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Debate / Sen. Kamala Harris proposes The LIFT Act
« on: October 22, 2018, 03:42:11 PM »

As the latest Democratic response to last year's watershed GOP tax bill, Sen. Kamala Harris has introduced LIFT, a tax plan that she says would bolster the middle class. The legislation, titled the LIFT (Livable Incomes for Families Today) the Middle Class Act, seeks to provide a tax credit up to $6,000 for lower- and middle-income households, as well as represent a massive wealth redistribution effort if enacted.

"Our tax code should reflect our values," Harris said in a Thursday press release, "and instead of more tax breaks for the top 1 percent and corporations, we should be lifting up millions of American families."

LIFT would provide refundable tax credits for people in the lower and middle classes. Households that earn less than $100,000 a year would receive a credit of up to $6,000 a year, while single filers that earn less than $50,000 a year would receive a credit of up to $3,000.

This proposal is bold, at least when compared to the current system. A tax credit directly reduces the amount of taxes you have to pay, dollar for dollar. In other words, if you owe $2,000 in taxes and get a $100 credit, you'd instead pay $1,900. That's more significant than a tax deduction, which is taken away from the income you report so that you're taxed on a smaller amount and can keep more of what you earn. If you get a $100 deduction and you're in the 15 percent tax bracket, for example, you'd pay $15 less in taxes.

Even more significant, though, is the fact that the tax credits would be refundable. A majority of tax credits are nonrefundable, in which case your benefit maxes out once your tax burden sinks to $0. Refundable credits, on the other hand, are provided in total; if you owe $2,000 and get a refundable $6,000 credit, you would be given an additional $4,000. That's some serious wealth redistribution right there.

It's redistribution on the scale of last year's GOP tax plan, you could argue, since the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy's (ITEP) analysis showed that the two plans cost about the same, according to The Atlantic. The main difference is that the GOP bill is currently shifting money into the hands of the upper class, while Harris says that her plan will shift money to the lower and middle classes...............



Michigan's OK of minimum wage hike, paid sick leave has a big catch

LANSING — At first glance, low wage workers might have started celebrating Wednesday after the Michigan Legislature approved hiking the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2022. That would be an enormous boost from the state’s $9.25 per hour minimum wage and well above the federal level of $7.25 per hour.

But any popping of champagne corks should be put on hold because the new wage, along with another law that would require employers to provide paid sick time to employees, will not go into effect until March 2019 and the laws are not expected to stand as passed by the Legislature.

That’s because the effort to pass the two  measures was more about keeping the issues off the Nov. 6 ballot and giving the Legislature the power to amend the two laws with a simple majority. If the proposals had gone to the ballot and were passed by voters, it would take a three-quarters majority to amend the laws.

Republicans in both the state Senate and House of Representatives were the driving force behind passing the two proposals that they didn’t like, but wanted to more easily change after the Nov. 6 election.
Many Democrats found themselves voting against proposals that they fundamentally supported, but disagreed with the prospect of changes that will inevitably come after the elections.

There is little that Democrats can do to stop amendments that will likely come to the two laws in the lame duck session that is scheduled for four weeks in November and December. That's because Republicans hold a 27-10 majority in the Senate and a 63-46 advantage in the House of Representatives.

So how might the Legislature change the measures?

Remove tipped employees from the minimum wage increase, which under the ballot proposal would be phased in through 2024. Tipped employees, like wait staff and bartenders, are paid $3.52 per hour and if their tips don’t get them at or beyond the current minimum wage of $9.25, the employers are supposed to make up the difference. Some restaurant workers urged the Legislature to pass the proposal so they could be removed from the increase in order to preserve their tips, which often put them above $12 per hour.

Change the minimum wage increase to somewhere above $9.25, but below $12 per hour.

Lengthen the phase-in time for the wage hikes. As proposed, the minimum wage would go from $9.25 to $10 on Jan. 1, 2019, $10.65 on Jan. 1, 2020, $11.35 on Jan. 1, 2021 and $12 on Jan. 1, 2022.

The paid sick time proposal requires employers to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours an employee works. But that provision could be modified or eliminated altogether.

Republican lawmakers weren’t willing to get into specifics on how they might change the proposal after approving the measures on Wednesday. But it was clear they intend to amend the laws.

Can we please get rid of Schumer now? He's even more inept than Pelosi. If it were the other way around, McConnell and the GOP would be plastered all over the news moaning about how unamerican and lib-rul every single Dem judge is.


Senate Democrats just gave a huge gift to President Donald Trump: They agreed to expedite votes on 15 of his nominees to lifetime federal court seats because they wanted to go home.

Why? So Democrats could get back to campaigning and focusing on winning re-election in November. The Senate is now out of session until next Tuesday.

It’s a major win for Trump and McConnell, whose No. 1 priority is filling up federal courts with conservative judges ― many of whom are incredibly anti-abortion, anti–LGBTQ rights and anti–voting rights. Trump has gotten 26 circuit court judges confirmed, more than any other president at this point in his term. Another way of putting it: 1 in 7 U.S. circuit court seats is now filled by a judge nominated by Trump.

An entire branch of government is being lost for generations, and Senate Democrats are willfully blind to it,” Fallon said. “In the coming months and years, these same Democrats will issue outraged statements about the rulings issued by the very judges that they could not be bothered to try to slow down. It is pathetic."

But delaying action on Trump’s judges is one of the few ways Democrats can do something to push back on his agenda. They could have caused more trouble for McConnell by requiring recorded votes, too, since it takes at least 51 votes to advance any judicial nominee. Given that the partisan breakdown in the Senate is 50-49 and that McConnell has had attendance issues with his members, it’s easy to see some of these judicial nominees not getting through or at least being beset by delays.

McConnell was a master of delaying action on judicial nominees under President Barack Obama. McConnell leaned on every procedural tool in the book to delay or deny votes to Obama’s court picks ― including, of course, denying a confirmation hearing for his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Progressive groups desperately want Democrats to play a similar game of hardball, but it hasn’t happened.

Adam Jentleson, a top aide to former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who preceded Schumer as minority leader before retiring in 2017, said the problem “comes down to leadership.”

( article edited for space )

Debate / Don't "Monkey It Up" says Trumpanzee candidate in Florida
« on: August 29, 2018, 07:39:56 PM »
This is the same guy who had that creepy Trump follower commercial featuring his newborn.
It should, but won't, be a slam dunk for Gillum in a state that has been abused for eight years by Governor lizard-man Scott. And is suffering from mass pollution while Scott cut hundreds of millions in environmental care from the state budget over his tenure. But at least the state mandated "In God We Trust" be displayed at every public school.


GOP candidate for Fla. governor says voters will ‘monkey this up’ if they elect his black rival

WASHINGTON —Representative Ron DeSantis, the newly christened Republican gubernatorial candidate in Florida, said Wednesday that voters would ‘‘monkey this up’’ if they elect his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, who would be the state’s first African-American governor.

During an interview on Fox News, DeSantis praised Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, as ‘‘an articulate spokesman’’ for those holding ‘‘far-left views,’’ but warned he would be damaging to the state.

‘‘The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state,’’ DeSantis said. ‘‘That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.’’

A Fox News Channel host later said the network did not condone DeSantis’ language.

Debate / DNC Will Take Fossil Fuel Money After All
« on: August 13, 2018, 10:06:02 PM »

That was fast. Just two months after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) unanimously prohibited donations from fossil fuel companies, the DNC voted 30-2 on Friday on a resolution that critics say effectively reverses the ban, The Huffington Post reported.

The resolution, introduced by DNC Chair Tom Perez, allows the committee to accept donations from "workers, including those in energy and related industries, who organize and donate to Democratic candidates individually or through their unions' or employers' political action committees" or PACs.

It conflicts with the original resolution that called on the committee to "reject corporate PAC contributions from the fossil fuel industry that conflict with our DNC Platform."

In a conference call after the vote, Perez said that members of the labor community considered the original resolution passed in June "an attack on the working people in these industries," per The Hill.

He insisted that the DNC is still committed to the Democratic Party platform, "which states unequivocally our support for combating climate change."

DNC executive committee member Christine Pelosi, co-author of the original resolution and the daughter of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, tweeted Friday that the committee "NEVER consulted me on language to reverse my resolution banning corporate fossil fuel PAC money."

Pelosi proposed an amendment Friday that would remove the words "employers' political action committees" but the motion failed 4-28.

A DNC spokeswoman disputed accusations that the committee is backtracking on its earlier resolution, telling HuffPo it's "not a reversal" and that "any review of our current donations reflects" the Democrats' "commitment" to no longer take money from the fossil fuel industry. The spokeswoman offered no further comment.

Jerald Lentini, deputy director of the Democratic fundraising group It Starts Today, explained to HuffPo that the new proposal may only apply to Democratic campaigns, meaning it does not fully annul the first resolution. However, as Lentini noted, it would still "repudiate the spirit" of it.

Environmentalists and progressive Democrats decried the DNC's move.

"Why in the age of Trump, wildfires, and eminent domain for private gain are we using land gauge and stances of the GOP? Many of us will fight this at DNC meeting in August," Bold Nebraska founder and Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Fleming Kleeb tweeted.

New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who has sworn off any corporate donations and has joined hundreds of politicians that have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, had a similar sentiment: "You can't do right when you're getting donations from companies that do wrong."

"Honestly, these people are bound and determined to deflate and demobilize their base," tweeted author and activist Naomi Klein.

What's more, the text of the new resolution embraces an "all-of-the-above energy economy" that includes clean and low-emissions energy technology, "from renewables to carbon capture and storage to advanced nuclear technology."

350.org co-founder Bill McKibben criticized the measure and noted that the "new DNC proposal would support an 'all of the above' energy policy which the last party platform explicitly rejects. This is a bad idea, on both scientific and political grounds."

In 2016, the Democratic National Committee axed its support for an "all-of-the-above" energy policy and calls for having the nation run "entirely on clean energy by midcentury."


California Assembly member Miguel Santiago [D-83/@SantiagoAD53] is the chairman of the Communications and Conveyance Committee, where he is single-handedly sabotaging the state's outstanding proposed Net Neutrality bill.

The lawmaker, who received $60K in telcoms money in the last election and who counts AT&T as his fifth-largest campaign contributor, has introduced amendments that gut the the bill, allowing ISPs to charge "access fees" to websites so that the ISP's subscribers can visit the site; allowing ISPs to throttle websites who don't pay for premium access; and allowing websites to create data-caps that their own services are exempted from, leveraging their networks to choke out all competition.

Specifically Assemblyman Santiago wants to amend SB 822 to allow:

1. ISPs to be able to charge any website, any amount of money simply so that website can be used by that ISP’s subscriber. These are called “access fees” and the U.S. internet has never had them. They were explicitly banned by the FCC in 2010 and 205

2. Allow ISPs to throttle online services and websites at the point where data enters their networks. ISPS did this in 2013–2015, slowing down business services, online games and video for tens of millions of Americans until the FCC order in 2015 put a stop to it.

3. Allow AT&T/TimeWarner and Comcast/NBCUniversal to use their pipes to make their content win by making all other online content count against your data caps, but not their own. That kind of zero-rating scheme hurts everyone and gives them even more incentive to keep your data caps artificially low

This California Democrat is single-handedly ruining our best chance to save net neutrality


If Santiago doesn't remove his amendments, he would be the first California Democrat to side with the Trump administration to actively destroy net neutrality, according to Fight for the Future (an internet freedoms advocacy organization).

Specifically, the amendments undermine net neutrality in a few ways. First, they would allow ISPs to charge any website a fee for people to be able to access it.

Next, they would give some content (such as content owned by the provider) preferential treatment on cellular data. That means that some content would eat up cellular data, while others would be free or less impactful to access. There's a high likelihood that privileged content would be created by the network's parent company, since so many telecoms companies like Comcast and, recently, AT&T, now both own the actual content, and the way it's distributed. This loophole makes it likely that people wary about using up the data that they pay for would opt for the content privileged by their telecoms provider, which undermines consumer choice.

And finally, Santiago's edits allow for throttling, which means intentionally slowing down content, but with a twist: Instead of slowing down the connection to consumer devices, the data is slowed at the website or service side, affecting everyone trying to access it.



Many were hoping that once Barack Obama was out of office we would see less of this Big Brother surveillance nonsense, but instead it seems to be getting even worse.

In fact, the Department of Homeland Security has just announced that it intends to compile a comprehensive list of hundreds of thousands of “journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.”, and collect any “information that could be relevant” about them.

So if you have a website, an important blog or you are just very active on social media, the Department of Homeland Security is going to put you on a list and will start collecting information about you.................

Debate / Joy Reid : Hypocritical Homophobic Hack?
« on: May 16, 2018, 10:38:43 PM »
With a nod to the other "hacking" (term used vvvvvvvvvveeeeeerrrryyyyy loosely) story just posted.


The Evidence Is Not With Joy Reid

A strange story about MSNBC host Joy Reid has been unfolding for a week. It began when a Twitter user with about 1,000 followers, @Jamie_Maz, dug up what appeared to be homophobic posts on Reid’s defunct blog, the Reid Report. They were similar in nature to posts that Reid apologized for as “insensitive” back in December, after @Jamie_Maz brought those to light.

 Reid released a statement to Mediaite saying that she’d been hacked and was not responsible for the posts. “In December I learned that an unknown, external party accessed and manipulated material from my now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, to include offensive and hateful references that are fabricated and run counter to my personal beliefs and ideology,” Reid said.

The posts had been dug up on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which maintains copies of many pages on the web. When Reid said she’d been hacked, many jumped to the conclusion that it was the Wayback Machine that had been hacked. On its blog, the Internet Archive said that Reid’s lawyers had contacted them about a possible hack, but that they had no indication that one had occurred.

“This past December, Reid’s lawyers contacted us, asking to have archives of the blog (blog.reidreport.com) taken down, stating that ‘fraudulent’ posts were ‘inserted into legitimate content’ in our archives of the blog,” they wrote. “Her attorneys stated that they didn’t know if the alleged insertion happened on the original site or with our archives (the point at which the manipulation is to have occurred, according to Reid, is still unclear to us).”

On review, the Internet Archive “found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions.”

As he notes, it is possible that someone did this, but “extraordinarily unlikely.”

Among the implausible factors is that for Reid’s story to be correct, someone would have had to hack her blog back in the ’00s, but no one, including Reid herself, noticed the invalid posts.

Of course, the same hacker that got to Joy Reid also must have been busy hacking this slob's accounts.


A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Oklahoma allegedly argued this week that those unable to support themselves whether they’re disabled, children or otherwise – should view euthanasia as an option rather than burden taxpayers through use of SNAP food assistance. Christopher Barnett – registered to run in this year’s Oklahoma gubernatorial election – told a commenter to his campaign’s Facebook page that “…why are we required to keep them up? Sorry but euthanasia is cheaper and doesn’t make everyone a slave to the Government.”


Analyst report notes that Gilead’s hep C cure will make less than $4 billion this year.

One-shot cures for diseases are not great for business—more specifically, they’re bad for longterm profits—Goldman Sachs analysts noted in an April 10 report for biotech clients, first reported by CNBC.

The investment banks’ report, titled “The Genome Revolution,” asks clients the touchy question: “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?” The answer may be “no,” according to follow-up information provided.

Analyst Salveen Richter and colleagues laid it out:

Quote from: Goldman Sachs
The potential to deliver “one shot cures” is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically engineered cell therapy, and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies... While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow.

For a real-world example, they pointed to Gilead Sciences, which markets treatments for hepatitis C that have cure rates exceeding 90 percent. In 2015, the company’s hepatitis C treatment sales peaked at $12.5 billion. But as more people were cured and there were fewer infected individuals to spread the disease, sales began to languish. Goldman Sachs analysts estimate that the treatments will bring in less than $4 billion this year.

Quote from: Goldman Sachs
“[Gilead]’s rapid rise and fall of its hepatitis C franchise highlights one of the dynamics of an effective drug that permanently cures a disease, resulting in a gradual exhaustion of the prevalent pool of patients,” the analysts wrote. The report noted that diseases such as common cancers—where the “incident pool remains stable”—are less risky for business.


They are chipping away little by little at pretty much all the protections that seperate consumers from corporate sharks. Expect another bill that raises the exemption level in the relatively near future.


Today, the House voted to approve the Volcker Rule Regulation Harmonization Act, an innocuous name for a not-so-innocuous bill. The bill would weaken the Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from making speculative investments with regular people’s money (with exceptions), by exempting banks with less than $10 billion in assets. And, for reasons beyond imagination, 78 Democrats voted for it.

In January, 11 Senate Democrats joined Republicans to cosponsor a bill to raise the threshold for extra regulatory scrutiny for banks from $50 billion to $250 billion, which would have left fewer than 10 banks in the US subject to such scrutiny. That bill included provisions similar to today’s bill, exempting banks with under $10 billion in assets from the Volcker Rule. ............

Debate / Record 21 States See Decline in Well-Being in 2017
« on: April 14, 2018, 10:16:44 PM »
Making America Great Again!!!!!!!!


- For the first time, zero states saw statistically significant improvement from prior year
- South Dakota and Vermont top nation for the first time, followed by Hawaii
- West Virginia has lowest well-being, followed by Louisiana

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly half of U.S. states saw their well-being scores decline by a statistically significant margin in 2017, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. And, for the first time in nine years of tracking changes in state well-being, no state saw statistically significant improvement from the year before.


Nestle pays only $200 a year.

10 APR 2018

Last week, the state of Michigan approved a permit that would allow Nestle to significantly increase the volume of fresh water it currently pumps with no extra cost.

Four days later and 100 miles away, residents of Flint, Michigan were told they would no longer be receiving free bottled water from the government.

Naturally, many Flint residents were left wondering: why does a food and beverage giant get to bottle water for next to nothing, while residents are forced to pay for their right to lead-free water?

"We the citizens of Flint are unable to get water, but you can give Nestle water for free and force us to buy that back at a premium," said Flint resident, Anthony Paciorek.

"That ain't right."

While state officials have declared Flint tap water safe to drink, there are still thousands of lead pipes that remain in the city.

In fact, according to The Washington Post, more than 12,000 homes in Flint still have lead pipes that need replacing.

As a result, many residents remain worried by the quality of water in their homes, and they continue to rely on bottled water for their everyday needs.

Nevertheless, the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, announced on Friday that city residents would no longer receive free bottled water from the state.

Instead, residents will have to pay some of the steepest tap water prices in the country: around $200 per month for water they aren't even sure is safe to drink.

To put all of this into perspective, Nestle pays around $200 per year to pump almost 100,000 times the amount of water that the average Michigan resident uses.

And now, the company has been given the go ahead to pump nearly double that amount – with no additional cost, of course.

Even though over 80,000 people – including 9 Tribal Governments - have publicly protested Nestle's permit request, Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) said it could not base its decision on public opinion.

But that didn't stop residents and politicans from trying.

"... there needs to be a balance between the economic benefit of Nestlé and the responsibility of the MDEQ to protect Michigan's environment and natural resources," said Michigan state representative, Tim Sneller, in a recent opinion article.

"What's more, Nestle Waters' request comes at a time when Flint residents are being told their pipes will not be replaced entirely until 2020," he added.

"This means they will have to continue relying on bottled water for the next three years and likely even longer."

In light of the permit approval, residents of Flint have announced plans to boycott Nestle's products.

A loon in Idaho government apparently doesn't think it is a terrible idea


Idaho GOP candidate supports death penalty to stop abortions

Boise, Idaho • A Republican lieutenant governor candidate on Tuesday softened his stance that women who get an abortion should be punished if it is ever criminalized in Idaho, a day after saying the punishment should include the death penalty.

“Prosecutions have always been focused on the abortionist,” said Bob Nonini in a statement. “There is no way a woman would go to jail let alone face the death penalty. The statute alone, the threat of prosecution, would dramatically reduce abortion. That is my goal.”

Nonini first raised eyebrows on the divisive social issue during a Monday candidate forum in Moscow hosted by the conservative Christian podcast CrossPolitic.

“There should be no abortion and anyone who has an abortion should pay,” Nonini said.

Pressed by moderators on the nature of the punishment, Nonini nodded in agreement when asked if he supported the death penalty as a possible outcome for abortion.

Nonini, a three term state senator from Coeur d’Alene, confirmed that position in a phone interview with The Associated Press. ...........................


JACKSON — In the lead-up to this year's legislative session in Mississippi, supporters of a tougher gang law in the state talked a lot about the need to arrest white people. But in an ironic twist, the Jackson Free Press has learned that everyone arrested under the existing gang law from 2010 through 2017 were African American.

#Over the last year, members of the Mississippi Association of Gang Investigators worked to spread the message that not all gang members in Mississippi are African American, Hispanic or another ethnicity. In fact, they warned, many of the state's toughest gang members are now white, between the growing Simon City Royals, white supremacist groups like the Aryan Brotherhood, and biker "clubs" such as the violent Bandidos, started by a white Marine in Texas in 1966 who would later be convicted of murder.

#In August 2017, MAGI told The Clarion-Ledger that 53 percent of verified gang members, a number presumably pulled from the dozens of identified criminal groups in the state, are white. It is a potentially surprising statistic in the state with the highest proportion of African Americans in the nation and that experiences a large amount of media coverage of its black and Hispanic gangs.

#The Mississippi State Gang Assessment, published in December 2017, listed the white Simon City Royals as the third largest criminal street gang in the state behind the Black Gangster Disciples and the Vice Lords, both black gangs. In addition, MAGI members regularly provide examples of heinous crimes by white gang members, such as the murder and dismemberment of a Royals snitch on the Coast in 2016. Welford Lee McCarty is now serving a life sentence for murder charges.

#MAGI's recent message was clear: The state's gang investigators are not fixated on black gangs and do not want the expanded gang law in order to profile young people of color. When asked to comment on the 53-percent-white report, Pascagoula District Attorney Tony Lawrence told the Jackson Free Press via email: "I have not seen that statistic and cannot comment on it, but I can say, in remembering gang cases in my office, I have prosecuted more white gang members for crimes than of any other race."

#Prosecuting someone for a specific crime who happens to be a gang member and prosecuting someone, or adding on additional sentences, for being a member of a gang are two completely different things, however.

#It is not talked about a lot in the push for an expanded gang law, but Mississippi already has a gang law on the books. The Mississippi Streetgang Act, passed in 2001, targets "three (3) or more persons with an established hierarchy that, through its membership or through the agency of any member, engages in felonious criminal activity." That is, much like the FBI does with the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, called RICO, the State can go after a group that conspires together to commit a criminal act. That is different from making it illegal to be part of a gang and thus being held responsible for crimes other members might commit separately, as the failed gang law this session could have done.

#But despite MAGI frequently warning that white gang members pose a strong threat in today's Mississippi, the arrests and prosecutions under the existing street-gang law have only targeted African Americans, State Public Defender Andre de Gruy pointed out to the Jackson Free Press after the expanded gang law failed this session.

The Administrative Office of the Courts confirmed that from fiscal-year 2010 through 2017, court disposition data show that 97 people were processed under current gang law. All of them were black.

Another example of the good 'ole boys network being alive and well in Mississippi/the deep south? Not that such would be surprising.

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