Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

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good morning, it's 23 february 2017

So many big problems.

Trump administration poised to change transgender student bathroom guidelines (And then did so, in "Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students"). Reportedly, there were conflicts between Ms. DeVos and Mr. Sessions (strongly for) but frankly I don't believe it, and it doesn't matter anyway.

The emails that the GOP didn't want to come out before the Pruitt vote came out; he "Was Arm in Arm With Industry," as in, let polluting industries write his policy papers and briefs. Basically, his whole career has been PR for serious-business toxin emitters, and that's why they didn't want the letters out.

In a similar "betrayal of everything" theme, the GOP will kill a House measure forcing release of data on Trump's various deep conflicts, in committee.

Another Federal amendment at the state level: a proposal in Florida to disable the Judicial branch by letting Congress override court constitutionality decisions with a 60% supermajority.

4chan/pol had a straw poll: "Is /pol/ for Milo, or Against?" A strong plurality is still fine with Milo, at 46%. If the "don't care" didn't care before (pretty likely), then 2/3rds of those who care about Milo still support Milo. This could be useful.

Washington State GOP release statement: "Exposed: The Democrats’ plan of disruption and intimidation," by which they mean the Indivisible groups specifically.

Other stories:
  • Trump’s America will be on vivid display at annual conservative gathering (CPAC) Relatedly:
  • Facebook gave $120,000 to CPAC, half in cash and half in-kind contributions. That's not cool.
  • Mr. Trump’s ‘Deportation Force’ Prepares an Assault on American Values
  • "We Will Never Stop": An EPA Employee Blasts the Trump Administration
  • Trump’s New Immigration Crackdown Has Private Prison Investors Salivating
  • How Trump’s campaign staffers tried to keep him off Twitter

----- 1 -----
Facebook gave $120,000 to CPAC, half in cash and half in-kind contributions, Daily Beast reports
Xeni Jardin / 7:34 pm Tue Feb 21, 2017

Why exactly is Facebook helping to fund CPAC, to the tune of about $120,000 in cash and in-kind contributions?

Mark Zuckerberg was scorned in 2016 for Facebook's role in the rise of 'fake news' in the presidential campaign. None of that mattered. Facebook is funding the huge conservative conference, at which shock troll Milo Yiannopoulos was to be a featured speaker until some old pedophilia comments of his surfaced this week.

Big scoop by Betsy Woodruff at The Daily Beast:

Sources with direct knowledge of the matter tell The Daily Beast that Facebook made a six-figure contribution to CPAC, the yearly conference for conservative activists which will feature President Donald Trump, White House advisor Steve Bannon, NRA president Wayne LaPierre, and other right-wing favorites.

Facebook’s contribution is worth more than $120,000, according to our sources. Half of that is cash, and the other half is in-kind support for CPAC’s operations. Facebook will have a space at the conference for attendees to film Facebook Live videos, and will also train people on best practices for using the social network and Instagram.

Matt Schlapp—chairman of the American Conservative Union, which funds the gathering—told The Daily Beast his group welcomes Facebook’s participation.

“We are glad Facebook agreed to be at CPAC and to acknowledge the importance of conservatives to their company, and we continue to work with them on issues important to conservatives,” he said.

“Facebook participates in events hosted by organizations across the political spectrum,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “Our presence allows us to facilitate an open dialogue where people can share their views and create content to engage their audiences, just as we did during other political events such as the Republican and Democratic Party conventions. Our involvement is not an endorsement of any particular position or platform.”

----- 2 -----
Trump administration poised to change transgender student bathroom guidelines
By Sandhya Somashekhar, Moriah Balingit and Emma Brown February 21 at 11:19 PM
The Washington Post

The Trump administration plans to roll back protections for transgender students, reversing federal guidance that required the nation’s public schools to allow children to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identities.

In a letter to the nation’s schools, administration officials plan to say they are withdrawing guidance issued by the Obama administration that found that denying transgender students the right to use the bathroom of their choice violates federal prohibitions against sex discrimination, according to a draft of the letter obtained by The Washington Post.

“This interpretation has given rise to significant litigation,” states the two-page draft, which indicates that the Education and Justice departments plan to issue it jointly. The draft says administrators, parents and students have “struggled to understand and apply the statements of policy” in the Obama-era guidance.

As a result, the departments “have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further consider the legal issues involved.” The letter makes clear that schools must protect all students and that the withdrawal of the guidance “does not diminish the protections from bullying and harassment that are available to all students. Schools must ensure that transgender students, like all students, are able to learn in a safe environment.”

A final version of the letter is slated to be issued Wednesday, according to a Republican operative with knowledge of the conversations within the Trump administration on the issue. The administration is expected to release the letter despite objections from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who did not want to rescind the guidance, the operative said. Officials with the Education and Justice departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Tuesday night.

----- 3 -----
‘There’s many Averys’: Transgender KC girl testifies against Missouri bathroom bill
February 21, 2017 6:54 PM
By Allison Pecorin | The Kansas City Star

It’s not just the pink and blue streaks in 9-year-old Avery Jackson’s hair that made her stand out in a Missouri Senate committee meeting — though they certainly helped.

It’s also that, after the Kansas City girl’s recent appearance on the cover of National Geographic Magazine, she’s one of the most recognizable transgender people in the world and a national symbol for transgender rights.

But, she says, she’s no celebrity.

“I’m just a kid,” she told The Star after the hearing, as she stood in the Capitol with her parents and brother. “I’m an Avery, but there’s many Averys.”

Many Averys — many young, transgender students, some of whom appeared Tuesday before the Senate committee. Many Averys who, alongside the Jackson family, testified against a bill that would require students in Missouri public schools to use bathrooms, locker rooms and shower room facilities that align with their biologically assigned sex.

----- 4 -----
How Trump’s campaign staffers tried to keep him off Twitter
The trick? Making sure his media diet included a healthy dose of praise.
By Tara Palmeri | Politico
02/22/17 12:25 PM EST

President Donald Trump’s former campaign staffers claim they cracked the code for tamping down his most inflammatory tweets, and they say the current West Wing staff would do well to take note.

The key to keeping Trump’s Twitter habit under control, according to six former campaign officials, is to ensure that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise. And when no such praise was to be found, staff would turn to friendly outlets to drum some up — and make sure it made its way to Trump’s desk.

"If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable," said former communications director Sam Nunberg. "The same media that our base digests and prefers is going to be the base for his support. I would assume the president would like see positive and preferential treatment from those outlets and that would help the operation overall."

The staff had one advantage as they aimed to manage candidate Trump’s media diet: He rarely reads anything online, instead preferring print newspapers — especially his go-to, The New York Times — and reading material his staff brought to his desk. Indeed, his media consumption habits were on full display during his roller-coaster news conference this past Thursday, when he continually remarked on what the media would write “tomorrow,” even as print outlets’ websites already had posted stories about his remarks.

The White House did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

----- 5 -----
Emails: EPA's Pruitt cozy with fossil fuel industry
Michael Biesecker, Associated Press
Updated 11:23 am, Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — While serving as Oklahoma's attorney general, new Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt was in frequent contact with fossil fuel companies and special interest groups working to undermine federal efforts to curb planet-warming carbon emissions.

This was shown by emails released under court order late Tuesday after an Oklahoma judge ruled that Pruitt had been illegally withholding his official correspondence from the public for the last two years.

The Republican-dominated Senate voted to confirm President Donald Trump's pick to lead EPA on Friday in a largely party-line vote. Democrats had sought to delay the vote until Pruitt's emails were released.

The more than 7,000 emails show Pruitt and his staff coordinating strategy with conservative groups funded by oil and gas companies and executives, including billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.

----- 6 -----
The Pruitt Emails: E.P.A. Chief Was Arm in Arm With Industry
The New York Times
FEB. 22, 2017

WASHINGTON — During his tenure as attorney general of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, now the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups with ties to the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch to roll back environmental regulations, according to over 6,000 pages of emails made public on Wednesday.


“Thank you to your respective bosses and all they are doing to push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states,” said one email sent to Mr. Pruitt and an Oklahoma congressman in August 2013 by Matt Ball, an executive at Americans for Prosperity. That nonprofit group is funded in part by the Kochs, the Kansas business executives who spent much of the last decade combating federal regulations, particularly in the energy sector. “You both work for true champions of freedom and liberty!” the note said.

Mr. Pruitt has been among the most contentious of President Trump’s cabinet nominees. Environmental groups, Democrats in Congress and even current E.P.A. employees have protested his ties to energy companies, his efforts to block and weaken major environmental rules, and his skepticism of the central mission of the federal agency he now leads.


The companies provided him draft letters to send to federal regulators in an attempt to block federal regulations intended to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas wells, ozone air pollution, and chemicals used in fracking, the email correspondence shows.

They held secret meetings to discuss more comprehensive ways to combat the Obama administration’s environmental agenda, and the companies and organizations they funded repeatedly praised Mr. Pruitt and his staff for the assistance he provided in their campaign.


The emails show that his office corresponded with those companies in efforts to weaken federal environmental regulations — the same rules he will now oversee.

“Please find attached a short white paper with some talking points that you might find useful to cut and paste when encouraging States to file comments on the SSM rule,” wrote Roderick Hastie, a lobbyist at Hunton & Williams, a law firm that represents major utilities, including Southern Company, urging Mr. Pruitt’s office to file comments on a proposed E.P.A. rule related to so-called Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction Emissions.

The most frequent correspondence was with Devon Energy, which has aggressively challenged rules proposed by the E.P.A. and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which controls drilling on federal lands — widespread in the west. In the 2014 election cycle, Devon was one of the top contributors to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which Mr. Pruitt led for two years during that period.

In a March 2013 letter to Mr. Pruitt’s office, William Whitsitt, then an executive vice president of Devon, referred to a letter his company had drafted for Mr. Pruitt to deliver, on Oklahoma state stationery, to Obama administration officials. Mr. Pruitt, meeting with White House officials, made the case that the rule, which would rein in planet-warming methane emissions, would be harmful to his state’s economy. His argument was taken directly from Mr. Whitsitt’s draft language.

----- 7 -----
Fight Erupts in Trump Administration Over Transgender Students’ Rights
The New York Times | FEB. 22, 2017

WASHINGTON — A fight over an order that would rescind protections for transgender students in public schools has erupted inside the Trump administration, pitting Attorney General Jeff Sessions against the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos.

Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions. The draft order would reverse the directives put in place last year by the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

Mr. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent. The order must come from the Justice and Education Departments.

Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, these Republicans said, telling Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her objections. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, has agreed to go along. The Justice Department declined to comment on Wednesday.

Though an official order from the administration was expected to be released as early as Wednesday, Mr. Sessions and Ms. DeVos were still disputing the final language.

According to a draft of the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, the Trump administration cites continuing litigation and confusion over the Obama directives as a reason for telling schools to no longer obey them.

----- 8 -----
"Is /pol/ for Milo, or Against?"
Straw poll on 4chan/pol
Poll started 21 February 2017 - idle multiple hours by 22 February 2017
Retrieved 12:26pm Pacific/Cascadian time 22 February 2017
Conducted via - self-selected poll

He's our ally - 46% (420 votes)
He's a gay, hellbound, sodomite - 29% (266 votes)
Don't care - 24% (218 votes)

----- 9 -----
Exposed: The Democrats’ plan of disruption and intimidation
Washington State Republican Party - February 20, 2017

WSRP Chairman Susan Hutchison sent out the following message on Monday February 20:

Democrats are planning an all out effort of mayhem and disruption to undermine the results of the 2016 elections. They’ve put together a training handbook for protestors with detailed instructions to harass and intimidate. They are targeting Republican members of Congress for defeat in 2018.

The WSRP is shining a light on the Democrats’ hypocrisy and we’ve posted their manual on our website. We want you to know what the American people are up against. To view the protesters’ training handbook, click here.

The handbook is deceptively entitled “Indivisible,” but the Democrats’ plan is just the opposite – their modus operandi is dividing the American people. The handbook bears the names of former Democrat congressional staffers, but is clearly the work of hard core agitators who have taken Alinksy’s “Rules for Radicals” to new levels of disruption against the democratic process.

----- 10 -----
Trump’s America will be on vivid display at annual conservative gathering
By David Weigel and Robert Costa February 21 at 9:32 PM
The Washington Post

The conservative movement in America now belongs to President Trump.

Thousands of activists will arrive in Washington this week for an annual gathering that will vividly display how Trump has pushed the Republican Party and the conservative movement toward an “America first” nationalism that has long existed on the fringes.

“Every movement that gets dusty or sclerotic relies on an infusion of energy from the bottom up,” said White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. “It also takes a transformative individual to bring about change.”

Panels scheduled for the four-day conference include how the left does “not support law enforcement”; why the United States can’t have the same security standards as heaven (“a gate, a wall and extreme vetting”); and a discussion of “fair trade” that will put Breitbart editor Joel Pollak and progressive anchor Ed Schultz, who hosts a show on Russian-owned RT, on the same side.

That may sound like a celebration of a young presidency and the ideas that helped him win in November. But the event will also showcase the tension created as these new voices reshape conservative thinking.


And Breitbart, which has been a sponsor of CPAC for years, has more visibility than ever. As Bannon has pointed out to associates, a site that once organized panels titled “The Uninvited” for guests too controversial for CPAC is now shaping the movement’s agenda. The annual Breitbart party, usually held at the outlet’s Washington office, has been upgraded to an exclusive cruise along the Potomac River.


Meanwhile, the libertarian flavor of the conference during the Obama years has faded. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who won the conference’s presidential straw poll three years running, is not coming to CPAC. The immigration debate that once roiled Republicans has largely been settled, in Trump’s favor.

Richard Spencer, the white “identitarian” president of the National Policy Institute, suggested that the movement has gained ground with Trump’s victory. The decision to book Yiannopoulos, said Spencer, “represented a creeping recognition on the part of CPAC” that the alt-right is a force. The alt-right is known for espousing racist, anti-Semitic and sexist views.


“It’s definitely a show,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, a co-founder of GOProud who left the Republican Party in 2015. “It’s a show that is now designed to perpetuate a fight. Donald Trump lives for the fight. He feeds off the fighting. So does, frankly, the Breitbart organization. It’s all about us versus them. It’s not about ideas.”

----- 11 -----
Mr. Trump’s ‘Deportation Force’ Prepares an Assault on American Values
The New York Times | February 21, 2017

The homeland security secretary, John Kelly, issued a remarkable pair of memos on Tuesday. They are the battle plan for the “deportation force” President Trump promised in the campaign.

They are remarkable for how completely they turn sensible immigration policies upside down and backward. For how they seek to make the deportation machinery more extreme and frightening (and expensive), to the detriment of deeply held American values.

A quick flashback: The Obama administration recognized that millions of unauthorized immigrants, especially those with citizen children and strong ties to their communities and this country, deserved a chance to stay and get right with the law. It tried to focus on deporting dangerous criminals, national-security threats and recent border crossers.

Mr. Kelly has swept away those notions. He makes practically every deportable person a deportation priority. He wants everybody, starting with those who have been convicted of any crime, no matter how petty or old. Proportionality, discretion, the idea that some convictions are unjust, the principles behind criminal-justice reform — these concepts do not apply.

The targets now don’t even have to be criminals. They could simply have been accused of a crime (that is, still presumed “innocent”) or have done something that makes an immigration agent believe that they might possibly face charges.

Mr. Kelly included a catchall provision allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers or Border Patrol agents — or local police officers or sheriff’s deputies — to take in anyone they think could be “a risk to public safety or national security.” That is a recipe for policing abuses and racial profiling, a possibility that Mr. Kelly will vastly expand if Congress gives him the huge sums required to hire 10,000 ICE officers and 5,000 Border Patrol agents.

He wants to “surge,” his verb, the hiring of immigration judges and asylum officers. He wants to add processing and detention centers, which surely has the private-prison industry salivating at the profits to come.

He wants to ramp up programs deputizing state and local law enforcement officers as immigration enforcers. He calls them “a highly successful force multiplier,” which is true if you want a dragnet. It’s not true if you want to fight crime effectively and keep communities safe. When every local law enforcement encounter can be a prelude to deportation, unauthorized immigrants will fear and avoid the police. And when state and local officers untrained in immigration law suddenly get to decide who stays and who goes, the risk of injustice is profound.

----- 12 -----
"We Will Never Stop": An EPA Employee Blasts the Trump Administration
“What type of nation are we?"
Eric Holthaus | Mother Jones
Feb. 22, 2017 11:00 AM

As we embark on month two of Donald Trump's presidency, it's hard to imagine a group of federal employees facing more uncertainty than the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency. Industry ally and new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt can be viewed only as an agent of profound change, and he's already faced intense opposition from Senate Democrats and from the staff he inherits.

In recent days, both Bloomberg and the Washington Post have reported that the first moves Trump and Pruitt will make in their overhaul of US environmental policy will be to roll back parts of Barack Obama's climate legacy and the "Waters of the US" rule—a thorn in the side of farmers and ranchers. This comes as no surprise—both of these policies were identified at the top of the administration's "America First Energy Plan" agenda the moment the White House website switched over on inauguration day.


Shortly after the inauguration, a career EPA employee contacted me through a secure chat program and began to express profound concern over the threat now posed to their life's work. What follows is a heartfelt essay that this official—who requested anonymity out of fear of retribution by the administration—wrote shortly after Pruitt's confirmation last week:

----- 13 -----
Trump’s New Immigration Crackdown Has Private Prison Investors Salivating
Lee Fang | The Intercept

Geo Group, one of the largest private prison corporations in the world, hailed President Donald Trump’s newly-announced immigration plans on a call with investors Wednesday and said that even more business could be on the way if a Republican congressional proposal to expand the incarceration of certain immigrants make it into law.

“With the respect to detention services, in support of border security, we would continue to be the largest provider of detention services to the three largest government agencies, that is ICE, the Bureau of Prisons, and the U.S. Marshals Service,” George Zoley, the chief executive of the company, boasted.

“With this increased and expanded approach to border security the first agency that will need additional capacity is ICE,” Zoley said, referring to the administration’s broad immigration orders.

The Trump administration’s announcement on Tuesday that it will end so-called “catch-and-release” policies — effectively requiring longer detention times for certain undocumented immigrants arrested at the border — could bring in new business for the firm. “I believe ICE has been visiting various facilities to expand its capacity,” Zoley noted. Undocumented immigrants arrested in other parts of the country will likely be detained in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities; the firm manages 26 federal prison centers.

----- 14 -----
Florida Legislators Want Congress to "Dismantle" Judicial Branch of Government
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 3:40 p.m.
By Jerry Iannelli | Florida New Times [A weekly alternative paper]
[Here's the bill: ]

The federal government is run by a despotic regime that dictates laws and hands down rulings wholly incongruous with the vision laid out by America's Founding Fathers, say two Florida lawmakers. According to state Sen. Keith Perry — a Republican who represents Alachua, Putnam, and portions of Marion Counties — and Rep. Julio Gonzalez, a Venice Republican, the regime now running the United States constitutes an oligarchy of wealthy elites that "must be dismantled for the sake of our republic and for the continued empowerment of its people."

Who are those tyrants? Try the entire judicial branch of the U.S. government.

In December, Gonzalez filed a resolution in the Florida House, which, if passed, would urge the U.S. Congress to straight-up invalidate the judicial branch. And this morning, Perry filed a companion bill in the state Senate. The pair is asking Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution so that Congress can overturn any judicial decision. Under the crackpot bills, which are identical, Congress could overturn U.S. Supreme Court decisions with a 60 percent vote.


"Florida Legislature respectfully petitions the United States Congress to propose to the states an amendment to the United States Constitution providing that any law, resolution, or other legislative act declared void by the United States Supreme Court or a United States court of appeals may be deemed active and operational, notwithstanding the court’s ruling, if agreed to by Congress pursuant to a joint resolution adopted by a 60 percent vote of each chamber of Congress within 5 years after the date the ruling becomes final," Gonzalez's resolution reads.

----- 15 -----
Report: House measure forcing release of info on Trump conflicts likely to die in committee
By Max Greenwood - 02/22/17 09:44 PM EST
The Hill

A Democrat-backed House resolution that would direct the Justice Department to release information about President Trump’s conflicts of interest and potential ties to Russia is likely to die in committee, Politico reported on Wednesday.

Democratic sources told Politico that Republican lawmakers will send the resolution to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, after returning from their current recess. The panel, which is Republican controlled, will likely reject the measure, avoiding a floor vote that could spell trouble for GOP members.

The “resolution of inquiry” was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) earlier this month, and calls on the Justice Department to hand over to the House all information relevant to an investigation into Trump’s and his associates’ ties to Russia, conflicts of interest and ethical violations.

The resolution could be brought to a full vote by the House if the committee doesn’t act on it, one Judiciary Committee aide told Politico. The aide said that the committee will address it in the coming week.

A roll call vote on Nadler’s resolution would likely be embarrassing for GOP lawmakers, many of whom are under pressure from constituents and politicians on the left to take tougher positions on Trump’s conflicts of interest and potential relationship with Moscow.

----- 16 -----
Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students
The New York Times | FEB. 22, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, overruling his own education secretary and placing his administration firmly in the middle of the culture wars that many Republicans have tried to leave behind.

In a joint letter, the top civil rights officials from the Justice Department and the Education Department rejected the Obama administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

That directive, they said, was improperly and arbitrarily devised, “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

The question of how to address the “bathroom debate,” as it has become known, opened a rift inside the Trump administration, pitting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos against Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Sessions, who had been expected to move quickly to roll back the civil rights expansions put in place under his Democratic predecessors, wanted to act decisively because of two pending court cases that could have upheld the protections and pushed the government into further litigation.

But Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off and told Mr. Trump that she was uncomfortable because of the potential harm that rescinding the protections could cause transgender students, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.

Also posted to ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん; comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Tags: fascism watch, political
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