Welcome to a Friday night edition of Progressives Everywhere!
Baseball is officially back — the Mets won 1-0 tonight on a mammoth home run by Yoenis Cespedes in his first game in over two years. While I still don’t think playing is a good idea, I definitely had fun watching this afternoon. I just hope everyone stays safe.
OK, let’s get to it!
Elections (and Future Elections) and Voting Rights
All the work we’ve been doing here in New York to get progressives elected has resulted in a legislature that after this November may be the most progressive in the country. I’m curious to see how Gov. Cuomo will respond to the challenge — is he eyeing a future presidential run and eager to burnish his progressive credentials? Or will he just fight with them like always?
If you’re planning via absentee ballot in the general election — or would like to vote via absentee ballot but don’t know if you’ll be permitted to do so in your state — Vote.org has a really helpful guide to all the laws, latest policies, and requirements you’ll need.
For all the praise that the Supreme Court received this summer for its decision to codify workplace protections for LGBTQ+ Americans and not gut Roe V Wade, the conservative majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, continued its assault on voting rights this term. They made four distinct decisions — or refused to hear four cases — that green-lit voter suppression. We’ve followed all of them closely, especially the battle over no-excuse absentee balloting in Texas and the Jim Crow poll tax in Florida.
The Supreme Court technically sent the Jim Crow law back to the 11th Circuit Court, which will hear the case on August 18th. Instead of waiting to hear whether the court decides to allow ex-felons to vote, Lakers star LeBron James is proactively attacking the issue at hand, making a $100,000 donation to pay off the court fees keeping people disenfranchised. He’s making the donation through the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which I promoted last week — as far as I know, LeBron isn’t a Progressives Everywhere subscriber, but there are a lot of emails on this list, so who knows!
If you want to be like LBJ and donate to the paying off the onerous and unfair fees, you can CLICK HERE to do so.
I spend much of my time covering Democrats’ election lawsuits and Republicans’ voter suppression shenanigans, but there are also plenty of non-partisan election issues that are going to come into play this fall. Between COVID-19’s impact on poll workers, a new deluge of absentee ballots, underfunded local offices, a struggling mail system, and scheming foreign disinformation campaigns, this November has the potential to be a shitshow of unprecedented proportions.
If that doesn’t give you a panic attack just thinking about it, check out this long story at Politico that digs into some of the biggest challenges facing voters and election officials this fall. The scariest part of all is that Donald Trump is relying on election day catastrophes and, accordingly, is doing what he can to ensure irregularities and voter suppression schemes go undetected and/or unpunished.
Amid all of this, the nation’s typical watchdog for electoral dirty tricks is supposed to be the Federal Election Commission, which polices campaign finance violations. As of the start of this month, however, it currently lacks a quorum and is unable to function. The body has been understaffed and hobbled by vacancies during the Trump administration—it has been without a quorum for most of the past year, and only briefly regained one in May before another commissioner resigned.
Ethics groups have been already turning to the courts to ask them to enforce campaign finance rules in the absence of the official regulator. Even if the Senate moves expeditiously to confirm Trump’s latest nominee, don’t count on the FEC being an aggressive watchdog: Trump’s latest pick, Allen Dickerson, comes from a think tank called the Institute for Free Speech, which backed the Citizens United case.
Power, Corruption, and Lies
After sending in unarmed soldiers to invade Portland and beat and abduct innocent people and protestors off the street, the Justice Department announced that it is pressing charges against 18 people:
The charges, all of which involve alleged crimes that took place at a federal courthouse, include assaulting federal officers, trespassing on and damaging federal property and arson, Billy J. Williams, U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, said in a statement Friday.
Sure seems like these charges are a result of sending federal officers into the middle of protestors, baiting people into crimes or just making up charges altogether.
As I watched Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s powerful speech last night about that misogynist dunce Ted Yoho and the many other misogynist dunces that make up the vast majority of the Republican Party, all I could think about was what an indictment it is of our system that AOC is such a unique figure in the halls of Congress. Running for office is a prohibitively expensive endeavor, largely reserved for people with money or the tools of people with money, which is one of the reasons why it’s so dominated by such offensively mediocre white men.
Being a state or local official is not a lucrative job, especially not when you consider what the hourly wage works out to, so it’s generally only people who can afford to spend the time away from earning a living — or whose living is enhanced by being in office — that wind up running. Running for Congress usually requires some kind of prior life in public service and working for left-leaning grassroots non-profits or activist groups doesn’t bring home a ton of bacon, either.
I should say mediocre-at-best white men — our government is just loaded with morons like this.
One aspect of the school re-opening catastrophe that we often overlook is what happens to special needs students. In Georgia today, parents of special needs children rallied for in-person classes, not out of some far-right zealotry but in response to what they call terrible digital lessons that were foisted on them this spring.
I don’t know what the answer is here, since I’m still quite skeptical of any in-person education right now, but better lesson planning and a governor that actually tries to control the pandemic would be a good start.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf called again for an increase in the state’s minimum wage, which is at the national minimum of $7.25. As of Friday, the national wage hasn’t been changed in 11 years.
“While those hardworking people lag behind, 29 other states – including all of our neighbors – have raised the wage for their workers. It’s ridiculous that a Pennsylvanian earns less for the same job than someone in West Virginia, Ohio, or New York,” Wolf said.
Elon Musk made $2.2 billion this week but is against a second government stimulus plan with expanded unemployment benefits!