You are browsing the archive for 2018 August 01.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Trump 'Ought to Be Out of Office By Now': Ex-GOP Ethics Expert Explains What Nixon's Impeachment Process Can Teach Us Today

August 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Lawmakers have said they're waiting for the Mueller probe to wrap up — but they don't need to.


While arguing that President Donald Trump's recent tweet directing Attorney Jeff Sessions to end special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation constituted obstruction of justice, former GOP ethics attorney Richard Painter added that the evidence that Trump has broken the law has been clear for over a year.

Painter discussed the issue Wednesday on MSNBC's “The Beat with Ari Melber.”

“It was quite clear [Trump] fired James Comey in order to obstruct the Russia investigation, and he admitted to that in front of the Russian ambassador and in several TV Interviews,” said Painter, who served under President George W. Bush and is now running for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota. 

“We should have had hearings in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees at the same time that Robert Mueller was hired,” he continued. “And that's the way it was done in the Nixon days. They had the House and Senate actually doing their jobs and investigating. This is, and has been, evidence of obstruction of justice going back to the Comey firing, at least.”

He continued: “It's shameful it's not being investigated. He ought to be out of office by now.”

Watch the clip below:

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Senate Republicans Shot Down an Extra $250 Million in Funding to Protect US Elections

August 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos

So much for GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s empty threats that Russia “better not do it again.”


They ballooned the deficit by a trillion-plus, gave billions in tax breaks to the mega-rich, but when it comes to securing the nation’s democratic elections, that’s just a bridge too far for Senate Republicans. Only one GOP senator voted for a measure that would have provided an extra $250 million in election security funding in the lead up to the 2018 midterms. The Washington Post writes:

The 50 to 47 vote fell far short of the needed 60 votes to include the $250 million amendment, proposed by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), in an appropriations package that the Senate was set to approve Wednesday. Only one Republican senator — Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who frequently prioritizes deficit concerns — voted for the additional funds.

Three other Republicans didn’t vote: Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Arizona Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona (who’s in Africa) and John McCain (who’s battling cancer). Burr chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee that has concluded Russia attacked the 2016 elections and did so to the benefit of Donald Trump. Congress recently granted $380 million in funding to help secure the election but the Post reports a general “bipartisan consensus” that it isn’t enough to shore up U.S. elections given the current threat level.

The vote also occurred one day after Facebook disclosed discovering a disinformation campaign on its network targeting the elections, and one week after Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri became the first documented target of Russian hacking. 

So much for GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s empty threats that Russia “better not do it again.”

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

'That Makes Me Sweat! That Is Vile!': MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Gets Flustered and Pledges to Stop Airing Sarah Sanders' Craven Lies

August 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“Let's watch some lies.”


MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace fumed Wednesday about the lies and hypocrisy emanating from the White House, showing particular disdain for press secretary Sarah Sanders' defense earlier in the day of President Donald Trump's attacks on the media.

“While we certainly support freedom of the press, we support freedom of speech and we think those things go hand in hand,” Sanders said in a clip played on Wallace's show “Deadline: White House.”

After the clip finished airing, Wallace had a look of disgust on her face.

“We're not going to air that anymore,” Wallace said. “Let's make that the last Sarah Huckabee Sanders clip at 4 o'clock. That is it. You know, that makes me sweat! That is vile!” 

“That made me sweat!” she repeated, actually wiping her brow. “This is someone who complains about a restaurant that exercises their First Amendment right to kick out someone 'obliterating democratic norms' — that made me sweat.”

John Heilemann then chimed in:”The prepared answer where she talked about the responsibilities of the press and talked about Osama bin Laden was just a pack of lies. So the prepared answer was a pack of lies, and then we got that”. 

“I'm gathering myself,” Wallace said, before introducing a clip recounting some of Trump's bogus claims. “Let's watch some lies.”

Watch the clip below:

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

The Trump Administration Proposed a New Financial Test for Immigrants — And It Reflects the Extreme Classism and Racism of the GOP

August 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Thanks to the Trump administration, immigrating to the U.S. could become much more difficult for anyone who lacks a high income.


Applying for immigration to a foreign country can be a cumbersome and bureaucratic process even under the best of circumstances. And thanks to the Trump administration, immigrating to the U.S. could become much more difficult for anyone who lacks a high income. 

Under President Donald Trump, the Department of Homeland Security is considering an immigration plan that would place much more emphasis on applicants’ income and assets as well as the condition of their health. The plan would revive the antiquated “public charge” test, which started with the Immigration Act of 1882.

When the Immigration Act of 1882 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur—the Republican who had become president after President James A. Garfield’s assassination a year earlier—the term “public charge” was used to describe someone who was likely to need some type of help from the government. And under the Trump administration’s immigration plan, many people would fit the definition of a “public charge.” 

The Immigration Act of 1882 specified what types of types of immigrants were considered undesirable—specifically, “any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.”

At the time, there was considerable prejudice against Irish-Catholic immigrants. Ireland was much poorer back then, and opponents of Irish-Catholic immigration argued that immigrants arriving from Dublin or Cork were likely to become “public charges.” The Immigration Act of 1882, they hoped, would curtail Irish-Catholic immigration just as the Chinese Exclusion Act (also signed into law by President Arthur that year) would curtail Chinese immigration.   

These days, however, Ireland is much more prosperous than it was in the 19th century—whether it’s the Republic of Ireland in the south or the UK-associated Northern Ireland—and it is immigrants of color that the Trump administration fears could become “public charges.” 

Using the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” test, a one-person household applying for immigration would need to be …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

'A Lie, of Course': CNN's Jake Tapper Calls Out Trump's Escalating and Nixonian Efforts to Shut Down the Russia Probe

August 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Tapper pointed out that the White House is intentionally deceiving the American people to attack the investigation.


CNN's Jake Tapper denounced President Donald Trump's most recent attacks on the special counsel's Russia investigation, arguing that his battle with the probe has reached Nixonian levels.

“President Trump [is] escalating his attacks on the Russia investigation, going even further in his calls to shut down a law enforcement investigation into his own team, farther than we've ever seen before from this president or any president since Richard Nixon,” Tapper said. “Trump tweeting, 'Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further.'”

Tapper continued: ”This is now official White House language for describing a law enforcement investigation — signed off on by the president's own Justice Department and defended by the president's own FBI director as not a witch hunt.”

He then played a clip of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders speaking earlier at a press briefing: “It's ridiculous that all of the corruption and dishonesty that's gone on with the launching of the witch hunt,” she said. “The entire investigation is based off a dirty, discredited dossier.”

“All right,” Tapper said. “That last statement from Sanders is a lie, of course. The investigation was launched before the dossier was drafted. It has continued gathering evidence since, including during the Trump presidency. Special counsel Mueller is, of course, also investigating the degree to which the President and his team have tried to stop the investigation, with potential obstruction of justice charges at play.”

Watch the clip below:

Related Stories

Avatar of admin

by admin

Obamacare is now optional

August 1, 2018 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon

Michael F. Cannon

At long last, the Trump administration has created a
freedom option” for people suffering
under Obamacare. A final rulemaking issued Wednesday reverses an
Obama-era regulation that exposed the sick to medical underwriting.
The new rule will expand consumer protections for the sick, cover
up to two million uninsured people, reduce premiums for millions
more, protect conscience rights, and make Obamacare’s costs
more transparent. And unlike President Barack Obama’s
implementation of his signature healthcare legislation, it works
within the confines of the law.

Federal law exempts “short-term, limited duration”
health insurance from having to carry the unwanted coverage and
hidden taxes Obamacare requires. Many consumers have understandably
taken refuge from soaring Obamacare premiums in short-term
plans.

Hoping to force those consumers into Obamacare plans, the Obama
administration sabotaged short-term plans by stripping them of
crucial consumer protections. It cut the maximum plan term from 12
months to three months, and forbade issuers from offering
“renewal guarantees” that allow the sick to continue
purchasing short-term policies at healthy-person rates. State
insurance regulators protested that these restrictions literally
stripped sick patients of their coverage.

Wednesday’s rule reinstates and even expands the consumer
protections Obama curtailed. It allows short-term plans to last 12
months, and allows insurers to offer them with renewal
guarantees.

You read that right. Democrats curtailed consumer protections;
Republicans are expanding them.

The rule is a model for
how agencies should interpret federal law: with an eye toward
giving individuals maximum freedom of choice.

The benefits of Wednesday’s announcement are substantial.
Various organizations, including some that oppose the new rule, project it will cover
one million to 2.3 million previously uninsured Americans.
Projections by Medicare’s chief actuary
indicate it will reduce premiums for millions
more by an average of 30 percent.

The policy change also promises more secure coverage for the
sick. It frees consumers to avoid Obamacare’s price controls, which
are eroding coverage for the sick. Instead,
consumers can purchase consecutive short-term plans, tied together
with renewal guarantees that protectthem from medical underwriting when they fall
ill.

Renewal guarantees can even protect some 200 million consumers
with employer-based coverage, or no health insurance, from medical
underwriting — for just one-tenth the cost of Obamacare
plans.

When Congress passed Obamacare, insurers had just begun selling renewal guarantees as a standalone
product
. These policies gave purchasers the right to enroll in
a health insurance plan whenever they wanted, at healthy-person
premiums, no matter how sick they got in the meantime, and cost
roughly 90 percent less than the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Would You Send Your Son or Daughter to Die for Montenegro?

August 1, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Why, wondered President Donald Trump, have Washington
politicians decided to risk American lives to defend Montenegro?
It’s a good question. He should ask the president who oversaw
Montenegro’s entry into the alliance: Donald Trump.

The president went on Fox News and agreed with host Tucker
Carlson’s question: “Why should my son go to Montenegro
to defend it from attack?” The proper answer is the latter
shouldn’t. The U.S. government should risk its
citizens’ lives and squander their wealth only to protect
their nation, not to conduct grand foreign crusades, even for
Montenegro.

Indeed, the Balkan nation is a good example of the folly of NATO
expansion. The alliance was created as Europe fell into the Cold
War. The purpose was to prevent the Soviets under Joseph Stalin
from doing what Adolf Hitler attempted: dominate Eurasia. Hence,
Washington focused on protecting the major states of Western
Europe.

The U.S. government
should risk its citizens’ lives and squander their wealth only to
protect their nation, not to conduct grand foreign crusades, even
for Montenegro.

Moscow’s control reached into Central Europe. Much of the
Balkans fell under independent Communist control. However,
successive U.S. administrations did not attempt to roll back Soviet
influence. Such Communist control was tragic, but not important to
American security and certainly not worth a war. Even when subject
peoples rose in Poland, East Germany, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia,
Washington properly did nothing militarily.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact ended the need
for NATO. For a time the alliance desperately looked for a new
purpose, as officials proposed that the organization promote
student exchanges and fight the drug trade. Then the alliance
decided to get into out-of-area operations—meaning wars
irrelevant to both American and European security, such as Kosovo,
Afghanistan and Libya—and act as a geopolitical Welcome Wagon
for nations newly escaped from the Soviet Empire.

The Clinton administration rapidly pushed to the Russian border.
No one seriously considered what would be necessary to protect,
say, the Baltic States. In fact, expansion advocates appeared to
forget that NATO ultimately was based on Article 5, the promise to
defend member states.

Moving into the Balkans meant bringing in ever less important
states, such as Albania and Slovenia, with militaries of 8,000 and
7,250, respectively. Adding them to the transatlantic alliance was
charity, not security. So was the entry of postage stamp-sized
Montenegro, best known for the filming of the James Bond flick
Casino Royale. Podgorica had the reputation of being a bit of a
gangster state and boasted a military of just 2,000. In contrast,
New York City alone has 34,000 uniformed cops.

Indeed, Montenegro brought to mind the mythical Duchy of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Yes, Washington, the First Amendment Even Protects Firearm Blueprints

August 1, 2018 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro, Matthew Larosiere

Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere

August 1 was set to be the day the government finally gave up
its three-year battle against Defense Distributed (DefDist) and the
First Amendment. That what would have been the case were it not for
a partisan group of state attorneys general and U.S. District Judge
Robert Lasnik.

Before we get to Judge Lasnik’s order and how wrong it is, some
background is in order.

In 2013, Defense Distributed published files to print their
“liberator” pistol—named after the pistol dropped by US bombers to resistants in
Nazi-occupied Europe—on its website, DefCad.org. DefCad served
as a repository of weapons related files of various types. The
website hosted everything from literal blueprints, to Computer
Aided Design (CAD) files, to StereoLitho (STL) and Wavefront (OBJ)
files useful in 3D printing.

Two years later, the State Department forced DefDist to remove
all weapons-related files from its website under a tortured
interpretation of an obscure cold war-era law concerning the export
of “defense articles.” DefDist sued, arguing that this
interpretation worked an unconstitutional prior restraint on
speech. After a long battle over a preliminary
injunction—which Cato supported with an amicus brief—the Department of Justice
decided to settle, paying DefDist’s legal fees and
waiving its prior restraint order. As part of the settlement, the
government would clarify that the United States Munitions List
(USML) did not prevent the distribution of digital blueprints, and
issue a letter to defendants advising that the files at issue are
approved for distribution. This was to take effect August 1.

On July 30, nine state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the State Department seeking to
block the settlement. The scattershot suit raised all manner of
issues, including persistently conflating downloading files with
the actual production of illegal “undetectable”
firearms. It alleged that the government—in settling with
DefDist after having clearly violated their First
Amendment—failed to follow protocol in their
“modification” of the USML.

The attorneys general filed an emergency motion for a temporary
restraining order (TRO)—an extreme legal mechanism reserved
for cases showing a likelihood of irreparable harm—barring
the government from moving forward with the settlement. Even though
the files at issue have been easily available on the internet for
years, Judge Lasnik still found that the plaintiffs proved that
“irreparable harm” would follow in the absence of the
TRO.

In support of this ruling, Judge Lasnik wrote that “[a]
side effect of the USML has been to make it more difficult to
locate and download instructions for the manufacture of plastic
firearms. If an injunction is not issued…the proliferation of these
firearms will have many of the negative impacts on a state …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

ExxonMobil's Support for a Carbon Tax Is a Total Sham

August 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Elliott Negin, Independent Media Institute

More lip service as the oil giant snubs a new carbon tax bill.


ExxonMobil executives just had another opportunity to convince skeptics that their support for a carbon tax is genuine.

They blew it.

On July 23, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) introduced a bill that would place a $24 per ton tax on carbon emissions and dedicate 70 percent of the revenue to rebuilding U.S. infrastructure.

ExxonMobil’s reaction? “We appreciate Rep. Curbelo’s effort to help generate a constructive discussion on this important issue” was all a company spokesman was willing to say.

ExxonMobil’s reluctance to seriously engage, however, should not come as a surprise.

Yes, the company has consistently paid lip service to a carbon tax since 2009. And yes, it is a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council—which supports a $40 per ton carbon tax—and it recently endorsed Americans for Carbon Dividends, a new bipartisan lobby group promoting a carbon tax that would return revenues to taxpayers.

But more telling is the fact that the oil giant has never publicly supported a carbon tax bill and consistently funds members of Congress who oppose a carbon tax.

How does that square with the company’s avowed position?

It doesn’t.

Just say no

Curbelo’s bill is hardly the first carbon tax legislation that ExxonMobil has snubbed. When Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33) asked ExxonMobil lobbyists to support a carbon tax bill in 2015, they refused. And when Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the “American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act” in 2016, the company would not endorse their bill or lobby on its behalf.

“Regarding ExxonMobil’s alleged seven years of support for a carbon fee, we’ve seen no meaningful evidence of that,” the senators wrote in a letter they sent to the company in August 2016. “None of the top executives that make up ExxonMobil’s management team has expressed interest in meeting with any of us to discuss the Whitehouse-Schatz proposal or any carbon fee legislation.”

Besides ExxonMobil’s unwillingness to support actual legislation, it rewards members of Congress who oppose a carbon tax by consistently funding their reelection campaigns.

The most recent example of ExxonMobil’s upside-down funding priorities was a nonbinding carbon tax resolution in the House, …read more

Source: ALTERNET