U.S. Politics

REVEALED: Steve Bannon once praised Joe McCarthy’s war on ‘traitors’ who had ‘infested’ US government

Steve Bannon at Bloggers Briefing in October 19, 2010 (Don Irvine/Flickr)

RAW STORY

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump accused his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, of engaging in “McCarthyism” for purportedly ordering an “illegal” wiretap of Trump Tower.

Even though Trump offered no evidence to back up his wild claims, it turns out that Steve Bannon, the president’s top political strategist, actually thinks McCarthyism was a good thing.

CNN has snagged a 2013 audio recording of Bannon interviewing conservative author Diane West, in which Bannon asks her to comment on what he believes is the unfair reputation that Sen. Joe McCarthy has gotten for his efforts to purge purported communists from the federal government.

“Today in modern pop culture, you know they call Ted Cruz the Joe McCarthy — if you want to think of who devils are it’s Ronald Reagan and those who name-names at the House Un-American Activities, the Hollywood Ten are heroes right?” Bannon asked. “Alger Hiss is a hero, right? Richard Nixon’s a villain? Joe McCarthy is a villain. Your book makes very plain that these guys were right. The place was infested with either traitors that were on the direct payroll of Soviet military intelligence or fellow-travelers who were kind of compliant in helping these guys get along. I mean, there’s absolutely no question of it.”

Bannon went on to say that he believed the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations were conducting similar campaigns in the United States that similarly aimed to subvert key pieces of the American government.

During his talk with West, Bannon also derided former President George W. Bush for calling Islam a “religion of peace” and discussed whether the entire country was at risk of being “conquered by Islam.”

Listen to the whole interview below.

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: March 6, 2017

Erik S. Lesser-Pool/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. White House calls for investigation of Trump wiretapping claim
The White House on Sunday called on Congress to investigate President Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower in New York City, the president’s home and then-campaign headquarters. Trump tweeted that the bugging was like “Nixon/Watergate,” although neither Trump nor the White House provided any evidence. “All we’re saying is let’s take a closer look,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. House and Senate intelligence committee leaders said any surveillance of candidates would be covered under their investigations of Russian election meddling. FBI Director James Comey reportedly asked the Justice Department this weekend to refute Trump’s claim. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied Trump was ever the target of a wiretap.

Source: NBC News, The Washington Post

2. North Korea fires missiles into Sea of Japan
North Korea fired four banned ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan early on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. Three of the missiles reportedly came down in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. “The launches are clearly in violation of Security Council resolutions. It is an extremely dangerous action,” Abe said. The provocative move by the isolated communist state came as South Korea and the U.S. hold joint military exercises that Pyongyang has called preparations for an invasion.

Source: Reuters, CNN

3. New executive order on immigration expected Monday
President Trump on Monday is expected to issue a new version of his executive order on immigration temporarily suspending entry of all refugees into the U.S., and imposing travel restrictions on a list of predominantly Muslim nations. The first version of Trump’s immigration restrictions, which was blocked by the courts, suspended the refugee program for 120 days, but blocked Syrian refugees indefinitely. It also temporarily barred visitors from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. The new version reportedly avoids singling out Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban, and removes Iraq, a key partner in the fight against the Islamic State, from the travel ban. It also is expected to exempt people who already have green cards or valid visas.

Source: The New York Times

4. Marines investigated for sharing nude photos of female service members
Military officials are investigating hundreds of active-duty Marines for allegedly sharing nude photos of female service members and veterans online without their consent. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, on Sunday called for the Marine Corps to conduct a prompt inquiry, calling the alleged actions “degrading, dangerous, and completely unacceptable.” Hundreds of photos featuring at least two dozen women were posted to the private Marines United Facebook page, which has 30,000 male members, all of them U.S. Marines, Navy Corpsman, or British Royal Marines.

Source: Military.com, The Washington Post

5. North Korea expels Malaysia’s ambassador
North Korea on Monday ordered Malaysia’s ambassador to leave the country in retaliation for the expulsion of Pyongyang’s envoy from Malaysia over the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Kuala Lumpur airport. Malaysia on Saturday gave North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol 48 hours to leave after he criticized the country’s handling of the investigation of the killing, suspected of being carried out by North Korea. Kang, preparing to leave on Monday, accused Malaysia of taking “extreme measures” that would do “great harm” to relations between the two countries.

Source: The Associated Press

6. Lawmaker’s office gives 3 Muslim students questionnaire asking, ‘Do you beat your wife?’
Three Muslim students who tried to meet with Oklahoma state Rep. John Bennett (R.) at the State Capitol were asked to fill out a questionnaire with such questions as, “Do you beat your wife?” and “Do you denounce the terrorist organization Hamas?” The questions “intentionally misinterpreted ideas [from the Koran] to try to slander Muslims,” said Anna Facci, an officer with the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Bennett, who has criticized Muslims in the past, told a CNN affiliate that he had left his office when the students came by, and told his staff to have the students fill out the questionnaire and make an appointment to speak with him.

Source: CNN, The Washington Post

7. Iraqi forces make gains but face intensifying resistance in Mosul
Iraqi forces faced the heaviest resistance yet in their offensive to retake western Mosul, destroying six Islamic State car bombs on Sundaybefore they reached government troops. Maj. Gen. Haider al-Maturi of the Federal Police Commandos Division said ISIS militants were moving from house to house, and using snipers to slow down advancing Iraqi soldiers and allied militia fighters. The Federal Police are gaining ground as they try to take back the city’s main government complex in the Dawasa neighborhood. U.S.-backed Iraqi forces also reportedly took control of a second bridge over the Tigris River, a key milestone.

Source: The Associated Press, BBC News

8. GM agrees to sell European brands Opel and Vauxhall
General Motors said Monday that it had reached a deal to sell its Opel and Vauxhall brands to French auto maker PSA Groupe for $2.2 billion. The sale will end GM’s presence in Europe as a major manufacturer. The sale will let GM focus resources on developing self-driving cars, and vehicles for its profitable North America and China businesses. Its European operations lost money for 16 straight years. “This was a difficult decision for General Motors,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. “But we are unified in our belief that it is the right one.” PSA Groupe, which already has the Peugeot and Citroen brands, will become the region’s second largest auto maker with 17 percent of the market, behind only Germany’s Volkswagen.

Source: Detroit Free Press

9. Bird flu detected in Tennessee commercial flock
A strain of bird flu has been detected at a Tennessee farm affiliated with Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest chicken meat producer. Tyson said Sunday that it was working with state and federal officials to prevent the virus from spreading by killing 73,500 breeding birds. “Based on the limited scope known to us at this time, we don’t expect disruptions to our chicken business and plan to meet our customers’ needs,” said a spokesman for Tyson. It is the first confirmed case of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza in a U.S. commercial poultry flock in more than a year.

Source: MarketWatch

10. Logan leads weekend box office with $85.3 million debut
The X-Men spinoff Logan led the box office with a $85.3 million haul in its debut weekend. The R-rated film, starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, put a new spin on the super-hero genre with what one New York Times critic called “raw, ugly violence” that helps the 20th Century Fox film keep from feeling like a “retread” even though Jackman has been playing Wolverine for 17 years. Logan collected another $152.5 million overseas. Moonlight got a lift from its Best Picture win at the Oscars, making $2.5 million, accounting for 10 percent of its domestic total of $25 million so far.

Source: The New York Times, The Associated Press

U.S. Politics

Comey, Justice Department at odds over Trump’s bizarre claims

FBI Director James Comey testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, March 1, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty)

FBI Director James Comey testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, March 1, 2016 in Washington, DC. | Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty

MSNBC – The Maddow Blog

The day before Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan wanted to tell the incoming White House team that Michael Flynn had been lying about his contacts with Russia. FBI Director James Comey disagreed.
As the Washington Postreported last month, Comey pushed back against the idea “primarily on the grounds that notifying the new administration could complicate the agency’s investigation” into Russia’s intervention on Trump’s behalf. Quoting a source familiar with Comey’s thinking at the time, the FBI director didn’t think the bureau should be “the truth police.”

“In other words, if there’s not a violation of law here, it’s not our job to go and tell the vice president that he’s been lied to,” the source said.

A month later, Donald Trump apparently started lying to the nation about former President Obama wiretapping the Republican’s phone line before the election. According to the New York Times’reporting, Comey believed in this case that the FBI should be the truth police.

The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement. […]

Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration.

It’s worth pausing to appreciate the circumstances the nation finds itself in. The sitting president of the United States, apparently after reading some nonsense on a right-wing website, seems to have lied to the nation about a conspiracy involving his predecessor. The director of the FBI – a Republican appointed by Obama – concluded that the president was lying and asked the Justice Department to tell Americans the truth.

The Justice Department ignored the request, allowing Trump’s apparent deception to stand.

There’s no reason to assume Comey was motivated by a desire to defend Obama. On the contrary, this is about the bureau he leads: if federal officials conducted illegal surveillance against Trump during the election, the misdeeds would’ve been conducted by the FBI.

In other words, Comey had an incentive to push back against Trump’s bizarre conspiracy theory, not because of Obama, but to defend the bureau.

The Justice Department, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who appears to have given false testimony about his own contacts with Russia, made no effort to correct the record over the weekend. If the Times’ reporting is accurate, it suggests the DOJ simply blew off Comey’s plea.

A White House spokesperson, meanwhile, was asked on ABC News this morning whether Trump accepts Comey’s findings. “No, I don’t think he does,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the president’s perspective.

So the president is at odds with the FBI director, and the FBI director is at odds with the Justice Department, all in response to Donald Trump’s latest conspiracy theory, which offers evidence that the president is more inclined to believe Breitbart News over James Comey.

Among the many questions on my mind this morning: does Comey have any regrets for intervening in the presidential election last October and helping put Trump in the Oval Office?

U.S. Politics

Rachel Maddow Makes History By Finishing In The Top 10 Most Viewed Shows On All TV

Rachel Maddow Makes History By Finishing In The Top 10 Most Viewed Shows On All TV

MSNBC screencap

POLITICUS USA

Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show is growing so much so fast that she is drawing more viewers than broadcast television networks. Maddow recently finished in top ten among all networks and programs in her timeslot.

Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show is growing so much so fast that she is drawing more viewers than broadcast television networks. Maddow recently finished in top ten among all networks and programs in her time slot.

MSNBC announced Maddow’s unprecedented ratings growth via a press release:

MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” (M-F 9-10pm) finished in the top 10 among all networks in the time period on Thursday, March 2, according to Nielsen.

The primetime show delivered 2.5 million total viewers on Thursday and ranked #6 ahead of three broadcast networks: Fox Broadcasting, Univision and ABC. “The Rachel Maddow Show” also finished in the top 10 multiple times – including 14 out of the previous 19 days.

Among cable news networks, “The Rachel Maddow Show” topped CNN in both total viewers and in the key news A25-54 demographic on Thursday (2.5 million total viewers and 610,000 viewers A25-54 vs. CNN’s 1.3 million total viewers and 497,000 viewers A25-54).

During primetime in February 2017, more people watched MSNBC than CNN. “The Rachel Maddow Show” saw significant growth across the board and finished #2 in cable news for both total viewers and A25-54 demo. “The Rachel Maddow Show” delivered its biggest total viewer audience ever for a month. “The Rachel Maddow Show” also beat CNN’s regularly scheduled programs for the 45th straight month. The show posted its best demo delivery in the time period since November 2012.

When a cable news show is finishing in the top ten over 14 of the last 19 days and is defeating broadcast networks, that is a sign that something special is happening.

It should be noted that The Rachel Maddow Show was almost the top cable news program in its time slot. Tucker Carlson’s show, which is available in more homes than MSNBC finished 4th and Maddow finished 6th. Fox News is both available in more homes and holds a virtual monopoly on conservative cable news viewership.
Maddow is growing at a faster rate than Fox News. As President Trump attacks the media, viewers are turning to fact-based programs for the truth.

Rachel Maddow is finally getting some of the audience that she has always deserved, while MSNBC sees the highest ratings in the network’s history.

MSNBC and Rachel Maddow are finally breaking through.

U.S. Politics

Republicans eye strategy for repealing Wall Street reform

Republicans eye strategy for repealing Wall Street reform

© Getty Images

THE HILL

Republicans on Capitol Hill are turning their attention to repealing another signature accomplishment of President Obama: the 2010 Wall Street reform law.

Key lawmakers are eyeing a special budgetary to pass repeal legislation in the Senate on a simple majority vote, bypassing Democrats.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, says the budgetary process known as reconciliation, which can be used to circumvent the filibuster, should be considered as a tool to roll back burdensome Obama-era regulations on the financial sector.

Some Republicans say that rolling back the Wall Street reform law should be one of their highest priorities.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told Bloomberg television last month that the law is “worse than ObamaCare.”

“I think it’s one of the worst bills that’s ever been passed through Congress,” Hatch said, adding that he did not think any of its provisions were worth saving.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) in November said he had enough votes to block any Republican efforts to repeal key parts of the Wall Street reform law, known as Dodd-Frank.

But it would be considerably harder for Schumer to stand in the way if Republicans use reconciliation to repeal the parts of Dodd-Frank that affect government spending and revenues.

Democrats “don’t have to agree to everything on reconciliation,” Shelby noted.

Asked whether congressional committees would be given instructions to repeal parts of the Wall Street reform law in a budget resolution later this year, Shelby said, “We’ve been talking about a lot of stuff.”

The effort has been kept largely quiet, however. It was not one of the items highlighted on the 200-day agenda that Republicans discussed at their annual retreat in Philadelphia, and President Trump did not mention Wall Street during his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has announced that the second budget resolution that Republicans plan to pass this spring will have instructions to protect tax reform from Democratic filibusters.

But it’s possible to include multiple instructions so that the resolution includes the Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over financial industry regulations, as well as the Finance Committee, which is in charge of taxes.

Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said reconciliation instructions affecting the Wall Street reform law could be included in the next budget resolution, which will cover fiscal 2018. But he declined to tip his hand about whether that was a certainty.

“I just work the problem until I’ve got a solution,” he said.

Trump signed an executive order early last month giving the Treasury Department authority to change key provisions of Dodd-Frank to align with several goals laid out by his administration, such as to make regulation “efficient, effective and appropriately tailored.”

The president said regulations created under the 2010 law have chilled economic activity.

“I have so many people, friends of mine, that have nice businesses that can’t borrow money,” Trump said. “The banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank.

Democrats say the Republican plan to gut the reform law with only 51 votes would likely run afoul of the Senate’s Byrd rule, named after the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), which limits what legislation can be passed under reconciliation.

“How would they use reconciliation? It’s not budgetary,” said a Senate Democratic aide.

A former Democrat aide who served in the Senate during passage of the Wall Street reform law seven years ago, however, said Republicans could attempt to target spending on regulation of the financial services industry.

“They could target provisions in Dodd-Frank that govern funding such as that they might have been charging or fines they were imposing on banks. That sort of thing they could go after,” the Democratic source said.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2011 that the Wall Street law would increase government revenues by $13.4 billion and spending by $10.2 billion over a 10-year period. It projected the law would reduce deficits by $3.2 billion.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a veteran member of the Banking Committee, is leading the review of the budget rules to determine what parts of the law can be undone with 51 votes.

“We need to make a number of really substantial reforms to Dodd-Frank,” Toomey told the Wall Street Journal in December. “I am very much in favor of making sure we have all the tools to do this.”

Aside from the challenge of getting the Senate parliamentarian — who decides what’s eligible for special budgetary protection — to sign off on the plan, Shelby and Toomey may have trouble convincing some moderate Republicans to go along.

Schumer in November predicted in November that some Republicans would side with Democrats in blocking efforts to weaken the law. Yet Republicans could try to make up for lost votes by targeting red-state Democrats who are up for reelection in 2018.

Republicans from agricultural states say tighter regulations on banks has made it tougher for farmers to obtain financing now that commodity prices are slumping.

ALEXANDER BOLTON

U.S. Politics

A deadly pattern: States that went red during the 2016 election saw more workplace fatalities

A deadly pattern: States that went red during the 2016 election saw more workplace fatalities

Occupy Oakland protesters – (Credit: AP/Noah Berger)

SALON

In states that were carried by Donald Trump during the election, the chances of dying at work are high

This piece originally appeared on FairWarning.

More than 4,800 American workers are killed on the job each year. But in states that were carried by Donald Trump, the chances of dying at work are higher than in states that Hillary Clinton won.

With a single exception, the states that voted Republican had at least three job-related deaths per 100,000 workers, according to the most recent federal labor statistics for 2015. In all but two states that went Democratic, the workplace death rate was less than three.

Two states that Trump won by landslide margins, North Dakota and Wyoming, had the highest fatality rates of 12.5 and 12.0 per 100,000 workers, respectively — more than four times the death rates of most states that went for Clinton.

A key factor, experts say, is that red states tend to have a higher percentage of hazardous blue-collar jobs, while the more urbanized blue states have more white-collar and service jobs. “The big cities where Hillary got most of her votes are not where the foundries, the mills, the logging, the mines are,” said Adam Finkel, a former OSHA official now at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

And with the Trump Administration and Republican Congress pledging sweeping cuts to federal regulations, which they say will spur economic growth, some analysts warn that workers in states that voted for Trump could be in greater peril.

“Workers and citizens in states in which a majority voted for Trump have much to lose if the Trump Administration weakens enforcement or reduces support for health, safety and employment standards,” said professor Thomas A. Kochan, co-director of MIT’s Institute for Work and Employment Research. “Trump states have, on average, weaker state level laws and enforcement agencies than do states that have stronger Democratic histories.”

WorkplaceDeathsTableSince the relatively small number of workplace deaths can give rise to random variations, particularly in low population states, analysts caution against giving too much weight to the statistics. Nevertheless, the most recent data follow a pattern of death rates being higher in the South and Appalachia and lower in New England and the West Coast, said John Mendeloff, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

“Where workers are lower paid, not as skilled, easier to replace, that probably gives lesser incentives for safety to employers,” Mendeloff said. “In other words, the costs of accidents are lower.”

The pattern is strikingly similar to the link between state voting preferences in the November election and traffic death rates. As FairWarning reported earlier this month, the states that favored Trump consistently had higher traffic fatality rates than the states that backed Clinton.

Since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created in 1970 during the tenure of President Nixon, workplace deaths have shrunk nationwide from 38 a day to 13, agency data shows.

During that period, which also saw the enactment of such measures as the Mine Safety and Health Act, the death rate for miners has dropped by more than 75 percent, according to research by the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for low wage workers.

Although Trump’s controversial first nominee for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew and his replacement R. Alexander Acosta has yet to be confirmed, efforts to scale back workplace protections are already underway.

The Senate is expected to vote in coming days to strike down an Obama-era rule requiring businesses seeking federal contracts to disclose previous labor violations — anything from wage-and-hour abuses to workplace hazards. The move would come under the Congressional Review Act, which Republican lawmakers are using to target a number of environmental and health rules enacted during the Obama administration.

Also vulnerable is an OSHA regulation requiring companies to submit workplace injury rates for posting on the internet. Interest groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chicken Council last month filed suit in federal court in Oklahoma to have the measure overturned.

OSHA has yet to reply to the lawsuit, and it’s uncertain how, or if, the agency will defend the rule. But in a sign of the times, among the first people dispatched by the Trump administration to the Labor Dept. was longtime business lobbyist Geoffrey Burr, who as a vice president of Associated Builders and Contractors fought both the requirement for federal contractors to disclose labor violations and the electronic filing of injury rates.

Business groups contend that federal regulations are weighing down the economy. According to Eric J. Conn, a Washington D.C. attorney who specializes in defending OSHA cases, government rules “when taken collectively, can stifle job growth.”

Cutbacks in labor protections would reverse the approach of the Obama administration, which stepped up enforcement and upgraded safety standards for exposure to silica, beryllium and other hazards.

“If they start cutting back on enforcement and do fewer inspections, I think that will likely lead to more workplace deaths,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor in charge of OSHA during the Obama administration. “Many employers don’t need OSHA to motivate them to protect their workers, but others clearly do.”

“Where are the trenches and where are the derricks?” Finkel asked. “The hazards are in the red counties and so that’s where the death toll will rise if all of a sudden there was no enforcement or if there was a rollback of existing regulations.”

For whatever reason, workplace death rate statistics for 2015 almost precisely mirrored 2016 presidential voting results.

The only red state with a death rate lower than 3.0 was Arizona (2.4).

The lowest death rates were in dependably blue states ranging from the very largest to the very smallest, with California at 2.2, Washington and Massachusetts at 2.1, Delaware at 1.9 and Rhode Island at 1.2.

, FAIRWARNING

U.S. Politics

The Republican Party Must Find Its Moral Center Or Face Its Demise

The Republican Party Must Find Its Moral Center Or Face Its Demise

POLITICUS USA

The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.

The Party of Abraham Lincoln is no more and the Trump Russia scandal may not only destroy Donald Trump’s presidency but the entire Republican party.

The Party of Abraham Lincoln is no more and the Trump Russia scandal may not only destroy Donald Trump’s presidency but the entire Republican party.

As Russian smoke billows around Donald Trump and his scandal ridden swamp and as information slowly leaks into the public domain, Congressional Republicans double down on placing party before country.

This is nothing new and has been going on for years. Republicans in Congress have regularly put their party’s interests ahead of the common good and to the detriment of all but the wealthiest of Americans. Whether it is denying a living wage to workers and equal pay for women, perpetuating rape culture, or polluting the environment, Congressional Republicans can be found working hard against the interests of the American people and for their corporate donors.

The drive to put ideology and partisanship before people and country reached an unprecedented height last year when for the final year of President Barack Obama’s presidency his nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, was refused a hearing and a vote by Republicans in the Senate. Essentially stealing this seat on the high court from the president the American people overwhelming elected twice, these Republican Senators have not only hindered the work of the court but failed to uphold their constitutional duty. Wanting to preserve a conservative majority on the high court these Republicans would not hear of a consensus moderate like Garland nor would they want to give any victory to President Obama whom they sought to obstruct and delegitimize at every opportunity. Instead their aim is to preserve the status of corporate people per Citizens United and dial back women’s health care more than a generation in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade. It matters not that just the opposite (overturning Citizens United and preserving Roe v. Wade) is not only better policy but also reflects a moral center rooted in human dignity and equality.

The Republican Party’s moral center continued to crumble throughout Donald Trump’s campaign as with very few exceptions elected leaders were unwilling to speak out against his repeated spewing of hate and bigotry. His xenophobia and misogyny went largely unchallenged by the party even as it was striking fear in the hearts and minds of voters. Rather than challenge the rape culture caught on tape, Republicans went after a fake email scandal against Hillary Clinton and ignored known Russian hacking to the extent of relying on it to “win” the election.

In both the primaries and the general election Republicans showed their disdain for democracy and the right to vote through all kinds of voter suppression tactics. Apparently, it is not good for them when all the American people get to vote so they rely gerrymandering and vote suppression all the while trumpeting nonexistent voter fraud to justify their undemocratic and unjust policies that largely affect minorities whether persons of color, the elderly, the disabled, or people who are experiencing poverty and homelessness.

Following the swearing in of the new Congress, Republicans in both the House and the Senate wasted little time to begin efforts to seriously repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, despite its growing popularity among the American people, and the fact that repealing this law will take health care away from over 20 million Americans and cause everyone to pay more for less care. Repealing this law and replacing it with whatever secret plan the Republican Party is working on now is nothing less than a death sentence for tens of millions of Americans to say nothing of the chaos it will create in the health care markets and the lives of every American who must worry about their health and the cost of insurance and the care it provides.

Congressional Republicans reached a new apex in moral failure when they could not find the courage to vote against some of Donald Trump’s most highly questionable nominees for cabinet positions such as Betsy DeVoss, Jeff Sessions, Tom Price, and Rex Tillerson. No amount of inexperience or conflicts of interest or questionable qualifications swayed them from filling the swamp with the corrupt and corporate interest minded. Even multiple all-night sessions filled with passionate speeches by Senate Democrats did little to move the needle on Republican votes as the American people listened to great concerns be read into the Congressional record.

Still even after a historic Women’s March on Washington and a host of local town halls in which the American people are speaking in mass for the deepest moral values of our democracy and the basic human rights of all people, but especially now for immigrants and refugees, Jews and Muslims, gay and transgender people, women and people of color, Congressional Republicans remain unmoved in their party before county ideology.

Now less than fifty days into Donald Trump’s presidency this Republican moral failing has reached its apotheosis. Amid a growing amount of intelligence information that begs for an independent investigation into the Russian hacking of the election, Congressional Republicans continue to downplay this need. It seems now that these Republican leaders are showing more loyalty to a foreign dictator than they are to the citizens who elected them and the Constitution to which they swore an oath to uphold. And if there is any loyal left for this country it is beholden to corporate interests at the expense of public and planetary health.

As Sarah Jones recently tweeted we need to send American flag pins to our Republican Representatives and Senators to remind them to which country they have been elected and sworn an oath to serve.

flag-pins

Our democracy requires two functioning parties to work healthily. The American people are speaking out like never before in defense of our democracy from inside the intelligence community to farmers in the heartland. Americas are speaking up for the deepest shared moral values of our country with protests in the streets and unprecedented phone calls to Congress. Will the once great party of Abraham Lincoln ever hear their cry? I fear not.

U.S. Politics

Trump ally Roger Stone tweets — then deletes — he had “back channel” to WikiLeaks’ Assange

Trump ally Roger Stone tweets — then deletes — he had

Image Credit: Getty Images

POLICY.MIC

Amid a bizarre string of angry, misogynistic tweets on Saturday, President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and confidant Roger Stone claimed he had back-channel access to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose role in leaking embarrassing materials about Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign has been under fire.

WikiLeaks, which debuted as an internet clearinghouse for leaked intelligence and government documents in 2006, has drawn suspicion both for its defenses of Trump and its possible use by Russian intelligence assets as a way to leak hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Stone, who has admitted his previous contact with Assange, replied to a Twitter user with, “you stupid stupid bitch — never denied perfectly legal back channel to Assange who indeed had the goods on #CrookedHillary.”

He has since deleted the tweet.

As noted by the New York Times‘ Liam Stack, the diatribe was among several sent by Stone late Saturday evening. His tweets included levying legal threats at the same user, whom he called a “stupid ignorant ugly bitch,” and spreading rumors about an affair between two prominent Republican strategists.

snip

It’s a strange time for Stone to be bragging about foreign contacts who provided damaging info on Democrats and Clinton: In February, the New York Times reported Stone was among those in Trump’s orbit under investigation for rumored contacts with “senior Russian intelligence officials” during the election.

Meanwhile, Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned after it was leaked that he lied about a phone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also facing calls for his resignation after misrepresenting to Congress — while under oath — whether he, too, met with Kislyak.

As Stone hinted at prior knowledge of WikiLeaks’ possession of Democratic materials that intelligence agencies now say was stolen by the Russian government, Trump was applauding President Vladimir Putin on the campaign trail. Trump struck a friendly tone on U.S.-Russia relations that perplexed many of his GOP colleagues.

stone-ii

Notably, Stone also made headlines in January after he took to far-right website InfoWars to assert unknown parties had poisoned him with polonium, a highly radioactive substance linked to the assassination of former FSB and KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko. Reached for comment amid Trump’s inaugural festivities, Stone claimed he had submitted blood samples to a private lab — but said in a subsequent interview with Time that he had been in contact with the Centers for Disease Control.

Tom McKay

U.S. Politics

Trump’s Wiretap Claim Denied

Top Intelligence Officials Testify To Senate Committee On Hacking By Russia

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper | Joe Raedle—Getty Images

TIME

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denied in an interview Sunday President Trump’s claims that there was a court-ordered wiretap of Trump Tower prior to the 2016 election. “There was no such wiretap activity mounted,” Clapper said on NBC