Midday open thread: Raise the Wage Act would help black workers most; a substitute for Trump's wall?

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:00

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is The Revolver:

Cartoon by Mark Fiore

What’s coming up on Sunday Kos:

  • Are we a democracy or are we a monarchy, by Ian Reifowitz
  • We must take back our wealth from the super-rich methodically before it is too late, by Egberto Willies 
  • I used to be a "centrist" Democrat, by Frank Vyan Walton 
  • Rich guy says taxing rich guys is wrong, by Mark E Andersen 
  • The 2020 Trump strategy, and why scandal is our own worst enemy, by David Akadjian 
  • I’m a billionaire and I’m running for president, by Jon Perr
  • Here's our ultimate Democratic wishlist for Senate in 2020. Who's on yours? by Steve Singiser 
  • The 2020 electorate will be more diverse than ever, by Sher Watts Spooner 
  • I refuse to honor George Washington, and other 'founders' who enslaved, and sold human beings, by Denise Oliver Velez 

Cost of phone calls from Illinois’ jails 50 times more than from its prisons:

When you’re thrown behind bars, not much is more important than a phone call. And while a lot of attention has been paid to the exorbitant rates and hidden fees of phone calls from federal and state prisons, the cost of calling from city and county jails remains largely unchecked, preventing many prisoners—the majority of whom are pre-trial—from communicating with loved ones or lawyers.

According to a new report this week from the nonprofit research organization Prison Policy Initiative, the average cost of a phone call from jail is over three times as much as one from prison. In some states, it’s much higher than that: In Michigan, a 15-minute call from jail could cost as much as $22, whereas that call from state prison would come out to just under $2.50. In Illinois, a typical jail call is over 50 times more expensive than a call from state prison.

Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation tried save the Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Katrina: It built 109 new homes there. But many are flawed in design, construction, and materials, one so bad it had to be demolished. One publication said, “Make It Right seems to have made it blight.” What happened?



Group of engineers and scientists propose building solar, wind, natural gas, and water infrastructure instead of a wall on southern border:

Here’s an idea: Instead of an endless, inert wall along the U.S.–Mexico border, line the boundary with 2,000 miles of natural gas, solar and wind power plants. Use some of the energy to desalinate water from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean and ship it through pipelines to thirsty towns, businesses and new farms along the entire border zone. Hire hundreds of thousands of people from both countries to build and run it all. Companies would make money and provide security to safeguard their assets. A contentious, costly no-man’s-land would be transformed into a corridor of opportunity. [...]

The idea is more than a pipe dream. A consortium of 27 engineers and scientists from a dozen U.S. universities has developed a plan. Last week they delivered it to three U.S. representatives and one senator. “Let’s put the best scientists and engineers together to create a new way to deal with migration, trafficking—and access to water. These are regions of severe drought,” says Luciano Castillo, a professor of energy and power at Purdue University who leads the group. “Water supply is a huge future issue for all the states along the border in both countries.”

Andrew McCabe’s new book portrays Jefferson B. Sessions III as incompetent racist: While that description is a mild one by progressive standards, it’s always good to hear some details. Former FBI Deputy Director McCabe described several interactions with then-Attorney General Sessions, citing him saying: “Back in the old days, he said, you all only hired Irishmen. They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos.” 

Economic Policy Institute analyzes the Raise the Wage Act of 2019By raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, 40 million American workers would get a pay boost. And it would disproportionately increase the wages of all black workers by 38.1 percent and 23.2 percent of all white workers. African Americans would benefit more because they are more likely to be employed in jobs currently paying less than the proposed new minimum wage and less likely to work in states or regions that have passed a state minimum wage higher than the current federal minimum:

Just as black workers were significantly overrepresented in the industrial sectors originally excluded from [federal] minimum wage coverage [in 1938], black workers today are significantly overrepresented in states that have not raised their minimum wages as the purchasing power of the federal minimum has eroded. In both instances, these were intentional policy decisions rooted—at least in part—in indifference if not outright hostility toward black workers. 

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Categories: Politics

Trump is finally figuring out that he's a loser

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:54

Donald Trump and his father Fred dedicated much of their lives united in a singular cause: Creating the illusion that the Dons was an absolute winner in life in every respect. He had the money, the business acumen, the ladies—it was such an all-consuming pursuit of glory that Trump appears to actually believe in the facade they built over decades. 

That winning narrative, given a considerable electoral boost by Russia, carried right into Trump's first term as pr*sident. With an entirely GOP-controlled Congress, Trump faced no opposition, no calling to account, and his victor fantasy was allowed to flourish to some extent, despite the fact that he only logged one legislative win in his first two years of office.

But Trump's utterly embarrassing defeat this week on his chief campaign promise marked an end to Trump's delusions of grandeur. Stripped of the endless advantages that his daddy's money has bought him his entire life and forced to play on a level playing field with an oppositional party led by a woman, Trump is getting eaten alive. And what's clear from the Washington Post’s reporting of his reactions to getting little more than a pittance for border fencing in the budget deal is that Trump, faced with his own inadequacies, is losing it. 

After being briefed on the deal Thursday and realizing what a humiliating failure it represented, Trump threatened to torpedo the entire measure just before voting began on it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who'd already spent the week on the horn with Trump, was called into action once again to shower him with soothing lies that Democrats had actually lost the battle. After logging three "nerve-racking" calls with Trump, McConnell ultimately promised to pledge his support for Trump's national emergency—something he had repeatedly advised against—in exchange for an assurance Trump would sign the bill. The White House counsel's office later bolstered McConnell's effort by promising Trump that signing the legislation wouldn't preclude him from using his executive powers to get more money.

Categories: Politics

Quote of the Day: Emergency? What Emergency?

Kevin Drum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:50

From President Trump on the $6 billion he’s going to take from the military to build his wall:

I said, “What were you going to use it for?” And I won’t go into details, but it didn’t sound too important to me.

Good to know! But really, this is the most important thing Trump said:

I could do the wall over a longer period of time, I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster….The only reason we’re up here talking about this is because of the election, because they want to try and win an election which it looks like they’re not going to be able to do. And this is one of the ways they think they can possibly win is by obstruction and a lot of other nonsense. And I think that I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.

I assume this will be Exhibit A in the lawsuits that will be brought against Trump’s declaration of emergency. “I didn’t need to do this,” he said, and with that the game is up. Congress explicitly refused to appropriate the money he wanted, and he thinks this is just an election ploy. It’s hard to see how any judge can agree that this is a true emergency in the face of this admission on national TV.

Categories: Politics

AOC and Joaquin Castro promise a resolution to terminate Trump’s idiotic ‘national emergency'

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:48

Even as reports began to filter out on Thursday that Donald Trump would likely agree to sign off on a bipartisan bill to keep the government from shutting down, Trump’s gang of miserable racists also floated the rumor that he would declare a national emergency in order to fund his dumb wall. With that in mind, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) announced that he was ready to present a congressional resolution that would terminate Trump’s national emergency declaration.

“Historically, Presidents have declared national emergencies for urgent matters of national security. President Trump would unconstitutionally usurp congressional authority by declaring an emergency based upon unfounded hype rather than any substantive emergency. Border crossings are lower than they have been in four decades. There are more law enforcement officers at the border—some stationed there simply to make good on politicians’ anti-immigrant rhetoric—than ever before. Further, such a baseless declaration by President Trump would set a dangerous precedent regarding the constitutional balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches.”

Bloomberg News reports that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has signed on as a co-sponsor of the resolution.


The Washington Post explains that the resolution would be discussed in the House, and then would likely make its way to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might find himself trying very hard to keep some soon-to-be-campaigning Republican senators on board for what is clearly a waste of power and resources.

There are people trying to make America a better place.

Categories: Politics

Stacey Abrams Tells Seth Meyers: Resist Trump But Don't Take Him Seriously

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:45

Stacey Abrams has a recipe for avoiding the pitfalls of the State of the Union response speech, specifically needing to take a drink of water as Marco Rubio did not so long ago.

"I hydrated early, and wore a moisturizing but not glistening lipstick." said Abrams.

She also put the most difficult part of her speech up front, wishing her audience the tongue twister of a 'happy Lunar New Year."

When it comes to Trump's Declaration of a "National Emergency," Abrams was serious about not taking Trump or any of his temper tantrums seriously.

“We validate his behavior by treating it as serious. What we should treat it as fraudulent and fraught with egotism."

The correct way to deal with this man-baby? “Sue him, let him lose, and don’t give him the credibility of treating this as serious.”

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Categories: Politics

Supreme Court agrees to review case regarding adding citizenship question to U.S. census

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:26

Republican former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has always been keen on voter suppression, pushing voter ID laws, whacking people from the voter rolls, and pushing a law that required people registering to vote to prove their citizenship. In 2011, Sam Brownback, who was then the state’s Republican governor, signed Kobach’s Kansas Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act, which, among other things, mandated that Kansas voters prove they are U.S. citizens. In 2013-2015, 36,000 Kansans had their registrations placed in a suspense file because they couldn’t immediately prove they were citizens. 

Kobach has also been heavily involved in pushing to add the citizenship question to the U.S. census. He said in 2018 that he had raised the issue with Donald Trump shortly after his inauguration. In March 2018, despite strong objections from Democrats, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added the question for the 2020 census. Litigation ensued to stop it.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court said it will take up the matter in a review of a case decided against Ross by a district court judge. The court’s ruling could have a tremendous impact on how many people refuse to answer census questions next year. And those uncounted people could reduce Democratic representation in Congress when districts are redrawn and affect how billions of dollars of federal money are distributed to the states.

Categories: Politics

It's A National Emergency, Now Off To The Golf Course

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:21

Crossposted from Mock Paper Scissors: Just give him the money, and no one gets hurt!

Well, fellow hostages, by the time I post this, Comrade Stupid will have declared his National Emergency for the emergency that he created at the border, after signing some sort of bill that avoids the other national emergency that he created. And then he goes to Merde-a-Lardo to recover from all that work.

The man works his tiny fingers to the bone.


“The upshot is that any attempt by Trump to get around Congress by using invented emergency powers would violate the Constitution. It almost certainly would be blocked by the courts. And it would constitute a high crime and misdemeanor qualifying him for impeachment.”

Silly Bloomberg! Obeying the law has never been important to Hair Füror.

Reliable Sources email thingie point us to Tiger Beat’s conservative editor, Matt Latimer:

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Categories: Politics

Groups sue Trump admin over policy forcing vulnerable asylum seekers to return to Mexico

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:05

The Trump administration’s inhumane and illegal policy forcing asylum seekers to return to Mexico to wait out their cases will undoubtedly cost lives. Just weeks ago—and just days before the U.S. announced the “Migration Protection Protocols” policy—two Honduras teens who were a part of the so-called migrant caravan were murdered in Tijuana. Now, a coalition of leading groups is suing

“This new policy severely undermines the very purpose of our asylum system,” said Blaine Bookey,  of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, “endangering rather than safeguarding the lives of our individual plaintiffs and others fleeing persecution.” The group, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers who have been forced into Mexico.

One plaintiff, a Honduran man identified as “Ian Doe” for his own safety, is a former police officer who worked undercover to stop drug trafficking. But when his identity was revealed, he fled for his life. Mistaking him for Ian, drug traffickers then killed his brother. Now, after being forcibly removed to Tijuana by the Trump administration, Ian continues to fear for his life.

This comes as the administration has illegally blocked asylum seekers at U.S. ports of entry in a process called “metering,” where agents allow as few as 20 people a day to exercise their right to ask for asylum at the border. Thousands of others are then left to wait weeks, sometimes months for their turn. The only crisis at the border is the treatment of families by our government.

The fact is that the administration’s “Migration Protection Protocol” is anything but protection. It’s a logistical nightmare that will put already vulnerable people in further danger. “This is no longer just a war on asylum seekers, it’s a war on our system of laws,” said Melissa Crow, an attorney in Innovation Law Lab v. Nielsen. “This misguided policy deprives vulnerable individuals of humanitarian protections that have been on the books for decades and puts their lives in jeopardy.”

Categories: Politics

Who's The Real President, Coulter, Limbaugh, Or Hannity?

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 14:05

Not since Woodrow Wilson lay in the White House in a near coma from a stroke have we had such a weak so-called president.

On Friday's CNN's New Day, David Axelrod didn't sugarcoat it: "Any time an Ann Coulter or a Rush Limbaugh or his buddy Hannity complain, [Trump] shrivels into the fetal position."

Categories: Politics

Trump’s made-up immigrant murder rate doesn’t come close to deaths from gun violence and overdoses

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:57

Donald Trump has declared a national emergency for a fake crisis at our southern border. His No. 1 sticking point is that undocumented immigrants are coming into our country and committing crime. More specifically, they are committing heinous, gang-related acts of murder, rape, and mayhem. The numbers and the data he cites in his speeches are not simply wrong: They do not exist. Even his own government and the agencies he claims to be getting his evidence from produce completely different facts than their bigot in chief. When Trump first began drumming up his fake border crisis months ago, he would throw around that “63,000 Americans have been killed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks by people who came to the U.S. illegally.” 

Besides being a false statistic, it pales in comparison to the number of Americans killed by firearms—just last year. The New York Times reported in December that almost 40,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2017, a historic 50-year high. 2018 saw the worst year in school shootings that our country has on record. Just this February, The Trace and the Miami Herald released an accounting of children killed by guns since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Data collected by youth reporters found that almost 1,200 American children ages 0-18 were killed by guns in the last 12 months.

In December, the CDC reported that more than 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017. That’s just one year. Trump’s fake 63,000 “Americans killed” number—WHICH IS A FAKE NUMBER—covers 17 years! There are reasons to declare a national emergency in order to give much-needed funds to American institutions, but those institutions should not build walls and imprison families. The American institiutions that need national support provide mental healthcare, education, training, and safety to some of our most desperate friends and loved ones. Whether it’s from gun violence, domestic violence, or addiction, we have real public health and safety issues in our country, and a make-believe wall isn’t simply racist and stupid, it’s a waste of much-needed resources.

Categories: Politics

Chris Wallace: Trump's Lawyers 'Are Going To Shake Their Heads' Over 'Emergency'

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:57

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace told Fox News that Donald's lawyers' heads must have exploded when Trump said he could have built the wall without the money he demanded in his so-called "national emergency" declaration, "but wanted to do it faster."

I wrote about this earlier. Trump destroyed his own rationale for declaring a "National Emergency" by saying he could have built the wall by not using his executive powers.

America's Newsroom host Bill Hemmer toed the party line by calling Trump's off-the-wall and angry presser a "tour de force."

Fox News played some video from the top of Trump's presser and Smith reiterated his words saying, "He's going to get this done one way or another."

Wallace said, "He's certainly gonna try." After laying out Trump's vision of his words, Chris said, "He's not the only voice in this." Wallace understands that the courts will have to render a decision on a sitting president usurping Congressional powers.

Wallace then got to a very serious point.

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Categories: Politics

Things Other Than This Bullshit Open Thread

Balloon Juice - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:51

You know which bullshit I’m talking about.

I’m a little more aggro than normal right now because the expert consultant we’ve hired is being mad condescending, and I definitely don’t have it in me to read more about… this bullshit.

Some folks have been asking how Samwise is adjusting:

Would that we all could be so well-adjusted.

Open thread!

Categories: Politics

EVERYTHING IS FINE- Pay No Attention to the Frothing Lunatic

Balloon Juice - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:24

For a couple of months I have basically been doing a tv news embargo- I basically will watch a little bit of the local news (especially since the WV Legislature is in session) to catch the weather, although around here the river and valleys make things pretty difficult to predict- basically if they say snow you can expect between a dusting and twelve inches because there really is never an accurate prediction. At any rate, this means I have not really seen Trump speak for a couple months, other than your random clip here or there. I didn’t watch the SOTU so I didn’t see him them.

There are a few reasons for this, one is to keep my blood pressure down- cable news if consumed in quantity can make you manic. The other is because I liked to read, I’m a very fast reader, and the information density in articles is just so much higher. It’s just easier to read for three minutes and get what I would from 20 minutes of tv and not have to listen to fucking Trump. I mean, I love Rachel Maddow, but sweet mother of God you ask her what time it is and she will tell you how to build a clock. It takes 32 minutes of teases to get to the fucking nut graf and then it’s some shit you already new because you saw the breaking news from Buzzfeed on twitter 2 hours ago. It’s like sitting on the edge of the bed being told how good the sex is going to be for so long you just fall asleep before anything happens.

At any rate, the reason I tell you this is I just watched Trump’s press conference in which he declared a national emergency for an existential crisis and then noted that he “didn’t have to do this.” At any rate, what stood out to me was “SWEET FANCY MOSES THIS GUY IS INSANE AND UNHINGED.”

This is not a new revelation- I mean I have known he was nucking futz for quite some time. But going a few months with our hearing half words dribble out his rancid piehole and then watching that spectacle today was just jarring. It’s alarming how we’ve all just been normalized to him being a madman. I mean, he’s fucking certifiable.

If you watched Trump today and it was the first time you had ever seen him, you’d think either “holy shit this episode of VEEP is some inspired writing” or “when did they reboot the Office?” I mean, you woldn’t let someone like that run your boy scout troop. Or a fucking McDonalds.

Jesus tapdancing christ.

Categories: Politics

The Last Days Of The American Empire…Soft Power Edition

Balloon Juice - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:16

I’m working on an column about, among other things, the arc of federal support for science since World War II.  As I was trying not to think about our national emergency national emergency this morning, I tripped over the following thought…

The funding deal Pelosi, McConnell et al. worked out included $1.375 billion for new barrier construction along the border (not, technically, a or the wall). That’s a win for the Democrats and a defeat for Trump, as it’s a tiny fraction of the amount that the bigot-in-chief sought, and that would be necessary to truly fortify the frontier.  For what follows I’m going to ignore the faux emergency through which the would-be dictator seeks to seize other money to pay for some useless shit, and just look at that number.

So, what makes for a powerful country?  I’d argue that the ability to project force around the world is in many  ways the least significant part of it.  Certainly, in a globally connected world, with the full range of surveillance technology and so forth, the notion of using technology perfected by, say, 1400 or so, overlapping fortifications, to keep folks out is…

Shit stupid.

US power since the middle of the last century has certainly been headlined by the military; but our capacity to influence life at home and abroad on a daily basis, in the hour-by-hour experience of billions, has turned on everything else, from our cultural impact (jeans! Rock and roll!) to, crucially and perhaps most significantly, the scientific, medical and technological revolutions fostered by the American research community.

That’s what got me going about even the seemingly de minimus amount of barrier funding in the spending bill.

The NIH budget for 2019 is $39.3 billion. In constant dollars, that’s nine percent below the peak funding achieved in 2003.  About 80% of that money goes to research grants — so just shy of $32 billion pays for folks to address all the ills that befall Americans, and citizens of the world.  For FY 2018 the National Science Foundation received $6.334 billion for research related activities.* *There are, of course, other significant pots of research money in the federal budget — DoD, DoE and Commerce all fund a lot.  But the NSF is where curiosity-driven basic research gets its support, and the NIH is, of course, the one that as we all age we notice a lot, so that’s where I’m focusing this exercise in futile rage.

A first, obvious point. The money spent on the barrier would add more than twenty percent to recent NSF research budgets, and would represent a four percent boost to the NIH.

Within those numbers these factoids: the average research project grant at NIH in 2017 provided a skosh over $500,000 to award winners. The NSF funds such a wide range of projects and disciplines that the figures are a little opaque, but still, as of 2016, the average grant offered an annualized $177,100, while the median figure was $140,900 per year.

You can see where this is going.  That barrier money could fund almost 2,800 more principal investigators trying to figure out cancer, Alzheimers, antiobiotic resistance and all the rest.  It could pay for more than 12,000 researchers pursuing basic science — the kinds of questions with pay offs that can’t be anticipated, but that have, over the last century, utterly transformed the way humans live on earth.

FTR: I do know that budgets don’t work as sort of implied above. They’re political documents, so spending on foolish stuff is often the price to be paid to spend some on smart ideas.  If we somehow avoid pouring a billion plus into  holes in the ground along the Rio Grande, that money doesn’t readily flow to a lab.  But the exercise is worth doing anyway, if only to point out how little, in budget terms, it would take to turbo charge research in this country.

The reasons for doing so extend beyond the value of knowledge for its own sake, of course, there’s the economic benefits of scientific research. There is an open argument about the size of the multiplier for each dollar invested in basic research, though less controversy about the benefits of investing in more translational or directly motivated work of the sort that shows up in many/most NIH proposals, for example. But the bottom line is that trying to figure out how nature works is good for the national (and global) bottom line.

Instead, we’re buying bollards.

And that’s how the American century ends.

Not with a catastrophic collapse, but the decision to put our national treasure to work in dumbest possible fashion, leaving aspiration, well being and wealth on the table.

With that — I’m done, and you’re up. Open thread.

*There are, of course, other significant pots of research money in the federal budget — DoD, DoE and Commerce all fund a lot.  But the NSF is where curiosity-driven basic research gets its support, and the NIH is, of course, the one that as we all age we notice a lot, so that’s where I’m focusing this exercise in futile rage.

Image: Vincent van Gogh, The Ramparts of Paris1887

Categories: Politics

U.S.-born Latinas, harassed by border agent for speaking Spanish while grocery shopping, sue

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:15

Campaign Action

Mimi Hernandez and Ana Suda, the two U.S.-born Latinas who were illegally targeted by an out-of-control federal immigration agent after he eavesdropped on them speaking Spanish while shopping for eggs and milk at a Montana convenience store, are suing Customs and Border Protection (CBP). “Like millions of others,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement, “Ana and Mimi refuse to accept an out-of-control CBP as a fact of life. “

The United States has no official language, not that it matters, because people have a right to speak whatever language they fucking please in their daily lives. But Border Patrol officer Paul O'Neal decided not to mind his own business last May when he was in line behind Ana and Mimi and overheard them speaking Spanish: He demanded to know where they were born and to see their identification. 

“He detained them by his patrol car, in full view of neighbors, for an extended period before finally letting them return to their homes and families,” the ACLU continued. “Ana and Mimi walked away from the interaction humiliated and afraid that they might again be stopped, detained, and interrogated at any time. When Ana and Mimi asked why they were being held, he answered unequivocally: Because they were speaking Spanish.”

Suda, a nursing assistant, said the repercussions from the incident continue to this day. She’s been harassed by people since going public, and her 8-year-old daughter is now scared to speak Spanish. “In some ways, it would have just been easier to stay quiet about the incident,” she said. “Maybe life would have gone back to normal, but then I think about my kids. I want them to not only be proud of being bilingual, but I also want them to know that they live in a country where people can’t just be stopped and interrogated based on how they look and sound.”

Categories: Politics

On Colbert, Pete Buttigieg Calls Mike Pence 'Fanatical'

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:08

South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg gave a good interview with Stephen Colbert on Thursday, and he had a thing or two to say about the current so-called president and his vice.

Colbert asked Mayor Pete about his lack of experience, noting that it's a big leap from small city mayor to the White House: "That's not as big a leap as reality show host to president. But it is a big leap, you'll admit." said Colbert.

Buttigieg had no apologies for his resume: "I have more experience in government than the president, I have more executive experience than the vice president, I have more military experience than anyone to arrive at that desk since George H.W. Bush.”

Buttigieg would be the first openly gay president, and Colbert noted his own pleasure at societal progress, that Buttigieg's sexual orientation was "the third thing I learned about you." That brought the discussion to former Indiana governor Mike Pence. As an Indiana mayor, Buttigieg has worked with Pence in the past.

"He's nice," Buttigieg said. "If he were here you would think he's a nice guy to your face, but he's also just fanatical. He seems to think the universe was created a few thousand years ago and that people like me get up in the morning and decide to be gay. And the thing about it is, if that was a choice, it was a choice that was made way above my pay grade. ...What he doesn't realize is that his quarrel is with my creator. My marriage has moved me closer to God, and I wish he respected that."

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Categories: Politics

Imports Are Getting Cheaper

Kevin Drum - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:05

I have no real reason to post this, but I thought two or three of you might be interested. Here is the inflation rate of goods (ex fuel) imported into the United States:

This is basically the equivalent of the CPI except only for imported goods. Imports feed into the CPI, so this is one reason why inflation has been declining for the past half year or so.

Categories: Politics

Democrats saved butterfly sanctuary from Trump’s wall, but Trump might come for it anyway

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:38

On Feb. 14 it was reported that a federal judge had dismissed the North American Butterfly Association’s lawsuit against the Trump administration, also also nullifying a temporary restraining order filed earlier this week. However, elected officials have been paying attention, and while the House and Senate negotiated their border security funding package, one Democrat decided to add some important language about the issue to the bill.

According to the Texas Tribune, Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar says he was able to add language to the bill that would prohibit “fencing at five major landmarks in the Rio Grande Valley.” Those landmarks are the 100-acre National Butterfly Center preserve; the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and birdwatching site; the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge (already technically protected in last year’s budget); the La Lomita historic Catholic chapel, which had been fighting the border wall and losing; and a section of land that has been earmarked to become the SpaceX transportation company’s “commercial spaceport.”

The excitement over this revelation was short-lived, as the Trump administration is now arguing that, with Trump’s national emergency declaration, all bets are off, telling the Wall Street Journal that the restrictions only to apply to the $1.375 billion appropriated in that spending package, and that the other $6.625 billion could be used without those restrictions.” The Trump administration has been as opaque about where it actually plans to build this wall, but places like the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge may offer up fewer legal hurdles than would private property.

H/T to nickrud for the good news!

H/T to me for the bad news. :(

Categories: Politics

Trump's national emergency declaration came over strong opposition from voters

Daily Kos - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:28

Donald Trump has been threatening to declare a national emergency for a while now in his pursuit of border wall funding. It’s been long enough, in fact, for pollsters to find out what the public thinks about Trump’s plan, which he made official Friday morning. So we know that, like so many other Trump plans, declaring a national emergency to build a wall is very, very unpopular.

FiveThirtyEight put together the polls:

Table of polling on a national emergency for border wall funding, showing strong opposition.

That right there is a high of 34 percent approval for the idea, and a low of 64 percent disapproval. Approval or support ranges from 31 percent to 34 percent, and disapproval or opposition ranges from 64 percent to 66 percent—so polling has been remarkably consistent, and people really don’t want Trump to do the thing he just did. Not that that has ever stopped him.

Categories: Politics

Trump Admits Declaring A National Emergency On Border Was A Hoax: 'I Didn't Need To Do This'

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:23

During a crazy press conference where he announced he'd sign the bipartisan spending deal and then call a national emergency to get funds he wants to build his wall, Trump blew his reasons for declaring a national emergency and admitted he didn't have to do it at all.

NBC's Pete Alexander asked Trump about his hypocrisy when President Obama used executive actions to run the country.

"You said you are supposed to go through Congress and make a deal. Will you concede you were unable to make the deal that you had promised in the past and the deal you are ending up with now from Congress is less than what you could have had before a thirty-five day shutdown?"

Trump gaslit the country during his response saying, "I went through Congress..." He then made believe that what he did receive was so much better than the original deal offered in December, but it was not.

"In fact, the primary fight was over the wall. Everything else, I don't know what to do with it we have so much money. but on the wall, they skimped."

And then he admitted he just called for a national emergency to bypass Congress and acquire the funds he needs because he was impatient.

"I was successful in that sense but I want to do it faster," Trump said. "I can do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster."

That is not a NATIONAL EMERGENCY. That is an egomaniac's excuse to get what he wants.

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Categories: Politics