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Published: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 05:41:18 +0000

Last Build Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 05:41:18 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



Dear Leader declares his own inauguration day to be a 'National Day of Patriotic Devotion'

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 21:39:57 +0000

One of Donald Trump's very-very-first official acts in office was to declare the day of his own inauguration a "NATIONAL DAY OF PATRIOTIC DEVOTION". This particular proclamation reads like the winning entry of a junior high school essay contest, which given his team's past history may or may not be where he got it from.

A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart. We are one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose.

And some of the biggest protests in American history, don't forget that part. Nothing says “shared purpose” like protests that dwarf the inauguration itself.

Our Constitution is written on parchment, but it lives in the hearts of the American people. There is no freedom where the people do not believe in it; no law where the people do not follow it; and no peace where the people do not pray for it.

This would be the same Constitution that Trump and his Trumpettes say no longer applies, when it comes to one of the few parchment-written rules as to what a president can or cannot do to enrich themselves once in office, so no law where the people do not follow it was, we presume, intended to be ironic.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J [...]

Yada yada, fine, whatever. So here's the thing. Trump declared the day of his own inauguration, "January 20, 2017" to be a "National Day of Patriotic Devotion", because he wanted to.

This proclamation was filed ... on Monday. For publication on Tuesday.

For a Day O' Patriotic Devotion scheduled for ... last Friday.

Now, I'm an open-minded fellow—but what exactly are Americans supposed to do, here? Is this an executive instruction to be patriotic last Friday? Should we have retroactively flied our flags ten feet higher that day? Dyed our cats and dogs festive, patriotic colors? How precisely does declaring a single day o' patriotism for a day that has already passed by accomplish any—you know what? Screw it. Whatever.

It's enough to know that Donald Trump tried to make his own inauguration a day of patriotic "devotion" on the part of all the rest of us. Of course he did. Why wouldn’t he?

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Missing the point

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 03:30:29 +0000

Last week, NPR had a story about rural voters in Yadkin County, North Carolina, and their expectations of the new Trump administration. The voters profiled in the report were largely the white, working-class demographic which has been the source of a lot of speculation and hand-wringing in pieces debating the future of the Democratic Party. In the piece, there’s definitely a frustration with government, where Barack Obama gets the “Thanks, Obama” blame for any negative that’s happened over the past eight years. But one fascinating aspect is how all of Donald Trump’s business history, which has been the source of a lot of controversy, is seen as a positive by many of these voters. There’s a belief he will bring back $30 and $40 per hour manufacturing jobs, or revitalize the tobacco market because of his business experience, no matter his past bankruptcies, losing billions, or lack of transparency with his finances, even before getting into the shittiness of the policies he’s proposing. And this view is backed up in some polling as well, where Trump’s greatest issue strength is seen as being able to handle the economy. When I went to a Trump rally last year, this attitude was also indicative of many of the people I met and talked with. Trump’s wealth and status as a “businessman” was repeatedly a common refrain for why many in the crowd thought he’d be a great president. One woman started talking about it as a mark of Trump’s greatness that he had his own 757, while everyone else was flying commercial or using a bus. But if bragging about bling and material goods was the basis for electing a leader, then Ric Flair should have been president. When the Trump plane landed and the Trump logo became visible, the crowd went wild and it was better than any opening act could possibly be. All of this got me to thinking about pop culture depictions of business. Similar to the view which states there’s no such thing as an anti-war movie, there’s an argument that it’s impossible for a movie to preach the horrors of business excess while showing luxury and lots of sex. There are many people who watched Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” speech, didn’t see it as a cautionary tale, and were inspired to become brokers. And, honestly, because movies like Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street follow the American Dream story of someone building a fortune from nothing, it becomes an aspirational tale where many think they can live the first two-thirds of the rise towards the heavens without having the final act of it all crashing down when the bills start coming due. It might also be the reason why some people are willing to put their trust in someone who has the appearance and vestiges of wealth, even if he’s a creature of ego. Art is subjective, and the audience can take from it whatever they like. But it might be interesting to look at those pieces of popular culture where people arguably miss the point. What are those movies and stories where at least some might have read a subtext which might not have been intended? [...]



Virginia's House is the most important legislature up this year, and Clinton won a majority of seats

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 18:45:56 +0000

While most state legislatures aren’t up for election until 2018, all 100 members of Virginia’s House of Delegates will go before voters this November. Here at Daily Kos Elections, we’ve been hard at work calculating the results of the 2016 presidential election for each seat, and the numbers are both very revealing—and, potentially, very promising.

Here’s the good news: Hillary Clinton carried the Old Dominion 50-45 last fall, and she also won 51 of the 100 seats in the state House, despite the fact that Republicans drew these very lines to benefit themselves during the last round of redistricting. What’s more, even though Barack Obama won a similar 51-47 victory four years ago, he only carried 47 state House seats, so recent trends are in Democrats’ favor. (To let you drill down further, Stephen Wolf has created an interactive map to show which seats are represented by which party, and who won each seat in the presidential race.)

However—and it’s a big however—despite how seemingly blue their own map is, Republicans currently hold a huge 66 to 34 majority in the chamber (there’s one vacant Democratic seat in a safely blue district). It’ll be very challenging for Democrats to overcome that gap this year, but in this age of Trump, the party simply has to try its hardest to win as many seats as it can, and there are a lot of potential targets for Team Blue.

In fact, no fewer that 17 Republicans sit in seats that backed Clinton last year. The Republican in the bluest seat is James LeMunyon, who represents HD-67, a Northern Virginia district that Clinton carried 60-34; in 2012, Obama won it by a considerably smaller 54-45 margin, which shows how hostile voters there were to Trump—a pattern we’ve seen in other well-educated suburbs.

But other seats moved in the opposite direction. At the far end of this batch of Republican-held seats Clinton won, Hampton Roads Del. Robert Bloxom Jr. sits in the closest district: His HD-100 voted for Clinton 49-47, a drop from Obama's 55-44 win here. But at least Democrats don’t have to worry too much about playing defense: All 34 Democrats sit in Clinton seats, and even the closest—Del. Roz Tyler’s HD-75 in southern Virginia—still went for Clinton by a comfortable 57-41 margin (four years ago, Obama took it 62-37).

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Major redistricting win: Court strikes down Alabama maps for packing black voters into too few seats

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 16:26:58 +0000

Late on Friday, a three-judge federal court ruled that a dozen state legislative districts in Alabama violated the constitution and instructed the legislature to redraw them—an order that could ultimately affect many more districts that neighbor the illegally drawn seats. Republican lawmakers, who control the legislature, had intentionally packed black voters into a handful of majority-black districts in order to dilute their influence in adjacent seats. The court found that the the GOP’s scheme violated the Voting Rights Act, which requires that states create districts where communities of color can elect representatives of their choice. But, said the court, lawmakers could not comply with the law by arbitrarily setting a threshold for a minimum black population per district; instead, they must determine the proportion of black voters needed to elect their preferred legislators on a case-by-case basis—and that proportion is almost invariably lower than the higher bar that Republicans had used. This same three-judge panel had originally upheld these maps in 2013 before the Supreme Court overturned that ruling in 2015, sending it back to the lower court for reconsideration. If Republican legislators appeal Friday’s ruling, the case could go back before the Supreme Court again, where swing Justice Anthony Kennedy would hopefully side with the court’s four liberals once again and finally set down a national precedent that would define the rules governing the permissible use of race in redistricting. Whatever the Supreme Court decides, though, Alabama remains implacably Republican, and even if they’re barred from engaging in impermissible racial gerrymandering, white Republicans would continue to dominate the legislature. Nonetheless, this ruling could have major implications for other similar maps that Republicans have instituted across much of the South. As we have previously demonstrated, nearly every Southern state could have drawn another congressional district to elect the candidate of choice of black and Hispanic voters, Alabama included. Similarly, Republican legislators in many Southern states intentionally drew legislative district maps that limited the power of black and Hispanic voters, and consequently Democrats. Should courts start striking down these other maps or imposing new restrictions during the upcoming round of redistricting following the 2020 census, Democrats could gain several congressional districts and many more legislative seats. Such rulings could even potentially tip the balance of power in more closely divided state legislatures like in North Carolina and Virginia, where the Supreme Court is about to decide two other major racial gerrymandering cases. [...]



Watch a clergyman deliver a subtle, defiant snub to Donald Trump at the national prayer service

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 15:06:33 +0000

Donald Trump finally found his way inside a church, attending a prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral. The interfaith service is a presidential tradition and a clearly uncomfortable and fidgety Trump sat in the front row with this family, next to lead phony evangelical Mike Pence and family. After all, would Jesus be working overtime to take away health care and enact laws to discriminate? 

But, back to the topic at hand. As the multi-denominational clergy were exiting the front of the church, Donald Trump extended his hand to greet each one with a handshake as they passed by his seat. Watch as an (unknown to me) clergyman approached and quickly pivoted his scepter to his right hand, avoiding any eye contact or a handshake with Trump. It was subtle, defiant and a thing of beauty. 

WATCH: 

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Bravo! Donald Trump is notorious for being driven by revenge. Will he make a move to exact revenge on a well-respected clergyman over this snub? Time will tell. 

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Republican Tom Cotton has hissy fit, exposes himself as massive and vindictive hypocrite

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:54:35 +0000

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Hypocritville) is incensed that Democrats are slowing down the confirmation of popular vote loser Donald Trump's CIA pick, Mike Pompeo. Mr. Cotton, meet Sen. Tom Cotton:

In early 2014, after decades of government and nonprofit work that reflected a passion for public service, Cassandra Butts got a reward — or so she thought. She was nominated by President Obama to be the next United States ambassador to the Bahamas. […]

[…] Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, put a hold specifically on Butts and on nominees for the ambassadorships to Sweden and Norway. He had a legitimate gripe with the Obama administration over a Secret Service leak of private information about a fellow member of Congress, and he was trying to pressure Obama to take punitive action. But that issue was unrelated to Butts and the Bahamas.

Cotton eventually released the two other holds, but not the one on Butts. She told me that she once went to see him about it, and he explained that he knew that she was a close friend of Obama’s—the two first encountered each other on a line for financial-aid forms at Harvard Law School, where they were classmates—and that blocking her was a way to inflict special pain on the president.

Cassandra Butts died of cancer at age 50, just this spring, never having received a confirmation vote. Her nomination dragged on for over 830 days. Because Tom Cotton is a vindictive prick.

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McCain and Graham talk tough on Russia sanctions while caving on key Trump nominee

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:28:23 +0000

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are setting up their next big cave to Donald Trump and their Republican leadership by calling for a bill requiring congressional approval before Trump could lift sanctions on Russia. This latest bit of “no, really, we’re getting tough” posturing comes just as McCain and Graham announced their support for Trump’s secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, support about which McCain previously said “there’s also a realistic scenario that pigs fly.” So take the congressional-approval-for-lifting-sanctions move with several shakers of salt.

McCain and Graham are teaming up with Democrats Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin on this.

“We need more sanctions against Russia. We should not relax them,” McCain said. “If we don’t keep those sanctions on and even increase them it will encourage Vladimir Putin, who is a war criminal.” [...]

“I’m deeply concerned about our relationship with Russia. I believe that the president has around him a national security team that is very concerned as well,” McCain said Sunday. “They have committed war crimes. They have. When you have airplanes with precision weapons striking hospitals in Aleppo [Syria] and slaughtering innocent men women and children, you are committing a war crime."

Great, John. Get back to us after you don’t give in for a change. 

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Let's keep savoring that Women's March high with a few more pictures

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 00:30:31 +0000

Can you get enough of these march pictures? I sure can’t. From San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to tiny Mentone, Alabama, here are a few more.

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Dear White House press corps: Send the interns to cover Trump's verifiably false 'alternative facts'

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 19:34:31 +0000

Campaign Action

Kellyanne Conway finally admitted the truth over the weekend: The Trump administration is trafficking in "alternative facts." Translation: lies, lies, and more lies.

Donald Trump's distorted worldview that he was elected by a landslide, his inauguration crowd was massive, he was maybe the first to hold a Lincoln Memorial inaugural concert, and the media has completely misrepresented his posture toward the CIA is all verifiable garbage—the rantings of a madman who is completely and likely permanently disconnected from the planet the rest of us inhabit.

And Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, rushed into his first turn at the podium Saturday brandishing his truthless leader's unhinged beliefs like a loaded gun.

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," Spicer said, contradicting all available data.

If the facts had been roaming around Fifth Avenue, they would surely have been gunned down.

Look, these are the biggest bunch of loon bags to ever haunt the White House halls. Yes, that matters, but it no longer deserves or requires informed questions to reveal it. Jay Rosen at PressThink has a better idea: #sendtheinterns.

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Watch Democracy in Color's DNC chair candidate forum tonight

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 22:22:13 +0000

Tonight you can watch Democracy in Color's DNC chair candidate forum at 7:25 PM ET/4:25 PM PT at this link. Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison, Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, political analyst Jehmu Greene, and former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez all plan to attend. 

Steve Phillips, who helped organize the forum, said the event would focus on finding a leader who could "build power and win elections in a highly racially charged environment” going forward.

First and foremost, the Democratic Party must be race-conscious and not be race-neutral or color-blind. This flies in the face of much contemporary liberal orthodoxy, but the hard truth of the matter is that a color-blind approach does not work in a country still seared by contemporary racial inequality, discrimination, and oppression.

There has been a lot of talk since the election about whether the Democratic Party should target disaffected white workers or people of color (we’ll set aside for the moment the fact that people of color are pretty disaffected too, and most non-disaffected whites also voted for Trump). The larger point that this argument and false dichotomy misses is that we need to speak to the racial realities of the entire American electorate—the fears of most whites and the hopes and dreams of people of color and progressive whites.

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Senate Democrats want a second confirmation hearing for Betsy 'potential grizzlies' DeVos

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 19:29:39 +0000

Campaign Action

Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, got a high-speed, abbreviated confirmation hearing thanks to Republicans presumably wanting to protect her from embarrassment of the sort she managed anyway, with her defense of guns in schools because of “potential grizzlies.” Now, Senate Democrats are pushing for a second hearing for DeVos:

“Education is too important an issue, and the Secretary of Education is too important a position for the country and for this Committee, to jam a nominee through without sufficient questioning and scrutiny,” they wrote to Alexander in a letter Monday. “This is not about politics, it should not be about partisanship — it should be about doing the work we were elected by our states to do to ask questions of nominees on behalf of the people we represent.”

Those signing the letter included 10 Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats. They are all members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), which is overseeing DeVos’s confirmation.

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Trump spent his first weekend in a hissy-fit over reports of his small inauguration crowd

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:46:47 +0000

Donald Trump is, and forgive us if you've heard this before but when the Nobel Prize for Obviousness comes around next year we want to make damn sure we're in the running, mentally unfit for office. He proved that yet again only hours after being inaugurated, and it would have ripple effects throughout the weekend.

Mr. Trump grew increasingly angry on Inauguration Day after reading a series of Twitter messages pointing out that the size of his inaugural crowd did not rival that of Mr. Obama’s in 2009. But he spent his Friday night in a whirlwind of celebration and affirmation. When he awoke on Saturday morning, after his first night in the Executive Mansion, the glow was gone, several people close to him said, and the new president was filled anew with a sense of injury.

And it was this "sense of injury", also known in less polite circles as a pouting infantile tantrum, that led him to order new press secretary Sean Spicer to go out and lie outright to the nation's assembled television cameras. The pictures were faked! The media is in on it! We did too have a crowd more bigly than Obama's! (This was not a tough sell; the Times reports that Spicer was more than eager to launch the attack and apparently voiced no qualms over how it would require him to brazenly lie about something any semi-functioning American with a television set would immediately know was a lie.)

Normally a press secretary, or anyone else with a rice grain's worth of remaining integrity, would politely refuse to knowingly, intentionally lie to the American public about something so transparently stupid—but this would presume there is anyone on Trump's entire White House staff who has any such integrity. As Reince Priebus took to the Sunday shows to re-assert Spicer's claims, and as Kellyanne Conway took to the shows to argue that Spicer was presenting "alternative facts", the Trump team has long since excised anyone with such scruples. The whole team went along with the obvious lie, even as interviewers and reporters looked at them with the same look you might give a dog when you're trying to decide whether they've gone rabid.

So that's how Donald Trump spent Day One of his presidency—obsessing over tweets that made him look bad, as a person with severe Narcissistic Personality Disorder naturally would, and ordering his White House staff to prepare a propaganda campaign disputing the reality everybody witnessed and claiming something that would make Donald Trump personally feel better.

This man is not going to make it through four years. It's impossible. The only remaining question is how the remainder of the Republican Party will be responding to his various lies, breakdowns, propaganda efforts and obvious detachments from reality. So far, however, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell remain firmly in the accidental fascist's pocket; there is no remaining integrity in their own offices, either.

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Democrats demand more information on alleged insider trading from Trump HHS pick Tom Price

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 20:36:42 +0000

Georgia Rep. Tom Price, popular vote loser Donald Trump's pick to be secretary of Health and Human Services, has emerged as perhaps the most ethically challenged of all of Trump's nominees—which is saying a helluva lot. The very strong whiff of corruption hovering around Price has Democratic senators demanding more information from him to clarify his direct involvement in stock trades related to his actions as a lawmaker.

A letter to Price from Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, asks for the congressman to hand over the brokerage agreements for two Morgan Stanley accounts and for any other unstated accounts no later than noon on Monday. […]
 

Now, Murray and Wyden, whose committee will hold a hearing on Price’s nomination on Tuesday, are asking Price to reveal the actual agreements for his two Morgan Stanley brokerage accounts and any other accounts holding stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics or other health care stocks. The accounts the senators are asking for relevant documentation on are labeled “Morgan Stanley #1” and “Morgan Stanley #2” in Price’s financial disclosure form. Democrats have already called for a delay in Price’s hearings until an ethics investigation into his stock trading can be completed. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics asking it to conduct an investigation into Price’s actions.

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Aww, delicate snowflake Trump is 'demoralized' because people hate him so much!

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 22:00:19 +0000

When it comes to metro rides, not only did the popular vote loser lag far behind both of real President Barack Obama’s inaugurations and Saturday’s Women’s March, but also behind an average weekday. 

And given that his inauguration was actually held on a weekday, that makes it extra pathetic.

So the question is: what’s more pathetic—the size of his crowd (and shitty poll numbers and ratings), or his reaction to that reality

[H]e found hundreds of thousands of protesters chanting just a few blocks from his new home on the first morning he woke up there.

That has left the new White House feeling besieged from Day 1, fueling the president’s grievances and, in the view of some of his aides, necessitating an aggressive strategy to defend his legitimacy [...]

When he awoke on Saturday morning, after his first night in the Executive Mansion, the glow was gone, several people close to him said, and the new president was filled anew with a sense of injury.

Or as the man-child’s own personal Baghdad Bob said at today’s press conference, it’s “demoralizing” to Trump. The man simply cannot function without large, adoring crowds. 

If our narcissist-in-chief feels like this after just a few days on the job and one big protest, he’s not going to last, is he? A few more protests may actually break him. Let’s snap him in half. 

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Sean Spicer is not misunderstood. Sean Spicer is a propagandist. He lied, and on purpose.

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 18:28:54 +0000

Can we please just get the hell over this idea, already? This idea that Sean Spicer or any one of the other flagrantly dishonest, crooked-minded hacks who have hitched their wagons to Trump's toxic self-aggrandizing nationalism are good people, they're just confused?

How Sean Spicer messed up, and how he can make it right

Oh, bite me and then some. Sean Spicer didn't "mess up," Sean Spicer stood up in front of the assembled television cameras of America and lied outright about multiple easily checked things. He did it because Trump was angry about the size of his inaugural crowd, and therefore Sean Spicer, a dishonest man, chose to lie to all of America about that crowd size—a plain propaganda effort, through and through—in a deeply crooked attempt to reshape reality to better flatter the pouting man-child.

But instead we'll be treated to an interview with Bush era press secretary in which he expresses mild alarm at how if Sean Spicer was being told by his boss to go out and pretend the inaugural crowd size was bigger than it was, there were better ways to do it than to go out and lie his brownnosing ass off on national television.

Well golly gee, that is indeed probably true! Sean Spicer probably could have found a way around that situation that didn't involve brazenly lying to the American public on his first full day at work.

And if Sean Spicer was a good person, he probably would have considered that. If Sean Spicer was truly a decent soul who was against propaganda but just confused for a moment, he wouldn't have spent the "press conference" rattling off multiple pre-planned lies—all of which were easily debunked within minutes after him saying them—and then thumping back offstage without taking questions. Sean Freaking Spicer could have proved himself a decent human being at any point during the last many months, and has chosen the malevolency each time. Spare me your golly-gees and your if-only-isms.

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Missed Saturday's marches? That's okay, Tuesday is your next chance

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 20:12:27 +0000

Coming out of Saturday’s women’s marches, activists across the country are wrestling with a fundamental dilemma: how to turn the energy and passion from a single moment into a long-term movement. Those new to mass demonstration may be left wondering about some of the other ways they can take a stand. Others who are seasoned veterans of social justice causes might be looking for more specific actions to fight back. If you fall into either of those categories or just want to put on your marching shoes because, well, TRUMP, here’s your chance. Huffington Post reports that the next round of demonstrations are planned for Tuesday in an effort to stop the confirmation of the merry band of deplorables that could potentially fill Trump’s Cabinet.

More than 100 “Stop Trump’s #SwampCabinet” demonstrations are planned in at least 35 states and will target dozens of senators and representatives, both Democratic and Republican. (The complete list of events can be found here.)

The nationwide protest is being led by liberal activist organization MoveOn.org, progressive grassroots advocacy group People’s Action and the Working Families Party.

Well that didn’t take long. Only three full days into Trump’s presidency and already people are determined to make sure that these dangerous, problematic nominees are stopped. If the American people come together in a dizzying show of solidarity to organize and try to get you and your friends fired less than a week into your new job, doesn’t that mean you probably shouldn’t have been given that job in the first place?

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Spicer claims Women's March protesters weren't necessarily 'against' Trump, twitterverse calls B.S.

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 20:24:51 +0000

At his first official press conference Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed the Women's March on Washington that drew millions of protesters around the world over the weekend wasn't necessarily directed at Donald Trump.

In particular, Spicer said, "A lot of these people were there to protest an issue of concern to them and not against anything."

A quick twitter survey found that a lot of people wanted to correct Sean Spicer "alternative facts." Here's some responses from people who were absolutely protesting Trump.

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Spicer continues 'lying media' theme in Monday press conference

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 20:31:00 +0000

Popular vote loser Donald Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer held the first official press conference of the Trump regime Monday. Apparently Saturday's temper tantrum about whether or not Trump had the biggest crowd ever at his inauguration didn't count.  Monday's main theme was continuing the attack on the lying media, reaching a crescendo when Spicer spent more than three full minutes attacking the media for "demoralizing" Donald Trump by questioning the crowd size, proving just how thin-skinned his boss really is. The underlying narrative was pretty much just lies, which was clearly intended as the first question of the briefing was given to a reporter from Trump's favorite paper, the New York Post, who wrote an anti-Clinton book, lauded by the far right. The lies were legion, many of which were completely ignored by reporters in the room. Among them: an assertion that there's been a "dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years" to justify the hiring freeze Trump ordered today. This is not true. He repeatedly asserted that Trump signed an order "withdrawing" the U.S. from TPP. The U.S. has not signed onto TPP and it's been dead on arrival in Congress—where it would have to be ratified. The U.S. could not be withdrawn from it because we weren't in it. And continuing on trade, Spicer repeatedly asserted China is engaging in bilateral trade agreements. It's not. In talking about the global gag rule Trump reinstated today, Spicer said that the U.S. taxpayers were funding abortions overseas. That is not true. Speaking of women, Spicer said the women's march wasn't about opposition to Trump, it wasn't "against anything" he said. Contradicting reports that Trump has not resigned from his businesses as promised, Spicer said that those documents showing he had just aren't public yet. In the back-and-forth that resulted in Spicer's extended tantrum about how Trump had been so demoralized by the lying media, Spicer denied reports that the audience at Trump's CIA appearance on Saturday had been filled with Trump cheerleaders. The volume of disinformation, lies, and Trump-speak is too voluminous to immediately record here. Suffice it to say, there was a flurry of noise and disinformation and that the press corps in the room didn't come prepared to combat it. They're going to have to learn how to do this a lot better. [...]



Midday open thread: Dictionaries, pettiness and the Super Bowl

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 20:00:26 +0000

Today’s comic by Tom Tomorrow is Breaking news: What you missed 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 You’ll be happy to know that the dictionary still defines a fact as a fact: x📈A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality. https://t.co/gCKRZZm23c— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 22, 2017 What a petty little puke: When former Gov. Pat McCrory turned over the keys to North Carolina's Executive Mansion to Gov. Roy Cooper on Jan. 1, his staff didn't include the keys to the social media accounts used by the Governor's Office. The Republican's picture still adorns what were his office's official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and the last post on those platforms dates to a Dec. 31 goodbye message from McCrory. "My understanding is there were conversations with the transition team about turning them over," said Ford Porter, a spokesman for the Cooper administration. "Ultimately, they did not." You can take away his flag, but you’ll never take away Henry McMaster’s freeeeeeedom: S.C. Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster will take his membership in the all-white Forest Lake Club with him to the Governor’s Mansion. A pair of Democrats say the state’s next Republican governor must quit that membership to truly represent all of South Carolina. However, a Republican in the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature says the membership is a non-issue. McMaster, a member of the exclusive club for more than three decades, has no plans to quit the country club, his spokesman told The State. In case you want to put some money down on the Super Bowl: New England opened as a 3-point favorite over the explosive Falcons, who whipped the Packers 44-21 in the NFC title game at the Georgia Dome. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show,  Greg Dworkin wrapped up a wild news weekend, and presented his theory, Trump: Agent of Chaos! Allies worry about sharing intel. Trump’s private security creates new problems. Can anything work if no one knows what he’ll lie about next? x Embedded Content  YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon [...]



Trump claims standing ovations during CIA visit, but intelligence officials tell a different story

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 16:37:15 +0000

Donald Trump’s bizarre appearance at the CIA on Saturday drew rave reviews … from Trump himself, who tweeted that he received “long standing ovations,” and his chief of staff Reince Priebus, who called it a “love fest.” Other reviewers weren’t so kind, starting with former CIA Director John Brennan, who called it a “despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of C.I.A.’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes” and said Trump “should be ashamed of himself.” According to Priebus, Brennan is just “bitter” because Trump is replacing him. Fine, then! Let’s set Brennan aside and check out what some other current and former intelligence officials have to say.

“What self-centered, irrational decision process got him to this travesty?” [30-year CIA veteran John] MacGaffin told me. “Most importantly, how will that process serve us when the issues he must address are dangerous and incredibly complex? This is scary stuff!”

Hmmm. That doesn’t sound good. But maybe people currently working in intelligence felt differently? Not so much.

U.S. intelligence officials tell CBS News Mr. Trump’s visit to CIA headquarters was “uncomfortable,” and that he “made relations with the intelligence community worse.”  

And really, you don’t have to be an uncritical fan of the CIA to realize that its people might be sharp enough to be suspicious when Trump went from comparing the leak of an intelligence dossier on him to Nazi Germany to showing up at the CIA and claiming that “we’re on the same wavelength” and “you’re going to get so much backing. Maybe you’re going to say, Please don’t give us so much backing. Mr. President, please, we don’t need that much backing.” (How creepy is it that Trump can’t talk about offering support without making it sound like a threat?)

All hail the Gaslighter-in-Chief.

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Trump summons CEOs to suck up to him, promises to cut their taxes 'massively'

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 18:29:50 +0000

A series of corporations have felt the lash of Donald Trump’s angry tweet, and Monday their CEOs trotted over to the White House to suck up to him. In return, they got some big promises.

His message to them and other CEOs on Monday: Keep your production within the United States, and you will be rewarded. For those looking to grow or start new factories, Trump promised to expedite their requests and provide incentives to build.

“Expedite their requests and provide incentives,” huh? That wouldn’t translate to “let them have their way and give them giant tax breaks and even taxpayer money,” would it? Yeah, I thought it might. In fact, Trump promised to cut their taxes “massively.”

Trump also promised to cut regulations, because preventing fatal diseases and amputations in the workplace and poisoned water in the community is such a burden for companies. But don’t worry, Trump’s replacement for the regulations that have done so much to clean our air and reduce workplace fatalities over the past decades will totally be just as good, while also being much, much less. And, of course, to show he’s a big dominant guy, Trump also threatened the corporate leaders with a tariff they all know he probably can’t impose. 

Trump said that he hopes to convene this group at least four times a year to hear directly from the business community, saying that they are “great people” who have done “an amazing job.”

I look forward to hearing about his equivalent four times a year meetings with union leaders or rank-and-file workers to hear directly about how wages and working conditions are faring under his leadership.

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Trump reinstates 'global gag rule' on international health groups offering abortion counseling

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:24:26 +0000

Donald Trump wasted no time Monday resurrecting the "global gag rule," which cuts off federal funds to international organizations offering family planning information that includes abortion. Amanda Terkel writes:

The Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, was first put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It prohibits giving U.S. funding to nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on a wide range of family planning and reproductive health options if they include abortion ― even if U.S. dollars are not specifically used for abortion-related services. 

Since then, the gag rule has been something of a political football, rescinded and reinstated as soon as presidents take office. President Bill Clinton did away with the rule, President George W. Bush reinstated it and then President Barack Obama again revoked it in 2009. 

The U.S. dispenses about $600 million a year to international organizations that counsel women on reproductive health issues. But such a ban ultimately shuts down many organizations.

The Guttmacher Institute and other opponents of the gag rule say that such restrictions have devastating effects on international organizations, often forcing them to close their clinics or reduce their services, denying women access to help from safe providers and even hampering HIV prevention efforts. 

Trump signed this order and he's fully responsible for it, but this is fully Mike Pence's Christian conservative crusade against abortion regardless of who suffers and evidence about what actually works.

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Schumer on Supreme Court: 'We absolutely will keep the seat open' if nominee isn't 'mainstream'

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:12:22 +0000

Campaign Action Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reiterated Sunday that Democrats will not accept an extremist on the Supreme Court. “If the nominee is not bipartisan and mainstream, we absolutely will keep the seat open,” Schumer told CNN’s “State of the Union.” […] Schumer said he is prepared to fight "tooth and nail" should Trump not choose a mainstream nominee.  Former President Barack Obama had nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy. The Senate did not take up Garland’s nomination for a vote. That tough talk is countered by equal bluster from Republicans. “We’re going to confirm the president’s nominee one way or the other. And there’s an easy way and there’s a hard way,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). “They just need to accept that reality.” “The Democrats will not succeed in filibustering a Supreme Court nominee,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, Cornyn’s Texas colleague. “We are going to confirm President Trump’s conservative Supreme Court justices.” By "the hard way" Cornyn is threatening to nuke the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. That's a way to try to convince eight Democrats that they need to buckle under and vote for whomever Trump nominates. Which is probably not going to work. Here's Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), up for re-election in 2018. Asked if he'll vote for any Trump nominee to preserve the filibuster, he replied "Hell no. I’m going to make sure the guy or gal is qualified to do the job." Likewise North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp: "You think I’m just going to hand them a vote not knowing who it is?" Cornyn's threat might be an empty one, as some of the old men of the GOP Senate hold the filibuster close to the heart. But if you're relying on the likes of Orrin Hatch to hold on to principles, don't hold your breath. Here he was in November: "I’m one of the biggest advocates for the filibuster." Today: "I mean, [Democrats] set the standard. … They really screwed up the rules. Frankly, they did it for pure political purposes. The Republicans are not limited now." It's a dangerous game for them, doing all this for a Republican president going into office with historically low approval ratings.  [...]



Supreme Court rejects latest effort to salvage Texas's odious voter ID law

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 17:03:41 +0000

The Supreme Court on Monday took a pass on hearing challenges to a lower court ruling that struck down Texas's voter ID law, providing a temporary victory to voting rights advocates. Richard Wolf writes:

Chief Justice John Roberts warned that the case could come back to the high court after further skirmishes at the federal district court level are completed. The Trump administration received a 30-day delay in the lower court case Friday amid speculation it may switch sides and defend the law. (emphasis added)

A federal appeals court struck down the voter identification law as discriminatory in July, giving civil rights advocates a crucial victory in advance of the 2016 election. The 9-6 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit was the third consecutive decision against the Texas law, which opponents claimed could have left up to 600,000 voters without proper ID.

The appeals court majority said the law was not intended to discriminate but had that effect on minority voters. It sent the case back to the district court to supervise changes that would allow the law to stand without discriminating.

So expect to see a lot more of the administration of popular vote loser Donald Trump eyeing "switching sides" on key civil rights legislation related to voting rights, the undocumented, and LGBTQ individuals, among other categories. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law has vowed to continue challenging the law regardless of what government lawyers do.

The Texas case and another challenge to North Carolina's array of voting restrictions remain the leading contenders among many voting rights cases to get to the Supreme Court as early as next fall, when the justices could define what types of voting changes are allowed and prohibited under the Voting Rights Act. The North Carolina also was struck down and has been appealed to the high court.

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Trump's Obamacare replacement plan includes big cuts and big changes to Medicaid

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 15:48:04 +0000

Popular vote loser Donald Trump will propose restructuring Medicaid into a block grant program, says his staff, ending the guarantee of the program to low-income people. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s White House counselor, said Sunday that this change will be a part of the regime’s healthcare plan, and that the move would ensure that "those who are closest to the people in need will be administering" the program. Medicaid is an open-ended entitlement, paid for by both federal and state governments, covering more than 70 million people in the U.S. and more than half of the 20+ million who gained coverage through Obamacare. The "open-ended" part means that it is flexible. If something like an economic downturn means more people lose their jobs and become eligible, states can respond by getting more federal aid. Turning it into a block grant would cap that spending, giving a set chunk of money to the states. That's where it gets thorny. How does the government figure out how much each state gets and when a state's eligible population changes, or medical costs increase to states how will the program adjust to meet those needs? That's what governors—Republican and Democratic alike—want to know, because Medicaid spending is generally the largest line item in state budgets. "We are very concerned that a shift to block grants or per capita caps for Medicaid would remove flexibility from states as the result of reduced federal funding," Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a Republican, said this month in a letter to congressional leaders. "States would most likely make decisions based mainly on fiscal reasons rather than the health care needs of vulnerable populations." Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama, a Republican, said that if a block grant reduced federal funds for the program, "states should be given the ability to reduce Medicaid benefits or enrollment, to impose premiums" or other cost-sharing requirements on beneficiaries, and to reduce Medicaid spending in other ways. In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said he was troubled by the prospect of a block grant with deep cuts in federal funds. "Under such a scenario," he said, "flexibility would really mean flexibility to cut critical services for our most vulnerable populations, including poor children, people with disabilities and seniors in need of nursing home and home-based care." Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) says it will lead to governors having to make "impossible choices." "We should not be forced to choose between providing hard-working older Coloradans with blood pressure medication or children with their insulin." Not expanding Medicaid under Obamacare was one thing many Republican governors could live with, because it maintained a status quo—people who didn't have it would continue not to have it. But this is something that would affect all the governors and their budgets. It would force them to make those hard decisions about who lives and who dies. It's their political necks on the line. [...]



After the march, the real organizing starts

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 15:25:16 +0000

It’s possible that Saturday was the single largest day of protest ever in the United States, with march after march across the country exceeding all expectations. The fact that the marches were so organic, with organizers scrambling to keep up with popular demand rather than working to mobilize people to show up, was one of the beautiful things about Saturday, but it’s also a challenge. How many of those millions of people will stay active? How can organizers ensure that this is a moment of movement-building and not of collective venting that leaves participants thinking they’ve done their part and can relax now? Donald Trump and the Republican Congress may be the best organizers of all, but march organizers and progressive groups are ready to do their part: Within minutes after the march in Washington ended at sundown on Saturday, its leaders convened a four-hour pep rally and networking session called “Where Do We Go From Here?” On Sunday, Planned Parenthood held a training session for 2,000 organizers on turning mobilization into political action, with health care atop its priority list. David Brock, the Democratic activist, assembled a group of about 120 leading liberal donors in Aventura, Fla., to hear plans for lawsuits and other challenges to Mr. Trump. [...] Todd Gitlin, a former president of Students for a Democratic Society and a scholar of political movements, noted that the civil rights and antiwar movements succeeded because of the organized networks that preceded and followed any single mass protest. “The march on Washington in 1963 was the culmination of years of local activism, including civil disobedience, registering voters, protecting civil rights workers and voter education movements,” he said. “Organizations need to be ready to receive the protesters when they’re ready to take the next step. You need to be a full-service movement.” That effort, the organizers say, is already underway. At the panel Saturday night, representatives from the partner groups made 90-second pitches to the marchers, urging them to sign up for any of the organizations that appealed to them. The key, Ms. Poo said, was to build a continuous relationship with voters and volunteers so that they are not only approached before elections. Elections are important. (So important!) But they’re not the only thing. We have at least two years during which we need to fight tooth and nail to keep Republicans from completely shredding the safety net, redistributing wealth upward, and gutting President Obama’s legacy. We need people showing up to hold their Republican representatives accountable. People flooding lawmakers’ offices with calls over bad legislation—and not just federal officeholders, but state and local ones, too. Voter registration drives. Union and other worker organizing. Signature collecting and door-knocking for the next round of progressive ballot measures, from minimum wage to paid leave to taxing the rich. On Saturday, the people overwhelmed the organization. Now organizers are scrambling to turn marchers into activists in an ongoing way. But if you marched, you can also organize yourself—choose a cause, choose a group, make sure that marching was just your first step and that we’re building power for the future. [...]



Democrats reintroduce Equal Rights Amendment as millions of women march nationwide

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 14:21:49 +0000

The United States fell three states short of having an Equal Rights Amendment back in 1982, and, as Women’s Marches across the country drew millions of people, Senate Democrats came back for another try at it:

On Saturday, [Sen. Ben] Cardin joined Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey in reintroducing the amendment. Co-sponsoring were Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Chris Coons of Delaware, Dianne Feinstein of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Ed Markey of Massachusetts in reintroducing the constitutional amendment first proposed in 1923.

The 28th amendment would guarantee that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Democrats also introduced a bill that would extend the time for states to ratify the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment. 

Saturday’s marches make clear that there’s a resurgence of political energy from women across the country, and, though you didn’t see many direct mentions of the ERA, the homemade signs marchers carried mentioned a huge range of issues where an ERA could help women, from sexual assault to equal pay to medical care. But given the Republicans in office today, the reintroduced ERA isn’t going to get the same chance in Congress that the original got back in 1972. These Republicans have all but dragged us back in time, and you get the feeling that if they could do that for real, they would.

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Cartoon: Breaking news

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 14:50:27 +0000

If you’d like to support independent cartooning in this uncertain moment, 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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Barely three days into the Trump regime and we have lawsuits and Russians and tantrums, oh my!

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 13:15:27 +0000

We’re barely three days into the Trump regime and the popular vote loser is exceeding every low expectation people had for him … and then some. And in case you missed it, here are just a few of the eye-roll inducing moments from Sunday: Shortly after being sworn in as Trump’s national security adviser, it was reported that Michael Flynn:   … is the first person inside the White House under Mr. Trump whose communications are known to have faced scrutiny as part of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Treasury Department to determine the extent of Russian government contacts with people close to Mr. Trump. It was announced that: The first of what’s likely to be a slew of lawsuits over Donald Trump’s massive conflicts of interest between his job as president and his lifelong first priority of personal profit will be filed on Monday. It was revealed that Trump’s Carnage in America inauguration speech—that, by the way, he previously claimed to have been writing himself—was co-written by a White Nationalist: A White House official told the Journal that Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller penned the address. Trump’s mouthpiece admitted that Trump had been lying from the start and has no intention of ever releasing his tax returns, (alleged) IRS audit or not, because “We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care.” And as a bonus, offered a new definition in defense of the blatant lies White House spokesman Sean Spicer peddled during a Saturday press conference: Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck [Todd]," Conway replied. "You're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.  And from the orange buffoon himself? Trump, still not over losing the popular vote by millions, reacted to Saturday’s massive protest against his anti-people polices on—where else?—twitter: xWatched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017 … no doubt while angrily stroking the nuclear codes.  Welcome to Monday.  [...]



Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 13:30:30 +0000

Well, we’re still here! I guess we can take that for a good sign, so long as it lasts. It’s probably going to take them a long time to find us, anyway. First they have to arrest everybody who said he didn’t get a big crowd for his inauguration. And then he has to arrest all you marchers! Holy mackeral, what a show you put on! We’ll shower you with laurels, then get on about the daily business of rounding up the accelerating crazy. Welcome to the Trump Era, Day Three One! Listen LIVE right here at 9:00 AM ET! It’s also time for a new message in this section, befitting the new year. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve resolved that 2017 should be the year we make the Kagro in the Morning show a sustainable enterprise by finding sufficient subscription support from our audience through our Patreon account. It should be, but I’m not making it a New Year’s resolution, because that practically guarantees failure. So instead, let’s just all agree that the KITM show is a fun way to stay sane during the upcoming Trump years (or whatever unit ends up being best suited to measuring his time in office), and that supporting the show is a great way to make sure we’re there for one another as needed. As a gesture of good will, please enjoy our latest episode ABSOLUTELY FREE! x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon Shhhh. Breathe! Slowly, in... and out. Picture yourself on a sunny beach, ocean waves gently lapping upon the shore, and escape one more time with David Waldman and KITM as we head into Day One. It is not warm nor sunny in Washington DC today. There aren’t a lot of bodies to gain heat from either. Some people reminisce about warmer rainbow-filled evenings long ago, some just create a complete fantasy world to live in. It’s a busy day for Donald P. Trump. He has to listen to a dummy tell him what to say, then meet with a bunch of lying idiots. Trump is trying to make some new friends with old Obama appointees, but some haters and losers are still ghosting him, and nine, or eight, Gop senators are set to annoy him. Even the DOD shafted him on his request to show some muscle, but today he becomes their boss, so maybe he’ll show some tomorrow. Meanwhile stay out of the way of the motorcade, and bullets. Remember when being Anti-Facist was considered a good thing? The times might be changing, with the help of moles, plants, rats, and James O’Keefe. People now need to decide which way their restaurant leans before looking at the menu. An animatronic puppet (no puppet!) with a big participation trophy is unveiled in the Mar-a-Lago lobby, but people complained about the lack of realism. As Barack Obama rides off into the sunset, commuting sentences as he goes, David shows us the way forward: Resist. Defend. Never consent. And Delay. This is how he plans to do it. (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, 23 Jan 2017 13:16:01 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

"I wish I had a pussy hat."

The immortal words of the Portland Metro bus driver who was hauling us up Munjoy Hill to the gathering site for the Women's March, and who was profoundly disappointed she wasn't able to join in. Being his usual chivalrous self, my partner Michael offered her his pink baseball cap. No, not quite the same as a hand-knitted pussy hat (by the day of the march, there wasn’t a yarn inventory in a Portland store that had any pink left in it), but close enough that the gesture brought her to tears.

The bus drivers planned to detour around the gathering area anyway, but the crowd was so huge (10,000+) that they had to hastily improvise and make their detours blocks earlier. As we stepped off ours, the driver said, "We will survive this because we are stronger." Amen.

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Libs are better at signage than cons. We check our spelling.
 

Frank Capra couldn't have staged a scene more patriotic and inspirational than the one I saw Saturday. We marched the two-mile route downhill from the Eastern Promenade west to Congress Square. Then we looked back and saw a sea of people still spilling down from the top of the hill. We walked a mile back to where our parking garage was, and people were still pouring down. Then we stood on a corner and watched the merry marchers cascade down for another hour. It was one of those rare moments when it didn’t seem entirely crazy to question your own lying eyes. And knowing it was happening all over the country made it even more wonderfully surreal. It felt like we were all one gigantic extended family gathering from all points in huge numbers to circle the wagons, lock arms, and prepare to defend our democracy under the banner of the pink, hand-knitted pussy hat.

Long may it wave.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Donald Trump, Chaos agent

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 12:20:30 +0000

Donald Trump is a chaos agent, not a change agent. Read on. Catch up with you later.

x

 CNN

"That's what you guys should be writing and covering," new White House press secretary Sean Spicer angrily lectured reporters on Saturday during his first remarks from the podium of the press briefing room.

He was referring to the delay in Senate confirmation for President Donald Trump's pick to lead the CIA, Congressman Mike Pompeo, but the comment came after a long digression about how many people had shown up to watch Trump be sworn in as president.

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," Spicer said, contradicting all available data.

Aerial photos have indicated that former president Barack Obama's first inauguration attracted a much larger crowd. Nielsen ratings show that Obama also had a bigger television audience.

Spicer said, without any evidence, that some photos were "intentionally framed" to downplay Trump's crowd.

Some important things to keep in mind: Trump lies constantly. He doesn’t care that they are lies, and never will. He’s hired others to clean up his mess, but you can’t believe them either. Media can’t or won’t grasp this as an essential underlying truth, so they deal with day to day controversies and chase shiny objects rather than develop a strategy. And because of it, they are not effective.

Here’s hoping they see the pattern and learn.

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To Republicans offended by signs at the Women's March, as Madonna so eloquently put it ...

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 00:19:00 +0000

"... fuck you."

It seems that Republicans are having a major sad at the “offensive” language seen on signs at Saturday’s massive, world-wide Women’s March. Here’s Sen. John Cornyn, in praise of an entire article that sobs about the little ladies being foul-mouthed:

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Uh huh. Again, fuck you, John. Get back to us when you give a rat’s ass about this language:

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Until then, buck up, Snowflake. 

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Kentucky passes bill telling unions how to spend voluntary dues—and House Speaker can’t explain why

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 02:10:25 +0000

Remember when a conservative Supreme Court ruled that political contributions were speech, and therefore protected under the First Amendment

Apparently what they meant was that contributions to Republicans were protected by the First Amendment—because the new Kentucky Congress recently passed a bill barring labor unions from using union dues to make political contributions. 

Their argument used to be that this was because members had no choice in paying dues. However, the legislature also just passed a “right to work” bill that makes union dues voluntary. 

So apparently what they mean is: Republican contributions good. Democratic contributions (by voluntary union dues)? Now illegal.  

Kentucky Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover can’t even explain why in this excellent interview on a news show called Hey Kentucky!

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Trump national security adviser's Russia ties draw attention from intelligence agencies

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 01:56:36 +0000

Michael Flynn was sworn in as Donald Trump’s national security adviser on Sunday. Soon after, the Wall Street Journal reported:

Michael Flynn is the first person inside the White House under Mr. Trump whose communications are known to have faced scrutiny as part of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Treasury Department to determine the extent of Russian government contacts with people close to Mr. Trump.

It isn’t clear when the counterintelligence inquiry began, whether it produced any incriminating evidence or if it is continuing. Mr. Flynn, a retired general who became national security adviser with Mr. Trump’s inauguration, plays a key role in setting U.S. policy toward Russia. [...]

A key issue in the investigation is a series of telephone calls Mr. Flynn made to Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., on Dec. 29. That day, the Obama administration announced sanctions and other measures against Russia in retaliation for its alleged use of cyberattacks to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. U.S. intelligence officials have said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacks on Democratic Party officials to try to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

There’s one more thing for Republicans to explain doesn’t matter, isn’t worth investigating, and was probably a noble and admirable thing to do anyway.

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Do we think we are morally and intellectually superior?

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 00:40:30 +0000

Donald Trump’s unexpected Electoral College win has focused attention on the white working-class voters that, it is claimed, the elitist Democratic Party no longer appears to represent. Of course, the Democratic Party has never stopped representing them. We have just never used fear and anger to convince the voters of that representation.

Being Democrats, we will continue our navel gazing and internal strife as we slowly come to terms with the November election results. But we should remember that the Democratic candidate did win the popular vote by a substantial margin and that we continue to represent the white working class, as well as the rest of the American people.

In addition to being accused of elitism, a new meme making the rounds lately claims we lost the election because we think that we are morally and intellectually superior—although it is never made quite clear who we think we are morally and intellectually superior to.

If it is the members of the Republican Party who are proposed to run the government under Donald Trump? Then yes, we clearly are superior.

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Lawsuit against Trump's foreign payments will be filed Monday

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 23:38:36 +0000

The first of what’s likely to be a slew of lawsuits over Donald Trump’s massive conflicts of interest between his job as president and his lifelong first priority of personal profit will be filed on Monday: The suit, which will not seek any monetary damages, will ask a federal court in New York to order Mr. Trump to stop taking payments from foreign government entities. Such payments, it says, include those from patrons at Trump hotels and golf courses, as well as loans for his office buildings from certain banks controlled by foreign governments, and leases with tenants like Qatar Airways, a government enterprise. The plaintiff in the suit will be Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which means it may have a problem with legal standing. However, this is not the only such suit in the works: Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was separately looking for plaintiffs to file a lawsuit alleging that Mr. Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause. It hopes to find a hotel or bed-and-breakfast that might compete against a Trump hotel as a party that might have standing to sue. The A.C.L.U. filed an extensive Freedom of Information Act request on Thursday asking the Justice Department, the General Services Administration and the Office of Government Ethics for all legal opinions and memos they have prepared addressing potential financial or ethical conflicts that Mr. Trump might face. It could perhaps use those documents in litigation against the Trump administration. Trump’s lawyers must be celebrating the steady flow of business coming their way. Monday, Jan 23, 2017 · 1:32:19 AM +00:00 · Laura Clawson The New York Times story has been altered and no longer mentions Qatar Airways. [...]



Evangelical Christian quits over Obamacare: 'I discovered I could no longer believe any of it'

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

Donald Trump is now president of the United States. He has vowed to repeal Obamacare. Repeal will hurt millions of people on Obamacare, directly and indirectly. But there is much that we can do.

While perusing the many feeds I follow, a RawStory piece grabbed me pretty quickly. The article was about a Facebook post by Bruce Horst, detailing his struggle with Christianity and Obamacare. Interestingly, Bruce is a friend that I had not spoken to in years. We were both members of Coffee Party USA and always tried to make a difference in the body politic.

A few years ago Bruce and I went out to lunch and enjoyed some pho at V Bistro. I remember him telling me about his disillusionment with evangelical Christians, so his Facebook post was not a surprise. Bruce explains why he had to make the break:

In 2010 I had been a Conservative Evangelical Christian for all of my adult life. I began to realize that others around me despised the thought of allowing people like me the benefit of affordable health insurance. For some reason, all of the Christians that I knew thought that offering health insurance to people like me would put them at some kind of a disadvantage that they were not willing to accept. Frankly, they had been lied to so they believed those ‘others’ were going to get healthcare and make their own health care inadequate.

As a Christian, I believed that I would be judged on the Final Judgment Day on how I took care of the ‘least of these’ as described in the Bible book of Matthew, chapter 25. I came to the sober realization that Christians around me had no such convictions. If they didn’t believe Jesus’ words as recorded in the Bible, why should I? Then one day I discovered I could no longer believe any of it.

He then had an admonishment for evangelical Christians:

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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. [...]



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. [...]



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 [...]



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

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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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