Saturday, January 7, 2017

Last Call For The Difference Between Republicans And Democrats

In North Carolina, under GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, millions of people remained trapped in limbo with no access to subsidies for health insurance and no access to Medicaid. Under Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper however, that has now changed for nearly two-thirds of a million people.

The state moved formally Friday to make changes to the Medicaid program with the aim of adding hundreds of thousands of people to the government insurance plan despite opposition from state Republican leaders.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced earlier in the week he would seek to expand Medicaid as allowed under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The details of the plan were made public Friday evening.

Proposed changes to the state plan must be posted on the state Department of Health and Human Services website for 10 days before a request goes to the federal government office that oversees Medicaid, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS. The state is accepting comments on the proposal.

Republican legislative leaders are already fighting it.

In a letter to CMS, legislative leaders said Cooper was violating the state constitution and three state laws. One of those laws, passed in 2013, prevents Medicaid expansion without legislative approval.

In a statement, Cooper said the 2013 law does not apply to the draft plan.

Expansion is no sure thing, and the statement from Cooper’s office is couched in several conditions.

“If CMS approves a change, if local matching money can be secured, and if state eligibility requirements are changed, then more than a half-million North Carolinians could receive health care beginning in January 2018,” Cooper’s office said.

Note that Republicans are screaming bloody murder over this, and quite frankly there's a very good chance that this expansion will never happen thanks to Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump even should this somehow get past NC Republicans with their veto-proof margins to kill this cold.

But Cooper is doing the right thing by getting the process rolling.

That's the difference.

Read more here:

Steal This Book, She Said

Former BuzzFeed News editor turned CNN Money investigative reporter Andrew Kaczynski is certainly leading off the network's new KFile project with a bang in 2017. Their first big scoop of the year turns out to be the fact that right-wing radio host and incoming Trump National Security Council mouthpiece Monica Crowley's 2012 book is chock-a-block with dozens of instances of plagiarism, some stolen wholesale from everyone from FOX News to the Mises Institute to National Review.

In the book, Crowley lifted an entire section on Keynesian economics from the IAC-owned website Investopedia.

In one instance, Crowley lists a variety of so-called "pork" items she claimed were part of the 2009 stimulus package. Many of the instances were copied wholesale from a conservative list of pork barrel spending, with some items dating back to the 1990s. Most of the copied instances were listed on a website for a podiatrist dating back to 2004.

A section on organized labor appears largely copied from a 2004 article by the libertarian think tank the Mises Institute. Another portion of her book on torture is copied from a Fox News article.

Sections of her book are repeatedly lifted from articles by National Review author Andrew C. McCarthy, who is a friend of Crowley’s. Lines in her book also match word-for-word the work of other columnists, including National Review’s Rich Lowry, Michelle Malkin, conservative economist Stephen Moore, Karl Rove, and Ramesh Ponnuru of Bloomberg View.

Crowley also lifted word-for-word phrases from the Associated Press, the New York Times, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the BBC, and Yahoo News.

Crowley has been accused of plagiarism before. In 1999, Slate reported a column by Crowley in the Wall Street Journal mirrored a 1988 article in Commentary, the neoconservative magazine.

"Had we known of the parallels, we would not have published the article," a Journal editor’s note said at the time. Crowley denied the charge at the time, saying, "I did not, nor would I ever, use material from a source without citing it."

Kacyznkisi brings his receipts, too, and includes all the instances he could find.

We're going to need more reporting like this, stuff where we remember that the leaders of this country and the people who work for them need to be held accountable.  Crowley should be let go, there's no way she can have a working relationship with the media as a spokesperson after stealing their work like this.

But we'll see who steps up to defender her among the right.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Still plenty of folks, including our incoming leader, who are doing everything they can to try to deflect attention away from the fact that a hostile foreign power manipulated our elections. The loudest cries from the defenders of Putin have been "Show us the evidence! You can't trust the CIA! Let's see it!"

And lo, the CIA said "Here you go."

Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.  
We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments. 
We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence. 
Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.  
Further information has come to light since Election Day that, when combined with Russian behavior since early November 2016, increases our confidence in our assessments of Russian motivations and goals.

The intelligent report is pretty clear about this analysis: Russia was up to no good, and they clearly decided that Trump was better for their interests, so much so that it was worth the risk of getting involved in influencing US elections.

Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.” Russia, like its Soviet predecessor, has a history of conducting covert influence campaigns focused on US presidential elections that have used intelligence officers and agents and press placements to disparage candidates perceived as hostile to the Kremlin. 
Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties. 
We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks. 
Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying. 
Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences. 
We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.

So the plan was that if Trump couldn't win, that they would use WikiLeaks, Russia Today, Sputnik and a host of internet trolls to unload massive disinformation about the Clintons in order to destroy Hillary Clinton's ability to govern.  The plan was so successful however that it outright put Trump in the White House and the Russians were celebrating the fact.

Senior officials in the Russian government celebrated Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical win for Moscow, according to U.S. officials who said that American intelligence agencies intercepted communications in the aftermath of the election in which Russian officials congratulated themselves on the outcome. 
The ebullient reaction among high-ranking Russian officials — including some who U.S. officials believe had knowledge of the country’s cyber campaign to interfere in the U.S. election — contributed to the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow’s efforts were aimed at least in part at helping Trump win the White House.

My question is of course they couldn't have done this without Trump.  He's been very, very vocal in defending Putin and saying the Russians had nothing to do with it, and even after the classified briefing he got Friday he still doesn't believe it.

At this point I have to assume the Russians have a Sword of Damocles waiting for him, and he'll do anything they want in order to keep them from unloading what they know about him. The evidence is overwhelming that our incoming president has been compromised by a foreign power.

Mad Dog Bites Back

So it turns out when you want to hire a guy nicknamed "Mad Dog" to run the Pentagon that 1) he doesn't take constructive criticism very well at all and 2) he really doesn't like other people making decisions for him.  In other words, before Trump and Gen. James Mattis even take office as president and Secretary of Defense respectively, they're already fighting like, well, cats and Mad Dogs.

The honeymoon seems to be ending between retired Gen. James N. Mattis and Donald Trump’s transition team amid an increasingly acrimonious dispute over who will get top jobs in the Defense Department — and who gets to make those decisions. 
With only two weeks left before Inauguration Day and days before Mattis’s Senate confirmation hearing, most major Pentagon civilian positions remain unfilled. Behind the scenes, Mattis has been rejecting large numbers of candidates offered by the transition team for several top posts, two sources close to the transition said. The dispute over personnel appointments is contributing to a tenser relationship between Mattis and the transition officials, which could set the stage for turf wars between the Pentagon and the White House in the coming Trump administration. 
The Trump transition team was already considering candidates for a host of Defense Department top jobs when Trump announced Dec. 1 that he intended to nominate “Mad Dog Mattis to lead the military. The Mattis pick was seen by Republicans around Washington as an indication that Trump would rely on senior and experienced officials to shape and implement his national security and foreign policies. Many “Never Trump” Republicans also thought this might be their way into service despite having opposed Trump in the GOP primary. 
Initially, both Mattis and the Trump team intended to engage in a collaborative process whereby Mattis would be given significant influence and participation in selecting top Pentagon appointees. 
But the arrangement started going south only two weeks later when Mattis had to learn from the news media that Trump had selected Vincent Viola, a billionaire Army veteran, to be secretary of the Army, one source close to the transition said
“Mattis was furious,” said the source. “It made him suspicious of the transition team, and things devolved from there.” 

Again, I can't overstress how ridiculous it is to have the President-elect and the Secretary-designate to be having this level of acrimony before either one is actually in the job.  And again, this is a fight over our nation's intelligence agencies as well.

One position that is a source of tension is undersecretary of defense for intelligence, a powerful post that overseas all Defense Department intelligence agencies, which include the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency. 
Retired General Michael T. Flynn, President-elect Trump’s national security adviser-designate, was DIA director until he was sacked by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. following a dispute with then-Undersecretary for Defense for Intelligence Michael G. Vickers. 
Mattis has rejected all of the names the Trump team has offered to be the top intelligence official in the department, another transition source said. Mattis is also unlikely to accept Trump’s top Pentagon transition landing team official, Mira Ricardel, as a top official. She was rumored to be in line to be undersecretary of defense for policy, a hugely influential job. 
“Let’s put it this way, he’s being very picky about the options presented to him,” said the source, who was not authorized to talk about internal deliberations.

So yes, this is already a serious personnel disaster.  Trump ultimately believes he's the smartest guy on Earth, it's why he won the election duh he's the smartest and best.  And yet he's already fighting with his Pentagon pick.

I expect this is a preview of what's to come, anyone who wasn't already a sycophant will be by the time Trump is done...or they'll be done.
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