The kids are more than all right. They're getting the adults' butts in gear.
Kids these days... are organizing.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reopened yesterday for the first time since the February 14 shooting in which 17 people died. Just for a half day, and no real academics yet, just a chance for students and teachers to spend some time and tears together. The last couple weeks -- yes, it's just been two weeks -- have been a time of incredibly raw, possibly culture-changing activism by the kids who lost teachers and friends, and that continued this week, as a group of students from nearby Pompano Beach walked 16 miles Monday to meet with kids at Stoneman Douglas and to say Never Again:
Today WE, Pompano Beach High School, walked 16 miles, left at 9:15am and arrived at 3:43 almost 6 hours walk to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to speak for the 17 lost lives. ❤️ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AND WE NEED CHANGE pic.twitter.com/tzlOy2M3g4— Tris ? (@fwaytris) February 26, 2018
The kids aren't content to just hope adults will fix things, and they've been pretty insistent that they're not about to let us get away with vague thoughts and prayers. So it should be no surprise that other teens have been watching and working on bringing a similar sense of young-people urgency to another existential threat: climate change. A network of young climate rabble-rousers had already been planning a day of youth climate activism for July 21, anchored by a march in Washington DC, with affiliated marches in other cities.
The ringleader for the "Zero Hour" march is a Seattle 16-year-old, Jamie Margolin, who started planning and networking last summer when the Trump administration announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
She recruited Mrinalini Chakraborty, head of strategy for the national Women’s March, to help the students file for permits and plan logistics. Now, the organizing committee includes dozens of youth from Connecticut to California. The official website for the march launched last week.
The march isn't Margolin's only foray into climate activism, though. She's also one of 13 kids who earlier in February filed a lawsuit against Washington's state government and Gov. Jay Inslee, claiming that the state isn't taking aggressive enough action to limit greenhouse emissions and promote clean energy. That's her in the pic up top, at a rally on the steps of the state Capitol in Olympia.
And before Twitter idiots ask, no, her parents didn't put her up to any of this, as she explained -- rather patiently, we think -- to KUOW Radio:
"If anything, I'm the one dragging them to things," she said. "They’re supportive, so I don't want to make it sound like they don't do anything, but none of this is my parents. It’s really all my idea. It just feels urgent to me."
And then there's Therese Etoka, a 17-year-old senior at Boise High in Idaho, who testified before the Boise City Council in December to support more energy-efficient codes, and wrote about it in a guest column for the local paper. She and a group of other teens calling themselves the "Climate Justice League" went to the Idaho statehouse last month to lobby both houses of the legislature to restore a climate change component to the state's standards for science education. Yes, the wise leaders of Idaho last year actually stripped out any discussion of climate from the state's official curriculum. Although Boise schools have kept teaching about climate anyway, the teens wanted to ensure students in the rest of the state are getting real science education, too.
Their efforts didn't go over too well in the state House, where a Republican committee chair, Rep. Julie VanOrden, chastised anyone who used the words "climate change" in their testimony. Etoka, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is president of Boise High's Humanitarian Club, and works with the Idaho chapter of the Sierra Club on climate issues, was dumbfounded: "When she cut me off, I was talking about how climate change and biodiversity had been included in the new standards. So, I was taken aback when I was interrupted." She made a point of returning the next day, to make it clear she wouldn't let science be censored.
While the House Education Committee voted to continue with bowdlerized science standards, the Senate Education Committee, where the teens also testified -- the day of the shootings in Florida, coincidentally -- finally voted to restore climate science to the statewide standards. To get any standards passed at all for the next school year, the House panel was goaded into going along. The kids weren't the only ones standing up for science; virtually all the public testimony had been in favor of restoring the full standards. Etoka told Grist she sees the fossil fuel industry's pushback against serious work on climate change as similar to the NRA's efforts to kill any meaningful regulation of firarms: "This cannot be normal. We’ve had it."
Margolin said she's also inspired by the kids from Parkland and the way they've shifted the debate on guns:
“The Parkland youth are asking for their right to live without the fear of gun violence, and we’re asking to live without climate chaos, and without that fear,” Margolin says. “We’re both just asking to live.”
So hooray kids, keep pushing, get out on the streets and -- more importantly -- into the committee hearings and courtrooms, and we'll be sure to march with you this summer. And vote with lots of you in November.
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Sorry about your vote, Scott Walker doesn't feel like it.
CHEESE AND CRACKERS, WISCONSIN! What the hell is going on up there? How is it you Cheeseheads are all so nice, and yet your politicians are such corrupt sonsabitches? Yeah, you've got badass Tammy Baldwin. But you elected Ron Johnson and Scott Walker TWICE EACH. You guys are so offensively gerrymandered that even the Supreme Court was like, Oh, come on!
And now this! Wonkers, look at this Wisconsin statute. Does this sound like Scott Walker can hold a special election to fill legislative vacancies if he feels like it?
Any vacancy in the office of state senator or representative to the assembly occurring before the 2nd Tuesday in May in the year in which a regular election is held to fill that seat shall be filled as promptly as possible by special election.
NO IT DOES NOT! Laws that say "shall" are non-discretionary, which is lawtalk for JUST DO IT, ASSHOLE. But Scott Walker appointed two Wisconsin legislators to his administration in December, 2017, and he's flatly refusing to hold elections to replace them. That means that the residents of those districts will be without representation between December of 2017 and January of 2019 when the winners of November's ballot take their seats. And we are not a math major, but that looks like more than a year to us.
Maybe it's because Republicans lost a seat in the state Senate in January's special election in a 36 point (!) swing from 2016. Or maybe it's because of general cussedness -- we are talking about a politician who tried to overturn a law giving gay couples hospital visitation rights. Walker's stated reason for refusing to hold special elections is to save money. Which is hilarious from a guy busily shoveling billions into Foxconn's coffers for a factory that we still think will never get built. He also mumbled some nonsense about it being a slow season for the lege, right before calling a special session to kick poor people off food stamps.
More to the point, it doesn't fucking matter whether Walker thinks those legislators are just extra. The law grants Wisconsin residents the right to representation and doesn't condition it on the whim of the state executive. These assholes have gerrymandered the shit out of their legislature to ensure that they always wind up with 65 percent of the seats while getting half the votes, and they STILL won't hold elections!
So yesterday, Eric Holder's redistricting group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, sued on behalf of voters in the district. They petitioned the Circuit Court of Dane County for a Writ of Mandamus, which is Latin for Hold the goddamn elections you beady-eyed little badgerdick! Because getting sued is literally the only thing that makes Republicans do their stupid jobs in the age of Trump. So now we can watch Walker's administration drag this case out all summer long, so that if they lose, they wind up holding a special election on Halloween. Shifty bastards!
DO BETTER, WISCONSIN!
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Can we stop talking about these trashy people now? PLEASE???
Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, accuses media of painting couple as anti-Semitic. pic.twitter.com/Vcczj6pNPv
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 12, 2017
Can't believe we're making you watch this godawful video again! Say it with us now ...
ONE OF OUR ATTORNEYS IS A JOOOOOOOO!!!
Nope not that JOO ATTORNEY, although you can be forgiven for thinking so, since he is Jewish and he did represent Roy and Kayla Moore's charming son Caleb on one of his many adventures with law enforcement. But no! Yesterday the lovely Mrs. Moore set the record straight. She was referring to Martin Wishnatsky, a "Messianic Jew" who "writes legal briefs" for the Moores' scam charity. Oy oy oy! It's a lot to unpack.
In 1977, Wishnatsky's Jewish mother was living the dream. Her son had gotten his PhD from Harvard and was working on Wall Street. Okay, so he wasn't married yet. Maybe he just needed to be set up with Mrs. Schlisselbaum's daughter? If only she'd mentioned it at mah jongg, maybe this whole thing could have been avoided. Instead Marty went and met a long-haired religious freak on the beach in Hawaii. Since then, all day long it's Jesus Jesus Jesus! First he joined the Mormons, then he became an evangelical Protestant, and by 1990, he was a full-time anti-abortion protestor in North Dakota! He even spent 18 months in jail for blocking clinics. Vey iz mir!
Poor Mama Wishnatsky, you're probably saying. What are the mah jongg ladies whispering when she goes to the kitchen for more bridge mix? And also, DOESN'T THAT MEAN THAT THIS GUY ISN'T A JEW?
You're both. You're a Jewish person that's accepted Christ. Jesus was a Jew. Most Jews are not religious. That's how I grew up. There are the Orthodox who are very serious about Judaism. It's about whether you think God is real, and whether you're accountable to him. It's whether you take God seriously. It took me quite a few years to take God seriously.
Nice try, Wish! But no, you no longer bat for the J Team. Bye, Menachem!
Wishnatsky seems to have bounced around doing missionary work and writing his masterpiece on leaving Mormonism for 15 years. Eventually he washed up on the shores of Liberty University's law school, where he received his JD in 2012 at the ripe old age of 68. Wishnatsky then went on to clerk for Judge Moore in Alabama, until he stopped being a judge and became a full-time grifter in 2016.
One of these things is not like the others.
In theory, Wishnatsky writes amicus briefs for Moore's Foundation for Moral Law. Although we were unable to find his name on any of their recent briefs, and it's unclear if he's even licensed to practice law in the State of Alabama.
In short, Martin Wishnatsky may or may not be one of the Moores' House Lawyers. But he ain't no Jew. And as for Kayla Moore's claim that, "We have very close friends that are Jewish and rabbis, and we also fellowship with them.” Well, Southern Jewish Living Magazine found them!
This publication confirmed on Dec. 14 that when Kayla Moore referred to “rabbis,” she was speaking of the current and former leaders of Beth Hallel, a “messianic” congregation in Birmingham. No Jewish group recognizes the “messianic” movement as part of Judaism.
LULZ! They're not real Jews either! Kayla Moore is lying liar, 1980s bleach-blond perm on fire! What a shame Mrs. Moore won't be fellowshipping with her fellow lying Republicans in our nation's capital!
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These fuckin' motherfuckers, man.
Yes, yes. It's a Ricktatorship.
Remember how exciting it was that Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates (they can't just have "representatives" because the state constitution says everything has to be Ye Olde Quainte and Olde-Timeye) had, in a single election, erased a Republican majority when a recount last month gave the Democrat, Shelly Simonds, the win by ONE VOTE, and we were all excited, because HOLY SHIT? Unfortunately, after that recount, and because the Democrat Simonds had won, the Republicans challenged to have this one contested ballot included, and the three Republican election judges said, sure, looks like that there's a vote for Republican David Yancey, the incumbent. Seriously, this goddamned mess of what any sane election system would toss as a spoiled ballot gave Yancey one more vote, and a tie:
The fuck is that thing? The election judges gave the ballot to Yancey after deciding the line drawn through the bubble for Simonds indicated the voter had changed their mind -- but a similar "X" through the single vote for Ralph Northam seems to indicate the voter might just have well started by mis-marking the ballot for Yancey. We say it's broccoli, and we say the hell with it. And so does Virginia state law, not that anyone was paying attention.
For more on what a complete farce the recount challenge was, see this excellent overview by Carolyn Fiddler. Just one example of how Team Yancey disregarded the law in order to get that one fucked-up vote included:
Oh, and there's plenty more: One of the three election judges had been recommended for the job by Yancey himself, three years ago, but didn't recuse himself. Fiddler details other deviations from proper recount procedure that should have led to Yancey's challenge being overturned. But hey, the Republican-appointed election judges had a Republican seat to save. And the first fallback, the gerrymandering that meant a 10-point advantage in total votes statewide barely resulted in a freaking TIE, had already failed to sufficiently disenfranchise Democrats. Clearly, Virginia needs a voter fraud commission.
Simonds sued to overturn Yancey's challenge, but a three-Republican-judge panel said no, ma'am, that's a perfectly cromulent vote for Yancey, and today a random drawing was held, giving the win to Yancey.
Hey, in case it makes you any less outraged, Simonds and Yancey's names were placed in identical film cannisters inside "a special bowl crafted by the resident potter at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts." Whose budget the one-vote Republican minority in the House of Delegates will probably cut.
We can still feel great about Democrats having taken 15 seats away from Republicans in Virginia's lower house, but that ballot stinks -- and let's hope it fires up Virginia Dems enough to keep them good and mad until the 2019 state elections. Ralph Northam will be inaugurated as governor on January 13, and that single R vote may mean the goal of expanding Medicaid in the state for 400,000 Virginians may fall just short, unless a couple of Republicans in the lower house can be persuaded to vote for it.
Republicans maintain a 21-19 majority in the state legislature's upper house (Virginians charmingly call it the "Senate"), so even if Simonds had won the Delegate seat and forced power-sharing, passage of Medicaid expansion wasn't guaranteed. The Senate had at least agreed in its last term to a modified Medicaid expansion that would have used public funds to buy poor people private insurance, so there's still some prospect of a deal for full expansion of plain old Medicaid Medicaid. With any luck, Virginia Rs will listen to the polling, which shows widespread public support for Medicaid expansion -- except among Republicans, of course.
A few Virginia Rs might even take the risk of supporting Medicaid expansion in hopes of not being defeated by a Democrat in 2019, eh? Could that happen? We like to think nice thoughts.
Then again, in an indication of Republican respect for fair play for all, The Hill notes that while Virginia law allows the loser of a tie-election draw to request one more recount, Ms. Simonds said in advance that she "would not request a second recount if she lost the drawing. Yancey declined to make the same pledge."