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Published: Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:15:52 +0000

Last Build Date: Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:15:52 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want

Hospitals warn Republicans of 'unprecedented public health crisis' from Obamacare repeal

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 18:42:36 +0000

Repealing Obamacare is going to be a disaster on just about every level: for individuals, for state and local governments, for healthcare providers and insurers, and thus for the politicians who are doing it. That's the message that the insurance industry has been giving President-popular-vote-loser-elect Trump and congressional Republicans. Now the nation's hospitals are putting a number on it: at least $165 billion in losses, just to hospitals, in the next decade unless something equally as good replaces it.

The two main trade groups for U.S. hospitals dispatched a letter to the incoming president and Capitol Hill’s top four leaders, saying that the government should help hospitals avoid massive financial losses if the law is rescinded in a way that causes a surge of uninsured patients.

The letter, along with a consultant’s study estimating the financial impact of undoing the Affordable Care Act, makes hospitals the first sector of the health-care industry to speak out publicly to try to protect itself from a sharp reversal in health policy that Trump is promising and congressional Republicans have long favored. […]

[T]he American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) convened a news conference Tuesday to release the study’s findings and draw attention to their concerns. […]

Joann Anderson, president of Southeastern Health, a financially fragile rural hospital in Lumberton, N.C., one of that state’s most economically depressed areas, said the prospect of repealing the health law without a replacement to keep people insured is “gut-wrenching. . . . We cannot take additional cuts.”

The study used the only thing available for its analysis, the repeal bill Republicans pushed through this January, vetoed by President Obama. Since in the intervening year, Republicans haven't come up with a scrap of anything else, this is what they're going with. That bill, since it had to pass through budget reconciliation to avoid a filibuster from Senate Democrats, stayed on the taxing and spending parts of the law and eliminated the federal subsidies for people purchasing private insurance on the exchanges, the penalties for individuals and employers who don't comply with its coverage mandates, and the Medicaid expansion in 31 states.


Study shows media defined Trump based on what Trump said, and Clinton based on ... what Trump said

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:47:00 +0000

Called for banning people from entering the country based on religion. Email. Endorsed torture. Email. Called a deaf actress “retarded.” Email. Declared he would make the military commit war crimes. Email. Said a reporter was lying because she wasn’t attractive enough to be sexually assaulted. Email. Urged supporters to attack protesters at his rallies. Email. Mocked a reporter with a disability. Email. Called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Email. Said he’d release tax returns, then refused. Email. Repeat ad infinitum.

A study for Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy put some numbers to what we already knew: media coverage in 2016 was filled with false equivalency.

“False equivalencies abound in today’s reporting,” writes Patterson. “When journalists can’t, or won’t, distinguish between allegations directed at the Trump Foundation and those directed at the Clinton Foundation, there’s something seriously amiss. And false equivalencies are developing on a grand scale as a result of relentlessly negative news. If everything and everyone is portrayed negatively, there’s a leveling effect that opens the door to charlatans.” 

A foundation that did genuinely good works and which violated no rules was treated the same—or worse—than a personal foundation that was treated as a slush fund and primarily served to help Donald Trump. Arcane details of handing email were treated as equivalent of … anything at all.

The result was that despite the clear differences, the media coverage came down the same: 87 percent of stories about Trump and Clinton indicated they were not fit for office. 

But it was more than just the numbers that Clinton and Trump shared. It was the source. Donald Trump was allowed to define himself. He was also allowed to define Hillary Clinton.


Schumer to Republicans on Obamacare repeal: You break it, you own it

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:15:51 +0000

This is what Chuck Schumer needs to keep saying, and what Mitch McConnell needs to hear: Democrats aren't going to do anything to mitigate the disaster Republicans are going to create by repealing Obamacare. "They will own it," he tells Greg Sargent.

The emerging GOP plan to repeal Obamacare on a delayed schedule—and then maybe kinda sorta replace it later—has raised a big question: Will Democrats help Republicans pass a replacement that is far less generous and comprehensive than the health law is, allowing Republicans an escape from the political fallout from repeal?

In an interview with me, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer answered this question with a resounding No. Under no circumstances, he vowed, would Democrats throw Republicans such a political lifeline.

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

That seems pretty damn clear, even if maybe we would opt to put it more colorfully.


House Democrats call for bipartisan commission to investigate hacking

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:44:28 +0000

If emails that didn’t leave the personal server of an acting cabinet official are worth years of investigation, shouldn’t an effort to hack not just emails but the outcome of the election be worth checking out?

Two House Democrats called Wednesday for the creation of a bipartisan national commission — modeled after the one that investigated the Sept. 11 terror attacks– to investigate foreign interference in the 2016 election.

However, just because something seems reasonable doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. In fact, reasonableness might be the best way to filter out anything that has a fighting chance over the next four years.

President-elect Trump said Wednesday he still rejects, as he did during the campaign, the publicly stated conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community that the Russian government “directed” cyber attacks against political organizations as part of an effort to “interfere with the U.S. election process.” …

Trump’s unyielding view would seem to make it less likely there will be any sort of public probe.

Funny. I think if you had asked President Obama what he thought about the value of eight separate investigations into Benghazi, he might not have been wildly enthusiastic. But then, no one asked.

Only this time the candidate who benefited from these attacks appears to have the say over whether or not the acknowledged crime gets investigated. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to be the way that investigations are supposed to work.


Today in Trump appointments: Trump taps virulently anti-EPA Scott Pruitt as EPA chief

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:21:23 +0000

With hundreds of important administration appointments still percolating under Trump’s hairpiece, you might be feeling the need to conserve your outrage. You needn't bother. Short of appointing stuffed animals or corporate logos to cabinet posts, there’s no way the picks are going to any get worse than the choice of virulently anti-EPA Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head, yes, the Environmental Protection agency.

To say he's in the pocket of America's most polluting companies is an understatement. He was quite literally caught copying industry-written letters onto his own stationery and sending them to other government agencies as the opinions of his own office.

He's a crook, in other words. In exchange for pushing industry-written legal arguments as his own, he and other coordinating Republican attorney generals got, at last count, $16 million from those companies for their political campaigns. It's even fair to say that he only got on Trump's radar due to the ample financial padding provided by those firms.

Lobbyists and company officials have been notably solicitous, helping him raise his profile as president for two years of the Republican Attorneys General Association, a post he used to help start what he and allies called the Rule of Law campaign, which was intended to push back against Washington.

What does it profit a man to outsource his public duties to energy industry lawyers who will write up their preferred stance on issues for him to send out? It profits him plenty. We'll also be putting him near the top of the list of people who might end up facing indictments in the next two years.


Republicans back off threat to shut down government to undermine civilian control of the military

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:03:54 +0000

Despite what you might read in the Beltway press, let’s be crystal clear about this: The Republicans blinked.

On Tuesday, congressional Republicans began threatening to shut down the federal government if Democrats didn’t buckle under and allow them to ram through Donald Trump’s nomination of retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as secretary of defense. On Wednesday, though, the GOP backed down, meaning Mattis’ appointment won’t sail through the way they wanted—and that the government’s doors will stay open.

But much of the D.C. media that covers this kind of thing has had a hard time grasping how, precisely, events have played out, so here’s a timeline:

  • Last Thursday, Trump said he’d tap Mattis as his defense secretary. But there’s a big problem with this proposal: A 70-year-old federal law forbids anyone who has served on active duty in the armed forces in the last seven years from holding a senior defense post. Mattis only retired three years ago, so he's not eligible.
  • This longstanding law exists to preserve the doctrine of civilian control over the military, a bedrock principle of democracy: Only elected officials, not generals, should make decisions about how to use our armed forces, and that means keeping a healthy separation between active duty service and civilian life. So for Mattis to serve as secretary, both houses of Congress would have to pass a special amendment to that law.
  • Republicans, of course, are only too willing to undermine civilian control of the military, but Democrats are not. The same day Trump rolled out his Mattis pick, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced that she’d filibuster any effort to pass a special amendment for Mattis.
  • That means Republicans would need 60 votes in the Senate in order for Trump’s nomination to succeed, but they’ll only hold 52 Senate seats next year, so they’d need the support of at least eight Democrats, assuming the GOP sticks together. (Note: While cabinet nominations cannot be filibustered and thus only require 50 votes, the special amendment Mattis would need can indeed be filibustered.)
  • This week, congressional Republicans then prepared to throw one of their patented—and dangerous—tantrums, saying they’d attach this special Mattis amendment to a must-pass spending bill that would keep the federal government operating past Friday. In other words, if they didn't get their way on Mattis, they’d shut down the government.
  • Democrats told Republicans to get fucked.

In response, on Tuesday night, Republicans caved.


Why Obama, Biden, and Senate Democrats should be plotting a Jan. 3 Garland SCOTUS confirmation

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:26:06 +0000

Campaign Action

In case you've lost track, it's Day 297 since Justice Antonin Scalia died, and Day 266 since President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill his seat. on the Supreme Court. Republicans held firm on their contention that a sitting president shouldn't be able to have a SCOTUS nominee confirmed if that president is a Democrat, so here we are. But there are some very good reasons—for Republicans and Democrats—to seriously consider the new nuclear option proposed by David Waldman.

To briefly recap—and for the procedural background reading David's piece is critical—there's a window on Jan. 3 when Vice President Joe Biden will be presiding over the Senate to swear in the new and just re-elected senators in which Democrats have a 36-30 majority. If President Obama chooses to do so, he could renominate Merrick Garland. If Biden chooses to do so, he could recognize Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin as the de facto Senate leader (Chuck Schumer won't be sworn in yet, and remember, in this window Democrats have the majority). If he chooses, Durbin could "go nuclear" and seek a ruling from Biden that the Senate was not bound by the rules of the previous session. Biden could rule thusly, and give Durbin a message from President Obama that he has renominated Garland. Durbin would put it to the current 66 senators for a vote, and the majority Democrats would confirm Garland.

There's a whole mess of ifs involved in that scenario, but there are very good reasons why Democrats should be considering it—and even one for Mitch McConnell.


Mike Pence declares Trump 'mandate' at Trump-hosted Heritage Foundation dinner

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 18:59:54 +0000

Vice President-Elect Mike Pence continues to prove himself the right man to be Trump's right-hand man. There's no lie a petulant Donald Trump can demand that Pence won't promptly jog out on stage and repeat like he's Trump's personal Bullshit Butler.

Vice president-elect Mike Pence claimed Tuesday night that President-elect Donald Trump has a “mandate” to lead the country, as he ticked through a long list of conservative priorities for the new administration in what he vowed would be a busy first few months in office.

Only in Republican-land can losing the popular vote by millions still be considered a "mandate." George W. Bush considered it a "mandate" when he was chosen by Supreme Court decree; Trumpence's victory over the popular vote led to massive protests around the nation and they're still insisting it must be a "mandate" because—well, we could psychoanalyze this all we want but the short version will always be that it's because that's what liars do. Donald Trump's ego can't handle being the most unpopular president-elect in modern history, and Donald Trump's ego is the thing the Republican Party is determined to restructure the entire new American government around.

Mike Pence is damn lucky, because Chris Christie would have been great at his job. Chris Christie could have lied his ass off twelve times before lunch and still have ass left to contribute to the afternoon's efforts.

In a speech inside a hotel ballroom at the new Trump International Hotel just blocks from the White House, Pence vowed that the new team will quickly embark on a to-do list that includes repealing and replacing the federal health-care law, beefing up national defense and nominating a staunchly conservative Supreme Court justice.

Midday open thread: Our failed media, a scary FBI investigation, and a whole lot of earthquakes

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:00:31 +0000

Today’s comic by Matt Bors is Best case scenarios under Trump: ● The FBI is investigating a reporter because he tweeted a joke about fake news: The FBI has limited resources and must choose its targets carefully. As fake-news websites grow in influence, and people on the president-elect’s transition team spread ludicrous and dangerous claims — like the idea that a pizza place in Washington, D.C., is the site of a Clinton child-sex dungeon — it’s crucially important that the agency charged with investigating terrorism be able to tell the difference between what is a joke and what’s not. An agency that is using people’s tweets — and retweets — as evidence in terror trials should probably understand how Twitter works. The bureau needs a bullshit meter. ● That is a lot of earthquakes. (Watch until at least two minutes in, because wow.) ● How the media is abetting Trump's "Mission Accomplished" transition: As Politico’s Ben White says, Trump is inheriting the “Obama boom.” Perhaps Trump will preserve or build upon all of these gains. But in the likelier event that he screws some things up—if unemployment or the uninsured rate climb significantly—boasting about saving 300 Rexnord jobs will be whistling past the graveyard. Indeed, like George W. Bush’s aircraft carrier-staged declaration of victory in Iraq, Trump’s past antics might start to resemble “Mission Accomplished”—a huge PR victory in real time, but a longer-term symbol of failure and denial. ● Are you a Republican elector who doesn't want to vote for Trump? Free legal advice is available. ● United makes a move in the race to be the worst airline to fly on. ● A disastrous failure of the press. ● On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin provides a pundit roundup in absentia. One part “lol nothing matters,” and one part “SS,DD.” Joan McCarter notes Gop fissures over ACA repeal, Ohio’s attack on abortion, the IRS impeachment flop & the “for Trump only” legal waiver for Mattis. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon [...]

Democrats push to reform Electoral College after Hillary's historic popular vote win

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 18:47:44 +0000

Campaign Action

Nothing has brought the power disparity between voters in less populous states and those in more populous states into greater relief than Hillary Clinton's Electoral College loss against the backdrop of her historic popular vote win (now at nearly 2.7 million votes). House Democrats met Tuesday to discuss the current system's shortcomings along with possible solutions. Igor Bobic writes:

Democratic lawmakers hailing from states like California, New York, Virginia and Texas argued the balance of power unfairly skewed toward smaller, less populous states, and said that battleground states carried disproportionate influence in presidential elections. In the entire 2016 election, for example, almost every appearance by both candidates occurred in just 12 states.

“Under our current system, the votes of millions of people in non-swing states are effectively lost when they vote for the candidate who loses their state because all of that state’s electoral votes will be given to the other candidate,” Conyers said in his opening statement. [...]

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) noted that the Golden State, where votes are still being counted and where Clinton won by a historic margin, sent a disproportionate amount of tax dollars to the federal government compared to smaller states, which are net recipients of federal tax dollars.

“I don’t think we can sustain our American democracy by having the majority ruled by the minority,” she said.

Amen. Having a majority ruled by a minority that also receives an outsized share of the tax benefit given what they contribute is a recipe for pitchforks at some point down the road.


Congressional Republicans sucker punch American steel workers, scrapping 'Buy America' provision

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:16:50 +0000

Donald Trump may have positioned himself as the champion of American workers but Republicans on the Hill are already embracing his “do as I say, not as I do” modus operandi. Under the backing of Paul Ryan, the GOP leadership stripped a provision from a water bill Monday that would have required American-made iron and steel products to be used in infrastructure projects in Flint and elsewhere funded by the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown blasted Republicans, who removed the “Buy America” provision (which passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support) while the House and Senate were reconciling the bills. In other words, GOP leadership scrapped it behind closed doors.

“By stripping meaningful Buy America rules from the water infrastructure bill, Washington leadership is choosing China and Russia over Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” said Brown. “This was the first major test of whether Washington establishment Republicans would live up to President-elect Trump’s promises to put American products and American workers first – they failed, and American iron and steel workers will pay the price.”

Now, Brown is teaming up with Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania to insert the provision back in the bill.

They want to reattach the provision to a nearly $12 billion Water Resource Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes dozens of infrastructure projects around the country and is on track to pass the House this week.

“I’m not giving up on this fight,” Baldwin said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “Why would we pass a bill that only benefits Russian and Chinese steel corporations when we could be providing certainty to American manufacturers of steel and iron?”


Time's Person of the Year: Der Pumpkinfuhrer

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 18:01:18 +0000

If you're going to pick a Person of the Year, and the year you're stuck with is garbage pile known as 2016, you only have two choices. You can launch a nationwide hunt for a tree stump that looks a little like Jesus, or you can just pick the person who most obviously represents the rapid decay of western civilization and go home early.

Time Magazine doesn't have the budget for a nationwide stump search, so here we are.


Trump himself reacted precisely as you would expect him to react, by praising Time as a very important magazine and declaring it a great honor despite the offense of Time calling him, on the cover, President of the Divided States of America. This praise is a switcheroo from a year ago, when Trump was grousing over the choice of not-him even though he was never in the running and everyone was of the general opinion that western democracy would eventually lance him like the man-boil he was.

We can imagine Time encouraged him to take that portrait above as an unsubtle dig at the man. So let's imagine that. And let's give this one to Trump; he may have lost the popular vote by what's now becoming near-comical margins, he may still be unqualified and have the public demeanor of a rampaging toddler, but Der Pumpkinfuhrer is indeed a very, very important person now.

But it doesn’t mean anybody is going to stop making fun of him, and that is going to Drive. Him. Nuts. In the meantime, however, he should frame that Time cover and put it with his other images that adorn his office shrine. What the hell, he should probably frame both those covers.


Imagine the headlines if Obama rewarded Carrier for shipping 1,250 jobs abroad

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 16:46:04 +0000

So after a week of hearing about popular-vote loser Donald Trump “saving 1,000 jobs” in Indiana, we’re seeing the reality trickle out little by little. 

We know that of the 1,100 jobs Trump claimed to have kept in the country, 350 were white-collar R&D jobs that were never going anywhere. We know that Trump bribed Carrier with $7 million. We know that 550 jobs from that Indianapolis plant are still being shipped to Mexico. And we know that another 700 jobs at a separate factory in Huntington, Indiana, are also being shipped off to Mexico. 

So imagine the headlines if President Barack Obama had tried to pull the same stunt?

Obama gives Carrier $7 million in taxpayer dollars, Carrier still ships 1,250 jobs to Mexico!

And the thing is, that headline would be accurate, unlike the shit headlines Trump is getting today. 

Fact is, the fakest news is the supposedly “real” news. 


Senate Republicans fighting on Obamacare repeal, Democrats passing the popcorn

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:06:19 +0000

After a meeting with the guy who will be doing popular vote loser Donald Trump's work in the White House, Mike Pence, Senate Republicans are no closer to having a plan for their Obamacare repeal plan. They know they want to do it. They know they want to do it first thing and have it on Pence's Trump's desk on day one, but how—and mostly importantly when—the law is unraveled is a bone of major contention, and the Pence meeting didn't provide any help.

“The view on that probably is in a constant state of evolution, based on who you talk to,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader. “The question is: What’s that duration? Structurally, it’s at this point an open question. We’re hoping to get some direction.” […]

The length of the transition is pitting hard-line conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz and members of the House Freedom Caucus, who favor a relatively speedy replacement, against Senate leaders who are pushing the three-year option.

“It took six years to get into this mess; it’s going to take us a while to get out of it,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). “One thing I know for sure is we can’t fail to deliver on the promise to repeal Obamacare.” […]

“The sooner we can get rid of it, the better,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the outgoing leader of the Freedom Caucus.

“The Democrats passed it in 14 months,” added Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.). “I’m not going to vote for anything that’s longer than two years.”

It's almost as if they don't understand how all this stuff works. But the Freedom Caucus maniacs have never really put a whole lot of effort into the making of stuff, like laws, just the blowing up part. They haven't bothered to figure out the ramifications of the blowing up part—destruction is their end, and the sooner the better. But for slightly more sophisticated lawmakers who aren't in gerrymandered safe districts, instant gratification isn't enough—they have to think about the next election, of course. And they have to realize just how much damage they'll be doing by taking insurance away from 20+ million people. If they go for a three-year transition, they'll be right back in the middle of a presidential election. But two years is probably not long enough to have any kind of replacement plan ready.

Speaking of replacement, it's pretty telling that they can't even get on the same page on how to repeal the damn law. There's not a chance in hell they can actually make a replacement law that they can get all Republicans on board with. So incoming Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is piling on: "They have nothing to put in its place. […] And believe me, just repealing Obamacare, even though they have nothing to put in its place, and saying they’ll do it sometime down the road, will cause huge calamity, from one end of America to the other. They don’t know what to do. They’re like the dog that caught the bus." So this rush to repeal? "To our Republican friends across the aisle," he said, "bring it on." 


Keith Ellison to run DNC full-time if elected

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 16:35:12 +0000

It’s unfortunate that the race for the DNC chair has sucked us back into the primary wars, because really, the two serious candidates, Keith Ellison and Ilyse Hogue, are both impressive in their own rights. There is nothing from the primary battles that is of any relevance to these two candidates, no matter who you supported. 

Criticism of a part-time DNC chair was always warranted. Running the party has to be a full-time job. And so is being a congressman. So if Ellison tried to do both at the same time, he’d be short-changing one or the other of the jobs. Ellison/Sanders partisans tried to claim it was a non-issue, but it was the biggest issue facing Ellison’s candidacy. But no longer

In order to further their commitment and maximize my effectiveness, I have decided to resign as a member of Congress if I win the election for DNC chair. 

Beautiful. We should never again let anyone treat the DNC like a part-time job. Ellison’s statement is a response to the DNC delegates demanding full-time attention to the party’s vexing problems. And Ellison’s commitment to resigning his congressional seat if he wins is a testament to the seriousness in which he’s taking this race. 

Ellison still needs more fire in his platform. We need more specifics on how he would bolster state parties and we need to know how he’ll reform the primary process—from the calendar, to the caucuses, to the superdelegate system. He glaringly ignored that issue in his platform, thus I still think Hogue’s platform is superior. But there’s plenty of time to address those inadequacies, and today, he eliminated the biggest challenge to his candidacy. 


State of the Recount—Michigan may be halted any minute now

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 16:03:19 +0000

Dueling court rulings have put the Michigan recount at risk of a premature end.

A statewide recount of the Nov. 8 presidential election results could stop following a 10:30 a.m. hearing Wednesday after three days of court battles in two states.

On Tuesday evening, a Michigan Court of Appeals panel ruled that Jill Stein and the Green Party weren’t entitled to call for a recount. That ruling encouraged Republicans to take the case back in front of U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith.

After a set of conflicting decisions on Tuesday, this one could drive a stake through the recount for good.

Wednesday’s hearing could cap a two-day flurry of legal battles. On Sunday, Goldsmith ordered the hand recount of 4.8 million ballots start immediately. But Tuesday, with the recount underway in several counties, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati suggested the judge reconsider his order if state courts ruled against Stein, which happened late Tuesday.

There’s an additional case pending in front of the Michigan State Supreme Court, but if Goldsmith upholds the ruling from the Court of Appeals, that decision may be moot.


Trump says he sold all his stocks in June, and told 'everybody' except for ... everybody

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 15:11:55 +0000

In an interview on Today on Wednesday morning, Donald Trump was asked why he sold his stocks in June, and why he kept the fact that he had unloaded his account a secret.

Lauer: Why did you sell all your holdings in June?

Trump: Because I felt that I was very much going to be winning and I think that I would have a tremendous—a really, a conflict of interest owning all of those different companies.

That’s a switch. Previously Trump has claimed that the president can't have a conflict of interest

Lauer: So why not announce it back in June when you were under fire for a lack of financial transparency?

Trump: Oh, I let everybody know. I let everybody know.

“Everybody” apparently means Trump’s brokers. Or perhaps Ivanka, because otherwise everybody simply means nobody. 

Trump’s financial disclosure form for 2015 shows him being at the top of an incredible 516 companies as well as having revenue from 168 sources. It notes Trump as having more than $100 million in stock funds and hedge funds (with BlackRock’s Obsidian Fund at the top of the list). That 2015 statement also includes five brokerage accounts with stock in over 280 individual companies.

Trump’s 2016 statement shows ownership in many of the same stocks, but rather than being issued in July, the 2016 statement was put out in May—just one month before Trump says he quietly unloaded all his stock. 

There are also hints in the 2016 form that Trump wasn’t simply hush-hush about his actions then: he might not be telling everything now.


McConnell wants Democratic 'cooperation' on repealing Obamacare. Oh yeah? Get f*cked, buddy

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 22:30:02 +0000

Mitch McConnell must think he’s got some serious balls. Check out this bullshit:

McConnell told reporters that repealing Obamacare would be "the first item up in the new year," and the Kentucky Republican that he would like to "get Democratic cooperation" during the difficult process of replacing "a very, very controversial law."

Yeah, he’d like some “Democratic cooperation”? What kind of a sick joke does he think he’s playing? That’s like a torturer asking a prisoner for “cooperation.”

But Democrats are nobody’s prisoner. In fact, we’re the party that won more votes—a lot more votes—for both the presidency and the Senate than McConnell’s own party did. And now he thinks we’re going to help him undo our signature achievement that’s bettered the lives of millions?

Chuck Schumer is having none of this crap:

"Bring it on," the New York Democrat said. "They don’t know what to do. They’re like the dog that caught the bus."

Right on. We’ve got three more words of our own for McConnell: Get fucked, buddy.


Bill banning abortion at six weeks goes to Ohio governor's desk

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 14:33:42 +0000

Ohio lawmakers sent a “heartbeat” abortion bill to Gov. John Kasich for his signature Tuesday night. The bill would ban abortions as soon as the heartbeat of a fetus could be heard, something that usually occurs in the first trimester by the end of six weeks. Earlier in the day the Ohio House added the "Heartbeat Bill" to another measure intended to improve the process by which medical professionals report child abuse.  The (State) Senate voted twice: First, they approved 20-11 the decision to tack on the "Heartbeat Bill" language onto House Bill 493. After the amendment passed, the state senators passed the bill with a 21-10 vote that largely went along party lines. Kasich has said he is pro-life except in instances of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is in danger. And earlier this year Kasich signed a bill to ban the state from contracting for health services with any organization that performs or promotes abortions -- a measure widely seen as a way to defund Planned Parenthood. He will have 10 days to veto the measure. If he doesn't take action, the bill would automatically become law. In response to the lawmakers’s action, the ACLU of Ohio tweeted a reminder to Kasich. xIf @JohnKasich signs #HeartbeatBill, we'll sue. #20WeekBan may pass as early as tmrw. Both are unconstitutional & should veto. #StoptheBans— ACLU of Ohio (@acluohio) December 7, 2016 Arkansas and North Dakota both passed “Heartbeat” abortion laws only to see them struck down by federal courts. Ohio state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, a Democrat from Boardman, said the bill would lead to "expensive lawsuits" that would divert resources away from more pressing issues like the opioid crisis. "To the taxpayers of Ohio, I am sorry that your money will have to be used to defend this bill in the court system." [...]

Republicans court government shutdown to override law blocking Trump's defense nominee

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:52:47 +0000

Trump has formally nominated retired Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of Defense, and Republicans have responded with their give-us-Mad Dog-or-give-us-shut down waiver. 


It’s a one time exemption to the little idea that, in the United States, the military is supposed to stay under civilian control. In one sprawling sentence, the GOP overrides a 70-year-old law that keeps recent military officers from occupying senior positions in defense.

But Republicans in Congress are, of course, only too happy to let the Trump steamroller mash them to bits and are eager to amend the law so that Mattis can become defense secretary. This custom “waiver” would have to pass both houses of Congress, and Democrats, led by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, have promised to filibuster it.

A filibuster would be good, but not only are Republicans pushing for this special, one-time, Trump-only override, they’re attaching it to a Continuing Resolution needed to fund the government.

Republicans tucked a measure intended to expedite the confirmation of Gen. James Mattis to be secretary of defense into a must-pass Congressional spending bill late Tuesday.

It’s a move intended to limit debate though it doesn’t block filibuster of the bill. Expect Republicans to frame it as if Democrats are shutting down the government in trying to stop the waiver, rather than Republicans shutting down the government by recklessly attaching this waiver to must-pass legislation.


Morning Digest: Sen. Tom Carper could retire in 2018, and here's who might try to replace him

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:00:16 +0000

Leading Off Campaign Action ● DE-Sen: Democratic Sen. Tom Carper has served continuously in Delaware politics for 40 years, ever since he first won election as state treasurer in 1976. After that, he won a seat in the House in 1982, then became governor in 1992, and finally got elected to the Senate in 2000, defeating incumbent Republican Bill Roth in a 56-44 landslide. But though he's twice won re-election with two-thirds of the vote, Carper hasn't yet made up his mind about whether to seek a fourth term in 2018; according to a statement from his office, the senator will make a decision "in the new year." Should Carper opt to retire, the race to succeed him could be interesting. Most, if not all, of the action would be on the Democratic side, and progressives would be eager to replace the very centrist Carper with someone more liberal, though who that might be is an open question. Outgoing Gov. Jack Markell, who was term-limited, is just 56, and could be interested in a return to office. Markell would probably have the best chance to clear the field, though other First State Democrats could decide that a rare open Senate seat is worth fighting him over. There are plenty of other Democrats who may be interested. Rep.-elect Lisa Blunt Rochester, who will represent the entire state in the House, hasn't even been sworn in yet, but she could nevertheless conceivably run (she certainly would not be the first House freshman to do so). State Attorney General Matt Denn was mentioned as a possible 2016 gubernatorial candidate before deferring to Rep. John Carney, and he could take a look at an open Senate seat. There's also a non-zero chance that Joe Biden, who clearly isn't quite ready to retire from politics, could seek to return to his longtime home in the Senate. But Carney, who will become governor in January, almost certainly won't start looking for a new job in D.C. As for Republicans, they've been shut out on the federal level in Delaware for some time. Hillary Clinton carried the First State 53-42, and the last time the GOP won a Senate race there was in 1994, when Roth was re-elected for a fifth term. However, Republican Ken Simpler prevailed in a bid for state treasurer fairly decisively during the Republican wave two years ago and could try to go for broke in what would be another midterm election. [...]

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:30:16 +0000

There’s no way to keep up with The Crazy. There just isn’t. We can only hope to divide and conquer. But, boy, is it hard to sift through this stuff on your own. Luckily, I know a trick that works on Wednesdays... Help us, Joaniwan Kenobi! You’re our only hope! (No pressure or anything, though.) Listen LIVE right here at 9:00 AM ET! Well, we went ahead and did it. We “went commercial.” Sort of. That is, we turned on ads in the YouTube version of our podcasts. So everyone here should make a point of going there, “watching” the podcasts, and clicking on all the ads, or whatever it is you have to do to make money magically appear in our account. The YouTube channel is actually a remarkably easy way of listening to the podcast on your mobile device, too. And we might even make a dollar! Don’t want to play that game? Well, there’s always good, old fashioned donations! Please consider  subscribing to provide ongoing, monthly support via Patreon. Not sold yet? Surely the below FREE SAMPLE of our show will convince you! x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon Yesterday we talked to you about donating via Patreon to KITM, and you did! Thank you! Did you donate because we reminded you, or in the hope that we would remind you less? Well, our present goal is $15 million this year. David Waldman insists he doesn’t need that much, but I ran up a couple cards, so please turn a million of your friends onto the good we got here and everybody will be better for it! Bob Dole organized Donald’s call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. This doesn’t seem the recommended, normal way of diplomacy, but bombs didn’t drop yet so maybe we’re OK? Trump still uses his phone for special occasions, but do you miss out if he blocks you on Twitter? David discusses January 3, High Noon. The flood of trolls on his twitter feed indicates that his targeting might be close. David recommends calling your Senator, Vice President, President, Mayor to push them along on this, and other issues. Speaking of trolls, here’s a bot that trolls Twitter’s worst Anti-Semitic trolls, and probably Anti-Semitic troll-bots as well. More good news: This loser finally leaves. Jake Tapper deserves a drink, and a free pizza. Bad news: This loser returns. The broken, frustrating polling system continues to be broken and frustrating. (Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold. [...]

Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:15:43 +0000


Setting a Presidential Benchmark

I ran across this column from ten years ago, when Columbia University Professor and respected historian Eric Foner deemed George W. Bush the worst president ever, even before his second term was up. These were among his still-valid reasons for the designation as he compared #43 to his bottom-rung compadres:

At a time of national crisis, Pierce and Buchanan, who served in the eight years preceding the Civil War, and Johnson, who followed it, were simply not up to the job. Stubborn, narrow-minded, unwilling to listen to criticism or to consider alternatives to disastrous mistakes, they surrounded themselves with sycophants and shaped their policies to appeal to retrogressive political forces (in that era, pro-slavery and racist ideologues). […]

Still can’t believe Donald effing Trump is going to be added to presidential souvenir plates. Gross.

Harding and Coolidge are best remembered for the corruption of their years in office (1921-23 and 1923-29, respectively) and for channeling money and favors to big business. They slashed income and corporate taxes and supported employers' campaigns to eliminate unions. Members of their administrations received kickbacks and bribes from lobbyists and businessmen. "Never before, here or anywhere else," declared the Wall Street Journal, "has a government been so completely fused with business." The Journal could hardly have anticipated the even worse cronyism, corruption and pro-business bias of the Bush administration.

Despite some notable accomplishments in domestic and foreign policy, Nixon is mostly associated today with disdain for the Constitution and abuse of presidential power. … Nixon considered himself above the law.  Bush has taken this disdain for law even further.

Trump hasn't even taken office yet and his list of offenses---inciting hatred of minorities, poking nuclear nations with a stick, declaring himself above the law, filling his cabinet with conspiracy theory peddlers and Wall Street barons---is already as long as his knee-length neckties. Professor Foner, still observing and commenting on history ten years later, is gonna have his hands full documenting the horribleness of #45. I hope he’s got a decently-stocked liquor cabinet. 

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


Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: More on election results and what voters really wanted

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 12:30:16 +0000

xThe fact that @PatMcCroryNC lost and Trump won in NC is a pretty good case against arguments that "identity politics" cost Dems the election— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) December 5, 2016  Derek Thompson/Atlantic nails it: The Dangerous Myth That Hillary Clinton Ignored the Working Class To many white Trump voters, the problem wasn’t her economic stance, but the larger vision—a multi-ethnic social democracy—that it was a part of. After the election, some people called for an end to “identity politics” that promotes niche cultural issues over economic policy. But any reasonable working-class platform requires the advancement of policies that may disproportionately help non-whites. For example, hundreds of thousands of black men stay out of the labor force after being released from prison sentences for non-violent crimes. For them and their families, criminal justice reform is essential economic reform, even if poor whites see it as a distraction from that “real” issues that bedevil the working class, like trade policy. The long-term future of the U.S. involves rising diversity, rising inequality, and rising redistribution. The combination of these forces makes for an unstable and unpredictable system. Income stagnation and inequality encourage policies to redistribute wealth from a rich few to the anxious multitudes. But when that multitude includes minorities who are seen as benefiting disproportionately from those redistribution policies, the white majority can turn resentful.  If you do it right, WWC might be pissed. That’s what we need to understand and deal with. Sometimes, you need to adjust. Other times, you need to outvote. That’s Politics 101. [...]

Open thread for night owls: Google says it will reach 100% renewable energy parity in 2017

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 04:00:16 +0000

Chris Mooney: Google, a trendsetter in the field of corporate purchases of wind and solar energy, made a striking proclamation Tuesday — by next year, it forecasts that it’ll be purchasing as much renewable electricity as it uses across its vast operations. “Essentially what it means is that we will be buying as many renewable energy megawatt hours as we’ll be consuming at our facilities,” said Gary Demasi, Google’s head of global infrastructure and energy. “Add them up at the end of the year, and they will match.” Google is using power purchase agreements to reach renewable energy parity with its needs: While not all facilities can be matched precisely with renewable energy sources, Google will purchase renewable energy to offset non-renewable power it does use. To reach this goal we’ll be directly buying enough wind and solar electricity annually to account for every unit of electricity our operations consume, globally. And we're focusing on creating new energy from renewable sources, so we only buy from projects that are funded by our purchases. Over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option. Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy. HIGH IMPACT STORIES • TOP COMMENTS • OVERNIGHT NEWS DIGEST TWEET OF THE DAY xSaturday is a Day of Action targeting @WellsFargo. It's time that they #DefundDAPL. Register public actions: #NoDAPL— Sacred Stone Camp (@SacredStoneCamp) December 6, 2016  BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily Kos on this date in 2008—Obama: Biggest public works investment since Eisenhower planned: Make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work. Second, we will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money. Third, my economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen.  We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Another weird Taiwan call story, and some new perspective on it. More on the #HighNoon proposal to confirm Garland. What if the POTUS blocks you on Twitter? A bot that trolls trolls. Your new NSA believes the Comet Pizza nuttery. Michigan recount woes.  x Embedded Content  YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon [...]

Adult Swim cancels alt-right sketch show 'Million Dollar Extreme'

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 03:30:17 +0000

Humor, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder and very subjective. However, it’s been my observation that the comedy which works for me does so because it has an element of awful truth in it. When a comedian talks about screwing up on a date, or the horrible behavior of their relatives, or satirizes a trend in society, I laugh because on some level I’ve been there or seen it myself. And sometimes, when removed from the moment, the absurdity of it all in the grander scheme lets one laugh about it, instead of crying.  But it works because there’s truth in it. There’s a realness which comments on an everyday experience and might make one wonder: why does it have to be this way. To me, this is why comedy based in right-wing ideology hasn’t usually worked when attempted on television or in movies. It’s not some liberal, Hollywood conspiracy to keep conservatives out of media. It’s because it’s not based in reality and doesn’t connect on a fundamental level with people’s experiences. Created by the sketch comedy group Million Dollar Extreme, Adult Swim’s Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace made some news back in August because of the alt-right views of one of the show’s creators, Sam Hyde, which the series expressed in some ways. The very fact that Adult Swim gave Hyde and his sketch group a show raised eyebrows, since Hyde’s behavior and actions have been the very definition of “deplorable.” Hyde has taken to Twitter to express his hate for Hillary Clinton, question her health, retweet the mental coo-coo blatherings of Alex Jones, and share videos about a certain pizza parlor conspiracies that caused a nutjob to show up and try to shoot the place up over the weekend. Yesterday, Adult Swim canceled the show. This came after there was reported infighting within the network among other show creators who were lobbying to get it off the air. Three weeks ago, actor and comedian Brett Gelman publicly stated he would refuse to work with Adult Swim anymore, citing Million Dollar Extreme as one of the reasons. [...]

AP reveals it had to pull reporter from Trump rallies due to 'dangerous situation'

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:30:33 +0000

Journalists are taught to never make themselves part of the story. When the journalists become the story, however, blind devotion to this notion can result in editors hiding important information from the public. AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, in a panel discussion last week: “Everybody who covered this campaign was challenged in ways they never had been before. Like many people who’ve had people on a campaign trail, we had — if you were at a pen at a Trump rally and confronted with language that most of us didn’t learn at home. We had to pull a couple of people, rotate a couple of people out when racist, sexist — the most vile language I’ve ever heard.” Were reporters requesting to be relieved? asked Issenberg. No, replied Carroll: “The one that we did pull out we pulled out because it was becoming a dangerous situation for that person, but we were with every candidate all the way, every minute.” Which reporter? Carroll didn't say. But the news that Trump political events were becoming a "dangerous situation" for one of her reporters and that others had to be "rotated out" due to the abuse hurled at them from Trump's crowds is significant and newsworthy information. It shouldn't have been hidden. Throughout and after the campaign, Donald Trump made an explicit point of calling individual reporters out by name at his rallies when they—or someone else in their news organization—reported information he did not personally like. NBC's Katy Tur was a frequent target. Just last week, Trump continued the practice with a tweetstorm against CNN's Jeff Zeleny, who dared report that Trump's false claims of "millions" of illegal voters were "blatant and baseless." This led to Fox News' Sean Hannity attacking Zeleny as well. (Though it did take a day, because that's how long it takes for something Donald Trump swallows to reach where Sean Hannity lives.) That Trump's and Trump's allies' habit of singling out individual reporters for public abuse resulted in a "dangerous situation" at his rallies is not news that should be buried by an editor until after the election is over. It demonstrates the real costs of a candidate's political rhetoric. It is objectively not just newsworthy, but alarming. And Trump is using it most aggressively to attack reporters who report the truth about false information peddled by Trump himself; the very definition of an attack on the free press. Why are we just hearing about this now? [...]

The House Contempt of Science Committee gets rolled

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 02:30:18 +0000

After months of record highs worldwide and weeks of of unseasonably warm temperatures stretching all the way from Canada to the North Pole, the dreaded polar vortex looks poised to return and finally deliver winter to much of the nation. Your holiday weather advisory includes mendacity in the US capital, as senators and reps will arrive with snowballs in hand announcing the end of the very climate change they’ve long denied was happening.

While traditional media struggles with the right way to call out lies and whoppers, Trump people have now moved on to saying there are no such things as facts in our gleaming new, post-truth world! Which makes you wonder why the so-called House Science Committee still bothers to shadow box with quaint notions based on some ancient mystical device called a thermometer:

On Thursday, the committee’s Twitter account hopped on this anti-climate-science bandwagon. It tweeted a link to a story titled “Global temperatures plunge. Icy silence from climate alarmists” that was published by Breitbart—the hard-right, white-nationalist-supporting news outlet that saw its chairman, Steve Bannon, become President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

Yes, the committee got hosed by a dingbat at an alt-right—aka white supremacistwebsite, and no they don’t seem to care about either the lack of accuracy or the nasty company they’re now openly keeping. But the House pseudo-science committee wasn’t alone; the dingbat(s) in question simply fudged and made up data, then reported it as if it were real, and more than a few news-y organizations got suckered in. 


First fissures exposed among Republicans in Medicare privatization, Obamacare repeal

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:13:40 +0000

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) might just make herself useful in 2017 as she prepares for what is an almost certain run for governor back home. She's saying she's not ready to go there on either Medicare privatization or Obamacare repeal.

“Suffice it to say I have a number of reservations,” Collins told the newspaper. “A complete upending of a program (Medicare) that by and large serves seniors well is not something that appeals to me.”

Collins' comments signals an early and significant departure from GOP unity on the issue, which will be needed to overhaul something like Medicare and will be essential to repealing and replacing Obamacare. If Republicans lose too many lawmakers on these topics, they won't be able to follow through with promises to gut Obamacare.

Collins said she had voted against similar proposals to voucherize Medicare in the past. […]

In the interview, Collins also revealed she was uneasy about repealing Obamacare if Republicans hadn't drafted legislation to replace it. That's significant because every Republican member matters a lot when it comes to repealing Obamacare. One of the strategies up for discussion right now among Senate Republicans is to repeal Obamacare in January using budget reconciliation, a special process that only requires 51 votes in the Senate, and then give senators up to three years to replace it.

Collins isn't an Obamacare supporter, but she doesn't have to be to aware of the disastrous consequences if it's repealed with nothing to replace it. She also doesn't have to support it to help Democrats derail its imminent destruction. She's not totally alone in this, as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has been calling for some caution in doing away with it immediately. 

She's the first Republican to really say out loud that privatizing Medicare is a bad idea, though. Her opposition, however, could prove crucial in giving other Republicans room to save themselves. Every single Republican resisting ending Medicare as we know it counts in bolstering the Democrats' fight.


New York Times public editor helps Tucker Carlson get the vapors over Trump-critical reporter tweets

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:31:43 +0000

It took years and years, but 2016 is already a cesspool so some idiot decided to put Tucker Carlson on television again. His contribution to journalism this time will apparently be castigating real reporters for having opinions of their own, which is really the only consistent opinion conservative pundits can ever agree on so we can see Tucker's stayed dedicated to the bit.

Couple that with the New York Times' consistently gawdawful public editor and you've got the makings of a by-the-books Fox News segment.

New York Times public editor Liz Spayd said Friday night that she believed certain tweets authored by Times journalists during the campaign were “over the line” and should have been met with “some kind of a consequence.”

The comments came during an exchange with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who read three particular tweets to her on his show.

The tweets in question were truly the stuff of conservative vapor-having: Two links to stories critical of Der Pumpkinfuhrer and a reaction from one reporter to Ivanka Trump's tacky promotion of the precise jewelry she was wearing when she talked to 60 Minutes about President-Elect My Dad: "White House as QVC. It has started."

I have to say, Tuck, that last one is a pretty tame reaction to the new First Family hawking their own product lines. If that's all it takes for you to shout for the official Fox News Fainting Couch—mind the stains, Sean Hannity has been doing unspeakable things to that particular piece of furniture—you are in for a long, long year.


Ohio state Senate links abortion restrictions to first trimester and sound of heartbeat

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 20:40:40 +0000

In a move that is likely to be ruled unconstitutional, the Ohio Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would prohibit abortions as soon as a heartbeat was heard in an unborn child.

The Heartbeat Bill language was added to HB 493, which originally dealt with child abuse or neglect reporting, on a vote of 20-11, and the full legislation passed the chamber, 21-10.

The Ohio House must concur on amendments, and Gov. John Kasich would have to sign the bill, in order for the law changes to take effect.

Advocates of the bill believe it could help overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave women access to an abortion up until the 24th week of pregnancy. Since then the law has been chipped away at by opponents, with the Supreme Court redefining some of the permitted procedures in the second trimester.

In Ohio:

Opponents say the bill is a further intrusion into women's health decisions, and some abortion opponents are concerned that it could lead to court decisions undoing other abortion restrictions in current state law.

The Heartbeat Bill has been offered in three consecutive sessions of the general assembly. The first time, it passed the Ohio House but stalled in the Senate. The second time, the bill failed to gain the required support to move it any further.


Clinton still winning the popular vote; Trump still losing; Democrat ahead by 2.6M votes

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:24:47 +0000

Party like it’s 2000.

The most recent election recount has Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by 2.6 million ballots (a number that is increasing every day), and, of course, President-elect Donald Trump LOSING the popular vote.

To be clear, more people in the country wanted (and still want) Clinton to serve as president than Trump (and who can blame them, really).

The recounts are being sought by former presidential candidate Jill Stein of the Green Party. Stein’s fight focuses on:

... Pennsylvania, where her Green Party is seeking an emergency federal court order for a statewide recount, and Michigan, where a federal judge...ordered a hand recount to begin by noon (on Monday).

The recount is underway in Wisconsin.

The  2016 National Popular Vote Tracker at notes that as of Dec. 3 Clinton was leading Trump by 2,653,958 votes.

That’s what you call a whopper, or in political talk, 2 percent of the overall vote.


Trump's GOP takeover means party's future will be inextricably linked to him

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 19:03:51 +0000

It's happening all across the nation: Anyone who endorsed Donald Trump and worked for his election against the headwinds is now getting a tailwind in their bids to oust establishment Republicans. "Loyalists are looking to dislodge state party leaders who are perceived as insufficiently committed to the president-elect," writes Politico. Here are just a few examples:


In Virginia, Corey Stewart, Trump’s former state chairman, is preparing a 2017 bid for governor that will first pit him against fellow Republican Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman who was lukewarm in his support of Trump during the presidential campaign and never appeared onstage with him. [...]

“People know that I’m a true-blue Trump supporter,” said Stewart, adding that he wanted to campaign with Trump. “It’s been like rocket fuel for my campaign as soon he won. It’s a complete change from what it was before Nov. 8.”


Scott Hagerstrom, who directed Trump’s successful Michigan campaign, is running to unseat the state’s sitting GOP chairwoman, Ronna Romney McDaniel, a niece of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Hagerstrom has promised to “drain the swamp” and combat “special interests” — themes frequently used by Trump.


The pro-Trump push has extended all the way up the chain to the race for the RNC chairmanship. Dave Urban, Trump’s top staffer in Pennsylvania, has talked with Trump about leading the national committee and is seen as a serious contender for the post. Trump is expected to settle on his pick for the job sometime over the next month.

The full-scale takeover of the GOP by Trump and his henchmen could have significant upsides for Democrats if Trump turns the federal government into a calamity when he takes over—Republicans will be in charge of all. There's no passing off a massive loss of health care, fewer jobs, or a new war on Democrats. And if Trump fails at the top, all those down-ballot candidates will be incontrovertibly wedded to his failures in 2018 and 2020.


Amazon's robot store is why Trump won

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 19:00:53 +0000

Actually, that’s not true. James Comey's ego is the most direct factor in Trump’s win, followed by Putin's hacker army, but for those who insist on going to the “white working class feeling hopeless” angle, then yeah. This. This is the wellspring of that problem.

Call it’s driverless store.

The tech giant has built a convenience store in downtown Seattle that deploys a gaggle of technologies similar to those used in self-driving cars to allow shoppers to come in, grab items and walk out without going through a register.

Amazon is planning up to 2,000 of these stores. If their automation system works, don’t expect them to be alone. There are over 150,000 convenience stores in the United States, employing 2.3 million Americans. What Amazon is doing isn’t a threat to those jobs, it’s a promise. Those jobs are going away. So are the 1.7 million jobs to be replaced by driverless trucks.

Obviously, a single store still in testing and a few test trucks wandering the nation’s highways weren’t actually responsible for Trump’s victory. In fact here’s a far more accurate headline:

I’m the reason Trump won.


Cartoon: Thuggers

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 22:50:17 +0000


Rubio turns back on immigrants again, ditching Gang of Eight effort to protect DREAMers from Trump

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:22:59 +0000

There's got to be a special place for elected officials who always, always put their finger up to the political winds in order to decide which stand to take. Predictably, Sen. Marco Rubio doesn't want to jeopardize his next presidential bid by trying to help some 740,000 undocumented immigrants who received temporary deportation relief through President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators, lead by Sens. Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham, is drafting legislation to protect DACA recipients from deportation under Trump. Graham is joined by GOP Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake in believing these young immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors represent a "special situation," in part because the federal government now has their names and addresses after they signed up for the program. But the final GOP member of “the gang,” Rubio, is just a little too interested in his own future to be a part of the solution. Sabrina Siddiqui writes:

Senator Marco Rubio, the fourth Republican member of the Gang of Eight, said he did not have any current plans to get involved in his colleagues’ efforts. The former Republican presidential candidate told the Guardian he preferred to wait and see what direction the incoming administration would take, while reaffirming his preference for allowing Daca beneficiaries to hold their permits until they expire.

“Daca is unconstitutional and at some point it needs to go away, preferably because it’s been replaced by legislation,” Rubio said. “We don’t have anything in the works right now.”

Really, it's hard to overstate just how craven that statement is. Something clearly is in the works and, if DACA is unconstitutional, as Rubio says, he could take part in the legislative effort to remedy the situation. Just because Rubio's likely to skip the vote, doesn't mean the legislation doesn't exist.


Trump is bringing people together: American Jews and Muslims are uniting in solidarity against hate

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 04:48:23 +0000

Donald Trump isn’t just the most dangerous man ever to win the presidency—he’s also the most divisive. Trump ran on a platform that called out to racists with promises to erect barriers both literal and legal between people, and he'll pursue these invidious ends once in office.

But a funny thing—a remarkable, really, and glorious thing—has happened precisely because of the course Trump has set us on: He’s inspired people with longstanding differences to set them aside and unite against his message of hate. As the New York Times Laurie Goodstein reports, Jews and Muslims are joining together “to resist whatever may come next.”

And while not knowing what may come next is one of the scariest things about living in Trump’s America, it’s always easier to face an uncertain future together:

Vaseem Firdaus, a Muslim who has lived in the United States for 42 years, spent Friday night at a Shabbat dinner for members of a women’s group called the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, in a home here filled with Jewish art and ritual objects.

Until Mr. Trump was elected president, Ms. Firdaus, who is 56 and a manufacturing manager at Exxon Mobil, felt secure living as a Muslim in America. She has a daughter who is a doctor and a son who is an engineer, and she recently traveled to Tampa with her husband looking to buy a vacation home. But Mr. Trump’s victory has shaken her sense of comfort and security.

How many people share fears just like Firdaus’? Far too many—and that’s precisely what Trump was hoping for.


Republicans threatening to shut down government to ram through Trump's defense secretary nomination

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 21:59:17 +0000

Campaign Action Donald Trump says he’ll nominate retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as his secretary of defense, but as we’ve explained previously, there’s a huge problem with this proposal: A 70-year-old federal law forbids anyone who has served on active duty in the armed forces in the last seven years from holding a senior defense post. This rule is crucial for maintaining civilian control of the military, and Mattis is thus ineligible, since he only retired three years ago. But Republicans in Congress are, of course, only too happy to let the Trump steamroller mash them to bits and are eager to amend the law so that Mattis can become defense secretary. This custom “waiver” would have to pass both houses of Congress, and Democrats, led by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, have promised to filibuster it. So how has the GOP responded? Once again, they’re threatening to shut down the government. Because the modern Republican Party is too dysfunctional to pass a proper budget, the only way the federal government gets funded these days is through a series of short-term “continuing resolutions” that give the GOP frequent opportunities to throw damaging tantrums. Indeed, the next such continuing resolution has to be passed by Friday, or else government operations will literally run out of money—and Republicans are suggesting that they might attach this special Mattis amendment to their new funding resolution. In other words, if they don’t get their way on Mattis, they’ll shut down the government. Fortunately, Democrats are rallying against such a move. The top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, has warned the GOP against pulling this dangerous stunt, while Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, put Republicans on notice that “there are some provisions that can stop it”—the continuing resolution—“from being passed” and bluntly told them: “Fix them.” Democrats have to stand strong and not let Republicans ransack the rule of law and undermine the sacred doctrine of civilian control over the military. If the GOP wants to threaten to close down the federal government to pass extraordinary pieces of legislation without debate, then that’s going to be on them—and they’ll get to pay the price for it. Call your senators urge them to support Sen. Gillibrand’s filibuster of the Mattis waiver. [...]

Will Mitch McConnell lift a finger to help coal miners?

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:45:24 +0000

Coal jobs are not coming back. Cheap natural gas has caused over 300 coal-burning power plants to shut down, meaning there’s simply no demand for more coal. Nothing is going to change that. But Mitch McConnell can help both coal miners and mining communities. All it takes is supporting the RECLAIM Act.

This popular bill would bring $1 billion over five years back to coal communities to clean up polluting mine sites that were abandoned by coal companies decades ago, creating jobs that use skills laid-off strip miners already have.

The bill requires that these sites be reclaimed in ways that lead to community and economic development, and would bring a much-needed shot in the arm to our region during a time when we really need it.

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act put in place rules on how mine lands had to be reclaimed, but there are a lot of “pre-law” mine areas out there; areas where even decades after mining stopped acid runoff still flows from exposed mounds of untreated spoil. There are also areas that were damaged by “rogue” mines that operated outside the law, or areas left by companies that went bankrupt. The RECLAIM Act would immediately put miners back to work and clean up communities.

... the RECLAIM Act could help laid-off coal miners get their hands back in the dirt, putting them to work reclaiming old, polluting mines. There are billions of dollars worth of abandoned mines across the country, many of them in Kentucky. Opportunities like agriculture, recreation and even solar farms on reclaimed strip mines would create new jobs and help our young people stay in the region.

The bill is intended not just to clean up these sites, but to do so in ways that help communities build an economy that’s not dependent on a fading industry. 


Trump: Carrier can't ship jobs overseas—but I can hire foreign workers for my resort

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 20:11:11 +0000

Donald Trump is still hiring cooks, waitresses, and housekeepers from outside the U.S. to staff his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago, according to new information from the Department of Labor. Apparently, Trump just couldn't find any good help in America to fill those jobs so he relied on H-2B visas to hire foreign workers for the positions, reports Jeff Ostrowski.

A month before he was elected president, Trump won approval to hire 64 foreign workers through the federal government’s H-2B visa program, according to newly released data from the U.S. Labor Department. Last year, Trump was allowed to hire 69 foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago.

So Carrier can't send jobs overseas but Trump can ship in foreign workers?

“It’s very, very hard to get people,” Trump said. “Other hotels do the exact same thing.”

CareerSource Palm Beach County, a nonprofit job placement agency, says it knows plenty of American citizens willing to work at Mar-a-Lago.

“We have hundreds of qualified candidates and hundreds of job orders for various hospitality positions such as servers, chefs, cooks, bartenders, housekeeping, guest services, spa services, recreation, maintenance and more,” CareerSource spokesman Tom Veenstra said.

Hundreds. Trump's resort has tapped CareerSource just once to help it find an employee: a banquet server. One. Yet every tourist season Mar-a-Lago seeks dozens of H-2B visas to fill positions. Because “It’s very, very hard to get people."

As of October, Palm Beach County’s labor market included 35,766 job seekers who were officially unemployed. 


Supreme Court hears redistricting cases that could entrench Republican rule

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 19:25:47 +0000

The Supreme Court heard two cases Monday, one from Virginia and one from North Carolina, in which the states were defending redistricting that solidified Republican rule. The question before the court is basically whether the redistricting was based on politics, which is constitutional, or race, which is not.

After two hours of oral arguments by the same set of attorneys, it appeared the court might uphold a federal district court decision striking down the North Carolina congressional maps and send the Virginia state legislative maps approved by a separate lower court back for more work.

Several of the justices expressed frustration that unless they define clearly what is allowed and what is not, they could be left with what Justice Stephen Breyer called "a set of standards that district courts can't apply, which will try to separate sheep from goats."

The two cases represented a continuation of the court's work in the area of racial gerrymandering, which Breyer lamented had not been resolved by the most recent decision he wrote for the court last year. The 5-4 ruling said when it comes to black voters in Alabama, "simply maintaining percentages in an effort to prevent retrogression ... is too mechanical an approach."

SCOTUSblog's Amy Howe notes that the prevailing sentiment among the justices during arguments was this: "Justices of all ideological stripes are tired of redistricting cases, and they would really prefer to leave the business of drawing and reviewing legislative maps to the legislature." 

To that end, the justices seemed to be considering issuing opinions that might not immediately resolve the two cases before them, but which could give more concrete guidance to courts reviewing future racial gerrymandering claims. Whether they can coalesce around such rulings remains to be seen. […]

The court’s eventual ruling could be a complicated one.


Trump's Air Force One tweet appears to be retaliation against Boeing for hurting his fee-fees

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 19:40:52 +0000

For the record, our president-elect is completely unfit for office. Today he tweeted a demand that the eventual replacements for the current Air Force One, the president's two dedicated aircraft, be canceled. xBoeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016 Several things are wrong with this. First, he's (once again) lying. Costs aren't $4 billion. The planes aren't even being built yet. What exists right now are contracts for $169 million to design the replacements, because the current planes reach the end of their expected 30 year lifespan next year. Even going according to schedule, the new planes won't be ready for five years after that. But why did Donald Trump suddenly take to Twitter to denounce Boeing for an "out of control" "$4 billion" contract for a replacement Air Force One? TPM notes that it quite possibly could be a tantrum-fueled attempt to damage the company after Trump read earlier in the morning that someone at Boeing criticized him. [A] Google search (which is obviously an imperfect measure) suggests that the Tribune story was the only published mention of the [Boeing] speech in the last 24 hours prior to Trump's tweet. It seems at least plausible that the Tribune story was the first or one of the first reports of the speech Trump or his team saw. What appears to have happened is that earlier this morning, the Chicago Tribune published a story reporting that a Boeing executive had some skeptical things to say about Donald Trump. We already know that Trump obsessively scans the news for critical mentions of himself. (We also know that he reacts to news he sees with immediate tweeted policy proposals, as when he Twitter-mused about stripping citizenship from Americans who might burn a flag as an apparent response to a Fox & Friends segment on flag burning that had aired just beforehand. The man is a child.) In any event, a mere twenty minutes or so after the Tribune story about a Boeing executive criticizing him was published, Trump suddenly found a strong opinion over one particular Boeing contract, declared it "out of control," and demanded it be canceled. The result was a new out-of-nowhere presidential demand, and a sudden nosedive for Boeing’s stock. [...]

With Biden in the chair on Jan. 3, the Senate can confirm a renominated Merrick Garland. Here's how.

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:10:42 +0000

Campaign Action Here’s an idea to ponder as a sort of closing act for the Obama administration and/or and opening salvo from Senate Democrats: a mechanism for confirming Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. As we’re all aware, congressional elections in November determined the makeup of the entirety of the House of Representatives, as well as one-third of the Senate. The Senate, of course, elects one-third of its membership every two years, such that the six-year terms are staggered among three “classes,” and two-thirds of the Senate membership remain incumbent in office even during elections and post-election transition periods. At noon on January 3, 2017, the terms of the current members of the Senate’s Class III will come to an end. At that point, the Senate consists of 66 sitting senators, and we would ordinarily expect Vice President Joe Biden, in his capacity as Senate president (in which role he continues to serve until noon on January 20th), to begin swearing in the senators-elect of the new Class III. Typically, the swearing-in would be the first order of business, although occasionally there are brief welcoming remarks from the Majority and Minority Leaders, the Majority Leader traditionally being afforded preferential recognition by the presiding officer. That is, he gets to speak first, if anyone has anything to say before things get started. But when Biden looks out over the Senate floor—in what will likely be one of his last official acts—he’ll see 66 currently sworn and serving senators, 34 of whom will be Democrats, two who are independents, and 30 who are Republicans. At that moment you might wonder, then, just who constitutes the “majority,” and therefore who the Majority Leader actually is. In fact, as the numbers tell us, Democrats will make up the majority of the Senate, and their leader might arguably be entitled to preferential recognition. This situation has surely occurred before. It’s just never mattered. And so in all likelihood, absent some other plan, we would expect Biden to afford that privilege to Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the current Majority Leader, who’s expected to continue in that role in the new Congress. Suppose, though, that there is another plan. Suppose Biden instead chooses to recognize the sitting Democrats as the majority, that being the then-current truth of the matter? And suppose, therefore, he chose to recognize the Democratic floor leader first? Now, we all understand that Chuck Schumer of New York is slated to become the Minority Leader in 2017. But at that point, he’s merely one of the 34 senators-elect waiting to take the oath and begin his term. Dick Durbin of Illinois is, at that moment, the highest ranking Democratic floor leader. So suppose Biden were to recognize Durbin first, and grant him the floor for opening remarks? [...]

Midday open thread: Fathers, fighting back, a worrisome firing

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 20:00:17 +0000

Today’s comic by Jen Sorensen is If social justice movements tried not to offend anyone: ● Cities are central to any serious plan to tackle climate change: If they hope to avoid worse to come, cities will need to almost entirely rid themselves of carbon over the next few decades. How much could that help in the climate fight? And how can cities go about doing it? Two recent reports attempt to answer these questions. ●  xToday is 28 days since election. 0 Trump pressers. Obama had one 3 days after.GWBush 3 (after SCOTUS)Clinton 9Bush 1Reagan 2Carter 2— Chris Donovan (@chrisdonovan) December 6, 2016 ● Talk about grounds for a firing that are worrisome well beyond the individual firing: The cultural manager and director of the polish culture institute in Berlin, Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska, was fired this past Tuesday from her position. According to the German left-leaning daily TAZ that broke the story, Poland’s right-wing PiS-led government called for her immediate departure due to her programming, which included “too much Jewish-themed content,” as Poland’s ambassador in Germany Andrzej Przyłębski had complained. ● What is a father's role in a post-family wage era? ● Fighting back against the white revolt of 2016: Trump’s real triumph was his ability to shift Republican politics to straight racism, misogyny and xenophobia with a potent authoritarian tone, yet still create a winning voting coalition—time will tell how stable—that brought together the core Republican electorate, including right-wing evangelicals, as well as some disaffected former Democratic voters. ● Does the Pentagon really waste $125 billion on pencil pushers? ● On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Another weird Taiwan call story, and some new perspective on it. More on the #HighNoon proposal to confirm Garland. What if the POTUS blocks you on Twitter? A bot that trolls trolls. Your new NSA believes the Comet Pizza nuttery. MI recount woes. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon [...]

Freedom Caucus nixes idea of Obamacare 'repeal and delay'

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:43:46 +0000

Now that Republicans are faced with the reality of actually being in a position to repeal Obamacare, their feet are getting colder by the minute. But the "repeal and delay" plan they've cooked up—go ahead with a repeal vote but delay its effect for a few years—isn't good enough for the problem children. The Republican congressman who made his name as the instigator of John Boehner’s ouster last year was set to take the reins of the House Freedom Caucus on Monday night. And first up on Rep. Mark Meadows’ to-do list: Torpedoing GOP leadership’s tentative plans to take as long as three years to replace Obamacare. The proposal “will meet with major resistance from Freedom Caucus members,” the North Carolina Republican vowed in an interview, calling it “the first big fight I see coming for the Freedom Caucus.” “It should be repealed and replaced, and all of that should be done in the 115th Congress” — the two-year period starting in January through 2018 — and “not left to a future Congress to deal with,” Meadows added. In case you're wondering, no, the Freedom Caucus does not have a plan for replacing Obamacare that could be immediately enacted. Nothing is official yet, but Meadows promises that his group will "formally" oppose a long phase-out of the law by next month, which creates the ongoing headache House Speaker Paul Ryan so richly deserves. Ryan needs the 40 or so maniacs' votes to overcome what will likely be unanimous Democratic opposition. Ryan is onboard with the delay plan, saying that "clearly there will be a transition and a bridge so that no one is left out in the cold, so that no one is worse off." Because Paul Ryan cares so much about the peoples. "It will clearly take time. It took them about six years to stand up to Obamacare. It’s not going to be replaced come next football season." He'll have fun convincing the maniacs of that. That makes Democrats' essential job of resisting repeal a bit easier. Ryan is going to be having to do all his negotiating with the Freedom Caucus, and Democrats can just pass the popcorn while he fights that out. The only thing Democrats will have to do is resist the urge to help Ryan out and negotiate with him. On this one, they have to let him do his worst. And reap the consequences. [...]

California officials build wall of resistance to Trump's immigration scheme and more

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:48:03 +0000

One place Democrats are in total control is in California, where elected officials are presenting a united front of resistance to Donald Trump, starting with immigration. As the state legislature kicked off its new session Monday, Democratic lawmakers put forth a mix of symbolic statements and substantive bills seeking to shield the state's undocumented immigrants from Trump's policies, whatever they may turn out to be. Mollie Reilly writes: In a press conference, Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), the state senate president pro tempore, and Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), the state assembly speaker, announced that both chambers of the legislature ― which now have Democratic supermajorities ― passed identical resolutions calling on Trump to abandon his campaign promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.  [...] The lawmakers also announced the introduction of two bills to help undocumented immigrants if Trump pursues his aggressive deportation plan. SB 6, authored by state Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), would establish a legal aid fund for people facing deportation. (A similar program is also under consideration in New York.) AB 3, authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), would set up training centers to educate legal workers on immigration law.  In 2013, the Public Policy Institute of California found 2.67 million undocumented immigrants resided in the state, and a 2014 study from the California Immigrant Policy Center put their contribution to the state's GDP at $130 billion annually. The opening salvo from the state legislature is just one part of a multi-pronged effort by Democrats to inoculate the state from Trump. Rep. Xavier Becerra, soon to be the Golden State's attorney general, has practically dared the federal government to mess with a progressive state responsible for the biggest GDP in the nation—$2.44 trillion in 2015, nearly a trillion dollars more than the state with the second largest GDP, Texas. Gov. Jerry Brown has also promised a fierce defense of California values.  "We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time — devastating climate change," he said. Similarly, the University of California system, under President Janet Napolitano, has said it will not help federal immigration authorities track undocumented students in any way. In short, California is flipping Trump the bird.  [...]

Paul Ryan suddenly not so gung-ho on immediately privatizing Medicare

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:13:56 +0000

The fast-track Medicare "overhaul" House Republicans promised may not be happening so fast after all. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) was promising a week after the election that privatizing Medicare would be one of the first actions of the new legislative session. Since then Price has been tapped to be Donald Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the resistance has responded in a unified voice promising the fight of House Speaker Paul Ryan's life. So what does Ryan say now? Maybe, it doesn't have to happen right away. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that plans to overhaul Medicare remain "unresolved" in the lead-up to Donald Trump's inauguration. "We haven't addressed that. That's an unresolved issue. I haven't even spoke with the president-elect about that," Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in a Monday interview. […] Ryan suggested he has no plan of dropping the issue, but that the timing and method for taking on Medicare is not yet decided. "We have a future of insolvency with Medicare that needs to be addressed. How and when we address that is something we will decide later," he told the Journal-Sentinel. It's hard to imagine that the issue hasn't come up in discussions with the Trump team, since it was one of the first things Ryan started touting immediately after the election. Beyond that, the Trump transition team immediately replaced language on Trump's campaign website that said "I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid" to the very Ryan-esque promise to "modernize Medicare." This shouldn't be read as a retreat from Ryan, because this is one constant in his wish list for destroying the social compact. But it is likely Ryan recognizing the reality that he'll have to fight with fellow Republicans to gut the essential program. The first Senate Republican to defect is Susan Collins, who says the "complete upending of a program (Medicare) that by and large serves seniors well is not something that appeals to me."  He won't have any control over Senate Republicans and sure as hell won't be able to bend a unified Senate Democratic conference to his will. This is definitely a fight we can win, and win fast, with steadfast opposition. [...]

How many manufacturing jobs did Trump's Carrier deal save? A lot less than advertised.

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:00:18 +0000

We are learning more details of the “deal” offered by Donald Trump and Mike Pence to keep one company from moving some jobs out of the country—because that is how we learn what the new president does now, piecemeal as reporters figure it out later—and the real-world results continue to be Not What Was Claimed. Trump and Pence insisted 1,100 jobs were saved.

The workers themselves just got a letter saying nope.

"We found out today that more jobs are leaving than what we originally thought," Bray said. "It seemed like since Thursday, it was 1,100 then it was maybe 900 and then now we're at 700. So I'm hoping it doesn't go any lower than that."

Union workers got a letter at the plant saying Trump's deal with Carrier will save only 730 factory jobs in Indianapolis, plus 70 salaried positions - 553 jobs in the plant's fan coil lines are still moving to Monterrey, Mexico.

All 700 workers at Carrier's Huntington plant will also lose their jobs.

Seven hundred and thirty factory jobs is not 1,100, but because initial news reports from outlets like the New York Times uncritically offered the Trump spin that first day most Americans will probably never learn the true numbers. And while 730 jobs isn't nothing, it's also a far lower figure than the number of American jobs created during any average day. Job creation via press conference isn't a sustainable policy.


GOP already fighting with itself over the budget ... and Trump's not even president yet

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:18:39 +0000

Really, having Republicans in charge of the entire government is going to be many things, but smooth isn't one of them. They're already fighting over the budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which started on Oct. 1. The House was looking to extend current funding levels into early next year so Trump's White House could have more say about the budget. But Senate Republicans worry that renegotiating spending levels early next year will be tough amid all the confirmation hearings. Paul Ryan had been considering a stop-gap bill funding the government through March, but is now considering funding through April or May. But some Republicans worry about having any budget showdowns next spring and would prefer to do more than just pass a temporary funding measure. The Washington Post reports:

Senate Democrats next year could seek to block a spending package if it provides less funding for programs they support and House conservatives could balk if they feel overall funding number is too big — both scenarios could be a headache for the new Trump administration.

The possibility of such a fight has some in the GOP warning it’s a mistake to kick this year’s spending decisions into the next administration.

“This is bad for the military, it’s bad for every agency of the government,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said of the short-term bill. “I think it’s a bad decision and I think all concerned will live to regret it.”

Nonetheless, the stop-gap bill is likely to be completed by week's end. All of this is to say, get ready for more budget fun early next year. Republicans are already in disarray. Just wait until they control everything.


Filibuster the Supreme Court for four years, because of same reasons conservatives used

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:02:02 +0000

Here’s Ted Cruz, arguing for an indefinite blockade of the Supreme Court when he thought the winner of the popular vote would actually be the winner:

There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices. I would note, just recently, that Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.

Heritage Foundation:

Dan Holler, Heritage Action’s vice president of communications and government relations, signaled that this year’s Republican blockade of President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, is just the beginning of a fight that could last the entire first term of a Clinton presidency. 

“You’ve seen John McCain and others talk about the need to not confirm any liberal nominated to the Supreme Court,” Holler said. “That’s exactly the right position to have.”

The National Review’s take: “On Judicial Nominations, Senators Are Meant to Advise, Not Rubber-Stamp.”

If Republicans want to kill the filibuster once and for all, that’s fine! They’ll call the shots independent of Democratic wishes. But as long as that tool remains available, there is zero reason for Democrats to surrender that seat. 

Republicans argued that the American people should determine the fate of that seat. The American people responded with majorities choosing Democrats for the presidency and Senate.

Our rigged system ignored the popular will. Democrats shouldn’t.