Every year it feels like this must be it: the low-hanging fruit and some of the pretty damn high-hanging fruit have been picked when it comes to raising state minimum wages, and momentum is surely going to grind to a halt. Somehow, it doesn’t. Already in 2019, New Jersey has passed a $15 minimum wage bill and the Illinois legislature has done the same, with new Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritztker expected to sign. (The two states’ laws are different, but the end point is $15.)
But the place we never see any progress is where it would affect the most people. The federal minimum wage last rose in 2009, to $7.25 an hour, and congressional Republicans were in a position to block further increases for the rest of Barack Obama’s presidency. Now, Republicans in Congress and the White House stand in the way of a non-poverty level minimum wage. Democrats have introduced a $15 minimum wage bill, but until Democrats take the Senate and the White House, it’s not going anywhere.
Let’s talk about what that $15 minimum wage bill would do, though, because Republicans should have to face consequences for their actions, and working people should know what Republicans are doing to them. Here's the bottom line, from the Economic Policy Institute: “All told, raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would directly or indirectly lift wages for 39.7 million workers, 26.6 percent of the wage-earning workforce.” The average worker who would be directly affected—that is, who would get a raise because they earned less than the new minimum wage—would get an extra $4,000 in pay if they work all year.
The workers who would get raises would be disproportionately women, disproportionately people of color, and more than half would be between the ages of 25 and 54. The impact on black workers would be especially pronounced: 38.1 percent of black workers would get a raise, compared to 23.2 percent of white workers.
Across the board, “Two-thirds (67.3 percent) of the working poor in America would receive a pay increase if the minimum wage were raised to $15 by 2024.” Republicans always claim to value work, but they are dead set against two-thirds of the working poor getting a raise.
This is the 588th edition of the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue). Here is the February 6 edition. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
OUTSTANDING GREEN STORIES
OceanDiver writes—Dawn Chorus: Winter days on the Skagit Flats, 2018-19: “This edition of Dawn Chorus is a series of visits I’ve had this winter on the delta of the Skagit River in Washington state. The Skagit delta is flat and agricultural, the core being Fir Island, a triangle between the north and south forks of the river. It’s been diked and drained for fields, great for crops with the deep fertile sediment washed down from the Cascade mountains nearby. This area could very easily get built up with residential and commercial development being so close to urban centers. I am thankful the many folks associated with Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland (www.skagitonians.org) and state agencies like WDFW have managed to stave that off, and even more are the wildlife who benefit from open land and waterways. In winter the fields are mostly inactive, with swans and geese traveling around gleaning residue, raptors feasting on rodents and small birds, and waterbirds in the bay and canals. Dikes protect Fir Island from the river and Skagit Bay; otherwise it would be regularly flooded when the river or storm surges run high. The Bay beyond is very shallow and protected (in fact getting shallower every year as sediment washes directly there rather than onto the delta) and popular for waterfowl and shorebirds. A few spots on Fir Island have been restored to estuary habitat by WDFW. I live nearby, but not near enough to visit often, and in fact my intermittent trips through there are side trips on my way down to the city or to appointments in the area.”Seemed to turn a corner in 2007
NoFortunateSon writes—It's Here! Green New Deal Calls for National High Speed Rail! (More Photos): “This is a diary about HSR. Why do we care about the power industry? Well, the generation of electrical power is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. And something amazing has happened in recent years. It’s not just that humanity knows what to do about solving the problem of greenhouse gasses resulting from power generation (i.e., wind plus solar). We are already doing it. The United States has the third largest installed nameplate generating capacity of wind power in the World, behind China and the European Union. But this metric is largely meaningless, since the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the World, China, just isn’t as windy as the United States, and therefore doesn’t generate as much power despite having more wind turbines. It’s clever marketing by China, but reality is from 2008 to 2016(1), the United States generates the more electricity from wind than any other Country, and that’s what really counts(2). [...] Look at the timeline for wind and solar growth [...] What happened in 2007? Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and the United States, dramatically changing spending priorities. And what happened in 2009, when even bigger changes started happening, especially in solar? The much reviled (even on the left) stimulus.”
When I began this feature six years ago, there were scores of active progressive political blogs covering some measure of state politics. By the peak in 2013, there were 146 that I was perusing each week. The roster included at least one such blog in every state, and several in some states. A ton of choices for good material, so much that I felt bad some weeks that I had chosen from the outset to keep the list to just a dozen selections a week.
But the changing digital dynamic, with writers moving their efforts over to Facebook and Twitter, or simply getting exhausted after years of blogging, has steadily chipped away at those venues, leaving behind ghosts where the last post is months or years old, or simply disappearing altogether. Interestingly, a few of the survivors are some of the oldest in existence, still plugging away. But as of last week, there were just 38 progressive state blogs remaining on my list, and a dozen or so that have hung on are clearly moribund.
Therefore, sorry to say, I am shuttering the feature with this edition.
To all the great bloggers who have come and gone, and to those that remain, a salute for your efforts to inform readers of the political goings-on in your neck of the woods, the plains, the deserts, doing so with depth, humor, and points of view that still never make it to the traditional media, much of which is itself moribund.
And to all here who have over the years supported this feature, much thanks.
In this Final Edition, as always: Inclusion of an excerpt from a blog post does not necessarily indicate my agreement with—or endorsement of—its contents.
McConnell plans to attack Dems' 2020 candidates over Green New Deal support. His alternative? Coal!!
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are hoping they can box Democratic presidential candidates in by forcing an early vote in the Senate on the Green New Deal resolution. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro, and Kirsten Gillibrand, all of who have declared their presidential candidacies, have pledged their support for the GND concept. McConnell clearly thinks a Republican attack will play well with the voters and make these candidates vulnerable to defeat in the election two years from now.
It would certainly play well with the 60 percent of Republicans in the Senate and House who are climate science deniers. McConnell, of course, is one of them: "For everybody who thinks it's warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn't," he has said. Actual meaning: “For every climate scientist who thinks it’s warming, I can find a pundit or blogger who thinks otherwise.”
What’s his energy plan? Killer coal. In this vein, he’s supported demolishing greenhouse gas emissions. And last week, he urged the federal Tennessee Valley Authority not to shut down one of its aged coal power plants—Paradise #3— because it has become uneconomic. TVA ignored him:
“Kentuckians strongly oppose moving away from coal,” McConnell said in a video address to the utility that rejected his pitch Thursday, saying it wasn’t economically feasible to keep operating the final burner at the Paradise plant in Muhlenberg County.
“Coal has helped fuel our country’s greatness and it needs to be part of our energy future,” McConnell said. [...]
The loss of jobs, along with coal’s history in the state, leaves many lawmakers wary of what they see as overly aggressive efforts to combat climate change. They’re eager to shield the coal industry from further decline and to aid miners and their families.
Will there ever be a week, sweet Community, where I can’t write “Oh, what a week it’s been” as I start this collection of your work? It feels unlikely right now. Alas, since last we spoke, we’ve got new presidential candidates, and a fake national emergency declared. Obviously I have no choice but to declare it: Oh, what a week it’s been!
This was one of the best weeks for Community content since I started this weekly feature, y’all! You should put down your phone or mouse and pat yourself on the back right this very moment!
Are you done? Good. Now it’s time for my weekly question.
Okay, fine. This is “This Week in Space!” Except … This Week in Space!, complete with exclamation point, was always something of a weak title. So I’m stealing “Kosmos,” which was the title of a book that Darksyde and I did in the early days of DK and taking it for a spin.
Space.Com: NASA decides it wants to go back to the Moon in a hurry.
NASA really wants to land astronauts on the moon in 2028. But to do that, the agency is looking to commercial space companies to build the landers, space tugs and refueling stations required to make a moon exploration effort that lasts.
"This time, when we go to the moon we're going to stay," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told a roomful of space industry representatives here Thursday (Feb. 14). "So, we're not going back to the moon to leave flags and footprints and then not go back for another 50 years. We're going to go sustainably. To stay. With landers and robots and rovers — and humans."
The gathering at NASA's headquarters comes a week after the agency unveiled what it calls a Broad Agency Announcement calling on commercial space companies to submit ideas for lunar landers, tug-like transfer vehicles and refueling systems to gas up those vehicles for reuse. Interested companies have until March 25 to submit their ideas, with NASA aiming to make selections in May and issue contracts of up to $9 million for follow-up studies in July (just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing).
Honestly, no matter what I think about Bridenstine, I have sympathy for anyone trying to accomplish anything that takes more than a week at NASA. With the agency subject to complete rewrites of its direction every four to eight years, and 538 legislators all looking on the agency as a source of revenue, not research, it seems impossible for it to stay focused, especially on the manned space flight side, long enough to get anything done. And anything that does get done is often vastly over cost especially because it is the ill-fitting compromise of pieces leftover from competing visions.
While privatizing NASA would be a disaster, I’d be completely behind legislation that provided the agency with a semi-autonomous buffer zone, allowing it more independence so long as it continued to set goals and accomplish them.
What’s coming up on Sunday Kos:
Yes, this coloring job on a box of Camels was one driver’s real attempt to avoid getting a vehicle inspection sticker in New Hampshire.
- Are we a democracy or are we a monarchy, by Ian Reifowitz
- We must take back our wealth from the super-rich methodically before it is too late, by Egberto Willies
- I used to be a "centrist" Democrat, by Frank Vyan Walton
- Rich guy says taxing rich guys is wrong, by Mark E Andersen
- The 2020 Trump strategy, and why scandal is our own worst enemy, by David Akadjian
- I’m a billionaire and I’m running for president, by Jon Perr
- Here's our ultimate Democratic wishlist for Senate in 2020. Who's on yours? by Steve Singiser
- The 2020 electorate will be more diverse than ever, by Sher Watts Spooner
- I refuse to honor George Washington, and other 'founders' who enslaved, and sold human beings, by Denise Oliver Velez
• N.H. police say driver tried to pass off a Camel cigarette box as an inspection sticker. Creative not illegal, they say.
• The Guardian reports on two migrant Honduran teens abducted, tortured, and killed in Tijuana in December: The deaths show the vulnerability of migrants forced to ‘remain in Mexico’ under new U.S. policy for asylum seekers.
At $650 billion, the three-year price of climate disasters totals just over a quarter of a percent of global gross domestic product, the analysts say. The investment bank warns that the situation may only get worse, noting that damages associated with global warming could total $54 trillion by 2040, according to a UN panel composed of the world's top climate scientists.
Trump and his friends believe in voter suppression and billionaires buying elections.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 16, 2019
Ã¢ÂÂ Automatic voter registration
Ã¢ÂÂ The overturn of Citizens United
Ã¢ÂÂ Election day as a national holiday
History is on our side. We will win this struggle.
• In Pompeii, archaeologists find fresco of Narcissus in “extraordinary” condition: I’ve long devoured any book or article about Pompeii, which, along with Herculaneum, was buried mostly intact for 17 centuries by the ash and pumice from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Among one of treasures from the ancient city were a trove of bronze medical tools that I saw in a museum exhibit a couple of decades ago. Many of those tools, with the exception of the metal used to make them, were dead ringers for those we still have today, including specula. But the most fascinating discoveries were the stunning frescoes on the walls of the affluent residents of the city. Many of these are boldly erotic. Despite more than two centuries of excavations that began seriously in the mid 1700s, much remains to be uncovered. Last November, in what had been an opulent home in the final years of the city, archaeologists came upon a fresco of the famous hunter of Greek mythology, Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. The news was just released this week. The New York Times reports: “In the fresco, Narcissus reclines by a pool, his face damaged but looking downward toward the water, where his greenish reflection stares back. A winged figure who may be Eros, the Greek god of love, stands nearby, as does a dog — tugging in vain at Narcissus’ garment, unable to pull him away.”
Altogether, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is initially targeting 33 GOP-held seats, for 2020. Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., has declared that “2018 was just the tip of the iceberg for Democrats,” adding, “We have a clear path to expanding our Democratic majority, and by putting our plans in motion earlier in the cycle than ever before, we are demonstrating to Democrats across the country that the political arm of House Democrats is operating in high gear from the start.”
What’s more, the DCCC pointed out, 20 of the 33 seats it's targeting "are held by an incumbent Republican who has never served in the minority before,” making them especially likely to retire and create a more winnable open-seat race.
• Vice’s Motherboard reporters find that a company’s predictive policing software ain’t all that predictive: The investigators found that PredPol software is being used by local police in Kansas, Washington, South Carolina, California, Georgia, Utah, and Michigan. In a 2014 presentation to police departments the reporters obtained, the company says its software is “based on nearly seven years of detailed academic research into the causes of crime pattern formation … the mathematics looks complicated—and it is complicated for normal mortal humans—but the behaviors upon which the math is based are very understandable.” But experts in the field that the investigative team spoke to say that the mathematical theory powering PredPol is flawed, and that its algorithm—at least as pitched to police—is far too simplistic to actually predict crime.LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE
Paul Manafort, the former chair of Donald Trump's campaign and now convicted felon, is poised to spend the rest of his life in jail, exactly as a federal judge originally predicted last year. Manafort, 69, had a shot at escaping that fate if he had remained faithful to his cooperating agreement with the special counsel's office conducting the Russia probe. But telling the truth was just a little too much to ask of, well, anyone with deep ties to Trump, which means Manafort's most realistic chance of not dying in jail rests in the hope of a presidential pardon.
The federal judge in the Manafort case found the special counsel's office had proven three of its five claims against the defendant and that, indeed, he had "intentionally" lied to federal prosecutors. The most intriguing of those lies were about Manafort's meetings both during and after the campaign with Russian-Ukrainian Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the special counsel has tied to Russian intelligence.
All of this makes Manafort an extraordinarily gifted liar. After being convicted of both bank and tax fraud, and pleading guilty to money laundering and attempted witnesses tampering, Manafort just went right ahead and lied to federal prosecutors about his contacts with a Russian spy. Impressive! No wonder special counsel Robert Mueller deemed a prison sentence of some 20-plus years appropriate.
But once again, we are left to wonder, why? What exactly was so important about his contacts with Kilimnik—indeed, so damning—that Manafort concluded it was better to lie to agents of the U.S. government and risk taking his last breath from the confines of a jail cell than to tell the truth.
It's a conundrum reminiscent of the head-scratching lies Michael Flynn told FBI agents all the way back in early 2017 when he was still Trump's national security adviser. Why—when Flynn was well aware the FBI likely knew about his phone calls with Russian Ambassador Surgey Kislyak—did he proceed to lie to them anyway? What exactly was the calculation that went through his head when the FBI officials interviewing him were telegraphing that they totally knew about his Kislyak calls?
I’d like to propose a project. It involves sending something into space, but it’s simple enough. It doesn’t need any high power instruments, or any real support infrastructure on Earth.
The goal of this project would be to land on the Moon a bit of text, carved into some material that would survive the next billion years of so of cosmic rays and micrometeorite buffeting. A single page with a simple message:
On the adjoining world, life appeared more than four billion years before this plaque was created. And for many millions of years, it thrived in astounding diversity.
At the end of that time, a species appeared which was intelligent enough to manipulate its environment. It replaced forests with fields to grow the foods that it liked best. It removed animals from its surroundings and replaced them those it could easily kill and eat. It built its homes everywhere and spread in incredible numbers, until that species and the ones that it maintained for food made up all but a tiny fraction of complex life on the planet.
Eventually, that species made such an impact that it altered the very chemistry of the air and water around it. The atmosphere became warmer. The seas more acid. Caught between the surging billions and the drastic changes to the environment, other life on the planet began to die away by first dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally millions of species. Even the smallest things, tiny creatures that had once swarmed everywhere, faded away.
The time from when it first began to seriously manipulate its environment, to when this species brought its world to the brink was amazingly short—only a few hundred turnings of the planet around its star. There was no way for any other species to survive this sudden, unprecedented onslaught. No other species in life’s long history had such capacity to cause rapid change.
And then ...
And that’s how the plaque should end. And then. But not just those words; there should also be room for a few paragraphs more. Room for someone to stand there in decades or centuries yet to come and write the happy outcome. Room to record how humankind pulled back from the brink. How it recognized the real crisis at last. How it rebuilt, restored, renewed. How it saved its one precious home and became a worthy citizen of that world, and of others.
Room for that … or silence.
Ocasio-Cortez on lobbyists paying for seats in committee hearings: 'Shock doesn't begin to cover it'
Political newcomers arriving in Washington only to be shocked by the extent to which lobbyists have inserted themselves in every crevice of the woodwork seems to be a semi-regular story. It repeats itself with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's first encounter with the lines of semi-professional line standers paid to wait outside hearing rooms so that high-paid lobbyists can secure premium spots in the audience without having to themselves wait up to 24 hours in the outside hallway. From her tweet:
Today I left a hearing on homelessness & saw tons of people camped outside committee. I turned to my staff and asked if it was a demonstration. “No,” they said. “Lobbyists pay the homeless + others to hold their place so they can get in 1st.”
Ocasio-Cortez's staff is a bit inaccurate in suggesting line-standers are mostly homeless. Some are and some aren't, but it's become a more orchestrated, managed affair than it was when individual lobbyists would scrounge someone up to hold their spot so that they could continue to work congressional offices instead of being hallway-bound for hours at a time. The Washington Post has a rundown of the history of line-standers, noting that the current rate is about $48 per hour—but no word of how much of that goes to the human placeholders, and how much goes to the, sigh, dispatching company.
As for the larger question of why such a weird thing is done: Again, it is all about access and influence. Audience members in a congressional hearing have no role in committee process, and (short of outbursts) no influence on the proceedings. Lobbyists whose careers are dedicated to being as influential with lawmakers as possible want to be seen, by those they are lobbying, in the audience. They find it important to remind lawmakers that they are there, during deliberations. That they are listening.
Which is not at all creepy or dystopian, of course. Not a bit.
Over at Media Matters, senior fellow Matt Gertz has become one of the nation's best decipherers of Donald J. Trump's Twitter feed. Specifically, Gertz has been tracking Trump's seemingly obsessive habit of tweeting out things that he has just seen on Fox News, often odd non sequiturs that bear no clear relationship to policy debates or the news cycle but that pair up precisely to a specific segment on Hannity or Fox & Friends.
It's not a minor enterprise. Trump is an obsessive television watcher, reportedly spending over half his day in "executive time" sessions that seem to consist largely of sitting himself down in front of the idiot box and phoning up friends to praise or complain about the coverage he's receiving. In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review's Anna Altman, Gertz makes some important points about the implications of having a president whose policies and core talking points can be reliably influenced, if not dominated, by a bare handful of television programs. “I think what we’re seeing is how the president can be influenced in real time—and the consequences that can have,” Gertz said.
It's important to understand that this is not speculation. Fox hosts themselves know that they have Donald Trump's ear, and programming is targeted at influencing his beliefs and suspicions directly. Fox programs contain constant, lavish praise of Trump, securing his attention in a media landscape in which every other news program is painting him in a less flattering light; this is interspersed with, in the cases of hosts like Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, direct messages to Trump about what he ought to be doing next and how grandly it will work out for him.
The sitting president is a child, and one who can be and is torn away from the recommendations of his own advisers, the intelligence community, government experts, and fellow Republican officials with little more than a single misleading chart or quotable phrase. The ease with which government policy can be manipulated by the orchestrations of a single television studio is the stuff of dystopian fiction; it ought to be considered, by itself, a crisis.
In the movies, super villains always pause in the middle of their evil schemes to give a detailed account of why and how they’re out to end, ruin, or run the world. On Friday, life followed art—only life has much poorer writing than even the worst comic book film.
Donald Trump shambled onto the steps above the Rose Garden Friday morning, appropriately enough backed by nothing, to talk about China, the stock market, his close friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, women with duct tape on their mouths, and just incidentally, how he was going to misuse the National Emergency Act to steal $8 billion in taxpayer dollars for a vanity project. And, while he tried to bury his scheme in an incredible stream of incoherent babble, it still didn’t stop him from admitting that his abuse of power was fundamentally to no end.
“I didn’t need to do this.”
What’s that? Why is there an emergency being declared if even Lex Luthor’s much dumber brother doesn’t think it’s an emergency?
“The only reason why we're up here talking about this is because of the election.”
That’s good clarity. Trump also let it be known that running off with the money that’s supposed to provide homes, schools, and hospital beds for military families was no big deal. No big deal at all.
“It didn’t sound too important to me.”
It was, all an all, probably the most bizarre speech that has ever been delivered within a mile of the White House — and that includes some pretty colorful statements from the far side of the gates. But there was one last bit of truth in Trump’s monologuing
“And then we will be sued.”
Ding. Ding. Ding. Oh, yes, you will.
National fake emergency is for Trump’s base and Trump’s base alone. I sound like a broken record on this “Trump’s base, so what? Not enough to win with” stuff, but there’s reason.x
Trump's 'base-only' strategy can't win him MI, PA, WI again. D's now equally (or more) energized. Key swing demo in 2020 are the "ambivalent" voters who hated both Trump & Clinton in 2016.https://t.co/RP2sHXLG2O— amy walter (@amyewalter) February 15, 2019
Nate Silver/FiveThirtyEight (from 11/18):
Trump’s Base Isn’t Enough
This year’s results do serve as a warning to Trump in one important sense, however: His base alone will not be enough to win a second term. Throughout the stretch run of the 2018 midterm campaign, Trump and Republicans highlighted highly charged partisan issues, from the Central American migrant caravan to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. And Republican voters did indeed turn out in very high numbers: GOP candidates for the House received more than 50 million votes, more than the roughly 45 million they got in 2010.
But it wasn’t enough, or even close to enough. Problem No. 1 is that Republicans lost among swing voters: Independent voters went for Democrats by a 12-point margin, and voters who voted for a third-party candidate in 2016 went to Democrats by 13 points.
Trump and Republicans also have Problem No. 2, however: Their base is smaller than the Democratic one. This isn’t quite as much of a disadvantage as it might seem; the Democratic base is less cohesive and therefore harder to govern. Democratic voters are sometimes less likely to turn out, although that wasn’t a problem this year. And because Republican voters are concentrated in rural, agrarian states, the GOP has a big advantage in the Senate.
And see this one, too, from last month:
Rachel Bitecofer/NY Times:
Why Trump Will Lose in 2020
The president is running hard on a strategy of riling up his base. But by doing that, he riles up the Democratic base, too, and that one is bigger.
All of this was validated in 2018. That’s why Nancy Pelosi is speaker.
Here are a few excerpts from the latest Harper’s Index:
Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups
- Number of congressional districts that border Mexico: 9
- Number that are represented by a Republican: 1
- Votes by which that district’s congressman won reelection in November: 926
- Ratio of the number of Democratic House seats held by women in 1989 to the number held today: 16:89
- Of the number of Republican House seats: 1:1
- Percentage of Americans who did not vote in the midterm elections who say they wish they had: 61
- Percentage of the global population who say they would move to a different country if given the opportunity: 15
- Percentage of Americans who say they would: 16
- Chances an American has held off seeking health-care treatment in the past year because of costs: 3 in 10
- Percentage change in the number of annual complaints filed to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since 2016: +34
- In the number of publicly announced enforcement actions by the CFPB: –74
- Percentage decline since 2010 in the number of IRS auditors: 35
- Year in which the IRS last had so few auditors: 1953
- Percentage of US police departments since 2014 that have reported relaxing hiring standards for prior drug use: 54
- Percentage of US parents under 50 who say it’s unlikely they will have more children: 71
TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES
“The American People will take Socialism, but they won’t take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to ‘End Poverty in California’ I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them.” ~~Upton Sinclair in 1951 letter to Norman M. Thomas
All Americans who respect the Constitution, get ready for the big, big fight! Trump declares FAKE emergency, stealing previously appropriated funds from DOD, Mil. Con., & Treasury. Let's go, join me! People power can stop him!— Maxine Waters (@RepMaxineWaters) February 15, 2019
On this date at Daily Kos in 2012—The death of the Republican dog whistle:
In the idealized version of the GOP primary, establishment Republicans would curry favor with their Wall Street pals while sending coded dog whistles to their foot soldiers—on race, immigration, reproductive freedoms, etc. Those dog whistles would motivate the GOP base without revealing their true radical nature to the American mainstream. It was a genius system while it worked, one that saw no parallel on the progressive side.
But the days of the dog whistle are over. The election of President Barack Obama created an entire cottage industry trying to prove how un-American and Kenyan he supposedly is, while Republicans like Rep. Pete Hoekstra run blatantly anti-Asian ads. Republicans laugh about electrocuting immigrants who will cut off your head in the desert if they're not stopped, while passing laws openly hostile to brown people. Attacks on homosexuals have escalated to new hysterical highs as society becomes more tolerant and open to equality.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Hey, kids! Stay in school! Or don't. Whatever. YouTubers are making a mint chewing food on camera. A real Harvard law prof has declared the Constitution unconstitutional. And Armando joins us in witnessing the "national emergency" trainwreck.x Embedded Content LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE
Mueller's office says the law indicates Paul Manafort, 69, deserves a sentence of 19.5 to 24.5 years
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office said in a memo Friday night that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort deserves 19.5 years to 24.5 years in prison for his conviction for eight financial crimes. It also noted that calculations under penalty guidelines suggest a fine range of $50,000 to $24,371,497.74, a term of supervised release of up to five years, restitution in the amount of $24,815,108.74, and forfeiture in the amount of $4,412,500.
You can read the entire 120-page sentencing memo at this link:
Manafort was the lead perpetrator and a direct beneficiary of each offense. And while some of these offenses are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about the millions of dollars involved in the defendant’s crimes, the duration of his criminal conduct, or the sophistication of his schemes.
His criminal decisions were not momentary or limited in time; they were routine. And Manafort’s repeated misrepresentations to financial institutions were brazen, at least some of which were made at a time when he was the subject of significant national attention. Neither the Probation Department nor the government is aware of any mitigating factors. Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship. He was well educated, professionally successful, and financially well off. He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources. Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when his overseas income dwindled.
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…
In Case You Missed It
There were some microphone issues last week during the State of the Union. For the sake of a more reliable transcript, here’s the actual audio. The House recorder regrets the inconvenience:x x YouTube Video
Oh, and this little nugget posted two years ago today is worth a moment of reflection:x
Sentencing of the Trump crime family traitor on the left: March 13th. Sentencing of the Trump crime family traitor on the right: TBA. Won’t it be a kick chanting “Lock them up” as they’re actually getting locked up. Hillary, meanwhile, continues to roam the forests and glens, unfettered and fancy free, as one of the most admired women on the face of the earth 4evuh.
Your west-coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold...[Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
I don't care for this Mitch McConnell fella. No siree.
On Friday, Daily Kos delivered 120,000 of your signatures to the Democratic National Committee, urging it to abandon the ludicrous notion of rewarding Fox News with a Democratic presidential primary debate.
As Eric Boehlert pointed out, this is a terrible idea for countless (and obvious!) reasons. For example, “Can you imagine being Seth Rich's mother and father, knowing that Fox News dragged your son's name through the mud and toyed with his death for attempted partisan gain—your son who worked for the DNC!—and then watching Fox News being given the honor and privilege of hosting a DNC debate?”
This really should be a no-brainer. DNC Chair Tom Perez should’ve never told Fox host Brett Baier that “Absolutely we’re having discussions with Fox” about having a debate. (Baier was ecstatic, responding, “Happy to hear that.”) And once over a hundred thousand Democrats mobilized against the idea, there would have been no harm in the party saying, “Good point, and don’t worry, there are plenty of credible news outlets available to host debates. Fox won’t be one of them.”
Instead, it refuses to make any such commitment. I sent DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa a series of questions about the Fox debate, and in response, she sent this bullshit of horseshit:
[DNC] CEO Seema Nanda received the petition and thanked the activists. We are talking to cable and broadcast networks, as well as a whole host of outlets, including digital outlets. A number of media outlets have submitted proposals, and we're reviewing these proposals.
As you can see, nothing in that statement precludes the possibility of Fox News hosting a debate. I followed up with a simple yes/no question: “So to be extra clear, the DNC is still considering letting Fox News host a debate, further validating them and their anti-Democratic agenda?” I got crickets as a response.
So the battle continues. And what a stupid battle! Rather than do the right thing, Tom Perez has decided they’d rather create unnecessary internal conflict in order to protect Fox News. It’s so ridiculous it boggles the mind!
If you haven’t already, sign the petition. This matter will certainly escalate, as we fight to keep our party from shooting itself in the foot.
● Electoral College: After gaining unified control of state government in 2018, Democrats in Colorado and New Mexico are quickly moving to pass laws that would bring their states' 14 Electoral College votes into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This agreement would have every member state give its electoral votes (EVs) to the national popular vote winner if enough states with a majority of EVs—270 in total—sign up. Once that threshold is reached, all presidential candidates would have to compete to win the national popular vote rather than the Electoral College vote, effectively ending the Electoral College without needing to amend the Constitution.Campaign Action
As shown on the map at the top of this post (see here for a larger version, or see here for a regular state map), we'll explore how Democrats could get enough states to join the compact so that it would take effect for the 2024 presidential election, if all goes according to plan. With Republican legislators voting in lockstep against the proposal, Democrats must rely on states where they have full control of government to join the compact. GOP gerrymandering helped prevent Democrats from taking legislative majorities in a handful of key states last year, and it likewise precludes the compact from reaching a majority in time for 2020.
However, there are already several states where Democrats are in charge that could vote to join the compact right away. That includes:
- Colorado — 9 EVs
- Delaware — 3 EVs
- Maine — 4 EVs
- Nevada — 6 EVs
- New Mexico — 5 EVs
- Oregon — 7 EVs
That’s a total of 34 EVs, so if all these states were to join, the compact would grow from 172 to 206 EVs. The next battle would be in Virginia, which will elect every member of its legislature this November. Democrats need to flip just a single state Senate seat and two state House seats to win unified control of government, meaning they could add Virginia's 13 EVs to the compact to give it 219 EVs. That’s still well shy of the 270 EVs needed, but depending on the results of state-level elections over the next few cycles, 2024 could be within reach.
Due to overcrowding in detention facilities elsewhere, immigration officials are jailing a significant number of vulnerable asylum-seekers in a private prison run by CoreCivic, a company that has had such a long history of abuses that it changed its name as part of a PR makeover. But this Mississippi prison is so secretive that it’s unknown exactly how many Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees are even there. “Congress required ICE in 2018 to publish basic information about the jails and detention centers it uses,” Mother Jones reports, “but the agency has kept Tallahatchie off that list.”
Since Mississippi does not have a history of immigration detention, access to legal counsel at Tallahatchie is severely limited; the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s website lists no immigration attorneys within 50 miles of the prison. Lawyers who have worked at the facility say there are not enough Spanish-speaking staff members at the prison, let alone those who speak the native languages of asylum-seekers from Africa and South Asia.
A Southern Poverty Law Center attorney said that “if someone wanted to build a jail where asylum-seekers lose otherwise winnable cases because of lack of access to the outside world, that jail would probably look a lot like Tallahatchie does now.” Last year, the group sued the private-prison profiteers running Tallahatchie, accusing CoreCivic of forcing immigrants jailed in Georgia “to work for as little as $1 a day to clean, cook, and maintain the detention center in a scheme to maximize profits.” Conditions at Tallahatchie are also dire.
Last weekend, a Wyoming man detained at Tallahatchie died by apparent suicide. One month ago, a Cameroonian immigrant who tried to hang himself with a bedsheet was saved by a fellow detainee, who was a paramedic in Nicaragua. Isaac Molina had fled after being shot by police, after he had assisted demonstrators who were injured in an anti-government political protest. Once he arrived in the U.S., Molina passed his initial asylum interview. He has U.S. family he can be released to, but ICE continues to keep him detained. “As soon as I left my country, I knew I wasn’t going back,” he said. “Maybe when my papers are in completely in order, I can go back to having a normal life. That’s what I want the most: to have a normal life.”