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Healthcare

Kansas Expanding Medicaid. Yes, That Kansas!

Healthcare: no longer the matter with Kansas.

In Kansas, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and the Republican leaders of the state legislature announced today they've reached an agreement to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It's not only honest-to-God bipartisanship, but in a genuine surprise, the more than 100,000 Kansans who'll get Medicaid coverage won't even be subjected to poor-people punishing work requirements that are all the rage in red states these days. It's a heck of a nice development, considering that expansion had been blocked by Republicans in the legislature last fall. Kelly ran on it, so of course they couldn't let it pass. Kelly's predecessor, Sam Brownback, repeatedly blocked Medicaid expansion and crashed the state's revenues through deep tax cuts that somehow never resulted in prosperity.

Now, of course, the Kansas Lege still has to actually pass the legislation, so Kansans making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level may not want to go scheduling any "I got live-saving surgery without going bankrupt" parties yet. Still, with Republican leaders on board, it looks hopeful.

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Class War

But If Gavin Newsom Helps Fix California's Homelessness, What Will Trump Gloat About?

Newsom wants a $1.4 billion down payment on getting people out from the underpasses.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a suite of proposals aimed at helping homeless people get housing, health care, and access to services, making homelessness a top priority for the state's budget in 2020. Newsom released the plan in a memo yesterday, ahead of his formal annual budget proposal which is expected by Friday. The two biggest parts of the proposal are a new $750 million fund that would provide county and municipal governments with funding to get people into housing (and to help keep them from losing their homes in the first place), and another $700 million aimed at addressing health needs by expanding the state's Medicaid alternative, Medi-Cal, to better assist people with mental health services and integrate Medi-Cal with other social services that will help people get into stable housing.

In addition, Newsom signed an executive order directing state agencies to identify vacant state-owned land and buildings that can be used for emergency shelters and for longer-term housing needs. The order will release 100 trailer homes to cities and counties to house people temporarily, as well as instituting a study of root causes of homelessness in the state, and creating a "strike team" to reshape California's mental health services for the homeless.

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State/Local Politics

Virginia Democrats Get Petty, And It Is A Glorious Sight

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.

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Sex

Y'all Other Judges Just Jealous You Don't Have A Pastor Boner Gee-tar Strummer Work Boyfriend Like This Lady Does

HERE IS ROMANCE.

It's a typical story, a tale as old as time, a Hallmark movie that just hasn't been made yet.

Boy meets girl. Girl, likewise, meets boy.

Girl is a judge in the family court in Kentucky! Boy is a pastor, or at least he used to be one!

Girl and boy fall in love, or at least fall into the traditional boning position on a semi-regular basis, and it is such a Martha Stewart Good Thing that girl hires boy to work at courthouse, as "case specialist."

Boy plays gee-tar and sings songs, probably romance songs, probably Savage Garden or something, but maybe Jesus songs because former "pastor." Boy does this at courthouse, like, all the time, which leads girl's and boy's coworkers to be like "Ugh."

Sounds like they boned, at courthouse.

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Nice Time

Nice Time: Women Not In Blackface Run Virginia Now

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.

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2016 Presidential Election

Yeah, Pennsylvania's Great. But Have You Tried ARIZONA?

Mark Kelly is a goddamn astronaut!

Go West, young man! Don't spend all your time and energy in the Rust Belt, because we have just as good a shot at taking Arizona's 11 electoral votes as we do Wisconsin's 10. And we have a better than even chance of picking up a Senate seat in the Grand Canyon state if we can somehow induce our voters to show up like they did in 2018, when they rejected Martha McSally the first time. Which is why the senator just hit the panic button and begged for a bailout from out-of-state donors.

This morning, Public Policy Polling (PPP), a Democratic pollster, published new numbers on Arizona and Iowa. Trump has never been popular in Arizona, and 52 percent of respondents to a phone/text poll conducted in the past two weeks disapprove of the president. Even against a historically unpopular candidate in 2016 (we're not going to fight about this now!), Trump was only able to win by 3.6 percent, as compared to Romney's 9 point margin in 2012. And while he polls basically even with Joe Biden, and only slightly ahead of Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg, about 8 percent of respondents remain undecided.

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Healthcare

Utah Flies Public Employees To Mexico To Fill Prescriptions And Isn't That Normal AF?

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!

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News

Other Than That, Rod Blagojevich, How Did You Like Trump's Impeachment?

Pardon me?

Like a seat in the US Senate, a presidential pardon is a fucking valuable thing. You just don't give it away for nothing.

Rod Blagojevich -- do you remember? -- is back, this time with an op-ed that compares both himself and President Pussygrabber to none other than Abraham Lincoln. In a piece for right-wing propaganda outlet Newsmax, titled "House Democrats Would Have Impeached Lincoln."

And, honestly ... it's amazing.

The man who was impeached and sent to prison for public corruption after trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat apparently has a lot to say about impeachment and public corruption. Some of it is a desperate attempt for a pardon from President Extortion. And the rest of it is a simultaneously sad and hilarious attempt to liken himself and Trump to Abraham Lincoln.

The piece is appropriately batshit and hits all of Trump's favorite nonsensical talking points. From invoking Queen Nancy as the bad guy ...

Recently I've wondered what would have happened had Nancy Pelosi been the Speaker of the House when Abraham Lincoln was president.

... to falling in line with the GOP pig manure about how today's Democrats are bad because Democrats in the 1860s were bad ...

In fact, at the time Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Democrats of that day opposed it.

... and the false claim that impeachment is the same as undoing an election.

And the worst part of it is, that should this happen, those politicians are taking from the people their right to choose their own leaders though free elections.

Buckle up, kids. This is going to be a bumpy -- and hilarious! -- ride.

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White Nonsense

Look At This F*cking Hitler

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.

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Right Wing Extremism

New York Times: Domestic Rightwing Terrorists Now 'Alt-Gov'

'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
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Right Wing Extremism

Washington State Rep Just An America-Loving Domestic Terrorist, Report Finds

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.

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sex crimes

Matt Bevin, Who Pardoned A Child Rapist, Has Thoughts On 'Hymen'

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.

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Vote suppression

Georgia Voter Purge Makes Strong Case For Return Of General Sherman

Or at least Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

After a federal judge gave the go-ahead Monday, the Great State of Georgia announced it would purge more than 300.000 people from the state's voting rolls. Not because they did fraud or anything, but because they didn't vote often enough, at least according to Georgia's dubious records. Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams, argued that the cancellations will eliminate about 120,000 voters who would be eligible to vote were it not for Georgia's dumb "use it or lose it" law, which strikes people from the rolls if they haven't voted in a general election since 2012. The remaining people to be purged either moved out of state, or were assumed to be unpersons after mail sent by state election commissars was returned as undeliverable.

What a great day for democracy, with fewer people able to vote!

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Impeachment

Some Dick Won't Be Terrible Partisan Democrat No More, Will Be Terrible Partisan Republican Instead

Good luck not being in Congress, Jeff Van Drew!

Anti-impeachment Democrat Jeff Van Drew is leaving the party and joining the United Federation of Republicans or whatever it is Donald Trump's calling the GOP these days. The good news is this reduces the number of possible Democratic defections when the House votes on impeachment this week. The bad news is this reduces the number of Democratic House members.

Last year, Van Drew replaced retiring Republican incumbent Frank LoBiondo as representative for New Jersey's second congressional district. Van Drew's opponent in the race was Seth Grossman. Grossman dismissed diversity as "crap," called Islam a "cancer," and insisted that reports of racial oppression were greatly "exaggerated." He's not a pleasant man. The national GOP went so far as to withdraw its support for Grossman, whom Van Drew creamed in November.

LoBiondo was a reliable vote for Trump in a district that the president won by five percent. Van Drew, however, has voted in line with Trump just seven percent of the time. To put this in perspective, Ayanna Pressley's "Trump score" is seven percent, Rashida Tlaib's is 8.8 percent, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's is 14 percent. Van Drew is practically a member of The Squad. He's voted against Trump on health care, WALL, Syria, climate change, and gun safety. He'd bring the Rockefeller back to the Republican Party.

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Crime

Headless Woman In Kentucky Jar

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."

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Science

NJ Anti-Vaxxers Somehow Protesting Traffic Problems In Fort Lee

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."

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