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Arizona GOP Senate doesn’t know WTF to do with ballots it demanded

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But of course, it’s about “election integrity,” right? So now the Arizona Senate has the November ballots that they demanded, but they don’t know what to do with them. For a group who says their actions are intended to inspire confidence in the voting process, not overturn the election results, this episode doesn’t help much, writes Laurie Roberts in The Arizona Republic.

Some background: “Stop the Steal” started here last December 19, organized by names you probably know, including Ali Alexander and Rep. Paul Gosar. Ever since that first protest at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix, where Gosar spoke (as he did on Jan. 6), the Arizona Senate has been demanding that Maricopa County election officials deliver to the Senate all of their ballots. After all, they whined, there’s no way Biden could beat Trump in Arizona, or Democrat Mark Kelly could defeat Martha McSally in the Senate race. Must be fraud! (Never mind that the polls had Biden and Kelly winning.)

At first the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BTW 4-1 Republican) told the Senate to take a flying leap, especially after two independent audits clarified that the count was accurate. That didn’t matter to Senators, though, because they didn’t oversee the count, so the Senate subpoenaed the ballots and if County officials did not turn them over, they could be arrested. Seriously. A judge finally stepped in over the weekend and ordered Maricopa County to comply with the subpoena.

Which the County did Monday—delivering 73 pallets stacked with 2.1 million ballots to the Senate chambers. That would be the same Senate that demanded the ballots, but now has no fucking clue what to do with them. They didn’t even have a plan to count the votes after it became known that they initially hired a firm with ties to Trump to conduct the audit, the same firm that had botched an earlier count.

On Jan. 29, the Senate announced that it had hired “an independent, qualified forensic auditing firm to analysis the 2020 election results” though [Senate President Karen] Fann quickly backtracked once the public got wind of the fact that her idea of “independent, qualified” auditors was Trump’s crack Allied Security crew.  

A Senate spokesperson asked Maricopa County officials why they delivered the ballots to the Senate, which doesn’t have the space or security to house them. Evidently, Senators expected the County to store the ballots and allow GOP auditors to access them there. No such luck, Senators: YOU demanded the ballots be delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee. YOU never asked the County to keep them. Read your own friggin’ subpoena! Besides, County officials say, they are currently preparing for another City election “and cannot permit unauthorized persons inside the election facility.”

Inspires confidence, indeed.      

Sen. Van Hollen Gets Debate Down to 3 Hours After All-Night Reading

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Wisconsin Q Senator Ron Johnson thought he’d pulled a fast one by requiring the Senate Clerks to read the 600+ page American Recovery Plan bill.  After VP Harris broke a 50-50 tie to begin debating the bill, Johnson and other Republican senators refused to waive the reading of the bill.  This spectacle wasn’t playing well to begin with, much less so that there were 20 hours of debate to follow.

Well, that 20 hours won’t be happening.  You see, at 2:05 AM Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) was in the chamber, with other Democrats, for the conclusion of the reading.  At the conclusion, he rose to change the debate from 20 hours to just 3.  Not one Republican, including Johnson, was around to contest.

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Now it’s onto the amendments process.  As of writing this, Bernie Sanders is debating re-adding the $15.00 minimum wage to the bill.

Republicans’ new strategy? Pointless obstruction.

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Georgia freshman Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene isn’t on any congressional committees. She was stripped of serving on them last month after a series of anti-Semitic and Islamaphobic comments she made prior to her time in Congress came out.So, Greene, a favorite of the Trump wing of the party, needed another way to create controversy and draw headlines. And she found it!On Wednesday, Greene filed a motion to adjourn the House — a procedural move that forces every member to come to the floor to cast a vote to keep Congress in session. She’s done the same thing repeatedly over the last few weeks.Why? Pointless delay. And grandstanding. (Of her most recent motion to adjourn, Greene tweeted this: “Some GOP members complained to me that I messed up their schedule. I’m not sorry for interrupting fundraising calls & breakfast. GOP voters are tired weak Rs.”)Content by DecluttrThere’s a cheaper and greener way to buy techDecluttr takes in all kinds of tech, refurbishes it till it’s good as new and sells it for a much more reasonable price compared to the market value.While an increasing number of her Republican colleagues are growing frustrated of Greene’s obstruction for obstruction’s sake, she is far from alone among congressional Republicans who seem to have settled on simply gumming up the works as their preferred strategy in the early days of the Biden administration.

Take Ron Johnson. The Wisconsin Republican senator signaled Wednesday that he plans to force a full reading of the massive $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus bill currently under consideration by the Senate, a procedural maneuver design to stall the eventual vote on the measure but without any goal beyond that. “I think that would be a good idea,” Johnson told CNN when asked about forcing a full reading of the hundreds of pages of the legislation. “We’re talking about $1.9 trillion … a stack of one billion dollars that would extend halfway past the distance to the moon. And we want to do this in a matter of hours? I don’t think that’s right.” THE POINT — NOW ON YOUTUBE!In each episode of his weekly YouTube show, Chris Cillizza will delve a little deeper into the surreal world of politics. Click to subscribe!Or Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who is slowing down the confirmation of Merrick Garland as the next attorney general because he didn’t like Garland’s answer on immigration policy. “Democrats are trying to expedite Judge Garland’s confirmation vote,” tweeted Cotton on Wednesday. “I’m blocking them because Judge Garland has refused to answer basic questions, including whether illegally entering the country should remain a crime.”None of these maneuvers will actually do anything. The Covid-19 bill will eventually get a vote and, if Democrats stay united, pass. The House isn’t going to randomly adjourn because of Greene’s antics. And Merrick Garland is very, very likely to be the next attorney general — whether he gets a confirmation vote this week or next week. (Cotton can only slow the proceedings so much.)

This is obstruction solely to obstruct. And while obstruction has a long history in Congress (the filibuster, hello), Republicans now are playing a different game than obstructers of the past.What they are engaging in is performative obstruction. People like Greene and Johnson and Cotton are purposely charging at windmills not in hopes of toppling them, but rather in hopes of ensuring that the party base (and its media enablers) see them charging at the windmill.What Greene is hoping to accomplish has nothing to do with adjourning the House. She wants Fox News (and Newsmax and Breitbart, etc.) to cover her forcing all of these members to come to the House floor and cast meaningless votes. She wants to send fundraising solicitations to her national donor base touting how she forced the vote. The more members grumble about it — especially Republican ones — the better for Greene. Yet more evidence she is sticking it to the corrupt political establishment! Or something.Ditto Cotton. What he’s trying to do is emerge sometime in the next four years as the logical heir to Donald Trump within the GOP — a spot currently filled by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. And what better way to do that than to troll the libs! Sure, Cotton is doing so with no real end goal — legislatively speaking — but that matters only if you believe accomplishing something (beyond raising his profile and some money) is important.Trump may no longer be in office, but his performative politics linger — and continue to inform how Republicans appear to be defining success in the Biden era.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/04/politics/marjorie-taylor-greene-ron-johnson-tom-cotton/index.html

Good News Roundup for Friday, March 5, 2021: Biden Still President

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Welcome 😄 to Friday’s Roundup of Good News!

Biden is still president, because March 4th hasn’t been the date of the inauguration for 80+ years or so, and so again, Biden has beaten the other guy in taking over the presidency.

This week Biden announced that there will be enough vaccine for the entire US adult population by the end of May. According to the CDC, as of Thursday, 82.6 million shots had gone into arms.

But FOX is talking about Potato Head going gender-free (it’s a potato!) and Dr. Seuss and the muppets, instead of talking about Biden’s agenda. They have tried calling Biden sleepy, they have tried questioning Dr. Jill Biden’s right to demand respect for her doctorate, and another right-wing group went after the Biden’s elderly dog.

I don’t think they’ve got much, do you? Not let’s-storm-the-Capitol stuff, anyway — and none of it is rational, although the Rs are not into rationality and logic.

Still, the forces of evil are there, and we don’t have that much time. So that’s the bad news. The good news is that our people are working hard, really hard. Pull up a chair at the Gnuville café and peruse the good news.


Regular Scheduled Programming

No one here is naïve; we are aware of the many who are fighting to destroy our country. Some of us expected it: the cheating, the lying, the chaos, and yes, even the attempts to cling to power despite the clear will of the people. But we are here to read the efforts and the positive results of those (including us and our fellow gnus) who are working so hard to save our country from those very bad people.  We are furious with them for what they are doing and we are letting them know.  Remember:

💚  There are more of us than there are of them.

💛 They are terrified when we organize.  THERE IS LOTS OF EVIDENCE THAT THEY ARE TERRIFIED!

💔 They want us to be demoralized. We have to keep demoralizing them. Name, blame and shame!  IT IS WORKING! WE HAVE EVIDENCE THAT THEY ARE DEMORALIZED!

💙 The best way to keep up your spirits is to fight. So, take the time to recharge your batteries, but find ways to contribute to the well-being of our country and our world.

🗽 Biden as President!🗽

Biden, Harris and their administration have been hard at work. I mean, really hard at work. I’ve got the entire briefing room links. Here are the last week’s posts at the White House briefing room.

👎 Out with the Bad, In with the Good 👍

Just a tiny sample.

Biden installs voting-rights heavy hitters at DoJ Tierney Sneed Talking Points Memo

Gavel, the Constitution and scales of justice.

President Biden has chosen for top positions at the Justice Department three advocates who have spent their lifetimes in the civil rights arena and the last four years in particular combatting the Trump-era’s most egregious assaults on democracy.

When then-President Trump put forward judicial nominees who had shown hostility to voting rights, Vanita Gupta organized the civil rights community pushback that helped sink the confirmations of at least two of them.

When the administration stood up a sketchy “election integrity” commission to validate Trump’s false voter fraud claims, Kristen Clarke spearheaded one of the early legal challenges that contributed to the panel’s eventual demise.

And when Trump hijacked the U.S. foreign policy apparatus to smear his 2020 presidential opponent, Pam Karlan testified in House impeachment proceedings about the implications that gambit had for democracy.

Not a Biden administration story, but still good news that belongs here: Trader Joe’s rehires employee who raised the alarm about COVID Maxwell Tani The Daily Beast

Trader Joe’s is reinstating an employee who was fired after criticizing the company’s COVID safety policies to the CEO, The Daily Beast has confirmed.

On Wednesday evening, the popular grocery chain offered to reinstate Ben Bonnema, an employee at one of the grocery chain’s New York stores who wrote a letter to CEO Dan Bane admonishing the company for not taking adequate safety measures to keep workers safe from COVID-19. His initial firing went viral on social media and received national news attention.

💣 Republicans in Disarray 💣

Mary Trump thinks her uncle will pretend to run again Sarah K. Burris, Raw Story

Speaking to Mehdi Hasan for his new MSNBC show, Dr. Trump explained that his political ventures have been extremely lucrative for the former president.

“It’s not that I don’t think he will,” Dr. Trump said about her uncle running in 2024. “I think he will pretend to, for sure. Think about how much money he made in the last few months. He made more since [President Joe] Biden won the election than he has in his entire life. I don’t think he will let that go so soon. But you’re right, there is no way he will put himself in the position of losing again. But the Republican Party seems determined to continue to keep him relevant.”

And as long as ex-president tRump has his grip on the R party, they are stuck.

Not even everyone at CPAC wants tRump E.J. Dionne, Washington Post

Yet if the CPAC conclave was a Trump revival, complete with a golden Trump statue, there was some quiet dissent just beneath the surface. When the results of the CPAC straw poll for 2024 came in, Trump received just 55 percent of the ballots. Imagine Tom Brady receiving 55 percent for MVP from Tampa Bay fans.

When protected by the secret ballot, the hard core was going a little soft. They cried “we love you,” but the eyes of nearly half of them were straying. Perhaps more on the right want to move on than will ever say so publicly.

Running second was Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, the functional favorite son for the weekend, at 21 percent. It’s a sign that Trump is, for now, blocking every other Republican hopeful’s way that no other candidate got more than 5 percent.

tRump is creating a PAC to take on members of the GOP that he doesn’t like Roger Sollenberger, Asawin Suebsaeng the Daily Beast

On Sunday, Donald Trump’s fundraising machine charged back to life after its January lull, blitzing fans with emails and texts on the heels of the ex-president’s CPAC keynote address, urging them to “donate” to “SAVE AMERICA!” It worked, netting Trump and his team more than $3 million off of that speech, according to an adviser, bringing the committee’s on-hand total north of $80 million.

That cash was divvied up between three political committees tied to the former commander-in-chief, two of them formed just days before he riled up the CPAC crowd packed into a ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. The new setup indicates that Trump is bent on raking in cash like someone who is mounting a run—or who wants to pressure anyone who thinks they can take him on. ✂️

Trump ditched his official candidate committee in favor of a nonconnected committee—a fundraising vehicle not tied to a candidate, party, or corporate interest—called MAGA PAC. It’s a move that will enable him to accept more money from individual contributors over a longer period of time. He can also carry on his tradition of self-enrichment, tapping the new PAC as a personal slush fund, including for hanging legal debts incurred as an officeholder and candidate.

Additionally, unlike a super PAC setup, this allows Trump to directly fund candidates of his choosing—a key part of his post-presidency ploy to retain the loyalty of politicians who might be tempted to move on from the MAGA era.

tRump wants to be worshipped, but I think he likes money more. I think most of these funds will find their way into his pockets (or get siphoned off by Kushner et al) so even the candidates tRump supports will be disappointed. 

The GOP is sending a copy of the Cat in the Hat to donors who give 25 or more Lachlan Markay Axios

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Different cat, different hat

The House Republicans’ campaign arm is offering donors copies of the Dr. Seuss classic “The Cat in the Hat,” seeking to capitalize on a new front in the culture war.

Why it matters: The offer, while gimmicky, shows how potent appeals to “cancel culture” can be for grassroots Republicans, even amid debates about more weighty policy matters like coronavirus relief and voting rights.

What’s happening: The National Republican Congressional Committee is sending the books to donors who give $25 to GOP efforts to retake the House. ✂️ 

The potency of this particular flashpoint was evident Thursday morning, when 11 of the top 12 best-selling books on Amazon were Dr. Seuss works

So many problems with the R argument. The Ds are not cancelling Dr. Seuss. It is Dr. Seuss Enterprises who decided to remove a few titles from their list (and not The Cat in the Hat). And, of course by sending a copy to every donor, the Rs are supporting Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the group responsible for kicking a few now-deemed-racist volumes off their sell list. But logic was never the Rs’ strong point, and it’s better for donors to get a copy of The Cat in the Hat as opposed to the usual R screed from authors such as tRump jr.

💙 Democrats Being Cool 💙 

Democrats have been passing cool stuff in the House. You know about the Covid relief bill and the Voting Rights bill. There’s also The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Robyn Penacchia Wonkette

Starting Monday of next week, Derek Chauvin — the officer who killed 46-year-old George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for several minutes — will stand trial in Minneapolis. This week, the House voted in favor of enacting reforms to prevent that kind of thing from happening again.

On Wednesday, the House passed Rep. Karen Bass’s (D-CA) very good George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, mostly along party lines, with one Republican voting for it accidentally, and Democrats Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Jared Golden of Maine (a state where there is ranked choice voting) voting against it. You may remember Jared Golden from last week, when he voted against the COVID relief package.

Among other necessary reforms, the act would bar racial and religious profiling, reform qualified immunity for law enforcement officers (making it easier for victims to sue police officers for violating their civil rights), ban certain no-knock warrants, ban chokeholds, redirect some funding to community-based policing programs, and establish a nationwide database of police misconduct.

💜 Unity? 💜

The country is more-or-less unified on certain things.

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📥 Actions You Can Take 📤

🌱Grass roots. Biden and Harris can do the top-down stuff, but we have to support from the bottom. I don’t know how to deprogram 75 million people, but some things have been written about, such as deep canvassing, and lots of people are talking about this. If you know someone (who did not storm the Capitol), then see if you can be pleasant. Instead of trying to reason with them (logic is obviously not their strong point) distract them with something else. We need to remove the sources of lies and to take down the temperature. If we get more of the Rs to wear masks and to get vaccinated and to vote for Ds, the country will be a better place. We need to coax some of them out of the rabbit holes and diffuse the anger and the crazy.

🏃 Run for something. If you want to run for something, but have no idea what to do, these people will help you. They also like money and volunteers to help those people who are running, so even if you’re not in a position to stand for office, you can help. Note: they are especially planning to target the 57 Rs in local governments who participated in the insurrection.

👎 Defund the seditionists. This is a list with companies that sometimes have donated to the seditionists, and their current approach to supporting or not supporting the seditionists. The list is long. You will recognize many of the corporations, and you probably have a relationship with some — either you are a customer, a shareholder, or maybe even an employee. Contact them and compliment or complain, but let them know you are watching. Forward it to others.

🐍 Schadenfreude 😈

Texas utility company has to file for bankruptcy because its power bill is too high Doktor Zoom Wonkette

You know things have gotten out of hand when the power company can’t afford its electric bill. Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, which Reuters notes is Texas’s “largest and oldest electric power cooperative,” filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday because it couldn’t afford to pay a $2.1 billion charge from the state’s grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Brazos Electric had committed to provide power to the grid, but wasn’t able to because so many power stations were knocked offline by the winter storm last month. So the company had to meet that commitment by buying power at hugely inflated prices — $9,000 per megawatt-hour, the highest allowed (normal wholesale prices average around $35 per MWH).

On top of that, ERCOT added other fees that bumped the full price of electricity to $25,000 per MWH. In all, Brazos said, ERCOT’s bill for just seven days amounted to three times as much as Brazos’s wholesale power costs for the entire year of 2020.

✂️ 

NPR explains the storm was simply catastrophic for the co-op:

Brazos said in court documents that the company was in solid financial shape leading up to the late February cold storm. As February began, the idea the company would end the month preparing for bankruptcy was “unfathomable.”

“Yet that changed as a direct result of the catastrophic failures that accompanied the winter storm that blanketed the state of Texas on or about February 13, 2021 and maintained its grip of historically sub-freezing temperatures for days,” the company said. “Electric generation equipment and natural gas pipeline equipment have been reported to have frozen, causing the available generation within ERCOT to dramatically decline.”

If you want to follow all the cases against former president tRump, go here.

Some insurrectionists think life is unfair:

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📣 Let’s Honor Truth

Rather long, and sometimes not exciting … the press secretary conveying information to the press. Facts. What the government is doing. Actions we no longer take for granted.

🌹 Let’s Celebrate Love ❤️ 

I’m not crying, you’re crying… 

Dolly deserves ❤️ 

📎Odds & Ends 📎

 Trees to be planted in low-income neighborhoods Good News Network

American Forests, the non-profit, and TAZO Tea, the corporation, have teamed up to create TAZO Tree Corps—a paid, locally hired workforce that will increase and maintain the tree canopy in lower-income urban areas—starting in parts of Minneapolis, Detroit, Richmond, the Bronx, and San Francisco in the spring of 2021.

Trees play all kinds of roles in cities. Along with helping to filter the air and prevent flooding, a few trees together on and around a street can cool down asphalt and the air, so it’s 9°F-less in the summertime than streets exposed to the sun. This also helps reduce energy demands for air conditioning and heating—saving people $7.8 billion nationwide annually to be exact—thereby saving energy and reducing emissions, too. ✂️

“We are building a national movement to ensure that every neighborhood can experience the healing power of trees while also helping create green jobs that benefit people in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities,” said Jad Daley, CEO and President of American Forests in a statement.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is not only a lack of tree surgeons at present, but vacancies will grow to about 10% by 2028.

Windpower company to breed condors the Guardian

An energy company in California is teaming up with federal wildlife officials and the

19-28-NPS-PHOTO-Condor-Family-409-mom-_chick1000_523-dad.jpg
Some other condors

Oregon Zoo in an innovative project to ease the plight of the mighty, soaring condor, a critically endangered species of vulture threatened by giant wind turbines in the Tehachapi mountains north-east of Los Angeles.

Avangrid Renewables, which operates 126 turbines as part of its Manzana wind power project, will finance the breeding of birds in captivity to replace any that might be killed by the 252ft diameter turbine blades.

The company will be “working with a captive breeding facility to fund the breeding of additional condors for release into the wild”, according to a statement by Scott Sobiech, field supervisor for the US Fish and Wildlife (FWS) service’s Carlsbad and Palm Springs office, and reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Reinfection not likely for those who have had covid 19 Science Daily

People who have had evidence of a prior infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, appear to be well protected against being reinfected with the virus, at least for a few months, according to a newly published study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This finding may explain why reinfection appears to be relatively rare, and it could have important public health implications, including decisions about returning to physical workplaces, school attendance, the prioritization of vaccine distribution, and other activities.

🌱 Go seaweed!

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🐦 

I do a lot of other writing. My most recent offering: Hunters of the Feather, a story about a thinker-linker crow who wants to save birdkind from extinction. (It’s really good! It’s really cheap! Buy it! Review or rate it positively!) Other stories, based on Jane Austen novels and others on Greek mythology, can be found here.

💙 What You Can Do to Rescue Democracy 💙

It turns out that participation in democracy is not just an every-four-years event but requires active participation, like, whenever you can find time.

Current projects:

Look in the comments for Progressive Muse’s report on Postcards to Voters

And some other ideas:

You can relax and recharge.

You can join protests and freeway blog.

You can help register new voters.

You can smile.

You can get out the vote for special elections.

You can reach out to upset Republicans.  We need to win some back.

You can share your ideas below.

🌻

💙 Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured.” 💙

President Joseph R. Biden

🌹 🌹 🌹

TRUTH MATTERS. LOVE MATTERS.

Vice President Harris breaks tie in Senate, COVID-19 Relief plan moves forward 51-50.

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The Senate votes to proceed on the American Rescue Plan, 51-50. Vice President Kamala Harris continues to make history, casting the tie-breaking vote:

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‘The Vice President votes in the affirmative.’

Guardian

Harris breaks Senate tie to begin debate on coronavirus relief package

The Senate has approved the motion to begin debate on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Vice-President Kamala Harris was forced to cast the tie-breaking 51st vote on the measure, after the evenly divided Senate deadlocked 50-50 on whether to take up the bill.

This is the Vice President’s third tie-breaking vote.

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Joe Biden could be the most transformative president in 75 years

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Americans believe by hefty majorities that we can solve our national problems and that the federal government should play a major role in areas including infrastructure, health care, environment, poverty reduction and economy. This broad support provides a foundation for Joe Biden to become the most transformative president since Franklin D. Roosevelt.Jeffrey D. SachsJeffrey D. SachsBiden has the chance to lead a green and digital recovery that would create millions of good jobs supported by advanced 21st century technologies. Yet to succeed, Biden will have to come up with a program to pay for an expanded federal government.The US needs more federal spending to modernize and upgrade infrastructure — power, digital, roads, rail, coastlines, waterways — in order to create good jobs, protect the environment and avoid more natural disasters. The federal government also needs to reinvigorate our K-12 education, as America has fallen behind a number of other countries in math and science.The federal government needs to invest in new technologies such as advanced batteries for electric vehicles, 5G for digital services and cutting-edge photovoltaics for clean energy. And let us not forget, the federal government needs to support tens of millions of hard-working families squeezed by unaffordable health care, child care and tuition costs.Our country has put off those public investments for decades, ever since President Ronald Reagan ushered in an era of tax cuts. We can’t postpone those investments any longer.

Fortunately, there are some offsetting budget cuts. The US can safely cut the military budget by $200 billion, or around 1% of GDP, by closing hundreds of outmoded overseas military bases and by avoiding a new arms race in nuclear weapons. Incredibly, as a legacy of World War II, which ended 76 years ago, the US still has an enormous number of military bases around the world. In 2015, it was estimated to have 800 military bases in more than 70 countries.

Why Democrats may look back on the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill with regret

Why Democrats may look back on the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill with regretThe government can also save at least $200 billion a year in health care outlays. It’s absolutely ridiculous that Washington fails to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and hospital prices with health care providers. In every other high-income country, the costs of health care are set or at least negotiated by government. In the US, they are set by monopolists, protected by patents or by large market shares in health care markets.With those cuts in military and health spending, the remaining cost of expanding government amounts to $600 billion, or 3% of GDP a year. That’s a completely manageable sum.Yet to some observers, such an expansion in government spending might seem out of the question. The last time it happened during peacetime was in the era of the New Deal and its aftermath, which stretched from 1933 (the start of FDR’s presidency) to 1968 (the end of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency). During that period, the public strongly supported the expanded role of the federal government and the Democratic Party that led it. Democrats held the White House for 27 of 35 years.

The New Deal epoch didn’t end because the public opposed the federal spending. It ended when millions of working-class White voters abandoned the Democratic Party because of the party’s pro-civil rights stance in the 1960s.Yet those White working-class voters paid a fearsome price for the chronic underinvestment in federal programs under Republican presidents and congressional leaders. The earnings of workers without professional or doctoral degrees has been stagnant for 20 years! With federal support for improved education, job training, digital infrastructure and other advanced technologies, job productivity, international competitiveness and living standards can be raised.While the anti-civil rights mood still animates the Trump wing of the Republican Party, it doesn’t command anything like majority support in the US. There is a broad recognition in the country that we need new federal spending to modernize and upgrade the economy, according to polling by Pew Research Center.Here then is America’s opportunity. We should expand the role of the federal government and find the extra tax revenues to support that increase. A bit more arithmetic can help us to set a target for tax increases.According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the budget deficit in future years is expected to be around 4% of GDP. If we could trim that by one quarter, reducing it to 3% of GDP, we could prevent the debt from rocketing higher compared to size of the overall economy. Keeping the debt stable and also paying for that $600 billion in new spending will require higher taxes, amounting to 4% of GDP — 1% to cut the deficit and 3% to fund the new spending.Such an increase in taxes should not be very hard to achieve in view of the massive profits of corporations and the megawealth of America’s richest individuals. Over the past 50 years, corporate taxes have been cut dramatically — from nearly 4% of GDP to little more than 1% today. By reversing part of those corporate cuts, we could (and should) raise an additional $400 billion.

I love Texas but something's wrong

I love Texas but something’s wrongFor the other 2% of GDP, we should turn mainly to the richest Americans. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are rightly calling for a tax on ultra-wealth, starting at $50 million and above. It would raise an estimated $3 trillion over the next 10 years. The tax would hit only the wealthiest 0.1 % of households (the top 100,000 households out of America’s 121 million).There are many other good tax options to raise the remaining funds.These include a new tax on CO2 pollution to be paid by an income tax surcharge on Big Oil; a rise in the top wage limit on payroll contributions to Social Security; a rise in the top personal income tax bracket for the highest earners; and a financial transaction tax on stock market purchases and sales.President Biden is right to signal that he will follow his rescue package with a jobs and infrastructure package. The federal government will expand, as it did in the New Deal era, to create a society that is more prosperous, fair and sustainable.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/04/opinions/joe-bidens-big-chance-sachs/index.html

An Oklahoman Vaccination. What I Saw, Shocked Me

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I really thought they were going to botch this.  I really did.  We have been living through four years of absolute insanity.  The former President hired the most incompetent people.  They were also the most destructive.  A case in point that typifies all the nonsense was when Desantis in Florida fired the head of coronavirus tracking and hired a youtube podcaster from Ohio to do the job.   It is literally the death of expertise.

So I live in a red state, a really red state : Oklahoma.   We have an incompetent governor that would rival Desantis.   This is why I thought they were going to botch vaccine distribution.  I was wrong about that and I am so glad I was.   I began to be fearful when they said they were going to make a vaccine portal that everyone in the state was going to be required to use.  I mean, our state unemployment system is so botched, so terrible, so behind in technology.  It was still using the cobol language from the seventies.  I mean, c’mon.

But that is a topic for another article.  Let’s just say that my faith in Oklahoma, or any red state for that matter, was quite low.  And that gets me to my next point, I am really unsure who set this up, it must have been Federal.  Or it was most likely a joint effort because it is a thing of beauty.  I have rarely been this impressed with a state and federal effort as this vaccine distribution has become.

I will tell you my experience so people can be rest assured that help is on the way.  The first thing you do to get vaccinated in Oklahoma is to go to vaccinate.oklahoma.gov .  You have to be a resident to qualify.  You go through a questionnaire to establish eligibility and the site will email you a link when you become eligible.  The link takes you to the booking an appointment page.  There is a map that gives you a radius of how far you want to search for an appointment.  Like 25 or 50 miles.  I was absolutely flabbergasted that there were over 90 state vaccination sites within 50 miles.  There were several that had available appointments.  I was quite taken aback.  I chose the one in Coweta, about 20 miles away.  There seemed to be a lot more appointments available in the rural areas.  I didn’t mind because all you have to be is a resident and you can go anywhere in Oklahoma.

So I set it for that afternoon so it would give me time to get ready and I was still stunned that I was going to get vaccinated in a few hours.  I had waited so long for this day and then it seemed to be thrust upon me all at once.   I then got an email that said not to show up too early.  Fifteen minutes before is the limit.  I guess people are pretty anxious.  I drove out to Coweta.  It’s a nice drive, all highway.  I pulled into the First Assembly of God church.  They had signs and cones out to direct you.  The county sheriff was waving you the right way.  I pulled up to a National Guardsman.  He told me to follow that car in front of me and to go right inside.

The sanctuary had several tables set up for intake.  The people all had Ipads.  They asked me for the QR code that was sent in the confirmation email.  I showed it to them and it immediately populated the Ipad with all my information.  It was impressive.   They filled out a CDC Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card and told me to go into the next room.  It was a room with about ten tables with two nurses at each table.  Each nurse had a pile of needles ready to go.  The only thing disconcerting about all this is how empty it was at the time.  There were only about four or five people getting vaccinated at the time.  I thought it would be busier with long lines.  

The nurses were absolutely fabulous.  You really forget how good nurses are at their job.  It was so refreshing to see how competent everyone was.  A National Guardsman came through asking the nurses if they needed anything.  He was mainly seeing if they needed any water.  Nobody did.  The nurse asked me several questions like if I had ever had a bad reaction to a vaccine.  Then she jabbed me and said my arm is going to hurt for the next three to five days.  This is a very accurate description.  It hurts, my arm is so tender right now.

I then took my card into another room where you have to wait for fifteen minutes.  They put a little post-it note on it to let them know when you can leave.  You wait fifteen minutes and then they tell you when to come out for the second dose.  They said you can go anywhere in the state and to use the same portal.  They said they would email a link.  I then left.

The time spent including waiting fifteen minutes to make sure there weren’t any serious reactions was about twenty minutes.  It was so well done. So efficient.  It was incredible.  They are going to be able to process so many people and it will be sooner, rather than later that everyone will be able to be vaccinated.  It’s happening and it is going so good in Oklahoma.  You never would have thought it but this is what real leadership under Joe Biden looks like.  

Jim Jordan Faces FEC Inquiry; $3 mil. in Campaign Funds Missing

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Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is in trouble again.  Roger Sollenberger of The Daily Beast reports that the Federal Elections Commission has issued ten (10) notices flagging discrepencies totaling almost $3 million in Jordan’s campaign committee’s books.  The Daily Beast story, dated this evening, states:

This week, the campaign committee for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), received ten notices from the Federal Election Commission flagging discrepancies on its books totaling nearly $3 million and dating back over two years. … experts say that the dollar amount—errors totaling some $2.87 million—may trigger an FEC investigation.

The errors also appear connected to newly developed, largely hidden payment systems in the murky world of Republican digital advertising, where vendors … take cuts from fundraising …

The notices … come in reply to more than a dozen amended reports correcting errors that the campaign caught in a sweeping review of filings, going as far back as 2018. One of the filings discloses errors in spending and fundraising totaling $1,470,286.48.

The commission gave the campaign until early April to reply, and the letters say that a failure to “adequately respond” could draw an audit or enforcement action.

The Daily Beast story quotes legal experts to say that failure to adequately explain the growing discrepencies would likely result in referral by FEC to its enforcement arm.

This reporting is an untimely setback for Jordan, an Always-Trumper who has been looking for any opportunity he can find to unseat Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as the Republican leader of the House.  Jordan joined in the Big Lie, and did so very publicly, leading the charge to block certification of the presidential election results on January 6, 2021, the day of the Capitol Insurrection.  He joined in the Insurrectionist Reunion, addressing CPAC, infamously held last week on a stage shaped like a Nazi Odal Rune, as if no one but Always-Trumpers would notice.   

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The Stage at CPAC, 2021, “The Insurrectionist Reunion”

Untimely scandals have dogged Jordan’s career.  As former multi-year (1986-1994) assistant men’s wrestling coach at Ohio State, he was later reported by the New York Times, NBC News, and other sources, to be implicated as a possible silent accomplice of Dr. Richard Strauss, the team physician who serially sexually abused team members.  It was an open secrtet among team members, who claim it is impossible that Jordan did not know about it.  

Jordan’s latest  scandal may not be the largest in this age of Republican campaign finance scams, but the real story here is that Jordan never seems to have learned that no one is successful for long unless a lot of people want him to be.  (Reports that he is consulting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) on this problem are untrue or premature.)  Jordan is abusive of the truth, abusive of witnesses, abusive of congressional colleagues, and weaponizes his “relaxed relationship with the truth,” to use the term Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) used to describe Donald Trump’s lying about the election.  Not many of Jordan’s colleagues are going to jump through their asses to rescue him.  

House just gave Senate Democrats every reason to end filibuster

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The House stayed in session late Wednesday to wrap up a critical week of work: passing H.R. 1, the sweeping voting and democracy reforms, and an expansive overhaul of American policing, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The House was shuttered Thursday, a result of the threat of violence against the Capitol bubbling up from those forces that, in part, make the legislation necessary: those with fascist and white supremacist instincts to impose their will over the majority, and particularly citizens of color, by keeping them out of the polls and under constant threat from law enforcement.

Each bill would restart the crucial work of racial justice, providing real and transformative changes to federal elections by ensuring equal access to the voting booth and federal representation, and in policing by creating national standards for law enforcement and constraints on the use of force, including the kind of force police used in killing George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Each bill faces the ridiculous hurdle of a Democratic majority in the Senate that could fail to pass them because of what former President Barack Obama calls a “Jim Crow relic,” the filibuster.

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There’s a depressingly long history of the use of the filibuster to stop civil rights, voting rights, immigrant rights and—since the ascendancy of Mitch McConnell to Republican leadership—any and all progressive priorities that majorities of Americans support (which doesn’t need to be rehashed here). But the passage of these two laws comes at what could be a breaking point for the nation, and the convergence of the House work happening in the midst of another serious threat to the heart of democracy—we have to carry that history to this moment. The Senate, and specifically the eight Democratic senators who say they are opposed to abolishing the filibuster, have to reckon with it. They have to reckon with that and the fact that right now, 43 state legislatures have more than 250 new and proposed laws to restrict voting, which could mean the end of Democrats winning congressional majorities again for the foreseeable future.

That’s not going to be corrected unless the Senate passes these bills. That’s not going to happen unless those eight senators, but particularly Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who have gone out of their way in vocal opposition to getting rid of the filibuster—relent. To that end, good government scholar Norm Ornstein has some ideas. He recommends taking Sinema’s and Manchin’s views at face value, that they want to preserve the rights of the minority and that they want to preserve the filibuster to “fully consider, debate, and reach compromise on legislative issues that will affect all Americans,” in Sinema’s words, and enacting reforms that would force that—debate and consideration. Do it by making the minority do the work, for once, of having that debate.

As it stands, 60 senators have to agree in order to get everything done, meaning a minority of 40 can stop everything just by having one senator object to moving forward on a bill and forcing a cloture vote. Turn that on its head and put the burden on the 40, Ornstein argues. Make those 40 be present and keep debating and keep voting to maintain their 40 votes—”including weekends and all-night sessions”—and once they couldn’t sustain those 40 votes, debate would end with an up-or-down vote for final passage. Other options would be to go back to the idea of the “present and voting” standard; the Senate would have to have three-fifths of those senators present, or to narrow the supermajority to 55 rather than 60. Keep them on the floor debating, and force them to have all their members there, all the time, to debate and to share their views. To explain to the American public and their fellow senators why they are so opposed to ending police brutality, or why they believe every American citizen should not have equal access to the ballot.

The critical thing is to end the silent filibuster in which one senator can object to moving forward, force the Senate to halt all its work while “debate” time lapses, and then they can all swan off for a few days or a long weekend, then come back and kill the bill in the cloture vote. Make them stay in D.C. and stand on the floor for all those “debate” hours actually debating. If Manchin, Sinema and all really want to preserve the supposed tradition of the Senate filibuster, them they couldn’t possibly object to making it like the “tradition” they saw in the old movie.

That’s not the only possibility for restoring actual majority rule for the Senate and for the nation’s democracy. Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, who has been working for filibuster reform his entire tenure in the Senate, is a lead sponsor of the Senate’s version of the For the People Act. He told Ron Brownstein that representative government “slid over the cliff, and [it’s as if] we caught a root, and we are just holding on by our fingertips” after the 2020 election and Trump’s efforts to subvert it. “We must find a way to pass this bill. It is our responsibility in our majority […] to defend citizens’ rights to participate in our democracy. There is no other acceptable outcome.” He wants, at the very least, to reform the filibuster for democracy-reform legislation. His strategy “is to encourage an extended debate on the bill, both within the committee and on the Senate floor, and to allow any senator to offer amendments.”

Once they got to the point of a cloture vote for final passage, if Republicans blocked it, the Democratic majority (with Vice President Harris) could vote then and there to “carve out” election reform or civil rights legislation from the filibuster, allowing it to pass with a simple majority. Or they could change the filibuster rules for this category of legislation, telling Republicans “you’d better be here day and night, because we are going to go for weeks and if you are not here, we are going to a final vote on the bill.”

Merkley has a strong ally in this, particularly on H.R. 1. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Rules Committee, is fired up to get the For the People Act passed. She told Mother Jones’ Ari Berman, “I would get rid of the filibuster. […] I have favored filibuster reform for a long time and now especially for this critical election bill.” This is her most proactive stated reform position to date. “We have a raw exercise of political power going on where people are making it harder to vote and you just can’t let that happen in a democracy because of some old rules in the Senate,” she told Berman. She is planning to hold hearings on S. 1, the Senate’s version of the bill, in Rules Committee this month and advance the bill to the floor, setting up this filibuster fight. It’s the critical bill to have this fight for, filibuster scholar Adam Jentleson said. It would be “poetic justice,” to do it. “You would be ending the filibuster on an issue of civil rights.”

At the very least, the filibuster has to be reformed to make Republicans do the work and show their obstruction of progress before the whole nation. They have to stand on the Senate floor for hours on end, be forced to be at the Capitol to do it, and tell us why they believe whole swathes of Americans should be refused the vote and terrorized by police.

Dr Seuss had some things to say about America First

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As part of their usual deflection and dumbing-down of the US populace, Fox News and the general Wingnut-American community are in a froth about.. the cancelling of Dr. Seuss. Which isn’t really a thing, but it helps fill the outrage quota for the day.

I didn’t actually watch this drivel, but in the spirit of providing links, here is Biden erases Dr. Seuss from ‘Read Across America’ proclamation as progressives seek to cancel beloved author if you really want to watch.

So, let’s get to the good part. Dr. Seuss did draw some very racist stuff, particularly of Japanese during WW2 for the US war propaganda. Which is why his works need to be.. analyzed. But of relevance to Fox and other wingnuts should be his opinions of the “America First” movement. Which they love, right?

Update.. Thanks for reading. This is another not-terribly-important-but-you-are-going-to hear-it-ad-nauseum stories. As in all my diaries, this one wasn’t very developed when published. The comments add a lot, I encourage everyone to read them and add to them. So, nobody caught the pun in the first drawing’s title?

Update #2 I can’t let this pass.. thanks to WesMorgan1 here is a link to the UC San Diego site with a whole collection of Dr Seuss, including his ads for Flit insecticide. Enjoy!

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Now it’s Vlad

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This is my favorite

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Prescient, no?