Greta Thunberg, Time magazine's Person of the Year

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 09:49

“Meaningful change rarely happens without the galvanizing force of influential individuals, and in 2019, the earth’s existential crisis found one in Greta Thunberg.” That’s why, Time magazine editors say, she is the person of the year. She’s the youngest person Time has bestowed the title on in its 92-year history:

Over the course of little more than a year, a 16-year-old from Stockholm went from a solitary protest on the cobblestones outside her country’s Parliament to leading a worldwide youth movement; from a schoolkid conjugating verbs in French class to meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and receiving audiences with Presidents and the Pope; from a solo demonstrator with a hand-painted slogan (Skolstrejk för Klimatet) to inspiring millions of people across more than 150 countries to take to the streets on behalf of the planet we share.

That’s an achievement worthy of the honor from Time. The tradition, the magazine’s editors write, has been “rooted in the so-called Great Man theory” of powerful individuals influencing the world—emphasis on the “Great” and “Man” in the past. Kudos to Time for recognizing that it’s time to upend that tradition and that the immense challenges of 2019 demand “leaders with a cause and a phone who don’t fit the old rubrics but who connect with us in ways that institutions can’t and perhaps never could.”

Thunberg, they write, “is also the first to note that her privileged background makes her ‘one of the lucky ones,’ as she puts it, in a crisis that disproportionately affects poor and indigenous communities.” She’s smart enough to recognize that and smart enough to use that privilege. “I’d like to tell my grandchildren that we did everything we could,” she told Time, “and we did it for them and for the generations to come.”

Categories: Politics

Justice Department inspector general to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 09:39

Here’s a viewing tip for Wednesday: Watch how Republicans who were dead set against anyone making any inferences in looking at the evidence of Trump's actions in Ukraine are prepared to take wild leaps when Michael Horowitz testifies on the origins of the Russia investigation.

As the Justice Department's inspector general, Horowitz will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning to discuss the just-released report on the origins of the investigation into connections between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia. That report found a number of procedural errors by FBI investigators over the course of the investigation. However, it found no political bias in the motivations of those who initiated the investigation, and more than adequate cause for the investigation to be launched simply on the basis of preserving national security.

Attorney General William Barr immediately, and unprecedentedly, attacked the conclusions of the report, but Donald Trump and other Republicans have taken a simpler tack: They’ve lied about it. The same route has been followed by Fox News, commentary on Sinclair media, and AM radio stations across the country. As a result, a large swath of the nation is hearing only the message that Horowitz did confirm every conspiracy theory of the right; that his report was “devastating” to the FBI; and that he revealed the horrible bias against Trump that led to an attempted “deep state” coup by rogue elements out to overturn the votes of good, honest Americans.

Which won’t make it all that difficult for the right to clip out moments from Wednesday’s hearing. Look for Republican senators to pound Horowitz over events related to former Trump adviser Carter Page that took place years before Page was a part of Trump’s campaign and attempt to blur them into “Obama wiretapped Trump.” Also look for Republicans to bring up former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and the material he researched as if it were the only foundation of the FISA warrant on Page, even though Horowitz explicitly detailed that it was not the source of key information. And expect to hear Lindsey Graham say “dossier” many, many times.

Most of all, expect Republicans to attack Horowitz over his failure to find the political bias they’ve been claiming was there all along. While they keep on claiming that it’s there.

Categories: Politics

People Like Us

Balloon Juice - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 09:26

I don’t know who said it recently, but someone mentioned that Democrats might do better worrying about how their candidate is going to appeal to black voters in Philly, Detroit and Milwaukee. To me, that makes as much or more sense as trying to figure out how to turn fickle Obama/Trump voters back to a Democratic candidate. Fundamentally, though, it’s hard for people who follow politics closely, and who care deeply about the outcome of the election, to determine how to motivate the occasional voter.

In addition to not understanding the behavior of the occasional voter, I also don’t understand the behavior of the calculating voter – the one who, for example, likes Warren or Booker, but thinks that their most admired candidate is too liberal or too whatever to appeal to the occasional voter. The history of politics is full of winners who seemed unlikely at this point in the race (the current President being one, Obama being another).

Since voting nature is essentially unfathomable, isn’t the best approach just to support the candidate that appeals to you? At least you’ll be genuinely excited to support that candidate, which is a major part of motivating others.

The post People Like Us appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Mitch McConnell and Republicans won't stop ruining your internet

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 09:08

It's been two years since the Trump-controlled and partisan Federal Communications Commission repealed the open internet rule that guaranteed net neutrality. Senate Democrats gathered on the floor Tuesday to bring up the Save the Internet Act, but of course a Republican was there to block them. This time, it was Sen. Roger Wicker from Mississippi.

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In the two years without open internet protections, broadband providers have been busy throttling online content. Among the examples, as detailed by Public Knowledge: "Sprint throttling internet traffic to Microsoft’s Skype, a service that competes with Sprint’s calling service; Verizon’s throttling of services that affected the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s ability to provide emergency services during the California wildfires; and other examples that show how broadband providers have used the lack of net neutrality rules to their advantage to profit from slowing down certain types of internet traffic and favoring certain types of content."

That's just the beginning, and every day that goes by without open internet protections is just another opportunity for broadband providers to take away everything good. Another example: our location data from cell phone providers being sold to bounty hunters, or to whatever bad actor might have a desire to hunt someone down or resell the data on the black market. The throttling that net neutrality advocates warned against is happening, with most wireless carriers slowing down internet speed for selected video streaming services. Cox Communications is doing just what Big Telecom said wouldn't happen—it's offering fast lanes for gamers who will pay an extra $15 per month. And Frontier Communications is charging subscribers a $10 monthly modem rental fee, even when they already own their modems.

Consumers are being ripped off—and worse. Look at Verizon: It endangered lives by throttling internet traffic during California wildfires. That's life-and-death kind of power, which FCC chair Ajit Pai and Republicans have no problem with. The House has passed legislation to restore net neutrality, and the bill is sitting in the Senate with 45 cosponsors, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won't let it come to the floor for a vote.

There's just one more reason to ditch Mitch and elect a Democratic Senate. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as majority leader.

Categories: Politics

Trump is making ridiculous claims about 'respect' because they're ridiculous. And terrifying

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 08:55

R-E-S-P… what comes after P? Donald Trump may not be able to spell respect, but that’s okay. Because he can’t define it either. 

During a Tuesday night rally in Pennsylvania—a rally that demonstrated once again Trump’s ability to be even worse than anyone anticipated—Trump made a claim he’s used in the past, but it was particularly hilarious on this occasion. “This country is so respected,” said Trump. “And we were not respected four years ago. We were laughed at." 

It would be one thing to believe this represents simple denial on Trump’s part. That either he doesn’t remember being laughed out of NATO last week, or he thinks all that snickering was because he was just so cool the other kids were jealous. And while he’s forgetting about all of our allies, he’s also forgetting about his close friend Kim Jong Un, who also got into the act last week by saying that Trump’s renewed calls for North Korea to do as he says "must really be diagnosed as the relapse of the dotage of a dotard." For those whose use of the term dotard has fallen to … never, the BBC provides a nice citation: "a person whose mental faculties are impaired, specifically, a person whose intellect or understanding is impaired in old age".

But that’s not the case. He’s not saying this because his “dotage” simply caused him to forget. 

He’s certainly not saying this because of what the Pew polls show about define America’s standing over the last three years. Like the “confidence in U.S. leadership” question, where that shows a 58% decline in Canada, a 51% fall in the U.K. and similarly large declines around the world. Except for Germany, where it’s down by 76%.  Those same polls show an overall world view of the U.S. moving from favorable to unfavorable, and an enormous drop in how the U.S. is viewed in relation to human rights and personal freedoms. Trump isn’t even saying this because that same poll shows one country where support for the U.S. really has increased — it’s up by 8% in Russia. However, that’s not his point.

Trump is saying this because it’s a lie. Not even though it’s a lie, because it’s a lie. Because completely detaching his followers is a goal. That’s he’s achieving.

Categories: Politics

In The World According To Barr, Only Worthy Americans Have Rights

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 08:45

Chris Hayes talked to Atlantic writer Adam Serwer in the wake of Bill Barr's extraordinary statement implying some people should have fewer rights.

"Adam, you've written a lot about how Trump and Barr and others say the same attitude about due process, civil liberties," Hayes said.

"It's extraordinary, after Barr said last week that communities who criticize law enforcement can't count on their protection, that those sworn officers of the law are mobsters in which they don't get their protection money, they can't do it," Serwer said.

"And at the corollary of that is really a belief Barr and Trump had that some American citizens have the full rights of being American citizens and other Americans simply do not. And that is both the core of Trumpism and it is the core of Barr's legal theory of running the Justice Department, which is tragic irony given the origin of the Justice Department in the aftermath of the Civil War, which was to protect those new Americans who had recently been emancipated. It's a disgrace."

"It was created to stop the Klan from exercising terrorism over those newly enfranchised Americans who wanted to express their democratic and First Amendment rights, the First Amendment that Mr. Barr was talking about in that interview," Hayes said.

Categories: Politics

Michelle Goldberg: The Lies Are A 'Psychic Tax On The American People'

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 08:24

Chris Hayes had the Atlantic's Adam Serwer and the New York Times' Michelle Goldberg on last night to talk about Bob Barr's attack on reality.

"There is a kind of crazy making quality to watching someone in Barr's position take up the kind of Trump TV, Donald Trump 'no puppet, you're the puppet' line of like, up is down, the reverse of what is true is true," Hayes said.

"Right. And he's every bit as much of a liar and a propagandist as Donald Trump, he just does it in this kind of soporific, bureaucratic voice instead of Donald Trump's ranting showman voice," Goldberg said. "But it doesn't change the utter insanity of what he's saying.

"The other thing like Donald Trump is, in that in that clip you just played, he was actually describing something very much akin to what Donald Trump has tried to do in Ukraine. Right? And he's done this before. It's always kind of 'accuse your enemies of whatever you're doing' so that people out there say, 'Oh, both sides are saying the same thing, who can tell?'

read more

Categories: Politics

Morning Digest: GOP congressman who called for reviving property requirements for voting will retire

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 08:00

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

Leading Off

FL-03: On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Ted Yoho announced he would retire in 2020, holding true to his long-running pledge not to serve more than four terms. Yoho has never had any trouble holding onto this district in north-central Florida, which Daily Kos Elections has calculated as backing Trump by 56-40 in 2016, and Republicans should be heavily favored to keep the open seat next year.

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Formerly a large animal veterinarian, Yoho was first elected to the House in 2012 when he pulled off an upset primary challenge against longtime GOP Rep. Cliff Stearns, prevailing by a slim 34-33 margin. Yoho ran as a tea partying insurgent and benefited considerably from redistricting, which had seen Republican lawmakers give Sterns a district where more than one-third of the population was new to him. Yoho dominated in those new parts of the district in the primary, and it's possible that being a large animal vet was a potent asset in rural communities.

Once in Congress, Yoho was a reliable member of the radical-right House Freedom Caucus, compiling one of the most right-wing voting records in the House. True to form for the modern right flank of the GOP, Yoho once infamously said, "I've had some radical ideas about voting and it's probably not a good time to tell them. But you used to have to be a property owner to vote," and he furthermore called voting a "privilege" for those who deserved it even though federal law defines it as a fundamental right.

Yoho attained further notoriety back in 2013 when he suggested that not raising the debt ceiling and thus the U.S. defaulting on its debts "would bring stability to the world markets." Republicans repeatedly took the debt ceiling hostage after they flipped the House in 2010, and analysts had widely warned that not raising the limit and defaulting would likely trigger a global financial crisis and economic downturn.

Categories: Politics

Cheers and Jeers: Wednesday

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 07:51

Reminder: FOUR days left to enroll if you get your

health insurance through healthcare.gov.



Yeah, but……

I support the impeachment of President Trump for spending American taxpayers’ money to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars to try and buy his reelection with help from a foreign country and then trying to cover it up. But let’s not forget that his predecessor was no angel...

x x YouTube Video


But in his defense...  Oops we’re out of time so we’ll have to leave it there.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Categories: Politics

Cartoon: The Forever War

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 07:50

Pick up the new comics anthology I’m putting out, Be Gay, Do Comics: Queer History, Memoir, and Satire from The Nib. 250 pages of comics available through Kickstarter

Categories: Politics

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Historic impeachment articles introduced and Trump WILL be impeached

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 07:30

A big news day Tuesday. IG report fallout, Bill Barr’s propaganda press conference, Nancy Pelosi supporting NAFTA 2.0 (and AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka supporting Pelosi on this). 

But impeachment dominates it all.

Will Bunch/philly.com:

With GOP certain to acquit Trump, should he be impeached for the history books?

In 1940, Otto Hampel began writing postcards that attacked both the Fuhrer and his totalitarian regime, scrawling the words “worker murderer” across Hitler’s face or asking fellow citizens to “Wake up!” to the evil of their government. Over two years, Hampel covertly dropped more than 200 of these postcards in busy stairwells or other public places, in the hopes that everyday people would read them and rise up against the Third Reich. The reality, though, was that most of the cards were immediately turned over to the Gestapo by terrified citizens. After confounding authorities for two years, the Hampels were arrested and executed by the guillotine.

It’s hard to imagine deeper existential questions than the ones posed by Every Man Dies Alone. Did writing the truth about Hitler doom Otto, or did it set him free? Were he and his wife, who helped deliver the messages, heroes or reckless fools? (Consider the fact that few people — possibly no one — responded positively to the postcards.) In real life, Otto Hampel told his Nazi captors that — even as he awaited the guillotine — he was “happy” with what he did.

Flash forward nearly eight long decades to Donald Trump’s America, and it’s impossible not to hear the echoing footsteps of Otto Hampel. Postcards of truth are dropping everywhere.

Categories: Politics

Tucker Carlson's White Power Hour Guest: AOC's District Is The 'Least American'

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 07:10

Tucker Carlson invited fellow white supremacist and Manhattan Institute NYC Project Director Seth Barron to join him on his show with the specific aim of trashing AOC's district.

Why, Tucker wondered, was it that AOC's district was so dirty? "You think that the little piece of America you're responsible for, that you represent in the Congress, would be clean but hers isn't," he sneered.

As you can imagine, Barron had an answer. And when you hear it, you will not doubt that these two would be marching in a KKK parade if they didn't have some work to do hammering their white supremacism home to viewers.

read more

Categories: Politics

School Assignment Calls For Students To 'Set A Price For A Slave'

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 07:09

A Missouri teacher is on leave, the NAACP is looking for an apology, and some kids are going to have to be re-educated about why we don't put prices on human beings.

Fifth-graders in Mehlville, Missouri were given an assignment intended to contemplate free markets and wealth. How very Kochian. Among the various questions was this:

“You own a plantation or farm and therefore need more workers. You begin to get involved in the slave trade industry and have slaves work on your farm. Your product to trade is slaves.

Set your price for a slave. _____________ These could be worth a lot.

You may trade for any items you’d like.”

We've seen a lot of lessons in the past few years like this, and they're all terrible. But this one is more terrible than the others because it centers the lesson not on slavery and why it's wrong, but on the market-driven factors surrounding the ownership and dehumanization of African-Americans. It normalizes the idea that Black people are property and not human which is absolutely unthinkable in this day and age. Or at least, you'd think so.

read more

Categories: Politics

Mike's Blog Round Up

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 07:09

Just Above Sunset - no more Friendly Persuasion;

Just an Earth-Bound Misfit, I - Russia can't not cheat;

Lawyers, Guns & Money - Volcker is dead having taught us the wrong lessons;

Mike the Mad Biologist - pharmacies need to help fight the flu;

No More Mister Nice Blog - NOT THIS AGAIN.

Steve in Manhattan (@blogenfreude) blogs at stinque.com, and suggests the Gaslit Nation podcast for all your kleptocracy splainin' needs.

To recommend a link, send it to mbru@crooksandliars.com - we do check it!

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Categories: Politics

Trump Plans To 'Other' American Jews By Declaring Judaism A 'Race Or Nationality'

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 07:09

Earlier today, New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker published news that Donald Trump was planning a little executive order which would "effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion...".

And immediately I think to myself that there is something seriously wrong with this and why are Haberman and Baker selling this as some kind of initiative to sell something clearly anti-Semitic as something that is supposed to be protective of Jews? Also, where had I heard this before?

Oh, here is where, as Steve Chipman reminded me.

Yes, that's right. David Duke. And why would David Duke care about this, anyway? I think we all know the answer to that. He is looking for Jewish nationalists, and if he doesn't find them, he's happy to have them invented so he and his fellow white nationalists can single them out for harassment, derision and more.

In the article, Haberman and Baker quote Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League. His concerns are purely about anti-Semitic episodes in the United States, and he applauded the move as one which would minimize the number of them.

read more

Categories: Politics

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 07:00

We’re back, for another Wednesday!

Greg Dworkin will be dropping by, unless he’s snowed under. And maybe even Joan McCarter, unless they’re marking up the articles of impeachment. And me, unless the ceiling caves in. And lands on my alarm clock.

Anything can happen, in the age of Trump, I guess.

Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!

PODCAST LISTENERS: The great RadioPublic “paid listens” program has come to an end. Thank you to all of you who helped support the show that way! It’s still a great way to listen to the show on your Android or iOS phone. And yes, you can still download directly from their site, or listen to the player embedded right here, each day.

Nothing changes on our end. It’s still Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, plus also, me. And you! As always, we still want your voice on the air with us. Sit down with your smart phone or other electronic recording device and send us your stories and commentary to share with the audience. There’s no easier way to try your hand at podcasting, without all the hassle!

Of course there’s no substitute for having your support via Patreon, or one-time contributions via Square Cash. (And hey, if you want a cool trick for donating sorta-kinda cost free, get their cash.me app and use this share code to get $5 in your account (plus $5 in mine) when you send your first $5 (to anyone)!

For now, how about one on the house? Here’s what we did on our last new show:

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RadioPublic|LibSyn|YouTube|Patreon|Square Cash (Share code: Send $5, get $5!)

KITM Headquarters is having a problem with leaks. No, not the “Trump White House” kind, or the “Trump Russian hooker” kind, but only the “roof” kind. (Just to be on the safe side, David Waldman is having all of his phone lines replaced also.) While this is all going on, history marches on today, as House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. David recorded a perfectly timed (Would you expect anything less?) compilation of background and supporting material as our primer to better understand the context of said historical developments, natch: The IG report includes a couple of agent bros celebrating Trump’s presidential win. (Actually, they were mostly celebrating Hillary supporters’ loss.) No word yet on their names, if they were lovers, or what their orgasms might have sounded like. Speaking of friendships, Christopher Steele and Ivanka Trump have known each other for years. Donald hardly knows this Ivanka lady, he has his picture taken all the time with people. Tiffany moves up a notch. William Barr’s handpicked prosecutor isn’t confirming his wingnut conspiracies, so it’s time for Trump and Barr to move on to more handpicked prosecutors and conspiracies. Let’s back up. To the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, previous nexus of Russian and Middle Eastern corruption prior to the 2016 Presidential election, and after it as well. Just think, the FBI would not have had the impetus to open the FIFA investigation in 2010 if it wasn’t for Christopher Steele... Well, people doing criminal things does also spur investigations. Take, for instance, every single person Rudy Giuliani has talked to over the last few years. Oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky needs to get in good with Donald, and is working on that through Rudy Colludy capos like Bud Cummins, Don McGahn and Dmytro Firtash, another Ukrainian oligarch. Oligarching ain’t cheap, so Paul Manafort associate Firtash has had to pick up a few hundred million in side jobs from Putin for the last few months.

Thanks to Scott Anderson for the show summary! Please help me pay him more! Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.
Categories: Politics

Open enrollment and zero premium plans

Balloon Juice - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 06:59

The ACA open enrollment period for almost everyone will be ending in the next week.  After this Sunday, anyone who is looking for individual market insurance will need a special enrollment period.  So get enrolled.  And be ready to think about zero premium plans(**).  Zero premium plans are common and they prompt a need to figure out  what the relevant comparison is for decision making and prioritization.

The critical question from an analytical point of view is compared to what?

One way to look at this is that  zero premium Bronze plan with a $6,000 to $7,900 deductible and maximum out of pocket limit is vastly superior to the alternative of a zero premium plan with an infinite deductible, higher cost per unit of service and no potential pre-deductible services.  In that case, Bronze is great.

The other way to look at a zero premium Bronze plan is that it has a $6,000 to $7,900 deductible and out of pocket costs while Silver and Gold plans may have monthly premiums but potentially far lower out of pocket costs.  Spending $0 on premiums for a Bronze plan or  $12/month for a CSR-94 plan with a $600 deductible changes the analysis.  Bronze is, most likely really bad.

There is a middle case of a zero premium bronze plan and a $150-$200 month Silver 73 or low Gold plan with a $3,000 deductible.  In those scenarios, for people with bottom 60% health expenditures, it is very unlikely that they will incur enough claims where the cost sharing differences matter much less where the cost sharing is different enough to make up for the extra premiums that were used to buy lower cost-sharing.

Everyone who is likely to be subsidy eligible, go look.  Zero premium plans are widely available and provide at least hit by a meteor protection.



** DISCLOSURE:  I have a zero premium paper coming in the near future. My co-author and I also just got funding to do even more wicked awesome stuff in this domain.

The post Open enrollment and zero premium plans appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: YES QUEEN!

Balloon Juice - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 05:56

And too also:

“Wanna find out if I still have those ball bats in my office, boys?”

At the first appearance in the Capitol’s stately Rayburn Room shortly after 9 a.m., Pelosi spoke of Congress’s “solemn” duty to act as a check on the president before ceding the floor to the Judiciary Committee chairman to announce impeachment articles accusing the president of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. At the second press conference, Pelosi was flanked by about two dozen Democratic lawmakers, the atmosphere joyful as she touted the newly forged deal on USMCA.

If she experienced any cognitive dissonance over slapping the president with impeachment articles before handing him a bipartisan legislative victory, Pelosi did not betray it to reporters. When asked by CBS News’ Nancy Cordes if it was a “coincidence” that the two announcements were made on the same day, Pelosi swiftly responded that it was not. Congress only has one more week before a long recess, and that means multitasking, she said…

Speaking at a conference hosted by Politico later on Tuesday, Pelosi said the USMCA deal “isn’t about politics or giving the president a win,” and that Congress shouldn’t walk away from a deal that benefits Americans because the president is involved.

But the deal also holds undeniable political benefits for the 40-odd freshmen Democratic lawmakers who flipped Republican seats in 2018, many of whom promised to work with Mr. Trump when necessary and were wary of impeachment before the Ukraine scandal. Several of these members were at the podium with Pelosi as she made her announcement, including Congressman Colin Allred of Texas, Congresswoman Lucy McBath of Georgia and Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer of Iowa…

The House is expected to vote to impeach the president and to approve USMCA next week before leaving for the Christmas holiday, setting up the prospect of the House approving both on the same day. Congress must also approve the National Defense Authorization Act and 12 spending bills to fund the government ahead of its scheduled departure on December 20.

Despite the news cycle accelerating at breakneck speed, Pelosi appears to be unfazed…

The post Wednesday Morning Open Thread: YES QUEEN! appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Late-Night Dystopia Open Thread: Floriduh Cops

Balloon Juice - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 03:22

In a world with less terrible / outrageous news every day, I have the feeling this incident might’ve gotten more attention.

Most of those officers — 13 — were from Miami-Dade Police Department, having followed the truck into Broward County during a long chase, said Rod Skirvin, president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association.

Four people were killed in the shootout Thursday evening at an intersection in Miramar: two robbery suspects who’d hijacked the truck; a UPS driver they had taken hostage; and a bystander, police said.

The shootout happened as a police chase ended after the hijacked UPS truck got stuck in traffic. Gunfire erupted from inside and outside the truck, though it’s not clear who fired first.

Police officers left their vehicles and crouched behind cars — their own and others at the intersection — as shields as they approached, video from the scene showed.

Suspects Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, both of Miami-Dade County, were killed, the FBI said.

Also killed were the hijacked UPS driver, Frank Ordonez — who relatives said had been substituting for a colleague who’d called out from work — and bystander Richard Steven Cutshaw, officials said.

Whether Ordonez and Cutshaw were shot by police is under investigation, the FBI has said.

At least 13 police officers were shot at, but none was injured, according to Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association.

The chase began after Alexander and Hill robbed a jewelry store Thursday afternoon in Coral Gables, near Miami, and hijacked the UPS truck, police said.

Police radioed that gunfire occasionally erupted from the truck even as police chased it, CNN affiliate WSVN reported…

Ooooh, hot pursuit! Stealing jewelry is wrong, and pistol-whipping a store employee is worse, but I can’t see how making sure the perpetrators didn’t escape was worth shooting two people whose only crime was going to work that day.

… “Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” said David Klinger, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. The incident “was really, really bad.”

But as chaotic and calamitous as the episode was, it was also “a perfect example” of why police are allowed to use deadly force against dangerous criminals, Klinger said. Authorities said Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill had left a trail of violence behind them that evening. Stopping them by any means — even with bullets — was “absolutely the right thing to do,” Klinger said.

“In a situation like this, the police are reactive,” Klinger added. “This is not a situation they want to be in. Their hand was forced.”

The dramatic exchange of gunfire followed a high-speed chase through two counties that thwarted residents’ commutes at rush hour. The men had tried to rob Regent Jewelers in Coral Gables, triggering a silent alarm about 4:15 p.m., police said.

They said a female employee of the store was injured as the robbers and the store owner shot at each other. The gunmen fled north in a truck, then commandeered a UPS truck while the driver was making a delivery, police said. Several police cars pursued the UPS truck, with the UPS driver trapped inside, until the vehicle was boxed in by traffic in Miramar and officers surrounded it….

Geoff Alpert, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina, said that other than having a SWAT truck with heavily armed tactical police officers, he did not know of alternative ways that police could have safely ended the pursuit. The gunmen had proved that they were willing to resort to violence to escape and could have endangered other people in the area, such as by hijacking other cars, Alpert said.

“This is why the police are trained to do what they do,” he said…

Seems like the cops could’ve given the perpetrators a few minutes, just so the “they shot first” defense would be a little clearer. (Unlucky damned hostage was about to end up dead anyways.) I’m told that Coral Gables is one of South Florida’s most sought-after shopping destinations”, but we haven’t quite descended to the point where richer zip codes get a free pass on extrajudicial murder, have we?

Bonus cameo from another newsmaker:

The post Late-Night Dystopia Open Thread: Floriduh Cops appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

I Did NAZI That Coming: The President Will Sign an Executive Order Declaring Judaism a Race and Nationality

Balloon Juice - Tue, 12/10/2019 - 23:43

 The President Will Sign an Executive Order Declaring Judaism a Race and Nationality

From The New York Times (emphasis mine):

President Trump plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said on Tuesday.

The order will effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality, not just a religion, to prompt a federal law penalizing colleges and universities deemed to be shirking their responsibility to foster an open climate for minority students. In recent years, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — or B.D.S. — movement against Israel has roiled some campuses, leaving some Jewish students feeling unwelcome or attacked.

In signing the order, Mr. Trump will use his executive power to take action where Congress has not, essentially replicating bipartisan legislation that has stalled on Capitol Hill for several years. Prominent Democrats have joined Republicans in promoting such a policy change to combat anti-Semitism as well as the boycott-Israel movement.

But critics complained that such a policy could be used to stifle free speech and legitimate opposition to Israel’s policies toward Palestinians in the name of fighting anti-Semitism. The definition of anti-Semitism to be used in the order matches the one used by the State Department and by dozens of other nations, but it has been criticized as too open-ended and sweeping.

For instance, it describes as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” and offers as an example of such behavior “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

The order to be signed by Mr. Trump would empower the Education Department in such actions. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the department can withhold funding from any college or educational program that discriminates “on the ground of race, color, or national origin.” Religion was not included among the protected categories, so Mr. Trump’s order will have the effect of embracing an argument that Jews are a people or a race with a collective national origin in the Middle East, like Italian Americans or Polish Americans.

Much more at the link.

Any assertion of Judaism as a race and nationality is bad, as well as factually inaccurate. Making it official US policy, by way of an executive order, is potentially catastrophic. Other states that classified Judaism as a race and nationality include NAZI Germany in the Nuremberg Race Laws and the Soviet Union. The Nuremberg Race Laws went into effect in 1935 and were modeled on racial purity and separation laws from the Jim Crow south after Reconstruction was overthrown. In the case of the Soviet Union, the Soviet equivalents were a legacy and carryover of the pre-Communist Russian anti-Semitism that had permeated Russian life.

No one who isn’t either in denial or has decided to put political or personal profit ahead of reality, facts, and the truth needs any more evidence that the President and his administration are pushing a white supremacist agenda and are winking and nudging and signaling in a variety of other ways to Americans who would like to see the United States become a white, Christian herrenvolk. The Attorney General has now given two speeches in the past two months implying that this should be the case. But this new executive order is a significant development. And that is not meant to downplay what our fellow citizens; be they religious minorities like Muslims and the Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists mistaken for them because of superficial physiological resemblance; ethnic minorities whose families originated in Central and South America, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and/or Africa, or LGBTQ Americans have been going through since January 2017. Rather it is an acknowledgment that things are accelerating in a bad direction. When governments declare Jews to be a race and nationality apart from the rest of the citizenry, bad things begin to happen. And they begin to happen quickly.

The defenders of this dangerous stupidity – and if you go and read the rest of the article you’ll see this includes the head of the Anti-Defamation League and one of Senator Reid’s former senior staff member, as well as a number of others – who think this is a good thing because it will somehow provide protection on campus against pro-Palestinian advocates are deluding themselves. It won’t. It will be, however, a loaded gun just lying around waiting for a smarter, better organized, and more determined anti-Semite and racist than the President to pick it up and use it.

Right now there is an attempt by the ultra-religious in Israel facilitated by Netanyahu, as well as some Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the US to redefine Judaism. And it may be the dumbest argument regarding who is and isn’t Jewish ever. Even more so since it is being made by other Jews. It takes the worst portions of the anti-Semitic arguments that Jews are a race or ethno-nationality apart from all others and pushes all Jews who aren’t as devout ,or devout in a way that the person making the argument approves of, into the racial/ethno-national category. Jews who are devout, or devout in the way that the person making the argument approves of, count as actual Jews because they’re religious. So the good Jews are Jewish because Judaism is a religion and the good Jews are observing it correctly and that is the only thing that sets them apart from non-Jews. The bad Jews are Jews who aren’t really Jewish because Judaism is a race or ethno-nationality, the bad Jews are either not observing the religion correctly or at all, and therefore because they are racially Jewish they are set apart from everyone including Jews who are Jews because they are observant of Judaism, which is a religion and not a race. I’ll pause here while you diagram this so you don’t get lost…

All this executive order does is facilitate this separation of Jews out as distinct from other Americans. And despite the advocates within Judaism of trying to define some Jews out of the religion, when someone more motivated, smarter, and well organized eventually comes along and decides to pick up this loaded gun and use it on American Jews, that person is not going to discriminate between the Jews who are religious because they’re Jewing correctly and those who are a race because they’re Jewing wrong.

I am going to say it once again: being opposed to the State of Israel in general and specific policies and positions of the Israeli government IS NOT anti-Semitism. It may be anti-Zionist or anti-Israel, but it IS NOT anti-Semitism. In fact it is what Theodore Herzl, the father of Zionism, actually wanted to happen. He argued that one of the reasons that Jews needed their own state was so that issues would be elevated to state level disagreements thus reducing or obviating anti-Semitism. This was the central premise of his book Der Judenstaat! I learned this sometime between the 2nd and 5th grade in Judaic Studies at The Hillel School of Tampa. Why those who support this stupidity can’t seem to learn it, remember it, and/or understand it is beyond 7 to 10 year old me! As well as current me.

Those pushing for this are out of their minds if they think this is a good idea. Judaism is a religion. It has been a religion since the early rabbis moved the ritual practices away from a focus on sacrifice in the Temple to an adherence to commandments, prayer, and Tikun Olam. 2,000 years later there are Jews of almost every ethnicity and nationality. American Jews, or Jewish Americans if your prefer, like our fellow citizens, are descended from immigrants from all over the world. What sets us apart culturally is religious belief, adherence, and practice – not some whacked our racial or genetic theory. And while it is true that some Jews have some specific genetic markers that trace back to the Middle East, they actually share those with two other Middle Eastern groups: the Palestinians and the Druze. And that makes perfect sense as some of today’s Palestinians and Druze are most likely the descendants of Judaeans who did not flee into exile after the Romans destroyed the 2nd Temple and who eventually converted to different religions over time as different groups took over the area. And that is what really sets Jews in the US or anywhere else, outside of Israel, aside from their fellow citizens: religious belief and adherence, not race or ethnicity.

Whichever day the President signs this executive order making it the official policy and position of the United States that Judaism is a race and nationality will eventually be remembered as a very bad day for American Jews. It took a long time for the majority of white Christian America to extend whiteness to America’s Jews, which has allowed almost all of us to pass and provided us with a modicum of social, cultural, political, and legal protection since the late 1960s/early 1970s. When the President signs this executive order, the official position of the United States will become that Jews are a distinct Middle Eastern race and nationality with a specific right to self-determination. And when that happens we won’t be white anymore. And the issues surrounding pro-Palestinian or pro-Israel advocacy won’t actually be resolved. But the white supremacists, the neo-NAZIs, and the white Christian herrenvolkers will be very happy because the official position of the US government and the current President and his administration will confirm what they believe to be true.

Open thread!

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Categories: Politics