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U.S. Airstrikes in Afghanistan Take Aim at Taliban Opium Labs
(from: NY Times The Caucus @ November 20, 2017, 06:05 PM)

The airstrikes are part of what is expected to be a sustained campaign targeting a lucrative source of funding for the Taliban.

If 2018 Is Like 2017, the House Will Be a Tossup
(from: NY Times The Caucus @ November 20, 2017, 03:35 PM)

It's not obvious that the building Democratic wave will be enough to flip control of the chamber.

Op-Ed Contributor: Every Other Terrible Thing About Roy Moore
(from: NY Times The Caucus @ November 20, 2017, 03:12 PM)

Well, not every thing, but his ideas are no better than his behavior.

Glenn Thrush, New York Times Reporter, Accused of Sexual Misconduct
(from: NY Times The Caucus @ November 20, 2017, 03:07 PM)

Mr. Thrush, a White House reporter, was suspended by The Times after the website Vox published a report accusing him of acting inappropriately toward women.

Starbucks Is Criticized for Its Holiday Cups. Yes, Again.
(from: NY Times The Caucus @ November 20, 2017, 02:44 PM)

The 2017 cup shows two interlocked cartoon hands. Some conservatives accuse the company of promoting a ?gay agenda.?

Trump Returns North Korea to List of State Sponsors of Terrorism
(from: NY Times The Caucus @ November 20, 2017, 02:40 PM)

North Korea had been removed from the list under the George W. Bush administration in an attempt to salvage negotiations for a nuclear deal.

Yellen to Leave Federal Reserve in February
(from: NY Times The Caucus @ November 20, 2017, 02:17 PM)

Janet L. Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, said she would leave the Fed when her four-year term as chairwoman ends in February.

Bobby Baker, who helped make Lyndon Johnson the master of the Senate, dies at 89
(from: Swing State Project @ November 20, 2017, 01:54 PM)

Bobby Baker, an influential protégé to Lyndon Johnson who helped him amass power in the Senate and may have helped doom his political career if the Kennedy assassination had not happened first, died Nov. 12 at the age of 89. Baker arrived in the Senate as a page in 1943 at the age of 14, and he quickly acquired a huge and intimate knowledge of the 96 senators. In 1948, Sen.-elect Johnson sought out Baker. Decades later, Baker recounted Johnson telling him, "Mr. Baker, they tell me you?re the smartest son of a bitch over there," and Baker responded, "Well, whoever told you that lied. I know all of the staff on our side. I know who the drunks are. And I know whose word is good."

And indeed, as historian Robert Caro recounts in great detail in Master of the Senate (a book we highly recommend), Baker very quickly proved his worth. In 1950, Johnson was appointed as assistant Democratic leader (now known as whip), which was pretty much a useless position at the time. However, Baker helped provide Johnson with the best possible information about which way Democratic senators were leaning on any vote. As one contemporary recounted to Caro, Baker was no "true believer," because he wasn't someone who "just can't help but feel that the issue is so clear on their side that the people must vote that way ? Bobby didn't let that kind of consideration affect him, maybe because he didn?t have terribly strong convictions himself."

Johnson's counts were far better than anything else available, and fellow Democratic senators and the Truman White House came to depend on them. As whip and later as Democratic leader, Johnson utilized Baker to understand where senators actually stood on votes, and what means were needed to bring over reluctant senators. Baker later said that after hours senators "let their hair down when they?ve had a few drinks, tell you their likes and dislikes, and you file it away. You find out who likes to take trips around the world, and then you try to repay those who voted against their conscience to help you. Senator Johnson was very adept at taking care of senators and their wishes, and the bills that they wanted." Baker was close to Johnson throughout his time as leader, and he acquired the nickname "Little Lyndon."

However, while Baker helped Johnson become the most powerful leader of the Senate before or since, he almost led to his political downfall.

LaToya Cantrell's win will make her first black woman mayor in New Orleans' 300-year old history
(from: Swing State Project @ November 20, 2017, 01:12 PM)

New Orleans held its mayoral runoff on Saturday, and City Councilor LaToya Cantrell defeated former Judge Desiree Charbonnet, a fellow Democrat, by a wide 60-40 margin. Cantrell will not only become the first black woman to run the Big Easy in its 300-year history, she?ll be the city?s first woman mayor, period. It?ll be a little while before Cantrell can take office, though: Because the city recently changed its mayoral election calendar, she won't succeed termed-out Mayor Mitch Landrieu until May.

Cantrell rose to prominence for her work helping her neighborhood recover from Hurricane Katrina, and she won office in 2012 by beating a city council candidate backed by Landrieu and Rep. Cedric Richmond. Cantrell continued to position herself as a political outsider in her mayoral bid, while Charbonnet, who hails from a well-connected political family, had the support of Richmond and much of the city's old political establishment. Charbonnet was also backed by New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, though as we'll discuss, these endorsements may have badly backfired on her.

Despite Charbonnet?s deeper connections and stronger fundraising, Cantrell edged her 39-30 in the October primary, in which all candidates from all parties ran together on a single ballot. Cantrell's stock quickly rose: Another former judge, Michael Bagneris, who took third place with 19 percent, quickly endorsed Cantrell, and big donors began betting on her for the first time. That allowed Cantrell, who?d been decisively outspent by Charbonnet in the primary, to press her advantage to the fullest.

In the final weeks of the contest, with defeat looming, Charbonnet and her allies began to attack Cantrell for allegedly using her city credit card for personal and campaign expenses that she only belatedly paid back. The matter escalated when Cannizzaro announced that he had forwarded an anonymous tip about Cantrell's spending to the state's Republican attorney general, but the district attorney was precisely the wrong surrogate to try to elevate this story to headline fodder.

While Cannizzaro was re-elected without opposition in 2014, he has become incredibly controversial especially in the last few years. Most notoriously, Cannizzaro's office has jailed at least one rape victim for not cooperating with prosecutors and has even issued fake subpoenas to compel crime victims and witnesses to testify. And though Cannizzaro was elected as a Democrat, Donald Trump is considering appointing him as the area?s U.S. attorney.

Charbonnet did perform well in Lakeview, one of the very few reliably Republican neighborhoods in New Orleans, but relying on GOP support in a city as blue as this one was a risky gamble at best, and the support of Cannizzaro and Scalise may have cost her elsewhere. Cantrell wound up winning 320 of the city's 351 election precincts, while about half of the mere 31 precincts Charbonnet carried were in Lakeview.

Down-ballot darkness: Sexual harassment and assault are rampant in the halls of state governments
(from: Swing State Project @ November 20, 2017, 12:33 PM)

In the wake of the initial spate of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, women in a variety of professions began speaking up about violations we?ve endured from male colleagues or superiors. The business of politics is anything but immune to the problem, and women in Congress and in statehouses across the country are speaking up.


Women piping up about the sexual harassment they endure in state capitols is anything but a new phenomenon. Some of the stories that ?came to light? in years past (see also: Texas in 2013 and Missouri in 2015, just for starters) are only now being rediscovered, because a certain cycle has repeated itself in various states:

  • A scandal or series of scandals in a legislature will shine a light on the systemic sexism and harassment that occurs in so many state capitols;
  • women lawmakers open up about their common terrible experiences;
  • journalists document the horrors in excellent stories; and ...
  • life goes on.

This is not to give short shrift to these pieces or in any way suggest they shouldn?t be written. Quite the contrary: The more women open up publicly about how men in powerful positions abuse that power by harassing the women they work with, the more all of us are forced to confront and deal with a serious problem that thrives in the shadows, away from light and exposure. Maybe the building wave of women?s public accounts of sexual harassment will actually result in real change this time around.

And waves of women are opening up publicly about sexual harassment, specifically in state legislatures. Male lawmakers? misconduct is coming to light, and many are facing real consequences for their actions. Over just the past few weeks:

  • In Colorado, two Democrats and two Republicans have faced accusations of sexual harassment from staffers, interns, and a fellow lawmaker, and the Democratic speaker of the state House has called on one of those Democrats to resign.
  • In Oregon, a Republican state senator has been accused of sexually harassing a fellow senator via multiple instances of inappropriate physical contact and subjecting as many as 15 other women to ?unwanted touching.?
  • A powerful Republican lawmaker in Arizona has been suspended from his position as chair of the budget committee but so far has faced no calls from within his own party to resign over multiple allegations, some from sitting legislators, of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching.

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