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View from the Left: John Kelly now just a tool of the ‘deranged animal’ in the White House

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 6:02 PM

By (Kerry Eleveld)

When Donald Trump heard the words he spoke this week to a grieving pregnant widow repeated back to him, even he seemed to grasp how horrific they were.

“Didn’t say what that congresswoman said—didn’t say it at all,” Trump charged Wednesday, his arms crossed defiantly at a White House meeting. “She knows it and she now is not saying it.”

She, otherwise known as Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, was indeed still saying it—that Trump had called the family of fallen soldier Sgt. La David Johnson to say, “he knew what he signed up for … but when it happens, it hurts anyway.” And in Trump’s days-long campaign to discredit the congresswoman’s account, he even claimed he had “proof” that she was wrong.

Since White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later told reporters there was no recording of the call, the only “proof” left would have to come from the other people listening on both ends of the phone line—Trump’s aides on one side and friends and family of the widow, Myeshia Johnson, on the other.

Guess what? They both confirmed Wilson’s account. When the White House sent chief of staff John Kelly into the briefing room on Thursday to quell the fury Trump had stoked over the last several days, he didn’t refute Wilson’s story. Instead, Kelly gave an explanation for why Trump had delivered the words Wilson said he did, an apparent attempt by Trump to parrot what Gen. Joe Dunford had told Kelly in 2010 when Dunford informed Kelly that his son had been killed in action in Afghanistan.

“He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were, because we’re at war,” Kelly said, recalling that day in 2010 when one of his closest friends showed up on his doorstep in his dress blues to relay the news. “When he died he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends. That’s what the president tried to say to four families the other day.”

Kelly’s poignant explanation, along with his assertion that such a moment between a president and the family of a fallen soldier, however clumsy, should be “sacred,” might have been a moment of national reprieve—an invitation to ponder our common humanity and check our jabs at one another. Might have been. Except that Kelly entirely shattered that opportunity by launching a broadside attack on Rep. Wilson that not only proved to be riddled with lies, but also undercut his entire premise that we as a nation needed to restore a lost sense of decency. In one breath, Kelly yearned for a return to certain sacred ideals while in the next breath he slandered a congresswoman in service of providing cover to his commander in chief—the originator of this entire race to the bottom on Gold Star families. In other words: Do as we say, not as we do.


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The NFL dispute isn’t the first time Trump has weaponized the American flag against a community

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 5:01 PM

By (Kerry Eleveld)

When Donald Trump decided to accuse NFL players protesting police brutality of “disrespecting” the American flag, it wasn’t his first turn with using nationalistic jingoism to divide a community against itself for his own benefit. In fact, the case of a 70-foot flagpole he illegally erected at one of his golf courses in 2006 likely served as a dry run for the way he has weaponized the American flag against people of color in his ongoing attack on First Amendment rights.

NPR’s Embedded podcast takes us back to the war Trump waged in the mid-aughts against a California city where he was building the new golf course. It will surprise no one to learn that in the process of developing his course on the stunning bluffs of Rancho Palos Verdes along the southern California coast line, Trump did everything from publicly calling a respected attorney an “obnoxious asshole” to telling homeowners with properties lining his links that their houses looked “like shit.” Trump also sued the local public school in a dispute over how and when he would pay the district for the land parts of his course occupied.

But it was the dispute over a flag pole he erected against city code, dwarfing everything else in sight, where Trump used patriotism to turn neighbor against neighbor in a cozy town of about 40,000 residents.

Here’s an excerpt from the story reported by several NPR journalists:

We’re taking a left on a road called Trump National Drive—you’re looking out over this completely unobstructed beautiful view of the ocean and of Catalina and there is one thing that sticks up … the American flag, a 70-foot flag pole. […]

There’s sort of here in Ranchos Pales Verdes an absolutist view—like, nothing over a certain height. Don’t block anybody else’s views. In the 1980s they passed a law basically that said, if you’re going put up anything over a certain height that could conceivably disrupt someone else’s view then you have to go to the city and get a permit because people’s views are so important to them and so important to the value of their properties.

Now what Donald Trump would say, and has said is, I don’t think you need a permit to put up the American flag.

That was his entire argument. Even when he refused to pay the $10,000 fee to have the flag pole assessed by the City Council, he said, “Since when do you have to pay to put up the American flag?” A flag that also happened to be the “size of a studio apartment … towering 54 feet over the city’s 16-foot limit on ‘accessory structures.'”


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Ghoulish Trump hopes for four appointments to the Supreme Court

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 4:02 PM

By (Joan McCarter)

Here’s a thing to fuel your nightmares all the way through Halloween: Trump reshaping the Supreme Court. He’s absolutely giddy at the prospect that by the end of his first term, he might have four Supreme Court appointments. One—Neil Gorsuch—is already done. Anthony Kennedy, he predicts, will retire? The others, he has reportedly told insiders?

“Ok,” one source told Trump, “so that’s two. Who are the others?”

“Ginsburg,” Trump replied. “What does she weigh? 60 pounds?”

“Who’s the fourth?” the source asked.

“Sotomayor,” Trump said, referring to the relatively recently-appointed Obama justice, whose name is rarely, if ever, mentioned in speculation about the next justice to be replaced. “Her health,” Trump explained. “No good. Diabetes.”

“It’s all about the numbers for him,” one source told Axios. And he’s doing his level worst to rack up those numbers.

President Donald Trump has nominated 50 candidates to lifetime appointments to the federal bench — including a man who asserted transgender children were evidence of “Satan’s plan,” one deemed unqualified by the American Bar Association and a handful of prolific bloggers. […]

“The judge story is an untold story,” Trump said Monday at a news conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “When you think about it, Mitch and I were saying, that has consequences 40 years out, depending on the age of the judge, but 40 years out.”

So there’s your nightmares laid out for the remainder of your existence. Trump—and Republican Senate leaders—aren’t even giving lip service to the idea that men and women in line for a lifetime appointment should be actually qualified. The only qualifications they need are a willingness to vow obeisance to the NRA and the Koch brothers and the Susan B. Anthony Society and every extremist group who would be happy dispense with every constitutional amendment but the Second.

There really is nothing more important in our political, social life, than the courts. Every aspect of our lives—the most personal life and health decision 50 percent of the population will make, our clean air and water, our right to not be mowed down by a maniac with assault weapons, or to have clean air to breathe and water to drink and a planet to live out our lives on—is dependent upon a federal judiciary which would safeguard it. There’s only one option for Democrats. Stop as many of his horror shows as they can, by whatever means they must.


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Trump To Release Classified Files On JFK Assassination

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 3:31 PM

More than 3,000 documents related to the 1963 shooting death have never been publicly released.


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ICE to open new, privately run detention facility in Texas

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 2:01 PM

By (Steven Andrew)

Interstate 35 runs down through Texas like a stone version of the lower Colorado River. From north to south, the first major metropolis it runs through is ruby red Dallas-Ft. Worth, then through redneck country 200 miles or so further down before drifting into progressive Austin and San Antonio, and ending another 150 plus miles to the south in a nice border town called Laredo. Somewhere in the San Antonio region, ICE plans to build a new detention center—and word is it will be operated by a for-profit prison outfit:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is planning to open another detention center in South Texas for people apprehended entering the country illegally. The Austin American-Statesman reports the agency this month asked private companies to submit preliminary proposals for a new facility along the Interstate 35 corridor housing adult detainees. There are already a number of such detention centers operating south of San Antonio. The request for proposals indicates ICE is open to new construction or the renovation of an existing facility. It would house about 1,000 beds. ICE says it can’t comment on pending contracts.

The details such as they are appeared in the traditional paper version of the Austin American-Statesman on Monday, Oct 16, 2017. The article speculated the company in question was most likely to be one of the big two: either the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) or the GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Securities. But the Austin newspaper also stated that ICE has not returned their calls asking for confirmation or more information. The article has not yet appeared in the Statesman online.

Civil rights advocates (and anyone else with half a brain) consider for-profit prisons a terrible idea, for a number of good reasons. This is an industry that profits most when more people are detained or convicted, and like any other business, it’s one that further maximizes profit in part by cutting expenses in the form of labor costs, accommodations, and other inmate care to the absolute bare minimum. It’s bad enough when the detainees or convicts are U.S. citizens with inalienable rights; the mind reels at what a for-profit prison might get away with when detaining undocumented immigrants who have little in the way of legal protection—especially in the Trump era.


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Donald Trump Tries A New Tactic To Attack Congresswoman Who Exposed His Lies

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 1:06 PM

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) had revealed unflattering details of the president’s conversation with an Army widow.


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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Trump and Kelly dig themselves deeper into a hole

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 11:31 AM

By (Greg Dworkin)

It’s clear General Kelly got it wrong. That’s not in dispute. But doubling down on the inaccuracy is an awful look for the WH, and apologizing for their screw-ups (including getting the role of Rep. Wilson wrong) is beyond their ability, apparently.


The challenge is that the Miami Herald said Kelly’s retelling of the 2015 event is inaccurate. And the Sun-Sentinel published a video showing that Kelly misrepresented Wilson’s speech.

Wilson was appalled by Kelly’s attack.

“I feel sorry for General Kelly,” she said on CNN. “He has my sympathy for the loss of his son, but he can’t just go on TV and lie on me.

“I was not even in Congress in 2009 when the money for the building was secured, so that’s a lie. How dare he!”


Huckabee doubles down on the lies and says it’s “highly inappropriate” to disagree with a Marine 4 Star General.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 20, 2017


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This Fight Isn’t Over

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 11:30 AM

The DNC has a great deal of work to do if it hopes to remedy frictions between the Clinton and Sanders wings of the Democratic Party.


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Winston Churchill’s Grandson Introduces A New Nickname For Donald Trump

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 9:38 AM



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National Anthem Singer Takes A Knee Before Brooklyn Nets Home Opener

Article posted October 21, 2017 at 8:40 AM

“We will not be silenced,” said singer Justine Skye.


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