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Published: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:52:32 +0000

Last Build Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:52:32 +0000

Copyright: Copyright 2005 - Steal what you want
 



White House: Kelly's lies unassailable, his experience of Trump's phone call outweighs soldier's mom

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:34:22 +0000

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and his military service are now nothing but a tool that will be overtly wielded as a weapon to shield the White House against all honest inquiries. That's exactly how Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used Kelly's credentials as a former Marine general and Gold Star father to paint him and the outright lies he relayed Thursday as unassailable.

Asked about Kelly's false assertion that Rep. Frederica Wilson had bragged about securing $20 million for an FBI building during a naming ceremony in 2015, Sanders responded:

"If you want to go after General Kelly, that's up to you. If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general I think that's highly inappropriate."

In other words, reporters have no right to question the account of a former Marine general. Why? Because. That's why.

Asked about the experience of Sgt. La David Johnson's mother, who said she felt disrespected by Trump during his phone call to her family, Sanders flat out denied the experience of Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson.  It's "unfortunate" that Jones-Johnson "misunderstood," Sanders said, assuring reporters that Kelly—the absolute authority on all matters—experienced Trump's call as "very sympathetic, very respectful." Here's the whole answer:

Certainly if the spirit of which those comments were intended were misunderstood, that's very unfortunate. But as the president has said, as General Kelly said, who I think has a very deep understanding of what that individual would be going through, his comments were very sympathetic, very respectful. That was the spirit in which the president intended them. If they were taken any other way, that's certainly an unfortunate thing.

Let's just say it—that answer oozes racism. Sanders blames the black mother of a fallen soldier for misunderstanding Trump, as if Trump is known for his pitch-perfect graciousness in tricky emotional situations.

Then Sanders invalidates Jones-Johnson's entire experience by noting that Trump and Kelly both thought the call was "very respectful." In other words, forget what the grieving black mother thought, the white guys on the other end of the line know what really happened.

It's just gross. And supposedly Kelly wants to restore some "sacred" treatment of Gold Star families. Good god. The White House is now using his military service and rank to bulldoze a mother who lost her son just weeks ago.

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Midday open thread: Chris Wallace is sad, a fake Fox 'hero' and Taiwan Jones flunked his midterm

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:03:12 +0000

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is Trumptasia: What’s coming up on Sunday Kos … Puerto Rico: Symbols and songs from the island of Borikén, by Denise Oliver Velez Polls: Media offer fake news, but news from Trump seen as phoniest of all, by Sher Watts Spooner We now truly know that America is a racist country, by Frank Vyan Walton It’s time to claim our human rights, by Susan Grigsby Want to increase black turnout? Make the fight for voting rights a core campaign issue, by Ian Reifowitz Scott Walker and Whataboutism, by Mark E Andersen Being introspective give us the empathy to give those who oppose us a 2nd chance, even racists, by Egberto Willies Cry me a river: Sunday host Chris Wallace generally lives in peaceful co-existence with Fox News Channel’s opinion folks, except when he hears some of them echo President Donald Trump’s criticism of the news media. Fake news? He’s fighting back. “It bothers me,” Wallace said in an interview. “If they want to say they like Trump, or that they’re upset with the Democrats, that’s fine. That’s opinion. That’s what they do for a living. “I don’t like them bashing the media, because oftentimes what they’re bashing is stuff that we on the news side are doing. I don’t think they recognize that they have a role at Fox News and we have a role at Fox News. I don’t know what’s in their head. I just think it’s bad form.” But every word he spewed will continue to be gospel to the Fox Nation: Fox News ran a story on Oct. 8 about a decorated Vietnam War Navy SEAL and glass artist who created an enormous presidential glass seal he hoped to give to President Trump. On Thursday, 11 days later, the network retracted the story after being told the Trump supporter never served in the SEALs or in Vietnam, much less earned commendations for his service. [...] The man’s claimed record turned out to be a fabrication. It was first discovered by former Navy SEALs. Both these SEALs and family members of Garofalo contacted Fox News about the story, according to the Navy Times. Don Shipley, a retired SEAL, told the Navy Times that he contacted Fox on Oct. 9, the day after the story ran. But the story was still on the news outlet’s Facebook page on Oct. 19. By then it had amassed 1.5 million views. What in the hell is wrong with people? A dead pelican has been found in Alabama with black electrical tape wrapped around its beak and a rope wrapped around one wing and its feet. A funny tweet went viral, produced a lot of funny responses, and of course a number of fake Taiwan Jones’ Twitter accounts (get a life, people). But to the real Mr. Jones? Sucks to be you: xThis professor graded tests next to me the whole flight. If there’s a Taiwan Jones at Howard, boy you failed the fuck out ya midterm 😩— roy (@Old_Orleans) October 19, 2017 On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, GoldStarGate continues, and Mister General John Kelly is baffled at having gotten up with fleas. Trump won’t give up on his fake Renoir. Gorsuch sucks. Trump nominees just skipping confirmation. Plus listener contributions from Eric Posner and David Raatz. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash [...]



'Americans in every way but immigration status': Hundreds of colleges and universities urge DACA fix

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:53:47 +0000

Campaign Action

Hundreds of colleges and universities have signed a letter urging Congress to “pass a long-term legislative fix as soon as possible to protect Dreamers”:

Colleges and universities have seen these remarkable people up close, in our classrooms and as our colleagues and friends. Despite the challenges they face, they have made incredible contributions to our country and its economy and security. They should continue to be able to do so. If we are unable to protect these Dreamers, we will be shutting the door to an entire generation of individuals who seek to contribute their best to America.

Our letter echoes the request made in the Sept. 20 letter from over 800 business and industry leaders in asking that Congress provide Dreamers with the permanent legislative solution that they deserve. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also supports this request. Children brought to the United States at a young age did not have a choice in the matter and are today Americans in every way but immigration status. It remains in America’s best interest to enable them to use their knowledge, skills and energy to continue to make the strongest possible contribution to our country.

The letter notes that “there is widespread support among your constituents and across the country on the need to protect these individuals. A Sept. 24-26 Fox News poll found that 62 percent of Americans say it is extremely or very important for Congress to pass legislation to address the Dreamers.” One NBC/Washington Post poll showed that nearly 90 percent of Americans support letting undocumented immigrant youth stay. 

But just as importantly, this is a humanitarian issue. Thousands of undocumented youth are already losing protections, including work permits. And because DACA youth are not eligible for federal financial aid due to their immigration status, not being able to work legally may mean not being able to pay tuition. As immigrant rights leader Frank Sharry tweeted, this is a “crisis.” Dreamers—students, parents, business owners, Americans in every way but on paper—need a clean DREAM Act now.

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Trayvon Martin's mother calls out companies selling NRA-branded 'murder insurance'

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:59:59 +0000

If you’re the kind of “responsible gun owner” who expects that your responsible gun ownership might leave someone dead sometime soon, the NRA has something to sell you: insurance. Carry Guard insurance will pay out if a killer is found in court to have been acting in self-defense or if a case against them is dropped—the basic plan covers up to $250,000 in civil protection and $50,000 in criminal defense, but there’s also a “gold plus” plan paying out up to $1.5 million and $250,000 respectively. Igor Volsky’s group Guns Down has launched a campaign against what they’re calling “murder insurance”:

"The reason I call it murder insurance is because if you look at the way this is marketed, it's really sold in the context of 'There's a threat around every corner, dear mostly-white NRA member,' and that threat is either a black man or a brown man or some other kind of person of color," said Guns Down director Igor Volsky. 

Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, appears in a video against the insurance:

"They spend millions lobbying for laws that allow them to 'shoot first' and 'stand their ground.' But that just makes it easier to get away with murder," Fulton says. She criticizes the insurance and implores viewers to tell Chubb and Lockton Affinity to drop the insurance — and to not purchase their products until they do.

In an email from Color of Change, Fulton writes “Families like mine [are] already under threat from vigilantes who see our children as a threat because of the color of their skin. Insurance companies shouldn’t make a profit by making it easier to get away with murder.” It’s hard to get much more to the point than that.

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John Kelly invents his own bit of fake news to support his takedown of a Florida congresswoman

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:14:14 +0000

How exactly White House Chief of Staff John Kelly came to the conclusion that Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) had claimed credit for securing $20 million for an FBI building in Florida is, to put it mildly, a total mystery. It's an accusation Kelly made Wednesday as he attacked Rep. Wilson in an attempt to scapegoat her for Donald Trump's abysmal handling of fallen soldiers and Gold Star families.

Kelly had attended the dedication of the FBI building in 2015, where Wilson spoke about the two slain FBI agents it was named after, Special Agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, who died in 1986 while pursuing bank robbers in south Miami. Here's Kelly's recollection of Wilson's speech:

“A congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down,” Kelly told reporters.

I’m not sure what speech Kelly witnessed, but it didn't bear any resemblance whatsoever to the 9-minute dedication captured on video by the Sun-Sentinel and posted with the headline, "Full video of Frederica Wilson's 2015 speech at new FBI building."

In some ways, Wilson gave a classic political speech, in the sense that she started out by recognizing all the other politicos and VIPs in the room and ended by lauding the law enforcement officers and first responders who put their lives on the line every day.

But in other ways, it was actually an unusual show of bipartisanship as she name-checked all lawmakers—Republicans and Democrats alike—who helped make the dedication possible on an extremely short timeline.

Wilson did claim credit for spearheading the effort to speed along the official naming process, legislation that often takes eight months to a year to clear Congress. The FBI had come to her only about a month before the ribbon cutting, she explained, asking for her help in dedicating the building to agents Grogan and Dove.

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For first time in three years, Gallup survey finds uptick in uninsured rate

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:25:29 +0000

Campaign Action

Since 2008, Gallup and Sharecare have been taking quarterly surveys of the uninsured rate. In November, 2016 they recorded a record low rate, at 10.9 percent. But since then?

The percentage of U.S. adults lacking health insurance rose in the third quarter of 2017 to 12.3%, up 0.6 percentage points from the previous quarter and 1.4 points since the end of 2016. The uninsured rate is now the highest recorded since the last quarter of 2014 when it was 12.9%. […]

However, the 1.4-point increase in the percentage of adults without health insurance since the end of last year represents nearly 3.5 million Americans who have entered the ranks of the uninsured.

Still, the uninsured rate remains well below its peak of 18.0% measured in the third quarter of 2013, prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) mandated healthcare exchanges and the associated requirement that all adults have health insurance or be subject to a fine.

Larry Levitt, Senior VP at Kaiser Family Foundation counsels caution. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 1 percent, close to the 1.4 percent increase they found, and he believes the survey "probably overstates things."

However, the downward trajectory in the uninsured rate since 2013 has stopped, and probably reversed. Which means in real terms that Trump's sabotage is keeping people from getting insurance.

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Disgraced former sheriff Joe Arpaio is still a guilty SOB, judge rules

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:58:37 +0000

The racist Joe Arpaio got his precious presidential pardon but it can’t erase the fact that he intentionally violated a court order and was convicted for it, a federal judge has decided. Arpaio had petitioned the court to toss out his criminal record after Donald Trump’s pardon spared him from a possible six months in the slammer. The judge said nope:

In her order Thursday, Phoenix-based U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton rejected arguments from Arpaio's lawyers and Justice Department prosecutors that the longtime Maricopa County sheriff was entitled to have all rulings in the case vacated, including the guilty verdict the judge delivered in July after a five-day trial.

“The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial recordkeeping," Bolton wrote, quoting an appeals court ruling. "To vacate all rulings in this case would run afoul of this important distinction. The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt. The President issued the pardon. Defendant accepted. The pardon undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, 'revise the historical facts' of this case."

Arpaio, a Trump surrogate, was finally kicked out of office last November by Maricopa County voters, but not before his reign of terror left black and brown communities devastated. As his deputies swept workplaces to arrest immigrant parents and inmates in his jails were starved, tortured, and left in blistering heat, Arpaio’s office ignored or under-investigated hundreds of sex crimes, including child molestation.

In 2013, El Mirage resident Levalya Beyart told the Phoenix New Times “that after she reported that her 13-year-old, mentally disabled daughter had apparently been raped in her home, a sheriff's deputy told her the case wasn't a priority.”

After his conviction this past summer, Arpaio went on a right-wing media campaign to lobby for his pardon and mercy from jail—perhaps in his shriveled black heart fearing he’d be treated the same way he’d treated other prisoners—and got it. But, it doesn’t change the fact that he remains a criminal, and will always be one.

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More questions than answers about Niger attack that left four U.S. soldiers dead

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 15:56:11 +0000

While there’s no serious question that Donald Trump told the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson that “he knew what he signed up for,” there are a lot of questions remaining about the attack in which Johnson and three other soldiers were killed. What information lapse allowed their team to be ambushed in unarmored pickup trucks without air support? Why was Johnson’s body not recovered for two days after the attack? What exactly is the U.S. mission in Niger, anyway? Rachel Maddow has raised further questions about whether Trump’s addition of Niger’s neighbor Chad to his travel ban, which immediately preceded a decision by Chad to withdraw troops from Niger, might have contributed to American vulnerability to ambush.

The Department of Defense has reportedly launched an investigation into the events in Niger, and it’s entirely possible that information being reported as fact now will ultimately be contradicted. Defense Secretary James Mattis has defended the initial response, saying that "The US military does not leave our troops behind, and I would just ask you not question the actions of the troops who were caught in the firefight and question whether or not they did everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once.” But:

Three senior US defense officials told CNN on Wednesday that Mattis is dismayed at the lack of detailed information he has received about the attack, but there is no indication he is trying to unduly hurry the investigation being carried out by Africa Command, according to all three officials -- all of whom are in a position to have knowledge of how Mattis views the situation.

In response to Sen. John McCain raising questions about the ambush and whether he’s getting full information about it, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said “if Sen. McCain says we need to do a better job communicating with him ... we're going to do it.” We’ll see—and we know that this is unlikely to get the kind of investigative attention from congressional Republicans that Benghazi did.

One thing we do know: Trump was at his golf course five times between when the soldiers were killed and the first time he spoke publicly about the attack.

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Wisconsin lawmakers seek to ban university doctors from providing abortions at Planned Parenthood

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:32:43 +0000

Republicans are running the country right now—holding the White House, majorities in Congress, governorships and many state legislatures. In an ideal world, they would use that power to do good for the American people and work across the aisle to bridge the intense division and myriad of problems plaguing our country. But, sadly, we don’t live in the ideal world—we live in this one. The one where reality show star and shady businessman Donald Trump is president and Republicans have abandoned any shred of intellect, compassion, decency and common sense.  They have chosen to forgo doing anything meaningful for the country and instead are spending their time doing all they can to pass policies to hurt nearly everyone who isn’t a rich, straight white male. 

Hurting women and limiting access to abortion is their modus operandi. They’ve been busy over the last few years and months trying to make it happen on a number of fronts at the national and statewide level. Their latest attempt comes in Wisconsin, where they are trying to pass a bill that bans doctors from the University of Wisconsin from providing abortion services at clinics.

The measure, AB 206, would ban UW staff from providing abortion services or training at private clinics, like Planned Parenthood, or any medical facilities other than hospitals.

State-funded UW doctors have been performing abortions at clinics like Planned Parenthood for several years, in order to get the training they need and also abide by a state law prohibiting the use of public dollars on abortions. This training is required for UW to maintain its federal accreditation for obstetrician-gynecologist training.

But, citing risks that state-funded employees are being paid by Planned Parenthood, proponents of the bill argued in favor of putting an end to the arrangement, which would effectively shut down UW’s training program.

So what does this mean? It’s state Republican lawmakers saying they want to take away the ability of doctors working at the university to train in abortion, and obstetrics and gynecological services in general just to punish clinics and Planned Parenthood and “save” unborn babies (even though they don’t actually want to pay for anyone’s children). And they are willing to risk the university medical school’s accreditation to do it. 

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Trump's opioid emergency promise came as news to the officials who'd need to make it happen

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:55:17 +0000

It’s a fire drill in the Trump administration after Donald Trump promised on Monday that “next week” he’d make an emergency declaration on the opioid crisis. His advisers and the agencies that would have to make an emergency response happen were not and are not ready to do that, and go figure—it’s just not that easy:

Emergency declarations are typically used to respond to isolated events such as hurricanes and floods, or disease outbreaks. Using one to combat a nationwide epidemic with no obvious end point might require unprecedented resources and raises numerous legal and other questions, said one senior White House official. [...]

Multiple sources in and out of relevant federal agencies said that key leaders on the opioid issue had not been asked to draw up strategies and tactics.

A senior FDA official said she did not know who was in charge of the emergency declaration efforts and described the effort as “such a mess.”

Let’s repeat that: “Key leaders on the opioid issue had not been asked to draw up strategies and tactics.” That’s perfect.

To make it all a little more complicated, there’s no health and human services head since Tom Price resigned in disgrace, there’s no Drug Enforcement Association head since the last person acting in that role resigned over Trump’s lack of respect for the law, Trump’s back to square one in picking an Office of Drug Control Policy leader since his first one had to withdraw over his sponsorship of a law making it harder for the DEA to combat the opioid crisis, and a Department of Homeland Security chief to replace now-White House chief of staff John Kelly has not yet been confirmed.

All of this is probably moot, though, because the fact that Donald Trump said he’d be making an emergency declaration does not actually mean Donald Trump intends to make an emergency declaration. It means he thought that would get him some approval and good press in the moment he said it and didn’t think beyond that. So most likely he’ll end up declaring something with the word emergency in it that doesn’t commit many resources or involve a real plan, but Trump will get to sign something in front of cameras (if he remembers to do the signing part) and say he’s taking action, and that’ll be good enough to keep him happy, even if it does nothing to keep people from dying of overdoses.

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Schumer: The Senate just passed 'one of the worst budgets Congress has ever passed'

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 14:05:22 +0000

Late Thursday night, Senate Republicans passed their non-binding budget resolution, a budget that recommends cutting Medicare by $473 billion and Medicaid by $1 trillion in order to give $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthy. Oh, and it adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit. That's so Republicans can come back in several years and yell about the deficit and push for more cuts to social insurance programs. The bill passed 51-49, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) the only Republican voting against.

“This nasty and backwards budget greenlights cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in order to give a tax break to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. […]

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the lone Republican senator who opposed the measure.

“I could not in good conscience vote for a budget that ignores spending caps that have been the law of the land for years and simply pretend it didn’t matter,” Paul said in a statement.

As a budget, it's non-binding. What matters, what this whole process was about, was those tax cuts. Even Trump understands that part. The bill includes the "instructions" the Congress needs to pass the tax cuts under budget reconciliation, a process that cuts Democrats out entirely because it only needs 51 votes to pass. A technical correction added as an amendment makes changes that the House Republicans wanted, which will fast track it even more—the House will likely take up the Senate bill and pass it completely, bypassing a conference between the two chambers.

The process was bitterly criticized by Budget Committee member Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who is retiring this year, who called the whole process "a hoax."

“The only thing about this that matters is preparation for the tax reform,” said Corker, who is retiring at the end of the Congress. "Other than that, these amendment votes, everything about this is a hoax. A hoax. It has no impact on anything whatsoever.
 
“If I were chairman of the budget committee, I would dismantle it. I would move to end it immediately in its current form," Corker said.

"Unless we create a real budget process, which this is not, our country’s fiscal situation will continue to go down the tube, and we have no mechanism to control real spending, 70 percent of which is mandatory, that’s not even covered by this,” he continued.

He voted for it. Because tax cuts. So much for principled opposition from any Republican.

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Cartoon: Trumptasia

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:01:48 +0000

When President Trump isn’t tormenting the families of fallen soldiers, he’s hard at work trying to give rich people a fat tax cut. In fairness, he isn’t the only one trying to give a big handout to wealthy people. The top priority of Republicans in Congress is cutting taxes. The more you look at the tax “reform” plan, the more ridiculous it appears.

Though the tax cut plan is sketchy on details, it appears to be heavily (and I mean heavily) weighted towards the top 1% and the tippy-top 0.1%. Well, that’s because they make more, right? Um, no. The percent of their income that they would receive as a tax cut is much greater the higher you go up the ladder.

For 2018, households with moderate incomes would get a tax cut of about $660, or 1.2% of their after-tax income. But if you’re in the top 0.1% you’d get $720,000, or 10.2% of your income! The disparity gets worse as time goes on. (These guys do a good job of explaining it in much more depth.) Trump, of course, would save over $1 billion if his tax plan is implemented. Enjoy the cartoon, and visit me behind-the-scenes here on Patreon.

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Black activists unknowingly organized events for Russia, helping effort to create divisions in U.S.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 20:58:03 +0000

While we anxiously await the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump and company’s ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, there is one thing about Russia that we know for sure: the Russian government tried to exploit America’s racial division and xenophobia in order to foment chaos and manipulate voter sentiments by using fake Facebook ads. 

But it turns out that they didn’t stop there. Russian troll farms also contacted black activists in order to convince them to organize events that they thought would further expand political strife, racial division, and controversy. 

Russia’s most infamous troll farm recruited US activists to help stage protests and organize self-defense classes in black communities as part of an effort to sow divisions in US society ahead of the 2016 election and well into 2017.

Four people contacted by what is believed to be the “American Department” of the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency told BuzzFeed News that while they found their contacts strange, they never suspected that they were the target of foreign recruitment.

Under the guise of being a freelance reporter, someone by the name of Yan Big Davis contacted activists and told them he was writing for a site called BlackMattersUS. He requested interviews of several activists, all of whom were affiliated with doing community and organizing work with black Americans. Not only did Davis conduct strange interviews with them, he also wanted to know about specific cases and even convinced one person, Conrad James, to organize two rallies in North Carolina: one after the death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who was shot by police in September 2016, and another in October 2016, in conjunction with protests organized by the ACLU and NAACP.

According to emails seen by BuzzFeed News, Davis said he was writing for a site called BlackMattersUS, which had over 200,000 followers and focused “mostly on racism and police brutality themes.” In its report, based on interviews with current and former employees of the troll farm as well as a source close to its leadership and internal documents, RBC found that BlackMattersUS was linked to the Internet Research Agency.

The BlackMatters site, which is still up, features awkward language throughout. Its contact page tells those who would reach out, “You are exactly that person, who can help us to figure out not only the top stories, but also the events that are really important to an ordinary African-American.” The group did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment. 

This is bizarre and terrifying enough, but the trolling didn’t stop there.

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Trump keeps covering his 'he knew what he signed up for' lies by attacking Rep. Frederica Wilson

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:52:51 +0000

Two days after Donald Trump insisted it was “totally fabricated” that he told a grieving widow that a soldier killed in an ambush in Niger “knew what he signed up for,” we’re still waiting for the “proof” he claimed to have that it was a fabrication by Rep. Frederica Wilson. And though that phone call has been a major focus of the past two days, and Trump is tweeting about it again, that proof? Still nowhere to be seen. In fact, during those two days, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has twice refused to deny that Trump said those words, followed in non-denial by White House chief of staff John Kelly. Both Sanders and Kelly worked hard, though, to blame Wilson for having the audacity to make an issue of Trump’s cruelty, and Trump went with that in his latest denial that he said the thing no one on his staff is bothering to deny that he said: xThe Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 20, 2017 This was Kelly’s line, too: “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation,” which was “absolutely sacred.” A sacred and very personal moment that the grieving family invited Wilson to be a part of because she had known Sgt. La David Johnson for years. A sacred and very personal moment that Trump defiled through his disrespect. When you’ve lost someone to violence, you get to choose who to surround yourself with. The Johnson family chose Rep. Frederica Wilson and they have said that Wilson’s description of the call with Trump was accurate. So that’s what we’ve got: Trump’s gross insensitivity and disrespect on the phone with Myeshia Johnson. Trump continuing to claim Wilson is lying, when his own press secretary and chief of staff have basically conceded she’s telling the truth. An all-out White House attack on Wilson for daring to be present during a phone call when the family had invited her to be there because they knew her and she had been a mentor to the deceased and had put the call on speaker in her presence. Are Trump and Kelly saying that Gold Star families can’t surround themselves with the people whose support they want, while they’re on the way to greet a loved one’s coffin, because it might make Donald Trump look bad? These people are monsters. [...]



Morning Digest: Our massive quarterly House fundraising chart, covering 141 races, is now here

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:01:52 +0000

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is once again pleased to bring you our quarterly House fundraising roundup chart. We have reports from every major race for the third quarter of 2017, including a few candidates who turned in surprisingly strong hauls.

Campaign Action

Over the coming days, we'll be taking a look at key House races to analyze which candidates are bringing the type of money they need to win, and which ones aren't. One thing we like to look at isn't necessarily who's outraising whom but rather which contenders will have the resources to get their message out and which ones won't. It's not uncommon for candidates to win primaries or general elections despite being dramatically outspent. But what is uncommon is for them to win without having the money to air television ads, hire a skilled staff, build a field operation, and pay for all the other things it takes to run a credible race. And of course, it costs much more to air ads in some television markets than others, so what might look like a decent fundraising haul in North Dakota may be underwhelming in New Jersey.

However, we've learned over the years that sometimes, a candidate's fundraising can change quickly. A memorable example came from Illinois Republican Mike Bost in 2014. Bost's fundraising was extremely weak for months after he launched his campaign against Democrat Bill Enyart in the 12th Congressional District, and something we cited in March of that year when we downgraded Bost's chances here. But even though Bost had no primary opposition, his fundraising took off like a rocket once he officially won the GOP nomination that same month. He ended up having all the money he needed to beat Enyart, whom he handily dispatched by a comfortable 52-42 margin.

It's a good reminder that sometimes, a weak fundraiser can turn things around well before its too late. Still, people like Bost are rare, and quarterly fundraising reports do give us a good window into who is capable of running a serious campaign and who isn't.

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Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 12:01:50 +0000

At least it’s Friday. Again. Again. More work on the World HQ today, as well. Maybe a little hammering. Maybe a little sawing. Maybe a wrecking ball or two. Who knows? We’ll do our best to keep our composure, and get you braced for another wild weekend. Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET! Podcasts! They’re hip! They’re hot! Everyone’s got one! But Daily Kos has had one since slightly after that point at which you would have been able to say that we had one before it was cool. Only we do ours over a live stream, every weekday morning from 9-11 ET. So the news is as fresh as the morning dew! Delivered and interpreted for you by David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando. We think you’ll like it so much, you’ll even help support its continued production, with monthly donations via Patreon, or one-time contributions via Square Cash. Not ready to face the world that early? Unsure whether you’re ready to donate your hard-earned cash? We’ve also got these handy-dandy record-o-matical things, like the one below, featuring our most recent LIVE show! At Daily Kos, it’s always free to try before you buy! (I think! Usually, anyway!) x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash Donald Trump hasn’t hit the bottom yet, he won’t hit it today either, or even tomorrow—Trump will make your head spin, you won’t believe how low he’ll go. Considering the Overton Window is free falling to Hell, yesterday doesn’t look so bad… David Waldman and Greg Dworkin give us their perspective of our collective plummet: Representative Pat Tiberi decides to bail out before impact, Senator Thad Cochran says “Why bother?” Donald Trump was lying about no president ever offering financial support to grieving families, but Donald did break ground with stiffing them on the check. There’s the Trump’s lies about the Gold Star Families, and Trump’s lies about his lying. Trump lies, everybody knows he lies, and America just gets dumber, debating whether he’s a moron or just mentally ill. Fox knows this whole mess is President Hillary Clinton’s fault, while the rest of the media wonders if it might be both Presidents fault equally. Donald thinks you’re kinda cute when you’re angry—anyhow it beats working on stuff. If the Gop can get their tax cuts, they’ll cut that loony loose. Meanwhile, Democrats work to keep the focus on those cuts. Also, the fight over Obamacare isn’t over. Back to the Russian invasion: Russian social media influence worked, it was probably also the subject and focus of collusion. Trump personally thanked a fake Twitter account linked to Russia. A pro-Trump Twitter account with massive clout was run by Russian trolls. A Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election. David revisits how Americans Were Tricked Into Working For Russia. It just isn’t collusion without some great partners—Facebook and Google helped an Anti-Refugee campaign in swing states, and Robert Mercer opened his heart and checkbook to just about every treasonous bigoted Nazi he met. (Thanks to Scott Anderson for the show summary! Please help me pay him more!) Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold. [...]



Abbreviated pundit roundup: The emoluments case against Trump, the enabling GOP, and more

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:41:59 +0000

We begin today’s roundup with an editorial at The New York Times on President Trump’s “self-dealing” presidency:

If Donald Trump thinks there’s nothing wrong with exploiting the presidency for his personal profit, he should read the Constitution.

That’s the argument plaintiffs made in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, in the first-ever lawsuit to accuse a president of violating the emoluments clauses — once-obscure constitutional provisions that the nation’s founders adopted to prevent corruption of public officials.

One clause prohibits officials from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever” from foreign governments unless Congress approves; another bars presidents from getting payments from federal or state governments other than their salaries.

At The New YorkerSheelah Kolhatkar adds her analysis on the cases against Trump:

The future of crew’s case could hinge on whether judges accept the group’s premise that the emoluments issue is creating a class of victims. The pages and pages of evidence submitted in the suit include details of Trump’s ownership in L.L.C.s; partnerships operating in at least twenty foreign countries; and the workings of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., where news organizations have documented spikes in bookings by foreign diplomats “eager to curry favor” with Trump. The hotel recently hired a “director of diplomatic sales” to court this foreign-government consumer base, and has aggressively raised its prices since the election. crew contends that the elevated profit the hotel has reported is coming largely from foreign business. On Wednesday, in court, Deepak Gupta, an attorney arguing on behalf of crew who was previously litigation counsel for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, called the hotel “an emoluments magnet.”

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Bernie Sanders crushing Ted Cruz on tax reform is so much fun to watch!

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 02:56:51 +0000

It’s easy to forget that one of the main reasons Donald Trump is president is that he won the Republican Party’s nomination—handily. If you go back in that fantasy time machine where President Obama is still in office and Donald Trump is smacking around GOP candidates, you’ll recall that Princeton’s top debater, and all-around sack of waste, Sen. Ted Cruz got his ass handed to him all of the time. That’s because Ted Cruz is not only terribly unlikeable, he’s also filled with worthless ideas—not unlike other big brains in the Republican Party.* Wednesday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders took on Sen. Ted Cruz in a debate about the big tax-overhaul being discussed in our country. Sen. Cruz’s position, as is his party’s position as well as the president’s position, is that we need to give the wealthiest people in the country huge tax breaks. They want to do this because they believe that their power exists solely as a result of that money. And they’re right; because their ideas are shit and the evidential record proves that out. This one exchange gave us all a chance to remember what we like about Bernie Sanders and how special it is to watch Ted Cruz wilt under the pressure of someone with real passion and ideas (and ideals). While Cruz attempted the old Socratic trick of creating consensus by asking relatively rhetorical no-brainer questions (do you believe small businesses should be relieved of some of their tax burdens? Do you think lower income homes should pay less taxes?), Sen. Sanders reminded little Teddy that this wasn’t an insecure prospective freshman at Princeton he was debating with. Sanders: Before we talk about the small business, will you agree with me that it makes no sense to lower the tax rates of the highest income people in this country? Cruz: I don't agree with that. Sanders: Would you agree with me that thousands of people will die if we cut Medicaid by a trillion dollars and throw 15 million people off their health insurance that they have? That's not Bernie Sanders. That's a number of studies saying that. To answer your question, if the question is should we support small businesses and low-income people, with assistance? Of course, we should. That's the tax reform we should do. I don't want to write them a check, we could lower taxes. But what you are doing is saying we're going to help a lower income person, a small businessman over here, but we're going to tie it to the fact that 80 percent of the benefits are going to the top 1 percent. Work with me on a tax proposal where 80 percent of the benefits go to the working class and middle class of this country. [Applause break] The best part of the applause break is watching Cruz feeling bad. He feels so bad! [...]



NFL owner says Trump's bashing of the league is calculated revenge because he was denied a team

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:24:21 +0000

In March, Donald Trump publicly needled Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder at an event because Snyder did not endorse him. As others tried to laugh it off, Trump added "I never forget." And he seemed deadly serious.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan believes this is the kind of vengeful thinking that is the real motivation behind Donald Trump’s continued, sustained attacks on the NFL. In 2014, NFL owners refused Trump’s bid to buy the Buffalo Bills and Khan believes Trump has never gotten over the snub. From First Coast News:

The league and its owners generally have had little public response to Trump, though New York Giants co-owner John Mara said, facetiously, “I’m shocked,” when asked for a response to the President's tweet. But Khan didn’t hold back.

“He’s been elected President, where maybe a great goal he had in life to own an NFL team is not very likely,” said Khan, who bought the Jags in 2011 for $760 million. “So to make it tougher, or to hurt the league, it’s very calculated.”

Khan went further, slamming Donald Trump’s conduct toward Gold Star families and the ban on Muslims entering the country:

“Let’s get real," Khan said. “The attacks on Muslims, the attacks on minorities, the attacks on Jews. I think the NFL doesn’t even come close to that on the level of being offensive. Here, it’s about money, or messing with — trying to soil a league or a brand that he’s jealous of.”

Khan, a self-made billionaire who immigrated from Pakistan, contends that Trump’s flap with the NFL pales when compared to social issues, notably including Trump's proposed travel bans that target people from Muslim-majority nations.

“That’s one aspect that you can imagine — someone is getting a visa that will change their life is from a Muslim-majority country — and, now, boom, that dream to change lives, they get locked out,” Khan said. “That’s a hell of a lot more significant than fighting some sponsors or people who want their money back because they’ve been riled up.”

Many have noted Khan joined other NFL owners in making a $1 million donation to Trump’s Inauguration fund. He’s just one more name in a list, going back decades, of people who’ve been swindled and screwed over by Donald Trump. Khan won’t be asking for or getting a refund, but maybe he’ll be motivated to get political and help defeat Trump in 2020.

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Michigan congressman tells constituents to 'get a life' after town hall complaints about Trump

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:07:07 +0000

Thanks to Michigan political blog Eclectablog from bringing this story to our attention. Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-07) held a town hall in his district and although he had several crotchety supporters in the audience, he did take a few questions from constituents who were less-than-thrilled with his track record, particularly with this inept response (or lack thereof) to Donald Trump’s reckless tweeting and poor leadership.

During the question and answer period, one attendee described how angry she is with President Trump’s tweets. Rep. Walberg responded, “I can’t control his tweets. I have to answer to his tweets. I don’t like to answer to some of those tweets in all honestly, but I’m not the president. I can do what I’m supposed to do. So that’s what we’re going to do. And those of you that think there are impeachable offenses for tweets — come on! Get a life. Get a life. Get a life.

“Did you just tell us to get a life?!” one attendee asked incredulously.

“I did,” Walberg responded. “I did.”

“Why do you think we’re here?” the questioner shot back.

Sure, there is nothing specific in the Constitution about Twitter or tweets, but day in and day out, Donald Trump has proven himself to be uniquely and wholly unfit for office. His Twitter rants and ravings about Hillary Clinton, the NFL and whatever phony outrage he tries to stir up show a pattern of dereliction of duty, especially during a time when 3.5 million Americans are suffering in Puerto Rico, all of St. John’s island in the U.S. Virgin Islands remains without power, Florida and Texas are rebuilding and California is still on fire, with 7,000 structures burned and at least 42 lives lost. 

After Walberg told the people in the back to “get a life, get a life, get a life”—you could hear the rage from at least one constituent. The unknown constituent in the back wasn’t the only angry attendee. These Republicans are so very accustomed to strolling into these things and meeting with a handful of constituents who agree with their ideas. One Walberg supporter seemed to be extremely upset each time Walberg was challenged and he looked like he might actually blow a gasket around the 1:20 min mark of the video. So much so that Walberg had to tell his buddy, who he named directly, to chill out so he didn’t hurt himself.

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Ryan won't meet with Wisconsin Dreamers, so they went to New York to protest his speech

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:07:10 +0000

Paul Ryan has said that DACA recipients have nothing to worry about, so why does he refuse to meet with them? Wisconsin Dreamers have gone on a hunger strike outside his Racine office to demand the DREAM Act, yet he refused to sit with them. They’ve lobbied outside his Janesville church (with permission from the priest, of course), but he appeared to skip mass that day. Still, if there’s one thing we know about immigrant youth, it’s that they don’t give up. They’re relentless. So if Paul Ryan won’t go to them, they’ll keep going to him: Ryan is due to speak Thursday night at the prestigious Al Smith Dinner in New York, and six Wisconsin "Dreamers" plan to demonstrate outside the venue. DACA recipients have urged Ryan and Republicans to pass a replacement before the program's protection begins to be phased out. At the New York event, the Wisconsin contingent will be joined by DACA recipients from New York and other immigrant-rights activists. They had previously urged New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan to rescind Ryan’s keynote invitation. Other youth and allies are also participating in a 12-mile march across Congressman Peter King’s district to demand action on the bipartisan DREAM Act, and their cries are clear. Without clean passage of the DREAM Act—meaning a bill that doesn’t include any harmful enforcement proposals ramping up Donald Trump’s immoral, mass deportation force—their lives and families are at stake.  “I’m a high school student from Racine,” said Fernanda, Ryan’s constituent and a leader with Wisconsin immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera. “I’m also a DACA recipient. Today, we are here in New York City to demand our congressman to confront us, to talk to us.” x.@SpeakerRyan won’t meet w his undocumented constituents @voces_milwaukee, so they came to him for 2morrow’s Al Smith dinner. #CleanDREAMAct pic.twitter.com/q66TG2vwFM— Make the Road NY (@MaketheRoadNY) October 18, 2017 [...]



Former CIA officers step up to run for Congress as Democrats

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 17:45:58 +0000

Well, this should convince Donald Trump that the Deep State really is out to get him: Democratic congressional candidates for 2018 include some former CIA officers and others with intelligence backgrounds.

Abigail Spanberger spent eight years as an operations officer for the CIA, recruiting and developing spies, with a focus on counterterrorism. Before joining the agency, she worked in law enforcement for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service — targeting drug dealers and money laundering. In 2014, Spanberger left the agency and moved home to the Richmond suburb of Glen Allen, near where she and her husband grew up, to raise their three kids. The 38-year-old is now challenging Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), the Freedom Caucus leader who toppled then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary. [...]

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks happened during Elissa Slotkin’s first week living in New York City. She had just started her graduate studies at Columbia University. Because she was fluent in Arabic, the CIA recruited her to be a Middle East analyst and then deployed her to Baghdad. She served three tours in Iraq over five years. She left to become the director for Iraq policy on the National Security Council, moved to the State Department and finally the Pentagon. When Barack Obama left office in January, she was the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security. Now 41, she’s moved home to Michigan and is running against GOP Rep. Mike Bishop.She outraised him last quarter.

Additionally, a former CIA intelligence officer and a former military intelligence officer are running in the Democratic primary to challenge Republican Rep. John Faso in New York.

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The nation's 'top lawyer' has no idea how executive privilege works

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 18:28:42 +0000

Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn't want to answer a lot of questions during his Wednesday testimony and he used a claim of "executive privilege" to dodge many of the toughest ones. Why did Trump fire Comey? Sorry. “Until such time as the president makes a decision with respect to this privilege, I cannot waive that privilege myself or otherwise compromised his ability to assert it,” he explained. In other words, Sessions made a de facto claim of executive privilege. He apparently doesn't understand how this works. In fact, it's been four full months since Sessions first refused to answer questions about his conversations with the Trump. “I’m protecting the president’s constitutional right by not giving it away before he has a chance to view it and weigh it,” he said. During that June hearing, Sen. Kamala Harris pushed Sessions to specify under what legal authority he was declining to answer questions. The nation's top lawyer came up short on answers but was saved by two white male GOP colleagues who shushed the woman of color in the room asking tough questions. How dare she. In the intervening time, Sessions hasn't done much homework. Democrats expected as much, compelling them to send our highest ranking legal authority a letter explaining that they expected him to have "determined" in advance of the hearing whether Trump was invoking executive privilege. The notion that Democrats had "demanded" a status update got Sessions a little hot under the collar. Sorry, cookie, you should have done your homework. As it was, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse also got a little testy as he tried to explain to the nation’s attorney general how executive privilege works after Sessions finally specified that the legal authority he was using to dodge questions was a 1982 Reagan memo. Whitehouse: Let me know if any of this has changed. That rules says that “executive privilege will be asserted only in the most compelling circumstances and shall not be invoked without specific presidential authorization.” Is that still the rule? Sessions: Executive privilege cannot be invoked except by the president. Whitehouse: “Congressional requests for information shall be complied with as promptly and as fully as possible, unless it is determined that compliance raises a substantial question of executive privilege.” Is that still the rule? Sessions: That’s a good, good rule. [...]



After questions from the Washington Post, Trump finally sent a promised payment to grieving father

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:39:54 +0000

After 22-year-old Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge was killed in Afghanistan, Donald Trump called his father, Chris Baldridge and made an offer to send him $25,000. The conversation happened nearly five months ago and Baldridge said he was initially stunned by the offer: "'I'm going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000,' and I was just floored," Baldridge told the Post of his conversation with Trump. "I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this. He said, 'No other president has ever done something like this,' but he said, 'I'm going to do it. " Nearly five months later, the check still had not arrived, although a letter from Trump’s office did show up in the mail. Baldridge said that after the president made his $25,000 offer, he joked with Trump that he would bail him out if he got arrested for helping. The White House has done nothing else other than send a condolence letter from Trump, the father said. “I opened it up and read it, and I was hoping to see a check in there, to be honest,” the father said. “I know it was kind of far-fetched thinking. But I was like, ‘Damn, no check.’ Just a letter saying ‘I’m sorry.’ ” On the day the Washington Post began asking questions about the promised payment, the check was quite suddenly “in the mail.” They claimed red tape prevented them from sending it sooner, but as soon as the Washington Post was on the story, that red tape vanished. Weird, right?  Even as he offered the money, he proclaimed his greatness, noting that he was the only president to ever do such a thing. He either does not know or is once again flat-out lying. In 2011, it was revealed President Obama was known to quietly write personal checks to struggling Americans: On more than one occasion, the president has cut personal checks to struggling Americans who’ve written to the White House, according to an excerpt from a new book by Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow about the ten letters the president reads every day. “It’s not something I should advertise, but it has happened,” the president told Saslow. Another day, another lie, another page in this dark chapter of American history.  [...]



After college LGBTQ center opens, someone spread flyers telling LGBTQ students to kill themselves

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 17:51:48 +0000

Haters reportedly marked the opening of Cleveland State University’s LGBTQ student center last week by posting flyers on campus encouraging LGBTQ students to kill themselves. The graphic shows a person with a rainbow heart and a rope around their neck with the words, “Follow your fellow fa**ots” in multi-colored lettering at the top. The flyers also list incorrect statistics mocking the rate of suicide among LGBTQ people, with Splinter noting the real statistics are actually higher. Outraged CSU students went to school administrators expecting a response in support of LGBTQ students, only to be floored by President Ronald Berkman’s initial response:

The university's president Ronald Berkman called the flyers "reprehensible" but only in a second statement released after his first experienced heavy backlash.

Berkman's initial statement said CSU "remains fully committed to a campus community that respects all individuals" but is also "committed to upholding the First Amendment, even with regard to controversial issues where opinion is divided."

In a follow-up statement, Berkman said he "failed to express" his "personal outrage" over the flyers.

"While I find the message of this poster reprehensible, the current legal framework regarding free speech makes it difficult to prevent these messages from being disseminated," his statement said.

Legally, the free speech argument for the flyers is uncertain but the effects these posters could have on the students attacked by them is obvious, a Lambda Legal attorney told NBC.

Upholding the dignity of LGBTQ lives shouldn’t be a “controversial issue.” Instead, school administrators are sending a dangerous message by signaling to hateful people that their violence could be viewed as valid discourse. Promoting violence, especially when directed at minority groups, shouldn’t be tolerated on any campus, period. “It is not an issue of free speech when it is literally telling students to kill themselves,” student Skyla Schaefer said in a Facebook post. “How about you stand up for your LGBTQ+ students?”
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Mnuchin previews Trump tax plan: 'It’s very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy'

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:17:13 +0000

Cut taxes for the wealthy or else, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is warning Congress:

“There is no question that the rally in the stock market has baked into it reasonably high expectations of us getting tax cuts and tax reform done,” Mnuchin said in the interview. “To the extent we get the tax deal done, the stock market will go up higher. But there’s no question in my mind that if we don’t get it done you’re going to see a reversal of a significant amount of these gains.”

Let’s be clear: When Mnuchin says the stock market relies on “tax cuts and tax reform,” he means rich people.

“The top 20 percent of the people pay 95 percent of the taxes. The top 10 percent of the people pay 81 percent of the taxes,” he said. “So when you’re cutting taxes across the board, it’s very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy with tax cuts to the middle class. The math, given how much you are collecting, is just hard to do.”

And what percent of the wealth do the top 20 percent of the people have? Around 89 percent as of a couple years ago, and growing. Seems like they have it to spare. It’s almost like when he says “it’s very hard not to give taxes to the wealthy,” he means “I have spent so much time enriching the already rich that I have trouble not coming up with more ways to do it.” Or “it’s very hard not to give tax cuts to myself and my friends.” The reality is that if you want to give out tax cuts that will be big in people’s lives, it’s a lot easier to do with middle- and lower-income people, because they’re already stretching every dollar.

Mnuchin also defended eliminating the estate tax even though estates of up to $11 million per couple are already shielded from the levy. “The estate tax is somewhat of an economic issue and somewhat of a philosophical issue,” he said. “People pay taxes once. Why should people have to pay taxes again when they die?”

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Day 19: Senate too busy on tax cuts for the rich to address children's health insurance expiration

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 21:09:05 +0000

Campaign Action The majority of the Senate’s work this week has been focused on passing their budget resolution, the bill that sets their spending priorities, but more importantly gives them "instructions" that allow them to pass a massive tax cut for the rich with just 51 votes. This, despite the fact that the Children's Health Insurance Program—which nearly 9 million children are enrolled in right now—expired on September 30. Despite the fact that it has thrown many state's budgets into turmoil, and that Minnesota is going to completely run out of funding in 12 days. That makes this “Screw the Nation's Future Week” in the Senate, apparently. Not only are they malevolently neglecting an existing, critical program for children's health, but they're plotting how they can make their lives worse in the future with this budget/tax cuts bill. According to estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, households with children earning less than $75,000 would get just a $20 average tax cut in 2027 from the GOP tax framework released in late September, compared to a $200,000 tax cut for households with children earning $1 million or more.  And when Congress turns its attention to paying for those tax cuts, low- and middle-income families would lose far more in health care, food and housing assistance, and educational services that they need to thrive now and in the future. They're not even pretending like the care about children at this point, except of course for the unborn ones. Once they're in the world, they can ignored. [...]



This Week in Statehouse Action: You Give Laws A Bad Name edition

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:53:09 +0000

It’s not as hot as Virginia’s election action this fall, but New Jersey is also home to gubernatorial and state legislative elections next month. And while political rock star Barack Obama is rallying Virginia Democrats for Northam this week, actual rock star Jon Bon Jovi crooned for donors to New Jersey Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy’s campaign. Blaze of Glory: But let’s take a step back from Nov. 7 and check out YET ANOTHER special election Democrats won this week. On Tuesday, Democrat Paul Feeney won a swingy state Senate seat in Massachusetts, a victory he attributes to the fact that he stayed positive in this race, despite the negative and shady tactics deployed against him.  Mail pieces compared Feeney to “rotten apples and a monkey eating money.” A robocall interrupting voters watching last Sunday’s Patriots game purported to be from Feeney, but it was actually from a Republican group. Feeney, an “unabashed progressive” who supports Medicare for all, replaces the most conservative Democrat in the Senate. Campaign Action Okay, back to Virginia! Livin’ on a Prayer: The final pre-election finance reports have dropped in Virginia, and they’re chock full o’ good news for Democrats—and reasons for Republicans to appeal to higher powers for help. Democrat (and Daily Kos endorsee) Ralph Northam out-raised GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie yet again, $7.2 million to $4.4 million, in the month of September. But a closer look at those numbers reveals an even more unfortunate situation for Gillespie than the raw totals indicate. Almost half of Gillespie’s total—$2 million, specifically—came from the Republican Governors Association and its associated PAC, A Stronger Virginia ($1 million from each). Meanwhile, only $1 million of Northam’s $7.2 million was donated by the Democratic Governors Association. Even more troubling for Gillespie, however, is the respective number of small-dollar donors who gave less than $100 during September, a figure strongly indicative of grassroots enthusiasm. Gillespie pulled in these low-dollar donations from 2,739 donors, while Northam’s grassroots supporters numbered 6,860 for the same period—two-and-a-half times as many. [...]



Obama hits the campaign trail for Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 13:59:53 +0000

Two states will elect new governors in November, and former President Barack Obama will campaign for the Democrats in both races:

Obama will first drop in on campaign workers in Newark, New Jersey, for a private “canvass kickoff” for Democratic candidate Phil Murphy, who is running against Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. The former president will then head to Richmond, Virginia, to rally support for Democrat Ralph Northam in his campaign against Republican Ed Gillespie. [...]

Obama’s popularity is still undeniable. In an August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 51 percent of Americans said they have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 35 percent had a negative opinion. In the same poll, 36 percent said they had a positive opinion of Trump and 52 percent had a negative opinion.

In Richmond, thousands of people lined up on Tuesday to get tickets to Obama’s rally.

We can’t know how many rally attendees will close their eyes and pretend he’s still living in the White House, but probably a lot of them. What’s important, though, is that people who have a favorable opinion of Obama and an unfavorable opinion of Trump turn out and vote on November 7, 2017, and again on November 6, 2018.

Can you chip in $1 to Ralph Northam and each of our endorsed candidates for Virginia state House?

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'Stunned': Chief of staff Kelly jumps into Gold Star fray to scapegoat female member of Congress

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 20:48:55 +0000

Campaign Action White House chief of staff John Kelly on Thursday said he was "stunned" by the uproar over Donald Trump's phone call to the grieving widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed earlier this month in Niger. Kelly then proceeded to scapegoat Congresswoman Frederica Wilson for violating the sacred trust of a president. "It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation," said Kelly, a former four-star Marine General whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. "Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred." Let's just start by acknowledging that Rep. Wilson is not the one who started this conversation. If Kelly is looking for the culprit, he can walk straight into the Oval Office, because it's Donald Trump who has turned patriotism into a political weapon. It was Trump who in trying to explain his failure to contact the families of four fallen soldiers fumbled his way into falsely accusing President Obama of never having called Gold Star families. It was Trump who dragged Kelly's son, Marine Second Lieutenant Robert Kelly, into the political spotlight by pointing out that Obama hadn't called Gen. Kelly following his son’s death. It was Trump who in trying to cover his butt following the blowback over his lies and politicization of the issue made the clumsy call to a grieving widow in which he relayed that her husband “knew what he was signing up for." It was Trump who then lied again, tweeting that Wilson had "totally fabricated" his unconscionable comments and said he had "proof" that she had done so. Well, that "proof" dissolved into the exceedingly thin air occupying Trump's head and so the White House sent Gen. Kelly out to address America about a story their boss has stoked all week. We can only take that as confirmation that Wilson's initial characterization of what Trump said was 100 percent accurate. For his part, Kelly explained from the White House podium that Trump, who had supposedly already been making these calls, asked Kelly what he should say when he reached out to these four families. Trump also asked him if President Obama had called him and he told Trump, no. Kelly then relayed what he told Trump about these phone calls with the clear intention of explaining the terribly mangled sentiments Trump eventually delivered. Kelly quoted the person who had informed him of his son's death in 2010, his close friend Gen. Joe Dunford. [...]



'It’s confusing. There is no explanation': Some green card holders getting turned away from US Army

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:40:18 +0000

As a civilian and reality show host, Donald Trump sent out at least 60 tweets exploiting Benghazi, but when it comes to addressing the deadliest combat mission yet of his presidency, he’s preferred to discuss anything but the fact that he’s had time to golf five times in nine days but has failed to contact numerous Gold Star families. When he does manage to call, it’s been insulting. When he gets called out for it, he lies and blames Obama. Trump refused five times to serve his country in Vietnam, and now that he’s Nativist in Chief, the administration is obstructing green card holders who do want to step up where he didn’t: The U.S. Army has stopped enlisting some immigrants who are legal permanent residents while mandating lengthy delays for others, part of a controversial effort across the military to tighten security in the ranks by subjecting foreign-born recruits to tougher background checks. Implemented late last week, the new policy halts indefinitely all enlistments involving green-card holders seeking to join the Army Reserve and National Guard, which is a part-time military service commitment. Green-card holders seeking to become full-time soldiers remain eligible to enlist in the active-duty Army, but they are no longer allowed to start basic training before their background checks are complete — a process that could take a year or more. “The Pentagon defends this and related measures implemented in recent months, claiming they’re necessary to prevent terrorists and foreign agents from infiltrating the American military,” notes the Washington Post. But, “the Pentagon has not disclosed any examples of legitimate threats stemming from immigrant recruits.” “It looks like we’re now afraid of foreigners in the military. And that means mission failure,” said Margaret Stock, a retired Army officer who helped start a military program that has allowed thousands of immigrants to serve and eventually earn citizenship. “If you’re going to be deployed in more than 100 countries to fight a global war, you can’t be afraid of foreigners.” [...]



Most Republican senators—and Trump—still don't know how Obamacare actually works

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 18:44:40 +0000

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It has come to our attention that after seven years of fighting against the Affordable Care Act and promising to repeal and replace it, many Republicans have absolutely no clue how any part of the law works. Even Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who is in Republican leadership admits it. "There is a lot of misinformation out there," he says, while conceding that the payments to insurers Donald Trump has ceased are not a bailout and do indeed save the federal government money.

Trump is particularly fond of calling these payments bailouts, and pretty much any Republican commenting on them will say the same thing. Here's the deal. They're not. A bail-out is when the government has to stop in to save a company or an industry from bankruptcy. These payments aren't that. They're reimbursement for insurance companies who are required by law to help out lower-income customers in their Obamacare plans with their deductibles and co-payments. That's part of the "affordable" in the Affordable Care Act. They're making health insurance cheaper so that more people—7 million people currently, about 58 percent of the Obamacare enrollment—can afford it.

Here's how it works. People who have incomes of 100 to 250 percent of the poverty level (just under $25,000 for individuals and $62,000 for a family of four) and who buy the standard silver plan can get the assistance. The subsidies are only available on the silver plans, the solid, middle-of-the road plans that the law sets as the benchmark. These plans pay 70 percent of covered medical costs for consumers, and the premium set for the second cheapest silver plan is the amount used by states to serve as the basis for premium subsidy calculations. These are the only plans in which enrollees can get both CSR subsides and premium subsidies. The CSRs, again, are paid by the insurance company.

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California lawmaker passes bill to get public schools to provide free tampons to low-income girls

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:41:58 +0000

While it’s clear that the Trump administration hates girls and women and will do everything it can to violate our rights, local lawmakers are doing what they can to make life more normal and equitable for girls—particularly those from marginalized communities. In California, Assembly Member Cristina Garcia has a passion for making sure that women in the state have access to feminine hygiene and menstrual products. Known as the “Tampon Queen,” she was instrumental in recently getting AB 10 passed, a bill that provides menstrual products to low-income, school-aged girls.

A proposal to make such products tax-free in the Golden State was vetoed last year. This year a similar bill didn't even make it out of committee. But the lawmaker from Bell Gardens [Garcia] finally found victory in AB 10, which requires lower-income schools to provide menstrual products to girls at no charge in half the bathrooms on a given campus.

This is an issue many people don’t think about, but it’s one that deeply impacts girls who are poor. When menstrual products are not easily accessible, girls may miss school. In addition to the mental and emotional stress of trying to cope without pads or tampons, missing school can have a negative effect on girls’ academic performance and future life chances. 

Sadly, this is a global phenomenon and not limited to countries in the developing world. This same issue has been reported in the UK, New Zealand, and Canada. While assumptions may lead us to believe that this is an urban and/or rural phenomenon, it also impacts Native American girls living on reservations. In short, there are nearly no poor girls across the country and world who are not touched by this.

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Midday open thread: T-shirts, anniversaries and what's up with Canada?

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 19:01:25 +0000

Today’s comic by Ruben Bolling is The leaked NFL memo to players on acceptable stances during the national anthem: This is just sad: A Georgia teacher surrounded by controversy over students wearing “Make America Great Again” T-shirts has given her resignation to school officials. … She was put on administrative leave in September after asking two students wearing the shirts to turn them inside out. The slogan was popularized by President Donald Trump during his campaign. The River Ridge High School math teacher says her request to the students was motivated by white nationalists who used the slogan during August’s deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia ... Orletsky said in a statement Wednesday that threats on her life and character led her to decide on resigning. A tip of the hat and a toot of the fife: x#OTD in 1781, British forces surrendered at Yorktown, ending the Revolutionary War & securing the United States’ independence #ArmyHistory pic.twitter.com/fKiv2thPtP— GEN Mark A. Milley (@ArmyChiefStaff) October 19, 2017 What the hell, Canada? A new law that would effectively force Muslim women who wear a niqab or burka to uncover their faces to use public services is based on a principle "the vast majority of Canadians, and not just Quebecers" can agree on, Premier Philippe Couillard said. The Liberal government's Bill 62 on religious neutrality was passed Wednesday in Quebec's National Assembly. Your random and yowser! scientific fact du jour: Neutron stars are some of the weirdest objects in the universe. They’re small — just 15 or so miles across — but contain a mass equal to the sun. A teaspoon of neutron star weighs around 10 million tons. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Trump hits a new low. But wait five minutes! Trump & top aides retweeted Russian trolls. Super-effective propaganda + coincidence? Or collusion? Facebook & Google embedded with evil. And more on Russian trolls manipulating Americans in real space. x Embedded Content YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash [...]



Republican budget: Help the rich, screw everyone else, part 5,937

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:11:42 +0000

Campaign Action Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Republicans are busy this week ramming through the vehicle they will use to push their tax cut plan, their budget resolution. The entire document expresses the very essence of what it is to be a Republican. It cuts Medicare by $473 billion, Medicaid by $1 trillion, and a tax plan that gives massive breaks to the super wealthy and adds up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade. Because you know how much they care about the deficit. Republicans are absolutely shamelessly putting their priorities on full display, and will probably pass this thing by the end of the day Thursday. It's a proposal that, on the whole, would "cause most Americans' incomes to fall more than they would gain from the tax cuts themselves." That’s because the tax cuts are so concentrated on the rich, and the cuts involved would take so much away from low- and middle-income families. Those cuts would hurt the children of those families particularly. Here's what the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities identifies as getting the worst budget hits: To offset the cost of a $1.5 trillion tax cut, Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals, and insurance plans would be automatically cut 4 percent for each of the next ten years, on top of the 2-percent cuts that those payments are already experiencing under the sequestration triggered by the 2011 Budget Control Act. In addition, the automatic cuts would bring the complete elimination of more than 150 mandatory payments for farmers, health insurance, the military retirement trust fund, housing, social services, victims of crime, child nutrition, and many others, all lasting a decade. By the way, this: "The plan breaks with longstanding promises by top Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan that the upcoming tax drive won't add to the nation's $20 trillion debt." Given Ryan's math skills, it's entirely possible that he believes that. But the reality is he doesn't give a damn about the deficit. He's never given a damn about the deficit, nor has any other Republican. Driving up the deficit with this tax cut for the wealthy just gives them more fodder to come back in five years, screaming about the deficit, to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid even more deeply. Or to abolish them altogether. [...]



Chef Jose Andrés' kitchen has served 1 million meals in Puerto Rico, nearly double the Red Cross

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:38:22 +0000

Chef José Andrés landed in Puerto Rico more than three weeks ago and has been working nonstop to feed his fellow U.S. citizens. Initially, chefs Andrés and José Enrique were able to prepare enough nutritious meals to feed around 2,000 people daily—significant, but keep in mind a population of over 3 million is in crisis—but as their “Chefs for Puerto Rico” campaign gained steam, their efforts overshadowed even the Red Cross. Immigrants like chef José Andrés: they get the job done. Nearly a month after Maria, Andrés, World Central Kitchen and volunteers have reached a milestone in their #chefsforpuertorico campaign: As of Tuesday, they’ve prepared and delivered a million meals to residents. As a point of comparison, the American Red Cross has served more than 540,000 meals and snacks (and distributed more than 534,000 relief supplies) in the weeks since hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico, according to a spokeswoman for the organization. ”My question is, if we don’t do it, who’s going to do it?” Andrés said. “Fresh food is hard to come by. Sometimes the only fresh food people are eating is fruit we are bringing. The only hot meal they are eating is the lukewarm meal we are bringing.” Andrés told the Washington Post that he learned lessons while assisting in Hurricane Harvey relief that helped shaped his actions in Puerto Rico, mainly that “you need a facility with a large-capacity kitchen to prepare meals on a massive scale; otherwise you’ll never quiet a city’s hunger pains following a disaster.” With the assistance of Puerto Rico’s governor, Andrés secured the area’s coliseum, where he and up to 500 volunteers prepare more than 60,000 meals daily. Fourteen other “Chefs for Puerto Rico” kitchens throughout the island have helped the effort hit a cumulative 1 million meals. And unlike a certain person, Andrés seems dedicated to staying until Americans there see relief. “When we go to a place, we take care of that place until we feel it has the right conditions to sustain itself,” he continued. “That’s what a relief organization should be.” Help us cover the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico by joining our Facebook group and sharing your story. [...]



'We deserve to have all the information' about what happened in Niger, says McCain

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:25:10 +0000

When the lives of four Americans were lost in the Benghazi attack in 2012, Republicans opened a four-year, $7-million investigation that left no stone unturned to figure out what happened. Now comes the Niger four, where we already have far more questions than answers and a Republican administration that thus far has done next to nothing to clarify our mission in Niger, the circumstances under which four servicemembers died and two more were wounded, and why one soldier in particular—Army Sgt. La David Johnson—was initially unaccounted for for two days.

Even Defense Secretary James Mattis and Sen. John McCain, chair of the Senate’s Armed Forces Committee, don't have the clarity they want.

When asked whether the Trump administration was being up front about the ambush in southwest Niger on Oct. 4, McCain issued a blunt “no” on Wednesday. [...] “We deserve to have all the information."

What is perhaps most troubling so far is new information indicating that following the October 4 ambush in southwest Niger, the U.S. soldiers were extracted by private contractors working for Berry Aviation. TIME-owned digital magazine The Drive writes:

The top American headquarters for military operations on the continent, U.S. Africa Command, has now confirmed that private contractors helped casualties evacuate the area afterwards, but has again declined to elaborate on the U.S.-Nigerien patrol's overall objectives or who is responsible for the attack. [...]

Private contractors working for Berry Aviation in Niger’s capital Niamey “were on alert during the incident and conducted casualty evacuation and transport for U.S. and partner forces,” Robyn Mack, a spokesperson for U.S Africa Command, or AFRICOM, told The War Zone in an Email.

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Trump claimed to have 'proof' he didn't say slain soldier 'knew what he signed up for.' Where is it?

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 16:17:09 +0000

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More than 24 hours after Donald Trump tweeted that Rep. Frederica Wilson “totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof),” we’re still waiting for that proof. No, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that Trump staffers in the room when he made the call agreed that Trump was “completely respectful” doesn’t count, especially when Sanders twice refused to deny that Trump said the words “he knew what he signed up for” about Sgt. La David Johnson.

Trump didn’t just say he had proof Wilson’s account of his call to Myeshia Johnson was fabricated, either. He also said of Wilson “let her make her statement again and you’ll find out,” a threatening response that didn’t intimidate Wilson a bit—she promptly tweeted that “I still stand by my account of the call.”

Well, Donald? To recap: he said he has proof. He said “let her make her statement again and you’ll find out.” He hasn’t offered the proof; in fact, his press secretary specifically refused to say he didn’t say it. Wilson made her statement again. Her office has received threats and Wilson is now receiving protection, but what she hasn’t gotten is any kind of proof from Trump or the White House.

He said it, and he lied about saying it. 

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Trump administration successfully stays court decision granting young immigrant woman an abortion

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 15:49:16 +0000

On Wednesday, the ACLU secured a court order which prevents the Trump administration from blocking a young immigrant woman in custody from obtaining an abortion. The 17-year-old is currently in a shelter for unaccompanied minors in Texas and requested an abortion last month. Though they have the utmost disregard for immigrants, Trump and company seem to think it’s their business what this young woman does with her body and have made it their mission to stop her from exercising a right to making her own decisions regarding reproductive choice. 

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to allow a pregnant, undocumented teenager to obtain an abortion.

The government, the judge [US District Judge Tanya Chutkan] wrote, must "promptly and without delay" allow the 17-year-old to be transported to an abortion provider closest to the shelter where she is being held. The judge wrote that federal officials are "restrained from interfering with or obstructing [the teen's] access to abortion counseling or an abortion." [...]

The judge was incredulous as she questioned the lawyer for the government, at one point saying she was “astounded” at the government’s apparent position that the teen’s only options were to either carry the pregnancy to term or go back to her home country.

Even though a federal judge has ruled that this is absolutely none of the government’s business, they have decided to appeal the decision. Late Wednesday night, lawyers from the Justice Department filed a motion appealing to the US Court of Appeals in DC asking for a delay in the order. Unfortunately, they were successful as the appeals court agreed to temporarily stay the judge’s order, citing “the purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the emergency motion for stay.” A hearing is now scheduled for Friday morning in which the court will hear oral arguments on the case.

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Ed Gillespie once called 'anti-immigration rhetoric' a 'political siren song.' Now he's singing it.

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:01:57 +0000

Republican Ed Gillespie has morphed from classic establishment conservative to openly racist hatemonger, desperately attacking his Democratic opponent in next month’s election for governor with a barrage of campaign ads that vilify Latinos. It’s a grotesque strategy designed to motivate the angriest Trump supporters, and it’s borne out of Ralph Northam’s months-long lead in the polls. It was also opposed by none other than Ed Gillespie himself. Some skillful digging by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski unearthed a 2006 op-ed Gillespie wrote for the Wall Street Journal in which he slammed fellow Republican Jerry Kilgore for having run—guess what?—an ad full of anti-Latino smears and racist dog whistles in the waning days of Virginia’s 2005 campaign for governor. The spot at issue accused Democratic nominee Tim Kaine of favoring “taxpayer-funded job centers” and supporting “in-state tuition discounts for illegals.” Concluded the ad’s narrator: “Taxpayer benefits for illegal immigrants? What part of 'illegal' does Tim Kaine not understand?” According to Gillespie’s own piece, Kilgore’s “last-minute anti-immigration ads ... didn't move his numbers with swing voters and probably cost him important votes in the Hispanic enclaves of Northern Virginia." According to polling in the race, Kilgore had been losing ground to Kaine throughout October. The Republican’s racist Hail Mary failed: Kaine’s polling lead continued to increase, and he won the race with 52 percent of the vote. Gillespie went on to deploy a metaphor that manages to be both pained and apt: “Anti-immigration rhetoric is a political siren song, and Republicans must resist its lure by lashing ourselves to our party's twin masts of freedom and growth—or our majority will crash on the shoals.” Since we’re going all-in on references to Greek mythology, it’s fair to call out Gillespie as his own Cassandra. His own use of racist anti-immigrant rhetoric in political ads has failed to cut into Northam’s lead in polls. Don’t let Gillespie get away with this racist hypocrisy. Donate $3 to help elect Ralph Northam governor of Virginia. [...]



Puerto Rico is still suffering, whatever FEMA and Trump tell you

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 15:12:37 +0000

Almost a month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island is still devastated and struggling with inadequate disaster response from the federal government. Time rounds up the numbers: More than a third of Puerto Rican households, or about 1 million people, still lack running water according to CNN. FEMA says it has distributed 23.6 million liters (6.2 million gallons) of bottled and bulk water in Puerto Rico. That figure includes water for hospitals and dialysis centers These deliveries equate to only 9% of the island's drinking water requirement, going by the World Health Organization's (WHO) assessment that each person needs at least 2.5 liters (2/3 of a gallon) per day. Some residents are so desperate for drinking water they have broken into polluted wells at industrial waste sites. [...] FEMA says 60,000 homes need roofing help. It has delivered 38,000 tarps. According to CNN, FEMA has deployed 1,700 personnel in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were also ravaged by Hurricane Maria. That's 900 less that the 2,600 FEMA personnel reportedly still in Texas and Florida, but the agency told CNN that around 20,000 other federal staff and military have been deployed in response to Maria. A FEMA officer told CNN he doesn’t need reinforcements because too much food and water aid might stop people from shopping at local stores—not that local stores are necessarily stocked with food and water. Armando Valdés Prieto, a former director of Puerto Rico’s Office of Management and Budget writes about the government response, reporting that: Last week, I interviewed the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority president on San Juan radio station NotiUno. He informed me that of 150 backup generators he had requested from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the day of the storm to keep potable water flowing into homes, only 17 had been installed in the 20 days that followed. So never mind Trump’s statement on Monday that “Puerto Rico now has more generators, I believe, than any place in the world. There are generators all over the place.” [...]



In Virginia, coal dust from shipping has devastating impact on low-income community but no one cares

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:15:27 +0000

In recent years, there has been a lot of conversation about the coal industry. More specifically, how to bring jobs back in a dying industry. Donald Trump has spent the last two years telling folks that he would be a champion of coal and bring tens of thousands of mining jobs back to the US. This hasn’t happened yet (just like everything else he’s promised) but it keeps coal in the conversation about jobs and the economy.  What isn’t widely being talked about is how coal shipping impacts communities. For residents of the towns that coal is transported through, there are dangerous consequences to their health and well-being. But rail and coal companies don’t care and they are hoping we don’t find out. According to Mother Jones, Norfolk Southern ships coal across the state of Virginia, spanning across 2,000 miles. The coal’s destination is Lambert Point, a predominately black and low-income area in Norfolk. In one year, Lambert Point can see up to 48 million tons of coal.  The company boasts that it has created 44 jobs in the state in 2016 and has donated $22 million to various charities over the last five years. But for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, these contributions are less important than the coal dust that comes off the rail cars and has coated their community for as long as anyone can remember. [...] When coal is being transported, hazardous particles of dust routinely fly off the rail cars into the surrounding communities. The Sierra Club reports that those who are exposed are vulnerable to increased rates of childhood bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, emphysema, heart disease, and reduced lung capacity. They also note that coal cars release 90,000 pounds of coal dust into nearby Virginia towns and cities every year. For decades residents of Lambert Point simply thought nothing of the coal dust. They assumed it was normal and had no idea that it was essentially poisoning them. Though the company was first founded in 1885 it did not receive any kind of regulation until 1992. That means that nearly 100 years went by before anyone cared that coal might be effecting the residents of the town. Even so, it’s clear that big business and profit are valued more than poor, black folk so no one seemed to bat an eye. In fact, the company itself did its own reporting and claimed that coal dust was not harmful to anyone’s respiratory health. [...]



Republicans to kick off their desperate push to cut taxes for the wealthy

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 13:19:26 +0000

Republicans are desperate to prove they can get something done in 2017, having repeatedly failed to repeal Obamacare. And Republicans are always desperate to give tax cuts to the wealthy. So that’s the plan: pass a budget resolution that allows them to use reconciliation to pass tax cuts with 51 votes.

"We feel good about where we are," Republican Senator John Thune, a member of the Senate leadership, said. "The level of resolve is pretty high."

After failing to approve Trump-backed legislation to overturn Obamacare, Senate Republicans are under intense pressure to succeed on tax reform, beginning with the budget measure, which would allow tax legislation to add up to $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade to pay for tax cuts.

They’re working hard to brand this package of tax cuts for the wealthy as “tax reform,” but you don’t have to be a genius to know what we’re talking about here:

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And as Trump’s treasury secretary previewed the plan, “it’s very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy.”

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Cartoon: The leaked NFL memo to players on acceptable stances during the national anthem

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 13:51:30 +0000

FOLLOW @RubenBolling on the Twitters and a Face Book.

JOIN Tom the Dancing Bug's subscription club, the Proud & Mighty INNER HIVE, for exclusive early access to comics, extra comics, and much more. You can also now join through Patreon!

GET Ruben Bolling’s new hit book series for kids, The EMU Club Adventures. (”Filled with wild twists and funny dialogue” -Publishers Weekly)  Book One here.  Book Two here.

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Breitbart, Palin spread fake news story blaming California fires on an immigrant man

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 21:55:02 +0000

A collection of right-wing websites teamed up with half-term nitwit Sarah Palin to spread a fake news story that appeared to pin the Northern California wildfires that have tragically killed at least 40 people onto an immigrant man who was arrested at a park in Sonoma, California. Jesus Fabian Gonzales—who “often sleeps in the park and is well-known to law enforcement”—was arrested Sunday after starting a small fire that he says he lit to stay warm, and one that “was so small a responding sheriff’s deputy was able to mostly put it out before firefighters arrived.” Gonzales was taken into custody without incident for one count of arson, but by Tuesday, Breitbart, InfoWars, and other sites were blaring sensationalist headlines, including one that stated that the “homeless arsonist behind Calif. wildfire that killed 40 people is an illegal alien”: Breitbart News and InfoWars offered no evidence to link the man’s arrest to the fires and their accounts of the man’s arrest were disputed the same day by Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano. “There’s a story out there he’s the arsonist for these fires. That is not the case. There is no indication he is related to these fires at all,” Giordano said in a news conference also broadcast on the department’s Facebook page and area TV stations. “I just did want to kill that speculation right now so we didn’t have things running too far out of control.” Speculation from, say, Palin, who tweeted that “bet you not a single mainstream news organization is going to cover this story. Not PC or something.” No, it’s just fake, dumbass. In fact, USA Today notes that Sonoma County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said that “the only questions Breitbart News and InfoWars asked were about Gonzales's ethnicity and whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement had placed a detainer on him, which would hold him for an additional 48 hours at the jail.” It’s almost like they have an agenda here! And one of the fake news websites that ran with the story also appeared to think California was being hit by one giant fire, rather than the at least one dozen major fires that firefighters are courageously battling, and some hours away from where Gonzales was arrested. But when your goal is to blame immigrants for just about anything, who cares about the facts? [...]



Trump tries to change the subject from 'he knew what he signed up for' to uranium

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:53:18 +0000

Campaign Action Everything old is new again when you’re desperate enough. Donald Trump is struggling to get past the bad look of—once again—feuding with a Gold star family, this time having told the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson that “he knew what he signed up for.” Trump also seemed not to know Johnson’s name when he spoke to his family or Johnson’s wife Myeshia’s name when later insisting that he didn’t say “he knew what he signed up for.” Facing that firestorm, Trump returned to a favorite tactic: trying to change the subject. xUranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn't want to follow!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2017 Yes, it’s a recycled story from early 2015 that was too weak for its author to successfully defend on Fox News but which The Hill has semi-revived with a story having absolutely zero to do with Hillary Clinton and which Fox News was, of course, talking about this morning. What we’ve known all along is that the big scandalous uranium deal that Trump is desperate to keep talking about was signed off on by nine U.S. agencies and the Canadian government, and that while the State Department was one of the nine U.S. agencies, Clinton wasn’t personally involved in the decision.  Trump is trying to change the subject from his callous disrespect to the family of Sgt. La David Johnson. He’s only too happy to try to change the subject to one of his pet conspiracy theories, one that he’s repeatedly used to try to minimize evidence of his campaign’s collusion with Russian election meddling by linking Clinton and Russia. It’s been a desperate move all along, but his base will eat it up. Again. So remember: this story has been debunked repeatedly. This story was debunked before the New York Times and Washington Post even wrote it up in 2015. And now, it’s a naked attempt to distract from what Trump said to Myeshia Johnson. [...]



Morning Digest: Indictment of South Carolina GOP kingpin could spell trouble for Gov. Henry McMaster

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:01:55 +0000

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar. Leading Off ● SC-Gov: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster's primary foes are hoping that his decades-long ties to powerful GOP political consultant Richard Quinn will give them an opening in next year's primary, and they just may be in luck. Quinn, his son, and three other politicians were indicted on Wednesday as part of a long-running state corruption investigation. Campaign Action Quinn was charged with criminal conspiracy and illegal lobbying, with the indictment declaring that Quinn "did attempt to influence the action or vote of members of the S.C. General Assembly by direct communication on behalf of entities which employed, retained or appointed defendant's businesses and defendant did not register as a lobbyist…" Quinn has been one of the most powerful people in South Carolina politics for decades. As The State's John Monk writes, "Quinn's reputation as a power broker with access to and sway with anyone in South Carolina who counted was legendary. His political domain was even given a nickname worthy of an empire: 'The Quinndom.'" And the ranks of the Quinndom's bannermen include some very notable Republicans besides McMaster, who was promoted from lieutenant governor to governor after Gov. Nikki Haley resigned in January to join the Trump administration. Sen. Lindsey Graham; Rep. Joe "You Lie!" Wilson; and Attorney General Alan Wilson, who is also the congressman's son, are also members of this club. Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, a Democrat, has also hired Quinn. One Republican who did not work with Quinn was Haley, who tweeted in March that she "experienced the wrath" of Quinn's firm Richard Quinn & Associates. There's no sign that McMaster himself has anything to do with Quinn's alleged wrongdoing, but McMaster may have a very tough time distancing himself from this story anyway. McMaster had been a Quinn client from his unsuccessful 1986 Senate campaign until this year. And we've mentioned before, Quinn helped save McMaster's re-election campaign for state party chair back in 2000. The party was in bad financial shape, but just before the vote, RQ&A and another firm contributed a total of $85,000 to the GOP's coffers. The party then released letters showing it had plenty of money in the bank, and McMaster won another term. But just days before the vote, the money was all wired back in secret—information that didn't come out until long after the election. McMaster's ties to Quinn continued through the next decade. In March of this year, just after he became governor, McMaster declared that he'd keep working with RQ&[...]



Cheers and Jeers: Thursday

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:15:44 +0000

Hispanic Federation Fund for Puerto Rico Relief Link

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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE

Just a Quick Reminder 

Since Trump has slashed the budget for promoting the ACA’s federal exchange enrollment period, it’s up to us freedom fighter guerrilla blogger liberators to pass the word through, among other things, our resistance tunnels and short-wave crystal radios and courier squirrels. My 2017 Shirtless Rex Tillerson fan calendar says we’re rapidly approaching the start date. So pass the word as best you can. I’ll start:

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Oh, and Facebook? I read a suggestion somewhere that, to make up in a teensy way for letting your site become Russia Propaganda Central during the election, you could run a major, free, platform-wide campaign promoting the ACA enrollment dates. I like that idea. You should do it.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold…

Update: In our poll we inadvertently misidentified Roy Moore’s challenger. He is, of course, Doug Jones. I blame my parents for the error. They told me not to grow up to be an idiot, knowing full well I’d rebel and do the opposite.

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Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:01:55 +0000

Well, despite all the evidence, I somehow keep finding myself amazed that Donald Trump finds things to do that are dumber and more offensive than whatever the last dumb and offensive thing was. It must be a matter of some ingrained part of human nature, I guess. But at this point, I’m ready to find out that he made a pee tape in Arlington Cemetery. At least it’s Friday. Again. Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET! Podcasts! They’re hip! They’re hot! Everyone’s got one! But Daily Kos has had one since slightly after that point at which you would have been able to say that we had one before it was cool. Only we do ours over a live stream, every weekday morning from 9-11 ET. So the news is as fresh as the morning dew! Delivered and interpreted for you by David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando. We think you’ll like it so much, you’ll even help support its continued production, with monthly donations via Patreon, or one-time contributions via Square Cash. Not ready to face the world that early? Unsure whether you’re ready to donate your hard-earned cash? We’ve also got these handy-dandy record-o-matical things, like the one below, featuring our most recent LIVE show! At Daily Kos, it’s always free to try before you buy! (I think! Usually, anyway!) x YouTube Video YouTube | iTunes | LibSyn | Keep us on the air! Donate via Patreon or Square Cash KITM World Headquarters renovations continue, but with ninja-like stealth, so as not to interrupt David Waldman, Greg Dworkin and Joan McCarter’s broadcast of the latest crazy. Which is good, because the crazy’s coming at us fast and hard today—you couldn’t make these stories up! Donald Trump’s hurricane approval rate has dropped. Hurricanes don’t vote, but if Democrats do, 2018 will be a good year. As midterms approach, the Gop’s own words are the Democrats’ best weapon. As they cling to tax cuts, do Republicans know what they signed up for? Trump is poison. He’s a deranged animal that will turn on you in a second. He didn’t call soldier families until he was forced, then he didn’t bother to find out their names. Trump is a heel that wants you to believe everyone else is. Donald Trump negotiates like a hostage-taker. Fox writes his scripts though. Things were nearly normal for a few hours on Tuesday, but someone reminded Donald of his role, and he got back into character. Obamacare is not dead, but now it’s becoming Trumpcare. Normal is neck-and-neck with crazy in Alabama. Maybe pro-wrestling, NASCAR, football, and basketball were getting pretty boring, but thank God for Women’s Tennis. A second federal judge is blocking Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0. The Army bans green card holders from enlisting, probably breaking federal l[...]



Abbreviated pundit roundup: A disgraceful presidency

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 11:32:37 +0000

We begin today’s roundup with Aaron Blake’s analysis at The Washington Post on another week of chaos and controversy at the White House: On two issues — health care and calling the families of dead service members — the White House has shown itself to be clearly unmoored, careening back and forth based upon the unhelpful and impulsive comments and tweets of its captain. On the more substantial issue of health care, Trump apparently told Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to craft a deal to replace the Affordable Care Act subsidies for insurers covering low-income Americans. Trump then canceled the subsidies and explained that the money was only making insurers rich (it's not). Then he suggested he would support Alexander's deal. Then he apparently realized that those two things were completely inconsistent, and he backed off his support for the deal, leaving Alexander holding the bag and apparently (understandably) puzzled. [...] If you think any of these things were planned, you are kidding yourself. [...] There is no game plan on any of this; it's Trump simply floating from one controversy to the next and making things worse by flying off the handle and saying untrue things. Trump's controversies are usually at least within the realm of plausible deniability; these examples just seem totally careless and haphazard. Here’s Paul Waldman’s take at The Week: No one suggests that Trump set out to horrify Sgt. Johnson's widow; the problem is that he is a man completely devoid of empathy, so it's hard for him to find comforting words. [...] So here we are, with Trump getting very close to initiating a squabble with the family of a dead American soldier. Can you imagine any other president doing this? [...]