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Hullabaloo


Friday, June 23, 2017

 
Who are the terrorists?

by digby


A member of the Scranton Police Special Operations Group enters the woods in October 2014 near Canadensis, Pa., in a search for Eric Matthew Frein, an anti-government radical later convicted of killing a state trooper. Frein was caught after a 48-day manhunt.Credit: Butch Comegys/AP Photo/Scranton Times & Tribune




Dave Neiwert has written a vitally important piece on terrorist violence for the Center for Investigative Reporting. It won't reveal anything that most of my readers don't know in the abstract, but here is the data that shows where the real terrorist threat in America comes from:
Trump frequently had excoriated his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and his chief political opponent, Hillary Clinton, as naive, even gutless, for preferring “violent extremism” to describe the nature of the global and domestic terrorist threat.

“Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country,” Trump said at one campaign speech in Ohio. During another, in Philadelphia, he drove home the attack: “We now have an administration and a former secretary of state who refuse to say ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ ”

It was a strange place to make his point. The only Islamist terror attack in Pennsylvania over the past 15 years was committed by Edward Archer, a mentally ill man who shot and injured a police officer in early 2016, later telling investigators that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Far-right episodes of violent extremism were far more common.

Just two years before Trump’s Pennsylvania speech, anti-government radical Eric Matthew Frein ambushed two police officers in the township of Blooming Grove, killing one and wounding another, then led law enforcement authorities on a 48-day manhunt in the woods. (He was sentenced to death in April.)

Two months before that, police discovered that Eric Charles Smith, who ran a white supremacist church out of his home in the borough of Baldwin, had built a stockpile of some 20 homemade bombs.

In 2011, Eli Franklin Myers, an anti-government survivalist, shot two police officers, killing one, before being shot dead by state troopers in the small town of Webster. And in 2009, white supremacist Richard Poplawski opened fire on Pittsburgh police officers who had responded to a domestic dispute at his mother’s home, killing three and leaving two injured before surrendering. Poplawski, who was active on far-right websites, said he feared the police represented a plot by Obama to take away Americans’ guns.

This contrast, between Trump’s rhetoric and the reality of domestic terrorism, extends far beyond Pennsylvania. A database of nine years of domestic terrorism incidents compiled by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has produced a very different picture of the threat than that advanced by the current White House:  




  • From January 2008 to the end of 2016, we identified 63 cases of Islamist domestic terrorism, meaning incidents motivated by a theocratic political ideology espoused by such groups as the Islamic State. The vast majority of these (76 percent) were foiled plots, meaning no attack took place.
  • During the same period, we found that right-wing extremists were behind nearly twice as many incidents: 115. Just over a third of these incidents (35 percent) were foiled plots. The majority were acts of terrorist violence that involved deaths, injuries or damaged property.
  • Right-wing extremist terrorism was more often deadly: Nearly a third of incidents involved fatalities, for a total of 79 deaths, while 13 percent of Islamist cases caused fatalities. (The total deaths associated with Islamist incidents were higher, however, reaching 90, largely due to the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas.)
  • Incidents related to left-wing ideologies, including ecoterrorism and animal rights, were comparatively rare, with 19 incidents causing seven fatalities – making the shooting attack on Republican members of Congress earlier this month somewhat of an anomaly.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of Islamist incidents in our database were sting operations, more than four times the rate for far-right (12 percent) or far-left (10.5 percent) incidents. 
  •  Yet as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed out in early February, Trump has yet to acknowledge the threat of right-wing violence:
Long before the 9/11 attacks, the worst terrorist attack on American territory occurred at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and co-conspirator Terry Nichols were unabashed radical right-wing terrorists. But check the record. You won’t hear Trump use those words. 
Instead, with his statements, policies and personnel, the president has exhibited an obsession with the Islamist threat to the homeland.

Please read the whole thing. There's a lot more. The right is in the process of creating a myth of left wing violence. As Joshua Holland points out in this piece for The Nation on the same subject:
In the wake of the mass shooting in suburban Virginia last week that left House majority whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and three others wounded, conservatives have been furiously waving the bloody shirt. With left-wing hate filling half the screen, Sean Hannity blamed Democrats, saying they “dehumanize Republicans and paint them as monsters.” Tucker Carlson claimed that “some on the hard left” support political violence because it “could lead to the dissolution of a country they despise.” Others have blamed seemingly anything even vaguely identified with liberalism for inciting the violence—from Madonna to MSNBC to Shakespeare in the Park.

This is all a truly remarkable example of projection. In the wake of the shooting, Erick Erickson wrote a piece titled, “The Violence is Only Getting Started,” as if three innocent people hadn’t been brutally murdered by white supremacists in two separate incidents in just the past month.

In the real world, since the end of the Vietnam era, the overwhelming majority of serious political violence—not counting vandalism or punches thrown at protests, but violence with lethal intent—has come from the fringes of the right. Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project says that “if you go back to the 1960s, you see all kinds of left-wing terrorism, but since then it’s been exceedingly rare.” She notes that eco- and animal-rights extremists caused extensive property damage in the 1990s, but didn’t target people.

Meanwhile, says Beirich, “right-wing domestic terrorism has been common throughout that period, going back to groups like to The Order, which assassinated [liberal talk-radio host] Alan Berg [in 1984] right through to today.” Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told NPR that “when you look at murders committed by domestic extremists in the United States of all types, right-wing extremists are responsible for about 74 percent of those murders.” The actual share is higher still, as violence committed by ultraconservative Islamic supremacists isn’t included in tallies of “right-wing extremism.”

A 2015 survey of law-enforcement agencies conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum and the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security found that the police rate antigovernment extremists as a greater threat than reactionary Islamists. The authors wrote that “right-wing violence appears consistently greater than violence by Muslim extremists in the United States since 9/11, according to multiple definitions in multiple datasets.” According to the Department of Homeland Security, “Sovereign Citizens”—fringe antigovernmentalists—launched 24 violent attacks from 2010 through 2014, mostly against law enforcement personnel. When Robert Dear shot and killed three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, it became the latest in a series of bloody attacks on abortion providers dating back to Roe v. Wade in 1973. In the 30 years that followed that landmark decision, providers and clinics were targeted in more than 300 acts of violence, including arson, bombings, and assassinations, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.

But while the extreme right has held a near-monopoly on political violence since the 1980s, conservatives and Republicans are no more likely to say that using force to achieve one’s political goals is justified than are liberals and Democrats. That’s the conclusion of a study conducted by Nathan Kalmoe, a professor of political communication at the University of Louisiana. In 2010, he asked respondents whether they agreed that various violent tactics were acceptable. Kalmoe found that less than 3 percent of the population strongly agreed that “sometimes the only way to stop bad government is with physical force,” or that “some of the problems citizens have with government could be fixed with a few well-aimed bullets.” He says that while “there were tiny [partisan] variations on these specific items,” they weren’t “statistically significant on average.”

Ideology alone isn’t a significant risk factor for violence. “There’s a much stronger factor of individual personality traits that predispose people to be more aggressive in their everyday lives,” Kalmoe says, “and we see that playing out with people who engage in political violence.” Mass shooters are often found to have had histories of domestic violence, and that was true for James Hodgkinson, the shooter who attacked the congressional baseball practice in Virginia. Kalmoe says, “we often see that violent individuals have a history of violence in their personal lives. People who are abusive, or who have run afoul of the law in other ways, are more likely to endorse violence.”

Read that piece too. I don't know where all this is going but with all these right wingers armed to the teeth, the least we can do is be armed with the facts.

.


 
Trump's self-destructive Reality Show hucksterism

by digby




I wrote about the "big reveal" on the tapes for Salon this morning:



For weeks President Donald Trump has held out the enticing possibility that there were recordings of his meetings with James Comey that would prove him to be a showboating liar for all the world to see. The suspense was killing us. Finally on Thursday, after teasing and teasing, Trump admitted that he hadn’t taped anyone but still suggested he couldn’t be sure that someone else (the National Security Agency? the Russians? a 400-pound guy in his bed?) might have been taping him in the White House.

It’s true that Trump never said outright that he had taped anyone. He just hinted at it starting with this angry tweet in the wee hours of the morning on May 12:




This was three days after he had abruptly fired Comey and the morning after The New York Times reported that the two of them had a private dinner à deux during which Trump asked for Comey’s “loyalty” and Comey demurred by saying he’d give him “honesty,” which is the last thing Trump would ever want. That Times article was Trump’s first clue that Comey wasn’t going to go away quietly.

That tweet also came the morning after Trump foolishly went on national TV and admitted to NBC News’ Lester Holt that he had fired Comey because of the Russia investigation, saying, “In fact when I decided to just do it. I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story; it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.'”


We now know that Trump also told the Russian foreign minister and ambassador the morning after Comey’s firing, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” There’s no reason to believe that he whispered in the ambassador’s ear on the way out, “We’re in the clear, comrade.” But it’s not hard to imagine that the Russian official might have taken the president’s comments about Comey in that spirit.

All that set in motion a chain of events that led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller and an obstruction-of-justice investigation — to go along with the existing investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. Is he tired of all that winning yet?

Trump’s sales technique of promising to show you something bigger and better than you’ve ever seen before was developed when he was casino owner back in the ’80s and ’90s. “Come to my golden palace and you too can be a gazillionaire, just like me!” Of course, he was a terrible casino owner, caught up in money laundering and bad deals and bankruptcy for decades, but that doesn’t mean plenty of people haven’t been taken in by his promise to remake them in his image. God knows why anyone would want that, but there seems to be an endless supply of takers for Trump’s toxic snake oil.

When his plans for gambling riches finally withered away and he was deeply in debt, Trump’s sales technique morphed into the reality-show style of the 2000s such that he finally got the national celebrity attention he’d always craved with his shows “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice.” Teasing the “big reveal” is a staple of every reality show on TV. They drop hints and show sneak peeks for weeks. They milk the dramatic moments for everything they have all season long until they finally show the much-anticipated denouement in the very last show. But the “big reveal” is often a big flop. That happens a lot in the Donald Trump show, whether on TV or in the White House.




Here are some examples of Trump’s big teases, most of which he never delivered on:

1. In 2011, he started the yearslong “investigation” of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, promising he would reveal his findings. He never did. Last year he begrudgingly admitted that Obama had been born in the U.S. and then took credit for making him prove it.

2. Trump promised to release his tax returns as soon as an audit was completed but has never done so and has never shown any proof that an audit occurred. We await his release any day now with bated breath.

3. After reports emerged that Melania Trump had worked in the U.S. illegally (in the 1990s), he announced that his wife would give a press conference two weeks later to discuss her immigration status. We’re still waiting.

4. Donald Trump pretended to be seriously running for president several times and in 2000 even did some stumping in New Hampshire as a potential Reform Party candidate before deciding against it. In 2012, of course, he thought he could ride the birther wave until President Obama destroyed him at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. But he teased his 2016 run from that point onward. We know what the big reveal of that one was on Nov. 8.

Since then Trump has claimed that he knows things “other people don’t know” about the hacking of the election and promised to reveal it shortly after the beginning of the year. He apparently forgot about that but he worked his decision on the Paris climate accords more effectively, teasing it like the finale of “Project Runway.”

But the president got himself in serious trouble with his tweeted claim that Obama had “wiretapped” him, and we know how badly he’s damaged himself with the hint that he wiretapped the FBI director. He seems to believe that this sort of “showmanship” is something that translates well in politics. Frankly, he might be right. His followers love him and it keeps him in the press. But it’s not a big winner in the legal system, which is where “reality” drama becomes the real thing. Prosecutors and judges have less of a sense of humor about lies and intimidation tactics.

It’s hard to know how much Trump thinks any of this through. I’d guess very little: He runs on instinct. But his instincts are those of a cheap used car salesman or a TV pitchman. They were good enough to get him into the White House on a fluke, but they don’t give him the skills required to be president. Now they are causing him to create enormous problems for himself, one after another.

.
 

Auto-aurotic fixation

by Tom Sullivan


Still from Goldfinger (1964).

Wondering this morning: can you brainwash yourself? Because we have not seen the kind of homicidal groupthink behind the Senate health care bill since Jonestown. Former health insurance executive turned health care crusader, Wendell Potter, told Joy Reid his insurance company colleagues "would never be this cruel."



"There is something that has really happened to this party of my father and my grandfather," Potter says. "It's as if they're under some kind of evil force that would lead them to take away access to health care for millions of people..." It's gold. It's money, and the power, not the freedom, that comes with it.

I've said I can often tell a new acquaintance is a Republican by how quickly the conversation turns to money. It's a fixation. One wonders a guy like Donald Trump ever had the time away from counting his money to have sex. Unless impoverishing others is even better.

That was the plot of the 1964 Bond film, Goldfinger. The super-villain meant to break into Fort Knox, not to steal the gold there (far too troublesome to move), but to irradiate the U.S. reserves, making his own supplies far more valuable and allowing the Chinese to profit from the economic chaos. If Auric Goldfinger were real, the Midas cult would promote his beatification.

President Donald Trump. Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, obviously, are nowhere near that clever. But they've got cruel down cold. Exhibit A is the Senate health bill revealed yesterday. It's complex. Vox's Sarah Kliff has an explainer. But the New York Times editorial board cuts to the chase:

It would be a big mistake to call the legislation Senate Republicans released on Thursday a health care bill. It is, plain and simple, a plan to cut taxes for the wealthy by destroying critical federal programs that help provide health care to tens of millions of people.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other Republicans have pitched the bill as a fix for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. But their true ambition is not to reform Obamacare, which, whatever its shortcomings, has given 20 million Americans access to health insurance. If passed in its current form, the Senate bill would greatly weaken Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides insurance to nearly 69 million people, more than any other government or private program. It would do this by gradually but inexorably shifting more of the financial burden of Medicaid to states, in effect, forcing them to cover fewer people and to provide fewer services. Over all, the Senate would reduce federal spending by about $1 trillion over 10 years and use almost that much to cut taxes for rich families and health care companies.
If you can't set off a dirty bomb in Fort Knox, this might be the next best thing. Weaken and impoverish your neighbors to make yourself and your friends richer and more powerful.
The inevitable shrinkage in Medicaid will be particularly devastating to older Americans. Contrary to what many people think, the program does not just benefit the poor. Many middle-class seniors depend on it after they have exhausted their savings. Medicaid pays for two-thirds of the people in nursing homes. The disabled and parents who have children with learning disabilities also rely on Medicaid. The program covers nearly half of all births in the country. And in recent years, it has played a very important role in dealing with the opioid epidemic, especially in states like Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia. Medicaid pays between 35 percent and 50 percent of the cost of medication-assisted addiction treatment, according to two professors, one from Harvard and one from New York University.
A constituent explains to West Virginia's Republican Sen. Shelley Capito what passage of the Senate bill would mean for her daughter:

It tugs at your heart. If you have one. Unless you are someone whose soul is so corrupted by the lure of gold and the cultish brainwashing to which you've eagerly submitted that taking away health care from millions is your dream. Someone like this guy:

Superman: Is that how a warped brain like yours gets its kicks? By planning the death of innocent people?

Lex Luthor: No, by causing the death of innocent people.
Ah. Sorry. Wrong guy. Like Goldfinger, that super villain is fictional. I meant this one:




Thursday, June 22, 2017

 
A headline for the ages

by digby

Oh Politico, you never disappoint:



 
Dispatch from the shooting gallery

by digby




My God this is so awful:

A 17-year-old boy and his dog were fatally shot by deputies early Thursday morning after the pit bull attacked a deputy in Palmdale, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

The incident occurred about 3:47 a.m. in the 38500 block of 10th Street East, authorities said in a statement.

Deputies at the scene said they initially responded to a report of loud music at a party. As they were conducting an investigation, one of the deputies was allegedly bitten by a pit bull. The deputy was not seriously injured.

The dog was restrained by its owner, but as the investigation continued the animal got loose again and charged at the deputies, authorities said. The deputies then opened fire on the pit bull.

Amid the shooting, the dog's owner allegedly raced around a corner in an effort to apprehend the animal. The teen was struck at least once in the upper torso, the sheriff's department said.

He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. His name was not immediately released.

Note that the deputy wasn't seriously injured. Too bad about the dead boy. Ooops. Turns out when you try to apprehend your dog which the cops want you to apprehend they will just start firing willy nilly and shoot you too. Good to know.

.
 
Oh look, more hacking

by digby



This piece by TIME isn't alarming at all. But it does explain why Republicans believe that they can do absolutely anything they choose with no repercussions at the ballot box. They have "friends" helping them:
The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers, current and former officials tell TIME.

In one case, investigators found there had been a manipulation of voter data in a county database but the alterations were discovered and rectified, two sources familiar with the matter tell TIME. Investigators have not identified whether the hackers in that case were Russian agents.

The fact that private data was stolen from states is separately providing investigators a previously unreported line of inquiry in the probes into Russian attempts to influence the election. In Illinois, more than 90% of the nearly 90,000 records stolen by Russian state actors contained drivers license numbers, and a quarter contained the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, according to Ken Menzel, the General Counsel of the State Board of Elections.

Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign, two sources familiar with the investigations tell TIME.

“If any campaign, Trump or otherwise, used inappropriate data the questions are, How did they get it? From whom? And with what level of knowledge?” the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, Michael Bahar, tells TIME. “That is a crux of the investigation."

I wrote about the hacking of the DCCC for Salon. That's an under-reported part of this story but an important one. Republicans showed that they are more than willing to accept help from these sources and it helped them win. I think we can expect more of it since they are not going to do anything to prevent this from happening again and the president's ongoing clear signals that the US isn't serious about doing anything about it.


.


 
QOTD: Orange Julius Caesar

by digby



Talking about his cabinet full of wealthy Wall Streeters and plutocrats at his rally last night:

These are people that are great, brilliant business minds. That’s what we need. That’s what we have to have. So the world doesn’t take advantage. We can’t have the world taking advantage of us anymore. I love all people. Rich or poor. But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense? If you insist, I’ll do it — but I like it better this way.
That's Trump populism for you. Very impressive.

The crowd loved it.  But then he knows he could shoot into the crowd and kill one of them and they'd still love him. In fact, Trumpcare is a version of exactly that. Only he's using a Thompson submachine gun.

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The GOP is finally doing their oversight duty. They're investigating Hillary Clinton and Loretta Lynch

by digby



I wrote about it for Salon this morning:

Was President Donald Trump an unwitting agent of the Russian government? That’s not the sort of question we would have ever thought would be asked in a Senate hearing — and not just because until quite recently the idea that there would ever be a President Donald Trump was an absurd joke. This question is not something we could ever have imagined would be asked at a Senate hearing no matter who the president is. Yesterday it was.

The Senate Intelligence Committee heard testimony from Bill Priestap, assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, who said unequivocally that the Russians had interfered in the election. He noted that they had tried to do this many times in the past with cruder methods but the internet has given them new and very effective tools to accomplish their goals. When asked what those goals were, he replied:
The primary goal, in my mind, was to sow discord and to try to delegitimize our free and fair election process. I also think another of their goals, which the entire United States intelligence community stands behind, was to denigrate Secretary Clinton and to try to help then — current President Trump.
Following up on that comment, Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico asked Priestap if he thought Trump was an unwitting agent of the Kremlin. He sat there for several beats, saying nothing. Then the leading FBI counterintelligence official answered, “I can’t really comment on that.”

Heinrich said he didn’t blame him and the room erupted in relieved laughter. It was a very weird moment. A top FBI official said that the Russian government had interfered in the election on behalf of the current president and that he couldn’t comment on whether or not our president was an unwitting Russian agent. My God.

It’s hard to imagine a more serious and important question, particularly since Trump still refuses to admit that this interference happened, despite the insistence of the entire U.S. intelligence community that it did. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to find all this suspicious. He is the president and he denies that there is a major threat to our democratic system.

One would think that leading Republicans might start to feel the hair on the back of their necks standing up a little bit. The mere fact that a plausible case can be made that Trump was working for the Russians, knowingly or otherwise, should have them worrying about the fallout. But they have bigger fish to fry, it seems. It’s not that congressional Republicans and administration officials don’t care about their oversight responsibilities. They do. They just aren’t interested in oversight of Donald Trump. Instead they are committed to ensuring that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Loretta Lynch are properly held to account, even though none of them is still in office.

This is no joke. Fox News reported on Tuesday that Trump’s State Department has opened a formal inquiry into former Secretary of State Clinton’s emails. You may have thought this question had been thoroughly investigated and finally dropped, but apparently some Republicans are determined to keep digging until they find a reason to “lock her up.”

And it’s not just the State Department. Fox News reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has “launched its own inquiry into Clinton’s handling of emails.” And Fox News detailed as follows:
Grassley cited among his concerns the July 5 statement of former FBI Director James Comey that the agency found Clinton and her staff members were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Grassley also contended there is “evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information”
Hillary Clinton left the State Department in 2012. That’s five years ago.

Grassley has finally roused himself to examine the possible obstruction-of-justice charges against the president, but according to Politico it’s mainly out of pique that the Trump administration hasn’t turned over documents he has requested. You’ll be glad to know that along with that investigation Grassley plans to take up the federal case of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s suggesting that James Comey use the word “matter” rather than “investigation” in the middle of a presidential campaign.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican from South Carolina who is now House Oversight Committee chair (replacing the abruptly retired Jason Chaffetz), said yesterday that his committee plans to pull back on calling witnesses as this might interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller. This essentially means that the committee’s investigation will grind to a halt. Gowdy’s view is that “Congress tends to politicize everything” (which is hilarious coming from the grand Benghazi inquisitor) and the real issues with the Russia probe are not the possible interference, which he believes is overblown, but rather the active measures of Russia, the Obama administration’s response and the leaks coming out of the Trump administration. In other words, his priorities have absolutely nothing to do with Donald Trump.

Gowdy hasn’t said whether he also plans to get back in the Clinton investigation business, but he told Fox News’ Martha McCallum last month that he believed James Comey “had access to information” that made it necessary to wrest the email investigation from the Department of Justice and then he hinted broadly at collusion between former Attorney General Lynch and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. He may get another crack at his old nemesis after all.

Mueller has been up on Capitol Hill this week filling in the various committees on his investigation. Undoubtedly and for good reason, he has asked them to be cautious about compromising his investigation. It’s entirely possible that Republicans in both houses will defer to Mueller and let the special counsel’s office work quietly behind the scenes to determine if our president is a Russian agent while they stage a public spectacle featuring Hillary and Bill Clinton, Loretta Lynch and James Comey for the viewing pleasure of their president and their voters. 

Don’t say they would never do that. You know they would.



 
Oh goodie. The nasty GOP mean 'tweens are in charge.

by digby



They apparently used the old hippie punch to great effect in Georgia so they're getting thrills up the leg at the opportunity to put it to use again. This is from that nasty, smug, mean little boy Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller:
The mass email from The Daily Caller has a bouquet of groupthink that opens into floral notes of irony: it begins with a jab at “liberal snowflakes” before announcing “we are proud to be the Deplorables, the real Americans that respect this country’s tradition and fight coastal elitism.” And what better way to celebrate Deplorable pride, the conservative magazine asks, than to join their wine club?

“Les Deplorables Wine comes in two varietals, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay. Both are delicious Central Coast wines that will leave you wanting more as soon as you finish a bottle,” the Daily Caller writes, seven sentences after decrying coastal elites, many of whom were undoubtedly involved in the grape-picking, fermenting and bottling process for Les Deplorables.

If the Daily Caller is indeed trying to provoke class antagonism between “deplorables” and “coastal elites,” selling the deplorables on fancy wine seems to belie that mission. Yet the irony of a Daily Caller Wine Club was evidently lost on the editors of the conservative magazine founded by millionaire pundit Tucker Carlson, who himself has been known to be a wine drinker.

Don't try this at home folks. Only Real Americans are allowed to openly behave like nasty little 12 year old twits and insult people based upon where they live. We have to have "empathy" for them.

This is a really nice little scheme though. Sell fabulous Central Coast wine (and it is fabulous) to a bunch of nasty twits while insulting the people who live in the place where the wine was made. Sweet.

And for anyone who thinks getting rid of Pelosi will solve this problem think again. This is something they have been doing for a very long time:

Clinton = hippie
Hillary Clinton = feminazi
Gore = tree hugger
Dean = latte swilling hipster
Kerry= french speaking, arugula eating coward
Obama= secret Muslim usurper

Warren (Boston egghead), Kamala Harris (San Francisco liberal) etc, etc.

They will always find a way to mock Democrats as not being red-blooded Real Americans. It's what they do. And they are allowed to do this with impunity because they are so sensitive about their heartland culture that it would be very rude to retaliate in kind.


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Why are they doing this? Because they can.

by digby






Jamelle Bouie answers the question as to why the Republicans are going forward with their kill people for tax cuts bill despite the fact that it's the most unpopular piece of legislation in history:

The 2018 House map still favors Republicans, and the party is defending far fewer Senate seats than Democrats. Aggressively gerrymandered districts provide another layer of defense, as does voter suppression, and the avalanche of spending from outside groups. Americans might be hurt and outraged by the effects of the AHCA, but those barriers blunt the electoral impact.

The grounds for political combat seem to have changed as well. If recent special elections are any indication—where GOP candidates refused to comment on signature GOP policies—extreme polarization means Republicans can mobilize supporters without being forced to talk about or account for their actual actions. Identity, for many voters, matters more than their pocketbooks. Republicans simply need to signal their disdain—even hatred—for their opponents, political or otherwise. Why worry about the consequences of your policies when you can preclude defeat by changing the ground rules of elections, spending vast sums, and stoking cultural resentment?

It seems, then, that we have an answer for Republicans insist on moving forward with the American Health Care Act. Because they can. And who is going to stop them?

It appears they also have a foreign country helping them get elected, for which they seem to be very grateful.

They don't fear the voters because they have managed to create an alternate universe for them in which everything bad that happens to them is the fault of hippies, feminazis, immigrants and people of color and everything good that happens is because of them. When liberals scream they laugh with delight because it means we are seeing justice at their hands.

And they've successfully created an electoral system than keeps them in the majority through undemocratic means. It's a sweet scam. No wonder they are so confident. They have staged a silent coup and we just have to live with it.

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A fair deal again

by Tom Sullivan


Sunrise in the Texas Hill Country. Photo by Jim Nix via Flickr/Creative Commons.

Misplaced faith an inevitable "demographic wave" to deliver lasting majorities in Congress have cost Democrats control of state legislatures across the country as well as the national one in the District of Columbia. But, Franklin Foer writes at The Atlantic, "the presidency could offset these losses." Or so Democrats believed. Demographics would deliver. And so they might. In the meantime, there's President Donald Trump.

Foer's article examines how Democrats went from ascendance to resistance in a few, short years. The Resistance, while giving the illusion of comity within the party, heightens the tension between the concerns about race and class within the ranks,something pollster Stanley Greenberg studied for years. Foer writes:

The cultural left was on the rise for much of the Obama era (and arguably, with the notable exception of Bill Clinton’s presidency, for much longer). It squares, for the most part, with the worldview of socially liberal whites, and is given wind by the idea that demography is destiny. It has a theory of the electorate that suits its interests: It wants the party to focus its attentions on Texas and Arizona—states that have growing percentages of Latinos and large pockets of suburban professionals. (These states are also said to represent an opportunity because the party has failed to maximize nonwhite turnout there.) It celebrates the openness and interdependence embodied in both globalization and multiculturalism.

While this cultural left has sprung into vogue, the economic left has also been reenergized. It has finally recovered from a long abeyance, a wilderness period brought on by the decay of organized labor and the libertarian turn of the post–Cold War years. As the financial crash of 2008 worked its way through the Democratic Party’s intellectual system, the economic left migrated from the fringe protests of Occupy Wall Street to just outside the mainstream. While the cultural left champions a coalition of the ascendant, the economic left imagines a coalition of the despondent. It seeks to roll back the dominance of finance, to bust monopolies, to curb the predations of the market. It wants to ply back the white working-class voters—clustered in the upper Midwest—whom Greenberg deemed persuadable.

Neither strain of activism has much disagreement with the broad goals of the other. On paper, they can peaceably coexist within the same platform. But political parties can have only one main theory of the electorate at any given time—and the prevailing theory tends to prioritize one ideology. The Republican Party’s pursuit of the South shaped its view of race; the Democratic Party’s wooing of professionals led it to embrace globalization.
Foer's account of — to borrow from Charles Atlas — the dynamic tension between the cultural and economic left suggests it does not represent a real split in the party ranks. They can peacefully coexist, he believes. If there is any disagreement it is over where the party should place its focus. Part of that tension springs from the ascendance of historically marginalized groups — women and racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities — feeling their oats and leery of having the party's attentions diverted from their hopes and the long-overlooked needs. White people, especially white men, have had their turn. For millennia. But for both a generation of millennials and a working class staring at limited opportunities and a declining standard of life, the crumbs metastatic, globalized capitalism offers are as galling as prejudice is strangling to the cultural left.

Their interests are common, not competitive. But progressives and even conservative Democrats speak the language of politics and policies, not the language of values. They will explain in the finest detail how this policy or that program will enhance the lives of this marginalized group or that one. This enhances the nervous perception that for one group in the coalition to get ahead, the interests of another must go to the back of the bus or get thrown under it. Progressive politics is a failure if it is that kind of zero-sum game.

But that is how voters increasingly perceive America. Republicans are more than happy to help drive wedges between members of the Democratic coalition and between Democrats and those who might someday be again. What interests they all share, however, get lost in the endless policy talk. Democrats love to talk about policies and expect voters to infer from these their principles. But voters don't. Principles should be stated up front. Only a few Democrats do.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is one. Foer continues:
... Warren is most focused on the concept of fairness. A course she taught early in her career as a law professor, on contracts, got her thinking about the subject. (Fairness, after all, is a contract’s fundamental purpose.) A raw, moralistic conception of fairness—that people shouldn’t get screwed—would become the basis for her crusading. Although she shares Bernie Sanders’s contempt for Wall Street, she doesn’t share his democratic socialism. “I love markets—I believe in markets!” she told me. What drives her to rage is when bankers conspire with government regulators to subvert markets and rig the game. Over the years, she has claimed that it was a romantic view of capitalism that drew her to the Republican Party—and then the party’s infidelity to market principles drove her from it.

[...]

At the core of Warren’s populism is a phobia of concentrated economic power, an anger over how big banks and big businesses exploit Washington to further their own interests at the expense of ordinary people. This fear of gigantism is a storied American tradition, descended from Thomas Jefferson, even if it hasn’t recently gotten much airtime within the Democratic Party. It justifies itself in the language of individualism—rights, liberty, freedom—not communal obligation.
That is wrong. There is no divide between individualism and communal obligation. That is what conservative think tanks would have us believe. It is both-and, not either-or. Gouverneur Morris began his Preamble to the Constitution, "We the People," concluding that among the purposes of this government is to "promote the general Welfare" (mentioned again in Article I, Section 8). It is something conveniently forgotten by those who find no "we" in America, only "I" and "me."

But it is fairness that is lost today and fairness Democrats should champion. Fairness is the language they should speak before skipping ahead to economic and racial inequality and their plethora of policies. "You've got to stand for something if you want to win," Howard Dean shouted. Stand for that. Stand for fairness. Coast to coast, red to blue, urban to rural, Americans believe in it even when they don't practice it. The gnawing failure of fairness drove a lot of Americans last fall to give both major parties their middle fingers.

Foer quotes a speech Warren gave last year:
“When Big Business can shut out competition, entrepreneurs and small businesses are denied their shot at building something new and exciting.” In making a Jeffersonian argument, she has begun to deploy Jeffersonian rhetorical trappings. “As a people, we understood that concentrated power anywhere was a threat to liberty everywhere,” she argued. “Competition in America is essential to liberty in America.”
Policing that threat to basic fairness is a communal obligation, one the Republican Party and far too many Democrats have failed.

The system is rigged, Warren argues, as does Sen. Bernie Sanders. But more fundamentally, the system is unfair. People know it. People feel it. On fairness, Americans from all walks of life and all partners in the Democratic coalition can agree. That people who work hard and the unfortunate among us who cannot should be treated fairly and decently, as well as equitably in the abstract, is something that should be fundamental and explicit in our conversations, especially with Americans outside the Democrats' diverse, multicultural, multiethnic, progressive urban base.

"A decent liberalism, not to mention a savvy party," Foer writes, "shouldn’t struggle to accord dignity and respect to citizens, even if it believes some of them hold abhorrent views."

Democrats once spoke of a "fair deal":
In this society, we are conservative about the values and principles which we cherish; but we are forward-looking in protecting those values and principles and in extending their benefits. We have rejected the discredited theory that the fortunes of the Nation should be in the hands of a privileged few. We have abandoned the "trickledown" concept of national prosperity. Instead, we believe that our economic system should rest on a democratic foundation and that wealth should be created for the benefit of all.
President Harry Truman continued (1949):
The American people have decided that poverty is just as wasteful and just as unnecessary as preventable disease. We have pledged our common resources to help one another in the hazards and struggles of individual life. We believe that no unfair prejudice or artificial distinction should bar any citizen of the United States of America from an education, or from good health, or from a job that he is capable of performing.

The attainment of this kind of society demands the best efforts of every citizen in every walk of life, and it imposes increasing responsibilities on the Government.

The Government must work with industry, labor, and the farmers in keeping our economy running at full speed. The Government must see that every American has a chance to obtain his fair share of our increasing abundance. These responsibilities go hand in hand.

We cannot maintain prosperity unless we have a fair distribution of opportunity and a widespread consumption of the products of our factories and farms.

Our Government has undertaken to meet these responsibilities.
There were challenges, many challenges, to be sure, Truman told Congress, but,
The strength of our Nation must continue to be used in the interest of all our people rather than a privileged few. It must continue to be used unselfishly in the struggle for world peace and the betterment of mankind the world over.

This is the task before us.

It is not an easy one. It has many complications, and there will be strong opposition from selfish interests.

I hope for cooperation from farmers, from labor, and from business. Every segment of our population and every individual has a right to expect from our Government a fair deal.
Democrats lack a message? Try that one.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

 
Does Rep. Collins have insurance for a gun accident?

by Spocko
Congressman Chris Collins Gun Wanter
CREDIT MICHAEL MROZIAK, WBFO
Congressman Chris Collins (R) New York wrote an opinion piece titled:

I’m a member of Congress and I’m going to start carrying a gun 

Okay Rep. Collins. I hear you, now I have a few questions I think the public has a right to know, especially those who are physically in the same place as you and your gun.
(Not that I expect he will answer them, he wouldn't say whether or not he was wearing a gun today while a chamber of commerce event at Micheal's Catering & Banquet in Blasdell NY. I have more on possible reasons why he didn't answer below*.)
Congressman, you have stated you will be carrying a gun everywhere in your district.

The Personal Questions

  1. Do you have liability insurance in case you have an accident with the gun and injure someone?
  2. What does your policy cover? What is exempt?
  3. What are the limits of your insurance coverage?
  4. If you have gun insurance, how much does it cost every year?
  5. How does gun insurance costs compare to your auto insurance? Homeowners Insurance? Your umbrella liability policy?
  6. Who pays for your insurance? You or taxpayers?
To put liability limits in terms of your state-required auto insurance, for example:
  • New York auto insurance minimums are $25,000 - $50,000 limits for bodily injury for each person accidently injured in a car accident.  Gun injuries can cost much more. For gunshot survivors, the cost is much more than a single bullet. (Link)
    “It's not uncommon for us to have a patient who has a total hospital bill for their acute inpatient hospitalization of over a million dollars,” Doherty said. “And in that situation, that patient has no insurance. Essentially, that's free charity care provided by the (Advocate Christ) hospital.”  American Aljazeera, 2015 by 

How Big Is Your Gun Insurance Coverage?

  • Is there a lifetime cap on the medical bills it will pay?
  • What if you injure someone with your gun and your insurance policy tops out? Do you have additional coverage such as an umbrella policy on your homeowners insurance?
  • Would your homeowners' insurance cover this? Some policies won't cover you if you are breaking the law when your gun accident happens. ( I don't know how much training you have, but my gun-carrying friends remind me that "negligent discharge of the firearm" is a more accurate phrase than "gun accident" which the media uses.)
Example: Let's say you hold one of your fundraisers in a gun-free zone. (I was going to say a Town Hall, but you haven't had one since you were elected in 2012!)

 You decide to break that law and carry your gun concealed into the gun-free zone then BANG!  You didn't intend to have an accident, but you did intend to break the law by bringing your gun into a place it was prohibited.  Violating that law could mean you are not covered by insurance.
Collins' lunch was at Micheal's Catering & Banquet.
They hold weddings where alcohol is served. 
Micheal's Catering & Banquet probably has a policy banning guns except those carried by licensed security guards and police officers. That might have been the reason Collin didn't answer the question if he was carrying a gun. Property owners can ban guns on their property, they have that right.

Micheal's also has a financial reason to ban guns at their events. They hold wedding and events where alcohol is served and people get rowdy (see photo). For insurance reasons they might ban guns on their property.

If they do not allow guns on their property and Collins defied them, their insurance carrier should be informed.  Yes it's after the fact, but insurance carriers either raise rates or cancel policies if they find out management allows people who have unknown levels of training and blood alcohol carrying guns onto their property.

The Big Questions

  • Who pays for the medical costs of the person injured by Collin's gun?
  • What if the injured person needs long-term medical care? 
  • What happens if the injured person has a pre-existing condition because of the gun shot?
Congressman Collins voted yes on HR1628, the Trump/Ryan Bill on American Medical Care.

That bill blocked people with pre-existing conditions from getting coverage if they were without coverage for over 30 days. (Say for example they lose their job during the weeks it takes to recover from a gunshot wound. That job loss also means losing their employee health care. )

If someone who is injured with the congressman's gun now has a pre-existing condition, they would be denied medical insurance in the future.

Gun owners are not required to be financially responsible for the gun accident injuries they cause while legally carrying guns in public.

Is Collins financially responsible for the consequences of decision to carry a gun everywhere? If not, why not?

Who should pick up the medical bill for gun injuries if the responsible gun owners who caused them won't?

If the congresspeople start carrying everywhere the public should know:
  1. How well trained are they? 
  2. When they are carrying a gun. People should be able to choose not to be in the same room with them.
  3. If they are following the law when they are carrying. In many states it's prohibited to drink alcohol while carrying. 
  4. If they cause an accident while carrying the medical bills of the injured will be paid. 
  5. The injured will have guaranteed health care if they have a pre-existing condition that arises from being accidently shot by a congressman.




 
Even the working group doesn't know what's in it

by digby





Well, this is even weirder than we thought:
One of the Senate Republicans charged with negotiating an Obamacare replacement expressed frustration Tuesday with the secret process, saying that even he hasn’t seen the proposal set to be released in two days for a possible floor vote next week.

“I haven’t seen it yet, either,” said Senator Mike Lee of Utah amid complaints by other Republicans that they don’t know what’s in the health-care measure being drafted by their own party’s leaders.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to release a "discussion draft" Thursday and that it will go to the Senate floor for a vote "likely next week."

A week or so to examine the bill isn’t enough, said Lee in a video posted on his Facebook page. As one of about a dozen members of a health-care working group, he criticized the closely held process of drafting the measure.

"Even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing a bill within this working group, it’s not being written by us," Lee said. "It’s apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate. So if you’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration. I share it wholeheartedly.”


I have to say that the fact that only a half dozen Republicans have expressed any concerns with this tells you everything you need to know. Then again, it will only take three to tank it so that's better than nothing.

John McCain is an asshole of course, who will almost certainly vote for whatever mutant horror they produce,but he does gt off a good quip from time to time. This was from the same article. Asked whether he has seen the bill he said:
No, nor have I met any American that has. I’m sure the Russians have been able to hack in and gotten most of it.

Or a 400 pound guy in his bed.

.
 
Now this is what I call making a market

by digby




A major asthma drugmaker has been quietly investing in coal on the side. The pharmaceutical company that just months ago was embroiled in a price-gouging scandal over its life-saving EpiPen now finds itself at the center of another potential controversy. According to Reuters’ Michael Erman, Mylan N.V. has for the last six years been buying up refined coal in order to reduce its tax bill and boost its bottom line: 
Since 2011, Mylan has bought 99 percent stakes in five companies across the U.S. that own plants which process coal to reduce smog-causing emissions. It then sells the coal at a loss to power plants to generate the real benefit for the drug company: credits that allow Mylan to lower its own tax bill. 
These refined coal credits were approved by Congress in 2004 in order to incentivize companies to fund production of cleaner coal. They are available to any company that is willing to invest the capital, and are set to expire after 2021. 
The story gets even sketchier. Mylan Chief Executive Heather Bresch, Erman notes, “is the daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the second largest coal-producing state in the country.” And Mylan would not explain to Erman why it adopted this particular strategy, though an anonymous source said the coal operations “have increased Mylan’s net earnings by around $40 million to $50 million in each of the past two years.” Mylan is apparently the only publicly traded pharmaceutical company to partake in this type of tax aversion strategy. 
The sketchy part which Reuters did not point out is that two out of Mylan’s five specialty brand-name drugs treat pulmonary problems that are exacerbated by air pollution, a lot of which comes from coal. The company makes Perforomist, an inhaler that treats symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as prevents asthma attacks and exercise-induced bronchial spasm. 
Multiple studies have linked exacerbated COPD symptoms to air pollution, though those links are suggestive and not conclusive. Mylan is also in the asthma treatment market; the company makes EasiVent, which attaches to asthma inhalers to help the medicine more easily reach the lungs, and it recently failed to get regulatory approval for a generic version of the blockbuster asthma drug Advair. Peer-reviewed science has been linking coal combustion to more severe asthma since at least 1972. 
The coal that Mylan is investing in is refined, which means it burns cleaner than normal coal (hence the tax credits for companies that fund it). But cleaner coal is still coal, the dirtiest fuel source on the planet. Continuing to promote coal, in any form, is shown to be bad for the environment and public health. It’s good business for asthma drugmakers, though.

This company is like a cartoon superhero villain. I can't wrap my mind around this level of cynicism.

And hey, Joe Manchin, good work. You've managed to drag the Democratic Party right down in the same sewer with the Republicans on this one. But hey, I'm sure your constituents will be very happy. They are the ones who'll get COPD and asthma but then they'll blame you for your association with San Francisco liberals and elect a Republican who'll promise to kick all the hippies and gays and give them jobs they can't deliver.  But at least your daughter is making big bucks so it's all good.

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General Flynn gets more interesting every day

by digby



I caught up with the latest on our favorite nutty General for Salon this morning:

CBS News released a new poll Tuesday focused on the public’s attitudes toward the Russia investigation. It contained very bad news for President Trump. His overall approval rating sits at a new low of just 36 percent, a drop of 7 points since their last poll in April. He’s even down 11 points among Republicans. And this drop is largely due to his handling of the Russia probe. Trump is underwater on terrorism and the economy as well, with 50 percent disapproving of his handling of the former and 51 percent disapproving of the latter. But on Russia, he’s at a whopping 68 percent disapproval rating. Drill down and it gets worse: 81 percent of the public believe Trump should not stop the investigation and an amazing 64 percent believe that Trump is more interested in protecting his administration from investigation than he is in protecting the United States.

So,this isn’t going well for our fearless leader. While his hardcore base is sticking with him he is starting to lose Republican voters in very worrying numbers. His own culpability in this, so far, seems to be tied to his insistence that former national security adviser Michael Flynn not be investigated for his activities with respect to Russia. He tried to get FBI Director James Comey to drop it and then fired him. He was reported to have asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Mike Rogers to intervene. He even held a rambling press conference not long after he fired Flynn and he said this about the whole matter:

Mike Flynn is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it. He is a man who there was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence, who is with us today. And I was not happy with the way that information was given. He didn’t have to do that, because what he did wasn’t wrong. … And, you know, you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a, you know, fake news, fabricated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats, and the press plays right into it.
Trump had known for weeks by this time that the FBI believed Flynn was subject to blackmail by the Russian government. He either didn’t believe it or didn’t care.

In the same press conference in which he defended Flynn, Trump made clear he was very upset by a Wall Street Journal story published that day saying the intelligence community was withholding information from him. He read a statement from the acting CIA director that denied it. This is interesting because the New York Times ran a big story Tuesday night pertaining to that question.
[N]early every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening. Mr. Pompeo has not said whether C.I.A. officials left him in the dark about their views of Mr. Flynn, but one administration official said Mr. Pompeo did not share any concerns about Mr. Flynn with the president.
Of course we cannot know for sure that Pompeo never expressed any worries about Flynn to Trump. But it’s astonishing no matter how you look at it. If the CIA failed to tell its new director about important questions regarding the national security adviser, and allowed him to pass on classified secrets to a potentially compromised person, that’s a problem. If Pompeo continued to brief someone he knew his agency believed was subject to blackmail, that should disqualify him from the job. But if Pompeo did tell the president and was ordered to keep on briefing Flynn anyway — that’s even worse. We already know that Trump disregarded the warnings from Acting Attorney General Sally Yates because he believed she was a Democratic stooge. But if he did the same with his own handpicked CIA director, he’s even more of a rogue president than we knew.

If there’s one thing clear by now it’s that Donald Trump demands loyalty from the people around him and that when he doesn’t get it, he gets very upset. But he has rarely shown such loyalty in return. For some reason he has shown tremendous loyalty to Michael Flynn and the reason for that has to be one of the major lines of inquiry in the investigation into Flynn’s activities.

Flynn’s story gets crazier by the day. This week we’ve seen new reporting that shows him being in involved in even more nefarious business deals than we knew before. There was a jaw-dropping article by Jeff Stein of Newsweek reporting that Flynn tried to broker a previously overlooked $100 million deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East. That’s right, they actually thought it was a good idea to create nuclear material in the middle of a violent, sectarian religious war zone. What could go wrong?

It’s a complicated deal involving some of Flynn’s business associates as well as some ex-military types and others who apparently saw it as a way to form a Middle East security perimeter manned by the Russians, the Europeans and the Saudis, while isolating Iran — and making huge profits. It’s all very byzantine, and the Obama administration was opposed to any version of it for good reason.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the FBI is investigating the co-founder of Flynn’s lobbying company, a man named Bijan Kian, who seems to have aroused their interest over his high-dollar dealings with certain Turkish and Russian businessmen. It’s unclear if this is a new direction for the investigation or simply one that follows on Flynn’s previously reported activities.

Meanwhile, Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller is continuing to beef up his team. He has added the Russian-speaking Elizabeth Prelogar, a former law clerk to Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, to his team. In another Reuters report we learn that Andrew Weissmann, former chief of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud section, another recent addition to Mueller’s team, has the Trump people concerned because he’s known for his skills at getting people to flip on their superiors, friends and colleagues.

Weissmann may not be required to use his expertise on Flynn. According to speculation by two Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., it looks very much as if Flynn is already cooperating with the FBI. Stay tuned.
 
You say you want a revolution?

by digby




Well we have one. It's a right wing revolution. And they are winning.

The Republicans will do anything to destroy all attempts to provide universal health care to the American people and give themselves and their rich friends and heirs a huge tax cut by any means necessary. So far they have passed gigantic legislation without waiting for the CBO score that would outline the costs and the impact on our citizens. And they've changed the 10 year window for a deficit increasing tax cut, something they insisted on in the past. We knew they didn't really care about deficits but they aren't even pretending anymore.

Now this from Stan Collender:

Republicans appear ready to make a small, but significant change to historic Senate procedure in order to advance their legislation to rework the U.S. health insurance system, a move that could have notable impact on the future of the chamber’s operations.

GOP leaders are sending signals that, if necessary, they plan to invoke a seldom-used rule included in the Congressional Budget Act that would allow Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi to skirt a decision from the chamber’s parliamentarian, a key gate-keeper for the budget maneuver known as reconciliation that Republicans are using to advance their health insurance measure.

Such a decision would have ripple effects far beyond the tenure of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a careful practitioner of the chamber's procedural rules, and open the door for future leaders to more easily advance legislation under a 51-vote threshold.
“It is the Parliamentarian’s office that determines whether or not a reconciliation bill is in compliance with the rules of the Senate. This is not a function of the chairman of the Budget Committee,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, the ranking member on the Budget panel, said in a floor speech this month. “I am extremely concerned that the chairman of the Budget Committee, in an unprecedented manner, appears to have made that determination himself with regard to the Trump-Ryan health care bill.”

The Senate could vote as early as next week on the health measure. Reconciliation permits legislation to pass the Senate with only a simple majority of members supporting it, but the bill must also comply with a set of chamber rules governing the process.

Congress set up this process earlier this year when it passed the fiscal year 2017 budget resolution. That measure included reconciliation instructions that laid out the requirements any bill must meet in to advance under the simple majority threshold.

In this case, that was $1 billion in deficit savings over 10 years from the provisions in the legislation under the jurisdiction of four committees: the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Finance committees.

Under ongoing debate with the Senate parliamentarian is whether the House bill would actually achieve the required savings under the HELP Committee. The Senate parliamentarian has yet to make a formal decision on the matter.

Democrats argue that a provision to repeal the 2010 health care law’s  cost-sharing subsidies falls within the jurisdiction of the finance panel.

Republicans have yet to formally submit an argument to the parliamentarian outlining why they believe the section that would end those payments should be considered under HELP’s purview, one senior democratic aide said. The GOP is expected to submit that argument on Wednesday, a senior Republican aide said, and the decision by the parliamentarian is expected to come before the Senate votes on the measure.

A spokesman for the Senate Budget Committee did not respond to request for comment.

The jurisdiction in this case is critical. If the parliamentarian was to side with Democrats in her decision, then the House bill as a whole may not comply with the fiscal 2017 reconciliation instructions.

While the Senate is writing its own bill, McConnell must first introduce the House measure on the floor to file a substitute amendment to it with the new language. If the House bill were deemed to be noncompliant, however, then the GOP would need the standard 60 votes instead of 51 to advance it, a likely impossible task given no Democrats are expected to support it.

But Republicans appear ready to invoke a section of the Congressional Budget Act that they say would effectively give the Senate Budget Chairman authority to determine whether the legislation meets the required deficit reduction levels.

“Final decision on the score rests with the majority Senate Budget Committee Chairman, but it has to be within reason, I can’t just pick a number out,” Enzi, a Republican from Wyoming, told Roll Call.


Essentially they are saying that they get to decide what the law requires rather than the parliamentarian. Might makes right.

They will argue that nobody cares about process. And frankly, they're right. In order to have an orderly, decent, political system you need responsible patriots running it, people who care about the fundamental principles of democracy.

We don't have that. We have a radical majority party bent on siphoning off as much of the money currently used to help the poor and middle class survive as they can in order to give it to their rich cronies. They have no other purpose. It is now a real kleptocracy that's enabled by a corporate sponsored right wing media that feeds the resentments of half of the people in the country with lies and propaganda. And they even make a tidy profit at it.

Donald Trump could not have happened if it weren't for the Republican party paving the way.

And just one word about Democrats. Yes, they have their share of corruption and weakness and lack of imagination and everything else everyone hates about them. But they aren't this bad. And they are the only vessel we have to fight this back. Just a little note to remind people that you have to pick your battles in this life and arguing about what color the house should be painted while it's going up in flames is not a wise strategy.

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Nothing is worse than being from California

by digby

San Francisco in particular, but I'm pretty sure anyone from here is considered a freak.

If you want to know why Karen Handel pulled it off, it's because of this:



Just remember. Liberals are very intolerant and rude people who look down upon the good people of Real America and this is why we lose.


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Collective sigh

by Tom Sullivan

Did all the money thrown into the Georgia 6th District congressional runoff between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff matter? For Democrats, not enough. Handel won the heavily Republican district formerly held by Newt Gingrich by just under four points. Not bad for Ossoff in a district Tom Price won by 20 points before leaving to lead Donald Trump's Department of Health and Human Services. Less impressive if one considers Hillary Clinton only lost it by one point. Name recognition and a track record counts for something.

As Nate Silver predicted cannily, there are hot takes aplenty this morning. Democrats are demoralized. Republicans are buoyed. Does the outcome really matter? The first thing we do, let's kill all the consultants. (There might be something to that one.)

But it's early and the numbers haven't all been crunched. Josh Marshall had these observations last night:

My take is that the most realistic way to see this result is that it is one of a string of special elections in which Democrats have dramatically over-performed in Republican districts. Yet they haven’t been able to win any of them yet. There were two before this (Kansas and Montana) and another tonight (South Carolina) where the Democrat also lost but got a lot closer than people expected.

If you take the average Democratic over-performance in these districts and apply it to the entire House, Democrats are quite likely to take the House next year. What I take from this is that Republicans are struggling under Trump and Democrats are energized. But Democrats need to keep refining both their message and improving their electoral infrastructure. The most challenging takeaway I take from these races for Democrats is that even though Republicans have lost substantial ground and are operating in a tough environment they’ve nevertheless been able to mobilize money and partisan affiliation to hold on in tight races. That can’t be ignored. It’s also very significant.
As several of us saw on Twitter, there will be a reflex to demand Democrats get "a total overhaul on every single level." Certainly, Ossoff ran an uninspiring campaign from a message standpoint (cut wasteful spending?), and a very Clintonesque one, "relying on the same 'new majority' voters that put Obama in the White House."

But there is also the improving "their electoral infrastructure" part of Marshall's equation. There is certainly an over-reliance on a priesthood of consultants, data geeks, and technological terrors for solving what are essentially human relations problems. Voters are human beings, not data points or cattle to be herded. It might help if campaigns treated them as such. But if my area is any indication, there is also this. Few county organizations have built up the institutional memory and skills for running effective get-out-the-vote programs year to year, mid-term to presidential to municipal. Activists age out of high-intensity campaign work and take what they've learned (if anything) with them. Many smaller counties rely on national coordinated campaigns to parachute in every four years (if they do) to tell them what to do when the ambitious twenty-something staffers don't know themselves.

Winning an election is not just a contest of ideas; it is a contest of skills. At a meeting recently, one county Democratic officer expressed interest in learning about all these "high-tech" tools we use. I think that meant computers. Democrats need an upgrade from the grassroots up as much as from the top down.

All that aside, Charlie Pierce had the perspicacity not to lose sight of what really happened last night: