Politics

Repubs in Disarray!… Open Thread: Lee Atwater Wept

Balloon Juice - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 20:39

The ‘smart’ ones don’t mind the racism, of course, but they wish the Oval Office Squatter could be a little more discreet in front of the media kiddies…

Categories: Politics

Crowd Gives Rep. Ilhan Omar A Hero's Welcome

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 20:34

It's been quite a day for Rep. Ilhan Omar, in what has already been quite a week. On Monday she faced-down the vile and repugnant president of the United States over his racist comments. And today, after Trump racheted up the "send her back" talk even more at a campaign rally last night, the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan spent much of the day trending at #1 on twitter.

Source: Star Tribune

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar was engulfed in a crowd of cheering supporters Thursday at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a loud counterpoint to a turbulent week in Congress where she came under a sustained rhetorical assault from President Donald Trump and his supporters.

More than 100 people filled the baggage claim area with songs, signs and chants of “welcome home Ilhan,” providing a stark contrast to chants of “send her back” that reverberated through a Trump rally in North Carolina just a day before. In brief remarks, a defiant Omar vowed to “continue to be a nightmare to our president, because his policies are a nightmare to us.”

“We are not deterred, we are not frightened, we are ready. We are in the ring,” Omar said before departing for a town hall in south Minneapolis. “We are in the peoples’ house and we are going to continue to fight it until we have the America we know we all deserve.”

read more

Categories: Politics

Undocumented Workers Make Up 3% of the Total US Population

Kevin Drum - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 20:34

Just to remind everyone, here is the long-term context for illegal immigration across our southern border:

Right now we’re all obsessed with the spike in asylum claims at the border, and that’s a serious problem that deserves our attention. But in terms of overall numbers, it’s a drop in the bucket. When the smoke has finally cleared, it’s unlikely that the current asylum crisis will change the number on the right by more than a tenth of a percentage point. In other words, 3.3 percent of the population instead of 3.2 percent.

This is not a huge problem. It just isn’t.

Categories: Politics

Racetrack Deaths at Santa Anita Were . . . Not Bad Last Year

Kevin Drum - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 19:29

This has nothing to do with anything at the moment, but I happened to run across the data for horse racing deaths in California this morning. Here are the numbers for Santa Anita racetrack:

Over the past few months I must have read at least a dozen stories about the enormous death toll at Santa Anita this season and the desperate search to figure out what was happening. Not once did I see this chart or anything like it. As near as I can tell, what was happening was: nothing. There were a total of 30 racing and training deaths, which was down from 37 the year before, which was down from 54 the year before that, which was down from 57 the year before that. Fatalities have also been declining relative to the number of starts, as the chart above shows.

So why was there suddenly such a huge fuss this year? And why did virtually no reporting about it include context like this?

More here, including this longer-term chart:

Categories: Politics

I’ve Been To A Mountaintop…

Balloon Juice - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 18:46

Mauna Kea, to be precise — several times.  I’ve shot parts of three films there, all centered on the telescopes atop the highest mountain on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  As you may have noticed, the mountain — and a new telescope — have been in the news lately:

Construction was set to begin this week on a giant telescope on the barren summit of Mauna Kea, a volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, considered the best observatory site in the Northern Hemisphere.

That would be the Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT, a project that originated with the same team that built the twin ten meter Keck telescopes that were the largest optical telescopes in the world from 1993 to 2009. (They’ve since been pipped by the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), atop the Canary Islands.) Astronomers and designers from Caltech and the University of California system, later joined by other partners set out to build the TMT as one of the next generation of ‘scopes aiming to explore some of the fundamental questions of astronomy, many of which were raised by discoveries made by the current generation of ginormous light buckets. That would be stuff like deeper investigations of the large scale structure of the cosmos, maybe image of planet formation around distant stars, certainly black hole inquiry and much more.

The TMT project was launched with great confidence.  The problems its leaders anticipated were technical: how to construct an light-gathering area and/or an optical pipeline that large that holds its shape, that doesn’t mind temperature shifts, that can be morphed on demand to adjust for turbulence in the air above it and so on, through a whole host of very tricking engineering issues.

But there was never any real doubt about the right place to put this instrument, or of the project’s access to the summit of Mauna Kea, which, after all, already played host to more than a dozen other observatories.  (I know this, because I talked to those in charge of the project at the time of its inception, many of whom had appeared in one or another of my films.)

They were wrong. Last week, after years of delays, some negotiations, and, by now, mistrust and more on the Hawai’ian activist side, the state governor announced that the project had cleared its last hurdles and construction would begin.  This week, protestors blocked the one access road to the summit and the observatories brought their people off the mountain.  At first, law enforcement was on the scene, but there were no direct confrontations.  That changed yesterday:

On Wednesday, that opposition had a new face: About 30 Hawaiian elders were arrested as they blocked a road leading to Mauna Kea’s summit to halt the construction, organizers said. They described an emotional but peaceful scene as the elders, who were sitting under tents on the road, were escorted by police officers to nearby white vans while dozens of other protesters chanted and cried. Some had to be carried.

“We have come to the point in time where enough is enough,” Leilani Kaapuni, one of the elders, said in a phone interview. She said she was arrested for obstruction of a government road but later returned to the blockade. “This mountain is sacred,” she said.

If I had to guess, I’d expect this to end in a loss for the protests. There’s a lot of momentum behind the TMT, and a ton of money involved — and there’s a huge investment in cash and intellectual possibilities in the existing observatories that would probably be lost if the new instrument didn’t make it to the mountain. Money and power talk, so I’d bet the Hawai’ian state authorities will muscle this through — and likely with the support of plenty of citizens of the state (though I’d bet many fewer among those Hawai’ians of original Hawai’ian descent).

Visible protest against the telescopes will be much more difficult if/when the TMT goes in, as the almost all the action of high altitude astronomy now takes place far from its mountain tops.  The Mauna Kea observatories have the headquarters well away from the summit.  Those astronomers doing science with the telescope, if they aren’t looking at a truly remote feed back to their offices back home, get no closer than the cattle town of Waimea, miles away and more than 10,000 feet in vertical distance away from anything a mere observer could break.

Those using the TMT wouldn’t see, that is, the kinds of protests going on now.  And the question of who has power over sacred spaces of interest to the dominant culture will be answered again, in the same way it has been almost every time these conflicts come up.

I should say that I’m an astronomy lover. I find the science that the TMT could do to be fascinating and utterly beautiful.  But man-o-man, have the leaders of that project botched this dispute for years. I do not know how you now get this project i any way that acknowledges and accommodates the claims of the disempowered first residents of the island.  But I do know that failure will have consequences; human goods — which scientific discoveries certainly are — achieved by the destruction of other goods are tainted.

I’ll leave you with the text of an article I wrote for The Boston Globe on this same subject four years ago.  Looking back, I can’t say I’m surprised that the astronomical community didn’t find a way to connect to its opposition.  But I am saddened by that fact.

Images:  Johannes Vermeer, The Astronomerc. 1668

US Air Force file photo, Air Force 1 over Mt. Rushmore, 10 February 2001.

AT 13,796 FEET, Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii is the tallest point in the Pacific Ocean. It’s a confounding place. Like the Grand Canyon, it takes a surprising amount of time simply to believe your eyes. The summit and the valley immediately below the top are barren stretches of red-black rock. It’s hard not to think of Mars.

But then — at least for me, on my first visit in 1991 — the view opens up. Look north across the strait between the Big Island and Maui and there’s Haleakala, the next giant volcano in the chain. To the south, Mauna Kea’s twin, Mauna Loa, bulks across half the sky. West, past the golf courses and beach hotels of the Kohala coast, there’s nothing but the broad Pacific — on a clear day, a   sheet of utterly, impossibly cobalt blue stretching to the edge of the earth.

No mere photograph prepares you for first sight on Mauna Kea. For me, the experience was shot through with two truths: how almost impossibly small each of us is within the natural world — and how utterly interconnected that world is, to itself and to each infinitesimal self peering though it.

Look at the peak rather than from it, though, and the scene shifts. Mauna Kea possesses a unique combination of attributes: usually clear skies, high   altitude, stable air, almost no light pollution. The first astronomical observatory appeared on the mountaintop in 1970, a gleaming white dome visible for miles. In the 45 years since, the near-perfect observing conditions have brought a flock of telescopes to land on and just below the summit ridge, 13 in all, including the two largest optical instruments now in use.

Astronomers are not the only ones to prize Mauna Kea, however. The   mountain is sacred within the native Hawaiian tradition, a home for gods and the junction between the earth and the sky. There are ancient burial sites, and more than 140 shrines have been found so far. To this day, the mountain remains a focus of Hawaiian spiritual practice.

Even so, for most of the last half century, the observatory complex has expanded in the face of only seemingly minor objections from local communities. But Mauna Kea’s proposed 14th telescope has changed all that.

The dispute over the Thirty Meter Telescope — the TMT — has been simmering for some time, but it finally came to wider media attention on   April 2, when a dozen activists were arrested for blocking construction crews below the summit. Work at the building site has since been suspended, and the protest movement has spread, perhaps most significantly, into social media. Last week, Hawaii’s governor endorsed construction of the TMT, with the caveat that 25 percent of the existing telescopes on the site be removed.

Perhaps inevitably, the dispute has been framed as the latest skirmish in the long-running campaign pitting science against religion. That’s a mistake, one that makes it nearly impossible to find a way to speak about what’s at stake in   a way that makes sense to both sides.

FOR THE LAST century, each leap in telescope diameter has generated exceptional discoveries, from finding out that our universe is expanding (and hence has a history and an origin) to the recent revelation — spurred by observations made on the Hubble Space Telescope and the largest land-based optical instruments — that three-quarters of the universe is made of a mysterious phenomenon called dark energy.

The TMT’s builders expect similar discoveries. With a primary mirror that’s nearly 100 feet across, its “light bucket” has nine times the area of the largest optical and near-infrared telescopes now in use. That will throw open a new window into the “dark ages” of the early universe, when the first stars formed. The TMT will track how the cosmos evolved its structure, look into the   mystery of dark matter, pursue giant black holes as far into the past as   possible, study the formation of planets around distant stars, and much more. As the TMT organization puts it, “It is very likely that the scientific impact of TMT will go far beyond what we envision today.”

In the face of such grand ambition, the protests took supporters by surprise. George Johnson, writing in The New York Times after an earlier protest in late 2014, declared that the TMT will be “a triumph in astronomy’s quest to understand the origin of everything,” and that the protesters are indistinguishable from “religious fundamentalists who are still waging skirmishes against science.”

Retired University of California astronomer Sandra Faber was even more blunt. She wrote an e-mail intended to gain support for a petition defending the TMT. A colleague circulated it more widely, which is how this passage became public: “the Thirty-Meter Telescope is in trouble, attacked by a horde of native Hawaiians who are lying about the impact of the project on the mountain. . .”

The use of the words “native” and “horde” had the impact one might expect: Here were senior astronomers, leaders of the field, calling their opponents a mob — with the overtones the word “horde” brings of savagery, the maddened rage of the unenlightened. This was the language of outraged power, to whom opposition is not just an obstacle, but an insult.

Faber and her colleagues have apologized — but plenty of cheerleaders for science agreed with the underlying message: This is a battle between a universal good and the mere belief of a handful of ignorable people. Physicist and storyteller Ben Lillie wrote an influential essay for Slate in which he placed the Hawaiian conflict in the context of historical misdeeds committed by or through science. The comment thread provided its usual glimpse of the id of those who disagreed. Among the more measured responses: “Sacred, schmacred. . . . It’s a big rock with room on top for some cool science stuff.

End of discussion” [ellipsis in the original]. And “At some point common interest has to overrule religious ‘rights.’ ”

To the opponents of the TMT, of course, Mauna Kea is hardly a “big rock.” Within Hawaiian tradition, Mauna Kea contains multitudes. Keolu Fox, a geneticist of Hawaiian descent writes that the mountain “is sacred to the Hawaiian people because it represents the beginning of our oral history.” In traditional Hawaiian society, the summit was forbidden to all but the highest ranks.

Now Mauna Kea serves as a focus and spiritual sanctuary for Hawaiians seeking to preserve and extend their cultural heritage. Ruth Aloua, who   helped block the summit road during a protest in March told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that “We have an ancestral, a genealogical relationship to this place,” adding “that is what we are protecting.”

SCIENCE IS UNIVERSAL. Its methods, practices, and results are the same everywhere, reproducible anywhere, accessible to anyone. Isaac Newton found that force equals mass times acceleration, and F=ma is as true in Beijing or Capetown as it is in Boston — or atop Mauna Kea.

Science is a good, essential to human well-being. The machine on which I     write this, the fact that nearly all babies born in the United States make it to their 5th birthdays, that the world produces (if it does not always distribute effectively) all the food 7 billion people need to survive — all this and so much more derives from the fact that reason, mathematics, and rigorous experiment confer power over the material world. (As, of course, does the technology of modern war; what people do with knowledge is never an unmixed boon.)

But while a conventional and valid defense of basic science is that we have to do it because that’s where the next generation’s inventions are born, most researchers would argue that there’s more to their calling than useful mastery of nature. Robert Wilson, a physicist and founding director of Fermilab, was once asked if his giant atom smasher would make the United States more secure. No, he told a congressional committee, “It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.”

That was a grand way of saying that there are human needs beyond the merely practical. Researchers talk of their hunger for deep answers, or the rewards of elegance and beauty. Here’s Albert Einstein: “Out yonder there was this huge world which exists independently of us human beings. . . . The contemplation   of this world beckoned like a liberation, and I soon noticed that many a man whom I had learned to esteem and to admire had found inner freedom and security in devoted occupation with it.”

ASTRONOMY WAS ONCE supremely practical. Decisions about marriage, the planting of crops, or whether to go to war were all once decided by the stars.

Problems of navigation occupied professional astronomers well into the 19th century. Not any more. None of the deep space telescopes that humankind has placed on mountaintops since the beginning of the 20th century serves any immediately useful function beyond Einstein’s contemplation of this huge world.

Just look at the TMT’s goals: to reach back to the epoch of the first stars, to search for new planets and nascent stellar systems, to dissect the mysteries of exotic forms of matter. None of these have anything to do with the price of eggs. These are fundamental questions. The contemplation of them requires instruments like the TMT. Doing so offers liberation, an escape from the mundane, a kind of transcendence.

If that sounds familiar, it should. That’s the same promise that many forms of religious practice offer. And it’s recognizably similar to what the Mauna Kea protesters say they seek to defend.

I do not make here the old bad argument that religion and science are   basically the same, just two ways of knowing. They’re not. Science creates knowledge of material experience that cannot be produced by any other means. Its measurements, methods, and results are indeed common property as no particular religious commitment can be.

But the TMT dispute shows where the science versus religion trope goes wrong. The Hawaiian protesters haven’t said that Mauna Kea’s telescopes are inherently impious, or that the data they collect is somehow wrong, or that Hawaiian mythology is a better account of the cosmos. Rather, the value, the joy, the need the observatories satisfy may indeed satisfy many, but not those continuing a Hawaiian tradition that allows its heirs to find connection with memory, with history, with nature — to achieve the same transcendence sought by those who find beauty in the measure of the universe.

That is: The TMT defenders and their opponents seek analogous rewards from their presence on Mauna Kea. Their conflict isn’t between the competing worldviews of science and religion, but between desires that are kin to each other — and that require the same physical space.

LANGUAGE MATTERS. Finding a common way to express what’s at stake is   an essential element in any negotiation, in any dispute. Most important, if one side has more power than the other in a conflict, finding a way to make those more powerful hear what the opposing side is saying is both vital and exceptionally difficult.

A personal note: I love astronomy. I have felt joy every time I’ve made it up to Mauna Kea’s observatories. I’m not sure that human beings have ever made more beautiful images than the Hubble Deep Fields. I do hope the TMT   project continues, and that from first light it reveals something unimagined. I once made a film about great observatories called “Cathedrals of the Sky” — and that’s what the TMT is to me, a domed source of wonder, a conduit to Einstein’s huge world, independent of mere individual human concerns.

But as long as those on Team Science assert — and believe — that what they     do is universally valuable, trumping any merely local claim, then the Hawaiian dispute is merely an annoyance to be managed. That’s an argument that   cannot be resolved, cannot end. Should it become possible to hear what the other side wants in the same form as what the astronomical community     values, then there’s something to talk about, and a way to do so. It may     require a bit of uncomfortable modesty from science — it won’t be easy to accept that the beauty of pure research competes with other approaches to connection with the wide world — but the results of speaking a common language may surprise some telescope advocates.

That alone won’t solve the critical question, of course. Hearing — genuinely engaging with the idea — that astronomical observation and spiritual practice on Mauna Kea as are matched responses to the same emotional impulse does not in itself make an argument for or against building the TMT. But seeing it that way it is a key step in the discussion that needs take place now.

Categories: Politics

The Bob Cesca Podcast: Those Pesky Garbage Brain Shit People

Little Green Footballs - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 18:41

https://rss.art19.com/episodes/cff1d6fa-a874-4d0e-8bba-11702a351bbe.mp3?_=1

Today's program from our podcasting affiliate, The Bob Cesca Show, powered by Billings, Barrett & Bowman, LLC:

Garbage Brain Shit People -- NSFW! Bob is on vacation next week; The Goth Ninjas Jody Hamilton and David TRex Ferguson are here today; Trump's racist rally; Send Her Back; The Red Hats; Jesse Watters latest awfulness; Trump gets polling bump from Republicans; Jeffrey Epstein denied bail; SDNY ends its probe into the Trump Organization's hush money payments; The creepy video of Trump with Epstein; Rand Paul blocked 911 victims fund; With music by Central City; and more!

Categories: Politics

Evening Open Thread

Balloon Juice - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 17:50

My countertops are now installed. The plumber will hook up the sink tomorrow. Then all that remains is that a drawer needs to be cut down a bit to accommodate the cooktop. I think I can get a friend to do that. Whew.

This will appeal to some, maybe not so much to others. But I think it’s kind of cool.

Categories: Politics

Vote #1 On Impeachment Was Significant And Historic

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 17:41
Vote #1 On Impeachment Was Significant And Historic

File under: Dump Trump (ITMFA!) and the Republicans:

The House voted to table—to NOT act upon—a resolution to impeach President Trump, introduced by Rep. Al Green (D-TX).

Green’s resolution would have bypassed impeachment hearings, and 95 Democrats voted to pursue impeachment anywayfar more than have publicly announced their support for launching an impeachment inquiry. That’s a really big jump; and imagine if Green had forced a vote for an inquiry? We’re getting there, believe it or not!

The list of who voted to impeach.

Here’s the thing: I’m an impatient man, but even I realize something. You cannot rush into trickly legal territory without having a plan and strategy. As an object-lesson, we’ve watched Trump bluster into court and ultimately lose (like the Citizenship Question) because he is incapable of thinking it through; he’s barely tactical and absolutely not strategic.

We cannot be like him with the issue of impeachment.

read more

Categories: Politics

Shep Smith Fact-Checks Trump's Lies About Rally Chant

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 17:38
Shep Smith Fact-Checks Trump's Lies About Rally Chant

Earlier today, Donald Trump was asked specifically about the rallygoers who shouted "Send her back!" as a response to his rant about her and how anti-semitic and America-hating he says she is.

If you could wrap up excrement in a way that would barely cover it, that would be Trump's answer. "I didn't like it," he says. That's a lie. He loved it. But then he lied some more, telling reporters that he "began speaking very quickly."

He didn't. There were 13 full seconds during which the crowd shouted wildly, drunk with the idea of sending the hated Black Muslim Congresswoman back to the country from which she had sought asylum as a child in the United States. They were consumed with it, and he basked in it.

In the video above, we've edited out the replay of his lies about Rep. Omar and his abusive demand that she needs to be more positive about this country. As long as this man is President, she has no reason whatsoever to be positive about much of anything. At any rate, it's a waste of your time and is factless bloviating, so we eliminated it.

Shep Smith and even John Roberts were both excellent at fact-checking and accurately summarizing the racist abusive fck's remarks.

"He said he spoke very quickly," Smith said. "We're going to play it again."

The tape rolls.

"He paused, let them say it at least seven more times, and when they finished, he went again," Smith said. "That's a fact."

read more

Categories: Politics

USCIS workers already dealing with immigration paperwork backlog got asked to volunteer for ICE

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 16:22

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the paper-pushing agency that processes things such as naturalization forms, is swamped, with a backlog that preceded the Trump administration and now has only gotten worse. So naturally, a top USCIS official is stepping up ... to ask USCIS employees to volunteer their time to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement block asylum-seekers at the border.

“The email to staffers, sent Wednesday by USCIS deputy Mark Koumans and obtained by BuzzFeed News, asked employees to volunteer for administrative work in ICE field offices across the country, including processing files that are part of a program forcing immigrants seeking asylum to remain in Mexico as their cases are adjudicated, and supporting public document requests.”

Under the inhumane “Remain in Mexico” policy, the Trump administration has forced thousands of asylum-seekers and their families from the country to wait out their cases, as part of its effort to stomp on the right to asylum. This is terrible policy that’s being challenged in court, and apparently now USCIS wants staffers to ignore their years-old backlog for it. There’s a reason: Under Trump, the agency has become truly radicalized.

In fact, dubiously appointed USCIS head Ken Cuccinelli has been all over the news recently talking up ICE raids, something that has nothing to do with his job, and his subordinates see it. “One USCIS officer ... told BuzzFeed News that Cuccinelli appeared focused on helping ICE with its law enforcement work, rather than adjudicating immigration benefits,” saying, “I am sure [ICE] needs people to help process paperwork and keep track of people. Of course, if they stopped detaining them, separating families, and sending people back to Mexico, you wouldn’t need help.”

Earlier this week, an asylum officer said she would refuse to carry out the Trump administration’s attempted rule change essentially blocking the right to apply for asylum in the U.S. for many Central Americans and others, telling BuzzFeed News that the Asylum Ban 2.0 is “facially illegal”—and she says she’s not alone in her thinking. Other asylum officers at USCIS “think it's racist and illegal.”

Categories: Politics

Senate Democrats coming around to the necessity of killing the filibuster

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 15:40

Reality sinking in with top leadership of Senate Democrats. Having Mitch McConnell thwart you every step of the way will do that, I guess. For the first time, the possibility of getting rid of the filibuster and allowing majority rule on legislation is a thing for Democrats.

One of the senators who has been hardest to convince is Sen. Dick Durbin, the number 2 guy in Democratic leadership. Over the years, he's been extremely resistant, but now? "I tell ya, I’m reflecting on it now. This is a different Senate. It is unproductive under the current state of affairs,” Durbin told The Hill. He added that a change will be "needed from what we're currently working with" although "I don't know what that is yet." That's real movement from him. It was just this February, when the issue started to circulate among the presidential candidate, that he was against it because "I don't want to serve in the House again."

Durbin's change of heart follows Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer's statement this week that nuking the filibuster is not "off the table" if Democrats take the majority and the White House in 2020. The need for that is obvious to anyone who's been watching Republicans for the past decade.

It's also a recognition that the Senate isn't what it used to be. McConnell has destroyed the institution. The only thing that will save it is the kind of sledgehammer tactics that he's used. The alternative is having a Republican party that it once again interested in being a partner in governing the nation and it's pretty clear that that's not happening.

No Democratic president is going to be able to accomplish any of her goals even with a Democratic Senate if McConnell has the power—in the minority!—to stop it. It's good that Senate Democrats are recognizing that reality. Now we just have to get them a majority.

Let's encourage Schumer and keep up the pressure on McConnell by beefing up our nominee fund. Please give $1 to help Democrats end McConnell's career as majority leader!

Categories: Politics

Trump attempts to distance himself from racist 'Send her back!' chants—by, as usual, lying

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 15:30

Apparently someone on staff or on Donald Trump's television programs got it through his thick head that being the instigator of a new American fascist moment is one line crossed too many, and so now Trump is attempting, barely, to distance himself from a crowd that chanted, "Send her back!" at a rally he held yesterday in North Carolina as he again blasted, at length, American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Asked by reporters in the Oval Office this morning why he did not attempt to stop his supporters' racist chanting, Trump claimed, "I think I did. I started speaking very quickly." He also offered, "I was not happy with it. I disagree with it."

There is video of the moment, and it shows that he is lying. Trump backed away from the microphone as the chant began; he in fact delayed speaking his next lines while the volume of the chant built up. When he resumed his speech, he continued to attack Omar.

Trump's claim that he was "not happy" with the crowd's convulsion of racist nationalism—one that only came after Trump had harangued them with an extended, pre-written attack on Omar and her alleged anti-Americanism—may seem familiar, because it is the same thin defense Trump used to deflect blame for the "Lock her up!" chants against Hillary Clinton that soon after came to define his campaign. He followed up that expression of disapproval by making the chants a staple of his future rallies, soon adopting both the sentiment and the phrase himself.

So this is all part of the usual pattern. As the better parts of America recoil from what looked, to many, like a bargain-bin Nuremberg rally, Trump attempts to detach himself from the consequences of his own rhetoric with a vague noise of disapproval. As reviews from his white nationalist base come in and as Republican lawmakers jump, reliably, to defend him from even this, he will soon be convinced that the new expression of open white nationalist fervor is in fact rallying Americans to his side and will seek to repeat the spectacle. And then he himself will double down. He has already tweeted that Omar and other of his American opponents should "go home"; expect him to escalate further. Republicans are making it clear that they will exact no price for any of this.

We are in a new dangerous moment built on top of a hundred previous dangerous moments. Rep. Omar is getting death threats; a self-absorbed and self-promoting national leader is stoking an aggrieved, openly racist new nationalism for his personal entertainment and political gain. Trump has inadvertently or intentionally stumbled into each of the core planks of fascism, one by one, and as he adopts each, the Republican Party, and Republican lawmakers, shift their own declarations and demands to mirror and expand upon his.

Categories: Politics

Lunchtime Photo

Kevin Drum - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 15:30

This is not how I feel today. But I think that’s all the more reason to put up a picture that’s just purely soothing and nothing more.

May 9, 2019 — Singecat Ridge Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Categories: Politics

Elizabeth Warren has a plan that is already making vulture capitalists cry

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 15:10

Elizabeth Warren has turned her skills in economics and finance into a plan that stops private equity firms from using their power to raid companies and rip them apart for short-term profit. Equity firms often work in a way that sees them use a leveraged buyout to gain marginal control of a company. At that point, they sell off the company’s most valuable assets, load the remaining shell up with debt, including the debt from their buyout, and … walk away. It’s a process that turns a tidy profit for those invested in the equity fund, along with some paper losses that look good on taxes. And it generates an absolute disaster for the workers at the companies that funds dismember.

As The Washington Post reports, piratical equity funds were behind the collapse of companies as diverse as Friendly’s restaurants and HCR ManorCare nursing homes. And they were responsible for the destruction of iconic American brands, including Toys R Us. In each case, an equity firm moved on a company whose stock price was depressed following recent losses, used debt to grab a controlling interest, and proceeded to convert decades of work by thousands of workers into a quick payday.

Warren’s plan consists of a series of steps that would make it harder for equity firms to dice up troubled companies. It includes measures that would stop them from selling off real estate and manufacturing assets and generally limit the speed with which firms could raid companies for valuable patents, property, and cash. And it would prohibit equity firms from dumping the debt they accumulated in a leveraged buyout onto the company they bought.

As might be expected, investment firms are already screaming that they’re actually doing the world a favor by destroying “inefficient” firms, and that Warren represents the face of big government getting in the way of the market. In some cases they might even be right. There genuinely are instances where a poorly managed old firm still holds assets that could generate more jobs and drive more economic activity if they were cut loose. So maybe the fund managers have a point.

Or they would. Except Elizabeth Warren already has a plan for that, too.

Categories: Politics

Maine governor expands aid for asylum-seekers, touting benefits to state economy

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 15:09

Maine has been unusually welcoming to asylum-seekers in recent months, but the state is taking a big step forward. Gov. Janet Mills announced that she would be relaxing restrictions on General Assistance eligibility for asylum-seekers, allowing them to apply for aid as long as they are taking “reasonable good faith steps” to apply for asylum, rather than requiring them to have already completed a formal application, as her Republican predecessor Paul LePage required.

This is the right thing to do morally, helping families who have been through fear and deprivation and danger and aren’t yet allowed to work legally. But, Mills explained in a Portland Press-Herald op-ed, it’s also going to be good for Maine’s economy.

Maine’s population is the oldest in the U.S., Mills writes, and that’s taking a toll, as ”employers from Kittery to Madawaska and Fryeburg to Eastport are telling us they are desperate for workers and as our young people leave the state for opportunities elsewhere.” As a result, “This workforce shortage is one of the most serious long-term issues facing our state.” But asylum-seekers could help revitalize Maine’s workforce: “They are people with skills, education and ability, people with a proven work ethic and tremendous drive—and they are just waiting for the chance to work.”

The aid being offered would be extremely limited—recipients would have to reapply every month and would get vouchers for necessities rather than cash. But following LePage’s Trump-style nastiness and Trump’s constant ratcheting-up of anti-immigrant bigotry, it’s so welcome to see a state acting to help people, and a politician making the affirmative case for immigrants as a benefit to the economy.

Categories: Politics

Border agent sexually harassed woman as her 12-year-old was jailed in his facility, complaint says

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 15:07

The mother of a 12-year-old boy who was jailed at a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, says in an official complaint that an agent there harassed her over social media, The Washington Post reports, including making her watch him masturbate over video chat, “all while her 12-year-old son was in custody at the Border Patrol station in Clint, Tex., where he worked.”

The woman, who is also undocumented, said in the complaint, filed with Customs and Border Protection and currently under investigation by the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, that her son came to the U.S. from Guatemala in April to reunite with her. She found out her son was in custody there because he called her—but their conversation was cut short and a voice she didn’t recognize spoke to her over the phone.

It was an agent, who told her, “You see, Señora, your son is okay.” She said she thought at the time he sounded “friendly,” and when he asked for her contact information to supposedly keep her updated on her son, she agreed, because, like any worried parent, she needed to know about her child. “Looking back on the conversation, the woman said that was the moment she ‘fell into his trap.’”

It was when the agent later called her that he exposed himself to her. “The woman said she escaped the Facebook call when her phone battery suddenly died,” which then appeared to anger the agent, because when she texted him the next day to plead to speak to her son, he told her, “I’m busy now.” Becoming ”fearful of retribution against her son, the woman found an immigrant legal-aid hotline through her church and called it. The hotline connected her to a legal-aid group, which promptly detailed her complaint in an email to senior CBP officials.”

Categories: Politics

Catholic Day of Action

Balloon Juice - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 15:03

As Donald Trump and his administration trek further into the moral abyss, expect more demonstrations. Participate, even.

The media are ignoring demonstrations – there was some local coverage of last Friday’s Lights for Liberty, but I don’t recall seeing anything national.

On Tuesday afternoon, a thousand protesters, led by Never Again Action, a Jewish group, blocked the entrances to ICE headquarters for several hours. That got some national coverage.

Today, Catholic groups are protesting immigration policy at the Capitol. I’ve seen nothing about this so far from news organizations, so here’s a particularly good Twitter thread. Also, the hashtag #CatholicDayofAction.

 

Categories: Politics

Midday open thread: Hearing on public lands drilling; in court over Planned Parenthood smear videos

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 15:00

Today’s comic by Ruben Bolling is Patriotic Americans send malcontent Trump back to where he's originally from:

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Business Insider interviews with a baker’s dozen of activists at Netroots Nation last week indicates a tough primary battle for the presidential nomination. Dopper0189, the co-founder of Black Kos, was one of those queried, along with two other Kosacks, Brillig and gizmo59.

NYC landlords challenge rent-control law based on property rights argument backed by citation linking constitutional counting of slaves as 3/5ths human.

Congressional hearing over drilling on public land elicits usual nonsense from RepublicansSenator Elizabeth Warren was the first 2020 presidential candidate to propose banning oil and gas leases on public lands. But now 18 Democratic candidates have signed onto the idea. Obviously, the fossil fuel industry and many elected Republicans think this is a horrible idea. Thus, at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday—the committee’s first hearing in the 116th Congress on the environmental impact of fossil fuel production on public lands—the GOP questioning brimmed over with the usual malarkey. Among other things, Republicans asked a witness why it was cold in Arizona this May, with the implication that if it gets cold anywhere, claims that the Earth is warming must be bogus. Nicolas Loris, a senior fellow at the right-wing Heritage Foundation asserted that the climate crisis will only get bad at 4 or 5 degrees Celsius (7.2 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit). “If you have the 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, those catastrophic scenarios really go away,” he said. But, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced in an October report that 2 degrees of warming would result in what many referred to as “climate genocide.”

MIDDAY TWEET

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Witness says “smear” videos made Planned Parenthood clinics targets and forced them to spent extra money on security: The organization’s attorney, Amy Bombse, argued for a summary judgment in a lawsuit asking damages and injunctive relief against anti-abortion activist David Daleiden and his group, the Center for Medical Progress. Daleiden, et al., posed as employees of a fake biomedical company so they could attend abortion providers’ conferences and meetings in 2014 and 2015. They then secretly recorded conversations and released the videos that a federal judge later labeled “deceptively edited.” Bombse said the videos spurred threats and physical attacks against Planned Parenthood clinics. These included the 2015 shooting at a clinic in Colorado Springs in which three people were killed and nine wounded. The killer, Robert Dear, called himself a “warrior for the babies.” Bombse said, “David Daleiden and his co-conspirators created a situation where Robert Dear or somebody like him was more likely,”

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team champions refute attacks on them as anti-Christian: Fundamentalist critics say a player who refused to wear an LGBTQ pride jersey in 2017,  Jaelene Hinkle, was pushed off the team because of her religion. Backup goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, was spurred to speak out: “Hinkle, our team is about inclusion. Your religion was never the problem. The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic. You don’t belong in a sport that aims to unite and bring people together,” Harris wrote on Twitter. “You would never fit into our pack or what this team stands for.” She later added, “This is actually an insult to the Christians on our team.”

Cast out from the F-35 program, Turkey could buy its next advanced fighter jets from Russia: 

The U.S. decision was the culmination of two years of growing tension with Turkey, which launched efforts to to purchase four S-400 batteries in 2017. At various times, Washington suggested Turkey could face sanctions for purchasing Russian defense hardware.

In an official Rostec statement released Thursday, [CEO Sergei] Chemezov was quoted as saying Russia is prepared to help Turkey procure advanced fighter jets. But the jets on offer are hardly an analogue of the stealthy F-35. Rather, Chemezov is offering up the Su-35, a heavily souped-up version of the Su-27.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Greg Dworkin leverages our procedure fixation to note that "Trumpism" is a global cancer. Republicans cower & cringe over Trump's racism. What's going on in House Dem heads in intraparty strife? Green's impeachment move was a missed opportunity.

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Categories: Politics

California has seen massive progressive criminal justice reform—but the fight is far from over

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 14:53

This story was co-written with Matt Ferner

There is a pressing threat to California’s recent criminal justice reforms: a small group of mostly men with troubled histories, livelihoods that depend on preserving mass incarceration and a penchant for loudly spreading disinformation to advance their pro-carceral agenda. These extremists are carrying law enforcement’s water in its existential fight to defeat smart criminal justice reforms.

California has spent the last seven years engaging in a series of progressive criminal justice reforms designed to end the state’s addiction to mass incarceration. The results have been great for public safety. New data shows that California crime is dropping to all-time lows. The most current data (from April 2019) indicates that the total urban crime rate is down 5%, with violent crime down 2% and property crime down almost 6%. This is the third-lowest crime rate ever recorded in California. On a city-by-city level, the majority of cities (56 out of the 73 biggest cities in the state) have seen drops in crime. And this isn’t new—the numbers pouring in since 2013 have established that reform has done no harm to public safety.

In 2013, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and SAGE journal both found that realignment—the initiative moving a substantial number of people from state to local supervision—had no effect on violent crime. PPIC found the same with regard to Proposition 47 (which re-categorized certain offenses as misdemeanors) findings echoed by a UC Irvine criminologist as well in 2018. All in all, California finds itself standing out: almost half of U.S. states have had larger increases in violent crime rates than California from 2016 to 2017 according to the LA Times and Marshall Project.

Despite this data, California law enforcement is engaged in what it sees as a war for its life. They know they can’t continue to justify their two billion dollar cost with a shrinking justice system and declining crime rates. They need the narrative to be that violent crime is both rampant and caused by reform, in spite of some notable public backlash to this bankrupt ideology.

Categories: Politics

Daily Kos Elections 2Q 2019 House fundraising reports roundup

Daily Kos - Thu, 07/18/2019 - 14:27

Quarterly fundraising reports for federal candidates, covering the period from April 1 to June 30, were due at the Federal Elections Commission on July 15 at midnight Eastern Time. Below is our chart of fundraising numbers for House candidates in all key races this cycle. (Click here for our companion chart for the Senate.) That includes, among others:

  • Races we expect to be competitive in next year's general elections
  • Open seats in otherwise safe districts that feature primaries
  • Under-the-radar contests where a candidate raised or self-funded an unexpectedly high sum
  • Incumbents who potentially face a credible primary challenge
  • Incumbents who might retire or run for higher office

As always, all numbers are in thousands. The chart, and an explanation of each column, can be found below. (Click here for our chart listing fundraising data for every House incumbent.)

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Categories: Politics

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