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2 Democrats From Deep in Trump Country Are Now Supporting Impeachment

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WASHINGTON — Two of the House Democrats from the reddest districts in the country just announced they’d vote to impeach President Trump. It’s a huge boost for their party ahead of the third presidential impeachment in U.S. history.

Reps. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah), a pair of freshman Democrats from deep red congressional districts, said Monday afternoon that they’d vote to impeach the president. Of the 10 freshman House Democrats in the Trumpiest districts, six have now said they’ll vote to impeach him.

“My duty is to the Constitution, and to our country,” McAdams said in a statement. “What the president did was wrong. His actions warrant accountability. I cannot turn a blind eye, thereby condoning this president and future presidents, Republican or Democrat, to do the same.”

“If I wanted to do what was easy politically, I would just vote no and move on,” Cunningham told the Charleston Post and Courier. “But it’s about doing what’s right for our country.”

As of late last week, Cunningham was still undecided and told VICE News he planned to “pray about it.”

The pair were among the handful of red-district freshman Democrats that party leaders figured would be unlikely to vote to impeach Trump. But McAdams and Cunningham are just the latest freshmen from Trump districts who announced their support — a list that includes Reps. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) and Xochitl Torres-Small (D-N.M.), both of whom hold seats that Trump won by about 10 percentage points.

Their recent announcements show how seriously these vulnerable freshmen and other Democrats view Trump’s actions toward Ukraine — and give the party a morale boost following the decision of New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew to switch over to the Republican Party. Van Drew had been one of just two Democrats opposed to impeachment and decided to leave the party rather than face a tough Democratic primary in his district.

Van Drew’s planned switch means Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) is the only House Democrat who’s announced he won’t back impeachment. Not a single House Republican is supporting impeachment, though Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), a former Republican, has been vocally supportive.

Strategists think several Democrats could still break with their party: Reps. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), and Jared Golden (D-Maine). And they’re all freshmen from districts Trump won by double digits.

Cover image: UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 11: Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., is seen before a news conference at the House Triangle on legislation that would ban offshore drilling September 11, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

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Democratic Rep. faces rowdy town hall after announcing support for impeachment

ROCHESTER, Mich. — Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., received both standing ovations and jeers from voters at a town hall here Monday morning as the vulnerable Democrat explained her decision to support two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump when the full House votes on them Wednesday.

During the raucous hour-long event, Slotkin was consistently interrupted by cheers from supporters of her decision and boos from Trump backers, including representatives from the Michigan Republican Party.

 

“I want people to think about where we will be if it becomes normal to ask foreign governments to intervene in our political process,” Slotkin said in her remarks explaining the decision. “What if that becomes normal? What if next time we have a Democratic president asking the Chinese government for a cyber-attack, for something new, for some intrusion? For me this is something I cannot abide, that I cannot accept.”

She added that she is “deeply concerned” that anyone would believe it’s appropriate for the president to ask Ukrainians to investigate allegations of corruption involving U.S. citizens rather than U.S. federal law enforcement agencies. Trump supporters in the audience yelled “deep state” when she insisted that the FBI is equipped to handle any investigations the president wanted into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and alleged interference by Ukraine into the 2016 election.

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Tensions between the two sides boiled over at some points with several voices heard yelling “shut up” at each other. One Trump supporter told a Slotkin supporter that she “was a waste of breath.”

Slotkin voters held signs thanking her for “defending the Constitution” and Trump supporters donned “impeach Slotkin” signs.

One Slotkin protestor stood midway through the town hall and turned his back as she stood on a riser behind a podium with American and Michigan flags as the backdrop. He remained that way for the remainder of the event.

Despite the divide on display in the room, Slotkin told reporters after the event she “appreciated” the spirit of the crowd.

“From my vantage point, standing up there, there is a room full of people with very different opinions,” she said, including “a lot of folks who had on their Trump hats, who clearly didn’t agree with where I was. But what I appreciated about them is that they listened. They weren’t shouting, they were waiting to hear my answers and that is the best I can ask for, is engaged citizens who came— who don’t agree but were willing to give me a chance to explain myself.”

She first announced her decision to support the impeachment articles early Monday morning and explained her reasons in a Detroit Free Press op-ed. Slotkin said she did not inform House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of her decision.

As a first-term congresswoman from a district that Trump won by nearly 7 points in 2016, she became the latest vulnerable Democrat to announce support for impeachment.

The House of Representatives is voting on two articles of impeachment this week: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Slotkin, a former CIA officer and Department of Defense official, said that the president “illegally solicited the help of foreigners to influence the American political process.”

“There are some decisions in life that have to be made based on what you know in your bones is right. And this is one of those times,” Slotkin wrote in her op-ed about the abuse of power charge.

On obstruction of Congress, Slotkin says the president’s obstruction of the impeachment investigation was “unprecedented.”

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Disgruntled Reagan and Bush era officials pay for ‘anti-Trump’ ad in Times Square

A large electronic billboard asking “What is Trump hiding?” appeared in Times Square, in New York City yesterday.

“If the President did nothing wrong, what does he have to hide? If they tell the truth, what if he afraid of?” asks the billboard.

The billboard shows President Trump with his finger to his mouth, as well as four current and former officials with duct tape over their mouths: Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Many media portrayed the billboard as work of “an anti-Trump Republican group,” without disclosing of who they are. In fact the group responsible for this is no other than, ‘Republicans for the Rule of Law‘ who define themselves as a “coalition of Republicans who believe law enforcement investigations should be completed without political interference, the laws apply equally to everyone, and the Constitution needs to be followed.”

But when you take a closer look at the ‘Republicans for the Rule of Law’, you discover that they are a project of ‘Defending Democracy Together‘ which is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization created by former officials who have served in Reagan and Bush Republican administrations.

The leadership list of ‘Defending Democracy Together’, lists as Directors some of the most anti-Trump personalities, like Bill Kristol, Christine Todd Whitman, Linda Chavez, Bob Inglis, and many others. Click here to look at the full list of directors at ‘Defending Democracy Together’.


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Elizabeth Warren is now the lone female candidate at the top of the 2020 field, and she wants you to know it

At a restaurant in Council Bluffs, where the Massachusetts Democrat held her first town hall with voters, she was prompted by a reporter to reflect on being a female candidate for president. Warren offered up a response that did not address her gender.

“I’d never run for office before 2012. What pulled me in is what’s happening to working families across this country,” she said. “That is the reason I am in the fight.”

The next morning, inside of a packed theater in Sioux City, another reporter described voters who are frustrated that female political candidates get treated differently than male candidates, and wanted to know: “How will you deal with that?”

Nearly all-white debate stage frustrates Democrats seeking more representative field

“I’m just going to keep talking about the things that pull me into this race. And it’s about everybody getting a fighting chance,” Warren said.

Warren’s campaign for the White House would turn out to be one full of symbolism and lofty references to early pioneers of women’s rights. Her official campaign launch event in Lawrence, Massachusetts, was set in front of the backdrop of Everett Mills, the site of the historic 1912 “Bread and Roses” labor strike led by women and immigrants.

Now, almost a year after that first weekend trip to Iowa, Warren stands as the lone female candidate at the top of the Democratic field. These days the 70-year-old senator appears increasingly comfortable — sometimes even determined — to remind voters of her unique standing in the race.

Elizabeth Warren calls out the four B's: Buttigieg, Biden, Bloomberg and the billionaires

As fellow White House hopefuls are exiting the large and diverse field, Warren is continuing to poll in the double-digits nationally along with former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Of the group of several women who still remain in the race, only Warren appears to have a realistic path to her party’s nomination at this point.

The occasional quips about how male colleagues have advised her to “smile more” or how she was discouraged from running for Senate in 2012 because it would be too hard for a woman to win have transformed into a full embrace of discussing her gender out on the trail. In recent months, Warren has explicitly called out sexism and gender inequality in politics, and publicly opened up about experiences that have shaped her own views as a woman and feminist, including details of her divorce from her first husband decades ago.

“I’ve lived enough of my life with men, and it’s mostly been men, telling me to sit down and be quiet,” Warren said last weekend in Las Vegas as she courted members of the Culinary Union. Days later in New Hampshire, asked whether she felt in the current campaign that men were telling her to “sit down,” she responded with a resounding “Yes!”

When Biden described her approach to politics as “angry” and “condescending” last month, Warren responded forcefully. “Over and over, we are told that women are not allowed to be angry. It makes us unattractive to powerful men who want us to be quiet,” she wrote in a campaign email that featured the subject line: “I am angry and I own it.”

And at a town hall in Marion, Iowa, earlier this month, Warren told a different story about her late mother than the one she often shares in her stump speech.

A 17-year-old named Raelyn Stecker wanted to know whether there was a time in Warren’s life when someone she looked up to didn’t fully accept her. Stecker would later tell CNN that some members of her family did not yet know that she was a part of the LGBTQ community.

Warren pointed to the moment she had to tell her mother that her first marriage was breaking up.

“There came a day when I had to call her and say, ‘This is over. I can’t make it work.’ And I heard the disappointment in her voice. I knew how she felt about it,” Warren said, her voice strained. “But I also knew it was the right thing to do and sometimes you just gotta do what’s right inside and hope that maybe the rest of the world will come around to it. And maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but you gotta take care of yourself first.”

After Sen. Kamala Harris ended her presidential bid, saying she no longer had resources to run a competitive campaign, Warren lamented that some of her female colleagues had been “pushed out” of the race “as billionaires buy their way into the race.” She pledged to continue working with colleagues like Harris and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New Yorker who also ended her 2020 campaign earlier this year, on issues like reproductive rights and family paid leave.
'I see you': How Kamala Harris left a legacy for girls of color

Next week’s debate stage will offer a stark visual of shrinking Democratic field. Seven candidates have qualified to participate in the Los Angeles debate, and only two of them are women: Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

If Warren is leaning into her gender more and more, there have been no signs that she is drawing outsized support from women. In national polls, her support among female voters has corresponded with her overall standing in the race. When her political momentum stalled following a post-summer surge in October, her support among women also fell, according to the most recent national Quinnipiac polls.

A New York Times poll released last month did, however, capture how sexism likely presents a real obstacle for female candidates like Warren. Some four in 10 of the voters who support Biden but not Warren said they agree with the statement that most women who run for president “just aren’t likable.”

At a recent Warren campaign event in Exeter, New Hampshire, retired teacher Larry Feltz said he was excited about Warren’s candidacy and also interested in South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Asked whether he believed Biden’s description of Warren’s approach to campaigning as “angry” and “condescending” was sexist, Feltz said he was troubled by what felt like a constant drumbeat of “everything’s sexist. Oh, that’s a sexist remark.”

He went on to muse that he did not personally view Warren as being an “angry woman.”

“I think that she’s strong and committed. When Bernie gets angry, he’s committed. When she gets angry, people say well, she’s –” Feltz said, before cutting himself off.

With a chuckle, he added: “Yes, that’s sexist. Yes, you’re right. That’s what it is.”

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House Judiciary Committee Releases Impeachment Report Ahead of Vote

The House Judiciary Committee released its full report on the impeachment of President Donald Trump early Monday, ahead of consideration by the full House as early as Wednesday.

The 658-page document, issued just after midnight Sunday, is an explanation in four parts of the committee’s process and justification for recommending two articles of impeachment against Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Continue reading the full article at NBC News.

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Elizabeth Warren turned down lucrative job over advocacy group concerns

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren addresses her supporters in Manchester.

Preston Ehrler | LightRocket | Getty Images

Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren refused to take a lucrative legal job in 2006 after a consumer advocacy group raised concerns about the work, earning the fury of an attorney who had sought to hire her, court documents show.

The records from more than a decade ago, connected to a lawsuit against two credit reporting giants, shed new light on Warren’s motivations for taking on private legal work amid criticism from fellow contenders who have sought to cast the Massachusetts progressive as a hired gun for big business.

The legal papers reviewed by CNBC show that years before Warren gained a national reputation as a zealous consumer advocate, a reputation that’s now at the center of her bid for the White House, she refused to take on an $850 per hour case because she didn’t believe it would advance principles consistent with her beliefs.

The documents, which have not been previously reported, provide new context about Warren’s legal consulting work. That work has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as opponents including South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have accused Warren of hypocrisy for running on a populist message after years of taking on highly compensated work for corporate clients.

Warren has struggled to defend her record working for companies like Dow Chemical and Travelers Insurance. Part of the the difficulty she has faced stems from the fact that the cases tend to involve arcane aspects of bankruptcy law, rather than simple narratives about taking on powerful interests in high-stakes court battles.

For instance, after a 1990s memo surfaced this month revealing that Warren defended a real estate development firm seeking to avoid cleaning up a polluted rail yard, the Warren campaign said she was standing up for a principle of bankruptcy law unrelated to environmental regulations more generally. Warren’s argument, they said, was over who would clean up the pollution, not whether it would be cleaned.

A 2008 asbestos case that was used against Warren in her 2012 bid for Senate was similarly confusing, with fact-checkers noting that Warren was on the side of asbestos victims even while representing an asbestos manufacturer’s insurance company.

But the 2006 case against credit reporting agencies TransUnion and Equifax provides a more straightforward example of Warren in action, because the court records, filed in U.S. District Court in California, contain documentation of Warren’s thought process as she decided whether to take the job.

The records show that Warren originally seemed interested in the case, but backed off after weighing the concerns of a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the economic security of low-income people.

That decision came despite the fact that the case, by all appearances, would have been among the most high paying of her career. Ultimately, some of the concerns raised by the National Consumer Law Center were supported by a ruling from a federal court in California.

Under pressure from Buttigieg, Warren recently released compensation records dating to the 1980s revealing that she earned nearly $2 million from her legal work while she was also a law professor at Harvard and other law schools. Buttigieg in turn released the names of his campaign bundlers and the clients for whom he worked while a management consultant at McKinsey & Co.

Warren is in third place in national polls, behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Buttigieg, in fourth nationally, recently surpassed Warren in polls in the early contest states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

‘I had a call from friends working with the National Consumer Law Center’

The court records show that Warren was sought out by the California attorney Lee Sherman in 2006.

Sherman attempted to hire her as an expert witness in a class-action case against TransUnion and Equifax over their alleged failure to properly update the reports of individuals who had their debts discharged via bankruptcy.

Warren, then at Harvard, at first appeared interested in the job, saying the settlement Sherman sought was “promising,” and noting that she charged $850 per hour, or about $1,080 in 2018 dollars.

But she then pulled out of the potentially profitable arrangement after speaking with employees of the National Consumer Law Center, a consumer advocacy group that defends the poor and other disadvantaged people. The NCLC had expressed reservations about the settlement, according to email chains and affidavits included in the records.

“I had a call from friends working with the National Consumer Law Center,” Warren wrote to Sherman in one September 2006 email. “Their concerns about the settlement, along with the high regard I have for the NCLC, makes me too uneasy to commit to you as an expert.”

While the companies appeared to be in “flagrant violation of the law” and she supported efforts to make them change their practices, she wrote that she could not be “as supportive of the settlement as you would need.”

Notably, the case would have likely been among the most well-paid work of Warren’s career, based on public information. Court documents that have previously been reported on show that Warren charged $675 per hour for cases she worked on in the early 2000s, or about $950 in 2018 dollars.

The specific concerns the NCLC raised to Warren are not clear, but attorneys for the group wrote in 2007 affidavits that they believed the settlement Sherman sought was inadequate.

The settlement proposal called for TransUnion and Equifax to update the way they handled the credit reports of individuals who had filed for bankruptcy, and would grant some affected individuals up to $450 in economic relief, in exchange for giving the ratings agencies a sweeping grant of immunity from further lawsuits. It suggested attorney’s fees of $5,485,000.

In one of the emails to Warren, Sherman wrote that he believed the settlement was “a good and fair one that will ultimately be approved by the Court.”

A federal judge refused to approve the settlement in May 2007, finding that it would leave millions of alleged TransUnion and Equifax victims with no compensation while enriching the attorneys working on the case.

District Judge David Carter said the settlement presented an “unforgiving whipsaw” that would free TransUnion and Equifax of liability while “granting nothing of monetary value in return.”

Carter wrote that the $5.4 million in attorney’s fees Sherman and his team asked for was “so grossly out of proportion to class members’ probable aggregate recovery as to suggest a strong possibility of impropriety.”

Representatives for Sherman, TransUnion and Equifax did not respond to requests for comment.

“Elizabeth worked with NCLC for years, and once they laid out why they were opposed to this settlement, she declined to take the case,” Chris Hayden, a Warren spokesperson, said in a statement.

Don’t threaten me. You called to ask if I would serve as your expert. Asking the question does not give you any claim on me.

‘If I decide that I want to serve as their expert, then I will do so’

The email records provide a behind-the-scenes look at Warren’s negotiating style, showing her to be a fierce advocate for her own independence.

After Sherman explained in an email that he believed he had hired Warren and that he did not want her to work for the NCLC, Warren wrote that she was “quite surprised that you believe you have retained me.”

“I have no present plans to serve as an expert for NCLC, but I am free to do so,” Warren added. “If I decide that I want to serve as their expert, then I will do so.”

Sherman responded that if she attempted to serve as an expert for the NCLC, that he would seek to disqualify her from participating in the case. He noted that “I do not make this statement as a threat.”

“Don’t threaten me,” Warren responded. “You called to ask if I would serve as your expert. Asking the question does not give you any claim on me. I will offer expert reports when I think they are appropriate. You cannot strong-arm me either into writing such a report for you or withholding one from someone else.”

Sherman told Warren that he did not intend his message as a threat, but instead wanted to be “on record with our position and intentions on this issue, which I now am.”

Warren responded curtly several hours later: “And I am on record with my position and intentions.”

A filing Sherman submitted more than a month later noted that the two had no more contact after that email. In November 2006, Warren wrote in an affidavit that she never agreed to be Sherman’s expert witness. Warren continued to do corporate legal work after this case.

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Elizabeth Warren has two big problems

 

John Harwood: Let me go back to the McKinsey example. Your friend Deval Patrick, the former governor, worked at Bain Capital. When he got into the race the other day, he said he thought the Obama campaign had given a bum rap to Bain when he was running against Mitt Romney. This is a part of how business works; some deals go bad, but it’s not a bad thing. Do you think he’s right? Is Bain Capital and what it represents in the economy a bad thing?

Elizabeth Warren: When they’re trying to tweak up corporate actions that are already aiming only toward increasing profitability, perfectly willing to, if they could save a nickel by moving a job to a foreign country, would do it in a heartbeat — that is a problem in our economy. Even Jamie Dimon says so. Others who come in and help them do that, that’s not making our economy work any better and it’s not making our country work any better.

John Harwood: Do firms like that have a constructive role to play?

Elizabeth Warren: They have a constructive role to play when we have accountable capitalism. If what they were helping do is make that company work better for employees as well as shareholders, for the communities where they’re located as well as shareholders, then sure. But that’s not what they’re doing.

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Anti-Trump Film Professor’s Quiz Question Equates President with KKK

Until today, I didn’t know how you could possibly make a film class that touches on Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” more controversial than it could be in my imagination. Well, you learn new things every day in this job.

New things, for instance, like the fact that a rant on White House adviser Stephen Miller could be a part of the course. Or that the teacher could really emphasize the connection the film made between the Ku Klux Klan and President Donald Trump. Or that this all took place at a state university, which meant your tax dollars went toward subsidizing it (at least if you’re in Lone Star State).

The controversy has to do with a teacher at Texas State University who included the 2018 Spike Lee film (or “Spike Lee joint,” to use his argot) in her class.

Rebecca Bell-Metereau is, among other things, the author of “Transgender Cinema,” co-editor of “Star Bodies and the Erotics of Suffering” and a former Democratic candidate for Texas Legislature. Not to say that any of these in isolation would necessarily be negative, but put them together and you can perhaps begin to gather who we’re dealing here.

Lee’s film is also probably what you think it is. “BlacKkKlansman” is a based-on-a-true-story flick about a Colorado Springs police officer who manages to infiltrate the Klan back in the 1970s. Interesting enough, but you bet your bippy there are clear signposts that Lee is comparing the KKK to the Trump administration.

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One notable scene has Klansmen chanting “America first!”

Just in case you didn’t get where Lee was going with that, the film ends with footage from the rebarbative “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, followed by Trump’s response.

Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke’s response — Duke is a major character in the film —  is also included, just in case you really, really didn’t get where he was going with that.

Thirty-odd years into his cinematic career, Lee has yet to learn the charms of subtlety.

So, clearly, this is a tricky film to handle in a classroom environment. Well, that’s at least if you care to feign objectivity. Bell-Metereau’s test for “BlacKkKlansman” showed that zero cares were given in that department:

That’s from the official Texas College Republicans account. The question asks, “What is true about the ‘America First’ slogan in the film and present day?” One of the potential answers — confirmed by Bell-Metereau to Campus Reform — is “President Trump[‘s] slogan is KKK principle.”

As for tweet’s mention of “articles about how white people ‘shouldn’t exist,’” that was referring to a 2017 article in the school paper, The University Star, arguing for the death of “whiteness.”

To be fair, the university president called out the piece, titled “Your DNA Is an Abomination,” as being “racist” and “abhorrent.”

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As for the test: “This quiz is simply based on the information from PolitiFact to see if they could read an article and understand what it is saying. All I want them to do [is] be able to use fact-checking sources to determine for themselves what is true and what is not true in a film that is a biopic,” Bell-Metereau told The University Star.

Do you think this professor was out of line?

The PolitiFact article on “BlacKkKlansman” does indeed note that one of the Klansmen from Colorado Springs said this was a “principle” of the Klan’s. He’s far from right, of course, and the slogan has been used many times before and after by a wide variety of people and politicians. That said, it’s a line Lee draws pretty explicitly in the film — although Bell-Metereau’s reasons for including the question were debatable at that point.

They became less debatable when audio emerged of the professor discussing the film in her class.

The one-minute recording says Trump “never did any distancing from white power” and touches on Miller, the White House adviser whose emails in his role as former Sen. Jeff Sessions’ communications director have come under scrutiny of late.

Bell-Metereau concluded that “we have a problem” in the White House.

In response to the audio, the professor complained that it “was recorded without my permission, which violates copyright, since my lectures are my intellectual property.”

It’s interesting that someone who teaches film isn’t familiar with fair use.

She might have had better luck pointing out that such recordings could be against Texas State University student code, according to The College Fix, although the president of the College Republicans there says he “has not been made aware” of any such violations. I wish her godspeed in trying to enforce that copyright violation and/or trying to formulate a worse response to the leaked audio, though.

Bell-Metereau did, however, confirm that “it is my voice and I made the [c]omment about Stephen Miller that his online materials include a number of white nationalist and white supremacist posts. Given that Miller is a senior White House advisor to the president, I commented that this is a problem for our nation.”

That doesn’t seem to be quite the point here. Instead, it’s that there’s a classroom environment where there’s clearly an animus toward conservative students, especially those who support the president.

That’s nothing new on college campuses, mind you, given the leanings of academia. However, when you’re dealing with the KKK and equating it with garden-variety conservatives, one would hope professors would tread carefully. One was hoping too much in Bell-Metereau’s case.

Making sure to boldly underline Lee’s most controversial point in “BlacKkKlansman” — and, judging by the question, the audio and the professor’s response, I don’t exactly think any critique of that point was ever offered — is creating a hostile learning environment at a state school.

Your taxpayer dollars at work, conservatives.

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Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Have a Problem: Each Other

 

Centrist Democrats, of course, think just the opposite. Mr. Biden, the former vice president, even after facing intense media scrutiny and racking up a number of self-inflicted errors, still fares slightly better in head-to-head polling against Mr. Trump than either of the two progressive front-runners.

Yet it was the combined strength of Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, along with Mr. Biden’s fund-raising and debate difficulties, that frightened moderates enough to lure former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts into the race. Now, though, it’s the left wing of the party that’s growing anxious about how to avoid its own debacle.

A handful of leaders from progressive labor unions have had initial conversations about if, when and how to collectively endorse a candidate and are planning to meet after the holidays, according to a Democrat familiar with the discussions.

Larry Cohen, the former president of the Communications Workers of America, is already thinking well ahead of that. Mr. Cohen supports Mr. Sanders but prefers Ms. Warren stay in the race throughout the primary election to deny a moderate from accumulating a delegate majority. If Mr. Sanders doesn’t win outright, he said, the two progressives should demonstrate their combined strength, and amass over half the pledged delegates, so that the left has an upper hand going into next summer’s Democratic convention.

Mr. Cohen, who is concerned that a critical mass of Ms. Warren’s supporters would back somebody else besides Mr. Sanders if she drops out, has been more aggressively making his case to other progressives, including over dinner last week with other Sanders supporters.

But in the near term, he and other left-wing organizers are mostly trying to keep the primary-within-a-primary between Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren from growing contentious.

On a conference call last month organized by Our Revolution, the Sanders-aligned progressive group, Ms. Jayapal and Mr. Cohen both urged activists to exert pressure on House Democrats to support “Medicare for all” while highlighting the common ground of the two presidential hopefuls.

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Fishy stat: Elizabeth Warren goes overboard with claim on re-imported fish

 

The first quick-fire question Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon put to Elizabeth Warren Dec. 5 was, “What is the most important issue facing American voters today?”

“Corruption,” Warren fired back.

That fits well with her campaign message that big corporations and the uber-rich have wormed their way into the corridors of power in Washington.

But Warren has another bit of fishy business on her mind.

In a Dec. 10 policy brief, she laid out plans to leverage the power of the oceans to fight climate change and boost jobs in the fishing industry. Among her points, Warren said America had offshored too much of the fish processing business.

“We must also rebuild the necessary infrastructure to once again support vibrant coastal communities and a local seafood economy,” Warren said. “Today, roughly one in four fish eaten in the United States was caught here and sent to Asia for processing before being re-imported for American consumers. By building processing plants in the United States, we can not only decrease the carbon footprint of the seafood industry, but we can also create a new class of jobs in the Blue Economy.”

Dare we say, that 1-in-4 statistic had us hooked.

We got in touch with the fishery researchers who wrote the paper Warren used to support her assertion. They said they didn’t offer that stat, and while they don’t have an exact estimate, her figure is probably too high.

Should Warren throw this one back? Let’s break it down.

The life cycle of a fishstick

Off Alaska, up in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands, trawlers bring in over 1.3 million metric tons of Alaska pollock, a versatile white fish. The catch is huge, amounting to a third of America’s total seafood output. About three-fourths stays in the United States and shows up on grocery shelves as everything from filets to breaded fish sticks to imitation crab meat.

But about a quarter of the catch is exported, mainly to Japan and China. And some of that comes back to the United States.

“Fish is processed in places like China because the costs of processing are cheaper than they are in the United States,” said former U.S. Agriculture Department chief economist Joseph Glauber.

As much as $900 million worth of pollock and other seafood is caught in U.S. waters, processed in China and sold here as filets and fish sticks.

The general pattern repeats for pink salmon. It’s caught in Alaska, sent to countries  such as China or Thailand, and comes back as salmon burgers or perhaps salmon in a can. Other species of fish, to a lesser extent, also make this global round trip.

Tough to estimate

Warren said that about one out of four fish Americans eat are part of this cycle, citing a National Academy of Sciences paper from a multi-university research team.

But you won’t find Warren’s stat in that article, because the article tackled a different question. The authors wanted to debunk a talking point that only 10% of the seafood Americans eat is domestically produced. (This is a popular talking point among some top U.S. officials.)

The researchers wrote that a better estimate of the fish caught and eaten here would be about 35% to 38%. Warren’s staff told us they took the difference between 10% and 35%, got 25% and used that to come up with the statistic that 1-in-4 fish was caught here, sent overseas, and re-imported.

“That would not be the correct approach,” said co-author Jessica Gephart at American University. “The 10% was not a solid number to begin with.”

In other words, the article did not take the 10% as given, and then add in the re-imported fish. It was a complete reworking of all the numbers.

Martin Smith, professor of environmental economics at Duke University, offered support for the topline results of Gephart and her colleagues for domestic-origin consumption. He reached a similar percentage based on the 10-most commonly eaten fish in the United States. “So, that’s a totally different methodology that gets to a similar number,” Smith said.

All researchers agree that there’s a severe lack of good data, and estimates will vary. And what Warren described is a real issue.

But the actual number of fish caught here, processed in Asia, and then sold here, Gephart said, is likely “significantly less” than one out of four.

Our ruling

Warren said one out of four fish caught in the United States is processed in Asia and then eaten here. That relies on a misreading of a research article that aimed to debunk a widely used statistic.

One of the co-authors said Warren’s statistic was significantly too high and the method her staff used to derive it was not correct.

The issue of domestic seafood being processed overseas is large, but experts said it is not as large as Warren said.

We rate this claim Mostly False.