Politics

Another One Bites The Dust

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 09:11

Staying three or four feet ahead of the sheriff and his posse, another Trump appointee is packing up and leaving town.

Brock Long, who investigators determined misused government vehicles during 400-mile commutes to his home in North Carolina, is stepping down as the head of FEMA, the agency chief revealed.

The unauthorized trips cost the taxpayers $151,000. He has also been politely asked to refund the cost of a family vacation to Hawaii. Funding the lavish lifestyles of Trump’s friends is eating its way through my wallet.

This is the dude who was FEMA chief during the Puerto Rico hurricane. I guess the paper towels were his idea.

Get this: before he left he sent an email to staff thanking them for this “incredible journey.” He ignored thanking them for every damn thing he could steal.

Crossposted at juanitajean.com


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Categories: Politics

President Lou Dobbs Orders Investigation Of 'Liberal' Chief Justice John Roberts

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 09:00

President Lou Dobbs had a rough day Thursday. As he came to the realization that Donald Trump was going to sign the bill which specifically banned the building of any walls, and as news of Andrew McCabe's upcoming book rolled out today, it was clear things were going to get worse, not better.

After all, it was just earlier this week that the President* called him up on the phone and tried to manage Lou's angry, ruffled feathers over the fact that Donald Trump had not just failed to secure funding for a wall, he'd actually gotten fewer dollars for border barriers than he could have had on December 21st, with no government shutdown.

Lou lashed out. Not at Congress. Not at Mitch McConnell. Not even at Andrew McCabe. No, Lou lashed out at Chief Justice John Roberts, demanding he be investigated, using Wall Street Journal writer James Freeman as his foil.

Media Matters helpfully provided the transcript so you can read it for yourself, or just watch the clip up above:

read more

Categories: Politics

Pelosi's strength and McConnell's weakness is generating an epic leadership gap

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:47

On Thursday, Mitch McConnell reversed himself on previous statements about the National Emergency Act and declared that he would go along with Donald Trump’s ludicrous, and dangerous, theft of $8 billion. In doing so, McConnell is writing himself a spot in the history books … a spot that falls somewhere between Arnold, Benedict and Quisling, Vidkun. 

McConnell is agreeing to support Trump in an executive branch takeover of legislative function. But wait! He’s also counting on the judicial branch, the branch he’s been trying to cut off for years, to pick up the pieces of his disaster. It’s a plan that just screams “Mitch McConnell-Style Leadership.”

But this isn’t a surprise to anyone. Mitch McConnell’s style of leadership is already extremely familiar to Americans on the left and the right. That’s why McConnell is viewed like this:

Congressional Leadership Index. Net favorable ratings of congressional leaders in 2019

Nancy Pelosi enjoys the support of most of her party, and her position has been slowly but steadily improving since Election Day. That’s not the situation for McConnell. On Election Day, he was just three points behind Pelosi. But after leading his party into the first shutdown, he entered the new congressional session 28 points behind his Democratic counterpart. That distance between McConnell and Pelosi is the leadership gap. It’s the gap between a leader who is working with the various factions of her party while balancing the needs of the country, and a leader in name only who is continually finding new ways to fail. It’s also a measure of how McConnell has taken the “upper” chamber of Congress and turned it into something even less than a sideshow.

As McConnell bends the knee to Trump again … watch this space.

Categories: Politics

A waiver went down to Georgia….

Balloon Juice - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:44

Georgia Senate Bill 106 would authorize the governor to expand Medicaid and apply for reinsurance for the ACA exchanges.

 

SECTION 2-1.
Article 7 of Chapter 4 of Title 49 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to  medical assistance generally, is amended by adding a new Code section to read as follows:
“49-4-142.3.
The department shall be authorized to submit a waiver request, on or before June 30, 2020,  to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and  Medicaid Services pursuant to Section 1115 of the federal Social Security Act, which may  include an increase in the income threshold up to a maximum of 100 percent of the federal  poverty level.

Georgia, like Utah, wants a partial expansion of Medicaid to 100% FPL. Right now, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will approve that waiver at standard federal financing rate. Utah and Georgia presumably want CMS to pay the ACA enhanced rate of 90% of costs.

The folks who earn between 100-138% FPL are dual qualified. They earn enough to qualify for Exchange subsidies on premiums and out of pocket costs. They earn little enough to also qualify for full Medicaid expansion. If a partial expansion went through in Georgia, they will be no worse off as this cohort would still be eligible for premium assistance and cost sharing reduction (CSR) silver plans.

The critical question is the counterfactual when we think about this problem.

Is the correct counterfactual full Medicaid expansion?

Or is the correct counterfactual current policy of no Medicaid expansion at all.

Choosing that counterfactual fundamentally predetermines the answer.

But either way, Georgia is thinking about expanding some of its Medicaid program. This makes whatever waiver Utah submits critical for both the Arches State and as an indicator of the future for the Peach State.

Categories: Politics

Trump goes 'off the rails,' forces Republicans to 'eat a manure sandwich' on national emergency

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:43

Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill funding government Friday morning and, at the same time, to declare the national emergency he’s using to call this whole debacle a win. His allies concede there’s no winning here: “Zero chance you could spin this as a win for Republicans,” according to House Freedom Caucus extremist Rep. Mark Meadows. “Bluntly, it was a waste of three weeks” from Trump’s cave in reopening government to the “total capitulation” of the bipartisan deal to keep government open.

Trump suddenly turned against the deal on Thursday: “We thought he was good to go all morning, and then suddenly it’s like everything is off the rails,” a Republican aide told the Washington Post. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spent Thursday cajoling Trump, reportedly talking to him on the phone at least three times to keep him from shutting down the government again just three weeks after a record-breaking shutdown. In the end, to get Trump to sign the deal, McConnell agreed to support the national emergency declaration, something a former Republican member of Congress described as “You’re watching Mitch McConnell eat a manure sandwich in this whole process” as he agrees to publicly support something he thinks is a bad idea in order to prevent something that’s a worse idea.

McConnell was just one of several congressional Republicans focused mainly on convincing Trump to sign a bill everyone realized was a bad deal, with Trump and Republicans having lost ground because of the massively unpopular shutdown. But while declaring a national emergency will allow Trump to both claim victory and do some of the damage he so badly wants to do, the story of the last couple months is the story of Trump losing ground.

As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told the Post, “I think the president’s view was that he could get us to fold,” but “Once he learned he couldn’t bully us into doing what he wanted, once he learned that the public was on our side, he realized he should give up.”

Categories: Politics

Mike's Blog Round Up

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:01
Mike's Blog Round Up

First Draft: True unity.

Slacktivist: Tone policing, abolitionist edition.

Crooked Timber: Democracy and inequality as a global foreign policy agenda.

The Nib: The gooey center.

Obsidian Wings: Night owl woes.

Whatever: How to make anything sound "science fictional."

This installment by Batocchio. E-mail tips to mbru AT crooksandliars DOT com.


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Categories: Politics

Morning Digest: GOP frontrunner for Mississippi governor could have a real primary on his hands

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:00

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

MS-Gov: On Wednesday, former Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. confirmed that he would run in this August’s GOP primary for governor. Waller is the son of former Gov. Bill Waller Sr., a Democrat who served in the 1970s, and the younger Waller reportedly had considered running for this post as an independent, but in the end he opted for the Republican Party.

Campaign Action

There he’ll encounter a definitive frontrunner in the race for the right to succeed termed-out Republican Gov. Phil Bryant: Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Reeves ended 2018 with a massive $6.7 million in the bank, while Waller will be starting largely from scratch with only about 6 months to go before the primary. However, the Clarion-Ledger’s Sam Hall argues that the former chief justice could very well put up a serious fight.

To begin with, Hall explains that Waller has some very useful connections that could help him raise money and get his name out. Perhaps more importantly, Reeves also has made his share of enemies in the state Republican Party who could cause him trouble. The lieutenant governor also serves as leader of the state Senate, and Hall writes that he’s run the chamber “with an iron fist,” which has alienated a number of party regulars.

This isn’t the first story that’s focused on Reeves’ poor relationship with his subordinates. Last month, Mississippi Today’s Adam Ganucheau wrote about the intra-party discontent with Reeves, noting that a number of state legislators refused to endorse him even though he had yet to pick up a credible primary opponent. One state senator relayed, “Somebody said they like his policies, like on tax cuts, but that he might not have the best bedside manner. That’s a good way to say it.”

Categories: Politics

BUSTED: Texas Secretary Of State Caught In Voter Fraud Lies

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:00
 Texas Secretary Of State Caught In Voter Fraud Lies

What do you call it when a state's top election official falsely flags tens of thousands of names as illegal voters? I call it voter suppression. In Texas, they call it Thursday.

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is under fire for claiming voter fraud in the case of 95,000 of the state's registered voters, saying at least 58,000 of them been voting illegally since 1996. Republicans at all levels, including, of course, the Town-Crier-In-Chief, rang the loudest of alarm bells. According to Talking Points Memo:

The voter list was released in January and suggested that of the 95,000 possible noncitizens on the Texas voter rolls, as many as 58,000 may have illegally cast ballots since 1996. President Donald Trump seized on the reports out of Texas to renew unsubstantiated claims of rampant voter fraud, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office prosecutes election fraud cases, sent a campaign fundraising email to supporters with the headline, “VOTER FRAUD ALERT.”

Apparently, it turns out, that is a massive overcount. Tens of thousands of those registered voters had already become naturalized before they voted. Despite there being questions raised about the accuracy of Whitley's report on multiple occasions, he insisted his numbers were correct, and there was no way he was wrong.

Oopsie.

Did he apologize? Define apologize.

read more

Categories: Politics

Cartoon: The Revolver

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 07:50

x Vimeo Video

Trump’s pick to lead the Department of the Interior has been through the revolving door between government and lobbying so much it’ll make your head spin. David Bernhardt has been the number two guy at the agency for a while and is likely going to be the next Interior Secretary now that ethically-challenged Ryan Zinke is out.

The more you look into Bernhardt, the slimier he appears. He lobbies for oil and gas, lead paint and big agribusiness when he is in the private sector. When he puts on his government hat, he pushes policies favorable to those same interests. Um, within months of going through the revolving door.

Bernhardt pushed oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge when he worked for George W. Bush and is trying to gut the Endangered Species Act under Trump. The more you look, the worse this guy is— and it looks like he’s well on his way to leading the agency that controls around 75% of our public lands. Enjoy the cartoons, and consider supporting my work over on Patreon!

Categories: Politics

Abbreviated pundit roundup: Trump's manufactured emergency

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 07:30

President Trump has signaled his intention to formally declare a “national emergency” in order to siphon off emergency funds to pay for the border wall he promised Mexico would pay for. We begin today’s roundup with The New York Times and its editorial against the plan:

With his intention to declare a national emergency at the southern border, President Trump is planning to take executive overreach to dizzying new heights. The damage to American democracy threatens to linger long after his administration is no more than a dank memory.

To repeat: The influx of migrant families at the southern border does not constitute a national security crisis, much less a bona fide emergency. There is, at this point, a worsening humanitarian crisis, actively fueled by the draconian policies of the administration. But the suffering on display requires thoughtful policy adjustments, not a steel monstrosity.

USA Today’s editors also decry the plan:

Assuming that Congress is unable or unwilling to overrule Trump’s emergency declaration, it will almost certainly be challenged in court. That would mean a ruling on whether the situation at the border really is a national emergency. In all likelihood, the answer would be no. Illegal immigration and the influx of Central American asylum seekers are significant ongoing problems, not national crises like Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks.

The legal challenge would also invite the courts to consider the broader question of whether Congress even has the right to cede its constitutionally derived powers, including the power of the purse, to the president. [...] All of this should prompt Republicans to ask: Is the extra wall money worth trampling on the Constitution, stretching the definition of emergency, setting a bad precedent and diverting money from other worthy projects?

The clear answer is no.

Categories: Politics

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 07:00

OK. It’s Friday. And I think we’re in for a weird one.

Congress dispatched the spending deal to the White House last night, and Trump apparently spent the day flaking out over whether he’d sign it or not. As things stand, he’s poised to go ahead with the signing, in exchange for Senate Republicans rolling over for an emergency declaration that Trump claims will enable him to ignore those Congressional “purse strings” we used to hear so much about from “constitutional conservatives.”

But don’t worry, they say. The courts will stop him. Which they usually do, to be honest. But that’s not how this whole thing is supposed to work. Then again, does anyone really think they know, any more?

Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. We’ll see what happens. Believe me.

Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!

PODCAST LISTENERS: There’s a new podcast platform in town, and the big news is: this one pays! RadioPublic pays podcast producers on a CPM basis, for listens on their native app (available for iPhones & Androids), financed by pre- and post-roll ads they insert. Not a bad way to support the show, with somebody else’s money!

So if you’re a podcast listener, please consider downloading the RadioPublic app on your Android or iOS phone. Yes, you can still download directly from their site, or listen to the player embedded here at Daily Kos. But it’s listens in their app that count toward payment.

Nothing changes on our end. It’s still Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando. Plus also, me. And you! As always, we still want your voice on the air with us. Sit down with your smart phone or other electronic recording device and send us your stories and commentary to share with the audience. There’s no easier way to try your hand at podcasting, without all the hassle!

Of course there’s no substitute for having your support via Patreon, or one-time contributions via Square Cash. (And hey, if you want a cool trick for donating sorta-kinda cost free, get their cash.me app and use this share code to get $5 in your account (plus $5 in mine) when you send your first $5 (to anyone)!

For now, how about one on the house? Here’s what we did last time out, on our previous LIVE show:

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RadioPublic|LibSyn|YouTube|Patreon|Square Cash (Share code: Send $5, get $5!)

Happy Holidays! Like most holidays, Valentine’s Day doesn’t bear much scrutiny, it is what you make of it... And, you can make the most of your day, by making David Waldman and KITM your morning information choice! A tentative deal is reached in #DenverTeacherStrike. Denver teachers ♥ teacher unions! The House doesn’t ♥ Saudis like Donald Trump does. Americans don’t ♥ Trump's tax plan. The GOP ♥s AOC. No one ♥s the Tea Party anymore. Rep. Ilhan Omar doesn’t ♥ Elliott Abrams, or any genocidal war criminals. Trump ♥s golf. Who doesn’t ♥ Greg Dworkin? Greg continues the discussion of the Paul Manafort bombshell, and the deepening mystery in the Russia probe. The US foreign policy community is poorly equipped to cope with individual and community failures, and Loren DeJonge Schulman will tell you how. Sen. Chris Coons went to the National Prayer Breakfast last week thinking it was a Christian event. Donald Trump set him straight. Trump helps Chuck Grassley find religion. Trump is beginning to figure out that the spending/border bill might not be a winning deal for him. Mitch McConnell hopes Donald figures that out slowly. Does Lou and Sean still Donald? Laura Ingraham grows a bit cold. Tomi Lahren finds herself the wisest, most sane commentator in her twitter feed. Donald wishes he knew how to quit his wall, but he just can’t. Trump urges the TVA to keep open a coal-burning power plant for the good of coal, his buddy, and money. Trump’s DHS guts task forces protecting elections from foreign meddling. Every day Is a new low in Trump's White House. At least the latest threat of measles epidemics inspires cool animations. It is also the one year anniversary of the Parkland Tragedy, the beginning of the Parkland Students fight against gun death, and one year closer to Alex Jones going to Hell.

(Thanks to Scott Anderson for the show summary! Please help me pay him more!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.
Categories: Politics

Donald Trump prepares to declare a national emergency, no matter how much harm it brings

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 06:14

At the end of a week in which Democratic and Republican legislators did exactly what American pundits keep saying that the public wants them to do—sit down at a table and pound out a compromise solution—all of their efforts are about to be made into a pointless sideshow through an action that uses “compromise” in a very different way. As in, Donald Trump is about to compromise the American system of government. Which seems oddly appropriate, since what legislators were attempting to resolve was not an issue of border security in the first place, but a crisis created by Trump. Trump is the problem. And it’s about to get worse.

Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates may have held a few surprises, but Donald Trump’s post-Valentine gift to America is perfectly predictable: He intends to drive the nation straight over a cliff for absolutely no reason other than to salve his own hypersensitive ego. After weeks of overnight efforts to pound out a package in which Democrats genuinely extended themselves to the point where support for the results is far, far, far from universal, that work and those choices are going to be annulled. According to ABC News, Trump is preparing to announce that he won’t take the $1.3 billion worth of funding that legislators agreed to fundamentally waste at the border in order to make him stop hurting America. Or rather, he will take it. Then he’ll simply appropriate $6.7 billion more

Trump’s not even stopping at the $5.7 billion he demanded all along; he’s going for a jaw-dropping $8 billion, and, best of all, he intends to steal it not just from disaster funds intended to address those most in need, but from the drug interdiction funds that actually stop the threat he’s pretending to care about. That’s right: In order to get money for something that every expert agrees will not halt the flow of drugs into the country, Trump will take $600 million from the Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund, and a whopping $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense’s drug interdiction program. These are programs that genuinely impact the flow of illegal narcotics into America.

If the FBI isn’t already too busy looking at Trump’s other issues, it might be time to open that counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump is actually an agent of foreign drug lords. Though frankly, it’s hard to think of any enemy who would not be thrilled at the lasting damage he’s creating.

Categories: Politics

On the Road and In Your Backyard

Balloon Juice - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 05:00

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the picture!

What a great shot!

 

Today, pictures from valued commenter Brian.

After 10 inches of rain and record flooding. The beetles survived.

Taken on 2018-09-23 00:00:00

Oak Point Preserve, Dallas Tx

A small blue beetle

 

Thank you so much Brian, do send us more when you can.

 

Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.

 

One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form or Send an Email

Categories: Politics

Friday Morning Open Thread: Come One, Come All…

Balloon Juice - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 04:55

Given the status of the current Oval Office Occupant, you can’t blame every possible Democrat for dreaming big. From the Washington Post, “‘Off the rails’”:

Headed for another defeat on his signature promise to make Mexico pay for a southern border wall, the president was frustrated after a briefing by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others on details of the final deal to avoid a shutdown, according to officials involved in the discussions. Trump threatened not to sign the legislation, the officials said, putting the government on the brink of another damaging shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was on the phone with Trump at least three times during the course of the nerve-racking day, pressing him to stay the course and asserting that Democrats had actually lost the spending fight, two people familiar with the conversations said.

“We thought he was good to go all morning, and then suddenly it’s like everything is off the rails,” said one senior Republican aide…

Though White House officials insisted Thursday that Trump was acting in a defiant and assertive way, few Republicans, including the president’s closest allies, were pleased with the ending: $1.375 billion for fencing and other expenditures, plus an emergency gambit that many conservatives view as an executive overreach.

Yet for Trump, the negotiations were never really about figuring out how to win. They were about figuring out how to lose — and how to cast his ultimate defeat as victory instead.

“Zero chance you could spin this as a win for Republicans,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said earlier in the week. He called the bipartisan deal “a total capitulation” and added, “Bluntly, it was a waste of three weeks.”…

“I think the president’s view was that he could get us to fold. He could talk about his emergency; he could do all kinds of things,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday in an interview with The Washington Post. “Once he learned he couldn’t bully us into doing what he wanted, once he learned that the public was on our side, he realized he should give up.”…

When Chuck Schumer takes a victory lap on looking more resolute, well…

… Trump did not have the stomach for another shutdown and told aides it had generated nonstop negative coverage. Polls showed most Americans blamed him for the shutdown in December and January, the longest in the nation’s history. And his advisers counseled him against a second shutdown, arguing that he had options to fund barrier projects without Congress. Even acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, once an advocate of budget brinkmanship, argued against a shutdown this time.

On Capitol Hill, there was no appetite, either, particularly among Republicans who were rattled by the GOP’s poor showing in suburban and swing areas last year. “Just not an option, at all,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said. “We’d state the obvious: The first shutdown was a mistake and we can’t do it again.”…

It’s worth reading the whole thing, if you’ve got the stomach for it — like being inside one of the later Trollope novels.

Also, since it’s Friday:

Categories: Politics

Late Night Open Thread: V-Day on Political Twitter

Balloon Juice - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 02:00

Bouie’s tweet naturally attracted a bunch of angry MAGAts, but it’s worth clicking on Kruse’s follow-up for more:


.
Susan Glasser, in the New Yorker“The New Republican Strategy for Dealing with the Emergency That Is Trump: Pray”

No one these days, not even the loyal Republican guard on Capitol Hill, can predict what Trump, increasingly cornered by the results of a midterm election that handed Democrats control of the House of Representatives, will do or say. There is no Team Trump from the President’s point of view, only a leader and his followers, yet the entire Trump Presidency is an extended reminder of the fact that it’s awfully hard to follow if you don’t know where the leader wants you to go. “I would have preferred we not had the shutdown,” Steve Scalise, the Republican Whip in the House, said Thursday morning, without knowing if there might be another. When CNN caught up with his G.O.P. colleague Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who cut the deal, Shelby was unsure of what Trump would do, as well. “I pray” that he will sign the spending bill, Shelby said. At around that same time, the Republican Chuck Grassley was on the Senate floor, asking the entire chamber to join in seeking divine intervention with Trump. “Let’s all pray that the President will have the wisdom to sign the bill, so that the government doesn’t shut down,” he said, as Washington waited, once again, on its capricious President.

So it’s finally come to this: only God can stop Trump, as members of his own party are admitting that they’ve basically given up trying. Sure enough, a few hours after Grassley spoke, McConnell returned to the Senate floor and announced that the President would sign the bill but also declare a national emergency in order to fund the wall. The whole episode served only to underscore the plight of congressional Republicans under Trump: holding their breath and praying that Trump doesn’t humiliate them even more than he already has with the shutdown drama; praying that something worse doesn’t happen, such as a Mueller report that forces them to publicly choose between their President and their country; praying that the Democrats will somehow overplay their hand so badly that it changes the subject in next year’s elections from Trump and all his divisiveness. “That soft, shuffling sound you hear is congressional Republicans stepping away from President Trump,” the political commentator John Harwood wrote, in his CNBC column on Tuesday. In the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, the lead editorial begged Trump to declare “border victory” and go home. “The bipartisan deal is his only good way out of this budget box canyon,” the paper said. Underscoring the point, the editors ran an op-ed on the page across from the editorial headlined “Trump’s wall crumbles under the law of diminishing returns.” The piece argued that Trump is in such trouble now because he “promised to be a dealmaker, not a conviction politician,” and he just doesn’t have deals to brag about…

… Trump, however, has already begun the process of memorializing his epic defeat as a victory, and will claim that his emergency declaration is more than sufficient grounds to move money around from elsewhere in the federal budget to accomplish his border plans. Even if the courts shoot him down on that one, it still probably won’t matter to the President, who is likely to brag that he has won, anyway. On Monday, in fact, he held a campaign rally in El Paso underneath a banner that urged, “Finish the Wall!” Never mind that the wall is not even begun, and likely never will be; never mind that Mexico, despite the President’s oft-repeated promise, is not going to pay for it; never mind the details of the congressional compromise. Trump’s self-protective alternate-reality machine found a way around the facts. “The wall is very, very on its way,” he said on Wednesday. “We are building as we speak.” He added that the nonexistent wall, which is not being finished or even built, would, in fact, be harder than Mount Everest to climb, which instantly became one of those Trump-era tweets that you’re not sure is a joke or something the President of the United States actually said…

Meanwhile, not everyone has been taking a vacation from reality, and the nature of the Democratic threat to Trump from the newly empowered House leaders is becoming clearer. This week, two House committees, Intelligence and Judiciary, signalled an aggressive approach to investigating Trump—without waiting for the report of the special counsel, Robert Mueller. House Democrats “plan a vast probe of Trump and Russia—with a heavy focus on money-laundering,” as Mike Allen declared in his Axios morning newsletter, reporting from a briefing, which we both attended, with a House Democrat. Trump “is not in a position to draw red lines” and block Democrats from looking into his finances, the member told a roomful of reporters. The House Democrats’ investigation could include the financial dealings of Trump and his family not only with Russian interests but also with Saudis and other Gulf states. On the House Judiciary Committee, the new chairman this week hired two well-known Democratic lawyers who have publicly led the calls for an obstruction-of-justice investigation of Trump, which could lead to his impeachment…

Categories: Politics

Bichon Frise Wins Applause At Westminster, And Isn't That The Point?

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 23:30

Too funny! Winky the Bichon Frise was supposed to go through the obstacle course under timed conditions, but he kept stopping to receive applause from the audience!

Related: R. Eric Thomas in Elle Magazine: "Winky, the Westminster Dog Show's Unbothered Bichon Frise, Is My New Life Coach":

"Winky's time to beat: 40 seconds. Winky's actual time: 100 seconds with 92 errors. ...While the course is very impressive when done by a dog who seems to actually care, I actually found Winky's "window-shopping at the mall" pace to be the most inspiring."

h/t Aliza. Open thread below...


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Categories: Politics

C&L's Late Nite Music Club With Lizzy Mercier Descloux

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 23:01

Happy Valentine's Day everybody. Hope you get to spend it with one you adore.

I told the story behind the song "My Funny Valentine" a few years ago on C&L and decided it was high time tonight to play another lesser-known version of the song. This take on it by the late Lizzy Mercier Descloux will do just fine.

What are you listening to tonight?


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Categories: Politics

Open thread for night owls. Jared Bernstein: Progressives should ignore the noise and stay ambitious

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 23:00

Jared Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, Executive Director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. He is now a Senior Fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a center-left think-tank. At Common Dreams, via The Washington Post, he writes—Progressives Need to Ignore the Noise and Stay Ambitious:

The New Green Deal is a 14-page document that exists about 40,000 feet up in terms of abstraction. It will not be passed by this Congress. That’s not just because of the political divide but also because it is not legislation: It’s a set of broad ideas — good ones, from my perspective — to reduce carbon emissions while creating good jobs through investment in green industry.

BladeRunnerOwlBadgeTEXT.jpg

The Green New Deal isn’t the only such proposal. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax, Sen. Bernie Sanders’s estate tax, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 70 percent income tax over $10 million, Rep. John B. Larson’s Social Security expansion, jobs programs from Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Ron Wyden, universal health coverage plans from every Democratic senator running for president (which is itself a sizable subset of the party’s caucus). None of these ideas will become law through this Congress because that’s just the political reality of divided government.

So what’s the point of offering them?

All these proposals elevate vital alternatives to the status quo, on everything from the economy to the environment to racial justice to the basic functions of our democracy. Those of us who agree with the need for changes can, and should, debate the best alternatives. But we must be careful not to let those debates diminish or shut down their urgency.

One challenge we face is that it’s harder than it should be to recognize the urgency of the moment. Unemployment is 4 percent and, at the national level, job and wage growth appear solid.

But it doesn’t take much to see the cracks in the veneer.

As Kathleen Bryant and I have described, during the 35-day government shutdown, workers with middle-class jobs were seen to be living paycheck-to-paycheck. A 2017 survey by the Federal Reserve found that 4 in 10 adults would be unable to meet an unexpected expense of $400 without “selling something or borrowing money.” The scientific community is in wide agreement that the impact of global warming is already being felt in the increased volatility of temperatures and intensity of storms. Wealth concentration is close to levels last seen in the late 1920s, and need I remind you: That didn’t end well. [...]

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“I think it's terrible the way people don't share things in this country. I think it's a heartless government that will let one baby be born owning a big piece of the country, the way I was born, and let another baby be born without owning anything. The least a government could do, it seems to me, is to divide things up fairly among the babies.” 
           ~~Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater 

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2012Orrin Hatch claims abortion is '95 percent' of what Planned Parenthood does:

Sen. Orrin Hatch is a hardcore old-school conservative. For much of recent history he was considered a conservative stalwart in the senate. That's not good enough for modern conservatism, however, which is predicated on being so absolutely batshit regressive that Ronald Reagan looks like a communist by comparison, and so Hatch has had his work cut out for him lately trying to placate a base that considers him a traitor to the cause.

Which might explain statements like this, from Hatch:

Look, we all know that Planned Parenthood does 400,000 abortions a year or more, and yet that's supported by the federal government. They claim that money isn't, uh, they don't use federal funds, well, about 95 percent of all they do, from what I understand, is abortion.

Oh! In the senate playbook we call that "Pulling a Kyl." Last year, on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Jon Kyl famously declared abortion was "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." It was an assertion so obviously and profoundly false that his office could do nothing but issue a now-famous press statement that his claim was "not intended to be a factual statement." Then, after becoming a national laughingstock (well, more so, anyway) Kyl "revised his remarks" in the congressional record to erase the claim, which you can do if you are a senator, and which I think senators believe alters the fabric of spacetime in such a way as to make the thing not have ever happened.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Border deal votes today. TV loons still mad, but MAGA fans insist the wall’s underway. Elliott Abrams haz a sad. Trump pollutes prayer breakfast. Should Coons understand he’s not welcome? Election protection gutted. Trump pushes TVA to buy a donor's coal.

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Categories: Politics

Open Thread: The Revenge of Andrew McCabe

Balloon Juice - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 22:32

We Harps are also notorious for our ability to hold a grudge! From the Washington Post‘s national security correspondent:

He didn’t read intelligence reports and mixed up classified material with what he had seen in newspaper clips. He seemed confused about the structure and purpose of organizations and became overwhelmed when meetings covered multiple subjects. He blamed immigrants for nearly every societal problem and uttered racist sentiments with shocking callousness.

This isn’t how President Trump is depicted in a new book by former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe. Instead, it’s McCabe’s account of what it was like to work for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau’s workforce. “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos — who knows what they’re doing?”

It’s a startling portrait that suggests that the Trump administration’s reputation for baseness and dysfunction has, if anything, been understated and too narrowly attributed to the president…

McCabe was known as a taciturn figure in the bureau, in contrast to the more garrulous Comey. His book reflects that penchant for brevity, with just 264 pages of text. Even so, he documents the president’s attempts to impair the Russia probe and incessant attacks on the institution, describing the stakes in sweeping, convincing language.

“Between the world of chaos and the world of order stands the rule of law,” McCabe writes. “Yet now the rule of law is under attack, including from the president himself.”

Inevitably, the book includes disturbing new detail about Trump’s subservience to Russian President Vladimir Putin. During an Oval Office briefing in July 2017, Trump refused to believe U.S. intelligence reports that North Korea had test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile — a test that Kim Jong Un had called a Fourth of July “gift” to “the arrogant Americans.”

Trump dismissed the missile launch as a “hoax,” McCabe writes. “He thought that North Korea did not have the capability to launch such missiles. He said he knew this because Vladimir Putin had told him so.”…

McCabe notes that he would like to “say much more” about his firing and questions of his candor toward other bureau officials, but that he is restrained from doing so because he is pursuing a lawsuit.

There is one area, however, in which he is considerably more forthcoming than Comey. He acknowledges that the bureau made major miscalculations in its handling of the Clinton probe in 2016 and its decision to discuss it publicly.

“As a matter of policy, the FBI does everything possible not to influence elections,” he writes. “In 2016, it seems we did.”

Categories: Politics

Seth Meyers: Did Manafort Lie to Mueller to Protect Trump? [VIDEO]

Little Green Footballs - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 21:57

Seth takes a closer look at President Trump insisting the Russia investigation has found nothing even after his ex-campaign chairman lied to the FBI.

Categories: Politics

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