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Rex Tillerson is speaking out, and ooh boy, the stories he's telling about Donald Trump


Rex Tillerson is speaking out, and ooh boy, the stories he’s telling about Donald Trump
Walter Einenkel
Daily Kos Staff
Thursday January 14, 2021 · 1:59 PM EST

When former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson was tapped by Donald Trump to become his administration’s first secretary of state, the only positive thing anyone could say was that Tillerson was someone who had some knowledge of the world. Tillerson is a crumb bum. But he does have thoughts articulated around what he believes are clear goals. We vote in order to have people other than Tillerson in positions to make national security and globally important political advisory decisions. The bar, of course, was set so low with Trump as president that having anyone not named Trump, Kushner, Bannon, or Miller in any position seemed to be a step up. That being said, Tillerson’s interests in being Trump’s secretary of state were closely tied to his fossil fuel view of the world and world politics. After he was fired by Trump, a steady stream of stories leaked out about Tillerson describing Donald Trump as something of a lazy moron. None of those stories were surprising.

In all of the hullabaloo of the past week’s events—insurrection and attempted coup and all—an interview with Tillerson for Foreign Policy slipped by with little fanfare. In it, Tillerson gives his usual run through of trying to be as helpful to President Trump and the country as possible, but he also articulates some of his “frustrations” with Trump. Those frustrations include Donald Trump being an ignoramus, acting like an ignoramus, listening to other ignoramuses, and being an inscrutable ignoramus. Tillerson explained that one of the fundamental hurdles he had to overcome in communicating his global policy ideas to Trump was the fact that Trump’s “understanding of global history, his understanding of U.S. history was really limited. It’s really hard to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t even understand the concept for why we’re talking about this.” This might be the nicest thing Tillerson said about the president during the interview.

Tillerson went on to illustrate how he began his tenure trying to bring “four or five things I needed to talk to him about,” and very quickly comprehended that a victory was getting to talk to Trump about two or three things. This gave way to Tillerson realizing he needed to bring visual aids like charts or images. “If I could put a photo or a picture in front of him or a map or a piece of paper that had two big bullet points on it, he would focus on that, and I could build on that.” We knew this but man, what a bummer. Asked how Trump made informed decisions if it was so difficult to make him informed, Tillerson said he didn’t think Trump made many “informed decisions.”

Another issue Tillerson said he faced was that the many handlers (and possibly Fox News) would get to the president before Tillerson met with him, filling him with fact-free opinions and information. Having a conversation with someone who believes things that aren’t real makes for a difficult discussion. Asked about Trump’s friendliness towards authoritarian leaders and antagonism towards allies, Tillerson said he couldn’t tell you what was going on in Trump’s mind. But, as Tillerson went on to explain, nothing ever panned out. We are in no better place with Russia or with North Korea, our issues with China have only become exacerbated, and our relationship with Turkey is even more messy.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Jan 14, 2021, 11:49 PM (15 replies)

Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus plan, explained

Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus plan, explained
Biden has unveiled his opening bid in a proposal to rescue the economy.
By Emily Stewartemily.stewart@vox.com Jan 14, 2021, 7:40pm EST

President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled his opening bid on Covid-19 relief and economic recovery: a $1.9 trillion stimulus deal meant to help the United States address the health and economic crises induced by the global pandemic.

The proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, is divvied up into three buckets: $400 billion for dealing with the coronavirus, including vaccines and testing; $1 trillion in direct relief to families; and $400 billion in aid to communities and businesses. It includes money for testing, vaccines, and public health workers; $400 a week in extended federal unemployment insurance through September; rental assistance; emergency paid leave; and funding for schools reopening, among other items.

And, as Democrats promised when campaigning in Georgia, it would send out another a $1,400 in stimulus checks, bringing the total this year to $2,000.

“We need to tackle the public health and economic crises we’re facing head on,” Biden said in a tweet on Thursday. “That’s why today, I’m announcing my American Rescue Plan. Together, we’ll change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge toward economic recovery, and invest in racial justice.”


Overall, this is a big deal. The $1.9 trillion in relief Biden is proposing is more than double the $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that Democrats passed in 2009 in the wake of the Great Recession. The size and scope of this proposal is a reflection of some lessons Democrats have learned: In 2009, many lawmakers believed they’d have a chance at another bill to deliver more help, but they never did. And so the recovery was slower and more uneven than it could have been had they been more ambitious at the outset.

With that in mind, many Democrats and progressives plan to push the Biden administration and congressional leaders to go even further. Their mantra is increasingly that the real risk is doing too little — not too much.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Jan 14, 2021, 08:15 PM (2 replies)

Eric Boehlert: McConnell plays the press like a fiddle


McConnell plays the press like a fiddle
There is no GOP “reckoning”
Eric Boehlert
1 hr ago


Basically, McConnell was showered with lots of press coverage that depicted him as bravely standing up to Trump and possibly instigating a full-on GOP revolt, when in fact McConnell is doing nothing of substance to advance the impeachment cause.

This story is more about backroom jockeying within the GOP, than it is about the party trying to defend the country from a sociopath president. Republicans have shown zero urgency in terms of holding an impeachment vote on Trump. Yet news outlets scramble to paint a picture of a fractured party deeply disturbed by Trump, who has, "brought the Republican Party close to a breaking point," the Times announced last week.

There is no breaking point.

This is all part of a four-year Beltway media obsession with announcing the Republican Party is finally cutting ties with Trump— usually following an especially erratic and dangerous bout of behavior from him — and that the moment of "reckoning" has arrived. But it never does. The press has dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and resources over the years to advance the idea that Republicans leaders can't sleep at night because they’re so troubled by Trump's actions. This allows journalists to depict today's GOP as mainstream and normal. If key GOP players are despairing over Trump, that means the Republican Party operates within the confines of established American politics. But they're not, and they don't.

The GOP stampede towards the Trump exits remains a mirage because Trump accurately reflects where the party is today: Xenophobic, vulgar, unethical, and uninterested in telling the truth.


The idea that a dozen-plus Republican senators will hand deliver an impeachment conviction to Democrats just as Biden settles into the Oval Office makes no sense. Since McConnell hasn't said one word on where he stands on impeachment (only his aides have floated ideas), he can easily rally Republicans against it during the Senate trial, likely arguing the move is "divisive."

One week after an insurrectionist mob breached the Capitol, the Republican Party remains where it’s been for the last four years — refusing to stand up to Trump’s criminality. No matter what the McConnell spin is.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Jan 14, 2021, 08:11 AM (4 replies)

Dahlia Lithwick: Republicans Still Don't Get It


Republicans Still Don’t Get It
Even after almost dying, they are screaming about their right to blather while in the act of blathering.
By Dahlia Lithwick
Jan 13, 20217:57 PM


It is, quite frankly, beyond belief that the very same people who could have died in the United States Capitol just last week have somehow persuaded themselves that they’ve in fact experienced a more acute First Amendment injury than even insurrection itself. And that any effort to impose liability for the property destruction, terror, and death that resulted from the storming of the government is a monstrous encroachment on their right to talk. They make this point, to be clear, as they are talking and talking and talking about the pain of First Amendment encroachments, on the House floor. The real threat is to them, they say, as they point to the long and careening tour of Free Speech casualties of January 2021, from Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, to an armed mob’s vaunted free assembly rights, to their own, wholly imaginary right to talk endlessly—which they are, to be clear, doing, even as they whine about it. That it is all performed even when what they say is happening is plainly not happening is eminently incendiary and insane. And herein lies the problem. We have come to a moment in which one half of the country is fighting to be free of crippling, life-ending acts of stochastic terror, while another half of the same country is chillingly preoccupied with their right to just talk shit.

These harms are not the same.

Immediately after the Nazi invasion of Charlottesville, Mark Joseph Stern and I wrote about the ways in which the arcane constitutional debates over free speech cannot be taken seriously in a world in which one team is in possession of weapons of war. This morning, Henry Grabar wrote that one cannot debate and speak freely in the people’s house, if some members are armed with life-ending weaponry. We now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that some Republican House members were afraid to vote for impeachment because they were in literal fear for their lives and the lives of their families. These people feel they cannot speak, or vote freely, not because anyone is “cancelling” them, but because they would prefer not to die.

The false equivalency on display in Wednesday’s impeachment hearings was breathtaking. An armed insurrection against lawmakers in the seat of government is cast as functionally equivalent to Donald Trump being “censored” by “big tech” for violating their policies against inciting violence. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has compared being deplatformed on Twitter to “cyber god’s Kristallnacht!” Fox News on Jeanine Pirro made the same analogy about Parler: saying, “They gave us a taste of this pre-election when they suppressed the Hunter Biden story, and now that they’ve won, what we’re seeing is the kind of censorship that is akin to a Kristallnacht.” Being denied the ability to say false things is not, in fact, Kristallnacht, but by all means continue to suggest that the injuries are equivalent.


Free speech is important. Really, really important. But the notion that the right to lie freely and unencumbered, about the scourge of non-governmental censorship is somehow equivalent to the right not be shot dead in the seat of government itself, is the most tragic perversion of American freedom I have ever witnessed. Donald Trump was impeached today for actually inciting violence. This happened while his stalwart defenders carped on and on about their fundamental freedom to keep lying about it. It is the most on the nose indictment of “liberty” ever performed.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Jan 13, 2021, 08:46 PM (3 replies)

Biden, Democrats, plot 'aggressive' pandemic response -- without the GOP

Biden, Democrats, plot 'aggressive' pandemic response — without the GOP
Key Senate Democrats are gaming out plans to pass a massive stimulus package without Republican votes.
01/12/2021 08:00 PM EST

President-elect Joe Biden has spent months pledging to work with Republicans to advance his agenda. But Senate Democrats are now gearing up to pass Biden’s first major legislative package without them.

Key Senate offices are coalescing around a plan to pass another round of coronavirus legislation soon after Biden takes office using a process called reconciliation, which would allow them to move forward without any Republican support, five Senate aides tell POLITICO.

The package, which Biden said late last week will be “in the trillions of dollars,” is expected to provide direct relief to Americans through stimulus checks and give federal funding to help cash-strapped state, local and tribal governments distribute a vaccine and survive the most dire phase of the pandemic to date. But, freed of the need to compromise with Republicans, Democrats are also discussing including other priorities, including investing in infrastructure, moving to sustainable forms of energy and potentially even expanding Obamacare subsidies.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who will be a key figure for Biden in crafting reconciliation legislation as the new head of the Senate Budget Committee, pledged on Tuesday to use the powerful procedure to address the immediate health and economic crisis at hand.

“As we speak, my staff and I are working, we’re working with Biden’s people, we’re working with Democratic leadership, we’ll be working with my colleagues in the House to figure out how we can come up with the most aggressive reconciliation bill to address the suffering of the American working families today,” Sanders said in an interview.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Jan 13, 2021, 02:21 PM (0 replies)

McConnell Won't Reconvene Senate for Impeachment Trial

Still a POS/no redeeming value.


McConnell Won’t Reconvene Senate for Impeachment Trial
January 13, 2021 at 1:38 pm EST By Taegan Goddard 104 Comments

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won’t reconvene the Senate early to accept an article of impeachment, ensuring a trial won’t take place until after President Trump leaves office, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Jan 13, 2021, 02:09 PM (37 replies)

New York City Cancels Contracts With Trump Organization


New York City Cancels Contracts With Trump Organization
January 13, 202110:40 AM ET
Mark Katkov
Sally Herships

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that in light of President Trump's role in last week's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, New York City is cutting its business ties with the president's company.

"The President incited a rebellion against the United States government that killed five people and threatened to derail the constitutional transfer of power," de Blasio said in a statement. "The City of New York will not be associated with those unforgivable acts in any shape, way or form, and we are immediately taking steps to terminate all Trump Organization contracts."

The Trump Organization, made up of hundreds of businesses owned by the president, has three contracts to run concessions in New York City: the Central Park Carousel, the Wollman and Lasker skating rinks, and Ferry Point Golf Course. The attractions bring the company $17 million a year, according to The Washington Post.

"In light of last week's attack on our Capitol and our democracy, we have concluded that it is in the best interests of New Yorkers for the City to commence the process of cancelling these contracts and terminating its business ties with the Trump Organization," corporation counsel James Johnson said in the statement from the mayor's office.

The statement said the contracts' termination clauses are somewhat different. Termination of the carousel contract occurs after 25 days' written notice; termination of the ice rink contracts requires 30 days' notice; termination of the golf course contract is more complex "and is expected to take a number of months."
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Jan 13, 2021, 02:07 PM (6 replies)

'I feel betrayed' -- Ken Langone blasts Trump and Capitol rioters, vows to support Biden

‘I feel betrayed’ — Ken Langone blasts Trump and Capitol rioters, vows to support Biden
Published Wed, Jan 13 20219:04 AM ESTUpdated Wed, Jan 13 202110:34 AM EST
Kevin Stankiewicz

Billionaire Ken Langone called the Capitol Hill riot a “disgrace” and urged Americans to rally behind President-elect Joe Biden.

“I think the biggest mistake anybody is going to make is try and rationalize what happened last week, what the president did and what that crowd did,” Langone told CNBC on Wednesday.

“I feel betrayed,” said Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot who has donated over the years to Republicans.

Republican businessman Ken Langone on Wednesday blasted last week’s Capitol Hill riot, indicating on CNBC he felt “betrayed” by President Donald Trump’s actions that led up to the deadly events.

“I think the biggest mistake anybody is going to make is try and rationalize what happened last week, what the president did and what that crowd did,” Langone said on “Squawk Box.” “There should be no mitigation at all. It was horrible. It was wrong. I’m shocked.”


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Jan 13, 2021, 12:33 PM (8 replies)

Eric Boehlert: Hannity's post-election ratings collapse


Hannity's post-election ratings collapse
Finishing in third place
Eric Boehlert
2 hr ago


As a portion of Trump's hardcore tribe abandoned Fox News because it wasn't sufficiently deranged in claiming the election had been "stolen” — the way up-and-coming rivals Newsmax TV and OAN have been in recent months — and as CNN rode a massive ratings wave as the post-election chaos grew, Hannity found himself watching the cable news competition from all the way in the rear. It represents a stunning fall for Fox News' one-time untouchable star.

Hannity's slow-motion demise represents the starkest reminder yet for Fox News that its post-Trump world could look very different, especially if far-right viewers dump the channel at Trump's urging.

Fox News is floundering, and some right-wing radicals are cheering the network's hardship. "FOX News continues to crash and burn after they turned a blind eye to the massive voter fraud in the 2020 election," reported the far-right conspiracy site, Gateway Pundit this week, featuring an image of the Hindenburg, with a Fox News logo on its side, bursting into flames.


In the immediate wake of the Trump-incited coup attempt last week on the U.S. Capitol, Hannity's show got demolished by Cuomo and Maddow. Last Thursday, Hannity landed 500,000 viewers 25-54, compared to 1.7 million for Cuomo and 1.1 million for Maddow. It's hard to recall the last time a regularly scheduled primetime program on Fox News lost by a 3-to-1 margin to CNN, and 2-to-1 margin to MSNBC.

It's been a spectacular run of last-place finishes for a cable host who easily dominated the 9 p.m. time slot for years.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Jan 13, 2021, 09:47 AM (17 replies)

Sports stadiums are being used as coronavirus vaccine hubs



16 mins ago - Sports
Sports stadiums are being used as coronavirus vaccine hubs
Kendall Baker

In the fall, America's sports stadiums became voting centers and COVID-19 testing sites. Now, they're being used for another purpose: vaccine distribution.

The big picture: Thanks to their size, accessibility and sprawling parking lots, sports venues can handle large groups of people and long lines of cars, making them an ideal distribution partner for cities.

Houston: Nearly 4,000 people were vaccinated Saturday at Minute Maid Park (Astros).

Los Angeles: Dodger Stadium will provide shots to as many as 12,000 people per day this week.

New York: Citi Field (Mets) will become a 24/7 "mega" vaccination site by the end of the month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

Boston: Gillette Stadium (Patriots) is the state's first mass vaccination site.

Phoenix: A parking lot outside State Farm Stadium (Cardinals) has been transformed into a 24/7 drive-thru vaccination site.

San Diego: A "super station" has been constructed at Petco Park (Padres), where the goal is to vaccinate 5,000 healthcare workers per day.

Miami: Hard Rock Stadium (Dolphins) has doubled as a vaccination hub, though it closed on Monday for the CFP National Championship.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Jan 13, 2021, 08:38 AM (1 replies)
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