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"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair Lewis

Last Build Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2017 08:46:27 +0000


Senator Laura Ingraham? Would You Rather See A Senator Billie Joe Armstrong?

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000

In a display of startling intellectual dishonesty-- even for someone as laughably dishonest as Hate Talk Radio host Laura Ingraham, she has certainly changed her tune on Russia since Trump crawled out from underneath his reality TV celebrity. And she's now considering a run against Tim Kaine for his Virginia U.S. Senate seat. How serious is this? Her nascent campaign has already bought,, and is still available.Trump did much better in Virginia than anyone expected-- 1,731,156 (45.0%) votes to Clinton's 1,916,845 (49.9%).Two Republican junior congressmembers-- neither with any accomplishments whatsoever-- are also thinking about running: Barbara Comstock and Dave Brat. Ingraham is close to Senior Trumpanzee and once the old tweet up top started being circulated on Twitter yesterday, she immediately pulled it down.I wonder if she read Señor Trumpanzee's interview with London's Times over the weekend. Aside from acting as a cheerleader for Brexit, he's telling the Brits to trust murderous Russian tyrant and former KGB agent Vladimir Putin. In the wide-ranging interview, Mr Trump revealed: ● He will agree a nuclear weapons reduction deal with President Putin of Russia in return for lifting US sanctions. He was highly critical of Russia’s intervention in Syria, however, describing it as “a very bad thing” that had led to a “terrible humanitarian situation.”● Orders will be signed next Monday to strengthen America’s borders, which could include travel restrictions on Europeans coming to the US as well as “extreme vetting” for those entering America from parts of the world known for Islamist terrorism.● He believes that Angela Merkel made a “catastrophic mistake” when she let more than a million migrants into Germany, adding that the EU had become “a vehicle for Germany.”● He will start off by trusting Mrs Merkel and Mr Putin, but that might not last long.Mr Trump was deeply critical of America’s foreign policy. He described the decision to invade Iraq as “possibly the worst decision ever made in the history of our country”, saying it was like “throwing rocks into a beehive”. He added that Afghanistan was going badly and that attempts to recapture Mosul had turned out to be a disaster.On Russia, Mr Trump indicated that he hoped that a deal could be done to reduce nuclear capability in return for dropping some sanctions against Moscow. “They have sanctions on Russia-- let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it.”Here's the actual interview with the idiot if you want to read it. Or, better yet, watch the new anti-Trump video that Green Day released today for "Troubled Times" from their new album, Revolution Radio. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">[...]

Death Over Deportation

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 02:00:00 +0000

-by Dorothy ReikAdrian came to see me about two weeks ago. He was 39 years old but a life of physical labor outdoors made him look older. He came with our mutual friend, Carlos, who was also his employer, and with his beautiful son. Adrian had been a rancher in Mexico but he needed equipment to produce enough to get by, so like many he came to the U.S. to earn some money, planning to return to "my country" as soon as he had saved enough. But he married, had three citizen children and got a good job with my friend so dreams of "my country" started to fade.You could see that Adrian had seen his share of manual labor. His hand, which shook mine firmly, was calloused. He wore the clothes of a man who works outdoors. He was short and compact. His fifteen year old son was already taller than he was. Adrian was smiling and his eyes looked directly into mine. His son looked at his dad with a son's love. It was a proud day and he was there to witness it.His boss is a contractor and Adrian, after supervising so many projects for him, was going to do his own first deal. He had saved money and had his down payment and the repair money too. He had found a property to buy and rehab. My friend was happy and proud for his friend. His son was beaming. Adrian signed his papers with a firm hand. We were all so happy.Then last Sunday a pain in his chest sent Adrian to his knees. His wife ran to the phone but he told her "No." It would pass. But it didn't pass. By 3AM Adrian was gone. He had insurance but he didn't have "papers." He and his wife knew they could face deportation if they called for help. So Adrian's heart attack killed him at age 39.They didn't ask for his papers as they harvested his organs. He had checked that box on his driver's license. They didn't ask his wife for hers when they told her the body was missing many parts because Adrian was so young that all his organs, except his heart, were healthy. They would put marbles where is eyes had been, they said. And sew him up.So now three children have no father and a stay-at-home mother has to figure out a way to support them. There is that down payment money for now. The sale had not yet closed.Would Adrian have let his wife call for help if Hillary had won the election instead of Trump? Maybe.Would they have called if Bernie had won? My friend and I said in unison "Abstolutely!"RIP Adrian. Presente![...]

A DWT Exclusive: We Have The First Draft Of Comrade Trump's Inauguration Speech!

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 22:00:00 +0000

2016 In Review: America Off The Rails, Part 12 allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="238" src="" width="440">by NoahAs the first day of the end of America approaches, many of us are wondering about Donald "The J Is for Jackass" Trump's inauguration speech. Questions abound. Will it be a single tweet? Has it been left to his wife to write it, or crib it? Perhaps Billy Bush is writing it for him right now? Or perhaps David Duke? Or some Russkie in the basement of the Kremlin? Hell, it might even be a room full of monkeys with typewriters.cartoon by Bruce PlanteMaybe, just maybe, Comrade Trump will simply regale his crowd of hypnotized zombies with a reading of his book The Art of the Deal. After all, he may even insist that he be sworn in with his hand on his own book rather than a copy of the Bible. Such is the titanic, bloated ego and freakishly out-of-control narcissism of Trump.With all of this in mind, I thought that I could help out. I know I can write Trump's inauguration speech. I know I can write it in his own unique style!I like writing. I can spell words like "precedent" and "president." Hell, I even know the difference between the two. I, like Trump, have a full vocabulary of "the best words." So believe me. I can do this. I can do this so fast, it will make your head spin. I've even been nice enough to include cues and instructions to help the new President make his way through his speech. Here goes.My fellow Trump voters, distinguished .05 percenters, favorite oligarchs, Mr. Duke, and President Putin,Three score and ten years ago, I was born on a day that will one day be not only a national holiday but a world holiday, such is the magnificence of me. To be or not to be was never the question for I am. I am what I am. I'm President Trump the President Man, the best President Man, I am, I am.[Pause for applause]This could be the start of a beautiful relationship! No way Crooked Hillary would have a crowd this big! Wow! You are a landslide. I won! We have a movement here, a movement that's never happened before. Big movement! So much love for me. So much love.[Pause for applause]Wow! Thank you! Great! Thank you! Great spirit in Washington today! I have property here, you know. I have a big new hotel. Beautiful hotel. Big tower. Big![Pause for applause]I see we have some press here. Dishonest. Very dishonest. Look at them, and their expensive cameras. Very dishonest. Radical press. Crooked press.To all my enemies I say, you're in trouble!We will take arms against our sea of troubles. To Mexicans and Muslims alike, we will offer the slings and arrows of our outrage! [Pause for applause]We will fix Iran. We will eliminate ISIS. Meryl Streep invented ISIS, you know. Meryl Streep. Nasty woman. No talent. Bad actress. Bad. Sad. Bad.I am not afraid of my greatness! Some, like me, are born great. Some, like me, achieve amazing greatness. And some, like me, have greatness thrust upon them. At least that's what many people are saying. I'm great. I'm smart, many people say. Ask them. Some say I'm brilliant. I am. Believe me.[Pause for applause and adulation]I see a great America again! I will rebuild the bridges. Trump bridges. Trump highways. Pyramids on the golden sands!Our forefathers brought forth this nation with me in mind. Me. Me. Me.[Pause for applause]Me.[Pause for applause]Let's hear it for me![Pause for applause]When our forefathers thought of this nation being great, they thought of Trump! Making this nation great again! I offer you that golden future![Pause for applause]There will be jobs. Lots of jobs! Perchance to dream, there will be jobs![Pause for applause]Big wall![Pause for applause]Beer![Pause for applause]Ban Muslims![Pause for applause]If you want to believe in something, believe in it. Just because it isn't true doesn't mean you can't believe it! Believe that good always triumphs over evil and that is why I stand here before you today![Pause for applause]Today. Today, I am the luckiest man on this ea[...]

The Monopoly-Driven Price of Health Care; Case in Point, Alan Grayson's Hip Replacement

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

You can see the trend. Hospital "consolidation" — a polite term for monopoly formation — in the hospital industry (source: Federal Reserve of Minneapolis)by Gaius PubliusI'm on Alan Grayson's email list, and this recently came through. As usual with Grayson's work, it's well (and entertainingly) written. But it's also a shocker.As a result of a fall playing basketball last year, Grayson found himself in need of a replacement hip, and so had the surgery. For Grayson, things went fine. For the hospital, things went even better. The bill he received for his three-day hospital stay plus the cost of the device itself — not including any doctor fees, which were billed separately — was four times what is charged in the U.K. for the same surgery and ten times what is charged in Spain. Further, Grayson was charged more than twice the usual cost in the U.S. Shocked, Grayson took a look at these prices, how they compared elsewhere and what keeps them so outrageously high in the U.S. Note the role of monopoly in the discussion below (emphasis mine). Dear Gaius,I broke my leg a few months ago, playing basketball with my kids. (Note to self: stop lunging for every loose ball I see.) I actually sat cross-legged on the court for a few minutes, thinking that the pain would go away. It certainly did not.My wife took me to the hospital, where X-rays showed that the part of the bone inside my hip looked like someone had hit it with a sledgehammer. My surgeon expressed extreme skepticism that he could put it back together again. He recommended a hip replacement, which puts a metal head and a plastic shell in place of the ball and socket inside your hip. I said fine.Not being Henny Youngman, I refrained from asking him whether I would ever be able to play the piano again. The surgery took place the morning after I was admitted to the hospital, and I was released two days after that. Less than 72 hours from in to out. The hospital bill was $69,240.That’s just the hospital bill. The surgeon, emergency room doctor and physical therapist all billed me separately.Admittedly, this bill was on the high side. According to a report by the International Federation of Health Plans, the average hip replacement in the United States in 2015 cost $29,067. Only the most expensive five percent of hip replacements here cost $57,225 or more. Somehow, my hospital bill alone was more than that astronomical sum. But even $29,067 is a very pretty penny.(Blue Cross, my insurance carrier, said no to the $69,240 hospital bill, and paid $32,395 instead – which is still a lot of money. I paid a $500 copayment, having already paid my deductible for the year.)I worked for four years as an economist. Economists associate the price of things with their cost of production. (Specifically, their marginal cost of production, but for present purposes, that’s an unnecessary nuance.) In a free market, competition is supposed to drive prices down to the cost of production.What did it cost the hospital to host me for those three days? It had to pay the nurses, but there certainly were fewer nurses than patients, so at most we’re talking about three days of nurses’ pay. It had to pay for the metal and plastic parts that the surgeon put inside me, and the surgical glue that was used to close me back up, which are mass-produced. (2.5 million Americans have replacement hips.) The hospital had to buy the medicine that it gave to me, which was modest, because I’m really not into opiates. It had to buy my gown, the kind that ties in the back. It had to feed me eight meals of hospital food. It had to pay for the electricity and water for my room (and the cable TV, which I did not use, but thanks anyway.)The hospital had to pay for one hour’s worth of time in a surgical room, which I never got to see because I was under general anesthesia during that hour. (I hate the sight of blood, especially mine.) It had to pay for three days’ worth of time in the room where my[...]

The Kind Of People They Are

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 14:00:00 +0000

Last week, in a report about the U.S. sinking into banana republic status, The Intercept reported that Jared Kushner "seems to be a Trump Mini-Me-- like his father-in-law born to real estate wealth and not particularly talented at anything, but with a family taste for power and personal vengeance... Just like Trump himself, Kushner has been a horrendous landlord, harassing rent-stabilized tenants so he could force them out and jack up the rent on their apartments."When Trump flunked out of Fordham, his father bought him into a "special real estate program" at Wharton, which is connected to an Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania. By all reports, Trump never really participated in being educated. That same Intercept article reported that Kushner's felonious father-- and longtime Trump crony-- Charlie "gave $2.5 million to Harvard in 1998 when Jared was looking at colleges. Shortly afterward, Harvard admitted him-- even though, as an official at Kushner’s high school put it, 'His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen.' After Harvard, Kushner was admitted to the law school at New York University. Coincidentally, his father had recently given NYU $3 million and rented the school office space at below-market rates."Last week, in his Washington Post column, Greg Sargent seemed somehow surprised by the tenor and bizarro-quality of the Trumpanzee press conference, as the soon-to-be Idiot-in-Chief "confirmed the very worst fears of ethics experts, announcing a new arrangement for his business holdings that is designed to garner nice headlines but is unlikely to do much to reduce the possibility of conflicts of interest and, possibly, full blown corruption." Probably never enrolled in a business ethics course at Wharton. We appear to be entering into truly uncharted territory. The vast extent of Trump’s global holdings, combined with their opacity, create both a level of potential for conflicts, and an inability for us to track those conflicts, that render all efforts to predict the consequences utterly hopeless.It is hard to say what will happen now. The role of the press in trying to keep track of those conflicts will be crucial. But on that front, too, what we saw at today’s presser was cause for alarm. Trump tore into CNN as “fake news” for publishing a careful if provocative and envelope-pushing story on unverified claims that Russian intelligence gathered compromising information on him. Trump ferociously attacked Buzzfeed for publishing a dossier of those claims, pointedly noting that Buzzfeed would “suffer the consequences.”That would be worrisome enough on its own. But combine it with Trump’s unprecedented dishonesty and his refusal to revise his claims when they are widely called out as false, and it all starts to smack of an effort to stamp out the very possibility of shared agreement on the legitimate institutional role of the news media or even on reality itself. It’s easy to imagine that, if and when a news organization uncovers potential conflicts, Trump will simply deny the reality of what’s been uncovered (“fake news”) and begin threatening “consequences” towards that organization.One thing that remains clear: Congressional Republicans are not going to step up and try to mitigate this situation. Republicans are not going to take any of the steps they could be taking to try to prod Trump into showing more transparency about his holdings, which would make conflicts and corruption less likely. It’s hard to see that changing, unless, perhaps, intensified media scrutiny shakes loose enough scandalous stories to make the lack of congressional action untenable. That will also require public pressure-- of the sort that forced Republicans to reverse recently on their plan to gut an independent ethics oversight office, but probably a lot mor[...]

Will Trump-- Should Trump-- Ever Get Out From Under The Cloud Of Illegitimacy?

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000

What does Putin want? He has some very legitimate gripes with Western policy-- especially the way NATO has moved to encircle Russia. Russians are historically touchy about that-- and for good reason. "The West" killed 11 million Russian soldiers and between 7 million and 20 million civilians during World War II. (In comparison, the U.S. lost around 400,000 soldiers in that war.) Weakening the EU and destroying a hostile NATO certainly appears to be in Russia's national interest, irrespective of Putin's penchant for kleptocracy and tyranny.Putin would be remiss in his job if he weren't supporting right-wing nationalist movements in the West that seek to undermine the EU and NATO. That includes Señor Trumpanzee. And it's working out better than Putin could have ever imagined it would. Over the weekend, Alex Barker, reporting from Brussels for the Financial Times noted that, according to the US ambassador to the EU, members of the Trumpanzee transition team (TTT) have called EU leaders to ask "what country is to leave next" with a tone suggesting the union "is falling apart" this year. In a pugnacious parting press conference, Anthony Gardner warned of "fringe" voices such as Nigel Farage, the former UK Independence party leader, holding influence in Washington over Mr Trump's team.Speaking days before leaving office, Mr Gardner said it would be "lunacy" and "the height of folly" for the US to ditch half a century of foreign policy in order to support further EU fragmentation or become a "Brexit cheerleader" in Brussels."I was struck in various calls that were going on between the incoming administration and the EU that the first question is: what country is about to leave next after the UK?" he said.The perceived sense is that 2017 is the year in which the EU is going to fall apart. And I hope that Nigel Farage is not the only voice being listened to because that is a fringe voice... He argued that the next administration needed to be told plainly that the EU "was not falling apart" and was in fact finding more sense of purpose in the wake of Brexit.Trumpanzee was firmly rebuffed when he tried to strong-arm the British government into naming his neo-fascist crony, Farage, ambassador.All that said, we still don't have any way of knowing for sure the extent of interference by the Russians in placing Trump into the White House. The Russian and American intelligence services aren't exactly known for veracity or integrity. The Christopher Steele story and his golden showers dossier is still fascinating, regardless of what you believe about it. On Saturday, The Independent revealed the FBI's role in this sordid affair. Steele is a former MI6 agent-- a kind of James Bond character-- who was freaking out about what he claims to have found between Trump and the Russians. He sent his information to both the U.S. and U.K. intelligence services "after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries." It looks like Giuliani and his cronies at the FBI were able to keep the information off the Bureau's front burner. Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He [and a colleague, a former Wall Street Journal reporter named Glenn Simpson,] came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails....[In July] Steele produced a memo, which went to the  FBI, stating that Mr Trump’s campaign team had agreed to a Russian request to dilute attention on Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. Four days later Mr Trump stated that he would recognise Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. A month later officials involved in his campaign asked the Republican party’s election[...]

Culture Watch: End of the line for THE circus -- bye-bye, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 02:00:00 +0000

-- from, the company websiteSo what do you suppose the new administration plans to do to Save Our Circus and Make the Circus Great Again?-- KenRingling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to End Its 146-Year RunBy CHRISTOPHER MELE | JAN. 14, 2017Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever.In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year.“This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company,” the statement said. “The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me.”Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, said in an interview on Saturday night that the closing would affect about 400 cast and crew members.“We looked at the performance in 2016 and advance tickets sales in 2017, and we decided it was not a viable business model,” he said.The company informed employees Saturday night after shows in Orlando, Fla., and Miami.“There isn’t any one thing,” Mr. Feld told The Associated Press. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”Ringling has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. Major stops include Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington. The final shows will be on May 7 in Providence, R.I., and on May 21 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.The final appearance of the circus in New York City will be from Feb. 23 to March 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.An estimated 10 million people go to a Ringling circus each year.Mr. Feld told The A.P. that transporting the show by rail and other circus quirks — such as providing a traveling school for performers’ children — are throwbacks to another era. “It’s a different model that we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price.”The Feld family bought Ringling in 1967.Ringling has been targeted by activists who say forcing animals to perform is cruel and unnecessary, leading to the removal of the elephants, among the most popular features of the performances. The company sent its animals to live on a conservation farm in Florida.On Twitter on Saturday night, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which campaigned for the elephants’ removal, heralded what it called “the end of the saddest show on earth.” . . .Read the full story, with links, onsite.#[...]

Comrade Trump: Inauguration Entertainment Update!

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 22:00:00 +0000

2016 In Review: America Off The Rails, Part 11(With UPDATE to the Update: Breaking newsfrom The Borowitz Report -- see below) allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="238" src="" width="440">Who says there won't be big stars at the Trump Inauguration? Why, the B Street Band will be there -- does it get bigger than that?by NoahAs soon as Comrade Trumpinsky won the 2016 election, speculation began as to who or what would be performing at the January 20 Inauguration ceremonies. Surely, the A-listers would come begging His Not So Excellency for a spot on the stage and a chance to wow the zombies, white supremacists, Russian diplomats, and fascist oligarchs, wouldn't they?His Not So Excellency dreamed of basking in the golden glow of A-lister love: Elton John, Garth Brooks, the Beach Boys. Maybe his buddy Chris Christie could land Bruce Springsteen! Well, only if people would stop calling Springsteen "The Boss," because, you know, there can only be one boss.Trumpie dreamed of matching President Obama's cavalcade of stars, which included Springsteen, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, and James Taylor, and that was just for starters. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="238" src="" width="440">Pete Seeger was 89 when he and Bruce Springsteen roused the crowd with "This Land Is Your Land" at the 2009 "We Are One" Obama Inaugural Concert. Pete died in 2014. The Boss won't be at the Trump Inaugural either.That, folks, was never going to happen; not after His Not So Excellency made it clear where he stands on humanity itself.Back on December 29, I posted about the troubles the President-elect's transition committee was having finding people who wanted to support the various manifestations of hate and treason being exhibited by the new President and his Republican Party. Elton turned him down. So did Garth. Springsteen? Not a chance. Andrea Bocelli? Uh, no. The Radio City Rockettes? It turns out some have decided to perform and some have not. So far, there is no word as to whether the new President will try to get into their dressing room. They may be a little older than what he likes anyway.SO WHO'S IN?Yeah, Ted Nugent'll be on hand -- guns a-blazing?Well, I know that as soon as those "golden showers" stories started circulating, some people thought R. Kelly might get an invite. (You can look it up yourself. If you're inclined, you could google R. Kelly Chappelle and go from there. Just don't say I didn't warn ya.) But if he did, we'll never know now. Maybe when Trumpinsky had Kanye West over to his golden palace of greed, he had him confused with R. Kelly. Anyway, as the saying goes, "What goes on in Trump Tower stays in Trump Tower." Why else would he refuse the Secret Service guards and replace them with his own private security force? allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="238" src="" width="440">3 Doors Down will be strutting their brand of, er, "alternative" rock.As I write this, it looks like, as I said, some of the aforementioned Rockettes (hopefully more than two, since it just wouldn't look all that swell), Ted Nugent (presumably invited because he has called for the killing of Democratic leaders), Kid Rock, Toby Keith, Lee Greenwood, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (also minus a few members), a rock band named 3 Doors Down, who call themselves alternative rock, although alternative to what is hard to discern by listening to their paint-by-numbers Muzak. You can be forgiven if this list reads to you like something from a planet that's stuck in a 1959 time warp. Look at it this way: At least Trumpinsky didn't have to ask his friend Putin to send over some Russian dancing bears.Best of all -- and believe it, this is real, I am not putting you on -- since they couldn't get Springsteen, the Trumpies got a Springsteen[...]

Resistance In The Age Of Trump

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">A few days ago I flew back from Beijing on Air China and they had a very limited English-language movie library for the 11 hour flight. I watched Roman Polanski's award-winning 2002 film with Adrien Brody, The Pianist, and a less well-known new movie set in Prague, Anthropoid. Both films dealt with the resistance to the Nazis. There was an especially chilling moment in The Pianist in which 3 middle-aged Jewish men are about to be loaded on a train for the Treblinka concentration camp. One says the Jews shouldn't just march to their deaths without a fight and an argument ensues about practicalities and difficulties in mounting such an operation. They and their families all die in the camp, although eventually the Warsaw Ghetto does organize and rise up against the German deplorables. Anthropoid is about how Czech nationalists murder the Butcher of Prague, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the 3rd-ranking Nazi, a Steve Bannon-like character. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">A few weeks ago Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) kicked off a kind of symbolic resistance to Trump when he announced he wouldn't be attending the inauguration. "I really don't feel comfortable standing next to a man as he swears allegiance to this country and president of the United States of America, after he said that Mexicans are murderers, rapists, drug dealers and that that's all we are. I just can't un-hear the despicable, terrible things he said about women, about Muslims, so I won't be standing... When I went to George Bush’s inauguration I didn’t feel he was a threat to my presence in America, to my daughter's presence in America. I want to look at my girls in the face and say, I didn't normalize that kind of speech."Katherine Clark (D-MA) soon followed and now there are over a dozen members of Congress who have publicly stated that they are not going to be at the inauguration, most notably, civil rights icon John Lewis, who told Meet the Press why he doesn't see Trump as a legitimate president. (Trump struck back yesterday morning by claiming Atlanta is "in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested)" and accusing John Lewis of being "all talk, talk, talk-- no action or results." When John Lewis was on the front lines of the civil rights movement, getting his head bashed in by a KKK thug (like Trump's father), Trump was beginning his criminal behavior of systematically denying housing to prospective tenants based on race.As progressives, we must resist. We must prepare ourselves for the sacrifices it will take to rescue out country from the gaping maw of fascism it's fallen into. A dozen or so courageous congressmen and congresswomen boycotting the Trump inauguration this week is a symbolic step in that direction. Blue America wants to offer our members an opportunity to show the participants that we support them. Please consider making a symbolic contribution to the reelection campaigns of the members who are taking an early stand against Trumpism.Two weeks ago, Congresswoman Clark told her constituents that she "had hoped the President-elect would use the transition period and his appointments to change course and fulfill his promise to be a President for all Americans; however, this has not been the case. After discussions with hundreds of my constituents, I do not feel that I can contribute to the normalization of the President-elect’s divisive rhetoric by participating in the Inauguration."Similarly, Earl Blumenauer told Oregon Public Broadcasting that "Here is a person who ran a campaign that is the antithesis of everything I’ve worked for in public service" and that that attending "not a productive use of my time."Th[...]

Several Freshman Have Already Proven Themselves To Be Part Of The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 14:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="260" src="//" width="420">Now that the roll call votes are coming fast and furious, the freshmen are beginning to sort themselves out. The new Republicans in Congress are pretty much all cut from the same clothe-- a hopeless mess, barely worth mentioning or thinking about. But what we're seeing on the Democratic side of the aisle is that some freshmen are embracing Democratic values and principles and others are more comfortable slipping into the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. You can't make a judgement like this from one of two votes but there are already patterns emerging after just two weeks of the 115th Congress.Friday there was a vote to grant Trump's Defense Secretary, Mad Dog Mattis, a waiver to serve as Defense Secretary, despite Justin Amash, a libertarian-leaning Republican from Michigan, describing the waiver as a violation of the rule of law. 150 Democrats (+ Amash) voted against the waiver. 36 Democrats crossed the aisle for Mad Dog, mostly New Dems and Blue Dogs, and including these half dozen freshmen: • Lou Correa (CA)• Charlie Crist (FL)• Josh Gottheimer (NJ)• Tom O'Halleran (AZ)• Jimmy Panetta (CA)• Tom Suozzi (NY)Two of them-- Crist and O'Halleran-- aren't even Democrats at all, but opportunistic Republicans who were recruited by an insidious and desperate DCCC. Lou Correa's record in the California legislature clearly predicted he would be among the worst Democrats in Washington, just as he always was in Sacramento. And Gottheimer... this clown has already clearly marked out his territory as the corrupt Wall Street whore who will give Lou Correa a run for his money as to who will be the worst Democrat in the Class of 2016. And that, of course, brings us to the Wall Street votes. The Republicans and a handful of Wall Street-bribed Democrats are determined to roll back Dodd-Frank and the voting on the chipping away of its regulations has begun. There were two such votes on Thursday, one for Ann Wagner's SEC Regulatory Accountability Act and one for Michael Conaway's Commodity End-User Relief Act. Only 9 Democrats voted for the first (including 3 freshmen-- Gottheimer, Suozzi and Nevada conservaDem Jacky Rosen-- and only 7 for there second-- including freshmen Gottheimer and Suozzi.Right from the very beginning of the 115th Congress, the Republicans began by passing some rules to, among other things, wipe out executive orders President Obama had put in place to protect consumers, workers and the environment. Only the 3 most heinous Blue Dogs in Congress-- Kyrsten Sinema, Collin Peterson and Henry Cuellar voted with the GOP... plus one freshman: Josh Gottheimer. Another one of these anti-regulatory bills the GOP loves so much, this one from Bob Goodlatte, H.R. 5, passed with 5 Blue Dogs voting with the GOP, including one freshman Blue Dog, Stephanie Murphy from the Orlando area.Meanwhile, we can see some progressive rising stars developing as well, organizers and leaders who we will be able to count on to help resist Trumpism rather than collaborate with it, first and foremost Pramila Jayapal (WA)-- as far as I know, the only freshman staying away from the glamor of the inauguration-- and Jamie Raskin (MD). Both had clear records of progressive leadership and accomplishment in their respective state legislatures, so it was no surprise when they got to Washington and started blazing a courageous progressive trail there. Another freshman who is already taking strong, principled stands was less predictable, Ro Khanna, from the Silicon Valley seat that Mike Honda occupied for so many years.I was surprised when Honda, who Khanna defeated, asked his allies and supporters to have an open mind towards Khanna and watch him in action. We took that seriou[...]

Not Everyone Hates The Republicans-- The Big Silicon Valley Firms Are Selling Out

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000

You probably saw the new Gallup poll from yesterday showing how badly Trumpanzee is tanking with Americans watching his daily antics during the transition. Independents are sickened by him already and the majority of Americans disapprove of his transition efforts. Trump's 48% transition approval rating in December was already the lowest for any presidential transition Gallup has measured, starting with Bill Clinton's in 1992-1993. Trump's current rating only further separates him from his predecessors -- particularly Barack Obama, who earned 83% approval for his handling of the transition process in January 2009, up from 75% in mid-December 2008... Americans view Trump's Cabinet as worse than the Cabinets chosen by Obama, Bush and Clinton... The chief differentiator for Trump is that many more Americans rate his appointments as "below average" or "poor": 44% say this about Trump's Cabinet choices, compared with 13% for Bush's, 12% for Clinton's and 10% for Obama's. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">But this week Thomas Edsall reported in the NY Times that not everybody is moving in the same direction politically. Silicon Valley seems to have taken a right turn. The political money flow has reversed course-- from Democrats to Republicans over the past cycle. The Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Amazon PACs all contributed money money to Republicans than to Democrats. Employees of these companies are still supporting Democrats over Republicans, but the companies themselves are tilting heavily towards the GOP. As these technology firms have become corporate behemoths, their concerns over government regulatory policy have intensified-- on issues including privacy, taxation, automation and antitrust. These are questions on which they appear to view Republicans as stronger allies than Democrats.In 2016, the PACs of these four firms gave a total of $3.6 million to House and Senate candidates. Of that, $2.1 million went to Republicans, and $1.5 million went to Democrats. These PACs did not contribute to presidential candidates.The PACs stand apart from donations by employees in the technology and internet sectors. According to OpenSecrets, these employees gave $42.4 million to Democrats and $24.2 million to Republicans.In the presidential race, tech employees (as opposed to corporate PACs) overwhelmingly favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Workers for internet firms, for example, gave her $6.3 million, and gave $59,622 to Trump. Employees of electronic manufacturing firms donated $12.6 million to Clinton and $534,228 to Trump.Most tech executives and employees remain supportive of Democrats, especially on social and cultural issues. The Republican tilt of the PACs at Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook suggests, however, that as these companies’ domains grow larger, their bottom-line interests are becoming increasingly aligned with the policies of the Republican Party.In terms of political contributions, Microsoft has led the rightward charge. In 2008, the Microsoft PAC decisively favored Democrats, 60-40, according to data compiled by the indispensable Center for Responsive Politics. By 2012, Republican candidates and committees had taken the lead, 54-46; and by 2016, the Microsoft PAC had become decisively Republican, 65-35.In 2016, the Microsoft PAC gave $478,818 to Republican House candidates and $272,000 to Democratic House candidates. It gave $164,000 to Republican Senate candidates, and $75,000 to Democratic Senate candidates.Microsoft employees’ contributions followed a comparable pattern. In 2008 and 2012, Microsoft workers were solidly pro-Democratic, with 71 percent and 65 percent of their contributions going to party members. By 2016, the company’s work force h[...]

Election results still got you down? Have you tried thinking about the quantity of shrimp consumed in Las Vegas? (Part 2)

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 02:00:00 +0000

Part 2: Bring on the shrimp!That's right, it's about time we talked shrimp."Since the election, I sometimes wake up at three or four in the morning, disturbed by dark thoughts, and when that happens I try my best to think of the surprising amount of shrimp consumed in Las Vegas every day. We all have our own way of dealing with this thing."-- Calvin Trillin, in "Counting Shrimp," in the Jan. 16 New Yorkerby KenOkay, it's time to talk shrimp.Last night we tried one way of dealing with the reality of that, you know, gentleman with the orange hair who is scheduled to swear an incredible oath before the week is over to become the leader of the, you know, Free World. We tried Google's proffered solution of denial, at least insofar as it can be managed via the Chrome browser, through the substitution of pictures of kittens for those of, well, you-know-who.Well enough for those for whom the trick works. But some of us were left in need, and to plug the need we turned to that paragon of wisdom, Calvin Trillin, who in his New Yorker "Shouts and Murmurs" piece "Counting Shrimp" described his strategy -- what I would tend to call "changing the subject" -- as "what might be called replacement denial":In order to avoid dwelling on a depressing or disturbing subject -- the sort of subject that can keep you from falling back asleep -- you concentrate on a subject that is so engrossing that it can drive the depressing subject from your mind.SO WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE SHRIMP?You're probably thinking that it quickly came to Calvin T, in a blinding flash: shrimp consumption in Las Vegas. Not so, however. First he went through a number of other "replacement denial" candidates:• "the ramifications of a similarly surprising fact: the largest state east of the Mississippi, in land area, is Georgia"But alas, "diverting ramifications were not forthcoming." He came up with just one: "that people who are asked to name the largest state east of the Mississippi tend to say that it’s Pennsylvania or Florida -- both states won by the man I was trying to put out of my mind." • "the fact that Edna St. Vincent Millay's middle name is not an old family name, as people tend to assume; she was named for St. Vincent's Hospital, in Greenwich Village"This worked for "a moment or two," but then left him search[ing] my mind for other poets with buildings in their names."The poet's family would presumably have known this view (though it presumably looked better in 1892, when young Edna was born), but while a number of the buildings of the former St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center have been repurposed, the hospital itself is history.• "a few more geographical surprises"The one example we're given: "that the second most populous city in Illinois is Aurora."Aurora, a suburb of Chicago, is a city predominantly in Kane County and DuPage County, with portions extending into Kendall and Will counties. It is located in the outer region of Greater Chicago in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the second most populous city in the state,[3] and the 114th most populous city in the country.[4] The population was 197,899 at the 2010 census, and was estimated to have increased to 199,963 by July 2013.[5]Once a mid-sized manufacturing city, Aurora has grown tremendously since the 1960s. Founded within Kane County, Aurora's city limits and population have since expanded into DuPage, Will, and Kendall counties. Between 2000 and 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Aurora as the 34th fastest growing city in the United States.[6] From 2000 to 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked the city as the 46th fastest growing city with a population of over 100,000.[7]In 1908, Aurora officially adopted the nickname "City of Lights," because it was one of the first cities in the United [...]

Would You Go See The Monster Sworn In?

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 22:00:00 +0000

I'm surprised so few members of Congress have announced they won't be attending the day of infamy coming up known as a 3 Doors Down concert Trump's inauguration. What a monstrous thing to attend. The only excuse I can think of to go would be to cause a ruckus. Otherwise, it's better to stay away. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) had all announced they would be missing the festivities when John Lewis announced yesterday that he's not going either. Grijalva, on the floor of the House, told his colleagues that his absence "is not motivated by disrespect for the office or motivated by disrespect for the government that we have in this great democracy. But as an individual act, yes, of defiance, at the disrespect shown to millions and millions of Americans by this incoming administration and by the actions we are taking in this Congress. Rather than participate in the inauguration, I will be participating in my district and reaffirming and renewing this democracy and the people that are part of it." Ted Lieu's office announced that he'll also be doing something more important. "He is a Colonel in the Air Force Reserves and will be doing his reserve duty." I'd like to see Señor Trumpanzee tweet about that one! This morning Pramila Jayapal told us she's doing a healthcare event in Seattle while Trump is being sworn in. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Tomorrow John Lewis will be on Meet The Press explaining not just why he's not going to his inauguration but why he doesn't even consider Trump a legitimate president. Asked by Chuck Todd whether he would try to forge a relationship with Trump, Lewis said "I believe in forgiveness; I believe in trying to work with people. It's going to be hard... it's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."Asked why he doesn't see Trump as a legitimate president, he said "I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don;'t plan to attend the inauguration, the first one that I'll miss since I've been in the Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong." allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">I don't think anyone who believes in America and who believes in democracy should go. And, Blue America is asking our members to contribute, even if just a token, to the members of Congress who are coming out publicly and saying they won't go. You can visit the page here... or just tap on the thermometer below. And let's keep in mind what Barbara Lee told her constituents about her decision: "Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party. On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance." There are now over a dozen members who have decided to stay away from the Trump inauguration-- probably more because of Trump's vicious twitter attack on John Lewis this morning than because Jennifer Holiday pulled out of the wretched event. The most recent members of Congress to announce they're not attending are Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Mark Takano (D-CA), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI) and Jose Serrano (D-NY), who said he's not attending because he "cannot celebrate the inauguration of a man who has no regard for my constituents." Only a minuscule 9.6% of his constituents voted for Trump.[...]

When It Comes To Denying People Healthcare, The Republicans Are Moving The Ball Forward

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Friday morning Mark Pocan (D-WI), on behalf of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, proposed an amendment to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from Paul Ryan. The amendment codifies what Trump promised over and over again on the campaign trail about not allowing the Republicans to cut Social Security or Medicare. Watch Trump's statement about it from April, 2015: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">And in March 2016, he was still campaigning against Paul Ryan and the House Republicans' plotting against Social Security. Trump is very specific here: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">But every single Republican without exception voted against Pocan's amendment yesterday. Every Democrat voted for it and it was backed by a very wide array of groups, from AARP and the Alliance for Retired Americans to the AFL-CIO and National Nurses United. Co-sponsors included genuine progressives like Ted Lieu, Jamie Raskin, Jim McGovern, Barbara Lee, Judy Chu, Keith Ellison, and Raul Grijalva, right down the food chain to some of the most contemptible reactionary DINOs like Wasserman Schultz, Tom O’Halleran and Sean Patrick Maloney.Ryan had already ordered the Republicans to block the amendment in the Rules Committee and did all he could to keep it from coming up, where Republicans who (falsely) claim to support Social Security and Medicare would be on the record refusing to support it. Kind of puts the lie to fake moderates like Charlie Dent (R-PA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), John Katko (R-NY), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Daniel Donovan (R-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Thomas MacArthur (R-NJ),Alex Mooney (R-WV), David Valadao (R-CA), David Joyce (R-OH), Peter King (R-NY), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ). All of them voted against protecting Social Security and Medicare for their constituents.A few hours later, the House voted on the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act through budgetary reconciliation. First John Yarmuth (D-KY) offered a responsible budgetary substitute, which was defeated 149-272, 37 shitheads from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party crossing the aisle to vote with the GOP: • Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA)• Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)• Julia Brownley (CA)• Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)• Gerald Connolly (New Dem-VA)• Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)• Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA)• Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)• Charlie Crist (FL)• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)• John Delaney (New Dem-MD)• Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)• Bill Foster (New Dem-IL)• Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)• Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)• Derek Kilmer (New Dem-WA)• Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)• Ann Kuster (New Dem-NH)• Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)• Dave Loebsack (IA)• Zoe Lofgren (CA)• Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)• Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)• Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)• Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)• Jared Polis (New Dem-CO)• Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY)• Jacky Rosen (NV)• Raul Ruiz (CA)• Brad Schneider (New Dem-IL)• Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)• Darren Soto (New Dem-FL)• Tom Suozzi (NY)• Niki Tsongas (MA)• Pete Visclosky (IN)• Tim Walz (MN)When the bill itself came up a few minutes later, it passed 227-198, all the Democrats voting against it and 9 Republicans voting with them, mostly becaus[...]

Señor Trumpanzee Has Plans For The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau-- No More Protection For Consumers

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 14:00:00 +0000

This was an exciting week. Trump hasn't even been sworn in yet, but the Republicans and the conservative Dems who back their reactionary agenda are already moving rapidly in Congress towards the reactionary policies they stand for. Most of the ink has been going towards Republican Party plans to re-do-- or at least wreck-- the healthcare system. But the Republicans have big plans to destroy consumer and societal protections in terms of Wall Street as well. As we mentioned the yesterday, they have already begun moving to dismember and eliminate chunks of Dodd-Frank, giving the Wall Street predators, who spent $1,017,812,355 on contributions and lobbying in the 2016 cycle, what they paid for. Republicans got most of the money from the banksters last year. Their top 5 investments in 2016 were for 5 notorious crooks with "for sale" signs sticking out of their asses: • Marco Rubio (R-FL)- $7,801,459• Ted Cruz (R-TX)- $5,447,953• Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- $4,811,054• Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $4,319,564• Rob Portman (R-OH)- $3,054,236Over in the House, the Finance Sector only gave 10 members million dollars or more, the ones who they expect will carry their water most consistently. America would be a much better place if all 10 of these dangerous criminals were permanently behind bars: • Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $4,319,564• Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $2,099,289• Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- $1,381,75• Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)- $1,314,695• Ed Royce (R-CA)- $1,276,649• Steve Stivers (R-OH)- $1,197,620• Pat Tiberi (R-OH)- $1,126,582• Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)- $1,100,132• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)- $1,056,190• Joe Crowley (New Dem-NY)- $1,049,573[Note: the banksters also gave Bob Dold (R-IL) $1,453,738 but he was defeated by another crooked corporate conservative, Brad Schneider (New Dem-IL), who the Finance Sector gave $404,995.] Randy Neugebauer didn't run for reelection this cycle. He represented a big chunk of western north-central Texas-- including Lubbock and Abilene-- from 2003 until last week. A deep red, backward district with a PVI of R+26, Obama only picked up about a quarter of the vote there. In his last reelection bid in 2014, Neugebauer beat his Democratic opponent 77-18%, Two years early he had won with 85% and in 2010 with 78%. In 2011, the National Review dubbed him the "most conservative" member of the House. Neugebauer's step-father was a bankster-- as is his own son-- and Neugebauer was one of Congress' richest members. His son, Toby, gave $10 million to the Ted Cruz presidential campaign. Neugebauer was a notorious bribe-taker and was under investigation for bribery involving a pay day lender scheme-- which he sponsored in the House-- when he suddenly announced he would't run again. He's best known for sponsoring Wall Street special interest bills written by bankster lobbyists (like his anti-regulatory National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act. The Finance Sector rewarded him with $3,456,770 in legalistic bribes during his term in Congress. And he probably hasn't finished serving them yet. Looking for the most corrupt person he could find to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Trump stumbled onto Neugebauer.This week, writing for HuffPo, Ben Walsh and Ryan Grim explained how Trump plans to turn the CFPB into "a weak agency that sides with financial predators over consumers," a slap in the face to his nemesis, Elizabeth Warren. Trump's way of doing that is too appoint Neugebauer to head it. When he was in Congress, Neugebauer opposed CFPB actions like the first-ever federal rule cracking down on payday loans. He labeled the agency’s effort to require payday lenders to take basic steps to ensure [...]

A Handful Of Democrats Are On Board With The GOP To Repeal Dodd Frank

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000

The Republicans have gotten down to brass tacks in terms of dismembering and repealing pieces of Dodd Frank. Thursday they passed two bad bills, Ann Wagner's SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, which passed 243-184, and Michael Conaway's Commodity End-User Relief Act, which passed 239-182. The Republicans got help from a small handful of Democrats who are generally seen as Wall Street allies on each bill-- and populist Walter Jones (R-NC) voted with the Democrats against each.The SEC Regulatory Accountability Act will require the SEC to review the costs of rules and justify the benefits and prohibits the commission from issuing a rule when it cannot make “a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify the costs of the regulation.” These were the bad Democrats who crossed the aisle on this-- plus how much they took from the Finance Sector this past cycle: • Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)- $126,252• Tony Cárdenas (New Dem-CA)- $292,550• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- $219,650• Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)- $884,619• Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)- $456,441• Jacky Rosen (D-NV)- $131,157• Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)- $204,475• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)- $1,056,190• Tom Suozzi (D-NY)- $379,200The idea behind the Commodity End-User Relief Act is to get rid of the ability of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to set position limits on commodities, agricultural as well as metals, oil, gasoline and natural gas. The position limits were included in Dodd-Frank because speculative trading-- i.e., gambling-- had driven up the costs of gasoline, diesel and other commodities and contributed to the 2007-08 financial crisis. The banksters who pay off members of Congress want to be able to continue speculating and running up their own commissions. These are the 7 Democrats who voted with the Republicans-- along with the amount they took this cycle from the Finance Sector: • Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)- $126,252• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- $219,650• Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)- $884,619• Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)- $456,441• David Scott (New Dem-GA)- $595,490• Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)- $1,056,190• Tom Suozzi (D-NY)- $379,200Not even the ultimate Wall Street puppets-- Jim Himes, Joe Crowley, Sean Patrick Maloney and John Maloney-- could bring themselves to vote for these two crap bills. Pelosi should never have appointed Gottheimer to the House Financial Services Committee. That was a terrible move, one we will all regret. But she made a good mover yesterday in appointing Ro Khanna (D-CA) to the Budget Committee. During the election, watching the tremendous amount of Wall Street cash ($919,601) flowing into Khanna's campaign coffers, I was outspokenly worried about him being another Wall Street shill like Gottheimer. But it looks like I was wrong. So far he's proven himself to be exactly what he said he would be-- am outspoken progressive, standing up for working families. Yesterday on his Facebook page, he posted an unfortunate picture of Cory Booker with an article about how he sold out on Big Pharma Wednesday night-- along with this message: "I stand with Bernie Sanders in supporting lowering drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada. I am deeply disappointed in the 13 Senate Democrats who voted against this. The pharmaceutical lobby has way too much influence. It's why I am proud to be one of six members of Congress not to take PAC money and believe we need to ban PAC money from Congress." This morning Khanna told me that he said "throughout the campaign that the two biggest policy mistakes of our time we're the war in Iraq and the repeal[...]

Election results still got you down? Have you tried thinking about the quantity of shrimp consumed in Las Vegas? (Part 1)

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 02:00:00 +0000

Part 1: You've already tried the Google Chromekittens-replacement trick, right?[Click to enlarge.]by KenYou've probably noticed the apparent disconnect between the two questions in the post title: "Election results still got you down?" and "Have you tried thinking about the quantity of shrimp consumed in Las Vegas?" Well, the disconnect is the whole point. In a New Yorker "Shouts and Murmurs" piece, Calvin Trillin is hoping that the second question will help divert a person -- himself, for example -- from the nagging first question.Let's first go back to that first proposition: "Election results still got you down?" This is of course utterly understandable.ONE TECHNIQUE IS AVOIDANCEAnd early in the presidential-election jamboree Google came up with an extension for its Chrome browser designed to assist us in avoiding the subject. Here's the start of Karen Fratti's explanation of how the thing works, in "Replace every picture of Trump with kittens thanks to this life-saving Chrome extension," last month on The Frisky:As much as it’s important to stay angry and vigilant and not normalize anything about Donald Trump or anyone who advises him, it’s almost important to take care of yourself during these trying times. And this Chrome extension that replaces Trump with pictures of kittens is a step in the right direction. This way, you get the headlines and all the terrible news that will still make your blood pressure rise, but you don’t have to look at that smug, orange face.Seriously, if you look too closely at the president-elect, it makes everything worse. The extension is called “Make America Kittens Again” and if you try it on a site like say, The New York Times, where there are pictures of that jerk giving the thumbs up or yelling at a podium on his “thank you tour” all over the place, you really get the full effect. Seriously, try it. It might make you feel better. Maybe.It’s not just pictures of Trump, either. The extension looks for headlines with Trump’s name in them (which is prety much every headline these days) and changes EVERY PICTURE on the website. So, you don’t have to look at Eric’s weasel eyes, or Ben Carson mouth-breathing, or even Kellyanne Conway. They made Kellyanne Conway go away, god bless their souls. . . .And here are examples supplied by Nayhomi Reghay, on The Daily Dot:[Click to enlarge.]Unfortunately, everyone who's written about Google's Make America Kittens Again seems to agree that, on the sheerly technical level, even with improvements, the extension, while it works pretty well in certain circumstances (and only with Chrome, of course), works noticeably less well in many others. And that's without asking the question, does replacing you-know-whom with a kitten really lift your spirits? After all, it's just a picture-replacement trick. The reality is still out there, doing what, you know, it does.WHICH BRINGS US TO A SECONDTECHNIQUE: MIND DIVERSIONMaybe we could get our minds to focus on, um, something else. Most anything else. Which is where Calvin Trillin's Las Vegas-shrimp-consumption trick comes in."Since the election," he writes in the January 17 New Yorker "Shouts and Murmurs" piece,I sometimes wake up at three or four in the morning, disturbed by dark thoughts, and when that happens I try my best to think of the surprising amount of shrimp consumed in Las Vegas every day. We all have our own way of dealing with this thing.The trick he came up with, he says, is a specialized form of what I'm calling "mind diversion" -- "what might be ca[...]

Will The Republicans Replace The Affordable Care Act With Putincare?

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 22:00:00 +0000

Last night-- late last night-- the Senate began the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act by approving, 51-48, a budget blueprint that would allow them-- using a tactic called "reconciliation"-- to gut the health care law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster. Every Democrat voted against it-- even the worst conservatives-- and with the exception of Rand Paul, every Republ;I can voted for it, including fake moderates like Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dean Heller (R-NV). The GOP claims it has a mandate even though they lost seats in both houses of Congress and Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million and probably only won because of Russian tampering with the election process. The Affordable Care Act has become ingrained in the American health care system, and unwinding it will be a formidable challenge for Republicans. More than 20 million people have gained coverage under the law, though premiums have risen sharply in many states and some insurers have fled the law’s health exchanges.The budget blueprint instructs House and Senate committees to come up with repeal legislation by Jan. 27....Republicans do not have an agreement even among themselves on the content of legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, the timetable for votes on such legislation or its effective date.Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said on Wednesday that she agreed with Mr. Trump that Congress should repeal the health law and adopt a replacement plan at about the same time.“But I don’t see any possibility of our being able to come up with a comprehensive reform bill that would replace Obamacare by the end of this month,” she said. “I just don’t see that as being feasible.” (Ms. Collins also supported pushing back the deadline to come up with repeal legislation.)As Republicans pursue repealing the law, Democrats contend that Republicans are trying to rip insurance away from millions of Americans with no idea of what to do next.What they're trying to do is even worse-- rewrite the entire American social contract they always opposed going back to the progressive strides made by FDR and LBJ to build a strong, vibrant middle class. As Richard Florida explained in a classic tweet storm Thursday morning about Trumpism as the Triumph of Take Capitalism, Trumpism-- not just Trump but the collection of rogues in his administration-- represents the triumph of the Takers (oil, finance and real estate) over the Makers (high tech, innovation, creativity...). "Another way to think about this is that Trump represents the triumph of 'regressive' capitalism over 'progressive' capitalism. Trump himself is a master manipulator of the media-- a product and propagator of the new age of dumbed-down Kardashianized Authoritarianism. • The contradictions of progressive capitalism can lead to socialism or social democracy or more inclusive capitallism• The contradictions of regressive capitalism lead to something very different and much uglier...• On the domestic side, Trumpism is pure oligarchism-- the plundering ("privatization") of all remaining public assets...•... and reverse robin hood in the largest tax cuts in history. The rich get richer. Most of all Trump himself.• This combination of racism, sexism, manliness and xenophobia is very powerful, especially for white men who feel they are losing control...Let's take three states-- New York, Florida and Michigan-- and look, county by county, at how many people will lose health insurance if the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act. For each county I've also including the perce[...]

How Police Use Military Technology to Secretly & Persistently Track You

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="236" src="" width="420">Persistent Surveillance Systems, used for "pre-event forensics, tracking targets in real time, and post-event forensics." Pre-event forensics? This isn't just about parades and demonstrations. It means constantly taping large areas of a city just in case an unplanned event (explosion, a murder) should occur. by Gaius PubliusWe could make some grand statement about the nature of surveillance in 21st Century America — there's certainly a grand and frightening statement to be made — but that would obscure the detail. (Do note, though, when you watch the videos, how much the American need for extreme Public Safety — "Daddy, keep us safe" — is invoked in justifying these intrusions.)That said, from a recent Rolling Stone report on surveillance in Baltimore, here is just the detail, how Americans are being watched by cops of all stripes.▪ Large urban areas are constantly photographed from 10,000 feet. Using multiple cameras in a plane flying at 10,000 feet and computer-driven "image stitching" software, police can photograph all open traffic and human interactions in five-mile square urban area for hours — and archive everything for later use.This creates a storable, searchable, time-lapse wide-area "movie" of all street movement. Watch the video above to see it in action. Note that only at the end of the video are privacy issues even mentioned. Note also that the "events" discussed aren't just planned events, like parades and demonstration, but also events not announced ahead of time, like murders. "Pre-event forensics" assumes constant "just in case" surveillance.This kind of surveillance is happening now in at least one American city, Baltimore. Benjamin Powers, writing at Rolling Stone (emphasis mine):Eyes Over Baltimore: How Police Use Military Technology to Secretly Track You"They view people as enemy combatants," says activist, as cops adopt surveillance, tracking, facial recognition programs designed for war zones When protesters took to the street after police shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, they were greeted by law enforcement in full body armor, flanked by armored vehicles. In the two and a half years and countless shootings since, militarized police have become an all too familiar sight. In response, citizens have overwhelmingly begun to film these interactions on their smartphones, making the technology the eyes of our nation. But as we watch the police, they also watch us – only they don't use an iPhone. Often, they use military grade surveillance equipment that gives them a much broader view than simple cell phone cameras ever could.The city of Baltimore has, in many ways, become ground zero for the military surveillance technology that is slowly making its way from the battlefields into the hands of police departments across the country. From January to October of last year, police monitored Baltimore's citizens using a Cessna airplane outfitted with military grade surveillance technologies multiple times, without their knowledge, that were developed for overseas war zones. The Baltimore Police Department has used surveillance technology such as large-scale aerial surveillance, advanced cell phone tracking and facial recognition technology on Baltimore's citizens, yet these technologies have had little to no oversight from city government, and most have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Examined together, these surveillance technologies demonstrate an extended reco[...]

77% Of Americans Consider Drug Prices Unreasonably High-- But Cory Booker And Most Republicans Don't Care

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 14:00:00 +0000

I never had asthma or needed an inhaler. But then I got treated for cancer. Eventually, one of the side effects was pneumonia and, over a year later, I still have a wretched barking cough. I have to use an asthma inhaler. With the only bad part of Medicare-- the GOP's horrific Part D-- in play it costs me about $70 a month for the medicine, up considerably-- like double-- over last year. I ran out of it while I was in Thailand this month. So I went to a pharmacy there. The price was something like $6.50. I stocked up.Most Americans-- by far-- are pissed off about high drug prices and want action from Congress. But Members of Congress take massive bribes from the drug companies and consistently refuse to help. Last September a poll from the Kaiser Foundation found that 82% of Americans want Medicare to negotiate prices with the drug companies. Congress refuses. 78% favors limiting the amount companies can charge for high-cost drugs, such as those that fight cancer or hepatitis and Congress doesn't care. And more than two-thirds want to let Americans buy drugs imported from Canada, another divergence with Congress. 77% of Americans consider drug costs unreasonable.Wednesday night the Senate voted on Amy Klobuchar's and Bernie Sanders' amendment "to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund relating to lower prescription drug prices for Americans by importing drugs from Canada." It failed 46-52 and it was very much not a party-line vote, even if most Democrats backed it and most Republicans opposed it. The power of Big Pharma is immense and it came down strong on this vote, pulling the worst of the corporate Democrats across the aisle into GOP territory.First the dozen Republicans who decided to stick up for their constituents and who crossed the aisle in the other direction: • John Boozman (R-AR)• Susan Collins (R-ME)• Ted Cruz (R-TX)• Jeff Flake (R-AZ)• Chuck Grassley (R-IA)• Dean Heller (R-NV)• John Kennedy (R-LA)• Mike Lee (R-UT)• John McCain (R-AZ)• Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)• Rand Paul (R-KY)• John Thune (R-SD)Those were the Republicans who understood the appeal-- voiced by Klobuchar-- that "Canadian families right across our northern border pay on average half as much for their prescription drugs, but laws currently on the book prevent American families from buying these cheaper alternatives." These are the 13 Democrats who didn't want to hear it-- and how much they have taken in legalistic bribes from the pharmaceutical industry: • Patty Murray (D-WA)- $893,626• Robert Menendez (D-NJ)- $795,895• Bob Casey (D-PA)- $628,329• Michael Bennet (D-CO)- $506,067• Tom Carper (D-DE)- $470,674• Cory Booker (D-NJ)- $385,678• Mark Warner (D-VA)- $317,200• Chris Coons (D-DE)- $292,700• Joe Donnelly (D-IN)- $272,533• Jon Tester (D-MT)- $176,550• Martin Heinrich (D-NM)- $176,039• Maria Cantwell (D-WA)- $173,625• Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)- $69,525Cory Booker wants to be the Democrats' nominee for president in 2020. It helps explain his unprecedented testimony against a fellow senator, Jeff Sessions, this week. Sessions is a bona fide Democratic bête noire and Booker's self-serving testimony got great reviews-- although not from the far right. On his Facebook page Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote: "I’m very disappointed that Senator Booker has chosen to start his 2020 presidential campaign by testifying against Senator Sessions. This disgraceful breach of custom is especially surprising since Senator Booker just last year said he was 'honored to have partnered with Senator Sessions' on a re[...]

Inauguration Day Weather Forecast: 54 Degrees, Cloudy, Light Wind, Chance Of Golden Showers

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:00:00 +0000

-by Skip KaltenheuserIf the as yet unverified and unsubstantiated report on Russian spies with Trump scandals in their pockets turns out to be even half true, I’ll be gobsmacked. It would be hard to comprehend that when Trump-- a global traveler with insights into the underworld and anything-goes weasels like Roy Cohn-- was traveling in Russia he didn’t quickly grasp that many hotels, loaded with hookers with mobster supervisors, would have rooms wired for surveillance. That could only be ignored by someone with no control over his appetites and/or is a risk-adrenaline junkie and/or is an exhibitionist on an unimagined scale.Many years ago I stayed in the Cosmos, originally built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, legendary for KGB surveillance targeting guests throughout the massive 1,777 room hotel. No idea if anyone there now watches the lives of others, but when I was there my jaw dropped at hookers-- stunning, roped in from slavic regions, the Ukraine, Georgia, the Balkans, etc...-- parading back and forth on a narrow path along the sides of the huge lobby and up on to a balcony walkway and around and back down to a lobby bar to linger for a tea and conversation. They weren’t allowed to traverse the main area of the lobby so guests wouldn’t panic. Elevators were watched by guys in suits with long scars on their face who kept tabs on their temptresses and watched the clock to make sure that after their original mission they didn’t linger upstairs for a freelance quickie-- girls still tried, adding new context to "elevator pitches." The Chinese are more subtle, but they pull those stunts, too. Perhaps they share a lending library with the Russians. Nothing new here, friends in China swear to me that the Chinese have the goods on a Nixon dalliance from when he passed through Hong Kong. Nothing would surprise.But I’ve been skeptical about Putin’s hack/leaks involvement, been hard to fully embrace it. Now we’re all parsing Buzzfeed’s offering, which left me in danger of drifting from my anchor of healthy skepticism. Keep reminding oneself that as of this writing, the reports are still not verified and authenticated. I trust legions of journalists are now taking that on, I hope with more success avoiding echo-chambers that trapped them during the election season.Listening now to Trump’s press conference, the denials came across as spirited and initially somewhat nimble, though parts of the conference were retreats into retreads from campaign speeches. But there seems to be a time limit or pressure point after which Mr. Hyde surfaces, as when Trump jumped down a CNN reporter’s throat. He dodged questions on contacts between his associates and Russia, then concluded the press conference when that question circled back.Trump’s legal eagles make plausible-sounding defenses of non-divestment trust strategies for family business interests. They were stepped on by Trump's claim that if he had to he had the ability to ably run both his company and his country, and no doubt several alternate Earths as well. But some of that defense amounted to throwing everything into a ball of confusion and implying well, what’s a wild and free-roaming mogul to do? I look forward to seeing conflict-of-interest experts tackle it.Here’s some WaPo fact-checking on Trump’s press conference. And here’s the NY Times fact-check take. Here’s the transcript and video if you want to try your hand.Back to hack, I can’t help but observe that recently Trump often wears an expression[...]

Crime Watch: Incoming! Beware of flying cheese!

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 02:00:00 +0000

Um, weaponized cheese?

There are 8 million stories in the Naked City, and some of them are stories you know are serious but you nevertheless can't resist, you know, smiling at. Possibly even guffawing. Like this story from our Crime Watch team. -- Ken



Man Chucks Block of Cheese at Morton Williams Shopper, Police Say

By Shaye Weaver |
Updated January 9, 2017 8:29am

The Morton Williams at 1066 Third Ave.

UPPER EAST SIDE -- A man threw a block of cheese at a Morton Williams shopper during an argument outside the grocery store Wednesday night, police said.

Barry Bernstein, 62, got into a argument with a 38-year-old Brooklyn man, who was about to enter the 1066 Third Ave. store near 73rd Street just before 9 p.m., according to a police report.

During the dispute, Bernstein threw a block of cheese at the man's stomach causing "substantial pain," police said.

It was unknown what type of cheese it was or what the argument was about, police said.

Bernstein was charged with assault and harassment and was released without bail. He's due back in court on Feb. 22, records show.

His attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.
Offered without further comment, except maybe to underscore the line: "It was unknown what type of cheese it was or what the argument was about, police said."

Republican Person Of The Year Nominee #5 -- and Winner!

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 22:00:00 +0000

2016 In Review: America Off The Rails, Part 10"A mind sequestered in its own delusions is to reason invincible."-- Dante[You can click on nearly all the cartoons to enlarge.]by NoahYou know who it has to be. There can only be one winner in the race to total republican douchebaggery. The winner has to be someone who exemplifies and embodies a lionshare of the delusional dysfunction, insanity, anger born of frustration of all kinds, wackjob qualities, and bigotries that make up the republican ideal.Many felt called; the republican primary race alone had 17 or 18 contestants. All felt entitled. All were considered for my contest as well. Think of them (I know you'd rather not): Bush, Fiorina, Perry, Carson, Christie .  . I'll just stop there. I don't want any of you DWT readers getting sick from the images and wacko pronouncements of these societal low-lights being burned into your brains.There were so many others I could have nominated, but I decided to stick with a few of the "big names." Gingrich, Priebus, the half-dozen or so governors I mentioned in America Off The Rails, Part 7: McCrory, LePage, Brownback, Walker, et al. There was a sort of sub-winner among the governors, Rick "Let Them Drink Lead" Snyder, who garnered special attention because, while the other governors caused mayhem and oppression for the citizens of their states, Snyder actually poisoned his subjects. Poisoned! My, that's special!The Republican Party also has a fine bench of up-and-comers. There's a whole petri dish of reprobate republicans in our future. They include Utah's camera-hogging cockroach Jason Chaffetz, who currently infests the U.S. House of Representatives. Yay, Utah! You must be so proud!Then there's South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, who, along with Chaffetz, led the umpteenth dumbass inquisition of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over, dare I write the word, Benghazi. Don't you love how Gowdy goes out of his way to constantly mention that he is a lawyer, because he thinks that gives him validity and weight? No, Trey, it doesn't. All it shows is that, deep down, you know everything coming out of your mouth is absolute dogshit -- dogshit with worms.Readers will note that I didn't nominate any Republican women. Yes, I know they exist, but this is the Republican Party we're talking about. I could have nominated Kellyanne Konartist, but, despite the bang-up job she did for His Not-So-Excellency, I decided to go with living Republicans, not zombie ones.Likewise, Vladimir Putin was not considered, for citizenship reasons. Sad. He might have won. Loser.But I am fair to the female gender, and for that reason I have made an arbitrary executive decision and decided, at the very last minute, that the winner of my little contest should not be called Republican Of The Year, but Republican Person Of The Year. I know the winner will especially appreciate that.SO HERE YOU ARE, COMRADE TRUMP!You are officially declared my 2016 Republican Person Of The Year. Really, could the winner have been anyone else? I know how you love to be called a winner. Even better, since you are a cartoon (a sick one at that), and so much has been written about you and will be written about you in the future, I have decided that the best way to depict your person-ish essence is to just show your qualifications via cartoon.2016 IN REVIEW: AMERICA OFF THE RAILSHere it is, Noah's completed Year in Review for 2016:Part 1, "Profiles in Cowardice: The Electoral College" (12/23/2[...]

Who’s Blackmailing the President & Why Aren't Democrats Upset About It?

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="236" src="" width="420">Deep State to Trump: "You know what you have to hide. So do we. Are you feeling lucky?"by Gaius PubliusUntil now, getting into the news and reports about Russia and Trump meant getting into some rather dense weeds (PDF of declassified report here), but with the recent release by Buzzfeed of the full 35-page dossier on Trump and Russia (the explosive one, with the women peeing on Obama's former hotel room bed), which was distilled into a two-page appendix in the classified version of the report, the road to clarity just presented itself. So I offer the text of three tweets (mine), a longer discussion of those main points, and comments by Glenn Greenwald on the latest Trump-Russia-intel community contretemps. Everything else, as I now see it, is detail, a gloss on these three points.First, the tweets, a bullet-point capsule of all the main points up to now:1) It certainly looks like our Security State is using Russian blackmail material against Trump to blackmail him for their own purposes.— Gaius Publius (@Gaius_Publius) January 11, 20173) is this difference in treatment obvious only to me, or is the nation noticing as well? If so, not good for "usual Dems" & their cred.— Gaius Publius (@Gaius_Publius) January 11, 2017This hits, I think, the main elements to watch in tightly compressed form. Read on for the long version of these three points. Click here to jump ahead to Greenwald's take on all this.Blackmailing the U.S. President As I said above, there only three elements to "get" to get this story. First, there's the blackmail element. According to the 35-page dossier, Russia (supposedly) prepared blackmail material on Trump but isn't using it.But it's clear that American intelligence services certainly are using it, or using the threat of using it, and doing so very publicly (per CNN, quoted here, my emphasis):One reason the nation's intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN."For your information, sir"? Or "Careful; you don't know what all us intel types know about you ... sir"? Again, Trump was presented with just a two-page summary of the full dossier. The actual information, which we have thanks to the later publication of the 35-page dossier, was reportedly not presented to him, perhaps to leave to his imagination what it contained.Now the detail: According to an ex-MI6 (the British CIA) agent, whose dossier, I understand from talking with journalists, was shopped around to a number of publications and rejected as unreliable before it seems to have found a home on David Corn's desk — according to this ex-agent, Russia had assembled a fair amount of blackmail material on Donald Trump, including his sexual practices while staying at first-class hotels in Russia. But Russia, we're told, isn't using the material against him since Trump is in sync with their goals anyway.American sources, however, have published this material since it came to them as well from the same ex-MI6 agent. In other words, the 35-page dossier was available both to American intel services and the U.S. press becau[...]

Pelosi Upping The Democrats' Game At The House Judiciary Committee For The Age Of Trump

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:00:00 +0000

Last week, we predicted that Pelosi would appoint the biggest Wall Street shill among the new freshmen, Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), to the biggest fount of congressional corruption, the House Financial Services Committee. The Finance Sector and the Wall Street banksters financed Gottheimer's election and they expect him to return the favor going forward. Yesterday, Pelosi, gave Wall Street and Gottheimer what they wanted. Placing a corrupt scumbag on the committee, along with two other freshmen sleaze bags, Charlie Crist (FL) and Vicente Gonzalez (TX).One watch dog type, not there for the bribes-- Ruben Kihuen (D-NV)-- was put on the committee to help the few honest members-- Maxine Waters, Keith Ellison, Mike Capuano-- hold the banksters accountable and keep an eye on the crooked Democrats who are part of that committee's sewer (Jim Himes, Kyrsten Sinema, Denny Heck, Terri Sewell, John Delaney, Gregory Meeks, William Lacy Clay, David Scott...).But there was one committee, where it was apparent Pelosi thought long and hard about making appointments, the huge potential Age of Trump battleground-- House Judiciary. Senior members, John Conyers and Jerry Nadler, already do an amazing job there but Pelosi decided to send her best reinforcements to the committee that is likely to be the tip of the spear in the battle to protect Americans from Trump (and Sessions). Before she even got to the freshmen, she appointed Ted Lieu (D-CA), the best possible selection, to the committee. Lieu, in a statement to the press pointed out why this assignment is so crucial. "As a former prosecutor, one of only a handful of immigrants serving in Congress, and the only Democrat with a computer science degree, I hope I can bring a unique perspective to the committee charged with overseeing our nation’s administration of law and justice.  The Judiciary Committee was my first choice because of the numerous critical issues over which the Committee has jurisdiction, such as immigration, civil liberties, criminal justice reform, privacy, and encryption. The Judiciary Committee takes on exceptional importance given the prior statements of Trump-- who lost the popular vote-- in which he advocated for a Muslim-American registry as well as the deportation of millions of people, which would include children, high school, and college students who are undocumented. I will fight like hell on the Judiciary Committee to stop all unconstitutional, discriminatory and stupid ideas by our next President." Ted is one of the few members of Congress to go to the secret room without any recording devises (including no pens or pencils) to read the classified intelligence report on Russian hacking. Here's the statement he issued this morning: I have now read the highly classified intelligence report on Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.  I analyzed the report from my perspective as a computer science major and as a Member of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee.Here is my reaction: there is clear and convincing evidence to support the conclusions of the intelligence community as set forth in the unclassified version of the report.  Russian hacking of Americans and American political organizations during the 2016 U.S. presidential election was multifaceted and brazen, with the goals of undermining faith in the U.S. democrat[...]