Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In Between Trips to Africa

Congratulations to Ian Grant McColm for graduating in the class of 2013 from Oberlin College. Keep Rocking in the Free World.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Casting Aspersions on my Asparagus*

**Louie Gohmert

++Hey, whose scandals are these? No Drama Obama better take ownership of them soon or people will forget they are his. 

1. Benghazi and Jon Karlgate. The big flap at the beginning of the week kicked off by Jon Karl's scoop ended with the interesting news that Republican staffers had doctored the e-mails on the Benghazi talking points, which had been fully disclosed to the congressional committees this past fall. President Obama rained on the parade by releasing them. Former Fox reporter Major Garrett stunned television viewers by providing full details on how they had changed and basically claiming Republicans were lying.

2. Compounding the GOP disaster was the open letter from Ambassador Pickering demanding to appear before Issa's committee to testify in public because his integrity had been challenged. Instead, today Issa issued a subpoena for Pickering and Admiral Mullen to appear behind closed doors.

3. Conservative representatives had an orgy over the IRS scandal today attacking the former acting director, who is retiring in early June. The problem is that the main culprit for the IRS snafu was an appointee of George W. Bush,who had been held over in the Obama administration because the Senate would not allow President Obama to nominate his own director.

4.The most serious scandal of the broad seizure of AP phone numbers has been met with a yawn by Republicans, except for a throaty defense of the First Amendment by John Boehner. The problem of the AP story is that it is the natural result of the surveillance state created after 9-11 and everything the Justice Department did was legal as far as we know. The strange note of Eric Holder recusing himself from the case because he was one of the objects of the investigation hides another odd fact that the administration pursued the leaker because of the demands of Republican Senators.

So, President Obama, take these scandals away from the Republicans! They had enough under the last administration. 

President Obama as Richard Nixon was the theme of the week. Also odd when you realize Roger Ailes of Fox News was key in creating the image of the New Nixon. Peggy "Martooni" Noonan wept that this was worse than Watergate. She even alluded to a Romney backer who had been audited--without telling the reader the donor was widely seen as corrupt. However in tonight's Washington Post, an op-ed by a historian recites all the presidential scandals going back to Nixon and says,"well,I don't think so" about the Obama-Nixon comparison. He points out that all second term presidents experience a wide-range of scandals in the second-term.

Rinse Penis of the RNC warned the GOP not to start talking about impeachment until the facts are in and if the Republican Party plays it right the American people will be for them. Heritage Foundation demanded that John Boehner stop any legislation and only concentrate on the scandals. As of today, 19 to the House 22 committees are now committed to investigating--well at least Benghazi and IRS but not so much the AP. 

I thought it was 40 Times Obamacare has been repealed. More conservative numbers have it 37. And last night I heard 39 times. At the cost of $52 million, what a bargain for such a futile effort.

Despite the air of scandal, it seems two clunky versions of immigration reform we amble their way into both the Senate and the House. A farm bill shuffles through the house and Obama's nominees are actually being approved.

Gallup is sensing the American people are not fixated on the scandals. I sense that the GOP has to keep this going until the Fall, when if lightening strikes they can make a bigger hue and cry out of this. So far it has only fueled the conspiracy freaks. 

The best Benghazi line I have heard is that President Obama had arranged with the Muslim Brotherhood to kidnap Ambassador Stevens but the plot went wrong. The idea would be to rescue Stevens to make Obama seem like a hero and then he would as part of the bargain release the blind Sheik.

The real story of Benghazi is actually interesting. Benghazi was a CIA station, which was holding Islamic militants captive, and that Ambassador Stevens and the CIA were involved in tracking down Qaddafi's surface to air missiles for use by the Syrian rebels. The details of the attack and CIA reactions to them are worth making public. 

So far President Obama has taken measures to clean up two of these messes and defends the third one--the AP subpoenas. Where it will go--who knows? But betting on Republicans acting intelligently is a loser's bet.

I am off to Africa and will be out of pocket for two weeks. Stay tuned for my return.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


++Eric Holder has his confrontation today with the car thief. A routine hearing that had a few sparks but no great revelations. The burning issue is when Holder said he recused himself from the AP case, but not in writing,does that make him responsible. Fredo Gonzalez earlier in the day backed up Holder's actions saying if the national security reasons were so important than AP could be investigated. Apparently the investigation was made with grand jury sanctions.

++The IRS acting commissioner resigned and President Obama promised reforms and the adoption of the IRS' own recommendations in a study. Heads will roll and Obama promised cooperation with Congress as long as they acted in a serious way. (I just made that up.)

++The White House released the e-mails on the Benghazi attacks. Think Progress has a good piece dissecting how the e-mails destroy the GOP talking points about a cover-up. John Boehner said the e-mails raised questions why the State Department didn't want Al Qaeda mentioned. From the e-mails, it is clear that they hadn't taken credit and the Administration didn't want to give the perpetrators any leads about what the U.S.knew or were up to.

++Dick Morris predicts Obama will be impeached.

++Since Ezra Klein said that we don't have to worry about deficits for ten years, the House GOP will repeal all of Obamacare tomorrow. The CBO wouldn't even waste the time scoring the bill. They stuck by their old statement that one year cost of repaying would be adding $100B to the deficit and that over ten years would add $1 trillion. My son had a free exam today thanks to Obamacare. Thanks Barack.

++The great debt ceiling crisis has been postponed until November as the government's financial situation improves. I predict it will be about December before it becomes year and slip into next year.

++There is a new farm bill in the Senate, the last one having been blocked by the House and costing small farmers millions during last year's drought. 

++The Left can decide whether Eric Holder should resign because he's not a civil libertarian but he did act aggressively to make sure minorities were not as suppressed as the GOP intended. The gripes against Holder are real--surveillance and monitoring of Occupy Wall Street,jailing of environmentalists, and wholesale busting of medical marijuana dispensaries in the West. Holder didn't pursue charges against officials from the previous administration.

++Congratulations Minnesota becoming the 12th state to legalize same sex marriage.

++President Obama has asked Senator Schumer to introduce a Shield Law to protect journalists from the AP type investigations. 

++All in all--a good day for an embattled President. Tomorrow he has a press conference.

Benghazi Mon Amour

++So besides the fact that Jon Karl got summaries of the Benghazi e-mails from a Republican staffer,the Miami Herald printed today an article that Ambassador Stevens personally turned down additional security for the embassy and the Benghazi consulate twice before his death. The embassy in mid-August had met and discussed the deteriorating embassy situation and was going to ask for security reinforcements. The military even got on the phone and asked Ambassador Stevens directly whether he wanted reinforcements to which he declined. Then later while Ambassador Stevens was in Hamburg he was directly asked by the responsible General about obtaining additional security and he declined again. Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mullens have agreed to testify before the Issa Committee to discuss their findings. The GOP can seem to figure out where to go with this. The RNC has out an ad out blaming Hillary Clinton for the debacle.

++Lawrence O'Donnell on the Last Word reminded everyone about the IRS law in 1959 about 501-C-4 status, which is now subject to controversy. The law said the groups had to be exclusively involved in social welfare. However, the internal regulations that evolved said primarily. The IRS has interpreted this arbitrarily ever since. For instance, the word "Party" would automatically flag the Tea Party applicants because of the nature of political parties. However, other categories in this case were arbitrary. The scandal is that none of these groups were turned down but their approval was delayed. We do to know if any were audited and the practice apparently ended last year. But the real story is that none of those involved in political campaigning should have been approved. But, naturally this will not be the issue in the surrounding controversy. All 45 GOP Senators have demanded President Obama cooperate with them in investigating the IRS, the big bugaboo for conservatives and the wealthy. John Boehner asks who will be jailed because of this. So far there is no evidence that the Obama Administration had anything to do with it. One of the reasons is because post-Watergate laws made it almost virtually impossible for a sitting President to target his enemies like Nixon.

++Washington Monthly has another interesting take on this. The application for this status is voluntary and doesn't have to be invoked until an organization's tax return is filed. With  the Citizens United case, the floodgates have opened with the IRS receiving 1,000s of applications for the status. In my opinion inappropriately. 

++The political effect of the IRS controversy is to draw the Tea Party conservatives back together with the establishment Republicans. The GOP wants to drag these issues out until the 2014 elections.

++For all the Beltway talk of a "game changer", the effect on the 2014 election is probably neutral since the polarization of the electorate is almost complete. The only element left up in the air is the turnout in 2014 and that usually favors the Republicans but as observers have pointed out the President usually doesn't lose two by-elections with large amounts. Gerrymandering has assured the GOP of the House ,in my opinion, until the next census. The Senate will come down to two-three seats.

++The net effect of these controversies is that Obama's range for maneuverability is narrowed. The GOP will continue to make efforts to repeal Obamacare and the immigration reform, however, jerks forward.

++The AP case is one that should concerned people. But, according to the post-9-11 laws, it looks totally legal but the zeal of the Administration to go after government sources is disturbing. Truthout has a sharp response to AP, criticizing it for neglecting the alternative press who have complained about these restrictions for years.

++CORRECTION: Last night I wrote that 39% of Republicans believe Benghazi was the worst cover-up in American history. Actually, it is 74% and 39% do not know where Benghazi is. But that should tell you how influential FOX news is.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Less Than Meets The Eye

++I hope President Obama's demeanor will serve him well during the overheated rhetoric about "his" scandals. Will the Benghazi, IRS and AP scandals morph into something real? Let's look at the tape.

++ Benghazi is a nothing burger left over from the Romney campaign and John Boehner is obsessed by it. He wants to have one large committee hold endless hearings on it. The "it" has been less than clear from the beginning. During the George W Bush years there were 64 attacks on American diplomatic missions with ten deaths. There were only three hearings. The point Republicans wanted to make during the campaign was that Obama was weak on terrorism and although he got bin Laden, when W failed to do so,Al Qaeda still posed a threat which he was ignoring. Like the rest of us, President Obama wants to hightail it out of dodge and make the Pacific Pivot before it is too late. Republicans are fixated on the war on terror and chronic intervention into the Middle East. Will the public actually buy into their story? Whenever they figured one out. 39% of Republicans believe this is the biggest scandal of American history. 31% can not identify where Benghazi is.

++The AP story. Appalling to me but perfectly legal. The laws implemented under the George W. Bush administration allow Justice to investigate reporters,news services, etc. without a subpoena. This administration has used this to quell whistleblowers. Ironically this particular investigation was requested in a letter by 25 Republican Senators who thought the administration was leaking materials to the press deliberately. Today, it seems the Republican Senators didn't seem so concerned with this "scandal".

++The IRS scandal is the most interesting because it is the opposite of what was originally reported. The IRS own investigation reports a bureaucratic mess trying to process the flood of non-profit requests after the Citizens United case. IRS letters for additional information were sent to Tea Party groups and Progressive groups alike. I even received a questionnaire on a 501-C-4 I applied for. The internal IRS investigation showed a delay in granting this status but none that were turned down. We have yet to receive any information about whether anyone had been audited. The question here is really that close to a $1 billion was spent on political campaigns when these non-profits were not to engage in political activity on behalf of any candidates. 

So far Crossroads America,Karl Rove's group, has not received its non-profit status. Rove himself admitted millions were funneled into the Romney campaign. That's a real scandal. Because Democrats are wary about engaging the real problems posed by these groups they are letting Republicans determine the debate. Scandal--there does not seem to be any direct Obama administration officials involved. 

The Republicans are trying to rev up the 1990s Clinton-era scandal machine. Right now I find it hard to believe they can get traction. Remember White Water, Hillary Clinton's commodities deal, the suicide of Vin Foster and the Clinton love affairs. In all of these a Clinton was involved in one form or another. So far Obama is missing from the equation even in an indirect way. But this hasn't stopped the GOP from ring after Obama on anything. 

My old executive assistant Jon Karl of ABC News thought he had a great scoop about the e-mails on Benghazi but today it turns out he hadn't read them--they were read to him and that they were not in fact what he reported. There are suspicions that Karl got them from a Republican source. My bet is a staffer from the ISSA hearings in order to gin up interest in them.

Some on the Left have argued that President Obama should act in a resolute manner by firing Eric Holder. The argument against Holder is that he led the charge to monitor Occupy Wall Street and environmentalists. Holder took the national security laws created by Bush and implemented them on steroids. There is more of a story on Holder than has appeared. But Holder has also been the target of House investigations about the death of a AFT agents in the Fast and Furious controversy. But again this program had begun under George W. Bush.

Politico tonight cheered the fact that official Washington is done with President Obama. Nate the Great Silver opines that these incidents erode trust in government and that this is problematic for President Obama because he depends on the public understanding the crucial role government plays in our lives. However, one liberal actually thinks this will turn out OK because Obama will need to rally his base and therefore can not alienate his base by reducing social security or Medicare. The AFL-CIO proclaimed all talk of a grand bargain is dead because of the fixation of the Republicans on scandal.

I would like to see Obama overcome the CIA's objection to the release of the 600 Senate report on the practice of torture under George W. Bush. McCain and Biden at a forum in Arizona agreed that should be done. There are Senators opposed to releasing it.

Meanwhile the CBO projects a deficit $200 billion then the one they had forecast. Also, President Obama program that took away student loans from the banks has netted the government more profits than Exxon Mobil. He is also the only President I remember who made any money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.Also for all the "Drill, Baby, Drill" crowd, oil production in the United States is on track to rival OPEC. One problem will be that the oil companies now want licenses to start exporting natural gas so prices might not decline as much as anticipated.

So far we have no Watergate, no Iran-Contra, no Beirut Marine barracks, even though the US finally killed the Iranian responsible. Whether the GOP can gin up hysteria and fear over these scandals remains to be scene. The public response from the Boston bombing suggests we aren't as afraid as we were and that the constant griping about Obama has taken its toll. 

But in this case, No Drama Obama may not be the best approach for the President to take. He must try and shut down these scandals before they actually erode his time in office endlessly answering questions about them. It was clear from his press conference with Prime Minister Cameron of the U.K. that he acts annoyed and somewhat removed from the various charges thrown at him. I think he should get more engaged and encourage supporters to fight back.

Benghazi and the Second-Term Blues

++For the last couple of weeks, the GOP has been trying out lines on how Benghazi is a scandal. With President Obama's approval rating among Republicans at 10-12%,the timing is just right for a move to Impeach. As I have said and written since President Obama was elected first in 2008 and now in 2012,the GOP must impeach him. The political wind is not going there way and they fear Hillary Clinton, a white woman, running against them in 2016. John Boehner has been obsessed by Benghazi since late November, privately convening committee chairpersons in the House, to focus on the incident. So far, many hours of testimony later it still is not clear what the story is ,other than a tragedy. The latest version is that talking points were re-written to exclude Al Qaeda and the notion that the attack on the facility--here we have some disagreement on whether it was the CIA safe house or the consulate. I sort of like re-writing talking points as an impeachable offense. It would represent as low as you can go. 

++Make no mistake the agenda is impeachment. Few remember that the impeachment of Bill Clinton never had more than 31% approval rating of the American people. But the base of the GOP didn't care and this time they would not pay such a high electoral price because of gerrymandering. 

++As if to make things the perfect storm, the IRS is caught in a complicated controversy for not approving the 501-C-4 status of tea party groups. The IRS scandal is one that brings Democrats on board to investigate. Coveniently forgotten is the IRS audit under  George W. Bush of the NAACP in 2004 and the cries in the first Obama term for an audit of ACORN by the self-same tea party groups. But this scandal will linger on as the IRS is also to be the instrument for enforcing the mandatory insurance requirement under Obamacare. 

++The potentially most lethal of controversies is the DOJ's seizure of notebooks and phone records of several AP reporters. This has ignited the furor of the entire media with AP claiming they will sue. The story seems to be that DOJ was investigating a story out of Yemen about a failed Al Qaeda plot and were looking for a source which they thought was a government whistleblower.

++The Benghazi flap has been defused by former Secretary of Defense Gates who claimed he would have done what the administration did and he chided the House GOP as having a clownish view of military force. Gates said the United States does not have a free-floating contingency force in the Middle East and the military was correct that they could not have reacted in time to prevent the deaths. He also said that the negotiation of talking points was an habitual process. In the case of Benghazi, the CIA made a tactical decision not to name Al Qaeda because they had not claimed credit and they did not want to tip off the group about American intelligence efforts. So they caved to the State Department's objections. 

++In another world, you would think the Obama Administration would get credit for immediately briefing the Senate on the incident and creating an Accountability Board headed by veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mullen. The board rather rapidly produced recommendations and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed her responsibility and adopted their recommendations. End of story in the reality-based world.

++However, the GOP was miffed because Mitt Romney violating the 9-11 agreement between the candidates not to talk about politics attacked President Obama as the news of Benghazi hit the news. However, the October Surprise didn't work and Romney flubbed his opportunity at the debate on foreign policy. The GOP still could not believe Romney lost so they now want to re-run the election with a rival of this incident.

++The GOP claimed they wanted to rebrand the Party after the election. But there is no indication they want to. Yesterday their new director of Hispanic Outreach resigned and became a Democrat because of what he called was intolerance. And the Heritage Foundation released a flawed report on Immigration Reform that claimed that Hispanics had a lower IQ. The author has since resigned and wrote his rebuttal to criticism on a white supremacy website. The GOP is also banking that the conservative SCOTUS will reverse the Voting Act so that they can continue their practice of voter suppression. Now they big problem remains--Hillary Clinton--the white woman. By default, she wins the African-American and Latino vote, and will erode the record high white vote for the GOP in 2012.

++So what better than to try and reclaim national security. In the last election the GOP failed to better Obama on national security and this is one of the last trump cards. So expect more Benghazi as the GOP tries to ease back on top in foreign policy and national security. As if to start the race, Karl Rove's Cross-Hairs America has the first attack ad for the 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul has already proclaimed that Hillary Clinton is disqualified for higher office because of Benghazi. 

++The advantage President Obama has in all of this is that the House doesn't work long hours. It only meets one-third of the year. So the House must run to start impeachment hearings before the 2014 campaign begins. To do this, they need some solemnity as if such a process is serious and deserved. And at the same time they must make the political calculus that they will not lose out like Republicans in the past did.

++President Obama also has the advantage in the nature of his adversaries. Rep. Issa has been gunning for the President since 2010 with the Fast and Furious investigation, the Sestak controversy (try and remember), and others. Issa stepped on his own investigation into Benghazi by scheduling the television broadcasts in competition for other breaking events. He also failed to call up Thomas Pickering or Admiral Mullen to testify while he claimed the White House prevented them from testifying. The problem here is that he said that in front of Ambassador Pickering  on a Sunday News show and got slapped down. After the televised hearings with the DCM of our Libyan embassy, he was asked on Fox News what new revelations came from his hearings. He said that President Obama was wrong in describing Benghazi as an act of terror because it was an act of terrorism--the distinction escapes me and I am sure millions of others.

++The problem as I see it is that the congruence of these three controversies might bring back a moral equivalence between the crimes of the GOP and the imagined crimes of President Obama. The GOP and the Tea Party types need no excuse in their hatred of the President. The new media fails to mention the GOP cutting $330 million from embassy security or its commitment to obstructing every single initiative of this President, an unprecedented record of an opposition party in the United States. Expect more of this ,not less. Marco Rubio stopped in it the other day by demanding the head of the IRS resign but neglected to mention that the GOP refuses to vote on the nominee for the IRS. 

++Meanwhile, the House is expected Thursday to repeal the entire Obamacare for the 40th time. The total bill for this effort has been $52million. This time the bill is sponsored by Michelle Bachman. With Minnesota voting to legalize same sex marriage,she has vowed that the end time is near and she might move to Montana. 

++As I have written, I only expect Immigration Reform from the second Obama term. While this is still on track, these mini-controversies will fuel efforts to block this legislation. Lindsey Graham is PO'd at an amendment which would allow gay couples to immigrate to the United States that he might pull the whole bill. As it looks, the time to wait for citizenship is too long. Utah GOP Senator Lee has made sure  gardeners, maids and valets will be allowed to be employed below the minimum wage. The House had started drafting its own which would be more draconian on immigrants. Nativism is running high. These controversies also allow the GOP to believe they do not have to come up with any policies because they believe the tide is moving in their direction. That should concern everyone since they have absolutely nothing in their holster.

++Meanwhile the war drums continue to beat as neoconservatives and their brothers demand intervention into Syria. Interestingly they do not demand a re-intervention into Iraq or an extension of time for withdrawal from Afghanistan. Instead we let those countries collapse into smaller civil wars than Syria.
Katherine Vander Heuvel, the owner of the Nation, has the right idea. We have to step up humanitarian aid to Syria but we also need a new discussion on how we are to be involved in countries with violent extremists. Sec of Defense Gates rightfully commented that we as the United States can not control the outcomes in these situations and should not be under the illusion we can. Katherine Vander Heuvel also said we can not begin this dialogue until the Sunday talk shows had other people on than John McCain and Lindsey Graham. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Whither the GOP?

++Senator Pat Toomey basically summed up the failure of his background check bill by saying the Republicans basically hated President Obama and would do nothing to assist him in getting anything he wants.

++Howard Dean thought the latest RNC ad criticizing President Obama for not leading was a loser and that politically when your approval rating is in the low 20s you can't run negative ads and expect any bounce. Howard, whom I have met several times in the last few years, is a shrewd and wise student of politics. In his conversation with Lawrence O'Donnell last night,he asserted that the GOP is deaf in hearing what the public wants or is interested in. Dean is supported by GOP operatives who deeply fear the party will fail to pass an immigration bill and will get behind the curve on gay rights. What Howard Dean didn't mention is that the next GOP presidential nominee will be running against a white person and not President Obama. Right now it looks like they might be running against a white woman and they haven't even addressed the women's issues.

++David Frum ,the creator of the Axis of Evil, thinks that the GOP will not go for "competence" or their governors next time. The reason for this is that the campaign against government means that the next nominee is unlikely to advocate for any role of government in our society except for defense. Frum points out that the 2012 elections showed that conservatives are a minority in this country now and that they will circle the wagons for someone they like and advocate their point of view even if they court defeat. With this in mind Frum looks at their younger stars in Congress--Senators Cruz, Rubio, Paul, and Paul Ryan. As he points out, none of them have any executive experience. Of course, historically,in my lifetime only two Senators ever made it to the White House without a stop in between--Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy.

++The Right-wing emails I get are relatively silent on national security issues, except for the incident in Benghazi. Instead, they have stepped up against abortion,immigrants and taxes. They are relatively silent on gay rights and same sex marriage. Instead,they relay opinions by Catholic Bishops on the latter with no comment. On gun rights the volume is over the top,advocating arming teachers and providing security forces for schools. The two new bugaboos surpassing San Francisco and New York City are Chicago and Philadelphia. Racism emerges with analyses of inner city problems.

++The Big 2014 campaign issues seem to be emerging--another run at Obamacare and promises to repeal it and linking immigration reform to another type of Obamacare. As President Obama pointed out in his press conference, 85% of those people already insured are enjoying the benefits of Obamacare like my family is. The Republican governors reluctance to extend Medicaid, which is the vehicle for insuring the poor,will be one problem but the insurance exchanges  will be solved,ironically by the national changes. The problem is that there is still vast ignorance of Obamacare by those very people who would most benefit from it. 

++The two aspects of the 2014 elections that benefit Republicans are the possibility of a lower turnout than the general election and the gerrymandering that preserves the House incumbents. Without changing their tune, Republicans might weather 2014 at a national level OK and might come close to taking the Senate. But they will have set them up for a Big Fail in 2016, which historically should be their turn.

++It is the first time in my lifetime that the GOP is genuinely a post-policy party. It virtually believes nothing and have no one capable of developing any sophisticated policy options for the serious problems the country faces. 

++On the culture wars, the GOP doomed itself by embracing the Religious Right and the Catholic Church. Younger people want tolerance and the majority of Americans favor same sex marriage, better gun control, immigration reform,medical marijuana, and abortion. That doesn't mean the phalanx of right-wing billionaires can't buy the election and massive voter suppression will not occur. But the thrill is gone. The GOP has maneuvered itself into a position at odds with the silent majority.

++The promise of the GOP governors has faded. Kasich, Corbett,Brownback,Snyder, Walker, Jindal,Scott and Haley now are drowning with approval ratings in the mid-30s at best. The Party has basically drummed out Chris Christie because he will not back away from his praise of President Obama's assistance on Hurricane Sandy.

++The overwhelming fear of grass roots Republicans is the demographic winter--the day whites will only be the largest plurality, not majority in the country. Expect them to throw up as many roadblocks for minorities in the next few years as they can. 

Friday's News

++The Dow has crossed 15,000 for the first time ever. The S&P hits 1,600.

++The economy added more jobs for nearly three straight years and unemployment is down to 7.5%.

++Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize same sex marriage. This means that all of New England has legalized same sex marriages. The significance of Rhode Island is that it is the most Catholic of all the states and it was passed by huge margins in both the Senate and the House.Colorado legalized civil unions. Delaware is expected to be the next state for same sex marriage. Minnesota and Illinois have bills to do the same.

++Colorado passed a bill to expand voter participation in elections. Ohio seeks to penalize universities for encouraging student voters.

++Maryland became the 18th state to outlaw the death penalty. 

++West Virginia adopted the expansion of Medicaid  required by the Obama healthcare overhaul.The Florida legislature adjourned without voting on Medicare expansion.

++South Carolina passed a law making it a crime to honor Obamacare. It is not clear that Nikki Haley will accept it.

++44% of Republicans believe that armed revolution might be necessary to "preserve our liberty".

++Over 70% of Republicans believe in the second coming of Christ and this belief is thought to be the major factor in the GOP believing that climate change is a hoax and there is no necessity in stopping it.

++The NRA is meeting in Texas and elected a new leader who believes the Civil War was an act of Yankee aggression and that training people to shoot is essential for protecting ourselves against the Government.

++The death toll from gun deaths after Newtown has reached 4,000. By the end of May, this number should surpass American casualties in Iraq.

++The oil and gas reserves in the Dakotas and Montana have been vastly underestimated by the Department of Energy. The issue of energy self-sufficiency is rapidly becoming moot. The geostrategic implications for this are enormous. The Pacific pivot came come sooner than we think.

++The sequester has resulted in a payment of $35billion on our national debt.

++Iraq has suffered its worst month since 2008. The country is rapidly descending into a civil war that the Irish Independent calls as worse than Syria.

++Col. Wilkinson, General Powell's former chief of staff,alleged on the Young Turks that the issue of the chemical attack in Syria was a "false flag operation by the Israelis". Wilkinson argued that the Netanyahu government was the most incompetent in Israeli history and that the country faced its worse situation geopolitically since its founding.

++Polls show that the overwhelming number of Americans oppose military intervention in Syria and in Iran.

++President Obama is in Mexico following up with last month's visit with President Prieto. The purpose is to discuss economic relations rather than security arrangements.

++Governor Howard Dean blasted the GOP as a bunch of gasbags who are self-destructing on the Last Word. Dean claimed that the Republicans seem determined to lose the House in 2014 and that there has not been any rebranding. He also predicted that immigration reform will not pass the House and this will doom the GOP chances in the future.