November 19, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 9:23 PM


Man Who Threatened to 'Put a Bullet' in Rep. Omar Pleads Guilty (Ed Shanahan, 11/19/19, NY Times)

On Monday, Mr. Carlineo, of Addison, N.Y., outside of Buffalo, pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Ms. Omar, a Minnesota Democrat and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and to possessing guns illegally.

Ms. Omar responded to Mr. Carlineo's guilty plea in Federal District Court in Buffalo by urging leniency when he is sentenced.

In a letter she posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Ms. Omar addressed the judge who will sentence him, asking "for a system of compassion to be applied."

Posted by orrinj at 6:25 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:56 PM


Kurt Volker Revises Testimony and Says Corruption Allegations Against Biden Are 'Not Credible' (BILLY BINION, 11.19.2019, reason)

Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, testified in the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday afternoon, repeatedly remarking that allegations of corruption leveled at former Vice President Joe Biden are "not credible."

One of the Republicans' witnesses confirmed a quid pro quo on TV (Alex Ward,  Nov 19, 2019, Vox)

Under questioning from Democrats, Tim Morrison, the former top National Security Council official for Russia and European affairs, was asked to recall a September 1 conversation between US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and Ukraine official Andriy Yermak. That discussion has become central to the question of whether US military assistance to Kyiv was conditioned upon Ukraine opening investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden's family and other Democrats.

According to Morrison, it clearly was.

"What did Ambassador Sondland tell you that he told Mr. Yermak?" Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman asked Morrison. Morrison replied, "That the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted."

Posted by orrinj at 1:43 PM


Laundering White Nationalism: The Center for Immigration Studies is still giving cover for racist policy (Brendan O'Connor,  November 19, 2019, The Baffler)

At the time the leaked emails were sent, Miller was working for Jeff Sessions. They reveal that Miller pushed Breitbart to cover various CIS "studies" and promoted the work of specific CIS authors. Among them was Jason Richwine, an immigration restrictionist who was forced out of the Heritage Foundation in 2013 after the discovery that his dissertation argued Latinx people have lower IQs than white people. CIS has since seen fit to publish dozens of reports and blog posts by Richwine, who also remains a contributing writer at the National Review. Richwine's dissertation adviser, George Borjas, is himself a former CIS board member. Miller, the emails show, is a big fan of both; he cited their research as he worked to shape the way the Mercer-funded publication wrote about immigrants and immigration. His entreaties to the Breitbart editor are sprinkled with tactical flattery. "Elites can't allow the people to see that their condition is not the product of events beyond their control, but the product of policy they foisted onto them," Miller wrote. "They want people to feel helpless, retreat into their enclaves, and detach. Our job is to show people they can still control their destiny. Knowledge is the first step." Later that day, he added: "Btw - Bannon was praising your work on this to me again."

This trove of emails presents a problem for CIS, which has sued the SPLC over its designation of the think tank as a "hate group," claiming it was an attempt to financially destroy them. (The suit was thrown out by a federal judge.) This is because their function within the wider network of nativist organizations in the United States is to present itself as non-ideological, rigorous, and studied. CIS "avoids making harsh, dispositional attributions about the immigrants themselves, placing the focus instead on protecting popular American institutions, public services, and national goals," sociologists Joshua Woods, Jason Manning, and Jacob Matz wrote in a 2015 paper on the organization's "impression management" tactics. Rather than engaging in populist demagoguery, CIS "depersonalizes its claims against immigrants by attributing them not to people or even analysts, but rather to scientific facts," they argue, suggesting "that 'data' lead inevitably to conclusions about the negative effects of immigration."

When someone takes those conclusions to their logical, violent endpoint, CIS executive director Mark Krikorian only shrugs. "If you have a guy who is going to be angry about immigration, have a killer offering reasons for shooting up immigrants, how could he not use reasons that have already been articulated by legitimate sources?" Krikorian told the Washington Post after the massacre in El Paso. "There's only so many concerns about immigration," he said. "Of course he's going to articulate reasons that already have been spelled out in great detail by immigration skeptics. I don't know how you avoid that." (Krikorian did not respond to my interview request.)

What's more, Woods, Manning, and Matz found, CIS made no mention of the influential nativist John Tanton, without whom it would not exist, in any public-facing documents until a 2009 SPLC report revealed the extent of Tanton's ties to white nationalists, eugenicists, and anti-Semites. At first, Krikorian and his associates attempted to deflect the issues raised by SPLC, accusing them of waging a smear campaign and infringing upon the think tank's right to free speech--somewhat ironic, given its recent legal efforts against the Montgomery-based nonprofit. Before long, however, Jerry Kammer, a fellow at CIS, went on to publish a lengthy and contemplative piece about the controversy, admitting that Tanton was "one of several individuals who were instrumental in starting the Center for Immigration Studies."

Tanton was not merely instrumental; he was integral. In 1985, CIS was spun off from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which Tanton had founded six years prior, "for reasons of independence from the lobbying organization," as he put it in a 1988 memo. But it was also because his biggest donor, Cordelia Scaife May, and her longtime advisor Gregory Curtis wanted him to. According to another memo, written by one of Tanton's assistants, May "would prefer to fund the same projects under different organizations rather than giving huge chunks of money to one group." Between 2005 and 2017, the late May's Colcom Foundation, to which she left the bulk of her estate, gave CIS $17.6 million.

One of May's (and later Tanton's) non-CIS projects was funding the republication and distribution of The Camp of the Saints, a racist French novel that is essentially a dramatization of the "Great Replacement" (or "white genocide") conspiracy theory.

Posted by orrinj at 1:27 PM

Posted by orrinj at 1:11 PM


The GOP counsel's xenophobic attack on Vindman's patriotism:Perhaps the grossest moment of the impeachment hearings to date. (Zack Beauchamp,   Nov 19, 2019, Vox)

Steve Castor, the Republican attorney, tried to [discredit him) by asking Vindman about a visit to Ukraine for Zelensky's inauguration earlier this year. He specifically focused on a job offer Vindman received from Oleksandr Danylyuk, the former head of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council. Apparently, Danylyuk offered Vindman an opportunity to become Ukraine's defense minister three times during the trip -- and, each time, Vindman declined.

"Upon returning, I notified chain of command and the appropriate counterintelligence folks about this, the offer," Vindman said.

But Castor wasn't satisfied. He continued to press Vindman on whether he ever considered the offer, resulting in an exchange in which he appeared to call Vindman's patriotism into question:

CASTOR: Ukraine's a country that's experienced a war with Russia. Certainly their minister of defense is a pretty key position for the Ukrainians. President Zelensky, Mr. Danylyuk, to bestow that honor -- at least asking you -- that was a big honor, correct?

VINDMAN: I think it would be a great honor, and frankly I'm aware of service members that have left service to help nurture developing democracies in that part of the world. It was an Air Force officer that became minister of defense, but I'm an American. I came here when I was a toddler. And I immediately dismissed these offers. Did not entertain them.

CASTOR: When he made this offer to you initially, did you leave the door open? Was there a reason he had to come back and ask a second or third time?

VINDMAN: Counselor, you know what, the whole notion is rather comical that I was being asked to consider whether I'd want to be the minister of defense. I did not leave the door open at all.

CASTOR: Okay. But it is pretty funny for a lieutenant colonel of the United States Army, which really isn't that senior, to be offered that illustrious a position. When he made this offer to you, was he speaking in English or Ukrainian?

VINDMAN: He is an absolutely flawless English speaker.

Castor is arguing that Vindman's loyalties were strained by repeated job offers from the Ukrainians, but also that Vindman was offered a prestigious position that he doesn't deserve (he "isn't really that senior") seemingly because of his background. Castor then highlights Vindman's Ukrainian language skills, reminding everyone that he's foreign-born. The insinuation, that Vindman's background makes him an unreliable witness to Trump's malfeasance, is reasonably clear. his uniform, which stands for everything their leader despises.

Posted by orrinj at 12:58 PM


What do Republican voters want? (Matt Continetti, November 15, 2019, free Beacon)

Rubio and Hawley speak for--and hope to appeal to--the segment of the electorate that the 2017 Pew Research Center political typology identified as "Market Skeptic Republicans." The senators' political logic: Market Skeptic Republicans are the fulcrum on which Trump's fate, and that of the GOP, depends.


On the other hand, Market Skeptic Republicans, who support increased taxes on corporations and say the system is rigged in favor of the rich, are just 12 percent of registered voters and 10 percent of the politically engaged (defined as registered voters who follow politics closely and participate in elections regularly).

Three other groups make up the GOP. "Core Conservatives" are traditional Republicans. "Country First Conservatives" are older than other GOP-leaning groups, have fewer bachelor's degrees, and oppose immigration and involvement overseas. "New Era Enterprisers" are younger, more diverse, pro-immigration, and pro-business.

Together, Core Conservatives and New Era Enterprisers comprise 26 percent of registered voters and 29 percent of the politically engaged. They provide the dominant Republican discourse. The Country First Conservatives and Market Skeptic Republicans supply the critique. As interesting and novel as this critique may be--and perhaps because it is so interesting and novel--it is easy to commit the fallacy of composition and mistake the market-skeptical part for the whole.

It might be argued that, because Core Conservatives and New Era Enterprisers are more reliable GOP constituencies, Market Skeptics are the ones Republicans have to court. But recent elections amply demonstrate that the party does not have a solid lock on college-degree-holding, suburban-dwelling Core Conservatives after all. On the contrary: It is the flight of these voters from the GOP that is responsible for Democratic victories in 2018 and 2019. A thriving party includes all four types.

Public opinion data reveal a Republican Party that, while highly supportive of President Trump, is wary of his behavior, ambivalent over his legacy, and consistent in its beliefs.

A March 2019 poll conducted by Heritage Action found that 52 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement: "I am bothered by some of President Trump's policies and character, but I support him because I agree with many of the things he stands for, and because I don't want the media and the Democrats to defeat him." Sixty-two percent of Republicans identified as either a member of the traditional GOP or a member of the conservative movement. Thirty-two percent identified as part of the Trump movement.

This vocal minority coexists uneasily with more numerous party regulars. An October Morning Consult survey asked 1,218 registered Republicans to name their favorite Republican. Forty-one percent said Ronald Reagan. Thirty-three percent said Donald Trump. "Reagan Republicans are wealthier than Trump Republicans, more highly educated and are more likely to identify as Christian," write Eli Yokley and Joanna Piacenza.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Secretive energy startup backed by Bill Gates achieves solar breakthrough (Matt Egan, November 19, 2019, CNN Business)

Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Essentially, Heliogen created a solar oven -- one capable of reaching temperatures that are roughly a quarter of what you'd find on the surface of the sun.

The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.

"We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions," Bill Gross, Heliogen's founder and CEO, told CNN Business. "And that's really the holy grail."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Southern Workers Unite Around Medicare for All: "A Tremendous Liberation From Your Boss" (JONATHAN MICHELS, 11/19/19, In These Times)

Although unionized workers typically have access to some type of employer-based insurance (and often pay less in deductibles than nonunion workers), skyrocketing premiums and poor coverage continue to ignite unrest in all types of workplaces. An estimated 23.6 million U.S. workers with employer-based coverage spend at least 10% or more of their income on premiums and out-of-pocket costs, while wages remain stagnant. According to a new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average worker contribution for family coverage increased 25% since 2014 to a whopping $6,015 annually.

In Charlotte, Dominic Harris, 31, works as a utility technician and also serves as president of the Charlotte City Workers Union. Without Harris and his fellow workers, the gilded financial hub nicknamed Wall Street of the South could not function.

"We only have something to gain," Harris says. Harris and other members of the SWA make it clear this is a worker-led fight to sever the chain between healthcare and employers.

Harris and other members of the SWA made it clear they do not see this as a fight for a handout; it's a worker-led fight for a universal health program to sever the chain between healthcare and employers.

"Having Medicare for All is a tremendous liberation from your boss," says Ed Bruno, former Southern regional director of NNU. that people currently have their own insurance.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'The Hill' Is Reviewing Solomon's Ukraine Conspiracy Stories (Media Matters November 19, 2019)

Fox News contributor John Solomon, formerly a columnist and executive vice president for The Hill, has emerged in the impeachment hearings as a key figure who pushed conspiracy theories that President Donald Trump used to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political opponent. The Hill's Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack announced on Monday morning that the outlet will be reviewing and correcting Solomon's columns as necessary.

In his columns, Solomon repeatedly laundered disinformation from Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to push the false narrative that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election on Democrats' behalf, smeared former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and falsely claim that former Vice President Joe Biden withheld aid to Ukraine to shut down an investigation into a company his son Hunter was associated with . Multiple witnesses have testified in the impeachment inquiry that Solomon's columns contained information that was made up and were based on "non-truths."

Dude's gotta make a buck and the Trumpbots are willing dupes.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Possible pay-to-play scheme for ambassador role in Trump administration uncovered by CBS News (CBS News, Nov 18, 2019)

Mr. Trump tweeted, "I would also like to thank 'Papa' Doug Manchester, hopefully the next Ambassador to the Bahamas, for the incredible amount of time, money and passion he has spent on helping to bring safety to the Bahamas."

Three days after the tweet, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel hit up Manchester for a donation. It was no small sum. In an email, obtained exclusively by CBS News, she asked Manchester, "Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?"

"Did you feel like they were putting the arm on you?" Axelrod asked.

"No, I didn't. That's part of politics. It's unbelievable. You give and you give and you give and you give some more and more and more," Manchester said.

"Does any part of you feel if you had just cut the check for $500,000 that you would be the ambassador to the Bahamas?" Axelrod asked.

"No, because first of all, you have to get out of committee and you have to be voted on the floor," Manchester said. "It's a big process."

The Senate confirmation process is exactly what Manchester quickly addressed. He wrote back to McDaniel's request for $500,000, "As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote ... Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!"

"You know what this looks like," Axelrod said.

Looks can be confirming.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump's still pushing the CrowdStrike conspiracy theory: But why, and where did it come from?: Republicans are probably just pretending to believe's Trump's crazy 2016 conspiracy theory. But that's no excuse (BOB CESCA, NOVEMBER 19, 2019, Salon)

The new-ish Trump Republican theory about Ukraine and the Democratic National Committee goes like this: The Democrats teamed up with the cyber-security firm CrowdStrike to hack the DNC server in 2016 in order to frame Russia, while also somehow sabotaging Trump's campaign. A key component to this theory is the false claim that CrowdStrike's founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is Ukrainian.

According to witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, Trump and his lackeys attempted to extort from Ukraine an investigation into both the Bidens and the CrowdStrike allegations in exchange for U.S. military aid necessary to help fight off the Russian invaders in the eastern Donbass region.

Not surprisingly, the CrowdStrike theory is 100 percent, unpasteurized nincompoopery. (Reportedly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky didn't know what Trump was talking about; his aides had to look up this nonsense on the internet.)

Let's start here: CrowdStrike's Alperovitch isn't Ukrainian. He's a U.S. citizen, born in Russia. The theory gets flimsier from here.

It's also worth noting that CrowdStrike was the firm that initially discovered the hacking of the DNC, as well as the other fronts of the attack, which was conducted by the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU, as well as the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, each acting on orders from the Kremlin. (Both those entities were later indicted by Robert Mueller's prosecutors.) Here's another fact that undermines CrowdStrike's alleged relationship with the Democrats: The firm was also hired by the National Republican Congressional Committee after a hacking attempt during the 2018 midterms.

To be clear, the Russian attack against the 2016 election has been unequivocally confirmed by all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, the Mueller report, and the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Sen, Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican.

Not one reputable organization has debunked or even disputed the fact that Russia attacked the 2016 election in order to help Donald Trump win the election -- other than Trump and his Republican Party, of course, neither of which can be considered "reputable." 

Making matters worse, according to the intelligence community and Burr's Senate committee, as well as both FBI Director Chris Wray and Robert Mueller, each during sworn testimony, the Russian attack against our national sovereignty and the integrity of our electoral system is ongoing and aimed squarely at the 2020 election as well. 

The origins of the theory

How did this conspiracy theory begin? The answer to that question serves to further highlight the absurdity of it all. 

It comes as no surprise that it all began with a former student of the Russian GRU and infamous Paul Manafort fixer, Konstantin Kilimnik, back in the summer of 2016. According to testimony by indicted Manafort co-conspirator Rick Gates, the Ukraine-CrowdStrike counter-narrative was being developed and pitched around by Manafort while he was still serving as Trump's campaign chair. He was told about the theory by Kilimnik. Gates also testified that Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, who has since pled guilty for lying to the FBI, also marketed the theory. 

The Trumpbots believe so many idiocies it's hard to give them "credit" for expedient lying.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM



The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, has emerged as one of the most prominent players in the impeachment inquiry threatening to take down his boss and benefactor, President Donald Trump.

Sondland is one of the so-called "Three Amigos"--along with Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker--accused of running the White House's parallel Ukraine strategy designed to bolster Trump's personal political fortunes, rather than build bilateral relations with Kiev.

The ambassador is central to the question of whether Trump sought a quid pro quo with Ukraine, exchanging frozen military aid for an investigation into likely 2020 rival Joe Biden.

But according to former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, Sondland's appointment to the Trump administration is a perfect example of exchanging "private resources for a public office."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Source says Republican lawmakers 'shaken' by US official in Kiev's testimony (Jamie Gangel and Kristen Holmes, 11/18/19, CNN)

David Holmes -- who will testify publicly as part of the House impeachment inquiry -- said in closed-door testimony last week that US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland had told Trump that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "loves your ass" and that Ukraine was going to move forward with the investigation Trump had asked Zelensky for a day earlier. Holmes said he was able to overhear the conversation due to the volume of Trump's voice while he sat with Sondland at a restaurant in Kiev.

According to the GOP congressional source, that testimony led several GOP lawmakers to express frustration that Sondland would place a call to the President in a public restaurant, and are concerned that Holmes' testimony was the most convincing argument for Trump's direct involvement in the campaign to pressure Ukraine.

We're three years in, were they shocked by the corruption or the ineptitude of the criminals?

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump's Tupelo Visit Boosted Dems More Than GOP in Northeast Mississippi (Ashton Pittman, November 18, 2019, Jackson Free Press)

President Donald Trump's visit to Tupelo earlier this month may have boosted Mississippi Democrats more than Republicans in the northeast part of the state, Chism Strategies, one of the state's top polling and political strategy firms, says. The president's Nov. 1 visit boosted Republican voter turnout in Northeast Mississippi by 5%, but gave Democrats in the region a 12% boost, the firm's Brad Chism wrote in an "Open Letter to Mississippi Democrats" late last week.

It's Official: Dem Shanda Yates Ousts 32-Year Republican in Mississippi House (Ashton Pittman, November 18, 2019, Jackson Free Press)

Shanda Yates, a 38-year-old Jackson-area attorney, has ousted Billy Denny, a top Republican in the Mississippi House of Representatives who first won his seat in 1987--when Yates was just 6 years old. The Democratic political newcomer beat the longtime House District 64 incumbent by about 51% to 49%, the Hinds County Election Commission confirmed to the Jackson Free Press after finishing counting provisional ballots on Monday.

In 2015's legislative elections, Democrats did not even field a challenger in House District 64, which includes a precinct in Madison County.