Must Read Op-Ed and Profiles


#201

The height of irresponsibility

Pandering for votes, House GOP leaders offer more tax cuts for the wealthy at a cost of billions.

Desperate to hold on to their majority in the House, GOP leaders are planning to bring up a new set of tax-cut proposals soon that would dole out more favors to certain constituents — especially those with higher-than-average incomes . It’s a nakedly political move, given that the measures haven’t a snowball’s chance in Hades of making it through the Senate. Plus, it’s even more fiscally irresponsible than last year’s deficit-exploding tax cuts .

Dubbed “ Tax Reform 2.0 ,” the package’s three pieces are a grab bag of proposed changes, most of them aimed at reducing the tax bills paid by selected individuals and businesses. One of the measures ( HR 6760 ) would take the temporary tax cuts for individuals and business owners that Congress adopted in December and make them permanent. A second bill ( HR 6757 ) would create new opportunities to shield savings from federal taxes. And a third ( HR 6756 ) would carve out a new tax shelter for start-up businesses.

This is the congressional equivalent of giving a sack of candy canes to a room full of hyperactive children whose teeth are falling out. The economy already is overstimulated, as the Federal Reserve’s moves to raise interest rates attest. The last thing the country needs is more fuel for the inflation that’s starting to rear its ugly head .

The bigger, albeit less imminent, problem is how sharply these measures could increase the federal budget deficit. The annual cost for each ranges from a few hundred million dollars to about $200 billion, and the price tag grows over time, amounting to an estimated $5 trillion over 20 years , according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. That’s on top of the annual deficits of $1 trillion or more that Republicans are now running in Washington.

It’s one thing for the Treasury to go deeply into the red when the economy tanks, tax revenue plummets and the demand for federal spending surges, as happened in the last recession. But once the economy recovers, there’s no more excuse for binging on red ink. By saying damn the deficits, full speed ahead, House Republicans are splurging on the current generation of taxpayers at the expense of the ones to come.

Beyond that, it’s too soon to measure the effects of the recently adopted tax changes for individuals and “pass-through” businesses (companies that pay no corporate tax, but instead are taxed through their owners’ individual returns). They won’t really register until early next year, when people start doing their tax returns for 2018.

Analysts have estimated that about two-thirds of taxpayers would pay less under the new law, but it’s hard to predict who the winners will be. That’s because the law capped or eliminated some tax deductions — most notably, the personal exemption and the deductions for state and local income taxes — which will raise many people’s taxable income, but it also increased the child tax credit, shielded more middle-income people from the dreaded alternative minimum tax, increased the standard deduction and cut rates. That’s why it’s well nigh impossible to tell yet whether the changes will work as intended, and why it’s idiotic even to contemplate extending them at this point.

But this whole exercise isn’t about improving the tax code. It is not even about changing it, since the measures can’t overcome the Democratic filibuster they would be certain to face in the Senate. It’s about reminding constituents a few weeks before November’s election that Republicans are the party of tax cuts. Perhaps that’s the only message Republicans can send, given how the GOP’s internecine fights have left it incapable of acting on immigration, infrastructure, healthcare and every other major issue voters care about.

Not that voters will necessarily welcome the reminder. The vast majority of the benefits from the new proposals, like the cuts approved in December, would flow to upper-income households.

When asked whether it’s responsible to increase the projected annual deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars per year when the workforce is aging and shrinking, Republicans respond that the money doesn’t belong to Washington, it belongs to the American people. Sorry, but that’s like a diner at a restaurant paying only half the check for the meal he’s just eaten. The American people are getting far more from the federal government — in terms of national security, public lands, benefit programs, research subsidies and so on — than they’re paying for. It’s time to stop running up the tab and start paying the bill.


#202

Sen Patrick Leahy (VT-D) going all out to not let Kavanaugh be put on the Supreme Court…Op Ed

By Patrick Leahy
September 13 at 5:35 PM

Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, represents Vermont in the U.S. Senate.

Last week, I uncovered new evidence that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh misled the Senate during his earlier hearings for the D.C. Circuit Court by minimizing and even denying his involvement in Bush-era controversies. I gave him the opportunity to correct his testimony at his hearing last week; he chose instead to double down.

I make no claim that Kavanaugh is a bad person. But when his prior confirmation to our nation’s “second highest court” was in jeopardy, he repeatedly misled the Senate when the truth might have placed that job out of reach.

But emails I released last week show that then-Republican Senate Judiciary Committee counsel Manuel Miranda regularly shared obviously ill-gotten, inside information with Kavanaugh, which Miranda often asked be kept secret.

That includes eight pages from a Democratic memo, taken verbatim from me, on a controversial nominee that Kavanaugh was asked to not forward. Emails also show that Miranda told Kavanaugh about a sensitive, private letter that I received on a nominee’s position on abortion — a letter Miranda described as “confidential,” requesting that “no action be taken.” They also show Miranda asked to meet privately at his home to give Kavanaugh “paper” on Democratic senators’ thinking.

Other emails describe meetings we were holding, materials staff were sharing internally, leads we were pursuing, what staffers were advising their senators with the notation “highly confidential,” a private letter I had sent to another senator, and even one from an associate of Miranda with the subject line “spying” with information from a Democratic “mole.”

Kavanaugh distanced himself from Pryor. He denied any part in vetting him, testifying that it was “not one that [he] worked on personally.” Yet emails suggest that Kavanaugh not only recommended Pryor for the seat, he also participated in a working group on the nomination, talked to a reporter about him and appears to have interviewed him.

Over four decades, I have voted for more Republican-nominated judges — including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — than the vast majority of Republicans. I do my best to evaluate each on the merits. Setting aside my concerns about what a Justice Kavanaugh would mean for the rights of Americans, I cannot support a nominee for a lifetime seat to our highest court who cast aside truth in pursuit of raw ambition. Unimpeachable integrity must never be optional.


#203

Some insights into whether hearing about the GDP or the employment rate gives us an accurate look at the economy. These stats are helpful only for the wealthy.

Excerpts

Over the course of history, financial crises — and the long downturns that follow — have reordered American society in all sorts of ways. One of those ways happens to involve the statistics that the government collects. Crises have often highlighted the need for new measures of human well-being.

The unemployment rate was invented in the 1870s in response to concerns about mass joblessness after the Panic of 1873. The government’s measure of national output, now called G.D.P., began during the Great Depression. Senator Robert La Follette, the progressive hero from Wisconsin, introduced the resolution that later led to the measurement of G.D.P., and the great economist Simon Kuznets, later a Nobel laureate, oversaw the first version.

Almost a century later, it is time for a new set of statistics. It’s time for measures that do a better job of capturing the realities of modern American life.

As a technical matter, the current batch of official numbers are perfectly accurate. They also describe some real and important aspects of the American economy. The trouble is that a handful of statistics dominate the public conversation about the economy despite the fact that they provide a misleading portrait of people’s lives. Even worse, the statistics have become more misleading over time.

The main reason is inequality. A small, affluent segment of the population receives a large and growing share of the economy’s bounty. It was true before Lehman Brothers collapsed on Sept. 15, 2008, and it has become even more so since. As a result, statistics that sound as if they describe the broad American economy — like G.D.P. and the Dow Jones industrial average — end up mostly describing the experiences of the affluent.

The stock market, for example, has completely recovered from the financial crisis, and then some. Stocks are now worth almost 60 percent more than when the crisis began in 2007, according to a inflation-adjusted measure from Moody’s Analytics. But wealthy households own the bulk of stocks. Most Americans are much more dependent on their houses. That’s why the net worth of the median household is still about 20 percent lower than it was in early 2007. When television commentators drone on about the Dow, they’re not talking about a good measure of most people’s wealth.

The unemployment rate has also become less meaningful than it once was. In recent decades, the number of idle working-age adults has surged. They are not working, not looking for work, not going to school and not taking care of children. Many of them would like to work, but they can’t find a decent-paying job and have given up looking. They are not counted in the official unemployment rate.
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All the while, the federal government and much of the news media continue to act as if the same economic measures that made sense decades ago still make sense today. Habit comes before accuracy.


#204

Senator Feinstein (CA-D) who is a ranking member of the Judicial Committee comes out with her NO op-ed piece on Kavanaugh. It was written before Christine B Ford’s (Kavanaugh accuser) name became public, and more of an outpouring of support and/or denials.

This hell-or-highwater Scotus win for the R’s seems like a clear mandate that they are going to stick with. The only ones who could possibly waver would be R Senators Collins/Murkowski who could be more pliable.

This new revelation on Kavanaugh’s record does NOT pass the smell test. And the #MeToo movement has given the situation some much needed public airing.

Op-Ed
Opinion

Dianne Feinstein: Why I’m voting ‘no’ on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination

By Dianne Feinstein

Sep 16, 2018 | 4:15 AM

Dianne Feinstein: Why I’m voting ‘no’ on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee entered the confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with concerns about his record and his views. After four days of testimony and questions, those concerns remain — and in some cases have increased considerably.
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Setting aside the serious problem that Republicans withheld millions of documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s years in the George W. Bush White House, our biggest apprehensions have to do with the very real-world implications of putting him on the Supreme Court.
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We already knew that Judge Kavanaugh held highly ideological views on the 2nd Amendment, women’s reproductive rights and the executive power of the presidency. Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony shed new light on these positions and on his loyalty to President Trump and his political agenda.

Supreme Court justices should not be an extension of the Republican Party. They must also have unquestionable character and integrity, and serious questions remain about Judge Kavanaugh in this regard, as indicated in information I referred to the FBI. For these and other reasons detailed below, I strongly oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Reproductive health

Judge Kavanaugh declined, more than a dozen times, to say that Roe vs. Wade was correctly decided and reiterated that he has no hesitation about using courts to deny women access to reproductive health care, including contraception.

Judge Kavanaugh also declined to distance himself from his dissent in Garza vs. Hargan, the case in which he denied a 17-year-old woman being held in an immigration detention center access to abortion care, even after she had jumped through all of the hoops Texas has in place.

The federal government subjected the young woman to harassment; forced her to go to a pregnancy crisis center, where she received unnecessary ultrasounds and was lectured on others’ religious beliefs; notified her abusive parents about her decision; and improperly interfered with her case before a Texas judge.

When arguing against that young woman’s rights, Judge Kavanaugh not only ignored Supreme Court precedent, he created additional burdens in an effort to delay her ability to end her pregnancy. By stating that his decision in her case did not run afoul of existing precedent, Judge Kavanaugh could not have made clearer his hostility toward Roe vs. Wade and the landmark 1992 ruling Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.

Partisan language

During last week’s hearing and in his past opinions, Judge Kavanaugh repeatedly employed the language of the far right, at times sounding more like a Republican politician than a conservative judge.

For instance, in justifying his extreme record on guns, Judge Kavanaugh adopted the language of the National Rifle Assn. and refused to acknowledge the devastation and havoc caused by guns. Instead, he pivoted to the NRA’s line about the need to “harden” schools. That phrase, code for arming teachers, was used by NRA President Wayne LaPierre two weeks after the Parkland massacre.

Judge Kavanaugh also used ideological language in his dissent in the Garza case, calling the prolonged process Jane Doe went through “abortion on demand.”
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Writing about the Hobby Lobby case, Judge Kavanaugh argued that requiring employers to provide contraception coverage to employees imposed a burden on their religious liberty — and ignored completely the burden that is imposed on women when their insurance fails to cover birth control. In testimony last week, Judge Kavanaugh went even further and used an inaccurate and political term for contraception, “abortion-inducing drugs,” yet another ideological phrase that contradicts medical evidence.

Judge Kavanaugh chooses his words carefully, which makes his reliance on extreme political language all the more troubling.

Judicial deference

While Judge Kavanaugh dodged questions about Roe vs. Wade and other issues, he talked extensively with Republicans about overturning the decades-old “Chevron doctrine” governing what courts should do when Congress passes a law with an ambiguous interpretation.

Chevron deference says that a federal court will defer to a federal agency’s views, on the logic that the agency has more expertise. It allows federal agencies to write the rules that protect consumers, clean air and water.

Although Justice John Paul Stevens’ opinion in Chevron has been cited in more than 15,000 judicial decisions, big business has been pushing to overturn it and hamstring the ability of federal agencies to write such rules.

At his hearing, Judge Kavanaugh gave every indication that he would undermine the Chevron doctrine, thereby siding with corporations that pumped money into his nomination fight.

Civil rights

Judge Kavanaugh demonstrated that, if confirmed, he would probably become the fifth vote to overturn the constitutionality of affirmative action plans, even though the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld them, most recently in 2016 when Justice Kennedy sided with the majority in Fisher vs. Texas.

While in the White House counsel’s office, Judge Kavanaugh advocated for “race neutral” programs that fail to account for race discrimination. In testimony, he would not say that he opposed such programs.

When pressed in the confirmation hearings on his support for voter ID laws, which have a disproportionate effect on low-income and minority voters, Judge Kavanaugh argued that Congress — not the courts — should enforce constitutional rights.

This flies in the face of the role that courts have historically played in protecting against majorities overrunning the rights and liberties of the American public. If the court had adopted this view, it probably would not have desegregated schools in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Misleading statements

Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly made misleading and at times false statements, in last week’s hearing and in past hearings.

Because of his evident partisanship, Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals was highly controversial. Newly released emails from his time in the White House counsel’s office now show that he went to great lengths to mislead senators about his work.

In 2004, Judge Kavanaugh said he had never received information stolen from Democrats by a Republican staffer, Manuel Miranda. However, emails now show that Judge Kavanaugh was in regular contact with Miranda, and that he did, in fact, receive stolen material. Asked about the new evidence, Judge Kavanaugh doubled down, arguing that it was common for the White House to receive information about Democrats’ strategy. This is simply not credible.

Judge Kavanaugh also downplayed his involvement in pushing two controversial judicial nominees, William Pryor and Charles W. Pickering Sr. Judge Kavanaugh claimed Pryor’s nomination to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was not one he had “handled” or “worked on personally,” and also that he had not “primarily handled” Pickering nomination’s to the 5th Circuit Court.

In fact, emails show that Judge Kavanaugh participated in a range of meetings and strategy sessions about both nominees. Judge Kavanaugh was involved in Pryor’s interview process and pitched positive opinion pieces about him to the Washington Post. He also drafted letters and prepared briefing binders for senators in support of Pickering.

Lack of transparency

More than 90% of the documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s years in the White House have been kept from the Senate and the public. It’s simply impossible to know what else is being hidden or covered up.

Coupled with Judge Kavanaugh’s own tendency to give misleading and false statements, this lack of transparency should motivate senators to oppose his nomination. With so many serious questions outstanding, Judge Kavanaugh should not be rewarded with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, is California’s senior U.S. senator and the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


#205

OK, so this isn’t a link to an editorial, I just need to editorialize myself after reading this tweet from our illustrious leader:

Sep 16, 2018 05:18:10 PM Best economic numbers in decades. If the Democrats take control, kiss your newfound wealth goodbye!

People are suffering and dying in North Carolina and this is how Trump addresses the nation?! When are his supporters going to wake up and understand who he is? If someone I supported spoke to me like this, I would immediately drop my support. :angry:


#206

After what happened in 2016, I’ve developed a healthy skepticism of polls, but still it’s encouraging to see these numbers. Onward to the midterms!

The 2018 midterm terrain looks a lot different now than it did at the start of the campaigns. Races that many expected to be close, aren’t. Candidates that were assumed to be safe now find themselves in fights. And the Democrats have been the biggest beneficiaries of the changes.

A look at the numbers shows how the field has tilted in the last year-and-a-half. . . . When the Cook Political Report did its first ratings, it looked as if the Democrats and Republicans were starting on relatively even ground, but the numbers look very different today.

Back in May, there were 12 seats held by the Republicans that looked competitive and there were 11 held by Democrats — those were seats that were ranked as “lean” toward their party or were considered even more in danger.

As of mid-September, there are 66 GOP-held seats that look competitive and only four Democratic seats in that category. . . .

The size of the shift here is truly remarkable . . .


#207

Yes…to that.

He alsos talks down…he fear mongers, and he is void of any real empathy or strategy to deal with others.

One-man-idiot-band


#208

Hillary comes out guns-a-blazing. I think it is time to step up and battle this leader and we’re seeing all the heavies coming out…Obama, GWB, Biden, and now Hillary.
She’s kept pretty tight lipped…and she’s seeing in real time all the damage that was done to her campaign. No more standing by for Hillary.

Ok…battle lines have been drawn a bit clearer. WOW :boom:

Trump and his cronies do so many despicable things that it can be hard to keep track. I think that may be the point—to confound us, so it’s harder to keep our eye on the ball. The ball, of course, is protecting American democracy. As citizens, that’s our most important charge. And right now, our democracy is in crisis.

I don’t use the word crisis lightly. There are no tanks in the streets. The administration’s malevolence may be constrained on some fronts—for now—by its incompetence. But our democratic institutions and traditions are under siege. We need to do everything we can to fight back. There’s not a moment to lose.

As I see it, there are five main fronts of this assault on our democracy.

First, there is Donald Trump’s assault on the rule of law.

Second, the legitimacy of our elections is in doubt.

Third, the president is waging war on truth and reason.

Fourth, there’s Trump’s breathtaking corruption.

Fifth, Trump undermines the national unity that makes democracy possible.

Hate speech isn’t “telling it like it is.” It’s just hate.

How did we get here?

Trump may be uniquely hostile to the rule of law, ethics in public service, and a free press. But the assault on our democracy didn’t start with his election. He is as much a symptom as a cause of what ails us. Think of our body politic like a human body, with our constitutional checks and balances, democratic norms and institutions, and well-informed citizenry all acting as an immune system protecting us from the disease of authoritarianism. Over many years, our defenses were worn down by a small group of right-wing billionaires—people like the Mercer family and Charles and David Koch—who spent a lot of time and money building an alternative reality where science is denied, lies masquerade as truth, and paranoia flourishes. By undermining the common factual framework that allows a free people to deliberate together and make the important decisions of self-governance, they opened the way for the infection of Russian propaganda and Trumpian lies to take hold. They’ve used their money and influence to capture our political system, impose a right-wing agenda, and disenfranchise millions of Americans.

Meanwhile, hyperpolarization now extends beyond politics into nearly every part of our culture.

The increasing radicalism and irresponsibility of the Republican Party, including decades of demeaning government, demonizing Democrats, and debasing norms, is what gave us Donald Trump.**

First, we’ve got to mobilize massive turnout in the 2018 midterms.

And we could finally see some congressional oversight of the White House.

When the dust settles, we have to do some serious housecleaning.

They also should not be exempt from ethics requirements and conflict-of-interest rules.

But even the best rules and regulations won’t protect us if we don’t find a way to restitch our fraying social fabric and rekindle our civic spirit.

When we think about politics and judge our leaders, we can’t just ask, “Am I better off than I was four years ago?” We have to ask, “Are we better off? Are we as a country better, stronger, and fairer?” Democracy works only when we accept that we’re all in this together.

In 1787, after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman on the street outside Independence Hall, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” That response has been on my mind a lot lately. The contingency of it. How fragile our experiment in self-government is. And, when viewed against the sweep of human history, how fleeting. Democracy may be our birthright as Americans, but it’s not something we can ever take for granted. Every generation has to fight for it, has to push us closer to that more perfect union. That time has come again.


#209

Clinton has nailed it. There are some things about this presidency that continue to stun me when I take the time to sit and think about them. At what other point in the history of our nation, has the President so relentlessly lied to the American public and actually waged a daily war on the truth? He doesn’t just bend the truth he crushes it. He’ll casually toss out a “fact” that is absolutely, verifiably wrong and, not only will he not retract it, he doubles down on it. This lie then becomes integral to the fabric of his base’s thinking. They absorb it, believe it, and act upon it.

Case in point: Trump claims Manafort worked for him for 49 days. Where, in the H did he get that number? It has no basis in reality. Yet if you ask a member of Trump’s base how long Manafort worked for him, that person will undoubtedly reply, “a month or two.” And indeed, that’s precisely the lie that Ann Coulter just perpetuated on Fox News.

Here are the facts followed by two videos that prove the President and his surrogates are flat out lying to us:

March 29, 2016 - Manafort joins Trump’s campaign

51 days pass

May 19, 2016 - Manafort promoted to chairman

93 days pass

August 19, 2016 - Manafort resigns

Total time on campaign: 144 days = 9 days short of 5 months

Lies Trump plants on June 15, 2018 (video below):

Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign.

What a total, flagrant lie! He was on the campaign for close to 5 months and for 3 months of that, he was the chairman.

[Manafort] worked for me, for what, 49 days or something?

Another flagrant lie. It was 144 days.

Lie Ann Coulter normalizes on Sept. 16, 2018 (video below):

[Manafort] was there [on Trump’s campaign] for a month or two.

And that’s how just one of the thousands of lies Trump tells becomes embedded in the folklore shared by his base.

See 0:20:

See 18:50:


#210

The best opinion I’ve heard all week comes from Senator Hirono of Hawaii. Click link for video, a must watch :point_down:


#211

CNN: The FBI investigated Clarence Thomas. It took 3 days.

There’s absolutely no reason to rush the vote on Kavanaugh. The Republicans stalled Obama’s Garland nomination for nearly eight months. Applying that schedule to this nomination gives us until March 2.

The FBI’s investigation of Thomas took only three days. It’s outrageous that the Republicans are fighting taking an additional week or two to do this right with Kavanaugh.

Note: The link at the top of this post connects to CNN’s excellent time line on the Thomas investigation, but since it’s part of a page of “live updates,” the link might change soon. With that in mind, I’ve copied the entire time line below.

Here’s how the FBI investigated Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas
From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

As Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers insist the FBI investigate her claims of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, here is a look back at how the FBI investigation into Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas came about.

  • Clarence Thomas underwent his initial hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in early September 1991.

  • Anita Hill says she spoke with the Judiciary Committee in “early September,” and that an FBI investigation was suggested to her on Sept. 20, 1991.

  • On Sept. 23, 1991, allegations of harassment were brought to the attention of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which immediately informed the White House, according to a statement from then-deputy press secretary Judy Smith.

  • Upon learning of the allegations, the White House “promptly directed the FBI to conduct a full, thorough and expeditious investigation,” according to the statement.

  • Three days later, on Sept. 26, 1991, the FBI completed its investigation, and a report was submitted to the White House and the Judiciary Committee. The White House deemed the allegations “unfounded.”

  • On Oct. 6, 1991, Nina Totenberg of NPR obtained a copy of the FBI report and reported on the allegations, the first time the public became aware of the story.

  • On Oct. 11, 1991, Hill begins her testimony during Thomas’ Senate confirmation hearing.

The fourth bullet is telling: “Upon learning of the allegations, the White House ‘promptly directed the FBI to conduct a full, thorough and expeditious investigation.’” So why doesn’t President Trump do the same? All he has to do is pick up the phone and give the direction. Based on experience, the investigation would be complete three days later.


#212

An excerpt from Greg Miller’s new book “The Apprentice”

Getting to 98 percent certainty

Trump’s admiration for the leader of Russia was inexplicable and never wavered after taking office. He praised the Russian leader, congratulated him, defended him, pursued meetings with him, and fought virtually any policy or punitive measure that might displease him.

A trained intelligence operative, Putin understood the power of playing to someone’s insecurities and ego. On cue, he reciprocated with frequent praise for the president he had sought to install in the White House.

In phone conversations with Trump, Putin would whisper conspiratorially, telling the U.S. president that it wasn’t their fault that they could not consummate the relationship that each had sought. Instead, Putin sought to reinforce Trump’s belief that he was being undermined by a secret government cabal, a bureaucratic “deep state.”

“It’s not us. We get it,” Putin would tell Trump, according to White House aides. “It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.”

It’s hard to imagine that even a master manipulator like Putin would have anticipated the full success of his operation. Not only had he sabotaged Hillary Clinton, but he had also helped install in the Oval Office someone who — by virtue of his disdain for democratic norms and volatile leadership — compounded the impact of the Russian campaign.

Preorder now. Due out in October.


#213

End run…possible.

Charles Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, seem determined to call a vote next week on the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, even in the face of this week’s sexual assault allegations against him.

Senate Republicans assume, correctly, that if they can hold the party line, his installation on the Supreme Court is a sure thing. This is certainly true — even if the Democratic caucus in the Senate holds firm against Mr. Kavanaugh, they simply lack the votes to block him. But the Republicans’ calculus contains a significant error — namely, the assumption that if Mr. Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, that’s the end of the discussion of whether he is fit to serve.

The Constitution does provide that federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, “shall hold their Offices during good Behavior.” The settled understanding of this phrase is that so-called Article III judges enjoy lifetime tenure. But the Constitution also makes both judicial and executive officers subject to impeachment. And, as it happens, the House of Representatives holds “the sole Power of Impeachment.” If the Democrats win back the House in November, they can exercise that power.

Impeachment proceedings in the House are investigative in nature and come with a full panoply of quasi-judicial powers, including aids to investigations, such as the power to subpoena witnesses to compel them to appear and testify (subject, of course, to constitutional privileges, if applicable, such as the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against self-incrimination).

If a simple majority of the House decided to proceed with impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee would be empowered to conduct a thorough and careful investigation of the sexual misconduct allegations that Professor Christine Blasey Ford has made against Mr. Kavanaugh involving a drunken sexual assault when both were high school students in suburban Washington, D.C.


#214

This is a great strategy – laying out a strong case for impeachment before Kavanaugh has even been confirmed. It’s bound to give some Republicans pause to consider: why confirm Kavanaugh when he might be booted from the court almost immediately? If that happened, the Republicans would be handing the seat to a more liberal judge (assuming Democrats take control of congress). Not a pretty scenario for the Right – so this might persuade some Republicans to pass on Kavanaugh and go back to the drawing board. :+1:


#215

Democrats are eating Republicans’ lunch when it comes to pre-existing conditions – and this is rapidly becoming the pivotal issue in many close races. Republicans have burned the electorate so many times on health care that voters no longer believe their empty promises. And with good reason.

Case in point: Tonight, during Trump’s rally in Las Vegas, he promised this: “Donald Trump and Republicans will protect patients with pre-existing conditions. We’re going to do that.” That is an absolute lie – you only need to look as far as the Politico piece above – it clearly documents how the administration is vigorously arguing in the courts that the ACA protections for pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional. Yet Trump stands up in front of thousands of people and tells them the bald-faced lie that he’s doing the exact opposite.

Voters are finally getting wise to Republicans’ relentless lies – especially in regards to health care – and this wariness is going to cost Republican candidates dearly in the coming elections.

And the Republicans’ duplicity gets even worse. They’ve been caught red-handed trying to pass a bill that purportedly protects the right to be covered for pre-existing conditions when it actually undermines those protections. See the bolded parts below for the details. Voters hate it when they find that politicians are trying to trick them – after all it’s downright insulting to be treated like an ignorant rube. These deceptive tactics are going to come back to haunt Republicans very soon.

Republicans are struggling to convince voters they will protect people with pre-existing conditions as Democrats trying to build a blue wave for November pound them for threatening to take away sick people’s health care. . . .

Polling shows heightened public concern over pre-existing conditions — 75 percent of voters in a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll said it’s “very important” to keep Obamacare’s insurance protections — and greater trust in Democrats to deal with the issue. The GOP’s most direct attempt to address the insurance protections — a recent Senate bill Republicans said would protect sick patients — backfired spectacularly after it quickly became clear the measure wouldn’t actually cover the pre-existing conditions it claimed to protect. The Trump administration’s support for a lawsuit in Texas that would gut the health care law also hasn’t helped the perception Republicans won’t protect patients with pre-existing conditions. . . .

Polls this summer showed that voters trust congressional Democrats more than Republicans on health care issues, and when it comes to pre-existing conditions, Democrats hold a 2-to-1 advantage, a Morning Consult/POLITICO poll found last week.

That margin has Democrats across the country running confidently on Obamacare for the first time since its passage in 2010, even in swing districts and deep-red strongholds still skeptical of the health care law. . . .

The Trump administration this summer added fuel to Democrats’ health care offensive when it joined part of a 20-state lawsuit aimed at eliminating Obamacare. While the administration isn’t asking the courts to throw out the entire health care law, it’s challenging provisions that ban insurers from rejecting coverage or charging more based on patients’ pre-existing conditions. . . .

Sensing their disadvantage on the issue, 10 Senate Republicans last month sponsored a bill that would force insurers, who routinely rejected patients with pre-existing conditions before Obamacare, to accept those patients. There was one major loophole, though: Insurers didn’t have to cover those conditions. In other words, an insurer would have to sell a health plan to someone with cancer, but it wouldn’t have to actually cover cancer treatment. [Note from KJ: WTF :interrobang:]

“It’s a cruel hoax and a fraud,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who’s in a very tight re-election race against a Republican state attorney general who is part of the anti-Obamacare lawsuit. “How do you have a pre-existing conditions bill that says we’re going to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but not for their pre-existing condition? I mean, it’s embarrassing."

P.S. If you want confirm the lie about pre-existing conditions that Trump told this supporters in Las Vegas tonight, it’s here at 3:19:30 – but then that means you’d have to listen to him so maybe you just want to take my word for it. :wink:


#216

Awful…bait and switch.

WTF :roll_eyes:WTF :roll_eyes: WTF :roll_eyes:


#217

Powerful message from Ronald Reagan’s daughter…perhaps the R’s might take note of this recollection.

By Patti Davis
September 21 at 3:53 PM

Patti Davis is the author, most recently, of the novel “The Earth Breaks in Colors” and the daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

Roughly 40 years ago, I showed up at a prominent music executive’s office for an appointment that had been scheduled suspiciously late in the workday. But I wasn’t suspicious. I was instead eager to try to place some of my original songs with artists he represented. One of my songs had appeared on the Eagles album “One of These Nights,” and I was hoping to turn songwriting into a career.

I brought along a cassette tape of my material, but I don’t remember what the executive said about the songs. Nor do I recall what we talked about. I remember the sky turning dark outside the window behind his desk. I remember sensing that people had left the building and we were there alone. I remember his face, his hair and what he was wearing. When he pulled a vial of cocaine out of his desk drawer and started chopping up lines on a small mirror, I’m 90 percent sure I declined his offer to do some with him, not because I didn’t do drugs — I definitely did in those years — but because I was starting to feel uncomfortable. My memory of the discomfort is sharp and clear, but my memory of declining the coke is, as I said, about 90 percent.

What happened next, though, is indelible. He crossed the room. There was a dark-green carpet, but his footsteps seemed loud, hard. He was against me, on top of me — so quickly — with his hands under my skirt and his mouth on mine, that I froze. I lay there as he pushed himself inside me. The leather couch stuck to my skin, made noises beneath me. His breath smelled like coffee and stale bread. He didn’t use a condom. I remember leaving afterward, driving home, the night around me glittered with streetlights and alive with people out at dinner or bars. I felt alone, ashamed and disgusted with myself. Why didn’t I get out of there? Why didn’t I push him off? Why did I freeze?

I don’t remember what month it was. I don’t remember whether his assistant was still there when I arrived. I don’t remember whether we said anything to each other when I left his office.

I never told anyone for decades — not a friend, not a boyfriend, not a therapist, not my husband when I got married years later.

It doesn’t surprise me one bit that for more than 30 years, Christine Blasey Ford didn’t talk about the assault she remembers, the one she accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of committing.

It’s important to understand how memory works in a traumatic event. Ford has been criticized for the things she doesn’t remember, like the address where she says the assault happened, or the time of year, or whose house it was. But her memory of the attack itself is vivid and detailed. His hand over her mouth, another young man piling on, her fear that maybe she’d die there, unable to breathe. That’s what happens: Your memory snaps photos of the details that will haunt you forever, that will change your life and live under your skin. It blacks out other parts of the story that really don’t matter much.

Ford wants the FBI to investigate so that some of the details she doesn’t remember can be established. It’s a brave request. Perhaps the aging men who are poised to interrogate her, unless they hide behind surrogates, should pause for a moment and think about the courage it takes for a woman to say: Here is my memory. It has haunted me for decades. It changed my life. You need to know about it now because of what is at stake for this country.

Requesting an investigation into the incident isn’t a big ask. Unless they just want her to go away. Which is, by the way, one reason that women are scared to speak up.


#218

Sounds like the right quote for the upcoming He-Said-She-Said testimony

We haven’t forgotten our history. But we still seem doomed to repeat it.

> WASHINGTON — The Capitol is covered in mud.

Again

Somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind, I can recall a time when the sight of that white dome thrilled me. As a teenager, working for a New York congressman, I felt privileged to walk the same marble corridors where some of America’s most revered leaders had walked.

I can also vaguely remember a time, back before the travesty of Bush v. Gore, when I felt awe walking past the Supreme Court. And if I try really hard, I can summon the lost sensation of pride in covering the White House.

But all that is utterly changed.

It was wrenching to watch the futile Iraq war unfold, with its tragic echoes of Vietnam. It is jarring to think I could live through three sagas of impeachment. But I most dread the rhyming history we are plunged into now: the merciless pummeling of a woman who dares to obstruct the glide path of a conservative Supreme Court nominee.

It is unnerving to think how far women have come, only to find ourselves dragged back to the same place.

It has been almost exactly 27 years since the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, and we are still defensively explaining — including to our troglodyte president — why women do not always tell the authorities about verbal and physical sexual assaults, why they bury episodes or try to maneuver past them.

We are still watching a bookish university professor from the West, who tried to anonymously report an alleged blight on the character of a man about to ascend to a lifetime of power, get smeared as a demanding, mixed-up, uptight, loony fantasist.

Like Eve with the apple, she schemed to “come out of the night like a missile and destroy a man,” as Republican Senator Alan Simpson said of Hill.

We are still watching on the Republican side of the panel an all-white male chorus — two of these singers were there tormenting Hill three decades ago — plotting to win at all costs.

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I didn’t sleep the week of the Hill-Thomas hearings. At first, I was feverishly trying to figure out what was true in their two diametrically opposite stories.

But it quickly became apparent that Thomas was lying.

His friends and supporters had talked publicly about how, at Yale Law School, Thomas was a regular patron of X-rated movie houses and enjoyed describing the porn to friends afterward.

But that was not introduced into testimony by either the Republicans or the Democrats. Instead, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch — who is still on the Judiciary Committee at age 84 for this new kangaroo court — suggested that a man as esteemed as Judge Thomas could not possibly know the language of porn, that anyone who talked like that was “a psychopathic sex fiend or a pervert.”

Hatch preposterously accused Hill of scavenging her testimony about Long Dong Silver from an old law case, and her story about Thomas asking “Who put pubic hair on my Coke?” from the novel, “The Exorcist.”

No one was trying to figure out the truth or do what was best for the court and the country. Republicans only cared about ramming through a right-wing justice. Even though they were the majority, Democrats were cowed by Thomas wrapping himself in the charged symbolism of the civil rights movement he had always scorned. And they were gun-shy after criticism of their initial bungling of Hill’s revelation. (Does that ring a bell?) Joe Biden, the committee chairman, canceled the testimony of Hill’s backup witnesses from work.

Teddy Kennedy was mute, hobbled by his own past sins. The feminists were less concerned with Hill’s humiliation than with using her as a bludgeon to block a justice who would be devastating on women’s rights.

After a three-day F.B.I. investigation, the White House declared Hill’s charges “unfounded.” Then agents were pressured by Republicans into providing affidavits suggesting that Hill had embellished her testimony, as Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson wrote in “Strange Justice.”

Anita Hill was alone, in a hearing room full of Republican liars and Democratic cowards, getting ripped apart as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” in the immortal words of Kavanaugh pal turned Hillary henchman David Brock; and this in front of her elderly parents, farmers from Oklahoma.

Post #MeToo, the Republicans know they have to be more careful on the surface. Their wet work to discredit Christine Blasey Ford will have to be outsourced and done mostly outside the hearing room; consider the sordid, outrageous attempt by Ed Whelan — a friend of Brett Kavanaugh’s who heads a prominent conservative think tank on, ahem, ethics — to throw suspicion on a look-alike classmate at Georgetown Prep. Backed by the Swift Boat p.r. slimers, as Politico reported, Whelan even tweeted a floor plan to the house the student grew up in.

Dr. Blasey is dealing with some demonic forces not in play with Professor Hill: a vicious partisan internet that drove her out of her house and being discredited not merely by the White House but personally by a president who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault, who has consistently defended predators such as Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and Roy Moore, and who is advised by the same man who enabled Ailes’s loathsome behavior at Fox News.

We haven’t forgotten our history. But we still seem doomed to repeat it.


#219

The primary reason, I believe, that the Republicans are trying to ram through Kavanaugh’s confirmation is that with every passing day more of the truth about his past is coming to light – revelations that disqualify him from sitting on the Supreme Court.

Natasha Bertrand of The Atlantic is reporting on an additional motivation for Republicans to rush the process. A case will soon be heard before the SC that could free Trump to pardon criminals of state crimes if those crimes were also tried at the federal level.

To see the impact this could have, consider a hypothetical case. Suppose at some point, Donald Trump Jr. is convicted of a federal crime – Trump might pardon him, but currently, those who want to see justice served have a fall back position: Trump Jr. could be convicted at the state level and Trump would be unable to pardon those convictions. This case could change all that and allow Trump’s co-conspirators to escape scot-free on the Trump pardon train. And Trump might even try leveraging an SC ruling in his favor to pardon himself at the federal and state levels. Hence, the Republicans are anxious to place a Trump-friendly judge on the SC before this case is heard.

It’s interesting to note that allowing the President to pardon crimes at the state level flies in the face of states’ rights. The Republicans make a lot of noise about protecting states rights until it goes against their interests. Another case in point is Republicans’ opposition to the states’ rights to regulate marijuana as they see fit.

A key Republican senator has quietly weighed in on an upcoming Supreme Court case that could have important consequences for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The Utah lawmaker Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed a 44-page amicus brief earlier this month in Gamble v. United States, a case that will consider whether the dual-sovereignty doctrine should be put to rest. The 150-year-old exception to the Fifth Amendment’s double-jeopardy clause allows state and federal courts to prosecute the same person for the same criminal offense. . .

Within the context of the Mueller probe, legal observers have seen the dual-sovereignty doctrine as a check on President Donald Trump’s power: It could discourage him from trying to shut down the Mueller investigation or pardon anyone caught up in the probe, because the pardon wouldn’t be applied to state charges. Under settled law, if Trump were to pardon his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, for example—he was convicted last month in federal court on eight counts of tax and bank fraud—both New York and Virginia state prosecutors could still charge him for any crimes that violated their respective laws. . . . If the dual-sovereignty doctrine were tossed, as Hatch wants, then Trump’s pardon could theoretically protect Manafort from state action.


#220

This is what the R Senate Judiciary committee also represents…and Brett will lie and contort the facts to claim that power that they want to grant him. Old Boys club at work here.

This is not how we popularly talk about sexual assault, usually the domain of the fumblings and feelings and misunderstandings that obfuscate the motivations — the highly logical motivations — of abusers, assaulters, and harassers who believe the world owes them deference and submission**. But there it is: sexual assault is about the reinforcement and consolidation of power, and two men are more powerful than one. So what can we deduce about Kavanaugh’s fitness for the Supreme Court, knowing this?**

Justice — true justice — is about diffusing power. This is why narratives about reclaiming America and rhetoric around law and order play so well in a political moment when progress has begun knocking at the door of the boys’ club. I imagine the boys inside parting the curtains, peering outside, talking about back doors and panic rooms, just in case.

I don’t believe that Brett Kavanaugh wants to make the world a more just place. I believe he wants to reinforce and consolidate power. Because he has done it before, and because it is, in the darkest and most disturbing ways, the logical thing for a boy like him to do.

https://www.texasobserver.org/brett-kavanaugh-and-the-terrifying-logic-of-the-boys-club/