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trump17What’s probably going on, is that people are convincing Trump that his own pecuniary aggrandizement could be inhibited if he follows through on many of his campaign promises.
 

Trump backed away from a signature pledge of his White House bid on Wednesday, days before release of a closely-watched Treasury Department report on the currency practices of major U.S. trading partners.
 
“They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.
 
The currency decision is one among many instances of Trump reversing course since taking office a little less than three months ago. Within the space of a few hours on Wednesday, Trump changed previously critical stances on the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the value of NATO, interest rates, and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
 
Likewise, his promises to renegotiate NAFTA, slap tariffs on Chinese goods, and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in his first days have been stymied, delayed or abandoned. And the missile strike on a Syrian airfield last week was the sort of foreign military intervention that candidate Trump had warned against.
(Bloomberg)

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Trumped: Bumping Uglies

by Bill Prendergast on April 15, 2017 · 0 comments

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Script/Layout: Bill Prendergast Art: Caitlin Skaalrud

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Get investigations of DeVos back on track

by Dan Burns on April 14, 2017 · 1 comment

devosAnd a couple of additional items.
 

In the lead-up to billionaire Republican megadonor and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ confirmation, numerous media outlets published deep-dive investigations into DeVos’ background, significant political contributions, potential conflicts of interest, far-right ideology, and negative influence on Michigan policies.
 
But since she formally took over at the Department of Education, the investigative work seems to have mostly dropped off; coverage of DeVos has focused more on her public gaffes than the inner workings of the agency she now runs. It certainly doesn’t help that DeVos and her department have struggled with media transparency. As education media writer Alexander Russo wrote, “DeVos takes press questions at events only occasionally, has yet to grant a formal interview with a major national education reporter, and heads a department that only intermittently provides answers in a timely manner – through a spokesperson whose name reporters are forbidden to use. The agency has even struggled to put out her weekly schedule in advance of public events.”
 
It’s time for investigative journalists to dig deeper and shine light on DeVos’ priorities, such as early staffing decisions at the Education Department. There’s certainly plenty to explore — many of the temporary staffers in the Education Department are veterans of the right-wing think tank echo chamber on “education reform,” and some have anti-LGBTQ and anti-black track records. Like DeVos, almost none have spent significant time as educators.
(Media Matters)

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trump15Pr*sident Trump’s mercurial, largely ignorant approach to foreign policy is frightening.
 

If Donald Trump thought his publicity stunt in Syria would make Americans feel better about his leadership skills and end Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people, he was sorely mistaken.
 
According to a new poll from ABC News/Washington Post, a larger number of Americans are less confident in the president than they are more confident because of his ineffective, politically motivated strike on Syria, and the vast majority of people think it won’t do much to help the situation in the region.
(PoliticusUSA)

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inside-baseballEnough time has gone by since the 2016 Democratic Primary that we can now, I think, separate the unreachable from the merely burned Democrats. Hillary supporters are finally admitting that their candidate may have lost (even though she actually did win the popular vote) and Bernie supporters have stopped calling foul on the entire election process.
 
Right?
 
First, from me, full disclosure: I liked both candidates a lot. I decided, as I generally do, to pick the one that I thought would win the nomination, if possible, to support as soon as I was pretty certain of that.
 
Pursuant to this, as many of you who read my blog know, I developed a model for predicting primary and caucus outcomes. My model out performed everyone else’s, including the famous FiveThirthEight. I got a few “wrong” but actually got them more right by predicting the percentage of vote split between Hillary and Bernie very closely, but since the vote was essentially 50-50, which one won was a tossup, and in a couple of races, my toss went the wrong way. Still, my numbers were closer than everyone else’s.
 
Realizing this was happening I felt comfortable supporting Hillary Clinton at one point, though given the vitriol building around the primary, within the party, I kept my mouth shut for about an extra 10 days.
 
But, even as an eventual Hillary Supporter, I still liked Bernie, and also, I understood how some of the Bernie supporters felt about the process.

 

Some of them were the outsiders, and many didn’t know very much about how it all works. There was a lot of negativity that was really based on not understanding the system, and from believing some really stupid lies. For example, the whole coin toss thing from Iowa.

 
In Minnesota, I witnessed Sanders supporters finish a caucus with one or two fewer delegates than they could have had because they simply did not understand how delegates were counted (in a walking caucus). They had piles of time, they kept calling for “democracy” and stuff, Hillary supporters were telling them, “reorganize that group, and that group, you’ll get more delegates” but they didn’t listen.

 
So yes, Bernie lost fair and square, but at the same time, many Bernie supporters left the process with significant butt-hurt, and in my expert opinion (yes, I’m an expert on political butt-hurt) some of those bad feelings were self inflicted or simply not legit, while some of those bad feelings were very valid.
 
One of the complaints that was valid was in the area of endorsements. You may remember that Clinton got way more of the usual endorsements than Sanders. Do you also remember that these endorsements came way early in the process? Not all, but at least a few of them, were given to Clinton weeks before they were given to any candidate during the 2008 primary.
 
Sanders supporters were justifiably upset at that. There should be a respectful amount of time before deciding which candidate should get an endorsement. The accusation made by Bernie supporters was that the Democratic Party was playing inside politics.
 
As a Democrat and a Hillary supporter, I have to agree with that. And, as a Democrat and a person who wants to turn our state Blue, I am concerned that the party is doing the same thing again.
 
Collin Peterson, RT Rybak, and David Wellstone have already endorsed their candidate for Minnesota Governor, just now, so early in the process that we are not even fully sure who is running. They Waltzed into the race and endorsed Congressman Walz way too early. As far as I know, these are the only endorsements of anybody in this race. There is no way that this isn’t some sort of inside politics.
 
Look, Walz would be a great governor (but see below) and I like these three guys. But we had a race with several women being mentioned, some dude comes along, and three dudes jump on his bandwagon. OK, maybe this wasn’t a sexist-jerk act, but it certainly was a knee-jerk act.
 
These endorsements won’t mean anything. Endorsements are only marginally important, somewhere just below lawn signs in their campaign related oomph. But, the early insider endorsements do have an effect. They make people feel like they are being left out of the process.
 
In other words, the total negative impact of early insider baseball endorsements on the process will cause more DFL votes to go away than the total positive impact of having particular endorsements would have on a given candidate’s standing. In behavioral biology and game theory, we call this a spiteful act.
 
Rybak, Wellstone, and Peterson can’t take back their endorsements, but it would sure be nice if everyone else could show some restraint.

 
Below: I’ll add this thought. A seated Democratic member of Congress who leaves his seat to run for something else, and thus gives that seat to the Republicans, in a year like this, is a bone head. Sorry, it is true. If Walz gives his sea to the Republicans next election, and the US House is Republican by one vote, then he will have to … I don’t know what. But something.
 
Comment below fold.
 
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The NASA budget, and other space stuff

by Dan Burns on April 12, 2017 · 0 comments

marslandscapeIt so happens that the date of my birth, 4/12/61, is the same date on which Yuri Gagarin became the first human launched into space. So I’m doing one of my very occasional looks at the U.S. space program.
 
– This actually isn’t much of a surprise, though I too expected the NASA budget would be hit harder. Plenty of right-wingers in Congress have actually long tended to support solid funding, to show our technological superiority over the Soviets (To be clear, I typed “Soviets” on purpose, as that’s where many wingnut heads really are pretty much still at).
 

Make no mistake: the U.S. science community—particularly in the areas of health, energy, geology, and environmental research—will suffer if (Trump’s budget) is enacted.
 
But relative to the dismal news throughout the rest of government and the scientific community, NASA did well. The space program would still be cut, but the amount is much less than many other agencies. It stands to lose 0.8% relative to 2016, down about $200 million from $19.3 billion.
(The Planetary Society)

– This is the coolest space thing online that I’ve dealt with. It’s about the Apollo 11 landing. Takes 20 minutes or so, and works better with headphones.
 
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minnesota_state_capitolAt least, that seems the readily apparent interpretation, to me.
 

Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner Myron Frans held a state Capitol news conference Wednesday to say the budget proposal Dayton released in January and updated last month is fiscally responsible, while the House and Senate GOP plans are not.
 
“The Legislature’s math just does not add up,” Frans said.
 
Frans accused Republican leaders of using “fuzzy math,” as well as “phony savings” and delayed payments to pay for a large tax cut bill. He suggested many of the bills could be headed for vetoes if not altered.
 
Frans highlighted several examples in the finance bills for Health and Human Services and State Government.
 
“The legislative budget bills we have seen are not serious attempts to govern Minnesota,” Frans said. The bills are designed to be talking points to start negotiations with the governor from an imaginary position, a made up starting point if you will.”
(MPR)

And here’s an example of that “starting point.” Legislators in the Party of Trump actually have the gall to call it the “Minnesota Way.” They should be saying the “ALEC Way.”
 

The Minnesota budget blueprint produced (March 20) by majority House Republicans seeks hefty tax cuts and aims to pare down expected costs in publicly subsidized health and welfare programs.
 
GOP leaders said their framework would deliver long-overdue tax relief given a sizable state budget surplus. The plan would make $1.35 billion in tax cuts the next two years with the details to come later.
(MPR)

 
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Let Republicans Kill the Filibuster

by Eric Ferguson on April 7, 2017 · 0 comments

Republicans chose to use the “nuclear option” and kill the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Good. In the short term it lets a extreme right winger sit for life on the Supreme Court to be essentially another Antonin Scalia, and the Republicans succeeded in stealing a Supreme Court seat. Apparently conservatives believe in preserving behavioral norms only when they see short term advantage to it.
 
But this is a long term benefit to liberals, not conservatives, as the filibuster has benefited conservatives much more than liberals. Note that I said “liberals” and “conservatives”, not “Democrats” and “Republicans”. As your Republicans friends like to say, when trying to claim Democrats are the real racists, lots of Democrats voted against civil rights way back when: a half truth with a half that explains why killing the filibuster is better for liberals. From the end of Reconstruction until the “Solid South” finished switching which party it was solid for in roughly the 1980’s, both parties had conservative and liberal wings. The most conservative element of American politics was southern white Democrats, also called “dixiecrats”, now called “the Republican base”. Conservatives used the filibuster to block anti-lynching bills. Yes, the filibuster made it hard to do anything about lynching during the first half of the 20th century. The civil rights bills of the 60’s might have passed a decade earlier, but didn’t because they were filibustered by a big enough conservative minority.
 
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trump8The article goes on to note plenty of recent specifics.
 

Again and again on the campaign trail, Donald Trump made promises he couldn’t keep, playing on the ignorance of his base and revealing his own glaring misunderstanding of policy. The GOP candidate repeatedly vowed to strongarm companies into keeping jobs at home instead of sending them to Mexico, renegotiate NAFTA and impose stiff import taxes on foreign goods. It was a message that appealed widely to Trump supporters, blending the illusion of economic hope with the rubric of “America First” nationalism.
 
Problem is, nothing about Trump’s vision has anything to do with reality, and U.S. jobs continue to be sent across the border.
(AlterNet)

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trump13Note that corporate media still talks in terms of Trump removing “regulations,” not public protections. Even as it continues to use conservative framing like “unborn child” and “tax ‘relief'” at every opportunity. So, no, it’s no surprise that working-class voters would not have known.
 

But, of course, the “working class” voters who helped elect Trump and the Republicans all voted for this, right? They all clearly understood that electing Republicans meant that their pay and civil rights and job-safety were going to be rolled back so that the giant corporations could pass ever-higher profits to their “investors.” Right?
 
Of course they did. And they understood that the things our government does to make our lives better would be rolled back so that investor class could get huge tax cuts. Right? Of course they did.
(OurFuture.org)

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