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  • Open thread for night owls: Barbara Lee's war on war
    on November 22, 2017 at 4:01 am

    Matthew Cunningham-Cook at In These Times writes—Barbara Lee’s War on War. Washington’s voice of conscience since 9/11: CONGRESSIONAL NEGOTIATIONS OVER THE PENTAGON’S ANNUAL BUDGET ARE USUALLY A STAID AFFAIR, with much of the focus on lawmakers’ favored pork projects. But on June 29, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) won nearly unanimous support on the appropriations committee for her measure to sunset the post-9/11 authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, essentially a blank check for American wars. Though Paul Ryan stripped the measure from the bill later in the summer, Lee singlehandedly launched a debate on the issue in Congress, with Republicans and Democrats alike asking whether the president should have this power. Lee’s success also comes as a vindication; she was the only member of Congress to vote against the AUMF. “September 11 changed the world,” she said at the time. “Our deepest fears now haunt […]

  • Those dark streaks cascading down the Martian landscape may not be caused by flowing water after all
    on November 22, 2017 at 3:31 am

    If you’re among the many who did somersaults in 2015 when NASA announced it had found “the best evidence yet” for water flowing on the surface of Mars, you’ll probably want to sit down.  On Monday, a team of researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey published a study that suggests dark streaks spotted on the steep slopes of Mars probably aren’t moist patches that could harbor microbial life, but instead are left behind by flowing sand or dust. The finding comes as a disappointment to scientists who had pointed to the “recurring slope lineae,” as they’re known, as a strong indicator for liquid water below the planet’s surface. “This new understanding . . . supports other evidence that shows that Mars today is very dry,” lead author Colin Dundas said in a news release. The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, is based on observations made by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s […]

  • Alabama newspapers won't back down to Roy Moore's legal threats: 'will not be silenced or slowed'
    on November 22, 2017 at 3:01 am

    The Alabama Media Group has committed the cardinal sin (in Republican eyes) of doing serious reporting on Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore’s history of pursuing teenage girls, and that has Moore and his lawyers all worked up. Trent Garmon, Moore's dog-whistling attorney, has repeatedly threatened AMG and its AL.com website with lawsuits, due to—allegedly—“false news and/or careless reporting.” And in these times of too easily intimidated media, AMG’s response is worth a big cheer: “AL.com hereby rejects your demand. AL.com stands by its reporting regarding all of the matters addressed in your letter,” Thompson wrote to Moore legal representative Trenton Garmon. The letter was sent a day after the publisher issued a public statement saying they “will not be silenced or slowed” by Moore’s intimidation tactics. [...] “AL.com and our newspapers stand firm in our resolve to […]

  • If you want to work for the Trump administration, it helps to have family that already does
    on November 22, 2017 at 2:31 am

    Of all of Team Trump's actions in office, their predilection for hiring on husbands and wives and sons and daughters and cousins and what-have-you is probably the least surprising. A Daily Beast examination of public records reveals that there are at least 20 families, joined by either blood or marriage, in which multiple members hold some federal post or appointment. They include the families of some of Trump’s most prominent campaign supporters and agency officials, including one cabinet officer. The posts range from senior White House staff to more ceremonial and advisory positions. As one key example, the Beast uses the DeVos family. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, her husband, and her sister-in-law all landed their own posts; brother Erik Prince also is able to catch the president's ear. The same story exists throughout the Trump administration, because the word of the day is nepotism. But this is not terribly surprising, right? From the outset, Donald Trump claimed he […]

  • New analysis: Republican tax cut plan will leave us $1.3 trillion in the hole
    on November 22, 2017 at 2:01 am

    Republicans insist that their massive tax giveaway to the wealthy will spur so much growth, the middle class won't even notice they're being royally screwed. But a third group, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, has stepped up to say there’s no way this plan will pay for itself. The Tax Policy Center found that the economic growth the bill would create would add $169 billion in additional tax revenue over the next decade. But that would be far outweighed by $1.436 trillion in revenue losses over the decade due to the bill's tax cuts, leaving the bill with a net addition to the deficit of $1.266 trillion. The Tax Policy Center found that the House Republican tax-cut package would add 0.6 percent to U.S. gross domestic product in 2018 but just 0.3 percent in 2027. […] "These economic benefits would be modest because most tax reductions would accrue to high-income households, who spend a smaller share of any increases in after-tax income than lower-income […]

  • Alaska: Lisa Murkowski is lying to you about tax cuts and Obamacare
    on November 22, 2017 at 1:31 am

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski won't be coming to the rescue of the Affordable Care Act this time around, she tells Alaskan voters in an op-ed in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner. I have always supported the freedom to choose. I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy in order to avoid being taxed. That is the fundamental reason why I opposed the Affordable Care Act from its inception and also why I cosponsored a bill to repeal the individual mandate tax penalty starting as early as 2013. And that is why I support the repeal of that tax today. She goes on to talk about the effects of Obamacare in Alaska (with some significant factual errors that Charles Gaba is totally on) and then tells her readers: Repealing the individual mandate simply restores to people the freedom to choose. Nothing else about the structure of the ACA would be changed. If you currently get tax credits to help pay for your insurance, you could still receive those […]

  • Nevada asks for emergency funds for children's health, 52 days after Republicans let it expire
    on November 22, 2017 at 1:01 am

    Campaign Action Congressional Republicans are back home gearing up for Thanksgiving celebrations and their eventual return to D.C., where they will attempt to push through their massive tax breaks for the rich. While they're enjoying themselves, millions of families are wondering if their kids will have access to health care next year, and state officials are in a panic. Because while Republicans have been focused on those tax cuts, they've shoved aside the children. Nevada has requested an extra $11.3 million in federal funding to continue the state's Children’s Health Insurance Program while Congress decides if it will renew funding for the decades-old program. If the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approves the state’s request, it will keep the Nevada Check Up program running through February, according to Chrystal Main, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. Without it, the state will run out of funding by the […]

  • Trump's Office of Science and Technology is an office ... it just doesn't have any people
    on November 22, 2017 at 12:31 am

    Not every ghost town is found in the high deserts of the West. As CBS reports, you can find a few without leaving Washington, D.C. In its 41-year-old history as the White House hub of innovation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy has never gone this long without a leader or official mandate. The science office, which takes up half of the fourth floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, has a fleet of empty desks. Of course, it’s easy to think of many reasons why Trump might be leaving those desks open. He’s been slow to nominate people in many areas and he’s often convinced his giant brain needs no assistance. Trump knows how to tweet. What else is technology good for anyway?  And of course, there’s another factor. The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s […]

  • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announces plan to sell out net neutrality protections to big telecom
    on November 22, 2017 at 12:01 am

    As promised, Ajit Pai, the new far-right chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has taken the first action that will put the internet entirely in the hands of internet service providers, ending net neutrality protections for, well, everybody who uses the internet. In a release, Pai said his proposal would prevent the government from "micromanaging the Internet." In place of the existing rules, he added, the FCC would "simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices." The proposal would also shift some enforcement responsibility to the Federal Trade Commission, which can sue companies whose actions do not reflect the commitments or statements they have made to the public. Because we all know how transparent Comcast and Verizon are, right? The providers couldn't be more thrilled, but since they probably wrote the new proposed rules, they aren't surprised. Says Verizon, "We're very encouraged by Chairman Pai's announcement today that the […]

  • Obamacare enrollments are still surging, but time is short
    on November 21, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Campaign Action Things are looking very good for the first few weeks of enrollment in the Affordable Care Act—better than any previous year, by far. About 300,000 more people signed up in the first two weeks this year than did last year, which in turn had more enrollments than the previous two years. But here's the problem: one of the most effective of Trump's sabotage efforts was lopping weeks off of the enrollment period. That means it ends in three weeks, on December 15, whereas it extended into January in previous years. Because the Trump administration cut the enrollment period in half this year, to 45 days from three months, weekly sign-ups would need to double to match the number of sign-ups in previous years. The deadline to sign up this year is Dec. 15 in most states. Last enrollment period, it was Jan. 31. There are usually two spikes during the enrollment period: one in the middle and one near the end. The first spike is from people […]

  • Cartoon: Steve Earle
    on November 21, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Get your 2018 Calendar here!! […]

  • The GOP tax heist: Looting 50 percent of Americans to line the pockets of the top 1 percent
    on November 21, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    The more daylight the GOP’s tax plan sees, the more it stinks to high heaven. The takeaway from the latest analysis of the Senate bill shows that it will actually raise taxes on about one-half of Americans when all is said and done. The Washington Post writes: Here is the key takeaway from the new analysis, which is the work of the Tax Policy Center: By 2027, around 50 percent of taxpayers will see a tax hike. The whole purpose of this tax increase is to make it possible for Senate Republicans to pass a tax cut that overwhelmingly benefits the very wealthiest taxpayers — on party lines, without any Democrats. What the Senate tax bill does is frontload the benefits to middle- and low-income Americans, shrinking them steadily over time until they entirely disappear and, in most cases, are replaced by a hike. Check out what happens by 2027, once the Senate plan is fully implemented: Most low- and middle-income Americans will see a tax increase, but fully 83 […]


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