Op-Eds

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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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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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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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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‘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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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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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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ISIL After Mosul: Insurgency and Rivalry

by Alia Brahimi – As the battle for Mosul reaches its final stages, what we are witnessing is ISIL’s transformation, not its demise. “The battle now is in the final stages,” Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi said on March 14 of the government offensive to retake Mosul from ISIL. “They are cornered, and if they will not surrender they will definitely get killed.” While the impending combat threatens to be circuitous and uncertain – involving, as it will, fighting among civilians in the narrow streets and alleyways of the Old City – Abadi’s confidence about the final outcome appears to be warranted. But what will be the broader repercussions of Mosul’s liberation for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)? Back to insurgency WATCH: More than 76,000 flee Mosul’s war zone (2:30) Firstly, on the tactical level, ISIL will continue to devolve into an insurgency –...

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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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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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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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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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Where Free Speech Ends, Ignorance Begins

by Michael Winship – At the risk of sounding like a geezer complaining about “these kids today,” back in my college days, when it came to points of view we were unhesitatingly exposed to literature, teachers and on-campus speakers covering the ideological waterfront. In one instance, the student body was addressed by civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory, radical Irish activist Bernadette Devlin and the conservative writer and critic Russell Kirk — all in the course of a week or so. Such variety was a common occurrence, and freewheeling, open discussion was encouraged. We didn’t always like or agree with a lot of what we heard or read — from time to time there were vehement protests — but all of it was invaluable. None of us were harmed in the making of our education. So I was appalled the other day when I read about the attempt by Republican...

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Death Spiral, Debunked: Facts Undercut Major Argument for GOP Healthcare Plan

by Deirdre Fulton – Republicans’ major argument to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act appears to be, well, bunk. Republicans have spun a lot of stories in their desperate attempt to sell the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare—and among their favorites is the narrative that the law is “imploding,” in a “death spiral,” or otherwise doomed to fail. There are two problems with that argument. First of all, Obamacare is not, in fact, “collapsing.” And secondly, to the extent the ACA is experiencing problems, much of the blame can be placed directly at the feet of Republicans and the insurance companies to whom they are beholden. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis released this week on the GOP’s replacement plan, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), further exposes the “death spiral” talking point as a myth: “According to the budget office,” the New York Times wrote Wednesday, “the...

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5 Things to Watch in President Trump’s Skinny Budget

by Harry Stein and Scott Nathan – President Donald Trump is preparing to release the first budget proposal of his administration. While this budget likely will only provide limited details on President Trump’s plans—thus why it is nicknamed the “skinny budget”—it will still give the American people a clear look at Trump’s policy agenda and the priorities of his new administration. The skinny budget will not address taxes, and it will only address discretionary spending, the programs that Congress funds in annual appropriation bills. Discretionary spending comprises about one-third of federal spending, and it does not include major programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In fiscal year 2018, after a two-year hiatus as a result of the 2015 budget deal, discretionary programs will once again be threatened by harsh spending caps known as sequestration. In the past, lawmakers have passed temporary bipartisan budget agreements to provide equal increases for...

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A Timeline: Russia and Trump

by STEVEN HARPER – Investigative reporters have begun to flesh out the Trump/Russia timeline. To keep everything in one location, here’s an updated summary (so far). Trump’s efforts to develop business in Russia date to 1987. In 1996, he applied for his trademark in that country. Discussing ambitions for a Trump hotel in 2007, he declared, “We will be in Moscow at some point.” 2002: Russian-born Felix H. Sater and his company, Bayrock Group — a Trump Tower tenant — began working with Trump on a series of real estate development deals, one of which became the Trump SoHo. Another development partner in Trump SoHo was the Sapir Organization, founded by Tamir Sapir, a Russian immigrant born in the Republic of Georgia who left the Soviet Union in 1973. 2005: In a sworn deposition in 2008, Sater testified that Trump gave Bayrock Group an exclusive deal to develop a...

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Paul Ryan is an Epic Failure

by Ian Millhiser – Trumpcare was a big test for Ryan, and he failed. Let’s briefly take stock of Speaker Paul Ryan’s career. Elected to Congress in 1998, Ryan spent most of his first decade as a backbencher. His most ambitious proposal in those early years was a plan to privatize Social Security that even the Bush White House labeled as “irresponsible.” Then he became the highest-ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee and, later, a committee chair. In these roles, Ryan revealed his two great talents — convincing his fellow Republicans to vote for laissez-faireproposals that had no chance of becoming law, and convincing Beltway pundits and reporters that he was some kind of policy wonk. By the time Ryan’s reputation as the conservative movement’s Great Wonk convinced presidential candidate Mitt Romney to choose Ryan as his running mate, Ryan was the primary sponsor of just two bills that actually became law. One...

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On Trump’s 2005 Tax Return, From a Tax Accountant….

by David B – I’ve read that some people would like to believe that Rachel Maddow got played.  I’ve read tonight that some people are comparing it to Al Capone’s vault.  I respectfully disagree. What we have are the first two pages of his 2005 tax returns, and Rachel put a lot of time into covering this, with my hero, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigator, David Cay Johnston, who received these pages in the mail. First, it showed us that he did earn a ridiculous amount of money that year, and that he paid taxes.  His returns from 10 years earlier show no tax paid. Here he earned and paid a lot. It showed us that he had Interest income and dividend income and it would be good to know from where. This just scratches the surface. We need the schedules, particularly Schedule D and Schedule E, pages one and 2. Line 13 shows...

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A Year of Trump’s Tax Returns Just got Leaked

by Adam Peck – Surprise! He paid a rate far lower than the one he should have. During her primetime show on Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow shared details from one year of Donald Trump’s tax returns. The document, a copy of Trump’s 1040 form from 2005 that Maddow said was obtained and shared with the network by David Cay Johnston of DCReport.org, shows that the president paid $38 million in taxes on income of more than $150 million. But as the Daily Beast reported—they too got a copy of the same tax documents—$31 million of those taxes were paid through the federal “alternative minimum tax,” which Trump has sought to repeal. The Trumps paid just $5.3 million in regular federal income tax in 2005, a rate of less than five percent. In 2005, the highest tax rate for a married couple filing jointly was 35 percent, meaning the Trumps should have been...

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What do States Owe People Who are Wrongfully Convicted?

by Scott Rodd – In April 2000, 23-year-old Floyd Bledsoe sat in an Oskaloosa, Kansas, courtroom awaiting the verdict in his first-degree murder trial in the death of his 14-year-old sister-in-law, Zetta “Camille” Arfmann. Throughout the trial, he maintained his innocence. But the jury entered the courtroom and declared him guilty. Bledsoe was sentenced to life in prison plus 16 years, but doubts about his involvement in the murder lingered. The crime scene yielded little physical evidence, and Bledsoe’s brother, Tom, 25, had originally confessed to the murder before recanting and pinning the crime on Floyd. After years of fruitless court challenges, Bledsoe was vindicated in a gut-wrenching twist: In 2015, Tom Bledsoe confessed to the murder in a suicide note before asphyxiating himself. Within a month, a judge vacated Bledsoe’s conviction and he was released from prison. The day of his release, Bledsoe recalls, was a mixture of...

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Trump Decides to Gut United Nations Funding by 50%, Embarrassing and Endangering America on the World Stage

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Donald Trump has decided to go through with his threat to defund the United Nations in retaliation for making a decision he didn’t like. America has been the foremost leader on the international stage ever since World War II. After the war, the United States led the way in creating a more united and cooperative world by founding the United Nations to serve as a peacekeeping and humanitarian organization. The United Nations headquarters in located in New York and America has veto power and a seat on the prestigious United Nations Security Council. But now Donald Trump is preparing to slash funding to the United Nations by 50 percent, a move that would be a major blow against international cooperation and our reputation around the globe. Not only will the United Nations be cut by $5 billion, Trump’s plan also makes a 37 percent cut...

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White House Analysis of TrumpCare is Worse than CBO

by databob – As bad as the CBO analysis is — I’m calling TrumpCare ‘Dead Plan Walking’ — it turns out that HHS Secretary Price lied through his teeth. Here’s what Politico is reporting: The executive branch analysis forecast that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade, versus the 24 million CBO estimate — a finding that undermines White House efforts to discredit the forecasts from the nonpartisan CBO. Seriously? Here’s what Price had to say after the CBO report came out: “So we disagree strenuously with the report that was put out. We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices they want for the coverage that they want for themselves and their families, not that the government forces them to buy,” he told reporters outside the White House. Now, we have to keep in mind that Dr. Tom is...

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Jared Kushner’s Chinese Miracle

by Judd Legum – Kushner’s family firm scores a miraculous deal with a secretive Chinese company. President Donald Trump has made his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the administration’s primary point of contact with the Chinese government. Now a Chinese firm with mysterious ownership structure and suspected ties to the Chinese government has made an “unusually favorable” deal with Kushner’s family real estate company. The deal, an investment in a Manhattan office building, includes a $400 million cash payout to Kushner Companies. The exceptional transaction between the Chinese firm, Anbang Insurance Group, and Kushner’s family has the appearance of a serious conflict: an effort to buy favor and influence with the Trump administration. In addition to being his son-in-law, Jared Kushner is one of Donald Trump’s closest and most trusted advisers. On issues of foreign policy, Kushner is widely seen as more influential than the Secretary of State. Kushner’s shell game Like his father-in-law, Jared...

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If Scotland Leaves, England Will Lose the Brexit Game

by Alastair Sloan – Should Scotland and N Ireland leave the UK after Brexit, the term ‘Little England’ will really come into its own. The union that binds together the four countries within the United Kingdom has never been more at risk. What nobody in the English political and media class seems to have realised is how badly England will fare if Scotland, which is more than likely, and Northern Ireland, which is plausible though by no means certain, split off. It will be the end of England – the dominant power of the UK, when the term “Little England” will really come into its own. Almost exactly two and a half years ago, the Scottish electorate decided against leaving the UK. They were told by pro-union campaigners that if they did vote to leave Britain, they would lose their membership of the European Union. At the time this was probably...

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Tortured and Wrongly Held at Guantánamo for 14 Years, Abdul Zahir Now Has Freedom, but No Justice

by Adam Hudson, Truthout | Report – Before Barack Obama left office, he released 10 detainees from Guantánamo to Oman. Among them was Abdul Zahir, a 45-year-old man from Afghanistan. Zahir was detained at Guantánamo for 14 years, even though the US government later admitted that he was wrongfully held. He was mistaken for another man who shared his nickname, Abdul Bari. Zahir’s story exemplifies the cruelty of Guantánamo and the policies of indefinite detention and torture, which will, in all likelihood, continue with Trump as president. “I want to leave behind the bad things that happened to me while I have been imprisoned. I want to focus on the positive things ahead of me, seeing my family again, studying at university and perhaps being able to help others,” Zahir said, according a press release provided by his lawyers before he left Guantánamo. Zahir has three sons and speaks Arabic, Pashto and some Urdu,...

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Trump’s China Trademarks Violate the Constitution

by Dave Johnson – During the campaign Donald Trump pledged that “on day one” as president, he would label China a currency manipulator. Then he didn’t. Then China granted Trump’s businesses lucrative trademarks he has been seeking. Coincidence? “On Day One“ On the campaign trail, Trump repeated again and again that if elected president he would label China a currency manipulator “on day one.” For example, in an August, 2016 speech in Tampa, he outlined a seven-point plan that included this promise: I am going to instruct my Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator… Any country that devalues their currency in order to take unfair advantage of the United States will face tariffs to stop the cheating. China’s currency manipulation has often brought the “price” of their currency down, which means things made in China cost less in international markets than things made in the U.S. Of course, the U.S....

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Frightbart

by TODD GITLIN – The view from Steve Bannon’s propaganda site will scare the bejeezus out of you, which is its point.   The home page of Breitbart.com, the quasi-official voice of Steve Bannon’s White House, is a virtual stew of menace, a pit of monsters, an unending onslaught of apocalyptic horsemen rearing up at full gallop, coming straight at you, drawing closer…. But what the Breitbart reader is not being warned against is poisoned water, eviction, a melting glacier, a rising sea, a pauper’s grave, a burning cross, a bank swindle or a loss of medical care. Those are the kind of fears that afflict liberal wimps brainwashed by “the enemy of the people.” A Breitbart reader quivers, all right, hunkered down in the safe spaces of Fortress America while enemies gather outside the gates. But what he or she needs protection from is, to take a recent dozen, (1)...

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This Weekend saw Massive Town Hall Protests Against Trumpcare and Trump (VIDEO)

by Josh Israel – California Republicans Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter Jr. faced angry constituents, while Virginia’s Barbara Comstock bravely ran away. On Saturday, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-CA) became the latest Republican legislators to be read the riot act by constituents who are furious about Donald Trump’s administration and his Trumpcare plan. At two gatherings on Saturday, Issa faced about 1,000 people at an Oceanside, California, community center. According to media reports, “hecklers often interrupted what they said were long-winded non-answers” and audience members jeered when Issa dismissed the Affordable Care act as “Obamacare” and claimed it is “not affordable.” Recognizing that the crowd was not happy with his answers or his support of Trump’s agenda, Issa told the audience, “I don’t mind that things are contentious. I just don’t want things to end like the play Hamilton.” (Spoiler: The show ends with a fatal duel.) One...

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From Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump

by César Chelala, Orlando Garcia – Increasingly, members of the psychiatric profession are expressing their concern about President Donald Trump mental health status. In a recent letter to the New York Times, two prestigious psychiatrists, Judith L. Herman and Robert Jay Lifton seriously question his grasp of reality and say, “Soon after the election, one of us raised concerns about Donald Trump’s fitness for office, based on the alarming symptoms of mental instability he had shown during his campaign. Since then, this concern has grown. Even within the space of a few weeks, the demands of the presidency have magnified his erratic patterns of behavior.” They are clear that they are not making a diagnosis but just expressing their concern, saying, “We are in no way offering a psychiatric diagnosis, which would be unwise to attempt from a distance. Nevertheless, as psychiatrists we feel obliged to express our alarm. We fear...

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The “Freedom Cities” Campaign: Resistance Through Progress at the Local Level

by Ronald Newman – On Saturday night, people at more than 2,200 events around the nation tuned in for the inaugural event of People Power, a new platform harnessing nationwide grassroots resistance to the Trump administration’s assault on our Constitution and our values. At the event, we announced “Freedom Cities,” a campaign that provides a concrete plan for the People Power team to play offense in cities and towns across the country. WATCH THE RECORDING Even before “Freedom Cities,” our grassroots activism has borne fruit, as evidenced by the incredible protests around the country that brought defeat to President Trump’s first attempt to ban Muslims and refugees. We will resist with equal strength Muslim Ban 2.0, along with any other unconstitutional and un-American policies that flow from the White House. While we resist, however, we must also play offense, and work to paint a picture of the type of country we...

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Where’s Tillerson? Secretary of State Ducking Press Amid Reports of Being Sidelined

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘Your decision to travel without reporters sends a dangerous signal to other countries about the U.S. commitment to freedom of the press.’ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will embark on his first trip to Asia next week, visiting Japan, South Korea, and China. In what some journalists are calling an unprecedented move, he will not travel with members of the press. “Not only does this situation leave the public narrative of the meetings up to the Chinese foreign ministry as well as Korea’s and Japan’s, but it gives the American people no window whatsoever into the views and actions of the nation’s leaders,” a dozen Washington bureau chiefs from major news organizations wrote in a letter to the State Department earlier this week. CNN‘s Brian Stelter reported: On Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed that Tillerson was looking to save money by taking a smaller...

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Unfairness in Class Action: A New Attack on Civil Rights

by Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza – President Donald Trump’s budget proposal may eliminate the single greatest funder of civil legal aid in the United States, the Legal Services Corporation—a long-standing goal of Vice President Mike Pence. At the same time, Congress is working to block Americans from seeking justice on their own with the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017. This bill was drafted to address an imaginary problem; if it passes, it will have very real, devastating consequences. For those who face systemic corporate abuses and failures of government, class action lawsuits are a critical tool for seeking justice. Through a class action, a few people or organizations can represent a larger group that has been harmed in a lawsuit against the perpetrator to seek a remedy, whether a change in practices or monetary damages. Actions that aim to force actors to change their behavior—for example, to follow the law...

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Muhammad Ali’s Family Takes to Capitol Hill to Oppose Trump’s ‘Insulting’ Muslim Ban

by Lindsay Gibbs – “Someone needs to turn the humanity switch on.” Last month, Muhammad Ali Jr. and Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the son and ex-wife of the late Muhammad Ali, were detained by immigration officers for several hours at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on their way back from Jamaica and questioned explicitly about their religion. On Thursday afternoon, the devout Muslims — both of whom are U.S. citizens and had all the proper documentation with them while traveling — spoke about this experience at a House of Representatives forum on Capitol Hill. “I was so violated,” Camacho-Ali, the second wife of the boxing legend and mother of four of his children, said. “This is not acceptable. I’ve never felt this uncomfortable being in this country.” The mother and son had no qualms tying their experience directly to President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, the executive order — now in its second iteration — banning nationals from several majority-Muslim countries and preventing all...

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Decades of Exoneration Stats Show Blacks More Likely to Be Wrongfully Convicted

by Scott Shackford – Everything from official misconduct to bad eyewitness identifications to false confessions played roles. National Registry of Exonerations America saw another record year for the number of prisoners being exonerated, according to the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of University of California Irvine Newkirk Center for Science & Society, University of Michigan Law School, and Michigan State University College of Law. For 2016, 166 people were exonerated of crimes and released from prison, 52 of them for murder. Of all the exonerations, 70 cases involved official misconduct of some sort, and in 74 of the cases, convictions came from guilty pleas. And in 94 cases (also a record) it turned out that no actual crime occurred at all. These were mostly drug cases but also some child sex abuse cases. Most famously, the San Antonio Four, four women convicted in 1998 in a fabricated satanic child sex abuse...

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Trump and Pence were Warned About Michael Flynn’s Lobbying, but now Claim They Never Knew

by Mark Sumner – It’s not immigrants who need “extreme vetting,” it’s members of the Trump regime. Not only do they have numerous ties to Russian oligarchs, mob figures, and shady investment schemes (and that’s just Trump) apparently no one even bothers to check on what they did for a living. On Thursday, Donald Trump claimed he didn’t know that Michael Flynn had formerly worked as an agent of Turkey. President Donald Trump was not aware that his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had worked to further the interests of the government of Turkey before appointing him, the White House said Thursday. That Flynn had worked for multiple interests in Turkey was common knowledge, but common knowledge, like common sense, doesn’t matter with the chaos corps. And now Mike Pence is shocked—shocked—to find out what pretty much anyone who bothered to read an article about Flynn already knew. In an interview with...

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Senate Must Demand Answers About Gorsuch’s Work for Scandal-Plagued DoJ

by Billy Corriher and Michele L. Jawando – After Judge James Robart halted Donald Trump’s first travel ban, the president “lashe out” at him and suggested that his ruling was somehow illegitimate. Stephen Miller, a White House adviser, said on television that the president’s executive orders “will not be questioned.” The courts are charged with interpreting the Constitution, including the limits on executive power, but the president does not seem to accept this fundamental principle. With these constitutional questions looming, President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Some have asked for more information about Gorsuch’s work for the U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, in 2005 and 2006, at a time when the agency faced alarming scandals involving abuse of power. At his confirmation hearing on March 20, Gorsuch should be asked about his work at the DOJ. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)...

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Meet the Republicans Who Oppose Trumpcare

by Zack Ford – For some it goes too far; for others, it doesn’t go far enough. House Republicans have finally unveiled their plan to undo Obamacare, but not all congressional Republicans are on board with the controversial new plan. For some, the plan is still too liberal. Members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus of 170 House conservatives, prepared an analysis critiquing the plan with “major concerns” that it’s too similar to Obamacare. For example, the RSC memo objects to the fact that the plan extends Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion for three years. This, it argues, “will contribute to the worsening of the federal and state budgets” and will leave “the federal government picking up the majority of the bill.” These members simply do not want the federal government spending money to help the lowest-income Americans afford health coverage. In fact, they chide supporters of the plan for allowing the Medicaid...

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To Former Residents of Autocracies, Trump Looks Uncomfortably Familiar

by Justin Salhani – He’s not a dictator. But he is “radical” and “alarming.” Said Nuri grew up in a political family in Azerbaijan. Ever since President Ilham Aliyev took over the Caspian nation in 2003, Nuri’s family has been in the opposition. “I grew up in that atmosphere, so when I went to university, I became actively involved in politics. And in 2004 I started my own political movement,” Nuri told ThinkProgress by telephone from Chicago, where he now lives as a U.S. citizen. “In 2005, we became really popular, so the government cracked down on us.” Nuri was arrested in September of that year and released two months later on a five year house arrest sentence. Seeing the increase in authoritarianism at home, he made his way to the U.S. embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, and immigrated to the United States via Moscow. He has since traveled back to...

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Pruitt Promised He’d Tackle CO2 But Now Plays Dumb on Climate Science

by Nika Knight – ‘The arsonist is now in charge of the fire department, and he seems happy to let the climate crisis burn out of control.’ \Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt made heads turn on CNBC Thursday morning when he argued against decades of scientific consensus and said that carbon dioxide emissions aren’t a primary driver of global warming. In doing so, Pruitt directly opposed his own statements to the U.S. Senate. (This wouldn’t be the first time that Pruitt lied to or misled Congress.) In his answer to a question on the record (pdf, page 122) from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Pruitt wrote: “I also believe the Administrator has an important role when it comes to the regulation of carbon dioxide, which I will fulfill consistent with Massachusetts v. EPA and the agency’s Endangerment Finding on Greenhouse Gases respective of the applicable statutory framework established by Congress.”...

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Paul Ryan’s Health Insurance Seminar Proves One Thing: He has no Idea How Insurance Works

by News Corpse – Thursday morning Republicans rolled out a presentation of their long-awaited alternative to the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). It came in the form of a lecture by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He stood before the class and gave a PowerPoint aided speech that supposedly spelled out everything you might need to know about the GOP plan. There was just one problem. Well actually, way more than one. But in the broadest terms the single most problematic part of Ryan’s lecture was that it made no sense whatsoever. It failed to address how it would cover everyone who is presently covered. There were no financing specifics to explain how it would be funded. But the most prominent flaw in his presentation was that it revealed that he has no idea what insurance is. Nor does he have any notion of how it works. Ryan summed up...

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Majority of Voters: Special Prosecutor Needed to Probe Alleged Trump Campaign-Russia Ties

by Andrea Germanos – Fifty-seven percent back special prosecutor, new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows. A majority of registered voters are in favor having a special prosecutor investigate potential ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign aides and Kremlin officials, a Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday shows. Fifty-seven percent say they are in favor of such a probe, compared to 31 percent who say they are not. Thirteen percent say they don’t know or don’t have an opinion on the matter. The online poll of 1,992 registered voters was conducted from March 2—when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his recusal from federal investigations into such potential interference—to March 6. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. As to whether Russia influenced the outcome of the 2106 presidential elections, the results are more evenly divided: 41 percent say it did, compared to 42 percent who say it did...

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Drug Industry CEOs are Profiting off Our Opioid Epidemic

by SARAH ANDERSON – A labor leader whose son was a victim of the opioid epidemic has inspired a campaign to crack down on these pain profiteers. Travis Bornstein never told his friends about his son Tyler’s drug problem. He was too embarrassed. Then, on September 28, 2014, Tyler’s body was found in a vacant lot in Akron, Ohio. The 23-year-old had become addicted to opioid pain killers after several sports-related injuries and surgeries. Unable to afford long-term treatment, he ultimately turned to a cheaper drug — the heroin that killed him. “Now I have no choice but to speak out,” the elder Bornstein, president of Teamsters Local 24 in Akron, told a crowd of thousands at the union’s convention in July 2016. As he proceeded to share the unvarnished tale of how a middle class, star athlete had wound up in that vacant lot, Bornstein lit a fire under the 1.4-million-member...

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mr. Donald J. Trump

by Michael Winship – A stroll through this past weekend’s craziness tells us more than we care to know about the state of the presidential mind. Assume for a moment, as many have suggested, that the whole Trump/Putin/Russia calamity is a deliberate distraction, a deflection to shift our gaze from the destruction of government and democratic principles that Trump, Bannon and their cohort — aided and abetted by a compliant Congress — seem intent on implementing. What then to make of this weekend’s flurry of tweets from our commander-in-chief, first bellowing that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in Manhattan and then demanding a congressional investigation? A distraction from a distraction? Or worse? CNN’s Jake Tapper succinctly summed it up in a Sunday morning tweet of his own: Jake Tapper  ✔@jaketapper POTUS makes wild accusation w/zero evidence WH searches for evidence & cant find any WH tells Congress to find evidence/no further...

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This Program has Saved Taxpayers Hundreds of Billions of Dollars. The GOP Wants to Cut it

by Samantha Page – The Energy Star efficiency program costs less than .001 percent of the DoD budget. As the federal government braces for the administration’s so-called “skinny budget,” expected late next week, rumors of what, exactly, will be cut keep circulating. Among the programs reported to be on the Trump administration’s chopping block: the popular, cheap, effective Energy Star consumer labeling program from the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. The United States spends about $57 million a year on the Energy Star efficiency standards program. Under Energy Star, scientists create guidelines and test new consumer goods for efficiency — new washing machines, for instance. The programs most recently launched standard is for electric vehicle chargers, which gives some sense of how far-ranging and modern this program is. It’s also a huge money-saver. Since it was established in the 1990s, the Energy Star program has saved U.S. consumers some $360 billion, mostly...

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Dan Rather Just Took Republicans To The Woodshed For Horrible Healthcare Bill

by Stephen D Foster Jr – This is what legendary newsman Dan Rather thinks about Trumpcare, and it’s an EPIC ass-kicking. On Monday, House Republicans officially passed a bill they dubiously refer to as the “American Healthcare Act, except that is neither American nor is it healthcare. Instead, this bill repeals the Affordable Care Act, which strips tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance coverage while raising the cost of care significantly. The bill does nothing to cover more people and does not improve healthcare one iota. Yet Trump has praised this piece of shit bill as “wonderful.” Dan Rather disagrees and wrote a scathing post on Facebook calling out Republicans and Trump for screwing over the American people. “For seven years we’ve been hearing from Republicans about how horrible Obamacare was, and this was the best they could come up with?” Rather wrote. “A rush job that doesn’t...

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When the Supreme Court Stopped a Government-Led Attack on Freedom of the Press

by Damon Root – Revisiting a landmark First Amendment case.   In 1934 the Louisiana legislature passed a law requiring all newspapers, magazines, and periodicals with a circulation of 20,000 or more to pay an annual licensing tax of 2 percent on all gross receipts “for the privilege of engaging in such business in this State.” Ostensibly justified as just another run-of-the-mill tax, the measure’s true purpose was plain for all to see. The governor at that time was the notorious populist demagogue Huey P. Long, also known as the “Kingfish.” The Long administration was famously rife with corruption and criminality and the state’s biggest newspapers just happened to be some of the governor’s most outspoken critics. So the Kingfish told his allies in the legislature to use the state’s vast taxing powers to harass and punish his enemies in the press. The American Press Company, along with eight other newspaper...

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Trump Takes Credit for Exxon Jobs Investment that Began Four Years Ago (VIDEO)

by Bryce Covert – One of the plants is already built. On Tuesday, Exxon announced that it will spend $20 billion over the course of a decade at 11 proposed and existing refining and chemical manufacturing sites. In the process, the company anticipates adding more than 45,000 jobs. President Trump wasted no time in taking credit, even releasing a statement the same hour that copied many of Exxon’s own sentences and an entire paragraph word for word. “President Trump made a promise to bring back jobs to America,” the White House statement said. “The spirit of optimism sweeping the country is already boosting job growth, and it is only the beginning.” In a Facebook video, Trump went further to take credit for the announcement. “This is something that was done to a large extent because of our policies and the policies of this new administration,” he said. “I said we’re bringing back jobs,...

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What is the Alt-Right and What Does it Stand For? (VIDEOS)

by Patrick Strickland – Examining the alt-right’s ideological and historical origins, its internal divisions and what to expect from it now. Although largely confined to websites, online media forums and social media, the alternative right, or alt-right, came into the spotlight during the US election campaign and appears to have been energised by Donald Trump’s electoral victory. In November, media attention honed in on the alt-right when, during a speech at the National Policy Institute Conference in Washington DC, white nationalist Richard Spencer chanted “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” as the audience gave Nazi-like salutes. Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist who is on the National Security Council, was previously the executive chair of the far-right Breitbart News blog, which he has described as the “platform for the alt-right” – although they were late to champion it and many alt-right supporters describe them as “alt-light”. But what is the alt-right? Media distrust...

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20 Editorials (so far) Calling for a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Trump-Russia Connections

by RandomNonviolence – Members of the Trump administration keep lying about their mysterious connections to Russia. Donald Trump refuses to release his tax returns or the financial books for the Trump Organization that might provide clarity. And Republicans in Congress refuse to seriously investigate. Clearly something unsavory is going on, so a growing chorus of newspaper editorial boards are now calling for an independent investigation. Here are 20 of those editorials: New York Times, Editorial: When One President Smears Another … His accusation is so sensational — so explosive if it turned out to have some basis in fact and so corrosive if not — that Congress has no credible option but to convene a bipartisan select committee to investigate all questions related to Russian interference in the election. And if Mr. Trump has confidence in his claim, he should have no reluctance about the appointment of an independent counsel to get to...

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How the Media Normalized Trump’s Mental Illness and Put Democracy at Risk

by Socdoc216 – Over the course of his life Donald Trump has exhibited innumerable behaviors demonstrating that he is malevolently aggressive, unbounded by conscience, incapable of recognizing truth or reality, highly erratic and selfish, and in possession of an excessively inflated ego.  For decades the public has been informed of Trump’s behavior, often portrayed as an entertaining but harmless “bad boy” by a news media that had, in large part (but with notable exceptions) morphed into an “infotainment” industry primarily motivated not by its democratic mission to inform the public, but by the profit motive.  This morphing has stymied the ability of the general US population to easily obtain basic factual news, but it has in no way nullified the ability of the infotainment industry to influence the public’s perception of reality.  A noteworthy example of this was the constant, unwarranted mainstream media coverage of Trump previous to and early in...

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These are the People Who Will Suffer Under Trumpcare

by Casey Quinlan – Women, low-income people, and the elderly will all feel the effects of the American Healthcare Act. House Republicans introduced a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act on Monday that will hurt the country’s most vulnerable populations. The American Healthcare Act would phase out Medicaid expansion under the ACA, gets rid of the individual mandate, charges a 30 percent premium surcharge to people without continuous coverage in the individual market, and defunds Planned Parenthood. Americans most affected by this plan are women, low-income people, the elderly, and people with mental illnesses — but it’s likely that all Americans will lose out under this plan. Women Under the American Healthcare Act, Planned Parenthood is barred from using federal funding for family planning and Americans would not be able to use their tax credits to help them pay for plans that include abortion services. This would leave low-income women to pay...

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