Thursday, August 15, 2019

Last Call For The Also-Rans

As I noted earlier today, former Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper had the grace to step out of the 2020 Presidential contest to run for Senate, but he won't have an easy time in the primary.

Former presidential candidate John Hickenlooper is considering a Senate run.

In his announcement declaring he is dropping out of the presidential race, Hickenlooper said he'll "give some serious thought" to running for Senate. A decision could take weeks.

More than 10 Democrats are already hoping to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner in 2020.

On Thursday, several candidates announced they would not drop out should Hickenlooper join the race.

"This won't be a coronation," State Sen. Angela Williams, a current Senate candidate, said.

Senate candidate Mike Johnston also implied he is staying in the race.

“I am so grateful for the support we have received from people in places across the state, am energized by the campaign that lies ahead, and excited to win back control of the Senate and get to work for the people of Colorado," Johnston said in a statement.

Andrew Romanoff also told FOX31 he won't drop out.

"I'm running for Senate -- I intend to stay in this race -- because I'm running to get things done," Romanoff said.

Alice Madden also announced she would not drop out.

Beto O'Rourke on the other hand has no plans for running for the Senate in Texas, despite his near zero numbers in the polls.

Beto O'Rourke returned to the campaign trail Thursday with a speech in his hometown of El Paso. The former Texas congressman, who had effectively suspended his campaign after the mass shooting in El Paso earlier this month, laid out a new approach to his candidacy. He said that instead of prioritizing early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire, he would instead concentrate on communities where President Trump has been "terrorizing, and terrifying and demeaning our fellow Americans."

"As we head back on the campaign trail today, I know there is a way to do this better. And that came to me last week someone asked if I was going to be heading back to Iowa to go to the Iowa State Fair," O'Rourke, who has repeatedly accused the president of racism in recent weeks, said. "And I said, 'No, I can't go back for that, but I also can't go back to that.'"

During the speech, O'Rourke also announced plans to immediately visit Mississippi in the wake of the ICE raids that detained 680 people last week. O'Rourke also said he would travel to Arkansas, where he will keynote the Arkansas Democratic Party's Third Annual Clinton Dinner.

I'm really kid of hoping Hickenlooper loses the primary and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner then loses in November to whoever beats Hickenlooper, just so we can go "I told you so" to both these jackasses.

You should have run for the Senate from the beginning.

The Cruelty Is The Point, Con't

As I said last week, there was very little doubt that the Netanyahu government of Israel would risk angering Donald Trump over banning two Democratic Muslim congresswomen from the country.  Today Israel made it clear they will do whatever it takes to stay in Trump's good graces.

Israel will bar Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country as part of a landmark visit, in a move that is already fueling a political firestorm in Washington.

Omar and Tlaib — the first two Muslim women in Congress — were slated to arrive this weekend, but President Donald Trump had lobbied Israeli leaders to block them from entering the country and lashed out again at the pair on Thursday.

The controversial decision announced by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely comes despite pleas from top lawmakers in both parties to allow the delegation visit to take place.

“The decision has been made. The decision is not to allow them to enter,” Hotovely told an Israeli radio station.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who returned from his own visit to Israel this month, repeatedly asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders to allow the freshman lawmakers to enter the country, only to be rejected.

Hoyer and other pro-Israel Democrats like Nita Lowey of New York, Brad Schneider of Illinois, Ted Deutch of Florida and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey also personally lobbied Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., to allow the visit.

And the trip got a bipartisan endorsement after Hoyer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced their support for the Omar-Tlaib visit during a press conference last week in Jerusalem.

But Trump slammed Tlaib and Omar — two fierce critics of the president who have called for his impeachment — on Twitter Thursday morning and encouraged Israel to block them.

"It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds," Trump said. "Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!"

And so Israel did what it was told, because Donald Trump wanted to hurt two black Muslim women who dared to oppose him, and the message that he now has the power to do as much harm as he can to anyone who wrongs him, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  He's even dragging other countries into doing his bidding now.

A sitting US leader openly exacting revenge against his political opposition like this is repugnant.

But only if people actually do "do something about it".

So the question is what do Democrats do about this?  Will they be cowards like the GOP that now openly fears Trump and will do whatever he wants?  Will they be cowards like Israel's government and do whatever Trump wants?

Because if the answer is "nothing" then it's not repugnant.

It's the new normal.

Trump's Labor Pains

The Trump regime is moving ahead with a major priority in the workplace and one I warned for years was coming: allowing any federal contract employer to obtain a religious exemption in order to nullify existing fair labor and discrimination laws.

The 46-page draft rule from the Labor Department would apply to a range of so-called religious organizations — including corporations, schools, and societies — provided that they claim a “religious purpose.”

Labor Department spokesperson Megan Sweeney confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that the rule would apply to for-profit corporations with federal contracts. This would allow those companies discriminate and keep their contract, given that they obtain a religious exemption.
The Trump administration makes clear that a corporation needn’t focus entirely on religion to qualify, saying, “The contractor must be organized for a religious purpose, meaning that it was conceived with a self-identified religious purpose. This need not be the contractor’s only purpose.”

“A religious purpose can be shown by articles of incorporation or other founding documents, but that is not the only type of evidence that can be used,” says the rule, which grants companies many opportunities to claim that faith or morals guide their intent.

The National Center for Transgender Equality said in a statement the rule could allow “firing or refusing to hire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It could also lead to federal contractors refusing to hire women or unmarried workers who are pregnant or parents, or even discrimination on the basis of race.”

For example, the policy could allow a company that supplies machinery to the federal government to fire a woman simply because she’s a lesbian if it obtains a religious pass.

Workers could still take employers to court, but there is no federal law explicitly protecting LGBTQ workers. And under the proposed rule, the Labor Department wouldn’t need to take enforcement action or cancel lucrative contracts with businesses that make religious claims as the basis for bias.

The new rule would not eliminate longstanding nondiscrimination executive orders — such as a 2014 order banning LGBT discrimination — but rather create a pathway to get around them.

Echoing a sentiment from a Labor Department press release, Sweeney tried to downplay that fact that the plan would allow discrimination, saying in a statement, “The proposed regulation does not exempt or excuse a contractor from complying with other applicable requirements outside of the religious employer exemption.”

But this ignores the heart of the plan: The draft rule exists to create a carveout that protects businesses that raise a religious motive. The Labor Department, according to the proposal, “will find a violation of [the nondiscrimination order] only if it can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a protected characteristic other than religion was a but-for cause of the adverse action.”

So, all a federal contractor has to do is go to the Trump Labor Department and request a religious exemption.  Once that's granted, the business is free to do what it wants as far as employees hired and fired that work on federal contracts.

That's expected to affect about 450,000 employees, but it's only the beginning of this mess.


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