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Pete Buttigieg is a top contender, so obviously high-profile Republicans are going full homophobe


Pete Buttigieg is a top contender, so obviously high-profile Republicans are going full homophobe
Laura Clawson
Daily Kos Staff
Friday February 14, 2020 · 10:28 AM EST


First off, a bit of bookkeeping: Buttigieg is now 38 years old.

Now that we have that out of the way: “MR. MAN DONALD TRUMP”? This is the right wing’s symbol of masculinity: a guy who paints his skin, elaborately styles his comb-over, lies about his weight, and whose wife routinely slaps his hand away in public? It’s certainly beneath Buttigieg to do it, but if that debate ever happens, could someone bring Stormy Daniels to sit in the front row and hold her thumb and index finger just a couple inches apart?

Okay, okay, there are bigger issues here. It takes an idea of masculinity that’s both fragile and toxic to think that Buttigieg’s sexuality in any way diminishes his masculinity, and equally to think that masculinity is an important component of debate stage presence. Hillary Clinton owned Trump each time they debated, unless you’re judging debate success by looming creepily or yelling “No puppet! No puppet! You’re the puppet!” (And that was a moderately more coherent Trump than the one we see these days.) Even if we believe that Donald Trump is a prime example of masculinity and even if we grant that a fair number of voters are sexist, masculinity is still not the top requirement of presidential debating. Otherwise we’d be seeing, like, weathered cowboy vs. NFL tight end presidential contests. (And we’d still end up with a gay president eventually.)

Of course Limbaugh won’t be alone. The more seriously the right takes Buttigieg as a candidate, the more homophobic incoming he’s going to take from high-profile sources. Former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka took it in a weird direction—probably the first of many weird directions—when he connected Buttigieg’s sexuality to … abortion. “Why is a homosexual man lecturing us about the sanctity of life in the womb? Just a little curious there,” Gorka said. Gee, I don’t know, Sebastian, why is any man?

And while this particular line of attack may be rising up the ranks of the Republican Party and right-wing media ecosystem, it’s not like Buttigieg’s campaign hasn’t been getting homophobic messages from the beginning, because it has. “It doesn’t matter much,” he told The Washington Post much earlier in the campaign. “The criticisms that really get to you are ones you take seriously, ones that might be right. When someone’s attacking me over a decision I made that might be wrong, that’s going to make me stop and think ... If someone calls me a faggot—okay.”

Pete Buttigieg did not come out of the closet as a grown-ass man who was already an elected official clearly looking at his options to become a high-profile national politician without stopping to think about the likelihood that some people are bigots and jerks. This was baked in from the beginning. And, again, if Republicans weren’t attacking him because he has a public and loving relationship with his very charming husband, they’d be attacking him for another reason, because he’s a Democrat and that’s what they do. Shoot, this is a week when Donald Trump attacked Michael Bloomberg for racist comments. Which were racist, but come on, Donald Trump? Acting like racism is bad? Talk about a perfect example that Republicans will take any excuse to attack a Democrat.

Posted by babylonsister | Fri Feb 14, 2020, 12:59 PM (18 replies)

Appeals court rules against Trump's Medicaid work requirements


53 mins ago - Health
Appeals court rules against Trump's Medicaid work requirements
Sam Baker

The Trump administration violated federal law by allowing red states to impose work requirements on their Medicaid programs, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The court said the administration had not properly justified its decision, and that it was out of step with Medicaid's statutory goals.

What's next: The most likely next step is an appeal to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the administration has not won a single favorable ruling in lawsuits over what had once looked like one of its most significant health care policies.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Feb 14, 2020, 12:40 PM (2 replies)

McConnell vows to block 395 House bills: 'We're not gonna pass those'


McConnell vows to block 395 House bills: 'We're not gonna pass those'
By Josh Israel -
February 14, 2020 11:24 AM

Many of the bills easily passed the House, on many occasions with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed on Thursday that he is blocking about 400 pieces of legislation that have passed the House of Representatives, and made it clear that he intends to kill every one of them.

Speaking to Fox News, McConnell (R-KY), the self-proclaimed "Grim Reaper," confirmed that he was holding up 395 pieces of legislation, which does not take into account the growing pile of bills that have made it to his desk since the start of the new year.

"It is true. They've been on full left-wing parade over there, trotting out all of their left-wing solutions that are going to be issues in the fall campaign," McConnell replied. "We're not gonna pass those."


Some of the legislation McConnell is obstructing is indeed based on progressive ideas that he opposes, though most received at least some GOP votes in the House. These include bills to provide voter protections, prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, protect Dreamers, guarantee fair pay, mandate gun background checks, fight government corruption, and raise the federal minimum wage.

But many of the stalled measures are fairly non-controversial bills that easily passed the House, with overwhelming bipartisan support. Often, these bills were even authored by House Republicans.

They include:

The Global Hope Act, a bipartisan bill by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) to support global partnerships for the fight against childhood cancer. It passed with super-majority House support last month.

The Securing America's Ports Act, a bipartisan bill by Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) to ensure that all vehicles entering the United States at land ports of entry are scanned. It passed with super-majority House support this week.

The Unlocking Opportunities for Small Businesses Act, a bill by Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) and Dwight Evans (D-PA) to make it easier for small business to compete for federal prime contracts by requiring contract officers to consider relevant past performance and subcontractor experience of companies. It passed with super-majority House support last month.

H.R. 5037, a bill to rename the Farmville, North Carolina, post office after the late Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-NC). Jones' successor, Reg. Gregory Murphy (R-NC), authored the bill and every member of the state's House delegation co-sponsored the tribute to the 12-term GOP lawmaker. It passed with super-majority House support last week.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Feb 14, 2020, 11:45 AM (39 replies)

With tickets costing $580,600 per couple, Trump's Saturday fundraiser will be his most expensive y

Who's going to fork this out? I would love to see a guest list.


With tickets costing $580,600 per couple, Trump's Saturday fundraiser will be his most expensive yet
12:12 a.m.

If you want to attend President Trump's Saturday night fundraiser in Palm Beach, you'd better sell that old Renoir on the wall, quickly marry an oligarch, sell a kidney to a despot who really needs it, or ask Mike Bloomberg for a loan.

The $580,600-per-couple event will be held at the beachfront home of billionaire investor Nelson Peltz, and it's Trump's most expensive fundraising event since he took office, The Washington Post reports. The invitation promises dinner and a photo with Trump, the Post reports, and a Republican National Committee official said 30 or so guests are expected. This event will bring in more than $10 million for Trump's re-election efforts.

Since October 2017, Trump has attended at least 48 dinners and roundtable discussions with top Republican donors, the Post reports. Tickets to all of those events started at $50,000. Campaign officials told the Post that while the Secret Service does do background checks, the White House doesn't vet guests.

The Post points out that in 2016, Trump called out his fellow candidates for courting wealthy donors, saying: "Somebody gives them money — not anything wrong — just psychologically when they go to that person, they're going to do it. They owe them." RNC spokesman Mike Reed told the Post that Trump is "the most accessible president in history," and "these roundtables, which previous presidents attended as well, are an opportunity for our supporters to get an update on the campaign and his record as president, all things the president discusses publicly all the time." Catherine Garcia
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Feb 14, 2020, 10:45 AM (6 replies)

David Corn: Trump Unleashed: The Trump Presidency Enters Its Most Dangerous Phase


Trump Unleashed: The Trump Presidency Enters Its Most Dangerous Phase
A government of Trump, for Trump, and by Trump.
David Corn
Washington, DC, Bureau ChiefBio | Follow


With the impeachment behind him, Trump has been acting like Michael Corleone on steroids, intent on settling all the “family business.” He sacked impeachment witnesses Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Ambassador Gordon Sondland. Next he moved onto the Justice Department and the judiciary. At the same time, Barr set up a special “intake” channel at the department for Trump’s henchman Rudy Giuliani to feed rumors, dirt, and supposed leads about Trump’s rivals.

All this is crooked and horrific. Trump is rigging the justice system, trashing norms that have been in place for decades, and attacking the notion that the rule of law is essential for democratic governance. Early in his presidency, facing the Russia investigation being run by the FBI, Trump exclaimed, “Where is my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to the thuggish mob lawyer who had been red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy’s chief hatchet-man years before becoming a mentor and consigliere for the young Trump. Though Trump placed Barr, his own lapdog, in charge of the Justice Department last year, Trump has become his own Roy Cohn, consolidating power and seeking vengeance. And extracting revenge has long been one of Trump’s primary psychological motivations, as I first explained before he was elected president.

But this crusade of revenge does more than just feed Trump’s dark soul. It undermines the safeguards that are supposed to thwart despotic power. During the impeachment trial, Trump’s celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz essentially argued that Trump, as president, can get away with any act of corruption that is not a clear violation of federal criminal law. This view is far outside the mainstream of constitutional law, and under it, Trump could, say, pardon the Russian hackers who have been indicted for attacking the 2016 election (to help Trump), signal to them they should stage a repeat in 2020, and still be invulnerable to impeachment. With his unfounded contention, Dershowitz was establishing the theoretical foundation for Trumpism. With these outrageous actions since impeachment, Trump has aimed to fully implement it. The Justice Department, c’est moi.


Barr has placed a welcome sign on his department’s door for foreign governments and intelligence services to intervene in US politics by shoving disinformation into the investigative system of the United States. It’s simple: Slip Giuliani a phony document or a compromised source; he hands that bad information to the Justice Department; and US officials have to spend time and resources chasing the false lead. And here’s the bonus: Someone at the department could leak to the media that it is examining a report that a Democratic candidate once took illegal funds from a Chinese source—whether or not that report has any legitimacy—and, presto, Fox News has an exclusive. Russia, if you’re listening….

These are difficult times. Disinformation is a threat to the fabric of American democracy. Trust in government is low. One party has traded checks and balances for tax cuts and judges. For some, the right to vote is under siege. Trump and his enablers have wrought a slow-burn crisis of democracy. They have perverted the basic foundation taught in every high school civics course: this is a government of laws, not of men and women. (Are there still civics courses?) For Trump, this is a government of Trump, for Trump, and by Trump. And his GOP handmaids and tens of millions of Americans are just fine with it.

Roger Stone is a political sleazebag who for decades has proudly engaged in dirty tricks and slime-ball actions to win elections. He is facing prison time for lying to cover up Trump misconduct in the Russia scandal. (Information produced during Stone’s trial suggested that Trump lied to Mueller, which could be a crime.) But Stone is small potatoes compared to Trump’s overall aim: The president seeks the total sublimation of the Justice Department and the whole US government to his will. If he pulls this off, it will be one more reason for that survivor I met, and anyone else who cares about preserving the rule of law and democratic values, to worry.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Feb 14, 2020, 09:57 AM (1 replies)

'Livid and Frightened': Inside the DOJ Office at the Center of the Roger Stone Scandal

February 13, 2020 3:44PM ET
‘Livid and Frightened’: Inside the DOJ Office at the Center of the Roger Stone Scandal
Government prosecutors are angry and looking for the exits after a political appointee intervened to give Trump crony Roger Stone a lighter sentence.
By Andy Kroll


The Justice Department has denied that Barr acted at the direction of Trump to lighten Stone’s punishment, but the sequence of events is damning all the same. It appears as if the DOJ rebuked its own lawyers to go easy on a longtime friend of the president’s. A department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The morale of DOJ’s thousands of prosecutors is no small matter. These lawyers work on the front lines of protecting the rule of law. Disillusionment and frustration among this corps of attorneys has real-world consequences for the fair application of justice across the country.

Channing Phillips, who served in the Justice Department for nearly three decades and led the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. under Republican and Democratic presidents, including Donald Trump, tells Rolling Stone that he never witnessed a series of events during his time in public service comparable to what happened in the Stone case.

“I found the whole sequence of events deeply disturbing,” Phillips says. “I’ve never seen anything like it and I hope never to see anything like it again.”

Phillips says morale in the office “took a huge hit” this week based on the conversations he’s had. He said that Jonathan Kravis, the federal prosecutor who worked the Stone case and quit the DOJ after his recommendation was reversed, was well-respected and seen as a loyal public servant. “When you work in the trenches like we do, we feel each other’s pain, and so to see someone give up a career that they care about …” Phillips says. “On the other hand, these guys [who withdrew from the case or resigned] should be looked at as heroes, because when they took the job they took an oath, and clearly from where I sit they weren’t willing to sacrifice that oath. Kudos to them for doing that.”

Another former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C., who requested anonymity to share responses from old colleagues still working there, says lawyers are “livid and frightened” after the events of this week.

“Some are just trying to fly under the radar,” the former prosecutor tells Rolling Stone. “All are looking for jobs outside of the government, but many don’t have the time in to leave. I really never have seen anything like this.”


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Feb 14, 2020, 09:27 AM (10 replies)

Trump Threatens to Make Calls with World Leaders Private


Trump Threatens to Make Calls with World Leaders Private
February 13, 2020 at 4:24 pm EST By Taegan Goddard

President Trump said he may end the practice of having national security and foreign service staff listen in on his calls with foreign leaders, The Hill reports.

Said Trump: “Well, that’s what they’ve done over the years. When you call a foreign leader, people listen. I may end the practice entirely. I may end it entirely.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Feb 13, 2020, 05:03 PM (20 replies)

NYC Bar Association Condemns Barr for 'Acting in Concert' with Trump to Protect Roger Stone

NYC Bar Association Condemns Barr for ‘Acting in Concert’ with Trump to Protect Roger Stone
by Jerry Lambe | 1:12 pm, February 13th, 2020

The New York City Bar Association on Wednesday issued a stinging rebuke of Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department, expressing “deep concerns about the impartial administration of justice” with regards to former Trump advisor Roger Stone’s prosecution.

In a letter addressed to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz and the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the Bar Association warned that DOJ’s intervention in Stone’s sentencing recommendation reflected a disregard for the rule of law and posed a serious danger to the American criminal justice system.

“Recent actions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, a component of the United States Department of Justice, raise serious questions about whether the Department of Justice is making prosecutorial decisions based not on neutral principles but in order to protect President [Donald] Trump’s supporters and friends,” the Bar Association wrote. “In our criminal justice system, a single standard must apply to all who are accused or convicted of violating the law—unequal treatment based on political influence is to be deplored in all cases but is especially dangerous if it emanates from the presidency.”

After recounting the events leading up to the resignation of the prosecutors assigned to Stone’s case, the Bar Association disabused lawmakers of the notion that the DOJ’s conduct was in any way aligned with normal operating procedures, referring to the recent developments as “highly unusual and irregular.”

“The Department of Justice is not in the habit of taking one position in court and then, without explanation, taking a startling different position on the very next day,” the Bar wrote. “This sudden turnabout is itself disturbing. In addition, the Department of Justice is known for rarely asking the sentencing court to impose a sentence below the Guidelines range, other than when the defendant is a cooperating witness or when the defendant’s case presents unusual mitigating factors.”


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Feb 13, 2020, 03:47 PM (22 replies)

Trump engaged in witness retaliation. That's a crime


Trump engaged in witness retaliation. That's a crime
Opinion by Elie Honig
Updated 9:11 PM ET, Wed February 12, 2020

(CNN)In the aftermath of his recent acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, President Donald Trump is on the payback warpath. His actions range from the disgraceful use of the Justice Department (with an eager assist from Attorney General William Barr) as a blunt instrument to protect his political allies and to target his perceived opponents to the obvious witness retaliation against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a former top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, who served as a key impeachment witness, and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman (a National Security Council attorney who did not testify).

Yet there remains a dangerous tendency in some quarters to soft-pedal Trump's conduct. For example, in a Washington Post op-ed, "Paranoid or Presidential: Perhaps Both, but Trump Broke No Laws When He Ousted Vindman," Professor Jonathan Turley takes issue with my assertion (which has been echoed by other former federal prosecutors) that Trump committed criminal witness retaliation when he removed the Vindman brothers from their White House positions. (National security adviser Robert O'Brien denied that these firings were an act of retaliation.)

Turley is wrong. His view of unfettered, unaccountable presidential powers defies law and common sense, and smacks of the flimsy excuse-making that has propped up Trump's abuse of the Justice Department to do his political bidding. Turley first argues that Trump's "post-trial action is not obstruction or witness tampering, and those officials are not guaranteed to retain such positions indefinitely."


The argument Turley makes ultimately rests on the tired premise that the President is essentially above the law and can fire officials for any reason he pleases. But while a president certainly has a broad right to fire officials, he is not entitled to do so for criminal reasons. For example, assume hypothetically that an old high school nemesis of Vindman's walked into the West Wing, dropped $10,000 cash on the Resolute Desk and declared, "President Trump, I'd like you to remove Vindman. Nail his brother too, if you don't mind." If Trump took the cash and then removed the Vindmans, would he be guilty of accepting a bribe? Of course. Just as a president cannot legally fire an official in return for a bribe (a criminal act), he also cannot fire an official with an intent to retaliate against a witness (also a crime).

No, Trump will not be indicted while in office -- the Justice Department has a longstanding policy against bringing criminal charges against a sitting president. But, as the policy itself acknowledges, a president can be charged once out of office. That decision will be up to some future attorney general. And there are bigger questions at play about Trump's accountability, and that of individuals who would try to excuse utterly inexcusable and dangerous conduct.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Feb 13, 2020, 01:11 PM (9 replies)

American Bar Association Goes After Trump For Blasting Roger Stone Sentencing On Twitter

POLITICS 02/12/2020 07:55 pm ET Updated 3 hours ago
American Bar Association Goes After Trump For Blasting Roger Stone Sentencing On Twitter
The organization put out a pointed statement about “public officials who personally attack judges or prosecutors” after the president did just that.
By Sanjana Karanth

The American Bar Association indirectly denounced President Donald Trump on Wednesday for publicly criticizing the sentencing recommendation for his friend Roger Stone as well as the judge presiding over Stone’s case.

“The American Bar Association steadfastly supports judicial independence and the sound exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” ABA President Judy Perry Martinez said in a statement on Wednesday. “Public officials who personally attack judges or prosecutors can create a perception that the system is serving a political or other purpose rather than the fair administration of justice.”

The message from the organization of lawyers follows Trump’s tweet early Tuesday morning calling the seven- to nine-year sentencing recommendation for Stone a “miscarriage of justice.” The Trump adviser had been convicted of witness tampering and lying to Congress.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Feb 13, 2020, 12:27 PM (16 replies)
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