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Jimmy Kimmel Asks People If They Prefer Obamacare Or The Affordable Care Act

Huffington Post News - 28 min 9 sec ago

A lot of people hate Obamacare.

So, a staffer at “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” hit the streets to see whether pedestrians preferred the Affordable Care Act, harkening back to a 2013 episode that pulled the exact same prank.

The thing is, there is no difference between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act. The Huffington Post previously investigated the matter and discovered that they are the same damn thing.

The. Same. Damn. Thing.

According to the video above, however, some people are still not aware of this fact.

Watch above for more hilarious responses.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

This Photo's Hidden History Makes Me Want To Fight Trump Even More

Huffington Post News - 28 min 54 sec ago

This picture has been in my mom’s kitchen for as long as I can remember. Recently, she told me that she wanted me to have it.

I knew that it originally belonged to my Uncle Ward, her brother, who was gay and died of AIDS in 1990 and who was one of the most brilliant, wittiest, most sarcastically hilarious men to have ever walked this planet ― all of which I gleaned from only knowing him for just over a decade.

While I’ve always loved the image because of the inherently subversive, almost charming disconnect between its intended meaning and our modern understanding and reclaiming of the term “queer,” I didn’t know its back story until it arrived yesterday along with a note from my mom that read in part:

“There is no one Ward would want this picture to go to more than you. He picked out the framing with me the weekend I went to bring him home [from New York City, where he lived, to Wisconsin, to die]. I knew he was going to die ― but he did not. He never saw this picture framed. I picked it up when I returned to New York City [after his death] to close up his apartment. He found the image in a cookbook he purchased at a used book store.”

I have spent most of this week feeling absolutely devastated about what is happening in and to this country and what’s about to happen in just a few days as Trump and his cronies come to power. It feels like there’s something rotting inside of my chest and as it rots, it’s seeping into every part of my body and it’s poisoning everything I think and feel and see — and I know a lot of you feel the same way.

As much as I want to give up sometimes, especially this week, right now I’m thinking of my Uncle Ward and what he went through and how indebted I am to him for paving the way for me. I’m thinking of who and what he loved, what he dreamt about, all of the things he never got to see ― from the queer rights triumphs of the last two and a half decades to this picture in its frame ― or experience, how he didn’t know how much time he’d have here or what effect his life would have on me ― just 12 years old at the time of his death and terrified of the deep gay secret I already held and hated inside of me.

And as much as I want to just quit and be done with everything sometimes, especially since Nov. 8, I think of my mom and what she’s been through — the men and women she has seen and helped die, the battles she has fought in the name of women’s rights and queer rights and freedom and fairness for so many other groups — and how indebted I am to her for making me the man I am today.

This week is unlike anything we’ve experienced before and I’m afraid the next week and the next month and the month after that and the year after that might bring more of the same, but as much as we may want to throw up our hands and disappear, we can’t. We have too many people who fought for us; some who made it and some who didn’t, some who are still here and some who only exist in memories and the creases of a picture that carries a story time-traveled to me from 25 years ago.

As exhausting as it is and as much as it hurts, we owe it to those who came before us and to ourselves and to all of those who will follow after us to keep fighting. We will get through this because we have to get through this. There is simply no other acceptable option.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Fatal Flaws of Any Post-ACA Republican Replacement Plan

Huffington Post News - 42 min 34 sec ago

The recent first step by the Republicans for repeal of the ACA (by a vote of 51-48 in the Senate and 227-198 in the House) (1) opens up an intense debate among Republicans as to how and when to replace it. President-elect Donald Trump is pressing Congress to replace it concurrently, or nearly so, with its actual repeal, with which House Speaker Paul Ryan now seems to agree. Recent talk of a two to four-year delay is quickly fading away. Having embarked on the budget reconciliation process, the GOP can expect to pass repeal with just a bare majority vote in Congress, thereby avoiding filibuster by Democrats, but knows it will need 60 votes in the Senate to pass any real replacement package, thus requiring some help from the Democrats.

Some say the GOP still has no replacement plan, after almost seven years contesting the ACA, But they actually have published their principles, and have somewhat similar competing plans on the shelf, with some variation as to details. Republicans now realize the political dangers of a two to four-year delay after repeal, and are now trying to gain consensus among these plans as two House committees report out by the end of this month. The question of Tom Price's role in the outcome lingers as his committee hearings are delayed into February, when we will learn if he is to be confirmed as incoming head of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

In the meantime, we already know a lot about what to expect in the final Republican post-ACA replacement plan. First, these are the principles upon which it will be based:

  1. States, not the federal government, should have primary responsibility for health policy;

  2. Patients and doctors should be in control;

  3. There should be more competition among health plans to give patients more choices; and

  4. Small business should have more discretion and flexibility to configure health benefits for their employees. (2

Released last summer, Paul Ryan's 37-page white paper, A Better Way, includes continuation of consumer-directed health care (CDHC) (with patients having "more skin in the game"), health savings accounts, high-risk pools, selling insurance across state lines, association health plans among businesses, and further privatization of Medicare and Medicaid (3) Tom Price (R-GA), as leader of the House Budget Committee, proposed in 2015 the complete repeal of the ACA, as well as privatization of Medicare, sharp cuts in Medicaid funding, and defunding of Planned Parenthood. (4)

The problem with all of these proposals is--they won't work. Each of these directions has been used for years, and have all failed to assure Americans with better access to affordable health care. They have been discredited by long experience. Here are four fatal flaws to these proposals:

  1. Market failure. Like the ACA, any of their replacement plans are still based mainly on the private for-profit market place. Insurers, the drug industry, and other parts of the medical-industrial complex, including their shareholders, have enjoyed bonanza years on Wall Street under the ACA without any significant cost containment. Most people are unaware of how extremely privatized and for-profit the current health care system is, as these examples show: free-standing laboratory and imaging centers (100 %), surgical-centers (95 %), dialysis centers (90 %), home care (76 %), nursing homes (65 %), and hospice (63 %) (1) (2016 Annual Survey by the Commerce Department or most recent available data for share of establishments.) Instead of increased competition, we have seen increasing consolidation and less competition under the ACA.

  2. Failure to learn from past failed health care policies. Republicans conveniently forget that the ACA was modeled on a health plan brought forward by the Heritage Foundation and enacted as the Massachusetts Health Plan by Governor Romney in 2006. Three years later, a study comparing safety net hospitals with non-safety net hospitals found that the former played a disproportionately large role in caring for disadvantaged patients and were hurting financially. (5) Many reasons for the ACA's failure have been discussed elsewhere, including its reliance on a failing multi-payer financing system with some 1,300 private insurers, mostly dedicated to profits rather than coverage of patients' health needs. How they continue to discriminate against the sick, profiteer, and inflate their overhead has been described elsewhere, to the point where the industry is not sustainable without taxpayer support. (6)

  3. Further privatization. Contrary to experience, evidence and GOP ideology, privatization is less competitive, less efficient, and more expensive for patients than the public sector, as already demonstrated by private Medicare and Medicaid plans. Privatized plans offer less choice, are more volatile and less accountable than their public counterparts. They game the system and demand ongoing overpayments (e.g. more than173 billion to Medicare Advantage between 2008 and 2016 (7) All that amounts to corporate welfare at taxpayer expense.

  4. Dependence on larger role of states. There are already wide variations in states' definitions of eligibility and coverage, which are likely to increase further as more restrictive federal block grants to states become widespread. Safety net resources will be hit hard, seriously impacting the most vulnerable among us.

The GOP is taking us over a cliff, not yet realizing it may well be political suicide for the party. We can expect that any GOP replacement plan will cost patients, families, and taxpayers more, and that we will all get less. This is all so foolish since there is a real solution in plain sight--single-payer national health insurance (NHI) if Republicans were not so blinded by ideology and unaware of the failed policies already proven by the last 25-plus years' experience, including those of the ACA, much of which are still baked into their supposed "better way." They also seem to be unaware of the most recent public polls strongly favoring NHI, regardless of political party. As just one example, a Gallup poll in May 2016 found that 41 percent of Republicans and leaners favored replacing the ACA with NHI. (8)

Defying experience and reason, we can anticipate that the GOP's principles and approaches will make an imploding ACA system even worse. We can then expect a huge backlash from the public and even the private insurance industry when it doesn't get all that it wants.

John Geyman, M.D. is the author of The Human Face of ObamaCare: Promises vs. Reality and What Comes Next and How Obamacare is Unsustainable: Why We Need a Single-Payer Solution For All Americans


  1. Robert Pear, Obamacare Repeal Moves a Step Closer to Reality, The Atlantic Online, Jan. 13, 2017 -

  2. Senate Republican Leaders Vow to Begin Repeal of Health Law Next Month, New York Times Online, December 6, 2017 -

  3. Rovner, J. House Republicans unveil long-awaited plan to replace health law. Kaiser Health News, June 22, 2016 -

  4. Petito, J, Hyatt, A, Zingman, M. We condemn the AMA and AAMC endorsements of Tom Price for HHS secretary. Common Dreams, December 12, 2016 -

  5. Mohan, A, Grant, J, Batalden, M et al. The health of safety net hospitals following Massachusetts health care reform: Changes in volume, revenue, costs, and operating margins from 2006 to 2009. Intl J Health Services 43 (2): 321-335, 2013 -

  6. Geyman, JP. How Obamacare Is Unsustainable: Why We Need a Single Payer Solution for all Americans. Friday Harbor, WA. Copernicus Health Care, 2015 -

  7. Geruso, M, Layton, T. Upcoding inflates Medicare costs in excess of2 billion annually. UT News. University of Texas at Austin, June 18, 2015 -

  8. Republican support for single-payer. Gallup poll, May 16, 1016. Keith Ensminger. Kramer Translation, Merced, CA. Personal communication, September 8, 2016 -

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Obama's Legacy: Missed Opportunity As Educator-In-Chief

Huffington Post News - 44 min 11 sec ago

Part of the allure of Obama when he first ran for President was the prospect of an intellectual in the White House making progressive decisions, but also educating "low information" citizens about how the world works. This would be important, because his days in office would eventually end. A true legacy requires a leader establishing a path-breaking enduring record, but also an accepted ideological framework for understanding its rationale. That perspective can survive term limits. Franklin Roosevelt did this and the New Deal view of government action as a vigorous corrective to the anarchy and social disruption of capitalist development was unrivaled for almost forty years after his death. Ronald Reagan, although his economic policies were never as laissez-faire as his rhetoric suggested, launched an ideology that has endured nearly as long: government is the enemy; free enterprise the cure. Post-Reagan, even Democrats have often believed they had to be defensive about government action, not proud of it.

President Obama had a golden opportunity to launch a powerful ideological counter-revolution when he took office during the Great Recession. Republicans and the most powerful corporate entities were back on their heels. The public was ready for a bold departure from the past. Unfortunately, those who placed such hopes on Obama were to be disappointed, accepting his very liberal 2008 campaign rhetoric as indicative of his deeper convictions on domestic policy.

Obama is best viewed as a "Rockefeller Republican" or Clinton Democrat on economic and social issues. Even his signature health care legislation resembled what Mitt Romney had implemented as Governor of Massachusetts. Both originated in a proposal of The Heritage Society, a conservative think tank which develops free-market oriented policies to solve social problems. Obama's unwillingness to embrace left-wing populism, lay the groundwork for Donald Trump's bogus appeals to the white working-class component of his winning coalition.

One area Obama appeared poised to radically depart from conventional thought was foreign policy. He was aware of its dark side under Democrat and Republican Administrations: anti-Communism and fear of any forms of populist nationalism, even if non-Communist, led to support for the world's most brutal dictatorships. His childhood in Indonesia under the murderous US- supported Suharto regime, which affected his step-family, and activism in the anti-apartheid movement, taught him lessons other U.S. presidents never learned. He could have punctured the myth of American "exceptionalism" and taught Americans that widespread anti-Americanism in the world is not primarily rooted in hatred of freedom and lack of gratitude for our generous foreign aid.

Anti-Americanism, in fact, reflects our past and, to a lesser degree (Central and South American leaders are not our puppets these days), present global policies. We have long allied with and armed hated dictators. In addition, there have been numerous military interventions, heralded as serving "freedom," but often confusing it with our geo-political and economic interests. American foreign policy has primarily been "exceptional" in negative ways: invading a record thirty countries since the United Nations was founded.

What about our generosity? It is largely an illusion. Our foreign aid for development, for example, is a smaller proportion of our Gross National Income than 19 other nations, including Portugal, and is just .19 percent. Moreover, though things have somewhat improved since 2012, when USAID modified its rules, foreign aid typically required recipients to purchase American-made products even if they were more expensive than alternatives. What is called "tied-aid" is still true of food products, motor vehicles and US-patented pharmaceuticals and is still the norm among non-USAID governmental agencies. To be fair, other countries provide tied-aid as well, but quite a few others do not.

Unlike, domestic politics, where the President must deal with Congress, foreign policy is a realm of nearly total freedom. Obama has taken some important steps in dealing with Iran and Cuba and not sending more ground troops to entangle us more deeply in the perpetual Middle East chaos resulting from the century old efforts of European imperial powers to carve up the Ottoman Empire.

On the other hand, while admonishing Israel for its continued illegal annexation of Palestinian land in the West Bank (though, not about its economic strangling of Gaza), he has continued to give it massive military aid. Ironically, despite the recent uproar over his abstention on a vote confirming a long accepted UN position on the illegality of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, his Republican predecessors have been more willing to actually vote in favor of resolutions condemning Israeli actions. They even threatened cuts in US aid at times, succeeding in curtailing Israeli actions.

Obama has also made other avoidable missteps. He refused to prosecute those in the Bush Administration responsible for torture policies, accepted the legitimacy of the 2009 Honduras coup which overthrew an elected government, and aided and abetted the Saudi bombing of Yemen to appease the Saudis after his nuclear deal with Iran.

Unfortunately, Obama's modest re-thinking of foreign policy stays largely within his own mind. He has made only feeble attempts to be Educator-in-Chief. He knows the Iranians will never forget the 1953 CIA-led coup against an elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh, the installation of the autocratic Shah, our support for Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran and our indifference, at best, to his use of chemical weapons against them. He is aware Iran abandoned nuclear programs as "un-Islamic" until the horrific chemical warfare made them feel acutely vulnerable. He knows, apparently, that the Saudis are the chief exporters of jihadist theology throughout the Islamic world. But he keeps that knowledge largely to himself, along with his awareness of Palestinian daily life under Israeli rule.

This failure to systematically tell the American people about any of this means perpetuating their ignorance and making it more likely that inhumane and/or foolish policies will be pursued and supported in the future. When Donald Trump becomes President in a few weeks he will apparently be giving unqualified love to the Saudis, cheering Israel's expanding colonization efforts, and hugging friendly autocrats, especially if "friendliness" includes surreptitiously advancing The Trump Organization. Roosevelt had his fireside chats with all the citizens. Obama should at least have a foreign policy "teach-in" before he leaves office. It is now too late to "walk the walk," but he can at least "talk the talk." His Farewell Address, touching as it was, was another missed opportunity.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

No, Food Stamp Users Aren’t Buying ‘Lots’ Of Soda

Huffington Post News - 48 min 45 sec ago

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You may have learned over the weekend, via a front-page story in The New York Times, that Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, to help foot their grocery bill seem to use those benefits to buy overwhelming amounts of soda. 

The federal data on which the story is focused, however, counters that conclusion.

As the Times tells it, in a story illustrated by a faceless figure pushing a cart with about 17 2-liter bottles of soda, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report last year concluding that households participating in SNAP bought more soft drinks than any other category of grocery goods, such as milk, bread and cheeses. 

This claim is not inaccurate — according to the report, soft drinks represented 5.44 percent of SNAP households’ grocery expenditures, compared to the 3.85 percent of spending that went toward milk, the next highest category of goods. This percentage also outpaced that of non-SNAP households, which dedicated 4.01 percent of their spending to soft drinks.

But the story misled readers by downplaying the report’s top-line finding: that there were “no major differences” in the spending patterns of SNAP and non-SNAP households, and that purchases of less healthy foods were common across all households, regardless of whether they used food stamps.

The USDA reiterated those findings, which The Huffington Post reported on last fall, in a statement on Tuesday.

“The results of USDA research released in November, 2016, confirm that the eating choices of SNAP participants are similar to those of most Americans: we all make many healthy choices, and we all continue to fall short of the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” the statement read.

The Times story did include the USDA’s assessment of the data, but buried it in the story’s 15th paragraph. 

In its reporting, the Times zeroed in on a difference in soda sales that was decidedly slim: Per food dollar spent, SNAP users spend about 1.5 pennies more than other households. So if a hypothetical retailer was selling a 2-liter bottle for $1.50, the data indicates that a SNAP household might buy one additional 2-liter bottle of soda per $105 in grocery spending than a non-SNAP household.

A SNAP recipient might not even use food stamps to buy that hypothetical extra soda — the study, which relied on data from just one retailer group, did not differentiate between items purchased using SNAP benefits and those purchased using other funding.

Experts in the field criticized the Times story, saying it misused statistics to reinforce stereotypes of SNAP users.

Joe Soss, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota, wrote a lengthy Facebook post on Saturday, in which he described the story as “shameful” and a “political hack job on a program that helps millions of Americans feed themselves.” 

“No fair reading of this report can support the Times’ portrayal,” Soss wrote in an expanded version of his argument, which was published in Jacobin on Monday. 

And yet, that portrayal has already begun to spread ― potentially providing SNAP’s foes with evidence that seemingly confirms their suspicions about the $74 billion federal program. 

In a Tuesday post slamming the Times’ reporting, Media Matters for America predicted that the paper’s “sloppy handling” of the USDA data is “sure to embolden opponents of federal anti-poverty programs.”

Some respected nutrition experts, including those quoted in the Times story, have criticized SNAP for allowing program benefits to go toward purchasing soda and junk food. And although a few studies have linked participation in the SNAP program with higher rates of obesity, some experts believe unrelated effects of poverty factor into that. Other research suggests the program has helped low-income families gain access to food.

Despite a lack of consensus on these and other criticisms of the program, opponents of SNAP are pushing for drastic cuts.

For the last five years, the House Budget Committee has proposed dramatically slashing funding for SNAP and converting the program into a block grant. Last year, the committee called for more than $150 billion — over 20 percent — in cuts over the next decade. 

It’s currently not clear whether President-elect Donald Trump would support making such drastic changes to the program, especially since he still hasn’t nominated a new administrator for the USDA, the agency that oversees SNAP.

Amid the unknowns, anti-hunger advocates are preparing for challenges. Twelve organizations signed a joint statement in December to call on Trump and the new Congress to protect SNAP and similar programs as part of “a strong and effective national nutrition safety net” for vulnerable, low-income households. 

Bread of the World, one of the groups that signed the statement, is focused on continuing to educate lawmakers about SNAP’s impact, spokesman Eric Mitchell told HuffPost. 

“SNAP is probably the most important anti-hunger program Americans have,” he said. “We don’t want to see any changes that will put more people at risk of hunger. We’re going to have to be very vocal.”

Infographic by Alissa Scheller.

Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Quarter Of Republicans Want To Keep Obamacare

Huffington Post News - 53 min 19 sec ago

About a quarter of U.S. Republicans do not want to see Obamacare repealed, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.

Trump and his fellow Republicans, who control Congress, have promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, but a majority of Americans, including 25 percent of Republicans polled, do not want it to be repealed.

The law has been credited with helping about 20 million people get insurance coverage. Only one in five Americans would repeal the law immediately, the poll found.

Republicans were sharply divided, with 25 percent of those polled wanting to keep it intact or fix problem parts. Some 32 percent would repeal it immediately, while 44 percent would wait to repeal it once an alternative plan is ready to go.

“There is some recognition, even from Republican supporters, that the underlying goals of the law are worthwhile,” said Jack Hoadley, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. “They still want something done, they don’t want it to disappear.”

About 10 percent of Democrats polled would keep the 2010 law as it is and another 70 percent want it to remain intact with some fixes. Some 19 percent of them want the law repealed, including 13 percent who want a replacement passed first.

Respondents interviewed by Reuters said they want the U.S. Congress to address problems such as the rising cost of healthcare but even many Republicans who have insurance don’t want it scrapped without a replacement.

“I’m afraid if you just repeal, people will lose it,” said Kathy Dugas, a Republican who works as a dietician near Jackson, Mississippi, which has one of the country’s highest obesity rates. “Healthcare should be about people, not about politics,” she said. “There has to be something to take care of people.”

Some congressional Republicans have expressed concern about starting a repeal absent clarity about how to replace provisions of the complicated and far-reaching law, but Congress is under pressure from Trump to act quickly.

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a fiscal 2017 budget by a vote of 227-198, nearly along party lines, that establishes a reconciliation procedure to shield an Obamacare repeal from Senate filibusters.

The Reuters poll mirrors findings from a poll released in early January by the Kaiser Family Foundation that also found the public divided: Almost half the people in that poll wanted the law repealed but 28 percent of that group want to know the details of the replacement before Obamacare is scrapped.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English in all 50 states. The question on Obamacare included responses from 2,232 American adults, including 951 Democrats and 879 Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 2 percentage points for the entire group, and 4 percentage points for the Democrats and Republicans.

(Reporting by Jilian Mincer Editing by Caroline Humer and Chris Kahn and James Dalgleish)

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Teachers Share Tips For Empowering Students In Trump's America

Huffington Post News - 57 min 47 sec ago

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In the weeks following election day, many students and teachers have witnessed acts of hate and bigotry in schools across America.

HuffPost Live host Jay Shetty sat down with three educators to discuss how teachers can safeguard against hate in classrooms during Donald Trump’s presidency. In the conversation, the teachers opened up about the types of incidents they’ve already dealt with and how they plan to help students going forward.

“I think there’s a really big trend in like telling kids ‘this is going to be horrible, this is how bad it’s going to be’ and I think there’s a way to have those honest conversations without scaring kids,” New York City high school teacher Faiqa Amreen said. “Because the last thing they need to be right now is scared, they need to be empowered.”

For Nagla Bedir, a high school teacher who posted a viral and inspiring message of solidarity with students of color in her classroom, it’s just as important to give students the tools to face bigotry wherever they may find it. 

“I think that I would say that students need to learn how to advocate for themselves and it’s our responsibilities as educators, as parents, as older brothers and sisters to teach kids to learn to advocate for themselves and empower them to do that,” she told Shetty. “And [we need to] also teach kids how to have conversations with people they disagree with in a way that doesn’t attack that person but that idea. Because those are two different types of conversations.”  

Watch them discuss their advice for educators in the clip above and catch the the full conversation here. 

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Jennifer Holliday Didn't Realize People 'Weren't Really Over' Trump's Election

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 2 min ago

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Jennifer Holliday decided to drop out of performing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, saying she did not understand how many Americans were still grappling with his election. 

“I woke up, and there was, like, this whole thing of terrible tweets and things on my Instagram, and I was like, ‘Oh, Lord, what did I do?’” she said about the backlash she received during an interview on “The View.” “I live a pretty reclusive life. You’re not on the radio, and then one morning you wake up, and everybody hates you.” 

Holliday ― who has performed for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush ― said that she initially considered participating in Trump’s inauguration because “I’m an artist and I love America.” She thought her attendance could be used as a symbol of “healing” and “unity.” 

“It didn’t dawn on me that this was a bad thing and that we weren’t doing America right now,” the Broadway star said. Adding: “The lapse of judgment was that I didn’t realize that people weren’t really over the election. I guess things started back up again. And you start remembering things and the fires start burning ... people have not finished with this. They want to get it all out ... I missed all of that.”

On Saturday, Holliday sent a letter to The Wrap about her backing out, and apologized directly to the LGBT community. 

I Sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgement, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans. Please know that I HEAR YOU and I feel your pain. The LGBT Community was mostly responsible for birthing my career and I am deeply indebted to you … You have loved me faithfully and unconditionally and for so many years you provided me with work even though my star had long since faded.

Toby Keith and 3 Doors Down are still slated to perform. And Trump says the “biggest celebrities in the world” will be there to see him sworn in. 

“Many of the celebrities that are saying they were not going, they were never invited,” he said during a Wednesday interview with “Fox & Friends” from Trump Tower. Then he added, “I don’t want the celebrities, I want the people. And we have the biggest celebrities in the world there ... We’re going to have a tremendous turnout. From what I’m hearing, the numbers are going to be astronomical.”

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Is Your Government Politically Pathological?

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 10 min ago

Long before the post-election political maelstrom we're now experiencing in the U.S. and in many countries around the world, I wrote about four types of organizational political arenas.

All human groups and organizations have some degree of political activity -- positive and negative -- ranging from minimally political to pathologically political. Below is a description of pathological politics. You can decide for yourself if the U.S. government is healthy or perhaps precariously perched on the edge of pathology -- if not worse.

Daily interactions are fractious when pathology exists. Conflict is both long-lasting and pervasive. Nearly every goal is achieved by going around the formal procedures and organization. People tend to distrust each other. Information massaging is the only form of communication. Out of necessity, people spend a lot of time watching their backs.

Unless leaders of such organizations become aware of and reverse political pathology, they tend to self-destruct. Unfortunately, they often take a lot of good people with them ruining careers to maintain the status quo.

Below is a list from The Secret Handshake of "Tell-Tale Signs of Cultural Pathology" in groups, businesses and governments.

1. Frequent flattering of those in power coupled with abusiveness toward people in less powerful positions is a sure sign of creeping organizational pathology. Flattery may not get you everywhere, but it is often used by those who fear they cannot advance on their own merits.

2. Another sign of cultural degeneration is information massaging. When hardly anyone says (and means) anything that might rock the boat, you can be sure that the organization is at least becoming or is pathological. When people communicate via hint instead of directly expressing their views, the roots of pathology are present.

3. "Poisoning the well," is another political activity indicative of pathology in organizations and government. The thing to look for is people frequently fabricating negative information about others. They drop defaming information into conversations and meetings in the hope of ruining the target's career chances. Gossip and verbal backstabbing are common here.

4. Some organizations are poisoned by the people in charge. In such organizations there's a cold indifference. No one is valued for long; in fact, everyone is dispensable -- and feels that way. The only way to survive is to become obsequious to those in charge and to get someone else before he or she gets you.

5. Whenever there is a good deal of "fake left, go right" strategy -- leading others in the wrong direction in order to look good oneself -- organizational pathology can be found. A sense of organizational teamwork is absent as individuals' careers are sacrificed to save those who are misleading them. Sometimes teams mislead teams, with the spoils going to the victor -- the one that faked the best.

The people who run such political arenas don't trust political purists or team players with the best interests of positive organizational goals in mind. So, the people hired are mostly flatterers and liars facilitating the deterioration of the organization similar to what management expert Henry Mintzberg described as "scavengers that swarm over a carcass" in terms of ethics and positive productivity.

Do these characteristics sound familiar? You might want to share them with your senators and representatives.

Kathleen also blogs here.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Heed Barack Obama's and George Washington's Farewell Call To Action

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 14 min ago

By Ralph Benko

I am a nationally recognized archconservative. (Just not a bogeyman as we are routinely presented in the media.) I tuned in to President Obama's Farewell Address with considerable curiosity. I am not an Obama-hater. I've not been shy to publicly criticize him when I disagreed with him or to call it when he committed fouls. On the other hand, I give him enormous credit for having brought home the vast majority of our troops, extracting America from its foreign entanglements in other people's Forever Wars. Credit where credit is due.

I considered -- and reported to my colleagues -- Obama's Farewell Address to be "a classy, dignified, terrific speech (even the bits I disagreed with)." In addition to his valedictory on what he was proud of having gotten done what really resonated with me was his "Call To Action," for all Americans to talk -- and listen -- to one another. President Obama:

For too many of us, it's become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste - all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that's out there.


In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but "from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;" that we should preserve it with "jealous anxiety;" that we should reject "the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties" that make us one.

We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we've been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

Ultimately, that's what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there's an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you're tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life.

As it happens, Joan Blades and I also drew from Washington's Farewell Address in an earlier blog To Prevent the Spirit of Partisanship From Bursting into a Flame.

We wrote:

Washington's farewell address -- recently brought to our attention in a Huffington Post Blog by David Benko, the son of one of this post's authors -- warned against the very partisan paralysis that besets America today. Washington considered hyper-partisanship profoundly dangerous:

"Let me now ... warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

"This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.


"And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."

My colleagues like Joan and I agree with Presidents Obama and Washington on this crucial matter. We've been making it easy -- pleasurable in fact! -- to allow good souls of both the left and the right "to talk with (a stranger) in real life," thereby vigilantly using "the force of public opinion" to keep the danger of excess partisanship from "bursting into flame."

Obama is right: "we all share the same proud title: Citizen." It may boggle the imagination that the small, intimate, conversations we have with those from a different political persuasion can have a profound effect on our political outcomes. But it's true.

Don't take my word for it. Among the testimonials to the simple, profound, fact of the power of citizens talking amongst ourselves, including with those with whom we disagree, are the Farewell Addresses of President Barack Obama and President George Washington.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Janet Mock: Sex Workers' Rights Must Be Part Of The Women's March

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 25 min ago

Janet Mock wrote a poignant essay explaining why it’s integral that sex workers’ rights be included in the values that anchor the Women’s March on Washington

According to a Tumblr post Mock published on Tuesday, the author and transgender activist helped create the march’s beautifully intersectional policy platform. That platform includes the guiding principles of the march and what it will represent. The four-page agenda, which has reportedly been edited since it was published last week, originally included the line: “Undocumented and migrant workers must be included in our labor protections, and we stand in solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements.” 

In her Tumblr post, Mock explains that she authored that line which has since been changed to read: “We stand in solidarity with the sex workers’ rights movement. We recognize that exploitation for sex and labor in all forms is a violation of human rights.” According to writer Melissa Gira Grant the line was edited multiples times in the span of 24 hours. At one point the line was edited to only include: “We recognize that exploitation for sex and labor in all forms is a violation of human rights.”  

I know sex work to be work. It’s not something I need to tiptoe around. It’s not a radical statement. It’s a fact.

Although the present draft of the agenda includes Mock’s original line, the writer, TV host and activist wrote a piece on Tumblr explaining why that line is so essential.

“It is not a statement that is controversial to me because as a trans woman of color who grew up in low-income communities and who advocates, resists, dreams and writes alongside these communities, I know that underground economies are essential parts of the lived realities of women and folk,” Mock wrote. “I know sex work to be work. It’s not something I need to tiptoe around. It’s not a radical statement. It’s a fact.” 

Mock explained that her feminism rejects the notion that sex workers “need to be saved” or that they are “colluding with the patriarchy by ‘selling their bodies.’” 

She also addressed the edits made to the march’s policy platform: 

I cannot speak to the internal conflicts at the Women’s March that have led to the erasure of the line I wrote for our collective vision but I have been assured that the line will remain in OUR document. The conflicts that may have led to its temporary editing will not leave until we, as feminists, respect THE rights of every woman and person to do what they want with their body and their lives.

Mock ended her essay on a powerful note, writing: “There are no throwaway people, and I hope every sex worker who has felt shamed by this momentary erasure shows up to their local March and holds the collective accountable to our vast, diverse, complicated realities.”

Head over to Tumblr to read Mock’s full essay. 

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Will Judith Miller Ever Live It Down?

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 25 min ago

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, whose wretched journalism disgraced her newspaper and helped deceive the country into launching the disastrous Iraq War, offered some thoughts Tuesday via Twitter about President Barack Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence.

Obama commutes sentence of Chelsea Manning. How many people died because of manning' leak?

— Judith Miller (@JMfreespeech) January 17, 2017

At this point, a question occurs. Judith Miller’s past: Will she ever live that down? Let’s find out.

Does she really not see the irony here

— Jack Mirkinson (@jackmirkinson) January 17, 2017

How many people died because this woman helped lie us into war?

— Justin Raimondo (@JustinRaimondo) January 17, 2017

Judy's Iraq-War starting stories ALL based off leaks. Those leaks killed 100s of 1000s.

Ready to send your murderous sources to prison?

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) January 17, 2017

aren't you judith miller?

— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) January 17, 2017

@JMfreespeech you literally caused the iraq war to happen under false pretenses, bye.

— Myles Tanzer (@mylestanzer) January 17, 2017

It's not that Judith Miller thinks it's BAD to publish things that get people killed. It's that she's competitive.

— Jon Schwarz (@tinyrevolution) January 17, 2017

[raises hand] I have a related question

— Simon Maloy (@SimonMaloy) January 17, 2017

Less than the number who died because of your Iraq war reporting.

— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) January 17, 2017


— Jack Mirkinson (@jackmirkinson) January 17, 2017

Judith Miller's inability to recognize the fact or breadth of her own body count is one of the great rationalizations of history

— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 17, 2017

How many people died because of 'leaks' to Judith Miller. Someone needs a prosthetic self-awareness

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 17, 2017

@JMfreespeech Do you realize you're THAT Judith Miller?

— Meredith Haggerty (@manymanywords) January 17, 2017

Judith Miller should probably sit this one out.

— Jane Coaston (@cjane87) January 17, 2017

I'm not sure "How many died because of...?" is a game Judith Miller really wants to play.

— Jesse Walker (@notjessewalker) January 17, 2017

@JMfreespeech apparently none--unlike the known hundreds of thousands who died based on faulty Iraq WMD coverage

— Greg Mitchell (@GregMitch) January 18, 2017

Hmmmm, you should Google "Judith Miller + New York Times + Iraq + WMD Lies"

— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) January 17, 2017


— Jack Mirkinson (@jackmirkinson) January 17, 2017

So, ah, the answer is “no.”

This has been “Will Judith Miller Ever Live It Down?”


Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Nikki Haley Breaks With Trump On Russia And Muslim Registry

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 28 min ago

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WASHINGTON ― South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told a Senate hearing Wednesday that she opposes two of Trump’s most controversial positions: his determination to build a partnership with Russia and his support for a registry of Muslims in the U.S.

“Crimea is Ukraine, not Russia,” Haley said, criticizing Moscow’s two-year occupation of the region and its ongoing conflict with the pro-European government in Ukraine. She would not support lifting Crimea-related sanctions on Russia until President Vladimir Putin makes some concessions to the U.S., she added.

“Russia is trying to show their muscle right now ... I don’t think that we can trust them,” Haley said. 

She also criticized Russia’s support for the internationally condemned government of Syria, and characterized Russia’s actions in the country as war crimes. 

The governor went on to say she would want to build stronger and broader U.S. alliances. In response to a question from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Haley criticized Trump’s comments on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump has said he would be open to recognizing Russia’s takeover of Crimea ― a move Haley called illegal on Wednesday ― and spoken frequently of his desire to strike a deal with Putin. He has often bashed current U.S. allies, saying they do not do enough for Washington.

The governor, a critic of Trump during the Republican presidential primary and the race to the White House, said she had discussed Russia with the president-elect.

Haley also said she would not support Trump’s call for a so-called Muslim registry and tried to distance herself from the president-elect’s previous position. “This administration and I do not think there should be any registry,” she said. 

The governor also tried to pull away from Trump’s claim that he would stop U.S. support for the U.N. if he felt it did not do what Washington wanted. “I know that he had made comments about the U.N., but those are not my feelings,” Haley said. “I do not think we should have a slash and burn of the U.N.”

A GOP favorite, Haley stuck to Trump’s talking points on one foreign policy issue the incoming president and his party do agree on: boosting the conservative government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Haley blasted a December United Nations Security Council resolution condemning controversial Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, characterizing it as a moment when the international body was “at odds with the American interest.” 

She endorsed Trump’s stated desire to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a city the Israelis and Palestinians share and strongly disagree on.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Wilbur Ross, Trump's Commerce Pick, Fired Undocumented Household Worker Before Confirmation Hearing

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 38 min ago

WASHINGTON, D.C. ― President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for commerce secretary admitted at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday that he recently fired a household employee who could not provide proof that they could legally work in the country.

Having undocumented household help has sunk at least two previous cabinet secretary nominees.

Billionaire private equity executive Wilbur Ross told the Senate Commerce Committee that when he hired the worker in 2009, the person provided what looked like a valid driver’s license and Social Security card. After Ross was nominated by Trump, he asked all his household staff to provide such documentation again.

“When I was getting ready for this hearing I wanted to recheck all our present and former employees,” Ross said, adding that all but one of about a dozen workers provided the right documentation.  

“This one employee was unable to and therefore was terminated,” Ross said. The entire process happened in the last month.

Ross sorted out the matter in advance of the hearing with committee Chairman Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.). Both men thanked Ross for being forthcoming about the matter.

Ross stressed that all his employees paid the required withholding taxes and that he paid the required employer taxes. He said many of his staff members had become American citizens since 2009. It’s not clear what job the fired employee had in the Ross household.

Trump won the presidency with a promise to round up and deport the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and to build a giant wall along the Mexican border. He called immigrants rapists and drug dealers. So Ross’ employee of seven years faces not only unemployment, but deportation as well.

Ross is far from the first nominee who ran into political trouble for having an undocumented worker on the household payroll.

Linda Chavez withdrew as President George W. Bush’s nominee for labor secretary in 2001 after a controversy about her sheltering an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala in the 1990s. She said the woman had been in an abusive relationship and in trouble and she wanted to help her.

In 1993, Clinton’s choice for attorney general, Zoe Baird, withdrew after senators objected to the fact that she had hired a Peruvian couple for domestic services, even though they were not legally authorized to work in the United States. She also failed to pay Social Security taxes on their wages.

Clinton then nominated Judge Kimba Wood to the position, but she too had to withdraw because she had employed an undocumented immigrant as a babysitter.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

2016 Was The Hottest Year On Record

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 10 min ago

Last year was the hottest on record, two federal agencies confirmed Wednesday morning, after months of warning that 2016 would be another chart-buster.

Findings from separate analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mark the third consecutive year that the planet has experienced record-high temperatures and the 40th consecutive year that global temperatures were above average in more than a century of record-keeping. 

NASA found that 2016 was 1.78 degrees warmer than the mid-20th century average, while NOAA found 2016 was 1.69 degrees warmer than the 20th century average. The agencies use those pre-industrial periods as a set point for measuring climate change. 

“The trends that we’ve been seeing since the 1970s are continuing and have not paused in any way,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told reporters Wednesday.

The 2016 record should be viewed as “part of a multi-decade trend,” Deke Arndt, chief of the global monitoring branch of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, told reporters Wednesday.

“2016 being the warmest year on record is a data point at the end of many data points that indicate several decades of warming that continue,” he said.

The announcement comes the same day that an annual Yale University/George Mason University survey found that 19 percent of Americans are “very worried” about global warming, marking the highest percentage since they first began surveying in 2008. 

The U.S. agencies’ findings confirm those released by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service earlier this month. According to its findings, the average global surface temperature soared to 58.6 degrees Fahrenheit, approximately 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial times.

#Earth on the edge: Record breaking 2016 was close to 1.5°C warming according to #Copernicus #ClimateChange Service

— Copernicus EU (@CopernicusEU) January 5, 2017

The writing’s been on the wall since the beginning of the year, when the agencies recorded a record hot January. By the release of April’s data, which marked a yearlong streak of record-high monthly temperatures by NOAA’s analysis, Schmidt tweeted that it was more than 99 percent likely that 2016 would set a record. 

With Apr update, 2016 still > 99% likely to be a new record (assuming historical ytd/ann patterns valid).

— Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin) May 14, 2016

“I think most climate scientists are surprised at the speed that [temperature increase is] happening,” Astrid Caldas, a climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists and a Huffington Post contributor, said at the time.

“It’s the amount by which the records are being broken, not the fact that the record’s being broken, that’s really striking,” Caldas said. 

Schmidt said that given years of warming, he’s already predicting 2017 will be an exceptionally hot year, but the irregular La Niña cooling phenomenon may prevent it from setting a new record.

“Because we’re right now starting this year with a very mild La Niña... we expect that to give a small negative push to next year’s temperature,” he told reporters. “But because the long-term trends are so clear, it’s still going to be a top-five year in our analysis. I’m pretty confident about that, but it’s unlikely to be another record year.”

Temperatures were high in the U.S. in 2016, but they weren’t high enough to knock out 2012 as the country’s hottest year on record. According to findings released by NOAA earlier this month, the average U.S. temperature in 2016 was 54.9 degrees, 2.9 degrees above the pre-industrial average. 

Still, average temperatures across the Lower 48 states were nearly 3 degrees above normal and nearly 6 degrees above average in Alaska. 

Every state in the union had an average annual temperature that was among the warmest seven of their historical records, and all but Iowa, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Utah had one of their warmest five years,” the agency said. 

In total, 34 cities, including Houston, New Orleans, Cleveland and Atlanta, saw their warmest years on record, NOAA said. 

High temperatures were linked to a range of weather catastrophes in 2016, including extreme floods, an exceptional hurricane season and deadly wildfires.

Those global and national temperature records are the result of human emissions, Schmidt explained in an August video.

“[W]hat we find is that the long-term warming that we’re seeing, that we’re experiencing right now, is dominated by the changes in greenhouse gases,” he said. “So when people talk about the record warm temperatures, it’s not just a statistical fluke. It’s happening for a reason that involves us. What it means is that if we don’t change those activities, that if we continue along a business-as-usual path, we aren’t going to hear the end of these record-breaking temperatures.”

The agencies’ temperature announcement comes just days before President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office. Many of his Cabinet appointees have either downplayed the effects of climate change or denied its existence and generally oppose the energy policies scientists say are necessary to slow the global rise in temperature. 

His picks include Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, whose company is under investigation for climate denial, as secretary of state; Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, which he is suing to stop power plant regulations; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, which he once pledged to eliminate; and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who has opposed funding to address climate change, to lead the Department of Justice.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

March With History's Greatest Writers On Your Side, Thanks To Molly Crabapple's Protest Art

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 26 min ago

It can be overwhelming to confront a blank poster head on, trying to select the one message that you most want to share with the masses during a march or protest. Thankfully, Molly Crabapple has your back. 

The artist, journalist and activist has created four free, downloadable and printable posters, each featuring the wise words of an iconic writer. The images were originally meant for last weekend’s “literary protest,” led by famous writers including Laurie Anderson, Robert Pinsky, Masha Gessen and Art Spiegelman, held on the steps of the New York Public Library. 

Protesters were emboldened by the thoughts of some of history’s most impactful scribes, including Audre Lorde and James Baldwin, thanks to Crabapple’s painted words. The posters, still available through Crabapple’s website, will be just as relevant to those marching this weekend to protest President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, whether participating in the Women’s March on Washington or many of the other protests taking place around the country. 

My posters of writers are available online to download, print, wheatpaste, carry in protests. #J20

— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) January 18, 2017

Crabapple has long expressed her opinion, through both her written reporting and searing illustrations, concerning Trump and the terrifying ramifications of his presidential run. In 2014 she wrote about confronting Trump with a challenging question during a press conference in Dubai, which he ignored. More recently, she’s discussed the circus that was his campaign, breaking down how he appeals to his followers and why. 

The latter piece ends, however, with a call to arms for dissenters nationwide. For a politician’s power, no matter how valuable or dangerous she or he may be, cannot compare to the potential of an activated populous. As Crabapple put it: “Real politics belong in the streets.”

On that note, many are taking to the streets this weekend to make their opinions on the president-elect known loud and clear. If you’re one of them, and are having trouble stating your case, let Junot Diaz or Suheir Hammad help you out. 

Check out other options for artist-made protest posters here and here

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Barack Obama’s Approval Rating Reaches 60 Percent As He Leaves Office

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 29 min ago

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Sixty percent of Americans approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing in his final days in office, according to new polls from CNN/ORC and The Washington Post/ABC News, his highest numbers in those polls since June 2009.

Those numbers are slightly higher than polls released earlier in the week. Gallup reported a 57 percent approval rating, and both Monmouth University and NBC News/Wall Street Journal reported 56 percent approval. Rasmussen gives Obama the highest approval rating of this week’s polls, showing the president at 62 percent approval. The lowest is a YouGov/Economist survey that puts him at 52 percent.

Obama’s approval rating has been increasing since early in 2016, but the climb picked up speed after the November election. According to the HuffPost Pollster aggregate, about 56 percent of Americans approve of his job performance, up from 50 percent in the summer of 2016 and about 53 percent on Election Day.

A large chunk of Obama’s approval increases have come from Republicans. Although most still disapprove of the job he’s doing in office, approval among self-identified Republicans has increased nearly 7 percentage points over the last few months from around 12 percent to 19 percent. 

Approval among independents has increased by about 3 percentage points to reach nearly 46 percent, and among Democrats it has pushed up to 87 percent from 84 percent last summer.

Those improvements don’t mean that Americans necessarily want to see Obama’s policies continue. A HuffPost/YouGov study shows that most Americans don’t want to see President-elect Donald Trump continue on Obama’s path. Most likely, the increased approval ratings are simply a function of improving goodwill toward a president who’s about to leave office.

Historical data from Gallup show that it’s not unusual for presidential approval to improve as the commander in chief prepares to leave office. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan all saw at least small increases in approval at the end of their second terms. Even George H.W. Bush, who had been defeated and was leaving office after only one term, had an approval rating spike from below 40 percent to above 50 percent in his last months in office.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Donald Trump Says The 'Today' Show Is Doing Badly. It's Actually Surging.

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 31 min ago

With just two days to go before his presidential inauguration, Donald Trump is finally focusing in on the issues that matter: “Today” show ratings. 

On Wednesday morning, the president-elect sent out a tweet proclaiming that the “Today” show, which airs on the “biased” NBC network, is doing “badly.”

Per his penchant for ending his claims on a climactic and exclamatory fragment, he tacked on “Little credibility!” to the end of his remark.

No wonder the Today Show on biased @NBC is doing so badly compared to its glorious past. Little credibility!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2017

The problem is, NBC’s “Today” show just had its best month in some time. The long-running show bested its primary competitor, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” in the ratings department in December for the first time in four-plus years, excluding periods during the Olympics, a fact pointed out by MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin on Wednesday morning.

The Associated Press announced at the end of December that the “resurgent” “Today” show pulled in an average of 4.79 million views in December, eclipsing the 4.69 million that “Good Morning America” cobbled together, according to Nielsen. The outlet deemed it a “ratings milestone.”

The show did struggle in the four-and-a-half years since beloved host Ann Curry left, but right now, the very moment Trump has proclaimed that the “Today” show is yesterday’s news, it is becoming today’s.

“It’s been an extraordinary year, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team, both on-air and off,” Noah Oppenheim, NBC News senior vice president and the executive in charge of “Today,” said last month. 

People have continued to search Google for the “Today” show at fairly consistent rates since 2004, as well.

trends.embed.renderExploreWidget("TIMESERIES", {"comparisonItem":[{"keyword":"today show","geo":"US","time":"all"}],"category":0,"property":""}, {"exploreQuery":"date=all&geo=US&q=today%20show"});

Trump, who remains an executive producer on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” has repeatedly attacked the network since he was elected president in November, taking issue with NBC News and “Saturday Night Live” on top of the “Today” show.

Totally biased @NBCNews went out of its way to say that the big announcement from Ford, G.M., Lockheed & others that jobs are coming back...

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2017

.@NBCNews is bad but Saturday Night Live is the worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017

Russians are playing @CNN and @NBCNews for such fools - funny to watch, they don't have a clue! @FoxNews totally gets it!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016

.@NBCNews purposely left out this part of my nuclear qoute: "until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." Dishonest!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2016

Just watched @NBCNightlyNews - So biased, inaccurate and bad, point after point. Just can't get much worse, although @CNN is right up there!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016

I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show - nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016

In October, NBC News became one of a number of outlets that aired audio of Trump once saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

“Grab ‘em by the pussy,” the president-elect added. 

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

How Young Reporters Can Help Revitalize Political Journalism In The Trump Era

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 32 min ago

When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign in June of 2015, the typically divergent worlds of political punditry and data journalism were united in offering an unambiguous message to their viewers and readers: Do not take this man seriously.

The self-assured media set in Washington and New York fell back on longstanding trends and assumptions about how elections are supposed to go. And they were bolstered by plenty of charts and algorithms from the data nerds, who joined in the conviction that Trump was more likely to give away his fortune and retire to a monastery than he was to win the 2016 Republican nomination, let alone the White House.

But while just about no one saw a path to victory back then, the journalists who took a more considered approach to Trump had one thing in common: they spent most of their time on the front lines of the campaign and outside of the elite opinion bubble.

Case in point: In a prescient dispatch that she filed from Manchester after Trump’s first visit as a candidate to New Hampshire, RealClearPolitics reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns wrote that “many in the crowd said they genuinely identified with him and his message—never mind that he is, by one measure, the least popular Republican in the field.”

“I watched him on TV yesterday and I thought, ‘Well, he’s just saying it like it is,’” one woman told Huey-Burns in an observation that would soon become a rallying cry for Trump supporters nationwide. “A lot of us are thinking the same exact thing.”

Huey-Burns’ early dispatch on Trump is just one example of how on-the-ground campaign reporting provided a much clearer picture of the durability and extent of the long-shot candidate’s support that summer than anything that was said in TV studios where he was largely regarded as a ratings-generating novelty, not a real threat to win.

In the general election, the pattern continued even late into the fall. While on-the-ground reporters like Matt Viser of The Boston Globe and Alec MacGillis of ProPublica were pointing to signs of Trump’s popularity with newcomers to the political process in exurban and rural communities, most of the pundit class was still comforting itself in a warm bath of polls, snark and green room back-slapping (I myself succumbed to this tendency to believe that everything would work out the way it always had before and that a Clinton victory was all-but inevitable.)

For far too long into the cycle, top media executives and senior editors remained painfully slow to react adequately to the movement that Trump was generating in large swaths of the country where campaign reporters were seeing first hand just how committed his supporters were.

Trump, meanwhile, was allowed to skate by without adequate media vetting for far too long, particularly over the airwaves. Why jeopardize all those ratings, anyway? They were “damn good for CBS,” as CEO Les Moonves memorably put it.

The conversation about how the press “got it so wrong” has consumed media navel-gazers since November, leading to a range of conclusions and blame-shifting.

But there’s another story that’s been lost: Plenty of journalists who covered the campaign far from the Acela Corridor and the televised rallies ― many of them young and less experienced than the big-name media personalities who rarely leave the Beltway Bubble ― got it right.

While print reporters for major newspapers led the way, young embedded broadcast journalists who did double duty shooting video and writing digital pieces for the national news networks also did plenty of great work, though it often went largely unnoticed.

Plenty of journalists who covered the campaign far from the Acela Corridor and the televised rallies ― many of them young and less experienced than the big-name media personalities who rarely leave the Beltway Bubble ― got it right.

These so-called “embeds” ― most of them still in their twenties — filed dispatches from the trail throughout the campaign that often did a far better job of contextualizing and explaining the environment that led to Trump’s victory than anything that was said on a Sunday Show roundtable. As just one example, take a look at this piece filed by CBS News embed Jackie Alemany from Ohio in September on working class Democrats who were flocking to Trump.

For a year-and-a-half leading up to Election Day, they also did the great service of documenting in minute detail every utterance made by every major candidate in a campaign that was stranger than fiction from start to finish.

I was once an embed myself, having worked for CBS News during the 2008 campaign. It sounds quaint in an era of data analysis and smart takes, but it was in that capacity that I came to learn that nothing in political journalism can compete with the insights gleaned from actually being there.

I spent the duration of Sarah Palin’s vice presidential candidacy covering the firebrand governor and her staff from the road, with a seat on the back of her plane. Even as the movement that she came to represent was at the time largely dismissed as a fleeting anti-intellectual phenomenon, my young colleagues and I saw something else: the budding power of grassroots grievance aimed squarely at the newsroom elites. That fury gave rise to the tea party, and ultimately, to Donald Trump.

The campaign trail is a world unlike any other ― a traveling micro-society not entirely unlike that of the one that surrounds a band on tour. The campaign is full of drudgery, exhaustion, alcohol, strong bonds between friends and a neverending dose of drama. This is the world that offered endless fodder for “Embeds” ― a new scripted series I co-created about young political journalists that is currently airing on go90 (watch the first episode below).

More than sex, booze and comedy, the campaign trail is a relentless, ball-busting firehose of work, both for the embeds themselves and the news organizations that train and support them editorially (and financially). It’s also populated largely by Type A personalities who graduated from top-tier universities, rather than the head-in-the-clouds dreamers that Cameron Crowe introduced us to.

And just about all of them are motivated primarily by the simple goal of doing their jobs well and informing their viewers and readers.

You can often learn a lot as a reporter from making a phone call to a source, reading a poll, or conducting a remote interview. But there is no substitute for being on the ground in close proximity to the candidate, while experiencing all of the intangible atmospherics of a campaign firsthand. Even more powerful: The simple act of leaving the pack and listening to voters away from where the campaign apparatus happens to be on any given day.

The most effective reporters during this election cycle did just that: They listened.

And for newsroom bosses: It’s time to start listening to the less seasoned reporters in your newsrooms, in addition to the expensive pundits in your stable. Younger journalists have a better understanding of how information travels in 2017: through social media and mobile phones, rather than daytime cable news. They speak the language of millennials, now the largest generation in the country. They might not know everything, but the 20-somethings on your payroll know more than you think.

Here’s one idea how to do that: instead of pouring more money into polling and prediction-based analysis, why not extend a dialed-down version of the campaign embed program to non-campaign years like this one?

Don’t hire more pundits. Send young reporters to Madison and Las Vegas and Des Moines and Raleigh.

I’m confident that broadcast news viewers can learn a lot more from dispatches on issues and trends, filed from places like the Rust Belt and the New South―than they can from the predictable talking points doled out by the new administration’s White House spin machine, which has already proven itself adept at exploiting political journalism’s process-obsessed tendencies.

Editors and bureau chiefs: Instead of adding another body to the already overcrowded White House press corps, why not send that eager young journalist off to live in Ohio or Florida for a year, wielding a small video camera and keeping tabs on how the lives the people who elected Trump are being affected by his presidency?

My “Embeds” co-creator Peter Hamby recommended this step after the 2012 election in a widely circulated paper about the fractures in political journalism.

Two good recent examples of how to do this well comes from the Huffington Post’s Dave Jamieson and Yahoo! News’ Holly Bailey, who spent time in towns and cities that were crucial to Trump’s victory in the lead-up to the inauguration.

To really get to know the America that they are trying to reach and inform, TV news divisions should take the unexpected revenue they reaped from 2016’s can’t-miss reality show and reinvest it. Don’t hire more pundits. Send young reporters to Madison and Las Vegas and Des Moines and Raleigh. Have them find the next generation of political leaders. Give them a real opportunity to tell stories about addiction or housing or poverty or criminal justice in Trump’s America. All they need is a wifi connection and gas money to make some inroads toward filling the gaping void that was in large part created by the collapse of local newspapers nationwide over the last couple of decades.

Journalism is in a frightful state, and it’s not going to get better under President Trump unless news executives make tough editorial choices that value good storytelling over dumb clickbait and mindless punditry.

Ultimately, consumers want good, distinctive, fresh content, not more of the same. And the person best equipped to make it might just be that hungry 25-year old sitting down the hall.

Scott Conroy is the co-creator and executive producer of ‘Embeds’ on Verizon’s go90 platform. He is the author of Vote First Or Die (PublicAffairs, April 2017), coauthor of Sarah From Alaska, and creator of New Hampshire—a seven-part Huffington Post original documentary series about life on the 2016 campaign trail in the first-in-the-nation primary state. He was national political reporter for The Huffington Post and RealClearPolitics and a campaign embed reporter for CBS News.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Betsy DeVos, Trump's Education Pick, Seems Unfamiliar With A Major Federal Education Law

Huffington Post News - 2 hours 39 min ago

Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary appeared stumped by senators when they asked her about a federal education law related to discrimination during her confirmation hearing Tuesday night.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) asked Betsy DeVos about how she’d enforce the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. IDEA, as the law is known, requires that public schools provide children with disabilities a “free and appropriate” education just like other students.

As DeVos danced around his questions, Kaine grew agitated, asking her point-blank if schools should have to follow federal law.

“Should all K-12 schools receiving government funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act?” he asked.

“I think they already are,” DeVos responded, suggesting that no school is failing to meet the law.

“But I’m asking you a ‘should’ question,” Kaine followed up. “Should all schools that receive taxpayer funding be required to meet [the law]?”

“I think that’s a matter that’s best left to the states,” DeVos responded, essentially saying the federal government should abdicate enforcement of its own law.

Kaine pretty much lost it at that point.

“So some states might be good to kids with disabilities, other states might not be good, and then what? People can just move around the country if they don’t like [the schools]?”

When it was her turn to quiz DeVos, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who has a son with special needs, returned to the topic of IDEA, and wanted to pin down whether DeVos was even familiar with it.

“That’s a federal civil rights law,” Hassan said. “So do you stand by your statement a few minutes ago that it should be up to the state whether to follow it?”

“I may have confused it,” DeVos responded.

DeVos is a controversial pick to run the Department of Education. A billionaire from one of Michigan’s wealthiest families, DeVos has never been a teacher or worked as a school administrator, and her children did not attend public school. Her education experience is primarily as a political donor, steering money toward “school choice” reforms to bolster charter and private schools.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion