US

How Congress Keeps Its Sexual Harassment Hush Money Secret

by C.J. Ciaramella – Documents from a $27,000 harassment settlement from Rep. John Conyers’ office show how Congress keeps its tax-funded settlements secret. BuzzFeed reported Tuesday night that the office of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) paid $27,000 to settle a previously undisclosed sexual harassment complaint against the lawmaker. The story is notable not just for the allegations against a powerful member of Congress, but for shedding light on the highly opaque process through which the House of Representatives handles such settlements—and keeps them concealed. Amid the cascade of sexual harassment allegations ignited by The New York Times‘ exposé of Harvey Weinstein, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told MSNBC earlier this month that the House had paid out millions of dollars over the last decade to settle sexual harassment claims. Under public pressure, the Office of Compliance, which acts as the House’s rough simulacrum of a human resources department, released documents showing it had paid out $17 million...

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The Top Secret Info That Trump Gave the Russians

by subtropolis – A new article by Howard Blum, Vanity Fair contributing editor, sheds light on the secrets that the so-called president spilled to the Russians last spring, and the shadow  that it cast upon the relationships between America’s Intelligence agencies and its foreign partners—as well as US political leadership. It should be noted at the outset that Mr Blum has very good contacts within the Intelligence community. Exclusive: What Trump Really Told Kislyak After Comey Was Canned Still on an adrenaline rush after firing Comey, Trump hosted the Russian Ambassador to the US and the Russian Foreign Minister at the White House, where he proceeded to make a fool of himself in a bid to impress. It wasn’t just Trump’s reputation that was damaged, though. As many of us had been fearing, his childish, insufferable narcissism—coupled with his greed and lust for power—would lead him to making an utter disaster of US foreign...

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In These States, Past Marijuana Crimes Can Go Away

by Sophie Quinton – When Californians voted to legalize marijuana last year, they also voted to let people petition courts to reduce or hide convictions for past marijuana crimes. State residents can now petition courts to change some felonies to misdemeanors, change some misdemeanors to infractions, and wipe away convictions for possessing or growing small amounts of the drug. “We call it reparative justice: repairing the harms caused by the war on drugs,” says Eunisses Hernandez of the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group that helped write the California ballot initiative. Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire and Oregon also have made it easier for people convicted of some crimes of marijuana possession, cultivation or manufacture to get their records sealed or expunged, which generally means removing convictions from public databases. Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a criminal justice bill that would, among other changes, allow people to expunge any conviction that’s no...

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Forbes Bottom Lines Insanity of GOP Tax Bill: They’re Coming for Your Social Security & Medicare

by Heavy Mettle – A Forbes Magazine oped contributor blog post describes how the current GOP tax bills are “the end of GOP economic sanity” and goes through a long list of problems that would never have been inflicted on the US populace before: “If it’s enacted, the GOP tax cut now working its way through Congress will be the start of a decades-long economic policy disaster unlike any other that has occurred in American history.” “There’s no economic justification whatsoever for a tax cut at this time. U.S. GDP is growing, unemployment is close to 4 percent (below what is commonly considered “full employment“), corporate profits are at record levels and stock markets are soaring. It makes no sense to add any federal government-induced stimulus to all this private sector-caused economic activity, let alone a tax cut as big as this one.” After going through a list of problems it will cause, such as high...

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Rep. Joe Barton (R) Threatened Woman With Capitol Police Because of Explicit Pix

by Colorado Blue – Oh my goodness.  I mean this guy got involved with a woman then abused his power of office to threaten her with the Capitol Police.  And there is a recording of the phone call. I have to say that was kind of prescient on her part; perhaps she got a bad vibe from the guy? Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), who apologized Wednesday for a lewd photo of him that circulated on the Internet, told a woman to whom he had sent sexually explicit photos, videos and messages that he would report her to the Capitol Police because she could expose his behavior, according to a recording reviewed by The Washington Post. The woman spoke to The Post after the lewd photo was published Tuesday by an anonymous Twitter account. She shared a secretly recorded phone conversation she had with Barton in 2015 in which he warned her against...

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Judge Strikes Down Texas Ban on Common Abortion Procedure

by Shannon Najmabadi for The Texas Tribune – A federal district judge handed a victory to abortion rights groups Wednesday when he struck down part of a Texas law curbing access to the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, called dilation and evacuation.   A federal district judge handed a victory to abortion rights groups Wednesday when he struck down part of a Texas law curbing access to the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, called dilation and evacuation. In a decision that will be appealed before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Lee Yeakel said the provision imposes an “undue burden” on women seeking second-trimester abortions in the state. It had been slated to go into effect Sept. 1 as part of Senate Bill 8, a law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year. But the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood filed suit in July on behalf of several women’s health providers in the state....

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The Real Reason Why Trump is Still Supporting Roy Moore

by Judd Legum – The conventional wisdom is wrong. On Tuesday afternoon, Trump delivered a full-throated endorsement of Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, even though Moore is facing multiple allegations of child sex abuse. Trump framed his support for Moore primarily as a political decision, based on the necessity of maintaining the slim Republican majority in the Senate. “I can tell you one thing for sure:  We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat — Jones,” Trump said. This explanation was largely accepted in the press. It’s “about policy and not the sexual abuse allegations,” an unnamed White House source told CNN. “The White House knows they cannot afford to lose an ‘R’ vote in the Senate.” The most important policy for the White House at the moment is tax reform, which faces a narrow path in the Senate. Republicans can only afford to lose two...

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White House Efforts to Cut Off Funding for Sanctuary Cities Slapped With Permanent Block

by E.A. Crunden – What the Trump administration is doing is “unconstitutional on its face,” Judge William Orrick wrote. A federal judge has permanently blocked President Trump’s efforts to bar cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration forces from receiving funding, the most decisive blow yet to the White House’s efforts to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities. In a ruling issued Monday, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick ruled Trump’s January executive order seeking to cut off sanctuary cities from federal funding unconstitutional. The same judge put a hold on the executive order in April. “The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Executive Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds,” Orrick wrote in the latest decision. “Further, the Tenth Amendment requires that conditions on federal funds be unambiguous and timely made; that they bear some relation to the funds at issue; and that they not...

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Congress Still Hasn’t Renewed CHIP Funding, 9 Million Children Could Soon Lose Health Coverage

by Elham Khatami – Three states and the District of Columbia are expected to run out of CHIP funds by next month. It has been 51 days since Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to expire. Since then, states have been grappling with the reality that nine million children may soon lose critical health care coverage. While CHIP has historically received support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, this year, Congress has allowed disagreements over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to take precedence over reauthorizing funding for the program. Things are now especially dire for Arizona, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and North Carolina — all of which are expected to run out of CHIP funds by next month. Thirty-one states will likely exhaust their funding by March 2018. “We’re in an unprecedented situation,” Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, told ThinkProgress. Referring...

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The Trump-Russia Story Is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of It

by Bill Moyers and Steven Harper – “Everything the Trump campaign told you about the connections between Trump and Russia was a lie.” Editor’s Note: The news is coming so fast and furious, from so many sources and in so many fragments, that it takes more than a scorecard to keep up with the Trump-Russia Connection. It takes a timeline — a “map,” if you will, of where events and names and dates and deeds converge into a story that makes sense of the incredible scandal of the 2016 election and now of the Trump Administration. For years Steve Harper produced timelines for the cases he argued or defended in court as a successful litigator. Retired now from practicing law, Harper has turned his experience, talent, and curiosity to monitoring for BillMoyers.com the bizarre and entangled ties between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump and the murky world of Russian oligarchs, state officials, hackers, spies,...

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The Drag Show Must Go On!

by Mandy Strickland Floyd, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Tennessee – On Monday night, the attempt by the town of Portland, Tennessee, to ban drag shows came to an end. For months, the town’s aldermen have been searching for a way to regulate drag shows out of existence. But the First Amendment got in their way. It all started in August, when performers with Elite Productions put on a drag show at Envy Restaurant Bar & Grill in downtown Portland. The show was sold out, and the performers went on to hold several more successful performances. Though popular with the public, the show became a target for the Portland board of aldermen, which has spent much of the past several months trying to find a way to ban drag shows. In September, board members introduced an ordinance that sought to classify drag shows as “adult cabaret,” which the town described as a...

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Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students

by Jill Richardson – Imagine having to pay thousands of dollars of taxes on virtually no income. The Republican tax plan winding its way through Congress includes a special middle finger to the nation’s graduate students. It’s a little bit wonky, so stay with me here. I’ll explain how it affects me, since I’m an actual graduate student. Going to grad school would’ve been entirely out of reach for me if I had to pay full tuition for my education. Getting a PhD takes at least five years and often more. I don’t have a spouse, trust fund, or parents to cover my cost of living or my tuition. If I had to pay for my own education, it would’ve been simply out of the question. This is hardly uncommon. How many adults do you know can forego five or more years of income while simultaneously paying thousands of dollars in...

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42 Top Economists Were Asked if the Trump Tax Plan Would Significantly Grow the Economy. 1 Said Yes

by Rebekah Entralgo – Remember when the White House said the economic growth would put an extra $4,000 in your pocket? Overhauling the tax code before Christmas would be a difficult task under “normal” conditions, yet Republicans in Congress are pledging to do just that with their tax bill. There’s just one big problem: It is a supremely poor tax plan that doesn’t provide middle-class tax relief while also serving as a substantial handout to the wealthy. A University of Chicago survey released Tuesday polled 42 of the nation’s leading economists about the Republican tax plan — and all but one said they do not agree with claims that the plan will grow the economy. This survey is yet another piece of analysis that eviscerates a popular White House talking point that by cutting taxes for corporations, the GOP tax plan would create so much economic growth that the average American family would get a raise...

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State Department Officials Accuse Tillerson of Violating Anti-Child Soldiers Law

by Jake Johnson – Secretary of State’s decision to exclude Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar from a list of nations using child soldiers has also been widely condemned by human rights groups. Around a dozen U.S. State Department officials have formally accused Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of violating the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, citing his recent decision to exclude Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar from a list of nations currently conscripting child soldiers despite his department’s public acknowledgement that children have been used in combat by these nations. The accusations were leveled in a confidential “dissent” memo (pdf) obtained and reported on by Reuters for the first time on Tuesday. “Tillerson’s decision was at odds with a unanimous recommendation by the heads of the State Department’s regional bureaus overseeing embassies in the Middle East and Asia, the U.S. envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the department’s human rights office, and its own in-house lawyers,” Reutersnoted. Passed in 2008, the Child Soldiers Prevention...

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Russia has Owned Trump for Quite Some Time and Mueller Knows it; Tick, Tock Impeachment Clock

by ursulafaw – Guardian journalist Luke Harding has written a book, Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. The book contains conversations with former spy Christopher Steele, who admonished Harding to follow the yellow brick road, which in Trump’s case is gold and extends all the way from Moscow to Trump Tower. Good advice and Robert Mueller is following it. Vanity Fair: In December of last year, Steele informed Luke Harding, a journalist for the Guardian, that “the contracts for the hotel deals and land deals” between Trump and individuals with the Kremlin ties warrant investigation. “Check their values against the money Trump secured via loans,” the former spy said, according to a conversation detailed in Harding’s new book, Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. “The difference is what’s important.” According to his book, Steele did not elaborate on this point to Harding, but his implication was clear: it’s possible...

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The Backlash Against the Bullies

by Robert Reich – Why are so many women now speaking out about the sexual abuses they’ve experienced for years? Is there anything unique about the time we’re now living through that has encouraged them to end their silence? I can’t help think their decisions are part of something that’s happening throughout much of American society right now – a backlash against what has been the growing domination of America by powerful and wealthy men (and a few women) who came to believe they can do whatever they want to do, to whomever they choose. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the pussy,” said Donald Trump in the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood tape. Sexual assault is one obvious assertion of dominance. Other forms include economic bullying and the stoking of bigotry to gain political power. Trump epitomizes it all. As a...

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Trump Stands by Endorsement of Roy Moore, Suggests Women are Lying

by Zack Ford – “He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. You have to listen to him also.” Before taking off for his Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump took some questions from the press and finally responded to the multiple sexual abuse allegations against Roy Moore. “We do not need a liberal person — a Democrat” in that seat, Trump said. “He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. You have to listen to him also.” When asked if he had a message for women, Trump said it’s “very, very good” for women that these kind of allegations have been “exposed.” But he insisted Moore “totally denies it,” pontificating on the fact that 40 years had passed, implying he doubted the claims the multiple women have made.  This is a significant shift from the White House’s messaging on Moore as of just a day ago. At Monday’s...

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Ban on Transgender Military Service Just Took Another Blow

by Zack Ford – The arbitrary ban “cannot possibly constitute a legitimate governmental interest”, the judge wrote. A second federal judge has ruled against President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, issuing a preliminary injunction prohibiting it from taking effect. Unlike the first such injunction, issued last month, this order also ensures transition-related medical procedures remain covered. Senior United States District Judge Marvin Garbis, a George H.W. Bush appointee, ruled Tuesday that Trump’s ban, first tweeted out in July, could not be enforced: President Trump’s tweets did not emerge from a policy review, nor did the Presidential Memorandum identify any policymaking process or evidence demonstrating that the revocation of transgender rights was necessary for any legitimate national interest. Based on the circumstances surrounding the President’s announcement and the departure from normal procedure, the Court agrees with the D.C. Court that there is sufficient support for Plaintiffs’ claims that “the decision to exclude...

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Mueller’s Interview With Hope Hicks May Signal He’s Closing in on the Target

by Mark Sumner – If Business Insider is right, Trump’s lawyer may be more accurate than anyone knew when he said Mueller was getting close to wrapping up his investigation. A report from Politico this week, which found that the special counsel Robert Mueller is gearing up to interview the White House communications director, Hope Hicks, indicates that one of the many threads of the Russia investigation is probably moving into its final stages. Why would interviewing Hicks show that the investigation—or at least, one part of the investigation—was about to cross the finish line? “Any time you can get someone who is the right-hand person or who’s been around the primary target of an investigation, under oath, answering detailed questions, means you’ve progressed very far along in the investigation,” Goldberg told Politico. Hicks has served not just as a press secretary and surrogate for Trump during the campaign, she’s been his personal...

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New Report Details ’13 Terrible Things’ About Senate GOP Tax Plan

by Common Dreams staff – Americans for Tax Fairness warns that the bill gives most of the tax cuts to the richest 1%, makes 82 million middle-class families pay more in taxes, and endangers funding for public services. Amid mounting efforts to block the Republican Party’s latest attempts to cut taxes for the nation’s corporations and wealthiest families, a new report out Tuesday details 13 “terrible things” about the most recent GOP tax bill put forth in the U.S. Senate. The analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF)—a campaign of more than 425 national, state, and local groups that advocate for progressive tax reform—is just latest in a series of warnings about the consequences of passing what’s being called the #GOPTaxScam. The report warns that the proposed legislation: Gives most of the tax cuts to the richest 1%. The share of tax cuts going to the richest 1% is 62% in 2027, up from 18% in 2019. Their tax cut...

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Under GOP Plan, Wealthy Foreign Investors Benefit Nearly Three Times More Than US Taxpayers

by Common Dreams staff – “Just amazing,” said one economic analyst. “Really hard to get your head around. But it’s true.” If the Senate Republicans’ latest version of their tax overhaul bill passes, foreign investors will receive a financial benefit nearly three times larger than all U.S. taxpayers combined, according to a new analysis released Saturday. In its updated analysis, the non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that while U.S. households would receive $8 billion in net benefits from the plan, wealthy overseas investors would capture an astonishing $22 billion. “By 2027,” the analysis states, “foreign investors would benefit more than American households overall under the bill as written. While some households would pay more and others would pay less, in 2027 the average net effect for U.S. households would be a tax cut of $8 billion, which is much smaller than the $22 billion benefit to foreign investors.” As Seth Hanlon,...

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As Powerful Men Fall, Renewed Focus on Trump’s Many Accusers and His Disgusting Admission

by Jon Queally – “One man continues to defy America’s new moral norm: its President.” As the floodgates have certainly opened in positive ways over recent weeks in terms of women feeling more empowered and secure in speaking publicly about the men—often those in positions of power—who have sexually assaulted or harassed them over the years, the wave of revelations have also brought renewed focus on the previous and numerous accusations levied against the nation’s most powerful man: President Donald J. Trump. While an infamous recording released during last year’s campaign in which Trump openly talked about how he used his wealth and fame to prey on women, the shifting national conversation about sexual misconduct—and the “hypocritical” way in which Trump injected himself into that conversation this week—has led many to argue that the numerous women who have already publicly accused Trump of sexual assault or harassment should be given further and renewed hearing. Offering...

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NASCAR Provides the Ultimate Proof That the NFL’s Rating Decline Isn’t Because of Politics

by Lindsay Gibbs – You can’t have it both ways. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last year, you’ve probably heard that our nation is currently undergoing a monumental crisis. No, not the White House one — I’m talking about the fact that after years of being a seemingly invincible ratings juggernaut, NFL ratings are on the decline. I know, I know, it’s hard to process, but it’s true. While people can cherry-pick ratings from certain games to prove whatever point they want to prove, overall, it’s likely that the NFL will finish this year with fewer viewers than it had last year. Last year, NFL viewership was down from the previous year. It’s an undeniable trend. Now, you could say that the NFL’s ratings decline merely mirrors a decline in viewership across television audiences at-large. However, that’s not the narrative-of-choice. Many have blamed the NFL’s “liberal politics” — in other...

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“Smell of Alabama, he’s not going to be able to escape it” Bannon Going Down in Flames

by ursulafaw – Roy Moore “would not be the horse you would want to bet on first,” opined an anonymous source of Steve Bannon’s.  Bannon’s goal as self-appointed GOP kingmaker was to remake the party in his own image, starting with getting Roy Moore elected after a divisive and passionately fought primary against Luther Strange. Bannon saw Moore as being the first of many right wing candidates that he endorsed that would be victorious at the polls. Unfortunately, with Moore in disgrace and Democrat Doug Jones leading in Alabama, it’s all gotten topsy turvy in Bannon World and the campaign is starting to come off the rails. First and foremost, the RNC announced they were pulling funding for Moore’s campaign a few days ago and lo and behold GOP mega donors are jumping ship as well. Washington Post: Early this month, GOP mega-donor Robert Mercer announced that he was stepping down as...

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The Senate Ethics Committee is a Terrible Place for Sexual Harassment Investigations

by Josh Israel – The Franken case could set a terrible precedent for future cases. Just a few hours after broadcaster Leeann Tweeden accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday of kissing and groping her without her consent on a 2006 USO tour, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) signaled to his colleagues how the matter should be dealt with: He farmed out the question to the Senate’s Select Committee on Ethics. “As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else,” he said in a statement. Soon after, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), other senators, and Franken himself followed suit. While noting that he had a different recollection of the events, Franken apologized for his conduct. Tweeden accepted the apology and said she...

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Roy Moore, From the Gadsden Mall to the Ten Commandments Monument

by Todd Gitlin – Sin of the sin-catchers. The spectacle of 30-something Deputy District Attorney Roy Moore cruising the Gadsden, Alabama, mall hunting for high school girls to chat up, grope and “date” rivets our attention, and deservedly so. Not everyone’s attention, of course. As CNN’s Brian Stelter points out, Alabama’s own media have long overlooked his depredations. Even now, a local paper persists in claiming that the ex-judge has “refuted” his accusers. (They meant “rebutted,” but even that isn’t true.) Still, for all the back-and-forth, most commentators stop short of noting that the defrocked Alabama Chief Justice belongs to a tradition and a culture. Proliferating stories of Moore’s life as a predator invite reflection on what he and Harvey Weinstein share in common — their privileged positions in a protective culture where men get away with whatever they can get away with. No one outside a deep cave lacking Wi-Fi is altogether astonished to...

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Chaos: The New Normal

by Lynn Sherr – Lynn Sherr on why we need #ThisIsNotNormal. In life, just like closets, the enemy is chaos. Even our most mundane mess — clumps of mismatched shoes on the floor, tangles of unworn shirts falling off hangers, layers of ancient bills on the desk, weeks of forgotten wanna-do’s in the corners of your mind — can be unsettling. Debilitating. Depressing. Thus, the success of super-organizer Marie Kondo, whose passion for housekeeping is existential, with its promise that tidying up can transform your spirit and get your life back on track. “I found the opposite of happiness is not sadness,” one of her newly freed followers explains. “It’s chaos.” Which brings us to Donald Trump. One year after the federal election process was upended by some combination of deluded voters and devious Russians; nearly 10 months after Trump turned the White House into a graveyard for truth, civility and intelligence;...

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14 Reasons Why Trump’s Tweets on Al Franken Cannot be Ignored

by Judd Legum – Getting elected president doesn’t make sexual assault allegations any less relevant. Donald Trump’s tweets are exhausting and many people, particularly Republican members of Congress, prefer to ignore them. But a series of tweets by Trump on Thursday night about allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) cannot be ignored. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? ….. 10:06 PM – Nov 16, 2017 Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump .And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape? 10:15 PM – Nov 16, 2017 Franken has been accused of a very serious episode of sexual harassment and misconduct by radio commentator and former model Leeann Tweeden. Today, a short...

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Scott Pruitt Claims He’s Taken More Actions to Fight Pollution Than Obama, but Can’t Name Any

by Mark Hand – The EPA has not taken a single step to significantly reduce air or water pollution under Trump. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has accomplished an impressive feat: In only nine months in office, he has done more than any of his predecessors — even more than the divisive Anne Gorsuch under President Ronald Reagan — to roll back the EPA’s crucial functions and create a culture of fear among agency employees with years of expertise in environmental protection. EPA observers contend Pruitt “has claimed the worst-ever title” from Gorsuch, who herself succeeded in shepherding through major agency budget cuts and rollbacks of new clean and air and regulations when the agency was in its infancy. But Pruitt is going several steps further by turning the agency into “a hollow shell by whacking its budget, overturning rules based on bogus reports and keeping employees in the dark,” according to one assessment of Pruitt’s...

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The Strange Tale of How Michael Flynn Became National Security Advisor

by Mark Sumner – The job of assembling candidates for positions in the Trump White House was given to outgoing New Jersey governor and perennial Trump punching-bag, Chris Christie. Christie’s team brought Trump a list of possible NSA nominees that they considered qualified — a list that notably did not include Michael Flynn.  Flynn had been booted from his position under Obama, and both Christie and everyone he interviewed seemed to agree that Flynn was, at best, an unreliable flake. Christie appears to be the only one who failed to realize that Trump’s “important assignment” was just another way of humiliating his former opponent. Again. And again. But Donald Trump’s selection of Flynn for the NSA role went into far stranger territory than just his innate love for anyone or anything that he thinks Barack Obama hated. It even went beyond the side bonus of giving Chris Christie an extra little dash of humiliation. It...

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House Approves $700B ‘Cash Cow for Weapons Companies’—But Single Payer ‘Too Expensive’

by Jake Johnson – “What if we tell House Republicans and Democrats that North Korea wanted to close schools, take our healthcare away and pump CO2 into our air—we could suddenly, magically find $700 billion dollars for all of it.” In a bipartisan show of support for endless war and out-of-control military spending, the House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the nearly $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 that aims to boost war outlays by $80 billion—an amount that critics noted would easily cover the costs of free public college tuition and other initiatives that are frequently dismissed as too expensive. The final vote tally was 357-70, with 127 Democrats throwing their support behind the bill. Sixty-seven Democrats—including Reps. Barbara Lee of California, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and John Conyers of Michigan—voted against the legislation. In addition to providing cash for 90 F-35 jets—20 more than President Donald Trump requested—the measure also approves...

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7 Ways Democrats Misread the Election Results

by Richard Eskow – The base is critical to victory — and it wants to move left. If you’re a Democrat, there’s a name for that unfamiliar emotion you were feeling last Tuesday night. It’s called happiness. But there is a serious risk that the party will draw the wrong lessons from last week’s results. Here are seven important lessons from the November 7 results that a lot of Democrats seem to have missed. 1. It’s too easy to fall for spin, or for easily digestible but misleading narratives What do a former Republican doctor, a Goldman Sachs executive turned Bernie-style economic populist, a transgender heavy metal singer, and a Virginia socialist have in common? They all won as Democrats. You’d think a diverse group like this would make it hard to pigeonhole the election’s results. That didn’t stop some people from trying. On election night, Jennifer Psaki, former...

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The Trump White House’s Actions Recall the Most Divisive Eras of the American Past

by Dennis Parker, Director, ACLU Racial Justice Program – One of the most striking, and dispiriting, aspects of the actions and pronouncements coming from the White House over the last year is the way that they seem to echo the most divisive and damaging eras of the country’s history. Chief of Staff John Kelly’s recent description of the Civil War as a disagreement that could have been resolved through more compromise was a revisionist attempt to trivialize the enormous injustice of slavery and white supremacy in much the same way as President Trump’s efforts to find equivalencies between Nazi demonstrators and those opposing white supremacy. Kelley’s statement harks back to efforts in the early 20th century to advance a racist agenda by recasting the Civil War. That effort was embodied in the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation,” which portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as gallant warriors in the battle to save...

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Uranium One in a Nutshell

by Edward Adams – “We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country.” –Donald Trump, news conference, Feb. 16, 2017  “Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!” –Donald Trump, Tweet, Oct. 19, 2017 “This is equivalent to what the Rosenbergs did, and those people got the chair. Think about it: Giving away nuclear capability to our enemies, that’s what we’re talking about.” –Sebastian Gorka, Hannity, Oct. 26, 2017   As the Mueller investigation heats up, Trump, his Republican defenders, and Fox News can be expected to play up the contrived Uranium One scandal, suggesting of course that Hillary Clinton is really the one in bed with the Russians. The House Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are initiating a probe, and the Justice Department just notified Congress that it is considering...

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Evangelical Attack on Women’s Rights Hidden in GOP Tax Reform

by Rmuse – Religious Republicans made another sneak attack on American women’s right to self-determination last week and there was barely a whimper; which is the reason the attack was done through subterfuge. And besides a lack of outrage,  there was a lack of media reporting that Republicans are embracing a Vatican dictate as their official legislative weapon of choice in the evangelical Republicans’ war on women. Based on the machinations Republicans are using to eliminate women’s reproductive rights, including the right to use contraceptives, they certainly know their agenda is highly unpopular; it is precisely why they ensconced a “personhood” provision deep in the 429-page Republican House tax reform legislation. Despite several varied states rejecting the bizarre, and frankly absurd, idea of “personhood,” as a legal provision and as a concept, Republicans are pushing the issue as a means of completely controlling women’s reproductive lives. For the second time in Trump and preacher Pence’s burgeoning theocracy, the federal...

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Fearing Trump, Congress Holds First Hearing in Decades on President’s Nuclear Authority

by Jessica Corbett – “If a crazy president orders a legal nuclear strike from one of the already vetted war plans, there is no one that can stop him.” Despite Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) insistence that the congressional hearing on Tuesday about the authority to use nuclear weapons “is not specific to anybody,” it is the first hearing on this topic in decades, and comes at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump seems to have made a sport out of taunting North Korea’s leader as his nation advances its nuclear abilities. Even before Trump took office and started threatening North Korea with “fire and fury,” the Pentagon had developed a $1.7 trillion plan under Barack Obama “to build a new generation of nuclear-armed bombers, submarines, and missiles, as well as new generations of warheads to go with them”—even though, as William Hartung describes in an excerpt from his new book about nuclear weapons, “in every sense of the term, the U.S....

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Sessions May Appoint a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Hillary Some More

by Colorado Blue – Because Hillary Clinton and her emails haven’t been investigated hard enough, and because the GOP really really wants to study Uranium One AGAIN, and because Benghazi! and because the Republicans are miffed because they might have actual criminals in the White House and its Cabinet; and because they totally need a distraction bigly; and because they love wasting taxpayer dollars chasing Hilz around; and Clinton Foundation blah blah and also, Benghazi; plus there was the thing with the basement of the pizza parlor, we may have a second special prosecutor. I have an idea.  How about we have 150 million special prosecutors investigating the other 150 million Americans; then we can switch. Anyway, I forgot to add James Comey to that pile of stuff that totes needs investigating: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of...

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Hate Crimes Rose by Nearly 5 Percent in 2016: FBI

by Creede Newton – Incidents of hate crimes in the US went up to 6,121 during 2016, seeing an increase of 4.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday. The crimes committed, particularly against African-Americans, Jews and Muslims, rose for the second consecutive year, with a spike of 10 percent from 2014 to 2015. A hate crime is defined by the FBI as a “criminal offence against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity”. The numbers are up across the board. I think it requires an across the board response. All Americans need to hold politicians accountable COREY SAYLOR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS Corey Saylor, a spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations who focuses on Islamophobia, said the results “confirms everything we’ve already known...

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‘Why Not Freddy Krueger?’ Trump Picks Big Pharma Exec Alex Azar to Head HHS

by Jake Johnson – “Just when you think it can’t get anymore disgraceful. Pity the poor people who need medication and safety—that would be all of us.” In a move critics said betrays President Donald Trump’s expressed commitment to lowering drug prices and taking on the power of Big Pharma, Trump on Monday announced that he has chosen Alex Azar, former top executive of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, to head the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While Trump insisted in a tweet on Monday that Azar “will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices,” many argued that the president’s choice of an industry insider will only be a further boost for the bottom lines of drug companies—and a disaster for public health. “Trump tells us Azar will be a ‘star’ who will lower prescription prices. Maybe he should have asked the six million diabetic Americans whose insulin prices have more than tripled under Azar’s...

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Congressman Dismantles Jeff Sessions in Epic 5 Minute Cross-examination

by Judd Legum – Sessions’ own words come back to haunt him. In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly came under heavy criticism from Democratic members. At issue was his statement, delivered under oath during his confirmation hearings, that neither he nor anyone else on the Trump campaign had contact with Russia during the course of the 2016 election. It was subsequently revealed that Sessions had multiple meetings with the Russian ambassador and knew about other contacts between campaign staff and Russians. Perhaps the most effective questioning came from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). His strategy was simple: use Sessions’ own words to make his point. Jeffries started by establishing that Sessions claimed he “didn’t recall” the answer to various questions dozens of times during his appearances before Congress as attorney general. Jeffries then summarized Sessions’ comments to Fox Business host Lou Dobbs on October...

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Donald Jr. Violated Federal Law When Coordinating With Wikileaks

by Frank Vyan Walton – As the Atlantic reports today Wikileaks reached out to Don Trump Jr. with various suggestions during the 2016 campaign, and in some cases he followed their advice and responded back with requests of his own.   They even suggested that if Trump lost on election day, that he should refuse to concede and  challenge the results. Around 6:30 PM EST on Election Day 2016, when most still believed Hillary Clinton would win the election, WikiLeaks messaged Trump Jr. advising his father not to concede. “Hi Don if your father ‘loses’ we think it is much more interesting if he DOES NOT conceed and spends time CHALLENGING the media and other types of rigging that occurred—as he has implied that he might do,” the message reportedly read, citing Donald Trump’s rumored plans to start his own media network when and if he lost the election. Now this...

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Economic Patriotism: 400 Millionaires Pen Letter to Congress, ask Republicans NOT to Cut Their Taxes

by Jen Hayden – Responsible Wealth, a group of business leaders, investors, and inheritors in the richest 5 percent of wealth and/or income in the U.S., are sending an open letter to members of Congress with a clear message: do not cut our taxes. In the letter, which can be read in full below, the 400+ millionaires say that they do not support any tax plan that “further exacerbates inequality” and they deeply oppose cutting any services like “education, Medicare and Medicaid.” The letter includes several well-known names: The letter was put together by Responsible Wealth, a group that advocates progressive causes. Signers include Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher, billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, and philanthropist Steven Rockefeller, as well as many individuals and couples who aren’t household names but are part of the top 5 percent ($1.5 million in assets or earning...

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Here’s a Rundown of a Few of the Trump Donors Keeping Their Money Offshore

by Luke Barnes – Because nothing says patriotism like stashing your cash overseas to avoid taxes. One year ago, Donald Trump stood in front of an adoring crowd in New York City, proclaiming victory for the forgotten Americans over the elitist, globalist campaign of Hillary Clinton. “Ours was not a campaign, but rather an incredible and great movement,” he said. “It was made up of millions of hard-working men and women who love their country and want a better, brighter future for themselves.” But now, a new series of revelations from the Paradise Papers show just how hollow those promises were. The leaked papers show that a number of Trump’s biggest financial backers were the same billionaire globalists that Trump decried at rallies across the country — and that’s in addition to the tax-dodging globalists currently sitting in his cabinet. The leaks reveal that these men stashed away parts of their fortunes, valued in the...

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Jimmy Kimmel is a Genius. Boosts Sign Ups for Trumpcare at Healthcare.gov

by SemDem – In this era of fake news where right-wingers insist on taking marching orders from Russian trolls, Jimmy Kimmel turned all of their gullibility and stupidity on their little ditto heads.  He recently launched a campaign that, as you will see, has been immensely successful. During his opening monologue, he praised Trump for the new plan that Trump administers, which starts Nov 1 and ends Dec. 15:  the open enrollment period for Trumpcare. FINALLY, no more government control of healthcare. These are private insurance companies which deliver Trumpcare, and they now offer the following benefits: It covers pre-existing conditions It has no lifetime caps Your kids can stay on it It caps administrative fees for overhead It is VERY affordable for people making under 50K a year He even made a video with Donald Trump himself to support Trumpcare. Please share this video on twitter and Facebook with anyone...

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Epic Washington GOP v. Alabama Republicans Battle Breaks Out as the GOP Civil War Goes Nuclear

by Kerry Eleveld – The war between Washington establishment Republicans and rabid pro-Trumpers in the states reached a tantalizing boiling point Monday when Senate Majority Mitch McConnell called on Alabama’s Republican nominee for Senate, Roy Moore, to withdraw from the race. “I believe the women, yes,” McConnell said of a Washington Post piece in which four women went on the record to say Moore had sexually preyed on them when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. By extension, McConnell was also saying that he believed the Post over Moore, who has spent the last several days refuting the report as “absolutely unbelievable.” McConnell’s remarks came after Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan sent a shot across the bow at any GOP elected official who dares oppose Moore’s candidacy. “It would be a serious error for any current elected GOP official or candidate to publicly endorse another party’s candidate, an independent, a third party or a write in...

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5 Major Advertisers Ditch Sean Hannity for Sticking up for Accused Pedophile Roy Moore (R)

by poopdogcomedy – Good: At least five companies have announced they will not advertise during Sean Hannity’s TV and radio shows following the host’s coverage of Alabama Senate candidate and accused pedophile Roy Moore. Eloquii, a plus-size clothing retailer, was the first company to publicly distance themselves from the right-wing personality, followed by 23 and me, Nature’s Bounty, Keurig and Realtor.com. Representatives for the five companies, as well as Fox News, did not immediately return HuffPost’s requests for comment. Hannity has come under fire in the last few days over his coverage of Moore, who was the subject of a bombshell Washington Post report Thursday detailing allegations that he had relationships and made sexual advances on teenagers while he was in his early 30s. In the most serious charge, a 14-year-old said he molested her. The report has prompted some Republican lawmakers to call on Moore to step down as the party’s nominee in Alabama’s Dec....

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GOP Tax Bill Would Trigger $25 Billion in Automatic Cuts to Medicare, Warns CBO

by Julia Conley – Senior citizens’ healthcare spending would be on the chopping block to make up for the $1.5 trillion deficit increase brought on by the House tax plan. Progressives on Tuesday urged Trump critics to voice their opposition to the tax bill that House Republicans are hoping to push through, after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that the legislation could put billions of dollars in Medicare spending in danger. Because the bill would add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, the CBO said in a letter to Congress, the government would be required to automatically cut mandatory spending should the bill pass, under “pay-as-you-go” rules, also known as PAYGO. To make up for the deficit increase, the government would have to cut $150 billion in spending every year for the next decade. Under PAYGO, Medicare spending could legally be cut by up to four...

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Breitbart Goes to Bat for Roy Moore Amid Accusations He Sexually Assaulted Teenage Girl

by Jake Johnson – Breitbart’s piece on the accusations more closely resembled a “press release” for Moore than a news story, argued one journalist Minutes before the Washington Post on Thursday published a bombshell report detailing allegations by a woman who claims Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 14, the Steve Bannon-directed outlet Breitbart News ran a story that spotlighted Moore’s denials of the claims against him and attempted to “undermine the Post‘s credibility.” “The story detailed some of the allegations, but with a distinct twist,” notes Business Insider‘s Maxwell Tani. “Breitbart included five paragraphs of denials from Moore, which were placed above many of the details of the allegations.” Headlined “After Endorsing Democrat in Alabama, Bezos’s Washington Post Plans to Hit Roy Moore with Allegations of Inappropriate Relations with Teenagers; Judge Claims Smear Campaign,” Breitbart‘s piece more closely resembles a “press release” for Moore than a news story, argued the Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake. David Uberti of Splinter News echoed Blake, calling...

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The 2017 Elections Show Criminal Justice Reform Can Be a Winning Issue

by Udi Ofer, Deputy National Political Director and Director of Campaign for Smart Justice, ACLU – On Election Day 2017, candidates in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Virginia, and New York won on platforms that proactively embraced criminal justice reform or rejected fear-mongering attempts by opponents to label them as soft-on-crime. Their victories send a strong signal to politicians running in 2018 elections that they do not need to hide from supporting issues like bail and sentencing reform, ending the death penalty, and restoring the rights of people living with a criminal record. They also represent the continuation of a shifting narrative that rejects the old tough-on-crime politics for a new approach that is rooted in civil rights and redefining community safety. Philadelphia By far the biggest criminal justice reform victory came with the election of Larry Krasner as Philadelphia’s next district attorney. Until 2010, Philadelphia had a district attorney known as America’s “Deadliest...

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One Year Later: The Political Cancer Metastasizes

by Neal Gabler – America was never what it had purported to be. One year after the election of Donald Trump, the fog finally seemed to lift and the skies brightened. On Tuesday, voters rejected Trumpism in New Jersey and in Virginia, where establishment Republican Ed Gillespie embraced Trump’s racism and nativism, indicating how deeply the president’s poison has penetrated even the precincts of the party that should be vigorously in opposition to it. In Maine, voters approved an expansion of Medicaid that their right-wing governor had rejected several times. In Washington state, Democrats won the upper house of the legislature. Meanwhile, GOP members of Congress are deserting the ship, one by one. As Steve Bannon marshals his “alt-right” forces to defeat mainstream Republicans, his primary candidates may be so far off the political spectrum next year that they could derail the Republicans’ Senate hopes. Across the board, Democratic prospects in...

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