Giuliani Calls Trump Tower Meeting A ‘Set Up’ (Probably Involving Hillary Clinton)

Crooks and Liars - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 08:00
Giuliani Calls Trump Tower Meeting A ‘Set Up’ (Probably Involving Hillary Clinton)

Not content to falsely claim Donald Trump fully exonerated by the Mueller report, Rudy Giuliani seemed to get nuttier and nuttier as he claimed Donald Trump Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with the Russians was a set up that was somehow tied to Hillary Clinton, and later, that the whole investigation was a “frame up” against Donald Trump that should have a “good investigation” to “ferret that out.”

Giuliani first called the genesis of the Mueller investigation “a counter-intelligence frame-up” at about 16 minutes into his appearance on America’s Newsroom today. While other networks were scouring the newly-released Mueller report, Fox hosted Trump attorney Giuliani for 24 minutes of more prebuttal sycophancy.

Instead of challenging Giuliani, host Bret Baier validated him. “There’s a lot that we don’t know about the early part of the investigation” Baier said. He expressed hope that Trump’s lackey, Attorney General William Barr, will “look into all that.”

Later, Giuliani went on to suggest that the Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and the Russians was a Fusion GPS/Hillary Clinton set up:

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Categories: Politics

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Trump tried to collude and obstruct, and repeatedly lied to the public

Daily Kos - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 07:30

Change Research report here. And Reuters (Trump at 37%, 40 yes-42 no on impeachment) is here. Elizabeth Warren is all in. 

Susan B Glasser/New Yorker:

The Mueller Report Won’t End Trump’s Presidency, But It Sure Makes Him Look Bad

Many commentators were surprised and outraged that Attorney General Barr held on to the report for as long as he did. Soon after he received it, he released a four-page summary, which now seems more than a little discordant with the tone and substance of Mueller’s actual findings. On Thursday morning, he held a twenty-two-minute press conference at the Justice Department to weigh in, once again, with his own views of how exculpatory the report is for President Trump—all before letting anyone actually read it. In his press conference, Barr made a number of dubious and highly questionable claims, such as an assertion that the White House had fully coöperated with Mueller’s investigation and that Mueller had found “no evidence” of the Trump campaign conspiring with Russia. In fact, the report details the many ways in which Trump was not only refusing to coöperate with the investigation but was doing his best to shut it down. For instance, he tried to get the White House counsel to fire Mueller and repeatedly lied about doing it. The Mueller report also notes that the lack of a conclusion about whether there was a conspiracy between Trump and Russia “does not mean there was no evidence.” But, having now read the report, I am not surprised by how the Attorney General chose to characterize it; William Barr, it turns out, is a perfect representative of the Trump Administration.


Trump 2016 was aided and abetted by the Russians. That is a hard fact. Republican spin won't change that fact, or the fact that Trump did everything he could to shut down the investigation. So  the Trump administration lies, they cheat and they steal. What the Mueller report lays bare is that Republicans are corrupt to the core to go along with it.

Categories: Politics

Saturday Morning Open Thread: D&D, the Family-Friendly Modern Edition

Balloon Juice - Sat, 04/20/2019 - 04:36

I first hooked up with the Spousal Unit when we were sharing a crowded off-campus ex-frat-house, and he was a serious Dungeon Master. (I wasn’t a player; it was obvious we could either game together or date, and dating won.) His feelings about the game’s new popularity are — as with so many phenomena for us late-Boomer nerds — somewhat mixed:

There was something about Dungeons & Dragons that spoke to Mario Alvarenga in a deep way. He tried it for the first time five years ago — never mind that he was not a teen, as most newbies are, but an adult. While experiencing the role-playing game, he could imagine scenes down to the tiniest detail: the bump of cobblestones on a street, the smell of baked goods in a market, the coldness of the wind. The boredom in his life melted away.

He joined one regular group, then two, then four. Soon, he was leading games as a Dungeon Master at his local game store. Alvarenga, who is 31 and works full time as a caregiver, quickly found his entire nonworking life overtaken by elves, gnomes, dwarves and wizards…

Yes, D&D is back. But it’s cool now (sort of). And legions are into it, including an unprecedented number of adult and female players, attracted by a popular recent revamp and new online playing options. It’s the ultimate sign that nerd culture is now mainstream.

Vin Diesel, Jon Favreau, Drew Barrymore, Dwayne Johnson, James Franco, Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper, Ta-Nehisi Coates: The list of celebrities who have “come out” about rolling the 20-sided dice is as long as a wizard’s beard. “Game of Thrones” writer George R.R. Martin first flexed his storytelling muscles as a young Dungeon Master, as did the showrunners on the HBO series. Joe Manganiello is so obsessed that he wrote a D&D movie script. The game has been on TV shows including “Big Bang Theory” and “Futurama.” Next month will see the release of a “Stranger Things” tie-in D&D starter set…

D&D has come a long way since Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson invented it in 1974 as an alternative to miniature-military war gaming. No longer is it a game to hide out with in Mom’s basement.

Today, people play it at bar and restaurant pop-up events such as “Drinks and Dragons” in Philadelphia, and “Orcs! Orcs! Orcs!” in Portland, Ore. They pay $2,650 per person per weekend to play it in Caverswall Castle in Staffordshire, England. They swell the ranks of the D&D Meetup groups from Tokyo (37 members) to Kolkata, India (501 members)…

More people are playing, partly, because it has never been easier. D&D used to be a nitpicky, number-crunchy affair. Then, in 2014, Wizards of the Coast released a new edition — the beloved 5th edition — that is more streamlined, more spontaneous and less rule-driven. As the longtime L.A.-based player Barry Thomas Drake, 58, explains: “No more arguing about the precise number of mouse hairs you need for a certain spell.”

The company also made it more inclusive. Gone is the rule mandating female characters’ strength be less than males’. Gone is the sexist artwork — no more armored bikinis, no more monsters with breasts, no more topless ladies (unless her character really, really calls for it). Characters come in a rainbow of skin colors and body types and sexual orientations — like the wood elves who identify as non-binary…

Women, in particular, love the new edition. D&D was originally a nerdy guy thing, emphasis on guy. Yet the number of female players is at 38 percent and climbing…

These days, even the most surreal of feats is possible: playing D&D as a career. Popular podcasts such as “The Adventure Zone” and “Critical Role” have turned anonymous players into Internet royalty. “Critical Role” began as a group of professional voice actors in Los Angeles goofing around with D&D in one another’s living rooms. It’s become a multiplatform series with an audience of half a million people a week.

Satine Phoenix started Los Angeles’s largest D&D Meetup group. She’s now Wizards of the Coast’s official community manager for the 40 million people who play the game worldwide. She travels the globe spreading the D&D gospel, organizing charity events, hosting Web series, fielding “social navigation” questions from Dungeon Masters and generally “orchestrating all of the experiences.”…

On a balmy Saturday night, a dozen people are sitting around a D&D table at Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory. Frank Contreras, 18, who typically plays two back-to-back sessions here every weekend, says he likes the “possibilities” D&D stories offer. “Our world, the real world,” he adds, “is kind of dark.” He’d just finished decapitating an ogre.

With D&D, a quiet, gray-haired accountant on disability like Leigh-Anne Anderson might reinvent herself as a sexy barbarian criminal enforcer suffused with rage. Anderson, 50, plays in Contreras’s evening group.

“I have a picture,” she says, unfolding a drawing of a buxom woman with long, flowing red braids. “That’s me.”…

We’ve come a long way since the Mazes & Monsters exploitation days, at least, and *that* is an unmixed blessing!

Categories: Politics

Amazing Acoustic Guitar Solo Jam of the Night: R.D. King, "Thrum"

Little Green Footballs - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 23:41

R.D. King the self titled record available now!
High Resolution Studio Masters, Mp3s, Flac, and Wave downloads, Guitar Tabs available:
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Twitter: @rdkingmusic

Categories: Politics

Open thread for night owls: On Earth Day—and every day—beware big polluters' greenwashing

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 23:30

Mallika Khanna at Common Dreams writes—This Earth Day, Beware of GreenwashingBig polluters may not care much about the environment, but they’ll still try to fool customers who do: 

This Earth Day [which is Monday, April 22], I’d like to warn you about “greenwashing.” That’s the practice of corporations branding their products “eco-friendly,” even when they actually pollute, to deceive environmentally concerned customers.

Even if you’ve heard nothing about greenwashing, you’ve probably read about the Volkswagen emissions scandal, “Dieselgate.”


A few years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many Volkswagen cars being sold in America had been outfitted with software that enabled their diesel engines to detect when they were being tested. This allowed the engines to improve emissions performance under controlled laboratory conditions.

But out on the road, the engines were emitting 40 times above the nitrogen oxide pollutant levels allowed in the United States. The software was simply covering that up. [...]

Unfortunately, Volkswagen is nowhere close to alone. Greenwashing has a deep history dating back to the start of the modern environmental movement in the 1960s. Since then, no industry has been immune to greenwashing.

In 2019, you can find this unethical business practice flourishing in the fashion, electronics, fuel, food and agriculture, and plastics industries (among others).

While you can help in small ways through individual action, the biggest impact you can have is by supporting policies like the Green New Deal. When our tax dollars support sustainability on a massive scale, we’ll see a much bigger impact than what we can achieve in a store aisle.

Organize-Fish-eating-fish_NoTEXT_BlueRed.jpg Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups



“I've lived long enough to see the triumph of zealots and absolutists, to watch money swallow politics, to witness the rise of the corporate state. See the party of working and poor people become a sycophant of crony capitalism. Watch the union of church and state become fashionable again. Witness the coupling of news and entertainment. See everyday people cast overboard as the pirates and predators of Wall Street seized the ship of state. I didn't drift; I moved left just by standing still.”            ~~Bill Moyers, Interview at The Progressive, 2014




On this date at Daily Kos in 2003Massive protests against US:

The US has occupied Iraq all of 37 minutes, and already is facing mass protests.

In the first Friday prayers since U.S. tanks drove to the heart of Baghdad last week, a Muslim preacher said the United States had invaded to defend Israel and denied Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, a key justification Washington offered for the war.

No prayers were held last Friday. Followers of the preacher, Ahmed al-Kubaisi, carried Korans and waved banners that read "No to America. No to Secular State. Yes to Islamic State."

"Leave our country, we want peace," one banner read.

"This is not the America we know. The America we know respects international law, respects the right of people," Kubaisi said.

What is worrisome to me is not the protests against the US -- this was to be expected. It's the way the U.S. invasion and nacent occupation is strengthening the hand of Islamists. Say what you will about Saddam, but he kept the hard-core fundamentalists under control (the reason Hussein and Osama Bin Laden hated each other). They have now been let loose, and it does not portend good things, either for the U.S. occupation or for the region's future.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: More on the Barr Report II. Armando asks what Dems do next, as we review choice bits of the report. Prince & Bannon planned Seychelles meet, destroyed evidence. Michelle Wolf vindicated. 12 live investigations still out there. And it all comes back to FIFA!

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Categories: Politics

After hundreds of accidents, stroller maker hoped Trump officials would stop a recall—and they did

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 23:24

Serious question: What the hell does the Trump administration have against babies?

OK, it’s one thing to cut children’s health insurance and then their SNAP benefits. Yet we’ve never before dealt with someone who called putting toddlers in cages a “deterrence tactic,” nor someone who thought nothing of kidnapping small children from their parents and then subsequently losing them. 

All things considered, it should probably have come as no surprise that when a morally-bankrupt company refused a safety recall on a product that consistently harmed small children, Trump’s people immediately stepped in—to help that company continue to harm children.   

Between 2012 and 2018, there were nearly 100 injuries with the Britax Child Safety 3-wheeled BOB jogging strollers—caused by the front wheel flying off with no warning. Both children and adults were harmed, with injuries ranging from bleeding to smashed teeth, scraped faces, torn ligaments, and broken bones. One small kid bled from his ear canal. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had seen enough, and requested that Britax conduct a voluntary recall on BOB jogging strollers that were built before October 2015. The company absolutely refused. Not only that, the Washington Post reports, they refused to warn their customers.

The company said the strollers were safe when used as instructed and met industry standards for safety.  

The agency didn’t back down. It sued to force a recall in February 2018. Britax kept fighting. That was unusual. Companies normally want to avoid public clashes with safety regulators, according to past and current agency staff members.

At the time, the commission was composed of three Democratic commissioners and one GOP commissioner.

800px-Ann_Marie_Buerkle_Official_Portrait_112th_Congress.jpg "Cartoonishly Evil": Trump's pick to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission, former GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle

The GOP commissioner was Ann Marie Buerkle, who had taken over as acting chair under Trump the year prior. The Dem commissioners say she forbade staff members from pressuring the company into the voluntary recall.

However, since the Democratic commissioners had a majority, and fearing many more children would get harmed, they voted to sue Britax in February 2018. The vote was three to one, with all Democrats voting yes and Ann Marie Buerkle voting no. 

Even after getting sued, Britax refused to order a recall. The company did improve their design for a new model so the front wheel wouldn’t come off as easily, but did nothing about the hundreds of thousands of strollers with the old design that were already out in the world, carrying babies.

As the Post notes, a company fighting a safety recall is not normal—especially if they are taken to court over it. Britax’s refusal to comply led to the first lawsuit by CPSC in six years. However, Britax does have a lobbyist, and friends on Capitol Hill.

Britax also had an ace up their sleeve:

The company had a different plan: Wait until the commission was taken over by Trump appointees and then make the entire thing go away.

According to The Post, the plan worked.

By November, the commission’s lawsuit against Britax ended with a settlement, approved by a 3-to-2 commission vote reflecting the new Republican majority.

Two Republicans awaited confirmation with the Senate, and with their approval, the Republicans assumed a majority on the CSPC for the first time in a decade, with former GOP Senate staffer Peter Feldman, and Dana Baiocco, a Republican attorney who defended companies from product liability claims.

The Republican chairwoman, Ann Marie Buerkle, wasted no time. Not only were Democratic commissioners kept in the dark about the stroller investigation, Buerkle helped end their case in court with a ridiculously stupid solution. Instead of a recall, Britax only needed to promote a “public safety campaign,” and offer a replacement part or a discount to those who requested one.

Even though the entire purpose of the CPSC is to promote the safety of consumer products, especially for children, Trump’s new GOP majority apparently doesn’t feel that way: 

x x YouTube Video

Despite the numerous injuries, Britax company president Robert McCutcheon vehemently denies there’s anything wrong with the strollers and was quite happy with the new leadership’s decision. Even his company’s news release said the company was “pleased to announce” the very favorable resolution.

It didn’t stop with dangerous strollers, either.

According to the Washington Post, the number of companies fined for misconduct was cut more than half since Buerkle took over. She and her Trump allies have given other companies a roadmap to follow if they are worried about expensive recalls. 


Hopefully this story gets enough attention so other shady companies won’t be tempted to ever judge a baby’s safety against their bottom line. We can’t count on quality public servants in this administration to take care of our safety, and especially not the safety of children—who for some reason have drawn a peculiar ire from this new brand of Republican. Yet we can damn sure rely on each other to spread the word, and to not make it profitable for companies to fight tooth and nail for the Trump administration’s permission to harm children.

Categories: Politics

Friday Night Respite Open Thread

Balloon Juice - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 23:09

I’m sure the rationalists are already explaining that this is not true language use, but the cat and his person have achieved a mutually satisfactory method of communication, and by my standards that is enough.

Categories: Politics

'The Colbert Report'? Stephen's Hilarious Take On Mueller

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 23:00

On Thursday's Late Night with Stephen Colbert, Stephen returned us firmly to Planet A. “If you just returned to this dimension from the Phantom Zone, I want you to know that today the Mueller report was released.”

“You know how for a couple years now you’ve been thinking, ‘There’s probably bad stuff in the Mueller report that makes Donald Trump look terrible,’ but then something like three weeks ago Attorney General Bill Barr put out his four-page valentine to Donald Trump, and then you thought, ‘Maybe I’m crazy?’ I’m here to tell you, you’re not crazy.”

Colbert reacted to the report's release on CD-ROM. “I’m disappointed. Everyone knows obstruction sounds more authentic on vinyl.”

Colbert also reacted to Trump's response to the Special Counsel appointment, when Trump made the now infamous comment, "This is the end of my presidency. I’m fu*ed.”

“I’m guessing that’s not how an innocent person reacts,” said Colbert.

Colbert then imagined the comment happening to a married couple: “'Honey, it’s late, where have you been?' ‘Oh my God, this is terrible. This is the end of our marriage. I’m f-----.’”

Colbert also responded to this Trump tweet:

Categories: Politics

Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Resistance FRIDAY!

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 19:30


Late Night Snark: It’s Mueller Time (For Realz!) Edition

"As you probably know, the Mueller report is out. It’s 448 pages long. Say what you will about this president, he does have Americans reading again."

—Jimmy Kimmel

"So what's in the report? Mueller's team found lots of evidence that Russia ran a massive online campaign, including hacking emails, to undermine the 2016 election. Put it this way: Trump got into the White House about as legitimately as Lori Loughlin's daughter got into USC."

—James Corden

RosensteinBarr.jpg "The only other time I've seen a face like [Rod Rosenstein’s at the Barr presser] is when my toddler suddenly doesn’t have to use the potty anymore."
---James Corden

"My favorite thing in here is just a juicy morsel: that Don McGahn had to explain to Donald Trump what a lawyer does. Because when they were in meetings together, he was taking notes and Donald Trump was like, 'Why are you taking so many notes? I've had lots of lawyers before and they don’t take notes.' And [McGahn] was like, 'Well, I'm a real lawyer.'"

—Samantha Bee on The Late Show

"According to the report, when his then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the president that a special counsel had been appointed, the president slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my god, this is terrible. This will be the end of my presidency. I am fucked.’ Oh. The one time we wanted you to be right, and ya weren't."

—Seth Meyers

"President Trump refused to be questioned in person by the special counsel, but he did submit some answers in a section titled, 'Responses of Donald J. Trump.' Now, I have reason to believe that these responses were not actually written by Donald Trump, because…uh…they're written."

—Stephen Colbert

And two years ago...

"Today at the White House Easter festivities, Melania Trump kicked things off by blowing a whistle. Then again, most women standing near Donald Trump end up having to blow a whistle."

---Conan O'Brien

Your complete and un-redacted west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Categories: Politics

Warren throws down the gauntlet, stomps it into the mud, squirts lighter fluid on it, sets it ablaze

Balloon Juice - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 18:44

Thank you, Elizabeth Warren:

I’m in for $50.

I was just informed that Easter is THIS Sunday rather than next. Fucksake! Guess I’ll be shopping and carving three butter lambs tomorrow. You?

Open thread.

Categories: Politics

Mueller Report Open Thread: Assange/Russia/Trump Collusion Edition

Balloon Juice - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 17:57

Trump is a godsdamned magnet for monsters. Per Kevin Pousen, at the Daily Beast:

As laid out by Mueller, Assange’s involvement in Russia’s election interference began with a June 14, 2016 direct message to WikiLeaks’ Twitter account from “DC Leaks,” one of the false fronts created by the Russians to launder their hacked material.

“You announced your organization was preparing to publish more Hillary’s emails,” the message read, according to Mueller’s report. “We are ready to support you. We have some sensitive information too, in particular, her financial documents. Let’s do it together. What do you think about publishing our info at the same moment? Thank you.”

A week later, WikiLeaks reached out to a second GRU persona, Guccifer 2.0, and pitched WikiLeaks as the best outlet for the hacked material. On July 14, 2016, GRU officers used a Guccifer 2.0 email address to send WikiLeaks an encrypted one-gigabyte file named “wk dnc link I .txt.gpg.” Assange confirmed receipt, and on July 22 he published 20,000 DNC emails stolen during the GRU’s breach…

Rich was a 27-year-old DNC staffer when he was gunned down in what police have described as a robbery gone wrong. The unsolved murder timed shortly before Assange’s DNC leaks spoke volumes to inhabitants of the far right wing fringe, where it’s long been an article of faith that Hillary Clinton has her enemies killed…

With Assange behind it, the Seth Rich hoax moved into the almost-mainstream, spawning a quickly-retracted report on Fox News, and a series of “investigations” by Assange ally Sean Hannity. It also wreaked havoc in the lives of Rich’s surviving family, particularly his anguished parents who later begged perpetrators of the charade “to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder.”

Even as he was ruthlessly framing Rich to protect himself, the GRU, or both, Assange was privately communicating with his real sources to arrange the transfer of the second election leak, material the GRU stole from John Podesta’s Gmail account…

The Mueller report quotes from cryptic emails and messages exchanged between WikiLeaks and the GRU accounts in September 2016, and based on metadata, Mueller suspects the transfer occurred on September 19. But the actual transmittal of the massive Podesta haul evidently took place in a channel that Mueller couldn’t crack. The report notes the possibility that, this time, the files were simply carried into the Ecuadorian Embassy by one of Assange’s visitors.

In the end, the most charitable interpretation of Assange’s “dissembling” as Mueller calls it, in the Seth Rich hoax is that he genuinely couldn’t rule out the possibility that Rich was his source. The Mueller report demolished that final moral refuge. Rich had been dead four days when Assange received the DNC files...

Categories: Politics

Cartoon: Stop & Shop's corporate scabs

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 17:50

Stop & Shop is a massive corporation that is probably second only to Dunkin’ Donuts in ubiquity here in New England. Often there’s a Dunkin’ inside the Stop & Shops. What makes those brands stand-ins for our region isn’t their corporate boards and the profits they shovel to shareholders, it’s their employees. They deserve everything and more than what their asking for.

Their strike is now entering its second week and in addition to not crossing picket lines, the employees can use all the support they can get.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook, or Patreon.

Categories: Politics

Mueller's actual report revealed Barr to be a lying, scheming Trump shill

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 17:21

The release of Robert Mueller’s redacted report Thursday finally gave the nation a chance to assess just how honest and forthcoming Attorney General William Barr had been in his original four-pages of “principle conclusions” from the original. Let’s just say, Barr’s account didn’t fare well. Actually, Barr’s account was a cover up, full stop. In fact, Barr has proven to be a lying, scheming shill for Donald Trump. He proved that through his press conference before the release and he proved that through the way he manipulated Mueller’s words to give them different meaning. Let’s do a side-by-side comparison of three of Barr’s excerpts to Mueller’s actual report, counting down to the most egregious of them all.

3. In clearing Trump of obstruction of justice, Barr twisted a Mueller quote to make it seem like there was no underlying crime to obstruct. In fact, Mueller was explaining that despite the absence of a criminal conspiracy regarding Russian interference, other potential crimes did exist for which Trump was attempting to impede the investigation.


In making this determination, we noted that the special counsel recognized that “the evidence does not establish that the president was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the president’s intent with respect to obstruction.


Vol. II, Page 157: Obstruction of justice can be motivated by a desire to protect noncriminal personal interests, to protect against investigations where underlying criminal liability falls into a gray area, or to avoid personal embarrassment. The injury to the integrity of the justice system is the same regardless of whether a person committed an underlying wrong. In this investigation, the evidence does not establish that the president was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference. But the evidence does point to a range of other possible personal motives animating the president’s conduct. These include concerns that continued investigation would call into question the legitimacy of his election and potential uncertainty about whether certain events — such as advance notice of WikiLeaks’ release of hacked information or the June 9, 2016, meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians could be seen as criminal activity by the president, his campaign or his family.

Categories: Politics

Elizabeth Warren calls on Congress to exercise its constitutional authority and begin impeachment

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 16:18

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has released a statement via Twitter calling on Congress to exercise its constitutional authority and begin impeachment hearings against Donald Trump right away. 


Categories: Politics

U.S. drops from 'satisfactory' to 'problematic' on global press freedom index

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 16:18

The United States is dropping on an international ranking of freedom of the press, with Reporters Without Borders citing threats to journalists as a key problem. The U.S. fell three spots to number 48 out of 180, a move that took the nation from “satisfactory” to “problematic” and which the organization pinned on an “increasingly hostile climate that goes beyond Donald Trump’s comments.”

“Never before have US journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection,” according to the report, which pointed to the mass shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. The Press Freedom Tracker lists 10 journalists physically attacked in 2019, five killed in 2018, and 46 physically attacked in 2017.

While Reporters Without Borders points to that “increasingly hostile climate that goes beyond Donald Trump’s comments,” they made clear that Trump is a significant factor. “The president's relentless attacks against the press [have] created an environment where verbal, physical and online threats and assault against journalists are becoming normalized,” the organization’s interim executive director told NPR.

Categories: Politics

Posing as Border Patrol, militiamen are harassing asylum-seekers on the Mexico border

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 16:00

When border militias start getting involved with people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s always a nightmare waiting to happen—or rather, to happen again. When they start targeting asylum-seekers, as they appear to be doing in New Mexico, it’s a recipe for disaster.

An outfit calling itself United Constitutional Patriots has been prowling the borderlands in New Mexico’s Sunland Park area and rounding up asylum-seekers whom they encounter, turning them over to authorities with U.S. Border Patrol.

What’s clear is that the militiamen are presenting themselves to the refugees—most of whom, their own interviews reveal, appear to be arriving from Central America seeking asylum on a variety of grounds—as official federal patrolmen.

Categories: Politics

Fucking Schrödinger’s Exoneration Here

Balloon Juice - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:49

Does this sound like an innocent man who was totally exonerated by the Mueller report:

God I hate this motherfucker and all the stupid pricks and lying sacks of shit that put him in office and continue to enable him.

Happy fucking Easter.

Categories: Politics

Louisiana lawmakers consider bill to ban the jailing of rape and abuse victims to make them testify

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:46

In Louisiana, reports Samantha Michaels at Mother Jones, Democratic State Sen. J.P. Morrell has introduced SB 146, a bill that would prohibit the use of a “material witness warrant” to temporarily lock up victims of sexual assault and domestic violence to ensure they testify in court. This may not happen often in New Orleans or elsewhere, but when it does the damage can be awful well beyond the psychological impact of rape and abuse victims being incarcerated for days, weeks, or months, sometimes in the same jail as the person charged with those crimes, sometimes while the accused is free on bail. Joel Gunter writes:

"Even a couple of days in jail can destroy someone's life," said Colleen Kane Gielskie, a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union in New Orleans. "It sets off a cascading effect, you can lose a job, lose custody of children, all kinds of things that can have lasting consequences."

Gielskie was referencing the case of an attempted gang murder, which is a more common situation for when material witness warrants are issued, as has been done in jurisdictions across the nation. But the effects of jailing in instances of abuse and sexual assault are even more damaging.

Witnesses held under these warrants aren’t protected by constitutional guarantees, including Miranda rights or access to a public defender. Typically a judge issues the warrant on the word of a district attorney without ever hearing from the crime victim. Indeed, getting a prompt appearance before a judge is another right the witness isn’t accorded, thus being victimized twice, once by the perpetrator and then by the system that is supposed to deliver justice.   

Michaels cites the case of New Orleans accountant Renata Singleton. In 2015, after being held five days in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail, she showed up in court in an orange jumpsuit to testify in the case of her ex-boyfriend who was facing charges of abusing her. He, on the other hand, came to court in his street clothes, pleaded guilty, and spent zero time in the slam. 

Categories: Politics

Voting Rights Roundup: Missouri GOP aims to undo redistricting law and stop future voter-led reforms

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:35
Leading Off

Missouri: After Missouri voters approved a ballot initiative in a 62-38 landslide last year to amend the state constitution to make legislative redistricting fairer, Republicans in the legislature are now are plotting to both undermine the new amendment and make the initiative process itself much more difficult.​

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​Missouri already had a bipartisan redistricting commission for drawing legislative maps, but its operations had become deeply deadlocked and left the state with some of the most unfair lines in the country. By contrast, the new redistricting reform measure imposes a requirement that any new maps be fair to voters from a partisan perspective.

That partisan fairness requirement isn't sitting well with Republicans, whose veto-proof supermajorities could be threatened if the maps are redrawn to be fairer. As the Brennan Center's Michael Li has explained, the GOP is considering its own constitutional amendment that would make several alterations to 2018's redistricting reform.

First, it would abolish the position of nonpartisan state demographer tasked with drawing the maps and put that duty back in the hands of a bipartisan commission of political appointees—a commission that repeatedly deadlocked during this decade's redistricting. Most critically, it would eliminate the partisan fairness requirement and instead require that maps prioritize geometric compactness over other criteria, something the voter-approved reform only takes into consideration alongside other requirements.

Compactness itself is a poor foundation for truly fair maps, both in terms of partisanship and in ensuring that local communities, including communities of color, have the representation they ought to. What's more, Democrats aren't clustered by chance or by choice: Thanks to historical and ongoing racism in the housing market and suburban white flight, places like the St. Louis metro area are highly segregated by race, and, as a result, by party. Prioritizing compactness would therefore have the same impact as outright GOP gerrymandering by packing Democrats and black voters into a disproportionately small share of seats.

While Missouri is a red state, and the GOP is assured of winning majorities in all but the biggest of Democratic waves, Republicans could theoretically lose the popular vote by a landslide yet retain control under the current lines. That's something Republicans readily appreciate, since in a typical election, these unfair lines could mean the difference between a regular majority and one that can override vetoes.

Categories: Politics

CBO: More than 1 million people have lost insurance under Trump

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:31

The Congressional Budget Office released what would have been a bombshell report Thursday, had not the Mueller report eclipsed it. According to that report, there are 1.4 million more uninsured people now than in 2016, the last year of President Obama's second term.

It estimates that there are now 28.9 million uninsured people in the U.S., up from 27.5 million in 2016. The report attributes much of that increase to the loss of coverage through Medicaid, where the Trump administration has made it much more difficult in many states to enroll and maintain coverage thanks to new rules like work requirements.

Another portion of those now uninsured might have moved out of exchange coverage and into the junk insurance plans the Trump administration has made more available. Those are not included in CBO's counts, because those plans don't meet CBO's definition of coverage, which is "plans that must comply with the regulations governing the nongroup market as well as coverage that is exempt from some of the regulations but that nonetheless provides comprehensive major medical coverage."

CBO isn't the only tracker that’s found this loss of coverage. Its results correspond with an increase in the uninsured population tracked by Gallup. In January, it measured the highest rate of uninsurance in four years of collecting data. Gallup's numbers are higher than CBO's, but together they define a trend. We're moving backward under Trump, in so many ways.

Categories: Politics