Republicans Mike Lee and Rand Paul are blocking the 9/11 first responders bill

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 15:58

It took Jon Stewart publicly shaming Mitch McConnell to get a commitment from the Senate majority leader to bring reauthorization of a victims fund for first responders to the 9/11 attacks to the Senate floor. Now two Republican senators are trying to stop it.

Sens. Mike Lee and Rand Paul are stalling the bill. Lee has reportedly placed a hold on the legislation, according to the nation's leading firefighters union. It's not clear what he's hoping to achieve with this hold, but it could be that he doesn't think spending more money on securing the future for 9/11 first responders is worthwhile. He's like that.

So is Paul, who blocked a unanimous consent request from Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Wednesday to pass the bill. "Any new program that will have the longevity of 70, 80 years should be offset by cutting spending that’s less valuable," Paul said, never mind that it's not a new program. The compensation fund ran from 2001-04, then the need of the survivors required that it be revived in 2011. It's been the law since 2015, but is set to expire next year. This reauthorization would extend it out decades, for the lifetimes of the survivors. That's to make sure they no longer have to make these continual, demeaning, and exhausting trips to Congress every few years to beg for help.

This isn't the first rodeo 9/11 responders have had with Paul. Back in 2015, Paul wouldn't even talk to responders, running away from Dan Moynihan, a former volunteer firefighter and ex-Marine who was lobbying for the reauthorization of the bill.

Lee and Paul were both "all in" and "proud" to vote for the trillion dollar GOP Tax Scam in 2017. Neither of them demanded any offset for those tax cuts, or any of the others they've voted for over the years.

Millionaires and billionaires and corporations will never have to beg Rand Paul or Mike Lee for a tax break. But they will demand the surviving 9/11 heroes grovel before them every few years in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Categories: Politics

What Kind of Fuckery is This?

Balloon Juice - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 15:36

The USDA is moving 547 researcher jobs to Kansas City — and only 145 of the existing jobholders were willing to relocate:

The agriculture department has argued that moving to Kansas City will put researchers closer to farmers and drastically reduce expenses given the Midwest’s relatively lower cost of living.

But many scientists — including the Union of Concerned Scientists — suspect that USDA’s relocation is meant to diminish USDA research.

The Milwaukee-based Agricultural and Applied Economic Association predicted the move could cost U.S. taxpayers upward of $182 million in lost productivity and research capacity.

And Tuesday’s letter from Democrats claims that it could take as long as two years to build out new office space in Kansas City.

Hundreds of Bureau of Land Management jobs are being moved to Colorado and other offices in the West.  Senator Cory Gardner, who is in big trouble in what’s now at least a purple, if not blue state, pushed for that.  The last BLM move didn’t go so well:

“The agency did not comply with legal requirements; ignored regulatory guidance; and had no documented plan, methodology, or real business case that justified their actions,” the [BLM executive] organization said at the time.

Just more disruption and stupidity running under the radar of Trump’s noise making machinery.  I wonder what else they will fuck up in the next year and a half.

Categories: Politics

Lunchtime Photo

Kevin Drum - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 15:30

Here are some illuminated jellyfish from the Moonlight Forest show at the LA County Arboretum last winter. Jellyfish! After yesterday’s gloomy black-and-white photo, I figured we could all use a big slug of color today.

December 9, 2019 — LA County Arboretum, Arcadia, California
Categories: Politics

NAFTA 2.0 Is Completely Useless

Kevin Drum - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 15:18

A while back I noted that the new USMCA treaty (i.e., NAFTA 2.0) would not increase American GDP. The government’s own analysis projects a GDP decrease of 0.12 percent, but then adds back 0.47 percentage points because they figure that newfound certainty in things like intellectual property rules will increase investment. This suggests that we might be better off just adopting the IP rules and skipping the rest.

But wait! Jeffrey Schott of the Peterson Institute for International Economics—normally the kind of place that loves trade treaties—says that even this is bogus:

Some supporters of the deal say it provides new rules that will benefit the U.S. But those “new” rules aren’t new. Rather they mirror provisions affecting labor, the environment and e-commerce from the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership that have been carried out by Mexico and Canada since that accord went into effect on Dec. 30, 2018. Trump withdrew from the TPP, but Canada and Mexico remained in it, and already apply these provisions in trade relations with the U.S.

Is this true? It seems like it. The main IP provisions of the USMCA are here. A side-by-side comparison with TPP is here. As near as I can tell, Canada and Mexico already agreed to all of USMCA’s IP rules when they signed onto TPP, with one exception: patent protection for biologics is ten years in USMCA compared to eight years in TPP. That’s about it.

Unless I’m missing something, Donald Trump has negotiated a treaty that favors Canada and Mexico when it comes to trade in goods, and does virtually nothing new to favor the US in IP law. It’s even more useless than I ever imagined.

POSTSCRIPT: Needless to day, if there are any legit trade experts out there who think I am missing something, please speak up!

Categories: Politics

House advances another bill to secure the 2020 elections that McConnell will refuse to consider

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 15:07

Campaign Action

The House is once again advancing legislation to protect elections from foreign interference, approving the Safeguard Our Elections and Combat Unlawful Interference in Our Democracy Act (the SECURE Our Democracy Act, yes annoying acronym alert) by a voice vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday. The bill would "expose and deter unlawful and subversive foreign interference," and would require the State Department to provide to Congress a list of the foreign persons involved in interfering in U.S. elections prior to up to, and apparently including, the 2016 election. Any of those people in the U.S. would have their visa revoked and everyone on the list would be banned from entering the U.S. and from obtaining a visa. Republicans tried to amend it to apply it only to future elections, because of course they did. Committee Chairman Eliot Engel is a sponsor of the bill, which he says is necessary because the White House is not "taking the problem seriously," and "not enough has been done to punish those who stuck their noses in our elections in 2016. […] The response so far simply doesn't fit the crime, and every time the president is pressed on the issue, he shrugs it off.

Trump isn't the only one to shrug it off. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stonewalled any consideration of election protection bills in the Senate. That's after a classified briefing from intelligence officials last week, which Republicans left saying they're "satisfied" that 2020 is going to be just fine. Democrats emerging from the briefing were less sanguine.

"Interference in our election is a very, very serious problem and it is obvious that we have to do a lot more at both the public sector and the private sector levels to combat it," Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said afterward. "I am very worried about what the Russians and others might do in 2020." Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner agreed that legislation is necessary, as well as "a White House that would finally acknowledge both the extent of what the Russians did in 2016 and publicly acknowledge that the ... conclusion of the intelligence community is that the Russians will be back."

McConnell, however, will continue to stonewall and even block efforts by Republicans to at least pretend like they’re doing something about it. Case in point, Sen. Marco Rubio who wants to pass legislation that would demand new sanctions against any country interfering in future elections. Not going to happen, says Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Roy Blunt. McConnell has already made him pull one election protection bill from his committee the very day it was prepared to send the bill to the floor. Now he says that "further legislation focused on election security wouldn't be the right thing to do, and he doesn't expect more election legislation to move through his committee." What a shock, huh?

The threat to the 2020 election from Russia and other foreign adversaries is very real, and McConnell is actually inviting it.

Categories: Politics

Midday open thread: Wind generates enough power for two Scotlands; small-donor $$ flows to Democrats

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 15:00

Today’s comic by Matt Bors is Pelosi vs. Trump vs. The Squad:


More than 3 million people in this election cycle have given Democrats more $420 million via ActBlue, showing that small, on-line donors will have another big impact in 2020“These donors reflect a tremendous amount of energy and interest,” said Erin Hill, ActBlue executive director. “Seeing that kind of energy early is a testament to how engaged and empowered the grass-roots are.” The donors have contributed campaign cash to more than 9,000 Democratic campaigns and groups so far. More than half the donations given through ActBlue were made on mobile phones. “Donald Trump has raised a bunch of money from small-dollar donors and has been an effective small-dollar fundraiser. So it’s important for us to make sure that we’re building the networks . . . on the left,” Hill said. “Small-dollar donors on the left are going to be key to beating Trump in November.” 

Class-action suit says AT&T secretly sold customers’ real-time locations to creditors and bounty hunters:

Despite assurances to the contrary, AT&T has been selling its customers’ location data to creditors, bounty hunters, landlords, prison officials, and all sorts of third parties, according to data privacy watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation in a federal class action filed Tuesday.

AT&T is the second largest wireless carrier in the United States, with more than 153 million subscribers.

The class action led by customers Katherine Scott, Carolyn Jewel and George Pontis also names aggregators LocationSmart and Zumigo, which bought location and network information from AT&T and sold it down a chain of third parties for commercial purposes.

Ancestors of modern humans interbred with at least five archaic human groups as they moved out of Africa and across Asia: We know two of those archaic groups—Neanderthals and Denisovans—but the unnamed other three have only been detected as traces of DNA in different modern populations. “MIxing events” with these other groups were very common in Southeast Asia. As has been learned, some Neanderthal genes have an impact today, even though they only make up 1.5%-2.1% of all European- and Asian-descended populations, as well as a handful of African-descended populations. Scientists seem likely to learn that Denisovan genes and possibly DNA from those other three groups will have modern impacts, too.



Study shows fossil fuels not nearly so efficient as previously thought: 

Oil, coal and natural gas have generally returned energy at a ratio of 25:1, meaning that for every barrel of oil used in production, 25 barrels have been made. But that measurement, called energy return on investment (EROI), has traditionally been taken when fossil fuels are removed from the ground, and fails to account for energy used during the refining process.

When the refining process is accounted for, EROI drops to about 6:1, according to a new University of Leeds study. 

Meanwhile, wind is providing enough electricity to power two Scotlands: In the first half of the year, wind turbines pumped out 9.8 million megawatt-hours of electricity in Scotland. That’s enough to power 4.47 million homes. But Scotland only has around 2.6 millionSays Robin Parker, the Climate and Energy Policy Manager at the World Wide Fund for Nature: "These are amazing figures, Scotland's wind energy revolution is clearly continuing to power ahead. Up and down the country, we are all benefiting from cleaner energy and so is the climate."

Trump said to be at odds with advisers over sanctioning Turkey:

While the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump appears set to sanction Turkey as it receives components for the S-400, an advanced Russian missile defense system, the decision to enact them sits with U.S. President Donald Trump—who said on Tuesday that it was “not fair” to halt the sale of U.S. F-35 fighter jets to the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to be banking on Trump’s disagreement with other administration officials. Turkey can’t afford any sanctions: It is edging closer to an economic crisis, with the Turkish lira falling earlier this week as Erdogan fired the governor of the country’s central bank.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Procedure Man to the rescue! We explain "words taken down" and other rules strategery. Greg Dworkin manages to sneak some polling in, despite all the excitement. Why oversight is so… damn… slow. Roger Stone silenced! Video of Trump being creepy! x Embedded Content

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


Categories: Politics

House to vote on $15 minimum wage, but Republicans are determined to slip in a poison pill

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 14:42

With the federal minimum wage stuck at $7.25 for the longest time it’s gone without an increase since 1938, the Democratic House is preparing to vote on the Raise the Wage Act on Thursday. The bill would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024—not exactly blazing speed, but a major improvement over more years of $7.25.

Donald Trump has pledged to veto the bill, which was a recreational promise anyway, since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans won’t let it through. Because Republicans hate working people and think the minimum wage should be a poverty wage, if they even think a minimum wage should exist at all. Republicans have been emboldened in their opposition by a Congressional Budget Office analysis that treats outdated studies the same as the best research on the issue, using those outdated and often garbage studies to weigh against the reams of research showing that raising the minimum wage does not cost jobs. Other research shows widespread and often unexpected benefits from increasing the minimum wage, including lower suicide rates and lower recidivism among people released from prison.

Nonetheless, despite the best research—which draws on many, many cases where the minimum wage has gone up, allowing for real-world studies of what happens—Republicans will not only oppose the raise but will try to lay traps for squishy Democrats, using a motion to recommit to undermine the entire bill. Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chairs Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan have warned that if wobbly Democrats fall into the motion to recommit trap, the CPC will vote against the bill itself, saying in a statement, “We have no doubt that Congressional Republicans will try to divide the Democratic Caucus with a disingenuous Motion to Recommit. It’s up to all of us to stand unified and reject their bad faith effort to undermine this bill,” and, “After consulting with our Members this week, we are confident that any bill that includes a poison pill Republican Motion to Recommit will lack the votes to pass on the House Floor.”

It’s time for this bill to pass, without poison pills. A vote for a $15 minimum wage is a vote for gender and racial equity, since it would disproportionately benefit women and people of color. A vote for a $15 minimum wage is a vote to give 1.3 million veterans a raise. And it’s a vote for the general proposition that work should pay a wage that someone, somewhere in this country can actually live on.

Categories: Politics

Background Briefings Are a Scourge

Kevin Drum - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 14:41

Technology journalist Brian Merchant says he’s tired of PR flacks from tech companies refusing to talk unless it’s off-the-record:

After my experience with Amazon, I decided that on all matters of importance, I am no longer going to listen to a public relations representative try to change my mind on background with unquotable statements attributable to no one. No reporter should, not when the stakes are as high as they are. If an actual source—an engineer, or a policymaker—wants to go on background for protection, that’s one thing. But a spokesperson should either go on the record or get off the phone.

I get that day-to-day journalists have a different job than I do. They need responses from tech companies when they write about them, and they genuinely want to hear both sides of a story. Nevertheless, it’s inconceivable to me that they routinely let companies get away with this. And not just tech companies, either. This goes for everyone. As Merchant says, a background briefing allows a company flack to say anything without being held accountable. They can fill your mind with any kind of nonsense as a way of trying to change what you write, and it’s all but impossible to check out the truth of what they’re saying.

I have long refused to talk to anyone on background. Obviously this is pretty easy for me, especially since I don’t talk to very many people in the first place. But the truth is that corporate PR shops aren’t very useful even when they do talk on the record, and little is missed if you give up the routine practice of “asking for comment” on every story. Inevitably, the comment is either “no comment” or “we deny it.” Who needs it?

Either talk on the record or shut up. Those should be your choices.

Categories: Politics

Asylum officer says she won't carry out Trump admin's 'facially illegal' Asylum Ban 2.0

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 14:33

An asylum officer is saying she will refuse to carry out the Trump administration’s attempted rule change essentially blocking the right to apply for asylum in the U.S. for many Central Americans and others, telling BuzzFeed News that the Asylum Ban 2.0 is “facially illegal”—and she says she’s not alone in her thinking. Other asylum officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “think it's racist and illegal.”

Under the Trump administration’s change, “asylum seekers who pass through another country first will be ineligible for asylum at the U.S. southern border. The rule … also applies to children who have crossed the border alone,” the AP reported. But unless asylum-seekers are somehow finding a way to fly or sail to the U.S., this is an attempt to block the right to asylum for anyone who isn’t Mexican and asks for protection at the southern border.

The officer, whose name was not revealed, said she found out about the change just like the rest of us: on the news on Monday. She said, “I was horrified.” She said she didn’t hear anything from USCIS about the official changes until later that night in the form of an email. “I saw it right as I was coming to work,” she said. “We’re all aghast,” knowing they deal with children and families fleeing violence and persecution. “If it's not enjoined,” she continued, “I will ask for other duties, I guess. I need this job, but my oath of office won't allow me to make adjudications contrary to the law.”

Leading organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, have already filed a federal suit challenging Asylum Ban 2.0, saying that “this is the Trump administration’s most extreme run at an asylum ban yet. It clearly violates domestic and international law, and cannot stand.”

This isn’t the first time asylum officers have condemned Trump administration policies illegally targeting the right to asylum. Earlier this year, their labor union vocally opposed the inhumane policy forcing asylum-seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico, saying it “violates our nation's longstanding tradition and international treaty and domestic obligation not to return those fleeing persecution to a territory where they will be persecuted.”

These are the people we need in government, but the asylum officer interviewed by BuzzFeed News says the situation, for her, is unsustainable, and she is beginning to look for other jobs. “Our current ‘leadership’ has the idea that asylum is a loophole, which is offensive to American ideals, our own law, international obligations, and all of the asylum officers who took this job to help people.” This is a loss for vulnerable families and the right to asylum—and a horrible win for the Trump administration.

Categories: Politics

Fake Eyebrows (Open Thread)

Balloon Juice - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 14:11

As you’ve no doubt heard, NBC News unearthed a 1992 video of a coked-up-seeming Trump cavorting with serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein at a party held at Trump’s tacky-ass Florida property. Here’s a still photo from the vid:

I apologize for inflicting Trump’s hideous visage on you, which I generally avoid. But I’m hoping someone can explain Trump’s eyebrows in that photo. They look fake, especially when you see them in motion in the video. Can heavy cocaine use combined with tanning bed and hair product exposure cause alopecia? I remember the early 1990s — the hairdos of the women in the NBC video brought on flashbacks — but I don’t remember fake eyebrows being a thing.

Allegedly, many of the women pictured were Buffalo Bills cheerleaders. In the video, Trump grabs one of them from behind by the pelvis and then smacks her on the ass. I took a quick spin through the mainstream news sites, and all have a blurb about the tape, but it’s not the main story on any site I saw, including NBC, which broke the story.

Since its now fairly unremarkable to view tape of a future POTUS leering at women and aggressively grabbing a cheerleader while yucking it up with a notorious pedophile, I thought I’d explore the weird eyebrows angle. What do y’all think of that pair of caterpillars attached to Trump’s ugly mug? Strange, huh?

Open thread.

Categories: Politics

Communities that depend on coal are collapsing, and it's up to everyone to catch them

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:57

A new report from Columbia University makes it clear that the coal industry isn’t just a threat to the climate, national health, and the safety of workers. It’s also a looming fiscal crisis that is both dooming local communities and set to topple the economies of whole states.

Not only does the income from miners and mining companies form the economic backbone of small communities in several regions, but for states that depend on commodity taxes on coal to balance the state’s books—and often to reduce or eliminate the need for state income taxes—the decline of coal is bringing on a different kind of crisis. Across the country, 26 counties, including some of the geographically largest in the nation, are considered “coal dependent,” with a third or more of their revenue coming from the mining industry. But the production of coal is down by a third in just the last decade and continues to decline. In the same period, the largest coal companies have all declared bankruptcy, escaping their responsibilities to fund some programs.

It will likely be another two decades before coal is completely eliminated as a source of electricity in the United States. But well before that period, it will be the source of economic disruption and failed communities from Appalachia to the Mountain West. What Columbia’s study shows is that the cities, counties, and states that depend on coal are united by something other than just their fossil-fuel past—they’re also all in utter denial about planning for their future. 

Many of these localities are already feeling the economic pinch from the decline of coal. But they have not been able either to find alternative sources of revenue or to cut expenses to the point where the communities can continue to function without the funds brought in by mining.

Like states and countries elsewhere in the world that have depended on extraction industries, these American communities are locked into a cycle of declining revenue and tumbling credit. With the industry having passed its peak, they’re seeing fewer jobs, fewer opportunities, and falling real estate prices, the latter leading to a decrease in property taxes collected. At the same time, these communities are trying to maintain the infrastructure, schools, and other facilities built by an industry that used to be big.

Categories: Politics

House will consider articles of impeachment resolution, and likely set it aside

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:55

The impeachment resolution from Texas Democrat Rep. Al Green is likely coming to the floor Wednesday evening, but is equally likely to be set aside.

Democratic members who spoke with Roll Call said that a final decision hadn't been made as to how to proceed on it, but that it would likely be blocked from a direct vote by a motion to refer it to the Judiciary Committee. Green filed his articles of impeachment as a privileged resolution, which basically forces consideration by the House. Leadership, and probably a number of Democratic members, are opposed. "I don’t think we're ready to debate that at this point," South Carolina Democrat and Majority Whip James Clyburn says.

He's right. They're definitely not ready, despite the fact that they should be by now. But they've been dragging their feet on doing the necessary groundwork for an impeachment resolution. The investigations and the hearings have to happen first, and the case has to be made to the American public. 

It'd be better at this junction, as David Nir argues, to bring Rep. Rashida Tlaib's resolution instructing the Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment investigation. That could probably get the votes, but that's not up to Green to bring.

Categories: Politics

Two thirds of Americans call Trump's racist tweets 'offensive;' a majority call them 'un-American'

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:38

The American public, aside from Republican members of Congress, isn't going to take nonsense on this one. In a new USA TODAY/Ipsos poll, Americans are calling Donald Trump's racist weekend tweets "offensive." And in a result Trump and his allies might be more pointedly concerned about, 59% of Americans are calling Trump's racist tweets "un-American."

That is not to say that a majority of self-identified Republicans aren't standing by Trump. After all, 57% say they agree with Trump's tweet for his targeted non-white, American-citizen congresswomen to "go back" to their "original" countries. But those Trump allies are overwhelmed by widespread public revulsion by Democrats and independents. Women, in particular, found the tweets offensive by a three-fourths majority.

The poll underscores, yet again, just how far the Republican base has drifted from the rest of America's beliefs and morality. In nearly every recent poll, on any subject, self-identifying independents and Democrats tend to line up together on one side of the question, with a Republican rump providing heavy counterweight on the other side. Whether it be the treatment of refugees; the definition of what is or is not "racist;" or queries of Trump being accused by two dozen women of harassment, assault or rape, the Republican base defends it all while everyone else expresses revulsion.

And yes, the vast majority of such divisions revolve around racism. Republicans have trimmed their base into a vehicle for white nationalism and cultish devotion to each leader of the moment; there is a Fox News America, and everyone else, and the two cannot agree even on the same reality, much less morality.

There's one interesting tidbit in the poll that USA Today singled out, and it seems instructive. About four in ten Republicans and Democrats alike said they themselves had an immigrant parent or grandparent: no difference there. Republicans, however, maintain a resilient contempt for immigrants and the rights of immigrants despite their own immigrant roots. It is the empathy-devoid blindness of Trump himself, a demand that nobody else be allowed the same assistance that they themselves were granted. It is a supreme, self-centered irritation at anyone beside themselves benefiting from American compassion, of the sort that the Tucker Carlsons and the Sean Hannitys stoke nightly, that appears to animate the base above all else.

But they are outnumbered, and by a lot. The question for the next elections, then, is whether that matters.

Categories: Politics

No, Kamala Harris Isn’t Being Preposterous

Kevin Drum - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:31

Over at National Review, John McCormack says that Kamala Harris is being “preposterous” about her Medicare for All plan:

“Senator Sanders says that that is impossible to achieve without a middle class tax hike,” CNN correspondent Kyung Lah says. “I’m not prepared to engage in a middle class tax hike,” Harris replies, suggesting that taxes on Wall Street and financial services can fund the $30 trillion program.

There might turn out to be something preposterous about this eventually, but there’s nothing preposterous about it yet. It all depends on what kind of plan Harris proposes and what the total funding source will be. If Harris were a Republican, she’d just issue a vague, one-page description and then punt on the funding, saying that she’ll work with Congress to figure out the hard stuff. But since she’s a Democrat, I’m sure we’ll eventually get a 30-page white paper about the whole thing.

Politically, I think something along the lines of Joe Biden’s plan is probably the best bet. I’d keep Obamacare; add a Medicare buy-in; phase in a corporate health care mandate that eventually covers everyone, with the option to either provide insurance or pay a payroll tax; and guarantee subsidies such that no one ever has to pay more than 10 percent of their income in premiums. That’s the bare bones, with lots of details to be added. Overall, I’d say the goal should be for public financing to cover 80-85 percent of all health care expenses.

Categories: Politics

Newly-Discovered Video Shows Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein Leering at Women at a Mar-a-Lago Party

Little Green Footballs - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:27

I have to admit I really can't stand "Morning Joe" Scarborough and his ridiculous panel discussions, but this clip is worth seeing because his producers dug up video of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein leering at and groping women at a Mar-a-Lago party in 1992.

Categories: Politics

'No Tech for ICE': Advocates across U.S. cities demand Amazon cut ties with immigration agencies

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:21

Immigrants’ and workers’ right advocates delivered more than a quarter of a million petition signatures—including many from the Daily Kos community—to Amazon locations in over half a dozen cities this week, demanding the giant cut off ties with unshackled federal immigration agencies that are separating immigrant families within our communities and at our southern border.

Amazon has helped enable mass deportation policies by providing essential technological infrastructure to the Department of Homeland Security: Amazon Web Services is Amazon’s cloud technology that mass hosts and stores information, and the Department of Homeland Security uses AWS cloud technology to store, sort, and share massive amounts of data to target immigrants.

In protests held on Amazon’s lucrative Prime Day in cities like Seattle, Washington, New York, and the Washington, D.C. area—home to Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos—activists, including Amazon employees, called on the giant to stop aiding mass deportation policies, as well as improve outrageous working conditions for Amazon workers (employees have said they’ve been forced to urinate in bottles in order to save work time). 

“If Amazon continues to collaborate with ICE,” said the American Civil Liberties of Washington’s Jennifer Lee at the Seattle action, “it will fuel deportation efforts, which terrorize immigrant communities throughout the country, resulting in countless errors, deportations without due process and increased racial profiling.”

In the Monday action outside an Amazon location in New York, activists left Amazon-branded boxes with sad faces wrapped in aluminum wrapping, representing the foil blankets that families and children are given as their only source of warmth in deplorable Border Patrol facilities.

Near Bezos’ home on Tuesday, guards blocked “community members from the public sidewalk,” Daily Kos tweeted. They did manage to deliver the hundreds of thousands of petition signatures, promising "’We'll be back’ to demand Amazon cut ties with ICE and respect workers now.”

Back in Seattle, Lee also “pointed to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s requests to perform face surveillance searches on images in state driver’s license databases in Washington and other states. She said that Amazon has pitched the agency on its facial recognition technology, Rekognition.” This practice has earned a rebuke from Amazon’s own employees, who penned an open letter to their boss.

Categories: Politics

GOP's John Kennedy Gets The Bible Wrong Re Congresswomen

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:08

John N. Kennedy, Republican Senator from Louisiana, is being a great footsoldier for the so-called president.

He's been making the rounds, above on CNN, and below on Fox.

And he claims the congresswomen popularly known as "the Squad" are actually the "four horsewomen of the Apocalypse":

read more

Categories: Politics

John Lewis provides irrefutable moral clarity: What's coming from Trump is racism

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:05

In all of the ridiculousness on display from House Republicans over calling Donald Trump's racist tweets "racist," with squishy journalism gatekeepers (Keith Woods, NPR's vice president for newsroom training and diversity!) arguing that we shouldn't use the word "racist", moral clarity once again comes from John Lewis.

The Georgia congressman and bona fide civil rights hero gave what should be the definitive and final word on racism on the floor Tuesday.

I rise with a sense of righteous indignation to support this resolution. I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there's no room for racism. It sows the seeds of violence and destroys the hopes and dreams of people.

The world is watching. They are shocked and dismayed because it seems we have lost our way. As a nation, as a proud and great people. We are one Congress. And we are here to serve one House. The American House. The American people.

Some of us have been victims of the pain and hurt of racism. In the 1950's and 1960's, segregationists told us to go back when we protested for or rights. They told ministers, priests, rabbis, and nuns to go back. They told the innocent little children seeking just an equal education, to go back.

As a nation and as a people we need to go forward and not backwards. With this vote, we stand with our sisters, three were born in America, one came here looking for a better life. With this vote, we meet our moral obligation to condemn hate, racism, and bigotry in every form.

Enough said? It should be.

Categories: Politics

Donald Trump has officially become America's eliminationist-in-chief

Daily Kos - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 13:00

Sure, Donald Trump’s past two days have made his innate, obliviously crude racism obvious for everyone who hasn’t fallen for his reality-distorting authoritarian appeals. But it has also established something perhaps even more important, especially in an age of rising right-wing violence and terrorism: The man in the Oval Office is now, unquestionably, America’s eliminationist-in-chief.

Trump’s rhetoric has featured eliminationist undercurrents from the very first day he announced his campaign for the presidency in 2015, and they have only intensified over time as he has pursued a relentless campaign of ethnic, religious, and cultural division, fueled by incessant demonization and hysteria directed at the objects of his ire.

This week, it was the four nonwhite women who hold seats in the U.S. Congress targeted by Trump in a series of tweets in which he told them to “go back” to try to fix the “crime infested places” they “originally came from.” After those tweets created a predictable uproar on Monday, Trump doubled down on Tuesday, telling an audience, “If somebody has a problem with our country, if somebody doesn’t want to be in our country, they should leave!”

There’s been a lot of arguing over whether or not these remarks are racist (which, fundamentally, they are). What’s also unquestionable is that they are deeply, profoundly eliminationist—which in many ways has similarly far-reaching consequences, especially when we are talking about a man who holds the power of the presidency.

What exactly is eliminationism? Please settle in for a detailed explanation—and a discussion of what it means to have an eliminationist as our president.

Categories: Politics

LA Needs an Old Approach to Homelessness

Kevin Drum - Wed, 07/17/2019 - 12:59

A couple of years ago LA passed a big bond measure to address its homelessness problem. The money is mostly earmarked for permanent shelter, which is, needless to say, expensive and time-consuming to build. I’ve long thought that this makes little sense, but I’m no expert—as people are fond of reminding me whenever I write something about homelessness—so I’ve just kept quiet.

Today, however, the LA Times features a pair of op-eds suggesting that Los Angeles should ditch its permanent shelter model and follow the New York model instead, which focuses on getting people indoors and then working from there. Here is New York’s Dr. Marc Siegel:

Whereas L.A. has focused (unsuccessfully) on trying to create long-term affordable housing, New York City has focused on creating temporary shelters. As a result, today only about 5% of New York City’s homeless population is without shelter. In Los Angeles, 75% of the homeless population is without shelter. Our homeless numbers are not that different from yours in Los Angeles, but in New York, few people are living on the street.

….As a physician, I witnessed firsthand a huge shift when New York began its emphasis on providing shelter for all. Mental illness, drug addiction and contagious diseases like hepatitis A, B and C were still a problem, but they weren’t nearly as severe as when so much of the homeless population was “bedless,” living in cardboard boxes or in the subway. It is simply impossible to provide good treatment to a patient with mental or physical illness living in that way.

In Los Angeles, local government officials are dispatching more garbage trucks and portable toilets and showers to skid row, but that’s just a Band-Aid. As long as there are thousands of people living on single city blocks, there will be problems with garbage disposal and human waste, which means rats will abound. And rats carry fleas, and fleas are carriers of typhus bacteria, which causes fever, muscle aches, and severe headaches, among other symptoms.

Darrel Steinberg, a longtime mental care advocate in the California legislature, who is now mayor of Sacramento, agrees:

I still believe strongly in the concept of housing first, but I’ve also come to see that focusing primarily on permanent housing is insufficient. We simply don’t have the housing stock necessary to address our current crisis, and building it will take too long and cost too much. We need an infusion of short-term shelter and housing options to serve as a bridge for those currently living on our streets.

….In 2019, New York City will spend about $1.6 billion to shelter 75,000 people. Our unsheltered population numbers about 90,000. I believe the cost of getting them indoors would be a bargain considering what California spends on public safety and cleanup without actually getting people off the streets. I think Californians would overwhelmingly agree.

In California, at least, permanent housing is practically a mantra—and in an ideal world it’s a good idea. In the real world, unfortunately, it’s simply too hard and too expensive to build enough permanent housing in all the places it’s needed. What’s more, not all homeless people are able or willing to live in permanent housing in the first place.

As Siegel says, we should focus primarily on getting the homeless indoors any way we can. Different people are willing to tolerate different rules and different levels of supervision, and we should accept this if that’s what it takes to get them to take the first step off the streets. And if, for some people, that’s the only step they’re ever willing to take? We have to accept that too. If we can keep them relatively clean, safe, and accessible to medical care, that’s a big win all by itself.

Categories: Politics