Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Citizens United vs. United Citizens: The Showdown of the Century

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/01/20/citizens-united-vs-united-citizens-showdown-century
"When the US Supreme Court decided in favor of the plaintiff in the Citizens United case on January 21, 2010, did the five justices who supported it know that their decision would open the door to a fascist state within six short years? In large part, Citizens United caused a minority of voters, aided by the Electoral College, to elect a real live major international corporation in the form of Donald Trump as President. The fusion of government and corporate rule is complete. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Justices Antonin G. Scalia, Samuel A. Alito, and Clarence Thomas joined Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote for the majority. They claimed there was no evidence that ‘independent’ money influences and corrupts the electoral process.” In all their judicial wisdom, somehow they did not foresee at the time what the other four Justices and a large majority of Americans from both parties saw: the potential merger of our government with U.S. corporations. Trump has gone on to appoint the most corporate administration ever. Nearly 70% of Trump’s appointments have corporate ties, and his entire cabinet is mostly unqualified and unsuited for, or in opposition to, the department they head. Plainly put, these corporatists are in position to destroy the very departments that exist to protect We the People and the economy and environment on which our livelihoods depend."

#ReleaseTheMemo shows how Republicans, Fox News and Russian bots can cooperate to make fake news

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/22/1734935/--ReleaseTheMemo-shows-how-Republicans-Fox-News-and-Russian-bots-can-cooperate-to-make-fake-news
"Now, in the wake of the initial blast, #ReleaseTheMemo looks much less like a news story, and much more like a test run for coordination between Republicans in Congress, Fox News pundits, and Russian media bots. In this case, the memo that had Republicans weepy was generated by Devin Nunes. The idea that Nunes, who has already cried wolf on this same topic at least twice in the past year, should be taken as a reputable source on anything related to FBI surveillance is ridiculous. Still, Republicans presented this as a document that would shake Washington to its roots. On Thursday evening, Sean Hannity made this memo the focus of his program. Hannity presented the memo as definitive proof that the investigation by Robert Mueller would be forced to conclusion. "Your witch hunt is now over. Time to close the doors." Then on Friday morning, Twitter exploded with the hash tag #ReleaseTheMemo. The demand came with eerie clockwork precision from thousands of accounts, including from that of Donald Trump Jr. But many of these accounts shared a common feature — there was no human being on the other end. The latest attempt by some Republicans in Congress to discredit the Trump-Russia investigation has been embraced by Russian bots and trolls on social media. At the same time, the “news” division at Fox, along with Breitbart and other conservative sites turned the memo into their top story of the morning—stories that Republicans then picked up as “proof” of their earlier accusations. All of which suggests that #ReleaseTheMemo isn’t a news story — it’s the latest test of a weaponized media system. There’s something extremely notable in the Fox News stories concerning the memo — how they described the memo itself."

Russian Bots Rally To Help Trump

Devin Nunes Will Do Anything to Protect Donald Trump

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/devin-nunes-will-do-anything-to-protect-donald-trump
"We are on genuinely untrodden territory with a faction of House Republicans working to discredit federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies because they are investigating the President and finding damning information about him and his 2016 campaign."

Trump's wealth comes from money laundering, and it's gotten worse since he entered the White House

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/12/1732169/-Trump-s-wealth-comes-from-money-laundering-and-it-s-gotten-worse-since-he-entered-the-White-House
"In 2000, Donald Trump was broke. His casino projects were bankrupt, his credit was shot, his business pretty much out of business. He could still pretend to be Donald Trump, big time real estate guy, but the truth was there was nothing left of him but a name. And then, just like that, Trump was back in the game, selling New York real estate at ridiculous prices and planting his gold-plated letters wherever he went. Trump likes to pretend that this was the tale of a brilliant comeback and realizing the value of his own name. In truth his licensing deals never amounted to more than peanuts and his involvements outside real estate cost far more than they made. The influx of money came from a simple change in tactics — Trump made it clear that he was willing to look the other way when money came in from shady, overseas deals."

How Trump’s Deregulatory Push Is Harming Workers, Muzzling EPA Scientists and Unleashing Pollution

Putin’s Trolls Are Targeting Trump’s GOP Critics—Especially John McCain

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/01/putins-trolls-keep-targeting-john-mccain-and-other-gop-trump-critics/
"While the vast majority of the attacks from the 600 Twitter accounts tracked in real time by the Hamilton 68 dashboard are aimed at Democrats, the trolls also turn their sights on Republicans who sometimes stand up to Trump."

Now We Know Paul Ryan's Price

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a15844720/paul-ryan-tax-bill-koch-donation/
"We don’t even have to argue about the price any more with him. It’s 500-large. And, as always, it’s time to revisit the wisdom of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Anthony Kennedy, from his opinion in Citizens United v. FEC. “Independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption.” Deathless brilliance."

They Didn't Even Wait: Kochs Reward Ryan

Sarah Sanders insults journalists who dare ask about Trump’s irrational tweets

https://thinkprogress.org/sanders-gaslights-america-about-trumps-irrational-tweets-437e35a34443/
"During a White House news briefing on Thursday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was repeatedly asked to explain a Fox News-inspired tweet President Trump posted earlier in the day that contradicted the White House’s official position on a bill reauthorizing the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) While the White House has staunchly supported FISA reauthorization, Trump reacted to a Fox & Friends segment in which Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano made a personal appeal to him against reauthorization by suggesting he was in fact opposed. But less than two hours later, Trump — following a lengthy phone call with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) — walked it back with a second tweet in which he indicated that he does in fact favor reauthorization. Instead of trying to explain the disconnect during Thursday’s briefing, Sanders denied that Trump’s tweets were contradictory, and attacked reporters who asked questions."

Kimmel Made a Short Documentary About All of Trump’s Best Lies

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/01/trump-2000-lies-kimmel-documentary
"Congratulations are in order for Donald Trump, who has managed a groundbreaking achievement as president: in less than a year since taking office, the president has lied more than 2,000 times, according to The Washington Post. For a presidency with so few concrete achievements, that’s cause enough for celebration. So Jimmy Kimmel went ahead and made a commemorative documentary for this very special occasion"

Fusion GPS Transcript Outlines Potential Donald Trump Money Laundering

Watch Jimmy Kimmel Celebrate Trump's 2,000th Lie in Documentary

https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/jimmy-kimmel-commemorates-trumps-2000th-lie-with-documentary-w515353
"According to The Washington Post, Trump officially "crossed the threshold" into the 2,000 range for number of lies on January 9th, when speaking with lawmakers about issue of immigration."

Republicans Are AWOL on Russian Election Meddling

http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/10/republicans-are-awol-on-russian-election-meddling/
"The timing of the report — after what must have been months of research and writing — is serendipitous: It comes just a day after Sen. Dianne Feinstein released the transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s interview last summer with Glenn Simpson, the founder of political research firm Fusion GPS. The transcript blew holes in some of the Republican attempts to raise doubts about the so-called Steele dossier (a report by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, first made public by BuzzFeed, alleging that the Russian government “had both compromised and colluded with President-elect Donald Trump,” as Ben Smith, the site’s editor in chief, put it), especially because it recounted how the document, when it was first shared with the FBI, corroborated information the bureau had already obtained, including from an unnamed source within the Trump organization. In addition to undermining Republican arguments about the dossier, the transcript of Simpson’s interview also, of course, raised questions about the loyalties of Republicans who are apparently more concerned with offering political protection to the president than with defending the United States against a threat about which it still knows and understands too little. The report does not delve in detail into the Russian intervention in the U.S. election. Its strength lies rather in the way that it provides a context for understanding that aggressive action as part of a broader, decades-long effort by Putin to undermine democratic institutions at home, in Europe, and in the United States, and thereby to challenge the rules-based order that found its genesis (and still has its foundation) in the trans-Atlantic alliance between the United States, Canada, and their democratic allies and partners in Europe. The report makes clear that Russia’s attempts to undermine democracy are an ongoing threat, and one that demands a robust U.S. response. It should be required reading for every member of Congress"

GOP Fears Of 'Blue Wave' In Midterm Elections Grow

If we lived in a functioning democracy, this would be a major scandal

https://thinkprogress.org/shell-companies-and-trump-8e72b6976ee0/
"Donald Trump may not think of himself, or his family, as kleptocratic. But his business model – and his continued profiteering while in the White House – fit firmly within an international mold of kleptocracy, marrying anonymous shell companies, luxury real estate purchases, and unknown relationships that may well be driving policy outcomes. The latest revelation on the financial murk surrounding the president came earlier this week, with a blistering report in USA Today revealing that over half of the 2017 real estate sales from Trump’s companies went to anonymous shell companies. As the report found, the sales – totaling some $35 million – represent a stark shift from Trump’s pre-presidency days: “In the two years before the nomination, 4% of Trump buyers utilized [anonymous shell companies]. In the year after, the rate skyrocketed to about 70%.” The report added that “USA Today’s tracking of sales shows the trend held firm through Trump’s first year in office.” And for the vast majority of these purchases, there’s little indication who’s fronting the cash – let alone who the ultimate beneficiary of the properties may be."

Trump wins unprecedented victory, reaching 2,000th lie in office, and Jimmy Kimmel celebrates

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-wins-unprecedented-victory-reaching-2000th-lie-office-and-jimmy-kimmel-778244
“Happy lie-2K everybody!” Kimmel exclaimed on Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night."

Monday, January 22, 2018

Stormy Daniels, Robert Mueller, And The President Donald Trump Presidency

This is how coal dies — super cheap renewables plus battery storage

https://thinkprogress.org/colorado-wind-batteries-cheap-12e82b91a543/
"Solar, wind, and battery prices are dropping so fast that, in Colorado, building new renewable power plus battery storage is now cheaper than running old coal plants. This increasingly renders existing coal plants obsolete."

Trump’s National Security and Foreign Policy Failures: Year One

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2018/01/17/445109/trumps-national-security-foreign-policy-failures-year-one/
"America is more isolated, less respected, weaker at home, and ultimately less safe under President Trump’s leadership. Whether it is Trump’s immoral, unwise, and botched travel ban on Muslim-majority nations; his reckless Twitter warmongering on North Korea; or his self-isolating moves to upend the Iran nuclear deal and risk another military confrontation in the Middle East, the result has been the same: America is appreciably less secure than it was a year ago. And the Trump administration’s daily campaign against the nation’s diplomats, intelligence community, law enforcement, and civil servants is gutting the very national security apparatus that the president will need to confront threats to America. Unfortunately, the damage that President Trump has done to the United States’ reputation and interests around the world will also have long-term consequences for Americans. Fewer nations will want to work with us, fewer will trust our word, and still fewer will want to fight alongside us if and when the time comes. Nations will look elsewhere for leadership, including to China, further jeopardizing the international rules that America and its democratic partners have defined since World War II to favor freedom and prosperity."

Trump Drug Czar's REAL History EXPOSED

Ten actions that hurt workers during Trump’s first year: How Trump and Congress further rigged the economy in favor of the wealthy

Ten actions that hurt workers during Trump’s first year: How Trump and Congress further rigged the economy in favor of the wealthy:

"The tax cut law that President Trump boasts will make his wealthy friends “a lot richer” is just the latest in a series of betrayals of working people by the administration and Congress since Trump took the oath of office on January 20, 2017. In addition to passing a massive tax cut for wealthy business owners, Trump and Republicans in Congress have rolled back important worker protections, advanced nominees to key administration posts who have a history of exploiting working people, and taken other actions that further rig the system in favor of corporate interests and the wealthiest Americans."

For Banks, Double the Trickle-Down Delight

For Banks, Double the Trickle-Down Delight:

"This is Trumponomics at its core. Tax cuts and deregulation for the rich and powerful banks (which, not ten years ago, very nearly took down the American economy), and flashy PR stunts for everyone else."

EXCLUSIVE: Trump Nominee Worked To Make Your Healthcare Prices Higher

America's '2+2=5 Moment' Is a Scary Lurch Toward Autocracy

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/01/21/americas-225-moment-scary-lurch-toward-autocracy
"What is even the point of all this lying and blatant know-nothingism? It’s to show utter contempt for the very concept of facts — much like when Trump himself, despite a well-documented history of racist remarks and acts, says, “I am the least racist person you will ever interview,” or sends out a spokesman to boast about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, proven by photos to be much smaller than those of his predecessors. That disdain for an objective, provable truth — as Orwell so correctly noted — is the most powerful defining trait of authoritarian regimes. Increasingly, Trump and his minions use lying as a bizarre way to bond him more closely to members of Congress like Perdue and Cotton, to his inner circle, and to his most loyal political base, the 36 Percent. Listen to what Xavier Marquez wrote in the Washington Post last January, that “lies can help ensure the loyalty of subordinates who are forced to repeat them. These kinds of lies need not be credible at all to people outside the regime. The more incredible a lie is, the more it can credibly signal loyalty to a political leader in conditions of low trust. When a subordinate repeats an obviously ridiculous claim he or she is degraded, and bound more closely to the leader.” That’s not all. The Big Lies that increasingly are becoming the calling card of the Trump White House are meant not to win political debate but to destroy it, by discouraging all of those who are inclined to fight for the truth but who over time — lie by lie by lie — become so discouraged that they simply give up. And this is why it really matters, because that indifference is what drives good people to say nothing when political activists or sick children are rounded up for deportation, or when Congress acts to take health care away from the poor or from little kids at the same time there is plenty of money for billionaire tax cuts. When the people are too beaten down to fight back."

The Staggering Irony of Donald Trump's Fascination with Norway @alternet

The Staggering Irony of Donald Trump's Fascination with Norway @alternet:

"When it comes to health care, overall working conditions, education, life expectancy and upward mobility, Norway’s democratic socialism puts U.S. governance to shame. Even with the gains and reforms of the Affordable Care Act, 28.1 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2017 (down from 48.6 million in 2010). Like much of the developed world, Norway enjoys universal health care; its coverage ranked third best in Europe in 2015 by the Euro Health Consumer Index and the 11th best in the world by the World Health Organization in 2000. Medical bankruptcy, common in the U.S., is unheard of in Norway. According to WHO, life expectancy in the U.S. was 79.3 in 2015; in Norway, it was 81.8. Meanwhile, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world per capita—707 for every 100,000 people, compared to only 75 per 100,000 in Norway. And thanks to strong government-operated rehabilitation programs in the Norwegian prison system, Norway has a recidivism rate of 20 percent against 76.6 percent in the U.S., where mass incarceration and the failed war on drugs have only encouraged the growth of prison gangs. Republicans detest labor unions, but in Norway, 52 percent of workers were unionized in 2016 compared to 10 percent in the U.S. That 10 percent includes government jobs; among private-sector workers, unionization was only 6.4 percent last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  In Norway, a university education is tuition-free, assuming one has the grades to be accepted. In the U.S., students graduate from college with crippling student loan debt. The reality is that for most Norwegians, the U.S.—with its medical bankruptcies, mass incarceration, prison-industrial complex, rampant homelessness, student debt and lower life expectancy—represents a major step down."

Republican Makes You Pay For His Sexual Harassment Settlement

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Trump Administration Waives Punishment For Convicted Banks, Including Deutsche — Which Trump Owes Millions

http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/trump-administration-waives-punishment-convicted-banks-including-deutsche-which
"The Trump administration has waived part of the punishment for five megabanks whose affiliates were convicted and fined for manipulating global interest rates. One of the Trump administration waivers was granted to Deutsche Bank — which is owed at least $130 million by President Donald Trump and his business empire, and has also been fined for its role in a Russian money laundering scheme. The waivers were issued in a little-noticed announcement published in the Federal Register during the Christmas holiday week. They come less than two years after then-candidate Trump promised “I'm not going to let Wall Street get away with murder"."

President Trump has made more than 2,000 false or misleading claims over 355 days

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/01/10/president-trump-has-made-more-than-2000-false-or-misleading-claims-over-355-days/?utm_term=.34e1f7c14144
"Trump has made 2,001 false or misleading claims in 355 days, according to our database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president. That’s an average of more than 5.6 claims a day."

Trump, the 'Very Stable Genius,' Is Falling Apart as Mueller Seeks Interview @alternet

Trump, the 'Very Stable Genius,' Is Falling Apart as Mueller Seeks Interview @alternet:

"If he sticks to his story that nobody in his campaign had contact with Russia, which has been discredited by Donald Trump Jr.’s tweets and George Papadopoulos’ plea agreement, he risks making false statements under oath, something four of his aides have already been charged with.  If Trump changes his story, he risks confirming that he sought to obstruct the probe of his campaign, a central focus of Mueller’s investigation."

Steve Bannon Subpoenaed By House Intel As Robert Mueller Subpoena Looms

The Whole Damn GOP Needs to be Investigated Following Release of Fusion GPS Transcript

https://forwardprogressives.com/the-whole-damn-gop-needs-to-be-investigated-following-release-of-fusion-gps-transcript/
"Based on what’s contained within these 312 pages of testimony we now have verifiable proof that congressional Republicans have been blatantly pushing misinformation about Fusion GPS, the comments made by Simpson during their interview with him, and the motives behind Steele’s work in what appears to be a clear attempt to undermine these investigations to protect Trump. Not that anyone reading this is likely surprised by any of this, but Feinstein’s release of this transcript at least gives us actual proof that the GOP has been lying through their teeth about this. This is why I’ve said for over a year now that I don’t think it’s just Trump who needs to be investigated. It seems rather apparent that many within the Republican Party are working to undermine and interfere, if not outright sabotage, legitimate and credible investigations into whether or not this “president” is a criminal and a traitor."

Fusion GPS transcripts reveal two things—the corruption of Trump, the treachery of the Republicans

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/10/1731460/-Fusion-GPS-transcripts-reveal-two-things-the-corruption-of-Trump-the-treachery-of-the-Republicans
"What the transcripts reveal is that, in investigating connections between Donald Trump and corrupt governments overseas, Fusion GPS demonstrated that the government right here in the United States is equally corrupt. Equally willing to trade truth for power. Equally ready to condemn those whose only crime is uncovering information which those in charge want thoroughly buried. The information collected by Fusion GPS is an indictment of Donald Trump as a front man for mobsters and corrupt governments whose crooked dealing and personal excesses left him open to easy manipulation.  But the Fusion GPS transcripts are an indictment of the Republican Party, as an entity that has lost any concern for the nation, fairness, or the facts—an entity addicted to power by any means, and willing to use that power to close the mouths of those they view as threats."

President Donald Trump Lie Count Passes 2000

Transcript bombshells: FBI had source in Trump campaign, NYT story killed Steele's FBI connection

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/9/1731187/-Transcript-bombshells-FBI-had-source-in-Trump-campaign-NYT-story-killed-Steele-s-FBI-connection
"Simpson’s own work at the Wall Street Journal had included a number of stories about Russian oligarchs, organized crime, and corrupt politicians. While he might not have previously researched Trump, he was definitely familiar with Sater. SIMPSON: As it happens, Felix Sater was, you know, connected to the same Russian crime family that was at issue in the Prevezon case, which is the dominant Russian crime family in Russia and has a robust U.S. presence and is involved in a lot of crime and criminal activity in the United States and for many years was the -- the leader of this family was on the FBI most wanted list and lives openly in Moscow as a fugitive from U.S. law for a very elaborate stock fraud. Simpson discusses Sater’s connections, and the general nature of Russian organized crime as a political/criminal/banking hybrid. The connections between Trump and Sater started Simpson looking into the multiple ties Trump had to Russian organized crime, and from there into the mystery of just where was Donald Trump getting his money. DAVIS: And what, if anything, did you conclude about the connection between and in the business dealings that then Candidate Trump had had with Mr. Sater? SIMPSON: Well, somewhat analogous to the Browder situation I found it notable this was something he didn't want to talk about and testified under oath he wouldn't know Felix if he ran into him in the street. That was not true. He knew him well and, in fact, continued to associate with him long after he learned of Felix's organized crime ties. So, you know, that tells you something about somebody.  So I concluded that he was okay with that and that was a troubling thing. I also, you know, began to -- I keep saying I, but we as a company began to look at where his money came from and, you know, that raised a lot of questions. We saw indications that some of the money came from Kazakhstan, among other places, and that some of it you just couldn't account for."

Internet rains hell on Sens. Grassley and Graham for trying to cover up explosive Trump dossier testimony

Internet rains hell on Sens. Grassley and Graham for trying to cover up explosive Trump dossier testimony

"On Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the explosive transcript regarding the Fusion GPS dossier about President Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia — and one of the biggest bombshells stemmed not from the dossier itself, but those who sought to keep it from the public. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) both fought on Monday to keep the transcript’s contents from the public, and once the damning details were released, Twitter let them have it."

Sketchy Kazakh Money Finds Its Way Into President Donald Trump's Dealings

Explosive Fusion GPS testimony details Trump’s alleged ties to international money laundering operations

Explosive Fusion GPS testimony details Trump’s alleged ties to international money laundering operations

"Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the full transcript of testimony that Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson gave to the Senate Intelligence Committee — and it contains explosive allegations that President Donald Trump has direct ties to international money laundering operations. During his testimony, Simpson detailed ways that money had been stolen from a bank in Kazakhstan, then laundered throughout multiple countries — before possibly being funneled in part to the Trump Soho hotel project. At the center of the ordeal appears to be Felix Sater, a Trump-linked Russian-born businessman who in 1998 pleaded guilty to taking part in a mafia-related stock fraud scheme, and who is now cooperating with an international investigation into an alleged money laundering network. “So there was a civil case, at least one civil case in New York involving — filed by the city of Almaty… against some alleged Kazakh money launderers,” Simpson testified. “I don’t remember exactly how, but we learned that — it wasn’t from Chris. We learned that Felix Sater had some connections with these people, and it’s been more recently in the media that he’s helping the government of Kazakhstan to recover this money. There’s been media reports that the money went into the Trump Soho or it went into the company that built the Trump Soho.” Sater’s financial relationship with Trump dates back to at least 2003, when the Trump Organization rented out office space to Sater’s former company. Even though Trump initially tried to distance himself from Sater after news of his criminal past came to light in 2007, he subsequently tapped Sater in 2010 to scout out real estate. Additionally, Sater presented clients with business cards that claimed he was a senior adviser to Trump, and his office was on the same floor as Trump’s office in Trump Tower. Sater wasn’t the only figure with ties to organized crime that Simpson found working with Trump, either."

Private conversations show Trump’s public statements about the wall to be lies

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-dreamers-border-wall-least-important-thing-daca-1d49d54a9a77/
"While Trump’s statement suggests he views the border wall as a security necessity, comments he made during a conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto days after his inauguration indicate Trump’s motivation for pushing for the wall has to do with politics, not national security. During that January 27 conversation, a transcript of which was leaked to the Washington Post, Trump characterized the wall as “the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important [thing we] talk about.” When Nieto indicated his government has no interest in helping Trump fulfill his campaign promise by paying for the wall, Trump said he understood, but couldn’t say so publicly, and urged Nieto to do the same. “You cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall,” Trump told Nieto. “I am just going to say that we are working it out"."

Robert Mueller, House Intel Subpoena Steve Bannon On Same Day

New federal court order green lights Republican efforts to ‘supercharge voter suppression’

https://thinkprogress.org/consent-decree-rnc-221b4caa8c77/
"A federal judge on Tuesday ended a consent decree banning the Republican National Committee from engaging in ballot security activities, giving a major boost to Republicans’ efforts to suppress minority voters. The consent decree has been in place since 1982, when the RNC was found to be engaging in “voter caging” in predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods, and has required a federal court to review Republicans’ proposed “ballot security” programs. Now, for the first time in 35 years, the RNC will be permitted to engage in these activities without oversight."

Trump speaks at fourth-grade level, lowest of last 15 U.S. presidents, new analysis finds

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-fire-and-fury-smart-genius-obama-774169
"President Donald Trump—who boasted over the weekend that his success in life was a result of “being, like, really smart”—communicates at the lowest grade level of the last 15 presidents, according to a new analysis of the speech patterns of presidents going back to Herbert Hoover. The analysis assessed the first 30,000 words each president spoke in office, and ranked them on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale and more than two dozen other common tests analyzing English-language difficulty levels. Trump clocked in around mid-fourth grade, the worst since Harry Truman, who spoke at nearly a sixth-grade level."

President Donald Trump Remarks May Undo His Racist Policies

Why Trump Keeps Telling the World 'I’m Smart'

Why Trump Keeps Telling the World 'I’m Smart':

"Beneath Trump’s public bravado is a deeply insecure, troubled man who is unfit to be president. This makes him a danger to the country and the world."

Trump World’s amazing new euphemism: ‘Executive Time’

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-worlds-amazing-new-euphemism-executive-time
"Soon after the 2016 election, Donald Trump had a private meeting in the White House with Barack Obama, and the sitting president walked his successor through his daily duties. Trump, the Wall Street Journal noted at the time, “seemed surprised by the scope” of the presidency. It quickly became obvious that Trump sought a job he knew very little about. He soon after admitted as much, telling Reuters, “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” He added in an Associated Press interview, “I never realized how big it was.” The question then became how the Republican amateur would adapt. The answer is coming into focus: he may not be adapting at all. On the contrary, though many hoped the president would rise to the occasion, roll up his sleeves, and begin to tackle his monumental tasks with maturity and vigor, Axios reported over the weekend that Trump is apparently working less, not more. President Trump is starting his official day much later than he did in the early days of his presidency, often around 11am, and holding far fewer meetings, according to copies of his private schedule shown to Axios. This is largely to meet Trump’s demands for more “Executive Time,” which almost always means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence, officials tell us. The schedule says Trump has “Executive Time” in the Oval Office every day from 8am to 11am, but the reality is he spends that time in his residence, watching TV, making phone calls and tweeting. Trump comes down for his first meeting of the day, which is often an intelligence briefing, at 11am. This president’s typical work day in the Oval Office reportedly starts around 11 a.m., and wraps up at 6 p.m., at which point Trump likes to return to the White House residence, where much of his time is devoted to watching television."

President Donald Trump Fails To Protect US From Russia Attacks

The GOP’s 100-Year War Is Bigger Than Taxes or Trump

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/01/08/gops-100-year-war-bigger-taxes-or-trump
"Their goal is to throw state governments, as well as the federal government, into fiscal crises that will allow Republicans to realize their ultimate ambition: the gutting of our shredded social contract and the dismantlement of the modern civil state. Don’t take my word for it. Ask them. This is what House Speaker Paul Ryan had to say as his party prepared to pass the tax bill: “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.” Ryan also said: “This has been my big thing for many, many years.” His fellow Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio, said: “You also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries.” They’re not “entitlements,” gentlemen, they’re “earned benefits.” This fixation on debt and deficits is misguided in any case, whether it’s expressed by a Republican or a Democrat. But it’s especially galling when expressed by Republicans whose tax bill adds a projected $1.5 trillion to the deficit. It’s illogical, unless their actual goal is to dismantle government programs that have succeeded where the private sector has failed. But then, that’s been the Republican ideology since Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” As the old saying goes: When someone tells you who they are, believe them. Mick Mulvaney, the former Tea Party congressman who now serves as both Trump’s budget director and head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has expressed open hostility to benefits programs and indirect opposition to the idea that the rich should pay any taxes at all. Republicans are equally hostile to regulations, which is another way of saying they are opposed to letting us protect ourselves from the death, disease, injury and devastation caused by private-sector greed."

Trump’s Daily White House Schedule Will Confirm Your Worst Suspicions @alternet

Trump’s Daily White House Schedule Will Confirm Your Worst Suspicions @alternet:

"Trump spends fewer hours in meetings and more hours dedicated to a mysterious activity blocked off on his official schedule as “Executive Time”—which in reality, aides say, means “watching TV, making phone calls and tweeting.” The article continues: “Trump's days in the Oval Office are relatively short—from around 11am to 6pm, then he's back to the residence. During that time he usually has a meeting or two, but spends a good deal of time making phone calls and watching cable news in the dining room adjoining the Oval. Then he's back to the residence for more phone calls and more TV.” Trump begins his workday three to four hours after most Americans do. He doesn’t take his first official meeting (his daily briefing by staff members) until 11am. It should alarm us all that Trump spends his early hours each day absorbing news from secondhand sources like Twitter and his beloved "Fox and Friends"."

Trump Banking Scandal EXPOSED

As Trump Enjoys 'Executive Time,' GOP Minions Relentless in 'Wrecking of America'

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/01/08/trump-enjoys-executive-time-gop-minions-relentless-wrecking-america
"President Donald Trump may insist that he has very little time to watch television due to the many hours he supposedly devotes to reading "documents," but copies of his private schedule—viewed by Axios on Sunday—reveal that he has carved out a three-hour block at the beginning of every day for what is loftily termed "Executive Time," which consists mostly of TV and Twitter. "Trump is starting his official day much later than he did in the early days of his presidency, often around 11am, and holding far fewer meetings," reports Axios's Jonathan Swan. "The schedule says Trump has 'Executive Time' in the Oval Office every day from 8am to 11am, but the reality is he spends that time in his residence, watching TV, making phone calls, and tweeting. Trump comes down for his first meeting of the day, which is often an intelligence briefing, at 11am." Trump's tweeting and the TV-watching doesn't stop there. In fact, Swan notes, generous chunks of "Executive Time" are sprinkled throughout each day—before meetings, after meetings, and just before the end of the workday, which for this president is around 6pm. (These, it should be noted, are days that Trump is not at one of his private clubs playing golf.) At that point, Trump is "back to the residence for more phone calls and more TV"."

Corporate Powers Are Stealing Online Identities, Posting Fake Comments to Push for Consumer Law Repeals @alternet

Corporate Powers Are Stealing Online Identities, Posting Fake Comments to Push for Consumer Law Repeals @alternet:

"A pattern of cyber deception is appearing across the federal government in the nooks and crannies of the process where White House directives or Congress’ laws are turned into the rules Americans must abide by—or in the Trump era, are repealed. Hundreds of thousands of comments, purportedly made by Americans, have come in over the electronic transom to at least five different federal agencies calling for an end to Obama-era consumer protections and other regulations that impede profits, a series of investigative reports by the Wall Street Journal found. Except, the people who supposedly sent these comments never did. The latest example concerns the so-called "Fiduciary Rule," which originated in the Labor Department and was to talk effect in July 2019, to try to prevent conflicts of investment from investment advisers targeting retirees."

Lawrence: President Trump Breaks Mueller Promise As 'Noose Is Tightening'

Trump repeatedly promised to fully cooperate with Mueller. Things are changing quickly.

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-repeatedly-promised-cooperate-mueller-0561e19a9ffb/
"For months, President Donald Trump, through his attorneys, has repeatedly promised to fully cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which includes the Trump campaign’s possible collaboration with Russian agents and potential obstruction of justice. But now that Mueller has expressed an interest in interviewing Trump himself, according to multiple reports, Trump’s legal team is having second thoughts."

Donald Trump's Legal Team Has a Laughable Plan to Avoid an Interview with Robert Mueller @alternet

Donald Trump's Legal Team Has a Laughable Plan to Avoid an Interview with Robert Mueller @alternet:

"President Donald Trump’s lawyers are mapping their strategy for an expected interview request by special counsel Robert Mueller. The president’s outside legal team are discussing a range of potential options and compromises in hopes of avoiding a face-to-face interview, reported NBC News."

Exclusive: Lawyer Who Deposed President Donald Trump Speaks Out

Trump getting up at the crack of 11 ... after spending the morning in bed watching TV

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/8/1730744/-Trump-getting-up-at-the-crack-of-11-after-spending-the-morning-in-bed-watching-TV
"His presidenting schedule has apparently been reduced to a 11-4 interval between parking himself back in front of the bedroom TV. The schedule says Trump has "Executive Time" in the Oval Office every day from 8am to 11am, but the reality is he spends that time in his residence, watching TV, making phone calls and tweeting. Trump comes down for his first meeting of the day, which is often an intelligence briefing, at 11am."

Republican lawmaker says marijuana should be illegal because of African American ‘genetics’

https://thinkprogress.org/kansas-rep-marijuana-african-americans-eff0ace5d0b0/
"Alford is referring to beliefs first propagated by Harry Anslinger, the founding commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who was critical in helping to pass the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which heavily regulated and taxed a previously booming industry."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse: Dossier Has Held Up Well Despite GOP Attacks

Trump is nakedly fragile

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-nakedly-fragile/2018/01/02/e618a44c-f009-11e7-b3bf-ab90a706e175_story.html?utm_term=.677353149cdd
"While many of us were absorbed in the holidays, the Trump administration relaxed Medicare’s penalty protocols by “scaling back the use of fines against nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury.” In other words, nursing homes that neglect, abuse or even cause the death of residents may be protected from or entitled to lighter fines than they would have been under Obama-era rules. Then there’s the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health-care coverage for roughly 9 million children. For the first time since the program’s inception in 1997, Congress has failed to reauthorize funding for the program, aside from a short-term cash injection passed in late December. As a result, several states have begun closing enrollment in their programs, or warning families that their children will likely lose their health insurance in the coming months. And if Trump gets his way, they won’t be the only ones. Congress succeeded in repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate with its tax bill, which could destabilize plan prices in the coming years, and Trump still hasn’t given up on replacing Obama-era health-care reforms altogether — with no viable replacement to protect health coverage for Americans who have come to rely on the ACA. Meanwhile, Trump and his administration also are taking aim at welfare this year.The elderly, children, the sick, the poor: All of these are biblical categories of people who are deserving not just of justice — as all people are — but of mercy, as they are especially unable to advocate for themselves and press their interests in the public sphere. Trump could read up a little on the Christian God’s mercy toward the weak in all those Bibles he claims to have."

Former Montana GOP House majority leader facing 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to running meth ring

Former Montana GOP House majority leader facing 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to running meth ring

"The Gazette reports that Lange, while in office, supported giving $4 million in taxpayer dollars to an anti-meth public relations campaign. He was later removed from his leadership spot after being captured on video in an obscene tirade against then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D). Following his political career, Lange was charged with driving under the influence in 2014, before picking up second DUI months later in conjunction with a felony charge of possessing over an ounce of meth in California and being sentenced to 16 months in prison, court records reveal. According to prosecutor Sullivan, Lange began dealing large quantities of the drug after his release, brought in from to California. A raid on his house in October 2016 turned up more than 2.5 pounds of meth, 13 ounces of cocaine and $27,400. Lange is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 18 before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters, where he faces mandatory minimum of 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine."

Lawrence: The 'Most Important Act' Since President Trump's Inauguration

Laffing All the Way to the Bank

https://thedailybanter.com/2018/01/laffing-all-the-way-to-the-bank/
"Increased public debt was what happened during the tax cuts of the 1920s, Reagan’s cuts, and Bush 43’s cuts. More recently, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s massive cuts left the Bayou State reeling and selling off government real estate and vehicles to stave off a shutdown. Governor Sam Brownback’s radical meth-induced tax cuts in Kansas essentially bankrupted the state.  But for the scheming folks who in recent years have foisted these twisted experiments on their guinea pig citizens, the measures were not failures in any way. They see farther down the road than we do. They have a coherent game plan, albeit nothing whatsoever like the one they roll out every couple of years on Meet the Press.  You see, good fiscal policy is a one-note tune. When a recession hits, we need tax cuts for the rich to provide the proverbial trickle down antidote. Should a recovery come, you don’t want to slow the momentum, so more tax cuts for the rich. When the following recession arrives, well, see above. And if it doesn’t work you’re obviously not doing enough of it. There is that old, hackneyed expression about laughing all the way to the bank. These days it’s more like giggling to the hedge fund or smirking to the Cayman Islands. But when the smiles fade, radical long-term tax cuts not supported by sound economic analysis leave us with four horrible choices—decimate the social safety net, print more money, borrow more money, or default on the national debt. Right wing kamikazes can live with any of these, but option number one—disassembling the nanny state that communist Franklin Delano Roosevelt put into place 80 years ago—is by far the most orgasmic reactionary option.  And if you’d like to discover what life was like for Chileans during the 1970s under rule by the Chicago Boys, you basically have two choices—read Naomi Klein’s enlightening book, The Shock Doctrine, or let Paul Ryan and friends control all branches of government through the year 2028."

Trump administration officially scraps Obama-era rules for fracking on federal land

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-administration-repeals-obama-fracking-rules-f4595696dff7/
"The rules would have, among other things, required companies to disclose the chemicals used in their operations."

Meet The Ironworker Running To Beat Paul Ryan In 2018

Donald Trump and the Rule of Law

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/donald-trump-and-the-rule-of-law
"Also last week, the Times reported more evidence suggesting that the President had obstructed justice in connection with the F.B.I.’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible connection to members of the Trump campaign. In March, according to the Times, Trump sent Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, to urge Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, not to recuse himself from supervising the investigation. Trump did so because he felt that Sessions should be protecting him. “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump asked, referring to the right-wing gargoyle who was one of his early political mentors. Sessions, a key figure in the Trump campaign, recognized the obvious fact that he could not investigate the Trump campaign, and properly rebuffed McGahn, but Trump’s malign obsession with the Russia case remains a touchstone of his Presidency. The Times’ revelation makes an obstruction case stronger. Trump asked for loyalty from James Comey, the F.B.I. director, who was supervising the investigation. When Comey equivocated, Trump fired him, then put out a false story for why he did so, which he promptly undermined by admitting the real reason. And when e-mails emerged over the summer showing that Donald Trump, Jr., had met during the campaign with a Russian lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, the President participated in concocting a bogus story to explain them. (An especially incriminating version of Trump’s role in the e-mail cover story appears in “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s explosive new book.) Trump’s contempt for the rule of law infects his entire Administration"

The Overton Window and Trump's Judges

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/01/06/overton-window-and-trumps-judges
"These men, and the many more inapt Trump nominees to come this year, constitute a clear and present danger to American law. They already have changed our perceptions of what constitutes an acceptable judicial nominee. And it’s unclear whether those perceptions will ever go back to the way they were."

President Donald Trump’s Pandering Is Next Level

How A Chilean Billionaire Could Poison A Minnesota Wilderness

https://www.dcreport.org/2018/01/03/how-a-chilean-billionaire-could-poison-a-minnesota-wilderness/
"Trump’s Interior Department is reinstating two 1966 leases, written before today’s federal environmental laws, that could allow a Chilean mining company to build a giant copper-and-nickel mine adjacent to the Boundary Waters wilderness area in northern Minnesota. The mining company is controlled by Andrónico Luksic, whose family controls a mining, banking and industrial empire that Forbes estimates is valued at $13.1 billion. Luksic also dabbles in Washington, D.C., residential real estate and has a business relationship with the Trump family. He is First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner’s and First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s landlord. The Boundary Waters is a 1.1 million-acre wilderness beloved by canoeists and hikers in the Superior National Forest along Minnesota’s border with Canada. Mining in the area could result in acid damage that can last for centuries. “There’s a reason that the Boundary Waters is one of the most visited wilderness areas in America: It’s an incredible place,” Sally Jewell, then the Interior Department secretary, said in 2016. Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of Antofagasta PLC, sued in federal court over the leases for 4,800 acres on the southwest border of the Boundary Waters even before the Obama administration decided in December 2016 against renewing them. In December 2016, just after Trump’s election, Luksic paid $5.5 million, pocket change for a billionaire, for a six-bedroom home in Washington’s tony Kalorama neighborhood. The house was never advertised for rent, but just a little more than a month after closing on the property, he leased it to Kushner and Trump for $15,000 a month. The rent is not out of line for properties in the neighborhoods, but The Wall Street Journal said it represents a low 2.5% annual return on the purchase price."

The Saga of Donald Trump, Stable Genius

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/1/6/1730182/-The-Saga-of-Donald-Trump-Stable-Genius
"a defense of his intelligence that reads like it came from a 12-year-old Valley Girl. In 1990."

Trump Hits A New Milestone By Telling His 2,000th Lie Since Taking Office