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Open thread for night owls: Trump regime's attack on breast-feeding part of wider war

At Foreign Policy, Pulitzer Prize winning science journalist Laurie Garrett writes—Trump’s Battle Against Breastfeeding Is a Small Part of a Wider War: At the turn of the century, I published a book called Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Pub
Daily Kos

Open thread for night owls: Trump regime's attack on breast-feeding part of wider war

At Foreign Policy, Pulitzer Prize winning science journalist Laurie Garrett writes—Trump’s Battle Against Breastfeeding Is a Small Part of a Wider War: At the turn of the century, I published a book called Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health, in which I argued that population health rises or falls based on trust established between citizens and governments. If the people lose faith in government, science, and each other, the entire public health house of cards can quickly collapse. In the following years, the momentum behind globalization inspired the creation of public health initiatives such as the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund, and hundreds of smaller nongovernmental health groups. Today, trust and solidarity between nations, and within them, are yielding to what some have characterized as modern tribalism. And, unsurprisingly, the edifice of global public health is starting to come down with it. This is nowhere more visible than in the United States under the influence of President Donald Trump, whose nationalist agenda has amounted to a multifront war on global public health.  Last week, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration attempted to block passage of a resolution at the May World Health Assembly in support of breast milk. At issue was language meant to strengthen the 1981 International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, aimed at stopping false claims that powdered formula is equal to, or even superior to, mothers’ milk. Experts argue that formula made by the 800 million people in 2018 having no access to safe drinking water contributes to the deaths of 820,000 babies annually. Moreover, there is plentiful evidence that breast milk contains components of the immune system and mother’s microbiome that protect infants from disease and promote healthy growth. At the World Health Assembly, the Ecuador delegation sought to strengthen the 1981 code, planning to introduce a resolution favoring breast milk as the best for feeding infants. The U.S. delegation threatened to revoke some military aid and cut trade with Ecuador, acting in defense of the $70 billion baby formula industry. And Trump tweeted, “We don’t believe women should be denied access to formula.” Ecuador dropped its resolution, and global health leaders were appalled, viewing the attempt to protect the formula industry as placing U.S. companies’ profits above the health and survival of babies. The Trump administration is also seeking to put U.S. pharmaceutical industry profits back in the driver’s seat in global pricing schemes. [...] TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES QUOTATION “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”                ~~Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) TWEET OF THE DAY xRepublicans are now asking what they should do with Trump. Here’s an idea: what would you have done if it were Obama? Do that.— Rev. Dr. Barber (@RevDrBarber) July 17, 2018 BLAST FROM THE PAST On this date at Daily Kos in 2003—Iraq war WAS about the oil: File this under «holy shit»: there's a reason Cheney was so adamant about keeping the deliberations of the Energy Task Force secret. It wasn't about Enron or ANWAR (although I'm sure they surely had their role), it was about divvying up Iraq's oil fields. It really was about the oil. Judicial Watch, the conservative legal group that bedeviled the Clinton Administration has effectively done the same for Cheney and Bush: Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” So were such documents used for truly innocent purposes? It'll be interesting to see the administration's and its backers' tortured explanations as to why the Task Force would have pondered over who held the contracts to Iraq's oil wealth. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: The treason continues apace, and it's Greg Dworkin and Joan McCarter's turn to comment on it. Also, Brett Kavanaugh's bizarro «legal» theories that seem designed to ... further facilitate Trump's treason, and the GOP election-funding machine. Weird!  x Embedded Content RadioPublic|LibSyn|YouTube|Patreon|Square Cash (Share code: Send $5, get $5!) LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE

Trump first said the Jerusalem embassy will cost $250,000. It's actually $21 million.

Trump is a very expensive president; he loves to spend money—and he loves to spew lies, too. This is why the news of the true estimated cost of the president’s decision to move the American embassy into Jerusalem is, sadly, unsurprising.  During a pres
Daily Kos

Trump first said the Jerusalem embassy will cost $250,000. It's actually $21 million.

Trump is a very expensive president; he loves to spend money—and he loves to spew lies, too. This is why the news of the true estimated cost of the president’s decision to move the American embassy into Jerusalem is, sadly, unsurprising.  During a press event with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March, Trump claimed that his controversial new embassy will cost about $250,000. We’re going to have it built very quickly and inexpensively,” Trump said. “They put an order in front of my desk last week for $1 billion. I said, ‘A billion? What’s that for? We’re actually doing it for about $250,000, so check that out.” He later increased that estimate to about $400,00 during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but that turns out to be a woefully low number. Al-Monitor broke the news on the report that the true estimated price tag is much higher. President Donald Trump has repeatedly boasted that he would save US taxpayers a bundle by negotiating a $250,000 price tag for a new embassy in Jerusalem. Turns out the final cost, just for a temporary facility, is almost 100 times more. Documents uploaded this week to the official database of federal spending show that Maryland-based joint venture Desbuild Limak D&K has been awarded a $21.2 million award to design and build “addition and compound security upgrades” to the embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood. That’s in addition to the $335,000 spent to get the facility, formerly a US consulate, ready for its ritzy grand opening as an embassy back in May. An official from the State Department told Al-Monitor that Trump’s estimates were just referring to “the cost of initial modifications made to permit the embassy to open on May 14.” Even so, this is a lot of money for a political move by Trump to appease white evangelicals. A House aide said that isn’t the final price tag for this move, either. This money will be used to upgrade the temporary facility—there are future plans to buy a new, permanent facility.

Art of the Bum Deal: Donald Trump has managed to increase the cost of Air Force One by $1 billion

Donald Trump’s vaunted deal-making skills haven’t saved jobs at Carrier, or at Ford. He hasn’t convinced North Korea to surrender so much as a slingshot, despite giving up one of America’s biggest bargaining chips. And when it comes to Russia … to
Daily Kos

Art of the Bum Deal: Donald Trump has managed to increase the cost of Air Force One by $1 billion

Donald Trump’s vaunted deal-making skills haven’t saved jobs at Carrier, or at Ford. He hasn’t convinced North Korea to surrender so much as a slingshot, despite giving up one of America’s biggest bargaining chips. And when it comes to Russia … to be fair, that wasn’t as much bargaining as begging, so maybe it shouldn’t count. But how has Trump done on something with Real Numbers in it? Something where Trump bragged about his intervention even before taking office? Here’s Trump one year before moving to DC, going after the cost of creating a new version of Air Force One. xBoeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016 However, the true cost of two new Air Force One planes, was budgeted at $2.87 billion. Though some estimates put the total at $3.73 billion by the time of completion in 2026, that still didn’t put it to the number Trump was throwing around. But Trump was okay with that. According to him, “Boeing is doing a little bit of a number” and trying to make too much money off the contract. But Trump would show them who was boss. Even before he sat down in the Oval Office, Trump claimed that he had been on the phone with Boeing and chopped down that big number. It was a claim he repeated several times in his first few months in office—his go-to example of his negotiating skills. Trump: We've got that price down by over $1 billion and I probably haven't spoken for more than an hour on the project, However, within a few weeks, the White House website had chopped Trump savings from “over a billion” to “millions.” And now, Donald Trump has completed his negotiations, coming up with a new price of … $3.9 billion. That’s right. After two years of negotiation, Donald Trump’s price is a billion dollars higher than where he started. No wonder everyone loves to negotiate with Trump.

Texas woman's nose bitten off and swallowed by neighbor; denied surgery because she's uninsured

“All I could remember was the taste of the blood in my mouth,” says the 28-year-old victim of a bizarre attack in her own backyard last Thursday. The woman, who told WAFB she wishes to be identified only as Tatiana, was in her Houston backyard on Jul
Daily Kos

Texas woman's nose bitten off and swallowed by neighbor; denied surgery because she's uninsured

“All I could remember was the taste of the blood in my mouth,” says the 28-year-old victim of a bizarre attack in her own backyard last Thursday. The woman, who told WAFB she wishes to be identified only as Tatiana, was in her Houston backyard on July 12 when a neighbor’s houseguest, Jessica Collins, allegedly attacked her.  Tatiana says she went to a bar with her neighbor, and when the two returned, Collins demanded alcohol and cigarettes. The victim refused and told Collins to leave. She says the suspect instead jumped on her and pulled her to the ground by her hair. She then allegedly bit off a large piece of Tatiana’s nose and swallowed it. "I didn't have no time to react, to push her away. I think I was trying to fight back, but I couldn't.” Forty-one-year-old Collins, whom Tatiana had never met before that night, was arrested Friday morning on charges of misdemeanor assault-bodily injury, and released Monday on a paltry $1,000 bond. “No insurance? No nose for you.”  Tatiana, meanwhile, is deeply traumatized by both the incident, and the fact that Collins—who knows where she lives—walks free. The mother of one told ABC13 that she doesn’t even want to leave her own bedroom, because “it’s where I feel safe.” She can’t just stay in her bedroom, though. She needs major surgery, and she needs it very soon, according to doctors who refuse to do a damn thing—unless Tatiana comes up with $12,000 upfront. ”I’m 28 years old, and I don’t have a nose anymore. I don’t know what to do,” she told WAFB through tears.  A friend has launched a fundraising effort on Tatiana’s behalf; as of this writing, over 200 people have donated over $5,300. (If you click through, be warned: Tatiana’s missing nose is quite a graphic image.) This is just the latest appalling example of how horrific it can be to be uninsured. It’s a new American tradition to get creative in order to access health care. Whether it’s filing for divorce, robbing a bank, or crowdfunding, pulling out all the stops has become the new normal for too many Americans, and Trump is eager to make things even worse.

Paging Senator Mike Rounds: Your skills as Trump interpreter are once again needed

One of the more bizarre efforts by Republican lawmakers to explain why Donald Trump, appearing alongside Russian leader Vladimir Putin, dismissed U.S. law enforcement conclusions on Russian election tampering and appeared to embrace Putin's version of events
Daily Kos

Paging Senator Mike Rounds: Your skills as Trump interpreter are once again needed

One of the more bizarre efforts by Republican lawmakers to explain why Donald Trump, appearing alongside Russian leader Vladimir Putin, dismissed U.S. law enforcement conclusions on Russian election tampering and appeared to embrace Putin's version of events (and, notably, Putin's own proposals to let Russia see the intelligence gathered in the investigation so they could, ya know, «help») came from South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds, who offered up the theory that maybe Trump was lying so flagrantly as an attempt to, um, be sarcastic? “The president just looked right back at [Putin] and with the same straight face... basically sent a message: ’If you can sit here and tell me that with a straight face and that’s what it takes it to move forward in other negotiations, I most certainly can match you on this, and in fact I can stand here and say, ‘Of course you didn’t do it,’ even though we all know that [you did],’” Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. “The reality is,” Rounds continued, expounding on his theory of Trump as a fourth-dimensional chess master, “‘I know you did it, you know you did it, and you know that I know that you did it.’ So to me, Mr. Putin tried to tell the whopper with a straight face and President Trump basically laid out, ‘You wanna play that game? Fine. I can do the same thing because we all know you did.’” So essentially what we have here is a case in which two of the world's most dishonest world leaders were simply attempting to one-up each other in a series of ever more implausible statements? Points for trying, Mr. Rounds. Senator Rounds's attempted explanation came before Trump's own White House announcement that in reviewing the tape, he could only find a single word he wished in hindsight to change so everything is All Better Now. But it also preceded Trump's new and possibly worse lie, this morning, in which he point-blank denied that Russian hacking attempts were ongoing even today. The lunacy of that stumped every observer; it seems that reporters need to get back to Mike Rounds and ask him to tease out the meaning of this new transparent falsehood as well. Any thoughts on this one, Mike? Donald Trump is telling the American press that the Putin government is no longer involved in attempts to sabotage U.S. elections despite widespread public assertions by top intelligence officials that they are. Is he trying to tell a new «whopper» just to show the American public he's so strong and manly he can lie whenever he wants to? Is it an elaborate attempt to trick Putin into thinking we don't know what we do know? C'mon, Mike Rounds. Your services are needed here: Tell us what Donald Trump is thinking!

Daily Kos Elections 2Q 2018 House fundraising reports roundup

Quarterly fundraising reports for federal candidates, covering the period from April 1 to June 30, were due at the Federal Elections Commission on July 15 at midnight Eastern Time. Below is our chart of fundraising numbers for House candidates in all key race
Daily Kos

Daily Kos Elections 2Q 2018 House fundraising reports roundup

Quarterly fundraising reports for federal candidates, covering the period from April 1 to June 30, were due at the Federal Elections Commission on July 15 at midnight Eastern Time. Below is our chart of fundraising numbers for House candidates in all key races this cycle. (Click here for our companion chart for the Senate.) That includes, among others: Races we expect to be competitive in this year's general elections Open seats in otherwise safe districts with contested primaries Under-the-radar contests where a candidate raised or self-funded an unexpectedly high sum Incumbents who face a credible primary challenge As always, all numbers are in thousands. The chart, and an explanation of each column, can be found below. Note that we've made one important methodological change, which we explain below. x Embedded Content x Embedded Content

Trump inexplicably blasts NATO member Montenegro, questions NATO mutual defense obligations

Before the White House shocked America yet again with two separate defenses of Russian propaganda efforts, the first being Donald Trump's dismissal of ongoing Russian election hacking and the second being White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders ref
Daily Kos

Trump inexplicably blasts NATO member Montenegro, questions NATO mutual defense obligations

Before the White House shocked America yet again with two separate defenses of Russian propaganda efforts, the first being Donald Trump's dismissal of ongoing Russian election hacking and the second being White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refusing to rule out a Russian proposal that the Trump administration help provide them access to two of Putin's most hated enemies, the British financier responsible for the Magnitsky Act and a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, the shocking Trump news of the day was primed to be Trump's dismissal of the very premise of NATO. Asked by Fox News white nationalist propagandist Tucker Carlson about why America should bother defending NATO members like the tiny Montenegro, Trump bashed the country and appeared to agree with Carlson's criticism of the NATO mutual defense compact. “Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?” Carlson asked in the interview, which was recorded Monday after Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in Helsinki. “I understand what you’re saying, I’ve asked the same question,” Trump responded. “You know, Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. . . . They are very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III. But that’s the way it was set up. Don’t forget, I just got here a little more than a year and a half ago.” First of all, this pair is roundly insane, and it's more than a little bizarre to see the supposed president of the United States doing an insult routine aimed at citizens of one of the smallest nations in Europe, and an ally to boot. Second, mutual defense, especially against the increasing military adventures of Russia, is the whole point of NATO to begin with. Opining that NATO members aren't worth defending—because, perhaps, the citizens of this or that country are irredeemably «very aggressive» people—is perilously close to saying that well maybe the United States just isn't going to honor its treaty obligations, when push comes to shove. Which is, of course, precisely what has NATO allies and U.S. lawmakers alarmed. For this exchange Trump got roundly hammered, again, by Sen. John McCain, but it's not clear that any Republican will address Trump's latest bit of crackpot anti-diplomacy in any more substantive, non-tweet-based way. Trump continues to erode our most long-lasting alliances in fits of personal spite. He's out of his gourd and lacks the basic emotional stability to be president, much less the raw knowledge. But McCain and the others still, even now, refuse to check his behavior via anything but terse statements of powerless concern.

New York's City Council votes on bill to limit the damage of environmental racism

Though Scott Pruitt is finally out at the Environmental Protection Agency, his reign of terror isn’t over. In his year-and-a-half on the job, Pruitt repeatedly attempted to roll back and eliminate a number of environmental regulations. His successor, Andre
Daily Kos

New York's City Council votes on bill to limit the damage of environmental racism

Though Scott Pruitt is finally out at the Environmental Protection Agency, his reign of terror isn’t over. In his year-and-a-half on the job, Pruitt repeatedly attempted to roll back and eliminate a number of environmental regulations. His successor, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist is likely to do much of the same. And, as Vox notes, the changes that Pruitt (and now Wheeler) sought to implement are likely to have a disproportionate impact on people of color and low-income communities. Though Republicans in Congress refuse to believe scientific facts, numerous studies demonstrate both low-income populations and people of color are “more likely to suffer the harms of polluted water, air, and soil.” So once again poor folks and people of color are put at risk—this time with respect to environmental laws and living in hazardous and toxic environments. Trump’s EPA could care less about this. And in 2017 his administration completely eliminated any funding for the Office of Environmental Justice, which means that the reform must fall to local and state governments. Such an example of this can be found in New York City, where the City Council will vote on Wednesday on legislation that proposes to cap the amount of trash that certain community districts process—specifically focused on neighborhoods in Queens, the Bronx, and North Brooklyn.  With a population of nearly 8.5 million people and millions more who work in the city, New York generates a lot of trash. Specifically, 3.8 million tons of annual residential waste and 4 million tons of commercial garbage each year. The residential trash is disposed of by the City’s Sanitation Department. But the commercial garbage is handled by private firms. Out of 59 community districts, 4 of them (located in in North Brooklyn, the South Bronx, Southeast Queens, and Southeast Brooklyn) handle almost 75 percent of the trash. In other words, the majority of the city’s trash is taken to low-income communities of color for processing. As Priya Mulgaonkar, from the Environmental Justice Alliance notes, this poses a problem for a whole host of reasons. According to Gothamist, Mulgaonkar said that the residents of those communities are a concrete example of environmental racism. She notes that the facilities in these communities where the waste is processed are «truck-intensive, privately operated facilities—many of which are just across the street from parks, schools, and residences.» The facilities also pose a pedestrian hazard. In the last eleven years, 33 people have been killed by private garbage trucks in the city. 

What to worry about when you worry about Kavanaugh

CNN and others are making a big deal of a newly discovered clip in which Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, criticizes precedent upholding the independent counsel provision of the now-lapsed Ethics in Government Act, the l
Daily Kos

What to worry about when you worry about Kavanaugh

CNN and others are making a big deal of a newly discovered clip in which Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, criticizes precedent upholding the independent counsel provision of the now-lapsed Ethics in Government Act, the law inspired by President Richard Nixon’s misdeeds in office. Thing is, that’s not a controversial position. An independent counsel, as distinguished from a special counsel like Robert Mueller, was, once appointed, a creature totally outside of the Department of Justice, but possessed of all of its powers and authority. That arrangement was, to put it mildly, problematic as a matter of the separation of powers. Justice Elena Kagan’s said much the same thing: [Kagan] called Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s lone dissent in Morrison v. Olson (1988), in which he argued that the Independent Counsel Act should be struck down because it was a wolf in wolf’s clothing, “one of the greatest dissents ever written and every year it gets better.” Given that the legislation in question’s defunct and over ensuing decades federal officials essentially reached consensus opposing an independent counsel arrangement, Kavanaugh’s decision to name Morrison v. Olson was hardly sensational. He made the comment at an event for conservatives two years ago, and at the time, it seemed a dead issue.  That said, I’ll concede that Kavanaugh singling out Morrison v. Olson is significant. Why name that decision instead of just dodging the question of “what precedent would you overturn” as prospective nominees usually do? It could well signal hostility to any perceived reallocation of executive power, not to mention additional proof—on top of his 2009 law review article—that Kavanaugh opposes any and all investigation of the president. The more telling part of the video clip is Kavanaugh’s slippery discussion of stare decisis, the principle that a court should almost always adhere to precedent. (It’s Latin for “to stand by things decided.”) If that principle were absolute, Kavanaugh said, “we’d still have some horrible decisions on the books.” The Roberts court’s conservatives have shown almost no respect for stare decisis when it would interfere with a desired outcome. Just this June they overturned critical precedent on labor, taxation, and, of course, the internment of Japanese-Americans; they sided with corporations against workers and upheld Trump’s Muslim Ban. By “horrible decision,” Kavanaugh could well have meant Roe v. Wade.

Still ignoring Russia, House Republicans held another hearing to peddle Facebook conspiracy theories

On Tuesday, House Republicans held another House Judiciary Committee hearing on the horrible cruelties that Facebook allegedly inflicts upon fine upstanding conservatives. Specifically, conspiracy-minded Republicans who follow conspiracy-peddling far-right we
Daily Kos

Still ignoring Russia, House Republicans held another hearing to peddle Facebook conspiracy theories

On Tuesday, House Republicans held another House Judiciary Committee hearing on the horrible cruelties that Facebook allegedly inflicts upon fine upstanding conservatives. Specifically, conspiracy-minded Republicans who follow conspiracy-peddling far-right websites continue to believe that there is a secret Facebook plot to censor conservative content, and have been hounding Facebook to elevate conservative content in order to prove they are not doing that. Whether this is the usual case of working the refs or a genuine belief, by House Republicans, that the social media world is conspiring against put-upon conservatives, the premise is untrue. The notion that Facebook is biased against conservative content is itself a conspiracy theory. Media Matters, a group of stupid jerks who use facts to answer questions like this one, did the actual research. We identified 463 Facebook pages that had more than 500,000 likes each and regularly posted content dealing with American political news. We analyzed data from these pages, week by week, between January 1, 2018, and July 1, 2018, to observe trends in post interactions (reactions, comments, and shares) and page likes. We found two key things: Thing number one: Right-leaning and left-leaning partisan posts had «virtually identical» average interaction rates, meaning Facebook doesn't appear to be taking any actions to «censor» conservative posts or highlight non-conservative ones. Thing number two: Conservative ideological pages tended to have a much higher total number of interactions than either nonpartisan or lefty sites, because they tend to have bigger audiences. So it's bunk. The entire premise of conservatives being disadvantaged by Facebook is a conspiracy theory; in reality, the opposite is true. Conservatives are making out like bandits, largely due to the longstanding online conservative habit of flocking to an orbit of hard-right opinion sites and ignoring all others. That isn't going to stop House Republicans from insisting, in very public hearings, that conservatives are getting the short end of the stick. The world being biased against conservatives via an entrenched set of secret conspiracies in the media, in education, in government, in science, and anything else you can think of is a foundational premise of the modern movement. Conservatism can't exist without the premise that the world is out to get them. MS-13 is under their porch, so everybody needs a gun. Book-learning is biased against the conservative belief system; what we need around here is less education. Climate change is a conspiracy by researchers who are merely jealous that the oil companies have more money than they do.

Following lawsuit and public backlash, U.S. Army reverses decision to discharge immigrant recruit

It looks like there will be justice for immigrant soldier Lucas Calixto, who was among the estimated 40 immigrant recruits who had recently been discharged or fallen into “questionable” status by the government, with no explanation as to why. Following
Daily Kos

Following lawsuit and public backlash, U.S. Army reverses decision to discharge immigrant recruit

It looks like there will be justice for immigrant soldier Lucas Calixto, who was among the estimated 40 immigrant recruits who had recently been discharged or fallen into “questionable” status by the government, with no explanation as to why. Following a lawsuit—an considerable public backlash—“the Army has reversed its widely covered decision ... in what his lawyer called an acknowledgment that the move was ‘improper.’” The discharge had blindsided Calixto, a 28-year-old recruit from Brazil, who had been “deemed to exhibit honorable service as recently as May and earned a recent promotion.” But, as Washington Post reporter Alex Horton tweeted, “there is evidence,” going back at least a year, that “the government is trying to strangle the immigrant recruitment program with bureaucracy.” Calixto sued in June, claiming “the Army violated its own policies by not explaining why he was separated or giving him a chance to respond. The Army’s discharge also violated constitutional protections of due process under the Fifth Amendment, the lawsuit claimed.” It’s not clear how much public reaction factored into the government’s reversal, but if that is the case, it wouldn’t be the first instance. Last March, the administration had to be publicly shamed into dropping deportation proceedings against Elia Crawford, the spouse of a special forces veteran. “After the Crawfords’ story published, Military Times was contacted by several other families also facing the deportation of a spouse.” What a heartfelt thanks to the thousands of immigrant service members, and immigrant loved ones of service members, who have been willing to sacrifice sweat, tears and blood for love of country. Meanwhile, the traitorous commander in chief shamelessly sides with an authoritarian who ordered an attack on the U.S., and will very likely attempt further attacks in the future. Horton also tweeted that the reversal is “one of few acknowledgements the military has violated its own policies when removing immigrants serving in uniform.” Calixto’s attorney agrees. “We are pleased that the Army recognized that Mr. Calixto’s discharge was improper,” Douglas Baruch said, “and will be revoked within two days. He and we know of no reason why the Army wouldn’t want him to complete his eight-year service commitment.” Others discharged like Calixto deserve their justice too.

House Democrats try to protect election systems against Russia, Republicans block them

Russian asset Donald Trump is still denying Russia's ongoing interference in our elections, and thus far Senate Republicans are doing little more than wringing their hands over it. House Republicans, however, are going along with it, refusing to allow a vot
Daily Kos

House Democrats try to protect election systems against Russia, Republicans block them

Russian asset Donald Trump is still denying Russia's ongoing interference in our elections, and thus far Senate Republicans are doing little more than wringing their hands over it. House Republicans, however, are going along with it, refusing to allow a vote on a Democratic amendment to fund election systems protection on a spending bill that would end funding for grants that help states to protect their elections systems from cyber attacks and hacking. Just to make this clear: the Republican spending bill takes ends that grant funding AND they refuse to consider reinstating it. Democrats lined up on the floor to demand the funding. “News flash, Mr. Speaker,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., “I hope my Republican friends are listening: Russia was just caught meddling in our election. In fact, meddling is not strong enough. They attacked our country.” […] “The refusal to appropriate a dime for state defense against Russian interference really represents nothing less than unilateral disarmament,” said Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett when he joined the parade of unanimous consent requests for a vote on the amendment sponsored by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. Republicans blocked that consent, which means they're basically siding with Trump on his fight with the entire U.S. intelligence community on Russian election interference. It also means states will have to find other funding to fight it.

God, guns, and gays: Russia's road map to conquering the Republican Party

Events from the last week have surfaced at a moment that seems almost too perfect. As reported in the New York Times … According to the complaint unsealed on Monday, Ms. Butina’s promotional activities for Russian political interests included attending
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God, guns, and gays: Russia's road map to conquering the Republican Party

Events from the last week have surfaced at a moment that seems almost too perfect. As reported in the New York Times … According to the complaint unsealed on Monday, Ms. Butina’s promotional activities for Russian political interests included attending the National Prayer Breakfast twice. Why was Butina, a covert agent of the Russian government posing as a representative of a pro-gun group connected to the NRA, there at the National Prayer Breakfast? Because that’s where the Republicans were. That’s where the Right was. Because: God, guns, and gays. The phrase “God, guns, and gays” is often falsely attributed to President Obama, or Nancy Pelosi, or Hillary Clinton. But that’s not where it originated. It came out of the 1994 campaign of Republican Senator Jim Inhofe—he of the snowball in the Senate, climate change-denying fame. The phrase “God, guns, and gays” wasn’t coined by Inhofe’s team as an insult. It was intended to focus Oklahoma voters on social issues, so they would ignore Republican economic and environmental policies that were ruining their towns and lives. It was a strategy. For Russians looking a way to upend American politics, it was a road map. For decades, the Republican Party had made taking a strong stand against Russia part of its core identity. After all, it was hard to position the GOP as the party of patriotism and defense, if it didn’t make a show of standing up to America’s greatest international opponent. But just as Gods, guns, and gays was a way to make a “shotgun wedding” of a supposedly charitable religion and an anything-but political party, Russia saw that it also offered a path to not just reconciling Republicans with Moscow, but making them as thoroughly owned by the Kremlin as the Religious Right is by the GOP. Maria Butina, though only a 22-year-old student, saw this clearly at least as early as 2011. So did her boss, Russian oligarch Alexander Torshin. In that year, Butina formed the faux pro-gun group “Right to Bear Arms,” not to actually champion the cause of gun rights in Russia, but as a way to reach out to the NRA and the right wing in the United States. Bolstered by money and praise from Torshin, the non-existent “group” became an almost overnight power on the American right. As the Washington Post documents, it took only months for Butina to secure connections within the NRA. Less than two years after she began, former Russia hawk John Bolton was recording what amounted to a commercial for her group. By 2014, both Torshin and Butina were at the NRA convention, where they were treated as celebrities.

GOP ads are already attacking Democrats for wanting to abolish ICE. Here's how they should respond.

Even though the Democrats won't choose their nominee to take on Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey until Aug. 28, Politico reports that the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is launching a $1 million ad campaign targeting two hopefuls, Arizona State University pro
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GOP ads are already attacking Democrats for wanting to abolish ICE. Here's how they should respond.

Even though the Democrats won't choose their nominee to take on Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey until Aug. 28, Politico reports that the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is launching a $1 million ad campaign targeting two hopefuls, Arizona State University professor David Garcia and activist Kelly Fryer. So far at least, the RGA appears to be ignoring state Sen. Steve Farley, the third candidate in the contest. Both spots try to argue that the Democrats want to abolish ICE and put Arizonans in danger, a theme we’re almost certainly going to see a whole lot more of both here and in other races across the country. However, as we’ll explain, Democrats have a good model to follow to push back and prevent Trump and his allies from caricaturing them this way. Both the RGA’s anti-Garcia and anti-Fryer ads are almost identical. The narrator in each case declares that even though ICE officers are guarding against gangs and keeping the country safe from drugs, as well as rescuing young girls from sex trafficking, the Democrat being attacked «and other radicals demand we abolish ICE.» The only real difference between the two spots is that the anti-Garcia ad features a clip of him saying, «ICE is committing some historic atrocities,» while there is no comparable footage of Fryer. However, Fryer recently said at a debate that she has wanted to abolish ICE for years, adding that Trump’s family detention policies won’t end “until we dismantle ICE—and the racist, fear-based culture that led to its formation in 2003, allowed it to continue under Obama, and has given it horrific powers now under Trump.” By contrast, Farley said he favors fixing the agency rather than scrapping it. Garcia, who’s decisively led in recent primary polling, has said the United States must «rebuild our immigration system top-to-bottom and start by replacing ICE with an immigration system that reflects our American values.» However, Garcia has argued that the issue is too complex to be reduced to a simple debate about whether or not to abolish ICE, saying, “It’s a false choice between Trump’s cruelty towards families and towards separating children and Ducey enabling that cruelty and this open borders discussion." Of course, as these ads and about every other Trump tweet will tell you, the GOP very much wants to frame this election as a referendum between guarding the border or allowing drugs and crime to flourish. And while it's not clear why the RGA is airing ads against two of the Democratic candidates this far from the primary rather than just waiting to train their fire on whomever wins the primary in six weeks, it's very possible they're hoping to caricature them early.

FEMA fails again in Puerto Rico by denying or ignoring most appeals for aid to hurricane survivors

Last week, in an official after-action report, FEMA admitted that it botched the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Among things cited in the report were an acknowledgement that the agency had too many inexperienced personnel, too few supplies, di
Daily Kos

FEMA fails again in Puerto Rico by denying or ignoring most appeals for aid to hurricane survivors

Last week, in an official after-action report, FEMA admitted that it botched the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Among things cited in the report were an acknowledgement that the agency had too many inexperienced personnel, too few supplies, difficulty in coordinating logistics and in working with local government on the island. And as more information comes to light, we are learning the full extent of the government’s negligence and ongoing failure in supporting Puerto Ricans through this crisis. In addition to its initial emergency response, FEMA has also been working with homeowners over the last ten months to provide assistance in repairing the damage caused by the hurricane. But this too has proven to be a bureaucratic nightmare. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners were initially denied aid by FEMA and appealed—only to be left waiting indefinitely for a decision. So far, 79 percent of the appeals have been denied or not answered. FEMA has already denied more than 335,000 applications. And, to date, out of 43,000 appealed cases, only 7,500 have been approved and more than 34,000 have been deemed ineligible. One of the significant challenges that Puerto Ricans have encountered in applying for FEMA aid is in proving ownership of the homes that they live in. This is because many people do not possess the required formal documentation due to a long-standing tradition on the island of illegal construction in low-income areas, combined with people inheriting land and building on it which is then passed down through generations without paperwork. Estimates suggest that more than half of the island’s infrastructure has been informally built and these are cultural practices that have existed for decades without much issue. In the meantime, FEMA says that there are alternatives for proving ownership such as demonstration of payment of property tax or maintenance of the residence. But advocates for Puerto Rican homeowners say that FEMA is remarkably inconsistent with how it denies or grants aid. Moreover, there are questions about FEMA’s verification process with some island residents saying that FEMA claim inspectors didn’t actually complete their jobs. Complaints range from inspectors not speaking Spanish, to not entering homes to complete an inspection and not returning to homes if the homeowner wasn’t present. Given FEMA’s lack of efficiency, the Puerto Rican government has now turned to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help them develop a disaster recovery plan which could help to rebuild neighborhoods. So far, HUD has invested $20 million into Puerto Rico’s recovery.

Trump's SCOTUS nominee: 'I'd put the final nail in' Congress's power to investigate the president

Campaign Action Brett Kavanaugh, Russian asset Donald Trump's pick to join the nation's highest court of law, has some problematic views on executive power. Those views are made even more problematic given the current executive, who just happens to be under
Daily Kos

Trump's SCOTUS nominee: 'I'd put the final nail in' Congress's power to investigate the president

Campaign Action Brett Kavanaugh, Russian asset Donald Trump's pick to join the nation's highest court of law, has some problematic views on executive power. Those views are made even more problematic given the current executive, who just happens to be under criminal investigation for possible conspiracy with a foreign adversary in the 2016 election. And those problems just ratcheted up with video dug up by CNN of an appearance by Kavanaugh at the American Enterprise Institute in March, 2016. He was asked what case he would overturn if he could, and at first played it cagey, because of course he knew he was on a number of short lists for the Supreme Court should a Republican win the White House. If you're on that list, you don't say controversial stuff out loud. But he just couldn't resist on this one. «Actually, I'm going to say one. Morrison v. Olson. It's been effectively overruled, but I would put the final nail in,» according to a video of the event What's Morrison v. Olson? It was a Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of provisions creating an independent counsel under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. The independent counsel law expired in 1999 and was replaced by the somewhat weaker Justice Department's special counsel regulation. That's what Robert Mueller is now operating under. But Kavanaugh wants to put the «final nail» in it, ending any possibility of Congress's power to investigate the president. Which is kind of interesting, since Kavanaugh was on Ken Starr's team that hounded then-President Bill Clinton with a broad array of conspiracy theories. Since then, Kavanaugh has changed his tune, because now he believes a president should be beyond Congress's reach. Kavanaugh's belief, argued in an article that he authored in 2008 for the Minnesota Law Review, that «the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office» is well-known. He argued there that the executive basically can't be indicted, sued, or even investigated. Because he (and it will probably always be «he» in Kavanaugh's world) is president. Period. He proved just how much he means that just two years ago, in those remarks to the AEI. In a normal world, that would be something the Senate would want to examine very carefully since it's their very power he wants to curtail. But this isn't a normal world. Senate Republicans will have no problem ceding that power, but it's enough on its own for any Democrat to reject Kavanaugh.

Trump robbing from Ebola, Zika, hurricanes to pay for jailing children

Turns out that stealing migrant children and putting them in baby jails and then being forced by the courts to reunite them with their families is an expensive proposition. It's cost at least $40 million in just the last two months to «care» for a
Daily Kos

Trump robbing from Ebola, Zika, hurricanes to pay for jailing children

Turns out that stealing migrant children and putting them in baby jails and then being forced by the courts to reunite them with their families is an expensive proposition. It's cost at least $40 million in just the last two months to «care» for and house the children stolen from their families, money that the Department of Health and Human Services didn't have in the accounts dedicated to the purpose. So it's been taking money from other accounts, more than $200 million so far. That means public health programs are losing funding. Which is alarming people like Emily Holubowich, executive director of the Coalition for Health Funding. «We have a public health emergency like Ebola, Zika, hurricanes—except this one is man-made,» she told Politico. «We should not be taking discretionary funding away from programs that need it.» It's creating bipartisan headaches among lawmakers. «This is not a policy we should be pursuing,» said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee chairman, criticizing the administration's plan to split families at the border. “We have sent letters demanding answers with regards to the costs ... [and] we have received no answers from OMB or from HHS,« said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), subcommittee ranking member. »The Trump administration is withholding information from the Congress.« Alex Azar, the HHS Secretary, isn't helping matters much with painfully tone-deaf statements like this one to CNN last week, saying that HHS's caring for the children »one of the great acts of American generosity and charity.« Yes, he really said that. Making sure children that you kidnapped and jailed have food and shelters is »generosity and charity." What he'll say to the people who we can't afford to help when Zika hits, or after the next massive hurricane, or if Ebola breaks out again, who knows?

Midday open thread: Joementum, Jared dodging, Gym Jordan

● Today’s comic by Matt Bors is Choose your own conspiracy: ●  xPeople who seek substantive change are almost always told some version of:- “you’re crazy”- “you don’t know anythingâÂ
Daily Kos

Midday open thread: Joementum, Jared dodging, Gym Jordan

● Today’s comic by Matt Bors is Choose your own conspiracy: ●  xPeople who seek substantive change are almost always told some version of:- “you’re crazy”- “you don’t know anything”- “you’re too [old/young/quiet/loud/whatever]”To detractors, you will never be good enough. To friends, you are always enough.So just do your thing! 💪🏽💜— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) July 18, 2018 ● Rep. Jim Jordan is getting a bit of a pass because Donald Trump is such a dumpster fire, but Jordan is named in the sexual abuse lawsuit against Ohio State University. ● The Democratic National Committee is suing Jared Kushner. Only he keeps dodging a summons, including using the Secret Service to avoid it. ● Mark Zuckerberg doesn't think Holocaust deniers should be banned from Facebook because “I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.” ● Joementum! Squared! On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: The treason continues apace, and it's Greg Dworkin & Joan McCarter's turn to comment on it. Also, Brett Kavanaugh's bizarro «legal» theories that seem designed to... further facilitate Trump's treason, and the Gop election-funding machine. Weird! x Embedded Content RadioPublic|LibSyn|YouTube|Patreon|Square Cash (Share code: Send $5, get $5!)

Trump spokesperson digs Russia hole deeper: No isn’t no, and he might hand U.S. citizens to Putin

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders faced a feisty press corps Wednesday afternoon, and it was pretty brutal for her. Sent out to walk back Russian asset Donald Trump's reversal of yesterday's walk back, she had an excuse that was almost as unb
Daily Kos

Trump spokesperson digs Russia hole deeper: No isn’t no, and he might hand U.S. citizens to Putin

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders faced a feisty press corps Wednesday afternoon, and it was pretty brutal for her. Sent out to walk back Russian asset Donald Trump's reversal of yesterday's walk back, she had an excuse that was almost as unbelievable as Trump's «would-wouldn't» excuse-making of Tuesday. Here's how it played out Wednesday morning in the brief press availability Wednesday morning: Trump was asked by a reporter if Russia was still targeting the U.S. and he immediately responded «no» then launched into his Russia schtick: «There's been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia. … I think President Putin knows that better than anybody … he's not happy about it, and he shouldn't be happy about it.» Sanders insisted in the press briefing that followed that Trump wasn't answering that question, but saying «no» to answering any reporters' questions. But the video clearly shows him answering following questions and why in the hell would we get his bluster on how tough he is if he wasn't following up on that «no» about Russian interference? That was a ridiculous warm up to the really fucking terrifying part. xSarah Sanders says that «there was conversation» between Putin and Trump about Russian authorities questioning Bill Browder and Michael McFaul; Sanders said there wasn't a commitment made, but that Trump would «work with his team.» (via CBS) pic.twitter.com/eXnUApGuZX— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 18, 2018 Michael McFaul is the former United State Ambassador to Russia. Trump talked to Putin about AND IS CONSIDERING handing over a former U.S. ambassador. To Putin. Trump is actually following up on this with this national security team, not ruling it out.

Trump administration issues new tax ruling to make dark money even darker

Russian asset Donald Trump's Treasury Department has issued a new ruling that would protect the identity of donors to some tax-exempt organizations like Planned Parenthood. And, more to the point, like the National Rifle Association. Yeah, the NRA that is inc
Daily Kos

Trump administration issues new tax ruling to make dark money even darker

Russian asset Donald Trump's Treasury Department has issued a new ruling that would protect the identity of donors to some tax-exempt organizations like Planned Parenthood. And, more to the point, like the National Rifle Association. Yeah, the NRA that is increasingly proving to be another Russian asset helping Republicans win political power. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the move, saying «Americans shouldn’t be required to send the IRS information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area.» He also said that it won't make any difference in transparency, that the «same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected.» However, it also means that wealthy donors of dark money contributions to politically active groups—again, like the NRA—will have one more shield from exposure. Those organizations don't have to disclose contributions to the FEC and now they can keep them secret from the IRS, too. However, and this pretty much exposes just how politically motivated this decision is, traditional charity groups still have to disclose donors. It's just the politically oriented groups that can keep donors secret. While it «frees labor unions, issue advocacy organizations, veterans groups and other nonprofits that do not receive tax-exempt money from meeting confidential disclosure requirements set in place decades ago,» it wasn't the labor unions and veterans groups and Planned Parenthood that were lobbying the Trump administration for this change. It was conservative groups, like the tea party which has been hammering on the IRS since it was supposedly unfairly targeted for scrutiny under the Obama administration (it wasn't) who have been agitating for it. That's going to make it even easier for Russian money to find its way to the NRA! Which would be just fine with Trump's new Supreme Court nominee, who has no problem at all with foreign money flowing into dark money groups.

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