US & Texas Political News

Midday open thread: Cutting electricity costs in half; most smokers feel discriminated against
July 19, 2017

Today’s comic by Matt Bors is Fanboys freakout at woman Doctor Who:


• If Donald Trump serves to the end of his term, he has 1280 days left in office.

Study: “Distributed Energy Resources” (DERs) could lower renewable electricity costs by 50%: Utilities and governments are looking at DERs as an alternative to expanding expensive centralized power grids as the move away from fossil fuels gains force. DERs include hardware that a utility may not own directly—solar panels, natural gas-fueled microturbines, stationary batteries, and alternative cooling. When a grid operator shifts consumers’ electricity use away from high-demand times (usually with financial incentives) this is also viewed as DERs. Compared with old approach, DERs require an extensive data flow from users to utilities. But, three Stanford researchers conclude in the modeling study they published Nature Energy, over time as the kinks are worked out, use of DERs could lower the cost of electricity by half, mostly through reduced operating costs for the utility. 

With the year half over, 2017 on target to be hottest year ever recorded. That’s a bit of a surprise given that temperature-boosting El Niño isn’t a factor this year the way it was last.

A.G. Sessions reverses Obama-era policy and says feds will increase asset forfeitures: People can have their property seized—including cars and cash—without ever being convicted or even charged with a crime. Recovering what is taken can be extremely difficult, expensive, and infuriating. Former A.G. Eric Holder had sharply limited asset forfeitures in federal cases and in 2015, ended the practice of the feds seizing property forfeited in local cases. Sessions announced Monday at a speech to the National District Attorneys Association that he would issue a policy directive for increasing seizures this week, and here it is. In response before the directive came out, Holder took to Twitter:


At 4.6 billion plays, “Despacito,” by Reggaeton stars Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, is the most streamed song of all time.

Keegan Michael-Key says Trump hard to parody since he’s “the most ideal comic version” of himself: Michael-Key has resurrected “Luther,” President Barack Obama’s anger translator on Key & Peele. On Tuesday night’s broadcast of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” he had a message for Trump and his staff: “Everyone of you all in the White House has lost your damn mind.” 

Gallup Poll shows most smokers feel they have been discriminated against:

A majority of smokers in the U.S., 56%, believe they are at least occasionally discriminated against in public life or employment because of their smoking. In comparison, just one in six Americans (17%) who are overweight feel they have been discriminated against at some point because of their weight.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Joan McCarter joins us in poking Zombie Treasoncare with a stick, to see how dead it is. Trump sneaks away for another sort-of secret Putin meeting, then concocts another excuse to have people over for a meal. Mitch McConnell’s no magician after all.

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Jeff Sessions expands Justice Department's ability to take property from Americans
July 19, 2017

In this incredibly polarized political climate, liberals and conservatives rarely agree on anything. But one issue has both groups united in their desire to stop a government practice that is both abusive and fundamentally un-American—civil asset forfeiture

In scores of cities and towns, law enforcement simply takes property from citizens, then sells or keeps it. They say that the property is related to a crime. But no one needs to prove that the property owner broke any law. Indeed, there are cases where everyone agrees he or she is innocent. And still the stuff is taken!

This is a practice which has grown over the last few decades—particularly in the wake of large amounts of wealth gained by drug lords. However, it’s been increasingly applied to the seizure of anyone’s property, including everyday people merely suspected of participation in illegal activity. It has served as a way for the police to take property from people who have not even been convicted of crimes, leaving them little recourse to reclaim their belongings. It disproportionately impacts black and brown people. It is a practice so heinous that even Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas criticized it earlier this year.

Four states—Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois and Pennsylvania have introduced bills against it so as to protect the property of the innocent.

Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Tim Walberg have also introduced reform legislation at the federal level. As one conservative writer at the Washington Examiner opined:

“It’s not a pro-police program; it’s a constitutional evil. It gives law enforcement the right to strip Americans who’ve not been convicted of any crime—and in many cases, not even formally charged—of their properties, including cash, cars, homes, airplanes, boats, etc.”

So given that this is the one issue that both parties think is a horrible practice, why is it that Attorney General Jeff Sessions just decided to expand it?

As fate of DACA remains uncertain, bipartisan set of senators may reintroduce the DREAM Act
July 19, 2017

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) may reintroduce the DREAM Act as early as this week, according to McClatchy DC. While there’s no specifics yet, the 2010 version of the legislation would have put some immigrant youth who were brought to the U.S. as children by their parents on a path to citizenship. That version passed the House but died in the Senate, where it was ultimately short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster.” It would certainly have been signed into law by then-President Obama.

A possible reintroduction by Sens. Durbin and Graham comes as the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—a hugely popular, Obama-era program that has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrant youth to work legally, pursue educational and professional opportunities, and live from from the fear of deportation—is uncertain due to Donald Trump, his administration, and a group of Republican state leaders:

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told members of Congress last week that the program that shields those children from deportation is unlikely to withstand a legal challenge.

A group of Republican officials from 10 states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, have pressed the Trump administration to phase out the controversial program put in place in 2012 after a congressional effort to pass the DREAM Act failed.

The Trump administration has until Sept. 5 to decide whether to rescind the program or face a court challenge by the states.

Donald Trump has tried to stand on both sides of DACA. As a presidential candidate, he promised to rescind Obama’s order on day one of his presidency, but once in office, said that “we are gonna deal with DACA with heart.” The actions speak louder, following reported cases of ICE officials targeting numerous DACA recipients for arrest, including one Dreamer who was ultimately deported to Mexico despite having valid DACA status and is now suing the administration. 

What is also certain is that if DACA is rescinded, it not only stands to uproot the lives of nearly 800,000 immigrant youth who have been able to pursue their American dreams, support their families and communities, and build lives in the only country they’ve ever called home, but also stands to affect all Americans.

Addled Trump keeps swinging at, missing the piñata of Obama's legacy
July 19, 2017

Donald Trump came into office hell-bent on besting Barack Obama. When the House health bill was first introduced, onlookers eagerly watched for signs from the White House to see how invested Trump would be in the legislation. Very invested, it turned out. And not because he cared one twitch about the policy—he just craved a win, any win, that would help him secure a foothold in the pantheon of winning presidencies. So what if he was known for stripping health care from tens of millions of Americans—he wasn't going to be outdone by a guy he had falsely claimed for years wasn't even eligible to be president.

But now, despite laughably declaring Monday that he's signed more legislation than any president in history, Trump went 0 for 2 this week while Obama notched a 2 for 2 record without lifting a finger. Obama’s greatest domestic achievement, health care reform, and arguably his greatest foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear deal, both appear to have triumphed this week despite Trump’s most fervent desires. The New York Times’ Peter Baker writes:

As Tuesday dawned, [Trump] faced the reality that Mr. Obama’s most prominent domestic and international accomplishments both remained intact.

In neither case has Mr. Trump given up. He instructed his national security team to keep rethinking the approach to Iran with a view toward either revising or scrapping the nuclear agreement. And he publicly called on Congress to simply repeal Mr. Obama’s health care program without trying to immediately pass a replacement.

“We will return!” Mr. Trump tweeted Tuesday morning about the collapse of his health care effort.

He probably meant, "I'll be back," but either forgot the quip or tried to one up Arnold's signature saying.

As with most things foreign policy, Trump could have unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, but his advisers urged him not to because renegotiating the terms without any allies at his side would be very difficult, if not impossible. So while Trump reneged on the Paris climate accord and TPP trade deal, he appears to have been hamstrung on the Iran deal by the clear-eyed analysis of his aides. Who knows how long that will last. But renegotiating the Iran agreement would actually require a coalition-building effort among multiple entities with competing interests, much like passing a bill to dismantle Obamacare would.

McConnell, destroying his credibility while he destroys the Senate
July 19, 2017

Campaign Action

Everyone loves, or maybe grudgingly respects, a winner. That's what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was until this week. Never mind that those "wins" were destructive—most importantly his successful year-long blockade of a highly qualified, non-controversial Supreme Court nominee—he achieved his objective of obstructing nearly everything President Obama tried to accomplish and therefore was lauded as a mastermind strategist. Never mind that he wasn't actually doing stuff, that he had no major legislative accomplishments. He got undeserved and unwarranted credit for being able to hold together a caucus already bonded together by one overriding thing—the hatred in their base for the nation's first black president.

Well, that's all over now. And his one massive failure—Obamacare repeal—is waking everyone up to certain realities. Including even Politico.

It’s a serious defeat for McConnell, and one that leaves deep bitterness among rank-and-file GOP senators, as moderates and conservatives blamed each other over who is at fault for the setback.

It’s also a blow to McConnell’s reputation as a master legislator and raises doubts in the White House about what Senate Republicans can actually deliver for President Donald Trump. McConnell, like Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), finds himself caught between the factions in his own party. And like Ryan, McConnell hasn’t demonstrated that he knows how to resolve the dispute. […]

When he faced reporters on Tuesday, McConnell bristled when asked about the lack of accomplishments for the GOP-run Senate. He cited Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as the biggest Republican win, which likely ranks as the high point of McConnell’s tenure atop the GOP conference. […]

Yet McConnell has no one else to blame for the position he put himself in. Even as theories persisted in the Capitol that he might actually want the bill to fail, McConnell gamely tried everything during the past two months to reel in the necessary 50 votes.

Make Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump angry. Keep calling your senators at (202) 224-3121, and tell them DON’T REPEAL OBAMACARE. After the call, tell us how it went.

New Hampshire Republicans are suppressing the vote—but Democrats can clap back next Tuesday
July 19, 2017

Goal Thermometer

In less than a week, voters have a chance to elect Democrat Kevin Cavanaugh to the New Hampshire state Senate. And just last week, Granite State Republicans made it utterly clear why Tuesday’s special election is so important. 

Behind closed doors, GOP Gov. Chris Sununu has just signed a heinous new law that will impose onerous new residency requirements on New Hampshire voters and legalize intimidation tactics to verify where voters live. The Republican-controlled House and Senate sent the measure to Sununu’s desk after passing it on party-line votes. This new law will require voters who register within 30 days of an election to show additional documentation to prove that they aren’t lying about where they live, and that they intend to live there long-term.

Voters who lack the required documentation will be able to cast provisional ballots that won’t be counted unless they submit that required, intent-to-stay documentation within a few days. If otherwise duly registered voters fail to submit that “proof,” the new law empowers state election officials to visit their homes and bring in the state secretary of state’s office for potential investigation. 

So, in a nutshell, burdensome new documentation requirement + threat of state officials coming to your home or investigating you? Many reasonable and perfectly legal voters could find this … intimidating.

And as if voter intimidation via statue weren’t bad enough, the new law is based entirely on a thoroughly debunked and baseless conspiracy theory about illegal voters supposedly being bused in to New Hampshire for the 2016 election. The governor himself parroted these bogus arguments, and now he’s signed a law based on them.

At its core, this law is intended to make voting more difficult for Democratic-leaning demographics like college students and transient young adults. Laws like this one will make taking back the GOP-controlled legislature more difficult for Democrats next year. But laws like this also demonstrate why destroying Republicans’ stranglehold on the state is so crucial. With Republicans in charge, we’ll see more attempts to restrict voting rights, in addition to their ongoing work to defund Planned Parenthood and attack labor unions and working families.

Democrats have an opportunity to take a crucial step toward flipping the New Hampshire state Senate on Tuesday. Electing Kevin Cavanaugh will give Granite Staters a lawmaker with decades of experience fighting for working families and progressive values, and it will place Democrats just three seats away from taking a majority in the chamber. And thanks to the New Hampshire GOP, we have an acute reminder of why statehouse majorities are so important.

Contribute $3 to help elect Kevin Cavanaugh and break the Republican stranglehold on New Hampshire government.

In a last-ditch Trumpcare push, Trump invites Republicans to lunch
July 19, 2017

Popular vote loser Donald Trump is not a happy camper, and it's all the Republican's fault. The Democrat's, too.


But he's going to swoop in at the last moment and save the day and make all Republican senators come have lunch with him Wednesday to talk it over.

This week GOP senators rejected both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's latest draft bill to replace much of Obamacare as well as an effort to repeal it with no replacement. McConnell still plans to hold a procedural vote on repealing the health care law that's likely to fail. Several Republican senators urged McConnell to schedule the vote for this week.

But White House officials personally asked for more time to try to reach a deal, according to sources familiar with the matter, and McConnell scheduled the vote for next week.

Given how his previous efforts have gone, well, I guess he has to give it the old college try, though he probably hasn't had the time he needed to learn what is actually happening. Reports from his dinner Monday night with a handful of Republican holdouts suggest that he's not going to be particularly helpful.

Make your Republican senator feel the heat. Call their office EVERY DAY at (202) 224-3121 to demand that they say NO to repealing Obamacare and ripping health care away from millions of Americans. After your call, tell us how it went.

Donald Trump's dinner with Vladimir Putin is a middle finger to America
July 19, 2017

Just how willing is Donald Trump to show his disdain for America? So willing that he got up from his dinner, moved over to sit in private with Vladimir Putin, and joined the Russian leader to chat for an hour with only a Kremlin-provided interpreter as a witness. Did they talk about Syria? Crimea? Sanctions? Clearing up some building permits for Trump’s buddies the Agalorovs? 

We don’t know. Because Donald Trump thinks so little of the American people, so little of Congress, so little of the responsibilities of his position,  that he didn’t even bother to mention the meeting. He doesn’t feel the need to produce either a truthful transcript or even the sketchiest alibi. What did they talk about? Nunya. Now STFU.

Trump didn’t bother to tell America what he’d done—and not one member of his staff lifted a pen or went to a mike to mention that Trump’s debriefing had extended into hour three, or that the pesky presence of Rex Tillerson and a U.S.-source translator was not needed for the … good stuff.

It’s not as if Trump tried to cover up his actions. He’s not in a role where he can stroll over unnoticed. He just flagrantly, openly, in-your-face-ly did it while the leaders of the world looked on.

The dinner discussion caught the attention of other leaders around the table, some of whom later remarked privately on the odd spectacle of an American president seeming to single out the Russian leader for special attention at a summit meeting that included some of the United States’ staunchest, oldest allies.

If Trump had sat down for an hour of discussion with Theresa May or Angela Merkel, the concerns over the one-sided privacy of affair would be negligible, because the goals of the UK or Germany run mostly parallel to those of the United States … or should. But Trump chose to sit down with a proudly autocratic bigot and mass murderer. A man who thinks nothing of jailing or killing his political opponents, murdering journalists, or conducting operations within his own country that make the most outrageous 9/11 conspiracy theories look tame in comparison. A man whose primary goals included weakening America and harming its allies around the world.

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!
July 19, 2017

Today’s episode was secretly recorded by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin during the concluding dinner at the G20 conference.

What’s weird is that Joan McCarter was there, too, discussing the second, third, or possibly fourth death of Zombie Treasoncare. Which only further confused Trump, we have to assume, since he still doesn’t know what the bill was supposed to do.

Wow. What country is this, even?

Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!

Where else can you get live, unvarnished news, commentary and opinion from Daily Kos editors David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando?

Well, sure, you could get that at Daily Kos. And this is Daily Kos.

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The Republicans' signature campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare was halted yesterdayWEE OH WEE OH! Beeee OooH! Ding! Ding! Ding! Vrooooom! David Waldman delves into the factors and events leading to the collapse of TreasonCare on today’s KITM. Trumpcare’s not dead though, because its health and well-being is of utmost importance to Mitch McConnell... more than anything or anybody, other than himself of course. Repeal-only is fine, when you consider that goal, and that he doesn’t mean anything he says. Donald Trump wonders what any of this has to do with him. After all, he has signed more bills than any president, ever. (He hasn’t.) A Toronto hotel tears down Trump, disappointingly not using Marines. The United Arab Emirates get in on the hacking craze with Qatar.

(Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!)

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

Morning Digest: Huge sums are fast making the Illinois governor's race the most expensive in history
July 19, 2017

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.

Leading Off

IL-Gov: With the second quarter recently ending, we now have fundraising totals for next year's gubernatorial contest in Illinois—and man are they insane. First off, the Democrats:

J.B. Pritzker (D): $14 million self-funded, $4.9 million cash-on-hand

Daniel Biss (D): $1 million raised, $2.3 million cash-on-hand

Chris Kennedy (D): $704,000 raised, $959,000 cash-on-hand

Ameya Pawar (D): $139,000 raised, $229,000 cash-on-hand

Scott Drury (D): $66,000 raised, $347,000 cash-on-hand (in one month)

Bob Daiber (D): $4,000 raised, $10,000 self-loaned, $10,000 cash-on-hand

Campaign Action

Billionaire investor J.B. Pritzker dominated the money race by self-funding $14 million even as he accepted no donations. Kennedy-family scion Chris Kennedy is also quite wealthy by any objective standard, but he simply doesn't have the means to match Pritzker's self-funding. While he seeded his campaign with an initial $250,000 at the start of the year, he didn't do any substantial self-funding this quarter and somewhat surprisingly ended up raising less money than Chicago-area state Sen. Daniel Biss despite starting off with much higher name recognition. Three other candidates, Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar, state Rep. Scott Drury, and Madison County schools official Bob Daiber all raised relatively insignificant sums for such an expensive state.

While the Democrats first have to get past a crowded primary, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's Death Star will be quite operational when the general election arrives. He raked in $20.6 million during the second quarter and finished June with $67.6 million cash-on-hand, almost certainly the most of any candidate for any office in the country. A whopping $20 million of Rauner's haul, or all but $600,000, came from just a single source: hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who is a mega-donor to GOP campaigns. That comes on top of an earlier $50 million Rauner, another billionaire, gave himself last December, which he intimated was just an opening salvo.

Illinois' 2018 election is quickly shaping up to be the costliest gubernatorial race in history thanks to the willingness of Pritzker and Rauner (and Rauner's friends) to write their campaigns eight-figure checks. Pritzker spent a monster $9.3 million in the second quarter, while Rauner also spent a sizable $3.4 million even though he faces no major GOP primary opponent. Politico recently reported that some unnamed party officials think a contest between the two men could top a record-shattering $300 million, and at $90 million, they're already almost one-third of the way there, even though there are still another 16 months until Election Day.

Cartoon: Fanboys freakout at woman Doctor Who
July 19, 2017

Follow me on Twitter at @MattBors or like my Facebook page.

'Doctor Who' reverses the polarity of the show's gender dynamics
July 19, 2017

While looking back at the exploitation movies of the 1970s and ‘80s, a common criticism is usually sexism and racial stereotyping. Blaxploitation films usually take place in settings which reduce the black community to stereotypes of pimps, prostitutes, and areas of high crime where drug lords rule the streets. Anyone who’s seen slasher films from this era may remember almost all of them contained massive amounts of female nudity, sex, and dead teenagers. Female sexuality was both objectified for titillation and made into a feature where a character was deserving of death if they’re too much of a “slut.”

And yet, there is an argument which asserts these films were the first to include strong representations of women and people of color. While Blaxploitation films might have been heavy in stereotypes, audiences were also presented with John Shaft and Coffy. Many of those horror movies with copious amount of T&A were also some of the first films to have strong female characters that weren't dependent on men to "save" them. And in genres like science fiction, with faster-than-light travel and English-speaking aliens, women and people of color being in charge and issuing commands was believable enough to get past the prejudices of audiences. That includes characters like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, in the Alien franchise, who wore skimpy underwear in gratuitous scenes while screaming in terror—but was also arguably the basis for the first female action movie star.

Over the weekend, Doctor Who made headlines. For the first time in the 54-year history of the show, a woman, Jodie Whittaker, will replace Peter Capaldi and take on the role of The Doctor when the series shifts from current showrunner Steven Moffat to Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall at the end of the year. This has been hailed in some headlines as “groundbreaking,” while some of the more trollish comments online have gone in the He-Man Woman Haters’ Club reaction. The more negative sentiment has also been exhibited in some of the British tabloids, especially the Murdoch-owned ones, which over the past day or so have resorted to publishing nude pictures of Whittaker.

Trump appears to be serious in his efforts to defeat insufficiently loyal Republican Sen. Jeff Flake
July 19, 2017

It's beginning to look like Trump's determination to screw Republican Sen. Jeff Flake may be more than just talk; his White House has been meeting with several of the Republicans mentioned as possible primary challengers.

Since taking office, Trump has spoken with Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, a top official on his 2016 campaign, on at least two occasions, according to two sources familiar with the talks. More recently, since June, White House officials have also had discussions with former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who has announced her bid, and former Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham, who like DeWit is exploring a campaign.

Trump has carried a grudge against Flake because Flake didn't back him in the election. Trump's allies have carried a grudge against Flake because disloyalty to Trump cannot possibly be tolerated, no matter what Trump has done or what the previous Republican stance on such things has been. And apparently none of the sucking-up Flake has done post-election has mellowed Trump in the slightest, though they sure have been trying:

A Flake spokesman, Joshua Daniels, declined to comment on the senator’s conversations with the administration but noted that he had “voted with President Trump over 95 percent of the time this year” and had aggressively backed several White House priorities, including the successful push to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Flake's real problem, of course, is that despite news reports suggesting Senate leader Mitch McConnell would be "unhappy" with a Trump effort to unseat Flake, the reality of the situation is that nobody in his party is willing to stand up for him lest they, too, find themselves the target of Trump's nationwide collection of deranged loonies. So he's on his own.

Even after backing Trump "95 percent" of the time.

Trump held second, secret meeting with Putin with no other Americans present
July 18, 2017

Well now, this just got peculiar: During the G-20 summit, Donald Trump had a second, informal meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin that nobody knew about. We don't know what they talked about, and we're not likely to ever know.

In that conversation, Trump spoke with the Russian leader for roughly an hour, joined only by Putin's translator. The meeting had previously gone without mention by the White House. [...]

That Trump was not joined in the conversation by his own translator is a breach of national security protocol, Bremmer noted, though one that the president likely would not know about.

Why had this second meeting gone unreported until now? We don't know. What did they discuss? We don't know. Why did Trump attend it with no other staff members present, not even a translator, relying only on Putin's provided translator? We don't know. We also don't know if he was warned that meeting with Putin privately, without an American translator, would be a national security danger.

It's either an excruciatingly odd move by Trump to further ingratiate himself with Putin during the summit or, God help us, Trump really did have something he wanted to discuss with no other Americans present.

Tuesday, Jul 18, 2017 · 10:48:52 PM +00:00 · Hunter

The second meet-up was apparently during a dinner:

Halfway through the meal, Trump left his own seat to occupy a chair next to Putin. Trump was alone, and Putin was attended only by his official interpreter. [...]

Leaders who reported the meeting to him, Bremmer said, were “bemused, non-plussed , befuddled” by the animated conversation, held in full view — but not listening distance — of others present.

And Trump didn’t have a translator with him because he had been seated with Japanese Prime Minister Abe, and had brought “only a Japanese-English interpreter.” (You have to wonder what Abe thought when his dinner partner suddenly wandered off.)

Tuesday, Jul 18, 2017 · 11:28:02 PM +00:00 · Hunter

The White House has released a statement, though it does not quite fit with the facts as described by the other witnesses.

No time like the present for the State Department's top cyber official to leave
July 18, 2017

Another one bites the dust in Rex Tillerson's State Department as America's cyber security just got less secure. The Hill writes:

Chris Painter, appointed the department’s coordinator for cyber issues in 2011 during the Obama administration, will leave the State Department at the end of July.

In his position, Painter is responsible for coordinating the United States diplomatic efforts to advance cybersecurity, including by promoting norms of responsible behavior by states in cyberspace. Painter has launched government-to-government “cyber dialogues” with other countries to help reduce cyber threats and crime. [...]

Before being appointed to the State Department post in February 2011, Painter served as senior director for cyberpolicy in the National Security Council under former President Obama. He also held cyber-related positions at the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Rex Tillerson's State Department is an exercise in collateral damage for anyone with a decade-plus of diplomatic expertise in any particular area. After several purges earlier this year and the Trump administration's inability to actually staff the agency back up, the State Department is a mere shadow of its former self.

Painter's exit comes on the same week as reports that the agency's war crimes justice division is being shuttered by the Trump administration. Newsweek writes:

The Office of Global Criminal Justice advises the secretary of state on issues surrounding war crimes and genocide, and helps form policy to address such atrocities. It was established by President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, in 1997. Since then, the office has supported the work of criminal courts in countries including Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia and the Central African Republic, and has pushed for greater U.S. support of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Good thing there's no need for that anymore.


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