Category Archives: Elections

House passes Russian sanctions bill by a veto-proof majority

Back in June, a bipartisan Senate majority easily approved legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia in response to Russia’s interference in the U.S. election on a vote of 97 to 2.

Putin’s pal in the White House launched an aggressive push to derail the bill, or to at least water it down considerably in the House.

The White House efforts failed.

Today the House passed a revised Russian sanctions bill on an overwhelming  — and veto-proof — vote of  419-3. That bill now goes back to the Senate where it is expected to pass by a veto-proof majority, again. What is Putin’s pal in the White House  to do? House passes Russia sanctions bill, setting up veto dilemma for Trump:

The House on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to advance new financial sanctions against key U.S. adversaries and deliver a foreign-policy brushback to President Trump by limiting his ability to waive many of them.

Included in the package, which passed 419 to 3, are new measures targeting key Russian officials in retaliation for that country’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as sanctions against Iran and North Korea in response to those nations’ weapons programs.

Members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have resisted the congressional push — in particular a provision attached to the Russian measures that would require Congress to sign off on any move to relieve those sanctions.

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Democratic Party announces a ‘Better Deal’ for America

On Monday, the Democratic Party began to get separation from its standard-bearer Hillary Clinton in 2016, and moving forward with a first draft of a plan for the 2018 midterms. The New York Times reports, Congressional Democrats Promise a ‘Better Deal’ for American Workers:

The Democratic Party wants to pick a fight with corporate America to win back Congress.

The big ideas in the economic agenda that congressional Democrats unveiled on Monday, including a higher minimum wage and lower drug prices, are aimed at reclaiming the party’s populist mantle from President Trump.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the driving force behind this “Better Deal,” said that Mr. Trump won the presidency by promising to help working Americans, only to abandon them. The Democrats are now hoping to reclaim Congress by making a number of the same promises to the same people.

“Old-fashioned capitalism has broken down to the detriment of consumers,” Mr. Schumer said on Monday afternoon in Berryville, Va., about an hour west of Washington.

Yet there were some striking omissions in the plan. There was no talk about health insurance beyond prescription drug prices. There was no discussion of trade policy beyond a placeholder sentence promising more details later; Mr. Schumer’s office said Democrats planned to roll out a detailed trade agenda in the fall. And party leaders did not embrace liberal concerns about the outsize economic role of the financial industry.

The focus, instead, was on a fairly small set of battle-tested ideas. And though Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont was not present on Monday, the imprint of his presidential campaign was unmistakably present. Democrats proposed to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour — an idea the party’s 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, never heartily embraced.

The “Fight for $15” has energized parts of the Democratic base, and it has racked up impressive victories in states including New York and California and cities from Seattle to Washington.

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Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer

The breaking news last night is that Senator John McCain’s surgery last week to remove a blood cot in his brain came back with a biopsy result that he has brain cancer. Sen. John McCain has brain tumor, doctors say:

U. S. Senator John McCain

Sen. John McCain revealed Wednesday that he has a primary brain tumor. The cancer was discovered during cranial surgery last week to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

In a statement from Mayo Clinic, McCain’s doctors described the tumor as a glioblastoma.

The American Brain Tumor Association describes glioblastoma tumors as typically malignant and difficult to treat because they contain many types of cells.

“It’s a very aggressive tumor,” said Dr. Joseph Zabramski, a neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix not involved in McCain’s treatment. “In general, it is a tumor that has relentless force. You can slow it down but not stop it.”

The median survival rate for the most common type of glioblastoma is 14.6 months, according to the association. About 30 percent of patients live two years with glioblastomas.

The 80-year-old McCain, R-Ariz., is reviewing treatment options with his family. Those could include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, according to the Mayo statement.

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‘Trumpcare’ part the infinity, a return to the bad old days before ‘Obamacare’ – kill this bill

Evil GOP bastard Mitch McConnell unveiled “Trumpcare” part the infinity on Thursday, an evil concoction of truly bad ideas cooked up in the dark in secret without input from stakeholders, the public, or even most senators, and without any public hearings or vetting. This latest iteration of McConnell’s evil plan is just as bad, if not worse, than his earlier evil concoctions.

The new Senate health care bill — and the return of preexisting conditions — explained by Sarah Kliff:

Senate Republicans introduced a revised version of their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, one that would allow insurers to once again deny coverage based on preexisting conditions, and to charge higher rates to sick people.

The bill would keep most of the Affordable Care Act’s tax increases but repeal one aimed specifically at medical device manufacturers. It would deeply cut the Medicaid program, making few changes to the bill’s first draft.

Even with these new changes, the general structure of the bill stays the same from its original draft, which was itself largely similar to the bill that passed the House in the spring.

Healthier and higher-income Americans would benefit from the changes in the new Republican plan, while low-income and sick Americans would be disadvantaged. It would create a two-track system for health coverage on the individual market. One would offer cheaper, deregulated health plans [“skinny” coverage or “junk insurance”], which healthy people would likely flock to. The other would include comprehensive plans governed by Obamacare’s regulations, which would cost more and mostly be used by less healthy people and those with preexisting conditions — a system experts expect would function like a poorly funded high-risk pool. [A “death spiral” for this plan.]

Deductibles would almost certainly rise under the Republican plan, as would overall costs for low- and middle-income Americans. Individual market participants would have more options to purchase catastrophic coverage, an option likely to appeal to those with few health care costs.

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Trial begins in challenge to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce bill to deny your constitutional right to citizen initiative (Updated)

Yesterday I posted about the signature gathering efforts for the referendums currently circulating out there challenging onerous changes to Arizona’s citizen initiative process passed by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature to effectively render the citizen initiative process impossible unless financed by big corporate dollars, i.e., the Arizona Chambers of Commerce, the evil bastards behind these bills to take away your constitutional rights as a citizen of Arizona.

One petition is from Grassroots Citizens Concerned (R-01-2018), and two other petitions are from Voters of Arizona (R-03-2018 and R-04-2018). These are grassroots efforts, and I have not heard from either group how their signature gathering is going to date. They have an August 8 deadline to file.

UPDATE: The Arizona Capitol Times now reports Campaign to overturn citizen initiative restriction dead:

Foes of new restrictions on the ability of people to propose their own laws have suspended their effort to used paid circulators to gather signatures to quash the law.
Campaign manager Joe Yuhas said this afternoon that all the financial resources of Voters of Arizona are being funneled into convincing a judge that one of the changes violates the state constitution. What that means, he said, is no cash for anything else.

Yuhas said that, strictly speaking, the political campaign to refer — and overturn — what the legislature did is not over. He said volunteers continue to try to get the 75,321 valid signatures on each of two separate petitions.

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Jared Kushner a ‘person of interest’ in the Russian digital operation

McClatchy News continues its investigative reporting into the Russian cyber war against the U.S. during the 2016 election. Previous post McClatchy News: Russia uses ‘bots’ and trolls for information war against U.S.

Today McClatchy News reports Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation:

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.

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