The child care industry and the workers in it—overwhelmingly women, many of them women of color—have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Really hard. But now there are two big reasons for hope, thanks to child care funding in the COVID-19 relief bill passed by the House and to a rush of states opening up vaccinations to child care workers.
After losing 400,000 jobs early in the pandemic, the industry hasn’t fully rebounded. In December 2020, there were still nearly 175,000 fewer child care jobs than there were in December 2019. In an industry that operates on extremely tight profit margins, enrollments remain down due to both reduced class sizes for social distancing purposes and parents keeping their kids home rather than risking group settings, while expenses for personal protective equipment and cleaning are up.
As John pointed out yesterday, the “concession” that Biden made to Manchin et. al. on the stimulus package is not that much (around $15 billion) and the people who will be hurt are those who were making between $80K and $100K (or couples making $160K-200K). So it’s a little trim on what is shaping up to be a pretty large and surprisingly good disaster relief package. That trim will still hurt some people, like those who were making a solid middle-class income then lost their job, because we need to hurt people for reasons, I guess.
My first question: who is the audience for this nonsense? It can’t be Fox News and Republicans, because they’ll still be able to dig up stories of undeserving (i.e., black and brown) stimulus recipients, no matter what caps we put on it. Are there some Democrats who give a shit about the $15 or so billion that will be saved from a $1.9 trillion package? Is there some quirk of West Virginia or Arizona politics that means that Manchin and Sinema will prosper because of this tiny cut? Or are those two just like a dogs that have to piss on every tree to show the world that they exist? Maybe I answered my own question.
My second question is why the Capital is not ringed with soldiers, why every member and staffer doesn’t have an armed escort, and why some kind of armored vehicles aren’t patrolling streets around the building so the House can meet today? (The Senate is in session, which makes little sense if you’re closing the House for a threat.) Is not capitulating to terrorists reserved for foreign terrorists only?
Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the D.C. National Guard commander, testified to the Homeland Security committee yesterday he did not receive approval to send troops during the Jan. 6th insurrection until more than three hours after he had requested it. Via the New York Times:
He said he had received a “frantic call” at 1:49 p.m. from Steven A. Sund, then the chief of the Capitol Police, about half an hour before rioters breached the Capitol.
“Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency at the Capitol,” General Walker testified. “He requested the immediate assistance of as many available National Guardsmen that I could muster.”
He said he had immediately alerted Army leaders and even put troops on buses “ready to move to the Capitol.” But Mr. (Christopher) Miller did not approve the request until 3:04 p.m., after military officials had expressed their concerns about optics. General Walker did not receive word that Pentagon officials had authorized his request until 5:08 p.m. — three hours and 19 minutes after he had received Chief Sund’s plea.
He testified that Mike Flynn's brother (who officials originally insisted was not on the call) and Gen. Piatt were concerned about the optics of sending the Guard, and said he thought there was a double standard that only applied to Black Lives Matter protests.
Here’s the officially reported coronavirus death toll through March 3. The raw data from Johns Hopkins is here.
The five teachers from the private Christian School District near St. Louis (40 years of Biblical education) had a picture of themselves posted to social media holding up cards with the block letters spelling out "COONS." The St. Louis chapter of the NAACP was not amused.
Source: KSDK, Missouri
The St. Charles County branch of the NAACP and several parents are calling for change after five teachers were pictured on social media holding up a racial slur.
"I'm angry, I'm hurt because I trust you with my child," said one parent with a child in the Christian School District.
It started as a game of human Scrabble. The photo shows faculty from the https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/education/christian-school-district-ra... rearranging letters to form the word "coons." Someone then posted it to social media, parents said it was even on the school district's website. However, Principal Jake Ibbetson told 5 On Your Side Wednesday that wasn't the case. He said the photo was never posted to the school's website or any of the school's social media accounts.
Thank God there's at least one prominent Democrat in Florida to speak out about this disgusting "donations for vaccines" practice by Trump mini-me Ron DeSantis. The state agriculture official called it "corruption at its worst."
The Miami Herald reported yesterday that former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner made a $250,000 campaign contribution to Ron DeSantis last week after the high-end Florida Keys community where Rauner owns a home were among the first in the state to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Via the Sun-Sentinel:
Rauner’s connection to the favorable treatment first was reported Wednesday by the Miami Herald, which obtained a memo the management of the exclusive Ocean Reef Club sent to residents noting that its medical center had vaccinations for residents age 65 and over while most Floridians struggled to access the shots. DeSantis has used the state’s vaccination program to open special distribution sites in select communities while skipping state and local vaccine registration logs, various Florida news outlets have reported..
The House of Representatives worked late Wednesday night to wrap up key business before closing on Thursday due to warnings of a conspiracy theory-driven militia plan to attack the Capitol on March 4. Despite those fears, the House passed two important bills on Wednesday night: the For the People Act, a wide-ranging voting and election reform bill, and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“There is a systemic problem with policing in the United States. By enacting transformative reform on a national level, we have a chance to address it,” Rep. Karen Bass, the author of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act wrote in a USA Today op-ed. ”Though named in his honor, Congress must not pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to honor one man—but to honor all the unarmed people who have been brutalized or killed by police since his death and the many more who were brutalized or killed prior.”
Despite Joe Biden’s promise to increase the number of refugees admitted into the U.S., deportations continue nationwide—along with halts in travel. Refugees and immigrants coming to the U.S. have been taken off flights because Biden has yet to sign the determination making the modifications to the current refugee gap official. According to CNN, in the past week at least 60 refugees were unbooked from their flights and more than 200 were forced to postpone trips. Additionally, refugees and immigrants who came to the U.S. seeking asylum are facing deportation.
Among those being deported are Haitian immigrants who “may face harm” upon returning to their home country. Due to violent crime and political instability, many Haitians have sought refuge in the U.S. According to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News, the country’s condition has only worsened in the past few months, putting these immigrants even more at risk, a fact officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have acknowledged.
Alysin Camerota summed it up. "Former vice president Mike Pence has broken his silence in an op-ed about the election. and a new election law. His op-ed cries out for a reality check and John Avlon is here to oblige," she said.
"There's not a phrase in English for what former VP Mike Pence did yesterday. He emerged himself with an op-ed trying to curry favor with some of the same people who wanted to kill him at the Capitol," Avlon said.Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
"I mean, this is more than a fool's errand or exercise in political masochism. Listen to the first part of the first line. 'After an election marked by significant voting irregularities, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election.' He's trying to dignify the Big Lie. The same one that almost got him killed. Because, of course, there were not significant voting irregularities.
"You need more evidence than the 60 court cases Team Trump lost, listen to election officials nationwide or former AG Bill Barr, Chris Wray. Pence knows a certain truth. Why is he doing it? Stockholm syndrome is when you start to identify with your captors. This is way worse. Listen to him trying to meet the mob halfway.
President Joe Biden has said it. Antony Blinken has said it. Jake Sullivan has said it. “Foreign policy for the middle class.” I think I’ve heard Kamala Harris say it too. It comes from a report that Sullivan and others wrote while he was at the Carnegie Endowment.
Yesterday (March 3) Secretary Blinken gave a speech, “A Foreign Policy for the American People.” It looks like that speech is an upgraded version of the report. What I take from the report and the speech is that the Biden administration is bringing a new approach to foreign policy, and, more importantly, that they can change. I’ll work through the speech in a later post, but here’s the report.
“Foreign policy for the middle class” combines two concepts not usually combined, but the two interact in many ways. The report highlights these interactions and attempts to provide ways to make those interactions more favorable. International trade is an obvious point of contact, but others are addressed in the report as well.
The report has eleven authors, about evenly divided between foreign policy and economic experts, some expert in both. The team is bipartisan, with a tilt towards Democrats. Part of the study was a survey of people in Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio to determine how they saw the connection between their economic prospects and foreign policy. The three states were chosen to represent different aspects of the American economy: Colorado, resource extraction; Nebraska, farming; and Ohio, industrial. Of course, there is overlap among the categories. The surveys were published separately but are not referenced in the report.
The report defines “foreign policy” and “middle class” on page 9.
“Foreign policy” in this study serves as shorthand for foreign, defense, development, international economic, trade, and other internationally oriented policies perceived by those interviewed for the project as impactful to their economic well-being.
The report takes its definition of “middle class” from the Pew Research Center: a middle-income range for a family of three of $48,505–145,516. That range was adjusted for the cost of living in the three states.
Those interviewed for the project often described a “middle-class standard of living” as the ability to secure a job with adequate pay and benefits to meet their monthly expenses, tend to their families’ medical needs, buy a car, own a home, help their kids pursue decent postsecondary school education, take an annual vacation, save for retirement, and not be saddled with crippling debt.
The preface notes why it’s important to link the middle class and foreign policy. Despite the conflation of racial antagonism with economic issues by Donald Trump and others, the United States faces real economic issues, particularly the expanding income gap and uneven opportunities for participating in the economy. It is the interplay of foreign policy with those issues that the report attempts to address.
A 68-page report by 11 authors cannot work through that interplay and provide detailed recommendations for action. The authors lean toward recommendations; some justification is offered, but the organization of the report is unclear in its purpose and uneven in its treatment. Exploring the links between domestic politics and international relations is important. Too many Americans believe that 10% of the national budget or more goes outside the country, when the total Department of State and aid budgets are more like 1% of the whole. Globalization isn’t going away, so we need better ways to deal with it and get the public behind the policies relating to it.
Unfortunately, this report can’t be used in this way. I’ve puzzled over it for several weeks now and can’t distill a message beyond “Foreign policy for the middle class.” Which I’m hearing less frequently. It’s significant that the administration isn’t distributing thousands of copies of the report.
Let me throw up my hands and list the main ideas. If you are interested in polls, the material from Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio may be worth perusing if it is released. By and large, according to the report, the people polled in Colorado, Nebraska, and Ohio see interconnection with the world as a good thing but have reservations. In a later post, I may make suggestions on how the report might have been better.
Their overall conclusions:
- First, the prime directive of everyone in the foreign policy community— not just those responsible for international economics and trade—should include developing and advancing a wide range of policies abroad that contribute to economic and societal renewal at home.
- Second, foreign and domestic policymakers need to collectively redress the country’s growing distributional challenges. The broad middle class and those struggling to join it do not benefit enough from the fruits of global economic growth and market access. And they also bear too much of the burden of global shocks and dislocations and of the trade-offs that come with foreign policy–related decisions made in Washington.
- Third, the policy community needs to adopt a more collaborative, integrated approach to domestic and foreign policy making and to embrace more policy innovation.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates many of these issues, but it also provides impetus to make the recovery match the goals of a foreign policy for the middle class.
Pages 6 through 33 deal with why previous approaches are found wanting and explaining the approach. To summarize those 27 pages, I’ll assume that yes, we need a new approach.
- The global pandemic provides an opportunity for changing policies. Much of this discussion is consistent with the American Rescue Plan now in Congress. Much needs to be done at home.
- How to expand international trade so that it benefits all sectors of the economy. The report recognizes this as a hard problem. Trade agreements like the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) should be reviewed for their effects on various economic sectors in deciding whether similar agreements should be sought. Public hearings could be held throughout the country as major U.S. trade policy decisions are being formulated and finalized.
- US trade laws should be modernized to improve responses to unfair trade practices such as state subsidies that lead to overcapacity. Trade enforcement authorities are spread across the government, which makes it harder to provide a clear and decisive response. Likewise, conflict resolution in international trade needs to be improved.
- Close gaps in national tax and regulatory frameworks and in labor and environmental protections. These gaps allow practices that undermine the middle class. Large multinationals can reduce their tax liabilities and erode tax bases at home. Gaps in regulatory frameworks allow large, dominant firms to engage in anticompetitive practices. Gaps in labor and environmental practices give firms leverage against US labor and allow them to avoid the cost of polluting. (p. 40)
Of course we must have a National Competitiveness Strategy (NCS), which, the report says, will drive policy innovation (p. 42). The record of such things, particularly when focused on an abstraction, is not encouraging.
- The NCS would drive both public and private investment in industry. The bulk of the investment would be private, and more creative policies are needed to stimulate that investment. Suggestions are given, like competition among communities for government grants that would stimulate private investment (p. 45).
The report focuses correctly on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as centers of job creation. They need to be helped to compete globally. US Export Assistance Centers need to be beefed up. Export promotion needs stronger internal coordination within the federal government (p. 47).
Chapter 4 begins with the idea of foreign policy protecting the middle class from “the worst happening.” That last is not explicitly defined. Seven points to protect the middle class (p. 49):
- Bolster U.S. diplomatic leadership to mobilize effective global action and better advance middle-class interests.
- Manage strategic competition with China to mitigate risk of destabilizing conflict and counter its efforts toward economic and technological hegemony (Summary on p. 53).
- Anticipate risks in a digital future and improve international policy coordination to reduce the threat of a digital crisis and promote an open and healthy digital ecosystem.
- Boost strategic warning systems and intelligence support to better head off costly shocks and build up protective systems at home.
- Shift some defense spending toward R&D and technological workforce development to protect our innovative edge and enhance long-term readiness.
- Strengthen economic adjustment programs to improve the ability of middleclass communities to adjust to inevitable changes in the pattern of economic activity.
- Safeguard critical supply chains to bolster economic security.
The international affairs budget must be preserved, but so must the defense budget. “Major defense cuts are unwise.” A defense of continuing the defense budget at current levels is on p. 58. The report does not come to terms with the great disparity in the two. Production of essential goods must be brought back to the US. Increased R&D funding in the national laboratories and elsewhere is a response to technological competition.
The recommendations are fairly standard for a report of this type. Many of the recommendations are good. The report is something that might be used to urge Congress to support legislation. It can also serve as a checklist for the public to watch the direction of the administration.
The recommendations change little in any fundamental way. Whether the public can be engaged is an open question, although it will take more than this report to do it. The framing of the report and the use of the slogan by top Biden officials indicate a willingness to change.
Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner
During an unhinged rant Tuesday evening, Fox News host and all around racist Laura Ingraham flailed at the immigration bill the Biden administration sent to Congress.
She began by hitting Biden for reopening immigration centers which had been previously closed before moving on to her real point.
"Democrats need to keep this crisis under wraps for as long as possible, because they know if the real truth gets out about this situation, their amnesty bill is sunk," she explained.
She continued, "What's happening is a purposeful repopulation of America and the exploitation of migrants for cheap labor." Oh Laura. Projection much?
"As for ordinary citizens of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and colors just trying to make a decent life for themselves, and maybe make a decent living, well you are out of luck," she went on, as if she actually cared about anyone other than those white folks who anxiously tune in to hear about how awful it is to share with others.
You know who talked about "repopulating Detroit" with Syrian immigrants? Yeah, that was Republican 2016 hopeful Jeb Bush. And boy howdy, did National Review rip him for it, too. And here is noted neo-Nazi Richard Spencer suggesting that Manhattan should be "repopulated" with Black people.
Dan Polsky and Bingxiao Wu have a new article in the journal, Health Services Research, that looked at the trade-off between network size (both hospital and physicians), hospital quality and premiums on the ACA individual market. They are looking at the 2016 individual market.
We find the following statistically significant results: a one standard deviation increase in physician network breadth was linked to a premium increase of 2.8 percent or $101 per year; a one standard deviation increase in hospital network breadth was linked to a premium increase of 2.4 percent or $86 per year. There was no significant association between premiums and hospital network quality, as measured by hospital star ratings and the inclusion of teaching hospitals or the top‐20 hospitals nationwide.
The simpler version is that bigger networks are associated with higher premiums by $7 or $8 per month. We know that the ACA insurance markets are extremely price sensitive, as the marginal buyer is buying almost exclusively on premium. We know that broad networks are modestly valued by consumers and adversely selected.
The interesting to me finding is that big, broad hospital networks are not correlated with hospital network quality.
This was slightly surprising to me.
I would have thought that narrow networks that were primarily trying to compete on price would also be trying to leverage a narrow network to screen out individuals whose net of risk adjustment residual costs were above revenue. At least in 2016, this was not happening on a systemic basis.
Instead the take-away is that narrow networks can drive down premiums without effecting one measure of quality.
This is interesting!
On Jan. 6, a mob of Trump supporters not only stood around the Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” they erected a gallows to show how eager they were to put his pale neck in a noose. Then those same Trump supporters smashed their way into the Capitol and went hunting for Pence, missing him by only feet thanks to the quick thinking of a Black police officer. All of this came minutes after Donald Trump stood outside and centered the crowd’s anger at Pence for not “doing the right thing” by refusing to recognize the results of the 2020 election. Among the many facts that became clear during the Senate trial, one that was underlined again and again was that Donald Trump tried to murder Mike Pence.
At the same time this was going on, Trump locked Pence’s chief of staff out of the White House and when it came to sending in the National Guard, it was actually Pence that gave that go ahead, after Trump failed to act. Again and again, before Jan. 6, at the rally before the assault, during the insurrection, and in the long hours in which no help came to beleaguered Capitol Police, Trump displayed his absolute disdain for the partner he never wanted in the first place.
With the insurrectionists out of the Capitol, and Trump packed off to Mar-a-Lago, Pence might have become a voice offering an alternative. Instead he’s cementing himself as the very model of a modern Republican—with an op-ed endorsing how his party can only survive by vote suppression.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.Leading Off
● House: Thanks to the recent completion of Daily Kos Elections' effort to calculate the 2020 presidential election results by congressional district, we now know that Joe Biden won 224 districts to Donald Trump's 211, a net increase of 15 seats for Democrats compared to the 2016 results under the same district lines. In a new story, Stephen Wolf has created maps and a chart showing the geography and electoral stats of the 19 districts that changed parties at the presidential level in 2020. Of those districts, 17 flipped from backing Trump in 2016 to Biden last year, while two districts switched from supporting Hillary Clinton four years ago to voting for Trump in 2020.
YOU can buy the two new Tom the Dancing Bug books, Tom the Dancing Bug: Into the Trumpverse, and The Super-Fun-Pak Comix Reader! Information here.
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C&J Annual Fundraiser: Day 4
When Kos first emailed me back in 2005 about moving C&J from the diaries to the front page, he caught the gist of it well when he said it would serve as a breezy morning wake-up column. Easy to skim through. Nothing too deep. A good way—along with the Abbreviated Pundit Roundup gang that posts before us—to plant your feet on the ground and get your neurons up-shifted from a foggy shuffle to a brisk jog. Soon after that, we started running Friday's column later in the day for our west coast readers, and it's become the semi-official weekend launchpad.
If you'd like to own a piece of my (gluten-free, non-acidic, but definitely made in a facility that processes nuts) soul for the rest of 2021, here are the various options via PayPal:
Snail mail and thrilling conclusion below the fold...
The U.S. House of Representatives canceled its session planned after Washington D.C. Police warned that a militia group could be plotting to attack the Capitol https://t.co/w8rksD4cXz pic.twitter.com/SvjtpRQDVc
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 4, 2021
fox news getting the inside dirt on clandestine far right operations by interviewing their employees https://t.co/oBrWmsYXYg
— Peloton InfoSec Analyst (Incident Response) (@CalmSporting) March 3, 2021
Capitol Police did not identify the militia group that it says has threatened to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman declined in testimony before a House panel to provide any more details publicly. https://t.co/VokvZKS9ST
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 3, 2021
(Strong suggestions it’s the Three Percenters / Oath Keepers, but that mustn’t be averred directly, because so many members of that cohort are also working law enforcement officials.)
I love this world where we're on pins and needles bimonthly because some shitposting soothsayer turned our most divorced uncles into Templars. https://t.co/gfX4L5Kgm2
— Zeddy (@Zeddary) March 3, 2021
Comprehensive explainer, by the BBC, of our quaint ex-colonial ways:
Why are QAnon believers obsessed with 4 March?https://t.co/J1VHEZH2hn
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 4, 2021
… The idea stems from the belief among some QAnon followers that the United States turned from a country into a corporation after the passage of the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871.
It’s an odd, unfounded theory drawn from the sovereign citizen movement, an extreme libertarian fringe that opposes federal laws, general taxation and even the US currency on the grounds that they restrict individual rights.
Believers in the QAnon offshoot maintain that every US president, act and amendment passed after 1871 is illegitimate…
Come, fellow SovCits, let us declare a return to the halcyon days when not-Whites were livestock, and women not much more privileged!
Somebody keep an eye on Rand Paul; I don’t think he’s a sovereign-citizen believer, but he’s surely aware of their propaganda and ready to take advantage of any opening they might wedge.
The post Thursday Morning Open Thread: Right-Wing Domestic Terrorists Score Another ‘Victory’ appeared first on Balloon Juice.
The post On The Road – Steve from Mendocino – Provence, France – Group 2/3 appeared first on Balloon Juice.
"madam press secretary, does mister biden assert that horton does not in fact hear a who and is perpetuating a falsehood on par with the leadup to the iraq war? i work for the washington post, btw." https://t.co/y8EP8WUomE
— Peloton InfoSec Analyst (Incident Response) (@CalmSporting) March 2, 2021
I don’t actually remember the content of And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street — one of the not-acutally-banned six — but I do remember getting in trouble for publicly criticizing it, back in 1960, when I was in kindergarten. Most of the story-hour books at P.S. 291 were of the genre best described as Worthy Educational Material, designed more to lull the young audience into naptime than to inspire. But one day Mrs. Bookbinder, bless her earnest heart, decided to bring in a copy of the already-vintage Dr. Seuss book that had once inspired her children. And, of course, as a budding literary snob, I was impelled to denigrate it as nowhere near the standards of the author’s later work (not even 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, much less the slyly subversive One Fish Two Fish). Which I probably could’ve gotten away with, if not for the predicatable teacher’s pet…
“I think it was a wonderful story, Mrs. Bookbinder!”
“Yeah, cuz you’re a suck-up.”
So I had to bring home (yet another) Note to My Parents. My poor mother, a nascent English teacher herself, was torn between the honesty of my critique and her immense respect for the social forms. My old man, after explaining (probably not for the first time) that there were many things which were true and yet not to be said in public, introduced me to Mr. Geissel’s original source of fame: the advertising campaign for FLIT, which was popular enough to enter the general awareness as a tag line — I remember it being used in both Pogo and MAD magazine. (And some of those ads, if you click over: hella racist, by 21st-century standards!)
I was also held incidentally responsible, by the educational authorities, for a minor kerfuffle with the parents of a couple of my Italian-American classmates. Apparently the fuss over my brutal emotional assault on Teacher’s Pet impressed those kids enough that, although they’d never mentioned anything about earlier stories, they described the Seuss-inspired scene to their parents. Now, Geissel was talking about his home town in Massachusetts, but in NYC, Mulberry Street was (still is, such as it remains) Little Italy. You find us funny? Are we some kind of joke to you?…
Such is the power of literature, even at its most (pre)elementary level.
It's weird to put self-cancelation in the "cancel culture" category.
Here, the people doing the cancelling are the people who own the books being cancelled. If the publisher doesn't want to publish something they object to, that's their business. Property rights 'n' all that. https://t.co/OZnl86rEKG
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) March 2, 2021
Look on the bright side. Fifteen years from now you can make some bucks selling these old books on Ebay, assuming you actually own some copies, which stop lying almost none of you actually do.
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) March 2, 2021
that will show dr. seuss enterprises for ceasing publication of some of their catalogue. they're getting fucking owned now by people buying all these books from them https://t.co/A5tdqEQt4v
— Wild Geerters (@classiclib3ral) March 3, 2021
The post Later Night Open Thread: <em>Quick, Henry, the FLIT!</em> appeared first on Balloon Juice.
Seth takes a closer look at Texas and Mississippi lifting their COVID-19 restrictions and Republicans staying silent on the drive to unionize Amazon workers.