Sunday, December 17, 2017

How Putin's proxies helped funnel millions into GOP campaigns

https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/12/15/putins-proxies-helped-funnel-millions-gop-campaigns
"McConnell surely knew as a participant in high level intelligence briefings in 2016 that our electoral process was under attack by the Russians. Two weeks after the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement in October 2016 that the Russian government had directed the effort to interfere in our electoral process, McConnell's PAC accepted a $1 million donation from Blavatnik's AI-Altep Holdings. The PAC took another $1 million from Blavatnik's AI-Altep Holdings on March 30, 2017, just 10 days after former FBI Director James Comey publicly testified before the House Intelligence Committee about Russia's interference in the election. And consider Steve Mnuchin, Trump's campaign finance chairman. Could he have known that the Trump Victory Fund, jointly managed by the Republican National Committe and Trump's campaign, took contributions from Intrater and Kukes? Mnuchin owned Hollywood financing company RatPac-Dune with Blavatnik until he sold his stake to accept Trump's appointment as the Treasury secretary. Which PAC officials are making the decisions to accept these donations?"

Buried in 503-page tax bill, a new provision that personally benefits Trump

https://thinkprogress.org/new-republican-tax-bill-provision-trump-3307e94f099d/
"the final tax legislation contains a brand-new provision that wasn’t included in the House or Senate bills. It benefits real estate developers like President Donald Trump and his family. The provision was first highlighted by the International Business Times."

Trump repeats PolitiFact’s ‘Lie of the Year’ minutes after earning dubious honor — and floats new one

Trump repeats PolitiFact’s ‘Lie of the Year’ minutes after earning dubious honor — and floats new one

"President Donald Trump repeated PolitiFact’s freshly minted “lie of the year,” and got down to work on spreading a contender for next year’s dubious honor. The nonpartisan fact-checking organization on Tuesday morning named Trump’s insistence that allegations of Russian election interference were a “hoax” as its lie of the year, and the president tweeted the claims anew a few minutes later."

Republicans Agree on Tax Bill “Of, By and For the Political Donor Class” with Tax Cuts for the Rich

GOP turns to decades-old lies to sell new tax scam

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/12/10/1722011/-GOP-turns-to-decades-old-lies-to-sell-new-tax-scam
"It’s no wonder that Republicans from Maine Sen. Susan Collins to House Speaker Paul Ryan have been struggling to manufacture lists of conservative economists to vouch for their voodoo. But more appalling than the grotesque GOP disinformation campaign itself is the Republican regurgitation of decades-old lies to sell it. The GOP’s best and brightest have been peddling the same fiscal fantasies since supply-side snake oil salesman Arthur Laffer first sketched his magical Curve on a cocktail napkin for Team Reagan in the 1970s. The passage of time has not made the GOP falsehoods any more true."

Fascism's Return and Trump's War on Youth

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/42924-fascism-s-return-and-trump-s-war-on-youth
"Trump is the apostle of moral blindness and unchecked corruption, and he revels in a mode of governance that merges his never-ending theatrics of self-promotion with deeply authoritarian politics. One of the most disturbing features of Trump's fascism is his disregard for the truth and his embrace of an infantilism that demonstrates, for young people, a lack of any viable sense of critical thought, agency and commitment to social and economic justice. What's more, Trump has unleashed a rancid populism and racist-fuelled ultra-nationalism that mimics older forms of fascism and creates a culture of cruelty that both disparages its children and cancels out a future that makes democracy possible for them -- and therefore all of us. At the same time, Trump has embraced a merging of corporate power and politics that is characteristic of all fascist regimes, and in doing so, he has shifted wealth and resources away from vital social programs for young people into the hands of the financial elite."

CDC banned from using 7 words, including “science-based,” in budget documents

https://www.vox.com/2017/12/16/16784498/cdc-seven-words-science-transgender-fetus
"The Trump administration has reportedly banned officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using these seven words in budget documents — a move that some are calling downright Orwellian: evidence-based science-based vulnerable entitlement diversity transgender fetus According to the Washington Post’s Lena Sun and Juliet Eilperin, who broke the story Friday night, CDC policy analysts at headquarters in Atlanta were briefed about the banned words at a Thursday meeting with officials who oversee CDC’s budget.

Lawrence: Rich Get Richer In Deficit-Exploding GOP Tax Bill

Net Neutrality Killed as FCC 'Hands Keys to Internet to Handful of Multi-Billion Dollar Corporations'

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/12/14/net-neutrality-killed-fcc-hands-keys-internet-handful-multi-billion-dollar
"Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also denounced the ruling: Once again, the Trump administration has sided with big money and against the interests of the American people. The FCC's vote to end net neutrality is an egregious attack on our democracy. With this decision the internet and its free exchange of information as we have come to know it will cease to exist. The end of net neutrality protections means that the internet will be for sale to the highest bidder, instead of everyone having the same access regardless of whether they are rich or poor, a big corporation or small business, a multimedia conglomerate or a small online publication. At a time when our democratic institutions are already in peril, we must do everything we can to stop this decision from taking effect."

Mick Mulvaney: 'If You Get Your News On [Fox] You'll Love GOP Tax Plan

Mick Mulvaney: 'If You Get Your News On [Fox] You'll Love GOP Tax Plan:

"See, any critical thinking or review of Trump's plans and policies that are not completely favorable are biased and "fake news," whereas on Fox and Friends, they know how to focus on the right things. What has Trump's co-conspirators nervous while they are Stepford-wiving the public are a slew of new polls that show the American people hate the GOP's tax bill."

American Taliban

https://www.salon.com/2017/12/13/american-taliban/
"Republicans aren’t a political party anymore. They’re the American Taliban. They’ve set out to lay waste to America as we’ve known it, and it’s gotten a lot harder to keep up with them, hasn’t it? The evil buggers have been nibbling away at us like ducks for so long there is hardly any flesh left on our bones. The latest scam they came up with was as predictable as it was venal. The “deficit hawks” in the Republican party who wouldn’t pass a single bill during the eight years Obama was in the White House unless it was “paid for” are in a so-called conference committee splitting hairs over how many trillions they’re going to add to the national debt. Meanwhile, their gimlet-eyed death ferret speaker of the house just announced plans last week to lay waste to “entitlements.” You remember “entitlements,” don’t you? Those are the programs you actually pay for with your payroll taxes, Social Security and Medicare, which aren’t entitlements at all, but rather the federally established insurance policies that protect the elderly against poverty and disease. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” the Death Ferret said while being interviewed on a radio talk show. Medicare and Medicaid “are the big drivers of the debt” Speaker Paul Ryan explained. “That’s where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.” Do you see the genius at work here? I mean, just look at them! First they pass a so-called “tax cut” that actually raises taxes on tens of millions of lower and middle class Americans while cutting taxes on millionaires and billionaires and adding trillions to the deficit. Then they use the increase in the deficit to justify cutting the two federal programs that actually work to aid the people whose taxes they just raised. They do have a plan. We’ve spent the last 10 months watching them carry it out. Part of the plan is to overturn every single thing Democrats did under Obama."

Activist With ALS: Kill The GOP Tax Bill & Save My Life

GOP strategist flays Republican tax plan: ‘Anyone who thinks this will trickle down has staggering ignorance’

GOP strategist flays Republican tax plan: ‘Anyone who thinks this will trickle down has staggering ignorance’

"Republican strategist Steve Schmidt on Thursday blasted his party for pushing a tax plan that he said will do little to help the working class while providing huge cuts for the wealthy and large corporations."

Here are the 10 most ridiculous lies Trump told in 2017

Here are the 10 most ridiculous lies Trump told in 2017

"President Donald Trump is lying at a rate that is literally unprecedented — in fact, a recent Washington Post analysis has found that, since this past October, Trump has been making an average of nine false claims per day."

U.N. officials touring rural Alabama are shocked at the level of poverty and environmental degradation

http://www.newsweek.com/alabama-un-poverty-environmental-racism-743601
"A United Nations official investigating poverty in the United States was shocked at the level of environmental degradation in some areas of rural Alabama, saying he had never seen anything like it in the developed world. "I think it's very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I'd have to say that I haven't seen this," Philip Alston, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, told Connor Sheets of AL.com earlier this week as they toured a community in Butler County where raw sewage flows from homes through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits. The tour through Alabama's rural communities is part of a two-week investigation by the U.N. on poverty and human rights abuses in the United States. So far, U.N. investigators have visited cities and towns in California and Alabama, and will soon travel to Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. Of particular concern to Alston are specific poverty-related issues that have surfaced across the country in recent years, such as an outbreak of hookworm in Alabama in 2017—a disease typically found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa.The U.N. investigation aims to study the effects of systemic poverty in a prosperous nation like the United States. According to the Census Bureau, nearly 41 million people in the U.S. live in poverty. That's second-highest rate of poverty among rich countries, as measured by the percentage of people earning less than half the national median income, according to Quartz."

Senator Bernie Sanders: GOP Tax Bill Is Simply A 'Gift' To 1%

Republicans Just Made It a Lot Harder for Restaurant Workers to Fight Big Chains @alternet

Republicans Just Made It a Lot Harder for Restaurant Workers to Fight Big Chains @alternet:

"On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board, led by Trump appointee Philip A. Miscimarra, undid an Obama-era ruling that protected workers, including subcontractors, from labor law violations. In an unsurprising move, all three Republicans on the Board voted together to undo the rule, while the two Democrats opposed them."

Corporation and Nation

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/12/08/corporation-and-nation
"Trump and congressional Republicans are engineering the largest corporate tax cut in history in order “to restore our competitive edge,” as Trump says. Our competitive edge? Who’s us? Most American corporations – especially big ones that would get most of the planned corporate tax cuts – have no particular allegiance to America. Their only allegiance is to their shareholders. For years they’ve been cutting the jobs and wages of American workers in order to generate larger profits and higher share prices. Some of these jobs have gone abroad or been outsourced to lower-paid contractors in America. Others have been automated. Most of the remaining jobs pay no more than they did four decades ago, adjusted for inflation. When GM went public again in 2010 after being bailed out by American taxpayers, it boasted of making 43 percent of its cars in places where labor is less than $15 an hour – often outside the United States. And it got its American unions to agree that new hires would be paid half the wages and benefits of its old workers. Capital is global. Big American corporations are “American” only because they’re headquartered and legally incorporated in the United States. But they could (and sometimes do) leave at a moment’s notice. They also employ or contract with workers all over the world. And they’re owned by shareholders all over the world.  According to research by the Tax Policy Center’s Steven Rosenthal, about 35 percent of stock in U.S. corporations is now held by foreign investors.  So when taxes of “American” corporations are cut, foreign investors get a windfall. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that the Senate majority’s tax bill would give foreign investors a tax cut of $31 billion in 2019. The House bill would give them $50.4 billion.  That’s money that foreign investors would otherwise be paying into the U.S. Treasury."

Trump-Led American Politics Is Swamped by Epidemic of Unprecedented Lying @alternet

Trump-Led American Politics Is Swamped by Epidemic of Unprecedented Lying @alternet: Trump will soon tell his 2,000th lie as president. Seventy-one percent of Alabama Republicans believe Roy Moore.

*/

Josh Earnest: GOP Is "Desperate" To Undermine Robert Mueller

The Uncanny, Frightening Ways That Trump's America Mirrors Hitler's Germany @alternet

The Uncanny, Frightening Ways That Trump's America Mirrors Hitler's Germany @alternet:

"Nazi leaders and propagandists of the 1930s used the phrase L├╝genpresse (“lying press”) at every opportunity to describe the media of their day; today Trump and his supporters are both undermining our faith in our press, and preparing us for a crackdown on press outlets like this one.  And once net neutrality is done away with, they merely have to work with their friends in the multibillion-dollar ISP corporations who, like with the 2006 AT&T scandal and others, are more than happy to help “intelligence” agencies and the administration out. The phrase “Fake news” is simply the Trump version of L├╝genpresse, and the goal and trajectory are the same.  Even Mike Godwin, the inventor of Godwin’s Law (basically, that “whoever first mentions Hitler automatically loses the argument”), is now writing in the Washington Post that, “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump.” Fritz Thyssen was a very wealthy and politically active German industrialist in the 1930s—arguably the Murdoch/Koch/Adelson/Mercer/etc. of his day in Germany— helped fund the rise of Hitler because he thought it would be good for his business and that Hitler would cut his taxes.  When I read his book I Paid Hitler, part apologia and part rationalization, I couldn’t help but wonder how the heirs of today’s GOP/Trump-financing billionaires will look back on this era. That’s assuming, of course, that any sort of real history of the events of this time survives Trump and Pence’s dual assault on our news organizations and net neutrality.  As Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels famously said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie."

The Republican Long Game

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/12/09/republican-long-game
"with Donald Trump in charge, Republicans feel no need to conceal. They have been emboldened, I think, to show their true selves because they feel Trump has their back with his supporters—and as long as they have that army behind them, they are willing to take the risk of promoting a “reform” nearly everyone else hates. Those aggrieved white men who form the bulk of rank-and-file Republicanism don’t care if they have to pay more taxes. They don’t care if their health insurance premiums soar. They don’t care if their children can’t afford to go to college. Surveys show that they are more devoted to Trump than to their own welfare, and they will follow Trump wherever he leads, even if he leads them to financial disaster. He voices their hatreds, and hatred trumps policy. Such is modern Republicanism."

GOP Tax Scam Attacks Renewables While Nurturing Nuclear and Fossil Fuel Industries

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/12/08/gop-tax-scam-attacks-renewables-while-nurturing-nuclear-and-fossil-fuel-industries
"Despite the recent boom in electrical generation from wind and solar—which soared to a record 10 percent of the nation's total generation in June—and the fact that the solar industry alone employs more Americans than coal, gas, and oil sectors combined, both the House and Senate versions of the Republican tax plan propose altering the conditions that have enabled the U.S. renewable industry to blossom."

Net Neutrality Officially Dead

Theological scholar explains horrifying reason Trump’s supporters celebrated Armageddon in Pensacola

Theological scholar explains horrifying reason Trump’s supporters celebrated Armageddon in Pensacola

"In a Pensacola, Florida rally Friday evening, Republican state Senator Doug Broxson suggested to supporters of Donald Trump that the president’s controversial decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may usher in the biblical end times."

How the "Citizens United" Ruling Paved the Way for This Abhorrent Tax Bill

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/42820-how-the-citizens-united-ruling-paved-the-way-for-this-abhorrent-tax-bill
"This tax bill was not written to help the general populace of this country; it was crafted to appease those who run the show from behind the scenes: the donors and lobbyists."

Trump's chief of CFPB spent last six years trying to stop regulations of payday lenders

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/12/8/1722599/-Trump-s-chief-of-CFPB-spent-last-six-years-trying-to-stop-regulations-of-payday-lenders
"As Donald Trump and his crew of wannabe-oligarchs take over and file off the teeth of every government protection agency in the country, it’s good to know how transparently swamp-filled the White House has actually become. When rumors began that OMB head Mick Mulvaney was being tapped to take over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau it would have been laughable if it wasn’t really happening. International Business Times put in a FOIA requestion to the CFPB and received hundreds of pages of correspondence between them and Mick Mulvaney. Guess what Mr. Mulvaney was asking them about? During his congressional campaigns, Mulvaney vacuumed in more than $567,000 from donors in the commercial banking, credit and securities/investment industries, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That includes more than $55,000 from donors in the payday and title loan industry, according to datafrom the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The letters reviewed by IBT show that much of Mulvaney’s criticism of the CFPB revolved around the agency’s attempts to regulate the payday lending industry, which provides short term, high-interest loans. The unregulated scam of payday loans was beginning to see a possible comeuppance over the past year and a half as more and more consumers were banding together and demanding satisfaction. The payday loan industry got their man in Mulvaney, and Mulvaney got his position at the top of the agency that could regulate their predatory practices. There’s a treasure trove that IBT put together, of Mulvaney’s letters to the CFPB, along with other Republican colleagues, attacking things like mortgage regulations∏but mostly the payday loan protections."

Did President Donald Trump Tell Michael Flynn To Lie To The FBI?

It's Not the Money, It's the Power

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a14389486/its-not-the-money-its-the-power/
"It’s not the money so much as it is the power to get it and the power to keep it and the power to control it. They have shown that they’re not beholden to any notion of patriotism, or to the idea of a country, in this effort. They want it all, and they don’t care if they break everything to get it, and they want to keep it, all of it, long after they have graves on which we can all gather to spit."

Robert Reich: The GOP's Whole Economic Model Is One Giant Scam @alternet

Robert Reich: The GOP's Whole Economic Model Is One Giant Scam @alternet:

"Trump and congressional Republicans are engineering the largest corporate tax cut in history in order “to restore our competitive edge,” as Trump says. Our competitive edge? Who’s us? Most American corporations – especially big ones that would get most of the planned corporate tax cuts – have no particular allegiance to America. Their only allegiance is to their shareholders. For years they’ve been cutting the jobs and wages of American workers in order to generate larger profits and higher share prices. Some of these jobs have gone abroad or been outsourced to lower-paid contractors in America. Others have been automated. Most of the remaining jobs pay no more than they did four decades ago, adjusted for inflation. When GM went public again in 2010 after being bailed out by American taxpayers, it boasted of making 43 percent of its cars in places where labor is less than $15 an hour – often outside the United States. And it got its American unions to agree that new hires would be paid half the wages and benefits of its old workers. Capital is global. Big American corporations are “American” only because they’re headquartered and legally incorporated in the United States. But they could (and sometimes do) leave at a moment’s notice. They also employ or contract with workers all over the world.  And they’re owned by shareholders all over the world.  According to research by the Tax Policy Center’s Steven Rosenthal, about 35 percent of stock in U.S. corporations is now held by foreign investors.  So when taxes of “American” corporations are cut, foreign investors get a windfall. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that the Senate majority’s tax bill would give foreign investors a tax cut of $31 billion in 2019. The House bill would give them $50.4 billion.  That’s money that foreign investors would otherwise be paying into the U.S. Treasury."

People with rare diseases join cancer patients on the list of those screwed by Republican tax plan

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/12/8/1722529/-People-with-rare-diseases-join-cancer-patients-on-the-list-of-those-screwed-by-Republican-tax-plan
"It’s starting to look like it would be a very bad idea to get sick, in any serious way, if the Republican tax plan becomes law. Ending cancer treatments for Medicare patients and partial Obamacare repeal aren’t the only ways the bill takes serious aim at health care. The tax bill could also cause problems for people with rare diseases"

Steve Bannon Speechless After Roy Moore Loss In Alabama

Do You, Consumer, Feel Protected?

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a14313813/mick-mulvaney-cfpb-rollback/
"Still more from the We Learned Nothing From 2008 file, sub-paragraph: And We Could Care Less. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, another child of the regulatory backlash after the near-destruction of the world economy, is now being throttled by Mick Mulvaney, the Tea Party non-economist who hates the whole idea of the agency."

I Study Liars. I’ve Never Seen One Like President Trump.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/12/08/i-study-liars-ive-never-seen-one-president-trump
"In Trump’s first 298 days in office, however, he made 1,628 false or misleading claims or flip-flops, by The Post’s tally."

'You Can Save My Life': Traveling on Same Plane, Man With ALS Confronts Sen. Flake Over GOP Tax Bill

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/12/08/you-can-save-my-life-traveling-same-plane-man-als-confronts-sen-flake-over-gop-tax
"Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) boarded a plane leaving Washington, D.C. on Thursday, less than a week after voting for a tax bill that could result in devastating cuts to disability programs."

First Dossier News Lost Amid 2016 Bombshells

Trump makes it even easier for airlines to screw you by repealing baggage fee transparency rules

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/12/8/1722542/-Trump-administration-hands-airlines-a-pass-on-baggage-fee-transparency
"There is absolutely nothing that President Barack Obama did or tried to do for the people of this country that Donald Trump doesn’t want to undo. No matter how petty, no matter how painful. The Obama administration had proposed a rule requiring that as soon you start to buy a plane ticket, you’d be notified of how much in baggage fees the airline would charge, a measure that would help consumers compare prices and might, just might, make airlines hesitate to get out front with higher fees than their competitors. But no. The Department of Transportation (DOT) posted a notice on the Federal Register this week that it is withdrawing the proposed rule, along with another plan to force air carriers to disclose how much revenue they make from charging other ancillary fees. The administration, which has made easing regulatory burdens for businesses a top priority, said the rules would have “limited public benefit"."

GOP Budgets, Statements Make Plans Clear: Costly Tax Cuts for Wealthy Now, Program Cuts Later

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/12/05/gop-budgets-statements-make-plans-clear-costly-tax-cuts-wealthy-now-program-cuts
"The Senate bill raises taxes on millions of low- and middle-income households and raises the number of Americans without health insurance by an estimated 13 million."

Paul Ryan's winning 2018 idea: Cut Medicare and Medicaid after giving $1.5 trillion away to the rich

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/12/6/1721831/-Paul-Ryan-s-winning-2018-idea-Cut-Medicare-and-Medicaid-after-giving-1-5-trillion-away-to-the-rich
"Noted sociopath and House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn't even gotten the odious tax bill—a massive redistribution of wealth from the bottom-up—in final form and passed. But he's already making good on the Republican promise to use the gaping hole it blows in the nation's deficit to start in with the granny-starving again. "We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit," Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky's talk radio show. "... Frankly, it's the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements -- because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking." Ryan said that he believes he has begun convincing President Donald Trump in their private conversations about the need to rein in Medicare, the federal health program that primarily insures the elderly. As a candidate, Trump vowed not to cut spending on Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. (Ryan also suggested congressional Republicans were unlikely to try changing Social Security, because the rules of the Senate forbid changes to the program through reconciliation—the procedure the Senate can use to pass legislation with only 50 votes.)"

Author Of “Collusion” On Mueller’s Latest Subpoenas

Paul Ryan admits the GOP will gut Medicare and Medicaid to pay for tax cuts

https://thinkprogress.org/paul-ryan-tax-cuts-medicare-medicaid-f87d810ad5b9/
"Republicans in Congress are openly admitting they plan to use their tax reform bill to justify slashing funding for essential social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps. The bill — which is expected to balloon the national deficit by at least $1 trillion, and which only benefits the country’s wealthiest in the long-term — has not yet been reconciled or signed. But Republicans aren’t wasting any time laying out what they see as the next step."

The Mike Flynn Freak Show Continues

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a14379244/michael-flynn-nuclear-reactors-middle-east/
"The guy was in business for himself—with some bad people—before his boss even took the job."

Trey Gowdy not interested in investigating reported deal to 'rip up' sanctions against Russia

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/12/7/1722224/-Trey-Gowdy-not-interested-in-investigating-reported-deal-to-rip-up-sanctions-against-Russia
"The whistleblower recounted how Flynn reached out within minutes of Trump’s inauguration to say how Russian sanctions would be ‘ripped up’ and that a previously blocked scheme to bring Russian nuclear plants to the Middle East was ‘good to go.’ The letter was extraordinary both for the bluntness of Flynn’s statements, and for the timing that set the events literally 11 minutes into his presidency.  Validating the account would seem extremely important. Unless you’re a Republican."

Russian Report Confirms Attack On US Election

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Former Jesse Helms aide blisters Trump’s racism: ‘I can’t look any minority in the eye now and say vote GOP’

Former Jesse Helms aide blisters Trump’s racism: ‘I can’t look any minority in the eye now and say vote GOP’

"A former aide to ultra-conservative ex-Senator Jesse Helms said that he is appalled at what the GOP has turned into under President Donald Trump, and claimed, as a campaign consultant, there is no way he would attempt to convince minority voters to vote Republican."

Why Did Facebook Give the Right-Wing 'Weekly Standard' Fact-Checking Duties? @alternet

Why Did Facebook Give the Right-Wing 'Weekly Standard' Fact-Checking Duties? @alternet:

"A conservative news organization has been approved to partner with Facebook to fact-check false news, drawing criticisms that the social media company is caving to rightwing pressures and collaborating with a publication that has previously spread propaganda."

Trump Jr. invents fake ‘privilege’ to justify stonewalling Congress on key discussion with his dad

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-jr-dodge-questions-a4fdf0cc2b6b/
"During voluntary closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. cited “attorney-client privilege” to avoid answering questions about a critical discussion he had with his father this past summer following explosive New York Times reporting about the Trump campaign’s efforts to collude with Russia."

Donald Trump W.H. Grilled Over Reported Plan For Private Spy Network

'That's Not How It Works': Experts Call Out Don Jr's Bogus Claim of Attorney-Client Privilege

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/12/07/thats-not-how-it-works-experts-call-out-don-jrs-bogus-claim-attorney-client
"When Trump Jr. wasn't illegitimately invoking attorney-client privilege, he appeared to be hampered by what one lawmaker called a "very serious case of amnesia"."

The Stupidity of Donald Jr.'s Attempt to Stonewall Congress Almost Defies Belief @alternet

The Stupidity of Donald Jr.'s Attempt to Stonewall Congress Almost Defies Belief @alternet:

"The president's son hasn't the faintest idea how attorney-client privilege works."

The problem with Mike Pence’s ignorance defense

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-problem-mike-pences-ignorance-defense
"When it comes to the Trump-Russia scandal, Mike Pence is often seen as someone on the periphery. The trouble is, the vice president has repeatedly made public comments about the scandal that were later found to be completely untrue."

You Won't Believe How Much TV Trump Watches...DAILY

Trump Jr invents a ‘privilege’ to avoid Russia scandal questions

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-jr-invents-privilege-avoid-russia-scandal-questions
"Just so we’re all clear, Donald Trump Jr. isn’t an attorney. Donald Trump Sr. isn’t an attorney, either. Neither is a client of the other. And yet, the president’s son, unwilling to answer questions about a key area of interest, decided that since there was a lawyer around during a conversation with his father, he can now refuse to answer the Intelligence Committee’s questions. No, seriously. That’s what he said. First, this is nutty, even for Trump World. The attorney-client privilege exists to shield conversations between … wait for it … attorneys and clients. Trump Jr. appears to be making up a privilege out of whole cloth. Second, the legal creativity surrounding the Russia scandal is increasingly extraordinary. In recent months, we’ve seen prominent figures in the president’s orbit raise bizarre claims about executive privilege, even stranger arguments about a president being unable to obstruct justice, and now non-lawyers are claiming attorney-client privilege. I’m surprised law-school professors everywhere aren’t breaking out in cold sweats."

Donald Trump Jr. Refuses to Disclose His Discussions With His Father About Trump Tower Meeting

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/12/donald-trump-jr-refuses-to-disclose-his-discussions-with-his-father-about-trump-tower-meeting/
"During eight hours of questioning by the House intelligence committee on Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that he and his father had discussed news of his controversial 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer after the New York Times revealed the secret sitdown this summer. But he refused to disclose the contents of their conversations. Trump Jr. “acknowledged having discussed the June 9 meeting and the emails that went into establishing that meeting after those emails became public,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, told reporters after Trump Jr.’s interview with the panel. “He acknowledged discussing that meeting with his father.” The admission by his Trump’s eldest son raises the question of how closely the Trumps coordinated on their response to the bombshell revelations and could bolster the case that President Trump participated in an effort to craft a false public explanation for the Trump Tower meeting. Trump Jr.’s initial statement about the meeting, reportedly dictated by his father on Air Force One during a July 8 flight from Germany, inaccurately claimed that the discussion focused on adoption."

Koch-funded network targets New Hampshire’s renewable energy policies

https://thinkprogress.org/koch-network-goes-after-new-hampshire-5d9da939c2e8/
"With a Republican in the governor’s mansion, multiple organizations backed by petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch are ramping up their efforts to convince New Hampshire policymakers to weaken the state’s renewable energy policies."

Paul Ryan: Now We're Coming For Your Medicare

The GOP Tax Scam: Naming the Culprits

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/12/04/gop-tax-scam-naming-culprits
"It took quite a conspiracy of lies and mendacity to drive tax cuts for the superrich and giant corporations through both houses of Congress. The tax scam is no done deal – House and Senate negotiators must still agree on a single package, and that package must win approval in both houses. Given the narrowness of the margins for approval in both the Senate and House, and the significant differences between the bills each passed, the entire effort may still collapse – especially if the public grasps what’s at stake and mobilizes. But the uncertainty over the ultimate fate of the tax cut is no reason to delay identifying the culprits. Each and every person who had a hand in crafting and passing these proposals for monstrous transfers of wealth to the superrich must be held accountable. Some of the conspirators merit special attention: Gary Cohn. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn engaged in a very public handwringing about whether to remain in the Trump administration in the wake of the Charlottesville outrage, but decided the “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to make history by cutting taxes for the rich was too great to pass by. He continued to insist that corporate tax cuts would unleash new corporate investment – only to be greeted by a roomful of corporate executives who wouldn’t back up his story even by raising their hands in answer to a question about who would undertake new investment. Cohn racked up quite a record of interesting statements: “The wealthy are not getting a tax cut” (September 28). “I’m really not upset” that the wealthy are getting a tax cut (November 9). “The most excited group out there are big CEOs about our tax plan” (November 9). Marco Rubio. Unlike others on this list, Rubio offered a dose of honesty about the tax cut. But his plus points for truthfulness are offset by the immorality of his admission: These gigantic tax cuts are a set-up for immediate demands to slash Social Security and Medicare."

Two Top Republican Tax Writers Reveal Their Prejudice and Their Strategy

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/12/04/two-top-republican-tax-writers-reveal-their-prejudice-and-their-strategy
"It’s awful enough for Grassley to spout such ignorance. But the worse crime was to embed it in tax policy. Turning to Hatch’s statement, I cannot state the following adamantly enough: Because they have used the deficit to pay for a tax cut that blatantly favors the rich over the rest, Republicans have forfeited their ability to tell us what we can and can’t afford. Of course, they will continue to make that argument, as Hatch himself has, along with many of his colleagues. But do not forget this: They could have made their tax plan revenue-neutral. They decided not to, and they further decided, based on their revealed preferences, that the parts that help middle- and low-income families should expire, while those that help the rich should live on forever (see figure above)."

Stop Acting Like Trump Supporters Care About Anything Awful He Says or Does — They Don’t

https://forwardprogressives.com/stop-acting-like-trump-supporters-care-about-anything-awful-he-says-or-does-they-dont/
"Can we please stop acting as if the majority of Trump supporters care about anything else but blindly supporting this national embarrassment and probably the worst human being ever elected ‘president’? He’s belittled POWs, mocked a man with disabilities, used rhetoric that’s inspired Nazis, been praised by the KKK, called a Gold Star widow a liar, bragged about sexually assaulting women, and has now endorsed a credibly accused child molester. If they haven’t turned on him now, they’re never going to. Well, at least not until he does something that directly makes an impact on their lives in an extremely negative way that even they can’t ignore — then some of them will care. And even then, if they can’t deny that he did something that had a negative impact on their lives. I’ve seen firsthand that when faced with the reality that something he supports will screw them over, many Trump supporters will do just about everything they can to avoid blaming him for it. See, that’s how the minds of most Republicans work. They don’t care how awful someone is, or how other people’s lives are negatively impacted by the terribleness of that person, just as long as it doesn’t negatively affect them personally."

Republican Senators Lock Office Doors, Refuse To Talk To Constituents About Tax Bill

Secret Service spent $7,500 on golf carts during Trump's Thanksgiving Mar-a-Lago trip

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/11/29/secret-service-spent-7-500-golf-carts-during-trumps-thanksgiving-mar-a-lago-trip/906074001/
"The Secret Service spent nearly $7,500 on golf cart rentals while President Trump was in at his private golf club Mar-a-Lago for Thanksgiving. According to federal purchase orders flagged by progressive PAC American Bridge and reviewed by USA TODAY, the agency charged with protecting the president spent $7,470 on the rentals for Trump's Florida golf outings. Per pool reports, the president visited the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach four times last week and the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter once.  The Secret Service signed a contract with the Florida cart rental company, Golf Cart & Utility Distributors, back in September. However, the latest Thanksgiving golf trips increased the total contract amount to $69,430. That contract, which lasts through May 2018, is the biggest purchase order the agency has made for golf carts since February, shortly after Trump took office. In total, since Trump was inaugurated, the Secret Service has spent at least $144,975 on golf cart rentals alone. Trump frequently travels to golf courses he owns not just in Florida but in Bedminster, N.J., and Sterling, Va."

Six endangered Republicans could be doomed by the GOP's tax assault on the middle class

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/12/4/1721081/-Six-endangered-Republicans-could-be-doomed-by-the-GOP-s-tax-assault-on-the-middle-class
"In Comstock's 10th Congressional District, for instance, a solid majority of voters oppose the House GOP tax plan by a 58-40 percent margin. A sense of urgency also heavily favors those in opposition to the bill, with 47 percent of voters saying they "strongly oppose" it while only 21 percent "strongly support" it. That's probably because Comstock's voters have been paying a lot of attention to the bill and the more attention they pay to it, the less they like what they see."

Grassley blasts working class for spending on booze, women, and movies

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/grassley-blasts-working-class-spending-booze-women-and-movies
"When Republicans talk up their tax plans, they usually make an effort to mention the middle class. The evidence shows that the current GOP proposals, when fully implemented, would actually raise taxes on millions of middle-class households, but at least in their public talking points, Republican officials try to avoid sounding plutocratic."

Republicans Secretly Love Welfare, But Only When It Is For The Rich

McConnell: It was 'impossible' to make sure the middle class didn't get a tax increase in bill

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/12/4/1720985/-McConnell-It-was-impossible-to-make-sure-the-middle-class-didn-t-get-a-tax-increase-in-bill
"A little less than a month ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that "nobody in the middle class is going to get a tax increase." Within days, he had to walk that back a bit, to "You can’t guarantee that absolutely no one sees a tax increase." After passage of his tax bill, his singular legislative achievement as leader, he's now explaining away the fact that it doesn't do much for the middle class because it's "impossible" to write a bill that helps everyone, and that won't hurt someone."

Iowa senator defends tax plan by implying non-wealthy spend their money on “booze and women”

https://www.salon.com/2017/12/04/chuck-grassleys-declaration-of-class-warfare/
"Over the weekend, Republicans passed their $1.5 trillion tax cut, which primarily benefited wealthy Americans and slashed deductions for low- and middle-income citizens. As soon as it was passed, the GOP had to find a way to sell the bill to a public that has overwhelmingly rejected it. The answer has been class warfare."

Paul Manafort Just Tried to Secretly Collaborate With a Colleague Linked to Russian Intelligence, Feds Say

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/12/paul-manafort-just-tried-to-secretly-collaborate-with-a-colleague-linked-to-russian-intelligence-feds-say/
"Following his October 30 indictment on federal charges, Paul Manafort worsened his legal woes by secretly drafting an editorial defending his work on behalf of a former Ukrainian president—cowriting the piece with a “long-time Russian colleague” who is “assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service”— according to a motion filed Monday by federal prosecutors. The alleged stunning move by Manafort has torpedoed the $11-million bail package that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team tentatively agreed upon with Manafort’s lawyers last week."