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U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) (L), along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R), speaks at a news conference after the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 3, 2015. The White House has said Pre
These two guys are moving toward a vote on Thursday of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.
Jordain Carney reports that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 is likely to pass this week:
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday that he expects an “overwhelming vote” on Thursday in favor of legislation that would allow Congress to review a nuclear deal with Iran.

Corker also said he believes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will file cloture on the bill and end debate, which could prevent the Senate from voting on a controversial amendment that would require Iran to recognize Israel as part of the deal.

“My sense is that cloture is going to be filed,” Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters. “My sense is that Thursday there's a very strong chance that we'll get an overwhelming vote.”

Corker's goal is to get a bill passed with strong bipartisan support. But "poison pill" amendments introduced by ultra-rightist senators could make it a useless exercise by stripping away Democratic support and leaving it open to a presidential veto that couldn't be overridden.

It's not known whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will choose to allow a vote on the amendment to mandate that any deal with Iran over its nuclear program must include Tehran's recognition of Israel. Thanks to the Democratic objections created by a parliamentary maneuver engineered last week by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to get that amendment voted on, many other proposed amendments are now destined for the dustbin as McConnell and Corker seek to hang onto support for the over bill. Of the 66 co-sponsors, 20 are Democrats. But passing the Israel recognition amendment and a few others would undoubtedly spur many of them to withdraw their backing.

Corker is working with the ranking committee Democrat Ben Cardin to come up with a manager's package of softer amendments. That approach is what led to the current form of the bill passing the Foreign Relations Committee by a unanimous vote, and to President Obama's reluctant decision to sign it.

Ali Gharib, an Iranian-American journalist who writes regularly on Iranian affairs, has posted an interesting background piece discussing how the fight over the review act has pitted some neoconservatives against other neoconservatives and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The wrangle, Gharib says, has isolated William Kristol and his protégé, Tom Cotton, on the matter of the amendments. While AIPAC and some neoconservatives would, of course, prefer a tougher bill, they've chosen a more pragmatic course, apparently believing the current diluted bill is better than none at all. Kristol and his pals would just as soon kill it.

Photo of man who supports obamacare at the supreme court in washington dc on 6/28/12.
The healthcare wonks putting the Affordable Care Act together back in 2009-10 had a lot of ideas about a lot of small, varied projects that could reduce healthcare spending. They tried one of them—accountable care organizations for Medicare, and based on the results so far, it's working really well. They saved $384 million in just two years.

The Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) concept is to test how to change the regular fee-for-service system we've always used in this country—you pay a certain amount to the provider for certain procedures—to a system that doesn't reward doctors or hospitals for the number of procedures they conduct, but for the results they achieve. If the participating hospitals provided care for Medicare patients at lower-than-expected costs, they get to keep 70 percent of the savings, and the remaining 30 percent goes back to the government. If the hospitals spend more than expected, they have to pay back the difference. It really appears to have worked, with $384 million saved. What's remarkable in that number is that just an initial 32 hospitals (13 dropped out after the first year) achieved those savings, about $300 per patient on average.

This wasn't because doctors skimped on care: quality metrics show that patients in and outside the Pioneer ACO program generally reported similar satisfaction rates. And in some ways, the Pioneers did better: patients in those programs reported more timely access to their doctors, perhaps because hospitals wanted to put more effort into preventing costly complications down the line.

The Pioneer ACO program was always meant as an experiment. Once it started, new hospitals couldn't join even as some participants dropped out. The Obama administration did launch other ACO programs in the meantime but they were generally less aggressive, with smaller rewards for the doctors who did the best (and, in tandem, smaller penalties for those who screwed up). And those programs really haven't saved much money at all, not nearly as much as the Pioneers.

With these new, positive results in hand, the Obama administration now says it wants to expand the Pioneer approach to other hospitals. And, of course they do: if they can deliver better care at a lower cost, that's pretty much delivering on the Holy Grail of health care right now.

How scalable this project is remains a big question. The hospitals that joined the program were larger and more advanced than the average, and thus had kind of a leg up in incorporating this new system. Spreading it to more traditional hospitals will likely be much more challenging, and the results probably aren't going to be as dramatic. There's also the possibility that savings at these rates aren't sustainable. The Pioneer ACOs have already claimed the low-hanging fruit for savings, like switching to generic drugs. But they're still spending less than they had been, and still saving Medicare money. It's a project definitely worth expanding.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
You know the standards for a political party have fallen considerably when indictments against some of a governor's top staffers and appointees for crooked doings is considered having a good day.
Gov. Chris Christie escaped a damaging blow to his 2016 presidential prospects on Friday when news of federal charges in the George Washington Bridge lane closure controversy were announced, conservative columnist George Will declared on Fox News Sunday this morning.

"It could have been a bad day for Mr. Christie," Will said. "It wasn't."

This is George Will we're talking about, of course, and George Will has been not right in the head for quite some time now. His formulation, however, is not unique. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has long been touted as resilient because even though the people sharing his office keep going to jail, he himself has escaped the handcuffs so far.

You or I might think that leading an office in which your chief confidants have ended up under indictment for stealing cash or causing dangers to public safety out of political spite would reflect rather badly on your character, but that is because you have not spent your career giving public tongue baths to liars and crooks. After a while, didn't get indicted begins to look like trophy-worthy material.

Last known photo of Tamir Rice before he was killed by Cleveland PD. Taken just a few weeks before his murder.
Tamir in a photo taken in the month before he was shot and killed by Cleveland police
Shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann of the Cleveland Police Department all the way back on November 22, 2014, 12-year-old sixth-grader Tamir Rice has still not been buried. This alone is a new crime all by itself. Even though the entire shooting was filmed and took less than two seconds, the so-called investigation into the shooting has carried on for a ridiculous six months.

According to family attorney Walter Madison, Tamir's family is waiting for the investigation to end so they will not be subjected to burying him and having to exhume his body from the ground for yet another medical examination. Via text, Madison pointed out: "The city of Cleveland knows that too. The delay incurs a daily $75 fee. To date, the outstanding expenses are $18k which at some point Samaria Rice would have to be obligated to pay. They talk nice and are apologetic but they are waging war of a different brand."

Beyond the fact that the shooting death of Tamir was traumatic, the artificial delay of this investigation is outrageous. They are acting as if key pieces of evidence or central witnesses are missing. They aren't. This investigation is not being delayed for any substantive reasons, but in an artificial attempt to cause public attention to die down.


Tue May 05, 2015 at 03:00 PM PDT

Cartoon: Toya Graham

by keefknight

Reposted from Comics by Barbara Morrill

Keef Comics, Twice a week!!  At Patreon!

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Ohio Governor John Kasich today signed an agreement that describes in broad terms how their two states will cooperatively build a new bridge over the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington. December 12, 2012.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed legislation in 2013 that has undermined reproductive health care for women in the state.
Abortion opponents have been laboring for years to reduce the number of abortions in this country by simply reducing the facilities where they are available. Now new data out of Ohio suggests that they are succeeding, effectively choking off access to abortions state by state. Tara Culp-Ressler reports:
According to records obtained by the Associated Press, the number of abortion providers in the Buckeye State has shrunk by half over the past four years. There were 16 providers in the state in 2011; since then, seven clinics have reduced their services or closed their doors altogether. An eighth clinic — the only abortion provider left in Toledo — is fighting to stay open, but remains at the mercy of court proceedings...

In 2013, Ohio pushed through a package of stringent abortion restrictions by attaching them to an unrelated budget bill. At the time, the anti-abortion groups in the state celebrated the passage of the legislation as “historic.” Among other things, that law includes a provision requiring abortion doctors to enter into unnecessary partnerships with local hospitals — an increasingly popular legislative strategy known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP — that’s making it difficult for providers to stay in business.

That anti-abortion package, signed into law by Gov. John Kasich, who is weighing a presidential run, also included a measure forcing women to get an ultrasound before terminating their pregnancy. It prohibited rape crisis clinics from providing abortion counseling to victims. And then there was this beauty.
If a woman is able to obtain an abortion in Ohio and develops some sort of medical issue during the procedure, clinics will no longer be allowed to transfer these patients to public hospitals for additional care. In the midst of a crisis, these patients must find a private hospital to help them.

Despite protests at the Ohio Statehouse last week, the new anti-abortion measures were approved when the governor failed to veto them. Kasich did manage to veto 22 other line-item measures.

Kasich's war against providing women with a full range of healthcare options will not be forgotten at the ballot box. Should he manage to win the GOP nomination, the governor's attack on women in his home state will become a central issue in the campaign.
Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by Jeff Singer
Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer
Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer
The May 19 Kentucky GOP gubernatorial primary may be one for the books. Last week, we learned that a blogger named Michael Adams was accusing state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of violently abusing his girlfriend in college, but he did not provide any evidence. Comer denied the allegations and threatened legal action after it was revealed that Adams had been in communication with primary rival Hal Heiner's campaign. It looked like Heiner was part of a smear campaign that was about to backfire ... until Monday night. Marilyn Thomas, who says she dated Comer in college in the early 1990s, wrote a letter to the Courier-Journal claiming that Comer physically and mentally abused her, and took her to get an abortion.

Thomas says that a paper proving the abortion took place is in a bank lockbox that she doesn't have immediate access to, but Thomas's college roommate is backing up her story. The roommate recalls that Thomas would frequently return home with bruises, and that Thomas would always claim they were from accidents. Thomas's mother also says that Comer once called her home one morning and "he said something about your daughter's going to be killed. ... It was something like that." However, Comer's old college roommate says that he never saw any abusive behavior from the candidate at all.

Comer's camp is denying everything, and his lawyer is promising a "devastating lawsuit" against the Courier-Journal. In a Tuesday press conference, Comer denied all of Thomas's allegations and said that "[a]ll legal options are on the table." Needless to say, this is an ugly situation and there's no way to know what will happen next. But it's safe to say that one way or another, this story will define the final two weeks of the race between Comer, Heiner, and tea partying businessman Matt Bevin.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Of all the Republican presidential candidates, Rand Paul really gets where black Americans are coming from. That's what Rand Paul says, anyway. He understands what black American men are facing vis-a-vis this whole business of being killed by police officers for curious or unexplained reasons. He gets that the criminal justice system we all rely upon can be, for some, dangerously unfair.
The justice system must be reformed, Paul said, because people can be falsely convicted. [...] Paul pointed to the case of Richard Jewell, who was accused of the Atlanta Olympic bombings in 1996.

"If Richard Jewell had been a black man in south in the 1920s he wouldn't have lived the rest of the day," Paul said.

I'm not sure if Paul is trying to make the case that racial prejudice in our justice system is at least better than it was in the southern states in the 1920s, but that seems a low bar even by Republican Presidential Candidate standards. No matter, that's not where Paul will be going with this.
"Bias because of color, because you're Jewish, or because you're an Evangelical Christian, or because you teach your kids at home. You can be a minority for a variety of reasons," he said.
Sure, but American police forces aren't exactly gunning down homeschoolers on the streets or chokeholding Evangelicals to death over a few loosies under the fear that the Christian would otherwise be able to summon their holy Jesus powers to throw off all the other officers in a fit of superhuman rage, so it's not quite the same, now, is it. If the summary execution of black Americans and the progress we've made on that since the 1920s (sigh) is just a lead-up to pointing out the horrible outrages suffered by the Judeo-Christian Base(TM) during their daily lives, that's a hell of a denouement.

(To be charitable, there are probably fifty times more homeschooling Americans for Rand Paul than there are black Americans for Rand Paul, so Paul was likely just trying to explain the Baltimore and Ferguson and New York and Cleveland and so on shootings in a way that his own supporters could understand and get riled up about.)

This is pretty much where Rand Paul is at, in the modern debate over violent police tactics and systemic prejudices in law enforcement. He's willing to boldly give the audience a few sentences about how these things are bad, but then quickly wanders off again lest anyone think he'll be offering up ideas on what to do about it—sometimes with a joke about how at least his train doesn't stop in those rotten places, other times with an "and that's why this is like homeschooling" message patched on in order to reassure his audience that no, of course he doesn't consider any of that more important than whatever petty insults they may face.

For this he is considered the boldest candidate, if not downright inspirational, if not a dangerous anarchic force in his party. He's just so in touch, you know?

Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by Jeff Singer
U.S. Senator John McCain speaks during a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Kabul January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX16ZTP
Republican Sen. John McCain
PPP surveys both the GOP primary and general elections in Arizona, and let's just say they don't exactly bring good news for John McCain.

McCain, who is seeking a sixth term, has never had a great relationship with his party's base, and he posts a terrible 41-50 approval rating with GOP primary voters. So far McCain doesn't have a credible intra-party challenge, but PPP takes a look at a few hypothetical matchups. While McCain's ahead in all of them, his leads are not robust:

• 40-39 vs. Rep. David Schweikert

• 42-40 vs. Rep. Matt Salmon

• 44-31 vs. state Sen. Kelli Ward

• 48-27 vs. 2014 gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones

It's never a good sign for an incumbent to be far from 50 percent against lesser-known primary opponents, especially when a majority of your own party's voters already say they don't like you.

Still, there are a few problems for anti-McCain Republicans. Arizona doesn't have a runoff, so if two or more notable candidates go up against the incumbent, they could split the vote enough to secure him renomination with just a plurality. Ward hasn't committed to anything but she has formed an exploratory committee, and she might not be willing to get out of the way if a stronger contender gets in.

What's more, she's also barely known (she has a 12-15 statewide favorable rating) and she hasn't exactly impressed well-funded conservative groups who'd like to unseat McCain. (Last year, Ward held a hearing focusing on whether non-existent "chemtrails" are poisoning the air, an idea that's only embraced by conspiracy theorists.) Ward simply might not be strong enough to beat even a weak McCain, who is still a formidable campaigner.

In a perfect world for anti-McCain forces, Ward would stay out and Salmon would get in. After spending months showing little interest in taking on the incumbent, Salmon has started to change his tune a bit, recently telling The Hill "I'm not saying that I'm in. I'm not saying that I'm not in." Salmon, who served as the GOP's unsuccessful 2002 gubernatorial nominee, already has a healthy 40-12 favorability score with primary voters, but who knows if he'll actually run.

Head below the fold for more.

Continue Reading
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (L) and Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stand together during a ceremony to present Golf legend Jack Nicklaus with the Congressional Gold Medal “in recognition of his many contributions to the game of golf and his
Minority Leader Harry Reid is promising to give ol' Mitch "filibuster" McConnell a taste of his own medicine on the trade deal McConnell hopes to push through. Not so fast, says Reid, who first wants to see action on an infrastructure funding bill and reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Ryan Grim and Jennifer Bendery have the details.
"We have two very complicated issues that I think should have strong consideration before we even deal with trade," Reid said in an interview with The Huffington Post, referencing the two measures that are set to expire unless the Senate takes action.

Reid said he has spoken with his leadership team and is confident Democratic senators will stick together to demand the two bills be dealt with before moving to approval for trade promotion authority or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "I'm not willing to lay over and play dead on trade until we have some commitment from them on surface transportation," he said.

Reid said the same about the FISA surveillance policy, which McConnell hopes to extend for five years in its current form.

Reid is racing to beat the clock on both FISA and highway funding, which expire on June 1 and May 31, respectively. Meanwhile, McConnell needs the help of Democrats to reach the 60 votes necessary to advance the trade deal, which still divides them.

Though the trade deal has formed an unlikely alliance between President Obama and his usual Republican detractors, it still faces stiff opposition in the House. Speaker John Boehner has failed to amass enough GOP votes to give Obama "fast-track authority," which would commit Congress to taking an up or down vote on the deal the president negotiates without amending it.

“Another point you should keep in mind is that every Democrat leader in the House and Senate are opposed to giving the president what he’s asking them,” Boehner said. “The president needs to step up his game in terms of garnering more support amongst Democrats, especially here in the House.”

1:01 PM PT: UPDATE: Weigh in against fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal by signing our petition today.

  • Today's comic by Jen Sorensen is Texas takeover:
    Cartoon by Jen Sorensen -- Texas takeover
  • Soooooo sad. Top 25 hedge fund managers earned more than $11 billion last year, but it was one of their worst years ever:
    Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, which conducts the annual hedge fund pay survey, described the earnings as “paltry” despite their collective personal earnings being more than the gross domestic product of Nicaragua, Laos or Madagascar.

    “How bad was [2014]?,” Alpha magazine said. “The 25 hedge fund managers on our 14th annual Rich List made a paltry $11.62bn combined, barely half of the $21.15bn the top 25 gained the previous year and roughly equal to what they took home during nightmarish 2008.

  • 3rd-graders aren't learning cursive, but maybe robots will:
    For Military Appreciation Month, KIND Snacks has partnered with robot-printing tech startup Bond to transform your thank-you tweet to a U.S. military member or veteran into a personal, handwritten note. Bond's handwriting robots will transcribe any military thank you with the hashtag #thankskindly.
  • These Daily Kos community posts were the most shared on Facebook May 4:
    Now Tell Me There's No GOP War On Women!, by Eyesbright

    9 Reasons Most Conservatives Are Not 'Christian', by Jerry Nelson

    Officers Charged in Gray Case Get Lower Bail Than Rioters, by ExpatGirl

  • Apparent road rage spurs attack with sword and flail.
  • Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter laments that superheroines aren't money-makers: Thanks to a Wikileaks release uploaded from the Sony hacking, an email from CEO Ike Perlmutter noting that movies about the popular comic characters Catwoman, Electra and Supergirl were financial disasters has become public. But Laura Berger at Women in Hollywood points out:
    Thirdly, as the source, Oh No They Didn't, correctly points out, a list of "Male Movies" that did poorly at the box office could just as easily be compiled—"Green Lantern," "The Lone Ranger," "Superman IV," and "Daredevil," to name a few. These movies were based on very popular male characters and failed spectacularly, yet no mention of them is being made, and we've certainly never heard anyone attribute their lack of success to the fact that they focused on male characters.

    We're totally unsurprised by Perlmutter's mentality, which is all too common in Hollywood: male-centric movies that fail are treated as anomalies, whereas female-centric movies that fail are designated as failures on account of the gender of the protagonist.

  • Talking Edison dolls from the 1890s are still as  creepy as when they were made.
  • Ellen Albertini Dow, rapping granny in The Wedding Singer dead at 101:
    Born in Pennsylvania in 1913, she studied dance and piano as a child before moving to New York, where she pursued acting. In addition to performing comedy in the Borscht Belt and directing stage productions, she also worked with mimes Marcel Marceau and Jacques LeCog in Paris. She later moved to California, teaching drama at Los Angeles City College and Pierce College, where her husband Eugene Dow founded the theater program.

    She landed her first on-screen credit in the 1980s when she was in her 70s, and she went on to act in films like Patch Adams, Sister Act, and Wedding Crashers. Perhaps best known for her role in The Wedding Singer, her performance of “Rapper’s Delight” appeared on the film’s soundtrack, which went double platinum and made the Billboard Top 5.

  • Briny water may exist—now—on surface of Mars:
    Data collected on Mars by NASA's Curiosity rover and analyzed by University of Arkansas researchers indicate that water, in the form of brine, may exist under certain conditions on the planet's surface.

    The finding, published in the May 2015 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, is based on almost two years of weather data collected from an impact crater near the planet's equatorial region.

  • On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin on Fiorina's launch and webFAIL. New polls: race, Hillary and 2016 field. Charlie Hebdo vs. Garland, no comparison. Kinloch follow-up. Wienerschnitzelpalooza! The benefit corporation revolution, from citisven, h/t: where4art!

Daily Kos Tee Shirt Store - Orange Flag Guy footer
Allowing citizens to register to vote on Election Day is a smart idea that boosts turnout and makes things easier for the most mobile Americans. It has been tested for problems for decades in the pioneering states of Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Fraud is almost non-existent and implementation costs are minimal. And Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jon Tester (D-MT) want it to be a nationwide practice. To that end they have reintroduced the Same Day Registration Act, an amendment to the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Jordain Carney reports:
“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy," [Klobuchar] said in a statement. "We should be doing everything we can to foster this right."

Tester added that the legislation could help combat "voter disenfranchisement."

"States that continue to deny folks access to the polls on Election Day are fueling voter disenfranchisement,” Tester said. “Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy and we should make every effort to increase voter participation and allow more folks to have a say in their representation.”

Quite right. We should make every effort. Not allowing people to register to vote on Election Day suppresses turnout.

Currently, the majority of states impose a registration deadline as much as 30 days before an election. But, starting in the mid-70s, 13 states and the District of Columbia have passed Election Day registration laws, although three have not yet implemented them. In addition to the three pioneers and D.C., Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire and Wyoming have implemented the reform. Three other states have passed it and will soon implement it—California (2016), Hawaii (2016) and Illinois (June 2015). Two other states, North Carolina and Maryland, have passed same-day registration during early voting, but not for Election Day itself.

Bills proposing the reform were introduced in 17 other states in the past two years, but none passed. Some never emerged from committee.

Why does this matter? Find out below the fold.

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