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Ro Khanna urges Democrats to strike COVID relief deal with White House: 'People are suffering'

October 13, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

Still alone among progressive members of Congress in publicly urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to run with the Trump White House’s $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief offer, Rep. Ro Khanna said Monday that Democratic lawmakers have a “moral obligation” to pursue a deal to provide additional aid to individuals and families facing a deadly pandemic, mass layoffs, a growing hunger crisis, and a looming wave of evictions.

While Khanna is thus far the only progressive member of Congress to speak out in support of accepting most of what’s in the $1.8 trillion White House proposal—which includes one-time stimulus payments that for many families would be bigger than the previous round, a $400-per-week federal boost in unemployment insurance, and $300 billion to state and local governments—the California Democrat told Roll Call Monday that a number of his fellow Democrats have expressed a similar position in private.

“Quite a few members feel this way,” Khanna said, telling Roll Call that at least 10 of his progressive colleagues share his position on the $1.8 trillion stimulus proposal, which the White House put forth on Friday in the latest bid to jumpstart negotiations that have been stalled for months and were briefly called off by President Donald Trump last week.

“Now I don’t know how many of them will be vocal, but members are hearing in their districts that people are suffering,” said Khanna, the first vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “We have a moral obligation to do something. We are the party that stands for the working poor.”

Acknowledging the important disagreements between the White House and Democratic leaders on key issues at hand in the relief negotiations—such as funding for coronavirus testing—Khanna said he believes they can be resolved. Democratic leaders have demanded $75 billion for coronavirus testing but, thus far, the White House has only been willing to offer around $45 billion in new funds.

“I think we can get the $30 billion and we should signal if the administration meets us at $75 billion… and they have a national testing plan, then we have a deal,” said Khanna.

The dire consequences of failing to pass additional aid …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Dozens of Amy Coney Barrett's Notre Dame colleagues ask her to stop her nomination

October 13, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

Amy Coney Barrett has failed to disclose an awful lot of documents to the Senate in her nomination to the Supreme Court. This is probably one of them: a letter from 88 of her Notre Dame colleagues, dated October 10, asking her to withdraw at least temporarily from consideration for the position.

They congratulate her on the nomination and pretty much inevitable confirmation. That part of it—the inevitability—is why they write this open letter. “That is why it is vital that you issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election.” Because “while we are not pundits, from what we read your confirmation is all but assured.” That’s a problem for several reasons, which they clearly delineate and which all come down to the fact that this seat is sullied by circumstance and will forever have an asterisk attached.

Number, one, people are voting right now. “The rushed nature of your nomination process, which you certainly recognize as an exercise in raw power politics, may effectively deprive the American people of a voice in selecting the next Supreme Court justice,” they write. Not that they’re holding her responsible for any of this, they say, even “the Republican hypocrisy of fast-tracking your nomination weeks before a presidential election when many of the same senators refused to grant Merrick Garland so much as a hearing a full year before the last election.” But, “you can refuse to be party to such maneuvers,” they suggested and then following the election, “your nomination would proceed, or not, in accordance with the wishes of the winning candidate.”

Next, they say, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was that her seat not be filled until after this election. They remind Barrett that she referred to RBG in her nominating ceremony and that she praised RBG as “a woman of enormous talent and consequence, whose life of public service serves as an example to us all.” So live up to that, they imply. “Your nomination just days after Ginsburg’s death was unseemly and a repudiation of her legacy. Given your admiration for Justice Ginsburg, we ask that you repair the injury to her memory by calling for a pause in the nomination until the next president is seated.”

Finally, they remind her that this is “a treacherous moment” for the country. “Our …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Amy Coney Barrett's position on Obamacare is quite literally unbelievable

October 13, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

Amy Coney Barrett might just be only person in public life on Oct. 13, 2020 who does not know how many people have been infected with the coronavirus in the U.S. (more than 7 million) or how many people have received health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (more than 20 million) and from Medicaid expansion from that law (around 15 million and growing, because of COVID-19 job loss). She would have the Senate—and the American people—believe that she has been so much locked in her ivory tower where she can’t possibly have prejudged any issue that might come before her that she has no clue what’s happening in the biggest crisis facing the nation since WWII.

She sat there, with her blank notepad, demonstrating that she had absolutely no reason to even bother to prepare for these hearings because she knew no matter what, Sen. Mitch McConnell had the votes to put her on the highest court of the land. So she could come before these senators and play dumb on the health care of every person in this country in the middle of a pandemic. Which the Supreme Court will hear exactly one week after the election.

She continued to play dumb, telling Sen. Dianne Feinstein that the ACA challenge pending before “the court doesn’t present that issue” of preexisting conditions. “It’s not a challenge to pre-existing conditions coverage or to the lifetime maximum relief to a cap.” That is absolutely not true. The Trump administration, which chose her for this job, is challenging the entirety of the law. The Republican states’ attorneys general, who brought the case, are challenging the entirety of the law, asking the court to strike down the entire thing. That includes the health insurance of something like 23 million people and the preexisting condition protections for more than 100 million, a figure that grows with each coronavirus infection.

“I assure you I am not hostile to the ACA. I am not hostile to any statute that you pass,” Barrett told Sen. Durbin, who asked about her previous comments criticizing Chief Justice Roberts’ reasoning in past ACA cases, which allowed the bulk of the law to remain intact. “You’ve been unequivocal in being critical of the decisions both in NFIB v. Sebelius and King v. Burwell and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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GOP attorneys slam McConnell’s ‘naked hypocrisy’ — say it threatens the Supreme Court’s ‘credibility’

October 13, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett — President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court — are now underway, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping for a full Senate vote before the presidential election. Two conservative attorneys, Donald B. Ayer and Alan Charles Raul, discuss the politicization of the Supreme Court in an op-ed for USA Today — and as they see it, modern-day Republicans are undermining public trust in the High Court.

Ayer and Raul both have very conservative backgrounds. Ayer is a Department of Justice alumni who served as deputy solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan and deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, and Raul served in senior legal positions under Reagan and President George W. Bush. But both of them believe that McConnell has done too much to politicize the High Court.

“When a vacancy on the Supreme Court arose nine months ahead of the election in 2016,” Ayer and Raul write, “Sen. Mitch McConnell said in no uncertain terms: ‘The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.’ Now, after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg less than two months before Election Day, as voters are already casting ballots in many states, McConnell has reversed his position. His naked hypocrisy threatens the future credibility of our federal judiciary.”

Ayer and Raul stress that the purpose of their op-ed is not to discuss Barrett’s qualifications but rather, the way in which she has been nominated.

“We believe that the process being pursued is fundamentally unfair and will greatly undermine public trust upon which our democracy depends,” the conservative attorneys argue. “Indeed, if Senate Republicans force Judge Barrett through in the waning weeks before a presidential election — after denying President Obama any opportunity for Senate consideration of his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland nearly a year before the 2016 election — the American people will unavoidably see the Supreme Court as just another forum for power politics and political players.”

If Barrett is confirmed, Ayer and Raul warn, she will be viewed as a political figure rather than a judicial figure.

“The legitimacy of the judicial branch rests on the principle that judges are independent and unbiased interpreters of the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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New signs of historically high turnout emerge on Georgia's first day of voting

October 13, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

On Monday, a video that showed residents of Gwinnett County, Georgia outside Atlanta waiting in an insanely long line to vote inspired a lot of complaints that there should have been more polling places open. But that video also showed how enthusiastic Georgia residents were about early voting. And according to Associated Press reporter Kate Brumback, the heavy voter turnout in Georgia on Monday was historic.

“More than 128,000 Georgians went to the polls Monday — a record for the first day of early voting in the state, according to the secretary of state’s office,” Brumback reports. “The high turnout surpassed the nearly 91,000 votes cast on the first day of early voting in 2016 and saw eager voters waiting in hours-long lines across the state to cast their ballots.”

Brumback, however, also reports that some Georgia voters were irate on Monday when they “turned up…. only to find their county offices closed for the Columbus Day holiday.” For example, Brumback notes, “Effingham County resident Tony Grimes told WTOC-TV he took the day off work to vote and was frustrated to find the door locked at the county’s main elections office.”

Brumback notes that the heavy turnout on Monday included Fulton County, which Atlanta is a part of. The AP reporter observes, “In Fulton County, the state’s most populous county, close to 20,000 people voted in person on Monday — second only to the last day of early voting in 2016, when about 26,000 voted, county elections director Rick Barron told reporters. County election officials expect that more than 30,000 people will show up for the final day of early voting this year, and Barron encouraged people to vote on other days to avoid long lines.”

Tuesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough pointed out that some voters in Georgia were, on Monday, willing to wait in line up to 11 hours — which the Never Trump conservative and former GOP congressman stressed, showed serious “determination.” And one of the guests on “Morning Joe,” liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, viewed the long lines in and around Atlanta as bad news for President Donald Trump.

Although Georgia is a light red state at this point, Atlanta Proper is largely African-American and heavily Democratic — and the Atlanta suburbs have been trending more Democratic in recent years. Polls have been showing the presidential race to be …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How the Flu Pandemic Changed Halloween in 1918

October 13, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

Officials feared Halloween celebrations could spread the virus or disrupt those who were sick or mourning.

“Witches Must Beware,” declared the Baltimore American on October 31, 1918. The Maryland city’s health commissioner had placed a ban on public Halloween events, instructing the police chief to prevent people from holding “carnivals and other forms of public celebrations.” The United States was in the midst of the second, and most deadly, wave of the 1918 influenza pandemic. And that meant Americans had to curtail their usual Halloween revelry.

In the early 20th century, revelers did not knock on doors to trick-or-treat and Halloween was in general less of a child-centered holiday than it is today. Adults dressed up and held private parties or joined celebrations in the street. Meanwhile, young people—especially boys and young men—spent the night pulling pranks and vandalizing their neighbors’ property. This might mean stealing neighbors’ gates and building a bonfire with them, or stopping a train by laying a fake stuffed “body” on the tracks.

READ MORE: The Great Depression Origins of Halloween Haunted Houses

Bans Established Due to Fear of Virus Spread, And Respect for Flu Victims

The Spanish Flu Was Deadlier Than WWI (TV-PG; 5:42)

WATCH: The Spanish Flu Was Deadlier Than WWII

During the pandemic, cities banned or discouraged these traditions to reduce transmission of the virus, and also to be “respectful of those who might be sick or have lost loved ones,” says Katie Foss, a professor of media studies at Middle Tennessee State University and author of Constructing the Outbreak: Epidemics in Media and Collective Memory.

Cities that had already placed bans on large gatherings might issue separate statements reminding people not to break them on Halloween, says J. Alex Navarro, assistant director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and one of the editors-in-chief of The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: A Digital Encyclopedia. Even if cities didn’t ban Halloween events outright, they might encourage people to tone it down.

READ MORE: Halloween Costumes Through the Ages: Photos

Officials “admonished parents to tell their kids: We know you’re going to go out and do these pranks and these tricks and be loud and rowdy,” he says; “but keep in mind there are lots of people who are convalescing at home and trying to get their rest, and …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Controversial Supreme Court Nominations Through History

October 13, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

Presidents dating back to George Washington have faced opposition to their nominees for the nation’s highest court.

The justices who sit on the was filed—to close schools rather than integrate them. Civil rights and labor activists criticized his record, and pointed out that he had a financial conflict of interest in one of the cases he’d decided. This was especially troubling for the Democrat-controlled Senate because, if confirmed, Haynsworth would replace Abe Fortas, who himself had resigned from the Supreme Court over financial conflicts of interest.

The Senate rejected Haynsworth in 1969, and the next year Nixon nominated G. Harrold Carswell to replace Fortas. Some critics claimed Carswell’s career was mediocre, leading one Republican senator to mount this defense: “Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers, and they are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they?”

Far more damning than this “endorsement” was a statement Carswell had made when he was running for the Georgia legislature in 1948: “I yield to no man as a fellow candidate or as a fellow citizen in the firm, vigorous belief in the principles of white supremacy, and I shall always be so governed.” Civil rights groups highlighted this statement and his support for segregation, and the Senate rejected him as a Supreme Court justice.

…read more

Source: HISTORY