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Sunday :: December 24, 2017

CNN Hires Joan Walsh

MSNBC Loses, CNN gains. Within 24 hours of MSNBC announcing it would not renew veteran journalist Joan Walsh's contract, CNN has hired her.

I'm glad CNN acted so quickly in hiring Joan. I've always liked her. In the early days of blogging, Salon, along with Newsweek and the Washington Examiner, were among the few media organizations that would actually pay bloggers to write articles. Joan was the editor of Salon at the time. (See, “McCain and Palin go to Dobsonville”.)
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The Tax Bill's Effect on Medicare and Medicaid

The AARP says the Tax Bill jeopardizes Medicare and Medicaid.

In addition to spending cuts, there are these problems:

  • The cuts for individuals are temporary
  • The cuts for corporations are permanent
  • By changing the way the inflation index works, people may reach higher income brackets sooner than before, and the the increase in the standard deduction will slow over time, according to the Tax Policy Center.
  • The bill "limits the state and local tax deduction -- which could hurt those in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California."

Also, the AARP says, because there's no longer a penalty for not getting health insurance, more people will be uninsured which will raise insurance premiums for the rest of us.

As to future cuts: bq. "The large increase in the deficit will inevitably lead to calls for greater spending cuts, which are likely to include dramatic cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and other important programs serving older Americans," it said. [More...]

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Tuesday :: December 19, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

I've got clients this afternoon, the jail tomorrow and court on Friday-- then some Xmas shopping.

I'll be online periodically, but for right now, it's time for a new open thread, all topics welcome.

On T.J. Miller, I'm on his side. I've known him since he was 5 years old. I drove him to school for many years on my carpool days. He's always been friends with the TL kid. His parents are the most gracious, generous couple with a beautiful home they always opened up on holidays for parties for the entire class or group. The alleged incident is totally out of character for the T.J. I knew.

Here's TJ and his wife Kate's statement. [More...]

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Senate to Pass Tax Bill Today

The Republican tax bill will pass today, even without John McCain. Trump and the wealthy individuals and corporations that benefit from the bill will celebrate. Most Americans, when they realize not only aren't they benefiting, but the cuts will be paid for by future cost-cutting to social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, etc. will cry in their coffee.

What goes up, must come down. Trump will leave office with thud. All charlatans ultimately get exposed. Trump is no wizard and there is no Oz.

The NY Times has this calculator for you to use to determine whether your taxes will go up or down.

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Monday :: December 18, 2017

Trump Judicial Pick Withdraws After Dismal Performance at Confirmation Hearing

Matthew Peterson, who worked at the FEC for 10 years (5 of them with Trump aide Doug McGann), has withdrawn his name from consideration as a federal judge for the District of Colombia after a dismal performance at his confirmation hearing yesterday.

He's never tried a case, doesn't know what the Daubert standard or a motion in limine is, has never argued a motion, conducted a deposition by himself, and he last read the federal rules of evidence in law school.

He is the third Trump judicial pick to fall this this month [More...]

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Suburban vs. Rural and Faith-Based Republicans

The New York Times reports today on efforts of suburban republicans in places like Texas who are so disgusted by Donald Trump they are organizing for Dems in the 2018 election.

“Have you ever heard of a stupider and trashier man than the president of the United States?” asked Ms. Sharp, an interior designer who lives not far from the elegant condominium where about 75 women gathered this month to help the House candidate Lizzie Pannill Fletcher. “Calling a U.S. senator ‘Pocahontas’ in front of God and everyone!”

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Judge Kozinski Announces Retirement

9th Circuit appeals court judge Alex Kozinski is resigning immediately due to 15 allegations of sexual harassment.

In a statement provided by his lawyer, Kozinski apologized, saying that he “had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks alike” and that, “in doing so, I may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace.”

"It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent,” he said. “For this I sincerely apologize."

His full statement is here.

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Thursday :: December 14, 2017

FCC Repeals Net Neutrality Rules

The FCC today voted to repeal net neutrality rules.

The agency scrapped the so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone service.

FCC Chair Ajit Pai joined with the two Republican members of the FCC to make the vote a 3-2 decision.

His views read like trickle-down falsities to me: [More...]

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Tavis Smiley Suspended by PBS

Tavis Smiley is angry at PBS, which he says performed a sloppy investigation of the harassment allegations against him, and then suspended him.

Put simply, PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgment, and trampling on a reputation that I have spent an entire lifetime trying to establish,” Mr. Smiley wrote early Thursday.

Variety has more details, including this statement posted by Smiley on his FB page:

In a statement posted Thursday evening on Facebook, Smiley said, “I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth. To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years.”

The allegations: [More...]

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Wednesday :: December 13, 2017

USA Today Editorial: Trump Not Fit to Clean Toilets

USA Today has an amazing editorial blasting Donald Trump today.

“[A] president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”

USA Today does not endorse political candidates and due to its national reach, usually tries to stay neutral. In 2016, it made an exception, and as to Donald Trump, told its readers:

“Resist the siren song of a dangerous demagogue. By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump.”

After noting that Obama and Bush had their own flaws, but at least they were decent men, it opines:

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.”

It then addresses "Trump’s utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity" and lists supporting examples.

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Monday Open Thread

Bon Jovi finally makes it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I'm glad that Richie Sambora (who left the band a few years ago) is included.

What's my favorite Bon Jovi song? This one, by miles.

In other news, I refuse to get distracted by the Republicans' ploy to bloviate about Mueller bias during the House testimony of Rod Rosenstein today. I watched a few minutes during which Rosenstein said he has faith in Mueller, the investigation isn't biased, and he's in charge and would step in if warranted, but it's not warranted. Shorter version: There's no "there" there.

Minn. Lt. Gov. Tina F. Smith has been named by the Gov. to replace Al Franken — she will have to run for the office in November.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: December 12, 2017

Alabama Senate Results: Live Blog

Update: 10:30 pm: The New York Times, CNN and NBC call the race for Doug Jones! (I beat them by 25 minutes.) Congratulations to Doug Jones. America thanks you. Donald Trump loses again. Who says you can't go home?

Update 10:05 pm: The networks are being cautious, but looking at the map and the precincts not yet reporting, I don't see how Moore can pull it off. I'm ready to call the race for Doug Jones!

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Alabama Senate Exit Polls

5:20 p.m. ET: First early exit polls released in the Alabama Senate Race:

The first exit polls are released, revealing Alabama voters divided on the validity of the allegations against Moore. More than four in 10 believe they are false. Most Jones voters believe the accusations, while most of Moore's voters do not.

For about 40 percent of voters, the allegations were the most important factor in their vote, mostly for Jones voters. Moore voters were more motivated by their support for Donald Trump. Early exit polling shows Jones supporters more staunchly behind their candidate than those behind Moore.

Furthermore, most voters had already made up their minds by November – before the allegations against Moore surfaced.

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Bangladeshi Officials to U.S: Ullah is a Homegrown U.S. Terrorist

Bangladeshi government officials have told the U.S. that Akayed Ullah is a product of U.S. homegrown terrorism.

Bangladesh has communicated with the US government that it has no record on Akayed Ullah’s involvement with the militancy here and termed him as a “homegrown US terrorist,” a senior Bangladesh government official said on Tuesday.

Here is the Affidavit in support of the Complaint against Ullah. Among other things, it states that Ullah wrote on his FB page, "Trump you failed to protect your nation."

The Affidavit states Ullah told authorities his attack was ISIS-inspired and he began following ISIS sites online in 2014. (What took him so long to act, and why now, after ISIS has lost so much ground in Syria and Iraq?)

ISIS has been calling for homegrown attacks in the U.S. and Europe since shortly after it declared its Caliphate in June, 2014. Deceased ISIS spokesman al-Adnani called for homegrown attacks in September, 2014. [More...]

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New Report: Trump White House Viewed as Most Corrupt

A new survey report on public perception of corruption in public institutions has been released by Transparency International, a leading non-profit organization that tracks such things.

The survey asked about the degree of corruption in nine influential groups. These included the national government (the president’s office, members of congress, government officials), public officials who work at the service level (tax officials, the police, judges, local officials), and those who are not part of government but who often wield strong influence (business executives, religious leaders). Of these categories, government institutions and officials in Washington are perceived to be the most corrupt in the country. The results show that 44 per cent of Americans now say that most or all of those in the Office of the President are corrupt, up from 36 per cent who said the same last year.

The Washington Post has some analysis: [More...]

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