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Senate Republicans are sending signals they think Trump is going down

October 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Igor Derysh

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., torpedoed a possible compromise deal on the stimulus between House Democrats and the White House on Thursday.

Millions of people have fallen into poverty since aid dried up months ago, and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has pleaded for Congress to provide more relief, because there is little risk of “overdoing” it. But McConnell on Wednesday said a deal worth between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion was about four times more than Republicans would agree to — even though it is a far cry from the $3.4 trillion bill passed by House Democrats in May.

“I don’t think so,” McConnell told reporters when asked if he would agree to a deal in that range. “That’s where the administration is willing to go. My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go.”

McConnell acknowledged that Trump had been eager to increase the price tag, but the bill being negotiated between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was “not what I’m going to put on the floor.”

McConnell previously announced that he would force a vote on a $500 billion bill next week after House Democrats approved a $2.2 trillion compromise last month.

The majority leader’s reluctance comes as studies show that roughly 8 million people have fallen into poverty after their stimulus payments ran out and enhanced federal unemployment benefits expired in July. One study found that 6 million people have fallen into poverty in just the last three months, with Black and Latinx people and children disproportionately impacted.

Powell warned Congress earlier this month that failing to pass another large stimulus package would “lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.”

“A long period of unnecessarily slow progress could continue to exacerbate existing disparities in our economy,” he said. “That would be tragic, especially in light of our country’s progress on these issues in the years leading up to the pandemic.”

Trump, who faces a steep climb in the polls with less than three weeks before the election, has signaled that he would also like to see a larger bill after failing to gain leverage by claiming to end all talks and urging …read more


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The Texas Senate race is suddenly getting very interesting

October 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

The race for U.S. Senate in Texas has gotten a lot hotter than incumbent GOP Sen. John Cornyn ever imagined at the outset of this cycle. Due to Cornyn and his Republican senate colleagues building Donald Trump into the monster that escaped from lab, Cornyn’s Democratic challenger MJ Hegar is breathing down his neck in her bid to unseat him.

In fact, a Public Policy Polling survey released Friday put Hegar just a few points down. “MJ Hegar trails John Cornyn just 49-46, making up for the Republican lean of the state thanks to a 55-34 advantage with independent voters,” writes PPP. The polling outfit also noted the race was surprisingly close given that Cornyn has a 15-point advantage in name recognition.

76% of voters have an opinion about him with 39% rating him favorably and 37% unfavorably. 61% of voters have an opinion about Hegar with 32% rating her favorably and 29% unfavorably.

In other words, if Hegar managed to up her name recognition in these closing weeks, she certainly stands a chance of closing that 3-point gap.

Senate Democrats’ top super PAC liked those odds. The day before PPP’s survey was released, Senate Majority PAC announced it was directing $8.6 million toward the race for both English and Spanish-language ads that begin airing Friday and run through Election Day. The first ad focuses on Cornyn’s numerous votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Three weeks out, and John Cornyn has a weaker standing than Ted Cruz ever did,” J.B. Poersch, President of Senate Majority PAC, said in a statement. Of course, Cruz only edged out Democrat Beto O’Rourke by about 2.5 points in 2018.

Hegar also raised almost double what Cornyn did in the third quarter, bringing in nearly $14 million to his $7.2 million. That haul basically erased the GOP senator’s cash advantage. From June through September, Cornyn spent more than twice as much as Hegar, $13.7 million to $6.4 million, according to the Dallas Morning News.

But between Hegar’s increased fundraising and some help from Senate Majority PAC, Hegar is poised to make a real run at Cornyn in these final weeks.

Since 2016, the state has added more than 1.5 million voters to its rolls. On the first day of early voting Tuesday, both <a target=_blank href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" …read more


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Melania Trump lashes out at the friend who turned against her

October 16, 2020 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

Melania Trump is attacking her former friend and senior advisor Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who wrote a book and secretly recorded some of their conversations after the Trumps threw her under the bus.

The first lady recently wrote on the White House website that Barron, the Trump’s youngest son, had tested positive for coronavirus, noting that she and Barron are both now negative.

But on Friday the first lady used the White House website for more nefarious purposes. She penned the attack on Wolkoff but attempted to hide it in a “Be Best” missive titled “Give Focus to Our Next Generation,” as The Daily Beast reports.

“Over the last couple of weeks,” the first lady begins, “I have had time to reflect on many things personal to me. One of the most honorable and important roles I have ever undertaken has been serving you, the American people, as the First Lady of this country.

“When I thought about where I wanted to put my time and efforts, there was no hesitation. BE BEST has one simple purpose—to help children. It serves to provide the tools children need to prepare them for their futures.”

But then came the slam, which was not subtle, and not very “Be Best” at all.

“We all know that more often than not, information that could be helpful to children is lost in the noise made by self-serving adults. I have most recently found this to be the case as major news outlets eagerly covered salacious claims made by a former contractor who advised my office,” she writes, refusing to say the name of her former friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, instead calling her a “contractor” even though Wolkoff worked unpaid while at the White House. Later she referred to her as an “opportunist,” not even acknowledging their once long snd strong friendship.

“A person who said she ‘made me’ even though she hardly knew me, and someone who clung to me after my husband won the Presidency,” Melania Trump added.

“This is a woman who secretly recorded our phone calls, releasing portions from me that were out of context, then wrote a book of idle gossip trying to distort my character. Her ‘memoir’ included blaming me for her ailing health from an accident she had long ago, and for bad news coverage that …read more


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Why fact-checking may be futile against Trump's black hole of lies

October 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Salon

Donald Trump has publicly lied at least 20,000 times since taking office, according to the Washington Post. He does this in part because he has shown himself to be mentally unwell, if not a sociopath. But he also lies because he is a fascist authoritarian. For such leaders, lies are a way of assaulting reality and truth as a means of achieving unlimited power. These explanations are not discrete. They overlap with one another.

In a season of massive death, Donald Trump and his regime’s lies about the coronavirus are a public health emergency – one which has killed at least 216,000 people in the United States.

Donald Trump and his regime’s lies have also severely damaged America’s prestige, alliances and global power. The country’s enemies have also been emboldened by the Trump regime’s lies and overall lack of consistency in foreign policy and principles.

Most important, Trump and his regime’s policy of lying (in conjunction with wanton cruelty and other evil) has undermined American democracy. A common understanding of reality is the foundation of a health democracy. The Trump regime’s lies and those of its agents are rotting that foundation.

In “The Death of Truth,” Michiko Kakutani explains that the damage Trump has done to the country’s institutions and foreign policy will take “years to repair.”

“And to the degree that his election was a reflection of larger dynamics in society—from the growing partisanship in politics, to the profusion of fake stories on social media, to our isolation in filter bubbles—his departure from the scene will not restore truth to health and well-being, at least not right away,” Kakutani writes.

Why is Donald Trump such a powerful and effective liar? Why has the mainstream American news media largely surrendered to his lies, and by doing so normalized them? Would more aggressive fact-checking have blunted Donald Trump and his regime’s strategy of lying? What explains why the mainstream American news media as a whole refused — and for the most part, continues to refuse — to describe Donald Trump and his regime accurately as being fascist and authoritarian?

In an effort answer these questions, I recently spoke with Eric Alterman, a columnist at The Nation and the author of more than 10 books, including the bestseller “What Liberal Media? The Truth …read more


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VoteVets and the Lincoln Project collaborate on one of the most devastating Trump videos yet

October 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Walter Einenkel

While the Lincoln Project continues to line its organizers’ pockets, the silver-lining of the PAC is that they have been very prodigious in their video output. More specifically, their videos are attacks on Donald Trump and his record and how awful he is. This relentless barrage of fact has allowed Vice President Joe Biden the opportunity to run a campaign that does not rely on what the traditional media would likely call “negative ads.” I say that with a pinch of salt because Donald Trump’s entire existence is negative, from start to finish, and the facts are the facts.

The newest video put out in collaboration with tells the very simple story of retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and the bullying and threats he and his family received for bravely testifying about Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in trying to coerce a foreign power to create the illusion of criminal impropriety in political rival Joe Biden’s record. The video shows Rachel Vindman, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s wife, and their family talking about their experience on the righteous end of an authoritarian and corrupt president’s anger.

Vindman’s wife speaks for most the video, calmly explaining that she has already gotten a phone call no military spouse ever wants to get: the one when her husband Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was injured in action. Very quickly, they show footage of Lt. Col. Vindman bravely testifying, not sitting on a book advance like galactic-level piece of shit John Bolton.

You might remember this part of Vindman’s testimony, where he addressed his own father, telling him “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

Rachel then says that, “The first time I felt threatened was just after Alex’s testimony.” From here we cut to Trump and his press secretary’s attacks and dismissive statements regarding the Lt. Col. Mrs. Vindman goes on, “The most powerful man in the world came after our family. But what happened to us can happen to anyone.”

She goes on to say that her family received “thousands of letters of support. America is so much better than Donald Trump.” It’s simple and true and to the point. Finally, Lt. Col. Vindman himself speaks, saying “This is America.This is the country I’ve served and defended. Here, right matters.”

Lincoln Project & VoteVets Ad | American Family
<small …read more


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What Was Like to Ride the Transcontinental Railroad?

October 16, 2020 in History

By Erin Blakemore

The expedient, often comfortable ride on the Transcontinental Railroad opened up the American West to new settlement.

Velvet cushions and gilt-framed mirrors. Feasts of antelope, trout, berries and Champagne. In 1869, a New York Times reporter experienced the ultimate in luxury—and he did so not in the parlor of a Gilded Age magnate, but on a train headed from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco, California.

Just a few years before, the author would have had to rely on a bumpy stagecoach or a covered wagon to tackle a journey that took months. Now, he was gliding along the rails, passing by the varied scenery of the American West while dining, sleeping and relaxing.

The ride was “not only tolerable but comfortable, and not only comfortable but a perpetual delight,” he wrote. “At the end of our journey [we] found ourselves not only wholly free from fatigue, but completely rehabilitated in body and spirits. Were we very far from wrong if we voted the Pacific Railroad a success?”

The author was just one of the thousands of people who flocked to the Transcontinental Railroad beginning in 1869. The railroad, which stretched nearly 2,000 miles between Iowa, Nebraska and California, reduced travel time across the West from about six months by wagon or 25 days by stagecoach to just four days. And for the travelers who tried out the new transportation route, the Transcontinental Railroad represented both the height of modern technology and the tempting possibility of unrestricted travel.

Railroads Passed Through ‘Untouched’ Indigenous Land

The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, originally the Pacific Railroad. The Last Spike ceremony, where the track from the East was joined to its counterparts from the West, took place at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869.

The first passenger train on the line took 102 hours to travel from Omaha, Nebraska to San Francisco, and a first-class ticket cost $134.50—the equivalent of about $2,700 today. It traveled what was known as the Overland Route, threading its way through prairies, mountains and deserts that had been nearly impassable just years before.

Passengers were impressed by the landscape’s beauty and seeming desolation. “For hundreds of miles we saw no other persons except now and then a station with a few hovels about it,” wrote Celia Cooley Graves, a Massachusetts woman who took the Overland Route to San Francisco in 1875.

At the time, the …read more