The Supreme has decided to hear an appeal from the Department of Justice that would maintain the exclusion of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico from receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. "Wait," you might say, "the Department of Justice? Like, President Joe Biden's Department of Justice?" Sort of. The appeal was made in September 2020 by the Trump administration. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit had agreed with the plaintiff in the case, Jose Luis Vaello-Madero, who had been receiving SSI while he lived in New York, and who was cut off when he returned to Puerto Rico to care for his ailing wife.
When the Trump administration filed its appeal, then-candidate Biden tweeted "Time and again, the president has refused to provide Puerto Rico with much-needed resources. He's repeatedly insulted Puerto Ricans and this latest action is another example of his disrespect for the island. This ends when I'm elected president." Unfortunately, his DOJ did not get that appeal withdrawn, and now the Supreme Court has granted it a hearing. Biden's DOJ can still ask the Court to dismiss the case, but for now it's moving forward, infuriating Puerto Rican activists and advocates.
The global number of new coronavirus cases rose for the first time in nearly two months, the World Health Organization said Monday....Cases over the past week jumped in every region except for Africa and the Western Pacific, the U.N. agency said.
Naturally this got me curious:
Sure enough, if you look at the period from February 22-28, daily cases worldwide have gone up by about 14,000. That's an increase of just over 3%. Not the biggest change, but definitely a move in the wrong direction.
So keep masking up and staying at home as much as possible, folks. We aren't out of the woods yet.
After he texted his brother about his accomplishments on that day, his brother shot back, "What the actual fuck is wrong with you?", later telling a friend about his brother's stupidity. The friend later tipped off the FBI.
And of course, the FBI Director, Christopher Wray, said there was no evidence of 'Antifa' or 'Fake Trump' supporters at the MAGA riot.
Source: Daily Beast
Daily Kos Elections recently finished calculating the results of the 2020 presidential election for all 435 congressional districts, and one major finding we uncovered was that the number of districts that voted for one party for president but another party for House fell to a historic low of just 16. As shown on the map at the top of this post (see here for a larger version), seven Democrats hold districts that voted for Donald Trump while nine Republicans represent seats that Joe Biden carried.
The number of these “crossover” or “split-ticket” districts is extremely low by historical standards. Following the 2016 elections, there were 35 such seats, which was an increase from 2012 but a steep drop from the 83 produced by the 2008 Democratic wave. For much of the post-war era, there were 100 or more such districts, according to the Brookings Institution. To find a lower proportion in a presidential year, you have to go back to the Republican landslide of 1920, when there were just 11 crossover districts.
Fox News' Harris Faulkner announced that Trump's former White House press secretary and one of the biggest serial liars from in presidential press secretary history was hired by Fox News.
This, after a denial that she was "currently" an employee of Fox...last Friday. Of course they'd already signed the paperwork.
"Currently" was doing a lot of work in this statement from Fox on Jan. 26:
"Kayleigh McEnany is not currently an employee or contributor at FOX News." https://t.co/HzAgXlzMuK
— Annie Karni (@anniekarni) March 2, 2021
A few weeks ago we exposed Kayleigh McEnany’s agreement to work with Fox News. Fox put out a statement saying that “Kayleigh McEnany is not currently an employee or contributor at FOX News.” Now she is. https://t.co/0D4o2n64nP
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) March 2, 2021
More than a dozen Latino organizations are condemning an anti-democratic lie made by Goya Foods CEO and noted pendejo Robert Unanue at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where he called the former president “the real, the legitimate, and the still actual president.” I can’t believe we still have to repeat this, but the former president in fact lost the 2020 election.
Unanue was already censured by his company’s board of directors for spreading anti-democratic lies on right-wing television last month. He was reportedly close to being ousted from Goya entirely, but got his ass saved by virtue of his family name. But following his continued shenanigans, 14 Latino groups say that “Mr. Unanue has clearly not learned his lesson.” While they do not outright call for his ouster, they urge “the corporate governance structures at Goya Foods act.”
I read a depressing article in The Atlantic recently called “The 5 Turnip Amendments to the Constitution” (only it didn’t cite a winter vegetable). The author argues that The Former Chode changed our system of government in five profound ways with the following informal amendments:
- Amendment 1. No president shall be removed from office for treason, bribery, or any other crime or misdemeanor, no matter how high, should a partisan minority of the Senate choose to protect him.
- Amendment 2. Congressional oversight shall be optional. No congressional subpoena or demand for testimony or documents shall bind a president who chooses to ignore it.
- Amendment 3. Congressional appropriations shall be suggestions. The president may choose whether or not to comply with congressional spending laws, and Congress shall have no recourse should a president declare that his own priorities supersede Congress’s instructions.
- Amendment 4. The president shall have authority to make appointments as he sees fit, without the advice and consent of the Senate, provided he deems his appointees to be acting, temporary, or otherwise exempt from the ordinary confirmation process.
- Amendment 5. The president shall have unconstrained authority to dangle and issue pardons for the purpose of obstructing justice, tampering with witnesses, and forestalling investigations.
Put another way, Agent Orange exposed the fragility of our system due to overreliance on good faith. Now that one party has discovered that shamelessness is a democracy-annihilating superpower, we should codify what we can while we have the opportunity. Here’s Senator Whitehouse attempting to claw back Amendment 2 above:
Sen. Whitehouse accuses FBI Director Wray of giving politically sensitive info to GOP while withholding answers from Democrats for years
“You’ve been asked questions for the record. Are they going to go into the same hole where questions for the record go to die at the FBI?” pic.twitter.com/fzd8v7FjhQ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 2, 2021
Whitehouse is PISSED about the FBI stonewalling for partisan gain. Good. Everyone should be. As Whitehouse notes, oversight is as an important part of lawmakers’ jobs as legislating.
I really don’t know what to think about Wray. The Former A-Hole appointed him, but Wray has shown signs of independence. Let’s see if he coughs up the documents now without the “rigmarole,” as Whitehouse calls it.
The Republican Party has won a majority of the white vote ever since the 1976 election. But how has this changed over the years?
This is a little tricky to measure. Obviously if Republicans win in a landslide, they're also going to win the white vote in a landslide. If they lose, their share of the white vote will go down. The only good way to measure this, then, is to look at the GOP's two-party share of the white vote compared to its two-party share of the total vote. Here it is:
In 1976, for example, Republicans won 48.9% of the total vote and 52.0% of the white vote, so the excess white vote was 3.1 percentage points. In 2020, Donald Trump won 47.7% of the total vote and 58.6% of the white vote, for an excess white vote of 10.9 percentage points.
The interesting thing to note is that the high point for the Republican Party was Mitt Romney in 2012. Running against a Black man they won an excess of 12.2 percentage points of the white vote. Donald Trump, running against the memory of a Black man, performed a bit worse in 2016, and worse still in 2020. This suggests that the white backlash against Barack Obama was at its peak when Obama was actually in the White House, and has declined a bit ever since.
The closer Democrats get to passing one of the most popular major legislative initiatives in over a decade, the more polling shows it continues to be wildly popular and, dare we say it, unifying. At least among the American public.
A new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday found that several key provisions in President Biden's American Rescue Plan not only draw support approaching or above three-quarters of American voters, but it also gets majority support from GOP voters. Those key provisions are targeted at increasing access to health care, particularly for struggling Americans.
The FBI's Christopher Wray testified to the Senate earlier today that there is no evidence that Antifa or fake Trump supporters were part of the insurrection against the U.S. government on January 6th.
Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Committee, went to great lengths in his opening remarks to try and paint "Antifa" in the same light as those Trump supporters who tried to overthrow a free and fair election by rioting, leaving the US Capitol sacked and many injured and dead.
When asked by Senator Pat Leahy if Antifa had any role in the traitorous attack on the Capitol, Wray said, "We have not to date seen evidence of anarchist violent extremist or people subscribing to Antifa in connection with the Sixth."
Chairman Dick Durbin asked about the participation of White supremacists and other extremists that attacked the Capitol.
The FBI Director replied, "Certainly as I said, militia violent extremism, some instances of racially motivated violent extremism specifically advocating for the superiority of the white race" was part of the Capitol insurrection.
Durbin asked, "Do you have any evidence that the Capitol attack that was organized by "fake Trump" protesters?"
"We have not seen evidence of that at this stage certainly," Wray replied.
After losing the White House and the Senate, Republicans are looking for a path back to power in 2022. Embracing policies that are popular with voters appears to be right out as Republicans fight a COVID-19 stimulus bill that has massive popular support. Instead, they’re going with dismantling voting rights state by state and also, they hope, at the Supreme Court.
With more than 250 bills restricting voting rights having been introduced in 43 states, “We are seeing the weaponization of Trump’s big lie,” Ari Melber said on CNN. “All around the country, Republicans are pointing to the fact that so many of their voters believe the election was stolen as a reason to cut back on voting. So, for two months, Trump said the election was stolen and afterwards, now we are seeing Republicans in state after state, including all of these key swing states like Georgia and Arizona, rush to restrict access to the ballot.”
The estate of Dr. Seuss has decided to remove six of his books from publication because of racist imagery. Philip Bump comments on a gift of Seuss books that his son received a few months ago:
One of the books he was sent was Dr. Seuss's “If I Ran the Zoo,” a book I had as a kid and that I remembered fondly. In it, a young boy imagines what he'd do with the local zoo were he in charge. It's Seuss, so the boy's conjurings are wild, weird creatures whose names rhyme with their points of origin.
I sat down to read it with Thomas and rambled along in rhythm. Then I turned the page to the “African island of Yerka” on which lived the Tufted Mazurka. In Seuss’s drawing, the bird-thing is perched on a pole being held by two caricatures of African men that are so obviously and immediately racist that it was almost breathtaking. It would be like watching an interview with Tom Hanks in which he suddenly started casually dropping racial slurs, a grotesque act accentuated by astonishment at the source. This was Dr. Seuss, the benchmark for authors of children’s books! And here are the racist caricatures he drew.
This is unsurprising given that the book was written in 1950, when this kind of imagery was unexceptional. But times change and no one wants their young kids reading and seeing this kind of stuff anymore. Naturally conservatives will yell about Seuss being "canceled" due to precious liberal sensitivities, but who cares? The Seuss estate is doing what's right, and there are loads of other Dr. Seuss books still available.
But here's what I don't get. Why not just remove this page from the book? If I Ran the Zoo isn't a narrative, it's a series of disconnected drawings. Removing one would do it no harm.
Or, for that matter, why not get someone to redraw the African pole bearers? It would be a pretty minor tweak.
If we were talking about Tolstoy or Faulkner, nobody would dare suggest such a thing. But this is Dr. Seuss. Creative integrity is just not that big a deal in a book of cartoons aimed at five-year-olds. Is it?
But I suppose the estate considered all these possibilities and decided against them. It's not as if this depletes the world of children's books, but it's still too bad. If I Ran the Zoo was a pretty good book. Not as good as On Beyond Zebra, maybe, but still pretty good.
Families cruelly separated at the southern border by the previous administration will have the option of being reunited in the United States if they wish, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary and reunification task force chair Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Monday. In a release outlining a “statement of principles,” the task force said it would further work to identify ways for families to pursue permanent status here.
“We are dedicating our resources throughout the Department of Homeland Security and the federal government, and bringing our full weight to bear, to reunite children who were cruelly separated from their parents,” Mayorkas said in the statement, which also officially announced respected advocate Michelle Brané as task force executive director. “It is our moral imperative to not only reunite the families, but to provide them with the relief, resources, and services they need to heal.”
The Senate could kick off floor consideration of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan as soon as Wednesday, and not a moment too soon for the millions of people who could see the unemployment insurance end March 14. The Senate is going to move forward with a bill that doesn't include a hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The last time the federal minimum wage was increased was 2009, and the 11 years since have been the longest period to lapse without a wage hike in the eight decades since the minimum wage was established.
That makes maintaining the spending levels in the bill—particularly the direct aid to people—all the more critical. But there are some Senate Democrats who want to curtail it. That includes Sen. Joe Manchin, who is still fighting to get those one-time $1,400 survival checks—already reduced from the promised $2,000 that helped win the Georgia Senate races—sent to fewer people. Because he is of the opinion that individuals who made $50,000 in 2019 are doing just fine without help. He pitched that idea to President Joe Biden in a conference call Monday in which other "moderate" Democrats participated.
Late-night hosts had no problem poking fun at the worst convention ever. Above, a cartoon exterminator (via the Colbert show) notes that you'll never fully get rid of the Trump pest unless maybe you increase the minimum wage and work toward making the COVID pandemic a thing of the past.
Other offerings below:
[embed eid="44492" /]NOAH: “I’ve watched CPAC and WandaVision this weekend and I’m not sure which characters are living in a more warped reality. Trump is always going to insist he won, he’s hopeless, I fete that. But for the rest of the conservatives in that room, someone is going to need to step up and have the balls to tell them that their candidate lost and that they need to grow up and accept that. And I think, Carly, you were going to tell them that, right? Carly?”
[embed eid="44493" /]SETH MEYERS: “Oh, you are ice cold. Sorry, I meant to say your constituents are ice cold! Because they didn’t have heat for a week, but good zinger. So he went from Cancun to Orlando with a brief stop in his home state in between. Cruz roughly has the same enthusiasm for helping his constituents in Texas as Al Pacino has for attending the Golden Globes.”
[embed eid="44494" /]
The Nazi Rune Stage Scandal at CPAC took an odd twist in the past day.
As we wrote yesterday, Hyatt Hotels and their damage control PR department worked overtime to distance their brand from the Nazi rune-shaped stage at the CPAC event, held at Hyatt Orlando.
CPAC's "attorney," David H. Safavian, wrote a stern letter to Hyatt condemning them for, of course, cancel culture!
This letter to Hyatt Hotels is our declaration that we will not let them cancel us with these lies. @Hyatt #AmericaUnCanceled #CPAC2021
Read our statement here: https://t.co/36tjIrUbEW pic.twitter.com/IcfKmFd8TU
— CPAC 2021 (@CPAC) March 1, 2021
I had my second dose of the Moderna m-RNA vaccine yesterday. What comes next?
It takes three weeks to build immunity, and I don’t plan to change what I’ve been doing until then. I have been isolating rather thoroughly. I haven’t been inside a store since last October. I’m taking piano lessons via Zoom. I wear double masks held tight with a clip that pulls the ear loops to the back of my neck. I haven’t seen friends in person since sometime late last summer. My family is at distances that make a year’s separation not extraordinary.
The CDC has promised guidelines on what to do after you’ve had your vaccine, but they haven’t published them yet. Guidelines are difficult to develop because there are so many variables.
I look at it as a risk assessment problem. What risk are you willing to take? What risk do various situations present? Here’s my assessment for myself. Yours may differ.
The numbers change with new information. We’ve known this virus and its effects only a year now. So my risk assessment is qualitative rather than quantitative.
I see becoming ill with Covid-19 as an unacceptable risk. My age group is more likely than others to be hospitalized or die from Covid-19. Additionally, it can cause lasting effects as “Long Covid.” These risks are a lot more than for the flu. Unacceptable in my judgment.
My risk management strategy is aimed at never contracting the disease. The first Moderna shot is supposed to give 85% immunity, and the second, well over 95%. Nobody who has had the vaccinations has died from Covid and few have been hospitalized. Those are good numbers, but the second is three weeks away for me.
Besides what the vaccine does to protect me, I also consider the numbers of cases and whether they are increasing or decreasing. They have decreased rapidly for the past month or so, but they are now at the levels of last summer, which we thought then was pretty bad. The more cases around, the more likely I am to be exposed. Will a larger dose of virus still make me sick? We don’t know. Could I catch an asymptomatic case and spread virus? Possibly.
The first thing I will do in three weeks will be spend time with friends who have been vaccinated. We will probably stay outside, on my deck, with masks.
Sometime after that, if cases continue to decrease, I will start going to stores. I quit when cases were going up and people were not distancing properly. I’ll start with the Farmers’ Market, which is in a large building or outdoors. In three weeks, it should be at least partially outdoors. Then I’ll try Trader Joe’s, which was particularly crowded and people particularly rude, even during alleged senior hours. I do like their products, though. Costco was good before, and I’ll head back there.
I’m working down my stockpiles of cleaning products and frozen and nonperishable food that I acquired through spring and summer last year. That feels good.
Next week I have a dental hygiene appointment. My last one was in October. The dentist made their hallways one-way, added barriers, and increased ventilation. I felt pretty good about their safety then and better now.
After three weeks, I’ll contact my massage therapist to find out if she is working. She’s always been scrupulous about cleanliness, and I really really need a massage. That will be a great pleasure.
I’ve been cutting my own hair. It doesn’t look bad – curly hair is very forgiving. But I know there are things wrong with the haircut and am looking forward to having it corrected. I’ll let it grow out now so that my hair stylist has something to work with.
My piano teacher doesn’t have a date for her vaccination yet. I am looking forward to having in-person lessons but don’t know when that will be.
I will, of course, mask up when I go out in public. It looks like vaccination cuts down on virus transmission, but not entirely. Masks will be required at least through the summer. People in Santa Fe have been good about masking, although I saw one man yesterday with his nose sticking out. Since they didn’t tattoo my vaccination date on my forehead, nobody can tell that I’m vaccinated.
Restaurants? Movies? Not until at least 50% of the population is vaccinated and case numbers are well below last summer’s. That might come as soon as this summer.
Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner
For God's sake, people, don't let up now. We have a chance to get everyone vaccinated at the same time that COVID-19 cases are declining, and this is a golden opportunity that will happen only once. Let's not mess it up by opening up and ditching our masks too early. Another couple of months is all we need.
Here’s the officially reported coronavirus death toll through March 1. The raw data from Johns Hopkins is here.
For years, it’s been common knowledge that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a vindictive bully. But only now have allegations of sexual harassment come out, and, as is so often the case, a first allegation quickly spurred more women to come forward. We’re now at the “this is a pattern, and there are probably more women out there, but how many?” stage of the story.
Cuomo is currently facing an investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James and increasing calls to resign or, at a minimum, not run for reelection to a fourth term after three women have accused him of sexual harassment. The first two women, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, were aides to Cuomo, while the third, Anna Ruch, met him briefly at a wedding.
For everyone whose motivations are driven by WWDTD (“What Would Donald Trump Do”), which apparently is a number greater than one, here’s one answer: get vaccinated and just don’t talk about it. Apparently Trump, along with Melania, was vaccinated in December as soon as the first doses of vaccine became available. He just failed to tell anyone. After all, being reasonable and following the science just is not the Trump brand.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden took their vaccinations publicly, providing a signal to Americans of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. That, combined with Trump’s secret vaccination, may be the biggest reason that white Republicans are the most skeptical group when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. At this point, an accurate number of Trump supporters could likely be obtained by having Biden do a national address on the benefits of air, then just counting the number of Americans who pass out while holding their breath.