Paternalism News

  •    (2073-12-24)
  • Impeachment news: Republicans continue to obstruct Congress but Giuliani has a bad day anyway    (Laura Clawson, 2019-10-16)
    A couple of weeks into the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to help him take down his political opponents, the patterns are familiar. House Democrats issue subpoenas, Trump’s administration and his allies refuse to honor them. House Democrats continue interviewing witnesses, often over the fierce opposition of the Trump administration. And every day we learn more sordid details about just what Trump was up to. ● Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer (of a sort) and Ukraine pressure agent, defied a congressional subpoena on Tuesday, and on Wednesday House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for some reason ruled out using the power of inherent contempt to force Giuliani to comply or face actual consequences. That was the good news for Giuliani on Wednesday. The bad news was that yet another of his associates was arrested, and news broke that Giuliani himself is the subject of a counterintelligence investigation into his Ukraine dealings. ● The Department of Defense used official White House talking points to refuse to comply with a subpoena. So we’ve got the military digging in its heels against civilian oversight, which is … scary. Also digging in his heels, predictably, is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who suddenly doesn't believe in congressional authority but really, really cares about norms. Which is to say, McConnell continues to be among the most cold-blooded and dishonest people in the Republican Party, and an unapologetic partisan who’ll go to the mat for Trump despite their extreme differences of personal style and even political priorities. ● Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, made a surprise appearance on Capitol Hill, alongside former State Department adviser Michael McKinley—they being former administration officials whom the White House hasn’t managed to block from testifying. Gordon Sondland, the current ambassador to the European Union, is expected to testify on Thursday, as details leak out about just how recklessly he has behaved in pursuit of Trump’s desire for Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 elections. Sondland’s role there is part of a larger pattern in which experienced diplomats were pushed aside to hand U.S. policy in Ukraine over to people whose expertise was not in diplomacy or the politics of the region but rather in, yes, making Donald Trump happy. And that very much includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who’s basically destroying the State Department from within. That’s a lot of corruption and party-above-country for one day … and this was a comparatively slow day in impeachment news.
  • ICE confirms another person has died on its watch, the second death this month    (Gabe Ortiz, 2019-10-16)
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on Wednesday confirmed the Tuesday death of Roylan Hernandez-Diaz, a 43-year-old Cuban man, while in their custody at the Richwood Correctional Center in Louisiana. ”The preliminary cause of death appears to be self-inflicted strangulation; however, the case is currently under investigation.” This is the second person to die while in ICE custody since the start of the month, when Nebane Abienwi, a 37-year-old man from Cameroon, suffered a brain hemorrhage and died after being detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in California.  ICE’s press release announcing Hernandez-Diaz’s death used language saying he "passed away”—they do this constantly, as if that'll somehow smooth over the oftentimes brutal and miserable ways other people in their custody have died. This language was used for Abienwi too. There’s still no other information about Hernandez-Diaz’s death, other than what ICE has released. We’ll continue to update when there’s more information. Their names were Roylan Hernandez-Diaz, and Nebane Abienwi.
  • Pelosi: 'What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown'    (Joan McCarter, 2019-10-16)
    Following the overwhelming House vote to rebuke Donald Trump on the withdrawal of troops from Syria, congressional leaders were greeted by a Trump in “a meltdown,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. After saying he hadn’t invited them to the White House (it was on his public schedule for the day), Trump lashed out.  Pelosi said Trump was “very shaken up” by the vote, and “couldn’t handle it” when she told him the number of Republican defections (129). She said Trump called her a “third grade politician,” and soon after she and her fellow Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Steny Hoyer left the meeting. Afterward, Pelosi told reporters “Right now we have to pray for his health because this was a very serious melt down.” All this happened before they even had time to get to the impeachment inquiry.  xBREAKING: After walking out of a meeting with Trump on Syria, Democrats say the president called Speaker Pelosi a "third-rate politician." Pelosi also said, "What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown."Learn more: https://t.co/WQuYjLw8zg#11MSNBC #11thHour pic.twitter.com/xhMKwiGST1— 11th Hour (@11thHour) October 16, 2019
  • Fresh data paints Warren, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar as having the best debate night    (Kerry Eleveld, 2019-10-16)
    Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren got anointed by her fellow Democratic opponents at Tuesday's debate as a front-runner worthy of toppling. But initial polling conducted by FiveThirtyEight.com and Ipsos suggests that viewers believe she held her own under tough circumstances. The survey tested debate watchers' perceptions of the candidates' favorabilities before the debate in contrast to how they viewed the performances of those candidates after the debate. Warren went in with the highest favorability rating at 71.9 percent and was also rated as delivering the best performance at 3.2 on a 4-point scale. Vice President Joe Biden had the second highest favorability going in at 68.2 percent but delivered the 4th best performance at 3.0. Both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg both got higher debate marks than Biden at 3.1, according to the panel.
  • This letter Trump sent to the president of Turkey is so embarrassing, some suspect it is a parody    (Jen Hayden, 2019-10-16)
    Trish Regan of Fox News has obtained a copy of the letter Donald Trump sent to President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and it is so bad, so incompetent, so embarrassing that people are wondering if it is real. Unfortunately, it is. Here is the content of the letter: Dear Mr. President: Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy—and I will. I’ve already given you a little sample with respect to Pastor Brunson. I have worked hard to resolve some of your problems. Don’t let the world down. You can make a great deal. General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they never would have made in the past. I am confidentially enclosing his letter to me, just received. History will look upon you favorably if you get this the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later. That is a real letter, and we are in real danger with this man in charge of national and global security. On the very day that letter was sent, Turkish and Syrian rebels went on the attack. It is truly a wonder there haven’t been more whistleblowers from the Intelligence community who are witnessing Donald Trump’s incompetence and unsteady leadership up close and personal. The sooner this man is out of the White House, the better off the entire world will be—with the exception of Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Erdogan.
  • Former senior adviser testifies to how Pompeo damaged State Department to score political points    (Mark Sumner, 2019-10-16)
    If the hearings on the Russia investigation seemed to be going in slow motion, with witnesses grudgingly appearing over a period of months and information being released at the rate of a drippy faucet, the impeachment inquiry is a comparative fire hose. Witnesses are now appearing before the inquiry on an almost daily basis, and subpoenas for other witnesses and documents are going out at an ever-increasing clip. On Wednesday, the main witness was Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to the secretary of state. McKinley resigned from the State Department just last week after reportedly being upset over Mike Pompeo’s failure to support former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. But the fact that Yovanovitch was removed in May and McKinley didn’t depart until the impeachment inquiry was underway in October suggests that there is more to it than just a grudge that simmered over months. Much of the testimony that has come so far—from Yovanovitch, as well as from State Department Ukraine expert George Kent—has spoken to how experienced diplomats and foreign service officers were cut out of decisions and denied information regarding Ukraine after Rudy Giuliani ramped up his propaganda campaign in May. At that point, both Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acted to sideline experts and prop up those willing to go along with the conspiracy theories behind the Ukraine scam. McKinley was expected to speak to the same topic, telling House members about his concern over how the State Department—already hollowed out under Rex Tillerson—was being deliberately misused for political reasons. McKinley can also be expected to have had something to say about how Pompeo managed the State Department in general. As The Washington Post reports, McKinley frequently traveled with Pompeo and advised him “on a broad array of issues,” as well as using his long-standing connections inside and outside of the department to help Pompeo establish himself at State. But when McKinley announced that he was leaving, Pompeo did not even bother to issue a memo noting the diplomat’s departure, even though McKinley was one of the department’s most senior members, with 37 years of experience.
  • UAW and GM reach a tentative deal to end monthlong strike    (Laura Clawson, 2019-10-16)
    The monthlong strike by nearly 50,000 workers against General Motors may soon come to an end after GM and the UAW, the workers’ union, reached a tentative deal.  Under the deal, workers will reportedly get $1,000 in profit sharing for every $1 billion in profit the company makes, with no cap, as well as a contract ratification bonus of more than $8,000. The workers’ share of their health coverage costs will remain low, an important point in a physically grueling industry. But the biggest things the workers were fighting for were good jobs beyond longtime union members. They wanted temp workers to have a path to permanent employment, permanent workers on a lower-tier pay scale to be moved up, and investment in jobs in the U.S. Details remain unclear, but the workers appear to have won some substantial improvements on these fronts. The deal must be ratified by the striking workers, who will get a vote after it is first reviewed by the UAW’s National Council on Thursday morning.
  • Gordon Sondland was identified as a risk to national security, but nothing was done about it    (Mark Sumner, 2019-10-16)
    U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is expected to testify before the House impeachment inquiry on Thursday. Sondland has already been revealed as one of the “three amigos” put in position to direct the Ukraine scam. He’s had a starring role in the text messages showing how Ukrainian officials were being steered into announcing an investigation into Joe Biden. And his claims to ignorance about what was happening have already been blown by other testimony. So it’s not surprising that the professionals in the State Department and the White House saw Sondland not just as a know-nothing dilettante, but as a threat to national interest. The New York Times is reporting as part of her testimony before the impeachment committees, former White House foreign policy adviser Fiona Hill did not go all the way to accusing Sondland of “acting maliciously or intentionally putting the country at risk.” However, that doesn’t mean that she didn’t think Sondland did not put the country at risk. Because she definitely did. Sondland’s clueless—and lawless—bumbling through “diplomacy” not only created the possibility to directly damage U.S. foreign relations, but also raised direct issues of security. As seen in the series of texts exchanged with Special Envoy Kurt Volker and Charge d’Affairs William Taylor, Sondland wasn’t exactly subtle in discussing his attempts to manipulate Ukrainian leadership, and he often did so using a personal cellphone.  Everything Sondland was doing generated enough alarm that Hill raised concerns with other officials inside the White House. And reports say that she wasn’t the only one. Others shocked by what they were seeing from Sondland included former NSA and long-time favorite of conservative Republicans John Bolton. But these reports didn’t result in Sondland or the other “amigos” being reigned in. Instead, it was Hill, Bolton, and others who expressed their concerns who took a hit—including being sidelined from discussions, cut off from their topics of expertise, and ultimately forced from their positions. And the result of that was that Sondland and those who had no concerns other than getting Trump what he wanted, were given clear field to run roughshod over policy, relationships, and the truth. For that, Trump bears by far the bulk of the blame, but a share also has to go to those like Mick Mulvaney and Mike Pompeo who took an active role in both putting Trump’s goons in positions to destroy American foreign policy, but punished the professionals who had the temerity to actually point out the potential damage to the nation.
  • Highlights: Experts discuss the domestic drivers and strategic implications of an increasingly global China    (Scarlett Ho, 2019-10-16)
    “The unfolding long-term strategic competition with China is the defining challenge of our generation,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver at a Brookings event on October 1 as part of a broader initiative titled “Global China: Assessing China’s Growing Role in the World.” In his keynote address, Assistant Secretary Schriver…        
  • For better student outcomes, hire more Black teachers    (Andre M. Perry, 2019-10-16)
    There are 60,000 fewer public education jobs than there were before the recession began in 2007, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). States and districts haven’t moved on from the austerity measures imposed by most states more than a decade ago when the recession hit. “If we include the number of jobs…        
  • House, including 129 Republicans, rebukes Trump over Syria withdrawal    (Joan McCarter, 2019-10-16)
    The House of Representatives sent a strong rebuke to Donald Trump Wednesday, voting 354-60 to adopt a joint resolution opposing his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and calling on Turkish President Erdoğan to immediately cease unilateral military action in Northern Syria. The resolution needed a two-thirds majority—290 votes—to pass. The resolution specifically, "(1) opposes the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria; (2) calls on Turkish President Erdoğan to immediately cease unilateral military action in North east Syria and to respect existing agreements relating to Syria; 3) calls on the United States to continue supporting Syrian Kurdish communities through humanitarian support, including to those displaced or otherwise affected by ongoing violence in Syria; (4) calls on the United States to work to ensure that the Turkish military acts with restraint and respects existing agreements relating to Syria; and (5) calls on the White House to present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS." It's a nonbinding resolution, but the 129 Republican votes voting to not just condemn Turkey but take Trump to task is not insignificant, and will put more pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the resolution to the Senate floor. But it is definitely a rebuke of Trump, one that Mitch and team might not want to touch.
  • FBI counterintelligence agents were looking at Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine dealings, reports say    (Laura Clawson, 2019-10-16)
    Rudy Giuliani’s associates keep being arrested in airports and now we learn that Giuliani himself has been the subject of a counterintelligence investigation while he was aggressively representing Donald Trump in conversations with government officials in Ukraine. Kenneth McCallion, a New York attorney with clients in Ukraine, told reporters that FBI counterintelligence agents had asked him questions about Giuliani’s ties to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two of the men who’ve been arrested recently in airports and indicted on campaign finance charges relating to foreign influence on elections. CNN reports that “The counterintelligence probe hinges in part on whether a foreign influence operation was trying to take advantage of Giuliani's business ties in Ukraine and with wealthy foreigners to make inroads with the White House, according to one person briefed on the matter.” The counterintelligence investigation into Giuliani is being carried out by the Southern District of New York.
  • Dad of Sandy Hook victim awarded $450K in conspiracy theory defamation case    (Marissa Higgins, 2019-10-16)
    James Fetzer, a conspiracy theorist who co-authored a book titled Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, who alleged, among other horrors, that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting never happened, has been ordered to pay $450,000 to Lenny Pozner. Pozner is the father of one of the boys, Noah, who was shot and killed in the massacre. Noah was six-years-old and one of 26 victims at the school shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.  Pozner filed a defamation lawsuit against Fetzer in November 2018. On Tuesday, a jury finally decided on the amount that Fetzer must pay Pozner. The Dane County judge previously ruled that Fetzer defamed Pozner in the book. One example of this defamation? The allegation that Pozner fabricated copies of his son’s death certificate. The overall take of the conspiracy theory turned book was that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax. The point of the hoax, as explained by the authors? Promoting gun control. The authors also blame Obama. Pozner also filed a defamation lawsuit against Mike Palecek, the book’s other author, as well, however, the case was dismissed. Pozner and Palecek reportedly reached a settlement out of court last month. Those terms have not yet been disclosed. Has Fetzer learned anything? Apparently not. In a statement to ABC News, he described the children killed in the massacre as “alleged ‘victims’” and again pushed the idea that their death certificates were fake. "Mr. Fetzer has the right to believe that Sandy Hook never happened," Pozner said as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal. "He has the right to express his ignorance. This award, however, further illustrates the difference between the right of people like Mr. Fetzer to be wrong and the right of victims like myself and my child to be free from defamation, free from harassment and free from the intentional infliction of terror."
  • Hundreds of asylum officers ask court to block Trump policy, saying it 'defies our asylum laws'    (Gabe Ortiz, 2019-10-16)
    U.S. asylum officers have already condemned the Trump administration’s inhumane attacks on asylum-seekers and their families, with one officer saying that her colleagues have called Asylum Ban 2.0 “racist and illegal.” Now officers are now going further, BuzzFeed News reports, by taking their condemnations to a federal appeals court. Hundreds of asylum and refugee officers have filed a legal brief calling on the court to block the Trump administration’s ban, saying in the brief that “they took a solemn oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” but are now being asked by the U.S. government to “carry out a policy that defies our nation’s asylum laws and that rips at the moral fabric of our country." Trump’s inhumane ban essentially blocks asylum at the southern border not just for thousands of Central Americans, but also for “Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Chinese, and others who may be religious / ethnic minorities being persecuted, since many of them have increasingly come to the border through Mexico,” said immigration reporter Tanvi Misra. While a federal judge last month blocked this policy, the Supreme Court lifted that hold while the case continues. That decision, the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota said at the time, “will be a death sentence for many of the vulnerable asylum seekers now seeking safety,” pushing them to try to enter the U.S. through more dangerous routes. “Many will die or disappear in the process,” said La Unión del Pueblo Entero. We know this because anti-asylum policies are already killing. “The Third Country Transit Bar is the most inhumane and counterproductive measure yet,” National CIS Council 119, the union which filed the brief and represents thousands of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services workers, said. “It is designed to slam the asylum door shut on virtually all refugees—including unaccompanied minors—entering the United States through our nation’s southern border.” 
  • Moscow Mitch, the great institutionalist, lies about Congress' impeachment powers    (Joan McCarter, 2019-10-16)
    Moscow Mitch McConnell is sticking like glue to Donald Trump when it comes to impeachment, falling back on the last resort of Republican rogues on the issue: process. They can't defend Trump on any of the particulars, not as the whistles blare on Capitol Hill and details of his Ukraine scheme come pouring out. So McConnell, like all the rest of them, has resorted to declaring it, in essence, a witch hunt. "House Democrats are finally indulging in their impeachment obsession. Full steam ahead," he said on the floor Tuesday. "I don't think many of us were expecting to witness a clinic in terms of fairness or due process. But even by their own partisan standards, House Democrats have already found new ways to lower the bar." As McConnell knows extremely well, the House has the sole power to determine how an impeachment process will be conducted. As he knows, the investigation process in the House is like a grand jury process. Evidence and witness testimony are presented, and the panel—in this case House committee members—determines if a high crime or misdemeanor has been committed. That can be done in closed hearings or in open hearings, as the House deems necessary, just as the Constitution prescribes. McConnell, though, is pretending that the Constitution doesn't provide these powers to his own branch of government. He says the House has "wasted no time throwing fairness and precedent to the wind." Because precedent matters so much to the guy who made up the new rule that a Republican Senate doesn't have to follow the Constitution when it comes to confirming Democratic presidents' Supreme Court nominees. "For all the public hyperventilating over institutional norms that we've heard from House Democrats," he said, "it appears they have no intention of letting norms, precedents or basic due process stand in the way as they seek to cancel out a presidency." Yes. Him. McConnell. He said that. You know what to do. Give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as majority leader.
  • Dear Democrats: Fine Giuliani for ignoring a subpoena, jail him, but don't just let him skate    (Kerry Eleveld, 2019-10-16)
    When Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani decided to flat-out ignore a Tuesday deadline for a congressional subpoena related to House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, he did so with dismissive bravado. "If they enforce it, then we will see what happens," Giuliani said of the congressional subpoena, shrugging it off. Now Democrats are reportedly "torn" over enforcing the subpoena that Giuliani just swatted away like a pesky fly. Some in leadership believe Giuliani's refusal to comply only strengthens their obstruction case, and they would rather leave well enough alone since other witnesses are abiding by Democrats' subpoenas. One House Democratic aide argued that House investigators "already have the Watergate tapes," so leadership is likely to just let Giuliani slide. But it's a matter of principle—just letting people slide now is absolutely setting a future precedent for anyone to simply ignore congressional subpoenas. “You don’t get to say no to a congressional subpoena,” Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Daily Beast. “That’s not a thing. That is a crime. He’s gonna show up, or he’s going to get fined, or he’s going to go to jail.” Exactly. Ignoring a subpoena isn't a thing unless Democrats allow it to be one.
  • 18 national leaders were arrested while protesting Trump admin's decimation of refugee program    (Gabe Ortiz, 2019-10-16)
    Seventeen human rights and faith leaders, as well as former top State Department official Anne Richard, were arrested on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, while taking part in an act of civil disobedience protesting the Trump administration’s devastating reduction of refugee admissions. The 18 leaders, organizers said, represented the historically low number of 18,000 refugees who will be allowed into the U.S. in the next fiscal year. “Those arrested were joined by supporters holding 95 photographs of refugees, a nod to the historic average refugee cap of 95,000 per year,” Church World Service said. “The arrests came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ... meets with Members of Congress to consult over the historically low cap.” On the watch of others such as White House aide and white supremacist Stephen Miller, the administration has steadily taken a sledgehammer to our nation’s refugee program. Last month, the administration announced that the next fiscal year’s admissions would be slashed from nearly 30,000 to just 18,000, “the lowest in the history of the resettlement program,” CWS noted. One initial report had even indicated that one Miller-allied official may have pressed for zero admissions. This cruelty comes as human rights activists note that 37,000 people around the world are displaced every single day. Our nation, the activists said, has abdicated its historic role as a place of refuge. “As a Palestinian American who was born and raised in a refugee camp,” said Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, “I can say with absolute certainty that drastically cutting the U.S. refugee resettlement program by 80 percent will directly impact those seeking shelter inside our nation, diminishing their safety and our nation’s standing.”
  • Daily Kos Democratic presidential primary straw poll: Post-third debate edition    (kos, 2019-10-16)
    Who wants another debate with another 50 candidates on stage? Well, that’s a question for a different day. Today, we’re going to check in on the state of the Democratic primary. The poll will close at 5 PM PT/8 PM ET. Only candidates who have made the DNC debate cut are included. Vote!
  • Department of Defense refuses to obey congressional subpoena despite impeachment inquiry    (Mark Sumner, 2019-10-16)
    On Tuesday, the Department of Defense officially refused to provide documents requested by a congressional subpoena as part of the impeachment inquiry—and the excuse it used was lifted directly from the talking points of the Trump-authored “legal letter” from the White House. The letter from Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Hood says that the DOD will make sure to keep all the requested documents, but can’t turn them over because of “a number of legal and practical concerns.” At the top of that list is a statement that, even though the letter was sent by the chairmen of the committees in the impeachment inquiry, “the House has not authorized your committee to make such an inquiry” and “none of your committees has identified any House rule or resolution authorizing you to conduct such an inquiry.” In other words, Hood is upholding the idea that only a vote of the full House can authorize an inquiry—a position that has no basis in either the law or past practice. This might seem like a shocking position for the Defense Department to take, but Hood isn’t some military official who came up through the ranks. He’s a Trump appointee who landed in the DOD role straight from being a vice president at a defense contractor. Before that, he was a lawyer in the George W. Bush White House, after getting his start as an assistant to Newt Gingrich. Robert Hood is as deeply partisan as possible, and now he’s an attorney holding up an impeachment inquiry on the basis of a “legal opinion” that’s nothing more than a fantasy of Donald Trump’s. But don’t get the impression that satisfying Trump’s nonsense request for a full House vote would get Hood to turn over the subpoenaed documents. Because Trump’s man in the DOD legal office goes on to say that most of what the committee has asked for would be “confidential Executive Branch communications,” once again invoking executive privilege … without a claim of executive privilege. Finally, to make everything perfectly clear, Hood states that “the Department” objects to the idea that failure to comply with the subpoena constitutes obstruction of Congress, saying that the DOD has the right to object to any subpoena. So that’s no, and also no, and, finally, hell no.
  • The U.S. should double down on support for Lebanon    (By David Ignatius, 2019-10-16)
    Beirut feels it’s the next to be discarded by the United States.
  • Why Fox News is getting trounced in the public opinion battle over Trump impeachment    (Eric Boehlert, 2019-10-16)
    Shepard Smith's recent, abrupt resignation isn’t the only crisis Fox News is facing these days. Aside from allegations that conservatives simply will not tolerate any dissenting voices amid a chorus that worships Donald Trump, the right-wing cable news outlet is struggling as it tries to fight the public opinion battle over impeachment. The unfolding inquiry in the House is by definition a political fight, not a legal one, which means the messaging wars surrounding it are paramount as both sides try to rally public support. To date, Democrats are clearly winning that battle, as polling consistently shows widening support for impeachment.   "This is war," Laura Ingraham recently declared on her prime-time program, as the impeachment battled heated up. But it's a public opinion war that Fox News is losing, and badly. It's often been suggested that if President Richard Nixon had a Fox News-type of propaganda outlet during the Watergate scandal, that he could have survived. And the assumption has been that that's the role Fox News would play for Trump during a true crisis. But it's less than a month into the impeachment saga, and I'm not sure Fox News is going to save Trump in the end. Because not even a cable television channel can save a president if he's basically been overseeing a criminal enterprise run out of the Oval Office. (I don't think Senate Republicans would vote to convict Trump after an impeachment trial, but I do think the drawn-out impeachment saga could effectively end Trump's presidency.) The short answer is Trump has handed Fox News a losing hand to play. It’s a profoundly bad hand that’s making it difficult for the propaganda channel, as well as the right-wing echo chamber, to coalesce around a semi-coherent defense. Ten months ago I wrote a piece suggesting that in the end, Fox News would not be able to protect Trump from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, and once the damning facts spilled into public view, Rupert Murdoch's cable channel wouldn't be able to control the narrative. And as it turns out, I was wrong. With the help of Attorney General William Barr, who brazenly lied about the contents of the Mueller report, and a press corps that eagerly fell for Barr's lie, the Trump White House and Fox News were able to muddy the waters on Russiagate, and effectively portray Mueller's damning report as a draw. To date though, Trump and Fox News have had no so such luck duplicating that messaging success with regard to the Ukraine scandal.
  • Trump says U.S. Kurdish allies 'no angels'; Republican opposition to Trump's betrayal fizzles    (Hunter, 2019-10-16)
    In an appearance before reporters with his short-straw-drawing Italian counterpart, Donald Trump answered questions about his still-inexplicable move to abandon Kurdish allies in northern Syria and move U.S. troops out of the way for a Turkish military invasion of Kurdish-held lands. He defended his decision by, of course, dumping on the U.S. allies, calling the Kurds "no angels." He is, as usual, such an aggressively stupid and ignorant man that his statements amount to little more than gibberish: "I view the situation on the Turkish border with Syria to be, for the United States, strategically brilliant. Our soldiers are out of there, they're totally safe. They've got to work it out. Maybe they can do it without fighting." At last report our soldiers were not "totally safe," but retreating to alternate positions as Russian-backed Syrian forces move in from the south and Turkish military troops and militias press from the north. Does he not know? And the notion that "maybe" an ongoing firefight already known to have resulted in many deaths, bombings, roadside executions, and ISIS prisoner escapes will be worked out "without fighting" is ... nonsensical? Confused? As Trump defends his abandonment of one of the few U.S. allies in the region by suggesting that they are "no angels" who perhaps deserve whatever they are getting and wishes Russia "a lot of luck" in Syria—no, really—the previously furious Republican opposition to Trump's betrayal has now all but dried up. It was Sen. Lindsey Graham who was perhaps the loudest of Republican lawmakers in warning of the extreme foolishness and danger of Trump's backstabbing move; after a meeting with Trump, Graham rolled over like a well-trained dog. "I blame Turkey, but I look to President Trump to fix this," he told Fox News. Oh, buddy. Whatever Trump has on you, it can’t make you look any worse than you already do.
  • What Elizabeth Warren should have said about Medicare-for-all    (By Paul Waldman, 2019-10-16)
    She could have explained why "taxes are inherently bad" is such a damaging premise to accept.
  • Top Fox executive laments lack of ‘civil debate’    (By Erik Wemple, 2019-10-16)
    Lachlan Murdoch, look at your own company.
  • Indicted Giuliani associate arrested by feds at JFK Airport, to face charges in foreign money scheme    (Jen Hayden, 2019-10-16)
    The net seems to be tightening around Rudolph W. Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal attorney. Federal agents have arrested yet another one of his associates. Like Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, David Correia was arrested at a major international airport, this time New York City’s Kennedy Airport. It is not yet known if he was arrested arriving at or attempting to depart from JFK.  Correia is one of four men, along with Parnas, Fruman, and Andrey Kukushkin, who have been indicted by U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York on charges of conspiring to circumvent federal laws against foreign influence. The foursome faces charges of falsifying records and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, and two counts of conspiracy. Reported CBS News,  "This investigation is about corrupt behavior — deliberate law breaking," said William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York office. Both men donated to Republican campaigns, and gave $325,000 to America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC in 2018. The indictment accuses them of setting up a phony company to conceal the source of the contributions.
  • How off-grid cold storage systems can help farmers reduce post-harvest losses    (Benson Kibiti, Heinz Strubenhoff, 2019-10-16)
    “We watched our parents, grandparents, and those before them work tirelessly, they toiled in the rural farms only for a huge chunk of their fresh produce to rot away due to lack of proper cold storage units,” says Dysmus Kisilu, a founder of Solar Freeze, an agri-tech company in Kenya that provides smallholder farmers—80 percent…        
  • Maybe Democrats can get that ‘generic’ person to run    (By Jennifer Rubin, 2019-10-16)
    Democrats need to make it all about Trump
  • What does the shooting of Leonard Shand tell us about the mental health of civilians and police?    (Rashawn Ray, 2019-10-16)
    On Sept. 26, 2019, Leonard Shand was shot and killed by 10 police officers from three distinct departments in Maryland: Hyattsville (6), Prince George’s County (3), and Mt. Rainer (1). For nearly 30 minutes prior, police officers attempted to use less lethal options to subdue Shand, a 49-year-old Black man who was talking loudly and…        
  • The fallout from President Trump’s Syria withdrawal: Don’t forget the children    (Eric Rosand, Stevan Weine, 2019-10-16)
    The fallout from last week’s abrupt decision by President Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria and the Turkish invasion that followed has been predictable: from abandoning the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) to allowing hundreds of terrorist prisoners to escape to emboldening Iran, Russia, and the Islamic State. Most of the focus has been…        
  • Experienced diplomats were sidelined to turn Ukraine over to 'three amigos' appointed by Trump    (Mark Sumner, 2019-10-16)
    They’re going to need a bigger bus. On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that it wasn’t just Rudy Giuliani and his merry band of international criminals who were running U.S. policy in Ukraine. Instead, that role was also shared by Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Special Envoy Kurt Volker, and—as earlier head-scratching statements had suggested—Energy Secretary Rick Perry. And all of them were apparently assigned their roles not via direct contact with Donald Trump, but by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. And with half a dozen layers of isolation now established, Trump is more than ready to start feeding associates to the wood chipper. The news that Trump and Mulvaney moved control of Ukraine policy out of traditional channels was apparently provided through the testimony of one of those traditional channels, in the form of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent, who would normally have been at the center of policy planning regarding Ukraine. Instead, Kent reportedly testified on Tuesday that he was instructed to “lay low,” check out what was happening elsewhere, and just leave Ukraine to the “three amigos”—Sondland, Volker, and Perry. When Kent—who has worked as a foreign service officer since 1992, was previously the deputy chief of the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, and is regarded as one of the top experts on Ukraine—tried to inject some reality into the situation and push back against the conspiracy-theory-based policy being imposed, he was told he was not welcome and should stay away. All of this happened weeks before Trump was on the phone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and it all plays into a still unfolding narrative showing that what Trump did on that phone call wasn’t an isolated incident, but part of a play that began months earlier and continued right up until the release of the whistleblower complaint and the beginning of the impeachment inquiry. 
  • Why the global economy remains so weak    (By Robert Samuelson, 2019-10-16)
    There’s a vicious cycle at work.
  • CNN asked no immigration questions during Tuesday's debate but aired anti-immigrant group's ad    (Gabe Ortiz, 2019-10-16)
    CNN failed to ask even one immigration question during Tuesday night’s 2020 Democratic presidential debate, something that wasn’t lost on the candidates themselves. “Three hours and no questions tonight about climate, housing, or immigration,” tweeted former HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “Three hours. Not one question about immigration,” tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris. What CNN didn’t forget to do was air an ad from NumbersUSA, an anti-immigrant group cofounded by John Tanton, a white nationalist described as the "puppeteer" of the nativist movement. The ad, which aired during a commercial break in the debate, decried “illegal workers” and ended with “paid for by NumbersUSA. Because numbers count.”  What Tanton’s groups really mean to say is that they believe there’s just too many nonwhite immigrants. Tanton, who regularly corresponded with Holocaust deniers and other deplorables over the years, said it himself, writing a book titled The Immigration Invasion that was apparently so disgusting, “Canadian border authorities banned it as hate literature.” That piece of work was edited by Roy Beck, NumbersUSA’s executive director. Unfortunately, these pieces of shit getting treated as legitimate organizations by mainstream media is not unusual. A report last month from Define American and the MIT Center for Civic Media found that major newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, regularly legitimized one such Tanton group: “Over 90% of the time, the Center for Immigration Studies was referenced as a neutral information source for expert opinion or data without contextualizing the group’s extremist ties or its relationship with the Trump administration.” Mark Krikorian, executive director of CIS, had a meltdown and even sued (unsuccessfully) the Southern Poverty Law Center over being labeled a hate group, Krikorian seemingly forgetting his organization’s years of distributing propaganda by “prominent and outspoken racists” such as Jared Taylor, who once wrote, "Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization—any kind of civilization—disappears." So, way to go, CNN. Because it’s constantly under attack by the president, it can feel gross to join in on criticism, but this is deserved. Donald Trump and his racist allies continuously attack immigrant families as invaders, but it’s these immigrant families that are under siege. There’s thousands of asylum-seekers stranded at the border, ICE is separating families in our communities, children—children—have died in federal immigration custody, and millions remain without a chance to legalize their status. All ignored last night, but NumbersUSA got its ad up.
  • Congestion pricing is all around us. Why is it taboo on our roads?    (DJ Gribbin, 2019-10-16)
    Think about a day in the life of a typical office worker in the Washington, D.C. area. They take Metro to get to the office on time, order lunch to be delivered from the busy restaurant down the street, purchase tickets to a weekend matinee film, and call a Lyft home as hockey fans swarm…        
  • Trump shocks UK couple by trying to introduce them to the U.S. woman who killed their son    (Walter Einenkel, 2019-10-16)
    In August, 19-year-old Harry Dunn was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a car on a road in Northamptonshire, England. The car was reportedly driving down the wrong side of the road when it hit and killed Dunn. The main suspect was 42-year-old Anne Sacoolas, an American citizen and the wife of a U.S. intelligence officer. Pleading diplomatic immunity, Sacoolas fled the country to return to the United States, leaving Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, to pick up the pieces and wonder whether or not justice will be served. Since then, Charles and Dunn have waged a campaign to get answers, recently making a trip to the United States in the hopes of drumming up support. In an appearance on CBS This Morning, the couple spoke about how they were surprised on Tuesday, when they received a call, out of the blue, to come to the White House to speak with a “senior official,” as “soon as you can get there.” They were further surprised to be led into a room in the White House where President Donald Trump himself was. According to Charles, Trump “offered his condolences,” saying he was “welcoming” and “warm.” Of course, that was short-lived, and the last surprise the White House had for Dunn’s parents did not sit well with them at all. “But it didn’t take long for him to drop in that Anne Sacoolas was in the building.” This surprise was not welcome at all to the parents of Dunn. On the family’s GoFundMe page, set up to cover some of the parents’ costs, a spokesman for the family, Radd Seiger wrote that, “it was the President’s intention for Harry’s family to meet Mrs. Sacoolas in the Oval Office in front of several photographers in what was obviously designed to be a press call.” Very diplomatically keeping Trump out of the blame, the family went after Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien, saying “It struck us that this meeting was hastily arranged by nincompoops on the run and in particular Mr O’Brien who appeared to be extremely uptight and aggressive and did not come across at all well in this meeting which required careful handling and sensitivity.”
  • The real reason LeBron James has betrayed his values    (By Sonny Bunch, 2019-10-16)
    LeBron James likely wants NBA players to be quiet about China in order to protect potential box-office receipts.
  • Trump just can't shake lawsuits over his unconstitutional profiting from the presidency    (Laura Clawson, 2019-10-16)
    One of the emoluments lawsuits against Donald Trump got new life on Tuesday when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals announced that the full court would take it up. The lawsuit, brought by Washington, D.C., and Maryland, focuses on business foreign governments are bringing to Trump’s D.C. hotel. When the 4th Circuit first heard arguments in the case, it was with a three-judge panel made up entirely of Republican appointees who were openly hostile to the case and ultimately dismissed it. Apparently many of their colleagues on the court want a chance to revisit the issue of how much and how and from whom Trump is profiting from the presidency. This isn’t the only emoluments setback for Trump recently. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals also recently revived an emoluments lawsuit, brought by restaurant owners and others in the hospitality industry, that had been dismissed by a federal district judge. A third emoluments lawsuit is before the D.C. Circuit.
  • Former Ambassador Kurt Volker makes a surprise return to House as impeachment inquiry continues    (Mark Sumner, 2019-10-16)
    Special Envoy Kurt Volker already testified in closed-door session before the House impeachment inquiry, but on Wednesday morning he surprised onlookers by making a second, unannounced appearance on Capitol Hill, where he is apparently in the same chamber where the impeachment inquiry interviews witnesses.  And, while Volker was still behind those closed doors, a second former State Department official has made a less unexpected appearance. Michael McKinley, who was the senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before he abruptly resigned last week, was already slated to testify on Wednesday. However, it now appears that McKinley and Volker are both behind those closed doors, which is generating a massive what-the-heck from those waiting outside. Immediately following Volker’s testimony, Republicans such as Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio rushed to claim that the nine-hour appearance had “exonerated” Donald Trump by conclusively saying there was “no quid pro quo … no linkage.” That was followed by the release of texts among Volker, Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, Rudy Giuliani, Charge d’Affaires William Taylor, and others showing clear and sustained efforts to force Ukraine to open an investigation into Joe Biden. What’s known about Volker’s testimony seems to show that it emphasized Giuliani’s attempts to spread propaganda. Some sources have suggested that Volker’s appearance is part of a continued effort to review the transcript and release portions of his testimony that seem exculpatory for Trump. But his appearance at the same time as McKinley is scheduled to testify is definitely creating an impression that there may be more going on than just skimming through some recorded text. McKinley is a former U.S. ambassador and longtime diplomat whose resignation is reportedly connected to his concerns that the State Department wasn’t supporting former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was forced out of her position after Giuliani and others spread rumors and conspiracy theories about her.
  • Trump Organization fraud: 'A set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender'    (Joan McCarter, 2019-10-16)
    Documents obtained by ProPublica show "major inconsistencies" between the Trump Organization’s tax documents versus its loan documents, and that the organization "reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities." In other words, two sets of books. One made the business look more profitable to lenders, while the other made it look less so to the tax man. Because, of course, Trump is a crook. "For instance," ProPublica reports, "Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017." While he was president, by the way. "He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street." Real estate professionals—a dozen of them—that ProPublica spoke with said that there isn't any kind of legal explanation for the variances in the documents. Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, said the discrepancies show "versions of fraud. […] This kind of stuff is not OK." And not legal. Persons signing property tax forms in New Your City are "affirm[ing] the truth of the statements made." In addition, "false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties." As Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, who are in prison "for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate," knew. "It really feels like there's two sets of books," said financing and real estate expert Kevin Riordan, a professor who reviewed the documents ProPublica obtained through New York's Freedom of Information Law. "[I]t feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender. […] It's hard to argue numbers. That's black and white." Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey, is blunt: "Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor's office, I would want to ask a lot more questions." The city is asking more questions, according to Laura Feyer, deputy press secretary for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. "The city is looking into" the Trump International Hotel and Tower discrepancies, she said, "and if there has been any underreporting, we will take appropriate action." This isn't all new news: The revelations confirm what former Trump lawyer Cohen told Congress in February. "It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes," Cohen testified, "and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes." Rep. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has subpoenaed records to confirm Cohen's testimony from Trump's accountant, Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars USA, the accounting firm that signed off on the two properties’ expense and income statements. Trump is fighting those subpoenas in court, as he is fighting Congress' attempts to get his federal income tax returns. Probably because they'll show he's a crook.
  • What to expect when you are expecting impeachment    (By Doug Sosnik, 2019-10-16)
    Is there any indication the Trump White House has the moves, the skills or the instincts to cope with this?
  • The losses just keep piling up for Trump    (By Jennifer Rubin, 2019-10-16)
    Surely the president must see the walls closing in.
  • Restoring the Promise of Higher Education    (Colleen Campbell, Antoinette Flores, Marcella Bombardieri, Victoria Yuen, Marissa Navarro and Dante Barboy, 2019-10-16)
    The House’s Higher Education Act reauthorization bill would create a more equitable, affordable, and accountable higher education system. The post Restoring the Promise of Higher Education appeared first on Center for American Progress.
  • Reproductive freedom shouldn't begin and end in the courts, 2020 Democrats say    (Laura Clawson, 2019-10-16)
    Democrats are moving away from relying on the courts—the Trump-McConnell-packed courts—to protect reproductive freedom. At Tuesday’s debate, several backed a plan that’s gaining ground in the party, with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren, as well as former HUD Secretary Julián Castro and former Vice President Joe Biden all calling, at least in passing, for Roe v. Wade to be codified in law. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also mentioned codifying Roe, but with the large step backward into Republican-talking-points world of strict restrictions on third-trimester abortions. Getting Roe v. Wade through Congress would be its own heavy lift, of course. “Earlier this year, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced such a bill, but it has not advanced in the Democratic-controlled House and would almost certainly be dead-on-arrival in the Republican-majority Senate,” Mother Jones reports. “A version of this measure was first introduced in 2013.” Despite the difficulties of passing such a law, though, it would take reproductive freedom out of the courts Republicans have so effectively packed with conservative judges on lifetime appointments. And, as Booker, Castro, and Warren said, this is an issue not just about women in general but about poverty. The strict abortion bans being passed in some states, Booker said, are “another example of people trying to punish, trying to penalize, trying to criminalize poverty, because this is disproportionately affecting low-income women in this country, people in rural areas in this country. It is an assault on the most fundamental ideal that human beings should control their own body.” 
  • The Executive Privilege Is Far From Absolute    (Katrina Mulligan and Aminata Diallo, 2019-10-16)
    There are limits on the president’s ability to withhold information from Congress. The post The Executive Privilege Is Far From Absolute appeared first on Center for American Progress.
  • Mick Mulvaney’s role in the latest Trump scandal just deepened    (By Greg Sargent, 2019-10-16)
    Bernie Sanders made an explosive charge about Trump. New reports suggest he's right.
  • Hate the other side’s media? You still need to watch it and read it.    (By Gary Abernathy, 2019-10-16)
    Good journalism exists in all those places, and it’s worth discovering — even when it’s wrapped inside a partisan package.
  • Turkish president refuses to talk to Mike Pence, as Turkish forces spurn Trump's proposed cease-fire    (Mark Sumner, 2019-10-16)
    In Syria, Turkish forces are closing in on Kobani, killing civilians along the street as they come—even though Donald Trump claims that autocratic leader Recep Erdoğan promised to steer clear of the key Kurdish-controlled city. Meanwhile, Mike Pence is on his way to Istanbul, where he’s already been snubbed by Erdoğan, who says he will not meet with with him. Both events are vivid demonstrations of what happens when leadership demonstrates weakness, cowardice, and the willingness to put personal greed ahead of national concerns. The United States may have the most powerful military on the planet, but Erdoğan is more than willing to thumb his nose at Trump—because he believes he has Trump’s number. Lindsay Graham may be fuming that he was witness to a call in which Erdoğan told Trump he would stay away from Kobani, but so what? Trump already broke his word to the Kurds. Trump already broke the Iran nuclear treaty. Trump already demonstrated that he would hold an ally hostage over political dirt. Trump already demonstrated that he can’t be trusted. In fact, he didn’t just demonstrate that—he ran on it. Bragged about it. Treated his willingness to ignore a signed contract and cheat his partners to up his own profit as a selling point. Surprise. The world has been watching. No one will bother to make a deal with the United States, because the United States doesn’t uphold its end. Erdoğan certainly realizes this. So do Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin. And what all of them have learned is that there’s absolutely no reason to fear Trump. Erdoğan believes that Trump will bluster, pout, and do next to nothing. Which made it dead simple for Turkey to flat-out reject a U.S. demand for a cease-fire. It made Trump’s offer to “broker talks” between Turkey and Kurdish forces an eye-roller. Turkey doesn’t need anything from Trump except that he keep being Trump. That’s all it requires to roll across a longtime American ally and practice a little genocide. This is what Donald Trump has accomplished: Russian forces are picking over hastily abandoned U.S. bases. Syrian forces are taking areas that had held out against Assad’s regime for the better part of a decade. Turkish forces are slaughtering their way through the heart of an area that was the most stable and peaceful in the region. The ISIS flag is again being lofted by hundreds, if not thousands, of escaped prisoners. Which part of that is winning?
  • Bernie Sanders isn’t going anywhere anytime soon    (By Henry Olsen, 2019-10-16)
    Why would he? He could position himself to become the Democratic Party's kingmaker.
  • Bernie Sanders to get key endorsements from AOC, Omar, and Tlaib    (Laura Clawson, 2019-10-16)
    During Tuesday’s debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders responded to a question about his health by teasing an upcoming rally in Queens with a “special guest.” The news soon got out: That special guest will be Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, endorsing Sanders’ presidential run. AOC will be joined in endorsing Sanders by Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, two of her fellow squad members. “Bernie is leading a working class movement to defeat Donald Trump that transcends generation, ethnicity, and geography,” Omar said in a statement. Ocasio-Cortez volunteered for Sanders in 2016, effectively her route into electoral politics. Hers is one of the most coveted endorsements in the Democratic primary, though it was likely a two-person race for that endorsement between Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both of whom Ocasio-Cortez praised earlier in the race.
  • Trump writes a letter to one of his favorite autocrats    (By Ann Telnaes, 2019-10-16)
    President Trump pens a jaw-dropping note to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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