About TRP

The Rational Progressive is a publication focused on progressive news and issues. Focused forward and focused on the facts, we avoid demons and demagogues.

by James Andre

  • The fight against the Right is over. The Left lost.

    The Guardian just out with a story connecting Trump's Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Billionaire Robert Mercer, and the Brexit campaign that is severing England from the EU. This is a frightening, but not surprising, story that adds to a growing list of facts that demonstrate the existence and operation of a shrinking number of geopolitical players whose power is growing… Read more… 

  • Trump raised more money from small donors than Clinton and Sanders combined. America has a problem.

      The Campaign Finance Institute just released an analysis of FEC filings for the 2016 election. You may remember Bernie Sanders bragging about the money he was raking in from small donors at an average of $27 each. Well, Hillary Clinton beat him in small donations. And Trump beat them both - combined. Not only did Trump raise more small… Read more… 

  • Think About This – Monday 8/8/16

    Here are a few things to think about this week when you are talking politics and policy: • The world grows more peaceful and prosperous everyday. Violence and warfare have been declining since World War II. • Respect for civil and human rights in the U.S. is growing greater every day. More police are wearing cameras, and more are being… Read more… 

  • Haters, Whine All You Want. Hillary’s Nomination Is Unprecedented.

    I just wanted to write a quick note to Hillary supporters with some info for when you hear haters complaining that Hillary is not the first woman to run for president. That is true, however:   • The Clinton campaign is not making that claim. Maybe some in the media have. • Hillary is the first woman to win the… Read more… 

Election Info

Resources for information on local and national elections.

Inside Facebook Election Tracker





Progressivism is not an ideology at all, but an attitude towards the world of politics that is far less black-and-white than conservatism or liberalism, breaking free from the false and divisive dichotomy of liberal vs. conservative that has dominated American politics for too long.

Progressives aren't simply liberals; progressives see the world for what it is, accept it as ever-changing and dynamic, and choose the best course of action in line with decidedly American values.

-From an article on Alternet.org by Andrew Garib


@FilmFatale_NYC So he is "creating" something that already exists in the Air Force. 😂 I was actually assigned to the Space Warfare Center in 2003. This dude is a box of rocks.

.@HillaryClinton urges women to be resilient in the face of sexism and misogyny.

Extended interview: https://t.co/3HLT3h4Jsf

Hillary had no need of illegit help in debates. Was chalking Brazile's cheating up to passion. Now it appears it was just low character.

Get the vote put for a sensible choice and restore stability in our country! #DougJonesforSenate https://t.co/4Nv1agHZOl

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The fight against the Right is over. The Left lost.

US billionaire Robert Mercer

The Guardian just out with a story connecting Trump’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Billionaire Robert Mercer, and the Brexit campaign that is severing England from the EU.

This is a frightening, but not surprising, story that adds to a growing list of facts that demonstrate the existence and operation of a shrinking number of geopolitical players whose power is growing exponentially. Almost to a man, these players are well known for their fascistic and egocentric tendencies.

If there is one point I could drive home to the fractious middle and left, it is this: for all intents and purposes, the rapacity of the Right has taken over. They have won. Their independence and depth of control over events in the world is unparalleled.

That is why I say time and again we have no time and should have no tolerance for purity tests. We must vote for the best outcomes, not the best personalities. Otherwise we are literally lining ourselves up in front of the firing squad.

In 2016 the best choice was Hillary Clinton. Even if you think she is another of this type of self-interested corporatist, we know from her actions that our outcomes with her would have been better. At this point that is all that matters.

NEVER vote for the guy that tells you you can play a rigged game and beat the house. For fuck’s sake take a look around. Casinos and state lotteries explicitly explain the terrible odds and they take in billions. Trump did the same thing.

Betting on revolution against a house that controls the guns, fuel, food, and water is about the most asinine and useless thing you can do. It is no longer 1776 or 1861. Today’s despots have private jets and boots on the ground.




Maybe Trump thinks no one can see him?

Seems like a good time for a recap of Trump activity. Read to the end because trust me it gets incredibly bad:
1] Trump blows Comey kisses, praising him for his help in Trump taking the White House
2] Despite continuing questionable(but not negligent or illegal)statements from Comey, Trump says he still has confidence in him.
3] Trump has a phone conversation with Putin
4] Trump asks senior officials to come up with a rationale for firing Comey
5] Comey asks for more resources for his investigation of Trump
6] Trump fires Comey
7] Trump has a meeting with high ranking foreign officials in the Oval Office. He allows Russian state media in, but not U.S. media.
Then there is this:
Former national security advisor Colin Kahl, asks on twitter whether it was “a good idea to let a Russian gov photographer & all their equipment into the Oval Office?”
Kahl went on to say that when he worked for Barack Obama’s administration, he “couldn’t let foreign delegations bring phones/cameras” into his own office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and that he had to leave his own phone and camera outside the Oval Office when he worked there.
And this:
The chummy White House visit had been one of Putin’s asks in his recent phone call with Trump, And indeed the White House acknowledged this to me later Wednesday. “He chose to receive him because Putin asked him to,” a White House spokesman said of Trump’s Lavrov meeting. “Putin did specifically ask on the call when they last talked.”[Politico]

Former Deputy Director of CIA and Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen tweeted in reply, “No, it was not.”

Later in the day, White House spokespersons spread the message that “it is time to move on” from the Russia/Trump investigation.

The EPA just deleted the word science from the Office of Science mission statement

EDGI argues these changes signal the EPA’s new direction—one that prioritizes business interests over public health and science—under new Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has close ties to fossil-fuel companies. Pruitt didn’t mention public health once in his first speech to agency employees, instead focusing on improving the EPA’s relationship with private interests.

This change is Republican 101. Think about applying this kind of language to oil spills or auto safety. “Technologically achievable” is just another way of saying ‘don’t make business spend money on ideas to make things better’.

In other words, oil spill clean up rules can’t be made that require anything ,more than paper towel, because that is all that is technologically achievable. Remediation technology of all kinds will be completely disincentivized under this administration. –TRP

Source: Guess Which Word the EPA Just Deleted From Its Science Mission Statement | Mother Jones

Trump raised more money from small donors than Clinton and Sanders combined. America has a problem.


The Campaign Finance Institute just released an analysis of FEC filings for the 2016 election. You may remember Bernie Sanders bragging about the money he was raking in from small donors at an average of $27 each. Well, Hillary Clinton beat him in small donations. And Trump beat them both – combined.

Not only did Trump raise more small donor money, after initially financing his campaign himself, small donors ended up paying over two-thirds of campaign expenses, far more then even Bernie Sanders. Further evidence that Trump may have emerged victorious no matter who ran against him.

Trump raised 69% of his individual contributions from small donors, compared to Sanders’ 44% (2016), Clinton’s 22% (2016), Obama’s 28% (2012) and 24% (2008)

America has a problem and President Trump is the symptom. So many have tried to spin Trump’s victory as the failure of one person or another to fight hard enough, or well. Trump’s win was not a failure of any individual or organization. This was a failure of the American mentality.

If Trump’s out sized small donor performance, the Republican electorate’s sudden love for Vladimir Putin,  and the vilification of Hillary Clinton, a woman who has been globally most admired for twenty years, and who left office only a few years before with a record high approval rating aren’t enough to convince you of this, nothing will.

There is a significant segment of the population that is only interested in peace, prosperity, and liberty for those they approve of. Sure, Putin has had people run off the road and irradiated with polonium. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

Constant fear mongering, the denigration of our culture of education, and the creeping pervasiveness of profiteering that demands more hours of work every week to survive, all combine to create a citizenry that is afraid to think, doesn’t know what to think, and anyway has no time left in the day for thinking.

So people rely on tv and their emotions, and we have to listen as people talk about how they “feel” about political candidates. They cling to their religion and their guns, and when someone offers them a value meal candidate that looks familiar, or makes them ‘feel’ good, they choose the #4. Large.

This only works because we have fallen into the habit of excusing the behavior of our own tribe, and focusing on the value meal menu instead of facing the difficult questions about what kind of society we want and where we want to see our country in the future. Pre-packaged candidates and causes. And no one cares really, as long as they help us figure out which side the other guy is on.

You choose Planned Parenthood, I choose a pipeline.

There is only one way forward that holds any hope. Revolution does not start at the Oval Office, from the top down. The only way forward is for those with vision to start locally, find allies, and start doing things the right way. That means building our society on cooperation, education, sustainability, and liberty.




Third white terrorist arrested in less than a week; White Americans: 3, Muslims: 0

Ex-convict and white supremacist Benjamin McDowell, 28, was arrested after buying a handgun and ammunition from an FBI agent for $109.

McDowell had complained on facebook that fellow white supremacists were all talk and no action: “All they wanne (sic) do is stay loaded on drugs the Jews put here to destroy white man and they feast on the drugs. they should be Feasting on the enemy that stole their Heritage and their bloodline” he wrote, also citing Dylan Roof, the white mass murderer sentenced to death for the murder of a group of black churchgoers.

Authorities began investigating McDowell in December after he posted threats to a synagogue on Facebook.

Since President Trump was sworn in, vowing to keep America safe from terrorism, and issuing a travel ban against Muslim countries that was later blocked by the courts, this is the third white American to be investigated for a terrorist plot.

Less than a week previously, William Christopher Gibbs, a self-described “White Racial Loyalist” and member of the Georgia Church Of Creativity, a white-separatist organization founded in 1973, was arrested in Georgia after complaining at a hospital about possible exposure to the deadly toxin ricin.

An investigation of Gibbs’ car turned up traces of the toxin. Gibbs was arrested on state charges of reckless conduct and probation violation, and is currently under investigation by the FBI.

Ricin has been used by white supremacists before. In 2014, two other Georgia men were sentenced to 10 years in prison for a plot to make the deadly poison ricin and disperse it. During the investigation of the plot, one man was recorded talking about a list of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media he thought needed to die.

Finally, about the same time last week that Gibbs was being arrested for investigation over ricin, Mark Charles Barnett (48, Ocala, FL) was delivering 10 homemade bombs to a confidential source in a plot to place explosives in Target stores along the east coast, an act of economic terrorism designed to depress Target Stores stock. Barnett is a previously convicted felon and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

While the White House seems to be focused on the threat from Muslim extremists, even purportedly attempting to rewrite the blocked immigration ban, as yet no terror plots by Muslim extremists have been uncovered. Yet, three white terrorists have been arrested in just one week.

So far it seems that law enforcement is still keeping a watchful eye out for all potential offenders. However, with Trump at war with the intelligence services over leaks, and the increasing politicization of law enforcement, it may be just a matter of time before something slips through the cracks.

Trump complains about media again

In a midday news conference, the President complained about “dishonest media”, saying he was coming “directly to the American people” because “many of our nation’s reporters and folks will not tell you the truth.”

The President went on to complain that the multitude of reports of turmoil in the White House, and questionable interactions with Russia during the election campaign, were “trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made, and they are not happy about it.”

Trump went on to boast that his approval rating was 55% and rising, when multiple polls in fact show it sliding lower from the mid 40’s.

“In each of these actions I’m keeping my promises to the American people. These are campaign promises,” Trump said. He said the steps he’s taken in the four weeks since he was sworn in should surprise nobody, especially in the media.

“In other words, the media is trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made, and they are not happy about it, for whatever reason,” he said. “But a lot of people are happy about it.”

Source: Trump complains that he ‘inherited a mess’ in rant against media – POLITICO

Trump complains about Flynn leaks, still no statement on Russian provocations

During a mid-week joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump complained that the leaks were an attempt to “cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had”, and that “It’s a criminal act.”

Trump has called reports about now-resigned National Security Advisor Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials the work of “fake media”, but when Press Secretary Spicer was asked what was fake about the reports, his response was  “I’ll get back to you on that.”

The new Trump administration has been under a cloud since the election campaign because of its connections to Russia, specifically an unusual amount of communication between a presidential campaign and Russian officials, and Trump’s unwillingness to clarify his relationship with Russia or Vladimir Putin, or even criticize him, going so as to imply that the United States is as equally guilty of transgressions, including murder, as Putin. An unusual position for a President of the United States.

Questions about Trump’s relationship with Russia and potential blackmail materials Russian intelligence services may have on Trump grow each day, as the White House has made no statements about the administration’s relationship or contacts with Russia, and an even bigger concern, no statement about recent Russian military provocations.

There have been two proximity incidents between Russian aircraft and U.S. forces in the past week. A Russian intelligence gathering is currently cruising the east coast of the United States. And the President’s National Security Advisor was forced out after not being forthcoming about his communications with Russian officials.

The administration’s only comments have been that Flynn was treated unfairly by the media, and to call intelligence leaks that led to Flynn’s resignation “criminal”. The President tweeted about the leaks “One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

As the White House has shown no inclination even under these circumstances to shed light on their relationships with Russian officials, or to even criticize, or question, anything the Russians do, even when provoking the U.S. military, it seems that questions about the Trump administration and Russia will continue.

Chaffetz asks for investigation over Flynn

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz on Tuesday said there was no need to investigate former National Security Advisor Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials because the situation was “working itself out.” On Wednesday, Chaffetz sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice requesting “an immediate investigation” not into Flynn’s conversations, but into suspected mishandling of classified information as evidenced by public leaks about Flynn’s conversations and administration discussions about the matter.

The U.S. representative for Utah, Chaffetz may be best known for the interminable investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and for admitting without apology that he “absolutely” voted to cut funding for the U.S. embassy in Benghazi – the statement about cutting funding coming while investigating Clinton’s role in the Benghazi attack which occurred under her tenure as Secretary of State.

After becoming House Oversight Chairman, Chaffetz called potential investigations into Hillary Clinton a “target rich environment” promising that “we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up.” He later tweeted his support for then candidate Trump, also stating “HRC is bad for the USA”.

Chaffetz’s investigations turned up no evidence of illegalities, and were subsequently dropped after Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election.

Hours before resigning from the Trump administration, Flynn criticized the leaks, saying “You call them leaks. It’s a criminal act. This is a crime.”

Each new administration in the White House brings their own staff and appointees. Incoming presidents can replace many of the heads and top positions in most organizations, but the majority of employees of any agency, including intelligence services, are career employees, working through multiple administrations. It is impossible to replace everyone without crippling the organizations and swamping a new administration, preventing them from focusing effort on their agenda.

The new administration seems to be coming face-to-face with the harsh reality of Washington: you can’t change the culture overnight, and loyalties stretch far beyond any one presidential term. We are getting a demonstration of what you get when you elect an anti-establishment candidate: Washington will not be ‘torn down’, and the result will ultimately be a chaotic administration.

Polling shows Trump beating Elizabeth Warren in 2020

By now most have heard ad nauseum how ‘Bernie would have won’. Few things are more annoying and disappointing for experienced campaigners and analysts to hear. Not because they are fans of Hillary Clinton, but because the sentiment demonstrates the extreme ignorance of the electorate – a huge obstacle to getting people elected who might actually unify and move the country forward.

Experienced analysts know that Bernie’s numbers were never there. His demographic was too young, and too often equally likely to vote Republican. It is extremely unlikely he could have won. (This is where Bernie supporters adopt another Republican line and complain that the polls are skewed).

Even today there are those that claim polling for the 2016 election was off. Those close to the campaigns, however, knew that the election was close all along. Indeed Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the race.

Today, more fodder for the conspiracy mill, and more facts for the rational political analysts: a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll is out, and it shows Trump leading Senator Warren, the other so-called progressive darling besides Senator Sanders, by 6 points, with 22% having no opinion one way or the other.

The poll sampled 1,791 registered voters, which is a large sample for the average poll, and was conducted days before North Korea’s missile test and the resignation of General Flynn.

In the poll, showing the economy and security leading voter concerns, Trump still enjoys a +4 approval rating (49/45).

A generic Democrat outperforms Warren by 7 points (43/36).

This is the difference between a primary contest and a general election. Only the most motivated vote during a primary, and many of those contests are open, allowing, for example, conservative voters to vote for Bernie Sanders. Closed primaries were a disaster for Sanders, which is why you heard his supporters complain so often about them.

This latest poll is fairly compelling evidence that the passionate inter-party support enjoyed by politicians like Sanders and Warren is not likely to translate to electoral victory, particularly when they are up against a ‘true’ Republican.

This poll may also be a warning that the Democratic Party brand is the biggest concern at this time, and forward-thinking liberals and progressives should now make efforts to turn away from cults of personality and myopic focus on one or two elective offices each election.

Poll: http://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000015a-418d-d693-abda-e7cdd76e0000

Consumer confidence index slips from thirteen-year high

The University of Michigan reported today that their index of consumer sentiment slipped almost three points from it’s thirteen-year high in January. The consumer expectations index dropped almost 5 points.

Both the stock market and consumer confidence increased after the national election in November, but now the numbers seem to be softening. Consumers who expressed an opinion about the policies of the current administration were nearly evenly split between those that viewed them negatively or positively. The University of Michigan reports that the number of respondents expressing an opinion, positive or negative, was unusually high.

Not surprisingly, the split was partisan, with Republicans anticipating growth, and Democrats predicting recession. Consumer expectations of inflation remain low as it appears a strong dollar is keeping prices in check.

While consumer confidence is relatively high, one economist did suggest that the slipping of confidence numbers may be due to a lack of concrete plans and proposals from the new administration.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-imports-idUSKBN15P1MU

Price tag for border wall estimated at $21.6 billion

A Donald Trump for President campaign sticker is shown attached to a U.S. Customs sign hanging on the border fence between Mexico and the United States near Calexico, California, U.S. February 8, 2017. Picture taken February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Reuters reports on in internal Homeland Security review of the costs and timeline for building a wall on the U.S./Mexico border. DHS estimates the cost at over $21B and the project to take between three to four years.

Of course, these numbers far exceed the optimistic projections that have been stated up to this point, and Mexico has made it clear that they have no intention of paying for the wall.

It is odd that Republicans, notorious for their lack of confidence in the government’s ability to manage large-scale projects for some reason feel that this project will somehow come in under budget and under schedule.  Large scale projects like this, either in the public or private sector, typically require several years of planning alone. While building a wall seems a simple prospect, site surveys and logistics alone for a project that covers such a large area requires a great deal of planning.

The current DHS report is a plan for 1250 miles of wall to be completed sometime in 2020.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-immigration-wall-exclusive-idUSKBN15O2ZN

FLORIDA: Voting Begins This Monday. Here’s What You Need To Know


Florida ballot recommendations: U.S. Congress, Florida State Legislature, Florida State Supreme Court, 11th Judicial Circuit Court, Miami-Dade Questions

Early voting for this November’s election begins in Florida this Monday October 24th.  Besides the election of the President, there are 40 offices up for vote. The number of offices on your ballot will vary depending on where you live. By now you may have received a sample ballot in the mail. If not, you can look yours up here, or go to your county’s elections department website.

Below are recommendations for voting this year. This article is written by a progressive, or what some would describe more generally as a lefty, so most of the ballot is easy: vote Democrat, not Republican.

The reason is simple: for all the talk of blue states and red states, almost every state is red. Yes, many states go reliably for Democratic presidential nominees, but when you look at the state governments, you find that the majority of politicians across the country are Republican.


Florida, in particular, is a Republican trifecta, holding the governorship, the state senate, and the state house. That means fracking, increased cancer-causing chemicals in our water, no expansion of medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, no high speed rail, and very little action on climate change.

So vote Democrat all the way down the ballot.

That leaves Judges, Amendments, local seats and local charter amendments.

In Florida, Judges either win elections, or are nominated by a commission and appointed by the governor. So even if Judges are removed, the new appointees will likely be favored by Republicans. However, in the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal, a new appointee only serves a year before facing a retention election. Five of those judges are on the ballot this year. If they are retained, they then serve a 6 year term. So voting against retaining partisan judges now limits the length of time the court is under Republican influence.

• Charles T. Canady: NO
Republican appointee, only justice to dissent on requiring death sentences to be unanimous, on Donald Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees, allowed deceptive Amendment 1 on the ballot.

• Jorge Labarga: NO
Havana, Cuba born Republican appointee, refused a new vote in the 2000 Gore v Bush election, allowed the deceptive Amendment 1 on the ballot.

• Ricky L. Polston: NO
Republican appointee, rated more conservative than average, often sides with business and Justice Canady.

Edwin A. Scales: NO
Republican appointee.

Linda Ann Wells: NO
Republican appointee, sided with condo developers over Vizcaya Gardens.


11th Judicial Circuit

• Mark Blumstein
The edge: length of experience, history of community service, interest in veterans issues.

• Carol “Jodie” Breece
The edge: Length of experience, experience in government ethics, diverse gender and ethnicity,

Local seats, for example on Community Development Districts, are highly local. I will not recommend individuals here. This is something that if it directly concerns you, in my opinion you should know the issues, or leave them blank and let those who do decide. I don’t think it ethical to guess.

Local charter amendments are generally a matter of principle, even if you do not fully understand the amendment.

• Special Purpose District Control Measure: Miami-Dade County On the ballot: NO
• Public Records Measure: YES




Think About This – Monday 8/8/16

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Here are a few things to think about this week when you are talking politics and policy:

• The world grows more peaceful and prosperous everyday. Violence and warfare have been declining since World War II.

• Respect for civil and human rights in the U.S. is growing greater every day. More police are wearing cameras, and more are being held accountable for their illegal actions. Everyone can now be married legally. Access to health care without being financially ruined is now considered more of a priority than ever.

• The father of the Irving, Texas student arrested for his home-made clock has filed a lawsuit against the school district for civil rights violations.

• Last Friday the Obama administration released a redacted version of its anti-terrorism policy, which includes the process of selecting targets and the use of “lethal force” against them. Little discussion of the actual document in the media. You can read the pdf here.

• More reports of Republicans jumping ship and endorsing Hillary Clinton.

Have a great week!


Haters, Whine All You Want. Hillary’s Nomination Is Unprecedented.

I just wanted to write a quick note to Hillary supporters with some info for when you hear haters complaining that Hillary is not the first woman to run for president. That is true, however:
• The Clinton campaign is not making that claim. Maybe some in the media have.
• Hillary is the first woman to win the nomination of the Democratic or Republican party.
• Lots of women have run for president. Very few have had ballot access in all 50 states, and none have won a fifty state national election to win the nomination – except Hillary.
• Most of the haters will bring up Victoria Woodhull. Interestingly, this is a terrible example.
• Woodhull had ballot access in NO states.
• Frederick Douglass was Woodhull’s vice-presidential nominee and Douglass neither accepted or acknowledged the nomination.
Lots of women have run for president, and they have paved the way for this historic election. But Hillary Clinton is the first candidate with a legitimate shot to win – the FIRST female front runner in the history of the country.
Hillary Clinton has won exponentially more votes than EVERY woman candidate in history COMBINED.
So yes, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is both historic and unprecedented, whatever the misogynists and haters will try to tell you.

Democrats’ War on Due Process and Terrorist Fearmongering Long Predate Orlando

Even worse was the messaging that came from an operative with CAP, who has become a little Twitter star among the Democratic faithful for his endless Cheneyite exploitation of terrorism fears to attack Republicans and justify gun watchlists. This is how he described Feinstein’s bill:

It’s hard to put into words how appalling that is. This CAP official is not only outright lying about Feinstein’s bill: pretending that it bars “terrorists” — rather than people placed on a suspicion watchlist — from buying guns. Worse than rank dishonesty, he is literally, explicitly equating people who will be deemed suspicious by the U.S. government — overwhelmingly Muslim, needless to say — with “terrorists.” As Sam Adler-Bell put it about this tweet, “Referring to all people on the DOJ’s watchlist as ‘terrorists’ is legally incorrect and ethically ugly.” In Volsky’s mind, or at least in his propaganda, anyone deemed by the government to be suspicious is now a “terrorist” — no evidence needed, no trial held, no due process accorded.

For eight years, this mentality was the driving force behind the worst Bush/Cheney war-on-terror abuses. No matter what the extremist policy was — indefinite detention, warrantless eavesdropping, torture, no-fly lists, Guantánamo, rendition, CIA black sites — Republicans would justify it by saying it was merely being done to “terrorists” and would accuse their due process-advocating critics of wanting to “protect terrorists.” What they actually meant was that all of this was being done to people accused by the U.S. government of involvement in terrorism. But in their mind, “government accusations of terrorism” were synonymous with “proof of guilt.”

That is exactly the warped, Orwellian formulation Democrats embrace: As is extremely obvious, the Democrats’ definition of “terrorist” is “anyone whom the U.S. government suspects of being a terrorist.” Just as was true of all those GOP abuses, what makes these Democratic proposals so dangerous is that they constitute a war on the most basic right of due process. As Vox’s Dara Lind explained, “If you give the government more power to ban terrorists from having guns, you’re reinforcing the power it has to define who counts as a terrorist.” That’s why the ACLU yesterday wrote to the Senate and denounced Feinstein’s bill:

Source: Democrats’ War on Due Process and Terrorist Fearmongering Long Predate Orlando


Florida considering weakening restrictions on discharging chemicals in water

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has proposed revising limits on toxic chemicals that can be released into surface waters, something it’s supposed to do from time to time under the Clean Water Act but hasn’t since the early 1990s.

The agency is updating human-health criteria for 43 dangerous chemical compounds it currently regulates and adopting standards for the first time for another 39.

Of the 82 toxic substances, the vast majority would have lower standards than recommendations from the Environmental Protection Agency. And of the 43 chemicals now regulated, a couple of dozen would see limits increased beyond those currently allowed.

DEP officials say the new standards — based on risk and factors like seafood consumption — would let Floridians safely eat Florida fish and drink local tap water their entire lives. They say the concentration of pollutants in the water wouldn’t pose a significant risk to the average Floridian’s health.

But environmental groups and some doctors say the new standards would increase chances people will get sick or develop cancer from the contamination in seafood and water. The proposal drew fire during a recent DEP workshop in Tallahassee, one of three held around the state.

Source: Florida considering weakening restrictions on discharging chemicals in water


Where Does the Islamic State Get Its Weapons?

The new data were collected by a three-year-old, London-based group called Conflict Armament Research, which sends investigators to conflict zones to identify the types and origins of weaponry. Its latest report, financed by the European Union, lists the origins of more than 1,700 cartridges collected in July and August in northern Iraq and northern Syria by investigators working alongside Kurdish forces that had fought IS.

The cartridges they found after four battles were manufactured for machine and submachine guns, rifles, and pistols. One Soviet-manufactured cartridge dated from 1945, a grim testament to the long-lasting impacts of weapons production.

Manufacturers in Russia and the former Soviet Union made a total of 492 of the recovered shells, according to the report. Russia has been a major arms supplier to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, whose forces also have been battling the Islamic State.

The presence of such weapons in IS’s hands makes clear that its fighters seized substantial stocks not only from Iraqi troops, but from Syrian troops as well. Another 26 of the recovered shells were made in Iran, an ally of Assad’s, and 18 were made in Syria itself, the report states.

The next-biggest country of origin for IS’s weapons was China. Of the cartridges recovered from Islamic State forces 445 came from China.

The third-highest supplier was the United States, with 323 cartridges, the report said. Some of these shells, meant for M16A4 assault rifleswere made at the U.S. Army’s munitions factory in Independence, Missouri, according to the report.

Source: Where Does the Islamic State Get Its Weapons?


House Democrats Stage a Sit-in on the House Floor on Gun Control

But members of Congress are among the most powerful political actors in the country, and they are acting on an issue that is endlessly discussed and debated, not one that requires unusual tactics, like subverting order in the national legislature, to air all sides of the matter. When Republicans respond to not getting their way by undermining legislative norms, the press objects.

It should object here.

Legislators who lack the votes to do what they want have the platform to persuade the public and to campaign to oust their colleagues. Precisely because of their political power, their extra-political machinations have less legitimacy. And they are likely to fail, because they do nothing to change the underlying obstacles to more gun control: the Constitution, a determined minority interest group that cares about the issue more than its opponents, and voters who, while well to the left of the NRA, are well to the right of congressional Democrats on guns.

Source: House Democrats Stage a Sit-in on the House Floor on Gun Control – The Atlantic


A House of Representatives Sit-In? Whatever.

Today Dems are staging a sit in in the House. Regular readers can probably guess my position on the matter. I don’t want to denigrate other people’s actions for change, but since the story is being so widely reported and commented on, I feel like I would be remiss in not sharing an opinion.
A sit-in is not legislating.
This is not 1960.
Any concessions will be for a vote that is guaranteed to fail.
Since I was admonished recently for not being explicit about my preferred method to achieve legislative progress, here are the bullet points:
• Have a hearing to determine the most effective and comprehensive changes that should be made Constitutionally and in the public interest.
• Create a bill called something like “Terrorist Weapon Prevention Act”
• Create a bill called something like “The Disarm Terrorists Act”
• The “Terrorist Weapon Prevention Act” will have one intent, e.g. block those on the watchlist from buying guns or other weapons.
• “The Disarm Terrorists Act” will have all the legislative recommendations of the congressional hearing, starting with
the one in the “Terrorist Weapon Prevention Act”
• Present the “Terrorist Weapon Prevention Act” to Congress, again and again, publicize it, comment on it, until it is passed, at least in some form.
• Once the “Terrorist Weapon Prevention Act” is passed in some form with a single intent, begin submitting amendments based on the original congressional recommendations, one at a time, until the bill is amended.
• Meanwhile, take “The Disarm Terrorists Act” to every state legislature, in its entirety, making every effort to force votes IN THE STATES.
• Use the bill and the votes on “The Disarm Terrorists Act” in the states to force progress on gun control, or to damage Republican state representatives in local races, turning state legislatures as Democratic as possible.

Iraqi forces seize most of Fallujah from ISIS

Iraqi special forces swept into Fallujah on Friday, recapturing most of the city as the Islamic State terror group’s grip crumbled after weeks of fighting.

Thousands of trapped residents took advantage of the militants’ retreat to flee, some swimming across the Euphrates River to safety.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said it was “too early to tell” if Iraqi forces control all of the city. “There is still some fighting to be done.”

Carter said the U.S. military supported the Iraqi forces with advise and air support.

As many as 42,000 people have left Fallujah since the military operation against Fallujah began in late May, according to the United Nations. The Iraqi operation to retake Ramadi left that city largely in ruins. The city once was home to nearly half a million people, but the violence forced most of them to flee.

Read Full Article: Iraqi forces seize most of Fallujah from ISIS | Fox News