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Updated: 20 min 48 sec ago

There is no $1 trillion Trump infrastructure plan—and there never was

1 hour 23 min ago

Hello, fellow Americans just now noticing that Donald Trump's promise to spend "one trillion dollars" on American infrastructure seems noticeably absent from his actual budget plans. Allow me to explain this conundrum: He. Was. Lying.

[A]ny prospects for cooperation on that front seemed to largely evaporate this week, when Trump released a budget proposal that included deep cuts to existing infrastructure programs — angering Democrats and prompting many to question the president’s commitment to an issue he trumpeted as a candidate.

Well, duh. At this point there's no possible pundit take on things that should not begin and end with "because Donald Trump lies." Anyone trying to sell you anything different should be treated with suspicion, and just to be safe, contempt. Even back when he was supposedly promising to spend "one trillion dollars," a cursory glance at the flimsy excuse for a plan showed nothing of the sort. It was smoke and mirrors from the beginning, and anyone who said otherwise is themselves a crook.

Trump’s budget proposes $200 billion in new federal spending on infrastructure over the next decade, an amount his administration argues will be sufficient to spur a promised $1 trillion in new investments once new spending by the private sector and state and local governments are factored in.

It was always this same ephemeral plan of giving a fraction much, much less than "one trillion dollars" to infrastructure programs and presuming the free market would then use that money to build private toll roads, toll bridges, toll ferries and toll airport parking lots worth a bajillion dollars more, and which you, dear commoner, could partake of for a small or large fee. As far as replacing "infrastructure" like failing sewer lines or lead water pipes, that was never in the picture because private companies don't want to own those. Oh, and by the way even the supposed $200 billion was a sham. The real number isn’t $200 billion. The real number is zero.

Categories: Politics

Jared Kushner marked by FBI as having 'significant information' in Russia investigation

3 hours 6 min ago

The investigation into Russian election hacking and links to the Trump campaign has now reached the doorstep of Trump son-in-law and adviser for All The Things, Jared Kushner. Oops.

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News.

Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry, officials said. That does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him. [...]

It is not known whether Kushner has received any records requests from federal investigators.

Kushner, like multiple other members of the Trump campaign, had meetings with prominent Russian figures during the campaign or transition, including a December meeting in Trump Tower. And while the FBI doesn’t appear to consider Kushner a target, they are “focusing” on his actions.

Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow , is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said.

The good news for Kushner is he’s got plenty of money to lawyer up with. He’ll need it.

Categories: Politics

Is GOP assailant Greg Gianforte still a 'wonderful guy'? Trump and Pence spinelessly won't say

5 hours 33 min ago

Here’s how Donald Trump endorsed the GOP candidate for Montana’s at-large seat in a robocall released on Wednesday:

“You have to get to the polls tomorrow to vote for my friend, Republican Greg Gianforte, for Congress. He's a wonderful guy…”

Mike Pence also recorded a robocall and then some—campaigning with Gianforte in Montana.

“We need more allies in Congress to make America great again,” Pence said, “and we need Greg Gianforte.”

So now that Gianforte wrapped his hands around a reporter’s neck in a fit of rage for asking him a question and wound up with an assault charge, what are Trump and Pence saying? Nada.

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Good god. Grow a pair, will ya? The guy assaulted someone without provocation other than feeling a bit testy, just because, ya know. So yeah, hit the guy. I mean, Trump’s probably jealous Gianforte beat him to such a deplorable act; but Pence, Mr. Family Values guy—really, have some self-respect, buddy. 

If this overt display of spinelessness ticks you off, remember that you can register to vote in Montana right up until the last moment. 

Categories: Politics

People whose names were used in fake anti-net neutrality astroturf demand FCC delete comments

5 hours 51 min ago

News that the Federal Communications Commission would not disregard hundreds of thousands of identical anti-net neutrality comments made by bots is not sitting well with some of the people whose names were stolen and attached to those comments. They are in fact open internet supporters, and are demanding that those comments be tossed.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai signed by 14 people, the group offers support for the principle of net neutrality, after the fake comments under their names called for the end of those rules.

They also called for the comments to be removed.

“We are disturbed by reports that indicate you have no plans to remove these fraudulent comments from the public docket,” the group wrote in a letter posted on Fight for the Future's web site.

“Whoever is behind this stole our names and addresses, publicly exposed our private information without our permission, and used our identities to file a political statement we did not sign onto.”

Here's what they're demanding in that letter:

  • Notify all who have been impacted by this attack
  • Remove all of the fraudulent comments, including the ones made in our names, from the public docket immediately
  • Publicly disclose any information the FCC may have about the group or person behind the 450,000+ fake comments
  • Call for an investigation by the appropriate authorities into possible violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (“making false statements”) and other relevant laws.

At the least—the very, very least—they should do the first two of those demands. In this of all issues—the open internet—they should be operating with complete transparency, not to mention technological competence. That seems to be asking too much of Trump's FCC under Ajit Pai.

We'll keep fighting. Sign the petition to send the FCC and our elected officials in D.C. a clear message that we won’t stand by and let them kill net neutrality.

Categories: Politics

ICE agents ate breakfast before arresting immigrant employees, restaurant owner says

6 hours 11 min ago

ICE agents in Ann Arbor, Michigan, enjoyed a breakfast of waffles with bacon and egg whites made by immigrant employees before rounding up at least three of them in a raid, the business owner said. ICE agents stationed themselves at the restaurant’s entrance and exit while two others ordered food and asked about one particular employee, who turned out to be not present at the time. But instead of leaving, agents carried out what appeared to be “collateral arrests,” a crass term ICE uses to describe when “bystanders are … taken in if they are suspected to be undocumented, even if they have committed no crime”. From Huffington Post:

Line cook Carlos Rivera-Ochoa took out the trash in the back when officers slapped handcuffs on him, according to Lelcaj. Rivera-Ochoa told MLive he carries his permanent residency card with him, and he was released shortly after being taken into a vehicle and fingerprinted.

But when three other cooks in the kitchen saw officers confront Rivera-Ochoa, they “panicked,” Lelcaj said, and ran out the front door and were then arrested.

Rachael Yong Yow, ICE public affairs officer, said the agents were “conducting a targeted enforcement action” and arrested the three men on immigration violations. Two men who were detained had unlawfully entered the country, Yong Yow said, and the third had entered lawfully “but did not depart in accordance with the terms of his status.”

However, the restaurant owner claims her business “goes through a vetting process to make sure potential employees have the right documentation to work in the United States” and that “those taken into custody do have the proper documents to work in the country,” but “they did not have the papers on hand when the agents were at Sava’s.” 

There’s still conflicting reports about the status of the men who were arrested and hauled off to detention, though Newsweek reports “the people taken into custody were released on Wednesday evening, after the restaurant owner’s company, Savco Hospitality, sent the workers’ documents to ICE.” What isn’t up in the air, though, is the fact that the worker with a green card, a Latino man, was detained and fingerprinted. Guess ICE agents just thought he looked the part of a “bad hombre”?

"They just slapped some handcuffs on him," Nicki Sanchez, Rivera-Ochoa’s wife, said about his detainment. "Not only is that offensive, he was embarrassed in front of the whole restaurant. Why didn't they ask him before they detained him?" The truth is he shouldn’t have been asked “papers please” in the first place—after all, were any of the white employees asked for their papers as well?—but that’s the kind of world an unshackled and emboldened ICE wants.

Categories: Politics

McConnell: CBO Trumpcare score just a 'procedural step' for Senate to start work on the big tax cuts

6 hours 23 min ago

House Speaker Paul Ryan can now send Zombie Trumpcare over to the Senate, three weeks after it was passed without a Congressional Budget Office score. Now that the score is in, it meets the requirements for budget reconciliation for the Senate to take it. But after that awful CBO score, some in the Senate don't want anything to do with it.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), one of the few Senate Republicans expected to face a tough reelection contest next year, said the House bill “does not do enough to address Nevada’s Medicaid population or protect Nevadans with pre-existing conditions.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) also criticized the House bill for failing to adequately protect Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.

“Congress’s focus must be to lower premiums with coverage which passes the Jimmy Kimmel Test,” Cassidy said in statement, referencing the late-night talk-show host who garnered national attention last month with his tearful monologue about his newborn’s heart surgery. “The AHCA does not. I am working with Senate colleagues to do so.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't offer an opinion, emerging from his shell to say that the CBO report was just a simple "procedural step" that would pave the way for the Senate to do its work. Which will actually be done by staff while the senators are off having their Memorial Day recess. And which will still likely gut Medicaid in order to give those big fat tax breaks to their buddies.

How much the secret Senate death panel meetings have accomplished isn't clear and it's kind of a surprise that they're getting down to the drafting already, since just Wednesday McConnell said that the path to 50 yes votes was unclear. Maybe he's decided to take the Ryan approach, and jam this through as quickly as he can, thinking he can twist 49 arms hard enough.

But that's a big chance, considering all the senators are going to be facing their constituents next week, with the brand-new CBO score fresh on their minds.

Categories: Politics

Midday open thread: Gov. Brown says Trump a 'realist' on climate; Pence's approval ratings plunge

6 hours 43 min ago

Today’s comic by Ruben Bolling is Roger Ailes dies, and a celestial grip loosens...

Cartoon by Ruben Bolling - Roger Ailes dies, and a celestial grip loosens...

• Join Daily Kos Elections tonight for a live-blog of the Montana special election results. Tonight at 10 PM ET (8 PM local time), polls will close in Montana, where voters will fill a vacancy for the state's lone congressional district created when GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke left to become Donald Trump's interior secretary. The candidates are wealthy Republican businessman Greg Gianforte, who was just charged on Wednesday night with assaulting a reporter, and Democratic folk singer Rob Quist, who managed not to commit any crimes the day before Election Day. Our crack Daily Kos Elections team will be live-blogging the results, so come join us then!

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Organize-Fish-eating-fish_NoTEXT_BlueRed.jpg An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events
Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups

Don’t try this at school, kids Rhode Island police have charged a 15-year-old high school girl they say gave homemade tattoos to two friends on school grounds.

The more things change:

On Aug. 2, 1974, a week before President Richard Nixon resigned, syndicated columnist Jack Anderson took a skeptical look at the president’s generosity. He found that the Richard Nixon Foundation had made “only one charitable grant in its four-year existence: $7,500 to buy a painting of Richard Nixon.”

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Say what, Gov. Brown? The California governor now says that on climate change the Trump regime “not as disastrous as we thought a few months ago”:

“President Trump is a realist – and there’s nothing more real than the atmosphere and the chemistry that determines our weather and our long-term climate,” Brown told reporters at a climate change conference hosted by the Netherlands in San Francisco on Wednesday. “I don’t know that he’s going to come aboard immediately – but I do know that with our efforts in California, joining with other states and other provinces in the world, that we will be successful in pushing this agenda.

Worldwide, there are nearly 10 million jobs in renewable energy: Those include 3.09 million in solar, and 1.2 million in wind. That’s double the numbers of five years ago. More than half the total jobs are in hydropower, geothermal, liquid biofuels, biomass, and biogas.

Millions paid so far to Madoff fund administrator, zero to victims: 

A firm hired by the U.S. to distribute $4 billion to victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme has racked up $38.8 million in billings over four years. The investors are still waiting for their first checks, though.

Ohio legislators ponder bill to give to aged coal plants permanent subsidy: A bill has been introduced to give two six-decade-old coal-fired power plants perpetual subsidies. The plants, owned by Ohio Valley Electric Corp., a utility consortium, can generate 2.4 gigawatts of electricity. Customers of American Electric Power, which owns the largest share of the plants, already pay a monthly $2 surcharge to support the OVEC plants.

Mike Pence’s approval rating plunges as his involvement in Trump’s scandals come to light: The new poll from Fox News shows that Pence’s popularity has fallen from 50 percent in April to 42 percent now. His disapproval number has risen from 33 percent to 43 percent.

Yale Psychiatrist says fellow doctors have an obligation to discuss Donald Trump’s mental health  because “our survival as a species may be at stake”: Her name is Dr. Bandy Lee and  she specializes in public health and violence prevention. She recently led a conference of mental health professionals discussing how they should respond to the situation. 

EPI: No evidence that automation leads to joblessness of inequality:

The media are full of stories about robots and automation destroying the jobs of the past and leaving us jobless in the future; call it the coming Robot Apocalypse. We are also told that automation and technology are responsible for the poor wage growth and inequality bedeviling the American working class in recent decades, and that looming automation will only accelerate and ratchet up these problems. [...]

What is remarkable about this media narrative is that there is a strong desire to believe it despite so little evidence to support these claims. 

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin bodyslams the news roundup. Trumpcare’s so bad, it brings Republicans to (fake) tears. Who’s planning (and forgiving) Kushner’s Shabbat jaunts? Was Comey duped by the Russians? GunFAIL’s legacy: inconsistency in how accidents are treated.

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Categories: Politics

Black women pen open letter to DNC Chair Tom Perez about their future in the Democratic Party

7 hours 12 min ago

Since the election of Donald Trump, Democrats are working hard to figure out next steps and the future of the party. There is much disagreement on what that looks like. Whether it’s doing more to get back white working class votes, galvanize the core base of the party, some combination of the two or none of the above, the path forward remains contentious and unclear. One thing that is clear, however, is that black women have long been consistent and loyal to the Democratic Party without getting much in return. And in an open letter written to DNC Chair Tom Perez on Wednesday, they are calling for a meeting to discuss the future of black women in the party. 

We have voted and organized our communities with little support or investment from the Democratic Party for voter mobilization efforts. We have shown how Black women lead, yet the Party's leadership from Washington to the state parties have few or no Black women in leadership. More and more, Black women are running for office and winning elections — with scant support from Democratic Party infrastructure. [...]

The Democratic Party has a real problem. The data reveals that Black women voters are the very foundation to a winning coalition, yet most Black voters feel like the Democrats take them for granted. The Party's foundation has a growing crack and if it is not addressed quickly, the Party will fall even further behind and ultimately fail in its quest to strengthen its political prospects.

There seems to be an operating assumption that black women will be the foot soldiers in the Democratic Party. And we often are. Since 2008, black women have been the most active voting demographic in the country. Despite, the incredible voter suppression we face in many parts of the country. And yet, we persist. 

Categories: Politics

Quinnipiac poll on Trumpcare: 'Backing this bill could be very hazardous to your political health'

7 hours 48 min ago

The more people get used to the idea of Trumpcare, the more they dislike it. A new poll from the independent Quinnipiac University—conducted before the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office—shows that it's slightly more unpopular than it was just after it passed the House a few weeks ago, and that the Republicans who voted for it could be in big trouble in 2018.

Only 20 percent of American voters say they are more likely to vote for a Senator or member of Congress who supports the revised Republican health care plan, while 44 percent say they are less likely and 31 percent say this issue won't affect their vote, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

American voters disapprove of the new health proposal 57 - 20 percent, compared to a 56 - 21 percent disapproval in a May 11 survey. […]

Among independent voters, a key bloc, only 17 percent are more likely to support an elected official who backs the health care plan, while 41 percent are less likely. Republicans are the only listed party, gender, education, age or racial group to support the health care plan, by a lackluster 42 - 24 percent, and the only group where more voters say they would support a candidate for reelection who backs the latest health care plan.

"Advisory to Republicans who support the replacement for Obamacare: Backing this bill could be very hazardous to your political health," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"What was heralded as a cure for a failing plan could have toxic side effects."

A plurality of voters, 44 percent, believe it would make their healthcare costs go up and a big majority—57 percent—correctly says that fewer people would have health insurance under it meaning that people actually are paying attention to what the CBO says. Or what is said last time about the number of people the bill would leave uninsured. So remember—this poll was in the field before the latest bad numbers from the CBO—particularly for people with pre-existing conditions (most of us)—were released.

So Mitch McConnell can take his 15 percent approval rating, this poll, and the new CBO score to his members and just try to turn it into something they'd pass. Good luck.

Categories: Politics

Trump loses in court again: Fourth Circuit backs nationwide injunction on his Muslim ban 2.0

7 hours 50 min ago

This decision just in from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which fielded an “en banc” panel of 13 judges, largely upholding the nationwide injunction on Donald Trump’s Muslim ban 2.0:

… an Executive Order that in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination. Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet stands as an untiring sentinel for the protection of one of our most cherished founding principles—that government shall not establish any religious orthodoxy, or favor or disfavor one religion over another. Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked...

The case is likely to end up at the Supreme Court, reports the New York Times.

Thursday, May 25, 2017 · 10:03:38 PM +00:00 · Kerry Eleveld

UPDATE: Sessions/DOJ will appeal to the Supreme Court. 

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Categories: Politics

Donald Trump's demeaning NATO speech a 'near disaster' while Obama rocks Berlin

8 hours 5 min ago

At a ceremony on Thursday, a piece of the North Tower of the World Trade Center was installed next to the new NATO headquarters. It was a vivid reminder that the only time the organization has been called on to come through on the Article 5 commitment to defend members was following 9/11. At the height of the conflict in Afghanistan, troops from every NATO partner were involved.

Casualties included 453 troops from the UK, 158 from Canada, 88 from France, 57 from Germany ... and down the line for every member nation. Even NATO candidate nation Montenegro lost a soldier coming to aid the United States when the United States called on NATO. Over 1,000 non-American soldiers from NATO countries died in Afghanistan. So far.

Also on Thursday, Donald Trump came to speak at the dedication of that new memorial. And gave a speech in which he neglected to actually endorse Article 5 while lecturing other world leaders that they should pay up. How did that go?

President Trump, speaking at a ceremony Thursday to dedicate a memorial to NATO’s resolve in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, publicly chastised his fellow alliance leaders for not being “fair” to U.S. taxpayers.

Trump not only repeatedly kicked the NATO allies at a ceremony recalling that the only time the alliance has been called on to carry out its commitment of joint defense was in support of the United States, he also took time out for a snide remark about the cost of the new NATO headquarters and to literally throw his weight around.

"And I never asked what the new NATO headquarters cost, but it is beautiful."

Meanwhile, Angela Merkel breakfasted with someone who got a much more enthusiastic welcome in Germany …

Categories: Politics

As Trump pouts through Brussels, a smiling Angela Merkel hosts Obama in Berlin

8 hours 14 min ago

Donald Trump is currently visiting Brussels, home of NATO, where he is of course making an ass of himself in all the ways his worst critics expected. Donald Trump last year called Brussels a "hellhole," during one of his many, many, many orations explaining what was wrong with the entire rest of the planet and how they were dooming us all. His reception in Brussels is therefore also what you would expect.

As Trump touched down on Belgian soil, 9,000 demonstrators took to the streets to protest his trip.

The message was clear. "Get the hell out of our hole," one placard read. Another stated: "Mr. Trump, you are not welcome." [...]

"I don't want to waste my time thinking about Trump," said Philippe Dekeysery, who was flicking through CDs at a flea market. "It's all show and no substance. I'm sure after calling the city a hellhole he'll come here and say, 'it's fabulous.'"

Everyone has Trump's number now. They know who he is, and how he works. We should have Philippe here fly to Washington and explain a few things to the dullards in our Congress.

Meanwhile, let's check in with former president Barack Obama, who visited Berlin to have a nice public sit-down with German Chanceller Angela Merkel. It may perhaps have been orchestrated in small part just to give Trump another thing to freak out about during the wee long tweet-hours of the morning. He did not suck, and did not make an ass of himself, and the photographs of he, Merkel and the crowd of thousands of happy, smiling people could not be a starker difference from the visit of Captain Donald J. Bumblefudge.

[With] the rendezvous came a rhapsody of smiles and mutual affection.

"We can't hide behind a wall," Obama told the rapt audience, a none-too-subtle dig at his successor, in his first speaking appearance in Europe since he left office. The crowd lapped it up.

So when Angela Merkel meets with Trump later today, she will at least have had a pleasant morning. This is not likely to endear her at all to the great orange gasbag and whatever his latest demands are—presuming he can remember them. If anything, it's likely to make Trump's job tougher. I just met with a real leader, Merkel's face will say. What have you got?

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Categories: Politics

'You illegal?' Policeman badgers immigrant who had just been hit by a car about legal status

8 hours 29 min ago

According to an exclusive report from Univision, rather than immediately providing medical assistance to a Latino bicyclist who had just been hit by a pickup truck, a Florida sheriff callously badgered the Honduran immigrant about his legal status, the start of a series of events that eventually led to the immigrant man being arrested by Border Patrol. Police are supposed to provide stability and assistance to all members of the public, no matter their immigration status. But the only message local law enforcement is sending here is that calling them, even in a moment of crisis or violence, could just lead to their deportation:

Marcos Antonio Huete, a 31-year-old Honduran immigrant, was lying on a sidewalk next to his bicycle after being hit April 27 by a GMC Sierra pickup truck on his way to work in Key West in the Florida Keys.

"You illegal? Are you a legal citizen or no? Speak English? You got ID? Passport, visa, or what? a Monroe County sheriff asked Huete insistently, according to the video.

Still on the ground, Huete answers with monosyllables before using a cell phone to call his sister, who arrived at the scene soon after.

According to Univision, an ambulance was called only after a second officer asked Huete—who was sprawled out on the sidewalk—in Spanish if he needed medical care. But to add insult to injury, Huete was told by an officer after he was released from the hospital on crutches that he had to return to the scene of the incident, where he was not only “fined $75 by a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles officer for causing the accident,” but was also arrested by Border Patrol. Huete now faces possible deportation.

"The moment these agents become the mass deportation force of President Trump will be the end of any cooperation between immigrant communities in the United States and the local police," said Howard Simon, executive director of the Florida chapter of the ACLU.

Categories: Politics

A Montana GOP candidate made in Trump's mold: rich, unaccountable, and above the law

8 hours 34 min ago

You don't have to know much about Montana's GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte to realize he's a direct political descendent of Donald Trump: an entitled millionaire who's accountable to no one and considers himself above the law.

Look no further than the altercation last night in which Gianforte wrapped his hands around the neck of a reporter who dared ask him a question he'd been dodging for months: Does he support the House healthcare repeal bill, especially after the Congressional Budget Office determined it would deprive 23 million Americans of health insurance while pricing many more with pre-existing conditions out of the market altogether?

That question was the straw that broke the camel's back. Reporters don't have the right to ask and, no, voters don't have the right to know because: He's Greg Gianforte, millionaire!

As Gianforte grabbed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs by the neck and threw him down to the ground, he screamed, "I'm sick and tired of you guys! [...] Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing!” 

As in, ask a question?

"You with the Guardian?" Gianforte demanded to know after physically and verbally assaulting Jacobs.

A telling inquiry. 

The Guardian was the focus of Gianforte's ire precisely because the outlet had uncovered the fact that Gianforte held shares in two Russian companies—Gazprom and Rosneft—that the U.S. had sanctioned in the wake of Russia's incursion of Crimea.

The piece, written by Jacobs, was very responsibly reported, including ample space for a response from Gianforte's campaign and the observations of a state department employee who said the shares from an index fund were both noteworthy but also nothing to "freak out about."

Still, he's Greg Gianforte, millionaire! Damn the voters. What right do the little people have to know?

After Gianforte body slammed Jacobs Wednesday night, his campaign put out a statement that was wildly inconsistent with audio of the candidate completely losing it and unloading on Jacobs. 

Categories: Politics

Poverty is all in poor people's heads according to Ben Carson

8 hours 35 min ago

Ben Carson should really stop talking. Truly. Because it seems that whenever he talks about anything that isn’t related to brains or science, he makes a complete and total ass out of himself. Earlier this month, he got himself into trouble when he said that we shouldn’t make housing for low-income Americans “too cozy” because otherwise they might not want to work hard enough to actually leave government housing. Then on Tuesday, during a radio interview with conservative media personality Armstrong Williams, he said that poverty is a state of mind. 

“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind,” he said, according to a transcript of the interview that was released on Wednesday. “You take somebody that has the right mind-set, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there.”

He added that helping people may not better their lives.

In 2015, over 40 million people in the US were officially living in poverty. Forty-three percent of children in America live in low-income families. Poverty is serious business and is not just an individual problem but a systematic one with larger societal implications. It is not simply overcome by a good attitude. But applying Ben’s standard, what other serious conditions (medical, social, economic or otherwise) can be overcome by changing one’s mindset? Cancer? Physical disability? Racism (of course)? Venereal disease? See how asinine this sounds? 

This is obviously the kind of “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” crap that Republicans love. But thankfully it’s been debunked by economists, historians, sociologists—essentially everyone with access to facts. Its oh-so-tempting to take individual success stories (like Ben’s) and apply them to a larger system but that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. The data and facts (hey, Trump administration and supporters: here’s some news for you—facts are not actually just for Democrats) actually show that most people who are born poor are most likely to stay that way. Why? Because hard work and state of mind aside, wealth offers a significant advantage in our society. Even when poor people get access to decent housing, education and jobs.

Categories: Politics

Paul Ryan just can't stop digging that Trumpcare hole

8 hours 53 min ago

The bullshit is flying today from House Republicans after the very bad CBO score for Zombie Trumpcare—the bill they passed three weeks ago without having seen the numbers. Here's Speaker Paul Ryan:

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Yes, I’m sure all the “people who are less healthy (including those with pre-existing or newly acquired medical conditions) [who] would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all” will have great peace of mind knowing their state could “customize solutions.” 

Now let’s get back to reality:

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But I’m sure those 23 million people will have great peace of mind knowing that Republicans are looking out for their “freedom.”

Categories: Politics

Lawyer arrested after allegedly threatening rape victim with deportation for testifying

9 hours 39 min ago

A Baltimore-based attorney has been arrested and charged with obstruction of justice and witness intimidation, after allegedly threatening a rape victim and her husband with deportation, saying that they could get swept up by federal immigration agents if they tried to go to court and testify against his client, who has been charged “with second-degree rape, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses, and second-degree assault,” according to the Baltimore Sun.

Attorney Christos Vasiliades, and his accomplice Edgar Ivan Rodriguez, also offered the couple $3,000 in cash “if their absence in court got the case ‘thrown out,’ court documents show, then encouraged the couple to track down the defendant and ‘kick his ass.’” According to the Washington Post, the couple felt threatened by the interaction and went straight to law enforcement. Authorities then equipped the couple with a recording device and had them arrange a follow-up meeting with Vasiliades and Rodriguez, who again brought up deportation threats, saying ICE was “looking at this case.” The Baltimore Sun:

"You know how things are with Trump's laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away," Rodriguez told the victim's husband in the recorded conversation, according to an indictment by the Maryland attorney general's office.

Vasiliades also offered an alternative solution: Just beat up his client.

"If we were back home where I'm from, from Greece ... we would go (expletive) him up, that's it, if you want to do that, that's fine," Vasiliades was recorded saying, according to court documents. "He's an (expletive), I think you should find him and kick his (expletive), personally."

Vasiliades was arrested Tuesday afternoon in the hallway of the Courthouse East building, as the trial of his client, Mario Aguilar-Delosantos, was set to start, according to the sheriff's office and court records.

“Part of it, we allege, is a good old fashioned bribe, but the threat that the witness would be deported is sadly new,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, “and I think it arises out of the climate of fear in the immigrant community over the change in policy for deportations.” A state of fear has been a constant feature of Trump’s administration, and it’s something Vasiliades and his accomplice gladly took full advantage of.

Categories: Politics

Zombie Trumpcare at a glance, from the CBO

9 hours 46 min ago

The Congressional Budget Office's devastating score of Trumpcare is kind of a slog to actually read. Just ask Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows! So in order to help those Republicans who didn't bother to read the bill or the CBO report, here's some of the lowlights from the report of what they voted to inflict on the public. The report House Speaker Paul Ryan says he's "actually comforted" by.

  • The number of people losing insurance in the next year is 14 million, the same as in the original Trumpcare. It would force 23 million out of insurance in the next decade, 1 million fewer than the original Trumpcare. As Dylan Matthews points out it "costs $218 billion more than the original, covers 1 million more. That's $218,000 per new person insured."
  • By 2026, 51 million people will be uninsured, compared to 28 million under current law—Obamacare.
  • Among those uninsured, "the increase would be disproportionately larger among older people with lower income—particularly people between 50 and 64 years old with income of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level." Like, 800 percent more expensive.
  • Relatedly, it would increase Medicare disproportionate-share payments to hospitals by $43 billion in the next decade, because of the costs of treating so many new uninsured patients.
  • It would destabilize the individual insurance market for one-sixth of the population in the states that get the waivers to avoid providing comprehensive coverage, which would mean that premiums for people buying comprehensive plans would be unaffordable.
  • It would cut $834 billion from Medicaid in the next ten years, and cut 14 million people out of Medicaid coverage.

But, hey! It would be a $663 billion tax cut over the next 10 years for the rich! That's what matters most of all to Republicans, and probably the part of this that Ryan finds particularly comforting. Well, that and fulfilling his frat-boy dream of destroying Medicaid.

Make the 23 House Republicans who voted against their constituents for this bill pay. Please give $1 to each of our funds targeting the most vulnerable House Republicans.

Categories: Politics

Republicans react to Montana candidate Gianforte committing assault on eve of election

9 hours 49 min ago

Some assorted reactions to Republican candidate for Congress Greg Gianforte attacking journalist Ben Jacobs on the night before the special election in Montana.

Republicans

Paul Ryan held a press conference to spread the GOP line.

"There's never a call for physical altercations ... with the press or just between human beings."

See. You shouldn’t hit the press or human beings. But is Ryan going to do a single thing about it? Call on Gianforte to withdraw? Threaten to not seat him if he wins? Of course not! Keeping a Republican in the seat is what counts. What’s a little assault on a reporter anyway?

"The people of Montana will make this choice."

Louie Gohmert on how much he wishes he could get in on grabbing reporters by the neck and slamming them down:

“You know, we didn’t have a course on bodyslamming when I went to school. I missed that course. I’m sorry I missed it.”

Trent Franks on how this is all the fault of “the left:”

“The left has precipitated this tense, confrontational approach throughout the country in recent months.”

Matt Gaetz holds to the cowardly line when asked if this acceptable and introduces trial by election.

“That will be up to the people of Montana to decide. Voters have chance to render a verdict on both candidates.”

Mac Thornberry laughs it off and also believes he who wins is automatically innocent.

“Ya’ll are really into this. We’ll see what the election shows.”

The best reactions are still below the fold …

Categories: Politics

Here's embarrassing video of Trump shoving a NATO leader so he can be center stage for a photo op

10 hours 15 min ago

Donald Trump’s having a tough go in Europe. First he met with French President Emmanuel Macron, who apparently used a death grip to squeeze Donald Trump into submission. President Macron looks quite satisfied with himself for one-upping Trump on the handshake:

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Then German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech with a not-so-subtle dig at The Donald:

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Not content to be embarrassed only by other world leaders, Trump decided the time was right to embarrass himself (and the United States) by rudely shoving another NATO leader out of the way so he could be center stage for the group photo.

Thursday, May 25, 2017 · 6:13:31 PM +00:00 · Jen Hayden

Super slo-mo is the best yet.

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Categories: Politics