Jared Kushner Tapped to “Fix Government with Business Ideas”

From the Washington Post

President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises — such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction — by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.

The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.’

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How is This Still a Thing? What is Happening?

Didn’t we agree, like, thousands of years ago, that the earth is not flat? So what the hell is happening?

I mean… don’t get me wrong… I know that there are still people who genuinely believe the earth is flat. But they’ve always been… like… fringe of the fringe. Even most know Young-Earth Creationists agree that the earth isn’t flat! Like… if Ken Hamm agrees that the earth is not flat, then maybe… you know… that’s a piece of science we can all agree on, right?

So what the hell is going on? Why is famous person after famous person coming forward to say that they think is the earth is flat?

Even People magazine noticed this

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Keystone XL Pipeline a Go… Maybe…

Welp… this is bad news mixed with some spotty hope…

From Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration approved TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, cheering the oil industry and angering environmentalists even as further hurdles for the controversial project loom.

The approval reverses a decision by former President Barack Obama to reject the project, but the company still needs to win financing, acquire local permits, and fend off likely legal challenges for the pipeline to be built.

“TransCanada will finally be allowed to complete this long-overdue project with efficiency and with speed,” Trump said in the Oval Office before turning to ask TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russell Girling when construction would start.

“We’ve got some work to do in Nebraska to get our permits there,” Girling replied.

“Nebraska?” Trump said. “I’ll call Nebraska.”

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How the GOP Health Care Proposal Hurts Mental Health

Let’s get a little more specific, shall we? From the Pacific Standard

One of Congress’ rare bipartisan victories under the Obama administration was the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill hastily passed last December that, among other provisions, intended to allocate $6.8 million to mental-health services and expand access to services on both a federal and state level. Despite the bill’s financial pittance, as well as mounting complaints that other provisions within the bill adversely affect Medicare while aiding pharmaceutical companies’ bottom lines, the 21st Century Cures Act was hailed as a symbolic, yet necessary, victory for a divided Congress. The message was clear: mental health matters.

But now, as the Trump administration’s contentious health-care bill comes to a vote on the House floor later today, Congress finds itself more divided than ever — even within the Republican Party itself. With less care at higher costs, constituents of all political leanings are worried about what a change could mean for their coverage: a group that includes the millions of people who rely on Obamacare for their mental-health treatment. Roughly 42.5 million Americans deal with mental illness each year; about one out of five adults. What would this change mean for them?

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Late GOP Proposal for Health Care is Sicker Than Imagined

From the New York Times

Why should a 60-year-old man have to buy a plan that includes maternity benefits he’ll never use? (This is an example that comes up a lot.) In contrast, the Affordable Care Act includes a list of benefits that have to be in every plan, a reality that makes insurance comprehensive, but often costly.

I mean…

At first glance, this may sound like a wonderful policy. Why should that 60-year-old man have to pay for maternity benefits he will never use? If 60-year-old men don’t need to pay for benefits they won’t use, the price of insurance will come down, and more people will be able to afford that coverage, the thinking goes. And people who want fancy coverage with extra benefits can just pay a little more for the plan that’s right for them.

Most Republicans in Congress prefer the type of health insurance market in which everyone could “choose the plan that’s right for them.”

Why should a 60-year-old man have to buy a plan that includes maternity benefits he’ll never use? (This is an example that comes up a lot.) In contrast, the Affordable Care Act includes a list of benefits that have to be in every plan, a reality that makes insurance comprehensive, but often costly.

Now, a group of conservative House members is trying to cut a deal to get those benefit requirements eliminated as part of the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act moving through Congress. (The vote in the House is expected later today.)

At first glance, this may sound like a wonderful policy. Why should that 60-year-old man have to pay for maternity benefits he will never use? If 60-year-old men don’t need to pay for benefits they won’t use, the price of insurance will come down, and more people will be able to afford that coverage, the thinking goes. And people who want fancy coverage with extra benefits can just pay a little more for the plan that’s right for them.

But there are two main problems with stripping away minimum benefit rules. One is that the meaning of “health insurance” can start to become a little murky. The second is that, in a world in which no one has to offer maternity coverage, no insurance company wants to be the only one that offers it.

Below the fold is a list of all the things Rethugs are trying to cut…

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Neil Gorsuch’s First Hearing…

From Reuters

Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, on Monday emphasized the need for judicial independence even as Trump castigates jurists who have ruled against him, while Democrats questioned whether he would rule against abortion rights and gun control while favoring corporations.

With the ideological balance of the Supreme Court at stake, the Senate Judiciary Committee opened its confirmation hearing for Gorsuch, a conservative federal appeals court judge from Colorado. Republicans praised Gorsuch, 49, as highly qualified for a lifetime appointment as a justice.

“I think we’re off to a good start,” Republican Chuck Grassley, the committee’s chairman, said afterward, with senators getting their first shot at questioning Gorsuch on Tuesday.

Committee Democrats noted Gorsuch has the chance to join the court only because Senate Republicans last year refused to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama’s nomination of federal appellate judge Merrick Garland. Despite slim chances of blocking his nomination in the Republican-led Senate, Democrats raised questions about Gorsuch’s suitability for the job.

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The Entire Narrative Surrounding Mike Brown’s Murder Was a Lie

Remember Michael Brown? You really should.

The shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a northern suburb of St. Louis. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer, after reportedly robbing a convenience store. The initially disputed circumstances of the shooting sparked existing tensions in the predominantly black city, where protests and civil unrest erupted. The events received considerable attention in the U.S. and elsewhere, attracting protesters from outside the region. They generated a vigorous national debate about the relationship between law enforcement and African Americans, and about police use-of-forcedoctrine in Missouri and nationwide. A St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, and he was exonerated of criminal wrongdoing by the United States Department of Justice.

On Wednesday, March 15th, Michael Harriot published an article at The Root meant to correct public misconceptions around what happened. I feel it is important to share this here…

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And Here’s 19 Agencies Agent Orange Wants to Completely Cut

From the Washington Post

President Trump released his much-anticipated budget on Thursday, and the funding cuts are being dissected left and right.

There are 19 federal agencies that have the distinction of facing a 100 percent cut — i.e. extinction. The cuts to these agencies total about $3 billion. They offset about 6 percent of the $54 billion Trump wants to add in military spending.

Below the fold I’ll just list the 19 agencies and link to their homepages. Go to WaPo for more info…

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Like I Said… Agent Orange Actively Wants to Make Climate Change Worse

So here’s what Conspiracy-Theorist-in-Chief wants to do to the EPA (from the Washington Post):

The Trump administration plans to take a sledgehammer to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Thursday’s proposal by the White House would slash the EPA’s budget by 31 percent — nearly one third — from its current level of $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion. It would cut 3,200 positions, or more than 20 percent of the agency’s current workforce of about 15,000.

“You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it. So, I guess the first place that comes to mind will be the Environmental Protection Agency,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters. “The president wants a smaller EPA. He thinks they overreach, and the budget reflects that.”

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Rep. Steve King Doubles Down on White Supremacy

Most of y’all probably already know about his low-key White-Supremacist tweet in support of racist, right-wing politician Geert Wilders.

Well… he’s decided to double-down on it

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