Democrats prepare for fast-moving debate. Republicans prepare to send out stream of attacks.

We’re on the brink of the first Democratic debates of the 2020 elections, and Democrats and Republicans alike are getting ready. The candidates will be split between two nights, Wednesday and Thursday, June 26 and 27, and now we know the rules they'll face.

There won’t be opening statements—officially, though it might be worth setting up a drinking game based on which candidates try to shoehorn mini opening statements into their first answers. Candidates can give closing remarks, however. In between, they’ll have 60 seconds to answer a question and 30 seconds to answer a follow-up, with questions coming from Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow, and José Diaz-Balart.

While the Democratic candidates are getting ready to try to distinguish themselves from an enormous field in tiny snippets of time, the Republican National Committee will be preparing to unleash its opposition research and send out a stream of attacks on the candidates and policies. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel (she got rid of Romney to show her loyalty to Trump) told NBC News in a statement that “With the advantage of a fully equipped war room and rapid response team, our job is to fact-check Democrats’ bogus statements and expose the truth behind their radical agendas.” That fact-checking will doubtless bear a very … interesting relationship to actual facts.

The June 26 debate will include Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, and Elizabeth Warren. June 27 will include Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.

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Immigrant communities prep for ICE raids as Trump works to stir up fear

Donald Trump postponed the ICE raids slated to begin arresting and deporting “millions” of immigrants on Sunday, but he’s still terrorizing immigrant communities and trying to use that terror against Democrats. Trump tweeted Sunday that the “big Deportation” would happen in two weeks … unless Democrats give him what he wants. The delay is “to give the Democrats every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes to Asylum and Loopholes,” he claimed. Simple changes, huh?

Meanwhile, immigrant communities are getting ready. Churches are preparing to offer sanctuary and community and advocacy groups are setting up hotlines and working to be sure people know their rights. “In Chicago,” The Washington Post reports, “workers canvassed immigrant neighborhoods handing out informational cards, accompanied by the new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, who told local media she had a message for Trump: ‘Back off.’” Speakers gave out similar information at a Los Angeles rally.

If Trump wanted his big operation to go off cleanly, of course, he would have kept his mouth shut and let it be a surprise to the people being targeted. But the fear is the point. The effort to get Democrats to let him bend the rules to his will is the point, so he can do worse things legally. We don't know what’s actually coming in two weeks, and in all likelihood neither does Trump. But as long as he’s stomping around showing his power to terrify children and families, he doesn’t much mind.

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Open thread for night owls. Pro-Publica: Navy failed to deal with issues that led to Iran stand-off

  Megan Rose, Robert Faturechi, and T. Christian Miller at Pro-Publica write—Trump Keeps Talking About the Last Military Standoff With Iran — Here’s What Really Happened:

Just before sunset on Jan. 12, 2016, 10 American sailors strayed into Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, a navigation error with potentially grave consequences. On their way to a spying mission, the Americans had set sail from Kuwait to Bahrain. It was a long-distance trek that some senior commanders in the Navy’s 5th Fleet had warned they were neither equipped nor trained to execute.

Surrounded by four boats operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the U.S. sailors, in two small gunboats, surrendered rather than opening fire. The officer in charge of the mission later said he understood that had a firefight erupted, it could well have provoked a wider conflict and scuttled the controversial nuclear deal the two countries were poised to implement in mere days.

The Navy dialed up an elaborate rescue mission to free the sailors from tiny Farsi Island involving fighter jets and a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group. But the return of the sailors was ultimately secured peacefully. The nuclear deal went forward with the U.S. providing sanctions relief and unfreezing billions in Iranian assets in exchange for Tehran’s promise to curb its nuclear ambitions.

President Donald Trump explicitly invoked the 2016 incident last week as he weighed actions against Iran amid rising tensions. Trump told Time magazine that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had mishandled the high-stakes confrontation, a mistake he would not make. “The only reason the sailors were let go is that we started making massive payments to them the following day,” Trump said. “Otherwise the sailors would still be there.”

But a ProPublica investigation makes clear that Trump’s repeated claims about the captured sailors—Obama’s weakness; that the money was improper—obscure the more troubling realities exposed by the Navy’s 2016 debacle in the Persian Gulf. The Farsi Island mission was a gross failure, involving issues that have plagued the Navy in recent years: inadequate training, poor leadership, and a disinclination to heed the warnings of its men and women about the true extent of its vulnerabilities. [...]

Over the weekend, the details of Iran’s downing of an unmanned American drone that further escalated the confrontation remained unclear, but it seemed possible the Navy had again mistakenly entered Iran’s territory. Iran insists the plane had penetrated its airspace; the United States says it was in international territory. Last week, The New York Times quoted an unnamed U.S. official as saying Trump had pulled back in part because of emerging evidence that the Global Hawk drone or a second, manned U.S. spy plane may have indeed breached Iranian territory. Trump cited the high number of possible Iranian casualties. [...]

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“Every time someone gives you a formula for what you should be and what you should do, they’re giving you a pair of handcuffs.” ~~Junot Díaz, 2016

TWEET OF THE DAY

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"The media needs to create new “Trump Rules,” where when the president tells a clear lie the interview does NOT move on until either he is forced to admit to that lie, or he walks out of the interview like the immature man-child that he is." https://t.co/31ZN5OYu7g

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) June 24, 2019

BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2004—The Cheney Coup:

Whoa, how did I almost miss this?

After the 9-11 attacks, Cheney sent Bush away and took control of the US response to the attacks. He essentially staged a coup, taking over as "commander in chief." This information was contained in a draft report from the 9-11 Commission.

America was under attack, and somebody had to make a decision. Dick Cheney, huddled in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center under the White House, had just urged the traveling George W. Bush not to return to Washington. The president had left Florida aboard Air Force One at 9:55 a.m. on 9/11 "with no destination at take-off," as last week's 9-11 Commission report noted. Nor had Bush given any known instructions on how to respond to the attacks. Now Cheney faced another huge decision on a morning in which every minute seemed monumental. The two airliners had already crashed into the Twin Towers, another into the Pentagon. Combat air patrols were aloft, and a military aide was asking for shoot-down authority, telling Cheney that a fourth plane was "80 miles out" from Washington. Cheney didn't flinch, the report said. "In about the time it takes a batter to decide to swing," he gave the order to shoot it down, telling others the president had "signed off on the concept" during a brief phone chat. When the plane was 60 miles out, Cheney was again informed and again he ordered: take it out.

Then Joshua Bolton, after what he described in testimony as "a quiet moment," spoke up. Bolton, the White House deputy chief of staff, asked the veep to get back in touch with the president to "confirm the engage order." Bolton was clearly subordinate to Cheney, but "he had not heard any prior conversation on the subject with the president," the 9/11 report notes. Nor did the real-time notes taken by two others in the room, Cheney's chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby—who is known for his meticulous record-keeping--or Cheney's wife, Lynne, reflect that such a phone call between Bush and Cheney occurred or that such a major decision as shooting down a U.S. airliner was discussed. Bush and Cheney later testified the president gave the order. And national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice and a military aide said they remembered a call, but gave few specifics. The report concluded "there is no documentary evidence for this call."

This is startling information. The vice president ordered the president sent away and took control of the government.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Greg Dworkin rounds up a tough news weekend. The baby jails story lingers, and Trump's interviewers don't seem interested in the optics of him raping columnists, so we're stuck instead with dissecting his more mundane "voter fraud" lies.

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Lack of ‘fear-based buying’ is hurting the gun industry under Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell

The foundation of the modern firearm industry is fear. Drumming up conspiracy-drenched fear of a “politically correct” liberal government authoritarianism has been the only arrow in groups like the NRA’s quiver the past decade. Good news for the gun industry and Second Amendment “patriots” everywhere. The Senate and the Executive Branch are controlled by pro-gun, anti-liberal Republicans. Whoo-hooo! Unfortunately for conservatives everywhere, there is no such thing as good news for people with guns. Just ask the the gun sellers of America.

Business Insider reports that one of the markers of sales in the firearms industry is the number of new background checks in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Since Trump and friends came into office, the numbers have been dropping. Last year the number of background checks conducted in the system dropped 6%, and so far this year those numbers are down 8%. It’s a thoughts and prayers moment for the Second Amendment business.

Big companies, like American Outdoor, known for owning Smith & Wesson, have seen brutal drops in their sales, losing $230 million last year in handgun sales between January and April 2018. They lost half of their long gun sales as well. Industry leaders were sort of hoping that the blue wave election results of the midterms would boost sales—a truly grotesque thing to hope for. Sadly, so far that bump has not materialized. Of course, with the 2020 elections around the corner, firearms sellers are crossing their fingers that people will get scared enough to buy more guns they do not need.

The ammunition industry is also taking a big hit, but that hit has lasted even longer. Experts are having a hard time trying to figure out why people aren’t buying any bullets at all, as the industry continues to “bottom out.” I can venture a guess: no one has needed to use all of that ammo they have been stockpiling over the past 10 years waiting for the Obama Muslim caliphate to appear.

Getting the happily-ever-after Second Amendment advocates promised has been telling. The NRA is in shambles, with accusations of dubious money practices and ugly internal power dynamics. When your entire business model is based on scaring people into believing their lives are at stake by selling them the devices that put their lives at stake, you are truly playing with some of the most evil magic there is.

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Trump suggests his ‘presidential library’ could be in one of his own properties. Of course

One of the, sigh, less-weird parts of Chuck Todd's generally uncombative interview with Donald Child Internment Camps Trump was Todd's invitation to Trump to speculate on what his eventual "presidential library" might consist of.

This is one of those throwaway what's-your-favorite-pie-filling sorts of questions, not quite intended to be humanizing (most humans are not expected to found their own libraries dedicated to their own life and times) but damn near impossible for an interviewee to screw up.

But sweet jeebus, there may not be a softball question yet invented that Donald J. Trump would not respond to with the same stuporous blather.

"I'm so busy. I know a lot of people have mentioned it to me, the presidential library."

Translation: Nobody has mentioned it to him. He is not busy. His brain likely seized up the moment Todd offered up the word "library," which Trump reflexively assumed was the prelude to his questioner asking about book-learning. He may have forgotten libraries existed until Todd, no doubt attempting to trip him up, brought it up, and so he volleyed with the same a lot of people are saying phrase-tossing he uses whenever anyone asks him about war or budgets or high-priority Republican bills or how many legs he suspects the average dog has. The man can turn literally any conversation into a contentless, sucking void.

Prompting, Todd asked if Trump knows "where you'd want it?"

"I have a lot of locations, actually. The nice part is I don't need to worry about buying a location."

If anyone out there is expecting the Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Casino to be anywhere but in a Donald Trump-owned property, they do not know Donald Trump. The possibility of Trump charging his own library "foundation" Trump-inflated rent forever is precisely the sort of small-ball grift that Trump has dedicated his very existence to. This will happen. Whether it's a designated Mar-a-Lago closet or the empty husk of some bankrupt casino, the man absolutely will make a long-term locked-in buck off the donors to his own "library."

By all means, grift that grift. Who are we to complain? Rob them blind. Anyone fool enough to donate to a Trump presidential "library" at this late date, and after all that has happened, deserves to be taken for every mean little penny.

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Illinois is now first in the nation to ban private immigration detention facilities

Illinois is now the first state in the nation to ban private immigration detention facilities. “In the face of attempts to stoke fear, exploit division, and force families into the shadows, we are taking action,” Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “We will not allow private entities to profit off of the intolerance of this president.”

The governor also signed two other important pieces of legislation that will be huge steps toward protecting the lives of undocumented residents. One bill now “statutorily prohibits” local police from participating in the flawed 287(g) Program, which deputizes “selected state and local law enforcement officers to perform the functions of federal immigration agents.” A second bill allows undocumented youth, many of whom already pay taxes through participation in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and everyday purchases, to access state financial aid.

Each of these bills stands on its own, and combined they represent a blueprint for other states to follow. “The private-prison industry as a whole is benefiting from Trump's border policies,” CNN reports. “But those lucrative business opportunities are also drawing increased public and legal scrutiny of a system that, advocates charge, treats detainees cruelly.”

Daily Kos’ Huiying Chan wrote in March that “JPMorgan Chase was a major funder of GEO Group and CoreCivic, the biggest operators of both private prisons and immigrant detention centers in the United States.” Following pressure from grassroots and national organizations, JPMorgan Chase announced it would sever ties with them.

The governor’s signatures came as the Trump administration threatened a number of U.S. cities with Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Those raids may have been called off, but ICE is still here, and immigrants still need protections. "Illinois is and always will be a welcoming state,“ said Pritzker. “Let me be perfectly clear: the state of Illinois stands as a firewall against Donald Trump's attacks on our immigrant communities.”

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When women and people of color run, they win, new report finds

Women and people of color remain drastically underrepresented in elected positions in the U.S., but it’s not your imagination that that’s started to change since 2016. A new report from the Reflective Democracy Campaign has the numbers, and one key insight: it’s not that women and people of color are so much less likely to win than white men. It’s that they’re less likely to be on the ballot to begin with.

The dramatic increase in women—Democratic women—in Congress after the 2018 elections is pretty widely known, but it’s not just that. Across all elected officials, white men went from 65% of seats in 2015 to 62% in 2019, with white women clawing their way up from 25% to 27% and women of color from 3% to 4%, while men of color held steady at 7%. Women of color, the report notes, are still particularly underrepresented, but they’re also climbing quickly in some areas, with a 40% increase in congressional seats and a 38% increase in state legislative seats since 2015.

We’re still looking at massive under-representation, but if the rate of change could accelerate as much in the next two years as it did in the past two years, we might be starting to talk about real change. And it’s important to remember that, while sexism is real especially at the presidential level, there is nothing inherently less “electable” about women or people of color, based on this big data set.

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Japanese-American elders protest outside Fort Sill internment camp: ‘Stop repeating history’

A group of Japanese-American elders who survived being thrown into internment camps by their own government protested at Oklahoma’s Fort Sill on Saturday, the site of a former World War II internment camp that the Trump administration plans on reopening to jail at least 1,400 migrant children. 

The activists and their allies came to warn, and for that reason refused to leave the site, even when insulted by U.S. military police. “You need to move right now!” an officer identified by Democracy Now! as Keyes screamed at the Japanese-American activists. “What don’t you understand? It’s English: Get out.” When undeterred survivors continued speaking, Keyes twice yelled, “What don’t you people understand?”

The activists understood very well, thanks. That’s why they were there. “I am a former child incarceree during World War II,” said Dr. Satsuki Ina. “This is a photograph of me when I was imprisoned. Seventy-five years ago, 120,000 of us were removed from our homes and forcefully incarcerated in prison camps across the country. We are here today to protest the repetition of history.”

The activists carried with them thousands of origami cranes “as a symbol of solidarity,” which were among the same cranes that the activists, including Dr. Ina, hung outside a migrant family jail in Texas last March. A banner that was also hung outside that facility reading, “Never again is now,” a message they echoed outside Fort Sill.

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Where is the national media coverage? A woman made a credible accusation Donald Trump raped her

It’s been three days since journalist and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll published an account alleging Donald Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s, and it still hasn’t been front-page news in the nation’s largest newspapers. With the exception of Joy Reid on MSNBC, it was not a topic on the Sunday-morning talk shows. Why? Carroll joins at least 15 other women who’ve come forward to say Trump either sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them. The accusations span decades, and they show a crystal-clear pattern of Trump forcing himself on women.

So where is the round-the-clock coverage? Why isn’t it a leading story in every newspaper in the nation? As CNN commentator Jess McIntosh noted, The New York Times did cover the story— and buried it in the Books section. 

It’s one thing to read the harrowing account by Carroll; it is another thing to hear her describe the attack in her own words. She still vividly recalls the details of the attack: the items he picked up from the department store counter. What he demanded she try on. How he violently attacked her in the dressing room. How she physically fought back. Carroll even kept the coat she was wearing that day, buried in the back of her closet all this time. She was photographed wearing the coat for the New York magazine article in which she details the attack. This is difficult to hear, but it is important. Listen to Carroll’s account and ask yourself if this warrants further coverage and accountability. Is it time to revisit the sixteen credible accusations?

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Trump says Middle East is ‘a hostile, vicious place’ no point in investigating murder of journalist

Donald Trump might not have started murdering journalists—yet—but he certainly is understanding when some other despot needs to silence a pesky voice of truth. And he’s not about to let a thing like clipping off a man’s fingers while he screams, or slicing up his body with a bone saw, get in the way of a good business relationship.

A U.N. report issued last Wednesday detailed the horrible circumstances of the capture, torture, dismemberment, and death of Washington Post contributor, and U. S. resident, Jamal Khashoggi. The conclusion of the report was near certainty that self-installed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was not just behind the kidnapping and murder, but aware of every step. The report also asked the United States to use its relationship with Saudi Arabia to insist on cooperation in an FBI investigation of the incident.

Now Trump has made it clear that that will not be happening. As The New York Times records, Trump says he values the dollars coming in from Mohammed bin Salman too much to risk losing them by holding the Saudi leader accountable for the horrible death and oven-roasting of just one little journalist. “I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment,” said Trump. “I’m not like a fool that says, ‘We don’t want to do business with them.’ And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.”

Someone else might say, Let them. Let them take their torture-and-murder business to someone else. But with Trump at the helm, disregard for human rights—right up to sending out hit squads equipped with a bone saw—isn’t a hindrance to doing business with the United States. And why not? After all, it’s not like those bombs we’re selling MBS are meant to tickle kids in Yemen.

Trump insists that Saudi Arabia is an important partner for the United States. And, sure, Khashoggi’s killing might seem nasty, but then, the Middle East is “a vicious, hostile place.” When men like Mohammed bin Salman are allowed to get away with torture and murder, it certainly is. And so is the White House.

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