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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 11,575

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Did McConnell Put Warren Right Where He Wants Her?

Senate GOP boss elevates left‘s hero, maybe because she‘s not strongest 2020 Democratic option

Sure, he’s a really buttoned-down guy working to prevent the Senate from getting totally bottled-up, but there are solid reasons to suspect Mitch McConnell wants a “Nevertheless, she persisted” hoodie as much as anyone.

The majority leader is obviously much more Brooks Brothers than Raygun. Still, he may well realize that his latest grandmaster move in the never-ending game of electoral chess requires ditching the rep stripe tie in favor of some printed-on-demand slogan swag.

After all, what would Machiavelli wear?
This is a counterintuitive view.

Conventional wisdom is the Kentucky Republican bungled things really badly this week, delivering an enormous public relations gift to the Democratic Party and one of its most prominent voices by having the Senate kick Elizabeth Warren out of the debate on confirming Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

[Warren Blocked From Speaking During Sessions Confirmation Debate]

This view was buttressed by McConnell’s mansplaining tone — “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted” — that spawned a thousand T-shirts and threatens to magnify a gender gap rooted in the view of GOP leaders as inherently sexist and out of touch with women voters.

More: http://www.rollcall.com/news/hawkings/mitch-mcconnell-elizabeth-warren-strategy?utm_content=bufferd6531&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer


INVESTIGATIONS Cenk Uygur Exposes James O'Keefe

He's a Walking, Living Troll'
The "Young Turks" host weighs in on Project Veritas' big scheme to humiliate the media.


The news was not lost on "The Young Turks" host Cenk Uygur.

"How sad that the president of the United States of America is calling these low-level trolls," Uygur remarked. "But that's because they are part of the Republican machine... they killed ACORN... a group that helped poor people with legal issues, health issues, and yes, voting issues, and that's why they were politically targeted—to make sure that they didn't get poor people to vote because Republicans think [the poor] vote more for Democrats. And the media went along with it, gave it tremendous coverage. Some Democrats [even] went along with it, and [Project Veritas] actually had a real political effect. Now they've got the ear of the president!"

Footage captured by TYT shows O'Keefe announcing his plans to "humiliate" the media, with hundreds of hours of newsroom audio allegedly in his possession.

"Now, I understand that it's ironic here, that we're giving you coverage of Project Veritas," Uygur acknowledged. "But that's because we have these exclusive tapes to show you their intention."

"Whatever you do, do not take these guys seriously," he pressed. "They're walking, living trolls... they never break real news, they always have a political agenda, and it doesn't have anything to do with actual facts."

Video and link:

bannon Takes Control -While Trump lies, the former Breitbart chief seizes the reins of power.

While the liberal comedians and right-wing pundits agitate themselves about crowd sizes, odd tweets and imaginary voter fraud, Politico and the Hill supply some data points about the all-important paper flow in Washington. Steve Bannon, the former Goldman Sachs executive-turned-Breitbart news chief, is running the government, while the president argues with actresses.

Politico reports that the executive orders Trump has been signing were prepared and coordinated by Bannon. Various Cabinet secretaries and congressional leaders were not consulted, according to the story. Such procedural corner-cutting is not inconsequential when it comes to spending $25 billion of taxpayer funds or running the CIA.

But whatever the eventual costs, the current reality seems to be that Bannon—not his White House rivals, chief of staff Reince Priebus or Vice President Mike Pence—decides what piece of paper gets put in front of Donald Trump's pen.

The Breitbartization of the White House comes as no surprise to people at the conservative news site.



CLOCK on the front page and a Clock counting days to next President elections?

It would help to make us more determined

11 Facts That Matter Even More Now That Donald Trump Is President

Like it or not, Donald Trump just officially completed his transformation from billionaire businessman, reality TV star and old man yelling on Twitter to 45th president of the United States.....

There’s a lot to say about how this happened. Was it racism or economic anxiety? Sexism or anti-establishment rage? Out-of-touch liberals or a low-information electorate? An awful miscalculation by Hillary Clinton’s campaign or Russian hacking? The answer to all of these questions is yes.

“There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts,” said Scottie Nell Hughes, responding to baseless conspiracy theories claiming millions of people had illegally cast ballots in the election.

That is, fortunately, total bullshit. Trump may have shaken many people’s confidence in the power of objective truth over deception and ignorance. But facts still exist, and they still matter ― now more than ever.

So as we prepare for the next four (or however many) years, let’s all get a few facts straight. We may not all agree on the best way to deal with the realities below, but we should at least acknowledge they exist and demand the same of President Trump.

1. There has been no proven link between vaccines and autism.

Lots of people, including Trump himself, have expressed concern that routine vaccinations are leading to increased rates of autism in children. There is no factual basis for this belief.

But anti-vaxxers don’t need hard proof. Driven by a potent distrust in institutions, they allege that government agencies have colluded with Big Pharma to suppress evidence that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative once widely used in vaccines, is harmful to kids. Numerous large-scale scientific studies have found no evidence to support this conspiratorial claim, and have instead concluded that thimerosal is safe.

Much of the anti-vaxxer alarm has been based on a now-debunked 1998 study published by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield in The Lancet, a medical journal. His research purported to have found links between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. But Wakefield was later accused of fabricating data after it was revealed that he’d been compensated by attorneys representing families suing MMR vaccine manufacturers. The Lancet retracted his study in 2010, and Britain’s General Medical Council later revoked his medical license.

It’s unclear whether Trump will take a fact-based approach on the issue of vaccines, however. Earlier this month, he met with vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who said that he’d been tapped to lead a new commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity.” The Trump campaign later said it hadn’t made any decisions about forming a commission. But Trump’s decision to seek input from Kennedy has already led to fears in the medical community ― and among reasonable people everywhere ― that the incoming president could be willing to ignore settled science and put the health of millions of American children at risk.

Trump broke modern precedent by refusing to make this basic financial disclosure during his campaign. At a press conference last week, he suggested he won’t change his mind now that he’s in the White House. Trump has repeatedly pointed to an ongoing IRS audit as the reason he’s avoided releasing his tax documents, while also maintaining we’d find nothing in them if given the chance.

Ethics experts say nothing is preventing him from releasing his tax returns, and the filings could provide essential insight into his business dealings with Russia and other foreign nations, his use of various federal tax loopholes and his actual wealth. Maybe there really is nothing to see there. If that’s the case, many people would find value in at least knowing for sure that their president isn’t compromised in any way. Instead, Trump will face a persistent skepticism that is entirely his own doing.

And contrary to what Trump has claimed, this does bother the American public. Surveys have shown a majority of Americans believe it’s Trump’s responsibility to release his tax returns, though a Pew survey conducted earlier this month found that only 38 percent of Republicans still feel that way.

3. Trump will benefit financially from his company’s success while he serves as president.

Trump has rejected calls to sell his stake in his companies and put the proceeds from the sale into a blind trust for the duration of his presidency. Ethics experts have told HuffPost that this is the one surefire way Trump could address ethics issues surrounding the Trump Organization and its global hotel operations.

By ignoring these concerns, Trump is defying another presidential precedent:

At Trump’s press conference earlier this month, his lawyer explained that while Trump wouldn’t separate himself from his business, he would “donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury.” Those donations are tax deductible, however, and experts say this arrangement does nothing to guarantee that Trump’s bottom line won’t get a boost from his presidency.

4. Russian aggression has been ramping up, and it’s not a joke.

Golden shower jokes and “shirtless Vladimir Putin” on “Saturday Night Live” are fun and all, but it’s hard to laugh while watching a U.S. president gleefully prepare to cede ground to an autocrat intent on disrupting U.S. influence in the global arena.

In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and seized part of its territory. It continues to support separatist rebels there who are linked to the downing of a commercial airliner that killed almost 300 people. Despite this, Trump promised in an interview last year that Putin is “not going to go into Ukraine.” He later attempted to clarify that he meant that if he became president, he would prevent further Russian incursions into the region. So far, however, Trump has seemed more interested in cozying up to Putin than in policing his actions.

This bromance could lead to wide-ranging policy changes in the coming months. Some will have immediate consequences. Trump must decide how to act in Syria, where Putin has aligned with President Bashar Assad in a bloody response to a peaceful uprising that has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. If Trump dismisses the war crimes accusations lofted at Assad as an acceptable consequence of Syria and Russia’s fight against the so-called Islamic State group, the ongoing humanitarian crisis will likely continue and Syria will become even more fertile ground for terrorist recruitment.

Trump has also repeatedly criticized NATO, suggesting member nations bordering Russia need to “pay up” (which many of them already do) in order to get the assurances the treaty affords. A diminished U.S. commitment to NATO would leave Russia with a greater ability to bully former Soviet Union nations. While many in those countries favor closer cooperation with the West, Putin wants to keep them in Russia’s historic sphere of influence.

6. Immigrants are not to blame for our problems.

Trump launched his presidential campaign with a riff about Mexico supposedly “sending” illegal immigrants across the border to bring crime, drugs and rape to the U.S. It was an effective dog whistle, but a strange claim considering net migration from Mexico has remained below zero for several years, meaning more people have been crossing back into Mexico than into the U.S. illegally. The data also show that illegal border crossings have been at or near historic lows in the past few years, though crises in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have sparked a wave of migration, with Border Patrol reporting apprehensions of hundreds of thousands of families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the U.S.

But there’s a broader anti-immigrant tone to rhetoric like Trump’s. Many of his supporters have accused undocumented immigrants ― and in many cases, immigrants in general ― of committing crimes and taking jobs from Americans, while simultaneously branding them as a net drain on society.

Trump helped push this narrative during the election by campaigning with the families of victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. He’s followed up with a vow to deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented “criminals,” despite the fact that the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute estimates the total number of undocumented immigrants with criminal records at only 820,000 ― a figure that includes crimes as petty as traffic violations.

The tragedies among these cases appear to be outliers. Studies have shown that new immigrants — including those who are undocumented — are less or equally likely to commit crimes than their natural-born counterparts.

A separate report published last year found that immigrants had “little to no negative effects on overall wages and employment of native-born workers in the longer term.” It also concluded that while first-generation immigrants may initially cost governments more in services than they contribute in taxes, they make huge positive financial contributions by the second and third generation.

7. The unemployment rate is as low as it’s been in the past nine years.

8. Climate change is real.

This story dropped on Wednesday, two days before Trump’s inauguration.

2016 marked the 40th consecutive year of above-average global temperatures in more than a century of record keeping. The planet keeps getting hotter, Arctic sea ice keeps melting, glaciers keep retreating, oceans keep getting warmer and more acidic, sea levels keep rising and extreme weather events keep growing more common.

The scientific consensus on the cause of these changes is overwhelming: 97 percent of the scientists who have published articles on climate attribute it primarily to humans, who have pumped a truly astonishing amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They also agree that world leaders need to take drastic steps to cut back on emissions and begin addressing this near-constant rise in global temperature before it’s too late.

9. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has given health insurance to 20 million Americans.

Health care reform was a signature achievement of Obama’s presidency, and while the controversial law has had its fair share of detractors, it’s also produced tangible results. The ranks of the uninsured have dropped by 20 million since 2010, according to a report published by the Department of Health and Human Services last year, and the national uninsured rate is now the lowest ever recorded.

Obamacare isn’t perfect. Insurance premiums have risen for many Americans, in some cases substantially. Millions of others remain uninsured due to various gaps in coverage, made worse by Republican governors who have refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

10. Trump did not win the popular vote.

According to the final vote tally, 65,844,610 people cast ballots for Clinton, compared with 62,979,636 for Trump. Clinton’s popular vote win is purely symbolic, as Trump won the Electoral College vote 304-227. Clinton finished with the largest margin of victory in raw numbers for any presidential candidate who went on to lose the election. Contrary to Trump’s claims, there is no evidence that widespread voter fraud affected the vote totals.

Trump’s weaker performance in the popular vote doesn’t make him an illegitimate president, as some of his critics have suggested. But on the heels of the most divisive presidential campaign in modern history, it’s clear that Trump has his work cut out for him. Nearly 66 million people voted for Trump’s opponent, and many of them cast ballots not only in favor of Clinton but explicitly against Trump’s candidacy, which they saw as empowering racism, sexism and intolerance.

If Trump truly wants to be a president for all Americans, he’s going to have to take the concerns of his opponents into consideration. He cannot expect his opponents to simply shut up and blindly fall in line behind their new president just because he won.

The president’s approval rating has trended downward since Election Day, and a poll released this week showed that 48 percent ― nearly half ― of Americans had a negative view of Trump as he prepared for his inauguration. Just 38 percent of Americans viewed him positively. Additionally, 52 percent said they disapproved of the way the president-elect handled his transition, compared with just 44 percent who approved. Other polls showed even lower approval ratings.

Those numbers are unprecedented in the modern era. The same poll, taken in early 2009, showed Obama with a 71 percent approval rating in the run-up to his first inauguration. Obama’s approval rating upon leaving office also hovered above Trump’s, in the mid-50s.

Watching Trump’s presidential honeymoon end before the actual nuptials may be cause for schadenfreude, but that’s not the point. These polls should remind Trump that he’s accountable to the American public and that his actions as president will have serious, often immediate, consequences. Instead, he’s chosen to reject the premise of approval polls entirely.

If Trump refuses to heed public opinion and accept that it reflects the nation’s support for him as a leader, we’re going to have a rough couple of years ahead.

READ FUll article:

The Agenda People Power - the rise of Populism

People Power
It’s the force that is reshaping our world – from the streets of Turin to Silicon Valley. With frustrations rising and the old order apparently crumbling who really has the answers?


Week 9: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you...

A blog writer is keeping track:


This was not a good week for our country: this is the longest, and most troubling list. I want to note that the purpose of the authoritarian list is to highlight subtle changes, and so business as usual, as upsetting as it may be — like the GOP’s attempt to repeal the ACA — are not covered. Again, this is a list that is not meant to be partisan, but rather to capture changes in the fabric of our country, so we can refer back, and recall what used to be normal and acceptable.

In Trump Nation, healing is overrated

Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do.’’ — Donald J. Trump
At inauguration time, magnanimity usually prevails. Winners reach out to losers and a brief honeymoon ensues. But many Trump supporters say there’s little this president-elect can, should, or probably will do to mollify Hillary Clinton supporters.

Erwin Jackson, a Tallahassee, Fla., landlord, says political healing is overrated anyway: “I’m not worried about people who are disappointed. I’m excited. The Democrats are in denial. Healing is something they’re gonna have to work out on their own.’’

Pat Acciavatti, a retired excavating company owner in St. Clair Township, Mich., agrees: “When Obama won, and when Bill Clinton won, I just shut up, hung my head and took my medicine. I wasn’t protesting in the street.


Republicans to skip Obama inaugural, head out of town FROM Jan 19 2013

A look back at history:
“It’s a good time to lay low,” said John Feehery, the president of Quinn Gillespie Communications and a former top congressional aide.

As Democrats prepare to mark Obama’s second inauguration on Monday by bundling up along the parade route or donning party gowns or tuxedos, Republicans are spending the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend with quick vacation getaways, quiet time at home or trips to the movie theater.

Few plan any “mourning parties” or “bawls” that have been the staples of past inaugural festivities for the party out of power. But invites to pricey balls and swanky soirees tend to be scarce if your candidate lost and watching television provides a constant reminder of November’s elections.

“Invitations must have gotten lost in the mail!” former Romney adviser Ed Gillespie wrote in an email saying he had no major plans for the weekend.

What The Trump Era Will Feel Like: Clues From Populist Regimes Around The World

This column is about what life will be like under Trump, based on discernible patterns in other countries where populists gained power, especially those with possible murky Russian ties. I write this not as the kind of airy opiner now ubiquitous via the internet – just one more shrill partisan voice in the noise – but as a professional with specific two-decades-long experience in the subject. Experience on the ground that is, as a reporter and commentator. I have now covered upwards of a dozen countries that have buckled under the emergent wave of populist leaders, from the Far East to the Mideast to Europe and the Americas. Many of the countries have done so quite democratically, at first. That emergent wave has crashed onto US shores in a fashion thoroughly precedented abroad.

Recently, I wrote about how I'd seen all the tricks in the Trump campaign before, actually in Tbilisi, Georgia, during the 2012 national elections when the pro-US candidate lost to a pro-Russian populist. At that time, no one was ready to believe the Russians capable of influencing Western style elections. Many still don't, even after Trump. We now have enough experience of populists in power in the West and elsewhere to guess intelligently at what's to come in the US;


In short - media control and chaos - they are messing with your mind.
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