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McAuliffe: "Governors are the future"

Monday October 23rd, 2017 02:55:22 AM
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on why too much focus is being put on the presidential elections

What Manchin believes about the cause of...

Monday October 23rd, 2017 12:37:47 AM
Sen. Joe Manchin introduced new legislation this week to combat drug companies as the DEA tries to gain control of the opioid epidemic. He now claims that the epidemic is all part of a “business plan” for drug companies.

Why Manchin doesn't want Clinton...

Monday October 23rd, 2017 12:27:12 AM
Sen. Joe Manchin joins Kasie DC to talk healthcare and the opiod epidemic.

Fussell: "Every day is calculated risk"...

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 08:56:03 PM
A deadly ambush of four U.S. troops in Niger (as well as Nigerien soldiers) has renewed scrutiny of the American military presence in Africa. Former Navy SEAL Chris Fussell explains why these missions can be so dangerous.

$32 O'Reilly settlement raises eyebrows...

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 08:44:03 PM
Bill O'Reilly has faced numerous sexual harassment allegations, and he may have settled a $32 million case just before signing a new contract with Fox, according to an NYT report. Paul Farhi explains this development.

Obama is back! And apparently addressing...

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 08:39:09 PM
Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush seemed to critique Donald Trump and the impact of his presidency in recent speeches. Joy Reid and her panel discuss.

Retirement savings in jeopardy with new...

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 08:30:53 PM
Some Republicans may be considering a limit on contributions to retirement accounts in order to pay for tax cuts. Could this target the people who supported candidate Trump? CNBC's Ron Insana breaks it down.

Shenon: JFK archives could show how much...

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 08:18:22 PM
50 years after the assassination of President Kennedy - the disbelief, analysis, and conspiracies - we may learn a little better what happened in November of 1963. Philip Shenon gives us a preview.

Trump federal judge nominee called a...

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 08:16:49 PM
Donald Trump’s federal judge nominee Thomas Farr defended the defeated, controversial North Carolina voter ID law, but Ari Berman of The Nation tells Joy Reid he may soon hear similar cases if confirmed.

Baker: Feud with congresswoman "is Donald...

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 08:07:21 PM
NYT's Peter Baker observes how an initial dispute between Pres. Trump and a congresswoman eventually devolved into an all-out feud. Then he remarks on Bush and Obama speaking up about Trump-era politics.


What's Apple Up To?

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 05:08:14 PM
Apple is in the process of introducing a series of features (or perhaps better to say, restrictions) to its Safari browser, along with the new version of its operating system OSX High Sierra, which promise to put serious obstacles in the way of advertisers tracking you across the web. There are countless ways this happens. But you see it most clearly when you go check out a new suitcase to purchase at some online vendor and then see suitcase ads following you around the web. Some people find this creepy and annoying. Others find it amusing and don’t care. Probably few consumers would mind seeing it go. But there’s some deeper stuff going on. What Apple is doing is placing restrictions on persistent cookies that live on your web browser. These are tiny files, little snippets of data that do all sorts of things. One of the simplest and most helpful is that they keep you logged in to your most favorite sites and keep certain levels of customization in place. You probably would find it annoying not to have those benefits. But they are also what makes that tracking possible. Having ads for a store you visited tracking you across the web is only the most obvious. There’s lots of other stuff going on that isn’t visible to you. The buzzword for this is what Apple calls Intelligent Tracking Prevention. You need to know a decent amount about advertising and browser architecture to understand the specifics. I haven’t read all the documentation. And even fairly familiar with these things, I probably couldn’t fully understand them myself. I’ll try to provide a general but accurate overview. The gist is that Apple is trying to drastically curtail the use of “third-party cookies.” That’s cookies that aren’t from sites you visit everyday but third parties that are sort of along for the ride and there pretty much only to track you. The big way Apple will determine what we’ll call “good” and “bad” cookies is through a mix of machine learning to learn how “tracky” the cookies are and how often you visit the site that ‘owns’ the cookie. Let me try to make this a bit more concrete. If you visit a site every day, Apple will give pretty much free rein to that site’s cookies. If you visit less frequently or never, Apple will clamp down hard. The big time factor dividing line is 24 hours. This makes a lot of sense. If you visit a site everyday you are probably gaining some customization, ease of use benefits from that cookie. If you’ve never heard of the site, they’re tracking you without your explicit permission and you’re probably getting nothing in return. So here’s where it gets interesting and more than just arcana of ad-tech. The digital ad industry is flipping out over this. A month ago basically every major ad industry trade grouppublished an open letter to Apple saying its heavy handed approach was threatening to destroy a whole segment of the digital ad industry. This is from a month ago in AdWeek … In an open letter expected to be published this afternoon, the groups describe the new standards as “opaque and arbitrary,” warning that the changes could affect the “infrastructure of the modern internet,” which largely relies on consistent standards across websites. The groups say the feature also hurts user experience by making advertising more “generic and less timely and useful.” “Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by Adweek this morning. “Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice.” The scope of this kind of tracking goes way, way beyond what you probably think if you’re not in the adtech world. In the old days advertisers would use publications as proxies for the identities of people they were trying to reach. CEOs and investors? The Wall Street Jounral. People into Tech? Wired and Ars Technica. Affluent, educated liberals? TPM. Now it’s different. Advertisers (or more the major agency holding companies who act on their behalf) sometimes have a defined list of say 500,000 people they want to contact. You can show the advertisers ad to those people and only those people. To be clear, we’re not talking about a demographic class. We’re talking about 500,000 specific people. How can they possibly know who they are? Well, there are vendors who have this data and have the architecture that allows you to use it. (One of the big players is called LiveRamp.) There are databases the have profiles of individual people – more datapoints, more value. So email, that’s one. Name is another. Address, device ID. The more of these you have the more confident you have that it’s that specific person. Whereas the publisher was once the gatekeeper now the data vendor is the gatekeeper. So let’s review. Apple wants to position itself as the defender of privacy and quality user experience. So it’s cracking down on cookies. (The European Union is doing similar things in the Eurozone. So that gives more force to the changes that go beyond just Apple.) The digital ad industry is freaking out. Do you care? Well, the consensus within the ad tech industry press seems to be that this will actually strengthen the monopolistic hold which Google and Facebook have over the ad industry and the web itself. Why would that be? Well, how often do you visit Facebook? And how often do you do a Google Search or got to Youtube, Google Maps, Gmail or all the other Google services? Probably quite a lot. Probably most of you do one of them almost every day. The smaller players, companies purely focused on tracking could be hit very hard. But Google and Facebook will probably come within that 24 hour window pretty easily. So Apple’s move could take an industry where Google and Facebook are already the hugely dominant players and wipe everyone else. Good for Google and Facebook. But here’s another possibility. Recently I was talking to someone who’s spent years in the digital ad industry who sees it a little differently. This person saw the whole move as actually aimed at Google. I’m not sure if this person is right or not. I’m not sure how considered a take it was. I’m less interested in whether this is the current intention as what it shows us about what could happen and how the interests and positions of the various tech monopolies lines up. If this person is right the logic would go like this. Google (actually now the holding company Alphabet) is the second largest company in the world by market capitalization. (Apple is the largest.) It’s done that overwhelmingly by its control of profits from advertising. The advantage in advertising comes from data and tracking. The whole digital advertising industry depends on those little snippets of data we call “cookies”. It’s amazing to think how many hundreds of billions of dollars depend on this little lynchpin piece of digital data architecture. Get rid of the cookie and everyone in the digital publishing industry is truly screwed. What’s good for Google is that cookie technology is fundamentally controlled by the browser. The Chrome browser, which is owned by Google, has nearly 50% market share. When I talk about Apple doing this or doing that they can only “do” anything through their own browser, Safari, which has significantly less market share. One industry metric puts Safari’s share of the market at just over 30%. But those percentages obscure the real story. On desktop Safari is only barely a player. The same industry metric puts it at under 10% of market share on desktops. On Smartphones Safari has over 50% share and on tablet that jumps to over 70%. The reason should be obvious: control of the iOS operating system which run iPhones and iPads. Add to this that the more affluent consumers tend to be on Safari, mainly because more affluent consumers tend to have iOS devices and to a lesser extent because they use Mac desktops. What all of this means is that while Apple can’t control the whole Internet architecture it has it within its power to seriously disrupt the cookie architecture over a significant percentage of the web, especially for mobile devices and more affluent consumers. My friend’s theory is that Apple wants to start creating turbulence within Google’s business model, even if it’s at first only at the margins. Remember, Google now competes with Apple in the hardware market. And critically, advertising is a space Apple has never seemed interested in playing in. Virtually every Apple business is focused on payments and subscriptions – pricey hardware, iTunes music and video which is anchored in Apple TV, Apple Music, etc. If the digital ad industry explodes, it’s not much skin off Apple’s back. In any case, Apple’s never been big on the open web in any case. They want you in curated, controlled spaces – either in the much more tightly circumscribed OSX environment or iOS apps. And here’s one more part of this equation. How does this affect digital publishers? Here’s where it gets especially interesting to any publisher. We rely on tracking in as much as tracking is now pervasive on the ads running on basically every website, including TPM. But really tracking has been a disaster for publishers, especially premium publishers. Here’s why. I’ll use TPM as an example. But it’s only for the purposes of illustration. The same applies to countless other publications, particularly quality publications as opposed to content farms. TPM has an affluent, highly educated, generally progressive audience. They also tend to be political influencers. Our readers also have a strong brand affinity with TPM. Our core audience visits day after day. All of those attributes make our audience very desirable for many advertisers. So great, even though we’re small, advertisers want access to that kind of audience. So we can command good rates. Tracking has shifted that equation dramatically. (And again, TPM is just here as illustration. This is an industry-wide phenomenon.) Let’s say we take the whole core TPM audience, this set number of people. They have these attributes I mentioned above. Tracking now allows the ad tech industry to follow those people around the web and advertise to them where they choose. So an advertiser can identify “TPM Readers” and then advertise to them at other sites that aren’t TPM. Or they can find a group that has the attributes that I describe above and track them around the web regardless of which site they’re on. You don’t have any reason to care about that. But we care about it a lot because it basically takes from us any market power we have. Tracking means almost all publishers are being disintermediated in this way. This is one big reason the platforms and the data vendors are scarfing up all the new revenue. So in many ways, disruptions in tracking are good for publishers. Actually basically in all ways it’s good. In this way, we have a vaguely common interest with Apple since we see our business future as tied to paid services, memberships, etc. Apple does too. In practice, the little players have the least ability and resources to protect themselves during periods of market chaos. But in theory at least, if Apple’s self-interest led it to disrupt the cookie architecture and wreak havoc in Google’s business model, that would likely be good for publishers. In any case, these are all reasons why we have focused our energies on moving toward paid memberships and subscriptions, even though we continue to get at least half of our revenue from paid advertising. Technology has placed the ability to extract the greatest profits from advertising into the hands of the players that do not shoulder the costs of creating the content that make it possible. The industry more generally is controlled by a handful of dominant players trying to engross as much of the profits as possible in something of a zero sum game with each other. That’s a battle where we as a small publisher are the warfare analogs of helpless civilians in the midst of great power conflict. We want to isolate ourselves from that as much as possible. Every publisher should. But in the advertising world they have little power to do so.

Trump: 'We're Prepared For Anything' When It Comes To North Korea

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 03:08:47 PM
President Donald Trump on Sunday struck an ominous tone with his remarks on North Korea, saying the United States is “prepared for anything” but that it would be “nice not to do that.” “We’re prepared for anything. We are so prepared like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.” “You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be,” he added. “Would it be nice not to do that? The answer is yes. Will that happen? Who knows.” The White House last week said Trump will ask U.S. allies to put pressure on North Korea regarding its nuclear program when he travels to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines from Nov. 3 to Nov. 14.

Trump Claims He 'Spoke Of The Name' Of US Soldier In Call To Soldier's Widow

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 03:40:41 PM
President Donald Trump on Sunday continued to deny Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) account of his call to the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger. “I was so nice. Look, I’ve called many people. And I would think that every one of them appreciated it. I was very surprised to see this to be honest with you,” Trump said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.” He claimed the call “was a very nice call.” “And by the way, I spoke of the name of the young man, and I — it was a really — it’s a very tough call. Those are the toughest calls,” Trump said. “These are tougher than dealing with the heads of countries, believe me. These are very, very hard calls. They’re sad and sometimes, you know, the grieving is so incredible.” Wilson last week said she was in a car with Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, when Trump called. “She was in tears. She was in tears. And she said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name,’” Wilson told the Washington Post. Trump denied Wilson’s account of events, though the congresswoman’s account was corroborated by Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, and continued to attack Wilson through the weekend. Wacky Congresswoman Wilson is the gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party, a disaster for Dems. You watch her in action & vote R! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2017

Graham: Trump Administration Has A 'Blind Spot' When It Comes To Russia

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 04:08:00 PM
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday said President Donald Trump’s administration has a “blind spot” when it comes to Russia. “I think that the Trump administration is slow when it comes to Russia. They have a blind spot on Russia I still can’t figure out,” Graham said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” Trump in August signed legislation imposing tough new sanctions on Russia but in October blew past the legislation’s deadline for issuing “regulations or other guidance” on the subject. googletag.cmd.push(function () { googletag.display('ad_pos_article_flex'); });

McConnell: I Don't Know What Kind Of Health Care Bill Trump Would Sign

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 02:03:31 PM
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Sunday said he is “waiting” to find out what kind of health care bill President Donald Trump would be willing to sign. “If there’s a need for some kind of interim step here to stabilize the market, we need a bill the President will actually sign, and I’m not certain yet what the President is looking for here,” McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He said he’s “waiting” to “hear from” Trump about what kind of legislation he would be willing to sign. “I’ll be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump would sign it,” McConnell said. Asked about Trump’s comment that he would not blame himself for legislative inaction, McConnell said, “Well, I think he’s getting a lot more done than he’s giving everybody credit for.” “I think the President ought to give himself a little more credit,” he added. .@SenateMajLdr on HC bill: "I'll be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know @realDonaldTrump will sign it" https://t.co/78rMcIM2lT — State of the Union (@CNNSotu) October 22, 2017

More on the White House Clean Up Operation

Saturday October 21st, 2017 10:22:59 PM
I noted yesterday this great piece of reporting by Roll Call which essentially showed that the White House knew the President was lying from beginning about his claims about calling bereaved families. They then scrambled to get names and contact information from the Pentagon to retroactively make the President’s claims ‘true’ as soon as possible. Now we have some good follow-on reporting from The Atlantic, showing how the White House started express shipping condolence letters as the crazy week of lies, disgrace and nonsense unfolded. Reporters for The Atlantic spoke to multiple families who received expressed-shipped UPS packages from the White House on October 20th (Friday), which had been shipped on the 18th. One passage … “Honestly, I feel the letter is reactionary to the media storm brewing over how these things have been handled,” Eckels told The Atlantic. “I’ve received letters from McCain, Mattis and countless other officials before his. I wasn’t sure if the fact that the accident that caused Timothy’s death has still yet to officially have the cause determined played into the timing of our president’s response.” Eckels did go on to say that the letter was “respectful” and “seemed genuine and even mentioned [his son] Timothy’s siblings.” There’s certainly nothing wrong with catching-up on these letters that apparently had fallen through the cracks. But it’s more evidence of what we learned from the Roll Call piece. The White House did not seem to have an organized process for these condolence communications. Roll Call said when the controversy first spun up they didn’t even have a current list of war fatalities during Trump’s presidency. Some had heard from the White House. Seemingly most or at least a large percentage had not. It’s important to remember that the President was pressed on a different issue – why he had not publicly mentioned the deaths of the four soldiers in Niger. To the best of my knowledge, no one really had any idea whether the families had been contacted or not. That question prompted a false statement about his own actions and a smear against President Obama (as well as other Presidents). The White House knew from the beginning that Trump’s claims were false. Did they tell him and he ignored the information? Or do they know there’s no point? Either way, staffers at the White House went into clean up mode and all the lying, recriminations and awfulness basically spun out of control from there.

The Sewer of Trumpism

Saturday October 21st, 2017 09:07:20 PM
Col. Jack Jacobs, a medal of honor recipient himself, says Gen. John Kelly should simply apologize. More broadly, I thought this brief discussion from him is a good meditation on the moral sewer of Trumpism and even more, Donald Trump himself. He damages and diminishes everyone. Col. Jack Jacobs says Gen Kelly should just apologize. An interesting meditation on the moral sewer of Trumpism and how it damages us all. pic.twitter.com/uKttv6O7kx — Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 21, 2017

Trump Tweets Up A Storm About 'Discredited' Dossier, Facebook Ads

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 12:52:26 PM
President Donald Trump on Saturday afternoon claimed a controversial dossier alleging ties between himself and Russia has been “discredited” (it hasn’t) and claimed a Russian firm spent a “tiny” amount of money on political Facebook ads. Lawyers representing the firm that assembled the so-called Trump dossier on Friday asked a judge to block House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) subpoena to the firm’s bank for the identity of the client who commissioned the document. Trump attacked the dossier on Thursday as well. While much of the information it contains has not been substantiated, a number of the claims in the document have been reinforced by new information. The “tiny” amount of money Trump referred to that was spent on Facebook ads during the 2016 election by a Russian “troll farm” was $100,000. Facebook in October said an “estimated 10 million people” saw those ads. Officials behind the now discredited "Dossier" plead the Fifth. Justice Department and/or FBI should immediately release who paid for it. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017 Keep hearing about "tiny" amount of money spent on Facebook ads. What about the billions of dollars of Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC & CBS? — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017

Montana GOPer Says She 'Would Have Shot' Journalist Gianforte Assaulted

Saturday October 21st, 2017 07:19:20 PM
A Montana Republican official on Thursday said she “would have shot” the reporter Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) body-slammed a day before he was elected to office. “If that kid had done to me what he did to Greg, I would have shot him,” Karen Marshall, the vice president of programs for Gallatin County Republican Women, said on the “Voices of Montana” radio program. Jon Arneson, the show’s host, confirmed Marshall’s identity on Friday to the Helena Independent Record. “I was there. I’m a friend of Greg’s,” Marshall said. “It wasn’t a body-slam.” She claimed that Ben Jacobs, the reporter Gianforte attacked, “came on private property, came into a private building and went into a very private room that I would not even have gone into.” “It was a setup,” Marshall claimed. “He just pushed a little too hard.” Jacobs in May said Gianforte “body-slammed” him and broke his glasses after Jacobs tried to ask Gianforte a question at a campaign event where Gianforte was preparing for an interview with local reporters. Through a spokesperson, Gianforte told the Helena Independent Record that he disagreed with Marshall’s remarks and “repudiates them.” Gianforte in June pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management. He pledged to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists and formally apologized to Jacobs.

NYT: O'Reilly Struck $32M Settlement In January Over Harassment Allegations

Saturday October 21st, 2017 06:26:55 PM
Former top Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who left the network in April amid accusations of sexual harassment, in January struck a $32 million settlement agreement with a former analyst for Fox News, months before his contract was extended, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The New York Times reported, citing two unnamed sources briefed on the matter, that O’Reilly made the agreement to settle allegations “of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material” to the analyst. Despite the settlement, and others the New York Times reported in April totaled $13 million to five women over the last 15 years, 21st Century Fox extended O’Reilly’s contract in February, according to the report. 21st Century Fox said in a statement to the New York Times that O’Reilly’s settlement with Lis Wiehl, a former legal analyst at Fox News, was a personal matter between the two, and said O’Reilly “was the biggest star in cable TV.” O’Reilly claimed to the New York Times that he “never mistreated anyone” and claimed he could “prove it.” Fox News referred TPM’s request for comment to 21st Century Fox, who did not immediately respond. Read the full report here. This report has been updated.

Dossier Firm's Lawyers Ask Judge To Block Nunes' Subpoena To Firm's Bank

Sunday October 22nd, 2017 04:08:14 PM
Lawyers representing the firm that assembled a controversial dossier alleging ties between President Donald Trump and Russia on Friday asked a judge to block the firm’s bank from disclosing the identify of the client who commissioned the dossier. Fusion GPS said House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), who claimed he recused himself from the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, “unilaterally issued” a subpoena to Fusion GPS’ bank “in violation of his recusal.” “Although the bank submitted objections, Mr. Nunes — through staff — rejected them. In light of that communication, the bank then informed its customer that the bank was going to timely comply,” Fusion GPS’ lawyers wrote in the complaint. The firm asked the judge for “a declaratory judgment and injunction” preventing the bank from complying with Nunes’ subpoena, and claimed Nunes’ signature on subpoenas related to the investigation “was another sign of his rogue inquiry.” Fusion GPS’ lawyers last week accused Nunes and his staff of operating with a “pattern of unprofessional conduct.” Read the complaint: h/t The Daily Beast googletag.cmd.push(function () { googletag.display('ad_pos_article_flex'); });

Report: WH Asked Pentagon For List Of Gold Star Families After Trump's Claim

Saturday October 21st, 2017 03:01:35 PM
The White House on Tuesday asked the Pentagon for the identities and contact information of family members of military personnel killed after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Roll Call reported late Friday. Trump on Tuesday claimed he had personally contacted “virtually” every family of a soldier killed since his inauguration. “I have called, I believe, everybody, but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody,” Trump claimed. Roll Call reported, citing an internal Defense Department email, that Capt. Hallock Mohler, Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ executive secretary, subsequently gave the White House information about how each servicemember had died and contact information for their families. Mohler indicated in the email, according to the report, that he provided the information in response to a request from White House staff. “The White House ensured that the President had contacted all families of soldiers killed in action that had been presented to him through existing protocols,” a White House spokesman told Roll Call on Friday. The Associated Press reported Friday that several Gold Star families never heard from Trump at all.

Trump Bashes 'Fake News Media,' Says He'll Release JFK Assassination Files

Saturday October 21st, 2017 02:29:48 PM
President Donald Trump on Saturday complained about the “Fake News Media” and said he would allow the release of files related to former President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Trump complained that the “MSM barely covered” Senate passage of his budget plan or the stock market’s “all time high” last week. “I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!” Trump tweeted, referring to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). And, Trump tweeted, “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.” The federal government is required, under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, to release in full documents related to Kennedy’s assassination in Nov. 1963 by next Thursday unless Trump intervenes. Budget that just passed is a really big deal, especially in terms of what will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history – MSM barely covered! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017 I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017 Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017 Stock Market hits another all time high on Friday. 5.3 trillion dollars up since Election. Fake News doesn't spent much time on this! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017

Of Course

Saturday October 21st, 2017 03:06:20 AM
This is amazing, comical, sad. From Roll Call … In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email. The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy. Not only had the president not contacted virtually all the families of military personnel killed this year, the White House did not even have an up-to-date list of those who had been killed. The exchange between the White House and the Defense secretary’s office occurred about 5 p.m. on Oct. 17. The White House asked the Pentagon for information about surviving family members of all servicemembers killed after Trump’s inauguration so that the president could be sure to contact all of them. Read the whole thing here.

Graham Responds To Sanders: 'In America' Debating Generals Appropriate

Friday October 20th, 2017 08:56:11 PM
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Friday pushed back against a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that it would be “highly inappropriate” for a reporter to “get into a debate with a four-star Marine general.” The general to whom she was referring is retired: White House chief of staff John Kelly. But generals and chiefs of staff alike are routinely subject to journalists’ questions in the United States. After the briefing, a reporter asked Graham about Sanders’ comment. “The White House press secretary today said it was highly inappropriate to get in a debate with a four-star general, do you agree with that?” “No, not in America,” Graham said. The reporter asked Sanders if Kelly would be willing to discuss an inaccurate statement he made while attacking Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). Kelly had accused Wilson of bragging about securing funding for an FBI building in Miramar, Florida in 2015. That did not happen. Kelly’s other attack against Wilson came in response to her discussing the content of a phone call between President Donald Trump and the grieving widow of Sgt. La David Johnson on Tuesday. Wilson was in the car with the widow, Myeshia Johnson, when Trump called, and Johnson answered the call on speakerphone. Trump had previously, incorrectly, claimed to have called “every” family of a fallen member of the military during his time in office. Graham said of the controversy: “I just think a member of Congress should have some discipline, and so should the President.” “I don’t know Congresswoman Wilson, I’ve never met her,” he continued. “I know she’s not a big fan of the President. And to her credit, she was in the car with the family. But I think she started something that was really — I would never do that.” Wilson had told members of the media after listening to Trump’s call with Johnson that Trump did not mentioned La David Johnson by name, referring to the fallen soldier as “your guy” instead. And, Wilson said, Trump told Myeshia Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Trump Admin Tells Court Only Congress Can Pay Health Insurers What They're Owed

Friday October 20th, 2017 09:11:25 PM
The lawsuit from nearly 20 states over the Trump administration’s recent decision to cut off subsidies to health insurance companies—a move roiling the individual market and raising premiums across the country—goes before a judge on Monday. On Friday, the Trump administration submitted a response to the states’ attempt to force the payments, arguing that only Congress can constitutionally authorize those payments. The argument carries echoes of an earlier, still-pending lawsuit by House Republicans that sought to declare the Obama administration’s expenditures on the subsidies an illegal usurpation of Congress’ power of the purse – except now the roles are somewhat reversed. “No matter how compelling the rationale, neither the Executive nor the Judiciary has the authority to expend taxpayer dollars, including billions of dollars in annual cost-sharing reduction payments under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), if Congress has not appropriated those funds,” the Justice Department said, asking the court to reject the states’ request for a temporary for a temporary restraining order that would force the administration to pay out the funds. “Congress may reverse course and appropriate funds, but the Executive cannot make that decision for Congress by expending funds where no appropriation for CSR payments exists.” As this case winds its way through federal courts, Congress is attempting to do what it refused to do under President Obama: officially appropriate the cost-sharing reduction payments that go towards subsidizing health insurance plans for low-income Americans. But as the Trump administration argues in legal filings that Congress must pass a bill to make the subsidy payments, it is at the same time actively discouraging them from doing so. White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said Thursday that the bill does little more than “extend the bailouts” to insurance companies, and demanded several more major concessions that would be certain to doom the effort entirely. “We need to begin repealing the mandates and repealing the taxes and then we could have a deal,” he said, listing measures that would further depress enrollment in the individual market and would drive Democrats away from the deal. The earlier case dates back to the launch of Obamacare’s individual market, when the Republican-controlled House sued the Obama administration for making the cost-sharing reduction payments without their authorization (which they refused to grant). Until this year, the Justice Department had fought the lawsuit. In October, it reversed course, agreeing that the payments were unconstitutional and cutting them off with little warning. Nearly 20 states, led by California, then launched a new lawsuit, arguing that the administration violating the Affordable Care Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution’s “Take Care” clause. Read the administration’s response below:

Here's Why One Black Activist Thinks Russian Trolls Sought Him Out

Friday October 20th, 2017 09:41:48 PM
In one of the stranger aspects of the Russian influence campaign reported to date, the Federal News Agency (FAN) troll farm funded activism and social programs in black communities as recently as May. The Russian operation set up a news site that interviewed prominent thinkers like Occupy Wall Street’s Micah White and former Black Panther Party leading member Ericka Huggins. It also sponsored self-defense programs around the country, including one in Queens that specializes in de-escalating conflict between black people and police officers. None of those American activists who had contact with the operatives knew they were in contact with Russian agents at the time. White (pictured above) has a theory for why those operatives were supporting black activism in the U.S. He has written on the tactical use of social movements to wage war—he wrote on the topic more than a year before the 2016 election—and he says that while Russia “can be pursuing multiple objectives simultaneously,” he thinks subverting the American status quo may be a mutual objective for a hostile Russian operation and the U.S. protest movements striving for more equality and justice—the challenge is to use that signal boost for noble ends. “I think there aren’t many examples of social change that isn’t created by outside forces,” White told TPM. “Lenin was allowed back into Russia on German railroads while Russia and Germany were at war.” As White observes in one essay, Russian state news couldn’t get enough of Occupy Wall Street. Indeed, RT flew Occupy organizers to London to be interviewed by Julian Assange for his TV show on the Kremlin-backed network. One thing White said discourages him about the Russian propaganda efforts is how successful they were in terms of pure reach. As a rule, activists operate on a shoestring. The funds from the Russian trolls helped do things activists normally may be hard-pressed to pull off, like those classes in de-escalation. “I do think it’s a watershed moment for American activism where American activists have to say, ‘Why is Russia able to create fake Facebook pages that get more likes than we do?’ I think it’s another sign that protest is broken,” he told TPM. Another person contacted by the troll farm said he was surprised when the person who reached out wanting to facilitate political action wasn’t especially interested in talking politics. “Their idea was they wanted to address police brutality, maybe do know-your-rights training,” said Omowale Adewale, a trainer in New York City who was asked to lead self-defense classes in Brooklyn and Queens by a troll-run group called BlackFist. “I was doing street harassment self-defense classes for women, so they caught me really at a time when I was already kind of engaged in a lot of this work.” Adewale told TPM that while he was skeptical of the person who contacted him, he never thought a foreign government was recruiting him. He just thought the whole thing was probably a setup for a scam that would end up stealing from him. “There never was any politics, which was just nuts,” he said. But then the people Adewale thought might be scammers sent money to him. The prospect of offering something good to his community, especially bankrolled from the outside, thrilled him—but he was still curious about where the money was coming from. His thoughts, though, were primarily with a black community living in fear. “I don’t know if you can fathom in the community the way people feel really targeted by police brutality,” Adewale told TPM. “I’m a fighter myself. Sometimes I jog and I’m running and cops are around. You can’t just run past them! White folks can just keep jogging, but if I’m in jogging gear, my jogging gear might include a hoodie! That’s problematic on a huge level, that somebody might be nervous and I might get shot, or at least get stopped and harassed. That’s the kind of thing that happens to me. A lot of things have to take place before you physically get somebody’s hands off of you. [It’s about] de-escalation ad knowing your rights. You really don’t want to die.” That fear was a good litmus test for Adewale when it came to the intentions of “Taylor,” as well. “Taylor” didn’t seem to feel it, for himself or for anyone else. “The lack of any kind of caring,” Adewale told TPM, “gave me insight.”

New Podcast

Friday October 20th, 2017 08:24:06 PM
Episode 24 of The Josh Marshall Show (sub req): I talk to author Frank Foer about his new book “World Without Mind”, how big tech is changing the nature of our lives and our understanding of who we are.

White House: ‘Unfortunate’ If Widow Of Fallen Soldier ‘Misunderstood’ Trump

Friday October 20th, 2017 06:53:30 PM
The White House is sticking by its line that President Donald Trump was respectful during his conversation with the widow of a fallen soldier, whose mother told The Washington Post that she felt “disrespected” by Trump’s remarks. During the White House press briefing Friday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was “unfortunate” if the family “misunderstood.” “Certainly if the spirit of which those comments were intended was misunderstood, that’s very unfortunate. As the President has said, as General Kelly has said, who I think has a very deep understanding of what that individual would be going through, his comments were very sympathetic, very respectful,” Sanders said. “And that was the spirit in which the President intended them. If they were taken in any other way, that’s certainly an unfortunate thing.”  The comments follow a week-long firestorm that Trump started on Monday when he was asked about the deaths of four U.S. troops in Niger nearly two weeks ago. Trump claimed that “Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls,” which was met with widespread condemnation from former Obama aides. When Trump did make phone calls to the families of the four fallen soldiers, 14 days after their deaths, he reportedly told Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, that the soldier “knew what he was getting into” when he enlisted, according to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who was apparently in the car with Johnson when she received the call. Trump and Wilson have been publicly criticizing each other ever since, with Trump calling Wilson a liar and Wilson standing by her characterization of the phone call. Chief of Staff John Kelly got involved on Thursday, telling reporters he was “stunned” by the fact that Wilson had listened in on the phone call and calling Wilson an “empty barrel.”

WH Says 'Highly Inappropriate' For Reporter To Question 'Marine General'

Friday October 20th, 2017 07:15:12 PM
The White House on Friday told a journalist who asked about errors chief of staff John Kelly made Thursday that it would be “highly inappropriate” to “get into a debate with a four-star Marine general.” The militaristic language, used to refer to the civilian position in the White House occupied by the retired Marine general, came when the reporter pointed out that Kelly had inaccurately accused a congresswoman of claiming credit for securing funding for an FBI building in Miramar, Florida in 2015. As video published Friday by the Sun Sentinel showed, the congresswoman, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), never claimed to have secured funding for the building. She did mention during her speech that she had led a congressional effort to name the building after two fallen FBI officials. Sanders repeated a misleading statement regarding Kelly’s remarks in the press briefing Friday. “As we say in the South, all hat, no cattle,” she added, a statement that could allude to the fact that Rep. Wilson is known to wear colorful hats. The reporter pointed out that Kelly’s statement Thursday was misleading: Wilson didn’t discuss the building’s funding in her speech in 2015. “She also had quite a few comments that day that weren’t part of that speech and weren’t part of that video that were also witnessed by many people that were there,” Sanders said, referring to “what Gen. Kelly referenced yesterday.” The reporter pressed: Would Kelly respond to reporting on his inaccurate statement? “I think he’s addressed that pretty thoroughly yesterday,” Sanders said. “He was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money,” the reporter countered. “If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that’s up to you,” Sanders said. “But I think that, if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.” The press secretary added later, responding separately to a question about a speech made by former President George W. Bush on Thursday: “I think if anybody is pushing a lot of fabricated things right now, I think most of that would be coming from the news media.” Huckabee doubles down on the lies and says it’s “highly inappropriate” to disagree with a Marine 4 Star General. pic.twitter.com/OiVHSeHP1d — Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 20, 2017





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