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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Who's Happy About The Tax Bill?

by Spocko
I'm depressed. Watching a video of a conservative focus group making excuses for why they are voting for Roy Moore pushed me, an emotionless Vulcan, to the edge. I needed help. I needed to see some videos of happy people to cheer me up.

So I went looking for videos of people who were happy about the future. Somebody must be, right?

Maybe there were videos of the the people who wrote the Republican bill that restructured our tax code.  Surely those people are happy.

I figured I would find videos of lobbyists talking about how happy they are with the part of the bill they wrote and got inserted into the bill.

But which ones? I had over 6,200 to chose from.
"In all, 6,243 lobbyists have been listed on lobbying disclosure forms as working on issues involving the word 'tax' through the first three quarters of 2017, according to Public Citizen's analysis of a massive data download provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org)
Vox says the big four corporate lobbyists were, Comcast, Microsoft, Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris), and NextEra Energy. Maybe NBC has video of Comcast lobbyists popping champagne and explaining how the tax bill is good news for the network. But I couldn't find any.

Maybe someone identified the lobbyist who hand wrote the page that Elizabeth Warren talked about in this video.

I couldn't even find the name of the person, let alone a video of them happily explaining their success getting their change into the bill. My Google fu had failed me.

Maybe it would help me to find out who these people are, why they are doing what they are doing and what they believe. Out of those thousands of lobbyist I'll bet there are a bunch that are working for the people. Environmental lobbyists. Lobbyists working to make sure the tax code doesn't hurt widows and orphans.

The Vox story points out NextEra Energy lobbied to keep solar energy credits. That seems like a good thing to fight for. If I looked hard I could probably find a story about lobbyists who help people other than the super rich.  What if we found out that 20% percent of them are lobbying for good causes?

What if I found out that the good lobbyists messed up the bill on purpose, causing it to be delayed, so the truth of the bill would come, therefore out scuttling it. Wouldn't that be great?

But I couldn't find that any of that. So instead here is a video of happy women singing a Christmas song. Merry Christmas!

Where did Roy Moore learn to speak Russian?
by digby

Watch this all the way through to the end. It's short.

There's nothing wrong with fluently speaking a foreign language of course. Maybe he's one of those people who just picks them up easily. But it seems unlikely, don't you think? The only time he spent overseas was in Vietnam and a year in Australia.

It's just ... surprising.

Update: Ah. I missed the part of the Guardian piece which says he learned the greeting at West Point.  Never mind ...


Was the terrorism fever breaking?

by digby

Fareed Zakaria mentioned the following report from a few months back on his show today:

Terrorist attacks and deaths were on the decline worldwide for the second year in a row in 2016, according to a report issued by the U.S. State Department on Wednesday.

However, ISIS was the largest perpetrator of attacks in the world last year, the report added.

The Country Reports on Terrorism is a congressionally mandated analysis released annually by the State Department.

The newest report shows that year-over-year terror attacks were down nine 9 percent and deaths caused by terrorist attacks decreased 13 percent.

The cause for the overall decrease stems from fewer attacks being carried out in Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen, although an uptick was noted in some countries including Iraq, Somalia and Turkey.

Still, the majority of attacks — 55 percent — took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and the Philippines, and 75 percent of the deaths took place in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Maybe you already knew this but I didn't. The number of attacks had decreased by similar numbers in the year before.

It may not mean much. After all, terrorism doesn't require big numbers to have its desired effect. Still, you do wonder if maybe this fever is starting to burn itself out a little bit. Or was, until the idiot Trump decided this was the time to move the embassy to Jerusalem:

Within the administration,key voices of support came from Pence, Kushner and Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador at the United Nations.

Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, had supported the move from early in Trump’s candidacy, and Pence, who is to visit Israel this month, told Trump that his base would love the decision, something the president liked to hear.

An important outside voice advising Trump to make the leap was Adelson’s, according to several people familiar with the two men’s conversations. At a White House dinner earlier this year, Adelson made the issue a main topic, one person said. In the months that followed, Adelson periodically asked others close to Trump what was causing the delay and expressed frustration, these people said.

At the same time, other Trump advisers were making their case against the move. Most prominent among them were Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Tillerson, mindful of the death of four Americans in militant attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, “pushed back vocally,” one White House official said. Already at odds with Trump over other aspects of the president’s approach to the Middle East, Tillerson argued that the move could unleash a dangerous chain reaction across the region.

R.C. Hammond, a Tillerson adviser, said Tillerson and Mattis requested time to evaluate U.S. outposts and fortify them if necessary.

Some outside confidants, including billionaire Tom Barrack, urged Trump to hold off, worried that the move would deepen regional tensions caused by Saudi Arabia’s political shake-up and Iran’s growing reach.

“It’s insane. We’re all resistant,” said one Trump confidant who recently spoke to the president about it. “He doesn’t realize what all he could trigger by doing this.”

While Trump appeared to have made up his mind, he continued to solicit input, two White House officials said, even asking random acquaintances about the Middle East in recent months.

Several advisers said he did not seem to have a full understanding of the issue and instead appeared to be focused on “seeming pro-Israel,” in the words of one, and “making a deal,” in the words of another.

F-ing moron strikes again. Fire and fury ...

Yes, they're still convinced Obama is a Muslim
by digby

Party identification determines many beliefs. One that remains a bright line between Republicans and the rest of the country is the one championed by President Trump in the years before he ran for office: Where was President Obama born? Most American adults disbelieve the claim that the former President was born in Kenya, but nearly one in three American adults say that it is definitely or probably true that he was. More Republicans – 51% – believe that to be the case.

Their leader agrees:

In recent months, they say, Mr. Trump has used closed-door conversations to question the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. He has also repeatedly claimed that he lost the popular vote last year because of widespread voter fraud, according to advisers and lawmakers.

One senator who listened as the president revived his doubts about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate chuckled on Tuesday as he recalled the conversation. The president, he said, has had a hard time letting go of his claim that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States. The senator asked not to be named to discuss private conversations.

This is crazy. 50% of Republicans believe it's either possible or it's true. I don't know how we survive as a nation with that many people being brainwashed. That represents tens of millions, not just a little handful.


"I would never kill reporters"

by digby

Remember this?

Aaaand this:
Hitting the Sunday morning shows, Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway sought to downplay the fracas while highlighting what she called the president’s “unfair” treatment.

“I don’t think, ultimately, presidents are judged by crowd sizes at their inauguration. I think they’re judged by their accomplishments,” Conway said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” before going on to say, “I think it is a symbol for the unfair and incomplete treatment that this president often receives.”

She also tried to defend press secretary Sean Spicer, who called reporters to the White House briefing room on Saturday night to accuse the media of "deliberately false reporting," while delivering a statement on crowd size that was riddled with inaccuracies.

When asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" why Spicer used falsehoods during the statement, Conway offered an explanation that quickly went viral.

"You're saying it's a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that," she said.

Yes. The "alternative facts" comment was about crowd size.

Spicer has taken heat for his main claim that "this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe," while offering other inaccurate statements including that Trump's was the first inauguration in which white floor coverings were used on the mall. White floor coverings were used during Obama's second inauguration in 2013.

Spicer also used misleading numbers to highlight Metro ridership, comparing essentially half-day statistics for Obama’s last inauguration to longer-day statistics for Trump’s...

Trump even hijacked a speech in front of the Langley Memorial wall at the CIA headquarters that was intended to patch up his relationship with the intelligence community. Instead, he delivered a strongly political speech that exaggerated the inaugural crowd size and blasted the “dishonest media.”

Yesterday, this happened:
President Donald Trump called for a Washington Post journalist to be fired Saturday over an erroneous tweet about his crowd size. The reporter quickly apologized for the mix-up and had deleted the tweet, because that’s generally what you do when you make mistakes. Except when you’re Trump, who has throughout his tenure has refused to back down from even the most obvious falsities. 
Trump fired off a pair of tweets attacking Post reporter Dave Weigel over a “phony photo” of an empty arena ahead of his Friday rally in Pensacola, Florida. “Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo!” he wrote
In a separate tweet, he asserted Weigel should be fired.
Yes, the man who has lied repeatedly about his (crowd) size wants a reporter fired for a quickly corrected tweet on his personal account. But then Trump is all about getting reporters fired.

Someone on twitter reminded me of this:
Putin to Bush: You Fired Dan Rather

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, February 28, 2005; 11:43 AM

President Bush may try to manipulate, work around and undermine the American press -- but he certainly doesn't have as much control over the media as Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently thinks he does.] 
In an odd exchange during the private meeting that preceded their joint news conference on Thursday, a defensive Putin reportedly expressed his belief that Bush fired CBS News anchor Dan Rather.

Richard Wolffe writes in Newsweek: "It was meant to be a heart-to-heart: just the two presidents and their translators, sitting alone inside the historic castle that overlooks the Slovak capital of Bratislava. Four years earlier, in another castle in Central Europe, George W. Bush looked Vladimir Putin in the eye and saw his trustworthy soul. But what he saw inside Putin last week was far less comforting. When Bush confronted his Russian counterpart about the freedom of the press in Russia, Putin shot back with an attack of his own: 'We didn't criticize you when you fired those reporters at CBS.' 
"It's not clear how well Putin understands the controversy that led to the dismissal of four CBS journalists over the discredited report on Bush's National Guard service. Yet it's all too clear how Putin sees the relationship between Bush and the American media -- just like his own. Bush's aides have long feared that former KGB officers in Putin's inner circle are painting a twisted picture of U.S. policy. So Bush explained how he had no power to fire American journalists. It made little difference. When the two presidents emerged for their joint press conference, one Russian reporter repeated Putin's language about journalists getting fired. Bush (already hot after an earlier question about his spying on U.S. citizens) asked the reporter if he felt free. 'They obviously planted the question,' said one of Bush's senior aides." 
John F. Dickerson writes in Time: "George Bush knew Vladimir Putin would be defensive when Bush brought up the pace of democratic reform in Russia in their private meeting at the end of Bush's four-day, three-city tour of Europe. But when Bush talked about the Kremlin's crackdown on the media and explained that democracies require a free press, the Russian leader gave a rebuttal that left the President nonplussed. If the press was so free in the U.S., Putin asked, then why had those reporters at CBS lost their jobs? Bush was openmouthed. 'Putin thought we'd fired Dan Rather,' says a senior Administration official. 'It was like something out of 1984.' "

Yeah well, we've moved way past "1984". We're in "Brave New World "territory now.



Make Armageddon Great Again

by digby

Trump's rally last Friday in Pensacola was pretty typical: creepy, stupid and frightening. But I want to highlight one of the people who introduced him. I think this was a telling moment:

A conservative politician at President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida suggested that the president’s controversial decision to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may usher in the biblical end times.

Republican state Senator Doug Broxson represents the Florida Panhandle in the legislature and gave an introductory speech welcoming President Trump to Florida.

“Now, I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Jerusalem — where the King of Kings [applause] where our soon coming King is coming back to Jerusalem, it is because President Trump declared Jerusalem to be capitol of Israel,” Sen. Broxson predicted.

Go to 33:00 to see how he said it and hear the audience reaction.

This guy is saying out lous that Trump declaring Jerusalem the capitol of Israel will bring on Armageddon and the Second Coming. And this audience of Trump loving Real Americans cheers wildly.

Now, if this were an audience of secular people you might just think they're cheering for tax cuts or "the wall" or "lock her up." But this is one issue Trump's conservative evangelical base knows more about than Trump or the rest of us. They read the Bible, they hear about it in church.

They are cheering for the end of the world.

I think a good many of those Trump voters see him as the hand of God.

I'm surprised nobody has pointed out that Satan is a master of deception.


The most chilling question you will hear all day

by digby

From Amy Davidson in the New Yorker:

The Republicans have a fifty-two-seat majority, meaning that Moore’s presence would be helpful but, in terms of control of the chamber, not decisive. What would they tolerate in order to secure the fifty-first vote?

I hadn't thought about it quite like that before. They don't actually need him. But they are all whoring themselves out for a batshit crazy molester who makes Louis Gohmert look like Eisenhower by comparison anyway. How low would they go if they really needed that vote?

I know. There is no bottom. But their embrace of him despite the fact that his presence won't make or break their majority is really telling. They'll back Trumpists no matter what. He won't be the last.


Wars and rumors of wars

by Tom Sullivan

Foreboding signs of what the next period of American history have in store are still sinking in.

Last week brought a 20-year conviction for ex-cop Michael Slager for shooting unarmed Walter Scott as he ran after a traffic stop in North Charleston, SC. But in Mesa, AZ, a jury acquitted ex-cop Philip Brailsford of murder in the shooting a sobbing unarmed suspect, Daniel Shaver, in a hotel hallway. The body-cam video released after the ruling looked to untrained eyes more like summary execution than a justified response to a threat. All the threats were coming from Brailsford. Scott was black. Shaver was white.

The same day as the ruling in Mesa, former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, 85, announced he was considering a run for U.S. Senate to fill the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, a fellow Republican. President Trump pardoned Arpaio after his conviction for criminal contempt for refusing to stop detaining and imprisoning suspected undocumented immigrants.

"And he will win, too," wrote Dave Neiwert of the Southern Poverty Law Center in a personal Facebook post. "Authoritarianism is upon us, and we are in denial."

Even with the burst of new progressive energy of the kind that helped Democrats win big in Virginia last month, the left is still trying to find its footing in Trump's America. A diatribe against the FBI last night by Fox News' Judge Jeanine Pirro was breathtaking. During the 2006 campaign, I caught two minutes of Glenn Beck and knew CNN had given a professional propagandist his own show. Pirro makes Beck look like Captain Kangaroo.

Dahlia Lithwick wrote last week she worried that in pushing Sen. Al Franken out of the Senate, Democrats were "self-neutering in the face of unprecedented threats, in part to do the right thing and in part to take ammunition away from the right—a maneuver that never seems to work out these days." But in a podcast, she added that Democrats doing the honorable thing and believing the other side would meet them halfway results in them getting "pantsed every single time." Process matters, she argues.

It's hard if you are not a nihilist and you believe in systems and you believe in institutions when they don't do what they are meant to do ... I think we have to figure out how to fix institutions and how to create systems that redound to our benefit. And here's why. If you don't, if you go for the full on nihilist, let's just throw everybody who may or may not be a predator out, it doesn't ever help women and minorities. It doesn't ever help people that have no power when you break a system.
Democrats, she argues, should be defending systems in the face of a movement that's reducing them to Potemkin villages.

Thomas Edsall backs up Lithwick's analysis in the New York Times on Thursday, writing:
Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, observes that “believers in liberal democracy have unilaterally disarmed in the defense of the institution” by agreeing in many cases with the premise of the Trump campaign: “that the country is a hopeless swamp.” This left Democrats “defenseless when he proposed to drain it.”
Pinker asks, bolstering Michael Tomasky's defense of the liberal project:
... are the liberals who are willing to say that liberal democracy has worked? That environmental regulations have slashed air pollutants while allowing Americans to drive more miles and burn more fuel? That social transfers have reduced poverty rates fivefold? That globalization has allowed Americans to afford more food, clothing, TVs, cars, and air-conditioners? That international organizations have prevented nuclear war, and reduced the rate of death in warfare by 90 percent? That environmental treaties are healing the hole in the ozone layer?
But Democrats have not come to terms with their own role in the backlash that is Trump, writes Edsall. Karen Stenner, author of "The Authoritarian Dynamic" tells Edsall features of liberal democracy such as "absolutely unfettered freedom and diversity; acceptance and promotion of multiculturalism; allowing retention of separate identities; maintenance of separate communities, lifestyles and values;" etc. are sharply contested in many parts of the country.

Stenner adds, "liberal democracy’s allowance of these things inevitably creates conditions of 'normative threat,' arousing the classic authoritarian fears about threats to oneness and sameness, which activate those predispositions — about a third of most western populations lean toward authoritarianism — and cause the increased manifestation of racial, moral and political intolerance."

In essence, liberalizing forces, not just cultural opening, but globalization, arouse the very hostility we now see, whether or not the changes in the culture will eventually become more widely adopted. As America saw with marriage equality, much of the country turned on a proverbial dime to accepting it. But even as Michael Tomasky argues that, contrary to the right's narrative, it is red America that is out of touch with the dynamism of blue states, red states feel their way of life threatened by that change and others beyond their control. Some of that is economic, but it goes deeper than that.

Writer and political consultant Eric Schnurer tells Edsall that Trumpist anger is part economic, part demographic, and part cultural. But the modern economy that has prospered much of blue America has had a deleterious effect in red-states:
This is a classic political problem of general benefit at the cost of specific individual harm. At a minimum, “we” — as a country but also as a self-styled progressive subset of that country — have given inadequate thought to those harms and how to ameliorate them; but I think you can also make the argument that we have exacerbated them.
Perhaps red-state voters hear the economic equivalent of "get over it" from areas promoting greater diversity and prospering from shifts in the economy. But given the structure of our system of federalism, red state legislatures and red-state governors dominate. Their voters' concerns cannot be brushed aside without consequence.

Edsall writes, "The problem is that even if Pinker is right, his analysis does not preclude a sustained period in which the anti-democratic right dominates American politics. There is no telling how long it will be before the movement Trump has mobilized will have run its course."

Or how much damage it might do before then, he adds.

But there are genies and there are bottles. Some of the changes to which red-state America object are made possible not by haughty liberals, but by technological advances that cannot be uninvented. The Internet makes global business possible, not just unfavorable trade rules. The technology allowed shunned minority groups to find each other and organize for full recognition. As I've argued, if conservatives want to return to the halycon days they imagine of women staying at home with the kids while dad goes to work, they are better off not getting angry at the left or at blacks or immigrants, but at cars and televisions. But as humans, we identify enemies with faces. And we like our cars and our televisions.

In 1989, as the Chinese government tried to suppress the Tiananmen Square protests, its ability to keep a lid on its crackdown was, if I recall, undermined by the now nearly obsolete fax machine. Efforts afoot to restrict the Internet may similarly fail. The changes people fear may be unstoppable, but efforts to ameliorate the harm have been weak, as well as our defense of the basic structures that have held this country together. Conservative politicians have used the anger their own policies have generated to further their careers. The left needs to do more to recognize the sources of the backlash and work more at defusing it.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Saturday Night at the Movies

Blu Xmas: Best BD re-issues of 2017, pt. 2

By Dennis Hartley

Since it’s now post Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Tuesday Afternoon and Wednesday Morning 3am, I thought I’d toss out gift ideas, with more picks for the best Blu-ray reissues of 2017. Most titles are released concurrent with an SD edition, so if you don’t have a Blu-ray player, don’t despair. Any reviews based on Region “B” editions (which require a multi-region Blu-ray player) are noted as such; the good news is that multi-region players are now more affordable! So here you go, in alphabetical order:

Barry Lyndon (Criterion Collection) – Stanley Kubrick’s beautifully constructed, leisurely paced adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s rags-to-riches-to-rags tale about a roguish Irishman (Ryan O’Neal) who grifts his way into the English aristocracy is akin to watching 18th-century paintings come to life (to its detractors, about as exciting as being forced to stare at a painting for 3 hours, strapped to a chair). This magnificent 1975 film has improved with age, like a fine wine; successive viewings prove the legends about Kubrick’s obsession with the minutest of details regarding production design were not exaggerated-every frame is steeped in verisimilitude. Michael Hordern’s delightfully droll voice over work as The Narrator rescues the proceedings from sliding into staidness.

Criterion’s superb 4K restoration is a vast improvement over Warner’s 2011 Blu-ray release; finally giving full due to one of the most visually resplendent costume dramas of all time. Criterion also packed in the extras on this one, including new and archival interviews with cast and crew, as well as featurettes covering everything from cinematography, production design, costume design to critical reappraisal. A must-have.

(Criterion Collection) – You know how the song goes: “England swings like a pendulum do”. And nobody swung the arthouse in the 60s like Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni. Combine the acid-dazed op art splendor of 1966 London with Antonioni’s predilection for enigmatic narrative, and out pops this colorful mindbender. A “mod” photographer (David Hemmings) is wandering around a public park and espies a lovely young woman (Vanessa Redgrave) who is acting a bit erratic. Intrigued, he shoots a series of photos. When he develops them, he realizes that he may have inadvertently documented a crime. What ensues is part mystery-thriller and part youth-ploitation flick. Look for a great scene in a club where The Yardbirds (featuring Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck) rave it up! Also in the cast: Sarah Miles, Jane Birkin, and Verushka.

The Day of the Jackal (Arrow Video; Region “B”) – “Conspiracy a-go go” films don’t get any better than Fred Zinnemann’s taut political thriller. Adapted from Frederick Forsyth’s eponymous 1971 bestseller, this 1973 film (set in 1962) takes you on a chilling “ride-along” with a professional assassin (Edward Fox) who is hired by a French right-wing extremist group to kill President Charles de Gaulle. It’s a real nail-biter from start to finish, intelligently written and well-crafted. While it undoubtedly was not his intent, Zinnemann’s docu-realism regarding the hitman’s meticulous prep work and coolly detached social engineering methodology at times plays like a “how-to” guide (shudder). Arrow’s print is the best I’ve seen of this film. Among the extras: a new interview with a Zinnemann biographer, and Kenneth Ross’ entire original screenplay (CD ROM content).

Lost in America (Criterion Collection) – Released at the height of Reaganomics, this 1985 gem can now be viewed in hindsight as a spot-on satirical smack down of the Yuppie cosmology that shaped the Decade of Greed. Director/co-writer Albert Brooks and Julie Hagerty portray a 30-something, upwardly mobile couple who quit their high-paying jobs, liquidate their assets, buy a Winnebago, and hit the road to “find themselves”; they’ll “touch Indians” (with a “nest egg” of $145,000). Due to unforeseen circumstances, the “egg” is soon off the table, and the couple find themselves on the receiving end of “trickle down”, to Brooks’ chagrin. Like all of Brooks’ movies, it is at once painfully funny and painful to watch (he paved the way for Larry David and Ricky Gervais). Criterion’s extras are a bit skimpy here, but the new 2K restoration is fabulous.

Mickey One (Indicator Limited Edition; all-region) – Arthur Penn’s 1965 existential film noir stars Warren Beatty as a standup comic who is on the run from the mob. The ultimate intent of this pursuit is never made 100% clear (is it a “hit”, or just a debt collection?), but one thing is certain: viewers will find themselves becoming as unsettled as the twitchy, paranoid protagonist. It’s a Kafkaesque nightmare, with echoes of Godard’s Breathless. A true rarity-an American art film, photographed in expressive, moody chiaroscuro by DP Ghislain Cloquet (who also did the cinematography for Bresson’s classic Au Hasard Balthazar and Woody Allen’s Love and Death). Nice transfer. Extras include a 40-page booklet and a new interview with Penn’s son Matthew.

Sid & Nancy (Criterion Collection) – The ultimate love story…for nihilists. Director Alex Cox has never been accused of subtlety, and there’s certainly a glorious lack of it here in his over-the-top 1986 biopic about the doomed relationship between Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb chew all the available scenery as they shoot up, turn on and check out. It is a bit of a downer, but the cast is great, and Cox (who co-scripted with Abbe Wool) injects a fair amount of dark comedy (“Eeew, Sid! I look like fuckin’ Stevie Nicks in hippie clothes!”). The movie also benefits from outstanding cinematography by Roger Deakins, which is really brought to the fore in Criterion’s 4K restoration. Extras include a 1987 doc on the making of the film, and the “infamous” 1976 Sex Pistols TV interview with Bill Grundy.

Stormy Monday
(Arrow Video; Region “B”) – I have to admit, I geeked out a little when I heard that Mike Figgis’ tightly-scripted, gorgeously-photographed 1988 Brit-noir (his feature directorial debut) was finally getting the high-def home video treatment that it so richly deserves. Sean Bean stars as a restless young drifter who blows into Newcastle and falls in with a local jazz club owner (Sting). Right about the same time, a shady American businessman with mob ties (Tommy Lee Jones) arrives to muscle in on a land development deal, accompanied by his ex-mistress/current P.A. (Melanie Griffith). As romantic sparks begin to fly between Bean and Griffith, the mobster puts the thumbscrews to the club owner, who stands in the way of the development scheme by refusing to sell. Things get complicated. This is one of my favorite 80s sleepers; a criminally underseen and underrated gem. Arrow’s sparkling transfer is a revelation; a great showcase for cinematographer Roger Deakins’ work here, which rates among his best. Extras include an interesting “then and now” tour of the Newcastle film locations.

Tampopo (Criterion Collection) – Self billed as “The first Japanese noodle western”, this 1987 entry from writer-director Juzo Itami is all that and more. Nobuko Niyamoto is superb as the eponymous character, a widow who has inherited her late husband’s noodle house. Despite her dedication and effort to please customers, Tampopo struggles to keep the business afloat, until a deux ex machina arrives-a truck driver named Goro (Tsutomo Yamazaki). After one taste, Goro pinpoints the problem-bland noodles. No worries-like the magnanimous stranger who blows into an old western town (think Shane). Goro takes Tampopo on as a personal project, mentoring her on the Zen of creating the perfect noodle bowl. A delight from start to finish, offering keen insight on the relationship between food, sex and love. Criterion’s edition features a nicely restored print and a generous helping of extras, including Rubber Band Pistol, Itami’s 1962 debut short film.

Previous posts with related themes:

Best Blu-ray reissues of 2017, pt. 1
Criterion reissues The Front Page and His Girl Friday

More reviews at Den of Cinema

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--Dennis Hartley

It's just trolling right? They can't really believe this
by digby


Kayleigh McEnany is an educated person. The obvious contempt these people hold for Republican voters is really something. You know she knows better:

McEnany was educated at the Academy of the Holy Names, a private Catholic college preparatory school for girls (co-educational up to eighth grade), in the city of Tampa in western Florida, followed by Georgetown University School of Foreign Service with a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) in International Politics, in Washington, D.C. She also spent a year studying at St Edmund Hall, a constituent college of the University of Oxford, in England. McEnany studied at the University of Miami School of Law and then transferred to Harvard Law School, where she received a JD in May 2016.


Oh, what's one less vote in congress anyway, amirite?

by digby

Well this is working out nicely:

Michigan’s Republican governor announced Friday that Democrat John Conyers’ congressional seat will not be filled until the regularly scheduled November election, leaving it vacant for nearly a year.

Gov. Rick Snyder decided the post will be listed twice on the August primary and November general election ballots. While unlikely, it is possible voters could choose one candidate to fill the vacancy until January 2019 and elect another to a full two-year term after that.

It is unusual for a congressional district to stay vacant for so long, according to a review of roughly 100 vacancies and successors listed on the House website for the last 20 years. The longest time a seat stayed empty was about 10 months — both in 2014, when Rep. Melvin Watt of North Carolina left to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and 2006, when Rep. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was appointed to the Senate.

In case you were wondering there are whole lot more Republican governors than Democratic. So as more dominoes fall, as they surely will, I'd guess you can count on this happening in any Republican run state that has the option of delaying replacement of a Democrat as long as possible so they can ram through Trump's carnage agenda. Wonderful.



"This system? Gonna be a lotta changes"

by digby

What kind of changes, you ask? Well, he's talking about the legal system as it pertains to him. Because it's "rigged" against him:

I guess this is where the privatized spy network comes in?



QOTD: him

by digby

“With us [the market] goes up, and with them it goes down, and that’s the end of the election."

Will people forgive everything if the economy is roaring? Is he right? Economic determinists say that material well-being is the key everything so if the economy roars under Trump and more people are feeling flush, well ...

Hey, maybe he'll build a really nice highway.


The people who destroyed the world

by digby

Here they are. The Real Americans who voted for Donald Trump, the most powerful man in the world:

We are doomed.



by digby

To the victors go he spoils!

A uranium company launched a concerted lobbying campaign to scale back Bears Ears National Monument, saying such action would give it easier access to the area’s uranium deposits and help it operate a nearby processing mill, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and top Utah Republicans have said repeatedly that questions of mining or drilling played no role in President Trump’s announcement Monday that he was cutting the site by more than 1.1 million acres, or 85 percent. Trump also signed a proclamation nearly halving the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is also in southern Utah and has significant coal deposits.

“This is not about energy,” Zinke told reporters Tuesday. “There is no mine within Bears Ears.”

But the nation’s sole uranium processing mill sits directly next to the boundaries that President Barack Obama designated a year ago when he established Bears Ears. The documents show that Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, urged the Trump administration to limit the monument to the smallest size needed to protect key objects and areas, such as archeological sites, to make it easier to access the radioactive ore.

You have to love the fact that it's a Canadian company. You can't make this stuff up.


The Saffron Don

by Tom Sullivan

Amidst worries that the White House in concert with its Murdoch-media enablers are stockpiling rhetorical weapons for the final assault on Robert Mueller, Walter Shapiro offers a couple little rays of sunshine. It's been a tough week. You need them.

"Right now ... we are unbeatable, we are unbeatable,” the sitting president told 400 donors at Cipriani restaurant on 42nd Street in New York. That's some mighty big boasting from a New Yorker who rose to prominence about the same time as another infamous "Don" ("I bet ya 3 to 1 I beat this.") from the Big Apple. It is the stock market and jobs numbers that make him invincible, he boasted. But Shapiro writes that other numbers point to "not so much":

Mitch McConnell's rush to ram the tax-break bill through the Senate was another sign of weakness since it was predicated on fears that Democrat Doug Jones would win the December 12 special election in Alabama. Even though McConnell inaccurately claims that every voter would save on taxes, a new Quinnipiac University Poll found that voters disapproved of the legislation by a lopsided 53-to-29-percent margin. Even more politically damaging for the Republicans is the belief by 61 percent of the electorate that the tax bill favors the rich.

By the way, these polling numbers do not have "unbeatable" written all over them. Rather the words that might better be associated with these survey statistics are "one-term president" and "former House Speaker Paul Ryan." Without minimizing gerrymandering, respected political analysts like Kyle Kondik at Sabato's Crystal Ball give the Democrats a 50-50 chance of winning back the House. And if Roy Moore is defeated in Alabama, there is a plausible scenario under which the Democrats could end up with a 51-to-49 Senate majority in 2019.
One obstacle to that is too many activists I know are of the "Visualize World Peace" variety who'd rather not get their hands dirty. Somehow positive intentions, the intensity of their feelings, and superior command of facts are supposed to carry the day. Even if those actually had power against the money and relentless negative messaging on the right, they have no motive force in front of a computer screen or television. Fortunately, boots on the ground can trump money in the bank (advice I've been giving since long before the current administration). Winning back the House and Senate will take work. Yeah, work. And, yes, the Democratic Party seems mighty puny, old-boy, and hidebound about now. And its network of consultants recommend tactics that pay their salaries rather than win elections (just look at Jon Ossoffs godawful TV ads, for heaven's sake). But it is lack of new blood — yours, maybe — that keeps that system in place and will keep Ryan and McConnell and The Saffron Don in place.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Friday, December 08, 2017


Friday Night Soother

by digby

A little Christmas present thief:



Can it be that Newt Gingrich is a hypocritical hack?

by digby

Say it ain't so!!!

May 18, 2017:

Here he is this week:

“Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt,” former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Wednesday night.

In case you were wondering, here's a little taste of what's being broadcast on Fox News 24/7:

SEAN HANNITY: Our mutual friend Mark Levin calls this a 'Post-Constitutional Republic,' this is now becoming a Banana Republic if this stays. Where do we go from here with what we now know?

NEWT GINGRICH: I haven't given up on America. I don't think Donald Trump has given up on America... most of our viewers haven't.

What we now know is the swamp is sicker, more corrupt, more dishonest than we thought it was.

So, we just have to dig deeper, throw the rascals out. Realize the election of 2018 is going to be truly historic. Between a radical left that is stunningly corrupt, and the rest of us.

This is a real fight for whether or not America is going to remain a Republic that is ruled by law, or whether it is going to degenerate into being a purely corrupt system of power, where if you're on the right team you can rip everybody off and be protected, if you're on the wrong team you can go to jail if you're innocent.

I think that is how serious and how profound this is right now. It is one of the great historic moments in American history.

And this:

Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said Robert Mueller's probe into President Donald Trump is "illegitimate and corrupt."

Jarrett made the remarks citing revelations that FBI Agent Peter Strzok and attorney Andrew Weissmann may have demonstrated bias against Trump.

"Mueller has been using the FBI as a political weapon," he said. "The FBI has become America's secret police."

Jarrett compared the way FBI agents entered Paul Manafort's house while he was in bed to the way the KGB "came for you in the dark of night."

He said people like Strzok were examples of agents engaging in otherwise rogue political activity.

"He's the tip of the iceberg," Jarrett said.

When I say it is Bizarro World I'm not kidding.

I know it's hard, but I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to watch Hannity or Ingraham. It's important to understand just how serious they are and how hysterical they are.They are clearly doing it to prepare their audience for Mueller's firing and the ensuing constitutional crisis that will come of it. But there's more to it than that. Trump is heavily influenced by what he sees on Fox and it warps his already poor judgement. So far, his lawyers have been able to keep him from doing what he obviously wants to do. This is designed to persuade him to go ahead and do it.



The granny-starver is working the pussy-grabber

by digby

I don't know if they'll actually get this done but I would hope that Democrats would feature Ryan pushing it in their ads next fall:

Two days after the 2016 election, Paul Ryan gave a surprising interview on Fox News in which he declared the Republican agenda would include cuts to retirement programs. “If you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. …Medicare has got some serious issues because of Obamacare.” This has not happened. But Ryan has not given up the dream. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan told radio talk-show host Ross Kaminsky. “Frankly, it’s the health-care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health-care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”

Trump, of course, promised during the campaign not to touch Medicare. “Many of these candidates want to cut it,” he said, but insisted he would bring so much growth cuts would not be necessary.

However, Ryan is trying to work on that. Ryan told Kaminsky he is lobbying Trump to support his plan. “Do you get the sense that you’re making a little bit of an impact on him when you talk to him about the importance of Medicare reform?” asked Kaminsky. “I do,” replied Ryan. “I think the president is understanding that choice and competition works everywhere in health care, especially in Medicare.”

Trump will do it if he wants to and it will have nothing to do with any normal calculation. It's true that he promised not to but he promised a lot of things.

DOJ tells America's second largest city to get lost

by digby

Yesterday I noted that the radical Republicans rolled back the deductions for natural disasters that only happen out west and particularly in Blue States --- wildfires and earthquakes. Ok. maybe that's just being paranoid. But this really seems to indicate that the Trump administration is intent upon punishing California for failing to bow down to his greatness:

In 2015, a community policing initiative — one credited with helping curb violence in some of L.A.’s toughest housing projects — scored the Los Angeles Police Department high-level praise.

A captain and a sergeant who led the program were invited to Washington, D.C., earning coveted seats near the first lady during President Obama’s State of the Union address.

This year, L.A. officials applied for more than $3 million in federal funding to help bring the same program to Harvard Park, a South L.A. neighborhood scarred by violence.

The request was denied.

The U.S. Department of Justice hasn’t offered the LAPD an explanation of why the department didn’t receive any of the $98 million in grants recently awarded to scores of law enforcement agencies across the nation. A spokesman for the federal agency declined to comment when asked by The Times last week.

But after the Trump administration’s repeated threats to withhold federal money from cities that don’t cooperate with its immigration crackdown, some LAPD officials said they believe the move was retaliatory — and a troubling sign of what could come.

If this is the tip of the iceberg, we’re going to set back law enforcement and policing and public safety by decades.
— L.A. Police Commission President Steve Soboroff
Steve Soboroff, president of the civilian Police Commission that oversees the LAPD, said that he believes the Justice Department denied the funding request because of the LAPD’s well-publicized, hands-off approach to immigration enforcement. Soboroff said he worries future funding may also be at risk.

“Community policing is what policing’s all about. Militaristic policing, immigrant harassment is not,” he said. “By ignoring that, or prioritizing it beneath their issue of sanctuary cities and cooperation with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] — the priorities are wrong.”

“If this is the tip of the iceberg, we’re going to set back law enforcement and policing and public safety by decades,” he added.

The LAPD had planned to use the money to hire 25 officers for the community policing program in Harvard Park, one of the city’s deadliest neighborhoods. The roughly half-mile area saw eight homicides in 2016, nearly triple the number from the year before. So far this year, six people have been killed.

Officers assigned to the LAPD’s Community Safety Partnership program focus on getting to know residents instead of making arrests. They coach sports teams and lead mentoring programs. The goal is to foster a real relationship between the police and the community — one in which officers and residents know each other by name and work together to make the neighborhood safer.

The strategy, police say, has paid off. Violent crime dropped by more than 50% and arrests were cut in half during the program’s first three years in three Watts housing developments, officials have said. Police also credit the program for a three-year stretch without a homicide in Jordan Downs, one of the developments.

Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill said she was “curious — to say the least — about what program could have been more deserving.”

Why did they do this? Well, they didn't exactly try to hide their reasons:

In announcing the grant awards last month, the Justice Department noted that 80% of the agencies that received funds earned extra points “based on their certifications of willingness to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.”

L.A. did not sign that certification, LAPD officials said.

The decision to tie federal funding to immigration enforcement has already prompted a flurry of coast-to-coast legal challenges, including those filed by L.A.’s city attorney and California’s attorney general.

The lawsuits have largely focused on two grants awarded by the Justice Department: one administered through Community Oriented Policing Services office, which the LAPD was just denied; and a second, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which has brought L.A. more than $1 million during each of the last few fiscal years.

Opponents allege the executive branch is overstepping its constitutional authority by attaching new rules to the grants without congressional approval. They also contend that cities are safer when immigrants are willing to talk to local police without fear of deportation.

City Atty. Mike Feuer, who filed a lawsuit this fall, said putting civil immigration enforcement requirements on grants designed to improve community policing was “ironic — and at worst, very dangerous.”

​​​“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure our city is as safe as possible and not let this undermine public safety,” he said.

LA is one of the most diverse cities in the world. And it is obviously full of Mexican immigrants, legal and undocumented. The millions of people who live here are not have a hissy fit over it. Indeed, our diversity is celebrated and encouraged and the economy is flourishing.

I'm sorry there are places in America that are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of foreigners who don't look exactly like them coming into their communities. But that's no reason to take it out on us.

But that isn't the only reason they are doing this. Trump and Sessions don't believe in community policing, they believe in police taking the gloves off and dominating the community with sheer force and firepower. So anything that doesn't fit their desire for total dominance is considered a waste.

California still has 14 asshole House Republicans who are enabling this president and his administration's despicable treatment of Californians. It's time to get rid of every last one of them.



32% and falling fast

by digby

This is the lowest sustained approval rating of any president since they started polling.

Unfortunately, we are stuck with him as long as the Republicans stick with him. And they are sticking with him more than ever.



Trump was meeting with O'Keefe to sabotage Clinton in 2015

by digby

Why wouldn't he work with Russians to do the same thing?

Days after Donald J. Trump launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, James O’Keefe, the conservative disrupter famous for trying to use secret recordings to embarrass liberals and journalists, visited Trump Tower and gave Mr. Trump a preview of his latest hidden camera video intended to undermine Hillary Clinton.

The footage, widely dismissed after it was released some weeks later, showed officials from Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign appearing to accept a payment for campaign swag from a Canadian woman at a Clinton campaign rally — in violation, Mr. O’Keefe contended, of election laws barring campaign contributions from foreigners.

Mr. Trump had been promoting Mr. O’Keefe’s work for years and a few weeks earlier had donated $10,000 from his foundation to Mr. O’Keefe’s group. At the meeting in his office, Mr. Trump praised the new video and pledged more money. As the campaign progressed, he pointed to other videos as evidence of his false accusations that Mrs. Clinton paid people to cause violence at Trump campaign rallies, and since his inauguration he and his team have continued to highlight Mr. O’Keefe’s work as evidence of the president’s repeated claims that the news media is peddling “fake news.”

If he's meet with that professional dirty trickster I find it completely believable that he'd agree to lift the sanctions on the Russian government in exchange for their help in doing exactly the same thing. Why not? He's too stupid to understand the difference. And frankly, there isn't much. Both O'Keefe and the Russians dishonestly and covertly manipulate American democratic institutions for their own gain. O'Keefe is actually worse.



First they came for the air traffic controllers ...

by Tom Sullivan

When it comes to taxation and public services, conservatives contend there should be no free riders. People ought to have "skin in the game." Unless it means having skin in the wrong game.

Unions qualify as the wrong game. They have been in the conservative crosshairs for decades, and why not? The Owner Class will not countenance uppity people challenging it for a more equitable share of the pie and for better working conditions. With full Republican control of Washington, now Owners are The People.

Slate's Mark Joseph Stern reports on the Department of Justice's reversal on the constitutionality of mandatory fees for public employees represented by unions:

The opportunity for the DOJ and the Supreme Court to target unions comes in the form of Janus v. AFSCME, which the justices agreed to hear in September. Bankrolled by the anti-union National Right to Work Foundation, Janus is a direct effort to overturn a 40-year-old landmark decision called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. In Abood, the Supreme Court held that public sector unions, which represent government employees like teachers and firefighters, can collect agency fees from non-union workers. The court reasoned that these fees are often necessary to prevent “free riding”—non-union employees benefiting from bargaining funded by dues-paying union members. However, it held that unions could only use fair share fees to fund collective bargaining and could not, under the First Amendment, spend them on “political and ideological purposes.”
The Department of Justice now argues (as cigarette companies did regarding warning labels) that "fair share" fees used to fund collective bargaining amount to “compelled subsidization of speech,” and Abood should be overturned. Since Neil Gorsuch takes an expansive view of “compelled speech,” Stern writes, Abood opponents may get their wish in Janus.
And what of the free-rider problem—the phenomenon of non-union employees enjoying the benefits secured through bargaining funded by their union colleagues? In Abood, the court recognized that government, acting as an employer, has an important interest in preventing free riders through fair share fees. But according to the DOJ, these “dissenting employees” are not actually free riders at all. They are “compelled riders” forced to subsidize speech about “issues on which they may strongly disagree” ...
That is, speech supporting better pay and benefits for themselves and their families.

The Department of Labor, meanwhile, is targeting restaurant workers, reports the Economic Policy Institute:
The Department of Labor released a proposed rule rescinding portions of its tip regulations, including current restrictions on “tip pooling”—which would mean that, for example, restaurants would be able to pool the tips servers receive and share them with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers. But, crucially, the rule doesn’t actually require that employers distribute pooled tips to workers. Under the administration’s proposed rule, as long as the tipped workers earn minimum wage, the employer can legally pocket those tips.

And what we know for sure is that, often, they will do just that. Recent research suggests that the total wages stolen from workers due to minimum wage violations exceeds $15 billion each year, and workers in restaurants and bars are much more likely to suffer minimum wage violations than workers in other industries. With that much illegal wage theft currently taking place, it seems obvious that when employers can legally pocket the tips earned by their employees, many will do so.
In an era in which Congress no longer officially declares war when fighting one, is it any surprise Owners have not officially declared war on anyone not in their club?

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Thursday, December 07, 2017


But her emails

by digby

The Columbia Journalism Review features an excellent survey of the 2016 campaign coverage in which they look at all the social media, the information bubbles and outside interference and came to a rather startling conclusion considering all that. The real problem was the mainstream media.

I pick up the story about halfway through:

As troubling as the spread of fake news on social media may be, it was unlikely to have had much impact either on the election outcome or on the more general state of politics in 2016. A potentially more serious threat is what a team of Harvard and MIT researchers refer to as “a network of mutually reinforcing hyper-partisan sites that revive what Richard Hofstadter called ‘the paranoid style in American politics,’ combining decontextualized truths, repeated falsehoods, and leaps of logic to create a fundamentally misleading view of the world.” Unlike the fake news numbers highlighted in much of the post-election coverage, engagement with sites like Breitbart News, InfoWars, and The Daily Caller are substantial—especially in the realm of social media.

Nevertheless, a longer and more detailed report by the same researchers shows that by any reasonable metric—including Facebook or Twitter shares, but also referrals from other media sites, number of published stories, etc.—the media ecosystem remains dominated by conventional (and mostly left-of-center) sources such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, HuffPost, CNN, and Politico.

Given the attention these very same news outlets have lavished, post-election, on fake news shared via social media, it may come as a surprise that they themselves dominated social media traffic. While it may have been the case that the 20 most-shared fake news stories narrowly outperformed the 20 most-shared “real news” stories, the overall volume of stories produced by major newsrooms vastly outnumbers fake news. According to the same report, “The Washington Post produced more than 50,000 stories over the 18-month period, while The New York Times, CNN, and Huffington Post each published more than 30,000 stories.” Presumably not all of these stories were about the election, but each such story was also likely reported by many news outlets simultaneously. A rough estimate of thousands of election-related stories published by the mainstream media is therefore not unreasonable.

In just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.

What did all these stories talk about? The research team investigated this question, counting sentences that appeared in mainstream media sources and classifying each as detailing one of several Clinton- or Trump-related issues. In particular, they classified each sentence as describing either a scandal (e.g., Clinton’s emails, Trump’s taxes) or a policy issue (Clinton and jobs, Trump and immigration). They found roughly four times as many Clinton-related sentences that described scandals as opposed to policies, whereas Trump-related sentences were one-and-a-half times as likely to be about policy as scandal. Given the sheer number of scandals in which Trump was implicated—sexual assault; the Trump Foundation; Trump University; redlining in his real-estate developments; insulting a Gold Star family; numerous instances of racist, misogynist, and otherwise offensive speech—it is striking that the media devoted more attention to his policies than to his personal failings. Even more striking, the various Clinton-related email scandals—her use of a private email server while secretary of state, as well as the DNC and John Podesta hacks—accounted for more sentences than all of Trump’s scandals combined (65,000 vs. 40,000) and more than twice as many as were devoted to all of her policy positions.

To reiterate, these 65,000 sentences were written not by Russian hackers, but overwhelmingly by professional journalists employed at mainstream news organizations, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. To the extent that voters mistrusted Hillary Clinton, or considered her conduct as secretary of state to have been negligent or even potentially criminal, or were generally unaware of what her policies contained or how they may have differed from Donald Trump’s, these numbers suggest their views were influenced more by mainstream news sources than by fake news.

To shed more light on this possibility, we conducted an in-depth analysis of a single media source, The New York Times. We chose the Times for two reasons: First, because its broad reach both among policy elites and ordinary citizens means that the Times has singular influence on public debates; and second, because its reputation for serious journalism implies that if the Times did not inform its readers of the issues, then it is unlikely such information was widely available anywhere.
10 is an interesting figure because it is also the number of front-page stories the Times ran on the Hillary Clinton email scandal in just six days, from October 29 (the day after FBI Director James Comey announced his decision to reopen his investigation of possible wrongdoing by Clinton) through November 3, just five days before the election. When compared with the Times’s overall coverage of the campaign, the intensity of focus on this one issue is extraordinary. To reiterate, in just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election (and that does not include the three additional articles on October 18, and November 6 and 7, or the two articles on the emails taken from John Podesta). This intense focus on the email scandal cannot be written off as inconsequential: The Comey incident and its subsequent impact on Clinton’s approval rating among undecided voters could very well have tipped the election.

There is much more and it's damning.

They all failed, and we saw it in real time. But none so much as the paper of record which refuses to admit it and becomes very defensive when confronted with it. It's a profound failure that changed the course of history.



John Lewis, conscience of America

by digby

Congressman John Lewis playing with his two very classy Tuxedo cats

Congressman Lewis will not be at the opening of the new civil rights museum because our racist president has decided to ruin it by attending and saying stupid things he doesn't believe and using black people as props.
How disgusting is it that Trump is crashing this party? So typical...

Lewis is the best and I have no time for anyone who treats him disrespectfully. Especially these White Supremacists:

“We think it’s unfortunate that these members of Congress wouldn’t join the President in honoring the incredible sacrifice civil rights leaders made to right the injustices in our history,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

She went on to explain that “the [civil rights] movement was about removing barriers and unifying Americans of all backgrounds.”

That's Sarah Huckabee Sanders explaining that the civil rights movement wasn't really about black people.



Buy cat food futures and make a killing

by digby

They want to get their massive tax cuts out of the way first so they can concentrate on killing the elderly and disabled:

Republicans in Congress are openly admitting they plan to use their tax reform bill to justify slashing funding for essential social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps.

The bill — which is expected to balloon the national deficit by at least $1 trillion, and which only benefits the country’s wealthiest in the long-term — has not yet been reconciled or signed. But Republicans aren’t wasting any time laying out what they see as the next step.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) laid out the plan in an interview Wednesday on Ross Kaminsky’s radio show. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said, adding that health care entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid are “the big drivers of our debt.”

He defended this by claiming the bill would generate $1 trillion dollars in revenues, which is a common talking point in support of the legislation. But a recent analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation found that the nearly $1.5 trillion tax plan will only generate around $400 billion dollars in growth, meaning it’ll actually fall $1 trillion short of breaking even. In other words, it’ll grow the deficit, not shrink it.

Now, Republicans in Congress are admitting they’ll use the deficit they’re working to create to justify cutting some of the most important programs in the country.

Ryan is not alone in admitting this. Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) claimed that to achieve the growth the tax plan forecasts, “we have to have welfare reform.” Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) said, “If we pass tax reform, we have to have welfare reform.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) directly admitted that the plan all along has been “to do two things,” because “the driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries.”

They're being upfront and honest about this. I look forward to Villagers telling us that it's time to "take our medicine" for the good of the country.


Now we know that Republicans don't have any personal morality. What do we do about it?

by digby

Tom Cotton takes the White House line on sexual harassment and misconduct:

When it comes to Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces sexual misconduct allegations from several women, Cotton said that Alabama voters “are going to make that decision, just like the people of this country made their decision last year on Donald Trump.”

Republicans who voted for that pig in the White House have already made it clear that they only care about the personal morality of their political enemies. And now the leaders of that party are making it clear that any criminal, Nazi or pervert who wants to run against a Democrat will be embraced and protected by Republican officials.

This is no longer in dispute.

For a brilliant but depressing look at the political ramifications of all this click over to this piece by Dahlia Lithwick called "The Uneven Playing Field."

Her conclusion:

Who knows why the GOP has lost its last ethical moorings? But this is a perfectly transactional moment in governance, and what we get in exchange for being good and moral right now is nothing. I’m not saying we should hit pause on #MeToo, or direct any less fury at sexual predators in their every manifestation. But we should understand that while we know that our good faith and reasonableness are virtues, we currently live in a world where it’s also a handicap.

Unilateral disarmament is tantamount to arming the other side. That may be a trade worth making in some cases. But it’s worth at least acknowledging that this is the current calculus. It’s no longer that when they go low, we get to go high. They are permanently living underground. How long can we afford to keep living in the clouds?

We had better start thinking about how to deal with this.