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pecosbob's Journal
pecosbob's Journal
March 15, 2019

Both Parties Are Addicted to Dark Money. Only One Is Trying to Quit.

After House Democrats passed a major overhaul of campaign finance, Mitch McConnell is blocking the bill in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), like many other Republicans in Congress, has been aggressively bashing HR 1, the sweeping anti-corruption bill that Democrats passed in the House last week. McConnell has called the bill a “radical, half-baked socialist proposal” and a “political power grab” by Democrats, and has made it clear he won’t bring the measure up for a vote in the Senate.

But when it comes to campaign finance, both parties have their hands dirtied by dark money, and it’s not a given that closing loopholes on disclosure of campaign spending would prove more beneficial to Democrats. Although conservative groups have spent significantly more dark money (political spending that doesn’t reveal where the funds originated) than liberal groups over the past decade, liberal groups have not been shy about exploiting the current campaign finance system for their own benefit. Conservative groups have spent approximately $763.2 million in dark money over the past decade, while liberal groups spent approximately $235.8 million during the same time frame.

But recently, dark money has favored Democrats. In the 2018 midterms, almost double the amount of undisclosed funds was spent to boost liberal candidates than conservatives. This also reflected the fact that the Democratic candidates in the House and Senate greatly out-raised their Republican counterparts.

Some Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), have in the past spoken out against the use of dark money in politics. Although most of the 2020 Democratic candidates have expressed their desire not to have any super-PACs supporting their campaigns, there is not quite a consensus among Democratic candidates on how to deal with dark money, as there is regarding corporate PACs.

“Unfortunately, Democrats and Republicans alike have long been beholden to big money in politics, blocking meaningful reform and benefitting from weak enforcement by the FEC,” says Paul S. Ryan from Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group. But he also highlighted that McConnell’s attempts to paint HR 1 as a Democratic power grab is stretching the truth. “Sen. McConnell’s not fooling anyone with his self-serving rhetoric. America knows he’s only protecting his fat-cat friends.”

read more at https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/03/dark-money-democrats-republicans-mitch-mcconnell/

*Edit...sorry for lack of link...still asleep

March 15, 2019

Harris County (Houston) attempts to end cash bail for non-violent felony charges

Harris County’s New Progressive Judges Are Upending the Bail System

In November, Democrats swept Harris County, Texas, courtrooms, replacing every Republican judge to occupy each of the 59 seats on the ballot. Many of those candidates, including the 19 black women who campaigned together, ran on reform-minded platforms focused on upending the county’s bail system. “We’re locking up a lot of nonviolent people that can’t afford to get out,” said Toria Finch, a Democratic judge who won a seat in a misdemeanor court, during a radio interview soon before the November election. “That’s not right.”

Now, the judges have a chance to do just that. A federal judge in Harris County is currently considering a case that would transform the way bail is set for people charged with felonies, a population that comprises the vast majority of people in jail awaiting trial.

The felony case, a class action, was filed on behalf of three men who had been charged with nonviolent felony offenses, including driving under the influence and drug possession. The men were assigned bail amounts between $15,000 and $30,000. None of them could pay, and two of them remain detained since being brought into custody in mid-January. (The other made bail after about two weeks in jail.) Like the misdemeanor case, lawyers for the plaintiffs are arguing that such a bail system discriminates against poor inmates who are otherwise low risk.

But if the misdemeanor case was a big deal, the case currently in front of the court will be a game-changer. As of March 2016, misdemeanor defendants comprise only about 8 percent of the county jail’s pretrial population—felony defendants, meanwhile, account for the rest. In fact, 77 percent of the entire county jail population, or approximately 6,000 people, at any given time are felony defendants awaiting trial, most of them for nonviolent offenses. And like people charged with misdemeanors, most of the defendants in jail for felony charges are stuck there because they can’t afford a bond. Although there are no national figures available on how many people are in jail because they can’t pay, data from the Prison Policy Initiative says that every day, 465,000 people are held in jail pretrial, and the organization estimates that hundreds of thousands of these people are there because they can’t afford bail.

If the district court sides with Karakatsanis and his clients, Harris County would be one of the largest in the country to severely limit the use of cash bail. The parties will be negotiating a settlement over the next several weeks, and Manne said he’s optimistic those talks will result in a similar outcome as the misdemeanor suit.

read more at https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/03/harris-countys-new-progressive-judges-are-upending-the-bail-system/
March 11, 2019

My friend Jana came to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia in the sixties to escape the Communist regime

She's now eighty-four and she's worked hard five days a week for the same company (a local convenience store) for twenty-nine years. In that twenty-nine years she has gone to work over seven thousand five hundred times and she has gotten one raise in pay. This is our American economic system in all it's glory. It didn't break down simply because we currently have the worst Republican administration in recent history or because they demonize brown people. It didn't break down because of the Bush/Cheney attempts to remake the world as a safe place for Exxon. It began breaking down more than fifty years ago and has followed a steep trend of consolidation of wealth among the few. It is the result of a laissez-faire attitude toward corporations and has been enabled both by Republicans and non-Republicans. Put your sacred cows back in the barn and get on the wave, or get out of the pool. The future will be a lot browner and a lot less willing to accept the status quo or to be placated simply by putting a kinder gentler face on corporate predation. You're seeing this in the new vocal House Democratic Representatives that many here seem bent on trashing at every opportunity. Remember who the real bad guys are.

Peace out...

March 4, 2019

The Labor Movement is Alive and Well - in Mexico

Strike Wave Wins Raises for Mexican Factory Workers

Mexican maquiladora workers in 70 factories have won big wage increases and bonuses in a strike wave that began in January.

The strikes in the industrial city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the border with Brownsville, Texas, have primarily hit auto parts factories, where tens of thousands of workers make goods for General Motors and other car manufacturers.

An initiative by Mexico’s new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sparked the rebellion. During his December inauguration he announced a 100 percent increase in the federal minimum wage in the northern border zone, from 88 pesos ($4.50) to 176 pesos ($9) per day.

But most maquiladora workers in Matamoros were already earning between 155 and 176 pesos ($8.60 and $9), so the raise would have had little impact—were it not for a provision in the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the biggest union in the sector.

That provision, aimed at preserving the purchasing power of workers, says that any increase in the federal minimum wage must be applied to the entire pay scale via a proportional daily wage increase and an annual bonus.

However, when the Union of Laborers and Industrial Workers of the Maquiladora Industry (SJOIIM) started annual negotiations on its collective agreements at 48 factories in December, the maquiladora employers all refused to implement the increase.

Instead of bargaining individually with each factory, SJOIIM union delegates from the 48 factories agreed to join forces and push for direct negotiations with the local government and the association of maquiladora employers.

These were wildcat strikes—Villafuerte refused to sanction them, arguing that since the workers had not gone through the proper legal channels, the strikes would expose them to replacement by scabs and repression by police. Mexican labor law requires at least six days’ notice of a strike.

Finally on January 25, due to escalating pressure from the grassroots movement, the SJOIIM officially declared strikes in all 48 factories. Unlike in the U.S., in Mexico, an official strike declaration means a workplace cannot be opened, and police cannot intervene. Still, there were several attempts by the companies and state police to illegally break the strike. And on the morning of January 28, Villafuerte himself showed up at one of the factories on strike, saying he had received a call from a senator from the MORENA party—the center-left party which now controls the presidency and Mexico’s Congress—calling on him to immediately end the strike. With the help of independent labor lawyer Susana Prieto Terrazas, workers were able to block Villafuerte’s effort to end the strike.

Villafuerte’s initial indecision, combined with his controversial attempt to break the strike, exacerbated tensions between the rank-and-file movement and official union leadership.

Finally, on February 10, Villafuerte announced the end of the strike, with favorable agreements secured for all 48 factories, including the 20 percent wage increase and 32,000 peso annual bonus. The union also won a commitment from companies to avoid reprisals and layoffs for six months, though a number of employers have already ignored it.

more at https://truthout.org/articles/strike-wave-wins-raises-for-mexican-factory-workers/
March 2, 2019

When Republicans cry socialism respond with this...and be proud to be a Dem

Listen to the full lyrics and not the white-washed version people...

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
March 1, 2019

Insurance Stocks Plunge as Medicare for All Bill Unveiled With Major Support

Support for Medicare for All is rapidly gaining momentum in Congress — and insurance investors are starting to get nervous.

Health insurance stocks tanked on Wednesday as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) introduced comprehensive Medicare for All legislation with the backing of more than 100 House Democrats and major progressive organizations, including America’s largest nurses’ union and national consumer advocacy groups.

“The S&P 500 Managed Health Care Index plunged as much as 4.9 percent, the most since Dec. 6, led by UnitedHealth Group Inc., Humana Inc., and WellCare Health Plans Inc.,” Bloomberg reported after Jayapal unveiled her bill during an event on Capitol Hill. “Insurers UnitedHealth and Cigna Corp, which also own the country’s largest pharmacy benefit managers, were both down about four percent.”

more at https://truthout.org/articles/insurance-stocks-plunge-as-medicare-for-all-bill-unveiled-with-major-support/

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Member since: Wed Oct 26, 2016, 05:18 PM
Number of posts: 7,627

About pecosbob

Don't take what I say too seriously...I'm a dumb-ass.
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