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Spotlight on green news & views: Mining OK'd for shorn nat'l monument; losing Greenland ice

This is the 565th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the July 7 edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it. OUTSTA
Daily Kos

Spotlight on green news & views: Mining OK'd for shorn nat'l monument; losing Greenland ice

This is the 565th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the July 7 edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it. OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Lamenting the Loss of a Loser: Deniers Mourn Pruitt’s Resignation: “No one likes a sore winner, but we’re not here to be liked. Here’s how the biggest denial outlets responded to Scott Pruitt’s long-awaited departure last week. The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial blaming the ‘permanent progressive state” for running Pruitt out, while also paradoxically noting that ‘Mr. Pruitt gave his enemies so much ammunition.’ Apparently, the Journal thinks it was wrong for reporters to “have examined every furl of Mr. Pruitt’s forehead.’ Normally, it would be weird for a free and independent media to criticize reporting on government officials, but that’s only if one were to consider the Journal’s editorial board to have standards and ethics and objectives outside that of supporting the GOP. As we’ve repeatedly shown, that’s a silly assumption. As for supposedly non-opinion coverage, let’s look at the Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch, one the most successful Koch folk pretending to be a journalist.” Pakalolo writes—National monument Trump gave back to 'the people of the United States' to be mined by Canadian firm: “During a signing ceremony (along with the corrupt Ryan Zinke) at the Department of the interior in April of 2017, Trump said his executive order overturning the National Monument protections would end ‘another egregious abuse of federal power’ and ‘give that power back to the states and to the people where it belongs.’ Trump accused the previous administration of using the act to "’put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control’ — a practice he derailed as ‘a massive federal land grab.’ Trump, a serial liar on every single issue imaginable, never intended to give the land back to the American people. He instead has handed over the sacred land of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to a Vancouver-based mining company — Glacier Lake Resources Inc. — after the site ‘recently became open for staking and exploration after a 21-year period moratorium,’ the firm said in a June 13 press release.”

How nasty is Georgia GOP race for governor? Former frontrunner accuses rival of 'evil' in his heart

On behalf of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the local Atlanta ABC affiliate Channel 2 Action News, the University of Georgia is out with a poll of the July 24 GOP runoff for governor of Georgia that gives Secretary of State Brian Kemp a 44-41 lead o
Daily Kos

How nasty is Georgia GOP race for governor? Former frontrunner accuses rival of 'evil' in his heart

On behalf of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the local Atlanta ABC affiliate Channel 2 Action News, the University of Georgia is out with a poll of the July 24 GOP runoff for governor of Georgia that gives Secretary of State Brian Kemp a 44-41 lead over Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. This is the third poll we've seen here since late June: GOP firm Cygnal, which says they're neutral in the runoff, gave Cagle a 44-43 edge, while Kemp released a Public Opinion Strategies survey showing a 45-45 tie. Cagle outpaced Kemp 39-26 in the first round of the primary in late May, and it's probably not a good sign for him that these polls don't find him taking much more support despite his huge spending edge. If Cagle or his allies have better number, they're not releasing them. What Cagle is releasing, though, is a whole lot of self-pity and vitriol in Kemp's direction. Cagle has been on the defensive since Clay Tippins, who took fourth place in May, released a recorded conversation with Cagle last month where the lieutenant governor admitted to supporting a bad bill solely to stop a super PAC from backing another candidate. Kemp has used that audio in an ad against Cagle, and earlier this month, his campaign released audio of Cagle telling Tippins that primary voters were too extreme and driven by identity politics. On Thursday, just after a heated debate, Cagle accused Kemp and Tippons of engaging in a «set up» to hurt him and using his words out of context, and he predicted there was more audio to come. And Cagle did not stop there: «Who does this? Who is a person that is that evil in their heart, to come in and mislead someone in a way that leads them down a path, to get them to say certain things, that they can then shape a narrative around? It’s just an evil act. A very evil act. It’s a dirty trick, and it’s wrong, and I can’t believe the news would continue to print this kind of horrible act.» We've seen a lot of very nasty primaries, but this is the first one where we can remember one candidate characterizing an intra-party rival as «evil.» The GOP's post-runoff unity breakfast should be super fun. Despite all his problems, Cagle does have a lot more money to spend over the next few weeks. Cagle outraised Kemp $3.7 million to $1.6 million from April 1 to June 30, and he had a $1.3 million to $700,000 cash-on-hand edge. Cagle also has some well-funded outside groups on his side. Democrat Stacey Abrams meanwhile took in $2.75 million during this period, and she ended June with $1.6 million in the bank. Help Stacey Abrams beat whomever emerges from this bloody GOP race. Please chip in $3 today.

This week at progressive state blogs: 'Regulatory humility' is rightist claptrap; Iowa's toothache

This week at progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Here is the July 7 edition. Inclusion of a blog post does not necessarily indicate my agreement with—or endor
Daily Kos

This week at progressive state blogs: 'Regulatory humility' is rightist claptrap; Iowa's toothache

This week at progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Here is the July 7 edition. Inclusion of a blog post does not necessarily indicate my agreement with—or endorsement of—its contents. LOLGOP at Eclectablog of Michigan writes—In ‘Voters v. Politicians,’ Michigan Republicans side with the politicians: Michigan’s Supreme Court announced on Friday it will review an unanimous Court of Appeals decision that ruled the independent gerrymandering reform proposal backed by Voters Not Politicians should appear on November’s ballot. Plaintiffs argue the changes sought to the state’s constitution require a constitutional convention. The grassroots ballot measure backed by the signatures of around 400,000 residents has faced opposition from the Michigan GOP, the frontrunner to be the GOP’s nominee for governor and the Michigan Chamber, which — as Bridge reports — shares an address with the group backing the complaint against the proposal. And why wouldn’t they be against it? Conservatives have a sweet con going. After a decade of picking the voters who would give them the chance to control more than 60 percent of the state’s congressional seats along with super majority control of the state House and Senate even when their party generally gets around 50 percent of the vote, you can be sure they don’t want to give voters a chance to make their votes count. Data from the Citizens Research Council finds Michigan’s districts are both “stacked” and “cracked.” That means “an overwhelming majority of voters from the same party are put into one district” AND “regions are split so that one party wins a large number of districts by a narrow margin.” Thus tens of thousands of Michiganders’ votes are “wasted.” For the record, Eclectablog just celebrated its 10th anniversary. In case you’re wondering, a decade is a heckuva long time for a blog—any blog, but especially a political blog—to survive, much less thrive. When This Week in Progressive State Blogs was started just over five years ago, some 40 state blogs existed that don’t exist now. But Eclectablog continues, and it keeps getting better. Happy anniversary!

Saturday midday open thread: Special handling for special interests at EPA; Trump feeds the right

114 days remain until the November midterms Have you picked a candidate or ballot issue to campaign for yet? • What’s coming up at Sunday Kos: • West Side Story—revisited, by Denise Oliver Velez • Trump-Putin summit: Vladimir give
Daily Kos

Saturday midday open thread: Special handling for special interests at EPA; Trump feeds the right

114 days remain until the November midterms Have you picked a candidate or ballot issue to campaign for yet? • What’s coming up at Sunday Kos: • West Side Story—revisited, by Denise Oliver Velez • Trump-Putin summit: Vladimir gives Donald a performance review, by Sher Watts Spooner • Where do we go from here? The Supreme Court has been stolen, by Armando • Stop with the false hope. The Supreme Court is lost for a generation lest we …, by Egberto Willies • Damn right I am a liberal, by Mark E Andersen • Ken Starr, Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump and the eroding rule of law, by Hunter • Trump would rather overturn Roe v. Wade than actually reduce the abortion rate, by Ian Reifowitz • After normalization comes collaboration, by Susan Grigsby • EPA chief of staff concedes that “politically charged” document requests get special handling: Some individuals and organizations have complained that requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act are often subject to long delays. Such foot-dragging seems to be part of the Trump regime’s overall effort to make what should be public information more difficult to access. This applies to everything from the WhiteHouse.gov website, which is far harder to navigate and contains far less substance than it did under President Obama, to documents that give insight into how policy is being made. EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson told a congressional committee that he called on subordinates to respond to a document request from a pork group that was having difficulties with regulations, but described a request from the Sierra Club, as a “fishing expedition.”  • “Abolish ICE” is getting little traction among Democrats: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants a floor vote on an ICE bill because he thinks it’s bad news either way for Democrats. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, introduced the bill in question. It would not immediately guarantee that ICE would be abolished, but the purpose of the bill as stated is “To establish a Commission tasked with establishing a humane immigration enforcement system, terminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and for other purposes.” The idea is popular among some immigration activist groups, and it seems to have gained more support because of the Trump’s regimes unconscionable long-term separation of children from asylum-seeking parents. But there is no groundswell of support among congressional Democrats. Neither Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York senator, or California’s Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, have voiced support for it.  MIDDAY TWEETf xJust took a hiking town hall with hundreds of constituents. Was blown away how many of them are worried about @realDonaldTrump meeting alone with Putin. One said, “Putin is not worthy of meeting with our President. And our President is not trustworthy enough to meet with Putin.”— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) July 14, 2018 • Trump’s talk about changing European culture is a hat tip toward white supremacy: In an interview with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun, a British tabloid, Pr*sident Trump said: “I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago.” “The way he put this argument about changing our culture ... about Europe becoming less nice than it is, in other words, these people are here and they are making the culture crappy and making the place lesser, that’s straight out of the white supremacist/white nationalist playbook,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. Claire M. Massey, a scholar at the Institute for British and North American Studies at Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Universität in Greifswald, Germany, said Trump’s comments were “awfully painful,” especially for the United Kingdom, where immigration has played a key role in rebuilding the country after World War II. “England and the United Kingdom wouldn’t be what it is today without immigrants,” she said. • Trump regime’s anti-breastfeeding stance isn’t new. But it could make matters worse: This week, in a move that contradicted decades of research proving that breastfeeding benefits babies and mothers, the Trump administration rejected a World Health Organization resolution limiting the misleading marketing of formula, which—if replaced with breast milk—could save more than 800,000 infant lives a year. Health officials were «shocked» and «stunned» by the news, The New York Times reported. But for the scholars who study this issue, nothing about this decision is surprising. The United States government, the largest purchaser of formula in the country, does more than market milk substitutes: It gives them away for free. • British authorities remove 400 items said to be tainted with poison: The poison, Novichok, killed a Wiltshire woman and left a man in critical condition. It is the same kind of poison as used in a March attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter, Sergei and Yulia Skripal. They survived. Experts say the poison used against the Skirpals has been definitively traced to Russia, but it’s unclear whether it’s from the same batch as did its damage in Wiltshire. LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE

View from the Left: Battle of the gender gaps coming to an election near you this fall

If there's one difference between Donald Trump in 2017 and his 2018 performance it's that now he seems to be truly unplugged, untethered, unleashed. Whatever you might want to call it, we are being treated to the rawest, purest form of his madness, free fro
Daily Kos

View from the Left: Battle of the gender gaps coming to an election near you this fall

If there's one difference between Donald Trump in 2017 and his 2018 performance it's that now he seems to be truly unplugged, untethered, unleashed. Whatever you might want to call it, we are being treated to the rawest, purest form of his madness, free from the mitigation of seemingly any so-called adults in the room. His rate of lying has increased exponentially. He has truly begun paling around with dictators who have quite literally starved their people and plundered their country's riches to line their own pockets. He has repeatedly embarrassed our closest allies and undermined the post-WWII international alliances that have prevented a third global war from breaking out for over half a century. And he has either threatened or torpedoed every major trade alliance we have—an occurrence that is surely going to hurt our economy, increase the price of goods, likely drive down wages in some sectors and also expendable income (which is already happening), and will almost certainly force some people to lose their livelihoods. Bottom line: We have probably not even begun to see the havoc Trump's actions are going to wreak on this country on a sweeping, coast-to-coast scale. And yet amid Trump's daily displays of erratic, uninformed, self-serving, delusional, and sometimes inexplicable antics, Trump's approval rating on Civiqs among the nation’s men has generally solidified in a positive direction throughout this year at around 49/50 percent (with an equally consistent disapproval rating at a slightly lower 46 percent). And then there's the ladies, who this year have settled on a consistent 59/60 percent disapproving view of Trump's job performance, with a corresponding 37/38 percent approval rating of him.  Frankly, I'm not satisfied with either. Why Trump isn't sitting at a solid 80 percent disapproval rating (you can always count on about 20 percent of the population to approve of just about anything) is a total mystery to me. But as a woman, I find whatever general affinity half of America’s men feel for Trump entirely perplexing. While women disapprove of Trump at a rate of only ten points higher than men approve of him, politically speaking, anything 60 percent and above is typically viewed as prevailing opinion. Naturally, the breakdown by race, education, income, married/single, etc. yields all kinds of varying insights, but let's stick with the simplicity of the gender comparison because there's such a clear gender gap in perceptions of and support for Trump. Bottom line: At the moment, we're counting on a mass mobilization of female voters to save us from the dizzyingly distorted house of mirrors we've been trapped in since Trump took office.

Trump's former health secretary racked up $1.2 million in travel costs in 7 months

The corrupt foundation of the Trump administration—its basic existence—is being exposed bit-by-bit. Here's another bit unearthed. Remember former Health and Human Services Secretary, the most demonstrably corrupt Trump official before Scott Pruitt handed
Daily Kos

Trump's former health secretary racked up $1.2 million in travel costs in 7 months

The corrupt foundation of the Trump administration—its basic existence—is being exposed bit-by-bit. Here's another bit unearthed. Remember former Health and Human Services Secretary, the most demonstrably corrupt Trump official before Scott Pruitt handed over his beer? Here's a hint of what he did before he was forced to resign last year. «Our rigorous review of former HHS Secretary Price’s use of chartered, military, and commercial aircraft found that 20 out of 21 trips did not comply with applicable federal regulations and HHS policies and procedures, resulting in waste of at least $341,000 in federal funds,» Tesia Williams, a spokeswoman for the inspector general’s office, said in a statement. «We recommend the Office of the Secretary review the lack of compliance with federal requirements and determine appropriate actions to recoup the travel costs.» He racked up $341,000, minimum, in waste in just eight or so months. Among those flights: a one-way charter from Seattle to D.C. for $121,500; a chartered round-trip flight between D.C., Lansing, Michigan, and Charleston, West Virginia, for $44,531; a chartered round-trip flight to Nashville, Tennessee, for $17,760. All totaled, he racked up $1,185,045 in chartered and military flights around the country and world from February 18, 2016 to September 21, 2016. So far, Price has paid back $59,390 for travel he took with his wife. The administration hasn't said whether or how it intends to recoup the rest.

Trump regime tightens screws on Iran. Tells Europeans no exemptions for them on reimposed sanctions

The squatter in the White House was in Europe this week trashing U.S. allies, making gauzy remarks about leaving NATO unless the other members pay a bigger share of the alliance’s costs, politically damaging the British prime minister, lying about what h
Daily Kos

Trump regime tightens screws on Iran. Tells Europeans no exemptions for them on reimposed sanctions

The squatter in the White House was in Europe this week trashing U.S. allies, making gauzy remarks about leaving NATO unless the other members pay a bigger share of the alliance’s costs, politically damaging the British prime minister, lying about what he clearly said in a taped interview, insulting the Queen, and intoning “fake news” like a shield that he hopes will magically erase Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s latest indictments and the indictments yet to come. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s top minions were telling Britain, France, and Germany that Washington will not grant exemptions on economic sanctions for companies doing business with Iran.  The rejection of the exemption request is part of the Trump regime’s hard-nosed approach that includes public and behind-the-scenes U.S. advocacy of regime change in Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced last month that he will deliver a major address near Los Angeles on July 22 titled “Supporting Iranian Voices.” In August and again in November, the U.S. plans to reimpose two waves of sanctions against Tehran. Sanctions were lifted by the Obama administration after the Iran nuclear accord was signed in 2015. A key element of the reimposition is cutting off Iran from access to Western banks. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the accord on May 8. On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “Today, we are in conditions in which the United States is more isolated than ever over the sanctions issue. America’s illegal actions ... have even isolated it among its own allies as we just saw.” Certainly the Trump regime has generated a wave of eye-rolling and head-shaking among European leaders. And it’s true that the other signatories to the nuclear accord—China, Russia, and especially Britain, Germany, and France—have sought to keep the multilateral accord alive. But reimposed sanctions without exemptions could make their effort to stick to the accord politically difficult at home.  Dan De Luce, Abigail Williams, and Andrea Mitchell at NBC News report that in a written reply to a request for broad exemptions from sanctions by those three European nations, Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the U.S. would only grant limited sanctions exemptions on humanitarian and national security grounds. Their letter noted that the 2015 deal, which lifted sanctions in exchange for limitations on Iran’s nuclear development program, had “failed to guarantee the safety of the American people” and, therefore, the U.S. will place “unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime” through reimposed sanctions until there is a “tangible, demonstrable and sustained shift in the policies we have enumerated.” 

Abbreviated Science Round-up: An inherent bias against bias is still a bias

I’m starting out this week by admitting one of my own biases … against bias. And how that can lead to bias. if that sounds confusing, it’s because it’s a difficult issue. Here’s the article that spawned it: Hominins arrived in China over two mill
Daily Kos

Abbreviated Science Round-up: An inherent bias against bias is still a bias

I’m starting out this week by admitting one of my own biases … against bias. And how that can lead to bias. if that sounds confusing, it’s because it’s a difficult issue. Here’s the article that spawned it: Hominins arrived in China over two million years ago. A paper by a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences reports the discovery of stone tools from a site called Shangchen in eastern China, dating back 2.1 million years. That’s an extraordinary number, as the oldest previously known human-line remains outside of Africa are a couple of teeth that date to around 1.8 million years. Pushing back the exodus of human relatives from Africa by 300,000 years doesn’t “upend” or “rewrite” human evolution by any means—no matter how many media reports this week implied that it does. However, it could call for a reordering of the sequence of events when it comes to the dispersal of various human ancestors, and touch on again the idea that some groups of humans have ancestors who developed parallel to modern humans outside of Africa. The findings in this case are a set of stone tools — flaked flint, flint cores, and simple scrapers — that show evidence of being “worked.” There are also animal bones in the location that may indicate butchering activity. There are no human bones. And here’s my issue with this. I’m very reluctant to believe this article because of two things. Let’s call them “rocks” and “geography.” Rocks: In theory, worked stone tools should be a very handy indicator of human presence. Departing a little bit (but only a little bit) from the topic, the reason there are so many fossils of trilobites in ancient rocks isn’t just because trilobites were so abundant (though they were), but because they, like arthropods today, molted their hard outer shell multiple times as they grew. So a single trilobite could potentially leave behind many fossils. Humans, inconveniently for paleoanthropologists, don’t do that.  We have just one skeleton to leave behind. So when human populations are small, there may not be many bones to go around. Which is why several human occupation sites in Asia and elsewhere are marked by only a bone here, a tooth there. On the other hand, one human could make a lot of stone tools. So tools should be easier to find than bones. Stone tools are the cast off trilobite shells of human fossils! Only … it’s not that easy. Because while it’s easy to identify an exquisitely made fluted arrowhead, or grooved ax, or a distinct Clovis spearpoint, that’s not what we are talking about here. These are rocks whose “working” amounts to not much more than being smacked around a bit. It is very easy to mistake a naturally broken rock for something man, or near-man, made. That’s especially true when it’s being examined by folks who really, really want to find something. And it’s why the history of anthropology and archaeology is replete with “artifacts” that, on close examination … aren’t. So the fact that Shangchen has rocks, but no human bones, no definite proof of deliberate fires, and no clear evidence of butchering … makes me a doubter. Geography: And now we come to the one where my own bias-bias gets in the way. Whenever anthropologists start suggesting something that might, even with a few twists and turns, lead to the idea that some groups of humans evolved, or at least partially evolved, in Asia, it fires off my auto-dander-up response. That’s because, at least as far back as Darwin suggesting that most apes today are found in Africa and it was very likely that humans also evolved in Africa, people have been suggesting that some groups didn’t originate in that “dark continent.” Instead, they’ve searched for ways to suggest that some groups evolved in Asia. Perhaps groups that eventually became part of a proto-Indian-Iranian migrant group also known as Aryans. In short, I look at every article indicating greater early human presence in Asia as a possible foot-in-the-door to an argument that some groups of humans evolved separately from others. Because “separately from” is a short hop to “better than.” And that’s where my own prejudice gets tangled in this thing. Because … maybe these guys are right. Maybe early hominins were prowling around China, hacking up the local pig population, hundreds of thousands of years earlier than expected. Maybe my own prejudices against prejudice is making me prejudice. Honestly, I hate to think that my own feelings about a matter of science are being swayed because there’s an outcome I want to see. After all, isn’t that exactly what I’m accusing the always-hunting-Aryan group of doing? However, I promise that I will eagerly dive into the possible consequences of this dating. But first … they’re going to need better rocks. Or a single tooth. That’s not a lot to ask.

Russian agents set up fake 'local' news outlets in the U.S. long before the 2016 elections

Russian intelligence efforts to manipulate the news the American public was seeing in an effort to sway public opinion toward the Putin government's preferred candidate(s) are, at this point, hopefully well-known. The Russian government has been running the
Daily Kos

Russian agents set up fake 'local' news outlets in the U.S. long before the 2016 elections

Russian intelligence efforts to manipulate the news the American public was seeing in an effort to sway public opinion toward the Putin government's preferred candidate(s) are, at this point, hopefully well-known. The Russian government has been running the same operations throughout Europe: propaganda campaigns are both dirt-cheap, compared to military measures, and have a long history of effectiveness. As our understanding of the extent of their operations in America continues to evolve, it has become clear that the Russian operation started long before the 2016 elections themselves. Even before the 2014 midterm elections Russia's now-infamous troll farm, the «Internet Research Center,» was setting up an array of fake news accounts that looked uncannily like real, local news outlets. The purpose was to build followers and trust by posing as the news outlet just down the block from you; the accounts cribbed real local headlines from real outlets. In reality, they were each fictitious entities created in St. Petersburg, Russia. NPR has reviewed information connected with the investigation and found 48 such accounts. They have names such as @ElPasoTopNews, @MilwaukeeVoice, @CamdenCityNews and @Seattle_Post. [...] «They set them up for a reason. And if at any given moment they wanted to operationalize this network of what seemed to be local American news handles, they can significantly influence the narrative on a breaking news story,» [social media analyst Bret Schafer] told NPR. «But now instead of just showing up online and flooding it with news sites, they have these accounts with two years of credible history.» The accounts were shuttered by Twitter before they could be transitioned to whatever other purpose they were eventually intended for, but it's not hard to guess the Russian strategy. After building up tens of thousands of local followers on each account, those accounts could then be used, subtly, to alter public perception of the news stories they shared with their readers. A little editorializing here, a story about how, say, a certain disfavored candidate was going to harm local interests there; because the information was coming from a supposedly «local» source, local followers would give it more credence than flashier, shoutier versions of the same material.

As midterms approach, Republican staffers make a dash for the (lobbying) cash

The midterms are rapidly approaching, and while it's unclear whether Democrats will take control of Congress, top Republican staffers are already heading for the hills. The reason is simple: Money. Non-elected Republicans who had even a small part in the craf
Daily Kos

As midterms approach, Republican staffers make a dash for the (lobbying) cash

The midterms are rapidly approaching, and while it's unclear whether Democrats will take control of Congress, top Republican staffers are already heading for the hills. The reason is simple: Money. Non-elected Republicans who had even a small part in the crafting of the Republican tax giveaway to the wealthy are now looking to receive the quo for their quid, bowing out of the public sector for new roles in the lobbying firms and law offices who pressed most vigorously for those tax breaks. And boy, are there a lot of them. Perhaps the most high-profile departure this year was Mark Prater, the longtime tax counsel of the Senate Finance Committee who joined the tax advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in June. In May, Brendan Dunn, the policy adviser and counsel to the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, left to become a policy partner at the lobbying firm Akin Gump to focus on tax policy matters. The staff of the House Ways and Means Committee, which started the tax-writing process, has experienced an exodus of its own. The short version is that Republicans looking to cash out now can expect to earn a pretty penny as (cough) «experts» in the tax laws they helped write, but come this time next year their talents may be slightly less in demand. Hats off to Treasury official Drew Maloney in particular, who is couching his own head-for-the-hills moment in the language of my work here is done: “If you think about administrations historically, a lot of what is accomplished is in the first year or 18 months,” Mr. Maloney said in an interview. “Many staffs spend years and never accomplish what we did at Treasury in a limited amount of time, between tax legislation, financial services reform, Cfius reforms and sanctions.” It's not that Maloney is getting out while the getting is good, it's that the Republican administration has accomplished so much that it is practically unfair to ask him to stay. Or something.

Trump is so proud of how he snubbed CNN, that he watched CNN to see how CNN would cover his snubbing

Donald Trump is in Scotland, so his executive time only stretches to … about the time normal people are forced to go to work. In America. But he has been up and tapping on keys at the place where he did not predict the Brexit vote, no matter how many time
Daily Kos

Trump is so proud of how he snubbed CNN, that he watched CNN to see how CNN would cover his snubbing

Donald Trump is in Scotland, so his executive time only stretches to … about the time normal people are forced to go to work. In America. But he has been up and tapping on keys at the place where he did not predict the Brexit vote, no matter how many times he claims he did. And while Trump was quick to skip over the indictments that were handed down by the Mueller investigation as something that Obama’s fault and toss on a reminder about the terrible Deep State, there was one new item on his morning agenda. Just one thing out of all the things that happened on Friday that really interested Trump: He had to check to see if he made CNN cry. xSo funny! I just checked out Fake News CNN, for the first time in a long time (they are dying in the ratings), to see if they covered my takedown yesterday of Jim Acosta (actually a nice guy). They didn’t! But they did say I already lost in my meeting with Putin. Fake News......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2018 Yes, on Friday, Donald Trump snubbed CNN by calling them “fake news” and bypassing a question from reporter Jim Acosta at a joint press appearance with Theresa May. Instead, he moved on to Fox, where he could be sure to get a “question” that was really an invitation to measure his own greatness in thousands of Lincolns. Or perhaps, since Trump is in the UK, Kilo Churchills. But even the fun of declaring that he was doing a “great job”—which Trump said twice at that presser—pales in comparison to his true joy in life: Checking in to make sure that his bullying really hurt someone. So apparently Donald Trump has been glued to CNN, waiting for CNN to complain about the way he snubbed CNN. And waiting … and ultimately Trump got upset about not seeing enough reporting on his oh-so-clever burn that he had to fumble beneath the pillow, find his phone, and thump out a complaint that CNN hadn’t spent enough time talking about how he is mad to CNN. It upset him so much that he just to to tweet out a complaint about CNN. Get that, CNN? That’s right. Trump is so proud of how he snubbed CNN, that he watched CNN to see how CNN would cover his snubbing CNN, and now he's complaining that CNN isn't giving enough attention to his CNN snub. So ... he may have to watch CNN to see how they cover this snub! And ooh, their ratings are so bad. Take that, CNN. And remember, bullying is just not satisfying unless someone cries. Donald is waiting. 

Voting Rights Roundup: Michigan poised to vote on sweeping set of voting rights reforms this fall

Leading Off ● Michigan: In a huge development for voting rights in Michigan, voting rights groups have turned in more than 430,000 signatures to put a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot that contains a slew of key voting reforms, far abo
Daily Kos

Voting Rights Roundup: Michigan poised to vote on sweeping set of voting rights reforms this fall

Leading Off ● Michigan: In a huge development for voting rights in Michigan, voting rights groups have turned in more than 430,000 signatures to put a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot that contains a slew of key voting reforms, far above the 316,000 signatures required by law. The measure includes automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration, removes the requirement of an excuse to vote absentee, protects the state’s straight-ticket voting option, and allows for elections to be routinely audited to ensure accuracy.​ Campaign Action ​Michigan is currently one of the worst states when it comes to making voting as accessible as possible. In particular, it's one of just 13 states that has no early voting at all and also requires an excuse to vote absentee. But Republican lawmakers have exempted anyone age 60 or older from the excuse requirement—a transparent way to make it easier for that particular GOP-leaning demographic to cast a ballot. Similarly, the GOP has tried multiple times to do away with straight-ticket voting because black voters use it more than whites. Eliminating it would likely produce longer lines on Election Day (it’s much quicker to vote a straight ticket than to fill out every race on a ballot) in disproportionately Democratic-leaning precincts—and thus dissuade people from voting. A federal court temporarily blocked the latest repeal effort in 2016, but the GOP is appealing. If this amendment makes it onto the ballot, which seems likely, and becomes law, Michigan would instantly become of the states where it’s easiest to register and vote. That’s particularly so because of the automatic registration provision, which would apply to any eligible voter who does business with the secretary of state's office concerning their driver's license or state ID. What’s more, a separate initiative to end Republican gerrymandering by creating an independent redistricting commission is already on the ballot this fall. Michigan voters will therefore have two crucial opportunities to make their democracy fairer for everyone.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Mueller knocks Trump off of cable as top story, which bothers him most

You don’t have to change to vote to hack the election.  What they did is plenty enough. They took the data they needed and used it to suppress the Clinton vote. They cheated to win without changing the vote numbers directly. That’s what’s in the indict
Daily Kos

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Mueller knocks Trump off of cable as top story, which bothers him most

You don’t have to change to vote to hack the election.  What they did is plenty enough. They took the data they needed and used it to suppress the Clinton vote. They cheated to win without changing the vote numbers directly. That’s what’s in the indictment. And what else is out there, we don’t know yet. But we do know via this indictment that a US Congressional candidate is in this mix. More to come. xThis is by far the most alarming and potentially important detail in the DNC hack indictment. https://t.co/Zl3W2erhTF pic.twitter.com/eqDGpsiLnK— emptywheel (@emptywheel) July 13, 2018 Susan B Glasser/New Yorker: Thanks to Robert Mueller, Trump and Putin Now Have a Summit Agenda Rosenstein dropped another astonishing revelation into his press conference: President Trump had been aware all along about the charges against Russian actors, and had been briefed on them by the Justice Department even before he left for Europe. “The President is fully aware of the department’s actions today,” Rosenstein told reporters as he announced the indictments, which lay out in methodical detail the ways in which agents of the Russian government systematically worked to infiltrate the Democrats’ 2016 campaign with the apparent goal of helping Trump win the American Presidency. Trump knew the indictment was coming when he bragged about what an easy meeting he would have with Putin. He knew it was coming when he once again attacked the investigation by his own government as “rigged.” And he knew it was coming when he rambled on about an agenda for the Helsinki summit that would cover just about everything but the Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. Talk about brazen. And by the way, everyone expects Americans to be the next indictment targets. Roger Stone? More?

Open thread for night owls: Excerpts from the August Harper's Index

Here are some excerpts from Harper’s Index for August:  Rank of North Korea’s nuclear program among South Koreans’  greatest sources of anxiety: 6 Of air pollution: 1 Estimated additional rent paid by New Yorkers in 2016 because of Airbnb: $61
Daily Kos

Open thread for night owls: Excerpts from the August Harper's Index

Here are some excerpts from Harper’s Index for August:  Rank of North Korea’s nuclear program among South Koreans’  greatest sources of anxiety: 6 Of air pollution: 1 Estimated additional rent paid by New Yorkers in 2016 because of Airbnb: $616,743,319 Estimated percentage of homeless people in New York City who are unsheltered: 6 Of homeless people in Los Angeles: 75 Percentage of US couples with an annual income of less than $75,000 who are “very happy” with their sex life: 46 Of couples with an annual income of more than $200,000: 65 Percentage of Alabamians who oppose gay marriage: 51 Number of other states in which a majority of residents oppose it: 0 Percentage of US public-school teachers who spend their own money on school supplies: 94 Average amount a teacher spends each school year: $479 Percentage change since 2008 in the average US public-school teacher’s salary: –4 Minimum number of scientific papers published on nomophobia, the fear of not having access to cellular service: 55 Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups TOP COMMENTS  QUOTATION “It had long been true, and prisoners knew this better than anyone, that the poorer you were the more likely you were to end up in jail. This was not just because the poor committed more crimes. In fact, they did. The rich did not have to commit crimes to get what they wanted; the laws were on their side. But when the rich did commit crimes, they often were not prosecuted, and if they were they could get out on bail, hire clever lawyers, get better treatment from judges. Somehow, the jails ended up full of poor black people.”                ~~Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (1980) TWEET OF THE DAY x#ATTN Young Americans eligible to vote for the first time. YOU are a member of the largest group who are eligible to vote this year, bigger than the Boomer Generation in 2018! YOU will decide this election - by voting or sitting home. CHOOSE VOTING! https://t.co/15rc2opYcg pic.twitter.com/LFpLqvOX1C— Angela Marx (@AngieinWAState) July 13, 2018 BLAST FROM THE PAST On this date at Daily Kos in 2009—Sotomayor hearings set to begin: All Congress-watching eyes are expected to turn today to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as they begin their consideration of the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. And the Committee, aware of the intense interest, will be live streaming video of the hearing, which they're wisely making available in blog-embeddable format. So that's exciting in itself. They know where the interest lies. Thinking of popping some popcorn and watching the proceedings? If it's Sotomayor you want to hear from, make sure you get lunch first. And maybe a nap. Because although the hearings are expected to be gaveled into session at 10 a.m., the first order of business is opening statements. From the Senators. Nineteen of them. For up to ten minutes apiece. Plus statements of introduction from home state Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand. That's Washington for you. Three to four hours of opening statements—plus a lunch break—before the person you're supposed to be talking about even gets to say anything. And then, once she makes her own opening statement, they'll adjourn for the day. It will take an entire day to «open» things with statements. You want to see someone ask a question? Come back tomorrow. On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, back when the 13th was a Thursday: Trump toddled off to France. Greg Dworkin caught us up on Treasoncare’s dwindling prospects, the bottomless pit of Kushner & Sessions’ memory loss, Don Jr.’s first Time cover & his corroboration of TPPT (wink, wink). x Embedded Content RadioPublic|LibSyn|YouTube|Patreon|Square Cash (Share code: Send $5, get $5!) LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE

In a blow to voting rights, New Hampshire Supreme court greenlights GOP poll tax on college students

In a surprise outcome, New Hampshire's Supreme Court dealt a major blow to voting rights in the Granite State when it issued an advisory opinion saying that a Republican-backed bill to tighten voter residency requirements doesn't violate the state constitutio
Daily Kos

In a blow to voting rights, New Hampshire Supreme court greenlights GOP poll tax on college students

In a surprise outcome, New Hampshire's Supreme Court dealt a major blow to voting rights in the Granite State when it issued an advisory opinion saying that a Republican-backed bill to tighten voter residency requirements doesn't violate the state constitution. One of the court's three Democratic-appointed justices sided with the two GOP appointees in the ruling, paving the way for Republican Gov. Chris Sununu to sign the bill into law, which he did on Friday. As we’ve detailed, this law requires New Hampshire voters to have legal «residency» in the state and not just simply make it their «domicile,» or the place where they live day to day. Becoming a resident under the legal definition requires actions like registering a car in-state and obtaining an in-state driver's license. Effectively, this new requirement is a thinly disguised poll tax on Democratic-leaning college students from other states, who are unlikely to go to the expense and trouble of becoming legal residents even if they live in New Hampshire full-time. The law therefore will likely lead to fewer college students voting in the Granite State. The state Supreme Court’s decision was unexpected because the state constitution provides an explicit guarantee of voting rights for all citizens who are «inhabitants» of the state, not just those who fulfill the requirements of legal residency. Indeed, in 2015, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a very similar GOP-supported law. A federal lawsuit now appears to be the only option left for opponents. Plaintiffs could argue that the law violates the 24th Amendment's ban on poll taxes or the 1979 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Symm v. United States that guaranteed college students the right to vote at their schools if they live there. However, Democrats may not fare much better now that partisan Republicans extremists are poised to take a majority on the high court. This story has been updated.

The healthcare election: Ohio's GOP governor candidate changes tune on killing Medicaid expansion

Campaign Action Mike DeWine (R-OH) has predicated a whole lot of his gubernatorial campaign on opposing the current Republican governor's embrace of Medicaid expansion. DeWine has said that «Medicaid expansion is financially unsustainable for both the
Daily Kos

The healthcare election: Ohio's GOP governor candidate changes tune on killing Medicaid expansion

Campaign Action Mike DeWine (R-OH) has predicated a whole lot of his gubernatorial campaign on opposing the current Republican governor's embrace of Medicaid expansion. DeWine has said that «Medicaid expansion is financially unsustainable for both the federal government and for Ohio» and that if he wins, the expansion «will not exist as we know it.»  He's attacked his primary opponent Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor for supporting Gov. John Kasich's decision to expand it. But lately he's changed that tune. On Wednesday afternoon, DeWine flatly said he would retain the entire Medicaid expansion while seeking reforms, imposing work requirements for recipients and instituting wellness programs to reduce costs. DeWine said his announcement, made while accepting the endorsement of the political action committee of the Ohio State Medical Association, was not a reversal of his prior position. How much did the state medical association's PAC have to do with that? Everything, as Democrat Richard Cordray emphasizes. x42 years as a politician has trained @MikeDeWine well. He promised to get rid of Medicaid expansion to win the primary and now is changing his position for nakedly political reasons. This is such an enormous flip-flop that it's more likely a belly flop! https://t.co/PGyRmbBo8t— Rich Cordray (@RichCordray) July 11, 2018 DeWine has been in politics forever and he knows an issue that’s dominating with voters when he sees it. 

Appeals court claps back at transphobic prison officials, parole officers, and judge

Lisa Mitchell has lived her entire life as a woman. Yet when she got to prison, she was effectively denied critical hormone replacement therapy. It took Mitchell more than a year to secure all of the sign-offs necessary, and once she did, the medical officer
Daily Kos

Appeals court claps back at transphobic prison officials, parole officers, and judge

Lisa Mitchell has lived her entire life as a woman. Yet when she got to prison, she was effectively denied critical hormone replacement therapy. It took Mitchell more than a year to secure all of the sign-offs necessary, and once she did, the medical officer—Dr. Kevin Kallas—refused to begin treatment on the grounds that she was due to be released in less than a month. Once paroled, Mitchell was prevented from expressing her gender identity, much less obtaining treatment, by her probation officers, despite having obtained a formal recommendation from prison medical officials. And this is despite notes in her file attesting that treatment was necessary and would reduce her risk of recidivism. Mitchell sued Kallas as well as psychological services unit supervisor Dr. Dawn Laurent and three parole officers for denying her medical treatment under the Eighth Amendment. The United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin allowed Mitchell’s claims against the two doctors, but refused to let her proceed against the parole officers, as the obligation to provide medical care ended with her release. The court then ruled for the two doctors on summary judgment, finding that neither was deliberately indifferent to her medical needs and thus both were protected by “qualified immunity.” Qualified immunity is the legal doctrine that shields government officials from being held accountable for wrongdoing as long as they don’t violate clearly established rights, a.k.a. rights that the officials should reasonably have known about. Part of the district court’s rationale was that there was no “clearly established” right to hormone treatment. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which hears appeals from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, decided this week that while Laurent, the psychologist, didn’t have enough of a role to proceed against, Mitchell should be allowed to sue the parole officers and take Kallas to trial. The parole officers may not have been required to provide treatment, the court noted, but preventing Mitchell from seeking it herself could most certainly be unconstitutional.  The Seventh Circuit shot down the notion that gender dysphoria is somehow so distinct from other serious conditions that the Supreme Court would have to address the topic before prison officials could be found at fault for denying treatment. 

Study: 84% of road transportation could be green-electrified by 2050. Democrats should talk this up

Dan Gearino writes and edits the Clean Economy Weekly newsletter for Inside Climate News, the Pulitzer-winning news site. If you’d like to receive the newsletter, you can sign up here. Here is an item from this week’s edition: This week the Nation
Daily Kos

Study: 84% of road transportation could be green-electrified by 2050. Democrats should talk this up

Dan Gearino writes and edits the Clean Economy Weekly newsletter for Inside Climate News, the Pulitzer-winning news site. If you’d like to receive the newsletter, you can sign up here. Here is an item from this week’s edition: This week the National Renewable Energy Lab issued a report on the factors that will affect the country's electricity demand through 2050. Most of the major categories of electricity consumption are projected to have modest but steady growth. Then there is transportation, the ultimate wild card. The report shows that EVs would become 11 percent of the vehicle fleet under a base scenario, and range all the way to 84 percent of the fleet under a high-adoption scenario. Everyone should care about this, because a high-electrification scenario means the country is swiftly moving away from gasoline and its harmful emissions, a vital strategy in slowing climate change (provided, of course, the cars are increasingly being fueled by renewables and other low-carbon sources of power). Electrifying transit also must include rail. An example of that already underway is the $2 billion Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project of the commuter CalTrain between San Francisco and San Jose, California. Ground was broken on the project with gold-painted shovels last July. The first trains are expected to be delivered next year and begin running in 2021. It’s estimated the system will be able to move 80 percent more passengers than the current diesel operations, remove 619,000 vehicle miles a day from the state’s roads, and cut 176 metric tons of CO2 emissions a year from the region.  Trains will be built by a Salt Lake City, Utah, contractor and assembled at numerous sites across the country. All told, the project is calculated to generate 9,600 direct and indirect jobs in 31 cities, 10 of them in California, and some as far away as Huntington, West Virginia. 

Scarlett Johansson withdraws from “Rub and Tug” amid backlash over her “insensitive” casting

The actress faced significant backlash for the casting and for a dismissive statement. Is she finally listening?
Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture Salon

Scarlett Johansson withdraws from “Rub and Tug” amid backlash over her “insensitive” casting

The actress faced significant backlash for the casting and for a dismissive statement. Is she finally listening?

“We have come to take your daughter”: An immigrant parent’s traumatic separation from her child

To get my child back, I had to let the courts brand me as a potential child-abductor, at the cost of her needs
Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture Salon

“We have come to take your daughter”: An immigrant parent’s traumatic separation from her child

To get my child back, I had to let the courts brand me as a potential child-abductor, at the cost of her needs

Injustice against Standing Rock protesters is egregious—and ongoing

Standing Rock protesters faced below-freezing conditions, water cannons, sponge rounds, bean bag rounds, stinger rounds, teargas grenades, pepper spray, Mace, Tasers, and even a sound weapon. Officers carried weapons openly and threatened protesters constan
Daily Kos

Injustice against Standing Rock protesters is egregious—and ongoing

Standing Rock protesters faced below-freezing conditions, water cannons, sponge rounds, bean bag rounds, stinger rounds, teargas grenades, pepper spray, Mace, Tasers, and even a sound weapon. Officers carried weapons openly and threatened protesters constantly, by many accounts. Hundreds of protesters were injured, and more than two dozen were hospitalized. As of November 2016, 76 local, county, and state agencies had deployed officers to Standing Rock. Between August 2016 and February 2017, authorities made 761 arrests. One protester was arrested and slammed to the ground during a prayer ceremony; another described being put in “actual dog kennels” with “photos of the types of dogs on the walls and piss stains on the floor” in lieu of jail. She wasn’t told she was under arrest; she wasn’t read her rights. Once detained, protesters were strip searched and denied medical care. Belongings and money were confiscated, the latter never returned.  Law enforcement officers razed the camp in February 2017. The protest may have ended, but aggression against protesters did not. Law enforcement and prosecutors’ efforts to charge protesters with as serious a crime as possible have become battles to convict them and obtain the maximum sentence possible.  During a Oct. 27, 2016, roadblock protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, several fires were set. By whom, no one knew. Prosecutors charged Little Feather of the Chumash Nation, also known as Michael Giron, and Rattler of the Oglala Lakota, Michael Markus, with “use of fire to commit a felony” as well as civil disorder, anyway. The charging documents cite knowledge of  “several fires ... set by unidentified protesters.”  Police tactics on Oct. 27, by the way, included the use of pepper spray and armored vehicles. Law enforcement and prosecutors only became more aggressive after President Trump assumed office, at his direction. Both Little Feather and Rattler opted to plead guilty, not because there was adequate evidence against them but because the mandatory minimum sentence would be 10 years if they were convicted at trial. That was a risk not worth taking: The Guardian has reported that surveys found 84 to 94 percent of the jury pool has prejudged Standing Rock protesters. Little Feather was sentenced to three years in prison. Rattler is expected to receive the same or a similar sentence.

After his July 2016 clarion call for Russian help, Trump abruptly stopped giving press conferences

The very same July 2016 press conference where Trump publicly solicited Russia's help in hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails also turned out to be Trump’s final press conference of the year. But Trump suddenly going dark following that presser has gotte
Daily Kos

After his July 2016 clarion call for Russian help, Trump abruptly stopped giving press conferences

The very same July 2016 press conference where Trump publicly solicited Russia's help in hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails also turned out to be Trump’s final press conference of the year. But Trump suddenly going dark following that presser has gotten a lot more interesting with the release of Robert Mueller's 12 new indictments of Russian military officers for hacking the 2016 elections. Now we also know that Trump's July 27 «Russia, are you listening?» call to action came on the very same day (or damn close) to Russia's first attempt to penetrate 76 email addresses from the Clinton campaign domain. Not only does that sound a tad too suspicious to be merely coincidental—just think about the fact that Donald Trump never gave another press conference for the rest of the year. He was running for president for god's sake and he was the underdog candidate—giving press conferences is the name of the game. In fact, up until Trump went dark after his suspicious July 27 presser, he had given fully 17 press conferences that year. That summer, Trump had also grown fond of skewering Hillary for not giving a press conference in 250-plus days. (While Hillary was taking blows for that lack of press access, it's also not totally uncommon for a front-runner to limit access. Every interview is just another chance to make a mistake.) But by contrast, Trump had gladly given several press conferences a month for the first half of 2016.  Now let's think about who was running Trump's campaign when he openly solicited Russia's help in winning the election and then his campaign muzzled him for the rest of the year: Paul Manafort. Manafort—who is now in jail awaiting criminal trial because a judge determined he was a flight risk—was both Trump's campaign chair and de facto campaign manager in July of 2016. Manafort and other Trump surrogates were also facing increasing questions about Trump's links to Russia around the time of Trump's final press conference for the year. «Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?» ABC News' George Stephanopoulos asked on «This Week” July 24. »No, there are not,« Manafort said with a chuckle. »It's absurd and there's no basis to it."

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