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Mitch McConnell's legacy is a conservative Supreme Court shaped by his calculated audacity

October 4, 2020 in Blogs

By The Conversation

Unless Democrats win both the White House and the Senate in November, abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is about to finish his project of remaking the federal judiciary from top to bottom.

The impact of that achievement will outlive the 78-year-old Kentuckian, making it the biggest piece of his large legacy in Senate history.

This feat could hardly have been predicted when Senate Republicans elected McConnell their leader in 2006. For most of the 40-plus years I have watched McConnell, first as a reporter covering Kentucky politics and now as a journalism professor focused on rural issues, he seemed to have no great ambition or goals, other than gaining power and keeping it.

He always cared about the courts, though. In 1987, after Democrats defeated Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, McConnell warned that if a Democratic president “sends up somebody we don’t like” to a Republican-controlled Senate, the GOP would follow suit. He fulfilled that threat in 2016, refusing to confirm Merrick Garland, Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court.

Keeping that vacancy open helped elect Donald Trump. Two people could hardly be more different, but the taciturn McConnell and the voluble Trump have at least one thing in common: They want power.

Trump exercises his power with what often seems like reckless audacity, but McConnell’s 36-year Senate tenure is built on his calculated audacity.

McConnell’s political rise

It was audacious, back in 1977, to think that a wonky lawyer who had been disqualified from his only previous campaign for public office could defeat a popular two-term county executive in Louisville.

McConnell ran anyway.

It was audacious to think that a Republican could get the local labor council to endorse him in that race, but he got it, by leading the members to believe he would help them get collective bargaining for public employees.

McConnell won the race. He didn’t pursue collective bargaining.

Seven years later, it was audacious to think that an urbanite who wore loafers to dusty, gravelly county fairs and lacked a compelling personality could unseat a popular two-term Kentucky senator, especially when he trailed by 40 points in August, but McConnell won.

As soon as he won a second term in 1990, McConnell started climbing the Senate leadership ladder, facilitated in large measure by his willingness to be the point man on campaign finance issues, an area his colleagues feared. They reacted emotionally …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Tens of millions in PPP loans went to corporate polluters after  companies were fined $52 million: analysis

October 4, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

I remember as a kid watching President Nixon’s resignation speech on a black-and-white television. That was a simpler and more innocent time. After burglars were caught red-handed breaking into the DNC headquarters at the Watergate Office Complex, Nixon resigned rather than face almost certain removal by the Senate for covering up the crime. A blatant attempt to cheat in the presidential election, the Watergate scandal shocked the nation, but Watergate today looks positively quaint when compared to the graft and corruption of Trumpgate.

What makes Trumpgate far worse than Watergate is the act of encouraging foreign interference in our sacred democratic elections. First Donald Trump did it with Russia, and when he skated on that, he tried to extort Ukraine. He then even tried to recruit Communist China‘s help. Americans should be outraged by this treachery.

No less alarming is Donald Trump’s fawning fondness for murderous thugs and dictators and his voracious lust for power. Every patriot should be horrified by Trump’s unpatriotic attacks on democracy itself; on our elections, on the U.S. Constitution, on the separation of powers, on freedom of the press, and on bedrock values and principles we hold dear as Americans: honesty, integrity, equality, justice and respect for the rule of law. Our nation is being pushed to the breaking point by an endless cascade of calculated assaults on the truth designed to distract, divide and conquer – attacks on reality that threaten not only the freedoms our Founders risked their lives for, but the freedoms countless veterans fought and died for. America only exists today because we defied a king to form a government of, by, and for the people. Freedom is exercising our right to kneel in support of racial justice, not kneeling before a King Donald.

Those who enabled Trumpgate – Donald’s inner circle and his spineless sycophants in Congress – will go down in history as those who knowingly chose a would-be tyrant over duty to country.

Slicker than a snake oil salesman, Donald Trump got elected by promising to drain the swamp, only to fill his cabinet with more millionaires and billionaires than any president in history. Because Trump treats everything like a transaction, the swamp is …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Reactions: Experts alarmed by Trump treatment plan normally used only for the severely ill

October 4, 2020 in Blogs

By Hunter

A second briefing on Donald Trump’s medical condition after he was flown to Walter Reed for treatment of COVID-19 was held Sunday morning, and was not much more revealing than the first.

We did get some new information. First, that Trump has had at least two episodes of hypoxia, or low blood oxygen, which required oxygen administration. And White House doctor Sean Conley stated that Trump was now taking not just remdesivir and a Regeneron-developed monoclonal antibody “cocktail,” but dexamethasone, a steroid recommended only for the most serious COVID-19 cases. That and other elements of Conley’s description of Trump’s condition were alarming, to expert observers, because they suggest Trump’s current status is considerably more serious than either Conley or the White House has claimed.

It’s possible that Trump’s doctors are, perhaps irresponsibly, unnecessarily dosing Trump with potentially dangerous drugs on his own demand, in hopes that something in the mix will allow him to recover faster than most patients with his symptoms. But it hardly seems likely.

Some reactions and threads, from experts and others:

What’s it all mean? We don’t know, but it’s not good. Trump’s doctors seem to be hiding the true severity of Trump’s condition—or, far less likely, are overmedicating him for unknown reasons. Because this White House has relentlessly lied about even the smallest trivialities, over the last four years, we can’t take anything said now at face value. Most or all of it is false. The treatment plan as announced, however, doesn’t mesh with the rosy claims being made about Trump’s current condition.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s top aides want him investigated for bribery and other alleged crimes: report

October 4, 2020 in Blogs

By The Texas Tribune

By Emma Platoff, The Texas Tribune

Oct. 3, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott says accusations against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton “raise serious concerns” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Senior officials in the Texas Attorney General’s Office have asked federal law enforcement to “investigate allegations of improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential crimes” by their boss, the Austin-American Statesman and KVUE-TV first reported Saturday.

The senior staff members, including Jeff Mateer, who resigned from his post as Paxton’s top aide this week after several years leading the agency, notified the agency’s human resources director that they sought the investigation.

“We have a good faith belief that the attorney general is violating federal and/or state law including prohibitions related to improper influence, abuse of office, bribery and other potential criminal offenses,” seven agency leaders wrote in a one-page letter obtained by the Statesman.

The brief letter, dated Oct. 1, says the officials notified law enforcement of a potential crime on Sept. 30, but does not provide detailed accusations. The officials also say they notified Paxton himself of the accusation via text message on Oct. 1.

Paxton, a second-term state official and former state legislator who serves as co-chair of the Lawyers for Trump coalition, has been under indictment for more than five years on felony charges of securities fraud. Paxton has yet to go to trial on the charges amid side battles over where the case will be heard and how much the special prosecutors appointed to take the case to trial will be paid.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said in a statement that “the complaint filed against Attorney General Paxton was done to impede an ongoing investigation into criminal wrongdoing by public officials including employees of this office. Making false claims is a very serious matter and we plan to investigate this to the fullest extent of the law.”

She declined to comment further, citing an open investigation.

“These allegations raise serious concerns,” Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday in a prepared statement. “I will withhold further comment until the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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White House staff furious with Mark Meadows for revealing Trump’s health issues

October 4, 2020 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni

According to a report from the Washington Post, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is taking fire from Oval Office insiders for running to the press and delivering the honest truth about Donald Trump’s health crisis which — in turn — has caused confusion and chaos for the president’s re-election campaign.

On Saturday, moments after Trump’s doctor gave a rosy update about Trump’s condition after becoming infected with COVID-19, Meadows held an off the record conversation with reporters where he told them the president had been through a rough 24 hours and the next 48 hours would be “critical.”

This not only infuriated the president but angered officials back at the White House who are doing damage control due to multiple attendees at a Rose Garden event having also tested positive for COVID-19.

As the Post reports, “Trump was angry with Meadows about his Saturday afternoon comments indicating the president was quite sick and has asked aides to reassure the public by offering rosy depictions of his condition, a senior administration official said. Meadows has been the only White House aide with Trump, giving him almost total control of the message.”

Following reports of Meadows’ comments, the Post reports multiple White House staffers expressed frustration with the chief of staff who should be putting out fires and not starting them.

“It was of zero help to us,” said one Trump aide who wished to remain anonymous, with another adding, “We have not communicated with the public well on this.”

The report goes on to note, “Three different officials said Meadows had not taken the virus seriously enough, not forcing staffers to wear masks and sometimes orchestrating large meetings around the president where officials did not use face coverings.”

Adding to their problems is the fact that White House staff is being kept in the dark about the president’s health and even how and when he contracted the deadly virus that has claimed the lives of over 210,000 Americans.

“I can tell you what I am hearing, but I honestly have no idea if it’s right,” lamented one senior administration official. “A lot of people aren’t even telling other people in the building the truth.”

You can read more here.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET