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Open thread for night owls: Earth Day lessons

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 23:00

Umair Irfan at Vox writes—7 things we’ve learned about Earth since the last Earth Day:

1) Kids today face a truly frightening climate future — and they’re mad as hell at adults for neglecting the problem

Many people under the age of 18 right now may be around to see the end of the century. And a growing number of them are not pleased with the climate they’re inheriting. Our current trajectory puts the planet on course to warm by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, creating a world that will be devastated by disasters, droughts, disease, and food shortages.

In March of this year, students in more than 120 countries went on strike from school to demand action on climate change. These climate strikes are part of a youth-led climate activism movement, with another global strike planned for May 24. Here’s Irene Kananura of Kampala, Uganda who was striking this past Friday in the heat:


Organize-Fish-eating-fish_NoTEXT_BlueRed.jpg Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups



“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”  ~~Sun Tzu, The Art of War (scholars differ, but probably 500-400 BC)




On this date at Daily Kos in 2011Idaho Gov. Butch Otter signs budget suicide order:

The crazy spreads. If an executive order from Republican Gov. Butch Otter forbidding state agencies in Idaho from accepting federal funds to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passes constitutional muster, the state would have to opt out of Medicaid in 2014. More than 220,000 of Idaho's citizens depend on Medicaid. Unless the governor and GOP-dominated Legislature choose to drop these folks off where the grizzly bears roam, they will have to come up with the money to treat them.

That amounts to around $1 billion a year, 40 percent of the state's entire annual budget. One way to pay for it? Cut public school funding by 85 percent. Given their hatred for public education, maybe that approach would suit Idaho's elected Republicans just fine.

Saying he opposes "the overreaching nature of the PPACA and its infringements on Idahoans and the authority of the States under the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution," the governor stated in his order that "no executive branch department, agency, institution or employee of the state shall establish or amend any program or promulgate any rule to implement any provisions of the PPACA" without his consent. The Tenth Amendment is a favorite of right-wingers eager to nullify federal initiatives and take back the state sovereignty they believe has been dwindling ever since the presidency of...uh...Abraham Lincoln.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Seth Moulton is running for president, everybody! Greg Dworkin joined in a full 2 hour show on that exciting news, with a brief 119 minute detour into consideration of the censure, impeachment, and/or defeat of the current president. x Embedded Content

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Categories: Politics

Cartoon: Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 17:50

Consider supporting my cartoons on my Patreon Page so I can continue creating them. 

Categories: Politics

Republican bills supposed to be protecting people with pre-existing conditions don't do that—at all

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 17:46

There's a lot of ass-covering in the latest Republican plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but not necessarily a whole lot of actual covering of those people. The plans from Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon aren't what they claim to be: affordable coverage for people who need it most.

The 2019 plans have done away with the most glaring problem they included in 2018. While insurers couldn't deny plans to people with pre-existing conditions, they could refuse to cover the treatment of those conditions. That glaring hole has been closed, but the plans still fall far, far short of the comprehensive Affordable Care Act provisions. For example, they don't include benefits that must be provided, as the ACA does with essential health benefits like maternity or mental health care, or prescription drugs. By leaving out these benefits or making policies that do allow them to be prohibitively expensive, insurers could de facto deny that care while still complying with the law.

The Republican bills also don't ban insurers from charging more for women than men (the "pro-life" party is fine with adding even more of a financial burden to their forced birth plans). They would also not ban insurance companies from putting caps on how much they pay out in either annual or lifetime benefits. That means someone with a serious illness or accident could blow through their allowed coverage in a matter of months, and be left hanging to pay for care on their own. Both bills have provisions "prohibiting discrimination" based on a person's health status for either eligibility for coverage or for premium costs, but an expert in writing legislation—a former lawyer in the House Office of the Legislative Counsel, the staff that helps write legislation—says that there are other provisions in these two bills that "could be read as undermining those protections against discriminatory premiums." For example, the legislation says insurers can't charge one individual more than another "on the basis of any health status-related factor," but it is qualified by language saying that this provision shall not be interpreted as restricting how much an employer or individual could be charged. That's known as a loophole.

Categories: Politics

Judiciary Chair subpoenas ex-White House counsel Don McGahn, who painted damning portrait of Trump

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 17:41

House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler subpoenaed Donald Trump's former White House counsel, Don McGahn, on Monday to both turn over documents and testify publicly before the committee.

Nadler has given McGahn a deadline of May 7 to produce the requested documents and set May 21 for a hearing date, following testimony from Attorney General William Barr on May 2. McGahn is central to some of the Mueller report's most vivid descriptions of Trump's efforts to halt the Russia probe. In particular, McGahn testified under oath that Trump had told him to fire Mueller, which McGahn described as some "crazy shit" at the time.

In his statement, Nadler said that Mueller's report, even in redacted form, revealed "substantial evidence" that Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses of power.

"Congress has a constitutional obligation to hold the President accountable," Nadler wrote, "and the planned hearings will be an important part of that process." 


Categories: Politics

Game of Thrones 8.2 'A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms'

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 17:41

All problems in Game of Thrones can be boiled down to one simple point: Lyanna Stark makes people stupid. And by people, I mean men. Not only did Robert Baratheon launch a kingdom-ripping rebellion over her, but even decades after her death, simply standing in front of Lyanna’s statue is still the go-to place for people to make very poor political decisions. And by people, I mean Jon Snow.

This week’s outing in Game of Thrones was all about the calm before the storm. We know the Night King and his endless supply of ice zombies is coming. Everyone in Winterfell knows they’re coming. And quite early in the episode, the timeline for coming Battle of Winterfell is set—everyone, and everything, stands a very good chance of being dead before the dawn.

That gives every character a chance to take the stage for a moment and have one—possibly—last chance to show us who they have become over the course of seven plus seasons. Some of these are spot on: Tormund Giantsbane gets to tell a tall tale about the origin of his name, and to leer appreciatively at Brienne. Jaime and Tyrion get to admit to each other that their days of wanton incest and carefree debauchery, respectively, are behind them. And in what might be the most touching moment of an episode chockablock with tender glances and rueful last statements, Brienne of Tarth kneels on the cold stones of Winterfell and is made a knight of the seven kingdoms by the man who knows all about losing … and regaining … the honor that knighthood is supposed to embody.

Oh, and Arya has sex. Which is a perfectly acceptable response to impending doom, and a much better option than setting around with a morose Sandor Clegane and a preachy Beric Dondarrion, both of whom are former members of Arya’s bedtime Kill List. However, let us say thanks that the producers of Game of Thrones for once restricted themselves to shots of Arya’s scarred back … because for those of us who have just finished rewatching the whole series, a girl is perpetually twelve.

Despite all these moments ranging from sex to introspection to drunkeness to drunken introspective sex, the episode sometimes falls flat when it comes to making the audience feel the impending doom coming closer by the moment. Soldiers have long had the saying that their job is long stretches of boredom interrupted by rare moments of sheer terror, but even knowing that one of those rarities is right ahead doesn’t make the boredom a whole lot more interesting.

However, there are a number of instances in the episode whose impact will surely echo even after the local scramble against the deadites is done. Assuming, as the increasingly slappable Bran puts in doubt, there is an after.

Categories: Politics

McConnell ready to 'move on' from high crimes and misdemeanors he sought to impeach Clinton for

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 17:19

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s mastery of hypocrisy was on full display Monday when he was asked about impeachment during a stop in his home state of Owensboro, Kentucky.

“Well, look, I think it’s time to move on. This investigation was about collusion, there’s no collusion, no charges brought against the president on anything else, and I think the American people have had quite enough of it,” McConnell responded.

Actually, Mitch, the probe wasn’t about collusion: it was about conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Also, Mitch, a quick skim of the report reveals plenty of collusion did occur, even though special counsel Robert Mueller concluded it didn’t rise to the level of a provable criminal conspiracy. As for the obstruction of justice piece McConnell so conveniently ignored, that’s something he used to find pretty compelling ... back when Bill Clinton was president.  

“I am completely and utterly perplexed by those who argue that perjury and obstruction of justice are not high crimes and misdemeanors,” McConnell said from the Senate floor on February 12, 1999.

Perplexed is right. Republicans, rather than grappling with Trump’s lawless effort to obstruct justice, are hoping the public will simply forget about Volume II of Mueller’s report, the least redacted and most vivid and arresting portion of the document. In fact, McConnell was a happy enabler of Trump’s obstructive efforts. Remember all those times he was asked whether he was worried about Trump potentially firing Mueller, and McConnell assured us there was no reason to suspect Trump would do that? Now we know that McConnell was either gleefully lying or dancing the jig of studied ignorance.

Either way, McConnell has made a habit of being wrong about Trump/Russia. He was woefully wrong about preventing then-President Obama from more ardently warning the public of Russian interference, he was woefully wrong about Trump not trying to interfere with Mueller’s investigation, and now he’s woefully wrong about moving quickly past Trump’s lawlessness. 

And it’s pretty interesting how eager McConnell is to move along now, as he was pretty adamant about dwelling on similar issues when a Democrat was president. 

Categories: Politics

Supreme Court to decide on Census citizenship question after lower court ruled Trump team lied

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 16:56

On Tuesday the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case contesting the Trump administration's push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 national census. This is itself alarming: the constitutional intent of the census, the repeated dire warnings by career census staff, and the flagrant manner in which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied outright about his actions would seem to make the case clear-cut. The Supreme Court will essentially be deciding whether or not all of that evidence should be tossed in favor of the alternative Trump administration hypothesis: We can do what we want, so shut up.

The core of the argument centers around Team Trump's behavior in pushing for the new citizenship question. A lower court blasted Ross for purposefully lying when he claimed that the Justice Department requested that the question be added; it was actually Ross who went to the Justice Department fishing for a pretext to add it. And it matters because census experts are uniform in their warnings that including the question will suppress the response rates of minority, and especially Latino, census respondents. There is a perception that the responses to that question would be shared, despite current prohibitions against doing so, with law enforcement in an effort to target undocumented U.S. residents for deportation. That means counties with larger populations of undocumented residents could see their "official" census-set populations significantly undercounted; that, in turn, means reduced federal spending to those counties. The number of people actually living there doesn't change, but the funding—and even more critically, representation in the House of Representatives—does.

And that potential undercount, according to researchers, could be "huge."

Nationally, only 35 percent of immigrants and 31 percent of Latinos trusted the Trump administration to protect this information and not share it with other federal agencies — an issue that has already arisen in debates about the citizenship question. Trust in the Trump administration was even lower in California and San Jose.

It seems fairly clear from Ross’ misdirections that this selective—but potentially severe—undercounting was the whole point on the part of the virulently anti-immigrant administration.

Categories: Politics

High school journalists pen viral editorial after being turned away from Betsy DeVos event

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 15:54

If you’ve ever worried about the youth of this country not being engaged in politics enough, this story will offer some relief. High school students from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky, tried to attend a discussion between Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Republican governor Matt Bevin, with the goal of covering it for their school paper. This should be a wonderful opportunity for the students, right?

Wrong. The students weren’t allowed in. As they report in their editorial, a man told them they weren’t allowed inside because they didn’t RSVP. Not to be deterred, they wrote an editorial called “No Seat at the Roundtable” instead. Surprising no one, it (rightfully) slams DeVos. 

Notably, the event was a roundtable discussion held at a local community college. It was described as an open press event, but as reported by the Washington Post, the students were turned away because they hadn’t received an invitation, and hadn’t RSVPed. Mind you, they’re students who are trying to be politically engaged, so perhaps the typical “rules” of a press event shouldn’t apply to them. Because, again, they’re teenagers.

In their editorial, the students don’t shy away from calling out how ridiculous the situation was. "We expected the event to be intense," they wrote."We expected there to be a lot of information to cover. But not being able to exercise our rights under the First Amendment was something we never thought would happen. We weren't prepared for that. … How odd is it that even though future generations of students' experiences could be based on what was discussed, that we, actual students, were turned away?"

They also called out the eye-rolling-inducing rules about the RSVP. “Not that we’re happy about it,” they wrote, “but we understand why a student news organization wouldn’t have been considered important enough to receive a copy of the media press release. Why, after our explanation that we were not given the press release asking for an RSVP, weren’t we allowed to enter as students and stakeholders?" 

Categories: Politics

McConnell declares himself the 'Grim Reaper' standing between us and any hope of progress

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 15:39

The 2020 campaign is going to be all fear, all the time if Mitch McConnell has anything to say about it. And since he's Senate majority leader and the second most powerful Republican in the country, he will.

All the positive stuff Democrats are running on? Forget it, he says. It's all socialism, "pervasive" in the entire Democratic field. "I don't want you to think this is a couple of nutcases running around the fringe." What's more, if he's re-elected majority leader, "Think of me as the Grim Reaper. None of that is going to pass."

No where is that more true than with any kind of improvement to the Affordable Care Act or, heaven forfend, Medicare for all. If he had his way, he'd be getting rid of all of it. Grim reaper, indeed. The death of all of us, the poor ones and the sick ones and the old ones and pretty much anyone without a trust fund or rich parents, anyway. The Green New Deal? He'll kill it and the planet along with it. Because no one trying to help the country and the world make it to the 22nd century is going to be contributing to McConnell's coffers.

This, by the way, is why Democrats have to be ready to get rid of the filibuster when they retake the majority, unless by some miracle either McConnell loses or Democrats gain 20 seats in 2020. McConnell and team will tear the entire country down before allowing it to progress into this century.

Let's do our part to help by beefing up our nominee fund. Please give $1 to help Democrats in each of these crucial Senate races!

Categories: Politics

Stephen Miller once interrupted some downtime in Paris to advocate for an immigrant's deportation

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 15:37

Stephen Miller’s obsession with immigrants is so deep-seated that during an official visit to France last year, the White House aide apparently interrupted some downtime along the Seine to take a phone call in which he “spent several minutes loudly pressing administration officials on the other end of the line to deport an individual who had been detained by immigration authorities,” Politico reports. 

That any 30-something White House aide is ordering around federal immigration officials or directing officials on how to decide individual immigration cases seems out of bounds, but this is the Trump administration we’re talking about, and, in particular, Stephen Miller, who has reportedly been a hateful asshole even as far back as his teen years, when he disowned a friend just for being Latino.

Now that this ghoul has the power to make the lives of many more brown people miserable, he’s been busy doing just that, reportedly calling “administration officials at all levels” to pressure them “about changes to immigration rules and regulations, and [demand] stepped-up enforcement.” In private meetings, unnamed officials say, Miller rants about “immigrant criminals” and other garbage, while effectively firing top administration officials he feels weren’t being shitty enough to immigrants. 

It’s disturbing that anyone would ever think that a government that has carried out state-sanctioned kidnapping at its southern border, for example, isn’t cruel enough, but that’s who and what he is. Once again, he’s obsessed. “It’s not an overstatement to say Stephen Miller wakes up every morning thinking about illegal immigration,” another unnamed source told Politico, “and goes to sleep thinking about it as well.”

What a comment, considering Miller appears to have no problem with his boss’ businesses abusing undocumented workers. Told about the Politico piece, one of these former workers, Sandra Diaz, said that “when Stephen Miller goes to sleep at Trump properties, like Bedminster, he is sleeping in a bed made by undocumented immigrants. When he wakes up, he is fed by them. The same is true for the Trump family. They rely on our labor even as they attack us and our communities. What a bunch of hypocrites. Cruel, demeaning hypocrites.”

Cruel, demeaning hypocrites that should be held accountable. Last week, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, invited Miller to testify in front of lawmakers. The chair acknowledged that getting White House advisers to testify before congressional committees isn’t all that common. But Miller’s acting like a department head, so he should be treated like one. Drag him in.

Categories: Politics

Midday open thread: Recaps, Earth Day, and Herman Cain is out

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 15:10
Cartoon by Tom Tomorrow
  • What you missed on Sunday Kos …
  • Unqualified boob has announcement about another unqualified boob:

Ms. Doud-Martin works for U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where she recently led a successful effort to make the school’s Chou Hall the “greenest academic building in the country.”

This year it was certified as TRUE Platinum Zero Waste, meaning the building sends almost nothing to the landfill. Like, ever.

“We encourage a ‘pack in, pack out’ mentality, like going into a forest,” Ms. Doud-Martin told me.

Here And Now: These Maps Show How Climate Change Has Already Transformed The Earth

Our planet is in the grip of rapid climate change. Explore how your city has already changed.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Seth Moulton is running for president, everybody! Greg Dworkin joined in a full 2 hour show on that exciting news, with a brief 119 minute detour into consideration of the censure, impeachment, and/or defeat of the current president. x Embedded Content

RadioPublic|LibSyn|YouTube|Patreon|Square Cash (Share code: Send $5, get $5!)

Categories: Politics

Republican big money proves it: It's the party of Trump

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 14:47

The fact that Donald Trump might very well be a Russian asset, and has definitely tried to obstruct justice (on top of every horrible other thing about him that he hasn't bothered trying to hide) isn't enough to keep big Republican donors away, not anymore. The millionaires and billionaires who bankrolled George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney (but spurned Trump in 2016) are going all-in for Trump 2020.

On May 7, elite big-moneyed Republicans will formally unveil their Trump project at "a closed-door event with Trump 2020 aides," which will undoubtedly be at the Trump D.C. hotel so he can make even more money off of it. Party officials explained to Politico that the plan will be that "high-performing bundlers who collect at least $25,000 for Trump Victory, a joint Trump 2020-Republican National Committee fundraising vehicle, will earn rewards like invitations to campaign-sponsored retreats, briefings and dinners." Probably at Trump properties, where he can make an additional buck off of them. Because Republicans love them some grift.

It gets grosser. "Party officials have been reaching out to top fundraisers in recent weeks and wooing them with the prospect of joining 'raiser clubs,' with names like 45 Club, Trump Train and Builders Club." Like this is all completely normal and Trump isn't burning the whole country down around our ears. Of course, they're still reaping the benefits of his big tax scam, and they're probably all old enough that they don't particularly give a shit that the republic is being destroyed. They're well-insulated from it, and figure their progeny will inherit so much from them, they'll be protected as well.

The Republican Party should just plaster a big gold TRUMP on party headquarters and call it good.

Categories: Politics

Pelosi on impeachment: Republicans have 'unlimited appetite' for Trump's 'low standards'

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 14:28

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues Monday urging a pragmatic approach to impeachment, along with a blistering acknowledgment that Democrats are on their own in terms of holding Donald Trump to account for the conduct revealed in the redacted Russia report.

At a minimum, Trump had engaged in "highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior," Pelosi charged, adding that "Congressional Republicans have an unlimited appetite for such low standards." 

At the same time, Pelosi said Democrats "firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth." That endeavor could be accomplished, she noted, "outside of impeachment hearings." While Pelosi acknowledged a split in approaches among Democratic lawmakers between those who prefer to continue investigating Robert Mueller's findings and those who would move directly to impeachment proceedings, she remained focused on the public's perception of Democrats' actions in the days and weeks to come.

"As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on presentation of fact." Key to that approach is Democrats' ongoing effort to gain access to Mueller's full report, including a bicameral letter from Democratic leaders rejecting Attorney General William Barr's desire make more of the the report available to only a small number of lawmakers.

"We insist on the public's right to know," Pelosi wrote, "so that the American people can learn the truth and Congress can make our decision on how to proceed." 

Pelosi is clearly betting that a full public airing of Mueller’s report will bring most Americans closer to the view that Trump is not only dangerously unfit for office, but should be held accountable for his actions by someone. But as Democrats proceed, Pelosi will continue to remind the public that her caucus is duty-bound to act, precisely because Republicans don't have the moral fiber to do so.


Categories: Politics

'No women anything': Trump's Federal Reserve nominee really, really hates idea of women in sports

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 14:09

Stephen Moore, Donald Trump’s controversial Federal Reserve nominee, spent the early 2000s writing noxious sexist commentary that will only make him more controversial … and will probably thrill Donald Trump. Moore took shots at his own wife for voting Democratic, but his major issue was with women in—or anywhere near—sports.

Moore responded to the news of a woman refereeing an NCAA men’s game by writing that “The NCAA has been touting this as example of how progressive they are. I see it as an obscenity. Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women? What's next? Women invited to bachelor parties? Women in combat? (Oh yeah, they've done that already.) Why can't women ref the women's games and men the men's games. I can't wait to see the first lady ref have a run in with Bobby Knight.” 

Here’s some news for Moore: Any woman who makes it to be the first refereeing in a given level of men’s sports has already encountered plenty of bullies, and triumphed despite them.

Moore didn’t stop there, though. In the hectoring tones of the bully who thinks being a dickwagon shows how funny he is, he went on to write “Here's the rule change I propose: No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer venders, no women anything.” Har har har. Oh, but there’s more. “There is, of course, an exception to this rule. Women are permitted to participate, if and only if, they look like Bonnie Bernstein. The fact that Bonnie knows nothing about basketball is entirely irrelevant.” Yes! He totally went to “women should be permitted in the boys club if and only if I personally want to objectify them” territory. He even took it a step further, calling for Bernstein to do her reporting while wearing a halter top.

This is a man who was trying waaaaay too hard, and what he was trying at was showing himself to be a sexist, bullying prick. In short, it was just the thing to really cement Trump’s view that this is someone who should have a major say in the U.S. economy.

Categories: Politics

Deportations of immigrants with no criminal record surge 226% in New York City

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 13:59

Under the Trump administration, the deportation of New York City area immigrants with no criminal record, including vulnerable asylum-seekers, have skyrocketed 226 percent, the New York Times reports. “That is the largest percentage increase of any Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in the country.”

In some cases, unshackled Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have targeted asylum-seekers who have lost their cases—the denial rate was nearly 62 percent in 2017, up from nearly 57 percent in 2016, according to the National Immigration Forum—but were then allowed to stay and work here so long as they continued checking in regularly with the agency.

One man who was targeted by ICE, Indra Sihotang, literally clung to a chair as officials tried to load him onto a flight back to Indonesia, where “the persecution of Christians like him” has “intensified,” the New York Times continued. Like a number of other immigrants, he was arrested during what he assumed was a routine ICE check-in. Immigrant rights advocates have dubbed these sort of arrests “silent raids.”

Following the scene at the airport, neither Sihotang nor ICE were allowed to board the commercial flight. ICE yet again attempted to deport him, and he was sitting in a van on the way to the airport when the agents got a call halting the removal. While Sihotang had lost his asylum case five years ago, “a judge had determined Mr. Sihotang faced credible fears of persecution in Indonesia and reopened his asylum case, which remains unresolved.”

Once again, ICE doesn’t have to carry out these sort of arrests. The Obama administration, for example, attempted to prioritize resources and target people who posed a danger to communities. But those priorities went out the window following Donald Trump’s inauguration. What could also explain the surge of deportations in New York City is that ICE has plainly stated it wants to target people in localities with pro-immigrant policies. The cruelty is the point.

Categories: Politics

Republican states react to 2018 Democratic wave in the usual way—by suppressing the vote

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 13:16

Republicans can only win by cheating, and they're barely even bothering to hide their intentions. Several Republican-led states are responding to big election losses to Democrats in 2018 not by evolving to answer the electorate's wishes, but by shrinking that electorate through voter suppression.

In Texas, they're looking at making a mistake on a voter registration form a felony, with criminal penalties including jail time for voter registration errors or for casting an ineligible ballot. Arizona is trying to make early voting more complicated; Tennessee lawmakers are considering discouraging voter registration groups by creating fines for submitting incomplete forms. These are all states that either saw substantial gains for Democrats in 2018, or have key races in 2020.  In Arizona, in particular, this is a direct result of big Democratic turnout in 2018, and the loss of four statewide seats, including the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kyrsten Sinema. In Texas, two U.S. House seats and 12 state legislative seats flipped. In 2018 in Tennessee, new Democratic registrations and votes surged in Memphis and Nashville.

The second Arizona seat, as well as Sen. John Cornyn's in Texas, are up in 2020. That and the potential—long shot thought it may be—for those states to flip in the presidential election are enough to have Republicans anxious to make sure as many Democrats and new voters as possible are cut out of the process.

In all of the states, lawmakers insist that they wouldn't be going after regular people making mistakes, but only "people who are intentionally cheating," as Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes in Texas says. "This is only going after folks that create chaos intentionally or knowingly," says Tennessee coordinator of elections Mark Goins. And we all know who that means: young people, people of color, the usual "cheating" suspects for Republicans.

The only way Republicans can win—even in states like Arizona and Texas—is not to let the majority of people vote.

Categories: Politics

Stop & Shop strike ends with 'a powerful victory' for 31,000 workers

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 12:47

Stop & Shop workers were back in stores on Monday after their 10-day strike ended with a tentative deal reached on Sunday evening. “Today is a powerful victory for the 31,000 hardworking men and women of Stop & Shop who courageously stood up to fight for what all New Englanders want—good jobs, affordable health care, a better wage, and to be treated right by the company they made a success,” the United Food and Commercial Workers union said in a statement. Local workers told the Boston Globe they were glad to be going back to work.

The workers won increased pay and beat back management’s efforts to drastically increase healthcare costs and cut retirement benefits. Current members will also maintain time-and-a-half on Sundays and holidays. 

The strike was “effective and devastating,” in the words of one analyst, leaving Stop & Shop stores with bare shelves and few customers. The workers were aided by solidarity from Teamsters who refused to cross picket lines with deliveries, and from regular customers. They also drew visits and support from Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey as well as other Democratic presidential candidates or potential candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Categories: Politics

Trump: 'Nobody disobeys my orders.' Oh, yes they do

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 12:36

One piece of texture that Robert Mueller’s redacted report added to the annals of Donald Trump’s ignominious tenure as our supposed commander in chief is just how astoundingly weak he is as a leader. We already knew he was an incompetent blowhard motivated by endless depths of depravity. We also knew he never had the guts to fire anyone himself, face to face, but rather always ousted people via tweet or let some other enforcer do the dirty work that he didn’t have the grit to do himself. But through Mueller’s lens, we learned how often his supposed confidants and underlings just outright ignored his commands.

From private citizen Corey Lewandowski failing to brief Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Trump’s scheme to redirect the Russia probe, to White House counsel Don McGahn dismissing Trump’s order to fire Mueller as some “crazy shit,” people surrounding Trump routinely blew off his dumbest and most illegal requests. As Mueller wrote, Trump’s most fervent attempts to obstruct the probe were “mostly unsuccessful” because “the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” 

Trump, who has clearly been briefed on this aspect of Mueller’s report, is feeling a touch miffed about the revelation going public. He kicked off Monday with predictable bluster, as he tried to reset the narrative with White House reporters. 


Nobody disobeys my orders! Au contraire, Dear Leader. 

CNN’s Collins also reported over the weekend that Trump is now “seeking assurances” from his staff that they really are following his orders—because nothing oozes strength like double checking to make certain people under your authority are taking you seriously. What a buffoon. 

Categories: Politics

Google throws Laura Ingraham a lifeline, buys ad time on her boycotted show

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 12:32

Fox News host Laura Ingraham, whose nightly program has been struggling under the weight of an advertising boycott for the past year, received some good news in April. Online giant Google, along with its subsidiary YouTube, bought up lots of advertising time on Ingraham's primetime show. The move doubles as a critical display of support from the tech behemoth at a time when Ingraham and the network have been desperate to bring high-profile advertisers back onto the show.

"Google or YouTube ads have appeared during The Ingraham Angle at least 23 times this month, beginning on April 2, with three ads running on the April 16 broadcast alone," The Wrap reports.

The unfortunate cozying up to Fox News comes as more social media giants continue to give in to right-wing bullying. Frantic to avoid the endless claims of "liberal media bias" launched by the Republican Party, conservative activists, and the right-wing media, Internet icons such as Google, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are doing exactly what traditional media outlets have done for years when faced with GOP bullies: they're caving. Anxious to avoid the spotlight and an erratic Trump administration that's shown it is completely willing to misuse government power to target and thwart its perceived foes in the business world, the companies seem overly anxious to make friends with conservative bullies. And now comes word that Google is helping to support Ingraham's show.

One year ago, the host sparked nationwide outrage when she took to Twitter to mock a Parkland, Florida school shooting survivor for not getting accepted into his top-choice colleges. “David Hogg Rejected By Four colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it,” she wrote on Twitter. “(Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA...totally predictable given acceptance rates.)" The advertising exodus was immediate, as Ingraham's show went from hosting 15 minutes of commercials each night to down to just six minutes, and relied heavily on 1-800 clients because so many iconic brands including Bayer, Hulu, Johnson & Johnson, and Liberty Mutual had dropped her show. By the end of 2018, the show had rebounded a bit and was running 10 minutes of ads each night, but was still nowhere near its pre-boycott strength. Now Ingraham's getting a boost from Google. (No word if Fox offered Google a deep rate discount in order to get the company to advertise on Ingraham's ad-starved program.)

The new Google sponsorship also comes as several Democratic candidates have made a shortsighted miscue by signaling they want to work with Fox News during the campaign primary season, even though the Democratic National Committee has refused the GOP channel the right to sponsor any of the Democratic debates. By doing so, the candidates are helping to legitimize a network that is dedicated to destroying Democrats, defending Trump lies, and demolishing public debate in this country.

Categories: Politics

Trump admin may be shutting down some international immigration offices as soon as June

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 12:08

The Trump administration may begin closing some international U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices as soon as the end of June, BuzzFeed reports. The office in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, would be first, on June 30, followed by Manila, Philippines. “All offices, including the main district offices for the separate regions, are scheduled to close by March 10, 2020.”

Officials reportedly claim that the closings will save “millions of dollars every year,” with the agency’s spokesperson adding that “the agency is working with the State and Homeland Security departments to coordinate and avoid interruptions in services.” The administration could also save millions of dollars by cutting down a certain someone’s golfing outings, but it’s never really been about saving money for these guys.

BuzzFeed reports that “The offices primarily deal with international adoptions, family visa applications, petitions for citizenship for military members stationed in foreign countries, and citizenship applications, along with help on refugee processing and investigations of fraud.” Despite claims otherwise, targeting legal immigration, especially by non-whites, has long been a goal of the Trump administration, particularly of White House aide and white supremacist Stephen Miller.

Asylum is also legal immigration, but the administration, from the very start, has taken and supported illegal actions stomping on the right of vulnerable people to ask for protection. Closing USCIS offices continues this trend of systematically walling us off from the world. Former officials have been condemning the closures, including former Refugee Affairs Division official Barbara Strack, who warned, “It will be a great blow to the quality and integrity of the legal immigration system.”

Categories: Politics