THEY CAN’T WIN THIS ONE

Even if Republican nominee Roy Moore wins the Special Election in Alabama, the Republicans will own him and his sexual abuse of two teenage girls. The person who has the most to lose is not Moore should he win. In fact, Moore will get what he wants by winning, a face off with the establishment. The person who will lose the most is Donald Trump.

Senator Lindsey Graham, another Republican lawmaker who called for Moore to quit the race after the sexual abuse allegations surfaced, told CNN on Sunday that if Moore wins the election, “it becomes an everyday case” for Republicans in Washington of whether Moore should be expelled from the Senate because of the sexual abuse allegations.

The views of Senator Graham are the opposite of Trump who for all intents and purposes endorsed Moore last week.

Graham told Trump, “You’re mistaken,” if he thinks it would easy for Republicans to align with Moore in the Senate should he win. “I’m not going down the road he’s going,” by supporting Moore.

The Republican party’s already tenuous hold on a Senate majority, now at 52-48, would be cut in half to 51-49 should Jones win. The “Trump Agenda” of hate will not move while Republicans are fighting among themselves. Moore creates an atmosphere of conflict between Trump and the very Senators he needs to destroy America.

They can’t win this one.

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SUPPORT THE GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY ACT

The Trump Administrations disastrous concept of foreign policy could eventually destroy efforts to stop global starvation. USAID and other fine agencies that deliver much needed aid to starving people must never be harmed by the Trump Administration. The lasting legacy of the proposed budget cuts to foreign aid will haunt the United States well after the debacle that is Trump is gone.

The Global Food Security Act which is part of the Feed the Future initiative, is a program that the U.S. government uses to combat global hunger. The genesis of this program can be traced back to the G-8 summit of 2009 where world leaders placed global hunger on the top of the agenda.

From the G-8 this idea has grown into an initiative to boost agricultural productivity as a tool to combat global hunger. This policy as a concept would not be workable without strong supply chains. Providing the tools of relief for any crisis whether it be hunger or something else requires logistics that put into place the actual supplies to combat the problem.

This is more than just a liberal hand out to hungry people. No, they can’t get a job and go to the market and buy their own food. No, they are not bums. These are the Republican reasons not to feed people in the United States and they are even more ridiculous when applied to third world countries.

Many of these nations lack the economies and infrastructure so to allow people to earn money and buy their own food. That is where USAID and the Global Food Security Act comes into play.

The United States has a moral responsibility to feed hungry people no matter where they exist. We as Democrats have a moral responsibility to work to protect programs like the Global Food Security Act from the hatchet job that Trump is trying to take to all us foreign aid.

If we fail then future Presidents will fail for a lack of important moral authority and diplomatic tools that food aid provides to the global community. The same global community that Trump fails to understand.

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IGNORANCE OF THE LAW

Once again Donald Trump has shown his ignorance of the law, policy and procedure. Once again, Trunp’s enablers have allowed this to happen and probably encouraged this to occur. In this most recent case, Trump has flouted the procedure as set forth in Dodd-Frank Act as it pertains to the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Recently the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau resigned Friday and named his own successor, leading to an open conflict with President Donald Trump, who announced a different person as acting head of the agency later in the day.

That means there are now effectively two acting directors of the CFPB, when there should only be one.

Typically an acting director position would be filled according to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. But Richard Cordray, along with his resignation, elevated Leandra English, who was the agency’s chief of staff, into the deputy director position.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB, English would become acting director. Cordray, an Obama appointee, specifically cited the law when he moved English, a longtime CFPB employee and ally of his, into that position.

Within a few hours, President Donald Trump announced his own acting director of the agency, Mick Mulvaney, who is currently director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney had widely been expected to be Trump’s temporary pick for the bureau until a permanent one could be found.

Mulvaney is a long-time critic of the CFPB, and has wanted the agency’s authority significantly curtailed. So the difference between English and Mulvaney running the agency would be significant.

This may not escalate into a full blown crisis only because Mulvaney as contemptable as he is does have an understanding of the law. The fact that the Senate must confirm any permanent replacement places the burden on the Republicans to explain what they plan to do to the CFPB. Mulvaney is not going to place himself in a position of being grilled by the Senate on why he ignored the law.

As we all know Republicans being put on the hot seat and trying to explain why they are going to harm consumers backfires. That is where this is going and from a pure theatrical point of view it will be worth watching. From a political point of view it will be yet another example of what Republicans want to do to this country and their ignorance of the law

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INTRODUCTION OF ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT

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ANOTHER JUDICIAL CHECK AGAINST EXTREMISM

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a new Texas law seeking to ban a commonly used abortion method, the latest in a string of court defeats to the Legislature’s attempts to make getting an abortion as difficult as possible in America’s second most-populous state.

Austin-based U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel extended indefinitely a temporary ban he’d previously issued before the law was set to take effect Sept. 1. That overturns – at least for now – a law that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed in June banning a second-trimester abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. Texas is set to appeal, but federal courts in at least four other states already had blocked similar laws.

Yeakel’s ruling followed a trial early this fall where the judge heard arguments from Texas, which defended the law, and from abortion rights groups who argue it unconstitutionally burdens women seeking abortions. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an immediate notice of appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

“A five-day trial in district court allowed us to build a record like no other in exposing the truth about the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortions. We are eager to present that extensive record before the 5th Circuit. No just society should tolerate the tearing of living human beings to pieces,” Paxton said in a statement.

Federal judges have already ruled against past Texas efforts to change the disposal of fetal remains and deny Medicaid funding to abortion provider Planned Parenthood over videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted most of a sweeping, anti-abortion law approved in Texas in 2013 which helped force the closure of more than half of the state’s abortion clinics.

Texas law

Texas for years approved tight abortion restrictions arguing that they would safeguard the lives of pregnant women. After the Supreme Court defeat, the Legislature this session began backing proposals aimed at protecting fetuses, but always with top Republicans’ stated goal of reducing the number of abortions performed in their state to as close to zero as possible.

The Texas law Yeakel suspended uses the non-medical term “dismemberment abortion” to describe a procedure in which forceps and other instruments are used to remove the fetus from the womb. Paxton’s office had argued that “prohibiting this inhumane procedure does not impose any significant health risks or burdens on women” while citing alternative procedures that abortion providers say are less safe and reliable.

However, in a 27-page opinion, Yeakel wrote that the Supreme Court had already weight in on second-trimester abortions twice. In both cases, justices held that “the law imposed an undue burden on a woman seeking a pre-fetal-viability abortion,” he wrote.

The power to decide to have an abortion “is her right,” Yeakel wrote, adding that the right over the interest of the fetus before it becomes viable “is self-evident.”

“Here the state’s interest must give way to the woman’s right,” Yeakel wrote.

Federal courts previously blocked dilation and evacuation bans in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Texas currently has around 20 abortion clinics, down from 41 in 2012.

 

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DEMOCRATIC WOMEN SEEK PASSAGE OF DREAM ACT

Democratic women Senate colleagues have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging him to pass the Dream Act as soon as possible before the Senate recesses in December.

In the letter, Cantwell, Murray, and nine other female Democratic Senators, including Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), emphasized the impact of President Trump’s decision to rescind the DACA program on women DREAMers, and their families, and underscored the need to pass legislation that would prevent them from being deported from the only home they have ever known.

“Women make up 53 percent of DACA recipients. According to the largest survey of DACA recipients, about one-quarter are parents of American citizen children,” the Senators wrote. “The futures of these mothers and their U.S. citizen children have been thrown into uncertainty. If Congress does not act to protect them, hundreds of thousands of women will lose their status and face deportation.”

The Senators expressed concern that these American citizen children of DACA recipients may end up in foster care if their mothers are deported. The Senators also noted that the fear of deportation leads fewer immigrants to report incidents of sexual abuse or domestic violence.

The full text of the letter is below:

November 21, 2017

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader

317 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Leader McConnell:

We write to urge you to pass the Dream Act as soon as possible and before the Senate recesses for the holidays. There is bipartisan support for Dreamers who have grown up as Americans and know only this country as their home. They are enrolled in our colleges, serving in our military, contributing to our economy and leading lawful, productive lives. It has been over two months since President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program and we have yet to see a Republican legislative plan to fix DACA. As mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers, we are particularly concerned about the harm immigrant women and young children face with the rescission of DACA.

Women make up 53 percent of DACA recipients. According to the largest survey of DACA recipients, about one-quarter are parents of American citizen children. The futures of these mothers and their U.S. citizen children have been thrown into uncertainty. If Congress does not act to protect them, hundreds of thousands of women will lose their status and face deportation.

The effects of deportation have a lasting impact on immigrant families. When a parent is deported, it leaves the other with the responsibility of raising a family as a single parent—likely on a single income. If both parents are deported, their children may end up in foster care. Dreamer parents deserve to raise their children with dignity and without the threat of deportation.

Through the DACA program, immigrant women have been able to secure jobs and educational opportunities that allow them to provide for themselves and their families. In fact, over 90 percent of DACA recipients are currently employed and approximately 70 percent were able to get better paying jobs through their DACA status. Without the Dream Act, women will face extreme difficulty making ends meet for their families.

Women deserve to feel safe and be protected, regardless of immigration status. Taking away DACA protections places survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault at risk of further exploitation. There is already increasing fear among immigrant survivors to report these crimes. In fact, nearly 43 percent of legal advocates said they had personally worked with a domestic violence or sexual assault survivor who dropped a civil or criminal case because they were too scared of potential immigration enforcement actions to continue.

If we do not act now to pass the Dream Act, thousands of Dreamer mothers and their families will face separation. The experience of Riccy Enriquez Perdomo, a DACA recipient and mother of two small children, who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this summer despite having DACA protection, is just one example of what could happen across the country if Congress fails to pass the Dream Act. Riccy was detained for seven days and shuffled to five different detention facilities during that time. Her family was unable to see her or even get accurate information on where she was being held. ICE had already prepared travel documents for her to be sent to Honduras before acknowledging their mistake. Riccy’s experience and the painful uncertainty her family faced will be repeated thousands of times across the country if we do not take action.

Dreamers should not be threatened with detention and deportation. Immigrant women contribute so much to our society and we cannot let them down. Congress should immediately consider legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

There is absolutely no doubt that America will benefit from passage of the Dream Act, and too much is at stake not to act. We urge you to bring this legislation to the Senate floor for consideration as soon as possible.

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AMEND THE CONGRESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 1995

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., have introduced legislation to overhaul the process of reporting sexual harassment. Victims of sexual misconduct are currently required to undergo counseling, mediation and a 30-day “cooling off period” before filing a formal complaint with the compliance office.

H.R.4396 would eliminate nondisclosure agreements as a condition of initiating mediation and create a public list to identify offices that have sexual harassment complaints pending.

The bill would also protect interns and fellows, make mediation and counseling optional, rather than required before a victim can file a lawsuit or formal complaint, and require members of Congress who settle discrimination cases to pay back the Treasury for the amount of the award.

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ECONOMIC COST OF OPIOID CRISIS

Opioid drug abuse, which has ravaged parts of the United States in recent years, cost the economy as much as $504 billion in 2015, White House economists said in a report made public on Sunday.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said the toll from the opioid crisis represented 2.8 percent of gross domestic product that year.

Using a combination of statistical models, the CEA said the lost economic output stemming from 33,000 opioid-related deaths in 2015 could be between $221 billion and $431 billion, depending on the methodology used.

In addition, the report looked at the cost of non-fatal opioid usage, estimating a total of $72 billion for 2.4 million people with opioid addictions in 2015. Those costs included medical treatment, criminal justice system expenses and the decreased economic productivity of addicts.

The CEA said its estimate was larger than those of some prior studies because it took a broad look at the value of lives lost to overdoses. The CEA also said its methodology incorporated an adjustment to reflect the fact that opioids were underreported on death certificates.

Opioids, primarily prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, are fueling the drug overdoses. More than 100 Americans die daily from related overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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A FIRST IN NEW ORLEANS

LaToya Cantrell, a City Council member who first gained a political following as she worked to help her hard-hit neighborhood recover from Hurricane Katrina, won a historic election Saturday that made her the first woman mayor of New Orleans.

The Democrat will succeed term-limited fellow Democrat Mitch Landrieu as the city celebrates its 300th anniversary next year.

“Almost 300 years, my friends. And New Orleans, we’re still making history,” Cantrell told a cheering crowd in her victory speech.

Immigrant wins council seat

Voters also made history in a New Orleans City Council race.

Cyndi Nguyen defeated incumbent James Gray in an eastern New Orleans district. An immigrant who fled Vietnam with her family when she was 5 in 1975, Nguyen is the organizer of a nonprofit and will be the first Vietnamese-American to serve on the council.

Mayor’s race

In the mayor’s race, Cantrell was the leader in most polls before the runoff election, she never trailed as votes were counted.

Her opponent, former municipal Judge Desiree Charbonnet, conceded the race and congratulated Cantrell late Saturday. Later, complete returns showed Cantrell with 60 percent of the vote.

The two women led a field of 18 candidates in an October general election to win runoff spots.

Landrieu earned credit for accelerating the recovery from Hurricane Katrina in an administration cited for reduced blight, improvements in the celebrated tourism economy and economic development that included last week’s announcement that a digital services company is bringing 2,000 new jobs to the city.

But Cantrell will face lingering problems. Crime is one. Another is dysfunction at the agency overseeing the city’s drinking water system and storm drainage — a problem that became evident during serious flash flooding in August.

About 32 percent of the city’s voters took part in last month’s election. It was unclear whether turnout would surpass that on Saturday.

Cantrell faced questions about her use of a city credit card. Charbonnet had to fight back against critics who cast her as an insider who would steer city work to cronies.

Katrina a theme

Katrina was a theme in the backstory of both candidates. Cantrell moved to the city from California. Her work as a neighborhood activist in the aftermath of Katrina in the hard-hit Broadmoor neighborhood helped her win a seat on council in 2012.

Charbonnet, from a well-known political family in New Orleans, was the city’s elected recorder of mortgages before she was a judge. In the campaign she made a point of saying hers was the first city office to re-open after Katrina, providing critical property records to the displaced.

Former state civil court Judge Michael Bagneris, who finished third in last month’s race, endorsed Cantrell, as did Troy Henry, a businessman who also ran for the post last month.

University of New Orleans political science professor Edward Chervenak said the endorsements appeared to help Cantrell overcome revelations that she had used her city-issued credit card for thousands of dollars in purchases without clear indications that they were for public purposes. The money was eventually reimbursed, but questions lingered about whether she had improperly used city money for personal or campaign expenditures.

 

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THERE ARE NO WORDS

What could the United States government possibly say to a sexual abuse victim that is meaningful? Sorry is not enough, but maybe justice followed by a change in attitude is good start. Roy Moore has accelerated a conversation that has been retching up for weeks and now the military is finally opening up about its own issues.

The U.S. military on Friday disclosed for the first time base-by-base data on sexual assault reports, showing a higher number of reports at big military installations like Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia as well as overseas hubs like South Korea.

Sexual assault in the military, which is defined as anything from groping to rape, is believed to be significantly higher than the number of reports. The Pentagon said it estimates that, in 2016, less than a third of service members who experienced a sexual assault reported it.

The U.S. military said it believes that a biannual anonymous survey provides a more accurate estimate of the number of sexual assaults. According to the latest survey, 14,900 service members experienced some kind of sexual assault in 2016, down from 20,300 in 2014.

According to the newly released data, a collection of U.S. bases in South Korea had a combined 211 reports of sexual assault while Norfolk had 270 reports of sexual assault in the 2016 fiscal year, which began in October 2015 and ended in September 2016. That is down slightly from 291 cases at Norfolk in 2015.

The Pentagon did not elaborate on the data but noted that the reports showed where a victim reported a sexual assault, not necessarily where the sexual assault occurred.

Sexual assault reports from other big bases in 2016 included: Fort Hood in Texas with 199 reports; Naval Base in San Diego, California, with 187 reports; Camp Lejeune in North Carolina with 169 reports; Camp Pendleton in California with 157 reports, and Fort Bragg in North Carolina with 146 reports.

The Pentagon announced earlier this year a record total of 6,172 sexual assault reports in 2016, compared with 6,082 the previous year. This was a sharp increase from 2012, when 3,604 cases were reported.

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