Saturday, December 10, 2016

Weekly Address: It’s Time to Get Covered on the Health Insurance Marketplace

West Wing Week: 12/09/16

White House Press Briefing

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

On Saturday, December 10, 2016, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2028, the "Further and Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017." 
Note: Details are available here
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Washington Post on the ‘Fake News’ Hot Seat

At least one of the websites blamed in a story for supposedly circulating Russian propaganda is threatening to sue the storied newspaper.

By Lloyd Grove

The Washington Post—whose coverage of Watergate four decades ago angered the powers that be, toppled a president, and defined courageous journalism—has unleashed a hornet’s nest of a different sort, one unlikely to earn a Pulitzer Prize.

Indeed, Washington’s newspaper of record—which was purchased in 2013 by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos from the storied Graham family—is uncomfortably weathering a barrage of criticism from fellow journalists and others for a front-page story published over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The story, by Post technology reporter Craig Timberg and published Nov. 24, purported to reveal how “sophisticated” Russian propagandists had spread fake news through hundreds of web sites to destabilize American democracy, thwart Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump to the White House.

So far the story—which has attracted millions of page views and more than 14,000 comments—has provoked lawsuit threats from at least two of the web sites, notably the widely respected financial blog Naked Capitalism, which fired off a legal letter demanding a retraction and apology even though the Post story does not specifically mention Naked Capitalism or any of the other allegedly Russian-influenced websites.

There has also been a fusillade of disparaging commentary in publications ranging from The Intercept to The New Yorker.

“I thought it was completely ridiculous that the Post would put this sorry piece of trash on the front page,” Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine, told The Daily Beast in a typically vehement slam.

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Daily Beast 

The Phony War, Trump, and the U.S. Ruling Class


In the years leading up to the start of the Second World War in 1939, the Soviet Union tried vainly on several different occasions to get Britain and France to join together in an anti-German pact, in an attempt to deter Nazi aggression in Eastern Europe.  For a variety of reasons, the two Western Powers declined to do so.  Then on August 25, 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the “Nazi-Soviet Pact.”  For the Nazis, the primary objective was to continue their “Drang nach Osten” (Drive to the East).  Previously, the British and the French, refusing Soviet pleas to join in a pact to prevent the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, had strongly encouraged it with the Munich Pact in September, 1938.  For the Soviet Union, the Pact was intended to buy time before the eventual German invasion that Hitler had been writing about since the publication of Mein Kampf in 1926.  (That they made very poor use of the purchased time [and territory] is another story).

On September 1, 1939, using a false flag event, the German’s invaded Poland. Great Britain and France, citing hastily drawn-up treaty obligations to Poland, declared war on September 3.  Germany rolled up its share of Poland (which included Warsaw) in about five weeks.  The English and the French mobilized, The English sent an expeditionary force to France.  There things stood, with very minor actions (including some at sea), until Germany invaded Norway and Denmark in April, 1940 and the Low Countries (Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg) on May 10, 1940.  All of a sudden, the war in the West was on in no uncertain terms.  That interim period on the Western Front, in which little or nothing happened, had been quickly labelled The Phoney War.  It was probably first given its name by the isolationist U.S. Senator, William Borah.

By all accounts, Hitler did not expect to be invading Poland with his Panzer divisions, opposed only by a Polish army heavily dependent on cavalry, in September, 1939.  Thus, on the Western Front, the Phoney War.  By all accounts, the Trumpites really did not expect to win the Presidency, although their hopes rose significantly upon the interference in the election by FBI Director, William Comey.  But win they did.  Unprepared and poorly organized for Transition as they apparently were (under the “leadership” of Chris Christie [who?]), I fully expected that Trump would do nothing more than issue his usual blusters on a periodic basis and also try to make nice, in a Trumpian sort of way, now and then. 

Only after Inauguration would he then launch into full Trump mode, fully and openly in league with the reactionary forces that were increasingly gathering around him after the leading Far Rightist Steve Bannon, et al, joined the campaign in August.  It happens that the “et al” included Trump’s first really big money outside man, Steve Mercer, a major factor in the “hedge fund” wing of the ruling class.  Trump is rich (or at least he has claimed to be rich although declining to prove it through, let us say, release of his income tax returns), but he had never been a certified member of that class.  Now it was becoming clear that Trump was beginning to seriously move towards it.

And so, I must say that I thought Trump would engage in his version of the Phoney War right up until January 21, 2017, and then Boom!  But I was wrong.  Trump is nothing if not a clever marketer, particularly of himself and his name.  And so, almost since the election he has been engaging in a Trumpian Phoney War while also making it very clear what the Trumpian Real War will be like, once he takes power.  And so, on the one hand he makes nice.  “We all have to come together.”  He meets with the top leadership of The New York Times and, after slamming them as hard as he could during the campaign, he says words to the effect of that The Times is a great and important news organization.  (This, by the way, has to be seen in the context of his threatening libel suits and the “loosening of libel laws [which, by the way, cannot be done at the Federal level] during the campaign.) 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: The Greanville Post

Friday, December 9, 2016

Making History: President Obama's New Approach to Old Adversaries

Behind the Scenes: The Affordable Care Act

Go behind the scenes with President Obama on the day that the Affordable Care Act was passed and the day it was signed into law. 

The footage includes: President Obama traveling to the Capitol to speak to the Democratic members of the House and Senate the day before the vote; the President watching the vote with staff in the Roosevelt Room before speaking to the nation on its passage, and the President hosting a reception in the White House residence to thank the staff who worked alongside him in bringing the legislation over the finish line.

The footage also follows the physical legislation from the Capitol to the Office of the Vice President and then to an East Room signing ceremony. After, President Obama welcomes the individuals who stood with him at the signing ceremony into the Oval Office.

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law


On Thursday, December 8, 2016, the President signed into law:
H.R. 4665, the "Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016," which requires the Department of Commerce to conduct an assessment of the outdoor recreation economy of the United States;
H.R. 4902, which amends the overtime compensation system for U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine Operations officers to Law Enforcement Availability Pay;
H.R. 5785, which exempts retired air traffic controllers under contract with the Federal Aviation Administration as full-time air traffic control instructors from a reduction to their Federal Employees Retirement System annuity supplement;
H.R. 5873, which designates the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 511 East San Antonio Avenue in El Paso, Texas, as the R.E. Thomason Federal Building and United States Courthouse; and
S. 2754, which designates the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 300 Fannin Street in Shreveport, Louisiana, as the Tom Stagg Federal Building and United States Courthouse. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

Veep Meet & Greet: Chancellor Masrour Barzani

On December 8, Vice President Biden met with Masrour Barzani, Chancellor of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Security Council, on the margins of the Chancellor's meeting with Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines.  The Vice President commended Peshmerga and Iraqi forces for their bravery and sacrifice in the fight against ISIL and offered condolences for lives lost.  The Vice President applauded the close cooperation between the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to ensure ISIL's lasting defeat and reaffirmed strong U.S. support for a united, democratic, and federal Iraq committed to the welfare of all Iraqi citizens. 

Source: The White House, Office of the Vice President

'Flashback Friday': Morton Downey Jr. - White Supremacy at The Apollo

Trailblazers in Black History: Charlie Sifford

Charles Luther Sifford was a professional golfer who was the first African-American to play on the PGA Tour. He won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969. He also won the United Golf Association's National Negro Open six times, and the PGA Senior's Championship in 1975.

For his contributions to golf, Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. He was awarded the Old Toms Morris Award in 2007, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014, and an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews. Lee Trevino referred to Sifford as the "Jackie Robinson" of golf, and Tiger Woods acknowledged that Sifford paved the way for his career.

Additional information is available here

Source: Wikipedia

South Korean President Park Stripped of Her Powers After Impeachment Vote

SEOUL — South Korea's parliament voted overwhelmingly to impeach President Park Geun-hye on Friday after a huge political scandal involving a childhood friend and confidant left her isolated and loathed.

Park was officially stripped of her powers just after 7 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET), and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn took over as acting president.

"I stand here with grave and sad heart and feel deeply responsible for what's happening now and I am very sorry," said Hwang said. "We cannot allow any gap in the governance and I am going to do my very best to restore stability."

For more than a month, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans have spilled onto the streets each Saturday to protest Park's relationship with Choi Soon-sil who is accused of massive influence peddling. 

Click here for the full article. 

Source: NBC News

Ellison's DNC Chair Bid Regains Steam as New Challenger Looms

Rep. Keith Ellison's bid to chair the Democratic National Committee regained momentum Thursday with a key endorsement from the AFL-CIO, even as outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez moves closer to a potential challenge.

Ellison's boost followed days of rough headlines for the progressive Minnesota lawmaker, who on Wednesday reversed course by promising to resign his seat in Congress if he wins the party post.

With Democrats out of power at all levels of government, it's an important choice at a tumultuous time. The next chairman will have to unite a party fractured by loss and at the nadir of its power. But they'll have the opportunity to lead its comeback and be recognized for it. 

Click here for the full article. 

Fmr. GOP EPA Head Calls Trump's Pick 'Troubling'

Bipartisan Effort to Investigate Russia's Role in US Election