Archive | November, 2017

Will the Senate Expel Roy Moore If He’s Elected?

By Julian E. Zelizer

Some Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have suggested that if Alabamians elect Roy Moore to the chamber in the special election, they’ll expel him. This promise from the GOP might be the best way that leadership can signal to Republican voters that they can vote for Moore despite the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him. If he is elected, they will handle the problem.

But the chances of McConnell and his colleagues following through on this threat are extremely small. Historically, the House and Senate have been very reluctant to deploy their most punitive power.

Under the Constitution (Article I, Section 5) the House and Senate each have the authority to punish its members for “disorderly behavior.”  Under the rules Congress has adopted, each chamber has three options for dealing with problematic colleagues. The House and Senate can censure or reprimand a member by a majority vote. This, the least of the possible acts of punishment, is a formal condemnation that still allows the person to remain in office. The House and Senate can also each exclude someone by a majority vote, which prevents an elected member from taking their seat because they lack the technical credentials. Finally, the most severe punishment available to the House and Senate is to expel a seated member for improper behavior, which requires the consent of two-thirds of the membership.

Both chambers have been willing to exercise the least drastic power without much hesitation. During the 19th century, there were numerous censures in the House of Representatives when decorum broke down—ranging from physical acts of violence to unruly language. William Stanberry was censured in 1832 for insulting the speaker; Lovell Rousseau was censured in 1866 for assaulting a member. The Senate famously censured Joseph McCarthy in 1954. Democratic Senator Thomas Dodd was censured …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Uganda Rises Up in Unprecedented Opposition to 31-Year Dictator

During the early morning hours of September 21, nine young activists — all in their twenties — hauled a coffin toward a police station in the northern city of Lira. The coffin was draped with posters of Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni and a number of his other allies in government. Written across the coffin on one side were the words “Change the constitution and bury Uganda” — a reference to a proposed constitutional amendment that would do away with the presidential age limit.

At 6.30 a.m., when they arrived at a major intersection, they set the coffin down and lit it on fire. By the time the police station came alive to start the day, the protesters had already left. Not knowing who they were looking for, the officers nevertheless set out on a hunt to find them.

Over the next 12 hours, the young people invaded street after street in Lira, chanting anti-constitutional change slogans, lifting up placards and even setting some tires on fire. The small group soon grew into large crowds in all corners of Lira. The protesters had allies everywhere, and as soon as the police set out to stop a protest on a given street, someone would call the protesters and inform them. They would quickly disperse and reorganize at a different place, and the police would arrive too late, finding no one to arrest.

Eventually, when the police got fed up with the constant evasion, they decided to storm the offices of the nonviolent training organization Solidarity Uganda, claiming that they were hiding the protesters. Police checked behind all doors and in ceiling boards, finding no one. But they didn’t leave empty-handed. Solidarity Uganda staff member Dickens Otim was arrested and charged with inciting violence. Due to a lack of evidence, however, the charge was …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Off-Year Election Takeaways for Money in Politics

Most observers of last week’s off-year elections were focused on the implications for the Democrats’ ability to mount a credible challenge to President Trump and Trumpism. However, the races were also an interesting window into the role money plays in state and local elections, and the possibilities for campaign finance reform across the country.

All eyes were on Virginia Tuesday night, and the state delivered a riveting set of outcomes — at no small cost. The elections for governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor and House of Delegates broke both fundraising and spending records in the state. Virginia is something of a Wild West when it comes to campaign finance, with no limits on campaign donations from individuals, corporations, or political action committees. Among other things, the state’s laissez-faire political culture produced a whopper of a scandal when former Governor Bob McDonnell was prosecuted in federal court for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from a dietary supplement maker who wanted the state to promote his products (McDonnell’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court on technical legal grounds that had nothing to do with the appropriateness of his conduct).

Yet, there is also a glimmer of hope for reform. Nineteen candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates — some incumbents and some challengers — signed a pledge from the national organization Every Voice to prioritize opposing Citizens United, enacting election contribution limits, and passing legislation to incentivize everyday citizens’ participation in Virginia politics. Ralph Northam, Virginia’s Governor-elect who has called for caps on campaign donations and a ban on corporate, made …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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The American Roots and 21st Century Global Rise of Fascism

(L-R) US Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, former-Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, former-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, former-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence and former-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly attend a joint news conference with President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the East Room at the White House February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Americans have always fancied themselves immune to fascism, but in fact, many of fascism’s roots lie in US soil. David Neiwert, author of Alt-America, tells Truthout what’s new about the so-called “alt-right” and in what ways it’s a continuation of American white supremacy. He outlines how Trump won over the support of far-right groups and gave their worldview a place in the White House.

(L-R) US Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, former-Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, former-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, former-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence and former-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly attend a joint news conference with President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the East Room at the White House February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Where did the far-right figures who suddenly seem everywhere in the American political landscape come from? Investigative reporter David Neiwert has been tracking fascist and extreme-right violence and ideology for decades, and he reveals how these groups have grown in power and influence in Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. Order this deeply researched and crucial book today by making a donation to support Truthout!

Like the frog in boiling water, Americans may not realize that democracy is over and the country has descended into fascism until it is too late. In this interview, David Neiwert tells Truthout what’s new about the so-called “alt-right” and in what ways it’s a continuation of American white supremacy. The author of Alt-America also outlines how Donald Trump won over the support of far-right groups and gave their worldview a place in the White House.

Mark Karlin: Is the term …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Trump Fails to Rebuke Duterte for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines

Donald Trump’s 12-day visit to Asia has included an assortment of awkward moments — like a fumble during a group handshake in Manila — but his performance in the Philippines may be one of the more disappointing parts of his tour. It’s fair to ask whether the United States should legitimize a brutal dictatorship with a state visit in the first place, but to visit without publicly discussing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s human rights record is very troubling.

It’s not unusual, though. Even before the election, Trump didn’t make a secret out of his affection for dictators. Duterte’s time at the helm of the Philippines has been characterized by a brutal drug war that has killed thousands of people, including in gruesome extrajudicial killings committed by law enforcement with active encouragement from the government.

That makes for a “fantastic” host, according to Trump, who sang Duterte’s praises after their meeting and indicated that he thought the Philippines made an excellent strategic partner.

Duterte has bragged about killing people on multiple occasions, encouraged members of the public to turn vigilante and kill drug dealers and compared himself to Hitler — favorably. His bloody “war on drugs” has devastated communities across the country, and it certainly hasn’t done anything to address the ebb and flow of illegal drugs, drug abuse and drug addiction. Duterte claims to be against corruption and abuse, but his political record doesn’t support that assertion — and his election pledge to step down if he couldn’t get these issues under control hasn’t been honored.

The Obama administration took a frosty view on the current government of the Philippines, and the sentiment was returned; Duterte infamously called President Barack Obama a: “son of …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Imagining a New Social Order: Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin in Conversation

Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin discuss how the left can save the US from neoliberal excesses.

Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin discuss how the left can save the US from neoliberal excesses. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

In a time of deep political, social and economic uncertainty for everyone (except the ultra-rich), Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin provide some theoretical and practical guidance for the left. This Truthout interview is an effort to help reimagine a realistic social order in an age when the old order is dying but the new has yet to be born.

Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin discuss how the left can save the US from neoliberal excesses.Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin discuss how the left can save the US from neoliberal excesses. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

We live in an age of illegitimate neoliberal hegemony and soaring political uncertainty. The evidence is all around: citizen disillusionment over mainstream political parties and the traditional conservative-liberal divide, massive inequality, the rise of the “alt-right,” and growing resistance to Trumpism and financial capitalism.

Yes, the present age is full of contradictions of every type and variety, and this is something that makes the goals and aims of the left for the reordering of society along the lines of a true democratic polity and in accordance with the vision of a socialist reorganization of the economy more challenging than ever before.

In this context, the interview below, with Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin, which appeared originally in Truthout in three separate parts, seeks to provide theoretical and …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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As Predicted — Because “Pipelines Are Bound to Spill” — Existing Keystone Gushes 200,000 Gallons of Oil

Thursday's spill is just the latest tragedy caused by the oil company TransCanada. (Photo: SHSPhotography / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Thursday’s spill is just the latest tragedy caused by the oil company TransCanada. (Photo: SHSPhotography / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Some of the worst fears and dire predictions of opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline came true on Thursday when pipeline owner TransCanada announced that more than 200,000 gallons of oil had spilled from the existing portion of the Keystone system in Marshall County, South Dakota.

While the company reported the spill in a public statement, Buzzfeed notes there was an approximately four-and-a-half hour gap between when the company said the breach was discovered at 6:00 am and when local officials say they were notified at 10:30 am. As a South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources told the news outlet, “We’re not quite sure why there was a time gap in there.”

Outside of the company’s statement, there has been no outside or independent verification of the size of the spill or details about the scale of the possible damage.

Those who had warned against the pipeline’s approval for precisely these reasons and continue to work tirelessly to prevent the construction of the Keystone XL (KXL) project, were among the first to respond to Thursday’s spill.

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“With their horrible safety record, today’s spill is just the latest tragedy caused by the irresponsible oil company TransCanada,” said Ben Schreiber, senior political strategist at Friends of the Earth. “We cannot let the world’s fossil fuel empires continue to …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Jake Tapper Would Prefer Not To Be So Agitated

By Adrienne LaFrance

Jake Tapper sometimes wakes up angry. This may be a good thing for America.

Amid the chaos of the Donald Trump presidency, and the deep partisanship that filters through seemingly all aspects of American life in 2017, Tapper is motivated by the same forces that have animated much of his career in journalism. He can’t stand hypocrisy. He can’t stand unfairness. He can’t stop talking about it.

“I recognize that it’s probably a pain in the ass for a lot of people now,” he told The Atlantic. “But it is just who I am.”

“I’m just like, I don’t want any of this to be happening,” he added. “There are so many lies and so much indecency, and I’m not only talking about President Trump. There is just a world of it exploding—and we are, I fear, as a nation, becoming conditioned and accepting of it. And it’s horrific.”

Tapper, who is writing a novel about America in 1954, says he sees an echo of that era in today’s political climate. Despite the many unprecedented aspects of the Trump presidency, Tapper argues, the nation has grappled with the same kind of turmoil, the same unseemliness, the same level of uncertainty that’s playing out now. “There was this before,” he says. “It was McCarthyism. It was incredibly indecent. It was full of lies and a lot of people should have known better and did not stand against it. There was a very powerful person, and everybody was worried about alienating his supporters.”

Here’s a condensed and lightly edited transcript of Tapper’s conversation with The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, recorded for the second episode of The Atlantic Interview podcast.


Jeffrey Goldberg: You’ve become very, very famous.

Jake Tapper: I don’t know that that’s true.

Goldberg: You were in GQ magazine!

Tapper: It was a very nice …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Gun Control Legislation That Even Republicans Like

By Clare Foran

Republicans and Democrats have found gun legislation both sides agree on. But that doesn’t mean it will pass.

In the wake of mass shootings in Nevada, Texas and California, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, an outspoken advocate of gun control, introduced a bill to strengthen the federal background check system for gun sales. Debates over gun control on Capitol Hill nearly always give way to inaction in the face of Republican opposition. But Democrats aren’t alone in supporting this new legislation: It is also backed by Republican Senators John Cornyn, the second highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, Orrin Hatch, Tim Scott and Dean Heller.

The legislation doesn’t call for expanding restrictions on gun purchases, it’s meant to stop people from buying guns when they were never supposed to be able to in the first place. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, relies on state and federal officials to report mental health and criminal conviction records that legally bar individuals from purchasing firearms. But those records don’t always make it into the system.

After a gunman killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas earlier this month, the Air Force conceded that it failed to report the shooter’s prior domestic violence conviction, an action that if it had been taken might have prevented the purchase of the firearms used in the shooting. The new legislation is intended to make sure that something like that never happens again.

Any Republican who decides to back the legislation can argue that they just want existing laws to be enforced. And it looks like the GOP won’t have to fear backlash from the gun lobby. “We applaud Sen. John Cornyn’s efforts to ensure that the records of prohibited individuals are entered into NICS,” Chris Cox of the NRA said in a statement. “The …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Donna Brazile’s Tell-All Is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

By David Litt

“Why am I supposed to be the only person that is unable to tell my story?” asked Donna Brazile, during the early days of her media blitz. Apparently she shouldn’t have worried. Her campaign memoir, Hacks, just debuted at number three on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

Still, I suspect Brazile’s urge to speak her truth—and her anger at anyone who might be trying to stop her—is genuine. Being a political operative, even a high-level one, is an act of self-censorship. You don’t express yourself. You help other, more important people express themselves. You forgo the pride of authorship for the chance to make a difference. It’s a reasonable tradeoff.

Until it isn’t. For some of us, there comes a time when our own voices bubble up. We want to be heard. And if we’re lucky enough to find publishers, we write books.

I say this from experience. My own political memoir, Thanks, Obama, came out two months ago. In many ways it’s quite different from Brazile’s. Where she spent decades in the upper echelons of Democratic politics, I entered the White House as a junior-level speechwriter when I was 24 and left as a mid-level one five years later. Also, while far from perfect, my experience in politics was positive, which is bad for book sales but good for mental health.

Even so, I empathize with Brazile’s hunger for self-expression. I know how it feels to decide (or be tricked by your ego into thinking, or both) that you have a story worth telling.

And I know what it’s like to grapple with a new set of responsibilities. It’s a question I thought about constantly while writing Thanks, Obama, and again while reading Hacks. What do operatives-turned-authors owe not just their publishers and readers, but the people and organizations they used …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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