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Published: Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:03:34 +0000

Last Build Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:03:34 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



Rex Tillerson is so slow at filling offices that even Donald Trump is complaining

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 19:45:18 +0000

Donald Trump has proposed cutting the State Department budget by a third. Donald Trump has failed to even nominate candidates for many of the most critical positions. So who is to blame for not enough of Trump’s stooges scoring slots at the State Department? If you said Donald Trump, you’re obviously wrong.

The White House is becoming increasingly frustrated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a close-knit circle of aides over the slow pace of hiring and a chokehold on information and access to Tillerson, according to senior Trump administration officials and others familiar with the rift.

Tillerson simply refuses to put people Trump hasn’t named into jobs he won’t pay for. However, Rex does seem to adding his own layer of molasses to Trump’s slow-down-machine.

Tillerson also sketched a lengthy timeline for his internal review that would include a period of study and planning through 2017 and changes to the department’s structure and staffing next year. 

The former Exxon CEO looks to be in no hurry to fill empty posts. So any Trump associates expecting that job as undersecretary of excessive graft should take a nap until … say this time next year. 

Naturally, Trump isn’t happy with Tillerson. But then, Trump isn’t happy with Spicer, or Bannon, or Priebus, or anyone else. However, unlike those others, the secretary of State seems to be doing anything but hurrying to make amends with the boss.

Others involved in the process, however, said Tillerson aides have sat on or ignored White House requests for action on personnel.

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Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Resistance FRIDAY!

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 23:30:05 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Late Night Snark: First Edition of Summer Edition

"Summer starts today! Which used to mean news would slow to a trickle, padded out by gratuitous T&A reports from the beach and stories about skunks with their heads stuck in peanut butter jars. Oh, I miss those days."

---Samantha Bee

"Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell showed us a draft of his top-secret new health care legislation…and wouldn’t you know it, the bill includes a big tax cut for rich people. They're calling the plan 'Better Care.' As in, just imagine how much better this plan would be if the people who wrote it cared."

---Jimmy Kimmel

"The American Health Care Act---an act which answers the question, what if a bus-stop ad for a personal injury lawyer was a health care policy?"

---John Oliver

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---The Daily Show

"We don’t know too much about what will be in the final [Trumpcare] bill because all of the negotiations so far have taken place behind closed doors. They even put a sock on the doorknob so no one barges in while they're screwing poor people. It's just polite."

---Stephen Colbert

"Today was National Vanilla Milkshake Day. Or as Mike Pence calls it: Spicy Tuesday!”

---Seth Meyers

Your west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

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Trumpty Dumpty gets huffy with his White House counsel

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:01:30 +0000

Donald Trump raised the profile of the FBI's Russia investigation by fueling speculation about whether President Obama wiretapped his phones. He then fired the guy in charge of that investigation, triggering the appointment of a special counsel. He also publicly and privately took steps to stymie that investigation, resulting in a probe into whether he obstructed justice. Now he's losing patience and he knows who the real culprit of his calamity is: White House counsel Don McGahn. Politico writes:

Trump started the week by giving McGahn, a loyal supporter who was among the first Washington establishment figures to sign on with his presidential campaign, a dressing down in the Oval Office for not doing more to squash the Russia probe early on.

The episode — recounted by four people familiar with the conversation — came as part of a broader discussion on Monday about the president’s frustrations with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which now includes the question of whether Trump himself tried to obstruct the investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey.

This is just so laughable. Trump has single-handedly driven this probe, starting with whom he hired to run his campaign to his incessant and incriminating tweets. But somehow McGahn is at fault for not squashing the probe. Perhaps, he should have broken both of Trump's thumbs and flushed his phone down the toilet. That would have been a start.

The Russia probe is now being almost entirely handled by Trump's personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, while McGahn focuses on things that normal White House counsels do, like vetting appointees and judges and offering legal advice about legislation and executive orders. But by taking aim at McGahn, Trump is once again cutting off his nose to spite his face.

McGahn’s fall from the president’s good graces is particularly noteworthy because he occupies such a crucial role in the White House. He’s one of the few senior members of the administration with Washington chops. As a former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, longtime campaign lawyer, and former attorney to House Republicans, he knows how to work the government’s levers of power, even if that involves jamming them up.

Keep it up, Trump! No one does it better.

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Trump's Russia investigation rage leaves staff and friends worried

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:33:32 +0000

Donald Trump begins many mornings at 6:30 AM with a call with a member of his Russia defense legal team, according to a new Washington Post report on Trump’s current emotional state and the latest infighting among his top advisers.

His advisers have encouraged the calls — which the early-to-rise Trump takes from his private quarters in the White House residence — in hopes that he can compartmentalize the widening Russia investigation. By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud.

It rarely works, however. Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed.

These are the strategic minds running the White House? People who think that having Donald Trump begin his day by rehashing the thing that makes him most angry will help him set it aside and go on with his day? It’s not working, of course. Boasting 22 sources, because that’s how badly Trump’s team is leaking these days, the article reports that:

Some in the White House fret over what they view as the president’s fits of rage, and Trump’s longtime friends say his mood has been more sour than at any point since they have known him. They privately worry about his health, noting that he appears to have gained weight in recent months and that the darkness around his eyes reveals his stress.

But never fear!

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Cartoon: Hot take wave

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 21:51:14 +0000

I fully acknowledge that I’m part of the opinion-industrial-complex and its role in creating an uninformed public. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianMc_Fadden.

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The potentially tragic consequences of the GOP's healthcare repeal on people like Steve Scalise

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:02:32 +0000

The New Republic has a thoughtful piece examining the potential consequences of the GOP's healthcare repeal bill on someone who becomes the victim of a shooting, requires extensive care, and thank goodness, survives that attack, as Republican Congressman Steve Scalise hopefully will.

Naturally, Republicans and Democrats alike have shied away from politicizing last week's shooting of one of their own (though a pro-Karen Handel Super PAC saw it as fair game in the GA-06 race). But the short-term and long-term impacts of the GOP's healthcare repeal bill on someone in Scalise's situation are worthy of examination, which is exactly what Brian Beutler endeavored to do.

Uninsurance is not a widespread problem for people who work on Capitol Hill, which means Scalise will likely be spared the second-most horrifying consequence of his injuries: the financial cost.

Through no fault of his own, Scalise has just incurred hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in medical expenses. And while he may ultimately be responsible for a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of these costs, he and his Republican colleagues in Congress are, as he convalesces, attempting to expose millions of Americans to the kind of financial ruin he has so far avoided.

The elephant in the room since the shooting in Alexandria has been the tension between elected Republicans’ reflexive expectation that one of their colleagues receive outstanding care at essentially no monetary cost to him, and what they believe millions of other Americans should expect if they meet a similarly unlucky fate.

Beutler asked Scalise's office for redacted copies of his insurance records following the shooting so as to make "his total medical costs and his out-of-pocket costs a matter of public record." As one might imagine, his office was not responsive to the inquiry.

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More Americans believe James Comey than Donald Trump, second poll this week confirms

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:56:21 +0000

Nope. Americans just don’t believe Donald Trump’s story about his conversations with then-FBI Director James Comey before he fired Comey. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal found that people believed Comey’s account over Trump’s by a two-to-one margin, with 45 percent believing Comey and a tiny 22 percent believing Trump.

Just 50 percent of Republicans believe Trump, though only 10 percent believe Comey, so Republicans really don’t quite know what to do with this. Half of them realize Trump is not telling the truth, but they can’t follow that one out to its logical end.

The bad news for Trump doesn’t stop there:

The NBC/WSJ poll also finds 46 percent of Americans disapproving of Trump's decision to fire Comey — up from 38 percent in May.

Just 27 percent approve of Comey's ouster. [...]

According to the NBC/WSJ poll, 53 percent of Americans believe that Russia's government interfered in the 2016 election, compared with 36 percent who disagree.

This is the second poll this week with similar results. No wonder Trump had to have his ego massaged at a campaign rally on Wednesday.

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Trump suggests 'new immigration rules' that Clinton already signed into law 20 years ago

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:14:38 +0000

Donald Trump is so yugely succeeding at making America great again, that ideas he’s suggesting during those incoherent, televised rants he calls “campaign speeches” are instantly becoming law. Or maybe it’s just that these “new immigration rules” he suggested during his Iowa rally this week were already signed into existence over two decades ago by a certain former president he once liked, until his more qualified wife massively kicked his orange rear in the popular vote last November:

Reading from his trusted teleprompter, Trump declared, “The time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.”

Recognizing the popularity of what he’d just said, the president added, “We’ll be putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”

As it turns out, that won’t be necessary. The Hill reported that this idea already exists in a law created 20 years ago.

Known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the legislation was passed during the administration of former President Bill Clinton and said that an immigrant is “not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit” for 5 years, which starts on the date the immigrant enters the country.

There are exceptions under the law as to what qualifies as a federal-means tested public benefit. Some exceptions include certain medical assistance, “in-kind emergency disaster relief,” and public health assistance for some vaccines.

“I suppose it’s possible Trump intends to ‘put in legislation’ to change the restrictions that already exist, but it seems more likely that the president is simply unaware of current federal policy,” notes Maddow’s Steve Benen.

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Nevada's Dean Heller says he’s opposed to Trumpcare 'in this form'

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 19:41:47 +0000

Campaign Action

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) announced Friday afternoon in a joint press conference with Nevada's Gov. Brian Sandoval that he will oppose the Senate Trumpcare bill "in this form." Heller's criticisms of the bill were pointed and many.

Heller laid out a laundry list of concerns with the Senate version of the bill, including concerns that rolling back Medicaid eligibility would eventually leave a nearly half-billion dollar hole in the state budget, and wouldn’t do anything to lower premiums. He said revisions that would make him more comfortable with the bill were unlikely to move forward given that conservative factions in the Senate demanding the bill go even further in rolling back the federal insurance law.

“It’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes,” Heller said. […]

Sandoval — who has long held concerns about federal efforts to roll back Medicaid eligibility — said the Senate version of the bill would require the state to find approximately $480 million to continue existing levels of coverage, which he said the state “cannot sustain.” The Republican governor said he felt that he had made a “personal commitment” to the newly eligible population, and promised to continue to fight for continuing insurance coverage. […]

“At first glance, I have serious concerns about the bill’s impact on the Nevadans who depend on Medicaid,” [Heller] said in a statement.

The DSCC isn't buying it.

Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to ripping health care away from millions of Americans. No on Trumpcare. Then, tell us how it went.

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Senate Trumpcare bill: Gratuitous tax giveaways to the rich, gratuitous, monstrous pain for the poor

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 18:08:07 +0000

This makes the totally unnecessary, retroactive capital gains tax cut included in Trumpcare all the worse. The bill would force people on Medicaid to reapply every six months, or even more frequently.

x

Yes, that is savage. It’s unnecessary. It’s cruel. It’s a “fuck you” to all of low-income America, to disabled adults, to children—to the millions of people on Medicaid. Are the “moderates” in the Republican Senate conference going to capitulate to this, too?

Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to ripping health care away from millions of Americans. No on Trumpcare. Then, tell us how it went.

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Midday open thread: House committee wants 'space corps'; EPA's methane measures being investigated

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 19:00:59 +0000

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is Friend or foe:  • What’s coming up on Sunday Kos … A final ode to Cliff Huxtable: Burying the past in order to deal with the present, by Kelly Macias Right-wing ‘news’ sites distract from nightmare Trumpcare with scary fairy tales of freedom lost, by Ian Reifowitz The Democratic Party does not need a civil war, now or later, by Egberto Willies Hot enough for you? It’s likely to get worse. Much worse, by Sher Watts Spooner Senator Portman: 220,000 Ohioans with substance abuse coverage will lose it under repeal, by David Akadjian Step, Tap, Stomp: The power of dance rhythms, by Denise Oliver Velez The consequences of voting against you best interests, by Mark E Andersen • An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events • Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups • Gabe Pressman, pioneering New York broadcast reporter dead at 93. • Sierra Club’s Michael Brune weighs in on delisting Yellowstone grizzly bears:  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone region on Thursday from the Endangered Species List. The decision comes despite serious concerns in the scientific community about a declining, isolated population with diminishing food resources and record-high mortalities, as well as strong opposition from an unprecedented number of Tribal Nations. The Trump administration turned a deaf ear to repeated calls for consultation from dozens of Tribal Nations. States have already made it clear that without endangered species protections, immediate steps will be taken to reduce the number of bears in the area, including through trophy hunting—a move that will reverse grizzly bear recovery in the region. • California’s Senate president pro-term Kevin de León is at the center of West Coast resistance to Donald Trump. • EPA Inspector General will evaluate agency’s methane measurements: The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General will investigate how the agency estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas sector after an environmental group alleged that its emission estimates and regulations are based, in part, on faulty studies. The evaluation, announced Wednesday, will focus on a pair of studies conducted jointly by the University of Texas–Austin and the Environmental Defense Fund in 2013-2014 that found methane emissions to be lower than EPA estimates. The studies, which were done in cooperation with a number of oil and gas companies, were subsequently challenged for allegedly using faulty equipment and underestimating emissions. • House committee pursues founding of military “space corps”: Congress took formal steps on Thursday toward requiring the US military to establish a dedicated "Space Corps," as concern mounts over the vulnerability of American space assets and their central role in modern war-fighting. [...] "We are convinced that the Department of Defense is unable to take the measures necessary to address these challenges effectively and decisively, or even recognize the nature and scale of its problems," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee for Strategic Forces, and Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), the subcommittee's ranking member, in a joint statement. "Thus, Congress has to step in." • Study: White Christians have a blind spot in detecting racial inequality: One of the most notable markers of difference in how people perceive prejudice in America turns out to be faith identity. The American Values Atlas by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute reveals marked discrepancies in how members of different faith traditions perceive prejudice against African Americans, immigrants, and members [...]



As Senate Republicans attack health care, House Republicans continue attacks on immigrants

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:23:22 +0000

Senate Republicans appear set on voting to dismantle healthcare coverage for millions of disabled Americans and other vulnerable groups next week, but don’t worry, undocumented immigrant families, because House Republicans haven’t forgotten about you either. According to Politico, Republican legislators, led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, (R-VA) are also readying even more bills targeting undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities:

One of the bills to see a floor vote, dubbed Kate's Law, boosts penalties for immigrants who try to re-enter the United States after being deported. It is named after Kate Steinle, a young woman who was shot and killed in San Francisco by an immigrant who had been deported repeatedly yet returned. Trump frequently discussed the killing on the campaign trail last year.

The second is legislation that goes after so-called sanctuary cities — localities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, including by refusing to hold an immigrant in jail longer just so federal officials can pick him or her up to be deported. Sanctuary cities, usually liberal jurisdictions such as New York, have also been a major Trump target.

The legislation is penned by Rep. Goodlatte, who recently pushed a bill that would require Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] deportation officers to have access to not just standard-issue handguns and stun guns, but also M-4 rifles or equivalents.” Meanwhile, federal immigration agencies run amok with rogue agents newly emboldened by Donald Trump’s presidency, with oftentimes deadly consequences.

These kinds of anti-immigrant bills are all being done under the guise of keeping America safe, when in reality the administration has been sweeping up and demonizing thousands of undocumented immigrants without criminal records. The current administration has the resources and capability to prioritize who should and shouldn’t get deported—the last administration was trying to do it but there was constant sabotaging from Republicans—but it becomes more and more clear every day they just want everyone with a tan out.

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Does Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito have a heart?

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:23:47 +0000

We’ll soon find out. Sen. Capito (R-WV) was actually willing to meet with constituents about Trumpcare, more than many of her Republican colleagues have done. But what happens after this meeting is what counts. 

x

In this clip she’s meeting a mother who talks about her adult daughter who has lived with cancer for four years, imploring the senator to understand how Trumpcare could ruin everything for her daughter.

She's 41 years old. She's been fighting this cancer for four years, very diligently. [She] has maintained her job, has gotten promotions, has led teams. As sick as she has been, she would not be alive today if it wasn't for the ACA (Affordable Care Act). […]

With the cap, if she ever lost her insurance—in seven months she went over $1,200,000, and this has been going on for four years. Pre-existing condition, and we're not sure how long she's gonna be able to work. Maybe forever, that's what our goal is.

But these are real people. My daughter. And so I just want you to have that in your brain when you look at this [healthcare bill].

So, Sen. Capito. Will it be in your head when you vote on this next week? Or will you stay true to form and capitulate to your leader Mitch McConnell? Like your people always do.

Your Republican senator must feel the heat. Write them an angry letter giving them a piece of your mind.

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The completely gratuitous gift to the super-rich that proves Trumpcare is a tax bill

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 16:20:40 +0000

Campaign Action

How blatantly heartless and craven is Mitch McConnell's Trumpcare bill? Even Fox Business will tell you. Look at this headline: "Senate Health Bill Gives Huge Tax Cuts to Businesses, High-Income Households." They're not necessarily saying it in a celebratory way, not when they come to the totally gratuitous tax break for the super-rich that's hidden away in the Obamacare repeal part of the bill.

The tax portions of the proposal, a draft of which was released on Thursday in advance of a possible vote next week, are very similar to the elements in the version the House passed last month. The plan operates like the 2010 Affordable Care Act in reverse. Instead of raising taxes to pay for expanded insurance coverage, it reduces coverage and cuts taxes.

The taxes it would remove were created to pay for Obamacare. The most notable is a 3.8% tax on investment income, including capital gains and dividends. The tax only applies to individuals with incomes exceeding $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000.

Like in the House bill, that tax would be repealed as of Jan. 1, 2017, dropping the top capital-gains tax rate to 20% from 23.8%. Under that measure, people who sold assets earlier this year, even before they knew if the tax cut would happen, would benefit. Retroactive tax cuts like this don't create an incentive and can yield windfall gains for people who already made decisions. [emphasis added]

It's just a stocking stuffer to the main present of huge tax cuts the super-rich are getting; it’s blood money wrung out of Medicaid.

It's totally gratuitous, the largest single tax cut in the whole bill. As Former Special Assistant to President Obama for Economic Policy Seth Hanlon tweeted "There is no reason to make a tax cut on capital gains/dividends *retroactive* unless your purpose is to shovel money to rich people."

A retroactive capital gains tax cut, as Fox Business tells us, gives absolutely no incentive for investing in anything that will boost the economy or create jobs. It's just a reward for being part of the 1 percent.

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How McConnell wins on Trumpcare (unless we stop him): 'Moderates always cave'

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:51:37 +0000

Campaign Action

Because there isn't enough drama in the prospect of millions of people being kicked out of their health care and the destruction of a key part of the social safety net, we're being treated to the process story the day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released his version of Trumpcare. The breathless reports from Politico are all about how McConnell will bring together his conference to pass this. Will he really be winning by losing? asks the Times.

WASHINGTON — When it comes to managing Republicans’ best interests, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, rarely loses. So it is possible that Mr. McConnell views the potential failure of a hastily written health care bill as an eventual boon.

What that boon is is never really explained in the article, oddly, but it does give a good set up to talk about all the potential obstacles to this actually happening, with the key graph here (though the reporter might not have noticed it):

Mr. McConnell plays his strategic cards so close to the vest that a queen of hearts must be tattooed on his tie. He may, of course, be convinced that the Senate can pass this bill. Perhaps after some moaning, and some changes to the bill through amendments, the 51 senators needed to get the bill over the line (or 50 if Vice President Mike Pence is summoned) will choose a good-enough effort over being tarred as the person who declined to make good on a seven-year promise to unravel President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement.
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The North Carolina law you've never heard of that says consent during sex is irrelevant

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 15:29:05 +0000

Let’s talk about sex, folks—seriously. Let’s talk, again, about what constitutes consensual sex and what does not. This seems like something obvious that we should all know but it’s becoming increasingly clear that many of us do not. And because the Bill Cosby trial has brought this topic to the forefront of our attention, let’s take this moment to get conscious once and for all.

Consensual sex is when both parties willingly choose to participate. Consent should be clear and openly communicated. A person has the right to withdraw their consent to sexual activity at any time, despite what religion or some states may want to tell you. This last part is particularly important. North Carolina, for example, doesn’t believe that this is true. Right now, they have an antiquated and abusive law on the books that says that women cannot change their mind during sex even if things become violent. 

According to a 1979 state Supreme Court ruling, State v. Way, a man isn’t guilty of rape if he continues to have intercourse with a woman who asks him to stop, so long as she agreed to the encounter at the outset.

North Carolina is the only state with such a law on the books, and efforts to change it have been unsuccessful, even as women have spoken out about how the law has harmed them.

So we are all clear, this is a law that says that rape is perfectly legal. With archaic and vile laws like this in existence, it’s no wonder that Republican lawmakers would be so uninformed about sexual assault as to say incredibly asinine things like “legitimate rape.” Numerous women have come forward to press the state to change the law. They have described situations where they initially consented but changed their minds. One incident was taped. And while the tape confirmed the woman’s story, the police still did not charge her attacker. This law does not allow women to have any autonomy over their own bodies. It is downright frightening and a sobering reminder of how patriarchy and misogyny are incredibly real and powerful. So much so that in North Carolina, a woman not only doesn’t have the right to say yes (because that’s what consent really means), she also doesn’t have the right to say no. 

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Add higher deductibles to the ways Trumpcare will hurt you

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 15:48:34 +0000

The Senate Trumpcare bill, like the House bill before it, is death (literally, in many cases) by a thousand cuts. If it doesn’t just strip your Medicaid, it’ll price you out of being able to get coverage or leave you with insurance that doesn’t cover what you need covered or—as Jonathan Cohn wonkily explains—leave you with higher deductibles:

Under the Affordable Care Act, the benchmark plan is a “silver” plan. Silver plans have an “actuarial value” (AV) of 70, which means they should cover roughly 70 percent of the typical person’s medical expenses. Under the Senate proposal, the benchmark plan would be a policy with an AV of 58 ― in other words, a plan that would cover just 58 percent of the typical person’s medical expenses. That’s pretty close to what, under the Affordable Care Act, qualifies as a “bronze” plan. [...]

In 2016, the median deductible in a silver plan on healthcare.gov was $3,500 a year, according to the Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services. This, roughly speaking, is the plan that Obamacare is designed to help consumers get. In 2016, the median deductible in a bronze plan on healthcare.gov was $6,300. This ― again, roughly speaking ― is the plan that Senate Republicans want to help consumers get. 

The effects could be even bigger for low-income people:

Somebody making $20,000 a year could easily see deductibles increase dramatically, from $1,000 (the average deductible for lowest-income consumers in 2016, according to Aviva Aron-Dine of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) up to that $6,300 average. And for somebody at that income level ― think a home care worker or retail clerk barely covering costs like food and rent ― even modestly higher out-of-pocket medical costs would be crippling.

Of course low-income people would be especially screwed. Of course. This is a Republican plan, after all. But there’s plenty of pain to go around, all to pay for a tax cut for the wealthy.

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Donald Trump reveals how he outsmarted James Comey with pretend tapes 'it wasn't very stupid'

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:50:58 +0000

Donald Trump was interviewed about Thursday’s tweet, issued at prime distract-from-horrible-Senate-healthcare-bill time, saying that he never had any recordings of his conversations with James Comey. In this interview, Trump issues a declaration of just how smart him be.

As with most Trump explanations, this one first needs to be translated into English.

Trump: Well I didn’t tape him. Uh. You never know what’s happening when you see that the Obama administration, and perhaps longer than that, was doing all this unmasking and, uh, surveillance, and you read all about it—and I’ve been reading all about it for the last couple of months. About the seriousness of the … And horrible situation with the surveillance all over the place. And you’ve been hearing the word ‘unmasking’ — a word you probably never heard before. So you don’t know what’s out there. 

Translation: I worry that Barack Obama is under my desk.

Trump: But I didn’t tape, and I don’t have any tape. And I didn’t tape. 

Translation: I totally taped him.

Trump then goes on to say that he thinks Comey may have changed his story. This prompts an assist from his chirpy Fox & Friends of Donald Trump interviewer who praises Trump for pretending to have tapes. Sorry, “Tapes.”

Fox: It was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings!

Trump: Well … uh. It wasn’t … uh. It wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that.

That’s right. Donald Trump trapped James Comey into being honest … by lying. Him not stupid!

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In a strong statement, AARP vows to 'hold all 100 Senators accountable' for health care bill

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:22:48 +0000

When the Republicans finally released their secretive wealthcare bill yesterday, several horrible elements immediately jumped out, many or most of them affecting citizens 46 years of age and older. Wealthcare bill provisions would decimate Medicaid, which 64% of nursing home residents rely on. The bill would allow insurance companies to charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions, something that would affect an estimated 130 million Americans, many over the age of 50 years old. And finally, the wealthcare bill includes an “age tax” that would mean beginning at age 46 years old, insurance companies could begin charging up to five times more than premiums for younger people:

The AHCA would raise that limit: Premiums for older people could jump to five times the amount insurers charge younger consumers, from the limit of three times the younger consumers’ rate under the current law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Such a change would significantly increase financial burdens on millions of older adults, but the shift in costs would do little to get more young consumers to enroll.

Needless to say, this will have a dramatic effect on the 38 million members of AARP and they released a very strong statement vowing to hold all 100 senators accountable for their vote:

“This new Senate bill was crafted in secrecy behind closed doors without a single hearing or open debate—and it shows. The Senate bill would hit millions of Americans with higher costs and result in less coverage for them. AARP is adamantly opposed to the Age Tax, which would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else while reducing tax credits that help make insurance more affordable.    

“AARP is also deeply concerned that the Senate bill cuts Medicaid funding that would strip health coverage from millions of low-income and vulnerable Americans who depend on the coverage, including 17 million poor seniors and children and adults with disabilities. The proposed Medicaid cuts would leave millions, including our most vulnerable seniors, at risk of losing the care they need and erode seniors’ ability to live in their homes and communities.

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Here's why disabled people faced arrest to protest Medicaid cuts: Their lives were at stake

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:48:56 +0000

Thursday, protesters with disabilities gathered outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office to stage a die-in calling attention to Trumpcare’s massive cuts to Medicaid. It was a shocking scene as Capitol police dragged them away and arrested them. But when you find out what was at stake, it’s clear why people would risk harm and arrest to protest this. The foundation of millions of people’s ability to live independent lives is at stake, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains: People with disabilities account for more than 1 in 5 Medicaid beneficiaries under age 65.  Nationwide, nearly 13 million non-elderly Americans with disabilities receive health coverage through Medicaid, including more than 2 million children. Nearly half of non-elderly people with disabilities have their health care covered through Medicaid.  Medicaid is crucial for people with disabilities. It provides comprehensive health benefits and serves as the primary payer for essential long-term services and supports that help people with disabilities stay independent in their homes. Many of these long-term care services are unavailable through private insurance and are too costly for all but the wealthiest people to fund out of pocket, such as personal and attendant care services. Medicaid can also cover wheelchairs, lifts, and case management services. And Medicaid can help people with disabilities find and hold jobs. A number of states provide supportive employment programs through Medicaid that offer services to help people with disabilities join the workforce. For many, Medicaid cuts would mean being forced out of their homes and into institutions: The House bill would place a fixed cap on per-beneficiary federal Medicaid funding, cutting federal funding to the states by growing amounts over time. This would force many states to make excruciating decisions on whom they cover, the benefits they provide, and how much they pay providers, and likely would jeopardize coverage and care for vulnerable populations that Medicaid covers. People with disabilities who rely on Medicaid-funded services to avoid having to live in a nursing home or other institution would be among those hit hardest. The House bill’s cuts would likely prompt many states to roll back their progress in expanding access to care in the community and prevent them from making more progress in the future. That’s because unlike most services in Medicaid, which states must cover, most home- and community-based services are optional Medicaid benefits that states can cut when they face funding shortfalls. [...]



Cartoon: Friend or foe

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:51:08 +0000

U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is getting curiouser and curiouser. Soon after President Trump’s recent visit, a major rift happened between Saudi Arabia and Qatar (among others). Trump came out firmly in support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. If you were just getting a handle on the various Sunni and Shiite players, now add in a rift between Sunni nations.  

The Middle East’s already-complicated foreign policy picture just got decidedly more complicated. The Saudi royals and Trump explain the Qatar rift as being all about terrorism and Islamic extremism, but Saudi Wahhabism is not exactly a model of religious tolerance and democracy. Hmmm, could there be a business angle to this entire confusing mess?

If Qatar is so evil, then why is the U.S. Navy conducting joint training exercises with them right now? It seems that the White House and the Pentagon aren’t on the same page when it comes to foreign policy. Keep your eyes peeled and enjoy the cartoon. (And be sure to visit me over on Patreon!)

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Republicans blocked President Obama from telling the public about Russian actions to help Trump

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:29:08 +0000

Donald Trump asks the question frequently, and always with a sneer: If President Barack Obama knew that Vladimir Putin had intervened in the United States’ election with the direct intention of helping Trump, why did Obama wait so long to say anything? The answer detailed in a new story from the Washington Post turns out to be simple: First, Obama was trying to do the right things. Second, Republicans stopped that from happening. Campaign Action As former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified earlier this week, the Russian activity in the election went beyond just hacking into emails, beyond distributing those emails through Wikileaks, and beyond creating a stream of fake-news stories that were eagerly shared by alt-right websites and social media. Russia took unprecedented “active measures,” attempting to penetrate state databases and alter or delete voter roles. It was tantamount a secret declaration of war by Russia, and the Obama administration treated it the security and care that it deserved. Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. … The material was so sensitive that CIA Director John Brennan kept it out of the President’s Daily Brief, concerned that even that restricted report’s distribution was too broad. The CIA package came with instructions that it be returned immediately after it was read. To guard against leaks, subsequent meetings in the Situation Room followed the same protocols as planning sessions for the Osama bin Laden raid. At that early stage, they couldn’t tell the full extent of the Russian operations. They didn’t know the scale of the attack. They couldn’t tell who in the United States might be cooperating with the Russians. They could only be certain about one thing. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump. [...]



The Senate Trumpcare bill: Mean, mean, mean

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:01:02 +0000

Campaign Action Mitch McConnell released what he and his leadership team are calling a "discussion draft" of Trumpcare on Thursday, calling it the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" (wags immediately added "Plan" to the end of the title so we can call it BRCAP). It's being carefully presented as just a discussion bill to give Republican senators the opportunity to publicly declare that that bill "as written" is unacceptable to them, from both the extreme right and the mainstream far right that passes for "moderate" these days. This will allow McConnell to make some tweaks—like throwing a few billion more into opioid addiction treatment, or giving Medicaid expansion one more year to exist, or making the tax credits even more penurious to keep the undeserving from getting them—that will allow factions to declare victory on their particular issues and 50 of them to support the bill. Two Senators, one of which will likely be Nevada's Dean Heller will probably be allowed to vote no. Most of the in-fighting and posturing of the next week will be who gets to be the second one. There's a helluva lot for the so-called moderates to oppose. Any hopes that the Senate would make the bill less harsh than what the House passed last month, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) have been dashed. Here's some of the top line destruction it will create. It will destroy Medicaid more completely than the House bill. While it waits until 2021 to phase out Medicaid expansion, it still ends it, and with it coverage for some 14 million Americans. It makes deeper future cuts to Medicaid than the House bill, setting a limit on per-person spending for states, and tying increases in that spending limit to the overall consumer price index, a measure that grows much more slowly than the increase in health spending, the measure the House bill used. In the long term, that means Medicaid will be cut far deeper in BCRAP. It ends Medicaid as we know it. It jeopardizes coverage for 1 in 5 Americans, for half of all births, for two-thirds of all seniors in nursing homes, for three-quarters of poor children. It gives 400 of the country's  highest-earning families a $33 billion tax break, blood money for those Medicaid cuts. Those cuts "roughly equal the federal cost of maintaining the expansion in Nevada, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Alaska combined." Among those getting a big tax cut: health insurance CEOs. The Affordable Care Act taxed CEO income over $500,000, BCRAP ends that. [...]



Morning Digest: Nevada Democrats land their first major candidate in pivotal 2018 gubernatorial race

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:01:25 +0000

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard. Leading Off ● NV-Gov: On Thursday, Democratic Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak announced he was running for governor in 2018, making him the first prominent candidate from either party to jump into the race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval. Sisolak serves as chairman of the seven-member commission in a county that covers the greater Las Vegas area and over two-thirds of the Silver State's population, giving him a prominent springboard for higher office.​ Campaign Action ​Sisolak's commission record will also give opponents chances to attack him, though, particularly over a controversial $750 million hotel tax to pay for part of a new $1.9 billion football stadium to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas. However, Sisolak starts the race with over $3 million in cash on hand since he can transfer leftover funds from his 2016 re-election campaign to a statewide contest. Democrats regained both legislative chambers in 2016 amid Hillary Clinton's 48-46 victory statewide, and they quickly set about passing an ambitious progressive agenda only to see Sandoval veto measures such as a Medicaid buy-in health care public option and automatic voter registration. Consequently, if Democrats win the gubernatorial race next year for the first time since 1994, they could gain unified control over state government for the first time in over a quarter century, meaning the stakes are enormous in this evenly divided swing state. Despite those high stakes, this race has been surprisingly slow to develop. Republican state Attorney General Adam Laxalt is widely expected to run and appears to be his party's front-runner at the moment, but he has yet to even acknowledge publicly that he's actively considering it. Laxalt released a poll in early June that had him leading Sisolak 46-37, but with practically no other polling of the race, it's hard to know where things stand. It's not even certain that both men will win their respective parties' nominations, since Republican state Treasurer Dan Schwartz has previously said he was considering it, while wealthy Democratic businessman Stephen Cloobeck has reportedly been quite interested too. [...]



Daily Kos Radio is TAPED at 9 AM ET!

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:01:27 +0000

I’m not taking the day off. I’m a method actor, studying for the role of Daniel Day Lewis portraying me preparing for the biopic, “The Day Off,” in the Lewis biopic, “Not a Day Off.” It hurts your brain to think about it, but trust me, it’s procedurally sound. Anyway, the real point is, I’ve got an all-new show for you today, even though I’m on the road. I’m not actually going anywhere. I’m also studying for a role as a road. Listen LIVE (from your perspective, anyway), right here at 9:00 AM ET! NPR not doing it for you? Have the networks left you mad as hell? Think The New York Times isn’t fit to print? Well, uh… that’s bad! And if I’m not mistaken, you want good, not bad. Kagro in the Morning is good! Imagine reading and discussing the news every morning with your favorite Daily Kos editors! Now imagine doing that with David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando! Pretty close, right? Why let the corporate news drive you crazy with biased content and exorbitant subscription fees, when Daily Kos Radio can do it at half the cost? Help keep us up and running with a monthly, sustaining donation to our Patreon account! Or choose your own schedule with our Square Cash account. Imagine what we could do together! I have a feeling it would sound something like this: x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash Remember how life was, back before the Senate Republicans released their Trumpcare bill? KITM does. In fact, today’s entire show was recorded in those more innocent times, making David Waldman and Greg Dworkin’s prescient analysis even more trenchant... So quit being distracted by the “new” news and listen to this stuff first! The Senate say they have some divisions in their ranks on their health-care tax bill, but really, they knew what it was—tax cuts for the rich, and Medicaid destroyed. Republicans know opposition to the House bill has doubled among even Republican voters, but they bet this won’t matter for their reelection, and they are relying on the media forgetting before 2018. So—deductibles and out-of-pocket go up? Yep. Lives of the neediest on Medicaid ruined or destroyed? Sure! Strangle Planned Parenthood? Of course! But think of all of the regulations and taxes going away! Mitch would be happy to throw out a lot of Senate rules to make that happen. All of this distracts from Trump’s Russian collusion, as Dan Coats and Mike Rogers could tell you, but no, not the President. Today was not the day Donald trump finally became president, because he remains a candidate, and somehow he’s the worst at that too. Campaign Finance Law: When “Collusion” with a foreign government becomes a crime. The FBI fired Sebastian Gorka for anti-Muslim diatribes, but it’s a living. (Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold. [...]



Abbreviated pundit roundup: Senate GOP unveils massive tax cut for the rich as its health care bill

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:46:06 +0000

We begin today’s roundup with The New York Times and its editorial on the Senate Republican health care bill, which is nothing more than a massive tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of the nation’s most vulnerable:

It would be a big mistake to call the legislation Senate Republicans released on Thursday a health care bill. It is, plain and simple, a plan to cut taxes for the wealthy by destroying critical federal programs that help provide health care to tens of millions of people. [...]

If passed in its current form, the Senate bill would greatly weaken Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides insurance to nearly 69 million people, more than any other government or private program. It would do this by gradually but inexorably shifting more of the financial burden of Medicaid to states, in effect, forcing them to cover fewer people and to provide fewer services. Over all, the Senate would reduce federal spending by about $1 trillion over 10 years and use almost that much to cut taxes for rich families and health care companies.

The Washington Post agrees:

It includes a range of mostly unwise and ungenerous changes to the nation’s health-care system, but it might, if enacted, end up as mostly a massive, unpaid-for tax cut for wealthy people and industries with pull on Capitol Hill. [...] 

The cynicism of this exercise is evident in its staging. The bill would kill a variety of taxes right away, but the subsidy and Medicaid cuts would not phase in until after the 2018 midterm election. It would be left to future Congresses to allow severe cuts to the safety net or major expansion of the federal debt, or a combination of the two. Instead of forcing this choice between Americans’ physical health and the nation’s fiscal health, senators should end this repeal-and-replace disaster now.

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Open thread for night owls: 'Pizzagate' gunman gets 4-year prison sentence

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 03:00:59 +0000

The gunman who entered a Washington pizza restaurant to investigate false allegations peddled by Alex Jones and other conspiracy theorists that the building was a hub for a child-trafficking ring supposedly connected to Hillary Clinton has been sentenced to four years in prison. Federal prosecutors countered in their memo to the judge that it was “entirely the product of good luck” that no one was shot. They urged Jackson to send a strong message to deter those who would commit violence based solely on “malicious and misguided” Internet rumors. “Beyond Pizzagate, the Internet is full of wild conspiracy theories where people urge members of the public . . . to take action,” wrote the assistant U.S. attorneys Ahn and Sonali D. Patel. [...] “A significant sentence is required to deter other people from pursuing vigilante justice based only on their YouTube feed,” prosecutors wrote. Prosecutors had asked for a four and a half year sentence. • An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events • Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES TWEET OF THE DAY xMedicaid is important to disabled people. We raise our voice and get answered with handcuffs #ADAPTandRESIST pic.twitter.com/Wm00OG4JYI— Colleen Flanagan (@ColleenFlangan) June 22, 2017 BLAST FROM THE PAST At on this date in 2007—Good ideas that are bad politics: So here's the deal.  Five years, no new highways.  No new bridges, bypasses, nothing.  Instead, we allocate the same money for highways, but we spend half of it on fixing up the infrastructure we already have, and the other half building up public transportation so we don't need as many highways.  Bonus funding for any city that gets rid of existing lanes. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, you didn’t have to wait for the Gop health care tax bill text to know how bad it was. Greg Dworkin told you! The FBI once “fired” Sebastian Gorka for his anti- Muslim scamming. The argument for treating Trump-Russia as a campaign finance violation story. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash [...]



Seattle's $15 minimum wage raised pay with zero effect on restaurant jobs, new study shows

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:20:50 +0000

Raising the minimum wage does not kill jobs, no matter what Republicans tell you—and a new study of the Seattle restaurant industry, where some businesses are already paying a $15 minimum wage, provides another data point showing just that. According to the University of California, Berkeley, study, the increased minimum wage had employment effects that were “not statistically distinguishable from zero,” which is a fancy way of saying “we looked and we could not find a damn thing.” The Seattle Times reports:

Indeed, employment in food service from 2015 to 2016 was not affected, “even among the limited-service restaurants, many of them franchisees, for whom the policy was most binding,” according to the study, led by Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich. [...]

It can be hard to separate what impact the wage law had on employment in Seattle versus the effect of the city’s white-hot economy and tight labor market, but “we do our best,” Reich said.

The study compares the wage and employment growth rates in Seattle to a control group of counties, in Washington state and across the U.S., that had similar growth rates as Seattle in the years shortly before the minimum-wage law took effect.

A report issued last year found indications that the increased minimum wage did slightly restrict job growth, but we don’t know if the difference comes from differing methodologies or from the studies covering different time frames. Both studies have to contend with Seattle’s booming economy, which could conceivably mask lowered growth of the job rate for low-wage workers … but which itself refutes the Republican talking points against raising the minimum wage. Because “it’s hard to tell if even more low-wage workers would otherwise be employed because the economy is so darn good” does not exactly back up claims that having the minimum wage be a living wage will destroy the economy.

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Maine Democrats are about to seriously screw voters ... and themselves

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 22:13:17 +0000

What if I told you that, last year, Maine voters passed one of the most substantial voting reforms in American history?

And now, what if I told you that Democrats in the state legislature were about to kill it?

That’s the situation we’re dealing with here in the great state of Maine, as the legislature—the lower half of which has a Democratic majority—prepares to vote to repeal the state’s new Ranked Choice Voting law, which was approved by 52 percent of voters in a statewide referendum last year.

Only a simple majority of both the House and Senate would be required to repeal the law. Republicans control the Senate, and Democrats have a slim 75-71 House majority over the GOP, and there are five independents. Already, at least three House Democrats back full repeal.

Here’s why Ranked Choice Voting is such a big deal:

  • Ranked Choice Voting restores majority rule by empowering voters to rank candidates for state and congressional office from their most favorite to their least favorite. It ensures that candidates with the most votes and broadest support win—and we Mainers know a thing or two about the importance of majority rule after seeing Paul LePage win two gubernatorial elections without ever securing a majority. (And winning his first term with a paltry 38 percent of the vote.)
  • Ranked Choice Voting won with 52 percent of the vote last fall. All told, 388,273 Mainers voted for Ranked Choice Voting—that's more votes than every Democratic legislator received combined, and is more votes than Paul LePage received in either of his two gubernatorial elections.

Then, last month, the state Supreme Court issued a nonbinding opinion saying that parts of the Ranked Choice Voting referendum passed by voters were unconstitutional. That sounds bad, but here's the thing: Repealing the law is NOT the legislature's only course of action.

Here are just a few things that the legislature could do that would acknowledge the court's opinion and still respect the will of the people:

  • Amend the state constitution to allow for Ranked Choice Voting
  • Amend the law to create a "trigger," so that the law would take effect only after the constitution is amended sometime down the road
  • Create a dual system that would allow for Ranked Choice Voting in congressional races and primaries—with which the state Supreme Court took no issue
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Republicans ready to shut down government in Washington state

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:25:15 +0000

Public workers in Washington state are getting temporary layoff notices, as the state could be headed for a government shutdown on July 1 if the Republican-held state Senate and Democratic state House and governor can’t reach a budget agreement before then. The legislature is under court order to fix school underfunding, and—surprise!—Republicans are rejecting most options for adding revenue and refusing to negotiate. The editorial board of The Olympian writes:

Basically this fight didn’t need to play out this way. It pits the Democratic-majority state House against a Republican-controlled Senate, but fundamentally it is ideology on the GOP side that is blocking progress.

The Democrats have been realistic about the need for new revenue. Republicans have dug in with fervor against new taxes — with one self-serving exception.

The GOP favors jacking up property taxes on mostly urban areas that have sky-high property valuations, housing affordability issues and Democratic representation. That won’t work morally or politically. Their members are justify this overall tax increase by telling their supporters that it actually means tax cuts in their districts.

So far, Democrats have showed some willingness to compromise. First, Gov. Jay Inslee suggested House Democrats pull a capital gains tax proposal off the table. Inslee, a Democrat who had proposed the tax, was acknowledging it would probably not pass in the Senate where Republicans adamantly oppose it.

But Republicans, of course, won’t compromise. As a result, Washington residents and workers are looking at a shutdown that would cause more than 50,000 senior citizens to lose meals, tens of thousands of families to lose child care, and state parks to close. Workers’ compensation claims wouldn’t be processed, workplace safety inspections would stop, veterans would lose PTSD counseling, an enormous range of healthcare services would halt, people with disabilities wouldn’t get vocational rehabilitation services, and much, much, much more.

Par for the Republican course, in other words. Stay tuned.

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A town comes together to protect man accused of sexual assault and his accuser commits suicide

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:02:24 +0000

As a society, we are a long way from dealing with rape humanely. In part, this is because many of us still don’t understand what consent is and that it’s not just about a person’s right to say no but also about their right to say yes. Our legal system is woefully inadequate when it comes to addressing sexual assault and victim shaming combined with laws that favor the accused are powerful reasons that many choose not to come forward.

In Alabama, college student Megan Rondini did everything victims are told to do when she reported her assault by a prominent local businessman. Her experience with the criminal justice system was so horrific that she committed suicide. 

Under Alabama’s archaic rape law, victims must prove they “earnestly” resisted their attackers, and the investigator who interviewed Megan quickly decided she hadn’t fought back against Bunn — she hadn’t “kicked him or hit him," he explained. His investigation would conclude that no rape occurred. But he didn’t stop there. Instead, he started building a case against Megan, questioning her for multiple crimes she wasn’t even aware she had committed.

Megan met T.J. Bunn, Jr. in a local bar. She did not remember how she ended up in his car on the way to his house but she did clearly recall that she was sober enough to tell him that she did not want to have sex with him. After telling him that she had to go multiple times and him not allowing her to leave, she “felt like just letting him have sex with me was the only way he would let me go.” This is absolutely not the same thing as consent. After he passed out, she tried to get out of his bedroom but the door was locked. She took his handgun for protection and $3 from his wallet, just in case she needed it. She then climbed out of a window in his house and broke into his car looking for her keys. She could not find them but managed to text a friend who picked her up and took her to the hospital where she met with law enforcement to report her assault. That is when she learned that the law and the community would do it all could to protect Bunn, the son of an influential family, instead of her. 

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Donald Trump to hold 2020 re-election fundraiser next week at his Washington hotel

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:39:25 +0000

Donald Trump started spending money on his 2020 re-election effort on November 24, 2016—less than three weeks after the election. He officially launched his re-election effort on inauguration day. It’s a move that allows Trump to do two things: First, he can hold rallies at which he can voice over the top attacks, angry divisive rhetoric, and general nuttiness. Second, he can do this:

President. Candidate. Businessman. Three of President Donald Trump’s roles converge next week as he holds his first re-election fundraiser at his hotel in Washington.

Donald Trump is officially holding his first fundraiser of his re-election, at the hotel he operates in a federal-government-owned building. Next week.

In a comparison when things were still sane, Barack Obama announced that he planned to run for re-election on April 4, 2011. That was a year and half before the election. It was also nearly a month ahead of the usual date, and the early sign-on generated heated complaints from Republicans at the time.

To be fair, Barack Obama did fundraising in 2010—for the upcoming congressional elections. His fundraising for re-election was limited to just over a year before the 2012 race. The same schedule fit George Bush, who attended dozens of fundraisers in 2003, and Bill Clinton, who attended a smaller number of fundraisers in 1995 for the 1996 election.

But spending 25 percent of his time in the White House regularly ignoring his day job and shoveling in donations isn’t enough for Trump. He started before he even took office, and he’s not going to stop demonstrating that Donald Trump is all about Donald Trump. All the time.

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Trump goes beyond saying Russians weren't involved, claims that the DNC hack was a 'hoax'

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:57:55 +0000

If Donald Trump’s Thursday morning Twitter stream is designed to provide a smokescreen for the Senate chopping away health care for millions of Americans, he’s definitely lighting up the diesel fuel and damp garbage. Not only did Trump flat-out lie about the nature of former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, not only did Trump continue to dispute Russia’s involvement in hacking Democratic emails, he went into new territory.

He declared that the hack of the DNC email server never really happened at all.

x

That’s correct. Donald Trump is now claiming that Democrats faked being hacked. And, presumably, released thousands of their own emails to Wikileaks, where Trump could express how much he loved the site, and Trump could feed out-of-context quotes from those emails to his rallies to stoke the flames of HIllary-hate. Because … that would be great.

Putting a “why” to this may seem difficult. But clearly, if Democrats faked an intrusion into their own servers and handed the emails to Wikileaks, they had to know that Hillary’s close personal friends Julian Assange and Roger Stone would lure trusting Donald Trump into using the damaging emails. So that Hillary would lose … but then Obama officials could then twist every intelligence office in the nation into saying that the Russians were behind it, and after that Democrats could claim that Donald Trump had colluded with the Russians, and they could all work together to thwart Trump’s plans. It was probably all planned when Bill Clinton visited Loretta Lynch’s plane (and don’t let the fact that the plane thing came later throw you off, Clintons are tricky).

It all makes perfect … nonsense.

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Months after Trump's hype, Carrier announces 600 layoffs

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:58:07 +0000

Remember how, back before the media caught on to Donald Trump’s habit of announcing he’d “created” jobs that had been long planned or “saved” jobs that either didn’t need saving or weren’t actually saved, his Carrier deal was major headline news? Trump supposedly saved 1,000 jobs from being sent to Mexico, and we were supposed to ignore the fact that many of the jobs being “saved” were never planned to be cut, and the giant tax subsidies he doled out to make that happen, and all the jobs that were still going to Mexico, and the fact that the deal was going to help the company eliminate jobs through automation.

Well, Carrier isn’t in the headlines so much these days, which makes it about time for the asterisks on Trump’s big deal to kick in with a vengeance. Layoffs are officially coming for more than 600 workers at the plant:

"The jobs are still leaving," said Robert James, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999. "Nothing has stopped." [...]

[The CEO of Carrier’s parent company] said the laid-off workers would be offered jobs at other factories across the country.

"We're going to be hiring something like 5,000 people this year," he said.

But union officials say they have heard nothing from the company about any job offers elsewhere within the company. All they have received is the official notice, as required by federal law, that the first round of cuts — 338 jobs — will take place on July 20, with an additional 290 employees terminated on Dec. 22, three days before Christmas.

But of course this reality won’t get nearly as many headlines as Trump’s hype did. 

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'Blood money': Senate Republicans introduce a 'healthcare' bill even meaner than the House version

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 23:00:59 +0000

Today Senate Republicans unveiled their own attempt at healthcare "reform." It is meaner than the House bill, will likely leave even more Americans without insurance, and is targeted especially at phasing out the Medicaid program as we now know it. A roundup of what we know and what's happened so far: URGENT: Give your Republican senator a piece of your mind about Trumpcare. • The text of the bill—introduced as a "discussion draft" by Republicans—reveals an effort even more extreme than the House Republican version. It strips subsidies for insurance, replacing them with tax credits and reducing the number of families that can get them. As with the House bill, older Americans are especially hard-hit. It not only allows states to waive essential health benefits, allowing plans to be sold which refuse coverage for maternity care, cancer treatments, or other carve-outs, but does away with the requirement that those waivers be granted only if the state can provide equivalent coverage. But the most dramatic measure is a phase-out of the Medicaid program. Not only is the expansion of Medicaid undone, but states would be free to eliminate coverage altogether; deep cuts to federal funding would all but require that they do so. We won't know coverage estimates until the Congressional Budget Office is able to analyze and score the bill, but expectations are that the Senate bill will uninsure more Americans than even the House version. • Sen. Bob Casey's office provided a public rundown of some of the biggest individual planks: The requirement that insurers cover certain essential health benefits is stripped. Price protections for those with preexisting conditions are stripped. "Decimating" Medicaid. A pittance towards the opioid epidemic—less than a twentieth of what Republican senators were previously demanding. And on, and on. • A measure of how gargantuan the tax cuts for wealthy Americans are, and how much Medicaid coverage needed to be stripped in order to provide them: The "tax cuts that the 400 wealthiest families will get" from the Senate's healthcare repeal bill "roughly equal the federal cost of maintaining the expansion in Nevada, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Alaska combined." • Protests outside McConnell's offices were met with arrests, with officers forcibly removing some disabled protesters from their wheelchairs and handcuffing others while still seated in them. The protesters were unable to meet with McConnell because he is a coward. [...]



Betsy DeVos: The Higher Education Act is 50 entire years old, so it should be killed off

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:56:57 +0000

Betsy DeVos, who famously didn’t know what was in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act during her confirmation hearing as education secretary, suggested Tuesday that another major federal education law should be repealed and replaced:

"We are advancing and growing as a people at an unbelievable rate. But the public policy that guides education has only inched along," Ms. DeVos told the audience of university leaders. "Consider the Higher Education Act, or HEA. This 50-year-old law still governs and defines much of what you can — and cannot — do to educate the students you serve."

"For me, and I suspect for most Americans, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to simply amend a 50-year-old law," she continued. "Adding to a half-century patchwork will not lead to meaningful reform. Real change is needed."

Oh, my. Fifty years old and amended repeatedly. It must be obsolete, and not, say, a basic framework that remains relevant and has been changed and added to as needed over the years.

Just wait until someone tells her about the Constitution. That’s more than 200 years old and it’s been amended 17 times!

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The nation's first 'clean coal' power plant ... won't burn coal

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:58:32 +0000

Though Donald Trump throws the term around with abandon, the number of “clean coal” power plants in America today is exactly zero. These entirely theoretical plants, in which carbon dioxide is captured and either piped underground or used for some other industrial process, have a long history, including the FutureGen project launched by George W. Bush in 2003. Originally estimated at $1.65 billion, FutureGen was supposed to test, not just carbon capture, but a whole suite of technologies designed to make burning coal less environmentally harmful and more efficient. The project dragged on for more than a dozen years, but despite the government offering to kick in $1 billion, costs eventually climbed out of sight and the plant never broke ground.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the Kemper County Energy Facility was a good deal less ambitious. Though it was budgeted at $2.4 billion when it began construction in 2010, Kemper avoided much of the gee-whiz technology slated for the failed FutureGen and instead made the idea of capturing and storing CO2 its primary party trick.

Now, with the project running three years behind schedule and costs having ballooned to over $7.3 billion, the nation’s first “clean coal power plant” appears to be adding another very special feature.

After years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns, Mississippi regulators on Wednesday called on Southern to work up a deal that would have the Kemper plant fueled only by gas. …

Settling for gas only at Southern’s Kemper plant threatens to undermine the business rationale for the kind of clean-coal technology the Trump administration has hailed as a way to save jobs at mines. 

What Kemper has demonstrated isn’t “clean coal,” but the folly of pouring money into technology designed to keep an industry in business when there are already better alternatives.

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NY governor pardons 9/11 recovery worker facing deportation after 30 years in U.S.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:37:04 +0000

A 9/11 recovery worker facing imminent deportation for a nonviolent conviction from over 25 years ago has received a pardon from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an important step that advocates hope will help keep him in the country after 30 years here. Despite the fact that Carlos Humberto Cardona suffers from respiratory issues due to his recovery work and has not been in trouble since his 1990 drug conviction, the Trump administration has decided this 9/11 worker is a threat and should be torn from his U.S. citizen wife and teen daughter. Cardona was “detained because of a rash, ultra-conservative” immigration policy, Cuomo tweeted in issuing the drug pardon: Cuomo, a Democrat, said that if Carlos Cardona is deported he might not be able to receive adequate health treatments for ailments he suffers after working in the Sept. 11, 2001, recovery effort. “In the more than 30 years since Carlos Cardona has lived in this country, he has built a family and given back to his community, including in the aftermath of 9/11 when he assisted with ground zero recovery efforts at the expense of his own health,” Cuomo said. “It is my hope this action will not only reunite Mr. Cardona with his wife and daughter but also send a message about the values of fairness and equality that New York was founded upon.” "Mr. Cardona is deserving of our thanks—not the cold shoulder," Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) wrote in his letter calling on DHS Sec. John Kelly and acting ICE Director Thomas Homan to halt Cardona’s deportation. “Deporting Mr. Cardona would send a chilling message not just to the immigrants who call our country home,” wrote Rep. Crowley, “but to all who would help when their country calls on them. This is not what the United States represents.” Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) told Univision that when Cardona went to ground zero to help, “ICE wasn’t there, immigration wasn’t there to ask for papers and ask, ‘Are you legal or illegal? You can’t help us in rescuing our fellow human beings.’ We need to keep mobilizing, we keep have to showing up when there’s a protest.” [...]



Here's the simplest takedown of the Republican scheme to take away health care from millions

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:22:12 +0000

How bad is this Republican wealthcare bill? It is nothing short of vicious. This is a longer thread, but if you are one of the 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, if you’ve ever been pregnant or plan to have a family, if you or a loved one survives on Medicaid, or if you are age 46 or older, this is an absolute must-read. Senator Bob Casey breaks down this AHCA wealthcare bill, starting by noting the essential health benefits requirement of the Affordable Care Act would be revoked.

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Obama rips the 'fundamental meanness' of the GOP's healthcare repeal bill

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:04:06 +0000

President Obama took the gloves off Thursday after getting a look at the Senate version of health care repeal. “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill,” the former president wrote in a Facebook post. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.  It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else.  Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions.  Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again.  Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.” “Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm,” he added. “And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.” Obama staked his presidency on signing a bill into law that ultimately expanded healthcare coverage to tens of millions of Americans. He won a second term despite the GOP’s vicious and misleading attacks on the legislation, but congressional Democrats suffered consecutive losses at the polls in the wake enacting the Affordable Care Act. But as Obama noted Thursday, providing basic healthcare coverage to more Americans should never be subject to callous political calculations: xHealth care has always been about something bigger than politics: it's about the character of our country. https://t.co/UqLO14Hef7— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 22, 2017 [...]



Shhh—White House quietly urging Republicans to weaken Russian sanctions bill

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:11:03 +0000

Well, well, well, look what we have here ...

The White House is quietly lobbying House Republicans to weaken a bill overwhelmingly passed by the Senate last week that would slap tough new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election and allow Congress to block any future move by President Trump to lift any penalties against Moscow.

The effort is designed to head off an awkward and politically damaging veto fight between the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress on Russia at a time when Mr. Trump is laboring under the shadow of multiple investigations about his campaign’s potential collusion with Moscow.

House Republicans, normally hawkish on Russia, face a choice between demonstrating a hard line against Moscow in the face of its misconduct and sparing their own president a potentially embarrassing confrontation.

The reporting from the New York Times notes that GOP Rep. Kevin Brady, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, has already initiated a procedural move that could result in the measure being rewritten.

On Tuesday, Sean Spicer dodged an inquiry about the White House's official position on the legislation. But anonymously speaking, White House officials peddled the notion that they're concerned the measure "usurps the president’s authority to impose such penalties" and interferes with his ability to conduct international diplomacy.

The officials said the White House wanted lawmakers to eliminate a congressional review process that would allow the House and the Senate to block the president from lifting sanctions against Russia, or to add a waiver that would permit him to circumvent such an action.

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Arrests outside Mitch McConnell's office: he won't meet with the Americans his bill might kill

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:45:59 +0000

We've got more pictures from this morning's protests in front of Sen. Mitch McConnell's office. Mitch spent last night meeting with lobbyists in his effort to fine-tune a bill that does pretty much every evil thing you might expect it to do, from gutting patient protections and phasing out Medicaid to tax breaks for companies that want to give their wealthy healthcare executives bigger bonuses.

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The supposed Senate GOP 'no' votes already caving

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:56:08 +0000

As our own Joan McCarter predicted earlier, several GOP senators would soon come out against the Senate bill and they would be “lying.” Right on cue: xBRK: Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are all opposed to the current Senate #AHCA, saying it doesn't go far enough.— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) June 22, 2017 Sen. Rand Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill that the Senate bill just didn’t go far enough to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I don’t think there’s anybody in America who’s more against Obamacare than myself,” he said. “I just didn’t run on Obamacare-lite.” But Paul stressed that the version released Thursday morning was just a “draft” and that GOP senators at their morning meeting all said they were “open to changes.” So sure, it’s quite possible that every Republican who says they’re a “no” gets to add some amendment that they can tout as a “win” (and maybe get a behind-closed-doors commitment from McConnell on something else). And then there’s Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, who just wants someone to hold his hand. xMe: What's the bare minimum it would take to get your vote?Rob Johnson: "Proper information."Well, doesn't sound like he's a firm no...— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) June 22, 2017 [...]



Midday open thread: Roadkill, retractions and remains

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:01:02 +0000

Today’s comic by Ruben Bolling is Because health care works best when it's free market: A well-known journalist was fired for an ethics conflict: The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday fired its highly regarded chief foreign affairs correspondent after evidence emerged of his involvement in prospective commercial deals — including one involving arms sales to foreign governments — with an international businessman who was one of his key sources. The reporter, Jay Solomon, was offered a 10 percent stake in a fledgling company, Denx LLC, by Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born aviation magnate who has ferried weapons for the CIA. It was not clear whether Solomon ever received money or formally accepted a stake in the company. It may be practical, but it still just sounds gross: A bill recently signed into law in Oregon allows drivers who crash into deer and elk on the road to harvest the animals’ meat for food. It’s not as rare as you might think. About 20 other states also let people take meat from animals killed by vehicles. And advocates say roadkill can be high-quality, grass-fed grub. This has to rate high in the history of retractions: xPlease note: We just deleted an automated tweet saying there was a 6.8 earthquake in Isla Vista. That earthquake happened in 1925.— L.A. Times: L.A. Now (@LANow) June 22, 2017 This is amazing: A wooden big toe that enabled a priest's daughter to walk around 3,000 years ago has been found to be even more complex than researchers believed. It is thought to be one of the oldest prosthetic devices ever found. [...] The surprisingly lifelike toe was made to look natural by a skilled artisan who wanted to maintain aesthetic as well as mobility during the Early Iron Age. It was designed to be worn with sandals, the popular footwear at the time. The prosthetic, which replaced an amputated right toe, was still attached to the woman's skeleton when it was found. Somewhere in Florida: Fire crews have returned to a Hudson fire station nearly two weeks after they were forced out by possibly thousands of bats. [...] Crews reported seeing the animals near the station for years, and as time went on, spotted more of them more often. Eventually, firefighters said the bats were everywhere: in the sleeping quarters, the weight room — even the bathroom. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, you didn’t have to wait for the Gop health care tax bill text to know how bad it was. Greg Dworkin told you! The FBI once “fired” Sebastian Gorka for his anti- Muslim scamming. The argument for treating Trump-Russia as a campaign finance violation story. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash [...]



Advocates fight to stop deportation of high school student arrested on day of prom

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:24:17 +0000

Advocates continue to fight to save an undocumented mother and son, arrested by ICE just one day apart from each other, from deportation to danger. High school student Diego Ismael Puma Macancela was swept up by federal immigration agents the same day of his prom, and one day after his mom Rosa’s arrest: His cousin, Gaby Macancela, said a frightened Puma Macancela came to her Prospect Avenue apartment Wednesday night after his mother's arrest. The following morning, she said they cowered in fear in one of the bedrooms when they heard agents banging on the door of the apartment. “Wake up, the police are here again," she said Puma Macancela told her. "They’re coming for me.” She said her cousin eventually walked outside and was arrested. “He’s not a criminal; he didn’t do anything bad to nobody," she said. "He was just going to school, working. He was trying to make his dreams come true for him, for his family, for us. I don’t know why. He’s just a kid.” Both Diego and Rosa fled to the U.S/Mexico border in 2014, after escaping gang violence in their native Ecuador. Once in the U.S. they applied for asylum, and according to AM New York, Diego had been issued a work permit and driver’s license. He worked two part-time jobs at fast food restaurants, and was scheduled to graduate this summer in hopes of training to be a mechanic. But instead, federal immigration officials decided Diego and Rosa—who according to their family members have no criminal records here in the U.S. or in Ecuador—are priorities for deportation. Today, both are sitting in a Louisiana detention facility and waiting to hear about their fates.  Because federal immigration officials have not yet ruled on their latest appeal, Diego and Rosa may not be put on the next ICE flight to Ecuador—scheduled every Friday—but advocates in their community are remaining cautious. At the very least, they hope he would be allowed to remain in the country long enough to get his diploma. [...]



Sen. Warren calls Senate Republican cuts to Medicaid 'blood money—people will die'

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:12:07 +0000

Donald Trump wanted a Senate healthcare repeal bill that wasn't "mean," like the House version, and had "heart."

Sorry, Don, the Senate version of Trumpcare sucks for everyone other than America's richest—all your best buds who are now running the country and have no idea what it's like to want for food or shelter or lifesaving healthcare treatment.

From the Senate floor Thursday, Elizabeth Warren excoriated the bill, saying that Republicans had treated Medicaid like a "piggy bank" they could rob at the expense of “American lives.”

Far from being kinder and gentler than the House version of the bill, Warren said, the Senate version would still "slash hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, leaving states with no choice, no choice but to cut services that kids with disabilities desperately need."

"These cuts are blood money. People will die. Let's be very clear—Senate Republicans are paying for tax cuts for the wealthy with American lives.”

It’s no coincidence that some of the Americans who would be hit hardest by this heartless piece of legislation staged a raw and gutsy protest outside of Mitch McConnell’s office Thursday.

Watch Warren rip into the GOP bill below.

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Former Obama healthcare adviser goes in on the Senate's 'ugly step-sibling' of House Trumpcare bill

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:48:32 +0000

The Senate’s draft Trumpcare bill is out, and it’s bad. Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama, detailed just how bad on Twitter.

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Trump admits there were never any tapes of his meetings with fired FBI director James Comey

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:11:37 +0000

Donald Trump injects another gallon of coal oil into the Twitter smokescreen he’s throwing up around the GOP Senate’s healthcare-killing bill.

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That’s correct. Donald Trump never had any kind of recordings of his meetings with Comey. And since the meetings were one on one with the former FBI director, that means Trump knew from the outset that there were no recordings. It’s not a mystery now. It wasn’t a mystery then. All the smug threats, all the “you’ll find out” promises, all the strum and drang and dang strumming all leads to … nothing. Because there was nothing.

Nothing of course, except further proof that Trump is a loudmouth bully who plays a game of bluff and threat with absolutely nothing to back up his bullshit statements. Which is really good evidence that Trump is likely to be exaggerating, overplaying, and utterly lying about everything else. Robert Mueller, please take note.

And no recordings also means that, when it comes to Trump’s word against Comey, Trump has nothing to back him up except for many, many, many examples of his lying.

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Poll: Americans oppose House Trumpcare bill by three to one margin

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:33:31 +0000

As Senate Republicans release their draft Trumpcare bill—you know, the one that’s been the closest-guarded secret in Washington until now—a new poll confirms that the House bill it’s based on is wildly unpopular with the American public. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that just 16 percent of people think the House American Health Care Act is a good idea, while 48 percent think it’s a bad idea. The percent thinking it’s a bad idea held steady from May, while support dropped by seven points.

Opposition comes across the board:

Strikingly, even Republican respondents in the poll are lukewarm about the House bill, with only 34 percent viewing it positively (and 17 percent viewing it negatively).

By contrast, 73 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of independents view it negatively.

By another contrast, Obamacare garnered more support than opposition in its third straight NBC/WSJ poll of 2017, with 41 percent calling it a good idea and 38 percent a bad idea. 

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Three Republican senators will announce opposition to Trumpcare. They will be lying

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:18:01 +0000

Chuck Todd apparently fell off a turnip truck this morning. xPer solid source: at least 3 GOP sens (perhaps more) plan to announce public opposition to McConnell health bill later today. Developing— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) June 22, 2017 Maybe he didn't. Maybe he doesn't actually believe what his "solid source" is telling him, but is simply passing it on. Because this is a completely transparent ploy for anyone who's paid any attention to Mitch McConnell's kabuki. Like Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (CT): xDoesn't matter. Consider this prescripted political theater. Meaningless, tiny amendments ready to "win" then over. https://t.co/wt2twdrVv5— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 22, 2017 There was a long and heated exchange between Republican and Democratic leaders on the floor this morning in which Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn repeatedly said that what they released this morning is just the “discussion draft” and it will be amended. That’s just one clue that the fix is already in with the supposed “opposition” from three Senate Republicans. Here’s another: xTrump on the Senate health care bill-- says it's "going to be negotiated.""A little negotiation, but it's going to be very good."— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) June 22, 2017 These three senators—my guess is Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Rob Portman—will stake out their supposedly “principled” opposition, only for at least one of them to be “won over” by “concessions” by next week. Don’t let them—or any Republican—off the hook on this.  URGENT: Give your Republican senator a piece of your mind about Trumpcare. [...]