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vermont legalizes marijuana today, and makes history along the way

let's hear it for the green mountain state.

vermont made history today as gov. phil scott (r) signed a marijuana legalization bill into law. with his signature, vermont becomes the first state to have freed the weed via the legislative process, as opposed to through a voter initiative.

the new law, house bill 511, legalizes the possession of up to two ounces of pot and the cultivation of up to six plants (four immature and two mature) as of july 1, but does not legalize the taxed and regulated commercial production and sale of marijuana.

whether and when the state might open up legal marijuana commerce is up in the air for now. the bill calls for a task force appointed by the governor to study the issue and recommend "legislation on implementing and operating a comprehensive regulatory and revenue system for an adult marijuana market" by december 31. then lawmakers would have to go to work again to get that passed.

all eight states that have already legalized marijuana have created taxed and regulated legal markets, although vermont's new england neighbors maine and massachusetts have yet to implement theirs. like vermont, however, the district of columbia legalized weed without legalizing sales.

new hampshire could be the next new england state to go green, and like vermont and d.c., it could be without allowing legal, taxed, and regulated sales. last week, the house voted to approve house bill 656, which would legalize the possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of pot and allow individuals to grow up to three plants. the vote came after the house amended the bill to remove provisions allowing for legal, taxed sales. that measure now goes to the state senate.

new jersey is another candidate to be the next state to legalize it at the state house. new gov. phil murphy (d) campaigned on a pledge to pass legalization in his first 100 days, and legalization proponents have already filed the measures that would do that, senate bill 380 and its house counterpart assembly bill 1348.

those bills would allow for a system of legal sales, but would not allow for personal cultivation. of the nine states that have now legalized weed, only washington state has gone down that path, and washington lawmakers there are now reconsidering the ban on home grows.

legalization bills are likely to pop up in a couple of dozen state legislatures this year, but that doesn't mean they'll pass. there are probably only a handful of states where there's even an outside chance of state house legalization this year. other than new hampshire and new jersey, they include connecticut, delaware, illinois, and new york.

but vermont was the first. let's hear it for the green mountain state. 

 

 

related stories






charles blow: the government shutdown is all trump's fault

so much for the president being a one-of-a-kind dealmaker.

donald trump is a terrible dealmaker. despite co-authoring a bestseller called the art of the deal and campaigning on his negotiating acumen, he's managed to singlehandedly shut down the federal government, argues charles blow in his monday column.

it didn't have to come to this. of the dreamers, the 800,000 americans who came to this country as children, blow writes that: "there is absolutely no reason that a deal couldn’t have been reached on the dreamers, something that the vast majority of americans want. but republicans used the threat of withholding the fix as a bargaining chip, and democrats held to the fix as imperative."

by refusing to fall for republicans' dirty tricks, the democrats have allowed trump to dig his own grave. during the pre-shutdown negotiations, blow continues, "trump proved himself both woefully inept at making tough deals and also demonstrated that his yearlong strategy of trying to govern to the exclusion of democrats and playing to a narrow base is fatally flawed."

voters may be enchanted with the idea of having a businessman as president, but they forget that "the skills and interests aren’t always transferable. operating with a profit interest is often at odds with operating in the public interest." 

each of trump's so-called successes has had only one narrow constituency in mind, and it's not steel plant workers in the midwest. in fact, his deals "have largely been beneficial to big business, moving us ever closer to true plutocracy." he signed a reverse-robin hood tax bill, and continually brags about how many regulations he's repealed. as bloomberg reports, even that is a lie.

then there's the fact that trump himself is an "unrepentant, unremitting liar." blow continues, "that makes deal-making impossible. his word is meaningless and his policy principles are murky. he is mercurial and inconsistent. this may well have worked in business, to keep people off kilter, but it won’t work in politics."

that doesn't mean that public opinion won't come out on trump's side. adds blow:

"on this government shutdown, morally, democrats hold the higher ground. but politics is seen through different lenses depending on where you sit...trump’s team is now casting the shutdown as democratic obstruction, which for some will resonate. it will be harder for democrats to make their moral case the longer the shutdown stays in effect."

even worse, "trump and his anti-immigrant, cultural-anxiety agitators are already pitching the shutdown as a choice democrats made to put the brown children of illegal immigrants over the interests of beleaguered soldiers."

blow leaves us this week with a harsh truth: "trump isn’t a great deal maker, but he is an extraordinary norms-breaker. when this is all settled, however that is done, trump will find a way to make himself look like a winner, even if he has to lie."

read the entire column.

 

related stories






is ivanka trump searching for john kelly's replacement?

the white house chief of staff may be on borrowed time.

john kelly’s time as president donald trump’s chief of staff may be coming to an end.

on monday, author gabriel sherman reported that ivanka trump had been put in charge of finding a replacement for kelly. 

“ivanka is the most worried about it. she’s trying to figure who replaces kelly,” someone who has spoken with the president’s daughter told sherman. 

according to sherman, kelly’s days as trump’s chief of staff “may finally have gone past the point of no return.” 

“he wants to stay longer than reince [priebus],” an outside adviser explained to sherman. 

kelly recently came under fire by the president’s defenders after he told lawmakers that trump had “evolved” on the issue of a border wall. 

“the more kelly plays up that he’s being the adult in the room—that it’s basically combat duty and he’s serving the country—that kind of thing drives trump nuts,” one republican close to the white house explained. 

trump recently suggested to a friend that kelly had overstayed his welcome. 

“i’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things,” trump reportedly said.

 

related stories






i gave myself an abortion, and i almost bled to death

a vital story on the anniversary of roe v. wade.

a new video series published on billmoyers.com titled “no choice” highlights the abortion stories of eight women through their emotional testimonies. the videos highlight the history of abortion rights in the united states, the impact of this struggle on the lives of women, especially those holding marginalized identities, and contextualize these stories in light of our volatile political climate, which threatens reproductive rights and roe v. wade.

81 year old author marge piercy fell in love during her freshman year of college. it was 1953 and contraception was illegal in most states, especially for unmarried women. when she became pregnant, she had no choice but to take matters into her own hands—and it almost killed her. 

watch the video below.

no choice: marge piercy from billmoyers.com on vimeo.

 

related stories






social media may be messing with your perception of time

does your daily twitter binge feel like minutes or hours?

have you ever spiraled so deep into a facebook debate or instagram feed that you suddenly find yourself, an hour later, wondering where the time has gone? it’s an unsettling feeling that can leave social media users existentially questioning how they make use of their leisure time. if it’s happened to you, you’re not alone. a new study shows that people addicted to social media may have a distorted sense of time.

psychologists have just begun to explore the ways in which our addiction to technology negatively impacts our society and our health, hurts our social skills and weakens our democracy, not to mention its impact on our eyesight and attention spans. but a distorted sense of time, as presented in the journal of psychiatric research, is a new one.

researchers tested nearly 300 university students, who were given a half hour to complete a survey. during that time, they were prevented from using social media. the individuals who reported spending more time using social media per day said the survey and their short-term separation from facebook felt longer. those who use social media less said the survey and social media hiatus felt short. creepy, no?

as study author ofir turel of the university of southern california and california state university at fullerton says, distorted time is a common feature of addiction in general. “distortion of time perception is a hallmark feature of many addictive and problematic behaviors. for example, ‘addicted’ video gamers perceive their sessions to be shorter than they actually are; heavy smokers think that the between-cigarettes time interval is longer than it actually is; and obese people perceive that the between-meals time intervals are longer than they actually are.”

the study could help therapists working with patients who suffer from such addictions.

“the takeaway for therapists is that time distortion tests may be added to the battery of techniques they use for trying to diagnose individuals as needing therapy, and perhaps even as part of the solution.”

the study doesn’t specify how many hours per day on social media could lead to an addiction, but these results could leave you questioning your own online habits.

 

related stories






vermont legalizes marijuana today, and makes history along the way

let's hear it for the green mountain state.

vermont made history today as gov. phil scott (r) signed a marijuana legalization bill into law. with his signature, vermont becomes the first state to have freed the weed via the legislative process, as opposed to through a voter initiative.

the new law, house bill 511, legalizes the possession of up to two ounces of pot and the cultivation of up to six plants (four immature and two mature) as of july 1, but does not legalize the taxed and regulated commercial production and sale of marijuana.

whether and when the state might open up legal marijuana commerce is up in the air for now. the bill calls for a task force appointed by the governor to study the issue and recommend "legislation on implementing and operating a comprehensive regulatory and revenue system for an adult marijuana market" by december 31. then lawmakers would have to go to work again to get that passed.

all eight states that have already legalized marijuana have created taxed and regulated legal markets, although vermont's new england neighbors maine and massachusetts have yet to implement theirs. like vermont, however, the district of columbia legalized weed without legalizing sales.

new hampshire could be the next new england state to go green, and like vermont and d.c., it could be without allowing legal, taxed, and regulated sales. last week, the house voted to approve house bill 656, which would legalize the possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of pot and allow individuals to grow up to three plants. the vote came after the house amended the bill to remove provisions allowing for legal, taxed sales. that measure now goes to the state senate.

new jersey is another candidate to be the next state to legalize it at the state house. new gov. phil murphy (d) campaigned on a pledge to pass legalization in his first 100 days, and legalization proponents have already filed the measures that would do that, senate bill 380 and its house counterpart assembly bill 1348.

those bills would allow for a system of legal sales, but would not allow for personal cultivation. of the nine states that have now legalized weed, only washington state has gone down that path, and washington lawmakers there are now reconsidering the ban on home grows.

legalization bills are likely to pop up in a couple of dozen state legislatures this year, but that doesn't mean they'll pass. there are probably only a handful of states where there's even an outside chance of state house legalization this year. other than new hampshire and new jersey, they include connecticut, delaware, illinois, and new york.

but vermont was the first. let's hear it for the green mountain state. 

 

 

related stories






charles blow: the government shutdown is all trump's fault

so much for the president being a one-of-a-kind dealmaker.

donald trump is a terrible dealmaker. despite co-authoring a bestseller called the art of the deal and campaigning on his negotiating acumen, he's managed to singlehandedly shut down the federal government, argues charles blow in his monday column.

it didn't have to come to this. of the dreamers, the 800,000 americans who came to this country as children, blow writes that: "there is absolutely no reason that a deal couldn’t have been reached on the dreamers, something that the vast majority of americans want. but republicans used the threat of withholding the fix as a bargaining chip, and democrats held to the fix as imperative."

by refusing to fall for republicans' dirty tricks, the democrats have allowed trump to dig his own grave. during the pre-shutdown negotiations, blow continues, "trump proved himself both woefully inept at making tough deals and also demonstrated that his yearlong strategy of trying to govern to the exclusion of democrats and playing to a narrow base is fatally flawed."

voters may be enchanted with the idea of having a businessman as president, but they forget that "the skills and interests aren’t always transferable. operating with a profit interest is often at odds with operating in the public interest." 

each of trump's so-called successes have had only one narrow constituency in mind, and it's not steel plant workers in the midwest. in fact, his deals "have largely been beneficial to big business, moving us ever closer to true plutocracy." he signed a reverse-robin hood tax bill, and continually brags about how many regulations he's repealed. as bloomberg reports, even that is a lie.

then there's the fact that trump himself is an "unrepentant, unremitting liar." blow continues, "that makes deal-making impossible. his word is meaningless and his policy principles are murky. he is mercurial and inconsistent. this may well have worked in business, to keep people off kilter, but it won’t work in politics."

that doesn't mean that public opinion won't come out on trump's side. adds blow:

"on this government shutdown, morally, democrats hold the higher ground. but politics is seen through different lenses depending on where you sit...trump’s team is now casting the shutdown as democratic obstruction, which for some will resonate. it will be harder for democrats to make their moral case the longer the shutdown stays in effect."

even worse, "trump and his anti-immigrant, cultural-anxiety agitators are already pitching the shutdown as a choice democrats made to put the brown children of illegal immigrants over the interests of beleaguered soldiers."

blow leaves us this week with a harsh truth: "trump isn’t a great deal maker, but he is an extraordinary norms-breaker. when this is all settled, however that is done, trump will find a way to make himself look like a winner, even if he has to lie."

read the entire column.

 

related stories






the rich earned enough in 2017 alone to end world poverty

as much as 82 percent of the wealth created across the globe went to the 1 percent.

last year, the world's billionaires made over $462 billion combined, enough money to end extreme poverty around the globe seven times over. with a new billionaire added to the list nearly every two days, wealth inequality widened, according to a new report from oxfam. forty-two of the richest people in the world now hold as much…

 

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why the alt-right could be more dangerous than ever before

the movement has fractured, and its members are growing increasingly violent.

alt-right is fractured, may be more dangerous than ever

on the morning of october 28, white nationalists and neo-nazis assembled in shelbyville, tennessee for the first part of a “white lives matter” rally. the 200 white men and about a dozen white women arrived dressed in black, and shouted across a row of police at the group of antifascist protesters, nearly double in size, who…

 

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pennsylvania follows north carolina in striking down gop's go-to election racket

the ruling could hold major implications for the mid-term elections.

on monday, pennsylvania’s state supreme court dealt republican gerrymandering a crippling blow when it struck down the gop’s congressional map for illegally discriminating against democratic voters. the court has ordered the gop-controlled legislature to draw a new map by feb. 15, in time for the 2018 elections, but democratic gov. tom wolf will certainly veto any new gerrymander if republicans attempt to pass one. if that were to happen, the court itself would draw new nonpartisan districts, which could lead to major democratic gains this fall—anywhere from one to as many as six seats. and even better, the u.s. supreme court will likely have little leeway to overrule this decision.

as shown on the first map at the top of this post (see here for a larger version), republicans passed an extreme gerrymander following the 2010 census that enabled them to obtain a 13-to-5 majority in the state’s congressional delegation, even though pennsylvania is an evenly divided swing state. that lopsided distribution of seats held up in 2012 even as obama won the keystone state—and democratic house candidates won more votes than republicans statewide—and again in 2016, when donald trump barely carried it. as we have previously detailed, the second map shown above illustrates what a hypothetical nonpartisan map might look like, which would not only make for a more equitable partisan balance but also increase black representation.

in an important backdrop to this decision, democrats won a pivotal majority on the state supreme court in the 2015 elections, giving the plaintiffs a fair shot at invalidating the gop’s map. and crucially, this legal challenge relied solely on the state constitution’s guarantees of free speech and equal protection rights. thus, as long as any new maps comply with federal law, the u.s. supreme court would have very little ability to override the state court’s interpretation of pennsylvania’s own constitution. democrats therefore aren’t likely to face the same kind of disappointment they recently did in north carolina. nevertheless, republicans may still try to wage a long-shot appeal.

at the same time, because it’s based on state law, this ruling doesn’t set a legal precedent for other states. however, the standard the judges have established could influence federal courts that are hearing challenges to other partisan gerrymanders; plaintiffs in major cases in maryland, north carolina, and wisconsin are all attempting to invalidate similar gerrymanders in their states under the u.s. constitution. this ruling could also encourage reformers to challenge maps elsewhere under their own state constitutions.

ultimately, this ruling is a monumental victory against one of the worst republican gerrymanders in the country, and it’s a massive game-changer for democratic chances of gaining a house majority in november.

 

pennsylvania_comparison_2018.png

a comparison of pennsylvania's republican congressional gerrymander with a hypothetical nonpartisan map

 

 

related stories






getting past bernie vs. hillary: signs of real hope for democrats

if democrats can put their 2016 hangover behind them, there’s a massive opportunity just ahead.

i have encountered an unexpected and perhaps unwarranted sensation lately, with respect to the democratic party. i think there are signs of hope. that hope comes with a countless array of qualifications and asterisks: the political landscape is still treacherous, full of pitfalls both obvious and hidden. (i mean, look at the state of the other party, the one that actually won the last election.) no one should underestimate the democratic capacity for self-sabotage, which is deeply rooted in the party’s recent history as a chaotic coalition of competing interests with no clear ideology or core principles.

too many liberals still appear to believe or hope that the current administration (and everything that led up to it) can somehow be erased from history by an almost literal deus ex machina. robert mueller or the slumbering conscience of the republican party (ha ha, i know!) or the blue tsunami on the horizon or some other jovian intervention will make the entire trump phenomenon un-happen. newsweek actually ran an article last week floating a spurious alternate-universe hypothesis under which hillary clinton could still become president, which ranks at least an 11 on the 10-point “hamilton elector” scale of anguished liberal self-trolling. (here’s how it goes: trump resigns or is impeached over russia; same with mike pence. then president paul ryan names clinton as his veep — and omg resigns himself!)

i’m still not convinced that the “blue wave” this coming november will be the resounding sweep many in the liberal quadrant are now hoping for, or that its consequences will include the impeachment of donald trump or the salvation of humanity. (i agree with the consensus that democrats are now likely to win a house majority, and that i was overly pessimistic about that question.) it is also entirely possible that congressional democrats have allowed trump to outmaneuver them in the current daca/shutdown battle, creating a situation where the correct moral and ethical choice is not the best political strategy. such optimism as i see requires looking past short-term political damage and past the question of exactly how many seats the party will hold in washington this time next year.

so where’s the hope? it pretty much boils down to this: the historic unpopularity and massively divisive character of the trump presidency gives the democrats some breathing room to get their s***house in order. while it remains true that being the anti-trump party is not enough — and is not really an identity at all — it appears to be almost enough, at least for now. this is an enormous opportunity not just to win a congressional majority and elect a different president (those are actually the easy parts) but to begin rebuilding a left-liberal party from the ground up. it’s very far from a sure thing, but it might just happen.

no matter what your social media feed may suggest, democrats are gradually getting over the poisonous bernie-hillary feud of 2016, which was never as important to actual voters as it was to highly energized members of the political-media caste. please note: i am not endorsing the view that the issues that divided the warring “progressive” and “moderate” tribes were insignificant or entirely symbolic. it’s more complicated than that. there are fundamental questions of philosophy, ideology and policy that remain unsettled and may take years or decades to work through.

that latter point is especially true when it comes to foreign policy and “national security,” an area where a near-perfect circle of non-information and disinformation persists. few voters are motivated by such issues except at moments when they command the headlines (as the iraq war did in the latter stages of the george w. bush administration), and still fewer bother to study them in any depth. nearly everyone in both parties and in the national media, meanwhile, neglects to mention that there is widespread agreement on such issues across the elite political spectrum, based on a set of underlying assumptions about the nature of american power that is almost never discussed. that contradiction was captured in a caustic onion story about the fisa reauthorization vote that went viral this week: “pelosi: ‘we must fight even harder against trump’s authoritarian impulses now that we’ve voted to enable them.’”

nonetheless i think it’s fair to say that in a medium-term, large-canvas sense the clinton-sanders rift is healing itself, if not quite in the way hardcore partisans in either camp might wish. it’s worth developing this idea a little, because i think two seemingly contradictory things are simultaneously true: the 2016 primary battle was a highly significant event in recent political history and it didn’t matter all that much to most democratic voters.

an overwhelming majority of sanders supporters voted for clinton in the general election; had the nomination gone the other way (which was never likely, however it felt at the time), the reverse would have been true. fanboys and fangirls of the two candidates continue to accuse each other of massive world-historical crimes on the internet entirely because of the unexpected and disastrous outcome of the entire process.

that’s understandable in human terms. but no serious person, in the fullness of time, will conclude that donald trump was elected president because the democratic party had a vigorous primary contest. (there is no clear historical correlation between a difficult primary campaign and what happens in the fall election, as hillary clinton’s husband can attest.) yes, clinton ran a poor general-election campaign, but, as has now become clear, her defeat was overdetermined by too many factors to count. yes, it’s conceivable that sanders could have beaten trump, but that’s an unknowable counterfactual with way too many “ifs.”

the proposition that hillary clinton was such a flawed and despised figure that she was doomed from the outset to lose an election to the worst person ever has exactly the same truth-claim status as the proposition that the crypto-sexist, crypto-racist berniebro hordes torpedoed the first woman president and paved the path to the trumpian reich. that is, neither one can be conclusively disproved, since they purport to explain what actually happened, but they’re both roughly 111 percent fake news, built on anecdotal evidence and faulty assumptions. in fact, they’re not categorically different from donald trump’s 3 million “illegal” voters — an invented excuse for a real-world event the inventor refuses to accept.

 

considering the dismal and desperate state of the democratic party in the wake of the 2016 election — and the 2014 midterms, which in their own less charismatic fashion were just as bad — there’s plenty of room for blame and recrimination. but the idea that the party’s path forward lies in one side of the bernz-hillz battle forever banishing the other to the dustbin of history is found only among the bad vibes brigade of the internet. mainline democrats were never going to purge or silence the energized millennials of the sanders electorate, a course of action that would be disastrous if it were possible. nor was the party ever going to rededicate itself to democratic socialism from top to bottom and march forward under the red flag.

politics is the realm of the possible, the conditional and the half-baked, borderline-mendacious compromise, and we’re going to see a lot of that going forward. what we can say for sure is that no one in the left-liberal quadrant of american electoral politics wants to go through that again, and that almost every leading democrat who appears to be testing the waters for a potential 2020 campaign is already positioning herself or himself as the ideal bernhill (or is it hillbern?), binder of wounds and bringer of gifts.

no one in the hypothetical 2020 field — with the possible and (one hopes) doomed exception of joe biden — is going to run against single-payer health care or a $15 minimum wage, as clinton effectively did. no one will claim not to be the candidate of big ideas and sweeping policy changes, but rather the competent engineer who can repair broken machinery on the margins. (give clinton credit: as her memoir makes clear, she now understands that was a massive strategic error.) that alone represents a significant rhetorical victory for team sanders, and it’s not quite fair to say that political rhetoric doesn’t matter or that campaign promises have no effect on real-world policy — despite the glaring present-tense counter-example in the white house.

consider the remarkable metamorphosis of sen. kirsten gillibrand, formerly a middle-path, blue dog democrat from the hinterlands of upstate new york who entered politics as a protégé of bill and hillary clinton. (in congress she represented a vast, largely rural district that had been held by republicans for decades, as it is now.) not only has she built a national reputation as a political leader of the #metoo movement, gillibrand has now created as much distance between herself and the clintons as possible, and has seemingly embraced the sanders wing’s positions on every high-profile issue.

a recent daily beast profile inquired whether gillibrand was too ruthless and opportunistic to be president, which might have been amusing if it weren’t so blatantly and blindly sexist. no doubt it’s true that gillibrand is trying to execute the calculated maneuver known as the “reverse romney,” in sliding rapidly from the center toward the perceived progressive base, and it’s not unreasonable to question the depth of her conviction. but actions matter more than words, in politics as elsewhere. like many other people in and around the democratic party, gillibrand is clearly reacting to an intense popular hunger for a larger vision and a clearer sense of mission than the party has presented for decades.

kirsten gillibrand’s sincerity, or lack thereof, is not the point, and her caterpillar-into-butterfly act is not an isolated phenomenon. sen. cory booker of new jersey, another likely 2020 candidate closely linked to big pharma and the insurance industry, has suddenly emerged as an advocate of legal marijuana and a foe of mass incarceration. virtually every elected democrat from chuck schumer down to the local school board has rediscovered an appetite for big-think policy ideas and major structural changes. (whether those people can wean themselves from the donor class that has drained away the party’s ideological coherence and class consciousness over the last 40 years or so is another matter.)

none of that means the democrats’ internal crisis has been resolved, still less that the sanders faction “won.” what it means is that the bitterness, irresolution and painful defeat of 2016 — and the resulting political, social and cultural crisis that has shaken america to the core — has presented the party with an unprecedented opportunity: it can win elections (or so it would seem) while reinventing and rebuilding itself at the same time.

there are any number of reasons to believe that will all go south, starting with the entirely plausible theory that america has become ungovernable and what we’re now witnessing are the death throes of democracy. but democrats hold one important advantage: republicans got a similar opportunity first, when they weren’t ready for it and didn’t think it would happen. it hasn't gone well, honestly. they responded by reinventing the party of lincoln and eisenhower as a racist criminal death cult and turning the federal government into a season of “jersey shore” directed by hieronymus bosch. so there’s probably nowhere to go but up.

 

 

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does ‘fire and fury’ passage about nikki haley imply she and trump are having an affair?

author michael wolff said the clues are in his book.

on friday night, author michael wolff set tongues wagging and pages turning by implying to “real time” host bill maher that president donald trump is currently having an affair and that the clues to who are in his book fire and fury: inside the trump white house.

slate.com pointed to a paragraph in fire and fury that reads, “by october, however, many of the president’s staff took particular notice of one of the few remaining trump opportunists: nikki haley, the un ambassador. haley — ‘as ambitious as lucifer,’ in the characterization of one member of the senior staff — had concluded that trump’s tenure would last, at best, a single term, and that she, with the requisite submission, could be his heir apparent.”

however, it’s the next paragraph that would appear to be more damning.

“the president has been spending a notable amount of private time with haley on air force one and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future,” wolff said. “haley, who was much more of a traditional republican, one with a pronounced moderate streak — a type increasingly known as a jarvanka republican — was, evident to many, being mentored in trumpian ways. the danger here, offered one senior trumper, ‘is that she is so much smarter than him.'”

haley was accused of having an adulterous relationship with political blogger will folks in 2007 prior to assuming the office of governor.

in spite of the allegations, folks endorsed haley’s candidacy.

haley has denied the affair.

update: an earlier draft of this story said that folks retracted his story about an adulterous affair with haley. he has not. alternet regrets the error.






workplace bullying affects nearly half of u.s. workers

it's time to do something about it.

many are hoping that 2017 represented a turning point in the fight against workplace harassment, as the #metoo moment put a spotlight on sexual misconduct. now some labor advocates are hoping that the momentum of #metoo helps to fuel an additional campaign against a different and overlapping type of harassment: workplace bullying.

while there's been increased attention paid to the bullying of children in recent years, there hasn't been the same kind of focus on bullying among adults, but statistics indicate that it's a major problem. according to one 2008 study, nearly 75 percent of participants have witnessed workplace bullying at their job and 47 percent have been bullied at some point in their career. another 27 percent said they had been bullied within the last 12 months. in a 2014 survey by the workplace bullying institute (wbi), 72 percent of the respondents said that their employer either condones or encourages the behavior.

there's no universal definition of it, but the wbi defines it as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. it is abusive conduct that is:

• threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or

• work interference -- sabotage -- which prevents work from getting done, or

• verbal abuse.

wbi sprang from a campaign that was started by ruth and gary namie, a husband-and-wife team of psychologists. in the late 1990s, ruth worked in a psychiatric clinic and was bullied by her supervisor. to their surprise, the namies discovered there was very little ruth could do about the situation. employment discrimination laws existed, but they didn't cover things like your boss screaming at you daily or a co-worker trying to sabotage your imminent promotion. if you hadn't been targeted for abuse because of your race, sex or national origin, or because you blew the whistle on something related to the company, there wasn't a legal avenue for you to pursue.

the namies also discovered that there were no organizations working on the issue in the united states, so they started the work doctor at the wbi website, where they wrote about the issue, drawing heavily on existing research from countries where it was taken seriously (such as sweden, belgium and france). they also created a toll-free hotline for workers to call, counseled thousands of people on the issue, and hosted the first us conference dedicated to the subject of workplace bullying.

at the end of 2001, the campaign moved from california to the state of washington. at western washington university, gary namie taught the first us college course on workplace bullying, and the campaign evolved into wbi after a group of research students volunteered to do more survey research.

that same year, suffolk university law professor david yamada -- one of the only academics working on the issue in the united states at the time, and a presenter at the aforementioned workplace bullying conference -- drafted the text for a healthy workplace bill, a piece of legislation that defines "an abusive work environment," holds the employer accountable and provides victims with legal redress. an "abusive work environment" is an employment condition where an employer acts with intent to cause pain or distress to a worker, subjects them to abuse that causes physical harm, psychological harm, or both. the bill requires proof of either demonstrable health or economic harm to the plaintiff.

in 2003, a healthy workplace bill was introduced in california. now similar bills have been introduced in more than half of the states, in over 100 versions, and have been sponsored by over 400 lawmakers. the campaign for the healthy workplace bill is led by state coordinators who all start with the same bill language and recruit local volunteers to help educate lawmakers on the issue.

although no state has passed the bill so far, there have been some partial victories. in 2014, california passed a bill that required sexual harassment training to include information about "abusive conduct" in the workplace. that same year, tennessee introduced a law that requires public-sector employers to adopt policies that prevent abuse. in 2015, utah passed a bill that established training for state workers that defined specific kinds of bullying.

massachusetts resident deb falzoi became involved in the movement after she was bullied at her former workplace, a local university. she couldn't figure out why the behavior was legal and, after doing some research, she discovered yamada's work. at that point, yamada had already drafted the bill, but it lacked backing. now falzoi works as the marketing director for the massachusetts healthy workplace bill, which would create a legal claim for targets of bullying in the state. she told truthout that while training employees on workplace bullying is important, it doesn't accomplish much if there are no consequences for the perpetrators. "employers can train managers on what workplace bullying is and their workplace bullying policies, but without enforcing those policies through accountability and consequences for bullies, employees are still stuck with toxic cultures they don't deserve," said falzoi. "training is meaningless without enforcement."

falzoi said massachusetts has come further in implementing a healthy workplace bill than most states. in january 2017 massachusetts state sen. jennifer flanagan introduced one in the form of senate bill s.1013. the bill is currently sitting in the joint committee on labor and workforce development and the deadline to move it toward the senate and house is february 10.

advocates like falzoi are encouraging residents to pressure their lawmakers before the deadline and before local employers are able to mount an offensive against legislation that would potentially hold them responsible for these kinds of abuses. it's a valid concern, as variations of the bill have already seen defeat in 29 state legislatures. critics contend that such legislation would lead to frivolous lawsuits that could tank businesses.

"we all agree with the concept that there shouldn't be jerks in the workplace, but the issue is whether we can legislate that," said business-side labor lawyer rick grimaldi in a 2013 article about the push for legislation. "the whole concept is difficult to get your head around when you think about how expansive this could be. every disgruntled employee becomes a potential plaintiff."

falzoi says these kinds of concerns don't really add up when you consider that existing workplace discrimination laws haven't led to a huge amount of haphazard legal action. "we have all these sexual harassment cases happening right now and we don't see a lot of false accusations," she said.      

gillian mason is the coordinator of development and education at the massachusetts chapter of jobs with justice, the nationwide union rights organization. she told truthout that every single complaint she has heard from a worker has involved workplace bullying in some capacity. "almost all wage theft claims and discrimination claims are accompanied by claims of workplace bullying," she said. "it's like extra added ammunition for [bullies.]"

mason's assertion lines up with many of the high-profile sexual harassment scandals of recent months. the infamous stories involving film producer harvey weinstein are marked not only by disturbing tales of sexual assaults and sexual harassment, but also by abusive emotional behavior. "i'll tell you what i did know," weinstein's brother bob told the hollywood reporter:

harvey was a bully, harvey was arrogant, he treated people like shit all the time. that i knew. and i had to clean up for so many of his employee messes. people that came in crying to my office: "your brother said this, that and the other." and i'd feel sick about it.

last winter, it was revealed that texas gop rep. blake farenthold used taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment allegations. it was later reported that, in addition to making sexually inappropriate comments, farenthold regularly went into fits of rage, slammed his fists on desks, berated aides and referred to them as "fucktards."

mason described local scenarios that mirrored these high-profile cases. she recounted one instance in which a worker said a chair had been thrown at them by a supervisor; moments later, the same supervisor tried to hug them and tell the person how much they were valued. "a lot of this kind of abuse is psychological," said mason.

as the trump administration continues to roll back regulations that have historically protected working people, legislation like the healthy workplace bill could emerge as a crucial component of the country's upcoming labor battles.

copyright, truthout. reprinted with permission. 

 

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the right's assault on the mueller probe takes a bizarre new twist

the gop will stop at nothing to protect the trump administration.

“i have a message tonight for the special counsel, robert mueller,” fox news host and sometime adviser to president donald trump sean hannity said at the top of last night’s broadcast. “your witch hunt is now over. time to close the doors."

with those words, hannity signaled a new phase in the campaign against mueller, which is uniting republican members of congress, pro-trump pundits and journalists, alt-right figures, and suspected russian-linked bot networks in a full-fledged effort to torpedo the special counsel’s investigation.

the president’s allies have been calling for the termination of mueller’s investigation almost since its launch, seeing it as a grave danger to the trump administration. the new line of attack revolves around a four-page classified memo drafted by republicans on the house intelligence committee that gop members claim shows malfeasance on the part of the fbi and justice department during the early phases of their investigation into improper communications between trump associates and russia. the implication is that information from a dossier -- paid for by anti-trump republicans and then democrats and compiled by the intelligence firm fusion gps -- was used as the basis for warrants under the foreign intelligence surveillance act on the communications of trump associates, somehow showing bad faith on the part of law enforcement and invalidating the special counsel’s investigation.

after the intelligence committee voted to allow all members of the house to review the memo, several saidpublicly that it contained damning information that should be released to the public, using the twitter hashtag “#releasethememo” to promote that action. “alt-right” and traditional pro-trump media figures, along with suspected russian-linked twitter networks, amplified that call, sending the hashtag to the top of twitter’strending list.

hannity, who has one of the highest-rated shows on cable news and who has spent months waging an all-out campaign against mueller, catapulted the story last night, devoting multiple segments to discussing how the memo shows “the systematic abuse of power” that is “far bigger than watergate” and is in fact “the biggest national scandal by far in our lifetime.” fox & friends picked up the torch this morning and fox seems poised to devote coverage to the memo throughout the day.

all of this is best understood within the framework of a systematic effort by the president’s allies to undermine the mueller investigation at all costs. the underlying charges don’t make much sense.

the russia investigation was reportedly first sparked not by the dossier, but after trump campaign adviser george papadopoulos told an australian diplomat that russia had damaging information about hillary clinton and that diplomat passed the information along to u.s. sources.

the most damning public revelations -- that top trump campaign aides met with self-described russian government agents to discuss damaging information those sources said they had about clinton, and trump firing the fbi director over his handling of the russia investigation -- are acknowledged by all sides.

it’s unclear how the dossier’s use would somehow invalidate the results of the investigation or necessitate mueller’s firing, except that all the people making those charges would really like that to be true.

declassifying the memo for release would require an extensive process, making this all a very obvious stunt.

i have no clue what game nunes is playing at but this has nothing to do with 702. furthermore, no one is "releasing" anything without a executive branch classification review. even for four pages, that's a multi-week endeavor.

— susan hennessey (@susan_hennessey) january 19, 2018

and a memo produced under the leadership of committee chair devin nunes, who has spent the year trying to cover for the trump administration, has little validity.

source with knowledge tells me the nunes memo is "a level of irresponsible stupidity that i cannot fathom. purposefully misconstrues facts and leaves out important details." https://t.co/ymzmrhvpyg

— natasha bertrand (@natashabertrand) january 19, 2018

moreover, if the fisa warrant is so damaging, why aren’t republicans demanding the president declassify and release it, instead of asking for the release of what amounts to nunes’ op-ed on the topic?

the easiest explanation is that the parties involved are mainly interested in undermining the mueller investigation and protecting the president. over the past months, we’ve seen a drumbeat demanding new investigations into the president’s enemies and purges of purported anti-trump elements at doj and the fbi.

as those efforts have borne fruit, they have emboldened the president’s allies, who now may believe they can use this memo to prep the political landscape for mueller’s firing.

 

 

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vermont legalizes marijuana, and makes history along the way

let's hear it for the green mountain state.

vermont made history this past weekend as gov. phil scott (r) signed a marijuana legalization bill into law. with his signature, vermont becomes the first state to have freed the weed via the legislative process, as opposed to through a voter initiative.

the new law, house bill 511, legalizes the possession of up to two ounces of pot and the cultivation of up to six plants (four immature and two mature) as of july 1, but does not legalize the taxed and regulated commercial production and sale of marijuana.

whether and when the state might open up legal marijuana commerce is up in the air for now. the bill calls for a task force appointed by the governor to study the issue and recommend "legislation on implementing and operating a comprehensive regulatory and revenue system for an adult marijuana market" by december 31. then lawmakers would have to go to work again to get that passed.

all eight states that have already legalized marijuana have created taxed and regulated legal markets, although vermont's new england neighbors maine and massachusetts have yet to implement theirs. like vermont, however, the district of columbia legalized weed without legalizing sales.

new hampshire could be the next new england state to go green, and like vermont and d.c., it could be without allowing legal, taxed, and regulated sales. last week, the house voted to approve house bill 656, which would legalize the possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of pot and allow individuals to grow up to three plants. the vote came after the house amended the bill to remove provisions allowing for legal, taxed sales. that measure now goes to the state senate.

new jersey is another candidate to be the next state to legalize it at the state house. new gov. phil murphy (d) campaigned on a pledge to pass legalization in his first 100 days, and legalization proponents have already filed the measures that would do that, senate bill 380 and its house counterpart assembly bill 1348.

those bills would allow for a system of legal sales, but would not allow for personal cultivation. of the nine states that have now legalized weed, only washington state has gone down that path, and washington lawmakers there are now reconsidering the ban on home grows.

legalization bills are likely to pop up in a couple of dozen state legislatures this year, but that doesn't mean they'll pass. there are probably only a handful of states where there's even an outside chance of state house legalization this year. other than new hampshire and new jersey, they include connecticut, delaware, illinois, and new york.

but vermont was the first. let's hear it for the green mountain state. 

 

 

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facebook's newsfeed 'fix' is a disaster in the making

legitimate outlets of the independent variety are about to take a major hit.

in a post shortly after new year’s day, facebook co-founder and ceo mark zuckerberg vowed that 2018 would be be the year when he will “fix“ his social network. last week, he announced that as part of that focus, facebook will be attempting to clean up its news feed feature, the portion of facebook that features a mix of updates from users' friends along with content posted by businesses, nonprofits and political organizations.

the most significant change, zuckerberg wrote on jan. 11, will be that “public content” from brands and media outlets will no longer be given as much prominence in users' feeds. instead, posts from friends and family will be boosted.

“we feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being,” zuckerberg wrote. he then referenced several academic studies that have shown that facebook addicts who scroll through the site’s news feed for even relatively short periods of time end up feeling depressed as a result, whether from feeling that they’ve wasted time, a sense of information overload or an unhealthy desire to compare their own lives to the unrealistically positive narratives their friends are posting.

citing other research claiming that online conversations with facebook friends was psychologically more helpful to people, zuckerberg wrote that the social network would give higher priority to posts “that spark conversations and meaningful interactions.”

in a jan. 13 interview with wired, adam mosseri, the facebook vice president who runs the news feed feature, stated that the company would be giving lower priority to published videos because watching them is a “passive” activity. he also said that content with long-winded comments posted would also receive higher visibility than posts with lots of “likes.”

in a post shortly after new year’s day, facebook co-founder and ceo mark zuckerberg vowed that 2018 would be be the year when he will “fix“ his social network. last week, he announced that as part of that focus, facebook will be attempting to clean up its news feed feature, the portion of facebook that features a mix of updates from users' friends along with content posted by businesses, nonprofits and political organizations.

the most significant change, zuckerberg wrote on jan. 11, will be that “public content” from brands and media outlets will no longer be given as much prominence in users' feeds. instead, posts from friends and family will be boosted.

“we feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being,” zuckerberg wrote. he then referenced several academic studies that have shown that facebook addicts who scroll through the site’s news feed for even relatively short periods of time end up feeling depressed as a result, whether from feeling that they’ve wasted time, a sense of information overload or an unhealthy desire to compare their own lives to the unrealistically positive narratives their friends are posting.

citing other research claiming that online conversations with facebook friends was psychologically more helpful to people, zuckerberg wrote that the social network would give higher priority to posts “that spark conversations and meaningful interactions.”

in a jan. 13 interview with wired, adam mosseri, the facebook vice president who runs the news feed feature, stated that the company would be giving lower priority to published videos because watching them is a “passive” activity. he also said that content with long-winded comments posted would also receive higher visibility than posts with lots of “likes.”

in his post, zuckerberg indicated that the "news quality" survey was his attempt to remove the company from making value judgments about media outlets and to avoid consultation with "outside experts," whose objectivity would invariably be questioned.

almost certainly, the idea is going to provoke strife in the political realm, largely because conservatives, especially those on the far right, get their news from sources most other people have never heard of.

in a 2014 pew research center poll, only 45 percent of respondents said they knew who sean hannity was, even though he has been the host of a prime-time evening news program on fox news channel for about 20 years. the study found that only 35 percent of respondents knew of the drudge report, the conservative news aggregator that has been popular among news junkies for two decades. an even smaller number, 15 percent, had ever heard of breitbart news.

the only right-leaning outlet that has almost universal name recognition is fox news channel which, thanks to its polarizing effect, is simultaneously the most trusted and distrusted major news operation.

added together, the conservative media's isolation and facebook's desire to ignore professional reputations in favor of asking its users to determine news outlets' merits is likely to create a problem. it will either resort in a profusion of exaggerated or fabricated stories flooding into users' news feeds or it will is result in complaints about facebook's perceived unfairness to conservatives.

while facebook has offered a few clues as to how its news-feed changes will impact users and publishers, the company admits that it still has not quite figured out its strategy.

“this change will take some time to figure out,” campbell brown, the former nbc reporter who is now facebook’s head of news partnerships, told publishers in a jan. 12 message. off the record, the company has been telling legitimate news sites that their content will still have a chance in users’ news feeds, but has not provided much in the way of specifics.

the new policies have underscored just how powerful the company has become in the global media landscape. as things stand, facebook is the news source for about 47 percent of americans, half of whom say they don’t turn to any other social media outlet.

“i think that news is going to remain highly popular on facebook because people will always want to know about the world and their communities,” david chavern, ceo of the news media alliance told poynter. “this change does highlight, however, the power of facebook to decide (and alter) the kinds of information that people are exposed to. it is an incredible power that carries incredible responsibilities.”

 

 

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why the alt right could be more dangerous than ever before

the movement has fractured, and its members are growing increasingly violent.

alt-right is fractured, may be more dangerous than ever

on the morning of october 28, white nationalists and neo-nazis assembled in shelbyville, tennessee for the first part of a “white lives matter” rally. the 200 white men and about a dozen white women arrived dressed in black, and shouted across a row of police at the group of antifascist protesters, nearly double in size, who…

 

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charles blow: the government shutdown is all trump's fault

so much for the president being a one-of-a-kind dealmaker.

donald trump is a terrible dealmaker. in fact he's so terrible that despite co-authoring a bestseller called the art of the deal and campaigning on his negotiating acumen, he's managed to singlehandedly shut down the federal government, argues charles blow in his monday column.

it never had to come to this. of the 800,000 americans who came to this country as children blow writes that: "there is absolutely no reason that a deal couldn’t have been reached on the dreamers, something that the vast majority of americans want. but republicans used the threat of withholding the fix as a bargaining chip, and democrats held to the fix as imperative."

which they should have. by refusing to fall for republicans' dirty tricks, the democrats have allowed trump to dig his own grave. during the pre-shutdown negotiations, blow continues, "trump proved himself both woefully inept at making tough deals and also demonstrated that his yearlong strategy of trying to govern to the exclusion of democrats and playing to a narrow base is fatally flawed."

voters may be enchanted with the idea of having a businessman as president, but they forget that "the skills and interests aren’t always transferable. operating with a profit interest is often at odds with operating in the public interest." 

each of trump's so-called successes have had only one very narrow constituency in mind, and it's certainly not steel plant workers in the midwest. in fact, they have "have largely been beneficial to big business, moving us ever closer to true plutocracy." he signed a reverse-robin hood tax bill, and continually brags about how many regulations he's repealed. of course, as bloomberg reports, even that is a lie.

then there's the fact that trump himself is an "unrepentant, unremitting liar." blow continues, "that makes deal-making impossible. his word is meaningless and his policy principles are murky. he is mercurial and inconsistent. this may well have worked in business, to keep people off kilter, but it won’t work in politics."

that doesn't mean, however, that public opinion won't come out on trump's side. adds blow:

"on this government shutdown, morally, democrats hold the higher ground. but politics is seen through different lenses depending on where you sit...trump’s team is now casting the shutdown as democratic obstruction, which for some will resonate. it will be harder for democrats to make their moral case the longer the shutdown stays in effect."

even worse, "trump and his anti-immigrant, cultural-anxiety agitators are already pitching the shutdown as a choice democrats made to put the brown children of illegal immigrants over the interests of beleaguered soldiers."

blow leaves us this week with a harsh truth about our lying president: "trump isn’t a great deal maker, but he is an extraordinary norms-breaker. when this is all settled, however that is done, trump will find a way to make himself look like a winner, even if he has to lie."

read the entire column here


 

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robert reich: trump is destroying the gop from the inside out

just one year into his presidency, the party has abandoned its core principles.

america has never had a president as deeply unpopular at this stage of his presidency, or one who has sucked up more political oxygen. this isn’t good news for the republican party this november or in the future, because the gop has sold its soul to trump.

three principles once gave the gop its identity and mission: shrink the deficit, defend states’ rights, and be tough on russia.

now, after a year with the raving man-child who now occupies the white house, the republican party has taken a giant u-turn. budget deficits are dandy, state’s rights are obsolete, and russian aggression is no big deal.

by embracing a man whose only principles are winning and getting even, the republican party no longer stands for anything other than trump. 

start with fiscal responsibility. 

when george w. bush took office in 2001, the congressional budget office projected a $5.6 trillion budget surplus over 10 years. yet even this propitious outlook didn’t stop several republicans from arguing against the bush tax cut out of concern it would increase the nation’s debt. 

a few years later, congressional republicans were apoplectic about obama’s spending plan, necessitated by the 2008 financial crisis. almost every republican in congress opposed it. they argued it would dangerously increase in the federal debt.

“yesterday the senate cast one of the most expensive votes in history,” intoned senator mitch mcconnell. “americans are wondering how we’re going to pay for all this.” paul ryan warned the nation was “heading for a debt crisis.”

now, with america’s debt at the highest level since shortly after world war ii – 77 percent of gdp – trump and the gop have enacted a tax law that by their own estimates will increase the debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the decade.

what happened to fiscal responsibility? mcconnell, ryan, and the rest of the gop have gone mum about it. politics came first: they and trump had to enact the big tax cut in order to reward their wealthy patrons. 

states’ rights used to be the second pillar of republican thought.

for decades, republicans argued that the constitution’s tenth amendment protected the states from federal intermeddling.

they used states’ rights to resist desegregation; to oppose federal legislation protecting workers, consumers, and the environment; and to battle federal attempts to guarantee marriage rights for gays and lesbians. 

when, in 2013, the supreme court relied on states’ rights to strike down the heart of the voting rights act, then-senator jeff sessions broke out the champagne. “good news!“ said the gop’s leading advocate of states’ rights. =

but after a year of trump, republicans have come around to thinking states have few if any rights. 

as attorney general, sessions has green-lighted a federal crackdown on marijuana in states that have legalized it. 

he and trump are also blocking sanctuary cities from receiving federal grants. (a federal judge recently stayed trump’s executive order on grounds that it violates the tenth amendment, but trump and sessions are appealing the decision.) 

trump is also seeking to gut california’s tough environmental rules. his interior department is opening more of california’s federal land and coastline to oil and gas drilling, and trump’s epa is moving to repeal new restrictions on a type of heavily-polluting truck california was relying on to meet its climate and air quality goals.

meanwhile, the republican house has approved the concealed carry reciprocity act, which would prevent states from enforcing their own laws barring concealed handguns against visitors from other states that permitted them.

for the new gop, states’ rights be damned. now it’s all about consolidating power in washington, under trump. 

the third former pillar of republicanism was a hard line on russian aggression.

when obama forged the new start treaty with moscow in 2010, republicans in congress charged that vladimir putin couldn’t be trusted to carry out any arms control agreement.

and they complained that obama wasn’t doing enough to deter putin in eastern ukraine.  “every time [obama] goes on national television and threatens putin or anyone like putin, everybody’s eyes roll, including mine,” said republican senator lindsey graham. “we have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.”

that was then. now, despite explicit findings by american intelligence agencies that russia interfered in the 2016 election – the most direct attack on american democracy ever attempted by a foreign power – republicans in congress want to give russia a pass. 

they don’t even want to take steps to prevent further russian meddling. they’ve played down a january report by democrats on the senate foreign relations committee warning that the kremlin will likely move to influence upcoming u.s. elections, including those this year and in 2020.

the reason, of course, is the gop doesn’t want to do anything that might hurt trump or rile his followers.

the gop under trump isn’t the first political party to bend its principles to suit political expediency. but it may be the first to jettison its principles entirely, and over so short a time.

if republicans no longer care about the federal debt, or state’s rights, or russian aggression – what exactly do they care about? what are the core principles of today’s republican party?

winning and getting even. 

but as a year with trump as president has shown, this is no formula for governing.

 

 

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lindsey graham wants anti-immigration nut stephen miller booted from negotiations: ‘we are going nowhere’

graham told reporters that he was hopeful for a sunday “breakthrough."

sen. lindsey graham (r-sc) on sunday warned that president donald trump’s hard-right policy adviser stephen miller was preventing legislation that could end the current government shutdown.

on day two of president trump’s first government shutdown, graham told reporters that he was hopeful for a sunday “breakthrough” that could re-open the government.

but he also cautioned that trump policy adviser stephen miller could kill any immigration deal. graham suspects miller is responsible for scuttling an earlier deal on so-called dreamers after trump had agreed to it.

“every time we have a proposal, it is only yanked back by staff members. as long as stephen miller is in charge of negotiating on immigration, we are going nowhere,” graham reportedly said.

 

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