Author Archive | Partisan

How Far Should Societies Go to Prevent Terror Attacks?

By Conor Friedersdorf

After the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, David French, the conservative writer and Iraq War veteran, published an article at National Review that harkens back to the Bush administration in several ways—most objectionably in its attempt to use a kind of political correctness to advance the counterterrorism policies that he prefers.

The article, “The World Is Too Comfortable With Terror,” eventually offers substantive arguments for those policy preferences. And they are worth grappling with on the merits: the author is an intelligent commentator opining earnestly on an important subject.

But the article begins by priming the reader as follows:

Make no mistake, there is an emerging bipartisan consensus that a certain amount of terrorism is just the price we have to pay to live the way we want to live. Now, to be clear, very few people will come out and say this explicitly, and national-security establishments do their best — within certain, limited parameters — to stop every single terror attack, but more than 15 years after 9/11 it’s clear that there are prices our societies aren’t willing to pay. And neither our nation nor any of our European allies is willing to pay the price to reduce the terror threat to its pre-9/11 scale.

Consequently, an undetermined number of civilians will die, horribly, at concerts, restaurants, nightclubs, or simply while walking on the sidewalk. It almost certainly won’t be you, of course, but it will be somebody.

And they’ll often be kids.

That paragraph is technically correct. There are presumably majorities in both parties who believe that a certain amount of terrorism is the price we have to pay to live the way we want to live—after all, that has been so for as long as the United States has been a country. But it is manipulatively put in a way that conservative …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Where Countries Stand With Donald Trump: A Crib Sheet

By Uri Friedman

In April, while recruiting allies against North Korea, Donald Trump reportedly applauded a vicious war against drugs that has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, according to a transcript of the conversation made by the Philippine government and leaked to several news outlets this week. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.” Later in the conversation, Trump invited Duterte, who has bragged about personally executing criminals, to the White House.

It’s yet another reminder not just of Trump’s soft spot for strongmen, but also the degree to which he has broken with his predecessors in prioritizing value-neutral transactions—in this case, apparently: I’ll give you a green light on the drug war in exchange for your support on North Korea—over the promotion of democracy and human rights.

With Trump vowing to put “America first,” the question is who comes second, third, and 193rd. The U.S. president has thrown allies and adversaries into a state of flux unseen in decades. Consider one illustrative example from Trump’s first trip overseas: After meeting with the American president in Brussels, European Union President Donald Tusk acknowledged that the two men don’t “have a common position, a common opinion on Russia.” We now live in a world where long-standing diplomatic relationships can fray or flourish at the speed of a tweet or a leak from inside the Oval Office. Countries such as Australia and China appear to have recently risen in Trump’s esteem, while others, including Canada and Syria, have fallen.

<p …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Pitfalls of “Buy American”

Backed by a huge banner reading “Buy American — Hire American,” President Trump declared in March that his administration would make the US the “car capital of the world” again.

“For decades, I have raised the alarm over unfair foreign trade practices that have robbed communities of their wealth and robbed our people of their ability to provide for their families,” Trump said. “They’ve stolen our jobs, they’ve stolen our companies, and our politicians sat back and watched, hopeless. Not anymore.”

Who is “they”? Based on the president’s previous comments, two safe guesses are Mexico and China. Since the inauguration he has been pushing to restrict trade and immigration. Meanwhile Auto Workers (UAW) President Dennis Williams has announced that his union will launch a new “Buy American” campaign.

US history has seen at least three waves of “Buy American” fervor. Chris Brooks interviewed Dana Frank, history professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism, about the history and impact of these campaigns.

Chris Brooks: The idea behind “Buy American” campaigns sounds good to many people. What do you think of this idea?

Dana Frank: “Buy American” campaigns operate on the assumption that if you buy a product made in the United States, then the company making the profit off that sale is going to reinvest in good union jobs in the United States — but that is very rarely the case. The companies didn’t agree to that partnership. They have instead used those profits to lobby for free-trade agreements that grease the skids for them to go overseas.

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A Transcript of the Greg Gianforte ‘Body-Slam’ Audio

By Adrienne LaFrance

The audio recording of a congressional candidate accused of body-slamming a reporter on the eve of a special election in Montana is extraordinary for several reasons.

If you haven’t listened to it yet, and you really should, it’s essential to at least read the short transcript:

Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian: …the CBO score. Because, you know, you were waiting to make your decision about health care until you saw the bill and it just came out…

Greg Gianforte, the congressional candidate: Yeah, we’ll talk to you about that later.

Jacobs: Yeah, but there’s not going to be time. I’m just curious

Gianforte: Okay, speak with Shane, please.

[loud scuffling noises, an even louder crash, repeated thumping]

Gianforte: [shouting] I’m sick and tired of you guys!

Jacobs: Jesus chri—!

Gianforte: The last guy that came in here, you did the same thing! Get the hell out of here!

Jacobs: Jesus!

Gianforte: Get the hell out of here! The last guy did the same thing! You with The Guardian?

Jacobs: Yes! And you just broke my glasses.

Gianforte: The last guy did the same damn thing.

Jacobs: You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.

Gianforte: Get the hell out of here.

Jacobs: You’d like me to get the hell out of here, I’d also like to call the police. Can I get you guys’ names?

Unidentified third man: Hey, you gotta leave.

Jacobs: He just body-slammed me.

Unidentified third man: You gotta leave.

This is an astonishing encounter. First, there is the simple fact of it. A man who is perhaps hours away from being elected to the U.S. Congress—a person who is pledging to represent the interests of …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Democrats Need These California Seats to Win Back the House

By Ronald Brownstein

Despite its size, California has become little more than a fundraising stop in national elections because it has grown so reliably Democratic over the past two decades. But the razor-thin vote in the House of Representatives earlier this month to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has moved the state into an unaccustomed position: ground zero in next year’s battle for control of Congress.

Even before the vote, the state began registering on the 2018 radar because seven of its House Republicans represent districts that backed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump last November. That’s nearly one-third of all Clinton-district Republicans in the lower chamber, and the largest concentration in any state.

But when all seven unexpectedly voted for the GOP health-care bill, California suddenly moved to the very center of Democratic efforts to capture the 24 seats the party needs to regain a House majority. “If they get back the House, they are going to have to take a big chunk of these seats,” said Bill Carrick, a longtime Southern California-based Democratic strategist. “If you don’t win seats here … then you have to chase Southern seats and rural Midwestern seats.”

The unanimous support from the “California Seven” for the deeply controversial repeal bill was stunning in two respects. First, it clearly distinguished them from the 16 other Republicans in Clinton districts: Outside of California, more of those representatives opposed (nine) than supported (seven) the bill. Instead, their “yes” votes aligned them with the seven California Republicans from districts Trump carried. (That unanimity, California Republicans say, may have partly reflected personal loyalty to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield.)

Even more striking, those repeal votes came even though California has arguably benefited more than any other state from the ACA. Nearly 4 million of its residents have gained coverage under the …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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What Will Happen in Montana’s Special Election Now?

By Clare Foran

The closely watched Montana special election on Thursday has been highly anticipated as a potential referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency and a test of whether Democrats can win back congressional seats in conservative and rural parts of the country. But the race was thrown into turmoil Wednesday evening into early Thursday morning when a Montana sheriff’s office cited GOP candidate Greg Gianforte with assault after he journalist Ben Jacobs accused Gianforte of “body slamming”  him after he asked about congressional Republicans’ health-care bill.

The Sheriff’s Office in Gallatin County, which opened up an investigation into the allegations on Wednesday, announced early Thursday morning that it had found “probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault” and that Gianforte must appear in Gallatin County Justice Court prior to June 7, 2017.

Earlier in the night, the Gianforte campaign released a statement saying that Jacobs “grabbed Greg’s wrist” and pushed both men “to the ground.” The campaign’s description of events did not match an audio recording released by The Guardian. The Gianforte statement is also at odds with witnesses who were at the scene, including a Fox News reporter who stated in a write-up of the incident that “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground.”  

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called on Gianforte to “immediately withdraw” from the race Wednesday evening. The Missoulian and The Billings Gazette both rescinded endorsements of Gianforte in response to the incident.

Yet despite the gravity of the situation, and the social-media uproar it caused, the incident may have only limited impact on the race. Roughly two-thirds of early votes have likely already been cast, according to election analysts tracking the race for Montana’s lone congressional seat. As a result, “whatever effect …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Down the Memory Hole: Living in Trump's United States of Amnesia

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Stephen Crowley / The New York Times)

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, May 23, 2017. (Photo: Stephen Crowley / The New York Times)

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The Trump administration seems intent on tossing recent history down the memory hole. Admittedly, Americans have never been known for their strong grasp of facts about their past. Still, as we struggle to keep up with the constantly shifting explanations and pronouncements of the new administration, it becomes ever harder to remember the events of yesterday, let alone last week, or last month.

The Credibility Swamp

Trump and his spokespeople routinely substitute “alternative facts” for what a friend of mine calls consensus reality, the world that most of us recognize. Whose inaugural crowd was bigger, Barack Obama’s or Donald Trump’s? It doesn’t matter what you remember, or even what’s in the written accounts or photographic record. What matters is what the administration now says happened then. In other words, for Trump and his people, history in any normal sense simply doesn’t exist, and that’s a danger for the rest of us. Think of the Trumpian past as a website that can be constantly updated to fit the needs of the present. You may believe you still remember something that used to be there, but it’s not there now. As it becomes increasingly harder to find, can you really trust your own memory?

In recent months, revisions of that past have sometimes come so blindingly fast that the present has simply been overrun, as was true with the firing of FBI Director …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Indigenous Alliance Launches Divestment Campaign Against US and Canadian Pipelines

Indigenous activists march with allies in the Tar Sands Healing Walk in northern Alberta, Canada. (Photo: Velcrow Ripper)

Indigenous activists march with allies in the Tar Sands Healing Walk in northern Alberta, Canada. (Photo: Velcrow Ripper)

A coalition of 121 Indigenous tribes across North America is working to change the narrative around fossil fuels. Alongside a growing campaign to defund the banks that are financing the Dakota Access pipeline and four other pipeline projects to pump Alberta tar sands oil across the continent, they are also pushing a discussion on sustainable forms of alternative energy.

Indigenous activists march with allies in the Tar Sands Healing Walk in northern Alberta, Canada. (Photo: Velcrow Ripper)Indigenous activists march with allies in the Tar Sands Healing Walk in northern Alberta, Canada. (Photo: Velcrow Ripper)

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Toronto, Canada — It’s imperative to create an alternative to harmful fossil fuel extraction, according to Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

Nepinak is a member of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, a coalition of 121 First Nations and other Indigenous tribes from across North America that are united against major projects stemming from the Alberta tar sands.

In its push for energy transformation, the Treaty Alliance’s latest targets are the financial institutions currently funding major oil pipelines across Canada and the United States.

“The Treaty Alliance is really about establishing an alternative discussion space and an alternative to the popular narrative,” Nepinak recently told Truthout in a telephone interview from Manitoba, in central Canada.

“It’s an alternative narrative looking at the need to transition to sustainable forms of alternative energy,” …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Trump Administration Says It Isn't Anti-Science as It Seeks to Slash EPA Science Office

 Scott Pruitt before a confirmation hearing with the Environmental and Public Works committee in Washington, DC, January 18, 2017.  (Photo: Gabriella Demczuk / The New York Times)

Scott Pruitt before a confirmation hearing with the Environmental and Public Works committee in Washington, DC, January 18, 2017. (Photo: Gabriella Demczuk / The New York Times)

When the city of Toledo temporarily lost access to clean drinking water several years ago after a bloom of toxic algae, the Environmental Protection Agency sent scientists from its Office of Research and Development to study health effects and formulate solutions.

The same office was on the front lines of the Flint water crisis and was a critical presence in handling medical waste from the U.S. Ebola cases in 2014.

Thomas Burke, who directed ORD during the last two years of the Obama administration and was the agency’s science adviser, calls the office the nation’s “scientific backstop in emergencies.”

President Trump’s 2018 budget would slash ORD’s funding in half as part of an overall goal to cut the EPA’s budget by 31 percent.

A statement from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not directly address the cuts to ORD, but offered broad defense of the proposed agency budget, saying it “respects the American taxpayer” and “supports EPA’s highest priorities with federal funding for priority work in infrastructure, air and water quality, and ensuring the safety of chemicals in the marketplace.”

ORD has no regulatory authority, but it conducts the bulk of the research that underlies EPA policies. ORD scientists are involved in “virtually every major environmental challenge the nation has,” Burke said. Diminishing the role and input of the office, he said, risked leaving the country “uninformed about risks and public health.”

“In time, you’re flying blind,” he said. “Everything becomes a mystery.”

Trump’s budget, released Tuesday, reflects the president’s wish list. The numbers likely will change by the time it goes through the congressional appropriations process, but …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Next Steps in the Fight for Paid Family Leave and Paid Sick Leave

Ellen Bravo takes part in a May Day march. (Photo: Courtesy of Ellen Bravo)

The so-called “paid leave” in the Trump budget is just part of a shell game in which a con man gets a player to look at one shell while manipulating others, says Ellen Bravo, co-director of the Family Values @ Work coalition. Bravo shares her insights on how to keep our eyes on the prize of paid sick and family medical leave, within the larger fight for good paying jobs and safety nets for working people.

Ellen Bravo takes part in a May Day march. (Photo: Courtesy of Ellen Bravo)

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Since election night 2016, the streets of the US have rung with resistance. People all over the country have woken up with the conviction that they must do something to fight inequality in all its forms. But many are wondering what it is they can do. In this ongoing “Interviews for Resistance” series, experienced organizers, troublemakers and thinkers share their insights on what works, what doesn’t, what has changed and what is still the same. Today’s interview is the 40th in the series. Click here for the most recent interview before this one.

Today we bring you a conversation with Ellen Bravo, co-director of Family Values @ Work, a network of coalitions in 24 states fighting for paid sick days and paid family medical leave insurance.

Sarah Jaffe: Donald Trump’s budget, if we can call it a budget, has some provisions that they are saying look like paid leave. Can you talk about what is in those proposals and what, perhaps most notably, is not in them?

Ellen Bravo: I have been thinking …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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