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A New Political Force and the Future of the Democratic Party

Huffington Post News - 31 min 31 sec ago

A new political force in America was unleashed on Tuesday and how the Democratic Party reacts to it could determine its future as a major party.

The working class has spoken and any party or politician going forward better listen or they will be tossed out--Donald Trump the next time too.

This election has struck what should be a fatal blow to the Clintons' Democratic Leadership Council movement. Bill Clinton moved the Democratic Party to the center-right at about the same time that Tony Blair did with the British Labour Party.

Both cut their traditional ties to labor unions in the 1990s to embrace the economic neoliberalism of their 1980s predecessors Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: welfare reform, deregulation, privatization and free trade.

The effect on workers has been devastating. Millions have been thrust out of a middle-class lifestyle. They have seen their plants close and jobs shipped to cheap labor markets overseas.
They've seen the economy shift from production to financial speculation. And they've seen the greatest transfer of wealth in decades to the obscenely rich.

These workers have also seen wealthy liberals who've benefited from the system regard themselves as superior. They hear Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton call them deplorable.

On Tuesday the workers spoke.

But is the Democratic Party listening? It had better. The future of the party may depend on it.
For the past two decades Rust Belt workers voted for Democratic candidates--twice for Barack Obama (proving they aren't all deplorable racists). They were counting on change. Instead the Democrats took them for granted. But they have now rudely slapped the party in the face.

In Britain, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is fighting to dismantle Blair's so-called New Labour movement. This week we learned in a leaked speech Bill Clinton gave last year that he denigrated Corbyn, saying Labour "went out and practically got a guy off the street to be the leader" of the party. "When people feel they've been shafted and they don't expect anything to happen anyway, they just want the maddest person in the room to represent them."

This is typical of the Democrats' smugness, their careerism and contempt for ordinary Americans.
Corbyn is fighting to restore the Labour Party's historic ties to the working class. The Democratic Party had better do the same.

So far they are blaming everyone but themselves for having created this workers' backlash.
Sexism, the media, FBI Director James Comey, Vladimir Putin, Jill Stein and even Clinton cheerleader Bernie Sanders (for "poisoning the youth vote") have all been blamed.

A former Clinton operative speaking on Fox News said the day after an election loss a campaign engages in the "blame game." He said "everybody is being blamed but Secretary Clinton."

Pursuing Solutions

There are solutions to economic injustice but few in power pursue them because it's not in their self-interest. And politicians these days of any party act primarily on self-interest and their backers' interests, which is inimical to democracy.

Without a sharp turn to the left to regain workers' support, the Democratic Party risks becoming totally irrelevant. New Democratic Party leaders committed to workers must emerge. They have four years to prepare. Senators Sanders and Elizabeth Warren tarnished themselves as leaders who can achieve this by supporting a center-right candidate. They failed to acknowledge that Clinton was too alienated from workers who in the end abandoned the party to gamble on Trump.

Sanders had been offered the head of the Green Party ticket by Stein. She says he never answered her. Had they run together it is more than conceivable they would have gotten the 15% in the polls to enter the debates, where Sanders would have been a lofty alternative to Clinton and Trump.

Rust Belt workers may well have chosen Sanders. But instead the Democratic Party got a huge wake up call that would be suicidal to ignore. They won't admit it but they now know that Sanders was running the right campaign to defend workers' interests. If the party leadership continues to deny this it will be a very long four years indeed.

The Rust Belt working class can't be blamed for the choices they were given. Without Sanders, and with the ueber-Establishment Clinton instead, they sent a demagogue to the White House, clinging to the hope that he might keep his promises: to end ruinous trade deals, bring back manufacturing jobs to the U.S., create jobs by rebuilding the infrastructure, avoid new wars and clean the D.C. swamp of corruption.

Judging by the people being mentioned for his cabinet it's already looking dodgy. If Trump fails to fulfill his promises, the voters he so skillfully riled up might well send him packing in 2020. If the Democrats don't reform they will be in trouble in four years too.

That leaves the notoriously difficult path for a third party that represents the interests of ordinary Americans to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But it might be the only alternative left.

Media Also Repudiated

This election was a repudiation not only of the Democratic Party, but also Establishment Republicans, Wall Street, celebrity culture (who flocked to Clinton) and the news media. The shock to the American political system is unearthing stunning admissions one would never have imagined hearing.

On Fox News the morning after the election a group of personalities (calling themselves journalists) were suddenly talking about class in America, a normally taboo subject.

One of them said journalists didn't understand this election because none of them know anyone who makes less than $60,000 a year.

These pampered performers don't even mix with some members of their own profession. I can introduce them to plenty of journalists making less than that, let alone Rust Belt workers.

Will Rahn of CBS News accused the media of missing the story, "after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on. This is all symptomatic of modern journalism's great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness."

He says working class people have "captured the imagination of journalists, who have come to talk about them like colonial administrators would talk about a primitive inland tribe that interferes with the construction of a jungle railway: They must be pacified until history kills them off."

These are stunning admissions that would never have happened without this election result. But one wonders how long such introspection in the corporate media will last. After it totally got the Iraq story wrong and contributed to the disastrous 2003 invasion there were mea culpas. But that didn't last long as corporate media campaigns for new wars.

The difference here is that this new political force of voters, who for the Democrats and the media came out of nowhere (though they were staring them in the face) might force a re-evaluation. That's because these voters will be there four years from now and they've now demonstrated how crucial they are to gaining power in America.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

An Open Letter To President-Elect Trump

Huffington Post News - 33 min 1 sec ago

An Open Letter to President-Elect Trump From Ron Garan, Col. USAF, (Ret)

Congratulations on your election victory. Thank you for your words of conciliation in the early morning hours following the election, and your "pledge to every citizen of our land that (you) will be president to all Americans."

You also reached out to people who did not support you to ask for guidance and help, "so that we can work together and unify our great country." I am one of those people.

As a citizen of this great nation, I respectfully offer guidance on immediate steps that can help start the process to bring everyone "together as one united people."

First, reconsider your promise to cancel every one of President Obama's executive orders and programs on your first day in office. As a businessman, and now as president-elect, you know orderly transitions matter.

Canceling the health insurance of millions of Americans without a fully functioning system to replace it will disrupt if not destroy the lives of those who depend on it.

Consult the science community as you plan. As a NASA astronaut who lived and worked in space, I know Earth is not flat, that we live in a highly interrelated and interdependent biosphere, that climate change is real. People so often speculate that if world leaders could see Earth from space like astronauts and cosmonauts do, everything would be different. I believe this is true. Please consider these thoughts from men and women who are among the few who have seen our planet from space.

Unilaterally pulling out of the agreements the United States made with other nations during the COP-21 Paris Climate Conference, puts America on a dangerous path threatening the future of the world. In the short-term, we will alienate the other signatories, and demonstrate that our words and promises mean nothing.

You said during your victory speech, "I want to tell the world community that while we'll always put America's interests first we will deal fairly with everyone, with everyone, all people and all other nations. We will seek common ground not hostility, partnership not conflict." I assure you that canceling America's commitment to the 2015 Paris Climate Conference will be seen by the world as an act of hostility and conflict.

I share with so many Americans a frustration with the present state of our government. I look forward to meaningful and real reform to our political system. In the meantime, I respectfully ask that you consider the views and needs of all Americans before following through on your promised immediate actions. Without a carefully considered plan that takes into account the long-term effects to our nation, and to the world, I am unable to see any path that brings us "together as one united people."

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

The Real Fear That Elected Donald Trump

Huffington Post News - 41 min 53 sec ago

62,676,271 people voted for Donald Trump, and given Mr. Trump's myriad glaring flaws, lots of people are trying to understand why. Several demographic groups - whites, males, people with lower incomes, people with lesser education, evangelical Christians - are getting much of the focus. But while each had unique motivations to vote as they did, they all shared one thing, and that one thing is the real reason America is now facing four years of President Donald Trump. For one reason or another all these groups feel threatened, powerless and vulnerable and worried literally for their-being and safety because they no longer feel they have any control over the political system that controls their lives.

Certainly Trump's bigotry appealed to millions of Americans who remain either quietly or virulently racist. He won the vote of whites 58% to 37%. But not all of Trump's supporters are racists.

Certainly his crude sexist remarks appeal to millions of Americans who still consider women second-class citizens and sexual objects. Trump won the male vote 53% to 41%, and 42% of the female vote as well. But that's not enough either.

Many credit Mr. Trump's success, especially in rust belt states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to the millions of Americans who have come out on the short end of the economic stick of globalization. But that's insufficient too. Mrs. Clinton carried the lowest income brackets by eight to nine percent, while Trump won every bracket making $50,000 or more by between one and four percent. This was more than a revolt of the economic underclass.

And it was more than just the revolt of the lesser educated. While Trump had a larger edge among those with no high school degree (51% to 45%) and those with some college or an associates degree (52% to 43%), four out of every ten voters with post graduate degrees cast their ballot for Donald Trump too.

And yet four Trump voters out of ten, across these demographic groups, said Trump - the person they voted for - was unqualified for the job, and did not have the temperament for the job. One out of three Trump voters don't trust him.

What could compel someone to put control of nuclear weapons, or the world's largest economy, in the hands of a person they believe is temperamentally untrustworthy and generally unqualified? Or compel millions of Americans who are not overtly racially bigoted, or sexist, to put someone in charge of America who manifestly is. What could cause people who are not struggling financially, or who have plenty of education, or who have a literal interpretation of the Christian Bible, to vote for a vulgar, twice-divorced, woefully ill-informed businessman whose history is soiled with multiple major bankruptcies and a long record of contractors he and his company have simply failed to pay?

In a word, fear. Real profound fear, far deeper than fear of immigrants or terrorists or crime in the streets. Across their demographic differences, Trump's voters were motivated by the deep fear that eats at all of us when we don't feel like we control what's happening to us. The study of the psychology of risk perception - why we worry more about some things than we need to and less about some things than we should - has found that a sense of control helps us feel safe. Without a sense of control (think about sitting in the passenger seat of a car rather than sitting behind the wheel), we feel powerless, vulnerable, unsafe, threatened.

Subconsciously a lack of control makes us wary. It impacts how we think and reason. It makes us more likely to see threats where they don't really exist. It makes us more likely to believe what the leaders of our tribe say, so we assert our loyalty to and earn the protection of our tribe, and so we can contribute to our tribe's cohesion and power as it competes - in each member's interest - to control how society is run. This deep fear explains why so many people could disregard so many profound flaws in Donald Trump. His disqualifying inadequacies didn't matter to people who are afraid enough to believe the promise of a serial liar that he will restore their control of the federal government. The promise of a sense of control - of safety - trumps reason itself.

Consider how the desire for control motivated the demographic groups that voted for Trump. The whitelash of Trump's election is the response of racists wanting control of a political system that imposed on them a black president. The rejection of a female candidate for President is the response of millions of Americans, predominantly male, who want a man in control. The susceptibility to fear mongering about immigrants and global trade of millions of Americans who feel worse off economically today - one third of the electorate identified that way, and they went for Trump eight to two - is about what immigrants and global trade represent, a threat to the control of their financial lives and futures.

And the overwhelming support for Trump among white evangelical or born-again Christians, or among conservatives (Trump got 81% of the vote in both categories), reflected a desire to get control of government back in order to get society running by the values those people believe in. Never mind Trump's checkered history on all sorts of moral issues, or the fact that, as most of the intellectual leaders of the conservative movement have observed, Trump is way off the reservation on a range of conservative issues. Trump was closer to conservative than Hillary Clinton, so having him in charge gives conservatives more a feeling of control.

More broadly than these specific demographic groups, many observers simply (and correctly) call Trump's victory an overthrow of "the elites", of "the politicians and insiders", of "the establishment". But even this is insufficient. Those phrases only label the underlying psychology behind such movements. Brexiteers in England said basically the same thing. Populist revolts all do. They are people saying "I don't have control, and I need it, to feel safe. And I need a sense of control over my life so badly that the details don't matter, not as much as having control matters."

So we have the stunning result of November 9, which settled nothing. It just flipped who is up and who is down on the see-saw of power. Half of the voters in the country got that important feeling of control, but half lost it. (Don't forget that only about half of the eligible voters in the country voted, so slightly less than one quarter of the potential electorate actually elected Trump. Claims of a mandate are ludicrous.) People on the losing side are feeling just as Trump voters did before the election. Powerless. Vulnerable. Magnifying the threats they perceive, to Muslims or women or the environment or the economy. But more fundamental than all these emotions is the fear they feel for their own personal futures in a world they now don't control. That helps explain the unprecedented street protests against a President-elect.

This all bodes poorly for the not-so-United States. For many reasons the fight over who is in control, so vital for everyone's sense of safety and well-being, has devolved into a zero-sum game of winner and losers, with no room for compromise and sharing. That 'If you disagree with me you are the enemy" attitude is certainly what Trump's combative style is all about, and what his supporters - including the millions who don't trust him or think he's up to the job - voted for. And despite initial pieties about bringing people together, Trump's picks for his cabinet and advisers promise an administration that won't really serve all Americans, just the ones who support him.

Given the profound importance of a sense of control for how safe or threatened we feel, the Us Against Them state that American society has devolved into all but guarantees a self-perpetuating conflict that can only continue to tear the nation apart. It will take a remarkable turn for President Trump to recognize what this election demonstrated - the deep need that all people have for a sense of control over their lives. Nothing about him to date suggests he will make that turn, but he must, if he is to avoid profound harm to the country he claims to want to make great again.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

2016 Election Explainer In 4 Words: The Urban-Rural Divide

Huffington Post News - 45 min 1 sec ago

Since the historic win of Donald Trump, the American media and pundits have been grappling to understand the election results and how could they not see the predict the turn of events. It will take some time before detailed data on actual voter behavior is made available but one trend is clear. Voters who live in large urban centers, largely voted for Hillary Clinton while those who live in more rural parts of the country voted for Donald Trump.

The ideological divide manifested itself through the vast geography of the United States. The reasons are linked to the inequities that define today's America and how its citizenry is divided along class lines. The residents of cities are typically wealthier, have higher educational attainment and are somewhat more liberally inclined. Conversely, many rural parts of the U.S. are poorer and are less educated in the formal sense.

These generalizations admittedly are challenged by many exceptions but the electoral maps attest that the blue (Democratic) clusters are in cities and the Republican support is strongest in the vast lands of rural America.

Most states where one party controls both branches of the legislature (State House & Senate) are gerrymandered in the ruling parties favor. The 2016 presidential election county-by-county map shows that the urban rural divide has been further intensified by gerrymandering. When districts are drawn to shepherd Democrats and Republicans into their own corners (in different parts of a state), this makes the disparities in their voting patterns even more vibrant and obvious on an electoral map. Instead of a balance of conservatives and liberals, a mix of red and blue spread out across a state, gerrymandering essentially segregates and silos D's and R's into their own subsections as you'll see below.

Red Rubies on the Democratic West Coast

California Map Washington/Oregon Map

Blue Urban Pockets: San Francisco, LA, Sacramento, Seattle, Portland
Red Rolling Rural-lands: Most of Oregon, Washington and half of California

All along the 'lefty liberal', designated Democrat west coast, there were large swathes of red. Half of California, the supposed holy grail of the Democratic party west of the Mississippi, voted for Trump.

The counties that went blue were invariably clustered around the urban centers of Sacramento, San Francisco, LA and San Diego. Further up in Oregon and Washington, the blue zones were not surprisingly concentrated around the large metropolises of Portland and Seattle respectfully.

Outside of the city centers, the rural populace of two northwest states - Oregon and Washington - voted for Trump. Most rural areas all along the west coast voted Republican. On the map, these appear as red Trumpian rubies, in an otherwise blue jewelry shop.

The [Wild] Mid West

Ohio Map Illinois Map Wisconsin Map

Tiny Blue Urban Pockets: Chicago, Cleveland, Madison, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Columbus
Red Rolling Rural-lands: Everywhere else where people live farther apart

Ohio has always been a deal breaker as the perennial swing state. The results from the recent election show how the state is marked by blue polka dots on an otherwise red dress.
These dots are its urban centers of Cleveland, Akron, Columbus and Cincinnati. Although the state went to Trump, the cities went to Clinton.

The same occurred in Clinton's original home state of Illinois, where the counties around the Midwestern capital, Chicago, went blue whereas most of the rest of the state went red. Overall the state went to the Democrats because of the high density of people that live in the Chicago metropolitan area and Peoria, these two cities had more people within them that voted for Clinton than practically the rest of the entire state's counties which voted for Trump.

Lastly, in Wisconsin that has historically been a blue stronghold (Clinton hasn't visited the State once since the Democratic convention because it was considered a safe win), surprisingly went to Trump. This happened because unlike in Illinois, the urban centers of Madison, Milwaukee and Eau Claire didn't have enough Democrats voting for Clinton to tilt the overall outcome. The rest of the (mostly) rural state, went to Trump.

The South Is Not Another Country

Texas Map Louisiana Map

Tiny Blue Urban Pockets: Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, New Orleans, Baton Rouge
Red Rolling Rural-lands: Everywhere else where millions of people are not congregated

Even in the deeply red republic of Texas, the large economic, political and cultural capitals of Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio voted for Clinton. Republicans control all statewide Texas offices and both houses of the state legislature.

Texas has voted Republican in in every presidential election since 1980. Despite this history, its urban centers are perennially blue, along with a number of counties situated on the border, where Democratic leaning Hispanics make up a larger proportion of the population.

In Louisiana too, the large metropolis of New Orleans along with its second largest city, Baton Rouge went blue while the rest of the historically Republican state remained true to its past. Like Texas, the cities were not dominant enough to swing the state for Clinton.

The rural vote enabled Trump to win both state.


New York Map Virginia Map Florida Map

Tiny Blue Urban Pockets: NYC, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Richmond, Alexandria
Red Rolling Rural-lands: Everywhere else where tall concrete structures don't exist

New York has been a Democratic stronghold for years now. It is also Clinton's current home state. Yet, if it weren't for New York City's millions of voters, the state might have gone Trump red. Other than the urban centers of Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and Albany, almost all of upstate New York voted for Trump.

Virginia displayed the same pattern where the urban zones of Alexandria (right next to D.C.), Richmond and Norfolk, tipped a mostly red state into Clinton territory. The urban-rural, blue-red divide is particularly evident here with Roanoke, which looks like a blue coliseum, surrounded by red soldiers. Part of this is also due to the electoral district gerrymandering, which has taken place in the past.

Florida, one of the key states that led Trump to victory within the Electoral College, confirmed the same divide. Cities - Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Tallahassee - voted for Clinton while the rest of the rural landscape was painted red by Trump's rhetoric.

Pundits are now asking Trump to unite the country. While semantics are important the real unity in the U.S. requires thinking long and hard about the economic and political forces that deindustrialized and depressed large swaths of rural America.

The impoverished, the less advantaged and the marginalized America spoke on Nov. 8th.

All Presidential Election maps were created by and courtesy of the New York Times.

Written with Nihal Krishan, a political reporter based in Washington D.C.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Americans Don't Think The Government Needs 'Experts'

Huffington Post News - 56 min 11 sec ago

Americans, particularly those who voted for Donald Trump, are skeptical of civil service workers and the concept that expertise is an asset for government work, according to the results of a new HuffPost/YouGov survey.

While 43 percent say they have at least a fair amount of trust in civil service employees who run federal government departments and agencies, 45 percent say they trust those employees not very much or not at all. Only about a third of Trump voters report trusting the civil service, compared with 64 percent who do not.

A 53 percent majority of the public, including 71 percent of Trump voters, agree that “Everyday Americans understand what the government should do better than the so-called ‘experts.’” Thirty-six percent of those who voted for Hillary Clinton, and 55 percent of Americans who did not vote in this year’s election, feel the same way.

(The non-partisan think tank PRRI, which first asked the question in September 2015, found an even wider disregard for expertise, with about two-thirds of Americans saying they mostly or completely agreed.)

Trump’s cabinet, drawing heavily on loyalists from the military and private sector, is on track to be the least experienced in modern history, a prospect that worries some previous government officials.

“Government is like any other profession ― it requires expertise,” Norman Eisen, a former ambassador who worked on President Barack Obama’s White House transition team, told HuffPost. “I don’t think you’d want that gang, if they had a similar lack of expertise in surgery, operating on you with that level of comparable medical experience. And the same is true in government.”

Americans agree, to some extent. Fifty-one percent, including a majority of Trump voters and Clinton voters, say it’s more important that civil servants in charge of government departments and agencies have “the right education and experience.” Just 27 percent say it’s more important to have people who “can bring about change.”

But respondents don’t necessarily believe “the right experience” means government experience.

Although 39 percent want Trump to appoint people who have experience working in government, 24 percent would prefer he nominate people without previous government experience, and 38 percent were unsure or say it doesn’t matter to them. Trump voters say by a 32-point margin ― 49 percent to 17 percent ― that they’d prefer to see him appoint people who have not previously worked for the government.

Forty-one percent of Americans say that the people Trump has selected for political appointments so far have been mostly more knowledgeable than the president-elect himself, with 9 percent saying that they’ve been less knowledgeable, and 26 percent that they’ve been about equally as knowledgeable. A 63 percent majority of Trump voters say his picks so far have been more knowledgeable than he is.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Dec. 3 to Dec. 5 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

A Part Of The Sum: The Surprising Ease And Impact Of Civic Participation

Huffington Post News - 57 min 43 sec ago

I consider myself a responsible citizen, but minimally engaged in politics. I feel a responsibility to vote. Approaching middle age, I'm more abreast of current events than when my civic responsibilities began. Historically I never felt particularly connected to the process; what it means to live in a democratic republic.

My first true immersion was a mere five years ago, and really a dabbled toe in a pool. But, the impact continues to reside in a special, almost sacred space in my mind, even if its furniture is a bit faded. It was an assignment in my social work program; our task to lobby at the state house. A bit disgruntled anticipating the schlep and the transportation ordeal; my general mindset was to power through the assignment.

There are various lobbying days for the plethora of social groups throughout the year. I chose something convenient over personal crusade. When I first moved to the area around fifteen years ago, I was within stepping distance of the state house, but while finding myself at the time, it never occurred to me to be a tourist.

It was a pleasant day, sunny, a bit chilled. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, the gold domed roof eclipsed by the hard angles of the main building before me. In my own thoughts that I can no longer remember, I entered the ever expanding interior. I had no notion it was so beautiful. I was tiny, looking up at the marble and artwork covering every vertical surface. The only comparison close to the spectacle would be when I later visited the Vatican. Tours and busy people hustling left a vibrating bass echo reminding me of the cello sounds motivating me to take lessons I promptly dropped once I realized I lacked any iota of musical talent.

Within the heart of the main building, I found my place among this massive and well organized coalition. The energy was palpable. This wasn't my cause, but I felt the energy and excitement of the different factions and stakeholders coming together to organize and assert their will in their government. I was paired with people who knew much more about this experience than I...not a challenging threshold. I listened to speakers: policy makers, community activists, survivors. It was all so inspiring and humbling. It's what our politics is supposed to be.

I walked with my small cohort; they enlightened and guided me through the next bit. I would be attempting to speak to a representative; my representative. Her office was an open, nondescript room, stark walls, blue carpet, old. The room wasn't antique and historically old, rather reminiscent of any building that's been around since the 1960 or 70s. Long folding tables crammed with mostly young adults seated, busy at work; all clearly focused on their designated tasks.

Unfortunately...or fortunately...we were met with an assistant to my representative because her boss was out of the office for the day engaged in community outreach. I muddled through my urging for my representative to maintain her support for one of the coalition's efforts. The assistant was kind, listened patiently when confronted with my phrasing buffoonery. I was a constituent. I was taken seriously.

I left the experience mulling my future children taking part in this particular civic opportunity some day, but I haven't returned. As awe filled and inspiring as the experience was, life interferes. Lobbying at my state house is too cumbersome, and I was left returning to my political homeostasis. But, I've continued to think often of the experience, wondering what piece of engagement was realistic for me, for my comfort level and lifestyle. But, where do I start; what should I do? Nothing. I gave up without starting.

Until the fallout of this election I never realized the small ways in which I can be involved in the workings of this remarkable country. Despite the horrific and despicable nature of this new leadership's pursuits, we will have a peaceful transition of power. It is a model for every modern civilization. But, peaceful does not equate lackadaisical or indifferent. Something else remarkable occurred with this election debacle. I'm finding my voice in my country. But, exponentially more remarkable than my path are the droves of other inhabitants finding their places and voices as well.

I joined some social media groups, and I'm contributing in ways within my comfort level. Each day I involve myself with something; some efforts more significant than others. And, while my goal is to contribute in one way, often I find myself engaged throughout the time between the rising and setting sun. At times I only offer support or encouragement in comment sections to those braver than I. Other times I propose ideas. It's too soon to know if my ideas will yield anything productive, but perhaps something will flesh out at some point. I provide information as the news junkie I've become in the last several years. I offer testimony and personal stories. I even managed to override my anxiety and called lawmakers. I promise my expressions were clumsy, but they were counted. Some of my calls required nothing other than pressing a phone key. I am a solitary individual, but I am part of the vocal majority. I am asserting my protest because the aftermath of this election is in no way normal or acceptable. I'm becoming braver. Soon I will join the expansive group who calls hostile ears.

I am part of the machinery of my democratic republic. My role is so small, likely insignificant in itself, but I witness scores of others, and together we are an affront to the heinous actions attempting to stomp what makes this country so incredible. I can feel the immediate darkness as it attempts to shred our individual morality and collective humanity. But, until this very moment, I've never felt so integrally connected to my fellow countrypersons, and I have every confidence our light will eclipse the shadow.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

HUFFPOST HILL - Harry Reid Retiring To Spend More Time With Mitt Romney's Tax Returns

Huffington Post News - 59 min 27 sec ago

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Donald Trump attacked a local union leader on Twitter, fulfilling his campaign promise to save American jobs, even for all the losers and haters out there. Trump named the CEO of Hardee’s as his Labor Secretary, presumably only after the Chick-fil-A cows all turned down the job. Harry Reid bid farewell to the Senate and now will return to Searchlight, where he will force residents to listen to long-winded speeches about his hometown of Washington, D.C.. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, December 8, 2016:

TRUMP ORDERS UP MEANBURGER WITH A SIDE OF MISOGYNY - Carl’s Sr. must be so proud. Dave Jamieson: “In a rebuke to President Barack Obama’s work on the labor front, President-elect Donald Trump is expected to choose a fast-food executive to be the nation’s next labor secretary, tasked with enforcing workplace safety and wage laws on behalf of U.S. workers. Andrew Puzder, who advised Trump during his presidential campaign, is the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which includes the burger chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. among its brands…. Like Trump, he argues that the federal government has made regulations too burdensome on businesses, stifling job growth. Two of the major regulations he has criticized ― the minimum wage and overtime ― are ones he would be tasked with enforcing…. Puzder helmed Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. at a time the chains became famous for their controversial TV ads. They showed the likes of Paris Hilton and Kate Upton, scantily clad, eating cheeseburgers in a surprisingly sexualized manner.” [HuffPost]

RIP JOHN GLENN - Combat veteran. Test pilot. Astronaut. Senator. That’s one hell of a life. Joe Hallett: “His legend is other-worldly and now, in his 95th year, that’s where John Glenn has gone. An authentic hero and genuine American icon, Glenn died this afternoon surrounded by family at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus after a remarkably healthy life spent almost from the cradle with Annie, his beloved wife of 73 years, who survives.” [Columbus Dispatch]

AMERICA NOT A BIG FAN OF THE MAN IT JUST ELECTED PRESIDENT - More people think he’ll be “poor or terrible” than “good.” Noam Scheiber and Maggie Haberman: “Nearly a month after Mr. Trump’s election as president, he still has a long way to go to win the confidence of the nation. A Pew Research Center poll of 1,502 adults found that 35 percent of Americans thought Mr. Trump would be a good or great president; 18 percent said he would be average; while 38 percent said he would be poor or terrible. That is better than in October, when just 25 percent of the public said Mr. Trump would make a good or great president, while 57 percent said he would be poor or terrible.” [NYT]

HARRY REID SAYS GOODBYE TO SENATE - He also sort of said goodbye to American democracy. Michael McAuliff: “Retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) bade farewell Thursday, citing the words of George Orwell, Leonard Cohen and the Pope to caution America against falling under the sway of plutocrats…. ‘We’re entering a new Gilded Age. It has never been more important to be able to distinguish between what’s real and what is fake,’ Reid said. ‘We have lawmakers pushing for tax cuts for billionaires and calling it populism. We have media outlets pushing conspiracy theories disguised as news. Separating real from fake has never been more important.’” [HuffPost]

Reid is chill about Senate rule changes that will now screw Democrats. “What was fair for President Obama is fair for President Trump,” he wrote of eliminating the filibuster for most presidential nominations in a New York Times op-ed.

Case in point: The Republican National Committee will have its Christmas party this year at Trump’s gaudy hotel near the White House. Presumably, simply shoving wads of sweaty cash into his pants pockets instead was deemed impractical.

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MAYBE ALL THIS INFIGHTING WILL KEEP THEM TOO BUSY TO LOOT AMERICA -LOL, j/k. They can still do that. Gabriel Sherman: “As the least experienced, least ideological, and therefore perhaps most malleable president-elect in history prepares to take office, all eyes are on who is influencing his decisions. And so far, Donald Trump’s administration is shaping up to be like his campaign: full of clashing egos and agendas…. ‘In this administration, titles will not matter,’ one transition staffer said. ‘It’s like Game of Thrones.’ And the outcome is not simply about which personality gets pride of place but which worldview determines the Trump White House’s approach to policy: the nationalist-populist agenda of Bannon and other former campaign staffers, or the more traditional Republican governance advocated by Priebus and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence.” [New York Magazine]

TRUMP KEEPS CONNING THE MEDIA - And it works! Ben Walsh: “President-elect Donald Trump is doing exactly what he always said he was going to do with his company, the Trump Organization. But he’s spinning it as a new decision — and the press is buying it. The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, reported Wednesdayevening that Trump won’t sell his stake in his company. His adult sons will run the business, but he won’t transfer ownership to them. And he certainly won’t be doing anything remotely resembling divesting or installing an independent administrator to run the Trump Organization. It’s a plan that does almost nothing to address the massive conflicts of interest inherent in owning a real estate and branding business while serving as president of the United States. It’s also the same thing he’s been promising to do for months.” [HuffPost]

AS USUAL, TRUMP IS NOT PUTTING THE WORK IN - During the campaign it just meant he was unprepared for debates, but now it means the federal government could grind to a halt. Sarah Wheaton: “Donald Trump is beating President Barack Obama on the pace of splashy Cabinet announcements, but the president-elect is lagging his predecessor when it comes to other transition efforts critical to fulfilling his campaign promises. The slower pace applies not only to key appointments throughout his administration, but also to Trump’s lower-profile agency review teams, whose nitty-gritty work with Obama’s career bureaucrats could make or break Trump’s pledge to get his presidency off to a barn-burning start. Obama administration officials assigned to the transition say Trump’s representatives have been AWOL at some agencies, leaving them sitting on binders full of briefing materials that have been amassed since March.” [Politico]

DELANEY DOWNER - Arthur Delaney: “John Feltner was working his shift as a machinist at the Rexnord ball bearings factory in Indianapolis Wednesday night when word spread that President-elect Donald Trump had sent mean tweets about the union’s president. Feltner said workers were upset that Chuck Jones, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999, had gotten onto Trump’s bad side, since many believe the president-elect is their only hope of not getting fired next year. ‘There was a lot of dissent in the plant that politics are replacing the task at hand as far as saving jobs,’ Feltner said…. Feltner and several other Rexnord workers told The Huffington Post they were stunned last week when Carrier Corporation, which owns a furnace plant about a mile from their bearings factory, announced that Trump had convinced the company not to close the plant and send all its jobs ― roughly 1,400 ― to Mexico. The announcement gave Rexnord workers hope for their own jobs, which the company has also been planning to shift to Mexico next year.” [HuffPost]

Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers 1999, the union representing workers at that Carrier plant in Indiana, won’t be intimidated by Trump, the union leader writes in the Washington Post.

TRUMP LOYALIST PREFERS WHITE AUTOCRATS TO ASIAN COMMUNISTS - Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) ― one of the roughly 950,000 people on Trump’s shortlist for secretary of State ― is thirsty for Putin. Nick Visser: “In a fiery interview with Yahoo News and Finance anchor Bianna Golodryga, Rohrabacher toed a similar line to President-elect Donald Trump when he said it would be better to cooperate with Russia and ‘actually take on real enemies.’ ‘If it’s right for us to join in and cooperate and have a better relationship with Russia in order to defeat radical Islam and to pull China back a bit, well that’s a good thing, and that’s what this is all about,’ said Rohrabacher, whom Politico once called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ‘favorite congressman.’” [HuffPost]

NOW IT’S THE DEMOCRATS’ TURN TO THREATEN GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWNS -Big Joe Manchin doesn’t mess around when it comes to miners. Kelsey Snell and Mike DeBonis: “Senate Democrats are threatening to force a brief government shutdown this weekend in an effort to pressure Republicans to include more generous medical and pension benefits for retired coal miners and ‘Buy American’ language in year-end legislation moving through Congress. Government funding is set to run out at the end of Friday and lawmakers are currently considering a stopgap spending bill that would keep federal agencies funded through April 28. The angry Democrats are not threatening to block the spending measure, but to delay its passage past the Friday deadline in hopes they can entice Republicans into further negotiations.” [WashPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Marvel with the inimitable Brian Grubb of UPROXX at how a guy who walked off with a bucket filled with $1.6 million in gold still hasn’t been caught.

BLACK MAN PATIENTLY EXPLAINS THAT, YES, RACISM EXISTS - This interview would’ve been way more real if Obama had let Key and Peele do it for him. Hayley Miller: “President Barack Obama opened up about racism he faced throughout his presidency in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Wednesday. ‘Are there folks whose primary concern about me has been that I seem foreign ― the other? Are those who champion the birther movement feeding off of bias?’ Obama asked rhetorically. ‘Absolutely.’ … ‘I think there’s a reason attitudes about my presidency among whites in northern states are very different from whites in southern states,’ Obama told Zakaria.” [HuffPost]



@mattyglesias: You’ll know things have normalized when people start pretending to care about the Export-Import Bank again.

@lindsaygoldwert: I like to read about mass extinction events to remind me that in the grand scheme, none of our lives matter 

@meganamram: Imagine Trump getting his caricature drawn

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke Blames Inmates For Dying At His Jail

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 1 min ago

Three inmates and a baby have died since April at a jail run by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, but the outspoken lawman is refusing to take any responsibility. Instead, he’s blaming a health care provider and the inmates themselves for deaths under his watch.

The controversial cases include a man with mental health issues who died of “profound dehydration,” two inmates who died after suffering medical emergencies in their cells and a newborn baby whose death has been blamed on ignored requests for medical help from an inmate in labor. An independent investigator concluded last month that health care staffing shortages, delays in access to care and insufficient oversight of personnel at the lockup may have contributed to these deaths.

The scrutiny has become a major headache for Clarke, a bombastic self-promoter who was once thought to be a contender to run President-elect Donald Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. On Wednesday, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a federal probe into the jail, and last week a Milwaukee County supervisor called on Clarke to resign, accusing him of failing to take seriously the duty of managing the Milwaukee County Jail. The county’s chief medical examiner has taken the criticism further, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Clarke had “threatened” and “verbally pummeled” him in October, after he released information about two deaths at the facility.

In an interview with Wisconsin Watchdog published this week, however, Clarke pushed back against his critics, suggesting the inmates had brought death upon themselves. From the Watchdog report.

Clarke said what the Journal Sentinel’s “hit job” missed is the fact that jail populations are filled with sick people who have made a lot of bad decisions that have compromised their health.

“Two inmates suffered from ... cardiac disease, which became critical when coupled with the effects of hardcore drug usage prior to their incarceration, with their extensive drug histories independently noted in their death investigations,” he said.

Clarke reportedly went on to claim there was “no pattern or connection” in the jailhouse deaths. But it’s unusual to see so many inmates die in such a short period. Based on an analysis of The Huffington Post’s jail death database, other jails that have four deaths in a year are several times the size of Clarke’s downtown jail site, which has a capacity of 960. Even if no additional inmates die at Clarke’s jail this year, the facility’s death rate will be roughly three times the national average, according to 2013 figures.

Jails face complex challenges in providing medical care for inmates, many of whom come from vulnerable populations. Lockups are often packed with poor or homeless individuals. Many inmates suffer from mental illness or other medical conditions. Caging human beings is an inherently dangerous business, which is precisely why it’s critically important for jail staff to take the health of their inmates seriously. When they fail in this responsibility, as an independent investigator determined administrators at the Milwaukee County Jail did, people die.

But Clarke argues there’s nothing he could have done to prevent these deaths. The blame, he told Watchdog, lies instead with the jail’s private health care provider as well as with the inmates themselves.

“If there is a shortcoming here, people have to direct these questions at the medical staff,” Clarke told Watchdog. “That [private] contract is run out of the House of Correction, and they report to the county executive.”

Clarke’s effort to absolve himself is “preposterous and maddening,” said Erik Heipt, an attorney for the family of Terrill Thomas, the inmate who died of dehydration in April.

“A county cannot contract away its responsibility to provide constitutionally adequate healthcare to its confined citizens,” Heipt told The Huffington Post in an email.

Other inmates heard Thomas beg for water in the days before he died, the Journal Sentinel reported in July. Thomas’ death was ultimately ruled a homicide, and his family is considering a lawsuit against the county. Heipt says that while staff with the jail’s health care provider may have contributed to Thomas’ declining health and eventual death, so, too, did Clarke, as the official who oversees the jail and all of its operations

“For decades, the Supreme Court has made clear that contracting out jail or prison medical care does not relieve the government of its constitutional duty to provide necessary medical treatment to those in its custody,” said Heipt. “The government’s duty is non-delegable. Simply put: the constitution creates a continuing obligation on counties to provide needed medical care despite contracting out inmate healthcare to private, for-profit corporations.”

“Sheriff Clarke may not think the buck stops with him,” added Heipt. “But it most certainly does.”

Ryan J. Reilly contributed to this article.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

How Climate Change Deniers Got Their Groove Back

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 2 min ago

WASHINGTON ― Climate change deniers are feeling good.

Nowhere was that more apparent this week than at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s “Energy and Climate Policy Summit,” held Thursday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. The election of Donald Trump ― who has called climate change a “hoax,” though he has also spewed a bunch of occasionally sympathetic non sequiturs about it ― was clearly a sign of better days for those who disagree with the vast majority of scientists about human influence on the climate.

Individual sessions at the all-day event included “Is CO2 Really a Pollutant?” and “A Conversation on Climate Intimidation.” They featured the small group of very vocal scientists who dispute the overwhelming evidence that human activity is causing the planet to warm.

The keynote speaker just before lunch was Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the upper chamber’s most vocal climate change denier and the guy who brought a snowball to the Senate floor last year to prove his point.

In her introduction of the senator, the Heritage Foundation’s Becky Norton Dunlop praised Inhofe as “one of the great champions for truth in our country today.” Inhofe started off with a pitch about a drawing later in the day for a copy of his book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.

Inhofe was particularly happy about Trump’s selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s a dream to have his fellow Oklahoman fill that role, Inhofe said, and the audience’s applause suggested they felt the same.

“You will love this guy,” he said.

Inhofe praised the “army of 200” assembled in the room: “You are voices out there in the wilderness, out there with me.” He also praised the scientists there, who included Willie Soon, who has worked at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute ― both of whom, incidentally, have received fossil fuel funding to support their efforts to undermine climate science.

“All of my heroes are on the program,” said Inhofe. He said he felt the climate change deniers “are winning this thing very clearly.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), another congressional climate change denier, told the crowd that he, too, is “so encouraged by the nomination” of Pruitt.

“This is a man who understands federalism and separation of powers and has been a warrior, a champion to help restore those things,” said Lee. Pruitt “has spent years being ignored and being pushed around by Washington. So he knows the kind of dangerous bureaucratic mindset he’s up against.”

The afternoon offered presentations from several of Inhofe’s “heroes.” 

“I like to call this the CO2 Anti-Defamation League,” said Dr. William Happer, a physicist at Princeton University who said he spoke to counter the “myth that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant.”

“It’s undergone decade after decade of abuse for no reason,” Happer said.

The event also featured Craig Idso, a geographer who argued that the science on climate change is “tenuous at best.”

But Inhofe cautioned against overconfidence, warning that people who agree with him “have to be careful.”

“I don’t want people to think this is over,” he said. “It’s never over.”

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Trump Must Confront Massive Institutional Free-Trade Bias in Order to Balance Trade, Create Jobs

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 6 min ago

When Donald Trump embarks on his new trade agenda in January, he will face sustained resistance from those who opposed his primary and presidential campaigns, i.e., those whose views working Americans repudiated in the recent election.

Essentially, Trump's trade/jobs agenda has been criticized from the moment the establishment realized back in March that he might actually win the primaries. There have been numerous op-eds, blogs, and TV appearances by the free-trade status-quo crowd suggesting that Trump will destroy the US and world economies if he tries to restore balance to the world trading system.

Trump's antagonists are Wall Street institutions, multinational corporations, major business organizations, academic economists, editorial boards, business journalists, opinion writers, bloggers, and the generally economics-knowledge-free main stream media. All are opposed to Trump because they are wedded to a false, out-dated 'free trade' dogma, which has decimated the working/middle classes.

On Capitol Hill, a minority of Democrats and majority of Republicans are partial to the same discredited free-trade theories. Speaker Paul Ryan admitted as much in his remarks on the election victory, noting that Trump alone had recognized the dire plight of average Americans.

For the one-percenters and their shills, nothing in their bedrock beliefs changed with the election, and they will actively oppose Trump's trade platform with every maneuver and phony, distracting, pseudo-intellectual argument they can muster.

Their arguments include: Trump will start a trade war; he will plunge us into a job-destroying depression; the jobs aren't coming back anyway; they were all taken by robots; trade deficits don't matter; U.S. output is near a high; government handouts in the form of supplemental income payments to manufacturing job losers, plus retraining and vocational education are the real answer.

None of these is accurate and and none addresses the continuing economic advances made through the strategic trade/industrial/technology policies of our commercial rivals, who will take every last US manufacturing job if we let them.
In spite of the raft of criticism, the president-elect appears determined to up-end 30 years of failed trade policies. In order for Trump to succeed, his trade agenda must be guided by several defining principles:

First, the Trump administration must clean house of all the academically-trained, free-trade economists, bureaucrats, and negotiators inhabiting the trade functions of the federal government. Trump has called them stupid; they are in the sense that they keep following the same free-trade template, making the same erroneous assumptions in their models, and piling up the same massive goods trade deficits. Yet they expect the next free trade agreement to turn out to be more beneficial to the United States than the last disaster.

Second, Trump needs his new team to develop a strategic vision for the US economy over the next several decades. US trade policy must be based on a comprehensive plan. Balanced trade is necessary because trade deficits have to be financed -- by borrowing from foreigners or selling them our domestic assets to pay for their goods. Both practices are problematic, to say the least.

But balance, while desirable, should not be achieved just by selling more soybeans and pork, and importing fewer socks. While that may be part of the approach, the U.S. economy needs to move ahead on technology and productivity growth across a broad spectrum of industries, including high-tech and futuristic sectors in which the country is currently deficient.

There will be howls of objection to a strategic plan and cries of 'communist central planning,' but strategic economic objectives are not central planning or 'picking winners and losers.' America's trade adversaries are already far ahead in many areas with next generation products and prototypes, thanks to their strategic implementation of explicit industrial policies, intellectual property theft, and forced technology transfer.

In contrast, the United States simply doesn't possess a concerted national manufacturing strategy -- in part because, historically, trade was a small part of our large continental economy. But as the nation's economy has been globalized over the last 20 years by bad trade policy decisions (which are reversible, not set-in-stone, physics-like 'laws' as the free traders would have us believe), a strategic vision is imperative. One can't fight something with nothing, and our economic fate shouldn't be left to the randomness of the 'free market,' which is in fact manipulated and managed by our competitors through currency manipulation, non-tariff barriers, IP theft, subsidies, dumping, VAT taxes, inter alia.

Third, America's response to the current situation of global trade imbalances and manipulation must be unilateral, and not dependent on the putative cooperation of foreign governments. Simply put, nothing will change if the United States continues to rely on 'the kindness of strangers,' i.e., other countries' promises to abandon their mercantilists policies by signing unenforceable, 'best efforts' agreements. Trump must dictate the new terms of trade, not negotiate them. His leverage: access to the largest market in the world -- which he must use before it is overtaken by China.

Fourth, a strict timetable is needed. Trump's goal should be balanced trade in four years, with America's trade deficit declining by 25% annually to zero. This goal can be accomplished in a number of ways, including limits on the value and type of imports if necessary. Four years gives US companies dependent on parts or sub-assemblies from overseas operations plenty of time to relocate back home. Trump may have to pull out of the World Trade Organization and various trade treaties if our trading partners reject informal cooperation and seek to tie up his plans in trade lawsuits.

Fifth, the US dollar must be kept continuously competitive -- priced to help US manufactured goods either in our home market or as exports in foreign markets. Republican presidents Nixon and Reagan were acutely aware that the price of the dollar had a large effect on our trade deficits and thus negotiated the Smithsonian and Plaza Accords, respectively. But our trading partners soon reverted to their old currency-manipulation ways. The Trump administration must not hesitate to counter currency manipulation via active, continuous Treasury Department involvement in foreign exchange markets to keep American products competitively priced.

Sixth, Trump must impose a Value-Added Tax of 18-20 percent applicable at the border to all imports. Over 150 of our trading partners use such taxes to make American exports pricier in their home markets. We should reciprocate. The great irony is that as succeeding rounds of trade talks have successfully cut tariffs, our trading partners have raised their VAT taxes in response, thus offsetting the tariff cuts. This is a place our trade negotiators have truly been asleep at the switch.

Additionally, on the campaign trail, Trump threatened to punish US companies that move jobs abroad by imposing tariffs on them. The problem is that the competitors of these companies who have already gone overseas, or foreign companies, will remain free to send products made with cheap foreign labor into the US market. Instituting a border VAT will create an big incentive to keep production here or move it here, by making the US a more cost-effective place to manufacture.

Finally, as if all of these issues weren't enough, President Trump will confront a marketplace wherein commercial cyber warfare has become an almost daily scourge. One example: US Steel has filed a trade case against Chinese companies for stealing their technology for lighter, stronger steel products -- and selling ripped-off, competing products in the US market below the cost of manufacture. Thus, protection of IP and trade secrets (especially in the defense arena) must be addressed decisively.

Time is short. The Trump administration must pursue trade enforcement remedies with a vengeance in cases like that of US Steel. America possesses anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws that should be utilized as quickly as expedited trade investigations can allow.

Overall, a new, job-creating trade policy is central to Trump's success as president. He has promised repeatedly that jobs are going to come pouring home -- and soon. If they do not materialize, he will forfeit a large portion of his credibility. Yet he faces a dual battle against the entrenched, one-percent economic interests here and a global trading system rigged by the unfair trade practices of power-house, export-oriented economies in East Asia and Europe.

Trump already knows the global trading system is rigged against average working Americans. He has been speaking about the problem since the 1980s. He needs to adopt the above approaches quickly and act decisively in order to blow past his powerful antagonists, domestic and foreign, and bring jobs home.

The task will not be easy; restoring US economic greatness will inevitably involve some amount of painful economic readjustment both at home and abroad. However, the pain is worth enduring because the American and global economies are in a state of advanced imbalance that cannot be sustained. The United States cannot absorb year after year of $800 billion goods trade deficits and remain the world's leading economy. The readjustment toll will be far less painful than a global economic collapse caused by growing trade imbalances.

It's a tricky ride, and one fraught with political and economic conflict. But it's a necessary one in order for President Trump to keep his promises, rebuild a preeminent U.S. economy, and create good jobs and a higher standard of living for all Americans.

Kevin L. Kearns is president of the U.S. Business & Industry Council, a national business organization advocating for domestic U.S. manufacturers since 1933.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Southbound I-75 reopened both directions near Rouge River bridge after accidents - Fox 2 Detroit

Berkley Information from Google News - 1 hour 6 min ago

Fox 2 Detroit

Southbound I-75 reopened both directions near Rouge River bridge after accidents
Fox 2 Detroit
WEB UPDATE (5:40 p.m.): The freeway has been reopened following the crashes and ice causing closures. A traffic crash had the southbound side of I-75 closed, but now the winter weather appears to be causing a northbound closure. A crash involving ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

This isn't about my candidate losing, it's about fearing for my safety

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 10 min ago

This week has been a lot. I don't need to recap it for you, we all know what happened. Instead, I'll give you a walk through of the past 48 hours in my life.

I woke up, I put on my equivalent of a pantsuit (dark jeans and blazer) and I voted. I voted blue across the board, which doesn't actually say a lot when there are no non-Democratic candidates in Boston. I went to class, I relaxed and moved through my day because I thought we had it in the bag. I went to the liquor store to buy some rosé and champagne, because I expected I would be popping them early in the morning when CNN called the election for Clinton. I thought we had it in the bag.

I went to dinner with my girlfriend, where we continued debating the merits of Sanders versus Clinton because we still disagree on who would be a better president. It didn't cross our minds that this might not go our way until we were home, flipping between channels to watch the returns.

It wasn't until Clinton plateaued that we began to worry. My mom called me. Trump was gaining. My mom conferenced my sister in from North Carolina. Clinton needed a miracle. Molly held me as I stared at the TV in disbelief. We had this in the bag, didn't we?

As the results would show, no, we didn't. We never did. The Billy Bush tapes weren't enough, an endorsement from a former KKK leader wasn't enough, and the lack of policy wasn't enough. It's unclear what would have been enough to stop Trump.

Going to the rally in the Boston Common helped. It helped to be surrounded by people who believe that Black lives matter, it helped to chant "trans lives matter", it helped to be surrounded by so many people that no one would notice the tears on my face or the cracks in my voice. Because I am afraid. I'm scared because my best friend is a Chinese-American woman in rural Illinois. I'm scared because my sister is an Asian-American woman in North Carolina and her husband is a Latino immigrant. I'm scared because while my girlfriend is White-passing, she has a Persian last name and the Iranian half of her family have beautiful first and last names that speak to their heritage.

Our fear is palpable, and not for no reason. People have started to compile lists of racist, Islamophobic, and homophobic attacks. Sean O'Kane has one titled Day 1 in Trump's America and Quartz has one as well. I live in a blue state and yet, I am afraid because people have already started harassing, threatening and attacking minorities in Massachusetts. It is hard to live in a country where people actively remind you that they do not want you to exist. It is exhausting and scary and hard. People like us are beautiful, diverse, and resilient. Some see that as a bad thing. But I know that families like mine are evidence that we truly are stronger together. Maybe one day, Trump supporters can see that too.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Weinberg Requests Assembly Speaker Consider Impeachment Proceedings In Wake of Bridgegate Trial

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 14 min ago

TRENTON) - Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), who served as co-chair of the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation, which investigated the George Washington Bridge lane closures, today requested Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto consider the impeachment of Governor Chris Christie, whether now or after he leaves office as allowed by the Constitution:

"During the now completed Bridgegate trial there was considerable testimony under oath that Governor Chris Christie had knowledge of a conspiracy to misuse government resources to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Article Seven, Section Three of the New Jersey Constitution provides that a Governor may be impeached 'while in office or for two years thereafter' for a misdemeanor committed during office. If impeached by the Assembly and convicted by the Senate, a Governor can be removed from office and disqualified 'to hold and enjoy any public office of honor, profit, or trust in this State.'

"In light of testimony from the trial and the governor's public statements, I am requesting the Assembly Speaker consider impeachment, the outcome of which could deny Chris Christie the benefit of office and correct the public record to reflect the evidence provided in this federal court trial. The allegations of federal prosecutors and statements of witnesses who testified under oath cannot go unanswered and impeaching Chris Christie would bar him from further public service in this State."

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Could campaign finance overhaul help solve congressional gridlock?

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 14 min ago

Vice President Joe Biden said big money in politics is "corrupting." (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


Should we restrict political contributions? How have weakened political parties impacted this election? Can public financing work? President-elect Donald Trump pledged to "drain the swamp," yet has not proposed changes to the campaign finance system. So experts in the field with various viewpoints ran through scenarios at a forum organized by New York University and law firm Sidley Austin on Thursday.

Vice President Joe Biden headlined the event, breezing by the subject except to call "the role of big money" in our system "corrupting," and saying, "If you want to change overnight the way of the electoral process in America, have public financing."

Experts argued about what form that corruption -- if it exists -- takes, with some disputing Biden's suggested cure. David Keating, president of the conservative Center for Competitive Politics, maintained there is no evidence stricter contribution limits affect the amount of corruption in politics. Others framed the issue differently, saying that politicians will be more likely to listen to policy advice from their biggest supporters.

"The concern is one about rising inequality that comes from the greatest wealth transforming economic power into political power," said Richard Hasen, a professor at the University of California at Irvine who runs a well-respected campaign finance blog.

Getting money out of the system or silencing voices isn't necessarily the answer, added David Donnelly, president and CEO of the group Every Voice. Advocates should instead try to incentivize small donors through public matching programs or vouchers, he said, or a set amount of money from the government given to the public for them to use for political donations. 

Former Republican National Committee general counsel Benjamin Ginsberg called that idea "food stamps for politicians," while NYU law professor Samuel Issacharoff said that even though public financing may work on the state and local level, it doesn't scale to federal races.

Hasen suggested vouchers be given to citizens to route first through political parties, in order to strengthen the institutions that have lost power with coordination rules and limits on party spending.

The diminishing of the Democratic and Republican parties led outside groups to fill the void, panelists said, with their ability to spend unlimited amounts of money and take charge of the messaging. This shift in power could help explain the "rise in extremism," because messages aren't being filtered through a consistent institution.

"Candidates have agendas set by outside groups," Ginsberg said. "It's a messy nonsensical system if the goal is to have members who get elected pay some degree of adherence to party principles as opposed to special party interests."

And that may have contributed to the stagnation in Congress.

"The parties are weaker so their coordination function is diminished, which makes them unable to deliver [policy] like when they could cut deals," Issacharoff said. "If you diminish the fuel for central mediating, money will simply reinforce what we have."

However, Hasen predicted the new Supreme Court will further loosen campaign finance restrictions, with limits on contributions to parties the next to go. Perhaps instead of limits, the focus should be on accountability and knowing who the big players are, he and others suggested.

"If you give $10 million directly and it is transparent, then at least there's an accountability for taking that $10 million," Issacharoff said. "If you launder it through an LLC that goes through a super PAC, there's no identification of the institutional backing of the money, and there's no apparent accountability. We're probably in the worst of all worlds right now."

On the note of transparency: John J. Kuster, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, which sponsored the panel, boasted about the number of former public officials who have joined their ranks. (We have 61 Sidley employees in our Revolving Door database.) Contributions from employees and PAC of the global law firm (of which President Obama and the First Lady are alums) typically trend blue; about 75 percent of the $1.1 million they donated this year went to Democratic candidates of committees. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton benefited from the largest chunk, $370,000. The firm's lobbying arm earned $3.7 million in the first three quarters of 2016, the largest client being biotechnology company Intrexon, which paid the firm $1.2 million through Sept. 30.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Defeating Trumpism with the White Working Class

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 16 min ago

Donald Trump was right. The system is rigged. Government doesn't work for working folks. It's not helping families make ends meet. And it is definitely not creating jobs for the middle class.

And white people are mad as hell.

The white working class, high school-educated, have since the 1990s, seen increased death and unemployment rates, and see no signs of relief.

The president-elect's analysis blames this failure of government on corrupt politicians and insider elites like Hillary Clinton. As with all Trumpisms, it lacks any deeper analysis--including the real perpetrators profiting off a rigged system. Besides brief mentions of Goldman Sachs (who is definitely guilty as hell), Trump leaves out the main beneficiaries of neo-liberal policies over the last 40 years.

Trump's favorite example of flawed government stealing jobs from working class white families is NAFTA--all of which he blames on the Clintons. Yes, NAFTA was bad for workers. Yes, the Clintons should take a lot of blame for it. But the real culprits are its beneficiaries--corporate elites, like Trump himself.

The economic gains of NAFTA went straight into the bosses' pockets, at the expense of workers--home and abroad. Manufacturing jobs that used to be in Ohio and Pennsylvania were transplanted--all to make labor cheaper for billionaire capitalists. Millions of jobs were lost over the border, overseas and through "innovation." And lots and lots of white people were laid off.

But there is almost no mention of the capitalists that made billions off of this deal. Take for instance General Electric, which benefited immensely from NAFTA. Many billionaires from Warren Buffett to Jeffrey Immelt to Steve Cohen have made millions from GE in their push for ever-expanding profit. Through stock buyback programs and dividends, they have extracted billions out of a company that in return cut costs by shifting workers' jobs abroad.

Now repeat this process over and over for every company in America, with an interchangeable cast of billionaire investors, hedge funds and private equity firms, and you get millions and millions of unemployed folks with a declining standard of living and a very small cohort of billionaires.

The Clintons helped push NAFTA through. But, let's be clear--the real culprit is the billionaire class profiting off of NAFTA at the expense of workers.

This of course was an impossible argument for Hillary Clinton to make. She herself is a part of this group of elites.

Of course, so is Trump. But, instead of basing his arguments against the billionaires like himself, he scapegoated immigrants. This allowed him to capitalize on the anguish of working-class white families across America--while completely avoiding any scrutiny of his own profiteering.

Bernie Sanders and Trump had similar arguments on trade--arguments that incited working class whites. Sanders, though, correctly blamed billionaires and elites. Instead of making a horizontal argument blaming a separate exploited group (immigrants), it transformed the argument into a top-bottom analysis (everyone versus billionaires).

What Sanders lacked was a connection to communities of color, which make up the base of the Democratic Party. His analysis of billionaires profiteering off of a rigged system didn't dig into the racist practices billionaires have used to extract profit from communities of color for centuries. As much as he could rail against billionaires and millionaires, he could not muster a consistent argument about racial inequities.

Uniting angry white voters with black and Latino voters is possible when we take the argument beyond simple Trumpian epithets about immigrants. There is a common group that is making life unbearable for all working folks -- billionaires. The system is rigged in their favor. And the Clintons were a part of it.

This argument cannot be made by other corporate Democrats. Like Hillary, it will come off hollow. Chuck Schumer and Corey Booker cannot carry this mantle. They in fact are the problem. We need to move beyond the old Democratic ideology of the Clintons and into a new wave of anti-capitalism. This is the only way we will defeat Trumpism.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Gift Ideas For The “Pizzagate” Conspiracist In Your Life

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 17 min ago

It’s the holiday season, and that means time for gifts! But what do you get the angry friend or family member who thinks one of the following:

  • Barack Obama is a secret Muslim.

  • The government creates mass shooting hoaxes with actors so they can come get everyone’s guns.

  • Liberals and the MSM (mainstream media) really want white people to go extinct.

  • Hillary Clinton and John Podesta are major players in a pedophilia ring, centralized in a DC area pizza place, based on bizarrely baseless claims made by internet sleuths with no evidence but a lot of MS paint diagrams showing “PROOF!” #Pizzagate

Yeah, that’s a tough one. But here are a few suggestions!

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White Women, It's Time To Get A Clue ... If It's Not Too Late

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 19 min ago

Not all white women are clueless. But Trump's victory proves that the majority of us are.

I've never understood the election statistic that most married white women vote Republican. Even if they were Democrats before their wedding day, there's apparently something about putting on that ring that turns their blue hearts to red.

Yes, I'm a white woman, but a diehard liberal Democrat. So I cannot for the life of me understand why white women go Republican or why they would ever vote for Donald Trump. It's understandable, policies aside, that in 2012 many white women voters liked that nice Mitt Romney with his ever-growing brood and good head of hair. But how in the world did white women allow themselves to be bamboozled to vote against their own interests by the biggest misogynist since Rush Limbaugh?

I know the answer. Too many white women think that certain bad things will never happen to them, so they don't have to worry about them. Yes, Trump mocked Hillary Clinton mercilessly on the campaign trail.  Yes, he constantly lied about her, saying that she was "crooked" without a shred of evidence (and ignoring the fact that he, himself, isn't the straightest arrow.) Yes, he let his alt-right supporters chant about locking her up, and worse. But those things would NEVER happen to nice white soccer moms, right?

That kind hubris and ignorance has now put the least qualified person to ever run for president into the Oval Office. And we have white ladies to thank for that. The women's vote has determined the presidential winner in every election since 1980, and Tuesday night, 53 percent of white women voted for Trump.

Too many white women take things for granted and assume that things many people complain about just don't happen to them. For example, many 21st century feminists have bought into the fairy tale that we now live in a world where qualified women don't experience sexism or discrimination. They blithely went along with white woman Sheryl Sandberg who convinced them that to advance in a world of men, all they had to do was "lean in" a little harder; that they should stop worrying their little heads about blatant misogyny because working harder and longer would make up for the male bosses who continue to promote less qualified men at their expense.

It also didn't help that many younger feminists said, "Nah, no need to vote for Hillary 100 years after suffrage, because I'm sure that I'll see a woman president in MY lifetime," while glibly casting their protest votes for Gary Johnson, arrogantly brushing off the dreams of the handful of 100+ -year-old women who were proudly voting for HRC in their white pantsuits,  something they thought they would never live to see.

White girls, it's time to wake up. Because if you don't, soon your daughters are going to be in exactly the same spot you are today - living in a time where the leader of the free world is a lying, sexist, pussy-grabbing bigot who cares about no one other than himself and his own authoritarian style of self-aggrandizement.

Don't take my word for it. My white "sister" from the north of the border will school you:
" [White voters], if Muslims have to take responsibility for every member of their community, then so do we. ... A majority of white women, when faced with the historic choice between the first female president and a vial of weaponized testosterone said, 'I'll take Option B. I just don't LIKE her.'"

No, white girls didn't like Hillary Clinton.  I already knew that, but I didn't think they'd play that high school card with so much vigor that it would keep one of the most qualified candidates ever to run for the White House from taking the oath of office.

Women voters of color knew they didn't have to like Hillary (though many probably did) in order to vote for her. They knew they needed someone who was smart, qualified, and experienced who had the policy chops and connections to help everyone economically and who could make the world a safer place.  But because the majority of white girls didn't "like" Hillary, they voted for the unqualified wrecking ball who will now have a GOP Congress to do his authoritarian bidding. Because white girls didn't like Hillary, we are all now stuck with the guy who has never held elective office who says his brain is so good he doesn't have to consult anyone on anything, even on military matters or "bombing the shit" out of people.

In 2020, white ladies, you might want to get over that likability fetish. The first woman president doesn't have to be like you, even though you apparently think she does. I know you hated the smart girl with glasses in high school who wanted to be on student council, go to college and make a difference in the world. Been there, done that. I'm also guessing that you seemed to like the guy in high school who paid the negative attention to you and you thought you could change him. Well, at least that's how Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell view Trump. But you ladies who tried to be the good influence on the bad boy know that has zero chance of working.

The wheels are already turning to put the extreme policies of Donald Trump into effect - cutting Social Security and Medicare, getting rid of health insurance for the 20 million people who just started being able to see doctors again, and cozying up to other strongmen like Russia's Vladimir Putin and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

But it's not just the fault of the white women who voted for Trump. It's also the fault of the rest of us white women who weren't able to convince them of how dangerous it would be if Trump got the keys to the White House. For you white ladies who decided Trump was better than Hillary, I hope you enjoy the next four years as you realize that all the things Trump claimed he'd do for the "little guy" - like bringing back manufacturing jobs and helping the economy by trashing any and all trade agreements - will never happen, because he has never cared about you, and he isn't about to start now. Oh, and that paid maternity leave policy he claimed to be so interested in? In case you hadn't checked, there's no there there.

Take this to the bank - in 2020 you will be shaking your heads over how the once great United States turned into a virtual Trump dictatorship that has benefitted no one, other than Trump and his ego, and that has become dangerous for all of us. And that's when I'll sadly say, just look in the mirror and you'll see who bears the blame.

Joanne Bamberger is the founder of the digital magazine of women's commentary The Broad Side and the author/editor of the the award-winning bestseller Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

The Presidency As A Symbol: Politician And Statesman

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 31 min ago

In the U.S., the president isn't just head of government, such as a Prime Minister, but is also Head of State (I hesitate to say "like the Queen," but akin to a ceremonial state President in other countries). There it's a tension inherent in this hybrid role: the president must be a politician, but also a statesman who is above party politics. The President and the Presidency are national symbols. We have many national symbols. Mr. Trump deplores flag desecration. He needs to insure that the Presidency - as a national symbol similar to the flag - maintains requisite dignity. We might disagree with policies - that's politics - but we should not have to be ashamed of his demeanor. We should expect proprietary and dignity.

There are many people with whom I disagree on politics, but who have sterling characters - people with whom I disagree, but for whom I have deep respect, sometimes bordering on reverence. I want to be able to say that about a man who is to be president.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

France Is Doing Something Amazing With Its Food

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 52 min ago

This article is part of HuffPost’s “Reclaim” campaign, an ongoing project spotlighting the world’s waste crisis and how we can begin to solve it.

France has little tolerance for trashing perfectly edible food, and its firm stance is paying off. 

The European country has become a world leader in minimizing food waste, according to a new report on global food sustainability.

Released Dec. 1, the Food Sustainability Index ranks how well countries are performing when it comes to food waste, agricultural sustainability and addressing nutrition challenges. The report analyzed all the countries in the Group of 20, which includes the largest global economies, and examined five nations from underrepresented regions, as well as 16 cities.

France scored highest on the index’s metric for efforts aimed at curbing food waste. The United States came in sixth in that category, and Saudi Arabia came in last place out of the 25 countries on the list. 

The first report of its kind, the Food Sustainability Index ― created by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research and analysis group, and think tank Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition ― aims to highlight the policies that are helping the world get closer to achieving the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a list of targets adopted last year which aim to end global injustices such as hunger and extreme poverty. 

Another aim of the Food Sustainability Index is to spread awareness about consumption habits and teach people how they can better protect the planet. 

The focus on food waste comes at a time when 800 million people are living with hunger, yet one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. 

France has succeeded in demonstrating that ending food waste, and addressing hunger, go hand in hand. It also showed that viable solutions for both issues are right in plain sight.

In February, for example, France declared it illegal for its supermarkets to throw out food that’s nearing its expiration date. The stores can either compost or donate it to charity. 

The country also banned putting expiration dates on certain categories of goods, such as wine and vinegar. Expiration dates are often random and don’t necessarily signify when a food may be close to spoiling.

Small-scale programs have also had a major effect. In 2014, Intermarche, Farce’s third largest supermarket, started selling “ugly” produce ― the fruits and vegetables that are fine to consume, but may be misshapen or bruised. The program reached 13 million people after one month. 

Despite such isolated advances, the authors of the Food Sustainability Index report believe that much more needs to change before the world begins curbing its waste in more effective ways ― and they hope France can be a model.

“The food retail industry is rising to the challenge of food waste through several measures: clearer expiration dates on produce, partnerships with charities to donate excess foods, and use of food waste as fuel are among the measures used by the leading food system stakeholders,” the authors noted. “But legislation, following France’s lead, will help ensure these are not disparate and one-off initiatives but part of a comprehensive strategy to slash waste.”

Here are the 10 countries that scored highest in report’s anti-food waste category:

More stories like this:

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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Here's How Concerned Republicans Are With Trump's Conflicts Of Interest

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 55 min ago

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WASHINGTON ― In the absence of a clear plan to address the unprecedented conflicts of interest facing Donald Trump’s presidency, you might think congressional Republicans would be planning aggressive oversight of the incoming president’s financial entanglements and looking to establish clear firewalls between Trump and his business dealings.

Or you might think that Republicans don’t really care about Trump’s conflicts of interest.

In interviews with The Huffington Post over the last two weeks, congressional Republicans gave the impression of the latter.

“I don’t think that Mr. Trump has as big of a problem as people would like him to have with it, so, no, I have no problem,” Rep. Michael Kelly (R-Pa.) told HuffPost this week.

When pressed for clarification, Kelly asked who we worked for. We then asked about Bahrain renting out Trump Hotel on Wednesday, a potential opportunity for the Middle Eastern kingdom to influence the incoming president by directing money to him. Instead of answering that, Kelly attacked HuffPost.

“I think you folks are going to have a great four years,” he said.

Asked what that meant, Kelly shut down. “Well, it just means exactly what I said. I mean, listen, how about call my office if you want to and give me a list of what you want to talk about?”

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) ― famous for shouting “You lie!” during one of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses ― repeatedly said he wasn’t concerned at all with foreign or business interests using the open pipeline into Trump’s pocket to try to influence him.

“Hey, my view is I voted for Mr. Trump because I knew ― and I was really sold by my wife, all right, she was the one who identified ― he’s such a good businessperson, he surrounds himself by very talented people and would make a good president,” Wilson said.

Pressed again on potential conflicts of interest, though, Wilson said Trump was turning over his businesses to his children. And asked if that was sufficient, given the role that Trump’s children seem apt to play in the presidency, Wilson stressed once more that he wasn’t concerned.

“I’m sure that they’ll adjust for that too,” he said.

Even Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the top watchdog in Congress who had vowed vigorous oversight of Hillary Clinton when he expected her to win the presidency, has taken a decidedly less aggressive tone with Trump.

“It’s sort of ridiculous to go after him when his financial disclosure is already online,” Chaffetz told HuffPost recently.

While he didn’t rule out eventual investigations, Chaffetz made it clear he had no intention to hold any hearings before Trump takes office, even though the second Trump assumes the presidency, he will be in violation of the lease agreement he signed for Trump Hotel in the historic Old Post Office in Washington, D.C.

That lease states that no elected official “shall be admitted to any share or part of this lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom,” meaning elected officials aren’t supposed to make money from the Trump Hotel, which Trump, an elected official, will obviously do.

And this is just the beginning of the incoming president’s conflicts of interest. 

Trump has hundreds of businesses with his name on them that could be used by foreign governments and other individuals or organizations to potentially influence him; hundreds of millions he owes to foreign banks that could complicate U.S. relations; and seemingly endless executive rulemaking opportunities that could affect his wallet. (Trump gets to decide, for instance, whether people making less than $47,476 a year, many of whom work in his hotels, will get overtime pay.)

The issues are real and immediate, but Republicans are treating them as if they’re theoretical and far down the road.

It wasn’t always this way. For the last eight years, Republicans have forcefully gone after the Obama administration, from the Benghazi investigation and Fast and Furious to ACORN and the supposed political targeting at the IRS.

Republicans have also spoken out about alleged self-dealing at the Clinton Foundation and the need to ensure elected officials aren’t enriching themselves.

In 2012, the GOP overwhelmingly supported legislation meant to prevent members of Congress and executive branch employees from using insider information to profit. It was Republicans, in fact, who insisted the president be included in the legislation, the STOCK Act. 

Then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), that, “‘If we’re going to play by these rules, then President Obama is going to play by these rules,’” Walz recounted this week. “It was smart.”

All but four Republicans in Congress supported the STOCK Act ― Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia and John Campbell of California voted against it in the House, and Richard Burr of North Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma opposed it in the Senate ― and Republicans made impassioned speeches on the floor, railing against elected officials using their offices to make money.

“One of the great causes that impels the separation from Great Britain was the common practice of public officials using their office to increase their personal wealth,” Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) said at the time.

But now, Ross told HuffPost, Congress should “wait and see” how Trump separates himself from his business dealings before lawmakers go after him.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House science committee, said in 2012 that government exists to promote the public good, not to enrich elected officials and government employees. “Those who are entrusted with public office are called public servants because their work should always serve the public rather than themselves,” Smith said on the House floor. “No one should violate the sacred trust of government office by turning public service into self-service.”

And now that Trump is going to be president? Smith referred us to his office for questions about the STOCK Act and the incoming president.

Of course, some Republicans have suggested there might be some issues with Trump’s finances. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) has consistently said Trump’s explanations of his conflicts of interests are insufficient. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), one of Trump’s earliest supporters, said he wanted to see Trump follow the law. “He shouldn’t be making money off being the president for his personal interests, so I definitely think that needs to be looked into, and I think he agrees,” DesJarlais said. Even Ross and Chaffetz have indicated they may support investigations at some point.

But for those Republicans who are concerned, the “wait and see” approach seems to be the norm ― if Republicans are concerned at all.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) aggressively went after Clinton in July. “No one should be above the rules, no one should be above the law, and that’s what we’re looking for, equality,” Ryan said on CNN. “So that people should be held to the same set of standards. That’s the problem with Washington, is people think there’s self-dealing and they think that everybody is being held to different standards. And the problem is that that’s true!”

And yet when Ryan was asked on Wednesday how Trump should handle his conflicts of interest, Ryan’s answer was “however he wants to.”

“This is not what I’m concerned about in Congress,” Ryan told CNBC. “I have every bit of confidence he’s going to get himself right with moving from being the business guy that he is to the president he’s going to become.”

He’s not alone in that assessment. He just has no evidence that it’s true. And he doesn’t seem interested in getting proof.

Christina Wilkie and Paul Blumenthal contributed reporting. Video produced by J.M. Rieger.

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Categories: Political News and Opinion