You are browsing the archive for 2018 August 02.

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What Happens in the November Elections Could Mean the Difference Between Outlawing Abortion in Some States and Outlawing It Nationwide

August 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Abortion rights defenders often describe the end of Roe v. Wade as a worst-case scenario, but it’s actually a next-to-worst-case scenario.

If Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, is confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate—and most likely, he will be—it probably won’t be long before the High Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 right-to-privacy decision that, in effect, made abortion legal in all 50 states. The end of Roe would not automatically mean a nationwide ban on abortion; rather, the legality or illegality of abortion would be determined on a state-by-state basis. But here’s where it gets even worse: post-Roe, Republicans in Congress would be free to pass a bill calling for abortion to be banned throughout the U.S.—and Trump would no doubt sign it into law. It remains to be seen what will happen in the November midterms, but the way things are shaping up, the events of November 6, 2018 could very well mean the difference between abortion becoming illegal in certain states and abortion becoming illegal throughout the entire country—which is the Christian Right’s ultimate goal.

Democrats are hoping to regain both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, and they only need to control one of the two to prevent a nationwide abortion ban. In a post-Roe v. Wade scenario, Republicans would be free to introduce all the anti-abortion bills they wanted in the Senate or the House—but both houses of Congress would have to reach a mutual agreement in order for a bill outlawing abortion nationwide to make it to President Trump’s desk to sign. And if Democrats retake either the Senate or the House, they would have the votes to defeat such a bill. A Democratic majority in either the House or the Senate won’t prevent the U.S. Supreme Court from overturning Roe v. Wade if Kavanaugh is confirmed, but it could at least prevent abortion from being outlawed in all 50 states.

Democrats have some heavy lifting to do if they …read more


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'What an Ass': New Emails Reveal Federal Employees Fumed About Trump After He Seemed to Violate Disclosure Rule

August 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The emails were obtained through a FOIA request.

President Donald Trump's decision to promote the unreleased job numbers at the beginning of June — an apparent violation of a long-standing rule prohibiting officials from commenting on the data — stirred fury and anxiety within the Bureau of Labor Statistics, new emails obtained by Quartz show.

The kerfuffle occurred when Trump tweeted ahead of the BLS's June release: “Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.” While the president and a few other officials are given the data ahead of the official release, they are prohibited from discussing the numbers publicly within an hour of publication to avoid politicizing the non-partisan work of the Labor Department.

“What an ass,” one employee wrote in response to an article about the president's tweet, according to Quartz.

“I’m guessing there won’t be any repercussions for him,” another reportedly said in an email. “Consequences are for the little people, not bigshots with little hands.” 

One employee, trying to look on the bright side, reportedly wrote that it was at least better that Trump isn't calling the numbers fake, as he did during the campaign.

Quartz also notes that while an internal investigation into the incident has been launched, an official said that Trump himself is not — and could not be — the subject of the investigation.

The outlet obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request because the documents are part of the public record. It chose not to reveal the names of the lower-level employees involved “because the BLS senders have little power over agency operations or government at large.”

The report notes that the employees could nevertheless face retaliation from the upper levels of the Trump administration for criticizing the president.

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Republican Efforts to Ram Trump's Supreme Court Pick Through the Senate Look Like a Blatant Attempt to Cover Up His Past

August 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos

They don't want the records out in the open before a vote.

Republican Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley is promising to push ahead with a September hearing for Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite being notified Thursday that the National Archives can't possibly meet Grassley’s document request until late October

Sen. Grassley had requested the Archive’s review of Kavanaugh's documents from his time in the Bush White House be completed by August 15, but a letter sent by its general counsel said they expect to produce the estimated 900,000 pages of relevant material “by the end of October.” 

Following the news, a GOP Judiciary Committee aide was quick to put out a statement promising the panel would proceed apace with the original confirmation timeline.

“As Chairman Grassley said this morning, he intends to hold a hearing sometime in September,” said the aide.

The GOP statement said the committee was counting on receiving documents “in an even more rapid fashion” from the archives of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. “The Bush Library will produce to us over 125,000 pages today,” said the aide. But when Grassley sent the request to the Bush archives, he explicitly left out the three years in which Kavanaugh served as staff secretary to Bush, writes the New York Times.

Grassley last week asked Bush's presidential library for the paperwork without the documents from Kavanaugh's staff secretary years. He said he could not reach an agreement with Feinstein over the scope of the documents request.

Republicans are clearly hanging their hat on the bulk of the papers reviewed for Kavanaugh's nomination rather than whether all the relevant documents are made available.

“In the end, the committee will have reviewed significantly more records than ever before for a Supreme Court nominee,” touted the Judiciary aide.

That may end up being true, but Republicans are clearly keen on avoiding certain parts of Kavanaugh's record. The nearly 1 million-page paper trail related to Kavanaugh's time at the White House greatly exceeds that of both Justice Elena Kagan (170,000) and Chief Justice John Roberts (70,000), according to the archives.

But included in those 1 million …read more


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'Ivanka Is No Different': Conservative Writer Slams the President's Daughter for Her Faux Concern About Children

August 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“…she is living in la-la land.”

President Donald Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump was once viewed as a moderating influence over him — but after about a year and a half in office, there's no sign that her more liberal instincts are rubbing off on him.

And during an interview at the Newseum Thursday morning, she confirmed what many suspected: She has no interest in taking any concrete steps to make a real difference at the White House.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative writer for the Washington Post, argued in an op-ed that no one should no longer have any illusions about Ivanka Trump's failure to uphold a standard of moral decency in the White House.

One of the more notable parts of Ivanka Trump's interview on Thursday addressed the immigrant family separation policy the administration recently put in place, triggering a massive outcry. But while she said the policy was a “low point for me,” Ivanka Trump failed to take any responsibility for it, saying the issue is “incredibly complicated.”

Rubin writes of Ivanka Trump's defense of the policy:

For starters, this is not complicated at all — if one wants to enter the fact-based world. We do not have a border crisis; the zero-tolerance policy was designed to punish migrants and to excite Trump’s base. Not complicated at all. But she is very, very opposed to it, yet not opposed enough to leave the administration, even as hundreds of children remain separated, and not opposed enough to depart from an administration in which officials were directly warned of the potential for significant, lasting psychological harm to the children — and those same officials remain in their jobs.

Rubin also argues that it doesn't appear the president's daughter is actually getting anything substantial by staying at the White House — the paid family leave policy she touted during the campaign isn't going to happen, as she even admitted Thursday morning.

“If she’s holding out for a bill that Republicans and Democrats could pass and her father would sign, she is living in la-la land,” Rubin writes.

“Ivanka is no different from any other enthusiastic member …read more


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'He Spoke Gibberish': Omarosa Says Trump's 'Mental Decline' Was So Obvious It 'Could Not Be Denied'

August 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Chris Sosa, AlterNet

The former reality star and White House is promoting a new tell-all book.

Explosive allegations from former White House official Omarosa Manigault-Newman are beginning to emerge in the press ahead of her upcoming tell-all book release.

“Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House” will go on sale August 14, but the DailyMail has received excerpts from the book.

One section makes the claim that President Donald Trump is experiencing noticable cognitive decline. 

“While watching the [Lester Holt] interview I realized that something real and serious was going on in Donald's brain. His mental decline could not be denied,” Omarosa writes. “Many didn't notice it as keenly as I did because I knew him way back when. They thought Trump was being Trump, off the cuff [...] But I knew something wasn't right.”

“Donald rambled. He spoke gibberish. He contradicted himself from one sentence to the next,” she elaborated.

According to the book's publisher, Omarosa has known Trump for 15 years but completely severed ties with him following her alleged firing from the White House.

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An Arab NATO Would Be Two NATOs Too Many

August 2, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Fresh off a summit where he was deeply critical of NATO,
President Donald Trump has now made known that he would like there
to be two NATOs. A spokesman for the National Security Council
declared that the Middle East Strategic Alliance “will serve
as a bulwark against Iranian aggression, terrorism, extremism, and
will bring stability to the Middle East.”

The president reportedly hopes to host the October meeting of
the Gulf Cooperation Council in Washington, at which he will unveil
his proposal—to nations that have turned dependence on the
U.S. military into an art form, a point Trump made before he was

The administration hopes to bring together the six Gulf states
along with Egypt and Jordan. The idea of a Middle Eastern NATO is
not new, but its history gives little cause for optimism. In 1955,
the U.S. developed the Baghdad Pact, or Middle East Treaty
Organization (METO), which was later renamed the Central Treaty
Organization (CENTO) after Iraq—where a coup had just
overthrown the monarchy—withdrew. Achieving little of note,
CENTO formally staggered along until 1979, when Iran’s new
revolutionary Islamic government withdrew.

The most important
argument against a Mideast NATO is that it would harm U.S.

That may explain the attempt to revive the idea with reference
to NATO instead of METO/CENTO, but this subterfuge ignores the fact
that the Mideast in 2018 is nothing like Europe in 1949. Washington
viewed preventing hostile domination of the latter as a vital
interest, significant enough to justify U.S. entry into World War
II. The Western European nations, ravaged by the worst conflict in
human history, faced a militarily empowered totalitarian state
whose victorious armed forces occupied much of the Balkans and
Central and Eastern Europe. Absent creation of an American defense
shield for the continent’s unconquered west, the Soviet Union
seemed destined to dominate Eurasia.

The Persian Gulf was never vital, or even as important as past
presidents assumed. And today the region matters even less. The
U.S. has emerged as the world’s biggest energy producer, and
along with other sources has broken the Gulf’s oil
stranglehold. Washington’s ally Israel is a nuclear-armed
regional superpower, capable of defending itself from all comers.
No great hegemonic power threatens the Mideast, let alone

This point deserves emphasis. Although Iran is treated as the
fount of all evil, it is a military midget incapable of reaching
the United States. Nor does Tehran field forces sufficient to
conquer its neighbors. The country is in a shambles rather like the
Soviet Union, although unlike the USSR it lacks the nuclear and
conventional capabilities that forced the world to listen when
Moscow talked.

The Islamic Republic is …read more

Source: OP-EDS