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Journal Archives

This Democratic Senator Won't Commit to Voting for Her Party in 2020

Oct. 29, 2019
This Democratic Senator Won’t Commit to Voting for Her Party in 2020
By Eric Levitz

Kyrsten Sinema’s career trajectory is as odd as it is impressive. The Arizona Democrat began her life in politics as the kind of Naderite who decries capitalism as rule by “the Almighty Dollar,” and Ronald Reagan as an “Osama lover.” As an activist, Sinema didn’t just protest the war in Iraq but opposed the invasion of Afghanistan with such vehemence she once suggested she had no personal objection to an American traveling overseas to fight for the Taliban. Years later, as the self-proclaimed “most liberal member of the Arizona State Legislature,” she argued that it was “bullshit” for women who stay at home, “leeching off their husbands,” to identify as feminist. At a time when the Christian right was at the zenith of its cultural power, Sinema proudly identified as a bisexual atheist in a red state.

A little over a decade later, Sinema managed to overcome her record as a far-left edgelord — which had included multiple video recordings of her calling Arizona “crazy” in front of crowds of coastal liberals — as well as the stigma associated with her atheism and sexual orientation to defeat a female Air Force veteran in a 2018 Senate election, thereby becoming the first Democrat to represent Arizona in the upper chamber since 1995.

Sinema pulled off this improbable feat by, among other things, rebranding herself as the most moderate member of the Democratic House caucus. Still, some left-leaning Democrats held out hope that once Sinema was safely ensconced in the Senate, some of her old Green self would peek through the “Blue Dog” façade. After all, Sinema won’t have to face Arizona voters until 2024, at which point, demographic trends could plausibly erase the GOP’s advantage in the state. Even today, Arizona looks only a shade redder than Wisconsin — whose Democratic senator, Tammy Baldwin, just won reelection as a proud supporter of single payer and worker co-determination. Meanwhile, the Grand Canyon State is less pro-Trump than Ohio, where Sherrod Brown won reelection in 2018 as a labor liberal who feels no obligation to serve as a rubber stamp for Trump’s cabinet and judicial nominees.

But Sinema has charted a different course. Instead of emulating progressives like Brown and Baldwin from light-red states, she has named West Virginia’s Joe Manchin as her role model (a Democrat who answers to an electorate that went for Trump by 40 points). Sinema was one of only three Democrats to vote for Bill Barr’s confirmation as attorney general. When virtually every other Democrat voted “present” on the Green New Deal resolution, Sinema crossed party lines to register her opposition to the very concept of a pro-labor, climate-centric industrial policy. Earlier this month, she voted against restoring Obama-era regulations on coal pollution. In all of these cases, no Democratic senator from a remotely purple state voted as Sinema did. Montana’s Jon Tester, whose state backed Trump by 20 points in 2016, toed the party line on all of these votes.

Which is to say: Sinema has decided to err on the side of being needlessly reactionary. She doesn’t even plan to endorse her party’s nominee for Arizona’s other Senate seat in 2020 — and won’t commit to voting for a Democrat against Donald Trump next year, either....



Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 30, 2019, 04:54 PM (28 replies)

Top Trump Homeland Security Pick Admits He Made the Call to Subject Sick Kids to Deportation


7 mins ago
Top Trump Homeland Security Pick Admits He Made the Call to Subject Sick Kids to Deportation
“I made this decision,” Cuccinelli said. “Alone.”
Marisa Endicott

Ken Cuccinelli, whom President Donald Trump is considering appointing as homeland security chief using an obscure and legally dubious maneuver, admitted Wednesday that he made the controversial decision to subject critically ill immigrant children to deportation.

The rule change in question would have eliminated temporary protection from deportation for migrants in need of vital medical care. It was ultimately reversed amid public outcry.

Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner currently leading US Citizenship and Immigration Services, made the admission under questioning from Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). In a heated back-and-forth during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, Pressley pressed Cuccinelli on whether the White House—and Trump’s staunchly anti-immigration adviser Stephen Miller in particular—had a role in the rule change. Cuccinelli hedged but eventually responded in exasperation, “I made this decision. Alone.”


Pressley later tweeted, “Cuccinelli just told me under oath that he is the one that made the policy decision that put critically ill immigrant children at risk of deportation. One step closer to justice for these families.”

The Trump administration made the policy change in early August without notifying Congress
, but after public outrage, USCIS said it would start processing requests for reprieve again in September. Cuccinelli has been instrumental in carrying out administration efforts to reduce legal immigration and promoting its crackdown on undocumented migration.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 30, 2019, 04:23 PM (7 replies)

Ignoring irony, McConnell accuses Dems of taking a 'one-year vacation'


Ignoring irony, McConnell accuses Dems of taking a ‘one-year vacation’
10/30/19 12:55 PM—Updated 10/30/19 01:33 PM
By Steve Benen

If there were a Hall of Fame for political hypocrisy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be a first-ballot inductee. The Kentucky Republican has condemned obstructionism after mastering the fine art of obstructionism; he’s stressed the virtues of bipartisanship after becoming the most partisan congressional leader in modern history; he’s demanded that senators treat Supreme Court nominees fairly after spearheading an unprecedented blockage against a qualified, compromise Supreme Court nominee.

And this morning, according to a Congressional Quarterly transcript, McConnell stood on the floor of the Senate and condemned a productive House Democratic majority for taking “a one-year vacation.”

“Look, I think it’s pretty clear our Democratic colleagues do not have a great affinity for President Trump, but the country cannot afford for Democrats in Congress to take a one-year vacation from any productive legislation just because they’d rather obsess over impeachment.”


Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) complained over the summer that McConnell had “effectively turned the United States Senate into a very expensive lunch club that occasionally votes on a judge or two.”

The same week, Politico ran a piece describing the upper chamber as a legislative “graveyard,” adding, “The Senate standstill is frustrating even some in the GOP.”

It’s against this backdrop that Mitch McConnell, reading from a prepared text with a straight face, wants to talk about House Democrats taking “a one-year vacation from any productive legislation.”

There’s hypocrisy and then there’s you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me hypocrisy.

Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 30, 2019, 04:10 PM (10 replies)

Pelosi wants Americans to see the trial of Donald Trump


Pelosi wants Americans to see the trial of Donald Trump
Analysis: Once uncertain about holding an impeachment-related vote on the floor, the House speaker is moving to show evidence to the public.
Oct. 30, 2019, 11:48 AM EDT
By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi's patience has been rewarded.

With the impeachment script fully flipping this week, it's Pelosi who wants Americans to watch every turn of the trial of President Donald Trump, and Republicans who have abruptly stopped calling for more transparency.

"They want transparency like a hole in the head, for crying out loud," said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. "Transparency is not going to help them."

It's a lot easier for even most of the swing-district Democrats to say the president should have to answer for his actions after weeks of testimony in which current and former administration officials have described a wide-ranging effort by the Trump team to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into a political opponent — former Vice President Joe Biden.

The shift led Pelosi and top lieutenants to announce Tuesday that they would move forward with a floor vote this week to formally set the rules for a series of public House Intelligence Committee hearings that are expected to give more attention to what lawmakers have been hearing in private about Trump's use of his power.

"With every new witness we get further detail corroborating the basic story," said Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., a former State Department official who has participated in the hearings in a secure facility deep beneath the Capitol complex. "With every witness it becomes harder to deny the facts and harder to defend the president's conduct."


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 30, 2019, 12:33 PM (3 replies)

Exclusive: White House Ignored Pentagon Warning on Ukraine Funding

Exclusive: White House Ignored Pentagon Warning on Ukraine Funding
by Kate Brannen
October 30, 2019

As the summer wore on, and President Donald Trump would not budge on his decision to withhold almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, the Pentagon warned the White House: If its portion of the money wasn’t released quickly, the Defense Department would not be able to spend it before the fiscal year ended on September 30.

The Pentagon even gave the White House a deadline. In late July, as panic spread within the administration over the president’s worrisome decision, the National Security Council led a series of interagency meetings to discuss what to do about the military assistance to Ukraine. At one of these meetings, Defense Department officials told the White House that if the $250 million in security assistance was not released by August 6, it would not be able to spend it all by the end of the fiscal year, according to two sources familiar with the deliberations.

The Defense Department’s message was clear: If the White House didn’t act, the Pentagon would be left with unobligated funds — money that would return to the U.S. Treasury and never make its way to Ukraine. And the Pentagon was also clear that providing Ukraine the security assistance was in the national security interests of the United States, on that point Trump’s Cabinet agreed.

“At every meeting, the unanimous conclusion was that the security assistance should be resumed, the hold lifted,” Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, said in his opening statement to House investigators last week.


But, the White House did not heed the Pentagon’s warnings. It continued to withhold the money through August and into September.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 30, 2019, 12:26 PM (0 replies)

Wednesday's impeachment inquiry looks at the only voice Trump really heard on Ukraine--Rudy Giuliani


Wednesday's impeachment inquiry looks at the only voice Trump really heard on Ukraine—Rudy Giuliani
Mark Sumner
Daily Kos Staff
Wednesday October 30, 2019 · 10:17 AM EDT

If the day goes as planned—meaning Matt Gaetz doesn’t stage a Brooks Brothers riot and Jim Jordan doesn’t feel this would be an excellent time to reduce the depositions to a shouting match—Wednesday will bring testimony in the impeach inquiry from two officials. The first of those is former special adviser for Ukraine Christopher Anderson. And the top of Anderson’s testimony is expected to be the one point on which everyone who has testified so far really, genuinely agrees: Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine generated endless problems.

Kurt Volker, Gordon Sondland, William Taylor, Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman—it doesn’t matter whether they were in the State Department or on the National Security Council, a Trump appointee or a career official, no one, but no one, has good things to say about Giuliani. In fact, just about the only person who hasn’t spent time in testimony complaining about Trump’s personal attorney is the one who directly lost her job because of Giuliani’s actions—former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Yovanovitch doesn’t have a complaint because Giuliani never bothered to actually talk to her.

As CNN notes, Giuliani was presenting himself to Ukraine as “filling the role once occupied by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort” in acting as a bridge between Ukrainian officials and Trump. The price for Giuliani’s services was either providing Trump with political dirt he could throw at Democrats or providing Giuliani with business he could take to the bank.

In a sense, every day of the impeachment inquiry has been Giuliani Day, because there’s yet to be a hearing in which someone didn’t have something to say about how his interference was warping foreign policy. But Wednesday seems to be even more Giuliani-focused, as Anderson, who helped prepare three “deliverables” that the White House wanted to see from Ukraine that were phrased in unassailable, high-level terms like a "commitment to reform” and “pursuing anti-corruption,” talks about how Giuliani continued to undercut diplomatic efforts, pass along negative information about Ukraine to Trump, and generally make progress impossible.

Anderson is expected to testify that Giuliani was a key roadblock to improving the relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and that Trump listened to Giuliani even when experts were contradicting the information coming from his personal attorney. And that Giuliani was “persistent in his calls for Ukraine to open an investigation into the Bidens,” despite Ukraine’s desperate need for strategic assistance.

Following Anderson’s appearance, Catherine Croft, who replaced him as special adviser in 2019, is expected to pick up the story.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 30, 2019, 12:04 PM (0 replies)

Former Mattis Aide Describes What It's Like Trying To Brief Trump


Former Mattis Aide Describes What It's Like Trying To Brief Trump
"All the president's answers were simplistic and ad hoc, shooting from the hip on issues of global importance," the former Navy pilot said.
By Susie Madrak

Guy Snodgrass, the man who was communications director under Secretary of Defense James Mattis was on CNN's New Day this morning to plug his new book, Holding the Line: Inside Trump's Pentagon with Secretary Mattis.

"You were talking about the pressure that's been put on you, you said 'It seems that military members are all honorable when we close our mouths and hold our tongues, but when we give ourselves a voice, when we dare speak truth to power, well, then our honor is questioned,' " John Berman said.

He asked Snodgrass how it felt, watching the attacks on Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman by the president and his allies.

"Anytime you go after someone's characterization of their service based on the fact you don't like what they're saying is pretty dangerous," Snodgrass said. "

Berman read from the book:
Many times during Secretary Tillerson's tenure, reporters would claim that he thought his boss was an idiot and Tillerson would deny it publicly but there was no doubt among most observers in the room that day that Tillerson was thinking exactly that. Both men, Mattis and Tillerson, were despondent. We had just witnessed a meeting with Trump up close and personal. Now we knew why access was controlled so tightly. For the remainder of the meeting, President Trump veered from topic to topic like a squirrel caught in traffic, dashing one way and then another. All the president's answers were simplistic and ad hoc, shooting from the hip on issues of global importance.

Hoo boy.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 30, 2019, 10:59 AM (22 replies)

The Rude Pundit: Trump Is Obsessed With Adam Schiff's Parody of His Phone Call with Zelensky

The Rude Pundit
Proudly lowering the level of political discourse
Trump Is Obsessed With Adam Schiff's Parody of His Phone Call with Zelensky

ech·o·la·li·a: meaningless repetition of another person's spoken words as a symptom of psychiatric disorder. repetition of speech by a child learning to talk.

One of the things we know about President Crimey McPantsshitter is that he brooks no insults (unless he's in on the joke, a la his Comedy Central roast, which, yes, is a thing the president of the goddamn United States has done). You could make a strong case that one reason he ran for president is because Barack Obama said some mean shit about him at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2011 and he wanted to destroy Obama's legacy for it. We know that Obama had other things on his mind that night, like the operation to get Osama bin Laden. We know that Trump was mightily pissed off at all the jokes at his expense all evening. A rational, real billionaire might be able to brush it off, in a kind of "Laugh all you want, peasants. I'm still rich enough to buy your companies and have you fired" way.

But not Donald Trump. And that leads to another thing we know about him: once he gets something in his tiny brain, he will not let it go. Some call that "marketing genius," the idea that if you repeat a phrase or idea over and over, people will love it, no matter how shitty or dishonest it is (see: "We're gonna build a wall and Mexico will pay for it". However, it's less marketing than it is a kind of dullard's echolalia, along with an inability to move on, like the endless, endless, truly, madly endless replay of Hillary Clinton's missing emails and her acid-washed, missing server. Or whatever the fuck.

In the realm of Trump's batshittery related to the impeachment hearings, one of the weirdest is Trump's utter obsession with Rep. Adam Schiff's opening statement of the impeachment hearings weeks ago, spurred by Trump's phone call with Ukraine's President Zelensky. Schiff gave a paraphrase of the phone call that he said twice was not a quote. Hell, later in the hearing, he called it "at least in part a parody." Before going into a not-un-Trump-like wannabe mobster tone, Schiff prefaced the summary with, "It reads like a classic organized crime shakedown. Shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words, this is the essence of what the president communicates." Then he does the paraphrase before saying, "This is in sum and character what the president was trying to communicate with the president of Ukraine."

Now, maybe "essence" and "sum and character" are words that are too fancy for Trump, but in the hearing, a Republican, Mike Turner, declared that Schiff was "just making it up" and "Because sometimes fiction is better than the actual words or the text. But luckily the American public are smart, and they have the transcript. They’ve read the conversation; they know when someone’s just making it up." Apparently, they're not and they don't.

Why is this important? After all, this took place on September 26, which is like thirty years ago in Trump time.

Well, see, nearly every day, Trump attacks Schiff, and, in most of those, he brings up Schiff's parody of him. Just last night, at almost midnight, Trump tweeted, "The only crimes in the Impeachment Hoax were committed by Shifty Adam Schiff, when he totally made up my phone conversation with the Ukrainian President and read it to Congress."


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 30, 2019, 08:11 AM (2 replies)

Republicans Are Now At Risk Of Losing The Senate As They Get Crushed By Impeachment


Posted on Tue, Oct 29th, 2019 by Sean Colarossi
Republicans Are Now At Risk Of Losing The Senate As They Get Crushed By Impeachment

It is still likely that Republicans will maintain control of the U.S. Senate after the 2020 elections, but impeachment is giving Democrats a big window of opportunity that could grow as the inquiry rages on.

According to former Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Republicans in the Senate are struggling to defend Donald Trump and a lot of them “understand that this is serious, that there’s real potential political peril out there for them.”

“The only ones that could potentially bail Republicans out of this is Democrats by mishandling it, and it appears that Nancy Pelosi is being extremely careful, and that’s unlikely,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.


Curbelo said:

They’re worried, Chris, and they’re also tired. There’s Trump fatigue all over the country and that includes the House Republican conference and the Senate Republican conference. That’s why you see, in part, some Republicans walking away, choosing not to run for re-election. Some of them think that it’s going to be difficult to get re-elected, others are just tired of having to defend Donald Trump, of having to answer for all of his conduct. So there is a growing concern. It kind of feels the way it did about 6 to 7 weeks out of the 2016 election when some Republicans started creating some distance between themselves and the president. Of course, that election took a number of interesting twists and turns after that. But certainly, a lot of Republicans understand that this is serious, that there’s real potential political peril out there for them when it comes to this issue. This is not like the Russia probe where Mueller came in and, in a way, kind of bailed Republicans out. This is different. The only ones that could potentially bail Republicans out of this is Democrats by mishandling it, and it appears that Nancy Pelosi is being extremely careful, and that’s unlikely.

This is only going to get worse for Republicans

Privately, Republicans know that Donald Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal is indefensible, but their fear of the president and their prioritization of politics over country is guiding their public behavior.

But the longer the impeachment process plays out, the harder it will be for vulnerable Republican senators to defend the president.

In fact, there are signs that this strategy is already backfiring for the GOP.

As The National Journal notes, “New polls and fundraising reports show key GOP senators in political trouble, giving Democrats a solid shot to win back control of the upper chamber.”

With public hearings on the way and a formal House impeachment vote taking place later this week, the process is only going to escalate and make the politics much more deadly for Republicans.

The GOP is still the favorite to retain control of the U.S. Senate, but the fact that the Republican-friendly map is now shifting toward the Democrats shows just how badly impeachment is crushing them.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Oct 30, 2019, 07:57 AM (16 replies)

Family of British teen killed in collision with wife of U.S. diplomat to sue Trump administration

Family of British teen killed in collision with wife of U.S. diplomat to sue Trump administration
“The Trump Administration is not only hellbent on breaking international laws, rules and conventions on diplomatic immunity, but they have no care or concern for the welfare of Harry’s family,” the family's lawyer said.
Oct. 29, 2019, 4:44 PM EDT
By Corky Siemaszko

The furious family of a British teenager killed in a wrong-way crash by a car driven by the wife of an American diplomat announced Tuesday that they will be suing both the White House and the motorist for alleged “lawless misconduct” and “attempting to cover it up.”

The threat to take legal action Tuesday came two months after 19-year-old Harry Dunn died when his motorcycle collided with a Volvo driven by Anne Sacoolas, who admitted to driving on the wrong side of the road near a British military base.

Dunn family lawyer and spokesman Radd Sieger said the family was outraged when President Donald Trump staged what Sieger called a “disgusting stunt” two weeks ago while Dunn’s parents were visiting the White House.

“The family was lured to the White House under a pretense only to be ambushed by the Administration who tried to engineer a grotesque meeting between Mrs. Sacoolas and Harry’s parents,” Sieger said. “The Trump Administration is not only hellbent on breaking international laws, rules and conventions on diplomatic immunity, but they have no care or concern for the welfare of Harry’s family or real intent on finding a solution.”


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Oct 29, 2019, 08:54 PM (4 replies)
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