Politics

2 Former Christie Aides Sentenced to Jail time for Their Role in Bridgegate

by Adam Peck – One chapter closes, but the story is still unfolding almost four years later. Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, two former senior officials in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, were given 24 and 18 month jail sentences respectively for their roles in the 2013 Bridgegate saga. The shutdown of several lanes leading onto the George Washington Bridge, the most heavily trafficked bridge in the United States connecting Manhattan to northern New Jersey, was allegedly an act of political retribution against the city’s mayor Mark Sokolich for failing to endorse Christie’s reelection bid. Kelly was the author of an infamous email that triggered the closures. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote, just before the shutdown caused a week of chaos on the surface roads of Fort Lee. Baroni was appointed by Christie to serve as deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New...

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With House GOP Vote, Internet Privacy Is Officially Kaput

by Lauren McCauley – With Trump poised to sign into law, resolution will dismantle ‘years of privacy protection that people have had in this country’. Despite widespread popular outcry, House Republicans on Tuesday voted to strip citizens’ of their right to privacy online, selling out the American public to the deep-pocketed telecom industry. With 215 voting for and 205 against, 15 GOP representatives joined the Democrats in opposing the S.J. Res. 34, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) privacy provision. Six Republicans and three Democrats abstained. Roll call here. Open internet and privacy advocates immediately condemned the resolution, now poised to become law pending a likely signature President Donald Trump. Laying out the implications of the vote, Nathan White, senior legislative manager at Access Now, declared, “Congress today voted to sell off your privacy and your security online.” “Your internet service provider can see...

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MoveOn.org Files Complaint Against Rep. Nunes for Violation of the Espionage Act

by mlarson59 – Anna Galland, Executive Director of MoveOn.org, submitted a complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics on Tuesday, stating: THE UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION BY CHAIRMAN NUNES FOR WHAT APPEAR TO BE BLATANTLY POLITICAL PURPOSES IS NOT MERELY A POLICY MATTER OR A MATTER ABOUT THE CHAIRMAN’S IMPARTIALITY IN CONDUCTING THE BUSINESS OF HIS COMMITTEE. IT IS A MATTER THAT IMPLICATES THE INTEGRITY OF THE HOUSE AND ITS PROCEDURES AND ROLE IN THE PROPER HANDLING OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION THAT IS, OF COURSE, CRITICAL TO ENABLE THE HOUSE AND ITS COMMITTEES TO PERFORM THEIR LEGISLATING AND OVERSIGHT FUNCTIONS IN NATIONAL SECURITY. The essence of the complaint is the following sequence: THE EXISTENCE OF AN APPLICATION FOR FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE UNDER THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE ACT, 50 U.S.C. §§1801 ET SEQ.—WHAT CHAIRMAN NUNES REFERRED TO AS “WARRANTS”—IS, OF COURSE, CLASSIFIED, AND DISCLOSURE OF THE INFORMATION ITSELF CAN BE MADE ONLY...

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Trump Administration Decides Trump isn’t Violating His Government Lease. They’re Wrong

by Laurel Raymond – “It is harmful to the integrity — and thus credibility — of GSA, the Presidency, and federal procurement process.” Trump’s downtown DC hotel has emerged as one of the starkest symbols of his conflicts of interest, a literal landmark to Trump’s kleptocracy and a central property in Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause. And, shortly after the election, government ethics experts pointed out one even more basic way Trump’s ownership of the hotel poses a problem: he appears to be in clear violation of the terms of the lease itself. The Trump organization, which Trump still owns, leased the Old Post Office building from the government in 2012. Included in that lease is a standard provision against corruption that stipulates that no “elected official” can be part of the lease or reap any benefit from it. With his election, Trump became both the owner of the hotel and the highest elected...

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Makers of Fake Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Video Slapped With 15 Felony Charges

by April Hamlin – Two anti-abortion activists are facing 15 felony charges after they secretly filmed themselves trying to buy aborted fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. (In case you missed it, these attempts were unsuccessful because, duh. But that didn’t stop them from editing this video footage and then using it to claim that the women’s health provider was selling baby parts. They weren’t.) State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on Tuesday. The Associated Press reports: The allegations say the pair filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person. The 15th was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy. According to Becerra, Daleiden and Merritt created a fictitious biomedical research company, which they then lied about in order to convince representatives of Planned Parenthood to meet with them...

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Mexican Archdiocese: Companies That Help Build Trump’s Wall Are “Traitors”

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘The wall is a monument of intimidation and silence, of xenophobic hatred’. Denouncing President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall between Mexico and the United States as “an open threat that violates relations and peace,” the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City said Sunday that companies who profit from its construction are “traitors to the homeland.” The country’s largest archdiocese made the charge in an editorial (Spanish) published in its weekly newsletter, Desde la fe. A spokesman said the editorial represented the views of the diocese. “Joining a project that is a serious affront to dignity, is to shoot yourself in the foot,” the editorial declared. “The wall is a monument of intimidation and silence, of xenophobic hatred.” It continued: “Any company with the intention to invest in the wall of the fanatic Trump would be immoral, but above all, its shareholders and owners should be considered traitors...

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Trump’s Awkward Meeting with Angela Merkel just got More Cringeworthy

by Laurel Raymond – Trump reportedly handed the Chancellor an invoice for what he thinks Germany “owes” NATO and the U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel was always going to be awkward. Trump rode to office on a wave of nationalistic populism and has openly slammed NATO, one of the key alliances binding the U.S. and Germany, while Merkel has been a staunch defender of the global world order. During his campaign, Trump even levied Merkel’s name as an insult, sneering that his opponent Hillary Clinton wanted to be “America’s Angela Merkel.” Nonetheless, Trump took to Twitter the day after the chilly meeting to defend his “GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel” despite “FAKE NEWS” claiming otherwise, before reiterating his claim Germany owes NATO money for its defense — a claim that is profoundly ignorant of how NATO works. Now, the Times of London is reporting that Trump went a...

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13 More Editorials Calling for a Special Prosecutor

by RandomNonviolence – As of March 7, there had been 20 editorial calls for a special prosecutor. Here are 13 more editorials since then: The Fresno Bee: Russia-Trump probe is in chaos, and Rep. Devin Nunes is to blame By our yardstick, Rep. Devin Nunes had a terrible week fulfilling his duties as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In fact, the performance of the Tulare Republican was so inept and bewildering that a fellow Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday that a bipartisan special select committee should investigate Russia’s meddling into the 2016 presidential campaign. … … Bring on the bipartisan special select committee – as was done with Benghazi – and a special prosecutor. Merced (CA) Sun-Star: Schiff rises, Nunes falters in Russia probe … It’s more proof that to get to the bottom of possible links between Trump associates and...

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Contrary to Spin, Trump Slashing Energy Jobs With New Executive Order

by Nika Knight – “These facts make it clear that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.” As the Trump administration brags that Tuesday’s executive order to dismantle Obama-era climate regulations will create coal industry jobs, new employment data from the Department of Energy (DoE) demonstrates how misguided that claim is. Clean energy employs many more Americans than the fossil fuel industry, and economic forecasts show that the trend will continue, according to a Sierra Club analysis published Monday of the DoE’s 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (pdf) released earlier this year. “Clean energy jobs, including those from solar, wind, energy efficiency, smart grid technology, and battery storage, vastly outnumber all fossil fuel jobs nationwide from the coal, oil and gas sectors. That includes jobs in power generation, mining, and other forms of fossil fuel extraction,” the Sierra Club...

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Complications of the Border Wall Project Increasingly Apparent

by Abstract668 – As the deadline for initial concept papers for Trump’s wall approaches (Wednesday, March 29, 4 pm without specifying the time zone),  we are finally starting to read about some of the problems that will be encountered if an actual contractor tries to build an actual wall. The Washington Post today listed three obstacles to the wall project: money, geography, and legal challenges. You can read the full story by Alicia Caldwell here. To those of us familiar with federal contracting procedures and federally-funded construction projects, the Post story just scratches the surface of the barriers facing this pipe-dream. Money. As Caldwell points out, Trump promised that Mexico will pay for the wall. We all know that was a five-Pinocchio lie. Let’s assume that Trump himself is not going to pay for it (he doesn’t even pay the carpet companies who outfit his hotels!) In order for federal funds...

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Kansas Lawmakers Just Dared Sam Brownback to Veto Medicaid Expansion

by Alan Pyke – Bill heads to right-wing governor’s desk with wide bipartisan majorities — but not veto-proof ones. A bill to expand Medicaid eligibility under Obamacare passed the Kansas Senate on Tuesday morning, setting up a showdown with arch-conservative Gov. Sam Brownback (R). Brownback is philosophically opposed to the expansion, which in-state analysts estimate would cover 150,000 currently uninsured people. But with the state’s budget in disastrous shape because of his “real, live experiment” with right-wing tax policy over the past several years, Republican allies have already begun to break stride with the governor. Brownback has 10 days to decide what to do. His administration this week reiterated opposition to expanding the state’s Medicaid program, known as KanCare. But the governor himself has stayed mu, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas head David Jordan told ThinkProgress. “His staff put out oppositional statements yesterday, but he wouldn’t answer the question himself as to what...

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Donald Trump Plans to Make Jared Kushner America’s Unelected, Unapproved, Uncontrolled CEO

by Mark Sumner – If you’ve been waiting for the moment when Donald Trump hands over power … good news! But Trump isn’t officially placing his magic marker scrawl on a resignation. It’s just that, after two whole weeks of trying to get a health care bill passed, he’s tired of all this talking to people and trying to make compromises. So it’s time to shake up America. President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises — such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction — by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions. Because, as the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, sell it off. The fact that government is not anything at all like business, has never bothered Republicans. So it’s not unexpected...

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Michael Flynn Discussed Illegal Kidnapping of Exiled Turkish Dissident

by Alan Pyke – Flynn was one of Trump’s key advisers when he talked about “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” President Donald Trump’s messy pile of international relations scandals and conflicts of interest gained a salacious new development straight out of a novel on Friday. Former Trump national security aide Michael Flynn discussed the hypothetical kidnapping of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen from his Pennsylvania home with senior Turkish government officials in September, the Wall Street Journal reports. Word of the conversation comes from former CIA head James Woolsey, who told the Journal he was alarmed by the brainstorming around “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away,” an operation which would violate U.S. law. Flynn, through a spokesman, denied ever discussing such a plan. The conversation was “open-ended thinking on the subject” rather than a detailed tactical discussion...

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Why Spend $54 Billion More on the Pentagon? To Start a War, Obviously

by JOHN FEFFER – The president wants to put the U.S. on a permanent war footing to sustain his unpopular presidency. So, let me see if I’ve got this right. North Korea has been pushing its ally China to rein in the United States. Pyongyang is worried that Washington is about to launch a preemptive attack, so it has tried to use whatever minimal amount of influence it has to persuade China to use its considerable economic leverage with the United States to get those knuckleheads inside the Beltway to listen to reason. Or maybe I misheard the report on the radio. How about this: As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to stop reckless U.S. military interventions overseas, like the one he so disliked (after it failed) in Iraq. So, as president, he is withdrawing all troops from Syria, reducing U.S. military presence in Asia, and pulling the United States...

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DOJ to Crack Down on Sanctuary Cities by Denying and Clawing Back Federal Grants

by Zack Ford – At Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer turned the podium over to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced a plan to cut Office of Justice Programs grants to sanctuary cities — those that choose not to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal officials for deportation. “Today I’m urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws, including 8 U.S. Code § 1373,” Sessions explained. That law states that no government entity can restrict sharing information with the Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding individuals’ citizenship or immigration status. “Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards.” Not complying with 1373, Sessions warned, could “result in withholding grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants.” He added that the Department of Justice...

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Nunes Went to White House Grounds the Night Before Bizarre Disclosure, Met with Source

by Josh Israel – Did the Intelligence chairman get his secret information from the Trump White House? Trump was seemingly out of options. At a public hearing last Monday, Trump’s claim that President Obama had “tapped” Trump Tower was definitively debunked. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy! 7:02 AM – 4 Mar 2017 Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) emerged a couple of days later with a bizarre announcement that he “recently confirmed that on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition.” Nunes has been under fire for his press conference and his decision to brief President Trump before even discussing the matter with his own committee. Trump and his administration crowed that the announcement vindicated his widely debunked claims that President Obama had...

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The Real Reason Why Obamacare Now Has a 54% Approval Rating

by smirking – CNN had an eye opening story yesterday that’s been flying under the radar and really deserves to be given a lot more attention. In his article The cruel double standard that may have saved Obamacare, John Blake explores a very simple rationale for why Obamacare is suddenly gaining in popularity. The face of Obamacare is now white.  More Americans now realize Obamacare helps millions of working class whites and that it’s not — as once portrayed by conservatives — a form of welfare pushed by the first black president to help people of color, historians and scholars say. The media landscape is filled with images of the furrowed brows of anxious white residents at congressional town halls who fear they will suffer if they lose Obamacare, says Judy Lubin, a sociologist and adjunct professor at Howard University in Washington. This makes sense to me. This makes more sense to me than...

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Jared Kushner Met with Head of State-Controlled Russian Bank Linked to Espionage

by Aaron Rupar – He didn’t disclose the meeting, even to other White House staff. Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Trump and his son-in-law, will be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee about his pre-inauguration contact with Russian officials. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that Kushner and Michael Flynn — who was ousted from his role as Trump’s national security adviser after it was revealed he had misled Vice President Pence about his pre-inauguration communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak — met with Kislyak in December. But the Times now reports that in addition to that meeting, Kushner had a previously undisclosed meeting with the head of a Russian bank that was hit with sanctions by the Obama administration. The meeting between Kushner and Vnesheconombank chief Sergey Gorkov occurred at Kislyak’s behest, according to the White House. At the time of his meeting with the Russian banker, “Kushner had not yet stepped...

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Alex Jones Apologizes for Promoting ‘Pizzagate’ Conspiracy

by Aaron Rupar – Fake news has consequences. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has apologized to a Washington, D.C., restaurant owner for disseminating a conspiracy theory that motivated one of his fans to open fire inside the Comet Ping Pong pizza joint. In a video published on Friday, the man the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “certainly the most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America” addresses Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis and says, “In our commentary about what had become known as Pizzagate, I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him.” Jones — who believes that the September 11 attacks, Oklahoma City bombing, Sandy Hook school shooting, and Boston Marathon bombings were all inside jobs — acknowledges there’s no evidence supporting the notion that Comet Ping Pong is or ever was at the center of a pedophilia ring involving some of Hillary Clinton’s closest...

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Trump Appears to Make Bizarre, Backhanded Call for Paul Ryan to Step Down

by Ian Millhiser – The president seems to want Fox News to do his dirty work. The President of the United States briefly took on a non-traditional role as publicist for a Fox News show Saturday night. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M. 10:41 AM – 25 Mar 2017 Host Jeanine Pirro had barely begun her show before Trump’s tweet took on new significance. “Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the house,” she proclaimed at the very beginning of her “opening statement” segment at the top of the show. “The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his healthcare bill.” Jeanine Pirro  ✔@JudgeJeanine “Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the house.The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his healthcare bill.” #openingstatement 9:21 PM – 25 Mar 2017 What followed was a 6 minute rant against the embattled...

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Trump has Telegraphed What is Next

by acadia – We all knew what Trump’s Plan B was if the healthcare bill failed, even if he said there was no Plan B. I made this comment 12 days ago in one of the many posts on the healthcare bill: If this bill fails, that is definitely where Trump wants to head — restart the lawsuit, and claim Obamacare is imploding, all the Democrats’ fault. I bet if I searched comments I could find hundreds of you who said the same thing. If the bill failed Trump was going to blame Democrats and try to help Obamacare “implode.” We even knew the exact language he would use. How did we know this? Trump told us  . . . repeatedly. We don’t need all the insider accounts now when he was saying this at rallies and to anyone who would listen.  At the same time, he said a few other...

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‘We’re Just Getting Started’: Trumpcare Slain, Resistance Eyes Next Battles

by Jon Queally – Spectacular failure of Republicans to pass Trumpcare is time to ‘double-down’ on resistance, not gloat. While President Donald Trump on Saturday used a single tweet to tell the American people both “Do not worry!” and “Obamacare will explode,” the Trump resistance movement was being urged not to gloat over Friday’s “epic failure” of the Republicans’ attempt to pass their ‘slash and burn’ healthcare law but instead focus on organizing for the crucial battles ahead. Acknowledging their defeat on healthcare (while fecklessly trying to blame Democrats), Trump and his team on Friday said they would now place their focus on passing a controversial budget package and moving ahead with a major tax reform plan. And with the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch still unattained, the president’s opponents—both in Congress and in the streets—were balancing their elation over Friday’s healthcare outcome with acknowledgement that much hard work...

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Is Boris Epshteyn a Russian Agent?

by GregLwood – Boris Epshteyn, an official in the White House press office…is leaving his job, according to three people with knowledge of the move. The departure was treated with some mystery. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would not comment on the reason… (New York Times 3/25/17) Is Epshteyn’s departure directly linked to Trump’s exploding Russia scandal? Consider the following. Russia’s Federal Security Service (the FSB) often recruits Western businessmen by obtaining compromising material (“kompromat”) during tours and junkets to Russia.  Russian intelligence has used this iconic recruitment technique for over fifty years. Epshteyn worked with the Russian government in 2013 to promote investment in Russia to the American business community.  His actions fit tightly with the FSB model described above. The Russia-born investment banker and attorney moderated a panel at an October 2013 conference in New York City called “Invest in Moscow!” The panel was mainly comprised of...

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Steve Bannon is Cleaning House. He Posted a “Shit List” in WH War Room and Paul Ryan is Toast

by ursulafaw – The GOP has a united Republican government — and they still can’t govern. That is the takeaway from yesterday’s stunning loss, where Republicans decided to withdraw their repeal bill rather than face the humiliation of public defeat on live television.  Whose political career is going to the guillotine for this debacle? Who has Steve Bannon declared would be gone by Spring? If you said Paul Ryan, you’re right. The implosion of Paul Ryan’s career has been building for quite some time. The Speaker of the House is a con artist and his attempt to foist “ObamaCare 0.5” i.e. a half baked version of the original, off on the public as a new and improved product, failed spectacularly and a price will be paid. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been following Paul Ryan for a number of years and Krugman just put another nail in Paul Ryan’s...

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“A loser president.” Dan Rather Hits Him Where it Hurts

by Sidof79 – Dan Rather has logged another entry into his brilliant and composed, yet scathing criticism of our so-called President.  I’ll get right to it. Loser. That’s a word that Donald Trump fears being called more than any other. It is a word that he has wielded with relish against his enemies. But if the health care bill goes down in defeat, and at this point that is still a big if, Mr. Trump will be seen as a loser, and so will his new cheerleader Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. A loser president. It’s a moniker that every president dreads, but especially President Trump. It strikes at the very essence of his being. It is why he rails away at conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Once you are seen as a loser in Washington your enemies are emboldened and your allies become skittish. Power can evaporate faster than dew...

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Dear Mom: About Your 50 Year Nursing Career & Medicaid… This Woman’s Letter Pummels the GOP

by Leslie Salzillo – I didn’t write this. I wish I did. The way this woman levels Republicans is stunning. The author is Betsy Anderson and it’s a letter addressed to her mother with a blind copy to the GOP and all Americans. Ms. Anderson cuts straight to core and heartlessness of the GOP and it should be required reading in Congress and in all forms of the media. It’s also a perfect example of how well social media can work — when it works. Betsy Anderson took to Facebook and spoke out on March 16, 2017. Susan, a friend of mine posted Besty’s post in a group where another friend of mine, John, from VoteVets.org saw it. He posted it into another Facebook group where I first saw it. (And if you followed all that…) now I get to post it on Daily Kos where it stands a good chance of being read by the multitudes. For Betsy’s sake, the...

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Two Months In, Trump Breaking Every Vow to ‘Drain the Swamp’: Report

by Nadia Prupis – President ‘has shown himself to be everything that on the campaign trail he expressed to hate about Washington—a self-dealer more interested in helping his friends and big donors than creating a democracy’ Surprising no one, a new report out Wednesday finds that President Donald Trump has broken his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” at every turn, and has instead turned the government over to corporate interests and enriched his bottom line. The joint report from advocacy groups Public Citizen and Every Voice analyzes the two months since Trump took office and concludes that the new administration is mired in corruption and conflicts, while the president himself has hired the very figures he claimed he would fight—big-money donors, lobbyists, and Wall Street executives. In fact, the administration has failed to live up to even its own “painfully inadequate” ethics standards, the groups said. That includes refusing to...

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‘Follow the Facts’: Top Dem Demands Independent Trump-Russia Commission (VIDEO)

by Jon Queally – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, says credibility must be restored. Matching a growing popular demand, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee on Saturday urged Congress to create an independent commission to investigate the possible role that members of President Donald Trump’s campaign or transition teams may have had with alleged Russian interference in last year’s presidential election. In a video message released on Twitter, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) informed his colleagues why he believes new revelations—coupled with the recent troubling behavior of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee—make a nonpartisan, independent commission necessary. Watch: The American people demand – and deserve – the truth. Congress must create an independent commission to #FollowTheFacts on Russia. pic.twitter.com/aa3SmJ7pRI — Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 25, 2017 Though serious questions remain regarding the depth and veracity of the government’s...

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Gibberish Is the White House’s New Normal

by TODD GITLIN – The bad art of the non sequitur. Once upon a time, there were presidents for whom English seemed their native language. Barack Obama most recently. He deliberated. At a press conference or in an interview — just about whenever he wasn’t speaking from a text — his pauses were as common as other people’s “uh’s.” He was not pausing because his vocabulary was impoverished. He was pausing to put words into sequence. He was putting phrases together with care, word by word, trying out words before uttering them, checking to feel out what they would sound like once uttered. It was important to him to words in order because he did not want to be misunderstood. That president valued precision, in no small part because he knew he lived in a world where every last presidential word was a speech act, a declaration with consequence, so that...

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Abruptly Cancels Open Hearing on Russia

by Judd Legum – Key Democrat calls it an effort to “choke off public info.” Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has abruptly canceled a public hearing scheduled for next Tuesday with former DNI director James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. The hearing is part of the committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, including whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives. The ranking member of the Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), characterized Nunes’ decision as an effort to choke off public information about the inquiry. Adam Schiff ✔@RepAdamSchiff BREAKING: Chairman just cancelled open Intelligence Committee hearing with Clapper, Brennan and Yates in attempt to choke off public info. 11:16 AM – 24 Mar 2017 Tuesday’s hearing was a continuation of a hearing on Monday which featured FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike...

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Trump Reacts to Failure: We Were so Close, it’s all the Democrats’ Fault, and Obamacare is Exploding

by Joan McCarter – You might have expected popular vote loser Donald Trump to have a temper tantrum after the failure of Trumpcare, but he seemed pretty calm—albeit seriously deluded—during a brief press conference from the Oval Office. He led off with the most ludicrous of lies: “We were very close.” They weren’t very close. They were at least 30 (and as much as 50) votes away. “Very close.” Who’s fault was this? “We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren’t going to give us a single vote, it’s a difficult thing to do.” So it’s the Democrats’ fault that the bill failed. What’s going to happen now? “I’ve been saying for the last year-and-a-half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode, it is exploding right now.” I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own Obamacare. They own...

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Memo to FBI: If Team Trump and Putin Colluded, any Money Trail Likely Involves Oil

by Joe Romm – Russia sold off one-fifth of its state-owned oil giant in December, but we still don’t know who bought it all. As the FBI investigates possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, one aspect merits closer examination: the $11 billion post-election sale of 19.5 percent of the Kremlin-controlled oil giant Rosneft. If there was an actual quid pro quo between Trump officials and the Russian government, it may well involve that sale for two reasons. First, prior to the election, “most industry watchers had written off the chances of a foreign investor being found for Rosneft,” as Fortune explained at the time. But electing someone who had vowed to improve relations with Russia appears to have changed the economic landscape. Second, as Reuters has detailed, Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to sell off this “oil jewel without saying who bought it.” In this post, I’ll attempt to connect...

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Leading Opponent of LGBT Civil Rights to Lead Civil Rights Office

by Ian Millhiser – Earlier this week, according to a statement by several progressive groups*, President Donald Trump appointed Roger Severino, a leading anti-LGBT activist, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights. In doing so, Trump potentially gives Severino an opportunity to dismantle civil rights protections he criticized as a staffer at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Although Severino apparently was appointed without a formal announcement, his bio page at Heritage now states that he “is no longer a staff member at The Heritage Foundation.” In 2016, for example, Severino co-authored a Heritage report criticizing proposed Obama administration rules preventing discrimination against transgender patients within the health care system. Protecting trans people against such discrimination, Severino warned, would “penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to...

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Growing a Spine? Schumer Sets Stage for Gorsuch Filibuster (VIDEO)

by Nika Knight – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced opposition to right-wing Supreme Court nominee, setting stage for filibuster showdown. After weeks of outcry and public calls for Senate Democrats to “grow a spine” and filibuster President Donald Trump’s right-wing Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Democrats finally appear to be listening. On Thursday, after three days of Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that he could not support Gorsuch’s nomination and indicated that he would join a filibuster against the nominee. “He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation,” Schumer said. “My vote will be no.” “His career and judicial record suggest not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology,” Schumer said: Democrats have complained throughout Gorsuch’s testimony that the conservative judge has been eliding questions and refusing to explain his judicial philosophy in concrete terms. When pressed...

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‘There’s a Smell of Treason in the Air’

by MICHAEL WINSHIP – FBI and NSA chiefs verify a Russia probe and refute the president’s claims as Republicans scramble to pretend the “drip, drip, drip” hasn’t started. Monday’s hearing of the House Intelligence Committee was proof positive of the absolute need for both a special prosecutor and an independent, bipartisan commission with subpoena power to conduct a full investigation of the Trump campaign’s connections with Russian intelligence — as well as Russia’s multipronged attack on our elections and Trump’s business connections with that country’s oligarchs. And it’s proof more than ever that even if we get that prosecutor and inquiry, a free and independent press may be the only real way to ever get to the bottom of what ranking committee member Adam Schiff said may represent “one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history.” Just as FBI Director James Comey officially revealed for the very first...

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US Ditches Human Rights Hearing in ‘Unprecedented Show of Disrespect’

by Nadia Prupis – ACLU had planned to drill officials on immigration, DAPL, and Muslim ban, but representatives from various departments never showed. The U.S. failed to show up to a human rights hearing in an “unprecedented show of disrespect to the international community,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Tuesday. In a surprise move, the government ditched a hearing with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an arm of the Organization of American States, where the ACLU had planned to drill officials on the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration; its ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries; and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), among other issues. The civil rights group had filed an emergency request for the meeting in February, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. That order, as well as its follow-up mandate, issued last month, have since...

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Trump’s America: Two Coal Plants Announce Closures in Ohio, Layoffs at Carrier Factories in Indiana

by Jen Hayden – Remember when Donald Trump appeared in Indiana to announce he’d saved 1,100 jobs at that Carrier and United Technologies were planning to send to Mexico? A refresher from early December: “But I will tell you that United Technologies and Carrier stepped it up and now they’re keeping — actually the number’s over 1,100 people, which is so great, which is so great …. I just noticed — I wrote down because I heard it — since about six years ago, 260 new federal regulations have passed, 53 of which affect this plant. Fifty-three new regulations. Massively expensive and probably none of them amount to anything in terms of safety or the things that you’d have regulations for.” His fans cheered and chanted, hailing their king of bankruptcy for saving all those jobs. Except, as the Washington Post later mentioned, those numbers were—the jobs and the regulations— false. This week significant...

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Trump Defends Three of His Biggest Lies in New Time Magazine Interview

by Aaron Rupar – “I have articles saying it happened.” In a new Time magazine cover interview, President Trump defends three of the most notorious lies he’s told since beginning his presidential campaign in June 2015. Trump repeated his false claims that American Muslims celebrated on 9/11, that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election, and that President Obama wiretapped him last fall. The interview, which was conducted on Wednesday by Time Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer, focuses on how Trump “has handled truth and falsehood in his career.” But the vast majority of the piece consists of Trump trying to defend blatant falsehoods by offering new ones. Throughout the interview, Trump’s defense when confronted with one of his lies is to shift blame to the media. Brian Stelter ✔@brianstelter “I have articles saying it happened.” http://ti.me/2mXMSvI  8:41 AM – 23 Mar 2017 At one point, Scherer...

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UK Police: Eight Arrests Over Westminster Attack

Prime minister says suspect was born in Britain, as police arrest eight in probe into deadly attack near UK parliament. The suspect of a deadly attack outside the UK parliament in London was British-born, Prime Minister Theresa May has said, as police arrested eight people after several overnight raids across the country. In a statement to the House of Commons on Thursday, May said the attacker was once investigated by intelligence officers over concerns of “violent extremism”. “He was a peripheral figure,” she said. “The case is historic, he was not part of the current intelligence picture.” Earlier on Thursday, police said eight people had been arrested after raids on six homes in London, Birmingham and other parts of the country in their probe into the attack, in which a man ploughed into pedestrians in a car and then went on a stabbing spree before being shot dead. Mark Rowley, acting deputy...

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Why Jeff Sessions is Threatening to Crack Down on Marijuana

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a gathering of law enforcement officials in Richmond, Virginia last week that legalizing marijuana would not make the United States “a better place,” and he is “astonished” by the suggestion that cannabis could be used to combat the nation’s “heroin crisis.” Two days later, New Mexico — which has suffered from by high rates of opiate-related deaths for years — moved to do just that. On Friday, New Mexico’s legislature approved a bill that would make patients diagnosed with opiate disorders eligible for the state’s medical marijuana program. The idea already has the blessing of the state’s Medical Advisory Board, and if approved by the governor, New Mexico would become the first state to specifically to put opiate disorders on its list of conditions that can be treated with cannabis products. A growing field of research suggests...

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The Secret Service has Requested an Extra $60 Million for Trump Family Travel and Protection

by Jen Hayden – No money for Meals on Wheels, no money for health care, endless money for the lifestyles of the rich and infamous: The U.S. Secret Service requested $60 million in additional funding for the next year, offering the most precise estimate yet of the escalating costs for travel and protection resulting from the unusually complicated lifestyle of the Trump family, according to internal agency documents reviewed by The Washington Post. Nearly half of the additional money, $26.8 million, would pay to protect President Trump’s family and private home in New York’s Trump Tower, the documents show, while $33 million would be spent on travel costs incurred by “the president, vice president and other visiting heads of state.” Additional funding was already rejected once in the short time Trump has been in office: A person familiar with internal Secret Service budget discussions said the requests for additional funding, prepared in...

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Climate Kids Demand Feds Turn Over ‘Wayne Tracker’ (aka Rex Tillerson) Emails

by Andrea Germanos – “When looking for evidence of a cover-up, emails from Rex Tillerson’s pseudonym about climate change are just the kind of evidence the court needs to see.” Lawyers representing youth in a landmark climate lawsuit are demanding to see the emails Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent using the alias “Wayne Tracker” while serving as CEO of ExxonMobil. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office made the claim of the email alias last week in a court filing as part of its investigation into the oil giant’s climate cover-up. The filing said Tillerson used the “Tracker” account to discuss climate change and other matters from at least 2008-2015. In the youths’ case, as Common Dreams wrote, the 21 “co-plaintiffs argue that by failing to act on climate change, the U.S. government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights and their rights to vital public trust resources.” Their legal...

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‘Beyond Irregular’: GOP Intel Chair, Devin Nunes, Under Fire for Bizarre Trump Briefing

by Jon Queally – Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excoriated by colleagues and intelligence experts for skirting protocols and taking newly obtained information straight to Trump. The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday said the “beyond irregular” behavior of the committee’s Republican chairman has “underscored the imperative of an independent investigation” into Russian interference in last year’s election—comments that capped off a series of explosive Capitol Hill developments surrounding a controversy that refuses to die. “The chairman needs to think about which role he wants to play here. Is he going to play a role as surrogate for the administration or is he going to play a role of leading an independent investigation? He can’t do both.” —Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, came under fire later by congressional colleagues after he went outside normal protocols by...

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Roger Stone’s Russian Alibi Falls Apart

by Laurel Raymond – Stone keeps referencing ‘independent’ information he had on Podesta — but the article he says proves it is based on Wikileaks. Trump ally Roger Stone is one of the more colorful characters in the President’s arsenal. He wore a top hat and morning coat to Trump’s inauguration. He has a Nixon tattoo between his shoulder blades. He’s a weekly guest host on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio show. And now, he’s under FBI scrutiny for possibly colluding with the Russian election hacking to help boost President Donald Trump’s campaign — a charge he vehemently denies. The allegations stem from a series of actions of Stone’s, but chiefly rest on a prediction Stone made in August that it would “soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Roger Stone @RogerJStoneJr Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary 10:24 AM – 21 Aug 2016 A little over a month...

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How Slashing the NEA Would Damage the US Economy

by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez and Charlotte Channing, Truthout | Op-Ed – Despite the National Endowment for the Arts’ vital role in the US economy, in February, Trump announced that his proposed 2018 budget would eliminate the agency. While the NEA has been on the target list for the right wing for ages, with so much else at stake, it’s hard to imagine that the left wing will take this on as a priority in its resistance efforts. The final budget proposal is promised to be out within weeks, which leads us to ask, what would life be like without the NEA? Fifty years ago, Congress voted to authorize the National Endowment for the Arts based, in part, on a notion that a great US followed from an enlightened and unfettered citizenry. The authorizing legislation observed that: “Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster … access to the...

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A White House Without Rules

by ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY – The Trump administration’s most troubling conflicts involve the president’s closest advisers, employees the White House argues operate entirely outside the ethics laws. So many ethics complaints have now been lodged against the Trump administration that it’s getting hard to keep track. The billionaires running Cabinet agencies, the White House advisers accused of self-dealing, and the president’s own failure to divest from his increasingly lucrative business holdings have all drawn so much notice that Americans may be tempted to tune out. But the story of Trump administration ethics conflicts is not going away, and every new revelation sheds disturbing light on a White House culture that celebrates self-enrichment, and that treats the president’s inner circle as literally exempt from the rules that lay out a precise code of conduct for executive branch officials. The White House’s freewheeling attitude toward presidential advisers, in particular, poses special dangers and...

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North Korea ‘Fails’ in New Missile Test: South

South Korean and US officials say they have detected a failed missile launch attempt by North Korea. A new North Korean missile test appeared to have ended in failure, according to South Korean and US officials. The reported failed launch on Wednesday came during large-scale annual military drills involving US and South Korean forces that the North has called a rehearsal for an invasion. Seoul’s defence ministry said in a statement that Pyongyang fired one missile from an air base in the eastern port of Wonsan but the launch was believed to had failed. “We are in the process of analysing what type of missile it was,” it added. The statement came after Japan’s Kyodo news service, citing an unidentified government source, said the North might have launched several missiles and that they were a failure. A US military spokesman also said they had detected a failed North Korean missile launch attempt, with...

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ICE Agency is Publicly Calling out Counties that don’t Detain Immigrants for Deportation

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – It’s a ‘name and shame’ game. The Trump administration is beginning to fulfill its promise to name and shame so-called “sanctuary cities” where local law enforcement officials arrest immigrants and do not turn them over to the federal immigration agency for potential deportation proceedings. The Department of Homeland Security publicly released its first-ever weekly report showing that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency issued a total of 3,083 detainer requests between January 28 and February 3 to detain arrested immigrants for deportation proceedings. The report included a list of all the counties and jurisdictions that had declined a total of 206 federal detainer requests. ICE criticized the lack of cooperation as an assault to public safety. “When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,”...

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FBI Investigating Breitbart and InfoWars for Possible Russian Collusion

by ericlewis0 – From McClatchy, via Raw Story: WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say. Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as “bots,” to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said. The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who...

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Poll Shows America Really Does Not Like You, Donald Trump

by Nika Knight – After release of “cruel” budget, TrumpCare, and unsubstantiated wiretapping claims, president’s approval rating drops to lowest yet. Gallup has released the latest numbers from its tracking poll of President Donald Trump’s approval ratings, and things (again) don’t look good for the president. Only 37 percent of respondents approve of Trump, an historic low for the poll. A whopping 58 percent disapprove of his actions in office so far. Image via Gallup Poll Last month, Trump’s approval rating in the Gallup poll was 42 percent—which was also a record low for the poll at the time. The plummeting approval ratings come as Trump faces a firestorm of criticism on multiple fronts. Many Americans, including Trump voters, are reacting with dismay to his “morally obscene” budget that seeks to slash funding to a myriad of public agencies—from Meals on Wheels to PBS—while boosting the military’s budget by $60 billion;...

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An Orgy of Unnecessary Cruelty

by Robert Reich – The theme that unites all of Trump’s initiatives so far is their unnecessary cruelty. 1. His new budget comes down especially hard on the poor – imposing unprecedented cuts in low-income housing, job training, food assistance, legal services, help to distressed rural communities, nutrition for new mothers and their infants, funds to keep poor families warm, even “meals on wheels.” These cuts come at a time when more American families are in poverty than ever before, including 1 in 5 children. Why is Trump doing this? To pay for the biggest hike in military spending since the 1980s. Yet the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 7 biggest military budgets put together. 2. His plan to repeal and “replace” the Affordable Care Act will cause 14 million Americans to lose their health insurance next year, and 24 million by 2026. Why is Trump doing...

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Rex Tillerson to Skip NATO Meeting, Visit Russia Instead

by Mark Sumner – On Monday, the Director of the FBI revealed that there was an active investigation into collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence. But what no one got around to asking was whether the FBI was checking for ongoing collusion between the Trump regime and his pal Vladimir. Because in the list of things you can do to show you don’t have a soft spot for Russia, item number one might be this. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip a meeting with NATO foreign ministers next month in order to stay home for a visit by China’s president and will go to Russia later in April, U.S. officials said on Monday, disclosing an itinerary that allies may see as giving Moscow priority over them. Chief among the items that have made people concerned about Trump’s obsequious attitude toward Russia is his frequent threats to weaken or...

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Five Reasons Moderate Democrats Should Oppose Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court

by Richard Eskow – After a contentious start to Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination hearings, Senate Democrats are struggling with what the New York Times calls “two options: Get out of the way or get run over.” But Democrats have a third option, one that should attract moderate “centrists” as well as more liberal senators: Fight. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, received some criticism for introducing Gorsuch to the Senate at the start of today’s hearing. Bennet’s action was defensible: in normal times, it’s Senate protocol for senators to introduce nominees from their home state. Colorado’s other senator, Republican Cory Gardner, also introduced Gorsuch. But these are not normal times, and Democrats need to recognize that. Donald Trump, and the Republican Party in general, have succeeded by ignoring “normal” behavior and the protocols of the past. Nobody’s suggesting that Democrats should behave like Republicans, but it’s no longer...

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New York Attorney General Hires Attorney to go After Trump Full Time

by Mark Sumner – While Donald Trump is busy live-tweeting fresh outbreaks of paranoia to the intelligence committee hearing, he might want to check out the other news. New York state’s attorney general, to date one of the most vocal antagonists of President Donald Trump, is preparing to escalate his office’s litigation against the president’s administration. New York AG Eric Schneiderman isn’t just a ‘vocal antagonist’ of Trump, he’s the guy who brought Trump to heel over Trump University. The guy who caught multiple violations at the Trump Foundation. The guy kos declared one of the most important resistance leaders over the next four years. Schneiderman joined in the case against Trump’s Muslim ban, and it’s not all he has in mind. In addition to challenging White House policies in court, Mr. Schneiderman’s office is expected to explore whether it has any standing to pursue cases that hinge on the Constitution’s emoluments clause, according to people familiar...

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A Lawyer Sues President Trump Over His Financial Disclosure

by Casey Quinlan – A lawyer filed a case in federal court on March 14 which claims that Americans have not received accurate information about President Donald Trump’s debts. Attorney Jeffrey Lovitky, based in Washington, D.C., said Trump’s May 2016 financial disclosure mixes personal liabilities with business liabilities, Politico reported. Lovitky wrote in the complaint: The purpose of these disclosure requirements is to allow members of the public to make informed judgments as to whether candidates for federal office have financial conflicts of interests that may impair their ability to faithfully execute their duties as public servants. In an interview with Politico, Lovitky said, “If you just look at the statement on its face, all those liabilities are assumed to be personal liabilities, but I just do not think that’s the case. I have information that says otherwise.” Lovitky is not seeking damages. He asked the court to declare last year’s...

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The Management of Unleashed Insanity

by TODD GITLIN – Trump perfects the role of Propagandist-in-Chief. Richard Nixon lied about wars and cover-ups, but otherwise his evasions and spins were in the mainstream of American political discourse. He was not in the regular practice of calling black white. By the end of his second term, Ronald Reagan was so mentally impaired as to make it unclear what he knew and when. But the present situation, a regime that systematically assaults truth, is unprecedented. One critical mass of citizens, Trump’s true believers, live in a mental universe composed of falsehoods poured steadily into their eyes and ears by a kept propaganda system, a system of untruth which they either affirm or, one way or the other, make their peace with. A second critical mass, the systematic resisters and doubters, is troubled beyond measure, but they are, for the moment, after years of default, powerless. Trump’s gamble is that...

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Rep. Adam Schiff’s Short Speech Crisply lays out the Evidence Connecting Trump and Russia

by Laurel Raymond – Think of it as congressional SparkNotes. When news began trickling out, months ago, that Russia may have tried to influence the American election, the actual news in the U.S. quickly became something akin to a Cold-war era spy novel. There’s now a vast web of circumstantial evidence and questions surrounding the Trump administration’s alleged contacts with Russian state actors during the campaign, most of which leaked out over months. And for many people, the web of allegations and the Trump administration’s frequently shifting official story has been very difficult to follow. On Monday, FBI director James Comey testified in front of the House Intelligence committee as part of Congress’ ongoing investigation in the matter. Before his testimony, the committee’s ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) laid out of all of the circumstantial evidence that has built up so far connecting the Trump campaign to Russian state actors...

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East Chicago’s Pleas for Clean Drinking Water Go Unanswered as Trump Moves to Weaken EPA

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Environmental justice is on the chopping block at the Environmental Protection Agency, and that doesn’t bode well for communities like East Chicago, Indiana, where the agency recently discovered that drinking water is contaminated with lead. Nearly three weeks ago, a number of East Chicago churches and community groups petitioned the EPA to take emergency action and protect the majority-Black community from lead poisoning, which can cause a long list of health problems, especially in children. As of Tuesday, the local leaders and their environmentalist allies had yet to hear back from the agency. The EPA’s inaction in East Chicago comes as Trump’s administration considers massive budget cuts that could crush the agency’s environmental justice program, which is supposed to ensure the fair treatment of low-income communities, Native communities and people of color under environmental law. The agency’s environmental justice office is slated...

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Trump Budget: UN Sounds Alarm over Foreign Aid Cuts (VIDEOS)

Spokesman says reduction of US contribution to UN could ‘undermine the impact of longer-term reform efforts’. US President Donald Trump is seeking to reduce his country’s contribution to United Nations programmes, as part of cuts to funding of US diplomacy and foreign aid in his administration’s budget proposal. The spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres reacted fiercely to the plans on Thursday, saying “abrupt funding cuts can force the adoption of ad hoc measures that will undermine the impact of longer-term reform efforts”. In its budget the Trump administration stated its intention to “reduce or end funding for international organisations whose missions do not substantially advance US foreign policy interests”. This includes slashing funding for the State Department and USAID, its foreign aid agency, and shifting money towards the military with a $54bn increase in defence spending “The secretary-general fully subscribes to the necessity to effectively combat terrorism but believes that it...

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The Failures of the American Health Care Act

by Jeffrey A. Singer – Here are the problems with the House plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. From the time it was enacted, most Americans disliked the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Republicans, promising to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, rode the wave of public dissatisfaction to repeated election victories. The GOP took the House of Representatives in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and the White House in 2016, largely capitalizing on the skyrocketing premiums, rising deductibles, and disappearing choices that characterize Obamacare. Now, as Republicans control both Congress and the White House, they finally have the chance to deliver on their promise. And not a minute too soon. Because the mandates that Obamacare places on health insurance have sent our health insurance system into a death spiral. Premiums continue to soar as insurance companies are pulling out of the market, leaving consumers with fewer and...

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Why Trump won’t Quit. He can’t

by Otteray Scribe – There has been widespread speculation, complete with polls and betting pools, whether Trump will last six months or a year. There has been speculation whether he might resign, or be removed from office by Congress. I do not have any inside information, and even if I did, I would not reveal it. However, I am not an amateur armchair analyst.  I have been doing what I do for more than four decades, and in that time, I have met some interesting people.  The word “interesting” is used in the broadest sense of the word.  Suffice it to say that in some circles, they don’t care for me at all. During my almost half century of forensic work, I have encountered some of the most dangerous and cunning people you never want to meet. I have learned a lot from them. That leads up to what I am...

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Paul Ryan’s Role in Russian Espionage Against Democrats in 2016 House Races

by SemDem – Paul Ryan is everywhere these days hocking Trumpcare.  It infuriates me because there is almost no one politician I have as little respect for as Ryan. He is smarmy, but thinks of himself as a stud.  He tells everyone he’s a “policy wonk”, but doesn’t understand fundamental concepts–like how insurance works.  He fancies himself a master politician, but has never once been able to build a coalition to get, well, anything passed.  If I count that one post office he named in 2000 or that one tax modification on hunting arrows in 2004, I can bring his grand legislative successes to….. two.  Somehow I doubt Trumpcare will be his third. As a politician, Paul Ryan is a complete and utter failure. But he’s so much more than just another failed politician.  And it’s way past time for Democratic politicians to start calling him what he truly is: Paul Ryan is damn...

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Trump’s War on the Truth Tellers

by Robert Reich – Trump and his White House don’t argue on the merits. They attack the credibility of the institutions that come up with facts and arguments they don’t like. They even do it preemptively. Last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer warned that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office couldn’t be trusted to come up with accurate numbers about the costs and coverage of the Republicans’ replacement for the Affordable Care Act. “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place,” he said. So what’s the right place? The Oval Office? Bear in mind the director of the CBO is a Republican economist and former George W. Bush administration official who was chosen for his position by the Republican Congress in 2015. No matter. The White House is worried about what the CBO will say about Trumpcare, so it throws the CBO under the bus...

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Department of Justice to Appeal Maryland Ruling Against Muslim Ban 2.0

by Nadia Prupis – ‘We look forward to defending this careful and well-reasoned decision in the appeals court,’ said ACLU’s Omar Jadwat. The Trump administration on Friday filed papers to appeal a ruling that blocked the president’s revised travel ban, setting up a new legal showdown over the executive order that opponents have called “Muslim ban 2.0.” Attorneys for the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed federal papers in Maryland, one of the two states that issued rulings against President Donald Trump’s executive order this week. Judges in that state and Hawaii both found that the memo, which blocks entry to the U.S. for travelers from six majority-Muslim countries, was unconstitutional and violated the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment. The DOJ only appealed Maryland’s decision. Had the department challenged the ruling in Hawaii, the appeal would have gone to the same San Francisco court that rejected the original version of...

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Budget Will Drive Up Republican Voters’ Energy Bills

by Joe Romm – Two key programs that help the elderly and rural poor reduce their energy bills will be cut. President Trump’s new federal budget continues a remarkable pattern of being gratuitously cruel to his own voters. The just-released budget zeroes out the two major programs designed to help low-income and elderly Americans deal with energy costs: the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). “Families receiving weatherization services see their annual energy bills reduced by an average of about $437, depending on fuel prices,” according to DOE data. In 2010, the program saved low-income families a whopping $2.1 billion. Cutting it will save $121 million. The program, though, is targeted toward low-income Americans, “especially low-income persons who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly, the disabled, and children.” There is a huge...

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White House Morons Tout Satirical Piece Shedding Proposed Budget – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

by durrati – Think Progress: “This week, the White House began sending out an official email newsletter, “Your 1600 Daily,” to promote video clips of the president, pertinent news articles or endorsements, and other items of note happening that day. On Friday, there was an odd inclusion at the bottom, where normally one can find friendly headlines from Fox News, Breitbart, or other conservative outlets that have become media safe harbors for the administration. One of the two featured articles was a parody piece titled “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why,” written by Alexandra Petri, who writes satirical pieces for the Washington Post’s lighthearted ComPost blog.” And what did the very witty Ms. Petri write that the editors of (Not)Your 1600 Daily mistook for glowing endorsement? “Some people are complaining that the budget proffered by the Trump administration, despite its wonderful macho-sounding name, is too...

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Trump, Ryan Budgets will Kill More Americans Per Year than all Muslim Extremist Attacks Combined

by Hunter – Meals on Wheels. How far do you have to get down the scale of ideological depravity before your pen lands on Meals on Wheels as the thing you need to get rid of to buy those last two more Tomahawk cruise missiles that will finally make America a super-duper-dominant world power again. That’s only one part of the Trump budget that directly targets the poorest Americans, of course. It also cuts home heating assistance, so those same seniors will have a chance to freeze to death before starving. It takes an axe to EPA efforts to clean up pollution, which will have a disproportionate effect on the air and water of those neighborhoods surrounding those worst polluters. While that will likely result in an uptick in everything from childhood asthma to cancer, the Trump budget also slashes medical research funding in an apparent effort to ensure nobody does...

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The Unfixable Problem with Trump’s Muslim Ban

by Ian Millhiser – If you’re going to flout the Constitution, don’t brag about it. Wednesday evening, a federal judge in Hawaii temporarily halted President Trump’s latest attempt to keep many foreign nationals from six predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States. Judge Derrick Watson’s temporary restraining order is the first chapter in a long saga of litigation that is likely to end at the Supreme Court. Should Judge Watson’s reasoning be embraced by higher courts, however, it is far from clear that Trump can fix the fundamental error Watson identifies with Trump’s efforts to keep many Muslims out of the United States. If you plan to unconstitutionally target a group of people because of their faith, it’s a good idea not to run around the country announcing this fact. Trump lawyer’s, as Watson notes, relied heavily on the fact that Trump’s executive order restricting travel from six Muslim nations is...

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White House Apologizes to Britain for False Wiretapping Allegations

by Zack Ford – Noooooo, British intelligence didn’t bug Trump Tower either. The White House has apologized to Britain and promised it will no longer reiterate conspiracy theories about British intelligence working against President Trump. During Thursday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer read through a litany of news stories that he argued gave credence to President Trump’s baseless accusation that President Obama wiretapped — or “wiretapped” — Trump Tower during the election. The corroborating “evidence” included remarks made by Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano, who — humoring Trump’s claims — suggested that Obama could have used a foreign intelligence service to avoid a paper trail — and that, if he did, he “more likely than not” used the British intelligence agency GCHQ to conduct that supposed surveillance. The GCHQ, like U.S. intelligence agencies, rarely comments on its own activities, but in this case, it responded that such allegations are “utterly ridiculous” and “should be ignored.” U.S. National Security Adviser...

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Europe’s Extreme Right is Losing Elections but Still Reshaping Politics

by Justin Salhani – Experts say Geert Wilders’ ideas are now mainstream in the Netherlands. European politicians emitted a collective sigh of relief Wednesday, as nativist right-winger Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party succumbed in the polls to center-right incumbent Mark Rutte in Dutch elections. With two more crucial European elections later this year in France and Germany, Wilders’ loss has placated fears of a right-wing populist surge. Cas Mudde  ✔@CasMudde Pro Tip: French presidential elections are even less representative of “European trend” than Dutch parliamentary elections. –> 10:37 AM – 16 Mar 2017 Wilders’ electoral loss will be cited as a crucial victory (much like the defeat of his party’s namesake in Austria) against a strain of right-wing and nativist populism that gifted the world a Donald Trump presidency and the UK’s decision to depart from the European Union. But proclamations of greater trends are typically flawed. While populists may not have...

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Michael Flynn Took Money from Russia While He Held a Top-Secret Clearance

by Frank Vyan Walton – Following up on a previously reported story that the doubly fired Michael Flynn took $40,000 from Kremlin funded RT News in 2015, it now appears that he also took that and even more Russian money while he held a Top-Secret Security Clearance. RT paid $45,386 for Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., to fly to Moscow to speak at the English-language network’s 10th anniversary celebration, where he dined at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Flynn’s speaking agency, Leading Authorities, took a 25 percent commission for the payment, which left $33,750 for the retired U.S. Army general. Other documents obtained by the congressional committee show Flynn was paid $11,250 each by a Russian air cargo company and a Russian cybersecurity company, reported the Wall Street Journal. The cargo company had been suspended as a United Nations vendor...

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Beyond the Acid-Filled Jacuzzi: Sinister Truths About Bannon’s Fascism

by Alexander Reid Ross, Truthout | News Analysis – Stephen Bannon is an enigmatic man. According to The Washington Post’s well-traveled report, he is so difficult to pin down that he effectively had no fixed address during the three years before becoming Trump’s top adviser. Although Bannon filed for residency in Florida, evidence shows that he may not have lived there. Some speculate that he may have claimed residency in Florida to avoid California’s high taxes. However, his ex-wife apparently did live at his declared home, and the landlord reported some doors in the house dead-bolted, some doors missing entirely, and the Jacuzzi destroyed and “covered in acid.” Further reports indicate that Bannon was paid $376,000 from 2012-2015 for 30 hours of work a week by an anti-Clinton media company funded by Robert Mercer and connected to the Koch brothers called Government Accountability Institute at the same time as he...

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UN Report: Israel has Established an ‘Apartheid Regime’

by Ben White – Report breaks new ground on the UN’s examination of the situation in occupied Palestine by using the word ‘apartheid’. A new United Nations report accuses Israel of having established “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. The publication comes amid renewed debate about whether, through its settlement policy and rejection of Palestinian self-determination, the Israeli government is creating – or even has already created – a de facto “one-state”, which critics warn would constitute a form of apartheid. It urged governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives”. The report – Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid – was commissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and launched in Beirut. John Reynolds, a lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland,...

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Donald Trump… Leaker-in-Chief?

by Tim Koechlin – Donald Trump and his associates have spent much of the past year deflecting questions about Trump’s stubborn refusal to release his taxes. What is Trump hiding? Embarrassing business relationships in Russia or elsewhere? Debts that might indicate conflicts of interest? Or maybe this billionaire’s tax payments have been embarrassingly meager. Or maybe Trump’s fortune – like his inaugural crowd and his stubby hands – isn’t nearly as big as he’d like us to believe. So, when MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow announced on Tuesday that “we’ve got Donald Trump’s tax returns,” and that she would share them on Tuesday’s edition of The Rachel Maddow Show, the buzz among eager left-wingers was deafening. Finally, the truth about Trump would be revealed. After an excruciatingly long set up, Ms. Maddow (and her guest, the journalist David Cay Johnston) shared two pages of Donald Trump’s 2005 federal tax return. These two pages,...

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“Morally Obscene” Trump Budget Proposal Stands to Make America Cruel Again

by Deirdre Fulton – Environment, public education, worker protections, and cultural institutions all stand to lose under Trump’s “cruel” budget blueprint.   Meals on Wheels. Amtrak. Teacher training, after-school, and summer educational programs. The National Endowment for the Arts. The Appalachian Regional Commission. The National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All these initiatives and agencies—plus many more—face cuts or wholesale elimination under President Donald Trump’s proposed “skinny budget,” officially unveiled Thursday. Meanwhile, the blueprint calls for increases in military spending, border and immigration enforcement, and money for charter and private schools. The Washington Post has a comprehensive breakdown, with graphics, here. The document was variously denounced as “an all-out assault on our planet;” “dirty and dangerous;” “cruel;” and “unacceptable.” “President Trump’s budget is morally obscene and bad economic policy,” declared Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “It will cause devastating pain to the very people Trump promised to help...

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