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While teachers struggle, billionaire education secretary's security costs to hit nearly $20 million

Sure, American’s teachers often have to work two or even three jobs just to make ends meet while education budgets nationwide are under attack from Republican legislatures. But when it comes to security for Betsy DeVos, no expense is spared, even as she co
Daily Kos

While teachers struggle, billionaire education secretary's security costs to hit nearly $20 million

Sure, American’s teachers often have to work two or even three jobs just to make ends meet while education budgets nationwide are under attack from Republican legislatures. But when it comes to security for Betsy DeVos, no expense is spared, even as she comes from one of the wealthiest families in the U.S., with an estimated net worth in the neighborhood of $5.4 billion.  The U.S. Marshals Service has been tasked with protecting Betsy DeVos, ever since a couple of protesters tried to block her from entering a school back in early 2017. More from NBC News about the unusual arrangement with the U.S. Marshals.  While it remains unclear who specifically made the request, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions granted the protection on February 13, 2017, a few days after DeVos was heckled and blocked by a handful of protesters from entering the Jefferson Academy, a public middle school in Washington. DeVos was confirmed as education secretary on February 7 of that year. [...] The cost of security provided to DeVos was $5.3 million in fiscal year 2017 and $6.8 million for fiscal year 2018, according to the Marshals Service — an amount that is ultimately reimbursed by the Education Department. The estimated cost for fiscal year 2019 is $7.74 million. It’s infuriating that taxpayers are paying such a hefty fee based on a couple of hecklers in February 2017. So much for fiscal conservatism, amirite? The U.S. Marshals and the Department of Justice refuse to elaborate on any other threats to DeVos, if any. And with all of that expensive security, you’d think she was criss-crossing the nation. Nope, she’s really hardly been out to our schools at all. After receiving the Marshals' protection, DeVos spent less than 4 percent of her time visiting traditional public schools in the school year that began in September 2017.[...] Yes, people were angry (and still are) that DeVos apparently bought a cabinet position after dumping $200 million into Republican candidates, with the long-term goal of privatizing our public schools. Yes, people are angry that DeVos has, time and time again, paved the way for corporations to profit from our schools and our children. And yes, DeVos has rolled back protections for our most vulnerable—LGBTQ students and sexual assault survivors. But, does she really need a round-the-clock security team while mostly hanging out in Washington, D.C.? In the end, the idea that Republicans are fiscally conservative is as it has always been—a complete myth. 

This multi-city network connects immigrants with legal help, and now it's hoping to get bigger

A groundbreaking initiative connecting immigrants facing deportation with legal assistance has had extraordinary effects all over the U.S., and now the program is seeking to expand to protect even more families. A dozen cities and counties are part of th
Daily Kos

This multi-city network connects immigrants with legal help, and now it's hoping to get bigger

A groundbreaking initiative connecting immigrants facing deportation with legal assistance has had extraordinary effects all over the U.S., and now the program is seeking to expand to protect even more families. A dozen cities and counties are part of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Safety and Fairness for Everyone (SAFE) Cities Network, which aids immigrants with attorneys. Unlike criminal court, immigrants in immigration court are not guaranteed representation if they can’t afford it. Looking to change this, Vera announced during a conference in Denver this week that “it was seeking proposals from cities and counties to join” its network. “Who’s being served by this program?” Vera tweeted. “On average, SAFE clients have lived in the US for more than a decade. 11 percent of them have lived here for 30 years. They have entrenched ties to their communities, where they've long been active members.” Atlanta, Austin, Columbus, and Baltimore are part of the network, with Denver most recently joining and setting aside “$385,000 for an immigrant defense fund, which will be divided among four nonprofit groups,” The Washington Post reported. The administration has continued to pad up its immigration enforcement numbers by arresting immigrants with no criminal record at all, making the initiative’s work all the more important. “More than a third of clients (39 percent) came to the United States as children, arriving before the age of 18,” Vera said. “Many SAFE clients (44 percent) are part of mixed-status families, composed of family members with different citizenship statuses.”  “There is no greater responsibility that I have as mayor than to keep all residents of Denver, undocumented or not, safe and secure and when we have challenging language that comes out of Washington that threatens that very covenant that we have with all of our residents it makes it doubly difficult for us to help people feel safe in their city,” said Mayor Michael Hancock. The SAFE Network is accepting proposals here.

Suspected Russian NRA operative reportedly ready to spill the beans in exchange for plea deal

Earlier this summer, Russian citizen Maria Butina was arrested by the United States Government and charged with being a Russian intelligence asset working to influence American politics. Butina was the head of a small Russian version of the NRA called The R
Daily Kos

Suspected Russian NRA operative reportedly ready to spill the beans in exchange for plea deal

Earlier this summer, Russian citizen Maria Butina was arrested by the United States Government and charged with being a Russian intelligence asset working to influence American politics. Butina was the head of a small Russian version of the NRA called The Right to Bear Arms (cute), and was connected with American NRA officials, dubious banking interests, and GOP political operators. On Friday, NPR reported that the U.S. attorney’s office for Washington, D.C., is in talks with Ms. Butina’s counsel, according to court filings.  Torshin, then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Butina Her lawyers have said she is simply a naive young woman who was «jabbering» about her efforts to influence U.S. politicians. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the filing because the case remains pending.

Open thread for night owls: Despite the statistics, 'the American commonwealth is ... impoverished'

Jacob Bacharach at TruthDig writes—The Egregious Lie Americans Tell Themselves: In September 2016, the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh caught on fire. Originally built in 1928 and last renovated in 1982, the bridge carries more than 50,000 vehicles a day an
Daily Kos

Open thread for night owls: Despite the statistics, 'the American commonwealth is ... impoverished'

Jacob Bacharach at TruthDig writes—The Egregious Lie Americans Tell Themselves: In September 2016, the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh caught on fire. Originally built in 1928 and last renovated in 1982, the bridge carries more than 50,000 vehicles a day and serves as a main commuter link between the city’s central business district and its populous southern suburbs. Long in a state of questionable repair, it had been an object of particular concern after the spectacular and deadly collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis in 2007. Pennsylvania had—and still has—one of the highest percentages of “structurally deficient” bridges in the nation, and the prospect of a failure of the Liberty Bridge, whose main span is nearly 45 feet above the Monongahela River, was terrifying to contemplate. Nevertheless, it took six years after the I-35W disaster for Pennsylvania’s perennially Republican state legislature to pass a transportation spending bill to free up repair funds. In the interim, increasingly drastic weight restrictions had been imposed in order to prevent, or at least mitigate against, a Liberty Bridge failure or collapse. Even after legislative approval, funding delays pushed the start of the project to 2015, and it was expected to last 30 months. The blaze that engulfed the bridge burned so hot it buckled one of the main support beams, and an investigation determined that the contractor had failed to follow proper fire safety protocols. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined it several thousand dollars. It faced a more substantial penalty of $3 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, but then the PennDOT decided to simply waive the fine. There’s a verbal tic particular to a certain kind of response to a certain kind of story about the thinness and desperation of American society; about the person who died of preventable illness or the Kickstarter campaign to help another who can’t afford cancer treatment even with “good” insurance; about the plight of the homeless or the lack of resources for the rural poor; about underpaid teachers spending thousands of dollars of their own money for the most basic classroom supplies; about train derailments, the ruination of the New York subway system and the decrepit states of our airports and ports of entry. “I can’t believe in the richest country in the world. …” This is the expression of incredulity and dismay that precedes some story about the fundamental impoverishment of American life, the fact that the lived, built geography of existence here is so frequently wanting, that the most basic social amenities are at once grossly overpriced and terribly underwhelming, that normal people (most especially the poor and working class) must navigate labyrinths of bureaucracy for the simplest public services, about our extraordinary social and political paralysis in the face of problems whose solutions seem to any reasonable person self-evident and relatively straightforward. It is true that, as measured by GDP, or by the size of the credit and equity markets, or even just by the gaudy presence of our Googles, Amazons and Apples, the United States is the greatest machine for the production of money in the modern history of the world. But this wealth is largely an abstraction, a trick of the broad and largely meaningless aggregations of numbers that makes up most of what the business pages call “economics.” The American commonwealth is shockingly impoverished. Ask anyone who’s compared the nine-plus-hour train ride from Pittsburgh to New York with the barely two-hour journey from Paris to Bordeaux, an equidistant journey, or who’s watched the orderly, accurate exit polls from a German election and compared them with the fizzling, overheating voting machines in Florida. [...] TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES QUOTATION “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power.”  ~~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1738 TWEET OF THE DAY xThe bottom line is that in Georgia the will of the people almost certainly isn't represented by the outcome, and in Florida we will never know. Voter suppression works. Which is exactly what the Roberts majority wanted to ensure.— Laurence Lewis (@TurkanaDK) November 16, 2018 BLAST FROM THE PAST On this date at Daily Kos in 2016—Schumer: Ready and willing to work with Trump administration? Really? Mitch McConnell, 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president. […] Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.” Chuck Schumer, 2016: “When we can agree on issues, then we’re going to work with him,” Schumer told reporters. “But I’ve also said to the president-elect, on issues where we disagree, we expect a strong and tough fight. And that’s how the relationship is going to be.” See any problems there? Take a page from the man who put you in this position, Chuck. Listen to Harry Reid: So I say to Donald Trump, take responsibility. Rise to the dignity of the office of the president of the United States instead of hiding behind your Twitter account, and show America that racism, bullying, and bigotry have no place in the White House or in America. That's how you deal with Trump, not by pretending this is just business as usual in D.C. and this is a normal president you make deal with. You fight. You fight to protect the people this election has put in harm’s way. You don’t walk into this with the white flag and olive branch already extended. LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE

20.1 million more people have health coverage with the ACA, let's keep that going

The Centers for Disease Control confirm that the Affordable Care Act is still a big fucking deal. Since 2010, 20.1 million people have gained health insurance. That number will increase soon into the new year when Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah expand Medicaid. E
Daily Kos

20.1 million more people have health coverage with the ACA, let's keep that going

The Centers for Disease Control confirm that the Affordable Care Act is still a big fucking deal. Since 2010, 20.1 million people have gained health insurance. That number will increase soon into the new year when Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah expand Medicaid. Expansion will help offset the thousands that Arkansas and other states are kicking off the program with work requirements. That's a fight we can take on with a new Democratic House and in the next two years of fighting Trump. Clearly, Arkansas and other Republican states are having their last gasps against Medicaid. That bad news aside, the ACA is still going strong and can be strengthened even further with a robust enrollment this fall. From now until December 15 (except in a handful of states*), it's open enrollment time. There are places to get information and assistance.  The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its subsidy calculator to help you or people you’re helping figure out how much they could be paying for premiums as well as what financial assistance is available based on household income, family size, ages of family members, and zip code. The calculator also helps consumers determine whether they could be eligible for Medicaid. The tool is embedded here below the fold for you to play around with. A Spanish-language version of the calculator is also available. Of course KFF has more for you, including a searchable collection of more than 300 Frequently Asked Questions about open enrollment, the marketplaces and the ACA; everything from eligibility for subsidies to requirements for health coverage and information about health plans offered through state ACA marketplaces. This year’s FAQ includes information on the 2019 repeal of the individual mandate tax penalty and has a new section on short-term health insurance policies. More than 150 of the FAQs in the collection are also available in Spanish. In addition, there are these sites: Get Covered Connector from Young Invincibles and Get America Covered. They have resources to connect you—or whoever you might be assisting—with someone nearby to walk you through the process in person. It’s a great time to do it. Beat the holiday rush and rub Trump’s and the Republicans’ noses in the continued existence of Obamacare. You know where to go, right? Healthcare.gov.

Democrats represent American economies of the future while many GOP districts lag

America's politics aren't the only thing that's polarized, so are America's economies. The growing divide between the country's more economically vibrant and diverse areas and it's less dynamic monolithic regions is another factor in what's driving national p
Daily Kos

Democrats represent American economies of the future while many GOP districts lag

America's politics aren't the only thing that's polarized, so are America's economies. The growing divide between the country's more economically vibrant and diverse areas and it's less dynamic monolithic regions is another factor in what's driving national political divisions. CNBC's John Harwood writes: Republicans represent the smaller, fading segment, with less-educated, more-homogenous work forces reliant on traditional manufacturing, agriculture and resource extraction. Democrats represent the larger, growing one, fueled by finance, professional services and digital innovation in diverse urban areas. If those broad generalizations sound a little absolute, it's because they mostly are that absolute. Check out this chart showing the top 20 GDP-contributing districts are all represented by Democrats now.

Racist Kentucky murder suspect slapped with federal charges in grocery store shooting

The Kentucky Kroger shooting suspect now faces three hate-crime charges and three firearms charges, courtesy of a federal grand jury in Louisville, the Associated Press reports. U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman said Gregory Bush is charged with killing two pe
Daily Kos

Racist Kentucky murder suspect slapped with federal charges in grocery store shooting

The Kentucky Kroger shooting suspect now faces three hate-crime charges and three firearms charges, courtesy of a federal grand jury in Louisville, the Associated Press reports. U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman said Gregory Bush is charged with killing two people based on their race and attempting to kill a third person based on his race. Bush also was indicted on three firearms charges. Police said Bush walked into a Kroger grocery store with a .40-caliber handgun on Oct. 24 and shot one person, and then killed another in the parking lot before exchanging fire with an armed man before fleeing. Bush, 51, was previously indicted in Jefferson County on October 31 on two counts of murder, one count of criminal attempted murder and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. All charges are related to the Oct. 24 murders of Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones, and the attempted murder of survivor Dominic Rozier, who engaged Bush outside of the grocery store. Bush is white; all three victims are black.

Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Blue Wave FRIDAY!

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE… Late Night Snark: Blue Wave Getting Bluer & Wavier Edition «The incoming class of freshman Democrats is being called the most diverse ever. And the Republicans have also welcomed their most diverse group ever. The
Daily Kos

Cheers and Jeers: Rum and Blue Wave FRIDAY!

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE… Late Night Snark: Blue Wave Getting Bluer & Wavier Edition «The incoming class of freshman Democrats is being called the most diverse ever. And the Republicans have also welcomed their most diverse group ever. They have old white guys, they've got young white guys, they got bald white guys, they got balding white guys, they got white guys with hair… so many different types of white guys.» ---Trevor Noah «More women won their elections and are now going to Congress than ever before in history. In response, Republicans were like, 'This is not what we meant when we said a woman's place is in the house.'» ---James Corden «Y'know who's not enjoying last Tuesday's elections? The guy who lost: Donald Trump. Sources say, 'Stung by the midterms and nervous about Mueller, Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment. Yes. Trump is ending his larval stage, and in just a few weeks he will emerge as a hideous race-baiting butterfly.» ---Stephen Colbert And, because I love you...bonus tweet! «Yesterday was Veterans Day. 'Thank you for your service,' said Trump to Colonel Sanders.» ---Seth Meyers «Just hours after Trump said the White House was a great place to work, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his resignation. It makes sense that he's leaving now. Santa needs him to start making toys at the North Pole. » ---Jimmy Fallon Come on down and stick your toes in the kiddie pool. We filled it with Palmolive---it softens piggies while you do blogging. Your west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Nothing says the holidays like a Trump border wall tantrum shutting down government

Lawmakers are headed out for a week of Thanksgiving celebration with, or avoiding, their families. Some will be licking their wounds, some will be compiling their subpoena lists, and all of them will be dreading the two weeks of work they'll face on their ret
Daily Kos

Nothing says the holidays like a Trump border wall tantrum shutting down government

Lawmakers are headed out for a week of Thanksgiving celebration with, or avoiding, their families. Some will be licking their wounds, some will be compiling their subpoena lists, and all of them will be dreading the two weeks of work they'll face on their return, not knowing if the orange behemoth in the Oval Office is going to shut down government or not. As of now, he's not saying. Republican leaders met with Trump Thursday to talk government funding. Much of the appropriations have been completed for the coming year, but not all, so a partial shutdown is still in the offing. Maybe even possible. Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) was in the meeting and says Trump was noncommittal when it came to keeping government open or funding for his precious border wall. That might be because they avoided the question. «He didn't say, 'I'm going to keep the government open.' We didn't ask him that question,» Shelby told reporters. «We talked about avoiding a shutdown. . . . He seemed to agree with that.» Trump wants $5 billion, Democrats have agreed to $1.6 billion. At least, Senate Democrats, with Chuck Schumer at the helm agreed to that. House Democrats, poised to take over in January and whose votes are going to be necessary in this spending bill, might have an entirely different goal in mind now. Like maybe forcing a vote to protect the Mueller investigation before they fund the government. While he might not have said one way or the other in that meeting with congressional leaders, Trump told the Daily Caller in that unhinged interview that he's certainly open to shutting down. «I'll have to see how it plays out. But I may very well be willing to shut down the government,» Trump said. «I think it's horrible what's happening and, you know, building the wall, it's in smaller stages, we can build it very quickly.» If the Mouth of Sauron Trump has any insight, Trump's ready to take his searing rage out on us all, and is egging him on. Kellyanne Conway went on his favorite show, Fox & Friends, to report to the minions that he's «keeping all options open,» and that «I don’t know if there's anything he [Trump] has been more explicit or consistent on in the last three and a half years.» And Congress need to do it because «they have failed to meet the president's modest demands,» on immigration. Like shutting immigration down. Buckle up. Trump's ready to take us all hostage.

Stacey Abrams ends bid to be Georgia governor but threatens suit over Kemp's 'gross mismanagement'

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams ended her hard-fought gubernatorial bid Friday against GOP opponent Brian Kemp, but she threatened to bring a lawsuit over Kemp's «gross mismanagement» of state voting laws in his capacity as secretary of state
Daily Kos

Stacey Abrams ends bid to be Georgia governor but threatens suit over Kemp's 'gross mismanagement'

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams ended her hard-fought gubernatorial bid Friday against GOP opponent Brian Kemp, but she threatened to bring a lawsuit over Kemp's «gross mismanagement» of state voting laws in his capacity as secretary of state. The Hill writes: In an address made while surrounded by supporters Friday afternoon, Abrams said that she saw «no legal path forward» for her gubernatorial bid, adding that she would not use the legal system to attempt to «scheme» her way into office. Abrams said Kemp had «failed Georgia» and pledged to launch a new group called «Fair Fight Georgia» to promote fair elections in the state. According to the New York Times, she did not actually concede even as she declared an end to her campaign: “Let’s be clear: This is not a speech of concession because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper,” Ms. Abrams said amid a blistering attack on Mr. Kemp’s record as the state’s chief elections regulator and on the balloting process in Georgia. “As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.” Check out video of Abrams below.

Cartoon: Amazon's amenities

Amazon’s HQ2 dog and pony show is over and the winner was never in doubt. Congratulations to Jeff Bezos and his money vault. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Patreon.
Daily Kos

Cartoon: Amazon's amenities

Amazon’s HQ2 dog and pony show is over and the winner was never in doubt. Congratulations to Jeff Bezos and his money vault. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Patreon.

GOP leadership pathetically begs Trump for new attorney general pick rather than doing their jobs

Senate GOP leadership is desperate not to act on the Protect Mueller bill, co-sponsored by two GOP members, that's already cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee. So desperate, in fact, they're trying to reason Donald Trump into the swift nomination of a ne
Daily Kos

GOP leadership pathetically begs Trump for new attorney general pick rather than doing their jobs

Senate GOP leadership is desperate not to act on the Protect Mueller bill, co-sponsored by two GOP members, that's already cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee. So desperate, in fact, they're trying to reason Donald Trump into the swift nomination of a new attorney general to replace his disastrous acting attorney general pick. Politico writes: They said that naming an attorney general nominee as soon as possible — specifically one who would vow to preserve the Russia probe — would go a long way in halting legislative momentum to protect Mueller and Democratic messaging that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will undermine the investigation. That «Democratic messaging» includes simply highlighting the many times Whitaker himself said he distrusted the investigation, thought it had gone too far, and pondered ways to blunt and/or effectively shut it down. GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas explained, “If we had some confidence that there is somebody nominated that would be confirmed in a reasonable period of time, to me it seems like it would relieve a lot of the controversy.« Or you could do your job and pass legislation. “Whoever is going to be there would have to make clear statements about what they intend to do on the special counsel,» said Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma. «The sooner the better. Let’s get it resolved.» Or you could do your job and pass legislation. Good god, what a bunch of patsies. Trump is in complete Mueller meltdown mode («A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!») and Republicans still just can't quite motivate to safeguard the nation's rule of law from Trump's maniacal impulses.  If it weren't so dangerous, it would be amusing. Republicans truly aren't good at legislating, thus their healthcare repeal folly. The one piece of legislation they managed to get over the finish line with one-party rule—the tax scam—proved to be wildly unpopular. Now they've got a bill that polls have shown would have broad support among voters, it's a total lay up, and yet they simply don't have the guts to do their jobs. Pathetic.

Trump finds another fox to guard the chickens, appointing climate science-denying Wheeler to run EPA

To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Donald Trump announced Friday that he is nominating the acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency to become its administrator. Three things can be expected from this replacement of the disgraced grifter Scott P
Daily Kos

Trump finds another fox to guard the chickens, appointing climate science-denying Wheeler to run EPA

To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Donald Trump announced Friday that he is nominating the acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency to become its administrator. Three things can be expected from this replacement of the disgraced grifter Scott Pruitt: little or no spending of taxpayers’ money for personal gain and probably no other ethics scandals, a better understanding of but no better attitude toward environmental law and regulations, and big fat smiles for the fossil-fuel energy companies he used to represent as a lawyer and lobbyist. Key client: Murray Energy Corporation, owned and run by Bob Murray, a ruthless 21st Century coal baron with a taste for wholesale violation of mining regulations and a roster of dead miners to prove it. In support of Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, Murray said the “so-called global warming is a total hoax.” Wheeler himself has, as Marianne Lavelle wrote last April, stuck with the Trump script of avoiding outright denial, saying at a hearing a year ago, «I believe that man has an impact on the climate, but it's not completely understood what that impact is.» Trump made the impromptu announcement during a Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House, saying that Wheeler had done a “fantastic job” as the agency’s acting administrator in recent months. Wheeler took the help of the agency in early July after Scott Pruitt resigned amid mounting ethics scandals. During his brief tenure as EPA’s acting chief, Wheeler has proven far different than the man he replaced. Where Pruitt was a politician who enjoyed the limelight and the trappings of Cabinet life, Wheeler has long worked behind the scenes on energy and environmental policy and generally avoids the spotlight. Wheeler must be confirmed by the Senate, but that’s highly unlikely to be a problem with that body still in control of Republicans, including his old boss, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, arguably the most extremist of the 200 or so climate science deniers in both houses of Congress.  Wheeler’s connection to coal goes deep. He was until earlier this year vice president of the Washington Coal Club, a group of some 300 coal producers, legislators, and business honchos who have pushed policies to keep the dirtiest fossil fuel from being abandoned. Maintaining that stance has become far harder as coal-fired power plants continue to be closed by campaigns of environmental advocates and by economics. DeSmog has thoroughly scrutinized Wheeler’s background here.

House Republican leader wins understatement of the year: 'We have room for improvement' on diversity

Kevin McCarthy, the current House majority leader who’s about to be the minority leader, tried on Thursday to put lipstick on the pig that is Republican diversity. It was a challenge for him: “It was the year of the woman,” McCarthy said, referring t
Daily Kos

House Republican leader wins understatement of the year: 'We have room for improvement' on diversity

Kevin McCarthy, the current House majority leader who’s about to be the minority leader, tried on Thursday to put lipstick on the pig that is Republican diversity. It was a challenge for him: “It was the year of the woman,” McCarthy said, referring to the crush of women who ran for office in 2018, though in the Republican Party, he conceded, “it wasn't that much.” “We have room for improvement. If you look at, in the Democratic primaries where there was an open seat and it was a woman versus a man, a woman won 69 percent of the time. So of course they had more women coming forward. We can do better in recruitment, and that's what I'm excited about doing,” he said. “We can do better in recruitment” is something of an understatement. If you look just at the candidates who filed to run for House this cycle, there were 356 Democratic women and just 120 Republican women; 183 Democratic women won their primaries to just 52 Republican women. Despite acknowledging that room for improvement, McCarthy also advanced a couple of hilarious defenses. One, some Republican women ran for higher office, like Rep. Kristi Noem, who was elected governor of South Dakota, and Rep. Martha McSally, who lost the Arizona Senate race to Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. Of course, House Democrats also had women who ran for higher office—like Sinema and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who was elected governor of New Mexico—and somehow managed to increase representation in the House. McCarthy’s other defense of Republican diversity was the best, though: “McCarthy on Thursday said Republicans had diverse candidates who were defeated in the midterms and offered up two newly elected military veterans, both white men, as a show of diversity in Republicans’ incoming class.” As if no white male veteran was elected to Congress ever before in recorded history, vs. a reality of a Congress that will include at least 92 veterans, with at least 17 veterans elected for the first time this year. And what do you know—three of them are Democratic women, while Republicans only managed to nominate three female veterans. “Room for improvement,” indeed.

As some Californians are urged to stay indoors due to toxic smoke, farmworkers continue working

As multiple deadly fires have forced some school districts in California to shut down classes and led some workplaces to urge employees to work from home for a few days, another group of workers is still laboring outside and breathing in toxic smoke. 
Daily Kos

As some Californians are urged to stay indoors due to toxic smoke, farmworkers continue working

As multiple deadly fires have forced some school districts in California to shut down classes and led some workplaces to urge employees to work from home for a few days, another group of workers is still laboring outside and breathing in toxic smoke.  Multiple viral images show farmworkers continuing to labor in fields as heaps of dark smoke from the Woolsey fire in southern California loom overhead. In one photo, no visibly-clear air can been seen as several figures harvest in the fields. At least one worker does not appear to be wearing a protective face mask. The Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) told Pacific Standard that “even though California's labor laws call for employers to determine if conditions are too harmful for farmworkers to work … state officials rarely travel to rural areas to enforce these protections.” Many work because they simply have no choice but to work. “Unfortunately, when farmworkers can’t work due to the hazardous conditions,” CAUSE’s Lucas Zucker told Remezcla, “they lose income because they are often paid piece rate (by the box picked), and if they are undocumented are unable to qualify for federal disaster relief.” Yet undocumented workers pay billions in taxes annually. Farmworkers also continued to work during firestorms in the state last year, though in some family-owned vineyards in northern California, employers stood side-by-side with workers in trying to save their land. “This time around,” Remezcla continues, “CAUSE saw a rise in farmworkers wearing protective masks, but ‘still too many without protection.’” The fires have now killed 66 people and hundreds more are missing, according to recent numbers. “Natural disasters disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color,” Think Progress reports, leaving farmworkers particularly vulnerable. During your next meal, remember that undocumented farmworkers feed America, and ask what yourself what you can do to help support them.

Daily Kos congratulates Arizona Secretary of State-elect Katie Hobbs

Today, Daily Kos congratulated newly elected Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Daily Kos was pleased to endorse her and other Democrats for key posts in August, and the Daily Kos community contributed over $360,000 to Democrats in those races. Hobbs jo
Daily Kos

Daily Kos congratulates Arizona Secretary of State-elect Katie Hobbs

Today, Daily Kos congratulated newly elected Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Daily Kos was pleased to endorse her and other Democrats for key posts in August, and the Daily Kos community contributed over $360,000 to Democrats in those races. Hobbs joins Jena Griswold in Colorado and Jocelyn Benson in Michigan in flipping previously GOP-held offices. “Hobbs, along with Griswold and Benson, will improve voting in myriad ways, from fighting to stem the tide of dark money, implementing automatic voter registration, improving election security, and increasing turnout among voters of color and other communities often underrepresented at the ballot box,” said Daily Kos political director David Nir. “This is why Daily Kos was pleased to support these Democrats in their bids to expand the voting rights of millions of Americans. "Republican secretaries of state have been working to undermine ballot box access and election fairness for years, and under Donald Trump, these assaults are now coming from the very top levels of U.S. government. The election of the Democrats as secretaries of state will prove vital to protecting our democracy.” Daily Kos has led the way in supporting Democrats across the country this cycle, raising over $8.7 million for candidates in small grassroots donations in 2017-2018. We will continue this crucial work into the 2020 cycle.

White House ready to send a man to his death to get Turkey off Saudi Arabia's back about Khashoggi

The Trump administration is not just refusing to hold Saudi Arabia’s feet to the fire over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It’s actively looking for ways to help Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman evade pressure and scrutiny, up t
Daily Kos

White House ready to send a man to his death to get Turkey off Saudi Arabia's back about Khashoggi

The Trump administration is not just refusing to hold Saudi Arabia’s feet to the fire over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It’s actively looking for ways to help Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman evade pressure and scrutiny, up to and including sending a man to his death to encourage Turkey to back off about Khashoggi. Turkish President Recep Erdogan wants to get his hands on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in the U.S., in much the same way that MBS wanted to get his hands on Jamal Khashoggi. And the White House would like to help Erdogan—if that would convince him to give the Saudis a pass. The White House pushed the Justice Department and the FBI to find a way to extradite Gulen to Turkey, where he would very likely be killed: Justice Department officials responded to the White House's request saying the review of Turkey's case against Gulen two years ago showed no basis for his extradition and that no new evidence to justify it has emerged, the U.S. officials and others familiar with the requests said. Trump administration officials then asked for other options to legally remove him, the U.S. officials and others said. They said the White House specifically wanted details about the terms under which Gulen resides in the U.S. Officials from the law enforcement agencies informed the White House there is no evidence that Gulen has broken any U.S. laws, the U.S. officials and others familiar with the requests said. Turkey really wants Gulen, and Trump would like to make Turkey happy without going so far as to distance himself from MBS or taking other serious action over the Khashoggi killing. It’s a pretty astounding trifecta of horrific national leaders.

McConnell sets up votes on worst of Trump nominees, gives the finger to Jeff Flake over his threats

Campaign Action Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has apparently decided to give a middle finger to Sen. Jeff Flake, the retiring Arizona Republican who says he'll vote against judicial nominees in committee and on the floor until McConnell allows a flo
Daily Kos

McConnell sets up votes on worst of Trump nominees, gives the finger to Jeff Flake over his threats

Campaign Action Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has apparently decided to give a middle finger to Sen. Jeff Flake, the retiring Arizona Republican who says he'll vote against judicial nominees in committee and on the floor until McConnell allows a floor vote on his legislation to protect the Mueller investigation. At the end of the day Thursday, McConnell filed cloture on two of the very worst of Trump's nominees: district court nominee Thomas Farr of North Carolina and 8th Circuit nominee Jonathan Kobes. The votes will happen when the Senate returns after Thanksgiving. Farr has been waiting for a vote since the Judiciary Committee passed him back in January. Farr «helped draft North Carolina's voter suppression law, defended racially discriminatory gerrymandering and may have lied to the Senate about his role in disenfranchising black voters when he worked for the late Sen. Jesse Helms.» He's a nightmare, his history of voter suppression extreme. And he lied to the Judiciary Committee about it. The uproar following his success in the Judiciary Committee might be why McConnell has been reluctant to have the floor vote, but it's typical of him that he'll use it now to give a massive «fuck you» to Flake. Kobes is one of six Trump nominees that the American Bar Association has rated «not qualified.» He's General Counsel for Republican Sen. Mike Rounds, which is apparently how he got the nomination. In explaining the rating they gave Kobes, the ABA wrote that «has neither the requisite experience nor evidence of his ability to fulfill the scholarly writing required of a United States Circuit Court Judge. … [H]e was unable to provide sufficient writing samples of the caliber required to satisfy Committee members that he was capable of doing the work of a United States Circuit Court Judge.» None of the writing that he did provide, they say, «is reflective of complex legal analysis, knowledge of the law, or ability to write about complex matters in a clear and cogent manner.» The ABA's opposition to him didn't stop Chairman Grassley; he just held the hearing before they provided their rating and didn't allow them to testify about it. One thing for sure we know about Kobes is that he's anti-LTBTQ and anti-choice. Because of course he is. Flake, of course, can't stop these nominees on his own. It's yet another opportunity for Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to furrow their brows and express their concern. There are, however, another three Republicans who with Flake voted that special counsel protection bill out of the Judiciary Committee: Grassley, Thom Tillis (NC), and Lindsey Graham (SC).

Midday open thread: Kim Jong-un sends Trump a message; Wampanoag protest taking of their reservation

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is Fight the victims:  What’s coming up on Sunday Kos… Remembering the horrors of the Jonestown massacre 40 years later, by Sher Watts Spooner Has America reached peak hate under Trump, and where do we go next?
Daily Kos

Midday open thread: Kim Jong-un sends Trump a message; Wampanoag protest taking of their reservation

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is Fight the victims:  What’s coming up on Sunday Kos… Remembering the horrors of the Jonestown massacre 40 years later, by Sher Watts Spooner Has America reached peak hate under Trump, and where do we go next? by Frank Vyan Walton Democrats and progressives won Midterm 2018: Here is how we keep the win, by Egberto Willies Donald Trump is not a smart man—and his latest voter fraud statement proves it, by Mark E Andersen The Obama economic expansion keeps rolling on, by Jon Perr Republicans need to decide if protecting Trump is worth the price of destroying their party, by Laurence Lewis  Beyond deplorable: Trump threatens and attacks U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and on the mainland, by Denise Oliver Velez International Elections Digest: Brazil elects fascist president who adores military dictatorship, by Daily Kos Elections House Democrats are right to push for stronger labor protections in Trump's revised NAFTA, by Ian Reifowitz • A week before Thanksgiving, Mashpee Wampanoag march to get their trust land back: On Wednesday, 200 allies and members of the tribe who met and fed the Pilgrims 400 years ago marched from the National Museum of the American Indian to the Capitol to protest the Trump regime’s decision to take away their reservation. In 2015, the Department of Interior gave the tribe the go-ahead to bring two parcels of land totaling 321 acres into trust. All reservation land in the U.S. is held in protective trust by the federal government, although the protection part has often been observed in theory more than reality. The tribe had planned to build a 123-unit elder and tribal housing facility and a casino. But some businesses and rival casino operators objected and sued, arguing that a 2009 Supreme Court ruling meant that only tribes recognized at the time of 1934 Indian Reorganization Act could bring land into trust. The Mashpee Wampanoags weren’t recognized until 2007. Vice Chair Jessie Little Doe Baird said that once government took Native children away because they were too Indian. Now trust status is being taken because certain tribes supposedly are not Indian enough. She said the 127 other tribes recognized after 1934 should expect this move against her tribe to be repeated against them. • Maybe Mar-a-Lago will be the newest federal lock-up: Seth Meyers on “Late Night” suggests tongue-in-cheek that Donald Trump might have had some other prison reforms in mind Thursday when he endorsed a bill that would reduce some mandatory minimum sentences. MIDDAY TWEET • Pretty picture!! xReagan Revolution: 1966-2018Cause of Death: Donald J. Trump pic.twitter.com/8P5EAYfZjU— Rachel Bitecofer 📈🔭🗿💪 (@RachelBitecofer) November 16, 2018 • Construction workers in San Francisco stay on the job despite toxic air caused by wildfire. • Why your search results are sexist and racist: A conversation about Google’s blind spots: A Salon interview with the author of “Algorithms of Oppression.” • Kim Jong-un sends a message to Washington: North Korea has tested a «newly developed ultramodern» weapon in an event supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, state media said Friday, amid faltering nuclear disarmament negotiations with the United States. Very little is known about the weapon or whether it is even new, but the test is the latest sign that Pyongyang is prepared to return to a more militaristic relationship with Washington if talks continue to go poorly. • Democrats divided over how to address climate change:  Climate change is the first big fight for congressional Democrats as they prepare to take control of the House next year. It's fracturing the party along fault lines of turf, strategy and age. At issue is which lawmakers should lead the way, as well as the scope of potential legislation. How the intraparty feud plays out could foreshadow the aggressiveness with which House Democrats try to tackle climate change over the next two years, a critical period that will shape the party's positions on the environment as it tries to rip the White House away from President Trump. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: To no one's surprise, Trump's lies spiked wildly in the run-up to the mid-terms. New names emerge in Mueller's probe. Is it winding up, or still expanding? Why would the US need to «placate» Turkey on Khashoggi? More emerges on Whitaker's... unusual path. x Embedded Content RadioPublic|LibSyn|YouTube|Patreon|Square Cash (Share code: Send $5, get $5!) LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE

The #FiveWhiteGuys trying to take down Pelosi are stupid beyond words

Democrats are coming off their biggest House victory since Watergate, having been led by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $250 million, dramatically outraising the GOP’s counterpart ($174 million), and l
Daily Kos

The #FiveWhiteGuys trying to take down Pelosi are stupid beyond words

Democrats are coming off their biggest House victory since Watergate, having been led by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $250 million, dramatically outraising the GOP’s counterpart ($174 million), and likely half that money can be directly traced back to Pelosi. She was a tireless campaigner, and an unselfish one—she very clearly allowed Democratic candidates in tough Red districts to distance themselves from her, promising to not vote for her. Can you imagine the traitor in the White House doing anything similar? Pelosi was also at the helm of a party strategy that laser-focused candidates on one issue: the election. Everyone was screaming about impeachment and Donald Trump and climate change and on and on and on. All good and worthwhile issues! But Pelosi was focused on winning, and she saw what the polls said: that the only issue that moved votes was health care. Let Trump flail and fling poo against the wall, she and her party would not be distracted.  And then, her party won. And it won big. And a week and a half after Election Night, the wave keeps lapping on the shore, en route to a stunning 39-41-seat wave victory despite facing a heavily gerrymandered pro-GOP map.  Sure, Trump helped. But by remaining focused and undistracted by his insanity, our candidates punched through the suburbs, reshaping the political map and setting Democrats up nicely for increased gains in 2020.  But Republicans hate Pelosi and have demonized her, in large part because of her incredible effectiveness, so a cabal of House Democrats have conspired to force her out. Mind you, they’re not running against her. That would actually be okay! Problem is, they know they don’t have the votes to elect anyone else, so instead, they’re trying to use the rules of the House to simply block her.  The #FiveWhiteGuys are Reps. Seth Moulton (MA-06), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), and Bill Foster (IL-11), apparently all begging for a 2020 primary battle. (And I’m eager to help them get it!)

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