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Is Bernie Sanders the only one still talking about climate change?

This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Democratic Party omitted any mention of climate change in its rebuttal Tuesday to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.

In his speech, Democratic Representative Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts didn’t bring up global warming, sea-level rise, or the surge in global greenhouse gas emissions, which threaten to become worse as the Republican White House ramps up fossil fuel production to unprecedented levels.

The 37-year-old former prosecutor and grandson of Massachusetts Democrat Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, lamented the Trump administration’s “all-out war on environmental protection,” made a passing reference to a “coal miner” and lionized Americans with the courage to “wade through floodwaters, battle hurricanes, and brave wildfires and mudslides to save a stranger.”

Yet, like Trump, the Democrat neglected critical milestones in the climate crisis in his speech. Last year marked the world’s second-hottest year on record. The U.S. racked up a record $306 billion in climate-related damages. And fossil fuel emissions hit an all-time high as the rate of carbon dioxide pollution began increasing for the first time in three years.

Drew Hammill, a Democratic spokesperson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This comes against the backdrop of Trump dismantling U.S. policies to reduce greenhouse gases and slashing funding for research. The president, who has long mocked scientists’ warnings on climate change, announced plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, which has been signed by every other nation on Earth. In October, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the federal government’s only major policy to reduce emissions. In his inaugural State of the Union address, Trump declared an end to a “war on American energy.” He took credit for the boost in fossil fuel exports that began under President Barack Obama, and he celebrated the end of a “war on beautiful, clean coal,” a bizarre statement at odds with the continued closures of coal-fired plants and the high-profile failure of a carbon-capture coal plant last year. The president noted “floods and fires and storms,” but did not mention the overwhelming scientific consensus that a warming planet has made the weather events worse.

The GOP remains the only major political party in the developed world to oppose the widely accepted science behind human-made global warming as a platform issue. Yet Democrats’ criticism has focused more on their opponents’ climate denialism than on policies to drastically curb emissions, leaving the party without any grand vision to address what they routinely call the greatest environmental challenge of a lifetime. A tax on carbon ― the policy proposed by Reagan-era economists and nominally supported by Big Oil ― remains the foremost idea on the table.

Kennedy’s dynastic roots and impassioned speeches defending health care laws have made him a rising star in the party. While he isn’t known for his environmental stances, he earned a 96 percent lifetime score on the League of Conservation Voters’ ranking.

Even the State of the Union statement issued by Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, considered one of the most hawkish Democrats on climate issues, snubbed climate change. He did, however, rail against the Trump administration’s plans to open nearly all federal waters to oil and gas exploration, noting that the proposal put “the local commercial fishing industry and the Ocean State’s coastal economy in harm’s way.”

By contrast, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, pointedly skewered Trump for ignoring climate change.

“How can a president of the United States give a State of the Union speech and not mention climate change?” he said in his own rebuttal. “No, Mr. Trump, climate change is not a ‘hoax.’

“It is a reality which is causing devastating harm all over our country and all over the world, and you are dead wrong when you appoint administrators at the EPA and other agencies who are trying to decimate environmental protection rules and slow down the transition to sustainable energy.”

Sanders is scheduled to participate in a “Climate State of the Union” on Wednesday evening hosted by the environmental group 350.org.

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Is Bernie Sanders the only one still talking about climate change?

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Trump administration rolls back protections for migratory birds, drawing bipartisan condemnation

This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks have sparked a lot of outrage. But one recent action by the Interior Department drew unprecedented protest from a bipartisan group of top officials who go all the way back to the Nixon administration: a new legal opinion that attempts to legalize the unintentional killing of most migratory birds.

Under the new interpretation, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act forbids only intentional killing — such as hunting or killing birds to get their feathers — without a permit. The administration will no longer apply the act to industries that inadvertently kill a lot of birds through oil drilling, wind power, and communications towers. Critics fear that these industries might now end the bird-friendly practices that save large numbers of birds.

An American coot on an oil-covered evaporation pond at an oilfield wastewater disposal facility. An estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 migratory birds die each year in oilfield wastewater pits.

A letter sent by 17 former wildlife officials on Jan. 10 urges Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to suspend the “ill-conceived” opinion, saying it makes it nearly impossible to enforce a 100-year-old law protecting migratory birds. The former officials’ message is clear: The Trump team’s assault on environmental regulations is not just the normal pendulum swing between Democratic and Republican administrations. Rather, Trump’s rollbacks are attacking fundamental principles of conservation supported by both Republican and Democratic administrations for many decades.

The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to kill birds without permission, though hunters can obtain permits. For decades, the threat of prosecution gave industries that unintentionally kill a lot of birds an incentive to collaborate with the federal government on minimizing bird deaths. For instance, hundreds of thousands of birds die each year from getting poisoned or trapped in the toxic muck of drilling companies’ wastewater pits. To remedy this, oil and gas companies can store the waste in closed tanks or put nets over their pits to limit the number of deaths.

In other industries, fishing boats that drag long lines with baited hooks accidentally drown albatross, petrel and other seabirds. After working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, fishing companies started attaching weights to their lines so they descend more quickly into the water. At communications towers, neotropical songbirds, especially warblers, are attracted to the steady red lights that warn pilots, and as a result, millions are killed each year. So the industry, working with several government agencies, figured out that flashing lights — which don’t attract birds — are just as good at preventing airplane collisions. It’s a cheap fix, because the towers already have strobe lights; they just have to turn off the steady ones.

Companies that refused to cooperate risked criminal prosecution. Duke Energy and PacifiCorp Energy were both prosecuted during the Obama administration for failing to take steps to protect birds at their Wyoming wind farms, despite the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to get them to do so.

Under the Trump administration’s new interpretation, however, companies would no longer be prosecuted for failing to protect birds. The new opinion was written by Interior’s principal deputy solicitor, Daniel Jorjani, a Trump appointee who came to Interior from Freedom Partners, a political organization largely funded by the Koch brothers, fossil-fuel billionaires with an anti-regulatory agenda who are major players in elections around the country. Freedom Partners’ board of directors is made up of Koch executives.

The opinion was issued just before Christmas, along with other anti-environmental actions. Brad Bortner, who was Fish and Wildlife’s chief of migratory bird management until the end of December, says he and his staff were not consulted or even given a heads-up. Paul Schmidt, a top official in the migratory bird program under both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, became the “spark plug” for the opposition to the new policy. He contacted his counterparts in other administrations as well as higher-ranking officials who served presidents from both parties. “One hundred percent all agreed immediately that was a bad interpretation,” Schmidt says. They waited for Bortner’s retirement to be official so he could sign their protest letter, and then they sent it to Zinke.

All but one of the agency’s directors since 1973 signed the protest, as did top Interior officials from the administrations of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon. “People were aghast at this announcement,” says Dan Ashe, former president Barack Obama’s Fish and Wildlife Service director. “It’s a complete giveaway, principally to the energy industry, but to industry writ large, at the expense of a resource that is precious and vulnerable.”

“This legal opinion is contrary to the long-standing interpretation by every administration (Republican and Democrat) since at least the 1970s, who held that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act strictly prohibits the unregulated killing of birds,” the letter states.

The former officials’ protest underscores that the resistance to the Trump administration’s assault on environmental protections is broadening. Former Republican Environmental Protection Agency administrators already had joined the chorus of Democrats, environmental groups, and hunting and fishing groups decrying the Trump administration’s pro-industry agenda. But the Migratory Bird Treaty Act letter marked the first time such a broad group of former Interior Department officials had signed on to such a protest. Zinke has not yet responded.

Lynn Scarlett, who was deputy Interior secretary and acting Interior secretary under George W. Bush, says the old interpretation of the law protected birds without being too onerous for industries. Companies were prosecuted only after ignoring repeated warnings. “The act and the way it has been implemented for many years has made people come to the table and think about important actions to protect birds,” says Scarlett, now managing director of The Nature Conservancy. “Narrowing that is going to adversely affect birds and diminish the motivation for creative conservation partnerships.”

Some former officials who signed the letter say Interior’s new legal opinion defies the clear wording of the act, which states: “It shall be unlawful to hunt, take, capture, kill … by any means whatever … at any time or in any manner, any migratory bird.”

But the Trump administration argues that the act was implemented in an overly aggressive or threatening way. “Interpreting the (act) to apply to incidental or accidental actions hangs the sword of Damocles over a host of otherwise lawful and productive actions, threatening up to six months in jail and a $15,000 penalty for each and every bird injured or killed,” Jorjani wrote. The Trump administration has told reporters it will take several months to develop guidelines on how the legal opinion impacts the way field staff work.

While campaigning for the presidency, Trump blasted the Obama administration’s use of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act against the oil industry as “totalitarian tactics.” “The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against seven North Dakota oil companies for the deaths of 28 birds while the administration fast-tracked wind projects that kill more than 1 million birds a year,” Trump said in May 2016, calling the case an example of “government misconduct.”

National Renewable Energy Lab researchers release a bald eagle from a lift during research to develop a radar and visual systems that prevent bird strikes with wind turbines.

He was echoing Harold Hamm, chairman, chief executive officer, and founder of Continental Resources Inc., who fought the prosecution for bird deaths in oil fields in North Dakota, calling it “patently wrong” because his drilling operation didn’t intentionally kill birds. A federal judge agreed with him and threw out the case.

Federal courts have been split over whether the act applies when birds are killed as a result of otherwise legal activities. Last year, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican, sponsored a provision of the House energy bill that would amend the act so it no longer applies when birds are accidentally or incidentally killed. Conservationists worry that if passed, her provision could permanently enshrine the Trump administration’s new policy with disastrous consequences for birds. The bill could get a vote early this year in the House, but a Senate bill has yet to emerge.

Bob Dreher, a vice president of Defenders of Wildlife, says his conservation group will look for ways to block the new interpretation, but it won’t be easy. Legal opinions can have enormous impact on how the government functions but cannot be challenged in court the way regulations can be. Ashe says this reality inspired the former officials to sign their protest letter: “The public has no opportunity to comment, no opportunity to challenge the decision. They get no day in court.”

Some companies say they will continue to work with Fish and Wildlife to protect birds despite the Trump administration’s new policy. “We don’t want to be killing birds,” says Sherry Liguori, environmental manager of Rocky Mountain Power, the division of PacifiCorps that operates in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. PacifiCorps, one of the West’s leading power companies, retrofits 10,000 utility poles a year to make them less likely to electrocute birds, according to Liguori. Costs range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. On average the company spends $1,000 to $2,000 per pole, she says. “I can’t speak for other companies, but I know for Rocky Mountain Power, we’re looking at the long term,” Liguori says. “We don’t see a reason not to do this. We’ve found that it’s effective. It’s a win-win for birds. It’s a win-win for the company and customers.”

Still, the legal opinion is likely to limit much of the cooperation companies have provided in the past. “A lot of Americans don’t know anything about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but they love birds,” says Dreher, former acting assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources division of the Justice Department and former associate director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “This administration is selling out birds for industry — and dirty industry at that.”

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Trump administration rolls back protections for migratory birds, drawing bipartisan condemnation

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Farmworkers are risking their health to harvest produce near California wildfires.

On the one hand, supporting science is good! On the other hand, geoengineering — the modification of planetary systems to counteract the effects of global warming — is a risky long-shot attempt to address climate change, when much simpler, more direct solutions are already known.

A new bill introduced by a Jerry McNerney, a Democratic representative from California, calls for “a federal commitment to the creation of a geoengineering research agenda and an assessment of the potential risks of geoengineering practices” by the National Academies of Sciences.

The bill comes out of the House Science, Space, and Technology committee, chaired by outgoing climate foe Lamar Smith. Smith has somehow managed to support geoengineering research without acknowledging the changing climate that would render it necessary in the first place.

To be fair, research into geoengineering is a far cry from — as one proposal would have it — actually spraying particles into clouds to make them brighter, reflecting more sunlight and therefore allowing less heat to enter the atmosphere.

Whether that kind of planetary meddling will ever be a viable approach to climate change requires a lot more research, yes. But with the sciences feeling the pinch of a science-allergic administration, lots of important research is already on the chopping block.

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Farmworkers are risking their health to harvest produce near California wildfires.

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Trump’s EPA eases off on the whole “environmental protection” thing.

On the one hand, supporting science is good! On the other hand, geoengineering — the modification of planetary systems to counteract the effects of global warming — is a risky long-shot attempt to address climate change, when much simpler, more direct solutions are already known.

A new bill introduced by a Jerry McNerney, a Democratic representative from California, calls for “a federal commitment to the creation of a geoengineering research agenda and an assessment of the potential risks of geoengineering practices” by the National Academies of Sciences.

The bill comes out of the House Science, Space, and Technology committee, chaired by outgoing climate foe Lamar Smith. Smith has somehow managed to support geoengineering research without acknowledging the changing climate that would render it necessary in the first place.

To be fair, research into geoengineering is a far cry from — as one proposal would have it — actually spraying particles into clouds to make them brighter, reflecting more sunlight and therefore allowing less heat to enter the atmosphere.

Whether that kind of planetary meddling will ever be a viable approach to climate change requires a lot more research, yes. But with the sciences feeling the pinch of a science-allergic administration, lots of important research is already on the chopping block.

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Trump’s EPA eases off on the whole “environmental protection” thing.

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It’s OK that Democrats don’t have a national climate policy

More than a year after the election of Donald Trump, the opposition Democratic Party still hasn’t found its voice on climate change.

That’s according to an essential overview of the situation from the Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer. Taken at face value, it’s not good news: Despite consistent rhetoric that climate change is among the most important challenges of the century, the Democratic Party has no large-scale cohesive plan to tackle it.

OK, that fact is worrying.

However, while Meyer is correct in his assessment of national politics, he makes one glaring omission: Climate action at the local and state level around the United States is, if anything, healthier and more ambitious than ever before. And it’s more often than not driven by Democrats. After a two decade-long quixotic quest for a unified federal climate policy, party members are finally willing to admit that their climate strategy can’t rest on economy-wide national legislation alone.

“We need to do everything we can to fight climate change,” says Keith Ellison, a congressman from Minnesota and deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee. “That means having a bill ready for passage when we take power, and it also means pushing for more immediate wins to lower carbon emissions at the state and local levels by building upon the work of aggressive climate policy in states like Minnesota, California, and New York.”

In city halls, boardrooms, and statehouses across America, what’s (not) happening on climate in today’s Washington is mostly a sideshow. The science is clear, climate-related disasters are happening now, and in most cases, it makes economic sense to take action immediately. So on the front lines of climate change, from San Juan to San Francisco, Minneapolis to Miami, the message is clear: This problem is too important to wait for Congress and the president to get their act together.

Since President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement back in June, more than 2,500 local leaders from all 50 states have signed a pledge saying, “We are still in.” In aggregate, those leaders — mayors, governors, CEOs, university presidents, etc. — represent more than half of all Americans. As an independent nation, they’d rank third in the world in terms of share of total emissions — nearly 10 percent of the global total. But this collective is pushing some of the most ambitious climate policy anywhere on Earth.

And contrary to what you might hear in Washington, pro-climate efforts don’t come at the expense of the economy. In New York City, emissions are down 15 percent since 2005. In the same timeframe, the economy has grown by 19 percent. In Minneapolis, emissions are down 18 percent while the economy is up 30 percent.

Even in red states like Kansas and Texas, bipartisan coalitions are emerging to take advantage of tremendous renewable energy resources in wind and solar. In 2005, Kansas sourced less than 1 percent of its electricity from wind. Now, it’s at 25 percent and, like California, is on pace to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources in the next few years. There is now a nationwide job boom in construction and installation of renewable energy.

If you ask Democrats and advocates directly, this kind of progress has changed the prevailing wisdom of what effective U.S. climate policy looks like.

“We know it’s possible because we’re doing it,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement from Bonn, Germany. “The West Coast offers a blueprint: This is how you build a thriving, innovative economy that combats climate change and embraces a zero-emission future.”

Inslee is helping lead a sizeable, but unofficial, U.S. delegation at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn. Dan Firger of Bloomberg Philanthropies, whose boss, Michael Bloomberg serves as an outspoken U. N. special envoy for cities and climate action, calls it a “shadow climate government.”

“We’re less concerned about a silver bullet bill in Congress than we are about how best to get near-term carbon reductions done,” Firger told Grist, adding that the former New York City mayor believes in “bottom-up climate action.”

Lou Leonard, a senior vice president at the World Wildlife Fund, points to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based approach to reducing carbon emissions among several northeastern U.S. states. Already, one of the largest carbon schemes in the world, it stands to expand after this month’s elections resulted in Democratic victories in the Virginia and New Jersey governor races. Those states are now set to join the initiative.

“We cannot put all our chips in a federal solution,” says Leonard from Bonn, where his organization is helping support the We Are Still In delegation. “That’s not the way the U.S. economy works, that’s not the way politics works, and it’s certainly not the most obvious path to success.”

Still, The Atlantic’s Meyer has a point: Democrats need to be able to combine all these local policy victories into a national and global win. After all, worldwide carbon emissions are on pace for a new record high in 2017. But this inside-out approach has precedents for yielding real results.

Climate change inherently is a problem that requires local action. And increasingly, those working for climate policy have shifted their efforts to support local early adopters. It’s a strategy specifically designed to build an eventual national consensus.

“There’s more happening than many people are aware of,” says Steve Valk, the communications director for Citizens Climate Lobby. “City and state initiatives — as happened with gay marriage — can drive a national policy.”

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It’s OK that Democrats don’t have a national climate policy

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Democrats Are Setting Their Sights on "Putin’s Favorite Congressman"

Mother Jones

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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) won his first election to the House of Representatives in 1988 with 64 percent of the vote. He’s been reelected 13 times since then. And even though he walloped his most recent challenger by nearly 17 percentage points, some Democrats now think that this could be the final term for the Southern California conservative Politico has dubbed “Putin’s favorite congressman.

Protesters, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, assemble outside Rohrabacher’s office every Tuesday at 1 p.m. “He has been our congressman for a long time,” laments Diana Carey, vice chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County. “But because the district was predominantly Republican, my view is he’s been on cruise control.” Thanks to changing demographics in Orange County and newly fired-up liberal voters, Carey doesn’t think Rohrabacher’s seat is safe anymore.

Recently, Rohrabacher has been swept up in the scandal over the possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. Like Trump, Rohrabacher, who claims to once have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with Vladimir Putin in the 1990s, believes the Russian government is being unfairly demonized. (During the 1980s, Rohrabacher was a staunch anti-communist who hung out with the anti-Soviet mujahedeen in Afghanistan.) He has shrugged off allegations of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election by pointing out that the United States is guilty of similar actions. In May, the New York Times reported that in 2012 the FBI warned Rohrabacher that Russian spies were trying to recruit him. Two days earlier, the Washington Post reported on a recording from June 2016 in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” (McCarthy assured Rohrabacher the remarks were meant as a joke.)

In a 2016 conversation with Republican House members, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Washington Post

But of all the issues where Rohrabacher and Trump align, Russia may be the least pressing concern for the constituents who are rallying against him. So far, Rohrabacher has voted in line with Trump’s positions more than 93 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight, including voting in favor of the GOP health care bill that would effectively end Obamacare. Rohrabacher pushed hard for the bill, warning his GOP colleagues that letting Trump’s first major legislative effort die would stunt the president’s momentum. “If this goes down,” he said in March, “we’re going to be neutering our President Trump. You don’t cut the balls off your bull and expect that’s he’s going to go out and get the job done.” Health care is a hot-button issue in the 48th District, Carey says. “I’ve had conversations with people who are absolutely beside themselves, scared that they’re going to lose coverage.”

While Rohrabacher won his last race in a near-landslide, his district went for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. She won by a slim margin, but it was enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to flag the district as a top target to flip in 2018. If the Democrats hope to best Rohrabacher in the midterms, they have a lot of work to do, says Justin Wallin, an Orange County-based pollster who runs an opinion research firm. “I don’t think Dana has carved out a position as a fire-breathing supporter for any political personality except for Ronald Reagan,” says Wallin, referring to Rohrabacher’s early days working in the Reagan White House. “He tends to align quite naturally with that district in his perspectives, his persona, and his political views. His district views him as being independent, and when Dana takes a position on something that seems to be outside the mainstream, that can actually buttress his favorable regard.”

Two Democrats have announced bids to run against Rohrabacher. One is first-time candidate Harley Rouda, a businessman and attorney who gave $9,200 to Republican congressional candidates and nothing to Democrats between 1993 and 2007. The other is Boyd Roberts, a Laguna Beach real estate broker who has vowed to work to impeach Trump and who finished last among five candidates running for a school board seat in Hemet, California, in 2012. Both are attacking Rohrabacher over his sympathetic stance toward Russia. “The district will vote Rohrabacher out because i think there is something with the Russia thing. I think I can raise money off it,” Roberts told the Los Angeles Times. In an online ad, Rouda calls Rohrabacher “one of the most entrenched members of Washington’s establishment” and vows to get “tough on Russia” if he is elected.

“They’re both kind of waving the flag of the Russia thing, and I just don’t think that’s gonna get them over the line,” says Wallin. Carey declined to comment on either candidate, though she says a third challenger will be announcing a bid this summer. Meanwhile, the DCCC hasn’t thrown its backing behind anyone yet. “Barring something dramatic happening, I’d say he is far more safe than a number of other districts in the area,” says Wallin.

Yet Carey thinks that so long as the Democrats continue organizing with the same intensity they’ve shown so far, they can turn the district blue. “We have a lot of folks who said they never paid attention before, a lot of no-party-preference people who are really concerned about democracy,” she says. When asked whether people in the district continue to be engaged, she responds, “So far I think the energy is staying. I tell people, ‘This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.’ But I think as long as Trump keeps tweeting, we’ll keep having interest!”

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Democrats Are Setting Their Sights on "Putin’s Favorite Congressman"

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Let’s Cut the Crap About Why Hillary Clinton Lost

Mother Jones

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The latest thing for the caterwauling classes to caterwaul about is Hillary Clinton’s recent interview with ReCode. Basically, she said that the big reasons she lost the election were Russia, the Comey letter, and the media’s infatuation with her email server. Everyone is outraged that she refuses to admit that she herself made gigantic mistakes that led to her loss.

Bah. Let’s run the tape:

Hillary Clinton was running for a third Democratic term with an OK but not great economy. Most models predicted a roughly 50-50 race.
In the end, despite everything, she still outperformed the models and won the popular vote by 2 percent.
The Comey letter cost her 2-3 percent, and the other stuff probably cost her another couple of points. Without those things, she wins in a landslide and cruises into the White House.

So she’s right. I guess everyone wants her to be the captain going down with her ship, but that’s stupid. She accurately described why she lost. Why shouldn’t she?

But still, what about all the stuff she screwed up? There wasn’t that much, really, but sure, there are a few things:

The Goldman Sachs speeches were dumb.
The private email server was dumb.
The “deplorables” comment was dumb

But look: no candidate is perfect and every campaign has stuff like that. It comes with the territory. And despite all that, Clinton had a comfortable 7-point lead by the end of September. Those things couldn’t have been the reason for her loss since they were all well known by then. After that, she crushed Trump in all three debates and was all set to win.

So why didn’t she? The answer is pretty simple: despite running a pretty good campaign, she got walloped by things that decidedly don’t come with the territory: Russian interference via the WikiLeaks drip; an indefensible letter released by the FBI director; and a press corps that treated the Comey letter like the OJ trial. She got slammed late in the game, and had no time to recover.

That’s just what happened. Denying that reality because we like losers to wear hair shirts is dumb.

Now, there is one thing I’m still curious about: did her data analytics team blow it in the (now) infamous states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania? In most recent campaigns, there’s at least one embedded reporter who promises to embargo everything until after the election, and then gives us the inside dope when it’s all over. But I guess Clinton didn’t allow that, so we don’t really have an inside view. Supposedly, though, internal polling is far more accurate than the stuff we plebs see, and it should have alerted her that something was going on in her firewall states.

Did the analytics fail? Or did they work just fine, but she ignored them? To this day, does anyone know?

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Let’s Cut the Crap About Why Hillary Clinton Lost

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Hillary Clinton Is Out of Fucks

Mother Jones

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Hillary Clinton appeared at Recode Wednesday in conversation with founders Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, and to steal a headline from myself, she is out of fucks.

It was fascinating to watch. She didn’t hold back. You can watch the full thing below or continue on for some highlights.

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Here are some good bits, courtesy of the recode live blog:

On emails!!!

“The over riding issue that affected the election that I had any control over — because I had no control over the Russians. Too bad about that — was the use of my emails. The way that it was used was very damaging. The New York times covered it like Pearl harbor.

On Goldman Sachs speeches

“I have to say, Walt I never thought someone would throw out my entire career…because I made a couple of speeches…Men got paid for the speeches they made…I got paid for the speeches I made…I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost”

On the vast right-wing conspiracy
“What is hard for people to accept, although now after the election there’s greater understanding, is that there are forces in our country…who have been fighting rear guard actions for as long as I’ve been alive…We were on a real roll as a country despite assassinations, despite setbacks, expanding rights to people who never had them in any country was frankly thrilling. I believe then as I believe now that we’re never done with this work. Part of the challenge is to maintain the focus and energy to move forward but you have to understand the other side is never tired either.”

On fake news
“Fake news…lies that’s a good word too…The other side was using content that was just flat out false and delivering it in a very personalized way. Above the radar screen and below.”

On the DNC

“I inherit nothing from the Democratic party. It was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. I had to inject money into the DNC for it to keep going.”

On the RNC

“They raised…best estimates are close to $100 million…to build this data foundation. They beta tested it. They ran hundreds of thousands of surveys. Trump becomes the nominee and is given this tried and true…platform.”

On Russia collusion
“I think it’s fair to ask how did that actually influence the campaign and how did they know what messages to deliver. Who told them? Who were they coordinating with or colluding with?…The Russians in my opinion could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided by Americans.”

“Within one hour of the Access Hollywood tapes being leaked, the Russians or say Wikileaks—same thing—dumped the John Podesta emails. They were run of the mill emails. “Stuff that were so common. Within one hour they dumped them and then began to weaponize them. They had their allies like Infowars say the most outlandish, absurd lies you could imagine. They had to be ready for that.”

On Putin

“It’s important that Americans…understand that Putin wants to bring us down. He was an old KGB agent.”

On Obama

“Barack Obama saved the economy and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves, I have to say that because people don’t know that.” Clinton re: democrats not investing in creating content.

This post is being updated.

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Hillary Clinton Is Out of Fucks

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The Blue-Slip Rule Is On Its Last Legs

Mother Jones

The Washington Post confirms what we’ve already heard about Senate Republicans doing away with the blue-slip rule:

Leaders are considering a change to the Senate’s “blue slip” practice, which holds that judicial nominations will not proceed unless the nominee’s home-state senators signal their consent to the Senate Judiciary Committee….Removing the blue-slip obstacle would make it much easier for Trump’s choices to be confirmed. Although Trump and Senate Republicans have clashed early in his presidency, they agree on the importance of putting conservatives on the federal bench.

….The Senate acted Thursday on Trump’s first appeals-court nomination, elevating U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar of Kentucky to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

….“Eliminating the blue slip is essentially a move to end cooperation between the executive and legislative branch on judicial nominees, allowing nominees to be hand-picked by right-wing groups,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, wrote in a memo this week. She pointed out that the vacancy for which Thapar is nominated exists only because McConnell refused to return a blue slip for Obama’s nominee, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes. The seat has been vacant since 2013, and Tabor Hughes never received a hearing, because blue slips were not returned.

Christopher Kang, who advised Obama on judicial nominations, said that was the reason 17 of the president’s picks did not receive hearings, killing the nominations. But the impact was even greater than that, because Obama gave up on trying to find nominees in some states, such as Texas, with two Republican senators. One vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, has been open for five years.

Were Republicans snickering in private for six years because Democrats continued to be Boy Scouts during the Obama presidency, respecting the blue-slip rule despite blanket Republican opposition of the kind that Republicans now say will prompt them to kill it? Probably. Was it the right thing to do anyway? I guess I’m still unsure. But it sure doesn’t look like it.

The Brookings table above shows the effect of all this for circuit court vacancies. The absolute numbers aren’t huge, but both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama simply gave up nominating judges in states where there were any Republican senators. They would object as a matter of course and their objections would be honored. George Bush, by contrast, continued nominating judges everywhere. Democratic senators sometimes objected, but not always—and Republicans often ignored their objections anyway when they controlled the Senate.

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The Blue-Slip Rule Is On Its Last Legs

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Trumpcare Still Hasn’t Been Sent to the Senate

Mother Jones

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As we all know, the Republican health care bill can’t survive a Democratic filibuster, so it’s being considered via reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate. That means the bill has to obey reconciliation rules.

Normally, this is not a big problem. If some aspect of the House bill violates the rules, it gets removed in the Senate and life goes on. But what if the bill violates the prime rule of reconciliation—namely that it reduce the deficit? Then it’s dead and everyone has to start all over. This means the House has to be pretty careful that their bill does indeed reduce the deficit.

But how do they know if it reduces the deficit? Easy: the CBO scores the bill and tells them. But Paul Ryan famously rushed passage of the bill in the House before CBO had time to deliver a score, so no one knows for sure if it still reduces the deficit. Bloomberg reports on what this means:

House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects….”I had no idea,” Dennis Ross of Florida, another member of the vote-counting team, said Thursday, adding that the prospect of another vote “does concern me.” GOP leaders never said publicly they were planning to hold on to the bill for two weeks or longer.

In the end, I imagine the bill will get scored as a deficit reduction and then be sent to the Senate. But the fact that Ryan is still holding onto the bill shows that he knew perfectly well how irresponsible it was to force a vote before the CBO delivers a score. In addition to being callous and malignant, the whole thing is also a massive FUBAR.

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Trumpcare Still Hasn’t Been Sent to the Senate

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