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In secret Facebook group, Border Patrol agents mocked migrant deaths, shared lewd jokes about AOC

ProPublica has just revealed the findings of its investigation into a secret Facebook group made up of almost 10,000 border patrol agents. According to ProPublica, the conversations posted on that Facebook group are not simply offensive, they reveal the dark brutality and callousness of a group of enforcement officers charged with securing our country?s southern border. The group is called ?I?m 10-15,? after the code for ?aliens in custody.? Some of the posts include:

  • A vulgar illustration of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being forced by Donald Trump to engage in oral sex with the president, text reading ?That's right bitches. The masses have spoken and today democracy won. I have returned. To everyone who knows the real me and had my back I say thank you. To everyone else? This is what I have to say.....?
  • A post concerning the death of a 16-year-old boy from Guatemala who died after being detained in a DHS contracted facility. The responses include GIFs saying ?Oh well,? as well as other soulless commentary like ?If he dies, he dies.?
  • Frequent comments calling female representatives touring border facilities ?bitches,? and ?hoes,? and ?scum buckets,? and other intense sexism and misogyny.
  • One member jokes about throwing a ?10-15 burrito at one of these bitches,? referring to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Veronica Escobar.

Probably the saddest and most telling is a post showing the now-viral photo of a father and his young child lying face down after drowning in the Rio Grande, a casualty of our current policies. The accompanying text on the post tells you the kind of minds that are protecting our nation.


Trump's GOP allies prep conspiracy extravaganza for Mueller testimony

When Robert Mueller appears before the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on July 17, Democrats will be scrapping for any new nugget of information while Republicans prosecute a conspiracy-laden smear campaign.

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, for instance, told Politico that Mueller must answer for the "irreparable damage" he?s caused. To Gohmert, the special counsel's report simply "reinforced the anal opening that I believe Mueller to be.?

Expect dogged Trump allies like Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Matt Gaetz of Florida, and Devin Nunes of California to hatch whatever they can dream up to muddy up the facts of Mueller?s meticulously investigated 448-page report. One tact they plan on taking is to grill Mueller on when exactly he concluded he couldn't charge any Americans with conspiracy in an effort to imply that Mueller allowed the conspiracy chatter to fester longer than necessary.

"Did he intentionally wait until after 2018 midterms, or what?? Jordan wonders, though Politico notes they have "no evidence" to back up such a claim. They're just going to go on a public fishing expedition during the hearing.

They will also try to exploit the bogus claims that Mueller's team was chock full of angry Democrats just trying to settle a score with Trump. So expect lots of talk about former  FBI agent Peter Strzok and the texts he exchanged with then-FBI attorney Lisa Page.

And finally, don't forget the infamous Steele Dossier, which is referenced about a dozen times in the redacted version of Mueller's tome. Republicans have spent the entirety of Trump's presidency unsuccessfully trying to make the case that the FBI premised its inquiry on Christopher Steele?s document. But no matter how many hundreds of classified documents they made public, they were never able to find a foundation for that baseless theory. Nothing like a public hearing to give it another go. 


As the debate dust settles, Democratic primary is looking primed for a shake-up

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders remain at the top of the Democratic presidential primary polls, but their positions are looking a lot shakier than just a few weeks ago. Elizabeth Warren?s move up in the polls had started to show that the race wasn?t settled, a strong debate performance by Warren heightened the effect ? and then Kamala Harris blew it open by taking on Biden directly in the debate.

?There?d been this whole not-so-subtle electability argument,? former Cynthia Nixon adviser Rebecca Katz said. ?That one-two punch [from Warren and Harris] showed not only that women can hold their own, but they can smoke ?em.?

The other candidates are seeing the opening: Politico reports that ?Advisers to at least six other presidential campaigns told POLITICO that Harris? successful ambush of Biden, in particular, suggested an opening for other candidates, as well.? That?s not just happening in private, either. Sen. Cory Booker said Sunday, ?Whoever our nominee is going to be, whoever the next president is going to be, really needs to be someone who can talk openly and honestly about race with vulnerability,? and ?I'm not sure if Vice President Biden is up to that task, given the way this last three weeks have played out.?

In (extremely) short, game on.


This is real: Trump campaign attempting to gain Latino voter support

The most remarkable thing about the Trump campaign?s efforts to increase Latino support is that he actually has Latino and Hispanic support, as high as 34% in Florida, with its large Cuban community. The second-most remarkable thing about this story is that Trump was "shocked to hear" from Doug Deason, a prominent donor, that Hispanic voters don't believe Trump loves them and is working for them.

The third-most astonishing thing is that the 2020 Trump campaign has decided that it can make gains in the Latino and Hispanic communities and is hiring up and spending ad money to do just that. They're spending ad money in Florida; Trump has done his first interview with Telemundo; and Vice President Pence launched "Latinos for Trump" last week, while the picture of a drowned toddler and her father at the border was dominating the news coverage. While we were learning that children in the administration?s concentration camps had been denied even basics such as soap and toothbrushes. "All Americans everywhere draw inspiration from the Latino Americans' steadfast love of liberty," Pence said at the launch. And nothing speaks to Trump's commitment to liberty for Latinos and Hispanics like ripping little children from their parents' arms and putting them in cages where they are forced to lie in their own filth.

The campaign believes Trump can make his case to these voters on the basis of his economic performance. One of his longtime friends, Chris Ruddy, says that it's all just a matter of Trump "being a little more open on some of these immigration issues," and that he doesn't need to win everyone over, just "move the needle." It will also require a gag to keep Trump from opening his mouth and perhaps also the departure of one of Trump's most trusted advisers, white supremacist Stephen Miller, who seems to spend most of his time dreaming up new ways of torturing would-be immigrants.

It would also require a bout of collective amnesia in the Spanish-language community about the whole of Trump's first term. Melissa Mark-Viverito, the interim president of the liberal Latino Victory Fund, is predicting record Latino voter turnout against him in 2020. "Every day, it's an onslaught against our community. We know we're under attack. We know nothing good is going to come out of a second term of this administration," she said. The idea that he's now going to try to reach out to the community is "a slap in our face."


Trump demands tanks on the Mall as part of his quest to make the Fourth of July all about himself

Donald Trump?s plans to make Washington, D.C.?s Fourth of July celebration all about him are moving forward, though it?s hard to really call them plans. More of a spoiled child?s wish list that government officials are trying to figure out how to deal with. With just days to go, the National Park Service and the Pentagon are grappling with Trump's demand for tanks stationed around the Mall.

Trump has already demanded, and will get, a flyover by military aircraft and a Blue Angels show. Tanks have been on his wish list since he saw a Bastille Day parade, but the tank-filled 2018 Veterans? Day parade he wanted didn?t happen amid concerns about cost and damage to District streets by the heavy vehicles, both relevant concerns this week as well. One reason everything is so confused three days ahead of the planned event is that Trump himself is micromanaging it to fit his ego, rather than designating a professional event planner to set the details.

This whole thing is so egregious on so many levels. As the head of the Coalition to Protect America?s National Parks told The Washington Post, ?It?s irresponsible to ask the National Park Service to absorb the costs of an additional and political event when there are so many unmet needs in the parks.? You know, needs like dealing with wildfire damage and accommodating hundreds of millions of visitors.

Then there?s the wannabe military dictator flavor to it all, with Trump taking a longstanding D.C. celebration, adding huge amounts of military hardware, and making it all about himself. It?s grotesque, it?s irresponsible, and it?s more than a little scary.


El Paso border facility had conditions so awful the agents feared an uprising

The Trump administration insists that the reports of horrific conditions in migrant detention centers are ?unsubstantiated,? but the Department of Homeland Security?s inspector general substantiated the reports before they even came out. Back in May, the DHS watchdog said conditions in one El Paso border patrol facility ?were so bad that border agents were arming themselves against possible riots,? NBC?s Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff report.

There were four showers for 756 immigrants. There were 155 men in a cell with a maximum capacity of 35, with one toilet and one sink and no room to lie down to sleep. Disease, lice, and scabies were rampant. Migrants are supposed to be held at border stations for a maximum of 72 hours, but two-thirds of the people at this facility had been there for longer. Those are the conditions that had border agents worried about?and armed against?an uprising.

You have to wonder how many higher-ups in the Trump administration are hoping for riots in a detention center, to use to justify further brutality against migrants. But, the report says, it?s taking a toll on the on-the-ground agents dealing with this day in and day out: ?The current situation where immigrants are simply giving themselves up to the border patrol [and border patrol must detain] is causing low morale and high anxiety. They are seeing more drinking, domestic violence and financial problems among their agents.? And those are people who signed up to work as border patrol agents to begin with.


Trump administration considers scaling back its North Korea ambitions, but Trump's lies stay big

While Donald Trump was becoming the first U.S. president to go into North Korea, the Trump administration may be scaling back its ambitions with the country, from complete denuclearization to a nuclear freeze that accepts North Korea as a nuclear power. It isn?t admitting that publicly, but The New York Times reports that, in the idea beginning to come together, ?American negotiators would seek to expand on Mr. Kim?s offer in Hanoi in February to give up the country?s main nuclear-fuel production site, at Yongbyon, in return for the most onerous sanctions against the country being lifted.?

That offer to give up Yongbyon would need to be significantly expanded for a deal to be any kind of win for Trump, since North Korea by now has nuclear capability at many other sites. It would, on the other hand, be a chance for Trump to claim to have accomplished something other than getting a dictator to meet with him.

Trump is trying to claim that as a win, though. Although the meetings between the two countries? leaders have done Kim Jong Un more favors than they have Trump, Trump is claiming that ?President Obama wanted to meet, and Chairman Kim would not meet him. The Obama administration was begging for a meeting. They were begging for meetings constantly, and Chairman Kim would not meet with him.? A series of former Obama officials pushed back immediately and forcefully. Susan Rice, the former national security adviser, called it ?horseshit,? with agreement from George W. Bush?s CIA director, Michael Hayden. Former director of national intelligence James Clapper elaborated, saying, ?In all the deliberations that I participated in on North Korea during the Obama administration, I can recall no instance whatever where President Obama ever indicated any interest whatsoever in meeting with Chairman Kim.?

Gee, Donald Trump lying. Who would have thought?

Democratic presidential candidates responded to Trump?s North Korea posturing with a combination of questions, criticism, and outright eye-rolling. ?I?m not quite sure why this president is so bent on elevating the profile of a dictator,? Julián Castro told CNN. ?It?s all symbolism, it?s not substance.? ?Despite three years of almost bizarre foreign policy from this president, this country is no safer when it comes to North Korea,? said former Rep. Beto O?Rourke.


Trump steps into North Korea: Another photo-op moment for a photo-op presidency

On Sunday, Donald Trump met North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for a photo-op handshake in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. On his own initiative, Trump crossed the line into North Korea in order to stand with Kim, becoming the first United States president to ever enter the country.

That camera-friendly movement was all Trump was looking for. Trump had highlighted his intention to visit the DMZ the previous day, inviting Kim to join him for a "handshake"; whether his entreaties were a(nother) show of administration goodwill towards the dictator or an attention-seeking move aimed at the American press is, as always, open to interpretation. Trump has been increasingly bitter about the lack of credit given to him for, after belittling the North Korean "Rocket Man" and tweeting threats of "fire and fury" on the Korean peninsula, allegedly making more progress towards peace than any president before him.

It is clear that he has settled on a negotiated settlement with North Korea as the victory that would set him above those past presidents and, at long last, demonstrate his greatness; his escalating flattery of Kim and continued push for top-level meetings in which he, personally, can be seen as the face of negotiations have in the past half-year begun to smell more strongly of desperation.

The problem for Trump is that he engages with every issue as a photo-op, a bit of self-manufactured grandeur to brighten the lives of the common rabble. From tax policies to health care to war, he shows distain for learning any but the barest details of the product he has been summoned to sell. He waltzes through each scene with the nihilistic pep of a talk show host promoting his latest sponsor, or a too-important actor popping out of his trailer to say his three lines and stomping back in again. Everything is Biggest, or Greatest, or the Most Big League. Everything is a sales pitch. Everything, all the time, is a sales pitch.

The problem for the rest of us is that Trump's obsession with the sales pitch fits extraordinarily well with the North Korean leadership's own most pressing needs. The nation's leaders seek legitimacy on the world stage that can be used to justify the hardships they demand of the rest of the nation; Trump has not only granted it, but repeatedly fallen over himself to do it. North Korea seeks pictures in which Kim Jong Un, a murderous figure who governs the entire nation as work camp, is portrayed as the equal of superpowers; Trump all but begs Kim to allow him to personally grant the favor.


Morning Digest: Anti-Pelosi Democrat running for president picks up a primary opponent back at home

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

Leading Off

? MA-06: On Thursday, women's health advocate Jamie Zahlaway Belsito announced that she would challenge Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton in the Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District. This seat, which includes Salem, Lynn, and other communities north of Boston, backed Hillary Clinton 56-38, and it should stay blue without much trouble no matter what happens in the primary.

Campaign Action

Belsito argued that Moulton is neglecting his constituents while he runs for president, declaring, "It is time to make the people of the 6th Congressional District the top priority." Belsito also went after Moulton for criticizing Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is one of his many White House rivals. Belsito argued, "During a time where we are being desperately underrepresented, he has chosen to single out and attack our own sitting U.S. senator, seeking to score political points, which exemplifies his disconnect from our district, and our commonwealth."

Belsito runs a group that brings attention to postpartum depression, and GOP Gov. Charlie Baker recently appointed her to the Salem State University Board of Trustees. Belsito opened a fundraising account in April, but she only just confirmed that she would run for this seat.

Moulton has said that he'd seek a fourth term if his White House bid falters, but he could be in for a rough homecoming. Moulton angered progressives across the nation late last year when he led an unsuccessful campaign to keep Nancy Pelosi from returning to the speaker's chair, and his longshot presidential bid may not help his standing at home.


Cartoon: The return of the detective-president

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Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Embarrassing America, selling out human rights

Margaret Sullivan/WaPo:

Trump joking with Putin over eliminating journalists is a betrayal of America. So is ignoring it.

In the past couple of weeks, President Trump has accused the New York Times of ?a virtual act of treason? because of an accurate story he didn?t like. It reported that the United States ?is stepping up digital incursions into Russia?s electric power grid.?

And he?s been credibly accused of rape by a well-known magazine journalist, to which he responded that it never happened and what?s more, she was ?not my type.?

Apparently deadened by the constant barrage of outrages and scandals surrounding him, Congress and many Americans don?t seem to care about any of it.

So there?s absolutely no reason to think that what happened between the president of the United States and Russian leader Vladi­mir Putin on Friday will make a difference or change minds.

But it really should.

According to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs, who was traveling with the president to the G-20 summit in Osaka, Trump ?bonded with Putin? over his scorn for journalists. She quoted their exchange in a tweet:

?Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn?t it?? Trump said. ?You don?t have this problem in Russia, but we do.

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Cheers and Jeers: Monday

From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE

What Made Trump Look Like an Even Bigger Jackass in June

Last month's contribution to Bullshit Mountain?

The moon

Meghan Markle

London's mayor

The Prince of Whales

Christian booksellers

The D-Day proclamation

Dead Ayatollah Khomeini

His sniveling, evil son-in-law

His new adversary: Fox News

His former Secretary of state

His former campaign manager

The pastor of McLean Bible Church

The terrorist wearing the wardrobe

His knowledge of pending legislation

His brand-new, already ex-border czar

World Cup soccer star Megan Rapinoe

His abusive former acting Defense Secretary

The bond market's evaporated "Trump bump"

His love affair with the Butcher of Saudi Arabia

His love affair with the Butcher of North Korea

Ruthless gangster and MAGA fan Whitey Bulger

The Laffer Curve he traveled through time to study

Bibi's gift of a "Trump Heights" town that doesn?t exist

Sorry about the smell.

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


Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!

Hello, and Happy July! We?re back once again with our live show. Were there any large gatherings of Democratic presidential hopefuls that materially changed the 2020 outlook while we were gone?

I left Greg Dworkin in charge of watching the debates while I was away, so he can probably tell us what?s up punditry-wise since then. Remind me to tune in for that part. I gotta find out what happened.

And of course, Trump traveled overseas, to that means there are fifty-something disasters that require untangling. Should be a full day/week!

Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!

PODCAST LISTENERS: There?s a new podcast platform in town, and the big news is: this one pays! RadioPublic pays podcast producers at $20 CPM for listens on their native app (available for iPhones & Androids), financed by pre- and post-roll ads they insert. Not a bad way to support the show, with somebody else?s money!

So if you?re a podcast listener, please consider downloading the RadioPublic app on your Android or iOS phone. Yes, you can still download directly from their site, or listen to the player embedded here at Daily Kos. But it?s listens in their app that count toward payment. And get this: listen to just three episodes in their app, and we earn a one-time, $1 ?loyal listener? bonus.

Nothing changes on our end. It?s still Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando. Plus also, me. And you! As always, we still want your voice on the air with us. Sit down with your smart phone or other electronic recording device and send us your stories and commentary to share with the audience. There?s no easier way to try your hand at podcasting, without all the hassle!

Of course there?s no substitute for having your support via Patreon, or one-time contributions via Square Cash. (And hey, if you want a cool trick for donating sorta-kinda cost free, get their cash.me app and use this share code to get $5 in your account (plus $5 in mine) when you send your first $5 (to anyone)!

For now, how about one on the house? Here?s what we did on our last show:

David Waldman continues his embargo on Democratic debate takeaways, but he didn?t skimp on providing an ALL-NEW Kagro in the Morning! Sure, some of it is from vintage 2015 recordings, but they remain new to us! Anyhow, if you had heard back it then, you?d have no idea how prescient it is right now: Back in 2015, with Hillary Rodham Clinton soon to be elected as the the first female President in US history, reality show lunatic Donald Trump proposed an inane scheme to round up 11 million immigrants, costing the US hundreds of billions of dollars, an unimaginable expansion of authoritarianism just for the satisfaction of a handful of vindictive racists?. So, uhm, what if Trump won?t accept 2020 defeat, and instead refuses to leave office? Meanwhile, Donald added another million to his golf tab with a visit to Trump National Doral. Taxpayers paid him to do it, as did campaign donors, influence peddlers, even golfers. Ivanka Trump made almost $4 million from Trump Washington hotel last year. Trump?s official in charge of diplomacy carried a whip to office to intimidate staff. As Jamal Khashoggi?s bone-saw murder at the hands of Saudis comes more and more into focus, it?s not getting prettier. Quick-thinking residents of Ostritz, Germany, bought up hundreds of crates of beer to keep them away from Neo-Nazis at their rally.

Thanks to Scott Anderson for the show summary! Please help me pay him more!
Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.


Open thread for night owls: Sen. Sanders was not exaggerating about three billionaires' wealth

At Thursday night?s Democratic debate in Miami, Sen. Bernie Sanders noted that three billionaires have as much wealth as the bottom half of the U.S. population. Some critics no doubt assumed this was democratic socialist hyperbole being spouted by the only presidential candidate who puts that label on himself. However, as fact-checkers at mainstream media quickly found out if they didn?t already know, that assertion is spot on. The inequality skew, as critics have pointed out for more than a decade, is now as bad as it was 90 years ago, in 1929, just before the Great Depression got rolling. And there are no signs that it?s going to get any better, certainly not with the accumulation of still more millions by the ultra-wealthy as a consequence of the Trump tax changes. 

Not quite two years ago, the Institute for Policy Studies released a study on the 400 wealthiest Americans?Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us, a comparison of megarich with the meager wealth of other segments of our nation. The data come from the 2017 Forbes 400 and the Federal Reserve?s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances. Here are the key findings:

  • The three wealthiest people in the United States?Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett?now own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 160 million people or 63 million households.
  • America?s top 25 billionaires?a group the size of a major league baseball team?s active roster?together hold $1 trillion in wealth. These 25 have as much wealth as 56 percent of the population, a total 178 million people or 70 million households.
  • The billionaires who make up the full Forbes 400 list now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the U.S. population, an estimated 80 million households or 204 million people?more people than the populations of Canada and Mexico combined.
  • The median American family has a net worth of $80,000, excluding the family car. The Forbes 400 own more wealth than 33 million of these typical American families.
  • One in five U.S households, over 19 percent, have zero or negative net worth. ?Underwater households? make up an even higher share of households of color. Over 30 percent of black households and 27 percent of Latino households have zero or negative net worth to fall back on.

These figures underestimate our current levels of wealth concentration. The growing use of offshore tax havens and legal trusts has made the concealing of assets more widespread than ever before.

Contrary to the perspective of the keepers of the status quo, a wealth tax and a return to higher marginal tax rate for the richest among us are not bad ideas for going part of the way to diminish the skew imposed upon us by what even Paul Volcker?no democratic socialist he?calls ?plutocracy.?

TOP COMMENTS 

HIGH IMPACT STORIES ? THE WEEK?S HIGH IMPACT STORIES

QUOTATION

?The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.? ~~Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. 2, 1840 
 

TWEET OF THE DAY

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2003?So who is in charge of finding WMDs?

How can anyone claim Bush knows what he's doing, when he doesn't even know who's in charge of finding WMDs in Iraq?

Meeting last month at a sweltering U.S. base outside Doha, Qatar, with his top Iraq commanders, President Bush skipped quickly past the niceties and went straight to his chief political obsession: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Turning to his Baghdad proconsul, Paul Bremer, Bush asked, "Are you in charge of finding WMD?" Bremer said no, he was not. Bush then put the same question to his military commander, General Tommy Franks. But Franks said it wasn't his job either. A little exasperated, Bush asked, So who is in charge of finding WMD? After aides conferred for a moment, someone volunteered the name of Stephen Cambone, a little-known deputy to Donald Rumsfeld, back in Washington. Pause. "Who?" Bush asked.

The rank incompetence within this administration's Iraq team is breathless. And Bush's ignorance as to the most important issue facing him?the finding of WMDs?is startling.

Good thing Mr. Cambone, lurking in the bowels of the Pentagon, is on the trail of those "missing" WMDs. With any luck he should trip over a germ lab or two in just a matter of days.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.?


Democrats had better be careful when touting student loan forgiveness proposals

Out of necessity, Democrats are pushing a lot of overdue social and economic policy proposals. After all, the wealthy, the powerful, and corporations have been getting all the spoils of our expanding economy. Student loans are at the forefront of these programs, and the burden they put on the economy is palpable.

I was all in on Elizabeth Warren's student loans forgiveness proposal from its inception. The meat of her proposals is as follows:

  • It cancels $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with household income under $100,000.
  • It provides substantial debt cancellation for every person with household income between $100,000 and $250,000. The $50,000 cancellation amount phases out by $1 for every $3 in income above $100,000, so, for example, a person with household income of $130,000 gets $40,000 in cancellation, while a person with household income of $160,000 gets $30,000 in cancellation.
  • It offers no debt cancellation to people with household income above $250,000 (the top 5%).
  • For most Americans, cancellation will take place automatically using data already available to the federal government about income and outstanding student loan debt.
  • Private student loan debt is also eligible for cancellation, and the federal government will work with borrowers and the holders of this debt to provide relief.
  • Canceled debt will not be taxed as income.

An economic analysis from leading experts on student loan debt finds that my plan would provide at least some debt cancellation for 95% of people with student loan debt (and complete and total student debt cancellation for more than 75%), provide targeted cancellation for the families that need it most, substantially increase Black and Latinx wealth, and help close the racial wealth gap.

But then I got a call from Dr. John Theis, a professor at one of our colleges here in Texas and one of my politics and history mentors.

"Egberto," John said. "Do you support student loan forgiveness?"

I detected by his tone that he knew my answer, and I could detect his stance, as well.

"I support it, Doc," I replied. "Don't you?"

"No I don't," Theis replied. "It is a bad idea."

He started to explain the economic concept of moral hazard, but the underpinning thread was fairness. So I asked him to write an article explaining why he does not support student loan forgiveness.


When people have to pay a discrete tax to fund it, war is less popular

This week Beto O?Rourke proposed a war tax as part of his 2020 campaign platform. Whether or not you?re for Beto in the primary, this is an idea worth considering.

In 2015, Gustavo Flores-Macias and Sarah Kreps asked the following question in a paper titled ?Borrowing Support for War: The Effect of War Finance on Public Attitudes Towards Conflict?: ?How does the way states finance wars affect public support for conflict??

Here?s how they looked for answers to this question, as well as some of their conclusions. 


Trump is fomenting war with Iran. That's the entire story

As the media help fog us into another disastrous war of choice halfway around the world, some basic facts are being lost, and some basic questions aren?t being asked. Such as, what was an American military drone doing 34 kilometers outside Iranian airspace in the first place? And what would the American reaction be if an Iranian military drone was 34 kilometers outside American airspace?

Of course, many in the media reported at face value the White House spin that Trump called off an attack on Iran because he cared about the 150 civilians who would have been killed. Which was but one in a series of shifting explanations given by Trump and his propagandists, but even just at face value made no sense. The media mostly refused to investigate whether the timeline dots connected with another, more plausible explanation.

Children are dying at the U.S. border with Mexico and in Trump?s concentration camps, and to Trump it?s just another political game. Yet we?re supposed to believe he had even a fraction of a moment?s pause on bombing Iran because he was concerned for Iranian civilians? Trump tried to ban Iranians from even entering the United States, but now he cares about them? But many in the media parroted that political spin as if doing so was reporting. And that wasn?t even the worst of it. Not even close.

Let?s get to the most basic question about Trump?s warmongering with Iran: What caused the sudden increase in tensions between Iran and the United States? Iran was abiding by the nuclear deal. It was Trump who broke the deal. Trump has even threatened economic sanctions against America?s traditional allies and other world powers for trying to salvage it. And Trump appointed as national security adviser a man who has been pushing for war with Iran for more than a decade. That?s the real story. That?s the entire story. And many in the media couldn?t locate it with GPS, a map, and a tour guide. 

This isn?t complicated. Only a staggeringly corrupt, compromised, and incompetent media could miss the single most important fact about the tinderbox crisis between Trump and Iran, and yet assiduously missing it has been the defining feature of most of the coverage. This isn?t as bad as the media coverage while the second Bush administration lied the United States into war with Iraq. It?s actually worse.

This entire crisis was invented by Trump and his advisers. Iran?s government is brutal and awful, but there are plenty of brutal and awful governments in faraway nations, some of which Trump defies Congress to placate and assist. And Iran was complying with its obligations under the nuclear deal. Until Trump scuttled it.

Meanwhile, Trump just frothed his way into 2020 campaign mode. His own polling is so awful that he fired his pollsters. And even though Trump continues to obstruct investigations into his many scandals, and even though even Congress still hasn?t seen the unredacted Mueller report, the public is slowly, steadily warming to the idea of impeachment. There are no good or rational reasons for the United States to be edging toward war with Iran. But there are plenty of bad ones.

Don?t lose focus. Don?t let the media lose focus. Keep it simple. Because the facts are simple. And on the verge of becoming horrifying. 

This entire crisis was invented by Trump and his advisers. The blame for it is entirely on them.


Democrats: Stop apologizing!

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton said that half of Trump supporters were a basket of deplorables. Right-wing anger ensued, and Clinton later apologized for stating the truth. Earlier, during the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama stated, ?They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.? He was right: That bitterness is what ultimately led to Donald Trump being elected in 2016. Candidate Obama apologized shortly after the remarks were made public, and the Clinton campaign jumped on them as derogatory?even though he was right, and was actually prescient about 2016. 

Recent history is littered with Democrats apologizing for offending delicate Republican sensibilities. Tell the truth about Republicans, and they will whine and complain about it until the Democrat apologizes. It has become a game with Republicans. The conservative movement in this country has gotten so good at demanding apologies that it was able to get a report from the Department of Homeland Security on right-wing extremism (i.e., terrorism) pulled in 2009.


Meet the Press host disappoints serious journalist Chuck Todd

In late May, President Donald Trump shocked many when he rejected the assessments of his own administration and U.S. allies about recent North Korean violations of United Nations resolutions regarding its ballistic missile program. In response to Trump?s support for the ?very smart man? in Pyongyang, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd offered a novel theory to explain Trump?s impunity in offering rhetorical aid and comfort to the enemy.

?I do think if the president thought there was a penalty to pay from even his own favorite channel, perhaps he would have curtailed his behavior, but they enable him too, they celebrate this now.?

Yet less than a month later, Todd himself proved that Trump need not fear paying a penalty on Meet the Press, either. During his catastrophic June 23 interview with the president, Chuck Todd was unprepared and spineless, letting Trump spew uninterrupted and unchallenged obvious falsehoods about the tension with Tehran, the Iran nuclear deal, his family separation policy, Obamacare, mythical voter fraud in 2016, and so much more. Writing in the Washington Post,  a horrified Jennifer Rubin warned, ?Trump?s lies need to be exposed in real time.? And as an astonished Aaron Rupar of Vox summed up Todd?s pathetic performance:

At numerous points throughout the interview, Todd let Trump get away with blatant falsehoods and gaslighting. Todd also teed up a number of softball questions for the president, like ?Do you think you?ve been more successful in business or the presidency?? and ?Do you speak to any of the former presidents??

As it turns out, no one should be more disappointed in the Meet the Press host?s disastrous display than Chuck Todd himself. After all, it was only last September that Todd had his ?mad as hell/not going to take anymore? moment on the pages of The Atlantic. Decrying ?the campaign to destroy the legitimacy of the American news media? and the press?s failure ?to defend our work in real time from this onslaught.?


My son's hair shouldn't limit his future?but it could

On June 7, 2019, the Outdoor Recreation Center of Wendell in North Carolina posted the private pool club?s summer hours and rules. At first glance, these expectations are all reasonable. But hidden among the regulations was the following: "no baggy pants, no dread-locks/weaves/extensions or revealing clothing will be permitted or you will be asked to leave."  

Within a week, the rule was shared widely across social media and drew a sizable amount of criticism. To some, it?s worth noting that the club owners, a white couple, issued an apology of sorts, saying they didn?t know that dreadlocks weren?t false hair. Still, they stood by their ban on extensions.

This news was infuriating, but a clear reminder of why I'm wary of public and private dress codes and bans that disproportionately impact black youth, including 3-year-old boys with long plaits, like my son. Our family shouldn?t be stereotyped, excluded, and banned based on our hairstyles. And while more states are passing anti-discrimination policies, we?re constantly being reminded there?s always a work-around for racism.

Our household contains a seemingly oxymoronic set of aesthetics. My husband is a black man who chose to give up his freedom to dress how he wants for the opportunity to participate in the military. It was a family tradition as well as an opportunity to use his knowledge of computers for something larger. It was also a way for us to leave poverty and start a family.

Before leaving for basic training, he had a head full of beautiful dark curls. Cutting them off was the last step when it was time to go. Our son is a 3-year-old with long plaits that he loves to shake while saying, ?Dad, look at my hair!? Other times, he wears cornrows. Unbraided, his hair falls near to the middle of his back. On rare occasions, or when I?m too tired to restyle his hair immediately after washing, his afro is allowed to soar. His curls are a mix of mine and my husband?s textures, with my color and his brilliant shine.

The act of styling black hair is grounded in cultural customs, resistance, and even politics, and the last decade has represented the most recent of revolutions for black hair.


A community read: The Mueller report, Part II

Welcome to the Daily Kos community read of the Mueller report. We are working our way through the Mueller report at a pace of roughly 100 pages aper week. The introduction can be found here, and Part I is here.

If you?d care to join us, a free pdf of the redacted report is available from the Department of Justice. Multiple digital editions can be obtained from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and/or Apple Books. I went with the Washington Post edition, out of habit, I guess, but there are plenty of editions to choose from. After listening to the report on Audible, I realized that I would need the large paperback edition that would let me highlight the text and write notes in the margin.

This past week House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California announced that Robert Mueller would publicly testify before their committees on July 17. Since he has already stated that everything he has to say on the matter of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is in his report, it is unlikely that Mueller?s testimony will change what we already know?if, that is, we have read his report. And at roughly 100 pages per week, we should finish up by July 14.

Last week, we learned what the Russians did in their ?sweeping and systematic? interference in our 2016 elections. This week, we look at Russia?s links to, and contacts with, the Trump campaign as well as how the special counsel?s office decided who to charge and with what. 


Thanks to the Supreme Court, defending real elections will be a core issue in 2020

Catch-22?s suck. And make no mistake, a Catch-22 is exactly what gerrymandering has created and will continue to create, thanks to the Supreme Court?s 5-4 decision in Rucho v. Common Cause, in which the court abdicated any role in restricting or regulating partisan gerrymandering. In many states?and in most cases we?re talking about states run by Republicans?the way electoral districts are drawn is unfair and puts one party at a severe disadvantage. The only way to change the way the districts are drawn is to defeat the governing party. The problem is that the only way to defeat the governing party is to win an election that takes place under the current system, the one that puts the party that?s out of power at a severe disadvantage. That?s what we call a Catch-22.

Democratic candidates and campaigns have an opportunity to take bold stances in defense of free, fair, and real elections, and make Republicans defend the actions they have taken to restrict or even deny voters the ability to choose who makes the law. It?s heartening to see that so many of our presidential candidates have already taken such stances, putting forth numerous plans and proposals to protect our elections. Unsurprisingly, Sen. Elizabeth Warren?s plan is particularly comprehensive, and includes this on gerrymandering:

No more gerrymandering. Under my plan, states will be required to use independent redistricting commissions to draw federal congressional districts to prevent gerrymandering. Both parties should compete on a level playing field; not in a rigged game designed to suppress the will of the people.


The migrant deaths aren't in the camps: they're in the desert and the Rio Grande

This all could have been foreseen. It could have been predicted. It was all the way back in June 2018 that the United Nations declared the separation and detention of migrant children as torture.

Human rights office spokeswoman Ravini Shamdasani said Friday that ?children should never be detained for reasons related to their or their parents? migration status?.

Shamdasani urged the US to overhaul its migration policy, such as by relying on ?non-custodial and community-based alternatives? under the ?logic of care? rather than that of law enforcement.

Also Friday, a group of nearly a dozen independent human rights experts commissioned by the UN said the new US policy ?may lead to indefinite detention of entire families in violation of international human rights standards?.

Last week, people were shocked at an AP report of 250 migrant kids being locked up for weeks without adequate food and sanitation at the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, near El Paso. "Somebody is going to die,? said attorney Warren Binford, who had interviewed children at the station.

Well, yeah, somebody died. As a matter of fact, a lot of people have died and are going to die before this is all over and done with.


The NRA is falling apart, one bad shot at a time

The National Rifle Association is facing several self-made crises all at once, and it couldn?t happen to an organization that deserves it more. Consider:

  • Its finances are a mess. The group is losing both members and revenue. At the end of 2018, the NRA reported losing $55 million in revenue.
  • Gun sales are continuing their downward trend.
  • The NRA cut ties with its longtime advertising and public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen. Now the two are suing each other.
  • NRA president Oliver North was forced to resign in April during a power struggle with executive vice president Wayne LaPierre. The NRA is now suing North over the attempted coup.
  • Speaking of LaPierre, the organization still hasn?t recovered from the bad publicity about LaPierre?s ultra-expensive clothing purchases, including $300,000 on designer suits.
  • Speaking of both LaPierre and North, the NRA?s top lobbyist and second in command, Chris Cox, was suspended after text messages showed he was one of the leaders behind the move to oust LaPierre?a move Cox strongly denied, but his aim was way off. He was forced to resign.
  • The NRA shut down production of its online media arm, NRATV.

Whose fault are all these problems? Those inside the NRA are pointing fingers at each other. Board members criticized LaPierre?s shopping sprees. One board member called for LaPierre to be fired. Two NRA board members scorched NRATV to reporters from The New York Times, citing the image of Thomas the Tank Engine in a KKK hood. And the organization is awash in multiple expensive legal disputes.

Talk about a circular firing squad.

After spending $30 million to support the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the gun group thought it would be safer than a skeet disc left in the box. But instead of hitting the target with policy wins, the NRA seems to be firing blanks?or shooting itself in the foot.


The final score as Sarah Sanders exits White House: Sanders, 1, the press: 0

Sarah Sanders won, and it wasn't really a contest. As Donald Trump's press secretary officially exits the White House at the end of June, it's worth examining the extraordinary impact she had on how the Beltway press corps functions, and how news outlets barely put up a fight as she helped shred decades? worth of traditions and protocols designed to promote transparency. Indeed, White House reporters, who spent the previous year being lied to by Sanders and scolded by her in public for peddling "fake news," shamefully arranged to have drinks with her as part of a fond farewell. They lifted their glasses to a press secretary who hadn't held a White House press briefing in 100 days.

Killing off the press briefings, probably Sanders's most famous move, was one facet of an accelerated strategy to choke off press briefings and part of a historic, incremental effort by the Trump administration to lock out the press?and, by extension, the public?from the government?s official duties and business. And it's not just about the White House: The Pentagon hasn't hosted a media briefing in more than a year. And while controversy spreads over the government's inhumane treatment of detained and separated child refugees, reporters are being kept out of key detention facilities, forced to rely on second-hand accounts regarding the deplorable conditions. "The blackout on press access has left Americans largely in the dark about conditions in government facilities designed to handle migrants who have crossed the border," the Washington Post reports. And that's exactly how the Trump team wants it: Americans in the dark.

That's because Trump views the press as another political target to punch, and he couldn't really care less about keeping journalists informed and extending cordial relations with them. That meant Sanders had less and less to do as she collected her $179,000 government salary. Even some White House insiders considered the communications shop that Sanders ran "irrelevant." Her team shrank dramatically as scores of assistants and deputies left the White House and their jobs went unfilled, in part because there's not much for communication staffers to do. In previous administrations, those support staffers helped the press secretary prepare for his or her daily briefings?briefings that have been effectively eliminated under Trump. "Because only a few staffers remain, there is a lack of manpower for creating a broad messaging strategy," CNN recently reported.

In terms of the now-comatose press briefings, the press pretty much melted without putting up any resistance.  


Racism in Great Britain: 'Windrush generation' got a day, but pain and suffering hasn't gone away

The celebration of ?Windrush Day? in Great Britain, marking the anniversary of the arrival of the troopship HMT Empire Windrush on June 21, 1948, has sparked both appreciation and outrage.

The British troopship HMT Empire Windrush anchored at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on 21 June 1948 carrying hundreds of passengers from the Caribbean hoping for a new life in Britain - alongside hundreds from elsewhere. Who were they?

The former passenger liner's journey up the Thames on that misty June day is now regarded as the symbolic starting point of a wave of Caribbean migration between 1948 and 1971 known as the "Windrush generation".

Many were enticed to cross the Atlantic by job opportunities amid the UK's post-war labour shortage. But, despite living and working in the UK for decades, it emerged last year that some of the families of these Windrush migrants have been threatened with deportation, denied access to NHS treatment, benefits and pensions and stripped of their jobs

The ship - which dropped anchor on 21 June and released its travellers a day later - was carrying 1,027 passengers, including two stowaways, according to BBC analysis of the ship's records kept by the National Archives.

The appreciation comes from those black Caribbean Britons who migrated to ?the motherland? and their descendants born in the U.K., who have felt that their contribution to British society has been too long ignored. The outrage surrounds their treatment and the aforementioned deportations.

The entire subject of the Windrush generation and what is called ?the Windrush Scandal? in the British press is a major issue for the government, and in the media over there. It isn?t one here, since most of our media coverage of the United Kingdom centers on the Brexit issue. Coverage of issues around race and not related to Brexit is thin, and tends to be centered on the new black duchess.   


Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: A smattering of debate, a tincture of treason, a dash of pride

The story of this year?s G20 was really the story of Donald Trump Unbound. Sure, it has always seemed as if Trump were free from any of the concerns that afflict ordinary mean?laws, morals, cholesterol?but clearly there was something to all that ?Trump can?t really be himself while the Mueller investigation is hanging over his head? stuff. Because this year ? Trump didn?t just engage in blatant evil, he reveled in it. He gave a giant middle finger to America?s allies, political propriety, and especially the whole concept of the free press.

Trump sat down with noted journalist-killer-in-bulk Vladimir Putin and talked about ?getting rid of? pesky reporters. It was a joke all right ? just not that kind of joke. The joke was the idea that Trump didn?t understand he was saying this side by side with a man who has had reporters poisoned, shot, drowned, and, with surprising frequency, defenestrated.  The joke was how little he cared.

If that didn?t get the message across well enough, Trump then threw a special breakfast for his pal Mohammed bin Salman. At this little invite-only affair, Trump informed the media that ?no one? blames the Saudi crown usurper for the dismemberment and murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. A statement that required Trump to deny the assessment of both the UN special commission and the CIA. After the murder, Jared Kushner?s advice to bin Salman was to stay low and the whole thing would blow over. But now Trump is saying f?-it. Who gives a damn about one murdered journalist, anyway? 

Trump spent the days leading up to the event attacking and denigrating America?s allies. Then he sought out Putin for his first conversation of the get together. After that, Trump hustled over to stand next to bin Salman in the ?family photo? of G20 members. Trump?s support was critical in seeing that the next G20 meeting will be held in Saudi Arabia ? that should be a real thrill for the traveling press corps.

Hey, you know what Donald Trump calls one butchered Washington Post journalist? A good start. Relax. It?s just a joke. Let?s read columns ? while there are still columns to read.


Saturday night owls thread: After SCOTUS ruling, count on 'dark money' to target state redistricting

At the Center for Responsive Politics, Jennifer Piper writes?State redistricting a target for ?dark money? after Supreme Court ruling:

Redistricting for the next decade will be up to the states after the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal courts do not have the power to rule on partisan gerrymandering, the practice by which lawmakers draw maps that flagrantly benefit their own party.

owls

The decision will make the control of state legislatures a priority for both parties in 2020, as ? in the majority of states ? the state lawmakers in power draw the maps for congressional districts. The ruling could also increase calls for nonpartisan congressional redistricting commissions, which more than a dozen states have adopted in some form.

But support for nonpartisan redistricting processes often falls along partisan lines. And in recent years, state-level ballot initiatives designed to create more independent redistricting processes have been the target of out-of-state cash, often from groups that do not disclose their donors.

ScreenShot2019-06-29at6.39.51pm.png
Maryland?s gerrymandered 3rd Congressional District today.

In 2018, five states ? Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Utah ? passed ballot initiatives to reduce gerrymandering, which will take effect when the next round of redistricting begins in 2021. [...]

Opposing the Michigan ballot initiative were two groups: Citizens Protecting Michigan?s Constitution and Protect My Vote. Citizens Protecting Michigan?s Constitution, which sued to keep the initiative off the ballot but lost, raised nearly $400,000, including $50,000 from Fair Lines America, a conservative dark money group based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Protect My Vote raised $3.3 million, more than 90 percent of which came from the Michigan Freedom Network, a group that received $500,000 from the family of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. [...]

TOP COMMENTS ? HIGH IMPACT STORIES

QUOTATION

?Society ? practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression ? penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them.? ~~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

TWEET OF THE DAY

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2005?Agreement Signed to Build Nuclear Fusion Reactor:

The existing crop of nuclear power plants all rely on fission, a somewhat messy process which yields some rather unpleasant radioactive waste products behind. So it's heartening to see that an international consortium has agreed to try to build a fusion reactor:

Science's quest to find a cheap and inexhaustible way to meet global energy needs took a major step forward on Tuesday when a 30-nation consortium chose France to host the world's first nuclear fusion reactor.

After months of wrangling, France defeated a bid from Japan and signed a deal to site the 10-billion-euroexperimental reactor in Cadarache, near Marseille.

The project will seek to turn seawater into fuel by mimicking the way the sun produces energy. It would be cleaner than current nuclear reactors, would not rely on enriched uranium fuel or produce plutonium.

It may be many, many years before this project yields any positive results, if it ever does. But given the twin problems of fossil fuel shortages and pollution that our current system faces, I think this is the kind of bold experiment we need to undertake.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.?


Is there anything wrong in taking enjoyment from the other side's failures?

When I was kid, I enjoyed the bragging rights which came from my favorite team winning. Because all of the arguments about how certain players are overrated, how the refs screwed ?em, or opinions about winning mentalities become meaningless in the aftermath. People who want to criticize and ?talk shit? have to confront the cold, hard reality of the scoreboard. And, for some, there is an enjoyment to be taken in the discomfort of assholes. Therefore, there are entire pieces in sports fandom based around taking pleasure in opponent?s loses and bad news, from losing free agents to rivals all the way to the team owner getting busted at a rub-and-tug massage parlor.

But these emotions can also go into some darker places. Earlier this month, there was widespread disgust and contemplation about public decency after Toronto Raptors fans cheered when Kevin Durant ruptured his right Achilles tendon during the fifth game of the NBA Finals. There is something to be said about that feeling in sports, especially when it comes to hard-fought battles and long-time rivalries, where there is an enjoyment in the opponent?s misery and failure.

I would be lying if I said I haven?t felt the same way when viewing politics sometimes. And I wonder if it?s part of the problem?

On election night, I enjoy watching the other side lose. I take pleasure in watching all of the blowhard jerks who sit on television talking about ?what the American people believe? have to confront what they actually believe, and not be able to hide behind a talking point. There is a special joy I take in watching Republicans and conservatives, who support awful people and destructive policies, looking sad and crying when they don?t get their way. The only thing which tempers these emotions is the knowledge the other side will feel the same way if we lose, and the uncomfortable feeling which comes from smiling at someone else?s pain.

This week Eric Trump was spit on in a Chicago restaurant by a server, who reportedly may have proceeded to tell him off about how awful he and his family are, and in many places the response was basically: Good. Even though we know it?s not right?either legally or morally?and even if on some level we want to believe ?when they go low, we go high? is a better way to live, for many there was something satisfying in knowing a jerk was made uncomfortable. And I thought it might be interesting to ponder the hows and whys of that.


Children's magazine 'Highlights' denounces family separation policy, says our children are watching

The CEO of children?s educational magazine Highlights released a very pointed statement on our country?s current humanitarian crisis of an immigration policy on Wednesday. In the statement, titled ?Highlights Stands Up for Immigrant Children,? Kent Johnson opened his public statement by reminding everyone that the mission statement for a company that services children and their education has a duty to try and help those children ?become their best selves.? He explains that one of the most important things for children to learn is ?moral courage,? having the strength to stand up for what you know is right, ?even when it is hard.?

?We denounce the practice of separating immigrant children from their families and urge our government to cease this activity, which is unconscionable and causes irreparable damage to young lives.? Johnson says that this situation is so blatant that Highlights? position can hardly be considered a political one, calling it basic ?human decency.? 

Highlights calls for anyone reading to contact their representatives to demand the end of this practice. Finally, he reminds everyone that we are our child?s most important teacher: ?Let our children draw strength and inspiration from our collective display of moral courage. They are watching.?

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Highlights has decided to take the opposite tact that Wayfair furnishing founders Steve Conine and Niraj Shah have taken, which led to workers staging a walkout on Wednesday. 


Nuts & Bolts of the Democratic Party: The DNC meets to discuss the 2020 election process

It?s another Saturday, so for those who tune in, welcome to a diary discussing the Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic Campaign. If you?ve missed out, you can catch up anytime: Just visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide. Every week I try to tackle issues I?ve been asked about, and with the help of other campaign workers and notes, we tackle subjects about how to improve and build better campaigns.

Every few months, however, we cover issues of the party. Very few issues are as important to the operation of our national party as the development of Delegate Selection Plans. The public is free to make comment on state plans that are presented, which determine how individuals may be chosen to go to the national convention and how the party nominee is selected. After an opening period with the states, these plans are forwarded to the national rules and bylaws committee.

These plans will face questions about how they will function, as well as questions about making sure that we empower the largest number of Democratic voters to participate.

The DNC Rules & Bylaws committee is officially tasked with the job of reviewing these plans and asking tough questions determined to make sure that our process truly provides for the voter to have an opportunity to express their intent and for their vote to be heard. 


Rape doesn't matter to Trump's base?or the people he's put into our government

Under the Trump administration, the American public has been forced to ?normalize? so many repulsive actions that it has become difficult to keep track of them all. The latest behavior that, in particular, American women are being urged to ?normalize,? is rape.

Elaina Plott, writing for The Atlantic, interviewed six current and former  Trump administration officials about the charge made by E. Jean Carroll, a prominent journalist for Elle magazine who last week alleged that Donald Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room. Her harrowing account of this incident, published last week in New York Magazine, was met with varying degrees of coverage by an American media seemingly grown numb to the sheer quantity of evil that seems to ooze from Trump himself, and by every single member of his kakistocracy.

The reaction by Trump?s own appointees was, unsurprisingly, equally unconcerned.

?What was she, like, the 28th or something?? one former White House official pondered to me. In a separate conversation, another offered a different guess: ?Twenty-two? Twenty-three??

Because sheer numbers seem to dilute the seriousness of the offense, apparently. Plott found that for the current and former members of this administration she interviewed, Carroll?s credible, documented, and verified accusation of rape by their Dear Leader was met with utter indifference. The same type of indifference that would be meted out to, perhaps, an unfavorable poll number.

Rather, for them, the increase in the number of women seemed to mirror the increase in their indifference. Another accusation, they seemed to say, was like another dollop of numbing cream. ?I didn?t read it,? the second former official told me, referring to Carroll?s written account in New York, which was an excerpt from her forthcoming book. ?We?re just kind of numb to it all at this point.?


Indiana sheriff announces plans to charge inmates $30-a-day for staying in his jail

When someone is arrested and charged, and sometimes convicted of a crime or misdemeanor, he or she can end up spending a considerable amount of time in municipal jails. Someone might stay a few hours or days, or weeks, sometimes up to a year in a jail depending on the charge or charges. The function of jails as opposed to prisons is to provide short-term incarceration. If you are awaiting a drunk and disorderly date in front of a judge, or have been convicted and given a relatively short sentence, you might stay in a local jail. Of course, there is a long history of these jails being used by our law enforcement and justice system as a way to prey upon and punish people who do not have the same financial means that others do.

WKRC in Indiana reports that Sheriff Rich Kelly has decided to begin charging up to $30 per day for the jail stays of Clinton County inmates convicted of felonies or misdemeanors. The fee would be charged to the inmate starting 72 hours into a stay, and according to Sheriff Kelly this is a win-win for fiscal conservatives. You see, by Kelly?s estimation, this will defer the costs from taxpayers, as "taking care of this facility has been on the backs of taxpayers," to the criminals themselves and also serve as a deterrent to those prisoners. "If it deterred one person from making a bad decision than it is worth it to me," Kelly stated.

It?s foolproof, except for the fact that if you are in jail because you were convicted of robbing someone or shoplifting you probably didn?t have the money one needs to avoid doing those things. That means you will either not pay this new jail tax and it will subsequently be put back on the taxpayer, or you will end up in jail for longer as you cannot pay your jail tax, thus accruing more jail time that the Indiana taxpayer will subsequently have to pay for. Republican math is proof that private education is not the solution to our country?s educational failures. To be fair to Kelly, inmates who make less than twice the federal poverty level will not be charged.

The war on low-level drugs has compounded jail use in our society and states like Indiana. Former Gov. Mike Pence made sure to push for stricter punishments on marijuana possession during his tenure. Creating scenarios that raise the recidivism rates in our country?s prisons and jails just leads to more inhumane treatment of Americans. Nothing in our country is more American than a conservative pushing for legislation that has been proven to fail, watching their proposal fail, and then moving into higher office while blaming the official left to clean up their failure.


Republican Congressman wants to defund PBS over now-infamous 'gay rat wedding' on show for kids

Families are being separated at the border, with sick children caring for one another and lacking food, water, and diapers. What is Republican Doug Lamborn, a Congressman representing Colorado, concerned about? In a phrase: Gay rat weddings.

If you remember not too long ago, gay rat weddings became, well, something of cultural phenomena. The popular kid?s TV series, Arthur, showed a same-sex wedding between a rat and an aardvark. The episode is aptly called ?Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.? Adorable! Wonderful! Finally! But some people, including the entire state of Alabama, decided they didn?t want to air the episode. Because? Think of the children?

If that sounds like the start of a joke on The Onion, it isn?t. Here?s what Mike McKenzie, Alabama Public Television?s director of programming, said at the time, in a statement given to AL.com:

?Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children?s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,? McKenzie said in his statement to AL.com. ?More importantly ? although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterward ? parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the ?target? audience for Arthur also watch the program.?

Now, during, of all months, Pride Month, Congressman Lamborn is harping on gay rat weddings. This time, he wants to defund PBS over it.


Workers at four airports strike to protest abuses, this week in the war on workers

Contract workers at four East Coast airports staged a one-day strike on Thursday, citing abuses by Eulen America, the company that employs them. The workers, including baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, ramp workers, and wheelchair attendants, service American Airlines and Delta. 

A recent investigation by CBS Miami?s Jim DeFede found that Eulen hires recent immigrants, pays them low wages for hours that fall short of full time, and has grueling working conditions, with workers lifting heavy bags in high heat and going without breaks or adequate hydration. Workers say they are transported to clean and supply airplanes in unsafe, cockroach-infested vehicles.

?A lot of the people are new to this country and they don?t know the laws or their rights, and then management takes advantage of that,? a worker told DeFede. A striking worker said his team isn?t provided with adequate cleaning supplies or staff to fully clean planes, and that supervisors are abusive to workers who speak little or no English.

Workers went on strike at New York?s JFK, Washington, D.C.?s National, and the Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports. Politicians, including Democratic presidential candidates Cory Booker and Bill de Blasio, turned out to support them.


Oil company has been leaking 4,500 gallons of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico for 14 years

Back in September 2004, Hurricane Ivan tore through the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of this weather phenomenon, a Taylor Energy Company offshore oil rig platform collapsed into the water, and oil began spewing into the gulf. Taylor Energy told everyone that no more than a couple of gallons of oil was leaking into the Gulf of Mexico and they were working on it. It took three years before Taylor Energy was forced to admit that its broken oil rig was leaking at least 90 gallons per day. It wasn?t until 2008 that Taylor Energy Company and the government made a deal that created a $666 million trust meant to stop the spill from continuing to leak into the Gulf. The deal coincided with Taylor selling off its oil interests to a South Korean company. While the money was meant to help stop the leak, it did not.

The company and the government kept the size of the spill very quiet until around 2015, when the Associated Press did an investigation that estimated that the Taylor Energy oil rig was leaking at least 91 gallons of oil per day, and had been for more than a decade. This was about twice as much as Taylor Company?s public estimates of 1-41 gallons per day of leakage. In 2018 a report by environmental watchdogs SkyTruth, using satellite data and pollution reports, put the amount of oil flooding the gulf from the Taylor rig somewhere between 37-900 gallons a day. That?s a big difference that  began bringing the size of the Taylor Company oil rig into focus, placing it into the top 10 worst oil spills in the last few decades, up there with the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

In 2018, Taylor Energy attempted to get back $423 million from the government by dissolving the trust they had made the original deal on. This led to the Department of Justice investigating and releasing a report that revealed the Taylor Energy oil rig was still leaking somewhere between 300-900 gallons of oil a day into the waters.

On Monday, a new report was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Florida State University, in which they estimated that the Taylor Energy Company oil rig had been leaking around 4,500 gallons of oil per day. This, the report explains, was more conservative than other recent estimates:  ?Using sonar technology and a newly developed method of analyzing oil and gas bubbles rising through the water, scientists determined that the plumes are the result of oil and gas released from multiple wells.?


Spotlight on green news & views: Climate impacts on communities of color; Trump loses at G20

This is the 605th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the June 22 edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES

Alexandra Arriaga writes?In the 2020 debate over climate policy, the stakes are especially high for communities of color: ?As a crowd of Democrats enters the first primary debates on Wednesday and Thursday, a growing number of voters will be waiting to parse through candidates? proposals for tackling the crisis of climate change. Polls have shown climate change moving to the forefront as an issue in this year?s election, with a proposal for a Green New Deal pushing candidates? agendas on cutting greenhouse gases. While environmental activists have pushed for a single-issue debate focused on climate change, Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez shot down the idea earlier this month, saying it would unfairly cater to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee?s campaign, which has been centered on the issue. But other candidates have also come out with ambitious climate proposals and have agreed to participate in a climate-focused debate. This week, 74 medical and public health groups categorized climate change as a ?health emergency? as they pushed for stronger commitments to reduce carbon emissions from candidates. The stakes are especially high for communities of color, who studies have shown can be more vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.?

Lawrence writes?Saving The Environment by Picking The Low-Hanging Fruit: ?Accomplishing the things that can easily and inexpensively be done now. The global consensus to combat rapid Climate Change has gained steam throughout much of the world over the last decade. With the general exception of those countries whose economies are highly dependent on the extraction and sale of fossil fuels, most countries now strive to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels and reduce Greenhouse gas emissions. Popular movements such as ?Fridays for Future? and the fossil fuel divestment movement are also putting pressure on governments and corporations to move forward. One problem inherent to the environmental movement has, however, traditionally been the dogma that ?doing something about the environment? means heavily curtailing the modern technologies and lifestyles that most in the industrialized world have become accustomed to. The often unspoken part of this dogma of sacrifice has been that the many billions of people living in developing nations like India, China, and Indonesia would never be able to achieve a standard of living similar to the one enjoyed by those of us who have the luxury of living in an industrialized nation. This is simply just plain not realistic, not fair, and will likely lead to inevitable failure, if the approach focuses too much on having less rather than having a comfortable and sustainable lifestyle that has a low impact on the environment.?


Trump caught on video applauding Vladimir Putin about 'fake news': 'You don?t have that problem'

Donald Trump, having seemingly sidestepped impeachment proceedings and likely feeling invincible with a Republican leadership constantly genuflecting to him, got to meet with his biggest crush, Russian President Vladimir Putin. In an exchange captured during a sit down photo op, Trump can be seen and heard marveling at Putin?s ability to silence the press.

Trump: Fake News. You don?t have that problem in Russia. We have it, you don?t have that problem.

So true. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, since 2000, at least 42 journalists have been killed in Russia. Twenty-five of those journalists were murdered?21 of which covered crime or politics or corruption, all of which are connected. Russia only has a fake news problem.


Almost 700 openly LGBTQ people are elected officials in the U.S. It's historic, but still not equal

There?s some exciting news when it comes to how many openly LGBTQ elected officials we have here in the United States. A new report from the Victory Institute (a pro-LGBTQ political action committee) concludes that we have a lot more openly LGBTQ elected officials in 2019 than we did in 2018. While that doesn?t mean representation is entirely equal (especially when considering other lenses, like LGBTQ people of color, or LGBTQ people with disabilities), it?s still worth celebrating. 

The biggest takeaway is also the simplest. According to the institute, in 2018 we had a total of 559 openly LGBTQ elected officials across the country. Now, for 2019, we have 698. To put this finding another way, that?s an increase of almost 25%. In terms of position, this breaks down to 147 state legislators, 10 Congress members, two governors, 34 mayors, and nearly 400 people on the local level. 

What?s probably not a shocker is that 81% of openly LGBTQ elected officials are Democrats. Also 2.7% are Republicans, and 14% identify with ?other? affiliations. The final 2.3% are ?independent? affiliations.

Broken down by identity, the highest increase is with the bisexual population. The number of openly bisexual officials increased from 15 to 34, which, put another way, is 126% compared to the last year. For transgender officials, we see a 53.8% increase, going from 13 to 20 elected officials. 

Elected LGBTQ officials who are Latinx increased from 58 individuals to 74. Similarly, the number of LGBTQ elected officials who are black, African American, and/or Afro-Caribbean also increased from 30 to 43. 

And 55% of the 698 people identify as gay, 33% as lesbian, 4.9% as bisexual, 3.4% as queer, and 1% as pansexual. 

All of this is, of course, the bright side. Victory Institute President and CEO Annise Parker talked about why she believes the data is shifting in an interview with NBC News. ?Some of it is that more out people are running, some of it is that more out people are getting elected, and then more people who are in office are coming out,? Parker, who is also the former mayor of Houston, told NBC News. ?So it?s becoming much more acceptable, so the numbers are going up every day.?

That?s great! But is this all enough? According to the report, not quite. "LGBTQ people hold just 0.13 percent of elected positions," the official report reads, "despite the most conservative estimates showing LGBTQ people as 4.5 percent of the U.S. population."


Rally on Tuesday, July 2 to demand the closure of inhumane immigrant detention centers

On Tuesday, July 2 at noon local time, communities across the country will gather at local Congressional offices to demand the closure of inhumane immigrant detention centers. Click here to HOST or ATTEND a protest.

(Note: New events are being added constantly. If you don?t want to host and don?t see an event near you, check the link again later.)

New court documents describe inhumane and barbaric Border Patrol facility conditions. A 17-year-old mom allowed to shower and brush her teeth only once every five days. A 4-year-old girl so filthy her hair was matted. Freezing temperatures that one doctor compared to ?a torture facility.?

This is happening on American soil. To children who have been ripped from their families. On our watch and using taxpayer dollars. Just like you, I don't have enough adjectives to describe my rage and grief.

Unbelievably enough, Congress has done nothing to stop this nightmare.

We won't stand for the Trump administration's attacks on immigrants and the horrific conditions in child detention camps. And we didn't spend 2018 working night and day to elect a Democratic House to then tolerate Congressional inaction in the face of this brutality.  

To make Congress act, to make them understand how absolutely repugnant this is, we have to turn our rage into action.

On Tuesday, July 2 at noon local time, we are going to harness our collective grief and rage to spring into action in support and defense of immigrants. Together we'll send the message to members of Congress and their staff that the Trump administration must close the camps immediately, free the children, reunite them with their families, and stop this war on immigrants.

Join Daily Kos, MoveOn, the American Friends Service Committee, Families Belong Together, United We Dream, and your neighbors to demand the closure of inhumane immigrant detention centers.

Can't attend? Chip in $1 each to organizations providing advocacy and resources for children and families being detained at the U.S./ Mexico border.

As long as we keep showing up, the children and families on the border are not alone. I'll see you in the streets.


Trump fails to persuade anyone to abandon support for Paris climate accord in G20's final communiqué

At the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, this week, Donald Trump failed in his effort to get several nations to back off their support of the Paris climate accord. If he had succeeded, this likely would have killed the final communiqué usually issued at the end of each G20 meeting. Three senior officials told Politico reporters that Trump had been pressuring Australia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Turkey to withdraw their support for the G20?s commitment to the 2015 accord. It didn?t work. In fact, French President Emmanuel Macron gave notice early on that he would veto the final communiqué if it weakened the G20?s support for the accord.

As it turned out, Trump?s arm-twisting lost, and the communiqué?s language declares similar support for the accord as it has in the past, with an ?agree to disagree? carve-out for the United States in the document like those that have been included since 2017. 

Two EU negotiators reportedly argued with U.S. negotiators until 4 a.m. Saturday without making a dent. That only came when the issue was put directly to the top leaders in Osaka, with 19 of them agreeing to stick to the old format. This was given a boost when China supported the EU?s firm stance in the matter.

British Prime Minister Theresa May praised the result, while noting that getting there had not been easy:

Ms May made a strongly worded intervention in the discussion on climate change at Osaka, urging other nations to follow the UK?s lead in legislating for a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

She said: ?In recent months we have heard hundreds of thousands of young people urge us?their leaders?to act on climate change before it?s too late.

?I am proud that the UK has now enshrined in law our world-leading net zero commitment to reduce emissions. And I have called on other countries to raise their ambition and embrace this target.?


Trump's fourth of July celebration to block off much of national mall for his 'friends'

Just a week before events on the National Mall, Donald Trump?s revamp of the 4th of July celebration is finally coming clear, and as it does what?s revealed is exactly what people feared?Trump is turning the national celebration into a Trump rally writ large. And to make that clear, Trump will block off a huge section of the Mall expressly for his ?family and friends.?

Washington?s 4th of July celebration is no longer about national unity. It?s about Trump loyalty.

As The Washington Post reports, the area in front of the Lincoln Memorial will only be available to those carrying a ticket issued by the Trump White House. This section will not just be a small area around the steps, but will extend much of the way back along the reflecting pool. Think of any picture you?ve ever seen of Americans gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial to protest, celebrate, or illuminate. Now think of of that area labeled ?Friends of Trump Only.?

How the VIP section will affect the ability of those not blessed with Trump?s approval to see what is happening, or to even reach the National Mall, is ?still unclear? just days before the ceremony. What is clear is that the event will be much more martial than celebrations in the past. Trump, who has often expressed his love of military parades, isn?t quite getting the line of tanks and missile carriers through downtown D.C. that he wanted. But he is getting many more military planes screaming over his ?friends.? 

Those flybys mean that Reagan National Airport will be closed for over an hour, and flights coming into Washington are being shoved around. Some people who had plans for coming to the Nation?s capital for the 4th will find that flights are delayed, cancelled, or rescheduled. But they won?t find out yet, because things are still aren?t worked out just days before the event.


Saturday midday open thread: WTO hits 7 states' renewables policies; heatwave cooks CA mussels

What?s coming up on Sunday Kos:

  • Democrats had better be careful in marketing student loans forgiveness, by Egberto Willies
  • When people have to pay a discrete tax to fund it, war is less popular, by David Akadjian
  • Trump is fomenting war with Iran. That's the entire story, by Laurence Lewis
  • Democrats: Stop apologizing!  by Mark E Andersen
  • Meet the Press host disappoints serious journalist Chuck Todd, by Jon Perr
  • My son's hair shouldn't limit his future?but it could, by Rochaun MeadowsFernandez
  • A community read: The Mueller report, Part II, by Susan Grigsby 
  • Thanks to the Supreme Court, defending real elections will be a core issue in 2020, by Ian Reifowitz
  • The migrant deaths aren't in the camps, they're in the desert and the Rio Grande, by Frank Vyan Walton
  • The NRA is falling apart, one bad shot at a time, by Sher Watts Spooner
  • The final score as Sarah Sanders exits White House: Sanders, 1, the press: 0, by Eric Boehlert
  • Racism in Great Britain. 'Windrush Generation' had a day ? the pain and suffering hasn't gone away, by Denise Oliver Velez

? Second Democratic debate sets audience record: 18.1 million viewers watched Thursday?s debate on NBC, MSNBC or Telemundo. On Wednesday, an estimated 15.3 million viewers watched the first debate.

? Finland?s Latin News radio program goes off the air: 

The words the show?s dear listeners ? or carissimi auditores ? had been dreading came, of course, in Latin. ?Nuntii Latini finiti,? was the blunt headline: after three decades on air, Finnish public radio?s weekly Latin news bulletin was over.

?It is a bit of a pity,? said Ari Meriläinen, the show?s producer for the past three seasons. ?But it had to come to an end sometime. And 30 years is really quite a remarkable run. Especially for an idea as crazy as this.?

In terrarum orbe unicum ? unique in the world ? for most of its unexpectedly long life, Nuntii Latini was a five-minute review of world events, broadcast every Friday just after the main six o?clock news, in Latin, from Finland.

MIDDAY TWEET

x

? Man given as infant to unrelated family by Argentina?s fascist generals finds his biological family after 40 years: During the ?Dirty War? of the late ?70s and early ?80s, thousands of dissidents of the murderous Argentina military dictatorship were forcibly ?disappeared? and their children often given to other families.  Javier Darroux Mijalchuk was one of those children, taken when he was 4 months old. After he began to question his true origins a few years ago, he contacted the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights organization that has made a vigorous effort to track down children stolen during the generals? reign, using DNA. Darroux, the 130th child identified by the Grandmothers, was reunited with his uncle, who had searched for him over all those decades. "The restitution of my identity is, for me, a tribute to my parents, a caress to the soul, a symbol of memory, truth and justice," Darroux said. 

? As record-breaking heatwaves bake people France, Germany, India and others, in California, the soaring temperatures in June roasted mussels in their shells: The die-off could have big impacts on the seashore ecosystem. Marine research coordinator Jackie Sones said: ?Mussels are known as a foundation species. The equivalent are the trees in a forest?they provide shelter and habitat for a lot of animals, so when you impact that core habitat it ripples throughout the rest of the system.? 

? World Trade Organization could wreak havoc on Green New Deal:

The World Trade Organization is back in the news, with a Thursday ruling against seven states? renewable energy policies. The WTO is already unpopular with right-wing nationalists like President Trump. By siding with India against the United States, the WTO is likely to make left-leaning politicians and the burgeoning global environmental movement unhappy. [...]

The measures include biodiesel incentives in Montana, nudges for Michigan-made clean-energy manufacturing and other plans in California, Delaware, Connecticut, Minnesota and Washington state. The common denominator of these policies is an attempt to soften the inevitable economic dislocations of moving away from the carbon economy. The Michigan policy was typical: Electricity providers get a renewable credit when they generate one megawatt of green energy. However, they get another tenth of a credit when that energy uses Michigan-made equipment or Michigan laborers.


USCIS director goes on television to say migrant who drowned with baby only had himself to blame

Donald Trump has stacked his agencies with loyalists who are not only as shamelessly racist as he is, but also as devoid of basic human decency. That?s why they?re there. Example: Ken Cuccinelli, the new acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who decided to go on television and say that the migrant who drowned along with his baby daugher in the Rio Grande only had himself to blame.

?The reason we have tragedies like that on the border is because that father didn?t wait to go through the asylum process in the legal fashion,? Cuccinelli falsely asserted to CNN, ?and decided to cross the river and not only died but his daughter died tragically as well. Until we fix the attractions in our asylum system, people like that father and that child are going to continue to come through a dangerous trip.?

But reports state that Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his baby, Valeria, only attempted to cross the river because they?d become desperate. Under Trump administration policy, asylum-seekers have been forced to wait for weeks, sometimes months, on the Mexican side of the border in order to present themselves and ask for protection. The family had reportedly been waiting in Mexico for two months already.

The administration could do away with this metering policy right now. Instead, people like Óscar, denied their right to ask for asylum, become desperate, and are then forced into making more dangerous journeys. Then when tragedies happen, there are no sympathies, no condolences, no thorough, good-faith re-examination by the president and his administration on how we can better improve our system. Instead, officials like Cuccinelli blame the victims, like this dad and child who came here for a better life, and instead lost their lives.


First debates reshuffle the Democratic primary, with Biden ending the week on defense

If the 2020 Democratic primary is former Vice President Joe Biden's to lose, then he made a decent stab at it this week. Biden, as you all know, was masterfully challenged by California Sen. Kamala Harris over his record on desegregation and the late ?60s- and ?70s-era busing programs intended to integrate public schools. Grounding her advance in her personal experience with being bused to a Berkeley elementary school as a child in 1969, Harris said she found Biden's remarks last week about finding common ground with segregationist senators personally painful.

"It?s personal," Harris said, looking at Biden from little more than several arms lengths away. "I was actually very?it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing," she explained.

Harris later told MSNBC host Chris Matthews, "If those men, those segregationists, had had their way, I would not be a member of the United States Senate and I certainly would not be a serious candidate for the president of the United States."

Though the precision and effectiveness of Harris' advance could not have been fully appreciated prior to the debate, the prospect that Harris would very likely level some type of charge against Biden on his most recent civil rights comments was predictable. The fact that Biden wasn't well prepared for that moment and didn't effectively parry it in the moment drew into question his ability to spar with Donald Trump in the general election. But what's even more concerning to me personally is the fact that Biden still hasn't found a way to simply own up to his hurtful remarks and put them to rest?something he could have done in advance of the debate and on his own terms. Just imagine how much of the sting he could have taken out of that moment if he had been able to say, "I hear you, Kamala, and that's why I made a point of saying XXX."

Biden's campaign has clearly made the strategic choice not to have their candidate apologize for or really even acknowledge that his remarks poured salt on a decades-old wound that has never healed for so many Americans of color. It's reminiscent of Biden's inability to apologize amid a kerfuffle in April after several women revealed that they were uncomfortable with his touchiness and felt he had invaded their space. At first Biden put out a video saying "I get it," then he turned the idea of getting "consent" into a punchline in front of a mostly white male audience. When he was pressed by reporters after the event about whether he was sorry about his actions, Biden gave sorry-not sorry response.

?I?m sorry I didn?t understand more,? he offered. ?I?m not sorry for any of my intentions. I?m not sorry for anything that I have ever done."


California passes CROWN Act to protect black workers against hair discrimination

On Thursday, California?s state assembly voted 69-0 to pass the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), a bill that explicitly includes hairstyles and hair textures under its equal rights protections. Senator Holly Mitchell, a Democrat representing Los Angeles, introduced the proposal. This important bill is now awaiting signature from California Governor Gavin Newsom (a Democrat) before it can be signed into law.

The bill makes California the first state to ban discrimination against natural hair. Why is this so meaningful? In short, because discriminatory practices have long been baked into policies that operate under the veil of ?professionalism? or ?dress codes.?

Without a doubt, this negatively impacts black people?and especially, black women?at work, in the military (there was a ban on dreadlocks until 2017) and even in other situations, like going through airport security. (You might remember that the TSA faced allegations about ?racially discriminatory? hair searches, and have since had to change their practices.) 

The bill doesn?t dance around this reality, which is nice to see. The bill (basically) wants to update the state?s existing anti-discrimination law to expand on ?race.? This means that ?traits historically associated with race? would be explicitly protected.


2020 Democrats shine: powerful debate moments from Harris and Bennet, a breakthrough from Castro

There are more than 20 Democratic candidates for president in 2020, and when one of them becomes our nominee, we need every Democrat to be fired up, ready to fight and to at least feign enthusiasm for the nominee. To do that, it?s going to be helpful to know some good things about each candidate starting now. That?s what this weekly series is for: to catch some of the good stuff that slipped through the cracks or to hammer home the great stuff that can?t be talked about too much, and most of all, to remind us that every Democrat in this race is preferable to Donald Trump not just because of the (D) beside their names but because of the substance of their ideas and quality of their characters.

This being a debate week, some candidates we haven?t heard much from had a chance to shine, and there were probably fewer overlooked moments than usual. But let?s check out strong moments from a big chunk of the candidates, if not all 20-something.

Kamala Harris had a great debate, in case you haven?t heard. Really exceptional.

Bernie Sanders sent an email warning about Donald Trump?s threatened deportation raids and informing people about their rights, in English and Spanish. That?s a really good use for a massive email list like Sanders?.

Julián Castro had a breakout first debate for all the right reasons, from immigration to reproductive justice to police brutality.

Elizabeth Warren prepared for the first debate not by holing up and practicing her answers but by visiting the prison for migrant children in Homestead, Florida, where she was blocked from entering.

Michael Bennet had a truly powerful debate moment talking about how he sees his mother, who survived the Holocaust, in the family separation crisis.


Tightening regulations on chemicals wouldn't just save lives, it could save billions of dollars

Since taking office, Donald Trump and his series of industry lobbyists at the EPA, FDA, and Interior Department have made an express point of deregulating toxic chemicals. And whether it?s allowing more heavy metals up smokestacks, blessing toxic sludge entering streams, or refusing to ban pesticides that have been proven to harm both people and the environment, the excuse that Trump gives is the same?it saves money. Whenever Trump recites all the ?wins? he?s had over the last two years, he?s certain to mention something about all the billions supposedly saved by knocking down these regulations.

Not surprisingly. Trump is wrong. Not just wrong on the morality of allowing companies to disperse chemicals that wipe out everything from butterflies to brain cells. He?s simply wrong on the dollars. As The Guardian reports, it?s Trump?s de-regulation that is expensive. Placing tight restrictions on toxic chemicals could actually save billions. 

As an example of how this works, look at lead in gasoline. Compounds containing lead were originally added to gasoline decades earlier because engines of the day were having a hard time getting around problems of ?knocking? without lead?s octane-enhancing properties. But long before lead was removed from the nation?s fuel supply, both engines and fuel formulation had changed enough that it was no longer necessary. Even so, both oil companies and car companies fought the idea of dropping lead because it was simply easier to keep on doing what had been done ? even though that meant a layer of lead was literally spreading over the world and contained in every breath.

But studies have shown that phasing out lead from gasoline generated an astounding $200 billion a year in ?stimulus? to the economy. That stimulus comes because led levels in children ?plummeted? after the EPA ruled to eliminate lead. The benefits of that act have appeared everywhere. In health care. In education. In industry. And, many would argue, in a sharp decline in crime.

A new study published in health and science journal The Lancet indicates that other chemicals out there are having a similar effect on the economy ? and the combined effect is even worse than that of a blanket of lead.


Pink Floyd guitarist sells his guitars for a record $21 million to combat climate change

The legendary Pink Floyd lead guitarist David Gilmour had a record-setting auction for musical instruments last week.* According to Guinness, the 123 guitars Gilmour auctioned off made up the largest collection of guitars ever auctioned. The lot, which included the black Fender Stratocaster used during the making of the album Dark Side of the Moon and the song ?Shine on You Crazy Diamond,? fetched $21,198,250, becoming the ?most expensive guitar collection sold at a charity auction.? Then Gilmour announced on his Twitter feed what he was doing with all that money.


Black Voters Matter Fund to help ex-felons return to the voter rolls across Louisiana

When a new Louisiana voting rights bill was signed into law last year, thousands of ex-felons were on their way to regaining their right to vote. Almost immediately after returning from prison in December, Shreveport resident Charles Blue went to the registrar?s office.

?My vote is my power,? Blue said in a statement from Black Voters Matter Fund. ?Every opportunity I have to lift my voice at the polls on the state and federal levels I?m going to take.?

To lift up even more voices, Black Voters Matter Fund is embarking on an eight-city bus tour through rural and urban Louisiana as part of its ongoing mission to register ex-felons to vote. The Atlanta-based nonprofit is in the work of re-enfranchisement for the long haul, and formerly incarcerated people are doing the organizing along the way.

?It will be led by people who were impacted by these issues, formerly incarcerated people lead this effort,? co-founder LaTosha Brown said. Black Voters Matter Fund has played a pivotal role across the country as a voter rights and registration advocacy group.



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