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Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
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McConnell lashes out at media, Democrats over "Moscow Mitch" label

womp womp


Zachary Basu
1 hour ago
McConnell lashes out at media, Democrats over "Moscow Mitch" label

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the Senate floor Monday to angrily defend himself against allegations that he is doing the bidding of Russian President Vladimir Putin by blocking a series of election security bills proposed by Democrats.

"Last week I stopped Democrats from passing an election law bill through the Senate by unanimous consent, a bill that was so partisan that it only received one Republican vote over in the House. My Democratic friends asked for unanimous consent to pass a bill that everyone knows isn't unanimous and never will be unanimous. So I objected. ... Over the last several days I was called unpatriotic, un-American, and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of bold-faced lies. I was accused of aiding and abetting the very man I've singled out as an adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years, Vladimir Putin."

The backdrop: In the 24 hours after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified about Russian interference in the 2016 election, McConnell and several other Republicans blocked election security bills from being passed by unanimous consent on the grounds that they were partisan, and that the GOP has already take steps to improve security for the upcoming election.

Democrats and many in the media responded by questioning whether McConnell's actions would effectively amount to an invitation for Russia to interfere again in 2020. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough dubbed McConnell "Moscow Mitch," while Washington Post columnist Dana Milibank wrote a scathing op-ed accusing him of being a "Russian asset." In the op-ed, Milibank noted that McConnell had blocked attempts to pass the following bills:

A Democratic bill passed in the House that would "direct $600 million in election assistance to states and require backup paper ballots."

"A bipartisan bill requiring Facebook, Google and other Internet companies to disclose purchasers of political ads, to identify foreign influence."

"A bipartisan bill to ease cooperation between state election officials and federal intelligence agencies."

"A bipartisan bill imposing sanctions on any entity that attacks a U.S. election."

"A bipartisan bill with severe new sanctions on Russia for its cybercrimes."

The big picture: McConnell maintains that he takes seriously the threat of election interference, and that Republicans have already taken steps to strengthen security. But just last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that the Russians are "absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections," and that the U.S. has not done enough to deter the Kremlin from repeating what it did in 2016.

The Rot You Smell Is a Racist Potus


The Rot You Smell Is a Racist Potus
Charles M. Blow
Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.


The core of this man is racist in a way that is so fused to his sense of the world that he is incapable of seeing it as racist. It is instinctual for him to attack people of color. It is instinctual for him to denigrate the places they live and the countries to which they trace their heritage.

He has so bought into the white supremacist narrative that his ideology no longer requires, in his own thinking, a label. For him, this lie of it is just the truth of it, and what is “right” can’t be racist.

This is a means by which racists have operated throughout history, to rescue themselves from association with those who flayed the flesh of the enslaved, who raped the women and sold the children, who released the dogs and aimed the water cannons, who noosed the necks and set ablaze the crosses.

Those demonstrative few, those consumed by hatred and sadism, those were the racists. Not the exponentially larger groups who swallowed and regurgitated a warped view of the world, a doctored view of history, and supposedly damning “facts” without contextualization.

Trump is a racist. Say that out loud. Say it with the profundity that it deserves. That to me is the beginning and the ending of the rationale I need to stand steadfast in my resistance.

Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 29, 2019, 03:36 PM (1 replies)

Trump's Twitter Attacks Are Backfiring


Trump’s Twitter Attacks Are Backfiring
President Trump seems eager to divert attention from impeachment and investigations, but distractions work only if they distract.
11:39 AM ET
David A. Graham


There are several reasons to question the efficacy of Trump’s distraction here. The first is that it means that a piece of good news for the president Friday afternoon, a Supreme Court decision that allows the Trump administration to begin work on a wall on the southern border while litigation continues, has been largely overlooked.

A second is the same as the point that I and many others made after Trump’s attack on the squad: Exploiting racial tension has been a successful strategy for Trump and many other politicians, but open racism is, in addition to its moral repugnance, a risky electoral ploy.

Third, and perhaps most important, a distraction works only if it distracts. Trump has successfully turned the conversation to his tweets about Cummings, but he has not turned it away from impeachment. In fact, he’s deepened his problems: As of yesterday, 107 House Democrats back an impeachment inquiry, up from the mid-90s last week. That’s almost half the caucus. Non–House members, including Patty Murray, a top Senate Democrat, have also voiced support.

This is in part a testament to Cummings’s standing inside the caucus. There have been tensions between more establishment Democrats and the squad since the start of the Congress—notably between Pelosi and the foursome. When Trump attacked them, Democrats rallied against him, but they may have hesitated to line up too loudly behind the rabble-rousers. Cummings, however, is a 23-year House veteran, a committee chair, and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. As my colleague Peter Nicholas notes, he was also a Democrat who was willing to work with the White House, so Trump’s attack shows that he’s willing to go scorched-earth even on members who are far more restrained than Ilhan Omar. The president may have underestimated the extent to which Democrats would rally around Cummings.

The spark of Trump’s fury at Cummings matters too. Setting aside the bile about Baltimore, what Trump is angry about is the subpoenas. No president likes being subpoenaed, but they are a well-established tool of Congress. I wrote in May that the more Trump stonewalls congressional investigations, the more likely it is that Congress acts. Members of the House may flinch at hauling Trump up for impeachment on obstruction of justice related to the Mueller report or other causes, seeing political peril for themselves, but once Trump starts infringing on their prerogatives as a body, members start getting fired up.

When the president throws this kind of over-the-top tantrum about the Oversight Committee’s tactics, he’s falling into just this trap. His attack on Cummings is designed to change the focus, but he’s actually zooming it in.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 29, 2019, 02:47 PM (15 replies)

Eric Alterman: The Distraction Distraction


August 12/19, 2019, Issue
The Distraction Distraction
We can’t ignore a president who spews Ku Klux Klan–level rhetoric, but neither can we allow him to colonize our collective imagination.
By Eric Alterman
Today 6:59 am

When Donald Trump launched his recent racist attack on four congresswomen of color, much of the punditocracy focused on the question of whether he was deliberately creating a distraction and, if so, from which of his other outrages. One Washington Post writer theorized that it was an attempt to overshadow speculation about his possible sexcapades with Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and Trump acquaintance charged with trafficking underage girls for sex. Another denied that it was a distraction from the reporting on the administration’s migrant mistreatment. New Yorker columnist Susan B. Glasser called it “a calculated political play” to preempt stories that would otherwise receive much more coverage—including the Epstein arrest, the border concentration camps, and Robert Mueller’s upcoming testimony—and credited Trump with “the extraordinary ability to get Americans to talk about what he wants them to talk about.” But in the same magazine, John Cassidy insisted there was “nothing strategic” about the attacks, citing reporting by The Wall Street Journal’s Michael C. Bender, who cataloged Trump’s day watching Fox News and playing golf.

However, arguing about whether Trump said or did something as a distraction is pointless. The president of the United States is simultaneously a liar, a racist, an accused rapist, a con man, a tax cheat, a sadist, an egomaniac, a brownnoser of murderous dictators, quite possibly a traitor, and quite definitely a dunce who knows virtually nothing about history, politics, or economics. Because he has no filter or focus and does not listen to his advisers (except for those telling him how wonderful he is), Trump manifests all of these qualities all of the time. Every outrage or crime that he commits is, in this respect, a distraction from the previous one until the next one.

A debate over distraction is therefore itself a distraction. It doesn’t matter whether Trump meant something this way or that; whether tweeting, bloviating at rallies, or bragging to the know-nothings on Fox News, he can hardly stick to one topic for more than five minutes. What matters is why, after years of falling for his stupid shtick, the allegedly intelligent men and women of the mainstream media keep chasing after it. Glasser has no business crediting Trump with getting “Americans to talk about what he wants them to talk about.” How would she know? I sure don’t. This scribe of the Beltway beat does, however, know what her friends and colleagues are talking about, and that would be Trump. The attraction between Trump and the media is, unfortunately, mutual.

The thing is, there’s an awful lot of important policy-related news that could use some attention. Moreover, these under-the-radar political machinations help explain why only four House Republicans could bring themselves to condemn Trump’s poisonous tweets telling the four congresswomen to “go back” to the countries they came from and why the GOP continues to support him even though he’s making a mockery of almost everything the party used to say it stood for. And—surprise, surprise—the answer involves rewarding Republican donors.

For instance, while the punditocracy was playing distraction/no distraction, Joel Clement, the director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the Interior Department until his recent resignation, testified to the House Science Committee about a “culture of fear, censorship, and suppression” that is undermining scientific investigation and analysis in the government. According to ThinkProgress, he said the department canceled a study on the health and safety of offshore oil rig workers just as the White House was removing many of their labor protections. The Trump administration nixed another study, this one devoted to the health effects of surface coal mining, at the same time the White House and congressional Republicans were working to repeal regulations in that industry. A third study, on the effects of PFAS in drinking water, temporarily got the kibosh because, according to Politico, its release would have caused a “public relations nightmare.” The ThinkProgress article also mentioned a March New York Times piece revealing that the recently promoted Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist against the Endangered Species Act, intervened to quash a study that found pesticides threaten 1,200 endangered species. At the same time we were being distracted by Trump’s racism, the Environmental Protection Agency was refusing to ban chlorpyrifos, which the Times described as a widely used pesticide that government “experts have linked to serious health problems in children.” The EPA also declined, yet again, to ban the cancer-causing substance asbestos, ignoring just about every reputable scientific recommendation, including ones made by its own researchers. This kind of thing is almost certainly happening in every government agency but receives an infinitesimal amount of attention relative to Trump’s verbal vomitus. (Read Michael Lewis’s invaluable book The Undoing Project if you doubt this.)

Trump presents us with a conundrum. We can’t ignore a president who spews Ku Klux Klan–level rhetoric that could get people killed and maybe already has. But neither can we allow him to colonize our collective imagination. Elizabeth Warren put it well in tweet: “This president is desperate. Calling out his racism, xenophobia, and misogyny is imperative. But he’s trying to divide us and distract from his own crimes, and from his deeply unpopular agenda of letting the wealthy and well-connected rip off the country. We must do more.” She’s right. We must demand more of our media and ourselves—more clarity, more balance, and more time focused on what the Trump administration is actually doing to our country than on his latest stupid, racist tweet. Democracy is not a reality show, and our media needs to stop treating Trump as if he’s still a TV host, lest we end up, in the late critic Neil Postman’s prescient phrase, “amusing ourselves to death.”
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 29, 2019, 02:06 PM (2 replies)

These Senate seats are up for election in 2020

Yes, this is from May but worth a repeat.


Rashaan Ayesh
May 4, 2019
These Senate seats are up for election in 2020

There are 34 Senate seats up for election in 2020 — including a special election in Arizona — many of which are expected to be brutally competitive as Democrats vie for control of the Senate.

Quick take: The U.S. Senate is currently made up of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats. Dems must win 3 or 4 seats to take control of the Senate — 4 to recapture control — or 3, if they also win the vice presidency.

Some of the fiercest races will come from Virginia, North Carolina and New Hampshire, according to a late 2018 analysis from FiveThirtyEight.

Republican senators representing left-leaning states — Susan Collins (R-Maine), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) — are considered among the Democrats’ clearest 2020 targets.

As Democrats from Trump-won states — Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) — are also vulnerable.

Some of the notable seats include Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.).

Driving the news: 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams announced on Tuesday that she would not be vying for a Georgia Senate seat in 2020. Also this week, Rep. Cindy Axne of Iowa and Rep. Joaquin Castro in Texas turned down chances to challenge Republicans standing re-election in 2020.


Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — Alexander announced he is retiring in 2020
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mt.)
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) - Enzi announced he is retiring in 2020.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.)
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.)
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.)
Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho)
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) — Roberts is retiring in 2020
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S. D.)
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.)
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)


Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) — Booker is running for president in 2020
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.)
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.)
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) — Udall announced he is retiring in 2020
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Jul 29, 2019, 07:38 AM (5 replies)

Dan Coats Spoke Truth to Trump. Now He's Out.

Dan Coats Spoke Truth to Trump. Now He’s Out.
The director of national intelligence won plaudits for plainly laying out the intelligence community’s assessments on issues ranging from Iran to Russia, putting him at odds with the president.
Kathy Gilsinan
6:35 PM ET

Dan Coats attracted President Donald Trump’s ire on more than one occasion as the director of national intelligence, describing assessments on issues from Russia to North Korea that contradicted Trump’s own. On Sunday night, his time in office came to an end: Trump said, via Twitter, that Coats was stepping down, to be replaced by Republican Representative John Ratcliffe.

Coats lasted two years in office—longer than many of Trump’s other national-security Cabinet officials, and longer than any other director of national intelligence save one, establishing along the way a reputation of being willing to offer Trump conclusions he might not want to hear. Yet this wasn’t just a workplace spat between boss and employee. It fit Trump’s widely documented pattern of disinterest in information that contradicts his instincts, and his inclination to punish people who offer it. Coats isn’t the first victim of these attitudes, and he won’t be the last.

Ratcliffe, a vocal skeptic of the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference, won headlines for his aggressive questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the latter’s testimony before Congress last week. Ratcliffe accused Mueller, in essence, of denying Trump due process, declaring that the president was not above the law “but he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law.” That display of partisanship directly precedes his nomination for a job that is supposed to be apolitical. Trump spoke glowingly of Ratcliffe in a tweet announcing his intent to nominate him for the post. “John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves,” Trump wrote.

Coats was in a difficult position from the moment he took the job—leading a workforce that holds telling “truth to power” as an ideal while at the same time reporting to a boss whom an ally once accused of creating a “reality-distortion field” around himself. The DNI position itself, which was created after the 9/11 attacks to better coordinate intelligence sharing among different agencies, is one Trump reportedly considered eliminating altogether before appointing Coats. Some experts have called the DNI an ineffective additional layer of bureaucracy, and those in the job have struggled to navigate murky authorities and rival bureaucratic power centers like the head of the CIA.

Indeed, Coats, a lifelong politician and twice-retired senator from Indiana, wasn’t an obvious pick for a position historically held by intelligence professionals. But two former colleagues of his told me in February it was clear he respected the work of intelligence professionals and took seriously his responsibility to present it faithfully to the president. This was no small thing, given that the president had set a hostile tone with the intelligence community before he was even inaugurated, invoking Nazi Germany when excoriating intelligence leaks on Twitter.


Posted by babylonsister | Sun Jul 28, 2019, 09:14 PM (12 replies)

Lawyers Are Furious That Immigration Courts Are Getting Rid of Interpreters

Lawyers Are Furious That Immigration Courts Are Getting Rid of Interpreters
The change could mean many immigrants will be left in the dark during their own hearings.
by Mary Retta
Jul 25 2019, 12:13pm

The Trump administration has begun taking steps to eliminate in-person interpreters from "master calendar” hearings, the first appointments that migrants have in immigration court meant to inform them of their rights, next appointments, and required preparation. Instead, immigrants will be shown an orientation video with subtitles then have the potential to use a telephone interpreter.

The Department of Justice announced the change to immigration judges in June, citing a desire to increase efficiency, and were set to begin the week of July 15th, starting with courts in New York and Miami, according to Buzzfeed News. As of now, all videos have been recorded in Spanish, although there are plans to expand the program to include twenty other commonly requested languages in the near future. Sources told the San Francisco Chronicle that the orientation video was confusing and difficult to understand, and many experts fear that the change will have a detrimental effect on immigrants’ ability to defend themselves in court—or even understand what’s happening to them—all in the name of cost-cutting.

“This orientation won’t help anyone at all,” said Claudine Murphy, an immigration attorney at the Immigration Justice Corps, a national organization that provides legal services to immigrant families. “A person can watch one of those videos, but when they show up for a hearing and the judge asks them questions, they will still be unable to understand or respond.”

Under the new mandate, immigrants will be unable to ask questions of judges during court proceedings unless they happen to have a bilingual lawyer. Judges are also allowed to try to track down an interpreter in the court house who happens to be in the building, or use telephone interpreting service that judges told the Chronicle can be “woefully inaccurate and substantially delayed.”

While some lawyers, like Murphy, are fluent in a second language and are able to explain court proceedings to their clients as they happen in real time, many cannot. For many clients, interpreters are vital for understanding court proceedings, especially those who are not yet represented by an attorney. According to immigration attorney Natalia Morozova, clients in immigration court who are unrepresented are already far less likely to make their court dates, and this is often because they do not understand what is going on.

“In the more than 15 years that I’ve been going to court with clients, I can count on both hands the number of cases that have been done entirely in English,” said Morgan Weibel, the Executive Director of San Francisco’s Tahirih Justice Center, a non-profit focused on aiding female migrants and refugees. “Right now, about 95% of our clients in removal proceedings require interpreters. It’s hard enough for non-lawyers to understand the legal jargon that is used in court settings, so imagine having to do that in a second or third language.”


Posted by babylonsister | Sun Jul 28, 2019, 01:15 PM (8 replies)

GOP Retirements Keep Coming


GOP Retirements Keep Coming
July 27, 2019 at 10:32 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

Playbook: “While we were all watching Robert Mueller and Democrats this week, here’s what happened to House Republicans: Three popular and well-respected members of Congress decided they weren’t going to run for reelection. Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell, Texas Rep. Pete Olson and Alabama Rep. Martha Roby all said they were calling it quits.”

“Republicans say they lost the House because of too many retirements last cycle, yet they are seeing a steady stream of lawmakers forgo reelection once again.”
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Jul 28, 2019, 08:59 AM (18 replies)

Mother buys all 1,500 pairs of shoes in closing Payless store to give to children in need

Mother buys all 1,500 pairs of shoes in closing Payless store to give to children in need
By Aris Folley - 07/27/19 08:21 PM EDT

A mother from Arkansas captured national headlines after she bought all of the shoes from a closing Payless store to donate to those less fortunate.

Carrie Jernigan, who is from Alma, told KFSM in an interview that she got the idea to buy all 1,500 pairs of shoes from the local store recently after her 4th-grade daughter asked her if she could buy a pair of shoes for her friend.

"She has the biggest heart, and she said 'There is a boy in my class that loves Avengers, and his shoes are too small, could you buy him these?,' and I was like 'of course,'" Jernigan said in the interview.

As she was checking out, Jernigan recalled jokingly asking the store clerk, “How much for the rest of the shoes in the store?”

And that’s when Jernigan said she saw the clerk’s “wheels start to turn.”

“She finished checking me out. She said 'can I have your number?’” Jernigan said.

After leaving the store, Jernigan said she received a call from the store’s district manager telling her she can purchase the store’s remaining pairs of shoes in bulk.

"The next thing you know we are trying to figure out how to get almost 1,500 shoes home with us that day," Jernigan said.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Jul 27, 2019, 09:28 PM (11 replies)

2020 Democrats shine, offering plans to boost workers and end racial disparities

So here's some much-needed good news...


2020 Democrats shine, offering plans to boost workers and end racial disparities
Laura Clawson for Daily Kos
Daily Kos Staff
Saturday July 27, 2019 · 1:00 PM EDT

There are 20+ Democratic presidential candidates right now, and one of them will be our nominee. That means that even some of the more prominent candidates will be saying or doing great things that are slipping through the cracks of traditional media and social media. It means that almost everything the lesser-known candidates are doing will fall through cracks that are more like chasms.

Good stuff from Democrats deserves attention. Add to that the fact that we don’t all like every single one of the candidates, but that when the time comes, we’ll have to set that aside and get behind the nominee as our way to beat Donald Trump and start the long, hard task of fixing our country. And that’s where this roundup comes in. I’ll be looking for a strong moment from as many candidates as possible each week, be it a policy, a quote, a tweet, an action.

So without further ado …

Kirsten Gillibrand unveiled an ambitious plan to address the climate crisis.

Tom Steyer also released a climate change plan.

Kamala Harris proposed a Water Justice Act to make our tap water safer and to attack the inequities in access to clean water.

Pete Buttigieg released a plan to crack down on companies that misclassify workers as independent contractors rather than employees and to protect union rights.

Bill de Blasio proposed a workers’ bill of rights, including paid time off, fair scheduling, and protections from gig economy abuses.

Jay Inslee released a plan to strengthen unions, address pay inequities, and in other ways boost worker power.

Cory Booker wrote an op-ed about big food mergers, farming, and antitrust enforcement.

Julián Castro unveiled a plan to address disparities and change the fact that “Indigenous communities have been treated as second-class citizens rather than sovereign tribal nations free to determine their future.”

Beto O'Rourke offered a plan to attack racial inequality in education, from funding to discipline.

Bernie Sanders has a plan to “end the long-standing racial disparities that exist within the health care system.”

Elizabeth Warren put out a plan to ward off economic collapse.

Amy Klobuchar released a plan to address the affordable housing crisis.

Joe Biden came out with a criminal justice plan aimed at reducing mass incarceration.

Andrew Yang offered a plan to improve veterans’ services.

Marianne Williamson talked racial justice to the NAACP.

Bonus: Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders showed up for airline food workers who are preparing to go on strike.
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Jul 27, 2019, 05:00 PM (1 replies)
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