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09 Dec 18:00

Leaked Document: Trump Wants to Identify Officials Who Worked on Obama Climate Policies

by James West

Donald Trump aides are attempting to identify Department of Energy staffers who played a role in promoting President Barack Obama's climate policies, according to details of a leaked transition team questionnaire published by Bloomberg Thursday night.

According to Bloomberg:

The transition team has asked the agency to list employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration's social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules. The advisers are also seeking information on agency loan programs, research activities and the basis for its statistics, according to a five-page internal document circulated by the Energy Department on Wednesday. The document lays out 65 questions from the Trump transition team, sources within the agency said.

Bloomberg goes on to say the document was confirmed by two Energy Department employees, who said agency staff were "unsettled" by the request. Someone in Trump's transition team also confirmed the authenticity of the document to Bloomberg.

Leading Trump's energy transition team is Tom Pyle, who is currently the president of the American Energy Alliance. Pyle was previously a policy analyst for former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) before becoming director of federal affairs for Koch Industries.

The president-elect isn't a fan of climate action: He has promised to end America's involvement in the Paris climate agreement and cancel financial contributions to UN climate programs, and he has claimed that global warming is a scam invented by the Chinese. (He later suggested he was joking about China's role, but regardless, he has repeatedly called climate change a "hoax.") You can read an entire timeline of Trump's various—and at times contradictory—statements on climate change here.

Trump has also assembled a team of climate change deniers, including Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, who Trump nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Read a full list of the global warming deniers and opponents of climate action who are vying for positions in the Trump administration here.

08 Dec 23:41

The Side of Dr. Seuss You Don't Know

by Derek Beres

Artists who become famous for their children's work get relegated to the 'sunshine and candy' category of our minds. But it turns out Dr. Seuss had serious political bite. 



Read More
08 Dec 20:31

Make Twitter Great Again — ban Donald Trump

by John Aravosis

Donald Trump is a menace to social media.

Please sign the petition below (or here) and tell Twitter
to permanently ban Donald Trump from its service.

http://MakeTwitterGreatAgain.org (this link takes you to this page).

Trump puts the “bully” in bully pulpit. Trump regularly uses his nearly 17 million Twitter followers to attack and insult people, places and things (289 by the New York Times’ count, and that’s only since Trump declared his candidacy in mid-2015).

What’s worse, Trump has a tendency to  “punch down”: Trump likes to attack a little guy, knowing full well the little guy will quickly get overwhelmed by the imminent onslaught of Trumps millions of minions.

United Steelworkers 1999 president Chuck Jones learned the hard about Trump’s cyberbullying yesterday when he criticized Trump’s Carrier deal on CNN.

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Within 20 minutes, Trump was on Twitter attacking Jones.

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Half an hour later, the phone calls started rolling in. “You better keep your eye on your kids,” they warned Jones. And “we know what car you drive.”

This is hardly the Trump campaign’s first run-in with Tweeting gone bad. Trump’s pick for National Security Advisers, Michael Flynn, and his eponymous son, recently tweeted fake conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, involving child sex slaves. Just such a theory sent an armed North Carolina man into a pizza parlor in Washington, DC this week.

Trump’s latest Twitter bullying led Robert Reich told CNN: “Let me just say with all due respect, Mr. Trump, you are president-elect of the United States, you are looking and acting as if you are mean and petty, thin-skinned and vindictive. Stop this.”

But Trump won’t stop this. He’s given no indication of any self-control. And in fact, he seems to relish in his Twitter tirades.

The only thing that can stop Donald Trump is Twitter itself.

While the notion of banning Trump from Twitter may at first sound extreme, Twitter’s own rules put Trump on thin ice:

Any accounts and related accounts engaging in the activities specified below may be temporarily locked and/or subject to permanent suspension.

Violent threats (direct or indirect): You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.
Harassment: You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. Some of the factors that we may consider when evaluating abusive behavior include:
– if a primary purpose of the reported account is to harass or send abusive messages to others;
– if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats;
– if the reported account is inciting others to harass another account; and
if the reported account is sending harassing messages to an account from multiple accounts.
Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.

Let’s walk through Twitter’s rules and Trump’s actions:

1. Violent threats and harassment.

And while Trump himself has not directly threatened violence on Twitter, he has threatened it offline at his rallies. So his followers know what Trump lies. And, I’d argue that Trump knows, or should know, the possible consequences of tweeting attacks on private citizens — especially after what happened with the Comet pizza parlor fiasco, where there could have been a bloodbath. Trump’s behavior is at the very least reckless.

2. Hateful conduct.

Attacking women:

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Racism:

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Promoting fake news:

Trump is also prolific at creating and sharing “fake news.” As you know, fake-news has become a huge problem this year. So much so, the Pope this week called fake news a sin. From the fake news that led to a near mass murder at the Comet restaurant, to the fake news created and shared by the Russian government to help get Trump elected, fake news is a real problem that social media must address.

Donald Trump is one of the world’s biggest purveyors of fake news. In addition to Trump’s racist fake news tweets above about Muslims on 9/11 and President Obama’s birth certificate, there are also tweets spreading fake news about autism and global warming and the election itself:

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By banning Donald Trump, Twitter can strike a major blow against fake news and bullying.

It’s time to put a stop to Donald Trump’s cyber-bully pulpit. Tell Twitter to ban Trump, and make Twitter great again.

Sign the petition below:

To: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
From: [Your Name]

Donald Trump is a menace to social media. It’s time for Twitter to permanently ban Trump from the service.

Donald Trump has repeatedly violated Twitter’s own rules prohibiting harassment and hateful conduct. By banning Donald Trump, Twitter can not only strike a major blow against bullying, but also against the increasing threat posed by “fake news,” of which Trump is a huge purveyor.

Please put an end to Donald Trump’s cyber-bully pulpit. Ban Donald Trump, and make Twitter great again.

08 Dec 16:33

We Talked to Experts About What Terms to Use for Which Group of Racists

by Josh Harkinson

There has been fierce debate in recent weeks over how the media should refer to a loose-knit movement of far-right extremist groups that gained prominence with the election of Donald Trump. Is the so-called alt-right made up of white nationalists? White supremacists? Neo-Nazis? Bigoted nativists? (The answer is, all of the above and more.) And is "alt-right" an acceptable term, or is it just vaguely cool-sounding code for age-old forms of virulent racism and anti-Semitism?

In November, ThinkProgress announced that it would no longer use the term alt-right, calling it a public-relations tool for racists. The Associated Press and the New York Times recently issued guidelines for use of the label, suggesting that it appear as "so-called alt-right" and be accompanied by a description of its meaning. (Mother Jones has used that approach for several months.) There can be zero doubt that the broader movement, such as it is, draws on hateful far-right ideologies, as I've documented through months of in-depth reporting. And particularly in the wake of an alt-right celebration of Trump's victory that waxed full Nazi, use of the term has remained a flash point.

To shed further light on the politics of hate in the Trump era, I interviewed two researchers from top organizations in the United States that study and track hate groups: Heidi Beirich, the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, and Marilyn Mayo, a research fellow with the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism. Here is how each defined racism, white supremacy, the alt-right, and other terms, followed below by some further analysis from two academic experts:

Racist

  • Someone who believes that a particular race is superior to another. Usually racists are racist against black people or people of color (in the United States). (Southern Poverty Law Center)
  • Someone who makes negative judgments or assumptions or embraces negative stereotypes about others based on their perceived racial or ethnic background. (Anti-Defamation League)

Bigot

  • Someone who doesn't tolerate people of different races or religions. Bigots are what we usually refer to as "garden variety" racists. (SPLC)
  • Similar to a racist; someone who targets not only people of different races or ethnicities, but also people of other national backgrounds, sexual orientations, genders, or religions. (ADL)

White supremacist

  • Someone who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races, and that white people should have control over people of other races. This usually means the idea that whites should control government power. In certain cases, white supremacists also advocate ethnic cleansing and an all-white state. (SPLC)
  • A term used to characterize various belief systems central to which are one or more of these tenets: (1) whites should have dominance over people of other backgrounds, especially where they may co-exist; (2) whites should live by themselves in a whites-only society; (3) white people have their own "culture" that is superior to other cultures; (4) white people are genetically superior to other people. As a full-fledged ideology, white supremacy is far more encompassing than simple racism or bigotry. (ADL)

White nationalist

  • A person of white European decent who believes in a white nation for and run by whites. White nationalists believe race and IQ are related and that black people are inherently inferior in IQ. There is a dispute among white nationalists about whether Jews are an enemy to white people or are actually as white as any European. (SPLC)
  • A term used by white supremacists as a euphemism for white supremacy. Some white supremacists try to distinguish it further by using it to refer to a form of white supremacy that emphasizes defining a country or region by white racial identity and which seeks to promote the interests of whites exclusively, typically at the expense of people of other backgrounds. (ADL)

Alt-right

  • A recent rebranding of white nationalism. (SPLC)
  • The alt-right—short for "alternative right"—is a loose network of people who promote white identity and reject mainstream conservatism in favor of politics that embrace implicit or explicit racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy. Many in the alt-right seek to inject racism and anti-Semitism into the conservative movement in the United States. (ADL)

Neo-Nazi

  • Pertains to a person or group holding political views associated with or derived from those of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. Anti-Semitism is at the core of this belief system, as it was for Hitler. (SPLC)
  • Neo-Nazi is a term used to refer to members of various groups and movements around the world in the post-World War II era that have attempted to revive key principles of National Socialism and/or that have significantly appropriated the trappings, symbology, and mythology of the Third Reich. (ADL)

It bears noting that the SPLC and the ADL are not merely organizations that observe hate groups; their choices of words reflect both a deep knowledge of their subjects and a desire to counteract them. Is white nationalism a legitimately distinct category, as the SPLC suggests, or is it just a softer sell of white supremacy, as the ADL argues? I put that and other questions about these definitions to two academics: Lawrence Rosenthal, the chair of the University of California-Berkeley Center for Right Wing Studies, and Michael Waltman, a University of North Carolina communication professor and expert on white supremacist groups.

Rosenthal says the term "white nationalist" indeed carries a distinct meaning: White nationalists want to be apart from other races but do not necessarily claim to be superior. White supremacy, on the other hand, claims that whites are better than other races and "need to dominate."

But UNC's Waltman agrees with the ADL that "white nationalist" is essentially a propaganda tool. The first time he saw it used was in 1994, he says, by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Tom Metzger. The Klan had begun to recognize that the word 'white supremacist' was associated in people's minds with "a certain kind of uncultured bigot," Waltman says. "They tried to run away from that term in many ways by using the term 'white nationalist.'"

"It is really hard to be a white nationalist and not sort of think of white people as better than other folks," Waltman adds. "That is why [they] want America to be a white country. But to simply equate the two and never talk about white nationalism is to ignore the strategic purposes for which that term was introduced."

As an apparent confluence of extremist groups galvanized by Trump over the past year, the alt-right may be even trickier to define. UC Berkeley's Rosenthal explains the alt-right as "an internet-based, social media-based affinity group that covers a fairly wide spectrum," ranging from populist nationalism to the realm of the KKK and neo-Nazis.

"The ADL has it right to emphasize that the alt-right really represents a broad network of people," agrees Waltman, including so-called men's rights activists, for example. But when it comes to the movement's virulently racist and anti-Semitic core, he adds, "'alt-right' represents another rebranding—one with even more explicit political purposes to become part of the mainstream."

What all of this means in terms of how we talk and write about these groups is a matter of perspective. As Vox's Jenée Desmond-Harris points out, the nuances between racist ideologies may matter much more to the people who ascribe to them than to those who would be the victims of the policies that they promote. It can seem like pointless quibbling to distinguish between white nationalists, white supremacists, and the alt-right when they all push bigotry and support policies such as racial profiling and race-based deportations that would be deeply hurtful to religious groups and people of color.

Yet journalists, academics, and watchdog organizations will likely continue using all these terms and more to describe the far-right extremists who've ridden Trump's coattails. One imperative is to understand these groups as they understand themselves, whether to help inform the public or to counteract them. For journalists in particular there is also a strong tradition of using the names that people and organizations say they want to be known by—among other reasons, to protect themselves from accusations of bias (and from libel suits).

But in the media, we also have a duty to call out hype and deceit. With the so-called alt-right, that means being clear about its radical and profoundly disturbing core.

08 Dec 16:32

A Quarter of Trump's Campaign Cash Came From Millionaires. Here's What They Want in Return.

by Dave Gilson

As he's packed his proposed Cabinet with wealthy white men, President-elect Donald Trump has been criticized for assembling an administration that doesn't look like America, much less the "forgotten men and women" on whose behalf he claimed to have campaigned. But perhaps it's not too surprising that a Trump White House will represent the people who really bankroll American politics.

"Whose Voice, Whose Choice?", a new report published today by the progressive think tank Demos, provides a remarkably detailed examination of who funds our elections and how this small, elite "donor class" exerts outsize influence on presidential and congressional politics. "Though history will consider 2016 one of America's most extraordinary elections, one thing remained unchanged: Presidential donors were white, male and wealthy," the report's authors write.

The report's revealing findings is based on a unique methodology. It's virtually impossible to identify the demographic details, much less the ideological preferences, of large groups of donors using the campaign finance data collected by the Federal Elections Commission. To complete their analysis, the report's authors—Sean McElwee, a policy analyst at Demos, and Brian Schaffner and Jesse Rhodes, both political scientists from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst—cross-referenced FEC data with surveys conducted by the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies and personal records compiled by Catalist, a data vendor.

Even if you already thought our campaign finance system is broken, their results are striking. In the 2016 federal election cycle, the researchers found that 91 percent of donors were white and less than half were women. White men, who make up 35 percent of the adult population, comprised 48 percent of donors. And despite making up just 3 percent of the adult population, millionaires comprised 17 percent of donors.

Both Hillary Clinton and Trump's campaigns relied on these relatively small, unrepresentative groups of donors. While nearly two-thirds of Trump's donors were white men, Clinton's were slightly more diverse. Twelve percent of her donors were people of color, compared with 5 percent for Trump. More than half of Clinton's donors were white women, yet they raised less than half of her total donations.

Clinton's and Trump's donors were also far wealthier, on average, than most Americans. According to Demos, one-third of the money raised by the 2016 presidential campaigns came from donors with a net worth between $300,000 and $1 million. One-quarter of of Clinton's donors were millionaires; all together, they made 42 percent of her total donations. Trump enjoyed less support from his superwealthy peers: Millionaires made up 17 percent of his donors and gave 27 percent of his total donations. However, Trump received more big gifts: 42 percent of his total donations came from donors giving $5,000 or more, versus 29 percent for Clinton.

Clinton and Trump's donors are indicative of a larger trend. The people who give the most to campaigns—and who have the most influence on candidates—are not representative of America at large. For example, Demos found that while people with a net worth of $1 million make up a small chunk of the population, they make up nearly one-quarter of all Democratic and Republican donors. Millionaires made up 41 percent of the donors giving $5,000 or more to Republican presidential campaigns in 2012.

The skewed demographics of campaign donors also extends to race and gender. While they comprise less than one-third of the adult population, white men made up 45 percent of federal campaign donors between 2008 and 2014. All together, they gave 57 percent of all campaign donations. In contrast, women and people of color are noticeably underrepresented in the donor pool.

The effect of these trends, the Demos report argues, has profound effects on our national political priorities. Because women, people of color, and the working class are underrepresented as donors, politicians are more likely to ignore their preferences. Meanwhile, the most influential donors are more supportive of conservative policies that are not embraced by the population as a whole (and vice versa).

This "opinion gap" between donors and nondonors has distorted economic, social, and environmental policy. It's also compounded by Republican donors' tendency to be more conservative than Republican voters in general. For example, as McElwee has written in Mother Jones, Republican voters are far less skeptical about taking action to fight climate change than the big donors who have the ear of GOP lawmakers.

The Demos report examines the ideological gulf between donors and nondonors on several issues where Trump and Republican lawmakers have promised swift action, including cutting taxes and federal spending, implementing Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan, and deregulating Wall Street. The discrepancy can also be seen in survey data about support for Obamacare when it was introduced in 2010: Across every demographic group, nondonors were more likely to support health care reform than donors. Here, too, you can see how the opinions of white, male, and wealthy donors were out of step with those of a broader slice of Americans.

Presumably, as Trump and congressional Republicans push the total repeal of Obamacare in spite of many of its provisions' popularity, this gap between donors' preferences and the public's will persist.

The authors of the Demos report conclude that their analyses "sharply underscore how the big-money system is skewing our democracy in favor of a small, homogeneous minority, whose interests diverge substantially from the preferences and needs of ordinary Americans." Their report presents plenty of new evidence that the current system of campaign finance caters to the few under the guise of "free speech" while effectively silencing the many. There's much more data and analysis in the full report: Read it here.

07 Dec 22:59

Portland proposes a special tax on companies where CEOs make 100X more than median employee

by Cory Doctorow
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Yes, please

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Environmental lawyer-turned-Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick has a cool use for the new SEC rules requiring companies to disclose executive pay starting in 2017: he's going to impose special taxes on businesses where the ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay exceeds 100:1 -- an increase of 10% for 100:1 companies, and 25% for 250:1 companies. (more…)

07 Dec 22:58

Wells Fargo is successfully convincing judges that forged arbitration agreements are legally binding

by Cory Doctorow

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When you sign up for a Wells Fargo account, you're required to sign an arbitration "agreement" giving up your right to sue the company, and requiring you to have your case heard by an arbitrator paid for by -- and dependent on -- Wells Fargo instead. (more…)

07 Dec 19:08

Democrats Intensify Push for Probe of Russian Meddling in 2016 Campaign

by David Corn

Congressional Democrats are increasing the pressure for an official and public inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Eric Swalwell, (D-Calif.), a Democrat on the House intelligence committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the senior Democrat on the House government oversight committee, announced they were introducing legislation to create a bipartisan commission to investigate any attempt by the Russian government or persons in Russia to interfere with the recent US election. The commission they propose is modeled on the widely praised 9/11 Commission. It would consist of 12 members, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. The members would be appointed by the House speaker, the Senate majority leader, and the two Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. This commission would be granted subpoena power, the ability to hold public hearings, and the task of producing a public report.

Cummings previously called on Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chair of the House government oversight committee, to launch such an investigation via his committee. But Chaffetz, who before the election vowed to probe Hillary Clinton fiercely, has not replied to Cummings' request, according to a Cummings spokesperson. Nor has Chaffetz responded to another Cummings request for a committee examination of Donald Trump's potential conflicts of interest. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) have both endorsed Cummings' proposal for a congressional investigation of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 campaign. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) also have suggested that Congress examine Russian interference in the election.

The Democrats have not yet catapulted the issue of foreign interference fully into the media spotlight. But Swalwell and Cummings' bill comes as more Democrats are demanding action. Last week, seven Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee publicly pressed the Obama administration to declassify more information about Russia's intervention in the election. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who led that effort, wrote in a brief letter to the White House, "We believe there is additional information concerning the Russian Government and the US election that should be declassified and released to the public. We are conveying specifics through classified channels."

On Tuesday, seven high-ranking House Democrats sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a classified briefing on Russian involvement in the election, including "Russian entities' hacking of American political organizations; hacking and strategic release of emails from campaign officials; the WikiLeaks disclosures; fake news stories produced and distributed with the intent to mislead American voters; and any other Russian or Russian-related interference or involvement in our recent election." The signatories were Cummings, Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic whip, Rep. John Conyers, the top Democrat on the judiciary committee, Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the foreign affairs committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the homeland security committee, Rep. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the armed services committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee. They wrote:

We are deeply concerned by Russian efforts to undermine, interfere with, and even influence the outcome of our recent election. This Russian malfeasance is not confined to us, but extends to our allies, our alliances and to democratic institutions around the world.  

The integrity of democracy must never be in question, and we are gravely concerned that Russia may have succeeded in weakening Americans' trust in our electoral institutions through their cyber activity, which may also include sponsoring disclosures through WikiLeaks and other venues, and the production and distribution of fake news stories. 

In September, Schiff joined Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, to release a statement blaming Russia for the hacks of Democratic targets during the campaign:

Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the US election. At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes of the election—we can see no other rationale for the behavior of the Russians. We believe that orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from very senior levels of the Russian government.

The Obama administration has reached the same conclusion. In October, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint statement declaring, "The US Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations." A week after the election, the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, was asked about the WikiLeaks release of hacked information during the campaign, and he said, "This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect." He added, "This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily."

For some reason, Moscow's effort to influence the presidential election has not been as big a story as, say, Trump's tweets about the musical Hamilton or Alec Baldwin. That may be because Democrats, busy licking their wounds, have not aggressively sought to keep the issue front and center. (Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have not said much on this subject.) And most Republicans have shown little interest in investigating an assault on American democracy that helped their party win the White House and retain majorities in both houses of Congress. But Cummings has been trying mightily to kick-start a public investigation. (Presumably, the FBI, CIA, and NSA have been looking into Russian hacking related to the election, but their investigations are not designed to yield public information—unless they result in a criminal prosecution.)

With the legislation to establish an independent commission, Cummings and Swalwell are opening another front. In the coming days, they will be signing up co-sponsors and looking for Republican support. Their bill provides a proposal that concerned voters—including upset Democrats and activists—can rally behind. (Were this measure to pass next year, Trump, who has steadfastly refused to blame Moscow for the hacks of the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, would have to decide whether to sign it.)

In his recent letter to Chaffetz, Cummings noted, "Elections are the bedrock of our nation's democracy. Any attempt by a foreign power to undermine them is a direct attack on our core democratic values, and it should chill every Member of Congress and American—red or blue—to the core." So far, few Republicans, including Trump, have acknowledged feeling that chill, and there's certainly more opportunity for the Democrats to turn up the heat.

07 Dec 16:37

Former CIA Officer Blasts Off: 'I'm Watching A Clown Show!'

by Karoli Kuns

It isn't often former CIA agents offer their candid opinions, but Phil Mudd certainly went there on Wolf Blitzer's show Tuesday.

Wolf Blitzer asked Mudd to comment on whether Lt. General Michael Flynn was the appropriate choice for National Security Advisor, and he went off.

He touched on the inappropriateness of Flynn leading the "Lock Her Up!" chants at Trump rallies, and then went on to the question of Flynn, Jr.'s involvement in the mess called Pizzagate, before letting fly.

"Then we go on to argue that individual's son, who retweets fake news, should be given access to top secrets," Mudd ranted.

“I’m watching a clown show! I’ve had it with this, Wolf! I want to see a transition from a campaign to reality, and I don’t see it yet.”

Nor will he, it appears. Trump did not run a reality-based campaign and he's not going to run a reality-based administration. This is the Republicans' wet dream. Full control of government and billionaires waiting for the payoff. It will be a clown show from Day one to the end. Period.


07 Dec 01:48

Weather.Com Meteorologist To Breitbart: Quit Using Our Videos To Lie About Climate Change

by Karoli Kuns

Weather.com meteorologist Kait Parker took a few minutes out of her usual duties to give Breitbart a message: Global warming is real and you shouldn't use Weather.com reports to lie to people.

Global warming is not expected to end anytime soon, despite what Breitbart.com wrote in an article published last week.

Though we would prefer to focus on our usual coverage of weather and climate science, in this case we felt it important to add our two cents — especially because a video clip from weather.com (La Niña in Pacific Affects Weather in New England) was prominently featured at the top of the Breitbart article. Breitbart had the legal right to use this clip as part of a content-sharing agreement with another company, but there should be no assumption that The Weather Company endorses the article associated with it.

The Breitbart article – a prime example of cherry picking, or pulling a single item out of context to build a misleading case – includes this statement: "The last three years may eventually come to be seen as the final death rattle of the global warming scare."

read more

06 Dec 17:53

Trump Now 'Cancelling' Military Contracts Via Twitter

by Frances Langum

The editorial headlines at WaPo and Slate say what needs to be said.

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And whatever he wants is to tweet things that have implications for our economy, our health, and even the ....GASP...stability of the markets?

Really, Donald?

DONALD TRUMP: The plane is totally out of control. It's going to be over $4 billion. for Air Force One program. and I think it's ridiculous. I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. we want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.

And watch how CNN normalizes this behavior.

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05 Dec 22:01

Edward Snowden: The Rule 41 Amendment Returns Us to the 1760s

by Natalie Shoemaker

How should we view the amendment to Rule 41? Edward Snowden would have you believe it returns us to a time when a tyrant ruled over America.



Read More
05 Dec 17:17

How governments and cyber-militias attack civil society groups, and what they can do about it

by Cory Doctorow

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The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (previously) is one of the world's leading research centers for cybersecurity analysis, and they are the first port of call for many civil society groups when they are targeted by governments and cyber-militias. (more…)

05 Dec 15:15

Every Insane Thing Donald Trump Has Said About Global Warming

by Jeremy Schulman

Donald Trump has a lot of things to say about global warming. He's called it an urgent problem, and he's called it a hoax. He's claimed it's a scam invented by the Chinese, and he's denied that he ever said that. He's promised to "cancel" the historic Paris climate agreement, and he's said he still has an "open mind" on the matter.

Some environmental activists have pointed to Trump's unpredictable statements as evidence that he might not follow through on his campaign pledges to dismantle the Obama administration's climate legacy. But Trump has already put one of the nation's most prominent climate skeptics in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency transition. And just last week, one of Trump's top aides assured Americans that the president-elect still believes climate science is mostly "bunk."

For those keeping score at home, here's a timeline of the Donald's thoughts on global warming. We'll update it from time to time.

12/6/09

Trump signs a letter calling for urgent climate action. As Grist reported earlier this year, Trump and three of his children signed a 2009 letter to President Barack Obama calling for a global climate deal. "We support your effort to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate challenge facing the United States and the world today," declared the letter, which was signed by dozens of business leaders and published as an ad in the New York Times. "If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet."

2/14/10

Trump changes his mind, says Gore should be stripped of Nobel Prize because it's cold outside. According to the New York Post, Trump had changed his tune by early 2010, telling an audience at one of his golf clubs, "With the coldest winter ever recorded, with snow setting record levels up and down the coast, the Nobel committee should take the Nobel Prize back from Al Gore…Gore wants us to clean up our factories and plants in order to protect us from global warming, when China and other countries couldn't care less. It would make us totally noncompetitive in the manufacturing world, and China, Japan and India are laughing at America's stupidity." (He would later say he was joking about the Nobel Prize being rescinded.)

2/16/10

Trump claims scientists admitted global warming is a "con." Around this time, Trump caught wind of the so-called "ClimateGate scandal," in which climate deniers wrongly claimed a trove of hacked emails showed that scientists had conspired to fabricate evidence of global warming. Trump said (inaccurately) on Fox News that there was an email "sent a couple months ago by one of the leaders of global warming, the initiative…almost saying—I guess they're saying it's a con." He added that "in Washington, where I'm building a big development, nobody can move because we have 48 inches of snow."

11/6/12

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese."

12/6/13

Trump declares global warming a "hoax." As an unusually powerful ice storm ripped through the southern part of the United States, Trump announced that climate change is a "hoax."

Jan. 2014

Trump says scientists are in on the hoax. On January 6, Trump went on Fox News to discuss a severe cold snap that set records across the country. "This winter is brutal," said Trump, adding that climate change is a "hoax" perpetrated by "scientists [who] are having a lot of fun." Trump kept up this line of argument throughout the long and miserable winter.

2014

Trump donates money to fight climate change. At some point in 2014, Trump donated $5,000 of his foundation's money to Protect Our Winters, an advocacy group dedicated to "mobilizing the outdoor sports community to lead the charge towards positive climate action." As the group's website explains, "If we're serious about slowing climate change, it's imperative that we decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and focus on cleaner sources of energy and electricity."

An entry in the Donald J. Trump Foundations's 2014 tax filings

According to the New York Daily News, Trump made the donation at the request of Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Jamie Anderson, who was one of the contestants on Trump's Celebrity Apprentice reality show. Anderson was participating on behalf of Protect Our Winters, which, she said on the show, "brings light and inspiration to climate change." Still, Trump remained a climate change denier. During the season premier, which aired in early 2015, Trump suggested that New York's cold weather undermined Gilbert Gottfried's belief in climate science:

6/17/15

Trump says it's "madness" to call climate change our "No. 1 problem." The day after announcing his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination, Trump appeared on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, where he said he was "not a believer in man-made" warming. He added, "When I hear Obama saying that climate change is the No. 1 problem, it is just madness."

9/21/15

"I'm not a believer in man-made global warming." During the GOP primary race, Trump kept up his climate denial. Here he is on Hugh Hewitt's radio show: "I'm not a believer in man-made global warming. It could be warming, and it's going to start to cool at some point. And you know, in the early, in the 1920s, people talked about global cooling…They thought the Earth was cooling. Now, it's global warming…But the problem we have, and if you look at our energy costs, and all of the things that we're doing to solve a problem that I don't think in any major fashion exists."

12/1/15

Trump says it's "ridiculous" for Obama to pursue the Paris climate agreement. The long-anticipated Paris climate negotiations began barely two weeks after the city was struck by a devastating series of terrorist attacks. As the talks kicked off, Obama called the summit "an act of defiance" against terrorism and urged the world leaders gathered there to agree to an ambitious deal to combat global warming. Trump took to Instagram to express his disapproval. "While the world is in turmoil and falling apart in so many different ways—especially with ISIS—our president is worried about global warming," he said. "What a ridiculous situation."

 

What is Obama thinking?

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

12/30/15

"A lot of it's a hoax," and "I want to use hair spray." During a campaign speech in Hilton Head, South Carolina, Trump criticized Obama for worrying too much about "the carbon footprint" of the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change—an issue that Trump proceeded to conflate with the hole in the ozone layer. "I want to use hair spray," complained Trump. "They say, 'Don't use hair spray, it's bad for the ozone.' So I'm sitting in this concealed apartment, this concealed unit…It's sealed, it's beautiful. I don't think anything gets out. And I'm not supposed to be using hair spray?" He then returned to the subject of the climate hoax: "So Obama's talking about all of this with the global warming and the—a lot of it's a hoax, it's a hoax. I mean, it's a money-making industry, okay? It's a hoax, a lot of it."

1/24/16

Trump says his claim that global warming is a Chinese hoax was a "joke." At a Democratic debate in January, Bernie Sanders criticized Trump, noting the real estate mogul "believes that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese." Trump responded the next day on Fox News, suggesting that his infamous 2012 tweet was a joke. "I think the climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax," said Trump, according to PolitiFact. "A lot of people are making a lot of money…And I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China. Obviously, I joke. But this is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change. They burn everything you could burn; they couldn't care less. They have very—you know, their standards are nothing. But they—in the meantime, they can undercut us on price. So it's very hard on our business."

May 2016

Trump wants to build a sea wall to protect his resort from global warming. Politico reported that one of Trump's golf clubs asked officials in County Clare, Ireland, to approve construction of a sea wall to guard against the dangers of sea level rise and "more frequent storm events." According to an environmental impact statement submitted with the application, "If the predictions of an increase in sea level rise as a result of global warming prove correct…it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in coastal erosion rates…In our view, it could reasonably be expected that the rate of sea level rise might become twice of that presently occurring."

5/5/16

"Trump digs coal." Shortly after clinching the GOP nomination, Trump traveled to West Virginia, where he was endorsed by the West Virginia Coal Association. At a rally in Charleston, Trump pointed to signs being waved in the crowd. "I see over here: 'Trump digs coal,'" he said. "That's true. I do." Trump promised to bring back coal mining jobs by repealing Obama's "ridiculous rules and regulations."

Trump Digs Coal
Coal miners wave signs at Trump's May 5 rally in Charleston, West Virginia. Steve Helber/AP
5/26/16

Trump pledges to "cancel" the Paris climate agreement. In a major speech on energy policy, Trump said that during his first 100 days in office, he would "rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including" his landmark climate regulations, "cancel the Paris Climate Agreement," and "stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs."

7/26/16

Trump says he "probably" called climate change a "hoax." In a remarkably odd exchange on Fox News, Bill O'Reilly asked Trump whether it was "true" that he had "called climate change a hoax." Trump replied that he "might have" done so following the release of the ClimateGate emails. "Yeah, I probably did," he added. "I see what's going on." Trump went on to say that fossil fuels "could have a minor impact" on the climate but "nothing [compared] to what they're talking about."

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
9/26/16

Trump picks leading climate skeptic to run the EPA transition. Hours before Trump's first debate with Hillary Clinton, word leaked that he had chosen Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to lead his transition efforts at the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell has a long history of opposing efforts to fight climate change; he's even accused climate scientists of "manipulating and falsifying the data." As we reported, "Ebell has called…Obama's Clean Power Plan 'illegal' and the Paris Climate Accord a 'usurpation of the Senate's authority.' Any small increase in global temperatures, he has said, is 'nothing to worry about.'"

9/26/16

Trump denies saying climate change is a Chinese hoax. During the first debate, Clinton noted that Trump "thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese." In response, Trump simply lied. "I did not, I did not," he said. "I do not say that." Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway later attempted to clarify his position, telling the Huffington Post, "What he has said is, he believes [climate change] is naturally occurring and is not all man-made."

11/23/16

Trump has "open mind" on Paris agreement but still thinks scientists are misleading us. In an interview with the New York Times two weeks after his victory, Trump made a number of confusing and contradictory statements about climate science and policy. Asked if he still planned to pull out of the Paris agreement, Trump said, "I have an open mind to it. We're going to look very carefully." He conceded that there is "some connectivity" between humans and climate change," adding, "It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it's going to cost our companies." He claimed that the "hottest day ever" was in 1898. He said climate is "a very complex subject. I'm not sure anybody is ever going to really know." He once again invoked ClimateGate, declaring, "They say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists." And, apparently in contrast to his request to build a sea wall in Ireland, Trump even speculated that sea level rise would actually improve the Trump National Doral golf course in Florida. (He may be wrong about that.)

11/27/16

Trump's "default position" is that climate change "is a bunch of bunk." Following Trump's confusing New York Times interview, incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus sought to reassure supporters that the president-elect is, in fact, a climate change denier. "As far as this issue on climate change, the only thing he was saying, after being asked a few questions about it, is, 'Look, I'll have an open mind about it,'" Priebus explained on Fox. "But he has his default position, which is that most of it is a bunch of bunk. But he'll have an open mind and listen to people."

12/1/16

Ivanka Trump "wants to make climate change…one of her signature issues." According to Politico, a "source close to" Trump's daughter Ivanka said the first daughter "wants to make climate change—which her father has called a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese—one of her signature issues…The source said Ivanka is in the early stages of exploring how to use her spotlight to speak out on the issue."

12/5/16

Donald and Ivanka Trump meet with Al Gore.

 

This story has been updated. Natalie Schreyer contributed to this article.

04 Dec 15:59

2,000 Veterans, Joy Reid Help Valiant DAPL 'Water Protectors'

by LeftOfCenter
2,000 Veterans, Joy Reid Help Valiant DAPL 'Water Protectors'

The Standing Rock Sioux have suffered awful abuse in their fight to save their land from certain demise, at the hands of the environmentally destructive fossil fuel industry. The North Dakota Cheyenne River Sioux have been hit by law enforcement with flash grenades, rubber bullets, attack dogs and water cannons, in sub-zero temperatures. This incredibly heart-wrenching fight has been finally given the much-needed attention it so deserves, but is it too little, too late?

They are fighting for the paltry amount of land and natural resources that have been appallingly siphoned off by the U.S. Government for centuries. The Sioux tribe knows full well that the Trump Administration isn't going to help their fortunes. It's public knowledge that the Führer-Elect has a personal financial stake in the DAPL, in both Phillips 66 and Energy Transfer Partners.

The Monday deadline quickly approaches for these steadfast opponents of the pipeline or as they prefer, "water protectors" to clear out their camps, desperately trying to stop the decimation of their lands. AG Loretta Lynch's office is sending mediators to North Dakota to try to work out a peaceful resolution.

NBC Reporter Cal Perry and the organizer of the Cheyenne River Sioux, Chas Jewett, spoke with Joy Reid from the protest site in very chilly North Dakota. Jewett talks about the imminent arrival of 2,000 U.S. Veterans to stand in solidarity with the protesters.

read more

02 Dec 21:00

Out of 8 companies surveyed, only Twitter would rule out helping Trump build a database of Muslims

by Cory Doctorow

twitterbird_rgb-png

Trump's Muslim database promise was extreme, even by Trump's standards; worse news, the US tech industry has built out a surveillance capability that would let him do it. (more…)

02 Dec 16:52

UK Members of Parliament exempt themselves from spying law

by Mark Frauenfelder
Electrikmonkrjs

in 1984, party leaders could turn off the TV and music.

Essence_of_Parliament_-F.H._Townsend,_1916

The UK lumpenproletariat will surely accept, nay, cheer, the fact that their betters are too well-bred to be expected to follow the same rules as the rabble.

From The Independent

Politicians have exempted themselves from Britain's new wide-ranging spying laws.

The Investigatory Powers Act, which has just passed into law, brings some of the most extreme and invasive surveillance powers ever given to spies in a democratic state. But protections against those spying powers have been given to MPs.

Most of the strongest powers in the new law require that those using them must be given a warrant. That applies to people wanting to see someone's full internet browsing history, for instance, which is one of the things that will be collected under the new law.

As J.R. "Bob" Dobbs said, "I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to."

02 Dec 15:10

This Is Not Normal

This Is Not Normal:

azspot:

  • Using your Presidential transition website to promote your own business properties is not normal.
  • Calling for millions of federal employees to sign nondisclosure agreements apart from standard government forms is not normal.
  • Blasting journalists with product placements for the labels your child, who is on your transition team, is wearing is not normal.
  • Having a wide range of senior figures in your own political party distance themselves from your transition team, citing the profound irregularity of it and worrying about future ugliness, is not normal.
  • Placing your children in charge of your business empire, then placing them on your transition team, then seeking top secret security clearances for them, is not normal. The conflicts of interest that this represents are almost too many to count, but at a basic level: you do not give someone with a financial interest to work against U.S. policy access to sensitive information — at all, ever.
  • Putting one’s children into senior positions of a government is the behavior of a banana republic, not a constitutional democracy with strong institutions. This is not normal.
  • For a president who ran on his business acumen to refuse to disclose his taxes to the public, which in turn denies anyone the ability to see if financial conflicts of interest are driving his policy decisions, is not normal.
  • Asking if he can decline the President’s salary, so as to avoid paying taxes, is not normal.
  • Owing hundreds of millions of dollars in business debt to a foreign bank and refusing to fully divest yourself from those finances is not normal.
  • Ascending to the White House while your eldest son, who is also on your transition team, and for whom you also seek a top-secret clearance, seeks out seven-digit business deals in Russia, is not normal. When Russia then names the President elect an “honorary Cossack,” it is not normal.
  • Asking a hostile foreign intelligence agency to hack into the emails of your opponent in the campaign is not normal. Refusing to comment while they expand those hacks into other institutions is not normal. Watching that same government’s propaganda network dramatically change its tone in order to benefit the incoming president is not normal. That this foreign government is also the subject of numerous investigations into the President elect’s improper business conduct is not normal.
  • Threatening to cut off Europe from NATO if payment is not received, like a gangster demanding protection money, in a way that benefits said foreign government, is not normal.
  • Chanting for the summary imprisonment of your political opponent despite repeated conclusions that she has committed no crime is not normal. Refusing to back down from that call to summarily imprison her is not normal. Essentially suggesting a show trial before you’ve even assumed office is not normal.
  • Hiring an avowed white supremacist and proud antisemite to be the chief of strategy at the White House is not normal. That the new White House chief strategist has bragged, openly, of his desire to destroy the United States is not normal. That the cofounder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center raised money for this is not normal.
  • Staff participating in authoritarian victim-blaming and antisemitic conspiracism is not normal. Collaborating with cable news channels in that antisemitic conspiracy about protests is not normal.
  • When one of the new administration’s most senior proxies and spokesmen calmly discusses committing war crimes in the Middle East, it is not normal. When he is shortlisted for the Department of State — despite lobbying for terrorists who killed Americans, despotic regimes in the Middle East, and the tyrannical government of Venezuela — it is not normal.
  • When that proxy is simply following in the footsteps of the new President-elect, who has called for reinstating torture and summarily executing the families of alleged terrorists, it is not normal.
  • The leading candidate for the department of education (who himself has no background as an educator or in education policy) openly suggesting to censor speech on universities is not normal. Nominating an oil executive as the Secretary of the Interior is not normal. Nominating a climate change denialist funded by the oil industry to run the EPA is not normal. When the leading candidate for Defense Secretary having a long history of openly racist comments toward his own staff it is not normal.
  • The FBI intervening decisively in the last week of the election to alter its outcome for one candidate is not normal. But the FBI refusing to address the president elect’s violation of sanctions against a communist country is also not normal.
  • When a woman accuses a presidential candidate of having raped her as a child, but then refuses to go forward with her allegations because of a barrage of death threats yet still receives almost no media coverage, it is not normal.
  • It is not normal for a president-elect to have 75 pending lawsuits against him, ranging from business fraud to illegal hiring practices. It is not normal for his lawyers to demand those lawsuits be delayed until after his inauguration for not discernable reason other than to retreat behind the immunity of the office.
  • Relentlessly attacking the legitimacy of the media (to be distinguished from criticizing media conduct) is not normal. Threatening to sue the media because you don’t like being criticized is not normal.
  • Being so steeped in the language of fascism that you and and your staff mirror Hitler (“make the trains run on time“), appeasing Hitler (“America First“), or Mussolini (“drain the swamp“) is not normal.
02 Dec 00:46

'Petraeus Would Have To Notify Probation Officer If Named Secretary Of State'

by Scarce

That's the literal headline used by The Hill, and it's somewhat startling to see even the simplest facts get reported in the context of the media fiasco that has been the 2016 election. One candidate held to one standard, the other given a completely free pass on all manner of outrages. And it appears this will continue well into the presidency of this, the most ill-suited man ever to claim the presidency.

Anda reminder that had FBI director James Comey (there's that name again) not stepped in on Petraeus' behalf, he would have served real prison time.

So it goes.

Source: The Hill

Former Gen. David Petraeus is reportedly one of President-elect Donald Trump's finalists to be secretary of State.

If he's chosen, he'll have three days to notify his probation officer.

Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation on April 23, 2015, for giving his mistress classified information.

"The defendant shall not leave the Western District of North Carolina without the permission of the Court or probation officer. Travel allowed for work as approved by U.S. probation office," says a court judgdment, reported first by Brad Heath of USA Today.

"The defendant shall notify the probation officer within 72 hours of any change in residence or employment," the document adds.

read more

02 Dec 00:42

What do they know and since when did they know it?

by noreply@blogger.com (digby)
What do they know and when did they know it?

by digby


Make of this what you will:































That's all the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee except Dianne Feinstein. She stuck with the Republicans.

What could it be?

I guess it's possible that these are all just partisan suck-ups who are trying to excuse Clinton's terrible campaign. But what if it isn't?

And what do we do with an incompetent puppet who ...?

.
29 Nov 21:18

Pressure Grows on Trump to Fully Reject the Hate Groups That Love Him

by Josh Harkinson

A coalition of human rights groups urged president-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to make a clear break from the hateful and racist rhetoric that marked his presidential campaign by forcefully denouncing white nationalists and taking steps to mend the nation's fraying race relations.

"Instead of pretending to be surprised by the pervasive hate that has infected our country, Mr. Trump needs to take responsibility for it and repair the damage that he has caused," said Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist groups and hate crimes. "He needs to speak out forcefully and repeatedly against bigotry. He needs to apologize to the communities he has injured and demonstrate that they will be protected and valued in his administration."

Last week, when pressed by New York Times reporters, Trump finally disavowed support specifically from white nationalists and other extremists comprising the so-called "alt-right" movement. But his comments came after more than a year of courting them on social media and beyond. And Trump has in no way conceded that his demagogic campaign energized and emboldened hate groups, nor has he distanced himself from the alt-right with anything approaching the vituperative force that he has directed at protesters and the media.

According to a report released Tuesday by the SPLC, the 10 days following Trump's election resulted in "867 bias-related incidents." They include multiple accounts of black children being asked to ride in the back of school buses, the words "Trump Nation" and "Whites Only" being painted on a church with a large immigrant population, and a gay man being pulled from his car and beaten by an assailant who told him "the president says we can kill all you faggots now."

A second report, from the SPLC's Teaching Tolerance Project, detailed the results of a post-election survey of 10,000 educators: 90 percent reported that their schools' had been negatively affected since the election, and 80 percent described heightened concern among minority students about the impact of the election on their families.

Other groups that participated in the event at the National Press Club on Tuesday included the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Council of La Raza, Muslim Advocates, and the American Federation of Teachers. The SPLC's Cohen called on Trump to reach out specifically to communities that he targeted rhetorically during his campaign, including Muslim Americans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans. He also called for the resignation of Trump's incoming chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, who formerly helmed Breitbart News and remains a highly controversial and polarizing figure. "If he doesn't do those things," Cohen said, "the hate Mr. Trump has unleashed during this election season will continue to flourish."

29 Nov 21:00

The Internet Archive is putting a Trump-resistant mirror of the web in Canada

by Cory Doctorow

flag_of_canada-svg

The Internet Archive is augmenting its existing mirrors -- one in San Francisco, one in Amsterdam, one at the Library of Alexandria (that is: San Andreas fault, below sea level, military dictatorship) -- with a copy in Canada, on the premise that "lots of copies keep stuff safe." (more…)

29 Nov 20:54

Reaction To Tom Price As HHS Secretary Is Near Universal Horror

by Frances Langum
Reaction To Tom Price As HHS Secretary Is Near Universal Horror

Tom Price has some severe "fixes" for health insurance in America. NPR reports that

Price's plan offers fixed tax credits so people can buy their own insurance on the private market. The credit starts at $1,200 a year and rises with age — but unlike Ryan's plan, it's not adjusted for income. Everyone receives the same credit whether they are rich or poor. People on Medicaid, Medicare, the military health plan known as Tricare, or the Veterans Affairs' health plan could opt instead for the tax credit to buy private insurance.

You got that, seniors? You can "opt" out of Medicare and get at least a one hundred dollar a month subsidy to buy health insurance on the private market!

29 Nov 20:52

Top Republican Won't Respond to Call to Probe Trump's Conflicts of Interest

by Russ Choma

In August, when it looked likely that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, insisted that no one should have any doubt that he would be tough on the next president when it came to personal financial entanglements.

"If you're going to run and try to become the president of the United States, you're going to have to open up your kimono and show everything, your tax returns, your medical records. You are just gonna have to do that. It's too important," Chaffetz said.

But Chaffetz, who just 11 days before the election quickly blasted out the news that FBI Director James Comey had "reopened" the FBI investigation in Clinton's emails (which was not quite true), has become quiet on the question of what's under Trump's kimono.

Two weeks ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, sent Chaffetz a letter requesting that the committee's Republicans open an inquiry into Trump's potential conflicts of interest and his claim that he planned to put his assets into a "blind trust." Based on the description offered by Trump and his surrogates, this supposed blind trust would allow his children to manage the sprawling Trump business organization, but the arrangement would not force Trump to surrender his interest in any of his enterprises. In other words, it would not be a blind trust. (An actual blind trust places assets under the control of an independent third party and prevents the owner from knowing the assets in his or her portfolio.)

Chaffetz responded to Cummings's request for an investigation with silence. So on Monday, Cummings sent Chaffetz a follow-up letter, signed by all 17 Democratic members of the committee, re-upping the request for a probe examining Trump's potential financial conflicts.

"You have the authority to launch a Committee investigation, and we are calling on you to use that power now," Cummings wrote. "You acted with unprecedented urgency to hold 'emergency' hearings and issue multiple unilateral subpoenas to investigate Secretary Clinton before the election. We ask that that you show the same sense of urgency now."

Last week, Trump told reporters at the New York Times that the president "can't have a conflict of interest." It is true that Trump is not covered by conflict-of-interest rules that govern other high-ranking federal officials. But potential conflicts still exist, and it's possible that Trump's international business dealings run afoul of a constitutional clause banning federal officials from taking gifts from foreign governments. Ethics experts have told Mother Jones that only Congress is in a position to address Trump's conflicts of interest.

His spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a member of the committee, has raised the issue of Trump's conflicts. On November 21, he tweeted at the president-elect, "You rightly criticized Hillary for Clinton Foundation. If you have contracts w/foreign govts, it's certainly a big deal, too. #DrainTheSwamp." But Chaffetz has been mum on this front. So far, Chaffetz, like most Republican leaders, is leaving Trump's swamp alone.

The full letter sent by Democrats today is below.

 
2016 11 28 EEC Et Al to Chaffetz Re Trump Conflict of Interests 0 (PDF)
2016 11 28 EEC Et Al to Chaffetz Re Trump Conflict of Interests 0 (Text)
29 Nov 20:48

Senior Senate Democrat Calls for Congressional Probe of Russian Meddling in US Election

by David Corn

The future top Democrat in the Senate has called for a congressional investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who will succeed the retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as the Senate minority leader in the Congress that convenes in January, has signed on to the demand for a congressional inquiry into the Russian hacking of political targets—including the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign—during the 2016 campaign. "Foreign interference in our elections is a serious issue, and deserves a vigorous investigation," Schumer tells Mother Jones.

Two weeks ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the senior Democrat on the House oversight committee, sent a letter to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the committee's chairman, asking that Chaffetz launch an investigation of Russian intervention in the election. This request came two days after the chief of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, said a "nation-state"—meaning Russia—had messed in the 2016 elections "to achieve a specific effect." Rogers was referring to the hacking of Democratic targets and the release of the pilfered information via WikiLeaks. Cummings noted in his letter that Chaffetz had told him that he was "open to considering such an investigation." But Chaffetz has yet to respond to Cummings, according to a Cummings spokesperson. And a spokeswoman for Chaffetz did not respond to a request for comment.

Talking to reporters earlier this month, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the top House Democrat, said Democrats would demand such a probe: "Something is not right with this picture and I think the American people deserve an investigation into how a foreign government had an impact on our election." And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was harshly critical of Trump during the campaign, proposed that Congress hold hearings on "Russia's misadventures throughout the world," including the DNC hack. "Were they involved in cyberattacks that had a political component to it in our elections?" Graham recently asked.

In August, Harry Reid demanded the FBI investigate "Russian government tampering in our presidential election" and connections between Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow. (In October, he claimed the FBI possessed "explosive information about close ties and coordination between Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government.) A congressional inquiry would differ from an FBI criminal or counterintelligence investigation in that it could result in public hearings and a public report. An FBI investigation would not necessarily yield any public information, unless it led to an indictment. Any CIA and NSA investigation of Russian hacking would likely remain secret.

Though Democrats have urged a congressional investigation of Moscow's involvement in the 2016 election, this call has hardly been full-throated. Pelosi has not repeatedly demanded a probe, and Schumer has not yet signaled this as a top priority. The Obama administration issued a statement in October declaring that the "U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations." But President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have not said much about the Russian operation or directly voiced support for a public investigation. In October, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, "There are a range of responses that are available to the president, and he will consider a response that is proportional." He added that the president's decision might never be acknowledged or disclosed.

So with the exception of Cummings' effort, there has been no fierce push for an investigation that would dig into the covert Russian campaign to affect US politics and that would inform the public about what happened, what investigations were conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and what has been done to prevent further meddling in order to ensure the security of US elections.

Yet more than 150 academic experts on cybersecurity, national defense, authoritarian regimes, and free and fair elections have signed a letter requesting a congressional investigation. The letter noted:

We represent a wide range of viewpoints on most issues, but on one point we agree: our polarized political climate must not prevent our elected representatives from doing what is right. In this case, what is right is simple: our country needs a thorough, public Congressional investigation into the role that foreign powers played in the months leading up to November. As representatives of the American people, Congress is best positioned to conduct an objective investigation…With concerns rising on both sides of the political aisle about myriad practices that challenge free and fair elections, a public investigation promises to provide the transparency needed to calm Americans' fears and restore faith in our political process. As voting American citizens, we know that nothing could be more important for our country.

In his letter to Chaffetz, Cummings wrote, "Elections are the bedrock of our nation's democracy. Any attempt by a foreign power to undermine them is a direct attack on our core democratic values, and it should chill every Member of Congress and American—red or blue—to the core." But few legislators are acting as if they are indeed chilled to the core. And Democrats, who were the victims of the hacking attributed to Vladimir Putin's regime, are generally not in an uproar about the matter. With Republican leaders showing little interest in scrutinizing Russian interference in an election that handed the GOP the White House and both houses of Congress, Democrats might have to be more vociferous in their demand for an investigation to have any chance of delivering to the public an explanation of what happened to US democracy in 2016.

UPDATE: On Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said there ought to be a congressional inquiry into Russian hacking related to the election. On Meet the Press, Rubio noted, "If a foreign government has been involved in injecting chaos into our democratic process, the American people deserve to know that." He added, "And it's something that we should not allow to stand without informing the American people of that reality. Let me just say this. I've never said it's the Russian government, although I believe it was the work of a foreign government. I will say this. If you look at what happened during our election and the sort of things that were interjected into the election process, they are very similar to the sort of active measures that you've seen the Russians use in the past in places like Eastern Europe, to interfere with the elections of other countries. And what we mean by 'interfere' is they try to undermine the credibility of the election. They try to undermine individual leaders. And they try to create chaos in the political discourse. And the fundamental argument behind it is they want people to—they want to delegitimize the process." When host Chuck Todd asked Rubio if this was "worthy of congressional scrutiny," the senator replied, "Absolutely."

28 Nov 17:14

Safe spaces for angry people

by noreply@blogger.com (digby)
Safe spaces for angry people

by digby

This, via Daily Kos:



28 Nov 15:46

High school civics: emoluments by @BloggersRUs

by noreply@blogger.com (Undercover Blue)
Electrikmonkrjs

Richard Painter, Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, Chief Ethics Counsel for Barack Obama, believe that if Trump continues to retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump.

High school civics: emoluments

by Tom Sullivan

The emoluments clause. Remember it? The Chief Ethics Counsels for the last two presidents do:

Richard Painter, Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, Chief Ethics Counsel for Barack Obama, believe that if Trump continues to retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump.

In an email to ThinkProgress, Eisen explained that “the founders did not want any foreign payments to the president. Period.” This principle is enshrined in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which bars office holders from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”
But don't you know who he is? He's Trump, dammit.

Violation of the emoluments clause was considered grounds for impeachment by founders debating the proposed constitution. Eisen continues:
Eisen said that Trump’s businesses, foreign and domestic, “are receiving a stream of such payments.” A prime example is Trump’s new hotel in Washington DC which, according to Eisen, is “actively seeking emoluments to Trump: payments from foreign governments for use of the hotel.”

“The notion that his (through his agents) solicitation of those payments, and the foreign governments making of those payments, is unrelated to his office is laughable,” Eisen added.
Not even inaugurated yet and Trump's already on the cusp of a constitutional crisis. Not that he'd know one if it bit him in the assets. Which is right where it should, actually.

He could, of course, sell off his companies to avoid violating the Constitution and/or impeachment. Or else get “Republicans in Congress [to] admit that they endorse Trump’s exploitation of public office for private gain and authorize his emoluments as the Constitution allows.” The ThinkProgress report considers the latter "unlikely." Why, I can't imagine.

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe believes Trump would be in violation upon uttering the oath of office. But the Electoral College could justifiably deny him that chance:
“[T]o vote for Trump in the absence of such complete divestment… would represent an abdication of the solemn duties of the 538 Electors,” Tribe said.
Don't hold your breath. People of integrity stopping Trump in the Electoral College? That's just as unlikely.

What does kleptocrat look like translated into Russian and written in Cyrillic script? Anyone know?

28 Nov 03:53

Amid a media blackout of the Standing Rock protests, law enforcement targets the rare journalists on the scene

by Cory Doctorow
animation-1

Unicorn Riot is a media collective that formed in response to the lack of media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Tar Sands Blockade; their news comes direct from the front lines of some of the most significant and under-reported conflicts in the world, in the form of unedited livestreams from the conflict zone, and edited highlight reels after the fact. (more…)

28 Nov 03:53

NYT publishes damning, deep look at Trump's commercial/presidential conflicts of interests, so Trump tweets crazy fake-vote conspiracy

by Cory Doctorow

050-056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8

As George W Bush taught us: "fool me twice, we don't get fooled again." (more…)

28 Nov 03:48

Greg Palast: Not Russians Or Hackers Triggering Recount. It's GOP Suppression Efforts

by Karoli Kuns

In August of this year, Greg Palast wrote an article warning about voter suppression and the role it might play in the vote. Specifically, Palast warned about Crosscheck, the program which claims to match names and Social Security numbers across participating states.

We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck's "childish methodology." He added, "God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You're probably suspected of voting in 27 states."

As he explained in this segment with Joy Reid, the issue of recounts has little to do with Russian hackers or machine tampering. It has more to do with poorly calibrated machines, old equipment, and efforts to keep eligible voters from voting.

The Clinton campaign announced this morning they are also joining the recount efforts.

Beyond the post-election audit, Green Party candidate Jill Stein announced Friday that she will exercise her right as a candidate to pursue a recount in the state of Wisconsin. She has indicated plans to also seek recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

read more