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Politics / The Republican Threat To Children
« on: Today at 12:26:33 PM »
Unlike Trump, most Senate Republicans have made it clear that the child molester Roy Moore is not welcome in Washington. That political courage deserves appreciation. Unfortunately, there is a group of children they and House Republicans are putting in jeopardy. I posted about this in the September Crisis thread. Nothing has changed. The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is critical to the medical care of millions of children, many of whom have significant health costs. When the legislation expired, it appeared that most states could make it to the first of the year before they ran out of money. Given the Congressional calendar, that time is at hand. Clearly, Republicans are far more concerned about the tax cut for their donors than the health of children, but reauthorizing CHIP is a no-brainer that would quickly and easily pass if only the leadership would introduce the legislation.

Since its inception in 1997, CHIP has had strong bipartisan support and been a measurable success, covering nearly 9 million children nationwide. It helped lower the nation’s percentage of uninsured children from almost 14 percent when it started to about 4.5 percent in 2015. But this year, amid efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congress allowed the deadline to reauthorize the program to come and go. Almost two whole months have passed since and there is growing concern that no action will come until the end of the year.

Families and state agencies have been forced to scramble amidst the uncertainty. Arizona, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and North Carolina are expected to run out of CHIP funding next month according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC). Another 27 states are anticipated to have their funds exhausted by March 2018

Congress Created a Health-Care Crisis for Kids Right in Time for the Holidays

Politics / Re: Half of Trump Tax Cuts Go To Top 1/2 of 1%
« on: Today at 11:52:34 AM »
Republicans continue to tell the lie that tax cuts will grow the economy and pay for themselves. That has been disproved repeatedly since the 1980's beginning with its first iteration in the Reagan administration. Then came Bush...ditto. Then came Brownback...and Kansas is still mired in budgetary failure that has stunted the education of children in public schools among other horrors. That they continue to make this absurd claim demonstrates their contempt for the intelligence and knowledge of the American people.

37 of 38 economists said the GOP tax plans would grow the debt. The 38th misread the question.

Politics / Re: Middle East Wars
« on: November 21, 2017, 09:02:26 PM »
Trump was preparing a new initiative for Middle East peace according to recent reports, but the ineptitude of the administration just got in the way. These bozos have depleted the State Department of irreplaceable human assets and proposed to cut the budget by one third. Now, they are tripping over their own stupidity to no one's surprise who follows foreign policy issues.

Trump's embrace of Netanyahu and vice versa has undermined confidence the Palestinians have that the US can be counted on for fair treatment. Hence, they are prepared to take their case to the International Criminal Court.

The Jerusalem Post reports: "Palestinians have frozen ties with the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and American officials visiting the West Bank ... If Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's senior adviser, or Jason Greenblatt, the administration's main peace envoy came to the West Bank, PA officials would not be able to meet with them."
Why it matters: A senior adviser to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said they're freezing communications because the State Department won't renew the certification of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's representative office in Washington, D.C. If the office is forced to close, it would almost certainly derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations being brokered by the Trump administration.

The details:

The PLO office is the de facto Palestinian embassy to the U.S. and was an important symbol for Palestinian diplomatic achievements.
The Palestinians say closing the office would be the equivalent to cutting diplomatic ties between the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority, and would be a proof the Trump administration can't be an honest broker in future peace talks.

Between the lines: There's been speculation that the Trump administration's refusal to certify the Palestinian office was a tactic to gain leverage over the Palestinians in the peace talks. That's false. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had to sign a letter of decertification regarding the PLO office because the law obliged him to notify Congress if the Palestinians are encouraging the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israel for alleged war crimes (which Palestinian President Abbas did in his UN speech in September).

Until now, the Palestinian actions and rhetoric regarding their relations with the U.S. had been mostly symbolic.

What we're hearing: Both sides are still talking to each other, and the office is still open — for now. Relations are not suspended yet. State Department officials tell us they're still in contact with Palestinian officials about the status of the PLO office, as well as about the administration's larger efforts to advance a lasting and comprehensive peace.

The bottom line: The Trump administration is sorting through its political and legal options to navigate this tense — and potentially disastrous — situation.

A new obstacle to Mideast peace talks

There was a time when Dems defended Bill Clinton and Republicans condemned him because of his sexual misconduct. Such is no longer the case according to a new Quinnipiac poll. It indicates that Democrats, along with most of America have evolved; Republicans now accept it.


The big new finding from a Quinnipiac University poll is this: About half of Republicans say GOP senators should let Roy Moore serve in the Senate. By a margin of 49 percent to 33 percent, Republicans say the Alabamian, who is accused of sexual misconduct with multiple teenagers, should not be expelled if he wins next month's special election, as some Senate Republicans have threatened to do.

American voters say 60 - 28 percent that if Roy Moore is elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama, the U.S. Senate should vote to expel him. Republicans say 49 - 33 percent that Moore should not be expelled. Every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group says expel him.

But that's hardly the only finding in the poll that suggests the GOP has taken a softer view toward sexual harassment.

If multiple women have accused a political candidate of sexual harassment, 62 percent of American voters say they definitely would not vote for that candidate, while 27 percent say they would consider voting for the candidate. Republicans are divided as 43 percent say they would consider voting for the candidate and 41 percent say they definitely would not vote for the candidate.

The poll also shows sexual harassment isn't a dealbreaker for Republicans when it comes to President Trump. And it's not even that they just doubt the accusations against Trump (which has been the case ever since nearly a dozen women came forward at the end of the last election). The poll shows Republicans also oppose trying to remove Trump from office even if it was proved that he sexually harassed the women who have accused him. By a margin of 63 percent to 28 percent, Republicans say Trump should not be impeached even if we know for a fact that he sexually harassed women.

...Mostly, then, the poll is useful as a barometer of where the two party's stand on the interplay between sexual harassment allegations and politics. And on that question, Republicans clearly don't seem to have as much of a litmus test.

A new poll makes it crystal clear: Sexual harassment is not a dealbreaker in today’s Republican Party

Politics / Re: Roy Moore Accused of Child Molestation
« on: November 21, 2017, 06:58:46 PM »
Trump is too big a coward to say it outright, but leaves no doubt that Roy Moore is his guy.

Though the president has thus far remained mum on the boiling controversy, he told reporters outside the White House, “We don’t need a liberal Democrat in there,” referring to Moore’s opponent Doug Jones. He added: “I’ve looked at his record, it’s terrible on crime, it’s terrible on the border, it’s terrible on the military.” [Jones has NEVER served in Congress and has no such record.] Furthermore, the president said [speaking of Moore], “He denies it. He totally denies it. That’s all I can say.” Asked if he believes Moore’s accusers, Trump said: “Forty years is a long time. He’s run eight races and this has never came up.”
Trump Implies Backing Roy Moore: ‘We Don’t Need a Liberal Democrat in That Seat’

In Trumpworld all you have to do to beat the rap is follow Trump's example and lie, lie, lie.

Politics / Trump and His Thieves Gut Net Neutrality
« on: November 21, 2017, 06:46:21 PM »
Equal access to the internet has been an important part of its growth. Now that it is well-established the providers want higher profits by controlling access and speed. The Obama administration rejected those efforts. Naturally, Trump caved to the fat cats.

When Comcast and other providers have the new rules in place, expect to pay for faster speeds or face a long wait times per site. Maybe there will be a surcharge for Netlix or Amazon. Will they monitor your video time and charge for that? The sky is the limit now that these sharks have bought the Republicans.

Net neutrality is dead? Not if consumers punish the thieves. Bring back net neutrality should be our mantra for 2018.

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that it planned to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for companies to charge more and block access to some websites.

The proposal, put forward by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibited high-speed internet service providers from blocking or slowing down the delivery of websites, or charging extra fees for the best quality of streaming and other internet services for their subscribers. Those limits are central to the concept called net neutrality.

...The clear winners from the move would be the giant companies that provide internet access to phones and computers, which have fought for years against broadband regulations. A repeal of the rules would allow the companies to exert more control over the online experiences of American consumers.

Big online companies like Amazon say that the telecom companies would be able to show favoritism to certain web services, by charging for accessing some sites but not others, or by slowing the connection speed to some sites. Small online companies say the proposal would hurt innovation. Only the largest companies, they say, would be able to afford the expense of making sure their sites received preferred treatment.

And consumers, the online companies say, may see their costs go up to get quality access to popular websites like Netflix.

F.C.C. Plans Net Neutrality Repeal in Victory for Telecoms

Politics / Defamation Suit Continues from Trump's Assault on Women
« on: November 21, 2017, 01:56:23 PM »
When Trump called his accusers liars for outing his sexual molestation, he was sued by Summer Zervos for defamation. The suit continues.

Politics / Re: Roy Moore Accused of Child Molestation
« on: November 21, 2017, 01:36:25 PM »
Kellyanne Conway endorses Moore. Trump embraces a child molester to ensure tax cuts for the rich, especially himself and his family.

During an uncharacteristically tough interview on Fox & Friends, Kellyanne Conway made her case for Alabama Republican U.S. Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore over his Democratic opponent Doug Jones. Pivoting from a discussion about the GOP tax bill, Conway said that Jones “will be a vote against tax cuts,” adding, “He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners. And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal, which is why he’s not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.” When co-host Brian Kilmeade asked if that meant she is telling people to vote for Moore, Conway paused before saying, “I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

Kellyanne Conway Urges Alabamians to Vote for Roy Moore

Politics / Re: Half of Trump Tax Cuts Go To Top 1/2 of 1%
« on: November 21, 2017, 12:21:59 PM »
Taking a look at who gets a tax cut and who gets a tax increase in 2027 when the permanent and temporary features of the Republican plan are implemented, the real winners and losers emerge. The middle class pays the higher taxes and the very rich get the cash. Doesn't everybody prefer to maximize inequality so the very rich can buy a bigger yacht? If we don't have the billionaires, who will we have to admire? Isn't the purpose of living to have more money than God? (See More Money than God by Sebastian Mallaby If it isn't, maybe it's time to tax these bums to the hilt and start funding education, scientific research, medical care, and programs that improve the quality of life for everyone else.

Politics / Re: Middle East Wars
« on: November 21, 2017, 10:45:54 AM »
Putin says the military conflict in Syria is coming to an end and the next step is the consolidation of Bashar al Assad's political least that is what he meant.

Military Operations in Syria Coming to End, Says Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that joint military operations by Russian and Syrian government forces to fight terrorism in the Middle Eastern country (Guardian) are "wrapping up" and that a political solution will be the next step.

Putin made the comments on Monday while hosting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Sochi (RFE/RL) ahead of a gathering with Turkish and Iranian leaders set for Wednesday. Assad's last visit to Russia was in 2015, when it began its military intervention (BBC) to back the Assad regime in Syria's civil war. The trip is believed to be only the second time Assad has left his country (Al Jazeera) since the war broke out in 2011.


"The Russians are attempting to transform their role from that of an aggressor, threatening the opposition's existence, to the main party capable of ensuring calm," Asaad Hanna writes for Chatham House.

"Assad's ally Russia now dominates the negotiating process, meaning there is little pressure on him to accept real elections—or any election before his term ends in 2021. A political solution under his terms would be to incorporate opposition members into a national unity government under his leadership," Zeina Karam writes for the Associated Press.
CFR's Daily News Brief

Putin has won, but what, exactly, remains to be seen. The US will not be funding the reconstruction of Syria and Putin can't afford it. The Syrians, even Assad supporters, are likely to wonder if the destruction of the country was worth it to keep the dictator in power. But that is a long term consequence. In the short term, it's victory toasts all around.

Politics / Al Franken: The Nexus of Comedy and the Sexual Abuse of Women
« on: November 21, 2017, 10:19:22 AM »
In the suddenly open-eyed look at the sexual abuse of women, comedy, as it used to be, was a big part of it in the early days of Saturday Night Live. Soooo...were these guys laughing alone...or was/is there an audience for this stuff?

Franken is, after all, not only a politician, but a creator of “Saturday Night Live.” He was one of the show’s first writers in 1975, and was a producer from 1985 until 1995. While there, he reportedly once pitched a skit about “60 Minutes” correspondent Andy Rooney drugging and raping Lesley Stahl. Perhaps it’s not surprising that someone who thought that rape could be appropriate material for a network TV joke also thought it would be funny to sexually assault a colleague on a USO tour, eyebrows raised, smile wide. More to the point, though, that sort of base humor is in the very DNA of SNL, where frat-boy bluster and aggressive male sexuality have been enshrined for more than four decades.

On the sixth floor of 30 Rock, women have long been portrayed as sexual conquests, victims or aggressors, live on Saturday nights. During the 1990s in particular, SNL excelled at celebrating male libido and a get-away-with-anything approach to sex, while reducing women to their sexual function. The show consistently cheered male sexuality and reinforced its boundlessness (consent be damned), while shaming women who reached for power or were unlucky enough to be publicly associated with sex. The SNL writers’ room is famously collaborative, so it’s hard to know how many such bits Franken specifically wrote. But as a writer on 285 episodes from 1976 to 2008, he undoubtedly influenced the zeitgeist of the show during that era.

In the 1991 sketch “Clarence Thomas’s Pickup Technique,” a spoof of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings that centered on allegations of sexual harassment, the Senate Judiciary Committee reduces the whole issue to gags about sex. Joe Biden thanks Anita Hill for talking about “penis size” and “big-breasted women having sex with animals” — to raucous laughs. The joke targets Biden and the committee, too, but what’s supposed to be funny is what they’re laughing at, as well: body parts and raunch.

In a “Weekend Update” segment that same year, Chris Rock savages Hill for rejecting Thomas’s advances. Thomas “could have picked a much better-looking woman to blow his career on,” Rock explains. “He never touched her, and he’s going to lose the Supreme Court and didn’t even get to sleep with her, and that’s the real tragedy.” Again, the laughs: Thomas’s sexual inadequacy is what’s supposed to be funny. SNL imagines that sexual harassment is hilarious and that unattractive women deserve it.

Powerful women were also reduced to their sexual function for laughs. One 1996 skit about O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark portrays her as an erotomaniac or “fatal attraction type” — a derogation hurled at women during the 1990s, including at Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky, to discredit them and weaponize their sexuality. Clark, played by Nancy Walls, is less interested in the case’s outcome than forcing fellow prosecutor Christopher Darden to sleep with her, or “take the black bronco down the 405,” as the show put it. “The only thing I’m guilty of is being extremely horny,” Walls says. “Please remove your pants.”
Al Franken’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ era was full of jokes disparaging women

Politics / Judge Permanently Blocks Trump Sanctuary Cities Order
« on: November 21, 2017, 09:58:07 AM »
Trump had issued and executive order to strip federal funds from cities that claimed to be "sanctuary" cities, that is, they limited cooperation with federal immigration authorities in housing people accused of illegal residence.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration's argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

Politics / Re: Half of Trump Tax Cuts Go To Top 1/2 of 1%
« on: November 21, 2017, 09:37:33 AM »
One important feature of the House and Senate tax proposals is the repeal of the Estate Tax. Called the "death" tax by Republicans, they claim, and have claimed for years, that it is a tax on family farms. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is, in fact, a tax on fortunes that have largely avoided taxation. In many cases it is a levy on unrealized capital gains from stock purchases far in the past. Furthermore, it is paid only by the very, very rich. That it should be eliminated in an age of unprecedented economic inequality is proof that the rich have bought and paid for the Republican party. Why poor suckers in Henry County or any other Southern backwater should vote for these liars and shills makes no economic sense. As Gary Cohn says, "Only morons pay the estate tax." So, if it is so easy to evade, why are Republicans so anxious to repeal it?

So who actually does pay estate tax?

1. The top 0.2 percent. Some 11,300 American estates — about 0.2 percent — are estimated to be subject to the estate tax this year. The top tenth of income earners pay nearly 90 percent of estate taxes collected, and about one fourth of that total is paid by the richest 0.1 percent. The tax itself has been whittled down significantly. Until 2001, it applied to inheritances starting at $650,000 for an individual. Today, an inheritance must be larger than $5.49 million for an individual or $10.98 million for a couple for their heirs to be liable for any estate tax at all. Opponents of the tax say it taxes earnings twice. But more than half of the biggest estates consist of unrealized capital gains — like stocks that have appreciated without being sold — that have never been previously taxed.

2. A few dozen farmers, and even fewer minority business owners. About 80 family farmers or small-business people would be subject to the estate tax this year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center — a far cry from the “millions” Mr. Trump wrongly claims. The biggest winners in an estate tax repeal wouldn’t be struggling ranchers, minority contractors or mom-and-pop grocers. They’d be people like Mr. Trump’s kids, unless they’re …

3. Morons. “Only morons pay the estate tax,” Gary Cohn, Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, told Senate Democrats, meaning, it was later explained, “rich people with really bad tax planning.” Many of the very wealthy use loopholes, like trusts, to avoid paying inheritance tax. We don’t know where Mr. Trump’s kids would stand because Mr. Trump has never fulfilled his promise to publicly release his tax information.

An estate tax repeal would provide a tax windfall of more than $3 million apiece for the top 0.2 percent of earners, and more than $20 million for the wealthiest Americans. It would cost $239 billion in revenue over a decade. It offers nothing for middle-class people, except more evidence of Mr. Trump’s and Republicans’ bad faith.
‘Only Morons Pay the Estate Tax’

Movies and Television / Re: Longmire
« on: November 20, 2017, 09:29:19 AM »
For me it was Longmire, lol. Now on to Punisher.

I won't give anything away except to say, there was no reason for this series to end.

Sports / Re: NBA 2017-2018
« on: November 20, 2017, 09:24:18 AM »
The Boston Celtics continue to soar with a record of 15-2. They defeated GS on a late game score after trailing by 17 on Thursday.  Detroit continues to surprise by holding the second best record in the East. Cleveland has improved to 9-7 with LeBron's heroics and long minutes, but it is not enough. When will help arrive?

Houston and Golden State sit atop the West at 13-4. OKC still can't get it together. San Antonio is winning again at 10-6, but can't catch Houston. James Harden (Houston) was a near miss for league MVP in 2017; 2018 could be his year. Lots of young talent has surfaced this season. Lonzo Ball of the Lakers had his second triple double last night, tying LeBron for youngest to do so in NBA history.

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