Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

"Based on the passage of tax reform and the FCC's action on broadband, Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast NBCUniversal, announced that the Company would award special $1,000 bonuses to more than one hundred thousand eligible frontline and non-executive employees," Comcast said in a statement.

"Roberts also announced that the Company expects to spend well in excess of $50 billion over the next five years investing in infrastructure to radically improve and extend our broadband plant and capacity, and our television, film and theme park offerings," the company added....

But those that take a closer look at Comcast's finances will find that's something that would have occurred anyway. read more

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Axios' Mike Allen that he "would not expect to see" welfare reform on the agenda in 2018.

Why this matters: The Treasury admitted last week that the tax bill only pays for itself if welfare reform is also done. If McConnell doesn't want to do welfare reform in the upper chamber -- a politically risky endeavor, to say the least -- it's not happening, no matter how badly Speaker Paul Ryan, who has said he'd like to use reconciliation to take these on in 2018, wants it.

[Sen McConnell on] 2018: "If I were running the campaign ... I'd have that single woman saying, Sen. [Joe] Manchin, maybe $1,300 isn't much to you, but it is to me... We're prepared to make this argument to the American people, this was a significant middle class tax cut, but also it was important to get the country growing again."

Through all the controversy, threats and noise surrounding the Trump-Russia investigation, one person has been conspicuously silent: Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The former FBI director hasn't uttered a single word in public since he was appointed in May to lead the probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election despite increasingly combative attacks by Republicans and their allies on the FBI, the Justice Department and the integrity of his probe. It's an intentional strategy meant to convey the investigation's credibility and seriousness in an age of 24-hour noise, amplified by cable news shows and Twitter, according to current and former U.S. officials who know Mueller personally or who have followed his work. Instead of press conferences, Mueller has spoken loudly through a series of indictments and plea deals related to various Trump associates. read more

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn has unveiled plans for a net neutrality law she professes will "protect the open internet," but is far more likely to do the exact opposite. We just got done noting how ISPs like Comcast have begun pushing hard for net neutrality legislation. Why? Comcast knows the FCC's recent repeal of net neutrality rests on shaky legal ground thanks to the numerous instances of fraud and bizarre FCC behavior during the proceeding.

The FCC will also struggle to prove the broadband market changed so substantially in just two years to warrant such an unpopular reversal, which could nullify the repeal as "arbitrary and capricious" under the Administrative Procedure Act. read more

It was the kind of sitdown that China had long resisted: Top US officials telling Chinese counterparts how American troops would enter North Korea if the hermit regime collapsed. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's recent revelation that such a discussion took place would -- if true -- suggest a major shift in Chinese policy as Beijing comes under pressure to rein in its Korean War ally. For years Beijing had refused US entreaties to discuss the possible collapse of its neighbor, but top US and Chinese military officials have finally met to discuss the once-taboo topic, Tillerson said last week. Some stark topics were broached, Tillerson said: Refugees flooding across the Chinese-North Korean border, US troops entering the hermit country -- and leaving again once they had prevented nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands.


Tax Cuts Buoy Republicans, but They're Swimming Against an Undertow

...Republican lawmakers, who spent much of this year forced to explain or defend Mr. Trump's erratic behavior, now have an opportunity to go on the offensive with an issue that unites their increasingly fractious party. And they hope that up-for-grabs voters will reward them should the economy keep growing while their tax bills are falling.

"Once the withholding tables change in January, voters will realize their paychecks are bigger as a result of tax reform," said Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio, who runs the House Republican campaign arm. But, alluding to past midterm defeats for the party in power at the White House, he acknowledged that "history is against us."

To reinforce the party's message, the primary House Republican "super PAC," the Congressional Leadership Fund, is planning a $10 million advertising and grass-roots campaign beginning next month in some of their most competitive districts to highlight the rate reductions, higher standard deduction and child tax credits in the bill. Corporations such as AT&T and Wells Fargo delivered Republicans an immediate gift by announcing they would give employees a bonus because of the tax cut.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said in an interview that Senate Republicans next year would batter the many Democrats who are on the ballot in states won by Mr. Trump, such places as North Dakota, West Virginia and Indiana, for opposing the bill....

The tax bill is likely to become more popular after passage. Here's how Republicans plan to sell it.

...The 45committee, a pro-Trump conservative nonprofit group that is primarily funded by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the family of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, has spent about $15 million promoting a tax bill over the past few months. The group does not have a target number for how much it will spend in 2018 yet, but a holiday-themed thank-you ad is in the works....

Democrats Prepare to Run Against the GOP ‘Tax Scam' in 2018

Shortly before passing a far-reaching but unpopular bill on a party line vote, the Speaker of the House assured critics that people would like it once they felt its benefits.

That was 2010, and it didn't work out for Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat in charge of the House at the time, or for the Obamacare health-care bill. It remained unpopular, even after health coverage was extended to millions of people. Democrats lost the House that November and the Senate four years later.

Now, Pelosi and her party will try to turn the tables, targeting the GOP's main achievement of 2017: tax legislation that, so far, rates poorly with the public. Republicans are pitching its middle-class benefits and potential economic growth to win over wary voters, but Democrats have united in labeling it a "tax scam" that benefits the wealthy and corporations....

It's not over yet...

Court tosses out one-vote victory in recount that had briefly ended a Republican majority in Virginia

...A three- judge panel declined to certify the recount of a key House race today, saying that a questionable ballot should be counted in favor of the Republican and tying a race that Democrats had thought they had won by a single vote.

"The court declares there is no winner in this election," said Circuit Court Judge Bryant L. Sugg, after the judges deliberated for more than two hours. ...

In the case of a tie in a House race, state law says the winner is chosen by lot – essentially, a coin toss, according to Virginia state law. ...

But it doesn't end there. If the loser of the coin toss is unhappy with that result, he or she can seek a second recount. ...

@#8 ... As others have pointed out, it's not at all surprising when you figure how much money is thrown at them. ...

In the case of Rep Blackburn, Net neutrality is not the only thing it appears she has sold out for.

Tennessee congresswoman defends role in passing opioid law that critics say undercut DEA

...Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a key player in the passage of a federal law that critics say has made it more difficult to restrain the deadly opioid epidemic, insists she has seen no evidence to back up those accusations....

Blackburn co-sponsored the legislation and at one point even led the debate on the House floor. Her role is under scrutiny because she was pushing the bill at the same time that opioid abuse was sharply on the rise in Tennessee....

What's more, Blackburn has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the prescription drug industry. A USA TODAY review of campaign finance reports shows that, since 2012, she has collected at least $96,000 in campaign contributions from political-action committees affiliated with the largest manufacturers and distributors of opioids and from groups representing drug makers and distributors....

... It is surprising how many people keep voting for them. ...

That is something of an amazement.

The latest in the GOP's ceding control of the Internet to the big ISP corporations:

GOP net neutrality bill would allow paid fast lanes and preempt state laws

...A Republican lawmaker is proposing a net neutrality law that would ban blocking and throttling, but the bill would allow ISPs to create paid fast lanes and prohibit state governments from enacting their own net neutrality laws. The bill would also prohibit the FCC from imposing any type of common carrier regulations on broadband providers....

The bill text is available here. It would amend the Communications Act "to prohibit blocking of lawful content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices, [and] to prohibit impairment or degradation of lawful Internet traffic."

Unlike the net neutrality rules repealed by Pai's FCC last week, the bill would not prohibit ISPs from charging websites or online services for prioritization....

Blackburn's bill would define broadband Internet access as an "information service," preventing the FCC from ever regulating home and mobile Internet providers as common carriers. This prohibition would prevent the reinstatement of numerous consumer protections besides the net neutrality rules.

State governments would also be limited in their ability to regulate, as Blackburn's bill would preempt states from imposing "any law, rule, regulation, duty, requirement, standard, or other provision" related to net neutrality....

CEO Craig Aaron of consumer advocacy group Free Press offered a similar reaction:

...This bill's true goal is to let a few unregulated monopolies and duopolies stifle competition and control the future of communications....

It amazes me how the GOP members of Congress can lie to such an extent, doing disservice to those who voted for them.

... and the sun revolves around the earth.

Galileo Affair

...In 1610, Galileo published his Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger), describing the surprising observations that he had made with the new telescope, namely the phases of Venus and the Galilean moons of Jupiter. With these observations he promoted the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus (published in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543). Galileo's initial discoveries were met with opposition within the Catholic Church, and in 1616 the Inquisition declared heliocentrism to be formally heretical. Heliocentric books were banned and Galileo was ordered to refrain from holding, teaching or defending heliocentric ideas. ...

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