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'But I don't care': This Republican senator just openly admitted that he thinks Trump should be above the law

December 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

They don't care at all about whether he's guilty.

Evidence of President Donald Trump's wrongdoing is piling up, but Republicans — who still wield significant power in Washington, D.C., despite their dismal showing in the midterm elections — are content to keep their heads buried in the sand.

While nearly all Republicans are guilty of this to some extent, few have been as explicit about it as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was on Monday. Speaking with CNN's Manu Raju, Hatch made clear he believes Trump should be above the law.

Raju recounted the exchange on Twitter:

With these claims, Hatch is essentially elevating the Trump beyond legal constraints.

Some Trump officials have argued, for example, that he doesn't have to answer any questions about conduct in the White House because of executive privilege. Now, going beyond even that claim, Hatch said we shouldn't be “trying to drum up things from the past that may or may not be true.”

But examining what happened in the past and whether criminal allegations are true is exactly what …read more


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Activist Carry Nation Used a Hatchet to Smash Booze Bottles Before Prohibition

December 10, 2018 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Nation had a bad history with alcohol—and she went to extremes to try and get it banned.

Carry Nation, here with her bible and hatchet, was a member of the temperance movement.

When Carry Nation stepped foot into the Kiowa, Kansas bar, nobody saw what was coming. The formidable woman, dressed in black, was on a mission from God. But as soon as she entered the saloon, all hell broke loose.

“I ran behind the bar, smashed the mirror and all the bottles under it; picked up the cash register, threw it down; then broke the faucets of the refrigerator, opened the door and cut the rubber tubes that conducted the beer,” she, she extended her audience with written sermons and other anti-alcohol content, like poetry and her own autobiography. She used the proceeds to fund her crusade.

Prohibitionist Carry Nation.

Her work was watched—and ridiculed.

Her campaign wasn’t without its detractors. She was arrested more than 30 times. Though she wasn’t the first person to smash up a saloon in the name of temperance, the movement tried to distance itself from her. And her personal life was taken as fair game by those who mocked her mission. In 1901, she was parodied in Kansas Saloon Smashers, a short film that shows a group of black-clad women like Nation destroying a saloon. In 1901, after her husband divorced her, Why Mr. Nation Wants a Divorce portrayed Nation as a woman who had forgotten her proper gender role and abandoned her husband and humiliated her husband.

Carry Nation ignored her detractors, though, and kept pursuing the temperance cause. As the years passed, she became more and more famous. Bars began to hang signs that read “All nations welcome—Except Carrie.” Late in her life, Nation took her message to vaudeville theaters. In at least one case, she stormed the stage to smash a glass, supposedly containing liquor, that was held in an actress’s hand. She also starred in a 1903 vaudeville “playlet” that delighted audiences. “Mrs. Nation provided her own dialogue, wrecked the bar scene at every performance, passed through the audience selling miniature hatchets, and also talked back to the hecklers in the crowd,” writes vaudeville historian Anthony Slide.

Nation nearly died doing what she loved—lecturing against the evils of drink. In 1911, she collapsed during a speech. She died …read more


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Trump fears the White House staff is miserable and disloyal as he struggles to replace John Kelly: report

December 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Trump's top candidate to be next chief of staff turned him down.

As he searches for a replacement for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, President Donald Trump is worried about the state of mind of West Wing staffers and whether he can really trust them, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

“Mr. Trump has told associates he is unhappy with aspects of how the West Wing is running, complaining that staff morale is low, some aides are disloyal and his press coverage is negative,” reporters Rebecca Ballhaus and Peter Nicholas wrote.

This helps explain why Trump may be looking for a new chief of staff. Rumors have persisted for nearly a year that Kelly was on his way out, but the former general remained — until Trump announced over the weekend that the chief of staff will be leaving by the end of the year. Low morale and being unable to trust the staff is a key sign of management failure on Kelly's part.

But the discordant nature of the White House may also explain why Trump is struggling to fill Kelly's role. Nick Ayers, the chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, was believed to be the frontrunner to replace Kelly, but he announced over the weekend that he will instead be leaving the administration himself. Who would want to join an operation in so much turmoil?

Other high-level contenders have also reportedly withdrawn from consideration. According to the Journal and other outlets, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney have both decided to stay happy where they are rather than take on the role.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the leader of fractious and extremist Freedom Caucus, has been one of the few people to openly express a desire for the job — but it's hard to imagine he would solve any of the White House's problems.

Of course, with investigations looming over the White House and Trump's perpetual impulsiveness and boorishness dragging down his presidency, it's not clear even a supremely talented chief of staff could right the …read more


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The Wildly Different Childhoods of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots

December 10, 2018 in History

By Hadley Meares

Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Queen . “It was never disputed or tested, as was Elizabeth’s. This awareness of her pre-eminence was her companion through life, something taken for granted, the responsibilities to which she did not apply much profound thought nor, in the end, much value.’’

The baby queen spent her first five years being moved from one palace to another in Scotland to keep her safe from the warring clans of the highlands. In 1548, when Mary was sent to her mother’s homeland of France to become the fiancée of the Dauphin, she was already a figure of romance and sympathy. For the next 13 years, the little Dauphiness- Queen would be worshipped by both the French royal family and her mother’s powerful family.

“The little Queen of Scots is the most perfect child that I have ever seen,” King Henry II of France proclaimed soon after meeting his new charge (Mary of Guise had stayed in Scotland to rule her daughter’s domain). His son, the sickly, despondent Francis, also adored his future wife and hung onto her every word.

Since Mary was already an anointed Queen, she walked before any of the French princesses, even the King’s own daughters. “It is impossible,” Mary’s doting grandmother wrote, “for her to be more honoured than she is.”

“While her cousin Elizabeth’s youth was largely spent outside court life with her books and plans, and the occasional visitor to engage her thoughts,” writes Dunn, “Mary’s life from the age of six was lived at the very center of the most glamorous court in Christendom.”

Mary spent her childhood surrounded by cousins, slavish servants, tutors and pets. Her bills show that she had a lavish wardrobe the young Elizabeth could only have dreamed of, as well as dancing, horseback riding and singing lessons.

“In marked contrast to her cousin Elizabeth Tudor, Mary Stuart enjoyed an exceptionally cosseted youth,” Antonia Fraser writes in her biography Mary, Queen of Scots. “It is left to the judgement of history to decide whether it did, in fact, adequately prepare her for the extreme stresses with which the course of her later life confronted her.”

Elizabeth I (TV-PG; 3:05)

Elizabeth’s teenage years were plagued by scandal

While the pretty, well-spoken Mary flourished, secure in her majesty, the stresses of royal life were almost crushing her cousin Elizabeth. After her father’s death in …read more


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These are 6 of the most outrageous, hysterical right-wing attacks on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — so far

December 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Donald Trump Jr. claimed that Ocasio-Cortez’ policies would lead to Americans eating dogs.

Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is still half a month away from taking over Rep. Joe Crowley’s (D-NY) seat in the House of Representatives, but the far right is obsessed with her every move—and anyone who watches Fox News or reads right-wing websites on a regular basis can see how hysterical and over-the-top much of the criticism has been. 

Like her mentor, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez describes herself as a “democratic socialist” but is essentially a New Deal/Great Society liberal; her political heritage is President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President Lyndon B. Johnson and the modern governments of countries like Sweden and Denmark—not Che Guevara or Fidel Castro. But the far right is terrified of her, and as 2019 draws closer, the attacks on Ocasio-Cortez are becoming increasingly hysterical. 

Here are six of the most outrageous far-right attacks on Ocasio-Cortez.

1. Donald Trump Jr. claims that Ocasio-Cortez’ policies would lead to Americans eating dogs

On Instagram, Donald Trump, Jr. posted a photo of Ocasio-Cortez alongside  the question, “Why are you so afraid of a socialist economy?” Trump Jr.’s answer: “because Americans want to walk their dogs, not eat them.” The president’s son was implying that the liberal/progressive policies Ocasio-Cortez favors would lead to the type of economic crisis that is plaguing Venezuela, which has been suffering from severe food shortages. But the Venezuela analogy is ridiculous fear-mongering on Trump Jr.’s part. The types of policies that Ocasio-Cortez proposes are considered no-brainers in European countries like Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden—all of which have some of the highest standards of living in the developed world.

2. Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavendra argues that Ocasio-Cortez ‘wants to destroy capitalism’

True Marxist-Leninists detest FDR because they believe that he saved capitalism in the United States. FDR and his modern-day admirers—from Sen. Elizabeth Warren to economist Robert Reich—have often stressed that while capitalism is a good system, it can degenerate into chaos and anarchy when it isn’t properly regulated. Managing capitalism and trying to destroy it are two very different things, …read more


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Republican who bragged about derailing Clinton with Benghazi investigations issues absurd warning to Dems on Trump

December 10, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

“I think there's other problems out there that we really should be focused upon,” McCarthy insisted.

It was Fall, 2015. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was all set to become Speaker of the House after John Boehner announced his retirement.

But his own gaffe (and challenges with the English language) got in the way, ultimately derailing his candidacy.

On September 29, 2015, Rep. McCarthy, the number two man in the House Republican caucus, bragged live on-air that the Republicans' Benghazi investigation was a political, partisan attack designed to derail Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy told to Fox News' Sean Hannity. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”

Exactly one month later, October 29, 2015, Congressman Paul Ryan was sworn in as Speaker of the House.

Fast forward to the summer of 2016.

“There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy infamously said in recorded audio, referring to GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and then-candidate Donald Trump. Rohrabacher, a far right wing extremist, lost his House seat last month. Trump went on to become president.

And now, fast forward to today.

Rep. McCarthy, who will move from being the House Majority Leader to House Minority Leader in January, on Monday insisted that America has had enough of the Mueller investigation. He thinks illegal campaign donations, conspiring with a corrupt foreign power that attacked American democracy, and obstructing justice are just “too small” for America's citizens to be concerned about.

“I think America is too great of a nation to have such a small agenda,” McCarthy warned House Democrats on Fox News Monday morning.

“I think there's other problems out there that we really should be focused upon,” McCarthy insisted.

“Less [sic] see where we can work together,” he continued. “Less [sic] move America forward.”

“We've investigated this for a long period of time. Both sides have come up with nothing in the process, ” he lied. “I think …read more


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Cory Booker's 'Baby Bonds' Wouldn't Support a Savings Culture — It's Just More Government Subsidies

December 10, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

To the extent bipartisan policy reform is possible, ideas must
appeal to the instincts of both conservatives and liberal

In that tradition, Sen. Cory Booker’s proposal for ‘baby bonds’ may be
a stroke of political genius. Founding special accounts for newborn
children with a taxpayer-funded deposit, and means-tested
government additions through childhood, has obvious appeal to
liberals. It redistributes money and reduces measured wealth

But Booker is no doubt hoping it can pique conservative interest
too. The so-called American Opportunity Accounts, on the face of
it, introduce children to the concept of saving and support
families, while providing young people with a nest egg to become
more self-sufficient in achieving major life goals.

Booker’s idea is this: When an eligible child is born, an
account would be opened with a $1,000 deposit from the taxpayer.
Each year until the child turns 18, the government would deposit a
means-tested sum rising to a maximum $2,000 contribution. The funds
in these accounts would generate returns free of tax but could not
be withdrawn until the child turns 18. After that point, the money
could be accessed but only be used for specified investments, such
as down payments on a house, college tuition, professional
training, or retirement savings. The eventual sums could be
significant, with a maximum of nearly $50,000 for someone in
receipt of the highest annual contribution and returns of 3 percent
per year.

There’s a crucial difference though between this proposal and
child trust funds that have been previously tried in countries such
as the United Kingdom. Under Booker’s plan, families would be
prohibited from adding to government contributions with their own
private funds. In the U.K., the government merely opened the
accounts and administered two small payments at birth and at age 7.
But the bigger idea was that parents and grandparents would scurry
up to $1,000 more away each year, on top of the government
deposits, valuing the tax advantages and the self-discipline of
being unable to draw down the funds.

Booker’s proposal is entirely different. Being solely a public
scheme, it amounts to pure redistribution — transfers from
taxpayers to those on low incomes. As such, it has little to offer
conservatives. The argument it will encourage saving or show
children the power of investment is bogus. Saving is about
deferring consumption — sacrificing today to fulfill other
goals tomorrow. But this is pure taxpayer support: taxing or
borrowing to take from Peter to pay Paul, with no sacrifice on the
part of those enjoying the rewards.

It’s actually worse than that. Precisely because it
amounts to pure redistribution, Booker would naturally impose
conditions on what the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Going Ballistic: What the Democrats' 'Subpoena Cannon' Means for Trump

December 10, 2018 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

With Democrats seizing the House and Republicans keeping the
Senate, bills beyond the proverbial post-office-naming will be
hard-pressed to make it out of both chambers in the next Congress.
The threat President Trump faces from Democrats, then, isn’t
legislative obstruction, but the ready-aim-fire of the
opposition’s “subpoena cannon.”

That’s the term one senior Democratic source used last
month in describing to Axios the opposition’s main anti-Trump
weapon. Not all of the investigatory weapon’s payload will be
fired at once, but the appetite for “resistance” is
strong and will tie up significant White House and agency
resources. (Full disclosure: My wife is a lawyer in the House
general counsel’s office, but hasn’t participated in
any discussions regarding the Democrats’ plans.)

In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with spending time
on congressional oversight. Indeed it’s a salutary check,
flowing from the “legislative powers” that Article I
grants Congress. The Framers assumed Congress would follow the lead
of the British House of Commons in questioning executive action.
James Wilson, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and
future Supreme Court justice, had written that members of
parliament were considered “grand inquisitors of the realm.
The proudest ministers of the proudest monarchs have trembled at
their censures.” Accordingly, George Mason argued at the
Convention that members of Congress “must meet frequently to
inspect the Conduct of the public offices.”

When the first Congress convened in 1789, the House established
a select committee to investigate the country’s accounts
during the American Revolution, to clear Robert Morris, the
superintendent of finances. In 1792, the House authorized a special
committee to investigate the military defeat of General Arthur St.
Clair. President George Washington ultimately agreed on rules of
disclosure that formed the early basis of what we now know as
“executive privilege.”

And so it went, with the Supreme Court eventually determining
that it was constitutionally kosher for Congress to seek
information when crafting or reviewing laws and overseeing federal
programs — but that Congress must confine itself to
“legislative purposes” and avoid purely private

Congressional authority here ultimately boils down to the
subpoena power: compelling the production of documents or
appearance of witnesses, on pain of contempt and referral to
federal prosecutors. In practice, few subpoenas actually issue
— and even fewer are enforced through legal process —
because committee staff and the target’s lawyers negotiate
some sort of resolution that narrows the scope of information or
questioning sought. For example, former FBI director James Comey
just this week withdrew his motion to quash a House deposition
subpoena because he “reached an acceptable
accommodation” for voluntary testimony, with a public
transcript to be made available within 24 hours.

Which brings us to the “cannon.” Axios counted
“at …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Don't Let Ukraine Drag America into War

December 10, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

kraine’s behavior in the Kerch Strait is another example of a
U.S. ally (or security dependent) trying to gain American military
backing for its own parochial agenda. Georgia sought to do that in
2008 regarding its territorial dispute with Russia over two
secessionist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A European
Union-sponsored report subsequently concluded that Georgia started the fighting that broke out in
August of that year. And there is little doubt that Georgian
President Mikheil Saakashvili expected to get much stronger support from the United States and NATO
than he ultimately received.

There are other examples of such self-serving behavior. Saudi
Arabia routinely attempts to entangle the United States in Riyadh’s regional power struggle with Tehran.
shameful support
for the Saudi-led military intervention in
Yemen suggests that the effort has not been in vain.

Americans must not let
the Ukrainian tail wag the American dog, or the result could be
tragic for all concerned.

U.S. leaders need to be far more alert to such maneuvers and
take steps to make certain that the American republic does not
become entangled in conflicts that have little or no connection to
important American interests. Too often, members of this
country’s political, policy, and media elites act as though
the interests and ambitions of an ally or “friend” are
congruent with the best interests of the American people. That
notion is not only erroneous but dangerous.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s conduct before, during,
and after the November Kerch Strait incident, should trouble all
thoughtful Americans. Three Ukrainian naval vessels sought to
transit the strait—a narrow waterway between Russia’s Taman
Peninsula and Crimea—that connects the Black Sea and the Sea
of Azov. Kiev considers the strait international waters and points
to a 2003 bilateral navigation treaty with Russia to vindicate its
position. However, after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine and
annexed that territory in 2014, Moscow now treats the strait as
Russian territorial waters. It insists on forty-eight hours notice
and explicit Russian approval before Ukrainian ships can use the

Ukraine had complied with that requirement a few months earlier,
but in late November declined to do so and attempted to carry out
an unapproved crossing. Russian security forces rammed a Ukrainian
tug, fired on the two other ships (wounding several sailors) and
then seized all three vessels.

The motive for Kiev’s challenge was murky and the timing extremely suspicious. Poroshenko
faces a tough reelection campaign in Ukraine’s presidential
election at the end of March. Polls showed him languishing in a
crowded field, lagging far behind the leading candidate, former
Prime Minister …read more

Source: OP-EDS