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Christopher Hasson is just the latest sign of America's rising far-right domestic terrorist tide

The scripted violence scenario represented by Christopher Hasson, the 49-year-old Coast Guard lieutenant arrested last week and charged with plotting a massive domestic terrorist attack on leading media and Democratic Party figures, is the stuff of national n
Daily Kos

Christopher Hasson is just the latest sign of America's rising far-right domestic terrorist tide

The scripted violence scenario represented by Christopher Hasson, the 49-year-old Coast Guard lieutenant arrested last week and charged with plotting a massive domestic terrorist attack on leading media and Democratic Party figures, is the stuff of national nightmares. But the nightmare is hardly over. Even more frightening is the realization that Hasson likely is just one of many radicalized white men poised to take violent action on “a scale rarely seen.” Certainly Hasson’s plans were remarkably wide-reaching. Inspired in large part by Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik—and in particular by Breivik’s ardent belief in the white-nationalist hoax theory called “cultural Marxism”—Hasson wrote: “I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth.” Foremost among his targets were leading media and Democratic Party figures, including MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, Ari Melber, and Chris Hayes, CNN’s Van Jones and Don Lemon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker. To carry out these assassinations, Hasson had amassed an armory in his basement, including 15 weapons and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. In his deleted emails, investigators found Hasson musing about carrying out a “two-pronged attack” using bioterror weapons and a sniper attack. He also was an ardent white nationalist. In addition to his admiration for Breivik, Hasson corresponded with other neo-Nazis. He was particularly keen on the work of white supremacist Harold Covington, who promoted creating a “white homeland” in the Pacific Northwest, but who died in 2018. “How long can we hold out there and prevent niggerization of the Northwest until whites wake up on their own or are forcibly made to make a decision whether to roll over and die or wake up on their own remains to be seen,” Hasson wrote Covington in a 2017 draft letter. However, when Hasson was first arrested on Feb. 14, it was on mundane drug and weapons charges, and hardly merited a blip on anyone’s radar. Hasson was caught because he had been buying the addictive painkiller Tramadol from a drug dealer while stationed at U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in Baltimore. Those circumstances underscore the haphazard nature of American law enforcement’s handling of far-right domestic terrorism: Hasson wasn’t caught because investigators were seeking neo-Nazis within the ranks of the military—which is indeed a serious and ongoing issue, but one which very few resources are directed to addressing—but simply by fortunate happenstance.

House resolution to end Trump's national non-emergency will be introduced on Friday

A week into the national non-emergency, Democrats are preparing to introduce a bill to end Donald Trump’s “I didn’t have to do this” farce. The very brief resolution, which simply declares Trump’s emergency declaration “terminated,” will be fil
Daily Kos

House resolution to end Trump's national non-emergency will be introduced on Friday

A week into the national non-emergency, Democrats are preparing to introduce a bill to end Donald Trump’s “I didn’t have to do this” farce. The very brief resolution, which simply declares Trump’s emergency declaration “terminated,” will be filed soon after the House opens for business on Friday. Its passage is being spearheaded in the House by Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who has stated that he already has at least one Republican ready to sign on to the bill.  As CNN reported on Thursday, Nancy Pelosi spent the day lining up the vote with Democratic House members and inviting Republicans to join them in ending Trump’s overreach. A number of Republicans in both the House and the Senate have expressed something ranging from “discomfort” to “outrage” at Trump’s action, but it’s not known if any of them signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution before a Thursday afternoon deadline. According to USA Today, the bill will be introduced early on Friday and is expected to pass in the Democratic-majority House. It would then face a required vote in the Senate within 18 days—though it could happen sooner if Mitch McConnell were to bring it to the floor. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is preparing to introduce a matching resolution. Should the bill pass out of the House with anything more than one or two Republican votes, it could add to pressures to what CNN is describing as “the longest 18 days” of Mitch McConnell’s career. McConnell publicly announced that he was supporting Trump’s emergency declaration in order to get his signature on the government funding bill and avoid a second shutdown, but he did so over the vocal protest of several members of his own party. If a handful of those Republicans decided to follow through and sign on to support the resolution, it could pass in the Senate as well as in the House, putting it on Trump’s desk for what the White House has already announced is a certain veto. But just getting that far would risk a schism in the Republican Party over signing away the role of Congress in order to support Trump. After a decade of chest-thumping about executive overreach for every minor action taken by Barack Obama, Republicans finally have a chance to vote on something that addresses a genuinely massive and obvious abuse of power. But Mitch McConnell is likely to use his role in the Senate to protect Trump’s gutting of the Senate’s power right up to the last bitter moment.

Morning Digest: State board orders redo in North Carolina House race tainted by GOP campaign's fraud

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar. Lead
Daily Kos

Morning Digest: State board orders redo in North Carolina House race tainted by GOP campaign's fraud

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar. Leading Off ● NC-09: On Thursday, after four days of hearings into charges that Republican Mark Harris benefitted from an illegal absentee ballot scheme in last year’s race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, the bipartisan state Board of Elections unanimously voted to hold a new election. This will be the first time a re-vote has occurred in a House race since 1974, when a malfunctioning voting machine was enough to cast doubt on Republican Henson Moore’s 44-vote win in a contest in Louisiana; Moore decisively won the do-over the following year. Campaign Action Democrat Dan McCready, a businessman and retired Marine, has long been preparing to compete here again, and there’s no question his fellow Democrats will give him the chance to try once more. There’s far more uncertainty, however, on the GOP side. Last year, the Republican-led state legislature passed a law mandating new primaries whenever a new election is ordered in a congressional contest. That’s a change from prior practice, which would have required only a new general election be held between the existing nominees—something that would have left the GOP stuck with Harris. On Thursday, McCready’s attorney, Marc Elias, declined to say if he’d challenge this new law in court. If there’s a new Republican primary, Harris is likely to face plenty of opposition if he runs again. That’s a big if, though: Harris, who said at Thursday’s hearing that he’d suffered two strokes in January and was “struggling” to make it through his testimony as a witness, has not yet said what he’ll do, though after the board’s vote, his wife said «we will think about» another bid. It will be up to the board, rather than Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, to schedule this new race. However, it’s possible that the new election for the 9th District will be held the same day as the pending special election for the 3rd District, which became open after GOP Rep. Walter Jones died last week. Since Cooper is tasked with scheduling the 3rd District vote, he may end up having a say in when voters in the 9th District will go to the polls if the board chooses to follow his lead. The board’s vote to hold a new election capped off a dramatic week of proceedings that were nothing but a disaster for Harris. On Wednesday, his own son, federal prosecutor John Harris, testified that he'd warned his father about McCrae Dowless, the operative accused of masterminding the illegal absentee ballot harvesting operation on behalf of Harris’ campaign.

Yale psych prof: If Trump weren't president he would be «contained and evaluated»

Psychiatrist and editor of «Dangerous Case of Donald Trump» says «a lot worse will happen» if Trump is not removed
Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture Salon

Yale psych prof: If Trump weren't president he would be «contained and evaluated»

Psychiatrist and editor of «Dangerous Case of Donald Trump» says «a lot worse will happen» if Trump is not removed

Cartoon: It’s a wall emergency!

x Vimeo Video Well, Trump’s emergency declaration is here — time to get ready for ripping off funding from military construction and anti-drug trafficking activities, hooray! We’ve got to build a wall that’s already tremendously built and take mone
Daily Kos

Cartoon: It’s a wall emergency!

x Vimeo Video Well, Trump’s emergency declaration is here — time to get ready for ripping off funding from military construction and anti-drug trafficking activities, hooray! We’ve got to build a wall that’s already tremendously built and take money from anti-drug trafficking to pay for a thing that cuts down on drug trafficking. Follow? This wall (or wall-like thing made up of beautiful vertical slats) is a grand monument to Trump’s “build the wall” campaign chant. That’s it. It’s not really about doing anything. Illegal immigration is way down. Drugs aren’t sped through the desert, they come through official ports of entry. Hordes of asylum-seekers don’t run through the desert, they tend to go to Border Patrol posts and turn themselves in so they can begin the legal asylum process. Never mind the details about the wall and immigration, let’s just mess with the separation of powers and the U.S. Constitution. How’s that for not politically correct? This wall will continue to be a giant political vacuum that sucks attention from everything else. (Except maybe more indictments?) Enjoy the cartoon, and be sure to visit me on my Patreon page for behind-the-scenes goodies!

Science denier who once compared CO2 to Jews in Nazi Germany will head Trump's climate panel

William Happer once said CO2 is «actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.» In context, still weird
Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture Salon

Science denier who once compared CO2 to Jews in Nazi Germany will head Trump's climate panel

William Happer once said CO2 is «actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.» In context, still weird

Open thread for night owls: Indivisible plans to fight the Republican agenda in all 50 states

Julia Conley at Common Dreams writes—To Counter GOP's Attack on Democracy, Indivisible Unveils 50-State Plan to Thwart Trump Agenda: “” As the 2020 presidential election grabs headlines with Democrats lining up to challenge President Donald Trump, th
Daily Kos

Open thread for night owls: Indivisible plans to fight the Republican agenda in all 50 states

Julia Conley at Common Dreams writes—To Counter GOP's Attack on Democracy, Indivisible Unveils 50-State Plan to Thwart Trump Agenda: “” As the 2020 presidential election grabs headlines with Democrats lining up to challenge President Donald Trump, the grassroots organization Indivisible on Thursday unveiled its new plan to fight the Republican's anti-democratic agenda in all 50 states over the next year and a half. The Indivisible Initiative will be aimed at thwarting Trump's and the GOP's efforts to roll back voting rights and other key elements of democracy in state houses across the country, as well as building on the successes of progressives in the 2018 midterm elections. «We're rolling out new strategies and support to remake our democracy and circumvent Trump’s agenda, state by state—all 50 of them,» said the Indivisible Team, headed by former congressional staffers Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg, in a letter to supporters and in a video posted to Twitter. [...] Now—with Democrats holding seven new governorships and state legislatures, more than 350 new state legislative seats, and in full control of the governments of six states—progressives have a chance to expand civil rights in states all over the country, Indivisible says. «Working group by group, state by state, is how we're going to reverse the Republicans' damage that eroded voting rights and entrenched their power. It's how we're going to build momentum for the bold, progressive policies we need. It's how we're going to remake our democracy and build power for years to come.» —Indivisible «With the state-level wins we scored in 2018, we have new leverage for states to stop Trump's agenda, turn back the Republicans' damage, and go on offense to advance bold progressive ideas and policies that'll shape the progressive landscape in 2019, 2020, and beyond,» wrote Indivisible in their letter to members. Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES QUOTATION “Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect.”          ~~- Wangari Maathai Unbowed  (2007) TWEET OF THE DAY xActually the dignity of work is about busting myths like this one.Truth is people are working harder and producing more—but wages haven’t kept up. Their hard work is making corporations rich. Workers have earned a raise & dignity of work is achieved by making sure they get it. https://t.co/hfcNsdLAV2— Sherrod Brown (@SherrodBrown) February 22, 2019 BLAST FROM THE PAST On this date at Daily Kos in 2009—You and UBS: Swiss bank accounts. Just the term brings with it a mysterious, dangerous air. A place for shadowy assassins to pick up their pay. International agents collecting on acts of extortion. Dusty hordes of Nazi treasure. However, Swiss giant UBS has admitted to something just as illegal, and a good deal more tawdry. They have been using their operations in the US to lure wealthy Americans into plopping their millions into UBS accounts, where they can evade taxes. The U.S. government has been probing UBS with help from sources such as a former UBS banker, Bradley Birkenfeld, who last year pleaded guilty to helping a California real estate mogul evade millions of dollars of taxes. Birkenfeld told investigators that UBS personnel went to elaborate lengths to help U.S. clients stash money in secret Swiss accounts.UBS is complaining that, shortly after the Bush administration came to town in 2001, they signed a get out of jail free card with the IRS; a contract that authorized UBS to hide their clients' identities as long as UBS promised they would follow the rules. Now UBS is holding to the principled position of no-takey-backseys. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Greg Dworkin rounds up stories of the day: NC-09; another Trump fan turns terrorist; a study shows how race divides us on identity & values; Israeli election chaos. Also, Trump's a huge liar & you should never, ever, ever believe him. Especially “in writing.” x Embedded Content RadioPublic|LibSyn|YouTube|Patreon|Square Cash (Share code: Send $5, get $5!) LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE

Kamala Harris says 'Sign me up' for initiative to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day

Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California who is campaigning for the 2020 presidential election, is more than ready to forego a national holiday that is, well, shameful. Which holiday? Columbus Day.  Before we dig into why Columbus Day is extremely N
Daily Kos

Kamala Harris says 'Sign me up' for initiative to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day

Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California who is campaigning for the 2020 presidential election, is more than ready to forego a national holiday that is, well, shameful. Which holiday? Columbus Day.  Before we dig into why Columbus Day is extremely Not Good, let’s view the details of what Harris said, and what she’d like to see instead. At a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Monday, Harris declared that she supports changing the name of the holiday on the second Monday in October from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. A voter had posed the question at the meeting, asking whether or not she would support an initiative to rename the holiday, to which Harris immediately replied, “Sign me up.”  Harris isn’t alone in wanting to make this important change. As of 2018, an impressive 55 cities had dropped Columbus Day. Berkeley, California, was the first city in the U.S. to make this change, way back in 1992. Four states (South Dakota, Vermont, Alaska, and Hawaii) have already made the change. Oregon doesn’t recognize Columbus Day as an official holiday to start with. What’s so bad about Columbus Day? Oh, where to begin? 

Despite progress, LGBTQ Michiganders are still waiting for solid nondiscrimination protections

In many ways, the civil rights of Michigan’s LGBTQ communities are on a stronger footing than ever before. In May 2018, the state’s Civil Rights Commission expanded its interpretation of existing law to include sexual minorities, and announced it would st
Daily Kos

Despite progress, LGBTQ Michiganders are still waiting for solid nondiscrimination protections

In many ways, the civil rights of Michigan’s LGBTQ communities are on a stronger footing than ever before. In May 2018, the state’s Civil Rights Commission expanded its interpretation of existing law to include sexual minorities, and announced it would start taking and investigating anti-LGBTQ discrimination complaints. In January, newly elected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order banning discrimination in employment and provision of services in state government and among businesses and other organizations contracting with the state. She also eliminated the exemption for nonprofit religious organizations found in a similar order signed by outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. Former Attorney General Bill Schuette may have issued a 2018 opinion saying that the Civil Rights Commission was out of bounds when it extended discrimination protections to LGBTQ residents, but the commission—all of the members of which were appointed or re-appointed by Snyder—ignored him. The commission has also asked current Attorney General Dana Nessel, who helped win the court fight for marriage equality, to revisit Schuette’s opinion. In early February, she agreed to do so. And, of course, marriage equality has been the law of the land since 2015. While these developments mark huge strides forward for the cause of equal protection under the law, Michigan still has a long way to go. In a law being contested in federal court by the ACLU of Michigan, state-contracted foster care and adoption agencies are allowed to practice religion-based bigotry against sexual minorities. Equality Michigan, Michigan’s largest LGBTQ victim-advocacy organization, says that it served more than 400 victims of anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence in 2018 alone. In the largest survey of its kind, in 2015 the National Center for Transgender Equality found widespread discrimination and harassment against transgender Michiganders in areas including employment, education, housing, and health care. Even with all the progress the state has made, the ACLU of Michigan fielded a complaint after a Kroger cashier refused to sell cigarettes to a transgender man whose gender marker didn’t match the legal name on his driver’s license, and one from a gay man who is being harassed by the security guard at his apartment complex. The solution, advocates say, is simple: The state must expand the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to explicitly protect Michiganders on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Will my children ever be free in a society founded on white supremacy?

I watch the world of permissive parenting from behind a glass of self- and socially imposed limitations. I enjoy observing the children’s huge smiles as their parents allow them to explore the world with few restrictions, if any. The benefits of allowing k
Daily Kos

Will my children ever be free in a society founded on white supremacy?

I watch the world of permissive parenting from behind a glass of self- and socially imposed limitations. I enjoy observing the children’s huge smiles as their parents allow them to explore the world with few restrictions, if any. The benefits of allowing kids to experience the world around us are countless. I know that if I want to raise children with a healthy sense of attachment, it’s the way to go. Despite my knowledge, I practice a more restrictive set of parenting behaviors. Right now, my children still smile, but I know that one day they will realize how different my parenting style was from their friends’ parents’. Because, unfortunately, many of my parenting decisions are made from a place of anxiety and fear. I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be able to comfortably allow my children to participate in the freedom other children enjoy. As I watch the other children experience the freedom to make mistakes and have the option to just be kids, I feel guilty. At 3 years old, my son has a sense of what isn’t acceptable during play. And when he violates those boundaries, I have no problem sending dagger-filled glances his way. The looks I give him have been passed down. It’s a powerful glare that was perfected across generations of black motherhood. It’s a connection to my ancestors who limited their children’s actions in an attempt to preserve their existence. The times of imminent danger have passed, but the fear remains. My son doesn’t know about that world. He hasn’t heard the stories of black children punished for doing normal child things. He just knows I’m stopping him from running with friends, so he cries like a normal kid. But our world doesn’t see black kids as “normal.” It sees them as future criminals.

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Hagedorn was paid $3,000 for speeches to far-right hate group

There is no apparent end to conservative efforts to put bug-crazy lunatics into positions of power in America. In Wisconsin, efforts are focused on elevating the obsessively anti-LGBT Brian Hagedorn onto the state Supreme Court. Hagedorn has at least two de
Daily Kos

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Hagedorn was paid $3,000 for speeches to far-right hate group

There is no apparent end to conservative efforts to put bug-crazy lunatics into positions of power in America. In Wisconsin, efforts are focused on elevating the obsessively anti-LGBT Brian Hagedorn onto the state Supreme Court. Hagedorn has at least two decades of conspiracy-minded and otherwise loopy anti-LGBT (and anti-abortion, and anti-take-your-pick) rhetoric behind him, so it's not as if he is an unknown quantity or someone who state conservatives believe could slip under the radar. He's argued that homosexuality is no different than sexually assaulting a dog, called the NAACP a «disgrace to America, and called Planned Parenthood a »wicket organization« committed to »killing babies." He's the Wisconsin version of Roy Moore, presumably minus a history of attempted child rapes. But lest we think there's no more to uncover about the man, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that as a state Court of Appeals judge for three years, he gave paid speeches to a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBT hate group. Hagedorn, a judge on the state Court of Appeals, gave speeches in 2015, 2016 and 2017 to Alliance Defending Freedom, earning more than $1,000 each time, according to his campaign and his filings with ethics regulators.

Notes from the broken healthcare system: Lavish bonuses for brokers increase your out-of-pocket cost

If the health insurance industry wants to stave off a massive reform of the nation's healthcare system that leaves them out in the cold, they're doing this all wrong. An in-depth investigation by ProPublica and NPR's «Shots» blog reveals the obsce
Daily Kos

Notes from the broken healthcare system: Lavish bonuses for brokers increase your out-of-pocket cost

If the health insurance industry wants to stave off a massive reform of the nation's healthcare system that leaves them out in the cold, they're doing this all wrong. An in-depth investigation by ProPublica and NPR's «Shots» blog reveals the obscene payouts insurance companies make to independent brokers for getting employers to sign up. Those massive payouts end up being passed on to those same employers, and the people who work for them, via higher coverage costs. When I say «obscene,» I mean really, truly excessive. Like Health Net of California’s providing bonuses of $150,000 for each employer group signed up. New York's EmblemHealth caps its per-employer group bonuses at $100,000, but offers unlimited bonuses and also gives top sellers «the chance of a lifetime» to bat against legendary New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera. Cigna offers its top sellers five-day vacation stays at a luxury resort in the Bahamas. These brokers are supposed to be the representatives of employer groups, hired to help them navigate the complex system of health insurance and get them the best options for their employee coverage. The employers are the brokers' clients, but the insurance companies pay the brokers with commissions that are generally 3 to 6 percent of the total premium cost to the employers. ProPublica provides an example of a company with 100 employees paying premiums that add up to about $50,000 a year for the broker, payable as long as the employer is holding that plan. That fee is coming from the premiums paid by employers and their employees. When the premiums go up, so does the broker's commission. These massive bonuses are also being paid out of the employers’ (and the workers they're covering) salaries, albeit less directly. They're also creating a «classic conflict of interest» for the brokers who are supposed to be working for their clients in finding the best deal for them, says Eric Campbell, director of research at the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities.

Senate would like to talk with one of Trump's other friends in Moscow

David Geovanis is an American businessman who was born in Massachussets and is a graduate of Donald Trump's alma mater, the Wharton School, but he’s also been in Russia since the 1990s, has since become a Russian citizen, and is one of Trump’s most fa
Daily Kos

Senate would like to talk with one of Trump's other friends in Moscow

David Geovanis is an American businessman who was born in Massachussets and is a graduate of Donald Trump's alma mater, the Wharton School, but he’s also been in Russia since the 1990s, has since become a Russian citizen, and is one of Trump’s most familiar contacts in Moscow. It’s that connection that has put Geovanis’ name on the list of people whom Congress would very much like to speak with, but who have so far avoided making an appearance. Among other things, they’d like to know if there really is material that the Russians could use as leverage over Trump. The events involving Geovanis go back to 17 years before the 2013 Miss Universe weekend usually associated with the “pee pee tape.” According to CNN, Geovanis arranged Trump’s 1996 trip to Moscow as part of an earlier plan to build a Trump Tower in the Russian capital. That trip included a meeting with the mayor of Moscow, one in which Trump was assisted by Geovanis along with his associates Howard Lorber and Bennet LeBow.  And it’s here that this story starts to run in every direction. If the name Howard Lorber sounds familiar, it’s because Lorber was one of the two men whom Donald Trump Jr. called after arranging the Trump Tower meeting with Russian operatives. Though the media has been quick to jump on the idea that the calls were somehow innocent, the truth is that, moments after arranging a meeting with Russian operatives identified to him as as being in the service of the Russian government, Donald Trump Jr. called on a man whom he knew as one of his father’s connections to Moscow. Not only that, but Geovanis, Lorber, and LeBow were all in Moscow trying to get Trump’s tower built on land they had purchased under the name the Brooke Group. Since then, they’ve changed the name to Vector Group, and a major investor in the company is conservative billionaire, Trump supporter, and Steve Bannon partner Robert Mercer. But, while Lorber and LeBow stayed with Vector, Geovanis moved on to working for someone with other connections to Trump—Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, also known as Paul Manafort’s boss.  It’s … complicated. And it’s made more complicated because Geovanis has so far ignored requests to talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee. But there seems to be no one involved in the story of Trump 2016 who doesn’t have some tie to that trip in 1996. 

This Week in Statehouse Action: A Little Less Legislation edition

Last weekend, a tribute to Elvis Presley aired on NBC, and I was so confused. Why honor Elvis now? He was born in January, died in August, and … did nothing of particular note in any February. Last December was the 50th anniversary of his big 1968 comeba
Daily Kos

This Week in Statehouse Action: A Little Less Legislation edition

Last weekend, a tribute to Elvis Presley aired on NBC, and I was so confused. Why honor Elvis now? He was born in January, died in August, and … did nothing of particular note in any February. Last December was the 50th anniversary of his big 1968 comeback special, so maybe NBC was trying to get in on that hot commemorative action but things ran just a bit behind schedule. Sometimes legislatures run behind schedule, too. That’s how we end up with special sessions, unfunded state governments, and creative timekeeping (yes, sometimes lawmakers do just turn the clocks in the room back to avoid missing that midnight deadline). Campaign Action ERA Blues: In Virginia, where Gov. Northam still hasn’t resigned, the House of Delegates dealt the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment a lethal blow on Thursday. The measure, which passed the state Senate earlier in the session with solid bipartisan support, had failed to make it out of a House committee—the traditional path to the floor for any piece of legislation. With just a couple of days remaining in the 2019 legislative session, House Democrats made a last-ditch play to save the ERA—specifically, a rules change that would have allowed the measure onto the House floor for a vote by the full chamber. And it almost worked. All 49 Democratic House members voted for the change, as did one Republican: Lucky David Yancey, who achieved infamy in early 2018 for keeping his seat—and keeping Republicans in control of the chamber—by literal luck of the draw. Fun fact! Clinton won Yancey’s seat in 2016 50-44, and his HD-94 is one of the districts that will become even bluer under the new court-drawn House maps that will be in effect this fall. The most bitter thing about this tie vote, though, isn’t Yancey’s obvious fear of losing his trending-Democratic seat. You see, two other Republicans actually signed on as co-sponsors of the ERA: Dels. Roxann Robinson and Chris Stolle. And both voted against allowing the measure they were willing to put their names on get a full vote on the House floor. Robinson’s HD-27 went for Trump 48-46 and will be unaffected by the new House map. Democrat Larry Barnett is taking her on this fall, though it’s not too late for other candidates to jump in. Stolle’s HD-83 went for Trump 51-44, but it’s going to move significantly towards the Democratic column under the new House maps a court drew to remedy the GOP General Assembly’s racial gerrymander—the redrawn district backed Clinton 48-47. Democrat Nancy Guy has filed to run against Stolle, but considering how much bluer this district is about to get, expect more Democrats to jump in the race before filing closes in March.

McCabe's 'masterful chess move' may have cemented Mueller's appointment and Trump's fate

The actions of former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe immediately following the early firing of James Comey may have virtually ensured the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Donald Trump, according to a panel of experts on MSNBC. The revelatio
Daily Kos

McCabe's 'masterful chess move' may have cemented Mueller's appointment and Trump's fate

The actions of former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe immediately following the early firing of James Comey may have virtually ensured the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Donald Trump, according to a panel of experts on MSNBC. The revelation arose from an interview Deadline's Nicolle Wallace conducted with McCabe on Wednesday. Panelists listening in the green room first surmised and later confirmed with McCabe directly that he had added Trump's name to the FBI's existing Russia investigations instead of opening up separate investigations into him. McCabe also, they confirmed, added the obstruction of justice case to the existing probe into Russian interference. «He added the president to the already predicated, already long existing case on Russian meddling with the campaign,» explained former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi. «The obstruction case was not separate either. He added that to the existing [counterintelligence] case, so anyone trying to close that is closing an obstruction case on the president.» The way McCabe decided to structure the cases had both practical impact and, in retrospect, symbolic importance. Symbolically, it meant that McCabe had what he himself described as «an articulable basis» to add Trump's name to the existing probe. «Why is that important?» said Figliuzzi. «That case was a full counterintelligence investigation ... you have specific and articulable facts that someone is or may be an agent of a foreign power. He felt he had enough [evidence] to add Trump's name to that existing case—that's big news.» But McCabe’s actions also had some very important immediate effects. First, it meant that investigators instantly had a full panoply of investigative tools—such as going to FISA court—already at their disposal.  Additionally, both Figliuzzi and former Justice Department spokesperson Matt Miller agreed that it was a «masterful chess move» in the moment in terms of ensuring the probe would have a certain amount of longevity. 

Senate Democrats plan to introduce resolution blocking Trump's national emergency

Senate Democrats are preparing to introduce a resolution rejecting Donald Trump's national emergency declaration as House Democrats plan to take a similar step Friday. Similar to Pelosi's push for a bipartisan front against Trump's attempt to seize some $6 b
Daily Kos

Senate Democrats plan to introduce resolution blocking Trump's national emergency

Senate Democrats are preparing to introduce a resolution rejecting Donald Trump's national emergency declaration as House Democrats plan to take a similar step Friday. Similar to Pelosi's push for a bipartisan front against Trump's attempt to seize some $6 billion in funding for his border wall, Sen. Chuck Schumer also urged members of both parties to reject Trump's power grab. “This issue transcends partisan politics, and I urge all senators — Democrats and Republicans — to support this resolution to terminate the president’s emergency declaration when it comes up for a vote in the Senate," Schumer said in a statement. The Resolution of Disapproval only requires majority support in both chambers to pass, and it is expected to sail through the House. If all Democratic senators vote for it in the upper chamber, the support of only four GOP senators would be needed to send it to Trump's desk. Trump is expected to veto it, most likely without a hint of grace. A two-thirds vote would be needed in both chambers to override a veto and for the resolution to succeed.  Though at least half a dozen Republican senators have expressed doubts about Trump's declaration, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is the only one to say she will support the disapproval resolution. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell capitulated to Trump, going on the record in support of the national emergency, in exchange for Trump's signature on the government funding bill.  Sounds like all those GOP senators are going to have a chance to choose between backing Trump's indefensible executive action or actually taking a stand. Popcorn, please.   

Leader of White House climate panel compared attempts to curb CO2 with Hitler's attacks on the Jews

The White House is establishing a new climate group, the Presidential Committee on Climate Security. If you’re thinking that Finally!! the Trump regime is becoming enlightened about the crisis we have on our hands … well, you’ve forgotten who we’r
Daily Kos

Leader of White House climate panel compared attempts to curb CO2 with Hitler's attacks on the Jews

The White House is establishing a new climate group, the Presidential Committee on Climate Security. If you’re thinking that Finally!! the Trump regime is becoming enlightened about the crisis we have on our hands … well, you’ve forgotten who we’re dealing with here.  Trump and his coterie of climate science deniers have something else than enlightenment in mind: shooting down assertions that climate change is a national security threat, according to several federal intelligence agencies, including the office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Pentagon, and all the service branches. Suspicions that these agencies are all part of a climate change hoax just drip off the wording in a late-2018 National Security Council discussion paper on the matter. After taking note of the assertions of the agencies and departments, it states, “However, these scientific and national security judgments have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial scientific peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security,”  Rigor. Independence. That’s certainly what we can expect from a committee to be led by NSC member Will Happer, a distinguished emeritus Princeton physics professor who was once chair of the George C. Marshall Institute, a right-wing disinformation outfit that disputes the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists. He has served in several government posts, including as director of the Office of Science in the Department of Energy under the first President Bush in 1991-93. He is also a veteran member of the Cold War advisory group JASON, set up to scrutinize defense-related science questions. Happer believes that extra carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere should be counted as an asset, not a detriment. Ten years ago, as reported by the Daily Princetonian, he said of climate science: “This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda,” Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, said in an interview. “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.” [...] “All the evidence I see is that the current warming of the climate is just like past warmings. In fact, it’s not as much as past warmings yet, and it probably has little to do with carbon dioxide, just like past warmings had little to do with carbon dioxide,” Happer explained. Then, in 2014, as reported this week by Ed Mazza, Happer went full wacko in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box: “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.” So climate scientists aren’t just mistaken and “alarmist.” They seek a new Holocaust. Your tax dollars at work. The climate security panel’s report can be counted on to be a doozy. Perhaps they can juice it up with a foreword from Republican Sen. James “Snowballs Mean There’s No Warming” Inhofe.

Trump labor secretary broke federal law with sweetheart deal for billionaire pedophile, judge rules

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has been one of the more low-profile members of Donald Trump’s Cabinet … so renewed attention to Acosta’s role in a sweetheart deal for a billionaire pedophile is a reminder of what a collection of nightmares that Ca
Daily Kos

Trump labor secretary broke federal law with sweetheart deal for billionaire pedophile, judge rules

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has been one of the more low-profile members of Donald Trump’s Cabinet … so renewed attention to Acosta’s role in a sweetheart deal for a billionaire pedophile is a reminder of what a collection of nightmares that Cabinet is. Acosta is one of a group of federal prosecutors who broke federal law in their handling of a plea deal for Jeffrey Epstein more than a decade ago, a judge ruled Thursday. Acosta, as the U.S. attorney in Miami at the time, negotiated a non-prosecution deal with Epstein that allowed him to serve just 13 months in county jail after pleading guilty to two state-level prostitution charges, despite evidence that he was breaking federal law by running an international sex-trafficking operation with underage victims. Not only did the billionaire pedophile get off with an incredibly light sentence, but—and this is the part where Acosta and his associates acted illegally, according to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra—Epstein’s victims weren’t notified of the deal, so they didn’t have the opportunity to call for its rejection. Two of Epstein’s victims sued in 2008,  citing their rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, and 11 years of litigation later, they have won, with Marra writing that “Particularly problematic was the Government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility.’’ Federal prosecutors, led by Acosta, gave Epstein a voice they denied his victims: “While the Government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the [agreement] with Epstein’s attorneys, scant information was shared with victims.’’ It’s unlikely that Epstein will go back to jail a decade after his release, but the judge gave prosecutors and the victims 15 days to agree on a remedy.

Roger Stone is barred from making public statements about his case after Instagram post

Stone posted was a picture of Judge Amy Berman Jackson caught in what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun
Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture Salon

Roger Stone is barred from making public statements about his case after Instagram post

Stone posted was a picture of Judge Amy Berman Jackson caught in what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun

Nearly 50 Democratic leaders call for government watchdog investigation into ICE force-feeding

Nearly 50 House Democrats are calling on a top government watchdog to investigate the force-feeding of immigrant detainees who have been on hunger strikes in protest of abusive conditions and prolonged imprisonment. “Rather than addressing those complaint
Daily Kos

Nearly 50 Democratic leaders call for government watchdog investigation into ICE force-feeding

Nearly 50 House Democrats are calling on a top government watchdog to investigate the force-feeding of immigrant detainees who have been on hunger strikes in protest of abusive conditions and prolonged imprisonment. “Rather than addressing those complaints,” the members write to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “is force-feeding detainees and reportedly taking other punitive measures, including solitary confinement.” Detainees at a Texas facility began the strike on Dec. 30. When they stopped eating for two weeks, a federal judge allowed the force-feeding, in a painful and torturous process that led some men vomiting and bloodied. “On Thursday, all force-feeding at the detention center near the El Paso airport abruptly stopped after a U.S. district judge said the government had to stop involuntarily feeding two of the detained immigrants,” CBS News reports. But not before the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the United States could be violating a torture agreement by force-feeding, as noted in the letter from the legislators. “Responding with force-feeding, which the United Nations Human Rights Commission has called a cruel and inhumane practice that may violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture, is appalling and casts a pall over our government’s commitment to basic human rights.” Some detainees at the El Paso facility are able to pay bond but have remained jailed for as long as 18 months. A number of others are Sikh asylum-seekers who fear for their lives if they are deported back to India, which a number of ICE officers have threatened to do, the AP reported. Rep. Veronica Escobar, who spearheaded the letter with Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, was the first federal legislator to rush to the facility after initial reports of the forced-feeding. “We continue to have serious concerns about ICE immigration detention standards, as well as the role that outsourcing to private prison companies plays in depressing these standards,” the letter, which includes not one single Republican signature, continues. “We implore you to exercise your oversight responsibilities to make improving conditions at immigration detention facilities a top priority for ICE and ensure the humane treatment of detainees in federal custody.”

'I'm not giving you another chance': Judge tightens Roger Stone gag order after contentious hearing

Roger Stone walked into court this afternoon wearing one of his trademark Mafioso-style suits. Unfortunately, he walked out still wearing that suit rather than something in a stylish orange. But while Judge Amy Berman Jackson didn’t immediately send Stone t
Daily Kos

'I'm not giving you another chance': Judge tightens Roger Stone gag order after contentious hearing

Roger Stone walked into court this afternoon wearing one of his trademark Mafioso-style suits. Unfortunately, he walked out still wearing that suit rather than something in a stylish orange. But while Judge Amy Berman Jackson didn’t immediately send Stone to be Paul Manafort’s new neighbor, it was clear that she was Not Pleased at his behavior. Stone left the courtroom with a tighter gag order and his pinstripe suit practically singed by the judge’s anger. As live-tweeted by Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly and Courthouse News reporter Britain Eakin, the hearing was hilarious … for everyone except Stone. Moments after entering the court, Stone’s attorney’s made a surprise announcement that he wanted to take the stand and testify in his own behalf. This is almost always stupid. In this case it was astoundingly stupid, because while Stone stumbled through multiple repetitions of an apology—during which he mentioned that he was worried about being raped in jail and was under a lot of pressure, and deployed the term “beseech” in begging for mercy— he then immediately undercut any appearance of sincerity through a series of staggeringly idiotic statements. Asked about the crosshairs that appeared in an image on his Instagram feed next to an image of Judge Jackson, Stone claimed that he didn’t know it represented a threat. Instead he claimed that it was a “Celtic symbol,” which he knew because he “looked it up.” Asked about the meaning of the symbol, Stone then turned around and claimed ignorance, saying he “wasn’t into the occult.” Under further questioning from the judge and a prosecutor from the special counsel’s office, Stone then backed away from even owning up to posting the image at all, claiming that his house was “like a headquarters” in which “five or six” volunteers put together his material. He also claimed that he “wasn’t the only one” who used his phone. So Stone completely apologized … then claimed he didn’t do it. Which is never a combo that makes judges happy. Throughout the hearing, Judge Jackson’s anger was obviously increasing, a situation that wasn’t helped by Stone claiming that he was so broke he was “having trouble putting food on the table” and “paying the rent.” After which the judge read from financial documents showing that Stone is pulling in $47,000 a month.

Coast Guard officer accused of plotting mass murder held without bond as chilling new details emerge

At a detention hearing for Christopher Paul Hasson, the U.S. Coast Guard officer who prosecutors say was planning to «murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,» a judge ordered Hasson to be held for 14 days while prosec
Daily Kos

Coast Guard officer accused of plotting mass murder held without bond as chilling new details emerge

At a detention hearing for Christopher Paul Hasson, the U.S. Coast Guard officer who prosecutors say was planning to «murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,» a judge ordered Hasson to be held for 14 days while prosecutors review additional charges. According to the indictment, on Jan. 17, 2019, Hasson created a list of people prosecutors believe he intended to kill; all of the people listed are high-profile Democrats or well-known journalists and commentators from CNN and MSNBC. Prosecutors also detailed his Google searches that same day.  v. 8:54 a.m.: “what if trump illegally impeached” w. 8:57 a.m.: “best place in dc to see congress people” x. 8:58 a.m.: “where in dc to congress live” y. 10:39 a.m.: “civil war if trump impeached” z. 11:26 a.m.: “social democrats usa” Jayne Miller at WBAL TV reports his legal team offered an unusual defense of Hasson’s actions. In court, an attorney for Hasson accused the FBI of going after Hasson to show «it is not just targeting Muslims.» The government argued Hasson was using his work computer to plot attacks against politicians and media figures. The defense said it's «not a crime to think negative things.» U.S. Attorney Robert Hur called the evidence, including Hasson’s own writings, “disturbing.” «The sheer number and force of the weapons that were recovered from Mr. Hasson's residence in this case, coupled with the disturbing nature of his writings, appear to reflect the very significant threat to the safety of the community particularly given the position of trust that Mr. Hasson held with the U.S. government,» Hur said after Thursday's hearing. «Thankfully, we were able to prevent and avoid any loss of life in this case.» The FBI affidavit revealed Hasson had been illegally making large purchases of the pain medication Tramadol, which he was later observed (via a video camera) taking at his desk at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in Maryland. The affidavit also detailed his numerous firearms purchases in the last two years, as well as purchases of some items from the NRA Range store inside its Virginia headquarters. 

Sentencing scheduled for Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort

Manafort will be sentenced for multiple crimes at a U.S. district court in Virginia on March 8, per a court filing
Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture Salon

Sentencing scheduled for Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort

Manafort will be sentenced for multiple crimes at a U.S. district court in Virginia on March 8, per a court filing

Border agents are deciding on their own to separate kids, with no input from child welfare experts

“Separating a child from a family in most communities requires a child welfare specialist and involvement of the judicial system,” USA Today reports, “often with a judge scrutinizing the case for months or even years.” This, however, isn’t the cas
Daily Kos

Border agents are deciding on their own to separate kids, with no input from child welfare experts

“Separating a child from a family in most communities requires a child welfare specialist and involvement of the judicial system,” USA Today reports, “often with a judge scrutinizing the case for months or even years.” This, however, isn’t the case at the southern border, where federal immigration agents are deciding on their own to separate families, in some cases basing their reasoning on outright lies. The Texas Civil Rights Project says in a new report that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers accused one dad of being a gang member but provided no evidence to back up their claim. In July, another dad was accused of faking his daughter’s birth certificate and then was separated from her. “He was not given an interpreter during his interview.” But the paperwork was real, and DNA testing proved he was her dad. They weren’t reunited until the next month. Judge Dana Sabraw ordered a stop to family separation at the border last summer, but made an exception for cases in which the parent is a danger to the child. The problem with that, as USA Today notes, is that “at the border, the removal decision is made solely by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in the field. No child welfare specialist is required, and no judge is involved in a decision that cannot be appealed.” It’s clear agents are abusing this exception. Even CBP’s former commissioner under the Obama administration “questioned whether agents should be conducting the child welfare investigations alone,” saying that families are fleeing traumatic situations, and nervous behavior relating to that could then be used by officers to justify separating them. «How do you determine whether the child is afraid of the parent,” Gil Kerlikowske asked, “or afraid of the Border Patrol agent in the green uniform?» The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought forward the lawsuit to reunite separated families, plans to raise this issue this week in ongoing court proceedings relating to the lawsuit. «The government appears to be doing an end run around the court order by unilaterally declaring parents a danger, and failing to give parents the ability to rebut that charge,» the ACLU’s Lee Gelernt said. Nor should agents who have been caught gleefully destroying life-saving jugs of water in the desert or accused of sexually assaulting minors be left to decide child welfare concerns. Sabraw should take this decision out of their hands. There must also be a push to end another crisis, which is that kids separated under the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy remain in U.S. custody, 210 days after Sabraw’s reunification deadline. Family separation remains a crisis.

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