Archive | March, 2018

Kellyanne Conway Edges Toward Accepting the Job of Communications Director

By Elaina Plott

Kellyanne Conway is moving closer to accepting President Donald Trump’s offer for her to succeed Hope Hicks as White House communications director, if only on an interim basis, according to multiple sources who have spoken with her.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult for her to say no,” says one senior White House official. The official said that First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff have both encouraged her over the last few days to reconsider Trump’s offer. Conway declined to speak on the record for this story.

When Hicks announced her resignation earlier this month, Conway said in a Fox News segment that she wasn’t interested in the job. But Trump has continued to urge her to change her mind, as have many rank-and-file White House communications staffers, some of whom see Conway as a mentor. “He’s basically told her she’s no longer allowed to say no,” joked another senior White House official. Like others who spoke for this story, these officials did so on condition of anonymity, in order to discuss private conversations.

In recent days, Conway and Trump have discussed a potential compromise: Conway would take over the post on an interim basis. Once a permanent replacement was found, she would then carve out her own role in the communications shop. Similar to Karen Hughes in the George W. Bush administration, she would serve as an executive of sorts, overseeing both the communications and press shops.

Part of Trump’s insistence draws from conversations with Hicks, who, while supporting Conway for the role has, perhaps more crucially, urged him against selecting Mercedes Schlapp. Schlapp, currently the strategic communications director and an alum of Bush’s White House, has the support of Chief of Staff John Kelly. Shortly after Hicks publicized her plans to leave, Kelly, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Omnibust?

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

  • Congress is expected to unveil a $1.3 trillion spending bill to keep the government funded until September. Lawmakers have until Friday at midnight to pass the bill before the government shuts down, but President Trump is already threatening to veto it.

  • The man suspected in a series of recent bombings in Austin, Texas, died after blowing himself up Wednesday morning. Authorities identified him as 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt of Pflugerville, Texas.

  • A year before being fired, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe reportedly oversaw an investigation into whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions lacked candor when questioned about his contacts with Russian operatives.

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for what he called a “breach of trust” after it was reported that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to the Trump campaign, accessed information from 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

  • The Federal Reserve raised interest rates to the highest level in a decade. The central bank is expected to hike rates three more times this year, as the U.S. economy continues to strengthen.

Today on The Atlantic

  • A New Hope?: Elaina Plott reports that Kellyanne Conway, who currently serves as counselor to President Trump, is now considering replacing Hope Hicks on an interim basis.

  • Illinois’s Marquee Race: Democrats nationwide have spent the year attacking a billionaire president and railing against his conflicts of interest. But on Tuesday, Democrats in Illinois nominated a billionaire of their own to run against Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. (Russell Berman)

  • What Is the Cambridge Analytica Debacle?: Robinson Meyer explains the scandal in three quick paragraphs.

  • Mark Zuckerberg Is Wrong: The Cambridge Analytica scandal proves that the time has arrived for the U.S. to create a Data Protection Authority. (Franklin Foer)

Follow stories throughout the day with our Politics & Policy …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Omnibust?” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



The Strange Tale of Trump’s Phone Call to Putin

By David A. Graham


That was the instruction that President Donald Trump received on briefing materials before he called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to discuss Putin’s victory in a reelection widely regarded as corrupt.

But Trump did congratulate Putin, and he also declined to bring up the recent poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in London, a crime that the British government blames on the Kremlin. As I wrote on Tuesday, Trump’s reaction was somewhat out of the mainstream of American reaction when autocratic rulers, but not entirely apart. Barack Obama called Putin following his 2012 election victory, but waited several days before doing so, while the U.S. government criticized election regularities.

The difference can be partly explained by Trump’s disdain for this type of subtle diplomatic dig, and his partiality to grand gestures. But given Trump’s history with Russia, the statement sticks out. That history includes the president’s long history of complimentary statements about Putin; his notable reluctance to attribute electoral interference to Russia; Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’s tortured avoidance of statements critical of Russia, including her refusal Tuesday to say that the election was not free and fair; and of course the ongoing investigations into interference in the election, including the admissions by former Trump aides that they lied about conversations with the Russians.

One of the enduring characteristics of Donald Trump’s short but high-flying political career has been his ability to put behind him stories that would have sunk any other candidate. A news item that would dominate headlines for months in any other presidency can barely last through a day or two before it gets subsumed. (Case in point: Remember that time that Trump told Russian officials that firing “that nut job [James] Comey” took pressure off him? It’s largely forgotten, less than …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Trump Vents His Anger Over Border Wall Funding

By Elaina Plott

President Donald Trump is threatening to veto a massive government spending package over border wall funding measures, a senior White House official and two senior House Republican aides told The Atlantic. The president is also “upset” that the bill lacks a measure to defund sanctuary cities, both sources added.

“He certainly wants the wall money,” the senior White House official said. “And he knows the ink is not dry yet on the bill.”

Another White House official told The Atlantic that Trump’s comments about the border wall in particular indicate the president’s broader dissatisfaction with congressional leaders, who he believes have been stagnant on moving ahead with his core campaign promise.

All four officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of the negotiations.

The $1.3 trillion omnibus bill currently includes $1.6 billion for “border security” measures, including more border agents and funding for the construction of wall prototypes, and just $641 million for the wall itself—far shy of the $25 billion Trump requested.

House conservatives have groused in recent days that Republican leaders have all but abandoned efforts to follow through on Trump’s core campaign promises related to immigration. “They don’t even pretend anymore to want it,” said one senior aide to a conservative member about the border wall, who requested anonymity to talk about private discussions.

Trump met at the White House on Wednesday afternoon with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The speaker met with the president this afternoon to discuss the emerging funding bill. They had a good conversation about the wins delivered for the president, and he is supportive of the bill,” said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan. In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the three had discussed, “their shared priorities secured in the …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Democrats Bet on a Billionaire in Illinois

By Russell Berman

Democrats have for more than a year gone to bat against a billionaire president and his Cabinet full of wealthy executives, railing against their conflicts of interest and accusing them of satisfying their lavish tastes on the taxpayers’ dime.

But in their quest to reclaim the governorship of the nation’s third-largest blue state, Democrats in Illinois have turned to a billionaire of their own to match up against the Republican multimillionaire in office, Bruce Rauner.

J.B. Pritzker, an entrepreneur, investor, and longtime Democratic donor, on Tuesday night easily defeated a son of Robert F. Kennedy and a liberal state senator to capture the party’s nomination ahead of a general-election campaign that’s expected to be the most expensive in state history. Pritzker won 45.4 percent of the vote to 26.5 percent for state Senator Daniel Biss and 24.2 percent for Chris Kennedy, who could not translate his family name into electoral success as a first-time candidate.

Pritzker will now face Rauner, whose status as the most vulnerable Republican in the country was laid bare by the fact that he nearly lost renomination for a second term to state Representative Jeanne Ives. With most precincts reporting, Rauner was up by just three points, 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent. Bolstering Democrats’ confidence heading into the fall, nearly twice as many people voted in their gubernatorial primary as for either Rauner or Ives.

“I’m J.B. Pritzker, and I’m going to beat Bruce Rauner,” the newly-minted Democratic nominee declared jauntily in the first words of his victory speech on Tuesday night.

Across statewide, federal, and local races on Tuesday, the Illinois campaigns featured a bit of everything.

There was Pritzker, the establishment-aligned billionaire, trying to hold off both a Kennedy scion and Biss, a younger liberal running under the Bernie Sanders banner. There was Rauner, the wounded Republican governor who nearly …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



It’s Time to Regulate the Internet

By Franklin Foer

It will be fantastically satisfying to see the boy-genius flayed. All the politicians—ironically, in search of a viral moment—will lash Mark Zuckerberg from across the hearing room. They will corner Facebook’s founding bro, seeking to pin all manner of sin on him. This will make for scrumptious spectacle, but spectacle is a vacuous substitute for policy.

As Facebook’s scandals have unfolded, the backlash against Big Tech has accelerated at a dizzying pace. Anger, however, has outpaced thinking. The most fully-drawn and enthusiastically-backed proposal now circulating through Congress would regulate political ads that can appear on the platform, a law that hardly curbs the company’s power or profits. And it should be said, a law that does nothing to attack the core of the problem: the absence of governmental protections for personal data.

The defining fact of digital life is that the internet was created in the libertarian frenzy of the 1990s. As we privatized the net, releasing it from the hands of the government agencies that cultivated it, we suspended our inherited civic instincts. Instead of treating the web like the financial system or aviation or agriculture, we refrained from creating the robust rules that would ensure safety and enforce our constitutional values.

This weakness has long been apparent to activists toiling on the fringes of debate—and the dangers might even have been apparent to most users of Facebook. But it’s one thing to abstractly understand the rampant exploitation of data, it’s another to graphically see how our data can be weaponized against us. And that’s the awakening occasioned by the rolling revelation of Facebook’s complicity in the debacle of the last presidential campaign. The fact that Facebook seems unwilling to fully own up to its role casts further suspicion on its motives and methods. And in the course …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Freedom Ain’t Free

By Clint Smith

Editor’s Note: Read The Atlantic’s

Since 1992, judges in Washington, D.C., generally have not required money to post bond but instead assess a defendant’s flight risk and the danger he poses to the community when they decide between jail and freedom before trial. This seems to have worked. More than 85 percent of the defendants released from 2012 to 2017 weren’t arrested again before their court cases were settled, according to the city’s Pretrial Services Agency; of the few who got in trouble again, only 2 percent were charged with a violent crime. In more and more states, including Arizona, Kentucky, New Jersey, and parts of Alabama, judges now may evaluate a defendant’s risk of fleeing, by looking at previous arrests, prosecutions, and convictions.

Activists worry that these sorts of assessments may exacerbate racial imbalances among prisoners, unless they take into account that people of color already face discrimination in the judicial system. Even so, the prevailing practice of relying on money to make sure people charged with a crime appear in court doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Bail, after all, is intended to keep the public safe: Decisions about whether to release defendants who don’t represent any danger to the public shouldn’t depend on how much money they can raise. And people who do represent a threat to public safety shouldn’t be released simply because they can afford an expensive bond. As King wrote before he was bailed out of Birmingham Jail: “An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.”

…read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Martin Shkreli Is Going to Jail Because He Forgot There Are Consequences for Hurting the Rich

This article was published by

The frat boy of pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli, was sentenced to seven years in prison this month for securities fraud and conspiracy. After four years of earning millions by controlling the supply of certain medications, he was convicted of defrauding hedge fund investors in a Ponzi scheme.

In many ways Shkreli is a master of American capitalism, but he forgot its cardinal rule: Hurting people with less money than you is part of doing business, but ripping off other rich people is a line you do not cross.

Like most people, I first heard the name Martin Shkreli when he made news for hiking up the price of a drug called Daraprim. The medication is used to treat life-threatening infections that can strike people with compromised immune systems, particularly people with AIDS. After Daraprim was acquired by Shkreli’s company in 2015, the price of a single tablet skyrocketed by 5,000% overnight from $13.50 to $750. It was at least the second time he had used the tactic: A year earlier he encouraged a different company to inflate the price of a kidney stone medicine called Thiola, increasing the daily cost from $30 to $450.

To be fair, he isn’t the only one guilty of this offense. Hundreds of other drug company executives have committed similar deeds to rake in as much profit as possible. But few others have been so blatant about it, reveling with such glee in both the frustration of patients and the rewards of his gluttony. Shkreli seemed to delight in flaunting his wealth. He loved showing off all the pricey toys and trinkets he bought with his drug company profits, including an infamous (and now subject to forfeiture) one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album. It …read more

Via:: Truthout



Rep. Keith Ellison: “Why Shouldn't There Be a Maximum Wage?”

Rep. Keith Ellison speaks at an AFGE rally in supoort of government workers on February 14, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFGE)

When a corporation like McDonald’s resists paying workers $15 an hour but pays its CEO $3,000 an hour, it’s time to have a maximum wage, says Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota). While at the Congressional Progressive Caucus conference, he sat down to discuss the new push for Medicare for All, and how we should be looking at racism as the enabler of economic injustice in this country.

Rep. Keith Ellison speaks at an AFGE rally in supoort of government workers on February 14, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Photo: AFGE)

Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. We’re now into the second year of the Trump administration, and the last year has been filled with ups and downs, important victories, successful holding campaigns and painful defeats. We’ve learned a lot, but there is always more to learn, more to be done. In this now-weekly series, we talk with organizers, agitators and educators not only about how to resist but also about how to build a better world. Today’s interview is the 115th in the series. Click here for the most recent interview before this one.

On March 9 and 10, the Congressional Progressive Caucus gathered for its strategy summit in Baltimore, Maryland. Members of the caucus and allies from left-leaning organizations and European left parties gathered to talk policy and power for the short, medium and long term. At the conference, I spoke with Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota about the new push for Medicare for All, how to talk about racism and economic justice, and why it might be time to think about a maximum wage.

Sarah Jaffe: I want to start with Medicare for All. What’s going on in the House?

Keith Ellison: I just switched in for John Conyers. What we’re going to …read more

Via:: Truthout



After Maria, Puerto Ricans Cultivate Food Sovereignty While FEMA Delivered Skittles and Cheez-Its

An upcoming video produced by The Intercept follows our guest, Naomi Klein, on her recent trip to Puerto Rico. Some of the people she speaks with include two environmental activists, Jesús Vázquez and Katia Avilés, who talk about food security after Hurricane Maria. For more, we speak with Naomi Klein and with Puerto Rican anthropologist Yarimar Bonilla.

Please check back later for full transcript.

…read more

Via:: Truthout