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Category: General

“Don’t take my word for it, don’t believe me. Do your own work, your own thinking.”

[ 12 ] March 26, 2017 |


What a country:

Several dozen people assembled outside the White House Saturday to demand an investigation into the unfounded Internet rumor known as “Pizzagate.”

Wearing T-shirts and holding banners defending the conspiracy theory — which falsely linked Hillary Clinton to an alleged child-sex-trafficking ring operating out of a D.C. pizza parlor — protesters took turns climbing onto an elevated stage in Lafayette Square to demand politicians and mainstream news media take their claims seriously.

“I don’t have any doubt that Pizzagate is real,” said Kori Hayes, a corrections officer who drove with his wife and three kids to Washington from Middleburg, Fla., on Friday night for the event. “But nothing is being said about it.”

The demonstration came a day after the widely debunked conspiracy theory suffered two further blows.

On Friday, a North Carolina man pleaded guilty to weapons and assault charges in connection to an ill-fated attempt to expose the alleged sex-trafficking operation.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, admitted traveling to Comet Ping Pong in Northwest Washington on Dec. 4, anticipating a violent confrontation over his personal investigation of Pizzagate. He entered the restaurant holding an assault rifle, prompting a panicked evacuation by workers and customers. Welch fired the rifle at least once while searching for evidence of child sex abuse. After finding none, he surrendered to police.

Also on Friday, Alex Jones, a conspiracy-loving media personality who pushed the Pizzagate narrative, apologized for his role in spreading the viral story.

Alex Jones is a cuck!

Meanwhile, if like me you were curious what the “code words” in the Podesta EMAILS! that revealed a secret pedophile ring were, here you go:

My question: by troofer standards of evidence, what pizza menu doesn’t reveal a secret pedophile ring?


People who are not Steve Bannon less impressed by Steve Bannon than people who are

[ 95 ] March 25, 2017 |

Hairy-nosed half ogre Steve Bannon to the “Freedom” Caucus:

Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.

Freedom Caucus to Bannon: Pppfffbt:

One of the members replied: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”

Sending skeevemeister Steve to do anything except frighten small children or lick coke off the mirror goes on the rapidly growing list of tRumpian rake steps.

The Freedom to Die if You Can’t Buy Caucus wasn’t moved – or amused – by Tangerine Nightmare’s attempt to get them to Yes. What Bannon is supposed to have got that the tRump ain’t got is beyond the ability of a mind of at least moderate intelligence to fathom.

As an aside, do take a second to read this concise deflation of the Trump as Deal Meister myth.

Back to the article

Bannon’s point was: This is the Republican platform. You’re the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But people in the room were put off by the dictatorial mindset.

Why go with a complex explanation when the simple one will do? You gotta do it is all Bannon had. He and his boss lacked the intelligence to realize that was not going to do the trick.

What’s next: White House officials plan to plunge ahead with ambitious tax reform, but they know it’ll be harder now. As one of the lessons learned, look for the White House to drive the truck on tax reform


– to set the policy and work the members from the beginning, undercutting Ryan. So the border adjustment tax, a favorite of Ryan but viewed skeptically at best by the White House, is less likely to be part of Trump’s tax reform bid.

I do hope so. I can think of few things more likely to cause dyspepsia and tension headaches in the Republican House and Senate than a tax reform bill with tiny spray-tan fingerprints all over it. Perhaps that’s what he was working on during the meetings he had at out his golf course in Virginia today. Perhaps he’ll learn from yesterday’s clusterfuck. And perhaps my unicorn will come in the mail today.

Elite 8 Open Thread

[ 22 ] March 25, 2017 |


Pretty entertaining weekend of basketball here. No one is going to complain about a Gonzaga-Xavier matchup in the West unless you are an Arizona fan and who likes those people anyway. South Carolina-Florida is a random matchup in the East featuring the rare game between two conference teams. I am rooting for South Carolina primarily because they beat Duke. What better reason do you need? Kentucky-North Carolina will of course be excellent. And then there is Oregon-Kansas. No one is giving Oregon a chance here. And it’s a very tough game. Kansas is playing great ball and the game is in Kansas City. This is the kind of game where Oregon losing Chris Boucher could really hurt them. Kansas is favored by 7 and that seems about right to me. That said, don’t read too much into Kansas slaughtering Purdue on Thursday. It’s not that often that teams play that perfect in consecutive games. And Oregon actually hasn’t had a real great game in the tournament. If they can get hot from the outside, they do have a real chance. I’m not saying it’s going to happen because I don’t think it will happen. But it wouldn’t be a huge shocker if it did.

Also, congrats to the 10th seeded Oregon women’s basketball team for making their first ever Elite 8, with the right to be massacred by UConn on Monday. Beating Duke along the way makes it even more sweet.


Happy Triangle Day!

[ 26 ] March 25, 2017 |


Triangle Fire Day is such a happy time. Good thing we have learned so much and we treat our workers with respect, allow them to work in safe workplaces, give them a voice on the job, and generally allow them to live a dignified life, unlike those savage times of the past.

“The supply chain isn’t going just to Bangladesh. It’s going to Alabama and Georgia,” says David Michaels, who ran OSHA for the last seven years of the Obama administration. Safety at the Southern car factories themselves is generally good, he says. The situation is much worse at parts suppliers, where workers earn about 70¢ for every dollar earned by auto parts workers in Michigan, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Many plants in the North are unionized; only a few are in the South.)

Cordney Crutcher has known both environments. In 2013 he lost his left pinkie while operating a metal press at Matsu Alabama, a parts maker in Huntsville owned by Matcor-Matsu Group Inc. of Brampton, Ont. Crutcher was leaving work for the day when a supervisor summoned him to replace a slower worker on the line, because the plant had fallen 40 parts behind schedule for a shipment to Honda Motor Co. He’d already worked 12 hours, Crutcher says, and wanted to go home, “but he said they really needed me.” He was put on a press that had been acting up all day. It worked fine until he was 10 parts away from finishing, and then a cast-iron hole puncher failed to deploy. Crutcher didn’t realize it. Suddenly the puncher fired and snapped on his finger. “I saw my meat sticking out of the bottom of my glove,” he says.

Now Crutcher, 42, commutes an hour to the General Motors Co. assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., where he’s a member of United Auto Workers. “They teach you the right way,” he says. “They don’t throw you to the wolves.” His pay rose from $12 an hour at Matsu to $18.21 at GM.

In 2014, OSHA’s Atlanta office, after detecting a high number of safety violations at the region’s parts suppliers, launched a crackdown. The agency cited one year, 2010, when workers in Alabama parts plants had a 50 percent higher rate of illness and injury than the U.S. auto parts industry as a whole. That gap has narrowed, but the incidence of traumatic injuries in Alabama’s auto parts plants remains 9 percent higher than in Michigan’s and 8 percent higher than in Ohio’s. In 2015 the chances of losing a finger or limb in an Alabama parts factory was double the amputation risk nationally for the industry, 65 percent higher than in Michigan and 33 percent above the rate in Ohio.

Korean-owned plants, which make up roughly a quarter of parts suppliers in Alabama, have the most safety violations in the state, accounting for 36 percent of all infractions and 52 percent of total fines, from 2012 to 2016. The U.S. is second, with 23 percent of violations and 17 percent of fines, and Germany is third, with 15 percent and 11 percent. But serious accidents occur in plants from all over, according to more than 3,000 pages of court documents and OSHA investigative files obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Feel the Freedom!

The Official Presidency of Domestic Abusers and Rapists

[ 23 ] March 25, 2017 |


I too am shocked that President Pussy Grabbing Fascist would create fascist policies that facilitate the crimes of domestic abusers and rapists.

Latinos in Los Angeles are making dramatically fewer reports of rape and domestic violence amid a climate of fear over increased immigration enforcement, according to the city’s Police Chief Charlie Beck.

Since the beginning of 2017, reports of rape among the city’s Latino population have declined by 25 percent, compared to the same period last year. Domestic violence reports have dropped nearly 10 percent. According to statistics provided by the Los Angeles Police Department, no other ethnic group experienced a comparable decrease.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Beck said there was a “strong correlation” between the Trump administration’s new immigration rules, which empower federal agents to more aggressively deport those without documentation regardless of whether they’ve committed a serious crime, and the deflated numbers.

“Imagine a young woman—imagine your daughter, sister, mother, your friend—not reporting a sexual assault because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” he said during an appearance with Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The Pew Research Center estimates that the Los Angeles metro area has one million undocumented immigrants, more than any other area in the country except New York. In a press release, the LAPD cautioned that while “there is no direct evidence that the decline is related to concerns within the Hispanic community regarding immigration, the department believes deportation fears may be preventing Hispanic members of the community from reporting when they are victimized.”

And hey, when the fascist shock force known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement starts arresting women at their domestic violence hearings, turns out it will stop women from protecting themselves through the legal system. I wonder how many women Trump will kill because of this. A feature, not a bug, no doubt.

The Next Step in the Health Care Debates

[ 53 ] March 25, 2017 |


Above: Hells yeah!

Yesterday was a great day. But let’s be clear–Trump and Ryan will treat the ACA as well as they treat any other part of the government, which means trying to undermine its effectiveness. And given how insurance companies are dropping out of the exchanges, there are real problems that need to be fixed. It’s not really on Democrats to defend the ACA as a static program because they originally passed it. What they should be saying is that the ACA was the best that could be in 2010 and yes it does have problems that need fixing. And they should be saying that the way to fix those problems is universal Medicare. And while I get that single-payer has been simplified on the left as the only possible solution for health care when in reality there are many possible roles, expanding Medicare into a single-payer type system does have certain advantages.

It also makes an excellent organizing signpost. Medicare for all is simple, easy to understand, and hard to argue against or distort. Most people know someone on Medicare who can testify to the generally good care, or who is counting the days until they can enroll and have the peace of mind that comes with quality coverage. Fabricated agitprop like the mythical ObamaCare “death panels” will be a much harder sell.

As Republicans do their level best to make sure as many poor people as possible go bankrupt from medical debt or die of preventable diseases, a single-payer counter-offer makes perfect policy and political sense. Even if you think it’s a bit hasty on the merits, it’s still a splendid way for the Democrats to demonstrate, loudly and clearly, that they are for quality health care for all.

That makes plenty of sense to me.

Also, organizing works. Keep doing it. If you flooded congressional phone lines for everything like for this bill, or even 10% of like this bill, we would have a far better nation.


[ 151 ] March 25, 2017 |


On Christmas eve 2009, the Senate voted to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in what would be its final form, although nobody expected that at the time. Let me highlight some names on the yea side for you:

Max Baucus D Mont.
Evan Bayh D Ind.
Robert C. Byrd D W.Va
Kent Conrad D N.D.
Byron L. Dorgan D N.D.
Kay Hagan D N.C.
Tim Johnson D S.D.
Mary L. Landrieu D La.
Joseph I. Lieberman ID Conn.
Blanche Lincoln D Ark.
Claire McCaskill D Mo.
Ben Nelson D Neb.
Mark Pryor D Ark.
John D. Rockefeller IV D W.Va.
Jon Tester D Mont.
Jim Webb D Va.

It is ever more remarkable, in retrospect, that much of the discussion on the left following the passage of the ACA consisted of complaints about how Obama/Pelosi/Reid could “only” pass the ACA. This is, on one level, understandable, given that the ACA is unmistakably inferior to the baseline established by other liberal democracies. But this collection names should make clear than when evaluating the work of the Democratic leadership this baseline is irrelevant. The question is not why Obama/Pelosi/Reid couldn’t nationalize the American health insurance industry. The question is how they were able to get this rogue’s gallery — each and every one of whom had a veto — to agree to the most important progressive social welfare legislation passed since the Johnson administration. And note too that the only senator who is clearly more conservative than necessary to win election in the state is Holy Joe, who wasn’t the Democratic candidate but won because while the Democratic candidate would have been a better senator as a campaigner he made Martha Coakley look like FDR. (Webb is more conservative than you need to be elected statewide in Virginia now, but this was much less true in 2008.) The coalition that passed the ACA included three senators from the Dakotas, one each from Indiana and Arkansas, and two each from Montana and West Virginia. Glib “BE MORE LIBERAL!” exhortations don’t really help you to get liberal governing majorities in an institution that heavily favors conservative rural interests.

Comprehensive health care reform is brutally hard, as Truman and Johnson and Clinton can tell you. In addition getting the list of legislators above, the Democrats also needed to keep in the fold every liberal who was well aware that the ACA was substantially suboptimal. Senators like Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown deserve enormous credit for working to make the bill as it could be and then supporting it. The Republicans just completely failed with a more homogeneous coalition in the more top-down chamber. What the Democratic leadership pulled off in 2009 is remarkable, and we now know that it is an enduring accomplishment.


[ 195 ] March 24, 2017 |


He charmed. He threatened. He cajoled. It didn’t matter:

Trump fashioned himself as the master dealmaker. His senior aides described him as “an extremely good listener” and said his negotiating skills were the product of “total natural talent,” saying he could turn up the heat or the charm as needed.

But the negotiations over the bill’s substance took place mostly at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Trump had amicable meetings with members of all stripes but found himself caught in the middle of factional House GOP dramas that have been simmering for years. As one member of the House Freedom Caucus described it: “We’re competing with Ryan. We like Trump.”


As the odds for success fluttered, Trump increasingly came to relish the fight, seeing the sprint for passage as a test of whether he could translate abilities from the boardroom to the Oval Office.

Among the lawmakers he courted most intensely was Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. Trump brought him to the Oval Office, called him regularly and directed White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon to call or text him daily. Last weekend, Meadows even journeyed to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private Florida club, to huddle with Bannon and other aides about the bill.

Meadows said his mantra in negotiating with Trump had been, “If this was about personalities, we’d already be at ‘yes.’ He’s charming, and anyone who spends time with him knows that. But this is about policy, and we’re not going to make it about anything else.”

For Meadows, a sticking point was essential health-benefit requirements under the current law for insurance companies, such as maternity and newborn care, and substance-abuse treatment, which he wanted removed and replaced with narrower rules.

Meadows and other Freedom Caucus members met with Trump and Pence at the White House on Thursday, but they left without a deal, even after Trump had worked with them for weeks — leaving Trump’s advisers exasperated with the ornery bloc.

It was not only the Freedom Caucus creating problems for Trump. A group of more moderate Republicans, known as the Tuesday Group, stood opposed to the bill, despite the president’s pleadings.

One such member, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), attended meetings at the White House and praised Trump’s style, saying the president clearly “knows Jersey.” But, he added, the bill would harm his constituents who rely on Medicaid and there was nothing Trump could say to persuade him otherwise.

“He’s got this wit about him that I enjoy,” Lance said, “but I’m a ‘no’ vote.”

While there’s no reason to think that Trump is good at presidenting (or Ryan as good at legislating), and I’m as happy to make jokes about them as anyone, I see no reason to believe that this would have been any different with Rubio or Cruz or Jeb! in the White House. Both Republican factions have their own interests, the marginal votes weren’t there, that dat’s dat. Both sides liked Trump, and in the districts on the right margin Trump is popular. It just doesn’t matter. At bottom, presidents can’t get legislators to vote for stuff they really don’t want to vote for.

Since I’ve been often been critical of heighten-the-contradictions and all-or-nothing tactics, let me be clear that I strongly endorse such tactics when used by the right. I hope they’ll endorse more onanistic vanity voting too!

2016 Nostalgia

[ 32 ] March 24, 2017 |

In case you were wondering what Ha Ha Goodman was up to these days.

Why was Jennifer Bard fired from the University of Cincinnati’s law school deanship?

[ 32 ] March 24, 2017 |

Jennifer Bard was hired in July of 2015 to stop the bleeding at the University of Cincinnati’s law school. The school was running a multi-million dollar operating deficit: a consequence of a decline in effective tuition from JD students from approximately $9.3 million in 2011 to $4.5 million in 2015 (both figures are in 2015 dollars, and are based on my calculations drawn from 509 disclosure forms).

The law school’s situation in this regard was hardly unique.  I’ve just completed a study which concludes that between 2011 and 2015, effective tuition per student at non-elite (non T-14, though I guess it’s now T-13) law schools fell by about 12.5% in real terms, which, when combined with a 25% enrollment drop, adds up to something like a 35% decline in tuition revenue.  (This drop is disguised by sticker tuition prices, which rose 16% over this time frame, but which are increasingly irrelevant.  Discounts on sticker increased by 60% over the course of those four years).  Since most non-elite schools get 75% to 95% of their operating revenue from tuition, a lot of law schools are in the same straits as Cincinnati, i.e., dire.

The central administration brought Bard in to fix this, but last fall, little more than a year after she took over, a number of UC faculty were already plotting a vote of no confidence.  Apparently Bard’s offenses included trying to merge the law library into the university-wide system, requiring pre-approval for faculty travel, and requiring submission of travel receipts.  A few weeks later the interim provost set up some sort of mediation process, but just a couple of months into that process he decided to fire Bard instead.  (Firing a dean who isn’t even two years into a five-year contract is extremely unusual, at least in the law school world, and usually only happens in the wake of some sort genuine scandal).

Who knows what the whole story is here, but it’s worth mentioning that this wouldn’t be the first time that a woman was elevated to this type of leadership position and then fired shortly thereafter because of what, on their surface at least, seem like complaints that are as petty as they are predictable. (Travel receipts???).

Anyway, a lot of law school faculty seem to have trouble grasping that if you’re spending more than you’re bringing in, you leave yourself dependent on the kindness of strangers, aka, the forbearance of the central administration. And more than a few central administrators would under these circumstances give the faculty an offer they couldn’t refuse, rather than firing the person who had just been brought in to clean up somebody else’s mess.

“When the Un-man could not get animals it was content with plants.”

[ 43 ] March 24, 2017 |

The only time conservatives show anything resembling creativity is when they’re finding ways to inflict harm. So whatever happens with TrumpCare, Republican flunkies will be working hard to endanger vulnerable people by denying them access to health care. That’s why tRump put a queerphobic extremist in charge of Health & Human Service’s Office of Civil Rights. And why resisting every single thing about this fucking sewer of a political party should be reflexive.

This week, President Donald Trump quietly appointed anti-LGBTQ activist Roger Severino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR), an office whose work he has actively opposed.

In his previous role as Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society for the Heritage Foundation, Severino spoke out against the civil rights protections he will now be tasked with upholding and supported the wholesale repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“By appointing Mr. Severino to enforce the life-saving protections that he has made his personal mission to dismantle, the Trump administration has once again put the fox in charge of the hen house,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), in a statement.

While at the Heritage Foundation, he authored a report opposing the OCR’s implementation of a portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) known as the 1557 rule, which prohibited discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, and sex in federally-funded health programs.

Will Sociopathic Clowns Be Able to Take Health Insurance From 24 Million People to Pay For Upper-Class Tax Cuts? An Open Thread

[ 151 ] March 24, 2017 |

ap_17075598434788“The leads are weak.” “Fuckin’ leads are weak? YOU’RE weak.”

The Upshot has an updated whip count. As of now, the state of play:

This isn’t to say that we should be too confident that it’s going down. The ACA looked dead many times. As a colleague observed, though, in American political history it’s much more common for comprehensive health care bills to look dead because they’re dead.

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