Who we think about when we think about domestic policy

Childhood Poverty in the US: https://www.aft.org/growth-child-poverty-mapped-county-50-states

Who you think about when you think about domestic policy affects your priorities and the conclusions you reach.

We know who Republicans are thinking of, their country club buddies and billionaire masters.

For other politicians, it’s people like the fictional “Bailey family” of Long Island, who are relatively well-off and seem to obsessively worry about the price of gas.

I have a different point of view. I am completely oblivious to the concerns of the billionaire and country club set, they can take care of themselves and will always find a way to come out on top. I am a little more concerned about the Baileys as they try to make their way through a world where very little is assured for them.

But when I think of domestic policy, I focus mostly on the cares of a 15 year old who finds herself in difficult circumstances. Perhaps her family is mired in poverty. Her community might be struggling with environmental destruction, economic malaise, opioid crises or destroyed infrastructure. Her schools have a few great teachers who are underpaid, but not enough of them. There are few or no public resources for guidance or counseling. Facilities are crumbling everywhere she looks. Her limitless potential will be squandered, unless the right healthcare, education and support reach her in time.

It’s with this young person in mind that I evaluate domestic policy. Her needs are a thought experiment that reveal policy intent. For example, when I hear a politician offer “tax-advantaged accounts” as a policy solution, I know they aren’t on her side. They’re thinking of the country club set, who can hire accountants and advisers to leverage these structures into tax avoidance schemes. It might benefit the Baileys, if they have managed to scrounge together some savings or have a sharp tax preparer. They sure won’t do anything for her.

When a politician tells me they’ll “means test” a benefit and require applicants to fill out multi-page forms processed by an impersonal bureaucracy, I know they aren’t thinking of her. She knows enough about the world to recognize when people don’t like her or think she’s unworthy. Chances are someone will try to shame her as she applies, or dismiss her application for minor infractions. She won’t trade her dignity for this benefit today.

But when a politician proposes a simple, universal program, and frames it as a right, I know they are thinking of her.

If we can get the news to her that she has a right to health-care, she will be emboldened to ask for her rights. If we call it Medicare For All, she knows it covers her without question. It’s for everybody. The receptionist at the doctor’s office can’t try to shame her for being poor or using a “means tested” program. She’ll have the same card and coverage that everyone else uses to receive healthcare.


If we get word to her that tuition free college education is just as much her right as public school is, she will find a way to exercise that right. She knows what a right is, it’s for her, it applies equally to everyone. You cannot be shamed for exercising your rights, you cannot be made to feel like you don’t belong when you have a right to be there. She will know others around her who have gone to college tuition free, it’s not just for rich people.

In 2017, New York City instituted Universal School Lunch to remove the stigma attached to school lunch. Every child in the country’s largest school system has the right to receive a free lunch at school. When they made the case for this policy, teachers with the UFT estimated that one-third of New York City students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch would rather not eat because of the embarrassment of taking a free meal.

Around the time NYC was considering this policy change, the Urban Institute and Feeding America conducted a study in ten communities impacted by food insecurity. In both urban and rural communities, they invited teenagers to relate stories of how hunger impacted them and their peers. The children related stories of kids going hungry so their younger siblings could eat, about saving school lunches to eat later during the day, hanging out at the homes of friends or neighbors hoping their families would invite them to dinner. And also this…

Teens in all 10 communities and in 13 of the 20 focus groups talked about some youth selling sex for money to pay for food.These themes arose most strongly in high-poverty communities where teens also described sexually coercive environments. Sexual exploitation most commonly took the form of transactional dating relationships with older adults. [Impossible Choices]

There’s a chance she has seen or experienced something like this. I want politicians who are on her side. I want leaders who say clearly and unequivocally, that in a country as rich as the United States, it is unacceptable for children to go hungry. When Republicans talk about the “undeserving” recipients of social programs, I want politicians willing to publicly shame them for corporate and country club welfare. I want politicians who are willing to fight for her dignity.

LBJ is a complicated figure. But early in his life he spent a year teaching in a segregated school for Mexican-American children in Cotulla, Texas. The students were poor, as was the community. After signing the landmark Higher Education Act of 1965, LBJ went back to San Marcos county and said this:

I shall never forget the faces of the boys and the girls in that little Welhausen Mexican School, and I remember even yet the pain of realizing and knowing then that college was closed to practically every one of those children because they were too poor. And I think it was then that I made up my mind that this nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.

For all his faults, in his landmark Great Society programs I know LBJ was thinking of those kids. While he had control over the machinery of our government, he engaged in a mad, relentless, dash to use every lever he could for those kids.

Those kids were who he thought of when he thought of domestic policy. This is the best part of LBJ’s complex legacy.

So when I think about domestic policy, I think of her. I ask myself this:

Is the policy as simple to access and understand as Social Security?

Is it as universal as Medicare For All?

Is it a right like public school or college?

Is the law written for her, or was it written for the country club set?

 — @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at TheProgressiveWing and Bankers4Bernie.com

Why is Sen. Feinstein offering a competing Climate Change proposal when GND polls at 81%?

Senate Resolution 59 is the Green New Deal. It currently has 12 Senate co-sponsors(that’s over 25% of the Democratic Senate Caucus). The co-sponsors include Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Kamal Harris, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Every single senator running for President is co-sponsoring this resolution. More importantly, the measure is overwhelmingly popular among voters. And when I say overwhelmingly, I’m not kidding:More than 80 percent of registered voters support the Green New Deal proposal being pushed by progressional Democratic lawmakers, a new poll found.

The survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans back the Green New Deal plan. — thehill.com/…

Read that again, 92% of Democrats support the Green New Deal. 64% of Republicans support it. 88% of independents support it.

Survey respondents were given a brief synopsis of the GND and asked whether they supported it.

Some members of Congress are proposing a “Green New Deal” for the U.S. They say that a Green New Deal will produce jobs and strengthen America’s economy by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. The Deal would generate 100% of the nation’s electricity from clean, renewable sources within the next 10 years; upgrade the nation’s energy grid, buildings, and transportation infrastructure; increase energy efficiency; invest in green technology research and development; and provide training for jobs in the new green economy.  — climatecommunication.yale.edu/…

Which leads to the question, why is Sen. Diane Feinstein proposing legislation that is virtually guaranteed to divide Democrats when S.Res. 59 comes up for a vote? Also, why is she offering a proposal universally considered weaker than the GND, when the GND has enormous public support?

It’s not even everything the Obama administration instituted via executive orders! It’s kind of going backwards. It is really weaker than the GND, let me use one small example. Here’s the GND:

(4) to achieve the Green New Deal goals and mobilization, a Green New Deal will require the following goals and projects— […]

(M) obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples for all decisions that affect indigenous peoples and their traditional territories, honoring all treaties and agreements with indigenous peoples, and protecting and enforcing the sovereignty and land rights of indigenous peoples — www.congress.gov/…

here’s Sen. Feinstein’s proposal:

(3) The United States shall ensure a just and equitable transition for all communities, including by: […]

(D) respecting the needs and wisdom of local communities in planning infrastructure changes, especially communities that have historically been marginalized or oppressed, including indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth — www.feinstein.senate.gov/…

There’s an enormous difference between “respect the needs and wisdom of” and “obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of”. The first is a relatively content-free platitude, the second is a concrete requirement. There are several other examples. Sen. Feinstein’s proposal does not talk about union labor, the GND does. The GND requires a full-scale mobilization effort over ten years. Sen Feinstein’s proposal has softer targets over 30 years. The GND proposes a high speed rail network and public transit, to reduce reliance on air and car travel, Sen. Feinstein’s proposal does not. Don’t take my word for it, please read them side by side and ask yourself why anyone would want to squander the enormous political momentum GND activists have built (80% of voters support them!) by offering up a weaker version.

That twitter thread is worth reading in full (h/t MB). But here’s the critical bit for the purpose of this discussion. Mitch McConnell intends to present S.Res. 59 up for a vote, in an attempt to divide Democrats.

Forget the video for a bit. It was a remarkably effective piece of activism, but after four different rec listed diaries, the video it is not worth discussing further. Let’s talk about policy and what actually needs to be done here.

Why does Sen. Feinstein think her proposal is better than S.Res.59?

Why does she think offering it up in the Senate is going to result in more tangible progress than throwing her back behind the resolution proposed by Sen. Markey in the Senate? 

Perhaps  Sen. Feinstein has reached a secret deal with Mitch McConnell. Perhaps she has reason to believe her resolution will pass with strong Republican support. If so, that would be great progress under a Republican administration and Senate. I would welcome it.

If however, Sen. Feinstein does not have such an agreement, then as RL Miller notes, her alternative proposal merely serves to divide Senate Democrats on this issue. What then is the point of the proposal? Why offer a divisive proposal when the one on the table has 92% support among Democrats?

I’m genuinely curious as to what Sen. Feinstein is thinking with her alternate proposal.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted to TheProgressiveWing

Netanyahu welcomes extremist Kahanist party into his already far-right alliance

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brokered a deal this week with the right-wing extremist party Jewish Power, which has roots in a violent, racist movement that Israel and the U.S. deemed a terrorist organization.

The agreement is Netanyahu’s effort to consolidate support before the country’s election in April. Although Netanyahu has long courted nationalist and religious parties as a means of undermining right-wing challengers and shoring up coalitions, his pact with Jewish Power goes beyond his previous alliances. One prominent Israeli diplomatic correspondent compared Netanyahu’s deal to an American president making a pact with the leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Jewish Power, or Otzma Yehudit, is led by followers of Brooklyn-born Meir Kahane, an openly racist and ultranationalist rabbi who led extremist organizations in the United States and Israel. Kahane, who was assassinated in 1990, was also the founder of the Jewish Defense League ? a violent anti-Arab organization founded in the U.S. that the FBI refers to as a terrorist group.  — https://www.huffpost.com/…

That KKK reference would be striking if it weren’t for the fact that our current president has a relationship with tiki-torch carrying KKK/Nazis that can only be characterized as mutual admiration.

Almost exactly 25 years ago, a former member of the Jewish Defense League, carried out a terrorist attack in Hebron. When he immigrated to Israel, Baruch Goldstein joined Kahane’s Kach party and served in the IDF. On February 25, 1994, he walked into the Cave of the Patriarchs and opened fire on Palestinian protesters killing 29 people and wounding 125 people. 

In response, the Israeli government imposed a two-week curfew on all Palestinians living in Hebron. Jewish settlers were unaffected by the curfew. 25 Palestinians were killed by IDF forces in protests and riots following the attack, as were 5 Israelis.

In the 25 years since, conditions for Hebron’s Palestinian residents have become progressively worse as successive Israeli governments have continued clampdowns on Hebron, effectively shuttering its once thriving markets.

Goldstein’s grave in the settlement of Kiryat Arba has become a shrine for extremists. The Israeli government banned Kahane’s Kach party, but Netanyahu’s approval of the alliance all but guarantees Kahane’s followers a seat in the next Parliament and the ruling coalition.

Netanyahu’s Likud party announced it would reserve the 28th spot on its parliamentary list for the Jewish Home party and grant it two Cabinet ministries in a future government if it merges with the Jewish Power party.

Jewish Power is comprised of hard-line religious nationalists who have cast themselves as successors to the banned Kahanist movement, which dreamed of turning Israel into a Jewish theocracy and advocated forced removal of its Palestinians. — www.nytimes.com/…

The response to Netanyahu’s move among most on the left and Americans has been almost uniformly one of horror. I’ll let Chemi Shalev explain:

For U.S. Jewry, Kahanist Caper Casts Netanyahu as Prince of Darkness and Trump on Steroids 

Even AIPAC broke its usual silence after Netanyahu legitimized followers of the infamous Rabbi Kahane, who was a household name in America before setting foot in Israel — Chemi Shalev in Haaretz

Several US politicians have also spoken out against the alliance:

The first member of Congress to address the issue on Friday was Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Nadler shared a news story on the deal (from The Times of Israel) and wrote: “The promotion and inclusion of an avowedly racist party is a betrayal of Israeli democracy and of Israel’s friends and supporters around the world.” He added that the legitimization of racist views “is simply unacceptable.”

Hours later, Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida and the chairman of the House sub-committee on the Middle East, shared AIPAC’s criticism and wrote: “This racist and reprehensible party must not be legitimized. Otzma Yehudit’s hatred is not a reflection of the values of the state of Israel was founded upon, and it should be rejected.” — https://www.haaretz.com/…

In the broader sweep of history, the alliance makes perfect sense. After all, Likud, Netanyahu’s party was also founded by terrorists. 

Likud was created in 1973 by Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir among others. It came to power for the first time in 1977, in an election that marked a  dramatic shift from left to right in Israeli politics. So much so, that it is often called “the revolution”. Begin became Prime Minister and Shamir served as Speaker of the Knesset. This was a remarkable change of fortune for the two, who had been virtual pariahs in Israeli politics.

In the late 1940s, Begin led the Irgun, and Shamir was part of the leadership of the even more extreme splinter group Lehi. During the 1930s and 1940s, the two groups bombed hotels, markets and bus stops, killing hundreds of civilians. They had also targeted British soldiers and policemen. Most notoriously, in 1947, they kidnapped two British sergeants. The parents of the two soldiers made personal appeals to Irgun leaders to release their children. Under Begin’s direct orders, both soldiers were hanged. The parallels with Hamas’ abduction of Israeli soldiers (which the current Israeli government decries in the strongest terms) is striking.

Lehi, under Shamir, assassinated the UN appointed mediator, Folke Bernadotte in 1948 when it was clear he would recommend the unconditional return of all Palestinian refugees and a re-assessment of the UN partition plan. Bernadotte, by the way, had rescued hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jews from Nazi concentration camps. That’s part of the reason Israel had agreed to his appointment as mediator. The nascent Israeli government branded Lehi a terrorist group and briefly imprisoned all its members. They were pardoned within months.

Lehi and Irgun were also responsible for some of the worst violence during the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from what was to become Israel. This included multiple instances where civilian homes were bombed while residents were inside.

The original platform of Likud does not accept Palestinian rights in the West Bank and has never been formally repudiated by the party:

Judea and Samaria will not be handed to any foreign administration; between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.

So in a very real sense, Likud’s alliance with Otzma Yehudit is a genuine meeting of the minds.

— @subirgrewal

Castro, Harris, Warren declare support for reparations. What does that mean in policy terms?

Here’s America’s first black president talking about reparations for slavery and systematic discrimination.

Obama: Theoretically, you can make, obviously, a powerful argument that centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination are the primary cause for all those gaps. That those were wrongs done to the black community as a whole, and black families specifically, and that in order to close that gap, a society has a moral obligation to make a large, aggressive investment, even if it’s not in the form of individual reparations checks, but in the form of a Marshall Plan, in order to close those gaps. It is easy to make that theoretical argument. But as a practical matter, it is hard to think of any society in human history in which a majority population has said that as a consequence of historic wrongs, we are now going to take a big chunk of the nation’s resources over a long period of time to make that right. […]

Obama: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I guess, here’s the way—probably the best way of saying it is that you can make a theoretical, abstract argument in favor of something like reparations. And maybe I’m just not being sufficiently optimistic or imaginative enough—

Coates: You’re supposed to be optimistic!

Obama: Well, I thought I was, but I’m not so optimistic as to think that you would ever be able to garner a majority of an American Congress that would make those kinds of investments above and beyond the kinds of investments that could be made in a progressive program for lifting up all people.

— Dec 2016 interview: www.theatlantic.com/…

In a sign of how far Democrats have come in a two years, several major presidential candidates are now on the record as saying they support some form of reparations for black Americans impacted by the legacy of slavery and discrimination.

In an interview on The Breakfast Club last week Sen. Kamala Harris agreed with a host when he asked whether government reparations were necessary. Her campaign followed that up with a statement released to the NY Times, Ms. Harris said:

“We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities. I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.” — www.nytimes.com/…

But Senator Harris is not the only candidate saying this in 2019. So is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Rep. Julian Castro.

Ms. Warren also said she supported reparations for black Americans impacted by slavery — a policy that experts say could cost several trillion dollars, and one that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many top Democrats have not supported.

The Warren campaign declined to give further details on that backing, but it came amid her calls for the federal government to provide special home-buying assistance to residents of communities that were adversely affected by “redlining,” the discriminatory practice of denying mortgages, usually in poor and nonwhite areas.  […]

That two leading Democratic candidates have embraced reparations — the concept that the federal government should both acknowledge the ongoing legacy of slavery and discrimination and provide compensatory payment to those affected — is a major shift from past presidential campaigns and a win for activists who have tried to push the issue into the mainstream for decades. Julián Castro, the former cabinet secretary who is also running for president, has also indicated that he would support reparations.

— www.nytimes.com/…

None of the candidates has outlined policies or proposals that would address the question of reparations, which is where the rubber is going to meet the road. As Obama noted, there are several considerations, including gaining Congressional support, and what form such reparations take. For example “investments in affected communities” could mean a whole lot of things that aren’t very different what general progressive proposals.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is widely considered to be the most progressive candidate in the race has thus far offered a different response to the question of reparations. Here’s Briahna Gray describing Bernie’s position:

Prior to the 2016 election, Ta-Nehisi Coates, who ultimately voted for Sanders, wrote, “Sanders’s basic approach is to ameliorate the effects of racism through broad, mostly class-based policy — doubling the minimum wage, offering single-payer health-care, delivering free higher education. This is the same ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ thinking that has dominated Democratic anti-racist policy for a generation.”

But the Democratic Party has never backed anything approaching the redistributive goals contemplated by Sanders’s 2016 agenda. The party’s economic plan has historically focused on economic mobility, “access” to “opportunity,” and removing barriers to participating in a capitalist economy. Child care programs, paid sick leave, and job training initiatives are promoted as strategies to ensure that all Americans can participate in what most Democrats see as a fundamentally functional system. — theintercept.com/…


She then goes on to note that the accumulated wealth disparity between black Americans and all others would take centuries to address under any “rising tide” approach. Here’s Bernie talking specifically about reparations two years ago, and this is the clip Coates was referring to.

Though in many ways, it appears Bernie is discussing the same sorts of proposals other candidates are alluding to, this was a dissatisfying response for many supporters (including me), and I am hopeful Sen. Sanders will have a better response in 2019.

In terms of concrete actions, we have one we can ask all candidates about.

For decades Rep. John Conyers had proposed H.R. 40, a bill to authorize a commission to explore the impact of slavery and the question of reparations. The bill’s summary reads:

To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes. — www.congress.gov/…

In the current Congress, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18) has offered up the same bill. It currently has 25 co-sponsors, though in the past it has had as many as 48. Establishing a commission to study the issue is a simple, concrete first step that all our candidates should be able to get behind. It also allows us to have a more meaningful conversation around the kind of policies that would be effective at addressing the long-term, inter-generational impacts of slavery and systemic racism.

ACTIONPlease call your Representative and ask them to co-sponsor Rep. Jackson Lee’s H.R. 40.

This latest iteration of Democrats’ evolving views on reparations seems to have been sparked by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said:

I will also note that any such discussion of reparations must include native american communities. Many native communities suffered under slavery, starting with the very earliest European settlement of these continents. Yet others were forced to perform labor or dispossessed, often directly by the US government. Democratic candidates will also have to address that. 

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at The Progressive Wing

Bernie to affirm that he will run and serve as a Democrat.

Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to sign a party pledge affirming that he will run for president as a Democrat in 2020 and serve as one if elected, senior campaign adviser Jeff Weaver told CNN on Wednesday.

The Democratic National Committee said on Tuesday that it planned to meet in the coming week with the presidential primary campaigns and distribute a form to the candidates, who under bylaws agreed on last August will be required “to affirm in writing” that they “are a member of the Democratic Party, will accept the Democratic nomination” and “will run and serve as a member of the Democratic Party.”Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate and ran in the party’s 2016 primary, announced his second White House bid on Tuesday morning. His refusal to more formally embrace the party has been a sore spot with some Democrats. — www.cnn.com/…

I hope this re-assures those who have been concerned about the lack of a (D) next to his name

— @subirgrewal

AOC asks why we don’t treat “human capital” creation at least as well as real-estate speculation.

Our ancestors knew this and translated it into actual policy (with flaws of course). Which is why they enacted the Land Grant Colleges act in 1862, funding institutions in each state through the grant of public lands:

each State which may take and claim the benefit of this act, to the endowment, support, and maintenance of at least one college where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life. — www.ourdocuments.gov/…

We can go back even further in this nation’s history to see the weight this country’s founders placed on education:

Knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. — Continental Congress in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787

A toxic mix of racism yoked to right-wing ideology has sought to destroy the system of public education in this country for over 30 years. So it is gratifying to see a new generation of leaders lift up the banner of public education again. They are adept in both the language of our current punditry (“human capital” for example) and know how to use that language to further egalitarian ideals.

We are being reminded that our true long-term value and worth as a nation lies in the collective knowledge and character of our people.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at The Progressive Wing

Is this the public face of Daily Kos?


This is a contributing editor on Daily Kos

His Twitter profile, and any political relevance this person has, derives from this platform. He loudly touts his DKos association on Twitter, in his handle. He is listed on the Daily Kos masthead.

The owner of this site has been doing the rounds of various media outlets presenting Daily Kos as a center of Democratic party activism. He’s been touting polls conducted here as an indication of the level of support various candidates have among activists. Implicit in the publicity surrounding this poll if the assumption that the site and its editors are somewhat neutral, if opinionated among candidates. 

The site’s mission is to “elect more and better Democrats, to advocate for specific issues, or even to socialize among like-minded friends”. 

How, exactly does a contributing editor taking a very public stance that they are “going to fuck Bernie” further these aims? How can this site rationally associate with such a person and justify giving them a platform?

Bernie Sanders is outreach chair for Senate Democrats and part of the Senate leadership. He has caucused with Democrats in Congress since 1991, over 28 years. He received over 13 million votes from Democrats in the 2016 primary. He is a co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus on the hill.  If he declares himself a candidate for 2020, he will likely poll in either first or second place.

I want this community to ask itself this. Would we tolerate this kind of rhetoric on this site? Should this site tolerate this kind of rhetoric among their editors and front page authors?

Is this the public face of Daily Kos?

If you think this is, consider your reaction if a DKos editor made such comments about ANY other candidate.

Imagine a DK editor making such comments about Kamala Harris, or Joe Biden, or Elizabeth Warren.

This is not a one-off tirade either. Review the comments below and see what this particular editor has to say repeatedly, over months. Replace Bernie’s name with someone you support and decide for yourselves whether this is what the public face of Daily Kos should be.


If these comments were made about any other candidate, we would say it was designed to divide Democrats.


“Bris” is the Hebrew word for circumcision and might not be a typo. The editor in question has a habit of taking the term “Bernie Bros” and changing it slightly in an effort to appear clever.


This is not a single night’s tirade. It is consistent, over months, even years:


Markos routinely retweets and interacts with this editor. Silence is implicitly sanctioning this behavior. It also raises some significant questions since Markos is back on MTP and MSNBC as a surrogate for “progressives”.  What should other guests on MSNBC make of Markos and the site that bears his name?

Is this what the site’s leadership believes the public face of Daily Kos should be? 

Is this an indication of where this site stands?

How many editors on this site intend to “fuck Bernie” if he runs?

When did this site’s prominent contributors decide rat-fucking Democratic candidates was part of their mission?

Can DK claim to speak for progressive Democrats if its editors engage in this kind of rhetoric?

Has this site learned absolutely no lessons from 2016?

Can it claim to speak for Democrats at all, if its editors slur prominent leaders in this way?

More fundamentally, what is this site for?

Because if this editor retains his position after these tirades, it definitely does not stand for “unity”.

— @subirgrewal

With respect to this editor’s “Bris” tweet. Some have claimed it was a typo. Others, that the editor may have been unaware of it. Whether it was a typo or not, the editor was made aware of it.


Circumcision has been used to identify and target Muslim and Jewish men during pogroms. See this story for an example from the 1990s which is personal because I lived in Bombay and witnessed a chunk of my family being terrorized by such stories, taunts and threats.

“Joking” about this is about as funny as “jokes” involving nooses/lynchings. It is indefensible.

Strangely enough, the editor in question posted this today:


There is a long history of attacks against Jewish candidates using similar imagery, whether or not it’s inadvertent, “Bernie’s bags of money” is an odd thing to say, especially about a candidate who is raising all his money from small donors. Several other candidates have openly courted large donors, they would seem to be a more apt target for a “bags of money” critique.

War criminals as considerate bosses and polite dinner party guests.

One of the good things about Twitter is it’s ability to reveal the vapidity and unearned privilege of so many people in politics. It also serves as a regular reminder that we share little if any values with prominent #NeverTrump conservatives. Here’s shameless hack Max Boot defending the honor of his “colleague”. Apparently, questioning a war criminal on the impact of his destructive actions during a job interview is an “ad hominem attack”:

Max Boot is a WaPo columnist and fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations. Therefore a member of the “very serious person” clique that inhabits DC and thinks nothing of abuses of power that enhance their careers.

I’m sure when you’re sitting at a boardroom in DC discussing how to bring Democracy and Human Rights to some far-away place, it’s difficult to remember what the people around the table have done. Which is why it was essential that Rep. Omar Ilhan remind us what Abrams’ partners in bringing “Democracy” and “Human Rights” did in Guatemala. Let’s go to Corey Robin for that:

On 5 December 1982, Ronald Reagan met the Guatemalan president, Efraín Ríos Montt, in Honduras. It was a useful meeting for Reagan. ‘Well, I learned a lot,’ he told reporters on Air Force One. ‘You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries.’ It was also a useful meeting for Ríos Montt. Reagan declared him ‘a man of great personal integrity . . . totally dedicated to democracy’, and claimed that the Guatemalan strongman was getting ‘a bum rap’ from human rights organisations for his military’s campaign against leftist guerrillas. The next day, one of Guatemala’s elite platoons entered a jungle village called Las Dos Erres and killed 162 of its inhabitants, 67 of them children. Soldiers grabbed babies and toddlers by their legs, swung them in the air, and smashed their heads against a wall. Older children and adults were forced to kneel at the edge of a well, where a single blow from a sledgehammer sent them plummeting below. The platoon then raped a selection of women and girls it had saved for last, pummelling their stomachs in order to force the pregnant among them to miscarry. They tossed the women into the well and filled it with dirt, burying an unlucky few alive. The only traces of the bodies later visitors would find were blood on the walls and placentas and umbilical cords on the ground. — www.lrb.co.uk/…

Here are two more members of the DC foreign policy clique defending Abrams:

If these hacks ever delete their tweets, images are here. No thanks, we don’t need to “build bridges” with “non partisan” war criminals or “try to see the best” in them.

Dave Harden’s bio reads: “Managing Director, Georgetown Strategy Group; CEO @Souktel; Board @kids4Peace; Former USAID Ass’t Administrator; led Yemen, Syria, West Bank/Gaza, Iraq & Libya.” 

Nicholas Burns is “Harvard Kennedy School Professor, former American Diplomat

Perhaps these are just run of the mill conservative armchair warriors itching to blow up some villages and villagers in the Middle East.

But they aren’t kidding about the “non partisan” or “bi-partisan” nature of the attempt to rehabilitate Elliott Abrams.

Kelly Magsamen is: “VP @CAPSecurity at @amprog. Former Bush and Obama NSC, DoD and State. Shadow Gov contributor @ForeignPolicy. ”  That’s right, she has a leadership role at the Center for American Progress (a prominent liberal think-tank) and worked in the Obama administration.

No Ms. Magsamen, we don’t give one fig whether Abrams was a good boss.  We care about the horrors his actions visited on the poor and powerless in Latin America.

We don’t believe facilitating genocide is a “serious professional mistake”. It is a war crime.

And Abrams has definitely not been “held accountable”. He was pardoned by Bush. The investigation into that administration’s crimes was squashed. He never faced justice.

Here’s what accountability looks like. The men Abrams aided in terrorizing Guatemala were convicted on charges of genocide. If you want Abrams to be held “accountable”, work on sending him to Guatemala to face charges. 

Ms. Magsamen worked for Abrams when he was appointed to the National Security Council by George W. Bush. Remember that next time someone sends you a cute picture of Bush handing out candy somewhere.

And here is a defense of Elliott that takes the cake. 

You heard that right, a Congresswoman performing her constitutional duty and vigorously questioning a war criminal nominated for a senior foreign policy position is an example of… anti-semitism. Amazingly, Knowles is not the only person to have advanced such an argument.

Let’s go back to our favorite VP at CAP, who had this to say about a few weeks ago about an article suggesting Democrats should not make common cause with neocons.

No. We are not agreeing on anything. Neocon is not an “anti-semitic term”. We aim to get rid of neocons and warmongers and war criminals. We’re not interesting in creating “bipartisan views” with them. We are interested in ending their influence on our country’s foreign policy. No part of that goal involves allying with them in any way.

Here’s what this entire episode underscores for us. If we are to have a real transformation in this country’s relationship with the world, we have to throw out all the foreign policy hacks who have spent their entire careers peddling militarist foreign policy and bouncing between Republican and Democratic administrations. People who are dumb and warped enough to support war criminals because they were polite to them at a DC cocktail party or “mentored” them should have no role in Democratic politics. 

Instead of tying ourselves up in knots over whether a war criminal can be a good guest at dinner, keep in mind what the Reagan/Bush administrations did, and what Elliott Abrams did for them. The only thing we need to consider is whether these people should ever come close to the awesome instruments of power which our government wields.

And the answer to that is No:

As Greg Grandin shows in The Last Colonial Massacre, Latin America was as much a battleground of the Cold War as Europe, and Guatemala was its front line. In 1954, the US fought its first major contest against Communism in the Western hemisphere when it overthrew Guatemala’s democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, who had worked closely with the country’s small but influential Communist Party. That coup sent a young Argentinian doctor fleeing to Mexico, where he met Fidel Castro. Five years later, Che Guevara declared that 1954 had taught him the impossibility of peaceful, electoral reform and promised his followers that ‘Cuba will not be Guatemala.’ In 1966, Guatemala was again the pacesetter, this time pioneering the ‘disappearances’ that would come to define the dirty wars of Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Brazil. In a lightning strike, US-trained security officials captured some thirty leftists, tortured and executed them, and then dropped most of their corpses into the Pacific. Explaining the operation in a classified memo, the CIA wrote: ‘The execution of these persons will not be announced and the Guatemalan government will deny that they were ever taken into custody.’ With the 1996 signing of a peace accord between the Guatemalan military and leftist guerrillas, the Latin American Cold War finally came to an end – in the same place it had begun – making Guatemala’s the longest and most lethal of the hemisphere’s civil wars. Some 200,000 men, women and children were dead, virtually all at the hands of the military: more than were killed in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua and El Salvador combined, and roughly the same number as were killed in the Balkans. Because the victims were primarily Mayan Indians, Guatemala today has the only military in Latin America deemed by a UN-sponsored truth commission to have committed acts of genocide. — www.lrb.co.uk/…

If we do not fully prosecute criminals like Elliott Abrams, it will enable and embolden the next generation of warmongers. There will be more victims, we will have more wars, there will be more injustice. We need to end this.

— @subirgrewal

I will not be aiding the Saudis, Trump and Pence in a pre-planned character assassination.

Even before they were elected, those of us interested in foreign policy issues knew that Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Omar were viewed as an enormous threat by repressive regimes in the Middle-East who wanted to maintain their power. As outspoken black and brown muslim women they bring a perspective that has long been lacking in US political debate about the middle-east. We’ve always known they had targets on their back.

Last week, Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy threatened “action” against Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib. This was days before Rep. Omar wrote the seven words in two tweets that she was criticized for. Keep that in mind. Republicans said last week they would “take action”, and they’ve been lying in wait. They have been planning a character assassination of Rep. Omar for months. 

I will let Rev. Barber remind us why we should not fall for Republican bullshit.

Rev. Barber is absolutely right. We should not be cornered by Republicans into condemning people who are actually fighting for justice. Definitely not over the unintentionally questionable choice of words. Definitely not when they are so willing to learn and quick to apologize for unintended hurt.

Instead, let us keep our focus on actual, real injustice, the WRONG which Rev. Barber refers to. Rep. Omar’s most eager critics actively support injustices and harms to oppressed people. Here’s Peter Beinart laying it out:

But if we’re going to demand that politicians apologize for any hint of association with bigotry, let’s not stop with Ilhan Omar. Let’s hold her critics to the same standard.

Establishing two legal systems in the same territory—one for Jews and one for Palestinians, as Israel does in the West Bank—is bigotry. Guaranteeing Jews in the West Bank citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote for the government that controls their lives while denying those rights to their Palestinian neighbors is bigotry. It’s a far more tangible form of bigotry than Omar’s flirtation with anti-Semitic tropes. And it has lasted for more than a half-century.

Yet almost all of Omar’s Republican critics in Congress endorse this bigotry. The 2016 Republican platform declares that, “We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier” in the West Bank. In other words, governing Jews by one set of laws and Palestinians by another is fine. Last December, Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, who has called for stripping Omar of her committee assignments, spoke at a fundraiser for Bet El, a West Bank settlement from which Palestinians are barred from living even though it was built—according to the Israeli supreme court—on land confiscated from its Palestinian owners.

For her tweets, Omar was publicly rebuked by the entire Democratic House leadership. For his enthusiastic endorsement of land theft and state-sponsored bigotry in the West Bank, Zeldin has received no congressional criticism at all. To the contrary, he’s a Republican rising star. — forward.com/…

Beinart is right, the actual harm done to millions of Palestinians lives should take primacy here. Yet virtually our entire political class chose instead to police the words of a young, black, female legislator.

We only need to look at the Democratic Senate minority leader and (unfortunately) my senator Chuck Schumer. He jumped at the opportunity to say that Ilhan Omar’s seven word analysis of  the situation was “reprehensible”.

Why is he doing this when he knows full well that the Saudi and UAE lobbies are gunning for Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib?

Academics, media outlets, and commentators close to Persian Gulf governments have repeatedly accused Omar, Rashida Tlaib (another newly elected Muslim congresswoman), and Abdul El-Sayed (who made a failed bid to become governor of Michigan) of being secret members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are hostile to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. On Sunday, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya published a feature insinuating that Omar and Tlaib were part of an alliance between the Democratic Party and Islamist groups to control Congress. The article accused the two of being “anti-Trump and his political team and options, especially his foreign policy starting from the sanctions on Iran to the isolation of the Muslim Brotherhood and all movements of political Islam.” — foreignpolicy.com/…

Schumer owes his entire career in politics to wall-street fundraising, he is a walking, talking illustration of the disastrous impact of money in politics. So perhaps it’s no surprise that he is taking a stance supported by the Saudi and UAE lobbies. He also thinks it’s a good idea to speak at AIPAC, a lobbying organization that has cultivated and supported bigots like John Hagee, an avid Trump supporter.

The Trump administration, which has deeply corrupt ties to the ruling Saudi faction is also blasting Omar.

Why is Schumer aiding Pence in attacking Ilhan Omar? Why doesn’t Schumer ask instead when Republicans going to condemn Rep. Paul Gosar for attending far-right white nationalist rallies? The Republican caucus is stocked full of right-wing extremists. For example, Duncan Hunter, who ran an openly bigoted, Islamophobic campaign in 2018. Schumer doesn’t have time to combat them, but he is more than willing to condemn a first-term black, Muslim legislator? Is that really where he thinks the threat of anti-semitism lies in this country? In Ilhan Omar’s tweets? 

Money, in the form of bundling and directing member’s political contributions is exactly what AIPAC uses to influence policy, as do all lobbying organization. This was fully in view yesterday when AIPAC turned around and sent a fund-raising appeal using Rep. Ilhan Omar as a bogeyman:

The pro-Israel lobby sent its donors an email on Tuesday urging them to give money to the group as an answer to Omar’s tweets earlier this week, in which she accused AIPAC of using money to “buy” members of Congress and said that U.S. support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins baby.” […]

While many accepted the apology, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday he thought Omar was insincere and should resign from Congress.

“What she said is so deep-seated in her heart,” he said, referring to the comments, adding that the Minnesota representative’s apology was “lame and she didn’t mean a word of it.” — www.haaretz.com/…

Yeah, that’s right, AIPAC is literally raising money to influence policy and Trump is accusing people of insincerity. Why are Democrats enabling this bullshit?  Especially when it’s coming from gaslighters like Trump?

Why is Schumer attacking Omar instead of Donald Trump, who actually ran an openly anti-semitic ad in 2016? Trump, whose entire campaign was built on the anti-semitic, Nazi slogan “America First”? 

Wait, it gets even better. In 2015, Trump told the Republican Jewish Coalition this:

“You’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money… you don’t want to give me money, but that’s ok, you want to control your own politicians that’s fine.” — www.washingtonpost.com/…

Trump openly told a Jewish audience that they wanted to use money to “control your own politicians”.  Where in the ever-loving fuck was Schumer’s deep seated need to police anti-semitic statements then? Trump, even as presidential candidate had far, far more power than a first term Congresswoman. WaPo has done a run-down of all Trump’s anti-semitic rhetoric. He called Gary Cohn a globalist, and when actual Nazis were shouting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Trump said they were “very fine people”. 

Yet Schumer chose to police Rep. Omar’s tweets instead of a New York billionaire’s platform when he was running for president. G.T.F.O.H. It is worth remembering who Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib are. They are muslim women, and there is a remarkable pattern of muslim politicians being painted as anti-semitic.

I am not going to support people who choose to punch down at well-meaning activist-politicians like Rep. Omar, but don’t have stomach to take on Trump or Pence. And I agree with Chris Hayes, many powerful Democrats do not seem to have grasped just how far the Democratic base has shifted.

In the midst of the kerfuffle about word choice, the actual content of Rep. Omar’s critique has been forgotten. AIPAC is no different from the Saudi lobby, the military-industrial lobby, the pharma lobby, the financial industry lobby. They all seek to use money and influence to further their objectives. And they brag about their ability to do so.

In 2005, Steven Rosen, then a senior official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, sat down for dinner with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, then of the New Yorker. “You see this napkin?” Rosen asked Goldberg. “In twenty-four hours, [AIPAC] could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”  […]

Rosen, after all, wasn’t the first AIPAC official to boast about the the raw power that “America’s bipartisan pro-Israel lobby” exercises in Washington, D.C. Go back earlier, to 1992, when then-AIPAC President David Steiner was caught on tape bragging that he had “cut a deal” with the George H.W. Bush White House to provide $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel. Steiner also claimed to be “negotiating” with the incoming Clinton administration over the appointment of pro-Israel cabinet members. AIPAC, he said, has “a dozen people in [the Clinton] campaign, in the headquarters … and they’re all going to get big jobs.” — theintercept.com/…

So what exactly did Omar say that has not been said a hundred times by actual AIPAC representatives? Here’s Noah Kulwin in Jewish Currents laying it all out:

The Israel lobby, especially AIPAC, has long greased the wheels of American politics by bundling millions of dollars for campaign contributions and spending further millions on sending politicians and journalists on junkets to Israel, where they meet with government officials and absorb pro-Israel talking points under the thin pretense of a fact-finding mission. However earnest these groups may be about their support for Israel, they are explicitly in the business of trading influence for money. This isn’t limited to AIPAC; for instance, casino magnate and right-wing Israel supporter Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam spent $55 million in the 2018 election cycle to maintain Republican control of Congress. In recent years, the interests of these groups have dovetailed with those of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, defense contractors, millenarian evangelical Christian Zionists, and other assorted war hawks. The Israel lobby is indeed a big tent, and it has welcomed in a wide range of right-wing interests that extend beyond the American Jewish community. — jewishcurrents.org/…

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, defense contractors, millenarian evangelical Christian Zionists, and other assorted war hawks are not our allies. They are not the people I want Democrats to associate with. So yeah, when this group rushes to condemn someone, we should not be aiding and abetting them.

One of the reasons I’ve always been interested in Israel/Palestine is that it’s a clarifying issue. The only correct policy view has always been crystal clear. It’s equal rights for Palestinians. Yet, since advocates for Palestinians have almost no real political power in the US, equal rights has never been the US position. So whenever we run across a politician who rushes to make excuses for the oppression of Palestinians, we should recognize that they are willing to compromise our basic principles of equality and justice, in the pursuit of power. They are willing to tolerate harm to the powerless, to achieve their ends.

Why are we letting Trump, Pence, extremist Republicans and gross human rights violators like the Saudis and UAE get away with character assassination of yet another young, black, muslim leader?

I am not going to aid and abet this bullshit.

I am not going to lay down cover as the Saudis, UAE, AIPAC, Trump and Pence seek to assassinate the character of a black woman fighting for what’s right.

I know what side I am on.

I am not going to be gaslighted into partnering with Trump or the Saudi monarchy or Mike Pence.

I am going to ally with Rev. Barber.

I am on Ady Barkan’s side.

It’s the side all people of good will should be on.

I stand with Ilhan Omar.

— @subirgrewal

AOC lays bare the dystopia that is DC and Capitol Hill.

Some of us have heard of lobbyists hiring homeless and/or impoverished Americans to hold their place in line. But nothing makes it real for the rest of the America like an AOC tweet does.


She’s right, we should be shocked and somehow we’re not. We are the richest country the world has ever known. Our government has awesome powers, it metes out life and death via remote control from thousands of miles away. And in the halls of our supposedly democratic government, the weakest members of our society hold places in line for lobbyists trying to influence our elected representatives with money, revolving door jobs and other perks.

It’s truly dystopian.

I do want to point out that AOC and her team was careful to blur out the faces of the people waiting so as not to inadvertently shame them. Our media organizations could learn a thing or two from her about responsible reporting.

That’s why they used to say, Don’t trust anyone over 30.

— @subirgrewal