Archive | February 2017

A Week in Review: A Window on 2016 and 2017


Each week TheHill distributes a newsletter called Sunday Show Wrap-Up.

Ahead of this week’s shows, I think that it is instructive to review the headlines and summaries from last week, collectively gathered under the heading “Spotlight Shines on Trump Travel Ban.” Please skim the list, which sets up some extended commentary in the second half of this post:

McConnell: ‘Best to Avoid Criticizing Judges Individually’

By Alexander Bolton

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R­Ky.) on Sunday tacitly criticized President Trump for blasting a federal judge for ruling against an executive order barring visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that it is “best to avoid criticizing judges individually.”

GOP Senator: “We Don’t Have Any So­Called Judges”

By Mallory Shelbourne

Sen. Ben Sasse (R­Neb.) on Sunday rejected President Donald Trump’s attack on the federal judge who halted his travel ban, saying there are…

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Lakoff on Selecting Language to Contest Trumpism


If you have not seen Tavis Smiley’s interview with the linguist George Lakoff, it is very much worth watching. Lakoff offers much insight into how progressives need to frame issues in order to reach the broadest possible spectrum of voters:

Here are the opening paragraphs of Lakoff’s blog post “Understanding Trump,” written and then updated before Trump was elected president. It provides the baseline for understanding what Lakoff has to say in the interview with Tavis Smiley about what progressives need to do now and going forward:

“There is a lot being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More than half a million people have read my books, and Google…

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Letting Voters Decide, Then Deciding Differently



We are getting used to seeing this sort of thing in states in which, largely because of gerrymandering, the GOP control of state government is all out of proportion to their actual share of voters.

But, what is significant about this story, reported in the Daily Kos Elections: Voting Rights Roundup newsletter, is that it is occurring in South Dakota, one of the most solidly Republican states in the nation:

On Thursday, South Dakota’s Republican-dominated state government literally declared a “state of emergency” to repeal a voter-approved ethics reform law, in essence saying their burning desire to override the will of the public and trash ethics reform was a crisis equivalent to a hurricane or earthquake. Stunning.

Particularly infuriating is that lawmakers’ use of this emergency provision means that repeal will take effect immediately and is immune to a voter-referendum veto. And it 

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Elizabeth Warren’s Speech to the Progressive Caucus


The speech was provided by Elizabeth Warren’s office and published below an article written by David Marans for Huffington Post, highlighting her key points [].

I’m going to cut to the chase: We’re gathered today in Baltimore during a moment of crisis – for us as progressives, for us as Democrats, for us as Americans.

We’re in a moment of crisis, and I want to talk honestly about it.

Let’s start with a simple fact: Our moment of crisis didn’t begin with the election of Donald Trump.

We were already in crisis.

We were already in crisis because for years and years and years, Washington has worked just great for the rich and the powerful, but far too often, it hasn’t worked for anyone else.

We were already in a moment of crisis because for years and years and years, the economy has worked just great for…

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Visualizing a Billion and a Trillion Dollars


Any budget number can be made to sound exorbitant if doing so serves a political purpose. But the scope of our governmental budgets, as well as the scope of our economy, has long exceeded the ability of most of us to grasp the numbers—both viscerally and intellectually—in any meaningful way. Given the new administration’s penchant for making large numbers sound negligible and small numbers sound huge, it seems especially important for everyone to appreciate the differences between millions, billions, and trillions of dollars.

For instance the total spending on the NEA and the NEH in 2016 amount to just under $296 million, which sound like an enormous amount of money. But it is just .18% of the $4.1 trillion federal budget (that is, less than one fifth of one percent), and 1.97% to 1.18% of the projected $15 to $25 billion projected cost of constructing a wall along the border…

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