Even by Donald Trump’s standards, Wednesday was an epically bad day for him.
Early on, Trump dissed U.S. Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS as “no angels,” a move that so pained Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he was forced to actually offer a rebuttal. “I want to express my gratitude to the Kurds,” McConnell said several hours later, calling the partnership a “terrific alliance.”
Then the House voted on a resolution condemning Trump’s troop withdrawal from Syria that passed 354-60 with overwhelming bipartisan support, including 129 Republicans. That really pushed Trump over the edge. In an apparent effort to prove Trump hadn’t greenlit Turkey’s precipitous advance into Syria, the White House released a letter Trump sent to Turkish President Recep Erdoğan on Oct. 9 that was so unbelievably embarrassing, news outlets felt moved to confirm its authenticity with the White House.
Trump, however, thought the letter was so masterful that he handed out copies of it to lawmakers in a bipartisan meeting at the White House, during which he reportedly berated Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “third grade politician” after she brought up the bipartisan vote on Syria. Pelosi left the meeting along with her Democratic counterparts, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown,” Pelosi told reporters. Hoyer added: “I have served with six presidents. I have been in many, many, many meetings like this. Never have I seen a president treat so disrespectful a coequal branch of government.”
As the Democratic triumvirate left, Trump lashed out, saying, “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.” Clearly, none of his aides have briefed him on the polls. Anyway, convinced of his dominance, Trump tweeted out a picture of Pelosi facing him down that, frankly, made Trump look absolutely pathetic. Check out all the people on Trump’s side grimacing with their heads down while Pelosi takes command of the room with full backing of her Democratic colleagues in the tweet below.
The fullness of Trump’s deteriorating mental state led Kellyanne Conway spouse George to tweet out, “Are we ready yet to have a full national conversation about the diseased mental state of the president of the United States?”
One person who was ready to broach that topic was former FBI assistant director of counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi. “He is spiraling down into a dangerous, dangerous posture,” Figliuzzi told MSNBC, adding that Trump is acting “almost in total isolation.”
“He is in a corner all by himself and if you’re a foreign leader trying to assess him, you actually don’t know where this is going except that he is incredibly vulnerable,” Figliuzzi concluded.
Essentially, any foreign leader could call up Trump right now, just like Erdoğan did, and bend him to their will because he’s just that fragile. If Trump didn’t pose a clear and present danger to this country before, he sure does now, and that danger increases with every passing minute that he continues to occupy the Oval Office.
Representative Elijah Cummings, long a powerful voice for civil rights, for human rights, and for simple justice in all its forms, has died. As the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings played a central role in defending the nation and Congress against the overreach and criminal activities of Donald Trump and provided key leadership as the House entered into the impeachment inquiry. His powerful presence, his thoughtful oratory, his strongly held convictions, his intrinsic sense of decency … all will be sadly missed.
“When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, in 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing? Did we play games?” —Rep. Elijah Cummings
Cummings spent his whole life as a citizen and leader of Baltimore, battling for equality, and in the process standing up to abuse, weathering criticism, and taking on injustice no matter the cost. Whether it was being pelted by bottles and stones as a child when he helped integrate the city’s segregated facilities, or holding neighborhoods together after the police murder of Freddie Gray, Cummings was the city’s great champion and defender; a representative of its citizens and its soul.
During the Benghazi hearings, Rep. Cummings emerged as the most powerful defender of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His actions didn’t just help to stop what appeared to be a runaway partisan process in the House; they also won the admiration of his fellow representatives on both sides of the aisle. Over the last three years, he has been the subject of direct attacks by Donald Trump as he attempted to lead his committee in the role it was created to take, despite unprecedented resistance and opposition from the White House. He persevered through those attacks as he had through so many others—with grace and strength.
In addition to the chairmanship of the Oversight Committee, Rep. Cummings also served as chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. He was the first African American in the House to serve as speaker pro tempore. Born into a working class family, Cummings attended Howard University after a family friend recognized his potential and helped to provide his tuition. At Howard he was elected student body president. He was first elected to Congress in 1996.
For the last several years, Cummings faced a series of health issues that included heart surgery. He was 68. He is survived by three children.
Following Rep. Cummings’ death, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has 10 days to issue a proclamation for a special election. A primary election for the seat will be held within 65 days of the proclamation, and a general election within 65 days following the primary.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● KS-Sen: State Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former moderate Republican who switched parties last year, announced Wednesday that she’d join the August Democratic primary for Kansas’ open U.S. Senate seat. Former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom and Manhattan Mayor Pro Tem Usha Reddi were already competing for the nod.
Bollier was appointed to a state House seat in Johnson County in the Kansas City suburbs as a Republican back in 2010, and she was elected to a full term that year. In 2016, Bollier won an open state Senate seat 54-46 even as Hillary Clinton was winning her district 57-36, which was Team Red’s only victory in a Clinton Senate seat.
However, Bollier was hardly an ardent conservative during her near-decade in the GOP’s legislative caucus. She was a prominent opponent of then-Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts, which ended up devastating schools in Johnson County, and she stood out as a rare Republican who backed abortion and LGBTQ rights. In 2018, Bollier also backed Democrat Sharice Davids over local GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder, and she supported Democrat Laura Kelly in the race for governor.
In December, a month after strong performances in Johnson County helped carry both Davids and Kelly to victory, Bollier announced that she was switching parties. Bollier declared, “When the party adopted an anti-transgender piece to their platform, that really, as a physician, set me over the edge, because we have more than XX and XY, and gender is a very complicated and important thing.”
Bollier also hit her old party for opposing Medicaid expansion and gun safety legislation and added, “My moral compass is saying, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and you throw that in with Donald Trump, and just from a moral position, I can’t be complicit anymore.” Two more Republican state legislators soon followed Bollier into the Democratic fold.
Bollier told the Kansas City Star this week that she’d spoken to both Kelly and former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius before she decided to enter the race. However, when the paper asked if Kelly had encouraged her to run, Bollier simply responded, “no.” Bollier also said that, while she’d called Sebelius “just to understand what’s at stake, as far as what you have to do,” she had been “talking to everybody” before she announced.
So far, though, prominent state and national Democrats haven’t taken sides in the primary. Grissom entered the race in July and raised $467,000 during his first quarter and ended September with $366,000 on-hand. Reddi launched her campaign at the end of August and raised just $61,000 and had $54,000 to spend. Democrats haven’t won a Senate seat in Kansas since 1932, though both parties believe that this race could be competitive if former state Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom Kelly beat last year, wins the GOP nod.
● NC-Sen: While the local media reported back in May that former state Treasurer Janet Cowell was just days away from announcing that she’d enter the Democratic primary, that Senate campaign never happened. It doesn’t look like Cowell will belatedly run, either, since she donated to former state Sen. Cal Cunningham’s campaign during the third quarter.
● WY-Sen: Rep. Liz Cheney’s spokesperson recently told the local NBC affiliate KPVI that the congresswoman would decide after the end of the year whether she’d seek the GOP nod for this open seat, but Cheney’s fundraising very much indicates that she’s preparing to run. Cheney raised $414,000 during the third quarter of the year, which KPVI called one of her strongest hauls to date.
Cheney’s total was considerably more than the $150,000 that former Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who still has the August primary to herself, raised during her opening fundraising quarter, though Lummis self-funded an additional $155,000. Cheney held a $758,000 to $312,000 cash-on-hand over her predecessor at the end of September.
● KY-Gov: Mason-Dixon is out with an extremely rare poll of next month’s race for governor of Kentucky, and they find a 46-46 tie between GOP incumbent Matt Bevin and Democrat Andy Beshear. Mason-Dixon’s survey, which was done for several media outlets, is the first poll we’ve seen here since August, when two Democratic surveys showed Beshear ahead 48-39. Mason-Dixon’s December poll had Beshear ahead 48-40, and apart from a June survey from the unreliable Gravis Marketing, we haven’t seen any other polls here at all.
Mason-Dixon’s new survey, while showing a deadlocked race, does have one very encouraging sign for Bevin. They find the governor only slightly underwater with a 45-48 approval rating, which is a huge improvement from his 38-53 score last year. Kentucky is a very red state so if Bevin is only slightly unpopular, he’ll have a strong chance to win on Nov 5.
Of course, as we always caution, you should never let one poll determine your view of a race, even when there is literally one poll to go off of. Hopefully we’ll see some more numbers soon to indicate if Bevin’s standing has recovered after four acrimonious years in power or if voters are still ready to fire him.
● LA-Gov: Republican Eddie Rispone’s first two ads for the Nov. 16 runoff feature clips of Donald Trump at his Friday evening rally in Lake Charles. The first spot shows Trump praising Rispone, while the second commercial is entirely footage of Trump trashing Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Thrasher is shown driving as he tells the audience, “We want our children to stay here in West Virginia and have a brighter future. And is it too much to ask? We want conservative government policies that help pave the way.” The candidate then pulls over and asks, “And, shoot, maybe we could get somewhere in West Virginia if we just fixed the dang roads,” which sounds like a G-rated version of the “fix the damn roads” slogan Michigan Democrat Gretchen Whitmer used during her successful bid for governor last year. Just like in his previous ads, Thrasher does not mention GOP incumbent Jim Justice.
Schilling, who went to high school in the Grand Canyon State and pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2000 to 2003, first publicly expressed interest in an Arizona House bid in August, and Donald Trump quickly and publicly pledged his support. Schilling initially refused to say which House seat he was looking at, other than it was “one of the blue ones,” but he soon revealed he was thinking about taking on O’Halleran.
Schilling had sounded eager to run, and he said earlier in October he was “leaning very heavily toward doing it” even though he was still a Massachusetts resident. However, a few days later, several publications reported that Schilling was interested in managing the Philadelphia Phillies or becoming the Red Sox’s pitching coach. On Tuesday, Schilling said he’d decided not to run for Congress, telling an Arizona sports radio program that “[t]he things that have been said and done to my wife and kids since I announced interest in running” weren’t worth it.
This isn’t the first time that Schilling has sounded likely to run for office only to not go through with it. Schilling actually said back in October of 2016 that he would challenge Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren the following cycle by declaring, “I’ve made my decision. I’m going to run.” However, Schilling bizarrely continued, “But—but—I haven’t talked to Shonda, my wife,” and he added, “And ultimately it’s going to come down to how her and I feel this would affect our marriage and our kids.” The following March, Schilling announced that he would not actually run.
● AZ-06: Scandal-tarred Republican Rep. David Schweikert got our attention back in July after the news broke that he’d spent more money than he’d raised on lawyers as he dealt with multiple ethics investigations, but his campaign argued there was no problem. Chris Baker, who works as a consultant for the Arizona congressman, said, “It’s a one-off situation. It’s not going to continue,” and he quickly repeated, “We’re quite confident this is a one-off situation.”
Well, Schweikert’s third quarter fundraising report is now available and despite his team’s confidence, this was anything but a one-off situation. As the Arizona Republic’s Ronald Hansen notes, Schweikert, who is still under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, raised just $136,000 for the quarter while he spent another $105,000 on legal fees. Unsurprisingly, Schweikert’s high burn rate continued, and he went from having $170,000 in the bank in June to just $144,000 on Sept. 30, which Hansen says gives him the smallest war chest in Arizona’s nine-member House delegation.
Baker once again responded to the bad news, and this time, he didn’t try to argue that this wouldn’t continue. Instead, Baker said, “Congressman Schweikert has always run well-funded campaigns and will again in 2020,” and, “He has easily defeated every Democrat challenger by double digits and we expect 2020 to be no different.”
While Schweikert has indeed consistently won re-election by double digits, 2020 is already shaping up to be a very different year, and it’s not just because of the ethics investigation that’s dogging him. Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, which includes Scottsdale and North Phoenix, moved from 60-39 Romney to 52-42 Trump, and even more alarming for Schweikert, Republican Martha McSally carried it by only a modest 51-47 margin in last year’s Senate race.
Democrats haven’t seriously targeted this seat in years, but that’s also changing. Physician Hiral Tipirneni, who ran last year in the neighboring 8th District, has been campaigning here since April, and she’s been a strong fundraiser. Tipirneni brought in $333,000 during the third quarter, and she ended September with $603,000 in the bank.
Tipirneni has considerably more money available than both Schweikert or either of her two opponents in the August Democratic primary. Anita Malik, who lost to Schweikert 55-45 last year, raised $39,000 for the quarter and had $41,000 to spend. Businesswoman Stephanie Rimmer raised only $12,000 during this time and had $87,000 in the bank.
● FL-19: GOP Rep. Francis Rooney earned himself a place on the retirement watchlists after he raised just $800 from donors during the second quarter, and he somehow outdid himself by bringing in only $650 over the following three months. Florida Politics’ Jacob Ogleso noted that all of this money, such as it was, came from just one person, contractor Kevin Jensen.
Rooney, who still has a $598,000 war chest, demonstrated in 2016 that he’s willing and able to self-fund, so he certainly can defend himself if he ends up attracting a serious primary in this safely red southwestern Florida seat. However, Ogleso wrote in July that local party leaders believe that Rooney, unlike so many of his other House GOP colleagues, means what he says when he advocates term limits for members of Congress, and that he’ll leave office no later than early 2021.
● MN-01: Farmer and businessman Ralph Kaehler announced Tuesday that he’d seek the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn. Kaehler, who is running for office for the first time, will compete with 2018 nominee Dan Feehan, who lost a very tight race last year.
Kaehler said he’d compete for the state party endorsement, but he said it was too early to know if he’d drop out if he lost it. Winning the party endorsement is not the same thing as winning the nomination, but many voters in Minnesota take it very seriously. It’s also common for candidates in both parties to, in local parlance, “abide” by the party endorsement process and drop out instead of proceeding to the primary if they aren’t chosen. In 2018, for example, Feehan defeated three opponents at the party convention, and they each quickly ended their campaigns.
● MO-02: While there’s been some speculation that GOP Rep. Ann Wagner could retire, she continues to fundraise like she plans to run for a fifth term. Wagner took in just over $450,000 during the third quarter, and she ended September with $2.2 million on-hand.
Wagner only beat Democrat Cort VanOstran 51-47, but according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, VanOstran has decided not to seek a rematch. (There’s no quote from VanOstran.) So far, no notable Democrats have entered the race for this suburban St. Louis seat. Morning Consult wrote in late June that gun safety activist Becky Morgan was planning to jump in as soon as the following month, but that was the first and last thing we ever heard about a potential Morgan campaign.
● NY-02: EMILY’s List endorsed Babylon Town Councilor Jackie Gordon’s bid against longtime GOP Rep. Pete King on Wednesday. Gordon is the only notable Democrat running for this Southern Long Island seat, but she raised just $77,000 for the third quarter and had $123,000 in the bank.
● NY-17: On Wednesday, former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton appeared on The View and responded to speculation that she could run for this open seat by saying, “I’m not considering running for Congresswoman [Nita] Lowey’s seat.” When co-host Whoopi Goldberg asked Clinton if she’d ever consider running she replied, “I don’t know, but right now the answer is no.” That’s not quite a firm no, but it doesn’t sound like Clinton is eager to seek this reliably blue House seat.
● TX-23: Navy veteran Tony Gonzales announced in August that he’d seek the GOP nod for this competitive open seat, and his campaign said early this month that he’d raised $150,000 during his first quarter in the race. However, Gonzales’ FEC report reveals that only $85,000, or just over half, of that amount came from donors, while he self-funded the rest.
That’s a very weak haul for a seat that hosted a very expensive race last year and it’s especially bad compared to the monster $1 million haul that 2018 Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones brought in for the quarter; Ortiz Jones, who did not self-fund at all, ended September with a $1.44 million to $107,000 cash-on-hand lead over Gonzales.
Gonzales is so far the only notable Republican who has entered the race in the more than two months since GOP Rep. Will Hurd surprised everyone by retiring, and the early December candidate filing deadline isn’t too far away. A few weeks ago, NRCC chair Tom Emmer said of the GOP’s one candidate, “We have a great candidate named Gonzales,” though he awkwardly didn’t mention his first name and predicted that others would run. Emmer is probably hoping his prediction comes true over the next six weeks if he wants to keep this 50-46 Clinton seat.
P.S. This wasn’t the first time that Gonzales talked about his fundraising without making the distinction between money he’d brought in from donors and cash he’d self-funded. In September Gonzales said he’d raised $100,000 during his first 30 days in the race, which is less than the total amount he raised from people who weren’t himself during the quarter.
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Last month, a judge sentenced former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger to 10 years in prison for entering the wrong apartment in her building and killing Botham Jean, her neighbor. Lee Merritt, the Jean family attorney, boasted: “This is a victory for black people in America. It is a signal that the tide is going to change here. Police officers are going to be held accountable for their actions, and we believe that will begin to change policing culture all over the world.”
But it would not. Guyger’s conviction didn’t even change police culture near Dallas. Before the ink could dry on the sentencing papers, a Fort Worth police officer entered into Atatiana Jefferson’s home. He shot and killed her within seconds. She was playing video games with her nephew. A neighbor called a non-emergency number for a wellness check because Atatiana’s door was open late at night. In 2013, Fort Worth police also killed a man in his own garage during a wellness check. The officers were not prosecuted.
Merritt and some activists have issued calls for “more justice.” I understand this impulse. After a police killing, prison is something, and that something can feel like justice when the other option seems like nothing. People understandably want police officers to be punished for killing black people. They also hope that prison will send a warning message to other officers that they cannot get away with murder. But that’s not how policing works. If we want black people, or anybody, to be safe from police violence, then we must first be clear about one thing: prison is not justice. It is punishment, and contrary to popular belief, sending more cops to prison may not make other black people safe.
Cop convictions are increasing, but cop killings roughly remain constant.
The front page of the NYT website Ã¢Â€Â”Â on day 1,000 of the Trump administration Ã¢Â€Â” reads like a parody prediction from 2016 of what TrumpÃ¢Â€Â™s presidency would look like. pic.twitter.com/oT3VxVqDXp
For almost a year and a half, John Bolton was among the most powerful government officials on Earth. A detail-oriented bureaucratic operator, Bolton got to push his hard-line views on issues such as Iran and North Korea on President Trump, the easily distracted political novice.
But ironically, it turns out Bolton may be more powerful outside the White House than in it. A little over a month ago, Bolton was fired as White House national security adviser; now, he is poised to play a central role in a scandal that embroiled Trump and his allies, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Fiona Hill, formerly the White House’s top adviser on Russia, this week told House investigators looking into the impeachment of Trump that Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine designed to personally benefit the president. According to those with knowledge of her testimony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose details of her deposition, Hill recounted a number of moments when Bolton, her direct superior at the White House, had angrily objected. […]
There is now speculation about whether Bolton could be called to testify to impeachment investigators and if he were to talk, what he might reveal. He has no reason to hold back: Bolton left the office on bad terms — publicly disputing whether he was fired at all — and he has already privately criticized Trump.
You could practically hear the wails of umbrage and despair if you logged onto Twitter Sunday night. The New York Times had just broken the story of another and-you-thought-you-could-no-longer-be-outraged-in-2019-America outrages .
This time, it was a kind of a snuff video depicting a deep-faked Donald Trump violently gunning down his “enemies,” which were mostly memes of news orgs like NPR or ABC (with the occasional Hollywood star and the already-dead John McCain tossed in for good measure) amid church pews, crudely mimicking the kind of all-American mass shooting that the real world Donald Trump has done nothing to stop. It was made by a Trump supporter and shown at a Trump hotel to a conference of right-wing supporters, including Donald Trump Jr.
If you’d been in a coma these last four or five years, the video would have been a stroke-inducing shock. For the rest of us, this just seemed like the inevitable rock bottom of an American president who understood that ginning up hatred of the elite news media out in the Heartland was the only path for a failed-real-estate-developer-turned-reality-TV star to improbably reach the White House. Since 2015, the nation has grown uncomfortably numb to a president borrowing from Joseph Stalin to brand journalists as “enemies of the people,” making a kind of Two Minutes Hate against the press pool a focal point of his Nuremberg-style rallies, and ending press briefings through his anonymous press secretary, in its affirmation of the public’s right not to know.
I think we may be getting close to the point where the 25th Amendment supersedes the impeachment process. His mental health is clearly deteriorating.
In 1981, when my father’s administration was still young, I was asked to come in and read for Ron Howard, who was directing a movie called “Night Shift.” They sent me the script, and my agent told me I had a very good chance of getting the role. That comment stayed with me like a splinter under my skin. I’d had a few minor TV roles, but I was hardly an accomplished actress, and frankly the only reason I was pursuing acting at all was that, apart from having a song on an Eagles album, my writing career hadn’t taken off and I needed to make a living. Acting was the only other thing I knew how to do. But a role in a Ron Howard film? I was very certain that it had everything to do with the fact that my father was president and nothing to do with my barely noticeable work on “Love Boat” and a few other shows.
I imagined the criticism I would get, the cruelty of people’s judgments, and I declined to even read for the part. Shelley Long was cast in the role, and she was brilliant. I could never have hit it out of the park like she did, but I made my choice out of fear, which is never a good idea.
Unfortunately, for political sons and daughters, the fear of how you will be perceived as you go about your life, as you pursue your dreams and goals, underlies everything. It’s a toxic way to live. You have to constantly second-guess yourself, as in, “If I were anyone else, this would be a great opportunity, but it’s probably just being offered because of who my father is, and even if it isn’t, it could look that way.”
The Trump offspring don’t seem weighed down by any of these considerations. They have used Donald Trump’s presidency as their own personal debit card. Donald Jr. and Eric Trump run their father’s business, which he apparently still profits from; Ivanka Trump has been racking up trademarks from China for her fashion line at the same time she works as an adviser to her father with an office in the West Wing. Jared Kushner has been bailed out of a massive debt by foreign money. The irony of Donald Trump calling Joe and Hunter Biden corrupt would be laughable if it weren’t so painful to watch.
Barbara Coloroso, the author of “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander,” said that the first thing to remember is “don’t get in the mud” with the bully. Don’t resort to name-calling, as Ted Cruz did in 2016. (After Trump had mocked his wife, Cruz called Trump a “big-government liberal” and “a sniveling coward.”) “That’s a huge mistake,” Coloroso said. “You can’t do that with a bully. He will be better at name-calling.” Trump had already labelled Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” and called him “a soft, weak little baby.” “Trump tries to draw people into his bullying so he can identify it as a conflict,” she said. She speculated that this might be a risk for Harris: “She’s used to being in prosecutorial mode. She’s got to move out of that.”
When tangling with Trump, Juvonen said, the most important thing to know is “it’s less about content and more about power.” This goes double for the brainier candidates, like Warren, who might be tempted to pick apart Trump’s arguments. “We can’t worry about the intellectual arguments here, which is really sad,” she said. “First and foremost, you have to shift the power dynamics.” She went on, “One of the best strategies for kids who get bullied is to use self-deprecating humor.” This defuses the bully’s insults, and, potentially, helps the nerdy kid seem a tiny bit subversive. Plus, telling jokes could throw an antagonist off balance.“Bullies have very vulnerable egos,” she said. “What gets them angry the most is when someone makes fun of them.”
How should the candidates respond when Trump calls them by an offensive nickname, like “Crazy Bernie” or “Pocahontas”? Coloroso recommended calling out the behavior, but not the person. “You say, ‘That comment was bigoted, sexist’—whatever. Identify the behavior. Then say, ‘Those comments are beneath the office of the Presidency.’ ”
Sparks flew a hundred feet in the air. Bare metal shrieked as powerful jolts of electricity passed through a furnace that melts scrap — like old cars and tossed-out refrigerators — into puddles, turning them into shiny recycled steel.
As I watched recently, the great arc furnace at one of the nation’s most storied steel mills was sucking in more electrical power than any other machine in Colorado, produced in part at a plant a few miles away that burns Wyoming coal by the ton.
But the electrical supply for the mill is changing.
A huge solar farm, one of the largest in the country, is to be built here on the grounds of the Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel mill. In addition to producing power for the giant mill, the farm, Bighorn Solar, will supply homes and businesses across Colorado. So far as I can tell, Evraz Rocky Mountain will be the first steel mill in the world that can claim to be powered largely by solar energy.
The announcement at the plant a couple of weeks ago, by Gov. Jared Polis and other dignitaries, was a striking turn of events in the history of American industry.
Johanna Bozuwa at The Nation writes—Pulling the Plug on PG&E. California’s recent blackout shows how desperately we need to replace private utilities with community-controlled, publicly owned, green energy systems:
Earlier this month, nearly 2 million Californians were hurt by a “planned” power shutoff by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), a private utility company. The shutoff was part of a botched wildfire management strategy to prevent transmission lines neglected by the company for years from catching fire. Customers received only 24 hours’ notice for a shutoff that lasted up to four days, during which grocery stores sat empty, cleared of basic supplies, and schools were closed. The residents of Paradise, California, displaced just one year ago by massive fires that destroyed their town and killed dozens, found themselves without electricity once again. Thirty thousand of those affected have medical needs that require access to electricity, putting them in harm’s way.
PG&E has been the region’s main electricity provider since 1852, and its history has been marred by mismanagement and corporate greed for decades. It was bailed out by the state in 2000 and again in 2018. In recent years, its blatant political capture, leading to scant regulation and little regard for the devastating effects of a changing climate, has Californians questioning if PG&E can reliably provide a core public service like electric power.
That skepticism is, in turn, fueling serious momentum for an alternative to the investor-owned model, in California and around the nation: a new, community-controlled, publicly owned energy system grounded in renewable energy, democratic governance, and decentralization.
What’s wrong with PG&E? It’s hard to know where to start.
Also, remember that Medicare for All was basically first introduced during WWII & reintroduced by Truman in Nov, 1945. GOP has been fighting it for >70 years.Which side are you on, Pete? Which side are you on??? https://t.co/kQafJRH7mA
It’s getting more difficult by the day to remember the vigor with which former Vice President Joe Biden jumped into the presidential race earlier this year. One of the important documents of that moment in the spring was a piece in Politico Magazine by Bill Scher titled ”Did The Left Misread the 2020 Democratic Primary?” To a not inconsiderable number of pundits, an obvious answer was taking shape, just a few weeks into Biden’s candidacy. “He has dominated the polls since he entered the race last month,” Scher wrote. “Before Biden announced, he was at a measly 29 percent in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, only 6 percentage points ahead of progressive favorite Bernie Sanders, who not all that long ago looked like a genuine co-front-runner. Since then, Biden has surged to 40 percent, kicking Sanders down to the mid-teens.”
Scher went on to explain that the threat of Trump’s reelection had made most of the primary electorate “more cautious and less radical,” a mindset favorable to Biden and at odds with assertions that a large share of Democrats were hungry for ambitious policy change. “It’s indisputable that such a faction exists among Democratic primary voters,” he wrote. “But if the left is wrong about its breadth, it will take more than a good clapback tweet for them to figure out what to do next.” In New York magazine, Jonathan Chait agreed. “Perhaps it was the party’s intelligentsia, not Biden, that was out of touch with the modern Democratic electorate,” he wrote. “The conclusion that Biden could not lead the post-Obama Democratic Party is the product of misplaced assumptions about the speed of its transformation. Yes, the party has moved left, but not nearly as far or as fast as everybody seemed to believe.”
This was a premature assertion for a variety of reasons, the simplest of which being math. The initial spike in Biden’s support following his announcement leveled off by mid-June, at which point polls clearly showed that the combined constituency for the race’s progressive standard bearers, Sanders and Warren, was as large or larger than Biden’s—without even counting the supporters of formerly moderate candidates who had taken from the 2016 election no small amount of encouragement to move leftward, such as Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
As bad a president as Mr. Trump has been, he’s an even worse entertainer. He reads scripted lines like a panic-stricken schoolboy at a middle school assembly. He mangles every attempt at irony, self-mockery or, God forbid, an actual joke. He cravenly fills the hall for every rally with a hopped-up claque drawn from his hard-core base. And he can be grotesquely inappropriate at his public appearances, as when he babbled inanely about crowd size and margins of victory on recent condolence visits to Ohio and Texas after mass shootings in those states.
Pause for a moment and recall No-Drama Barack Obama. Remember when we would whine about how aloof and deliberative he was? Maybe there was some truth to that complaint but, wow, did that man know how to choose his moments.
Think about the time when, during his eulogy for the pastor Clementa Pinckney, slain in his Charleston, S.C., church in 2015, Mr. Obama began to softly sing “Amazing Grace.” Can you imagine a greater contrast or a sterner rebuke to the broad grin and upturned thumb of our current president after the Walmart shooting this past summer in El Paso?
It is dispiriting to watch the wretched excesses of Mr. Trump’s slapstick presidency and the rabid audience he commands. But there may be an upside to his crude performance art. His relentless lies, impulsive acts and gassy pronouncements have emboldened American journalists and quickened their senses.
Mattel executives say they’re worried about girls developing “self-limiting beliefs,” resulting in a “dream gap” with boys.
So the giant toymaker rolled out an extensive line of “Career Dolls,” including Barbie pilots, firefighters, and robotic engineers, to inspire its young patrons. But there’s one career you won’t find in this line: the typical working woman on the Mattel payroll.
That median employee would be an Indonesian factory worker who earned just $5,489 in 2018. By contrast, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz took home $18.7 million — 3,408 times more than his line workers.
Talk about a dream gap.
Mattel is just one of 50 U.S. corporations that paid their CEO more than 1,000 times more than their typical employee last year, according to a new Institute for Policy Studies report.
I am not one of the nervous Nellies who believe that Democratic candidates shouldn’t dream big and pitch big, transformational ideas. I’m not one of those who believe that Democrats should negotiate with themselves, in advance of submitting a proposal, so that they present only incremental half measures in the name of practicality and perceived ability to implement.
“Dream smaller” is a dream killer. And, I believe, an election loser. “I have milquetoast policies that I can massage their way through a contemptuous Congress” is not a motivational message.
Moderate Democrats want to inch toward success; I’m open to the moonshots of the more progressive Democrats. […]
Start with your grandest ideas, and any eventual compromise is likely to end up in the middle; start with middling ideas, and your compromise will end up as right-lite.
That is not acceptable to me. […]
All that said, I still believe that the candidates with the biggest plans need to level with voters about how costly, painful and disruptive transformational changes are likely to be, at least in the short term.
When I saw Oprah interview Michelle Obama, Oprah asked how Michelle got over feeling intimidated sitting at big tables filled with smart, powerful men and Michelle said, Ã¢Â€ÂœYou realize pretty quickly that a lot of them arenÃ¢Â€Â™t that smart.Ã¢Â€Â I think about that quote every single day.
The climate crisis was everywhere and nowhere to be found in Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate. American foreign policy – and wars in the Middle East, especially – are deeply bound up in the politics of oil, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. The conflict in Syria discussed at length can be linked to historic droughts fueled by rising temperatures, which pushed many people off land they could no longer farm. The Wall Street banks Elizabeth Warren worked to regulate through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—an agency Joe Biden took credit for creating—have funneled $1.9tn into the fossil fuel industry since the adoption of the Paris agreement. And the billionaires Bernie Sanders hopes to eliminate have some of the largest carbon footprints on Earth.
Given that it’s the context in which all politics over the coming century will play out, ever-accelerating climate impacts can already be found in virtually every policy field brought up on stage last night. Several candidates—Sanders, most frequently—used questions about them as a bridge to talk about rising temperatures and a Green New Deal. Debate moderators with CNN and The New York Times just couldn’t be bothered to mention it. […]
After hosting a seven-hour town hall about the climate crisis several weeks back – inaccessible to anyone who didn’t have cable – CNN seems to have patted itself on the back for a job well done, having checked the box of having to talk about the potential end of human civilization. Devoting that much programming to an issue it hardly every discusses on air was laudable, but hardly a substitute for continuing to press candidates on how they plan to rapidly decarbonize the economy.
Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds will likely go down as the greatest American foreign policy disaster since the invasion of Iraq. While the cost, destruction, death toll and moral miasma of the invasion of Iraq are unparalleled, the Kurdish betrayal is uniquely bad in a key way: America’s imperialist misadventures against perceived enemies are sadly commonplace, but rarely have we abandoned a longtime ally in such a shameful manner. The repercussions of doing so will resonate to the benefit of America’s foes for decades to come. […]
We have to start asking who the president is working for, exactly. It’s not hyperbole to suspect that Trump may literally be compromised either by greed or blackmail, serving either as a knowing or unwitting asset of a hostile foreign power. Because nothing about this decision to betray the Kurds is on behalf of any American constituency.
Conservatives have long placed a higher priority on shaping the federal courts than their liberal adversaries. Demand Justice, a recently formed liberal group that focuses on judicial nominations, is trying to change that. On Tuesday, the organization unveiled its latest effort to influence the Democratic presidential candidates: a shortlist of almost three dozen potential Supreme Court nominees for them to draw upon, applying the same strategic thinking that organizations such as the Federalist Society has lent the Trump administration, to great effect.
Their list features 32 prominent liberal members of the legal community, only eight of whom currently hold judicial office. The rest are a diverse medley of litigators, legal scholars, civil servants, and elected officials. Many work for the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and other civil-rights-oriented legal groups. A few are already nationally prominent figures, such as The New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander, Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson, and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. It’s easy to imagine a future Democratic president nominating most of them to the federal bench in some capacity.
“While Democrats play by the rules, Republicans are shredding the rule book, and the result is a partisan Supreme Court that works for corporations and the Republican Party and against everyone else,” Christopher Kang, Demand Justice’s chief counsel, said in a statement. “If we want to restore balance to our courts, we need to stop shying away from the fight for them and instead give progressives something to fight for: judges who have been bold, progressive champions who have been on the front lines advancing the law for our values.”
PODCAST LISTENERS: There’s a new podcast platform in town, and the big news is: this one pays! RadioPublic pays podcast producers at $20 CPM for listens on their native app (available for iPhones & Androids), financed by pre- and post-roll ads they insert. Not a bad way to support the show, with somebody else’s money!
So if you’re a podcast listener, please consider downloading the RadioPublic app on your Android or iOS phone. Yes, you can still download directly from their site, or listen to the player embedded here at Daily Kos. But it’s listens in their app that count toward payment. And get this: listen to just three episodes in their app, and we earn a one-time, $1 “loyal listener” bonus.
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Nick Estes (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe) is assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico and author Our History is the Future Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance. At High Country News, he writes—The U.S. stole generations of Indigenous children to open the West:
Nearly 200 Native children lie buried at the entrance of the Carlisle Barracks in the “Indian Cemetery” — the first thing you see when entering one of the United States’ oldest military installations. It is a grisly monument to the country’s most infamous boarding school, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which opened in 1879 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and closed in 1918. Chiseled onto the white granite headstones, arranged in the uniform rows typical of veterans’ cemeteries in the U.S., are the names and tribal affiliations of children who came to Carlisle but never left. Thirteen gravestones list neither name nor tribe; they simply read “UNKNOWN.”
It’s a chilling scene that I was unprepared for when I visited last year on the 100-year anniversary of the school’s closing. And the experience was made even more jarring by the mandatory background check and armed checkpoint I faced just to visit the cemetery and the school’s remnants. The campus is an active military base, and the heightened security measures are due to post-9/11 precautions. The unquiet graves of these young casualties of the nation’s bloody Indian wars lie next to the Army War College, which trains officers for the nation’s longest war, the war on terror.
The cemetery was not supposed to be at the front entrance. It was an accident: In 1927, to make room for a parking lot, the Army dug up the children’s graves and relocated them behind the base — out of sight. Then, in 2001, the back of the base was turned into the entrance to satisfy new security protocols. Now, Carlisle’s deadly past is on full display.
Carlisle, and boarding schools like it, are remembered as a dark chapter in the history of the ill-conceived assimilation policies designed to strip Native people of their cultures and languages by indoctrinating them with U.S. patriotism. But child removal is a longstanding practice, ultimately created to take away Native land. Although Carlisle is located in the East, it played a key role in pressuring the West’s most intransigent tribes to cede and sell land by taking their children hostage.
A century after its closing, however, unanswered questions surround the Carlisle Indian School’s brutal legacy. Secrets once thought buried — why did so many children die there? — are coming to light. And the descendants of those interred are demanding more than just the return of their stolen ancestors.
“The past of Carlisle is really about justice,” says Ben Rhodd, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s tribal historic preservation officer. Since April 2016, his office has been pursuing the return of 11 children buried at the Carlisle Indian Cemetery. Even in death, Rhodd explains, Rosebud’s children remain “prisoners of war,” held at a military base and unable to return to their home on the Rosebud Reservation, children who were “hostages taken to pacify the leadership of tribes that would dare stand against U.S. expansion and Manifest Destiny.”
Rosebud is not alone in seeking justice for its young ancestors. The Northern Arapaho reclaimed its first children in 2017, and other tribes have followed suit. […]
“When you live under such an oligarchy, there is always some crisis or the other that takes priority over boring stuff such as healthcare and pollution. If the nation is facing external invasion or diabolical subversion, who has the time to worry about overcrowded hospitals and polluted rivers? By manufacturing a never-ending stream of crises, a corrupt oligarchy can prolong its rule indefinitely.” ~~Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018)
TWEET OF THE DAY
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At Daily Kos on this date in 2007—The SEIU chessboard:
John Edwards took a serious hit when he failed to garner the SEIU endorsement. Rather than a national endorsement, the union decided to give each local the power to make their own endorsements.
This means, most importantly, that the national SEIU’s significant war chest and its campaign operatives are out of commission in this primary. It also means members of locals can only campaign out of their state in places where those locals have endorsed the same candidate.
So the Iowa local endorsed Edwards. Yeay Edwards! Except that Iowa’s SEIU is small, with just 2,000 members. But neighboring Illinois has one of the biggest SEIU locals—100,000. Also nearby Indiana has another 70,000. Obama scored a coup by getting their endorsement. They’re off the table for the Iowa battle.
What about New Hampshire? 10,000 members, and another 70,000 in neighboring Massachusetts. But the regional mother lode is New York with 300,000 members. Edwards could sure use those guys and gals, but Hillary Clinton is the state’s senator, and they’re unlikely to piss off someone who might still be the state’s senator after the primary. So she’s the prohibitive favorite for the New York endorsement, again depriving Edwards of valuable boots on the ground and blunting the PR value of the endorsements he does get.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Greg Dworkin and Joan McCarter are back! The debate: It happened. Impeachment hearings roll on, with more witnesses than were invited. Trump insults several British people, because he’s a clod. ProPublica digs up his dual (duelling) sets of books.
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.”
Since losing his small child to gun violence, Pozner has been harassed by people who insist that the massacre was a hoax. In addition to this defamation suit, Pozner worked on getting conspiracy videos removed from social media, including Facebook. He’s also created a nonprofit in an effort to educate people and disprove these disturbing theories. All of this while mourning a six-year-old.
With the relentless swirl of conspiracy theories, as Pozner testified in court, he has been in fear for his surviving family’s safety, including one of his two daughters, who is Noah’s twin. Given that many “supporters” of Fetzer attended the trial, this fear is understandable.
Fetzer plans to appeal, saying the amount is “absurd.”
This is what Republican moderation looks like in 2019: releasing a list of 235,000 voters, 40,000 of whom shouldn’t be on the list at all, a month before they were to be purged from the Ohio voting rolls. That’s moderate by today’s standards because the public release of those names enabled advocacy groups and activists to figure out that nearly one in five of the people on the list shouldn’t have been there. Most Republicans wouldn’t offer any chance to fix their “mistakes.”
The Ohio secretary of state’s office had flagged 235,000 names as belonging to people who had died or moved or were inactive voters eligible to be purged (thanks, Supreme Court!), but first officials sent a spreadsheet to groups like the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. In the process, the director of the Ohio League of Women Voters discovered that she had been flagged as an inactive voter and was slated to be purged. She had voted three times in the previous year.
The mistakes include 20,000 active voters in a heavily Democratic county who were set to be knocked out as inactive. That was discovered by Steve Tingley-Hock, a volunteer who runs the Ohio Voter Project. He discovered thousands of people who shouldn’t be purged just by running the state’s purge spreadsheet against his own database of state voter data. “It’s a simple query if you have a database management system,” he told The New York Times. “A guy at his dining room table can figure this stuff out. It’s not rocket science.” And yet somehow the Ohio secretary of state’s office and county election officials had failed to do so.
”I hope that other states don’t look at what we’ve done and say, ‘We’re not doing it,’” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. Which … other Republican-controlled states already weren’t doing it, but it’s a safe bet that once Republicans in places like North Carolina and Florida realize that Ohio lost a chance to knock out a whole bunch of active voters in a blue county, they will be especially determined not to repeat that mistake.
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.