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Gender: Female
Hometown: NY
Home country: US
Current location: Florida
Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 08:54 PM
Number of posts: 166,915

Journal Archives

12 million to lose federal unemployment benefits after Christmas: study

12 million to lose federal unemployment benefits after Christmas: study
By Niv Elis - 11/18/20 08:20 AM EST

Twelve million people would lose federal benefits the day after Christmas if Congress does not pass extensions for key unemployment programs, according to a study by The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank.

“Absent congressional action to extend CARES Act benefits, December 26 will mark the end of one of the last lifelines available to millions of Americans in desperate need,” said Andrew Stettner, who co-authored the study with Elizabeth Pancotti.

“It will be a crippling end to one of our darkest years.”

Congress passed a slew of expanded benefits programs in the CARES Act, March’s emergency COVID-19 relief bill. One program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, expanded eligibility to the self-employed and gig economy workers, a group that normally is not eligible.

The study released Wednesday estimated that 7.3 million people will be on the program when it expires the last week of December, and that 945,000 people will have run out of the benefit before that point.

Another program, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, provided an extension of benefits after the 26 weeks most states offer ran out. If that program expires at year’s end, 4.6 million workers would lose benefits. Another 3.5 million will have already used up the benefit before that point.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Nov 18, 2020, 08:37 AM (4 replies)

Biden Covid advisers say transition delay hurts pandemic prep beyond vaccines

Biden Covid advisers say transition delay hurts pandemic prep beyond vaccines
The transition team is unable to consult with federal health officials on available hospital beds and the status of the National Strategic Stockpile.
11/17/2020 05:44 PM EST

The leaders of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board said Tuesday the Trump administration’s continued refusal to allow the transition to move forward is hurting their preparedness planning on multiple fronts, from addressing mask shortages to recommending targeted closures in hot spots and laying the groundwork to distribute prospective vaccines.

The transition team is unable to consult with federal health officials or access real-time data on available hospital beds, the status of the National Strategic Stockpile and therapeutics, among other things. For now, they said that's forcing them to rely on piecemeal data from state and local officials and public sources like the Covid Tracking Project.

“Not only do we need cooperation in order to ensure that we have a good vaccine delivery plan — we really need it across the board,” said Vivek Murthy, one of the co-chairs of the advisory board. “That cooperation will impact how effective we are at closing the testing gap, ensuring that hospitals and doctors and nurses have enough protective equipment like masks and gloves and make sure we have enough syringes and swabs to proceed with a vaccination campaign.”


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Nov 18, 2020, 07:49 AM (2 replies)

Dan Rather: "How can people not see the truth when it is everywhere?"

Dan Rather

The numbers are just breathtaking, in the saddest incarnation of the word. They literally leave me coming up short of air, pulse quickened, mind foggy, as I contemplate, or try to, the sheer level of death and loss and families and communities torn apart from the deadly virus.

Graphs show spikes, but spikes are tallied in lives wiped off our fragile Earth, lives often vibrant and full just weeks earlier. At first no one saw the tsunami coming. And when warning sirens rang, from China, and Europe, and even from within our country, they went largely unheeded. A force of unrelenting death dismissed as a hoax or discounted as a flu.

Why has this death cult persisted? It is the question of our time, echoing a moment in our history that summons general disbelief. How can people not see the truth when it is everywhere? We try for benchmarkers to measure the present carnage, so many 9/11's or even the death toll of Vietnam. But this seems to have less impact than hurricanes and other "acts of God" which kill far, far fewer but seem to garner much more fear and elicit much more empathy.

As an old TV newsman, I can't help but wonder whether a big part of the problem is that this is not a visual form of mass death. The images of terrorism, or war, or the aftermath of ferocious winds, or a plane tumbling out of the sky are the kinds of stories that win photojournalists awards. How do you take yet another picture of a patient on ventilators? There are always people on ventilators. There are always people in hospitals dying. Not on this scale, of course, not by a long shot. But human beings have a hard time comprehending scale. Our emotions are more resonant with the personal, the small tragedy.

I find the emerging number of nurses' heartbreaking testimonials particularly affecting. I am moved by the pictures of smiling family members who had no idea when the photo was taken that they would soon die in pain and alone. I yearn for every one of my fellow citizens to engage. I understand the fear of a crumbling economy. I understand the frustration of schools closed and life and families disrupted. I desperately wish this wasn't real.

But, but, but... it is all too real. My line of work has brought me face to face with death in many forms. It is a finality that defines the ultimate bookend of our lives. And it is here, everywhere. I pray that people wake up. Every small act can literally save a life. Vaccines are coming. Science will ride to our rescue. But in the interim it is our common humanity and empathy that will save the most lives. We need to do a better job of describing the horror. We need to all pull together to make sure the reality of our present doesn't become a final destiny that draws far more into its deadly undertow.

Courage and Peace to all of you.
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Nov 18, 2020, 07:34 AM (21 replies)

The Rude Pundit: Holding Trump and the Right Accountable for Their Actions That Led to the Spread

The Rude Pundit
Proudly lowering the level of political discourse
Holding Trump and the Right Accountable for Their Actions That Led to the Spread of Covid

I've been thinking about how to walk the line between free speech and, in some way, sanctioning or punishing people whose speech directly harms people. It's a tough one because it's a dangerous path when you start to say that those who watch Fox "news" or OAN or listen to Rush Limbaugh or read savagely right-wing websites like Breitbart or QAnon boards are being harmed because that asks for a judgment call on what is ultimately a right or wrong way to live. You can't stop speech just because you think someone's beliefs that come from that speech are reprehensible. You don't challenge that because of how easily that can be (and has been) used to attack the speech of the left. Just ask anyone who espoused openly Communist beliefs at any point in the last 100 years. If flag burners are protected, then Trump flag wavers are protected.

But I do think a strong case can be made that when speech is used in a way that is so egregious that it is the direct and demonstrable cause of physical harm to people, it has crossed a border from "protected" to "punishable." This isn't about you yelling, "Fire" in a crowded theatre. Instead, it's about you yelling, "There is no fire" to a crowd while you know the theatre is burning. On some level, you bear some responsibility for all the people who burned to death, even if you didn't light the flames and bar the exits.

So it is with President Donald Trump and almost the entirety of the right-wing political and media ecosphere. We have listened and read and watched since the beginning of the Covid pandemic as Trump has not only openly scorned scientists but has advised people to act in ways that are completely the opposite of every safety guideline being issued by his own government. And he has been backed up at every turn by lickspittle governors and anxious-to-please members of Congress, not to mention the nightly reports from outlets like One America "news." This is everything from denial of the severity of Covid to denial of the effectiveness of masks and social distancing to denial of the existence of Covid at all.

We know that all of this has had an effect. The current surge in cases in the United States, all entirely predicted by doctors and medical scientists, and the forthcoming surge in deaths are the result of this outright lying and denial in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus. We get reports constantly now of Covid patients who adamantly refuse to believe they have the very illness they're diagnosed as having or saying that it's not a big deal just before they end up being placed on ventilators or dying. It's madness, and for telling people that it's okay to stick their hands in the toaster, someone ought to be held accountable.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Nov 18, 2020, 07:03 AM (1 replies)

Trump Fumes Biden Will Get Credit for Vaccine


Trump Fumes Biden Will Get Credit for Vaccine
November 17, 2020 at 10:35 pm EST By Taegan Goddard

“As prospects for an effective vaccination for the coronavirus have improved for the coming year, Donald Trump has grown outwardly resentful that he won’t be in the Oval Office to take the credit for it,” the Daily Beast reports.

“The president had said he envisioned large, public, mask-free events—particularly when the weather grew warmer in, what he anticipated to be, a second term—and rallies to celebrate the successes of Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership to develop a vaccine. When distribution began, Trump had wanted to be directly involved in the vaccine’s promotion, gaming out a video campaign about the safety and success of his operation.”
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Nov 18, 2020, 06:49 AM (52 replies)

Republicans finally find a post-election Trump move they don't like


Republicans finally find a post-election Trump move they don't like
Republicans applaud Trump's every move, even as he launches an unprecedented attack on our democracy itself, but troop drawdowns are a bridge too far?
Nov. 17, 2020, 12:48 PM EST
By Steve Benen


There's ample room for debate as to why Trump is so eager to do this before exiting the White House, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg issued a less-than-subtle statement this morning, warning of the possible dangers associated with "leaving [Afghanistan] too soon or in an uncoordinated way."

Stoltenberg is not the only one with concerns. Roll Call reported yesterday:

Amid indications President Donald Trump will move to slash the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq before he leaves office, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked the idea in a blistering Senate floor speech Monday. McConnell has been almost unfailingly loyal to Trump, but the Kentucky Republican has openly pushed back when he has seen Trump's actions as possibly threatening U.S. security.

There was similar rhetoric from a variety of other GOP senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Armed Services Committee.

To be sure, this is a debate with several moving parts, each of which are important. The effects of withdrawal are worth considering in detail; Trump's motivations are opaque; it puts the recent personnel shake-up at the Defense Department in a new light; etc.

But Mother Jones' Kevin Drum touched on a political angle that shouldn't get lost in the shuffle: "Let me get this straight: If Donald Trump orders a reduction of 2,500 troops from Afghanistan, McConnell is willing to publicly blast Trump in no uncertain terms as a threat to the security of the nation. But if Donald Trump loudly undermines the foundations of democracy by refusing to admit defeat in a presidential election, McConnell remains silent."

Quite right. This is where McConnell and Senate Republicans draw the line? They'll applaud the outgoing president's every move, even as Trump launches an unprecedented attack on our democracy itself, but troop drawdowns are a bridge too far?
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Nov 17, 2020, 02:31 PM (4 replies)

David Corn: Donald Trump's Reign Is Ending as It Began: With a Conspiracy Theory

4 hours ago
Donald Trump’s Reign Is Ending as It Began: With a Conspiracy Theory
From his racist birtherism to his phony claim of a rigged election.
David Corn
Washington, DC, Bureau ChiefBio | Follow

Donald Trump is leaving the presidency the way he began his political career: as an unhinged peddler of conspiracy theories.

Trump laid the foundation for his 2016 campaign for president by becoming the right’s No. 1 Barack Obama hater. And he did that by championing the racist birther conspiracy theory that falsely claimed that the first Black president had been born in Kenya, not Hawaii. The point of slinging this swill was to suggest that Obama was an illegitimate commander in chief. (Under the Constitution, only a “natural born” American citizen is eligible to be president.) That was, of course, total bunk. Yet Trump kept pushing this accusation, claiming he had investigators who were getting the goods on Obama.

It was a lie. A big lie. Trump had nothing. His investigators had nothing—if they even existed. Yet the truth didn’t matter. Not to many Republicans. Trump was mounting a disinformation operation to win over the get-Obama crowd in preparation for a potential presidential bid. And it worked. As the loudmouth questioning Obama’s legitimacy, Trump, who had never run for any office, quickly developed a conservative constituency that he then mobilized during the Republican primary contest. Being a conspiracy theorist didn’t disqualify Trump within the Fox-driven GOP cosmos. It boosted his prospects and helped him become president. Dishonesty paid off.

Through his presidency, Trump repeatedly sought to protect himself by encouraging paranoia and disseminating baseless tales of conspiracy. To escape the taint on his 2016 electoral victory caused by the Russian attack and his efforts that aided Vladimir Putin’s assault on American democracy, Trump promoted various false counter-narratives: the Obama administration and the Deep State had spied on and schemed against him; Ukraine had intervened in the 2016 contest to thwart him; and the Russian attack on the Democratic Party was a hoax. The dissemination of these fake stories also worked, in a way. They muddied up what should have been a clear picture: Trump had betrayed the nation by abetting the Russian attack, which he sought to exploit. But Trump was able to generate enough baloney to deflect attention from the core issue and to turn the Trump-Russia scandal into a debate between fact and disinformation. Once more, spreading conspiracy theories helped Trump.

To keep his hold on the presidency, Trump again turned to this tactic. He and his henchmen cooked up false stories about Joe Biden and the business dealings of his son Hunter. And Trump muscled the president of Ukraine to support the fraud. These actions did lead to Trump’s impeachment. But Trump, thanks to his GOP enablers, survived the Senate trial. He was not penalized. And perhaps the anti-Biden propaganda Trump and his crew concocted did help gin up Trump’s base or turn off some potential Biden voters.

Now, as Trump faces the biggest loss in his public life, he is whipping out the same game plan: issue outlandish charges that focus on underhanded plots. With Biden the apparent winner in a decisive electoral and popular vote count, Trump is refusing to acknowledge reality and spinning dark allegations of a massive plot against him. The counting was rigged. The election software was rigged. Like a drowning man, he grabs on to whatever false accusation he can as a lifeline. Last week, Trump embraced an unfounded conspiracy theory that claimed a software company had switched millions of Trump votes to Biden votes. As Mother Jones reported, this claim had originated with an anonymous internet poster who had previously accused Biden of being a sex criminal and of being bad for white people. This particular conspiracy theory jumped from this poster to a rightwing blogger and then was picked up by OAN, the to-the-right-of-Fox network. There was no confirmation of the details. And after OAN reported on this “analysis,” Trump tweeted it out, citing OAN. A conspiracy theory with no basis had hit the right-wing disinformation transmission belt and ended up being blessed and exploited by the president of the United States.


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Nov 17, 2020, 02:22 PM (1 replies)

Ivanka Trump Was My Best Friend. Now She's MAGA Royalty


First Family
Ivanka Trump Was My Best Friend. Now She’s MAGA Royalty
We met at an all-girls’ school on the Upper East Side and were inseparable for more than a decade. Gradually, though, our differences divided us—“Why would you tell me to read a book about fucking poor people?” she once asked—and I watched her blow up her carefully-curated image of refined privilege to embrace her father wholesale.
By Lysandra Ohrstrom
November 17, 2020


For the past four years I have tried to tune out the conversation that dominated international media, but it is nearly impossible to ignore when the person who used to pluck ingrown hairs from your bikini line suddenly appoints herself to the role of unelected public official and begins to torch democracy. When Ivanka recently posted a photo of herself on stage with her children at a Trump rally, I wondered to another friend from the Manhattan private school world what her endgame might be. Ivanka had deigned to dress Middle American housewives when I knew her, but did not pretend to want to hobnob with them. Predictably, as she began moving with the real power brokers of the world, Ivanka became increasingly certain that she and the rest of the capitalist elite had better solutions to the plight of America’s struggling working class than elected officials and the creaky bureaucracies they presided over. But aligning herself with her dad’s banana republic-style administration made no sense to me, until my friend suggested that Ivanka took her kids to the rally to show them that they are American royalty. This explanation seemed most plausible. What is more royal than presiding over subjects that you disdain?

I’ve been a good Wasp and kept quiet until now, even as I’ve grown increasingly repulsed by Ivanka’s ability to aid and abet her father. I’ve been comforted by the certainty that the backlash from those whose respect she craves most must sting. Still, I miss my old friend. I miss going to Green Kitchen on First Avenue at 1 a.m. for “mozzarazza,” hailing down a gondola in Amsterdam for a tour, belting out “Anna Begins” and songs from Les Mis on a road trip. But most of all, I miss the time when the Trump family quest for power was not dangerous to the country.

A day before Biden finally declared victory, I saw Ivanka issue a tepid statement about how “Every legally cast vote should be counted,” presumably at her father’s behest, still clearly hoping that she can be enriched and adored by the public she exploits even as she’s embraced on the slopes of Aspen. “Goodbye @IvankaTrump,” reads one reply to her tweet. “You will be loved by the people you disdain and disdained by the people you want to be loved by. There will never be a Met Ball for you again. You are fated to live out your years as an aging, corrupt, villainous Barbie; paying the price for what you did.”

Though I do hope that fantasy comes true—the damage the Trump family has done is unforgivable, even if perpetrated by my childhood best friend—I expect Ivanka will find a soft landing in Palm Beach instead, where casual white supremacy is de rigueur and most misdeeds are forgiven if you have enough money.It’s the perfect spot for her to lie low, shielded from the economic and social consequences of the policies she pursued for the past four years, the backlash against them, and from having to interact with her MAGA following. Surely Ivanka will still market whatever branded products she can sell them, and many whisper that she will harness their loyalty in a future run for president.

Whether Ivanka is able to rehab her stained image or not, I hope she wasn’t able to drown out the applause of the city she once aspired to rule, cheering and celebrating her political downfall. I was with them, crying with relief, matched only by the regret and shame I feel for not holding my former friend to account sooner.

Lysandra Ohrstrom (@LysandraO) is a Brooklyn-based freelance journalist who covers the U.S. and the Middle East.
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Nov 17, 2020, 10:50 AM (50 replies)

Al Franken Is Mounting a Comeback From #MeToo Exile

Al Franken Is Mounting a Comeback From #MeToo Exile
Nearly three years after sexual misconduct allegations got him pushed out of the Senate, Al Franken has quietly made his return to cable and radio airwaves.
Maxwell Tani, Media reporter
Published Nov. 17, 2020 4:48AM ET
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photos Getty

If you’ve recently tuned in to CNN or MSNBC you may have noticed a familiar face has returned to political punditry: Al Franken.

Over the past several months, the former Minnesota senator—whose legislative career ended in 2018 over multiple allegations of sexual misconduct—has been quietly growing his media presence, becoming a more common sight on cable news, in op-ed pages, and on the radio.

Earlier this month, for example, the former Minnesota senator appeared three times in a single week on MSNBC, weighing in on the Senate confirmation hearings for now Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. At other times he’s joined host Joy Reid to react to news or, since Election Day, has appeared regularly on Brian Williams’ show to discuss Donald Trump’s current futile attempts to overturn Joe Biden’s electoral wins in several states via recounts, noting his own experience with a much narrower recount in 2008.

In September, he spoke with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about political satire and Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and wrote an op-ed for the network’s website over the summer about how Biden could win the election. He wrote about Biden’s incoming administration for the Los Angeles Times, and launched a podcast/radio show on SiriusXM dedicated to covering the election, booking interviews with high-profile guests and personal friends like musician John Mayer, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, upstart 2020 Democratic candidate Andrew Yang, and comedians like Sarah Silverman, Jimmy Kimmel, and Chris Rock.

In a brief telephone interview several days after the election, Franken said his goal in returning to the public eye—despite his unceremonious exit from politics—is to raise awareness about the issues he felt passionately about as a legislator, including health care, climate change, right-wing media, and an increasingly conservative tilt in the judiciary system. He seemed more focused on the future than reflecting upon his past.

“I want to have my voice heard so I can keep fighting for the things that I care about and the people I care about,” Franken told The Daily Beast.


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Nov 17, 2020, 10:00 AM (95 replies)

Eric Boehlert: Who cares about Trump voters' feelings?


Who cares about Trump voters' feelings?
It's not news
Eric Boehlert
46 min ago

Shining an unprecedented spotlight on supporters of the losing presidential candidate, the press continues its four-year love affair with Trump voters. Forever centering them as the unequivocal focal point of American politics, news outlets are making sure to check in on them as they defiantly reject Trump’s lopsided electoral loss to Joe Biden.

Journalists are swooping into GOP-friendly outposts such as Youngstown, Ohio (ABC News), Colorado Springs (Washington Post), and Mason, Texas (New York Times), for what seem like group-hug sessions, as the press continues to give close-minded Trump supporters a platform to spread untrue claims about the election and about Biden.

“Did I miss all the stories about the 78 million Biden supporters who triumphed — and their wants and needs — and how rural-centric Trump supporters need to reach out and understand the massive urban/suburban majority in America?” asked SiriusXM host, Michael Signorile, watching the flood of media attention given to Trump loyalists in recent days.

The media’s firm fixation on Trump voters isn’t normal — the idea that our politics needs to concern itself with the bruised feelings of voters who supported the presidential loser has no basis in how the press traditionally views the election season. And yet, here we are as the press rushes in to hear and amplify Trump voters’ anger, angst and concern about the president’s loss, and push fabricated claims about voter fraud.


• “I don’t see how Michigan could vote blue after everything that’s happened to us. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

• “Biden is in bed with China.”

• “For me to believe that Joe Biden got 78 million votes, I find that very hard to believe."

• “I will never accept a Biden win.”

• “These mystery votes all came in for Biden and zero for Trump. Something is definitely fishy there.”

• “I will not believe that [Biden] is a legitimate winner.”

• “Everything I worked for, Biden wants to give to the immigrants to help them live, when they don’t do nothing but sit on their butts.”

• “It was a recipe for disaster when they decided to have these mail-in votes.”

• “When we deal with globalists and liberalism, I would put absolutely nothing past them.”

What’s the point of this endless media exercise? What’s the news value in providing a platform for Trump voters so they can regurgitate these hollow, and often hateful, claims on behalf of a candidate who just became only the fourth U.S. incumbent president in 150 years to lose his re-election bid?

Trump voters’ feelings aren’t news.
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Nov 17, 2020, 07:53 AM (52 replies)
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