December 10, 2017

One poll has Moore ahead by five, another a statistical tie

For female lobbyists, harassment often accompanies access

Some reasons Trump is illegal and wrong in attack on national monuments

National Parks Conservation Service

The president does not have legal authority to abolish national monuments or remove their legal protections. The Antiquities Act grants a president the authority to create, but not to undo, national monuments. In 1938, the Attorney General concluded that the national monument designations could only be reversed by Congress; a 1976 law, the Federal Land Policy Management Act, upholds this conclusion.

National monuments belong to all Americans. Public lands are owned by all Americans, not “a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” as Trump asserted in his speech. The people of Utah own them. The people of Alaska own them. The people of Maine own them. And all of the other states, too. Everyone should have a say in their protection.

National monuments can only be created from existing federal land. Presidents cannot “grab” private, state or local lands to incorporate into a national monument. By designating national monuments, presidents — Republicans and Democrats alike — have simply protected for the American people what is already ours.

 National monuments are good for the economy. Outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in consumer spending and supports 7.6 million jobs annually. Western rural counties with the highest share of federal lands benefitted from higher employment and personal income growth over the last 40 years than counties with fewer public lands.

Word: Not ready for impeachment

The Hill - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a Sunday interview warned that “jumping the gun” in an effort to impeach President Trump is not helpful, arguing that he doesn’t “think we’re there right now.”
“But I think jumping the gun does nobody any good. You have to bring the American people onto this issue. You don’t want to make it into a partisan issue,” Sanders told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sanders said it would be grounds for impeachment if special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe finds evidence that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian officials.“I think there is a process that has to be followed. I think Mr. Mueller is doing a very good job on his investigation,” Sanders said, referencing Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election meddling.“I don’t think we’re there right now. That’s what the Mueller investigation is all about,” Sanders said.

Egyptian Christians reject Trunp's anti-Palestinian policy

Politics USA- Vice President Pence is planning on visiting Israel, occupied Palestinian territories, and other countries in the nearby region later this month, but thanks to President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, multiple religious leaders have opted not to meet with Pence. The latest is Egypt’s Coptic Church. In a statement, a spokesman for the church said it had “excused itself from hosting” the vice president, arguing that Trump’s move was “inappropriate and without consideration for the feelings of millions of people.”

Why business has to pay attention to climate change

Mother Jones- One extra day of temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit costs the average Chinese manufacturing plant roughly $10,000 in 2017 dollars in lost output, according to research released last month. The study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, tracked temperatures and daily churn at half a million Chinese plants from 1998 to 2007.

In 2050, those losses are on pace to balloon to more than $47.2 billion in 2017 dollars as the world’s biggest manufacturing country loses 12 percent of its factory output each year. That equates to about 4 percent of annual gross domestic product in a country where 32 percent of GDP comes from manufacturing.

Progressives trying to teach DNC how to count votes fairly

Salon -More than a dozen progressive groups are urging the Democratic National Committee’s post-2016 Unity Reform Commission to recommend the party end its superdelegate system, where one-sixth of those nominating the presidential candidate are chosen before primaries and caucuses.
“On behalf of our more than 12 million members, we urge the Commission to recommend the full elimination of superdelegates’ power to overrule the will of Democratic primary voters in selecting the party’s presidential nominee,” the groups wrote in a letter in anticipation of the Unity Commission’s final meeting this weekend.
“If this is not the Commission’s final recommendation, the Commission should at the very least follow the mandate from the Democratic National Convention’s Rules Committee to reduce the voting power of superdelegates by approximately two-thirds,” said the letter, which was co-signed by the Center for Popular Democracy, Courage Campaign, CREDO Action, Demand Progress Action,, National Nurses United, NDN, Other98, Our Revolution, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Progressive Democrats of America, and Social Security Works.

What Trump's days are like

December 9, 2017

Maryland joins states pro-Israel and anti-free speech

MIC-  Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order that prohibits any contractor or subcontractor from working with the state if they boycott Israel.

The move came after a similar measure failed to gain support in the state legislature.

“Despite these clear warnings about the Orwellian and unconstitutional nature of such laws, Maryland governor Larry Hogan decided to take matters into his own hands and pass by fiat an anti-[boycott, divestment and sanctions] executive order that failed to get through the Maryland State Legislature,” Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the United States Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said in an email. 

In Kansas, the ACLU is currently suing the state over its anti-BDS law on behalf of a math teacher who was kicked out of a state teaching program for supporting her Mennonite church’s protest against Israel’s occupation.

And in June, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive action similar to the one in Maryland that prohibits state funds from anyone who does not vow support for Israel.

Law profs come up with 34 pages of ways to game GOP tax scam

Slate - Because they were rushed through Congress at lightning speed and with barely more editing than your average blog post, the Republican tax bills are turning out to be full of kinks. Some of these mistakes—like the $289 billion tax hike on corporations senators accidentally wrote into their law at the last minute—have been widely covered. But many others are just being discovered. “The more you read, the more you go, ‘Holy crap, what’s this?’” Greg Jenner, a former top tax official in George W. Bush’s Treasury Department, told Politico this week. “We will be dealing with unintended consequences for months to come because the bill is moving too fast.”

Today, a group of 13 tax law professors and lawyers, many of whom have been vocal opponents of the Republican plan, published a 34-page paper offering a taste of what those unintended consequences might be. You know how people have been joking about incorporating themselves ever since these tax bills started kicking around? That’s almost certainly going to be a thing. Investors may be able to shelter their investment profits by stuffing them into C-Corporations, which are in line for a low, 20 percent tax rate. Many individuals could save on their income taxes by gaming proposed tax breaks for passthrough businesses—firms like partnerships and LLCs that aren’t subject to the corporate rate. Baseball players will probably start separate companies to collect all of their endorsement and licensing royalties while saving on taxes. A law firm could split itself into multiple pieces in order to minimize its associates’ IRS bills.

Voucher programs aid evangelical extremists

Huffington Post -President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have openly championed such programs and have encouraged states to embrace school choice, arguing that voucher programs give parents an alternative to low-performing public schools. Currently 14 states and the District of Columbia have voucher programs, and 17 have tax credit programs. DeVos has made it a top priority to push a federal school choice initiative.

Many of the private schools that participate in these state-led programs are run by evangelical Christian churches. ..

The number of schools using these resources is largely unknown, even in states where they receive support from publicly funded scholarships. No state or federal organization tracks the curriculum being used in private school choice programs. The religious affiliations of schools that participate in these programs are also not always tracked.

That means there are thousands of kids receiving an extremist and ultraconservative education at the expense of taxpayers.

Mueller amasses more than 400,00 Manafort related documents

Washington Examiner- Special counsel Robert Mueller has amassed hundreds of thousands of records as part of his investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a court filing on Friday that shed new light on the scope of the ongoing federal probe.

Lawyers from Mueller's team said they have issued 15 search warrants related to the federal investigation so far, and obtained more than "400,000 items," including bank records, tax returns and emails.

Massachusetts could be first state to make pot smoking easy

Hit & Run - Eight states have now legalized recreational marijuana. But those same states often leave cannabis consumers with few options for where they can legally smoke. Oregon and Washington prohibit any public pot-smoking, even at dispensaries. California, whose recreational market is set to launch on January 1, lets cities regulate on-site marijuana consumption, but most towns have been slow to embrace the idea.

Massachusetts may take a different path. The state legalized pot by ballot referendum in 2016, and its recreational marijuana market is scheduled to launch this coming April. A subcommittee of the state's Cannabis Advisory Board unveiled draft regulations that would permit the on-site consumption of marijuana in much the same way that alcohol can be served at bars and restaurants.

"This is about consumer choice," says Michael Latulippe of the Patient Advocacy Alliance, who drafted the on-site consumption rules.

Massachusetts' regulations for its recreational marijuana industry will not be finalized until March, but Latulippe is confident that social consumption will be part of final package.

That would give the state the most liberalized recreational marijuana industry.

More than half of Forest Service budget used to fight wildfires this year

Mother Jones - The 2017 fire season was the nation’s costliest, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which houses the Forest Service. That agency’s annual budget is increasingly dedicated to suppressing and fighting wildland fires, as longer seasons and more destructive blazes require more resources. Millions of acres have burned in the West this year, mostly in California, Montana and Oregon. Some of the West’s biggest fires began in September, at a time when the fire season is typically waning. But by mid-September

More Trump negligence: Failure to produce air quality maps

Planetizen - "California and 13 other states sued the Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency for ignoring an Oct. 1 deadline to update the nation's map of areas with unhealthy smog levels," reports Bob Egelko.

The states, joined by the District of Columbia, said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is violating a law that requires the agency, every two years, to designate areas that exceed federal air-quality standards for ozone, the harmful gas produced in sunlight by pollutants from tailpipes and smokestacks.

Waste of air time: White House press briefings

Salon - The daily White House press briefing has become, in 2017, a unique charade that typically has little to offer beyond baffling soundbites. This vapid, shallow parade is, unfortunately, perfect for cable news in 2017 — and all the more reason to move it off the airwaves.

"I see a lot of bright, talented well-sourced people in that room absolutely wasting their time. They should be putting their talents to use in better ways," Chris Daly, a journalism professor at Boston University, told Salon. "I think they've taken an institution of marginal value, and made it truly worthless."

In its current-day form, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — who followed Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci — jousts with reporters to see who wins the day's messaging battle.

"I think it is a bankrupt, empty exercise at this point. Sanders does not make news, she does not even announce news, Daly explained. "She's just there to bat away questions and it's just a ridiculous waste of time" that is, in turn, "degrading" to the press corps.


December 8, 2017

56% think government is responsible for healthcare

If Trump goes, this is what God has in store

Trump officials betrayng their jobs

The Hill - For the past nine months, [EPA head Scott] Pruitt has crusaded against science. In late October, he banned independent scientists who receive EPA funding from serving on its science advisory committees. He went on to make appointments to key committees that increase industry and consulting firm representation while slashing the percentage of academic researchers.

This was more than politics as usual. It is the latest evidence that Pruitt is rejecting the EPA’s core mission of protecting public health. Agency expertise is key to effectively implementing many federal statutes. Members of Congress and their staffs simply do not have the necessary training or bandwidth to evaluate complex data and regularly update laws as new information becomes available. As evidence of Congress’s reliance on agency expertise, 62 members of the House warned Pruitt that his proposed changes to the advisory committees harmed the EPA’s scientific integrity.

Reuters -  The new acting head of the U.S. consumer finance watchdog is reviewing whether Wells Fargo & Co  should pay tens of millions of dollars over alleged mortgage lending abuse, according to three sources familiar with the dispute.

The San Francisco-based bank said in October that it would refund homebuyers who were wrongly charged fees to secure low mortgage rates - a black mark against a lender which has already been roiled by scandal over its treatment of customers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had been investigating the mortgage issue since early this year, said one current and two former officials. The agency accepted an internal review from Wells Fargo and set settlement terms in early November, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak about internal discussions.

But that matter and roughly a dozen others are in question now that Mick Mulvaney, the agency chief tapped by President Donald Trump, has said he is reviewing the CFPB’s prior work.

Mayors and local leaders add their voices to retain net neutrality

Huffington Post - If all goes as planned, the Federal Communications Commission will vote next Thursday to repeal net neutrality rules, giving internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast substantial power over the content they provide and the prices they charge to do so.

The unpopular move, spearheaded by Trump-appointed FCC Chairman (and former Verizon lawyer) Ajit Pai, has already drawn the ire of hundreds of popular websites and millions of consumers.

On Thursday, nearly five dozen U.S. mayors and other local leaders added their outrage to the chorus, making their anger known in a public letter addressed to Pai and his fellow commissioners.

The mayoral group, which includes leaders from the across the political spectrum and from cities big and small, made a strong case for the fundamental importance of an open internet on the local level, saying that everything from economic strength to basic government services are at risk with the repeal.

GOP tax scam could make more political contributions deductible

NPR - Wealthy Americans may get a new conduit for political money in the tax overhaul bill now being reconciled on Capitol Hill.

A small provision in the House version of the bill would let big donors secretly give unlimited amounts to independent political groups — and write off the contributions as charitable gifts.

"You not only get to help that candidate with a big contribution, it's not going to be publicized and you're going to be able to take a tax deduction on top of it," said Michael Franz, a political scientist, who analyzes political advertising with the Wesleyan Media Project.

The change would echo — or possibly dwarf — the influx of unregulated, undisclosed campaign money brought about by two Supreme Court decisions over the past decade. Those rulings permitted unlimited contributions to tax-exempt "social welfare" groups engaging in politics. The groups operate under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code and don't disclose their donors.

The tax overhaul bill offers a potentially much bigger loophole — one that political operatives will try to drive right through. It would politicize a different set of tax-exempt groups: 501(c)(3) charity organizations, through which donors can take tax deductions for their contributions.

"This is going to create, possibly, tax-deductible electioneering," Franz said.

More bad stuff about Roy Moore

Washington Post - 1997, as a circuit court judge, Moore spoke out against evolution — and linked it to crime. CNN’s KFILE team uncovered the video.

“We have kids driving by, shooting each other, that they don’t even know each other,” Moore said. “They’re acting like animals because we’ve taught them they come from animals. They’re treating their fellow men with prejudice because we taught them they come from animals.”

In 2005, Moore was interviewed by journalist Bill Press. During that interview, he argued that homosexuality should be illegal.

“Homosexual conduct should be illegal, yes,” he told Press when asked about his views on a contemporaneous Supreme Court decision. At the time, nearly half the country agreed; his campaign has not clarified whether he still holds this position.

In 2006, writing for the conservative site WorldNetDaily, he argued that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) should not be allowed to serve in the House because he is Muslim and would be sworn in on the Koran.

“In 1943, we would never have allowed a member of Congress to take their oath on ‘Mein Kampf,’ or someone in the 1950s to swear allegiance to the ‘Communist Manifesto,'” Moore wrote. “Congress has the authority and should act to prohibit Ellison from taking the congressional oath today!” Asked about this article in October, Moore appeared to stand by it.

A year ago, after Donald Trump’s election, Moore was asked at an event whether he believed that Obama was born in the United States.

“My personal belief is that he wasn’t,” Moore replied, “but that’s probably over and done in a few days, unless we get something else to come along.”

[At a Moore rally]

“We were torn apart in the Civil War — brother against brother, North against South, party against party,” he said. “What changed?”

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting,” he continued. “What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

He later defended the use of “reds and yellows” by saying that he was quoting a religious song.

Where Harold Ford Jr came from

The sexual harassment scandals have now included former Congressmember and MSNBC commentator Harold Ford Jr, who was never all that interesting, but his family was as this story recalls

Memphis Commercial Appeal  - . Harold Ford Jr. is a 47-year-old member of the prominent Ford family of Memphis and became a well-known figure on the national stage through his terms in Congress and his TV appearances. At one point he was considered one of Washington's most eligible bachelors. In 2001, People magazine listed Ford as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world.

Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. was fired by Morgan Stanley following the company's investigation into alleged misconduct, according to a report Wochit

The Ford family originally rose to prominence within Memphis' African-American community through its successful operation of funeral businesses. Some local funeral homes still bear the Ford name, among them N.J. Ford and Sons Funeral Home and E.H. Ford Mortuary.

Many members of the Ford family have been elected to city, county, state and federal offices. Among the most prominent was Harold Ford Sr., who used his charisma, campaign skills and funeral home connections to win a congressional seat in 1974 representing Memphis.

Harold Ford Sr. was only 29, and at the time, and his election was "the biggest political victory in modern history for a black man in the Bluff City," author and journalist Otis Sanford wrote in his book, "From Boss Crump to King Willie."

The Ford family has seen its share of scandals. In 2007, for instance, John Ford, a former state senator and an uncle of Harold Ford Jr., was sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison in a corruption case. 2. He won his father's spot in Congress

By 1996, Harold Ford Sr. had been elected to Congress many times and was approaching retirement from the legislative body. He began touring the district with his then-25-year-old son, Harold Jr., who was a law student. ''If you like me, you're gonna love him,'' the elder Ford said at one point.

Sam Smith, Progressive Review, 2016 - EH Crump was only mayor of Memphis twice but he controlled the politics of his state for decades. Crump, like Earl Long of Louisiana, was rare among white southern politicians in that he actively organized and sought the support of black voters. One of Crump’s lieutenants, for example, was a black funeral director named Harold Ford, whose grandson of the same name Donald Trump is now considering for a post. The blues godfather, WC Handy, even wrote a song, the “EH Crump Blues”, that would be sung on street corners to garner crowds for rallies.

Notes Wikipedia – “Unlike most Southern Democrats of his era, Crump was not opposed to blacks voting; Memphis blacks were reliable Crump machine voters for the most part. The party often paid the poll taxes required by state law.” 

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