So that’s ok then

After initially not denying that he used the word ‘shithole’ at a meeting to describe Haiti, EL Salvador, and every single African nation, and even having his aide issue a statement that did not deny the use of the word, Donald Trump later started vigorously denying it, although Democratic senator Dick Durbin and Republican senators Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham confirmed his use of it. Trump accused Durbin of lying and was supported by two Republican senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue who said that he had never uttered the word.
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Watch what happens in New Jersey

Now that New Jersey will swear in a new Democratic governor Phil Murphy tomorrow to replace the widely reviled Chris Christie, the party controls all three branches of government, and Murphy reportedly has plans to take the state in a more progressive direction, and other states will be watching closely.

On Tuesday, when he is sworn in, New Jersey will become one of just eight states where Democrats run every branch of government. If Murphy has his way, New Jersey will become a proving ground for every liberal policy idea coming into fashion, from legalized marijuana to a $15 minimum wage, from a “millionaire’s tax” to a virtual bill of rights for undocumented immigrants.

Undergirding all of it: automatic voter registration, early voting and the right to register with a political party as late as Election Day.
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Sri Lanka backtracks on allowing women to buy alcohol

Last week I wrote about the Sri Lankan government declaring its intention to remove an unenforced old law that prohibited women from buying alcohol. But now the president, saying he had only heard about the move from newspapers, has ordered that the prohibition should not be lifted. It should not be a surprise that the Buddhist clergy, an utterly reactionary force in the country, has played a role in this.
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Who are the women who work in the Trump White House?

That Donald Trump is personally abusive towards women is beyond dispute. That is just another aspect of his charming personality, in addition to his racism. That the current White House has a toxic culture is also obvious. So in this climate, who are the women who work in close proximity to the president and what has been their experience? As far as I am aware, not having read the book, Michael Wolff’s book does not reflect much on gender issues in general, though he does talk about specific women.
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The history of racism in rock and roll

It is well known that rock and roll originated in the black community but was coopted by white musicians like Elvis Presley and British groups like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Stereo Williams writes about the history of racism in rock and roll and says that there are many myths about it. In particular, he starts by closely examining the charges of racism against Presley supposedly based on something that he said.
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Leading Democrats support and enable Trump’s warrantless domestic spying

Given that Donald Trump has deep authoritarian tendencies and sees the government as existing to serve his personal needs and attack his opponents, you would think that Democrats would seize every opportunity to limit his powers. But although they have been deeply critical of him, when it comes to the national security state, the Democratic leadership seems willing to extend to him the sweeping domestic spying powers that Congress gave president Obama.
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Matt Taibbi provides a Cliff Nortes version of Michael Wolff’s book …

… so that you don’t have to spend your time wading through it.

Before he delves into the details, he gives us the gist:

1) Trump has almost no ideological convictions and is motivated almost entirely by the classic narcissistic value equation, i.e. how much praise or scorn he gets on a second-to-second basis, from whom, and why. Had he not run as a Republican – and in particular won on a platform scripted by ap nationalist true believer like Bannon – he might very well by now have been pushed into a completely different kind of presidency. Trump wants so badly to be liked that, especially with the influence of Kushner and Ivanka, he might easily have allowed his White House to drift back toward his original politics, which (as New Yorkers and furious conservatives alike will clearly remember) was once squarely in the Bob Rubin rich-guy sort-of Democrat mold.
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