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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

New DNC ‘Descent’ Ad Hits Trump’s ‘Four Years Of Failure’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Say this for the impeached popular-vote losing, white supremacist, wanna-be dictator, grifting demagogue squatting in the Oval Office—he makes for good opposition ad fodder. Like this one produced by the Democratic National Committee for Joe Biden called Descent.

"Five years ago Donald Trump descended to the basement of Trump Tower," the narrator says over video of that gross golden escalator ride he took to announce his candidacy. "For the last five years," it continues, "he's brought America down with him." Then the ad launches into a litany of what Trump has managed to destroy in just three-and-a-half years: "attacking health care for people with preexisting conditions; giving massive tax cuts to billionaires, not working families; praising white supremacists, stoking racial division; losing 300,000 jobs in a failed trade war with China; locking children in cages."

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Watch: Biden Warns That Trump Will 'Try To Steal This Election'

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is prepared both to win the presidency and for Donald Trump to refuse to accept the results of election. In a Wednesday interview with Biden on The Daily Show, host Trevor Noah asked whether Biden had considered what would happen if Trump refused to leave.

"Yes, I have," he quickly responded.

Biden is also concerned about his campaign being "moot," as Noah suggested, if voter suppression keeps Democratic voters out of the polls. "It's my greatest concern. My single greatest concern," Biden said. "This president is going to try to steal this election," he continued. "This is a guy who said that all mail-in ballots are fraudulent, voting by mail, while he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in the primary." The Biden campaign is preparing for that, he said. "We're putting together a major initiative of lawyers to go out and make sure that we're in every single district in the country to patrol this."

That was Biden acknowledging the challenge Election Day is going to pose. The two discussed the debacle in Georgia on Tuesday in which voters in communities of color waited for hours and hours to vote in polling places that weren't prepared, with new machines and untrained and diminished staff because of the pandemic. The Trump campaign is promising to make Election Day even more fraught, recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers to serve as "poll watchers." Up until 2018, the Republican Party had been banned by federal courts from intervening in polling because they had been repeatedly—in 1982, 1986, 1990, and again in 2004—intimidating and interfering with would-be voters. With the Sen. McConnell and President Trump-appointed courts at the helm, they've been unleashed.

As for what happens when the vote is allowed to proceed and Trump is defeated, but refuses to leave, Biden says he's also thought about that. "Yes, I have, and I was so damn proud," he said, of the "four chiefs of staff coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump," apparently referring to the high-ranking former military officers who spoke out against Trump's militarized response to the Black Lives Matter protests. "And you have so many rank and file military personnel saying, 'Whoa. We're not a military state. This is not who we are,'" Biden continued. "I promise you, I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch."

The fact that the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, has now said that he regrets having been a part of Trump's infamous protest photo op at St. John's Church in Lafayette Square suggests that Biden is probably right. Chances are Milley has heard from plenty of his current and former colleagues that, as he said: "My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics."


Enraged By Briefing On 2020 Russian Meddling, Trump Fired DNI

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

There’s a bit more clarity now to the story of the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee that may or may not have contributed to acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire’s departure from the Trump administration. According to The New York Times, the mysterious briefing that Republicans and impeached President Donald Trump so objected to was about Russia interfering in this election, the 2020 one.

Five people familiar with the matter told the Times that the Feb. 13 briefing included a warning to lawmakers that Russia was interfering to get Trump reelected, a “disclosure that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him,” as opposed to using it to try to secure the election and prevent Russia from mucking about in it again. The Times reports that the next day, Trump “berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place” and the fact that Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee chairman, was present to hear it was “a particular irritant.”

It’s not too much of stretch to figure out who filled Trump in on all the details of the briefing, as a committee official said that ” members of both parties attended, including Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee” and that it was indeed about the “integrity of our upcoming elections.” In what’s really not good news for the upcoming election, the Times reports that “Some intelligence officials viewed the briefing as a tactical error, saying that had the official who delivered the conclusion spoken less pointedly or left it out, they would have avoided angering the Republicans.”

Not angering Republicans should not be the intelligence community’s concern at all. Not when they have credible information saying that this election is in jeopardy of Russian interference on behalf of the man who has already been impeached for trying to get another country to do the same.

Collins Mocked For Saying She ‘Wishes’ Senate Trial Had Called Witnesses

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos.

Congratulations, Sen. Susan Collins! You’ve become a national figure! Unfortunately for you, it’s as a laughingstock.

First she appeared in a Saturday Night Live skit and then in a Stephen Colbert monologue, in which he described her as “the senator who has most successfully talked herself into believing that she believes in something.”

Proving Colbert’s point, Collins went on WMTW, Portland’s ABC affiliate, to say she “did what I felt was right” in her votes in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, and that this was an even more consequential vote than the one on putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because “removing a president from office” is “overturning an election and preventing the president from appearing in the ballot this fall.” About this fall, and if she’ll vote for Trump this time around? “You know, I’m not going to discuss presidential politics at a time like this.” A time like this being before the filing deadline for Maine’s primary. She already made her decision clear, however, in the only vote that really counts—on Trump’s impeachment.

She’s still trying to convince Mainers that she’ll vote to “curb the president’s powers.” She left out the part about needing to have Mitch McConnell’s permission to cast those votes. She also said that she would disapprove of retribution by Trump against anyone who testified. She will tell every reporter she can talk to that she is very concerned when Trump fires Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council after he testified in House impeachment hearings, or when Attorney General Bill Barr starts investigating House Democratic leadership.

She told Maine reporters after a Friday meeting of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association that she wished there had been witnesses in the Senate trial, proving that her wishes are about as effective as her hopes.

Sen. Booker Ends Presidential Bid ‘With Full Heart’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Cory Booker is leaving the 2020 presidential race. “It’s with a full heart that I share this news—I’m suspending my campaign for president,” he tweeted. “To my team, supporters, and everyone who gave me a shot—thank you. I am so proud of what we built, and I feel nothing but faith in what we can accomplish together.”

His announcement video is as classy and upbeat as his campaign was. “It is my faith in us, my faith in us together as a nation, that we share common pain and common problems that can only be solved with a common purpose and a sense of common cause,” he said. “So I recommit myself to the work. I can’t wait to get back on the campaign trail and campaign as hard as I can for whoever is the eventual nominee and for candidates up and down the ballot.”

“But for now,” he concludes, “I want to say thank you.”

His departure leaves one person of color on the ballot, the one with independent wealth, Andrew Yang. It remains populated with random white men including Sen. Michael Bennet (yeah, him, he’s still there) and the two who can keep spending their way onto the stage, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. That’s an issue this party is going to have to reckon with. But for now, let’s thank Sen. Cory Booker for bringing his enthusiasm, his integrity, and his heart to this race.

UPDATE Monday, Jan 13, 2020 · 10:47:45 AM Central Standard Time

Forgot that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is still “in” the race. For whatever that’s worth.

Sen. Collins Feeling Pressure From Anti-Trump Groups On Impeachment

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Susan Collins, Republican from Maine, is one of the targets of pressure from two new Republican groups opposed to Donald Trump, and it has her fretting. Republicans for the Rule of Law and the new Lincoln Project are both targeting so-called moderate Republicans and pressuring them to secure a fair trial of Trump in the Senate.

“Call Sen. Collins and tell her these witnesses must testify,” says a new ad from Republicans for the Rule of Law, which will be running in Maine on both Fox & Friends and Hannity. Jennifer Horn, a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, told the Portland Press Herald, “We will be watching very closely what Sen. Collins and everyone else does. […] Where she falls on impeachment will have a significant influence on—I don’t want to say target because I don’t like that word—but it will have an influence on whether she is on the list of Republican senators whose seats we’re looking at.”

Now that her close friend Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has publicly criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for telling the world that he has no intention of conducting a fair trial, Collins has to be feeling even more pressure. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to get off the fence or be taking any stand.

“My hope is that the Senate leaders will negotiate the rules for the trial, just as Republican Senator Trent Lott and Democratic Senator Tom Daschle did for the trial of President Clinton,” she said in a statement released Thursday. Because Collins’ “hopes” for her party doing the right thing always work out so well. “I take seriously the oath I will swear to render ‘impartial justice’ in the impeachment trial,” she said, before once again playing the victim. “Threats from both the left and the right will have zero influence on my decisions.” Right. As if she doesn’t have Trump’s endorsement, because she’s so independent. As if she didn’t secure an endorsement from former Gov. Paul LePage by promising she’d be as Trumpy as she needed to be.

Such a profile in courage she is, with her hopes and her sternly worded letters. She’s so courageous that she still hasn’t even thanked Donald Trump for his ringing endorsement of her.


Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Sen. Collins’ ‘Bipartisan’ Campaign Tainted By Trump Endorsement

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Well, this is going to furrow Sen. Susan Collins’ brow for the holiday!

That generated some fun headlines back home in Maine. Like this one: “Donald Trump backs reelection of Susan Collins,” with the subhead, “In a tweet Monday, President Donald Trump said he agrees 100% that Collins is needed to ensure Republicans keep control of the U.S. Senate next year.” Just a little bit inconvenient for her after she announced last week that she will be seeking reelection, touting her “bipartisan commonsense approach” in an email to supporters.

Right. Bipartisan.

So bipartisan that Trump BFF Lindsey Graham and Trump himself are talking about how essential she is to the “GOP majority.” Nothing screams “bipartisan” like that. It’s not doing Collins much of a favor as she tries to pull the wool over the eyes of Mainers for one last election. But sort of kudos to Graham and Trump for once again exposing her for the total fraud she is.

Republican Contractors Got HHS Funds To Improve Verma’s ‘Brand’

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos.

It’s grift all the way down in the Trump administration, and federal health dollars are no exception. Funds that should be going to things like promoting the Affordable Care Act open enrollment (just 33 days left!) have been funneled to former Trump and Pence campaign and transition officials, according to documents obtained by Politico.

At least eight Trumpsters were among the 40-some consultants hired for one purpose—to make Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma look good, to “burnish Verma’s personal brand.” The CMS have career civil servants who have traditionally handled the agency’s communications needs, but Verma has instead hired these contractors—Trump grifters—at as much as $380 an hour to make her look good. Note that Verma’s shtick while heading up CMS has been fighting “waste, fraud, and abuse” in programs such as Medicaid and helping Trump sabotage Obamacare. She’s been the lead architect in creating the onerous work requirements under Medicaid, crafting humiliating hoops enrollees have to jump through to get health care—hoops that courts have found illegal under existing law.

In less than five months in the fall of 2018, Politico discovered, CMS paid out at least $744,000 in contractor payments. The Department of Health and Human Services, CMS’ parent, finally halted the contracts in April after a Politico report on Verma’s use of PR consultants to promote herself. Among them was Marcus Barlow, who worked as her spokesman when she was in Indiana acting as a consultant to then-Gov. Mike Pence. Barlow received a contract for as much as $425,000 for a year’s worth of work. The salary for a career CMS communications official is about $140,000. The secretary of HHS, Alex Azar, receives an annual salary of $203,500.

Most of the consultants were subcontractors to Nahigian Strategies, a public relations firm run by two brothers. Ken Nahigian led the Trump transition in 2017, and Keith Nahigian is a regular on Republican presidential campaigns. They arranged contracts for Trump campaign and White House official Brad Rateike, who was paid $1,150 for three and a half hours of work. Republican fundraiser Maggie Mulvaney spent part of October 2018 “consulting” for $2,500. Trump campaign staffer Zachary Lamb billed $7,388.52 in the same month. Taylor Mason, a Trump inaugural staffer, double-dipped as an employee of Nahigian Strategies under a contract that paid at least $54,900 in a four-month stint. The Nahigians themselves “charged $275,565 for a range of strategic communications duties, and the brothers themselves billed roughly $56,970 for their personal services at a $379.80 hourly rate.

IMAGE: Center for Medicare Services administrator Seema Verma.