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AZProgressive's Journal
AZProgressive's Journal
October 29, 2021

The Poisonous 'Citizens United' Decision Gave Corporations the Power to Slash and Burn (BBB)

If President Biden's Build Back Better plan goes down in flames, you can blame the US Supreme Court. Their Citizens United decision, in fact, is destroying both American politics and the planet.

Case in point: Oil industry executives testified before Congress this week, suffering a barrage of questions, including particularly intense ones from Reps. Ro Khanna, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Katie Porter.

The CEOs exhibited the same sort of arrogant insolence Mark Zuckerberg displayed in July of last year when he was hauled before the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. It was, basically, a smug, "Screw you, Congressperson."

We have to get money out of politics and the only way to do that is to get more people in office who are not addicted to or corrupted by money.

October 28, 2021

Exxon CEO says he had calls with lawmakers on reconciliation bill

ExxonMobil’s CEO said he personally participated in calls with lawmakers on the Democrats’ spending plan in response to questioning from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The New York Democrat asked CEO Darren Woods whether he had participated in calls with members in the reconciliation and infrastructure negotiation process.

“I have,” Woods replied. But he said political donations were not discussed during his calls.

In response to her questioning, Woods also said that his compensation is tied to Exxon’s stock price, but added that it’s based on a number of metrics.


October 22, 2021

Schumer endorses Walton for Buffalo mayor

WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Thursday announced that he is endorsing India Walton to be mayor of Buffalo, giving the winner of the Democratic primary a crucial boost only days before early voting begins in her race against Mayor Byron Brown.

"As Buffalo voters start to head to the polls this weekend, I urge them to cast their ballot for India Walton as the next mayor of Buffalo," Schumer said in a statement sent to The Buffalo News. "India is an inspiring community leader, mother, nurse and a lifelong Buffalonian with a clear progressive vision for her hometown."

Schumer's decision gives Walton backing from a centrist Democrat at a time when other such figures, such as Gov. Kathy Hochul and Rep. Brian Higgins of Buffalo, have refused to take sides in the battle between an upstart primary winner and a four-term incumbent who's waging a write-in campaign.

"India Walton won the Democratic primary fair and square and is the nominee, and I have always believed that the Democratic Party is a big tent and is strongest and most able to build national majorities and bring meaningful change when it is inclusive – that is exactly how the Senate Democratic caucus is structured," Schumer said.


October 21, 2021

Joe Manchin's child tax credit changes could prevent more than 37 million children from getting aid

More than 37 million children could lose the enhanced monthly child tax credit (CTC) if Democrats adopt Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V.,'s reported desire to include an income cap of $60,000 per year, a new analysis finds.

The estimation, from the Niskanen Center's Robert Orr and Samuel Hammond, finds 37.4 million children could lose out on the federal aid. That would mean a cut in benefits for 60% of the kids who are currently receiving the monthly payments, worth up to $300 per child.

Manchin's home state of West Virginia would see a 58% cut in recipients with the income cap, with almost 190,000 fewer children qualifying, the analysis finds.

President Joe Biden has made the enhanced CTC a cornerstone of his fight against childhood poverty. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, which became law earlier this year, the CTC was increased from $2,000 per child to $3,000 or $3,600, depending on the age of the child, for many families. Half of it was made advanceable, and more families than ever qualify as it was extended it to families earning little to no income for the first time.


October 21, 2021

Bannon Wants to Destroy Our Democracy. He Must Be Prosecuted

For those who study authoritarianism, Steve Bannon's refusal to respond to the subpoena issued by the Congressional committee tasked with investigating Jan. 6 is hardly a surprise. Bannon's aim is to destroy our democracy, and responding to a subpoena issued by a democratic judiciary would affirm the legitimacy of a system he seeks to overthrow.

Bannon had big dreams to become a little Duce in Italy, training Europe's next right-wing "gladiators" in an Italian monastery, but that project failed. Now he's back in America, which in his mind is the new frontier of autocracy. He already feels empowered to discard the rule of law and respect for judicial process. "We control the country. We've got to start acting like it," he said recently on his War Room podcast about his plan to prepare tens of thousands of "shock troops" for an anti-democratic takeover of government once the Republicans return to the White House by legal or other means.

Of course, had Jan. 6 gone Bannon's way, the Biden administration would have been killed "in its crib," or rather, never been born at all. His overheated rhetoric reflects his frustration. Bannon likely thrived in the feverish conspiratorial atmosphere of November 2020-January 2021, when defeated President Donald Trump tried everything to remain in office, settling finally on a violent assault on the Capitol meant to interrupt certification of Biden's victory. "All hell will break loose tomorrow. It will be quite extraordinarily different," Bannon told his podcast audience on Jan. 5. "All I can say is strap in."

All hell did break loose, but Biden was inaugurated anyway. So Bannon and his cronies have a new plan, which draws on old right-wing knowledge of how to destabilize a sitting democratic government. It goes like this: You create a sense of crisis and impending Socialist tyranny so that the climactic authoritarian action, whatever it looks like, is accepted as restoring "order," and "freedom." That's likely what Bannon means when he claims that the Biden administration's own "incompetence and illegitimacy" will bring about its demise.


October 20, 2021

Europe is giving its top human rights prize to Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic

BRUSSELS — Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was awarded the European Union's top human rights prize Wednesday in a clear slap at President Vladimir Putin.

In awarding the Sakharov Prize to Navalny, the European Parliament praised his "immense personal bravery." The 45-year-old activist was poisoned with a nerve agent last year and promptly arrested upon his return to Moscow from treatment in Germany and later imprisoned.

"He has campaigned consistently against the corruption of Vladimir Putin's regime, and through his social media accounts and political campaigns, Navalny has helped expose abuses and mobilize the support of millions of people across Russia. For this, he was poisoned and thrown in jail," parliament President David Sassoli in a statement.

Sassoli called for Navalny's immediate release.


October 20, 2021

Schiff 'vehemently' disagrees with Attorney General Garland's reluctance to pursue Trump

In unusually pointed comments about a member of President Biden’s Cabinet, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says he “vehemently” disagrees with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s failure so far to aggressively investigate former President Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and other matters.

Appearing Tuesday on the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast, the California Democrat was asked about the Garland Justice Department’s reluctance to launch investigations of the former president based on the 2018 report by former special counsel Robert Mueller that spelled out Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In a new book, “Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could,” Schiff writes that he viewed Mueller’s report as providing “a factual basis to charge the president with multiple crimes of obstruction.”

“I think there's a real desire on the part of the attorney general, for the most part, not to look backward,” Schiff said in response. “Do I disagree with that? I do disagree with that, and I disagree with it most vehemently when it comes to what I consider even more serious offenses. For example, a taped conversation of Donald J. Trump on the phone with Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state from Georgia, trying to coerce him into fraudulently finding 11,780 votes.

“Because I think if you or I did that, we'd be under indictment by now,” Schiff added. “In my view, you don't ignore the crimes that have been committed by a president of the United States. They need to be investigated. You may reach the judgment once you've investigated something that the public interest in not prosecuting a former president outweighs the interests of justice. But I don't think you could ignore the crimes.”


October 19, 2021

With public defenders as judges, Biden quietly makes history on the courts

WASHINGTON — While President Joe Biden's economic agenda is mired in Democratic infighting, the Senate is quietly making history with his judicial nominees.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 52-41 Monday to confirm Gustavo Gelpi to be a judge on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Boston, making him the fifth new circuit judge with a background as a public defender on Biden's watch.

Set against recent history, that is a remarkable statistic. President Barack Obama confirmed five former public defenders to the appeals courts over his entire eight years, according to the progressive judicial group Demand Justice. Biden has matched that in his first nine months.

Overall, Gelpi is Biden's eighth new judge with experience as a public defender. That is as many as presidents Donald Trump, Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton landed in their first years combined, said Chris Kang, the chief counsel of Demand Justice.


October 19, 2021

Oklahoma's anti-critical race theory law violates free speech rights, ACLU suit says

OKLAHOMA CITY — A coalition of civil rights groups sued the state of Oklahoma on Tuesday over a law limiting instruction about race and gender in public schools. It is the first federal lawsuit to challenge a state statute implemented to prevent the teaching of critical race theory.

The suit, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, argues that HB 1775, which took effect in May, violates students’ and teachers’ free speech rights and denies people of color, LGBTQ students and girls the chance to learn their history.

The Oklahoma law bans teaching that anyone is “inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” or that they should feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress” because of their race or sex. Under rules imposed by the state, teachers or administrators found in violation of the law can lose their licenses, and schools can lose accreditation.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to immediately halt enforcement of the law and declare it unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth amendments.


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