US & Texas Political News

Midday open thread: It was racism in 1957 too ... and more
September 25, 2017
Cartoon by Tom Tomorrow - Parables involving cliffs
  • What you missed on Sunday Kos:

U.S. Sen. John McCain says doctors have given him a “very poor prognosis” as he battles brain cancer. [...]

McCain says he has “feelings sometimes of fear of what happens,” but counters that with gratitude for having lived “had a great life.”

He adds: “it’s not that you’re leaving, it’s that you — that you stayed.”

  • On this day in 1957:
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Visitors to the New Hampshire Statehouse hoping to see former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen’s portrait currently have to use their imaginations – the painting is blocked by a potted tree in the reception area outside the governor’s office. [...]

Reardon said Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s chief of staff told her the tree had to be in that specific spot, as did Shaheen’s portrait, because “they’re hung in chronological order.”

But that logic doesn’t track. The portrait closest to Shaheen’s depicts Gov. Hugh Gallen, a Democrat who was elected in 1978 and was followed by three Republicans before Shaheen took office.

Anthony Weiner got 21 months of hard time.

The disgraced pol, appearing gaunt and grim, was sentenced Monday by Judge Denise Cote for sending sick messages to a 15-year-old.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: The weekend roundup, with Greg Dworkin & Armando. The Earth wasn’t destroyed, but nearly as bad, Donald Trump was the president. So he fought with pro athletes, abandoned Puerto Rico, and left Zombie Trumpcare still knocking around. What a bum.

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Donald Trump is actually tweeting about the NFL because they kicked his ass—twice
September 25, 2017

Donald Trump doesn’t care about the National Anthem. He doesn’t care about the flag. The man who railed against Gold Star families, sneered at Prisoners of War, and developed the world’s most convenient set of bone spurs doesn’t give one damn about the red, white and blue—he prefers gold. What’s really driving Trump’s rally speech, press event, and 15 tweet (and counting) attack on NFL protesters is something else entirely.

There was an age—and it feels like generations ago, but really it was early 2014—when Donald J. Trump was thought to be all talk—and with good reason. Perpetually he threatened to bring his showy, bulldozing style somewhere it wasn’t especially welcome. Time and time again, though, something would come up and intervene.

But this time it was for real. No more false starts. Advisor Michael Cohen told the papers, “There’s nobody more serious than Donald Trump.” He was, after years of hoopla, going to follow through. He was finally going to ... bid for the Buffalo Bills.

In the list of things that concern Donald Trump, national pride is somewhere a million items down. Above that comes every perceived slight in his life. Trump went on to make a claim that he bid a billion dollars for the Bills. Which may or may not be true. What’s certain is that he lost out to Terry Pegula, a beneficiary of the natural gas fracking boom who had the advantage of being able to produce actual cash and not just an IOU from an oligarch. Trump was left with the same solace then that he has now—complaining about it on Twitter:

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And, of course, this wasn’t the only time the NFL embarrassed Trump. There was also the wonderfully awful case of the USFL and the New Jersey Generals.

Texas Rep. Gohmert calls on Arizona voters to oust McCain in 'recall' vote to get healthcare repeal
September 25, 2017

There's no other way to read comments from Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and Donald Trump Monday about Sen. John McCain than to say this: Republicans apparently can't get rid of a man who signed up to give his life for this country and is now battling brain cancer fast enough.

Whatever one might think about Sen. McCain's politics, he's spent his entire life in service to this country, but Gohmert wants a recall vote so he can be replaced with a robot Republican who will vote in favor of the Graham-Cassidy healthcare repeal. (Helpful side note: Recalls of federal elected officials have never been allowed by the courts. You’d think a member of Congress might know this.) McCain announced Friday that he could not "in good conscience" vote for the GOP's rushed hatchet job on the Affordable Care Act. Roll Call writes:

Rep. Louie Gohmert believes Arizona Sen. John McCain should be recalled while he battles brain cancer and so that the GOP can replace him with someone who will support the party's latest effort to repeal the 2010 health care law.

“Nothing inhibits recovery from cancer like stress,” the Texas Republican told “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning. “I think Arizona could help him, and us. Recall him, let him fight successfully this terrible cancer, and let’s get someone in here who will keep the word he gave last year.”

Gohmert's comments came amid McCain's announcement that his doctors had given him a "very poor prognosis."

Trump, perhaps not mentally agile enough to at least feign concern for McCain, went ahead and threw him under the bus in a Monday radio interview with the Alabama-based "Rick & Bubba Show."

"You can call it what you want, but that's the only reason we don't have it, because of John McCain," Trump said of multiple GOP attempts to repeal the ACA. [...]

"Without John McCain, we already have the health care," Trump said on the radio program.

Wow. This is apparently acceptable behavior now—pondering aloud that if they could just get the guy with cancer out of the way, they could pass a truly shitty piece of legislation that will strip health care from millions and do untold more damage to our healthcare system. It's jaw dropping.

Monday, Sep 25, 2017 · 7:16:57 PM +00:00 · Kerry Eleveld

UPDATE: Naturally, Gohmert doesn’t have a clue what’s actually in the U.S. Constitution: “The United States Constitution does not provide for recall of any federally elected official.”

Here comes the Graham-Cassidy show hearing, now with added Santorum
September 25, 2017

Well, Republicans moved on from an earlier plan to have a hearing for Graham-Cassidy at which only Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy spoke. So there’s that. But the final list of witnesses for the hearing, to be held at 2 PM ET, contains some doozies.

In the credit where credit is due, or possibly the buckling to pressure category, Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, who faces kidney cancer, will testify. So will a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network—one of the many medical groups opposing the bill

But the frothy one, Rick Santorum, failed senator, and failed presidential candidate? Okayyyy. 

And check this witness out: Dennis Smith was a Medicaid head under George W. Bush. 

Smith served for a time as secretary of Wisconsin Health Services under Gov. Scott Walker. That experience turned into a hot news story in Wisconsin, including allegations of an affair between Smith and an aide (he denied it) and an attempted murder charge filed against the husband of the female aide. He left in 2013 for a job with a Washington law firm. 

Now he’s a “Senior Advisor for Medicaid and Health Care Reform” in Arkansas. So: George W. Bush, lobbyist (translation of “Washington law firm”), Wisconsin under Scott Walker, Arkansas.

For that matter, yes, his name is on the bill, but let’s not forget that a senior Republican aide told Axios that “If there was an oral exam on the contents of the proposal, graded on a generous curve, only two Republicans could pass it. And one of them isn't Lindsey Graham.”

The hearing is drawing plenty of interest:

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Look for the Republicans involved to lie—Bill Cassidy especially is known for lying about his healthcare plans. Watch it here.

Call your senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to vote NO on any Obamacare repeal bill. Call before the hearing, call during the hearing, call after the hearing. Just call (202) 224-3121 and tell your senator NO. (After you call, please tell us how it went.)

Monday, Sep 25, 2017 · 6:06:34 PM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

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Poll: Majority disapprove of new Republican healthcare bill, and just one in five approve
September 25, 2017

Another Republican healthcare bill, another set of terrible polling numbers. This time around, it’s the Graham-Cassidy bill and, according to a CBS News poll, 52 percent of Americans disapprove, while just 20 percent approve. Even among Republicans, the plan to slash Medicaid funding and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions falls short of majority support. Also:

Of the 32 percent of people polled who said they believed the bill would impact them personally, most -- 25 percent -- said they thought it would hurt them. Only seven percent of Americans think the bill would help them personally.

Most people don't yet realize how the bill might affect them personally, but it would. It’s amazing how quickly a healthy person can become a person with a pre-existing condition who’s bumping up against annual or lifetime caps on coverage. But basically nobody thinks this bill will help them, even as Republicans twist senatorial arms, offer bribes to states with undecided senators, and generally do everything possible to pass it before their September 30 deadline.

We haven’t won the battle to save health care yet. Republicans are STILL pushing to repeal Obamacare before September 30. Call your senators at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to vote “NO” on any repeal bill. (After you call, please tell us how it went.)

Critiques of NFL protests remind us of the past and show how far we have to go toward racial justice
September 25, 2017

Donald Trump spent the weekend on Twitter ranting about black athletes and their supposed disrespect of the country, national anthem and flag. Always quick to incite chaos, drama and controversy, this is the modus operandi of Trump as a politician—repeatedly accusing people of color for diminishing America’s greatness. 

Of course, this isn’t a new tactic. Whenever people of color, especially black people, shine a light on the injustice that is so deeply woven into the fabric of America, there are scores of white people who try to silence them. Much of white America wants black people to shut up, smile and be grateful that it tolerates our existence—even though they have done everything to make that existence as miserable as possible. This was true for the civil rights movement as much as it’s true today. The very same peaceful protests of the 1960s that Americans look back on with such admiration were deeply criticized at the time. What’s telling is that, even though several decades have passed, the argument people are using today to discourage protest about racial injustice is the very same argument they used in the 1960s. 

A Gallup poll taken in 1964, shortly after the 1963 March on Washington, found that 74 percent of Americans believed that “mass demonstrations by Negroes” would “hurt the Negro’s cause for racial equality.”

Another Gallup poll in October 1964 found that 73 percent of Americans believed that “Negroes should stop their demonstrating now that they have made their point.”

And here’s what folks are saying today: 

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But his email ... White House fails to call for locking up Jared Kushner over use of personal email
September 25, 2017

It can be hard to accept that Jared Kushner is actually a government official, but he’s genuinely slotted in as a White House “senior adviser.” Which means that Kushner has clearance. Which means that his electronic communications should be following those picky rules about the use of personal accounts.

Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business.

That “part of a larger pattern” shows how much Trump actually cares about this issue. While “Lock her up!” continues to be a popular chant at Trump rallies, no one ever seems to get to Why, Is there a reason they want to lock up Hillary Clinton? Maybe it was because she ...

Used both a private email account and an official email address to communicate with other government officials.

Oh wait. That’s Kushner. But that’s okay. Because Trump has a new hate-target.

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Of course, America should continue to hate powerful women, but that doesn’t mean there’s not also room to hate successful black people.

Hillary Clinton urges Trump, Sec. of Defense to send the U.S. Navy to aid 'apocalyptic' Puerto Rico
September 25, 2017

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Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and local officials are describing “apocalyptic” conditions.

Without power and communications in much of the island, millions of people, including city leaders and first responders, have been cut off from the world since Maria hit Wednesday.
Authorities flew over the island Saturday, and were stunned by what they saw. No cellphones, water or power. Roads completely washed away and others blocked by debris, isolating residents.

And while Donald Trump spent his weekend on Twitter, complaining about sports figures trying to draw attention to police brutality, Puerto Rico residents are desperate for rescue and aid. Politico reporter Colin Wilhelm was able to get through to Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who said they aren’t getting the aid they’ve requested:

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Seeing how desperate the situation is, Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to plea for Trump to intervene and order the USNS Comfort, a mobile medical facility, to reach the island. 

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The USNS Comfort was designed for provide mobile surgical hospital service and acute medical care in disaster or humanitarian relief.

Cartoon: Parables involving cliffs
September 25, 2017

If you missed out on the big Kickstarter compilation last year, IDW has just published an expanded second edition of 25 Years of Tomorrow, featuring every TMW cartoon from the strip’s earliest days through the election of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump claims his attacks on NFL players have 'nothing to do with race.' Yeah, right.
September 25, 2017

Donald Trump took a break on Sunday from attacking black athletes over a silent, peaceful protest waged against racism to claim that “this has nothing to do with race.” No, really, he said that:

“This has nothing to do with race,” he said. “I’ve never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country, and respect for our flag.”

It’s not just the fact that—as so many people have observed, torch-wielding neo-Nazis include “many fine people,” according to Trump, while kneeling football players are “sons of bitches” that makes this about race. It’s not just the fact that the anthem protest is about race and has been from the beginning. It’s also, as Philip Bump reminds us, that Donald Trump’s campaign was built around race from the beginning:

In addition to his explicit racial arguments (starting with his disparagement of immigrants from Mexico), Trump repeatedly insisted that he would stand behind and defend America’s police — leveraging hostility to Black Lives Matter for his own purposes.

At the same time, Trump warned of spiking crime rates, at one point retweeting a racially loaded — and wildly inaccurate — image arguing that most white people who were murdered were victims of black people. By August 2016, after the Republican convention, a Post-ABC poll found that 60 percent of Americans thought Trump was biased against women and minorities — including 20 percent of people who planned to vote for him. In August of this year, Fox News asked a similar question, with more than half of the country and 15 percent of Republicans saying he doesn’t respect racial minorities.

Trump again highlighted the racial divide he’s trying to stoke on Monday morning with a tweet lauding the patriotism of NASCAR drivers. About that …

Puerto Rico is a disaster, moving toward catastrophe, that demands a massive, emergency response
September 25, 2017

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Donald Trump has not mentioned Puerto Rico since the day after Hurricane Maria brutally scourged the US territory. After making a trip to Alabama to call any athlete who takes part in peaceful protest a “son of a bitch” who should be fired, Trump doubled, tripled … pentadekaled down on that point by tweeting 15 times about his NFL hate. He’s also slipped in half a dozen mentions of the health care bill and even managed to talk about how nice the White House looks.

But three and a half million Americans, many of whom are without shelter, struggling to find clean water and food, who are living about without power, lacking communications with relatives, and still searching for loved ones they haven’t seen since before the storm—that doesn’t merit a word. Trump isn’t alone in his disdain and neglect. The grand total of time all five Sunday morning talk shows devoted to Puerto Rico as they gathered the great and the good to cover the issues of the day was less than one minute

At least one person does seem to be paying attention.

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Unfortunately, that person can’t order that ship into position—or order any of the thousands of steps that should have been taken to assist even before the storm struck.

Maria was a disaster. The aftermath of the storm is a crisis that’s rolling toward catastrophe as Donald Trump demonstrates a callous disregard for human life and a disdain for Americans outside the reach of his wall.

People with pre-existing conditions are even more screwed under new draft of Republican health bill
September 25, 2017

Hours after Sen. Susan Collins said it was “very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill,” Republican leadership released a new version of the Graham-Cassidy Affordable Care Act repeal bill trying to bribe Collins and other undecided or opposed Republicans.

The Cassidy-Graham legislation would overhaul the ACA by lumping together the current law's spending on insurance subsidies and expanded Medicaid and redistributing it to states in the form of block grants. Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than under current law, and Maine would get 43 percent more funding during that time period, according to a summary obtained by The Post.

Topher Spiro of the Center for American Progress issued a caution on the numbers being reported, though:

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Additionally, Jonathan Cohn reports that protections for pre-existing conditions would be weakened even more than in the previous version of the bill:

Under the newly revised bill, states would have an even easier time junking rules that prohibit insurers from charging higher premiums to people with cancer, diabetes, or other medical conditions. They could also waive existing rules limiting out-of-pocket expenses, or setting minimum levels of coverage.

To do this, state officials wouldn’t even have to apply for a formal waiver. All they would have to do is file a plan explaining their proposal, and why officials believe it would provide “adequate and affordable” coverage for people with prior medical problems.

That should be a giant red flag for any Republican senator who’s unsure of their vote—even if the bill sends extra money to their state as a bribe for their vote. Funding aside (and that’s a big aside), this bill will destroy a lot of lives.

Keep hitting those phone lines. Call your senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them YOU ARE WATCHING! (After you call, please tell us how it went.)

Cheers and Jeers: Monday
September 25, 2017

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE

Unnecessary Censorship

As long as there have been books, there have been meddlers trying to ban them, and American meddlers are among the most obnoxious, Jesus-freaked, and delicate-fee-fee’d in the civilized world. There were 323 cases of attempted book banning in 2016 (over 11,600 over the last 35 years), which is why an important group has designated this Banned Books Week:

The Banned Books Week Coalition is a national alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.

Banned_Books_Week_2017.jpg

The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship. The 2017 celebration will be held September 24 - September 30.

For this year’s celebration, the coalition of organizations that sponsors Banned Books Week will emphasize the importance of the First Amendment, which guarantees our inherent right to read.

The top 5 banned books last year were (cue the sound of conservative Christians grinding their teeth): This One Summer written by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, Drama by Raina Telgemeier, George by Alex Gino, I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, and Shelagh McNicholas, and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. Kudos to you all, you’re definitely worth reading.

So far the Dotard administration hasn’t called for any book bannings or burnings. But give it time…it’s early.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!
September 25, 2017

Yes, The Donald was a raving lunatic this weekend. No, I don’t believe he’s actually smart enough to try to distract us from anything with his idiocy. I mostly believe what George Takei believes on this score:

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Anyway, this is week 36 of The Presidential Apprentice, and, well, the man’s not learning. Meanwhile, the Trump-Russia heat is still on, and rising. We’ll catch up with the weekend’s shenanigans, of course. And then we’ll get down to business.

Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!

Podcasts! They’re hip! They’re hot! Everyone’s got one! But Daily Kos has had one since slightly after that point at which you would have been able to say that we had one before it was cool. Only we do ours over a live stream, every weekday morning from 9-11 ET. So the news is as fresh as the morning dew! Delivered and interpreted for you by David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando.

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Friday, end of the week, time for David Waldman to bring us articles and topics to ponder over the weekend. Ponder briskly, as the weekend might be getting busy, and short. We all know Donald Trump is a dotard, we just didn’t think of that until now. Thanks Un! Trump’s also a 멍청한 아기 , so he might just dote us to armageddon thanks to his tweet war. Also—Donald alienated those Nambi-Gambi-Zambians. Is Trump’s defining trait “Idiocy”? “Insanity”? “Racism”? A tough call, but Armando chooses “crazy”. He and David search for a rule or a standard that would ever really matter in the healthcare repeal reconciliation process. Why listen to experts? Why obey the constitution? Not if winning is the only Gop goal, and it is. Tom Price took a private jet to South Dakota to give a speech on wasteful spending. Facebook failed to protect 30 million users from having their data harvested by the Trump campaign. Trump still uses targeted “dark ads” on Facebook to lie to the followers led easiest by lies. Mark Zuckerberg’s opinion is evolving.

(Thanks to Scott Anderson for all show summaries! Please help me pay him more!)

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

Morning Digest: GOP lands top recruit Dino Rossi to run for Washington's swingy 8th District
September 25, 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, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

WA-08: Will the fourth time be the charm? Republican state Sen. Dino Rossi announced on Thursday that he'll make his fourth bid for higher office next year, this time to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Dave Reichert in the 8th Congressional District. About four-fifths of the district covers the outer suburbs on the eastern edge of the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, while the other one-fifth includes more rural territory east of the Cascades. Rossi is a commercial real estate developer who has served in the state Senate on and off again since his initial 1996 victory, with his most recent stint following an appointment last year to replace a Republican incumbent who died.

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Rossi was Team Red's nominee for Senate in 2010 and governor in 2008 and 2004, but lost all three times in heavily contested races. His first bid for governor was for an open seat against Democrat Christine Gregoire, which saw him fall shy by just 129 votes after an ugly and drawn-out recount during which Rossi had unsuccessfully fought for a new election to take place. He lost their 2008 rematch by 53-47, but considerably outran John McCain's 57-40 defeat in that year's presidential race. Rossi then challenged longtime Democratic Sen. Patty Murray in 2010, but fell short of victory by 52-48.

Although Rossi failed to win at the statewide level in those three contests, he carried the 8th District each time, including a solid 55-45 edge over Murray here in 2010. This seat backed Hillary Clinton 48-45 and Obama by 50-48 in 2012, but it's no stranger to supporting down-ballot Republicans like Rossi. For instance, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee lost it by 54-46 last year even as he was winning statewide by that same margin. Rossi will consequently be a formidable candidate if he ends up as the GOP's standard-bearer.

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