The most hateful thing I've read this week reminds us of our country's biggest failure

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

Callie June was adopted by two loving parents, who immediately had to put her in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to deal with her stage four cancer. Her parents, already working multiple jobs, did what most Americans are forced to do when confronted with high medical bills: They set up a GoFundMe page.  

Most people have some sort of soul; they see the suffering of such a small life and are touched, even if they aren’t able to give.

Others use it as an opportunity to spread a hateful message.


The message, from a Facebook user going by “Bren Marie,” is beyond cruel.

“My prayers for Callie. I was going to donate $7600.00 to her fund, but I found out her parents are lesbian. I’ve chosen to donate to St. Jude due to that fact. Sorry. I’ll still pray for her though, but maybe it’s God’s way of getting your attention that she needs a mommy and a daddy, not two mommies.”

I genuinely mean this: Rot in hell, Bren Marie.

It always amazes me when awful human beings like her use their so-called religious beliefs to excuse their hate. The parents have committed no sin according to the Bible, and neither has Callie June.

Yet Bren Marie is the exact same sort of person whom I guarantee you’ll find at a MAGA rally, justifying the personification of sin and blasphemy while singing the praises of our charity-swindling cesspool of a president.  

But there is a bigger issue here. This is what Americans have been reduced to: begging for money from people like this, to pay for medical care which almost every other civilized country on the planet considers a right.

When the hell did GoFundMe become a mandatory pillar of our healthcare insurance? One person who doesn’t think it should be this way is the CEO of GoFundMe, Rob Solomon, who told CBS News that one-third of the site’s fundraisers are for assistance with healthcare expenses. 

“When we started in 2010, it wasn’t purposefully set up and built to be a substitute for medical insurance. We weren’t ever set up to be a health care company and we still are not. But over time, people have used GoFundMe for the most important issues they are faced with.”

Panhandling on cyberspace street corners to survive a medical emergency shouldn’t be a “solution,” but digital begging is now a well-established practice. In fact, hospitals now send out letters requiring you to beg for money before they treat you.


It’s only getting worse. Thanks to Donald Trump, one million more Americans have lost their healthcare since 2016. That number is growing rapidly, and even people who do have insurance still have to pay excruciatingly high deductibles.

So, until we get serious about a basic level of care for all of our citizens, begging will remain an established feature of our system. I had to do it six years ago (and I’m still paying off the bills). I helped a RedState blogger do it. Even conservatives who have declared themselves immune from needing healthcare have had to embrace it.


The Affordable Care Act was a step forward, but let’s face it: Our healthcare crisis is far too big to simply argue for “tweaks” to it. Until the Democrats control all branches of government, the ACA is too prone to manipulation and destruction. The GOP efforts to harm the ACA have had one silver lining, though: More Americans are behind single-payer than ever before. Try 70% of Americans.

Our leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, need to get on board with where the rest of America is. Their waffling is just stupid. You think single-payer is expensive? One-fifth of our economy is dedicated to healthcare spending. We spend more on healthcare than any other nation, and yet we also don’t provide even the most basic level of care for tens of millions of citizens. There isn’t a more inefficient and expensive healthcare system. 

As far as strategy, Democrats could not get a better issue to fight on. For over a decade, the GOP has not been able to create a plan. All they can do is defend the current system, which no one, except the super rich, thinks is working.

At some point, with this new generation’s help, I believe we will have Medicare for All. None of the arguments and studies supporting it can match the image above, which is a metaphor of healthcare in this nation that can’t be ignored: A hateful stranger not only refusing to donate, but also leaning on their supposed faith as they insult the suffering parents of a young child in unimaginable pain.

Categories: Politics

The Coming Information War

Balloon Juice - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:12

The Mueller investigation was primarily into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Much of the discussion in the report about that interference is redacted.

We can expect the same in the runup to the 2020 election. That means starting now.

What Russia is doing cannot entirely be dealt with by those in political power (those who want to, anyway) or those in network power (same). And it’s not just Russia, it’s China, North Korea, Iran, and some 400-pound dude in his mother’s basement. We all have to be responsible consumers and distributors of information on the internet.

This is going to be one of my themes. Today I found a particularly good Twitter thread, which I’ll put into a more narrative form. The thread has gifs that I won’t drag in, so if you like that sort of thing, check out the link.

1/ Finished Reading the . I want to highlight 3 things in the report and how they relate to the IRA (Senate data set) investigation that I was part of last year:

2/ #1 In the “Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency” report, it was important to me to focus on the *infiltration of movements & activation of Americans* who were identified and targeted. The Mueller report does that as well, noting repeated outreach via Messenger.

3/ From both far-left/far-right press there’s been an ongoing “haha it was just some stupid memes” line.


The IRA went far beyond what a “social media agency” does. It leveraged techniques used by intelligence pros to target Americans, develop trust, get ppl to take action.

4/ When we think about how disinformation will spread in 2020, this kind of engagement with real, aligned Americans will likely be a big part of it. It’s hard to identify this kind of activity.

7/ There were dozens of formal FB Events but they also occasionally put random event promos into Insta posts. There were tons of community events promoted on Black-community targeted FB pages. Instigating in-the-street action is another thing I would expect more of for 2020;

8/The Mueller report did a great job describing how the IRA prioritized getting people out into the street, carefully monitored results, had ppl take photos, etc. That’s bc it’s an important part of their operation. News coverage + incendiary images lead to emotional engagement.

9/ Point #3: Influencer manipulation. This is another tactic we wrote ab in the Tactics & Tropes report. Many Trump campaign accounts retweeted IRA sockpuppets. Not mentioned in the Mueller report: the celebrity accounts, journalists, etc that also retweeted this stuff.

14/There are still ppl who don’t believe Russia did anything, or can’t separate “interference” from “collusion”; maybe the will help them accept that the GRU hacks & IRA influence op really happened.

They did.

And whatever party you are, that should make you mad

15/ Thanks for reading this thread that was actually very short compared to other threads. 420.

Categories: Politics

Latino voting power under attack as conservatives stymie internet access while modernizing census

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:12

The plan for the 2020 census includes a large push for online responses. This is not a novel idea, it’s a very sensible one in a country where everyone should have access to high speed internet. Of course, since our communication systems have become more privatized, with little to no oversight, this is not the case. But, a big part of pushing the online census is to cut down on other costs, while making the process more efficient and—in a perfect world—less intrusive. The 2020 Census Operation Plan explains it aims to:

Maximize online response to the 2020 Census via contact strategies and improved access for respondents and collect response data via the Internet to reduce paper and Nonresponse Followup.

The operational plan has everything worked out: online census information in multiple languages, response times, training, etc. Of course, this only works if people have access to internet, and know that they will be able to stand up and be counted that way. Unfortunately, while Latinos in the United States have increased their internet use, according to Pew Research, the actual access to broadband internet has not changed much since 2010.

Overall, 59% of Hispanic adults report that they currently subscribe to internet service of any kind at home, but the demographic divides in home internet subscription rates among Hispanics are wide. For example, among Hispanic adults with less than a high school education, just one-third say they have a home internet subscription.

Categories: Politics

Midday open thread. Brookings: Green New Deal means lots of jobs; WA Dems dilute pro-choice bill

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:10

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is Barring the Mueller report:

Cartoon by Mark Fiore

What’s coming up on Sunday Kos…

  • Politicians are not celebrities, and we are constituents, not fans, by Mark E Andersen 
  • Trump colluded with Russia and obstructed justice. Right-wing won't care but independents just might, by Ian Reifowitz
  • After Trump team lied about Mueller report, press has no reason to ever believe them again, by Eric Boehlert
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders' Fox News town hall: a template for a Democrat in the foxhole, by Egberto Willies
  • Trump's immigration plans are all about pain, fear, cowardice, bigotry, and punishment, by Frank Vyan Walton 
  • Election 2020: Who's got policies? Who's got platitudes? by Sher Watts Spooner 
  • Trump and Barr bring three decades of GOP criminality full circle, by Jon Perr 
  • After the Barr hoax, press has no reason to ever believe Trump team again, by Eric Boehlert 
  • Resurrection from the ashes, by Denise Oliver Velez  

Brookings study shows Green New Deal would mean tens of thousands of new jobs: But the 43-page analysis released Thursday notes that one big issue will be training people for these jobs. The research team, led by Mark Muro and Joseph Kane, said: "Occupations related to the clean energy transition offer a potent antidote to the inclusion challenges of the modern American economy. These are the types of professional opportunities the macroeconomy needs in a time of significant industrial transformation." Even though many of these jobs won’t require college degrees, they will come with middle- to high-income wages and be distributed widely throughout the economy. And, said the researchers, these jobs would provide an opportunity to obliterate institutional biases that have traditionally kept women and people of color out the workforce.

Washington state Democrats weaken bill that would extend reproductive rights to undocumented immigrants and protect these rights for the LGBTQ community: The Reproductive Health Access for All Act has cleared the state House of Representatives and is now being considered by the state Senate:

“No one’s health should be compromised because of their immigration status,” Lili Navarrete, manager of the Raiz program, Planned Parenthood’s Latino community outreach effort, said Thursday in a statement. “This is the opposite of putting people first, especially with so much alarming rhetoric against immigrants today.” [...]

“When the House Democrats have a 16-seat lead, but they still don’t feel secure enough to vote in support of immigrant communities, we have to question if they will ever be willing to do so,” Gender Justice League co-executive director Tobi Hill-Meyer said in the statement. “The trans community knows what it’s likely to be cut out of a bill to make it more palatable. We need to be clear that removing protections for the most vulnerable is not an acceptable tactic.”



Facebook masters the art of the news dump: On the Thursday before a major holiday weekend, the social media titan updated a post from last month about "Keeping Passwords Secure," italicizing what most users will never see: "Since this post was published, we discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format. We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users." Announcing bad news right before a holiday is a favorite Facebook technique.

On the Friday before Christmas, 2017, the company launched its tool that let users see if they had been exposed to Russian propaganda, perhaps assuming it is not how anyone would pass time on their long weekend. It first announced the tool was in the works the day before Thanksgiving. The night before the US midterm election in November 2018, it released a report saying it failed to do enough to prevent its platform being used to fuel political division and bloodshed in Myanmar. 

Three hives of bees survive the Notre Dame fire: The bees, some 60,000 in each hive, were about 100 feet from the source of the fire. Beekeeper Nicolas Geant told CNN that beeswax melts at 63 degrees Celsius and that "if the hive had reached that temperature, the wax would have melted and glued the bees together; they would have all perished."

Census Bureau says Puerto Rico lost 4% of its population after Hurricane Maria.

Workers excavating on an Indiana farm uncover mastodon bones: Mastodons, prehistoric relatives of modern elephants, went extinct in North America about 10 millenniums ago. the remains found on the east side of Seymour include part of a tusk, part of a jawbone with teeth, two upper leg bones, a vertebrae, a joint and about a third of the skull. “The weight of them is unbelievable,” [Land owner Joe] Schepman. “When the tusks were on the animal, they were about 9 feet long if you can imagine that.” It’s estimated the bones belonged to a male mastodon weighing around 12,000 pounds, in the range of modern African bull elephants, and that it died between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago when it was between 40 and 50 years old.

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!

x Embedded Content

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

Daily Kos T-shirt ad LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE

Categories: Politics

The Mueller report doesn't cross the 'red line' into Trump's finances—but who drew that line?

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:01

The report produced by special counsel Robert Mueller, even in redacted form, clears up a number of mysteries. Russia wanted Trump. Trump worked with Russia. And Trump lied, tampered with witnesses, and withheld evidence while fighting to destroy the entire investigation. But strangely enough, one of the things that the report does not clear up is also the simplest: Just what was Robert Mueller charged with investigating? In fact, the report seems to make that question more confusing. 

Included within the appendix of the report is the original letter authorizing the office of the special counsel. That letter, and the authority it provides, is well-known. It instructs Mueller to continue the investigation already begun by the dismissed FBI Director James Comey, specifically into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

The broad scope of that May 17, 2017, letter may sound all-encompassing. However, it was already known that this was not the last word when it came to what Mueller was instructed to pursue. On August 2, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued a second memo that overrode the original note, saying, “The May 17, 2017 order was worded categorically in order to permit its public release without confirming specific investigations involving specific individuals. This memorandum
provides a more specific description of your authority. The following allegations were within the scope of the Investigation at the time of your appointment and are within the scope of the Order.”

Unfortunately, when that letter became available in 2018 as part of the trial of Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, it was redacted to the point where it was impossible to see what Mueller’s real scope actually was. Surprisingly, this letter is not included in the report—or at least, is not in the portion of the report not currently redacted. But what is found in the report is the news that there was a third memo, this one issued on October 20, 2017. It’s these two still unpublished memos that set the real limits on the special counsel’s authority.

Why was Mueller able to address crimes committed by Paul Manafort years before he joined the Trump campaign, but Trump’s bank fraud and money laundering are unaddressed? The answer would appear to be in those memos that neither the public, nor the Congress, has seen.

Categories: Politics

Friday Cat Blogging – 19 April 2019

Kevin Drum - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 15:00

Hey, look! It’s a cat in a box!

Categories: Politics

The Bob Cesca Podcast: The Mueller Report

Little Green Footballs - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 14:56


Today's program from our podcasting affiliate, The Bob Cesca Show:

The Mueller Report -- NSFW; It's a special 90 minute edition of the show as we review the redacted Mueller Report; The Goth Ninjas are here; Jody Hamilton from the Sexy Liberal Podcast Network and TRex David Ferguson from the TRex Report Podcast; With music by Battle Tapes; and much more.

Categories: Politics

Because we could all use a laugh—Duncan Hunter owning himself, bigly

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 14:51

This is just too, too perfect. Not one to be out-stunted by his ridiculous Republican colleagues pretending to watch the wall being built at the border (they weren't and it wasn't) indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, staged his own border fiasco. He staged his own "illegal" border crossing to show just how easy it was.

Except it wasn't a border crossing, because he can't cross the border. He's been indicted for campaign finance violations and the terms of his parole mean he can't leave the country. So when Hunter " eased himself over a railing in the video before proclaiming, 'That's how easy it is to cross the border in Yuma, Arizona," he was actually stepping over a vehicle barrier that's about 100 feet away from the actual border. The actual border at Yuma is the Colorado River.

Hunter's Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar pointed out on Twitter that it appeared Hunter was violating his parole, and that led to probably the funniest part of this whole fiasco—the massive self-own by Hunter spokesman Michael Harrison. "Congressman Hunter remained in the U.S. ... I recognize our opponent is trying to create a headline, but I would encourage him and others to look and review a map."

Um, Michael? If he remained in the U.S., then he wasn't actually showing how easy it is to hop the border, was he. But you be you, guys. We need the laughs these days.

Categories: Politics

Conservatives Think the Mueller Report Shows Just How Great Trump Really Is

Kevin Drum - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 14:34

Over at National Review, Yuval Levin remarks on the fact that the Mueller report has confirmed the dangerous way the White House works these days: Donald Trump rants and raves and spits out orders, and then his aides decide which of his orders to take seriously and which to ignore:

It is not hard to see why Trump’s senior staff treat him as they do. They understand better than any of us that in some crucial respects Trump is a special-needs president, and that his distinct disabilities as a decision maker have to be accommodated in some extraordinary ways to prevent them from exacting terrible costs. But these extraordinary accommodations are unlikely to be sustainable in truly extraordinary circumstances.

….The peculiar willingness of Trump’s people to ignore or disobey him is a blessing and a curse. But more than anything it is a warning sign that ought to be taken seriously by anyone in Congress or in the executive branch who is in any way in a position to help prepare our government to handle serious emergencies.

But it’s quite clear that no one who matters takes this seriously at all. This was made crystal clear by, among other things, the reactions to the Mueller report published by . . . National Review. Nearly all of them have been spittle-flecked defenses of Trump and outraged attacks on Democrats and the media. Only a few of them took the more sober approach that Levin recommends, namely that even if the report didn’t uncover criminal acts, it sure uncovered lots of behavior that ought to be inexcusable in a president.

And that was from a publication that famously opposed Trump during the 2016 primaries. Among the Fox News set, you’d think the Mueller report was a canonization recommendation from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints—and the only reason it was so long was because Trump had performed so many miracles.

They just don’t care. As long as he keeps sending conservative judges to the Senate, Trump can do anything he wants.

Categories: Politics

Mueller report: FBI backs up former senator's claim that Russians hacked Florida's election systems

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 14:25

Mother Jones reporter Pema Levy points out that one key line in Robert Mueller's findings buttresses former Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's assertion last year that Russian military hackers had compromised Florida's election systems:

We understand the FBI believes that this operation enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.

At the time, Nelson, who was up for re-election, was bitterly derided for his warning, which he said was based on classified information. As Levy puts it, "Republicans and the media alike painted his comments as dangerous make-believe."

That even included the Washington Post's "fact checker" awarding four "Pinnochios" to Nelson, insisting, "Not a single speck of evidence backs him up, and we have serious doubts whether the classified information he cited even exists." But even if the press were to walk this back now, reporters carried water for the GOP by undermining the credibility of anyone who might sound a similar alarm in the future.

And while we don't know whether Putin's hackers were able to manipulate the election, it's important to remember just how close Nelson's election was: He lost to Republican Rick Scott by just 10,000 votes out of 8.2 million cast statewide—a margin of only 0.1 percent.

Categories: Politics

McConnell surrogate throws up desperate smoke screen: 'Mueller's report looks bad for Obama'

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 14:08

Just when you think Mitch McConnell couldn't get any more shameless, he sends out his minions to write this: "Mueller's report looks bad for Obama."

The minion in this case is his campaign adviser Scott Jennings, also a CNN contributer (and by the way, CNN, what the fuck?), who writes, "Former President Barack Obama looks just plain bad. On his watch, the Russians meddled in our democracy while his administration did nothing about it." What is of course missing from his turgid analysis ("A legitimate question Republicans are asking is whether the potential 'collusion' narrative was invented to cover up the Obama administration's failures") is any mention at all of McConnell and his very well-documented refusal to allow the Obama administration to tell the nation that Russia was interfering in the election and working to elect Trump.

The alternative history McConnell is pushing out with this surrogate is that Obama wanted to save his nuclear agreement with Iran and needed Putin on board, so he refused to stand up to him on election interference. But we know from extensive reporting that McConnell was the sole hold-out among the Gang of Eight—members of congressional leadership and leaders of the intelligence committees—on the Obama administration's effort to send a strong bipartisan statement to the American people about Russian interference. McConnell's excuse was that he doubted the intelligence. His method was to tell the administration that if it went around him and issued the statement anyway, he'd poison the election. The administration, believing that Hillary Clinton would win, decided not to put that to the test. Should it have? Possibly, but it was clear even then how toxic Republicans were willing to be, and it didn't want to test that limit.

Back to the op-ed: What's even more shameless in it is that McConnell's guy then goes on to criticize the economic sanctions Obama imposed on Russia after the election as a "toothless response to a serious incursion." Those would be the sanctions that Trump lifted and that the Senate—with Mitch McConnell leading it—refused to reimpose. We can't leave out the part where one of the companies that had sanctions lifted by Trump and McConnell just announced it was investing in a new $200 million aluminum plant in McConnell's home state. The owners of that company, Rusal, are Paul Manafort's buddy and rat-fucking pal Oleg Deripaska, the oligarch and friend of Putin, and Leonard (Len) Blavatnik, who donated $2.5 million to McConnell's GOP Senate Leadership Fund through two of his holding companies during the 2016 campaign and a further $1 million in 2017.

This desperate "It's all Obama's fault" smoke screen does tell us one thing: McConnell is worried about his own exposure here as he kicks off his next re-election campaign. It also confirms what a deeply corrupted and compromised politician he is.

Categories: Politics

Mueller's redacted report is damning—now Democrats must amplify every damn word of it

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 14:04

Attorney General William Barr sold America a bill of goods when he bypassed the mountain of damning evidence amassed by special counsel Robert Mueller to give Donald Trump a get-out-of-jail-free card. But as multiple polls in the past couple of weeks showed, nearly 60 percent of America wasn't buying the load of crap Barr was selling—and that was before Mueller's redacted report dropped on Thursday. 

What Barr's fabrication did accomplish, at least momentarily, was to give Democrats some pause about the pragmatism of continuing to investigate Trump and his many misdeeds. Many pundits touted a Monmouth University poll this week showing that 54 percent of voters think Congress should move on to other issues (even though fully 60 percent wanted Congress to see the full report). But that Monmouth poll might actually be an outlier. An AP-NORC poll found exactly the opposite—53 percent want Congress to continue investigating Trump's ties with Russia, while 58 percent believe Trump tried to obstruct justice.

But again, that was all before America finally got a detailed portrait of the mob ring Trump is running from inside the Oval Office. And what's important to remember is that every credible poll released in the last several weeks shows no real change in voters' perceptions of Trump and his behavior. Majorities and pluralities consistently believe Trump engaged in corrupt behavior, whether or not it rose to the level of criminality. On top of that, despite Trump’s weeks-long exoneration tour, he got no bump in approvals whatsoever—still hovering just above 40 percent.

Perhaps the most telling poll released this week came from Navigator Research Friday, showing that Americans find "obstruction" to be a more compelling narrative than "collusion."

In a split sample experiment, Americans were more likely to support continued investigation related to obstruction (by 50% to 40%, 49% to 33% among independents) than coordination with the Russians (45% to 43%; 32% to 48% among independents).

Independents, in particular, are much more moved by obstruction. But that's just a baseline for now, given that Mueller’s redacted report was just released and that the obstruction piece of the report gave the most robust/least redacted portrayal of Trump's corruption.

Categories: Politics

Couple walks around Rhode Island Holocaust memorial wearing Nazi armbands and MAGA hat

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 13:36

It’s not against the law to wear a swastika. That’s something that falls under the protection of the First Amendment to our Constitution. It is arguably the most fundamental freedom we have, and the most important one in defending ourselves against sliding into fascism. The irony of course is that our constitutional tool to thwart fascism can be applied to brandishing fascist symbolism and ideology. The Providence Journal reports that a man and woman were seen outside a downtown eatery on South Main Street in Providence, Rhode Island, wearing swastika armbands—the woman had on a swastika-emblazoned shirt, while the man also wore a red Make America Great Again Trump hat.

According to Sondra Pierson, who took photos of the two and spoke with the Journal, the two smoked cigarettes, crossed the street to the Rhode Island Holocaust Memorial, and took photos of one another posing around the memorial park. Pierson says she confronted the two, who responded sarcastically and then got into their car and drove away. Pierson called the police, but realized there really wasn’t much the police could do.

Steven Brown, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, told the Providence Journal that while their actions were “shameful” and “despicable,” the two asshats were well within their legal rights. Signs of hate and anti-Semitism have increased across the country as the movement that swept Donald Trump into power and buoys him up becomes more prevalent. It is legal to say those things, but the line between protected speech and incitement to violence is getting blurrier and blurrier, as the hatred and right-wing political rhetoric find their way into the mouths of mass-murdering bigots more and more often.

The continuing empowerment of those spouting white supremacist ideas by our current administration and its state propaganda outlets such as Fox News only spurs more scumbags like these two to walk around in the light of day.

Categories: Politics

Florida man arrested for death threats against Rep. Ilhan Omar and other Democrats

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 13:33

A Florida man has been arrested for death threats against Democratic members of Congress. John Kless, of Broward County, left threatening voicemails at the offices of Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Eric Swalwell and Sen. Cory Booker, including ranting about Rep. Ilhan Omar and littered with racist and sexist slurs, most of which we’re not going to quote here—but if you can think of it, he probably said it.

Kless appeared especially obsessed with Omar, targeting Tlaib as another Muslim-American woman in Congress with messages for Omar, such as “It was your Taliban bitch, the one who opened up her fucking towel head mouth about how 'some people did it.’” In other words, going exactly in the direction Donald Trump has been leading his followers with his efforts to tie Omar to 9/11 and his description of her as a “sick monster.”

That wasn’t all. To Swalwell: “The day you come after our guns motherfucker is the day you'll be dead.” To Booker: “We need to kill all you motherfuckers man, every fucking one of you, man.” He has previously left “profane/harassing” messages for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Kless also expressed pro-Trump sentiments and commanded two of the Democrats to stop criticizing him—so, yeah, this is about Trump, not just some random racist operating completely on his own.

This comes just months after the spate of pipe bombs targeting media organizations and people on Donald Trump’s informal enemies list, something that has dropped out of memory remarkably fast. This is what Trump’s America looks like.

Categories: Politics

Congressman Florida Man hired former Trump staffer fired after hanging around white nationalists

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 13:23

In August 2018, White House speechwriter and policy advisor Darren Beattie left the Trump administration after CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported Beattie had been a featured speaker at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference, a conference well-known for attracting white nationalists. Kaczynski provided details of other attendees:

The Mencken Club, which is named for the early 20th century journalist and satirist whose posthumously published diaries revealed racist views, is a small annual conference started in 2008 and regularly attended by well-known white nationalists such as Richard Spencer. The schedule for the 2016 conference listed panels and speeches by white nationalist Peter Brimelow and two writers, John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, who were both fired in 2012 from the conservative magazine National Review for espousing racist views. Other speakers from the 2016 conference are regular contributors to the white nationalist website VDare. Jared Taylor, another leading white nationalist, can be heard at the conference in 2016 on Derbyshire's radio show along with Brimelow.

In fact, Beattie appeared on a panel with Brimelow.

Categories: Politics

How far will the Republican Party go to win? It'd help Russia elect Trump, and then cover it up

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 13:17

The Mueller report, even with all its redactions, shows an erratic, deeply corrupt, highly disqualified Donald Trump, and a team around him intent on saving him from himself—and their own asses—by refusing to go along with his illegal demands. (At least when it came to the Russia probe; they were more than happy to go along with putting babies in cages and banning Muslims from entry to the U.S.) But what it also reveals is a Republican Party that is rotten to the very core, one that didn't just look the other way when confronted with evidence that a foreign adversary helped install Trump in the White House, but in effect assisted Russia's interference, and the subsequent cover-up efforts.

We've known for quite some time that the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, was aware in the summer of 2016 that Russia was working to help his party's nominee be elected, that nominee being Trump. McConnell, who had previously said about Trump that "it's pretty obvious he doesn't know a lot about the issues," and that "I object to a whole series of things that he's said—vehemently object to them," and that Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country was "inconsistent with American values," went on to actively suppress the information that Russia was interfering to elect Trump. Why? That was revealed in an interview he gave when it was clear Trump was getting the nomination. "I want to win the election, and I have to say Donald Trump has done a good job so far of winning elections," McConnell said. "I hope he can win one more."

It wasn't just McConnell, of course. There's the now infamous conversation between then-House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Kevin McCarthy in June 2016, when McCarthy "joked" that "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump." At the time, Ryan may or may not have known about Russia's election interference, but he certainly knew about it later, since he was briefed at the same time McConnell was in the late summer of 2016, when the entire Gang of Eight—congressional leadership and the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees—was briefed.

That group included Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. And lookie what Mueller uncovered about him: He was leaking information he received from the FBI to the White House. Specifically, the Gang of Eight was briefed on March 9, 2017, by then-FBI Director James Comey about the status of the investigation, including "an identification of the principal U.S. subjects of the investigation." A week later, Burr spilled the beans to the White House. On March 16, 2017, the report says, the White House counsel's office was briefed by Burr on "4-5 targets" of the FBI's investigation. That's according to notes taken by then-White House counsel Don McGahn's chief of staff, Annie Donaldson.

Categories: Politics

Dentists Need to Up Their Game

Kevin Drum - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 13:01

I have never gone to the dentist for a cleaning every six months. I figure once a year is enough, and sometimes I don’t even do it that often. Ferris Jabr tells me that this is fine. The whole 6-month thing is basically just a way for dentists to make more money:

Consider the maxim that everyone should visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings. We hear it so often, and from such a young age, that we’ve internalized it as truth. But this supposed commandment of oral health has no scientific grounding. Scholars have traced its origins to a few potential sources, including a toothpaste advertisement from the 1930s and an illustrated pamphlet from 1849 that follows the travails of a man with a severe toothache. Today, an increasing number of dentists acknowledge that adults with good oral hygiene need to see a dentist only once every 12 to 16 months.

Hmmm. This sounds a lot like my good friend, the “drink eight glasses of water every day” nonsense.

I’ve never been afraid of the dentist or anything like that. But I have to say that my recent encounters with the dental profession have been less than confidence inspiring. Several years ago I dropped my dentist after beginning to wonder if their advice was based a wee bit too much on sales goals from the head office. I had started to get a little uneasy after listening in on a scene near the waiting room that sounded more like a hawker at a Turkish bazaar than a dentist recommending treatment. I got more uneasy when they started replacing fillings awfully frequently. And then I got really uneasy when it suddenly turned out that every time I went in they discovered an “infection” that required a new kind of antibiotic treatment. The third time this happened, I tried to ask about just what this “infection” really was and what dentists did about them before this new treatment came on the market. I was unable to get a straight answer, so I left.

I switched to a dentist recommended by a friend, but last year I dropped her too. The primary reason was a fairly egregious mistake she had made, but it was also because she told me, in a conversational aside, that she had been replacing several of my old fillings because they were metal and she thought that was bad. What she had said at the time was that they were coming loose. Guess what?

The Cochrane organization, a highly respected arbiter of evidence-based medicine, has conducted systematic reviews of oral-health studies since 1999….Little medical evidence justifies the substitution of tooth-colored resins for typical metal amalgams to fill cavities….When Cochrane researchers tried to determine whether faulty metal fillings should be repaired or replaced, they could not find a single study that met their standards.

I would never have bothered getting the fillings replaced just to get rid of the metal, and now it looks as though they probably didn’t need to be replaced even if they were faulty. (Which I now doubt, based on the egregious mistake I mentioned earlier.)

Anyway, I guess it’s time for me to find a new dentist. All I want is someone who will do what’s necessary, but only what’s necessary. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how you figure that out ahead of time.

Categories: Politics

Michigan may finally stop locking children in adult jails as 'Raise the Age' bills clear committees

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 13:01

Thanks to votes in state House and Senate committees this week, Michigan may be on its way to finally joining the 46 other states that have stopped locking up 17-year-old children in adult jails. “This is an initiative whose time has come,” said Democratic state Rep. David LaGrand, one of the co-sponsors of the package of “Raise the Age” bills in the state. He said it’s “really urgent that we move this legislation forward and get to a successful change, because I think this is a deeply moral issue.”

Under current Michigan law, 17-year-olds aren’t allowed to vote. The law limits their ability to make their own medical decisions, and restricts the kinds of contracts they can enter into without the consent of a parent or guardian. But if 17-year-olds break the law, they are automatically treated as an adult and face adult consequences—consequences that include years in an adult jail and criminal records that stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Or, as Briana Moore asked the state legislature in 2018, “At what point does the punishment end? Will I always be paying for the mistakes I made as a child?” According to a report in the Detroit News about Moore’s testimony, she was 17 when she got into a fight at a local mall and was charged with, and then convicted on, an adult misdemeanor.

Michigan was among the majority of states that began charging children as adults during the “tough on crime” orgy of punitive legislation that marked the period from the 1970s to the 1990s. Today, it’s one of only four states that still do so, even though the consequences of charging and treating children as adults have become starkly apparent.

Youth in adult jails are more likely to be sexually assaulted and thrown in solitary confinement, and face suicide rates 36 times higher than young people held in juvenile facilities, according to a report in the winter 2018 edition of the American Bar Association magazine Criminal Justice. They also lose their chance at an education, because “formal high school classes are virtually absent from adult jails and prisons,” according to the report. Further, surrounding impressionable teens with adult criminals makes them more, not less, likely to commit crimes when the adult criminal justice system finally sets them free.

Categories: Politics

Stockton, CA Mayor Schools MSNBC Host: Not All 'Working Class' Voters Are White And Living In Ohio

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 12:44

Here's what I hate. These voter-on-the-street interviews we will be having all-day/every-day until the damn election in 2020. I hate them because for some reason, the only voters TV journalists seem to find are white people who will vote for Trump no matter what. Some love him, some hate him, but they are almost always white, and voting for Trump, Mueller report be damned. "He's good for 'Murica!" they drool. Then the reporter will come back on with a shrug that may or may not be accompanied by a disapproving look and say, "What are ya gonna do? This just seems to be what people want? Back to you, Steph!" It makes me in-f*cking-sane.

This morning, directly after Garrett Haake and Ali Vitali conducted just those sorts of interviews, Stephanie Ruhle had on an actual Black person who is mayor of a city in California who had a different idea of what people want. I genuinely applaud her for bringing on Michael Tubbs, mayor of Stockton, California. Nearly one-quarter of the residents live below the poverty line, and only 17% have a college degree. But when Ruhle asked Mayor Tubbs what matters to them, she went so far as to imply that the Mueller report DIDN'T matter to them. He set her straight, and quick.

read more

Categories: Politics

TSA says machines, not racial profiling, dictate invasive hair pat-downs of many black women

Daily Kos - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 12:40

It’s a complaint few white women and even fewer men would think about: Black women complain that they are frequently pulled aside to have their hair patted down at airport security checkpoints. Unpleasant, invasive, and—anecdotally—all too common. ProPublica reports that the issue may be less about personal discrimination and more about deficient technology.

TSA has asked vendors to help “improve screening of headwear and hair in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act” because the current, extremely expensive scanners used in airports struggle with thick hair, wigs, and turbans, leading to disparate outcomes. When ProPublica solicited people’s stories of having their hair patted down, more than 90 percent of responses came from women and 311 out of 720 came from black people.

”With black females, the scanner alarms more because they have thicker hair; many times they have braids or dreadlocks,” a TSA officer told ProPublica. “Maybe, down the line, they will be redesigning the technology, so it can tell apart what’s a real threat and what is not. But, for now, we officers have to do what the machine can’t.”

That means that, for now, black women are disproportionately subjected to this creepy experience. “At this point in my life I have come to expect it, but that doesn’t make it any less invasive and frustrating,” one woman said. “When you find yourself in that kind of situation, it makes you wonder. Is this for security, or am I being profiled for my race?” And the thing is, even if it’s a machine making the call, the fact that the TSA has only recently started looking into remedies for the problem is significant: If white men were disproportionately being pulled aside to have someone probe their hair, the fix probably would have come a lot sooner. For that matter, would machines have been released on the market and made the national standard, at great expense, if they couldn’t adequately screen white men?

Categories: Politics