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Published: Tue, 25 Jul 2017 00:28:12 +0000

Last Build Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2017 00:28:12 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



Democrats may finally be seizing on a moment rife with opportunity—let's see if they deliver

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 20:07:48 +0000

Democrats appear to have finally recognized the opportunity that is staring them in the face. After riding a populist wave of anger to office, a fatally flawed Republican president is readily tossing aside those that brung him in a seemingly limitless quest to feed his insatiable ego. In the meantime, on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a deeply uncreative and uninspired group of middle managers known as Republican lawmakers have failed to grasp the lessons of 2016—that the only thing that ever made Trump's candidacy viable was the disdain he expressed, even if insincerely, for nearly everything that defines the GOP and its preferential treatment for the rich in every policy debate from trade to health care to taxes and more. The fact that the guy who now sits in the Oval Office took a wrecking ball to the core of the Republican agenda has left them rallying around the crumbling remains of an ideology a majority of Americans—including Democrats, independents, and even some Trump voters—despise. Finally, Democrats are making a bid to claim the mantle of exactly what Trump and the GOP abandoned just as soon as he took the oath of office. It is in that spirit that Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer posted an op-ed in the New York Times seeking to re-establish Democrats as a party that truly stands for the working class ideals that Trump pretended to care about during the election. In it, Schumer moves beyond a call for passing a jobs/infrastructure bill, raising the minimum wage, and providing paid family/sick leave to lay out several new prongs on the way to leveling the playing field for Americans who haven't benefitted equally from the many opportunities the 20th century brought to our country. Schumer writes: Right now, there is nothing to stop vulture capitalists from egregiously raising the price of lifesaving drugs without justification. We’re going to fight for rules to stop prescription drug price gouging and demand that drug companies justify price increases to the public. And we’re going to push for empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for older Americans. Right now our antitrust laws are designed to allow huge corporations to merge, padding the pockets of investors but sending costs skyrocketing for everything from cable bills and airline tickets to food and health care. We are going to fight to allow regulators to break up big companies if they’re hurting consumers and to make it harder for companies to merge if it reduces competition. Right now millions of unemployed or underemployed people, particularly those without a college degree, could be brought back into the labor force or retrained to secure full-time, higher-paying work. We propose giving employers, particularly small businesses, a large tax credit to train workers for unfilled jobs. This will have particular resonance in smaller cities and rural areas, which have experienced an exodus of young people who aren’t trained for the jobs in those areas. None of these ideas are entirely new, but the Democrats' pledge to recommit to them as a party could certainly put a force behind them that has been missing. As corporate America became a behemoth power broker in our political system, the Democratic Party backed away from taking on Wall Street directly, even as it claimed to have the concerns of working Americans at heart. In a sense, party leaders talked a good game while following the same money trail Republicans did. Now it appears Democrats are making a bid to break away from a path of doublespeak that was so easy to take when the other party offered no true alternative. Schumer promises to come through with more initiatives in the coming months and declares: "Democrats will offer a better deal." [...]



In Colfax, Louisiana, the military is burning waste with no regard for the people who live there

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 22:55:10 +0000

Though the face of the mainstream environmental movement is largely white, environmental justice is an issue of pressing concern for people of color. There is a direct link between race, class, and environmental issues and black people are on the forefront of our nation’s environmental crisis—with exposure to lead paint, and the chance of living in proximity to landfills and toxic waste sites disproportionately affecting our community. Flint, Michigan’s water crisis is one of the more notable and recent cases in which government systems not only failed to protect the well-being and health of poor black people, but one in which they further punished them by also trying to make them pay for the very services that poisoned them in the first place.

Unfortunately, this story is not an isolated occurrence. In Colfax, Louisiana, the U.S. military burns explosives and munitions waste, with little regard for the people who actually live there.

The burns take place several times each day, and when they do, they turn parts of Colfax into a virtual war zone.

“It’s like a bomb, shaking this trailer,” said Elouise Manatad, who lives in one of the dozen or so mobile homes speckling the hillside just a few hundred yards from the facility’s perimeter. The rat-tat-tat of bullets and fireworks crackles through the woods and blasts rattle windows 12 miles away. Thick, black smoke towers hundreds of feet into the air, dulling the bright slices of sky that show through the forest cover. Manatad’s nephew Frankie McCray — who served two tours at Camp Victory in Iraq — runs inside and locks the door, huddling in the dark behind windows covered in tinfoil.

The stockpile of aging explosives are burned at a plant in Colfax which is “the only commercial facility in the nation allowed to burn explosives and munitions waste with no environmental emissions controls, and it has been doing so for the military for decades.” So given that the Environmental Protection Agency has no oversight whatsoever, it’s really hard to believe that the waste is not poisoning Colfax’s 1,532 residents. Not shockingly, those residents happen to be mostly black. And economically, they are struggling, with the average resident earning $13,800 a year. 

The company that runs the plant, Clean Harbors, claims it became a target for controversy two years ago after a stockpile of these very same munitions blew up at a former Army ammunition plant in Minden, Louisiana—just  95 miles north of Colfax. After the residents became furious about possible exposure to toxins, that’s when the military agreed to transfer and dispose of the explosives in Colfax. It’s worth noting that Minden is larger than Colfax, and almost half of its residents are white. 

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Congressman blames 'female senators' for health care vote delay, wishes to settle it in a gunfight

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 18:21:22 +0000

Rep. Blake Farenthold, verified Texas tool, is angry the women of the United States Senate have delayed a vote on a bill that is extremely bad for 50 percent of the population. Farenthold says if they were men, he would challenge them to a duel. From the Associated Press:

A Texas Republican congressman says it’s “absolutely repugnant” that the GOP-led Senate hasn’t acted on repealing the health care law and he singled out “some female senators from the Northeast.”

In a radio interview with “1440 Keys,” Rep. Blake Farenthold said the Senate has failed to show the courage to dismantle the health care law. The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to move ahead on legislation.

Farenthold complained about some female lawmakers and said, “If it was a guy from south Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.”

Here’s Farenthold pictured in his ducky pajamas on the far right. 

x

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

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New information suggests that scientists have underestimated global warming—but don't panic

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 18:22:49 +0000

A new study indicates that climate scientists may have underestimated the amount of global warming that has already occurred by as much as 20 percent. But that doesn’t mean that it’s any hotter outside. It’s a matter of hotter relative to what?

Preventing global warming from becoming “dangerous” may have just got significantly harder after new research suggested climate scientists have been using the wrong baseline temperature.

Scientists haven’t been making some kind of mistake in measuring the temperature. The issue is time. Most climate change models start somewhere in the 19th century, with the best data set beginning around 1880. But this new study indicates that this date may actually be too late if the intent is to really capture all the impact burning of fossil fuels has had on the climate. By the late 1800s, people had already been burning fossil fuels in rapidly-increasing amounts to stoke the beginning of the industrial revolution. That early consumption of coal and oil may have had more impact than previously thought.

Naturally, taking fuller account of this preindustrial warming also makes it much more likely that we’ll pass 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. That’s an extremely challenging target for us to hit in limiting warming that many observers and analysts have already written off, although it is cited as a more lofty goal in the Paris climate agreement.

Meeting a 1.5° C target is obviously more difficult if the change already experienced is 1.2 degrees rather than the 1.0 that had been broadly accepted. The new information doesn’t make the world any warmer, but it could have an effect on programs designed to meet the 1.5 degree goal. Either the total change allowed under agreements needs to go up to adjust for this early change, the definition of the allowed change needs to be redefined to make it clear it’s relative to 1880, or programs will have to be rapidly accelerated to try and hold off that final bit of change.

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Republicans threaten financial stability and physical health of millions with Trumpcare

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 18:44:41 +0000

Campaign Action

When you boil Trumpcare down to its essence, what you get is the destruction of Medicaid. That's been the goal of Republican lawmakers for decades, and more than anything is what’s driving this crazy, unprecedented, undemocratic drive by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. There are two extremely salient stories every other Republican should be thinking about going into this thing, particularly those from states that expanded Medicaid. The first comes from Health Affairs, demonstrating that Medicaid expansion hasn't just improved the health of enrollees—it's improved their finances.

The researchers compared the change in both the uninsured rate and the rate of unpaid medical bills in both expansion and non-expansion states, before and after the Affordable Care Act was enacted. In terms of unpaid medical debt, both sets of states were essentially the same. But in 2015, after the law, "the share with medical debt fell 7 percentage points in non-expansion states […]. In contrast, medical debt fell by almost twice as much, 13 percentage points, in expansion states." And this: "the effect of the Medicaid expansion closes about a quarter of the gap in financial satisfaction between low-income and median-income individuals." The bottom line for them? "Our data are somewhat different from what has been used in other recent research, but overall a clear story emerges: The ACA’s Medicaid expansion benefits not just health care, but also financial health. "

Then go to a non-expansion state—in this case Virginia, this weekend.

Anthony Marino, 54, reached into his car trunk to show a pair of needle-nosed pliers like the ones he used to yank out a rotting tooth.

Shirley Akers, 58, clutched a list of 20 medications she takes, before settling down to a sleepless night in the cab of a pickup truck.

Robin Neal, 40, tried to inject herself with a used-up insulin pen, but it broke, and her blood sugar began to skyrocket.

As the sun set in the mountains of southwest Virginia, hundreds of hurting souls were camped out or huddled in vehicles, eager for an early place in line when the gates swung open at 5 a.m. for the nation’s largest pop-up free clinic.

Dr. Joseph F. Smiddy, 75, is one of the physicians who volunteered over the weekend, just as he's been doing since the first one in 1999. He says "We're sicker here than in Central America."

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Sen. Franken says Judiciary Committee may call Sessions back to explain his Russia contacts

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 21:41:01 +0000

It can be hard to keep track of all the new developments in Trump's ever-escalating Russia scandal, but if you missed last Friday's addendum to the pile it was that this nation's intelligence services caught the Russian ambassador to the United States informing his superiors in Moscow that he and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions had "substantive" discussions about the Donald Trump campaign and that campaign's position towards Russia.

These intelligence intercepts are directly opposed to Sessions' own past assurances that he had done nothing of the sort, and Democratic Sen. Al Franken says the Senate Judiciary Committee would very much like Sessions to again appear before them to explain himself.

“What I do know is what I read, which is that I guess someone in Kislyak’s position can sometimes distort what he says when he is reporting back to build himself up,” Franken told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I also saw in those reports that Kislyak isn’t that type. And it seems to me that since Attorney General Sessions hasn’t been terribly truthful regarding these things that it’s more likely that what Kislyak was saying was the case.” [...]

Franken said Sunday that he “absolutely” wants Sessions to appear before the Judiciary Committee again, adding, “I think Chairman Grassley does want him to come back.”

It has been speculated that the White House itself leaked this newest blockbuster implicating Sessions in an attempt to force his resignation, because Donald Trump is an ass and would most certainly do such a thing to be rid of an attorney general he now regards as insufficiently loyal to him, personally.

Regardless, Sessions' recounting of his meetings with the Russian ambassador is squarely at odds with what the man he met with reported back to his superiors, and the suggestion that the nation's new top legal official hid covert cooperation between himself and a foreign power is not something even Republican senators like Chuck Grassley can quite stomach sweeping under the rug.

Or, at least, that's what Sen. Franken suspects. We'll see—he may yet be giving his Republican colleagues too much credit.

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Trump attacks Senate Republicans, pleads with them to pass Trumpcare

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 20:27:42 +0000

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In a typically strange and combative speech from the White House Blue Room, flanked by "victims" of the Affordable Care Act, popular vote loser Donald Trump railed against Republican senators for not yet passing an Obamacare repeal bill. His brief remarks were mostly bizarre, largely incoherent, and possibly counterproductive.

Also, too, they were not particularly truthful. Like this: "For the last 17 years Obamacare has wreaked havoc." Seven, 17, whatever. Does anyone expect him to like, really know things? here’s what he does know: Obamacare is death. Death, death, death. "And besides that, it's failing so you won't have that anyway." Said with glee.

Mostly, though, the takeaway was more browbeating of Republicans.

"For the last seven years Republicans have been united in standing up for Obamacare’s victims," Trump said. "Remember: repeal and replace, repeal and replace? They kept saying it over and over again. Every Republican running for office promised immediate relief from this disastrous law. We as a party must fulfill that solemn promise to the voters of this country to repeal and replace, what they've been saying for the last seven years."

"But so far Senate Republicans have not done their job in ending the Obamacare nightmare," he continued. "They now have a chance, however, to hopefully, hopefully fix what has been so badly broken for such a long time."

Such a long time—17 years.

But sure, Republicans. Go ahead. Rip health care coverage from tens of millions of Americans. What's the worst that could happen?

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

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Eight years after the last minimum wage increase, Democrats want to give 41 million workers a raise

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 19:45:45 +0000

The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since July 24, 2009—for eight years. Thanks to Republicans in Congress and the White House, it won’t be going up any time soon, and though many states have raised their minimum wages, 21 states remain stuck at $7.25 an hour. That’s a poverty wage. A new analysis from the National Employment Law Project shows what the Democrats’ Raise the Wage Act of 2017—which would take the minimum wage up to $15 by 2024, a gradual raise by any standard except the Republican “no raise ever” standard—would do for low-wage workers:

  • 20.7 million workers would see pay raises in the 21 states whose minimum wages are stuck at $7.25.
  • Fully half of the 41.5 million workers who would see pay increases are in the 21 states stuck at $7.25.
  • In the 13 other states with minimum wages of less than $9, nearly 13 million more workers also would see their hourly pay rise.
  • Of all the workers nationwide who would receive raises, 8 in 10 are in the 34 states with the lowest minimum wages.
  • In 19 of the 21 states at $7.25, more than 30 percent of wage-earners would benefit from raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024; the highest share is in Mississippi, with 44.4 percent.

Republicans want these workers stuck at poverty wages. There’s no other serious explanation for their refusal to raise the minimum wage over the past eight years.

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Republican leadership: We're voting on Trumpcare tomorrow. We don't know what we're voting on.

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 19:43:32 +0000

This is fucking insane. The second-in-command in the Senate, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, says "there will be a vote tomorrow" on the motion to proceed to the health care bill. But:   x@mj_lee asks Cornyn "what's the ultimate [health care] bill you want to get to?" Cornyn: "We're not quite there yet." Note: Vote's tomorrow— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 24, 2017 Again, the vote is tomorrow. There is reportedly going to be a meeting tonight in the Republican caucus where maybe they’ll figure out what they are going to do tomorrow. Maybe. If they move to a vote tomorrow, for whatever they decide to vote on, they’ve got problems. The Senate’s budget rules blew a big hole in the Senate’s repeal-and-replace bill on Friday. According to Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders’s office, the Senate parliamentarian has said that the bill’s six-month waiting period for people who have a lapse in health coverage — the GOP’s replacement for the individual mandate — is not permissible. [...] That news came Friday, leaving Republican leaders just a few days to rewrite the provision in hopes of clearing the Senate’s Byrd Rule, which is supposed to limit the policies considered under “budget reconciliation” to those that directly affect the federal budget. It is not at all clear that any tinkering can save the waiting period; outside experts have long said any similar policy would not survive the Byrd Rule. And without it, the Republican bill is tailor-made for a death spiral. But what are they going to do about it? We don’t know. It’s a secret. Will the Congressional Budget Office or the parliamentarian see it before it gets to the floor? Not if they bring it up this week, because no one knows—STILL—what’s going to even be in the thing to be scored. Why are they doing this? For this guy? xTrump says Obamacare has been around for the last 17 years.Ok?— Beauchard (@mitchellhirsch) July 24, 2017 They’ve all lost their minds. Which is going to be a pre-existing condition, but they’ll undoubtedly be able to figure out how to keep themselves covered. Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to repealing Obamacare and ripping health care away from millions of Americans. After your call, tell us how it went. [...]



Congressional agreement on Russia sanctions bill deals the Trump-Putin alliance a blow

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 18:24:09 +0000

The efforts of Donald Trump and his buddy Vladimir Putin to help Russia get off scot-free after hacking the U.S. election have hit a snag: Congress. As challenged as the GOP-controlled Congress has proven to be, lawmakers appear to have brokered an agreement on a measure strengthening sanctions against Russia and preventing Trump from unilaterally lifting them. Oh, bother. What both Trump and Putin failed to appreciate was that being president in the U.S. isn't exactly like being president in Russia—the U.S. Constitution actually provides safeguards and checks for a president who would gladly outsource our governance to a foreign entity, all to puff up his wounded ego.

This was something that two men who are used to playing by their own rules—the ones they alone set—totally overlooked. Taken together, their complete alignment against the assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Russian hacked our election is now backfiring. The lockstep preference of a U.S. president for a hostile foreign power's version of events over that of our own intelligence operatives was a little too close for comfort for Congress—even an ideologically-driven one that would much rather be using Trump's signature for other priorities. But Putin's brazen denials along with Trump's inability to accept that he might not have triumphed in the election without Putin running interference is finally sinking the dinghy they've been huddling on together amid the sea of evidence engulfing them. The New York Times' David Sanger writes:

Mr. Putin is beginning to pay a price for what John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, described last week as the Russian president’s fateful decision last summer to try to use stolen computer data to support Mr. Trump’s candidacy. For his part, Mr. Trump ignited the movement in Congress by repeatedly casting doubt on that intelligence finding, then fueled it by confirming revelation after revelation about previously denied contacts between his inner circle and a parade of Russians.

If approved by Congress this week, Mr. Trump has little choice, his aides acknowledge, but to sign the toughened sanctions legislation that he desperately wanted to see defeated.

Why oh why would a U.S. president who has blithely alienated nearly every U.S. ally be so eager to side with Putin in his denials of wrongdoing? Trump's new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, spelled it out pretty clearly over the weekend.

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More Americans want Trump impeached than support Trumpcare

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 17:55:52 +0000

Campaign Action

There should be sirens going off in Republican offices all over Capitol Hill this week over the fact that the Senate will be voting as soon as Tuesday on a secret health care bill that remains a mystery, hasn't been fully analyzed by either the Congressional Budget Office or the Senate Parliamentarian, has had no hearings, terrifies the health insurance industry as well as the nation's physicians, and is supported by just 13 percent of the public. Seriously, 13 percent.

That bill is less popular than the so-far hypothetical impeachment of popular vote loser Donald Trump—the very guy they'll be passing this disastrous health care repeal bill for.

Just six months after his inauguration, Americans already are split down the middle, 42%-42%, over whether President Trump should be removed from office, a new USA TODAY/iMediaEthics Poll finds. […]

While no serious effort is now underway in Congress to impeach Trump, the results underscore how quickly political passions have become inflamed both for and against the outsider candidate who won last year's campaign in a surprise. A third of those surveyed say they would be upset if Trump is impeached; an equal third say they would be upset if he's not.

Those findings, designed to measure the intensity of opinion, also show a perfect divide, 34%-34%.

You want to see intensity? Kick 15 or 18 million people off of their health insurance next year, an election year. Current Republican lawmakers would do well to listen a former Republican lawmaker, former Sen. David Durenberger, who worked on health care for the nearly 20 years he was in the Senate. "There will be no hiding this vote," he warns them. Will they heed his advice?

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

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Midday open thread: Public comments soar on nat'l monuments; robot video-ed melted fuel at Fukushima

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 19:10:57 +0000

Today’s comic by Tom Tomorrow is First Contact: What you may have missed at Sunday Kos… Democrats beware: Trump may beat you to single-payer Medicare for all, by Egberto Willies On this, John McCain has been a true leader, by Ian Reifowitz Universal health care would save $17 trillion, by David Akadjian Who said it: Donald Trump, a comedian, or a conspiracy theorist?, by Mark E Andersen Democrats honing an economic battle cry for 2018, by Sher Watts Spooner Trump's Obama Derangement Syndrome isn't really about Obama, by Denise Oliver-Velez • Sixteen of thirty survivors of immigrant-smuggling tragedy hospitalized in dire condition: Eight immigrants were discovered dead in a semi-trailer in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio over the weekend, and two more have since died. The trailer had no air conditioning and none of the smuggled immigrants had water. All the dead were adult men. While there were only 39 people on board when police opened the trailer, more than 100 may have been packed in it at one point. Some escaped or hitched rides to their next destination, according to authorities. The victims were found after one person in the trailer approached a Walmart employee to ask for water. The truck driver was arrested and has charged under a federal law, conviction for which could result in life imprisonment or the death penalty. • Public comments reach 1.4 million on federal review of national monuments: Under executive order, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke is reviewing 27 national monuments with an eye toward shrinking their acreage or rescinding their designations as monuments altogether. Most experts who have weighed in on the legalities of this say rescission is out of the question and downsizing may be as well. But a direct court test of these views has never occurred. As part of the government’s review, Americans have been asked for their own views, and so far 1.4 million public comments have been submitted. One advocate says that number is “phenomenal,” a level he had not seen in 25 years of environmental activism. • Scarmucci gives appearance advice to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: The new White House communications director said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that Sanders is doing “a great job” and is “incredibly authentic,” but that she can do better. “The only thing I ask Sarah—Sarah, if you’re watching, I loved the hair and makeup person we had on Friday, so I’d like to continue to use the hair and makeup person.” As Lauren Evans at Jezebel notes: “It’s long been apparent that in Trump’s world (of which Moochy is firmly a part), women are only as good as their appearances.” Scarmucci tried afterward to claim his comment wasn’t about Sanders’ looks but his own. •  • An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events • Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups • Robot video shows nuclear fuel melted into metal icicles in Fukushima reactor 2. After a 2011 tsunami wrecked the ability of coolant systems to control temperatures at three reactors on the coastal site of the Japanese reactors, fuel melted, burned through the reactor pressure vessels and collected in puddles on the floor of the reactor containment vessels. But until now finding any of the melted fuel had been hindered by the extreme conditions, including radiation, inside the reactors. The special robot that checked out reactor 2 has yet to visit the other two reactors. Time to clean up the contaminated reactors, buildings, and rest of the site is estimated at 30-40 years. But that’s just a guess given the state of knowledge about how extensive the damage actually is. • On the Bernie Sanders Show, an interview with Al [...]



Jared Kushner says nothing going in, little coming out, still refuses to take any questions

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 17:49:28 +0000

Going in to his private hearing with House and Senate staffers, Jared Kusher issued a carefully-worded statement meant to show that he was merely an overworked staffer in Donald Trump’s campaign who took not a single action of his own volition. Coming out of his private hearing with House and Senate staffers, Jared Kusher read a carefully-worded statement meant to show that he was merely an overworked staffer in Donald Trump’s campaign who took not a single action of his own volition.

Much of what was in the statements was the same — he did nothing wrong, he saw nothing wrong, and “I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses.” That last part, like the rest, was clearly the product of much contemplation by lawyers determined to produce a statement that contained next to no content and provided maximum wiggle room to guard against potential prosecution.

Even as Kushner was saying he had “not relied” on Russian funds, additional details emerged concerning a multi-million dollar deal between Jared Kushner and a partner at Prevezon Holdings. If that company sounds familiar, it’s because it was the company that supposedly employed Natalia Veselnitskaya on her trip to see the Trump campaign staff. 

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, who acts as his senior White House adviser, secured a multimillion-dollar Manhattan real estate deal with a Soviet-born oligarch whose company was cited in a major New York money laundering case now being investigated by members of Congress.

The way in which Kushner is hiding behind substance-free statements and pretending at “transparency” when he’s been dragged into the hearings only through a series of very reluctant steps, is a big part of why Sen. Ron Wyden has called for Kushner to testify openly and publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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Like a fine-tuned machine: Trump and Republicans swap finger-pointing for their festival of failures

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 16:37:16 +0000

If there's one thing Republicans are really starting to excel at, it's throwing their finger decisively in the direction of the entity on the other end of Pennsylvania Ave. to explain why they're so preposterously incompetent.

In anticipation of yet another potential failure on repealing Obamacare this week, the occupants of the White House know exactly who to blame, writes Politico:

White House aides are already considering how to distance President Donald Trump from Congress and how to go after the Republicans who vote no — an idea the president seems fond of, according to people who have spoken to him. Several people said he plans to keep up the fight, no matter how this week's vote goes.

He threatened Republicans on Twitter Sunday, saying they would face electoral consequences, and complained about his party not defending him — even though congressional Republicans are tired of defending him all the time.

“It's very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President," he wrote.

Shocking they're not super excited about putting their butts on the line for a bill, only to find out it's "mean" several weeks later. Of course, it is mean. But their president isn't supposed to be leading the charge on anti-GOP messaging heading into the midterms.

And then there's Congressional Republicans, staring down the White House:

Meanwhile, those close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say they are frustrated that the president has shown little focus on his political agenda, particularly health care. Trump's interview with the New York Times this week, for example, where he raged about Attorney General Jeff Sessions instead of promoting health care, was "political malpractice," one senior GOP aide said.

Who are they kidding? That interview was gold. When it comes to "the art of the deal," Trump just puts a lot of emphasis on "the art" part, in a Jackson Pollock kind of way—only there's no canvas so it's kind of like watching paint fly all over the place as Trump's arms sputter around, like someone who's drowning.

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Rex Tillerson is tired of rattling around the halls of empty State Department, contemplates 'Rexit'

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 16:43:36 +0000

Donald Trump’s State Department deserves to be abbreviated to State Dept., because it is. From the moment he landed at the White House, Trump began showing diplomats the door. Whether he was convinced that understanding history, intentional law, and diplomatic skills were something that wouldn’t be needed in his regime of best-dealmakers-ever, or he was simply worried that everyone at State was contaminated with Hillary Clinton cooties, Trump emptied the department and never got around to filling slots that had previously been regarded as critical.

That’s left official secretary of state and Friend of Russia Rex Tillerson with a lot of space to rattle around, and plenty of time to contemplate being back on his horse ranch (he’s the Texas-based CEO of an oil company, of course he has a horse ranch). And with White House communications turning over and Donald Trump running over the Justice Department, one of the things Rex is contemplating is running for the doors.

Among those who viewed the President's public rebuke of Sessions as unprofessional, according to several sources, is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon-Mobil CEO.

Tillerson has a growing list of differences with the White House, including a new debate over Iran policy and personnel. His frustration is hardly a secret and it has spilled out publicly at times. But friends sense a change of late.

The press keeps acting as if Trump’s press secretary has a difficult job, but really, communications at the Trump White House consists of simply pretending that whatever Trump said makes sense. Tillerson, on the other hand, has to convince foreign leaders that Trump’s flip-flopping, backstabbing, and shifting collection of vengeance-based priorities provide some kind of basis for international relations. Tillerson had been hoping to gut out another six months before waving farewell, but ...

Two sources who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity over the weekend said they would not be surprised if there was a "Rexit" from Foggy Bottom sooner that that.

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Over 7,000 Catholic nuns unite against 'immoral' GOP health care bill in a public letter to senators

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 15:15:22 +0000

A group representing more than 7,000 Catholic nuns has released an absolutely scorching statement on the Republican health care bill, calling it “immoral” and the “most harmful legislation for American families in our lifetimes, and it goes against our Catholic faith teaching.” They also rightly called out the bill for being the opposite of “pro-life.”

Read the full letter:

Dear Senator:

We, Catholic Sisters in the United States, write to urge you to cast a life-affirming “no” vote against the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). We have many concerns with this bill, but we are most troubled by the cuts it would make to Medicaid by ending the Medicaid expansion and instituting a per capita cap. Our faith urges us to care for all people and all of creation, especially the most vulnerable. The BCRA would be the most harmful legislation for American families in our lifetimes, and it goes against our Catholic faith teaching.

As Pope Francis teaches, “health is not a consumer good, but a universal right, so access to health services cannot be a privilege.” Responding to this integral part of our faith, many of our religious congregations founded hospitals and hospital systems in the United States. Other congregations sponsor clinics and various services for people on the economic margins. The passage of this bill would cause far more suffering than we could possibly attend to through charity. For this reason we are speaking out.

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Former Republican senator warns colleagues on Trumpcare: 'There will be no hiding this vote'

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 15:51:43 +0000

Campaign Action Sen. David Durenberger, a Republican who held a Minnesota seat from 1978 to 1995 and served as chairman of the Senate Finance subcommittee on health, has a message for current Republican senators: "Resist the bullying. Don't vote for a mystery health care bill." As he writes, it is a mystery, and Mitch McConnell has made it so on purpose. He details all the things that McConnell is purposely keeping them in the dark about: what bill they're supposed to vote on Tuesday; what the Congressional Budget Office has to say about key amendments and the final bill; what he's promising to the Medicaid expansion states; what this means for all state budgets; what he's going to sneak in at the last minute. "Without even knowing which bill you are being asked to vote on, what the defining amendments will be and how much time you will have when being pressed for a final vote you’ll be stuck with. Forever." A vote in these circumstances will rightly provoke anger and distrust unlikely to abate. Take it from me: A no vote on the Motion to Proceed this week is the only one that will be defensible in the years to come. I have had my arm twisted by the best of them—presidents and Senate leaders and party whips alike. I know how uncomfortable it can be. Usually, they were able to attempt a convincing argument about what is good about the bill for the country or my state. But I never would have voted for something so far reaching without knowing the answer to all the questions above. Never in all my years did I experience the level of bullying we see today. It doesn't look good in Minnesota, and I suspect it doesn’t look any better in your state. [...] [T]here are no do-overs. The vote for the Motion To Proceed is likely a vote for final passage, and the House clearly stands ready to pass the Senate bill unchanged. There is no making good on all of the issues later. Once the funds for health coverage are gone, it will take new tax increases to replace them. And what’s the likelihood that will happen? There will be no hiding this vote. This is a fellow Republican, one who surely does not want to see his party fail. Maybe current Republicans figure between Russia, voter suppression, and gerrymandering they don't have anything to worry about electorally. But maybe they should listen to a colleague and think not just about their political futures, but what it is they're doing to their states—and to their constituents, who are human beings. Remind them. Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to repealing Obamacare and ripping health care away from millions of Americans. After your call, tell us how it went. [...]



Cap-and-trade for Northeastern states so successful that the only fight is over how much to improve

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 15:04:44 +0000

When Donald Trump announced that he was pulling the United States from the Paris Agreement—a spiteful action that promises precisely zero benefits while offering near infinite downsides—there was an immediate reaction from many governors and mayors in states and cities that retained some modicum of sense. Official after official promised that, while Trump may be racing to make synonyms of “America” and “mud,” they would maintain standards for their region that were as high, or higher, than those proposed under the agreement.

But with Trump actively promoting pollution and climate change, states could take that as an excuse to forget past promises. Which makes an upcoming plan all the more important.

Eight years ago, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ― made up of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont ― established an interstate cap-and-trade system that puts a limit on carbon dioxide emissions from the utility sector and allows power companies to buy and sell permits to pollute. The program has proven to be a notable success, reducing average utility bills by 3.4 percent, driving $2.7 billion in economic growth and creating at least 14,200 new jobs through energy conservation projects funded by the revenue it generates.

The RGGI is one of several such initiatives and, like the cap and trade for SO2 instituted under the Clean Air Act, most have demonstrated that the projected cost of meeting targeted improvements is far less than the projections made by utilities and fossil fuel companies.

Now it’s time for the states involved to implement the next stage of the RGGI plan, and whether they choose to build off the success of the initial phase may have a big influence on what other states choose to do now.

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Trump tweet-begs Republicans to help distract from his Russia problem by going after Hillary

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:31:43 +0000

Donald Trump has been on a major tweeting binge over the past day, and Monday morning he issued what looks an awful lot like a strong hint to Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

x

In translation: Hey Jeff. You want to get back on my good side? Be a little less beleaguered? You could start by targeting Hillary Clinton to help distract from my Russia problem.

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Senate still scheduled to vote Tuesday on Trumpcare, but no one knows what they’re going to vote on

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 14:35:34 +0000

Campaign Action The Senate returns to work Monday at 4 PM, giving Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a day to bribe and bully his Republicans into voting yes on the motion to proceed to whatever he can cobble together—or failing that, an Obamacare repeal. But as of now, what's going to be on the floor is a mystery even to the senators who will have to vote on it, and probably even McConnell. Here's what we know so far. Much of what is in the repeal and "replacement" bill, the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" [BCRA], has been shot down by the Senate parliamentarian, who says provisions like defunding Planned Parenthood aren't allowed under the Byrd Rule, which governs the process Republicans are trying to use to pass this. Where that leaves McConnell is more votes shy on BCRA. But, he's been working on a bribe for a handful of states—namely Alaska and West Virginia and Ohio—that has engaged both Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Shelley Moore Capito. It's hard to know for sure, but it appears at least Capito appears to be willing to vote to let the bill advance, then to see what she can get out of it. The money they're putting back in, though, is less that $400 billion, which is a pittance compared to the $772 billion they're taking out of Medicaid.  If the so-called moderates fall for this, they'll prove they are as extreme as any of their colleagues. One of the things that is essential to the bill's policy structure, a six-month lockout from buying insurance for people who have not had continuous coverage, was deemed out of order by the parliamentarian. That's what Republicans had in place of the individual mandate to buy coverage in Obamacare. Without it, nothing works. People would be able to wait to buy insurance until they got ill and were going to cost their insurers a lot of money, throwing the whole system into chaos. One of the reasons people wouldn't buy insurance is that in some cases, the deductibles are as high as some people's annual income, and that is actually illegal according to the Congressional Budget Office. A $13,000 annual deductible in a standard health plan is against existing law. The Cruz amendment, which would allow insurance companies to sell crap insurance that doesn't meet consumer protection regulations as long as they also sold one compliant plan, hasn't been evaluated by either the CBO or the parliamentarian, but might still be included. Senators would be voting on that in the dark. So there are things in the "replace" bill that can't possibly work, or in fact stay in the bill. They may or may not be being rewritten at this moment—and could be voted on TOMORROW. It appears that McConnell is still trying to patch together some kind of "replace" bill but given all the problems, that would take weeks rather than hours. So he could still be pushing and bullying and bribing to get a commitment from 50 senators to vote to on repeal and delay, a vague promise to figure out all the stuff to replace Obamacare that they can't deal with now in the next two years. Because that'll happen. The next 24 hours is key. Don't let up on the pressure. Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to repealing Obamacare and ripping health care away from millions of Americans. After your call, tell us how it went. [...]



Kushner's statement asserts that he lacked the competence to be complicit in Trump—Russia

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:24:27 +0000

Jared Kushner issued prepared remarks in advance of his testimony on Monday. They demonstrate that he’s a much better client for any lawyer than his father-in-law, but then so was Jeffery Dahmer. Throughout the statement Kushner makes it clear that taking on the role of campaign adviser was too much for him, and when it comes to attending meetings—he’s both inattentive and illiterate.

Campaign Action

 Mr. Kushner said he did not read an email forwarded by the younger Mr. Trump saying that the Russian government was providing dirt about Mrs. Clinton as part of its effort to help the Trump campaign.

According to Kushner’s statements, he wandered into the meeting while it was already underway, didn’t have any interest in the subject, and got his assistant to give him an escape text so he had an excuse for wandering out. Russians? There were Russians?

Kushner also had a handy, and brief, statement about his offer to have members of the Trump campaign pop into the Russian embassy for easier communication with the Kremlin.

“The fact that I was asking about ways to start a dialogue after Election Day should of course be viewed as strong evidence that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day.”

Not only does this statement perform a neat linguistic jiu jitsu by turning Kushner’s open offer to communicate with the Russians on any terms they liked into proof that he wasn’t communicating with the Russians, it’s also notable for declaring “I was not aware” rather than pretending that such a channel did not exist.

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Cartoon: First contact

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:51:03 +0000

Be sure to visit TT’s online emporium — and please consider joining Sparky’s List!

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AARP is onto Mitch McConnell's Trumpcare tricks, won't let Republicans play dumb

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:16:05 +0000

Campaign Action

The AARP writes again to Congress, reiterating their steadfast opposition to every aspect of Obamacare repeal and Trumpcare replacement that might come to a floor vote next week, and they're putting Republicans on notice that it's not just how they'll vote on an eventual bill—it's whether they vote for the bill to come to the floor in the first place. Oh, and a reminder too that they represent an awful lot of people. Who vote.

AARP, on behalf of our 38 million members, strongly opposes the repeal and delay amendment. AARP also remains steadfastly opposed to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Better Care Reconciliation ACT (BCRA) due to the devastating impact the legislation would have on Americans 50 and older. We urge all Senators to vote NO on the Motion to Proceed, as well as reject the repeal and delay amendment and the BCRA. […]

As our members expect from the AARP, we will monitor each Senator's vote on the Motion to Proceed, and on the votes to pass the repeal and delay amendment, and the BCRA. We will notify them and other older Americans by reporting those votes in our publications, online, through the media, and in direct alerts to our members.

This is basically a declaration of war on the Republican party by the AARP, as strong a threat as any non-tea party group is going to make. It can be understated because every senator knows the power of the AARP and the 38 million members—the demographic that votes best—that they reach. They zero right in on the motion to proceed, letting every Republican know that they're not going to be able to make excuses that they "only voted yes on a procedural vote."

That's absolutely key. McConnell is working for one thing right now—50 votes on the motion to proceed. Once he clears that hurdle, and can move forward to considering the bill, he will twist arms and throw out bribes and bully them all into a "compromise" that passes with 50 votes and Vice President Mike Pence. The AARP knows as well as anybody that it has to be stopped dead in its tracks now. It needs to not come to a vote at all.

Keep up the pressure, and if you're an AARP member, use that when you call. Make sure your senators feel the full weight of that warning.

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Morning Digest: How California's top-two primary could wind up saving a vulnerable Republican

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 12:01:15 +0000

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard. Leading Off ● CA-48: Ugh. This is some very frustrating news—and yet another reason why we hate top-two primaries with a passion. GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is looking decidedly vulnerable next year after his Southern California House seat swung from a 55-43 win for Mitt Romney to a 48-46 win for Hillary Clinton, and no fewer than four notable Democrats have jumped in to challenge the incumbent, who has only won by less than double digits once in his three-decade career. Campaign Action But a new candidate in the race could screw everything up, and that's because businessman Stelian Onufrei is a Republican. In any normal state, Onufrei, who's pledged to self-fund $500,000, would simply run in the GOP primary against Rohrabacher, while Democrats would go about nominating their own candidate—no problem. In California, though, all candidates from all parties run together on a single primary ballot, and the top-two vote-getters advance to the November general election—regardless of what party they belong to. That means that two Democrats or two Republicans could win any given primary, something that happens with some frequency. Most of the time, one-party races take place in dark blue or dark red districts and no one really complains. But sometimes, when dark stars align, they happen in swing districts, and it's always been to the detriment of Democrats. The most poignant example took place in 2012, when GOP Rep. Gary Miller faced five opponents: one fellow Republican, then-state Sen. Bob Dutton, and four Democrats. While the 31st District was decidedly blue, turnout in California primaries always tilts more Republican. That allowed Miller and Dutton to neatly split half the vote while the four Democrats fought over the other half. In a catastrophic outcome, the leading Democrat, Pete Aguilar, wound up 2 points behind Dutton in third place, completely locking Team Blue out of the general election in a seat Barack Obama won 57-41. (Dutton wound up losing to Miller, who retired a cycle later and was belatedly succeeded by Aguilar.) [...]



Cheers and Jeers: Monday

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 12:18:08 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE

The Week Ahead

Monday White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner goes before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He answers every single question with, "Pardon?" minus the question mark.

New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci says America should fall in love with Donald Trump for the way he threw a javelin six thousand miles across the ocean and into the heart of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Blindfolded!

Tuesday The House approves a bipartisan measure that imposes new sanctions on Russia and makes it harder to undo existing ones. Vladimir Putin vows to kill the measure via a little-known maneuver called the puppet veto.

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And for another week, the American astronauts at the Space Station are glad they’re up there and not down here.

Senate Republicans try to pass a huge money grab disguised as a replacement of the Affordable Care Act, but at the last second come up with 2018 reasons not to.

Wednesday Today is One Voice Day. Needless to say it won’t be celebrated in the United States.

Anthony Scaramucci says Donald Trump deserves America's love and affection for destroying a huge meteor with nothing but his eye lasers.

Thursday After living through Trump’s first six months in office, Democrats finally agree on a winning slogan for 2018: “Make America Great Again.” 

Anthony Scaramucci slams the mainstream media for not giving Donald Trump the love and affection he deserves after winning all the Super Bowls.

Friday Al Gore's An Inconvenient Sequel hits theaters and literally becomes the hottest movie of the year.

Anthony Scaramucci insists that Heaven's harps are all strung with Donald Trump's hair strands.

Saddle up. We ride. Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

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Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 12:01:17 +0000

Whew! We made it through another weekend, and Trump’s 42nd trip to the golf course. This is week 27 of The Presidential Apprentice. And we’re already on pardon watch. Because of all the innocence and stuff. But don’t take your eye off of Treasoncare! McConnell’s gonna try to convince his gang to let him sneak by with a motion to proceed, and then no one knows what the hell he’ll try to throw at them once they get to the floor. But we know this: everything he’s got is being served from the same crock of $#*t. Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET! Where else can you get live, unvarnished news, commentary and opinion from Daily Kos editors David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando? Well, sure, you could get that at Daily Kos. And this is Daily Kos. But that doesn’t count, because reasons. Besides, reading is overrated! Except for what you’re reading right now, that is. Especially this part: Help make the media you want, with a monthly, sustaining donation to our Patreon account! Or choose your own schedule with our Square Cash account. How can you be sure it’s worth your support? How about I let you check out our last show, for FREE: x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash Not that he’s guilty or anything, but Donald Trump is looking into pardoning himself. We’re on the brink of an authoritarian crisis. Now what’s our best hope—the wisdom of a Republican Congress, or a good case of gout? David Waldman explores the former in today’s KITM. Maybe as few as three Republicans in the Senate would need to see the light… Time for the record scratch sound effect as we back up 24 hours to see how we got into this mess. Donald was cogent, engaged, on script for minutes, then he talked to The New York Times. He made the usual dozen or so crazy, stupid lies, but then he wondered aloud what he was paying Jeff Sessions for, and why did he ever hire that Robert Mueller, etc. We knew for a while that Mueller was targeted, as Team Trump seeks to control and block Mueller’s investigation. Now they are investigating Mueller’s investigators. Or, maybe he’ll fire him, just because. So why, when they have a perfectly good opportunity to collude, do Trumps decide to gab on about adoption? Well, “adoptions” is code for “sanctions”, and it really isn’t about the children, at least it’s never about kids to Vladimir Putin. For Trump voters, however, “sanctions” is code for “adoptions”, which is what makes it interesting to Donald Trump. (Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold. [...]



Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:01:00 +0000

With the Good Doctor unavailable this week (perhaps he’s off regenerating, I’ve heard that doctors do that), you’re stuck with me for two mornings in a row. But there is some good news. Since I already used my weekly Trump infographic on Sunday, that left room for a return of the much-beloved chemistry graphics from Compound Interest. You can find a larger version of the image on their site if you’re having trouble with the fine print. I picked the Luminol graphic because, considering one prominent story about Trump, it could be of serious use. Donald Trump has been on the world’s biggest whine-a-thon of late, blaming everyone from his own Attorney General to the Special Counsel for the problems he brought on himself. His Sunday tweets broadened the scope of the attacks to include Republicans in general. xIt's very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2017 Donald Trump expects Republicans in Congress to put themselves on the line for him. Because he expects everyone to put themselves on the line for him. Trump thinks the Justice Department is an extension of his personal lawyers and the FBI exists to go after his enemies. Why shouldn’t be believe that Congress is there just to catch any bullets that come his way?  xIf Republicans don't Repeal and Replace the disastrous ObamaCare, the repercussions will be far greater than any of them understand!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017 Oh, yeah. That’s exactly the kind of appeal that will make them ready to fall on their swords for Trump. What would those repercussions be? Well, for starters, millions of Americans would get to keep their healthcare. So Trump is right … that is great. Come on. Let’s read pundits. [...]



Open thread for night owls: Goodbye to Sean Spicer, who was never one of the 'good ones'

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 02:31:11 +0000

As longtime political hands react to the news of Spicer's sudden retirement from the Trump White House with claims of an integrity on Spicer’s part that was never once evinced during his brief tenure—usually formulated with the assertion that Spicer is, in so many words, "one of the good ones", let us take a moment to recognize that no, in fact, he was not. He was one of the bad ones. He was one of the worst sorts of political figures, one who would say anything that he was asked to say and gaslight whichever of his fellow Americans his momentary patron had tasked him with gaslighting. He did willful harm to his country for the sake of a temporary job and a temporary paycheck, and should be treated accordingly for the rest of his now-degraded life. Jack Shafer: The White House attracts all manner of toadies, suckups and flatterers seeking the president's favor, but never did any staffer demean, degrade and humble himself to the chief executive the way outgoing press secretary Sean Spicer did. [...] [W]e find no Trump transgression so foul that Spicer would not grovel before it. When Trump praised North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and invited thuggish Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, Spicer dispensed sympathy and understanding upon the despots. No Trump mistake was too mundane for him to correct: He insisted that the word “covfefe,” which appeared in a late-night Trump tweet, wasn’t a typo. When Trump alluded to secret Trump-Comey audio recordings, Spicer dodged all questions about their existence. After the president claimed Obama had tapped his phones at Trump Tower, Spicer created a diplomatic incident by falsely accusing British intelligence of doing the snooping. The newfound popularity of Spicer-led White House press briefings, Shafer says, "had less to do with his skill as a faithful communicator of the president’s policies than it did the audience’s curiosity about which planet of lies Spaceman Spicer would escort them to next." • An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events • Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES • THE WEEK’S HIGH IMPACT STORIES TWEET OF THE DAY BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily Kos on this date in 2013—Today in E.W. Jackson news: E.W. Jackson speaks for everyone: Today in E.W. Jackson news, we learn that E.W. Jackson speaks for fellow Republican ticketmate Ken Cuccinelli because E.W. Jackson says so. “I represent the entire ticket by the way. And we are a unified ticket and we are going to win in November.” I suspect Jackson is using the royal we here, as so far there have been precious few indications that his running mate wants anything to do with him. And that's saying something, because Ken Cuccinelli is pretty much the living embodiment of the American Taliban (he's for jailing adulterers, which may be the most Talibanesque thing yet and which sounds like a really, really bad idea until you realize that Newt Gingrich would probably have found himself spending some time in the pokey under that rule and well now, that sort of makes it more tempting, doesn't it? We'll have to ask Mark Sanford his thoughts on that one as well—hell, we should be convening a conservative round table on one of the Sunday shows to discuss it. Let's see[...]



Democrats beware: Trump may beat you to single-payer Medicare for all

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 01:31:02 +0000

Campaign Action

Democrats shouldn’t be playing defense right now, because a defensive stance does not give voters the impression that one is fighting for them. With the demise of Trumpcare (and with Obamacare under stress in many parts of the country), this is the time for Democrats to come out in full support of a transition to single-payer Medicare for all.

Donald Trump is an out-of-the-box politicians who may surprise Democrats and pull victory out of the defeat of the current iteration of Trumpcare. It would not be surprising if Trump made the following calculation: Obamacare is expensive. Republicans have failed to come up with a viable plan. I (Trump) will now send Congress my single-payer Medicare for all scheme.

Do not for one moment believe this is an impossibility.

First, single-payer Medicare for all is polling very well, and President Trump needs to boost his overall poll numbers. Trump voters have a tendency to twist themselves into pretzels to justify whatever change in position he presents, so his core voters will be with him.

In an attempt to get a win at any cost, Trump recently claimed that single payer would bankrupt the country. But he has been all over the place on the issue. As recently as May, he pointed out to the Australian prime minister that his country’s single-payer health care system was better than America's health care system.

The reality is that single-payer Medicare for all is America's only long-term health care option, and the American punditry is starting to talk about it.

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Democratic lawmakers ask Coast Guard to reconsider Potomac River shutdowns during Trump golf outings

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 22:19:20 +0000

Because Donald Trump will not stop golfing and doesn't care how many people he inconveniences for each and every outing, the Coast Guard is now planning to close the Potomac River for a two-mile stretch every time Trump visits his Potomac-adjacent self-named Northern Virginia golf course. This will be done in the name of security.

Two Democratic members of Congress are politely asking the Coast Guard if perhaps they can find a less onerous way to protect Captain Shouty McPutinfluffer during each weekend's interminable golf outings.

Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.) say the new Coast Guard proposal goes too far to inconvenience recreational boaters who use that popular stretch of the river — including a kayak program aiding wounded war veterans.

“That’s a very heavily utilized part of the Potomac,” DeFazio told The Hill on Thursday. “Closing the entire river randomly — because the president’s schedule isn’t announced in advance — would be incredibly disruptive. It’ll hurt commercial outfitters; it’s going to ruin people’s vacations. … And I think it’s unnecessary.

“The most polite alternative would be for Trump to recognize that he’s screwing up other people’s vacations and lives.”

Why this is needed is unclear; the White House steadfastly refuses to admit that Trump, seen at various times wearing golf shoes and golf gloves and in the company of guests towing golf bags behind them, is going golfing during these outings. So it shouldn't be an issue.

The two Democrats have written Coast Guard head Adm. Paul Zukunft to ask him to consider a less-encompassing security zone, and are hoping he will respond to their concerns when he appears before the Transportation Committee next Tuesday. At the moment, however, it looks like Donald Trump will indeed shut down traffic up and down the Potomac every future time he visits his club. Which is, at this point, approximately every sodding weekend. If you live in the area, get used to not being able to use the river for long stretches of time, with little to zero notice, because Donald doesn't give a rat's ass about what your weekend plans might be.

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On this, John McCain has been a true leader

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 23:01:11 +0000

I hope Senator John McCain has many years left, and that he is able to enjoy them with his friends and loved ones. He has served our country with bravery and with distinction, and suffered a great deal for it while being held as a prisoner of war. There is no doubt that he loves America. I also hope the next person who sits in his Senate seat is a Democrat, just as I do for any seat held by a Republican.

As for McCain’s political positions on major issues over the years, I disagreed with him most of the time, although less often than some other Republicans. And yes, he brought Sarah Palin on to the national stage, something that will always be a low point in his career. Let’s not revisit those issues here, or offer a list of the damaging legislation or policies he supported. That doesn’t mean they are forgotten—it’s simply not the purpose of this post.

I want to contrast McCain to his Republican colleagues on a particular matter, one that is even more important given the current occupant of the White House. That matter is race-baiting or Othering one’s political opponent in a way that engenders hate and plays—or more accurately, preys—on racial and cultural anxiety. In my book, Obama’s America, I wrote about the events discussed below, and this post draws on that material.

On October 10, 2008, at a town hall-style McCain campaign event in Lakeville, Minnesota, a supporter held the microphone and said that he was “scared” of what would happen if Barack Obama was elected president. Just take a second to ask yourself how Donald Trump would have responded.

Here’s what McCain said: “I want to be president of the United States and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be, but I have to tell you—I have to tell you—he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared" of "as president of the United States.” The crowd—people there because they were on McCain’s side—strongly booed him. Rather than whip his people into a frenzy, he went against them. You can question his motives if you like, but let’s focus on the fact that what he did was the right thing for America.

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Trump tweet-blasts Republicans for doing 'very little to protect' him from Russia investigation

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 20:41:13 +0000

Once again, Donald Trump is taking to Twitter to call the investigation into Russian election hacks a "Witch Hunt". This time, however, it comes with a twist.

x

x

What else Republican leaders could do to "protect" him that they're not already doing is, short of passing legislation to bar outright any investigation into himself or members of his campaign or administration, unclear.

He’s cracking up, you know. He went golfing today, came back, and had a Twitter fit that the Russian investigation was still going on. He can’t help tweeting about it, he can’t help obsessing about it, and no matter what his lawyers or staff members advise him to do he’s going to keep doing it.

This is not a well man, but we already knew that.

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Universal health care would save $17 trillion

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 20:31:01 +0000

$32 trillion. You may have seen this number in corporate media coverage and Republican propaganda. It’s the estimated cost of universal health care over a 10-year period. 

It’s a big number—a big, scary number. So hacks like the editorial board at The Washington Post use it to scare people with titles like “Single-payer health care would have an astonishingly high price tag.” 

Not just high—astonishingly high. 

Of course what the editorial board of The Washington Post leaves out (though you think they’d know better) is any comparison to what we’re currently spending. 

Compared to what we’re currently spending, universal health care or single-payer health care would save us $17 trillion over 10 years

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A hearty welcome to new White House hire Anthony Scaramucci, who we give six months, tops

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 17:50:57 +0000

Fresh on the heels of being named the White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, loudmouth bully-lout extraordinaire, a man held in such contempt by the rest of the White House staff that press secretary Sean Spicer quit immediately rather than work with him and Steve Bannon is alleged to have opposed his hiring with the statement "over my dead body", this glorious and wonderful new hire took to the Sunday shows to give a preview of every SNL opening skit for the next six months.

Among his first promises: Heads are going to roll in the White House if all these leaks don't stop right the heck now.

"If the leaks don't stop, I’m going to pare down the staff because it's just not right," he said. [...]

“If they’re going to stay on that staff, they’re going to stop leaking,” Scaramucci said. “If you’re going to keep leaking, I’m going to fire everybody."

What a superb way to set every last person in the White House against you from day one. Oh, this guy's a peach. Trump should have hired him long ago. Trump should have made him Vice President.

He also disputed whether Russia indeed was responsible for the election hacking that the nation's intelligence agencies unanimously agree they did in fact too. That is not new, from the White House. What is new is that this halfwit jackass did it in about the most dickish way he could possibly muster, on national television, under the apparent impression that what the Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders White House had been missing up until now is that all of those people are just too polite and polished.

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Who said it: Donald Trump, a comedian, or a conspiracy theorist?

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 18:01:01 +0000

When Donald Trump first announced he was running for president, comedians, satirists, and late night television hosts started to salivate. After all, the material he would provide for them would be comedy gold. Then something funny happened: you could not tell if what he was saying was real, or something a comedian, satirist, or conspiracy theorist said. Satirical news site The Onion may yet have to change to a legitimate news outlet, as they cannot top the outrageous things the current White House resident says. Let’s play a game. Below are some comments. Guess who made them: Trump, a           comedian/satirist, or a conspiracy theorist?  “I’ve looked very critically at NASA. Why is it that the astronauts have conflicting stories about the sky? Is it bright with stars, or a deep velvet black?” “As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them—they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over, as crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.” “Last week was Holocaust Remembrance Day and as you know six million people … were at my inauguration.” “They want to create two classes: the ultra rich and servants. At that point they would’ve taken over the world, and enslaved the population, and controlled everything.” “Our faith makes us a persecuted minority, mocked to our faces by friends and strangers for nothing more than First Amendment-protected beliefs.” “Radical feminism is destroying young men.” "When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday—no matter what happened Tuesday." "You're in such good shape, beautiful.” “At some point in the future, we’re going to look back and say how did we do it without space?” “This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something—but it could be infinity, right?” “The FAKE NEWS media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, and CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”  “I love a safe zone for people. I do not like the migration. I do not like the people coming.”   Do you have your answers ready? Let’s see how well you did. [...]



Democrats honing an economic battle cry for 2018

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 15:31:04 +0000

As Democrats gear up for the midterm elections in 16 months, the party has been working on a new “core message” that they hope will align them with ordinary Americans.

According to several reports, on July 24, Democrats in both the House and Senate will deliver a unified message of populism that they hope will carry them to electoral victory in 2018.

In crafting a new message, several Democrats have said publicly that they’ve got to be more than the anti-Trump party. According to a story on Yahoo News quoting New York Rep. Joe Crowley, the No. 4 House Democrat:

“I recognize that waiting for Trump to implode … will not work,” Crowley said. “What will work is Democrats having a message that appeals to the average American.”

The details of the new legislative agenda, called “A Better Deal,” have yet to be released, but they reportedly will be kept simple: No identity politics. No foreign policy. No social issues.

Um … haven’t we had a lot of success fighting for health care lately?

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Trump's Obama Derangement Syndrome isn't really about Obama

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 13:01:06 +0000

Full-blown Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS), seen in the spew and spittle mouthed by the insecure and egomaniacal occupant of the White House, is not simply a Trumpian affliction. We watched Republicans dig in to subvert and block “the black guy” from the moment he took office. Joe Wilson’s “you lie” hurled at President Obama during a joint session of Congress, ditching decades of decorum, was more than a dog whistle: It was a signal to a significant number of Americans that a black man in the “white” house would not be accepted. That’s ironic given that this nation is now headed to hell in a hand basket, led by the most lying liar in our history.

ODS continued to play out during Obama’s presidential years, culminating in the blocking of Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court nominee. No longer in office, President Obama is now Trump’s excuse for whatever ills he and his crime-klan have brought upon themselves.

But frankly, it has less to do with Barack Obama himself (or his wife) than it does with what I’d call “uppity negro-itis." Had any other black person, male or female, been elected to the most powerful position in the world, their fate would have been the same.

Barack Obama is simply the most visible global symbol of black achievement, and from the point of view of those who hold onto white supremacist thinking, all black achievement must be stifled, smashed, trashed, and vilified.

Don’t buy the “economic anxiety” argument you read about daily in newspapers and hear about from pundits and bloggers. That just masks the deep-rooted fear and loathing of all things black that don’t stay where they are supposed to be. 

Trump and others in power know very well how to throw red meat to the salivating masses stewing in racial resentment. Sure, they have black people they embrace—“white seal of approval blacks” who know their place, the Clarence Thomases and Ben Carsons. Those black folks who dare to proudly be who they are become instant targets. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch is a recent example of the “blame-a-black” syndrome which is still being played out for all of us to see.

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Yellow orange edition

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 11:00:59 +0000

Donald Trump’s Saturday morning Twitter flurry, which included not one, or two, but three seperate tweets attacking Hillary Clinton should serve as a reminder that there’s one term that gets left out all too often when describing Trump. Sure. He’s a pompous jackass. Absolutely, he’s a know-nothing idiot who has not the first clue about history, or science, or the lives that are lived by people who weren’t born with a silver spoon in every orifice. But there’s one term that sums Donald Trump up better than all the rest.

He’s a coward.

Nine months after the election, Trump is still hiding behind HIllary’s skirts every time he feels the least bit of heat. 

x

So many people? Yeah. Name two. Look at that. How craven. How gutless. How weak-kneed, spineless, and chicken-hearted. Lily-livered. Cowardly.

This eagerness to throw stones at others is the perfect synopsis of a man who’s reached 71 years without ever doing a hard day’s work. Someone who never known a single day of need. Someone whose every moment has been coddled and protected. Who never had to face the results of any decision without a whipping boy kept handy. Someone whose tiny finger always points anywhere but at himself.

This week, Sean Spicer opted out of daily defending the indefensible. So did Mark Corallo, the spokesperson for Trump’s legal team. And while Trump found at least one more person willing to stand between himself and acknowledging the truth, the pardon talk shows that Trump realizes this long buffet of self indulgence is finally getting ready to close. 

Let’s read what some pundits have to say.

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Saturday open thread for night owls: Six months after women's marches, resisters still engaged

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 02:31:05 +0000

At CommonDreams, Julia Conley writes—Six Months After Women's March, Invigorated Resistance Sees Impact: A new Pew Research poll finds that since President Donald Trump's inauguration, Americans, particularly women, have become more engaged in the political system by contacting elected officials, attending demonstrations, and even paying more attention to political news. Fifty-eight percent of women reported they had become more engaged in politics since Donald Trump entered office, compared with 46 percent of men. Fifteen percent of total respondents said they've attended a political event or protest since the election, and more than two-thirds of this group said they've attended anti-Trump events. The Pew poll was released exactly six months after the historic Women's March, which was comprised of demonstrations all over the world and which many regard as the beginning of the anti-Trump resistance movement. The Women's March originated with the idea of one woman, retired attorney Teresa Shook of Hawaii, who created a Facebook page the day after the 2016 election, calling for a March in the nation's capitol following Donald Trump's inauguration day. Within hours more than 10,000 people had agreed to participate. The originally hoped-for Women's March on Washington in the nation's capitol drew an estimated 725,000 marchers. But organizers from across the country gathered both large and small crowds, resulting in more than four million total participants according to two researchers at the University of Denver and the University of Connecticut, who tallied the numbers through crowdsourcing. [...]  What’s coming on Sunday Kos… Trump's Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) isn't really about Obama, by Denise Oliver Velez Democrats honing an economic battle cry for 2018, by Sher Watts Spooner Who said it, Donald Trump, a comedian, or a conspiracy theorist? By Mark E Andersen Universal health care would save $17 trillion, by David Akadjian On this, John McCain has been a true leader, by Ian Reifowitz Democrats, be careful, Trump may beat you to single-payer Medicare for all, by Egberto Willies • An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events • Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES TWEET OF THE DAY xGOP senators confirm controversial Trump judicial pick. Using fake name, he blogged conspiracy theories & false info https://t.co/WlisH7BU4S— Nina Totenberg (@NinaTotenberg) July 21, 2017  BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily Kos on this date in 2008—Andrea Mitchell Lectures Us On Media Responsibility: Not that she doesn't have a point ... on MSNBC this morning last night, referring to the footage of Obama hitting a basket in front of the troops, and the other trip photos, Andrea Mitchell said something like Let me just say something about the message management. He didn't have reporters with him, he didn't have a press pool, he didn't do a press conference while he was on the ground either in Afgh[...]



It may be up to Republicans to preserve the Union

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 02:00:59 +0000

There is a cancer growing on U.S. democracy and despite what GOP lawmakers might say publicly, plenty of them are spooked about it as more and more evidence piles up. For the good of the nation, a president facing such a storm should leave office until he is acquitted or convicted. Ideally, he would put the country above his own immediate advantage and leave voluntarily. If so, that’s well and good—we have a tried and true line of succession and it’s been used in the past more than once.

But this is Donald Trump. He will deny and defy any congressional findings or FBI conclusions, marshal his followers in support, pardon himself and any family members who are implicated, fire investigators, and precipitate a full-on constitutional crisis. It will be a crisis that can only be resolved by forcibly removing him. And that will not go over well with his more ardent followers:

A new Public Policy Polling survey shows, as if we needed any more evidence of this, that Trump voters live in an alternate reality that completely ignores the facts. This is especially true on the Russia matter, where more than 3/4ths of them don’t believe what Donald Trump, Jr. has publicly admitted to.
 

There are only two ways to stop this clown before a hypothetical sweep in 2018, and by then the damage to our democracy could be irreversible. That means that, at least for now, only Republicans can end this madness and restore order.

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Nuts & Bolts: A guide to Democratic campaigns—funding your future

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 01:01:01 +0000

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

This year we’ve been focused on activism, and how our activists outside of traditional campaigns wage their own campaign to help oust politicians opposed to them on the issues. Every step we make culminates in one action: getting candidates elected.

One of the steps many activists eventually look at is forming a PAC, a state or federal entity designed to help raise and spend money to assist candidates. When organizations start to grow they look at a way to take their energy and put it toward funding efforts, and building a state or federal PAC allows your activism to fund their efforts during a campaign season.

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This week in science: two score and eight years ago

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 00:01:09 +0000

It was 48 years ago this week when my two siblings and I gathered around the old style TV set, one of us still in diapers. That set only got three channels—that’s all there were at the time. But on that balmy summer night in Lexington, Kentucky, all three channels showed the same thing, and in homes all across the land, kids were staying up way past their bedtime to witness it:

Gathered around the television with his family, he watched in suspense as announcers kept emphasizing that they didn't know whether the lunar module, called "Eagle," was going to be able to land. Astronauts might have had to abort the landing if conditions got too risky.

After astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered the now-famous phrase, "the Eagle has landed," Robinson still didn't relax. He waited impatiently for the first moon walk, which didn't happen for another six hours. It was late by then, but he wasn't tired. He stayed up to watch the entire broadcast.

Shortly before 11 p.m. Eastern time, Armstrong climbed down the ladder and declared: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

In the midst of wars, civil unrest at home and aboard, and economic upheaval, the world briefly forgot its many troubles and watched, riveted, as an ancient dream, as old as humanity, played out right before our eyes. If only we had such an inspirational scene to look forward to today, as it now appears more chaos and civil unrest lies dead ahead.

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This week in the war on workers: CEOs being paid 271 times the average worker

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 22:55:54 +0000

The Economic Policy Institute is out with its annual look at CEO pay, and by two measures, the pay of CEOs at the nation’s 350 largest companies is nauseating: 271 times what the typical worker made. Though that ratio is down from its peak, consider that in 1989, the ratio was 59 to one. That means we’re talking about a shift that happened during the lives of Millennials. 

  • Using the stock-options-realized measure, the average CEO compensation for CEOs in the 350 largest U.S. firms was $15.6 million in 2016. Compensation in 2016 (data available through May) is down 4.3 percent (from $16.3 million) since 2015 but up 45.6 percent (from $10.7 million) since the recovery began in 2009. The fall in average compensation reflected a loss for the highest-paid CEOs while those in the bottom 80 percent earned more in 2016 than in 2015.
  • Using the stock-options-granted measure, the average CEO compensation for CEOs in the 350 largest U.S. firms was $13.0 million in 2016, up 3.8 percent from $12.5 million in 2015.
  • From 1978 to 2016, inflation-adjusted compensation, based on realized stock options, of the top CEOs increased 937 percent, a rise more than 70 percent greater than stock market growth and substantially greater than the painfully slow 11.2 percent growth in a typical worker’s annual compensation over the same period. CEO compensation, when measured using the value of stock options granted, grew more slowly from 1978 to 2016, rising 807 percent—a still-substantial increase relative to every benchmark available.
  • Using the stock-options-realized measure, the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio was 20-to-1 in 1965, peaked at 376-to-1 in 2000, and was 271-to-1 in 2016—down from 286-to-1 in 2015 but still far higher than at any point in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. Using the stock-options-granted measure, the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio rose to 224-to-1 in 2016 (from 220-to-1 in 2015), significantly down from its peak of 411-to-1 in 2000 but still much higher than the 54-to-1 ratio of 1989 or the 18-to-1 ratio of 1965.
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Spotlight on green news & views: ExxonMobil fined for sanctions outlawry; peak oil nexus

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 22:01:07 +0000

This is the 513th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the July 19 Green Spotlight. More than 27,435 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it. (The usual categories have been left out of this Spotlight because of the relatively small number of diaries that are included, not permanently from the series.) Moving them out. Besame writes—Daily Bucket: Rescue mission provides sanctuary for threatened herbarium specimens: “The threatened with destruction 470,000 herbarium specimens at the University of Louisiana at Monroe were rescued by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas this Tuesday. Half of the herbarium cabinets were loaded into freezer trucks (for pest prevention) and hit the road. They are moving from Monroe, Louisiana to Fort Worth Texas. The other half will be fetched in two weeks. BRIT recognizes the hard work of the many curators, as well as those people who worked closely with and supported the collections. BRIT vows to honor their contributions by making sure this priceless scientific collection continues to be accessible to the world. This herbarium will live on (and retain its name as the R. Dale Thomas Collection)!” Mother Mags writes—The GOP wants to make sure the Mexican gray wolf is a real species. Wonder why? “If you’re not a real, genuine species, but merely some mutt of a dog, then you shouldn’t qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Or so Republican thinking goes, according to a story in today’s Phoenix New Times: Buried in the dry language of a newly released budget proposal for the U.S. Department of the Interior is a line that you could easily miss: a directive to study the genetics behind the Mexican gray wolf and another species, the red wolf.Driving around the rural Southwest, it’s not uncommon to see billboards denouncing wolves and the wolf recovery project, which began reintroducing Mexican grays in the late ‘90s. Wolves of course are predators, they kill cattle and sheep, which the livestock industry and their political flunkies don’t like. But here’s the deal: Mexican gray wolves are native to this region, cattle and sheep are not. One contributes to a healthy environment, the other destroys it. For a long time we’ve known that removing predators from nature screws things up immeasurably, which is the point of the Endangered Species Act, signed in 1973 by Republican President Richard Nixon. We don’t protect species just because they’re really cute or extremely big and awesome, but because they’re ecologically linked to everything else.” [...]



Wisconsin bill would ban abortion training at university OB-GYN program

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 21:05:17 +0000

Republican Wisconsin state Sen. Andre Jacque introduced a bill that, if passed, would put the University of Wisconsin-Madison OB-GYN residency program’s national accreditation at risk. The bill, which was introduced in April as AB 206, would ban faculty from training their resident physicians in abortion care.

The Journal-Sentinel reports:

Jacque’s bill, introduced in April, would prohibit UW-Madison employees from performing abortions as well as training others or receiving training in performing abortions anywhere other than a hospital. Since the training requires participating in abortions and government dollars can’t be used to facilitate abortions, the training can’t take place at the university hospital. That would leave nowhere for UW-Madison residents to obtain it. They would have to join another residency program if they wanted to become a certified OB-GYN.

If passed into law, this would exacerbate the current OB-GYN shortage in the state, according to local medical groups. Calvin Bruce, a retired family doctor, testified on the behalf of the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians:

Our academy is neither pro-choice nor pro-life. We have members who have strongly held beliefs on both sides of that issue. We are strongly pro-patient. And we strongly oppose AB206 on workforce, medical and academic grounds.

You would not dictate to the cardiac surgeons how they should teach bypass surgery. Nor to the neurosurgeons how they should teach brain surgery. Does it make sense to presume you know better than obstetricians how to teach their craft?

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Trump's HUD turns a blind eye to housing segregation—and yes, it may benefit Trump's own business

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 20:01:15 +0000

It turns out that hiring your family’s event planner and/or Vice President of the Eric Trump Foundation for a high-level spot in the government's Housing and Urban Development agency may not lead to competent government decision-making.

Lynne Patton, a former event planner for the Trump family whose nomination to a HUD position drew criticism from policy experts and housing advocates last month, reversed HUD’s position on Westchester’s zoning laws on Tuesday. The agency had rejected 10 previous versions of the county’s “Analysis of Impediments,” a document which HUD grantees must submit to demonstrate their use of taxpayer money will not get spent into systems that tacitly reinforce racial segregation in housing.

Westchester’s fight with HUD originated from a lawsuit brought by the Anti-Discrimination Center. The county struck a settlement with HUD in 2009, but has failed to comply fully with it for close to a decade.

Despite being once again rejected just last April, Westchester County, New York, was able to finally skirt the HUD regulations requiring the county to demonstrate HUD funds would not be used for projects that encourage segregation with a devious plan indeed:

Westchester waited a few weeks once Patton was put in charge of the HUD office with jurisdiction over the county. Then, officials resubmitted the same analysis that was insufficient in April. Patton accepted the same figures her predecessors had rejected.

Patton has never worked in housing policy decision-making in her life, up until Trump put her in charge of these things. Coincidentally, resubmitting the same report that prior experts had rejected as insufficient turned out to be just fine when she thumbed through it.

Conveniently for the Trump family, however, weakening oversight of HUD programs will likely benefit them financially; the Trump Organization is co-owner of the largest federally subsidized housing complex in the nation, in Brooklyn, and relaxation of anti-discrimination regulations for that and similar New York properties will be a boon to landlords who want to continue to pocket federal cash but don’t want to be bothered with federal restrictions on who can get it.

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It's slowly dawning on Republicans that Trump just might be the worst president ever

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 19:30:54 +0000

All is not well in Republicanville. No matter how slavish the Fox News segments become, it ain't working; it is slowly dawning on powerful Republicans that the president they are so dutifully protecting and sucking up to may, in fact, be an idiot.

Trump’s struggles go beyond health care. More than six months into Trump’s presidency, Republicans have no legislative accomplishments other than the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a confusing foreign policy, and a White House that is perpetually in damage-control mode. From lawmakers and governors to donors and foreign policy experts, a certain realization is sinking in within the party, based on more than a dozen interviews in recent days: Donald Trump has been a historically weak and ineffective president.

That it took six months to start wondering whether the man who talked about grabbing women, who discussed his penis size during a presidential debate, who sent his press secretary to baldly lie about the size of the crowds on his inauguration day, and who is currently engaged in a public defense of his campaign team openly seeking the assistance of the Russian government during a period of unprecedented assault on our election systems by that government, is perhaps not the brilliant world-shaping genius he made himself out to be.

This is the problem with the Republican Party. They don't catch on too quick.

Even the president’s top backers are losing patience. Billionaire Trump patrons Rebekah and Bob Mercer are “apoplectic” over the health care debacle, with renewed fears that Trump’s lofty goals of changing Washington have become all but impossible, said a Trump administration adviser. The adviser added that lobbyists and establishment lawmakers are making Trump’s life more difficult. [...]

“They’re saying, ‘It can’t be done, he can’t change Washington,’” the adviser said, before putting more of the blame for the lack of progress on Senate Majority Leader McConnell. “It’s the Washington cartel at its worst revolting against the president.”

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This week at progressive state blogs: Challenger for Paul Ryan; NC's Cooper nixes offshore drilling

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 19:01:00 +0000

This week at progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Here is the July 15 edition. Inclusion of a blog post does not necessarily indicate my agreement with—or endorsement of—its contents. Cathy Myers on her Harley. Amy Lyn Smith at Electablog of Michigan writes—‘Single-payer healthcare is achievable’ says Cathy Myers, who wants Paul Ryan’s Congressional seat:  Cathy Myers literally lives across the street from Rep. Paul Ryan in Janesville, Wisconsin, so she knows exactly who she’s up against. Not to mention having witnessed his many attempts to wrest healthcare coverage away from millions of Americans just to give the wealthy a tax break. Healthcare is one of the primary reasons Myers decided to run for Ryan’s seat in Congress, which is up for grabs in 2018. She believes healthcare is a right — and that the healthcare plans supported by Ryan aren’t actually healthcare plans, she says. Why suggest a healthcare plan that isn’t one? The healthcare plan Paul Ryan proposed is actually a tax break for the very top, and the number of people that were going to be cut out of healthcare was staggering. The whole point of healthcare is to figure out how to cover people, not how to exclude people. With every new Republican proposal threatening to deprive millions more Americans of healthcare coverage, now may be the best possible time for Democrats to begin lobbying hard for what would actually help the most Americans: single-payer healthcare. According to Physicians for a National Health Program, single-payer health insurance, also known as “Medicare for all,” means a single public or quasi-public agency organizes healthcare financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands. Under a single-payer system, all residents of the U.S. would be covered for medically necessary services, including doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs. [...]



Every former CBO director signs on to letter telling Paul Ryan to take a flying leap

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 20:06:16 +0000

Campaign Action The House Speaker, in his inimitable snotty-ass frat boy way, called the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office that Trumpcare would cost 22 million people their insurance "bogus." Because when it comes to bogus numbers, Ryan knows what he's talking about. Usually, though, his bogus numbers are dusted with unicorn poop and pixie dust and say that destroying the safety net and cutting taxes for the very rich will save the economy. When the numbers are real, that's when Ryan gets it all wrong, as every former director that the CBO has ever had is happy to tell him—along with the rest of congressional leadership. The undersigned represent every former Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). We write to express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency’s role in the legislative process. CBO began serving the Congress in 1975. Over the past 42 years CBO has been firmly committed to providing nonpartisan and high-quality analysis — and that commitment remains as strong and effective today as it has been in the past. Because CBO works for the Congress, and only the Congress, the agency’s analysis addresses the unique needs of legislators. To meet the standard of nonpartisan objectivity, CBO makes no recommendations about policy, regularly consults with researchers and practitioners with a wide range of views (as can be seen in the agency’s panels of advisers and reviewers for major studies), and enhances its transparency by releasing extensive descriptions of its analytic techniques and forecast record. In other words, Mr. Ryan, they don't follow your practice of pulling numbers out of their asses. Instead, and this is going to be a completely foreign concept to Ryan, they use a "detailed understanding of federal programs and economic conditions, ongoing interactions with government officials and private-sector experts, the best academic research." Imagine that: Public servants who take their jobs and their duty to the nation so seriously that they use actual information that acknowledges reality. Again, this is going to go way over Ryan's head. But there just might be some Republican senator out there who takes her job seriously enough to pay attention to what the CBO is telling them, and to let their duty to their constituents—and to the damn nation—prevail. Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to repealing Obamacare and ripping health care away from millions of Americans. After your call, tell us how it went. [...]



View from the Left: What will the GOP do in 2018 if McConnell is nothing but a snake oil salesman

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 18:00:58 +0000

The GOP effort to pass health care repeal has been on life support for weeks, but Sen. Mitch McConnell just won't pull the plug. Managing to pass something now, however—especially with news that Sen. John McCain is fighting an extremely aggressive, even brutal, type of brain cancer—would be the legislative equivalent of pulling a rabbit out a hat without even having a rabbit to begin with. Whether he's the legislative magician everyone imagined him to be or simply a master of destruction is something we'll find out next week, when he's apparently going to demand a vote on a yet-to-be-determined bill: repeal with no replacement or one of two repeal/replace bills that would both be ruinous to the nation's health care coverage. Amid McConnell's shell game, Sen. Susan Collins is the only Republican senator who has been consistently firm in her opposition the past couple weeks. Here she is marveling at the fact that McConnell hasn’t even designated which bill they’ll be considering: "I don’t even know what we’re proceeding to next week," said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a centrist Republican who has called on her party’s leaders to take a more measured approach to fixing the current healthcare law. Other more moderate Republicans like Nevada's Dean Heller and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski seem to be waiting to see what kind of goodies McConnell can float their way. To some extent, so is Rand Paul on the conservative side. But it's McCain's declining health that could change everything for Republicans, and not just on health care. His potential inability to cast votes could reduce their edge in the Senate from 52 to 51 seats, even more razor thin than before. And frankly, McConnell hasn't proven to be much of a whiz at the vote counting so far. Nothing brought his incompetence into sharper focus this week than the spectacle of him and Donald Trump wining and dining half a dozen of the GOP's "yes" votes on health care Monday night, right as two uninvited Senators released statements that torpedoed the bill. McConnell, for all the hype about his genius, didn't even know who the weakest links in his caucus were, much less how to appease and persuade them. That's the backdrop against which we can now measure the prospect of Republicans passing anything through the Senate on a party-line vote with an even less predictable head count than they had just one week ago. [...]