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Sunday night owls: Federal lobbying soared to near-record $3.47 billion in 2019

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week Karl Evers-Hillstrom at OpenSecrets’ Center for Responsive Politics writes—Lobbying spending in 2019 nears all-time high as health sector smashes records: Federal lobbying spendi
Daily Kos

Sunday night owls: Federal lobbying soared to near-record $3.47 billion in 2019

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week Karl Evers-Hillstrom at OpenSecrets’ Center for Responsive Politics writes—Lobbying spending in 2019 nears all-time high as health sector smashes records: Federal lobbying spending surpassed $3.47 billion last year, a nine-year high, as influential industries tried to sway the Trump administration and Congress over policies that would hurt the bottom lines of some of the nation’s most powerful companies. Not accounting for inflation, lobbying spending in 2019 falls just behind the record $3.51 billion spent in 2010 amid a lobbying bonanza around the Affordable Care Act.

Nuts & Bolts: Complexities of caucus

It’s another Saturday, so for those who tune in, welcome to a diary discussing the Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic campaign. If you’ve missed out, you can catch up anytime: Just visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide. Every week I tackle iss
Daily Kos

Nuts & Bolts: Complexities of caucus

It’s another Saturday, so for those who tune in, welcome to a diary discussing the Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic campaign. If you’ve missed out, you can catch up anytime: Just visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide. Every week I tackle issues I’ve been asked about and, with the help of a lot of great minds, we put together a series aimed at helping small campaigns. This year we are going behind the scenes of the selection process for delegates to the national convention. Primaries are pretty straightforward. State governments run and pay for an organized primary, people vote, the state government tabulates the vote, and winners are declared. This allows for state infrastructure to be used to help make sure the process is well run and the outcomes can be quantified into easy numbers all the way down to precincts and state house districts. The existence of caucus is more often because state governments refuse to pay for the process of choosing a presidential candidate. In these states, the state party—Republican and Democratic—have to pay the cost of providing a means to select their delegation. That can be pretty complex. How complex? This week, we’re looking at the complexities of the caucus.

On the Sunday shows, Trump's Senate bootlickers show how low they can go

Before this evening’s blockbuster John Bolton news, we’d already seen that the level to which Republicans will sink to defend Donald Trump on anything and, literally, everything has no bottom. There seems no cutoff point beyond which now thoroughly-corru
Daily Kos

On the Sunday shows, Trump's Senate bootlickers show how low they can go

Before this evening’s blockbuster John Bolton news, we’d already seen that the level to which Republicans will sink to defend Donald Trump on anything and, literally, everything has no bottom. There seems no cutoff point beyond which now thoroughly-corrupted lawmakers will abandon him; he could sacrifice Mitch McConnell's family to Satan on the steps of the Capitol and senators like Lankford and Cotton would applaud madly at his boldness and explain that this is indeed What Middle America Wanted. Sen. Tom Cotton went pretty damn low on Face The Nation this morning when asked about Trump’s dismissal of soldiers being flown back to the United States for medical treatment after suffering TBIs, or traumatic brain injuries, in the Iranian strikes responding to Trump’s targeted assassination of a top Iranian military leader. Trump said “they had headaches,” and “but it is not very serious.”

John Bolton: Trump explicitly said Ukraine aid freeze was tied to investigations into Democrats

Former national security adviser John Bolton has refused House demands that he testify on the events surrounding the freezing of military aid to Ukraine and the efforts by Donald Trump’s allies and administration officials to pressure the Ukrainian governme
Daily Kos

John Bolton: Trump explicitly said Ukraine aid freeze was tied to investigations into Democrats

Former national security adviser John Bolton has refused House demands that he testify on the events surrounding the freezing of military aid to Ukraine and the efforts by Donald Trump’s allies and administration officials to pressure the Ukrainian government into announcing an investigation into potential Trump election opponent Joe Biden. Bolton is instead writing a book on his tenure. In the now-circulating manuscript for that unreleased book, reports The New York Times, Bolton writes that Donald Trump personally told him he would continue to freeze the nearly $400 million in aid until Ukrainian officials aided his desired investigations into “Democrats” and “the Bidens.” Bolton’s manuscript alleges direct involvement in the scheme to falsely smear and remove U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, reports The Times, and Pompeo both knew the claims to be false and suspected Giuliani was “acting on behalf of other clients.” Bolton also says he personally spoke with Trump Attorney General William Barr to inform Barr that Trump had identified him as part of Rudy Giuliani’s efforts on his now-infamous call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: Barr’s office had previously denied that he knew about that call until much later. Importantly, The Times reports that the Trump White House was sent the manuscript for a standard pre-publication administration review in “recent weeks”—meaning Trump, his legal team, and others implicated have known what Bolton would testify to during this period in which they have loudly and angrily insisted that the Senate call no witnesses. If the White House has intentionally delayed or frozen the book’s publication in an attempt to block it until after the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial, it could constitute yet another act meant to obstruct justice.

Bolton bombshell ramps up the pressure on Senate Republicans to call impeachment witnesses

The report that former national security adviser John Bolton’s book says Donald Trump told him that nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was held up to pressure the country to interfere in the 2020 elections is a direct challenge to every Republi
Daily Kos

Bolton bombshell ramps up the pressure on Senate Republicans to call impeachment witnesses

The report that former national security adviser John Bolton’s book says Donald Trump told him that nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was held up to pressure the country to interfere in the 2020 elections is a direct challenge to every Republican senator. The supposedly “moderate” Republican senators have been frantically searching for any excuse to vote against calling witnesses in Trump’s impeachment—Democrats were mean! Why didn’t the House spend months and months in the courts so that Republicans could accuse them of impeaching close to an election?—but with a report that one of the key witnesses Democrats are seeking can and will fill in exactly what Trump said about his pressure campaign against Ukraine, their excuses are all gone. That’s not to say that Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Cory Gardner, Mitt Romney, and Lamar Alexander will do the right thing. Four of them need to step up and vote for a real trial rather than a continued cover-up. Four of them—or any other Senate Republican—need to be brave enough to go against Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But the fact that we have to question whether four out of 53 Republicans will do this most basic thing to protect the integrity of the presidency and U.S. democracy is yet another indictment of today’s Republican Party and its drive for power above all else. John Bolton is a hard-right warmonger, but somehow Senate Republicans and Donald Trump are making him look good—that’s how bad they are. “Bolton's motivations for testimony - he has a story he wants to tell, and he is concerned he'll be accused of holding stuff back to juice his book sales instead of speaking out,” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted. Now it’s on the Senate. Specifically, any four Senate Republicans to say that they put country, Constitution, and democracy above the short-term interests of Donald Trump and his Republican Party. 

House impeachment managers: Bolton 'directly contradicts the heart' of Trump's defense

The team of House managers presenting the case for impeachment in the Senate trial of Donald Trump have released their first statement responding to the news that John Bolton asserts Trump personally told him he was freezing congressionally-approved militar
Daily Kos

House impeachment managers: Bolton 'directly contradicts the heart' of Trump's defense

The team of House managers presenting the case for impeachment in the Senate trial of Donald Trump have released their first statement responding to the news that John Bolton asserts Trump personally told him he was freezing congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine agreed to assist in investigations of Democrats and his potential challenger Joe Biden: “Today’s explosive revelation that President Trump personally told former National Security Advisor John Bolton that he would continue the freeze on military aid to Ukraine until that country agreed to his political investigations confirms what we already know. There can be no doubt now that Mr. Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the President’s defense and therefore must be called as a witness at the impeachment trial of President Trump. “Senators should insist that Mr. Bolton be called as a witness, and provide his notes and other relevant documents. The Senate trial must seek the full truth and Mr. Bolton has vital information to provide. There is no defensible reason to wait until his book is published, when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision Senators must now make—whether to convict the President of impeachable offenses. “During our impeachment inquiry, the President blocked our request for Mr. Bolton’s testimony. Now we see why. The President knows how devastating his testimony would be, and, according to the report, the White House has had a draft of his manuscript for review. President Trump’s cover-up must come to an end. “Americans know that a fair trial must include both the documents and witnesses blocked by the President—that starts with Mr. Bolton.”

Police investigate alleged attack on transgender journalist as possible hate crime

In a heartbreaking post and video, Serena Daniari alleges she was attacked by two strangers in a New York City subway train on the evening of Friday, Jan. 24. In the now-viral tweet, Daniari, a journalist, alleges she was hit, spit on, and called transphobic
Daily Kos

Police investigate alleged attack on transgender journalist as possible hate crime

In a heartbreaking post and video, Serena Daniari alleges she was attacked by two strangers in a New York City subway train on the evening of Friday, Jan. 24. In the now-viral tweet, Daniari, a journalist, alleges she was hit, spit on, and called transphobic slurs by two people because she is transgender. Now, the NYPD is investigating it as a possible hate crime, as reported by NBC News.

UN top court orders Myanmar to immediately stop genocide against the Rohingya with 'all measures'

The United Nations (UN) top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), finally took its first step in stopping ongoing injustices and violence Rohingya people are facing in Myanmar. In a landmark case at The Hauge, the court made a unanimous ruling Th
Daily Kos

UN top court orders Myanmar to immediately stop genocide against the Rohingya with 'all measures'

The United Nations (UN) top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), finally took its first step in stopping ongoing injustices and violence Rohingya people are facing in Myanmar. In a landmark case at The Hauge, the court made a unanimous ruling Thursday to hear the allegations of genocide brought by Gambia against Myanmar; it ordered Myanmar to “take all measures within its power” to stop and prevent acts of genocide against the Muslim minority and to not destroy any more evidence, CNN reported. Gambia, a Muslim majority country, brought the case to the ICJ in November under allegations that Myanmar was in violation of a 1948 Convention on Genocide and committing horrific acts of genocide including rape, murder, and torture of women and children.  The UN Human Rights Council released a 440-page report that describes the violence inflicted on the Rohingya people as genocide. The report detailed what the council labeled as “massive violations,” and called for further investigation to be done on the “crimes against humanity and war crimes” committed by Myanmar’s military. It also included satellite images to confirm accounts given by victims and witnesses of the abuse. According to the report, those still living in the state of Rakhine not only lack access to education and healthcare but are “forced to live in conditions akin to prison camps,” reports CNN.

Georgia prisoner dies years after racist juror admits wondering 'if black people even have souls'

A Georgia inmate died Friday, Jan. 24 after spending years fighting the jury decision that landed him on death row after he argued a racist juror negatively impacted his case, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Keith “Bo” Tharpe died at 61-ye
Daily Kos

Georgia prisoner dies years after racist juror admits wondering 'if black people even have souls'

A Georgia inmate died Friday, Jan. 24 after spending years fighting the jury decision that landed him on death row after he argued a racist juror negatively impacted his case, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Keith “Bo” Tharpe died at 61-years-old at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison of what the organization representing him reported were likely complications resulting from cancer. His case had earlier went before the U.S. Supreme Court leading to a stay of his execution after what was planned to be his last meal Sept. 26, 2017, the AJC reported. Although Tharpe was sentenced in the death of his sister-in-law Jaquelin Freeman in 1991, the exposure of juror Barney Gattie’s multiple racist comments seven years later brought new light to the case. “After studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls, ” Gattie said in a signed affidavit cited in a Supreme Court decision. The racist also called Tharpe the n-word in the affidavit. “There are two types of black people: 1. Black folks and 2. N----rs,” he said.

New State Department rule to make it more difficult for pregnant applicants to get U.S. visas

The U.S. State Department released a new rule on visas Thursday, scheduled to be published on Jan. 24, aimed at decreasing so-called birth tourism. “Birth tourism,” according to the administration, is the action of a person traveling to the U.S. su
Daily Kos

New State Department rule to make it more difficult for pregnant applicants to get U.S. visas

The U.S. State Department released a new rule on visas Thursday, scheduled to be published on Jan. 24, aimed at decreasing so-called birth tourism. “Birth tourism,” according to the administration, is the action of a person traveling to the U.S. supposedly solely for the purpose of giving birth in the country so that their child qualifies for U.S. citizenship. The new guidelines will allow U.S. consular officials to screen foreigners who they decide might be coming into the U.S. for this supposed purpose, USA Today reports, and will let them require those visitors to prove that they have the money to pay for potential expenses, including transportation, living, and associated medical costs, and to guarantee that obtaining citizenship for their child is not the primary reason for their travel. As USA Today notes, “White House officials offered no evidence or data to support assertions that ‘birth tourism’ is a growing problem. And critics quickly denounced the policy change, saying it's tantamount to a ‘handmaid's test’ and would pave the way for discrimination against female travelers.” 

Republicans make clear they won't be modifying their aversion to facts in defending Trump

On Saturday, Donald Trump’s lawyers lifted the corner a bit on what will be the Republican strategy for fighting impeachment come Monday. First the Republicans will introduce the same five lies they’ve been spouting all along at the impeachment trial
Daily Kos

Republicans make clear they won't be modifying their aversion to facts in defending Trump

On Saturday, Donald Trump’s lawyers lifted the corner a bit on what will be the Republican strategy for fighting impeachment come Monday. First the Republicans will introduce the same five lies they’ve been spouting all along at the impeachment trial and earlier. Then they will repeat the same five lies they just told us. Next they will spend another hour telling the same lies again. At this point they will take a break and hold a few interviews telling Foxaganda reporters the lies they just told on the Senate floor. 

Unproven, made-up ‘science’ and dangerous experiments fuel the right’s war on choice

Traditionally, attacks on women’s reproductive rights were largely frontal in nature. Opponents argued that abortion was wrong on religious or moral grounds, and thus should be made illegal. While they continue to make those arguments, in recent years they
Daily Kos

Unproven, made-up ‘science’ and dangerous experiments fuel the right’s war on choice

Traditionally, attacks on women’s reproductive rights were largely frontal in nature. Opponents argued that abortion was wrong on religious or moral grounds, and thus should be made illegal. While they continue to make those arguments, in recent years they’ve added some new arrows to their quiver. More and more, anti-choicers are seeking to restrict abortion rights or otherwise undermine support for them by relying on a particular type of “science”: science that isn’t really science at all. When medical researchers put together a study, a lot of time and effort goes into it. Generally speaking, a study launches with strict parameters: a certain number of volunteer participants, a certain period of time. Thus, when a study is terminated early, it’s a big deal. Sometimes, for example, the benefits of the particular medication or treatment being tested are, happily, so obvious and significant that it would be unethical to deny it to people in the control group, let alone to the larger public (as in these cancer treatment trials). Other studies, however, are ended early for the opposite reason: The harm caused is so obvious, it would be unethical to continue. This is relevant because a recent study of the efficacy of a bogus “abortion pill reversal” ended early—and not because the researchers were happy with the treatment’s effects.

Sunday snippets: Court nixes case seeking TN voting security; did Iran prez threaten to resign?

Sunday snippets is a regular weekend feature at Daily Kos.  • Sixth Circuit Court says tough beans to voter rights plaintiffs in Tennessee: A unanimous three-judge panel upheld a lower court ruling that found a voting rights group had no standing to sue
Daily Kos

Sunday snippets: Court nixes case seeking TN voting security; did Iran prez threaten to resign?

Sunday snippets is a regular weekend feature at Daily Kos.  • Sixth Circuit Court says tough beans to voter rights plaintiffs in Tennessee: A unanimous three-judge panel upheld a lower court ruling that found a voting rights group had no standing to sue over the lack of security of voting machines used in the Volunteer State. Shelby Advocates for Valid Elections—SAVE—filed suit in 2018 against the Tennessee Election Commission and Secretary of State Tre Hargett. They said obsolete software and equipment means elections in Shelby County, home to Memphis, are vulnerable to hackers who could alter the true results. U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker had previously dismissed their complaint, saying the plaintiffs had not proved neither injury nor imminent threat of injury. • Trump threatens to cut NPR’s funding over Pompeo’s colliding with a reporter and failing at an attempted “gotcha” moment with an unlabeled world map.

Cattle Call 2020: Bernie makes his Iowa (and national) move

Taking a look at the national polling aggregate, Bernie Sanders is making a move: My operating theory has been that Sanders can’t break past his core support in the high-teens. Polls aren’t real votes, but if this polling is accurate, I’m flat-out
Daily Kos

Cattle Call 2020: Bernie makes his Iowa (and national) move

Taking a look at the national polling aggregate, Bernie Sanders is making a move: My operating theory has been that Sanders can’t break past his core support in the high-teens. Polls aren’t real votes, but if this polling is accurate, I’m flat-out wrong, as he’s now in the low 20s. Interestingly, it hasn’t come at Warren’s support, which remains flat. It’s coming from … Pete Buttigieg, who continues to fade. Doesn’t feel or sound right, right? He does seem to have scooped up Tulsi Gabbard’s cast-offs. Beyond that, it must be undecideds? Who knows. Something is happening, and a five-point boost from 17-ish to 22-ish may not sound much on a scale of 0-100, but in a fragmented field, it shows that 1) Sanders did have some room to grow, and 2) you don’t need a lot of support to do well.  More importantly, in the gold-standard Iowa poll, by polling legend Anne Selzer, Sanders was leading in Iowa January 10—something that subsequent polling has pretty much confirmed. Sanders is the current favorite to win Iowa, and that suddenly really matters, as the state’s caucuses are right around the corner. And with that, let’s look at these week’s rankings. (Last week here.)

Tennessee governor signs bill into law that allows foster, adoption agencies to deny LGBTQ couples

Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed an anti-LGBTQ “child welfare” measure into law on Friday, Jan. 24. In short, as previously covered at Daily Kos, the law allows faith-based adoption and foster agencies to deny LGBTQ families based on religious beliefs an
Daily Kos

Tennessee governor signs bill into law that allows foster, adoption agencies to deny LGBTQ couples

Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed an anti-LGBTQ “child welfare” measure into law on Friday, Jan. 24. In short, as previously covered at Daily Kos, the law allows faith-based adoption and foster agencies to deny LGBTQ families based on religious beliefs and ensures said agencies are eligible for state funding. Of course, faith is no excuse to discriminate against people. And it’s worth noting that while LGBTQ couples are the focus here, the law also extends to single people, divorced people, being married to someone who has been divorced, and couples who are different religions. The bill was signed into law anyway and went into effect immediately.  “The governor believes that protection of rights is important, especially religious liberty,« Gillum Ferguson, a spokesperson for Lee, told the Tennessean. »This bill is centered around protecting the religious liberty of Tennesseans and that’s why he signed it.”

Congressional Republicans won't restore the Voting Rights Act, so New York is passing its own

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and his fellow New York Democrats have unveiled a bill that they're calling a state-level version of the federal Voting Rights Act, intended to restore some of the protections that the Sup
Daily Kos

Congressional Republicans won't restore the Voting Rights Act, so New York is passing its own

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and his fellow New York Democrats have unveiled a bill that they're calling a state-level version of the federal Voting Rights Act, intended to restore some of the protections that the Supreme Court's conservative majority stripped away in its infamous 2013 ruling gutting a key part of the federal VRA. That decision did away with the system known as «preclearance,» whereby states and local governments with a history of discriminatory voting practices (mostly in the South) had to obtain approval from the Justice Department to enact any changes to voting laws or procedures. The New York bill would revive that preclearance regime by mandating that all localities in the state obtain approval from the state attorney general for any changes to elections or voting, with a requirement that they demonstrate such changes won't have a discriminatory impact on any racial, ethnic, or language minority groups. The bill also makes it easier to wage litigation against «at-large» voting systems in local governments that dilute minority voting power. Such litigation would prompt those localities to switch from electing bodies such as city council on a citywide basis to electing them by district, which would give minority groups a better chance to elect their preferred candidates. Democrats hold full control over state government, meaning there is a good chance this proposal will become law.

'Space Force' debuts new uniforms, Graham's 2020 opponent, and more you might have missed this week

Yikes, where does the time go? How is it Sunday already? The impeachment trial has dominated the news cycle and our front page, but our staff also picked some other stories that might have flown under the radar but are definitely worth reading. Without furth
Daily Kos

'Space Force' debuts new uniforms, Graham's 2020 opponent, and more you might have missed this week

Yikes, where does the time go? How is it Sunday already? The impeachment trial has dominated the news cycle and our front page, but our staff also picked some other stories that might have flown under the radar but are definitely worth reading. Without further ado, here are our staff picks.

We must keep telling the story of Fred Hampton and 'The First Rainbow Coalition'

As we face the challenges of life in a United States fraught with growing racism, xenophobia, and division, sown deeper each day from the highest office in the land and replicated across the states, towns, and urban and rural sectors of our society, we must t
Daily Kos

We must keep telling the story of Fred Hampton and 'The First Rainbow Coalition'

As we face the challenges of life in a United States fraught with growing racism, xenophobia, and division, sown deeper each day from the highest office in the land and replicated across the states, towns, and urban and rural sectors of our society, we must tear down barriers and look to build stronger coalitions. We need to forge alliances that cut across racial and ethnic lines in order to move forward, together, and defeat that which will destroy us all if we fail to take action. Coalition-building isn’t easy, even among those who have an oppressor in common—yet it can be done.The person who most embodied that ability, for me, is not well-known, even in progressive circles. His name was Fred Hampton.

Saturday night owls: Teacher pay relative to that of other college graduates has collapsed

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week The liberal Economic Policy Institute has published 13 charts that it says show us where our economic priorities ought to be in 2020. The one above is No. 11. Here’s the text EPI wr
Daily Kos

Saturday night owls: Teacher pay relative to that of other college graduates has collapsed

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week The liberal Economic Policy Institute has published 13 charts that it says show us where our economic priorities ought to be in 2020. The one above is No. 11. Here’s the text EPI wrote to go with it: School teacher strikes made the news over and over again in 2019, highlighting the profound disinvestment in the nation’s public schools that has been taking place over recent decades. A growing teacher pay penalty is a critical component of that, as seen in this chart. The teacher pay penalty has not been a fact of U.S. life forever—as recently as the mid-1990s, teacher pay was reasonably competitive. But in the past two decades or more, the relative pay of teachers has collapsed. By 2018, the teacher pay penalty had grown to more than 20%. While teachers do, on average, receive more valuable benefits than their professional peers, these better benefits do not make up for the huge gap in cash compensation. Given the vast reams of research showing the importance of teacher quality to student outcomes, this disinvestment in the pay of teachers is extraordinarily destructive to the quality of the nation’s public education system.

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