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Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
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Biden Isn't Deviant. He's Decent.


Biden Isn’t Deviant. He’s Decent.
The former vice president isn’t like other Washington power brokers. That’s what makes him great.
6:00 AM ET
Eve Gerber


Why am I telling another “Biden being Biden” story? Because I believe that the character of the person who occupies the Oval Office is of the utmost importance, and because I believe that Biden, far from a bad man, is an unusually good one.

On the single occasion when my family was invited to a gathering on the grounds of the Naval Observatory, the vice president crossed a patio to greet my kids, introduced them to similarly aged guests, showed them where to find towels, hauled floats out of a shed, and cajoled them into the pool. This story shows me the same thing I see any time any host stops mingling to meet the needs of his least important guests—here’s someone who cares for the meekest among us.

The new narrative about Biden suggests that he is exploitative and solipsistic in his encounters with women. Although I did not witness what the women who have come forward to criticize Biden experienced, and only they can say how these encounters felt to them, it seems relevant that Biden is touchy-feely with everyone—not just women, but children and men, too. My kids fought to be plus-ones for Biden events because of the type of behavior that is being called into question. He habitually nuzzled, hugged, and kidded around with them. But he wasn’t just physical. He tuned in emotionally. In the below photo, while a long line of influentials wait for his attention, Biden is listening to my 7-year-old’s concerns about Syrian kids.

After these encounters, I asked the question of the moment: Why does the guy act this way? Those who cite power dynamics are both exactly wrong and onto something. In Washington, warm welcomes are generally reserved for the most influential or the highest-dollar campaign donors. Sometimes that policy is explicit: You get a faux-intimate photo in exchange for a large PAC contribution. Biden’s disregard of this protocol is telling. He enters a room, just as he enters a debate about union rights or domestic violence, with a predisposition to lend an ear to the least powerful.

Judging from the reaction to the recent spate of Biden stories, time is up on avuncular attention, now interpreted as at best pernicious paternalism and at worst septuagenarian sexual harassment. In the cultural revolution under way in America, men like Biden are invited to offer their head if their prior actions deviated from the new norms.

No doubt, character counts. I, for one, admire Biden’s deviant decency.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 10:09 AM (10 replies)

Ethics experts sound alarm over confirmation process of Trump's pick to lead NOAA

Ethics experts sound alarm over confirmation process of Trump’s pick to lead NOAA
"Nobody could argue with a straight face" that Barry Myers doesn’t have conflicts of interest.
Kyla Mandel
Apr 3, 2019, 2:14 pm


Prior to Wednesday’s rushed vote, Myers’ nomination hit multiple snags. He was first nominated by Trump in October 2017. When Myers’ name was circulated as a possible contender for NOAA administrator, it wasn’t taken seriously. The idea of someone like the head of AccuWeather running NOAA had been a running joke among Democratic staffers. And then it happened.

His nomination marks only the second time in history that an individual without a scientific degree was put forward to lead NOAA
; the first was attorney Richard Fink who served from 1977 to 1981. Myers has, however, said he acknowledges the reality of climate change and humans’ role in causing it, a fact several of Trump’s top nominees refuse to admit.

Myers’ original confirmation hearing took place in November 2017, while he was still the CEO of AccuWeather and held shares in the company. However, his nomination failed to gain the votes needed to advance, due largely to these conflicts of interest and the company’s past eagerness to effectively privatize the National Weather Service. Trump then re-nominated him in January 2018, but the year came and went without a Senate vote on his nomination.

Myers has now been nominated a third time to this position. And with Wednesday’s vote, the nomination has moved out of committee, leaving it up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to call a floor vote.

This is despite the fact that there has been no debate this year on Myers’ nomination, a standard practice for these types of nominations.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 09:47 AM (4 replies)

Why Jared Kushner Poses a Threat to America's National Security


Posted on Thu, Apr 4th, 2019 by Leo Vidal
Why Jared Kushner Poses a Threat to America’s National Security


Confirmation that Kushner is “Senior White House Official 1” in the committee’s documents reveals that he was turned down for some very serious reasons. Reporting has identified that Kushner poses a major security risk to the United States for the following reasons:

His susceptibility to foreign influence,
His private business interests, and
His questionable personal conduct.

The committee’s newest leads in the investigation arose after Newbold said she was concerned that many of her determinations that employees were ineligible for security clearances had been overturned outside of the normal process.

We don’t have all the details about what exactly raised red flags in the personnel security office about Kushner. However, public reporting offers possible explanations, such as:

Kushner had extensive foreign contacts that he did not initially report in his application for a security clearance.

He was part of the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton in June of 2016.

He also has a close relationship with the ruthless Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

He received help from the country of Qatar which appears to have given him a huge amount of money to bail him out one of his troubled real estate ventures.

Kushner is known for using his personal phone and personal email account to communicate with his foreign contacts, compromising the national security of the United States.

Former FBI agent Clint Watts, a cybersecurity expert, said that Kushner’s communications were highly vulnerable to hackers — and he suggested they had probably been intercepted by foreign intelligence operatives before Trump even took office.

Kushner has been discovered making false statements under oath, which could send him to prison.

Jared Kushner Should Immediately Be Removed From His Position

This is not a small matter. Donald Trump hired a national security threat to be one of his top advisers. And Jared Kushner, through his questionable actions, continues to put the country at risk every day he goes to work in the White House.

Jared Kushner should be removed from his senior position in the U.S. government immediately.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 08:37 AM (2 replies)

Trump's Goons Now Forced to Say They Have No Idea Whether Wind Turbines Cause Cancer


Trump's Goons Now Forced to Say They Have No Idea Whether Wind Turbines Cause Cancer
Tom McKay
Yesterday 9:45pm
Filed to: mind garbage

Last night at a Republican fundraiser in DC, Donald Trump claimed that wind turbines cause cancer with the citation, “They say the noise causes cancer.” This may be because the president has a grudge against wind power because he thought it would spoil the view from one of his golf courses in Scotland or it might just be because he is a complete and total idiot, but it is a patently ridiculous claim that it would be more or less a total waste of our time to debunk.

This does mean that the president’s flunkies and allies are in a tough spot. Do they risk angering their infamously thin-skinned boss by admitting that he pulled this one out of thin air? Or do they pretend the emperor is still wearing clothes? Of course it’s the latter. Behold, White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp responding to a question on whether wind turbines cause cancer with the answer, “I don’t have an answer on that. I mean, I don’t, I don’t have an answer then.”

“I really don’t have information on that right now,” she added. “... I don’t have information on that, if I get a readout, I’m happy to update you on that.”


And some other Republicans are jumping on board. Per the Des Moines Register:

Gov. Kim Reynolds, also a Republican, addressed Trump’s remarks with reporters Wednesday as well and highlighted the important role wind energy plays in Iowa’s economy. However, she declined to say whether she thinks Trump is wrong that wind turbines can cause cancer.

“That’s not my place,” she said.

“You know how those things change,” she said. “One year, coffee’s good for you. The next year, coffee causes cancer.”

Hey, who’s to say whether apples aren’t oranges? Maybe oranges are just big, soft apples. Maybe apples aren’t even apples. Who can really know? Consensus reality needs a consensus!
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 08:02 AM (3 replies)

Buttigieg Hints Formal Announcement Is Coming


Buttigieg Hints Formal Announcement Is Coming
April 4, 2019 at 7:18 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

Pete Buttigieg, who is officially still just “exploring” a presidential bid, tweeted that he’ll be making a “special announcement” in South Bend on April 14.

Axios: “Online interest in Buttigieg — a 37-year-old gay veteran and Harvard graduate who speaks 8 languages — has skyrocketed since his CNN town hall, generating more engagement with his tweets (2.10 million interactions) during this period than any other candidate’s main account except Beto O’Rourke — with half as many followers. Buttigieg’s campaign raised $7 million in the first quarter of 2019.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Apr 4, 2019, 07:28 AM (2 replies)

Democrats Outsmarted Trump And Made It Impossible For Him To Hide His Tax Returns


Democrats Outsmarted Trump And Made It Impossible For Him To Hide His Tax Returns
Posted on Wed, Apr 3rd, 2019 by Jason Easley

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) explained that the Trump administration would have no say over blocking the release of the president’s tax returns because Democrats addressed the letter to the IRS, not the Treasury Department.

Rep. Kildee said on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, “It’s not up to the Treasury Secretary. It’s up to the commissioner of the IRS. That’s who the letter was addressed to. When Secretary Mnuchin was before the committee, he said the same thing. The commissioner of the IRS will follow the law. That’s our expectation that he will follow the law of the United States and deliver the returns that had been requested.”

By not blanket requesting all of Trump’s tax returns, but only seeking returns for the years when Trump claims that he is being audited, Democrats used Trump’s own excuse for not turning over the returns against him.

Democrats are investigating, not Donald Trump, but whether or not tax law is being appropriately applied to the President Of The United States.

It is a clever strategy that is based on public policy but has the practical impact of getting Trump’s tax returns into the hands of members of Congress for examination.

The White House is in way over its head in dealing with this Democratic House. The Democrats are running circles around the president and turning his entire presidency into a waking oversight nightmare.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 3, 2019, 09:35 PM (40 replies)

Cohen: Trump feared audit if he released tax returns

Article is old! One month give or take...

February 27, 2019 / 4:54 PM / a month ago
Cohen: Trump feared audit if he released tax returns
David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said on Wednesday that Trump has not released his tax returns because he feared that public scrutiny would lead to an audit and tax penalties.

In congressional testimony that could aid efforts by House Democrats to obtain Trump’s returns, Cohen also said he does not believe the president is under audit, despite repeated claims by Trump that he could not release his returns because they are being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.

Members of the House of Representatives tax committee also pointed to other segments of Cohen’s testimony as topics likely to draw further scrutiny, including claims that Trump deflated the value of his properties to lower his tax bill and called the government “stupid” for giving him a $10 million tax refund in 2008.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 3, 2019, 08:35 PM (3 replies)

Trump administration to slash USDA pork inspections, including tests for salmonella, E. coli

What could go wrong?


Trump administration to slash USDA pork inspections, including tests for salmonella, E. coli
Daily Kos Staff
Wednesday April 03, 2019 · 2:03 PM EDT

The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration plans to slash the number of federal inspectors in the nation's pork-processing plants by about 40 percent. The change, which could take place next month, is part of the Republican press to deregulate industry—including removing regulations previously put in place for public safety reasons.

The removed federal inspectors would be replaced by ... actually, by nothing.

Under the proposed new inspection system, the responsibility for identifying diseased and contaminated pork would be shared with plant employees, whose training would be at the discretion of plant owners. There would be no limits on slaughter-line speeds.

The "responsibility" for keeping contaminated meat out of the plant would be transferred to industry employees, but there are no hard requirements for how, or if, those workers will be trained to identify specific diseases or contaminants. There would similarly be no requirement that the plant operate at a speed that would even allow for plausible visual inspections, and no requirement that plants publicly disclose the results of their own disease testing, a move that could delay identification of new outbreaks.

Tests for salmonella and E. coli, two of the most common causes of serious food-borne illness, will seemingly no longer be required at all.

If this sounds to you like a recipe for disaster, you are in good company. The USDA's chief veterinarian refused to approve the proposed changes, citing the potential for catastrophic disease outbreaks if less-trained plant workers failed to identify one of the highly contagious diseases that USDA's veterinarians would otherwise have caught. But he has since left the department, and Team Trump forced the issue through soon after he departed. And though years of prior USDA experiments with the new protocol have not borne out lofty industry promises of continued safety, that does not seem to have deterred administration attempts to push forward.


After the first large new outbreak happens, a new administration will likely re-tighten those same controls, returning to something much like the original system. But it will only be after something goes wrong. Food safety advocates and industry watchers warn that the "something goes wrong" part, if it results in a new epidemic, could mean human deaths, catastrophic industry losses, or both. For consumers, the only recourse would appear to be not buying the stuff.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 3, 2019, 06:58 PM (8 replies)

Kristjen Nielsen: Eliminating Birthright Citizenship 'On The Table'


4/03/19 8:02am
Read time: 2 minutes
Kristjen Nielsen: Eliminating Birthright Citizenship ‘On The Table’
Trump's DHS Secretary goes there. None of us are safe from deportation if she gets her wish.
By NewsHound Ellen
7 hours ago by Frances Langum

Watch a Trump cabinet official normalize extremism @ link.

In assuring Tucker Carlson’s white nationalist fans that she and Donald Trump are in solidarity with their hatred of immigrants, Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen casually, but with enthusiasm, tossed out the possibility that Donald Trump might issue an executive order overriding the centuries-old interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting citizenship to anyone born here.

In a deep dive into the legal consequences of such an order, Vox correspondent Dara Lind noted in October that Trump was toying with the idea. The 14th Amendment, stating that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,” was ratified in 1868. Issuing such an order, Lind pointed out, would be a dare from Trump to the Supreme Court to stop him. She described such a maneuver as “potentially … the biggest constitutional power grab by a president in a century.”

But to Nielsen and white power champ Carlson, such a radical maneuver is no biggie. In fact, Carlson tried to push Nielsen into saying Trump would agree to it. He slipped it into his advocacy for an expansion of the E-Verify program to “punish” employers of undocumented immigrants. Nielsen’s nonchalant amenability was chilling.

Of course, nobody mentioned that Trump’s own businesses have relied on such labor.

CARLSON: It looks like Congress is not going to act because one party has a vested interest in changing the population and the other party is, in effect, controlled by people who want illegal immigration. So would there be a downside for the president to act unilaterally on that question or, for example, birthright citizenship? Would you be willing to draft an executive order eliminating birthright citizenship?

NIELSEN: I think – you know, Tucker, I think the president’s been clear. All of that is on the table, including to close down the border. We have to stop this flow into our communities, we have to stop the drugs, we have to stop the smuggling, gangs. He’s very serious about it. So, yes! I think everything is on the table.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 3, 2019, 05:12 PM (15 replies)

Senate Democrats introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College

Senate Democrats introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College
Republicans say such efforts will hurt rural voters.
By Li [email protected] Apr 3, 2019, 2:30pm EDT

A number of Senate Democrats are ready to follow through on an idea that some 2020 candidates — and a good chunk of Americans — support: abolishing the Electoral College.

This week, Sens. Brian Schatz, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a constitutional amendment that would abolish the Electoral College, a position that’s become increasingly popular among 2020 candidates as the election gets underway. The ratification of the amendment would mean presidential candidates would be directly elected by the national popular vote. Separately, Sen. Jeff Merkley has also introduced a package of election reforms, including a bill aimed at getting rid of the Electoral College.

It’s a push lawmakers say they’re launching in order ensure that every person’s vote is valued equally, something that’s not entirely guaranteed with the Electoral College system, under which votes in certain swing states can play a larger role in deciding the outcome than others.

“The status quo is quite undemocratic and radical,” Schatz told Vox. “This change, in my view, is an unassailably logical evolution of our Constitution.”

While the support for getting rid of the Electoral College has grown — more than 60 percent of voters in a poll conducted by Civis Analytics right after the 2016 election favored using the popular vote instead — the process to ultimately do so faces a steep fight.

In order to be adopted, a constitutional amendment requires the support of two-thirds of the House and the Senate, as well as ratification from three-fourths of states (that’s 38 states.) It could also be ratified via a constitutional convention, which would require the backing of two-thirds of state legislatures.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Apr 3, 2019, 03:59 PM (1 replies)
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