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Published: Mon, 20 Feb 2017 04:05:30 +0000

Last Build Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2017 04:05:30 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want

Open thread for night owls: In Boston, scientists rally for 'objective reality'

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 04:00:43 +0000

In Boston: Hundreds of scientists and their supporters rallied in historic Copley Square on Sunday, demanding that the Trump administration accept empirical reality on issues such as climate change and highlighting the centrality of objective information to making policy. “We did not politicize science,” said Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard science historian who spoke at the rally, which unfolded on a surprisingly warm February day that left the square filled with mud puddles from the melt of a recent blizzard. “We did not start this fight.” [...] The event, which covered much of Copley Square, seemed to be a promising sign for a far larger March for Science event, scheduled for April 22, Earth Day. That event has more than 800,000 Facebook group members at present and, if such momentum continues, could lead to an unprecedented demonstration by scientists against the new administration. QUOTATION OF THE DAY “The anti-suffragists can gather more statistics than any other person I ever saw, and there is nothing so sweet and calm as when they say, "You cannot deny this, because here are the figures, and figures never lie." Well they don't but some liars figure. When they start out they always begin the same. She started by proving that it was no use to give the women the ballot because if they did have it they would not use it, and she had statistics to prove it. If we would not use it then I really cannot see the harm of giving it to us, we would not hurt anybody with it and what an easy way for you men to get rid of us. No more suffrage meetings, never any nagging you again, no one could blame you for anything that went wrong with the town, if it did not run right, all you would have to say is, you have the power, why don't you go ahead and clean up.”                     —Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, “The Fundamental Principle of a Republic,” June 21, 1915 TWEET OF THE DAY xWhat you are hearing from Trump right now isn't spin, it's delusion— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) February 18, 2017 BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—Blair faces party revolt; US loses Canada: It is clear that the governments of the UK, Spain, and Italy have real decisions to make -- to represent the will of their people or risk losing power in defense of Bush's invasion. In England, support for Blair and the war are plummeting despite a months-long PR campaign to prop up popular support. And, Labor's left wing is openly talking revolt if Britain goes to war without UN Security Council approval. "This is crunch time for Tony Blair," said Alan Simpson, a leader of Labor's antiwar faction in the House of Commons. "He can lead the war party or the Labor Party, but he can't lead both. It's quite clear if he goes off to war, he will have left the party behind him." Blair's political difficulties seem to have convinced the US to seek a second resolution, even while publicly arguing it doesn't require one. THE WEEK’S HIGH IMPACT STORIES • HIGH IMPACT STORIES • TOP COMMENTS Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.” [...]

War: What is it good for? Absolutely nothing

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 02:00:56 +0000

By the time you read this essay, it may be old news. The content might seem hopelessly outdated, or we will have troops on their way to Syria, or something in between. That is how fast and furious the news cycle has been since Trump took office: something written on Wednesday may be irrelevant by Sunday. But this was the news as of midweek:

"It's possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time," one defense official told CNN.

Donald Trump has not even been in office for one month, and the drums of war are already beating. It’s easy to wonder if the people who make these decisions have any skin in the game. You can guarantee that we will not see Tiffany, Ivanka, Eric, Junior, or Barron at the recruiting office anytime soon. My 17-year-old son Everett wants to work in the space program, so he is looking at the Air Force ROTC. The young men on his high school wrestling team—well, there is a good chance some of them will end up in any war Trump starts.

in 1946, then-Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower stated, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity." There is no better description of war. It is something Trump would not understand. He and his family have never made sacrifices, despite his laughable claims:

“I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” Mr. Trump said to Mr. Stephanopoulos. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

That is not sacrifice. Sacrifice is sleeping in a foxhole in some backwater of the world with nothing but a poncho liner for warmth. Sacrifice is spending Thanksgiving and Christmas away from home. Sacrifice is sending your son or daughter off to war, not knowing if they will come home.

The human costs of the civil war in Syria are almost incomprehensible. The human suffering is unfathomable. But this is not our fight. Sending troops into a confusing mishmash of changing alliances is not something we should even be considering. We already made a mess of that part of the world with an unnecessary war. Going back there is not going to make things better.


How to turn trolls into your best friends

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 00:40:35 +0000

In the movie Thank You For Smoking, the main character Joey Naylor, a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, has a great scene with his son that talks about how he wins. 

His son asks him what happens when he’s wrong. Here’s the quick transcript of the scene: 

Joey Naylor: What happens when you’re wrong? Nick Naylor: Whoa, Joey I’m never wrong.
Joey Naylor: But you can’t always be right…
Nick Naylor: Well, if it’s your job to be right, then you’re never wrong.
Joey Naylor: But what if you are wrong?
Nick Naylor: OK, let’s say that you’re defending chocolate, and I’m defending vanilla. Now if I were to say to you: ‘Vanilla is the best flavour ice-cream’, you’d say…
Joey Naylor: No, chocolate is.
Nick Naylor: Exactly, but you can’t win that argument… so, I’ll ask you: so you think chocolate is the end all and the all of ice-cream, do you?
Joey Naylor: It’s the best ice-cream, I wouldn’t order any other.
Nick Naylor: Oh! So it’s all chocolate for you is it?
Joey Naylor: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
Nick Naylor: Well, I need more than chocolate, and for that matter I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom. And choice when it comes to our ice-cream, and that Joey Naylor, that is the defintion of liberty.
Joey Naylor: But that’s not what we’re talking about
Nick Naylor: Ah! But that’s what I’m talking about.
Joey Naylor: …but you didn’t prove that vanilla was the best…
Nick Naylor: I didn’t have to. I proved that you’re wrong, and if you’re wrong I’m right.
Joey Naylor: But you still didn’t convince me
Nick Naylor: It’s that I’m not after you. I’m after them. [points into the crowd]

This scene illustrates one of the greatest issues that I see liberals struggle with in the public sphere: 

We think we win when we win a logical argument.

Professionals like Nick Naylor understand that you win when you win someone over. 


The 2017 legislative elections and the post-Trump map

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 23:20:43 +0000

While many eyes (and with justification!) are already on the 2018 midterm elections, it is worth noting that some very important elections on the statewide level are on tap for this November. So, it is fair to say that the first chance to assess the electoral impact of Donald Trump will come in just nine short months.

The two states that headline the 2017 election cycle are two states that, on the surface, did not seem to change much in 2016.

Virginia, which arguably will get the most attention in this off-year cycle, went from a 3.9 point victory for Barack Obama in 2012 to a 5.3 point win for Hillary Clinton this past year. Meanwhile, New Jersey moved marginally in the direction of the GOP, with an 17-point Obama win in 2012 to a 14-point Clinton win in 2016. Beneath the surface, however, there were some much more substantial shifts on a more granular level. It might surprise folks to learn, for example, that there were legislative districts in Virginia that shifted more than 20 points in either direction between 2012-2016. Quite a few of those “big-shift” districts, in fact, are likely to be pivotal to any shifts in the outsized Republican legislative majority in the House of Delegates in the state.

New Jersey, meanwhile, had a smaller number of large shifts, but that is owed in part to the fact that there are far fewer districts (40) in the state than there are in Virginia (where there are 100 districts in the lower chamber). Still, there are a handful of districts where the size of the shift could surely matter. New Jersey is the converse of Virginia—there, any movement is likely to benefit the GOP. 

The bottom line is that, in both cases, more than one-quarter of the state’s legislative districts shifted far more substantially than the state at large. And those shifts could (repeat: could) result in large changes to the legislative balance of power.


Trump allies deliver plan to lift Russian sanctions—by helping to topple the Ukrainian government

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 22:40:37 +0000

The hits just keep on coming:

A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

The players involved are a who’s who of Trump-connected pro-Russian figures.

Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul D. Manafort.

Cohen is under investigation by the FBI as part of the query into Russian influence in Trump's election; Sater is Mafia-linked. A key part of the plan, led by pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker, Andrii Artemenko, would be releasing alleged evidence of corruption by the current not-pro-Russian-enough Ukrainian leader, thus allowing fine men like Andrii Artemenko to take over the government and negotiate a long term Russian "lease" of Crimea, and so forth. (Artemenko even offered up that he had “received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin”, which is apparently something would-be government topplers are willing to brag about these days.)

The end result: If the current Ukrainian government was disposed of and a more Russia-tolerant faction took its place, thus achieving a peace with Russia that may or may not absolve Russia of their military invasion and capture of Crimea, than the way would be clear for the Trump administration to lift the sanctions on Russia that resulted.

Which would, in turn, allow deals like now-Secretary-of-State Rex Tillerson's $500 billion oil deal between ExxonMobil and Russia to go forward.

All it requires is a more complaint Ukrainian government, with the assistance of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Paul Manafort’s pals. This is an actual plan these people were willing to put down on paper.


Trump's amazing and dangerous world of alternative facts—and alternative truth

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 22:00:36 +0000

Here’s what CNN reporter Zachary Wollf recently said when describing why it’s hard to cover Donald Trump: "What does it mean when he says words?

Clearly, Trump doesn’t mean what he’s actually saying. Facts are optional. They are fungible.  \For example his signature building, Trump Tower in Manhattan, is advertised as being 68 stories tall, but in reality is only 58 stories high. Select floors are missing in order for them to claim the 45th floor is really the 53rd floor—and get a much higher rate of return than he normally would when leasing office space or condos. This is just a perfect example of Trump’s reality warping field in effect. Things aren’t what they truly are: they are what Trump claims they are. This may be one of the key sources of Trump’s ability to succeed against all reasonable odds. 

It’s also why his efforts are ultimately doomed to failure.


Reince Priebus takes to the Sunday shows to retell the lies Kellyanne and Spicer already told

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 21:20:45 +0000

Today was a slow day on the nation's Sunday Shows, thanks to the either intentional or unintentional absence of each of the Trump administration's most dedicated and egregious liars. Perhaps they were tuckered out, or perhaps nausea has set in at the various networks and they've decided that even if their viewers don't necessarily deserve a break from the authoritarian Dear Leaderisms of a Kellyanne or the stubborn Sean insistence on alternative facts, the cameras themselves can only take so much. Regardless, it was up to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to make the rounds, artfully shedding whatever stray scraps of dignity that still clung to him after a half-year of toadying up to, objectively, the worst man he's ever worked for.

So Reince obligingly went out and did all the lying on his own.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Sunday flatly denied any involvement between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian officials. [...]

Priebus said he’s spoken with high-level intelligence officials in Washington who have told him that no such involvement occurred.

Which directly contradicts multiple reports of exactly that involvement taking place.

His main task, however, was to confirm that when Donald Trump said that our nation's free press was "the enemy" of the American people, he meant it.

"I think you should take it seriously. I think that the problem we've got is that we're talking about bogus stories like the one in the New York Times, that we've had constant contact with Russian officials. The next day, the Wall Street Journal had a story that the intel community was not giving the president a full intelligence briefing," Priebus said. "Both stories grossly inaccurate, overstated, overblown, and it's total garbage."

No Trump tax returns? No GOP tax cuts

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 20:40:33 +0000

Over the past week, the White House has been completely overwhelmed by the Trump administration’s mushrooming medley of Moscow outrages. But to what Vox labeled the “3 Trump-Russia Scandals”—potential Trump collusion with Russia against the Hillary Clinton campaign, possible Trump lies about Michael Flynn’s outreach to the Putin government, and purported kompromat Russian intelligence may be holding over the American president—must be added a fourth: What are the conflicts of interest created by the Trump Organization’s extensive business ties to Putin’s kleptocratic petro-state?

With the Trump empire cut off by American banks, the family business has become dependent on Germany’s Deutsche Bank and investors from Russia. As Donald Trump, Jr. summed up in 2008:

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

That alone provides one powerful reason why President Trump must release his tax returns to the American people. It’s not just a matter of following four decades of presidential practice. Simply put, we need to know if our president is being paid in rubles.

But there’s another reason President Trump must come clean about his finances. In recent days, Trump has promised he will soon unveil a “phenomenal” tax reform plan that calls for “lowering the overall tax burden of American businesses, big league.” But that isn’t the only promise The Donald has made to American taxpayers about his reform scheme. The self-proclaimed "voice" of "the forgotten men and women of our country”—the same man praised by family and friends as a “blue-collar billionaire”—made this pledge last year:

"It reduces or eliminates most of the deductions and loopholes available to special interests and to the very rich. In other words, it's going to cost me a fortune -- which is actually true -- while preserving charitable giving and mortgage interest deductions, very importantly." [Emphasis mine.]

To which the only appropriate response to the pathological liar-in-chief is: “Prove it.”


Senate Intelligence committee asks agencies to preserve materials related to Russian election ties

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 20:00:47 +0000

On Friday, members of the Senate Intelligence committee received a classified briefing on the investigation into Russian interference in the November election from FBI Director James Comey. It was notable primarily for the stone-faced silence with which senators sidled by the press after the meeting.

That same evening, though, the committee took action.

The Senate intelligence committee has sent formal requests to more than a dozen organizations, agencies and individuals, asking them to preserve all materials related to a probe the panel is conducting on Russian interference in the 2016 election and related issues, a congressional aide said Saturday.

Among those "related issues": Alleged contact during the campaign between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence figures, as well as conversations between now-resigned Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

As for what the move "means", it means that the committee does indeed expect to delve into Russian interference and what various agencies and individuals did or did not know. As for how seriously the Republican-led committee truly presses? We don't know.


Trump-Russia scandal: Like Watergate and Iran-Contra—only worse

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 19:20:36 +0000

It took Richard Nixon more than two years to own up to the Watergate scandal. Facing impeachment, he resigned, and top aides spent time in jail. Ronald Reagan’s administration traded arms to Iran for the release of a few American hostages in 1985, using profits from those arms sales to fund a war in Nicaragua, and it took several years and three investigations to unravel the whole mess. Reagan escaped direct punishment for the Iran-Contra affair, but several on his team were convicted (and pardoned by Reagan’s successor).

It has taken Donald Trump less than one month for his administration to be embroiled in a scandal that’s just as bad—and perhaps much worse.

No one knows when we’ll get the full story about the Russian infiltration that reached high levels and inner circles of both the Trump campaign and the Trump White House. The scandal combines the power-grabbing paranoia of Watergate (interfering with an election, this time by a foreign power) with the illegal foreign policy workarounds of Iran-Contra (calling a Russian ambassador with inside info, and who knows what else).

Legendary newsman Dan Rather says Trump’s Russia scandal could end up being as bad as Watergate. “It may become the measure by which all future scandals are judged,” Rather wrote on a Facebook post that quickly went viral. On his Meet the Press Daily show, NBC’s Chuck Todd said, “Welcome to Day One of what is arguably the biggest presidential scandal involving a foreign government since Iran-Contra,” further describing it as a “class-five political hurricane that’s hitting Washington.”

Three scandals of different magnitudes, with different details. What do they have in common?


Numbing the pain of self-inflicted wounds in Trump's America

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 18:01:00 +0000

Lady Liberty is in an abusive relationship with Uncle Sam.

Try as she might to break the hold that he has on her, she remains tormented by his maltreatment, but is bound by years of tradition and obligation, and unable to imagine a life independent of him. Though he’s raped and beaten her repeatedly, she finds a way to convince herself that he has redeeming qualities, along with a seemingly endless supply of second chances. She tells herself things will get better if only she could give him precisely what he wants, no matter how incongruent it may be with her safety or peace of mind. Despite her best efforts, he remains disgruntled and dissatisfied, and the abuse continues with very little hope of mitigation, and absolute certainty of escalation.

As we watch the disastrous dysfunction of Donald Trump’s first 30 days in office unfold, it becomes ever more apparent that we as a nation are already deep in the throes of an unhealthy relationship with a president and party that are hellbent on our oppression. In other words, welcome to Stockholm syndrome on a national scale.


We must keep protesting—but we need a lot more action

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 16:40:32 +0000

America preaches the virtues of democracy, meritocracy, and fairness. They say anyone who works hard has equal access to success in this country. But it turns out that’s not the case.

Hillary Clinton was the most qualified candidate running in the 2016 election, bar none. Several million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than they did for Donald Trump. And yet she lost the Electoral College. Donald Trump did everything humanly possible to lose the election—yet he won.

Millions of Americans called their senators, imploring them not to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Who is Betsy DeVos? She is a wealthy Michigan politico who spends her days lobbying Congress to dismantle the public school system and install a “voucher system” in its place.

Over the last few days, many of us residing in my Houston-area school district have been seeking out candidates to run for our local school board. The current group making decisions for the Humble Independent School District is an ALEC-driven board that recently installed Elizabeth Fagen, the failed former superintendent of Douglas County, Colorado, at the helm. Most of the district's parents were against the appointment. Many parents and students rallied and conducted several well-designed protests at the district's headquarters. They attended the school board meetings. They spoke. They made their points with researched data. But the board ignored them and put the district under the control of someone who does not have the best interest of public schools in mind.

America is at a crossroads. On issue after issue, Americans are deceived by politicians not honoring their promises or effecting their will. The calls, emails, faxes, and protests do not seem to make a difference. Is it all for naught? Yes, it is—if we don't change the paradigm.


Trump Trauma vs. No Drama Obama

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 15:20:34 +0000

The presidency of popular vote loser Donald Trump is now one month old. There have been a few hiccups—if hiccups mean mind-bogglingly stupid missteps that demonstrate exactly what an in-over-his-head amateur Trump actually is. By comparison, the Trump Administration thus far has made Wile E. Coyote actually look like the Super Genius he sometimes claims to be.

Other presidents have had problems getting their nominees confirmed by the Senate, although it really is satisfying to watch the implosion of Andy Puzder, a nominee to run the Labor Department who has a record of holding laborers in contempt—the human ones, at least. However, if that had been Trump’s biggest problem, he’d be on par with his predecessors. It wasn’t.

Let’s start with the fact—pun intended—that this president and his surrogates have been caught in so many lies that the media, as Amanda Marcotte explains, is grappling with how to cover them without also amplifying them. We’ve all heard that 1984 is back on the best seller list, but don’t forget the specifics of what that book described: a regime that could proclaim that 2+2=5 and make you believe it. While Trump can’t punish you for not believing the sun was shining when it was actually raining, he certainly has no compunction about proclaiming such a thing—even though you can watch a video that shows otherwise. Having a president that divorced from reality causes real trauma.


Ona Judge Staines: The black woman who escaped from and outwitted George and Martha Washington

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 14:00:46 +0000

As President’s Day rolls around again this year, many schools around the nation will continue to embellish and whitewash the mythology of George Washington, the so-called “Father of our Country.” Several years ago, I wrote a response to this burnishing of his image in “George Washington is not my 'Great White Father'” wherein I discussed his history as a slaveholder. Since that time new research has been published by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, professor of Black American studies and history at the University of Delaware. It should be read by anyone seeking a view of American history through the eyes of the enslaved, rather than solely through the perspective of the enslavers and their apologist biographers. 

Armstrong Dunbar’s book is Never Caught. The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge.

A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave who risked it all to escape the nation’s capital and reach freedom. When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital, after a brief stay in New York. In setting up his household he took Tobias Lear, his celebrated secretary, and nine slaves, including Ona Judge, about which little has been written. As he grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t get his arms around: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire. Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, the few pleasantries she was afforded were nothing compared to freedom, a glimpse of which she encountered first-hand in Philadelphia. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs. At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.


Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: your virtual morning protest rally

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 12:00:54 +0000

“Enemy of the people” is a phrase freighted with such history, and such horror, that it seems impossible that anyone would use it seriously. It’s four words that bring with them the sound of boots marching, the metallic smell of blood, the rumble of approaching trains. And those words are no accident.

Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, advised Americans to take President Trump’s attacks on the media “seriously,” following the president’s denunciations of the press as the “enemy.”

There’s a lie we tell ourselves. That lie is “never again.” Because of course it will happen again. It already has happened again. It happened again in Cambodia, where over 2 million people died for such crimes as being too well educated, or wearing glasses. It happened in China when the Hundred Flowers Campaign urged people to speak up … so that troublemakers could be identified and slaughtered. It happened in Rwanda where hate radio used the delightful slogan “the graves are not yet full,” as well as another blood-soaked maxim out of history, “the final solution.”

It just keeps happening. Again. And again.

Why isn’t “national leader declares free press an enemy of the people” on the list of preludes to fascism? Because it’s not a prelude.

Rule Number 3

Institutions will not save you. It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed. The capture of institutions in Turkey has been carried out even faster, by a man once celebrated as the democrat to lead Turkey into the EU. 

“Never again” may be a lie, but it’s also a promise; a commitment to fight on every day, at every step, through every means available. Because while “never” may never be true, “not this time” certainly can be.

Okay, come on in.


Open thread for night owls: EPA veteran, after years of fighting agency, returns to wreck it

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 03:30:36 +0000

At InsideClimate News, Marianna Lavelle writes—EPA Official, After Years of Work to Thwart the Agency's Mission, Returns to Carry Out Trump Agenda: David Schnare's career with the Environmental Protection Agency began in the agency's infancy in 1978 with the critical mission of implementing the new Safe Drinking Water Act. Over the next 33 years, he would call the EPA home as an enforcement lawyer and policy analyst, while also working in his outside time to try to undermine some of the agency's pressing priorities. During his tenure at the EPA, Schnare simultaneously directed a conservative think tank's environmental program that opposed regulation as a pollution remedy. He testified to Congress that carbon regulations do greater harm to the environment than carbon dioxide. He also co-founded a legal organization funded partly by fossil fuel interests, and through that group launched an effort to make public climate scientists' private emails to call their work into question. Now in his late 60s, Schnare returns to the EPA in a far more powerful role: reshaping it under another foe of regulation, President Donald Trump. He is one of 11 appointees to the agency's beachhead team that is beginning to implement the administration's agenda, which Trump has promised will include a rollback of environmental regulations. Schnare said he's been asked to stay on full-time beyond the transition. That's a chilling prospect for environmental and climate activists, who worry his history of aggressive campaigns against scientists and fossil fuel regulation mean he will work against the agency's mission. "The bottom line is he has been a virulent EPA critic who has worked to block health protections saving many tens of thousands of lives a year," said John Walke, director of the clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.[...] ”In Argentina during the “dirty war” from 1976 to 1983, the military junta was said to “disappear” people. They disappeared dissidents, activists, left-wingers, Jews, both men and women. Those to be disappeared were, if at all possible, taken secretly, so that even the people who loved them might not know their fate. Fifteen thousand to thirty thousand Argentines were thus eradicated. People stopped talking to their neighbors and their friends, silenced by the fear that anything, anyone, might betray them. Their existence grew ever thinner as they tried to protect themselves against non-existence. The word disappear, a verb, became a noun as so many thousands were transformed into the disappeared, los desaparecidos, but the people who loved them kept them alive. The first voices against this disappearance, the first who overcame their fear, spoke up, and became visible, were those of mothers. They were called Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo [...] and having appeared, they refused to go away.                     —Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me, 2014 TWEET OF THE DAY xWhen you're trying to fit in...— Animal Life (@MeetAnimals) February 18, 2017 BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Gannon knew about "shock and awe" hours before: A news producer for a major network just told me that [Jeff] Gannon told the producer the US was going to attack Iraq four hours before President Bush announced it to the nation. According to the producer, Gannon specifically told them that in four hours the president was going to be making a speech to the nation announcing that the US was bombing Iraq. The producer told me they were surprised that Gannon, working with such a small news outfit, could have acces[...]

Even as Clinton easily won Connecticut, the GOP made big gains in both chambers of the legislature

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 20:36:17 +0000

Daily Kos Elections’ project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation ventures to Connecticut, a blue state with two closely divided chambers. You can find our master list of states here, which we'll be updating as we add new states; you can also find all our data from 2016 and past cycles here.

The Nutmeg State backed Hillary Clinton 55-41, but the 2016 legislative elections were not particularly good for Team Blue. The GOP reduced the Democratic state House majority from 86-64 to 79-72, while they chipped their state Senate edge from 21-15 to an 18-18 tie. Democrats still control the upper chamber thanks to Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman’s tie-breaking vote, but it’s not a great place for Democrats to be in. All legislators serve two-year terms.   

We’ll start by looking at the state Senate. Clinton carried 27 of the 36 seats, trading six Obama districts for three Romney seats. The median point in the chamber backed Clinton 54-41, almost the same as her statewide win. No Democrats sit in Trump seats, though Clinton only carried two blue seats by a margin of less than 2 percent. However, nine Republicans represent Clinton turf. The bluest GOP-held seat is SD-26, which includes Ridgefield and part of Westport; Clinton won 59-36 here, a big improvement from Romney’s 50-49 win in 2012, but Republican state Sen. Antonietta Boucher won a fifth term 60-40.


Nuts & Bolts: Caucus and Ancillary Committees

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 02:00:35 +0000

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

This week, I’ll be in Laramie, Wyoming, visiting the Wyoming Democratic Party. At a state meeting, several elements come into play, from the general meeting itself to forums and sessions which are connected to the party.

Today, we’re going to talk about ancillary committees and caucuses within the Democratic state parties, the purpose of them, and how they play a role in helping to elect Democratic candidates in your state.

States have many options to recognize caucus or ancillary committees. Some organizations are nationwide, like Federated Democratic Women’s Clubs. Other groups around the country include: African-American Caucus, LatinX caucus, Asian American Caucus, Progressive Caucus, Disabilities Caucus, Local Elected Caucus, LGBT caucus, and so on. Your state can recognize as many or as few caucus groups as can successfully organize and support the party.

Caucus and ancillary groups can unite people with similar issues. But, what makes for a strong ancillary group/caucus, and what makes for an ancillary group that struggles?


This week in science: House Harkonnen in chaos

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 01:00:42 +0000

Hey conservatives, we’re in the middle of a national crisis involving a nuclear armed adversary, and I’m pretty sure Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have let one of the enemy’s freakin spy-ships troll our eastern seaboard with complete impunity in the middle of that without at least saying something about it. Based on the disjointed presser Thursday afternoon, Trump is now aware his Russian pals are fearlessly tapping US networks while we are embroiled in his needless Kremlin quagmire. Is he planning on at least taking a symbolic position against it, or is he still too busy whining about losing the popular vote to even notice? A Russian intelligence ship has been spotted off the coast of Groton, Connecticut, where Naval Submarine Base New London is located, U.S. defense officials said. The ship, approximately 30 miles from the U.S. naval base, is still in international waters.  Originally, I had asked rhetorically, why can’t we make the life of that spy crew miserable by buzzing it with US aircrafts, or escorting it everywhere with big nasty warships? Why don’t we just jam and blind the shit out of it it with US technical know-how? Then I watched the press conference and realized we can’t do anything subtle, we can’t risk actions with a defined but fragile margin of error and unforgiving consequences if that margin is exceeded, because we have an overhyped, pampered trust-fund doofus in the hotseat who could plunge the country and much of the world into recession, depression, or maybe even extinction, with the click of a mouse in the midst of a routine pique while surfing the Internet. If there were a Pulitzer Prize for best written single paragraphs by political observers, these would surely be in the running: CNN — Donald Trump has benefited from leaks more than the CEO of Depends. So forgive me if I am unpersuaded by Trump's complaints about them. USA Today — If you start firing people for lying, for purveying fake news, for making U.S. foreign policy before you take office, for possibly having financial ties to Russia and possibly being vulnerable to blackmail by Russia, for being investigated by U.S. intelligence agencies — well. Where will it stop? Well, at least some science goes on: To poop where no man has pooped before: On Wednesday morning, NASA rewarded five members of the public — two doctors, a dentist, an engineer and a product designer — for their creative ideas for how to poop in a spacesuit. Yes, it sounds a little bit funny. But unmet toilet needs could have life or death consequences for an astronaut in an emergency situation. Yes, there really is a move afoot by the usual suspects to eliminate the EPA: The bill ... doesn’t bother with anything like wondering what happens to the data the agency collects, or the enforcement the agency carries out. It doesn’t sweat the details of employees or contracts. There’s nothing about what happens to the Clean Air Act, or the Clean Water Act, or the Endangered Species Act, or … anything at all. Just ‘terminated.’ We end on yet another disappointing note: The man tipped as frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump has described climate scientists as “a glassy-eyed cult” in the throes of a form of collective madness. [...]

This week in the war on workers: Iowa Republicans go all Scott Walker on public workers

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 23:55:33 +0000

Iowa Republican sped through a bill targeting public workers in ways similar to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s signature union-busting measure:

Lawmakers in Iowa have voted to dismantle the state’s 40-year-old collective bargaining law, dramatically weakening the power of public sector labor unions and leaving some 185,000 public workers unable to bargain over benefits, healthcare, vacations, retirement, and nearly all workplace issues outside of wages.

Iowa is a right-to-work state, and the new law would prevent voluntary union dues from being deducted from a public employee’s paycheck. It would also require regular recertification votes. Police officers, firefighters and transit workers are exempt from most of the bill’s provisions.

According to a Des Moines Register editorial:

Instead of solving problems, the bill creates them. Blocking most public-sector unions from negotiating over health insurance leaves hundreds of thousands of workers (and their family members) wondering whether they would still receive health insurance through their public-sector employers.

Legislative Republicans don’t have any answers. Neither does Gov. Terry Branstad, who supports the bill. Instead, they try to shift the focus to an entirely different, barely baked idea they’re floating about a “voluntary” and “statewide” health insurance program to cover affected public workers. And they have provided zero details on what that would look like.

But answers and details are not what this is about. It’s about attacking worker power by weakening unions so that they can’t fight as effectively on behalf of their workers or to pass laws that benefit all workers.


Spotlight on green news & views: Regime scrubs gov't website for kids to erase climate warnings

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 23:00:36 +0000

This is the 483rd edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). The Green Spotlight appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here is the February 11 edition. More than 26,440 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in the series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.


Dartagnan writes—A Government Website For Kids Is Scrubbed Of Warnings About Climate Change, Fracking, And Coal: “An article jointly published in Pro-Publica and The Atlantic shows that the incoming Trump Administration has taken its climate-change denier message to a new low by erasing inconvenient facts from a popular, award-winning website designed to inform children about forms of energy. Twenty years ago, the Energy Information Administration, an arm of the Department of Energy, created Energy Kids, a site to inform kids about energy sources and the science behind them. [...] Drawing about 410,000 unique visitors last year, the site has won multiple awards for its content and design. But that was during the Obama Administration. Wary of wholesale changes being made to government websites to accommodate Trump and the anti-science ‘philosophy’ of the fossil fuel industry that supports him, the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a group of scientists, lawyers and activists, identified numerous glaring alterations to the site made during the past month: In recent weeks, language on the website describing the environmental impacts of energy sources has been reworked, and two pie charts concerning the link between coal and greenhouse gas emissions have been removed altogether.


Intrigue and tragedy strike ruling family

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 22:30:35 +0000

That headline looks like it could almost come off of a real story about a real family here in the US. The good news is this story is not about Donald Trump and friends ruling the US as agents of KAOS, but there is drama, there is mystery, and there’s even murder most foul. Brief history lesson: North Korea is a country out of time, the last lone remnant of Cold War communist autocracies from the Asian theatre of the 20th century Cold War. It’s a poor, undeveloped country led by the unhinged dictator son of a communist sociopathic dictator that we’ll call Dear Leader and Dear Leader Jr.

Junior is a weird bird, a ruthless brat who controls the population using the mushroom strategy of keeping everyone in the dark and feeding them shit. He’s a sort of  an international trust fund kid on steroids. Junior’s only real export comes in the form of extorting fellow nations by promising to shut up for a few months if they pay him. Analysts and pundits regularly predict his days are numbered and sooner or later, they will be right. Yeah, I know, it still sounds too close to home. Anyway, Junior’s half-brother was suddenly attacked, killedapparently poisoned—the other day at a local airport and that’s where we are now:

Malaysian police on Wednesday detained a woman holding Vietnam travel papers and are looking for a "few" other foreign suspects in connection with the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother, police said.

Lawmakers in South Korea had earlier cited their spy agency as saying it suspected two female North Korean agents had murdered Kim Jong Nam, and U.S. government sources also told Reuters they believed North Korean assassins were responsible.

Next move? Who knows! That’s a big problem with a nuclear armed but otherwise goofy, poorly run, opaque government where everything is ultimately decided by one incompetent, ultra-isolated kook surrounded by a bunch of unscrupulous relatives and bootlicking toadies. And yes, I’m talking about North Korea here.


Trump campaign rally in Melbourne, Fla., begins soon

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:59:10 +0000

Hard to know what to expect given Pr*sident Trump’s latest public encounters. Perhaps he will let us know who else is on his enemies list. You can watch here if you have the stomach for it and nothing better to do with your weekend, like scrubbing toilets. The Resist: Melbourne people are on line here. If  you yourself are there and have Tweets or video of the doings, join us in the comments. You can see some protest photos here. x x YouTube Video Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:28:19 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Rep. Bill Posey of Florida’s 8th District (Melbourne) seems to credit Donald Trump with the death of Fidel Castro.  Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:31:33 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Florida’s greased palm Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi gives us a few words. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:33:57 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades With the state flag’s echo of the Rebel battle flag in the background, the Battle Hymn of the Republic rings out to greet Trump. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:38:14 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Auld lang syne? Uh…. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:50:58 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Given the cluelessness, perhaps the ending music will be John Brown’s Body.  Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:53:21 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Not 5 minutes in, we’re on the “dishonest media.”  Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 10:56:17 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades If only Trump was intoning that “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in a courtroom wearing a jumpsuit the color of his hair. xWhat you are hearing from Trump right now isn't spin, it's delusion— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) February 18, 2017 Optimism in the polls may be high, as the pr*sident claims, but there’s something else happening there, too. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 11:04:57 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Trump finds something wrong with having two Air Force Ones? What could possibly go awry if there was only one? Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 11:21:46 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Hammering on just a few of same old themes and spouting the same lies no matter how often they are debunked. That’s the Trumpian playbook. It’s also the Joseph Goebbels playbook. Saturday, Feb 18, 2017 · 11:36:40 PM +00:00 · Meteor Blades Obviously, the Trump Team has schooled the man on how to treat Melania better in public.  [...]

Polar ice reaching alarming low levels at both ends of the Earth

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:00:30 +0000

Sea and land ice at both poles crept toward alarming seasonal lows this week. Freak heat waves in the high Arctic have kept ice from forming at the usual winter rate, and now summer down under is taking its toll on the world’s largest ice sheets:

Sea ice in the Antarctic is at its lowest level since records began while the Arctic is on track for another historic new low. According to figures from the US National Snow & Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), sea ice in the Antarctic covered just 2.3 million square kilometres on 12 February — compared to the average between 1981 and 2010 of more than three million on that day.

Warmer temperatures do more than directly melt the ice and feed runaway polar amplification of global warming. More energy in the surface troposphere, the part of the atmosphere we and just about everything else lives in, means more wind, faster evaporations and sublimation, leading to bigger weather systems and storms. The precise activity that further stirs and helps break up icy formations, especially tongues and large shelves of ice floating on top of polar seas.

The Arctic as defined by a permanent ice-cap is almost certainly doomed in our lifetime. The immediate future of Antarctica in a rapidly warming world is not as well understood, but if steps aren't taken soon to significantly curb global greenhouse gas emissions, it will not survive in its current, pristine form. 


This week at progressive state blogs: In MT—'I don't rent to your kind'; protecting SW Virginia

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 20:00:26 +0000

This week at progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should be watching. Here is the February 11 edition. Inclusion of a blog post does not necessarily indicate my agreement with—or endorsement of—its contents.

Donna at Democratic Diva of Arizona writes—Town Hall Double Standards:

Remember back in the summer of 2009, when members of Congress of both parties held town hall meetings with constituents about health care reform, and there were loud protesters at all them, but especially at the ones held by Democrats?


And remember how that same summer Ann Kirkpatrick, who was serving her first term in Congress held a small event at a Safeway in Holbrook, AZ, that was not supposed to be a town hall but a lot of people turned up anyway and were angry and shouting at her and she and others feared for her safety so she walked out? Footage of that walking out was used in attack ads against Kirkpatrick in 2010 and every subsequent time she ran for election or reelection, including in her 2016 Senate race seven years later.

Think about that when you see this quote from a New York Magazine piece on a “rowdy” town hall led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz spotted by Salon‘s Amanda Marcotte.

“I am not going to hold town hall meetings in this atmosphere, because they would very quickly turn into shouting opportunities for extremists, kooks and radicals,” the letter reads. “Also, I do not intend to give more publicity to those on the far left who have so much hatred, anger and frustration in them.”


View from the Left: GOP representatives in Clinton districts stonewall their constituents

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 19:00:36 +0000

Republicans have been ducking out of town halls for over a month now—a sometimes hilarious and often cowardly spectacle that’s drawn both local and national headlines. But lurking beneath the surface of those stories is the lesser noticed trend of Republican representatives who are entirely ignoring their constituents.  In fact, with Congress in recess next week and most GOP members returning to their districts, the Republican party was desperate to escape the embarrassing interactions. Following Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s jaw-dropping face off with a throng of feisty constituents yelling “Do your job!” the GOP finally settled on uniformly dismissing town halls as dangerous and pointless events. “This organized mob has displayed hostile, violent, and deliberately disruptive behavior,” the party wrote of the Indivisible movement, “it hijacks town hall meetings to prevent any type of meaningful discussion.” Instead of in-person town halls, the party is now recommending holding tele-town halls and more controlled meetings with smaller groups of constituents. Indeed, the Town Hall Project says just 19 Republican members have scheduled town halls for next week. That’s particularly convenient for a group of GOP lawmakers I’m loosely referring to as the Clinton 24—two dozen Republican members who hold seats in districts where Clinton beat or tied Trump (see the list at the end of this post). Many of them have been stonewalling constituents ever since the election and now they simply have the perfect excuse to continue doing so. Based on a little googling, my research of the Clinton 24 shows that 19 members have faced protests and/or petition efforts of some sort this year, at least a dozen are outright blocking constituent contact, and just a handful have actually held or scheduled some type of in-person town hall or meeting. [...]

'The leaks are real. The news is absolutely fake' and other Donald Trump deep thoughts on leaks

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 22:32:00 +0000

Before losing the popular vote, Donald Trump spent a lot of his presidential campaign talking about leaks. At the time, he was for them. He has also spent a lot of the past week or so of his presidency talking about leaks. He’s against them now. Reporters asked him about that in Thursday’s press conference and his answers were not terribly illuminating.

The difference, apparently, is that when information leaks about Trump:

Those are criminal leaks. They're put out by people either in agencies -- I think you'll see it stopping because now we have our people in. 

And when reporters write it up, somehow:

The leaks are real. The news is absolutely fake.

Whereas when Russia-backed hackers attack Trump’s political opponents, it’s no big thing, because “they're not giving classified information,” and when the media extensively hypes those leaks obtained through illegal hacking, it’s a good thing. The fact that Trump gave a press conference to ask Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state, hacking that he was sure would turn up classified information that he wanted to see released … well, he didn’t address that one directly on Thursday. Shockingly enough.

Can we also take a minute to talk about how “I think you'll see it stopping because now we have our people in”? Does Trump still not realize that the federal government is not 100 percent staffed with political appointees, and that he will still have to deal with civil servants appalled at his behavior and ready to act, effectively, as whistleblowers? To say nothing of the fact that Trump’s White House has leaked like a sieve, with many of the leaks clearly coming from his own handpicked staff.


Over 200 Republicans decided to hide from constituents next week instead of hosting town halls

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 23:13:14 +0000

This is the weekend that congressmen and congresswomen return to their districts, leaving the smoky rooms of Washington, D.C., behind to be with the constituency they are supposed to represent. You know, the people who gave them their job. For Republicans this is problematic since now more than ever, it’s apparent that they have never planned on representing anyone but big money interests.

For the first two months of the new Congress, the 292 Republicans have scheduled just 88 in-person town hall events — and 35 of those sessions are for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, according to a tabulation conducted by Legistorm. In the first two months of the previous Congress in 2015, by contrast, Republicans held 222 in-person town hall events.

Maybe these elected officials don’t want to have to answer questions like why they’ve stonewalled attempts to make the president release his tax return information, even though the majority of the American people want this to happen. Citizens are going out of their way to make it known to their elected officials that they must be heard. Whether it is driving an extraordinary distance to find their officials, or just putting up fliers in the hopes of some good samaritan finding their lost official, activists and regular citizens are fed up with the duck-and-cover mentality.

Congress is on February recess, and members are back in their home districts. Let them know in no uncertain terms that tolerance of Trump's hateful agenda is unacceptable and politically toxic.


Can the U.S. promote fair housing? Not if Republicans have anything to do with it.

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:43:59 +0000

Two years ago, the Obama administration started using data to push communities to obey the part of the Fair Housing Act that says that if a community gets federal affordable housing money, it has to “affirmatively further” fair housing. Can you guess where this is going? Right. Republicans don’t like that, so they are working to roll it back

According to Republicans, telling communities that if they want federal money, they have to tackle racial disparities:

… is essentially the federal involvement meddling in local zoning issues. Some, including Trump’s pick for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ben Carson, go further and call this “social engineering.” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said this was President Obama forcing "his utopian ideology on American communities."

So Gosar, along with Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Marco Rubio, introduced a bill, dubbed the Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017, that would roll back President Obama’s legacy on fair housing. Then it bars any similar rules from being created in the future.

Not only that, the bill as currently written would make sure “no Federal funds may be used to design, build, maintain, utilize, or provide access to a Federal database of geospatial information on community racial disparities or disparities in access to affordable housing.” It’s a mandate for ignorance. The good news is, Lee and Gosar’s offices say they might narrow the language so that it doesn’t prevent all data collection on everything. The bad news is their central intent: to ensure that the federal government doesn’t try to address racial disparities in housing. 

This is worse than “if we close our eyes, maybe it will go away.” This is “we should close our eyes so that it doesn’t go away.”


Trump's new labor nominee did some shady stuff as a George W. Bush appointee

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 18:10:42 +0000

Alexander Acosta, Donald Trump’s new pick for labor secretary, is a much more traditional choice than the failed nomination of fast food CEO Andy Puzder. Acosta has government experience, including at the National Labor Relations Board and in the Justice Department, he’s been confirmed by the Senate previously, and as far as we know at this point he has neither presided over a company with a major record of labor law violations nor been accused of domestic violence. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some blemishes on his record. While Acosta was assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department under George W. Bush: Brad Schlozman, a deputy assistant attorney general, "improperly considered political and ideological affiliations" when he hired attorneys to work at the Civil Rights Division, according to a Justice Department inspector general report written in 2008. "Attorneys hired by Schlozman were more than twice as likely to be Republican or conservative than those attorneys Scholzman was not involved in hiring," the report found. That consideration, the report concluded, violated the Civil Service Reform Act and department policy that bars discrimination in hiring based on political and ideological affiliations. The agency concluded that Acosta and other Civil Rights Division managers failed to "exercise sufficient oversight to ensure that Schlozman did not engage in inappropriate hiring and personnel practices." Specifically, Acosta and Deputy Attorney General Wan Kim "failed to ensure that Schlozman's hiring and personnel decisions were based on proper considerations," the report noted. Having presided over illegal hiring practices would, in a sane world, be a mark against a potential labor secretary. Acosta will face confirmation in Republican-world, however, where it’s probably a mark in his favor. Acosta also used his Justice Department role to attack voting rights, and, as U.S. attorney for Southern Florida, he was involved in a sweetheart plea deal for billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of what Politico describes as “having sex with dozens of underage girls,” a description that, last I checked, translated to “statutory rape.” Epstein, by the way, was a Mar-a-Lago member who Trump described in 2002 as a “terrific guy.” So this is what it looks like when Trump makes a safe choice. [...]

States' rights stop at Idaho's borders when it comes to demon weed, says Republican governor

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:47:37 +0000

It's not like Idaho's Republican Gov. Butch Otter has things to do, like figuring out how to get health care to 78,000 people in the Medicaid gap. Idaho didn't accept Medicaid expansion because Otter was trying to keep the jack-booted foot of the federal government off of the throat of the state. But now that the jack-boot is on a Republican foot, and the question is weed, bring it on.

Idaho Republicans stand united against most federal mandates from Washington, D.C., especially when Democrats are in control. But when Republicans take control of the federal strings of power, this authority seems less ominous.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter showed this shift in a Jan. 30 letter to President Donald Trump. He wrote that he looked forward to the closer collaboration with federal agencies than he experienced during the Obama years.

And he sought more flexibility from a host of programs, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But he specifically urged Trump to use the full power of the federal government against neighboring states that have legalized marijuana.

“Among the most pressing concerns facing Idaho, both from the criminal and public health standpoints, is the utter lack of consistency displayed by the Obama administration in enforcement of federal marijuana laws,” Otter wrote. “In that respect, Idaho is a virtual island of compliance, and we are paying the price.”

Ask your average Idahoan if they feel oppressed by being surrounded by states—Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Nevada—that allow either medical or recreational marijuana or both, and they'd probably say "huh?" Ask them if they have health care and they'll probably say "no." Who knows, they might even also tell you that access to weed over the border helps them treat chronic pain or glaucoma or some other condition that they can't get treated by a doctor because they can't afford to go to one.

But by all means, Otter, continue this hypocritical crusade and further alienate Idaho from the enlightened region we're surrounded by. They love having us to make fun of.


Obamacare repeal will gut opioid treatment gains in Kentucky, and it will be Mitch McConnell's fault

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 15:30:47 +0000

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talked tough Friday morning about how "left-wing agitators" were interfering in Senate business, but added "I can only speak for myself, I'm not afraid of protesters." Which is news to the constituents he ran away from last week back home in Kentucky. McConnell is going back to Kentucky next week for the Presidents' Day recess, but he's only scheduled to meet friendly groups as of now, like various chambers of commerce.

That might be because with friendly crowds, he doesn't have to worry about being hit with the hard realities of life back home. Like how repealing Obamacare is going to halt opioid treatment gains in the state.

Repeal without replacement of funds would have “particularly adverse effects” on states like Kentucky and Pennsylvania, wrote Harvard health economics professor Richard Frank and Sherry Glied, dean of the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.

Both states used the health care law’s Medicaid expansion to promote medication-assisted treatment for opioid abusers. Medicaid now pays for 35 to 50 percent of all medication-assisted treatment in Kentucky, the study found. In Pennsylvania, it’s 30 percent. […]

The Medicaid expansion in Kentucky made substance-abuse treatment available to many more people and also increased the depth and variety of services they can get, said Steve Shannon, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Regional Programs. The associations represents community mental health centers, which provide substance abuse treatment.

Shannon said there is a concern that eliminating the Affordable Care Act could mean less funding to help people battling addiction, which he contends is the top public-policy problem facing the state.

Let's hope that some of the folks paying to see McConnell at these various chamber luncheons are hospital administrators and doctors and nurses and other health professionals who can ask him just what he plans to do about the state's top policy issue. And what he intends to do to make sure that there's still affordable, accessible health care for all the people relying on Obamacare.


A quick note about that DNC chair race ...

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 00:43:26 +0000

The interminable DNC chair race is so fucking stupid. Trump and the GOP are trying to burn down the government, possibly at Putin’s behest, and we’re wasting time back in internecine flame-throwing campaign mode. And what makes it worse is that the campaign has become a proxy war for those who still want to fight over last year’s primaries. For the record: I don’t care who wins, I don’t see much difference between the leading candidates, and I want to get on to the real battles.

So, some small-brained flame throwers are hyperventilating because the two leading candidates had dinner together. It’s a really big deal. It means something really big. Or something. Or not. Well, let’s go to the candidates themselves.



Maybe those who are busy demonizing one or the other because they favor the other or one ought to listen to what both are actually saying.


Sidelined State Department preparing for a second purge

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 21:38:59 +0000

Secretary of State is generally thought of as the most important position in the cabinet, but in the Trump regime, the whole department is held in contempt.

Senior state department officials who would normally be called to the White House for their views on key policy issues, are not being asked their opinion. They have resorted to asking foreign diplomats, who now have better access to President Trump’s immediate circle of advisers, what new decisions are imminent.

The public voice of the state department has fallen silent. There has not been a daily press briefing, the customary channel for voicing US views and policy on world events, since January.

This is, after all, a regime which believes diplomacy is something to laugh about, and diplomats don't know what they are doing. After all, if they're so good at deals, why aren't they all billionaires? The State Department has already survived one purge of top leadership.

The move left Tillerson with a huge hole at the State Department after the departure of the officials, who had a combined 150 years of institutional experience.

Now Trump and Tillerson are demonstrating their continued disdain with a “shake up” that looks like the start of a deeper purge.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reassigned a majority of the staff meant to work most closely with the top US diplomat in what career officials at the State Department fear is the start of a major reorganization.


Voting Rights Roundup: New study confirms just how racially discriminatory voter ID laws truly are

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 13:59:33 +0000

Leading off ● Voter ID: We’ve always suspected it, but now new academic research confirms it: Strict voter ID laws do indeed disproportionately lower turnout among Latino, black, and Asian voters compared to whites, which of course benefits conservatives and the Republican Party. The authors of this new study found that strict ID laws—where registered voters must show a photo ID to have their vote count, and no exceptions are permitted—depressed Latino turnout rates the most, followed by black and Asian-American turnout, yet white turnout was largely unaffected. Campaign Action Those findings held true even when researchers accounted for a variety of other factors, and they were even more acute in primaries. That latter point is critical because many states and cities hold elections for important races such as city council seats, judgeships, and even state constitutional amendments at times other than November general elections. It also means voter ID can make even Democratic primary electorates whiter. In sum, these effects yield electorates that are whiter and more conservative—and consequently more Republican-leaning. The study’s authors attempted to improve upon previous research that had generally been inconclusive. Among other things, this newer study used data from as recently as 2014. That date is crucial because many states only passed strict voter ID laws after Republicans took power following the 2010 elections. In addition, states like Texas were only able to implement their strict ID laws once the Supreme Court gutted an essential provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. As more detailed 2016 data becomes available, future scholarship should be able to more definitively quantify just how racially discriminatory voter ID laws truly are. Republicans always claim voter ID laws are meant to stamp out voter fraud, but a large body of research has already proven just how incredibly rare such fraud is. In fact, one review of votes cast in 2016 so far found only four cases of so-called “impersonation” fraud in an election in which nearly 140 million Americans cast ballots. This latest research further demonstrates just how, well, fraudulent Republican justifications for voter ID really are. In the end, they’re nothing more than an effort to suppress Latino, black, and Asian-American voters from casting ballots. [...]

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Chaos doesn't poll all that well, as it turns out

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 12:16:32 +0000

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo: Multiple former national security experts conjectured that the hang-up specifically was Trump’s deputy national security adviser, KT McFarland, a TV commentator who has not served in government since the Reagan era. Few foreign policy professionals consider her qualified for the job. An experienced former foreign policy official tells me: “Harward insisted on a very reasonable condition, which was naming his own deputy. Now the administration has an even deeper problem: either the next candidate will make the same demand, or he or she will appear to be weak and overly ambitious by accepting conditions Harward turned down.” The official suggested: “The way out of this is to give KT McFarland a nice, sunny embassy — fast.”… As CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted, “A friend of Harward’s says he was reluctant to take NSA job [because] the WH seems so chaotic; says Harward called the offer a ‘s––– sandwich.’ ” Sooner rather than later, we hope that for the country’s sake, Jared Kushner or Look at white college grad+ Ivanka Trump (or someone else Trump will listen to) will lay it out bluntly: He can have Bannon running roughshod over the administration, or he can be a successful president; he cannot have both. Pew: Overall, 39% say they approve of how Trump is handling his job as president, while 56% say they disapprove and 6% do not offer a view. Job ratings for Trump are more negative than for other recent presidents at similar points in their first terms. By margins of more than two-to-one, larger shares of the public approved than disapproved of the early performance of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. For example, in February 2001 – just a few months after Bush defeated Al Gore, despite narrowly losing the popular vote – 53% approved of how he was handling his job, compared with just 21% who said they disapproved. [...]

Open thread for night owls. DeVega: The compromised Trump regime looks like a criminal enterprise

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 04:00:40 +0000

Chauncey DeVega at Salon writes—None dare call it treason: As the Flynn scandal widens, let’s consider the evidence that Trump is a traitor: In the midst of these not so new “revelations” about Michael Flynn and other members of Trump’s inner circle, the news media is now fixated on the Nixonian question: “What did the president know and when did he know it?” This question ought to not be treated like a mystery. The answer should be readily apparent because it is a direct reflection of Trump’s political and personal values. Trump has repeatedly shown that he is a fascist authoritarian who admires political strongmen and autocrats such as Putin. In keeping with that leadership style, Trump has surrounded himself with family members and other advisers so as to insulate himself from criticism — and also to neuter any political rivals. In violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, Trump is also using the office of the presidency to personally enrich himself, his family members and other members of his inner circle, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Donald Trump also has a longtime pattern of open admiration for gangsters and organized crime. In sum, Trump’s presidency has many of the traits of a criminal enterprise and a financial shakedown operation, masquerading as a democratically elected government. Flynn resigned because he got caught, not because of what he did. [...] QUOTATION OF THE DAY “We live in a country that is addicted to incarceration as a tool for social control. As it stands now justice systems are extremely expensive, do not rehabilitate but in fact make the people that experience them worse and have no evidence based correlatives to reducing crime. Yet with that track record they continue to thrive, prosper and are seen as an appropriate response to children in trouble with the law. Only an addict would see that as an okay result.”                     —James Bell, Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, 2006 TWEET OF THE DAY xJonas Salk had Asperger's. If anything, autism causes vaccines.— Jesse Case (@jessecase) February 16, 2017 BLAST FROM THE PAST At Daily Kos on this date in 2011—Gov. Scott blasted on high-speed rail funds. Gov. Brown says money 'welcome here' Florida editorial writers and some fellow Republicans are giving newly elected Gov. Rick Scott a thrashing over what can only fairly be described as his loony rejection of federal funding for the first leg of a high-speed rail line that backers hoped would eventually connect Tampa with Miami via Orlando. On the heels of Scott's incomprehensible decision, newly elected Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown says he's eager to see some of that Florida HSR money redirected to California, which has already received more money than any state for its ambitious 800-mile line. One key Florida Republican, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure John Mica, expressed dismay that he had been unable to sway Scott from rejecting the HSR funds, a decision he said (being charitab[...]

Trump let Boeing's CEO listen in as he quizzed an Air Force general over a rival's program

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 03:30:45 +0000

It’s not clear Donald Trump knows what he’s doing, but his tendency of agreeing with whoever he last spoke to is already turning government into a bit of a clusterfudge:

Days before taking office, President-elect Donald Trump made two surprise calls to the Air Force general managing the Pentagon’s largest weapons program, the Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 jet.

Listening in on one of those calls was Dennis Muilenburg -- the CEO of Lockheed’s chief rival, Boeing Co.

Alright, so Trump had some questions about the Lockheed's F-35 program, which he's criticized as "out of control" but also has pointed to as evidence of his imaginary business genius.

So why, precisely, was he asking those questions when the CEO of Lockheed's key rival was in the room? Reading between the lines here, he seems to have tasked the Air Force general with justifying the program in comparison to Boeing's own offering. Presumably based on his conversation with the Boeing CEO just minutes earlier.

After speaking with Trump, Bogdan wrote two three-page memos, titled “phone conversations with President-Elect,” dated Jan. 10 and 18th and stamped “For Official Use Only,” to limit distribution, according to the people. The memos outlined Trump’s questions about the capabilities of Boeing’s Super Hornet fighter and how it might compete against Lockheed’s F-35C. About a dozen Pentagon officials were alerted to the calls after they occurred, the people said.

Ted Nugent loudly flirts with a Senate bid against Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:39:58 +0000

About a week ago, a tea party activist who was just elected to the Michigan GOP central committee said that it would be cool if singer Kid Rock, a vocal Trump supporter, ran against Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. This was enough to generate plenty of “Kid Rock for Senate!” articles, even though there’s no word that either Kid Rock (real name Robert Ritchie) or more senior Republicans were at all thinking about this. But one other loudmouthed Trump-loving musician, Ted Nugent, actually is expressing interest in a Senate bid. Nugent recently posted on Facebook that if the local GOP didn’t get its act together, “I will come charging in as the ultimate we the pissed off people Mr. Fix It constitutional fire breathing candidate from hell!" When asked if he was serious, Nugent said, "I'm always very interested in making my country and the great state of Michigan great again." Nugent is currently a Texas resident, but the “Motor City Madman” was born in Michigan. Two years ago, the idea of Nugent, who has a long history of racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic comments, running for the Senate would seem like a stunt but … well, Donald Trump won Michigan, and he’s sitting in the White House now. But Trump’s victory in the Wolverine State was narrow, and if the GOP faces the usual midterm doldrums that the party in power usually faces, the 2018 electorate probably won’t be keen to back someone like Trump. It’s also very unlikely that Nugent, who called for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to “be tried for treason and hung,” will have any crossover support. But then again, Nugent making it to the Senate would only be, at most, the second-most sadly absurd thing to happen in American politics over the last few years. [...]

Despite Democratic gains in Arizona, a state Senate majority remains an elusive target

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 22:03:09 +0000

Daily Kos Elections’ project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for every state legislative seat in the nation comes to Arizona, a state where Hillary Clinton noticeably improved on Barack Obama’s 2012 performance even in defeat. You can find our master list of states here, which we'll be updating as we add new states; you can also find all our data from 2016 and past cycles here. The Grand Canyon State backed Donald Trump 49-45, a smaller win than Mitt Romney’s 54-45 victory four years before. Arizona is divided into 30 legislative districts, and each one elects one senator and two state representatives every two years; the districts are exactly the same for both chambers. The GOP holds a 17-13 majority in the Senate and a 35-25 majority in the House, with Democrats netting one seat in each chamber. Arizona’s legislative and congressional districts are drawn by an independent redistricting commission, a body the Republican legislature has repeatedly tried to sue out of existence. Trump carried 16 of the legislative districts, losing two seats that Romney won. None of the 13 Senate Democrats sit in Trump districts, while just one Senate Republican has a Clinton seat. Republican Kate McGee won a promotion from the state House 51-49 even as her suburban Phoenix LD-28 swung from 53-45 Romney to 50-45 Clinton. The other Romney/Clinton seat is LD-18 south of Tempe, which went from 50-48 Romney to 52-42 Clinton. Last year, Democrat Sean Bowie won this seat 51-49, which became open after the Republican incumbent lost his primary. Democrats haven’t controlled the state Senate since the early 1990s, though a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans ran the chamber in the early 2000s when both sides controlled half the seats. If Democrats hold all 13 of their current seats, there is a path to forcing another tie: Unlike in most states, there is no lieutenant governor who could break a tie, so there would presumably be some sort of power sharing agreement again. Besides McGee’s LD-28, the Republican in the bluest seat is Steve Yarbrough in LD-17; this Chandler seat swung from 56-42 Romney to 49-45 Trump, though Yarbrough won by a convincing 57-43. But even if Democrats hold all their seats and unseat McGee and Yarbrough, getting the 16th seat they’ll need to outright control the chamber will be very difficult. Republican Kimberly Yee represents what on paper should be their next target, but her LD-20 backed Trump 51-43. That’s a drop from Romney’s 55-42 win but this suburban Phoenix seat is still quite red, and Yee won 50-36. Unfortunately, the turf only gets tougher from Democrats after that. Over in the House, three Republicans represent Clinton seats while no Democrats hold Trump turf. Both legislative districts that swung from Romney to Clinton have one Democratic and one Republican state representative each. The one Republican who holds an Obama/Clinton seat is Todd Clodfelter in the Tucson-based LD-10; his seat swung from 52-47 Obama to 53-42 [...]

Canada welcomes migrants leaving the US as they risk life and limb to get away from Trump

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 20:10:28 +0000

All through the presidential campaign, people joked about moving to Canada if Donald Trump won. They even crashed the Canadian citizenship and immigration website. Then much to our horror, he won the arcane electoral college which allowed him to move into the White House despite not winning the popular vote. But true to their word, people are now moving to Canada instead of remaining in the U.S.—although it’s largely out of necessity instead of preference. 

Canada has seen a recent influx of immigrants crossing over snowy remote areas near the U.S. border in order to seek asylum rather than stay in Trump’s America.

People who work with immigrants in Canada say these border-jumpers would rather be arrested in Canada than live in fear of how U.S. officials might handle their cases.

"There's quite an increase in people walking through illegally," says Cpl. Camille Habel, spokeswoman with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Some of them have endured frostbite and have lost fingers. Still, they are afraid and desperate enough to make the trip.

Hussein Ahmed and Mohamed Hossain moved as quickly as they could through the waist-deep snow. They were fleeing the United States for Canada, terrified but determined to get to safety.

"Sometimes we were crawling," Ahmed, 34, says. "It was terrible. ... I thought I would never survive such a field of ice." [...]

The men began having sleepless nights because of US President Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric. Then he signed an executive order temporarily barring refugees, and all travelers from Somalia. That was the final sign. They hatched a plan to leave.

As Trump ignores white nationalist violence, another would-be terrorist is caught in Myrtle Beach

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 01:30:29 +0000

Donald Trump was asked multiple times, during Thursday's bizarre and somewhat spittle-flecked press conference, to weigh in on the spike of racist violence that has paralleled his campaign and election. He refused. But that violence is showing no signs of abating.

A man with connections to a white supremacy group was arrested in Myrtle Beach Wednesday after purchasing a gun from an undercover FBI agent, apparently intending to commit an attack “in the spirit of Dylann Roof.”

The apparent target was a synagogue in Myrtle Beach. And the white supremacist, Benjamin McDowell, didn't intend to go out in a blaze of glory.

McDowell went on to say that “I got the heart to do that s***, but I don’t have the good training,” the document states. He told the agent he sought a way to conduct an attack on non-whites without getting caught. He continued: "I seen what Dylann Roof did and in my heart I reckon I got a little bit of hatred and I..I want to do that s***. Like, I got desire, not for nobody just...I want something where i can say, 'I f****** did that' personally."

This parallels the recent attack by a Trump-supporting white supremacist on a Quebec City mosque, an attack Trump's team bizarrely used to justify its ban on Muslim immigrants. It's not likely Trump will so much as acknowledge this latest act of attempted terrorism.

Indeed, by retargeting programs combating violent extremism to focus solely on Muslim communities, this White House seems to be intentionally turning a blind eye to white nationalist violence. Still.


Jared Kushner proves he's as horribly corrupt as the family he married into

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:16:14 +0000

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner thinks his father-in-law popular vote loser Donald Trump has gotten a very bad wrap from the traditional media, so he's going straight to the top and complaining to the parent company of one outlet to complain. There's at least four extremely troublesome things in that single sentence, but let's start with the obvious—what the fuck is the WH doing whining to a corporation about bad press from their owned subsidiary when that corporation is right now under federal review for a proposed merger? According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Kushner met with top executives at Time Warner—the parent company of President Trump’s least-favorite media organization CNN—to express his concern about “unfair coverage slanted against the president.” Kushner has discussed the matter of the less-than-flattering-but-definitely-accurate coverage with Time Warner VP of corporate marketing and communications Gary Ginsberg in a meeting at the White House as well as with Jeff Zucker, CNN Worldwide President. Tangled up in this messy bit of news is the fact that AT&T is close to buying Time Warner in a massive $88.4 billion deal that’s still awaiting government approval—a deal that Trump swore during the campaign would not happen. Also, Zucker was instrumental in Trump’s success. As the president of NBC Universal, he put The Apprentice on air, giving the bloviating moron that now runs our country a national platform, setting the stage for his star to rise. Clearly, Kushner has all the subtlety of the horrific family he married into. Apparently he is just as fine with using the power of the White House for personal gain and beefs as his in-laws. Kushner specifically was complaining about two CNN pundits, conservative Ana Navarro and liberal Van Jones. Navarro leaped to respond with scathing tweets calling him "Little Jared" and "baby boy," laughing out loud that "Little boy Kushner, tough guy who's supposed to achieve Middle East peace, is complaining about me to CNN. Boo-hoo!" That's an extremely satisfying response from Navarro, but also a smart one. She's blown this story up to the point that CNN can't dump her without making it and Time Warner look craven and ridiculous. [...]

Trump's honking his tweeter again, demonizing media as 'enemy.' Presidenting just a part-time job

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 23:25:23 +0000

Joseph Goebbels hated the press and confronted it head-on before the ink was dry on his boss’s agreement to serve as chancellor. Being an honest journalist became impossible in 1933 Germany. Richard Nixon hated the press, too, and a few journalists were on his enemies list. Michael Beschloss notes that in December 1972, Tricky was taped saying to Henry Kissinger: “The press is the enemy, the establishment is the enemy, the professors are the enemy." Donald Trump is no Goebbels nor is he a Nixon, both of whom, despite their manifest evilness, were quite smart and quite well read. Like them, the man squatting in the White House does despise the media, but without having any cogent analysis of its flaws, just a personal grudge.  On Friday, he trotted it out in a Tweet, as Sahil Kapur noted:   After deleting, Trump clarified: xThe FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017 It’s rather obvious to anybody watching that Trump believes the press is his enemy. So, in another example of what Shep Smith pointed out yesterday, the new pr*sident is shown to lie practically every time he encounters a microphone or pops into his Twitter account.  While the paranoid Nixon believed the press was his enemy, he was smart enough not to hammer on it repeatedly or even say it aloud outside his inner circle, although his vice president, Spiro Agnew, was given a free hand to spew publicly about the “nattering nabobs of negativism.” Trump, on the other hand, whatever he actually believes, is merely using press hatred as a prop to distract his base from developing doubts about him. That doesn’t mean he won’t try something more aggressive than a mere 140-character blast at the “enemy press.” He and his pals who are working hard to curb government data collection and interpretation could move us into dangerous territory impinging on the press. There’s plenty to critique the media about—Daily Kos writers have hardly been shy about doing so over the past 15 years. Overly concentrated, homogenized, free of voices from a big hunk of the political spectrum and other media flaws have been catalogued by progressives for decades. But there’s about as much depth to Trump’s evaluation of the media as there apparently is about world affairs in his daily briefings.  Just another example today of how Trump seeks to make everything about him while pretending it’s about the American people. A favored fascist technique. And an especially worrisome one when used to incite serious reaction, as his choice of “enemy” certainly does. [...]

Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Resistance FRIDAY!

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 00:30:10 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE… Late Night Snark Documents the Derp “The president decided to hold an impromptu press conference, and it was a sight to see. It reminded me of something you’d see before a pay-per-view boxing event. … The tone of the press conference was like if your dad found a pack of cigarettes under your mattress.” ---Jimmy Kimmel “Did you hear him? He said he’s not ranting and raving, but again, what president hasn’t had to say ‘I’m not ranting and raving’? Who can forget Lincoln’s tirade at Gettysburg? Or FDR’s fireside meltdowns? And, of course, Ronald Reagan famously saying, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, if you don’t tear down this fucking wall, I’m going to lose my shit!’” ---Seth Meyers Trump at his press conference: “To be honest, I inherited a mess.” Stephen Colbert: “No. You inherited a fortune. We elected a mess.” ---The Late Show xAll the girls love yakking with Vlad! 💕 #SamanthaBee— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) February 16, 2017 "At an international tennis match, U.S. officials accidentally played the Nazi national anthem. White House adviser Steve Bannon was outraged and said, 'We’re not rolling that out till August! C’mon!'" ---Conan O'Brien "The White House 'counseled' Kellyanne Conway after she violated a federal ethics rule by promoting Ivanka Trump's clothing line on Fox News. Counseled? Her job title is literally ‘Counselor to the President.’ So Trump's White House is so dysfunctional his counselor needs a counselor. That's like your Uber driver asking you to get out and push." ---Michael Che, SNL And eight years ago… "How about President Barack Obama's first prime time press conference last night? He was cogent, eloquent, and in complete command of the issues. I'm thinking to myself, what the hell am I supposed to do with that?” ---David Letterman Yeah. Whatever shall we do with that boring brainiac POTUS? Your west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!] [...]

Trump can't come clean on Russia, because the cover-up is all that keeps him in office

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 14:45:49 +0000

It may not have originated with Watergate, but the saying “the cover-up is worse than the crime” certainly got a boost from that affair. Nixon’s convoluted efforts to hide his connection to the break-ins served only to fan the flames and draw attention to the story, and the lesson every politician is supposed to have taken away from the resultant mess is that it’s better to fess up to a problem than to hide it. Otherwise, you end up claiming you’re “not a crook” … or discussing the meaning of “is.”

Under that theory, a guy who claims he can shoot people on Fifth Avenue without losing support seems like he should be confession central; ready to spill his guts on everything he’s done before it can fester. But there are two reasons why Donald Trump has to maintain that his Russia connection is “fake news.” First, it would be admitting a mistake, and chief among Trump’s long list of flaws is his inability to admit that he has any flaws. 

Second … the conventional wisdom is wrong in this case. Because the crime is worse.

The connections between the Trump camp and Moscow during the campaign, when Vladimir Putin was trying to subvert American democracy. …

Whenever queried about this highly sensitive matter, Trump and his minions have said there were no contacts between anyone in his crew and the Putin regime during the 2016 campaign. This is a cover-up.

The crime is that Trump’s campaign did have contacts with Russia. Frequently. And on several fronts.

It was stated openly just days after the election …

Russia said it was in contact with President-elect Donald Trump’s team during the U.S. election campaign, despite repeated denials by the Republican candidate’s advisers that any links existed.

And it’s confirmed in intelligence reports on the same day Flynn resigned.


Donald Trump sends aide out to say Donald Trump's press conference was 'fabulous'

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:35:49 +0000

Sebastian Gorka, Donald Trump’s creepy anti-Muslim aide, went on the BBC following Trump’s Thursday press conference to spread the word: Trump was “fabulous.” Gorka used the word repeatedly, including in acting outraged that the interviewer would ask if Trump read any of his remarks despite Trump visibly opening a folder as he arrived at the podium and frequently looked down and appeared to read. But who are you going to believe—your lying eyes or a Breitbarter-turned-Trump-aide? Asking why Trump keeps revisiting his popular-vote-losing Electoral College win basically every time he speaks in public, including Thursday’s claim to having had the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan? “I think you’re getting a little bit obsessive yourself.” Asking why Trump claimed, late last week, to know nothing about Michael Flynn having discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador when it turns out he had known for weeks? That’s “obsessing on issues that aren’t the point.” The interview quickly fell into a pattern: Factual question from BBC interviewer. Condescending chuckle and accusation of “fake news” from Gorka, followed by flat denial that the facts are facts and further accusation of “fake news.” A question about what Trump meant in one of his attacks on the media, for instance, got the response “This is fake news. You have just committed fake news.” It was a question. At the end, Gorka laid out the strategy he was following in his own interview, one that can be clearly seen in Trump’s press conference: We are going to continue to do what we did so very very successfully, and the thing that put the former real estate billionaire into the White House, which is to break your sense of monopoly on the news. The mainstream media no longer gets to monopolize news and we are going to go straight to the audiences, whether it’s through Twitter, whether it’s through YouTube, it doesn’t matter. We are not going to put up with distortions and people who believe they have a monopoly on the truth simply because they have 60 years of a letterhead above them. Not going to happen. We are going to communicate with our audiences, domestic and international. Not that there’s anything wrong with going around the media! But Trump and Bannon and Gorka are going around the media to spread lies. When they talk about “distortions,” they’re talking about things like “Donald Trump lost the popular vote fair and square and his Electoral College win wasn’t all that impressive.” Or “Michael Flynn was carrying out illicit conversations with a Russian official and Donald Trump denied knowing about it when his White House had been informed.” Or “Donald Trump says he ‘inherited a mess’ when in fact he inherited low unemployment.” [...]

Cartoon: Tall tales of terror

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 22:50:41 +0000

Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer are inventing Islamic terror attacks in order to justify the Administration’s terrible executive orders.

If and when a real attack happens, they’re going to seize the opportunity to do even worse things than George W. Bush and Cheney did.

Unless it’s right-wing extremists, then they’ll get ignored like the Quebec Mosque shooting, or the Texas Mosque arson.

Follow me on Twitter.


McCain's Munich speech pits Trump against the rest of the U.S. government

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 21:13:29 +0000

Republican Sen. John McCain delivered a pretty stunning speech Friday at an international security conference in Germany in which the senator made clear that he views Donald Trump's presidency as a threat to the West's well-being and world order as a whole. Aaron Blake writes: McCain suggested the Western world is uniquely imperiled this year — even more so than when Barack Obama was president — and proceeded to question whether the Western world will survive. “In recent years, this question would invite accusations of hyperbole and alarmism. Not this year,” McCain said. “If ever there were a time to treat this question with a deadly seriousness, it is now.” McCain reportedly never attached his critique of the changing world order directly to Trump, but his prose were laced with references to the blurring of fact and fiction and a "hardening resentment" toward immigrants, refugees, and "especially Muslims." But perhaps most notably, McCain painted a picture of a U.S. government at odds, and perhaps even at war, with its leader. I know there is profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership. I can only speak for myself, but I do not believe that is the message you will hear from all of the American leaders who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend. That is not the message you heard today from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. That is not the message you will hear from Vice President Mike Pence. That is not the message you will hear from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. And that is certainly not the message you will hear tomorrow from our bipartisan congressional delegation. Holistically speaking, that’s major agency heads, lawmakers, and the vice president—in other words, the rest of the government v. Trump. Indeed Sec. Mattis dedicated his speech to reassuring attendees of the U.S.'s continued commitment to NATO. As for McCain, it sounded like a "game on" moment. Who knows if he can deliver. You can watch below. [...]

Donald Trump, please phone Congress on Obamacare repeal and replace

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 18:52:46 +0000

Campaign Action

Popular vote loser Donald Trump, despite apparently spending the majority of his day watching cable news shows, is completely oblivious to the fact that the Republican Congress is in chaos over Obamacare repeal and replace.

President Donald Trump asserted Friday that Republican plans to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law are “moving fast,” a counter to reports of division among Capitol Hill Republicans on the process. […]

“Despite the long delays by the Democrats in finally approving Dr. Tom Price, the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare is moving fast!” Trump said.

Republicans in Congress, who have long dreamed of dismantling Obamacare — Obama’s signature legislative achievement, formally known as the Affordable Care Act — but they remain divided on what they should put in its place if they repeal it. They are also facing resistance from constituents that has materialized in hostile town hall meetings back home.

They're also flying blind on what the White House may or may not want here. They were completely blindsided weeks ago when Trump insisted that their plan would simultaneously repeal and replace the law. Up until then, they were operating on a "repeal and delay" approach, meaning they'd go through the motions of repealing, but actually delay the ending of programs until they had a replacement plan in place. Or forever. Whichever comes first.