Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Last Call For The Vax Of Life, Con't

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is begging tourists to stay away from the islands as the state is suffering a wildfire pandemic of COVID delta brought on by visitors.

In a news conference on Monday, Ige encouraged visitors and residents to reduce travel to essential business activities.

“It is a risky time to be traveling right now,” Ige said, adding, “It is not a good time to travel to the islands.”

The governor warned that tourists would not have the “typical holiday” they expect when visiting the islands due to restrictions including limited restaurant capacity and limited access to rental cars.

“I encourage everyone to restrict and curtail travel to Hawaii, residents and visitors alike. It is not a good time to travel to the islands.”

In a separate statement, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said residents and visitors should delay nonessential travel through the end of October.

Ige’s comments come as the state has struggled to deal with a rise in coronavirus infections.

Elizabeth Char, director of Hawaii’s Department of Health, said in a statement that the surge was due to community followed by residents flying to hot spot areas and traveling home.

“If things do not change, our health care systems will be crippled and those needing medical care for all types of diseases, injuries and conditions, including our visitors, may find it difficult to get the treatment they need right away,” Char said.

Hawaii has reported 9,389 new coronavirus infections in the past two weeks, according to state data. The state has reported 56,670 new cases since the pandemic began, and 564 cumulative deaths.
It's not like Texas or Florida, where Republican governors are getting help from neighboring states, it's Hawaii, where the closest land is the California coast some 2,400 miles away. This is all taking place at the height of Hawaii's tourist season, too.

Stay home, America.  It's not April 2020.

It's worse.

It's About Suppression, Con't

North Carolina, like all Southern states, makes convicted felons have to jump through various hoops to have their voting rights restored once they have served their time, and most Southern states make those hoops so onerous that getting the right to vote back is nearly impossible. Republicans have long used the tactic to harm Black voters in order to keep them off the voter rolls for life after serving prison time for a felony.

Judges have restored voting rights to an estimated 55,000 North Carolinians on parole or probation for a felony, according to a lawyer for the people who challenged the law that has kept them from voting.

GOP state lawmakers, who were defending the law in court, plan to appeal Monday’s ruling to a higher court. But if the ruling is upheld on appeal, then people convicted of felonies in North Carolina will regain their right to vote once they leave prison.

“Everyone on felony probation, parole or post-supervision release can now register and vote, starting today,” the challengers’ lawyer, Stanton Jones, said in a text message Monday morning after the ruling came down.

Most U.S. states allow people with felony records to regain their voting rights at some point after leaving prison, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Some have the same rules North Carolina had until Monday’s ruling, requiring people to first finish their probation or parole. But a larger number have the rules that the judges have now switched North Carolina to, with people regaining their rights as soon as they leave prison.

It’s the biggest expansion of voting rights in North Carolina since the 1960s, said Daryl Atkinson, co-director of Durham civil rights group Forward Justice and a lawyer for the challengers in this case.

“Our biggest quarrels in this state have been over what groups of people have a voice at the ballot box to be included in ‘We the People,’” Atkinson said at a press conference Monday, later adding: “Today, we enlarged the ‘we’ in ‘We the people’.”

The law’s challengers argued that felon disenfranchisement laws were explicitly created to stop Black people from voting in the years after the Civil War and coincided with a widespread campaign to accuse newly freed Black people of felonies — troubling trends, they said, which have continued into the current day.

Jones said in his opening arguments in the trial last week, The News & Observer reported, that while Black people make up 21% of North Carolina’s voting-age population, they are 42% of the people whose voting rights have been taken away because of this law — “which is no surprise because that’s exactly what it was designed to do,” he said.

Now, if Monday’s ruling survives on appeal, North Carolina will be the only state in the South to automatically restore voting rights to people after they leave prison.

The challengers who won the case had said that once people are out of prison, they’ve rejoined society and should have a say in how it’s run. Even if they’re on probation they still can pay taxes and send their kids to school — and thus should be able to vote on the people in charge of spending their taxes or running the schools, said Dennis Gaddy, who founded Community Success Initiative, a Raleigh group that helps former prison inmates rejoin society.

“They can’t advocate for themselves” without being able to vote, he said. “They can’t advocate for their communities. They can’t advocate for their families.”
In other words, the ruling from the NC judges are that there's no compelling reason to force felons who have served their time to keep them from being able to register to vote, and that doing so is a denial of the 14th Amendment. Republicans of course say they will have the ruling blocked awaiting appeal. 

Republicans want as few Americans to vote as possible.

What does that say about their ideas of "democracy"?

The Good Package, Con't

Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will never allow the $3.5 Good Package™ to pass as is, and she's letting everyone know that she determines its fate.

Kyrsten Sinema still opposes her party's plans for a $3.5 trillion, party-line spending bill. And she’s not up for a negotiation about it.

As House Democratic leaders hold back Sinema’s own Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill in order to push the Arizona Democrat and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support a multitrillion-dollar spending bill, Sinema is making it crystal clear that her mind can’t be changed. And that applies even as her own legislation becomes a bargaining chip in House Democrats’ internal discussions.

The $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill “is a historic win for our nation’s everyday families and employers and, like every proposal, should be considered on its own merits,” said Sinema spokesperson John LaBombard. “Proceedings in the U.S. House will have no impact on Kyrsten’s views about what is best for our country - including the fact that she will not support a budget reconciliation bill that costs $3.5 trillion.”

It’s the latest entrenched position from the first-term moderate, whose resistance to changing the Senate’s filibuster rules and to supporting a $3.5 trillion spending bill is enraging progressives. Sinema and Manchin both helped pass Democrats’ budget earlier this month, setting up that gargantuan spending bill, but both are resistant to a social spending package that ultimately meets its $3.5 trillion top line mark.

Sinema in particular specifically opposes that spending goal, which was devised by Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Senate Democrats need all 50 of their members, including Manchin and Sinema, to pass a filibuster-proof reconciliation spending bill.

On Sunday Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her members were still pursuing a bill that costs $3.5 trillion, but are hoping to finance it in part with tax enforcement and tax increases on the wealthy and corporations. Meanwhile, moderates in Pelosi's caucus are declining to back the Senate-passed budget unless Pelosi puts Sinema’s Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill up for a vote on the House floor.
Sinema isn't alone however...

In statement shortly after Sinema's, Manchin leaned on Pelosi and House leaders to act now on the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill instead of waiting for the Senate to pass a massive spending bill.

"It would send a terrible message to the American people if this bipartisan bill is held hostage. I urge my colleagues in the House to move swiftly to get this once in a generation legislation to the President’s desk for his signature," Manchin said.
Pelosi knows damn well that passing the smaller bipartisan bill means Sinema and Manchin will 100% kill the entire Good Package completely, but if she doesn't pass it, the Good Package is done for, and Dems lose it all.

Again, this is entirely on Democratic leadership: Pelosi and Schumer need to deliver the votes.

That's the job description, folks.


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