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Member since: Thu May 7, 2009, 11:59 PM
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It's Time to End Legal Immunity for the Gun Industry - Where Do Progressives Stand?

We need to know where our electeds stand. Do they stand with gun manufacturers? Or, will they end the immunity for gun manufacturers?


In November 1998, the largest tobacco manufacturers in the country entered into a "master settlement agreement" with the attorneys general of 46 states in order to settle public health lawsuits that threatened to beggar the industry. The attorneys general had sued on the grounds that they had incurred immense Medicaid costs as the result of the tobacco industry's negligent marketing practices, causing millions of people to get hooked on cigarettes and suffering health effects that burdened the state health systems.

That same month, the City of Chicago filed a lawsuit against 22 gun manufacturers and sellers of guns in the Chicago suburbs and surrounding areas for causing a "public nuisance" in supplying and selling guns around the City at a level well above what the lawful gun market could support. The City's theory of the case was that the manufacturers and sellers must have known that the guns would end up on the illicit secondary market -- that is, on the streets of Chicago, where violence was continuing at high rates.

The case wended its way through the court system for six years, finally being dismissed by the Illinois Supreme Court in November 2004. Chicago's suit was one of several that had been filed along similar lines -- all inspired by the success of the public suits against the tobacco companies. Most of these suits suffered similar ends by 2005 -- when Congress passed the Protecting Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) which granted the gun industry immunity from civil liability for the unlawful use of guns except in narrow circumstances.

The PLCAA effectively exempted this one industry from the type of product liability and nuisance litigation that just about every other industry has to protect itself against: liability for the foreseeable misuse of their products. This immunity acted as a second shield for gun manufacturers and sellers, who already enjoy some level of protection from product liability suits because they traffic in "inherently dangerous" products, which users know are dangerous. Therefore, users themselves assume a significant level of risk for these products' use.

Last February, Trump signed a bill making it easier for people with mental illness to buy guns


It did not attract a ton of attention at the time (nothing does these days) but about a year ago on February 28, 2017, Congress passed and Donald Trump signed a law revoking an Obama-era regulatory initiative that made it harder for people with mental illness to buy a gun.

Yet despite this effort to roll back even a very modest effort to restrain the ability of seriously incapacitated people from obtaining deadly weapons, this morning Trump tweeted that there were “so many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed,” implying that someone should have done something to report him.

But it’s Trump’s party — and Trump himself — who have consistently prevented the federal government from doing anything about this kind of situation. The Obama-era gun regulation wouldn’t have had a massive impact on gun violence in the US since it’s estimated that it would only affect about 75,000 people. And disability rights groups had their own objections to the bill so some liberal groups, including the ACLU, joined with the National Rifle Association in urging Trump to reverse it.

But anything that makes it easier to obtain a gun, the research suggests, will likely worsen gun violence. After all, America already has some of the weakest gun laws in the developed world — and repealing a rule that made it a little tougher for some people to buy a gun likely makes that worse.

NY Times - A Little-Noticed Target in the House Health Bill: Special Education

Not only are Republicans fighting against gun control, but they are also cutting funding to special education programs that could assist teens with mental illness and autism.

A perfect recipe for more gun shootings. Easy access to guns plus rollbacks in services to youth with special needs.


WASHINGTON — While House Republicans lined up votes Wednesday for a Thursday showdown over their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Vickie Glenn sat in her Murphysboro, Ill., office and prayed for it to fail.

Ms. Glenn, a Medicaid coordinator for Tri-County Special Education, an Illinois cooperative that helps more than 20 school districts deliver special education services to students, was worried about an issue that few in Congress were discussing: how the new American Health Care Act, with its deep cuts to Medicaid, would affect her 2,500 students.

With all the sweeping changes the Republican bill would impose, little attention has been paid to its potential impact on education. School districts rely on Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor, to provide costly services to millions of students with disabilities across the country. For nearly 30 years, Medicaid has helped school systems cover costs for special education services and equipment, from physical therapists to feeding tubes. The money is also used to provide preventive care, such as vision and hearing screenings, for other Medicaid-eligible children.

“If I could have 10 minutes with President Trump, I could help him understand what we do, why it’s important,” Ms. Glenn said. “If he understood, he would protect it, because this isn’t Republicans and Democrats. It’s just kids.”

Fox Pulls Column Calling the U.S. Olympic Team 'Darker, Gayer, Different'

As Korean American Chloe Kim prepared to dominate the women's half-pipe, Fox's Executive Vice President wrote a column complaining about having gay or non-white athletes on the Olympic team.


Fox News has deleted a column in which executive editor and executive vice president John Moody wrote that the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) apparently wants to change the Olympic motto from “swifter, higher, stronger” to “darker, gayer, different.”

Moody’s column, which was published Wednesday, attracted widespread outrage online after outlets including Deadspin wrote about its contents. By Friday, the op-ed had been removed from Fox’s website, with a spokesperson saying it did not reflect Fox News’ views or values, the Associated Press reports.

Moody’s column was apparently prompted by a USOC official providing an “embarrassing laundry list of how many African-Americans, Asians and openly gay athletes are on the team” while discussing the diversity of this year’s athletes, AP writes. Moody used the column to argue that sports should be about merit and competition, not political correctness.

“Insisting that sports bow to political correctness by assigning teams quotas for race, religion or sexuality is like saying that professional basketball goals will be worth four points if achieved by a minority in that sport – white guys, for instance – instead of the two or three points awarded to black players, who make up 81 percent of the NBA. Any plans to fix that disparity? Didn’t think so,” Moody’s column read, according to an excerpt published by Deadspin.

Republican candidates across the country are trying to replicate Trumps formula

The genie is out of the bottle as Republicans embrace previously unspoken racism, sexism, xenophobia and hate that bound the Republican party. Populism is just a euphemism for hate these days.


Is Donald Trump the chicken or the egg in the devolution of the Republican Party? Trump isn’t the first Republican to win over GOP voters with shameless bigotry and relentless demagoguery, and his administration is almost typical in its disdain for the commons and its commitment to enriching the rich. At the same time, his success has unleashed something in the GOP, opening the gate to a crop of candidates who have jettisoned respectability to channel the conservative id in all of its anger and resentment.

The latest example of this phenomenon comes from Illinois, where Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives is challenging incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner for the gubernatorial nomination. Like Trump against Jeb Bush, Corey Stewart against Ed Gillespie in Virginia, and Roy Moore against Luther Strange in Alabama, Ives hopes to upset a more established Republican by fanning anger and prejudice.

“Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girl’s bathroom,” says a deep-voiced male actor wearing a dress, in a new ad released by Ives’ campaign. The ad attacks the incumbent governor for purportedly backing liberal policies and uses a procession of conservative boogeymen to mockingly “thank” Rauner for his aid. A black woman in a Chicago Teachers Union shirt thanks Rauner for a “bailout” of teacher pensions, a white woman in a pink hat thanks him for “making all Illinois families pay for my abortions,” and a man dressed as antifa thanks the governor for making “Illinois a sanctuary state for illegal immigrant criminals.”

* * *
Across the country, Trump-style candidates appear to have the upper hand over establishment favorites. Former sheriff Joe Arpaio shot to the top of the polls in Arizona when he entered the race for a U.S. Senate seat last month, surpassing former state Sen. Kelli Ward and nearly tying Rep. Martha McSally. Arpaio served 24 years as sheriff of Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state, where he built a reputation for cruelty to inmates and a national profile as an aggressive tormentor of undocumented immigrants. Dozens of inmates died in Arpaio’s jails, and the country spent tens of millions of dollars litigating claims against the sheriff. In 2017, he was convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring a court order to stop racially profiling Hispanic residents, detaining them simply on suspicion of undocumented status. President Trump later pardoned him, calling Arpaio an “American patriot,” and it’s not at all clear whether the criminal charges for profiling will help or hurt Arpaio in the Republican primary.

Vox - The campaign to oust Rod Rosenstein is heating up after the Nunes memos release

It does not matter that Nunes little list of talking points is bullshit. You do not matter. The point of the memo is to give Fox News and other RW media outlets a plausible story line to justify Trump firing Rosenstein and Mueller.

Looking ahead, once Trump has his cronies in the DOJ and FBI, he can use them to attack his political adversaries Putin style. If you were curious about how a Democratic country can slip into dictatorship, this is how it goes.


The Nunes memo has been released — and the conservative drumbeat demanding the firing of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is getting louder.

The Tea Party Patriots, a conservative activist group, put out an ad Friday that bluntly states: “It’s time for Rod Rosenstein to do his job or resign.”

The ad claims that Rosenstein’s “incompetence and abuse of power” have “undermined congressional investigations” and tarnished the reputation of the Justice Department.

It also calls him “a weak careerist at the Justice Department, protecting liberal Obama holdovers and the deep state, instead of following the rule of law.” (Trump appointed Rosenstein to his position in the Justice Department; he had previously served as the longtime US attorney in Maryland. He was appointed to that position by George W. Bush, in 2005.)

Vox - The truth about the Trump economy, explained

Excellent article that points out that the real change in the Trump economy, which largely continues if not lags the rate of growth under President Obama, is that conservative media is now celebrating the same fundamentals as signs of a great economy when just a few years ago the RW media was saying that the economy was failing under President Obama.


Hillary Clinton struggled to articulate a boosterish case for the American economy during the 2016 campaign in part because of lingering patches of labor market weakness but largely because progressives have a more fundamental critique of the US economic situation.

The United States is the only high-income country to have millions of citizens who lack health insurance, has a relative child poverty rate that’s off the charts by the standards of other developed countries, has no guaranteed paid parental leave or paid vacation, and remains one of the world’s highest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases even as the world hurtles toward an environmental crisis. Under those circumstances, efforts to pitch the notion that “America is already great” end up falling flat not just — or even especially — with skeptical swing voters but with Democrats’ own base that yearns for transformative change to aspects of the American welfare state and of American political economy.

Republicans have no such qualms. The Republican Party donor class is very, very excited about high stock market valuations (which lead directly to huge payouts for top executives) and about corporate income tax cuts (which lead to high stock market valuations, and thus huge payouts for top executives) and thus are very glad to embrace the narrative that all is now well with the American economy. That gives an incumbent Republican presiding over decent growth an easy, uncomplicated pitch to make — things are good now, and they are good thanks to me.

It’s largely forgotten now, but back during the mid-aughts (a time of more rapid wage growth than what we saw in 2017, incidentally), it was commonplace in conservative circles to proclaim that we were living through a “Bush Boom” touched off by his game-changing tax cuts and deregulation. That story, obviously, eventually ended in tears, as a poorly supervised financial system channeled inequitably shared growth into an unsustainable pyramid of debt that eventually collapsed. But they were good times while they lasted.

Politico - Trump cuts to CDC worry health experts in NY - Smallest Budget in 20 Years

As the U.S. confronts the worst flu season in a decade, remember that Trump proposed a 17 percent cut to the CDC that would leave it its smallest budget in more than 20 years. But hey, we have to give the rich their tax cuts.


It's this kind of coordination that often goes unnoticed by the public even as it likely saves lives. The CDC is typically in the news during major outbreaks but it’s the day-to-day warnings, the data gathering and information sharing that have public and private health officials so concerned about Trump’s budget, which proposes to cut $1.2 billion from the CDC. The 17 percent cut would leave the CDC with its smallest budget in more than 20 years.

A president’s budget isn’t meant to pass as-is. It’s usually described as a set of guiding principles for Congress. This budget is no exception and while it won’t pass as it is currently written, Republicans in Congress can’t entirely ignore it either.

The budget includes a 17 percent cut to CDC’s global health programs, which track and respond to global outbreaks such as Candida auris. It also cuts roughly 10 percent from CDC’s office of public health preparedness and response. There is an $82 million cut for the center that works on vaccine-preventable illnesses such as influenza, and a $186 million cut from programs at CDC’s center on HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis prevention.

Tom Frieden, CDC director under former President Barack Obama and health commissioner under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said on Twitter that the proposal was “unsafe at any level of enactment. Would increase illness, death, risks to Americans, and health care costs.”

Vox - This is the first real government shutdown under one-party government, ever

Trump and Republicans are making history again. While the media tries to paint a false equivalency between Republicans and Democrats, the fact of the matter is that Republicans control all three branches of government and Trump himself blew up the latest effort at bipartisanship.


The government shutdown this weekend is the first time a true, honest-to-God shutdown has happened with a single party controlling the White House and Congress.

It’s true that Jimmy Carter and Democrats in Congress butted heads five separate times in 1977, 1978, and 1979, and couldn’t get their act together to fund the government (Carter was a bad president!). But that was before Carter’s attorney general issued guidance saying that when a funding gap like that exists, government functions must shut down.

Carter’s “shutdowns” didn’t lead to any federal employees being sent home and denied pay. Donald Trump’s will.

Republicans are already trying to blame the Democratic minority in the Senate for threatening to filibuster a spending bill that doesn’t include relief for DACA recipients — unauthorized immigrants who arrived as children and who had been protected by an Obama administration executive action that Trump has since revoked. The White House has even started calling it the #SchumerShutdown, after the Democratic Minority Leader.

Slate - Oprahs Real Message: It wasnt about her. It was about us. (Even Dems)

The amazing thing is how Oprah's speech has not only drawn criticism for the right, but also among some members of the "left" concerned that the speech was too good and might create momentum for Oprah to run for President. The speech recognized the need for individual citizens to become engaged. Nonetheless, rather than listen to the substance of the speech regarding an empowered citizenry, people continued to either look for a messiah or protect the political messiahs who they felt were threatened by the great speech that Oprah gave.

The folks who seek to annoint Oprah a messiah or seek to bring her down to defend their chosen political messiahs missed the entire point of her speech as noted by Dahlia Lithwik.


I loved Oprah’s Golden Globes speech on Sunday. It was mesmerizing, pitch perfect, and gave voice to many lifetimes of frustration and vindication with eloquence and a full authority she has earned. But I found the strange Facebook response of “Oprah 2020” weirdly discordant and disorienting. Oprah’s speech—in my hearing—wasn’t about why she needs to run for office. It was about why the rest of us need to do so, immediately.

The dominant theme I heard was about giving voice to invisible people. It was the arc of the entire speech. It’s also what the very best journalism is about, and it’s worth remembering that’s how Oprah began her career. The speech began with her goosebump-y tale of first seeing Sidney Poitier win an Academy Award in 1964 and how much of a revelation it was at the time to see a black man celebrated in America. Then it ran through to her chilling invocation of Recy Taylor, a young black woman who was raped in Alabama in 1944 by six white men who were never brought to justice. She deftly linked Taylor to Rosa Parks, who investigated the rape for the NAACP and then 11 years later refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery with Taylor “somewhere in her heart.” This was a speech about how seeing someone else model the fight against racism, sexism, and injustice activates us to fight alongside.

It was a testament to the greatest gifts she has as a journalist, actor, and media personality: the ability to shed light on the faceless and speak of justice and morality in ways that are urgent and original. That’s why the speech honored not just the women in sleek black dresses who were on their feet cheering her. The true message was about someone else:

Women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farmworkers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military

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