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'Have some integrity': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for furlough of Congressional pay amid government shutdown

December 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

“Next time we have a gov shutdown, Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well.”

US Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for congressional salaries to be put on hold during the next government shutdown.

The US government went into a partial shutdown at midnight on Friday after President Trump refused to sign a spending bill that did not include $5 billion for his wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He had long claimed that Mexico would pay for the wall.

“It’s completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter.

“Have some integrity,” she added, calling for salaries to be furloughed for the next shutdown.

Next time we have a gov shutdown, Congressional salaries should be furloughed as well.

It’s completely unacceptable that members of Congress can force a government shutdown on partisan lines & then have Congressional salaries exempt from that decision.

Have some integrity.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 22, 2018

(Spoiler alert: most members of Congress are already wealthy!)

Speaking as a working class member-elect, I think it’s only fair.

It would also cause members who actually depend on their salary to think twice about leadership and take a shutdown vote more seriously.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 22, 2018

Members of the House and the Senate are paid $174,000 a year. According to Roll Call, 153 House members and 50 senators are millionaires.

More than 420,000 federal workers who are considered “essential” will continue working — but without pay, according to CBS News. Those employees may eventually receive back pay. However, an additional 380,000 workers will be furloughed and may miss a paycheck depending on how long the shutdown lasts.  

Ocasio-Cortez, who will join Congress in early January  as the new representative for New York’s 14th District, has been a vocal critic of the demand for $5 billion for a border wall. When the House passed a short-term spending bill with $5.7 billion for border security, Ocasio-Cortez challenged the GOP trope that the federal government simply doesn't have the money to implement bold progressive policies such …read more


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‘He. Can’t. Read’: Internet piles on Trump for ‘not being smart enough’ to understand Mattis letter was critical of him

December 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Sarah Burris, Raw Story

Trump allegedly read the letter before praising the secretary’s work and dedication to the United States.

A recent New York Times report revealed that President Donald Trump didn’t seem to comprehend the resignation letter sent by Defense Secretary James Mattis this week.

Trump allegedly read the letter before praising the secretary’s work and dedication to the United States, but once cable news began reporting the letter’s contents, he turned to rage. A Twitter-rant quickly followed.

It’s lead many pundits and activists online to wonder if the president was smart enough to understand what Mattis was saying in his two-page letter.

CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins was among the first to comment it seemed Trump didn’t really read the letter.

“The more you read Mattis’s resignation letter, the clearer it becomes that Trump had not read it before he sent his tweet,” she tweeted Thursday.

The more you read Mattis’s resignation letter, the clearer it becomes that Trump had not read it before he sent his tweet.

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) December 21, 2018

“Trump is clearly kicking Mattis out early because he’s just now realizing that Mattis’s resignation letter was a rebuke of his Presidency,” tweeted “Draft Beto” chief Nate Lerner. “It took him 3 days to figure that out.

Trump is clearly kicking Mattis out early because he’s just now realizing that Mattis’s resignation letter was a rebuke of his Presidency.

It took him 3 days to figure that out.

— Nate Lerner (@NathanLerner) December 23, 2018

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Republican senator rips Trump's 'unnecessary' and 'juvenile' shutdown: 'This is a made-up fight'

December 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Gwendolyn Smith, The New Civil Rights Movement

“This is something that's unnecessary, it's a spectacle, and candidly, it's juvenile. The whole thing is juvenile,” Corker said

Senator Bob Coker (R-TN) took to CNN's State of the Union today, speaking out against Donald Trump's government shutdown over the President's desire for billions of dollars in border wall funding.

“This is a made-up fight, so the president can look like he's fighting, but even if he wins, our borders are going to be insecure,” said Corker.

The U.S. government is shut down on Friday amid a stalemate orchestrated by President Trump after lawmakers had provided a continuing resolution (CR) to keep essential government functions open over the holidays.

The President, largely spurred on my criticisms over the lack of border wall funding in the CR, dug in his feet, demanding that 5 billion dollars for “border security” be tacked onto the CR. This caused the senate to adjourn on Saturday afternoon without an agreement.

While congress will be back on Monday technically, the next true session won't be until after Christmas, with many predicting the shutdown to last into the new Year without concessions from the administration.

Corker, who is retiring from congress, called the shutdown a “purposefully contrived fight,” citing previous funding battles that could have provided ample border funding.

“This is something that's unnecessary, it's a spectacle, and candidly, it's juvenile. The whole thing is juvenile,” Corker added.

He also attacked the notion of the wall itself, claiming there was better technology that could be used to secure the border.

“It's not unlike going to the Pentagon and saying look, we need to buy fighters, and we have stealth fighters,” said Corker. “They're supersonic and they have precision-guided missiles — but no let's use the Wright Brothers. So, it's not just about the money, but what we're spending it on.”

View the discussion below:


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Watch: Fox News’ Chris Wallace corners Mick Mulvaney with his own words about Trump’s ‘childish’ border wall

December 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

“Why is it worth shutting down the government?”

Fox News host Chris Wallace pointed out to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney that he had spoken against a border wall before joining President Donald Trump’s administration.

“The fence doesn’t solve the problem,” Mulvaney said in 2015. “Is it necessary to have one? Sure. Would it help? Sure. But just to say build the darn fence and that be the end of immigration discussions is absurd and almost childish for someone running for president to take that simplistic a view.”
“If building a wall is childish and simplistic as a solution for the immigration problem, why is it worth shutting down the government?” Wallace asked on Sunday.
“It has to be part of a comprehensive [immigration bill],” Mulvaney insisted.
“But it isn’t!” Wallace interrupted. “You’re not saying it’s part of any comprehensive immigration plan.”
“The border wall is absolutely necessary, which is why we’re having the battle,” Mulvaney declared. “We need a comprehensive solution and a border barrier, steel-slat fence, has to be part of that.”
Watch the video below:

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NYT bombshell: Trump feels 'totally and completely abandoned' — even by Kushner

December 23, 2018 in Blogs

By Aldous Pennyfarthing, Daily Kos

“Longtime associates said Mr. Trump’s relationship with his children has grown more removed and that he feels he does not have a friend in the White House.”

Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker have a new piece in The New York Times today that portrays our pr*sident as a puddle of fondue getting ready to evaporate into God’s blessed ether.

It will unsettle you to your bones (if you’re not already way past that point) and clearly shows that Trump is essentially one giant urine collection away from being Howard Hughes.

He rants at his advisers, calling them “fucking idiots.” He’s obsessed with the media’s criticism of him, wondering, “Why is it like this?” (Uh, because you’re president, and a horrible one at that.)

Oh, but he still loves parts of the job — namely the parts that allow him to inconvenience other Americans who are trying to get to work: “’The roads closed for me!’ he declared to friends earlier this year after a motorcade ride.”

Yeah, that’s what the president’s 6-year-old child is supposed to say — not the president himself.

Overall, you get the impression that if he were the guy changing the oil in the cruller fryer at Dunkin’ Donuts rather than the president of the United States, he would have been quietly removed months ago.

But perhaps most alarming are these two excerpts:

Always impulsive, the president increasingly believes he does not need advisers, according to people close to him. He is on his third chief of staff, third national security adviser, sixth communications director, second secretary of state, second attorney general and soon his second defense secretary. Turnover at the top has reached 65 percent, according to the Brookings Institution.

Um … yeah, ya do need advisers, Biff. You more than anyone. The only thing you don’t really need is a surgeon. Feel free to do that work yourself.

And this:

More recently, the president has told associates he feels “totally and completely abandoned,” as one put it, complaining that no one is on his side and that many around him have ulterior motives. That extends even to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was <a target=_blank …read more


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Good riddance to James Mattis — Trump's last general

December 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

The “adults in the room” were never going to save us from Trump’s tweets and tantrums

The word “unprecedented” is being used a lot by retired generals, political pundits, and national security experts discussing the resignation of General James Mattis as secretary of defense yesterday. No one could remember a member of any president’s cabinet resigning without lobbing a few words of praise at the president who appointed him, but Mattis did just that on Thursday. His letter of resignation, it was noted, did not even feature a citation such as “sincerely” in closing. Mattis simply signed his name across the middle of the bottom of the page and left it at that.

The word “anxiety” is also flying around. The nation’s capital awoke this morning to a headline in its hometown newspaper, the Washington Post, which read, “’A morning of alarm’: Mattis departure sends shock waves abroad.”

“In China and Russia — U.S. adversaries that were cited in Mattis’s resignation letter as deserving of tough treatment — there was open anxiety that the world had just become more vulnerable to conflict,” the Post reported. The post quoted Norbert Röttgen, the chairman of the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel saying, “With him [Mattis] gone, this really marks a juncture in the Trump presidency. Now we have an unrestrained Trump, which is a dangerous signal for the year ahead.”

Even Trump allies like Senator Mitch McConnell couldn’t find a silver lining in the cloud forming after Mattis’ sudden and unexpected resignation. In an unusual break with a president he has followed down every rabbit hole Trump has dug, McConnell said he was “distressed that he [Mattis] is resigning due to sharp differences with the president.” Wow, that was brave, Mitch. We’ll be sure to put “He was distressed” on your gravestone.

So how did we get here, to this place where in a single week, one cabinet secretary resigned in disgrace, another cabinet secretary resigned in disgust, the stock market continued to tank, the government faced a shutdown that will further cripple …read more


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Here's why Trump is a great gift to America

December 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Jeremy Sherman, AlterNet

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He demonstrates what tyranny is and that it can happen here.

Assuming he goes down in flames before he causes us to; assuming that what’s left of our democracy ends him before he ends what’s left of our democracy, Trump will have been the best thing that ever happened to America, indeed, among the best for our global survival imperative – figuring out how to spot and thwart the asshole impulse in human nature.

You can’t thwart what you can’t spot. Even with all our experience with the asshole impulse, we’re still lousy at spotting it.

Trump is the absolute best, the greatest, the most tremendous negative role model we could ask for. He is the e-z reader of sleazy leaders, the large print edition, the 1st grader’s Where’s Waldo or word finder puzzle for spotting assholes.

Sure we’ve had other asshole leaders before. But even the worst, the ones who killed the most people and lasted the longest could be mistaken for their ideology. Stalin could be mistaken for a Communist. Hitler for a Nationalist. Assholes wear camouflage. They dress up their tyranny in poser principles.

Trump is different. He’s generic. He has no ideology to distract us. He’s essence of asshole, authoritarian distillate. He’s pure, uncut, unalloyed, unadulterated by any tinge of cover-story ideology. Eau de asshole.

People the world over cry out for room to live their lives the way they want. Even the strictest fundamentalists want their freedom to demand a closed society. Everyone wants to have their way, and to the extent possible, we should let em. Live and let live. Freedom of speech, freedom of association, but of course, not unlimited freedom.

In a free society you don’t get to commandeer other people’s lives. You don’t get to tell people how to live …read more


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Yes, there is a war between science and religion

December 22, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

Science and religion are not only in conflict – even at “war” – but also represent incompatible ways of viewing the world.

As the West becomes more and more secular, and the discoveries of evolutionary biology and cosmology shrink the boundaries of faith, the claims that science and religion are compatible grow louder. If you’re a believer who doesn’t want to seem anti-science, what can you do? You must argue that your faith – or any faith – is perfectly compatible with science.

And so one sees claim after claim from believers, religious scientists, prestigious science organizations and even atheists asserting not only that science and religion are compatible, but also that they can actually help each other. This claim is called “accommodationism.”

But I argue that this is misguided: that science and religion are not only in conflict – even at “war” – but also represent incompatible ways of viewing the world.

Opposing methods for discerning truth The scientific method relies on observing, testing and replication to learn about the world. Jaron Nix/Unsplash, CC BY

My argument runs like this. I’ll construe “science” as the set of tools we use to find truth about the universe, with the understanding that these truths are provisional rather than absolute. These tools include observing nature, framing and testing hypotheses, trying your hardest to prove that your hypothesis is wrong to test your confidence that it’s right, doing experiments and above all replicating your and others’ results to increase confidence in your inference.

And I’ll define religion as does philosopher Daniel Dennett: “Social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought.” Of course many religions don’t fit that definition, but the ones whose compatibility with science is touted most often – the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – fill the bill.

Next, realize that both religion and science rest on “truth statements” about the universe – claims about reality. The edifice of religion differs from science by additionally dealing with morality, purpose …read more


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The Pentagon doesn't deserve the media's sympathies

December 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Ilana Novick, Truthdig

The prospect of a cut to the military elicited a storm of condemnation across the media landscape.

It is a sign of our times that our media attempt to decipher future government policy by analyzing the president’s tweets, like some bizarre game of telephone. Throughout November, there was speculation of a coming reduction in military spending, and when Donald Trump took to Twitter (12/3/18) to describe the $716 billion budget as “crazy,” media took this as confirmation.

The prospect of a cut to the military elicited a storm of condemnation across the media landscape. The National Review (11/17/18) wrote that “cutting the resources available to the Pentagon is a bad idea,” noting that, “for decades, America has short-changed defense” meaning “America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt.” In an article headlined “Don’t Cut Military Spending Mr. President” (Wall Street Journal, 11/29/18),  Senate and House Armed Services committee chairs James Inhofe and Mac Thornberry claimed the military is in “crisis” after “inadequate budgets for nearly a decade,” and that “any cut in the Defense budget would be a senseless step backward.”

More centrist outlets concurred. Forbes Magazine (11/26/18) began its article with the words, “The security and well-being of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades,” recommending a “sensible and consistent increase” to the budget. Bloomberg (19/11/18) recommended a consistent increase in military spending of 3 percent above inflation for five to ten years, while Reuters (12/4/18) noted the increased “risk” of a lower military budget.

What exactly was this “risk” that media were so worried about? Max Boot, neo-con fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations—who apparently still supports the Iraq War and demanded ones in Syria and Libya, while arguing that America should become a world empire—articulated the risk in the Washington Post (12/12/18). Describing a reduction in military spending as “suicide,” and claiming the US is in a “full-blown national security crisis,” he cited the work of a blue-ribbon panel that called for continuous hikes in military spending:

“If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in …read more


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Robert Reich: The end is near for Trump

December 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, AlterNet

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Trump is a “dangerous menace.”

This morning I phoned my friend, the former Republican member of Congress.

ME: So, what are you hearing?

HE: Trump is in deep sh*t. 

ME: Tell me more. 

HE: When it looked like he was backing down on the wall, Rush and the crazies on Fox went ballistic. So he has to do the shutdown to keep the base happy. They’re his insurance policy. They stand between him and impeachment.

ME: Impeachment? No chance. Senate Republicans would never go along.

HE (laughing): Don’t be so sure. Corporate and Wall Street are up in arms. Trade war was bad enough. Now, you’ve got Mattis resigning in protest. Trump pulling out of Syria, giving Putin a huge win. This dumbass shutdown. The stock market in free-fall. The economy heading for recession. 

ME: But the base loves him.

HE: Yeah, but the base doesn’t pay the bills. 

ME: You mean …

HE: Follow the money, friend. 

ME: The GOP’s backers have had enough?

HE: They wanted Pence all along.

ME: So …

HE: So they’ll wait until Mueller’s report, which will skewer Trump. Pelosi will wait, too. Then after the Mueller bombshell, she’ll get 20, 30, maybe even 40 Republicans to join in an impeachment resolution. 

ME: And then?

HE: Senate Republicans hope that’ll be enough – that Trump will pull a Nixon.

ME: So you think he’ll resign? 

HE (laughing): No chance. He’s fu*king out of his mind. He’ll rile up his base into a fever. Rallies around the country. Tweet storms. Hannity. Oh, it’s gonna be ugly. He’ll convince himself he’ll survive. 

ME: And then?

HE: That’s when Senate Republicans pull the trigger. 

ME: Really? Two-thirds of the Senate? 

HE: Do the math. 47 Dems will be on board, so you need 19 Republicans. I can name almost that many who are already there. Won’t be hard to find the votes.

ME: But …read more