Republicans want a do-over election they'll lose again. It's adorable.
Oregon Republicans don't like the democratically elected Democrat governor, Kate Brown. Oh yes, there are Republicans in Oregon. They're the parents of all the hipsters. Although Oregon is reliably blue, the entire state isn't like Lake Tahoe. There are some red batches of conservatism, especially in the state's interior, and their representatives aren't pleased with the bisexual lady governor's ambitious progressive agenda. She's signed a law permitting undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses. She's pushed to reduce the state's carbon emissions. She's a mad tyrant and Republicans have no recourse but to remove her from office.
Republican Party Chair Bill Currier filed a recall petition against Brown last month. Currier, who is bad at math, argues that Oregon deserves a governor who represents "the will of the voters." Brown didn't win some common Electoral College. After replacing crooked former governor John Kitzhaber in 2015, Brown easily won the following year's special election. She also won a full term in 2018 with more than 50 percent of the vote, and Republicans really tried to beat her. Their candidate had a bullshit goatee and everything.
They don't know her!
Oh, NOW the GOP wants to get rid of Steve King? Not when he accused undocumented immigrants of being drug smugglers with "calves the size of cantaloupes"? Not when he referred to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib as "hazing"? Not when he said Muslims shouldn't be allowed to work in meat-packing plants? Not when he suggested cutting food stamps "for people who have not worked in three generations"? Not when he suggested using electrified cattle fences to keep out migrants? Not when he said, "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies"? Not when he referred to Mexican immigrants as "dirt"? Not when he spewed his poison about white genocide and the "great replacement" theory?
All that was merely distasteful, a shame, inappropriate, tut tut. But now that he's facing a rematch against J.D. Scholten, after barely eking out a three-point win in an R+11 district last year, now they want him gone?
There aren't enough jerk off gifs in the world for this bullshit.
And all in service of that nice young man running against Maxine Waters.
It has been a while since we last heard anything about sleazy rightwing jerkbag Jacob Wohl, who hasn't beshitted himself very publicly since April, when he tried to promote a fake sexual assault claim against Pete Buttiegieg. (Instead, the supposed "victim" called Wohl and company "chronic liars" and wanted nothing to do with 'em.) But first-class assholes never really go away; Monday, Will Sommer at the Daily Beast reported that Wohl, or at least his phone, seems to have "branched out into making death threats on behalf of his political allies, telling one woman he would 'torture you so much that you end up killing yourself.'" So everyone gets to ask yet again: How the fuck is that man not in jail?
The details are pretty baroque, as you'd expect in any Wohl fuckbungle.
Your lawsplainer update on who Trump is suing this week
At the end of July, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 27, the Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act, which requires candidates for president and governor to release their tax returns to appear on the California primary ballot. So naturally, Trump is suing to keep his skeevy finances private.
As The Root so aptly put it:
President Donald Trump once claimed that if he wasn't being audited he'd have no problem showing his tax returns. While tax-return flashing isn't a requirement to be president, it's been the unspoken norm that all presidents since Richard Nixon have adhered to. As it stands, Trump is the only modern president not to release his tax returns, and most likely that's because he listed Russian prostitute urine as a write-off.
Spurred by Trump's refusal to release his tax returns -- including to the House Ways and Means Committee -- states around the country have sprung into action. New York passed a law that would allow its Department of Taxation and Finance to give Ways and Means an individual's state tax returns upon request. Trump already filed a batshit insane lawsuit to try to stop that one. So add in California, and the president is involved in lawsuits on both coasts to try to stop people from seeing his taxes. Troubling, you say? Pshaw.
But Trump isn't the only one suing. A handful of suits have been filed over SB 27, by Trump, the RNC and California Republican Party, and our buddies over at Judicial Watch. As you might imagine, the complaints are chock full of little gold nuggets.
But with regard to the constitutionality of this new law ... *takes deep breath* ... Donald Trump, the GOP, and Judicial watch might actually have a point, here.
(No, I can't believe I just typed those words, either.)
Give it a day.
So Puerto Rico has now had three governors (the equivalent of the president in any other country) in a week. Take that, mainland United States Congress!!!
After the Puerto Rico Supreme Court found that Pedro Pierluisi was unconstitutionally sworn-in as governor and told to him vacate La Fortaleza (The Fortress, the name of the governor's mansion in Old San Juan), Wanda Vazquez Garced became the Governor of Puerto Rico. On his way out, Pierluisi released a taped statement that appeared to be filmed in front of a green screen:
Pedro Pierluisi taped this short video for the people of Puerto Rico. It was released after he left the Governor's mansion but before Wanda Vazquez was sworn in as Governor. pic.twitter.com/rPqJmTenhm
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) August 7, 2019
Or on the set of Lex Luthor's library in Richard Donner's Superman.
Even had Otis doing sign language!
Did we mention those systems aren't supposed to be on the internet? That's the bad part.
Motherboard broke a story about election security yesterday that may not quite rise to the level of pants-pissing OMG panic, but which ought to have people good and concerned. You see, one of the reasons we're supposed to not worry too much about hacking of election systems is that election officials and the companies who sell the elections systems assure us those systems aren't on the internet, so they can't be hacked. Except, oops!
[A] group of election security experts have found what they believe to be nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states. These include systems in nine Wisconsin counties, in four Michigan counties, and in seven Florida counties—all states that are perennial battlegrounds in presidential elections.
The research project started about a year ago, and some of the systems were on the internet all that time. The researchers notified a Homeland Security information-sharing group about the problem last year, and some systems got off the internet, yay them. But! "[A]t least 19 of the systems, including one in Florida's Miami-Dade County, were still connected to the internet this week," according to the researchers.
The article reminds us frequently that all the researchers found were potential vulnerabilities, some ways the election systems might be open to hacking -- not any evidence of actual tampering. In fact, as long as all the state and county election systems are set up with exactly the right safeguards recommended by the systems' manufacturers, then no baddies should be able to get in.
Problem is, one big hairy security recommendation is that election systems not be connected to the internet at all, so maybe there's not much cause for confidence about the rest of the possible vulnerabilities, either. Hi-ho!
Your Mini-Constitutional Crisis Update!
When we last checked in with the United States most
ignored favorite colony, Puerto Rico had just forced their governor, Ricardo Rosselló, to announce his resignation effective August 2 after weeks of intense protests. The protests were sparked by years of corruption and 889 pages of leaked chats involving the governor, secretary of state, and other top officials. This forced many in the administration to resign and, after a disastrous Fox News interview, Rosselló soon joined them. But this was not a tidy happy ending.
Because the secretary of state (second in line for the governorship) resigned prior to Rosselló, there was no clear answer who was next in the line of succession. By Article IV of the Constitution of Puerto Rico, Secretary of Justice Wanda Vázquez Garced would have been the next governor until the 2020 elections. But amid protests due to various scandals and controversies outlined by the New York Times (and probably not wanting to be in charge in a shitshow), Ms. Vázquez Garced announced she didn't want the job.
With the deadline bearing down, Rosselló announced July 31 that he had chosen
Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia as the new secretary of state to fill the vacancy left by Luis G. Rivera Marín. This effectively made him the next in line and successor as governor, so crisis averted! Just kidding.
Holy fuck these people are stupid.
Y'all, last night on the internet was WAY dumber than 30-50 feral hogs. It was, like, at least 70-90 feral hogs. Per minute.
But instead of 70-90 feral hogs running into your yard to play with your kids, it was 70-90 feral conservatives losing their goddamned marbles over the fact that Rep. Joaquin Castro, who runs his brother Julián Castro's presidential campaign, tweeted a list of publicly available names of donors from San Antonio (his district) who have already maxed out their contributions to Donald Trump for 2019.
The way they're responding, you'd think conservatives had just discovered that when they make a contribution to a candidate, that information is public and searchable on the internet, with exactly the information listed right there in Castro's tweet. Many of them probably have just discovered it for the first time, because conservatives are very stupid people.
WHOA, gutting the Voting Rights Act meant millions lost the vote? Who could have guessed?
The Brennan Center for Justice, using data from the federal government, found that since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, the number of Americans purged from voter rolls has increased to are you kidding me levels of 17 million people. Worse, states that had a history of discrimination against minority voters purged a greater percentage of voters in the last two years than in other parts of the country.
Before that 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required jurisdictions that had a history of voting discrimination to get clearance from the Justice Department before making any changes to voting procedures. But in Shelby, the Supremes decided racism was largely a thing of the past, so such "preclearance" was clearly not needed anymore, and actually was very unfair to places that used to use underhanded tactics to rig the vote. After all, Republicans all over the country were emailing each other pictures of the White House surrounded by watermelon patches, not just in the South!
We need a dark psychic space force.
David Brooks, the New York Times columnist who knows America could be a much better nation if it would just become David Brooks, would like the 2020 Democrats to stop worrying about "policy" and get at the sickness of America's soul. Fortunately, he's seen the cure! Marianne Williamson, the loonypants lady who eschews policy details and instead has taken to channeling Chauncey Gardiner at the debates, is the Democrat of David Brooks's never-fevered centrist dreams. Not because of any of her plans to do policy things, but because she knows America needs its soul healed up.
This should be good.
Professional terrible person Laura Ingrahm wasn't thrilled with the two-part Socialist Showdown masquerading as a Democratic debate. Her tiki torch went up in flames because CNN permitted Don Lemon to moderate Tuesday's restricted club debate. Lemon's obviously compromised and biased because he believes Donald Trump is racist on account of everything he's ever said or done. She vented about this on her white power hour to her panel of shameless hacks.
INGRAHAM: How does CNN defend having Lemon moderate this debate? I mean, just proclaiming Trump, you know, someone who traffics in racial division, I mean, that was actually a question.
Ingraham's right that it's not really a question whether Trump "traffics in racial division." It's literally all he does. They should get him one of those reflective vests crossing guards wear. Trump's lapdog lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a gross racist himself, argued that Democrats had ruined racism's good name.
GIULIANI: I think being called a racist now is not what it was 10, 20 years ago. I think they've demeaned it. I don't know what the American people even think a racist is anymore, because it's used all the time.
Thanks, Democrats! You've single-handedly made "racist" as meaningless a term as "farm-to-table" or "artisanal." Americans used to know what a "racist" was, and according to Fox News and Giuliani himself, the actual "racists" were Barack Obama or any black person who politely suggested that their lives mattered.
He's got money for nothing but will debate for free.
Tom Steyer watched the Democratic debate last night at home in his underpants. No fairy godmother showed up to take him to the ball. He just shouted about climate change to pumpkins with photos of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on them. Although Tom Steyer the presidential candidate has considerable financial support from Tom Steyer the billionaire, he still needs 130,000 donors before he can stand on the same stage as Marianne Williamson. He's roughly 129,999 donors shy of his goal.
Americans concerned about their financial futures might consider the more conservative option of setting large piles of their money on fire rather than donating to a billionaire's vanity campaign. Steyer isn't asking for much, though -- just one dollar. It's the cost of a cup of coffee. (It's been a while since he bought his own coffee.)
Medicare for All, outrageous profits for none.
Kamala Harris released her very own healthcare proposal today, an interesting blend of Medicare For All and and private insurance that would phase in more slowly than the four or five years the major proposals for M4A have envisioned. Clearly aimed at preempting the squawks from insurance companies that would be forced out of business by a total transition to single-payer, the plan would allow private insurers to sell Medicare plans, but they would be subject to defined coverage requirements and stricter price controls than the current Medicare Advantage plans that make a lot of money for insurance companies.
Harris's plan would expand Medicare health benefits to include vision, dental, and hearing aids, make a public option to buy into Medicare available immediately, and transition to a full Medicare for All system over 10 years, giving people the choice of private or public Medicare plans. Employers who currently provide health insurance to their employees would transition to either paying for workers' private Medicare plans, or paying higher taxes to support public Medicare coverage. [Small Business Owner Editrix here: I would be delighted to buy actual Medicare for my employees. DELIGHTED.]
It's a hybrid plan that aims for universal coverage without eliminating the insurance industry. We're not crazy about the 10-year implementation framework, but on the whole, it looks like a way of transitioning to single payer that could be palatable to many Americans. Let's wonksplore!
Spoiler Alert: It's not Uncle Joe.
Sen. Kamala Harris and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler are set to announce bold new legislation today that goes beyond decriminalization of marijuana, also expunging old criminal convictions related to its use.
HARRIS: We need to start regulating marijuana, and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives
As marijuana becomes legal across the country, we must make sure everyone — especially communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs — has a real opportunity to participate in this growing industry. I am thrilled to work with Chairman Nadler on this timely and important step toward racial and economic justice.
This legislation will ensure that people of color can benefit from marijuana legalization and not sit on the sidelines as manbun hipsters get rich. The proposed bill would also seal cannabis-related records for qualifying individuals at no cost to them.
Most Democratic candidates for president support decriminalizing marijuana on the federal level, but Harris and Nadler take it up a notch: Their bill proposes a five percent federal tax on the sale of marijuana. This would in turn fund grant programs to help people who were screwed over for past doobie possession. This should improve Harris's standing with people who are still skeptical about her record as a California prosecutor. For instance, when she became attorney general, she didn't immediately free everyone from prison with her official skeleton key that opens all the doors.
Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden is also hep to the jive. His campaign released a criminal justice reform plan today, and Biden supports Mary Jane decriminalization. He'd even take marijuana off the Drug Enforcement Administration's Reefer Madness list. However, he stops short of supporting legalization for recreational use. This puts him to the right of most of the other 101 Democratic candidates on the issue. Uncle Joe is moving kind of slow at the weed junction.
Yr Dok Zoom is pretty sure the first time he ever heard of Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren was her 2007 interview on Fresh Air, after she testified before the Senate Banking Committee about all the tricks credit card companies use to extract extra revenue out of customers -- like changing payment due dates with very little notice, to rack up late fees. We remember her mentioning she'd had her contract law students try to make sense of the long, fine-print terms and conditions of credit card contracts, and if Harvard Law students struggled to make sense of 'em, how was the average customer supposed to? She got famous later, after Jon Stewart had her on the "Daily Show." But I'll never forget how clearly she explained the ways very smart financial execs with very smart lawyers managed to rig the smallest details to their advantage. Warren has made a career of pointing out how the very rich have been writing America's rules since the Reagan years.
I felt something like that come-to-Populist Jesus moment reading Warren's newly released plan to bring Wall Street to heel: It's about high finance and low motives, and succinctly explains, with a load of links to studies and background reading, why running the US government for the advantage of the financial sector is terrible for American people -- and for that matter, terrible for the US economy. Take 20 minutes to read it and you'll say, well shit, that's not right. That's not fair.
Fortunately, it can be fixed, by President Warren, or any Democrat who adopts Warren's plan. All we need to do is slay a few dragons.
You know who belongs in jail? US officials who've abused immigrants.
Elizabeth Warren had a little announcement to make at the annual Netroots Nation conference this weekend. Not only does she have a plan for immigration, she also has some plans for those who have broken laws while carrying out Donald Trump's agenda of maximum cruelty toward immigrants. It may involve sending some people to jail, and not for a misdemeanor charge of crossing the border without papers. Tempting though it might be, Warren didn't say she'd take any officials' children away. In the case of Trump himself, there might be something to be said for sentencing to house arrest at Eric Trump's place, which you just know reeks of unwashed socks.
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