Monday, July 31, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 7/28/2017

"Shields and Brooks on Reince Priebus' exit, GOP health bill's defeat" PBS NewsHour 7/28/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including President Trump's firing of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and what it means for relations with the Republican Party, the Senate's rejection of a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act and Anthony Scaramucci's obscene tirade.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It's been another head-turning week in Washington, from the Republican failure on health care, to the President's surprising statement on transgender military members, and a flurry of profanity from the new White House communications director and then, to cap it off, today's announcement from Mr. Trump that he is changing his chief of staff.

Here to help make sense of it all, Shields and Brooks.  That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

So, I thought we had a lot of things to talk about, David, before about an hour ago, when we learned that the President was changing his chief of staff.

Is this — I guess we knew that this might happen.  Reince Priebus has been in trouble with this President, we think, for a while, but what do you think?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  Well, he was never given the chance to do the job.

Every other chief of staff we have ever seen sort of controls the schedule.  They control the tempo in the White House.  They're the alter ego of the President.  They are given some clear sign of respect that they speak for the President.

And Priebus never had that.  And so he was wounded and stabbed before Scaramucci came along.  He was stabbed like a piñata.  And so he was sort of a pathetic figure hanging out there.  And so this doesn't come as a total surprise, except for maybe the timing.

As for General Kelly taking the job, I sort of question his sanity there.  He's been a loyalist, but I really — with all due respect to the Marine Corps, I don't see how someone who's been trained in pretty orderly chain of command is going to survive this mess.

If he can control the schedule, it will be one thing.  I just don't think that's going to happen, given all the independent power figures all around him.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  What do you make of it, Priebus out and Kelly in?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  Judy, I am continually amazed that it's not simply a matter of human decency or empathy when your boss is firing anybody to make sure that person leaves and has a soft landing, that they can leave with their self-respect, that they can leave with someplace to go to, with a plausible explanation to their family and friends that they weren't humiliated, abused and derided.

This President treats staff and others like a used sickness bag on a bad airplane flight.  There's just absolutely no sense of respect or decency shown, so you humiliate somebody.

And for those who are left, there is just a sense of, could I be next?  It certainly doesn't inspire loyalty.

As far as Kelly is concerned, General Kelly is a four-star general.  But I think David put his finger on it.  He had a very distinguished and honorable military career.  But he grew up in a military structure.  He thrived up in a military structure.

As a chief of staff at the White House, this is a freelancing operation.  There's no chain of command.  There are all sorts of people who go in and see the President any time, who are not accountable to you or responsible.

And least of all, you have a President who will even — won't abide by any sense of a chain of command or structure.  And I don't know that General Kelly has any particular political gifts or knowledge of the legislative process or dealings with the press.

So I'm not — I know that the President admires him and the job he's done at Homeland Security and his career, but I don't see the fit.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, we should say that Reince Priebus, just in the last few minutes, David, put out a statement saying it's been one of the greatest honors of his life to serve this President.

I guess that's what one expects, maybe.

DAVID BROOKS:  Gracious.  I'm not sure he would pass a lie-detector test.


DAVID BROOKS:  But one of the things that's happening here is that the President is moving away from the Republican Party.

Priebus was a link to the Republican Party.  The congressional Republicans were — had some sort of relationship.  Jeff Sessions was a key to the link between congressional Republicans and Donald Trump, and he's been under assault in the most humiliating way imaginable.

And so you're beginning to see an administration — I don't know what party they're joining, maybe the Bannon party, but it's not the Republican Party.  And if you want to pass legislation, you probably need your allies on Capitol Hill.  If you want to survive investigative committees, you probably want some friends in your party.  And this administration seems to be moving the other direction.
JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, which leads us to another — I mean, David, you said they have had a struggle anything passed, getting legislation passed.  This was a flame-out for them.

DAVID BROOKS:  Yes, this was a bigger thing than Donald Trump, though.

It was only one bill that lost.  It was four bills that lost.  And it wasn’t only a six-months effort.  It was a seven-year effort.


DAVID BROOKS:  And you could say you could go back to Newt Gingrich.

Think of all the ways the Republicans have tried to trim entitlements like Medicaid or cut government.  Name a signal victory.  There’s not a victory.  They haven’t been able to trim one agency, cut back one entitlement.  They failed every single time.

And that suggests isn’t an electoral failure.  It’s not a failure of whether Mitch McConnell had the right strategy or not, though that was lamentable.  It’s a failure of trying to take things away from people.

People are under assault from technology.  They’re under assault from a breakdown in social fabric, breakdown in families.  They have got wage stagnations.  They just don’t want a party to come in and say, we’re going to take more away from you.

And so Republicans have to wrap their minds around the fact that the American people basically decided that health care is a right, and they figure, we should get health care.  And our fellow countrymen should get health care.

It doesn’t mean you have to do it the way the Democrats want to do it with single-payer or whatever.  You can do it with market mechanisms.  But you have basically got to wrap your mind around universal coverage.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  How do you see what happened here, Mark?  And where do you see it going on health care?

MARK SHIELDS:  Judy, the yapping dog, which was the Republican Party, after chasing the bus for seven years, caught it and had no idea what to do with the bus.

All you needed is that final vote that Lisa described so well, and that is the final argument, after seven years, after winning three national elections where that is your organizing issue, we’re going to repeal Obamacare, came down to a single promise and pledge to your fellow Republicans from the leadership, and that is, what you are voting for, we promise will not become law.

I mean, if you can imagine anything, I mean, that just said it all.  I mean, it was a terrible performance.  The House voted on something without even a congressional budget scoring of it.  The Senate voted on something.  They didn’t even have a bill when they brought it to the floor.  There was no legislation.

So, I mean, it was horrendous.  It was disappointing.  There were no ideas.  There was no will.  There was no imagination.  And there was certainly no courage.

I don’t blame Donald Trump, but what was Donald Trump saying?  Donald Trump was saying he’s disappointed in the attorney general because he wasn’t loyal to him.  That was his contribution to the debate on health care as it came to a vote in the Senate.

NEWSHOUR SHARES - Mom Leads Nature Walks

"This mom leads young people on walks in the woods to prevent and heal from tragedy" PBS NewsHour 7/28/2017


SUMMARY:  In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, Boston's inner city often sees a spike in violence during the summer, when many students are out of school and on the streets.  But as special correspondent Tina Martin from PBS station WGBH reports, one mother is trying to change that leading young people into nature.

TRUMP AGENDA - Side Effects of Immigration Policy

"Why your summer getaway is staffed by foreign workers" PBS NewsHour 7/27/2017

Humm.... Remember that tourist town in the 'shark' movie?


SUMMARY:  At the tip of Cape Cod, the iconic summer getaway Provincetown has a small year-round population that swells when the weather gets nice, welcoming an estimated 4 to 5 million tourists every year.  Businesses there depend on foreign workers willing to work just a few months of the year.  But this year, the number of available visas is way down.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

HEALTH CARE - Trumpcare 3.2s Dies on the Operating Table

Are Republicans ever going to go rehab to detox from their anti-Obama addiction.

"Key senators resist Republicans' 'skinny' Obamacare repeal" PBS NewsHour 7/27/2017


SUMMARY:  A long day of Senate debate set up a longer night of voting, when Republicans plan to propose the one health care idea they think could pass; a stripped-down repeal that would abolish the individual and employer mandates, as well as one tax on medical devices, while leaving Medicaid and much of the Affordable Care Act unchanged.  Lisa Desjardins and Sarah Kliff of Vox join Judy Woodruff for more.

TRUMP WHITE HOUSE - Paranoia and Panic

Trump knows deep down he IS hiding something.  And just like Trump, his minions are in it for themselves.

"Why are leaks and infighting plaguing Trump's presidency?" PBS NewsHour 7/27/2017


SUMMARY:  Why are there so many leaks coming out of the White House?  Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union and Karine Jean-Pierre of, join Judy Woodruff to discuss various tensions bubbling on Capitol Hill, from President Trump's public criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the President's call to bar transgender service members from the military.


"American war correspondent details his own love and life in Africa" PBS NewsHour 7/27/2017


SUMMARY:  As a college student, Jeffrey Gettleman traveled to East Africa and fell in love.  He also fell in love that year with a woman back home.  Their time and work apart, and his life and work covering a continent as a Pulitzer prize-winning correspondent for The New York Times, make up the story told in "Love, Africa: A Memoir of War, Romance, and Survival."  Jeffrey Brown sits down with Gettleman.

DIVIDED AMERICA - Trump Supporters

The poor misguided fools.

"What it's like to be a Trump supporter in an ultra-liberal city" PBS NewsHour 7/26/2017


SUMMARY:  What is it like to be a conservative woman trying to find your voice in a city known for its progressive politics?  The NewsHour's Elizabeth Flock wrote an in-depth profile of Trump supporters living in Portland, Oregon, the second half of our series on political divisions in unlikely places.  Flock joins Judy Woodruff to take a closer look.

TRUMP AGENDA - Broken Promises and Backstabbing

"What does Trump's transgender ban mean for active-duty military members?" PBS NewsHour 7/26/2017


SUMMARY:  Word of a significant policy reversal came not from the Pentagon, but from President Trump's Twitter feed, where he announced that transgender people would be banned from the U.S. military.  Socially conservative groups welcomed the decision, but it drew quick condemnation from Democrats and some leading Republicans.  Judy Woodruff learns more from William Brangham.

"Trump signals he might pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.  What's at stake?" PBS NewsHour 7/26/2017


SUMMARY:  Two years since the Iran nuclear agreement was signed, President Trump may be on the way to pulling the U.S. out of the deal.  The President indicated in an interview he's willing to overrule the State Department and not certify Iran's compliance.  John Yang talks to Robert Malley, a former White House negotiator for the Iran nuclear talks, and Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION - Jeff Sessions & Russia Investigation

Reminder:  In Trump World he does not have to follow laws or rules, and all must bow-down and be loyal (aka never criticize, never disagree).

Also, Trump and Republicans are still living in 2016 and fixated on Hillary Clinton.  As if they didn't win. 😒

"Under attack from the President, Attorney General Sessions still advancing conservative agenda" PBS NewsHour 7/25/2017


SUMMARY:  President Trump's escalating criticism of Jeff Sessions over his rescual from the Russia investigation has exposed a rare public rift between a President and his attorney general, leading some to believe that Sessions may be forced out.  How did we get here, and how are fellow Republicans responding?  John Yang and Sari Horwitz of The Washington Post join Jeffery Brown to discuss.

"Schiff: Trump 'wants to appoint a more malleable attorney general' for Russia investigation" PBS NewsHour 7/25/2017


SUMMARY:  Jared Kushner faced another round of questions about his contacts with Russian officials during and after the Trump campaign.  William Brangham speaks with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) one of the lawmakers who questioned Kushner in the closed session, about whether Kushner's answers were satisfactory and the possibility of Attorney General Jeff Sessions being forced to resign.

"Rep. Stewart: Kushner testimony 'didn't have much to add' to Russia story" PBS NewsHour 7/25/2017


SUMMARY:  President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner met privately with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, answering more questions on Capitol Hill about his interactions with Russian officials during the campaign and beyond.  William Brangham speaks with Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) a member of the committee, about what questions he had going into the meeting with Kushner.

NEWSHOUR SHARES - Seattle's Seawall

"Seattle's new seawall built to make life easier for fish" PBS NewsHour 7/25/2017


SUMMARY:  In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, Seattle's seawall was like most others for 80 years, a flat, concrete slab that held back the sea.  But a $400 million infrastructure project has turned Seattle's new seawall into a really big science experiment to see whether cities can better coexist with fish.

HUMAN SMUGGLING - Death on Our Highways

The really sad thing about this incident is Trump's Wall will not stop this.

"Death of migrants in Texas shows dangers of human smuggling" PBS NewsHour 7/24/2017


SUMMARY:  Dozens of people were found packed into a sweltering tractor trailer in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, an attempt at human smuggling that left at least 10 dead and nearly 20 others hospitalized.  Survivors said there was no air conditioning and described taking turns to breath through a hole.  John Yang learns more about this case and immigration politics from Jason Buch of San Antonio Express News.

MUSLIMS - Persecution Elsewhere

"Myanmar's Rohingya stuck in limbo between persecution and relocation" PBS NewsHour 7/24/2017


SUMMARY:  The Rohingya people, an ethnic Muslim minority group, have fled murder and persecution by the army of Myanmar to seek refuge in camps in
Southern Bangladesh, but their arrival has been less than welcome.  Special correspondent Tania Rashid reports.

Friday, July 28, 2017

HUMOR TIMES - Snapshot 7/28/2017

Trump Views the World

Trumpcare Prospects

Trump Administration

The True Native American View

Monday, July 24, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 7/21/2017

"Shields and Brooks on Spicer stepping down, GOP health care bill fumble" PBS NewsHour 7/21/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the week's news, including Republicans' failure to pass a health care reform bill, President Trump expressing his anger at Jeff Sessions to The New York Times, the abrupt resignation of former White Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and a cancer diagnosis for Sen. John McCain.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  But, first, the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

It's good.  It looks like you're paying attention.


MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  Yes, Hari.


So, let's start with health care.  This week, we started with repeal and replace.  And then it went to repeal now, replace later.  Neither of those seem to be going anywhere.

MARK SHIELDS:  The Republicans' health care plan had three problems.  It wasn't healthy, it wasn't caring, and there was no plan.


MARK SHIELDS:  It was just that simple.

I mean, you can't get people to vote for something when they don't know.   (A) what it is, there's no public case for it, but, beyond that, it just — the conservatives, led by Rand Paul, objected that it didn't root out and repeal Obamacare.  That was correct.

And the moderates, embodied by Susan Collins, who we just saw in the previous piece, objected that it was going to hurt, unnecessarily and gratuitously, millions of Americans who are needy and depend on Medicaid.  True.

So, the two were almost irreconcilable.  And I think they can't figure out now how to leave the field without embarrassment.  Ideally, if you're a Republican, you do not want to vote on this.  You do not want to vote Tuesday, because it's going to be used against you.

It is incredibly unpopular.  It's got 16 percent support in the country.  There is not one person of the 213 in Republican — in the House of Representatives voted against it who regrets having voted against it.

And there are scores of House members in the 217 who voted for it who are nervous that they voted for it.  So, that's where it is.

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  Yes, I don't think it's dead.

I think, from what I hear, they're leaning on Mike Lee, the senator who has been a no vote who is the decisive no vote, to change his mind, to buy him out with something and offer him something.  And then they figure, once they get him on board, there are probably another Republican 15 senators who would like to vote no, but they don't want to be the one person who kills it.

And so the feeling, if you can get Mike Lee, you can get some of the others.  And they might pass it.  I wouldn't say it's likely, but I think — I just think it's too early to say it's dead now.

The second thing to say is, Mitch McConnell has two parts of his job.  The one is to create a process where reasonable legislation gets promoted.  And the second is to whip for that legislation.

I think he did an abysmal job on one job and a pretty good job on job two.  As Mark said, you have got a plan with 16 percent approval.  Nobody in the Senate likes it, including the Republicans.  They all hate having to vote for it.  And he still got 48 votes.  That's kind of impressive.

But the underlying problem is, you have a chance to change, to reform health care.  There are a lot of conservative ideas to reform health care.  And it would solve some problems.  You could pick some things that a lot of people would like.  You could have catastrophic coverage for the 20-odd million people that are still uninsured after Obamacare.

You could do a lot of — offer a lot of things to a lot of people and do it in a conservative way.  But that's not what this Republican Party does.  They just say, we want to cut Medicaid.

And they're unwilling to talk about anything positive, though there are some things in the bill.  It's just, what can we take away from you?  And what can we take away from the poor and the needy and the children?

And it's a publicity and a substantive disaster area that they're just trying to live with.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  What about the President's role in this?

MARK SHIELDS:  The President's role in it is mercurial.

He said let Obama founder and burn.  Then the next day, he says no, within 24 hours to the Republican senators, you have got to come up with a plan.  He knows nothing about the specifics.  He knows nothing about the substance.  He's made no public case for it.

I don't — I think David makes a very compelling point.  I would just say this, that Mitch McConnell had a reputation as this master strategist.  And what Mitch McConnell's greatest accomplishment as leader has been is that he denied a hearing to one of the sixth most qualified nominees to the Supreme Court in the last century.  That's it.

There's a big difference between obstruction and construction and putting together a coalition.  And it's a lot easier to get people to vote against something than it is to vote for something and to take a chance.

And when you're denied the individual mandate, that is you let healthy young people not pay anything, you leave as a pool of people for insurance who are older and sicker.  Therefore, it's going to be more expensive.

I mean, you know, this isn't rocket scientists, in spite of the President saying it's a lot more complicated than it is.

DAVID BROOKS:  I thought something important happened with the Republican views with the president.

They were having all these meetings in the White House.  And, apparently, they'd have these substantive meetings with Mike Pence or with somebody else, with staff.  And they would talk through things.  They would try to make some progress.

And then the President would dip in and do something, say something extremely stupid, extremely ill-informed.  And then they would all groan and live through it and wish he would leave.  And then he would go.

And so that could be a change in psychology.  Everybody in the Senate has problems with the President.  But if you begin to have, oh, he's just the 'crazy uncle,' like an attitude of contempt, then relationships between the Republicans on the Hill and the White House really do begin to change.

It's not some guy, oh, he has some political magic.  It's some guy who really just is annoying and gets in the way.

NEWSHOUR'S IMHO - Talking to Your Kids About Mary Jane

"What a scientist suggests you tell your kids about legal marijuana" PBS NewsHour 7/21/2017


SUMMARY:  With marijuana legal in some form in 26 states and the District of Columbia, the old script for talking to your children about pot is changing.  Behavioral scientist Elizabeth D'Amico, who has researched drug and alcohol use among teens for more than 20 years, giver her humble opinion about what kids need to know.

POLITICS - Our Broken Congress

"The great struggle of getting anything done when partisanship reigns" PBS NewsHour 7/21/2017

SUGGESTION:  The leadership of each party, in each branch of Congress (Senate and House), walk out the National Mall and and play Russian Roulette with a revolver with 2 bullets.  The survivors win and get to have their agenda. 😉


SUMMARY:  Congress these days has an obvious theme, more blame than legislation.  Congressional Republicans have taken a sharply partisan route in their health care reform efforts, with multiple failed and contentious attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  How did we end up with such an extreme partisan divide?  Lisa Desjardins looks back.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION - Rats Abandon 'King Rat'

"Resignations add to turmoil as Trump legal team weighs options" PBS NewsHour 7/21/2017


SUMMARY:  It was a tumultuous day at the White House, with major personnel shakeups involving the public faces of the Trump presidency.  The resignations of Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and the spokesman for the president's legal team, came amid reports that Trump lawyers are hunting possible conflicts of interest by Robert Mueller.  Hari Sreenivasan talks to Rosalind Helderman of The Washington Post.

POLICING IN AMERICA - 5 Days, Summer of 1967

"How the 1967 riots reshaped Detroit, and the rebuilding that still needs to be done" PBS NewsHour 7/21/2017


SUMMARY:  In the summer of 1967, the simmering unrest in cities across America exploded.  In Detroit [riot], tensions between the police and the African-American community reached their limit, unleashing five days of full-out violence -- riots or a rebellion, depending on whom you ask.  Fifty years later, special correspondent Soledad O'Brien reports on what sparked it all and the scars that remain today.

BRIEF BUT SPECTACULAR - Looking at an American Traitor and an International Spy

"What it's like to turn the camera on Snowden and Assange" PBS NewsHour 7/20/2017


SUMMARY:  Who people tell you they are is often different from how they act, says award-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, whose latest film, "Risk," looks at WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.  By observing subjects like Edward Snowden make decisions in real time, she gets to experience the immediate drama of her story and change her opinion.  Poitras gives her Brief but Spectacular take on making documentaries.

POLITICS - Hack the Vote Trauma?

"How Russia hacked American faith in the democratic process" PBS NewsHour 7/20/2017


SUMMARY:  What did the Russian government really do to the American voting process and confidence in its efforts to meddle with the 2016 election?  A new cover story for TIME magazine takes a deep dive into the lengths at which the Obama administration and cybersecurity officials tried to protect the U.S. election system.  Judy Woodruff takes a closer look with its author, Massimo Calabresi of TIME.

MAKING SEN$E - Machine Overlords?

aka Is Matrix in Our Future?

"Will we be wiped out by machine overlords? Maybe we need a game plan now" PBS NewsHour 7/20/2017


SUMMARY:  Tech luminaries and scientists have been worried for years about the existential consequences of artificial intelligence for the human race.  Philosopher Nick Bostrom of Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute thinks money ought to be invested in how to manage machine superintelligence that could one day surpass us -- or even wipe us out.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.

THE LEADING EDGE - Electric Cars and Consumers

"Are consumers ready to hit the gas on electric cars?" PBS NewsHour 7/19/2017


SUMMARY:  Electric cars have a reputation for being a pricey, niche product that only a handful of people would want or could afford.  But that reputation is starting to crumble as carmakers promise to put electric vehicles in reach for more consumers.  Sonari Glinton of NPR joins William Brangham to discuss the realities of the market, and how Tesla's cheaper electric car could shape the industry's future.

TRUMP AGENDA - His Black Government

Humm..... Putin needed to give Trump his marching orders in private?! 🤔

"Why Trump and Putin's undisclosed conversation is noteworthy" PBS NewsHour 7/19/2017


SUMMARY:  After President Trump sat down with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 7 for a highly anticipated meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, he met with Putin a second time for a lengthy meeting, that was unattended by advisors and previously undisclosed.  Nick Schifrin reports.

TRUMP AGENDA - Pushing a Lie, Voter Fraud

"How state election officials see Trump's voter fraud probe" PBS NewsHour 7/19/2017


SUMMARY:  President Trump's claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election is unsubstantiated, but his Commission on Election Integrity is still charged with investigating the matter.  What do state officials who actually run elections think?  William Brangham talks to Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan.

ARTS - Sun's Rise and Fall

"Artist puts time in perspective by painting sun's rise and fall" PBS NewsHour 7/18/2017


SUMMARY:  The sun will rise in the morning, no matter what happens.  That idea was the inspiration for Swiss artist Nicolas Party, who painted a new mural directly onto the walls of the Hirshhorn Museum for his exhibit "Sunrise, Sunset."

EAST AFRICA - Famine Risk

COMMENT:  In the past, East African rivers and water tables were replenish every year during the 'rainy season' that was the result of the water ladened African easterly jet stream from the South Pole.  The jet stream flowed north over Eastern Africa land and up to India where the Monsoons occurred.  But with climate change, the jet stream shifted east over water, resulting in years of no East Africa rainy season (rivers dry all year, water tables for wells dried up).

"Drought and famine threaten life for nomadic Somali herders" PBS NewsHour 7/18/2017


SUMMARY:  Many regions in East Africa are at risk of famine for the third time in 25 years.  Twenty million people in the war-torn countries of Yemen, South Sudan, and Somalia, as well as drought-stricken neighbors like Ethiopia are at risk.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, on the crisis and relief efforts.

REPUBLICAN AGENDA - Update on Trumpcare 2.1

"The sticking points keeping the GOP health care bill in limbo" PBS NewsHour 7/17/2017


SUMMARY:  The vote on the Senate Republican health care bill has been delayed, but the behind-the-scenes battle continues.  What key questions could help decide the bill's fate?  Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania and Avik Roy of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity join Judy Woodruff to debate different aspects of the proposed legislation.

"McConnell aims for full Obamacare repeal after replacement bill withers" PBS NewsHour 7/18/2017

COMMENT:  Lets see, the Republicans, since before the election of President Obama had the opportunity to come up with their version of a health car plan.....and did NOT.  Now we are to trust they can come up with a health care plan AFTER taking health care away from 10s of thousands of Americans.  Really?! 🤔 Snake oil salesman comes to mind.

Also, it's DOA.


SUMMARY:  With the latest push by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act coming to an anticlimactic end, party leaders have shifted their focus to simply focus on “repeal.”  Sen. Mitch McConnell proposed delaying the effective date of repeal for two years, while Democrats flexed their opposition.  Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest.

"Where Bernie Sanders sees bipartisan middle ground on health care" PBS NewsHour 7/18/2017

IMHO:  Sorry Bernie, but Republicans are too addicted to anti-ACA (aka anti-Obama) agenda to even recognize a compromise.  They are just like an opioid junkie and cannot stop.


SUMMARY:  Will Democrats have a seat at the table now that the Republican push on health care has collapsed?  Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), joins Judy Woodruff to discuss what went wrong and the possible path ahead on health care reform.

TRUMP AGENDA - The 'Made in America' Lie

I hope by now you know that 'rules' do not apply to Trump, according to him.

"Ivanka Trump products are not made in America" PBS NewsHour 7/17/2017


SUMMARY:  It's "Made in America" week at the White House, but President Trump's effort to highlight U.S. manufacturing has sparked questions about where Trump family products are produced.  In fact, merchandise sold by the Trump Organization or sold through Ivanka Trump's fashion line is all made overseas.  John Yang learns more from Matea Gold of The Washington Post.

DoD - Bad Contracting Again

This is an ongoing issue in Department of Defense contracting.  Ignoring issues in a rush to get funding.

"The government is paying billions to shipbuilders with histories of safety lapses" PBS NewsHour 7/17/2017


SUMMARY:  The U.S. shipbuilding industry continues to win billions of dollars in contracts to build Navy and Coast Guard vessels, despite serious safety lapses that have endangered and killed workers.  From Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting, special correspondent Aubrey Aden-Buie reports.

Monday, July 17, 2017

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 7/14/2017

"Shields and Brooks on fallout from Donald Trump Jr.'s emails, GOP health care reform" PBS NewsHour 7/14/2017


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including President Donald Trump's trip abroad, fallout over a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, and the latest version of a GOP Senate health care bill.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  But first to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

So, Mark, welcome back.

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:  Thank you, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  We missed you last week.

The Donald Trump Jr. story.  We have now learned that he had a meeting a year ago, Trump Tower, with a lawyer who had some connection to the Russian government.  How does this change our understanding of the Russia collusion allegation?

MARK SHIELDS:  Well, I think it's fair to say, Judy, that the White House lost any benefit of the doubt that it could claim on this story.

The shoes continue to drop, like it's a Zappos warehouse or Imelda Marcos' closet.  I mean, it just — each time, they're amending their story, they're appending or extending their story.

And so I just think the fact that there were such denials and accusations of a Democratic plot, all of those are gone, and they stand naked and they stand exposed as shams.

I mean, they were actively engaged, at least welcoming Russian involvement in the 2016 election, in behalf of Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  David, does this change your assessment of what may have been going on?

DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times:  Yes.

My colleague Ross Douthat wrote that any time you give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt, he always lets you down.


DAVID BROOKS:  And that's true.  That's true for his business clients and it's true for those of us who thought, they couldn't have been some stupid, to walk right into collusion with the Russian meetings.

And yet they were not only that stupid, but I think what is striking to me is the complete amorality of it, that Donald Trump Jr. gets an e-mail saying the Russian government is offering you this, and he says, “I love it.”

And it reminded me so much of some of the e-mails that came out of the Jack Abramoff scandal, that came out of the financial crisis scandal, where they're just — they're like frat boys who are gleefully going against the law and are going against all morality.  And they're not even overcoming any scruples to do this.

They're just having fun with it.  And then, in the days since, we have had on — Donald Jr. on Sean Hannity's show, again, I did nothing wrong, just incapable of seeing that there might have been something wrong about colluding with a foreign power who is hostile with you.

And then Donald Trump himself saying, he's a wonderful guy, again, not seeing anything wrong, and then even last day lying about how many people were in the meeting, a completely inconsequential lie.

And so we're trapped in the zone just beyond any ethical scruple, where it's all about winning.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Beyond any ethical scruple, Mark, is that where we are?

MARK SHIELDS:  Yes, I think it's fair to say that Donald Trump was born without the embarrassment gene or the moral reservation gene.

He just — he doesn't — when he says that most people would take that meeting, Judy, I mean, this is not — I have been around for a while, and been to the Dallas Fair twice, and all the rest of it.  People wouldn't do that.

In 2000, Al Gore's campaign got ahold of, was delivered George Bush's briefing book.  They turned it over to the FBI.  That's what you do when you're honorable in politics.

This isn't a meeting with a foreign power.  This isn't Canada or the Swiss Family Robinson.  This is Russia.  This is a country that has supported, propped up the worst of anti-democratic regimes in the Middle East, that has practiced — mistreated its own press, mistreated its own civil society, and economic intimidation of its neighbors, including invasion of its neighbors.

I mean, this is the one country on the face of the earth with the capacity to obliterate the United States.  This is serious stuff.  And to do it so casually and, as David said, without moral reservation, is — I guess it should be stunning, but, sadly, it isn't.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But some of the Trump team, David, in their response to this are sounding almost offended that people would even think that they were doing something wrong.

DAVID BROOKS:  Yes, well, they just don't — they don't get it.

My pal Mike Gerson had a good line in his column today.  If you make losing a sin, you make cheating a sacrament.  And that is true.  If it's all win-loss, then you do whatever you can to win and to make money and to beat the deal.

And so I do think you have entered the zone where they don't quite see what they have done wrong.  But cheating with a foreign company — country is — as Mark keeps saying, is a grave sin.

And then there's just the scandal management of it, of letting it drip out, letting it drip out today and today and today.  And then there is almost just a cluelessness like a color blindness about how the rest of the world is going to go react to this.

And this has been a leitmotif for the Trump administration.

ARTS - World's Jazz Capital

"Why Copenhagen is becoming the jazz capital of the world" PBS NewsHour 7/14/2017


SUMMARY:  The Copenhagen Jazz Festival ends this weekend in Denmark's capital.  The organizers claim it's the world's biggest such event.  Some musicians from the U.S. express envy that this quintessential American genre now thrives abroad, thanks to Danish government investment.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports on why the city's jazz is attracting international attention.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The Copenhagen Jazz Festival ends this weekend in Denmark’s capital.  The organizers claim it’s the world’s biggest such event, and that Denmark has now become the epicenter of global jazz.

Some of the American musicians there express envy that this quintessential American music now thrives abroad, thanks to Danish government investment.

Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant is based in Copenhagen and he brings us all that Danish jazz.

MALCOLM BRABANT, special correspondent:  The streets and squares are alive to the sound of improvisation, as the city stages 1,400 concerts in 10 days, leading to claims that Copenhagen is now the jazz capital of the world.

NEWSHOUR'S IMHO - School Choice

"Why school choice should be about possibility — not partisanship" PBS NewsHour 7/14/2017


SUMMARY:  Journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon's mother — a union Democrat who worked at the phone company during the day and sold Tupperware at night — lied about her address so Lemmon could attend a better elementary school.  Lemmon talks about her own experience with school choice and why she now sees it not as an "issue,” but as a matter of life and death.

ETHICS - Political Opposition Research

IMHO:  Political opposition research has been around for centuries but crosses the line when fabricated of lies or out-of-context information.  But especially if the information comes from ANY foreign government.

"The ethical dos and don'ts of opposition research" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2017


SUMMARY:  Donald Trump Jr. and his father, President Trump, have defended the decision to meet with a Russian government lawyer to potentially discuss information about Hillary Clinton as standard opposition research.  Judy Woodruff speaks with Tim Miller a former Jeb Bush campaign official, and Christina Reynolds a former Hillary Clinton campaign official, discuss what goes into good opposition research.

WALL STREET - The Dark Side

Only at the end do you realize the power of the Dark Side.” - Star Wars

"The world of finance has a dark side, but that's only half the story" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2017


SUMMARY:  You could say that the field of finance has an image problem, with both fictional and real-life figures projecting greed and other less-than-likeable attributes.  That's why Mihir Desai has written a book, "The Wisdom of Finance," to balance the picture and appeal to those in the field to get back to the core ideas.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports.


"Elephant out for a swim gets emergency rescue at sea" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2017


SUMMARY:  In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, Navy teams around the globe are often called in to assist in rescue efforts.  But this week, one maritime mission in the Indian Ocean helped a unique creature in need.


"How are Trump Jr. revelations resonating politically?" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2017


SUMMARY:  How are Americans on both sides of the aisle reacting to revelations about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer?  Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union and Karine Jean-Pierre of join Judy Woodruff to discuss how the developments are shaping what lawmakers and voters think.

"Trump legal team distances president from son's meeting with Russian lawyer" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2017


SUMMARY:  How do the bombshell revelations in Donald Trump Jr.'s emails affect the Russia investigation?  That was the big question across Capitol Hill, after it was revealed the President's son tried to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton, provided by the Russian government.  John Yang reports on how lawmakers and others are responding.

"Did Donald Trump Jr. break the law? Two legal experts weigh in" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2017


SUMMARY:  Donald Trump Jr.'s release of his Russia-related email exchange reignited a legal debate about whether members of the Trump campaign engaged in unlawful activity.  Former White House Counsel Bob Bauer and Jed Shugerman of Fordham Law School join Judy Woodruff to offer different perspectives on the legal questions surrounding the controversy.

TRUMP AGENDA - Promoting Student Loan Sharks

"Betsy DeVos hits reset on new student loan consumer protections" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2017

aka "Putting the Foxes in Charge of the Hen House"


SUMMARY:  The Trump administration has held up the implementation of Obama-era rules that would have allowed student borrowers to have their debt erased if they had been victims of fraud by for-profit schools.  Now 18 states and the District of Columbia have responded with a lawsuit challenging the Education Department.  Jeffrey Brown learns more from Anya Kamenetz of NPR.

HEALTH CARE - Virginia

"What Virginia's poorest citizens want from health care reform" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2017

and they are NOT going to get from Trumpcare.


SUMMARY:  As Republicans on Capitol Hill try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, we visit patients and health care providers at a free clinic in rural southwest Virginia -- a region that strongly supported President Trump, in a state that did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act -- to listen to the extreme health care challenges they face and what they think should be done.

"Deep in coal country, West Virginia patients speak out about GOP health bill" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2017


SUMMARY:  As Republicans on Capitol Hill try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, we visit patients and health care providers at a health center in Mingo County, West Virginia -- a region that strongly supported President Trump, in a state that has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic -- to listen to the health care challenges they face and how the expansion of Medicaid has benefited them.

INSIDE PUTIN'S RUSSIA - The Putin Definition

aka "Spin Politics of an Autocratic" a model for Trump

"Pride, patriotism and how Putin helped redefine what it means to be a 'true Russian'" PBS NewsHour 7/10/2017


SUMMARY:  The new Russian identity is a combination of religion, old Russian traditions and rediscovered patriotism.  It helps explain how today's Russians think, how President Putin acts and why he remains popular.  As part of our week-long series Inside Putin's Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

"Inside Russia's propaganda machine" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2017


SUMMARY:  For years, the Kremlin and the media it controls have waged a multifaceted information (and disinformation) campaign inside Russia and pointed at its perceived adversaries, including the U.S.  As part of our week-long series Inside Putin's Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report on the information wars, in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

"Why are so many from this Russian republic fighting for ISIS?" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2017


SUMMARY:  In the republic of Dagestan, a brutal separatist insurgency has long fought against the Russian state.  Now, as many as 5,000 Dagestanis have left to fight for the Islamic State.  Why have so many answered the call?  As part of our week-long series Inside Putin's Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report, in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

"The deadly risk of standing up to Putin" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2017


SUMMARY:  What can happen to you if you oppose the Kremlin?  There is a high mortality rate among prominent critics of the Russian government, which some say is emblematic of how President Vladimir Putin runs the country.  As part of our week-long series Inside Putin's Russia, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

"What Russians think about Trump and the U.S." PBS NewsHour 7/14/2017


SUMMARY:  There may be no more consequential relationship for the U.S. than with Russia.  As part of our week-long series “Inside Putin's Russia,” special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report in collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting on how Russians perceive the U.S. and how the relationship between the two world powers has evolved under Trump.


"Americans want to hear Democrats talk about values, not divisions, says Rep. Bustos" PBS NewsHour 7/10/2017


SUMMARY:  In the first of a series of conversations centered on the future of the Democratic party, Judy Woodruff speaks with Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill) about what Democrats need to be doing and saying to rebuild.

"The challenge for Democrats in search of a unified message" PBS NewsHour 7/10/2017


SUMMARY:  Out of power in the House, Senate and White House, what can the Democrats do to gain seats in 2018 and 2020?  Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR join Judy Woodruff to discuss the future of the Democratic party, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ health care rally in Kentucky, and Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June 2016.

AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:  And this goes to the challenge, Judy, which is, when you’re a party that has been successful, as Republicans were successful in the last few years, by being basically the party of no, right, they were against everything that Democrats and President Obama stood for, that was successful to get them a governing — or a political majority, but not a governing majority.


"As Media Focuses on Russia Collusion, Trump Is Quietly Stacking the Labor Board with Union Busters" by Michael Arria, In These Times 7/14/2017

It might not get as much press coverage as other Donald Trump administration calamities, but the U.S. President is set to appoint a known union buster to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), push the body to a Republican majority and reverse Obama-era protections that rankle Big Business.

On July 13, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held hearings on Trump's two NLRB selections and his deputy labor secretary pick.  All three of these men are expected to be confirmed.

William Emanuel, one of Trump's NLRB appointees, is a management-side attorney and a member of the conservative Federalist Society.  He is also a shareholder of Littler Mendelson, an infamous union busting firm that was most recently brought in by Long Island beer distributor Clare Rose to negotiate a contract full of pay cuts.

After being selected, Emanuel disclosed 49 former clients and declared he would recuse himself for up to a year if any of the companies found themselves in front of the NLRB.  The list included multiple businesses that have clashed with the labor board, including JPMorgan Chase Bank, MasTec Inc, Nissan, and Uber.

Uber's ongoing skirmishes with the NLRB have, perhaps, been the most publicized.  At the end of 2016, the ride-share company battled with the NLRB after the agency sent out subpoenas aimed at gleaning information about whether Uber drivers were statutory employees.

In 2016, Emanuel authored an amicus brief that defended class-action waivers in employment contracts.  Workers often depend on class actions to fight sexual and racial discrimination, and their existence is an important part of upholding wage laws.  The NLRB ruled that such waivers were illegal under Obama. 

Emanuel was asked about Littler Mendelson's anti-union work by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.  “You have spent your career at one of the country's most ruthless, union-busting law firms in the country,” she said.  “How can Americans trust you will protect workers' rights when you've spent 40 years fighting against them?”

In response, Emanuel claimed that he would be objective whenever making decisions for the agency.

Emanuel is not the only appointee raising concern among workers' rights advocates.  Marvin Kaplan, another Trump nominee to the NLRB, is a public-sector attorney and current counsel to the commissioner for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.  The Kaplan pick excites business executives and their advocates, who envisioned him helping overturn Obama-era labor regulations.

At the time of the announcement, Kristen Swearingen, chair of the anti-union group Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, declared that “Marvin Kaplan will begin to restore balance to an agency whose recent and radical decisions and disregard for long standing precedent have injected uncertainty into labor relations to the detriment of employees, employers and the economy.”

The excitement is well-founded.  Kaplan served as counsel for Republicans on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  The New York Times reports, “The committee held hearings during his tenure scrutinizing prominent NLRB actions in which the witnesses skewed toward business representatives and other skeptics.”  Kaplan also helped develop the The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, legislation that would kill a labor board rule that shortened the amount of time between when the board authorizes a workplace unionization vote and when the vote actually takes place.  Since 2014, the number has been set at 11 days.  But this act would increase it to at least 35, thus allowing more time for union efforts to be squashed.  The legislation hasn't passed in congress yet.

Concerns do not stop at the NLRB.  Trump's Labor Department nominee is Patrick Pizzella, a Federal Labor Relations Authority Member who was grilled by Minnesota Senator Al Franken on his ties to the infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  Pizzella worked with Abramoff during the 1990s to exempt the Northern Mariana Islands from federal labor regulations.

The Senate has only been in session for 10 days since the Pizzella and Kaplan nominations, and only four days since Emanuel's.  A group of civil rights and labor organizations sent the committee a letter asking for the hearings to be postponed.  During her opening remarks, Sen. Patty Murray called Trump's attempt to jam through the nominees without proper oversight “unprecedented.”

Roughly 10 workers representing the pro-labor organization Good Jobs Nation stood up during Thursday's hearing, put blue tape over their mouths and walked out of the room in silent protest.  Groups like Good Jobs Nation are concerned about a pro-business majority in the agency amidst Trump's proposed cuts to the Labor Department.

Trump is putting the NLRB in the position to undo a number of important Obama-era labor decisions.  His NLRB could potentially reverse rulings that made it easier for small groups of workers to unionize, established grad students as employees, put charter school employees under NLRB jurisdiction, and held parent companies jointly liable for with franchise operators who break labor laws.  Writing about the imminent anti-union crackdown on this website in May, Shaun Richman wrote, “Unions and their allies should be convening research teams to plot out a campaign of regulatory and judicial activism.  That work should begin now.”

Early in the hearing, Washington Senator Patty Murray asked Emanuel if he had ever represented a union or a worker.  Emanuel explained that he worked exclusively for management for his entire career.  "You just don't do both,” he told her.  “It's not feasible."

POLITICS - Branding vs Having a Plan

"Naomi Klein: We Need A Plan, Not A Brand" by Kate Aronoff, In These Times 7/10/2017

The author speaks on Corbyn, Trump, climate change, and the “hollow branding” that got us here.

By her own admission, Naomi Klein's books tend to be tomes.  In three several-hundred-page doorstoppers, each comprising a half-decade's worth of research and reporting, she's explored the damage wrought by cynical corporate branding projects (No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies), the way neoliberal strategists exploit crises for profit (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism) and the deep connection between the climate crisis and our economic system (This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate).  When Trump was elected, Klein decided to take a new tack.  Her latest book, "No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need," is a good deal shorter, synthesizing lessons from her work over the last 20 years into a theory of how Donald Trump won and how to fight him.

In These Times sat down with Klein in mid-June to talk Corbyn, Trump, climate change, populism, and the “hollow branding” and shock-therapy economics that got us here.

In These Times: To start on an upbeat note, the U.K. Labor Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, have just pulled off a huge upset—in part by campaigning on what, in the United States, would be considered a far-left platform.  Is there a lesson here for the U.S.?

One of the lessons is that the ideas matter at least as much as the messenger.  The messenger does matter, and having political skill matters.  But being trustworthy matters, and something Corbyn and Bernie Sanders share is they don't have a lifelong history of flip-flopping.  They've had a core set of beliefs for a long time, and they're not slick.  There is something about that un-slickness that is making them trustworthy carriers for these policies.

Once again, we are learning that bold, transformative ideas that really hold up the promise of tangibly improving people's lives can win elections or come damn close.  And so that's exciting, and it's a fearsome responsibility: If the Left can win, that means the Left must win.  That's not a sense of responsibility that I grew up with.  We thought we could never run on a platform like this.  It turns out that it's possible, and that these ideas are wildly popular.  So this is a message for not just establishment Democrats, but for everyone.  Because it also means that we have to figure out why we're not making it all the way.  Let's remember that Labor came close, but they didn't win.

Corbyn's rise, though, is such a repudiation of the takeover of politics by the logic of corporate branding.  That whole process was really kick-started by Tony Blair.  When I was writing "No Logo," although eons ago, it was shocking that Tony Blair talked about Labor as a brand.  They were using this language of rebranding, calling it the “New Labor Party.”  The idea of treating a political party as a brand was new.  And he went on to treat Britain as a brand.  He relaunched Britain under this slogan, “Cool Britannia,” which you're too young to remember.

In These Times: That's horrible.

Yeah, what I wrote in "No Logo" was that Tony Blair's party was a “Labor-scented party.”  It explicitly deracinated the word labor from its meaning, in the same way that these companies were deracinating their brands from the products that they were selling.  What I found so moving about Corbyn's campaign was that when the Labor logo appeared at the end of his ads, it meant workers.  It meant being aligned with workers and having the trust of working people.  It ceased being a brand and became a description of the values and policies of the party.  That's an important shift, especially because a lot of Democrats think that the way to beat Trump is to come up with a better-branded billionaire.

In These Times: Some of the language you use to describe branding sounds a lot like the language used by political theorists to describe populism's effect on people—giving people a sense of belonging to a larger group, being able to transcend their material conditions.  These things are, of course, absurd to read onto something like a pair of sneakers.  But are there aspects of branding that can be salvaged by movements, especially when “the resistance” seems to be struggling to come up with a coherent identity?

The kind of branding that I was writing about in "No Logo" was what I was calling “hollow branding,” where the idea that you're selling basically has no relationship to the reality of what you are offering.  And that is a concept that I don't think should be redeemed.  So maybe it's helpful to make a distinction between that and using the best communication and design skills that are available to get a vision and a platform and a message out.  I'm all for that.  But I'm not sure I'd call it branding.  I really think that phrase may be poisoned.

There is something inherently possessive about branding, because brands compete with other brands for market share.  And I think that the way in which political groups—not just political parties but campaign organizations, NGOs, even individual people—have come to think of themselves as brands and apply to politics this very proprietary logic of the corporate world has done tremendous damage to movement building.  Brands compete with one another for market share, while movements want to work with whoever wants to reach the same goal.

So I'm all for using great design where it's useful to have a common umbrella so that people feel part of something bigger than themselves.  But I think we need to be very aware of when thinking like a brand becomes a problem—when we're making decisions based on protecting our brand as opposed to on building the largest movement that we can, which is much more of an open-source ethos.

In These Times: You talk about Trump as the accumulation—the Frankenstein monster—of trends that you've written about for years, from hollow branding to the shock doctrine.  Do you anticipate anything unique about the way Trump is likely to respond to an external shock, whether it's a terrorist attack or a natural disaster?

I don't think it will be unique; I think it's kind of an evolution.  But I do think Trump's admiration for authoritarian figures—authoritarian leaders and authoritarian tactics—is a shift.  Bush and Cheney didn't ban protests after 9/11.  They could have tried, and they did a lot of other things to try to silence dissent by trying to associate any serious criticism of the United States with terrorism.  But it's worth noting that they didn't do what the French government did under François Hollande after the Paris attacks, which was institute a state of emergency banning political gatherings and outdoor gatherings of more than five people.

Given Trump's clear comfort level with authoritarian regimes, we should expect that his administration would try to do something like that in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.  We are hearing open talk about internment on Fox NewsThe kind of policies that Trump ran on are precisely what we should be very afraid of.

Take him at his word.  He said he wanted to ban the entry of Muslims into the United States.  He immediately started talking about the need for his Muslim ban after the London terrorist attack.  It would be very foolish to reassure oneself that the White House wouldn't do that.  Maybe it wouldn't, but it's better to be prepared.

They certainly have learned a lesson from the protests that responded to the introduction of the travel ban.  They did not repress those protests in any kind of strong way, but they know that the protests got in their way and emboldened the lawmakers and the courts.  I would be worried about his willingness to crack down on protests like that.  It's so important in that moment for there to be just huge numbers of people in the street.  If it's left to the most targeted and most vulnerable communities to defend their own rights, the repression will be much more severe than if this administration finds itself confronted with hundreds of thousands of people of all ethnicities and religious backgrounds in the streets.  That is a lot harder to repress, right?  At least without serious consequences.

In These Times: One of the things that alarms me about Trump is that his staunch climate denialism sets an incredibly low bar—basically anything north of outright denial looks like progress.  What has been the impact of this?

I'm not sure so far that he is constraining the climate conversation, if we look at the way states and some cities are reacting to the withdrawal from the Paris Accord.  The sort of policies we are seeing put on the table from the mayors of Pittsburgh and Portland—to get to 100 percent renewables by 2035—are more in line with what science demands and what technology allows than what we were talking about under Obama.  Maybe that would have happened anyway, but maybe not.

Obviously the Republicans are doing less than nothing.  The Democrats don't have a clue about what to do, and so into that vacuum have come some real solutions from the local level.  I think we see a similar dynamic with that disastrous healthcare plan proposed by Congress.  That's creating more of a space for single payer at the state level, right?  Pushing for some of the actual policies we need at the sub-national level in the U.S. and at the national level outside of the U.S. is what we need to do when we finally get rid of these maniacs and get things caught up to where we need to be.

In These Times: Do you see any kind of single-payer-type demand when it comes to climate?  Is there anything that captures that type of energy?

Climate is more complex because it's about changing the backbone of our whole economy.  I'm always suspicious when people frame the solution as just one thing, like the carbon tax.  We are past that point, and the idea that there could be just one thing, and that would ever be enough to change the building blocks of an industrial economy, just seems crazy.

A big piece with climate is that getting to 100 percent renewables within two decades requires a huge jobs plan.  Of course, it requires different flanks to get there.  A jobs plan has to be designed and thought through.  That's why I've thrown my eggs in the basket of coming up with a policy platform that connects the dots between the need for unionized jobs, energy democracy and putting frontline communities first in line to own their own power.  Part of the problem we've had is that some of the jobs we have lost are high-paying union jobs, and the renewable-energy jobs that will just sort of emerge thanks to the free hand of the market will be much lower-waged and non-union.  Not fully confronting that and hoping that nobody notices has not been a great strategy in the fight for a so-called green jobs agenda.

In These Times: You talk in the book about the importance of intersectionality.  One of the points you've made is that while the things the Left cares about have been cordoned off into issues silos, the Right sees its efforts as part of this coherent ideological project.  Could you explain that a bit?

The Right has a holistic vision to realize dominance on every level—over people and over the planet.  It is winner-take-all hyper-individualism.  These are the connective ideas of the hyper-capitalist project, right?  Progressives and people on the Left have not been clear enough about what the connective tissue is of what we want and just how well our ideas are connected.  We have a lot of work to do.