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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: Greenfield, MA
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 02:28 PM
Number of posts: 22,190

Journal Archives

US must release Abu Ghraib photos, judge says

Source: Reuters

18 JAN 2017 AT 16:44 ET

The U.S. Department of Defense must release a cache of photos showing how Army personnel treated detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison and other sites in Iraq and Afghanistan, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan said the release was proper because departing Defense Secretary Ash Carter failed to show why publishing the photos would endanger Americans deployed outside the United States.

Hellerstein’s decision is a victory for the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil and veterans rights groups whose lawsuit seeking the photos under the federal Freedom of Information Act began in 2004.

Photos depicting abuse at Abu Ghraib began to emerge in 2004, with some detainees claiming to have endured physical and sexual abuse, electric shocks and mock executions. The number of photos sought in the lawsuit has not been disclosed but has been estimated at roughly 2,000, according to the Congressional Record and court papers.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/2017/01/us-must-release-abu-ghraib-photos-judge-says/

Pence Clarifies What Trump Meant When He Said 'Insurance For Everybody'

Source: Talking Points Memo

By LAUREN FOX Published JANUARY 18, 2017, 4:55 PM EDT

Vice President-elect Mike Pence took the liberty on CNN Wednesday of clarifying what Donald Trump really meant when he said in a Washington Post interview that he wanted to see "insurance for everybody."

"I think it means making insurance affordable for everyone, but also allowing for the kinds of reforms in Medicaid on a state-by-state basis that will ensure -- that will make sure that we have health care coverage for the most vulnerable in our society," Pence said, according to a report from CNN.

Pence's clarification came after Trump's comments startled some Capitol Hill Republicans who feared Trump was making promises that the party could not deliver on in a replacement plan.

During the CNN interview, Pence also clarified that the Trump administration was still working on a replacement to the Affordable Care Act, but that it would be done soon. "We're getting very close. We expect to have that plan come forward in the early days of the administration," Pence told CNN.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/pence-clarifies-what-trump-meant-when-he-said-insurance-for-all

Dem Senator On Republican O'Care Replacement: 'They Are In A Panic'

Source: Talking Points Memo

By LAUREN FOX Published JANUARY 18, 2017, 3:39 PM EDT

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) says Republicans have approached him looking for help to replace the Affordable Care Act because he says "they are in a panic."

"I think they want a life line because they don't have a plan," Schatz told TPM. Schatz told TPM that Republicans' overtures to talk health care are little more than vague hints that the Democratic senator should sit down with them.

"It's 'hey, let's talk. Why don't we form a little grouping,' but nobody's buying it because they have no plan," Schatz said. Republicans took the first steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week using a process known as reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority vote to pass in the Senate. But Republicans know that they will need Democratic support to replace Obamacare.

"They want to be able to claim this is part of a good faith negotiation, but it's simply not.They have no idea what comes next so they want some bipartisan cover for their nonsense behavior," Schatz said.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/dem-senator-on-republican-ocare-replacement-they-are-in-a-panic

Utah voters to Chaffetz: Do your job - By Jennifer Rubin

January 18 at 12:30 PM

Rather than commit to investigating President-elect Donald Trump’s ongoing conflicts of interest and his refusal to comply with the letter of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has decided to dragoon the head of the Office of Government Ethics, who spoke out about Trump’s ethical shortcomings, to a closed-door session. Chaffetz prefers to browbeat the messenger rather than enforce the Constitution and prevent rampant corruption. (The Post’s editorial board today argues, “Mr. Chaffetz is already prioritizing partisanship over responsibility. Undercutting the executive branch’s ethics office would represent a larger failing.”)

Well, Chaffetz’s fellow Utahns do not like this one bit. The Salt Lake Tribune reports: “Utahns overwhelmingly want Rep. Jason Chaffetz, as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to investigate President-elect Donald Trump’s potential conflicts of interests — an endeavor Chaffetz has strongly resisted. A new poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and Hinckley Institute of Politics found 65 percent of registered voters surveyed in the state support such a probe, compared to just 31 percent opposed.”

On Monday, Shaub wrote a letter to Chaffetz recounting that his request for an open hearing had been denied. Clearly, Chaffetz wants to do his bullying behind closed doors. Chaffetz previously demanded a transcribed interview. Over the weekend, according to Shaub, Chaffetz’s office “modified your original request and proposed a private meeting with you and the Ranking Member and your respective staffs to take place on January 23.” Shaub told Chaffetz: “In recent weeks, I have spoken publicly about my concerns about the President Elect’s current plan to not divest—as well as to applaud some of his nominees’ ethics agreements, such as Rex Tillerson’s. My remarks were intended to educate the public about the shortcomings of the President Elect’s current plan and made in the hopes of persuading him to make adjustments that will resolve his conflicts of interest. I believe these remarks to be in line with OGE’s mission.” He continued: “As these communications make clear, the public wants to understand conflicts of interest in government and the role that OGE plays in preventing conflicts from hindering effective governance. Holding our meeting in public is in accordance with OGE’s educational function and will further ensure transparency in how we approach ethical governance.” He added that he will agree to a private meeting if Chaffetz insists but is “hopeful that (Chaffetz will agree that a public meeting is preferable.” He even offered to provide alternative dates.

Ethics experts were aghast. “It is the job of the Office of Government Ethics to publicly promote ethics and attempt to avoid conflicts of interest,” said Jordan Libowitz of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Committee leaders of both parties have a long bipartisan history of working across party lines and with civil society on government transparency and accountability issues. It is alarming that Rep. Chaffetz wants to speak to the head of OGE during the President-elect’s ethics vetting and does not want the public to know what he says.” He added that the insistence on a private meeting will be seen as “an attempt to silence any discussing of the incoming President’s many potential ethical issues.”

Laurence Tribe echoed that sentiment. “It’s crucial not only that the government’s chief ethics watchdog be permitted to do the vital job for which that independent officer was appointed but that the public be permitted to watch that job being done rather than having to sort, after the fact, through potentially misleading descriptions of who said what to whom at a closed meeting,” he told Right Turn.


Why progressives shouldnt despair over Trump

By Barton Swaim January 18 at 2:15 PM

Barton Swaim is the author of "The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics" and a contributing columnist at The Washington Post.

Remember “wedge issues”? You still see the term from time to time, but its popularity has diminished since the 1980s and ’90s. That’s probably just as well; Metaphorical expressions like this one usually confuse more than they clarify, although it seems to have been replaced by the equally figurative and probably more confusing “dog whistle.”

A wedge issue, if you don’t go back that far, is a controversial topic used by one campaign to create dissension within an opposing campaign. If I sense that a significant number of my opponent’s voters disagree with him or her on some question, I will raise it in an attempt to get them to doubt their support.

The salient characteristic of a wedge issue, at least in the common usage by commentators and journalists a generation ago, is its substantive unimportance. The wedge issue was almost always a social or “cultural” issue: something about race, religion or sex. When a journalist referred to gay rights, say, as a “wedge issue,” the implication was usually that the candidate raising the issue didn’t really care about it. The issue didn’t affect voters’ lives in any direct or appreciable way, but the candidate forced it into the debate in a cynical attempt to disunite the other side’s constituency.

This is more or less the way Thomas Frank uses the term in his 2004 book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Frank’s argument, if I could oversimplify, is that Kansas voters naturally tend to the left on subjects such as education, taxes and health care, but that Republicans have learned to use cultural issues — school prayer, smut on the airwaves, abortion and so on — to fool Kansans into abandoning their own interests and voting GOP.


Obamas Have Started Moving Out of White House and Into New D.C. Rental Home

Source: New York Magazine

The Obamas have a few more days at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but they are getting a jump-start on moving into their rented eight-bedroom in D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood.

Betsy Klein ✔

Moving day at the new Obama digs, where a few sets of golf clubs just headed in

1:23 PM - 17 Jan 2017
120 Retweets 172 likes

According to CNN, the labeled boxes include “‘framed photos for the living room,” “dog supplies,” “his bathroom,” and even “cleaning supplies, box 5.”


Also spotted: golf clubs and a wardrobe full of dresses.

The Obamas are officially evicted on January 20, and as soon as they head out the door, White House staff have to begin the mad rush of arranging everything to the liking of President Donald Trump.

Read more: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/01/the-obamas-have-started-moving-out-of-the-white-house.html

Trump Is Not Obama's Legacy. He's the Legacy of Anti-Obamaism.

By Jonathan Chait

January 18, 2017
7:00 a.m.

President Obama’s critics spent eight years dismissing his accomplishments as wildly overambitious, or insignificant. (Some of the very same people who accused him of the former, and warned his socialist agenda would lead to devastation, switched to the latter when their doomsday predictions failed to take hold.) Since November, the indictment has come to focus on the election of Donald Trump, an event Obama’s critics on both the left and right see as a kind of divine justice, both negating his agenda and ultimately defining it.

It is more than a bit odd to define a presidency by its successor. Most historians regard Abraham Lincoln as the greatest president in American history, despite the fact that he was immediately followed by the president most of them consider the worst, Andrew Johnson. Yet few people consider Johnson to be a central part of Lincoln’s legacy (even though Lincoln single-handedly enabled Johnson to get the job, by dumping his anti-slavery vice-president, Hannibal Hamlin, and adding the Southern, pro-slavery Johnson to the ticket to help secure his reelection.)

Whether Trump manages to reverse many of Obama’s major accomplishments remains to be seen. Trump’s bid to repeal Obamacare has run into a series of immediate obstacles, beginning with the fact that both the 20 million people who get health care through the law and the doctors, hospitals, and insurers who sell it to them are raising bloody hell about snatching it away. Trump will slow down the green-energy revolution Obama started, but he won’t halt it; the economic logic of affordable clean energy displacing expensive coal, and the diplomatic logic of international cooperation to ratchet down emissions, have taken on a momentum of their own. And the bold actions Obama took to prevent a depression — the stimulus, the bank stress test, and the auto bailout — cannot be undone by definition.

The fashion for blaming Trump on Obama has less to do with any programmatic analysis of the 44th president, though. It is a tic adopted by Obama’s critics — especially those who dislike Trump but wish to vindicate their fervent opposition to Obama. Former Bush administration staffer Peter Wehner argues in the New York Times that Obama not only failed to produce a sufficiently prosperous economy, he failed in his major domestic policy goal:


Obama To Attend Trump's Inauguration, Won't Comment On Dem Boycott

Source: Talking Points Memo

By ESME CRIBB Published JANUARY 18, 2017, 2:55 PM EDT

President Barack Obama told reporters on Wednesday that he plans to attend Donald Trump's inauguration. But he didn't comment on the mounting list of Democratic lawmakers who say they plan to skip the festivities.

"I'm not going to comment on those issues," he told reporters at his final press conference as President. "All I know is I'm going to be there. So is Michelle. And I have been checking the weather and I'm heartened by the fact that it won't be as cold as my first inauguration, because that was cold."

More than sixty congressional Democrats have announced that they will not be attending Trump's inauguration, many in response to the President-elect's attacks on civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).


Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/obama-to-attend-trump-inauguration-no-comment-dem-boycott

Trump Pick For Budget Director Failed To Pay $15K In Taxes For Babysitter

Source: Talking Points Memo

By ALLEGRA KIRKLAND Published JANUARY 18, 2017, 2:35 PM EDT

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Donald Trump’s pick for White House budget director, failed to pay over $15,000 in payroll taxes for a babysitter he and his wife employed after the birth of their triplets, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

“I have come to learn during the confirmation review process that I failed to pay FICA and federal and state unemployment taxes on a household employee for the years 2000-2004,” Mulvaney admitted in a statement to the Senate Budget Committee obtained by the Times.

The South Carolina Republican said in the statement that he had paid over $15,000 in taxes and intends to pay the state tax bill, as well as penalties and interests, to account for the unpaid sum.

In past administrations, similar tax compliance failures have sunk the prospects of Cabinet nominees. President Barack Obama’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Daschle, withdrew his nomination in 2009 after it was revealed during the confirmation process that he failed to pay roughly $140,000 in back taxes. Former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, George W. Bush’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, also withdrew from consideration in 2004 after disclosing that he had not paid taxes for a domestic employee who may have been an undocumented immigrant.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/mick-mulvaney-trump-pick-budget-director-failed-pay-payroll-taxes

Obama: Chelsea Manning Commutation Was 'Entirely Appropriate'

Source: Talking Points Memo

By ESME CRIBB Published JANUARY 18, 2017, 2:50 PM EDT

President Barack Obama said at his final press conference on Wednesday that "it made sense to commute" Chelsea Manning's sentence rather than pardon her.

"Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence," Obama told reporters. "It has been my view that given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received and that she had served a significant amount of time, that it made sense to commute and not pardon her sentence."

He said that he felt "very comfortable" about the precedent he set by commuting the bulk of Manning's remaining sentence.

"I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent," Obama said. "Wherever possible, we need folks who may have legitimate concerns about the actions of government or their superiors or the agencies in which they work, that they try to work through the established channels and avail themselves of the whistleblower protections that have been put in place."

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/obama-chelsea-manning-commutation-entirely-appropriate
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