Monday, March 8, 2021

Getting Busted On The Filibuster

House Democratic Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is straight-up calling out Dem Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, saying they will be responsible for the failure of the For The People voting rights act to pass the Senate if they allow the filibuster to remain and Republicans to kill it.

One of the most powerful Democrats in Washington has issued a frank warning to members of his own party, saying they need to find a way to pass major voting rights legislation or they will lose control of Congress.

The comments from Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip, came days after the House of Representatives approved a sweeping voting rights bill that would enact some of the most dramatic expansions of the right to vote since the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Even though Democrats also control the US Senate, the bill is unlikely to pass the chamber because of a procedural rule, the filibuster, that requires 60 votes to advance legislation.

In an interview with the Guardian this week, Clyburn called out two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have opposed getting rid of the filibuster. Republicans across the country are advancing sweeping measures to curtail voting rights and letting expansive voting rights legislation die would harm Democrats, Clyburn said.

“There’s no way under the sun that in 2021 that we are going to allow the filibuster to be used to deny voting rights. That just ain’t gonna happen. That would be catastrophic,” he said. “If Manchin and Sinema enjoy being in the majority, they had better figure out a way to get around the filibuster when it comes to voting and civil rights.”

Clyburn issued that warning ahead of the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the day in 1965 when law enforcement officers brutally beat voting rights activists in Selma, Alabama.

Clyburn and other House Democrats have been hoping the early days of Joe Biden’s administration will be marked by passage of a bill named after the late congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights hero who was nearly killed on Bloody Sunday. That measure would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, gutted by the supreme court in 2013, that required places with a history of voting discrimination to get election changes cleared by the federal government before they took effect.

“Here we are talking about the Voting Rights Act he worked so hard for and that’s named in his honor and they’re going to filibuster it to death? That ain’t gonna happen,” Clyburn said.

For his part, Joe Manchin seems to think the For The People Act can somehow be passed through budget reconciliation

Manchin (D-W.Va.) has previously supported efforts to require senators to filibuster by talking on the chamber floor in order to hold up a bill, an idea he raised on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk,” Manchin said. “I'm willing to look at any way we can, but I'm not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.”

However, Manchin did not rule out using the budget reconciliation process to pass a voting rights bill with a simple majority, keeping the door open to a potential workaround for Democrats to push through a voting overhaul while preserving the filibuster. The House on Wednesday narrowly passed a sweeping package of election-related reforms, a proposal they've given the symbolically important designation of H.R. 1.

It's not clear how Manchin envisioned that H.R. 1 could potentially be passed through reconciliation, as it is not budget-related, and Democrats' proposed minimum wage increase was tripped up by the process' strict rules and left on the cutting-room floor.

But Manchin said Democrats need to meaningfully engage with Republicans before going down that path, which they utilized late last week to pass a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package without a single GOP Senate vote.

“I'm not willing to go into reconciliation until we at least get bipartisanship or get working together or allow the Senate to do its job,” Manchin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

I don't know what Manchin is on, but there's not going to be a single Republican senator to vote for expanding voting rights in any fashion.  He's out of his damn mind. He also thinks he'll get 60 votes on a major new infrastructure bill -- as long as Joe Biden raises trillions in taxes to pay for it -- and that Republicans will agree to it.

And as for Sinema, well, who knows?

Cuomo's #MeToo Moment, Con't

NY Dem Gov. Andrew Cuomo says there's "no way" he will resign with "unproven" multiple sexual harassment allegations, saying calls for his resignation from state lawmakers are "undemocratic".

In a potentially crippling defection in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s efforts to maintain control amid a sexual harassment scandal, the powerful Democratic leader of the New York State Senate declared on Sunday that the governor should resign “for the good of the state.”

The stinging rebuke from the Senate leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins — along with a similar sentiment from the Assembly speaker, Carl E. Heastie, who questioned the “governor’s ability to continue to lead this state” — suggested that Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, had lost his party’s support in the State Capitol, and cast doubt on his ability to withstand the political fallout.

Once hailed as a pandemic hero and potential presidential contender, the governor has seen his political future spiral downward over eight perilous days in the wake of a New York Times report about Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to Mr. Cuomo.

In a series of interviews with The Times, Ms. Bennett, 25, said that Mr. Cuomo, 63, had asked her invasive personal questions last spring about her sex life, including whether she had slept with older men, and whether she thought age made a difference in relationships.

Ms. Bennett is one of five women who have come forward in recent days with allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior against Mr. Cuomo, with one predating his tenure as governor.

Mr. Cuomo, however, was adamantly resisting calls for his resignation, arguing he was elected by the people, not “by politicians.”

“I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” the governor said, calling the notion “anti-democratic,” and a violation of the due process clause of the Constitution. “There is no way I resign.”

The governor’s statements on Sunday afternoon came not long after Ms. Stewart-Cousins had informed Mr. Cuomo in a phone call that she was about to call for him to step down, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation; the governor then quickly convened his own news conference to pre-empt her announcement.

He told reporters that his remarks were directed at “some legislators who suggest that I resign.”

Undeterred, Ms. Stewart-Cousins fired back, releasing her statement not long after Mr. Cuomo concluded his news conference.

“We need to govern without daily distraction,” said Ms. Stewart-Cousins, citing the allegations of sexual harassment and a “toxic work environment,” and his handling of the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic. “Governor Cuomo must resign.”

Ms. Stewart-Cousins is the most prominent New York State official to call for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation, and her statement carries significance: Her Senate would be the jury for any impeachment trial of the governor, if such an action were passed by the Assembly.

It also carries symbolic weight: In 2008, when Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned during a prostitution scandal, his decision was partially precipitated by a loss of support from Albany’s legislative leaders.

Mr. Heastie did not call for Mr. Cuomo to resign, but suggested that it was time for him “to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”
I don't think he can effectively meet the needs of anyone other than Andrew Cuomo.
Donald Trump decided to tough it out and he stayed in power after dozens of harassment claims, and then voters removed him. I'd hope New York voters would do the same, but frankly I think that should it become clear Cuomo will be impeached and removed, he'll step down well before an election.

We'll see what happens, but every day Cuomo stays in office is another day it becomes increasingly impossible to punish Republicans for their wrongdoing.


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Last Call For America Goes Viral, Con't

Nearly 70% of Americans approve of President Joe Biden's handling of COVID-19 so far in a new ABC News poll as the administration is rolling out tens of millions of vaccine doses per week now, but Americans are split on two specific topics: reopening schools to in-class learning, and the difficulty of getting the vaccine for those who want it.

A new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds that even as American concern about the coronavirus wanes, most believe public health restrictions, like mask mandates or limits on public gatherings, are being loosened too quickly. However, opinions on re-opening schools and businesses are more mixed, reflecting the public’s desire to return to a semblance of normalcy. As the country navigates the hoped-for end of the pandemic, two-thirds of the American public continue to approve of the way Joe Biden is handling the coronavirus response. 
Two-thirds (68%) of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the pandemic.
Support for Biden breaks clearly along partisan lines with virtually all Democrats (98%) approving compared to only a third (35%) of Republicans. However, that compares favorably to the last ABC/Ipsos poll asking about former President Trump’s handling of the pandemic when 79% Republicans approved compared to only 4% of Democrats.

Concern about being infected with the coronavirus is down from last fall. However, most Americans believe public health restrictions are being lifted too quickly, reflecting continued support for measures to limit the pandemic. 
Just under three-quarters (72%) of Americans are very or somewhat concerned about being infected with the coronavirus, down from 78% in October and 89% in April of 2020. 
A majority of Americans say that mask mandates (56%) and restrictions on public gatherings (50%) are being loosened too quickly. The remainder are split roughly equally between believing these rules are being relaxed at the right pace or too slowly. 
Attitudes on re-opening schools and businesses are more split with roughly a third on each believing it is happening too quickly, at the right pace, or too slowly. 
Over a quarter of American adults (28%) report receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. Another 15% have tried to schedule an appointment but have not been able to receive a shot yet. 
Among those who have or have tried to get the vaccine, about half (48%) describe the process of finding and registering for the vaccine appointment to be very or somewhat difficult.
Republicans politicizing the pandemic from day one has greatly harmed the country, hurt students, teachers, business owners, workers, you name it. I still don't expect the majority of Republicans to admit to getting the vaccine, ever.

But they will. Like Trump, they'll do it, and never tell anyone, and then lie about it.

Texas's Race To The Bottom, Con't

Racist Texans, infuriated by a Mexican restaurant's decision to require masks, called ICE to raid the place because as we all know, businesses have not business telling customers what to do when it inconveniences white Republicans, and all Mexican restaurants are staffed by "illegals" and stuff.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit and restaurant owners faced difficult decisions, the Richards family that owns Picos, a Mexican restaurant in Houston, quickly adapted to continue sharing their Latin cuisine — from selling to-go margarita kits to stationing a mariachi band at the curbside pickup.

This week, after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Tuesday that he would rescind the statewide mask mandate while the vast majority of residents remain unvaccinated, the tough choice to enforce public health guidance fell to business owners, and Picos announced it would continue requiring masks. But, after such a challenging year, the reaction to their decision was disheartening, co-owner Monica Richards said: Several people sent hateful messages through social media and called the restaurant, threatening to report staffers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“It was just horrific,” Richards said. “People don’t understand unless you’re in our business what it felt like, how hard it was to go through everything we went through during covid. For people to be negative toward us for trying to remain safe, so that this doesn’t continue to happen, just makes zero sense to us.”

Abbott’s decision to lift the mandate will make Texas the largest state to not require masks, which has not come easily for many businesses that are navigating enforcement mask rules to protect employees and customers while facing backlash. Masks, which health experts say are among the most effective ways to curb the spread of the coronavirus, have become a partisan symbol, with one conservative group planning a mask burning party for March 10, the day the order is lifted.

When the mandate is rescinded, the majority of Texas restaurant owners say they will continue requiring staff to wear masks, but they are split on making the same demands of customers, according to the Texas Restaurant Association, which informally surveyed its members this week. The association’s updated guidance recommends restaurants mandate employees wear masks and encourages guests to do the same, spokeswoman Anna Tauzin said.

If a restaurant requires masks, it is unfair to argue the choice infringes on business, Tauzin said.

“This is a decision business owners are making, and it’s right for them,” Tauzin said. “For a group that touts personal responsibility is something key to good stewardship of your business, it seems strange that they might criticize or throw insults at people who are trying to do just that. It’s alarming.”

There have not been many instances reported to the association of harmful fallout for businesses that are continuing to require masks since Abbott’s announcement, such as what Picos faced. Yet restaurants have endured a share of violence and harassment this year as other businesses have remained closed.

And these assholes are doing this because they feel like asking them to wear masks is exactly the gay panic of 30 years ago, like denying service to Black folk at lunch counters 60 years ago, or making Jews wear stars 90 years ago.

On top of that, these assholes are willing to threaten and are definitely willing to cause physical harm, as January 6th showed us.

All over masks.

Sunday Long Read: The Lost Year

It's been one year since schools across America shut down to in-class learning in states across the country, and in Denver, Colorado school systems are still teaching kids over Zoom as classrooms remain empty. It's been a lost year for an entire generation of American kids, parents, teachers and more.

One day this past winter, a Denver Public Schools (DPS) fifth grader phoned a therapist who was helping her cope with her anxiety. She missed her friends and needed to talk. A single mom a few miles south in Littleton called her teenage sons from work one weekday, just to make sure they were doing OK with everything. In northeastern Colorado, a mother couldn’t get through the day without worrying about her four children, one of whom was in middle school and recently had asked the family’s Alexa device for advice on how to put an end to his suicidal thoughts.

The particular struggles for parents and children over the past year may be different, but they’re also awfully familiar and have the same root cause: pandemic-induced remote learning.

Jada Williams* knows the challenges. She’d seen her daughter’s slow academic slide begin late this past summer, just weeks into a school year that had started with students at home because of the novel coronavirus. After months of remote learning, DPS gave her 10-year-old daughter, Nia,* the option of in-person learning at east Denver’s Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment this past winter. Williams declined.

It was “the hardest decision of my life,” Williams, who is in her late thirties and Black, says. She knew how important it was for Nia to be in a classroom, but she also knew the risks associated with COVID-19, which has hit Black communities at disproportionately high rates. Williams worked two jobs, and she didn’t have the luxury of missing a paycheck if she got sick. Ultimately, sending Nia back to in-person schooling “wasn’t worth the risk” to her family’s health or their financial situation.

Williams watched her daughter’s reading aptitude slip each night as the two read before bedtime. Nia was a hands-on kid, so it was inevitable she’d eventually become lonely and disengaged from her schoolwork. Williams always believed her daughter’s situation would be temporary, but a sense of helplessness seized her as the pandemic dragged on through the summer and into the fall and winter. “I never imagined,” she says, “that this is what school would look like.”

Williams, who also has a three-year-old son, didn’t have any cushion in her budget to hire a tutor for her daughter. Nia cried when she learned of her mother’s decision to keep her home, where she would log in to school each morning as her mother took calls for her day job as an eye-examination scheduler for a managed care company. “How do you tell a child you’re keeping her from her teacher and her friends?” says Williams, who also cuts hair to supplement her income. “I want her to go back so bad. I don’t have a good answer for anything. She keeps asking me when she’s finally going to see her teachers and her friends. I keep saying, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ How much longer can I do that?”

Nearly 100 miles north of the Williams’ home, 14-year-old Brett Shaw* sat hunched over a laptop at his kitchen table, trying to ignore his mother. His first-semester final exams were to begin the next day. Snow was piled around his family’s rustic, split-level home in the hills west of Fort Collins. It was mid-December, but indoors it looked much the same as it had every other day during the pandemic, with Brett wearing a pair of shorts, sitting next to his two younger sisters as they logged into their classes.

Brett—wiry and friendly, with a thin face and a wisp of black hair peeking out from under the back of his Dallas Cowboys beanie—had earned mostly B’s and C’s in middle school the year before. As with so many American children since then, the pandemic had upended most everything in Brett’s life. Both of his parents had temporarily lost their jobs during the previous nine months, which had been devastating to the family’s finances. Brett rarely saw his friends. He loved competitive wrestling, but he hadn’t worked out with his team in months. Of the roughly 80 days that made up Brett’s first semester, only 10 had been in an actual classroom. “I barely got to know my way around,” he said as he logged onto his English class, where the students were studying Romeo and Juliet. With one week remaining in his first freshman semester, Brett was in a bad spot academically. He had three D’s, one F, a bunch of unfinished work, and a frustrated mother trying to hold things together.

Over in the family room, Brett’s mom, Kelly Shaw,* sat at her desk. Her job as a medical coder for a hospital gave her flexibility to work from home when her husband returned to his full-time job in construction. Like most parents working through the pandemic, Kelly, who is 41, was fighting doubts about herself. One day, she’d worry she was neglecting her work and focusing too much on her children’s schooling; the next, she was certain she was ignoring her children’s schooling and focusing too much on her work. She thought about bills that would soon come due and was often angry that her school district hadn’t opened its high schools. “I feel like I’m the one who’s failing,” she said.

Kelly opened Brett’s school portal, which gave her access to attendance records, grades, and assignments. She took a deep breath. Her back stiffened. It was as if she were preparing for a crash landing.
I'm hoping schools will be fully back to normal soon, and by August at the absolute latest, the beginning of a new school year. But I can't help but think that it'll be a long time before we fully know the effect of the Lost Year of COVID on America's kids. 

It didn't have to be this way, but Trump and the GOP made it so.

Never forget that.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Last Call For President Biden Beats President Manchin

The Senate passage of the American Rescue Plan Act is in the books, with both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema voting for the final bill 50-49, as Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan was out of town.

Chuck Schumer put it bluntly to Joe Manchin: If you side with Republicans, you could jeopardize everything.

The West Virginia senator was delaying consideration of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan as he mulled whether to back a GOP bid to shave more than a month off the bill's $300 in extra weekly unemployment benefits. Democrats thought they already had corralled Manchin for their more generous proposal.

“We had what we thought was an agreement. But then Joe Manchin looked at it and was unsure,” Schumer explained in an interview as he recalled Friday’s hectic rush to rewrite the massive Covid aid bill. “If Manchin would have approved the [GOP] amendment, the bill probably couldn't have passed the House. And I told him that. And he understood that.”

Manchin gave Schumer the 50th vote on Saturday afternoon, sending one of the largest emergency spending bills in American history on a glide path to Biden’s desk sometime next week. Despite the tension and GOP jeers sparked by Friday's delay, the 50-49 Senate vote was a crucial victory for the New York Democrat. Schumer has graduated from four years commanding the Senate minority against Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump to the successful leadership of a motley but mostly cohesive majority.

Passage of the Covid aid bill validated an argument Schumer has made for more years now, that Democrats erred by trying to bring Republicans on board for a big relief plan during the last economic crisis in 2009. This time around, Republicans weren’t “even in the ballpark” when they offered a $600 billion spending bill as a compromise, said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

So instead of searching for bipartisan support and potentially watering down a historic bill that beefs up pensions, health care and crucial unemployment benefits, Schumer rolled the dice on total party unity — and succeeded.

“If anyone thought it was going to be just a smooth path without any bumps in the road, they don't know how big and important this legislation is and how diverse our caucus is," Schumer said Saturday.

Schumer said he never doubted the package would pass. But its course was not pretty. At times Republicans insisted Biden had to lean heavily on Manchin to stay in the fold (they talked once) and that the Senate would have to recess for Democrats to reorganize after Friday's impasse. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) even predicted Democrats might have to swallow the Republican plan on unemployment benefits.

What did happen were multiple renegotiations between Schumer and his moderates, who forced three changes just this week to the House-passed bill. The Senate's version phases out stimulus checks to some middle-class earners and shifts around the unemployment benefits. Before the final vote, the chamber stalled out several times — including on Friday for what is now the longest vote in modern Senate history.

“This last 24 hours was really chaotic. If this was the first big test, I don’t think he … crushed it. It was a very undisciplined, unorganized process,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) of Schumer.

Yet Democrats argue that the public won't remember Friday's Manchin-infused delay, the partisan vote total or the bumpy process. They will remember that Schumer got Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Manchin to hang together for an economic relief bill that many in the party believe is the most progressive legislation in decades.

“Schumer gets a lot of credit,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who said Saturday was his best day as a senator in his 14-year career. “Democrats realized it doesn’t matter how the Senate lines up. What matters is to deliver what the public wants.”

Throughout the process, Schumer stayed in close contact with Biden, often talking to the president multiple times a day or to White House chief of staff Ron Klain. And 20 minutes after the rescue package passed the Senate, Biden called the majority leader personally to thank him.

After the call, Schumer appeared in as good a mood as he’s been in since thwarting Obamacare’s repeal during the Trump administration. In the interview, he propped his shoe-less feet up on an ottoman as he parried questions. Biden showered praise on him later: "When the country needed you most, Chuck, you led."


And while Schumer may not have had doubts, I certainly did. I've been hard on Schumer over the years and he has dropped the ball time and again. But not this time. This time, he came through.


Kentucky Cancel Culture

The GOP supermajority here in Kentucky's state legislature is headed for a grim harvest of really stupid legislation headed for veto overrides and becoming law even besides the purely political attempt to impeach and remove Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear from office over COVID-19 regulations.

A Republican-led legislative panel dismissed two petitions Friday calling for Gov. Andy Beshear’s impeachment but kept alive another effort by citizens seeking the Democrat’s ouster for his restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

The rejected petitions were the latest in a flurry of filings aiming to unseat prominent political leaders in Kentucky, an unprecedented phenomenon in the state’s recent history. Another pending petition targets the state’s Republican attorney general.

The two anti-Beshear petitions were dismissed for failing to meet statutory requirements, said Republican Rep. Jason Nemes, the committee chairman.

But the House panel renewed its request for more information from Beshear as it reviews the remaining petition, the first one filed against the governor, Nemes said. Just four Kentuckians signed that petition, though one of them signaled he wants to withdraw. All three petitions claim the governor improperly infringed on individual rights with his coronavirus-related orders.

Kentucky’s Supreme Court ruled last year that the governor had the authority to put restrictions on businesses and individuals to try to contain the coronavirus.

The House impeachment panel previously sought information from Beshear on how his virus-related ban on mass gatherings last spring was temporarily enforced against churches, a move that especially angered conservatives. The committee resubmitted its request Friday that the governor turn over emails, phone logs or other communications related to that order.

In his letter to the governor’s lawyer, Nemes said the records “may be subpoenaed” if necessary. The lack of those records has “delayed the process,” Nemes said.

Beshear’s office said a response will be submitted Monday. His general counsel previously replied that the “extraneous information” being sought “cannot form the basis for impeachment.”

The impeachment frenzy reflects a willingness by some Kentuckians to shatter long-established political norms in an increasingly bitter political divide. It follows closely on the heels of the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Beshear says there are “zero grounds” for his removal and maintains his COVID-19 orders have saved lives. He portrays the petitioners seeking his ouster as anti-government extremists.

Information compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows that Kentucky has recorded 87.7 deaths per 100,000 people, the 42nd highest per-capita rate nationally and better than neighboring states.

I'm definitely used to Kentucky being 42nd in the nation out of 50 states in basically every conceivable category and criteria, but for once it's a good thing. And as far as getting rid of Beshear, well, that just makes Lt. Gov. Jackie Coleman the person in charge.

A bill moving through Kentucky's Senate would make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer during a riot. Supporters say the bill targets people who unlawfully "cross the line" but opponents call it a blatant attempt to crush protests and a violation of First Amendment rights.

Senate Bill 211 mandates up to three months' imprisonment for a person who "accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words," or makes "gestures or other physical contact that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person."

A person convicted of this misdemeanor charge could also face a $250 fine and be disqualified from public assistance benefits for three months.

The bill also has a provision pushing back on the "defund the police" movement, stating that government entities that fund law enforcement agencies must "maintain and improve their respective financial support."

The bill advanced through the Senate's Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection committee on Thursday in a 7-3 vote, with only Republicans supporting it. It now moves to the full Senate and could be passed there as early as next week, and would then need to be passed in the House. Republicans control both chambers of Kentucky's legislature.

CBS News requested comment from state Senator David Carroll, a Republican and retired police officer who is the bill's lead sponsor. Following publication of this story, he wrote in an email, "After looking at you're headline, I don't think I have anything to say to you. I miss the time when we actually had unbiased journalists!!" [SIC]

CBS News also reached out to the staff of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat.

Carroll told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the bill is a response to riots that broke out in many cities across the country last summer. Louisville was an epicenter for racial justice protests due to the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in March 2020 during a raid of her home by Louisville police officers.

"This country was built on lawful protest, and it's something that we must maintain — our citizens' right to do so," Carroll told the Courier-Journal. "What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts."

The ACLU of Kentucky called the legislation "an extreme bill to stifle dissent" and said it would criminalize free speech.
I mean this is almost certainly going to pass, and almost certainly going to be tied up in the courts for years, and maybe that's the point. It's definitely designed to punish Black Kentuckians specifically in response to the Breonna Taylor protests, criminalizing them at the pleasure of police and allowing the state to kick people off "public assistance" for three months to put us in our place, I guess. 

When I say Republicans are white supremacist fascist assholes, this is what I mean.

Unfair And Definitely Unbalanced

After years of effectively being the propaganda arm of the Republican party pretending to be "news", FOX News is making it official, with CEO Lachlan Murdoch declaring the network's sole purpose to be the "loyal opposition" to the Biden administration.

Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch said Thursday it is the job of Fox News to serve as the opposition to the Biden administration, stating clearly the political biases of a network that until 2017 billed itself as "fair and balanced."

Speaking at a Morgan Stanley investor conference, Murdoch said Fox News stood to benefit from Biden's presidency because the network would act as "the loyal opposition" to his administration.

"The main beneficiary of the Trump administration from a ratings point of view was MSNBC... and that’s because they were the loyal opposition," Murdoch said of the rival cable network. "That’s what our job is now with the Biden administration, and you’ll see our ratings really improve from here."

A spokesperson for NBCUniversal News Group, which includes both NBC News and MSNBC, said in response that "our role, and the role of any legitimate news organization — whether it includes an 'opinion section' or not — is to hold power to account, regardless of party." NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News.

Murdoch's remark is an on-the-record acknowledgement of something that has long been obvious to fans and critics but never stated so publicly by the executive leadership itself — that Fox News is firmly aligned with Republicans and the right and intends to use its platform to fight against Democrats.

Fox News has sought to cater to a conservative audience since Lachlan's father Rupert Murdoch launched the cable channel in 1996 under the leadership of Roger Ailes, the network's CEO for two decades. But up until 2017, even as its opinion hosts showed a clear bias against Democrats, Fox News billed itself as a "fair and balanced" news organization.

Fox News became an unapologetic bastion of pro-Trump rhetoric over the last five years and often downplayed negative news about Trump, choosing instead to attack his critics or stoke conservative angst about progressivism.

Many of the most notable hosts of Fox News and Fox Business Network also embraced the president's lies and conspiracy theories. Three of those individuals -- Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro -- have been named in a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit brought by voting technology company Smartmatic over false statements they made while trying to cast doubt on the integrity of the 2020 election. All three of them have filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit.

Murdoch made the remark after being asked about the network's ratings, which took a hit following the 2020 election. "Our audience was disappointed with the election results," he acknowledged, adding that the ratings had already started to normalize and would continue to go up.
Saves him the trouble of defending the place as a news outlet. It's propaganda, and it should be treated as such.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Last Call For Block This Tweet

Apparently, Republicans are such bastions of freedom that they want to legislate that the final word on banning social media accounts for violating terms of service through violent rhetoric or racist/sexist language would solely be up to...let me check my notes here..."The Attorney General of the Great State of Arkansas."

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced legislation on Thursday that would limit who social media platforms can block from their platforms. This comes as GOP lawmakers across the country rally against big tech platforms.

The AR Voices: Combating Cancel Culture and Protecting Freedom of Speech bill states that social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and others would be held liable for damages when they unfairly censoring or banning someone. The bill goes on to say if the websites do not act in “good faith” they will have violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and can be held accountable by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.

“Cancel culture cannot become the norm in Arkansas, especially when our Freedom of Speech in rural America is in jeopardy,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This legislation would allow everyone, no matter the circumstances to have an equal and fair opportunity to post online and if a social media giant does not comply, the company can be held accountable.”

In Arkansas, each violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act could result in injunctions and civil penalties of up to $10,000.

Sen. Ricky Hill, R-Cabot, and Rep. Brian Evans, R- Cabot are cosponsoring HB 1647.

Republicans have called out social media platforms for censoring conservatives and showing bias in taking accounts down; especially after Facebook and Twitter suspended former President Donald Trump's accounts in January after he was accused of invoking an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In 2018, a Republican Arkansas representative proposed a bill that would allow social media websites to be sued for removing certain religious and political posts, whether or not the platforms deem the posts to be hate speech. But the bill was withdrawn days later.

So if the Attorney General of Arkansas determines a Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc. account was disabled without acting in "good faith", whatever that means is apparently solely up to the AG under this statute, then a $10,000 fine per account blocked, because as we all know the Republican party only exists in 2021 to serve Donald Trump's white supremacist cult of violence. 

This is really all about revenge, with enough red states passing legislation like this, social media companies would be liable for millions in civil damages for blocking racist Republicans...but only Republicans. I'm betting Leslie Rutledge here wouldn't mind a bit if anyone left of Susan Collins was banned from Twitter or yanked from Facebook.

In the end, the GOP want to make sure their voices are heard...and ours are silenced. It's what fascists do, folks.

A Supreme Disappointment, Con't

Supreme Court Justice Amy Comey Barrett is going to be handing down decisions for decades, and nobody should be surprised that her first missive is substantially rolling back what can be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, because apparently the First Amendment isn't goddamn Constitutional enough.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett penned her first Supreme Court majority opinion on Thursday, writing a 7-2 decision that will shield federal agencies from having to disclose certain materials under an exception to the Freedom of Information Act. 
Barrett's debut majority opinion came in a case that was the first she heard as a justice, back on November 2. 
The case at hand concerned FOIA, a law designed to allow the public greater access to records from the government. It mandates the disclosure of documents held by a federal agency unless they fall within certain exceptions. 
On Thursday, the court narrowed the category of documents subject to release, dealing a loss to those seeking more government transparency and who argue that FOIA was meant to lift the curtain and give the public insight into a government's decision-making process. 
The Sierra Club and other groups had brought the challenge, seeking more information about an Environmental Protection Agency 2014 rule concerning the operation of cooling water intake structures and whether they would hurt protected species. 
Specifically, the groups sought records related to the US Fish and Wildlife Service's and National Marine Fisheries Service's consultations with the EPA. Although the services turned over thousands of documents, they invoked the "deliberative process privilege" for some draft opinions. 
"The deliberative process privilege protects the draft biological opinions at issue here because they reflect a preliminary view -- not a final decision -- about the likely effect of the EPA's proposed rule on endangered species," Barrett wrote. She said the drafts by the agencies never had final approval, hadn't been sent to the EPA and were "predecisional and deliberative."
Never ask how the sausage is made, it's "predecisional and deliberative". Disappointed in Elena Kagan, too, as she joined the six conservatives.
Still, expect decades of this from Barrett.

It's About Stopping Suppression

House Democrats have passed HR 1, the For The People act, a major reform package of voting rights and security measures that the party of white supremacist voter suppression all voted against, and a bill that has no chance whatsoever against the GOP Senate filibuster.

The House late Wednesday night passed expansive legislation to create uniform national voting standards, overhaul campaign finance laws and outlaw partisan redistricting, advancing a centerpiece of the Democratic voting rights agenda amid fierce Republican attacks that threaten to stop it cold in the Senate.

The bill, titled the “For the People Act,” was given the symbolic designation of H.R. 1 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and it largely mirrors a bill passed two years ago in the early weeks of the House Democratic majority.

This year, however, the bill has taken on additional significance because of the new Democratic majority in the Senate and President Biden’s November win, as well as the efforts underway in dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures to roll back voting access in reaction to former president Donald Trump’s loss and his subsequent campaign to question the election results.

Democrat after Democrat said this week that the GOP’s state-level efforts made it more important than ever to act at the federal level to preserve expansive voting laws. Many invoked the gains won in the 1960s civil rights movement by activists including John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat who died of cancer last year.

“The right to vote is under attack,” said Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.). “Voter suppression is alive and well. Old battles have become new again. The legacy of the foot soldiers like John Lewis requires that we pick up that baton — the baton of voter access, the baton of voter equality — and we continue the next leg. Their cause is now our cause, too.”

The bill’s voting provisions would guarantee no-excuse mail voting and at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections; require states to use their existing government records to automatically register citizens to vote; restore voting rights to felons who have completed their prison sentences; and mandate the use of paper ballots.

Other provisions would create new disclosure requirements for “dark money” donations to political groups; require states to appoint independent commissions to draw congressional districts; and create new federal standards for election equipment vendors.

The bill also would require tech platforms to disclose political advertising information; establish a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices for the first time; restructure the Federal Election Commission to an odd number of members to break partisan deadlocks; and require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

The bill has become a lightning rod for Republican opposition, spurring claims that it is a partisan attempt to rewrite federal election laws in Democrats’ favor. No Republicans voted for the bill in 2019 or Wednesday night, when it was approved 220 to 210
Republicans will do everything they can to stop this bill in the Senate, because if they don't, they're done. And even if by some miracle the bill does pass, I guarantee you that the Roberts Court will strike it down saying that the federal government has no business telling states how to run federal elections.
Go figure.
The key here it to watch who blames the Democrats for this bill failing. The bill will absolutely fail because every single Republican will vote against it. This will happen until something is done about the filibuster, which will never happen, and Dems will lose the House and Senate in 2022 when they are blamed instead of the Republicans who will sink every bill in the Senate.

And so it goes.




Thursday, March 4, 2021

Last Call For The Most Corrupt Couple

Mitch McConnell certainly remains one of the most corrupt people in Washington, but his wife, former Dubya Labor Secretary and Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is just as bad. Turns out the Trump regime sat on an inspector general's report that Chao was so corrupt that she was referred to the Justice Department for prosecution, something of course Bill Barr ignored.

While serving as transportation secretary during the Trump administration, Elaine Chao repeatedly used her office staff to help family members who run a shipping business with extensive ties to China, a report released Wednesday by the Transportation Department’s inspector general concluded.

The inspector general referred the matter to the Justice Department in December for possible criminal investigation. But in the weeks before the end of Trump administration, two Justice Department divisions declined to do so.

Ms. Chao, the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced her resignation on Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol riot. At the time of her departure, an aide to Ms. Chao said her resignation was unrelated to the inspector general’s investigation.

The investigation of Ms. Chao came after a 2019 report in The New York Times that detailed her interactions with her family while serving as transportation secretary, including a trip she had planned to take to China in 2017 with her father and sister. The inspector general’s report confirmed that the planning for the trip, which was canceled, raised ethics concerns among other government officials.

As transportation secretary, Ms. Chao was the top Trump administration official overseeing the American shipping industry, which is in steep decline and is being battered by Chinese competitors.

“A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” Mitch Behm, the Transportation Department’s deputy inspector general, said to House lawmakers on Tuesday in a letter accompanying a 44-page report detailing the investigation into “use of public office for private gain.”

The investigators did not make a formal finding that Ms. Chao violated ethics rules. But they detailed more than a dozen instances where her office took steps to handle matters related to her father, who built up a New York-based shipping company after immigrating to the United States from Taiwan in the late 1950s, and to her sister, who runs the company now.

These included an interview with a Chinese-language television station at the New York City headquarters of Foremost Group, the shipping company. The focus of the conversation there, according to a Transportation Department translation of the media plan prepared for the interview, was to discuss how Ms. Chao’s father, James Chao, had been “dubbed ‘Chinese Ship King,’ how Foremost Group ‘ascended to its status in the world,’ and Dr. Chao’s business endeavors.”

Mr. Chao, 93, who was born in China, built a business that centered around transporting commodities like coal and iron ore to the Chinese market. Elaine Chao, his eldest daughter, who was raised in and around New York City, has been prominent in Republican politics for decades, including an eight-year term as labor secretary under President George W. Bush.
Foremost Group was responsible as of 2019 for a large portion of orders at one of China’s biggest state-funded shipyards, and had secured long-term charters with a Chinese state-owned steel maker, The Times reported.

The Chao family’s American success story has vaulted the family to celebrity status in China, and the Chaos regularly meet with top officials on their trips to the country.

In a statement on Wednesday, a public relations firm representing Ms. Chao said the report cleared her of any wrongdoing.

“This report exonerates the secretary from baseless accusations and closes the book on an election-year effort to impugn her history-making career as the first Asian-American woman appointed to a president’s cabinet and her outstanding record as the longest tenured cabinet member since World War II,” the statement said.

Turns out the reason the Trump regime screamed about "Biden crime family's corrupt China deals!" for years was because the wife of the Senate Majority Leader was actually the one getting rich off Beijing for herself and her family.

That's how all this works, you see.

Another Head For The Blue Dog Wall

After Joe Manchin claimed his trophy of Neera Tanden's head earlier this week, it looks like California Attorney General Xavier Becerra may be going down in flames as well, after the Senate Finance Committee deadlocked 14-14 on his nomination as Health and Human Services Secretary.

The 14-14 party-line vote sent Becerra’s nomination to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for further action. Under new rules to deal with the 50-50 Senate split between the two parties, either can file a motion to bypass a tied committee and bring matters straight to the Senate floor with a separate procedural vote.

Becerra’s fate will depend on Senate Democrats’ ability to stick together and support him, possibly with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.

The defection of one moderate Democrat, Joe Manchin, derailed the nomination of Biden’s pick as budget director, Neera Tanden, especially given the lack of Republican support, but administration officials suggested that was an isolated case given lawmakers’ frustration over Tanden’s past tweets.

A spokesman for Manchin could not immediately be reached for comment on Becerra’s nomination.

Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the White House remained confident about Becerra’s ultimate confirmation.

“We certainly understood from the beginning that every nominee would not receive 93 votes, but we ... remain confident and confidently behind the nomination,” she told reporters.

The Finance Committee in the same session on Wednesday approved two other Biden nominees - Katherine Tai for U.S. Trade Representative and Wally Adeyemo for deputy Treasury secretary - by voice votes, indicating no significant opposition.

Two Finance Committee Republicans, Bill Cassidy and Mike Crapo, said on Wednesday they had opposed Becerra because of his lack of past healthcare experience and challenges as California attorney general to HHS authorities to grant religious conscience waivers to Obamacare mandates that coverage be provided for contraception.

“His qualifications to be HHS secretary seem to be minimal beyond suing HHS,” said Cassidy, who is a physician.

Psaki noted, however, that Cassidy also told Becerra “he’d bet he has the votes” to be confirmed.

Both Crapo and Cassidy said they would work with Becerra to lower healthcare costs if he won confirmation.
So, exactly like Tanden, Becerra has zero chance of getting any GOP votes, which means Joe Manchin can now have his head too if he wants it. Whether or not he will is a question for next week. And if Manchin doesn't bite, well, it's entirely possible that Kyrsten Sinema or another Democrat could lay down a big, big marker.

We'll see, but I have a bad feeling about it.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Capitol police are so concerned about the domestic terrorism chatter involving another Trump cultist attack on Democratic lawmakers that the House is not in session today as a precaution.

U.S. Capitol Police have intelligence that shows “a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group” on Thursday, nearly two months after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden's victory.

The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4. That was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20.

Capitol Police are “aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” they said in a statement Wednesday.

Capitol Police already have upgraded security and increased patrols, they said. No specific information on the threat was released.

The U.S. House on Wednesday was working to wrap up for the week given the threat of violence at the Capitol. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer notified lawmakers late Wednesday of the sudden schedule change.

The decision was made given the threats on the Capitol, according to a Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the matter. The House had been scheduled to be in session Thursday, but moved up consideration of its remaining legislative item, the George Floyd Justice in Police Act, to Wednesday night.

Capitol Police received “new and concerning information and intelligence” on Tuesday afternoon indicating “additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4th – 6th by a militia group,” Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett said in a message Wednesday morning to members of Congress.

Blodgett said earlier this week that additional personnel would be posted on Capitol grounds as a precaution on Thursday because of a conspiracy theory about the significance of the date. He said at the time that there was no indication that groups would travel to D.C. or commit acts of violence.

Members of Congress and staff members were asked to carry identification, report any threats or suspicious activity, and keep emergency numbers on hand.
As FBI Director Chris Wray warned on Tuesday, the threat of white supremacist domestic terrorism remains both real and widespread.

FBI Director Chris Wray bluntly labeled the January riot at the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorism” Tuesday and warned of a rapidly growing threat of homegrown violent extremism that law enforcement is scrambling to confront through thousands of investigations.

Wray also defended to lawmakers his own agency's handling of an intelligence report that warned of the prospect for violence on Jan. 6. And he firmly rejected false claims advanced by some Republicans that anti-Trump groups had organized the deadly riot that began when a violent mob stormed the building as Congress was gathering to certify results of the presidential election.

Wray's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, his first before Congress since the insurrection, was the latest in a series of hearings centered on the law enforcement response to the Capitol insurrection. Lawmakers pressed him not only about possible intelligence and communication failures ahead of the riot but also about the threat of violence from white supremacists, militias and other extremists that the FBI says it is prioritizing with the same urgency as the menace of international terrorism organizations.

“Jan. 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away anytime soon,” Wray told lawmakers. “At the FBI, we’ve been sounding the alarm on it for a number of years now.”

The violence at the Capitol made clear that a law enforcement agency that remade itself after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to deal with international terrorism is now laboring to address homegrown violence by white Americans. President Joe Biden’s administration has tasked his national intelligence director to work with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to assess the threat. And in applying the domestic terrorism label to conduct inside the Capitol, Wray sought to make clear to senators that he was clear-eyed about the scope and urgency of the threat.

Wray said the number of domestic terrorism investigations has increased from around 1,000 when he became FBI director in 2017 to about 2,000 now. The number of white supremacist arrests has almost tripled, he said.
Everyone knew this was coming. Now that it's here, Republicans are doing their dead level best to pretend otherwise. Meanwhile, their cultist minions circle like sharks, looking for opportunities to ambush Democratic lawmakers.  It won't be long before the attacks start mounting outside the Beltway, too.


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Last Call For Can't Get No Relief

Senate Democrats are struggling to keep all 50 on board for Biden's American Rescue Plan, while Senate Republicans are doing everything they can to delay the bill as long as possible in hopes that it falls apart and that they can blame Democrats for the suffering.

President Biden has agreed to narrow eligibility for a new round of $1,400 stimulus payments in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, a concession to moderate Senate Democrats as party leaders moved Wednesday to lock down support and finalize the sweeping legislation.

Under the new structure, the checks would phase out faster for those at higher income levels, compared to the way the direct payments were structured in Biden’s initial proposal and the version of the bill passed by the House on Saturday.

The change came as the Senate prepared to take an initial procedural vote to move forward on the bill as early as Wednesday evening. Biden and Senate Democratic leaders were scrambling to keep their caucus united since they cannot lose a single Democrat in the 50-50 Senate if Republicans unite against the legislation.

In addition to the stimulus checks, the sweeping economic package would also extend unemployment benefits through August, as well as set aside $350 billion for state and local aide; $130 billion for schools; $160 billion for vaccinations, testing and other health care system support; an enhanced child tax credit and other provisions including rental aid and food assistance.

At least one Senate Republican -- Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska) -- appeared open to considering a vote in favor of the legislation, telling reporters, “My state needs relief.” Elsewhere, though, GOP opposition was hardening, as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) announced plans to force Senate officials to read the entire 600-page-plus bill aloud before debate could even begin -- a process he predicted would take around 10 hours.

“I don’t want to sound like a leftist, but I’m gonna resist,” Johnson told a talk radio host in Wisconsin.

Under the plan for stimulus checks passed by the House, individuals earning up to $75,000 per year and couples making up to $150,000 per year would qualify for the full $1,400 payment. The size of the payments would then begin to scale down before zeroing out for individuals making $100,000 per year and couples making $200,000.

Under the changes agreed to by Biden and Senate Democratic leadership, individuals earning $75,000 per year and couples earning $150,000 would still receive the full $1,400-per-person benefit. However, the benefit would disappear for individuals earning more than $80,000 annually and couples earning more than $160,000.

That means singles making between $80,000 and $100,000 and couples earning between $160,000 and $200,000 would be newly excluded from seeing any benefit under the revised structure Biden agreed to.
There's no real good reason to limit who gets checks even further, but moderate Blue Dogs like Joe Manchin and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire are insisting that the limits be changed and the money that would have gone to upper middle class folks be given to hospitals and schools for vaccination help instead.

The good news is that Republicans like Lisa Murkowski may sign on to the bill, yay!  The bad news is nobody should really give a single damn about what anyone rancid enough to remain in the Trump white supremacist party has to say.

So, we'll see. Personally I want to see someone call Manchin's bluff and make him personally responsible for sinking this bill, but the stakes are too high. People are going to hurt badly without this money. We can't afford gamesmanship here.

But Senators are going to Senate.

Texas Goes Very Viral, Con't

In a brilliant effort to make Texans stop hating him over the power and water issues in the state, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is lifting all COVID-19 regulations for people, businesses, and schools effective next Wednesday, so they'll hate him for killing tens of thousands of Texans over the next couple of months instead.

"It is now time to open Texas 100%," said Gov. Greg Abbott this afternoon, signaling the ease of COVID-19 restrictions.

Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100 percent and the mask mandate will be lifted, the governor stated as part of his executive order to rescind previous orders.

While Abbott acknowledged the virus isn't going away, he insisted the state is far better equipped to fight COVID-19 than a year ago thanks to vaccines.

Late last week, the Texas governor indicated an announcement is coming "pretty soon" on whether he'll relax current COVID-19 mandates, including one in effect since last July that requires masks in public.

"We're working right now on evaluating when we're gonna be able to remove all statewide orders, and we will be making announcements about that pretty soon," Abbott said during a news conference in Corpus Christi last Thursday.

Abbott's announcement took place inside a locally-owned Mexican restaurant in the Lubbock area.

"We don't want to continue to prevent people from doing what they want to do. But let's get down to a good level," Fauci said in an interview on "Face the Nation." "Let's get many, many more people vaccinated. And then you could pull back on those types of public health measures. But right now, as we're going down and plateauing, is not the time to declare victory because we're not victorious yet."

While there has been a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations since early January, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned Friday that the declines could be stalling at a high number, which she said was a "very concerning shift in the trajectory." As of Friday, the seven-day average is just under 73,000 new infections, according to the CDC.

While Fauci said the fall in coronavirus cases was "really sharp and encouraging," he agreed a plateau of around 70,000 new cases per day is "concerning."

"That's exactly the thing that happened during previous surges," he said. "As it peaked and started to come down, people withdrew some of the intensity of the public health measures and it kind of stabilized at a very high level. That's very dangerous."

Fauci stressed Americans should continue to comply with public health measures such as wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings and social distancing. He said the leveling off in new cases also underscores the need to vaccinate as many people "as quickly and as expeditiously as you possibly can."

"That's why adding yet again another really good vaccine into the mix is really very important," he said.


So expect to see another spike in COVID cases in March and hospitalizations and deaths in April. Hopefully Texas won't suffer too badly in the meantime, but I'm betting with zero mask and social distancing mandates, the spike will be rapid and devastating and very obvious to officials by April 1.

Sorry, Texas friends.  Your 2021 is only going to get worse.

Georgia On Trump's Mind, Con't

Fulton County, Georgia DA Fani Willis's election fraud case against Donald "find me those votes" Trump is headed to an Atlanta grand jury this week.

Fulton County prosecutors are expected to appear before a grand jury this week seeking subpoenas for documents and witnesses related to their investigation of former President Donald Trump and some of his top associates for possible election fraud, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

Legal experts are split as to whether there’s a strong case to be made, but most agree Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s election results merit greater scrutiny. Fani Willis, Fulton’s new district attorney, has said she’s prepared to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Some believe the recording of Trump’s Jan. 2 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger leaning on him to “find” the votes to reverse Joe Biden’s win is grounds to move forward.

“If there were a textbook (example of) how to commit criminal election fraud, this would be it,” said Atlanta attorney David Walbert, who has represented Fulton County and the state of Georgia in several elections and redistricting cases.

Longtime criminal defense attorney Don Samuel believes the matter isn’t cut-and-dried.

“You’ve got to prove not only that he encouraged the secretary of state to commit a crime, but that he did so willfully and aware that what he was doing was illegal,” said Samuel, whose high-profile clients have included football stars Ray Lewis and Ben Roethlisberger and attorney Claud “Tex” McIver. That “is kind of an uphill battle, it seems to me, when you’re surrounded by lawyers when you’re making the call.”

Willis, an experienced prosecutor admired even by courtroom adversaries, said during a recent interview that she has no choice but to investigate.

“Nobody is above the law,” she said.
Nobody is above the law, but the law changes depending on who's enforcing it.
Needless to say, watch Georgia Republicans carefully on this one.  This is still Georgia, and if the grand jury goes badly, Republicans will keep their mouths shut. But if the proceedings turn into what I think will happen -- a viable case for indicting Donald Trump -- then the GOP will unleash its full fury against her, and I even expect Gov. Brian Kemp to try to remove her from office somehow.
And also, there's the very real possibility that violence, possibly lethal violence, mind you, could be employed. After the attempted January 6th coup, all bets are off as to what happens.
But you'd better believe Georgia is on Trump's mind, and the attacks on Willis will start very, very soon.


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Last Call For Operation Rehabilitation

There will always be one place where having a Trump regime job on the resume will actually help getting you hired, and that's the right-wing noise machine at FOX News.

Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany will officially join Fox News as an on-air commentator, the network announced Tuesday.

The news, which was announced by Fox News host Harris Faulkner, comes after weeks during which the network had equivocated about McEnany's role at the network.

"It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Kayleigh McEnany to the Fox family," Faulkner said. "We will be seeing much more of her."

A spokesperson for Fox News declined to comment beyond Faulkner's statements.

McEnany, a former CNN contributor, was a spokesperson for Trump's 2020 re-election campaign and took on the role of White House press secretary last spring. She told reporters as she took the job: "I will never lie to you."

That promise quickly became the subject of criticism, as McEnany routinely defended and promoted misleading statements made by then-President Donald Trump. McEnany proved to be one of Trump's most ardent defenders during the election, with Fox News at one point cutting away from a press conference she held in early November in which she pushed false claims of voting irregularities.

McEnany is the latest person to walk through the revolving door between Fox News and the Trump White House: Sarah Sanders, another former press secretary, joined Fox News before leaving to eye a run for Arkansas governor. Larry Kudlow, Trump's former economic director, recently joined Fox Business Network where he hosts his own show. Hope Hicks, Trump's longtime communications director, also joined Fox News' parent company, Fox Corp., in 2018 to serve as its executive vice president and chief communications officer. She later returned to the Trump White House.
As the Big Lie machine gears up for attacking Biden and the Dems and supporting Trump through his legal woes, the familiar faces of Trump's propaganda corps on FOX will put them back on top. It's what the cultists want, and it's what they'll get.
Kayleigh the professional liar only changed who signs her paychecks, not her job. 

But I bet there's an extra zero on the salary at the new gig.

It's About Suppression, Con't

Georgia state House Republicans have passed their raft of voter suppression measures to make sure Black turnout can never again approach what it was in November and January.

A bill to restrict ballot drop boxes, require more ID for absentee voting and limit weekend early voting days passed the Georgia House on Monday amid protests that the proposals would make it harder for voters to participate in democracy.

The House voted along party lines, 97-72, on the sweeping elections bill supported by Republicans who want to impose new voting requirements after losing presidential and U.S. Senate races in Georgia.

Democrats opposing the legislation said it creates obstacles for voting that will do more to reduce turnout than increase election security.

The bill now heads to the state Senate, where a committee voted Monday to end no-excuse absentee voting, which would require most voters to cast ballots in person. That legislation could receive a vote in the full Senate within days.

Georgia is at the center of a nationwide debate over election access and security, brought on by Republican Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud. Election officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, have said there’s no evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the election, and the results were verified by recounts and audits.

During a 2 1/2-hour debate in the Georgia House, state Rep. Kimberly Alexander said the bill would lead to voter suppression by creating hurdles to casting a ballot.

“Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly are trying to change the rules of the election here in Georgia, rules that you wrote, because you were handed defeat,” said Alexander, a Democrat from Hiram. “You know that your only chance of winning future elections is to prevent Georgians from having their votes counted and their voices heard.”

But Republican legislators said their proposals will build voters’ trust in elections after it was shaken by members of their own political party. Their policies would put new limits on absentee voting, used by a record 1.3 million Georgians in the presidential election, two-thirds of whom voted for Democrat Joe Biden.

Legislative Republicans who supported Trump’s claims have not contested the results of their own General Assembly elections.

“Our goal in this bill is to make sure that Georgia’s election results get back quickly and accurately,” said state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem. “The way we begin to restore confidence in our voting system is by passing this bill. There are many commonsense measures improving elections in this bill.”

Other backers of the bill said it would help prevent the possibility of fraud and create consistency across the state in voting access and funding.

Protesters waved signs and chanted “no voter suppression” at the Capitol on Monday, making their voices heard as legislators prepared to vote. A previous protest on Friday led to a confrontation when an officer grabbed Democratic state Rep. Park Cannon’s arm after she stood in front of an officer’s bullhorn.

“This bill is going against all the accessibility that makes voting possible by removing absentee and early voting hours,” said Regine Shabazz, an Atlanta resident protesting at Liberty Plaza outside the Capitol.

Limits on absentee voting will harm the poor and those without transportation to polling places, said Melissa McCollum of Gainesville who was in the group of protesters.

“We have proven again and again that our election was fair and not compromised, so why are they trying to reduce voting rights? I don’t get it,” McCollum said.


There's not much to get. It's voter suppression of Black voters in a Southern state in service to white supremacy. It's a tale as old as America itself.

It's all the GOP has left.

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