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Member since: Thu May 7, 2009, 11:59 PM
Number of posts: 9,938

Journal Archives

NY Times - "A Party to the Russian Connection" - Why McConnell Will Not Investigate

Part of the reason why Republicans are obstructing any type of independent inquiry is because it will highlight their aggressive efforts to oppose any disclosure of Trump's Russian connections during the campaign. They are in too deep.


President Trumpís disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security. According to reports this week, Mr. Trumpís team maintained frequent contact with Russian officials, including senior intelligence officers, during the campaign. This led to concerns about possible collusion with one of Americaís principal strategic adversaries as it tried to influence the election in Mr. Trumpís favor. On Monday, Mr. Trumpís national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, was forced to resign after details of his communications with the Russian ambassador emerged.

Republican leaders in Congress now bear the most responsibility for holding the president accountable and protecting the nation. They canít say they didnít see the Russian interference coming. They knew all along.

Early in 2015, senior Republican congressional leaders visited Ukraine and returned full of praise for its fight for independence in spite of Russiaís efforts to destabilize the country and annex some of its regions. And in June, coincidentally just before Mr. Trump announced his campaign for the Republican nomination, they met with Ukraineís prime minister in Washington ó one of many meetings I attended as a senior aide to the House Republican Conference.

As the presidential race wore on, some of those leaders began to see parallels between Russiaís disinformation operations in Ukraine and Europe and its activities in the United States. They were alarmed by the Kremlin-backed cable network RT America, which was running stories intended, they judged, to undermine Americansí trust in democratic institutions and promote Mr. Trumpís candidacy. Deeply unsettled, the leaders discussed these concerns privately on several occasions I witnessed.

Trump familys elaborate lifestyle is a logistical nightmare at taxpayer expense

Source: MSN/Washington Post

Barely a month into the Trump presidency, the unusually elaborate lifestyle of Americaís new first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for past presidents ó a price tag that, based on past assessments of presidential travel and security costs, could balloon into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a four-year term.

Adding to the costs and complications is Trumpís inclination to conduct official business surrounded by crowds of people, such as his decision last weekend to host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a working dinner while Mar-a-Lago members dined nearby.

The handful of government agencies that bear the brunt of the expenses, including the Defense and Homeland Security departments, have not responded to Washington Post requests for data laying out the costs since Trump took office.

* * *

Trumpís three Mar-a-Lago trips since the inauguration have likely cost the federal treasury roughly $10 million, based on figures used in an October government report analyzing White House travel, including money for Coast Guard units to patrol the exposed shoreline and other military, security and staffing expenses associated with moving the apparatus of the presidency.

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-family%E2%80%99s-elaborate-lifestyle-is-a-%E2%80%98logistical-nightmare%E2%80%99-%E2%80%94-at-taxpayer-expense/ar-AAn1H4A?li=BBnb7Kz

NY Times - The Lesson of Nordstrom: Do Business With the Trumps or Else

Less than a month has gone by, and we are well on our way to being a banana republic when it comes to corruption.


It is a clear violation of federal ethics rules for White House staff members, or any other federal employees, to use their official positions for private gain. But what President Trump did on Wednesday in his Twitter attack on the Nordstrom department store chain, castigating it for dropping Ms. Trumpís line, was far worse.

In sum, Nordstrom made a business decision not to do business with the presidentís daughter because her clothing line was not selling well, and the president used his official position to attack the company for this decision.

The presidentís tweet ó posted on his personal account and then re-sent from his White House account ó is an act of intimidation. Nordstrom interacts with many executive branch agencies: the Department of Labor, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and others. Each one of these agencies will be headed by Trump appointees. Most will be staffed with other political appointees as well. The president is telling all of these people that he is very angry with Nordstrom. The message is clear, and it wonít take much for a political appointee in some agency to conceive of an ingenious way of ingratiating himself with the White House by making life difficult for the store chain.

Most important, regardless of whether such retaliation actually happens, Nordstrom and the handful of other companies that announced they, too, would drop the line have to live in fear of it for the rest of the Trump administration. And now every other department store knows that it had better not make a similar ďbusiness decisionĒ that displeases the president. In other words, do business with the Trump family and help the Trump family promote its products, or else.

I Got This.


Trumps loose talk about Muslims gets weaponized in court against travel ban

Source: Washington Post

Throughout Donald Trumps campaign and now into the first weeks of his presidency, critics suggested that he cool his incendiary rhetoric, that his words matter. His defenders responded that, as Corey Lewandowski said, he was being taken too literally. Some, like Vice President Pence, wrote it off to his colorful style. Trump himself recently explained that his rhetoric about Muslims is popular, winning him standing ovations."

* * *

The states of Washington and Minnesota, which sued to block Trumps order, are citing the presidents inflammatory rhetoric as evidence that the governments claims its not a ban and not aimed at Muslims are shams.

In court papers, Washington and Minnesotas attorneys general have pulled out quotes from speeches, news conferences and interviews as evidence that an executive order the administration argues is neutral was really motivated by animus toward Muslims and a desire to harm a particular group.

His words, the two states say in their brief, show that the President acted in bad faith in an effort to target Muslims. The courts, they say, have both the right and duty to examine Trumps true motives.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/02/07/words-matter-trumps-loose-talk-about-muslims-gets-weaponized-in-court-against-travel-ban/?utm_term=.9adcea272856

The DOJ is essentially arguing that President Trump is publicly lying and should be ignored. Instead, the court should accept the pretext given by the federal government for targeting Muslims, er engaging in extremer vetting.

If the DOJ wins, then all a government needs to do is offer a non-discriminatory pretext that the court must accept regardless of actual evidence of animus.

Vox - The big lesson of Trump's first 2 weeks: resistance works

The question is whether the people can continue to maintain the pressure or will we eventually succumb to facism and fear. You know Trump is ready to go full Wag the Dog at the slightest hint of a terrorist attack involving someone with a foreign sounding name. I am sure the terrorist attack in Canada got Trump's hopes up, but it was committed by a Trump fan on a mosque.


Itís easy to miss amid Donald Trumpís frenetic pace of activity and nonstop media coverage, but the most important story in American politics right now isnít about what Trump is doing: Itís that the opposition is working.

The millions of people who marched in Washington and other cities around the world on inauguration weekend and then demonstrated again at airports the following weekend are making a concrete difference in the world. So are the tens of thousands whoíve called members of Congress or showed up in person at their events.

Trump is getting things done, but all presidents do that. Look at what heís not getting done. A Republican-controlled Congress bowed to public outrage over an attempt to water down an ethics office. Trump dramatically downscaled his own executive order barring entry to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries. Heís having unprecedented difficulty getting his Cabinet nominees confirmed, even though the Senateís rules have changed to make confirmations easier than ever. Conservatives in Congress have put their big plans to privatize Medicare and public lands on hold. And the drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act is running into very big trouble.

None of this is based on the discipline and self-restraint on the part of the White House. Itís thanks to bold acts of resistance. The result is lives have been saved, many more lives have been demonstrably improved, and the proven template for future success has been created.

How Trump's policies and rhetoric are forging alliances between U.S. Jews and Muslims

Ironic that Trump has unified American Muslims and Jews . . . against him with his Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic rhetoric, policies and staff.


Donald Trump may not be able to forge peace in the Middle East, but he is doing wonders for relations between Jews and Muslims in the United States.

Jewish and Muslim activists in the United States are forging alliances like never before in reaction to the presidentís rhetoric and action toward Muslim immigrants.

Many Jewish organizations have interpreted Trumpís executive order banning entry by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries as a call to arms. Jewish delegations turned out en masse for a 10,000-strong demonstration Sunday night in New York. (ďGranddaughter of Holocaust survivors standing with refugees, Muslims immigrants,Ē read one sign.)

Almost every day in New York this last week there was an interfaith conference or prayer service ó involving Christian groups as well as Muslims and Jews ó devoted to the current crisis over predominantly Muslim immigrants and refugees.

Is The Trump Administrations Federal Website Purge a Modern Day Nazi Book Burning?

In the 1930s, the Nazi conducted ceremonial book burnings. The books targeted for burning were those viewed as being subversive or as representing ideologies opposed to Nazism. These included books written by Jewish, pacifist, Religious, classical liberal, anarchist, socialist, and communist authors, among others:

Last month, a meteorologist explained why he was trying to preserve federal climate data before Trump takes office in the Washington Post:


President-elect Donald Trump has been a purveyor of conspiracy theories when it comes to climate science for years. Heís called human-caused climate change a Chinese hoax and refused to acknowledge the existence of the California drought, promising farmers there that, as president, he would ďopen up the water.Ē Heís vowed to eliminate the EPA and the Energy Department and ďcancelĒ the Paris Agreement.

Since the election, Trump has been relentlessly converting those anti-science messages into action, wrongly believing that doubling down on fossil fuel production will help boost long-term economic growth. (That Trumpís pick for secretary of state ó ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson ó is among the least extreme of his appointments is chilling.)

According to a Sierra Club report, when he assumes the presidency on Jan. 20, Trump will be the only head of state in the world to deny mainstream climate science ó and yes, that even includes Kim Jong Un of North Korea.

In recent weeks, by surrounding himself with outspoken allies of the fossil fuel industry, promising cuts to NASAís earth science research and sending a threatening questionnaire to Energy Department staff, there is no remaining doubt that Trump is serious about overtly declaring war on science. This isnít a presidential transition. Itís an Inquisition. Itís a 21st-century book burning.

These fears turned out to be prophetic as the Trump administration has begun a campaign of deleting climate data from federal websites, as well as other data deemed liberal or subversive.


U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website, two agency employees told Reuters, the latest move by the newly minted leadership to erase ex-President Barack Obama's climate change initiatives.

The employees were notified by EPA officials on Tuesday that the administration had instructed EPA's communications team to remove the website's climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research, as well as detailed data on emissions. The page could go down as early as Wednesday, the sources said.

"If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear," one of the EPA staffers told Reuters, who added some employees were scrambling to save some of the information housed on the website, or convince the Trump administration to preserve parts of it.

The sources asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media

Propublica - How Jeff Sessions Helped Kill Equitable School Funding in Alabama

A lawsuit in the 1990s had Alabama poised to fund poor black school districts as fairly as wealthy white schools. As state attorney general, Sessions fought the effort passionately.


In the early 1990s, children across Alabamaís large rural stretches still attended faltering public schools, some with exposed wiring and rainwater leaking into classrooms. The education was in disrepair, too. Teachers couldnít assign homework for lack of textbooks. A steel mill announced it would no longer hire local high school graduates because most tested below the eighth grade level. In short, Alabamaís most economically disadvantaged students, primarily black children and those with disabilities, were missing out on a basic education.

Then, for a moment, change seemed possible. A civil-rights lawsuit challenging the system for funding Alabamaís schools succeeded, and the stateís courts in 1993 declared the conditions in the poor schools a violation of Alabamaís Constitution. Gov. Guy Hunt, who had battled the litigation, accepted defeat, and vowed to work with the courts to negotiate a solution for equitably funding all of Alabamaís schools.

ďThis is a unique and timely opportunity to make historic improvements in Alabamaís public schools for our children,Ē Hunt said at a news conference in 1993, ďand we will not miss this opportunity.Ē

Jeff Sessions had other ideas. Sessions, elected Alabama attorney general just a year after the courts had begun review of reform measures, didnít think the stateís courts should have any role in deciding how Alabama educated its children. He hired expensive private lawyers to fight the findings of the court ó first at the district level, later at the state Supreme Court level. He succeeded in removing a judge sympathetic to the plight of poor students from the case. He filed appeal after appeal, insisting he be heard even after the stateís highest court issued final decisions. He fought every effort by the court to require that schools in the stateís poorer communities be funded at the same levels as its wealthier ones.

Gallup: GOP Maintains Edge in State Party Affiliation in 2016

2018 could be a real bloodbath with more Democratic Senate seats in play than Republicans. Republicans could gain a filibuster proof majority in two years to give Trump absolute power.


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Republican states continue to outnumber Democratic states based on residents' party affiliation throughout 2016. Overall, Gallup classifies 21 states as solid or leaning Republican, 14 as solid or leaning Democratic, and 15 states as competitive. That seven-state GOP advantage contrasts with a 30-state Democratic advantage in 2008.

Although there are more Republican states, the Democratic states tend to be more populous. As a result, Democrats maintain a slight edge in party affiliation nationwide, 47% to 42%. This Democratic advantage, too, has declined considerably since 2008, one of the stronger Democratic years on record, when Democrats led 52% to 40%. That year, Republican President George W. Bush's job approval ratings hovered around 30% as the nation dealt with the worst economic problems seen in generations, while still engaged in two prolonged wars overseas.

Gallup's state party affiliation scores represent the difference between the percentage of Democrats (including Democratic-leaning independents) and Republicans (including Republican-leaning independents) in each state. Including party "leaners" in this calculation helps ensure the metric provides a good indication of each party's strength in a state, because independents who express a party leaning typically vote for that party in elections.

States in which a party has a 10-percentage-point or greater advantage in party affiliation are considered "solid" for that party. States in which a party has a five- to nine-point advantage are considered "leaning" for that party. The remaining states, those in which the percentages of Republicans and Democrats are within five percentage points of each other, are considered "competitive." The full data for all states are shown at the end of the article.

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