Donald’s long history of doing things just because he can

Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should do that thing.

Trump meets Comey at an Oval Office reception (Image Credit: Andrew Harrer / POOL / EPA)

In case you missed it, the Washington Post broke a story about Donald revealing classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador. In response, Donald tweeted that he has the “absolute right” to share classified information with anyone he likes.

Donald is right. The President is the ultimate authority when it comes to deciding what to share or not. If the President wants to burn an intelligence source (resulting in the imprisonment or death of that source), the President has the authority to do so. If the President wants to publish detailed notes describing exactly how an intelligence agency does gathers their intelligence, the President can do so. There are only two checks on the President’s ability to do this. The first is the President’s advisors convincing the President not to share sensitive information. The second is the Congress’ Constitutional authority to impeach, find the President guilty of treason or other crimes, and remove him from office.

Ultimately, though, this is an issue of what a President can do, vs. what a President should do. And that’s the problem with Donald – so far as I can tell, he’s never bothered asking himself whether he should do something. If Donald could, Donald did. Continue reading

Dear Donald, the FBI needs to enforce federal law not resurrect the spirit of J. Edgar Hoover

Dear Donald,

Two nights ago, after firing now former FBI director James Comey, you tweeted the following:

With all due respect, Donald, what the FBI needs is someone who will enforce federal law. I’m not even sure what you mean by the “spirit and prestige” as it applies to the FBI. Are you talking about the good old days, like when J. Edgar Hoover was in charge and the FBI illegally hunted down communists, both real and imagined? Or the good old days when J. Edgar Hoover was in charge and had agents infiltrate the civil rights movement? Or the good old days when the FBI infiltrated various governments within Latin America?

Law enforcement isn’t often prestigious, Donald, locally or federally. And frankly, given you embedded a slavishly loyal racist as your Attorney General, the FBI needs a director who will be independent of you. Continue reading

Donald’s new executive order gives really rich people another dark-money weapon

President Donald signed an executive order this week, intending to relax tax-law consequences on churches that endorse political candidates. In his zeal to “protect and vigorously promote religious liberty,” he opened the door to yet another avenue for really rich people to subvert democratic choice in U.S. elections.

https://www.legalzoom.com/sites/legalzoom.com/files/uploaded/articles/maintaining_tax_exempt_status_in_a_nonprofit.jpgDonald’s language a few months ago foreshadowed this: “I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.” Well, he can’t do that. Congress makes law, not presidents.

However, his executive order “discourages the IRS from going after churches aggressively for their political expression.” The Johnson Amendment “prohibits tax-exempt charitable organizations such as churches from participating directly or indirectly in any political campaign to support or oppose a candidate. Continue reading

Export U.S. coal to Asia? Not so fast, say three West Coast states — and Canada?

Coal-Train-300x268It appears Canada may no longer be a willing partner for American coal companies wishing to export coal to Asia. No economically feasible alternatives to get coal to Pacific Rim markets exist for those companies, either.

News item from October 2016:

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A coal company with mines in Montana and Wyoming said Thursday that it’s begun exporting fuel to Asia through a Canadian shipping terminal, after its years-long effort to secure port access in the U.S. Pacific Northwest has come up short.

That’s not surprising. The use of coal in America, as S&R explained last year, has stalled — and it’s not going to rebound despite President Donald’s promise to revive the coal industry. So the owners of big coal mines in Montana and Wyoming are looking to export coal to Asian markets to shore up revenues.

But the states of California, Washington, and Oregon have opposed coal export terminal projects in Oakland, Calif.; Bellingham, Gray’s Harbor, and Longview, Wash.; and Port of Morrow, St. Helens, and Coos Bay, Ore. So coal corporations have decided to ship through Canadian ports on its western coast. For now, maybe.

Continue reading

Donald’s “judge shopping” anti-liberal dog whistle tweets (Updated)

Update: I got two terms confused, “judge shopping” vs. “jurisdictional arbitrage.” I’ve updated the paragraph accordingly

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick of California stopped implementation of Donald’s executive order to eliminate money for sanctuary cities because it was likely unconstitutional. The case was heard by California because it had been brought by the city of San Francisco and Santa Clara County, both located in California.

And yet this is what Donald tweeted:

What part of “US District Court judge” did you not understand, Donald? Sure, if you sue, you’ll go through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, before you get to the Supreme Court, but you haven’t done that yet. Continue reading

American vs. unAmerican values, according to the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America

Values that run contrary to the Constitution of the United States of America are, by definition, unAmerican values. Let’s consider the rights defined by the First Amendment.

The First Amendment (image credit: Odyssey Online)

For a discussion of unAmerican values pertaining to the Declaration of Independence, click here.

Without the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, the United States would not exist. As such, the values laid out in these two documents are, by definition, American values. And any values held in opposition to the values in these documents are, again by definition, unAmerican.

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The United States was not founded as a Christian nation. It is not now and has never been a Christian nation. Anyone who wants the United States to be run in strict adherence to Christian morality – or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Wiccan morality – is advocating for an unAmerican position. Similarly, requiring prayer in a public school is also unAmerican. Continue reading

Obamacare repeal exposes House Republicans’ policy nakedness (update #2)

After seven years of political games without having to govern, House Republicans are damned if they repeal Obamacare, and damned if they don’t.

(Image credit: The Nation)

Updated: Added WaPo link and quote at the bottom.

Update #2: Paul Ryan pulls the AHCA. See CNN link and details at the bottom.

So the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare), the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was supposed to go to a vote yesterday. That didn’t happen. So the AHCA is being debated on the House floor and voted on today instead. After Donald threatened to “walk away” from repealing Obamacare if the House couldn’t pass the bill today. And after the Congressional Budget Office re-scored the amended bill as still costing 24 million people their health insurance and reducing the deficit by less than half of what the introduced bill did ($150 billion over 10 years for the amended bill vs. 334 billion originally).

The wonderful thing is that, no matter what the House Republicans do today, they lose. Either they overreach and risk losing their seats in 2018, or they fail to deliver on their “repeal and replace Obamacare” campaign promises and risk losing their seats in 2018. Either way, they lose. Continue reading

Donald’s “America First” budget puts Americans dead last

Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

This is the America First budget. In fact, we wrote it using the president’s own words. We went through his speeches. We went through articles that have been written about his policies … and we turned those policies into numbers. (from NPR)

That’s what Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said while briefing reporters on Donald’s proposed budget.

America first.

How does eliminating the healthcare of 24 million people put America first?

How does eliminating funding for the Independent Chemical Safety Board, which investigates industrial chemical accidents and ensures the safety of the public, put America first?

How does eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which ensures universal access and helps fund non-profit, community television and radio stations around the country, put America first?

How does defunding the organization that helps train and pay for minorities to access civil rights lawyers, the Legal Services Corporation, put America first? Continue reading

The Congressional Budget Office scores Trumpcare: immoral

Obamacare gave 23 million people medical insurance; Trumpcare will strip it away from 24 million.

Congressional Budget Office logo

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Trumpcare will cost 24 million people their health insurance, with 14 million of those losses coming next year (assuming Trumpcare passes this year).

As the end of 2016, Obamacare lowered the uninsured rate from right before Obamacare took effect to 10.9%. That’s about 23 million more people with health insurance.

Medicaid (the medical insurance program for the poor) would be cut by $880 billion over the next 10 years. That reverses the tax increase levied on the wealthy to pay for the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, and the CBO estimates that Trumpcare will result in 14 million poor people losing Medicaid over the next 10 years. 14 million people.

I’ve been happily paying higher taxes without complaint for years so that my income could subsidize health insurance for people who couldn’t afford it – like friends and former coworkers who had been out of work and either had to self-insure for an insane amount of money or go without insurance and pray they didn’t get sick. It was the moral thing to do in 2013, and it still is. Continue reading

Nearly everything you need to know about TrumpCare

Trumpcare (image credit: NotionsCapitol)

TrumpCare’s first draft was written in secret. Obamacare was written largely in the public view.

TrumpCare was written over the course of a few weeks. Obamacare was written over the course of four months.

When drafting Trumpcare, Republicans didn’t get public input from doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, or patients’ advocacy groups. Democrats held public hearings with doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and advocacy groups to get their input on early drafts.

TrumpCare was introduced to the House before the Congressional Budget Office had a chance to estimate how much money TrumpCare would save or cost, or how many people would lose their insurance. Obamacare went through multiple revisions, most of which were reviewed by the CBO. Continue reading

Large cuts to NOAA research, satellite operations will degrade weather forecasting and military preparedness

Donald’s proposed deep cuts to NOAA satellite operations will make weather forecasting less reliable and run counter to Donald’s goal of “rebuilding” the military.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

According to the Washington Post, Donald is considering deep cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of his proposed budget. The anonymous sources upon which the Post based their article cautioned that the exact details of which programs would get cut and by how much would likely change, but the relative magnitudes of the reported cuts provide some insight into Donald’s thinking:

Based on these numbers, we can surmise that Donald doesn’t want to impact weather forecasting (which is important to literally everyone), wants to maintain the fishing industry, but wants to cut most climate science and government-funded research out of NOAA. The problem is that it’s not going to work. Continue reading

Republican overreach will hopefully lead to massive losses in 2018

I wouldn’t have asked for single-party Republican rule, but now we’ve got it, I hope they overreach badly and get tossed out on their asses for it in two years.

republicanlogo-svgOver the years, I’ve occasionally wondered whether it would be a good idea to let the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency. My logic went like this: once they’re in power, they’ll overreach so badly that the next midterm and Presidential elections will go overwhelmingly to the Democrats. It’s not that the Democrats wouldn’t necessarily overreach, but rather that Democrats’ sense of fairness and general willingness to follow data to wherever it leads makes them less likely to overreach as badly. That and the fact that it’s past time for the pendulum to swing back toward the left (not just the center-right, as it did under Obama).

But I’ve always concluded that, while the Republicans taking over might sound good in theory, practically speaking it was a very bad idea for a variety of reasons. The Republicans might install a right-wing conservative onto the Supreme Court. They would probably cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. They likely lower taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor and middle class. They might cut unemployment insurance, food stamps, and housing credits for the poor. They would be more likely to get the US into even more wars and spend even more on an already massively military-industrial complex.

So even though I’ve thought about voting Republican in an attempt to force the country back to the left in the following election cycle, my values wouldn’t let me.

Which brings me to 2017. Donald, who claims to be a Republican, is President. Republicans control the House of Representatives. Republicans also control the Senate. And while I certainly wouldn’t have wished for this to happen, it has. Continue reading

Steve Milloy, a liar-for-hire and immoral hypocrite, was part of Donald’s EPA transition team

Milloy has been manufacturing fear, uncertainty, and doubt for dirty industries since he helped the tobacco industries continue addicting and killing customers in the 1990s.

Steven J. Milloy (image credit: Fox News)

Steven J. Milloy (image credit: Fox News)

Donald doesn’t care about the truth. He doesn’t mind the truth, but when the truth or objective reality get in the way of Donald’s plans, he keeps the plan and jettisons the truth. I learned yesterday about one of the more insidious examples of this fact, specifically in reference to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Not only did Donald tap Myron Ebell, a denier of the reality of industrial climate disruptionNote 1 who is associated with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, to lead his EPA transition team, but Steve Milloy was one of the members of the team as well.

Milloy is not be a household name, but he’s long been known as a liar-for-hire who is willing to sell his dishonesty to any dirty industry facing regulations that might curtail their profits, especially the tobacco industry, the agriculture industry, and the energy industry. I personally have been aware of Milloy since 2007, when I first stumbled across a “survey” that he had created in order to manufacture fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about the reality of industrial climate disruption. Continue reading

Music for CPAC and America’s bigoted Administration

The organizer of the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC), Dan Schneider, called Richard Spencer and his cadre of white nationalists (aka the “alt-right”) a “hateful, left-wing fascist group” got me thinking about this song. Well, that and how poorly the current Administration is doing lately with respect to bigotry. You know, broadening the deportation guidelines to include pretty much everyone from south of the border, the immigration and travel ban, reversing the guidance on equal access to restrooms for transgendered men and women, and the like.


(this version was put up by TMBG themselves, BTW) Continue reading

Donald attacks the media, FBI, and intelligence agencies over Flynn’s “resignation”

A real President would promise to find out just how deeply Russia has influenced his Administration. Then there’s Donald Trump….

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Three days ago, I wrote a post I titled “After Michael Flynn’s resignation, Donald will be out for blood.” In it, I wrote

Donald lost tonight, and every time he’s lost he’s gone on Twitter or stood before an audience to rant against whoever was responsible for his loss. I anticipate that Donald will attack the media again for reporting the facts about Flynn and his Russia contacts. And I expect he’ll instruct his new Attorney General to figure out who in the FBI was investigating Flynn, and who leaked the information that Flynn was being investigated….

Two days ago, we learned that Donald knew about Flynn’s Russia contacts, and that Flynn had lied about them, since January 26. And supposedly, Flynn was asked to resign because of “eroding trust” between him and Donald. Riiiight.

I don’t know about anyone else, but if I found out my National Security Advisor had been lying to me and was susceptible to blackmail by foreign powers as a result of it, I’d have fired him almost immediately, not waited two weeks until the media broke the story and forced my hand. Because, you know, national security. But maybe that’s because I take stuff like this seriously, rather than treating the Presidency like a business investment. Continue reading

After Michael Flynn’s resignation, Donald will be out for blood

Donald doesn’t lose well. I doubt he’ll ignore the role of the media and FBI leaks in Flynn’s resignation

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

Michael Flynn, Donald’s now former National Security Advisor, resigned from his position this evening. In a statement, Flynn said he “misled” Vice-President Pence about a phone call Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States in which the two discussed having Donald lift sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion and annexation of Crimea.

Flynn’s contacts with Russia had been under investigation by the Justice Department since Donald took office, if not before then, and the fact that Flynn was being investigated had been widely reported in the media. In fact, the Washington Post reported just tonight that the FBI considered Flynn a blackmail risk due to his lying to Pence.

Continue reading

Quotes from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against Donald’s immigration ban

9th_circuit_sealToday a three judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that they would not overturn the injunction blocking most of Donald’s immigration and travel ban Executive Order. I read the entire ruling, and I’ve extracted several key or amusing quotes from it below. Many of these were quotes that I posted first on Facebook, but I wanted to collect them all in one place.

As I said after DeVos was confirmed, “We cannot let our defeats demoralize us into inaction any more than we can permit our victories to lull us into a false sense of security.” But for tonight, enjoy the 9th Circuit’s very polite yet firm rejections of pretty much everything the Administration argued. Continue reading

What is a liberal? Fairness is my core value

Liberals should talk about our values. And we should start with fairness.

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Equity is another word for fairness (image credit: King County)

Over the last few years, I’ve read liberals saying that we need to talk about our values more openly, to own them, to assert that they are just as much American values as conservative values are. But I’ve never been comfortable talking about my values. Partly that’s because I’m an introvert. Partly because sharing such important stuff about myself feels a bit like everyone’s nightmare of showing up to give a presentation and realizing you’re naked before the crowd. And partly it’s because some of my values have shifted over the years as I’ve matured and experienced more of life, and I’m sure that some of them will shift again in the future.

But since Donald’s election I’ve been thinking about my values a lot. I’ve already chosen to fight for my values via my writing, and I’m prepared to fight for my values by putting my personal safety on the line if need be. So I figured that, if I’m going to be willing to risk my career or my physical well-being, I’d better be damned sure I know what my values are.

After a great deal of thought, I’ve finally realized what my core value is. The one value that matters more to me than any other. The one value against which all my other values are weighed, and from which most of my values spring. The one value with which I weigh the character of everyone I encounter.

Fairness. Continue reading

Betsy DeVos’ confirmation was a defeat, but the greater battle for America’s future continues

Fighting Donald Trump’s agenda is a war, and there will be both victories and defeats

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos (image credit: Slate)

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos (image credit: Slate)

Today the Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. She’s one of the least qualified people who has ever been nominated to the position, and she demonstrated such during her confirmation hearing. And for those of us who reject vouchers for private religious schools, who support children with special needs, who want to keep guns out of schools, and who support teaching our children critical thinking skills, this was undoubtedly a loss. And a painful loss at that.

But as with any conflict, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

As painful as the DeVos confirmation is, it’s only a skirmish in the greater war. The greater battle is stopping DeVos from implementing Donald’s education agenda. Continue reading

Dark thoughts about Donald and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

What would happen if Donald sent thugs to try to make the judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals an offer they couldn’t refuse?

9th_circuit_sealOn Saturday, a federal judge in Washington issued a nationwide injunction against the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department and blocked them from enforcing Donald’s travel/immigration ban. On Sunday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to immediately block the lower judge’s injunction until it could hear a full appeal later this week (possibly as early as tomorrow).

To give you some idea of how dark my thoughts have become since Donald took over (in case worrying about being nuked in my sleep wasn’t bad enough), on the way home from skiing today I found myself wondering if Donald would send law enforcement/thugs to threaten the judges on the 9th Circuit in order to get them to rule in his favor. Continue reading