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Jennifer McHenry
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Single payer in California?

I received an email which suggested that the name of this bill was the Affordable Care Act (a middle finger to Republicans, I thought), but no, it's actually called the Healthy California Act or SB 562. While worthy on a conceptual level, the bill appears to be a spur of the moment addition filed on the last possible day, and it may be sabotaged before it ever gets off the ground. I'm hoping a feisty and attentive hoard of constituents will deter the meddlers. We shall see.

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Ro Khanna town hall in Fremont. Over a thousand people attended, but the room booked for the event was vastly inadequate for the size of the crowd. A second room was filled wall to wall, and we listened to the district director talk for a bit before law enforcement chased us out along with all standing occupants without a chair.

I would've liked to solicit Ro's opinion on the recent ICE raids and ask if he plans to oppose funding the plans detailed in the new DHS memos. (Ro is on the house budget committee.) Regardless of the poor end to the evening, it was still quite heartening to see the enthusiasm of the attendees. 

While grappling with current events re:Russia and trying to identify the driving forces at work (differentiating between strategy and reactionary opportunism), context is necessary. Allen C. Lynch from the University of Virginia offers some insight.

Excerpts from the conclusion of Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft (2011):

"...[Putin's] government rests heavily in the hands of a military and paramilitary elite—led by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin—that is reluctant to devolve power to economic and social forces outside the state's purview... In order for Russia to escape the orbit of the corrupt petrostate, Putin needs to break with central elements of the system that he has built. The most powerful forces in his administration fear transparency and open political and economic competition, while the lawyers and economists who remain—and who claim to see their spokesman in President Medvedev—are skeptical that the economy can be transformed without reducing the state's grip on the economy... To date, Putin has sought to balance the factions of order and development, to the benefit of the former and at the cost of the latter." (129-130)

More from The Economist on Sechin:

"Putin wanted to deal with the West from a position of equality, but Russia's economic, military, geopolitical, and demographic realities belied such hopes. Much the same was true of Russia's relations with communist China, whose gross GDP exceeded Russia's fivefold and whose populations along its eastern borderlands with Russia exceeded by ten times the population along its Russian side. At the same time, Putin wanted Russia to become the geopolitical fulcrum of the post-Soviet territories of central Eurasia so that he could exploit its energy predominance to leverage diplomatic and national security control... Putin refused to allow Russia to become a 'peripheral' adjunct of either the Western world or of China..." (131)

"Its choice of international orientation also entails a fundamental choice of internal direction: liberal modernization along Western lines or authoritarian modernization along Chinese lines. After twelve years of Putin's rule, which his defenders claimed justified a strategy of 'authoritarian modernization,' Russia seemed stuck in a twilight zone of authoritarian government without significant modernization. And after nearly three years of rule by the Putin-Medvedev 'tandem,' as The Economist Intelligence Unit concluded in late 2010, 'there [had] been no fundamental reforms' in Russian politics or economics... after more than a decade in office—and in the absence of international partners sharing his vision of Russia's future—Putin seemed unable to elaborate an international strategy that corresponded to the country's pressing material interests while also satisfying its enormous desire for international respect." (133)

"While Putin has established an authoritarian regime with a democratic institutional veneer, his Potemkin democracy is a far cry from the Soviet Union even at its most liberal... In this context, Russian optimists, such as political scientist Dmitri Trenin (himself often a Putin critic), see the Putin years as confirming the irreversibility of Russia's exit from the Soviet orbit and as laying the groundwork for Russia's long-term evolution along European lines... Trenin's view, while plausible, overlooks the possibility that Putin may have succeeded all too well and has created a self-perpetuating bureaucratic regime that at times resembles the late Leonid Brezhnev period in its reliance on high energy prices and in its resistance to structural reform of either the economy or the polity. Moreover, in light of Putin's successful stifling of legitimate political opposition—which has weakened an already fragile democratic camp—the alternatives to Putin's system in the short run are much more likely to be among the xenophobic, chauvinist, and anti-Semitic Right, not the liberal- or social-democratic Left." (133-134)

From November 2014, on Ukraine:

This turn of events was alarming for Putin’s government. As the increasingly violent confrontation between the government and the street entered its third month in February 2014, Russia and the EU attempted to broker a deal to end the crisis. On February 21, 2014, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Poland, as well as a Russian representative persuaded the Yanukovich government and its official adversaries to agree to a coalition government pending accelerated national elections before the end of the year. Meanwhile, Yanukovich would remain President. Within twenty-four hours, the armed street in Kiev included a broad array of Yanukovich opponents—including several extreme nationalist factions—made it clear that it would accept no agreement that kept Yanukovich in the government, however temporarily. Yanukovich fled for his life and thus the second Russian attempt to square the circle of Ukrainian sovereignty and Russia’s interests collapsed

It appears that only at this point did Putin decide to execute contingency plans for the annexation of Crimea. The rapid collapse of the February 21 pact and the rise, with obvious US support, of a government in Kiev dominated by Russophobic leaders, suggested that the fate of Ukraine had become a “zero-sum game,” that is, one in which Ukraine would choose between Moscow and the West in a winner-take-all contest. Under these circumstances, Putin clearly decided that unilateral measures were called for, whatever the fallout in terms of relations with the West: Moscow’s stake in Ukraine’s economic and security orientation was no longer negotiable.


1. Flynn lied to the FBI. Prosecution uncertain.

2. Deutsche bank (responsible for $10bn in Russian money laundering) seems to have forgotten about the money Trump owes them. And oh yeah, they "examined" his account for ties to Russia and said, "nope, nothing here." Remember Deutsche has been fined five times since 2015 for doing shit they shouldn't be doing.

3. Trump spends the day gaslighting so headlines about "corrupt media" appear right next to headlines about the administration's ties to Russia. His old pal Carter Page, a man with deep ties to the Kremlin, sends a bizarre letter fanning the partisan flames. Undoubtedly the right (and possibly left) conspiracy theorists will take it as gospel.

4. Trump says he plans on releasing a new immigration ban next week. Maybe he'll continue to release a new EO every time the old one doesn't work. Or he'll just consult people like John Yoo or Bob Leob, but first he'll have to find someone willing to work for him. Yoo and Bob are probably out of the running. Yoo wrote an OpEd for the NYTimes titled "Executive Power Run Amok" and even Leob twitter-cringed at the whole don't-question-the-President argument.

5. Meanwhile, in Europe:

The Dutch referendum, held last April, became a battering ram aimed at the European Union. With turnout low, Dutch voters rejected the trade agreement between the European Union and Ukraine, delighting Moscow, emboldening pro-Russia populists around Europe and leaving political elites aghast.

It is unclear whether the Ukrainian team was directed by Russia or if it was acting out of shared sympathies, and Mr. Van Bommel said he never checked their identities. But Europe’s political establishment, already rattled by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of President Trump in the United States, is worried that the Netherlands referendum could foreshadow what is to come.

With elections slated for France, Germany and possibly Italy this year, officials across Europe are warning that the Russians are actively interfering, echoing the Central Intelligence Agency’s assertions that Moscow meddled in the United States presidential election.

Norway announced this month that Russia-linked hackers had attacked government ministries and a political party. Britain’s defense minister has accused Moscow of “weaponizing disinformation.” German, French and Italian officials have also accused Russia-linked partisans of meddling.

The Netherlands is holding its own national elections on March 15, and domestic intelligence officials say that foreign countries, notably Russia, have tried hundreds of times in recent months to penetrate the computers of government agencies and businesses. Volkskrant, a Dutch newspaper, reported last week that the same two Russian hacking groups that pilfered emails from the Democratic National Committee were among those targeting the Netherlands.

The Dutch interior minister announced that all vote tallies in the March election would be done by hand so as to remove computers from the electoral process and calm fears of hacking by unidentified “state actors.”

“Those in power are very worried — there is more than ample reason for alarm over interference in elections,” said Sijbren de Jong of the Hague Center for Strategic Studies, a research group in The Hague, the seat of the Dutch government. “But the real risk are populists who run, knowingly or unwittingly, with Russia’s agenda because they know it is damaging to the status quo in Europe that they want to destroy. All Russia really needs to do is sit back and let populists do their bidding.”


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Dang good for nothin environmentalists!

Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

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The surge of ICE raids is a transparently vindictive response to succor bruised egos after the decision at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Heartbreaking for the families being separated.

From CNN:

...Garcia de Rayos, 35, said she has no regrets. Not about coming to the US as a teenager in search of a better life nearly two decades ago, or staying illegally and working under a fake Social Security number. Not about going to her immigration check-in despite the risk of deportation under the Trump administration's executive order.

"The truth is I was there [in the United States] for my children. For a better future. To work for them. And I don't regret it, because I did it for love," she said in a news conference Thursday night from Nogales, Mexico.

"I'm going to keep fighting so that they continue to study in their country, and so that their dreams become a reality."
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A must read about rule of law, what it means, how Trump threatens it, and what we can do to protect a critical cornerstone of our democracy. Written by Paul Gowder:

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Good news: an Iranian affected by the ban was allowed to return to the US. But he is one case out of many, and if you follow up on the story, US Marshals refused to serve the order to customs officials. This was a selective release to defuse media attention generated by videos like this one: It does not redress the grievance or the developing pattern.

More information here:

An excerpt:

On Monday, immigration attorneys went to the U.S. Marshals Service office in downtown L.A. to ask the agency to serve notice on local customs officials. But a representative refused, according to attorney Laura Riley. She told KPCC that she and two other attorneys spent nearly all day in the marshals office at the federal courthouse in downtown LA. When a marshals official suggested they try serving the notices to a lawyer with the U.S. Attorney’s office, they rushed to another federal building eight blocks away. No luck, said Riley.

“It’s kind of harkening back to the 1950s and orders for schools to desegregate,” said Loyola Law School Professor Allan Ides. “Back then, some government officers were doing their best to avoid the orders and refuse to obey the orders.”

“To me, it's leading to a constitutional crisis,” he added.

The Marshals Service is part of the executive branch of government. They work, essentially, for President Trump. But by law, marshals are also the enforcement arm of the federal courts.

So when a federal judge rules that an action by the Trump administration violates the law, it is easy to see how that would put the service in an awkward position. The Marshals Service said as much in a statement released to KPCC.

“The U.S. Marshals Service will take steps to comply with all federal judicial orders while working with our Executive Branch partners who are implementing the President’s executive orders.”

But Ides has little sympathy for the service.

“I don’t understand the dilemma of the Marshals Service is,” he said. “They’re not being asked to defy Trump. They are being asked to serve an order. And they shouldn’t care what the content of the order is.”

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That’s where the legal chicanery comes in. The administration has instructed airlines that it has “revoked immigrant and non-immigrant visas for travelers to the United States from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.” The Boston order applies in part to “holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas.” The government says that since it revoked those visas—without having publicized it to anyone except the airlines—they are no longer valid, so the court order doesn’t apply to the people to whom it applies. This reading is tendentious at best and outright malevolent at worst. As Ahilan Arulanantham, legal director at the ACLU of Southern California, put it to me in a phone call: “If you were dealing with an administration that was adopting a fair reading of the law, that [Boston order] would have been sufficient. But what we found between Saturday night, and then Sunday, and then Monday, and [Tuesday], and [Wednesday]—based on what I’m hearing—is that the government has tried to subvert the order by exploiting these barely existent ambiguities.”

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If this leak is part of a gaslighting strategy, or an attempt to flush out resistance and consolidate power, it is still a despicable affront to the rights and people we cherish. It legitimizes hate and prejudice. It practically dares the courts to exert a check on executive authority and reeks of the smug notion that rule of law can be ignored.

Trump and Bannon are playing a game of chicken with our democracy.
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