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Published: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 02:40:08 +0000

Last Build Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 02:40:08 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



Open thread for night owls: Shallow media transform net neutrality struggle into clash of brands

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 02:31:18 +0000

John O’Day at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting writes—Net Neutrality Reduced to Mogul vs. Mogul in Corporate Media’s Shallow Coverage:  A common refrain in popular news media is that net neutrality is just too boring and esoteric for ordinary people to be interested in. “Oh my god that is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen,” John Oliver (HBO, 6/1/14) once exclaimed after showing his audience a short clip from a government hearing on the subject. “That is even boring by C-SPAN standards.” Net neutrality is the principle that internet data should be transmitted without discrimination.  Absent net neutrality rules, internet service providers (ISPs) are free to act as gatekeepers, controlling which data users have access to and at what speed. Oliver proved himself wrong. His 2014 segment, which explained net neutrality and successfully implored the public to support the FCC’s proposed reclassification of ISPs as “common carriers” under the Telecommunications Act, so that they could be regulated as public utilities, has been viewed over 13 million times on YouTube. 3.7 million people sent comments to the FCC that year. Clearly, if net neutrality is framed in a context an audience can relate to, they are very interested and get involved; it is not so much a problem of boredom but of understanding the underlying importance, which Oliver illuminated. But he also made another important observation: “What’s being proposed is so egregious, activists and corporations have been forced on the same side.” As the new FCC under Trump-appointed chair Ajit Pai prepares to roll back the net neutrality rules put in place just two years ago, corporate media appear to have largely sidelined the activist perspective. Instead, they have presented the issue as a simple matter of which corporate brands consumers prefer. “Amazon, Google in last ditch protest to support Net Neutrality,” proclaimed USA Today (7/10/17). “Google, Amazon Plan Protest Against FCC Plans to Reverse Net Neutrality,” CNBC reported (7/17/17). “Tech Companies Rally on Net Neutrality Day of Action,” CBS (7/12/17) declared. CNN (7/12/17): “Tech Companies Go Big and Small for Net Neutrality Protest.” NBC (7/12/17): “Google and Facebook Join Net Neutrality Day to Protest FCC’s Proposed Rollback.” And on and on. To be sure, these companies contributed to the “Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality” organized by Fight for the Future, a nonprofit internet advocacy organization, but they were by no means the only participants. The ACLU, Free Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Library Association and the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation (to name just a few) all reaffirmed their noncommercial commitment to defend net neutrality. By characterizing the debate over net neutrality as a clash of corporate titans, the press not only alienates readers who don’t have the time to worry about squabbles in the business world, but also misconstrues what is at stake in the struggle for power over one of humankind’s most important inventions of the last millennium. [...] What’s coming up on Sunday Kos … The presumed ‘innocence’ of white terrorism, by Frank Vyan Walton Five questions for UNITE HERE president D. Taylor on how Democrats can replicate Nevada’s 2016 wins, by Kerry Eleveld Elizabeth Warren at Netroots Nation 2017: A clarion call for coalition politics, by Armando How to fight white supremacy: Charlottesville offers a blueprint, by Sher Watts Spooner Three Russian propaganda techniques being used by the Trump administration—and how to fight them, by David Akadjian We are missing the real story about Trump’s collusion with white nationalists, by Egberto Willies Affirmative action mythology, white resentment, and bogus cries of ‘reverse racism,’ by Denise Oliver Velez This is not about liberal and conservative, it is about being an America, by Mark E Andersen Trump’s willing supremacists, by Jon Perr On special elections, ‘moral[...]



Maine attraction: Northeastern state's closely divided statehouse a key 2018 battleground

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 18:34:53 +0000

Daily Kos Elections' project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation comes to Maine, where the GOP holds a one-seat majority in the state Senate, and Democrats have a small edge in the state House. You can find our master list of states here, which we'll be updating as we add new data sets; you can also find all of our calculations from 2016 and past cycles here. The Democrats controlled both the House and Senate from 2003 until the 2010 GOP wave, when Team Red flipped the governorship and the legislature. Democrats took back both chambers in 2012, but in 2014, LePage won a second term and Republicans once again took control of the Senate. Democrats maintained a small edge in the House in 2014, and they managed to keep it in 2016 even as Maine sharply lurched right, going from a decisive 56-41 statewide win for Obama to a tight 48-45 scrape for Clinton. Republicans currently hold an 18-17 majority in the Senate, while Democrats have a 75-71 edge in the House, where five additional members do not identify with either party. (The Maine House also has three additional non-voting members who each represent a local Native American tribe.) The entire Senate and House are up every two years. Legislators in both chambers are termed-out of office after serving four consecutive terms, but the clock resets once they’ve been out of office for one full term. LePage is termed out next year as well, so 2018 could bring a sea change in Maine politics in one direction or the other.  Until recently, Maine drew its state legislative seats on an unusual timetable, waiting a full election cycle after the Census to put new lines in place. As a result, the state’s current districts were only first put to use in 2014, rather than in 2012 as they would have been elsewhere. However, a 2011 voter-approved law adjusted the calendar to bring the timing in line with most of rest of the country. Accordingly, Maine will draw its new seats for 2022 in 2021 and every ten years after that. In 2013, both chambers overwhelmingly approved the current maps, and LePage signed them into law. Now, to the numbers. We'll start with a look at the Senate, where Clinton carried 18 of 35 seats. Five Republicans hold Clinton districts, while four Democrats represent Trump turf. Remarkably, Trump's second-best seat in the entire state, SD-02, is held by freshman Democrat Michael Carpenter; last year, Carpenter won this seat, which is dominated by Aroostook County in the northern part of the state, 52-48, even as SD-02 backed Trump 62-32. Democrat William Diamond, who has served off-and-on in the Senate for decades, also holds a very Trumpy seat. He won his second consecutive term 62-38 even as his Cumberland County district went for Trump 51-42. [...]



Nuts & Bolts: inside a Democratic campaign. Meetings and more meetings

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 01:01:10 +0000

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

Every week, I receive messages and questions about specific issues facing organizing efforts within the party as well as outside of the party. One of the most common messages I receive is that the local meetings they attend are either too frequent or too boring, and as a result, people are wondering what they can do to spice up their meeting efforts and make them successful.

Last year, we covered this same subject inside the party. We covered those efforts from the perspective of a candidate and how a campaign could participate in those meetings successfully. Instead of thinking about how a campaign should look at meetings, this week we’re going to talk about how to build the kind of meetings that help keep your people interested and coming back.

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This week in science: both siderism

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 00:01:08 +0000

It’s weeks like this that I’m glad my bailiwick focuses on science and technology. There’s plenty of both-siderism in science, or poly-siderism for that matter that’s a big part of science; it’s arguably the whole point. To offer up ideas for debate and experiment, regroup, reformulate, and repeat. But perhaps spineless politicians and furious pundits could learn something from how that scientific process unfolds and converges to a conclusion. There comes a point, after enough experiments have been conducted, when mountains of data have been collected, when enough flurries of findings have been published and explanations debated, that one side is found to be wanting and another side is found to be right. And what matters, what helps or hurts a researcher’s academic reputation, isn’t that there were two or more sides to start with, it’s which side they were on.

There is no question that there are at least two sides to many issues. That holds true whether it’s settled with a polite argument or a deadly shootout. There were certainly two sides to D-day, some of the grisly consequences to one side are shown above: the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. No doubt scores of German defenders in the dunes and pillboxes above the beaches raining death down on those allied troops knew they were fighting for their lives, many of them surely did not want to be there, few if any of those soldiers caused the conflict or authored the terrible Nazi atrocities that would soon be brought to light. But given that there were two sides, which side would you choose to be on?

Well, the data has been collected, the research debated, and European fascism lost the argument in every measurable way. The unanimous consensus is Nazism was one of closest things to pure, unadulterated evil the 20th century would ever see. A movement so wicked that that evil transfers over in whole to anyone who clings to it in any form, or excuses it, or conceals it, or downplays it, or defends it to this day.

Donald Trump made his choice, to the great delight of the most deplorable hate groups in the US and around the world. It remains to be seen which side his fellow Republicans choose.

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Eclipse 2017 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for grifters

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 23:01:15 +0000

Eclipses are such rare and spectacular sights that it’s no wonder ancient people might have thought the world was ending. You didn’t have to be a neolithic shaman to appreciate that the sun was the source of life and light and if it it appeared that something big in the sky was taking a big bite out of it, the end of the world might be at hand. Thanks to modern astronomy we know better and can predict the details of eclipses right down to the millisecond. But the ancient anxiety remains—and there are always those unscrupulous grifters happy to cash in:

“See, the day of the LORD is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it,” the Book of Isaiah says. “The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.” Begley’s YouTube channel links to a PayPal account to submit donations, as does his website. Begley’s site also advertises a live show called “The Coming Apocalypse,” which runs on World Harvest Television and its local stations around the country.

What’s surprising is that we’re not seeing a lot more of this. Eclipse 2017, which is happening on Monday, Aug. 21, will be a unique and memorable experience for millions of Americans. Today’s kids will recount their memories of it for decades to come. But it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for “end of the world” scammers to frighten some quick cash out of their nervous followers. And we’ve seen over and over again how gullible some people can be.
It’s important to remember that we’re in way more danger from shoddy eclipse glasses and legions of motorists looking up when barreling down the road through clogged highways and country roads than we are from supernatural beasts or wayward planets eating the sun.

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Spotlight on green news & views: Global warming spurs Canada fires; WSJ claims coal is returning

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 22:01:06 +0000

This is the 519th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the Aug. 5 Green Spotlight. More than 27,520 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it. OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES Cuyuna Country Mountain Bike Trail Overlook. This has to be an amazing view in the fall.  There are pines, hardwoods, aspen and birch.  The (living) sumac in the foreground will be red in a few weeks. 7th term is small writes—Off the Road, Onto a Trail. There's a First Time For Everything. (Photo heavy): “I ride my bike to work.  Occasionally I have been known take a ride on one of the many Minnesota bike trails built from converted rail beds.  I have never left the wide, relatively flat, debris-free road-shoulder and rail-trails to try mountain biking — at least until last Monday. Minnesota and mountain are not words that go together.  The highest point in the state (Eagle Mountain) is only 2301 feet above sea level.  And while the Sawtooth mountains on the Superior Hiking Trail deliver a memorably painful backpacking experience, they are not mountains like those I knew when I lived in Utah.  Even so, a search for ‘Minnesota mountain biking’ will certainly lead you to the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area which has ‘the best mountain biking in Minnesota.’ The Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area includes 4600 acres of land that was abandoned by mining companies several decades ago near Crosby and Ironton MN.  It includes  25 miles of mountain bike trails over 600 acres.  In the winter there are 20 miles of groomed fat tire trails.  The mines have closed but the land still serves the residents of Crow Wing County — now as a tourist destination.” Pakalolo writes—Canada's forests are being incinerated and the smoke is enveloping the Arctic's vulnerable ice: “ ‘If and when the plume drifts over populated areas, it may turn day into night. There’s that much aerosol in the air.”’Mike Fromm of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Over a hundred wildfires are active in the heavily forested Canadian province of British Columbia. The fires have spread to the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut provinces after a cold front pushed through the region with powerful winds according to NASA.  The fires have been caused by the abrupt warming of the planet from climate change. The endless conifer forests have been stressed from mountain pine beetles who thrive in a warming world when the winters are mild and their larva are not killed from the cold. This beetle is an epidemic. The infestation has brought down more than 16 million hectares of B.C. forest, and has begun destroying huge swaths of Alberta's boreal habitat. The stress on trees from drought and heat also are tied to global warming.” [...]



July 2017 sets global temperature record

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:31:07 +0000

July is a hot month in the northern hemisphere. It can be beaten sometimes by August, but hopefully that won’t happen this year. Because July 2017 wasn’t a warm July, it was the hottest month ever measured in the modern global temperature record. And if that’s not depressing enough, there’s more:

July 2017 has narrowly topped July 2016 as the hottest July on record, according to a shocking analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) released Tuesday. As a result, July 2017 is statistically tied with August 2016 (and July 2016) as the hottest month on record.

What’s so surprising here is that records for warmest month or year almost invariably occur when the underlying human-caused global warming trend gets a temporary boost from an El Niño’s enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific.

What that means for us civilians is the planet is warming up more than ever and the increase is squarely due to climate change forced by greenhouse gas emissions. That’s chiefly carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels, i.e., coal, oil, and natural gas. And we can’t even blame this one on the on-again, off-again, confluence of ocean currents and trade winds referred to as El Niño.

We are busy unleashing what author David Grinspoon calls planetary changes of the third kind in his remarkable book, Earth in Human Hands. Those are changes wrought, unintentionally, by global industry and individual human activity. The result is clear to see. Our planet is warming, Arctic ice is melting, wildfires are popping up in Greenland, great reefs are dying, and the oceans become more acidic every day.

Contrary to what some may believe, climate change does not, as yet, threaten the presence of life itself on Earth. The biosphere has survived much worse, life as a whole has proven to be persistent and opportunistic. But species are fragile, including H. sapiens. Climate change merely threatens the entire agricultural infrastructure underpinning all modern civilization, the vast global economic web connecting plants, oceans, animals, continents, and machines that feed, clothe, and house eight billion human beings and counting.

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Is anybody surprised the Kochs are up to their eyebrows in the Trump regime?

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:01:05 +0000

Come on now, Los Angeles Times—really with this headline? "They snubbed Trump. But the Koch network has still exerted a surprising influence over the White House." Is anybody actually surprised that the Koch brothers are using this Republican administration for all they can get out of it?

It started with the quick rollback of a dozen Obama-era environmental and labor regulations — a to-do list orchestrated by Koch-backed groups even before Trump was sworn into office.

By spring, the Koch-backed Concerned Veterans for America was instrumental in passage of the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, a long-fought Koch effort to make it easier to fire employees at the beleaguered Veterans Affairs department, providing a blueprint for how to make an end-run around civil service protections that could be replicated across other federal departments.

In July, the Kochs celebrated the official demise of the border-adjustment tax, a tax-reform proposal backed by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan that was bitterly opposed by many business groups, including the brothers. GOP congressional leaders and the White House announced that idea would not be part of the upcoming tax-reform package.

They snubbed Trump because they didn't think he would win. There were no principled objections to him during the campaign, and since he’s been in office, they've been more than happy to provide the infrastructure for his tainted regime. "The vacuum in Trump not having his own network," says Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the UC Irvine law school and campaign finance expert, "is filled by people who've been cultivated for years by the Koch network." Which is nearly everyone in all the think tanks and most of the Republican establishment by now.

Whether they—and following their lead, the rest of the GOP—stick with Trump will depend on whether all the trouble he’s bringing down on himself and the rest of the party keeps them from getting their tax cuts or having the deregulatory agenda fully implemented. Until proven otherwise, Trump is their useful tool. No surprise there.

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There are now 4 magazine covers that show who Trump is. Choose which you like most, and answer poll

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 17:45:38 +0000

[Promoted by Meteor Blades]

There are now 4 magazine covers, that show who Trump is, you are invited to choose the cover that you like most, with Poll

Here is the first cover 

The true face of Donald Trump !

x

Here are the 3 others 

Here you can decide what cover you like most !

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The week at progressive state blogs: David Duke emerges; stifling dissent; bothsiderism everywhere

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:01:16 +0000

This week at progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Here is the August 12 edition. Inclusion of a blog post does not necessarily indicate my agreement with—or endorsement of—its contents.

At Eclectablog of Michigan, Chris Savage writes—My County Dem Party asked our GOP counterparts to join us in condemning Nazis & Ku Klux Klanners. Answer: CRICKETS:

As you may know, I am the Chair of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party in Michigan. We’re in a liberal bubble where the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University are. Yesterday, following Donald Trump’s egregious “Both Sides” defense of fascists, our Executive Board composed a press release and then reached out to our Republican counterparts in the Washtenaw County Republican Party asking them to join us in a joint statement.

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Admittedly, we weren’t optimistic that they would respond. If you go to their website, they feature multiple photos of our booth at the recent Ann Arbor Art Fair, degrading our members and generally taking snide potshots at us.

Still, enough Republicans are coming out against the white supremacists in Charlottesville and Resident Trump’s offensive “both sides” comments that we thought we’d give them a chance to do the right thing. So, I wrote up the press release, included their contact info and logo, and sent it off to them to add their own statement and to make suggested edits.

Our response: CRICKETS

Not even the courtesy of a “fuck you”.

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Boston 'free speech' ralliers quit an hour early after thousands of counter-protesters greet them

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:36:06 +0000

With some estimates of their numbers as high as 20,000, counter-protesters in Boston today peacefully opposed a smaller-than-expected rally proclaimed by its organizers as support for “free speech,” not white supremacy. At most, only a few hundred participants showed up for that. In a few instances, counter-protesters guided ralliers past the crowds of anti-racist, anti-fascist compatriots up to the bandstand in hopes of preventing violence. That didn’t keep the ralliers from being barraged with catcalls and other verbal ridicule. There were no reports of major incidents of violence. CNN reported at least eight arrests. So far, no details on that.

An organizer of the rally said it wasn’t meant to be a white supremacist gathering, but one favoring free speech. But he admitted that Nazis and other white supremacists were attracted to it. It seems likely that others who might have showed up decided they would be better off staying home given the expected turnout of their foes at the rally. One of those foes was interviewed by the Boston Globe:

“I think it’s very important that we stand up to the racists in this country,” said Debbie Larsen, who traveled from Rhode Island and was waiting at the Common to join the counter-protesters. “You can’t sit idly by and watch this. I want to see a big force of unity standing shoulder to shoulder against these people, to let them know they’re the minority, to show most Americans don’t feel the same way that they do.”

x

[jp massar also has a post on the rally.]

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View from the Left: The 'pivot' came and it rendered Trump wildly unfit to be president

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:01:13 +0000

We had been promised a "pivot" from Donald Trump for at least a year now, certainly ever since he clinched the GOP nomination last summer. This week it finally came when Trump used the bully pulpit of the presidency to offer a full-throated defense of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. After stewing for days over criticism of his total void in leadership following the Charlottesville violence, Trump went to a press conference on “infrastructure” loaded for bear and got exactly what he was looking for as his voiced boomed through the marble halls of Trump Tower. Sparring with reporters, he blamed "both sides" for the violence, quite literally equated the counter-protesters to the alt-right by tagging them the "alt-left," claimed there were some “very fine people" among the club-wielding white supremacists and neo-Nazis, parroted alt-right talking points on the slippery slope of Confederate statue removals, and later lauded the "beautiful statues and monuments" celebrating the Confederate's fight for human enslavement. White supremacists were giddy. Former KKK leader David Duke thanked Trump for his "honesty and courage," while founder of the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer bragged that Trump was emulating their extremist messaging. Trump "uses our talking points—that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are next after the Confederate monuments and that they're trying to destroy our history." This was the pivot—Trump finally rid himself of any remnant reverie that he would at some intangible moment in time turn toward an embrace of his better angels. Trump’s intemperate defense of murderous ideologies left no doubt that any lingering hints of grace have long since left his being. That became undeniable at Trump Tower as he took up the cause of a pure and known evil that, both here and abroad, has taken millions of innocent lives in the name of supremacy. Moments after Trump finished ripping away the veil, news anchors and journalists were visibly stunned by what they had just witnessed—mirroring what almost everybody at home felt too. Even if we knew—even if we had always believed this was the real Donald Trump, watching the pr*sident drive a stake through the very heart of our nation in defense of sheer depravity was still a jarring moment. On MSNBC, Chuck Todd understandably declared himself "a bit shaken" by the scene. Equally as understandably, longtime Democratic strategist Paul Begala wondered why. On twitter, he responded, "Was he not paying attn when Mr. Trump pushed birther lie, smeared Mexicans, attacked Hisp. fed judge, called for crowds to beat protestors?" But it was Todd's reply that seemed to epitomize one of journalism’s biggest failings during the 2016 election. [...]



The sweet lull of white supremacy, or why white people hate to be called white

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 08:54:58 +0000

I recently led a racial equity training for progressives where it became clear that people of color needed a separate space to freely discuss racial disparities within the organization and create action steps to combat institutional bias. I split up the group so I could work with the POC and my white co-trainer could work with the white people to understand the concerns raised and identify their next steps to foster equity. 

We came back together and I asked each group to share their next steps. Each time I said “white” anxiety filled the room. These white progressives struggled with being named as white. When I said “What did the white caucus discuss?” or my co-trainer said “We as white people...”, they were visibly uncomfortable. 

In my experience, white people seem unaccustomed to being racialized. Simply naming their race causes many to squirm or get defensive. In fact, I’m amazed at how often I’ve seen white people respond to the word “white” as though it were a slur, and not just a descriptor. 

I asked my friend Susan Raffo, a Twin Cities healer and anti-racist activist who was raised white, why so many progressive white people balk at being called white. She shared this with me. The words from here on out are hers.

You think it’s not a big deal. You’re talking pragmatically about something, not even a lot of emotion when you speak. You’re even saying what feels like the most obvious inconsequential thing, “well, you’re white…” and it stops there. Because you can feel it. That rise in the other person’s body temperature, that gathering storm, and then, depending on the gender, class, age, culture and night before sleep of the other person, you either get shock, rage, defensiveness, woundedness, or that deadly super-charged stillness as the blood drains from their very light face.

White people on the left often hate to be called white. Much of the time, progressive or liberal white people experience this naming as a direct attack, something to get away from, fight back against, or something they just can’t handle, all jittery and anxious, trying to DO something and just making it worse. Sometimes they stand there, bodies all braced and waiting for the moment to pass.  And sometimes they completely disappear, ghosts in front of your eyes. This discomfort—even hatred—only increases in times like these, where white nationalism is hyper visible.

From the moment that egg and sperm meet, each of us is becoming a specific kind of person based upon where we live, the cultures we are raised in, and our experiences. This is our conditioning. Those raised to be white are conditioned from birth to accept the glaring contradiction between everything they are taught about love and how to treat people, and treating or witnessing people of color be treated as exceptions to these rules. White people are taught, indirectly through experience and directly through words, that this contradiction is normal, justifying their comfort, even as others suffer. This is what I mean by whiteness. I don’t mean culture. Whiteness is not culture. Whiteness is absence.

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Heard of rape insurance? Texas Republicans just made sure women will have to buy it for abortions

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:31:54 +0000

With all that’s happening right now and considering that the Republicans have one of the most embarrassing, inept presidents to ever step foot in the White House—you’d think they’d be busy doing damage control and saving what’s left of their party. Not so in Texas. Instead of doing anything remotely productive, Republican lawmakers are busy engaging in their favorite pastime, taking away women’s access to abortion and reproductive care. This week, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 214 into law, which bans insurance coverage for abortion—with no exceptions at all. 

Nicknamed the "rape insurance" bill for its cruel lack of exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities, HB 214 mandates abortion coverage be removed from all private, state-offered, and Affordable Care Act insurance plans and sold as a separate — and unprecedentedly specific — policy. What this means in theory is that people who want to be covered in the event that they need an abortion will have to purchase extra insurance for it. In practice, it means insurance companies may simply stop covering the procedure altogether, the profitability of an "abortion-only" add-on being questionable at best.

Where do we even begin in understanding how ridiculous and cruel this is? First, it assumes that women would have the money to pay for this extra insurance coverage and also assumes that insurance companies will cover abortions under separate plans. But really, this is about the religious zealots who care not a bit for women’s health and well-being but instead about saving unborn babies. They say they don’t want to be forced to pay for abortions that they disagree with for religious reasons. But the truth is that they don’t want to pay for the babies that women will be forced to have as a result of taking away access to abortions and reproductive health care, either. 

As with many such laws, the state GOP's stated purpose is to "prevent those with moral, religious and philosophical objections from having to pay for the procedure." "As a firm believer in Texas values I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child," said Governor Abbott in a press release. "Under this new law Texans will not be forced to pay for elective abortions through their insurance plans."

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Obamacare still isn't collapsing

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 16:01:20 +0000

The major concern for the 2018 enrollment period in the Affordable Care Act (now that it's clear that a Republican House, Senate, and White House cannot unite to repeal it) has been the problem of the uncertainty Republicans created which led to lots of insurers deciding to pull out of the markets. That was potentially leaving dozens of counties around the country "bare," with no insurer in the marketplace. That's been almost entirely resolved now, with other insurers stepping up to fill the void in all but two counties.

On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada announced that Centene would offer insurance in 14 rural counties of Nevada that had been bare. That leaves only two counties in the country without insurers saying they will sell coverage; fewer than 400 Obamacare customers live in those counties.

The bare county problem had been a sort of unplanned policy hole in Obamacare, which depends on private companies to provide insurance to people who don’t get coverage through a government program or work. The federal government provides subsidies on a sliding scale to help middle-income Americans pay their premiums, but it doesn’t do anything to force insurers to offer coverage if they don’t want to. For a while, it seemed there would be a smattering of mostly rural places in the country where no company saw a reason to participate in 2018. […]

Mr. Trump, who has been pointing to Obamacare’s weaknesses in attempts to marshal support for a health care overhaul, began seizing on the bare counties, frequently noting that Obamacare was set to “implode.” Republicans in Congress also often made note of the bare spots. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs the marketplaces, has been periodically updating a map of insurer moves, marking potential bare counties in red.

But then, just as some insurers exited Obamacare markets, others began entering to fill the holes left behind. Centene, a company that has sold Medicaid managed care plans to states, has been a big player in the reversal. It alone has filled more than half of all identified bare counties, part of a big bet on Obamacare.

It's a bet that has continued to pay remarkably considering how many times and how close the law has come to destruction. With repeal continuing to fade into the background, the question is whether the law—and insurance for millions of people—will exist under the malignancy that is the Trump regime.

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EPA report: 20% of the nation has been exposed to potentially unsafe drinking water in past decade

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:54:43 +0000

A team of young reporters from News21 has added flesh to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency that concluded 63 million people in the United States have been exposed to potentially contaminated drinking water over the past 10 years. No surprise that large numbers of the 680,000 violations of safe drinking water rules were discovered in economically poor places populated mostly by people of color. Naturally, babies and immunity-challenged individuals are most at risk:

The findings highlight how six decades of industrial dumping, farming pollution, and water plant and distribution pipe deterioration have taken a toll on local water systems. Those found to have problems cleaning their water typically took more than two years to fix these issues, with some only recently resolving decades-old violations of EPA standards and others still delivering tainted water, according to data from the agency’s Safe Drinking Water Information System.

Many local water treatment plants, especially those in small, poor and minority communities, can’t afford the equipment necessary to filter out contaminants. Those can include arsenic found naturally in rock, chemicals from factories and nitrates and fecal matter from farming. In addition, much of the country’s aging distribution pipes delivering the water to millions of people are susceptible to lead contamination, leaks, breaks and bacterial growth. [...]

“We’re in this really stupid situation where, because of neglect of the infrastructure, we’re spending our scarce resources on putting our fingers in the dike, if you will, taking care of these emergencies, but we’re not doing anything to think about the future in terms of what we should be doing,” said Jeffrey Griffiths, a former member of the Drinking Water Committee at the EPA’s Science Advisory Board.

The good news is that nearly 90 percent of the nation’s community drinking water systems do meet all 90 of the EPA’s drinking water rules. Small comfort to those who live elsewhere. Those systems that fail to meet the standards distribute water to tens of millions of people. A majority of them are people of color and low income. The cost to bring all drinking water systems in the nation up to snuff? It will be $384 billion, according to the EPA. Or a bit more than a half-year’s worth of Pentagon spending.

Two major issues: Millions of miles of underground lead pipes and some systems are more than a century old. In West Virginia, there are places where water systems date to the Civil War era.

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Donald Trump's policies will mean more workers dead on the job

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:11:56 +0000

Donald Trump’s rollbacks of worker protections could cost lives. Kathleen Rest, executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and former acting director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and David Michaels, a public health professor and former assistant secretary of labor, leave no room for doubt on that front. People die from workplace injuries and work-related diseases every day:

People like 25-year-old Donovan Weber who suffocated in a trench collapse in Minnesota. Or Michael McCort, Christopher Irvin, Antonio Navarrete and Frank Lee Jones who were killed at a power plant in Florida when molten slag reaching 1,000 degrees poured down on them as they tried to unplug a tank. Or Wanda Holbrook, whose head was crushed by a malfunctioning robot as she adjusted machinery in Michigan.

Each day in the United States, 13 people are killed as a direct result of hazardous working conditions. And, more than 10 times that number die of work-related diseases that are less sudden but no less devastating. 

And Trump’s policies are going to make that worse:

Since January, we’ve seen delays and rollbacks in workplace protections. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed weakening protections for workers exposed to cancer-causing beryllium and delayed enforcement of its silica rule, increasing the likely incidence of lung disease. It has delayed the electronic submission of injury and illness data and stopped releasing public information about enforcement actions, inhibiting public and researchers’ access to data that can inform prevention.

And Congress has permanently terminated OSHA’s ability to fine employers with a long-standing pattern of injury and illness record-keeping violations, a previously important signal to others in the industry.

Equally worrisome are proposed budget cuts for research, education and training designed to improve the health and safety of our nation’s workplaces — research that enhances knowledge on existing and future hazards; that underpins government policies and workplace practices; and that spurs innovations in workplace safety.

But Trump claims those rollbacks are going to be good for corporate profits, and that’s what he cares about. Certainly not workers’ lives.

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Hate groups are on the rise as Trump has 'electrified the radical right'

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 14:01:08 +0000

If you are wondering how close you are to any one of America's 900+ known hate groups, you should know that the Southern Poverty Law Center keeps a comprehensive map. If you have gotten the impression that there are considerably more of them than there once were, you are right.

The SPLC has documented an explosive rise in the number of hate groups since the turn of the century, driven in part by anger over Latino immigration and demographic projections showing that whites will no longer hold majority status in the country by around 2040. The rise accelerated in 2009, the year President Obama took office, but declined after that, in part because large numbers of extremists were moving to the web and away from on-the-ground activities. In the last two years, in part due to a presidential campaign that flirted heavily with extremist ideas, the hate group count has risen again.

There have been more than 100 new hate groups to make the SPLC lists since the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign. SPLC notes In a report last February, SPLC noted that "Trump’s run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white man’s country."

You can view the map of individual hate groups here. A breakdown of those groups by ideology is here.

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Voting Rights Roundup: Court strikes down Texas GOP's congressional map, but doesn't go far enough

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:14:44 +0000

Leading Off ● Texas: Late on Tuesday, as Donald Trump was busy defending white supremacists, a federal court in San Antonio struck down Texas’s congressional map on the grounds that the Republican lawmakers who drew it had engaged in intentional racial discrimination in violation of both the Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment. The court ordered lawmakers to swiftly lay out their plans to redraw the map, which is shown at the top of this post (click here for a larger version). The new districts will take effect for the 2018 midterm elections if this ruling survives a likely appeal to the Supreme Court. If the high court ultimately sustains this ruling, Democrats and Latinos could gain one congressional seat, but that’s a major disappointment compared to the two or even three seats that plaintiffs had hoped for.​ Campaign Action ​Specifically, the court invalidated Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold’s 27th District, which is based in Corpus Christi and branches northwest toward Austin and northeast toward the Houston area, and Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s 35th District, which connects San Antonio and Austin via a narrow tendril. Regarding the 27th, the judges ruled that removing Corpus Christi’s Nueces County from a Latino-majority district during redistricting in 2011 had deprived Latino voters there of the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice (most likely a Latino Democrat). Meanwhile, the court held that the narrowly Latino-majority 35th District was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander whose configuration did not satisfy any compelling government interest. Indeed, said the judges, the district merely functioned to pack in Democratic voters to make the surrounding seats safe for white Republicans. What’s more, it was not even capable of consistently electing the preferred candidate of Latino voters since white Democrats from Austin have always had considerably higher turnout rates in Democratic primaries. Unfortunately, the court did not strike down Republican Rep. Will Hurd’s 23rd District, a huge beast that stretches from El Paso to San Antonio, something that multiple redistricting experts had expected to happen. Republicans intentionally diluted Latino voting strength in this district by adding low-turnout Latino populations and high-turnout white voters, giving the district a nominal Latino-majority population while ensuring that the actual electorate was majority-white. The fact that the court has left this district untouched is a major blow to Democratic hopes, but the swingy seat may nonetheless be winnable if 2018 turns out to be a good year for Democrats. In addition, the court declined to strike down any districts in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area even though plaintiffs—and an analysis by Daily Kos Elections—have repeatedly demonstrated that Republicans could have easily drawn another district in the region that would allow Latinos to elect their candidate of choice. While such an outcome was less likely than the prospect of the court ordering changes to the 23rd, its failure to materialize is nonetheless another disappointing aspect of this ruling. [...]



Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: The Trump backlash continues, with or without Steve Bannon

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 11:31:13 +0000

This is how we should respond to white nationalism rallies, like the one today in Boston. It’s called “Right against the Right” and was conceived by the Germans.

NY Times:

How to Make Fun of Nazis

The campaign, called Rechts Gegen Rechts — the Right Against the Right — turned the march into Germany’s “most involuntary walkathon.” For every meter the neo-Nazis marched, local residents and businesses pledged to donate 10 euros (then equivalent to about $12.50) to a program that helps people leave right-wing extremist groups, called EXIT Deutschland.

They turned the march into a mock sporting event. Someone stenciled onto the street “start,” a halfway mark and a finish line, as if it were a race. Colorful signs with silly slogans festooned the route. “If only the Führer knew!” read one. “Mein Mampf!” (my munch) read another that hung over a table of bananas. A sign at the end of the route thanked the marchers for their contribution to the anti-Nazi cause — €10,000 (close to $12,000). And someone showered the marchers with rainbow confetti at the finish line.

The approach has spread to several other German towns and one in Sweden (where it was billed as Nazis Against Nazis).

We can do it here. Meter by meter, or timed for speeches. Who wants to be the one to track the time, raise the money and donate to ADL and SPLC, on behalf of Richard Spencer, or whoever talks the longest?

x
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Open thread for night owls: A short pause in our regularly scheduled program

Sat, 19 Aug 2017 03:01:03 +0000

It’s TGIF after a very tough week for many of us, emotionally and otherwise. Anybody who thought armed guys marching around with Nazi, Rebel and other flags of hatred would be content with merely exercising their free speech on the public commons discovered otherwise. The resistance is targeted. There will be more victims. But as we know too well, it’s not just Nazis who promote, condone and benefit from white supremacy. Defeating them will take a lot more than getting that man squatting in the White House back into the private sector or a high security cell-block.  However, we all need a break. So here’s a brief respite, a window into something you probably wish you were outdoors doing: x YouTube Video • An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events • Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES QUOTATION "What is a fish without a river? What is a bird without a tree to nest in? What is an Endangered Species Act without any enforcement mechanism to ensure their habitat is protected? It is nothing. This is not a modernization of the Act. This is a euthanization of the Act."                                             ~Jay Inslee, on a bill updating the ESA (September 29, 2005) TWEET OF THE DAY xAlex Jones is losing his mind. pic.twitter.com/UorRXjzUSD— jordan 🌹🌹 (@JordanUhl) August 18, 2017 His mind was lost a long time ago. But his fat bank account nonetheless remains intact. BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily Kos on this date in 2004—Nebraska GOoPer abandons Bush on war: The outgoing congressman of Nebraska's 1st CD, Republican Doug Bereuter, is apologizing to constituents for his war vote. In a dramatic departure from the Bush administration, Republican Rep. Doug Bereuter says he now believes the U.S. military assault on Iraq was unjustified. "I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action," Bereuter wrote in a letter to constituents in the final days of his congressional career "Knowing now what I know about the reliance on the tenuous or insufficiently corroborated intelligence used to conclude that Saddam maintained a substantial WMD (weapons of mass destruction) arsenal, I believe that launching the pre-emptive military action was not justified." On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Ivanka’s got nothing. What’s up with these Civil War statues? History, or idolatry? Or worse? Robert E. Lee actually sucked. Trump’s tiny hands were never clean on Civil War history. The walls close in on the White House. Perhaps a parting shot at Bannon? x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash [...]



Rice University: 'DREAMers at greater risk for mental health distress'

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 20:02:13 +0000

According to researchers from Rice University, anti-immigrant policies have left undocumented youth “at risk for psychological distress and diminished quality of life as a result of the many complex stressors they face.” It’s no surprise—since the launch of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to undo Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that protects some 800,000 immigrant youth from deportation and allows them to work legally. The program remains in place since his inauguration, but threats from anti-immigrant Republican leaders leave its future in peril. This has contributed to immigrant youth fearing they’ll lose so much they’ve earned in the five years since DACA’s implementation:  To study the prevalence of mental health distress among Mexican immigrants living illegally in high-risk areas (places that have strong opposition and punitive actions against immigrants living here illegally), the researchers surveyed nearly 260 people. To be eligible for the survey, the participants had to confirm that they were residing in the U.S. without proper documentation. Among participants, respondents aged 18-25 were the most likely to exhibit psychological distress (63 percent). Also, more than 90 percent of all respondents cited the loss of their home, social status, family and symbolic self as reasons for mental health distress. Luz Garcini, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychology in Rice’s School of Social Sciences and the study’s lead author, said that DREAMers in particular are at risk for psychological distress and diminished quality of life as a result of the many complex stressors they face. They often experience these stressors over an extended period, under harsh living conditions and without access to adequate mental health services. “DREAMers are often marginalized and discriminated against, and as a result they may become isolated from the larger educational and work communities,” Garcini said. “Many also experience separation from deported family members, and they do not have the option of traveling internationally to visit them. Finally, they live in constant fear of deportation and experience a sense of voicelessness, invisibility and limited opportunities, due to their conflicting undocumented status.” We know immigrant youth are resilient in fighting for immigrant families—just recently, they rallied in cities across the nation in defense of DACA—but to tear young people who are American in every single way but on a piece of paper from their home is cruel, senseless, and a stain on us. But, there is something we can do about it. According to polling, 78 percent of American voters support giving immigrant youth legal status. Legislation that would do just that sits in both houses of Congress. Call your legislators and ask them to support the DREAM Act, and then text HereToStay to United We Dream at 877877 to stand with immigrant youth. [...]



Top Democrats demand briefing on Trump administration plans for 2018 Obamacare enrollment

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:45:25 +0000

Open enrollment for 2018 in Obamacare starts November 1, and thus far the Trump administration has shown not just a lack of interest in making an effort to make it successful, but every intention of doing what they can to make it fail. The top Democrats on the committee overseeing health care are fighting back to the extent that they can, demanding that administration officials answer concerns about their sabotage officially in a briefing.

In a letter sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, the lawmakers expressed concerns over what they see as the White House’s efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces.

"Rather than encouraging enrollment in the Marketplaces, the Administration appears intent on depressing it, which we fear will contribute to destabilizing insurance markets and drive up costs for consumers," the lawmakers wrote. […]

By Aug. 31, the lawmakers would like a briefing with HHS on a variety of matters related to open enrollment, such as the administration’s outreach and enrollment strategy, if it plans to operate call centers, when the administration will award certain grants and more.

The letter was sent by Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ), of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Richard Neal (MA), of the House Ways and Means Committee; and Sens. Patty Murray (WA), of the Senate Health Committee, Ron Wyden (OR), of the Senate Finance Committee, and Bob Casey (PA), of the Senate Aging Committee. The greatest point of leverage here is the Senate Health Committee, where Murray and Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have already announced hearings to figure out how to stabilize the ACA's markets. Democrats could put enough pressure—and possibly shame—on their Republican counterparts to make the administration answer.

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Women's health, patients' rights, and Planned Parenthood funding may be headed to the Supreme Court

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:02:39 +0000

Wednesday federal court ruling against Planned Parenthood has been subsumed by all things Trump this week, but it needs to be highlighted again. In a radical departure from court precedent, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Arkansas could prevent Medicaid enrollees from getting health care at Planned Parenthood clinics. This is in conflict with the federal Medicaid statute as well as every other federal court's ruling, and that's where it's dangerous writes Mother Jones' Hannah Levintov. “This is a surprising decision,” says Mara Gandal-Powers, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. “This is not where the other circuits have come out on this issue, and it’s certainly not what the Medicaid law intends or says.” The court’s ruling deviates from decisions made in every other case where state efforts to cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood have been brought before a federal court, including decisions issued by the 5th, 7th, and 9th circuits as well as numerous district courts. All have ruled against state’s efforts to withhold Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood. “The 8th Circuit is out there on this,” Gandal-Powers says. […] “The 5th Circuit is not necessarily a friend to women or Planned Parenthood,” Gandal-Powers, says. “But even they ruled in the opposite way from the 8th Circuit” in September 2016, when the 5th Circuit unanimously blocked an attempt by Louisiana to terminate the state’s Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood. The court ruled that the patients who had brought the lawsuit “would otherwise be denied…the legal right to the qualified provider of their choice.” The ruling undermines individual rights, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood. Federal Medicaid statue is completely unambiguous on the right of Medicaid recipients to see the qualified provider of their choice making this decision really radical and completely divergent. Which seems to be the point. Wednesday's decision created a circuit split—a division between the federal circuit courts raising a a statutory conflict that the U.S. Supreme Court might want to resolve. In fact, it seems that that might just be the point for the judges on the 8th circuit—forcing this to go the Supreme Court. Planned Parenthood clinics in Fayetteville and Little Rock will continue to see Medicaid patients, until Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson actually implements the ruling by yanking funds. They are considering their legal path forward in contesting the decision. No mistake, though, this is just what Republicans have been hoping for—another avenue of attack on women's reproductive health and rights advancing to the Supreme Court. It's why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led the obstruction of as many of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees as he could. It's why he conducted the unprecedented blockade against Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. It's why he ended the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees for Trump's pick, Neil Gorsuch. This is the long game they are playing. It's why they will be sticking with Trump to the bitter end. [...]



Female broadcasters speak out about how they are forced to dress sexy for attention and ratings

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 22:27:16 +0000

Being a woman in the workplace is not easy—especially in career fields dominated by men. Aside from a very real pay gap in terms of how women’s labor is compensated in comparison to men’s, women are also often subjected to sexism and harassment at work. Women in the television industry are also very likely to experience this kind of behavior—especially given the heavy emphasis on looks and overall appearance. From the words of current and former broadcasters in Boston, they are generally asked by management to dress sexier in order to get attention.

Current and former female broadcasters in Boston tell stories about wardrobe consultants hired by station management pushing clothing that some on-air talent don’t want to wear; women crying in the makeup room because they feel pressured to dress a certain way; a modestly dressed anchor being asked to dress like a sexier new colleague who wore her skirts short and her tops unbuttoned.

No woman was willing to go on the record with their experiences—which gives insight into how difficult careers in broadcast journalism can be for women and the type of backlash they face when they speak out. But their experiences are deeply degrading and a reminder that we have so much more work to do when it comes to gender equality.

One former local on-air personality told the Globe she was once called into her news director’s office and told the blazer she had worn the day before wasn’t shapely enough. “He said it was ‘too boxy,’ ” she said. [...]

One broadcaster in Boston, who spoke to the Globe on the condition of anonymity for fear of damaging her career, said management at her station has told women to wear “tighter, smaller, shorter, more revealing clothes.”

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Local police say Texas's 'show me your papers' law 'has already created damage'

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:22:17 +0000

Despite the fact that Texas’s racist “show me your papers” law isn’t scheduled to go into effect for another two weeks, local law enforcement say that the legislation—which turns local law enforcement into federal immigration agents by allowing them to ask the legal status of anyone they stop for any reason—has already created damage” between Latino and immigrant communities and police in the state:

Many police officers worry that the law, known as Senate Bill 4, will break down trust among immigrant families, making them fearful about reporting crime — even when a family member is a victim.

“It has already hurt our trust,” said Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye. “We already have a lot of fear out there because of Senate Bill 4. It has already created damage.”

Texas is already facing a lawsuit over the bill’s constitutionality from Houston, Austin, San Antonio and other localities, but in a state where nearly 40 percent of the population is Latino, residents are already living in a climate of fear.

[Dallas Police Sergeant Robert] Munoz said it’s frustrating when he hears that someone’s comadre, a good friend, says there’s a “round-up” at some intersection — and there isn’t.

The fear is that under the new law, any officer in a uniform can break down confidence and scare people away from calling the local police when there is a real problem, police officers say.

“We are just not going to stop anybody based on their skin or their color,” Munoz said. “Then we are falling into what? That racial profiling. We don’t need that. We have to have reasonable belief and probable cause.”

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Demonstrations of white supremacy are shocking for some but not for blacks in Charlottesville

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:44:25 +0000

One of the very frustrating things about what happened in Charlottesville is that we are just now having widespread conversations about white supremacy. Of course, it’s a great thing for us as a country to be talking about it. And it’s long overdue. But these conversations are occurring in the context of a very overt demonstration of white supremacy in which a white woman was killed. These kind of large-scale, visible examples of white supremacy are not the norm—but they’ve always been with us. Contrary to the belief of some, white supremacy is not new nor did it arise because of Trump. Just because white people are finally now paying attention due to the fact that it is now literally in our faces, doesn’t mean that black people and people of color haven’t been living with it for generations. That includes the black population in Charlottesville, who are not at all surprised at what’s occurring.  Black Charlottesville has dealt with racism, has been born and raised under statues of Lee and Jefferson, and has fought the Klan. And it has lived with—and lives with—white supremacy. “It scared people that didn’t expect it,” [Dedric Cooke, a black Charlottesville resident] said. “I was raised by somebody who came through the civil-rights movement and saw the Klan firsthand. I didn’t think I would see it, but I knew people were capable of it. It’s not acceptable for blacks or Hispanics to act that way, but people accept this kind of stuff, because they’re doing it in the name of heritage or white supremacy.” Virginia is still a state located in the American South. It may not be Alabama, Georgia or Mississippi but it is equally steeped in the history of slavery, segregation and racial inequality that is associated with the Deep South. Black people living in Charlottesville have experienced klan rallies, intimidation and systematic marginalization dating back to the 1900s.  In the 1950s, during and after the 1954 Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision, Charlottesville was a hotbed for “massive resistance” campaigns by white citizens against integration, which inevitably attracted the attention of white-supremacist leaders. [...] In the summer of 1956, Washington, D.C., White Citizens’ Council and Ku Klux Klan leader Frederick John Kasper, along with Alabama Klan leader Asa Carter—who later co-wrote Alabama Governor George Wallace’s infamous 1963 “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” line—led rallies of white supremacists in McIntire Park. The whites-only park was named after benefactor Paul Goodloe McIntire, who also donated the park and the Lee statue at the center of last weekend’s violence. [..] Eventually white people simply closed all of the schools in Charlottesville instead of suffering integration, and created their own private school system. One of those schools was named after Robert E. Lee. [...]



A lonely Joe Arpaio says he'd be 'honored' if Trump pardoned him for his crimes

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:20:12 +0000

The Crooked Joe Arpaio, abandoned by his once loyal political allies following his re-election defeat and subsequent conviction for criminal contempt of court for disobeying a federal judge’s order to stop racial profiling brown and immigrant Maricopa County drivers, says he’d be “honored” if Donald Trump pardoned him for his crimes.  "It makes me feel good that at least someone is backing me up. And how much better can you get than president of the United States?" Arpaio said. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, released a statement Wednesday urging Trump to reconsider holding Tuesday's rally. He said if Trump was coming to Phoenix to pardon Arpaio, "then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation." Arpaio, now 85 years old, believes he and the president have both been unfairly smeared as racists. He predicts Trump will end up being regarded as the greatest president in American history, "We need him and I feel sad how they're trying to destroy him. It makes me sick. I'll tell you one thing he's got guts and courage and that's what this country needs." "As far as the situation on a pardon, I didn't ask for it but I will accept it if he does do it," Arpaio said. "This president understands what I've been going through.” You mean making life as hellish as possible for brown people and immigrants? He sure does know all about that, Joe. A very lonely Arpaio also told NPR that while he hasn’t yet been invited to Trump’s upcoming Phoenix rally, he’s just happy someone, anyone, is standing next to him following his fall from office, one that has cost Maricopa County taxpayers nearly $70 million in legal fees. “You don't see anybody next to me and I've endorsed so many people,” he moaned.  “It is a profound assault on our democracy for Donald Trump to grant, or even consider granting former Sheriff Arpaio a presidential pardon,” said Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, one of three House Democrats to write a letter urging Trump to not pardon Arpaio. “For Donald Trump to grant him leniency gives racist, hatred-filled, and extremist individuals and groups an unequivocal endorsement in continuing with their dangerous practices.” [...]



Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Resistance FRIDAY!

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:30:22 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE

Late Night Snark: Nazis Go Home Edition

"Let's start off with some good news: Donald Trump did not have a press conference today."

---James Corden

"It was truly a weekend of horrifying images. We saw Nazi flags and marchers carrying torches---tiki torches, by the way, because nothing says 'white nationalist' like faux-Polynesian kitsch. ... I have to say, David Duke and the Nazis really seem to like Donald Trump. Which is weird because Nazis are a lot like cats: if they like you, it's probably because you're feeding them."

---John Oliver

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BillyFact rates this New Yorker cover: TRUE.

"The mayor of Charlottesville called the rally a 'cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.' Which, coincidentally, was also the theme of Steve Bannon's senior prom."

---Stephen Colbert

Clip of Trump: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.

Seth Meyers: On many sides??? If that choice of words made you feel sick to your stomach, the good news is you’re a normal and decent person.

---Late Night

"He can't even get vacation right. Imagine coming back to the office: 'Hey, how was your two-week break?' 'It was good. I defended Nazis. What'd you do?’"

---Jimmy Fallon

"Donnie Johnnie says we need to defend our country's beautiful confederate monuments, when you know he would take 'em down in a second if he thought he could build a bunch of poorly-constructed condos on the spot."

---Tina Fey on SNL's special edition of Weekend Update

Pay close attention to the poll options: I left a little gift at the bottom.

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

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Even faster than expected, Bannon rejoins Breitbart, says he only planned to work for Trump a year

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:58:13 +0000

Johnathan Easley at The Hill reports: President Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon returned to Breitbart News on Friday just hours after parting ways with the White House. Bannon has reclaimed the title of executive chairman for Breitbart and directed the outlet’s Friday editorial meeting, the website said in a statement on Friday. “The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today,” said Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. “Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda. At the right-wing Weekly Standard, where Trump has been no favorite, Peter J. Boyer writes: “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon said Friday, shortly after confirming his departure. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.” [...] Bannon says that his departure was voluntary, and that he’d planned it to coincide with the one-year anniversary of his joining the Trump campaign as chief executive, on August 14, 2016. “On August 7th , I talked to [Chief of Staff John] Kelly and to the President, and I told them that my resignation would be effective the following Monday, on the 14th,” he said. “I’d always planned on spending one year. General Kelly has brought in a great new system, but I said it would be best. I want to get back to Breitbart.” xJust talked to Breitbart editor Matt Boyle about Bannon's return to Breitbart: "We're in a loud bar celebrating the return of our captain!"— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) August 18, 2017 [...]



Florida provides sickening blueprint for what Republicans want to do to sick kids on Medicaid

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 20:05:54 +0000

CNN just published an in-depth, horrifying investigative story on the state of Florida's 2014-15 to systematically remove sick and disabled children from "a highly respected program called Children's Medical Services, or CMS, a part of Florida Medicaid" and onto private plans with companies who happen to be big donors to the state Republican party. The story highlights pediatricians who are outraged that their young patients have been endangered, and that decision-making process that got them here was entirely corrupted, with physicians left voiceless. First, the data analysis the state used to justify switching the children is "inaccurate" and "bizarre," according to the researcher who wrote the software used in that analysis. Second, the screening tool the state used to select which children would be kicked off the program has been called "completely invalid" and "a perversion of science" by top experts in children with special health care needs. Third, in fall 2015, a state administrative law judge ruled that the Department of Health should stop using the screening tool because it was unlawful. However, even after the judge issued his decision, the department didn't automatically re-enroll the children or even reach out to the families directly to let them know that re-enrollment was a possibility. Finally, parents and Florida pediatricians raise questions about the true reasons why Florida's Republican administration switched the children's health plans. They question whether it was to financially reward insurance companies that had donated millions of dollars to the Republican Party of Florida. "This was a way for the politicians to repay the entities that had contributed to their political campaigns and their political success, and it's the children who suffered," said Dr. Louis St. Petery, former executive vice president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's an astounding story of an administration—Gov. Rick Scott's Republican administration—so corrupt that it was willing to risk the lives of children—more than 13,000 of them. Many of the children were switched to plans that had doctors who simply wouldn't treat them, like LJ Stroud who was born with a cleft lip and palate, and who had a tooth emerge in the roof of his mouth when he was eleven. He suffered from near constant pain and ear aches that couldn't be treated. The surgeon scheduled to operate on Stroud to fix these issues in the CMS program called to cancel just days before the surgery, because he didn't participate in the network the state moved the child to. No provider in that network would do the surgery. It took a lawsuit to restore LJ's insurance, and seven months for him to finally get the surgery—seven months of constant pain, a 10-pound weight loss, and his inability to do the things a kid does. A number of other children's families did successfully sue the state to have their CMS reinstated, but doctors are speaking out now for the thousands of sick and disabled children who got kicked off. [...]



Cartoon: Meet the Republican 'resistance'

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:51:07 +0000

Follow me on Twitter @BrianMc_Fadden.

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Right-wing organizations blackballed by mainstream America following Charlottesville violence

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:17:15 +0000

In the wake of their violent protest resulting in three deaths and scores of injuries, many individuals and organizations that overtly support white supremacist and alt-right causes have found the spigots they use to access the outside world being cut off. TPM's Allegra Kirkland writes:

PayPal, Patreon, Facebook, Squarespace, Spotify, Google, GoDaddy, Texas A&M University, the University of Florida, a mountain resort in Colorado and Boston’s city leadership are among the companies removing white nationalists’ accounts and institutions canceling their planned events in the wake of violent street clashes that left three people dead and dozens injured on Saturday. By eliminating both the physical and virtual platforms that white nationalists use to promote their ideas, those companies and institutions have curtailed the avenues by which they could grow their reach.

“I can’t think of another incident to which the backlash has been nearly so widespread,” Mark Pitcavage, an expert on right-wing extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM.

It's not exactly clear why some of these actions hadn't already been taken, but Charlottesville has certainly served as a wake-up call that "fringe" elements and ideas aren't inconsequential by any means. Accordingly, the blowback in many cases has been proportional to how violent and repugnant a particular entity is.

Andrew Anglin’s neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, was essentially wiped off the mainstream internet after GoDaddy, Google and CloudFare stopped providing domain registration in quick succession. Anglin has since relocated the site to the dark web, where it is only available via use of a Tor network, radically restricting his audience.

“His site is all he has,” the ADL’s Pitcavage observed. “He can’t even show his face ‘cause he’ll get served with lawsuits. So his site is basically his voice. He gets hurt a lot worse than someone else who has a lot of different avenues for expressing their ideologies and beliefs.”

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Donald Trump's Infrastructure Week builds a case for do-over

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 20:21:17 +0000

So … how was your Infrastructure Week? Donald Trump did do some real building this week—he created a ten-lane bridge between the nation’s anger and disgust. Unfortunately, it didn’t help create any jobs. In fact, at least one was lost. Following Trump’s hug-a-Nazi workshop, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities went out the door en masse, while delivering a fantastic take this job and fugue it letter. Though it’s not clear if they took their honorary chairman with them. The Manufacturing Council first started bleeding members, then unraveled so fast that Trump rushed to claim he had disbanded it. The Strategy & Policy Forum went out the door with it, before most of the CEOs on board had the satisfaction of writing a resignation letter. But none of them could beat the record set by the special council created expressly support this celebrated and productive week. The Trump administration announced on Thursday that they would no longer move forward with plans to form an infrastructure advisory council. That’s right. The Infrastructure Council was abandoned in the middle of Infrastructure Week before it was even built. It wasn’t just the bridge to nowhere, it was the half-doodled down blueprints for that bridge. To nowhere. It existed for negative time (someone call Einstein). But Trump can take comfort, there is still one council of ruthless millionaire businessmen that’s hanging in there. Not a single member of Trump's Evangelical Council has resigned. We have learned corporate America has a greater moral compass. Not only have they not resigned, they’ve provided Trump some genuine support in this time of hardship. Jerry Falwell Jr tweeted on Wednesday: “Finally, a leader in the White House. Jobs returning, North Korea backing down, bold truthful statement about Charlottesville tragedy. So proud of Donald Trump.” Unfortunately for Infrastructure Week, the Evangelical Council can’t even build a road to hell—because clearly none of them have so much as good intentions. [...]



Republicans fret tax reform will be a victim of Trump's post-Charlottesville fallout

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:24:28 +0000

Republican lawmakers, still licking their wounds from the healthcare wipe out, had been eyeing tax reform as a chance to get back on track—whatever that means. This GOP-led government has been off the rails from the day Trump took to the oath of office. Anyway, hope springs eternal among fools but this week has been so bad that even fools are starting to fret about the tax effort. The Washington Post writes: Several key lawmakers said Trump will need to focus on selling the GOP’s tax plan when Congress returns in September, and they worried that the difficult job of passing a massive tax package will be nearly impossible without the president playing a key role. “At the end of the day, President Trump will be incredibly crucial to the success of this,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) told reporters here Wednesday. “Tax reform is the signature issue of this presidency.” Earth to Brady: Trump's too busy defending white supremacists and obliterating anything that was left of American ideals to sell your tax plan (and for the moment, we'll let slide the fact that there is no "plan," no consensus, or even a set of back-of-the-beverage-nap bullet points that Republicans are coalescing around). Seriously, the Friday exit of Steve Bannon from the White House is going to launch to GOP blood bath: Either Bannon will use Breitbart News to make war on Trump if he strays from the white nationalist movement that brung him, or Bannon will use it to make war on congressional lawmakers who stand in the way of Trump's white nationalist agenda. No matter what, Washington will be besieged by a GOP civil war and every other normal semblance of governance—including passing legislation—will perish in the process. Regardless of which side of this Trump is on—the giving or receiving end—he does not have the mental stability, temperament, or discipline to focus on things like legislation in this situation. Making war is his specialty, it feeds his pathologies.  Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who along with Reps. Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.) and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) accompanied Brady on the trip, said that while lawmakers were used to working in “a very distracting environment,” the push for tax reform would require Trump to help re­focus attention away from day-to-day scandal and back to policy details in a way he never did during the health-care debate. Prepare for more distraction, fellas ... incoming! [...]



Please stop asking Trump voters if they're abandoning Trump. Please.

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:37:36 +0000

Donald Trump attacked prisoners of war. Trump supporters didn’t care. Trump attacked Gold Star families. They didn't care. Trump invited Russia to hack into our election. They didn’t care.  He said that his celebrity status allowed him to grab women by the pussy and finally … nope. Still didn’t care.

Look, this is just a small sample, but it should get the point across.

SCandal Level of Concern
Fired the FBI director in the middle of an investigation where he was the subject 0
Let go his national security adviser for having an unknown number of charts with Russia 0
Admitted to pulling down at least $100 million in income from Russia 0
Cheated untold number of contractors out of millions, including during the campaign 0
Called an Indiana judge a Mexican who couldn’t be trusted 0
Still has an active lawsuit against him from 15 women (yes, it’s still underway) 0
Raised Mar-a-Lago fees to $400K while letting his “special people” listen in on war planning. 0
Said blacks were intrinsically “lazy” and he only trusts Jews to count his money 0
Ignored the emoluments clause. And again. And again. And … so on. 0
Compared Nazis to people standing up to Nazis 0

Just listen to these people and believe them.

Six in 10 people who approve of President Donald Trump (61%) say they can't think of anything Trump could do that would make them disapprove of his job as President, according to a Monmouth University poll released this week.

Just understand that the things he does that infuriate everyone else, are the things they like.

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Acting ICE director promises to rip even more hardworking immigrant families apart

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:14:32 +0000

We know that despite Donald Trump’s claims about targeting only “bad hombres,” his immoral mass deportation force has been sweeping up hardworking undocumented parents with no criminal record by the thousands, without any regard for the lives they’ve already built here. Just this week, Oakland nurse Maria Mendoza-Sanchez and her husband, Eusebio Sanchez, were deported to Mexico, despite having clean records, U.S. citizen kids, and years of paying taxes. Now acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Thomas Homan is promising even more Marias and Eusebios:

In the seven months since Thomas Homan was appointed to carry out President Trump's promises to crack down on undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., he has been accused of abusing that power by targeting undocumented immigrants without criminal records.

So far, the data seems to back up those accusations, with the percentage of undocumented immigrants without a criminal record arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents increasing each month, from 18% in January to 30% in June.

But Homan, a 33-year law enforcement veteran who has worked along the southern border and is now the acting director of ICE, doesn't shy away from those numbers. In fact, he said they're only the start.

"You're going to continue to see an increase in that," Homan told USA TODAY during a visit to Miami on Wednesday.

It makes perfect sense that Trump selected him to serve as acting director—Homan got his start in federal immigration enforcement as a border agent, today recognized by the Department of Homeland Security as some of the most corrupt federal law enforcement agents in the nation. But back then, Homan was just one man. Today, he has thousands of immigration agents at his disposal.

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Pelosi backs censure of Trump over his 'repulsive defense of white supremacists'

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:22:21 +0000

Campaign Action House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday endorsed a growing push to censure Donald Trump for his repugnant defense of a white supremacist and neo-Nazi protest that led to deadly violence last weekend. “The President’s repulsive defense of white supremacists demands that Congress act to defend our American values," she said in endorsing a censure resolution introduced by several House Democrats. "Every day, the President gives us further evidence of why such a censure is necessary," she said. Voting to censure Trump would be a purely symbolic condemnation of Trump, but it certainly challenges Republicans to make an on-the-record expression of what many have been saying privately for months. This week has even driven some GOP lawmakers to speak out publicly, like when Republican Sen. Bob Corker notably admitted Trump hasn't demonstrated either the "stability" or "competence" to be president of the United States. Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler told MSNBC’s Ari Melber Thursday that an official censure would send the message that “the United States is a moral country even if it has an immoral president.” Trump has now effectively ceded all of the moral authority attached to the office he holds—not that he ever had any inkling about the meaning of morality to begin with. But this week, he may have actually made himself toxic—only time will tell. Regardless, Democrats should absolutely push this effort and make all Republicans, especially Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, answer for their complete and total failure in leadership on all things Trump. Friday, Aug 18, 2017 · 8:04:22 PM +00:00 · Kerry Eleveld UPDATE: Censure introduced…  xProud to be introducing #censure of @realDonaldTrump for his outrageous #Charlottesville comments w/ so many colleagues. More to follow! pic.twitter.com/WTaanvsM1I— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) August 18, 2017 [...]



Midday open thread: Plastic water bottles return to national parks; shaming white supremacists

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:01:14 +0000

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is A cartoonist's vacation:  What’s coming up on Sunday Kos … The presumed ‘innocence’ of white terrorism, by Frank Vyan Walton Five questions for UNITE HERE president D. Taylor on how Democrats can replicate Nevada’s 2016 wins, by Kerry Eleveld Elizabeth Warren at Netroots Nation 2017: A clarion call for coalition politics, by Armando How to fight white supremacy: Charlottesville offers a blueprint, by Sher Watts Spooner Three Russian propaganda techniques being used by the Trump administration—and how to fight them, by David Akadjian We are missing the real story about Trump’s collusion with white nationalists, by Egberto Willies Affirmative action mythology, white resentment, and bogus cries of ‘reverse racism,’ by Denise Oliver Velez This is not about liberal and conservative, it is about being an America, by Mark E Andersen Trump’s willing supremacists, by Jon Perr On special elections, ‘moral’ victories and actual victories, by Steve Singiser Barack Obama is the exact moral opposite of Donald Trump, by Ian Reifowitz • Statue of chief justice who wrote the blacks-aren’t-really-people Dred Scott decision taken down at night: Workers dismantled a 145-year-old statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney outside the Maryland State House shortly after midnight Friday, the latest ripple effect from last weekend’s deadly violence at a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville. • Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita has a few guidelines for his chauffeur: Who knew it could take eight pages of instructions on how to properly escort a member of Congress around his district? Yet there it is, laid out in mind-blowing detail, in a memo obtained by POLITICO that's sure to make any young, eager-beaver political aide shudder. • Activists argue the case for public shaming of white supremacists: With white supremacist voices growing louder, identifying and publicly shaming them has become one avenue of vigilante justice. Many on social media have been applauding the effort to hold rally-goers accountable, arguing people don’t get to be a “weekend Nazi” and not face the consequences of their actions. Paradoxically, these activists sometimes use the same tools as online harassers who have targeted feminists, people of color, and others in a tactic known as “doxxing,” where personal information such as addresses and telephone numbers are released as a way of digital harassment. By doing so, they have have raised new questions about the ethics and strategy of publicly shaming white supremacists. Soraya Chemaly of the Women’s Media Center, who works to combat doxxing, draws a distinction between the recent vigilante activism and harassment online. “Emotional trauma and harm happen and the terroristic threat represented by a white supremacist march needs to be recognized,” she tells Mother Jones. Hate speech can cause trauma, but perpetrators are generally not subject to any of the legal consequenc[...]



Hmm ... Flynn, Spicey, Priebus, Bannon ... who's next?

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:53:57 +0000

Looks like there’s two people left on that Oval Office island. Wonder who will survive… if anyone.

x

Discuss ...

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Steve Bannon outlived his usefulness once Trump learned that he could just let his bigot flag fly

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:47:19 +0000

As an investment banker at Goldman Sachs who was sent to Hollywood to set up a boutique investment service for Goldman’s top entertainment clients, Steve Bannon clearly epitomizes the kind of working man, everyday American who surrounds Donald Trump. Joining the Trump campaign as CEO after previous chief Paul Manafort had a little issue with having lost millions of dollars from Russian oligarchs, Bannon brought to the campaign a unique skill set that he honed by years of exploiting Chinese peasants to cheat at an online game. Campaign Action In 2005, Bannon secured $60 million in funding from Goldman Sachs and other investors for Internet Gaming Entertainment, a Hong Kong-based company. IGE did not make games, but instead employed "low-wage Chinese workers" to play online multiplayer game World of Warcraft and earn in-game gold that could be traded for virtual goods, which in turn could be resold to players of the hugely popular PC game for real money ... Having learned how to raise a troll army that could wreck the economy and a society of a virtual world, Bannon moved on to Breitbart News, where he could hone his skills by adding racist propaganda and advanced conspiracy theories to his formidable tool box. Gannon honed his ability to enrage white males who looked through the bottom of their beer mugs to find Breitbart stories informing them that blacks, Mexicans, and Muslims were responsible for their lack of a job and the 10 cent deposit on their bottle of PBR. Bannon gave them few heroes, lots of enemies, and found that they would work cheaper than his World of Warcraft gold miners. Well known for wearing sweat-stained T-shirts and rumpled shorts paired with flip-flops, Bannon’s ability to command this fresh troll army turned him into a superstar with Republicans. This was especially true after he threw the welcoming servers of Breitbart around the white nationalist “alt-right,” giving a voice to those who everyone else thought too odious to be taken seriously and turning them into the engine of Trump’s victory. With Trump installed in the White House, Bannon took a seat next door in his custom-crafter role as “strategic advisor,” but it was clear from the beginning that he was having little fun. After all, it’s hard to keep up the wrinkled-rebel street cred when you’re parked adjacent to the Oval Office. And there was an even bigger factor in Bannon’s downfall—having built a bridge between Trump and the white supremacists, both sides found they could easily cross that bridge without paying a toll to Steve. [...]



Robert Mueller adds Donald Trump Jr. to those in the focus of his investigation

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:34:03 +0000

Buzzfeed reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has turned his attention to Donald Trump’s eldest son. The review seems to be particularly interested in the meeting Trump Jr. chaired in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016. Campaign Action Trump Jr. has acknowledged that he was looking for negative information about Hillary Clinton when he, as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, met with the lawyer. But he claimed he did not receive any useful opposition research. Previous reports indicated that Donald Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort was under close examination from the Special Counsel’s office both for his magical, no-collateral loans and his flow of funds from overseas. The pairing of Manafort and Trump Jr. as central to the investigation, may suggest that Mueller considers that Trump Tower meeting—which also included Jared Kushner, a Russian attorney with ties to the Kremlin, representatives for a Russian real-estate firm, and a man who had started over 2,000 shell companies for money laundering—as a critical moment. It was a meeting that combined an offer of interference by the Russian government on the behalf of Donald Trump, and one that included many different firms involved in Trump’s emergence as a conduit for moving money out of Russia.  While some reports have suggested that Mueller is looking deeply into Trump’s financial activities, including some that are many years in the past, this report seems heavily aimed at the central question of the Trump campaign’s relationship with the Russian government. That prosecutorial muscle is reportedly bearing down on a variety of people in Trump’s campaign for possible collusion with Russian efforts to sway the election and other issues. Mueller is said to be looking at whether Trump obstructed justice in any way in his conversations with and eventual firing of FBI director James Comey. We may now be focused on Trump’s response to white supremacist terrorism, and before that we spent a week watching Trump raise the security temperature over North Korea. But even if the rest of the nation was momentarily diverted, that doesn’t mean Mueller looked away. [...]



Steve Bannon reported to be fired from his very special position

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 16:50:06 +0000

After weeks in which Steve Bannon seemed on the outs within the Trump White House, and a week it which it seemed that Bannon had taken notes from ‘The Mooch’ on the best way to be booted, Donald Trump’s most special advisor appears to have more time to spend with his … whatever Bannon spends his time with. President Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Mr. Trump win the 2016 election, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion. … As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon’s future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but it was delayed in the wake of the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va. Looks like Steve can go back to the shorts, flip-flops and taking a shower once a month whether he needs it or not. Friday, Aug 18, 2017 · 4:58:36 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner In the grand tradition of “the manufacturing council / art commission / everyone decent didn’t quit — I fired them” comes Steve Bannon’s … xSteve Bannon just told me he resigned from the White House two weeks ago @POTUS #Bannon— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) August 18, 2017 [...]



That's a wrap! The remaining members of the presidential arts commission resign in protest

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:16:08 +0000

Another embarrassing day for Donald Trump in the White House. The presidential arts commission is effectively disbanding itself:

The remaining members of a presidential arts and humanities panel are resigning on Friday in yet another sign of growing national protest of President Trump’s recent comments on the violence in Charlottesville.

Members of the President’s Committee are drawn from Broadway, Hollywood, and the broader arts and entertainment community and plan to release a letter later Friday explaining their decision, according to two people familiar with the decision who asked for anonymity to speak frankly about the plans.

More on the history and goals of the commission:

Created in 1982 under President Reagan, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. PCAH works directly with the three primary cultural agencies—National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services—as well as other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education and cultural exchange.

Here are the remaining members who are expected to resign. Note that it doesn’t appear Donald Trump has even bothered to name his own commission members. And why should he? He hasn’t even bothered to fill critical State Department diplomatic and security roles. 

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Robert E. Lee rejected the idea of Confederate monuments, saying they 'keep open the sores of war'

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:06:44 +0000

Donald Trump, our nation’s historically unpopular president, went on a Twitter rant about Confederate monuments and the growing movement to remove them.  xSad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017 x...can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson - who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017 Robert E. Lee, the general featured in many of these statues (most of which were erected after the turn of the century—including a flurry in the 1950s and 1960s), was against the idea of Confederate monuments and said so on multiple occasions: The first was to Thomas Rosser, a former Confederate general who in 1866 queried Lee about a proposed commemorative monument. “My conviction is,” Lee wrote, “that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; & of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour.” [...]



Donald Trump will keep you safe ... and all it will cost you is everything

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:19:09 +0000

The terrorists in Barcelona momentarily moved Trump’s Nazi-supporting outrage to the number two position on many people’s list of concerns. Trump was ready for that. On Friday morning, in three simple tweets, Trump laid out a road map to the security state of his authoritarian dreams.

First, you need a force that’s ready to protect America without worrying about busting a few innocent heads, conducting a little mass murder,  and protect America from brown people.

“Homeland Security and law enforcement are on alert & closely watching for any sign of trouble. Our borders are far tougher than ever before!”

Though it would be easier if it wasn’t for insidious lefties who care about things like rights and laws.

“The Obstructionist Democrats make Security for our country very difficult. They use the courts and associated delay at all times. Must stop!”

But safety can be had with a few simple steps … like giving up things you’ll never miss.

Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary! The courts must give us back our protective rights. Have to be tough!

Our “protective rights”? This seems to be the next-level perversion of all the times a Republican has stated that the first duty of the president is to keep citizens safe—a statement that always shows they didn’t pay too much attention during the oath of office. Trump is creating “rights” that are defined in the sense of things taken away. As in “we can keep you safe … if you’ll give up those pesky concerns about free speech and unlawful search.” And of course, a little torture wouldn’t hurt.

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Trump is losing 'friends,' but not losing Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:32:21 +0000

Let's face it,  Donald Trump is not a person with friends. He's far too much of a narcissist and ogre to actually be able to achieve that. The people around him and supporting him are not his friends—they're using him to advance their careers and/or their political agendas. With that in mind, this story—"Trump drives his few political friends away"—still demonstrates the heartburn Trump is giving fellow Republicans. For example, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) who kind of went there: "The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful." Unstable and incompetent is what any honest and unbiased actor observing politics would call Trump, having watched him in office. It's astounding to hear from a Republican. Then there's Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), the only black Republican in the Senate, who said he could not stand behind the "indefensible" comments Trump made in his unhinged Tuesday press conference. He "suggested that Trump had squandered the moral authority of his office—a critical commodity vital in binding the nation together in a time of crisis or national tragedy that also helps to sustain the power of any presidency." But what's really going to get his goat is what James Murdoch, the 21st Century Fox CEO and son of Rupert Murdoch, said in denouncing Trump's statements. "I can't even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis," Murdoch wrote. "Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so." Murdoch is a "close informal adviser" to Trump, but more he's head of Fox. Fox is Trump's happy place, where he goes to have his delusions of grandeur reinforced. This, and the abandonment of him by the CEOs he had collected for his advisory committees, is what's going to hurt, what's going to drive him further 'round the bend. But what matters to the nation is not Trump's hurt feelings, but what the Republicans in charge of Congress are going to do about the fact that he is unstable, incompetent, and indefensible. Thus far, it appears to be nothing. There's no indication yet of willingness from House Speaker Paul Ryan or Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do what's necessary to protect the nation from the damage Trump is inflicting. There's no indication from the rank-and-file Republicans in Congress that they will demand their leaders do something. Up until Corker and Scott made their comments, no Republican senator was willing to talk to the media about the unraveling of their president. [...]



Democrats seek to make Charlottesville a 'galvanizing moment' with #RiseAndOrganize campaign

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:36:47 +0000

The Democratic National Committee has launched an effort to both provide a point of connection in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy and keep activists on the left engaged. The #RiseAndOrganize campaign is an outgrowth of the swift and, in many cases, organic responses across the country to the violence last weekend that claimed the life of civil rights activist Heather Heyer and injured 19 others. Washington Post's Dave Weigel writes:

“In addition to calling on Republicans to denounce Trump, the next step is getting people to commit to vote,” explained DNC chief executive Jess O’Connell. “This is a galvanizing moment.” [...]

The #RiseAndOrganize campaign, explained O’Connell, would involve Democrats finding the best opportunities to grill their representatives in public, as well as talking to people on the sidelines about the need to get involved. [...]

More than 100 events were already being planned for the weekend, with a goal of hitting all 50 states. All summer, the existing network of progressive groups has been organizing people to attend congressional town hall meetings, as well as vigils after major events. Scores of gatherings to condemn the violence in Charlottesville, in which a woman was killed, were put together within hours of the news breaking, with more vigils following on Sunday.

Of course, the main point here, as mentioned, is to turn people who were activated by last weekend’s deadly violence and Donald Trump’s abhorrent response to it into 2018 voters. That may be our first real opportunity to put the brakes on this madness.

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Cartoon: A cartoonist's vacation

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:51:14 +0000

Coincidentally, I am also on a “working vacation” like President Trump. Hopefully, I am offering less encouragement to white nationalists carrying tiki torches and in less trouble with Robert Mueller. It must be very difficult to relax with the Russia investigation and compulsive tweeting getting in the way of your golf game.

Somehow, whenever Trump speaks of racism or white nationalists, he instantly becomes a very cautious and milquetoast speaker. All sides have good points, right? Um, no. Enjoy our president’s vacationing catastrophe. Meanwhile, I’m going to take a few more days to avoid the executive mayhem coming from Bedminster, Manhattan and Pennsylvania Avenue. Back soon!

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Heather Heyer's mother says she will not speak to Trump, 'not after what he said about my child'

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 12:54:15 +0000

Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, says she still has not talked directly with Donald Trump and that she will not be talking with him.

In an interview with Good Morning America, Bro said that the White House had called several times—with the first call apparently coming in the middle of Heather’s memorial service. While inconsiderate timing may have gotten in the way of those initial calls, Bro made it clear that what’s stopping the conversation at this point isn’t scheduling, but Donald Trump’s horrendous statements. 

Reporter: Have you talked to him directly yet?

Bro: I have not, and now I will not. At first I just missed his calls. The first call came, it looks like, during the funeral. I didn’t even see that message. There were three more frantic messages from press secretaries throughout the day and I didn’t know why, that would have been on Wednesday. … I hadn’t really watched the news until last night. And I’m not talking to the president. Not now. I’m sorry, not after what he said about my child. It’s not that I saw somebody else’s tweets about him. I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protestors ‘like Ms. Heyer,’ with the KKK and the white supremacists. 

Before he got down to talking about how nice some of the Nazis were, Donald Trump assured everyone that Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer, had given him big kudos for his condolences skills.

Trump: It was an NBC, her mother wrote me and said, through I guess Twitter, social media, the nicest things. And I very much appreciated that. I hear she was a fine, really actually an incredible young woman. But her mother, on Twitter, thanked me for what I said. And honestly, if the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. Unlike you and unlike—excuse me. Unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.

Now that she’s had a chance to see what Donald Trump actually said, Heather Heyer’s mother didn’t think it was “very nice.” That’s the facts.

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