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Published: Tue, 21 Feb 2017 03:25:34 +0000

Last Build Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2017 03:25:34 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



Trump calls CNN 'the enemy of the American people,' then CNN enables Trump

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:13:05 +0000

On Friday, Trump went full dictator:

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So, what does CNN do? Even Frank Luntz gets it.

x

This wasn’t a Trump policy speech. This wasn’t an announcement that he’s finally nominated people to some of the hundreds of still unfilled government posts. This wasn’t in any way news. This was a campaign rally. Pure propaganda. At which he once again was free to spew lies, without real time fact-checking. And yet it was covered live, as a Big Event.

Trump plays CNN for the enabling fools they are. Again.

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Airport GunFAIL: It's not just for passengers, anymore. GunFAIL CCXXXI

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 04:34:28 +0000

GunFAIL doesn’t stop, I just sometimes fail to report it promptly. This time, we’re catching up on the week of January 29-February 4, during which 16 minors were accidentally shot, 15 people accidentally shot themselves, 9 people accidentally shot family members or significant others, 3 people dropped guns and accidentally fired them, 2 law enforcement officers accidentally discharged their weapons, 2 people accidentally fired guns they were cleaning while they were still loaded, 2 others accidentally fired their guns while they were out shopping or otherwise roaming about town, and 1 patriotic American selflessly shared his discharged ammunition with a neighbor.

Top stories this week? The police officer who accidentally discharged his weapon in DC’s Reagan National Airport. The Tennessee woman who took her gun with her to investigate strange noises outside her home, slipped on some ice, and accidentally shot herself in the leg. The Mississippi 4-year-old who found a parent’s gun (in an unlocked safe) and shot his 14-month-old sibling. And the old standby: the Alaska man who tried to balance his gun on top of the toilet paper dispenser in a supermarket restroom, and was accidentally shot in the leg when it fell off and discharged.

A typical week, in all respects, I’d say. The rest of the week’s stories are below the fold.

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It turns out the hunters who said immigrants attacked them while hunting shot themselves

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 18:32:53 +0000

Two hunting guides have been charged in relation to a shooting event that took place in January.

According to Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez, both Michael Bryant and Walker Daughetry were indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday for one charge each of using deadly conduct by discharging firearms in the direction of others, a 3rd Degree Felony.

Sheriff Dominguez tells CBS 7 that arrest warrants for both Bryant and Daughetry have been issued, though as of Wednesday afternoon they had not been taken into custody.

The original story that these “patriots” made up about this shooting was a special kind of fake.

The charges stem from a Jan. 6 incident where police responding to call about a shooting on a ranch near Candelaria found Daugherty and another man in the hunting party, Edwin Roberts, with gunshot wounds. The men were part of a group of hunters and told authorities they were attacked by people who had illegally crossed the nearby border and tried to steal an RV some of the hunters were using.

An investigation found that Daugherty shot Roberts and Bryant shot Daugherty, Dominguez said.

These patriots and a patriotic fiancee used their bullshit story to help set up a gofundme page for Daugherty’s medical bills.

Both Daughetry and his fiancee claimed to have seen illegal immigrants from Mexico on the property before, and believe the shooters came from across the border.

After the shooting, a GoFundMe page was started for Daughetry's medical bills which garnered over $20,000.

I wonder where they learned to use racism to lie about boneheaded self-inflicted violence and then try to get welfare from other people to pay for their mistakes? We may never know.

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The Newt Gingrich time bomb Republicans are using to destroy everything good

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:26:12 +0000

It took the current crop of Republicans to realize the destructive intent Newt Gingrich had for American government. Back in 1996, when he was speaker of the House, Gingrich got the Congressional Review Act passed. This law gives Congress the chance to undo any regulation finalized in the last 60 legislative days. It also means the rules can never be reinstated, unless Congress writes the the undone regulation into new law. It gives a whole new perspective on the do-nothing Congress of last year. By hardly ever showing up to work, they extended their 60-day legislative window dramatically. The law had been used once, in the brand-new George W. Bush administration to undo worker-safety regulations meant to reduce repetitive motion injuries. It took the Trump/Ryan/McConnell triumvirate, however, to fully detonate this time-bomb. In the last month, the House has pushed through 13 “resolutions of disapproval” reversing Obama-era regulations, including a Labor Department rule blocking contractors that have repeatedly violated workplace standards from receiving new contracts. The Senate is expected to take up that measure soon, and the House is also eyeing other Labor Department regulations that qualify for CRA action. What makes passing a disapproval resolution under the CRA so easy is that you only need a simple majority to do it, meaning Democrats in the Senate can’t use a filibuster to stop it. […] In the first few weeks of the Trump administration, Congress has passed CRAs undoing a Social Security Administration rule meant to keep mentally ill people from buying guns, and a Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring oil, gas and mining companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments. […] Environmental advocates have been some of the loudest opponents the CRA. Republicans have already targeted three Interior Department regulations; Trump signed a bill undoing regulations to protect waterways from from coal mining operations on Thursday. Two other bills targeting rules from the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management are expected to come up for a vote in the Senate when lawmakers return on Feb. 27. The rules being tossed out now go far beyond worker safety to everyone's safety. Guns for the mentally ill! Poisoned water for everyone! It's putting agencies in something of a bind, since there has never been judicial review of the CRA, because it's only been used one, and there's no case law guiding how agencies are supposed to proceed when told by Congress to undo everything they've been putting into place on these rules. Take for example that SEC rule—the Dodd-Frank financial reform law requires that these companies provide the disclosure of payments to foreign governments to regulators. That's in the law, not just in the regulation, so there's now a conflict between the statute and this instruction to the SEC. Celine McNicholas, labor counsel for the Economic Policy Institute, sums it up: “We’re in uncharted territory here,” she said. Here and everywhere. [...]



Daily Kos 2017 elections calendar

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:41:34 +0000

While 2017 might be an off year, there are lots of important elections taking place nationwide, ranging from special elections for the House to mayoral races in many major cities. Below is our calendar of the year’s top races, which will be updated continuously as new contests are scheduled. Republican-held offices are bolded. A version of this calendar in spreadsheet form, with more details about specific election procedures, can be found here.

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Rebooted impeachment proceedings in Alabama could take down governor—and senator he appointed

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:32:55 +0000

Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley is termed out of office in two years, but it’s anyone’s guess if his career will survive that long—or if his long-running sex scandal will take down the man he just appointed to the Senate, former state Attorney General Luther Strange. Bentley has been accused of using state resources to cover up an affair with a top staffer, Rebekah Mason, and Republican legislators have been talking about impeachment for some time.

However, as the Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman notes, Alabama’s 300,000-word-long constitution is not clear on how impeachment should proceed. Indeed, the legislature hasn't even considered impeaching anyone in over 100 years. But here’s something we do know for sure: If the state House does vote to impeach Bentley, he’d be immediately suspended from office unless and until the state Senate (which, like the lower chamber, is dominated by the GOP) acquits him.

That means Bentley’s governorship could effectively be over by around Memorial Day. House Judiciary Committee Chair Mike Jones recently said that he expects impeachment proceedings (which had been paused at Strange’s request) to restart in time for the legislature to complete its investigation before it adjourns in mid-to-late May. A panel of lawmakers will then issue a recommendation on whether or not to impeach Bentley.

However, as Lyman describes, things can get very complicated after that. A 60 percent supermajority of the 105-member House would then have to vote in favor of permitting a vote on the underlying recommendation. If that were to pass, only a simply majority would then have to actually approve an impeachment recommendation. It gets even trickier, though, if the impeachment panel issues a dissenting minority report, or if the investigation drags on past the end of the planned legislative session—though lawmakers can call themselves back to the capitol if they so desire.

And as we alluded above, the state attorney general is also investigating Bentley, which could also slow things: Jones said last week he's waiting for the attorney general's office to give lawmakers permission before they restart their own investigation. (Adding a further layer to all this, the new attorney general, Steve Marshall, has appointed a special prosecutor on account of the fact that Marshall owes his new job to none other than Bentley.)

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Team Trump marks a month of policy goofs and Florida golf games with a celebratory press release

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:00:37 +0000

The Trump team is out with a new press release heralding "PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP'S FIRST MONTH: ACHIEVING RESULTS FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE." You can tell how hard they had to work at it from the things they chose.

A bunch of them are "signed an executive order directing somebody else to look into something," which for Donald Trump counts as real work. Others of them are not the sort of thing a normal team would look to highlight.

President Trump signed legislation, House Joint Resolution 38, to block the burdensome “Stream Protection Rule” from causing further harm to the coal industry.

Take that, American streams. We're not going to let a little thing like poisoning local water supplies get in the way of pretending coal jobs are coming back.

President Trump signed legislation, House Joint Resolution 41, to eliminate a costly regulation that threatened to put domestic extraction companies and their employees at an unfair disadvantage.

Trump's supporters were really clamoring for that one, a repeal of the Cardin-Lugar Anti-Corruption Provision. All through the campaign, they just wouldn't shut up about how unfair it was that oil companies had to disclose payments they made to foreign governments when really they should be allowed to keep those payments secret. Swamp: Drained.

President Trump signed an Executive Order to enhance the safety and security of the United States by, among other things, constructing a wall on the southern border.

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CPAC invites alt-right Milo Yiannopoulos to keynote for his hatred, disinvites him over pedophilia

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:12:10 +0000

The Conservative Political Action Conference, aka "CPAC", has been steadily re-inventing itself as the platform for America's worst people for some time now, so it wasn't too much of a surprise when they selected Breitbart's own alt-right troll and white nationalist apologist, Milo Yiannopoulos, as keynote speaker. He would have fit in well with the people shouting that black Americans should be thanking America for slavery, and the people who claim that the United Nations is coming to take your children and replace them with bike lanes, and the people who claim that conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and other CPAC big-wigs are themselves secretly In League With The Muslims, and so on and so forth.

Oh, but then the CPAC team found out—because they didn't research Yiannopoulos themselves, before inviting him to give a keynote address, but merely presumed that since liberals didn't like him he must be a great thinker—that between his white nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-women, racist, ultra-juvenile poop-throwing antics he also defended grown men raping young boys, and that was too much.

Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference. [...]

We initially extended the invitation knowing that the free speech issue on college campuses is a battlefield where we need brave, conservative standard bearers. [...]

Got it. They invited him because they had heard college campuses were protesting his events; presumed it was because they were against his "free speech"; actually got wind of the sort of "speech" his events featured and backed all-the-damn-way-out once they got themselves a whiff of that.

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Trump watched a xenophobic Fox News talking head segment; it became 'last night in Sweden'

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:00:58 +0000

All right, fine. Let's talk about Sweden.

On Saturday during his campaign rally—because that is what Donald Trump thinks a president does, he holds campaign rallies—Trump spoke mournfully about the tragedy "last night in Sweden."

“We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”

The problem here, as was immediately pointed out by, let's say, a goodly percentage of all the other adult and mostly-functional people on planet Earth, is that nothing happened "last night in Sweden." Swedish politicians and authorities were flummoxed; the Swedish government politely asked Trump to explain himself; Trump became, yet again, the worldwide target of social media mockery as wags challenged themselves to parsing out just what tragedy may have happened that had so traumatized der Pumpkinfuhrer while remaining invisible to the rest of us.

It got to the point where Trump himself had to clarify that he was talking about a Fox News segment about Swedish immigration that he had watched on the teevee.

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Trump did get something for agreeing to 'One China' policy—something for himself

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:32:42 +0000

Donald Trump made a point of demonstrating a belligerent dismissal of the “One China” policy that the United States has maintained since 1979. One of his early calls to foreign leaders was to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, and in December Trump made it explicit.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of "one China," questioning nearly four decades of policy in a move likely to antagonize Beijing.

So when Trump abruptly changed directions last week, a lot of observers were both surprised and quick to declare that Trump had folded without securing any matching commitment from China. Some might even say that Trump showed he was … chicken.

But in doing so, he handed China a victory and sullied his reputation with its leader, Xi Jinping, as a tough negotiator who ought to be feared, analysts said.

But it’s not exactly true that Trump went home empty beaked … er, handed. Yes, Trump folded his position without getting anything for America, but that doesn’t mean Trump didn’t get a reward for playing along with Beijing.

The Chinese government has granted President Trump and his business something they had been seeking for more than a decade: trademark protection for the use of the Trump name in the construction industry.
 

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General H.R. McMaster selected to replace Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:31:30 +0000

Donald Trump found a way to get around the problem of ex-generals and admirals refusing to take his call. After reports that former Vice Admiral Robert Harward turned down an offer of the national security position, and other names were rumored to take themselves out of the running before they could even get an offer, Donald Trump fastened on the one sure way to fill the role: Give it to an active duty officer.

President Trump picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a widely respected military strategist, as his new national security adviser on Monday, calling him “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.”

McMaster genuinely is highly regarded, both as an officer and a historian. Of particular interest is McMaster’s book Dereliction of Duty that covers the early years of the war in Vietnam. The theme of the book is that John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had little respect for the existing joint chiefs and the “old warriors” who had served under Dwight Eisenhower. Johnson in particular leaned on Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.

Defense Secretary McNamara, says McMaster, “would dominate the [Vietnam] policy-making process because of three mutually reinforcing factors: the Chiefs’ ineffectiveness as an advisory group, Johnson’s profound insecurity, and the president’s related unwillingness to entertain divergent views on the subject of Vietnam….He wanted advisors who would tell him what he wanted to hear….McNamara could sense the president’s desires, and determined to do all that he could to fulfill them.”

The question for McMaster will be what he learned from his study of McNamara. Was it how telling the man in charge what he wants to hear can endanger the nation, or how filling those desires leads to a comfortable position of power?

McMaster has a reputation of “not suffering fools gladly,” which would seem to be a recipe for one unhappy NSC.

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Freedom Caucus maniac Jim Jordan forced to have town meeting when constituents show up

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:43:28 +0000

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) decided to skip the in-person town hall meetings this week. So his constituents figured out his schedule, and took the town meeting to him, as chronicled by Dave Weigel on Twitter. Things got heated, fast, as the crowd wanted to confront him about a variety of things, looking at all the signs in the crowd, but particularly climate change and Obamacare.

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He's telling the crowd "it's time to change" Obamacare, "and bring back insurance that actually empowers you, actually empowers you and not Washington, DC." He has a hard time actually getting that sentence out over the crowd's shouts of "Lies!" He was really committed to the lying part, not just telling the crowd "our plan intends to bring back insurance that's affordable" (there isn't a plan in the first place) and this one, on Medicaid and what’s going to happen to rural hospitals.

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Midday open thread: Jane Roe, Uber harassment, and cervical cancer disparities

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:00:32 +0000

Today’s comic by Tom Tomorrow is The new normal: In case you missed it on Sunday Kos … War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, by Mark E Andersen How to turn trolls into your best friends, by David Akadjian The 2017 legislative elections and the post-Trump map, by Steve Singiser Trump’s amazing and dangerous world of alternative fact and alternative truth, by Frank Vyan Walton No Trump tax returns? No GOP tax cuts, by Jon Perr Trump-Russia scandal: Like Watergate and Iran-Contra, only worse, by Sher Watts Spooner Numbing the pain of self-inflicted wounds in Trump’s America, by Propane Jane We must keep the protests, but we need a lot more action, by Egberto Willies Trump trauma versus no drama Obama, by Ian Reifowitz Ona Judge Staines—the black woman who escaped from and outwitted George and Martha Washington, by Denise Oliver Velez ● Speaking of Sweden ... this is awful. ● A former Uber engineer wrote an account not just of individual sexual harassment but of having her complaints ignored and dismissed by higher-ups and human resources. Uber’s CEO claims the company will investigate. ● Why is the story of "Jane Roe" so complicated? ● Marriage isn't just marriage: Policies permitting same-sex marriage are linked to fewer suicide attempts among young people — especially those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning. That might be because such policies reduce stigma perceived by LGBQ kids, according to a new study published today in JAMA Pediatrics. ● Two studies bring bad news about cervical cancer deaths and HPV—including massive racial disparities. ● On today’s “Encore Presentation” of the Kagro in the Morning show, we dusted off our spare episode from 2/29/16: Greg Dworkin parsed primary results & forecasts. The Gop’s Trumpmatic Stress Disorder. Even back then we were agog at Gop operatives pretending to be horrified. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon [...]



London joins the resistance as British Parliament debates rejecting a state visit from Trump

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:35:00 +0000

Seems like there are few places that Donald Trump can go these days without incurring the wrath of levelheaded, sane people who oppose all the horrible things he stands for. Kudos to the United Kingdom, the latest place to unwelcome America’s liar-in-chief, as its people attempt to stand up to Trump in a bigly way.

On Monday, the British Parliament debates whether or not to bestow official state honors to Trump when he visits sometime this year after a petition against his visit to the UK received nearly 2 million signatures. The petition has already been rejected by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government. 

Members of Parliament will spend up to three hours discussing a petition calling for the visit to be downgraded because of Trump's "well-documented misogyny and vulgarity." [...]
While the debate is largely symbolic, it will expose the fault lines caused by the decision of the British government to award Trump a state visit so early in his term of office.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, faced calls for his resignation from some MPs after he said he was "strongly opposed" to letting Trump address lawmakers during his visit because of Parliament's "opposition to racism and sexism."

There is also a rival petition in favor of Trump’s state visit being discussed, which received significantly less signatures at 310,000. The mayor of London has also joined the anti-Trump resistance, who supports the petition to deny Trump an official visit based on the Muslim ban and his stances on immigration.

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Betsy DeVos peddles theory that opposition to her is 'sponsored and very carefully planned'

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:30:11 +0000

Never mind that the Senate telephone system was broken by Americans calling in to oppose her nomination and never mind that—for the first time in history—the vice president had to break a tie to get her confirmed, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says the opposition to her isn't real. It's those paid operatives that have suddenly come out of the woodwork by the millions.

In interviews with two online news organizations, Ms. DeVos began laying the groundwork for her approach. “It would be fine with me to have myself worked out of a job,” she told Axios, adding that she expects there will be more public charter schools, private schools and virtual schools under her leadership. She told Townhall, a conservative outlet, that she doubted the validity of the demonstrations against her and that her critics and protesters wanted to make her life “a living hell.”

“I don’t think most of those are spontaneous, genuine protests,” she said. “I think they’re all being sponsored and very carefully planned.”

She thinks her life is a living hell now? Well boo-fucking-hoo. Wait until she starts really trying to dismantle public education. She'll see some very genuine protest. If she's having this much of a problem the first week into her brand-new job—being paid by all of us "sponsored" protesters—maybe she ought to be considering an early exit. Keep the pressure up, folks.

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Hey, McCain! How about putting your votes where your 'maverick' mouth is?

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:29:20 +0000

Sen. John McCain (R-Crankyville) has been doing a world tour of Trump-bashing. First he went off to Munich last week for a security conference, then he came back to his happy place—the Sunday shows. His whole message dutifully reported by The New York Times: “John McCain Becomes Critic in Chief of the Trump Administration.”

WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain has long had a reputation as a political maverick. But with the rise of a president who has vowed to shatter the old order, Mr. McCain has emerged as an outspoken defender of longstanding Republican verities on foreign policy and as one of his party’s most biting critics of the new commander in chief. […]

In a star turn at a security conference in Munich on Friday, he delivered a forceful critique of President Trump’s "America First" vision before a receptive audience of experts and allied officials worried about American drift from a seven-decade-old Western alliance.

"Make no mistake, my friends, these are dangerous times," Mr. McCain said. "But you should not count America out, and we should not count each other out." […]

A day later, in an interview for "Meet the Press," Mr. McCain challenged Mr. Trump’s contention that the news media is "the enemy of the American people."

"The first thing that dictators do is shut down the press," he said, adding that while he was not calling the president a dictator, "we need to learn the lessons of history."

He also told Meet the Press that he has "more hope than belief" that a Republican-led Congress will actually investigate Trump, even though he believes "there's probably going to be some more shoes to drop" on Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s ties to Russia. As if he wasn’t in a position to do something about that. 

It’s just a lot of tough talk from someone who has only voted against one Trump nominee for a cabinet position (Mulvaney at Office of Management and Budget because he doesn't want to increase defense spending sufficiently), and has thus far voted for everything in the Trump/McConnell agenda. That's hardly mavericky now, is it.

Here's the deal, McCain. Until you can stand up to your own party leader—that's Mitch McConnell—all of this is just bluster. Warning against Trump's dangerous foreign policy isn't enough. You've got to do something about it. If he's that dangerous to the nation, to the world, if you really think he's a dictator, oppose him on everything. Help the Democrats hasten his departure. Or just shut up.

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Republicans slowly waking to realization that tables have turned on Obamacare's popularity

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:15:21 +0000

It's the first long "district work period"—recess in less euphemistic terms—for Congress, the first chance they have to come back home and face constituents after a month of this new, disastrous Trump administration. In a reflection of just how bad things are going, more than 200 Republicans are hiding out this week, refusing to meet with their voters, and it's largely because of Obamacare. Because even if they're unwilling to look voters in the face when they tell them they want to take their health care away they're feeling the heat.

President Trump, who remains popular on the right, has mused about a replacement plan that is even more expansive than the original. The conservative news media are focused more on Mr. Trump's near-daily skirmishes with Democrats and reporters, among others, than on policy issues like health care.

[…] From deeply conservative districts in the South and the West to the more moderate parts of the Northeast, Republicans in Congress say there is significantly less intensity among opponents of the law than when Mr. Obama was in office.

"I hear more concerns than before about 'You're going to repeal it, and we're all going to lose insurance' because they don't think we're going to replace it," said Representative Mike Simpson, a Republican who represents a conservative district in Idaho. […]

"I was here in 2009 and 2010, and we're not getting the anti-Obamacare calls like that," said Representative Brett Guthrie, a Kentucky Republican who is on one of the committees tasked with rewriting the law. "I think people are going to hold us accountable for making sure we not only repeal, but we have a law in place that creates a better opportunity for people."

The demands from conservative-leaning constituents in districts like Mr. Guthrie's are plainly shifting. In a nationwide CBS News poll last month, 53 percent of Republicans said they wanted to change the law to make it work better while 41 percent said they wanted to abolish it.

It was all so easy when it was all about President Obama, and not about people's actual health and lives and stuff. And now, well now Republicans are still up the creek with little more than an outline that won't just help those still uninsured, but take insurance away from millions. It's not just Obama supporters talking about that now.

Congress is on February recess, and members are back in their home districts. Let them know in no uncertain terms that tolerance of Trump's hateful agenda is unacceptable and politically toxic.

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Trump prepares to unleash Muslim ban 2.0

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:12:28 +0000

Does Donald Trump's all-new, all-improved Muslim travel ban still provide special status for “minority religions” in countries that are notably all over 95 percent Muslim? Yes, apparently it does. Does Donald Trump's fix to his blocked plan still explicitly target immigration from specific countries, in violation of existing law? Absolutely. So just what has changed?

A draft of President Donald Trump's revised immigration ban targets the same seven countries listed in his original executive order and exempts travelers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S., even if they haven't used it yet.

A senior administration official said the order, which Trump revised after federal courts held up his original immigration and refugee ban, will target only those same seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya.

Removing the ban on people who already have visas and green cards certainly seems reasonable, and would have avoided much of the chaos that occurred when the first order literally caught travelers in midair.  But there's more to it than just a minor improvement in a very bad order.

The portions that are being adjusted will likely make it harder to determine just who has standing to sue in attempting to block the new order. Standing has already been a focus of the Trump team’s attack on those working to stop the order, and the revised version may specifically make it harder for states to argue they have a direct interest in the implementation of the ban.

Trump's original executive order triggered chaos at airports around the world, as travelers were detained when the order rapidly went into effect, and U.S. permanent residents known as green-card holders were among them. 

Trump's new order doesn't seem to touch the things that made it illegal or unconstitutional, but may make it more difficult for anyone to prove that in court.

Even if Syrian refugees are no longer automatically rejected under the new order, the pace of refugees entering the U.S. from all countries is likely to slow significantly. That's because even when the courts put Trump's original ban on hold, they left untouched Trump's 50,000-per-year refugee cap, a cut of more than half from the cap under the Obama administration.

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Defense Secretary Mattis forced to reassure Iraq that we're not going to seize their oil

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:47:09 +0000

In one of those "can you believe someone is actually having to say this" moments, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis—the "Mad Dog" who wants to attack Iran—is providing some sanity on Iraq. No, he says, despite popular vote loser Donald Trump's obsession about their oil, we're not going after it.

Mattis' arrived on an unannounced visit in Iraq as the battle to oust Islamic State militants from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria.

Those efforts could be complicated by Trump's oil threat and his inclusion of Iraq in the administration's travel ban — twin blows that have roiled the nation and spurred local lawmakers to pressure Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to reduce cooperation with Washington.

"I think all of us here in this room, all of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I'm sure that we will continue to do that in the future," Mattis told reporters traveling with him. "We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil."

That's a critical message to send right now, as we do continue to need Iraq's cooperation in the ISIS fight, and because Mattis has been tasked with finding a strategy for defeating it. And he has just a week to meet Trump's deadline for doing that. That's a nuance of foreign policy that seems to be beyond Trump's ken—you can't threaten to seize a nation's primary natural resource and asset at the same you are asking for that nation's help.

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Leaked tapes reveal Trump's offer to his 'real group'

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:05:11 +0000

All those everyday working stiffs who think they have a friend in Trump need to spend a minute listening to him talk to the $200k a seat members of his club.

“So, this is my real group,” Trump said at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, on November 18, according to the audiotape. “These are the people that came here in the beginning, when nobody knew what this monster was gonna turn out to be, right?”

And for his “real group” Trump makes some special invitations that he wasn't handing out to the small crowd he gathered at a Florida airport. 

"We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump told the crowd, according to an audiotape of his closed-to-the-press remarks, obtained by POLITICO from a source in the room. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government."

Come on down! Watch us play National Security Advisor Apprentice! It’ll be fun!

But dictators? Why is Trump interviewing dictators? Is he seeking entry level dictators to boss around people like the “aides” now shoving around experienced diplomats at State, or is he after mentor-grade dictators for their keen insight in how to be a better autarch?

"We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing secretary of state,” he continued. “We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable … so you might want to come along.”

Hey, there's nothing Trump likes better than adding more billionaires to the White House. He might even let you write a new treaty or two, but only if you have the right connections. 

But Trump voters need to pony up their $200k entry fee if they want to be real to Donald.

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Cartoon: The new normal

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:50:41 +0000

If you’d like to support an Enemy of the American People (cartooning division),  you can …

— join Sparky’s List, for an early look at each week’s cartoon, as well as essays, musings, a look behind the scenes, and  more!

— buy the latest book and/or visit the online store!

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Trump's partners craft a 'peace plan' that rewards Russia for invading Ukraine

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:03:46 +0000

Two men who have acted as a bridge between Donald Trump and Russia have popped back into the news as the authors of a ‘peace plan’ between Russia and Ukraine—a peace plan that rewards Russia for attacking Ukraine and lifts U.S. sanctions that keep Vladimir Putin in check.

A month before the election, the dots connecting the Russian mob to Donald Trump all seemed to come with one name attached: Bayrock.

The Republican presidential nominee and Bayrock were both based in Trump Tower…  Their best-known collaboration — Trump SoHo, a 46-storey hotel-condominium completed in 2010 — was featured in Mr Trump’s NBC television show The Apprentice.

Bayrock was created primarily as a means for oligarchs in Russia and former Soviet territories to get their money out of the country.

“Tax evasion and money-laundering are the core of Bayrock’s business model,” the lawsuit said of the financiers behind Trump Soho.

The man acting as the bridge between Bayrock and Trump is named Felix Sater.

Sater, a businessman formerly linked with the Mafia who has boasted of his "relationship with Trump," told the Washington Post last May that he "handled all of the negotiations" for the Trump Organization's dealings in Russia in the mid-2000's.

That would be all those dealings Trump says don’t exist, and which Donald Trump Jr. said were “a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” Now Felix Sater’s name is back in the news in a big way, and it’s not good news for Trump.

I don't know how much attention it's received. But the appearance of the name of Felix Sater in this new article in the Times is one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop on the Trump story in some time.

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Morning Digest: Another political abyss beckons to Mark Sanford, and he doesn't seem to care

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:00:35 +0000

Leading Off ● SC-01: In a must-read piece, Politico's Tim Alberta checks in with South Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Sanford, our favorite real estate developer-turned political neophyte-turned congressman-turned governor-turned national conservative hero-turned national punch line-turned censured but not impeached governor-turned disgraced former governor-turned comeback seeker-turned guy who was about to lose a safely red seat-turned guy who beat Stephen Colbert's sister-turned congressman-turned Trump skeptic. So how is Sanford doing these days? Well, the Politico Magazine article is titled "I'm a Dead Man Walking." After his 2013 special election win in the Charleston-based 1st District against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Sanford won his primary and re-election the next year without any major opposition. But in 2016, Sanford only beat then-state Rep. Jenny Horne 56-44 in the primary, even though Horne barely spent anything against him. Sanford himself barely dipped into his warchest, telling Alberta that he was saving his money for when he really needed it. And it seems Sanford's hour of need is coming up very soon. Wealthy businessman Ted Fienning, a Marine veteran who has already gotten the attention of the South Carolina GOP chattering class, confirms that he's going to run in next year's primary, and says he's going to self-fund $250,000. Sanford himself has a little more than $1 million on-hand. Fienning claims he's not going to focus on Sanford's 2009 sex scandal, though he pointedly told Alberta that Sanford "has made international news for terrible reasons." But while enough primary voters may have decided that Sanford's infamous Appalachian Trail Hike doesn't matter, his criticisms of Trump give Fienning some fresh ammo. Unlike so many 2016 Never Trump Republicans who have cozied up to The Donald since he won the GOP nod, Sanford told Alberta this very month that Trump "has fanned the flames of intolerance" and says he can't "look the other way" as Trump lies. Sanford himself doesn't seem to care about any electoral repercussions and even may have already decided that he's going to lose, declaring "I'm a dead man walking. If you've already been dead, you don't fear it as much. I've been dead politically." And Sanford may well be right that he's doomed. A recent Pew survey gave Trump an 84 percent job approval rating with GOP-leaning voters even as he limped to a negative 39-56 score with the public as a whole, so being a Donald skeptic really isn't a winning strategy in GOP politics. Trump himself has a habit of declaring war on his intra-party enemies, and Sanford may find himself in his crosshairs next year. South Carolina requires a primary runoff if no one takes a majority of the vote, so a crowded field of opponents may not even save the congressman. This district backed Trump 54-40, and it's likely to stay red regardless of who emerges as the GOP nominee. Sanford's whole electoral career, even before his scandal (he once brought two pigs onto the floor of the state House of Representatives, and they proceeded to defecate onto the carpet) feels like it was written by a political satirist who doesn't care about realism, and Sanford surviving 2018 may just fit right into this long absurd plot. And if Sanford does pull off a win, or perhaps even if he doesn't, voters outside the 1st District may see his name on a ballot again soon. While Sanford has ruled out running for the governorship again next year, he did[...]



Daily Kos Radio is in THROWBACK MODE at 9 AM ET!

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:30:37 +0000

Well, events have conspired to keep us from bringing you a new, live show today. It’s a holiday, so the house is full. And, as bad luck would have it, I have to go car shopping. Thanks, Trump! Luckily, I had an extra February show lying around from last year’s Leap Day, and figured that somehow made sense. Listen LIVE right here at 9:00 AM ET! The Kagro in the Morning show is growing by leaps & bounds! Probably because more and more of you are finding that some morning political chatter among friends is the only way to face the day. Give it a try and see if it doesn’t make your day a little easier to take. And if you’re already sold on it, well, our Patreon account is a great way to let us know! (And let us eat!) Say, how about a free listen to our most recent show, just to seal the deal? x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon The first 4 people today to join at the $20 per month KITM Double Gold Level could have David Waldman rant and rave their answering machine message in his renowned Trump voice! It could happen, I’ve seen that information around. Armando calls to react to the reaction to Trump. Is this the time to leave hysterics, or exactly the time to be hysterical? It is definitely not the time for Congress to clock out early, while asking people whose life isn’t politics to work overtime. Daily Kos Political Director David Nir went on the Rachel Maddow Show to talk about the winnable, flippable special election in Atlanta Georgia. Ed Gillespie has been around a long time, but is ready to pretend to be a Trump outsider for anyone in VA wanting to believe that. Emails finally revealing Scott Pruitt’s vast corruption will be released… too late. For those that have experience in this, it is all too clear that Trump is unfit to serve. Need more to rant and rave on this weekend? The Pentagon finds it has no records approving Mike Flynn’s Russian-TV pay. The Trump administration uses encrypted messaging apps which is immoral, unethical, probably illegal and what are you going to do about it? Trump feels better when you let him lie. $3 million weekends in Florida help, too. (Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold. [...]



Cheers and Jeers: Monday

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:15:38 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE… Happy Presidents' Day Woo hoo! I've got my Millard Fillmore tree set up, Andy Williams' classic It's the Most Executive Branchful Time of the Year is playing on the Victrola, and all my coupons are clipped for BIG Pre$ident$' Day $ale-a-bration $aving$ on every mattre$$ in the $tore! Here's your annual quiz (no cheating): 1. Which president was once a carnival barker at a wheel-of-fortune booth? A) Nixon  B) Hoover  C) Ford  D) Coolidge 2. Whose parents took seven weeks to name their kid? A) Monroe  B) Van Buren C) FDR D) McKinley 3. This president said, "Soup is bipartisan. We can all agree on soup." A) Ford  B) Cleveland  C) Nixon  D) Obama Happy Your Day, guys on plate! 4. Name the president who said "McKinley has a chocolate éclair backbone." A) Taft  B) T. Roosevelt  C) Wilson  D) Cleveland 5. Who was attacked during his campaign for not drinking enough liquor? A) Garfield  B) Polk  C) Hayes  D) Carter 6. Who claimed that God didn’t intend for humans to travel on trains at the "breakneck speed" of 15mph? A) Van Buren  B) Jefferson  C) Washington  D) Buchanan 7. Whose handshake was compared to "a wilted petunia?" A) Taylor  B) George W. Bush  C) Tyler  D) B. Harrison 8. This president was the first to admit into a live microphone that his celebrity status entitled him to stalk women and "grab 'em by the pussy." A) Harding  B) Jefferson  C) Trump  D) Hoover Answers: A, C, D, B, B, A, D, C. Scoring: 8 = You're presidential material!  0-7 = Oh, let's not dwell on the mistakes of the past, let's look to the future for the sake of our children. Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!] [...]



Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: The consequences of Chaos

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:30:41 +0000

Amy Davidson/New Yorker: Then again, why would this Republican Party want to block Pruitt? This is the other answer: the senators pushed him through because they wanted to, for their own non-Trump reasons. He is, in many ways, more typical of where many congressional Republicans stand than Trump is, though Pruitt might express his views more crudely and with fewer circumlocutions than some. His ties to industry are, in many cases, their ties to industry, too. (Jane Mayer has covered the influence of the Koch brothers, for example, in this regard.) When Ryan talks about dismantling the regulatory state, he is not far from Pruitt. Indeed, when asked about the influence of human activity on climate change, Ryan has said that he just didn’t know what it all added up to, “and I don’t think science does, either.” In a statement that Ryan issued in December, 2009, he accused certain scientists who did recognize the effect of using “statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” He added that any rules restricting American industry in the name of fighting climate change would be a “tough sell” in Wisconsin, “where much of the state is buried under snow.” Similarly, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, tends to deal with climate change by saying that he is not a scientist. In the opportunistic calculations of the congressional Republicans, Pruitt may not even count as a price they have to pay, or a Trumpian burden to bear. To the contrary: he is their reward. The Hill: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Friday accused President Trump's senior adviser Steve Bannon of being "a stone cold racist and a white supremacist sympathizer." Jeffries on Friday told MSNBC that any meeting between Trump and the Congressional Black Caucus must exclude Bannon. xTrump Has No Foreign Policy https://t.co/l2xeoSB4x0— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) February 20, 2017 [...]



Open thread for night owls: In Boston, scientists rally for 'objective reality'

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 04:00:43 +0000

In Boston: Hundreds of scientists and their supporters rallied in historic Copley Square on Sunday, demanding that the Trump administration accept empirical reality on issues such as climate change and highlighting the centrality of objective information to making policy. “We did not politicize science,” said Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard science historian who spoke at the rally, which unfolded on a surprisingly warm February day that left the square filled with mud puddles from the melt of a recent blizzard. “We did not start this fight.” [...] The event, which covered much of Copley Square, seemed to be a promising sign for a far larger March for Science event, scheduled for April 22, Earth Day. That event has more than 800,000 Facebook group members at present and, if such momentum continues, could lead to an unprecedented demonstration by scientists against the new administration. QUOTATION OF THE DAY “The anti-suffragists can gather more statistics than any other person I ever saw, and there is nothing so sweet and calm as when they say, "You cannot deny this, because here are the figures, and figures never lie." Well they don't but some liars figure. When they start out they always begin the same. She started by proving that it was no use to give the women the ballot because if they did have it they would not use it, and she had statistics to prove it. If we would not use it then I really cannot see the harm of giving it to us, we would not hurt anybody with it and what an easy way for you men to get rid of us. No more suffrage meetings, never any nagging you again, no one could blame you for anything that went wrong with the town, if it did not run right, all you would have to say is, you have the power, why don't you go ahead and clean up.”                     —Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, “The Fundamental Principle of a Republic,” June 21, 1915 TWEET OF THE DAY xWhat you are hearing from Trump right now isn't spin, it's delusion— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) February 18, 2017 BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—Blair faces party revolt; US loses Canada: It is clear that the governments of the UK, Spain, and Italy have real decisions to make -- to represent the will of their people or risk losing power in defense of Bush's invasion. In England, support for Blair and the war are plummeting despite a months-long PR campaign to prop up popular support. And, Labor's left wing is openly talking revolt if Britain goes to war without UN Security Council approval. "This is crunch time for Tony Blair," said Alan Simpson, a leader of Labor's antiwar faction in the House of Commons. "He can lead the war party or the Labor Party, but he can't lead both. It's quite clear if he goes off to war, he will have left the party behind him." Blair's political difficulties seem to have convinced the US to seek a second resolution, even while publicly arguing it doesn't require one. THE WEEK’S HIGH IMPACT STORIES • HIGH IMPACT STORIES • TOP COMMENTS Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.” [...]



War: What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 02:00:56 +0000

By the time you read this essay, it may be old news. The content might seem hopelessly outdated, or we will have troops on their way to Syria, or something in between. That is how fast and furious the news cycle has been since Trump took office: something written on Wednesday may be irrelevant by Sunday. But this was the news as of midweek:

"It's possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time," one defense official told CNN.

Donald Trump has not even been in office for one month, and the drums of war are already beating. It’s easy to wonder if the people who make these decisions have any skin in the game. You can guarantee that we will not see Tiffany, Ivanka, Eric, Junior, or Barron at the recruiting office anytime soon. My 17-year-old son Everett wants to work in the space program, so he is looking at the Air Force ROTC. The young men on his high school wrestling team—well, there is a good chance some of them will end up in any war Trump starts.

in 1946, then-Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower stated, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity." There is no better description of war. It is something Trump would not understand. He and his family have never made sacrifices, despite his laughable claims:

“I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” Mr. Trump said to Mr. Stephanopoulos. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

That is not sacrifice. Sacrifice is sleeping in a foxhole in some backwater of the world with nothing but a poncho liner for warmth. Sacrifice is spending Thanksgiving and Christmas away from home. Sacrifice is sending your son or daughter off to war, not knowing if they will come home.

The human costs of the civil war in Syria are almost incomprehensible. The human suffering is unfathomable. But this is not our fight. Sending troops into a confusing mishmash of changing alliances is not something we should even be considering. We already made a mess of that part of the world with an unnecessary war. Going back there is not going to make things better.

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How to turn trolls into your best friends

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 00:40:35 +0000

In the movie Thank You For Smoking, the main character Joey Naylor, a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, has a great scene with his son that talks about how he wins. 

His son asks him what happens when he’s wrong. Here’s the quick transcript of the scene: 

Joey Naylor: What happens when you’re wrong? Nick Naylor: Whoa, Joey I’m never wrong.
Joey Naylor: But you can’t always be right…
Nick Naylor: Well, if it’s your job to be right, then you’re never wrong.
Joey Naylor: But what if you are wrong?
Nick Naylor: OK, let’s say that you’re defending chocolate, and I’m defending vanilla. Now if I were to say to you: ‘Vanilla is the best flavour ice-cream’, you’d say…
Joey Naylor: No, chocolate is.
Nick Naylor: Exactly, but you can’t win that argument… so, I’ll ask you: so you think chocolate is the end all and the all of ice-cream, do you?
Joey Naylor: It’s the best ice-cream, I wouldn’t order any other.
Nick Naylor: Oh! So it’s all chocolate for you is it?
Joey Naylor: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
Nick Naylor: Well, I need more than chocolate, and for that matter I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom. And choice when it comes to our ice-cream, and that Joey Naylor, that is the defintion of liberty.
Joey Naylor: But that’s not what we’re talking about
Nick Naylor: Ah! But that’s what I’m talking about.
Joey Naylor: …but you didn’t prove that vanilla was the best…
Nick Naylor: I didn’t have to. I proved that you’re wrong, and if you’re wrong I’m right.
Joey Naylor: But you still didn’t convince me
Nick Naylor: It’s that I’m not after you. I’m after them. [points into the crowd]

This scene illustrates one of the greatest issues that I see liberals struggle with in the public sphere: 

We think we win when we win a logical argument.

Professionals like Nick Naylor understand that you win when you win someone over. 

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The 2017 legislative elections and the post-Trump map

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 23:20:43 +0000

While many eyes (and with justification!) are already on the 2018 midterm elections, it is worth noting that some very important elections on the statewide level are on tap for this November. So, it is fair to say that the first chance to assess the electoral impact of Donald Trump will come in just nine short months.

The two states that headline the 2017 election cycle are two states that, on the surface, did not seem to change much in 2016.

Virginia, which arguably will get the most attention in this off-year cycle, went from a 3.9 point victory for Barack Obama in 2012 to a 5.3 point win for Hillary Clinton this past year. Meanwhile, New Jersey moved marginally in the direction of the GOP, with an 17-point Obama win in 2012 to a 14-point Clinton win in 2016. Beneath the surface, however, there were some much more substantial shifts on a more granular level. It might surprise folks to learn, for example, that there were legislative districts in Virginia that shifted more than 20 points in either direction between 2012-2016. Quite a few of those “big-shift” districts, in fact, are likely to be pivotal to any shifts in the outsized Republican legislative majority in the House of Delegates in the state.

New Jersey, meanwhile, had a smaller number of large shifts, but that is owed in part to the fact that there are far fewer districts (40) in the state than there are in Virginia (where there are 100 districts in the lower chamber). Still, there are a handful of districts where the size of the shift could surely matter. New Jersey is the converse of Virginia—there, any movement is likely to benefit the GOP. 

The bottom line is that, in both cases, more than one-quarter of the state’s legislative districts shifted far more substantially than the state at large. And those shifts could (repeat: could) result in large changes to the legislative balance of power.

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Trump allies deliver plan to lift Russian sanctions—by helping to topple the Ukrainian government

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 22:40:37 +0000

The hits just keep on coming:

A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

The players involved are a who’s who of Trump-connected pro-Russian figures.

Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul D. Manafort.

Cohen is under investigation by the FBI as part of the query into Russian influence in Trump's election; Sater is Mafia-linked. A key part of the plan, led by pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker, Andrii Artemenko, would be releasing alleged evidence of corruption by the current not-pro-Russian-enough Ukrainian leader, thus allowing fine men like Andrii Artemenko to take over the government and negotiate a long term Russian "lease" of Crimea, and so forth. (Artemenko even offered up that he had “received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin”, which is apparently something would-be government topplers are willing to brag about these days.)

The end result: If the current Ukrainian government was disposed of and a more Russia-tolerant faction took its place, thus achieving a peace with Russia that may or may not absolve Russia of their military invasion and capture of Crimea, than the way would be clear for the Trump administration to lift the sanctions on Russia that resulted.

Which would, in turn, allow deals like now-Secretary-of-State Rex Tillerson's $500 billion oil deal between ExxonMobil and Russia to go forward.

All it requires is a more complaint Ukrainian government, with the assistance of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Paul Manafort’s pals. This is an actual plan these people were willing to put down on paper.

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Trump's amazing and dangerous world of alternative facts—and alternative truth

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 22:00:36 +0000

Here’s what CNN reporter Zachary Wollf recently said when describing why it’s hard to cover Donald Trump: "What does it mean when he says words?

Clearly, Trump doesn’t mean what he’s actually saying. Facts are optional. They are fungible.  \For example his signature building, Trump Tower in Manhattan, is advertised as being 68 stories tall, but in reality is only 58 stories high. Select floors are missing in order for them to claim the 45th floor is really the 53rd floor—and get a much higher rate of return than he normally would when leasing office space or condos. This is just a perfect example of Trump’s reality warping field in effect. Things aren’t what they truly are: they are what Trump claims they are. This may be one of the key sources of Trump’s ability to succeed against all reasonable odds. 

It’s also why his efforts are ultimately doomed to failure.

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Reince Priebus takes to the Sunday shows to retell the lies Kellyanne and Spicer already told

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 21:20:45 +0000

Today was a slow day on the nation's Sunday Shows, thanks to the either intentional or unintentional absence of each of the Trump administration's most dedicated and egregious liars. Perhaps they were tuckered out, or perhaps nausea has set in at the various networks and they've decided that even if their viewers don't necessarily deserve a break from the authoritarian Dear Leaderisms of a Kellyanne or the stubborn Sean insistence on alternative facts, the cameras themselves can only take so much. Regardless, it was up to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to make the rounds, artfully shedding whatever stray scraps of dignity that still clung to him after a half-year of toadying up to, objectively, the worst man he's ever worked for.

So Reince obligingly went out and did all the lying on his own.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Sunday flatly denied any involvement between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian officials. [...]

Priebus said he’s spoken with high-level intelligence officials in Washington who have told him that no such involvement occurred.

Which directly contradicts multiple reports of exactly that involvement taking place.

His main task, however, was to confirm that when Donald Trump said that our nation's free press was "the enemy" of the American people, he meant it.

"I think you should take it seriously. I think that the problem we've got is that we're talking about bogus stories like the one in the New York Times, that we've had constant contact with Russian officials. The next day, the Wall Street Journal had a story that the intel community was not giving the president a full intelligence briefing," Priebus said. "Both stories grossly inaccurate, overstated, overblown, and it's total garbage."
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No Trump tax returns? No GOP tax cuts

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 20:40:33 +0000

Over the past week, the White House has been completely overwhelmed by the Trump administration’s mushrooming medley of Moscow outrages. But to what Vox labeled the “3 Trump-Russia Scandals”—potential Trump collusion with Russia against the Hillary Clinton campaign, possible Trump lies about Michael Flynn’s outreach to the Putin government, and purported kompromat Russian intelligence may be holding over the American president—must be added a fourth: What are the conflicts of interest created by the Trump Organization’s extensive business ties to Putin’s kleptocratic petro-state? With the Trump empire cut off by American banks, the family business has become dependent on Germany’s Deutsche Bank and investors from Russia. As Donald Trump, Jr. summed up in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” That alone provides one powerful reason why President Trump must release his tax returns to the American people. It’s not just a matter of following four decades of presidential practice. Simply put, we need to know if our president is being paid in rubles. But there’s another reason President Trump must come clean about his finances. In recent days, Trump has promised he will soon unveil a “phenomenal” tax reform plan that calls for “lowering the overall tax burden of American businesses, big league.” But that isn’t the only promise The Donald has made to American taxpayers about his reform scheme. The self-proclaimed "voice" of "the forgotten men and women of our country”—the same man praised by family and friends as a “blue-collar billionaire”—made this pledge last year: "It reduces or eliminates most of the deductions and loopholes available to special interests and to the very rich. In other words, it's going to cost me a fortune -- which is actually true -- while preserving charitable giving and mortgage interest deductions, very importantly." [Emphasis mine.] To which the only appropriate response to the pathological liar-in-chief is: “Prove it.” [...]



Senate Intelligence committee asks agencies to preserve materials related to Russian election ties

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 20:00:47 +0000

On Friday, members of the Senate Intelligence committee received a classified briefing on the investigation into Russian interference in the November election from FBI Director James Comey. It was notable primarily for the stone-faced silence with which senators sidled by the press after the meeting.

That same evening, though, the committee took action.

The Senate intelligence committee has sent formal requests to more than a dozen organizations, agencies and individuals, asking them to preserve all materials related to a probe the panel is conducting on Russian interference in the 2016 election and related issues, a congressional aide said Saturday.

Among those "related issues": Alleged contact during the campaign between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence figures, as well as conversations between now-resigned Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

As for what the move "means", it means that the committee does indeed expect to delve into Russian interference and what various agencies and individuals did or did not know. As for how seriously the Republican-led committee truly presses? We don't know.

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Trump-Russia scandal: Like Watergate and Iran-Contra—only worse

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 19:20:36 +0000

It took Richard Nixon more than two years to own up to the Watergate scandal. Facing impeachment, he resigned, and top aides spent time in jail. Ronald Reagan’s administration traded arms to Iran for the release of a few American hostages in 1985, using profits from those arms sales to fund a war in Nicaragua, and it took several years and three investigations to unravel the whole mess. Reagan escaped direct punishment for the Iran-Contra affair, but several on his team were convicted (and pardoned by Reagan’s successor).

It has taken Donald Trump less than one month for his administration to be embroiled in a scandal that’s just as bad—and perhaps much worse.

No one knows when we’ll get the full story about the Russian infiltration that reached high levels and inner circles of both the Trump campaign and the Trump White House. The scandal combines the power-grabbing paranoia of Watergate (interfering with an election, this time by a foreign power) with the illegal foreign policy workarounds of Iran-Contra (calling a Russian ambassador with inside info, and who knows what else).

Legendary newsman Dan Rather says Trump’s Russia scandal could end up being as bad as Watergate. “It may become the measure by which all future scandals are judged,” Rather wrote on a Facebook post that quickly went viral. On his Meet the Press Daily show, NBC’s Chuck Todd said, “Welcome to Day One of what is arguably the biggest presidential scandal involving a foreign government since Iran-Contra,” further describing it as a “class-five political hurricane that’s hitting Washington.”

Three scandals of different magnitudes, with different details. What do they have in common?

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Numbing the pain of self-inflicted wounds in Trump's America

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 18:01:00 +0000

Lady Liberty is in an abusive relationship with Uncle Sam.

Try as she might to break the hold that he has on her, she remains tormented by his maltreatment, but is bound by years of tradition and obligation, and unable to imagine a life independent of him. Though he’s raped and beaten her repeatedly, she finds a way to convince herself that he has redeeming qualities, along with a seemingly endless supply of second chances. She tells herself things will get better if only she could give him precisely what he wants, no matter how incongruent it may be with her safety or peace of mind. Despite her best efforts, he remains disgruntled and dissatisfied, and the abuse continues with very little hope of mitigation, and absolute certainty of escalation.

As we watch the disastrous dysfunction of Donald Trump’s first 30 days in office unfold, it becomes ever more apparent that we as a nation are already deep in the throes of an unhealthy relationship with a president and party that are hellbent on our oppression. In other words, welcome to Stockholm syndrome on a national scale.

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We must keep protesting—but we need a lot more action

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 16:40:32 +0000

America preaches the virtues of democracy, meritocracy, and fairness. They say anyone who works hard has equal access to success in this country. But it turns out that’s not the case.

Hillary Clinton was the most qualified candidate running in the 2016 election, bar none. Several million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than they did for Donald Trump. And yet she lost the Electoral College. Donald Trump did everything humanly possible to lose the election—yet he won.

Millions of Americans called their senators, imploring them not to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Who is Betsy DeVos? She is a wealthy Michigan politico who spends her days lobbying Congress to dismantle the public school system and install a “voucher system” in its place.

Over the last few days, many of us residing in my Houston-area school district have been seeking out candidates to run for our local school board. The current group making decisions for the Humble Independent School District is an ALEC-driven board that recently installed Elizabeth Fagen, the failed former superintendent of Douglas County, Colorado, at the helm. Most of the district's parents were against the appointment. Many parents and students rallied and conducted several well-designed protests at the district's headquarters. They attended the school board meetings. They spoke. They made their points with researched data. But the board ignored them and put the district under the control of someone who does not have the best interest of public schools in mind.

America is at a crossroads. On issue after issue, Americans are deceived by politicians not honoring their promises or effecting their will. The calls, emails, faxes, and protests do not seem to make a difference. Is it all for naught? Yes, it is—if we don't change the paradigm.

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Trump Trauma vs. No Drama Obama

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 15:20:34 +0000

The presidency of popular vote loser Donald Trump is now one month old. There have been a few hiccups—if hiccups mean mind-bogglingly stupid missteps that demonstrate exactly what an in-over-his-head amateur Trump actually is. By comparison, the Trump Administration thus far has made Wile E. Coyote actually look like the Super Genius he sometimes claims to be.

Other presidents have had problems getting their nominees confirmed by the Senate, although it really is satisfying to watch the implosion of Andy Puzder, a nominee to run the Labor Department who has a record of holding laborers in contempt—the human ones, at least. However, if that had been Trump’s biggest problem, he’d be on par with his predecessors. It wasn’t.

Let’s start with the fact—pun intended—that this president and his surrogates have been caught in so many lies that the media, as Amanda Marcotte explains, is grappling with how to cover them without also amplifying them. We’ve all heard that 1984 is back on the best seller list, but don’t forget the specifics of what that book described: a regime that could proclaim that 2+2=5 and make you believe it. While Trump can’t punish you for not believing the sun was shining when it was actually raining, he certainly has no compunction about proclaiming such a thing—even though you can watch a video that shows otherwise. Having a president that divorced from reality causes real trauma.

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Ona Judge Staines: The black woman who escaped from and outwitted George and Martha Washington

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 14:00:46 +0000

As President’s Day rolls around again this year, many schools around the nation will continue to embellish and whitewash the mythology of George Washington, the so-called “Father of our Country.” Several years ago, I wrote a response to this burnishing of his image in “George Washington is not my 'Great White Father'” wherein I discussed his history as a slaveholder. Since that time new research has been published by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, professor of Black American studies and history at the University of Delaware. It should be read by anyone seeking a view of American history through the eyes of the enslaved, rather than solely through the perspective of the enslavers and their apologist biographers.  Armstrong Dunbar’s book is Never Caught. The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom. When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire. Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs. At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property. [...]



Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: your virtual morning protest rally

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 12:00:54 +0000

“Enemy of the people” is a phrase freighted with such history, and such horror, that it seems impossible that anyone would use it seriously. It’s four words that bring with them the sound of boots marching, the metallic smell of blood, the rumble of approaching trains. And those words are no accident.

Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, advised Americans to take President Trump’s attacks on the media “seriously,” following the president’s denunciations of the press as the “enemy.”

There’s a lie we tell ourselves. That lie is “never again.” Because of course it will happen again. It already has happened again. It happened again in Cambodia, where over 2 million people died for such crimes as being too well educated, or wearing glasses. It happened in China when the Hundred Flowers Campaign urged people to speak up … so that troublemakers could be identified and slaughtered. It happened in Rwanda where hate radio used the delightful slogan “the graves are not yet full,” as well as another blood-soaked maxim out of history, “the final solution.”

It just keeps happening. Again. And again.

Why isn’t “national leader declares free press an enemy of the people” on the list of preludes to fascism? Because it’s not a prelude.

Rule Number 3

Institutions will not save you. It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed. The capture of institutions in Turkey has been carried out even faster, by a man once celebrated as the democrat to lead Turkey into the EU. 

“Never again” may be a lie, but it’s also a promise; a commitment to fight on every day, at every step, through every means available. Because while “never” may never be true, “not this time” certainly can be.

Okay, come on in.

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Open thread for night owls: EPA veteran, after years of fighting agency, returns to wreck it

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 03:30:36 +0000

At InsideClimate News, Marianna Lavelle writes—EPA Official, After Years of Work to Thwart the Agency's Mission, Returns to Carry Out Trump Agenda: David Schnare's career with the Environmental Protection Agency began in the agency's infancy in 1978 with the critical mission of implementing the new Safe Drinking Water Act. Over the next 33 years, he would call the EPA home as an enforcement lawyer and policy analyst, while also working in his outside time to try to undermine some of the agency's pressing priorities. During his tenure at the EPA, Schnare simultaneously directed a conservative think tank's environmental program that opposed regulation as a pollution remedy. He testified to Congress that carbon regulations do greater harm to the environment than carbon dioxide. He also co-founded a legal organization funded partly by fossil fuel interests, and through that group launched an effort to make public climate scientists' private emails to call their work into question. Now in his late 60s, Schnare returns to the EPA in a far more powerful role: reshaping it under another foe of regulation, President Donald Trump. He is one of 11 appointees to the agency's beachhead team that is beginning to implement the administration's agenda, which Trump has promised will include a rollback of environmental regulations. Schnare said he's been asked to stay on full-time beyond the transition. That's a chilling prospect for environmental and climate activists, who worry his history of aggressive campaigns against scientists and fossil fuel regulation mean he will work against the agency's mission. "The bottom line is he has been a virulent EPA critic who has worked to block health protections saving many tens of thousands of lives a year," said John Walke, director of the clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.[...] ”In Argentina during the “dirty war” from 1976 to 1983, the military junta was said to “disappear” people. They disappeared dissidents, activists, left-wingers, Jews, both men and women. Those to be disappeared were, if at all possible, taken secretly, so that even the people who loved them might not know their fate. Fifteen thousand to thirty thousand Argentines were thus eradicated. People stopped talking to their neighbors and their friends, silenced by the fear that anything, anyone, might betray them. Their existence grew ever thinner as they tried to protect themselves against non-existence. The word disappear, a verb, became a noun as so many thousands were transformed into the disappeared, los desaparecidos, but the people who loved them kept them alive. The first voices against this disappearance, the first who overcame their fear, spoke up, and became visible, were those of mothers. They were called Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo [...] and having appeared, they refused to go away.                     —Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me, 2014 [...]



Even as Clinton easily won Connecticut, the GOP made big gains in both chambers of the legislature

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 20:36:17 +0000

Daily Kos Elections’ project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation ventures to Connecticut, a blue state with two closely divided chambers. You can find our master list of states here, which we'll be updating as we add new states; you can also find all our data from 2016 and past cycles here.

The Nutmeg State backed Hillary Clinton 55-41, but the 2016 legislative elections were not particularly good for Team Blue. The GOP reduced the Democratic state House majority from 86-64 to 79-72, while they chipped their state Senate edge from 21-15 to an 18-18 tie. Democrats still control the upper chamber thanks to Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman’s tie-breaking vote, but it’s not a great place for Democrats to be in. All legislators serve two-year terms.   

We’ll start by looking at the state Senate. Clinton carried 27 of the 36 seats, trading six Obama districts for three Romney seats. The median point in the chamber backed Clinton 54-41, almost the same as her statewide win. No Democrats sit in Trump seats, though Clinton only carried two blue seats by a margin of less than 2 percent. However, nine Republicans represent Clinton turf. The bluest GOP-held seat is SD-26, which includes Ridgefield and part of Westport; Clinton won 59-36 here, a big improvement from Romney’s 50-49 win in 2012, but Republican state Sen. Antonietta Boucher won a fifth term 60-40.

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Nuts & Bolts: Caucus and Ancillary Committees

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 02:00:35 +0000

Welcome back, Saturday Campaign D-I-Y’ers! For those who tune in, welcome to the Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic campaign. Each week, we discuss issues that help drive successful campaigns. If you’ve missed prior diaries, please visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide.

This week, I’ll be in Laramie, Wyoming, visiting the Wyoming Democratic Party. At a state meeting, several elements come into play, from the general meeting itself to forums and sessions which are connected to the party.

Today, we’re going to talk about ancillary committees and caucuses within the Democratic state parties, the purpose of them, and how they play a role in helping to elect Democratic candidates in your state.

States have many options to recognize caucus or ancillary committees. Some organizations are nationwide, like Federated Democratic Women’s Clubs. Other groups around the country include: African-American Caucus, LatinX caucus, Asian American Caucus, Progressive Caucus, Disabilities Caucus, Local Elected Caucus, LGBT caucus, and so on. Your state can recognize as many or as few caucus groups as can successfully organize and support the party.

Caucus and ancillary groups can unite people with similar issues. But, what makes for a strong ancillary group/caucus, and what makes for an ancillary group that struggles?

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This week in science: House Harkonnen in chaos

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 01:00:42 +0000

Hey conservatives, we’re in the middle of a national crisis involving a nuclear armed adversary, and I’m pretty sure Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have let one of the enemy’s freakin spy-ships troll our eastern seaboard with complete impunity in the middle of that without at least saying something about it. Based on the disjointed presser Thursday afternoon, Trump is now aware his Russian pals are fearlessly tapping US networks while we are embroiled in his needless Kremlin quagmire. Is he planning on at least taking a symbolic position against it, or is he still too busy whining about losing the popular vote to even notice? A Russian intelligence ship has been spotted off the coast of Groton, Connecticut, where Naval Submarine Base New London is located, U.S. defense officials said. The ship, approximately 30 miles from the U.S. naval base, is still in international waters.  Originally, I had asked rhetorically, why can’t we make the life of that spy crew miserable by buzzing it with US aircrafts, or escorting it everywhere with big nasty warships? Why don’t we just jam and blind the shit out of it it with US technical know-how? Then I watched the press conference and realized we can’t do anything subtle, we can’t risk actions with a defined but fragile margin of error and unforgiving consequences if that margin is exceeded, because we have an overhyped, pampered trust-fund doofus in the hotseat who could plunge the country and much of the world into recession, depression, or maybe even extinction, with the click of a mouse in the midst of a routine pique while surfing the Internet. If there were a Pulitzer Prize for best written single paragraphs by political observers, these would surely be in the running: CNN — Donald Trump has benefited from leaks more than the CEO of Depends. So forgive me if I am unpersuaded by Trump's complaints about them. USA Today — If you start firing people for lying, for purveying fake news, for making U.S. foreign policy before you take office, for possibly having financial ties to Russia and possibly being vulnerable to blackmail by Russia, for being investigated by U.S. intelligence agencies — well. Where will it stop? Well, at least some science goes on: To poop where no man has pooped before: On Wednesday morning, NASA rewarded five members of the public — two doctors, a dentist, an engineer and a product designer — for their creative ideas for how to poop in a spacesuit. Yes, it sounds a little bit funny. But unmet toilet needs could have life or death consequences for an astronaut in an emergency situation. Yes, there really is a move afoot by the usual suspects to eliminate the EPA: The bill ... doesn’t bother with anything like wondering what happens to the data the agency collects, or the enforcement the agency car[...]



This week in the war on workers: Iowa Republicans go all Scott Walker on public workers

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 23:55:33 +0000

Iowa Republican sped through a bill targeting public workers in ways similar to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s signature union-busting measure:

Lawmakers in Iowa have voted to dismantle the state’s 40-year-old collective bargaining law, dramatically weakening the power of public sector labor unions and leaving some 185,000 public workers unable to bargain over benefits, healthcare, vacations, retirement, and nearly all workplace issues outside of wages.

Iowa is a right-to-work state, and the new law would prevent voluntary union dues from being deducted from a public employee’s paycheck. It would also require regular recertification votes. Police officers, firefighters and transit workers are exempt from most of the bill’s provisions.

According to a Des Moines Register editorial:

Instead of solving problems, the bill creates them. Blocking most public-sector unions from negotiating over health insurance leaves hundreds of thousands of workers (and their family members) wondering whether they would still receive health insurance through their public-sector employers.

Legislative Republicans don’t have any answers. Neither does Gov. Terry Branstad, who supports the bill. Instead, they try to shift the focus to an entirely different, barely baked idea they’re floating about a “voluntary” and “statewide” health insurance program to cover affected public workers. And they have provided zero details on what that would look like.

But answers and details are not what this is about. It’s about attacking worker power by weakening unions so that they can’t fight as effectively on behalf of their workers or to pass laws that benefit all workers.

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Spotlight on green news & views: Regime scrubs gov't website for kids to erase climate warnings

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 23:00:36 +0000

This is the 483rd edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). The Green Spotlight appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the February 11 edition. More than 26,440 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in the series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it. OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES Dartagnan writes—A Government Website For Kids Is Scrubbed Of Warnings About Climate Change, Fracking, And Coal: “An article jointly published in Pro-Publica and The Atlantic shows that the incoming Trump Administration has taken its climate-change denier message to a new low by erasing inconvenient facts from a popular, award-winning website designed to inform children about forms of energy. Twenty years ago, the Energy Information Administration, an arm of the Department of Energy, created Energy Kids, a site to inform kids about energy sources and the science behind them. [...] Drawing about 410,000 unique visitors last year, the site has won multiple awards for its content and design. But that was during the Obama Administration. Wary of wholesale changes being made to government websites to accommodate Trump and the anti-science ‘philosophy’ of the fossil fuel industry that supports him, the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a group of scientists, lawyers and activists, identified numerous glaring alterations to the site made during the past month: In recent weeks, language on the website describing the environmental impacts of energy sources has been reworked, and two pie charts concerning the link between coal and greenhouse gas emissions have been removed altogether.” [...]



Intrigue and tragedy strike ruling family

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 22:30:35 +0000

That headline looks like it could almost come off of a real story about a real family here in the US. The good news is this story is not about Donald Trump and friends ruling the US as agents of KAOS, but there is drama, there is mystery, and there’s even murder most foul. Brief history lesson: North Korea is a country out of time, the last lone remnant of Cold War communist autocracies from the Asian theatre of the 20th century Cold War. It’s a poor, undeveloped country led by the unhinged dictator son of a communist sociopathic dictator that we’ll call Dear Leader and Dear Leader Jr.

Junior is a weird bird, a ruthless brat who controls the population using the mushroom strategy of keeping everyone in the dark and feeding them shit. He’s a sort of  an international trust fund kid on steroids. Junior’s only real export comes in the form of extorting fellow nations by promising to shut up for a few months if they pay him. Analysts and pundits regularly predict his days are numbered and sooner or later, they will be right. Yeah, I know, it still sounds too close to home. Anyway, Junior’s half-brother was suddenly attacked, killedapparently poisoned—the other day at a local airport and that’s where we are now:

Malaysian police on Wednesday detained a woman holding Vietnam travel papers and are looking for a "few" other foreign suspects in connection with the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother, police said.

Lawmakers in South Korea had earlier cited their spy agency as saying it suspected two female North Korean agents had murdered Kim Jong Nam, and U.S. government sources also told Reuters they believed North Korean assassins were responsible.

Next move? Who knows! That’s a big problem with a nuclear armed but otherwise goofy, poorly run, opaque government where everything is ultimately decided by one incompetent, ultra-isolated kook surrounded by a bunch of unscrupulous relatives and bootlicking toadies. And yes, I’m talking about North Korea here.

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Trump campaign rally in Melbourne, Fla., begins soon

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:59:10 +0000

Hard to know what to expect given Pr*sident Trump’s latest public encounters. Perhaps he will let us know who else is on his enemies list. You can watch here if you have the stomach for it and nothing better to do with your weekend, like scrubbing toilets. The Resist: Melbourne people are on line here. If  you yourself are there and have Tweets or video of the doings, join us in the comments. You can see some protest photos here. x x YouTube Video Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:28:19 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Rep. Bill Posey of Florida’s 8th District (Melbourne) seems to credit Donald Trump with the death of Fidel Castro.  Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:31:33 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Florida’s greased palm Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi gives us a few words. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:33:57 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades With the state flag’s echo of the Rebel battle flag in the background, the Battle Hymn of the Republic rings out to greet Trump. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:38:14 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Auld lang syne? Uh…. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:50:58 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Given the cluelessness, perhaps the ending music will be John Brown’s Body.  Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:53:21 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Not 5 minutes in, we’re on the “dishonest media.”  Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:56:17 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades If only Trump was intoning that “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in a courtroom wearing a jumpsuit the color of his hair. xWhat you are hearing from Trump right now isn't spin, it's delusion— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) February 18, 2017 Optimism in the polls may be high, as the pr*sident claims, but there’s something else happening there, too. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 11:04:57 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Trump finds something wrong with having two Air Force Ones? What could possibly go awry if there was only one? Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 11:21:46 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Hammering on just a few of same old themes and spouting the same lies no matter how often they are debunked. That’s the Trumpian playbook. It’s also the Joseph Goebbels playbook. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 11:36:40 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Obviously, the Trump Team has schooled the man on how to treat Melania better in public.  [...]



Polar ice reaching alarming low levels at both ends of the Earth

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:00:30 +0000

Sea and land ice at both poles crept toward alarming seasonal lows this week. Freak heat waves in the high Arctic have kept ice from forming at the usual winter rate, and now summer down under is taking its toll on the world’s largest ice sheets:

Sea ice in the Antarctic is at its lowest level since records began while the Arctic is on track for another historic new low. According to figures from the US National Snow & Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), sea ice in the Antarctic covered just 2.3 million square kilometres on 12 February — compared to the average between 1981 and 2010 of more than three million on that day.

Warmer temperatures do more than directly melt the ice and feed runaway polar amplification of global warming. More energy in the surface troposphere, the part of the atmosphere we and just about everything else lives in, means more wind, faster evaporations and sublimation, leading to bigger weather systems and storms. The precise activity that further stirs and helps break up icy formations, especially tongues and large shelves of ice floating on top of polar seas.

The Arctic as defined by a permanent ice-cap is almost certainly doomed in our lifetime. The immediate future of Antarctica in a rapidly warming world is not as well understood, but if steps aren't taken soon to significantly curb global greenhouse gas emissions, it will not survive in its current, pristine form. 

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