Pay attention, Senate Democrats!
We've often argued that Democrats need to play hardball, and the new Democratic Senate majority in Virginia is showing how it's done. Yesterday, Republican state Sen. Amanda Chase learned she was serving on just one committee -- local government -- after the Democrats approved committee assignments. She used to serve on three more -- education and health; privileges and elections; and transportation. She's the only senator to serve on just one committee and the only Republican not in their first term who isn't on at least three.
But no one likes Amanda Chase for the complicated reason that she's terrible. Chase, who likes to pack a visible pistol on the Senate floor, ran a Facebook ad last September stating that she "wasn't afraid to shoot down gun groups." She later claimed the digital media company she hired "screwed up" her original ad. In July, she posted on her official Facebook page: "It's those who are naive and unprepared that end up raped. Sorry but I'm not going to be a statistic." Facebook hasn't done Chase many favors.
We're very happy about this.
Democrats won majorities in both chambers of the Virginia legislature last year. We can now fully bask in that victory. Eileen Filler-Corn was sworn in today as the first woman speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. This legislative body has existed for 401 years and women were around for most of that time, so it's long overdue.
Filler-Corn is Jewish, which is another first. She also congratulated Charniele Herring, who is now both the first woman and first black majority leader.
FILLER-CORN: This session brings many firsts. We will have the first women of color to lead committees and have a historically diverse group of committee chairs and vice-chairs. And these leaders are Members of the most diverse House of Delegates in Virginia history. This House is not only diverse in terms of race or gender. The Members of this House represent a wide range of experience, thought, orientation, religion, and backgrounds. We are truly a body that represents all the people.
Virginia has trended blue for a while now. Both US senators are Democrats. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton each carried the state during their presidential races. Flipping the House means we can accomplish more legislatively while building a strong bench for future statewide races.
You know, that seems like a symptom of some kind.
Utah came up with a great idea to save big money on prescription drugs: Fly public employees who need the most expensive meds to Mexico, where they can purchase the same drugs they'd get in US America for about half what they cost here. And as an incentive, the program, called "RX Tourism," pays airfare for the employee and one family member, plus $500 per trip to get a 90-day supply of meds. The savings in costs to the state insurance plan more than cover the cost of the travel and the $500 cash payouts. It's such a big savings for some employers that there's an entire niche industry built around arranging trips for Americans to purchase drugs at Mexican hospitals. The Salt Lake Tribune ran a jaw-dropping story on the arrangement Sunday.
You know, maybe what we laughingly call our healthcare "system" is completely fucked up if those are the lengths employers and states are going to so they can cover pricey prescription drugs. But at least it's not socialism!
Lena Taylor is already on our 2020 legislative badass short list.
Last year's Black History Month began with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's blackface scandal that wasn't (he's still in office). We thought things couldn't get worse, but Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen has plans to make Black History Month white again. Allen -- a Republican, naturally -- circulated a resolution identifying 10 people he believes were instrumental to the state's Underground Railroad system. The problem is that six of the 10 people are white. Apparently, you can't commemorate the Underground Railroad -- not even during Black History Month -- without highlighting the efforts of the white people who let runaway slaves crash in their secret Airbnbs. That's like celebrating Anne Frank without giving props to the attic. You can't just snub the attic like Chewbacca at the end of Star Wars.
State Sen. Lena Taylor dragged Allen to the curb for trash pickup in a recent interview. She's our new favorite person.
TAYLOR: Why should [Allen] be leading what we do on Black History Month? The fact that this even needs to be discussed is a reflection of where we are as a society. I wake up every day as a black woman, I'm not exactly sure what it is that Scott Allen believes he knows better than me.
Allen, to his credit, tried to explain what it is he knows better than a black woman. It was more than just the lyrics to Paul Anka's "Puppy Love."
In related news, your Wonkette has withdrawn our name from consideration from the Miss America contest.
Sad face! The people of New Hampshire won't get to vote for Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski this November. Surely he would have cruised to victory over sitting Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who won office seven times in the state and whose net approval rating of 20 points makes her one of the most popular senators in the country.
From his very first race in 1994 for the Massachusetts House of Representatives where he swept to a narrow 7,157-7 loss, to his 1,941-714 squeaker in the race to (not) be treasurer of Windham, New Hampshire, Lewandowski is a proven WINNER.
Oh you can't, she got fired from 'cultural diversity trainer.'
Ding dong, the Nazis are gone.
Last month, a photo depicting 31 graduating West Virginia corrections officers doing a Nazi salute, with the caption "Hail Byrd" for one of the students' instructors, became public. Now, all of the cadets, the instructor they were saluting, and two other staffers from the Corrections Academy have been fired. Four additional instructors who saw the photograph and failed to report it to their superiors have been suspended with pay. And the Anti-Defamation League has been asked to help prepare Holocaust education for future Corrections Academy courses.
SHOCKINGLY, an investigation confirms exactly what we all expected it to.
How does he keep on impressing us like that?
When Elijah Cummings died in October, his congressional campaign had about a million bucks in funds ready to go for his 2020 reelection campaign. And while it's legal for campaigns of retired or deceased politicians to linger on for years, using unspent funds to influence future elections by supporting other candidates or political action committees, that's not what's going to happen with the money currently held by the Cummings for Congress Campaign Committee. Campaign treasurer Ronald Thompson emailed the Baltimore Sun to let the paper know Cummings said he wanted the funds to go to programs for local youth, like helping poor kids pay for college.
The committee "is in the process of winding down operations," Thompson wrote. "We contemplate that, in accordance with Congressman Cummings' wishes, at the conclusion of this process, any 'excess campaign funds' will be transferred to educational and charitable organizations for the purpose of need-based college scholarships and youth leadership programs."
That sounds like exactly the sort of thing Cummings, who went from being the child of sharecroppers to being a voice of moral clarity in Congress, would want. Even after he's been gone for months, he can make us get a bit teary-eyed with his vision of an America that's fairer and kinder for everyone.
About as much as they could hope for.
A man with a shotgun opened fire in a church in White Settlement (yes, really), Texas, yesterday, killing two parishioners before two members of the church's armed volunteer security team shot and killed the gunman. Police and state and local officials praised the quick response by the security volunteers for preventing a far worse massacre, and advocates of guns everywhere triumphantly pointed to the incident as proof guns save lives, at least after some lives are already lost.
'Kill all males' could mean anything.
Last week, a report commissioned by the Washington state House of Representatives detailed the ties between Rep. Matt Shea and the armed "patriot" movement, including his participation in three armed standoffs against federal law enforcement. The report said Shea had helped plan the 2016 Bundy Dildo Militia takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, saying his participation amounted to engaging in "an act of domestic terrorism against the United States." On Monday, the New York Times published a detailed story on the report and on Shea's vision for how he and his wingnut buddies could seize power in the Pacific Northwest and establish a theocracy, once America finally gets the blessed second Civil War that Barack Obama was so intent on bringing. It's some pretty good journamalism, all in all! Bummer it was graced with one of those indelibly bland New York Times headlines that bends over backward to downplay Shea's rightwing radicalism:
Congratulations to the New York Times for the most dishonest use of "alternative" since Kellyanne Conway! Reminds us of other great headlines:
- Titanic Takes Alternative Route
- Jeffrey Dahmer Pursued Alternative Diet
- Japanese Navy offers Alternative to Hawaii's Sunday Routine
- Jack Ruby Had Visions of an Alternative Justice System
Amazing reading. I'll be in my bunker.
An independent report commissioned by Washington's state House of Representatives finds that Rep. Matt Shea, who likes playing Jesus Warrior with militia types, helped to plan the 2016 Bundy Slob Militia takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, as well as another, less-publicized armed confrontation between militia goobers and federal agents in Idaho in 2015. Like many crazies in the so-called "Patriot" antigovernment movement, Shea was in part radicalized by traveling to Nevada in 2014 to help Cliven Bundy declare war on federal agents.
In addition to those three armed standoffs, the report says Shea
took part in a group chat in 2017 where he "condoned violence and intimidation" of his political opponents, and offered to conduct background checks on them.
The report also details how, from 2014 to 2019, Shea routinely used online forums to encourage his supporters to harass and intimidate "activists, government officials, Muslims, and others who speak or act in opposition to his personal beliefs and political agenda." As one does.
He seems nice!
The consequences were pretty darn quick, as reported by Crosscut, a nonprofit news consortium that covers the Northwest (it's a pretty cool outfit!). After the report was released yesterday, Washington state's House Republican Caucus suspended Shea, cutting off his access to shared House legislative staff and barring him from all Republican internal meetings and reindeer games. Shea has also been booted from membership on two House committees, as well as from his ranking position on the House Energy and Environment Committee.
As you might expect, Shea took to Facebook to whine he's being WITCH HUNTED!
The poor persecuted dear.
On the other hand, he really loves him some Trump.
On his way out of office earlier this month, former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin pardoned or commuted sentences for 428 prisoners in the state. Among them were a raft of seriously violent crimers, including a murderer whose family happened to have been huge campaign donors to Bevin. He also pardoned a few people convicted of sexually assaulting children, mostly because he decided all on his own that the juries had gotten the decision wrong. In an interview with a talk radio station yesterday, Bevin explained he had no regrets over pardoning a guy convicted of repeatedly raping a 9-year-old girl, because in his expert medical opinion, there was no forensic evidence she'd been raped. Matt Bevin, we must emphasize, is not a doctor.
Just a quick warning: What Bevin said was horrifying, and of necessity, we need to discuss the details of rape in this story. You may decide a story on contaminated pork more tolerable this morning.
It's like the Elf on a Shelf story, but different!
It's the Friday before Christmas, so why not how 'bout we get into the yuletide spirit with a tale as old as time, of romance and King's Hawaiian Roast Beef Sliders and the Arby's gift cards that bring allllllll the boys to the yard?
If you've been on "the internet" this week, you might be familiar with the general bones (LOL "bones") of this story.
There is a man, and he is named Barry Poyner, and he is a self-described "DILF." (If you don't know what that stands for, get offline and knit culottes for your cats, GRANDPA.)
Barry is also a church elder at the Kirksville Church of Christ in Kirksville, Missouri, which, as you might have guessed, is part of the Church of Christ. (Motto: Fags Are The Devil, And So Are Pianos!)
You know where this going. That's right, it's going through the drive-thru at the Arby's on the north side of Kirksville near the Home Depot, because hey, Barry the church DILF just met you (on Grindr), and this is crazy, but here is AN ARBY'S GIFT CARD, so please, male college student, order whatever you want, within reason!
In exchange for sex, obviously.
Barry has been charged with prostitution.
Matt Bevin does some pardons on his way out the door.
After narrowly losing his reelection bid to Democrat Andy Beshear, lameduck Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has gone on a pardoning spree, pardoning 428 prisoners between losing the election and Wednesday, his final day in office. It's not unusual for governors to issue pardons on their way out of office, but those pardons don't typically include quite so many prisoners convicted or homicide or sexual assault. And in at least one case, Bevin pardoned a dude whose family members were big-time Bevin donors, and who even hosted a fundraiser to retire Bevin's campaign debt.
Among those Bevin pardoned, as the Louisville Courier-Journal notes, were "one offender convicted of raping a child, another who hired a hit man to kill his business partner and a third who killed his parents." Also a couple of parents who, in separate cases, killed their babies.
You have to admit, it would have made a hell of a reelection slogan: "Four More Years -- Or I Let The Child Rapist Out."
They're not about to let Big Room Scheduling push them around.
At the New Jersey statehouse Thursday, hundreds of angry anti-vaxxers packed into a hearing room to demand their voices be heard. It was the wrong hearing room, but they demanded to be heard anyway, because this is America.
The crowd wanted to express their opposition to a bill that would eliminate the state's religious exemption for vaccine requirements, but they somehow ended up in a room where a completely unrelated hearing for New Jersey Transit was scheduled. And no, they weren't going anywhere -- just like ambulances in Fort Lee.
Gosh, you mean to say that even when they were informed of the facts and advised that if they wanted to achieve their aims, they should literally change where they stood, they refused to listen? Seems like that's very on-brand. Good for them, refusing to be told how to live their lives by a bunch of so-called "experts" and "authorities."
When you've lost the Gateway Pundit...
Omar Navarro, the minor (but aren't they all?) Trumpworld celebrity who made a name for himself by running for Congress against Maxine Waters, was arrested in the wee hours Sunday and charged with multiple felonies after he was seen lurking outside the San Francisco apartment building where his former girlfriend lives. Navarro was charged with three felonies (stalking, criminal threats, and attempted extortion) and a misdemeanor charge for violating a protective order against him. Navarro's target, DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, had applied for the five-year protective order earlier this year after months of harassment and death threats -- including some threats that allegedly came from a phone number connected to yet another TrumpWorld hanger-on, Jacob Wohl. Thankfully, that's the last of Wohl you'll hear in this story, so count your blessings, you.
And there's some good damn programs gonna get funded too!
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he's taking action to release half a billion dollars in funding to address homelessness. The money is part of a $650 million package of emergency funding already approved by state legislators, but held up because the Trump administration has dragged its feet on releasing data that would allow the money to be spent. Cities and counties can begin applying for funding immediately.
While more federal money to help with California's homelessness crisis would help, this delay has nothing to do with Trump demanding Newsom investigate Joe Biden. The San Jose Mercury News explains how the federal government managed to prevent California from spending its own damn money:
The governor accused the Trump administration of trying to politicize the issue and preventing the funding from getting to local officials who can put it to use. State law says that funding allocations ultimately must be based off homeless counts approved by the federal government. But Newsom's office says Trump's team has been sitting on the data for months.
So instead, California will use preliminary homeless estimates to distribute $500 million and wait for the final numbers to allocate the remainder of the funds.
What? The feds are holding up routine government data at a time when Donald Trump is routinely attacking California for supposedly not doing enough about homelessness? Pardon us while we locate our shocked faces. Also not surprising: The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is responsible for the data on homelessness, didn't return the Mercury News's request for comment. Ben Carson was probably shopping for furniture.
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