The greatest threat to democracy; it’s not just Trump

Trump, for all his destruction of leadership norms and erratic, inflammatory behavior, is not the greatest threat to democracy, argues Eleanor Clift in The Daily Beast. That dubious honor goes to Republican Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell
“The events in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend give new meaning to the phrase the enemy within. The country is under siege from what law enforcement officials are calling domestic terrorism inspired by white supremacist ideology,” writes Clift. “What to do? All roads lead to Moscow Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who won’t allow debate on remedies for gun violence and refuses to take up gun-control legislation passed by the House to expand background checks.”

Moscow Mitch could fight the bloodshed right now and call back the Senate to vote on the House’s background check bill, writes Clift. But he won’t.

“Anyone who knows anything about McConnell knows that’s not happening,” says Clift. “At Team Mitch, it’s been business as usual. Just hours after the El Paso shooting, the campaign tweeted a photo of a single tombstone bearing the name of McConnell’s Democratic challenger. Another tweet shows seven grinning young white men in ‘Team Mitch’ T-shirts pawing a cardboard cutout of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez with the caption, ‘break me off a piece of that.’”

“McConnell’s cudgel is the 60-vote filibuster,” continues Clift. “In today’s closely divided senate (53 to 47), those few votes give McConnell his power. There’s no way to get to 60 votes to force a floor vote on anything gun-related, so McConnell gets to operate with absolute immunity knowing a handful of GOP defectors joining the Democrats can’t reach that threshold, and most won’t even risk it.”

This is what he has used to block popular action on everything from background checks to protecting young immigrants to election security, all while spending the Senate’s whole time confirming far-right judges.

“McConnell is accountable only to the Republican voters of Kentucky, and he showers them with benefits,” writes Clift. “He’s up for reelection in 2020 and he’s facing the best the Democrats have to offer, Amy McGrath, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot who will have the blue wave at her back in red Kentucky. That may not be enough, but wouldn’t it be sweet if it were.”

She quotes Ira Shapiro, a former congressional staffer, who told her in an email, “We will not have a functioning Senate or a healthy politics until Senator McConnell is ousted from power.”

Raw Story

 

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The Director of National Intelligence: From bad to much worse

Trump forces DNI Coats out

Dan Coats was never our top pick to head the Intelligence community but while we disagreed with his politics he did a credible job running the agency. Now Tyrant Trump, in his continuing slow-rolling bit take over of the US Government. is going to try an install his flunkey John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as intelligence chief

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, among many others, called Coats’ resignation “bad news for the security of America”

Trump announced in a tweet Sunday that Dan Coats will step down as the director of national intelligence on August 15. In his place, Trump will nominate far-out conspiracy theorist John Ratcliffe a republican congressman from Texas, to head the intelligence community.

“I am pleased to announce that “highly respected”(?) Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the country he loves. Dan Coats, the current Director, will be leaving office on August 15th. I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country. The Acting Director will be named shortly.”

In a resignation letter submitted Sunday, Coats said he had overseen the reauthorization of surveillance rules allowing the U.S. to collect the online communications of foreigners outside of the country, addressed threats to U.S. elections and improved the intelligence community’s budget processes. Things that Trump isn’t the least bit interested in.

“The intelligence community is stronger than ever and increasingly well prepared to meet new challenges and opportunities,” Coats said. “I believe it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”

Coats, a former ambassador and conservative Republican senator from Indiana, spent his tenure in the administration publicly at odds with Trump on issues such as Russian election interference, North Korea, climate change and the capability of terrorist groups, particularly ISIS. He reportedly considered stepping down in February over his frustrations with Trump but Vice President Mike Pence, who is said to be one of his closest allies in the administration, persuaded him to remain in the role.

Late on Sunday, kiss up Ratcliffe tweeted that he was “deeply grateful” to Trump for “the opportunity to lead our Nation’s intelligence community and work on behalf of all the public servants who are tirelessly devoted to defending the security and safety of the United States.”

Ratcliffe’s nomination follows his audition of extremely aggressive questioning of Robert Mueller during the former special counsel’s congressional testimony last week.

A former prosecutor and staunch Trump ally, Ratcliffe garnered praise from Trump’s allies for his over the top grilling of Mueller

House and Senate leaders in both parties appeared rattled at the news that Coats was stepping down. Democrats condemned Trump’s pick, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stating Coats’ resignation “is bad news for the security of America.” Even “Moscow Mitch” McConnell said he was “very sorry to learn” that Coats would be leaving his job. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vehemently denounced Trump’s plan to nominate Ratcliffe to replace Coats. “It’s clear that Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to Trump with his demagogic questioning of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III,” Schumer said in a statement. “If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and nonpartisanship, it would be a big mistake.”

Ratcliffe’s suck-up performance in the Mueller hearing earned him attention among Trump and other Republicans, But Ratcliffe had also been on Trump’s short-list to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions before he ultimately chose another total lackey William Barr.

Trump has been wanting to replace Coats since at least February. Coats has drawn Trump’s ire more than once for not defending him publicly on matters of national security and foreign affairs. He was famously caught off guard during an on-stage interview at last year’s Aspen Security Form when he appeared visibly surprised by an announcement that Trump was planning on inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington.

“Say that again?” Coats quipped to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “That is going to be special.” That really pissed Trump off.

In January, Trump lashed out his top intelligence officials after they testified about their assessments of worldwide threats to U.S. national security, which presented significant differences with his own views.

“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” Trump tweeted at the time.

Post Based Info from Politico, Raw story, MSNBC, and Salon

Intelligence Committee: Russians hacked election systems in all 50 states, #MoscowMitch is cool with it

A report from the Senate Intelligence Committee shows the Russians targeted election systems in all 50 states. Senate Dictator and chief Trump enabler Mitch McConnell doesn’t care! Tag him #MoscowMitch

Wednesday, former special counsel Robert Mueller went before Congress and testified that the Russians were still interfering in U.S. elections and “they’re doing it as we sit here.”

In response, “Dictator of the Senate” #MoscowMitch McConnell blocked a series of election security bills that would have strengthened our election system. He said Democrats were only passing bills requiring paper ballots and funding the Election Assistance Commission for “political benefit.” The reality is there’s no way that either of those gives an edge to Democrats, but it clear that old #MoscowMitch feels that republicans retain an edge if he lets the Russians continue to meddle.

Russian meddling is far more widespread than many had first realized. On Thursday, right around the time #MoscowMitch was refusing to let the Senate even take a vote, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a bipartisan report saying election systems in all 50 states had been targeted by Russia during the 2016 elections. Worse, they gained some level of access in 21 states. (a fact we have stated here many times)

The Russians would have been able to delete voters from the rolls.  The report says that in at least one state — Illinois — the Russians gained a level of access where they could have actually deleted or changed votes.

They have been setting the stage for further interference. One cybersecurity expert told the committee Russian efforts looked like they were “conducting the reconnaissance…so that you could actually understand the network, establish a presence so you could come back later and actually execute an operation.”

These revelations are just the tip of the iceberg because the Intelligence Committee has been working on this report for two-and-a-half years, and this 67-page report issued Thursday is only one of five volumes it will release over the next month. A large portion of the report is redacted because of intelligence concerns, but what one can read is startling enough.

Importantly the committee found, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI got around to telling states about the hacking threat, which they didn’t do until well into the 2016 general election, “the warnings did not provide enough information or go to the right people.” Worse, the alerts provided “no clear reason for states to take this threat more seriously than any other alert received.”

#MoscowMitch has blocked election security bills twice this week and the Republican leader also prevented the Obama administration from warning Americans about Russian meddling in 2016.

With the 2020 election right around the corner, #MoscowMitch’s decision to look the other way has many calling him “Putin’s other puppet”