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Hometown: NY
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Current location: Florida
Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
Number of posts: 163,963

Journal Archives

Mitch McConnell: The Man Who Sold America


September 17, 2019 6:00AM ET
Mitch McConnell: The Man Who Sold America
After 40 years of scorched-earth politics and bowing to special interests, will Mitch McConnell finally pay the price?
By Bob Moser


McConnell’s opponent in 2020 will surely make an issue of where his campaign money comes from, too — since it’s almost exclusively from corporate donors from outside Kentucky. Only nine percent of his haul in the most recent fundraising came from individual donors back home; the vast majority, as usual, derived from a roster of big corporate interests — including United Parcel Service, the Blackstone Group, Eli Lilly & Co., and the private-prison GEO Group.

“This is a winnable race, if you try to make it catered to Kentuckians,” says Matt Jones, the popular host of Kentucky Sports Radio who’s also considering a run. “This is a blue-collar, anti-establishment state. People are religious, but they’re not Bible Belters. There’s a long history of fighting for workers’ rights here. People say voters aren’t going to go for Trump and then vote for a Democrat down-ballot. But that’s misunderstanding Kentucky.” Aquilina agrees: “The reason people voted for Trump here is the same reason they hate McConnell.”

Which means McConnell won’t have the luxury of distancing himself one iota from the president between now and next November; Trump’s approval ratings in Kentucky are more than 20 points higher than his own. As demonstrated by his hasty dismissal of those election-security bills in July, the senator has no choice but to keep himself tethered to Trump and hope to ride his coattails — a situation that, for a control freak like McConnell, cannot be comforting.

That’s what it’s come to for Mitch McConnell. Four decades of clawing his way to power, by any means at his disposal, and now his political life, which is his only life, ultimately rests in the hands of the most erratic character ever to occupy the Oval Office. No one can doubt that McConnell will run a campaign, as always, that is lavishly funded and equal parts savvy and cutthroat. But the conditions, created largely by the senator himself, are ripe for a reckoning. And if it comes, it will be an ironic and fitting denouement to one of the most destructive political careers in American history.
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Sep 17, 2019, 12:01 PM (8 replies)

Buttigieg releases plan to improve US' response to natural disasters

Buttigieg releases plan to improve US' response to natural disasters
CNN Digital Expansion 2017
By Dan Merica, CNN
Updated 8:03 AM ET, Tue September 17, 2019

(CNN)Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg released his plan to improve the United States' disaster preparedness on Tuesday, pledging to set up a disaster commission within his first 100 days in office and launch a National Catastrophic Extreme Weather insurance program.

The plan, which relies heavily on Buttigieg's experience as a mayor in South Bend, Indiana, dealing with massive flooding, sets three goals under a hypothetical Buttigieg presidency: improving coordination between communities and the federal government, incentivizing communities to build resilient infrastructure and improving the federal government's immediate response to disaster relief.

"We can't stop all natural disasters from striking, but we can control how we prepare for and recover from them," Buttigieg writes in the plan. "We need to do something different, and we need to do it now, which is why I'm proud to be the first 2020 presidential candidate to propose a new approach to disaster preparedness."

Buttigieg will unveil his plan during an event in Conway, South Carolina, a town that was ravaged by Hurricane Florence in 2018, a weather event that has been billed as a "1,000-year flood event."


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Sep 17, 2019, 08:38 AM (0 replies)

Group sues Trump administration for info related 'attempts to politicize NOAA'

Group sues Trump administration for info related 'attempts to politicize NOAA'
By Miranda Green - 09/16/19 03:43 PM EDT

A pro-democracy group sued the Trump administration Monday to force the release of public documents they believe will shed light on politicization of science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Democracy Forward filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to compel the administration to release requested public documents related to the removal of Tim Gallaudet from his position as acting administrator of NOAA in February.

The group has raised concerns over Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to remove Gallaudet from the acting post earlier this year. Gallaudet last December had told a science conference that President Trump had never asked to be briefed on climate-related matters by the agency.

NOAA is the nation’s leading science agency.

Democracy Forward first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the documents in May.

“The Trump administration’s attacks on scientists speaking the truth are dangerous. We’re suing to expose improper attempts to politicize NOAA because the public needs to be able to count on science agencies to do their jobs without political interference,” Democracy Forward executive director Anne Harkavy said in a statement.


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Sep 16, 2019, 04:23 PM (2 replies)

The Far Side Web Site is Updated with New Art and a 'Coming Soon' Notice


The Far Side Web Site is Updated with New Art and a ‘Coming Soon’ Notice
Posted by Daily Cartoonist Staff
September 13, 2019

From the site:

Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming!
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Sep 16, 2019, 01:27 PM (14 replies)

I spent a decade addicted to opioids: Here's why Pete Buttigieg gives me hope


I spent a decade addicted to opioids: Here's why Pete Buttigieg gives me hope
By Ryan Hampton, Opinion Contributor — 09/15/19 03:00 PM EDT

I met Pete Buttigieg for the first time last week. As a gay man, I was intrigued by his historic campaign to be the first LGBTQ president. However, Pete’s identity isn’t why I am choosing to support him. He’s getting my vote because of his landmark plan to combat the national addiction crisis—an epidemic that claims more than 200 American lives every day. For the first time, a presidential candidate is talking some sense about mental health care and addiction.

Why do I care so much? Because one of those lives could be my own. For the better part of a decade, I spent my time in and out of homelessness, panhandling and scamming meals at shelters. I was addicted to opioids and other drugs, unable to find help. I called treatment centers every day, dozens of them, pleading for help. I showed up to recovery support meetings in rehabs that didn’t have a bed for me. Every time I used, I risked becoming an overdose statistic. I grabbed for anything that offered a chance at survival, not knowing what real help was. Anyone who has been through active addiction knows how incredibly isolating the experience is. I am alive today because I was lucky. I accessed services, recovery support that included stable housing and a community of peers. If anything, my recovery is an anomaly: the exception, not the rule. Since I got sober, I have worked to ensure that others get the chances I did, and more. I’m tired of losing friends and loved ones to addiction. I will vote for anyone who offers that chance to my community.

To do this, I’ve spent the better part of 2019 connecting with presidential candidates. As a recovery advocate who works on the front lines of this crisis, my top priority is learning what our next president plans to do to stop the deaths and make recovery accessible to everyone. What are they doing to lower barriers to health care, shatter the stigma of addiction, and support people beyond the acute, early stages of recovery? Are people with lived experience included in the planning stages? Is the budget realistic? Is the plan ambitious and well-supported? When I asked Pete these questions, I got the answers I was looking for. His new plan specifically addresses “deaths of despair,” which include overdoses and suicides. It also acknowledges how people with mental health issues have been neglected and marginalized. The plan ensures that at least 75 percent of people who need mental health or addiction services receive the care that they need and prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028.

Pete’s plan is important because it focuses on supporting existing advocacy efforts. Instead of replacing grassroots advocates or letting the federal government tell our communities what recovery is, people who have real experiences with mental health care will lead from the bottom up. To help ensure that communities on the front lines of this crisis are given the tools needed to tackle it head on in their own way, the plan would provide $10 billion Healing and Belonging annual grants allocated over a 10-year period to aid policies or programs around prevention, care integration, and community. Local communities know what works—this plan gives us the tools we need to make sure our children, friends, loved ones, partners and community members get the help they need, in a way that they can understand and access. The plan specifically includes funding to massively expand the peer support workforce: a vital, lifesaving network of people in recovery who mentor and guide others as they take steps toward wellness. Mental health flourishes in connected, empowered communities where resources are shared. This plan makes that possible.


For years, I’ve been shouting from the rooftops to get policymakers to include people in recovery in their decision-making processes. Finally, I feel like our voices are being heard. Our community and the people impacted by mental health and addiction know what to do. This plan offers us the resources we need to help each other get better—no matter who we are, what we have, or where we live.

There should be no decisions about us, without us. With Pete Buttigieg, I feel like someone is finally listening.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Sep 16, 2019, 01:17 PM (2 replies)

Ezra Klein: Joe Biden is not Barack Obama

Joe Biden is not Barack Obama
It’s time for the former vice president to make the case for his presidency, not Obama’s.
By Ezra Klein@ezraklein Sep 16, 2019, 9:00am EDT

On Thursday, just hours before the third Democratic presidential debate, Joe Biden’s campaign released a new online ad. It was an unusual spot in that it wasn’t about Joe Biden at all. It was about Barack Obama.
“Barack Obama was a great president,” could be the slogan of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. In the first answer Biden gave at the debate, he turned to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and said, “the senator says she’s for Bernie. Well, I’m for Barack.”

To twist Biden’s 2007 line about Rudy Giuliani, it often seems that, for Biden, there are three parts to a sentence: a noun, a verb, and Barack Obama.

Biden served loyally and effectively as Obama’s vice president. When Obama wanted to make sure stimulus money didn’t disappear to fraud, he turned to Biden — “nobody messes with Joe,” he said — and Biden came through. When the White House wanted to avoid the fiscal cliff, it was Biden who closed the deal with Mitch McConnell, then the Senate minority leader. When Obama flubbed the first debate against Mitt Romney, it was Biden who restored the ticket’s mojo by bullying his way past Rep. Paul Ryan. When the Democrats held their 2012 convention, it was Biden’s speech that pulled the highest ratings — beating both Bill Clinton and Obama.

But Joe Biden is not Barack Obama. Some vice presidents are picked for emphasis; Bill Clinton chose Al Gore to drive home his youth and moderation. Others are picked for balance; they’re chosen not for their similarity to the nominee but for their difference. Biden was a balance pick. “I want somebody with gray in his hair,” Obama said. Biden’s presence on the ticket showed that Obama knew what he didn’t know. But that’s why, by definition, Biden doesn’t mirror Obama’s political appeal or personal style and will not mirror Obama’s approach to governance.

Biden is not neatly to the right or left of Obama on foreign or domestic policy, and he diverges dramatically in how he makes decisions, how he understands the basic material of politics, and how he’d run an administration. So in campaigning so explicitly as the inheritor of Obama’s mantle, he obscures both his distinct strengths and his weaknesses, and confuses voters about the kind of president he would be.

It is time for Joe Biden to stop campaigning for Obama’s third term and focus on the case for his first.


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Sep 16, 2019, 12:53 PM (44 replies)

Donald Trump calls for investigation into Obamas' Netflix deal


Donald Trump calls for investigation into Obamas’ Netflix deal
Instead of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's alleged sexual misconduct
by Alex Young
on September 16, 2019, 9:35am

This weekend brought disturbing new allegations involving Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s conduct while a student at Harvard. In response, Donald Trump has called for an investigation into… the Obamas’ Netflix deal.

Last year, Barack and Michelle Obama struck a multi-year content deal with Netflix to create scripted and unscripted series, documentaries, and other features. The Obamas intend to tell stories about inspirational people, while also highlighting important policy issues including health care, voting rights, immigration, and climate change. Their first title for example is a documentary about a former American automobile factory now operating as a Chinese business. It’s pretty straightforward stuff, the sort of content to be expected from a former president in the digital age.

But to Donald Trump, who is hoping to deflect from the negative attention surrounding Kavanaugh and his own scandals, the Obamas’ Netflix deal warrants investigation.

“Look at the Obama Book Deal, or the ridiculous Netflix deal,” Trump exasperatedly tweeted during a Monday morning Twitter tirade. “Then look at all the deals made by the Dems in Congress, the ‘Congressional Slush Fund,’ and lastly the IG Reports. Take a look at them. Those investigations would be over FAST!”

Hypocrisy may have died in the Trump era, but criticizing a former president for profiting after his term as millions of dollars in tax payer money are being spent to prop up your own failing properties really is something else.

In other news, Trump says his skin is orange because of energy saving light bulbs, and he has an unhealthy obsession with Elton John. Oh, and we’re about to go to war with Iran over oil. Sleep well, America!
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Sep 16, 2019, 11:05 AM (4 replies)

The Climate Crisis and the Case for Hope

September 16, 2019 8:00AM ET
The Climate Crisis and the Case for Hope
Protesters and politicians are stepping up and fighting for the future we want. Will 2019 be remembered as a turning point?
By Jeff Goodell

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Here’s a reckless prediction: a decade or so from now, when the climate revolution is fully underway and Miami Beach real estate prices are in free-fall due to constant flooding, and internal combustion engines are as dead as CDs, people will look back on the fall of 2019 as the turning point in the climate crisis. At the very least it will be remembered as the moment that it became clear that people were not going to give up their future on a habitable planet without a damn good fight.

It’s not easy to feel hopeful at this dark hour. The Amazon rainforest is burning, heat waves this summer have killed thousands of people around the world, the Midwest is still reeling from massive flooding, and the human suffering from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas is just beginning to be revealed. Meanwhile, President Trump doodles on hurricane maps and big oil is still investing millions in fossil-fuel infrastructure that will only further load the atmosphere with carbon and accelerate the devastating climate impacts. Climate scientists tell us that nations of the world need to cut carbon pollution in half by 2030 to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Yet in 2018, carbon emissions grew faster than any year since 2011.

On the other hand, consider this: Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, has become a media star for calling CEOs and politicians liars and thiefs who have stolen her future – and the future of millions of other voiceless people. Inspired in no small part by Thunberg, tens of thousands of people will participate in a global climate strike on September 20th to demand action. CNN just devoted seven hours of coverage to climate change. In the U.S., a majority of registered voters now say climate change is an “emergency.” The climate crisis is at the top of the agenda for every Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential campaign. And, of course, there’s the Green New Deal, which has emerged in the past year to become one of the hottest political topics of the moment.

To me, these are all signs that the climate fight is gaining momentum and becoming the driving political movement of our time. Of course, I thought the same thing back in 2015, after the gavel came down in Paris on the climate deal. Boy, Paris is turning out to be an empty gesture. According to Climate Action Tracker, only two countries in the world, Morocco and the Gambia, have policies in place that are compatible with the 1.5 C target set in Paris.

This time, the moment feels different. And the difference can be summed up by the emergence of two qualities that have been in the background of the climate fight until now – moral courage and financial panic.


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Sep 16, 2019, 09:20 AM (4 replies)

Russia Carried Out 'Stunning' Hack of Encrypted FBI Communications: Report


Russia Carried Out ‘Stunning’ Hack of Encrypted FBI Communications: Report
Jamie Ross
Updated 09.16.19 6:36AM ET /
Published 09.16.19 6:14AM ET

Russia carried out a “stunning” hack of U.S. intelligence services’ most sensitive communications, Yahoo News reports. The hack is believed to have happened around 2010 and reportedly gave Russian spies in Washington, New York, and San Francisco access to the location of FBI surveillance teams as well as the actual content of FBI communications. The hack may have allowed the Russian agents to avoid FBI surveillance, communicate with U.S. sources, and gather intelligence on their FBI pursuers, according to the report. “When we found out about this, the light bulb went on—that this could be why we haven’t seen [certain types of] activity” from Russian spies, one source told Yahoo. The Russians reportedly compromised the encrypted radio systems used by the FBI’s mobile surveillance teams as well as the backup communications systems. “This was something we took extremely seriously,” one former senior counterintelligence official is reported to have said. The intercepts were said to be monitored by teams at the Russian diplomatic compounds that President Obama ordered seized shortly before he left office.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Sep 16, 2019, 06:58 AM (26 replies)

Donald Trump is a deeply stupid man who routinely gets his ass kicked on the world stage


Donald Trump is a deeply stupid man who routinely gets his ass kicked on the world stage
Laurence Lewis for Daily Kos
Sunday September 15, 2019 · 11:40 AM EDT


Republican presidents are dangerous to national and world security, but none more than Trump. By breaking the deal with Iran, Trump gave Iran the incentive to resume its arms program, which they have done. Which makes the world less safe. Because that's what Trump's ineptitude does: make the world less safe.

Trump's lickspittle Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was outraged that Iran was again ramping up its nuclear weapons program, nevermind why. And with tensions again rising, Trump did what he always does on the world stage: He got his ass kicked. Now he's considering giving Iran $15 billion dollars in credit to get back in compliance with the deal with which it had always been in compliance—until Trump gave them the incentive not to be. That's Trump's artistry in making deals: getting his ass kicked.


Trump's trade war already has cost 300,000 American jobs. And every time he opens his mouth about China, the American stock markets get spooked. And then after threatening to escalate his trade war, Trump backed down, and now desperately wants to find a way out of yet another crisis that is entirely of his own making. Because he has no idea what he’s doing. Because he is a deeply stupid man who routinely gets his ass kicked on the world stage.

This would be funny if it weren't so serious. Trump's trade war could devastate the American economy. A nuclear armed Iran would be bad for everyone. A North Korea that is ramping up its nuclear program is bad for everyone. And that the guy who sits at the big desk in the Oval Office is a deeply stupid man who routinely gets his ass kicked on the world stage also is bad for everyone.

Except for those foreign leaders who routinely kick his ass.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Sep 15, 2019, 03:19 PM (9 replies)
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