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Published: Sun, 22 Jan 2017 23:18:53 +0000

Last Build Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2017 23:18:53 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



It's complicated: Reflections on Obama's legacy from a black progressive woman

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 22:00:28 +0000

When I’m not vacillating between intense anger and denial about a Trump presidency, I find myself in constant reflection about the legacy of our nation’s first black president. I realize that when I think of him, I also make the connection to my own history and the lessons I have learned over the course of my lifetime about the complexity of being a black woman and a progressive.

My political awakening began with my grandparents. An interracial couple living in Baltimore, they found each other years before Loving v. Virginia made their union legal. Growing up, my white grandfather had never known anyone who wasn’t a Democrat. My black grandmother’s mother was at one point a Republican (who identified with “the party of Lincoln”) but had become a Democrat long before she died, and my grandmother is a Democrat who has friends across the ideological spectrum.

As the first grandchild who also happened to be an only child, and as the grandchild who lived closest in proximity to my grandparents, I spent a lot of time with them during my youth and teen years. I don’t remember exactly when we started having political conversations. Perhaps I just picked up on a number of things that they said around me and made meaning from them. Looking back, I do remember that I learned two distinct things about politics from them. One was that as an interracial couple (each of whom were in their second marriage), their lives and marriage were inherently political because of the bodies they lived in. I remember hearing stories about how they navigated their relationship during the days of segregation—when they would have to drive to different states to eat together since they were often refused service and  couldn’t legally eat together in many restaurants in Maryland. I learned my most powerful lessons about race, identity, and privilege from these early conversations. The second thing I learned from them was that even though one can identify as a Democrat and/or progressive, their political views may not fit into a box. I learned that as political creatures we are, and can be, incredibly complicated.

Likely because of my upbringing, I identified as a Democrat long before I even voted for the first time in 1996. So the next year when I was a sophomore in college, I decided to volunteer for the local Republican Committee, just to explore their beliefs. “If I say I’m not a Republican, I should at least know why,” I told my grandfather when he asked why on Earth I would do such a thing. To this day, he still can’t reconcile this action in his mind. Luckily his concern would not be an issue. That experience cemented what I already knew since childhood—I was, and would forever be, a Democrat.

Yet as I grew older, the complications of identity politics became clearer to me.

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Trump gives FBI Director James Comey a warm, warm welcome

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 21:46:18 +0000

Thank the ones that brought you, I guess:

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Criminal charges against executives who break the law protect us from greed. What say you, Trump?

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 20:40:27 +0000

Finally, some progress. Over two years ago I called for the federal government to bring criminal charges against the executives at auto parts manufacturer Takata. What had those executives done? They destroyed evidence that showed their products weren’t safe. As the law mandated, they did testing. When their products failed the tests, rather than spend money fixing the problem they lied—and at least 11 people died. Almost 200 more people were injured.

I made a similar call after Volkswagen got caught cheating on its emissions testing—monkeying with results to make it look like their vehicles weren’t trashing our environment nearly as badly as they actually were. I said then that corporate criminals cheat because they don’t fear jail time. I stand by that assessment.

The progress mentioned above? As of last week, corporate executives at both Takata and Volkswagen now face criminal charges in the U.S. The Takata execs live in Japan, and Tokyo has cooperated in the past with extradition requests like the one required in this case, but we’ll see how this one plays out. The Takata company itself also agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud and pay a $1 billion fine. Volkswagen is paying a total of $4.3 billion in fines, and six of its executives face charges. One of them, Oliver Schmidt, got nabbed in a Florida airport, so we presume he will stand trial. The other five live in Germany, which typically refuses extradition requests.

These actions are not coincidences. They are the result of a shift in policy initiated in late 2015 by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. For years the Obama Department of Justice faced criticism—not unreasonable—that it did not seek to hold corporate executives responsible for the crimes they committed. The criticism focused in particular on the failure to punish financial industry big shots for fraud and other crimes that crashed our economy in 2008 and plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Depression. The bad actors among big corporations as institutions also got off relatively light as well. Whatever the reasoning behind this approach, a tougher one might also have helped Democrats at the ballot box in 2016. This represents another mistake that contributed to the election of popular vote loser Donald Trump.

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There's a reason Trump's dark, bitter inauguration speech sounded kinda (white) nationalist

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 19:17:02 +0000

When Donald Trump’s aides claimed he was writing his inauguration speech, many people scoffed. Then we heard the speech and the response shifted back toward the possibility that Trump had indeed written it, given how self-centered, bitter, and divisive it was. But no. As was generally assumed to begin with, the claim that Trump wrote the speech was false. One of its actual authors is an eyebrow-raiser, though:

President Trump’s inauguration speech was written by two of the president’s closest aides and not Trump himself, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

A White House official told the Journal that Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller penned the address.

Yup. The inaugural address of the 45th president of the United States was co-written by a white nationalist.

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Lincoln’s heir

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 19:30:21 +0000

As American presidents enter their final months in the White House, they invariably focus on their legacies. That effort to shape history’s judgment invariably leads to comparisons to the greatest of them all: Abraham Lincoln.

George W. Bush and his amen corner certainly tried. In September 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice compared the three-year old Iraq debacle to the Civil War. “I know there were people who said, 'Why don't we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves?’” Five months later, Rudy Giuliani explained that Lincoln had “that ability that a leader has—a leader like George Bush” to “look into the future.” The next spring, Vice President Dick Cheney similarly compared a “very courageous, very consistent, very determined” President Bush to Honest Abe, asking ABC News viewers to “think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War.” And in a hagiographic January 2008 Fox News documentary called George W. Bush: Fighting to the Finish, a fawning Bret Baier portrayed the Iraq war commander in chief as a 21st century incarnation to the Great Emancipator:

"We talked a lot about President Lincoln…I tell you what--he thinks about Lincoln and the tough times that he had during the Civil War. 600,000 dead. The country essentially hated him when he was leaving office. And the President reflects on that. This is a President who is really reflecting on his place in history."

Leaving aside for now Baier’s butchery of history (Lincoln was assassinated just six months after comfortably winning re-election), it’s clear that George W. Bush’s place in history won’t be a happy one. His war of choice in Iraq was a calamity measured in blood and treasure, and unleashed sectarian conflict that 14 years later is still tearing the Middle East apart. Bush also presided over an unprecedented meltdown of the American financial system that produced the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. As to his legacy, Bush said hopefully in 2013, “ultimately, history will judge.”

History, on the other hand, will be kind to Barack Hussein Obama, 44th president of the United States. Facing monolithic opposition before he even took the oath of office, President Obama nevertheless saved his country from the abyss. During a period of rapid economic, social, and environmental change, Obama readied his country for the future. Over his eight years in the People’s House, Obama helped expand membership in our national community by enabling women, LGBT people, blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and others to redefine the very idea of who is American. And even with the prospect of a period of reaction that will undo some of these gains, over time Obama’s vision will be vindicated and realized, including among many who vilified him at the time.

Much like Abraham Lincoln.

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Top adviser confirms Trump will never release his tax returns. What is he so afraid of?

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 19:08:35 +0000

Remember all those times Donald Trump claimed he’d release his tax returns when he was done being audited? Prepare yourself for a shock: He lied. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway confirmed that on ABC’s This Week:

[Stephanopoulos:] You mentioned a couple hundred thousand people who sent in petitions on health care, talking about health care, you also have more than 200,000 who petitioned the White House calling on President Trump to release his full tax returns with all information needed to verify emolument's clause compliance.

Whenever 100,000 petition, that triggers a White House response. So, what is the White House response?

CONWAY: The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care. They voted for him.

“People didn’t care. They voted for him”—except that the majority of people didn’t vote for him. No matter how many times a member of the Trump regime suggests otherwise, it will continue to be true that he lost the popular vote.

Additionally:

60 percent of respondents to a Pew Research Center survey released on Jan. 10 said that Trump has a responsibility to release his tax returns.

But Trump is really, really afraid of what we’d learn if he did that, so he seems to be abandoning all of the delaying and excuses he offered during the campaign in favor of a flat no that adds one more lie to his sizable pile of lies. It reopens the question of what he’s so afraid of, though, and where early in the campaign, a leading theory was that we’d find out how rich he wasn’t, now his possible debts to Russians and other likely violations of the emoluments clause are at the top of the list.

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Betsy DeVos: Dangerously unqualified to be education secretary

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 18:00:26 +0000

Campaign Action

When my son started his education, he went to a private Catholic school. This was not my choice—it was my ex-wife’s choice. I wanted to send him to the public school down the street from me. That being said, it was the school that she and her brother and sisters went to. My ex-wife paid his tuition out of her own pocket and did not expect tax dollars to go toward our son’s tuition. I have no complaints about the education he received at that school. The teachers were exemplary and the curriculum, other than religion classes, was stringent. There were no special needs children in the school, and diversity? There was none. 

After eighth grade, we sent him to a public high school. Again, I have no complaints about the education he is receiving in school, and his teachers have been and continue to be commendable. One of his teachers is also a wrestling coach. When my son arrives at school at 6:00 AM to go lift weights for wrestling, that teacher is there taking my son and his fellow wrestlers through their workout routine. He teaches all day and does not go home until 6:30 at night when practice is over. If there is a dual meet, he is at school until 8:30 PM. If it is an away meet, he may not get home until 9:00 PM—and he still has to grade papers.

While not all teachers are this dedicated, many of them are. They not only have to teach, they also have to resolve conflicts, play social worker, and in some cases play mom or dad. They know how to do their job, and most do it well.

Which leads me to secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos’ testimony—specifically a line of questioning that Sen. Al Franken pursued.

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Trump's people can't stop lying about crowd size. Or, as they call it, offering 'alternative facts.'

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 16:58:36 +0000

After a bad first full day, the Trump regime decided to make it a bad second full day, too, sticking with the lies about crowd size that made day one so bad. On Saturday, Donald Trump himself lied about the size of his inauguration crowd, then sent White House press secretary Sean Spicer out to lie even bigger, claiming it had been the biggest inauguration crowd ever. This didn’t go over well with the traditional media or on social media, because hello, we have picture and Metro ridership statistics showing that these are lies. But Trump’s people can’t back down from a lie—especially one so dear to the heart of their boss—so Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus went on the Sunday talk shows to lie some more. It didn’t go so well. 

On Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked why Trump would send Spicer out to lie to the press, saying “It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one.”

"No, it doesn't. Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck," Conway replied. "You're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point really is—"

"Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts?" Todd interjected, looking incredulous. "Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true."

Yes, now blatant lies are “alternative facts.” Let’s keep an eye out for that terminology going forward. 

Meanwhile, things weren’t going any better for Reince Priebus on Fox News Sundaywhere host Chris Wallace was not having Priebus’ claims that “It's really not about crowd size.”

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Welcome to the new American kleptocracy

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 16:40:26 +0000

During a Q&A with Oprah Winfrey, Van Jones, and Ava DuVernay, director of the new Netflix documentary 13th which documents the links between the clear flaws in the abolition of slavery and the ongoing criminalization of African-American men, Jones spoke in very stark terms about America’s future under Trump.

Asked by Winfrey what he expected of the new administration, Jones said, “I think mostly bad things. Both parties have a challenge. I think the president will prove to be authoritarian … You will see a horrendous abuse of power by this government. I think it’s good to hope for the best but we need to expect and prepare for the very worst.”

He added: “I think Trump is much worse than people understand … I think we’re on the verge of a kleptocracy.”

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a flaw in that logic. Jones is absolutely correct. And then some.

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Popular vote loser tweets angrily about millions of people protesting him

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 16:07:51 +0000

Uh oh. Someone let Donald back into his Twitter account. 

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Psst, 2.9 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for you. But it’s true! Possibly some of the people who marched against you on Saturday didn’t vote, and are regretting it now. Hopefully they won’t make that mistake again in 2018 or 2020, which would be more bad news for you.

It seems to have taken an hour for a staffer or family member to regain control of Trump’s Twitter and tweet the patently false (for Trump, anyway) claim that “Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.”

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Media offer wide range of opinions on how to cover Trump

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 15:20:23 +0000

No question: The media love to write about the media. And the incoming administration of Donald Trump offers an opportunity for fresh fodder from journalists to give advice to other journalists on how best to do their work.

There’s no shortage of “how-to” pieces on media coverage of a President Trump. They run the gamut from “We’re all going to die” to “Now we’re free to be real journalists again.” Reporters are even getting advice from Russian journalists: “Welcome to the era of bullshit.”

The truth—and there still is such a thing these days, even in a “post-truth” world—is likely somewhere in the middle, although official “news” certainly will lean toward exaggeration, lies, and propaganda by the Trump administration. Reporters know they’ll be forced to climb “Bullshit Mountain,” as Jon Stewart used to say on The Daily Show. But as long as reporters remember to do their jobs honestly, without worrying about getting skewered in an unpresidential tweet, we’re likely to be served better by the Fourth Estate.

The reaction to the possibility of closing the White House daily briefing room went from  “about damn time—it’s too small, anyway” to “OMG we’ll no longer have access.” When the Trump team conceded that they wouldn’t close the room but would make decisions about who would be in or out of the 50-seat space, the reaction turned to “but that’s the White House Correspondents’ Association’s job!” to Democracy is under assault.

Trump’s shit-show of a press conference shows us that any news conference he holds is going to be worthless anyway. So what is a White House reporter to do?

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'I Am Not Your Negro' will introduce James Baldwin to a new generation

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 14:00:24 +0000

There are voices we all need to hear. At a time when the United States is once again faced with our chilling legacy of racism and other ills including sexism, homophobia, and economic inequality, one of the most powerful voices from our recent past is speaking out again through the medium of documentary film. 

It is the voice of James Baldwin. The film, I Am Not Your Negro, will be opening in movie theaters on Feb. 2. 

I Am Not Your Negro, directed by Raoul Peck, is a haunting documentary that uses James Baldwin's words to narrate a powerful film about the nuances of race and class in America.

James Baldwin was a groundbreaking writer: Black, gay and unapologetic. He became a household name by the 1960s and even graced the cover of Time Magazine in 1963. His books like The Fire Next Time solidified him as a thought leader and political figure. With archival footage and Samuel L. Jackson narrating Baldwin's words, I Am Not Your Negro uses an incomplete manuscript from the Harlem native to tell a story that is frighteningly relevant today.  

The manuscript focused on three of his friends who died tragically: Medgar EversMalcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But this isn't just a doc about race and class. Baldwin's commentary is much more layered. His insight was and is heartbreaking, poignant and unforgettable. With pure cinematic magic, Peck delivered one of the best documentaries of the year.

At a time when protests for justice are once again erupting across this nation, Baldwin’s voice is prescient. We will be reminded that the movement lives on, though Baldwin, Evers, Malcolm, and King are no longer among the living.

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Never stop marching

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 12:05:29 +0000

They came. The call went out and … they came. In Washington, yes. In Los Angeles. Boston. Chicago. In Denver, and in Austin. But also in Bethel, Alaska where the high temperature for the day was -21. They came in conservative strongholds like Lubbock, Texas and Colorado Springs. They marched in Oxford, Mississippi, and in Oklahoma City. They marched in London and Paris and Madrid and flooded the streets of Amsterdam. They marched on the tiny Isle of Eigg in the Scottish Hebrides, and by their thousands in Nairobi. They brought their children. They got up in retirement homes where even 101-year-old feet showed they could still march.

They invented chants. And songs. They created signs that were clever, arch, hilarious, artistic, defiant, angry, touching, and heartbreaking. They wore T-shirts in sunshine and coats in the driving snow. They wore those glorious, glorious hats.

It was beautiful. So beautiful that it sometimes hurt to watch—in the best possible way.

After a day that seemed so dark, where it felt like hope had been crushed and the light had been dimmed, when optimism seemed lost and justice diminished, they showed that there is still a word that means all those things, all at once, and much, much more.

Women.

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Come inside. Let’s read some pundits.

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Women's March is massive from coast to coast—may be largest protest in US history

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 23:54:54 +0000

There have been large protest events in the past, such as a 1982 anti nuclear protest in Central Park that drew a crowd of a million. There have also been protests spread across multiple cities, for example, protests over the War in Iraq that put 10 million people on the streets of cities around the world on a weekend in 2003.

The Women’s March has surpassed many famous events of the past, taking it’s place as one of the greatest protests in history. While media predictions may have seemed generous at the time …

On January 21, approximately 200,000 people will convene in Washington, DC to stand up for gender equality after Donald Trump's inauguration.

The actual event has turned out to be many times larger. The crowd in Washington, DC exceeded 500,000 by 9 AM, and the crowd in other cities may actually be larger.

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The total number of people on the march in the US alone, may exceed 3 million, with many more marching around the world.

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Open thread: Trump, criminal charges and unqualified

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 04:00:25 +0000

What’s coming up on Sunday Kos …

  • Do we think we are morally and intellectually superior, by Susan Grigsby
  • Evangelical Christian quits over Obamacare: I discovered I could no longer believe any of it, by Egberto Willies
  • Kentucky passes bill telling unions how to spend voluntary dues; House speaker can’t explain why, by David Akadjian
  • Media offers wide range of opinions on how to cover Trump, by Sher Watts Spooner
  • Criminal charges against executives who break the law protect us from greed. What say you, Trump, by Ian Reifowitz
  • ‘I’m not your negro’ will introduce James Baldwin to a new generation, by Denise Oliver Velez
  • Lincoln’s heir, by Jon Perr
  • Betsy DeVos, dangerously unqualified to be education secretary, by Mark E Andersen
  • Welcome to the new American kleptocracy, by Frank Vyan Walton
  • It's complicated: Reflections on Obama's legacy from a black progressive woman, by Kelly Macias
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This suburban Kansas City congressional seat swung from 54-44 Romney to 47-46 Clinton

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:53:16 +0000

Daily Kos Election’s project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide drops by Kansas, which is now the 49th state we’ve calculated. We’re waiting for North Carolina to assign most of its absentee votes to precincts, which they told us last week should be done “in the next few days.” You can find our complete data set here, which we'll update … well, when North Carolina comes in. Donald Trump carried Kansas 57-36, which on the surface looks pretty similar to Mitt Romney’s 60-38 win in 2012. However, there was one very noteworthy difference: Hillary Clinton narrowly carried the 3rd District, located in suburban Kansas City, by a 47-46 margin, a huge swing from Romney’s 54-44 win here. Correctly anticipating that this district would be particularly hostile to Trump, national Democrats launched an expensive ad campaign late in the cycle against GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder, aka that congressman who took a nude swim in the Sea of Galilee. However, Yoder still prevailed over Democrat Jay Sidie 51-41, though that was a darn sight better for Team Blue than 2014, when Yoder won 60-40, and Clinton’s close win here means the incumbent can’t rest easy in 2018. Kansas’s other three seats, meanwhile, decisively went for Trump. The Topeka-area 2nd District may be vacant soon, since GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins is considering running for governor next year. However, this district went from 56-42 Romney to 56-37 Trump, so it’s unlikely to be much of a Democratic target. Trump has nominated 4th District GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo to serve as head of the CIA, and if Pompeo is confirmed, there will be a special election to replace him in this Wichita seat. The 4th backed Trump 60-33, a larger margin of victory than Romney’s 60-38 win, so the special won’t be exciting. Finally, the rural western 1st District was little changed, going from 70-28 Romney to 69-24 Trump. We also have two pieces of housekeeping for the Sunflower State. Mystifyingly, the secretary of state’s office still hasn’t posted official county-level election results online, even though every other state in the union has. The state finally sent us the results by email after multiple official requests, so we’ve posted them here for everyone to access, since Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is obviously too busy chasing voter fraud ghosts to do his actual job. [...]



Nuts & Bolts: So, you want to talk to your Republican representative

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 01:59:23 +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.

While this series has focused on what it takes to build a successful campaign and successful county and state organizations, for the next few weeks I’m going to focus on how you, as a voter, can have an impact beyond the ballot box. We’re also going to look at the specific roles of your county, state, and national party and what those members can do in their positions to help you get your issue heard. 

Many of you have read the very well-written Indivisible Guide, a way to resist Trump. This week, I want to talk to you about how to turn those resistance efforts into campaign strength for the future.

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Trump disses Chief Justice John Roberts, rest of Supreme Court

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:55:59 +0000

One of the things that happens normally in inauguration week is that the president-elect visits the Supreme Court at the invitation of the Chief Justice, meeting with those justices who are available. But popular vote loser Donald Trump, classless as ever, didn't do that.

Roberts had extended an invitation to Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to visit the court before the ceremony but it couldn’t be arranged, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in an e-mail. Trump and Roberts met at Blair House, across the street from the White House, Arberg said.

Trump, during the presidential campaign, called the Republican-appointed Roberts an “absolute disaster” because of the chief justice’s vote to uphold Obamacare.

"It couldn't be arranged." So Trump summoned Robert to him, for what was characterized by a "brief" meeting. Remember that, Chief Justice Roberts. Remember the contempt with which this man will treat you.

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Trump tells CIA "maybe we’ll have another chance" to take Iraq's oil

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 22:30:26 +0000

This isn't ominous:

On the day after he was sworn in as the 45th president in American history, Donald Trump stepped in foreign policy controversy, saying the US should have kept Iraqi oil after its drawdown from the Iraq war, and suggesting “maybe we’ll have another chance” at accessing that natural resource.

He also said Iraqi oil was responsible for the rise of ISIS.

“If we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place, so we should have kept the oil, but, OK, maybe we’ll have another chance,” he said.

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This week in the war on workers: Protests against Betsy DeVos in 200 school districts

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 23:55:28 +0000

Teachers, students, and parents in 200 school districts nationwide protested on Thursday against Donald Trump’s pick of Betsy DeVos for education secretary. In Chicago:

Hundreds of Daniel Boone Elementary teachers, students and parents held hands and circled their school in Chicago's West Ridge neighborhood, as a sign of unity without any boundaries or walls.

"I believe this is a show not only to the neighborhood, but also to each other, where we stand. Because my fear is the message, the rhetoric, could turn communities against each other based on nothing," said Jennifer Gledhill, mother of a Boone third grader.

In Orlando:

Students staged a walkout Thursday at Lovell Elementary School as part of a protest. Students and teachers told News 6 that they want more emphasis placed on public schools, not less.

Rallies were also held in the Twin CitiesNewarkMiamiLos Angeles, and many more cities and towns.

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Trump regime goes (further) off the deep end, claims largest inaugural audience of all time

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 23:24:58 +0000

This is actually rather awesome. Awesome in the “huge and terrifying” sense. Despite the fact the entire nation watched Donald Trump speak in front of an audience a fraction of those we’ve seen come out for Barack Obama. Despite every network watching his limo roll past sad, empty bleachers for block after block. Despite the absolute fact that anyone can just flipping look at the relative puniness of his “crowd,” the Trump campaign is going all in on a Big Lie right off the bat.

Organizers for Trump’s inauguration expected 800,00. But what they got was something even smaller. While the National Park Service no longer provides crowd estimates (or tweets, thanks to Donald Trump) the former director of crowd logistics at the 2012 inauguration provided an estimate.

Trump 2017: 250,000

Obama 2013: 1,000,000

Obama 2009: 1,800,000

What happens when reality doesn’t line up with Trump’s fantasy in which he’s the best at everything? Reality has to move.

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Not only was Trump’s attendance a fraction of President Obama’s, even his television numbers were down.

Nearly 31 million people watched President Donald Trump’s inauguration, falling short of the audience that tuned in for Barack Obama eight years ago, according to Nielsen.

Perhaps Spicer knows something about the viewership … in Moscow?

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This week in science: I was strolling on the moon one day ...

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 23:00:27 +0000

First, they’re coming for the Affordable Care Act, then they’re coming for Medicare, and they’re even coming for the VA. But regardless of how much progress they make on those fronts, or how long it takes, or how much death and suffering they cause in the process, it turns out they’re greedily eyeing your health insurance, too: The legislation HHS nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) has offered over the years include mainstays of GOP plans that would usher in a drastic change in how most people receive their health care coverage. The employer-based insurance market covers seven times more people than the individual market. "What he's getting at here, and a lot of Republicans feel pretty strongly about this, to get a functioning insurance market, you have to get away from businesses buying the insurance," explained Joe Antos, a health policy scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.  Employer-based health insurance costs money. Corporations could make a little more money if they could toss you off your plan and close up the insurance shop. If Republicans succeed, health insurance will be priced far out of reach for 99 percent of us and your only recourse, in the event of serious injury or illness, will be for you or your loved one to suffer and die as quickly and cheaply as possible.  The crocodilians are masters of survival, breezing through at least two massive extinction events and a score of smaller ones. And now one local giant among them has gained some fame and maybe even a little bit of love. Only 12 humans have walked on the moon to date. The last one to do so, on Dec 14, 1972,  died this week at age 82, leaving half of the original 12 moonwalkers still with us. Eugene Cernan is perhaps most remembered for his spur of the moment rendition of “I was strolling on the moon one day,” sung while he was strolling on the moon one day. The most backassward Orc-filled, popular vote-losing administration and extremist wackjobs to ever slide into power is now in office. These clowns aren’t just willfully ignorant, they are proudly, openly hostile to any field that values hard-won facts over more pleasing fiction. Modern science in the US, and by extension the entire world, has never been in greater danger, and it’s happening at a particularly critical moment: From the linked blurb, last year was about 1.26°C (~2.3°F) warmer than the 1880-1920 base period. More data and tables can be found at the GISTEMP website here. This is the first time since thermometers were invented that we’ve had three consecutive years of record heat. And on the data, as if there were any doubt, NOAA concurs. [...]



Nearly 400 healthcare experts tell the Senate to reject Tom Price

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:26:30 +0000

Rep. Tom Price's (R-GA) nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services  should be rejected for two key reasons: first, his truly stunning corruption and second, because he would be a nightmare for the health of millions of Americans. Something like 400 health professionals—researchers and medical faculty members—have signed an open letter to Congress to tell them to reject Price. Their statement begins:

Not only is Congressperson Price accused of compromising himself with insider knowledge concerning stock trades on the health care market, but he has long advocated for changes in our health care system that will have devastating consequences for millions of Americans. Together with other Republicans, Price seeks to privatize Medicare, drastically cut funding for Medicaid and the Child Health Insurance Program, eliminate the Affordable Care Act, end funding for the many services provided by Planned Parenthood, damage women’s access to reproductive health measures more generally, and enable discrimination against LGBT individuals seeking health care.

Then follows the litany of programs he would destroy, from Obamacare to Medicaid and Medicare and Planned Parenthood, programs that cover a growing number of Americans

And in fact, it's not just people who don't have employer-sponsored insurance who could lose out with Price. He's has his own healthcare plan, one which would: end coverage for preexisting conditions, reduce benefits for people who have employer-sponsored plans, reinstate insurance companies' ability to cap annual and lifetime limits on coverage, and end the guarantee of preventive care without copays. These are all things that everyone with any kind of insurance get through the Affordable Care Act. All of which Price would jettison.

He's not going to be making the replacement law, but he would be the voice of the Trump administration in whatever it is Republicans might come up with. He'll be pushing his extreme vision for health care in America. Which looks even worse than what we had before Obamacare, because then we at least had decent Medicare, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood.

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Trump claims 'a million and a half' at his inauguration—delivers whooping lie in front of CIA

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:05:54 +0000

Donald Trump appeared at the CIA on Saturday, supposedly to reassure the intelligence community that he supported their work. But instead, Trump had other issues to discuss. Standing in front of the CIA’s memorial wall of agents who died in the line of service to the nation, Trump let fly, telling the CIA know who America’s real enemy is.

“I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth. They made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. ... exactly the opposite."

Apparently Trump's Twitter account is part of the dishonest media. But after telling the story of how the rain miraculously stopped when he was delivering his speech on Friday, he had an example of the media’s dishonesty—the size of his inauguration crowd.

"We had something like a million and a half people. It went all the way back to the Washington Monument. Then i turn on the media and they say we had 250,000 people. That's not bad. But it's a lie.  ... We caught them. We caught them in a lie, and it was a beauty."

It was clear that Donald Trump was going to lie about this, but the scale of the lie is staggering, even for Trump. Even more staggering? That he would tell this monster whopper right to the face of people whose job it is to do information analysis.

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Obama administration wants you to know you can sign up for Obamacare for another month

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:49:58 +0000

The Trump regime is just hours old, and it's already erased the Obamacare accomplishments web page. But they can't erase the archive or the achievement.

President Obama promised that he would make quality, affordable health care not a privilege, but a right. After nearly 100 years of talk, and decades of trying by presidents of both parties, that's exactly what he did. Today, 20 million more adults gained access to health coverage. We've driven the uninsured rate below 10 percent — the lowest level since we started keeping records — and built stronger, healthier communities through advancements in public health, science, and innovation.
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Even if Obamacare is repealed—especially if it is repealed—that won't be forgotten, nor will Americans forget who took it away from them. 

And Obamacare is still the law of the land. You can still sign up if you need to, until January 31. In regards to that, here's a parting gift from the Obama administration to the Trump regime.

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Major media outlets have some great coverage of the Women's March ... and then there's Fox News

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 18:50:23 +0000

It’s great to see the Women’s March getting wide coverage across the media spectrum, as hundreds of thousands from all walks off life gather around the country—Washington D.C. alone has an estimated 500,000 protesters, far eclipsing the sparse gathering for the inauguration of the popular vote loser—to show their opposition to the policies of the Trump Regime. From ABC to MSNBC ...

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… to CNN:

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… and CBS:

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Oh, and then there’s Fox News, where if you look carefully, you’ll see a teeny, tiny box noting a protest—singular! 

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Oh, Fox, if only the name Pravda wasn’t already taken … 

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Women's March On Washington (and everywhere else) much, MUCH larger than expected

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 19:01:31 +0000

300,000 in New York City. 125,000 in Boston. 50,000 in Austin, Texas. 15,000 in St. Louis. 10,000 in Portland, ME. Across the country, the numbers for the Women’s March have turned out to be not just high, but higher than anyone would have predicted. Cities that had expected two thousand got ten. Areas that had planned on ten thousand got a hundred. The overflow crowds are also happening in Washington, D.C. where so many have turned up that it’s proving difficult to actually march. A massive turnout at the Women's March on Washington has forced a change of plans. With the entire planned route filled with hundreds of thousands of protesters, organizers can't lead a formal march toward the White House. Something similar happened in Chicago, where 150,000 protesters showed up. While the rally will go on, the march portion of the Women's March on Chicago has been canceled after a mushrooming crowd of 150,000 packed the downtown event Saturday. In Washington, the numbers have dwarfed those of Trump’s inauguration. A city official in Washington says the turnout estimate for the Women's March on the National Mall now stands at 500,000 people. That's more than double the initial predictions. That was at 9:40 AM. It’s still growing. Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 · 7:30:42 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner Lexington, Kentucky. xLarge crowd in downtown Lex for #WomensMarch. Limestone & Short Street currently shutdown and traffic on other streets will be affected. pic.twitter.com/flJTHPVbv1— Lexington Police (@lexkypolice) January 21, 2017 Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 · 7:53:07 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner Madonna speaking at the Women’s March on Washington: “And to our detractors who insist that this march will never add up to anything? Fuck you. Fuck you." [...]



View from the Left: The White House press corps's 'slippery slope to collaboration' with Trump

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 19:00:28 +0000

The White House press corps is taking fire from all sides but, most pointedly, from the incoming administration and popular vote loser Donald Trump. I do not envy their predicament. Unfortunately, it looks as though they're preparing to simply enable their abuser in a futile effort that will do little to shed light on what Trump is actually doing. Witness this response from the vice president of the White House Correspondents Association, Margaret Talev, after Bloomberg's John Heilemann asked her how she felt about Trump's raucous press conference last week.

MARGARET TALEV: Well for many of the reporters watching that, startled, because it's not the way you normally think of a president-elect or a president dealing with his press corps, particularly at a time that he's promising to unify the country and get off to a good start and all of that. But look I think as a press corps, we all need to have a tough skin and to differentiate between unusual or guerrilla tactics that we need to learn how to live with and things that cross a red line. And this is something that we're going to need to be mindful of and adjust to, but I think it's a matter of keeping the eyes on the prize, which is the ability to ask questions of incoming President Trump and his top staff on the record and get answers. And to have access to these buildings, into the briefing rooms, the venues, for these questions take place.

I know Talev from when I worked as a White House correspondent in the early Obama years—she's both a good reporter and a good person. I also know the press corps takes seriously its responsibilities and is trying to make lemonade out of lemons. And yet her answer reminds me of two things: first, how much it resembles that of someone in an abusive relationship; and second, journalist Masha Gessen urging us all to "shift from realist to moral reasoning" in the age of Trump.

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Education secretary nominee has been profiting off of student loan debt collection

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 20:46:36 +0000

Betsy DeVos has reached an ethics agreement with the government requiring her to divest from 102 different assets within 90 days of being confirmed as Donald Trump’s education secretary. Here’s the best part:

DeVos listed on her financial paperwork a holding company that invests in Performant Business Services, Inc., which the Education Department hires to collect defaulted federal student loans.

The probable future education secretary has been profiting from debt collection on student loans. What a commitment to affordable higher education and helping students avoid the burden of high debt! 

DeVos will also divest from a series of companies intended to profit off of education, from software to textbooks to campus parking.

Sign and send the petition to your senators: Block Betsy DeVos as education secretary.

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Women's March on Everywhere—fantastic images from across the nation

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 17:00:35 +0000

Getting into DC this morning means crowded trains. Crowded sidewalks. Crowded streets. All with an energy, enthusiasm, and excitement that was singularly missing from the few how wandered into to see the American Carnage speech. This, not yesterday, is the best of America.

The National Mall has flooded with pink, as demonstrators descend on the nation's capital Saturday for the Women's March on Washington. Just one day after President Trump's inauguration, marchers from across the country have gathered in the city to protest his agenda and support for women's rights. …

The city's metro system reported 275,000 rides as of 11 a.m., according to Reuters. The wire service notes that number is "82,000 more than the 193,000 rides reported at the same point on Friday," the day of Trump's inauguration

Massive crowds aren’t just limited to the National Mall. It’s everywhere. Everywhere.

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Republicans chased into hiding by constituents angry over Obamacare repeal

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 17:00:25 +0000

It was a really rough week for Republicans, notwithstanding the inauguration of popular vote loser Donald Trump. The vote they took the week before to repeal Obamacare, even though they don't have a whisper of an agreed upon replacement plan, has enraged their constituents. On top of that, the popularity of the program has jumped, making it more popular than Trump, not to mention way more popular than the Republican congress. That anger was expressed out in public, which has got plenty of Republicans panicked.

It all started with House Speaker Paul Ryan being shamed by a fellow Republican, a cancer survivor, on national television.

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"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I’m standing here today alive," said Jeff Jeans, a cancer survior. "I rely on the Affordable Care Act to be able to purchase my own insurance. Why would you repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement?" Ryan stood there with his sociopathic grin on his face and lied to this man about how they really were going to fix everything, but the damage—and national headlines—were done.

And the floodgates for more protests were opened. Head below the fold for the goodness.

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Republicans perform amazing disappearing act when it comes to Obamacare

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 21:18:14 +0000

After a handful of high-profile and very embarrassing confrontations between angry constituents and Republican lawmakers over Obamacare repeal, many Republicans have just decided the safest thing to do is practice avoidance—no face-to-face meetings with constituents at all. Take Nevada's Dean Heller. Aisha Crossley is an insurance examiner from Las Vegas, but in Washington this week she did a tour of duty on the front lines in the fight over the Affordable Care Act, armed only with her story about how the law had helped her insure her four kids. "I live paycheck to paycheck and the ACA has allowed my kids to continue to go to the doctor, to continue to be healthy and get what they need. And without it, I don't know where I would be," she told NBC News. […] Crossley wanted to tell her story to her state's Republican senator, Dean Heller, who supports repealing Obamacare. But Heller's office was unable to make the senator or a staff member available without more notice. So Crossley went instead to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Nevada's newly elected Democrat. "It's great to meet you after seeing your commercials all the time!" Crossley beamed during a private meeting. Not just Crossley: x.@deanheller @sendeanheller ducks more constituents on Obamacare. Including me. cc @ralstonreports https://t.co/kEOijYoic8— Laura Packard (@lpackard) January 19, 2017 They must figure avoidance is better than being taped while literally running away from constituents, but they’re going to have to face the music sometime. Like in 2018, when they’re running for re-election and have to show their faces in public. So if they’re scared about the reaction they’re getting now for trying to take health insurance away from millions, do they think it’s going to be any better after it’s done? [...]



Women in London, Madrid, and across Europe join in the march

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 16:06:02 +0000

While women—and men—are still streaming into Washington DC and cities across the nation, marchers in Europe had a head start due to the magic of time zones. At first the idea of marchers in locations outside the US might seem like an odd, and minor, phenomenon. But Donald Trump has become symbolic of issues that are rocking Europe. Trump himself drew the connection between himself and Brexit, and he invited UK nationalist politician Nigel Farage to appear at campaign events.  So marchers in Europe aren’t just marching against Trump’s policies or his racist and misogynistic statements. They’re marching in protest of the wave of nationalism, austerity, and protectionism that has saddled too many countries with their own race and religion-based parties and candidates. In London, more than 80,000 women marched through the city. It wasn't just a US phenomenon and it wasn't just women: More than 600 'sister marches' were planned across the country and around the world, and plenty of men were part of the tableau.  Some 2.2 million people are marching globally to promote women's and human rights with 80,000 out on the streets in Britain.  Oh, and they’re also marching because Trump’s such a jackass that he’s united the world around one topic—utter disdain for Donald Trump. Marchers outside the US embassy in Madrid [...]



Republican leadership promise: 'Nobody’s going to lose coverage'

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 20:49:52 +0000

Mark this well. Sen. John Cornyn, Mitch McConnell's number two guy in Senate Republican leadership, told a group of Republican governors on January 19, 2017, that no one has to worry about losing their health coverage.

“Nobody’s going to lose coverage,” Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said after the meeting. “If there’s one word that came up most, it’s flexibility. One-size-fits-all Washington doesn’t take into account the differences between a state like Texas with 28 million people and a state like South Dakota, for example.”

Of course, that's total bunk—the flexibility part is code for "block granting Medicaid" and that could result in as many as 21 million people losing their coverage.

But Cornyn made that promise. He laid down that marker. We're not going to forget.

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Trump's Obamacare executive orders—yes, he does mean to repeal it

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 15:29:56 +0000

To all those voters who put Donald Trump in office thinking he didn't really mean it when he said he'd end Obamacare, he meant it. He wants to get rid of your health insurance. Among his first actions in office was signing an executive order giving "instructions for the federal government to dismantle the Affordable Care Act to the maximum extent permitted by law.'" That doesn’t repeal the law—he can’t do that unilaterally. But here’s what it does: The executive order is a powerful political statement about the health care law, one that directs agencies to "waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay" any taxes or penalties they possibly can. The order doesn’t give Trump any new powers, but does suggest that he wants to move quickly on dismantling major parts of the the health overhaul. "This order doesn't in and of itself do anything tangible," says Larry Levitt, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "But, it directs federal agencies to start taking steps to use their administrative authority to unwind the ACA in all sorts of ways. This is a signal that the Trump administration is not waiting for Congress to start making big changes." It's the clearest statement so far of Trump's specific priorities on the health care law. In recent weeks, Trump has said he wants to improve health coverage for all Americans, but he's been vague about what that means. This document suggests he may take aim at a piece of the law long-loathed by Republicans, the individual mandate. Here's the part of the order that looks like the mandate: "any provision...that would impose a fiscal burden on any State, or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on an individual." That doesn't mean that the individual mandate to buy insurance ends now, it means he's essentially directing the government to start the process of undoing it. Tim Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee College, and supporter of the law explained to Vox's Sarah Kliff that Trump can't repeal the law unilaterally, so the phrase "to the maximum extent permitted by law" is included in the directives. "What he is saying here is that our general policy is going to be to deregulate," Jost explains. "He's saying, 'I do not want more regulations, we should grant waivers where we can, and give more authority to the states.'" But he also included this: "To the extent that carrying out the directives in this order would require revision of regulations issued through notice-and-comment rulemaking, the heads of agencies shall comply with the Administrative Procedure Act." That means he will follow the established Administrative Procedure Act, an 80-year old law that governs the rulemaking process: "issuing draft rules, accepting comments, sometimes holding public hearings, and ultimately issuing a final rule that takes all the feedback into effect." "I think he’s been advised that he can't repeal the Affordable Care Act through executive action, and now we see where this goes," Jost says. He really means to do it. So what this means right now is that Trump is trying to weaken the law, and particularly the individual mandate. And that, says [...]



Republican governors who didn't want Obama's Medicaid money looking for Republican handout

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:56:38 +0000

Republican governors who didn't want the cooties associated with taking President Obama's expanded Medicaid are now pleading with Congress to cut them in on the deal, but a deal that will destroy Medicaid as we know it.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican governors who turned down billions in federal dollars from an expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law now have their hands out in hopes the GOP-controlled Congress comes up with a new formula to provide insurance for low-income Americans.

The other GOP governors, such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who agreed to expand state-run services in exchange for federal help—more than a dozen out of the 31 states—are adamant that Congress maintain the financing that has allowed them to add millions of low-income people to the health insurance rolls. […]

Republican governors and lieutenant governors were in Washington pleading their cases with GOP leaders and the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday as the GOP majority has taken the first step to dismantling the law.

They might get a few listeners in the Senate, but they sure as hell won't in the House. Speaker Paul Ryan and his Republicans don't give a damn. They don't give a damn about governors and they sure as hell don't give a damn about the people who elected those governors, or themselves for that matter. Who they'll listen to? Gov. Scott Walker, fellow sociopath from Wisconsin.

"The simple message is this: Vote to repeal and replace Obamacare immediately and send Medicaid funding to the states in the form of a block grant," Walker wrote last week in a letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

And when he gets that money, he can do with it what he likes, unlike existing Medicaid. He can force poor people to pee in cups, to attend mandatory job training, to pay big co-pays—anything he can think of to force people to humiliate themselves jumping through multiple hoops. So many hoops that many would just not apply in the first place. Which is a good way of achieving the goal of not actually covering everybody. That's if he doesn't divert the block grant into other programs. 

It would also lead to decreased federal funding and ultimately, as many as 21 million losing the coverage they now have—that's on top of the millions who would be kicked off expanded Medicaid under repeal.

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Pravda on the Hudson predicts massive crowd for Trump ... correction is surely coming, right?

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:56:25 +0000

On January 9, Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner announced he would sell his publication, the Observer, to a family trust. But as of January 18, the Observer was still eagerly selling the Trump message. An opinion piece there declared “Media predictably over-hyping Women’s March on Washington.” The over-hyping in question? Too much was being made of the march’s expected crowd size in contrast to the inauguration crowd that would dwarf it:

Remember that current estimates for the march are around 200,000. Current estimates for Trump’s inauguration sit between 800,000 and 900,000. Now, some in the tourism industry are saying support for Trump’s inauguration has been lower than past presidents. Elliott Ferguson, the president of D.C.’s convention and tourism bureau, claimed “It’s been much, much slower than anyone would have anticipated for a first-term president.”

It was never totally clear where those estimates of 800,000 to 900,000 came from, since it certainly wasn’t the number of buses seeking parking in the District or the business local hotels were doing. But let’s keep reading, shall we?

That would be true if the only other first-term president Ferguson dealt with were President Barack Obama. In 2008, nearly 1.8 million people attended Obama’s historic inauguration. Around 800,000 attended Obama’s second inauguration. So Trump is on par with the second inauguration of a historic president.

But let’s go back to George W. Bush. His first inauguration brought in around 300,000 attendees. His second inauguration brought in around 400,000, for a combined total of… less than the estimates of Trump’s inauguration.

But please, media, keep pretending no one wants to see Trump’s inauguration.

One inauguration crowd of around 250,000 later, I am so eager to hear more from this writer.

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Not my president.

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 12:30:28 +0000

Charles P. Pierce/Esquire:

This was a sales gimmick, not an inauguration.

In theory, there's something admirably American in taking the piss out of the system's pretensions. When Jimmy Carter walked in his inauguration parade, it represented for the moment the final collapse of the imperial executive within which Richard Nixon had hidden his crimes for so long. Barack Obama's embrace of popular culture let some of the stuffing out of the office as well. But this was different.

This was somebody selling something precious and important at a reduced rate of sloganeering. A pitchman's ceremony, the inauguration of President* Donald Trump was a device for selling American democracy a hair-restoral nostrum, a cure for erectile dysfunction, and a full scholarship to his Potemkin University. This was an event in which even Scripture itself was sent through the gang down in marketing so as not to sound too "elitist" for its intended audience of marks and suckers.

George Will/WaPo:

Twenty minutes into his presidency, Donald Trump, who is always claiming to have made, or to be about to make, astonishing history, had done so. Living down to expectations, he had delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history.

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An Obama staffer's parting note to progressives

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:03:36 +0000

For eight years I had the indescribable honor of serving in President Obama's White House, most recently as Special Assistant to the President & Director of Rapid Response. I played a lot of different roles, but going back through the 2008 transition and even back to the DNC during that campaign, I've served as a nexus between the White House and progressive advocates, bloggers, journalists, and punditsI thought it might be worth sharing some of my perspective publicly with any progressive that cares to read it.

First and foremost: I say in all honesty that very little would have gotten done without you, and it’s become even more clear to me in these final days that your constructive criticism/pushing/occasional outrage helped make this White House a better White House, and this president a better president.

Looking forward, as bleak a moment as this is in many ways, I’m optimistic for the future of progressives and the Democratic Party. As contentious as things can sometimes seem within our side, I think there’s remarkable consensus on the kind of progressive change we need, captured in great detail through the hard work of the unified Democratic platform. I think a lot of the goals we had coming into 2009 have seen immense measurable accomplishment, more so than virtually any pundit would have thought possible at the time. On so many issues, progressives and President Obama have helped move the Overton window in the right direction (take some time to reflect on political conventional wisdom in 2008 and I think you’ll agree). 

But part of progress is having to defend that progress, sooner or later, with your back against the wall. That time came sooner than expected, but it was always going to come. And reversing it is going to be a lot harder than Republicans advertised, because the benefits are just so damned real.

As we all continue to grapple with the election's aftermath, there’s one critique that I’ve heard from the media, from some supporters of the incoming administration, and from some folks on the left who I truly respect, that I want to take onnamely that the Democratic Party and/or Obama “didn’t fight for working people.”

That I can't abide. 

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Dear Good Morning America, delete your Twitter account

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:54:51 +0000

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That would be Secretary Clinton, winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, to you.

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Soaring rhetoric from your new president on inauguration day .... no, not this day

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 14:46:22 +0000

Over the course of our history, newly sworn in presidents have delivered inaugural addresses that speak to all Americans and are remembered to this day. Just a few examples …

Thomas Jefferson:  

But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. 

John F. Kennedy:

Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Abraham Lincoln (1861 and 1865):

The mystic chords of memory … will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in …

So, uh, yeah … today’s was a deep dive into the carnage of this hellhole we call America. 

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Tom Price—the Trumpiest nominee of all—now with a hint of influence peddling

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 02:30:29 +0000

It's really hard to imagine that the most corrupt of all of popular vote loser Donald Trump's picks would be a sitting member of Congress, but that's what we've got with Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) nominated to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. In addition to the very strong whiff of insider trading emanating from him now there's the odor of influence peddling. The $3 pill known as BiDil was already a difficult sell when a Georgia-based pharmaceutical company bought the marketing rights a few years ago. A treatment for African Americans suffering from heart failure, BiDil had never really caught on, forcing the drug company that developed it to take a buyout offer. One strike against the drug was a 2009 study that raised questions about its safety and effectiveness. So last summer, the new owner of the drug, Arbor Pharmaceuticals LLC of Atlanta, sought to get the study taken down from a government website. For help, the company turned to the office of a congressman to whom the CEO had given the maximum $2,700 campaign donation—Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia Republican nominated by Donald Trump to become head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Over the next few months, one of Price’s aides emailed the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at least half a dozen times, asking at one point "what seems to be the hold up" in getting the study removed from the website, which aims to help patients, health care providers and policy makers make "better treatment choices." In the end, the agency, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, kept the study online but added a note: “This report is greater than 5 years old. Findings may be used for research purposes but should not be considered current." Now, Price is from Georgia and powerful as chairman of the Budget Committee, so it's not out of bounds for a Georgia-based company to be asking for assistance. Asking for that assistance along with a maximum campaign contribution, though, that's a little iffy. A lot iffy. And really not a good thing when the help being sought is to suppress the fact that a drug developed for African Americans, who represent a sizable population within the state of Georgia, with heart failure has safety concerns! To be specific, the findings were "that BiDil was not actually associated with a significant reduction in death or 2009 hospitalization," and "in all but one of its test groups the drug was associated with significantly increased risk of hospitalization for heart failure." Price himself is a physician, though his specialty is orthopedics, a long way from cardiology. But one would hope a physician, having taken that whole "first do no harm" oath, would be particularly anxious to see that other doctors be informed when a drug they might prescribe is risky. You know, professionally it just seems like the thing to do. Unless you're Tom Price. [...]



Someone is lying about the 'deportation force' and it's either Paul Ryan or Donald Trump

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:30:30 +0000

One week after Paul Ryan told an anguished undocumented mom "don't worry" about a deportation force coming after her, aides to popular vote loser Donald Trump are signaling exactly the opposite. Brian Bennett writes:

Aides are clearing the way for President-elect Donald Trump to take the first steps toward transforming the immigration system as soon as he takes office Friday, fulfilling a major campaign pledge while deepening the fears of immigration advocates about what’s to come.

Gone will be the temporary protections of the final Obama years for people in the country illegally. In their place, expect to see images on the evening news of workplace raids as Trump sends a message that he is wasting no time on his promised crackdown.

In addition to the high-profile raids, Trump will also widen the range of people singled out for deportation, focusing on those with criminal convictions, and he could move immediately to reduce the number of refugees allowed into the U.S., according to interviews with immigration advocates and with people familiar with his plans.

You can call it “raids” or you can call it a “force,” the effect is exactly the same: sheer terror that will achieve nothing for the well-being of this country, even if duped Trump supporters think it will. So yeah, Paul Ryan might want to get on the horn with Team Trump or go ahead and admit he lied because it was much easier than having to tell the truth at a televised town hall.

Look, if they truly start doing “high-profile raids,” it's going to turn this country inside out. If you think it's divided now, just wait.

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Ron Wyden puts hold on Trump CIA nominee

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:42:18 +0000

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been doing his damnedest to rush popular vote loser Donald Trump's cabinet nominees to a vote—truncated committee hearings, refusing to require complete vetting and ethics compliance, all to get them to the floor for votes and installed to start the big job of destroying America immediately. But Democrats are doing whatever they can to slow down the train. To that end, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has put a hold on CIA nominee Mike Pompeo.

WASHINGTON An objection from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden could delay the U.S. Senate’s vote to confirm Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The vote had been expected to happen on Friday, after the swearing-in of Donald Trump as the 45th president.

The move means Trump likely will start his presidency without his own nominee at the head of the CIA.

The CIA is locked in a battle with Trump over allegations that the Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind an effort to sway the election in Trump’s favor.

“While members of the Senate give Rep. Pompeo’s nomination the careful consideration it deserves, Senator Schumer has asked Vice President Pence to keep Director Brennan on the job over the weekend,” said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a statement.

This gives at least a few more days for the CIA to continue its role in the ongoing investigation in Trump associates' ties to Russia. Schumer spokesman Matt House pointed out in a statement that "Director (Michael) Hayden served as a bridge between the Bush and Obama presidencies eight years ago, Director (John) Brennan could play the same role for the incoming and outgoing administrations, if the President is willing to keep him on."

Republicans can of course bulldoze right over Wyden's block, but are unlikely to take up Pompeo Friday. They are set, however, to vote on retired Gens. James Mattis and John Kelly, picked to lead the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security, respectively. 

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'America First' is a motto invented for Nazi sympathizers

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 18:09:26 +0000

Forget soaring rhetoric. Donald Trump’s inaugural speech abandoned optimism, unity, and hope for the meanest, angriest speech of modern times. As Trump put the “bully” in bully pulpit, his “American carnage” speech included a phrase that was familiar from his campaign rhetoric.

TRUMP: We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first.

It’s not a new term. In fact, it’s a term that Franklin Roosevelt admitted was “pretty good.” But the history of that phrase is not good at all.

He wasn’t quite promising “America über alles,” but it comes close. “America First” was the motto of Nazi-friendly Americans in the 1930s, and Trump has more than just a catchphrase in common with them. ...

The phrase was minted by Nazi sympathizers, who used isolationist rhetoric to oppose Roosevelt in the 1930s. And its heart was in America’s heartland ...

There would soon be several hundred chapters and almost a million members, two-thirds of whom resided in the Midwest. Charles Lindbergh would officially join America First in April 1941, serving as the committee's principal spokesman and chief drawing card at its rallies.
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Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Resistance FRIDAY!

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 00:31:44 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE… Late Night Comedians Will Continue Landing Blows "Donald Trump’s inauguration is expected to be the most costly in U.S. history. And that’s not even factoring in the money." ---Conan O'Brien “He’s got the lowest approval rating of any incoming president in modern history. But, hey, it’s not a popularity contest. And neither was the election." ---Stephen Colbert “Donald Trump will be sworn in as president this Friday at 12 noon. That’s when the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the Bible.” ---Seth Meyers xTrump keeps his promise to give Chris Christie a role in the inauguration. #DunkChristie #InaugurationDay pic.twitter.com/zQb1vW6zYW— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) January 20, 2017 "The B Street Band decided to cancel out of respect for Springsteen’s opposition to Donald Trump. Maybe a Springsteen cover band canceling is all for the best. Born in the USA would have been an insensitive song to play at a party celebrating a campaign that was actually born in Russia." ---James Corden "You want to know why so many celebrities died in 2016? It was to get out of playing the goddamn inauguration!" ---Lewis Black "Donald Trump’s inaugural committee is actually encouraging protesters to show up on Friday, saying, quote, 'We’ll give you cookies and Kool-Aid.' Then Republicans in Congress were like: 'Actually, we drank all the Kool-Aid.'” ---Jimmy Fallon No formal cheers and jeers below the fold tonight, just a little mish-mash of pish-posh. And, yeah, there's a 'Who on the Week' poll, full of heroes, rebels, and other assorted good people. We look forward to filling up future polls with members of the resistance fighting the orcs who were given the keys to the jalopy today. Gonna be ugly, but we’ll win our share of rounds. C’mon down. Open bar. No grizzly bears. [...]



Oh my—Republicans privately admitting Trump has 'no clarity on where he stands on many issues'

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 16:46:37 +0000

This is unbelievably frightening and laughable all at once …

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Anybody else reminded of Robert Redford in The Candidate: “What do we do now?” Only Trump’s no Robert Redford and this isn’t a movie. 

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Fox News Poll: Obamacare is more popular than Donald Trump

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 15:15:09 +0000

Mandate? Popular vote loser Donald Trump has no mandate. Even Fox News couldn't find one in its latest poll.

A new poll from Fox News finds that 50 percent of voters feel favorably about the Affordable Care Act — a sharp uptick from the 41 percent who felt favorably about the law the last time the network polled, in the summer of 2015. […]
 

In the Fox News poll, somewhat notably, Obamacare polls as more popular than President-elect Donald Trump, whom 42 percent of respondents view favorably. The law does not poll as favorably as its namesake, President Obama, who receives an approval rating of 60 percent.

Ouch.

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Senate confirms two Trump nominees: Mattis at Defense and Kelly at Homeland Security

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 23:19:50 +0000

The Senate confirmed on Friday Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense, retired Gen. James Mattis (98-1), and his pick to head the Department of Homeland Security, retired Gen. John Kelly (88-11).

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand cast the sole “no” vote against Mattis. She objected to installing a recently retired general to the Pentagon’s top civilian post, a departure from decades of precedent

Retired Gen. John Kelly also got the go ahead vote, giving Trump his first two cabinet members. Neither encountered much unified resistance from Democrats during the confirmation process.

The Senate agreed to debate and vote on Trump’s CIA director nominee, Rep. Mike Pompeo, on Monday even though Mitch McConnell had implored Democrats to take the vote Friday. Two cabinet confirmations on Day One is apparently an historically low number.

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Cartoon: Inaugural events

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 22:50:23 +0000

I hope no one tuned in and gives this inauguration the worst TV ratings in history. It would devastate the fragile new President’s delicate ego.

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