New polling from PPP conducted this week for advocacy group Protect Our Care shows Rosen leading, within the margin of error, at 48 percent to Heller's 46. A big majority of Nevada voters—58 percent—say health care is a top issue for them this election, with 22 percent saying it is the most important issue. By a 23 point margin, voters say they want to keep what works about the Affordable Care Act and fix what doesn't, versus repeal it.
All this is bad news for Heller, as is his job approval, where he's underwater 52 to 40 percent. It gets worse for him when voters are asked about his refusal to support a resolution in the Senate opposing the Trump administration's lawsuit to overthrow protections for pre-existing conditions. Nevadans oppose the lawsuit 59 to 22 percent, and 42 percent say they're less likely to support Heller knowing that he doesn't oppose it.
When they find out about all of Heller's healthcare votes, they get more concerned: his vote for Trumpcare is a major concern for 49 percent (a minor concern for another 20); his own bill that would have allowed insurers to impose an age tax on older Nevadans is a major concern for 52 percent (again, 20 say it's a minor concern); and the Medicaid funding repeal included in his bill is a major problem for 51 percent of voters (19 percent say it's a minor concern). Nothing Heller has done on health care is popular in the state.
Which Jacky Rosen knows very well, and will make a focus in Friday night's debate.
Democrats have reason to be cautiously optimistic based on New York Times/Siena College polling of 50 battleground House districts, Nate Cohn writes. But there is most definitely work to be done. “It all comes down to turnout” is a cliche of politics, but … it all comes down to turnout.
Across the Times/Siena polls, Republicans have a six-point lead among voters who turned out in 2014. But Democrats counter with a 10-point advantage among voters who didn’t turn out in that election. Those voters are poised to represent more than one-third of the electorate, enough to essentially eliminate the Republican turnout advantage of the last decade.
Democrats have had a turnout advantage in the New Jersey and Virginia state elections of 2017 as well as a host of special elections, but have to maintain that edge in districts across the country on November 6.
There’s also reason for concern—and a giant flashing message for the future—in who is and is not planning to vote in large numbers:
Across our polls, 58 percent of white registered voters say they’re “almost certain” to vote, compared with 50 percent of black registered voters and 43 percent of Hispanic voters. [...]
And just 38 percent of registered voters who are 18 to 34 years say they’re almost certain to vote, compared with 62 percent of those over age 65.
Campaigns and GOTV organizations should take that as a challenge over the next two and a half weeks, but it’s not just a challenge for this November, it’s a longer-term project that can’t just be answered with campaign-specific GOTV efforts.
The news is good but it could be better and we have two and a half weeks to make it so. Then, hopefully, a celebration, followed by getting to work for the 2020 and 2022 and beyond.
To celebrate my 60th birthday, today’s catblogging features both cats. Exciting!
Events here unfolded as they usually do. Hopper was up on the table. Hilbert decided that meant he wanted the table, so he jumped up and plonked down. He didn’t really do much of anything after that, but I suppose Hopper is pretty good at mind reading these days, so after a minute or two she vacated the spot. Then, a minute after that, Hilbert jumped down too. Naturally, if Hopper no longer wanted it, then neither did he. Just another day at the preschool.
Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is Profit now, die later!
• What’s coming on Sunday Kos…
- Republicans are coming for your Medicare in 2019, by Jon Perr
- Coal is dying, and Trump knows it, by Sher Watts Spooner
- Examining the nature of true and pure "Evil," by Frank Vyan Walton
- Republicans want to take away your Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, by Laurence Lewis
- Stop the handwringing and conjecture about the 'Latino vote,' and support groups doing GOTV, by Denise Oliver Velez
- Cripple healthcare, Social Security, Medicare, driving huge deficits & win? by Egberto Willies
- We must choose to solve climate change, by Mark E Andersen
- Don't we want a president America can be proud of, by Ian Reifowitz
• Will midterm voter turnout break a half-century record? 1966 was a time of tremendous cultural, social, and political unrest that generated a record 49 percent midterm voter turnout at a time before 18-year-olds could vote. Michael McDonald, who teaches at the University of Florida and maintains a turnout database, told National Public Radio that our current year of cultural, social and political turmoil could spur an even bigger percentage of people to vote as back then: "It's probably going to be a turnout rate that most people have never experienced in their lives for a midterm election," he said. He predicts 45 to 50 percent of eligible Americans will cast ballots.
An antiviral pill taken daily by thousands of men across Sydney and other parts of Australia led to a globally unprecedented reduction in new HIV cases, showing that a targeted, preventative approach may accelerate progress on ending the AIDS epidemic.
New cases of HIV among gay and bisexual men fell by almost a third to the lowest on record, according to the world’s first study to measure the impact of Gilead Sciences Inc.’s Truvada pill on reducing the AIDS-causing virus in a large population. The results, published Thursday in the Lancet HIV medical journal, may pave the way for other states and countries to stop transmission of the virus with the use of a treatment called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.
QAnon/Deplorabots keep sayin' Mueller cooperators have "nothing to do with Trump" with the exception of...— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) October 19, 2018
1) Trump's campaign manager
2) Trump's deputy campaign mgr
3) Trump's personal attorney
4) Trumps National Security Advisor
5) Trump's CFO
6) Trump foreign policy advisor
… the top 1.0 percent of earners now earn by 157.3 percent more than they did in 1979. Even more impressive is that those in the top 0.1 percent had more than double that wage growth, up 343.2 percent since 1979 [...] In contrast, wages for the bottom 90 percent only grew 22.2 percent in that time. Since the Great Recession, the bottom 90 percent enjoyed very modest wage growth, with annual wages (i.e., reflecting growing annual hours as well as higher hourly wages) up just 5.4 percent over the eight years from 2009 to 2017. In contrast, the wages of the top 0.1 percent grew 29.8 percent from 2009 to 2017.
• If the Mega Millions lottery produces a winner, s/he will have such a difficult choice: The calculations below are based on winnings of $970 million, not the billion dollars the MM now says is in the pot:
The debate between whether to take the lump sum or the annuity is intense, although most winners opt for the lump sum. Remember, if you pick the annuity, you’ll pay taxes each year, on an annually increasing rate schedule. After the 24 percent federal take, the average annuity payment comes out to $24,573,333 per year for 30 years, while the lump sum total comes out to $416,936,000, per USA Mega.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Trump goes over the top at a rally, again. Gop conspiracy theories get still loonier, and as always, they have a pipeline right to the top. James O'Keefe is still at it. Armando, who we hardly even know, addresses the farce of the courts, and how it got this way.x Embedded Content LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE
CNN correspondent Bill Weir was nearly hit with a canister of tear gas while traveling with the refugee caravan from Honduras at the Mexican border.
When the caravan reached Mexico, the gates were locked.
"There's about 400 riot policemen, Federales, and for some reason on the Guatemalan side, there's this huge sea of humanity," Weir reported. "Children, toddlers. They came streaming up to the fence."
Weir said they tried to form a single file liine after they were told they'd be let in one at a time but the crowd could not be contained, and broke through the gates.
That prompted police to force the gates closed by firing smoke cannisters into the crowd, Weir told viewers.
As Weir was explaining why these people are so desperate -- they literally have no hope, no future, and nowhere to go except north -- he narrowly dodged what turned out to be a thrown water bottle.
From there, things degenerated. The police threw tear gas cannisters, one narrowly missing Weir, and ultiimately forced him to hand it back to CNN headquarters while he headed for safer ground.
As he points out in his report, the new president of Mexico will not take office until December. He is reported to have a much kinder attitude toward the migrants. The current president seems to be taking his orders from the U.S. "president" and his gang of xenophobic hater pals.
How different are men and women? Not physically, that is, but in terms of personality characteristics. What accounts for those differences? Nature? Nurture? Both?
Spoiler alert: the answer is “both.” But that’s boring. We want details. If there are variations, what specific kinds of things affect them? Armin Falk and Johannes Hermle decided to take a look at gender differences by country and produced this map:
That’s kind of interesting, isn’t it? In rich countries, where men and women have much more freedom to act as they please instead of obeying culturally-assigned gender roles, gender preferences are larger than they are in poorer countries.
There are several possible explanations for this, but first let’s dig a little deeper into the details:
In every case, people who live in richer countries have stronger gender preferences. Looking at the top row, women have greater altruism, more trust, and higher levels of positive reciprocity (i.e., returning a favor with another favor). Looking at the bottom row, men have greater levels of negative reciprocity (i.e., returning an eye for an eye), more tolerance for risk, and greater patience.
This is basically it. This is a study showing associations, but that’s all:
Our findings do not rule out an influence of gender-specific roles that drive gender differences in preferences. They also do not preclude a role for biological or evolutionary determinants of gender differences. Our results highlight, however, that theories not attributing a significant role to the social environment are incomplete….Greater availability of material resources removes the human need of subsistence, and hence provides the scope for attending to gender-specific preferences. A more egalitarian distribution of material and social resources enables women and men to independently express gender-specific preferences.
In other words, being richer provides more opportunity to act the way you want to, and it turns out that this means men and women are more likely to take on gender-specific roles. However, this study merely notes these differences, it doesn’t try to explain them. This means that you should feel free to offer up any wild-ass guesses you want in comments.
Saudi Arabia has an whole ocean of information about the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The hit was ordered by Saudi royals, carried out by Saudi intelligence in the Saudi consulate in full view of the consul. When it comes to “investigating,” there’s nothing really there to investigate. When Donald Trump or Mike Pompeo insists on giving the Saudi royals more time to produce a report, the question isn’t investigation. It’s just editing.
By their own accounts, the information available to Turkish authorities is at least enough to fill a decent swimming pool. They claim to have both audio and video evidence that Khashoggi was murdered within minutes of entering the consulate in Istanbul. That includes particularly gruesome evidence indicating that Saudi operatives were waiting to take Khashoggi captive as soon as he entered and began their “interrogation” by cutting off the journalists fingers. One at a time.
According to CNN, Turkish authorities had this information in near real time. They had an idea of what had happened to Khashoggi soon enough that Turkish authorities could rush to the airport, disguise themselves as airport workers, and take a peek into one of the Saudi planes before the team of assassins flew away from Istanbul. And they had enough detail about what had happened to ask a particularly ghastly question.
Reporter: They actually asked the man in charge of the X-ray machine at the airport if it would have been likely that human body parts would show up on the scan when those Saudi bags went through.
The Saudi authorities know what happened. The Turkish authorities know what happened. But what about US intelligence and the members of Trump’s White House. Is their information measured in buckets or teaspoons?
According to Republican Senator Bob Corker, American intelligence knows more than it wants to tell. A briefing scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled. And while CBS reports that some senators are still receiving one-on-one briefings, Corker considered the closing of normal intelligence channels a sign that “probably the intel is not painting a pretty picture as it relates to Saudi Arabia.” Whatever has be said to those senators who have been briefed, it doesn’t seem to be exculpatory for the Saudis in general or crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular, because no one is rushing to provide unvarnished support … no one but Trump.
In the wake of the opiate-addict obituary read ‘round the world, Burlington, Vermont Police Chief Brandon del Pozo took to his Facebook page with a rant that should stop everyone in their sentimental, share-button-clicking tracks. The lengthy post, since republished as an op-ed in the Burlington Free Press, points out everything that’s wrong with the viral tribute—or more accurately, the public response to it.
Published Sunday, the obituary for Madelyn Linsenmeir, if you’ve not yet read it, is a well-crafted homage to a 30-year-old woman lost to a 14-year opioid addiction that started when she tried OxyContin at a high school party. Rather than dodge around Linsenmeir’s cause of death or portray her as an angel, the emotional eulogy paints the mother of one as a person with problems who, despite her talents and opportunities, her privileges and passions, still died of a disease we never talk about: addiction.
Our beloved Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir died on Sunday, October 7. While her death was unexpected, Madelyn suffered from drug addiction, and for years we feared her addiction would claim her life. We are grateful that when she died she was safe and she was with her family.
Madelyn was a born performer, and had a singing voice so beautiful it would stop people on the street. Whether she was on stage in a musical or around the kitchen table with her family, when she shared her voice, she shared her light.
She loved to ski and snowboard, and she swam on the YMCA swim team, winning medals at the New England regionals.
When she was 16 she moved with her parents from Vermont to Florida to attend a performing arts high school. Soon after, she tried OxyContin for the first time at a high school party, and so began a relationship with opiates that would dominate the rest of her life.
On Thursday, Trump explicitly told us which issue he wanted everyone to forget about—health care and pre-existing conditions coverage. "All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions, and if they don’t, they will after I speak to them," he tweeted. "I am in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!"
Why is he trying to blunt all the healthcare talk? Because the GOP's repeated efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and its guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is killing their chances of maintaining unified control of the federal government. Not only did the Trumpcare bill they desperately tried but failed to pass gut pre-existing condition coverage, the Trump administration is fervently backing a legal effort to strike down that very provision.
That's a problem, because 70 percent of voters in the latest CBS tracking poll named health care as the top issue driving their vote. Additionally, Democrats have been running on improving access to health care for over a year now—it is their 2018 message despite what the Washington pundits tell you. In a Wesleyan survey of ads released this week, 54.5 percent of pro-Democratic ads feature health care as an issue, while pro-Republican ads have keyed the issue only 31.5 percent of the time.
And at least some of those Republican ads have been an effort to allay fears that electing GOP candidates will lead to a dismantling of pre-existing condition coverage. The New York Times reported earlier this week that after many GOP candidates barely mentioned health care for most of their campaigns, Republicans have now released "a wave of ads" pledging they will preserve protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
This is the definition of playing offense. You play your game on the field that you want to play on, and then you win the argument, thereby forcing the other team to play the game you are already winning.
The field Trump clearly wants to be playing on is immigration and, perhaps more generally, the politics of grievance and fear. It's what he woke up tweeting about Thursday and then filled his Montana rally with later that night.
It's a jingling of the keys, if you will, to distract from the place where Democrats are having real success. And at least one political observer fell for it. Mark Murray at NBC News wrote Friday that Trump's Montana rally Thursday night was a 2016 redux of his closing arguments that cycle—full of conspiracy theories and violence stoking.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Republican House Conference Chair, is in a very, very tight race in her eastern Washington State congressional district. She’s fielding a challenge from Lisa Brown, who isn't just a former state Senate majority leader, but one with healthcare policy experience. So of course McMorris Rodgers is lying about the Affordable Care Act, pre-existing condition protections, and Republican plans.
McMorris Rodgers, who voted nine times to fully repeal the ACA and overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions, is now telling her constituents how important those protections are for her and her family, including her son with Down syndrome. This somehow hadn't occurred to her the nine times she voted to end them.
In a move that’s as infuriating as it is hilarious, McMorris Rodgers is promising that she and Republicans "will take action" to protect patients if the courts rule against Obamacare. She’s referring to the case that Republicans, including the Trump administration, have brought. Seriously, her president is suing his own administration (that's how nuts this is) to have the protections she calls "fundamental" declared unconstitutional. And she says with a totally straight face that "Protecting those with pre-existing conditions is fundamental to any health care reform for me, and I have made that a priority."
EXCEPT FOR THE NINE TIMES SHE VOTED AGAINST THEM!!!!
"Just give us one more chance," she and all the Republicans running for re-election this year on how much they love those protection are saying. "We'll really replace it this time, for reals." Never mind that the "replacement" bill they came up with gutted those protections. We already know that when they say they want to keep them, it's in name only. Every plan Republicans have come up with would make that coverage so expensive that it would be unavailable to most of the people who need it.
There's a reason for health care being the No. 1 issue for voters this election, and for that issue to be behind the blue wave headed for Republicans, including McMorris Rodgers. The population that's willing to buy these GOP lies is getting smaller and smaller.
Fox and Friends dutifully amplified the lie Rep. Matt Gaetz spread by Twitter -- an unverified video claiming Democrats and/or George Soros paid Hondurans to form a caravan to cross our southern border illegally.
Republicans learned a lot from their friendly Russian bots in 2016, and are now spreading misinformation and lies without a hint of regret and at a rapid pace as the midterms approach.
In the opening segment, Steve Doocy promoted Rep. Gaetz's lies and Trump's doubling down on them.
STEVE DOOCY: The President of the United States referred to the caravan at wide-ranging events out in Montana in Missoula. He said he suspects Democrats could be behind the caravan and while he didn't cite any evidence it is thought he was referring to a video that Matt Gaetz Congressman from Florida who tweeted out earlier, apparently showed migrants being handed down in Honduras it was believed, they don't know where it was, being handed cash and Mr. Gaetz yesterday called for an investigation whether U.S. backed NGO's, or George Soros were behind the caravan. So, you know, obviously, it's a political thing to the White House."
Republican lies are always started without "any evidence" but why would that stop Steve Doocy from basically "verifying it's all true" as long as they name-check George Soros?
Just one in three Americans has a lot of confidence in the Supreme Court following Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. That’s more people than think Kavanaugh told the truth: Just one in four believe Brett was completely honest before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
That means that 75 percent of Americans believe the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court justice after he committed a crime in front of them. Here’s the oath the Senate Judiciary Committee uses for folks testifying:
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give at this time will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
To be clear, lying to the Senate would be a crime even if Kavanaugh weren’t under oath. No doubt that’s part of why just 35 percent approve of Kavanaugh’s confirmation while 43 percent disapprove.
If consistently terrible numbers weren’t enough, high-profile figures in law and policy continue to voice their concerns about Kavanaugh’s presence on the court.x
“I think most of the American people were not in favor of his being on the Supreme Court,” said former President Jimmy Carter when speaking to students at Emory University this week. On a more personal note, Carter added that while Kavanaugh seemed legally qualified, “I think he did attack [Dr. Ford] sexually and I know that I saw him lose his cool.”
When Helen finally got to go home, her supporters and community threw a party for her, complete with Disney-themed favors, pink balloons and table settings, and a giant banner with her name on it. The 5-year-old, kidnapped from her family by the Trump administration under the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy, had spent 55 days under U.S. custody. While the girl is free, she is not free from her trauma.
“I sense she’s feeling isolated and sad,” her grandma, Noehmi, said in a Families Belong Together video. “They don’t do well after such an experience. Psychologically, they get out affected.” Detention is traumatizing for children, and the longer kids are detained, the longer it takes to overcome this trauma. Minors have been detained for months, some for as long as a year.
This is state-sanctioned child abuse, and now that the administration is seeking to keep kids and their families detained longer, perhaps indefinitely, we need to speak out. You can help by submitting a public comment here calling on officials to stop this rule change and keep children out of detention.
“People shouldn’t forget that there’s families still going through this, that families still don’t have their children,” advocates said in the video, calling on all to continue fighting for justice for these children. “It took 55 days for this child, with an advocacy organization that is very strong, with help from national groups … all of those children, maybe they don’t have that.”
Children belong free from detention and with their families. Watch Helen’s video below, then make sure to submit a public comment here.
Republican Rep. Jason Lewis is in a tough re-election fight, and this is probably not going to help him with women voters. Before he was elected to Congress, Lewis had a radio show—a radio show on which he commented extensively about sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain (remember him?) that came out during his Republican presidential primary run:
"I don't want to be callous here, but how traumatizing was it?" Lewis said. "How many women at some point in their life have a man come on to them, place their hand on their shoulder or maybe even their thigh, kiss them, and they would rather not have it happen, but is that really something that's going to be seared in your memory that you'll need therapy for?"
"You'll never get over? It was the most traumatizing experience? Come on! She wasn't raped," Lewis added, using a voice mocking an emotionally distraught woman.
How many women? Pretty much all of them, jackass. And it’s true, it’s not always the most traumatizing, seared-in-your-memory experience. But when it is traumatizing, seared-in-your-memory stuff is when the hand on the thigh or the kiss comes from a boss, someone who can make or break a career or even just a woman’s ability to pay next month’s rent. When it is traumatizing, seared-in-your-memory stuff is when the hand on the thigh or the kiss seems like the prelude to rape, when it’s physically threatening and doesn’t seem like it will stop there.
That said, sexual harassment and sexual assault need not have been deeply traumatizing to be f*#king wrong. One of the things we’ve seen from the testimonies of the #MeToo movement is how many women’s careers have been derailed because they left a good job to get away from a predatory man—even if he didn’t rape them. Unfortunately, the Brett Kavanaugh saga showed us that Lewis is not outside the mainstream of his party, or at least its male elected officials. “Come on! She wasn’t raped” is a good translation of many Republican responses to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Kavanaugh, and if anything, these comments from Lewis are soft, because Ford was in therapy in part as a result of Kavanaugh’s assault and it still wasn’t meaningful enough for Republicans to acknowledge it as a real sign of trauma.
Even though Lewis’ comments from back then would have been standard Republican fare during the last couple months, he apparently realizes they may be a problem this time around, just weeks away from the election: when CNN asked his campaign for comment, the response it got was a letter threatening legal action if it posted the audio of his comments. (CNN posted the audio anyway. It's here.)
Housing and rent are too high in big cities. That means we need to get rid of antiquated zoning statutes and build, build, build. But wait:
The Federal Reserve recently determined that increases in supply won’t automatically reduce rents. New York City’s former planning director said the “more housing” theory didn’t work in practice there. Zillow data show that adding market-rate units only benefits the rich: Though rents have declined slightly for luxury rentals, rents for working people continue to rise.
This is not coming from some neoliberal shill or NIMBY die-hard. It’s coming from the progressives at the LA Tenants Union. What’s up with that?
It’s simple: the LATU wants to convince us that more construction isn’t enough. We also need rent control, which means that everyone should vote yes on Proposition 10, an initiative on the November ballot that would repeal a California law limiting rent control.
That’s good to know, I guess. But when more construction and more rent control also fail to bring down prices, I wonder what we’ll need next?
Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh tried to deflect the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia by lying that there was no real outrage over the four American deaths in Benghazi.
Conservatives will lie, cheat and spread conspiracy theories at the drop of a hat to defend Trump, no matter if he's just being asked to take action against an ally nation that brutally murdered a US-based journalist.
It's insane, but here's more proof.
Hannity asked Limbaugh about the Khashoggi affair, and he said that "The Left" is trying to blame his murder on Trump, which is not the case at all.
We want proper action taken. Allies don't get to murder journalists because they improve Donald Trump's bottom line.
Limbaugh, "I think this is a precarious time for the Trump administration because the Left is trying to use this Khashoggi death, tie it to Trump. They are trying to get Trump blamed for everything."
Limbaugh went on to describe the good changes MBS was doing in Saudi Arabia.
"He was getting rid of the Wahhabi influence, which is where terrorist Islam comes from," Rush said.
"Then this Khashoggi thing comes along, and it looks like there isn't any real reform. You criticize the state, and they kill you, so forth."
That's what happened in a nutshell.
Hannity did the Kellyanne Conway "blame somebody else" thing and attacked the Clintons for taking money from the Saudis for their foundation years ago.
Sean said, "Didn't the Clintons take $25 million from the Saudis for their foundation?"
For the United States, diplomatic actions range between supporting those whose principles we admire, and making alliances with those who can provide immediate strategic advantage regardless of human rights abuses. A purely altruistic foreign policy would reward good behavior where it was found, withhold from bad actors, and meet needs in any case. Such a foreign policy might be effective at not just promoting exactly the policies we want to see in the world, but cementing the United States as a genuine force for good. It might. But we don’t know, because such a policy has never been followed.
At the far end of the spectrum is a policy in which all decisions are weighed against a simple formula: Do they have something I want, right now? It’s enlightened self interest. Without the enlightenment. It’s a policy that takes when it can, and never pauses to think about either who might be harmed or the long-term consequences. Nations that follow such policies aren’t without alliances—but those alliances are based on mutual gain, rather than support for the broader good. A nation following this policy would make alliance with the bastard offspring of Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler … if it generated even a fleeting advantage over other players.
On occasion over the 240 plus years it has played on an international state, the United States has come close to touching the moral end of the axis. It’s done so when it realized that offering a fallen enemy a hand up was more effective than a boot heel. Or when it’s used its force in genuine defense of the downtrodden. But on way too many occasions, the United States has slipped down the realpolitik scale to indulge in war for profit, the overthrow of democratic governments, and alliance with tyrants. Those actions may be justified with theories that employ dominoes or split the world into “spheres of influence.” But even when they’re justified, they’re in no sense just.
The mystery of the phantom inspector general is still unsolved and the inspector general of the Interior Department is back in the news. The inspector general’s office released a new report about grifter behavior from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the result of one of at least four such investigations into Zinke. In this case, Zinke got the department’s solicitor office to approve his wife traveling in government vehicles with him, even though it was against the rules:
The employee who authorized the move told investigators that “she routinely advised” Zinke’s aides “that it would be ‘cleanest’ and ‘lowest risk’ if she did not ride with him” but could find a way to justify it. This summer, Zinke changed Interior’s policy so that family members could ride with him.
Zinke confirmed to investigators that he had directed his staff to research the possibility of giving his wife a volunteer job at Interior, a move that one ethics official objected to on the grounds that it was designed so that Zinke wouldn’t “have to pay” for his wife’s travel. Zinke subsequently “denied that it was an effort to circumvent the requirement to reimburse the DOI for her travel,” the report states.
This report came out just hours after the Interior Department denied that a Housing and Urban Development official and Trump loyalist would be taking over as acting inspector general, a claim HUD Secretary Ben Carson had made late last week. The White House also insists it knows nothing of any such appointment, but the claim from within the administration that a former Trump campaign staffer with no investigative experience would be taking over the role raised some red flags:
While presidents have the right to hire and fire inspectors general, the Inspector General Act of 1978 specifies that candidates should be chosen “without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations.”
That’s hilarious, in the Trump context, and certainly points to a way the Trump administration could solve its little problem of corrupt cabinet officials: by shutting down internal investigations through the appointment of loyalists. That possibility is one more reason we need a Democratic Congress in a position to investigate and conduct oversight of these crooks.
The federal judge who ordered the reunification of migrant kids and parents separated at the southern border is now ordering the administration to move forward on dozens of pending asylum claims from some of these families. “In an Oct. 10 emergency motion to force the government to comply with the settlement,” CBS News reports, “civil rights attorneys said the delay had already led to the deportation of dozens of families who had been detained.”
In a major victory for families late last month, the administration had agreed to give as many as 1,000 parents affected by the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy a second chance at asylum. Some deported parents could even win a chance to return to the U.S. However, “the government has since argued that it did not have to begin processing the asylum claims until the deal is formally approved at a federal court hearing scheduled for Nov. 15.”
The delay was having dire results. "Over 40 detained families decided to accept removal—instead of receive due process—because they simply could not wait in detention any longer," attorneys told Judge Dana Sabraw. “In the order Thursday,” the San Diego Union-Tribute reported, “Sabraw said the process should move forward as agreed upon, starting with the 60 or so people in immigration detention who have already signed forms and are ready to proceed with orientations and interviews.”
Stalling on these possible protections is par for the course for this administration, which has stomped on the asylum process under the watch of Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, earning the rebuke of numerous immigration judges, active and retired. While Judge Sabraw has so far, inexplicably, refused to hold officials like Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen in contempt for continuing to violate his family reunification order, this urgent order could result in life-saving protections for families.
Sales of existing homes have been declining for the past half year:
“Without a doubt there is a clear shift in the market, as evidenced by lower sales and more inventory,” said Lawrence Yun, the trade group’s chief economist. “We’re also seeing soft data in foot traffic. [It] has notably slowed in previously super heated markets.”…Meanwhile, mortgage rates have risen in the past year and appear to be nearing 5%, a threshold analysts say could deter many from purchasing a home. The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in September was 4.63%, up from 4.03% in January, according to Freddie Mac.
Hum de hum. Just another data point in our strong yet somehow skittish economy.