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2020 Congressional Elections

Amy McGrath, Please Beat Mitch McConnell Now, We Are All Sick Of His Stupid Face

McConnell boasts about his spectacular talent to halt progress and enable tyrants.

Amy McGrath — fighter pilot and perhaps the Rebellion's last hope — emailed me personally Friday to announce she's within one point of defeating human turtle libel, Mitch McConnell. Unfortunately, I can't as yet confirm the poll she references wasn't conducted in her residence, but it's been a long week of stories about racial slurs. Forgive me for grabbing onto any hope that we might actually ditch Mitch.

McGrath reported raising $6.2 million in the final three quarters of 2019 for a total of $16.9 million, which is just $2 million less than what Alison Lundergan Grimes raised in her failed 2014 attempt to unseat McConnnell. She currently has $9.1 million cash on hand. These are potent numbers. McConnell has $9.7 million in the bank, which is obviously more but he has to convince voters he's not Mitch McConnell. That's not cheap.

McConnell's campaign manager Kevin Golden dismissed McGrath's haul as the work of Jews and gay people liberal elites in New York and California, where conservatives insist no actual Americans live.

JERKASS: Any left-wing name on the ballot against Mitch McConnell will raise tens of millions from liberal elites in New York and California who want to eliminate Kentucky's power to shape policy in Washington. What they can't do is invent left wing voters in Kentucky who would cast a ballot for a candidate who would erase their voice like Amy McGrath.

Yes, McGrath is gonna "erase" Kentuckians voices and make them lip synch such popular liberal hits as "Representative Government" and "(I Can't Get No) Sham Trials." Donald Trump hates that last one. McGrath might've been born in Ohio, where all of Kentucky's slaves once fled, but she grew up in Kentucky and has every right to represent it in the Senate. She's also a combat veteran and a goddamn fighter pilot for the Marines. Republicans should show some respect, but these are the same people who voted for Donald Trump.

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Cops Behaving Badly

Portland, OR Man ‘Wins’ $1 Million On ‘Who Wants To Get Screwed By Racist Cops?’

This is horrifying.

Michael Fesser of Portland, Oregon, just received $600,000 in the cash settlement sweepstakes, but this isn't another upbeat lottery story. The city of West Linn, Oregon, negotiated the settlement because Fesser, who's black, was the target of an "unwarranted racially motivated surveillance and arrest." Former (thank God) West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus used his own officers to put the smackdown on Fesser as a "favor" for a fishing buddy.

The fishing buddy was Eric Benson, owner of A&B Towing, which is located in Southeast Portland sometime in the 1950s. Fesser, who'd worked for A&B since 2004, claimed in February of 2017 that coworkers had called him racial slurs, and one had asked him what he thought of a Confederate flag that decorated a pickup truck in the parking lot. Fesser escalated his concerns to Benson, who took an unconventional approach to addressing complaints of a hostile work environment: running to his buddy Police Chief Timeus and persuading him to "investigate" bogus charges that Fesser was stealing from the company. Timeus had his officers conduct audio surveillance of Fesser at work — without a court order or a warrant.

Benson kept in close contact with West Linn Detective Tony Reeves during all this, and the two exchanged homophobic and sexually explicit text messages. They also made more racist comments about Fesser. It was gracious of Benson to include Reeves in the hostile work environment.

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Environment

Hippie Enviros And Big Timber Reached A Deal, And Oregon GOP Is Losing Its Miiiiiiind

Wait, corporations care more about doing business than endless partisan war? Why?

As Oregon — or at least its most populous parts — has become an increasingly blue state, Republicans just don't know what to do with themselves, at least when they're not auctioning off semiautomatic rifles to honor Martin Luther King. There are still plenty of red counties once you get east of the Cascade Mountains, but the people they elect to the state legislature have been in the minority for some time, and have largely been reduced to just blocking as much legislation as they can manage — even if it means they have to bug out of the state to block climate legislation. The worst thing about their new status as the party of permanent obstruction? In the case of their walkout to prevent a vote on the cap-and-trade bill last June, it worked.

But now, the GOP delegation in the state lege faces a dire new threat: Some of the corporations Republicans assumed would always be on their side seem far more interested in making money than in sticking it to the Democratic majority. On Monday, a bunch of Oregon's timber industry groups announced they'd reached an agreement with a bunch of Oregon environmental groups — over two dozen industry and eco groups all together — to work with a mediator on future legislation. The two biggest goals are passing updates to the state's outdated forest-management laws, and creating a "statewide Habitat Conservation Plan" that would govern protections for endangered and threatened species on private timber acreage.

The memorandum of understanding between the industry and environmental groups should finally break a logjam (not a literal one) on legislation this session to regulate aerial pesticide spraying. The groups agreed to work together on the bill, and if it passes, neither side will launch lawsuits or ballot initiatives to block it. When she announced the agreement Monday, Gov. Kate Brown said it's "a genuine show of good faith from everyone involved" and that it would make sure "all key voices will be heard" in future legislation. Industry and environmental-group spokespeople made similar statements about playing nicely together and getting things done.

And that's why Republicans in the state Senate feel outraged and betrayed.

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Class War

Iowa Republicans Dicking Around With Food Stamps For Jesus

Let them eat state fair corndogs!

While the nation was paying attention to Iowa's dysfunctional caucus last week, the state's Republican-controlled legislature was working on some important legislation, like a bill to allow breweries in the state to purchase hard liquor, as long as it's used to create canned cocktails for the good of all. The Cedar Rapids Gazette informs us that important bill was introduced the day after the Iowa Brewer's Guild hosted a reception for state lawmakers, so let's hear it for the tradition of citizen outreach to let elected officials know what matters to constituents.

In addition to doing regulatory favors for brewpub hipsters, members of the Lege also had a thought for their less affluent constituents, and that thought mostly involved coming up with new ways of making it harder for people to qualify for food stamps (formally, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). You see, Fox News says there's too much waste and fraud in the SNAP program, and so Iowa Republicans need to add tougher eligibility requirements.

Not that some of the changes the Iowa legislature is talking about make a hell of a lot of sense!

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Class War

Grifty Mississippi 'Charity' Eated All The Welfare Monies

Don't worry, the money wasn't going to people on welfare anyway.

Mississippi is not a good place in which to be poor. It's the go-to state for other states with crappy social programs to compare themselves to: "Thank God for Mississippi!" (Alabama sometimes goes in the object slot, too.) Like many red states, Mississippi doesn't believe that poor people can be trusted to receive cash assistance, so instead, the state gives most of its federal "welfare" funds to nonprofit organizations that are supposed to fight poverty through job training, parenting classes, and other important services like telling poor people not to fuck.

Such programs may not reduce poverty in any measurable sense, but they're a great deal for the nonprofits being funded by federal anti-poverty money. So it probably shouldn't be too big a surprise that last week, several top people at "Mississippi Community Education Center," one of the state's biggest nonprofits, were arrested for embezzling millions of dollars that didn't even go to the pretense of providing services for the poor, as Mississippi Today details in a report that may have you hurling your computer across the room.

Get this: The investigation didn't just nab the director of the outfit, Nancy New, and several members of her family who worked for the nonprofit. New, who founded a private school in Jackson and tried but failed to get in on the charter school grift too, "has long had the support of state leadership and often appeared on conservative SuperTalk radio to promote her work." No telling how the criminal charges will affect her standing on the wingnut economic prosperity circuit, but she can probably claim she was victimized by Cultural Marxists.

The probe also led to the arrest of John Davis, the former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, the state agency responsible for disbursing the funds. Since 2018, the nonprofit had sucked up $53 million in funding from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the cash-assistance program that used to be called "welfare." The case is still under investigation, so the exact amount of embezzled funds hasn't been released.

But don't you worry: Mississippi only uses five percent of its annual TANF funding for direct payments to needy families, so even without the crimes, the money would have gone to programs that may or may not have actually been helping poor people. In a sense, this is really a case of some crooks stealing money from the legitimate grift they were already running. Isn't that a comfort?

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Local News

Former IA Gov Tom Vilsack Wins $150,000 Powerball Prize. That's It. That's The Headline.

Reading this post doesn't actually improve your chances to win the lottery.

Last week was a complete disaster for the Democratic Party specifically and the state of Iowa in general. However, one Iowa Democrat did come out the other side in good shape. Iowa lottery officials announced Monday that Tom Vilsack claimed a $150,000 Powerball prize at the lottery headquarters in Clive, Iowa. Vilsack was mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and later served in the Iowa Senate. He was governor of Iowa for eight years before serving as Secretary of Agriculture for the entirety of Barack Obama's presidency. That's all very nice, but it's nothing compared to scoring 150,000 big ones in the lottery.

When accepting his winnings, Vilsack made sure to talk up all the positives of legalized gambling.

VILSACK: Occasionally when the Powerball gets above $250 million, I think, "What the heck?" You know, you can dream, like everybody else. And I also know that the chances of me winning anything are next to none and so the money is going to go to education or veterans or the state fund for natural resources or infrastructure, or all the good things that the lottery does. So, I figure it's a good contribution.
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Education

Babies Hurt By Flint's Water Are Struggling In School. Thanks, Fiscal 'Conservatives.'

But look at all the money they saved!

The children of Flint, Michigan, haven't gone away. They're in school -- have been from the start of the 2014 water crisis, of course. But now the babies harmed at the very beginning of the lead poisoning emergency are reaching school age, and as public radio station WBUR's "Here and Now" reports, Flint schools have a far higher percentage of kids in special education than in schools in areas not treated to lead-poisoned water due to a Republican governor's fiscal shock policy.

[Flint's] rate of special education students has grown steadily since the water crisis began — 28% of students are in special education programs, while the national average is about 13%.

In response, over a dozen Flint families, with help from the ACLU of Michigan, the Education Law Center of New Jersey, and a private law firm, are suing the Flint school district and the Michigan Department of Education in federal court. They argue that the school district and state haven't been meeting their obligations to identify kids with special needs and provide them with an appropriate education as required by federal law. It's one of several ongoing lawsuits over the lead poisoning.

While the lawsuit was filed by 15 Flint families as plaintiffs, the attorneys are seeking to expand it to a class action that would cover all the kids in Flint. The case should be going to trial later this spring.

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Cops Behaving Badly

How Many Liberals Can We Blame For The Shooting Of NYPD Officers?

It's a sick game with no winners.

Robert Williams shot two New York City police officers Saturday night. Sunday morning, he continued his rampage at a police precinct in the Bronx, where he opened fire and shot a police lieutenant. He also injured another officer who was trying to subdue him before being taken into custody.

This was a terrible act of violence, but now it seems the looming question is who else is responsible other than the actual gunman. The police union pinned blame on Democratic state legislators who are apparently soft on crime. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea believed police protestors were accomplices in the "premeditated assassination attempt."

SHEA: Just remember these things are not unrelated. We have people marching in New York City last week and I condemned it and I condemn it right here again today -- using profanities against the Police Department.

They are in fact completely unrelated. However, Mayor Bill De Blasio agreed with Shea's top-notch police work.

DE BLASIO: Anyone who spews hatred at our officers is aiding and abetting this kind of atmosphere. It's not acceptable. You can protest whatever for whatever you believe in, but you cannot vilely attack those who are here to protect us. It creates this kind of dynamic.

This a crazy irresponsible statement. Roughly 500 people gathered last month in Grand Central Terminal to protest the increased police presence in subways. Demonstrators held up signs stating "Poverty is not a crime" and "The real fare beaters are on Wall Street." Some even led a call-and-response chant: "How do you spell racist? N-Y-P-D." People might consider that rude, but it's also free speech. What it definitely isn't is criminal facilitation. Saying mean things about the police didn't provide Williams with either the means or the opportunity to shoot cops.

The mayor shouldn't use the term "aiding and abetting" metaphorically. It has a specific definition. If de Blasio has evidence that the protestors had previous knowledge of Williams's intentions and actively helped him in any way, he should contact the police. However, disagreeing with police tactics or even just straight-up disliking the police aren't the same on a moral or practical level as actually trying to murder police officers.

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Nice Time

Nice Time! NYC Helping Out New Moms Like A Common Finland

But how will they become rugged individualists if they don't face postpartum stress and depression alone?

If this week has you doubting there's any hope at all, read this: New York City is doing something neat and smart and kind. Starting this spring in Brooklyn, and eventually expanding to the entire city, a new program will let new parents request home visits from baby experts -- that is, adults who know about babies, not babies, whose expertise is often limited to chewing their own feet and pooping. The idea is to help new parents make sense of the small squalling human beings who have suddenly invaded their homes, and to check up on how the parents are doing, too.

The program, with the straightforward name "New Family Home Visits," will provide up to six home visits from a nurse, community health worker, or doula, and will be available to all new parents. Heck, the visits will even be available to new adoptive parents and parents who used surrogates.

Blue babbling binkies! Did Finland (home of the free baby-supplies box that doubles as a crib) go and annex New York City while we weren't looking? If so, can Finland just take over altogether? This is what governments should be doing everywhere!

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2020 Congressional Elections

Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, Actual Resident Of Elijah Cummings's District, Wins Primary For His Seat

Protect this House. I will.

No one will ever take the place of Elijah Cummings, may his name be for blessing. He was a giant, gone far too soon. He was my congressman for more than a decade, and I remember so clearly when he addressed Michael Cohen after his congressional testimony:

Let me tell you the picture that really, really pained me. You were leaving the prison, you were leaving the courthouse, and, I guess it's your daughter, had braces or something on. Man that thing, man that thing hurt me. As a father of two daughters, it hurt me. And I can imagine how it must feel for you. But I'm just saying to you — I want to first of all thank you. I know that this has been hard. I know that you've faced a lot. I know that you are worried about your family. But this is a part of your destiny. And hopefully this portion of your destiny will lead to a better, a better, a better Michael Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America, and a better world. And I mean that from the depths of my heart.

When we're dancing with the angels, the question we'll be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?

I think about this a lot. I don't know where we go from here as a country, I don't know how we climb out of this pit of rage and hate. The path will be steeper without Congressman Cummings.

But we do have to keep climbing, and yesterday was the special election to fill Cummings's open House seat in West Baltimore and the surrounding suburbs.

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2020 democratic primary

WTF Is An Iowa Caucus Anyway?

It's a hot mess is what it is! But we'll splain it to you.

You know how at the county fair you and your family of God-fearing Americans line up to place your bets on whichever little pig can run through an obstacle course the fastest, while you sit in the stands eating a corndog and a turkey leg and a fried oreo and a doughnut and a soft-serve ice cream cone? Caucuses are just like that, but at the end of the night, they make the winning pig president. More or less.

Anyway, let's skip the history lesson on WHY IS CAUCUS and move straight to the part you actually care about, which is WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TONIGHT? And also, WHY IS EVERYONE SAYING THIS WILL BE A SHITSHOW? The answer is ANYONE WHO SAYS THEY KNOW IS LYING, and OMG, ALL THE WAYS. Here's how it will go down.

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Ukraine

Lindsey Graham Is No Longer Welcome At Jill Biden, Her Husband's House

Dr. Biden unfriends Lindsey Graham on live TV.

Dr. Jill Biden, her husband's most enthusiastic supporter, was a guest on CNN's "New Day" this morning. During the interview, she officially declared the Bidens' friendship with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham "so yesterday." Ever since Graham became Donald Trump's personal wet wipe, Dr. Biden doesn't even know who he is anymore. (Hint: He's a sycophantic slimeball.)

DR. BIDEN: I don't know what happened to Lindsey. We used to be great friends. And friends with John McCain. We've traveled together with the foreign relations committee. We've had dinner. Now he's changed.

It's probably tough to accept, but there's a great likelihood that Graham himself hasn't personally changed. He's only changed toward the Bidens because they are no longer useful to him. I'm sure they had lots of fun together when the Bidens were more politically convenient. Graham's a Southerner and Southerners are charming. This is not a dig at Delaware, which I've always enjoyed driving through on my way to someplace else, but I don't think the Bidens were prepared for that level of a charm offensive.

At his core, Graham is a political scorpion who likes to hitch rides to relevance on the backs of trusting frogs. Ironically, Graham will never disappoint Donald Trump because everything in life is transactional to the president. Trump has never had a real friend in his entire miserable life -- just an ever-changing series of mutually advantageous alliances, and like any good supervillain team-up, it's only a question of who'll betray the other party first.

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State/Local Politics

Montana Republican Very Sure The Constitution Says He Can Murder All The Socialists

There were no socialists at the time the Constitution was written.

If there is anything the Right loves, it is making up weird shit about the Constitution. Traditionally, this is confined to thinking that criticizing them or not giving them a platform violates their First Amendment rights or pretending the Second Amendment gives them the right to overthrow the government and definitely has nothing to do with a standing army, but every once in a while, they do get creative.

And Montana State Rep. Rodney Garcia is nothing if not creative.

On Saturday, after listening to a speech by former Secretary of the Interior/former Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, Rep. Garcia shared his super normal fears that the socialists are everywhere and invading the government and his glove compartment, and hiding under his bed. He explained that the Constitution says that the punishment for being a socialist is prison or the death penalty.

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2020 Congressional Elections

Kentucky Rep. Just Wants To Be Loved By Trump. Is That So Wrong?

Thomas Massie runs ads in Florida to show Trump how much he loves him.

Republican House Rep. Thomas Massie is running campaign ads in Florida. What's strange is that he represents Kentucky's fourth congressional district. Floridians can't vote in Kentucky elections. Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn't even want them voting in Florida elections. But Donald Trump is a Florida Man these days, and Massie's trying to appeal to the president on his secret red state hot line, Fox News.

Massie, a four-term congressman, has bought ad time in the South Florida vicinity of Mar-a-Lago. He wants to plant the idea in Trump's feeble mind that Massie's Republican primary challenger, Todd McMurtry, "hates" the mad king. McMurtry, an attorney, has repeatedly hit Massie over his breaks with Trump on policy. Massie voted to prevent Trump from taking military action against Iran without the approval of Congress. He also said "no" to Trump's trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. He even voted to overturn Trump's emergency WALL funding.

It's no wonder Massie has gone topsy-turvy on McMurtry. His new ad highlights all the mean things McMurtry has said about Trump on social media. McMurtry called the president an "idiot" and the "epitome of a weak male." He even dared agree with Hillary Clinton that Trump was "temperamentally unqualified" to serve. (Fact check: All true.)

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2020 Congressional Elections

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins Movin' On That Senate Race Like A Tick Hound In Heat

Come on Trump, you know you don't want to endorse a lady!

Congressman Doug Collins is about to make Georgia's US senate race a whole lot more interesting. Yesterday the ardent Trump supporter announced that he's running to fill out the remaining two years of Johnny Isakson's term after the senior senator retired on December 31 for health reasons. The problem is that Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp already appointed someone to that seat, and it isn't Doug Collins.

The GOP may appear to have whittled itself to a party of one, catering only to the whims of an orange manchild with brains the consistency of ramen noodles, but still Brian Kemp, who only beat out Stacey Abrams in 2018 by the tiniest of margins, managed to resist Donald Trump's pressure to appoint Collins to the vacant seat. He opted instead for gazillionaire Kelly Loeffler, who can dump $20 million into the campaign and maybe use her two X-chromosomes to stanch the party's bleeding with suburban women.

Which is NO FAIR for Doug Collins, who filibustered that House impeachment hearing like an auctioneer hawking a 2012 Dodge Ram on the East Asscrack County courthouse steps. He earned this one fair and square, and now he's taking it.

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Healthcare

Need Another Reason For Universal Healthcare? How About Ending *Medical Debtor's Prison*?

Are there no workhouses? Oh, there are?

It sucks to be poor in America. Especially when your misery is treated as a revenue stream. Some areas are even paying for local government by ramping up court fees and fines, essentially bringing back a form of Debtor's Prison. ProPublica reports on a fun new variation on that scheme: A sharp attorney for a medical debt collection agency in Coffeyville, Kansas, has built a good business by convincing a judge to help him put the screws to poor people.

The local magistrate judge, David Casement, summons people with unpaid medical bills again and again to court appearances so they can explain to the attorney, Michael Hassenplug, why they haven't paid bills to doctors, ambulance services, or the local hospital. Hassenplug requires they account for all their assets and prove they can't afford to pay, and then he decides whether to "set up a payment plan, to garnish wages or bank accounts, to put a lien on a property."

If people fail to show up, Judge Casement issues a contempt citation, and then if they miss that contempt hearing, he has them arrested. The $500 in bail he sets then goes to whichever medical outfit the person owes money to, and Hassenplug gets a nice fee -- as much as 33 percent -- from the money recovered for the creditor. Meanwhile, the debtors go deeper and deeper into debt.

Isn't that a lot better than socialism?

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