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Published: Wed, 18 Jan 2017 16:20:33 +0000

Last Build Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2017 16:20:33 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



Republicans are rushing to dismantle Obama's legacy and the rules that protect you

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 17:39:35 +0000

Coming soon: Tobacco, unhealthy school lunches, added pollutants, and so much more! The Republican Congress is moving fast to undo as much of President Obama’s legacy as possible, and it’s not just Obamacare, not just the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You will have a chance to gain a whole new appreciation of how much Obama accomplished … as you watch Republicans dismantle it:

The Koch-affiliated Freedom Partners recently issued a “Roadmap to Repeal” laying out dozens of Obama-era executive actions and agency regulations it says constitutes a “unprecedented onslaught of regulatory costs on the U.S. economy.” The group has assembled a list of dozens of Obama initiatives it wants to see reversed — some can be ended with a stroke of Trump’s pen, others are still in the rulemaking process and can be withdrawn, while still others can be targeted through Congress or the courts. [...]

The House will soon move to undo several recent regulations using the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which includes fast-track procedures to skirt Senate filibusters. Targets could include the stream-protection and overtime measures, as well as regulations on aircraft greenhouse-gas emissions, appliance efficiency standards, and nondiscrimination compliance rules for federal contractors. If those efforts are successful, future presidents could be prevented from re-regulating in those areas.

Don’t miss that last part, about how “future presidents could be prevented from re-regulating in those areas.” That’s why Democrats don’t just need to be thinking about the White House in 2020. We need to be thinking about the governor’s mansions and statehouses in 2018 and redistricting in 2020, so that we can put together majorities to begin undoing all of the damage that Republicans are rushing to do right this minute. 

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Trump demands credit for 'new' jobs that are old news, rage-tweets when he doesn't get it

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 15:13:35 +0000

Companies are learning the Trump lesson: Give the man something to brag about, even if it’s not true. And if you give him news he doesn’t like, prepare to be publicly trashed, 140 characters at a time. NBC showed both sides of this simultaneously, drawing a classic angry-Donald response with a report on how companies are pretending that Trump deserves credit for good news planned before the election. 

A spate of companies have recently announced that they’ll be adding jobs or deciding against cutting jobs, with those announcements giving implied or explicit credit to Trump. That way, they get on his good side. But, NBC showed, if you look past the headlines—and Trump’s self-congratulatory tweets—it turns out there’s nothing new here:

GM said its plan was approved before the election, but told Bloomberg it was "accelerated" under pressure from Trump, for example.

Wal-Mart's job creation plans are in line with its normal annual increase, and come after it has closed 269 under-performing stores and cut thousands of jobs.

The combined Bayer-Monsanto U.S. R&D spending pledge is roughly what the two companies are already spending, CNBC reported.

And Sprint's jobs were part of a previously announced commitment by its parent company to create 50,000 jobs in the U.S.

Well, Donald Trump was not just going to sit around listening to that! How dare NBC point out that his precious jobs claims were based on nothing much? Obviously, he could not open his Twitter app fast enough, calling NBC “totally biased” and the story “fake news.” “Came back because of me!” he insisted. (You can just imagine his bottom lip sticking out and his jowls quivering as his little fingers scrabbled across the keyboard putting this important message out.)

Are companies playing Trump, or is Trump playing the public? Either way, the blueprint is clear. Trump will claim credit for a steady stream of jobs that would have been created with or without him, or that are nothing more than normal, incremental growth. And as, over time, the media learns to treat his claims skeptically, Trump will use Twitter (and Breitbart, and Fox) to attack the media for the fake, biased act of looking past what Donald Trump says and reporting the facts. And America’s workers will be left to sort out the difference between what they’re seeing reported and their own economic realities.

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Coming soon to a country near you—a more visible military

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:11:31 +0000

Don’t worry. Russian APCs will not be rolling down Main Street, no matter how many Red Dawn fantasies that would fulfill. The image is for Simulation Purposes Only. Don’t start shouting “Wolverines!”

But Donald Trump is promising to give everyone a close, personal look at the military.

“We’re going to show the people as we build up our military, we’re going to display our military. 

“That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military,” he added.

Marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. Flying over the capitol … For parades!  Just harmless parades. You know, like they do in all the best countries.

Can he teach them the classy marching? It’s not a proper military parade without classy marching.

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Cartoon: Trump's health care plan

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:50:26 +0000

Follow me on Twitter at @MattBors and pick up an Illustrated Calendar of Obscure Holidays for 2017.

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Morning Digest: South Florida rejected Trump, but downballot Republicans hung on

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:00:24 +0000

Leading off

Pres-by-CD: It's cold outside, so our ongoing project to calculate the 2016 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide is heading to Florida where it's warmer. You can find our complete data set here, which we're updating continuously as the precinct-level election returns we need for our calculations become available.

Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 49-48, just a small shift to the right from Mitt Romney's 50-49 loss to Barack Obama in 2012, but one that made all the difference in deciding Florida's 29 electoral votes. Note that is the first cycle where Florida used its new court-drawn congressional map after the state's previous Republican-drawn map was struck down for violating the state's voter-approved law against political gerrymandering. (Note also that our 2012 numbers for Florida, adjusted retroactively for redistricting, come from the state, so any comparisons between 2012 and 2016 aren't quite apples-to-apples.) Clinton carried the same 13 congressional districts that Obama won while Trump took the same 14 Romney seats, but there were some big swings in both directions.

We'll start with a look at the two Republicans who hold Clinton/Obama seats. Florida's 26th District, which is located around Miami and includes Key West, shifted from 55-44 Obama to 57-41 Clinton. However, that didn't stop Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo from decisively winning a second term by a 53-41 margin in his rematch with ex-Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia. During the 2014 GOP wave, Curbelo unseated Garcia 51.5-48.5 in the old, more conservative version of the 26th.

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Betsy DeVos outpaces Ben Carson as Trump's least prepared nominee

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 14:00:22 +0000

If you followed the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s education secretary pick, you are no longer in any doubt why Republicans tried to bury the hearing in the evening and keep it short. Here’s a hearing in which the nominee—who has no experience working or being a student or parent in a public school system—suggested that guns are appropriate in schools because of bears (in response to which a teacher at the school she cited as being threatened by bears said bear spray is enough, no guns needed). Bears, seriously. But no, that wasn’t all.

DeVos, grinning for the cameras, refused to say she would preserve funding for public schools or that she would not work to privatize public education. Because that’s exactly what she plans to do, and she may be a Trump nominee but she’s not quite dishonest enough to openly deny it.

Should states be required to follow the federal law protecting kids with disabilities? Nope. That should be an issue for the states, and if they want to mistreat kids with disabilities, well, so be it. Er, well, actually, turns out, DeVos didn’t even know what the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is, and that federal law does protect students with disabilities. Sen. Maggie Hassan drew a blazingly clear connection between DeVos’ beloved privatization programs and the IDEA:

We do know that children with disabilities in at least some of the voucher programs that you have supported have gone with a voucher to a school, because of their disability had to leave the school. The school keeps the money, and they go back to public schools that now have even less resources to deal with them. And many of us see this as the potential for turning our public schools into warehouses for the most challenging kids with disabilities or other kinds of particular issues. Or the kids whose parents can’t afford to make up the difference between the voucher and the cost of private school tuition.

That is the DeVos plan in a nutshell, though DeVos had been too well coached for this hearing to say it directly. Too bad her coaching didn’t extend to little things like knowing what the law is and that teachers—even in Wyoming—are not generally out using guns to protect their students from bears.

Did Betsy DeVos manage to look even less qualified than Ben Carson? Quite likely yes, and that is a downright terrifying sentence to type.

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Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:30:22 +0000

Welcome to Wednesday! I had something funny to say, but I forgot it once I heard that we might need guns in schools in case of grizzly bear attacks. So now, I don’t know what the hell we’re going to do. How do you follow that? Listen LIVE right here at 9:00 AM ET! It’s also time for a new message in this section, befitting the new year. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve resolved that 2017 should be the year we make the Kagro in the Morning show a sustainable enterprise by finding sufficient subscription support from our audience through our Patreon account. It should be, but I’m not making it a New Year’s resolution, because that practically guarantees failure. So instead, let’s just all agree that the KITM show is a fun way to stay sane during the upcoming Trump years (or whatever unit ends up being best suited to measuring his time in office), and that supporting the show is a great way to make sure we’re there for one another as needed. As a gesture of good will, please enjoy our latest episode ABSOLUTELY FREE! x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon David Waldman is honoring his New Years resolution today by supporting media he can trust to keep him informed… Yep, I’m looking at you. Remember, each dollar you donate to KITM is another dollar we can use to buy a lottery ticket and make some real money. President Trump will Make America Great Again mere moments after taking the oath, by going away, at least until Monday morning. Well, that’s the date he pulled out for The Times of London. However, each word Trump says does not seem to be informed by the previous word, making it tough on reporters attempting to portray him as “not an idiot”. It is also hard to portray Donald as “not a crook” or “not a perv” when no one proves or disproves that dossier, although you know people are working on that, too. Donald Trump is putting people back to work, diagraming sentences, tracing leads, and reading The Constitution. Armando helps us with those Emolument clauses. Take your time to absorb his article as the Trump learning curve will remain steep. For instance, Donald Trump's company says it will donate profits from any foreign governments that use his hotels. You know that is BS, David explains why. Trump has always played around in various scams and urine, as well as fake news, so the corporate media should have been prepared, although they still had a hard time cornering even the Texas Agriculture Commissioner. The population of protesters, tourists, and journalists are up at Trump Tower, but not enough are buying jewelry. Gun-friendly statehouses see “occasional” reckless conduct. (But so do gun-friendly steakhouses.) The Missouri Capitol institutes the “leave a gun, take a gun” rule. (Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold. [...]



Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:16:05 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Bigly Blast from the Past

Trackdown was a TV series that ran from 1957-59, and took place in the fictional Texas town of Porter following the Civil War. The great Robert Culp plays Ranger and de facto Sheriff Hoby Gilman. I'd never heard of it before until Kossack Thinking Fella sent me a link to this clip from a 1958 episode (“The End of the World”) in which a con artist named---wait for it---Trump rides into town and tries to---wait for it---bamboozle the citizens into buying into a---wait for it---big beautiful wall to protect them from---wait for it---non-existent threats. This is really something:

You can watch the full episode here. Nothing much to add except: freaky.

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

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Do Republicans really know what they are doing?

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 12:30:21 +0000

WSJ

The new poll marks the first time since June 2009 that the share of respondents saying the law is a good idea has outweighed the share who said it was a “bad idea.” The “bad idea” number peaked at 50% in December 2013, when the main provisions of the law had just been launched and problems plaguing the HealthCare.gov website dominated the debate.

The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted from Jan. 12 to Jan. 15 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Some 50% of respondents said they had “very little confidence” or “no confidence at all” that Republicans could propose a new law that would make things better. That was greater than the 26% of people who said they had “quite a bit” or “a great deal of confidence” in that idea, and the 23% who said they had “just some” confidence.

 NY Times:

Health Law’s Repeal Could Raise Costs and Number of Uninsured, New Report Says

Repealing major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, while leaving other parts in place, would cost 18 million people their insurance in the first year, a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday. A repeal could increase the number of uninsured Americans by 32 million in 10 years, the report said, while causing individual insurance premiums to double over that time.

The budget office analyzed the probable effects of a Republican bill repealing the law like the one approved in Congress, but vetoed early last year by President Obama.

The C.B.O. report, released after a weekend of protests against repeal, will only add to the headaches that President-elect Donald J. Trump and congressional Republicans face in their rush to gut President Obama’s signature domestic achievement as they try to replace it with a health insurance law more to their liking.

They have no idea what they are doing. Only way to read it. Don’t need to go too much deeper.

I am glad we had this ongoing political science experiment done to answer the question how the US functions for four years without a competent president. Might want a word with the experimental designer, though.

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Protecting workers? That's not a job for Donald Trump's labor secretary

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:39:52 +0000

In “headlines that make me go ‘hmmm:’” Workers Say Andrew Puzder Is ‘Not the One to Protect’ Them, But He’s Been Chosen To.

This New York Times piece by Jodi Kantor and Jennifer Medina deserves some credit for actually including workers’ voices. Sample:

Guadalupe Urrustieta, 47, said that when he was a manager at two Carl’s Jr. locations north of Los Angeles, he was routinely asked by supervisors to make his employees work through unpaid meal breaks without compensation, so that labor costs would not go up. He said he also had to work several hours a week without pay.

“I left the company because I didn’t agree with a lot of the things that were happening,” Mr. Urrustieta said. To him, Mr. Puzder is an improbable labor secretary, “not the one to protect workers.”

But that headline is a harsh reminder of what’s going on with Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. In theory, the labor secretary is in charge of a department with the mission of promoting workers’ welfare, improving working conditions, and “assur[ing] work-related benefits and rights.” In reality, Trump has chosen someone with a record of doing the opposite—and he’s chosen Puzder to keep doing the opposite. His labor secretary has been chosen to hurt workers, and if that’s not an uncommon Republican move, Trump’s being especially blatant about it. Just as his EPA pick is about doing the opposite of protecting the environment, his education secretary pick is committed to dismantling public education, and his energy secretary nominee wanted to abolish the Department of Energy.

So, no, New York Times headline writer, Andy Puzder has not been chosen to protect workers. Even if that’s the actual description of the job he’s been chosen for.

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The Kochs bought their unified Republican government, and now they want their reward

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 03:00:24 +0000

Popular vote loser Donald Trump might not have been the Kochs' first (or second, or 17th) choice of presidents, but they've got him and a House and Senate that they bought and paid for. Now they expect their return.

“We’ve had promises, especially on controlling spending, from Republicans, and it’s time for them to really keep their word,” AFP President Tim Phillips said in an interview Friday. “Before, they had a reasonable point when they would say, ‘Well, we don’t control the White House.’ There was a time when they only had the House and not the Senate. They have all three now, and so the ability to genuinely get these actions, take these actions, get this agenda done — now they have that opportunity.”

The new AFP agenda is being rolled out after a long campaign where the Koch network focused its energy on state and congressional races — not on the presidential race, in what was widely interpreted as a rejection of Donald Trump. […]

There are plenty of signs that any tensions between Trump and the Kochs are in the rear-view mirror. Marc Short, a former top Koch network official, will be serving in an influential post in the White House as director of legislative affairs. And the Washington Post reported last month that many Trump transition advisers on veterans affairs had ties to Concerned Veterans for America — a Koch group that was recently brought under AFP’s umbrella.

What that means is killing Obamacare, privatizing whatever government-provided healthcare programs—like the VA's—they can get their hands on and doing away with all the regulations. Particularly the ones that give us clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. You know, the ones that prevent the Kochs from totally maximizing their profits. The people who matter, after all, can afford to buy their own oxygen and bottled water. Oh, yeah, tax cuts, too: "real tax reform that lowers rates, eliminates loopholes, simplifies the code for everyone, and protects consumers from new tax increases."

That's what they expect for the $250 million they spent in 2016.

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Mississippi governor defends anti-LGBTQ law arguing Christians are the real victims

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 21:06:45 +0000

HB1523 was the most sweeping law passed in 2016 that targeted LGBTQ Americans for discrimination. It gave special rights for Christians in Mississippi to circumscribe the constitutional rights and freedoms of gay and transgender individuals in access to housing, employment, public accommodations, health care, adoptions, and marriage. That's why a federal district judge promptly ruled it unconstitutional last summer, blocking it from taking effect.

But now Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is hitting back with a brief co-authored by the ignominious legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. Among other outlandish arguments included in the brief, Bryant's lawyers allege that all-powerful “homosexuals” aren’t the ones being bullied:

The far more plausible candidate for “political powerlessness” would be the devout Christian mom-and-pop-shop owners who are being bullied by ideologues in the political and business worlds. See id. (“[T]he relentless pressure of state civil rights commissions makes these small religious businesses a “discrete and insular” minority . . . . It is this loss of tolerance, this self-righteous indignation, this vilification of a vulnerable religious minority that makes this recent chorus of incivility so disgraceful.”)

Yes, Christians, that vulnerable religious minority being victimized by those expressing "self-righteous indignation." Ha! Mark Joseph Stern cites several other fanciful arguments in what he calls the "wildly unhinged brief."

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Kellyanne Conway sounds more like Paul Ryan on Obamacare replacement than she does her boss

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:40:22 +0000

Popular vote loser Donald Trump promised this weekend that his healthcare plan would cover everybody and "they’ll be beautifully covered." Washington Post reporter Robert Costa dutifully copied that down, apparently without any follow up like "for real?" so as far as we know, that's what's in Trump's head. 

But it appears to be only in Trump's head. If you ask his mouthpiece what his plan is going to be, it's much different. On MSNBC Monday might, Greta Van Susteren did just that, and Kellyanne Conway sounded like she was channeling House Speaker Paul Ryan. After Van Susteren gently points out that Republicans haven't come up with a damn thing for several years, she says Trump promises he'll have something next week, then asks Conway to “give some hints” as to what might be coming (you can watch the video below the fold).

Well,  the President-elect, Vice President-elect, Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell, certainly Congressman Price who will be our next HHS secretary after he's confirmed—we can really get rocking and rolling on this. A couple of hints. You can buy health insurance across state lines. The millions of Americans who still have no access to healthcare will be helped. As Donald Trump said, healthcare for all.

What he means by that is there are many who have been left behind, there are people that had benefits and don't have them anymore. Either they had to give them up because premiums skyrocketed or they were faced with reduced quality in choice or access and then you've got folks who do rely upon the Affordable Care Act and Donald Trump has promised as president that they will not go without care. The other thing is Health Savings Accounts, you get a personal account so you control more of the health care spending and we all become more conscientious about that. 

Block-granting Medicaid to the states so that those who administer to those with need in their state do it closer to home. There are nine plans. Republicans did not come up with nothing. They came up with nine different plans over the several years they are trying to reconcile those. 

Is it possible Ryan is paying her to say that? Anyway, Conway is paying lip service to her boss's statements there, because the meat of it is this: sell insurance across state lines, Health Savings Accounts, and block-granting Medicaid.

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Trump education nominee wonders if guns needed in schools in case of grizzly bears

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 01:47:42 +0000

School has really changed. At the Tuesday night—and now we know why this one wasn’t in prime time—senate hearing for popular vote loser Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, there was a remarkable exchange. It turns out that DeVos isn’t sure that guns don’t have a place in school because—not making this up—grizzly bears. Watch it:

x

And if that wasn’t enough, DeVos isn’t too keen on schools being required to provide access to disabled students … 

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Endangered Species Act is now an endangered species as Republicans plan its extinction

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 20:12:24 +0000

The Endangered Species Act is one of the great success stories for both the environment and the government. Since it was enacted in 1973, the government has been charged with protecting not just species that were on the brink of extinction, but habitat critical for both endangered and threatened species.

When the Act was passed, there were as few as 400 pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. Now there are more than 7,000. The gray wolf was down to perhaps 200. Now that’s 3,500. But those examples are just some of the more visible victories in an admirable list.

  • The Endangered Species Act has been nearly 100 percent successful in saving species from extinction. 
  • According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 99 percent of the species ever listed under the Endangered Species Act remain on the planet today. 
  • A study published in the Annual Review of Ecological Systematics identified 172 species that may have become extinct during the period from 1973 to 1998 if Endangered Species Act protections had not been implemented.

That’s an impressive record. But keeping animals and plants from becoming extinct is not always the top priority—for some, anyway.

In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government's most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging and other activities. ...

"Any species that gets in the way of a congressional initiative or some kind of development will be clearly at risk," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and a former Fish and Wildlife Service director under President Bill Clinton. "The political lineup is as unfavorable to the Endangered Species Act as I can remember."

Republicans spread the idea that the ESA disregards jobs and rips away private land. Neither myth has ever been true. But just like the animals and plants it protects, the ESA is a symbol. In this case, it’s a symbol of both government success and environmental concern.

And for that, it has to die.

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Donald Trump's billionaire nominees really don't want us to see their ethics disclosures

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:51:23 +0000

Campaign Action

Donald Trump’s nominees are still not racing to get their ethics plans checked out. As of Monday, CNN reported that:

Of the current list of 21 nominees, 14 must still sit for Senate hearings, and only five of those 14 have finalized their required paperwork.

That means these billionaires are dragging their feet on how they’ll resolve their financial conflicts of interest and guarantee to Americans that they won’t be looking to profit from their public roles. (Sound familiar?) 

... the paperwork for two of President-elect Donald Trump's billionaire nominees with hearings scheduled for this week -- namely, Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos (up Tuesday) and Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross (up Wednesday) -- were notably missing from the ethics office's website as of Monday afternoon. [...]

A Senate source indicated that [education nominee Betsy] DeVos' initial hearing date had to be rescheduled because her paperwork "was nowhere near ready," and [commerce nominee Wilbur] Ross had been sluggish in completing his financial disclosure report.

Remember when Republicans were claiming DeVos’ hearing had been rescheduled simply because the Senate’s calendar was so crowded? Ha.

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Republican ads bullying other Republicans to support non-existent healthcare plan go bilingual

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 20:18:44 +0000

Republican leadership doesn't have a plan to replace Obamacare, but they have loads of money to spend bullying rank-and-file Republicans to toe the line on repealing the law. In Spanish, too.

The American Action Network, founded by veteran GOP fundraisers to support Ryan (R-Wis.), will begin airing the new ad Tuesday. The Spanish-language campaign is in addition to a $1.4 million ad campaign launched by the group last week.

Over the next two weeks, the ad is set to air during newscasts, soap operas and weekend sports programming on Univision and Telemundo affiliates in districts represented by Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) (the Sacramento TV market), David Valadao (R-Calif.) (the Fresno market), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) (Denver), Will Hurd (R-Tex.) (San Antonio) and Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) (the Washington, D.C., market). Digital versions of the ad will air across the Miami-area district of Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), which is one of the most expensive Spanish-language media markets in the country. […]

The new AAN ad tells viewers that the new Republican plan would provide “more choices and better care” at lower prices. But the 30-second spot includes no specifics — just broad generalities and an invitation to visit a website where viewers can sign up for email updates.

Some of these Republicans whose districts who have large Latino populations might just be tempted to stray from leadership, so it makes sense that Ryan's allies are extending the ads there. A side benefit might be convincing some voters that they actually do know what they're doing and that this mythical plan will indeed materialize—and maybe even work. 

They've got a lot of convincing to do. Because according to the latest polling from NBC and The Wall Street Journal, Obamacare is more popular than ever before, and "50 percent say they have either 'very little' or no confidence with the GOP" to replace the law.

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Texas and Wisconsin offer an exciting preview of a post-Planned Parenthood, STD-filled America

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:13:22 +0000

Want a look at the near future of a United States in which Republicans have defunded Planned Parenthood? Texas and Wisconsin have already done just that, barring Planned Parenthood from accepting Medicaid patients. The end result is not that women are getting their health care from 100 percent abortion-free providers, it’s that women are not getting the health care they need

In Texas, Mike Austin, the head of a community health organization that provides similar services to a Planned Parenthood that shut down, says “I hate to say it, but I think an awful lot of women just opted to go without care.” And he should know. Before it closed, the local Planned Parenthood sent Austin’s organization its patient records, to help people make the transition easily. 

But to Austin’s dismay, only about 100 former Planned Parenthood patients ever showed up at his door.

“We are seeing a subsequent rise in STDs and a subsequent rise in unplanned pregnancies,” Austin said. He believes they could be linked. “And I’m sitting here going, ‘See? I told you so. This is what happens.’”

It’s not just Texas:

Shawano County, Wisconsin, which is experiencing a flare-up in gonorrhea and which the state government recently designated a hot-spot for new chlamydia infections, is still feeling the pressure. After the Planned Parenthood there closed, former patients faced significant waiting lists to see a doctor at local community health clinics. The health department didn’t know where to send women for certain services.

“The clinic that closed in Shawano served the whole county,” said Jaime Bodden, the Shawano County health director. Not just women on Medicaid, she said, but women with stingy insurance and women with no insurance at all. Now, the county health department is virtually on its own as it combats the region’s rising STI rates.

“It’s something that we still often talk about,” she said. “We say, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have Planned Parenthood in town?’”

If and when Paul Ryan and the rest of them get their way, there are going to be a whole lot more places where health professionals (and, heaven knows, patients) look around at STD rates and unplanned pregnancy rates and say “Wouldn’t it be nice to have Planned Parenthood in town?”

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Democrats push to hear testimony of foreclosure victims whom Trump's Treasury pick cashed in on

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 19:02:53 +0000

Campaign Action

Popular vote loser Donald Trump wants to put billionaire Steven Mnuchin in charge of the country's financial policies as Treasury secretary. One of Mnuchin's chief qualifications is that he knows a little something about fleecing vulnerable Americans—all indications are that the bank he ran from 2009 to 2015 routinely broke California's foreclosure laws to make a buck. Now a group of 25 Democratic senators has penned a letter urging the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, GOP Sen. Orin Hatch, to let victims of OneWest’s foreclosures testify at Mnuchin's confirmation hearing Thursday. 

“If confirmed to serve as Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for administering loan modification and foreclosure prevention programs established following the 2008 crisis.  And as the Chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for helping spot and stop the next financial crisis – rather than profiting from it,” the lawmakers wrote.

“His bank’s treatment of families seeking to avoid foreclosure is critical to assessing his fitness to serve as the nation’s top economic policy official,” the senators said.

Mnuchin’s bank, OneWest, put thousands of families into foreclosure and seized their homes during his six-year reign as chairman following the 2008 financial collapse leading to Mnuchin and his investment team pocketing nearly $1.5 billion in profits.

Sure seems like the guy who will be setting the nation's financial policy should be questioned on his personal experience with exploiting those policies for his personal gain.

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Cartoon: W.E.B. DuBois

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 22:50:19 +0000

www.patreon.com/keefknight

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One of Trump's least qualified nominees is up for a hearing, and Republicans seem to want to bury it

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:58:27 +0000

Campaign Action

Hmmm. Are congressional Republicans trying to bury this one? The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s education nominee, is now being held at 5 PM ET after having first been pushed back by a week. Not only that, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions has another hearing scheduled for 10 AM ET Wednesday.

An abbreviated hearing would reflect DeVos’s knowledge of her subject matter—she has never taught in, attended, or sent her kids to a public school—but then again, ignorance might be a reason to ask her some questions to establish just how little she understands about education. If she’s honest, she’ll admit that she knows all she wants to: how to use personal wealth to undermine education for millions of kids.

DeVos has used her money to shape the Michigan education system, pushing privatization and undermining local public schools. The result: increased segregation and declining school quality. In Detroit, teachers had to fight to draw attention to rodents, moldy food, and crumbling buildings. DeVos has accumulated a frighteningly anti-LGBT record in her personal giving. The DeVos-influenced years in Michigan education have been a disaster.

Betsy DeVos needs to face serious questioning in her quest to make America Michigan. Democrats cannot let the fact that the hearing is buried in the evening hours stop them from asking those questions—and asking again and again when she dodges.

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More scandal for Trump's HHS pick Tom Price, who's perfected legislating for personal profit

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 20:53:03 +0000

Boy howdy, does Republican Georgia Rep. Tom Price have some things to talk about during his upcoming confirmation hearings to be popular vote loser Donald Trump's secretary of Health and Human Services. Seriously, the man is a walking looming SEC investigation. Donald Trump’s nominee to be the country’s next health care czar invested last year as much as $90,000 in six pharmaceutical companies shortly before leading a legislative and public relations effort that benefited those specific companies, records show. Within weeks of making investments worth between $1,000 and $15,000 in Eli Lilly, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Amgen, McKesson, Biogen and Pfizer according to Congressional disclosure forms, Rep. Tom Price co-sponsored legislation and took part in a public effort that ultimately killed proposed regulatory changes that would have likely hurt those companies’ bottom lines. That's on top of the other stinky investments he's made, though Monday's revelation that he invested in a company, wrote legislation focused on helping that very company, then got a big campaign donation from that company in a matter of weeks was pretty blatant.  These ethics questions have been dogging Price since Trump nominated him because, again, he's an SEC investigation just waiting to happen. According to Time, which has reviewed his congressional financial disclosures, "Price held between at least $60,000 and $250,000 in stocks in health care-related companies as of the end of 2016." He buys the stock, he uses his position in Congress to benefit the companies he bought the stock in, and blithely goes on to do it again. His Democratic colleague in the House, Rep. Jackie Speier from California, has it right. xTrump brags he's chosen "the best" for his cabinet. In the case of #HHS Sec it looks like he's picked the best at insider trading.— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) January 17, 2017 Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017 · 10:11:38 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter xDem Sens. Warren, Franken, and Baldwin are calling for a delay in Trump HHS pick Tom Price's hearing until ethics concerns are investigated: pic.twitter.com/6HgLBqlCR8— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 17, 2017   [...]



President Obama commutes bulk of Chelsea Manning's sentence, along with sentences of 273 others

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 21:38:31 +0000

President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who leaked American military and diplomatic activities in 2010. The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to commit suicide last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the male military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction. Now, under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed in five months, on May 17 of this year, rather than in 2045. In addition to Manning's commutation, Obama gave another 273 individuals a shot at new lives today. Today, 273 individuals learned that the President has given them a second chance. With today’s 209 grants of commutation, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,385 individuals—the most grants of commutation issued by any President in this nation’s history. President Obama’s 1,385 commutation grants—which includes 504 life sentences – is also more than the total number of commutations issued by the past 12 presidents combined. And with today’s 64 pardons, the President has now granted a total of 212 pardons. Today, 209 commutation recipients – including 109 individuals who had believed they would live out their remaining days in prison – learned that they will be rejoining their families and loved ones, and 64 pardon recipients learned that their past convictions have been forgiven. These 273 individuals learned that our nation is a forgiving nation, where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward. Today, 273 individuals—like President Obama’s 1,324 clemency recipients before them—learned that our President has found them deserving of a second chance. He also likely saved at least one life: Chelsea Manning’s. Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017 · 9:46:00 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter Additionally: x#Breaking | Oscar Lopez Rivera, Puerto Rican freedom fighter to be freed after spending 36 years in the U.S. prison. https://t.co/60OnRQNLHp pic.twitter.com/Oc12cRalNN— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) January 17, 2017   [...]



China kills over 100 coal projects as it moves toward clean energy

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 20:34:54 +0000

While Donald Trump spreads the myth that the decline of coal is due to a “war” launched by the Obama administration, the rest of the world continues to react to both increased concern over air quality and global warming, as well as the increasing availability of clean alternatives.

China's energy regulator has ordered 11 provinces to stop more than 100 coal-fired power projects, with a combined installed capacity of more than 100 gigawatts, its latest dramatic step to curb the use of fossil fuels in the world's top energy market.

Where will China get an additional 100 gigawatts (that’s 82 time-traveling Deloreans) worth of new production?

Putting the power projects on hold is a major step towards the government's effort to produce power from renewable sources such as solar and wind, and wean the country off coal, which accounts for the majority of the nation's power supply.

China cancelled a similar number of coal projects last year, and already has 130 gigawatts of solar and wind projects in the works in the next three years alone. That’s more wind and solar than the U.S. currently has in total.

Sharply declining prices mean that solar is poised to become the cheapest means of power generation.

Solar power is now cheaper than coal in some parts of the world. In less than a decade, it’s likely to be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere.

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Trump and Pence have a day one problem—which day is day one?

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:25:06 +0000

In the Trump administration, Mike Pence is definitely the Stan Laurel. He plays the clueless straight man to Trump’s blowhard Ollie. Except, of course, that Pence’s version of Stan is a virulently right-wing dunderhead dedicated to erasing rights of women and the LGBT community along with generally making life miserable for everyone else. Still, sometimes Pence just doesn’t coordinate his lines.

The Jan. 20 parade from the Capitol to the White House would be sped up, Pence said, so a newly inaugurated President Donald J. Trump could sit down sooner in the Oval Office and start rescinding his predecessor’s executive actions. The lawmakers cheered, two people in the room said.

Yes, they definitely have to race ahead to Make Day One Great Again, and it has nothing to do with limits on how many times they can march the same military bands who can’t get out of this past the podium. After all, Trump has promised a huge list of actions for day one.

Only more time after the parade just doesn't fit with Trump's schedule.

He told the Times of London: “One of the first orders I’m gonna sign — day one — which I will consider to be Monday as opposed to Friday or Saturday. Right? I mean my day one is gonna be Monday because I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration, but one of the first orders we’re gonna be signing is gonna be strong borders.”

So Pence can relax, drink an extra glass of water (the official state beverage of Indiana. Seriously.) and do some binge watching for the weekend. I hear The Man in the High Castle is good.

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Midday open thread: Happy Birthday, Betty, resistance and genderless nipples

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 20:20:22 +0000

Today’s comic by Jen Sorensen is A new beginning: DeRay McKesson is promoting a resistance manual: Action begins with information. There are more of us who believe in equity and justice than those who support Donald Trump's ideology of fear and hate. Together, we can harness the collective power of the people to resist the impact of a Trump presidency and to continue to make progress in our communities. Get educated. Get organized. Take action.  What the hell, New Hampshire? Fierce debate is expected over a bill that would require sexual assault victims to corroborate their testimony if the defendant has no prior related convictions. Lawmakers will hold a hearing Tuesday on the bill. Existing law doesn’t require a victim to corroborate their testimony. Another bill before the committee would change the word ‘‘victim’’ to ‘‘complainant’’ in the sexual assault statute. Oh, for the love of Pete: Wisconsin’s cash-strapped state parks are considering selling naming rights or sponsorships at some facilities, raising concern that pristine natural landscapes may be dotted with corporate logos. So, genderless nipples are probably two words you didn’t expect to read today … together anyway: Only men are allowed to show their nipples on Instagram. Poor Instagram, now they will have to use human or software-based nipple inspectors to determine the gender of the bodies attached to the nipples posted to genderless_nipples. Betty White turns 95 today. Do not panic if you see her name trending on twitter. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Trump’s new Day 1 plan: skip 3 AM phone call in favor of a 3-day weekend. Why is that unsubstantiated dossier still hanging around? Trump’s conflicts “plan” is a crock. Gun dummies in TX shoot each other while hunting & try to make Mexico pay. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon [...]



Moron upset that Trump is doing what he promised to do, not what she wishes he'd do

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:44:09 +0000

Oy vey …

I voted for Trump, not against Planned Parenthood

When you vote for someone, it’s a package deal. You don’t get to pick and choose.

My vote for Trump was not a vote against Planned Parenthood. I voted for him based on the issues he campaigned on: creating jobs, making health care more affordable, and making our country great again. I voted for him because I trust him to get our economy moving again. 

Trump campaigned on hating Latinos, hating Muslims, and hating women—aka “making America great again.” He also campaigned on “draining the swamp,” which he promptly did by stocking his cabinet with Wall Street billionaires. He campaigned on making Russia great again. BUT, making health care more affordable? Creating jobs? That was empty boilerplate, absent any details on how he’d do it. If you voted for that, then you are a fucking moron. Don’t sit there and pretend that you’re somehow being betrayed when he does exactly what he promised to do. 

The guy is a sexual predator. Overtly so. Self-admitted! And you’re going to be surprised and outraged when he and his party target Planned Parenthood? My fucking god! 

You want to vote for someone based on hating others, aka “Making America Great,” then you’re going to get someone who fucking hates others. And you don’t get to exclude yourself from his targets, hoping that he gives a shit that you voted for him.

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America rallies to save our health care

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:15:11 +0000

The resistance to popular vote loser Donald Trump has begun, with tens of thousands of people in states across the nation standing up for Obamacare in rallies and calling and writing and meeting with their Republican representatives. The message: Don't take our health care away.

People who benefit from the law are flooding Congress with testimonials. Angry consumers are confronting Republican lawmakers. And Democrats who saw the law as a political liability in recent elections have suddenly found their voice, proudly defending the law now that it is in trouble.

Thousands of people across the country held rallies over the weekend to save the health care law, which Republicans moved last week to repeal with a first but crucial legislative step. A widely circulated video showed Representative Mike Coffman, Republican of Colorado, eluding constituents who had wanted to meet with him to express their concerns on Saturday at a community event in Aurora, Colo. Rallies on Sunday to save the health law drew robust crowds around the country.

"We are here today—thousands strong in Boston, and at more rallies all across this country—because we will make our voices heard,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, told a crowd outside Faneuil Hall in Boston. "If Republicans try to rip health care out of the hands of millions of Americans, we will fight them every step of the way.

Here's that Boston rally:

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For more great pictures of great crowds, courtesy #OurFirstStand, head below the fold.

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This map shows the 60 House Democrats who've said they won't attend Trump's inauguration ceremony

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:02:54 +0000

Campaign Action So far, 63 of the 194 Democratic members of the House have announced they will not attend Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony on Friday, with more adding their names to the list with every passing hour. The remaining 131 are either attending or have not made their intentions clear. As shown above, we’ve mapped out the districts of who is and isn’t going, with each district equally sized so that compact urban districts don’t get overshadowed (you can see a larger version here). To find out more about each member and the districts they represent, check out our comprehensive guide to the 115th Congress members and districts, which contains our calculations of the 2016 presidential election results for each congressional district, along with a whole host of other statistics. Using those presidential results, we’ve also mapped out the presidential outcome by district for each member who says he or she will not attend the inauguration (see the graphic below the fold). Overall, those members who are skipping tend to come from relatively safely Democratic districts, though there are some notable exceptions. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who represents New Hampshire’s 1st District, actually sits in a seat that Trump carried by 48-47, making her the only Trump-district Democrat on the list of no-shows so far. Meanwhile, a couple of Oregon Congress members—4th District Rep. Peter DeFazio and 5th District Rep. Kurt Schrader—both represent very swingy districts that Hillary Clinton only narrowly won, and both also say they won’t be at inauguration. Given the broad range of Democrats who’ve said they’ll be elsewhere on Friday, it won’t be surprising to see a lot more names added to the list as the week progresses, so we’ll be updating this map regularly. Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017 · 11:25:27 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf This story has been updated to reflect that 60 Democrats have now said that they would not attend Trump’s inauguration. Democrats only need 21 more abstainers to break the record set in 1973, when 80 members boycotted Richard Nixon’s re-inauguration. Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017 · 4:18:26 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf This story has been updated to reflect that 63 Democrats have now said that they would not attend Trump’s inauguration. [...]



CIA Director fires back in ongoing war with Trump, calls unpresidented elect 'repugnant'

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:50:48 +0000

Never say Donald Trump can’t multitask. In the same day he can hone his racism in tweets aimed at John Lewis and double down on The War Against Intelligence by swatting at the CIA director. Trump has a talent for hating.

But CIA Director John Brennan is not going down quietly and he’s particularly peeved by Trump comparing the agency to the Nazis.

“Tell the families of those 117 CIA officers who are forever memorialized on our wall of honor that their loved ones who gave their lives were akin to Nazis,” he continued. “Tell the CIA officers who are serving in harm’s way right now and their families who are worried about them that they are akin to Nazi Germany. I found that to be very repugnant, and I will forever stand up for the integrity and patriotism of my officers who have done much over the years to sacrifice for their fellow citizens.”

Brennan made it clear that he was not the one who leaked the kompromat dossier containing, among other things, Trump’s unusual shower preferences. In fact, he noted that bringing up the dossier at the briefing was an attempt to help Trump.

“There was an interest on the part of the bureau to make sure that the president-elect was aware of and informed of” the dossier, Brennan told the Journal. “The feeling was wanting to make sure that given the very salacious nature of it, the president-elect was at least aware of it so he could take it into account and do what needs to be done.”

The dossier has floated between many hands over the months since it was compiled. That it would spill into the public seems inevitable. 

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CBO: Obamacare repeal would increase uninsured to 32 million, double premiums in next decade

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:25:41 +0000

The Congressional Budget Office has evaluated the Obamacare repeal passed by Congress last year to determine what would happen if the same bill was used again. The aim was to predict "the changes in coverage or premiums that would result from leaving the market reforms in place while repealing the mandate penalties and subsidies." In other words, repeal without substantive replacement. The results are grim.

  • The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill. Later, after the elimination of the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility and of subsidies for insurance purchased through the ACA marketplaces, that number would increase to 27 million, and then to 32 million in 2026.

  • Premiums in the nongroup market (for individual policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers) would increase by 20 percent to 25 percent—relative to projections under current law—in the first new plan year following enactment. The increase would reach about 50 percent in the year following the elimination of the Medicaid expansion and the marketplace subsidies, and premiums would about double by 2026.

To which one Republican answered:

x

Because we say so—which is magic and makes it happen. A spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan responded similarly.

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Trouble in Trumpland on Obamacare repeal

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 15:30:43 +0000

Apparently, popular vote loser Donald Trump, Tom Price—his pick for heading up an Obamacare replacement effort, and congressional Republicans are all at odds on how to replace the law. Donald Trump and his pick to lead the Obamacare repeal effort, Rep. Tom Price, share a vision that the current health care system needs to be completely uprooted. But the two men have articulated wildly divergent visions for what comes next — and that's making it hard for Hill Republicans to figure out where to start on a coherent replacement plan once Obamacare is gone. Over the weekend, Trump said he wants to substantially expand coverage once Price is confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary — "insurance for everybody" as he put it to the Washington Post. But as a House member and former chairman of the House Budget Committee, the Georgia Republican wrote one of the most conservative visions for health care, although his plan never included universal coverage as a stated goal. Price's plan has little support in the Senate and supposedly hasn't come up in discussions with Trump. A senior transition official tells CNN that's because "the incoming administration wants Price to be inoculated from questions about what Trump's alternative to the Affordable Care Act looks like when he faces probing senators this week." Or perhaps it's because Trump is saying he wants beautiful health insurance for everyone which is definitely not what Price or any other Republican wants. But that gives senators lots more time to ask Price about his ongoing ethics problems, like Monday's revelation that Price personally invested in a company, wrote legislation immediately afterward that would benefit that company, and then received campaign contributions from the same company, all in a matter of weeks. Senators could spend plenty of time exploring that, should they wish. They could also ask about the sweetheart deal he got on stocks with another health company, one which has given him "about a 400 percent paper gain in his investment in Innate Immuno, stock trading records show."  There's sure going to be plenty for the Democratic senators on the health committee to talk to Price about on Thursday, whether or not he's been helping Trump on a replacement plan. [...]



Trump's marketing efforts go into overdrive to hype his dud of an inauguration

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:18:24 +0000

Donald Trump always needs to be the biggest and best, and if reality doesn’t cooperate, he’s willing to do a little false marketing. Since his inauguration is shaping up to be something of a dud, it’s a good thing he’s getting an early start pretending it’s something it’s not: xPeople are pouring into Washington in record numbers. Bikers for Trump are on their way. It will be a great Thursday, Friday and Saturday!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2017 Item: Trump recorded a Facebook message offering free inauguration tickets. (Better still: free tickets for events that don’t require tickets to attend at all.) Item: Trump had trouble attracting entertainers to perform at inauguration, and then he had trouble keeping them. Paul Anka and Broadway singer Jennifer Holiday backed out. So did a Bruce Springsteen cover band. Item: Scalpers are taking a loss on inauguration tickets. On the plus side for Trump, the 200 buses that had requested parking permits for inauguration have doubled to 400. On the minus side, at the time that only 200 buses were coming for inauguration, there were 1,200 bus parking applications for the Women’s March taking place the next day. Now that there are 400 inauguration buses—and 1,800 for the march. Look for Trump to brag that the number of buses for inauguration doubled in just a few days while the number coming for the march only increased by 50 percent. Donald Trump: If there’s a way to make 200 sound bigger than 600, he’ll do it! It’ll be interesting watching him try to make attendance at his inauguration sound bigger than the 1.8 million who flooded the District for President Obama’s 2009 inauguration. [...]



Putin is either defending Trump, or demonstrating autocratic dictator level trolling

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:51:28 +0000

It’s so difficult to detect snark on the Internet even from people you know. Add in a language barrier, the difficulty of the author being autocratic dictator who regularly orders the death of people for failing to bow low enough, and well …

Asked about a dossier alleging Trump's sexual activities at a Moscow hotel, Putin dismissed it as "fake" and charged that people who ordered it are "worse than prostitutes." 

 Is Putin defending Trump, or is this some really high level trolling? It’s genuinely hard to tell.

Putin, speaking at a news conference Tuesday, described a dossier on Trump as part of efforts by President Barack Obama's administration to "undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect" despite his "convincing" victory.

He said some now want to "stage a Maidan in Washington.”

Ah. That would be Euromaidan, the square where protesters gathered to chase Viktor Yanukovych out of Ukraine after it became clear that he was under Putin’s thumb as a pro-Russian puppet. Yanukovych, who was put into office with the help of Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, immediately turned his back on the European Union and instead signed a treaty with Russia. Which led to an uprising, and Yanukovych getting chased to Moscow, where he huddles even now under charges of high treason.

Funny that Putin would bring up that image.

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Cartoon: A new beginning

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:50:23 +0000

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen

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Morning Digest: Disgraced Alabama judge Roy Moore considering a second run for governor

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:00:23 +0000

Leading Off

Campaign Action

AL-Gov: The notorious Roy Moore may have been suspended from his job as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, but of course, he's undeterred from pursuing his political future (as well as an appeal of the ruling that removed him from the bench). Moore says that GOP Gov. Robert Bentley's office interviewed him as a possible candidate to replace Sen. Jeff Sessions, assuming Sessions is confirmed as Trump's attorney general, and also adds that his supporters are asking him to run for governor, since Bentley will be term-limited next year.

But Moore, who is now 69 years old, sought the governorship once before, and that adventure didn't go so well. Back in 2010, he earned just 19 percent of the vote in the GOP primary, enough for a weak fourth-place finish. (Bentley ultimately won the nomination in a runoff.) Moore, however, may not have anything better to do. His term on the court is not up until 2019, but he can't run again due to age limits, so if he loses his appeal, another statewide bid might sound like fun.

And in case this all sounds weirdly familiar, this is the second time Moore's been kicked off bench: Back in 2003, Moore got the boot after he refused to comply with a federal judge's order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the grounds of the state supreme court. But even though his defiance of the law earned him a national reputation as the "Ten Commandments judge," it evidently didn't endear him to primary voters, so there's no reason to think a second attempt would go any better.

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Warren: 'Trump stepped over the line' with attacks on John Lewis

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 14:00:26 +0000

Elizabeth Warren let Donald Trump know what she thought of his attack on Civil Rights icon, John Lewis.

“John Lewis is a man who literally put his life on the line to make this a better country, a fairer country, a country that is more open,” Warren said. “Donald Trump hasn’t put his life on the line for anyone except Donald Trump.”

Has Trump even done that much? It’s not certain that Donald Trump has ever had to defend himself from anything more threatening than a harsh word, or that he’s ever had a fight without the buffer of Twitter standing safely in the way.

The string of tweets Trump fired at Lewis weren’t just vile for their personal context, they also made racist assumptions about the nature of Lewis’ congressional district and the role of African Americans in Congress.

The tweets came after Lewis made it clear that he would not be attending the inauguration, and after he questioned Trump’s legitimacy as president considering the level of Russian interference in the election.

“John Lewis has earned the right to raise questions about legitimacy,” Warren said. “John Lewis has a question about that and John Lewis wants not to attend because of that ― that is certainly his right.”

Tickets to Obama’s inauguration had a street price of as much as $20,000. At this moment, the price for a ticket to Trump’s inauguration is please, please take one. John Lewis is not the only person questioning Trump’s legitimacy.

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Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:30:25 +0000

Happy Tuesday! Only four more Kagro in the Morning shows wherein facts will matter! Listen LIVE right here at 9:00 AM ET! It’s also time for a new message in this section, befitting the new year. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve resolved that 2017 should be the year we make the Kagro in the Morning show a sustainable enterprise by finding sufficient subscription support from our audience through our Patreon account. It should be, but I’m not making it a New Year’s resolution, because that practically guarantees failure. So instead, let’s just all agree that the KITM show is a fun way to stay sane during the upcoming Trump years (or whatever unit ends up being best suited to measuring his time in office), and that supporting the show is a great way to make sure we’re there for one another as needed. As a gesture of good will, please enjoy our latest episode ABSOLUTELY FREE! x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Support the show via Patreon Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The fact that there is such resistance to MLK’s commemoration underlines its importance. Biloxi, Mississippi takes us one step closer to “All Americans Matter” day. Others, including U.S. Representative John Lewis lead us to a better way. David Waldman is joined by Greg Dworkin to describe how the twitter feud is becoming a movement. We know Donald P. Trump is a ten year old with a real airplane and a billion dollars, but more importantly, if you really want to anger him, tell him he’s a bad golfer! What is past is prologue, so journalists know they are heading towards Hell. The Apprentice created the “character” of Donald Trump through careful editing of the “reality” of Donald Trump. This might be why Donald prefers to make a couple takes on his reality as he offers it to you. Now, Donald promises all of America will be 'beautifully covered' under his secret health care plan. He is raising 90 million dollars for charity (and to say 35 words). And, Russia wouldn’t change a word of his foreign policy. British and Israeli intelligence are resistant to sharing stuff with everyone, but what can they do about it? Sure it kind of seems we are all heading for hell. But, don’t despair! We were made for these times. There is hope in the dark. Make Friday a beginning. (Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold. [...]



Cheers and Jeers: Tuesday

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:18:19 +0000

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE… Nifty, Nifty, Look Who’s [Redacted]! Michelle Obama is the ninth First Lady I've known (well, not personally, but a boy can dream), and we have a lot in common. She's a wife, a mom, a lawyer and a strong advocate for our veterans. I'm a domestic partner, the spawn of a mom, a lawyer's nightmare and I believe our veterans deserve to be well taken care of on our nickel for the rest of their lives. We both pamper our dogs. For four months and 12 days of each year, we're the same age. She tweets and I tweet. She told Barack before he went onstage at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, "Don’t screw it up, buddy," which is the same thing my partner Michael tells me before I go in the kitchen to refill the ice cube tray. It's like looking into a mirror, I tell ya. Except I'll concede that most mirrors will tell you she's a bit more photogenic than I am: Today is the last time she'll celebrate a birthday as the sitting First Lady, so it's the perfect opportunity for me to say: thank you for being such an amazing role model---not only in terms of your own grace and humor and intelligence and optimism and down-to-earth authenticity (I'll stop there for space reasons---my list of attributes is 12 pages long, single spaced, triple-column), but also for throwing open the doors of the White House and making it feel more like the "People's House" than any time I can remember. I know there's no job description or requirements for the role of presidential spouse, but I think it's fair to say that you set the bar just about as high as it can go. You rocked it. In conclusion: Happy happy happy (I'll stop there for space reasons---my list of happys is also 12 pages long) birthday, FLOTUS! Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!] [...]



Abbreviated pundit roundup: Trump's pre-inauguration poll numbers are historically low

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 12:43:23 +0000

CNN’s polling director Jennifer Agiesta:

Following a tumultuous transition period, approval ratings for Trump's handling of the transition are more than 20 points below those for any of his three most recent predecessors. Obama took the oath in 2009 with an 84% approval rating, 67% approved of Clinton's transition as of late December 1992 and 61% approved of George W. Bush's transition just before he took office in January 2001. [...]

Across all three of these measures, Americans' impressions of Trump have worsened since November. In that time, disapproval of his handling of the transition has climbed seven points to 52%, the percentage who think he'll do a good job has dropped five points, and the share saying they have lost confidence in Trump's ability to be president grew 10 points.

Gary Langer at ABC News:

Donald Trump enters office as the most unpopular of at least the last seven newly elected presidents, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds, with ratings for handling the transition that are also vastly below those of his predecessors.

Forty percent of Americans in the national survey approve of the way Trump has handled the transition, half as many as the 80 percent who approved of Barack Obama’s preparations to take office. Trump also far trails George W. Bush (72 percent transition approval), Bill Clinton (81 percent) and George H.W. Bush (82 percent) on this measure. 

Similarly, just 40 percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, approve of most of Trump’s cabinet choices -- trailing his four predecessors by anywhere from 19 to 26 percentage points. 

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Annual GunFAIL rituals: celebratory gunfire & getting shot with Christmas guns. GunFAIL CCXXVII

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 03:20:20 +0000

So, maybe 2017 is a good time to try this again. It’s been a while since I was last able to publish a GunFAIL list. We’ve gone on hiatus before, but as with the last time, I never stopped keeping the raw lists. And neither did the TSA, which reports a 28 percent increase in the number of guns people “forgot” they were carrying through airports in 2016, smashing the record previously set in 2015. Last year, of course, smashed the previous record (with a 19 percent increase), set in 2014. And 2014 had seen a 22 percent increase over 2013, which had seen a 16.5 percent increase over 2012, which had seen a 17.9 percent increase over 2011, which … well, you get the picture.

The new year presents us a new opportunity to pick it up again, since the FAIL never stops. Besides, New Year’s Eve is one of the two annual big nights for one of the cardinal sins of GunFAIL: celebratory gunfire.

This week’s list, covering the first seven days of the year, identifies 20 separate incidents of celebratory gunfire-related GunFAIL, including two fatalities and another 10 injuries. In fact, we saw our first child under 15 years of age accidentally shot to death just six minutes into the new year. Eighteen people accidentally fired their weapons into the homes or property of neighbors. Sixteen people accidentally shot themselves. Six people accidentally fired weapons they were cleaning, and five people accidentally shot family members. In other words, a pretty typical week, with the added bonus of hundreds of people across the country still not getting the message that firing their guns in the air is a spectacularly bad idea.

Unsurprisingly, Texans were among the top offenders in the celebratory gunfire category, and as if to put an exclamation point on the need to dial it back, this time they accidentally shot a sitting state legislator. Will the NRA will allow legislators to send a sternly worded letter to reckless gun owners? Will the NRA allow legislators to say there even is such a thing?

Sadly, we also saw that other annual event: someone being accidentally shot with a brand-new Christmas gun. This time, an 11-year-old North Carolina boy showing off his brand-new shotgun cost us the life of his 6-year-old cousin.

Below, you can review the GunFAIL findings for the first week of 2017.

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Whoa—the B Street Band has pulled out of Trump's inauguration

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 19:16:05 +0000

You’ve probably heard of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Well, there’s a popular Springsteen cover band called the B Street Band. Pretty sweet. A little while ago news came out that the B Street Band was going to be playing an inaugural party for Donald Trump. It was at this point that the B Street Band found themselves in the middle of a political storm. 

"I've been beaten down. I haven't slept. I've been up all night," says Will Forte, the founder of popular Bruce Springsteen cover group the B-Street Band. The 63-year-old musician tells Rolling Stone that when news broke that his band would play a Donald Trump inauguration party this month, he received a flood of emails excoriating the group. 

[...]

For Forte, the issue is more about the office itself than who's running the country. "I respect what Bruce said and we owe everything to him, but I also have respect for the office of the presidency no matter who is involved," Forte says. "A little bit of us going down there originally [in 2009] was because we were honored to be part of that celebration of the office of the presidency. It's not about the candidate or who was elected; it was about the office of the presidency. I was performing for that. C'mon, we're a bar band. It's got nothing to do with politics whatsoever."

That was a couple of days ago. Since that time the never-ending chant of “C’mon guys! You’re the B STREET BAND,” has finally gotten to them. Today, the B Street Band went to their page to announce that they will not be performing for any Trump inaugural events.

With deepest apologies to our fans and the New Jersey Inaugural Ball committee, the B Street Band is withdrawing from performing at this year's inauguration Gala.

Our decision is based SOLELY on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band.

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A desperate Donald Trump records a message on Facebook offering free inauguration tickets

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:45:11 +0000

Campaign Action

Is Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd going to be bad or the worst in modern American history? He’s only been able to draw a handful of D.C.-area wedding DJs and a handful of county fair musical acts. A growing list of congressional representatives have pledged to boycott the event and a D.C. council member says they’ve only received 200 bus applications (versus 1,200 for the protest march the very next day.)

But, perhaps the most telling sign this is shaping up to be an embarrassing disaster for Team Trump is the fact that only six days out from the event, Donald himself took to Facebook to record a message begging offering free tickets to anyone who wanted to attend. If you make it through the ceremony, he’ll throw in a set of steak knives and you’ll be entered to win a complimentary trip for two to the luxurious Mar-A-Lago resort. (Okay, that last bit is not true, but it could be!) Watch below and read a sampling humorous responses to his plea. They are tremendous. The best. Bigly great. Feel free to add your own response in the comments.

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The simple, sinister reason for the GOP’s never-ending war on Obamacare

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 20:48:21 +0000

House and Senate Republicans this week took the first step this week toward the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But without a replacement program in place, the GOP is nevertheless prepared to withdraw health insurance from up to 30 million Americans and jeopardize coverage for over 20 million more. While millions will face the prospect of financial ruin, Republicans will condemn tens of thousands of the newly uninsured to needless deaths—every year. Meanwhile, many hospitals, physicians and insurers will be trapped in a market “death spiral” Republicans alone will be responsible for creating. If President Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan succeed, theirs will be the greatest act of political spite in American history. The question is why. This isn’t about a “better way” to enable health care for all; Republicans don’t have any way, period. The demolition of the ACA isn’t about “freedom” or “choice,” either; by providing coverage and protecting Americans from the worst depredations of the insurance industry, Obamacare enhances personal freedom. (For those decrying insurance mandates, think again about your payroll taxes which help buy you a retirement pension and old-age health care.) And to be sure, the GOP isn’t upholding the sanctity of the “free market”; the ACA has brought millions of new customers to private insurers, private hospitals, private physicians and private pharmaceutical firms. The answer is simple, sinister and no different now than when Bill Clinton first took the oath of office 24 years ago. As I first explained on “The Real Reason for the GOP's All-Out War on Obamacare” on August 11, 2013 (below), Republicans have never feared that Democratic healthcare reform would fail, but that it would succeed. -------------------------------- During his press conference on Friday, President Obama pondered why the GOP's "number one priority, the one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don't have health care." But in attributing the 40 Affordable Care Act repeal votes, the threats to shut down the government over Obamacare funding, the tens of millions of dollars in misleading ads and another summer of town hall rage to the GOP's "ideological fixation," the president was only partly right. At its core, the Republicans' scorched-earth opposition to Obamacare has never been so much about "freedom" or "limited government" or any other right-wing ideological buzzword as it has been about political power, pure and simple. Now as for the past 20 years, Republicans have feared not that health care reform would fail the American people, but that it would succeed. Along with Social Security and Medicare, successful healthcare reform would provide the third and final pillar of Americans' social safety net, all brou[...]



Buh-bye! Monica Crowley takes a pass on Trump post amid plagiarism accusations

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:48:40 +0000

Former Nixon aide and Fox News analyst Monica Crowley won’t be taking a foreign policy communications role in popular vote loser Donald Trump’s White House after all. Stephen Dinan writes

Ms. Crowley, who had been tapped to be senior director of strategic communications at the National Security Council, had been dogged in recent weeks by questions about whether she lifted portions of her past written work from other writers. Her move seemed designed to keep that from becoming a distraction as the Trump team prepares to take office. [...]

A report by CNN earlier this month found passages in Ms. Crowley’s 2012 book “What the (Bleep) Just Happened” closely tracked with others’ work. A separate story by Politico, a website for political insiders, said it found more than a dozen instances of what it deemed plagiarism or insufficient attribution in her 2000 dissertation.

HarperCollins, the publisher of the 2012 book, withdrew the digital version of the book from circulation last week amid the accusations.

And that is that.

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Rep. John Lewis' graphic novel sees 106,700% jump in Amazon sales after Trump's Twitter attacks

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:50:29 +0000

Here’s one good thing we can say Trump has (inadvertently) done. After Republican President-elect Trump took to Twitter to lash out at Rep. John Lewis, he might have sparked an unexpected response that definitely won’t make him happy. In light of Trump’s very public and ugly attacks at civil rights icon Lewis for exercising his constitutionally protected right of free speech when he told NBC he doesn’t view Trump as a “legitimate president,” demand for the congressman’s books have skyrocketed. According to Mediaite, Rep. Lewis’ graphic novel series March based on his story as a civil rights leader has seen a whopping 106,700 percent increase in sales and is now the No. 1-selling book on Amazon. And the rise in sales isn’t just for his graphic novels. Think Progress also reports that his biography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, is sold out. This is a great way for folks to put their money where their mouths are to show their support. People have been tweeting over the weekend about making purchases to show their support. xJohn Lewis' graphic novel box set is the #34 book on Amazon.Go buy a copy to make it #1 & piss off Trump.https://t.co/CVeUYbvESP pic.twitter.com/TvOghhV8SI— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) January 14, 2017 I think I know what my next book purchases will be! [...]



Trump keeps the names of inauguration contributors top secret

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:19:44 +0000

Barack Obama published the names of those who funded his inaugural events. So did George W. Bush. So did Bill Clinton. So did … It doesn’t matter. Making public the names behind the event is just a tradition, not a law. So Donald “Why didn’t you make me” Trump isn’t going to do it.

Donald Trump is trying to keep the names of the people and companies donating millions of dollars to his inauguration festivities this week a secret — a break from his Republican and Democratic predecessors in the White House.

Despite providing talent that would be disappointing at a high school prom, Trump is pulling in record levels of funding.

Trump is expected to raise more than $90 million — a record amount — from people and corporations to pay for days of activities, including receptions, balls and the parade surrounding the 58th inauguration celebration. Taxpayers will spend millions more on the official swearing-in ceremony, security, construction and cleanup.

At current levels of interest, Trump could stick a million dollars on the bottom of every chair and make the few people who sit through his cold, gray, rainy inauguration feel like the day was possibly worth it.

But what mysterious groups are behind Trump’s big cash wad? The American Borscht Council?  “Fat Tony” Salerno’s Cement? The Spray Tan Coalition?

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Nativist hatemonger Laura Ingraham reportedly considering a run against Tim Kaine

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:28:46 +0000

According to unnamed "knowledgeable sources" who've spoken with the right-wing Washington Examiner newspaper, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham is reportedly considering a bid against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine in Virginia next year, though she’s declined to comment. Ingraham is a major Trump booster and fits right in with the president-elect's "movement," as she's an extreme nativist reactionary on the topic of immigration. (She once said that Trump's proposal to ban Muslim immigration was "not broad enough.") That could give her a path to the GOP nomination if Republican voters are looking to nominate someone on the "Trump track," though Trump himself only won a narrow 35-32 plurality over Marco Rubio in last year's primary. But that could also set Ingraham on a collision course with a political upstart whose career she's credited with launching: Rep. Dave Brat, the man who unseated Eric Cantor back in 2014. Aside from some ill-considered attack ads run by Cantor, Brat's penniless campaign received its greatest exposure on Ingraham's radio show. (Like Ingraham, Brat is virulently hostile to immigration, and even compared DREAMers who want to serve in the U.S. military to ISIS recruits.) And Brat could also run for the Senate. Last year, when Virginia Republicans were preparing for a potential special election in the event that Kaine were to be elected vice president, Brat said he'd "consider" the race. That eventually of course did not come to pass, and since Election Day, Brat's been very elliptical about his interest. Amusingly, he claims he's "already won the election" over Kaine because he'd just use the same "outsider" message he rode to victory over Cantor, which demonstrates an apparent lack of understanding about the differences between running in a Republican primary in a conservative district versus a general election in a light blue state, but more power to him. Be that as it may, there probably isn't room for both Brat and Ingraham in the same contest. And meanwhile, the GOP establishment is waiting to see whether Northern Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock will make a go of it. She'd likely be the party's strongest candidate, but she'd face some difficulty winning the nomination if she faces someone advocating a purer form of hatred. After all, Rubio, whose "base" is pretty much the same NoVa suburbs that Comstock represents, couldn't even carry Virginia. [...]



Trump's HHS pick introduced legislation to help medical device company days after investing in it

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 21:31:42 +0000

Immediately upon popular vote loser Donald Trump's decision to nominate Georgia Rep. Tom Price to be his health and human services secretary, Democrats pointed out there was a big ol' ethics problem there. Namely, he was making a lot of money off of shares in companies in the medical arena while legislating on issues affecting those companies. That concern escalated into calls for an SEC investigation to determine whether he's been dabbling in insider trading. That investigation now looks inevitable: Rep. Tom Price last year purchased shares in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising new ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services secretary. Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet, according to House records reviewed by CNN. Less than a week after the transaction, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented. […] After Price offered his bill to provide Zimmer Biomet and other companies relief from the CMS regulation, the company's political action committee donated to the congressman's reelection campaign, records show. It's a twofer for Price—personal enrichment through the shares, and campaign coffer enrichments from a grateful company. Price didn't even pretend to make this one not appear horrendously unethical. Because of the previous concerns about Price's insider-trading—before this story broke—to "avoid the appearance of conflicts-of-interest, Price announced last week that he would divest from 43 companies—including Zimmer Biomet—within 90 days of Senate confirmation."  Which is kind of entirely missing the point. The point being: he's an unethical asshole, willing to enrich himself through his position of power, potentially illegally. That makes him perfect for the Trump administration, but dangerous for the American people. [...]



Popular vote loser Trump still miffed at intelligence officials, takes aim at outgoing CIA director

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:08:46 +0000

Donald Trump's pint-sized ego is bruised and battered and he does't have to take it anymore. So after outgoing CIA director John Brennan suggested that Trump might have more national security responsibilities than just tweeting once he's pr*sident, Trump hit back.

The president-elect took to Twitter Sunday evening to respond to Brennan, saying over two tweets, “Oh really, couldn’t do much worse - just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?”

Yep, that's the guy who's going to be running the country—ol' stumpy thumbs—dashing off tweets in a single synapse. Brennan had the gall to suggest that Trump wasn't fully aware of the danger Russia poses to our national security and, therefore, Trump concluded he leaked the unflattering intelligence dossier that was the worst kept secret in Washington. Naturally, Brennan was just trying to make a perfectly reasonable point.

“Now that he’s going to have an opportunity to do something for our national security as opposed to talking and tweeting, he’s going to have tremendous responsibility to make sure that U.S. and national security interests are protected,” Brennan said on “Fox News Sunday,” warning that the president-elect’s impulsivity could be dangerous.

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