harm" to the 5,200 women who depend on the organization for health care.

Many states have also launched investigations in the organization, though none so far have found any wrongdoing.

"Texas is a cautionary tale for the whole nation," Richards told reporters this morning. "Officials who oppose women's health may think they can bully us out of providing care for our patients, but we will not back down, and we will not shut our doors."

Americans Both Love and Hate Government

| Mon Nov. 23, 2015 4:25 PM EST

Pew Research once again shows us that Americans are hopelessly confused. Do they distrust government? You bet! Only 19 percent say they trust the government most or all of the time.

Does the government do a good job? Hell n—wait, what? Majorities think the government is doing a pretty good job in almost all areas—including keeping the country safe from terrorism. In fact, the only two areas that get a low score are immigration and poverty.

So why all the distrust? I haven't read the whole report yet, so I don't know what ideas they have. Maybe I'll do that later tonight. Basically, I just think this shows once again that Americans are schizophrenic. They hate education but love their local schools. They hate Congress but love their local member. They hate the government but....yeah, it's actually doing a decent job. The French may have a problem governing a country with 246 kinds of cheese, but what do you do about Americans? You could always just ban a couple hundred kinds of cheese if you really wanted to, but how do you get Americans to adopt some kind of coherent view of how they want to be governed?