Politics

Steve Schmidt Calls For Shunning Saudis: 'We Need Them For Nothing'

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 17:51
 'We Need Them For Nothing'

After pronouncing Saudi Arabia a "leech on the United States" ruled by a "despotic regime," Steve Schmidt let fly at the United States' non-response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the war crimes committed in Yemen, and more.

"In the same way that Paul Manafort's criminality was an absolute utter open secret in Washington, D.C., who [MBS] is is also an open secret," Schmidt said before letting fly at Donald Trump. "There are few things more shameful than, one, on his first foreign visit goes to Saudi Arabia, a place where we hail MBS and his progressivism because women can now drive a car alone?"

Derisively, he added, "We need them for nothing."

But he was just warming up. Having made the case for why we don't need the Saudis for anything, he then started to call for complete and total severance of all relationships with them, beginning with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

"It's time for every P.R. agency in this country that has an office in Riyadh to shut it down and come home "It's time for every lobbying firm to fire the Saudis. It's time for every state pension fund to divest, for everything technology company, for every media company that has taken dirty Saudi money, send it back," he ranted.

"This is a disgrace," he concluded.

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Categories: Politics

Trump says he hasn't visited U.S. troops abroad because he's 'been very busy'

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 17:43

  In this handout provide by the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama (L) receives a fist-bump from a U.S. soldier as he greets hundreds of U.S. troops during his visit to Camp Victory on April 7, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. Obama is serving as the 44th President of the U.S. and the first African-American to be elected to the office of President in the history of the United States.  (Photo by Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images) Iraq, April 2009

In January of this year, a favorite Trump newspaper, USA Today, ran an op-ed titled “Mr. President, do your duty. Go see our troops.” President Trump didn’t. Mostly because Donald Trump is a coward of a man. He’s a bully, and like most bullies, he’s afraid of the world around him. He doesn’t trust the world around him. He loathes the world around him for making him feel insecure. In an interview with the Associated Press released Thursday, Trump, who has found time to play golf 149 times in the first 20 months of his presidency, was asked why he hasn't visited the troops in Iraq or Afghanistan. He had this to say:

US President Barack Obama greets US troops during a surprise visit to Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014, prior to the Memorial Day holiday. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) Afghanistan, 2014

Trump: Well, I will do that at some point, but I don’t think it’s overly necessary. I’ve been very busy with everything that’s taking place here. We have the greatest economy in the history of our country. I mean, this is the greatest economy we’ve ever had, best unemployment numbers. Many groups are, you know, we’ve never even been close to these numbers. I’m doing a lot of things. I’m doing a lot of things. But it’s something I’d do. And do gladly. Nobody has been better at the military. Hey, I just got them a pay raise. I haven’t had a pay raise in 11 years. I just got them a substantial pay raise. ‘They’ meaning our military people. I just got them new equipment. They have stuff that was so old that the grandfathers used to fly it. I have done more for the military than any president in many, many years.

Categories: Politics

Sarah Silverman In: "Conservative Pundit Barbies" (Feat. Brambi Streeter)

Little Green Footballs - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 17:35

Meet Brambi Streeter, the latest in a line of near-identical blonde conservative pundits.

Starring: Sarah Silverman as herself; Lawrence O'Donnell as himself; Milana Vayntrub as Brambi Streeter; Steve Tom as Scientist #1; Raj Desai as Scientist #2; and Andrea Anderson as Retired Brambi Clone.

Categories: Politics

280,000 Alabamians don't know they can vote in this election. Volunteer to help change that

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 17:32

Until recently in Alabama, a Jim Crow holdover law explicitly designed to keep black people from voting purged folks with a past felony conviction from the voter rolls.

That law was reformed in 2017. Now, 280,000 Alabamians who had previously been disenfranchised can cast a ballot this November.

Good news, right? There is a catch. The state of Alabama refuses to inform these individuals of the change in the law. That means the majority of people affected may still believe that they cannot vote.

The Campaign Legal Center and Southern Poverty Law Center have come forward to do what the state of Alabama refuses: contact thousands of now-eligible voters to inform them of their right to vote and to help them register in time for the upcoming election.

Categories: Politics

Chief architect of the GOP tax scam runs from it on the campaign trail

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 17:24

Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam of the 6th Congressional District had big plans for how the Republican tax giveaway to the rich was going to help lift the GOP to victory in the midterms. But now that same plan is being wielded against him on the campaign trail, writes TPM's Cameron Joseph. 

While Roskam isn't airing any ads about the GOP's signature legislative victory, his business-minded opponent Sean Casten certainly is.

“There’s no disputing Peter Roskam’s link to Donald Trump as the author of Trump’s tax plan that gave $1 trillion in tax breaks to big corporations and the top one percent, adding nearly $2 trillion to the deficit,” Casten’s latest ad intones. “And to pay for all this they want to send the bill to America’s seniors, cutting Social Security and Medicare.”

Casten cut that ad long before Mitch McConnell launched his own personal campaign this week to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Compounding problems for Roskam is the fact that his highly educated suburban district is exactly the type of territory where white women have been abandoning the GOP in droves. Daily Kos Elections ratings currently rank IL-06 as a toss-up, with Casten leading Roskam 47-42 percent. 

So much for that silver bullet.

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Categories: Politics

Senate Republicans continue Senate and Judiciary death march with Trump court-stacking plan

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 16:49

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said this after the bitter confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh: "I would like to have the future of mending things." Who knows whatever the hell that actually means, because it sure as hell didn't mean operating in good faith.

That much was clear when he announced that the committee was going to be conducting two more sessions for multiple judges during the pre-election recess period. That's after Democrats negotiated a deal, specifically to allow the Senate to recess last week, to confirm 15 judges without a fight.

"If there was ever any hope that after the Kavanaugh experience we could return to bipartisanship on the Senate Judiciary Committee, it was shaken this morning," Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told The New York Times in an interview Wednesday, the day of the first hearing. That's only in part because one of the nominees is 36-year-old Allison Rushing, an important circuit court nominee who clerked for both Justice Clarence Thomas and for Neil Gorsuch when he was on a lower court. She has not been admitted to the bar in her own home state of North Carolina. She doesn't meet the American Bar Association's general requirement for a recommendation (12 years of practicing law or of legal experience). She's only been allowed to practice in the appeals court circuit that she's been nominated to in the past year.

Democrats boycotted the hearing, which they might have well had since their presence wouldn't have made a damned bit of difference. And that allowed them to not be present to hear shit like Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch tell Rushing that "I'm very proud of you." Only one Republican senator present, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, expressed any concern about the fact that Rushing was being nominated for a lifetime appointment when she has essentially zero relevant experience. But the Federalist Society loves her, largely because she helped the Alliance Defending Freedom, which took the lead in helping bigot baker Jack Phillips, who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

The whole exercise of having these hearings, not to mention the nominees themselves, "is a travesty,” said Nan Aron, founder and president of the Alliance for Justice. "It's a stealth effort to confirm a nominee who might not withstand the scrutiny of the full committee." It's not even really a stealth effort. It's a brazen ‘fuck you’ to Democrats, to the institution of the Senate, to the federal judiciary, and finally, to the Constitution. That's just how Grassley and his boss, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, roll.

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Categories: Politics

Internet Smacks Jason Chaffetz For Racist Tweet Against Elizabeth Warren

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 16:43
Internet Smacks Jason Chaffetz For Racist Tweet Against Elizabeth Warren

Jason Chaffetz went to Disneyland today! While he was at Disneyland, Chaffetz decided it would be cute and snarky to tweet this:

Because nothing says cutting-edge snark like a swipe at Elizabeth Warren, amirite?

The replies were...lit.

Categories: Politics

Jared Kushner tells Trump to let murder of journalist blow over, like kidnapping and killing kids

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:53

The New York Times reports that Saudi Arabia may be close to coming up with an official alibi for how 15 men climbed onto planes, flew to Istanbul, ambushed Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and literally took him apart under the watchful eyes of the Saudi consul. With a bone saw. In the great tradition of murderous despots everywhere, they’ve selected a fall guy.

The rulers of Saudi Arabia are considering blaming a top intelligence official close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, three people with knowledge of the Saudi plans said Thursday.

The feeling among the Saudi royals is that blaming General Ahmed al-Assiri would provide a “plausible” high level official behind the ghastly murder and dismemberment, while allowing crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to claim shock and ignorance.

But the Saudis aren’t the only ones looking for a way to keep any blood from staining bin Salman’s robe. Senior White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has been “urging the president to stand by Prince Mohammed.”

Kushner doesn’t have a complicated alibi for his friend bin Salman. Because he doesn’t think he needs one. Kushner is just arguing that Trump should stall. If they wait long enough, according to Kusher, it’ll all just blow over.

Mr. Kushner has argued that the outrage over Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible killing will pass, just as it did after other Saudi errors like the kidnapping of the prime minister of Lebanon and the killing of a busload of children in Yemen by a Saudi airstrike.

Sure. Everybody let the Saudi royals get away with kidnapping a prime minister and bombing a bus load of kids. Which were, after all, just “errors.” So just wait and the press will get distracted and they’ll forget one Trump-hating journalist. It’s the kind of plan that could only come from Kushner’s “special genius.”

Thursday, Oct 18, 2018 · 8:35:07 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

On Thursday afternoon, the New York Times reported that Trump does believe that Khashoggi is dead.

Mr. Trump stopped short of saying the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death. But the president acknowledged that the allegations that the prince ordered the killing raised deep questions about the American alliance with Saudi Arabia and had ignited one of the most serious foreign policy crises of his presidency.

“This one has caught the imagination of the world, unfortunately,” Mr. Trump said to reporters from The New York Times in a brief interview in the Oval Office. “It’s not a positive. Not a positive.”

Yes. People noticed this time. Unfortunately.

Categories: Politics

In groundbreaking survey, young Latino voters in Texas name health care for all as top issue

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:49

Young Latino voters in Texas name health care for all as their top priority, a groundbreaking survey of more than 1,000 young Texans finds. Permanent protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients—Texas is home to the second-largest population of beneficiaries in the nation—rank a close second.

“The Latinos we interviewed,” says the report from Jolt Initiative, Ethnifacts, and US-ness, “demonstrated a deep understanding of the issues they cared about and were most motivated by liberal issues, including universal healthcare, protection for DREAMers, racial and ethnic equality and justice, economic prosperity, and raising the minimum wage.”

And these issues are personal. In a state where one in three Latinos do not have health insurance, state Attorney General Ken Paxton (indicted on state securities-fraud charges) is leading the latest Republican effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. “We’re being taxed but we don’t have healthcare,” survey recipient Jose said. “I’m a server in a restaurant … how do you expect me to pay $400 per month? Meet us halfway.”

Others expressed support for putting young immigrants facing deportation onto a path to citizenship. “I have friends who depended on DACA and one friend was going to college and had dreams of doing what they wanted, and now they can’t,” 28-year-old David said. “They are now working at some manual labor job so they can save money and prepare to get deported. It’s saddening that something like this can happen.”

Categories: Politics

Republicans have proved that we need the VRA now more than ever

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:48

The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision killing the Voting Rights Act’s pre-clearance requirements may go down as its most destructive contemporary ruling. The VRA was the bulwark against the most flagrant forms of voter suppression. It hardly cured all evils, but those we still faced under the VRA were several orders of magnitude less grave than those now openly perpetrated against voters across the country.

Under the VRA, nine states—and a plethora of counties and municipalities—with a history of discrimination had to seek permission from the Department of Justice before changing voting laws. The pre-clearance requirement was enacted to eliminate what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg refers to as “first-generation barriers to ballot access,” like poll taxes and literacy tests. As “second-generation barriers” emerged, VRA jurisprudence evolved to address racial gerrymandering and “at-large voting,” a way for the majority to erase minority voters. Until 2013.

If Shelby County v. Holder will be one of the most infamous Supreme Court decisions, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, which she took the rare step of summarizing from the bench, will be among the most admired.

Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.

A sweeping investigation by VICE reporters Rob Arthur and Allison McCann has confirmed that the rainstorm continues. By rejecting the pre-clearance requirement formula—based on a history of race discrimination and total number of registered voters—the Supreme Court changed the landscape in 846 jurisdictions. Now, officials can change voting laws and even close polling places at will. Sometimes, the decision comes down to just one official. Often, the process is intensely political.

Categories: Politics

Space Invaders (Open Thread)

Balloon Juice - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:45

Here’s a European starling basking in the morning sun while perched in our bamboo stand earlier today:

According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (whose officers my father derisively calls “bunny sheriffs”), these starlings are a “nuisance species” that are a “serious competitor with native species for tree cavities, often aggressively evicting other species…”

Sucks for our local woodpeckers, but I think the starlings are beautiful too.

Anyhoo, everything is terrible, so please feel free to discuss whatever since this is an open thread.

Categories: Politics

Lunchtime Photo

Kevin Drum - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:30

Is it just me, or does this guy seem like maybe he’s not enjoying his visit to Times Square that much?

September 13, 2018 — Times Square, New York City
Categories: Politics

Racism lands among the top Republican campaign strategies for 2018

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:27

Republicans are leaning hard on racism to woo voters against a historically diverse Democratic field of candidates this year. It can be hard to keep track but Huffington Post has a running list of racist comments, ads, and mailers, “grad[ing] the attacks on their subtlety using a scale of one to five white hands.”

The cases that get five white hands will be familiar to many Daily Kos readers: efforts to paint Rhodes scholar Antonio Delgado as a scary black rapper, to link Aftab Pureval to terrorism through a case he never worked on handled by the giant international law firm at which he was an associate, to link Ammar Campa-Najjar to terrorism through a grandfather who died before he was born, and, of course, Ron DeSantis’s infamous “monkey this up” comments the morning after the Florida gubernatorial primary.

But even if you know all about those incidents, it’s striking to see how widespread overt racism is in Republican campaigns, whether in casual comments from candidates or as a planned campaign strategy.

Often, it’s a comment that shows how Republicans habitually look at people of color. Both Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, Native American women running for the House in New Mexico and Kansas, respectively, have faced comments about “the reservation”—a local Republican official wanted to send Davids “packing back to the reservation,” while Haaland’s opponent thought that identifying Haaland as Indian wasn’t quite right because it “evokes images that she was raised on a reservation.” Republican Rep. Pete Olson called his Democratic challenger, Sri Preston Kulkarni, a “liberal Indo-American who’s a carpetbagger,” when Kulkarni was raised in the suburban Houston district he’s running in and is descended from Sam Houston.

Republicans aren’t always shy about memorializing their racism, though, in the form of campaign mailers and ads. A Republican running for Tennessee state Senate against Gabby Salinas, who is an immigrant, sent out a mailer saying “his family has called Shelby County home for seven generations. He’s from here. He’s one of us.” (Subtext: And she’s not.) In Arizona, ads attacking Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia have darkened his skin.

The list goes on because Republican racism goes on and on and on. And no doubt the list will keep growing in the final weeks of the campaign, and beyond. After all, we all saw how much racism didn’t go away when we elected a black president.

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Categories: Politics

Yet another study shows that HPV vaccinations don't increase girls' sexually risky behavior

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:20

A new study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows what studies dating back to 2012 have shown. The human papillomavirus vaccination program does not promote more risky sexual behavior in girls. Not that this, any more than the previous studies—such as this one and this one—will change the minds of the foes of the HPV program.

Whether it’s supplement-funded Alex Jones shrieking about “chemically lobotomized” girls, Republican politicians like Michelle Malkin spouting nonsense about "innocent little 12-year-old girls" being "forced to have a government injection," or evangelical forced-birthers decrying what they call the promotion of teen promiscuity, the political attack on the vaccination program has borne all the earmarks of arrogant ignorance and scientific illiteracy that are characteristic of delusional right-wing “thought” and propaganda. 

The vaccine protects against nine types of cancer caused through sexually transmitted infection with the HPV virus. The cancers most commonly attack the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women, and they can also appear in the throat, mouth, and anus, common locations for outbreaks in men. At least 80 million Americans are carriers. The vaccine also gives some protection against genital warts.

In the opinion of physicians and medical researchers, the time to vaccinate against an STI-caused cancer is before an individual ever has sex. Like it or not, that means vaccinating people at an age most Americans believe is too early for anyone to be having sex even though some young people will do so anyway. But there are in our midst ideologues who would rather take a chance on their offspring (and other people’s offspring) developing cancer than the possibility they might engage in teenage sex. Vaccinating girls (and more recently boys) right around puberty will, these critics say, encourage promiscuity among people who would otherwise supposedly never even think about having sex when they’re too young. 

So they’re unhappy with the recommendation of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Cancer Institute that every girl be vaccinated somewhere before they are 13 and as early as 9. Some also recommend vaccinating boys, and the UK has declared it will vaccinate all boys in addition to girls. Because of the opposition in the United States, fewer adolescents have received the series of three HPV shots than they have other vaccines. The study, reports Rosa Furneaux, reiterates previous studies showing there is no legitimate reason for this reluctance if promiscuity is the fear. 

Categories: Politics

Video: Samantha Bee, Culture Warrior

Little Green Footballs - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:18

It's brother against brother here in the culture war, but what do voters care about more: shouting and pussy hats or health care?

Categories: Politics

Where's all the mainstream lampooning of McConnell for handing Democrats a midterm gift?

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:18

Conservative pundits have been all over Democrats in recent weeks for supposedly handing Republicans political gifts, such as Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Eric Holder recently advocating for fighting Republicans more aggressively.

"Democrats are blowing it, again," chided conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens last week in an op-ed that echoed several others in the Washington Post and elsewhere.

Now GOP Leader Mitch McConnell has handed Democrats a trifecta of political gifts within the course of a couple days—a rather stunning display of either hubris or stupidity. It's hard to know exactly which, or maybe he’s trolling for more cash from Republican donors. But in the midst of GOP candidates trying to rewrite their history on attempting to strip tens of millions of Americans of health care coverage, McConnell has been openly advocating for further attacks to healthcare access on three separate fronts. 

In a Tuesday interview with Bloomberg news, McConnell not only lobbied for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, he defended the Trump administration's lawsuit seeking to kill pre-existing conditions coverage.

"It’s no secret that we preferred to start over" to repeal and replace Obamacare, he said. That vote failed in 2017. "So no, I don’t fault the administration for trying to give us an opportunity to do this differently and to go in a different direction," the majority leader said.

Never mind the fact that the GOP had two years of unilateral control to "start over" on healthcare coverage, and couldn't pass a damn thing.

McConnell followed up on that Bloomberg bomb with a Reuters interview Wednesday in which he promised to take another whack at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, if Republicans end up with enough power to do it following the midterms.

“If we had the votes to completely start over, we’d do it. But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks," McConnell explained.

Goodness, Mitch. Congrats on all the transparency, since Donald Trump has been out-and-out lying about Republican efforts to dismantle pre-existing conditions coverage.

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Categories: Politics

Midday open thread. Expert: U.S. unprepared for 2018 election hack; keeping species act talks secret

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 15:10

19 days remain until the last ballots are cast in the midterms

Today’s comic by Ruben Bolling is Under a Trump presidency, how can poor Lucky Ducky possibly win?

Cartoon by Ruben Bolling

Document shows Trump regime is seeking obscurity for its internal discussions about how to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act: 

In a private September guidance sent to offices around the country, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, or FWS, recommended that employees with its ecological services program – which administers the Endangered Species Act – take a less transparent approach when responding to certain Freedom of Information Act requests from the public.

The guidance contains a list of records that “should be considered for withholding in full or in part” from the public, including draft versions of policies and rules; internal PowerPoint presentations and webinars; deliberative email communications and meeting notes; and others.

Such records should be carefully reviewed and possibly withheld, the guidance suggests, if they might hamper the defense of the government’s decisions in certain court cases and cause “foreseeable harm” to the federal government by sowing “public confusion” or subjecting officials to public scrutiny and thereby creating a “chilling effect” on internal decision-making processes.

The iPhone’s new explicit content filters block sex ed searches but not porn subreddits or white supremacy sites:

As first reported by sex education platform O.school and tested by Motherboard, the filter blocks longstanding educational sites like Scarleteen and O.school, but allows sites like The Daily Stormer, an extremist neo-Nazi white supremacist platform that publishes articles about how women “secretly want to be raped.” Teen Vogue, meanwhile, is blocked.

Corporate orders of renewable energy smashes records in 2018:

According to the latest figures from Business Renewables Center, a membership program at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), corporate buyers in the U.S. have now purchased a total of 4.81 gigawatts of renewable energy so far this year — and are expected to top 5 gigawatts by December.

The total number of commercial and industrial renewable energy deals will be even higher, as RMI's numbers refer only to contracts for large, off-site renewable energy projects. That means rooftop solar projects deployed by the likes of Ikea and Target are not included in the RMI deal tracker, which was updated this week at the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance conference in Oakland, California.

MIDDAY TWEET

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Gay, lesbian, and bisexual Californians more likely to delay seeking health care than straights: This is true whether it’s seeing a doctor or even visiting an emergency room, and holds even when insurance coverage is the same as for straight Californians, according to a study released Wednesday. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that in the past 12 months, about 20 percent of gay and bisexual men and 29 percent of lesbians and bisexual women delayed seeing a doctor, but only 18 percent of straight women and 13 percent of straight men said they have delayed care. Study co-author Susan Babey said this reluctance to seek medical care is often related to previous experiences of discrimination. “Sexual minorities who have had a bad experience with a medical provider because of their sexual orientation may try to avoid repeating it,” Babey said in a statement. Sean Cahill of The Fenway Institute — an advocacy group for LGBTQ health care — told Martin Macias Jr. of Courthouse News that physicians and health center staff need more training to understand the way sexual and gender identity intersect with race, ethnicity and other factors.

Good grief. Human horse-blinders are being marketed to keep office-workers from being distracted.

Former Facebook security chief says U.S. not ready for 2018 elections: Alex Stamos told NBC News that the U.S. has not done enough to shore up its vulnerabilities to election attacks and has not prepared to deal with whatever fresh techniques hackers may launch to mess with the midterms, now just 19 days away. He likened what happened in the 2016 election to what happened at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the terror attacks of 9/11/2001, but says the hacking attacks did not spur an aggressive reaction to prevent a repeat. “​There's been small improvements in campaign security,” Stamos said. “But we have not seen the kind of massive upgrade in campaign infrastructure that you would need to stand against a professional hacking agency like that.” This situation is worsened by Donald Trump’s elimination of the cybersecurity czar in May. Sitting and former U.S. officials told NBC News last summer that the Trump regime has no solid plans to shield our elections from cyber attacks.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: The Khashoggi story isn’t going away just yet. Greg Dworkin explains the mechanics of Gop's planned switcheroo on preexisting conditions. Does opening up to "the other side" work? Doubt about Chinese hardware hacks. ALEC for judicial clerks.

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Categories: Politics

Here’s How a Quiet Seminar Program Changed American Law

Kevin Drum - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:54

Henry Farrell points us today to a fascinating new paper about the effect of the law and economics movement on the decisions of judges. It’s based on attendance at the famous Manne seminars, created and run by Henry Manne, dean of the George Mason School of Law during the 80s and 90s. About half of all federal judges attended these two-week seminars, and the authors of the paper used computer-based linguistics analysis to figure out whether attendees changed their attitudes after their attendance. Long story short, yes they did:

We find that judges significantly increase their use of economics language after attending the Manne program….We find that, post Manne attendance, judges render conservative verdicts in economics-relevant cases. Further, using the 100% sample of machine-coded circuit cases, we find that Manne attendees subsequently are more likely to rule against regulatory agencies, for example the EPA and NLRB….. We show that the difference in sentencing harshness between Manne and non-Manne judges is highest after the 2005 Booker decision gave more discretion to judges in sentencing. We find that Manne attendance is associated with disparate sentencing. The results are consistent with judges learning a theories of simple deterrence and the use of stereotypes as being economically efficient.

As an example, here’s a chart showing judicial attitudes toward regulatory cases involving the NLRB and the EPA. Judges who attended the Manne seminars showed an immediate change, ruling more often against both agencies after returning from the seminar:

In 2005, the Supreme Court gave judges more criminal sentencing discretion in the case United States vs. Booker. The authors looked at sentencing decisions pre- and post-Booker for judges who had attended the Manne seminar and those who hadn’t:

As soon as they had the discretion, Manne-trained judged immediately began handing out more severe sentences than other judges. The authors conclude that using simple economic models to guide legal decisions does indeed make the judiciary more conservative:

Economics-trained judges significantly impact U.S. judicial outcomes. They render conservative votes and verdicts, are against regulation and criminal appeals, and mete harsher criminal sentences and deterrence reasoning. When ideas move from economics into law, ideas have consequences.

Economics likely changed how judges perceived the consequences of their decisions. If you teach judges that markets work, they deregulate government. If you teach judges that deterrence works, they become harsher to criminal defendants. Economics training focusing on efficiency may have crowded out other constitutional theories of interpretation. Economics training accounts for a substantial portion of the conservative shift in the federal judiciary since 1976.

I think the main lesson here is not that Henry Manne was evil or that economic reasoning is wrong. The main lesson isn’t about good or bad in any sense. Rather, this is just a great example of how to influence politics. There are lots of ways to do it, and some of them are quieter than others. In this case, Manne didn’t conduct his seminars as a fire-breathing libertarian. In fact, he apparently conducted them in a fairly evenhanded way designed to appeal to judges who view themselves as neutral arbiters. But aside from not being completely evenhanded, his primary influence came from simply introducing judges to a different way of thinking, and doing it in a persistent, persuasive way. If you can do this for enough judges, and if you can make your ideas easy to apply, you can make big changes. Henry Manne did—and if he could do it, so can we. It just takes a lot of patience.

Categories: Politics

Trump's softball treatment of the Saudi royals is upsetting even Republican members of Congress

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:47

Donald Trump’s handling of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder is an expression of his theory of foreign affairs in general—it’s a model of quickly established personal connections, not long-term relationships between nation states. Trump’s business relationship with the Saudi royal family goes back almost a decade, and all those apartment sales that made him “like them very much” get in the way of Trump taking appropriate action on a national level. The same effect can be seen in Trump’s slice of cake, game of golf “friendship” with Chinese president Xi, his exchange of love letters with Kim Jong Un, and most certainly in his “he says nice things about me” relationship with Vladimir Putin. Trump’s first, second, and last thought about anyone is how they relate to him, not how the goals of the nation they lead may be in conflict with what’s good for the United States.

But the murder of Khashoggi, and the way Trump has attempted to handle it by insisting that the U.S. can do nothing to upset the Saudi royals and that the Saudis should be given all the time they want to investigate a crime where they're the primary (and, in fact, only) suspects, is rankling even to Republicans in Congress. Republicans have made their party all about Trump and nationalized the midterms to a greater degree than any election in history. But that Trump connection isn’t looking particularly helpful as they ride into the teeth of bad poll numbers with Trump openly defending a grisly murder.

It also doesn’t soothe Republicans that in his effort to put a lid on any intelligence leaks concerning what happened at the Saudi consulate, Trump has shut down briefings on the subject. That’s even true for Republicans senators, who found a scheduled Tuesday briefing un-scheduled at the last minute. As Bloomberg reports, Trump’s beyond kid glove treatment of Saudi murderers is opening rifts even with those who had reconciled themselves to a party that was all Trump, all the time. Trump may be shocked, but there are some in Congress who don’t like a crown prince who rose to power by murdering or imprisoning his relatives, or think much of the nation that’s dropping U.S. bombs willy nilly on civilian targets.

“There are a number of constituencies in Congress that are hostile to Saudi Arabia,” said Jon Alterman, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. U.S. lawmakers have complained about the kingdom’s egregious human rights record, its suppression of religious freedom and civilian deaths in the Yemen war.

Until now, there hasn’t been enough energy within this bipartisan group to bring out Republicans willing to stand up to Trump on his support for Mohammed bin Salman, or to challenge the fiction of the “largest arms deal ever.” But that may be changing.

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Categories: Politics

Montana Republican encourages allies to bring guns to Trump event to 'defend' from protesters

Daily Kos - Thu, 10/18/2018 - 14:46

Now that Fox News and President Blowhard have worked the conservative idiot brigades into a froth with notions that The Liberals are being Dangerously Uncivil These Days, Republicans are taking it to the obvious next step: Former Montana Republican Party chair Will Deschamps Sr. took to Facebook this week to encourage Donald Trump supporters to bring guns to today's Trump rally in case protesters show up.

In his first Facebook post, Deschamps wrote: “For all the prospective attendees to the Trump event. Come early. Also all you protesters, show up as well. This is a concealed and open carry state and we know how to use em. USMC trained.”

Asked to explain himself, he clarified that he was worried about "antifa." In Missoula. But he didn't say "antifa," he said protesters, and he continued to make no particular distinction as he mewed about being called out on it.

He elaborated in a second, longer Facebook Post, writing that “… protesters have become more and more brutal. They are in fact, now carrying fire arms, hardened gloves and other violent articles with them that can kill, or harm those they disagree with. Apparently, those of us that want peacful (sic) marches, are not allowed to suggest we defend ourselves.”

This appears to be a case of grandpa getting his ideas from Fox News; the network and other white nationalist promoters heavily covered fights between the fascist "Proud Boys" group and protesters but have been reluctant to mention that the fascist group appears to have engaged in most or all of that violence. This is good enough for the former state party head to both insist that there could be violence at a Montana Trump rally and sweatily opine to his allies that by gum they should pack guns to defend ourselves.

It is self-fulfilling, and that is the intent.

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Categories: Politics

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