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Published: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 16:20:40 +0000

Last Build Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2016 16:20:40 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



Republican voters suddenly really, really like the Electoral College

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 16:00:19 +0000

Donald Trump won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by a wide margin. As you would expect, this has led to Republicans across the nation suddenly liking the Electoral College a whole lot more than they ever did before.

This year, for the first time in the 49 years Gallup has asked about it, less than half of Americans want to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system.

The reason for this shift in opinion is clear: In the aftermath of this year's election, the percentage of Republicans wanting to replace the Electoral College with the popular vote has fallen significantly.

Currently, 19% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents favor basing the winner on the popular vote, down from 49% in October 2004 and 54% in 2011. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents already widely favored having the popular vote determine the winner and are slightly more likely to do so now than in the past.

So it went from about an even split before the election to a WILDLY UNPOPULAR IDEA among Republicans just weeks afterward. Yup, there ya go. There's not much else to say about that.

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Obama uses weekly address to make strong case for retaining Obamacare

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 15:00:19 +0000

… our goal wasn’t just to make sure more people have coverage – it was to make sure more people have better coverage. That’s why we want to build on the progress we’ve made – and I’ve put forth a number of ideas for how to improve the Affordable Care Act. Now Republicans in Congress want to repeal the whole thing and start from scratch – but trying to undo some of it could undo all of it. All those consumer protections – whether you get your health insurance from Obamacare, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or on the job – could go right out the window. So any partisan talk you hear about repealing or replacing it should be judged by whether they keep all those improvements that benefit you and your family right now.

President Obama reminded listeners in his weekly address this morning that this is the last weekend to sign up for Obamacare if you want it to kick in on January 1, 2017.

He also used the address to reprimand Republicans who want to take health insurance from all the Americans who have gained it since the Affordable Care Act went into effect. And he reminded listeners of exactly what is at stake:

One new study shows that if Congress repeals Obamacare as they’ve proposed, nearly 30 million Americans would lose their coverage. Four in five of them would come from working families. More than nine million Americans who would receive tax credits to keep insurance affordable would no longer receive that help. That is unacceptable.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

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Voting Rights Roundup: Citing bogus 'fraud,' Michigan GOP rushes to pass a strict new voter ID law

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:34:33 +0000

Leading Off

Michigan: Without warning last week, Michigan Republicans began talking about introducing a strict voter ID law, and now the state House has passed the measure over Democratic opposition. Odds are it will easily clear the state Senate as well, since Republicans also dominate the upper chamber. And in a deeply cynical move, Republicans made sure that Democrats can't overturn the law at the ballot box via an ordinary “veto referendum” by attaching a token appropriation to the bill. Legislation that includes appropriations can only be overturned by an amendment to the state constitution, which takes twice as many signatures to get on the ballot.

Michigan’s current voter ID law lets voters without the appropriate ID fill out an affidavit swearing to their identity. However, this new bill would force them to cast a provisional ballot and would only count such ballots if voters provide sufficient ID within 10 days. Just as with voter ID laws elsewhere, this measure would significantly burden hundreds of thousands of registered voters who currently lack a valid ID, and it could even outright disenfranchise thousands who can’t obtain ID without undue hardship.

Is there any hope of stopping the bill? Well, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder previously vetoed bills that would have required proof of citizenship and demanded voter ID for absentee ballots in 2012. However, now that he isn’t facing re-election or the need to satisfy the Justice Department after the Supreme Court gutted a key part of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Snyder might be less restrained this time.

Republican legislators have justified this stricter voter ID requirement by claiming it’s needed to fight fraud, despite the fact that such fraud is practically nonexistent. In a bitter twist of irony, Michigan Republicans just recently persuaded a federal court to order a halt to a statewide recount of the 2016 presidential election. The reasoning Republicans used in court? There was no evidence of any fraud.

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: The Trump appointments continue to suggest inexperience/incompetence

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 12:35:17 +0000

x

 Billy Martin, the better choice, was apparently unavailable.

Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost:

Americans Don’t Think The Government Needs ‘Experts’

Just 17 percent of Donald Trump voters want him to appoint people with government experience.

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Open thread for night owls—Lehmann on why the Times hired the wrong kind of public editor

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 04:00:18 +0000

Chris Lehmann at The Baffler writes—Neutering the News—Here’s why The Times hired the wrong kind of public editor It was pretty much obvious at the outset of Liz Spayd’s tenure as New York Times public editor that the paper had elevated a dangerous simpleton into a position of influence. And now, with Spayd’s tone-deaf chiding of Times reporters for mostly anodyne comments on the empty spectacle of the Trump transition and call-outs to critics of President-elect Trump (another dangerous simpleton recently elevated into a position of influence), we’re seeing all the tell-tale signs of a full-fledged intellectual meltdown. To recap: Spayd was pulling talking-head duty on Tucker Carlson’s latest Fox News brand-extension, and Carlson, like any Fox-trained grievance merchant, went into high dudgeon over a smattering of Trump-themed tweets drafted by Times hands. (Sample outrage fodder: A tweet from Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton on the rampant merchandizing of Trump-branded swag that read in full “White House as QVC. It has started”; a tweet from Jerusalem bureau chief Peter Baker linking to—horrors!—a Brookings Institution breakdown of failed election coverage by (his wife) Susan Glasser, former editor of that notorious left-wing rag Politico; and a tweet from reporter Liam Stack that merely repeated a headline about the Electoral College that ran in that other scurrilous journal of radical opinion, The Atlantic.) Now, any intelligent human versed in the basics of the Fox brand of cable hectoring might have noted that this is the sort of non-controversy that the phrase “tempest in a teapot” was coined to describe. A minimally prepared guest might even note that far rougher sentiments had been aired in a recent Twitter feud between Bret Stephens, an editor at the Wall Street Journal, and counter-journalistic Trump shill Sean Hannity—but maybe that wasn’t deemed suitable red meat for Fox’s bow-tied, Trump-osculating hellion because all the principals in that dust-up were paid by Rupert Murdoch, just like Tucker Carlson is. Did Liz Spayd rouse herself to this basic level of media literacy? Ha, of course not! Instead, she blathered awkwardly in Carlson’s own chosen register of vacuous affrontedness. “Yes, I think that’s outrageous,” she obligingly burbled. “They shouldn’t be tweeted.” Later on in the segment, Carlson, no doubt delighted to have such a pliant Tweedle Dum on the set, raised the rhetorical stakes, suggesting that Times editors should threaten to fire the offending tweeters. And sure enough, Spayd seemed game for some sort of managerial discipline: “I don’t know that any of these people should be fired, but I do think that when people go over the line like that, and I think some of those are over the line, that there ought to be some kind of a consequence for that.” When Spayd’s idiot musings touched off an entirely predictable social-media furor, she tried a semi-walkback of her comments. “In retrospect, I should have held back more, not knowing what the context was for the tweets” she told Politico media reporter Joe Pompeo. “But I stand by my view that journalists should be careful, sometimes more careful than they are, with what they say on social media. That includes how it can be interpreted.” That includes how it can be interpreted. Let us linger a moment on this particular passive effusion of patrician management-speak. In this case, of course, the only “interpretation” being floated for this inoffensive array of comments was the nakedly ideological tantrum that Carlson was cynically staging to advance his own Fox career.[...] HIGH IMPACT STORIES • TOP COMMENTS • OVERNIGHT NEWS DIGEST TWEET OF THE DAY xAmazingly, GOP argued MI didn't need a recount because there was no evidence of fraud, while they push a new voter ID law to combat fraud... https://t.co/xdI9LlHKm9— Steph[...]



Scientist find dinosaur tail preserved in amber—and it's covered in feathers

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 19:37:53 +0000

Scientists working in the Hukawng Valley in northern Myanmar have found something very special in a fragment of Cretaceous amber.

The tail of a 99-million-year-old dinosaur, including bones, soft tissue, and even feathers, has been found preserved in amber, according to a report published today in the journal Current Biology.

The wing of a bird, also from the Cretaceous period, was recently found in amber, but where the feathers of the ancient bird wing had the stiff central shaft and well developed structures to support flight, the feathers from the dinosaur tail were softer and more like the plumage some birds sprout for display.

The dinosaur feathers feature a poorly defined central shaft (rachis) and appear to keel to either side of the tail. The open, flexible structure of the feathers is more similar to modern ornamental feathers than to flight feathers, which have well-defined central shafts, branches, sub-branches, and hooks that latch the structure together.

The tail belonged to a coelurosaur, a group that includes most upright, bipedal carnivores, including T. rex. However, this particular tail appears to be from another branch of the family tree, the Maniraptora, which includes not just those members of the group made famous for chasing people through Jurassic Park, but genuine oddballs like the Therizinosaurs.

The whole story, with some nice photos of the amber sample, is over at National Geographic, which helped fund the work of the discoverer, Lida Xing of the China University of Geosciences.

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Congressman up for secretary of state dismisses idea of human rights abuses in Russia

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 19:43:54 +0000

A California congressmen some believe is being considered for secretary of state, brushed aside the idea that Russia is guilty of any human rights abuses during an interview with Yahoo News. 

During the exchange Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) called China one of the worst human rights abusers in the world, and rejected the notion that Russia was just as bad.

Anchor Bianna Golodryga pressed the lawmaker about Russia’s record on human rights: “When you talk about human rights abusers in China, much can be said about Russia as well in that regard.”

“Oh, baloney,” Rohrabacher replied. “Where do you come from?”

“I come from the former Soviet Union, that’s where I came from,” Golodryga said. “I came here as a political refugee. That’s where I came from.”

“Oh, OK,” Rohrabacher said. “What country did you say you came from?”

“I come from the former Soviet Union, from Moldova,” Golodryga said.

“Oh, well then that’s good, then the audience knows that you are biased,” Rohrabacher said.

Russia’s human rights abuses have been documented by the Human Rights Watch organization.

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President Obama and Democrats just authorized a larger-than-expected raise to federal employees

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:23:37 +0000

President Obama surprised many today by authorizing a 2.1 percent wage increase for federal workers. Back in August, President Obama, with a legislative branch that was screwing around as they continued their six-year scuttling of a working government, authorized a 1.6 percent increase. The Republican legislature trying to look like they’re working again have recently approved a long, Democratically pushed military wage increase in the National Defense Authorization Act. This led to federal union leaders coming back to President Obama to ask for a more generous increase.

“However, in light of the decision of Congress to provide a 2.1 percent pay increase for military personnel in 2017 and reconsideration of current and projected economic conditions, I have concluded it would be appropriate to revise my original alternative plan for locality payments so that the total combined cost of the 1.0 percent across-the-board base pay increase and varying locality payments will be 2.1 percent of basic payroll,” Obama wrote. [...]

“When the final 2017 National Defense Authorization Act set the military raise at 2.1 percent at the end of November, NTEU contacted key members of Congress to ask them to urge the President to change his original proposal to 2.1 percent,” said National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon. “It was our view that the federal pay raise wasn’t a done deal and could be adjusted.”

“We thank the members of Congress who listened to our views on this issue and stepped up as champions of the federal workforce,” said Reardon. NTEU is especially grateful to House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Senator-elect Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.),” who now is a representative.

You will notice that all of those people involved were Democrats. That isn’t a coincidence. That’s a real left-wing conspiracy to help people in our country. It’s Trump’s and Republicans’ call now—and they do not like paying people what they are worth.

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Secret CIA assessment says Russia intervened not just to meddle but specifically to elect Trump

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 02:02:22 +0000

Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Greg Miller report that the CIA told “key senators” in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill last week that the agency’s intelligence has shown Russia intervened in the U.S. election with the “quite clear” intention of getting Donald Trump elected: 

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances. [...]

...intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees. Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability.

If Russia was the culprit it could have acted just like the Mafia. Or the FBI and CIA when they have people infiltrate leftist organizations and engage in black ops. You don't send capos or special agents, you outsource with contract labor, specifically to avoid producing intelligence tying you to the people doing your dirty work. That final sentence certainly applies in capitals other than Moscow. "Plausible deniability" was, after all, invented in America. 

Whatever the case, the American people deserve to know more details than provided by anonymous third-party sources quoted on Fridays. 

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Resisters have always been with us, and are too often ignored

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:23:30 +0000

Here is it December 8, a single month since the election, though it feels as if it happened far longer ago and simultaneously feels as raw and abrasive to our spirits and prospects as it did the minute we first learned the outcome.  

A political version of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—needs one addendum: Action. Everybody processes their feelings about the outcome of the election at their own unique pace. Some people get stuck in one of those first five stages. But it’s way too early to claim that people have been hanging around one of those stages for too long at this point. Some people just need more time than others. And for all but a few, the outcome was surprising as well as shocking, so shaking it off is going to last longer than it might otherwise.

The good news is that many people have moved on to the sixth stage and are not only pledging and planning resistance moves already, but they’re also engaging in them. Action, the cure for despair. Very encouraging. 

But as we see this commitment to fight emerge, we should not forget that the resistance isn’t something invented November 9. America’s history bristles with resistance. Every great reform was begun by resisters to the established order. Resistance has been a bit more prevalent recently than during some other periods. Occupy, Black Lives Matter, the fight for LGBTQ equality and dignity, the reproductive rights struggle, climate hawks, and the rising up of indigenous people in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico against the relentless plunder of their land all have resisters at work who didn’t start yesterday. 

Many of our Democratic leaders have in the past said disparaging things about such groups and the individual Americans in them when they ought to have been standing shoulder-to-shoulder with these resisters all along. Hurrah to those few in the Senate and the House who have spoken up. 

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Clinton communications director still pressing Trump's team to own its embrace of white supremacy

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:20:27 +0000

When Hillary Clinton's staffers faced Donald Trump's last week at a post-election forum, things got testy. In a Washington Post op-ed, Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's communications director, recalls the moment when Trump’s campaign manager asked her directly, "Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?”

I could have let it go last week when Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, challenged me to look her in the eye and say she ran a campaign that gave white supremacists a platform. I considered for a split second. I knew you were supposed to be gracious when you come for the post-election forum at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. But I decided this was a year where normal rules don’t apply. Speaking the truth was more important.

“It did. Kellyanne, it did,” I told her. It’s just a fact. Trump winning the election doesn’t change that. To my mind, his win makes it all the more important that the truth be acknowledged.

Palmieri obviously isn't letting this one go, and with good reason. She was right to call it for what it was, especially when no one in the Trump campaign has come anywhere close to admitting that they appealed to white supremacists, retweeted their propaganda, and have been openly celebrated by their leaders.

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Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Coke FRIDAY!

Sat, 10 Dec 2016 00:30:24 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

The Sith with the Tiny Hands

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens next Thursday night. I've waited 36 years to see the Imperial Walkers back in action, so you can bet your bantha butt I'm going to be among the first in line. Also showing up: Darth Vader. This parody by the Auralnauts is still funny as hell---Trump as the evil Sith Lord, surrounded by befuddled old generals and with his narcissism turned up to 11…

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

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Killing the estate tax would put billions in the pockets of Trump and his administration

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:35:25 +0000

President-elect Donald Trump campaigned hard on the ways in which he was going to help the middle class. But it’s the 0.2 percent of the country that pay the estate tax who are counting on him to get done what others could not: kill the “death tax.”

Under federal law, the tax, which is levied at a 40 percent rate, applies only to estates worth more than $5.45 million for individuals and $10.9 million for couples. Estates worth less than that may be passed on to heirs tax-free. Last year, just 0.2 percent of estates of people who died were subject to the tax, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington-based research group that’s a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

But, by eliminating the tax, many of those who’ve been nominated to serve in Trump’s cabinet, not to mention the president-elect himself, would be able to pass hundreds of millions, and in some cases billions of dollars, on to their estates, free of tax.

Since Trump’s election, House Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch have repeated their desire to repeal the estate tax. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have long supported its elimination. Passage in the Republican-led House is assured. In the Senate, a decade-long estate tax repeal can pass with 50 of 52 expected GOP senators under a special mechanism called reconciliation, while 60 votes could end it for good.

So, Dear Middle Class, you keep waiting for Trump to help you out, first on the list though will be his buddies in the administration.

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Of course Trump's cabinet picks are ridiculous—they're meant to be ridiculous—just like his campaign

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:21:04 +0000

Trump delivers outrage #1. The press breaks out its umbrage gear and goes in search for a fresh supply of high dudgeon. Trump delivers outrage #2. The press protests that they hadn’t even even finished calibrating their mordacity over outrage #1. Trump delivers outrage #3. The press drops #1 and hurries past #2 in an effort to catch up. Trump delivers outrages #4 through #117. The press wanders off in vexed vexation, chasing after first one story then the next like an inexperienced dingo confused by a herd of bouncing kangaroos.

Trump’s Gish Gallop was wildly successful during the campaign. It not only delivered Trump the White House, it kept the press from ever uniting around a story like his unlawful use of his foundation, or cheating his workers and contractors, or his ties to Russia. Each media outlet was kept so busy batting at the story of the day that few even bothered to dedicate reporters to any section of Trump’s outrage-scape. Hillary’s problem? She just didn’t do enough wrong.

Saying the worst thing imaginable, then following it up with something unimaginable, wasn’t just a winning strategy, it was an end run around both the logistics and the limits that are supposed to define a campaign.

Now Trump is engaged in filling out his cabinet. It’s a cabinet that includes an EPA chief who is suing the EPA, a secretary of education out to destroy public schools, and a labor secretary who wants to get rid of human workers. And that’s on top of putting a heap of generals in charge of defense positions that violate a long-standing ban on handing the military over to recently retired officers. Oh, and a fine selection from the same firm Trump treated as anathema during the campaign.

Trump’s cabinet is filling up with radical ideologues, science deniers, and spreaders of fake news; every one of them absolutely the worst choice for the position that could be located if NASA and the NSA worked together on the task for a decade. 

Which is, of course, the point. Because if just one or two candidates this awful were put forward, the press might dwell on the resounding lack of qualifications and utterly vile statements. The Senate—even Republicans in the Senate—might actually find their balls long enough to wave a hanky in protest.

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Cartoon: Republicans' safety net cuts

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 22:50:18 +0000

With a unified government, the Republicans can kill the last vestiges of the New Deal that survived Reaganomics and austerity. All of these programs are essential and help millions, but they are far from perfect. A smart opposition party would fight to expand and improve them.

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Minnesota's 2016 elections show both the promise and limits of nonpartisan redistricting reform

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:14:32 +0000

Minnesota is one of the rare states whose congressional and legislative districts were drawn in a nonpartisan way. Republicans controlled the legislature while Democrats held the governorship after the 2010 census, and the two sides were unable to reach a compromise on new maps. As a result, a court had to step in and draw the lines, and it did so without regard for the kind of partisan considerations that lawmakers would have put front and center. Consequently, an impressive five of the state’s eight congressional districts saw competitive races in 2016, a much higher proportion than we typically see elsewhere.

However, nonpartisan redistricting isn’t a perfect answer to gerrymandering, and as we’ll explain below, Minnesota illustrates how even a nonpartisan approach can give one party a majority of seats even if it receives fewer votes than the other party statewide.

Make no mistake, gerrymandering is a serious problem. After Republicans drew roughly 55 percent of congressional districts and Democrats just 10 percent in the most recent round of redistricting, Mitt Romney won a majority of congressional districts, even though President Obama won by nearly 4 percent nationally in 2012. Daily Kos Elections previously proposed nonpartisan congressional maps similar to Minnesota’s for every other state, and our analysis strongly suggests that gerrymandering cost Democrats control of the U.S. House in 2012. However, gerrymandering isn’t the entire root of the problem because geography matters, too.

That’s because Democrats are typically more geographically concentrated than Republicans. Cities like Minneapolis vote overwhelmingly Democratic, while rural areas and suburbs have a substantial yet more more modest Republican lean. Nonpartisan redistricting traditionally favors geographically compact districts, which means that such an approach can result in a handful of dark blue districts while a majority of seats favor Republicans by more modest margins.

And while gerrymandering is the graver problem, geography really does significantly hurt Democrats in certain states like Minnesota. Even though Donald Trump lost by 1.5 percent statewide, he still managed to carry five of the state's eight congressional districts—a majority—even with a non-gerrymandered map.

So let’s take a look at just how problematic it can be to have such a mismatch between which party wins the most votes and which wins the most districts.

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The fact-deniers persist: Nearly a third of Trump voters don't know he got trounced in popular vote

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:41:09 +0000

Ignorance is bliss, as they say. When Pew Research asked voters who won the popular vote, here’s what they found:

Nearly a third of Republicans either didn't answer or gave the wrong response when asked who actually got more national votes.

Wanh-wanh. Of course, Hillary Clinton leads Trump in the popular vote by about 2.7 million votes. Overall, she may even garner as many total votes as Barack Obama did in 2012: 65.9 million. 

But Trump has told his true believers that "millions" of Clinton's votes were cast "illegally," one of the endless string of fantastical lies he will tell over the course of his presidency. That germ has clearly infected most his voters, finds PPP.

60% of Trump voters think that Hillary Clinton received millions of illegal votes to only 18% who disagree with that concept and 22% who aren't sure either way. 

As for Americans who are actually showing signs of conscious living (including an aptitude for critical thinking), PPP finds they don't like the idea of the "president" being a popular-vote loser.

Voters don't think that Trump's Electoral College victory while losing the popular vote is really fair--50% think the candidate who receives the most votes nationally in the election should become President, to only 37% who disagree with that concept. 

Trump and his minions may not know it yet, but that's a huge problem for him. From the moment he's sworn in, a large swath of the population will immediately view him as illegitimate. Good luck with that.

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Harry Reid's final official warning: 'We're entering a new gilded age.'

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 21:05:52 +0000

On Thursday, Sen. Harry Reid gave his farewell to the Senate, an hour and 20 minutes of vintage, unplugged Reid in which he talked about what has been essential to him in his long life of public service: his home in Nevada; the love of his life; his wife Landra (he quoted 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli here, leaving no dry eyes in the chamber—"The magic of first love is that it never ends," Reid quoted. "I believe that. She’s my first love. It will never end."); the institution of the Senate; and public service itself.

He spoke about his young, hardscrabble life growing up in Searchlight, Nevada, and  recalled the most proud moment of his entire life, when he was in high school.

"There was no one to go to. I can remember my father having such a bad tooth ache, he—I watched him pull a tooth with a pair of pliers. My mother was hit in the face with a softball when she was a young woman in Searchlight, and it ruined her teeth. As I was growing up, I saw her teeth disappear. […]

I worked long hours in a service station. […] I worked really hard and long hours. I took all the hours they would give me. I saved up enough money, I had $250. I was going to buy my mother some teeth. And I went to a man, he was a bigshot. They named a school after him. He was on the school board in Las Vegas. He married this beautiful woman from Searchlight. I went to him. I never met him before. I told him who I am. His name was J.D. Smith. I said I wanted to buy my mother some teeth. He said I don't do credit here. He insulted me. So I went to Dr. Marshall of Henderson and bought my mother some teeth. It changed my mother's life. My mother had teeth.

He talked about his father's suicide.

"I can still remember seeing my dad on that bed, and I was so sad because my dad never had a chance. He was depressed always. He was reclusive. You know, I did things. He never came to anything that I did. I never felt bad that he didn't because I knew my dad. […] But I think everyone can understand a little bit of why I have been such an avid supporter of Obamacare, health care.

Reid didn't just have reminiscences, though. He had warnings. About money in politics, something he's railed against in his ongoing fight against the billionaire Koch brothers and their attempt to buy the government: "If this doesn’t change, and we don’t do something about this vast money coming into our elections, in a couple more election cycles, we’re going to be just like Russia. We’re going to have a plutocracy—a few rich guys telling our leader what to do."

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Man struggles, gasps in pain after another botched lethal injection

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:22:17 +0000

Ronald Smith was executed by lethal injection Thursday night in Alabama. Throughout the execution, Smith seemed to be in significant pain. Press in attendance reported that he "heaved and coughed through about 13 minutes." Two consciousness tests were apparently performed. It took him 34 minutes to die.

Smith was set to die at 6 PM, but was ultimately killed closer to midnight. The night was a flurry of appeals filed, temporary stays granted, and, ultimately, denials of the requests to block his execution.

In 1995, Smith was convicted of the murder of Casey Wilson, a convenience store clerk. His jury rejected a death penalty sentence, instead recommending life without parole. The judge overrode that recommendation, sentencing him to death instead.

In the last few weeks, Smith's attorneys had filed last minute appeals requesting a stay on his execution. In one appeal, they argued that the current three-drug method of lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. That request was denied by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Last Friday, Smith's attorneys made another attempt to prevent his execution, filing an appeal and a request for stay of execution with the U.S. Supreme Court. His attorneys argued that his sentencing was invalid because a judge had overridden the jury. From the Associated Press:

"Alabama is the only state that allows a judge to sentence a defendant to death when the jury has recommended a sentence of life," lawyers for Smith wrote in the petition, noting that Florida and Delaware abolished that capability this year.

His attorneys noted that three other cases were pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, all of which argue that Alabama's death penalty statute is unconstitutional.

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House Republicans introduce bill to slash Social Security, daring Trump to keep promise to save it

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:51:07 +0000

Donald Trump repeatedly promised in his campaign to leave Social Security alone, to make sure that the program would remain untouched for seniors and future retirees. House Republicans either didn't believe him, or figure they can roll him and push through legislation to undermine the most popular and effective government program in the nation's history. That's what Rep. Sam Johnson's (R-TX)—Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee—legislation would do. He calls it a "Plan to Permanently Save Social Security," but since it's coming from a Republican, you already know not to believe that.

It's not out-and-out privatization, but would so weaken the promise of it to eventually end up there. As Nancy Altman, founding co-director of Social Security Works, says:

"No one voted for massive cuts to Social Security, nor to end the program as we know it. Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to not touch Social Security. But the powerful Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee has just unveiled a proposal that would slash Social Security benefits and radically transform the program. The Johnson plan would gradually but inexorably turn Social Security from a program that replaces wages to one that produces essentially one flat benefit, independent of how much a worker contributed.

"Moreover, the proposal would reduce Social Security’s cost of living increases (COLAs) for everyone and eliminate them entirely for some, even though COLAs are already inadequate. And this radical plan would reduce benefits for spouses and children of workers so seriously disabled that they can no longer support their families."

It would raise the retirement age, too, which is a cut in and of itself for future beneficiaries. The Chief Actuary for Social Security analyzed the proposal and diving deep into the tables, it looks like the cuts start in 2023, relative to current benefits (that's just six years away, btw). By 2033, they'll be about 10 percent below what they'd be under current law, and basically just continue to decline. The promise of Social Security to future generations of Americans would be kaput. 

That's an important point, one reiterated by Josh Marshall. If you're still working, and have been paying Social Security "you've been paying in not only money for current beneficiaries but additional money which was invested in US government bonds to make it possible for Social Security to pay benefits of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers." This bill shows that Republicans plan to steal all that money that's been invested for your retirement in bonds. You won't ever see it. It's going to go to tax cuts for the rich.

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President Obama orders review of election hacking

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:28:55 +0000

Donald Trump may still be ignoring security experts, but President Obama is concerned enough about the intrusion of foreign agents into the election process to order a full review. 

In October, the intelligence community publicly blamed Russia for the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other political organizations this year, calling the cyberattacks an intentional effort to interfere with the U.S. election process. 

The report should be completed before Obama leaves office, so there won’t be an opportunity for Trump to squelch the results. President Obama will have wide support from Democrats in Congress.

The news comes as Democrats across Capitol Hill — plus Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — are clamoring for investigations into reported Russian hacking during the election.

There’s no doubt that the stream of emails hacked from the DNC were deliberately released in a way mean to foment conflict within the Democratic Party and depress Democratic votes, and other email stolen from private servers was given an enormous amount of attention from media (as well as conspiracy theorists) in the final days of the campaign.

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Midday open thread: Arctic ice at record lows; bridges not the only infrastructure needing work

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 20:00:19 +0000

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is Exclusive Audio: Trump Phone Calls!  • Sweden’s recycling is so revolutionary it has to import trash to keep its recycling plants running. •  xClinton gave Goldman Sachs a speech, Trump has given them the keys to the car. https://t.co/ukR4PLFt97— Matthew McGregor (@mcgregormt) December 9, 2016 • Largest battery storage system in the world will also be one of the fastest constructed in history: In August, San Diego Gas & Electric tapped energy storage company AES to install two energy storage projects totaling 37.5 [megawatts], 150 [megawatt-hours]. When completed, the larger, 120 MWh project is expected to be the single biggest lithium ion battery in service on a utility grid in the world.  Both battery facilities are expected to be online by the end of January 2017 — nothing short of miraculous in an industry where deploying assets, especially newfangled technologies, can take years.  • Kirk Douglas turns 100. • EPI promotes public investment in much broader range of infrastructure: A policy effort to boost public investment should include a broad portfolio of investments. “Core” infrastructure investments—building roads, bridges, transportation systems, water and sewer systems, and utility facilities—provide high rates of economic return. But so do many categories of noncore public investments, such as improving early child care and childhood education and investing in renewable energy and health care. Many of these noncore investments—particularly human-services investments—are at least as neglected as core infrastructure. This is particularly true if one considers the low pay in these sectors that impedes the development of a fully professionalized and motivated workforce. • Trump’s EPA pick thinks it’s okay for states to spew pollution but not to legalize pot. • Thousands of small, invisible oil spills are killing the Gulf of Mexico: Every year thousands of oil and chemical spills occur in waters around the country, but unless you live in a highly impacted area like Louisiana, you probably only hear about a handful of them. That’s partly because the Coast Guard classifies many spills—up to 100,000 gallons—as minor or moderate, and small spills get less of everything: less media attention, less regulation, less environmental impact assessment, and most critically, less funding to clean them up. It makes sense that not every greasy pelican is national news. But as a group, they probably should be. Oil is toxic. Oil spills, however small, have a cumulative environmental impact. But the regulations in place to prevent them are limited, and in some cases, absurd. For instance, the US Coast Guard basically relies on oil companies to use the honor system when reporting leaks. • You can find a larger, interactive version of the chart below by clicking here The latest chart from the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows late autumn ice in the Arctic at the lowest level in the satellite record, as shown by the red line. • On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Even more bigly conflicted & leveraged. But, whatevs! New frontiers in bribery: inaugural committees. Armando called it: Trump’s not really rich? Josie Duffy Rice highlights a report saying some 40% of our prison population could & should really be released. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon [...]



Trump's Carrier deal will help the company automate, phasing out more workers down the road

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:14:30 +0000

Donald Trump saved fewer Carrier jobs in Indiana than he originally claimed, and now it's clear that the company will use the money it promised to invest in the plant to trim even more jobs in the future. Aaron Rupar writes:

As part of the deal President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence struck with Carrier, the company has promised to make a $16 million investment in its Indianapolis facility — an investment management plans to use on developing technology that will allow them to replace human workers with robots.

The company’s plans were confirmed by Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies, Carrier’s corporate parent, during a CNBC interview earlier this week.

“We’re going to… automate to drive the cost down so that we can continue to be competitive,” Hayes said. “Is it as cheap as moving to Mexico with lower cost labor? No. But we will make that plant competitive just because we’ll make the capital investments there. But what that ultimately means is there will be fewer jobs.”

This deal stinks. First, Trump misled many of the workers who were actually losing their jobs into believing their jobs had been saved. Now we find out that Carrier's investment will lead to more layoffs. This is what Trump got good headlines for?

Anyone else feeling sick to their stomach?

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The gravy for Republicans in repealing Obamacare as fast as they can—the tax cut for the rich

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:25:13 +0000

One of the things Obamacare did, and did effectively, was pay for providing health insurance to millions by increasing taxes on a relative handful of high-income Americans. The fact that those tax hikes will go away along with health insurance for 30 million people helps explain why Republican leadership is hell-bent on doing it as soon as possible.

Two taxes that will be presumably axed with the law affect only those making $200,000 or more. The break the ACA repeal will bring to those taxpayers will amount to a $346 billion tax cut in total over 10 years, according to the CBO report on the 2015 repeal legislation GOP lawmakers say they’ll be using as their model next year.
 

As University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley pointed out on the Incidental Economist blog, this comes as Trump and his surrogates promised that any major tax cut for the rich will be offset by closing their deductions, which would not be the case with the cuts in the ACA repeal.

"That $346 billion represents about $1,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. Every cent will go into the pockets of people making more than $200,000 per year," Bagley wrote. […]
"Repealing the Affordable Care Act is a way to give wealthy people a fairly substantial tax cut without that necessarily being the largest headline," Harry Stein, the director of fiscal policy at the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, told TPM. […] “To me personally, that’s the best part about repealing Obamacare,” Ryan Ellis, former tax policy director for Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, told Politico. “Because on the health care side of it, you have this complicated ‘replace’ that you have to turn to after that, but on taxes, it’s all easy—it’s all dessert.”

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Trump's labor secretary loves immigrants, wants to tear down Trump's wall. Breitbart sad

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:34:15 +0000

Campaign Action

So how do you reward your crazy xenophobic base, the one that delivered a losing-yet-victorious ticket to the White House? The same base promised a glorious wall paid for by Mexico, so bigly that it would thwart the world’s tallest ladder AND the world’s biggest shovel? 

You reward them by sucker-punching them in the face

Let’s absorb the magnitude of the [Andrew] Puzder appointment. Trump’s signature issue was immigration restriction. Number 1.

He slammed hard the Bush family in general and Jeb Bush in particular as weak and low energy on immigration.

The Labor Department enforces immigration law in the workplace — the key way that immigration laws are enforced.

And the person Trump names to head Labor? Perhaps the most outspoken advocate of Bush-style immigration policy in US business community!

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Forget the presidential daily briefing, Trump is getting just one briefing a week

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:11:43 +0000

With all his other, more important jobs to worry about, and a busy schedule of attacking people on Twitter, Donald Trump doesn’t have a lot of time for intelligence briefings.

President-elect Donald Trump is receiving an average of one presidential intelligence briefing a week, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter, far fewer than most of his recent predecessors.  

It’s no wonder that Trump has decided to skip out on intelligence briefings. It’s not just that he’s busy using his new leverage to twist the arms of foreign leaders over real estate deals, and arranging ways for diplomats and lobbyists to show their love, and keeping up with his reality show duties. Trump has already said that he doesn't believe what the agencies are telling him.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe [Russia] interfered,” Trump told Time magazine in his “Person of the Year” interview, released Wednesday.

As it turns out, Trump isn’t actually the first US president who didn’t feel the need to review what the nation’s team of analysts and experts could suss out in the world. There was another who knew so much that he didn’t need anyone’s help.

… after his first election, Richard Nixon spurned face-to-face briefings, so paper PDBs were delivered to his office, only for a “stack” of them to be later returned to the CIA, unopened.

Apparently skipping briefings gives just the kind of detailed knowledge needed for a policy based around “bombing the hell” out of semi-random countries.

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Senate Democrats drive wedge between Trump, Republicans in government shutdown threat

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:57:21 +0000

Campaign Action

Donald Trump says he cares about coal miners and he says the nation should be using American-made steel and Senate Democrats are giving him the chance to prove it by promising a brief government shutdown on those issues. On Thursday, the House passed a continuing resolution to fund government through April of next year and then left for the holiday recess, but Senate Democrats aren't ready to start vacation, not until they actually help American workers.

About 12,500 former union miners and their families have been told their health benefits will lapse come Jan. 1, and an additional 10,000 are in danger of losing benefits at a later date. Many are also facing potential cuts to their retirement benefits due to declining coal companies being unable to make required contributions to pension funds. […]

[Sen. Joe] Manchin is demanding a vote on an amendment to extend miners’ medical benefits for one year. The spending bill includes a four month extension, which critics of the proposal say is inadequate.

Democrats are playing up Trump’s support for coal country as they try to pressure Republicans.

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Pam Bondi would like her unconstitutional death penalty law back, please

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 02:45:29 +0000

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is unwilling to accept the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that the state's death penalty statute is unconstitutional. The court's October ruling that only a unanimous jury may sentence a defendant to death was one of the most important death penalty cases in years. The ruling essentially ended the death penalty in the state ranked fourth in total executions. Now Bondi is taking things a step further by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

From the Miami Herald:

The state plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit a landmark case in which justices struck down as unconstitutional Florida’s death-penalty sentencing procedure because it gave too much power to judges, instead of juries. […]

The state is objecting to the Florida court’s interpretation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in January in [Hurst v. Florida], according to the document filed Friday in Escambia County.

Before Hurst v. Florida, the Florida death penalty statute required only that a simple majority of the jury recommend the death penalty. A judge then weighed the aggravating factors against the mitigating ones and either affirmed or override the recommendation.

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Trump, who buys foreign and hires foreign, tells America: 'Buy American, hire American'

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:03:08 +0000

The level of hypocrisy is just unconscionable, which is exactly why it's perfectly fitting for art-of-the-steal hypocrat Donald Trump. Not only did Trump fail to lift a finger this week to stop congressional Republicans from stripping the “Buy America” provision from a water infrastructure bill, he also made headlines this week for getting waivers to hire more foreign workers at his Mar-a-Lago resort when there's hundreds of qualified Floridians available to fill those jobs. 

But when he got on stage Thursday in front of a crowd of his fact-repellant followers, he knew they would take whatever load of crap he served up. Deniella Diaz reports:

Donald Trump spotlighted his economic goals Thursday, using the third stop on his "thank you" tour to reassure Americans that he'd bring back jobs to the United States and pushed a message for companies and countries around the world: "Buy American, hire American."

"The American worker built this country and now it's time for American workers to have a government for the first time in decades answers to them," Trump said at his rally.

Trump's only clear economic "goal" is to line his own pockets while selling himself as the champion of the very same working class Americans he's selling down the river. And if any of his supporters could ever tear themselves away from Breitbart News and Infowars long enough to let a tiny crack of light penetrate their brains, they might figure that out. Until that time, they'll just keep lapping up whatever Trump's spewing while he laughs all the way to bank.  

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Trump's transition team crafting a new blacklist—for anyone who believes in climate change

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:36:05 +0000

Newt Gingrich urged Trump to revive Joseph McCarthy’s HUAC Committee, but it appears Trump means to do better than that.

The Trump transition team is already building a blacklist at the Department of Energy.

The transition team has asked the agency to list employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules. 

Don’t expect the Congress to be any help in heading off Trump’s climate McCarthyism.

The questions about the social cost of carbon dovetail with similar, so-far-unsuccessful requests from Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have also sought information about the analysis underpinning that policy and the people who helped develop it.

Are you now, or have you ever been, a believer in climate change? 

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Dear Republicans, Democrats are not going to save your sorry asses on Obamacare repeal

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 15:09:01 +0000

Republicans—who are still squabbling over how to do Obamacare repeal and haven't even begun fighting over replacement—still think Democrats will somehow save their bacon. Democrats continue to tell them to get fucked.

Republicans plan to put the squeeze on Democrats by warning that they will take the blame if ObamaCare disappears and the 20 million people who have gained coverage from the law have nowhere to go.

"When that day came and you did nothing, if you want to play politics, I think the blame would go to people who didn't want to do anything," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters last week.

Just let that sink in for a moment. A unified Republican government—White House, Senate, House of Representatives—destroys a critical program helping millions of people, unilaterally. They break it. And they believe it's up to the minority to do the actual governing to clean up the mess? This is what they think their job is. Blowing up shit then making Democrats clean up their shit. Which isn't going to happen this time. 

"We're not going to do a replacement," [incoming Democratic leader Chuck] Schumer said. "If they repeal without a replacement, they will own it. Democrats will not then step up to the plate and come up with a half-baked solution that we will partially own. It's all theirs." […]

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called it an "absolute fantasy" that Republicans would come up with a replacement that covers 20 million people with the same level of protections for people with preexisting conditions.

"There is absolutely no replacement coming," Murphy said. "If they want to repeal this, it's not coming back."

If Republicans are looking to scare vulnerable Democrats who are up for reelection in two years into helping it's not working. Here's Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO): "It's so incredibly irresponsible to forward the notion that they have been preaching repeal and replace, repeal and replace, and they're going to repeal without telling the American people what the replace is? […] First things first, put on the table what the replace is going to be and once they've done that, then I'll be happy to comment on it."

Not. Going. To. Happen.

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Cartoon: Exclusive Audio: Trump Phone Calls!

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 14:50:18 +0000

When President-elect Trump called scores of world leaders, US diplomats thought transcripts of the actual calls were parodies. (He used “fantastic” three times in one sentence when talking with the leader of Pakistan.) Turns out, the transcripts were real. It may finally be sinking into everyone’s head, the rest of the world included, that Trump is Trump and he’s not going to change because of winning the nomination, the presidency or taking office.  

This guy is winging it, an amateur who thinks he’s an expert. Judging by his cabinet picks, we’re in for a very interesting ride and are continuing apace to the Apocalypse. When I read about the calls Trump made as part of his first foray into international diplomacy, I couldn’t resist releasing some exclusive audio.

One particularly interesting fact is that the President-elect’s call to Taiwan was not a goofy gaffe as most of the media initially reported, but a concerted effort of lobbying by Bob Dole’s firm acting as foreign agents for Taiwan. (At 93, apparently Bob Dole has decided he wants to be remembered as a foreign agent for Taiwan.) Enjoy the cartoon and be sure to visit me on my Patreon page!

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Being president is a part time job—Trump to remain as executive producer on The Apprentice

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:45:49 +0000

According to Donald Trump, the president can't have a conflict of interest. Trump can not only run his business, and the country, from the same desk, he can treat the United States as just another part of that business. He already had 516 companies. Trump United States will fit right onto the list—at the bottom. After all, being president is no big deal if you don't bother with intelligence briefings and just go with your gut.

Which means Trump has plenty of time to keep his position as executive producer on The Apprentice.

Although Mr. Trump is not starring in NBC’s coming season of “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” the president-elect is still involved: Mr. Trump will be credited as one of the show’s executive producers, a spokeswoman for Mark Burnett, the creator of the “Apprentice” franchise, said on Thursday.

Donald Trump will have another paying job at the same time that he is president. Or rather, he has other jobs, and isn’t about to let this little gig as president get in the way.

For NBC, which nurtured Mr. Trump’s celebrity until he left the show in 2015 to pursue a presidential bid, the fact that the president-elect stands to profit from the program could raise concerns about how a politically polarized audience may react to one of its biggest prime-time shows.

Sure. NBC could be worried about how having an unpopular president behind one of their shows could affect ratings. Though NBC doesn’t seem to be worried about their own totally conflict-free role of reporting on a president who also happens to be a producer on “one of its biggest prime-time shows.”

Sign the petition. NBC should tell Donald Trump "You're Fired!"

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Morning Digest: New Pew report shows how middle-class areas swung away from Democrats in 2016

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:00:16 +0000

Leading Off

Demographics: Pew's landmark study from a year ago that looked at the changing composition of the middle class over the decades has become an interesting lens through which we can look at the 2016 presidential election. Pew's definition of middle class was "between two-thirds of and twice the national median size-adjusted household income," and, despite the conventional wisdom that declines in the manufacturing sector were wreaking havoc in one-time manufacturing-centered communities, the metro areas with the largest percentage of residents still in the middle class leaned heavily toward those mid-sized Rust Belt cities. (For instance, the top three percentage-wise—Wausau, Janesville, and Sheboygan—were all in Wisconsin.)

So now, Pew has matched up the list of metro areas by middle class percentage with the 2016 election results, and, as you probably anticipated given the "Rust Belt" descriptor, the places with the largest "middle class" communities are some of those that swung the hardest in the GOP direction. The question remains, though, whether they swung precisely because of their middle-classness, or because of other variables (those communities' heavy whiteness, or perhaps just tactical factors like the Clinton campaign's lack of investment in the upper Midwest for most of the campaign). Conversely, Hillary Clinton held ground or even gained in many metro areas that are disproportionately lower-class (which tend to be smaller Sun Belt cities with a large Hispanic population) or upper-class (which includes some of the largest cities).

Of the 57 predominantly middle class metros that Pew breaks out, Donald Trump defended all 27 of the ones won by the GOP in 2008, but Clinton lost 18 of the 30 that the Democrats won that year. Those experiencing the biggest swing to the GOP in the 2008-16 period are Johnstown, PA; Muskegon, MI; Michigan City, IN; Wausau, WI; and Monroe, MI.

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Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:30:26 +0000

Happy Friday! We made it! What’s it, like, 200 Fridays until the next presidential election or something? Cake! Friday’s a good day to clean out the story vaults, and of course, to cap things off with a visit from Josie Duffy Rice, just to throw you a little weekend change-up! Are you ready? That makes one of us! Listen LIVE right here at 9:00 AM ET! Well, we went ahead and did it. We “went commercial.” Sort of. That is, we turned on ads in the YouTube version of our podcasts. So everyone here should make a point of going there, “watching” the podcasts, and clicking on all the ads, or whatever it is you have to do to make money magically appear in our account. The YouTube channel is actually a remarkably easy way of listening to the podcast on your mobile device, too. And we might even make a dollar! Don’t want to play that game? Well, there’s always good, old fashioned donations! Please consider  subscribing to provide ongoing, monthly support via Patreon. Not sold yet? Surely the below FREE SAMPLE of our show will convince you! x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon If you didn’t catch KITM “live” today on one of the many fine providers of Netroots Radio programming, you can still enjoy our podcasts on YouTube! Click on a bunch of ads while you’re there, would it kill ya? David Waldman reaches deep into his bag of Christmas Zeitgeist to find a story about a lad, fat-shamed by Santa Claus. One of Trump’s earliest supporters and biggest donors, Linda McMahon is tagged to head the Small Business Administration, which sure seems like pay to play. Donald Trump’s conflicts of interests remain, and will continue, and shall expand for eternity, give or take $6 million here or there. It’s not like we didn’t know that long before now. Trump’s side job, the Presidency, continues for the time being. Dana Rohrabacher hones his Secretary of State skills cross-examining Moldovians. A guy knows the truth about John Wayne and “safe spaces”. When gun owners get greater protections in employment than anybody in the LGBT community, is it time to arm the LGBT community? For every criminal killed in self-defense with a gun, 34 innocent people die. Van Jones believes Trump sucks worse than people even know, but places Trump’s followers in a basket of adorables. Hillary Clinton wins, and continues to win. Let’s talk about the double standard against liberal legitimacy in our politics, and discuss Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead. David continues on the details of January 3, High Noon. A lot hinges on Joe Biden, as usual. (Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold. [...]



Abbreviated pundit roundup: Trump's attack on union leader Chuck Jones is backfiring

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 12:30:18 +0000

Gideon Resnick at The Daily Beast details the reaction to Donald Trump’s attacks on union leader Chuck Jones: [O]n Thursday, a number of unions throughout the country, who had kept close watch on the situation, expressed disappointment and anger with a future leader of the free world using his position to bash one of their own. After all, Trump put up the best numbers in union households since Ronald Reagan won his second term in 1984. “The attacks on Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, must stop immediately,” Elaine Kim, of 32BJ SEIU, the largest building service workers union in the country, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Jones was doing his job defending working men and women and the families that depend on them by speaking out and sharing the facts about the deal with Carrier. To attack Jones and his family is not only beyond the pale but anti-worker and un-American. To speak the truth is a freedom generations of Americans died for, and worth defending today and forever. We call on those who cherish that freedom, including those in positions of influence, to join us in standing with Chuck Jones, loudly and publicly.” The message of solidarity was apparently heard loud and clear. Steven Greenhouse at The Los Angeles Times is up with an excellent takedown of Trump: In Trump’s two tweets, it was unclear whether he was blaming Jones, the steelworkers union or unions in general for the fact that companies were fleeing the country. It was a doubly confused attack because the Donald J. Trump Collection, which is nonunion, has had many shirts produced in Bangladesh and China and suits made in India and China.  Moreover, Trump was wrong to suggest that it’s only unionized factories that flee the country. American companies have also closed many nonunion factories — think apparel and furniture — and outsourced those operations. Trump’s second tweet had an enigmatic phrase: “spend more time working-less time talking.” There, it was ambiguous whether he was referring to the steelworkers union or to unionized workers in general. If he meant the latter, by asserting that Midwestern workers toil too little and talk too much, he was essentially insulting many of the blue-collar workers who voted for him.  If Trump was saying the union itself should spend less time talking, that seems to contradict his assertion that the steelworkers hadn’t done enough to save the Carrier plant. To save it, the union presumably would have needed to talk more, not less, with Carrier. [...]



Open thread for night owls: AFL-CIO votes overwhelmingly in support of Keith Ellison for DNC chair

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 04:00:19 +0000

The AFL-CIO endorses Keith Ellison for DNC chairman. The union federation is the nation’s largest, representing 12.5 million workers. Here’s the federation’s statement: The Executive Council of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO has voted overwhelmingly to endorse Representative Keith Ellison to lead the Democratic National Committee. Over the last few weeks, several candidates have sought the endorsement of the AFL-CIO and met personally with members of the Political Committee, which ultimately recommended the endorsement. “Representative Ellison meets the high standard working people expect from leaders of our political parties,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “He is a proven leader who will focus on year-round grassroots organizing to deliver for working families across America. Under his leadership, the Democratic Party will embody the values that our members stand for every day.” "The AFL-CIO knows the challenges facing America’s working families and how to speak to working Americans of all colors, genders, and backgrounds,” said Ellison. “I am proud to be on their side and I am even prouder that the AFL-CIO is on mine. Workers will be central to the Democratic Party.” Representative Ellison was grateful for the endorsement: "There simply is no stronger voice for working people than the AFL-CIO, which represents 12 million workers in every section of our country. [...] I am proud to have their endorsement for DNC Chair. For decades, they have organized and won higher wages, safer working conditions and the right to a seat at the table to bargain collectively. They believe, as I do, that America’s workers do best when they get organized. The right-wing knows this too. That’s why it's spent years rolling back labor protections, lowering wages, and making it harder to join a union. The AFL-CIO knows the challenges facing America’s working families and how to speak to working Americans of all colors, genders, and backgrounds. I am proud to be on their side and I am even prouder that the AFL-CIO is on mine. Workers will be central to the Democratic Party.” Here’s a list of union endorsements for Ellison:  AFL-CIO Lee Saunders, DNC Member/President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers J. David Cox Sr., President of the American Federation of Government Employees Chris Shelton, President of Communications Workers of America Lawrence Hanley, President, Amalgamated Transit Union  Mark Dimondstein, President, American Postal Workers Union RoseAnn DeMoro, Executive Director of National Nurses United Tim Paulson, Executive Director of the San Francisco Labor Council United Steelworkers International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers HIGH IMPACT STORIES • TOP COMMENTS  TWEET OF THE DAY xI stand w #ChuckJones who's spent his union career fighting for the working class. 7 million dollar tax breaks are NOT a long term solution— Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) December 8, 2016 BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily K[...]



Fake news creators aren't concerned about real victims

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:25:21 +0000

In 2012, Lenny Ponzer lost his 6-year-old son, Noah, in the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That may seem like enough suffering for a dozen lifetimes, but it wasn’t the last burden heaped on Ponzer. Soon he was getting calls from a man in Florida, an actual university professor, accusing him of being part of a “hoax” in which Ponzer was a hired actor and his son never existed. When Ponzer complained about the professor, events took an even darker turn. He began to receive death threats.

“You’re gonna die you [expletives and slurs deleted],” he heard.  “… And what are you going to do about it?

“You can do absolutely nothing. … this is coming to you real soon [expletive deleted]. You going to die,” and “You [expletive deleted] look behind you, justice is coming to you real soon.”

 A 57-year-old Florida woman was charged on Wednesday with making the death threats, but the conspiracy theory that fueled her hatred is still out there—most notably at sites controlled by Donald Trump’s friend and admirer, Alex Jones.

Why are fake news sites pumping up these elaborate conspiracy theories even though they put actual people at actual risk? Just ask the woman behind 'Pizzagate.'

“I really have no regrets and it’s honestly really grown our audience,” she said.

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Gen. Barry McCaffrey withdraws support of Trump national security advisor, calls for investigation

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:30:28 +0000

General Barry McCaffrey tells NBC News that he was initially supportive of Donald Trump’s decision to name Lt. General Michael Flynn as his national security advisor. But, a closer look at Flynn’s social media use shows that he sent out at least 16 different fake (propaganda) news stories via social media and General McCaffrey pulled no punches, bluntly calling the tweets and stories “demented.”

The Trump transition team is also rightly getting criticism for allowing Lt. General Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, to not only take part in the transition team, but to seek out security clearance for him when his own social media has shown him to be prolifically disseminating utterly false and outrageous politically motivated news. (You can watch a smarmy Mike Pence evade Jake Tapper's pointed questions about Flynn, Jr.'s security clearance six different times by clicking here.) One of those fake stories prompted a man to walk into a pizza place and fire his high-powered gun to personally “investigate” the child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton that Flynn was tweeting about to his followers. Which, of course, wasn’t happening.  

General Barry McCaffrey went on to say that “we need to aggressively examine what was going on” with Lt. General Michael Flynn and his son. Hear, hear! 

In short, Lt. General Flynn’s outrageous peddling of fake news and/or propaganda should be disqualifying. Period. End story.

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For a second time, judge won't toss Trump Florida golf club lawsuit

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 16:19:02 +0000

If President-elect Donald Trump thought he could waive a magic want and make all his legal troubles disappear after the election, he was wrong. On Wednesday a U.S. District Court Judge refused to toss a 2013 lawsuit against Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter, Florida.

Club members say Trump hasn’t returned an estimated $6 million to members of his country club off Donald Ross Road. Trump bought the club from the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa for $5 million in 2012.

When the Ritz owned it, deposits ranging from $35,000 to $210,000 were refundable. But once Trump bought the club, some club members say Trump changed the rules and refused to return their deposits.

This is the second time U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra denied Trump’s request to throw out the case; he did so for the first time in July. The trial was held in August and judgement still awaits.

Donald Trump sent a Dec. 17, 2013, letter to club members that is a key piece of evidence in the case. In that letter, Trump said Ritz members could “opt in” to his new club, in exchange for agreeing their memberships were nonrefundable.

If members weren’t interested in opting in, and they remained on a club resignation list, Trump said he didn’t want them, anyway.

“You’re probably not going to be a very good club member … you’re out,” Trump wrote in the letter. “As the owner of the club, I do not want them to utilize the club nor do I want their dues.”

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Incoming Republican labor chair says organized labor has 'lost its reason for being'

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 02:00:20 +0000

The Republican Party is not so much a political party these days as an extended experiment in self-trepanation.

The incoming chair of the congressional panel that oversees labor issues on Monday questioned the need for unions and said she wants to repeal various Obama administration labor policies.

Organized labor has “sort of lost its reason for being” because of the many laws in place to protect workers, said Representative Virginia Foxx, a 73-year-old Republican from North Carolina who will become chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce in January, in a telephone interview with Reuters

Other things that the new Republican Congress believes have lost their reason for being: environmental laws, political ethics laws, public schools, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, civil rights legislation, the press, a Supreme Court that rules in any manner other than the one they prefer, and all remaining sense of shame.

Everyone will need to invest in a sturdy pair of shoes because it seems the only way we're going to keep intact any American progress from the post-Civil War era onward is to surround Republican offices in such numbers that they won't be able to reach their own front doors.

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Harry Reid has no regrets about filibuster reform

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 19:01:40 +0000

It took Harry Reid a lot of convincing by activists that getting rid of the filibuster was a worthy goal. But it was, he insists in a farewell interview in Politico, and he doesn't regret it. Furthermore, it needs to continue to be whittled away, he says. “I don’t know if it’s my biggest achievement, but I’m satisfied we did it. We had to. Look at why it was done,” said Reid, who turned 77 this month. “We got almost 100 judges approved … we saved the integrity of different agencies of government. No, think of what our country would’ve been without that.” Reid predicted that the 60-vote filibuster threshold for legislation and for Supreme Court nominees will ultimately disappear altogether—calling it a natural evolution of the chamber. The rules are “going to erode, it’s just a question of when,” Reid said. “You can’t have a democracy decided by 60 out of 100, and that’s why changing the rules is one of the best things that has happened to America in a long time. It’s good for us, it’s good for them.” He's right, and filibuster reform will continue to be something we fight for. That's not to argue, however, that Democrats shouldn't take advantage of every opportunity they have in the meantime to, as Reid says, "do 'everything in their power' to block 'wacky' Supreme Court nominees and to not be 'complicit' in supporting GOP priorities like tax cuts for the rich and repealing Obamacare." Ending the filibuster is ultimately as important a democratic reform as doing away with the electoral college. If Reid's accomplishment of partially nuking the filibuster has done anything it's demonstrated that there is good reason for flexibility and forward thinking in our institutions in working toward more democratic ideals. He made what had been dismissed for years as a wacky idea cooked up by a blogger (our own David Waldman) into a reality. Where it goes in the immediate future isn’t clear. There are some good reasons for Mitch McConnell to keep it around for at least the next two years—he would avoid a big fight with some of his senior members who want to keep it; he’d have a handy excuse for not doing radical and potentially very unpopular things—the Democrats didn’t let him do it; and thus he would have more of a check against an unpredictable and wacky president and Republican House. In the long run, however, Reid is right. It’s going to end, and Senate leaders are going to have to figure out how to govern more responsibly without this parliamentary trick. [...]



Trump still defending Russian hackers as he accepts 'Person of the Year' award

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 18:41:49 +0000

When DNC emails were stolen just before the Democratic convention, the website Ars Technica looked into it. Their conclusion? It was a Russian hack.

Guccifer 2.0 … left behind fingerprints implicating a Russian-speaking person with a nostalgia for the country's lost Soviet era.

The cyber security firm Threat Connect looked into it. Their conclusion? It was a Russian hack.

A new analysis released by security consulting firm ThreatConnect has marshaled more evidence to prove that hackers linked to the Russian government communicated with journalists about the leaked documents.

Security firms CrowdStrike, Fidelis, Mandiant, and SecureWorks looked into it, as did a UK expert. What did they conclude? It was a Russian hack. More than that,16 different security agencies inside the United States government looked into it and concluded that it was a Russian hack.

There’s just one person who isn't convinced.

“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe [Russia] interfered,” Trump told Time magazine in his “Person of the Year” interview, released Wednesday.

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Trump goes off on Carrier workers who lost their jobs: They should have spent 'more time working'

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 19:02:18 +0000

As yet another reminder, this is not even remotely Freaking Normal:

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In this tweet, the president-elect of the United States is calling out the workers who lost their Carrier jobs overseas by telling them they should have spent "more time working" and "less time talking."

This is not normal. This is deranged. This is the sort of thing that you and I and every goddamn dog in America know, if it had been said by Clinton, or Bush, or Obama would have been front goddamn page goddamn news in every paper in America. This is the president himself attacking an individual group of workers who just got told most of them will be losing their jobs. (And is an unsubtle attempt to bust their union, or at least cast it as "lazy" on the national stage.)

Those white working class voters that seemingly half the reporters in America were going on about, just two weeks ago? This is what Donald J. Trump thinks of them. In public. As "presidential" statement.

And the reason he's telling these specific workers that it's their own damn fault they lost their jobs to outsourcing is because the local union leader had unkind things to say about Donald Trump, which is all it takes for Donald J. Trump, soon to be president, to lose his fucking mind in public.

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Republicans under pressure to continue the Obamacare 'bailouts' they've railed against

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:52:03 +0000

The very act of repealing Obamacare is going to create chaos for the whole healthcare sector, but mostly in the health insurance market under the program. Even with the promise of a replacement plan a few years down the line (and does anybody believe that after six years of promises, there will ever be a replacement from Republicans?) the uncertainty of yanking the rug out from under insurers is creating a lot of headaches for everybody. That includes Republicans who are now forced into making good on all of their outlandish promises. And they are under a lot of pressure from the insurance industry to keep and strengthen the measures that they've been calling a "bailout" for insurers. “We may have to agree to do something for a two- to three-year period that we normally wouldn’t do in the long-term to make sure we give people the relief,” [Sen. Lamar] Alexander (R-TN), [the chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee,] told TPM Wednesday, though he had previously said “let’s just see” when asked if that included any taxpayer funded programs. [...] “Some Republicans latched on to risk stabilizing programs as bailouts for insurers,” said Larry Levitt, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “The context was many insurers were losing money because more sick people than anticipated signed up and so Republicans have tried to frame these risk stabilization measures as bailing out insurers that were unprofitable under the ACA, and in the sense bailing out the ACA.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), for instance, made his signature cause attacking the ACA's temporary risk corridors program, which shifted funds from plans that pay out less than expected in claims to plans that pay out more than expected. Republicans slipped language into a must-pass 2014 funding bill that blocked the government from using Health and Human Services funding to make up the shortfall in the program. Now ironically, this and other ACA risk programs could help ease a transition that health care policy experts warn will cause major disruption no matter which alternative Republicans eventually settle on. “This environment creates a lot of uncertainty for insurers, so the programs that Republicans called bailouts before may be useful in this chaotic period,” Levitt said. [...]



The new secretary of labor doesn't just hate labor—he has it in for human beings

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:33:02 +0000

You might expect Donald Trump to appoint an EPA chief who hates the environment, a secretary of education who hates public schools, and a dingo to watch over your baby. But Trump’s choice for secretary of labor goes beyond just hating unions and hating the minimum wage. He hates people.

"I want to try it," CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider of his automated restaurant plans. "We could have a restaurant that's focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person."

Job losses due to automation already far exceed those lost to trade, and they're about to get worse with millions of retail jobs and transportation jobs likely to be lost in the next few years. But Puzder’s response to calls to raise the minimum wage isn’t to provide more incentives or training to improve his work force, it’s a threat to make his greasy, drippy-cheese burgers with an all-robot staff.

"This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage," says Puzder. "Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?"

Puzder could take a slight cut to his $4.5 million base salary—which works out to about 300 times that of his workers. But no, the man just loves him some robots.

[Machines are] always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.

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California cities and schools continue steps to protect undocumented immigrants from Trump

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 01:29:41 +0000

A California city tucked in conservative Orange County, California, officially became a "sanctuary city" Tuesday when Santa Ana officials passed a resolution to shield its undocumented immigrants from federal immigration officials. Jessica Kwong writes:

Council members voted 5-0 Tuesday in favor of adopting a sanctuary resolution that requires the city to strengthen various policies that already exist to further protect residents.

Those policies include prohibiting the use of city resources for immigration enforcement, reaffirming commitment to preventing biased-based policing, exercising maximum discretion in policing, protecting sensitive information, and providing training for affected employees, officials and agents.

The council is also considering going beyond the resolution to pass an ordinance, which would be legally binding on city officials.

Elsewhere in California, local school districts are actively working to ease the anxiety of their many immigrant students. Mike McPhate writes:

The automated voice mail went out to every public school parent in San Francisco.

“We are committed to providing a safe space for learning for each and every one of our students, including recent immigrants regardless of immigration status. We will continue to uphold San Francisco’s sanctuary city for all immigrants.” [...]

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Alaska just passed automatic voter registration at the ballot box. A ton of other states can, too.

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 19:13:59 +0000

Five states (plus Washington, D.C.) recently passed laws or instituted new procedures to implement automatic voter registration, but when Alaska became the sixth such state last month, it was the first to do so at the ballot box. This success offers an important way forward for progressives, because Republicans have been almost implacably hostile to the concept of registering more voters. And with the GOP now dominating state governments at a rate not seen since the Civil War era, activists need to find creative ways to get around Republican obstructionism. But the good news is that many states could use ballot initiatives to overcome GOP opposition and implement automatic registration just like Alaska did. A little history: In 2015, Oregon became the first state in the union to start automatically registering every eligible voter who interacts with a variety of state agencies, such as the department of motor vehicles, unless they affirmatively opt out. This approach doesn’t touch every unregistered voter, but it’s gone a long way toward expanding the registered voter pool. In fact, Oregon saw nearly 250,000 automatic voter registrations ahead of the 2016 elections, and more than 100,000 people registered that way turned out to vote. Those are big numbers in a state with a voting-age population of about 3 million, but the potential reach of such laws could go much further. By some estimates, national automatic registration could add roughly 50 million voters to the rolls, and top Democratic leaders like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have endorsed it. Of course, Republican lawmakers stridently oppose automatic registration in a transparent effort to make voting more difficult. And their reasons are as cynical as they come: Eligible non-voters tend to have more progressive views than registered voters, so Republicans see higher turnout as a threat to their power, democracy be damned. As you can see in the map at the top of this post, though, citizens can circumvent GOP intransigence in a whole lot of states. In fact, the 20 states shaded in green are home to 98 million people—almost a third of the entire country—and that includes battleground states like Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Nevada. These states alone would add millions of voters to the rolls if they implemented automatic registration. Many of our peer democracies today automatically register everyone who is eligible, and even now, North Dakota doesn’t have voter registration. All that eligible voters have to do there is prove their residency and affirm their citizenship—and voter fraud in North Dakota is still practically nonexistent. When the incoming Trump administration has signaled its support for a new wave of voter suppression laws, automatic registra[...]



Senate Democrats demand Republicans add healthcare protections for miners to must-pass spending bill

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:46:59 +0000

Campaign Action The House has passed the continuing resolution that will fund the government until the end of April, 326-96, in the last vote of this session. Probably. There's a major hiccup on the Senate side. GOP leaders are confident the bill will head to the president’s desk in time to avoid a government shutdown on Saturday. The Senate is expected to take up the funding bill Friday, but delays are possible because of last-minute Democratic demands to protect retirement and health funds for thousands of coal miners.   A trio of Democratic senators from the heart of coal country are threatening to hold up the bill until miners receive a “permanent” fix for both healthcare and [pension] benefits. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) warned they could keep Congress in town until Christmas.  The bill, released Tuesday night, includes an extension of healthcare benefits for miners and their families. That new funding would last until the short-term funding bill expires at the end of April, and it doesn’t include retirement benefits. […] As Brown left a Democratic caucus meeting Thursday, he said Democrats are "united" behind demanding one year of healthcare benefits. Senate GOP leaders, however, have stood firm behind the current language. The House Appropriations Chairman, Hal Rogers (R-KY), who also wanted this permanent fix for healthcare and retirement benefits says it's not in the bill because of Senate Republican leadership (maybe they're already trying to fuck over those three Democrats, all up for re-election in 2018). Rogers gave in because "we can’t let the government shut down." Sure they can, they've done it before. But it doesn't have to shut down, of course. The Senate can make changes before Saturday and the House can just approve them via unanimous consent. They wouldn't even have to return to DC to do it. There's another issue: the "Buy America" provision that House Republican leadership stripped from a second bill that will come up next week on water resources. That's the provision requiring that American-made iron and steel products be used in infrastructure projects. Sen. Chuck Schumer, de facto Democratic leader, said that he's going to vote against the spending bill unless these two issues are addressed. How telling is it that when Republicans shut down government it’s to try to take health care away from people, and when Democrats threaten to do it it’s to actually help people get health care? And jobs and pensions, to boot. [...]



Trump wants to read your messages. Download Signal to thwart him

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 17:30:46 +0000

When President Barack Obama won, conservatives stocked up on guns and ammunition which were never taken away. Now, with big-time popular-vote loser Donald Trump headed to the White House thanks to our bullshit undemocratic system, people are stocking up on different things, such as health care, and … communication encryption tools.  By the time you finish reading this column, you would be foolish not to download the messaging app Signal onto your smartphone and computer. The free encrypted messaging service has won the acclaim of security researchers and privacy advocates, including Edward J. Snowden. All have said that Signal goes above and beyond other chat tools in keeping electronic communications private [...] Some people have already cottoned on to this. Signal experienced a 400 percent jump in daily downloads since Mr. Trump won the election, according to Moxie Marlinspike, who founded Open Whisper Systems, the nonprofit that developed Signal. To Mr. Marlinspike, the surge in downloads reflects anxiety among Americans about the implications of Mr. Trump’s presidency for personal privacy. This is consumer-friendly encryption, working like any other messenger apps. So if you know how to message, you can use this app without worrying about complicated tech. In fact, the Signal tech is open source, and has been incorporated into several apps like WhatsApp and Google Messenger. But none are as secure as Signal itself. My biggest gripe about it is the lack of a Mac desktop app, since I actually do most of my chatting on my computer. There is an extension for Chrome, but I prefer Safari, so that doesn’t work so great for me. Also, I can’t install it on both my phone and iPad, though support for multiple devices is coming soon (supposedly). On the other hand, you can even make secure encrypted voice calls on Signal, which is pretty awesome.  The security ramifications of our incoming neo-fascist president (not to mention Russian hackers, malicious Wikileaks, etc.) are severe enough that I’ll definitely be conducting my chatting and voice calls on Signal. You can download the app, which is free, here.  [...]