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Disgraced former sheriff Joe Arpaio is still a guilty SOB, judge rules

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:58

The racist Joe Arpaio got his precious presidential pardon but it can’t erase the fact that he intentionally violated a court order and was convicted for it, a federal judge has decided. Arpaio had petitioned the court to toss out his criminal record after Donald Trump’s pardon spared him from a possible six months in the slammer. The judge said nope:

In her order Thursday, Phoenix-based U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton rejected arguments from Arpaio's lawyers and Justice Department prosecutors that the longtime Maricopa County sheriff was entitled to have all rulings in the case vacated, including the guilty verdict the judge delivered in July after a five-day trial.

“The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial recordkeeping," Bolton wrote, quoting an appeals court ruling. "To vacate all rulings in this case would run afoul of this important distinction. The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt. The President issued the pardon. Defendant accepted. The pardon undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, 'revise the historical facts' of this case."

Arpaio, a Trump surrogate, was finally kicked out of office last November by Maricopa County voters, but not before his reign of terror left black and brown communities devastated. As his deputies swept workplaces to arrest immigrant parents and inmates in his jails were starved, tortured, and left in blistering heat, Arpaio’s office ignored or under-investigated hundreds of sex crimes, including child molestation.

In 2013, El Mirage resident Levalya Beyart told the Phoenix New Times “that after she reported that her 13-year-old, mentally disabled daughter had apparently been raped in her home, a sheriff's deputy told her the case wasn't a priority.”

After his conviction this past summer, Arpaio went on a right-wing media campaign to lobby for his pardon and mercy from jail—perhaps in his shriveled black heart fearing he’d be treated the same way he’d treated other prisoners—and got it. But, it doesn’t change the fact that he remains a criminal, and will always be one.

Categories: Politics

More questions than answers about Niger attack that left four U.S. soldiers dead

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:56

While there’s no serious question that Donald Trump told the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson that “he knew what he signed up for,” there are a lot of questions remaining about the attack in which Johnson and three other soldiers were killed. What information lapse allowed their team to be ambushed in unarmored pickup trucks without air support? Why was Johnson’s body not recovered for two days after the attack? What exactly is the U.S. mission in Niger, anyway? Rachel Maddow has raised further questions about whether Trump’s addition of Niger’s neighbor Chad to his travel ban, which immediately preceded a decision by Chad to withdraw troops from Niger, might have contributed to American vulnerability to ambush.

The Department of Defense has reportedly launched an investigation into the events in Niger, and it’s entirely possible that information being reported as fact now will ultimately be contradicted. Defense Secretary James Mattis has defended the initial response, saying that "The US military does not leave our troops behind, and I would just ask you not question the actions of the troops who were caught in the firefight and question whether or not they did everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once.” But:

Three senior US defense officials told CNN on Wednesday that Mattis is dismayed at the lack of detailed information he has received about the attack, but there is no indication he is trying to unduly hurry the investigation being carried out by Africa Command, according to all three officials -- all of whom are in a position to have knowledge of how Mattis views the situation.

In response to Sen. John McCain raising questions about the ambush and whether he’s getting full information about it, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said “if Sen. McCain says we need to do a better job communicating with him ... we're going to do it.” We’ll see—and we know that this is unlikely to get the kind of investigative attention from congressional Republicans that Benghazi did.

One thing we do know: Trump was at his golf course five times between when the soldiers were killed and the first time he spoke publicly about the attack.

Categories: Politics

For first time in three years, Gallup survey finds uptick in uninsured rate

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:25

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Since 2008, Gallup and Sharecare have been taking quarterly surveys of the uninsured rate. In November, 2016 they recorded a record low rate, at 10.9 percent. But since then?

The percentage of U.S. adults lacking health insurance rose in the third quarter of 2017 to 12.3%, up 0.6 percentage points from the previous quarter and 1.4 points since the end of 2016. The uninsured rate is now the highest recorded since the last quarter of 2014 when it was 12.9%. […]

However, the 1.4-point increase in the percentage of adults without health insurance since the end of last year represents nearly 3.5 million Americans who have entered the ranks of the uninsured.

Still, the uninsured rate remains well below its peak of 18.0% measured in the third quarter of 2013, prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) mandated healthcare exchanges and the associated requirement that all adults have health insurance or be subject to a fine.

Larry Levitt, Senior VP at Kaiser Family Foundation counsels caution. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 1 percent, close to the 1.4 percent increase they found, and he believes the survey "probably overstates things."

However, the downward trajectory in the uninsured rate since 2013 has stopped, and probably reversed. Which means in real terms that Trump's sabotage is keeping people from getting insurance.

Graph of 9/2017 Gallup survey of uninsured

Categories: Politics

Lawyer who defended North Carolina's voter suppression laws could end up on the federal bench

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:11

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In a party-line vote Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Thomas Farr as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Who's Thomas Farr? He's the go-to lawyer for North Carolina Republicans. He's the guy the legislature there hired to defend the horrific voter-suppression law they passed in 2013.

That's the law that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down last year for targeting "African Americans with almost surgical precision." Farr had argued that there was not intent to cut out any voters based on anything other than the goodness of the Republicans' hearts. "I strongly deny that the legislature engaged in intentional discrimination," he said in arguments. "It was not a nefarious thing."

Farr appealed to the Supreme Court, saying “the decision insults the people of North Carolina and their elected representatives by convicting them of abject racism.” The court declined to hear the case, leaving the Fourth Circuit's opinion in place.

Farr has been at the center of fierce battles over voting and representation in North Carolina in recent years. He was hired by the North Carolina legislature in 2011 to defend its redistricting maps for Congress and the legislature, which have repeatedly been invalidated by federal courts. The Supreme Court struck down two of the state's congressional districts because the legislature had packed black voters into heavily minority districts in order to reduce the influence of minorities in adjoining districts held by white Republicans. A lower court also struck down twenty-eight state legislative districts for discriminating against African American voters, calling the maps defended by Farr "among the largest racial gerrymanders ever encountered by a federal court."

Categories: Politics

Federal lawsuit challenges Betsy DeVos' campus rapist-protection guidelines

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 10:42

Betsy DeVos’s decision to weaken campus sexual discrimination and assault response guidelines is being challenged in court. Equal Means Equal, on behalf of three plaintiffs, has filed a federal lawsuit calling the DeVos policy “unlawful, arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law.”

The complaint says that the DeVos rules in their entirety violate Title IX because they “permit schools to treat civil rights harms differently on the basis of sex.” The rules allow universities to use a more onerous burden of proof — the clear and convincing standard — in the case of a sex-based civil rights harm although the rules do not state that this standard can be used in other protected class categories, such as race and national origin. The preponderance of the evidence standard has long been the standard required under civil rights laws, the complaint argues. In 2004, the department sent a letter to Georgetown University that said it applied the wrong standard for sexual discrimination complaints by using the clear and convincing standard. 

Will the courts allow DeVos’s rapist-protection guidelines, or will she be forced to go back to the drawing board? 

Categories: Politics

Schumer: The Senate just passed 'one of the worst budgets Congress has ever passed'

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 10:05

Late Thursday night, Senate Republicans passed their non-binding budget resolution, a budget that recommends cutting Medicare by $473 billion and Medicaid by $1 trillion in order to give $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthy. Oh, and it adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit. That's so Republicans can come back in several years and yell about the deficit and push for more cuts to social insurance programs. The bill passed 51-49, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) the only Republican voting against.

“This nasty and backwards budget greenlights cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in order to give a tax break to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. […]

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the lone Republican senator who opposed the measure.

“I could not in good conscience vote for a budget that ignores spending caps that have been the law of the land for years and simply pretend it didn’t matter,” Paul said in a statement.

As a budget, it's non-binding. What matters, what this whole process was about, was those tax cuts. Even Trump understands that part. The bill includes the "instructions" the Congress needs to pass the tax cuts under budget reconciliation, a process that cuts Democrats out entirely because it only needs 51 votes to pass. A technical correction added as an amendment makes changes that the House Republicans wanted, which will fast track it even more—the House will likely take up the Senate bill and pass it completely, bypassing a conference between the two chambers.

The process was bitterly criticized by Budget Committee member Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who is retiring this year, who called the whole process "a hoax."

“The only thing about this that matters is preparation for the tax reform,” said Corker, who is retiring at the end of the Congress. "Other than that, these amendment votes, everything about this is a hoax. A hoax. It has no impact on anything whatsoever.
 
“If I were chairman of the budget committee, I would dismantle it. I would move to end it immediately in its current form," Corker said.

"Unless we create a real budget process, which this is not, our country’s fiscal situation will continue to go down the tube, and we have no mechanism to control real spending, 70 percent of which is mandatory, that’s not even covered by this,” he continued.

He voted for it. Because tax cuts. So much for principled opposition from any Republican.

Categories: Politics

Trump's opioid emergency promise came as news to the officials who'd need to make it happen

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 09:55

It’s a fire drill in the Trump administration after Donald Trump promised on Monday that “next week” he’d make an emergency declaration on the opioid crisis. His advisers and the agencies that would have to make an emergency response happen were not and are not ready to do that, and go figure—it’s just not that easy:

Emergency declarations are typically used to respond to isolated events such as hurricanes and floods, or disease outbreaks. Using one to combat a nationwide epidemic with no obvious end point might require unprecedented resources and raises numerous legal and other questions, said one senior White House official. [...]

Multiple sources in and out of relevant federal agencies said that key leaders on the opioid issue had not been asked to draw up strategies and tactics.

A senior FDA official said she did not know who was in charge of the emergency declaration efforts and described the effort as “such a mess.”

Let’s repeat that: “Key leaders on the opioid issue had not been asked to draw up strategies and tactics.” That’s perfect.

To make it all a little more complicated, there’s no health and human services head since Tom Price resigned in disgrace, there’s no Drug Enforcement Association head since the last person acting in that role resigned over Trump’s lack of respect for the law, Trump’s back to square one in picking an Office of Drug Control Policy leader since his first one had to withdraw over his sponsorship of a law making it harder for the DEA to combat the opioid crisis, and a Department of Homeland Security chief to replace now-White House chief of staff John Kelly has not yet been confirmed.

All of this is probably moot, though, because the fact that Donald Trump said he’d be making an emergency declaration does not actually mean Donald Trump intends to make an emergency declaration. It means he thought that would get him some approval and good press in the moment he said it and didn’t think beyond that. So most likely he’ll end up declaring something with the word emergency in it that doesn’t commit many resources or involve a real plan, but Trump will get to sign something in front of cameras (if he remembers to do the signing part) and say he’s taking action, and that’ll be good enough to keep him happy, even if it does nothing to keep people from dying of overdoses.

Categories: Politics

Trump keeps covering his 'he knew what he signed up for' lies by attacking Rep. Frederica Wilson

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 08:52

Two days after Donald Trump insisted it was “totally fabricated” that he told a grieving widow that a soldier killed in an ambush in Niger “knew what he signed up for,” we’re still waiting for the “proof” he claimed to have that it was a fabrication by Rep. Frederica Wilson. And though that phone call has been a major focus of the past two days, and Trump is tweeting about it again, that proof? Still nowhere to be seen.

In fact, during those two days, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has twice refused to deny that Trump said those words, followed in non-denial by White House chief of staff John Kelly. Both Sanders and Kelly worked hard, though, to blame Wilson for having the audacity to make an issue of Trump’s cruelty, and Trump went with that in his latest denial that he said the thing no one on his staff is bothering to deny that he said:

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This was Kelly’s line, too: “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation,” which was “absolutely sacred.” A sacred and very personal moment that the grieving family invited Wilson to be a part of because she had known Sgt. La David Johnson for years. A sacred and very personal moment that Trump defiled through his disrespect. When you’ve lost someone to violence, you get to choose who to surround yourself with. The Johnson family chose Rep. Frederica Wilson and they have said that Wilson’s description of the call with Trump was accurate.

So that’s what we’ve got: Trump’s gross insensitivity and disrespect on the phone with Myeshia Johnson. Trump continuing to claim Wilson is lying, when his own press secretary and chief of staff have basically conceded she’s telling the truth. An all-out White House attack on Wilson for daring to be present during a phone call when the family had invited her to be there because they knew her and she had been a mentor to the deceased and had put the call on speaker in her presence. Are Trump and Kelly saying that Gold Star families can’t surround themselves with the people whose support they want, while they’re on the way to greet a loved one’s coffin, because it might make Donald Trump look bad?

These people are monsters.

Categories: Politics

Morning Digest: Our massive quarterly House fundraising chart, covering 141 races, is now here

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 08:01

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is once again pleased to bring you our quarterly House fundraising roundup chart. We have reports from every major race for the third quarter of 2017, including a few candidates who turned in surprisingly strong hauls.

Campaign Action

Over the coming days, we'll be taking a look at key House races to analyze which candidates are bringing the type of money they need to win, and which ones aren't. One thing we like to look at isn't necessarily who's outraising whom but rather which contenders will have the resources to get their message out and which ones won't. It's not uncommon for candidates to win primaries or general elections despite being dramatically outspent. But what is uncommon is for them to win without having the money to air television ads, hire a skilled staff, build a field operation, and pay for all the other things it takes to run a credible race. And of course, it costs much more to air ads in some television markets than others, so what might look like a decent fundraising haul in North Dakota may be underwhelming in New Jersey.

However, we've learned over the years that sometimes, a candidate's fundraising can change quickly. A memorable example came from Illinois Republican Mike Bost in 2014. Bost's fundraising was extremely weak for months after he launched his campaign against Democrat Bill Enyart in the 12th Congressional District, and something we cited in March of that year when we downgraded Bost's chances here. But even though Bost had no primary opposition, his fundraising took off like a rocket once he officially won the GOP nomination that same month. He ended up having all the money he needed to beat Enyart, whom he handily dispatched by a comfortable 52-42 margin.

It's a good reminder that sometimes, a weak fundraiser can turn things around well before its too late. Still, people like Bost are rare, and quarterly fundraising reports do give us a good window into who is capable of running a serious campaign and who isn't.

Categories: Politics

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 08:01

At least it’s Friday. Again.

Again.

More work on the World HQ today, as well. Maybe a little hammering. Maybe a little sawing. Maybe a wrecking ball or two. Who knows?

We’ll do our best to keep our composure, and get you braced for another wild weekend.

Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!

Podcasts! They’re hip! They’re hot! Everyone’s got one! But Daily Kos has had one since slightly after that point at which you would have been able to say that we had one before it was cool. Only we do ours over a live stream, every weekday morning from 9-11 ET. So the news is as fresh as the morning dew! Delivered and interpreted for you by David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando.

We think you’ll like it so much, you’ll even help support its continued production, with monthly donations via Patreon, or one-time contributions via Square Cash.

Not ready to face the world that early? Unsure whether you’re ready to donate your hard-earned cash? We’ve also got these handy-dandy record-o-matical things, like the one below, featuring our most recent LIVE show! At Daily Kos, it’s always free to try before you buy! (I think! Usually, anyway!)

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YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash

Donald Trump hasn’t hit the bottom yet, he won’t hit it today either, or even tomorrow—Trump will make your head spin, you won’t believe how low he’ll go. Considering the Overton Window is free falling to Hell, yesterday doesn’t look so bad… David Waldman and Greg Dworkin give us their perspective of our collective plummet: Representative Pat Tiberi decides to bail out before impact, Senator Thad Cochran says “Why bother?” Donald Trump was lying about no president ever offering financial support to grieving families, but Donald did break ground with stiffing them on the check. There’s the Trump’s lies about the Gold Star Families, and Trump’s lies about his lying. Trump lies, everybody knows he lies, and America just gets dumber, debating whether he’s a moron or just mentally ill. Fox knows this whole mess is President Hillary Clinton’s fault, while the rest of the media wonders if it might be both Presidents fault equally. Donald thinks you’re kinda cute when you’re angry—anyhow it beats working on stuff. If the Gop can get their tax cuts, they’ll cut that loony loose. Meanwhile, Democrats work to keep the focus on those cuts. Also, the fight over Obamacare isn’t over. Back to the Russian invasion: Russian social media influence worked, it was probably also the subject and focus of collusion. Trump personally thanked a fake Twitter account linked to Russia. A pro-Trump Twitter account with massive clout was run by Russian trolls. A Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election. David revisits how Americans Were Tricked Into Working For Russia. It just isn’t collusion without some great partners—Facebook and Google helped an Anti-Refugee campaign in swing states, and Robert Mercer opened his heart and checkbook to just about every treasonous bigoted Nazi he met.

(Thanks to Scott Anderson for the show summary! Please help me pay him more!)

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

Categories: Politics

Cartoon: Trumptasia

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 08:01

x Vimeo Video

When President Trump isn’t tormenting the families of fallen soldiers, he’s hard at work trying to give rich people a fat tax cut. In fairness, he isn’t the only one trying to give a big handout to wealthy people. The top priority of Republicans in Congress is cutting taxes. The more you look at the tax “reform” plan, the more ridiculous it appears.

Though the tax cut plan is sketchy on details, it appears to be heavily (and I mean heavily) weighted towards the top 1% and the tippy-top 0.1%. Well, that’s because they make more, right? Um, no. The percent of their income that they would receive as a tax cut is much greater the higher you go up the ladder.

For 2018, households with moderate incomes would get a tax cut of about $660, or 1.2% of their after-tax income. But if you’re in the top 0.1% you’d get $720,000, or 10.2% of your income! The disparity gets worse as time goes on. (These guys do a good job of explaining it in much more depth.) Trump, of course, would save over $1 billion if his tax plan is implemented. Enjoy the cartoon, and visit me behind-the-scenes here on Patreon.

Categories: Politics

Abbreviated pundit roundup: The emoluments case against Trump, the enabling GOP, and more

Daily Kos - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 07:41

We begin today’s roundup with an editorial at The New York Times on President Trump’s “self-dealing” presidency:

If Donald Trump thinks there’s nothing wrong with exploiting the presidency for his personal profit, he should read the Constitution.

That’s the argument plaintiffs made in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, in the first-ever lawsuit to accuse a president of violating the emoluments clauses — once-obscure constitutional provisions that the nation’s founders adopted to prevent corruption of public officials.

One clause prohibits officials from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever” from foreign governments unless Congress approves; another bars presidents from getting payments from federal or state governments other than their salaries.

At The New YorkerSheelah Kolhatkar adds her analysis on the cases against Trump:

The future of crew’s case could hinge on whether judges accept the group’s premise that the emoluments issue is creating a class of victims. The pages and pages of evidence submitted in the suit include details of Trump’s ownership in L.L.C.s; partnerships operating in at least twenty foreign countries; and the workings of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., where news organizations have documented spikes in bookings by foreign diplomats “eager to curry favor” with Trump. The hotel recently hired a “director of diplomatic sales” to court this foreign-government consumer base, and has aggressively raised its prices since the election. crew contends that the elevated profit the hotel has reported is coming largely from foreign business. On Wednesday, in court, Deepak Gupta, an attorney arguing on behalf of crew who was previously litigation counsel for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, called the hotel “an emoluments magnet.”

Categories: Politics

North Carolina Republicans keep losing in the courts, now they want to change the referees

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 19:58

No lawmakers epitomize this truth more than those in the state of North Carolina: When Republicans lose, they cheat. Ever since Tar Heel Republicans lost the state's gubernatorial race in 2016 while the rest of the country went red, GOP lawmakers have worked diligently to undermine the will of the voters. They have tried to strip the new Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, of his power to restore voting rights, appoint judges, and even legally challenge GOP legislation.

In the meantime, the raft of conservative laws they've passed have largely been turned back by federal and state courts alike.

Now, since North Carolina Republicans have proven themselves unable to pass legislation that's constitutional, they've decided to game the system by changing the referees. The New York Times writes:

Judges in state courts as of this year must identify their party affiliation on ballots, making North Carolina the first state in nearly a century to adopt partisan court elections. The General Assembly in Raleigh reduced the size of the state Court of Appeals, depriving Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, of naming replacements for retiring Republicans.

And this month, lawmakers drew new boundaries for judicial districts statewide, which critics say are meant to increase the number of Republican judges on district and superior courts and would force many African-Americans on the bench into runoffs against other incumbents.

“Instead of changing the way they write their laws, they want to change the judges,” Mr. Cooper said as he sat in a 19th-century, high-ceiling library at the Executive Mansion, which he has occupied uneasily since succeeding Pat McCrory, a Republican. The legislature has overridden nearly a dozen of his vetoes. The latest was on Monday, when lawmakers sustained a bill to eliminate judicial primary elections, which Mr. Cooper called part of an effort to “rig the system.”

Mitch McConnell gamed the system and won when he denied Barack Obama the chance to fill a Supreme Court seat last year and then gifted it to Donald Trump by changing the Senate rules. He’s currently in the process of working to pack the lower courts now. 

North Carolina lawmakers must figure, why not? God forbid they start passing laws that might pass constitutional muster.

Categories: Politics

The New York Times' Maggie Haberman has been a consistent embarrassment. Now, she is despicable.

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 17:27

Donald Trump's bedpan carrier, White House chief of staff  John Kelly, stepped up to the podium once again to prove that whatever fine reputation he once had is completely gone. His soul is sold. Absent.

Kelly has chosen not to politicize his own son’s death in combat, and that is his right. No one gets to tell him how to grieve. No one gets to tell him how to respond to others politicizing the death of his son. His choices on that are his own, and they should be respected and honored. Period. But Kelly has chosen to step into his boss' politicization of the death of a soldier who was not his son. And unless he is doing so with the permission of that Gold Star family, he is as out of line as anyone would be if they were politicizing the death of his son. But Kelly is Trump's minion, and in so being, Kelly has forfeited his own honor.

Maggie Haberman has been one of the most prominent embarrassments at the New York Times as the paper continues to normalize Trump after spending the bulk of last year demonizing Hillary Clinton. That’s no mean feat. Once known as the “paper of record,” the Times last year forfeited its own reputation, and Haberman has been one of those most responsible for that forfeiture. And in response to Kelly's contemptible politicization of the death of an American soldier, Haberman proves that she hasn't yet scraped the bottom of her own barrel of sludge.

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Sgt. La David T. Johnson's widow Myeshia Johnson chose to have Congresswoman Frederica Wilson with her. That was her choice, and neither Kelly nor Haberman get to question that. Neither Kelly nor Haberman get to question Wilson for having been with Johnson. Unlike Trump, Wilson has a long history of public service, particularly to military families:

Wilson has deep roots in the South Florida community where Johnson grew up. Before entering Congress, she worked as a teacher, principal and school board member in the Miami-Dade area and served for more than a decade as a state legislator.

And her public service touched La David Johnson personally.

Categories: Politics

Day 19: Senate too busy on tax cuts for the rich to address children's health insurance expiration

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 17:09

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The majority of the Senate’s work this week has been focused on passing their budget resolution, the bill that sets their spending priorities, but more importantly gives them "instructions" that allow them to pass a massive tax cut for the rich with just 51 votes.

This, despite the fact that the Children's Health Insurance Program—which nearly 9 million children are enrolled in right now—expired on September 30. Despite the fact that it has thrown many state's budgets into turmoil, and that Minnesota is going to completely run out of funding in 12 days.

That makes this “Screw the Nation's Future Week” in the Senate, apparently. Not only are they malevolently neglecting an existing, critical program for children's health, but they're plotting how they can make their lives worse in the future with this budget/tax cuts bill.

Bar chart showing cuts in Medicaid, SNAP, and Rental assistance in Senate budget bill, and how many children would be harmed.

According to estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, households with children earning less than $75,000 would get just a $20 average tax cut in 2027 from the GOP tax framework released in late September, compared to a $200,000 tax cut for households with children earning $1 million or more.  And when Congress turns its attention to paying for those tax cuts, low- and middle-income families would lose far more in health care, food and housing assistance, and educational services that they need to thrive now and in the future.

They're not even pretending like the care about children at this point, except of course for the unborn ones. Once they're in the world, they can ignored.

Categories: Politics

Black activists unknowingly organized events for Russia, helping effort to create divisions in U.S.

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 16:58

While we anxiously await the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump and company’s ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, there is one thing about Russia that we know for sure: the Russian government tried to exploit America’s racial division and xenophobia in order to foment chaos and manipulate voter sentiments by using fake Facebook ads. 

But it turns out that they didn’t stop there. Russian troll farms also contacted black activists in order to convince them to organize events that they thought would further expand political strife, racial division, and controversy. 

Russia’s most infamous troll farm recruited US activists to help stage protests and organize self-defense classes in black communities as part of an effort to sow divisions in US society ahead of the 2016 election and well into 2017.

Four people contacted by what is believed to be the “American Department” of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency told BuzzFeed News that while they found their contacts strange, they never suspected that they were the target of foreign recruitment.

Under the guise of being a freelance reporter, someone by the name of Yan Big Davis contacted activists and told them he was writing for a site called BlackMattersUS. He requested interviews of several activists, all of whom were affiliated with doing community and organizing work with black Americans. Not only did Davis conduct strange interviews with them, he also wanted to know about specific cases and even convinced one person, Conrad James, to organize two rallies in North Carolina: one after the death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who was shot by police in September 2016, and another in October 2016, in conjunction with protests organized by the ACLU and NAACP.

According to emails seen by BuzzFeed News, Davis said he was writing for a site called BlackMattersUS, which had over 200,000 followers and focused “mostly on racism and police brutality themes.” In its report, based on interviews with current and former employees of the troll farm as well as a source close to its leadership and internal documents, RBC found that BlackMattersUS was linked to the Internet Research Agency.

The BlackMatters site, which is still up, features awkward language throughout. Its contact page tells those who would reach out, “You are exactly that person, who can help us to figure out not only the top stories, but also the events that are really important to an ordinary African-American.” The group did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment. 

This is bizarre and terrifying enough, but the trolling didn’t stop there.

Categories: Politics

'Stunned': Chief of staff Kelly jumps into Gold Star fray to scapegoat female member of Congress

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 16:48
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White House chief of staff John Kelly on Thursday said he was "stunned" by the uproar over Donald Trump's phone call to the grieving widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed earlier this month in Niger. Kelly then proceeded to scapegoat Congresswoman Frederica Wilson for violating the sacred trust of a president.

"It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation," said Kelly, a former four-star Marine General whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. "Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred."

Let's just start by acknowledging that Rep. Wilson is not the one who started this conversation. If Kelly is looking for the culprit, he can walk straight into the Oval Office, because it's Donald Trump who has turned patriotism into a political weapon. It was Trump who in trying to explain his failure to contact the families of four fallen soldiers fumbled his way into falsely accusing President Obama of never having called Gold Star families. It was Trump who dragged Kelly's son, Marine Second Lieutenant Robert Kelly, into the political spotlight by pointing out that Obama hadn't called Gen. Kelly following his son’s death. It was Trump who in trying to cover his butt following the blowback over his lies and politicization of the issue made the clumsy call to a grieving widow in which he relayed that her husband “knew what he was signing up for." It was Trump who then lied again, tweeting that Wilson had "totally fabricated" his unconscionable comments and said he had "proof" that she had done so.

Well, that "proof" dissolved into the exceedingly thin air occupying Trump's head and so the White House sent Gen. Kelly out to address America about a story their boss has stoked all week. We can only take that as confirmation that Wilson's initial characterization of what Trump said was 100 percent accurate.

For his part, Kelly explained from the White House podium that Trump, who had supposedly already been making these calls, asked Kelly what he should say when he reached out to these four families. Trump also asked him if President Obama had called him and he told Trump, no. Kelly then relayed what he told Trump about these phone calls with the clear intention of explaining the terribly mangled sentiments Trump eventually delivered. Kelly quoted the person who had informed him of his son's death in 2010, his close friend Gen. Joe Dunford.

Categories: Politics

Cartoon: Heckuva job, brownies!

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 16:04

Trump vs. Puerto Rico

Categories: Politics

This Week in Statehouse Action: You Give Laws A Bad Name edition

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 15:53

It’s not as hot as Virginia’s election action this fall, but New Jersey is also home to gubernatorial and state legislative elections next month. And while political rock star Barack Obama is rallying Virginia Democrats for Northam this week, actual rock star Jon Bon Jovi crooned for donors to New Jersey Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy’s campaign.

Blaze of Glory: But let’s take a step back from Nov. 7 and check out YET ANOTHER special election Democrats won this week.

  • On Tuesday, Democrat Paul Feeney won a swingy state Senate seat in Massachusetts, a victory he attributes to the fact that he stayed positive in this race, despite the negative and shady tactics deployed against him. 
    • Mail pieces compared Feeney to “rotten apples and a monkey eating money.”
    • A robocall interrupting voters watching last Sunday’s Patriots game purported to be from Feeney, but it was actually from a Republican group.

Feeney, an “unabashed progressive” who supports Medicare for all, replaces the most conservative Democrat in the Senate.

Campaign Action

Okay, back to Virginia!

Livin’ on a Prayer: The final pre-election finance reports have dropped in Virginia, and they’re chock full o’ good news for Democrats—and reasons for Republicans to appeal to higher powers for help.

  • Democrat (and Daily Kos endorsee) Ralph Northam out-raised GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie yet again, $7.2 million to $4.4 million, in the month of September. But a closer look at those numbers reveals an even more unfortunate situation for Gillespie than the raw totals indicate.
    • Almost half of Gillespie’s total—$2 million, specifically—came from the Republican Governors Association and its associated PAC, A Stronger Virginia ($1 million from each).
    • Meanwhile, only $1 million of Northam’s $7.2 million was donated by the Democratic Governors Association.
  • Even more troubling for Gillespie, however, is the respective number of small-dollar donors who gave less than $100 during September, a figure strongly indicative of grassroots enthusiasm.
    • Gillespie pulled in these low-dollar donations from 2,739 donors, while Northam’s grassroots supporters numbered 6,860 for the same period—two-and-a-half times as many.
Categories: Politics

'It’s confusing. There is no explanation': Some green card holders getting turned away from US Army

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 15:40

As a civilian and reality show host, Donald Trump sent out at least 60 tweets exploiting Benghazi, but when it comes to addressing the deadliest combat mission yet of his presidency, he’s preferred to discuss anything but the fact that he’s had time to golf five times in nine days but has failed to contact numerous Gold Star families. When he does manage to call, it’s been insulting. When he gets called out for it, he lies and blames Obama. Trump refused five times to serve his country in Vietnam, and now that he’s Nativist in Chief, the administration is obstructing green card holders who do want to step up where he didn’t:

The U.S. Army has stopped enlisting some immigrants who are legal permanent residents while mandating lengthy delays for others, part of a controversial effort across the military to tighten security in the ranks by subjecting foreign-born recruits to tougher background checks.

Implemented late last week, the new policy halts indefinitely all enlistments involving green-card holders seeking to join the Army Reserve and National Guard, which is a part-time military service commitment. Green-card holders seeking to become full-time soldiers remain eligible to enlist in the active-duty Army, but they are no longer allowed to start basic training before their background checks are complete — a process that could take a year or more.

“The Pentagon defends this and related measures implemented in recent months, claiming they’re necessary to prevent terrorists and foreign agents from infiltrating the American military,” notes the Washington Post. But, “the Pentagon has not disclosed any examples of legitimate threats stemming from immigrant recruits.”

“It looks like we’re now afraid of foreigners in the military. And that means mission failure,” said Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer who helped start a military program that has allowed thousands of immigrants to serve and eventually earn citizenship. “If you’re going to be deployed in more than 100 countries to fight a global war, you can’t be afraid of foreigners.”

Categories: Politics