Archive for National

Warren (2)Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren brushed off liberal efforts last year to get her to run for president in 2016. It is not hard to guess why. For one, she is smart enough to know that at this point she lacks the depth — especially in foreign policy — to do the job well. (After a quarter century in Congress, Bernie Sanders struggled with foreign policy in the Democratic debate last night.) Second, if she stays in the Senate, Warren can be a thorn in the side of all the right people as an advocate for working Americans for a couple of decades. It’s what she does. She’s very good at it. And it’s fun watching Elizabeth Warren do what she is so good at.

In an interview with The Nation, Warren spoke again about the “rigged game” in Washington. In particular, the bipartisan effort to reform sentencing laws that some Republicans are using the bill as a means of protecting corporate criminals from even the nearly nonexistent prosecutions to which they are now exposed. On the floor of the Senate, Warren said,

[F]or these Republicans, the price of helping out people unjustly locked up in jail for years will be to make it even harder to lock up a white-collar criminal for even a single day. That is shameful, shameful. It’s shameful because we’re already way too easy on corporate lawbreakers.

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Categories : Corruption, Justice, National
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Feb
04

Flint goes to Washington

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Photo ACLU Michigan

Photo ACLU Michigan

As some day it may happen that a scapegoat must be found, they’ve got a little list. The investigations into the poisoning of Flint, Michigan are only just beginning. The FBI is now involved:

WASHINGTON — Government officials tangled on Wednesday over who was to blame for the crisis in Flint, Michigan, that allowed lead-contaminated water to flow to thousands of residents at a combative congressional hearing that devolved into a partisan fight over witnesses and no-shows.

“A failure of epic proportions,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at the first Capitol Hill hearing since the crisis in Flint emerged last year.

Flint’s former state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Earley, was a no show. He refused a federal subpoena claiming there was too short a notice for him to appear in Washington. The Detroit Free Press reports:

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Thank you. Thank you.

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Photo by Molly Theobald for the aflcio2008 (PA: Working America Voter ID and Persuasion)
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

People began asking early in 2015 if the local Democratic party was working on 2016. I told them we started working on 2016 the day after the election in 2014.

Each week I pick up messages at our local Democratic headquarters. For months, people have called to ask how they can get in touch with the Bernie Sanders campaign. (Even a disenchanted Republican now and then.) For months, I’ve directed them to the grassroots group organizing for Sanders here. Several hundred volunteers. On the ground it looks like 2008 all over again. They are phone banking out of our offices twice a week. Bernie Sanders is not a registered Democrat, but the memo from DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says he’s running on our ticket.

I also get (fewer) calls from people asking how they can get in touch with the local Hillary Clinton campaign. I tell them I wish I knew. They are nowhere to be seen. Unless you’ve got the money to attend a high-dollar fundraiser downstate. Clinton volunteers could use our space too. But so far there aren’t any.

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The Iowa caucuses are over. The pollsters are licking their wounds. Donald Trump met his Waterloo, writes Joan Walsh, bested by Ted Cruz. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are in a tie so close that several precincts resorted to a coin toss, “one of many oddities of the Iowa caucuses.”

What that means is upcoming primaries and the even general election could feel the impact of new voter ID laws in place for their first presidential election. A recent study begins to support that despite assurances to the contrary that they do indeed have a discriminatory effect. More on that in a minute.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio thinks voter purges, long lines at the polls, and voter ID laws are no big deal. Ari Berman writes that the GOP is now the party of Ted Cruz, who championed Texas’ strict voter ID law and, as Texas’ solicitor general, filed a brief in support of Indiana’s ID law that argued “there is no right to be free from any inconvenience or burden in voting.” The GOP has erected hurdles to voting in state after state as though democracy is a track and field event.

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Feb
01

Iowa caucus explainer

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Muscatine in 1865, by Barber and Howe (The Loyal West in the Times of the Rebellion)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, I don’t know from Iowa. Although, in college I had a housemate from Muscatine. At least, that’s what she said. And once, back when the speed limit was 55 mph, I drove across Iowa. Alone. At night. The road signs said Iowa. But it was dark. I sort of had to take Iowa on faith.

Kind of like understanding how tonight’s Iowa caucuses work. NPR has an explainer for how this all works:

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Categories : Presidential Race
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Jan
31

Trump v. Trump

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Like Jerry Springer without the hair pulling.

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Border crossing between Russia and Norway near Kirkenes
By Elmar78 (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bernie Sanders is fond of citing examples from Europe of the benefits of democratic socialism. Denmark and Sweden, for example. Yet Sanders’ conservative critics sneer at America taking policy cues from Europe. Except when they do. Like now.

Denmark approved a controversial plan to pay for the upkeep of asylum seekers by confiscating valuables in excess of about $1,500:

The bill has been widely criticised by human rights groups.

The prospect of refugees having possessions seized has drawn comparisons to the confiscation of valuables from Jews during World War Two.

The government has said that items of sentimental value, such as wedding rings, will be exempt. It also raised the amount refugees will be allowed to keep from 3,000 kroner to 10,000 following objections.

Sweden and Finland announced plans last week to join Norway in deporting tens of thousands of people seeking asylum from war in the Middle East. They are poised to begin the kind of wholesale deportation of immigrants that Donald Trump has proposed for the United States.

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President Barack Obama signs into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the East Room
of the White House. January 29, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Joyce Boghosian)

President Obama yesterday proposed a new rule for employers to make it easier to identify discriminatory pay practices in the workplace:

Women workers in the United States earn 79 cents for every dollar men do. And President Barack Obama doesn’t want you to forget it.

Speaking Friday at a White House event celebrating the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Obama proposed collecting pay data from companies with 100 or more people — and breaking down the numbers by gender, race and ethnicity. About 63 million workers would be covered, according to a news release accompanying his announcement, which aims to “focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations.”

The White House also called again for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, calling it “commonsense legislation that would give women additional tools to fight pay discrimination.”

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Photo by Tim Pierce (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],via Wikimedia Commons.


If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie. – from Rigged Justice

In the first of what she promises will be annual reports on enforcement, Sen. Elizabeth Warren this morning released Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy. Calling the Obama administration’s enforcement against corporate criminals “feeble,” Warren’s report cites 20 criminal and civil cases from 2015 in which authorities punished corporate crimes – where they were enforced at all – with a slap on the wrist. Prosecutors took only one of these cases to trial. She follows up with an op-ed in the New York Times, writing, “These enforcement failures demean our principles.” The report begins:

Much of the public and media attention on Washington focuses on enacting laws. And strong laws are important – prosecutors must have the statutory tools they need to hold corporate criminals accountable.  But putting a law on the books is only the first step.  The second, and equally important, step is enforcing that law.  A law that is not enforced – or weakly enforced – may as well not even be a law at all.

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