Comments

  1. says

    Even when he’s not filling top leadership roles, Trump is filling the swamp. His administration is swamp alligators all the way, from top to bottom. From the New York Times:

    […] President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck.

    The potential conflicts are arising across the executive branch, according to an analysis of recently released financial disclosures, lobbying records and interviews with current and former ethics officials by The New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/15/us/politics/trump-appointees-potential-conflicts.html

    So, yeah, Trump is appointing lobbyists to government positions.

    One such case involves Michael Catanzaro, who serves as the top White House energy adviser. Until late last year, he was working as a lobbyist for major industry clients such as Devon Energy of Oklahoma, an oil and gas company, and Talen Energy of Pennsylvania, a coal-burning electric utility, as they fought Obama-era environmental regulations, including the landmark Clean Power Plan. Now, he is handling some of the same matters on behalf of the federal government. […]

    Mr. Catanzaro was registered for Talen Energy on the Clean Power Plan in 2015, yet he has worked in recent months as a senior member of the White House’s National Economic Council trying to roll back that rule, adopted by the Obama administration.

    Mr. Catanzaro’s former clients, such as Talen and Devon Energy, have an enormous amount at stake in the regulations the White House is preparing to reverse — with his help. Talen, for example, helps operate the Colstrip power plant in Montana, the second-largest coal-burning plant west of the Mississippi. Federal officials have estimated that the plant could face a $1.2 billion bill as it makes updates to meet the new environmental standards, assuming it is not just closed.

    Three industry lobbyists interviewed by The Times said that they recently had confidential conversations with Mr. Catanzaro about some of the same regulatory matters on which he was lobbying the federal government. And Mr. Catanzaro gave a briefing to reporters in March at the White House in which he discussed energy topics at length, including the details related to the executive order Mr. Trump signed on March 28 to weaken the Clean Power Plan.

    Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is also in bed with Devon Energy.

    Team Trump continues to claim that they are “draining the swamp.” In the statement in which they announced they would keep White House visitor logs secret, this gem was buried: “[Team Trump is] instituting historic restrictions on lobbying to close the revolving door.”

    Say one thing. Do the opposite.

  2. says

    “Mississippi is rejecting nearly all of the poor people who apply for welfare: And the state won’t explain why.”:

    Last year, 11,717 low-income residents of Mississippi applied to get a meager government benefit to help them make ends meet. The state’s welfare program, part of federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), gives a maximum of just $170 a month to a family of three. These applicants had applied hoping to get at least that crumb of cash assistance.

    But out of the pool—more than 11 thousand—only 167 people were actually approved and enrolled in the program, according to state data obtained by ThinkProgress. Every other applicant was denied or withdrew, resulting in an acceptance rate of just 1.42 percent. Statistically speaking, it’s more like a rounding error.

    The numbers follow a disturbing trend in the state over the past several years. Between 2003 and 2010, according to a report by the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI), roughly half of the applicants to the state’s TANF program were rejected, already a large share of poor people denied assistance. But then in 2011, the rejection rate catapulted to 89 percent. It has gradually increased every year since….

  3. says

    The oddity of Trump having established a 2020 campaign for the presidency immediately is partially explained by the fact that he is profiting off the campaign. He is using it for income.

    […] new Federal Election Commission disclosures filed on Friday show [that in] the first quarter of 2017, Trump’s 2020 campaign and party committees spent close to $500,000 at Trump brand properties, according to a tabulation by the Wall Street Journal.

    According to the filings, the campaign spent more than $6.3 million in the first quarter of 2017. […] nearly $300,000 in rent to Trump Tower, where the campaign is headquartered, nearly $60,000 for lodging at Trump’s West Palm Beach golf course, and almost $14,000 in rental and catering fees at his Las Vegas hotel.

    The campaign also spent heavily in businesses owned by other top Trump-connected figures. $1.5 million went to a web-marketing firm owned by campaign digital director Brad Parscale. Parscale now works for a nonprofit aimed at promoting the administration’s agenda. Some money also went to a company owned by White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon — nearly $30,000 for administrative and secretarial services.

    The Trump campaign is legally required to pay market price for services, even at Trump-owned properties. It’s incredibly unusual, however, for a president to also own and profit from the businesses their campaign is patronizing. Despite the advice of the government’s independent ethics office and ethics experts, Trump has refused to divest from ownership of his businesses. […]

    Think Progress link.

  4. KG says

    SC on Turkey,

    It was always very unlikely that Erdogan would allow a “no” vote in the referendum. That the reported result is so close is itself a startling success for the opposition, given the grossly unfair conditions under which the referendum was held – even discounting the likelihood there was outright cheating on the day. I think Erdogan needed a considerably more decisive margin for this to be a clear political win, especially as Turkey’s economy is on the slide.

  5. says

    It was always very unlikely that Erdogan would allow a “no” vote in the referendum. That the reported result is so close is itself a startling success for the opposition, given the grossly unfair conditions under which the referendum was held – even discounting the likelihood there was outright cheating on the day. I think Erdogan needed a considerably more decisive margin for this to be a clear political win, especially as Turkey’s economy is on the slide.

    He also lost in all of the major cities. Your last sentence is the BBC correspondent’s take as well. It’s optimistic, but I hope correct. Still, in the immediate term, I fear an intensification of violence against the Kurds. (On the other hand, it’s possible that the close and contested vote and associated turmoil weakens Erdogan’s bargaining position with regard to support for the Kurds in Syria…)

    JUST IN: “OSCE: Lack of equal opportunities, one-sided media coverage and limitations on fundamental freedoms dominated Turkey’s referendum.”

  6. says

    Regular voting in Georgia’s special election takes place tomorrow. (Early voting already ended.)

    Trump dissed the Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff this morning.The spelling error is all Trump.

    The super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressioal race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!

    One of the internet memes being passed around is a video of Trump holding up one of the executive orders he signed (you know how he makes a big production of that), but the text in the executive order has been changed to read: “I AM SCARED OF JON OSSOFF.”

    If Ossoff does not get 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff election on June 20. Currently, Ossoff is beating the Republican candidates, but that could change dramatically in a runoff between two candidates.

    Democrats had an advantage in the early voting, but Republicans have now closed the gap (this is just a measure of how many Democrats went to the polls, versus Republicans going to the polls).

    Let’s hope that Trump’s stupid bullying tactics backfire.

  7. says

    Trump has invited industry leaders to pick and choose which regulations they will obey, and which regulations will be deleted or ignored:

    Just days after taking office, President Trump invited American manufacturers to recommend ways the government could cut regulations and make it easier for companies to get their projects approved.

    Industry leaders responded with scores of suggestions that paint the clearest picture yet of the dramatic steps that Trump officials are likely to take in overhauling federal policies, especially those designed to advance environmental protection and safeguard worker rights. […]

    The Environmental Protection Agency has emerged as the primary target in these comments, accounting for nearly half, with the Labor Department in second place as the subject of more than one-fifth, according to a Commerce Department analysis. […]

    Washington Post link.

    Here are a few examples of regulations that industry honchos would like to see amended:

    BP wants to make it easier to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico by reducing how often companies must renew their leases. […]

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to reduce the amount of time opponents have to challenge federal approval of projects. Challenges would have to be filed within two years, down from six.

    The Chamber also wants to jettison a requirement that employers report their injury and illness records electronically to the Labor Department so they can be posted “on the internet for anyone to see.”

    And in its 51-page comment, “Make Federal Agencies Responsible Again,” the Associated General Contractors of America recommended repealing 11 of President Barack Obama’s executive orders and memorandums, including one establishing paid sick leave for government contractors. […]

    The word from sources in the White House is that the Trump administration wants to accept a lot of the suggestions made by industry honchos.

  8. says

    Trump does everything stupidly, even minor stuff like autographing hats:

    […] President Donald Trump signed autographs for a crowd at the Easter Egg Roll at the White House on Monday, but at least two people left sans one hat.

    […] Trump signed two “Make America Great Again” hats handed to him in a crowd. After he signed them, he proceeded to toss them up in the air and into the gathered crowd instead of handing them back.

    One person who thanked Trump initially for signing his hat simply said “no!” after Trump tossed his hat in the air. […]

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-tosses-hats-egg-roll

    Video is available at the link.

  9. says

    “Burying ‘Trumpomania,’ Kremlin TV says Trump scarier than North Korean leader”:

    …Dmitry Kiselyov, anchor of Russia’s main weekly TV news show “Vesti Nedeli,” on the Rossiya 1 channel, is widely seen as the top pro-Kremlin presenter. He had already began to dial back the Trumpomania and start criticizing the U.S. president.

    But on Sunday, his first broadcast since Rex Tillerson’s maiden visit to Moscow as U.S. secretary of state, Kiselyov, who once praised Trump for his “independence” from the U.S. political establishment, removed the proverbial gloves.

    “The world is a hair’s breadth from nuclear war,” said Kiselyov. “War can break out as a result of confrontation between two personalities; Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un. Both are dangerous, but who is more dangerous? Trump is.”

    Kiselyov went on to say that Trump was “more impulsive and unpredictable” than the North Korean and to say both men shared some of the same negative traits: “Limited international experience, unpredictability, and a readiness to go to war.”

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to say whether Kiselyov’s views chimed with the Kremlin’s, but said his opinions weren’t necessarily always interchangeable with the official position. “His position is close, but not every time,” said Peskov.

    The fact that Kiselyov is being given free rein to use such tough rhetoric about Trump is nonetheless likely to reflect how deep the Kremlin’s anger runs about what it sees as Trump’s failure to deliver on his pledge of better ties with Moscow….

  10. says

    The reporters are doing a good job with today’s press conference – putting out the facts as the basis for their questions and so getting them out there. They’re also calling him out with “But that’s not true, Sean,” providing specifics about their lies and lack of transparency.

  11. says

    NBC confirms CNN reporting: “A review of the surveillance material flagged by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes shows no inappropriate action by Susan Rice or any other Obama administration official, Republican and Democratic Congressional aides who have been briefed on the matter told NBC News.”

    I’m sure apologies will be quickly forthcoming.

  12. says

    So Alex Jones is either nuts, as his ex-wife claims, or an evil conman, as his lawyers claim:

    Alt-right provocateur Alex Jones will reportedly attempt to prove that his bombastic, caustic on-air personality is simply “performance art,” as the Infowars host tries to keep custody of his three children.

    Whether the claim works is likely to depend in large part on the judge assigned to the case, as well as Texas law.

    Following the jury selection process on Monday, Jones, who is battling his ex-wife Kelly Jones for joint or sole custody of their children, intends to show a Travis County court over the next two weeks that in real life he is not the vitriol-spewing, red-faced persona on full display during his radio show.

    “He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said in court, according to the newspaper. “He is a performance artist.”

    His ex-wife—the two were divorced in 2015 and the children, ages 9, 12 and 14, have lived him throughout the custody battle—is not convinced her former spouse is a different person away from the mic or camera….

    Personally, judging from what I’ve read of people who’ve known him, I think his ex-wife is correct. He’s also an evil conman, though.

  13. says

    A die-hard Trump supporter who also donated $80,000 of her savings to the Trump campaign, is off the train. She is breaking up with Trump:

    […] “Good morning Mr. Willies,” Tania Vojvodic said. “This is your scary Trump supporter. I’ve been kicked off the Trump train.”

    Tania used the term “scary Trump supporter” because I wrote an article about her a few months ago […] that she was not happy about at all. I do not believe she expected that she would have a civil conversation with “this liberal” but she had one. […]

    This morning she gave me an extended interview […] It is something many of us expected to occur specifically because the president made a one-hundred-degree shift away from many of the promises he made to the people who supported him.

    Tania started speaking out against the president’s failed promises. She realized that some of his followers exhibited cultish behavior. She said they claimed her concerns were fake news.

    Tania disagreed with most of the president’s appointments. She believes he is going back on his stance on illegal immigration.

    To be clear, I disagree with Tania’s position on immigration and a few other issues. But I have been preaching for months now that we need to talk to these voters because when that dialogue begins, the reality of economics will set in. We want to ensure there is a place for those who leave the train to go. […]

    Daily Kos link

  14. says

    Here’s what Trump tweeted yesterday:

    Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!

    Sounds like Trump arranged a quid pro quo, right?

    Here’s what Sean Spicer said today:

    It’s not a quid pro quo. It’s just saying that in the middle of them taking very positive signs to help us address the situation in North Korea, that to label them a currency manipulator I don’t think would be very productive.

    That clears that up.

  15. says

    John Oliver discussed the upcoming elections in France. Scroll down for the video.

    Excerpt:

    One of the frustrating things about watching this unfold from America is this feels a little like déjà vu: a potentially destabilizing populist campaigning on anti-immigrant rhetoric who rages against the elites despite having a powerful father and inherited wealth. [A comparison of Le Pen to Trump.]

    […] You in France love nothing more than acting like you are better than Britain and America. Well, now is your chance to prove that. Because we made populist, nativist choices with Brexit and Trump, and to be honest, it’s not working out so great for us so far. And now you have a populist, nativist choice of your own, and just imagine how superior you could feel if you don’t make the same mistake that we did. […]

    Hello, France. I know a British man speaking on an American television show about the Republic of France is basically French kryptonite. But please—listen: Britain and America fucked up. Don’t fuck up, too. Marine Le Pen is—how do you say in French? A demagogic asshole. A monstrous, demagogic asshole. You’re better than this. This is your chance to live up to the French philosophy of the Enlightenment. To show the whole world that the French ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity go together […] Help us, France. You’re our only hope.

  16. says

    Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, wrote a haiku to mark National Haiku Poetry Day:

    President Trump claims
    “Nothing to hide, or to fear.”
    Still, no tax returns.

    #NationalHaikuPoetryDay #TaxDay

  17. raven says

    Xpost from Strategic Patience thread
    Latest headline.

    White House warns North Korea not to test US resolve, offering Syria and Afghanistan strikes as examples
    Washington Post – ‎27 minutes ago‎
    TOKYO – Vice President Pence warned North Korea on Monday not to test U.S. military might by pursuing its nuclear weapons program, citing recent strikes in Syria and Afghanistan as proof of American “strength and resolve.

    1. This is typical bullying behavior. A threat.
    2. It’s so weak as a threat that it is laughable.

    Sure we can bomb North Korea. Then what?
    We bombed Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos for many years every day. And we still lost the war!!!

    We’ve seen this movie before. I grew up during the Vietnam war. And lost two friends in Iraq.
    It never ends well.

  18. microraptor says

    Tashiliciously Shriked @20:

    I don’t know, Trump Supporters Discover Reality kind of is a big headline.

  19. raven says

    I’ve said many times over the last 4 months that I expected another war somewhere.
    That is what the GOP does.
    But I was hoping it wouldn’t be this soon and that the few adults in the Trump administration would stop it.

    That is looking less and less likely.
    The pattern is always the same. They beat the drums of war for a few months to a year. Propaganda. Make up lies like Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Domino Theory. And then it starts. Of course stopping them is much harder and we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Just have to wait and see what happens.

  20. says

    This is what Trump said:

    Our military is building and is rapidly becoming stronger than ever before. Frankly, we have no choice!

    This is what Trump has done to build up the military: Nothing, nada, goose egg, zero, fuck all.

    The Trump administration has not yet spent an extra dime on defense, nor enlarged the military by a single man or woman in uniform, nor expanded the arsenal by a single bullet. This is not meant as criticism. After all, Trump has been president for less than three months and has not yet submitted a defense budget. (He did say he would ask for a $54 billion increase in the defense budget, bringing the total to $669 billion) […] The Treasury Department won’t—and can’t—release any of the money until the start of next year.

    Once the money does begin to flow, it will take a long time to spend out. This is because weapons systems, especially large ones, take a long time to build. […]

    For instance, a new Navy ship costs anywhere from $1 billion to $5 billion. But typically only 8 percent of that sum gets spent in the first year, 24 percent is spent in the second year, 20 percent in the third year, and so on, for anywhere between five and 10 years, depending on the type of ship.

    For Air Force planes, only about 6 percent gets spent in the first year, and the typical plane takes four years to complete. Even the budget for something as comparatively simple as Army missiles takes three or four years to spend out. […]

    Nor has Trump made the slightest impact on the officers running the military. He often refers to “my generals” and “my military,” […] But he has not yet nominated a single military commander. The current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the chiefs of the military services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard), and the heads of the military’s nine unified combatant commands (Central Command, Europe Command, Pacific Command, and so forth) were all put in place by President Obama. […]

    Slate link

    Knowing Trump, he probably thinks that his great performance as Commander in Chief has, all by itself, made the military HUGE.

  21. says

    What?! Spicer was asked about this a few hours ago, and explicitly said they had no comment and were waiting for the OSCE report (not sure if he was even aware of the preliminary report). If this is true, it’s beyond fucked up and highly suspicious.

  22. says

    Update to #27 – the WH has now confirmed it, in a readout with implications that are not good for the Kurds or for the fight against ISIS. This is, again, a few hours after Spicer said they were waiting for the OSCE report (see above for the clear conclusions of the preliminary report). It looks to me like something very fishy, beyond the mutual attraction of authoritarians, is going on here.

  23. says

    What Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 had to say about Trump’s connections to Russia, as discussed in an article/interview published in Prospect, a British magazine:

    Richard Dearlove frowned at the coffee pot on the table before him, as he pondered the phenomenon of Donald Trump. “I think he’s very strongly nationalist,” he said, pouring himself a small cup. The room, at a discreet location in central London, was large and empty of other people, its walls lined with 19th-century portraits. Is Trump the start of something worrying, I asked. “I think it depends on how fundamental this shift in politics in the US and other countries is,” he replied, speaking slowly. “I think the jury’s out on how far it is going to go.” […]

    So [Dearlove’s] seen it all before. But the allegations that members of Trump’s staff had illegal contact with the Russian government during the election campaign are “unprecedented,” said Dearlove. As for the president’s personal position, he said, “What lingers for Trump may be what deals—on what terms—he did after the financial crisis of 2008 to borrow Russian money when others in the west apparently would not lend to him.” […]

    Dearlove told me that despite the terrorist threat to Britain, it is not the most serious challenge the country faces. “The deterioration of European politics, with the rise of parties on the extreme right, is a far more serious problem for the UK. It is not in the UK’s national interest to see continental Europe being split apart by the revival of nationalist movements as a post-Brexit Britain returns to a mid-Atlantic rather than continental orientation to its foreign policy. […]

    Link

  24. says

    SC @27 and 30, In addition to congratulating Turkish President Erdoğan, some reporting adds that Trump wanted to discuss Syria, and how he had ordered the firing of 59 tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase. In other words, it sounds like Trump wanted say, “Hey, congratulations on edging closer to a dictatorship. That’s cool. I love authoritarianism, and, by the way, I’m a strong man too. Did you see the size of those missiles I fired at Syria?! Let’s talk about that!”

  25. says

    “Two plaintiffs join suit against Trump, alleging breach of emoluments clause”:

    Two new plaintiffs — an association of restaurants and restaurant workers, and a woman who books banquet halls for two D.C. hotels — plan to join a lawsuit alleging that President Trump has violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause because his hotels and restaurants do business with foreign governments.

    CREW had originally filed suit against Trump in federal court in January, alleging that — by continuing to own his business, which rents out hotel rooms and meeting spaces to other governments — Trump had violated the constitutional provision that bans “emoluments” from foreign powers.

    Legal experts had said that the case faced a serious hurdle: It wasn’t clear that the watchdog group actually had standing to sue in the first place. What harm had it suffered, specifically, because of Trump’s actions?

    The new plaintiffs are intended to offer an alternative answer to that question. Both say that, as direct competitors of Trump’s restaurants and hotels, they may lose foreign clients, who may book with Trump properties to curry* favor with the president….

    * Mmm, curry.

  26. KG says

    SC@34,

    This may be my fault ;-) On Saturday, after spending time on a Scottish Green Party street stall in the campaign for local elections, which are taking place on May 4th, I taunted the Tories on a nearby stall with how May has no mandate to lead the UK, let alone impose a “hard Brexit” no-one voted for. No doubt this was reported back! While on the face of it, the election should result in an easy win for the Tories, as Labour remains in disarray with most of its MPs despising its leader (who nevertheless remains the choice of the membership), elections are unpredictable things. I would expect the SNP to retain most of its seats (currently 56 out of 59 Scottish seats), the Liberal Democrats to make some gains in England with votes from disgruntled Remainers*, and Labour to do better than its current disastrous poll ratings (around 27% to the Tories 43%) suggest**. What my own party will do, I don’t know. We’ve no chance of winning any seats at Westminster, unless by an agreement with the SNP (by which we don’t run candidates in most seats, and the SNP stand aside for us in one or two). That’s unlikely, but not impossible. If it doesn’t happen, we’ll probably only run a handful of candidates anyway, and not spend much money on the campaign.

    *They might campaign on the platform of a second referendum at the end of Brexit negotiations. That’s their current policy, but it’s not in fact clear whether Article 50 is revocable, so refusing the terms might just mean the UK leaves the EU without any agreement.

    **They should campaign on “Do you want to give Theresa May dictatorial powers over the kind of UK that results from Brexit?” – which would be the result of a Tory landslide.

  27. says

    This may be my fault ;-) On Saturday, after spending time on a Scottish Green Party street stall in the campaign for local elections, which are taking place on May 4th, I taunted the Tories on a nearby stall with how May has no mandate to lead the UK, let alone impose a “hard Brexit” no-one voted for. No doubt this was reported back!

    :)

  28. KG says

    Further to my #36, on whether Article 50 is revocable. The LibDems (and England and Wales Greens, who have also advocated a second referendum) can quote Donald Tusk (European Council President) saying it is.

    If they had enough sense, the main opposition parties would get together and agree to put up a single candidate in as many seats as possible, campaigning on “Do you want to give Theresa May dictatorial powers over the kind of UK that results from Brexit?”. It’s unlikely that they do, but I imagine that at the least, behind-the-scenes contacts are going on already.

  29. blf says

    The Onion, Trump Administration Refusing To Disclose Names Of White House Diamond Elite Members:

    […] Due to the potential security risks associated with publicizing the identities of those enrolled in our most premier program, we will continue to keep their names confidential, a policy that will also apply to those at Diamond Plus, Diamond, Gold, and Silver levels, said White House Communications Director Mike Dubke, reaffirming the administration’s commitment to the privacy concerns of program participants who enjoy a variety of exclusive premium benefits at the White House. […] Pressed for further comment, Dubke encouraged journalists to contact a representative to discuss the many rewards of White House membership.

    And Sean Spicer Given Own Press Secretary To Answer Media’s Questions About His Controversial Statements (from The Onion’s President Donald Trump: The First 100 Days, day 83.)

  30. says

    “Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Said to Have Advised Trump Team”:

    In the very public, post-election parade of dignitaries, confidantes and job-seekers filing in and out of Donald Trump’s marquee Manhattan tower, Blackwater founder Erik Prince was largely out of sight. And yet Prince was very much a presence, providing advice to Trump’s inner circle, including his top national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with his activities.

    According to people familiar with his activities, Prince entered Trump Tower through the back, like others who wanted to avoid the media spotlight, and huddled with members of the president-elect’s team to discuss intelligence and security issues. The conversations provide a glimpse of Prince’s relationship with an administration that’s distanced itself from him since the Washington Post reported earlier this month that Prince had met with a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles in January.

    “Erik had no role in the transition,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said again when asked about Prince last week.

    A Prince spokesman in London, Jonny Garfield, said the same in a statement:…

    Yet over a two to three month period around the election, Prince met several times with top aides as the incoming government took shape, offering ideas on how to fight terror and restructure the country’s major intelligence agencies, according to information provided by five people familiar with the meetings. Among those he conferred with was Flynn, a member of the transition team who joined the administration and was later dismissed, some of the people said. He discussed possible government appointees with people in the private sector, one person said. Prince himself told several people that while he was not offering his advice in any official capacity, his role was significant.

    Last year, Prince was often heard on Breitbart radio, overseen by Steve Bannon, who today serves as White House chief strategist. Speaking on topics such as immigration and how to defeat terrorists, Prince laid out a three-point plan to deal with ISIS.

    In the heat of the closing weeks of the presidential campaign, Prince claimed New York police found evidence of Hillary Clinton and her closest advisers committing “criminal activity,” including money laundering and “under-age sex.” The evidence was purportedly in Clinton emails seized in the investigation of former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Prince cited sources at the New York Police Department. The claim was never substantiated, nor did the police address the allegations.

    The article includes a tale of secret meetings and government intrigue onboard…the Acela.

  31. says

    Joy-Ann Reid, filling in for Rachel Maddow, discussed Trump’s congratulatory call to Erdogan.

    Questions about the legitimacy of the referendum vote, and questions about Erdogan’s oppression of his own people (including jailing 120 journalists), did not seem to bother Trump at all.

  32. says

    Trump is still campaigning against Jon Ossoff.

    As Tuesday’s special election to fill an open House seat in Georgia drew closer, […] Trump upped his attacks on Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate leading the race. […]

    “Liberal democrats from outside of Georgia are spending millions and millions of dollars trying to take your Republican congressional seat away from you. Don’t let them do it,” Trump said on the call [robocall], […] “Only you can stop the super-liberal Democrats and Nancy Pelosi’s group, and in particular Jon Ossoff. If you don’t vote tomorrow, Ossoff will raise your taxes, destroy your healthcare, and flood our country with illegal immigrants.” […]

    Talking Points Memo link

    Trump’s tweets:

    With eleven Republican candidates running in Georgia (on Tuesday) for Congress, a runoff will be a win. Vote “R” for lower taxes & safety!
    —————–
    Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress. VERY weak on crime and illegal immigration, bad for jobs and wants higher taxes. Say NO
    —————–
    Republicans must get out today and VOTE in Georgia 6. Force runoff and easy win! Dem Ossoff will raise your taxes-very bad on crime & 2nd A.

    Ossoff was interviewed on MSNBC by Chris Matthews:

    “It was one of the most divisive and destructive presidential races in U.S. history and I think that many have been hoping that the president will heal some of those wounds, show good faith and a more inclusive approach to governance,” Ossoff told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews when first asked about Trump. “So far, I don’t think that he’s allayed those concerns among those who believe that that divisive approach to government is not right for the United States.”

    Asked again to describe Trump, Ossoff said, “I have great respect for the office. I don’t have great personal admiration for the man himself.”

    When asked yet again, Ossoff said he does not know Trump personally but that he would be willing to work with the President on an infrastructure package.

    Ossoff has been leading the crowded field by a wide margin, but polls show him falling short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Democrats have been hopeful from the outset that they can use anti-Trump energy to flip the ruby-red district Democratic, especially given that Trump only won the district by one point in November.

  33. says

    Ivanka had dinner with President Xi Jinping (along with her daddy, husband Jared and others). Immediately thereafter, the Chinese government approved three new trademarks for Ivanka’s jewelry, bags, and spa service brands.

    Just like daddy Trump, Ivanka claims to have separated herself from her companies, and that she is separating business from politics. It actually looks like she is celebrating the marriage of business and politics. Ivanka still owns all of those brands.

    […] As the first daughter crafts a political career from her West Wing office, her brand is flourishing, despite boycotts and several stores limiting her merchandise. U.S. imports, almost all of them from China, shot up an estimated 166 percent last year, while sales hit record levels in 2017. The brand, […] has launched new activewear and affordable jewelry lines and is working to expand its global intellectual property footprint. In addition to winning the approvals from China, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC applied for at least nine new trademarks in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada and the U.S. after the election. […]

    Using the prestige of government service to build a brand is not illegal. But criminal conflict of interest law prohibits federal officials, like Trump and her husband, from participating in government matters that could impact their own financial interest or that of their spouse. […]

    “Put the business on hold and stop trying to get trademarks while you’re in government,” advised Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush. […]

    “Ivanka has so many China ties and conflicts, yet she and Jared appear deeply involved in China contacts and policy. I would never have allowed it,” said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under Barack Obama. “For their own sake, and the country’s, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters.”

    Instead, the first daughter and her husband have emerged as prominent interlocutors with China, where they have both had significant business ties. Last year, Kushner pursued hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate investments from Anbang Insurance Group, a financial conglomerate with close ties to the Chinese state. […]

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/ivanka-trump-trademarks-china

  34. says

    Oklahoma legislators just passed a “Blue Lives Matter” law. Penalties for assaulting an officer are already strict. Why did Oklahoma need even stricter laws? They didn’t.

    The “Blue Lives Matter” law is likely to lead to a lot of abuses.

    […] A mischievous kid with a paintball gun who ends up tagging an off-duty cop in street clothes would now face felony charges. An off-duty cop who loses a bar fight could get the man who knocked him down sent to prison for years. […]

    Link

    Car accidents, not assaults, are the leading cause of death for police officers.

    Legislators included language that required the new law to be identified as “Blue Lives Matter.”

  35. says

    “Liberal democrats from outside of Georgia are spending millions and millions of dollars trying to take your Republican congressional seat away from you.

    No party owns any seat.

    If you don’t vote tomorrow, Ossoff will raise your taxes, destroy your healthcare, and flood our country with illegal immigrants.”

    What the…? Just throwing everything out there.

  36. says

    SC @46, yes, Trump threw a bunch of lies at Ossoff. He threw his favorite lies. He didn’t even bother to make up something new. What a dolt.

    In other news: United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley commented on the mistreatment of gay men in Chechnya. So far, she is the highest ranking Trump administration official to do so.

    We continue to be disturbed by reports of kidnapping, torture, and murder of people in Chechnya based on their sexual orientation and those persecuted by association. If true, this violation of human rights cannot be ignored — Chechen authorities must immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable, and take steps to prevent future abuses.

    I don’t think Haley needed the “if true” phrase, but that may be diplomatic-speak.

    The Guardian has corroborated the mistreatment from gay men who have escaped Chechnya. They described being harassed by their families, outed by lovers who were already working with the police, and blackmailed by public officials. Human Rights Watch has received numerous reports of harassment from within Chechnya that are consistent with Novaya Gayetza’s reporting. The Russian LGBT Network also confirmed to the Washington Blade that “there is kind of a prison next to one Chechen city where homosexual men are detained.” Nevertheless, details regarding what is actually taking place remain elusive, in part because of how Chechen authorities have been stonewalling.

    After the reports first emerged, Alvi Karimov, a spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrovm dismissed them by suggesting that gay people simply don’t exist in the country. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” he said at the time. “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.” At the very least, anti-gay sentiment is certainly a reality in the country. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/chechnya-gay-purge-haley-f09f84a0d19f

    Some of the info on the murder and torture of gays in Chechnya was posted in the previous chapter of this thread. I thought that the basic info should be repeated.

  37. says

    Betsy DeVos wants more character development in schools. That’s a big problem.

    An eighth grader was locked up for throwing skittles on a schoolbus. A 6-year-old girl was handcuffed for taking candy from a teacher’s desk. An officer slammed and dragged a high school girl, because she wouldn’t put her phone down. A Texas cop choked a 14-year-old boy over a shoving match in school. A middle school student was suspended and charged for allegedly stealing a carton of milk from a cafeteria — even though he didn’t do it.

    Across the country, teachers rely on law enforcement and draconian punishments to correct students’ behavior in the classroom. In the Era of Trump, extreme discipline is poised to get worse.

    […] Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said that character development and values are lacking in schools, which contributes to poor achievement. But education advocates and legal experts say poor achievement stems from racist and punitive policies disguised as character development, […]

    The pipeline is the result of treating students like criminals in schools —often for non-criminal behavior. Institutions with zero-tolerance disciplinary policies suspend and expel students — or have cops make arrests — for minor infractions, such as wearing the wrong uniform, truancy, disobeying teachers’ instructions, or getting into schoolyard fights.

    […] just as biased police disproportionately target people of color on the streets, biased educators determine which students are in need of correcting.

    Based on national data, researchers have been able to create a general profile of the students most impacted by the pipeline. Black kids are most likely to be disciplined because of zero-tolerance policies — a trend that begins in preschool. Students who have disabilities are suspended two times more than those who do not, and account for one-fourth of students “arrested and referred to law enforcement,” per data from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. […]

  38. says

    Defensive end Chris Long and free safety Devin McCourty [of the New England Patriots football team] are not Trump fans. The two players teamed up with a lot of Patriot fans to make a video that explains why they will NOT be visiting the White House on Wednesday.

    The video can be viewed on Think Progress. Scroll down to view the 3:29 minute video.

    A lot of the commentary discusses the Super Bowl game and the championship, but it also includes rejection of Trump, of the “Alt-Right,” of misogyny, of racism, etc.

  39. says

    I don’t think Trump knows the name of the leader of North Korea, nor does he differentiate the current leader, Kim Jong Un, from his father, Kim Jong Il (ruler from 1994 to 2011). Trump refers to both men as “this gentleman.”

    I hope there’s going to be peace, but they’ve been talking with this gentleman for a long time. You read [Bill] Clinton’s book and he said, “Oh, we made such a great peace deal” and it was a joke. You look at different things over the years with President Obama. Everybody has been out-played. They’ve all been out-played by this gentleman, and we’ll see what happens.

    Video is available on The Daily Beast.

  40. says

    SC @51, oh, FFS. Those bozos are so disorganized that they may stumble into war without intending to do so. The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.

    All sorts of media outlets repeated that the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was sailing to within striking distance of North Korea, when it was, in fact, sailing in the opposite direction.

    And team Trump thought that Kim Jong Un’s failed missile launch was an embarrassment!

  41. says

    Jennifer Rubin suggests the emoluments lawsuit might force Trump to disclose his tax returns:

    …This is one more arena in which Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns becomes relevant. “One of the many problems with the president’s continuing business dealings with foreign countries is that without his tax returns, we do not know the full extent of his violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution,” Libowitz explains. “We seek to change that.”

    Indeed, where there is no legal compunction for the president now to release his tax returns absent action by Congress (which Republicans will never permit), litigation offers an avenue for ferreting out his finances. “All kinds of relevant information — including the tax returns Trump is fighting to hide — are likely to be demanded in the course of discovery,” says attorney Laurence H. Tribe, one of the lawyers on the case. He explains, “I think the district court will have every reason to compel disclosure of the tax returns in particular, given how much they (and only they) will reveal about the exact sources and amounts of many of the unconstitutional Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Trump has been receiving and stands to receive unless enjoined pursuant to the relief our lawsuit seeks.”…

  42. says

    “FBI used dossier allegations to bolster Trump-Russia investigation”:

    The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump’s campaign as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor a Trump associate, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

    The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks, as one of the sources of information the bureau has used to bolster its investigation, according to US officials briefed on the probe.

    Officials familiar with the process say even if the application to monitor Page included information from the dossier, it would only be after the FBI had corroborated the information through its own investigation. The officials would not say what or how much was corroborated….

  43. says

    Ryan Lizza – “The Continuing Fallout from Trump and Nunes’s Fake Scandal”:

    …It is now clear that the scandal was not Rice’s normal review of the intelligence reports but the coördinated effort between the Trump Administration and Nunes to sift through classified information and computer logs that recorded Rice’s unmasking requests, and then leak a highly misleading characterization of those documents, all in an apparent effort to turn Rice, a longtime target of Republicans, into the face of alleged spying against Trump. It was a series of lies to manufacture a fake scandal. Last week, CNN was the first to report that both Democrats and Republicans who reviewed the Nunes material at the N.S.A. said that the documents provided “no evidence that Obama Administration officials did anything unusual or illegal.”

    I spoke to two intelligence sources, one who read the entire binder of intercepts and one who was briefed on their contents. “There’s absolutely nothing there,” one source said. The Trump names remain masked in the documents, and Rice would not have been able to know in all cases that she was asking the N.S.A. to unmask the names of Trump officials.

    Nunes is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee because, in talking about the documents, he may have leaked classified information. But this is like getting Al Capone for tax evasion. The bigger scandal is the coördinated effort to use the American intelligence services to manufacture an excuse for Trump’s original tweet.

    The intelligence source told me that he knows, “from talking to people in the intelligence community,” that “the White House said, ‘We are going to mobilize to find something to justify the President’s tweet that he was being surveilled.’ They put out an all-points bulletin”—a call to sift through intelligence reports—“and said, ‘We need to find something that justifies the President’s crazy tweet about surveillance at Trump Tower.’ And I’m telling you there is no way you get that from those transcripts, which are about as plain vanilla as can be.” (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.)…

    Read through to the end for the section about the different Democratic and Republican House Intelligence Committee witness lists.

  44. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    “FBI busts Texas right-wing extremist planning mass shooting with 1,000 rounds of ammo”

    Prima facie evidence of why I am scared of Xian/RW terrorists, rather than Islamic terrorists.
    *Applauds FBI°

  45. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    *Interrupt your regular programming*
    Just checked on the first batch of those charged in the Clive Bundy cattle standoff in Nevada. The case went to the jury 4/13. Seems open and shut case of being guilty to me, but the same could be said for the Oregon Bungling Bundy Militia trial.
    *Resume your regular programming.

  46. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Watching All In with Chris Hayes. Very interesting interview with Tom Perez (DNC Chair) and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who are touring the country together. I’ll post the video once I find it surfacing.

  47. says

    Lynna:

    I don’t think Trump knows the name of the leader of North Korea, nor does he differentiate the current leader, Kim Jong Un, from his father, Kim Jong Il (ruler from 1994 to 2011). Trump refers to both men as “this gentleman.”

    Also, this.

  48. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Racheal Maddow just announce she will have an extended interview tomorrow night with Sen Elizabeth Warren. Should be interesting. Will Sen. Warren say “poop” or not?

  49. says

    From SC’s link @57:

    […] Also at the head table were three western politicians. Willy Wimmer, a former member of the German Bundestag who is often critical of U.S. foreign policy; Cyril Svoboda, former deputy prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, and interior minister of the Czech Republic, and two-time U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, the only American besides Flynn at the head table.

    […] Two-time U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was the only American besides Flynn at the head table.

    Stein’s 2016 campaign was heavily promoted by RT [Russian Television]. She hasn’t spoken much about the RT dinner, but in an interview with NBC News last fall, she deflected questions about her appearance, instead chastising the U.S. media for not paying attention to her campaign while RT gave it a lot more attention.

    “And my own connection to RT, you know ironically, it takes a Russian television station to actually be open to independent candidates in this country and that is a shame. A shameful commentary on our own media,” she told NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald.

    (Stein did well enough to help Russia achieve its aims. Her vote totals in the crucial states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan were all greater than Clinton’s margin of defeat, and arguably denied Clinton an Electoral College victory.) […]

  50. says

    Here’s one example of team Trump’s incompetence that might slow their roll when it comes to prosecuting illegal immigrants … maybe. This is from the Washington Post:

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making aggressive law enforcement a top priority, directing his federal prosecutors across the country to crack down on illegal immigrants and “use every tool” they have to go after violent criminals and drug traffickers.

    But the attorney general does not have a single U.S. attorney in place to lead his tough-on-crime efforts across the country. Last month, Sessions abruptly told the dozens of remaining Obama administration U.S. attorneys to submit their resignations immediately — and none of them, or the 47 who had already left, have been replaced.

    From Steve Benen:

    Republicans are quick to note that the broader dynamic isn’t necessarily unusual: new presidents replace U.S. attorneys with their own slate of federal prosecutors, and this has happened many times before. […] so it shouldn’t be controversial to see Trump replace Obama’s.

    The trouble is in the specific details. Modern presidents from both parties have handled the transition in prosecutors in a much more gradual and orderly way, with a process spanning months, and in some cases, years. U.S. attorneys working on big cases were told they could stay on, for example, and administration took care to avoid disrupting the system.

    Trump and his team did the opposite. What’s unclear is why.

    Many of the questions that emerged in early March remain unanswered. Why was one U.S. attorney fired without explanation after being told he could stay? Did any of these prosecutors’ dismissals relate to ongoing cases the White House wanted to derail? Why did nearly four dozen U.S. attorneys have to clean out their desks immediately?

    Given the administration’s ambitious law-enforcement agenda, why didn’t Trump prioritize the nomination of new U.S. attorneys?

    These are the sort of questions Congress might ordinarily ask, if oversight were still a priority on Capitol Hill.

    Speaking of oversight, did you see that Jason Chaffetz won’t be running in the next election, in 2018? There goes his job as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

    “I’m not going to be here forever. I would take a serious, serious look at running for governor.” […]

    “The more I’m here, the more I’m convinced I don’t want to be in the United States Senate,” he added. “I’ve already invested years in the House and it’s essentially the same job, just more people over here and more competition.”

    In the days leading up to Election Day 2016, Chaffetz tied himself in knots explaining that his vote for Donald Trump did not contradict his un-endorsing the then-Republican nominee a month earlier.

    The congressman was one of many Republican officials who disavowed Trump after a tape leaked of Trump saying that he could kiss and grope women without their permission because he was a celebrity. […]

    A few weeks later, though, he said he would still be voting for Trump.

    Link

    Chaffetz was also shouted down at his own town hall meeting in Utah by “Do your job!” chants. He isn’t doing his oversight job because Trump is in the White House. Chaffetz made national news investigating Hillary Clinton, and he wanted to continue to do that.

  51. says

    Update on the special election in Georgia: Jon Ossoff easily led the 18 candidates in the race, but he did not get 50% of the vote, he got 48% of the vote.

    There will be a runoff election in June between Ossoff and Republican candidate Karen Handel (she got 20% of the vote). The runoff is shaping up to be a tight race now that all of the other Republican candidates are out of it.

    “This is already a victory for the ages,” Ossoff told supporters gathered at an election night rally just before midnight, when vote totals from one county experiencing technical problems had yet to come in. “That no matter what the outcome is tonight, whether we take it all or we fight on, we have defied the odds. We have shattered expectations. We are changing the world.”

    During the campaign, Republicans tried to tie Ossoff to terrorism, and Trump himself weighed in with tweets and robocalls. The runoff campaign is going to be even uglier.

    Trump won that district in Georgia by 27 points in November, so Ossoff’s 48% showing is truly significant.

    Trump’s take on the voting results:

    Despite major outside money, FAKE media support and eleven Republican candidates, BIG “R” win with runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help!

  52. says

    Follow-up to comment 71.

    Josh Marshall’s take on the Georgia election:

    […] This is disappointing because Ossoff came pretty close to an almost unbelievable result – winning outright in a big field in a strong GOP district. The worst thing that could happen here is Democrats get demoralized. This is a very GOP district. It’s Tom Price’s district. It was Newt Gingrich’s district. An untested Democratic candidate with no prior experience in elected office just came very close to winning it outright. […] This is a massive swing in the Democrats direction.

    Compared to 2016, Ossoff bettered Clinton’s percentage by 1.6% in Dem-leaning DeKalb and 1.4% in GOP-leaning Cobb. […] Ossoff still has a solid shot in the run off.

    The way you win Congress is that you contest every race. You learn from each contest, win or lose. You refine the strategy and message and go back again. (I spoke to a very experienced Dem consultant about a month ago who didn’t think Ossoff had any chance in this race. He was wrong.) We don’t know where the country will be in 18 months. But to the extent you can draw a line between tonight and election day 2018, the results of this race and the Kansas race taken together point to a anti-GOP wave election in 2018.

  53. says

    What do the citizens of Asian countries see when they look at Trump? “Unpredictable. Unhinged. Dangerous.”

    […] Many South Koreans are using those words to describe the president of their most important ally, rather than the leader of their archrival to the North. They worry that President Donald Trump’s tough, unorthodox talk about North Korea’s nuclear program is boosting already-high animosity between the rival Koreas.

    […] Senior North Korean officials see their relations with Washington as even more volatile than before. China is appealing for calm, and possibly re-examining its role. Japan is weighing a retaliatory strike capability against the North.

    […] Trump has said he’s willing to make trade and economic concessions to China in return for its help with North Korea. “A trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”

    Pulling back from a campaign promise, Trump has also said he would not declare China a currency manipulator, as he looked for help from Beijing.

    The rhetoric seems to be blurring the lines between North Korea and economic ties with China, issues that previous U.S. administrations had kept separate.

    If such persuasion falls short, Trump has suggested he might use more coercive methods. So-called secondary sanctions on Chinese banks that do business with North Korea could also be in the offing, officials have said. […]

    The Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper [in South Korea] said recently that Trump is playing a “dangerous card” with his verbal threats, risking a miscalculation by Pyongyang and a war on the peninsula.

    […] Ray Kim, a 39-year-old Seoul resident, said, “Even if a war breaks out, it’s not like that war will take place on U.S. soil. Trump has much less to lose.”

    […] Japan is drawing up emergency responses in case of a North Korea missile strike. A number of municipalities are testing community alarm systems and planning evacuation drills as concerns run high around U.S. military bases. Both Japan and South Korea are home to tens of thousands of U.S. troops. […]

    Japan’s ruling party recently urged the government to introduce advanced missile-defense equipment such as a land-based Aegis or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which is being introduced in South Korea.

    Ruling party defense experts have even proposed that Japan lift a self-imposed restraint on conducting a retaliatory strike if attacked, rather than relying solely on the U.S. military.

    The steady turning up of the heat on all sides has increased the possibility of a miscalculation that could result in an incident that escalates too quickly to be contained, or even outright conflict.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/asia-allies-wary-trump

  54. says

    Follow-up to comments 71 and 72.

    This is how Sean Spicer described the Georgia election:

    They [the Democrats] were clear going into this election, they said their goal was to get over 50 percent. They came up short. I think this was a big loss for them. The bottom line is they went all-in on it. They said that they — their goal was to get over 50 percent. They came up short.

    [Spicer doubled down on his depiction of Democrats as the race’s losers, noting that they spent more than $8.3 million on the race.]

    They ran to win last night and they lost. Anything short of describing that as a loss is sort of inconceivable to me in the sense that’s literally what they said their goal was to do. […]

    Keep spinning, Spicey.

    The quotes are from today’s press briefing at the White House.

  55. says

    A coal company in Kentucky is basically following Hillary Clinton’s plan for bringing jobs to coal country, and not Trump’s plan.

    A Kentucky coal company announced Tuesday that it is planning to build a solar farm on a reclaimed mountaintop removal coal mine and that the project would bring both jobs and energy to the area.

    Berkeley Energy Group, the coal company behind the project, billed it as the first large-scale solar farm in the Appalachian region, […].

    Berkeley Energy Group estimates that the solar farm could produce as much as 50 or 100 megawatts of electricity, which would be five to ten times the size of Kentucky’s largest solar farm.

    Berkeley Energy Group’s project development executive told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the company did not intend to replace its coal production with the solar farm, but instead viewed the project as a chance to reclaim used land while creating job growth in the area.

    “I grew up with coal,” said Ryan Johns, BEG project development executive. “Our company has been in the coal business for 30 years. We are not looking at this as trying to replace coal, but we have already extracted the coal from this area.” […]

    Link

  56. says

    Oh, FFS. Republicans in the Montana legislature are paying $750,000 to make sure that fewer Democrats vote in an upcoming special election:

    Considering that Montana ranks 48th in the country for population density with only 6.5 people per square mile, it’s no surprise that allowing voters to simply cast ballots through the mail would save the state up to $750,000.

    Nonetheless, this week, Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R) put the final nail in the coffin of a bill that would have made the state’s upcoming special election all mail-in votes  […]

    The special election on May 25 will determine who will succeed former Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), whom President Trump tapped to serve as Secretary of the Interior. It was actually a Republican state senator, Steve Fitzpatrick, who introduced a bill that would have made it a mail-only election, calling it a “fiscally responsible thing to do.” […]

    Fitzpatrick’s bill had actually passed the Republican-controlled Senate, but not before Montana Republican Chairman Rep. Jeff Essmann distributed an “emergency report” blatantly admitting his concern that the change would advantage Democrats. “All mail ballots give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections,” he wrote, “due to their ability to organize large numbers of unpaid college students and members of public employee unions to gather ballots by going door to door.” In other words, Republicans can only win if it’s harder for more people to vote. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/montana-election-mail-ballots-44e0657746c6

  57. says

    Here’s what Jeff Session said about deporting participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (the “DREAMers”):

    “DACA enrollees are not being targeted,” Sessions said on Fox. “I don’t know why this individual was picked up.” But when pressed, Sessions said, “The policy is that if people are here unlawfully, they’re subject to being deported.”

    “We can’t promise people who are here unlawfully that they’re not going to be deported,” Sessions added.

    Translation: yes, we are going to deport DREAMers.

  58. says

    Finally, Bill O’Reilly is being ousted … probably:

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports Fox News will announce the Bill O’Reilly’s departure from the cable-news channel within the next week. New York, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and New York Times all reported Tuesday night that O’Reilly’s lawyers and Fox News are negotiating the terms of his departure. Sherman reports one of the sticking points is whether the network’s most popular (and valuable) host will be allowed to say goodbye to his viewers on the air.

    Link

  59. says

    Yeah, Russia is still on its own path, Trump or no Trump:

    […] On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced plans to attend the official opening ceremony of a new complex at the Russian embassy in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia, a home for thousands of Russian troops.

    In the republic of Georgia, which views Abkhazia as territory under Russian occupation, the gesture was seen as “a mockery” of Georgian laws—and a direct challenge aimed at U.S. President Donald Trump.

    At a time when the new U.S. president is trying to assert American power around the globe, these are the kinds of little incidents that chip away at Washington’s credibility before many people there even know what’s happening.

    From a technical standpoint, members of parliament in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, noted that Lavrov’s visit would violate Georgia’s Law of Occupied Territories, which bans travel to Abkhazia without the Georgian government’s prior consent. […]

    “It is time for the Georgian prime minister to take a minute of his time and call President Donald Trump,” says Kandelaki, “so Washington could articulate its attitude for this mockery of international laws—it would give a very important message to our people.”

    Only last week, people in Georgia proudly toasted the European Parliament’s decision to grant Georgians visa-free travel to countries in the European Union. NATO and United Nations flags flew over Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main street, to symbolize the country’s westward-looking future. This is the kind of thing that infuriates Putin.

    But amid the toasts, there was also ample cynicism.

    “I was in the crowd on the square when we showed our love for George W. Bush,” local businessman Shota Kutalia told The Daily Beast. “We even named a street after Bush, but Bush did not help us bring back Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and neither will Trump.”

    Georgia and its 4.4 million people have paid a high price for the country’s pro-Western stance, losing swathes of land and many lives as their sovereignty has come under assault. In 2008 the Russian Federation closed its embassy in Tbilisi, and Lavrov’s visit to Abkhazia is seen as one more bit of payback for Georgia’s pro-American, pro-European policies. […]

    Daily Beast link

  60. says

    Who could possibly have predicted it?:

    “Exxon Seeks U.S. Waiver to Resume Russia Oil Venture: Exxon Mobil applied to Treasury for exemption to resume venture with Rosneft forged in 2012 by Rex Tillerson”:

    Exxon Mobil Corp. has applied to the Treasury Department for a waiver from U.S. sanctions on Russia in a bid to resume its joint venture with state oil giant PAO Rosneft, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Exxon has been seeking U.S. permission to drill with Rosneft in several areas banned by sanctions and applied in recent months for a waiver to proceed in the Black Sea, according to these people.

    The Black Sea request is likely to be closely scrutinized by members of Congress who are seeking to intensify sanctions on Russia in response to what the U.S. said was its use of cyberattacks to interfere with elections last year. Congress has also launched an investigation into whether there were ties between aides to Donald Trump and Russia’s government during the presidential campaign and the political transition.

    The sanctions target operations with Rosneft involving the transfer of technology, banning U.S. companies from deals in the Arctic, Siberia and the Black Sea, areas that would require the sharing of cutting-edge drilling techniques. The sanctions, instituted after Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014, also bar dealings with Rosneft’s chief executive, Igor Sechin, saying he “has shown utter loyalty to Vladimir Putin—a key component to his current standing.”…

  61. says

    This is a follow-up to SC’s comment #16.

    Trevor Noah discussed “performance artist” Alex Jones and compared Jones to Trump.

    Scroll down to view the video, which is 5:53 minutes long.

  62. says

    SC @82, yep, very predictable. Still depressing.

    In other news, here is a follow-up to comment 79. Wonkette’s take on the deportation of DREAMers:

    Donald Trump is a caring, caring guy. Remember how he said his heart just breaks for kids who were brought to the USA by their parents when they were little, and who love America and want to stay here? As Trump said in an ABC interview in January, DREAMer folks wouldn’t be in any trouble, heck no:

    They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody […] Where you have great people that are here that have done a good job, they should be far less worried.

    […] On February 17, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers deported Juan Manuel Montes, a 23-year-old man registered with the DACA program, because he didn’t have his wallet or his DACA papers with him when he was questioned by a Border Patrol officer. He asked for the chance to go get his papers from the car, but hell no, boy, this is the New Cruelty you’re looking at here […]

    Montes had left his wallet in a friend’s car, so he couldn’t produce his ID or proof of his DACA status and was told by agents he couldn’t retrieve them. Within three hours, he was back in Mexico, becoming the first undocumented immigrant with active DACA status deported by the Trump administration’s stepped-up deportation policy. […]

    The National Immigration Law Center is working to help Montes, who is now living with his aunt and uncle in Mexico. […] To make matters worse, Montes also has a cognitive disability resulting from a brain injury. Or from the Border Patrol’s perspective, he’s the perfect target, because he was less prepared to make a fuss or defend his rights. […] He was taken to a Border Patrol station, asked to sign some papers and immediately sent to Mexico.

    Montes says he was confused when he was arrested in February: “They detained me, they took me to a center, they asked me a lot of questions, and I signed a lot of papers,” he said.

    Montes said he couldn’t understand anything he was signing and was not given any copies. Officers walked him to the U.S.-Mexico border and released him into Mexicali. […]

    He also didn’t do his own case much help after that: After being dropped off in Mexico, he planned to stay with a friend — who even drove across the border to get Montes’s wallet and some clothes for him. Before he could meet up with the friend again, Montes says, he was jumped from behind, robbed, and beaten, at which point he panicked and decided to head for home, joining a group of people climbing a fence over the border. He was almost immediately arrested and sent back to Mexico, so now he’s a dangerous illegal […]

    Mind you, Montes is No Angel. He was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of shoplifting in January 2016, and also has three arrests for driving without a license. So clearly, combined with that panicked fence jumping, he’s one of those Bad Hombres […] According to CBP guiidelines, those convictions are not serious enough to void his DACA protection, although his re-crossing the border after his dubiously legal deportation may do the trick. […]

    Oh, and would you believe Homeland Security is now lying about Montes’s DACA protection? A statement from CBP to NBC News claimed his DACA status “had expired in Aug. 2015 and he was notified at that time,” although his lawyers have copies of his current DACA paperwork showing he’s eligible to work in the U.S. until 2018. The Border Patrol statement focused on what a hardened criminal Montes is, saying he had a “conviction for theft for which he received probation” […]

    Excellent catch, Border Patrol! You got a brain-damaged, learning-disabled guy to sign papers he didn’t understand so you could toss him out of the country he considered home! It’s police work like that that’s going to Make America Great Again! […]

  63. says

    This is a follow-up to comments 51 and 53.

    A Chinese news outlet, Guancha.cn, dubbed the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson “Schrodinger’s U.S. aircraft carrier.”

  64. says

    “Russian journalist and Putin critic dies after being beaten up by strangers”:

    A Russian journalist known for his criticism of President Vladimir Putin has died after being beaten by unknown attackers, it has been reported.

    Nikolai Andrushchenko, 73, who co-founded the Novy Peterburg newspaper, was attacked six weeks ago and had been in a coma since then.

    He died on Wednesday in St Petersburg.

    His attackers have not been identified but Novy Peterburg editor Denis Usov linked the assault to articles in the newspaper about corruption in the city….

  65. says

    Where did the money go? This is, potentially, another Trump-related financial scandal.

    President Trump raised twice as much money for his inauguration festivities as any previous president-elect in history, pulling in tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors and large corporations eager to woo the nation’s new chief executive in the days after his unexpected victory.

    Disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday showed the contributions from corporate executives, lobbyists and businesses, as well as small donors, totaled $107 million. The previous record was held by President Barack Obama, who raised $53 million for his 2009 inauguration. […]

    NY Times link

    The inaugural committee for Trump’s poorly-attended, “American carnage” inaugural ceremonies has not disclosed where all that money went. The committee claims it will let us know at some time in the future to which charities it will give the leftover money. Just like Trump promised donations to charities?

    David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post wrote that the inaugural committee “said they’d tell us about their donations when they released fundraising numbers. They didn’t.”

  66. says

    Follow-up to comment 80.

    Okay. It’s official. O’Reilly is out.

    […] “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” the company [21st Century Fox} said in a statement. […]

    Allegations against O’Reilly date back to August 2016, when former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros filed a lawsuit that included claims that O’Reilly asked her to stay at his home on Long Island, which he said would be “very private.” He also allegedly said he could see her “as a wild girl.”

    The New York Times published an investigation earlier in April revealing that at least five women took a total of $13 million in settlements from O’Reilly or 21st Century Fox after making allegations of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior against the TV host and bestselling author.

    The Wall Street Journal reported on the same day that Fox News had recently renewed its contract with O’Reilly.

    At a press conference days later, former regular Fox News guest Wendy Walsh said that O’Reilly froze her out of a job opportunity after she turned down his inappropriate advances in 2013. […]

    Link

  67. says

    “Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents”:

    A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

    They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, after the election.

    The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office.

    The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

    It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

    A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said….

  68. says

    Compare the photo of the 2015 New England Patriots’ visit to the White House, (when the team gave President Obama a #44 jersey), to the photo of the greatly reduced number of New England Patriots who visited in 2017 (today), with Trump hosting the event.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/19/sports/-new-england-patriots-visit-white-house-donald-trump.html

    Shades of the inauguration crowd comparisons. That’s going to raise Trump’s ire. Even more of a schadenfreude moment for us:

    During a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, President Trump singled out several members of the New England Patriots, including wide receiver Danny Amendola, calling for them to raise a hand or step forward for acknowledgment. But Amendola was not there, nor were two dozen or more other players for the Super Bowl champions. […]

  69. says

    Dunderheaded Bill O’Reilly’s statement about being canned by Fox. Here’s an excerpt:

    […] It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. […]

    I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.

    Link

    O’Reilly also boasted:

    Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant new network in television.

  70. says

    In a way, this setup is perfect. Judge Curiel will oversee the case of the DREAMer who was deported.

    The same judge who Donald Trump smeared as “a Mexican” during the presidential campaign will preside over the case of the first known recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections to be deported.

    […] Juan Manuel Montes, 23, [will] have his lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security heard by Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Curiel’s assignment to the case was coincidental, the publication reported, as judges are selected based on a rotating schedule. […]

    In an interview in June 2016, after months of accusations from Trump that Curiel was biased against him, Trump said that Curiel ought to be ineligible to preside over the case because he was Mexican. However, Curiel was born in the United States, and is of Mexican descent.

    “We’re building a wall. He’s a Mexican,” Trump said, accusing Curiel of bias. […]

    According to the Associated Press, DHS acknowledged that Montes had received DACA protections in 2014 and renewed them for two years in 2016, but that he lost those protections when he left the country without permission.

    Montes’ attorneys said he did not leave voluntarily, but rather was deported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. […]

    Link

  71. says

    From Adam Peck’s “In Memoriam” for Bill O’Reilly’s career:

    Of all the racists, Islamophobes, misogynists, homophobes, and all-around hateful bigots ThinkProgress has chronicled since our inception 11 years ago, none have provided such a steady stream of nonsense as William James O’Reilly Jr.

    And so it is with mixed emotions that we must report the premature and yet also long-overdue demise of Mr. O’Reilly’s career. It was 42 years old. […]

    During his 21-year career with the network, he found an audience yearning for an old white man brave enough to defend slavery. They lapped up his observations on the LGBT community (how they are to blame for the War on Christmas, why they are basically the same thing as Al-Qaeda, that they are pedophiles), on abortion (that providers are basically asking to be murdered), and how the LGBT community is responsible for unrestricted abortion.

    In the face of overwhelming evidence, O’Reilly always remained steadfast in his insistence that children never go to bed hungry, that voter ID laws aren’t deliberately punitive toward minority communities, and that global warming is a fiction. Even when guests came to his Manhattan studio armed with indisputable facts, they were no match for O’Reilly’s unshakable opposition to accuracy. […]

  72. says

    Fox News intends to carry on in the Bill O’Reilly mode after O’Reilly is gone:

    Fox News may have just rid itself of a serially sexist and racist blowhard by ousting Bill O’Reilly, but the network promoted two racist clowns to help fill the void: Eric Bolling and Jesse Watters.

    As part of Fox’s primetime lineup reshuffling, its 5 p.m. roundtable gabfest The Five will move to the 9 p.m. slot vacated by Tucker Carlson, who will take over O’Reilly’s highly coveted 8 o’clock hour. Bolling will depart The Five to get his own 5 p.m. show, starting May 1. Replacing him on The Five will be Watters, O’Reilly’s long-time protege and henchman.

    Both of those smirking dudebros have histories of race-baiting that stretch as far back as some of O’Reilly’s serial sexual-harassing.

    Plucked from Wall Street to give trading analysis for Fox Business Network, Bolling has become one of the network’s most shameless attention-grabbers over the past near-decade. While manning ostensibly business-related shows for FBN (first Money Rocks, then Follow the Money), Bolling frequently played host to early racist birther conspiracies. On one occasion, he brought on infamous anti-Muslim bigot and birther Pamela Geller to inspect a cardboard cutout of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate. […]

    Link

  73. says

    From an interview with Chris Hayes. The interview was conducted by Ezra Klein:

    […] On Trump’s view that life is defined by zero-sum transactions

    The only belief I feel like he has, which forms the deepest core of his worldview, is this incredible belief in zero sumness in every domain at all times. Every single interaction is a pie that’s going to be cut between him and someone else. He’s going to win or lose. He’s going to fuck them or they’re going to fuck him. Like, it is unbelievable how he applies that to everything and how appealing it is to think in those terms.

    Avoiding the “doom loop” even though the world is on fire and nothing is true anymore

    I tend to think of it in terms of my own behavior. Like, what am I going to do? How am I going to avoid the doom loop? My whole approach to the Trump era is to act as if reality matters, facts matter, the basic political gravity of whether you make people’s lives better or worse matters, rigorous thinking, nonconspiratorial thinking, logical skepticism — all of these things, these principles I hold as a journalist, as a thinker, as a writer, as a citizen, they all matter. Act as if that’s the case, even with the knowledge they may not.

    I don’t know if in the end they will matter, but I can’t figure out how to conduct myself in my life or in my work if they don’t. I don’t have an alternative to that. I don’t know how to live in some sort of Hobbesian world of a war of all against all in which there are no rules and nothing matters and you can say whatever you want, whether it’s true or not, and be this sort of vengeful and petty person. I don’t know how to conduct myself in that world. The world I know how to conduct myself in is the world in which the values I believe in and hold and try to live by and work by win out in the end. […]

  74. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Lynna,

    Compare the photo of the 2015 New England Patriots’ visit to the White House, (when the team gave President Obama a #44 jersey), to the photo of the greatly reduced number of New England Patriots who visited in 2017 (today), with Trump hosting the event.

    As a Patriots fan, I’ve found these past few days heartening. I’m long past the point where I expect to admire or even like my teams’ players as people, but the past year has been especially difficult.

    Devin McCourty is now my favorite Patriot.

  75. says

    SC @ 93 – When I read that last paragraph my jaw hit the floor. When literally no one else in the media was talking about voter fraud, Trump would not shut up about it, claiming he wouldn’t accept the results of the election, unless he won. How was he not playing right along with the Russian agenda like it was a role in a movie? Unbelievable.

  76. says

    “Trump Adviser’s Visit to Moscow Got the F.B.I.’s Attention”:

    Ever since F.B.I. investigators discovered in 2013 that a Russian spy was trying to recruit an American businessman named Carter Page, the bureau maintained an occasional interest in Mr. Page. So when he became a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign last year and gave a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow institute, it soon caught the bureau’s attention.

    That trip last July was a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign, according to current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials.

    It is unclear exactly what about Mr. Page’s visit drew the F.B.I.’s interest: meetings he had during his three days in Moscow, intercepted communications of Russian officials speaking about him, or something else.

    Developments beyond Mr. Page’s trip may have heightened the F.B.I.’s concern about Russian meddling in the campaign. Paul Manafort, then Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, was already under criminal investigation in connection with payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. WikiLeaks and two websites later identified as Russian intelligence fronts had begun releasing emails obtained when Democratic Party servers were hacked.

    When the F.B.I. opened its investigation in late July, agents were just beginning to explore whether Mr. Trump’s advisers had contacts with Russian government officials or intelligence operatives, according to the current and former American officials, who spoke about the continuing inquiry on the condition of anonymity. In the months that followed, they said, more evidence came to light, including intercepts of Russian officials discussing Mr. Page and other Trump associates.

    In March of last year, Sam Clovis, an economics professor and Tea Party activist in Iowa, was asked by the Trump campaign to line up some foreign policy advisers. He produced the list that included Mr. Page….

  77. says

    I knew Karen Handel’s name sounded familiar!:

    …Handel is conservative, especially when it comes to abortion rights. After her failed gubernatorial bid in 2010, she joined the Komen foundation. As a vice president, she pushed to eliminate its funding of Planned Parenthood.

    After an outcry from women who help fund Komen, the money was restored, and Handel resigned in February 2012. She went on to write a scathing book that detailed her experience and blasted Planned Parenthood. It was called Planned Bullyhood….

  78. says

    Eric @105, one of the points made about Eric Prince (Betsy DeVos’s brother, and the head of Blackwater) was that he was pushing for or helping the Trump team to come up with ways to “reorganize” the intelligence agencies. This sounds like part of that.

    It is worrisome.

  79. says

    Some good news: Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore has been kicked off the state bench for good.

    The Alabama Supreme Court today upheld the decision that removed Roy Moore from his position as chief justice. […]

    Moore can’t appeal the ruling to the federal courts because there are no federal issues. “This is it,” he said.

    AL.com link

    Moore was suspended in 2003 when he did not comply with rulings about displaying the Ten Commandments. But voters later returned him to the bench. Moore “flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority” last year when he ordered Alabama probate judges to ignore Supreme Court rulings related to marriage equality.

    Now that he has been kicked to the curb permanently, that is good news for the justice system at the state level.

    Some bad news, Moore may run for the Senate in Alabama’s special election later this year. Aaarrrggghhh! We don’t want that guy in the Senate.

  80. says

    Talking about his appearance at the DMZ between North and South Korea, Pence sounded like Trump. Bluster and stupidity were on display:

    I thought it was important that we went outside. I thought it was important that people on the other side of the DMZ see our resolve in my face.

    Trump himself compounded the level of stupidity by insulting South Koreans:

    Compounding their anger over the Carl Vinson episode, many South Koreans were also riled at Mr. Trump for his assertion in a Wall Street Journal interview last week that the Korean Peninsula “used to be a part of China.” Although Korea was often invaded by China and forced to pay tributes to its giant neighbor, many Koreans say the notion that they were once Chinese subjects is egregiously insulting.

    The quoted text is from the New York Times.

    Steve Benen put together a list of countries that Trump has annoyed or offended so far:
    South Korea
    Great Britain
    Mexico
    Sweden
    Germany
    Australia
    China
    and others.

  81. says

    I can’t really post the Daily Kos coverage of Trump’s recent White House dinner guests: Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock.

    Nugent in particular is such a vile, misogynistic, and racist Trump supporter that the text in the article that quotes him would not pass muster here without me bleeping a lot of it.

  82. says

    @122 – Tangentially related to O’Reilly’s firing – Twitter is on fire right now about Chaffetz announcing he won’t run again, and that he may step down before his term is over. The article being linked makes it fairly obvious that he’s after O’Reilly’s gig, but don’t tell the Twittersphere led by Louis Mensch that. They are all convinced the Russian’s are blackmailing him, because Louis said so.

    I’m about to unfollow the entire “citizen journalist” brigade. They are muddying the waters.

  83. says

    don’t tell the Twittersphere led by Louis Mensch that

    Louise. Louise “Forsythia” Mensch, former Tory MP, receives far too much attention. It’s incredibly tiresome. After every story published based on the hard work of professional journalists, she takes to Twitter to announce that she “reported” it first. She and a handful of others whose names I’m tired of seeing just toss out dozens of claims based on flimsy evidence, many of them easily debunked, and then rush to latch onto any more credible and well-sourced claims that bear the vaguest of resemblances to one of their tweets.

  84. says

    yes, Louise, my bad. She blocked me a while ago for having the temerity to @reply her with out having at least 100 followers, which to her means I’m a bot, not that I really care. I block most followers intentionally. I’m not on Twitter to become a pied piper, just to curate news.

    126 seems entirely plausible as well. There may be legal trouble there somewhere and his stepping down to go private sector may just be to raise money for his legal defence.

  85. says

    My favorite theory about Chaffetz is that now that he no longer has Hillary Clinton to investigate, life has no meaning for him. Therefore, he is hoping to become Governor of Utah, a suitable for a job for a guy to whom life on earth is meaningless, and for whom the Celestial Kingdom beckons.

    Actually, I do believe that he is tired of sleeping on the cot in his office. However, the real reason for his upcoming disappearance act may be that he made a political calculation: If he sticks around he my be sucked under by Trump’s sinking ship. Even if Trump’s ship manages to stay afloat, being associated in any way with the Trump farce will be damaging for Chaffetz’s political career. He is looking to distance himself. That way, he can remain a Republican, a mormon, and a Utah celebrity.

  86. says

    Trump is fundraising for the Republican candidate in the upcoming Georgia runoff election.

    Now that we have a Republican nominee, Democrats will stop at nothing to tear down Karen Handel in Georgia. We must unite and fight back, Fellow Conservative.

    Please, make an emergency contribution RIGHT NOW to support Karen Handel in the Georgia special election.

    Translation: Jon Ossoff scares the pants off me.

  87. says

    I find articles like this one kind of amusing. Someone reports on one or another alleged leak about the investigation (see #93 above), and it’s invariably presented as something the public, and even the intelligence agencies, have desperately jumped on as the key to the entire puzzle. “At last, a smoking gun,” this one begins. Then they describe – themselves using sources very uncritically – how the Trump associate, Russian official, or organization mentioned in that particular story is really marginal, crazy, clueless, powerless, or otherwise a laughable linchpin for a conspiracy, thus casting doubt on the whole idea and on the competence of the intelligence agencies. But people reading the articles intelligently aren’t viewing each new report as the smoking gun or infallibly accurate in every detail, and read them in context. In fact, some leaks or some aspects of leaks might be purposeful disinformation meant to throw certain people off the trail.

  88. says

    Follow-up to What a Maroon @128.

    Marijuana is not a gateway drug. That “gateway” argument is a myth.

    Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly alleges that marijuana is a “dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs.”

    In fact, the available science concludes just the opposite.

    More than half of American adults have tried cannabis, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control. Statistically, the overwhelming majority of these individuals never go on to try another illicit substance, an empirical reality that persuaded investigators at the RAND Corporation to conclude, ”[M]arijuana has no causal influence over hard drug initiation.”

    Moreover, by the time these individuals reach age 30, most of them have significantly decreased their cannabis use or no longer indulge in the substance at all.

    Even more noteworthy is the reality that cannabis appears to act as a substitute or, in some cases, an exit drug for those struggling with drug abuse.

    For example, in jurisdictions where marijuana use is legally regulated, researchers have reported year-over-year declines in opioid-related abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

    According to data published in the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association, deaths attributable to both prescription opiates and heroin fell by 20 percent within a year following marijuana legalization and by 33 percent within six years. […]

    Link

  89. says

    The Cherokee Nation is suing drug firms. The lawsuit is related to the opioid-abuse epidemic:

    Lawyers for the Cherokee Nation filed a lawsuit Thursday against six major drug distributors and pharmacies, accusing them of targeting and flooding their communities with hundreds of millions of highly addictive pain drugs, […]

    It’s the first lawsuit filed by an American Indian nation against drug companies claiming they have hurt their communities,[…]

    “Defendants turned a blind eye to the problem of opioid diversion [into the black market] and profited from the sale of prescription opioids to the citizens of the Cherokee Nation in quantities that far exceeded the number of prescriptions that could reasonably have been used for legitimate medical purposes,” the suit reads.

    The suit lists AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corp., which are reportedly three of the nation’s largest drug distributors, controlling almost 85 percent of the country’s prescription pill distribution.

    The suit also names major corporations who sell drugs including CVS, Walgreens and Wal-Mart.

    The Cherokee Nation hopes to obtain access to internal company records that might show whether the companies were aware of the wide distribution on Indian domains in northeastern Oklahoma, according to the suit filed in tribal court. […]

    Link

  90. says

    Trump is going to miss another deadline, and he is going to break another campaign promise:

    President Trump faces a Thursday deadline to release a report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election — one he appears unlikely to meet.

    Trump made the promise in January while swatting down reports about a dossier that allegedly suggested connections between his campaign and Russia.

    “My people will have a full report on hacking within 90 days!” he announced in a January tweet

    But it appears that little work has taken place within the administration to produce the report. […]

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a written statement it was “deeply distressing” that the president would “not only miss this deadline, but that the work has not even begun.” […]

    Link

  91. says

    My favorite theory about Chaffetz is that now that he no longer has Hillary Clinton to investigate, life has no meaning for him. Therefore, he is hoping to become Governor of Utah, a suitable for a job for a guy to whom life on earth is meaningless, and for whom the Celestial Kingdom beckons.

    LOL.

    Actually, I do believe that he is tired of sleeping on the cot in his office. However, the real reason for his upcoming disappearance act may be that he made a political calculation: If he sticks around he my be sucked under by Trump’s sinking ship. Even if Trump’s ship manages to stay afloat, being associated in any way with the Trump farce will be damaging for Chaffetz’s political career. He is looking to distance himself. That way, he can remain a Republican, a mormon, and a Utah celebrity.

    The weird thing is that he’s been such a partisan hack for the first few months of Trump,* and so tolerant and even abetting (as when he went after Walter Shaub at the OGE) of Trump’s and his associates’ corruption and flouting of the law, that at this point he would have to completely change course and start doing his job in order to get any distance. If he were to continue along the path he’s been on or just resign, his accommodation of kleptocracy would be his lasting political image.

    * And of course long before.

  92. says

    A contrary perspective to the article linked to @ #131. (The Moscow Times piece, oddly enough, suggests that since it’s been funded and staffed by the Kremlin its influence has become questionable: “‘Yes, Putin appoints its director, but it doesn’t mean RISI is close to him, or especially powerful’, Galeotti says.”)

  93. says

    SC @135, Chaffetz may have thought at first that he could work with Trump, and/or that he could weather the storm. However, the Trump storm turned out to be a tidal wave of lies and ignorance that even the great Jason Chaffetz could not surf.

    In other news about that new GOP health plan being cooked up in the House of Representatives. The basic outline remains: charge sick people more, offer fewer benefits, and give rich people a big tax break. Vox link

  94. says

    I didn’t think this day in the US could get any more grotesquely absurd (see #s 116 and 121 above). Ted Cruz on Rebekah Mercer:

    Their approach is multi­faceted. From think tanks to public-policy organizations to online media to path-breaking data analytics, Bekah has helped transform the world of politics. She understands the populist frustration with the bipartisan corruption in Washington, and she is one of the strongest champions of draining the swamp.

  95. says

    Wonkette covered some stupidity in Idaho:

    Never content to let Texas, Florida, or other former members of the Confederacy monopolize the competition for Most Embarrassing Bunch Of Redneck Bigots, a group of Idaho Republicans has adopted a resolution opposing the creation of a new community college in eastern Idaho.

    Idaho has historically lagged behind the rest of the nation in providing two-year colleges, […] the Boise area only got its first community college in 2007, for Crom’s sake. But the Bonneville County Republican Party’s opposition to the proposal to upgrade Eastern Idaho Technical College in Idaho Falls into a full community college is only partly based in opposition to the cost (and liberal indoctrination!) of an expanded educational facility. The local Rs are also terrified the new school will attract a whole bunch of Muslim refugees, furthering the already rampant takeover of rural Idaho by scary Muslims who are all terrorists, rapists, and terrorapists.

    […] the Bonneville Rs are typical of the folks who make Idaho a true two-party state: Rightwing Republicans, and Barking Mad Wingnut John Bircher Rightwing Republicans. […]

    For the past few years, Idaho wingnuts — including of course the “III Percent” militia, because what good is a rightwing political freakout without an armed wing — have been freaking out over the supposed invasion of Idaho by radical Islamists,[…] The supposed hotbed of Islamic radicalism for the whole state is a refugee center at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, […] the center has been around for 30 years […] a bunch of heavily armed paranoid idiots found out about it during the Syrian refugee crisis, and why would you let a good chance for a gun-toting nationalist panic go to waste? […]

    Once these things have been created, who knows what kind of weird stuff they’re going to do?

    Pretty much the usual community college stuff: community education, vocational training, spreading sharia law, providing a low-cost chance for new students to get their general-education credits out of the way before transferring to a university, teaching the basics of bomb-making and subverting Christianity, adult education, and of course indoctrinating the young with radical liberal ideology. […]

    I would add that Republicans in eastern Idaho are also mostly mormons. They might not like seeing the higher education offerings of Brigham Young University Idaho, in Rexburg, be subjected to competition from a community college in nearby Idaho Falls.

  96. says

    Please, not another bullying move from team Trump. Now the team is threatening to prompt a government shutdown if they don’t get their way.

    The White House, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government shutdown fight to secure money for a border wall, more immigration enforcement officers and a bigger military, according to White House and congressional sources familiar with the plan.

    It is a risky gambit. With almost uniform Democratic opposition to nearly all of the Trump administration’s spending proposals, the fight could lead to a government shutdown next Friday…. Congressional Republicans, desperately looking to avoid a shutdown scare, are eyeing a modest increase for border security — perhaps an increase in funding for surveillance technology — and a small uptick in military spending. But two senior White House officials say they want a bigger win out of the fight, and an important deadline might help. […]

    Politico link

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Meanwhile, Mulvaney, Trump’s far-right budget chief, is suggesting he doesn’t much care if the government shuts down or not. […] “I think the consequences [of government shutdowns] have been blown out of proportion.” This is consistent with what we know about Mulvaney’s approach to governing: while in Congress, the Republican, a founder of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, celebrated the 2013 government shutdown as “good policy.”

    […] The White House’s 100-day benchmark is the day after the funding deadline, and Trump shouldn’t want a pointless shutdown to be his most notable accomplishment to date.

    If, however, Mulvaney and the rest of Team Trump back down and abandon their plans, the president would once again look like a weak paper tiger, talking tough but failing to follow through when the pressure’s on.

    For the record, there’s never been a shutdown when one party controlled the White House and Congress. Next week, if it happens, would be a historic first.

  97. says

    @145 re: Mulvaney – There was an episode of “Deadliest Catch” that perfectly illustrated how wrong Mulvaney is. During the 2013 shutdown there was no one to issue fishing permits which shut down fisherman all over the US right at the start of the season, keeping boats docked and costing boat owners and their crews hundreds of millions of dollars.

    When they can’t crab, they don’t eat. There is no unemployment, or vacation time to burn through.

  98. says

    Bill O’Reilly is getting a $25 million golden parachute. Fox paid $13 million to five women. O’Reilly gets $25 million all for himself. It looks like Fox paid O’Reilly to harass women.
    Daily Beast link

  99. says

    On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to Congress that confirmed that Iran is meeting its commitments under the international nuclear deal that was signed during the Obama administration.

    That’s good, right?

    Here’s what Trump had to say today:

    They [Iran] are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed. It was a terrible agreement, it shouldn’t have been signed, it shouldn’t have been negotiated the way it was negotiated.

    They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that. And we are analyzing it very carefully, and we will have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future.

    Link

    Despite the good news in the letter he sent to Congress, Tillerson said this in reference to Iran:

    […] [Iran is engaging in] alarming and ongoing provocations that export terror and violence, destabilizing more than one country at a time.

    […] an unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea, and take the world along with it.

    The Trump administration is currently conducting a comprehensive review of our Iran policy.

    Once we have finalized our conclusions, we will meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction.

    Sounds to me like team Trump is handing to Iran an excuse to resume its nuclear enrichment program for the development of nuclear weapons. It also sounds like team Trump is beating the drums for war.

  100. says

    SC @151, former First Ladies all seem to respect each other. They know that “First Lady” is a difficult position to fill, no matter what one’s politics are.

    What I see from Nugent, Palin, Trump, Bannon, etc. is not only disrespect for Hillary Clinton, but disrespect for the position of “First Lady” and for the White House.

    In addition, there’s so much hatred behind the disrespect. Nugent thinks it is okay to tell Hillary Clinton to “ride” his gun. That Trump brought that kind of attitude into the White House is just mind boggling.

    It’s sort of an ahistorical frat party of the worst kind.

  101. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    re 139 and 144,

    You mean the island in the Pacific that is part of a chain that was annexed by the US in a blatantly imperialist move when the rest of the world wasn’t paying attention, where the native population was oppressed and their language suppressed, which was turned into a forward base for the US military, which suffered the worst attack on US territory during the Second World War, and which finally received a modicum of justice when it became the 50th state?

    Yeah, that island.

  102. says

    Wonkette covered the “meth-addled Juggalos” who got invited to the White House for dinner (Palin, Nugent, and Kid Rock).

    […] the crowd of party animals took time to pose in front of the White House portrait of Hillary Clinton. “Make a funny face, momma and you boys,” [Willow, Palin’s daughter] probably said as she tried to figure out how to take a picture without putting out her Capri Menthol 120. So Sarah and the Nuge did their best “doy doy doy!” faces, while Kid Rock looked away from the camera. […]

    And then they ate a dinner of meat chunks and Doritos, and talked about bombs […] and grizzly bears, until finally everybody passed out in a redneck puppy pile until Trump’s “Get up and play Twitter” alarm went off at 3 AM. […]

  103. says

    From the New York Times:

    For 21st Century Fox, the network’s parent company, payouts related to sexual harassment allegations at Fox News now total more than $85 million. The vast majority of that — up to $65 million in exit packages — is being paid to the men who were ousted from the network because of the harassment allegations.

  104. says

    I’m writing a post about the unbelievable disrespect Trump, his gang, and the Republican Party have shown for Obama, his administration, Clinton, the Democrats, and the public generally (particularly women and minorities, but not only). A profound contempt they’ve expressed in almost everything they’ve done for the past nine years. A major part of it is how the Republicans could treat Obama so disrespectfully for so many years* and then rally behind and defend Trump. It shows such disdain not just for Obama and the Democrats but for the institutions and the nation, and for basic civility and decency. Their policies make me furious, but the disrespect literally makes me feel sick.

    I think that’s why the picture with Clinton’s portrait struck me so forcefully – it condenses all of that fundamental disrespect in a single image. It’s not a small thing. History won’t forget it. I’m not sure we’ve really faced up to the reality of the situation.

    * It continues with their slanderous claims about Obama and Susan Rice, for which they feel no remorse and no obligation to apologize when their lies are debunked.

  105. says

    158 – Like I said, he wants the O’Reilly Gig and / or a run for gov 2020, prez 2028. I don’t think he’s implicated in anything. People’s conspiracy thinking is getting out of hand on our side.

  106. says

    158 – Like I said, he wants the O’Reilly Gig and / or a run for gov 2020,…

    No congenitally ambitious politician like Chaffetz not only suddenly announces he won’t run for re-election but that he might resign within months – a few months into a new term – to take a TV gig without something strange going on behind the scenes. Especially since he’d be leaving a powerful House position on a bad and unpopular note. It doesn’t take a conspiracy bent to suspect that there’s something funny going on. It doesn’t have to involve international intrigue, but there definitely seems to be something. It’s too weird. (Your veering between embracing extreme conspiracy theories – and projecting it onto others – and the rejection of all reasonable speculation regarding suspicious events is exhausting, to be honest.)

  107. says

    I had Chris Hayes on pause while I was typing, but Leon Wolf just said the same thing I’ve been saying: that a sensible move for Chaffetz would be to spend the rest of his term aggressively going after Trump. It likely wouldn’t hurt him in Utah (and from what I’ve seen could well be politically beneficial). For some reason, he seems totally disinclined to do this.

    Incidentally, O’Reilly filmed I believe in New York. I don’t think any Fox shows film in Utah, so the “spending time with my family” deal, which was Chaffetz’ first rationale, wouldn’t hold up if he took that job.

  108. says

    @160 – oh come on now, you aren’t being fair. In 127 I agreed that your theory was entirely plausible and I still think so. When I talk about “conspiracy thinking” I’m talking about the very same names that you were in complete agreement with me about in your 125, not anyone in this thread.

  109. says

    When I talk about “conspiracy thinking” I’m talking about the very same names that you were in complete agreement with me about in your 125, not anyone in this thread.

    Well, he might be implicated in something – your remark seemed to suggest that the very idea was silly (my little “theory” was something I do think is plausible but I have no idea if there’s anything to it). Nor do I consider Mensch to be on my side. She’s literally a Tory (and can’t tell the difference between Dmitry Rybolovlev and Ernie Els).

  110. says

    @ 165 – I’m sorry for not being clearer. I don’t think your idea was silly at all. I’m just trying to wrap my head around today’s major events which I see as:

    1. Chaffetz announcement.
    2. McCord announcement (105)
    3. Sessions going after Assange.

    I think they are all related to a big shoe that’s about to drop, and I’m afraid of what it might be.

  111. says

    And by “major events” I mean as related to #trumprussia , which is my current obsession. I know O’Reilly is bigger news for women, and a major victory in that sense. I’m very happy about him going down in flames and very proud of those who worked hard to bring him down. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of that.

  112. says

    @171 – what a disgusting pig he is. Reminds me of why I quit reading L Ron Hubbard Sci Fi after Battlefield Earth, which I read when I was 12 or so. I loved it, read it twice, because well…. I was 12. But then started reading the Mission Earth series, and about a book and a half in, I started realizing I was reading about this asshole’s rape fantasies.

    O’Reilly gets to walk away apparently with a $25m severance fee, which is also disgusting, and I hope his victims sue every penny of it from him, but until they do, I suspect asshole will keep standing on rope lines for popes and other celebrities who are willing to ignore his animalistic behavior, so I don’t think he’s going to kill or physically rape anybody, yet.

    I expect we’ll see pics of him hanging with Palin, Kid Rock and Nugent pissing on original copies of the Constitution with crack pipes to their lips before too long.

  113. says

    Perquita Burgess’ adjective “plantational” is poetic and perfect.

    ***

    O’Reilly gets to walk away apparently with a $25m severance fee, which is also disgusting, and I hope his victims sue every penny of it from him, but until they do, I suspect asshole will keep standing on rope lines for popes and other celebrities who are willing to ignore his animalistic behavior, so I don’t think he’s going to kill or physically rape anybody, yet.

    There’s a lot wrong with this. I’m going to step away rather than respond in the moment.

  114. says

    There’s a lot wrong with this. I’m going to step away rather than respond in the moment.

    Only if you view everything I say in the worst possible light, because, of course you do. Because I’m me, and nothing I can say or contribute here isn’t poisoned by the fact that I’m a middle aged white guy who’s been open about the fact that I’ve struggled with my own inherent prejudices and proclivities in order to try and stay on the right side of history.

    It’s ok though, sometimes I think I only come here for the abuse.

  115. says

    Let me rephrase that, I’m not a victim, and don’t mean to portray myself as such, that was rude and immature of me. My apologies.

    rephrasing: SC – Would you please, in a fair way, tell me what what was wrong with what I said? I honestly can’t fathom it. I was just saying that as long as Bill has a million or two in the bank, he’s not likely to lash out on his own violent fantasies…. not likely… but he still could. He’s self interested, and self interested rich white guys usually manage to keep it together, with a few exceptions like Phil Spector and Oscar Pistorius.

  116. says

    I’m sorry. I have very little outlet for my political frustrations. I’m on twitter but I stay mostly hidden there because it’s a rat’s nest that I can’t stomach for too long. I quit Facebook in protest of the role they played /continue to play in the identification and targeting of the weak minded, and I am not inclined to burden my RL friends with my political rantings, so I thought this was a safe space for me to vent. I was obviously mistaken. I’ll bow out and just lurk. It’s not my intention to derail or draw attention to myself here, I’m sorry that I have done so.

  117. says

    From Sherman’s full article referred to in #108:

    Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz — who shocked the political establishment when he announced his retirement earlier this week — said that he has already started looking for post-congressional employment, and hopes to serve on boards of directors and link up with a television network.

    “I started poking around to see what I might be worth and what sort of possibilities are there,” Chaffetz said in a phone interview with POLITICO Thursday afternoon. “And I got a series of ‘Let us know when you’re serious.’ Well now I can say, ‘Can you tell I am serious?’… I’ll take a little bit of time to sort out. I’d be thrilled to have a television relationship. But there’s a number of things I’d like to do.”…

  118. says

    RE my 174-176 – ok, I was exhausted last night, haven’t been sleeping well, work’s been stressful, and so waking up with a fresh set of eyes, and without even refreshing the page to see the slew of comments that are sure to be there, I know exactly what was wrong with what I said. I was only trying to set up my joke about him hanging out with the 3 miscreants that were allowed to disgrace the white house with their presence yesterday, not perpetuate rape culture.

    Bill O’Reilly absolutely exhibits every mark of a sexual predator and no woman should ever feel safe around him. I did not intent to perpetuate rape culture by saying he’s not likely to act out because he’s rich. Of course that makes no difference and would be a horribly stupid defence if he were accused. I apologize for how that came off.

  119. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    Last night, I was watching CNN while treading on the walkmill. King (R) was being interviewed about Korea. And he stated (paraphrased because I cannot find any of this (I do not even rate a white belt in Googlefu): ‘What if Korea uses one of these nuclear weapons against an Asian country? Or, even worse, what if, god forbid, they used it against Europe or America?’ I almost fell off the treadmill as my mind tried to process the racism and bigotry in that short statement.

  120. says

    “Breitbart Is Not Independent, It’s The Communications Arm Of The Mercers’ Empire: Top Editors Use Their Roles At Breitbart To Flack For Other Mercer Ventures They Also Work For”:

    Breitbart.com serves as the communications arm of a web of nonprofit and for-profit entities owned or supported by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah. The conservative website shares staff with those organizations and regularly promotes their work.

    White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon was executive chairman of both Breitbart and the conservative research organization Government Accountability Institute (GAI) from 2012 to 2016. Breitbart Managing Editor Wynton Hall and Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer also serve as GAI’s communications strategist and president, respectively. The Mercers are part-owners of Breitbart and their foundation is GAI’s primary funder.

    The committee that handles congressional press credentialing is currently reviewing Breitbart’s claims of editorial independence in response to the website’s bid for permanent credentials. The committee has to this point denied Breitbart’s request and has expressed concern about Breitbart’s practice of sharing key staff with GAI and its connections to the Mercers.

    A Media Matters review of the website’s reporting finds that these concerns are justified: Breitbart regularly promotes the research and films generated by its owners’ and top editors’ other projects. In hundreds of articles over the past six years, Breitbart’s reporters have produced what amounts to press release copy for GAI, highlighting its findings, aggregating stories about politicians responding to GAI’s reports, and posting videos of GAI leaders — who are also Breitbart editors — discussing their work on television.

    The conflicts of interest don’t stop with GAI. Bannon and the Mercers also co-founded and own the film production company Glittering Steel; Breitbart’s editorial resources have been used to promote that firm’s documentaries.

    This intermingling of private, news, and nonprofit organizations culminated in the production and promotion of Clinton Cash, the 2015 anti-Clinton book authored by Peter Schweizer, reportedly based on research he led at GAI….

    Hall and Schweizer have additional conflicts of interest outside of GAI:…

    At every turn, this web of financial interests created unparalleled journalistic ethics quandaries that refute Breitbart’s claims that the site functions as a news organization independent from other groups.

  121. says

    Here we go again.

    […] Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the economic growth that would result from the proposed tax cuts would be so extreme — close to $2 trillion over 10 years — that it would come close to recouping all of the lost revenue from the dramatic rate reductions. Some other new revenue would come from eliminating certain tax breaks, although he would not specify which ones. “The plan will pay for itself with growth”.

    The quoted text is from the Washington Post.

    Republicans have made that claim before. They even came up with a fancy word for the magic tax fairy “dynamic scoring.” Tax cuts of not pay for themselves by increasing growth-based revenue.
    NY Times link

    Also, please review yet again, the failure of just such a policy in Kansas. Link

    The Congressional Budget Office also does not believe in the magic tax fairy. Link

    If Republicans persist with their plan to cut taxes, the wealthy will reap most of the benefit, the gap between rich and poor will increase, the government will offer fewer services that enable people to maintain or climb into the middle class, and the deficit will rise. But it is a safe bet that Trump will push just such a tax policy.

    No, no, tax cuts for the wealthy do not pay for themselves.

  122. says

    SC @185, team Trump paid a high price in terms of credibility just to delay that testimony for a few weeks.

    More behind-the-scenes farces involving Ezra Cohen-Watnick:

    Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the White House staffer who reportedly helped funnel intelligence reports to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was at the heart of another, much more behind-the-scenes Trump administration drama, the Guardian reported Thursday.

    A retired marine serving as the CIA’s liaison to the White House was summarily dismissed in mid-March, sources told the newspaper, after a clash with Cohen-Watnick, the 30-year-old intelligence director for the National Security Council.

    “It was the most disrespectful thing they could have done,” an anonymous White House official aware of the incident told the Guardian, praising the professionalism of the former staffer, who has since returned to the CIA. “He’s a good man. What happened to him was fucked up.” […]

    Cohen-Watnick, a protégé of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, was reportedly almost fired himself amid an internal struggle for control over national security policy in Trump’s White House. […]

    Cohen-Watnick was later reported to be one of the sources who played a role in getting Nunes to the White House to view classified intelligence reports that Nunes claimed show the identities of members of Trump’s campaign staff were inappropriately unmasked. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers who later viewed those same intelligence reports say the documents indicate no improper surveillance, and are instead standard intercepts of conversations that involve individuals targeted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

    Talking Points Memo link

  123. says

    Bill O’Reilly really believed that he was fired because of a liberal conspiracy, and not because he sexually harassed dozens of women:

    […] In the emails one of his lawyers accidentally sent to a Politico reporter, O’Reilly revealed that he thought he had one final shot at saving his job: evidence of an actual liberal conspiracy aimed at getting him fired. The evidence was an email from a Democratic fundraiser named Mary Pat Bonner setting up conference calls with Media Matters President Angelo Carusone to discuss “the success of the campaign so far, and our plans moving forward.” […]

    This was in fact a very deliberate and organized campaign to get O’Reilly fired by driving media coverage of his behavior and harassment lawsuits and specifically getting advertisers to pull out of his show. Of course, this revelation is hardly a revelation since the campaign was not only well-known but its publicity was the nature of the campaign itself. […] It amounted to taking the original Times story about the multiple lawsuits, blaring it as far and as wide as possible and organizing or threatening boycotts against advertisers who didn’t end their relationship with O’Reilly’s show.

    So let’s stipulate. There was an organized campaign. It was run largely by liberal activists. And everybody f’ing knew about it! […]

    I can imagine being on some panel and arguing with some conservative pundit about whether this proves liberal bias or that O’Reilly is a victim or something about free speech or a million other things. […] The key though is not that O’Reilly thought this was true but that he thought it could be effective in saving his job.

    In other words, he thought there was a chance that the people deciding his fate would see this email and think “Hey, wait a second! We were going to fire O’Reilly. But now it turns out we’re just being set up, used as pawns by liberals like Mary Pat Bonner to get us to fire O’Reilly, who’s really the victim in all this!”

    […] why would O’Reilly think that this email amounted to anything? I would submit that in this final moment, O’Reilly was duped by the ‘war on christmas’, liberal media bias dumbshit victimology racket he had been selling on his show for two decades: comically melodramatic, victim-preening nonsense aimed at whipping up feelings of resentment and rage. In other words, he was deluded in these final moments of his cable TV existence by his own racket! […]

    Link

  124. says

    Part of Trump’s defense in the lawsuit(s) being brought by three people who say that he incited rally attendees to harass and physically intimidate them is that demonstrators “obviously interfered with the Trump campaign’s First Amendment right” when they “began vigorously expressing their disdain for Mr. Trump.”

    This new argument follows an earlier defense that claimed Trump is immune from lawsuits because he is president.

    More from Trump’s lawyers:

    Even if Mr. Trump implicitly instructed the audience to remove the protesters by using force if necessary, his speech was still entirely lawful and protected under the First Amendment unless he advocated a greater degree of force than was necessary under the circumstances.

    Absent that type of unlawful advocacy, Mr. Trump cannot be held liable for incitement. It makes no difference whether the crowd reacted with unlawful violence beyond what Mr. Trump advocated.

  125. says

    Hillary Clinton spoke at The Center, an LGBT community center in New York. Here is an excerpt from her remarks:

    We’ve learned something important. The progress that we fought for, that many of you were on the front lines of, and that we’ve celebrated, and maybe even taken for granted, may not be as secure as we once expected.

    [Clinton talked about team Trump lifting the Obama-era protections for transgender students at public schools, nominating the anti-LGBT Tennessee legislator Mark Green to be Army secretary, etc.]

    I also really appreciate that, after the election, you came together and decided unanimously to invest in advocacy and organizing. This is the right step. This is absolutely essential, that you do this.

    [Clinton also discussed reports from Chechnya that gay and bisexual men were tortured and killed.]

    The United States government — yes this government — should demand an end to the persecution of innocent people around the world.

    But I think we have to face the fact that we may not ever be able to count on this administration to lead on LGBT issues. […] Let’s remember, 2018, the midterm elections!

    CNN aired the video. Link

  126. says

    New England Patriots NFL football player and Super Bowl winner Alan Branch had some more to say about Trump:

    […] What President Trump said on the bus really struck a nerve with me. I’m a father of three daughters and I have a son as well. I can’t see myself having any type of interest to go see a person who would say those things. I have a baby boy, not even a year old yet. I don’t want him to grow up thinking saying stuff like that is all right at any point in his life…

    It’s disgusting the way that he talks about women and I just can’t deal with it and that’s why I have no interest in going and shaking his hand. I’ve gotta go back home and look my daughters in the eye, and I don’t want them to view me in a different light just because I did that. […]

    CNN link

  127. tomh says

    @ #188
    It’s easy to see why O’Reilly feels victimized. After all, Donald Trump is accused by 17 women of the same things that O’Reilly gets fired for – heck, Trump even bragged about it on video. Yet, poor Bill gets fired and Trump … well, we see where Trump is. The world is so unfair.

  128. says

    Former MythBusters host Adam Savage was interviewed by MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle about the March for Science:

    RUHLE: On Earth Day this Saturday, tens of thousands of people are expected to march in the March for Science. The main march will take place along the National Mall in D.C., but satellite marches are taking place across the country and take a look, even around the world. In fact there will be 517 satellite marches taking place across the globe on Saturday. […] And one person who is going to be marching is someone I definitely recognize from his hit show on Discovery, Mythbusters. He’s also going to be the keynote speaker at the San Fran March, and he joins me now, Adam Savage. Adam, why exactly are you doing this march? Is it in response to anything in particular?

    SAVAGE: Yes, it is in response to the fact that we live in a time where people are passing legislation like in North Carolina to not pay attention to science when making legislation about coastal water levels rising. That is absolutely ludicrous and and anti — anti-human. We need to make, as you just said, policies based on the best evidence we have available to us, and that’s why I’m marching.

    RUHLE: And when you talk about this March for Science, there’s a lot of focus going to be on climate change. But besides climate change as the main issue, what other issues do you want to put in the forefront that we might not be thinking about?

    SAVAGE: I want people to understand that science is not something that smart people are doing off in the corner just to create facts for us to know. It is an ongoing process by which humans make our world better. And although it’s a stressful time politically, no matter which side of the aisle you fall on, all of us want the same thing. We want a better world for our kids and for our loved ones and for our future. And science and making policy based on, again, the best evidence we have is the way to achieve that.

    Link

  129. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 193.

    Right-wing outlets and fake news purveyors are spinning a Guardian report to falsely claim that former CIA Director John Brennan “colluded” with foreign countries to target President Donald Trump.

    Communications between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials was gathered incidentally by other countries by during routine monitoring of Russian activity.

    Many of these same outlets previously used this Guardian article to falsely suggest that Fox analyst Andrew Napolitano was vindicated in his claim about collusion between the British and former President Barack Obama. […]

    Link

  130. says

    Trump is facing more questions about his immigration policies:

    A group of Senate Democrats is demanding to know whether some members of an expedited airport screening program have had their status revoked because of their religion.

    […] lawmakers pressed the agency on media reports that individuals with Arab and Muslim-sounding names are having their membership to the Global Entry program revoked without explanation. […]

    Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) spearheaded the letter, which comes as the administration faces criticism from the left over its policies impacting the Muslim community. […]

    “The allegation that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) cancelled Trusted Traveler memberships because the member had a ‘Muslim-sounding name’ is completely false,” the CBP said in a statement.

    The agency said that the reports stemmed from initial confusion over who was impacted by Trump’s travel ban, which has since been put on hold twice by federal judges. After further guidance was issued by the White House, CBP reinstated trusted travelers who were no longer subject to the executive order. […]

    The Hill link

  131. says

    Team Trump took their first step in a bullying campaign against “sanctuary cities”:

    On Friday, the Department of Justice sent letters to a handful of jurisdictions that currently receive federal funding for law enforcement, with what seems like an innocuous request: they have 2 months to “provide documentation” proving that they’re in full compliance with a federal law about information-sharing, in order to continue qualifying for federal grants in the coming fiscal year.

    But that uncontroversial request — asking cities to prove they obey a law that pretty much all of them say they already obey — is the Trump administration’s attempt to turn up the heat on so-called “sanctuary cities.” […]

    Vox link

    Redefining “sanctuary city” may also be a move that team Trump plans to take.

    More background info:

    […] The Supreme Court doesn’t let the federal government tell cities and states which laws to prosecute, and it can’t force them to help enforce federal law. That’s called “commandeering,” and the Supreme Court has ruled it violates the 10th Amendment. This is why President-elect Trump can’t just decree that all police officers in the US have to assist federal immigration agents whenever possible.

    If the federal government wants to get states to do something, it has to use funding: making grants to states or cities conditional on certain policies. This is why the legal drinking age is 21 in most states: Thanks to legislation passed in 1984 and pushed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the federal government started refusing to give federal highway funds to any state with a lower drinking age.

    What the federal government can’t do is place conditions on grants that have nothing to do with the grant’s purpose. (It couldn’t deny Small Business Administration grants, for example, to states that allowed unauthorized immigrants to get driver’s licenses.) Nor can it put conditions on funding to the point of being “coercive” — even if those conditions are relevant to the purpose of the grant. That, too, courts have judged, runs afoul of the 10th Amendment. […]

  132. says

    Wonkette commented on the voter suppression tactics that Republicans are bringing to Georgia in preparation for the special election runoff in June.

    Well, Jesus. H. Jumped-Up Christ Marching Across The Edmund Pettus Bridge Into Tear Gas, they’re at it again. Fine, not in Selma, but in Georgia, where the state is doing what it can to reduce the turnout for the June 20 runoff election for the 6th Congressional District seat formerly held by Secretary of Destroying Healthcare Tom Price.

    Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff may have been the top vote-getter in the primary Tuesday, with 48% of the vote, but that was just short of the 50% plus one to win outright, so Ossoff will face the next-highest candidate, Republican Karen Handel, in the runoff. […] If Georgians want to vote in this election, which has suddenly become one of the hottest political stories in the country, they had to have registered by March 20, a full three months before the runoff.

    Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office insists the runoff is simply an extension of the primary held Tuesday, so obviously the registration cutoff for that primary is the final cutoff. Letting new voters register for the runoff would taint the purity of the vote, don’t you know. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is suing in federal court to have registration available until May 22, 30 days before the runoff, citing the National Voter Registration Act (aka the “Motor Voter” Law), which requires voters be allowed to register to vote in any federal election 30 days beforehand. Ezra Rosenberg, the co-director of the Lawyers’ Committee voting rights project, says this is a no-brainer:

    “The case is actually a very, very simple case,” Rosenberg told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “Federal law specifically defines elections as including runoff elections.” […]

    Slam dunk, easy-peasy, get on with the registration and campaigning, and may the best candidate win, right? Oh, but there’s a catch, and it’s a beaut: A spokesperson for Kemp, Candice Broce, Georgiasplained [that] voters must be registered for the primary election in order to vote in a runoff resulting from that primary. […]

    […] Yr Wonkette is not an elections lawyer, but it seems to us that since the runoff is, in effect, the equivalent of a general election, and since federal law specifically defines runoffs as one form of election that can’t have a registration cutoff farther out than 30 days, it doesn’t make a bit of sense for registration for an election in June to have a cutoff date three months in advance.

    Oh, sorry. We were using logic that assumes “letting people vote” is a good thing. Georgia’s logic is clearly predicated on keeping too many people from voting, because what if the wrong kind of people decide they want to vote?

  133. says

    What Trump said during a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni:

    Through the ages your country has been a beacon of artistic and scientific achievement. That continues today. From Venice to Florence, from Verdi to Pavarotti—friend of mine. Great friend of mine. […]

    Pavarotti died ten years ago.

    What Mr. Pavarotti’s family said:

    As members of his immediate family, we would like to recall that the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the world view offered by the candidate Donald Trump.

  134. says

    All right. Let’s chalk this one up as a win.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday afternoon announced that the Treasury Department would not grant ExxonMobil a waiver from U.S. sanctions to resume its drilling ventures in Russia.

    “In consultation with President Donald J. Trump, the Treasury Department will not be issuing waivers to U.S. companies, including Exxon, authorizing drilling prohibited by current Russian sanctions,” Mnuchin said in a statement. […]

    Link

    I’m giving some credit to public-information campaigns that made it difficult for Trump to comply with Exxon’s request.

    This doesn’t mean we can relax when it comes to Russian sanctions. Trump can move to reduce Russian sanctions later. I think he just hasn’t yet figured out a sneaky way to do so.

  135. says

    I find this kind of “deal making” particularly ugly:

    Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget chief, said the White House is offering a deal to Democrats on government funding: Money for key ObamaCare payments in exchange for helping fund the border wall.

    “We’d offer them $1 of CSR payments for $1 of wall payments. Right now that’s the offer that we’ve given to our Democratic colleagues,” Mulvaney told Bloomberg Live on Friday.

    He added that they had “finally boiled this negotiation down to” the border wall and ObamaCare’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments.

    Lawmakers have a week to pass legislation by April 29 to avoid a government shutdown and appear to be increasingly at an impasse. […]

    “This president should be allowed to have his highest priorities funded even though the Democrats rightly have a seat at the table because of the Senate rules,” he told Bloomberg Live. “But you cannot expect a president who just won [an] election to give up very easily on his highest priority.” […]

    Democrats have warned for weeks that they wouldn’t support a government funding bill that included money for the border wall, which they consider a “poison pill.” […]

    “Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand. Not only are Democrats opposed to the wall, there is significant Republican opposition as well,” [Matt] House said on Thursday. […]

    “We want wall funding. We want [immigration] agents. Those are our priorities,” he [Mulvaney] told the AP on Thursday..

    Democrats, meanwhile, are demanding that ObamaCare payments to insurers be included in the bill after Trump floated canceling them in order to force a negotiation on healthcare reform. […]

    Link

    Translation: We’ll do something we’re supposed to do anyway, something good, if you will allow us to do something that is expensive, ineffective and stupid.

  136. says

    Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the White House staffer who reportedly helped funnel intelligence reports to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was at the heart of another, much more behind-the-scenes Trump administration drama, the Guardian reported Thursday….

    How the hell does this guy still have that job? What is going on?

    Ha! Marshall just asked Lake “Also any source the namesake of a Prophet who led return to Jerusalem/ritual observance after Babylonian Captivity?”

  137. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    “This president should be allowed to have his highest priorities funded even though the Democrats rightly have a seat at the table because of the Senate rules,” he told Bloomberg Live. “But you cannot expect a president who just won [an] election to give up very easily on his highest priority.” […]

    Now just picture how that quote would have been delivered if a Democrat was President and the GOP controlled congress.

    Oh..

    Wait.

    We don’t have to. Just look at what the GOP did to Obama’s priorities — health care, jobs, global warming, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, women’s health, etc, etc, etc, ad nausea.

  138. says

    Executive orders signed by Trump today:
    1. Make it easier for American companies to avoid paying corporate income taxes.
    2. Relax regulations on some financial institutions.
    3. Make it harder for federal regulators to control the ways in which big banks fail during a financial crisis.

    The #1 above is bloviation via executive order, but it may lead to action down the line. Team Trump wants to rescind Treasury Department rules that make it harder for American companies to legally become foreign companies, a process called “tax inversion.” The company keeps its headquarters and operations in the U.S., but still does not pay U.S. taxes. Saying you want to “review” a rule is not the same as rescinding the rule.

    The #2 above is actually a statement of intent. Trump intends to deregulate banks, but the executive order itself is more puffery that action. This is probably another sign of Trump trying to put points on the board before his first 100 days is up. He bloviated in writing.

    The #3 above is related to a Dodd-Frank provision, “Orderly Liquidation Authority.” Trump can “review” this rule all he wants, but getting rid of it entirely requires new legislation … and that’s something Trump is not good at.

    In all cases, we are seeing intent but not action. However, we can assume that team Trump could weaken rules with indifference or neglect.

    […] there’s no real economic populism here. Trump’s alternative to technocratic liberal bank regulation is bank regulation pursued in the interests of the banking industry. Formally repealing bank rules through legislation will be difficult, and even rolling back regulations through executive action could be hard. But Trump can and will appoint like-minded business friendly officials to key regulatory posts, and they can simply regulate the industry laxly.

    Vox link

  139. says

    Ivanka Trump is getting a taxpayer-funded chief of staff to work for her in Daddy’s White House. She is also hiring a taxpayer-funded spokesman. Link

    Is that what Trump meant when he said he was going to create jobs?

  140. says

    Follow-up to comment 197.

    An excerpt from text the Justice Department sent out to nine “sanctuary cities”:

    Additionally, many of these jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime. The number of murders in Chicago has skyrocketed, rising more than 50 percent from the 2015 levels.

    New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s “soft on crime” stance. And just several weeks ago in California’s Bay Area, after a raid captured 11 MS-13 members on charges including murder, extortion and drug trafficking, city officials seemed more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next.

    Misleading or outright wrong statistics are cited. Hate and fear are incited.

    Some facts: New York City is one of the safest big cities in the USA. The murder rate is down. Crime overall is down. NYC is not “soft on crime.”

    The anti-immigrant and “tough on crime” policies of team Trump are based on lies and fear-mongering.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/doj-threatens-sanctuary-cities-with-lurid-letter

  141. says

    MSNBC’s nighttime shows yesterday were all over Trump’s corruption and conflicts of interest. Rachel Maddow did a segment on Pam Bondi. Both she and Chris Hayes talked about the vast potential for emoluments/influence involved in the sale of Trump-owned real estate. Here’s the in-depth USA Today story. (At the beginning of her segment, Maddow mentions that the House Oversight Committee – in the House – has sent a letter to Trump demanding information about the process through which he’s allegedly turning over any business profits from foreign governments to the US Treasury, an idea which is patent bullshit and even if it weren’t wouldn’t address the basic violation of the Emoluments Clause.)

    And Christina Wilkie was on the Last Word talking about her and her colleagues’ efforts to track down the murky sources of donations to Trump’s inauguration (how much remains of this money and what’s being done with it is still unknown).

  142. says

    “State Dept. official reassigned amid conservative media attacks”:

    The Trump administration has moved a second career government employee out of a top advisory role amid pressure from conservative media outlets that have publicly targeted individual staffers, questioning their loyalty to the new administration.

    Some State Department officials believe the individual, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, was shifted because of the media attacks and are alarmed at the message such a move sends to civil service and foreign service employees, who are supposed to be protected by law from political retaliation.

    “It puts people on edge,” said a State Department official familiar with Nowrouzzadeh’s situation….

  143. says

    Long article about Comey’s choices in the months before the election from the NYT:

    “Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election.”

    Some new information, but it suffers from the typical problems the NYT has when covering anything related to Clinton – problems they don’t seem interested in acknowledging or seeking to correct. There are several holes in the story (related, for example, to the decision to seek and application for a warrant just before the election, the role of the NY Field Office, Comey’s changing position on public statements about Russian interference, what was actually found concerning classified material in the emails, and more).

  144. says

    Jason Kander:

    “He literally signed a 100 day contract w/ voters. Now he calls it ‘ridiculous’. His word remains totally worthless.”

    “He’s not a great businessman. He’s a dishonest salesman. He doesn’t make deals. He makes sales. Then he cheats the buyer.”

  145. says

    SC @211, I liked Schumer’s response. He was right to call it a “gambit to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans” and “a complete non-starter.”

    I also like Ted Lieu’s response:

    The only way I will vote to fund the stupid border wall idea of @realDonaldTrump is if Russia pays for it.

    Twitter link

  146. says

    What is Trump planning to do on his 100th day in office? He’s holding a rally.

    Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it!

    In other news: Asked if avoiding a government shutdown next week will take precedence over pushing changes to health care policy, Trump said: “Yeah, sure.”

    Trump should talk to Mulvaney. They don’t seem to be on the same page. See comments 145, 147, 202, and 211 for background.

  147. says

    No Republicans who represent constituents who live in the area that may be affected by Trump’s proposed border wall want the damned thing.

    Not one member of Congress representing the region that President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall would run through has declared support for his request for funding to begin construction […]

    Talking Points Memo link
    Wall Street Journal link

  148. says

    Trump is kicking U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy to the curb. Trump asked Murthy to resign on Friday, and immediately replace him with Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams (she was Murthy’s deputy).

    […] The resignation is somewhat unusual. A White House spokesperson told the New York Times that Murthy was asked to leave “after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration.”

    But employees at the Department of Health and Human Services told the Times they were surprised by the unusually abrupt departure. While it’s not unprecedented, Murthy’s four-year term would have normally ended at the end of this year.

    […] one clue may lie in Murthy’s views on gun control.

    […] The NRA was incensed by a 2013 letter from health professionals that Murthy signed that called “for Congress to pass stronger gun legislation immediately and for us to develop a comprehensive national plan to stop gun violence.” […]

    [Recently,] Murphy reiterated the view that gun violence is a public health issue and said “far too many people die from gun violence,” […]

    “Whoever the next president is will be my boss, so to speak, and my hope is to be able to work with the next president to address these issues because I think they’re incredibly important,” he added.

    Murphy also formed an organization of doctors during debate over the Affordable Care Act to act as a force in favor of the legislation. […]

    Think Progress link

  149. says

    Follow-up to comment 223.

    So Trump is holding that rally to celebrate his supposed accomplishments in the first 100 days of his presidency.

    Also, next Saturday, on the same night, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner will be held. Trump is definitely poking correspondents in the eye, while claiming that he is not. One official in the White House said, “The media is trying to make this about them when — respectively it has nothing to do with you guys. It’s about focusing on the people.”

    It would be so nice if the rally, which will be full of Trump’s usual repetitive and stupid bloviation, was not covered by the media. And, yes, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner should be covered.

    The correspondents’ dinner benefits a journalism scholarship and recognizes reporters for their coverage of the president and is traditionally attended by major media outlets, celebrity guests and the president.

    Politico link

  150. says

    Live Coverage of the March for Science, from The Hill.

    […] Researchers at the Neumayer-Station research center in Antarctica have tweeted their support for Saturday’s March for Science.

    The researchers tweeted a photo highlighting a quote by chemist Marie

    […] Bill Nye “the science guy” is addressing the crowd in Washington, and slamming lawmakers who suppress science.

    “Without scientifically literate citizens, the United States, any country in fact cannot compete on the world stage,” Nye said. “Yet today we have a great many lawmakers who are deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science.”. Their sign said “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”

    […] Penguins from the Monterey Bay Aquarium joined in on the March for Science with a march of their own.

  151. says

    Hillary marched for science:

    Clinton applauded those who joined the March for Science on Saturday, tweeting at her followers to “march on!”

    “Happy Earth Day, and thanks to math and science for all you’ve given us! March on!” Clinton wrote with a link to a video of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing science and politics. […]

    Clinton joined a chorus of lawmakers who endorsed and supported the March for Science on Saturday. Numerous lawmakers voiced their concerns over climate change and the environment on social media and at marches.

    Link

  152. says

    A selection of signs seen at the March for Science:

    PROTEST SINE

    PROTEST COSINE

    I can’t believe I’m marching for facts.

    Got the plague? Me neither. Thanks Science!

    Society should worry when geeks have to demonstrate.

    Knowing stuff is good.

    I’ve seen smarter cabinets at IKEA.

    Science is the cure for bullshit.

    Less invasions, more equations.

    2 + 2 = 4

    If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.

  153. says

    This is a follow-up to comments 49, 94, 100, 114, and 191.

    […] Among the attendees [at the White House]: Jacoby Brissett, the team’s third-string quarterback, who guided the Patriots to two wins in three games early in the season with Brady suspended and second-stringer Jimmy Garropolo hurt. It is unusual for any third-string QB to make a meaningful contribution to a Super Bowl championship season; Brissett did so as the first black man to ever start at quarterback in the 57-year history of the New England Patriots.

    He made his reasons for attending the team trip to Washington clear in an Instagram post late Friday: Brissett wanted to see the building where America’s first black president and First Family had lived for eight years, beginning when the quarterback was still in high school.

    At the president’s house on Wednesday, Brissett sought out a picture of Barack Obama signing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the first law of his presidency. He posed next to the framed photograph, tagged Obama on Instagram, and opened up.

    “Dear Big O, I am writing you this letter to say thank you,” Brissett began. “Honestly, I don’t know enough about politics to judge what was good or bad, but I want you to know that when you said ‘Yes We Can’ — a young man dreaming a dream from rough circumstances in Florida heard you.”

    Brissett is a black quarterback in a sport where African-American men are a majority of the workforce but less commonly entrusted with the keys to an offense. Black men who play under center have always faced racialized treatment from the sport’s fans, teams, and media professionals alike.

    “You broke a barrier and a stereotype proving not every minority has to use a ball to make a way,” Brissett went on in his letter. “As I prepare for the honor of visiting the White House, I will be there as a Super Bowl Champion — and I will think of you, mainly because the White House is a different, and better place because you lived there.”

    The long, heartfelt note covers a lot of ground, before ending with the kind of crack Obama himself was notoriously fond of making.

    “P.S,” Brissett wrote, “Holla at me to help you with your broke jump shot.”

    Think Progress link

  154. says

    Here’s an article by Gail Sheehy providing more information about the Yale event I referred to in #218 above. Robert Jay Lifton addressed the conference via video. He spoke to Sheehy afterwards. From that exchange:

    Trump himself, he explained, cannot bear the humiliation of being exposed as wrong, and is “ultra-sensitive” about the Russian connection. “He’s more than a little threatened by the idea of a full independent inquiry. A sudden influx of new information about his business holdings could create an explosive situation.”

  155. snuffcurry says

    Uninterested in naming the victims of or explicitly condemning the violence, intimidation, and threats from white supremacist terrorism and forced birther terrorism, today Bernie Sanders is Concerned about Ann Coulter having access to all the country’s rostra and wants her to be protected from the consequences of her actions and speech, speech that is not censored and can be accessed and examined from any number of hubs. We are treated with sea-lioning requests for civility and politeness and opponents of Coulter’s racist, homophobic, transphobic trolling are deemed intellectually “weak” and afraid, that trolling characterized merely a matter of “ideas” without material consequences. The space reserved for Sanders to, in turn, act like a role model and politely, with great civility, practice what he preaches and carefully explain where Coulter is wrong remains curiously empty. Likewise, Keith Ellison advocates for the ‘good speech countering bad speech’ model but offers no good speech of his own. This may not be weak, but it is intellectually lazy and likely uninspiring if not disheartening to the students they are talking at.

  156. says

    Would be great if it ended up a runoff between Macron and Mélenchon (still not sure what happened to Hamon…).

    From the article I just linked:

    The National Front’s gradual ascent since the 1980s has infused nationalist rhetoric and anti-immigration agitation into French politics. Much like we saw recently in the Netherlands, the far-right’s priorities have reshaped the broader discourse in France. The ideological porosity between the center-right and the far-right grew under conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was in power from 2007 to 2012. Sarkozy created a Ministry of Immigration and National Identity and declared that “we have too many foreigners on our territory” during a re-election campaign that veered far enough into Le Pen’s territory to leave prominent members of Sarkozy’s party openly seething.

    Fillon, the center-right’s standard-bearer this year, has emulated Sarkozy’s hardline positioning by making the protection of French identity a core campaign theme. His campaign book, titled “Defeating Islamic Totalitarianism,” warns that the “bloody invasion of Islamism into our daily life could pave the way for a Third World War.” “There is not a religious problem in France,” he said during his primary campaign. “There is a problem linked to Islam.” And in February, when Macron called colonialism a “crime against humanity,” Fillon denounced him for exhibiting “hatred of our history.” Fillon had defended French colonialism before. “France is not guilty of having wanted to share its culture with the peoples of Africa,” he said in August.

    The center-left has also been influenced by anti-immigration sentiment, as well as by pressure from the right to curtail civil liberties on behalf of bolstering security….

    Like our failure in the US to fully recognize and address our history of slavery, segregation, white terror, and imperial foreign policy has served rightwing movements well, so France’s unwillingness to address the history of collaboration, the Holocaust*, and colonialism and its legacy has abetted far-Right racist movements.

    * The video I had embedded at the end of that post – which has evidently been removed, interestingly enough, showed Jean-Marie Le Pen cheerfully citing Robert Brasillach.

  157. says

    To add to SC’s posts about liars, conmen and shakedown artists, one of Trump’s enablers, Reince Priebus, said:

    Trump is fulfilling his campaign promises at “breakneck speed.” […]

    “Historical unbelievable obstruction from Democrats” is to blame for the hundreds of jobs in federal government that Trump’s administration has not yet filled. […]

    […] the federal budget will be enough “to move forward through the end of September to get going on the border wall.”

    Quoted text is a summary from NBC News’ “Meet the Press” show today.

  158. says

    From Nancy Pelosi:

    When the President says, ‘Well, I promised a wall during my campaign,’ I don’t think he said he was going to pass billions of dollars of cost of the wall onto the taxpayer. […]

    The Republicans have the votes in the House and the Senate and the White House to keep government open. The burden to keep it open is on the Republicans.

  159. says

    Josh Marshall discussed the fact that Trump is supporting Le Pen in the French election:

    […] we should remember that the President of the United States is supporting the hyper-nationalist, far-right anti-semitic candidate, Marine Le Pen.

    The US is almost always officially neutral in the elections of major European allies. But we’ve spent a decent amount of time working against the rise of neo-fascist and far right parties. Here we’ve weighing in in favor. […]

    Trump came to power supporting rightist parties across Europe and with very specific plans to pry apart the EU with those leaders. Now that the generals’ trio has [put] up a shell of somewhat more traditional US foreign policy around Trump, much of what the US is doing in Europe has changed. But Trump isn’t really different. It’s more a shell around him. He’s still the same, as these comments about Le Pen make clear.

  160. says

    Remember “PizzaGate,” the right wing conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton, Podesta and others were running a pedophilia-based sex trafficking ring out of the basement of a D.C. pizza restaurant that didn’t have a basement?

    Well, guess who was charged with a real case of human sex trafficking of a minor. Trump’s former Kentucky campaign chair, that’s who.

    Tim Nolan, the former Campbell Co. District Judge who currently sits on the Campbell Co. Board of Education, was indicted Friday on human trafficking charges.

    […] In November, 2016 he was elected to the Campbell County Board of Education.

    According to the indictment, obtained by The River City News, Nolan is accused of subjecting a minor under the age of 18 to “commercial sexual activity”. He is also accused of inducing a minor to engage in sexual activity. Nolan is also accused of providing alcohol to a minor.

    Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced that Nolan is charged with human trafficking (a class B felony), first degree unlawful transaction with a minor (a class C felony), and third degree unlawful transaction with a minor (a class A misdemeanor). […]

    He is an outspoken and controversial figure in local politics. Last year he sued the creator of GOPfacts.org, which took aim at Nolan and others, and specifically referred to Nolan as a vehement racist and posted a photo that purported to be of Nolan in a Ku Klux Klan robe. […]

    River City News link

    Do rightwingers/KKK members make up sex trafficking stories about Clinton because they are familiar with the “business”?

  161. says

    Follow-up to comment 240 (in the liars, conmen, and shakedown artists category).

    Jeff Sessions said:

    […] I know there’s $4 billion a year in excess payments, according to the Department of the Treasury’s own inspector general several years ago, that are going to payments to people — tax credits that they shouldn’t get. Now, these are mostly Mexicans. And those kind of things add up — $4 billion a year for 10 years is $40 billion. […]

    Politico link

  162. KG says

    First predictions from the French election: Macron vs Le Pen in the second round, as polls suggested would be so. Hypothetical polls for the second round for this pairing indicate a clear win for Macron.

  163. KG says

    BBC Live: According to French TV projections, centrist Emmanuel Macron is heading for 23.7% of the vote and far-right Marine Le Pen for 21.7%. The other two front-runners polled over 19%.

  164. KG says

    Now 5. Interesting that despite a lot of excitable media commentary – and Trump – the murder of a police officer a couple of days ago appears to have made no difference.

  165. says

    Trump says some stuff:

    Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government involves heart, whereas in business most things don’t involve heart. In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it. […]

    When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I’m saying to myself, “You know, this is more than just like 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that’s involved because people could have been killed. This is risk that’s involved.”

    The Hill link

    Associated Press link

    I disagree with the premise that, in business, one is better off without a heart.

  166. KG says

    SC@260,

    As I understand it from BBC, Mélenchon has not yet conceded that he’s not going through to the final round.

  167. says

    SC@260,

    As I understand it from BBC, Mélenchon has not yet conceded that he’s not going through to the final round.

    Thanks. It was unclear which round he was talking about.

  168. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The percentage of Americans who want their government to “do more” is slowly increasing.

    A new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll finds 57 percent of the public saying that the government should do more to solve problems and meet the needs of Americans, versus 39 percent who said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.
    That’s the highest share yearning for a more active government since the poll began asking voters about the role of government in 1995. And it’s a significant shift even since 2015, when 50 percent said that the government should do more while 46 percent complained that it was too active.

    The graphs at the bottom of the article are encouraging. Since 2014, republicans, independents, and democrats show a steady increase. I’m almost detecting a whiff that some republicans are seeing that privatizing isn’t working out as free marketeers claim, and only the government can get things done for everybody.

  169. KG says

    SC@266,

    Mélenchon had hinted he wouldn’t endorse anyone in the second round, and still hasn’t done so. His reluctance is understandable – Macron just peddles the usual “neither left nor right”, “pro-business” shit we had in the UK from Bliar, and Mélenchon will want to hang on to the anti-establishment vote for the Assembly elections – but he could, and should, at the very least advise his supporters not to vote fascist.

    The first polls on the second round show Macron winning 62%-38% or 64%-36%, which is right in line with hypothetical polls taken before the first round. It’s highly unlikely that Le Pen will win (and before anyone comes out with “But Brexit… but Trump”, in both those cases the polls never showed anything like that gap, and the French polls have proved remarkably accurate for the first round). Of course Le Pen has the support of Putin, Trump and Daesh – something Macron should stress! My fears are for the longer term: Macron is likely to end up as unpopular as Hollande, since his policies are much the same, which may give the fascists their chance for power in 2022 if not sooner. However, the make-up of the Assembly will be important, as there’s effectively no chance Macron’s party will win a majority: a strong left bloc and a minimal fascist presence there is important.

  170. says

    “Senate Trump-Russia Probe Has No Full-Time Staff, No Key Witnesses”:

    The Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s election interference is supposedly the best hope for getting the public credible answers about whether there was any coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower.

    But there are serious reasons to doubt that it can accomplish this task, as currently configured.

    More than three months after the committee announced that it had agreed on the scope of the investigation, the panel has not begun substantially investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, three individuals with ties to the committee told The Daily Beast.

    The investigation does not have a single staffer dedicated to it full-time, and those staff members working on it part-time do not have significant investigative experience. The probe currently appears to be moving at a pace slower than prior Senate Intelligence Committee investigations, such as the CIA torture inquiry, which took years to accomplish.

    No interviews have been conducted with key individuals suspected of being in the Trump-Russia orbit: not Michael Flynn, not Roger Stone, not Carter Page, not Paul Manafort, and not Jared Kushner, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s procedures.

    The tragic irony may be that for all of the House Intelligence Committee’s public dysfunction, it has actually yielded more results in the public interest and is actually making more progress.

    Ultimately, the House and Senate investigations into Russia and possible Trump ties have both shown reasons to doubt their credibility.

    But with the House, it’s been a public fiasco. With the Senate, it’s been a private tragedy.

  171. says

    KG:

    Mélenchon had hinted he wouldn’t endorse anyone in the second round, and still hasn’t done so. His reluctance is understandable – Macron just peddles the usual “neither left nor right”, “pro-business” shit we had in the UK from Bliar, and Mélenchon will want to hang on to the anti-establishment vote for the Assembly elections – but he could, and should, at the very least advise his supporters not to vote fascist.

    At the absolute least. Whatever his legislative calculations or opinions of Macron, however unlikely Le Pen is to win regardless, “We vote against fascists” is the bare minimum anyone who values democracy, justice, equality, freedom, human rights, and basic decency should stand on. Around 40% of his supporters have told pollsters that they would abstain if he didn’t make the runoff. That he didn’t immediately announce that would would vote for Macron and urge his supporters to do the same – to stand firmly against fascism in France – is shameful. An “anti-establishment” candidate or movement unwilling to take a strong public stand against fascism isn’t one I can respect or have faith in.

  172. says

    Welcome Back! GOP Congress Returns To Resume Kabuki Dance Of Governance

    […] Because members face enormous pressure to at least appear that they are making progress on the people’s business, we can expect to see a great deal of stalling, finger-pointing, earnest press conferences, bouts of secret negotiations, and other forms of political theater in the months ahead. For Republicans, the show must go on. […]

    The government’s funding will expire at midnight on April 28, giving Congress less than a week to pass either a temporary or long-term budget in order to keep the lights on.

    […] Republican leaders acknowledge they have zero incentive to shutter a government under their own unified control. To do so would be a self-own for the ages. […]

    By including poison pills from Trump and Mulvaney (see comment 145), it does look like Republicans might stumble into a shut down.

    […] the White House threw a wrench into the process over the weekend by insisting that the budget include billions in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and for hiring more Border Patrol and ICE officers.

    “We want wall funding. We want [immigration] agents. Those are our priorities,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney [said]

    As SC pointed out up-thread, Trump tweeted like the liar and conman that he is: “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.”

    But in the meantime, Trump wants your money, dear taxpayers. And he want’s billions of your dollars.

    Trump is also demanding the budget include upwards of $30 billion more for the military and the ability to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities.

    […] If Congress can’t come to an agreement in the next four days, however, […] they may pass a “one-week patch to buy more time.” […]

    Groundhog Day for healthcare:

    […] latest act in the GOP’s Kabuki health care drama has played out much like the previous amendments and deals they have rolled out—which similarly have done nothing to bridge the fundamental ideological divide between lawmakers who believe the government has no business at all in the health care sector and those who believe the government has a responsibility to care for the sick and the vulnerable.

    […] even the prospects of a vote on the bill this week are dim. […]

    Trump, meanwhile, is doing his usual thing (employing ineffective and clumsy bullying tactics): he is demanding a vote on healthcare on Wednesday, while simultaneously saying that it doesn’t matter if legislators vote on healthcare this week or not.

  173. says

    From the AP interview that SC referenced in comment 265:

    […] I used to get great press. I get the worst press. I get such dishonest reporting with the media. That’s another thing that really has — I’ve never had anything like it before. It happened during the primaries, and I said, you know, when I won, I said, “Well the one thing good is now I’ll get good press.” And it got worse. (unintelligible) So that was one thing that a little bit of a surprise to me. I thought the press would become better, and it actually, in my opinion, got more nasty. […]

    Why does Trump think that everyone should love him just because he got elected? It’s weird.

    He only ran for president so that people would love him? He is now entitled to everyone’s unconditional love?

  174. says

    Why is Trump keeping bumbling, lying, laughing stock Sean Spicer as White House Press Secretary?

    I’m not firing Sean Spicer. That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.

    The quote is from a Washington Post article.

    Spicer will probably steer clear of Hitler analogies from now on, and maybe he will refrain from insulting British intelligence agencies, but it is only a matter of time before trying to please Trump lands Spicer in hot water again.

  175. blf says

    Spicer will probably steer clear of Hitler analogies from now on, and maybe he will refrain from insulting British intelligence agencies…

    Someone took his shovel away?

  176. says

    OMG, this sounds so kindergarten-ish. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin wants to set up a bunch of reward systems for poor and low-income people so that they might continue to get health care if they have enough goody-goody stars on their record. (Bevin’s plan also sounds like a sneaky way to give poor and low-income people less access to health care because … screw poor people I guess.)

    […] Bevin’s plans to overhaul Medicaid by cutting benefits, charging low-income recipients for services, and making them jump through hoops to earn health coverage points in new “MyRewards Accounts.”

    The changes are described as “benefit enhancements” […] Bevin’s plan is in fact a benefit cut. Kentucky’s Medicaid program currently includes vision and dental. […]

    Bevincare would “enhance” Medicaid benefits by taking several of them away. You will lose the security of knowing your eye doctor and dentist will see you when you need them, and gain the exciting new opportunity to earn chits toward the cost of those same services.

    But to accrue those chits, you must live by Bevin’s rules. MyRewards points accumulate based on the enrollee’s participation in job training, health screening, smoking cessation, volunteer, and educational programs, […]

    Bevin’s behavioral incentives effectively convert his definition of good character into a state-enforced moral code which everyone who can’t afford health insurance must follow — and whose compliance the state must monitor.

    “This requires building a massive database about people’s individual behaviors, and then keeping it up. Never mind that it’s massively expensive, it also feels very invasive,” former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Andy Slavitt said in an interview. “I’m not sure the government should be tracking if I put on five pounds, or if I’m advancing in my job, or what grade I got on my GED exam.” […]

    The biggest change is Bevin’s proposal to charge premiums for Medicaid and impose an annual $1,000 deductible before the program covers beneficiaries’ health care costs. Those are big price hikes for people who can’t afford them.

    […] Most Medicaid recipients are in fact already working, and three-quarters of all able-bodied working-age recipients who aren’t working, looking for work, or in school are caretakers for a family member.

    Bevin’s plan doesn’t account for the realities of Medicaid recipients’ lives, […]

    The state can even give you negative “MyRewards” chits — fines, in essence — for going to the emergency room too much. The first ER trip deemed non-emergency in nature costs you $20; the second, $50; and all subsequent episodes, $75 a pop, […]

    Bevin’s plan therefore makes it harder for low-income working people to afford primary care attention and then punishes them for showing up to the ER for something a primary care doctor should be able to treat. It’s a self-defeating cycle, quietly incentivizing people to let illnesses linger […]

    Think Progress link

  177. says

    Another telling excerpt from Trump’s interview with Julie Pace of the Associated Press:

    TRUMP: They had a quote from me that NATO’s obsolete. But they didn’t say why it was obsolete. I was on Wolf Blitzer, very fair interview, the first time I was ever asked about NATO, because I wasn’t in government. People don’t go around asking about NATO if I’m building a building in Manhattan, right? So they asked me, Wolf … asked me about NATO, and I said two things. NATO’s obsolete — not knowing much about NATO, now I know a lot about NATO — NATO is obsolete, and I said, “And the reason it’s obsolete is because of the fact they don’t focus on terrorism.” You know, back when they did NATO there was no such thing as terrorism.

    Uh, yeah, that’s just all kinds of wrong. If you don’t know anything about NATO, don’t pretend that you do. Also, if you are running for president, why the fuck don’t you know anything about NATO?

    Furthermore, there was all of kinds of terrorism before “they did NATO.” Anarchist bombers caused havoc in the late 19th and early 20th century, as just one example. There were bomb attacks in Paris, in Barcelona, in London, etc. Parades in Moscow were attacked.

    Trump is so unrelentingly ill-informed and so narcissistic that there’s no hope he will ever improve.

  178. says

    The Purple Heart medal is given to military personnel who are wounded in battle, or to a family member (or other representative) if they are killed in battle.

    Trump visited Walter Reed National Medical Center on Saturday. When he pinned a purple heart on Army Sergeant First Class Alvaro Barrientos’ shirt, Trump said:

    When I heard about this, I wanted to do it myself. Congratulations … tremendous.

    WTF? Barrientos’ leg was amputated after an attack in Afghanistan. I’m sure he didn’t want to be congratulated for that. Trump is clueless.

    From Kevin Baron:

    Hey military, y’all would Eat. A. Brother. Alive. If they did this. Whatcha gonna say bout Trump? Hope his staff learns him up right quick.

    Other responses to Trump’s tone deaf “congratulation”:

    Congratulations? Like the Purple Heart is a prize? Trump is an idiot. Most of us always knew this.

    It’s rather like if Trump signed a condolence card to a widow “congratulations”. Not everything we do to mark something is a congratulation.

    So inappropriate. You don’t congratulate a soldier for being wounded. You thank them for their service, dedication and sacrifice.

    During the presidential campaign, a veteran gave Trump his purple heart. Trump said, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”

  179. says

    More telling moments from Trump’s AP interview:

    AP: You did put out though, as a candidate, you put out a 100-day plan. Do you feel like you should be held accountable to that plan?

    Trump: Somebody, yeah, somebody put out the concept of a 100-day plan. […]

    “Somebody”? Really. You did that. Take responsibility.

    Trump on the media:

    It’s not that Fox treats me well, it’s that Fox is the most accurate.

    On his TV ratings, Trump said:

    I have all the ratings for all those morning shows. When I go, they go double, triple. Chris Wallace, look back during the Army-Navy football game, I did his show that morning.

    It had 9.2 million people. It’s the highest they’ve ever had. On any, on air, […] Dickerson had 5.2 million people. It’s the highest for “Face the Nation” or as I call it, “Deface the Nation.” It’s the highest for “Deface the Nation” since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down. It’s a tremendous advantage.

  180. says

    Follow-up to comment 246.

    About that stupid comment Jeff Sessions made about “mostly Mexicans” receiving tax credits they shouldn’t get: the report he cited makes no mention of Mexicans.

    Sessions appears to be referencing a 2011 audit report Trump also cited while campaigning. As Politifact explains, the report said that in 2011, $4.2 billion in child tax credits was paid to people filing income taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number. Some of these filers are illegal immigrants, but many are legal foreign workers, and the audit did not say how many are Mexican.

    “The vast majority of that $4.2 billion, the filer may be undocumented, but you have to have a child to receive it,” said Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “And the children are overwhelmingly U.S. citizens.”

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/23/mexicans-sessions-tax-credits-237490

    More responses to the obvious racism and stupidity of Jess Sessions:

    “The people who benefit from the child tax credit are American children,” Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) said in 2011. “The people who claim the tax credit are their working parents. If immigration is your concern, set aside and view of the immigration status of their parents. It is irrelevant! The child tax credit requires a child’s Social Security number. The benefits go to the United States citizen children.”

    Of course, in Donald Trump’s eyes, the U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants, especially the brown ones, aren’t real Americans. Pretty disgusting stuff from a guy with an immigrant mom. […]

  181. says

    During his press briefing today, Sean Spicer answered a question about DACA and DREAMers by repeating five times within about two minutes, “The president has a heart.”

    From the level of repetition, we can safely assume that the president is heartless, and that team Trump thinks they can counter that fact by simply repeating, “The president has a heart.”

    Follow-up to microraptor @263.

  182. says

    During his press briefing today, Sean Spicer answered a question about DACA and DREAMers by repeating five times within about two minutes, “The president has a heart.”

    From the level of repetition, we can safely assume that the president is heartless, and that team Trump thinks they can counter that fact by simply repeating, “The president has a heart.”

    Once again, I can’t emphasize enough the extent to which Trump does not “have a heart.” All his life he’s been heartless, destructive, and sadistic and openly proud of it. He made a comment about babies being killed in the gas attack in Syria, many in the media rushed to claim it showed that he was emotional and “devastated” about the deaths (of potential refugees he’s repeatedly compared to vicious snakes) which made him seem appear more sympathetic to some, and he quickly realized that this was a good PR trope from which he could get some mileage. Because that’s what he fucking does – he’s a huckster, a conman, a media cold reader. So now Trump talked about it in the batshit AP interview, and we have Spicer repeating it in briefings. It’s ludicrously false.

  183. says

    Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, escorted the entire security council to the White House to meet with Trump.

    While they were there, Trump said this:

    Does everybody like Nikki? Because if you don’t like Nikki — otherwise she could easily be replaced. [jokingly] No, we won’t do that, I promise.

    I think that the United Nations has tremendous potential — tremendous potential — far greater than what I would say any other candidate in the last 30 years would have even thought to say. I know it hasn’t lived up to the potential.”

  184. says

    Long article about Bannon in the New Yorker. Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be any documentation of his alleged Seinfeld profits:

    …That fall, “Seinfeld” went into syndication. After Turner Broadcasting merged with Time Warner, in late 1995, Turner’s Castle Rock came under the Warner Bros. umbrella. Warner Bros. started sending out all “Seinfeld” profit-participation statements, including Westinghouse’s, which goes to CBS. The Castle Rock and the Westinghouse records from the early months of syndication are not readily available. It is possible that Bannon’s deal was capped and paid out at that time. But, since then, neither CBS nor Castle Rock nor Warner Bros. has records of payments to Bannon, if those records are as they were described to me.

    The divorce file covers more than a dozen years. During that time, the two fought over Bannon’s repeated failures to make court-ordered support payments, and other issues involving the twins. In April, 1997, he submitted an “income and expense declaration,” indicating that his annual salary was roughly five hundred thousand dollars, and that his total assets were around $1.1 million. Any profit participations from “Seinfeld” should have shown up at that time. Either they were not substantial or Bannon failed to disclose them in a sworn statement….

    His most consistent income seems to have come from the Mercers, who love to patronize their racist pseudo-intellectuals. (Reading this piece, it seems likely that Bannon was the source of “armada” used to describe the carrier group.)

  185. says

    Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, escorted the entire security council to the White House to meet with Trump.

    While they were there, Trump said this:…

    The only good aspect of this scumbag sexist power play is that it suggests that he’s threatened by Haley and the praise for her he’s no doubt seen on cable.

  186. says

    SC @288, In another article about that “white supremacy” etched in stone, it was noted that the men who were taking down Confederate monuments in Louisiana were working at night (1:30 a.m. to about 5:00 a.m.) and that they wore bullet-proof vests.

  187. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 289.

    From the advertisement (sort of) on the official website of the U.S. Embassy & Consultants in the United Kingdom.

    Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s Florida estate, has become well known as the president frequently travels there to work or host foreign leaders.

    […] located at the heart of Florida’s Palm Beach community.

    Trump is not the first president to have access to Mar-a-Lago as a Florida retreat, but he is the first one to use it. By visiting this “winter White House,” Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer.

    When socialite and cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post built Mar-a-Lago — Spanish for “Sea to Lake” — in 1927, she spared no expense. The 114-room mansion sits on 8 hectares of land, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and an inland waterway on the other.

    Upon her death in 1973, she willed the estate to the U.S. government, intending it to be used as a winter White House for the U.S. president to entertain visiting foreign dignitaries.

    Mar-a-Lago does NOT still belong to the U.S. government. Trump owns it. He bought it in 1986. It has been a private club since 1995.

  188. says

    More re #269 – “Senate Russia probe flounders amid partisan bickering”:

    More than three months after the Senate Intelligence Committee launched its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election — including allegations of collusion by associates of President Trump — the panel has made little progress and is increasingly stymied by partisan divisions that are jeopardizing the future of the inquiry, according to multiple sources involved in the probe.

    The committee has yet to issue a single subpoena for documents or interview any key witnesses who are central to the probe, the sources said. It also hasn’t requested potentially crucial evidence — such as the emails, memos and phone records of the Trump campaign — in part because the panel’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has so far failed to respond to requests from the panel’s Democrats to sign letters doing so, the sources said.

    “The wheels seem to be turning more slowly than the importance of the inquiry would indicate,” said Richard Ben-Veniste, a member of the 9/11 commission and former Watergate prosecutor, one of a number of veteran Washington investigators who have begun to question the lack of movement in the probe.

    As Congress returns from its spring recess this week and Trump approaches his 100th day in office, the panel has no further public hearings scheduled, even as the House Intelligence Committee — torn by its own partisan wrangling and internal turmoil — shows some flickering new signs of life. The result has caused growing frustration among the Senate committee’s Democrats, who are privately complaining the probe is underfunded, understaffed and too timid in pushing to get to the bottom of one of the most explosive political stories in years.

    The committee early on sent letters to key witnesses — such as Flynn, Page, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone — to preserve all documents that might be relevant to the investigation. One such letter was also sent to White House counsel McGahn, who previously served as chief counsel to the Trump campaign and has authority over its records.

    But the committee has still not sent any follow up letters even asking for their documents — much less issued a subpoena demanding they be turned over. Although letters requesting the material were drafted by Democratic staffers, Burr has so far declined to sign them, leaving the panel’s investigators powerless to review key material necessary to pursue the issues of possible collusion.

    Moreover, the committee also hasn’t even approached potentially key witnesses to schedule interviews with them….

    Burr is better than Nunes at sabotaging the inquiry, it appears. Good thing this is being revealed to the public.

  189. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 286.

    The New Yorker article also provides details of projects in which Bannon was a scam artist:

    […] Ultimately, Bannon was able to secure only about a third of the film’s financing, and Watkins covered the rest. He told me he would never use his own money again: “Because Steve was a Hollywood guy, I hoped there was going to be a great distribution program behind it, and there really wasn’t.” […]

  190. says

    “CIA director Mike Pompeo repeatedly cited WikiLeaks to attack Clinton during campaign”:

    Donald Trump’s administration has taken a tough stance on WikiLeaks in recent weeks.
    US officials told CNN last week that the Justice Department has prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference on Thursday that Assange’s arrest is a “priority” of the administration.

    But no Trump administration official went further in condemning the group than CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who, in a speech two weeks ago, called WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service.”

    Pompeo’s comments immediately drew attention to a tweet from July 2016 in which he linked to the WikiLeaks document dump of emails from the Democratic National Committee. Critics used the tweet to call out Pompeo for his dramatic reversal on WikiLeaks.

    When Pompeo was asked about the tweet at his confirmation hearing in January, he said he never viewed WikiLeaks as a “credible source of information.”

    Pompeo, however, repeatedly cited the group to attack Hillary Clinton during the campaign, a CNN KFile review of his tweets and media appearances shows. He claimed the emails were proof of DNC collusion against Bernie Sanders, and cited emails released by the group to argue that Democrats should call on Hillary Clinton to drop out of the presidential race….

    A note: “…referencing an email exchange released by WikiLeaks showing top Clinton aides making critical comments about Catholics and evangelicals.” No, that was not the content of the emails in question.

  191. says

    “Macron Campaign Wards Off Hacking Attempts Linked to Russia”:

    Hackers matching the profile of a pro-Kremlin group have tried in recent weeks to access campaign email accounts of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron, a cybersecurity firm said Monday, raising fears of election interference in the final two weeks of the France’s presidential campaign.

    In a report set to be published Tuesday, security-research firm Trend Micro identified a pro-Kremlin hacking group it calls Pawn Storm as the likely source of a multipronged phishing attack that started in mid-March against Mr. Macron’s campaign.

    As part of the attack, hackers set up multiple internet addresses that mimicked those of the campaign’s own servers in an attempt to lure Mr. Macron’s staffers into turning over their network passwords, said Feike Hacquebord, a senior threat researcher for Tokyo-based Trend Micro and the author of the report, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    Mounir Mahjoubi, digital director of Mr. Macron’s campaign, confirmed the attempted hacking, saying that several staffers had received emails leading to the fake websites. The phishing emails were quickly identified and blocked, and it was unlikely others went undetected, Mr. Mahjoubi said.

    The hacking group Pawn Storm, which is known to other cybersecurity firms as Fancy Bear or APT28, was identified by U.S. officials and cybersecurity experts last year as a Russian state-backed organization. They said the group had carried out hacks to obtain and subsequently leak emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman during last year’s U.S. presidential election, allegations that Russia denied….

  192. says

    MSNBC host whose name regularly escapes me just referred to Le Pen as a “rightwing nationalist” and “rightwing populist,” then said: “Macron has been endorsed by the losing conservative and social [wtf?] candidates, as the establishment tries to prevent the far Right from getting control.” Jesus fuck, stop repeating their spin.

  193. says

    SC @302, Sessions tried to claim that he was joking when he made stupid comments about a judge in Hawaii putting to stop to Trump’s Muslim ban #2. Sessions said that “liberals have no sense of humor.”

    In other news, Trump continues to fill the swamp:

    A couple of months ago, Fox News’ Heather Nauert announced her support for Ivanka Trump’s branded merchandise. Between that kind of endorsement, and Nauert’s role on the “Fox and Friends” program the president likes to promote, I suppose it shouldn’t come as too big a surprise that Nauert has now joined Donald Trump’s administration as the official spokesperson for the State Department. […]

    The Washington Post joked a few months ago, “The Trump revolution won’t just be televised. It will be led by television talking heads.” It’s even truer now than it was then.

    What’s especially notable is the scope and scale of this dynamic. It’s amazing that Team Trump hires those whose on-screen appearances impress the White House, […]

    Link

  194. says

    From Josh Marshall, on Trump preparing to “fold like a cheap suit” on the border wall demand (“SAD!”):

    […] President Trump’s advisors are now signaling that Trump plans to back down because he knows he’ll lose. In other words, Mr Winning, Dominating, Make the Best Deals is about to go Low Energy and walk away from a sure loss while trying to pretend it never happened.

    Folks on the Hill are saying they don’t think there needs to be shutdown. President Trump’s key advisors and spokespeople are today saying, well, it doesn’t really have to be money for the wall. Anything tied to border security will do.

    Let’s not ignore what’s happening here. President Trump’s OMB Director Mulvaney said very clearly: dollar for dollar, you get $1 for Obamacare (actually, one not taken from Obamacare) in exchange for every dollar you give us for the boss’s wall.

    Even Trump got in on it … “ObamaCare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going – otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought.” […]

    And yet, just days later, Trump appears ready to go full low-energy, agreeing to call any money tied to border security or even paperwork a ‘wall’, not a ‘brick and mortar’ wall as Republicans have been explaining today but rather a conceptual ‘wall’ which is to say, not a wall. […]

  195. KG says

    Wkipedia’s article on polling for the French electionshas some interesting polls on second-round voting intention by (self-reported) first-round vote. For all the next three candidate after Macron and Le Pen, more say they will support Macron than Le Pen. The split is narrowest for Fillon voters (Fillon is really not much better than a fascist himself), widest for Hamon voters. Mélenchon voters had the highest abstention rate, but even so, an absolute majority of such voters declared their intention to vote for Macron.

    That he [Mélenchon] didn’t immediately announce that would would vote for Macron and urge his supporters to do the same – to stand firmly against fascism in France – is shameful. – SC@271

    Yes, I agree. He has an obvious slogan, too. In the 2002 elections, when Jean-Marie Le Pen got through to the second round against Chirac, the left’s slogan was “Vote for the crook, not the fascist”. Mélenchon has repeatedly derided Macron as a “banker”, so “Vote for the banker, not the fascist” suggests itself.

  196. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    re SC @ 315 and 316,

    Corey Stewart is quite the specimen. His first foray into the spotlight was about ten years ago when he was elected to the Prince William County board of supervisors and immediately began a war on immigrants there (undocumented and otherwise). Later he became the VA chairman for the Trump campaign until he was fired for being too controversial even for Trump. And now that he’s running for governor on the Confederate ticket, even his Republican colleagues on the county board have come out against him (by endorsing Ed Gillespie, who is a more bog-standard Rethuglican).

  197. says

    Lawrence O’Donnell was good last night. In the first segment, Matthew Miller offered a couple of insights: that the precedent the FBI has set with the Clinton investigation is that, whether or not criminal charges are ultimately filed,* documents and evidence are turned over to Congress and eventually made public, so they should be expected to do that for the Trump-Russia case, which is “far, far more significant”; second, that, given his recusal from the Russia investigation and the fact that he’s a potential witness in the case, it’s totally inappropriate for Sessions to be involved in any investigation into leaks that could be related to that case.

    O’Donnell also asked Tim Mak (see #270 above) about news that the House Oversight Committee will be viewing classified documents related to to Flynn today. I hadn’t heard about that.

    * I would be surprised if no one involved faced charges of tax evasion or money-laundering (unless they were given a deal to provide testimony about more serious crimes).

  198. says

    Reuters compares the staffing of the Senate Trump-Russia investigation to previous investigations:

    The Senate’s main investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is equipped with a much smaller staff than previous high-profile intelligence and scandal probes in Congress, which could potentially affect its progress, according to sources and a Reuters review of public records.

    With only seven staff members initially assigned to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s three-month-old investigation, progress has been sluggish and minimal, said two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, who requested anonymity.

    Burr, a member of Congress since 1995, last month called the Russia probe one of the biggest investigations undertaken in Congress during his tenure.

    Previous investigations of national security matters have been much larger in terms of staffing than the one Burr is overseeing, according to a review of official reports produced by those inquiries, which traditionally name every staff member involved.

    A House committee formed to investigate the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans had 46 staffers and eight interns.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee’s years-long study of the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation techniques during President George W. Bush’s administration had 20 staff members, according to the panel’s official report.

    A special commission separate from Congress that reviewed the intelligence that wrongly concluded former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction ahead of the 2003 invasion of Iraq involved 88 staffers.

    A special Senate committee’s 1970s investigation into Watergate-era surveillance practices tapped 133 staffers.

    A joint House-Senate probe of the 1980s Iran-Contra affair during Ronald Reagan’s presidency involving secret sales of arms to Iran to try to win the release of American hostages, with proceeds going to Nicaraguan rebels, had 181 staffers….

    A note: “With the House intelligence panel’s investigation for weeks stymied by partisan squabbles,…” This isn’t an accurate characterization. Nunes actively sought to sabotage the investigation, while Schiff has done his best to carry it out professionally. That’s not a “partisan squabble.”

  199. says

    Populism in action:

    UNION-BUSTER TO NLRB?: President Donald Trump, who assured labor leaders earlier this month that they will “always find an open door” at his White House, is close to nominating a bona fide union-buster for one of two open seats on the NLRB, POLITICO’s Mel Leonor reports. Doug Seaton, a Minnesota “lawyer for employers,” is one of three candidates on the administration’s shortlist to fill two empty positions on the labor board.

    “Starting with Ronald Reagan,” Leonor writes, “Republican presidents have often named stridently anti-union executives and attorneys to the NLRB. But labor and management sources queried by POLITICO couldn’t remember a previous instance when a president placed on the NLRB a ‘union avoidance’ consultant or ‘persuader,’ an occupation known colloquially as union-buster. The Labor Department requires union-busters to disclose their anti-union campaigns publicly. Seaton has done so on six occasions, most recently in May 2016.” At the moment Seaton’s leading a seventh persuasion campaign to decertify the Service Employees International Union from representing Minnesota’s 27,000 home health care workers….

  200. says

    This is…involved – “Flynn’s Turkish lobbying linked to Russia”:

    The Turkish man who gave Mike Flynn a $600,000 lobbying deal just before President Donald Trump picked him to be national security adviser has business ties to Russia, including a 2009 aviation financing deal negotiated with Vladimir Putin, according to court records.

    The man, Ekim Alptekin, has in recent years helped to coordinate Turkish lobbying in Washington with Dmitri “David” Zaikin, a Soviet-born former executive in Russian energy and mining companies who also has had dealings with Putin’s government, according to three people with direct knowledge of the activities.

    This unusual arrangement, in which Alptekin and Zaikin have helped steer Turkish lobbying through various groups since at least 2015, raises questions about both the agenda of the two men and the source of the funds used to pay the lobbyists.

    Although Turkey is a NATO ally, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has grown increasingly authoritarian and friendly with Putin. And the hiring of Flynn by Alptekin came at a time when Flynn was working for Trump’s campaign and Putin’s government was under investigation for interfering with the U.S. election….

  201. says

    Trump, who has a Nazi advisor and supports the French fascist candidate,* is currently speaking at a Holocaust Memorial Museum event.

    * …was endorsed by David Duke, Golden Dawn, J.-M. Le Pen,…; retweets white supremacists; etc.

  202. says

    So evidently the House Oversight Committee reviewed some classified documents from the Pentagon this morning:

    President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser did not properly disclose payments from Russia and does not appear to have complied with the law, House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings said Tuesday after reviewing Michael Flynn’s application for a security clearance.

    Chaffetz and Cummings announced their findings to reporters on the Hill following a classified gathering of the committee in which they reviewed documents that Cummings described as “extremely troubling.”

    “I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” Chaffetz said, referring to whether Flynn received permission from the Pentagon or the State Department or that he disclosed the more than $45,000 he was paid for a speech he gave to RT-TV in Russia….

  203. says

    SC @329, it’s so painful to watch Trump read reasonably coherent statements about the Holocaust from a teleprompter. He’s bad at it, and he went off prompter to add his signature “very, very” occasionally. He came off as a fraud and a buffoon. What that event did prove is that, when they put their mind to it, team Trump can acknowledge the Holocaust with appropriate text.

    SC @328, standing next to Chaffetz, Cummings was too kind to the White House. He didn’t say that the WH was obstructing the investigation.

    SC @318, Assange’s defense that he was just the publisher, not the hacker, is not going to keep him out of jail if he is ever extradited to the USA.

    In other news, even Republican judges in North Carolina have had enough of GOP legislators’ attempt to consolidate all power in that state in Republican hands.

    The battle between North Carolina’s Republican-dominated General Assembly and its Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has centered, in large part, around the judiciary.

    The GOP knows that many of its efforts to consolidate power are unlawful, and the courts have not hesitated to block legislative overreach. In response, North Carolina Republicans are attempting to simultaneously hobble the courts and pack them with partisans.

    Legislative Republicans are close to passing two bills that would strip Cooper of the authority to appoint many judges, delegating that task to the General Assembly instead. And they have already passed a bill shrinking the state Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12—a brazen effort to prevent Cooper from filling the vacancies left by three Republican judges set to step down during his term. Cooper vetoed the bill, but the legislature will soon enact the measure through veto override.

    On Monday, however, one of these judges took a stand against the GOP’s chicanery, resigning in protest of the bill targeting the Court of Appeals. Judge J. Douglas McCullough, a Republican, will reach the mandatory retirement age of 72 next month, requiring him to step down. At that point, the General Assembly will almost certainly have overridden Cooper’s veto, preventing him from appointing McCullough’s successor. So McCullough stepped down on Monday, allowing Cooper to appoint John Arrowood to replace him. Arrowood is a well-respected Democratic attorney who briefly sat on the Court of Appeals a decade ago. He is the court’s first openly gay member. […]

    Slate link

  204. blf says

    Hadley Freeman, one of my favourite writers in the Granuiad, opens up with the big naval guns on the current malarkey from too many (read: some) in the French left about supporting the le penazis for reasons, Le Pen is a far-right Holocaust revisionist. Macron isn’t. Hard choice? (my added emboldening; the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Is being an investment banker analogous with being a Holocaust revisionist? Is neoliberalism on a par with neofascism? […] I must admit to confusion about certain reactions when the centre-left and pro-EU candidate Emmanuel Macron beat the far-right and feverishly Islamophobic Marine Le Pen in the first round of the French election on Sunday. On Monday night Le Pen temporarily stepped down as head of the Front National, an acknowledgment that her own party’s toxically racist legacy, to which she and her family are wholly tied, is a bit de trop for mainstream voters in the final straight of this election. Others, however, saw a different problem.

    The hard-left candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, has, as yet, refused to endorse Macron. This is because he needs — in a move that further reduces the hard-left to its own self-parody — to consult the wishes of his supporters first. Yes, that’s right, he absolutely must have a collective debate about whether or not to endorse the candidate who has, as two of her closest advisers, associates of an unrepentant former SS member. Way to maintain the socialist dream!

    […] I’d like to talk a little about the distaste for Macron on the left, members of which would doubtless insist that Macron is NOT centre-left. But those of us who listened in despair last year to American friends loftily declare there was no substantive difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been here before. Clinton was more dangerous than Trump […]

    How lovely it must be to be able to care more about ideological purity than the genuine threat of actual fascism. How delicious it must be to burrow down luxuriantly in one’s own rigid moral certainties because you will not suffer the real effects of the worst-case scenario. You can instead self-indulgently focus on details instead of staring fearfully at the bigger picture.

    [… S]ome of us can imagine all too easily a France under the sway of a fascist leader, and what the costs of that would be. Sure, criticise Macron’s policies, but to rail against him because of your ideological idea of who he is — a banker, an insider — is the definition of decadence. Lucky you that you aren’t terrified about who — and what — he is running against.

    A week before the US election David Sedaris wrote about undecided American voters, and he compared them to passengers on a plane being presented with their meal options: “‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ {the flight attendant} asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?’ To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

    […]

    Locally, almost 30% voted for teh le penazis, with the burnt baguette (Fillon) slightly leading Mélenchon (both about 20%), Macron just slightly behind, and no-one else getting more than a percent or three-ish. Not surprising, this is long-time le penazi territory (unfortunately). In the upcoming second round, based on past recent-ish electons, locally teh le penazi vote will go up. Based on those recent past trends (and my own back-of-envelope guesstimates), I currently don’t quite see her getting a local majority, but a showing in the forty percents, locally, is plausible.

    Both le penazi and Macron supporters were leafleting this morning’s market (within, amusingly enough, spitting distance of each other — I deliberately avoided eye-contact with both, so don’t how how much they were glaring at each other).

  205. says

    blf @334, thanks for that. Good article. Excellent style (writing wise), and a good analysis.

    From The Guardian, (article written by Sabrina Siddiqui and Lauren Gambino in Washington):

    […] From the desk of the Oval Office to the podium at rallies filled with throngs of supporters, Trump has hailed his executive actions as “big stuff” and “very, very important”. The flick of his pen is promoted by the White House a major “win” and a promise kept to voters.

    “TRUMP TAKES ACTIONS TO GET WASHINGTON OUT OF THE WAY,” blared the subject line of one email blast touting a rollback federal regulations.

    But an analysis of Trump’s executive actions as he nears the 100th day of his presidency on Saturday — which thus far includes 25 executive orders, 24 memorandums and 20 proclamations — show that Trump’s actions are more cosmetic than they are substantive. Many of the actions establish big goals, but few provide legislative prescriptions. They order agency reviews and studies, ask for recommendations or tinker at the margins of existing law. […]

  206. says

    Hypocrisy noted by the Associated Press:

    White House aides said that Trump will have signed 32 executive orders by Friday, the most of any president in their first 100 days since World War II. That’s a far cry from Trump’s heated campaign rhetoric, in which he railed against his predecessor’s use of executive action late in his tenure as President Barack Obama sought to maneuver around a Republican Congress. Trump argued that he, the consummate deal maker, wouldn’t need to rely on the tool.

    “The country wasn’t based on executive orders,” said Trump at a town hall in South Carolina in February 2016. “Right now, Obama goes around signing executive orders. He can’t even get along with the Democrats, and he goes around signing all these executive orders. It’s a basic disaster. You can’t do it.”

    CNBC News, source AP

  207. says

    More of Trump’s past comments on executive orders:

    In January 2016, for example, Trump told Fox News, “The problem with Washington, they don’t make deals. It’s all gridlock. And then you have a president that signs executive orders because he can’t get anything done. I’ll get everybody together.” In November 2015, in reference to Obama, Trump added, “He doesn’t work the system. That is why he signs executive orders all the time because he can’t get his own people to go along.” A month earlier, Trump said, “Look at Obama. He doesn’t get anything done…. You’ve got to close the door and get things done without signing your executive orders all the time. That’s the easy way out.”

    This posture continued throughout his candidacy. As recently as late September 2016, Trump complained, “Right now, we have an executive-order president. He just keeps signing.”

    In March 2016, with his hold on the GOP nomination nearly complete, Trump went so far as to declare, “I want to not use too many executive orders, folks. Executive orders sort of came about more recently. Nobody ever heard of an executive order. Then all of a sudden Obama, because he couldn’t get anybody to agree with him, he starts signing them like they’re butter. So I want to do away with executive orders for the most part.”

    Perhaps the best quote of them all is from January 2016, when Trump told CNN his thoughts on the “executive-order concept.” The explained at the time, “You know, it’s supposed to be negotiated. You’re supposed to cajole, get people in a room, you have Republicans, Democrats, you’re supposed to get together and pass a law. [Obama] doesn’t want to do that because it’s too much work. So he doesn’t want to work too hard. He wants to go back and play golf.”

    I’m afraid the voters who took this rhetoric seriously really were played for suckers.

    Link

  208. says

    Then all of a sudden Obama, because he couldn’t get anybody to agree with him, he starts signing them like they’re butter.

    For non-native speakers wondering if “signing things like they’re butter” is an actual English expression, it is not. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, is “a give-up.”

  209. blf says

    SC@342, “A give-up” (albeit spelled without the hyphen) apparently is a term used by the crook’s market:

    [“A give up” is] used to describe a transaction between three brokers where one does not use his/her name. For example, Broker 1 receives a buy order that he/she is too busy to handle. Broker 1 asks Broker 2 to handle the order. Broker 2 buys the stock from Broker 3 on behalf of Broker 1’s client. The transaction will be recorded as if Broker 1 was never involved (he/she has “given it up”), even though the initial order was placed with him/her.

    And resemblance to what was actually meant could just be coincidence; I presume “gives up” or similar was meant. On the other hand, I’ve no clew at all what was meant by signing things like they’re butter.

  210. blf says

    If I wanted to be “Watching Wall Street,” I would have chosen a business channel.

    You want a continuous stream of lies to be incomprehensible as well as implausible?

  211. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    SC, blf,

    What, you’ve never signed butter before? (Or, for that matter, signed with butter?)

  212. says

    You want a continuous stream of lies to be incomprehensible as well as implausible?

    Huh? I was talking about the little box they have in the corner right now tracking the NYSE while Wilbur Ross is doing a press conference.

  213. says

    Stephen Colbert presented a comedy sketch discussing why Trump does not want to celebrate his first 100 days. The video is 12:19 minutes long.

    Scroll down to see Trevor Noah’s take on the same subject. The video is 4:11 minutes long.

  214. blf says

    I was talking about the little box they have in the corner right now tracking the NYSE while Wilbur Ross is doing a press conference.

    You mentioned a TV(? online?) channel, so I presumed “Watching Wall Street” was the name of a show on that channel. Thanks for the clarification.

  215. says

    I was talking about the little box they have in the corner right now tracking the NYSE while Wilbur Ross is doing a press conference.

    Which is now gone, mercifully – Spicer’s painful enough on his own.

  216. blf says

    It was the name of the box. :|

    The name of the box shown on the screen, the name of the box with the screen, or the brand of (frozen?) pizza? ;-)

  217. says

    More details regarding white supremacists in the White House:

    Mr. Trump’s senior White House adviser, Stephen Miller, worked tirelessly to defeat immigration reform as a staff member for Senator Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. Gene P. Hamilton, who worked on illegal immigration as Mr. Sessions’s counsel on the Judiciary Committee, is now a senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of the Border Patrol and ICE, where Mr. Feere is working. Julia Hahn, who wrote about immigration for Breitbart — with headlines like “Republican-Led Congress Oversees Large-Scale Importation of Somali Migrants” — has followed her former boss, Stephen K. Bannon, to the White House as a deputy policy strategist.

    Daniel Tichenor, an immigration politics scholar at the University of Oregon, called it “highly unusual” in the post-World War II era to have proponents of sharply reduced immigration in such high-ranking positions.

    “You would have to go to the 1920s and 1930s to find a comparable period in which you could point to people within the executive agencies and the White House who favored significant restrictions,” Mr. Tichenor said.

    New York Times link

  218. says

    “The Kochs have already spent over $3 million lobbying for Trump’s anti-environmental agenda: Fossil fuel spending swamps environmental efforts.”:

    New filings indicate that Koch Industries, the primary company of petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch, spent $3.1 million on congressional lobbying efforts in the first quarter of 2017, according to its disclosure report. Much of that money went towards anti-environmental initiatives, where the Kochs have found an ally in the new president.

    Lobbyists for Koch Industries worked on convincing congress to repeal the renewable fuel standard; to repeal requirements for vehicle efficiency, known as the CAFE standards; to repeal a Clean Air Act provision to decrease the risk of chemical accidents; to stymie the Clean Power Plan, an EPA rule to reduce carbon emissions from power plants; and on various budgetary allocations.

    In addition, the company lobbied senators to confirm former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is just one of several cabinet members with ties to fossil fuels.

    Koch Industries wasn’t the only fossil fuel company to spend significantly on lobbyists in the first quarter of the year….

    Since [Pruitt’s] taking a position in the Trump administration, Devon and the rest of the fossil fuel companies have seen a good return on their investment. Pruitt has — at the admitted behest of industry — repealed and delayed numerous rules intended to protect the nation’s environment, including some of the regulations specifically targeted in Devon’s lobbying efforts….

  219. blf says

    France24 has an article on George (Guido) Lombardi (who lives in hair furor’s NYC eyesore) and other USAian supporters of the French le penazis, including Iowa thug Steve King, The American inner circle of France’s far-right Marine Le Pen:

    When far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen Marine made it through to the run-off of the French presidential election on Sunday, some powerful people in the United States were celebrating.

    […]

    Lombardi hosted a fundraiser for Le Pen in [his trum-prat eyesore] apartment when Trump was still president-elect. She met businessmen, real estate brokers and potential donors. Among them were Americans, Israelis, Indians and Russians, according to Lombardi. Trump did not attend but the end result was satisfying to Le Pen: Lombardi suggested that she received numerous donations for her campaign.

    […]

    When Trump moved to the White House, Lombardi […] gained enormously in influence. He now spends weekends at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and was recently featured in a New York Times profile as the “point man for Europe’s populists”.

    […]

    Lombardi is indeed the US point man for Europe’s far-right politicians. His contacts include Dutch firebrand Geert Wilders and German far-right politician Frauke Petry.

    […] Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa […] was the first US member of Congress to publicly endorse Marine Le Pen for the presidency of France […] I’m very concerned that our civilisation itself could be subsumed in a generation or two. Through that lens is how I see Marine Le Pen.

    […]

    There are other Trump supporters also looking out for Le Pen in Washington. Among them is Michael Flanagan, a former one-term congressman who told Le Pen’s advisers in France what could make her more popular in the United States.

    […]

    [One of Flanagan’s suggestiona is Le Pen] could be the person to repair the relationship between Russia and the United States.

    […]

  220. says

    A closer look at the ways in which Trump’s proposed budget and tax reform plans screw poor and low-income families with children, while rewarding rich families with children:

    According to Donald Trump, Donald Trump loves and respects women more than anybody in the world. That’s why he and daughter Ivanka have put forth a plan for affordable child care, an essential building block in the foundation of gender equality at home and in the workplace.

    But Trump’s child-care proposal, which Ivanka is currently trying to sell to Congress, would function more as a handout to wealthy families than as necessary support for families already struggling to afford child-care services. Parents would get the subsidy as a bracket-based tax deduction, meaning people with higher incomes would get more money back. […]

    A new analysis from the Center for American Progress puts exact numbers to that likely outcome. […] Analysts found that a four-person family with two young children […] would get a tax deduction more than 1,000 times smaller than the deduction a similar family in Trump’s old Upper East Side neighborhood would get.

    […] Under Trump’s plan, these [low-income] families would get barely anything—their deductions would top out between $0 and $20. (From the GOP’s perspective, the great thing about making this a tax deduction instead of a tax credit is that families too poor to pay income taxes don’t benefit at all.) The median family income on the Upper East Side, where child-care for two young kids regularly exceeds $20,000 a year, is $295,000. These families—the Trumps’ former neighbors—would get a $7,329 tax deduction under the Trump plan. […] wealthier people would get an even larger sum.

    This proposal does the opposite of what it should. Poorer families spend a larger percentage of their already limited incomes on child-care than wealthier ones, but they’d get a much smaller break on their taxes. […]

    A better affordable child care proposal—one that would actually make a difference in Americans’ lives—would focus on families who are struggling to pay their child-care bills while meeting their basic needs and those who keep one parent out of work because the price of child care is high enough to justify the lost income. […]

    Slate link

  221. says

    Apparently, some members of team Trump think it is part of a cool game to lie to members of the media.

    […] Beyond the manufactured hostility directed at the media, the communications team at the White House intentionally lies to reporters, sources told Politico.

    One White House correspondent told the magazine that a Trump transition official warned him to be wary of White House aides speaking on background.

    “They will screw with you,” the correspondent was reportedly told. “They will feed you things that are not true.”

    Two people close to the administration also told Politico that White House staffers do much of their lying for sport, as opposed to fulfilling some grander political mission.

    “They all lie,” a conservative journalist close to the White House told Politico. “It’s a game to them.” The journalist suggested that West Wing staffers compete to see who can spread an untruth the farthest and loudest. Another conservative activist familiar with White House personnel corroborated the claims, telling Politico that Trump aides are firm in their cynicism about the press and the concept of facts. The activist said that staffers view the media as a corrupt institution that is gunning not only for their jobs but for their reputations.

    “They’ll print what they want anyways, so we may as well have fun,” a White House employee reportedly told the conservative activist. […]

    Salon link

    Politico link

  222. blf says

    Al Jazeera, citing the AP, reports US officials in Afghanistan suggest Russia arms Taliban:

    [… A] senior US military official speaking on condition of anonymity said in Kabul on Monday that Russia was giving machineguns and other medium-weight weapons to the [Taliban].

    […]

    General John Nicholson, the American commander in Afghanistan, would not provide specifics about Russia’s role in Afghanistan at a news conference in Kabul alongside Jim Mattis, the US defence secretary.

    But Nicolson would “not refute” that Moscow’s involvement includes giving weapons to the Taliban.

    […]

  223. says

    Can this schmuck be fired now?:

    I started digging and it didn’t take long to find out that Gorka is a fraud – a charlatan of the most brazen hue – a snake-oil salesman whose supposed Ph.D dissertation would have never passed muster in America or Britain and to put the cherry on the cake was approved by [a] fraudulent panel of examiners. The polar opposite of Lt. Gen H.R. McMasters celebrated dissertation awarded by UNC Chapel Hill.

  224. says

    @369 –

    “You lived like a star, you leave like a star.”

    What an overwhelming and emotional speech. His husband connected us to him those few words, made us feel how human he was. He wasn’t killed because of radical Islamic terrorism, he was killed because of hate, the same hate that is being fomented by the radical right here in the US and in Europe, in the name of alt right cult icons like Le Pen and Trump.

    I want the hate to end, I want the drumbeats of war to cease. We need Carl Sagan now more than ever, to tell us about the Pale Blue Dot. We must come together, and this speech speaks directly to that ideal. Thank you for sharing it.

  225. blf says

    Is something happening with some Trump property or financial interest in Canada?

    Yes. Teh trump-prat eyesore in Toronto went into receivership (Nov-2016) and is now up for sale (Feb-2017). In addition, hair furor’s only other Canadian project, an eyesore in Vancouver, which apparently is not yet completed, is not popular and has other problems.

    In Oct-2016, the BBC reported on both eyesores, Canada’s two Trump towers facing troubles: “In Vancouver, the developer of a new Trump Tower has been under pressure for months to drop the Republican presidential candidate’s name from the project. Meanwhile, the Trump Tower in Toronto is the subject of a lawsuit after facing years of controversy.”

  226. says

    Thanks, blf. This bellicose trade rhetoric about Canada seems to be coming out of nowhere. It could very well be just another attempt to distract as the failures pile up and investigations mount, but I was curious about whether he might have some personal financial benefit there that he could be trying to wring from Trudeau. (I have no doubt that he would do this – the only question is whether it’s the overriding motive in any particular situation.)

  227. says

    Josh Marshall:

    This is really quite astounding. In this morning’s edition of Mike Allen’s not-Playbook from Axios he introduces what seems to be Ivanka Trump setting up something that sounds a lot like the Clinton Foundation, only in this case run from within the White House by a top presidential aide who is also the President’s daughter, who also runs her own large international company and who also has two brothers who are currently running the President/Father’s company and trying to rake in as much money as possible on the fame and power of the presidency. Also, let’s be honest, the Trumps are a notoriously corrupt family, especially when it comes to running foundations.

    No less astounding is that Allen never mentions that there’s anything problematic about this or that it doesn’t mimic in a wildly more corrupt way what President Trump nominally ran most of the 2016 campaign against.

    As is the case on many other fronts, Trump and his family ran the 2016 campaign not so much against Hillary Clinton but a looking glass Hillary Clinton which was actually what they aspired to be and do if they won.

    He later adds: “The codebreaker is simple: Everything [sic] criticism Trump made was a prediction and aspiration.”

  228. blf says

    This bellicose trade rhetoric about Canada seems to be coming out of nowhere.

    No, there’s a long history to it, going back decades. USA has accused Canada of erecting trade barriers on dairy products, causing, in the minds of those hard-of-thinking, the USAian dairy industry to have problems. And the USAian lumber industry has also long accused Canada of subsidizing lumber exports, despite Canada winning a World Trade Court(?) case, back in something like 2000, saying it does no such thing.

    Whilst digging up the info on hair furor’s properties in Canada (@371), I quickly skimmed some of the analysis of what is going on now. At the Risk of misrepresenting what I skimmed / understood, this reaction action seems to have several factors: Some sort of relevant agreement expired back in Oct(?)-2016; The diary and lumber disputes have been contained by NAFTA, which the trum-prat campaigned against; He’s probably looking for a “win” during his first 100 days of terror; He’s probably been pressured by the two industries in question, and that pressure’s dubious claims about Canada neatly meshes up with his zero-sum greedy rent-seeking economic- (and world-)view; and, surprisingly, Canada is a “soft” target.

    US–Canada cross-border trade is among the largest in the world, so you’d think Canada would have many counteractions available. That is, apparently, true, but essentially all of them would have nasty effects in / on Canada. Upshot, at least according to the analyses I skimmed, is, as I recall, there isn’t much backpressure or so on Canada can apply.

  229. blf says

    I meant for Trump specifically.

    Sez he hates NAFTA; Probably looking for a “win”; The recently expiring agreement providing an opportunity; and The perception of a “weak” Canada (apparent unlikelihood of a effective response) are mostly-specific to hair furor.

  230. says

    Sez he hates NAFTA; Probably looking for a “win”; The recently expiring agreement providing an opportunity; and The perception of a “weak” Canada (apparent unlikelihood of a effective response) are mostly-specific to hair furor.

    This is plausible. I don’t know that I’d call October of last year “recent,” though. Also wouldn’t be too sure about the unlikelihood of an effective response. I think the desperate search for a “win”/distraction/opportunity for tough posturing this week are likely motives (as is people involved convincing him he’s being had by Canada), but I still wouldn’t rule out personal business interests.

  231. blf says

    Update on a story from back in February about the Indian film censor banning “Lipstick Under My Burkha” for being lady oriented: Indian film board clears Lipstick Under My Burkha for release. A few fairly minor changes must be made, which the director, Alankrita Shrivastava, has accepted: “Of course I would have loved no cuts, but the FCAT has been very fair and clear. I feel that we will be able to release the film without hampering the narrative or diluting its essence.” (FCAT is the Indian Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.) In the meantime, the film has apparently won more awards.

  232. blf says

    I still wouldn’t rule out personal business interests

    I concur, I don’t rule a connection out; I was merely reciting what I could quickly recall having skimmed whilst looking for possible hair furor property problems in Canada.

    Whether or not October is “recent” would depend on numerous perceptions, but I suggest it’s not too relevant in this specific line of speculations: Hair furor seems to hold (I initially typed “hoard”!) grudges for long, long, times. “Recent” doesn’t necessarily enter into his perceptions.

    Apropos of nothing much, his Toronto eyesore happened to go belly-up at about that same time. That is also when (in his mind) he quite possibly thinks he gained control from his supposedly-hated Obama / Clinton swamp. This entire Oct / Nov timing is clearly coincidental — in the Real World; However, both coincidences and the Real World seem to be utterly alien to teh trum-prat.

  233. blf says

    No one sabotages Donald Trump better than Donald Trump:

    Yet another executive order by the US president [sic] was blocked by the courts, in part because of his own words. His tweets are a political doomsday device

    Welcome to the age of presidential sabotage. Since assuming office, President [sic] Donald J Trump has shown little inclination to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, as commanded by the US constitution. Instead, he has openly declared his intention to wreak havoc in key programs.

    He has appointed officials known to be sworn enemies of their own agencies. He has gutted protections for students, consumers, women, workers, and the environment. And he has threatened to inflict staggering damage on US insurance markets — unless opponents bend to his will and repeal the Affordable Care Act. [See original for all the supporting hyperlinks –blf]

    But nowhere has Trump proved more effective at undermining federal programs than his own executive orders. There, wielding his Twitter handle like a doomsday device, Trump has displayed an unparalleled flair for self-sabotage. […]

    “Exhibit A,” of course, is the widely reviled travel ban, which has been blocked by federal courts largely on the basis of Trump’s own animus-laden statements. […]

    On Tuesday, Trump’s prior remarks struck again. Citing the president’s televised threat to punish California, a federal judge blocked Trump’s order to strip “sanctuary cities” of federal funds unless they capitulate to his demand […]

    […]

    As Niko Bowie observed last week, these [numerous] public comments [by hair furor and teh dalekocracy] immediately shattered Trump’s legal defense: “{He} might as well wave the white flag to San Francisco, Santa Clara, and all the other places challenging the order in court.” It’s tough to argue that nobody is really threatened by an order when your client — the president [sic] — is literally on TV threatening people.

    This wasn’t the first time, and it surely won’t be the last, that courts are asked to take Trump at his word. In many cases, Trump’s word may spell doom for his policies, given his comfort with tweeting forbidden motives and threatening opponents. In important constitutional and administrative cases, courts will have to reckon like never before with well-supported attacks on presidential motive and intent. […]

    Trump’s defenders will thus have no choice but to argue that we just can’t take Trump at his word. They’ll insist that his campaign statements are uniquely off limits; that his motives are endlessly mysterious; that he’s just engaging in public and political advocacy; that formal doctrines forbid any judicial inquiries into motive; and that his statements are unrelated to policies and decisions issued by other parts of the executive branch. And they’ll impugn judges who take Trump seriously, as White House chief of staff Reince Priebus did in describing Judge Orrick’s ruling as bananas. [See original for all the supporting hyperlinks –blf]

    […]

    The article goes on to warn about become desensitised “and to [falsely] conclude that Trump’s words mean nothing, either to him or to anyone else.”

  234. blf says

    Oh for fecks sake, here in France, Mélenchon’s “team” have all but endorsed teh le penazis in effect by not asking his supporters to vote, and to vote for Macron, Mélenchon’s team urge ‘not one vote for Le Pen’ but stop short of backing Macron. Basically, they are asking “how is the chicken cooked?” (see @334).

    Apparently, the current “thinking” in Mélenchon’s camp is to do any of not vote, spoil the ballet, or vote Macron, claiming none of those three choices are “immoral”. WRONG. Two of them are immoral, because they assist teh le penazis by reducing Macron’s total. Teh nazis appear to need a lot of non-voters, spoiled ballets, and cross-overs from other candidates’s supporters to win; so one thing you don’t do is encourage your supporters to do any of those very things she needs.

    This appears, to me, to be about the same nonsense that happened with hair furor in the States: Confusing “marking a ballet for Macron (Clinton)” with “supporting Macron’s (Clinton’s) policies”.

  235. says

    Cross posted from the “The President Must Be a Zombie” thread.

    Dunc @7

    Caine, @3:

    He’s a malignant narcissist with one ability: bullying.

    That’s not fair! He can also grift and lie.

    Grifting and lying are part of being a malignant narcissist.

    One caveat about the bullying: Trump is also bad a bullying. His attempted bullying associated with two Muslim bans, went awry. His attempted bullying of judges (Curiel, 9th Circuit, etc.) went awry. Most recently, his attempted bullying over funds for his wall on the southern border went awry. He had to back down.

    […] Trump had made a flat demand for border wall money or he’d toss people off Obamacare and shut down the government to boot. Later he waffled and finally pulled one of Trump’s classic whipsaw pre-fails, deciding he’d just try to get the money in the fall.

    Yes, Trump made his threat. Then he caved. But while threatening and caving he was here and there un-threatening and un-caving. It wasn’t just bluster followed by fail in some normal linear fashion. It was impossible to now what Trump and the White House were doing or about to do. It was and is impossible to know what was trying to do. […] inability to act like a grown up or even a President. […]

    There’s no Trump viewpoint or thinking or goal to represent. There’s no actor at the center of the machine, at least not one who remains constant enough in any aim or view to matter. So there’s no point figuring our which advisor speaks for the President or represents his thinking. Because, fundamentally, there’s no thinking to represent. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

    Trump does have a religion: Winning.

    Read more: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2017/04/26/the-president-must-be-a-zombie/#ixzz4fNT8vxWt

  236. says

    Republican lawmakers are looking out for themselves when it comes to health care. They are making sure they get theirs, while apparently not caring if tens of millions of other Americans are denied health insurance.

    […] House Republicans introduced an amendment ensuring that members of Congress and their staff would be exempt from the consequences of any health insurance law the party manages to pass.

    Under the House amendment, first reported by Vox, lawmakers and their staff members would still be protected by Obamacare’s pro-consumer rules that get wiped out for millions of other Americans under the Republican repeal package.

    The broader repeal bill encourages states to abandon Obamacare rules that bar insurers from refusing people with pre-existing conditions and establish a minimum amount of coverage that all health insurance plans must offer. These consumer protections become optional under the deal — exposing House and Senate members and staff to the whims of their home-state governments. […]

    Republicans and the White House have consistently chosen to make their proposed health care plan crueler to the sick, poor, and working-class in hopes of winning more support from the Freedom Caucus. That tendency — chasing hard-right votes while trying to convince moderates not to bolt — makes the special congressional exemption from Trumpcare an especially insidious. Influential Republicans are sweetening the deal for moderates by offering them a personal escape hatch from the hard-hearted legislation.

    MacArthur’s self-serving maneuver is obviously hypocritical in the immediate sense. If a lawmaker thinks it would be good for Americans to lose insurance protections at their governor’s whim, she shouldn’t have any trouble facing that same music herself.

    But there’s another level of hypocrisy at play here, at least for the Republican lawmakers who have been around since the original Obamacare fight in 2009 and 2010. Back then, during the debate over the passage of the Affordable Care Act, GOP leaders argued it’s only fair to require Congress to participate in any health insurance overhaul it imposes on the country. […]

    Think Progress link

  237. says

    Oh, FFS! Another bullying threat from team Trump:

    The odds of a government shutdown ticked up on Tuesday night [last night] when Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney reportedly told House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that the Trump administration might not cover next month’s cost sharing payments for low-income people with Obamacare marketplace plans.

    […] Cutting off the payments could potentially kick millions of people off the state exchanges, pushing some private insurers to withdraw as well. Premiums could shoot up across the board.

    Trump had previously threatened to cut off the payments earlier this month if Congress failed to appropriate money for his proposed border wall in the upcoming budget. But he caved on border wall funding earlier this week […] But not long afterward, Mulvaney informed Pelosi that “absent Congressional action, the administration would cease making [cost sharing] payments,” […]

    Given the Trump administration’s recent prevarication on cost-sharing — and President Donald Trump’s habit of making threats he has no intention of acting on — it’s hard to gauge the seriousness of Mulvaney’s ultimatum. But if the administration holds the line this time around, they could be setting up a massive game of shutdown chicken for the days or weeks ahead. […]

    Think Progress link

  238. says

    What Trump tweeted this morning:

    First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!

    Out of our very big country, with many choices, does everyone notice that both the “ban” case and now the “sanctuary” case is brought in the Ninth Circuit, which has a terrible record of being overturned (close to 80%). They used to call this “judge shopping!” Messy system.

    Judge William Orrick, the judge who issued a temporary stay blocking the attempt to defund “sanctuary cities,” is  a district court judge from San Francisco. He  does not sit on the Ninth Circuit, which is an appeals court.

    […] In his ruling, Orrick argued that taking federal funding away from cities and counties like Santa Clara County and the city of San Francisco, which challenged the law by not cooperating with federal authorities, could be unconstitutional. He pointed out that these localities would face “immediate irreparable harm” in part because federal grants that “support core services in their jurisdictions” could be cut off. […]

    Link

  239. blf says

    Judge William Orrick, the judge who issued a temporary stay blocking the attempt to defund “sanctuary cities,” is  a district court judge from San Francisco. He  does not sit on the Ninth Circuit, which is an appeals court.

    Not quite, this is a confusion about the term “Ninth Circuit”. As the Ninth Circuit’s own website puts it, What is the Ninth Circuit?:

    The United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit consists of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals along with district and bankruptcy courts in the 15 federal judicial districts that comprise the circuit, and associated administrative units that provide various court services.

    Yes, the judge in Hawai’i who blocked the second Muslim ban, and the one in San Francisco who blocked the sanctuary cities defunding, are not on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, they are part of the US Courts for the Ninth Circuit, being district judges for federal districts in the Ninth Circuit.

    Also, unsurprisingly, hair furror is misleading about the 80% overturn rate (see, e.g., Snopes, for details).

  240. says

    SC @390, discussion on MSNBC focused on the point that it is not realistic to expect that the tax cuts proposed by Republicans will grow the economy enough to offset the massive loss in revenue. I suspect team Trump of burying some of the details in wonky language so that it sounds good, but so that it is hard for most people to understand.

    It was also pointed out on MSNBC that in the two-page summary of Trump’s 2005 taxes (presented earlier by Rachel Maddow), we saw enough detail to know that this new tax cut proposal would have benefitted Trump to the tune of about $5 million if it had been in place in 2005. So, yes, he is giving handouts to himself, his children, and his fellow millionaires/billionaires.

    From the Talking Points Memo summary:

    […] a proposal to slash the corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent—a change that would balloon the federal deficit by an estimated $2 trillion dollars over a decade. The plan will reportedly include additional cuts to the income tax rate paid by high earners and a tax credit for child care that would mostly benefit the wealthy, at further cost to the federal budget. […]

    “There’s no pure tax cut that pays for itself,” Alan Cole, an economist at the right-leaning Tax Foundation, told the Associated Press.

    Len Burman, the co-founder of the Tax Policy Center think tank, characterized it as “wishful thinking.” Bruce Bartlett, an economist who advised the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, has likened these calculations to “using smoke and mirrors to institutionalize Republican ideology into the budget process.” George Callas, who serves as senior tax counsel to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), dismissed the framework as a “magic unicorn” whose main impact would be akin to “dropping cash out of helicopters on corporate headquarters.”

  241. says

    I can’t help but think that this is bad news: Freedom Caucus endorses Obamacare repeal compromise.

    The House Freedom Caucus — the conservative group that sunk House Republicans’ Obamacare replacement last month — has officially endorsed a new compromise on the bill, delivering a fresh burst of momentum to the GOP’s efforts to do away with the Democratic health care law.

    […] The White House has been pressing Republicans to broker a compromise.

    “While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs,” the statement said. “We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to improve the bill.”

    It’s still unclear, however, whether the group’s support will push the legislation over the finish line. House leaders will need to convince some skeptical moderate Republicans, […]

    A provision in the proposal appeared to exempt members of Congress and their aides from weakened regulations that states would be allowed to adopt. […]

    “It should be no surprise that TrumpCare has gotten so terrible that Republicans have resorted to exempting themselves and their families from the pain it inflicts,” said Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. “Speaker Ryan and Congressional Republicans promised that Americans with pre-existing conditions would be protected, but it turns out they were only talking about themselves.” […]

    Politico link

  242. says

    Reports from teachers on how Trumpism is influencing students:

    […] In the 12 years I have taught at my high school, I have never dealt with any students who have shown white supremacy tendencies. We are a very diverse school. But since the election, a group of around 10 ninth-grade white students have been responsible for Nazi-related graffiti, random “Trump!” chants at Latino students, using the term “Jewish” as something that is negative, and [sending] mass emails through the online classroom with anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT messages. [from Mark in Kansas]

    Students have been a lot more openly disrespectful toward women. My students are 14 years old and are fairly internet-savvy. I get a lot of students commenting on female appearances, making openly anti-feminist comments. It all feels like normalized behavior to them. I will stop this behavior when it happens and point out how it violates our community agreements, but for a lot of young men I’m just another radical “feminazi,” and it feels that anything I said would simply be rejected and ignored.

    It is really hard to not get emotional. For example, we were discussing forced child marriage, and a student refer[red] to a child from the story as a “skanky whore.” I’ve learned that talking one on one, my previous best strategy for inappropriate comments, doesn’t work because it opens me up for liability, as students can easily lie about our conversation. […] [From Danielle in California]

    […]

    Vox link

  243. says

    SC @390, discussion on MSNBC focused on the point that it is not realistic to expect that the tax cuts proposed by Republicans will grow the economy enough to offset the massive loss in revenue. I suspect team Trump of burying some of the details in wonky language so that it sounds good, but so that it is hard for most people to understand.

    I was being sarcastic. :) If you follow the link, you’ll see that it’s basically just a page of Republican tax talking points. It’s about as far from a tax plan as this tweet is from a dissertation.

  244. says

    Regarding Trump’s tax proposal, here is a summary from John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] It’s well known in Washington that the staffers working for Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, are a good ways away from drafting a detailed proposal, and that the only reason the Administration is making an announcement this week is that the President demanded one in advance of Saturday, which marks his hundredth day in office.

    It’s tempting to dismiss the whole thing as a publicity stunt, but that would be a mistake. […]

    […] cut in the corporate-income-tax rate, from thirty-five per cent to fifteen per cent, and this will be combined with a mechanism to allow big corporations to repatriate taxable earnings currently being held abroad to pay an even lower rate.

    […] cutting the top rate and reducing the number of tax brackets—despite recent arguments made against such measures from economists who advised Trump during the campaign.

    […] There is a huge hole on the revenue side. […] Trump’s advisers are relying on faster economic growth to boost tax receipts and prevent the budget deficit from ballooning. […]

    […] In all likelihood, wages and productivity would be largely unaffected by Trump’s tax cuts. And, since the giveaways would be concentrated on the very rich, measures of post-tax inequality would rise.

    […] In the past ten years, Britain has cut its corporate tax rate from thirty per cent to nineteen per cent. The share of gross fixed-capital formation in G.D.P. is still much lower than it was in the nineteen-seventies, when the tax rate on corporations was more than fifty per cent. And wage growth was a lot stronger back then, too.

    Because of all the loopholes in the U.S. tax code, the effective corporate tax rate is already a lot lower than the official rate of thirty-five per cent. […]

    According to the nonpartisan Center for Tax Policy, cutting the corporate rate to fifteen per cent would cost about $2.4 trillion over ten years. If you add in all the personal-income-tax cuts that Trump proposed during last year’s campaign, the tab comes to about $6.2 trillion.* Even the original Voodoo Economists in the Reagan Administration would have blanched at claims that more rapid economic growth could close a fiscal hole of this size. […]

    Finally, there is the basic unfairness of it all. In his address to Congress at the end of February, Trump said that he would provide “massive tax relief for the middle class.” But, from everything we know, the primary beneficiaries of his plan will be the very rich.

    […] they stand to reap big gains from a cut in the top income-tax rate. As owners of so-called pass-through businesses and investment partnerships, they stand to gain from the cut in the corporate tax rate. And as major owners of corporate equities, they stand to gain from the profit-repatriation scheme, the proceeds of which are likely to be largely used for stock buybacks and other financial-engineering schemes. […]

    […] more than half of the tax cuts would go to the richest five per cent of households in the country; about two-fifths would go to the richest one per cent; and about a fifth would go to the richest 0.01 per cent.

    Doubtless, Trump will persist with the claim that he is working on a populist plan designed to get the economy going. In actuality, he is cooking up a fiscally irresponsible gift to plutocrats.

  245. says

    Thanks SC @397. Sorry I misunderstood you. I did think the actual press briefing contained some over-simplification as well as some wonky language. The “proposal” itself is just a wish list for unicorns and rainbows.

    In other news, Trump signed an executive order today that calls for a review of all the national monuments created in the past 20 years (well, not all, but those over 100,000 acres in size). He wants to roll back protection for a lot of public land. A roll back would allow developers and extractive industries to use the land.

    Examples of areas that may be affected:
    Bears Ears Monument, 1.35 million acres in Utah
    Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, 1.7 million acres in Utah
    etc.

    […] what Bishop [House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah] is proposing — overturning Bears Ears’ federally protected status — has no precedent. Congress currently possesses the power to eliminate national monuments but has done so only a handful of times and never for a monument on the scale of Bears Ears, which is more than 1 million acres and considered sacred to local Native American tribes.

    Republicans like Bishop are arguing that the Antiquities Act could be used to completely do away with national monuments instead of just creating them. But no president has ever attempted this, which Secretary Zinke admitted during last night’s White House press briefing. “It is untested … whether the president can do that,” he said of abolishing a national monument.

    There are roughly 30 national monuments at risk of losing their federally protected status, [see map at the link]. […]

    Link

  246. blf says

    South Carolina Republican: scrap slave memorial if Confederate monument goes:

    […]
    A South Carolina candidate for US Congress, who has been criticized for using the 2015 killings of nine black church members in a campaign advert, has said the removal of a Confederate monument in the state should be matched by the removal of a memorial to African American slaves.

    Sheri Few, who is running for South Carolina’s fifth congressional district, was condemned by the pastor of the Emanuel AME church last week for a “completely distasteful” advert in which she criticized weak politicians for removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s statehouse in 2015, while wielding a semi-automatic rifle.

    […]

    Never heard of this nutcase before, but some admittedly quick searching suggests she’s a fairly extreme kook: She ran anti-gay and abstinence-only until marriage organization, and is an anti-vaxxer and a creationist who believes magic sky faeries told her to run for office. She was, apparently, Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign director in South Carolina in 2012 (and worked with Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign before that, in 2007). And so on and so on and so on… You get the idea.

  247. says

    Team Trump plans to dismantle net neutrality:

    Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai will travel to Capitol Hill on Friday to brief House members in the wake of his announcement that the FCC will be launching a campaign to dismantle net neutrality. […]

    […] the agency’s 2015 net neutrality rules […] require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. […]

    Link

  248. says

    Trump praised Betsy DeVos today. And it looks like he is planning to find more ways to dismantle the public school system in the USA:

    President Trump on Wednesday praised Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for a “really exceptional” tenure so far while he signed an executive order directing her department to examine the federal government’s authority over schools.

    “I’m very proud,” Trump said at the White House. “She’s caught on — you wouldn’t believe it — all of the great things I’m hearing about you, Betsy.”

    The order directs the Department of Education to “determine where the Federal Government has unlawfully overstepped state and local control” on K-12 education policies. […]

    Trump said in February that DeVos suffered “a very unfair” trial during her confirmation hearings. He added her work at Education would make America’s children the “real winner.”

    Link

    SC @410, Trump should have just had them bussed to his D.C. hotel so that he could produce an advert at the same time. Like a lot of others, I suspect he is just stage managing a huge photo op. Substance regarding North Korea policy will be lacking.

  249. says

    Follow-up to comment 413.

    Here’s one of the great things Betsy Devos did, things for which Trump praised her today:

    If it weren’t completely fucking over at least 2,400 low-income high-school students, this would be among the funniest things yet out of Trump’s First 100 Days Of Rage: Under America’s least literate president, the Education Department has rejected grant applications from at least 40 colleges and other organizations for the Upward Bound program, which provides poor kids — many of them members of minority groups — with tutoring and counseling to give them a better chance at college. Why? Because, as the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, the grant applications ran “afoul of rules on mandatory double-spacing rules, use of the wrong font, or other minor technical glitches.”

    Yes, this is the same Education Department that was was mocked on social media in February for sending out a tweet misspelling the name of educator and NAACP founder W.E.B. Du Bois (they spelled it “DeBois”), and then misspelling “apologies” in its later correction: “Our deepest apologizes for the earlier typo.” (The department has since outsourced its social media to Ralph the Wonder Llama at great expense.) So maybe the move to punish poor kids for schools’ minor formatting errors is a passive-aggressive way for the Education Department to lash out. “You want nitpicking? We’ll show you NITPICKING!” […]

    Wonkette link

  250. blf says

    More on net neutrality (@411), Trump’s plan to overturn net neutrality rules to face ‘a tsunami of resistance’:

    FCC chairman Ajit Pai vows to cut rules to enforce an open internet where all traffic is treated equally — but senators and activists warn there will be a fight

    The Trump administration’s plans to overturn open internet protections face “a tsunami of resistance from a grassroots movement of Americans from every walk of life,” senators and activists warned on Wednesday.

    Trump’s newly appointed Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai set out his plans to address internet regulation at a speech in Washington on Wednesday. Pai has vowed to take fire up the weed-whacker and cut Obama-era rules meant to enforce an open internet where all traffic is treated equally online — the so-called net neutrality rules.

    […]

    Craig Aaron, president of consumer-advocacy group Free Press, said the Trump’s administration was trying to erase “one of the most important public interest victories ever.” Such a move would leave consumers “at the mercy of the phone and cable companies, some of the most hated companies in America.”

    Aaron said Pai was living in a “fantasy world, where all will be fine if internet companies double-pinky swear not to interfere with online pathways and portals — despite their long history of doing just that.”

    Apparently the idea is to replace the mandatory net neutrally rules with “internet service providers volunteer[ing] to protect net neutrality.” Snort!

    […]

    Evan Greer, the campaign director for Fight For the Future, said that many supporters of net neutrality were also Trump supporters. “Donald Trump has completely misjudged his base on this issue,” Greer said. “People from across the political spectrum want to keep the internet free from throttling and censorship. They don’t want their cable companies, who they already pay too much money to connect them to the internet, to decide what they can do and see online.”

  251. says

    Canada won’t be seeing a Trump-lite political campaign. Kevin O’Leary, Canadian businessman and regular on the reality TV show Shark Tank, has announced he’s dropping out of the Conservative Party leadership race. He says he doesn’t think he can beat Justin Trudeau in an election because he hasn’t managed to get much support in Quebec, and his French is too limited. He’s throwing his support behind Maxime Berner.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/kevin-oleary-drops-out-endorses-bernier-1.4086583

  252. blf says

    ‘Downward spiral’: UK slips to 40th place in press freedom rankings:

    Reporters Without Borders says Britain is approaching tipping point in wake of passage of Investigatory Powers Act

    Journalists in the UK are less free to hold power to account than those working in South Africa, Chile or Lithuania, according to an index of press freedom around the world.

    Laws permitting generalised surveillance, as well as a proposal for a new espionage act that could criminalise journalists and whistleblowers as spies, were cited by Reporters Without Borders as it knocked the UK down two places from last year, to 40th out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index.

    In the past five years, the UK has slipped 12 places down the index. Rebecca Vincent, RSF’s UK bureau director, said this year’s ranking would have been worse were it not for a general decline in press freedom around the world, making journalists in Britain comparatively better off than those in countries such as Turkey and Syria.

    RSF, which campaigns for free speech, warned of a general erosion of media freedom in English-speaking, democratic countries. The US, long considered a bastion of freedom of speech thanks to the first amendment of its constitution, also dropped two places, to 43rd. […]

    […]

    Among the concerns raised by RSF was the passage of the UK’s “menacing” Investigatory Powers Act last November, which met only token resistance within parliament, despite giving UK intelligence agencies and police the most sweeping surveillance powers in the western world.

    RSF said the act was a possible “death sentence” for investigative journalism in Britain, owing to its lack of protections for whistleblowers, journalists and their sources, and that it set a damaging precedent for other countries to follow.

    […]

    Norway was ranked first in the index, followed by Sweden and Finland. The Finnish prime minister’s attempts to pressure journalists at state broadcaster YLE lost his country the top spot. At the other end of the spectrum, Eritrea’s decision to allow foreign media crews into the country meant it was replaced in last position by North Korea for the first time since 2007. In North Korea, just listening to foreign media broadcasts could lead to sanctions, RSF said.

    […]

    Here is the summary for the States (from the first embedded link):

    First Amendment under increasing attack

    US press freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment to the 1787 constitution, has encountered several major obstacles over the past few years, most recently with the election of President Donald Trump. He has declared the press an enemy of the American people in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, while attempting to block White House access to multiple media outlets in retaliation for critical reporting. Despite the bleak outlook under Trump, it bears repeating that his predecessor left behind a flimsy legacy for press freedom and access to information. Journalists continue to be arrested for covering various protests around the country, with several currently facing criminal charges. The Obama administration waged a war on whistleblowers who leaked information about its activities, leading to the prosecution of more leakers than any previous administration combined. To this day, American journalists are still not protected by a federal “shield law” guaranteeing their right to protect their sources and other confidential work-related information. And over the past few years, there has been an increase in prolonged searches of journalists and their devices at the US border, with some foreign journalists being prevented from any travel to the US after they covered sensitive topics such as Colombia’s FARC or Kurdistan.

  253. blf says

    Homeland security unveils Trump’s controversial immigrant crime office:

    Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement is intended to keep victims informed of suspects’ proceedings, but critics warn that such an office is misguided

    The Trump administration has unveiled a controversial new office set up to support the victims of crimes committed solely by undocumented migrants, which was quickly labelled a device for “scapegoating immigrants” by advocates who pointed to numerous studies showing immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crime.

    The Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or Voice, was commissioned by Donald Trump in January through an executive order that also contained a host of hardline changes to immigration enforcement in the United States. The president was later booed by Democrats when he mentioned the new office during a speech to Congress in February.

    [… H]omeland security secretary John Kelly told reporters that the intention behind Voice was to acknowledge the exceptional damage caused by criminal illegal aliens and to support the victims of these preventable crimes.

    Kelly, who did not take questions from reporters, added: There’s nothing but goodness in what we are doing here today.

    […]

    As part of the hardline January order, Voice is also expected to produce a quarterly report detailing all crimes in America committed by undocumented migrants. [Ice (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) spokesman Bryan] Cox confirmed the agency intended to comply with the directive but said there was no date set for the first of these crime reports.

    According to research published by the American Immigration Council in 2015, immigrants are far less likely to engage in criminal behaviour than those born in the US […]

    Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, […] told the Guardian: “It’s hard not to believe that the president doesn’t have an agenda here to make some kind of ugly example of undocumented immigrants.”

    Grace Meng, an immigration researcher at Human Rights Watch’s US program shared these concerns.

    “Scapegoating immigrants as responsible for crime is a common tactic used by abusive governments around the world, to create a convenient fantasy that a society’s problems all come from the outside.”

    […]

  254. says

    blf @417:

    […] a proposal for a new espionage act that could criminalise journalists and whistleblowers as spies […]

    Ah, now that would be something Trump would love!

    Scary.

  255. says

    blf @417:

    […] a proposal for a new espionage act that could criminalise journalists and whistleblowers as spies […]

    Ah, now that would be something Trump would love!

    Scary.

  256. says

    This is a follow-up to comments 388 and 389, in which we saw Trump misidentifying the court in which Judge Williams Orrick III serves. blf pointed out that, if one takes a broader view of the definition of “Ninth Court,” then Orrick could be said to serve in that district.

    However, Trump seems to be referring to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, on which Orrick does not sit. You can tell because Trump repeated his misleading meme about breaking up the 9th Circuit, and about the 9th Circuit being overturned. Cases go through the Appeals court before they go to the Supreme Court, where they may be overturned. blf provided a link to some corrective debunking in comment 389.

    Orrick serves in the Northern District of California, one level down from the Appeals level.

    Trump did it again:

    […] Trump floated the idea of breaking up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday, misidentifying it yet again as the court responsible for the nationwide injunction issued Tuesday against his executive order regarding so-called sanctuary cities.

    “There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit,” Trump told the Washington Examiner in an interview. “It’s outrageous.” […]

    Trump told the Washington Examiner that opponents of his policies had gone “judge shopping” in the circuit. […]

    “Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit,” he said. “And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that’s like, semi-automatic.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-floats-breaking-ninth-circuit

    Trump doesn’t just get things wrong (or partially wrong), he repeats and repeats his misleading statements.

  257. says

    Update on people suing Fox News:

    Thirteen current or former Fox News employees of color, including a current anchor, have joined two racial discrimination lawsuits against the network, […]

    “This lawsuit will continue to grow, I suspect,” attorney Douglas Wigdor said at a press conference, […] noting that he has received calls from additional on-air Fox employees since he filed an amended version of the complaint Tuesday. […]

    Kelly Wright […], a black reporter and anchor who has spent 14 years at the network, is now lead plaintiff on the class action suit, which was filed last month in state Supreme Court in the Bronx on behalf of two former payment department employees.

    Wright alleged in the complaint that he was “effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a ‘Jim Crow’—the racist caricature of a Black entertainer,” according to CNN.

    An award-winning journalist who serves as co-anchor of America’s News Headquarters, a Saturday program, Wright contended he’s been kept off of the network’s marquee programs, […]

    He alleged his effort to do a series of stories about black communities in America was rejected by the show because “it showed Blacks in ‘too positive’ a light,” […]

    […] demanding that black employees arm-wrestle white colleagues, mocking how black employees pronounced words like “ask” and “mother” and suggesting black men were “women beaters.” […]

    Another former employee, Adasa Blanco, filed a related, separate complaint on Tuesday against Fox News, Slater and Brandi, alleging that top executives at the network ignored employees’ repeated complaints about racial discrimination, […]

    Link

  258. says

    About that supposedly classified briefing of Senators who were bussed to the White House today:

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led the session, did not divulge whether the United States is considering military options against North Korea […] And senators said officials did not discuss putting North Korea back on the list of nations that sponsor terrorism, as some lawmakers want. […]

    President Donald Trump spoke for a few minutes at the classified briefing, according to senators and aides. His comments, said an attendee, were “long at the 30,000 foot, short on the specifics.” Though the session was classified, everything said was already public, the person said.

    “It’s a very serious situation. As I knew before I went there,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I knew all about it. I didn’t hear anything new because I have been heavily briefed.” […]

    The administration briefed House members afterward at the Capitol. No explicit explanation was given for why all 100 senators were hauled to the White House, though Trump’s appearance was likely part of the reason. […]

    Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a former GOP senator, also briefed senators.

    The White House said the meeting was intended to sound the alarm for senators about a situation that’s grown increasingly fraught in recent months. The meeting provided an opportunity “to communicate the seriousness of the threat from North Korea,” a senior administration official told reporters. […]

    Sounds like fear-mongering, with no additional details added to justify the mongering.

    The recent murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in Malaysia with a chemical agent, and the secretive state’s advancing nuclear capabilities, have combined to put the administration on alert, the official said.

    “We’re looking at a broad range of options obviously across all elements of national power and multi-national power in connection with North Korea,” the official said. “What you’ll see soon is using the economic dimension of national power, as well as the military preparations that are underway.” […]

    Politico link

  259. says

    tomh @422, yeah, right. I’m starting to think of that phrase as yet another “tell” that Trump is lying, and that he is engaged in a personal vendetta.

    “Many people” translates to, “Just me. I want that and I cannot give you a logical reason for what I want.”

  260. says

    The incompetent, bumbling Trump team issued a White House press release in which they referred to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as the “Secretary of Commerce.”

    Wilbur Ross is the Commerce secretary.

  261. says

    Holy shit – I just saw an ad for a “reality documentary” series premiering tomorrow on USA: “Inside the FBI: NY.” No fucking way. I don’t want to see the NY field office’s PR spin – I want to see its personnel investigated for their possible role in fixing the election.

  262. says

    Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement is intended to keep victims informed of suspects’ proceedings, but critics warn that such an office is misguided

    It’s sick. It’s a replica of what the Nazis did with “Jewish crimes.” It’s evil.

  263. says

    “Bribe Cases, a Secret Jared Kushner Partner and Potential Conflicts”:

    It was the summer of 2012, and Jared Kushner was headed downtown.

    His family’s real estate firm, the Kushner Companies, would spend about $190 million over the next few months on dozens of apartment buildings in tony Lower Manhattan neighborhoods including the East Village, the West Village and SoHo.

    For much of the roughly $50 million in down payments, Mr. Kushner turned to an undisclosed overseas partner. Public records and shell companies shield the investor’s identity. But, it turns out, the money came from a member of Israel’s Steinmetz family, which built a fortune as one of the world’s leading diamond traders.

    A Kushner Companies spokeswoman and several Steinmetz representatives say Raz Steinmetz, 53, was behind the deals. His uncle, and the family’s most prominent figure, is the billionaire Beny Steinmetz, who is under scrutiny by law enforcement authorities in four countries. In the United States, federal prosecutors are investigating whether representatives of his firm bribed government officials in Guinea to secure a multibillion dollar mining concession. In Israel, Mr. Steinmetz was detained in December and questioned in a bribery and money laundering investigation. In Switzerland and Guinea, prosecutors have conducted similar inquiries.

    The Steinmetz partnership with Mr. Kushner underscores the mystery behind his family’s multibillion-dollar business and its potential for conflicts with his role as perhaps the second-most powerful man in the White House, behind only his father-in-law, President Trump.

    Although Mr. Kushner resigned in January from his chief executive role at Kushner Companies, he remains the beneficiary of trusts that own the sprawling real estate business. The firm has taken part in roughly $7 billion in acquisitions over the last decade, many of them backed by foreign partners whose identities he will not reveal….

    Dealings with the Steinmetz family could create complications for Mr. Kushner. The Justice Department, led by Trump appointees, oversees the investigation into Beny Steinmetz. Even as Mr. Kushner’s company maintains extensive business ties to Israel, as a top White House adviser, he has been charged with leading American efforts to broker peace in the Middle East as part of his broad global portfolio….

  264. says

    “Justices Alarmed by Government’s Hard-Line Stance in Citizenship Case”:

    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. tried to test the limits of the government’s position at a Supreme Court argument on Wednesday by confessing to a criminal offense.

    “Some time ago, outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone,” the chief justice said, adding that he had not been caught.

    The form that people seeking American citizenship must complete, he added, asks whether the applicant had ever committed a criminal offense, however minor, even if there was no arrest.

    “If I answer that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, ‘Guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all’?” Chief Justice Roberts asked.

    Robert A. Parker, a Justice Department lawyer, said the offense had to be disclosed. Chief Justice Roberts seemed shocked. “Oh, come on,” he said….

  265. says

    “A former top NSA lawyer is joining the Senate’s Trump-Russia probe”:

    The former head of intelligence law at the National Security Agency (NSA), April Doss, has been hired to work on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, her law firm confirmed in a press release on Wednesday.

    Doss, who spent over a decade at the NSA and now chairs the Cybersecurity and Privacy practice at Saul Ewing, LLP, will serve as the committee’s special counsel as it examines ” allegations that Russia participated in a disinformation campaign intended to benefit President Donald Trump, and claims of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,” the firm said.

    Doss will join the committee on May 1.

    …A source close to Doss said that she was brought on by the committee’s Vice Chairman, Democratic Senator Mark Warner, and will be working full time on the committee’s Russia investigation….

  266. says

    Background to #438:

    Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 against accepting foreign payments as he entered retirement, according to new documents obtained by the House oversight committee.

    The inspector general of the Department of Defense also opened an investigation of Flynn earlier this month, according to an April 11 letter released by the oversight committee Thursday.

    “These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, in a statement. “Our next step is to get the documents we are seeking from the White House so we can complete our investigation. I thank the Department of Defense for providing us with unclassified versions of these documents.”…

    Cummings is doing a news briefing right now.

  267. says

    #438 should read “Department of Defense.” (I think it was wrong on the MSNBC chyron, too.)

    Chaffetz’ foot-screw emergency is making more sense by the minute.

  268. says

    Here are the three documents Cummings just released. Note that the October 2014 letter to Flynn from the DIA was not just a routine reminder upon retirement. It begins: “This letter responds to your request for a written opinion regarding the ethics restrictions that apply to you after your retirement from the United States Army.” Also, as Cummings noted, the requirement for advance approval of foreign compensation (#6) is both in bold and italicized.

  269. says

    Cummings: “The basic question that I’ve been struggling with, and as a lawyer…something that baffles me, is: Why in the world, if the president fired someone for lying, do you then seem to protect them? I don’t understand that. And I think that that leaves a big question mark [traces big question mark in the air] for all of us.”

  270. says

    On funding for the government, Republicans kicked the can down the road.

    House Republicans on Wednesday night introduced a stopgap funding measure to keep the government open through May 5 while lawmakers work on a final agreement for legislation to fund the government through September.

    The measure, introduced by House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), would keep the government open at current funding levels, according to a statement from Frelinghuysen’s office. […]

    Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) issued a statement supporting the passage of the one-week spending measure.

    “We’ve made substantial progress on an agreement to complete the 2017 appropriations process. Let’s pass this new continuing resolution, and make good use of this extra time to enact overdue legislation to provide for national defense and meet our country’s needs,” Cochran said in a statement Wednesday night. […]

    Link

    Just a reminder: Trump backed down on funding the border wall. Trump backed down on his thread to held Obamacare payments hostage. I don’t know what Republicans think will change between now and May 5.

  271. says

    Josh Marshall explained to Trump that he can’t “break up the 9th Circuit.”

    President Trump says he’s considering breaking up the 9th federal judicial circuit since it’s been the source of so many of his reversals. First of all, the President can’t do that. Congress has to do that.

    Secondly, Trump’s comments suggests that thinks that ‘breaking up’ the 9th circuit would somehow mean that all the judges on the West Coast would be fired and wouldn’t get in his way anymore. It wouldn’t. In fact, it has nothing to do with that at all.

    Breaking up the 9th district has always been a pet issue for some on the right. I doubt very much it will happen. But if it did, it would just mean creating a couple new districts. The same judges would still be there. Especially down at the trial level.

    Link

  272. says

    SC @445, some news commentators on MSNBC have suggested that the answer to Cummings’ question is that the White House is trying to cover up their own incompetence. Either team Trump did not vet Flynn, or they vetted him poorly.

    In other news a couple of people (including Justin Trudeau) called Trump and talked to him about NAFTA. The result? Trump backed down.

    From the White House readout of the call:

    President Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries. President Trump said,”‘it is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation. It is an honor to deal with both President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.”

    From Talking Points Memo:

    The statement from the White House followed two reports that Trump advisors had drafted an executive order to withdraw the United States from NAFTA. Politico reported that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, who leads the National Trade Council, drew up the draft order. Reuters confirmed that the White House was considering the order.

  273. says

    SC @445, some news commentators on MSNBC have suggested that the answer to Cummings’ question is that the White House is trying to cover up their own incompetence. Either team Trump did not vet Flynn, or they vetted him poorly.

    In this case, incompetence is far less plausible than something more nefarious. In fact, I would argue that given the timeline of events and what’s already known, incompetence isn’t at all plausible.

  274. says

    SC @449, about that rapid-fire tweet storm this morning, it has been noted that there were no major typos in the tweets. The tweet storm was still a storm of lies, but maybe an aide is now tweeting for Trump?

    Debunking one of the lies:

    But Trump’s most astonishingly dishonest claim was that “I want to help our miners while the Democrats are blocking their healthcare.”

    Reality: Democrats have been pushing for months to pass protections not just for miners’ health care but for their pensions.

    This is Trump’s play, though: If Democrats stand firm and don’t let Republicans screw working people every which way, then it’s Democrats’ fault if Republicans shut down the government and families can’t vacation at national parks.

    Link

  275. says

    Further to my #452 – Flynn’s lawyers contacted the transition about his being an unregistered foreign agent during the transition, and Cummings wrote directly to Pence, who was the head of the transition, about it in November. There has to be documentation related to those letters. Their denials of knowledge about his foreign dealings and his calls with Kislyak and their explanation for why he was ultimately pushed out make no sense at all given what we know. This investigation has already taken out Nunes and Chaffetz (and Nunes’ case shows clearly their efforts to sabotage it), but ultimately there’s no way they’re going to be able to stop it from moving forward. Yates will testify before at least one committee on the 8th, and subpoenas will happen. The Flynn story will come out.

  276. says

    SC @452, I agree. It made me wonder if team Trump was perhaps a source for the “incompetence” explanation, since that would be the least damning interpretation.

    I think Cummings was right when he told Rachel Maddow that subpoenas for paperwork would have to be sent to the White House. Team Trump is going to have to forced to do the right thing.

    Flynn, Nunes, Chaffetz, and who else will fall? Jared Kushner is looking ripe for a fall for different reasons (doing business with a foreign company known to have paid bribes).

    On the psychological side of things, Politico published an interesting article based on an interview that Trump granted to Politico reporters.

    The 70-year-old leader of the free world sat behind his desk in the Oval Office last Friday afternoon, doing what he’s done for years: selling himself. His 100th day in office was approaching, and Trump was eager to reshape the hardening narrative of a White House veering off course.

    […] One aide said the chat was off-the-record, but Trump insisted, over objections from nervous-looking staffers, that he be quoted.

    He addressed the idea that his senior aides weren’t getting along. He called out their names and, one by one, they walked in, each surprised to see reporters in the room—chief of staff Reince Priebus, then chief strategist Steve Bannon, and eventually senior adviser Jared Kushner. “The team gets along really, really well,” he said.

    He turned to his relationships with world leaders. “I have a terrific relationship with Xi,” he said, referring to the Chinese president, who Trump recently invited for a weekend visit at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

    Finally, he rattled off the biggest hits of his first three months and promised more to come.

    It was classic Trump: Confident, hyperbolic and insistent on asserting control. […]

    So far, Trump has led a White House gripped by paranoia and insecurity, paralyzed by internal jockeying for power.[…]

    Trump remains reliant as ever on his children and longtime friends for counsel. White House staff have learned to cater to the president’s image obsession by presenting decisions in terms of how they’ll play in the press. Among his first reads in the morning is still the New York Post. When Trump feels like playing golf, he does — at courses he owns. When Trump feels like eating out, he does — at hotels with his name on the outside.

    As president, Trump has repeatedly reminded his audiences, both public and private, about his longshot electoral victory. That unexpected win gave him and his closest advisers the false sense that governing would be as easy to master as running a successful campaign turned out to be. […]

    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has developed a ritual of sorts: Just before going onstage for his televised briefings, he usually walks down the hall to the Oval Office to ask Trump what he wants to hear on TV that day. […]

  277. says

    So many people on TV keep saying it would be in Trump’s best interest to release all of the materials related to Flynn and that it would help to put the matter behind him. It’s like they won’t even consider the possibility that it wouldn’t and that this is why he’s stonewalling and working hard to obstruct the investigations.

  278. says

    Another Trump-Russia connection:

    […] Recently released Federal Election Commission filings show that Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of the Venezuelan oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (known as PDVSA) gave Trump more money than Shell or Walmart. The donation is unusual for PDVSA: Citgo had not donated to previous presidential inaugural committees.

    Citgo’s donation to the Trump Inaugural Committee and the horrifying images emerging from Venezuela’s weeks of brutally repressed protests […] are connected: Russian money and influence is behind both of them. […]

    The Inaugural Committee donation came days after Citgo (a Delaware-incorporated company with operational headquarters in Houston) mortgaged 49.9 percent of its holdings to Rosneft, an oil company controlled by the Kremlin. […] If Venezuela defaults on its bond payments, Rosneft (i.e., Putin & Co.) could own several refineries, nine pipelines, and distribution terminals all across the Eastern U.S., from Texas to Maine, without any government oversight. […]

    The U.S. government is playing catch up. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere’s Chairman and Ranking Member have both called for an investigation and CFIUS review to find out “if Rosneft is already the owner of Citgo.” (CFIUS is the multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, made up of the secretary of the Treasury, secretary of Justice, secretary of Homeland Security, secretary of Commerce, secretary of Defense, secretary of State, secretary of Energy, the U.S. Trade Representative, and the head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.) The Citgo acquisition never underwent a CFIUS review: […]

    Shady Russian oil money may have even been behind the current mass demonstrations in Venezuela. On March 30, the Venezuelan Supreme Court decreed it would assume all National Assembly legislative functions, effectively dissolving it: a self-coup, called autogolpe in Spanish because it has happened before in Latin America. The Maduro regime wanted to sign oil deals the opposition-controlled National Assembly would not approve. What Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was after was more money from Rosneft.

    International condemnation of the coup was swift and broad, so the next day, the Supreme Court issued a statement that it had reversed its decision—but it quietly kept its power to sign oil deals. […]

    […] a kleptocracy estimated to have funneled hundreds of billions into personal foreign bank accounts and made Venezuela into the world’s biggest transit point for cocaine and a major funder of Hezbollah. […]

    Link

  279. blf says

    Here in France, the real führer of the le penazis tries to hide her extreme facisim with a transparent ruse of someone else — Jean-Françcois Jalkh — being the le penazi “leader”, who manages to step right in it, reminding everyone, yet again, how vile she and her le penazis really are. Le Pen’s replacement as FN leader [sic] ‘questioned existence of gas chambers’ (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly brcaes}):

    Jean-Françcois Jalkh, who is interim president of Front National, reportedly made comments in interview 17 years ago

    […]

    I believe we should be able to discuss this issue {of gas chambers}, Jean-François Jalkh […] reportedly told an academic in an interview in 2000.

    In comments unearthed by a journalist at La Croix newspaper and republished in Le Monde, Jalkh, an MEP, argued he was not a Holocaust denier but had spoken to a chemistry expert about Zyklon B, which was used in the extermination chambers.

    I consider that from a technical standpoint it is impossible — and I stress, impossible — to use it in mass exterminations. […]

    […]

    […] Florian Philippot, Le Pen’s closest adviser, dismissed the accusations as a campaign polemic, describing Jalkh as serious, moderate{…} a patriot and an honest man. David Rachline, Le Pen’s campaign manager, denounced a fake scandal […]

    Magali Boumaza, the academic who carried out the interview, told Le Monde she had contemporaneous notes and a tape recording of her interview with Jalkh, which had been done at FN’s former headquarters in Saint-Cloud, just outside Paris.

    She said the interview had lasted three hours and it was Jalkh who spontaneously raised the topic of the gas chambers. Her article had been published in an academic review in 2005 and had not been contested at the time, she said.

    […]

  280. says

    The American Medical Association opposes the latest zombie Trumpcare bill being proposed by Republicans.

    […] We are deeply concerned that the AHCA would result in millions of Americans losing their current health insurance coverage. Nothing in the MacArthur amendment remedies the shortcomings of the underlying bill. […]

    We are particularly concerned about allowing states to waive this requirement [ObamaCare’s community rating protection, which protects people with pre-existing conditions from being charged much higher premiums] because it will likely lead to patients losing their coverage.

    There is also no certainty that the requirement for states to have some kind of reinsurance or high-risk pool mechanism to help such individuals will be sufficient to provide for affordable health insurance or prevent discrimination against individuals with certain high-cost medical conditions.

    Link

    Yes, that sounds like a spot-on analysis. And, per SC’s link at 457, there will be no CBO score available before Paul Ryan and team Trump ask legislators to vote on Zombie Healthcare 3.0.

  281. says

    the horrifying images emerging from Venezuela’s weeks of brutally repressed protests

    Periodic reminder not to take anything you read in our press about Venezuela at face value (especially, but not only, when their main sources are the US government).

    […] a kleptocracy estimated to have funneled hundreds of billions into personal foreign bank accounts and made Venezuela into the world’s biggest transit point for cocaine and a major funder of Hezbollah. […]

    Good god. That article is a rightwing hit piece using the Trump-Russia scandal as a shoehorn.

    Likely to be most affected is neighboring Colombia, which the U.S. has spent more than $10 billion stabilizing under Plan Colombia, to keep it from being a failed state under the pincer pressures of drug trafficking and drug-funded terrorist insurgencies, of which the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is the biggest.

    !!!

    At every meeting I attend in Washington, D.C., on Venezuela, the Dutch are there; so are Shell and ExxonMobil. They are waiting for the Maduro regime to tip over and swoop in for the privatization of the world’s largest oil reserves for “the price of a skinny chicken,” as we say in Spanish. Halliburton maintains legal representation in Caracas and is poised to strike deals at just the right time, and Shell reckons the problem with Venezuelan oil is its management: It has calculated that it could turn a profit in 6.8 years, where it would take the current regime 200 years.

    Venezuelans would now welcome nearly anything that removes resources from this kleptocracy and brings economic development with rule of law and protection of private property. The opposition leaders (including my distant cousin Maria Corina Machado) are mostly U.S.-educated and from industrialist families. But when the time comes, political history may color local sentiment toward American business.

    This is at once refreshingly forthcoming and totally outrageous.

  282. says

    Do you know who insufficiently vetted Michael Flynn? Obama!

    At least that’s what Sean Spicer said today.

    […] His [Flynn’s] clearance was last reissued by the Obama administration in 2016 with full knowledge of his activities that occurred in 2015,” Spicer said during his daily briefing. “All of that clearance was made during the Obama administration.” […]

    “So is the implication there that should be taken, that if the Trump administration was the one adjudicating his clearance this year, he would not have been issued that clearance now that White House knows everything that there is about Gen. Flynn?” a reporter asked Spicer.

    “No, I think I’m just making sure people understand the process and how it works,” Spicer replied.

    “Not the process, but your own vetting, meaning the transition, are you satisfied that that met the standard that should have been met with Michael Flynn?” CBS’ Major Garrett asked.

    “You’re saying our process. The process is, every government employee who is eligible for a clearance goes through the same process,” Spicer said. “So it’s not — we don’t have a unique process.”

    “So General Flynn came in with just the Obama administration vetting? That’s the impression you’re giving,” CNN’s Jim Sciutto said. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

    “Sure it does,” Spicer said. “Hold on. Let me explain the answer to you, Jim. Calm down. The kids have gone,” he added, referring to journalists’ children who visited the White House for Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day. “Why would you re-run a background check on someone who is the head of the Department of the Defense Intelligence Agency that had and did maintain a high-level security clearance?”

    House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) on Wednesday also deflected blame for Flynn’s security clearance application to the Obama administration.

    “It was the Obama White House that this would have fallen under,” he said on MSNBC. “Certainly I wouldn’t fault the Trump administration.”

    Talking Points Memo link

  283. says

    Follow-up to comment 460.

    The American Hospital Association also opposes the latest version of Trumpcare:

    The amendment proposed this week would dramatically worsen the bill. The changes included put consumer protections at greater risk by allowing states to waive the essential health benefit standards, which could leave patients without access to critical health services and increase out-of-pocket spending. This could allow plans to set premium prices based on individual risk for some consumers, which could significantly raise costs for those with pre-existing conditions. […]

    As the backbone of America’s health safety-net, hospitals and health systems must protect access to care for those who need it and ensure that the most vulnerable patients are not left behind. The AHCA continues to fall far short of that goal.

  284. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    [Spicer/Pinocchio ]“Why would you re-run a background check on someone who is the head of the Department of the Defense Intelligence Agency that had and did maintain a high-level security clearance?”

    Ooookay. I hold a government position. I handle federal funds, but, other than that, I am in a non-sensitive position. Every five years I have my security clearance redone. Forty pages of paperwork (luckily on line now). Six months beginning to end (I keep getting extra investigation because neither of the colleges I attended exist any more (well, they exist, but with different names)). If I were to have a break in service of more than seven months, I would have to go through it all again.

    So, um, yeah, the security clearance would have to be re-initiated. Especially if he held any jobs that involved lobbying.

    Idiots.

  285. says

    Conservative non-thinking tank, The Heartland Institute, had a plan to bring climate denial into classrooms in the USA.

    […] The Heartland Institute, a fossil fuel-funded think tank known for promulgating climate science denial, is now seeking to influence the country’s educators. The think tank plans to mail its book “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” to 200,000 K-12 and college science teachers across the country. A cover letter accompanying the mailing asks educators to “consider the possibility that the science in fact is not ‘settled’” and argues that the 97 percent consensus among climate scientists “is not only false, but its presence in the debate is an insult to science.”

    In an April 27 op-ed published in The New York Times, paleoclimatologist Curt Stager pushed back against Heartland’s misinformation, writing that “multiple surveys of the scientific literature show that well over 90 percent of published climate scientists have concluded that recent global warming is both real and mostly the result of human activity.” Indeed, in the past decade, there have been numerous surveys by a number of different researchers that confirmed human-caused global warming, and the country’s leading scientific institutions confirm the reality and urge action to address it. […]

    Stager also points out the lack of scientific expertise behind Heartland’s book, noting that despite Heartland’s claim that the book’s authors are “highly regarded climate scientists,” none of them “have the publication record of an accomplished expert in the field, though they may be lauded by the conservative media.” Stager could have additionally pointed out that each of the book’s authors’ — Craig Idso, S. Fred Singer, and Robert M. Carter — have extensive fossil fuel ties. […]

    Link

  286. says

    Ogvorbis @466, not to mention the fact that Obama fired Flynn. He fired him.

    What would happen if you were fired, and were thereafter hired for a new government job that required a security clearance?

  287. says

    Populism represents a political struggle on behalf of regular people against elite economic forces.

    A lot of media sources still call Trump a “populist.” No, he is not.

    SC’s link in comment 465 leads to a document that tries, once again, to claim Trump is working for regular people. No, he is not.

  288. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    Lynna @468:

    What would happen if you were fired, and were thereafter hired for a new government job that required a security clearance?

    How the fuck did I miss that? I knew that. I did. And, well, I’ve heard that as one gets older, one’s memory is the second thing to go. Not sure what the first is supposed to be . . .

    (Pleaws note, I did close my blockquote this time)

  289. tomh says

    From the Great Communicator. After winning the election, when asked about Twitter, Trump said, “I’m going to be very restrained, if I use it at all,” Trump told CBS’ 60 Minutes in a November interview.

    In his first 97 days, Trump has averaged over 5 tweets per day, including weekends. That’s on his personal Twitter feed, and doesn’t include the 488 tweets on the verified POTUS twitter feed. And they don’t include his unhinged outburst this morning.

  290. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @SC:

    I’d respond to your #474, but I suddenly dropped dead of laughter.

  291. says

    More on the Flynn timeline:

    Here’s part of what Sean Spicer said:

    My only point is that when General Flynn came into the White House he had an active security clearance issued during the Obama administration with all of the information that’s being discussed that occurred in 2015.

    Sean, Spicey, Doofus, here is a fact to consider: Flynn was fired from his position as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, during the Obama administration.

  292. says

    Trump’s red button:

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump revealed the purpose of a “red button” on his desk, which apparently is used to summon a butler with a Coke for the president.