State/Local Politics

Texas Gov Generously Offers To Help Austin Homeless. If by 'Help' You Mean 'Leper Colonies.'

Maybe shout "feces and used needles!" a little louder.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to Austin Mayor Steve Adler threatening a state crackdown on homeless people in the city if Adler doesn't eliminate homelessness in Austin by November 1. The letter comes amid a Republican backlash to changes in city laws aimed at treating homeless folks as people who need housing, not criminals.

At issue is a June decision by the Austin City Council to modify three ordinances that had banned sitting, lying, or camping in public, and which had criminalized panhandling. Republicans and some businesses responded with predictable fury, because don't you stupid liberals understand that homelessness can only be addressed by Getting Tough? Under the revised law, sitting and lying on sidewalks is legal as long as the person doesn't pose a threat to "the health or safety of another person or of themselves" or make "usage of such area unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous." Clearly, that's intolerable, because the real solution to homelessness is to drive them to places where decent people don't have to see them. And to talk about local control until a local government does something Republicans don't like.

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Joe Biden's Pollster Finds Lying About 'Medicare For All' Is The Best Way To Convince People It's Bad

Stop it, Joe Biden's pollster.

Joe Biden really, really does not want single payer health care. Of course, neither do most of the other 2020 candidates who aren't Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

But you know who really, really likes single payer health care? 79% of Democrats! Also, 70% of Americans in general -- though that was almost a year ago, and some folks, like, again, Joe Biden, have been spending a lot of time and effort poormouthing it. Still, this time around, it's actually the anti-single payer candidates who need to convince the electorate that a few fixes to make our health care situation slightly less bad is preferable to the thing that will actually work.

And so the Biden-linked centrist think tank Third Way conducted a poll to find out which messages are most likely to convince people that Medicare For All is a bad idea. What they found is that while 70% of the primary voters they surveyed supported Medicare For All, that support went down when they lied to those people about what a Medicare for All system would mean for them.

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Bernie Sanders And The Case Of The Absolutely True Campaign Message, You Fact Checker DICKS.

These guys again.

The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" column is at it again, determining that even though Bernie Sanders accurately cited information about medical bankruptcies from a medical journal, he actually fibbed, because some completely different researchers disagree with the methodology of the study Sanders cited. So even though one of the authors of the work said Sanders had correctly cited the article, WaPo gave Sanders "three Pinocchios," apparently for failing to consider alternate methodologies in a dispute between statisticians. That's just one public domain puppet short of a whopper, and translates to "mostly false," says WaPo.

Behold! "Fact checking" doesn't have to be about whether a politician is actually fibbing, because it can also be about aggravated nitpicking. When the "president" can't describe the weather without lying, it's very important to bring balance to the news by turning accurate statements by Democrats into lies. It's what we've come to expect from a column that insists factual statements by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker are just big ol' lies, because you need to find error even in the truth.

(N.B., we will not be getting into Sanders flack David Sirota's contention that this terrible "fact check" in a long line of terrible fact checks proves Jeff Bezos is out to get Bernie Sanders for crimes against millionaires and billionaires, noting instead that the WaPo "Fact Checker" went after Barack Obama, who was the worst socialist ever. By which we mean he wasn't that good at it, except for the massive wealth transfer from rich to poor that was the Affordable Care Act. Continuing on!)

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Texas Gunman Failed Background Check, Ipso Facto MOAR GUNZ NOW

Laws against shooting people don't work either, so might as well get rid of those too.

Officials said Monday that the gunman who killed seven people and injured 25 in a Texas highway shooting rampage Saturday had previously been stopped from purchasing a gun because he failed a federal instant background check. No details were given on why he had failed that background check, or how he obtained the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle he used in the mass shooting. We're going to go way out on a limb and guess maybe he bought it in a private sale, which in Texas is not subject to background checks, because Texas believes in freedom.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted Monday that something must be done to keep guns out of the hands of violent bad guys!

Just as long as the something we do doesn't include strengthening background checks or extending them to cover private gun transfers, because either of those measures would inconvenience Responsible Gun Owners. Besides, even if we expanded background checks, this guy was a criminal who got a gun anyway, so background checks can never work, QED.

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Trump The Merciful Will Now Only Deport MOST Kids With Cancer

All praise to the Great Humanitarian!

The Trump administration has announced it will now not deport all the immigrants protected by a humanitarian program it suddenly ended last month with no public notice. Instead, US Citizenship and Immigration Services said in a press release Monday that it will reopen all cases that were pending on August 7, when the blanket denial of "medical deferment action" applications went into effect. Mind you, that doesn't mean the government is necessarily reversing its policy -- instead, this appears to be an effort to partly calm the shitstorm of publicity USCIS invited when news outlets got wind of the decision to start deporting sick people -- many of them children -- and sending them back to countries where many would die. Let's try not to applaud too loudly here.

For years, the "medical deferred action" program allowed a small number of immigrants and their families -- USCIS says it processes about a thousand applications a year, but denies a "majority" -- to stay in the US to continue medical treatment. But in Trump World, there is no room for humanitarianism, which is why Stephen Miller has taken steps to eliminate admission of refugees, and there's now no "My kid has cancer" in "immigration." Even in its announcement that it would reconsider the applications that it suddenly denied last month, USCIS was clear that sick immigrants really should just hurry up and die, because America has no use for them:

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Trade War

Larry Kudlow Is Bad At This

It's the Sunday Show Rundown, starring Larry Kudlow!

Today's edition of the Sunday Rundown will focus on CNN's "State Of The Union" with Brianna Keilar, which featured the triumphant return of Trump's economic advisor and reverse Midas, Larry Kudlow.

After last week's very reassuring denials of the possibility of a recession, a reporter asked Trump at the G7 in France about his retalitory tariffs on China:

QUESTION: Do you have second thoughts about escalating the war with China?

TRUMP: I have second thoughts about everything.

It seems this existential despair answer (or simply that Trump doesn't actually know what "second thought" means) sent the White House went into spin mode, insisting Trump regrets not raising the tariffs HIGHER instead.

So naturally, Keilar began the interview with Kudlow by asking what Trump meant. After Kudlow basically went with the approved story, Keilar asked him to clarify this week's Trump royal decree to American businesses regarding China:

KEILAR: He also said he's no longer planning on forcing U.S. businesses to leave China. So, it does seem as if he is softening on this issue broadly.

KUDLOW: Well...

KEILAR: You disagree with that?

KUDLOW: Hang on, if you -- well, a little bit. […] Regarding the larger point, OK, so he -- what he said last week in the tweet is, he can't order business. He's not ordering business. There's no emergency powers being invoked right now.

KEILAR: Well, he said he has the authority to do that.

KUDLOW: He merely said -- he may. As I said, there's nothing right now in the cards. Ultimately, we do have such authority, but it is not going to be exercised presently.

Nothing to see here, folks! Just a Trump Administration official floating the idea he'll use "emergency powers" to seize control of businesses. I mean, it's not like he has declared a bullshit "emergency" to go around the Constitution already. What's it called when the government controls the means of production again? You know, that thing Republicans are always falsely accusing others of?

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Elizabeth Warren Has A New Deal For Native America

Pity the main response will be 'Hurr hurr, Pocahontas!'

Elizabeth Warren is doing her best to put together a comprehensive package of interlocking policies that could make the American economy and government fairer, more equitable, more kind, and just all around better. It's pretty damned impressive -- and on the whole, probably the most progressive set of policy reforms since the New Deal. For instance, take a look at her proposal for remaking policy concerning Native Americans and other indigenous Americans. It's frankly the most serious, comprehensive proposal we've ever seen for addressing the problems facing Tribal nations -- which is saying something in itself, since most candidates do well to even mention them as part of vague statements about minority groups in general. For most of American history, presidential involvement with Native people could be typified by that old photo of Calvin Coolidge stiffly wearing a suit and Lakota headdress.

The pity is, most coverage of Warren's detailed proposal will probably look like Politico's: the very briefest mention of its content with some solemn chin-stroking about whether it will be enough to overcome Warren's perceived weakness with Native Americans in the wake of her dumb DNA test, plus speculation on just how much mileage Donald Trump will get from the One Joke That Is Funnier Than Anything. The three Republicans who even read the proposal will complain Warren is merely promising Free Stuff to buy votes, which is only allowed when you're talking about oil and coal companies.

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Jesus Must Be So Proud Of Texas's Alarming Cervical Cancer Rates

It's all going according to plan!

Back in 2007, Rick Perry, then governor of Texas, actually tried to do a good thing. Shocking, I know, but true. He signed an executive order requiring all girls entering the sixth grade to get the HPV vaccine — the time frame when the vaccine is most likely to be effective.

That never happened, because the anti-vaxxers did how the anti-vaxxers do, and they joined forces with the evangelicals, who knew that if there was no risk of dying of cervical cancer to scare them, girls would slut around with impunity. So they worked together to convince a majority of the state's lawmakers, Democrat and Republican, to override the governor.

At the time the vaccine was released, there was a whole lot of evangelical opposition to it on the grounds that it was a promiscuity-inducing vaccine. Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council famously said when the vaccine was finally approved, "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV. Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex."

These were the heady days of the abstinence-only movement, when teachers were comparing sexually active women to buckets of spit and licked candy bars, and young women across the country were dragged to purity balls wherein they promised their dads that they would remain virgins until marriage. It was pretty gross, actually.

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2020 presidential election

Elizabeth Warren Has A Plan For The Rural Jurors

It's Warren rural pluralism!

Elizabeth Warren is at it again with another policy proposal, this one aimed at revitalizing rural America, which she says has been squeezed by increasingly consolidated agribusinesses, and largely ignored by Washington. It's a good old progressive agenda for the heartland that should shut up anyone who thinks reaching out to rural voters means you have to sound like Donald Trump without the overt racism. Warren, who grew up in Oklahoma, knows better, as does Yr Editrix's mom.

The plan also makes an overt call for Democrats not to write off red-state progressives. Yes, there are more Dems in the urbs and suburbs, but you can't ignore such a big chunk of the country. (Hello, 50-state strategy!)

A strong America requires a strong rural America. Rural communities are home to 60 million people, hundreds of tribal nations, and a growing number of new immigrants who account for 37% of rural population growth. These communities feed our nation. And they are leading the country in sustainable energy, generating 99% of America's wind energy and pioneering efforts to harness solar energy.

As with many of her policy proposals, Warren emphasizes America is paying a huge opportunity cost by centering the economy on the already rich and the financial sector. Invest in rural areas, and millions of families will be able to create and develop wealth, benefiting the country as a whole. While we're at it, maybe it would be a good idea to notice that rural areas are on the front line of climate change -- if the nation's food supply is imperiled by changing growing conditions and invasive species, we're in a spot of trouble, no? (Wouldn't you know it, feral hogs are among the malign critters whose range and numbers are increasing with warmer climate. Fuckers are everywhere, though not in the Warren policy paper.)

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Unions Are Not Super Happy About Being Told They Hate Medicare For All

There goes that talking point!

This week, moderate Democrats tried super hard to deliver what they believed was going to be a crushing blow to those who support single-payer Medicare For All, an argument against it that at least sort of seemed like they were criticizing it from the Left, and for totally altruistic reasons. That argument was that Medicare For All was bad because unions had bargained for better health care plans from their employers, and we don't want to take that away from them.

People like me were supposed to go "Wait a minute! I love unions! I don't want to do something that would hurt unions! Guess we'll just have to settle for another crappy, half-assed attempt to nationalize healthcare while keeping insurance companies in the mix!"

We did not. Though we (or at least I) got yelled at on Twitter a lot for it.

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In Order To Keep Private Insurance Companies, Medicare For All Would Have To Kinda Suck

YES, ban private insurance! YES we can!

I almost felt a little bad for the gang at CNN last night. They spent the debates looking for a hero, a "moderate" Democrat who would be able to successfully convince voters that the progressives were "going TOO FAR." Someone who could be their new Joe Biden, but with less awkward baggage and more ability to carry themselves in a debate. Someone who could be the Elizabeth Warren of convincing people that not actually doing or changing anything but generally having a more pleasant demeanor than Donald Trump is the way to go. They tried so damn hard, and they ended up with this bloody mess.

The funny thing about this liberal media of ours is that you never see any of these interviewers breathlessly asking Republicans if they are afraid that their extreme views and policies will "scare" voters. Republicans don't have to care. As Pete Buttigieg pointed out last night, Republicans are allowed to be as ambitious as they like with their shit, which is actually terrifying and which will actually hurt people, but Democrats are supposed to walk on eggshells with things that will actually help people. Democratic candidates are supposed to act as if they know that liberal policies are a thing no one actually wants, like they are vegetables that have to be disguised as vegetti in order to get anyone to swallow them. This is a terrible marketing strategy. Part of the reason why I love Elizabeth Warren is because she does not play that game.

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Kamala Harris Healthcare Plan Is A COP. Just Kidding, It's Pretty Good Actually

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!

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Let's Wonk On CAP's Public Option Thingy!

If Medicare For All doesn't float your boat, how about this?

Yr Wonkette is generally in favor of single payer healthcare of some sort -- there are a bunch of different models used around the world, and they all manage to cover more people at lower cost than the patchwork of systems the US has. But if the electorate isn't able to bring itself to embrace Medicare for All in 2020, the Center for American Progress has an alternative proposal, "Medicare Extra," that would achieve the goal of universal coverage while allowing private insurance to continue. Think of it as a Really Big Public Option. The CAP is betting its alternative would prove so popular that employer-provided private plans would, over time, gradually fade away as more people go with Medicare Extra. Let's get wonky on it!

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Trump Fails To Gag Planned Parenthood

Guess some people and women's health organizations can't be bribed!

This past February, the Trump administration instituted a gag rule banning any organization that receives Title X funds from having anything to do with performing abortions or counseling patients about abortion. This means that if you are one of the four million low-income people who receive reproductive health care through Title X funds, you cannot discuss the option of abortion with your own doctor. That is pretty messed up!

Planned Parenthood agrees. Now that a judge has allowed the rule to go into effect while it is being challenged by Planned Parenthood, the American Medical Association, and several other groups, Planned Parenthood says it will stop taking federal funding. Time to get our our checkbooks, America!

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'Pro-Lifers' Don't Think Veterans Deserve In Vitro Treatments, Because 'Pro-Life'

Guess they hate the troops!

If there is anything the Right loves to talk about, it is how much they love fetuses and also the troops. They just can't get enough of them, they say, which perhaps explains why they keep dragging us all into unnecessary wars and opposing sex education in schools.

Thus, it may surprise you to learn that congressional Democrats are having a hell of a time trying to make permanent a federal program meant to cover the costs of in vitro fertilization for veterans whose injuries in combat have rendered them infertile. And yet they are! Why? Because many forced birth enthusiasts oppose IVF treatment, on account of the fact that (unless someone wants to go full Octomom) it requires the destruction of fertilized embryos.

I will give you a moment to try and process the mental gymnastics one would need to do in order to be more concerned about the destruction of embryos than they are about war, which so often results in the destruction of non-embryonic people.

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Trump Idiots Know Who To Blame For Trump's Baby Jails: DEMOCRATS!

We watch the Sunday shows so you don't have to!

After Mother Nature pissed all over Trump's wannabe-dictator attempted hijacking of the Fourth of July, the Sunday shows got back to discussing the Trump-created humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Not the influx of asylum seekers fleeing from horrible conditions in Central America (made worse by Trump cutting off aid to them), but the way our country has decided to cage them in concentration camps internment camps ... um ..."happy fun time summer camps"? After a visit by a congressional delegation and the Trump Administration's own DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) report provided video/photographic/written evidence of the deplorable conditions occurring in our name, it was time for Trump officials to deal with the real culprits: Democrats!

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