Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sunday Long Read: Shop Till You Drop

Grocery delivery services like Instacart aren't any better than Amazon or Uber when it comes to treating their employees like indentured servants, and utterly disposable ones at that.

Once people got too scared to leave the house, there was lots of money to be made as a shopper-for-hire. Rachel had been running groceries for Instacart since October, but the Las Vegas market had barely offered enough gigs to scrape by. After the company switched to the On Demand model in February, the good orders (or “batches,” as Instacart calls them) went to whoever clicked first — and even when Rachel was lucky, she often wasn’t fast enough. But one morning in March, she logged on to see order after order piled up, lucrative ones at $50, $70, $100, all ready for the taking.

“The demand was insane,” she says. “Things were great. You could make in one batch what a lot of people would be making in a day. But you could also be standing in line at Costco for an hour and a half just to get in.”

By then, Rachel was making most of her money off Instacart. She wanted to take precautions on the job but wasn’t sure how. At first, she was just wearing gloves, thinking that touching the groceries was the biggest risk. A few days in, the news from New York scared her into digging up a box of face masks. She started having an allergic reaction from the latex in the gloves, so after that, she was down to just the mask and hand sanitizer. Stores were getting smarter at the same time. Soon, there was a separate line for Instacart shoppers; later, there was a guy giving out hand wipes just inside the door.

After running down high-dollar batches for two weeks, she started to feel sick. It began as a bad cough, dry and deep in her lungs. At first, she thought it might just be the arid climate. Perhaps it would just get better? “I thought maybe it could be allergies or a seasonal change,” Rachel says. “It’s hard to tell out here with the weather.”

A few days later, she woke up with a weight on her chest that made it hard to breathe. Her doctor gave her a full chest X-ray and a bunch of medications to tide her over, promising a proper coronavirus test a few days later. They had set it up as a drive-through: she pulled into the lot behind the doctor’s office, rolled down her window, and reclined her seat to offer a good angle to the nurse, clad in scrubs and gloves, who proceeded to thread a six-inch cotton swab so deep through her nose that it scraped mucus from the back of her throat.

From the symptoms alone, the doctor believed Rachel had COVID-19, but it would be weeks before the results came back. The doctor told her to quarantine for 14 days — then, the standard recommendation for anyone with a low fever and a bad cough who wasn’t sick enough to be hospitalized. At that point in March, Nevada had fewer than 500 available ventilators, and hospitals were bracing for impact. The last thing anyone wanted was a sick worker making grocery deliveries.

In theory, Rachel could still get paid while she self-isolated. On March 10th, Instacart announced that it would be offering two weeks of extended pay to any shoppers “diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in mandatory isolation or quarantine, as directed by a local, state, or public health authority.”

Rachel had been careful with the paperwork, too, alerting Instacart in advance and arriving for the test with a form from the company for the doctor to fill out. She scanned and submitted it the next day, then settled into quarantine. The first week was the hardest. She rested, prayed, and tried to drink as much water as she could, but the medicines didn’t seem to be helping. She started to panic. There was no money coming in, and she didn’t know when it would get easier to breathe. The week passed, and still no word from Instacart.

“I was emailing them, I don’t know, 20 times a day, just saying, ‘Hey I’m entitled to a response,’” she tells The Verge. “Every time I got the same automated response: submit your claim, submit your claim.”

After 12 days, the test came back negative — either a fluke illness or a fluke test result — but Rachel was still in a hole for the two weeks she’d spent in quarantine. Instacart finally wrote her back, rejecting Rachel’s claim. She needed a quarantine order from a government agency, the company said, not just a note from her doctor. She tried other outlets — her doctor again, then the state department of health, then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, then the state department of labor — but none of them could satisfy Instacart or hold the company to account. She never got the money. Because of the nature of gig work, she didn’t even qualify for Nevada’s unemployment benefits.

“Every path I went down, I hit a dead end,” she says. “My thing is, you don’t have to offer this to anyone. Why offer it if you’re not going to pay it?”

It’s a common story. On forums and in Facebook groups, Instacart’s sick pay has become a kind of sour joke. There are lots of posts asking how to apply, but no one seems to think they’ll actually get the money. The Verge spoke to eight different workers who were placed under quarantine — each one falling prey to a different technicality. A worker based in Buffalo was quarantined by doctors in March but didn’t qualify for an official test, leaving him with no verification to send to reps. In western Illinois, a man received a quarantine order from the state health department, but without a test, he couldn’t break through. Others simply fell through the cracks, too discouraged to fight the claim for the weeks it would likely take to break through.

Only three of the eight workers actually got their money: one full-time staff employee got paid through HR channels, while another gig worker received a partial sum after weeks of haggling.

In a third case, a 50-year-old shopper named Alejo tested positive and was admitted to the ICU, but he had his claim denied while he was hospitalized. A gig workers group seized on the case to publicly pressure Instacart with a blistering Medium post, and the pressure worked: Instacart paid up, although the company noted that the circumstances were exceptional. But Alejo hasn’t improved. He’s been in the hospital for more than a month now and is still on a ventilator, with his doctors increasingly concerned about organ failure. In the meantime, his stepson Alejandro has gone back to making Instacart runs. With Alejo laid up, it’s the only way to keep the family afloat.

People are dying out there on the front lines of the COVID-19 war, and nobody in corporate America or the Trump regime really seems to give a damn.  No wonder the country is rapidly burning these days.

Retribution Execution, Con't

After a 38-year career with the Justice Department, the FBI's top lawyer Dana Boente was asked to resign on Friday. Two sources familiar with the decision to dismiss Boente said it came from high levels of the Justice Department rather than directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray.

His departure comes on the heels of recent criticism by Fox News for his role in the investigation of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

A spokesman for the FBI confirmed to NBC News that Boente did in fact resign on Friday.

Fox News has recently criticized Boente's role in the investigation of Flynn, whose criminal charge for lying to the FBI was recently dropped by the Justice Department based in part on the argument that his lies were not material to an underlying investigation.

Boente also said in a recently leaked memo that material put into the public record about Flynn was not exculpatory for the former national security advisor. The memo undermines the Justice Department's latest position that material about Flynn was mishandled by prosecutors.

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said on April 27 that, "Shocking new reports suggest F.B.I. General Counsel Dana Boente day was acting in coordination with F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray to block the release of that evidence that would have cleared General Flynn."

Wray formally asked for Boente's resignation, but the decision to end his tenure at the FBI came from Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department, which oversees the FBI, according to two sources.

A spokesman for the FBI said Boente announced on Friday his decision to retire, which will take effect June 30.

"Few people have served so well in so many critical, high-level roles at the Department," Wray said in a statement. "Throughout his long and distinguished career as a public servant, Dana has demonstrated a selfless determination to ensure that justice is always served on behalf of our citizens."

Boente has long been a target of Trump for his role in the Mueller probe, being involved in all stages of the investigation as both the FBI's top lawyer and as former assistant AG before Rod Rosenstein.  Barr cashiering him is a loud, unmistakable message that he is now officially collecting heads, and that nobody is safe.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

A Supreme Legacy Of Order

In a 5-4 decision, US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts sided with California's right to public safety over a church's challenge to be immune from common sense during a pandemic.

The Supreme Court on Friday turned away a request from a church in California to block enforcement of state restrictions on attendance at religious services.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four-member liberal wing to form a majority.

“Although California’s guidelines place restrictions on places of worship, those restrictions appear consistent with the free exercise clause of the First Amendment,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in an opinion concurring in the unsigned ruling.

“Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time,” the chief justice wrote. “And the order exempts or treats more leniently only dissimilar activities, such as operating grocery stores, banks and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods.”

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh noted dissents.

“The church and its congregants simply want to be treated equally to comparable secular businesses,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote in a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch. “California already trusts its residents and any number of businesses to adhere to proper social distancing and hygiene practices.”

“The state cannot,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote, quoting from an appeals court decision in a different case, “‘assume the worst when people go to worship but assume the best when people go to work or go about the rest of their daily lives in permitted social settings.’”

The court’s ruling was its first attempt to balance the public health crisis against the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom. And it expanded the Supreme Court’s engagement with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, after rulings on voting in Wisconsin and prisons in Texas and Ohio.

The case was brought by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, Calif., which said Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, had lost sight of the special status of religion in the constitutional structure.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a national tragedy,” lawyers for the church wrote in their Supreme Court brief, “but it would be equally tragic if the federal judiciary allowed the ‘fog of war’ to act as an excuse for violating fundamental constitutional rights.”

The brief, filed May 23, asked the justices to block a ruling the day before from a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, saying that the shutdown orders did not single out houses of worship for unfavorable treatment. The majority said state officials had struck an appropriate balance.

“We’re dealing here with a highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there presently is no known cure,” the majority wrote in an unsigned opinion that went on to quote a famous dissent from a 1947 Supreme Court decision. “In the words of Justice Robert Jackson, if a ‘court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.’”

Luckily, Roberts was the voice of reason here that saved America from becoming a theocracy.

For now.  But remember, there were four justices who agreed that the church has the right to kill you with a deadly disease, and that your right not to die from COVID-19 cannot take precedence over the church's right to violate health and public safety.

A second Trump term would end us all.

Tales From The Trump Depression, Con't

We're basically entering June under a worst-case scenario situation, and it doesn't look like there's going to be any relief anytime soon.  It's all what we make of it from here on out.

A global pandemic has now killed more than 100,000 Americans and left 40 million unemployed in its wake. Protests — some of them violent — have once again erupted in spots across the country over police killings of black Americans.

President Trump, meanwhile, is waging a war against Twitter, attacking his political rivals, criticizing a voting practice he himself uses and suggesting that looters could be shot.

America’s persistent political dysfunction and racial inequality were laid bare this week, as the coronavirus death toll hit a tragic new milestone and as the country was served yet another reminder of how black people are killed by law enforcement in disproportionately high numbers. Together, the events present a grim tableau of a nation in crisis — one seared by violence against its citizens, plagued by a deadly disease that remains uncontained and rattled by a devastating blow to its economy.

The threads of our civic life could start unraveling, because everybody’s living in a tinderbox,” said historian and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley.

Barbara Ransby, a historian at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a longtime political activist, said the toll of the coronavirus outbreak made long-standing racial inequities newly stark. Then, images of police violence made those same disparities visceral.

“People are seething about all kinds of things,” said Ransby, the author of “Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century.” “There are major turning points and ruptures in history. . . . This is one of these moments, but we’ve not seen how it will fully play out.”

In the days after a 46-year-old black man died in the custody of Minneapolis police in an incident caught on video, demonstrators took to the streets. In that city, a police precinct was breached and set ablaze, along with other businesses. In Colorado, shots were fired near the statehouse. At a protest in Louisville, seven people were shot.

At this point America itself is entering a new chapter, as I've said before.  We're witnessing history, and not all of us will make it out to the other side in order to observe what's going on from the distance of time and safety.

We'll see what happens, but at this point all my fears being realized of America quickly descending into a semi-fascist state with Trump as dictator through emergency powers is not only possible, but I'd say increasingly likely.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Meanwhile here in Kentucky, protests continue against police for the murder of Breonna Taylor in March, killed by Louisville Metro PD as they invaded her home.

Groups of protesters demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, who was an African American woman killed in her apartment by police officers on March 13, are gathered on Jefferson and Sixth Street.

Around 9:30 p.m., shortly after a police transport unit was rolled down by protesters on Jefferson Street toward Sixth Street, against normal flow of traffic, reports of loud bangs came followed by tear gas.

Around 9 p.m., protesters pulled down the American and Kentucky flags in front of the Hall of Justice and set them ablaze. Moments later, some protesters threw objects at the building's glass doors, more items were lit on fire and there was three loud bangs went off.

A group of more than 1,000 people were estimated to be gathering around the Hall of Justice where everything seems to be focused.

Earlier in the day, the group which was more than 500 gathered at Jefferson Street with two helicopters circling overhead, including a LMPD chopper. The groups had speakers talking from the steps of Metro Hall. The crowd has continued to grow as the evening demonstrations carried on.

Hundreds also knelt between Broadway and Jefferson Street with their fists are in the air and marched around the police department chanting, 'No justice no peace.'

Protesters were also seen banging on glass at Hall of Justice steps calling for officers to come outside.

Jibriyll Izsreal, of Louisville, told the crowd they shouldn't bang on the doors.

"What I said to the crowd, 'Was do you really want to break down the glass doors of the police precincts? You’re going to give them the impression that you want to fight and if you want to fight the police what you really need to do is go home and get your guns and come back here with some force,' at which point everyone got silent," he said. "I asked everyone who had a gun and again every one was silent. Breonna Taylor’s family asked all the people in Louisville who are concerned about her loved ones not to engage in violence in order to honor memory. I felt imperative to come down here primarily for that reason, to honor Breonna's family in the way that her family is asking the community to do."

To his credit, Mayor Greg Fischer says the LMPD will suspend no-knock raids until further notice.  Seven people were shot during protests Thursday night, nobody was killed thankfully, but LMPD, hours after saying they didn't fire a single bullet, promises lethal force against protesters if things get out of hand again this weekend.

But at this point it's been ten weeks, and nobody's been fired yet.

It's going to be a long, deadly summer.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Last Call For Press The Meat, Con't

We openly arrest journalists on live TV in America now, because we all live in a fascist police state and have for years.

A CNN crew was arrested while giving a live television report Friday morning in Minneapolis -- and then released about an hour later -- as the crew covered ongoing protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd
State police detained CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, his producer and his photojournalist shortly after 5 a.m. CT (6 a.m. ET) as Jimenez was reporting live from a street south of downtown, near where a police precinct building was earlier set ablaze. 
Jimenez could be seen holding his CNN badge while reporting, identifying himself as a reporter, and telling the officers the crew would move wherever officers needed them to. An officer gripped his arm as Jimenez talked, then put him in handcuffs. 
"We can move back to where you like. We are live on the air here. ... Put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way -- wherever you want us (we'll) get out of your way," Jimenez said to police before he was led away. 
"We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection," Jimenez continued. 
Police told the crew they were being detained because they were told to move and didn't, one member of the CNN crew relayed to the network. 
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz told CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker that he deeply apologizes for what happened and would work to have the crew released. 
Later, after the crew was freed, Walz told reporters: "We have got to ensure that there is a safe spot for journalism to tell the story." 
The troopers were clearing the area at Walz's direction, he said, adding there was "absolutely no reason" for the journalists' arrests and that he takes full responsibility.

Jimenez is Afro-Latino, his CNN colleague Josh Campbell, who is white and was a block away, was treated normally by the police.

CNN's Josh Campbell, who also was in the area but not standing with the on-air crew, said he, too, was approached by police, but was allowed to remain. 
"I identified myself ... they said, 'OK, you're permitted to be in the area,'" recounted Campbell, who is white. "I was treated much differently than (Jimenez) was." 
Jimenez is black and Latino. Kirkos is white, and Mendez is Hispanic.

Any questions about Trump calling CNN "enemies of the people" being a bad thing, or are we still on "Trump doesn't mean what he says" as shitty excuse?

Retribution Execution, Con't.

I predicted yesterday that Twitter would fold like a house of cards as they have every other time before when it came to Donald Trump using their social media platform against the company's stated terms of use that until now, would have generated some sort of account penalty or tweet removal for anyone else on the planet. That was until last night when Trump reacted to the Minneapolis police using violence against protesters and sparking major civil unrest in the city with a call towards more violence against black America, and Twitter took action.

Twitter said Friday morning that a tweet from President Trump in which he threatened shooting in response to civil unrest in Minneapolis violated the company's rules. The company said it was leaving the tweet up in the public interest. 

Why it matters: The move exacerbates tensions between Twitter and Trump over the company's authority to label or limit his speech and, conversely, the president's authority to dictate rules for a private company. 
"This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence," the company said in text that now accompanies the tweet. "However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.
The decision to label Trump's tweet was made by teams within Twitter and CEO Jack Dorsey was informed of the plan before the tweet was labeled, Twitter told Axios.

Trump's outright threat against the people of Minneapolis is example #75927 of his absolute unfitness for the job he's in, and it looks like we may have finally hit the point where we're about to have a summer of breathtaking violence on top of a pandemic that is killing thousands of Americans per week on top of a massive economic depression.

Last night seemed like a new chapter in the story began, and at this point I fully expect it to be written in blood.

The line about looting and shooting is the same quote made by former Miami Police Chief Walter Headley. The following is an excerpt from a December 28, 1967 article by United Press International about what was described as Headley's "shotgun crackdown on Negro slum hoodlums."

"In declaring war on 'young hoodlums, from 15 to 21, who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign,' Headley said, 'we don’t mind being accused of police brutality.'

'They haven’t seen anything, yet.'

Headley said Miami hasn't been troubled with racial disturbances and looting because he let the word filter down, 'When the looting starts, the shooting starts.'"

Trump wants blood so badly right now, and he's going to get it.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

A police precinct was burning in Minneapolis late Thursday as protests over the death of George Floyd raged on for a third straight day.

Protesters had focused their attention on the Police Department's 3rd Precinct, the base of four officers who were fired after Floyd's death in their custody Monday.

A fire appeared to have spread to the interior of the stations, which police had evacuated. They cleared the building shortly after 10 p.m., when demonstrators forcibly entered and "ignited several fires," department spokesman John Elder said.

Fires also burned on both sides of the police station as demonstrators pushed down temporary fencing and occupied property at the precinct. Officers fired tear gas from the ground and a rooftop.

The city of Minneapolis on Twitter urged people to "retreat" from the area as a precaution. "We're hearing unconfirmed reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct have been cut and other explosive materials are in the building."

Police said late Thursday no serious injuries had been reported.

Multiple blazes also burned on nearby blocks.

The Minnesota guard said on Twitter that 500 soldiers have been activated for duty in the Twin Cities. "Our mission is to protect life, preserve property and the right to peacefully demonstrate," it said.

Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order Thursday activating the Minnesota National Guard. A statement from the governor's office said the order was needed after "extensive damage to private property occurred and peaceful protests evolved into a dangerous situation for protesters and first responders."

Businesses across the Twin Cities were boarding up their windows and doors Thursday in an effort to prevent looting.

Looters on Thursday broke into a Target on University Avenue in St. Paul before police arrived, sending the raiders scrambling.

But as police circled the store and faced off with an angry crowd, looters broke into a T.J. Maxx close by and made off with whatever they could carry. That store was later reported to be on fire.

"Officers continue to be hit with rocks and bottles thrown by people who are also breaking into buildings, looting and destroying property," St. Paul police said on Twitter.

And Black Lives still matter, even as Hennepin County refuses to bring charges against a monster who murdered a man in public with dozens of witnesses.

Prosecutors looking at the death of George Floyd on Thursday asked the people of Minneapolis for patience while they investigate the case that has riled the city and the nation. 
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after pleading for help as a police officer used his knee on Floyd's neck to pin him -- unarmed and handcuffed -- to the ground. His death sparked outrage and protests across the country, demonstrations that continued Thursday. 
In Minneapolis, hundreds of people gathered outside the police departments Third Precinct. Some protesters brought signs and some threw rocks. A temporary fence in front of the station was knocked over. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bags fired at rock throwers. 
Earlier, Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, giving an update to reporters on the case, said he must look at all evidence before bringing charges. 
"My job in the end is to prove he violated a criminal statute. And there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge. We need to wade through all of that evidence and come to a meaningful decision and we are doing that to the best of our ability."

It's been centuries, but sure.

Patience is what's needed right now, right?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Last Call For Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

The former police officer at the heart of George Floyd's murder this week in Minneapolis was a racist asshole who got complaint after complaint for his racism over a nearly twenty year span.

The Minneapolis police officer seen kneeling on the neck of an unarmed black man heard saying "I can't breathe" multiple times before he died was a 19-year department veteran who was the subject of a dozen police conduct complaints that resulted in no disciplinary action. The officer, who was praised for valor during his career, also once fired his weapon during an encounter with a suspect, records show.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, and three fellow officers were fired Tuesday from the Minneapolis Police Department, one day after the incident involving George Floyd, whose cries of physical pain were recorded on a cellphone video and whose death led to a wave of violent protests Wednesday night in Minnesota's largest city. Minneapolis police identified the other officers as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.

To be the subject of a dozen complaints over a two-decade career would appear "a little bit higher than normal," said Mylan Masson, a retired Minneapolis Park police officer and longtime police training expert for the state of Minnesota at Hennepin Technical College.

But, she added, anyone can file a complaint against an officer, whether or not it's valid, and officers might be subject to more complaints if they deal with the public often. Either way, an officer's disciplinary record will be up for scrutiny in any legal proceedings, Masson said.

An investigation including state authorities is being led by the FBI. Chauvin, 44, who is white, is being represented by lawyer Tom Kelly, who declined to comment when contacted by NBC News. Efforts to reach the other officers for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday.

But that also means that the DA for Hennepin County for part of the time that Chauvin was being a racist piece of garbage was Amy Klobuchar, and she did nothing to prosecute him based on those complaints, either. It's yet another strike against her both as Senator for Minnesota and especially against her being Biden's VP.

Eighteen years before Minneapolis police killed an unarmed black man named George Floyd on Monday, Minneapolis police killed an unarmed black man named Christopher Burns. Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar decries the killing of Floyd. Back then, Minneapolis chief prosecutor Amy Klobuchar refused to prosecute city police for killing Burns.

A year ago, the Washington Post published a thorough news article under a clear headline: “As a Prosecutor in Heavily White Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar Declined to Go After Police Involved in Fatal Encounters with Black Men.” Her refusal to seek justice after Burns died was part of a pattern.

With Klobuchar now on Joe Biden’s short list for vice president, the gruesome killing of Floyd has refocused attention on Klobuchar’s history of racial injustice. In sharp contrast to her prosecutorial approach two decades ago, she has issued a statement calling for “a complete and thorough outside investigation” into Floyd’s death and declaring that “those involved in this incident must be held accountable.”

During the first years of this century, with a bright political future ahead of her, Klobuchar refused to hold police officers accountable. And her failure to prosecute police who killed black men was matched by racially slanted eagerness to prosecute black men on the basis of highly dubious evidence.

Klobuchar's role in the injustice surrounding the death of Christopher Burns was bad enough, but it's just another reminder that she has had a real blind spot when it comes to both race and criminal justice that pretty much any other of Biden's possible picks would be better at.

Black Lives Still Matter.

Retribution Execution, Con't

Trump has declared war on social media, vowing to either destroy the platforms or regulate them to death after Twitter dared to fact check one of his tweets earlier this week.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to order a review of a law that has long protected internet companies, including Twitter and Facebook, an extraordinary attempt to intervene in the media that experts said was unlikely to survive legal scrutiny.

News of the proposed executive order came after Trump attacked Twitter for tagging the President’s tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact-check the posts.

The draft order seen by Reuters directs federal agencies to modify the way a law known as Section 230, which protects internet companies from liability for content posted by their users, is implemented. It also orders a review of alleged “unfair or deceptive practices” by Facebook and Twitter, and calls on the government to reconsider advertising on services judged to “violate free speech principles.”

Officials said on Wednesday that Trump would sign the order on Thursday, although it was not listed on Trump’s official schedule for Thursday released by the White House. The White House, Facebook and Twitter declined comment.

Trump basically has no authority under Section 230 and under First Amendment protections, but the point is yet again a massive distraction from 100,000 dead Americans and 30 million unemployed. After all, Trump needs Twitter as much as Twitter needs Trump.

Facebook and other social media aren't going anywhere either, Trump's entire campaign reelection strategy relies on spreading as much misinformation across these platforms as possible, and Trump will now have 100% free rein to do so. Shutting these platforms down is not going to happen.

But bullying them and terrorizing them is as Steve M. explains.

That's it. That's all he's got. It's how Trump has operated all his life: He's incapable (or unwilling) to grasp any subject in depth, so, in his business years, he would express his primal urges and then tell his lawyers and accountants to go make it happen, somehow. Sometimes it worked, sometimes he went bankrupt.

This is an effective approach for Trump as president when he wants underlings to hurt powerless enemies -- undocumented immigrants at the border, for instance. Smart, evil operatives like Stephen Miller can find ways to give Trump what he wants.

But the social media giants have smart lawyers, and they have the law on their side, starting with the First Amendment. Everyone who works for Trump knows this, so they now have to pretend that they're going to bring Twitter to its knees until Trump forgets his current rage and moves on to some other fit of pique that's equally irrelevant to his job.

Please note that Trump will never use the most obvious tool available to him, one that's constitutionally permissible and that isn't an abuse of his power: He won't quit Twitter.

So Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook will make nice as always and Trump will never, ever be "fact-checked" again by Twitter, that's for sure.  Both will capitulate fully.

They would never dare now.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

These are not the signs of an incumbent's campaign that is confident of a win in November.

David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski, two key allies and former political advisers to Donald Trump, went to the White House last week to issue him a warning: The president was slipping badly in swing states, and he needed to do something to fix it.

Three days later, the Trump campaign’s political directors in Arizona and Florida — states the president won in 2016 but where surveys show him lagging — were summoned to the White House Roosevelt Room. The officials offered a detailed rundown of his organization in the battlegrounds and tried to reassure the president that he was on firm ground.

After his May 18 meeting with Bossie and Lewandowski, Trump called his top campaign lieutenants to vent his frustration about his political standing.

Bossie and Lewandowski, who served as top aides on Trump’s 2016 effort, complained to the president about his political operation. Trump’s campaign team, in response decided to rush their Arizona and Florida representatives onto airplanes for a Thursday meeting with the president.

Republicans involved with setting up the Thursday meeting with Trump's state directors said they were taken aback by Bossie and Lewandowski’s warning. They felt the need to mollify Trump, who has been kept abreast of his reelection effort but hasn’t always been aware of the granular, on-the-ground details.

The sequence, which was described by four people familiar with what transpired, offered the latest snapshot of Trump’s angst about his battleground state standing. With just five months until the election, the president has been privately expressing concern about his poll numbers and senior Republicans are openly sounding alarms about his swing state prospects.

Neither Bossie nor Lewandowski, who is currently serving as a senior adviser to the reelection campaign, responded to requests for comment. A Trump campaign spokesman declined to comment.

Greg Sargent made it pretty clear last week that Trump doesn't know how to fix this mess, and that we should stop assuming he's invincible.

Whenever President Trump rolls out a new public stunt — from buffoonishly doctoring official charts with his Sharpie to dangerously using troops as campaign props — pundits rush to suggest that this time, Trump’s magical media manipulation powers just might work.

Now that Trump is using the theatrical and institutional powers of the presidency to bulldoze the country into restarting economic activity on his reelection timetable — while creating the illusion that we’re already roaring back to greatness — this is on its way to happening again.

But what if Trump’s grand new strategy is really kind of a joke? What if — having become overwhelmed by monumental public health and economic crises that are far beyond his limited capacities — he doesn’t have any idea what case to make for reelection under such dire and unforeseen circumstances?

Trump has no idea how to get out of this mess or to fix anything.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Last Call For Lowering The Barr, Con't

Two weeks ago the FBI opened an FBI insider trading investigation into GOP Sen. Richard Burr of NC, the Senate Intelligence Committee chair who investigated the Trump regime's Russia ties. The FBI showed up at Burr's house and took his cell phone. If there was still any doubt that Burr is being investigated and replaced as committee chair by Sen. Marco Rubio at the direct order of a corrupt Trump regime, those doubts, minuscule as they may be, died screaming on Tuesday.

Three senators under Department of Justice scrutiny for stock trades after coronavirus briefings had their matters closed by the agency Tuesday, but a fourth lawmaker — Sen. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C. — remains under investigation.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican and Sen. James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, were all notified by DOJ prosecutors through their defense attorneys, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

The senators all sold significant amounts of stock before the coronavirus pandemic decimated the financial markets. The market plunge began in late February and after the Senate received briefings on the coming pandemic.

Although the DOJ investigations have run their course for the trio of senators, that does not necessarily mean the Securities and Exchange Commission’s inquiries are halted, according to Jacob S. Frenkel, a former senior counsel in the SEC’s enforcement division.

“The closing of the DOJ investigations does not mean that the SEC’s investigations are closed, because the burden of proof for the Government is much higher in a criminal case — reasonable doubt — than in a civil enforcement action — preponderance of the evidence,” Frenkel said.

Frenkel added that he expects the SEC investigations into Feinstein, Loeffler and Inhofe will also come to a close based on the evidence.

Judith Burns, an SEC spokesperson, declined to comment on whether the SEC is investigating any of the senators.

On May 14, the day Burr stepped aside as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kerry Rom, a spokesperson for Loeffler said she “forwarded documents and information to DOJ, the SEC, and the Senate Ethics Committee.”

Burr had his phone seized by federal agents and relinquished his post as Intelligence Committee chairman pending the investigation. He sold between $628,000 and $1.7 million in his securities holdings on Feb. 13, after his panel began receiving daily coronavirus briefings, ProPublica first reported.

Caitlin Carroll, a spokesperson for Burr, declined comment.

Four senators, including powerful Democrat Dianne Feinstein, faced possible investigation.  Only Burr is actually being investigated.  The other three are off the hook essentially.

Trump got what he wanted though, Rubio is now the chair of the Senate intel committee and we'll never see the full evidence against Trump from the committee's investigation, evidence that Burr wanted to make public.

This is as corrupt as it gets, folks.

Biden, His Time, Con't

Joe Biden understands that without taking on GOP attempts at overt voter suppression, we are lost as a country and a people, and he is making sure that fighting back against the GOP is a national priority for Democrats.

Joe Biden has hired a national director for voter protection, a role his campaign says will focus broadly on voter rights, including the disenfranchisement of people of color amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign said Rachana Desai Martin will join its legal team, serving also as senior counsel. Martin, who has a strong background in voter protection work, previously worked as chief operating officer of the Democratic National Committee and the DNC’s director of civic engagement and voter protection.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color, especially black Americans who represent an outsized number of infections and deaths. An Associated Press analysis last month found more than one-third of those who have died are African American.

The push for voter protection rights has only intensified in recent weeks, after some primary elections, including Milwaukee’s on April 7, sparked concern that voters were forced to wait in long lines to cast their ballots. Some health officials have warned the coronavirus could spread at polling places.

Several states are looking at remote voting possibilities. Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said last week that all registered Michigan voters were sent absentee ballot applications. The move drew the ire of President Donald Trump, who threatened to hold up federal funding.

Separately, the Republican National Committee and other Republican groups filed a lawsuit against California to try to stop the state from mailing absentee ballots to voters ahead of the November election.

Voter protection will play a central role in Biden’s overall election strategy, the campaign said, noting that several states over the past few years have passed laws relating to voter ID and purges of voter rolls that could make it harder for people to vote. The campaign said it also expects significant disinformation campaigns targeted at potential voters.

Last year, Georgia made national headlines when it purged nearly 309,000 voter registrations from the state’s voting rolls.

A n AP poll from late April found that Americans’ support for mail-in voting has increased amid concerns about the safety of polling places during the coronavirus pandemic, but a wide partisan divide suggests Trump’s public campaign against vote by mail may be resonating with his Republican backers.

Donald Trump is attacking voting by mail as fraudulent somehow even though Donald Trump himself voted by mail.

What Republicans are really afraid of is losing, and battleground states expanding vote-by-mail is the death knell of the GOP and they know it.  They will fight every ballot to get it thrown out in November, because if they don't, the Democrats win overwhelmingly.

It's the end of them and they know it.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

One thing that hasn't changed a bit in 2020 is the rate of police killings of black people, even through the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest murder, recorded on video, is of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by Minneapolis cops after the police were caught by smartphone with one officer's knee crushing Floyd's neck.

The F.B.I. and Minnesota law enforcement authorities are investigating the arrest of a black man who died after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by an officer’s knee, in an episode that was recorded on video by a bystander and denounced by the mayor of Minneapolis on Tuesday.

After the shocking video circulated widely on social media, the mayor said in the afternoon that four police officers had been fired. He identified the victim as George Floyd.

The arrest took place on Monday evening, the Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement, after officers responded to a call about a man suspected of forgery. The police said the man, believed to be in his 40s, was found sitting on top of a blue car and “appeared to be under the influence.”

“He was ordered to step from his car,” the department’s statement said. “After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”

The statement said that officers called for an ambulance and that the man was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, “where he died a short time later.”

On Tuesday morning, without referring to the video recorded by a bystander, the police updated a statement, titled “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction,” that said that additional information had “been made available” and that the F.B.I. was joining the investigation.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis tweeted that the four responding officers involved in the case had been terminated. “This is the right call,” he said.

The bystander video shows a white Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into a black man’s neck during an arrest, as the man repeatedly says “I can’t breathe” and “please, I can’t breathe.”

As the video spread on social media on Monday night, the arrest quickly drew comparisons to the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in New York Police custody in 2014, after an officer held him in a chokehold. Mr. Garner’s repeated plea of “I can’t breathe” — also recorded by a cellphone — became a rallying cry at demonstrations against police misconduct around the country.

“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” Mayor Frey said in a statement on Tuesday. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes.”

The video recorded in Minneapolis shows that, after a few minutes, the man, lying face down in the street with his hands cuffed behind his back, becomes silent and motionless; the officer continues to pin the man to the pavement with his knee.

Five whole minutes with an cop's knee cutting off your air supply.

Five minutes of being asphyxiated.

Nobody came to his rescue, because after all, the cops would have arrested them or worse.

I would say he died like a dog, but in America we treat our dogs a thousand times better than we treat the most lauded of black folk. Being President of the United States of America didn't save Barack Obama from a nation of white supremacists who wanted him hanged from a tree and still do.

Minneapolis decided it had enough yesterday.

Thousands of people marched through the streets of south Minneapolis Tuesday night in response to the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes and ignored the man’s protests that he couldn’t breathe.

Protesters marched from the site of Floyd’s death — outside Cup Foods on Chicago Avenue — to the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct, where the door was smashed and protest signs left outside.

Shortly before 8 p.m., police clad in riot gear were firing tear gas and sandbags at the protesters, who were throwing water bottles at them in what appeared to be a standoff.

As it marched earlier, the crowd, which numbered in the thousands, shouted chants such as “I can’t breathe” and called for the swift prosecution of the officers involved in the incident.

“This will happen again if we don’t get out in front of this,” said community activist Al Flowers, who called the incident “one of the most egregious murders I’ve ever seen.” He said the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck should be prosecuted.

At one point, protesters pelted a line of police SUVs with water bottles and other items, shattering the windows.

It's infuriating.  Four cops just casually killed a man in front of a crowd because he was black.

And you want to tell me I should respect law enforcement?

And you want to tell me "Well if he followed the rules, he'd still be alive..."

And you want to tell me...what?

Black Lives Still Matter.

You can't kill all of us.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Last Call For Austerity Hysteria, Con't

Mitch McConnell has realized that all he has to do in order to achieve his dream of forcing states to permanently eliminate trillions in social programs is to sit back and do nothing as the Trump Depression ravages them.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he favors some targeted aid to states and local governments, but the next round of federal pandemic relief money can’t be used for dealing with “pre-existing” fiscal conditions.
He also denied under questioning that he supported states and local governments filing for bankruptcy protection if they find themselves underwater with debt.

McConnell said states can’t declare bankruptcy, but it is “an option” for cities, though he recalled mentioning that approach only as a possibility, not as a recommendation for navigating out of financial woes brought on by the coronavirus.

McConnell: Let states 'use the bankruptcy route' instead of giving federal 'blank check'

The remarks came during a brief availability at Norton Healthcare’s Brownsboro campus in eastern Jefferson County.

McConnell said there will be another “plug” of funding from the federal government to aid businesses and others hit hard by the pandemic, but “it won’t be another” $3 trillion, as a recent House bill calls for.

“That ain’t going to happen,” he said at one point.
As the country gradually begins to reopen, the economic toll brought on by shuttering businesses and sending workers home to shelter in place is just beginning to be tallied, and many states and cities, including Kentucky and Metro Louisville, have multimillion-dollar shortfalls in sales and payroll taxes.

McConnell said he thinks it’s crucial to include “narrowly crafted” liability reform to protect businesses from an “avalanche of lawsuits” that could arise from reopenings.

"The only way to rescue this economy is to get back to normal" even though "we may need one more plug" of pandemic relief.

Mitch continues to hold out the "possibility" of a phase 4 bill so he doesn't give away the game, but the reality remains that there is no help is coming for local and state governments.


Not even for Kentucky.

We're on our own.

Food For Thought, Con't

With ground beef prices skyrocketing due to COVID-19 plant shutdowns, even Republicans are starting to realize that when 85% of the beef market is controlled by four giant agribusiness processor corporations, collusion is inevitable, and it's the kind of collusion that will start costing Midwest Republicans their jobs in five months and change.

Supermarket customers are paying more for beef than they have in decades during the coronavirus pandemic. But at the same time, the companies that process the meat for sale are paying farmers and ranchers staggeringly low prices for cattle.
Now, the Agriculture Department and prosecutors are investigating whether the meatpacking industry is fixing or manipulating prices.

The Department of Justice is looking at the four largest U.S. meatpackers — Tyson Foods, JBS, National Beef and Cargill — which collectively control about 85 percent of the U.S. market for the slaughter and packaging of beef, according to a person with knowledge of the probe. The USDA is also investigating the beef price fluctuations, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has confirmed.
Meatpackers say beef prices have spiked during the pandemic because plants are running at lower capacity as workers fall ill, so less meat is making its way to shelves. The four companies didn’t respond to requests for comment about the probes.

But the coronavirus crisis is highlighting how the American system of getting meat to the table favors a handful of giant companies despite a century of government efforts to decentralize it. And it’s sparking new calls for changes in meatpacking.

“It’s evidence that something isn’t right in the industry,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who has spoken out against mergers in the agriculture industry. In April, Grassley requested federal investigations into market manipulation and unfair practices within the cattle industry. So have 19 other senators and 11 state attorneys general.

The average retail price for fresh beef in April was $6.22 per pound — 26 cents higher per pound than it was the month before, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, at the end of April, the average price for a steer was below $100 per hundred pounds; the five-year average for that same week was about $135 per hundred pounds, according to USDA’s weekly summary.

Ed Greiman, general manager of Upper Iowa Beef who formerly headed the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, attributed the consumer price increase to plants running at lower capacity. At the same time, farmers and ranchers desperate to offload their cattle as they reach optimal weight for slaughter are cutting prices so they won’t have to kill the animals without selling them.

“I’m running at half speed,” Greiman said at an event hosted by the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association. “Cattle are backing up because we can’t run our plants fast enough. Nothing is functioning properly. We need to be careful not to put blame on any one thing or part of the industry because we can’t get these plants going."

The industry has long been a focus for government antitrust enforcement.

Exactly 100 years ago, after years of litigation, the five biggest U.S. meatpackers — which were responsible for 82 percent of the beef market — agreed to an antitrust settlement with the Justice Department that helped break their control over the industry.

The Justice Department’s efforts to reduce concentration in meatpacking led to decades of competition. By 1980, the top four firms controlled only 36 percent of cattle slaughters in the U.S., according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

But during the next 10 years, meatpacking experienced a huge wave of deals, enough that the USDA dubbed the time “merger mania.” By 1988, the new four biggest companies again controlled 70 percent of the beef meatpacking market.

“There’s greater concentration in meatpacking now” than in 1921, said Thomas Horton, an antitrust professor at the University of South Dakota, who previously worked at the Justice Department. The first antitrust laws were “passed to take care of the Big Five. Now we have the Big Four. We’re going backwards.”

I expect this probe to move pretty quickly, because if voters are paying $7, $8, $10 or more a pound for ground beef heading into Election Day, Republicans are going to be the ones going into the grinder.

As I've said, food shortages are to be expected, but the big meat processor corporations have been getting away with collusion for years now.  It looks like that may be coming to a swift end, if only to save the hides of Republican lawmakers.

Side note: when plant-based meat products are less expensive than actual meat, these big processors are going to be in real trouble anyway.

It's About Suppression, Con't

A federal judge has gutted a Florida state law requiring felons to pay all court fines and fees before they can register to vote, clearing the way for thousands of Floridians to register in time for the November presidential election.

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) pushed the measure after Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 to expand voting rights to felons who have completed “all terms of their sentence including probation and parole.”

The law’s backers said it was necessary to clarify the amendment, while critics said Republicans were trying to limit the effects of what would have been the largest expansion of the state’s electorate since poll taxes and literacy tests were outlawed during the civil rights era.

The law, critics said, had made it virtually impossible for most felons to register, either because of an inability to pay or because the state offered no way for them to know what they owed or whether they had already paid.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle agreed, likening the restrictive legislation to a tax and concluding that the state had not created a system that would allow felons to identify their financial obligations.

“The Twenty-Fourth Amendment precludes Florida from conditioning voting in federal elections on payment of these fees and costs,” wrote Hinkle, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, referring to the constitutional amendment that bans poll taxes.

Hinkle did not find, however, that the law intentionally discriminated on the basis of race, as the plaintiffs had argued, because of the disproportionate number of African Americans among the state’s population of felons.

Hinkle’s order requires the state to tell felons whether they are eligible to vote and what they owe. It also requires the state to allow any felon to register if they are not given an answer within 21 days. No one will face perjury charges for registering and voting through this process, he ordered.

We'll see how far this gets before the GOP finds a friendly 11th Circuit Court to stay the order ahead of November. Don't count on Hinkle's order to stand through the election at all. This is far from over. What I'm afraid of is an appellate stay order or ruling that allows Florida to continue to disenfranchise over a million felons who have served their time and then SCOTUS won't hear the case until after the election, and then a 5-4 decision siding with DeSantis.

Don't get me wrong, this is good news.

But odds are extremely high that it won't remain good news much longer.

Meanwhile in California...

The Republican National Committee and other Republican groups have filed a lawsuit against California to stop the state from mailing absentee ballots to all voters ahead of the 2020 general election, a move that was made in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  
The suit comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced this month that the state would move to encourage all voters to cast their ballots by mail in November -- the most widespread expansion of vote-by-mail that has been announced as a result of the pandemic and in the nation's most populous state. 
The RNC's lawsuit challenges that step, marking a significant escalation in the legal battles between Republicans and Democrats that are currently being waged in more than a dozen states. 
"Democrats continue to use this pandemic as a ploy to implement their partisan election agenda, and Governor Newsom's executive order is the latest direct assault on the integrity of our elections," said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement.
"Newsom's illegal power grab is a recipe for disaster that would destroy the confidence Californians deserve to have in the security of their vote." 
McDaniel's comments echo President Donald Trump who has expressed vehement opposition to Newsom's order and has pushed back strenuously against expansions to vote-by-mail across the country. 
On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted another attack on vote-by-mail, which included several claims for which he provided no evidence. 
"The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots," Trump tweeted. "It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history.

Again, Republicans are trying to make it as difficult as possible to vote, and are screaming that allowing more people to vote is a "rigged election".

Does anyone still think Trump will accept a loss in November?


Monday, May 25, 2020

I Guess It's Still Bevinstan

Things got ugly on Sunday here in Kentucky at a "Patriot Day Rally".

They're hanging Andy Beshear effigies in public now, and he's a white guy.

As the rally wound down, organizers led the remaining crowd to the governor’s mansion to attempt to hand deliver a request for Beshear to resign. Groups carried signs reading “Abort Beshear from office” and “My rights don’t end where your fear begins” to Beshear’s home and chanted, “Come out Andy” and “Resign Andy.”

No one came to the door. A few Kentucky State Troopers got out of their cars to observe but did not attempt to stop the crowd. It’s not clear if Beshear was at home at the time.

The crowd returned to the capitol, at which time an effigy of Beshear was hanged from a tree outside the Capitol while “God Bless the U.S.A.” played over the loud speaker.

No one came to the door. A few Kentucky State Troopers got out of their cars to observe but did not attempt to stop the crowd. It’s not clear if Beshear was at home at the time.

The crowd returned to the capitol, at which time an effigy of Beshear was hanged from a tree outside the Capitol while “God Bless the U.S.A.” played over the loud speaker.

A man with a Three Percenter band around his arm helped hang the effigy, though Kentucky 3Percenters Inc. State Secretary Patsy Kays Bush said she was against it and didn’t want it to hurt the group’s image. Wheatley, too, said he did not support the effigy.

“However,” Bush said, “we’re at the point where rallies and shouting and hollering is just not working anymore.” She did support marching to the mansion, though, she said.

“That man (Beshear) has overstepped his bounds in more ways than one,” she said. “Somebody needs to get ahold of him. And we’re just done.”

She said part of the problem is Beshear’s approach to executive orders and recommendations like mask wearing. She said she feels like he gives orders instead of advice, and by nature of being in the mansion and at the Capitol, is too disconnected from how badly others are suffering from his rules.

The effigy bore a sign that read, “sic semper tyrannis,” which means “thus always to tyrants.”

After hanging for a short time while people snapped photos, it was cut to the ground.

Hanging a white man in effigy was too much even for the Kentucky GOP to handle.

The effigy was swiftly condemned by leaders on both sides of the aisle.

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, a Republican, called the effigy "disgusting" on social media.

"I condemn it wholeheartedly," he tweeted. "The words of John Wilkes Booth have no place in the Party of Lincoln."

Kentucky House Democratic Leader Joni Jenkins, House Democratic Caucus Chair Derrick Graham and House Democratic Whip Angie Hatton also issued a joint statement condemning the effigy.

“Hanging Governor Beshear in effigy is beyond reprehensible, and yet it is also the logical conclusion of the hateful rhetoric we saw touted on the Capitol grounds earlier this month that was implicitly condoned by elected representatives from the legislature’s majority party," the statement read. "Doing this in front of our Capitol, just a short walk from where the Governor, First Lady, and their two young children live, is an act that reeks of hate and intimidation and does nothing but undermine our leading work to battle this deadly disease and restore our economy safely. We call on all elected officials to condemn these actions and pledge to work to eliminate dangerous hateful speech.”

Crystal Staley, a spokeswoman for Beshear, said in a statement, “The act that was displayed on Capitol grounds today, near where the Governor and his young children live, was wrong and offensive. This type of behavior must be condemned. As Kentuckians we should be able to voice our opinions without turning to hate and threats of violence. Put simply — we are and should be better than this." 

It's going to be a bloody summer, guys.

A Day For Memorials

I hope everyone is having a safe Memorial Day at home, light posting today.

100,000 Americans have died to COVID-19.

A lot more deaths are coming and not all of them will be from the virus. The right believes it is necessary that the weak are being sacrificed to save themselves.

The husband of the woman who leads the Reopen NC movement says people should be willing to kill, if necessary, to resist the “New World Order” and emergency orders imposed by state government to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Adam Smith posted a string of Facebook Live videos on Facebook on Friday, May 22, 2020 that culminated with a chilling threat.

“But are we willing to kill people? Are we willing to lay down our lives?” he asked. “We have to say, ‘Yes.’ We have to say, ‘Yes.’ Is that violence? Is that terrorism? No, it’s not terrorism. I’m not trying to strike fear in people by saying, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ I’m gonna say, ‘If you bring guns, I’m gonna bring guns. If you’re armed with this, we’re going to be armed with this.’”

A retired Marine who owns a payment-processing company in Burke County, nestled in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Smith posted four Facebook Live videos over the course of the day while driving his car. Smith said in the videos that he feels called by God and by his understanding of the Constitution to prepare for a violent showdown.

At the outset of the final video, he interrupted his testimonial to accept a bag of fast food from a restaurant worker through a drive-thru window.

Remember them.

Trump certainly won't.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Last Call For Tales From The Trump Depression, Con't

Minnesota and Connecticut weighed in at 8%, merely "the worst of the Great Recession years". The US as a whole was at 14.7%, nearly 50% worse than the height of the 2007-2008 meltdown's 9.9%.

Michigan is at 22.7%, and Nevada is at 28.2%.  These are catastrophic numbers.

We've seen another 10 million plus unemployment claims since May 1 nationwide, and will almost certainly see another 2 million plus on Thursday.

We will be above 20% when May's numbers hit in less than two weeks.

This could have been prevented.  Here in Kentucky, because the GOP refuses to help, the state now faces a $600 million shortfall and massive austerity cuts will be coming by the end of next month unless the Senate GOP gets off their asses.

Gov. Andy Beshear must slash $457 million from Kentucky’s General Fund and $161 million from its Road Fund for the current fiscal year that ends June 30, a panel of economists said Friday.

The Consensus Forecasting Group said the state’s economy has been wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown of most businesses. With income, corporate, sales and gas tax collection falling, state government faces lean times in the immediate future.

The roughly $11 billion General Fund pays for most state services, including education, health care, environmental protection and public safety. The Consensus Forecasting Group initially considered a plan calling for $377 million in General Fund losses but rejected that because it wasn’t pessimistic enough given current economic conditions.

The General Assembly will need to return to Frankfort for “a short, targeted special session” to help write a budget reduction plan for the Road Fund, Beshear told reporters Friday evening. He did not give a specific time frame.

Any state revenue shortfall greater than 5 percent in the General Fund or Road Fund “shall require action by the General Assembly,” according to state law. Under the numbers released Friday, the Road Fund would shrink by 10.4 percent, while the General Fund would shrink by 4 percent.

“We’ve had initial conversations with (legislative) leadership,” Beshear said. “We’ll want to talk with them again, make sure we have it all hammered out. Make sure we do it in as short of a time as possible.”
Read more here:

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Oh, and from now on, everything is going through the State Department, and not Health and Human Services.  Because pandemics are apparently now diplomatic and political problems, not health ones.

Aides to President Donald Trump are considering a plan to shift the government’s global response to future infectious disease outbreaks to a new unit inside the State Department, according to documents obtained by POLITICO.

The proposal, discussed during a National Security Council deputies committee meeting on Thursday, already has set off a turf battle between the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID officials were surprised and perplexed by the idea, which could lead them to lose control of significant funds and authorities.

People familiar with the issue say Dr. Deborah Birx, a top official handling the administration’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, is likely to wind up in charge of the new unit if it becomes a reality. The proposal also could, to some degree, establish an alternative mechanism to some of the work done by the World Health Organization, whose U.S. funding Trump has threatened to permanently end.

The overall effort, first reported by the media platform Devex, is described as the President’s Response to Outbreaks, or PRO.

Donald Trump chose this.

And this is only the beginning, folks.
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