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Journal Archives

Chuck Todd Tells GOPer He's Done 'Exactly' What Russia's 'Trying To Get American Politicians To Do'


Chuck Todd Tells GOPer He’s Done ‘Exactly’ What Russia’s ‘Trying To Get American Politicians To Do’
By Cristina Cabrera
December 1, 2019 1:34 p.m.

NBC News’ “Meet the Press” anchor Chuck Todd put Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) on blast after the Republican pushed yet another unhinged conspiracy theory about Ukraine election interference on Sunday.

During his interview with Todd, Kennedy admitted he was wrong to argue last week that Ukraine, not Russia, may have hacked the DNC’s email server in 2016; one of President Donald Trump’s debunked conspiracy theories that allegedly originated from the Kremlin itself.

However, Kennedy still insisted that Russia and Ukraine had both meddled in the 2016 elections–and then he made the astounding claim that former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had “actively worked for” Hillary Clinton.

“Russia was very aggressive and they are much more sophisticated,” the Republican senator said. “But the fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton.”

Todd was visibly flabbergasted.

“‘Actively worked for Secretary’–I mean, my goodness, wait a minute Senator Kennedy, you now have the president of Ukraine saying he actively worked for the Democratic nominee for president. I mean, now come on,” he said. “I mean, I gotta put up–you realize the only other person selling this argument outside the United States is this man, Vladimir Putin?”

The NBC News host then read aloud a recent quote from Russian President Vladmir Putin applauding the spread of the Ukraine election hacking conspiracy theory among U.S. lawmakers.

“You just accused a former president of Ukraine. You’ve done exactly what the Russian operation is trying to get American politicians to do,” Todd told Kennedy. “Are you at all concerned that you’ve been duped?”

“No, because you–just read the articles,” the Republican said without specifying exactly which articles he was referring to.

Watch Todd and Kennedy below:

Posted by babylonsister | Sun Dec 1, 2019, 05:52 PM (20 replies)

Ruth Marcus To GOP: If Trump Scandal Doesn't Meet 'The Framers' Conception Of Bribery, What Does?'


12/01/19 10:01am
Ruth Marcus To GOP: If Trump Scandal Doesn't Meet 'The Framers' Conception Of Bribery, What Does?'
Longtime columnist Ruth Marcus on Sunday dared Republican lawmakers to argue that President Donald Trump did not "bribe" Ukraine as the term was defined by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution.
By David

Longtime columnist Ruth Marcus on Sunday dared Republican lawmakers to argue that President Donald Trump did not "bribe" Ukraine as the term was defined by the Framers of the U.S. Constitution.

Marcus was joined on CBS's Face the Nation by veteran reporters and presidential historians.

Host John Dickerson noted that the impeachment debate touched on "bedrock American values."

Historian Jon Meachum explained that the Framers of the Constitution expected future Americans to "screw everything up."

"And we've done everything we can since then to prove them right," he said. "Therefore, sovereignty had to be divided. Power cannot be given to one person in the republican -- lowercase 'r' -- contract. Impeachment was a very important element there."

According to Meachum, the central question is whether House lawmakers "are going to follow the facts or are they... going to reflexively be partisan and interpret reality, not as they see it, but as they wish to see it."

Dickerson noted that Marcus is an expert on so-called originalism, the idea that the Constitution's meaning does not change with the culture. It is an idea that is popular with many conservatives.

"It is really a political question that is up to the political branch," she remarked. "But, yes, the Framers were entirely worried about precisely the kind of event we're talking about here, foreign influence, the misuse of presidential power for public gain and political advantage -- rather than for the public good."

"The question I would have for Republicans," Marcus continued, "if this doesn't not rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor or look a lot like the Framers' conception of bribery, what does?"

Marcus argued that House Democrats were "constitutionally obliged" to open an impeachment investigation because the facts demanded it.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Dec 1, 2019, 02:10 PM (10 replies)

Top House Democrat Tells Fox We Don't Work For Trump


Posted on Sun, Dec 1st, 2019 by Jason Easley
Top House Democrat Tells Fox We Don’t Work For Trump

The Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) went on Fox News Sunday and told Fox viewers that Democrats do not work for Trump.

Transcript via Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: Excuse me Congressman, but I mean the fact is almost since he took office, first it was collusion with the Russians, the Mueller report said it couldn’t make a case there. Obstruction, which Democrats still believe is the case, now Ukraine. There’s been an awful lot about investigating the president, impeaching the president, removing the president since he took the oath of office.

JEFFRIES: Well, the House is a separate and coequal branch of government. We don’t work for this president or any president, we work for the American people. We do have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on a potentially out of control executive branch. That is not the Democratic Party playbook, that, in fact, is the James Madison playbook. Madison indicated that the House should serve as a rival to the executive branch because the Founders didn’t want a king, they didn’t want a dictator, they didn’t want a monarch, they wanted a democracy.

So we do have a responsibility to defend our democracy.
We’re here at this moment right now because the president decided to pressure a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain and at the same time, withhold $391 million dollars in military aid from a very vulnerable Ukraine, which is an ally to the United States and is still at war with Russian-backed separatists in Crimea. That’s why we are at this moment, Chris.


Trump and his supporters believe that Democrats should not be investigating the president, and Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr believes that Democrats don’t have the constitutional authority to investigate Trump.

None of these points are accurate. As Rep. Jeffries pointed out, the House is a co-equal branch of government, and he told Fox News viewers the truth that the constitution is on the side of the Democrats.

Democrats not only have the authority, but they have a duty to the nation to hold Trump accountable.

House Democrats work for the American people, and they aren’t going to be pushed around by Donald Trump.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Dec 1, 2019, 02:05 PM (36 replies)

Trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and hardly a voice of caution to be heard

Trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and hardly a voice of caution to be heard
By Albert Hunt, opinion contributor — 12/01/19 11:30 AM EST

In the old days, a decade or so ago, Democrats would have assailed Donald Trump's failure on federal deficits; instead of eliminating it, as promised, the deficit has doubled to a trillion dollars as far as the eye can see.

Republicans would be in full fury over the spending schemes of Democratic presidential candidates; even the mainstream moderates propose huge increases for health care, education and the social safety net for the disadvantaged.

Yet deficits, as a political issue, are dead.

The political impact always was exaggerated, but out-of-control deficits were a staple of opposition rhetoric; there invariably was some budget-balancing blue ribbon group, the most famous, the Simpson-Bowles Commission.

For Democrats, the pressing urgency of unmet needs in health care, education, infrastructure and the social safety net far outweigh any rising debt. They favor tax hikes, mainly on the rich, to reverse the huge 2017 Republican tax cuts; but there's less premium on the green eye shade test of paying for all spending initiatives.

Most Republicans strongly want to keep those tax cuts — the only significant achievement of three years of party rule — and have little interest in tackling politically popular entitlements. In the years the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress and the White House they only focused on gutting the Affordable Health Care Act.

This has become the Trump Party, which overshadows the old Republican battle lines between budget balancers and tax cutters. This Republican executive is a tax cutter and budget buster.


Posted by babylonsister | Sun Dec 1, 2019, 01:30 PM (14 replies)

Books Have the Power to Rehabilitate. But Prisons Are Blocking Access to Them.

Books Have the Power to Rehabilitate. But Prisons Are Blocking Access to Them.
No Ulysses, Where’s Waldo?, or The New Jim Crow: Welcome to “the nation’s largest book ban.”
By Samantha Michaels; Photos by Carlos ChavarríaJanuary/February 2020 Issue

Behind the walls of California State Prison, Sacramento, six inmates gather in the library for their weekly short-story club. The librarian introduces the day’s pick, Doris Lessing’s A Sunrise on the Veld, and the men take turns reading it aloud. Some of them lean forward in their chairs as they listen; one traces the words with his index finger. It almost feels like a classroom, except that the library’s computers don’t connect to the internet, and there’s no natural light. A back room holds metal cages where prisoners with behavioral problems can do legal research. About half the books are donated, many from a public library, and the pickings are slim: Nonfiction is kept behind the counter, and most of the fiction is locked away in a small room.

About half the books that make up the library collection at California State Prison, Sacramento, are donated.

But for Michael Blanco, who is 19 years into an 87-to-life sentence, this represents a vast improvement. At his last prison, he says the librarians stocked the shelves largely with books inmates had requested from family and nonprofits. Still, California has one of the better prison library programs. The state spends $350,000 annually on recreational books for prisoners, much more than other states do.

Citing concerns about contraband, officials around the country are ratcheting up restrictions on what gets into prison libraries. They say there’s been an uptick of drug smuggling via books, whose pages can be soaked with synthetic marijuana or other potent liquids. In September 2018, Pennsylvania’s corrections department temporarily banned all book donations after dozens of prison staffers landed in the emergency room with tingling skin, headaches, and dizziness after handling inmates’ belongings. New York, Maryland, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have adopted similar policies, and Washington state banned most used books from its prisons, though all eventually backtracked because of public outrage.

Even in places without wholesale bans, corrections departments are cracking down. Florida blocks 20,000 titles and Texas blocks 10,000 titles they claim could stir up disorder. A recent report by PEN America decried similar restrictions around the country as so arbitrary and sweeping as to effectively be “the nation’s largest book ban.” Texas prisons have prohibited Where’s Waldo? and a collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets with racy illustrations. Literary groups and activists banded together to protest the censorship in Florida prisons by appealing to the Supreme Court in the fall of 2018. “Access to compelling books can be a godsend,” they wrote in an amicus brief, “for both prisoners and the rest of us, who benefit when prisoners have constructive outlets and better odds of rehabilitation.”



The Prison Censors

A sampling of censorship documented by groups that send free books to inmates:

In 2018, a prison rejected a used copy of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style because the first page had a spider carcass on it.

A New York prison banned a book of lunar maps because it would “present risks of escape.”

In 2009, Texas censors blocked The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster and Win More Business, because it “could be used to persuade others.”

Pennsylvania once banned manuals for Dungeons & Dragons, a fantasy game, because they could supposedly encourage insurrection or guerrilla warfare against the government or create danger within a prison.

In 2008, a federal prison in Colorado barred an inmate from reading Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope—arguing the former president’s memoirs were potentially detrimental to national security. (The prisoner was an al-Qaeda member convicted of planning to assassinate George W. Bush, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons later reversed the ban.)

Censors stopped an Arizona inmate from reading Gray’s Anatomy because it might inspire him to request more health care, and because diagrams of human anatomy were “sexually explicit.”

In 2017, Texas’ list of banned books included Freakonomics, a bestselling book that applies economic theory to unexpected topics, because a quote with a racial epithet in a chapter about the Ku Klux Klan meant it was “designed to achieve the breakdown of prisons through offender disruption.” But censors have allowed inmates to read two books written by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

Posted by babylonsister | Sun Dec 1, 2019, 12:05 PM (3 replies)

Doug Collins wants Adam Schiff to testify before House Judiciary Committee


Doug Collins wants Adam Schiff to testify before House Judiciary Committee
“Why are they hiding the stuff from us?”
12/01/2019 10:05 AM EST

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee would have House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff testify in their impeachment hearing and claimed the parameters of the impeachment investigation were skewed against the president.

"If he chooses not to" testify, Collins said Sunday of Schiff (D-Calif.), "then I really question his veracity in what he's putting in his report."

The Intelligence Committee is expected to release its report on its impeachment investigation Monday. If the committee votes Tuesday to approve the findings, the Judiciary Committee will begin hearings Wednesday in order to draft articles of impeachment. Collins is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary panel.

Speaking with hist Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,“ Collins complained that Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) gave Republicans on his committee an unrealistic timeline to digest the findings of the Intelligence Committee's report. Collins said Nadler gave them until Friday to present a list of witnesses to testify, which he said was too soon after the expected release of Schiff's findings.

"Why are they hiding the stuff from us?" Collins said. "If they think they have such a case, give us all the materials and don't let Jerry Nadler write a crazy letter that says on the sixth, let us know who your witnesses are. We don't even have the information from the Intel committee yet. This is why this is a problematic exercise and simply a made-for-TV event coming on Wednesday."


Posted by babylonsister | Sun Dec 1, 2019, 11:28 AM (17 replies)

Apple CEO Tim Cook says he's ready to 'fight until my toes point up' to protect DACA


Apple CEO Tim Cook says he's ready to 'fight until my toes point up' to protect DACA
Gabe Ortiz for Daily Kos
Daily Kos Staff
Saturday November 30, 2019 · 8:00 PM EST

Apple CEO Tim Cook said he’s ready to “fight until my toes point up” to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that is currently allowing hundreds of his employees—and 700,000 young people nationally—to work legally and live from from the fear of deportation. “I am focused on DACA,” he told ABC News. “We have 450 folks in Apple, employed at Apple, who are employed on DACA. I want those folks protected. Not just the 450 but the broader DACA people in America."

Cook’s remarks followed an “unprecedented” decision by Apple to file a legal brief in support of the program at the Supreme Court, which earlier this month heard oral arguments around the Trump administration’s unlawful and cruel decision to end the program in 2017. "Our interest in this case is simple,” Apple executives, including Cook, said in the filing. “We are distressed at the prospect of ripping our DACA colleagues from the fabric of our company.”

“One of Apple’s core values is the belief that equal opportunities should be available for all, regardless of background,” the brief continued. “The United States is at its best when all people are free to pursue their dreams. Our country has enjoyed unparalleled success by welcoming people from around the world who seek to make a better life for themselves and their families, no matter their backgrounds. DACA is an embodiment of those ideals.”

One Apple employee named in the brief, “D.O.,” described how he taught himself to code as a way to help support his mom. “I knew I needed to do everything I could, work as hard as I could, to get a job that would allow her to stop working in the fields,” he said in the filing. Today, he’s a valued member at Apple and has become a mentor to others. “These people are the core of what an American is,” Cook continued.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Dec 1, 2019, 09:31 AM (6 replies)

John Kerry launches 'World War Zero' climate activism coalition

John Kerry launches 'World War Zero' climate activism coalition
By Marty Johnson - 11/30/19 06:17 PM EST

Former Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry (D-Mass.) is launching a new bipartisan coalition of world leaders and celebrities to push for an active strategy against climate change on Sunday.

Dubbed "World War Zero," the activist group's goal is to unite "unlikely allies with one common mission: making the world respond to the climate crisis the same way we mobilized to win World War II," according to its website.

Headlining the group are former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Kasich, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting and Ashton Kutcher, the New York Times reports.

In total, there are over 60 founding members in the coalition.

In an interview with the Times, Kerry said that the coalition will hold town hall meetings around the country beginning in January.

"We’re going to try to reach millions of people, Americans and people in other parts of the world, in order to mobilize an army of people who are going to demand action now on climate change sufficient to meet the challenge,” Kerry told the paper.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Nov 30, 2019, 10:04 PM (5 replies)

David Gura Guest: Trump Is Giuliani's 'Product,' Not His Client


11/30/19 11:55am
David Gura Guest: Trump Is Giuliani's 'Product,' Not His Client
Business Insider columnist Linette Lopez makes a good case for us to stop thinking of Donald Trump as Rudy Giuliani’s pro bono client and start thinking of him as a product Giuliani is selling.
By NewsHound Ellen
1 hour ago by Aliza Worthington

After reading a Rudy Giuliani tweet in which he boasted about getting “paid zero” for his work in Ukraine, MSNBC host David Gura noted dryly, “Here’s a guy who works for free for a lot of people, doesn’t he - be it the president or be it the government of Ukraine.”

That prompted guest Lopez to urge us all to reconsider Trump's relationship with Giuliani.

LOPEZ: Aside from the fact that Rudy Giuliani sounds crazier than a bag of scorpions on meth, we have to think about what he's doing here. The president is not paying Rudy Giuliani but he's trying to get all these Ukrainians oligarchs and a Venezuelan billionaire who has interests in PDVSA, which is the Venezulan state oil, you know, very shady stuff. All these people are paying him, but the president doesn't pay Rudy Giuliani?

The president is not a client. He is not a customer. He is the product. He is what is getting served. He is not the one who is having services performed for him.

When you log on Facebook and it's for free, you know that your data is getting sold. You know that advertisers are paying for your eyeballs. You are not the customer, you are the product because it is for free. Donald Trump is not the customer of Rudy Giuliani, he is the product. He is what is getting served to the people who pay Rudy Giuliani.

So, yeah, okay, I guess Trump enjoys being carved up and served up to Turkish billionaires and shady Venezuelans and Ukrainian oligarchs. I think maybe that Trump has been selling his services to people like that his entire life so maybe that doesn't bother him, but for the American people, knowing that the president is the product should be pretty disturbing.

None other than Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe called Lopez’s analysis “spot on.” And he raised the important question we need answered: Who is the purchaser?

Laurence Tribe


“Donald Trump is not the CUSTOMER of Rudy Giuliani he is the PRODUCT. That should be pretty disturbing.” - @lopezlinette on @davidgura was spot on! That Rudy is being paid by Russian mobsters, not by his “client,” the president, raises this question: to whom is Trump being SOLD?
10:16 AM - Nov 30, 2019
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Nov 30, 2019, 05:06 PM (1 replies)

Trump is spurring turnout all right, almost always to the detriment of Republicans


Trump is spurring turnout all right, almost always to the detriment of Republicans
Kerry Eleveld for Daily Kos
Daily Kos Staff
Saturday November 30, 2019 · 2:00 PM EST
Donald Trump's "Keep America Great" rally in Louisiana earlier this month for Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone didn't turn out so well.

In every election cycle since Donald Trump became president, turnout has soared across the board and almost always to the detriment of Republicans. During the 2018 midterms, it was up 45% over 2014, with 115.1 million votes cast for candidates in the House of Representatives in 2018 versus the 79.2 million votes cast in 2014, according to the Brookings Institute. That increase, of course, turned out considerably better for Democrats, with a 70% surge in votes for Democratic House candidates over 2014 compared to a 27% bump for GOP candidates.

Turnout has also spiked in all four contests this year over that of 2015, rising by 66% in Virginia state Senate races, 48% in Kentucky's gubernatorial race, 20% in Mississippi's gubernatorial election, and 31% in Louisiana's. As a result, Virginia has now gone entirely blue in both legislative chambers and the executive. Meanwhile, the Democratic candidates in all three gubernatorial contests greatly outperformed results from four years earlier, with two of them managing to prevail in Kentucky and Louisiana.

While some pundits were quick to chalk up the GOP's loss in Kentucky to the extreme unpopularity of incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, it was harder to explain away the successful reelection of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in Louisiana, especially after Donald Trump dedicated three trips to the state to boost Edwards' GOP rival Eddie Rispone.

And while turnout grew everywhere in Louisiana, it wasn't spread evenly throughout. The New York Times reports that it increased only modestly in rural regions but "jumped by 29 percent in New Orleans and 25 percent in the parish that includes Shreveport, and it was nearly as high in Baton Rouge and in the largest New Orleans suburbs." The biggest turnout spikes clearly benefitted Edwards more, likely because Trump motivated both Democratic base voters and conservative leaning suburban voters to the polls—both demographics that favored Edwards.

“If you had any doubt that Trump was a human repellent spray for suburban voters who have a conservative disposition, Republicans getting wiped out in the suburbs of New Orleans, Louisville and Lexington should remove it,” GOP strategist Tim Miller, a Trump critic, told the Times.

But Trump's appearances in Louisiana also motivated African Americans voters.

The former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile, a native of the New Orleans area, said the only other time she had been able to nudge her entire extended family to go to the polls was to support former President Barack Obama in 2008.

”Donald Trump just has the same effect of pushing people out the door when they would prefer to stay home,” said Ms. Brazile. “I’ve never seen folks more unified.”

And 2020 will almost surely be another record-setting year in terms of turnout. According to Brookings, the average turnout gain from a midterm to the next general election is 18 points. Since turnout in 2018 was 50%, an "average gain from 2018 to 2020 would put turnout near 70%, a level we haven’t seen in more than a century."

The conventional wisdom continues to be that the Electoral College gives Trump a fighting chance at winning reelection he wouldn't otherwise have and perhaps even benefits him. But part of what cost Democrats in 2016 in key swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin was depressed turnout in Democratic strongholds. There's almost no universe in which decreased turnout will hamstring Democrats in 2020 the way it did four years earlier. In fact, if anything, voter trends over the last several years suggest that Democrats stand to benefit more than Republicans from record setting turnout next year.
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Nov 30, 2019, 04:59 PM (4 replies)
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