Democrat Politics

‘As an immigrant and a cook, I’m so humbled’: Chef makes TIME magazine cover during pandemic work

Impeached president Donald Trump would have preferred to push the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship back out to sea to never be seen again rather than dock it in California and deal with it responsibly and humanely the way a competent leader would. Chef José Andrés, on the other hand, was catching a 6:30 AM flight from New Jersey to San Francisco straight to the ship, he revealed in a must-read TIME magazine profile, where he’s deservedly on the cover.

“Andrés’ rapidly expanding charity, World Central Kitchen, is as prepared as anyone for this moment of unprecedented global crisis,” TIME reported. “The nonprofit stands up field kitchens to feed thousands of people fresh, nourishing, often hot meals as soon as possible at the scene of a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or flood”—and now, while Trump intentionally fumbles another yet disaster, a pandemic.

TIME said that after Andrés landed and visited World Central Kitchen’s operation at the University of San Francisco, he that night “huddled with leaders of an Oakland-based company, Revolution Foods, who have contracts to cook and deliver school lunches: they’ve continued operating during the COVID-19 emergency. Andrés urged the company’s CEO and head chef to isolate cooks so they steer clear of infection. He coached them on forging partnerships: with restaurants ordered shuttered, Andrés noted, many cooks will soon be out of work and itching to help.”

“’My friends,’ Andrés told his staff, ‘maybe this is why World Central Kitchen was created,’” TIME continued. “It was during Hurricane Maria that Andrés learned to cut through government bureaucracy to fill a leadership vacuum and feed the masses. From a niche nonprofit supporting sustainable-food and clean-cooking initiatives in underdeveloped countries like Haiti, World Central Kitchen has become the world’s most prominent first responder for food.”

It’s an organization that operates with both heart and efficiency. I got a chance to volunteer for a few hours at the University of San Francisco kitchen, where volunteers and organization staff worked side by side to box up meals (and I left with a great hand-washing technique I use every day since San Francisco has gone into sheltering-in-place mode, thanks to World Central Kitchen). Folks in fact were so eager to help, that a staffer said someone had driven up from southern California to volunteer.

As an immigrant and a cook, IâÂ�Â�m so humbled @TIME shared the story of one more person trying to help…but I share the honor with the millions around the world feeding humanity especially in these uncertain times. Not I the Person, but WE the PEOPLE @WCKitchen we will be there! https://t.co/7h34TIF6DD— JosÃ�© AndrÃ�©s (@chefjoseandres) March 26, 2020

In the days since the Grand Princess, the coronavirus outbreak has become a pandemic, with a record number of Americans filing for unemployment as restaurant businesses all across the U.S. have been affected, some going into to-go mode only, many others closed entirely. Andrés’ D.C.-area restaurants were among them, but rather than letting them stay dark, he turned a number of them into community kitchens where folks can pick up to-go meals to have at home. And, of course, he’s paid his workers during this closure.

“In the absence of action from the administration, Chef José Andrés once again is taking charge, caring for people in need and unifying the nation,” Pili Tobar of immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice said, and doing it while lifting up the working of immigrants, “who continue to harvest, serve, and shelve food so we can eat,” Tobar said. For them—and for him—we are grateful.

Read the entire TIME profile on José Andrés here.

Read More

Voting Rights Roundup: Congress’ new stimulus law doesn’t do enough to protect voting in November

● Public Service Announcement: If you haven’t yet filled out the 2020 census, please do so by clicking here. This way, census workers won’t have to come to your door. The Census Bureau advises completing the census now even if you haven’t received your 12-digit census ID by mail.

Leading Off

● Congress: On Friday, the U.S. House followed the Senate and passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, sending it to Donald Trump, who signed it that afternoon. However, while this stimulus package is the biggest since World War II, it failed to ensure that Americans will still be able to vote safely in November. Instead, Congress is planning an indefensible month-long recess rather than pass further measures that would combat our ongoing public health and economic crises—and ensure that our democracy remains operational.

The new stimulus contains $400 million in funding for states to expand voting access, just one-tenth of the $4 billion that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had included in her proposal on Monday. Voting rights advocates have blasted the sum, which was watered down in negotiations with the Republican-held Senate, as far from sufficient.

Campaign Action

​Moreover, this compromise legislation doesn’t include any mandate that states expand voting access. Pelosi’s package, by contrast, would have required that states offer 15 days of in-person early voting; remove any excuse requirement to vote absentee by mail; mail every registered voter a ballot in case of an emergency like the current one; and allowed voters to register both online and on the same day they cast a ballot. Without these policies, countless Americans may be unable to vote without putting their health at risk.

Election experts have widely recommended that Congress use its authority to immediately require and fund the switch to extensive voting by mail (at least in federal elections) as a way to guarantee that elections still go forward and are conducted in a manner that minimizes potential exposure to the virus among voters and election workers. However, it will take time, effort, and organization to ensure that states can effectively implement such policies, and related measures will be necessary to ensure mail voting doesn’t disenfranchise anyone. This is why Congress must act as soon as possible.

Congressional Republicans, who’ve long been hostile to voting rights, strongly opposed provisions to make it easier to vote. Democrats can still try to reach a future compromise by agreeing to make these provisions temporary emergency measures rather than, as Pelosi envisioned, enshrining them into law permanently. By doing so, Democrats can demonstrate to the public that they are acting in good faith and not taking advantage of a crisis for alleged partisan gain.

Furthermore, because Republican-leaning states are least likely to make it easy to vote by mail as shown on the map at the top of this post (see here for a larger version), and because the GOP’s elderly voter base is most at risk of serious illness, it’s in Republicans’ own interest to ensure that voters have alternatives to in-person voting this year. Indeed, even Republicans in red states such as Ohio, Indiana, and Montana have called for a switch to mail voting.

Regardless, Democrats must make these voting provisions a red line that cannot be crossed when it comes to supporting any future stimulus package. With the economy in free fall and Trump’s re-election chances dropping along with it, Republicans realize that it’s in their immediate partisan interest to stabilize our economic situation. Because of that, Democrats hold tremendous leverage.

Democrats must therefore hold the line and demand that any further stimulus measures include these voting provisions to ensure our elections can go on. Donald Trump lacks the power to postpone the November elections, but they could become a catastrophe if millions of voters are unable to vote. As Congress fights to resolve our public health and economic crises, it must also act to avert a constitutional crisis.

Election Changes

The following states have recently moved their primaries for various positions from the presidency down to local office:

Delaware: from April 28 to June 2 (presidential) and from May 12 to June 16 (school board)
Massachusetts: from March 31 to May 19 and June 2 (special elections)
Ohio: from March 17/June 2 to April 28 (presidential and downballot)
Pennsylvania: from April 28 to June 2 (presidential and downballot)
Puerto Rico: from March 29 to April 26 (Democratic presidential)
Rhode Island: from April 28 to June 2 (presidential)

You can stay on top of all changes to statewide primary dates by bookmarking our 2020 calendar.

● Alaska: Alaska’s Republican-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would allow Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer to order that the state’s Aug. 18 downballot primaries be conducted entirely by mail. (The lieutenant governor is Alaska’s chief election official.) However, Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats to require that the state provide dropboxes where voters can return their ballots, an option that is very popular in states that have adopted universal voting by mail, in part because it obviates the need for a postage stamp and avoids the risk of delayed mail return service.

The bill now goes to the state House, which is controlled by a Democratic-led coalition that includes Republicans and independents. The Alaska Daily News says that Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is “expected” to sign the measure “speedily” if both chambers pass it.

Alaska Democrats have also canceled in-person voting for their April 4 presidential primary and will instead extend the deadline by which absentee ballots must be received to April 10 (previously, ballots had to be postmarked by March 24). Ballots have already been mailed to 71,000 voters, but voters can also download a ballot from the party’s website.

● Arkansas: Officials in Arkansas have announced that they will not postpone the state’s March 31 runoffs, making it the only state in the nation still set to conduct primary elections in the month of March. While no congressional or statewide elections will host runoffs, 12 counties that make up about 30% of the state’s population will do so for local races. Administrators say they have reduced the number of polling locations and are encouraging voters to cast ballots absentee. While Arkansas normally requires an excuse to vote absentee, the state’s Board of Election Commissioners has said all voters may request absentee ballots for the runoffs due to the coronavirus.

Separately, the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit on Friday seeking to count ballots that are postmarked by Election Day so long as they are received no more than 10 days later; currently, the state disqualifies all ballots not received by Election Day. The plaintiffs argue that the current deadline illegally discriminates against black voters.

● California: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered that all voters be sent mail-in ballots for the May 12 special election taking place in California’s 25th Congressional District. A small number of in-person polling sites will remain open to assist voters who need help in casting ballots.

● Delaware: Democratic Gov. John Carney has issued an order allowing all voters in the June primary to request an absentee ballot (Delaware is one of 17 states that requires an excuse to vote absentee).

● Georgia: Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says his office will send absentee ballot application forms to all active Georgia voters for the state’s May 19 presidential and downballot primary, a plan that officials had previously floated. Voters will still need to return the forms (which are not postage-paid) in order to receive a ballot.

● Hawaii: Hawaii Democrats have canceled the in-person portion of their April 4 presidential primary, which was set to be conducted mostly by mail to begin with. To compensate, the party will mail out a third round of ballots to voters.

● Idaho: Republican Secretary of State Lawrence Denney’s office has announced that voters may now request absentee mail ballots online after Democrats had called on the state to give voters this option as an alternative to mailing in their requests.

● Indiana: Indiana’s bipartisan Election Commission has unanimously waived the state’s requirement that voters who wish to vote absentee in June’s presidential and downballot primaries provide an excuse in order to do so.

● Iowa: Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate is allowing absentee voting for Iowa’s June 2 downballot primaries to begin on April 23, 11 days earlier than the statutory May 4 start date. Before the passage of a voter ID bill in 2017, this 40-day absentee period was the law in Iowa. Pate also postponed three elections for local office until July 7.

● Maryland: Maryland’s Board of Elections is recommending to GOP Gov. Larry Hogan that the state’s June 2 presidential and downballot primaries be conducted entirely by mail, with all voters receiving a mail-in ballot and in-person voting completely eliminated. That last provision could result in a lawsuit, because federal law requires states to make voting accessible for people with disabilities, and not all voters are able to cast ballots by mail.

In fact, in the board’s discussion of the April 28 special election in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, which will be conducted by mail, one board official even noted that state law requires election administrators to offer in-person voting to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, according to the board’s website, there will be no in-person voting for the special election.

● Massachusetts: Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a bill that gives towns the ability to reschedule any local election that was set to take place by May 30 to as late as June 30. The measure also allows all voters to request an absentee mail ballot for these elections (Massachusetts normally requires an excuse to vote absentee).

● Michigan: Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says that she will send postage-paid absentee ballot applications to all voters able to participate in Michigan’s May 5 local elections. Voters will still need to return the applications in order to receive a ballot, but they can also check a box that allows them to permanently receive an absentee ballot application in all future elections. Benson also says that her office will help local governments ensure that postage-paid return envelopes are included with any ballots.

● Minnesota: Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon says that Minnesota is considering the possibility of conducting all voting by mail for its “2020 statewide elections,” which presumably would include both the state’s Aug. 11 downballot primaries and the November general election. As an alternative, Simon says officials may encourage voters to cast absentee ballots, a method that almost a quarter of the state used in 2018.

● Missouri: Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says that the possibility of relaxing Missouri’s excuse requirement to vote absentee by mail is “on the table,” though he indicated that such a change would require action by the GOP legislature. Ashcroft also sounded largely opposed to the idea of holding elections entirely by mail.

● Montana: Following requests from officials in both parties, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock has told county election officials that they may conduct the state’s June 2 presidential and downballot primaries almost entirely by mail. Voters would be sent ballots with postage-paid return envelopes, and they’d also be able to vote in person during the state’s early voting period, which runs for 30 days leading up the primary.

● Nebraska: Republican Secretary of State Bob Evnen now says that all Nebraska voters will be sent an absentee ballot application ahead of the state’s May 12 presidential and downballot primaries; previously, only some counties were planning to do so.

● Nevada: Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and local election officials from all 17 Nevada counties have announced plans to conduct the state’s June 9 downballot primaries almost entirely by mail. Every active registered voter will be sent a postage-paid absentee ballot that they can return by mail or at an in-person polling site, of which each county will have at least one. Importantly, these voters will not have to request a ballot.

Ballots must be postmarked or turned in by Election Day, though they will still count as long as they are received up to seven days later. Officials will also contact any voter whose ballot has an issue (such as a missing signature), and voters will have until the seventh day after the election to correct any problems. Cegavske’s press release wisely cautions that, under this system, final election results will not be known until well after election night, though this is a point that officials across the country will have to emphasize loudly and repeatedly as mail voting becomes more widespread.

One potential issue with Cegavske’s plan, though, is that registered voters who are listed as “inactive” on the voter rolls will not be sent ballots. However, as voting expert Michael McDonald notes, these voters are still eligible to vote, and every election, many do. While they can still request absentee ballots on their own, they now face an obstacle that active voters will not. Approximately 14% of Nevada’s 1.8 million registered voters are on inactive status.

● New Mexico: Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham reportedly plans to call a special session of the legislature (which is run by Democrats) to address emergency responses to the coronavirus, including the possibility of moving to all-mail elections this year. Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says that she and other election officials are also looking into the matter, though she says she believes it would take an act of the legislature to switch to a fully vote-by-mail system.

● New York: Democratic Attorney General Tish James has asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, to issue an executive order mandating that all New Yorkers be sent mail-in ballots so that they can vote from home in New York’s April 28 presidential primary. A special election for the state’s vacant 27th Congressional District is also set for that date.

Democratic Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz has also introduced a bill that would allow all voters to request an absentee ballot due to the coronavirus, since New York still requires an excuse to vote absentee and can’t outright repeal that requirement before 2022. Cuomo has said he’s looking into whether he can expand absentee access under his own authority, or whether legislative action is required.

Meanwhile, Democratic state Sen. Jen Metzger has introduced a bill that would enable universal mail voting amid public health crises. Were the bill to become law, every voter would be sent a ballot for the state’s June 23 downballot primaries.

● North Carolina: North Carolina’s Board of Elections has asked Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the Republican-run legislature to make a number of changes that would make absentee voting easier. The board’s recommendations include:

allowing voters to request absentee ballots online, or to return applications via email or fax;
relaxing the state’s requirement that absentee ballots be witnessed by two people or a notary, either by reducing the requirement to one witness or eliminating it entirely;
having the state provide postage-paid return envelopes for absentee ballots; and
making Election Day in November a state holiday so that a wider part of the workforce would be able to serve as poll workers.

● North Dakota: Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has signed an executive order giving North Dakota counties the option to hold the state’s June 9 downballot primaries entirely by mail. The order directs the secretary of state to send absentee ballot applications to all voters, with postage-paid return envelopes.

Burgum’s order also allows counties to eliminate all in-person voting sites, however, which could potentially cause serious problems on Native reservations where mail service is limited. In addition, it could run afoul of federal laws requiring that voting be accessible to persons with disabilities, though the order does specify that officials must make “at least one assistive ballot marking device” available at each county’s courthouse from 40 days prior to the election through Election Day.

● Ohio: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a law that the GOP legislature unanimously passed to extend the time to vote absentee by mail in the state’s presidential and downballot primaries until April 28. There would be limited in-person voting only for people with disabilities or who lack a home address, and voters would also be able to drop off absentee ballots in person on that day, but ballots would have to be mailed by April 27 and be received by May 8 in order to count. However, voting rights groups have expressed serious reservations about the plan and say they may sue.

Under the bill, the state would send postcards to voters explaining how to request an absentee ballot application. Voters would then have to print out applications on their own, or request one be mailed to them, and then mail them in—they cannot be submitted online. They would then have to mail in their absentee ballots (though these at least would come with a postage-paid envelope).

Voting rights advocate Mike Brickner notes that there is very little time left to carry out this multi-step process, particularly because each piece of mail would be in transit for several days. In addition, printing all of these materials, including the postcards that are designed to kick off this effort, will take considerable time, especially since government offices, the postal service, and print shops “may not be operating optimally,” as Brickner observes. Local election officials are also opposed and say that a date in mid-May is more realistic.

● Rhode Island: Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed an executive order directing the state Board of Elections to conduct a “predominantly mail ballot” election, which Democratic Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea had previously advised. The state Board of Elections has also asked Raimondo to issue another order removing the requirement that voters have their absentee ballot notarized or signed by two witnesses. The board has also requested that voters be allowed to provide additional information in case officials say the signature on their ballot does not match the one on file.

● South Carolina: Election officials in South Carolina are weighing whether to implement excuse-free absentee voting and early voting, as well as moving to an all-mail election for the state’s June 9 downballot primaries. Any changes would require an executive order by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster or action by the GOP legislature.

● Virginia: Statewide organizations representing local election officials have asked Virginia’s Department of Elections to cancel in-person voting for the state’s May 5 local elections and June 9 congressional primary and instead conduct them by mail. The Department of Elections has already allowed all voters to vote absentee in May’s local elections but have yet to do so for June’s primaries. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to approve a bill by April 11 that would permanently remove the excuse requirement to vote absentee by mail, but it wouldn’t take effect until July 1.

● West Virginia: Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner says all voters will be sent an absentee ballot application with a postage-paid return envelope ahead of West Virginia’s May 12 presidential and downballot primaries. Previously, Warner effectively waived the state’s requirement that voters provide an excuse to vote absentee by allowing all voters to cite the coronavirus as their reason.

● Wisconsin: On Friday, just a week-and-a-half before Wisconsin’s April 7 elections, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers asked the Republican-run legislature to pass a bill sending every voter an absentee ballot. The proposal was immediately rejected, however: State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald angrily accused Evers of “lying directly to Wisconsinites about this even being remotely possible.”

Earlier this week, voting rights advocates brought a new lawsuit asking a federal judge to bar Wisconsin officials from enforcing a state law that requires voters to have a witness sign their absentee ballots. Meanwhile, election clerks in Wisconsin’s two largest counties, the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and Dane (home of Madison), have advised voters that they do not need to upload a copy of their ID when requesting an absentee ballot online, a move aimed at helping voters who lack the necessary technological means. Republicans filed a lawsuit with the conservative-majority state Supreme Court late on Friday to stop Dane County from doing so.

In Green Bay, city officials filed a lawsuit on Tuesday asking that a federal judge order Wisconsin officials to delay the state’s April 7 elections until June 2 and to extend its voter registration deadline to May 1, while a voter turnout group called Souls to the Polls filed a separate but similar federal lawsuit on Thursday. (The deadline for registering by mail has already passed, but voters can still register online through March 30 thanks to an earlier order by a different judge.) Green Bay has also asked that it be allowed to cancel in-person voting and mail ballots to all registered voters.

● Wyoming: Wyoming Democrats, who had previously canceled in-person voting for their April 4 presidential caucus, have now moved to an entirely vote-by-mail election. This means that voters will no longer be able to drop off ballots in person. In addition, the deadline by which ballots must be received has been extended to April 17 (previously, ballots had to be postmarked by March 20).

Election Security

● Kentucky: A committee in Kentucky’s Republican-majority state House has passed a bill to require that all votes be cast via a method that produces a voter-verifiable paper trail. However, the bill does not allocate the millions in funding needed for counties to buy new voting equipment to replace paperless voting machines they’re still using, and it would only require that they make the change whenever they decide to replace their current machines.

Ballot Access

● West Virginia: A federal district court has denied West Virginia’s motion to dismiss a Democratic-backed lawsuit arguing that the way the state determines the ordering of how candidates appear on the ballot violates the U.S. Constitution.

State law requires that the party that won the most votes in the last presidential election in the state be listed first for all partisan offices. Because of the state’s heavily Republican lean at the presidential level, that means the GOP gets listed first in all downballot races.

The plaintiffs argue that this system violates the First and 14th Amendments because candidates listed first can enjoy a boost in support that can prove decisive in a close election, particularly in downballot races where voters have much less information about the candidates than they do for the top of the ticket. Thanks to the court’s ruling, plaintiffs will now have the chance to have their case decided on its merits.

Voter Registration and Voting Access

● Michigan: A federal district court has denied a motion to dismiss a Democratic-supported lawsuit challenging Michigan’s procedures for rejecting mail ballots over problems with a voter’s signature supposedly not matching. The court also allowed Republican legislative leaders to intervene as defendants (plaintiffs originally named Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson as the sole defendant).

The plaintiffs contend that the ballot rejection process is arbitrary and lacks a statewide standard. Michigan law does not require officials to notify voters that their ballots have been rejected or allow them to challenge any such rejections. Similar laws have been struck down in other states in recent years.

● Utah: Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has signed into law a measure that repeals Utah’s straight-ticket voting option, which passed with the support of every Democratic legislator and most Republicans. Proponents of the repeal law, which was sponsored by a Democrat, have argued that the change would make voters more thoughtful about their choices. Nevertheless, in an era of historic partisan polarization, repealing the option is unlikely to significantly increase split-ticket voting.

Instead, academic research on the experience in North Carolina, which eliminated straight-ticket voting in 2013, found that the move increased voting lines by making it take longer for voters fill out the ballot. That in turn likely deterred some people from voting and had a disproportionate effect on black voters because they voted straight tickets more often. However, because Utah overwhelmingly votes by mail, long voting lines are far less of a concern than in other states, though the absence of the straight-ticket option could increase the rate of undervoting in races further down the ballot.

Utah’s move leaves only six states with the option to check a single box to vote for every candidate on the ballot affiliated with that particular party.

Voter Suppression

● North Carolina: On Tuesday, North Carolina’s Court of Appeals rejected Republicans’ request for all 15 judges on the court to review of a February ruling by three judges that had overturned a lower court ruling and temporarily blocked the GOP’s voter ID statute. The case is currently proceeding on the merits, with plaintiffs arguing that Republicans acted with the intent to discriminate against black voters in enacting their voter ID law. GOP legislators could appeal to the state Supreme Court, but given its 6-1 Democratic majority, a reversal appears unlikely.

Earlier this year, a federal court issued its own preliminary injunction in a separate case ahead of an upcoming trial, and a panel of three judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling on Friday to allow GOP legislative leaders to intervene as defendants.

Democratic state Attorney General Josh Stein had previously announced he would wait until after the March 3 primaries to appeal the federal ruling (Stein has a general obligation to defend state laws in most instances), so the voter ID requirement was already on hold in this month’s vote. However, this latest state-court decision means the law could remain suspended for the November general election while the case proceeds.

Felony Disenfranchisement

● Florida: Federal Judge Robert Hinkle has given Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration an ultimatum to establish a process to determine which citizens who’ve served felony sentences are unable to pay off their outstanding court fines and fees and therefore cannot remain subject to the GOP’s modern-day poll tax. That law requires the payment of such debts before people with felony convictions can regain their voting rights. Hinkle said that if the state does not act before the start of trial on April 27, he would institute the necessary measures himself.

Hinkle also said on Thursday that he would grant class certification in the case, meaning that his ruling could soon apply to the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who are unable to pay off their court debts to regain their voting rights. Previously, Hinkle had temporarily blocked the poll tax from going into effect, but that decision only applied to the 17 individuals who had brought the case against the law last year.

Read More

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: When you can’t BS your way through a crisis and are forced to deal

The infuriating lack of leadership in the Wh persists, made worse by the outright lying from Trump’s pandemic team. And no, that minor Trump approval bump is not going to get him re-elected. 

Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent/WaPo:

No, Trump is not going to suddenly become FDR

If you’re a liberal, you’ve probably noticed that President Trump’s approval has ticked up over the past few days, and you’re probably flabbergasted.

How is such a thing possible, you’re asking yourself, when he’s so self-evidently screwing up? When he spent weeks saying the virus was under control, squandering valuable time to the point that we now have more infections than any other country? When he’s constantly lying about everything and contradicting his own experts in between Twitter fights and attacks on other public officials?

It defies any reasonable logic. But it doesn’t really defy political logic. This crisis is very likely not going to be enough to fundamentally change the dynamics of Trump’s uniquely polarizing presidency, and what we’re seeing now doesn’t present any reason for thinking otherwise….

In response to our questions, the Biden campaign told us its view is that, if anything, the rallying-around-Trump effect is small relative to that in other countries; that we’re in early days of the current crisis; that Trump’s failures have put us in extreme peril; and that it’s imperative to keep making an aggressive case against those failures, particularly as their consequences keep mounting.

No rally-round-the-flag effect here. https://t.co/GQZGmhe50w pic.twitter.com/MxB4RazYO4— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) March 27, 2020

Yeah this seems important and suggests that a lot of Trump’s approval bounce comes from Dems and indies who are trying to express sympathy at a time of national crisis but have no intention of voting for him. https://t.co/fnUhMd8wCp— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) March 28, 2020

It’s a collective sigh of relief he didn’t fire Fauci.

Here’s Rachel Bitecofer, political scientist:

infections, we still not able to do widespread testing, so we aren’t sure if our cool spots are actually cool spots or just spots being under tested. It is STILL not the case that anyone can get a test and many who have taken a test are waiting 10 days or more for results.— Rachel “The Doc” Bitecofer ðÂ�Â�Â�ðÂ�Â�­ðÂ�Â�Â� (@RachelBitecofer) March 27, 2020

My impression is that the worst political takes come from those who either ignore or downplay the impact of the pandemic on the country. and even after the dire stories from italy and NYC, there are still people in that camp. Like Debbie Birx.

Dr. Birx on ventilators in New York: “To wake up this morning and look at people talking about creating DNR situations, Do-Not-Resuscitate situations for patients — there is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion.” pic.twitter.com/I3tcEMIPZe— CSPAN (@cspan) March 26, 2020

She’s lying, Mike DeWine is not:

If you don’t believe that we could see 10,000 new cases a day — We’ve tried to describe what the science tells us. Hospitals looking at the modeling and say that this is coming. It’s here.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 27, 2020

See the NYC stories:

NY Times: 13 Deaths in a Day: An ‘Apocalyptic’ Coronavirus Surge at an N.Y.C. Hospital

NY Post: Worker at NYC hospital where nurses wear trash bags as protection dies from coronavirus

You have to be deliberately dense to not understand that the concern is when cases peak in 2-3 weeks, not today.

Credibility crushed. Next! https://t.co/OLBGxe4DSN— Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) March 27, 2020

Undeterred by confirmed COVID cases in the US House and Senate, Downing Street, the British royal family, the Canadian first family, and the Brazilian, Iranian, Italian and French cabinets, the White House invited a dozen people into the Oval Office (many 70+) for a bill signing— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) March 27, 2020

Marc Lipsitch, epidemiologist, after Dr Birx criticized his modeling:

So the scenario Dr. Birx is “assuring” us about is one in which we somehow escape Italy’s problem of overloaded healthcare system despite the fact that social distancing is not really happening in large parts of the US.

That is unlikely. Then the rosy scenario assumes we get to minimal numbers of cases everywhere, develop and maintain testing and tracing capacity, execute well on it, don’t miss imported cases that spark new chains of transmission, and somehow maintain this delicate balance… 

For the 12-18 months (best case under current models) till a vaccine. I desperately hope she is right, because much suffering will be avoided. But reassurance that this is likely, or even plausible, with the disorganized track record of the US response, is false reassurance. 

Again, the Trump sections of these briefings are thoroughly dishonest. Can’t even keep up today.— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 27, 2020

You meant to say because of one characteristically heedless fellow Republican member of Congress, didnâÂ�Â�t you Rep. King? https://t.co/kDkGlClU7b— Clyde Haberman (@ClydeHaberman) March 27, 2020

Frank Figliuzzi/NBC on a leadership failure:

As coronavirus deaths mount, Trump’s handling of intelligence warnings looks worse and worse

I thought Trump’s willful blindness might manifest itself in a failure to heed signs of a terrorist strike or a state-sponsored cyberattack. Instead, the missed warnings pointed to a pandemic

Everything Trump does at this point is a day late and a dollar short. Yes, the emergency bill was signed and yes, the Defense Production Act was invoked. This is playing catch-up after deliberate stalling.

Almost nothing about what Joe Biden is doing for the next few weeks is gonna matter much for November. And almost everything about what Donald Trump is doing is going to matter a lot.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) March 27, 2020

Trump only getting 40% in ballot test v Biden in same @FoxNews poll w/higher approval on #coronavirus suggests some of that gain is not personal but generic: desire for country to succeed. Gaps striking: 37% of non-white approve on virus but just 18% back v. Biden; (more)— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) March 27, 2020

Jonathan Bernstein/Bloomberg:

Maybe Trump Doesn’t Care About Getting Re-Elected

Why else would he be downplaying hospitals’ need for supplies at a time like this?

Look: I’ve tried to be slow to criticize the substance of the administration’s reaction to the unfolding disaster. I’ve pointed out more than once that these situations are difficult, that experts themselves often disagree on the correct steps to take, and that perfection is an unfair standard by which to judge any president. I could add that while the U.S. has been hard hit, it’s far from the only nation where the coronavirus has spread. I’ve been tough on Trump mainly for his crisis communications, which are easier to judge on face value than something like getting tests into the field, and on the bureaucratic structure of his response.

But every time he does something like this, it lends support to the idea that he and his closest aides are butchering the response out of sheer incompetence, even as the few qualified experts involved are desperately trying to drag them back on course.

Nate Silver/FiveThirtyEight:

The Coronavirus Isn’t Just A Blue State Problem

Detected cases are higher in blue states, but growing faster in red states.

But blue states are hardly alone in what is becoming a nationwide epidemic. Jefferson Parish, Louisiana — which went for Trump by 15 percentage points in 2016 — has a death rate about equal to that of Manhattan. And as terrifying as the hospital situation is in New York City, hospital capacity is also under strain in states such as Michigan and Georgia.

Overall, although the number of detected cases is higher in blue states, the number is increasing at a more rapid rate in red states.1 Moreover, blue states have conducted more tests per capita than red states, so — given that the large majority of coronavirus cases remain undetected — the lower rate of cases in red states may partially be an artifact of less testing.

Here is the data as of late Thursday afternoon, with states sorted by the increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases between Monday (March 23) and Thursday (March 26).bottlenecks in reporting results can sometimes result in irregularities in any one day’s numbers. But a three-day timespan has proven to be a reasonably good compromise as I’ve looked at the data in different states and countries.
 All data is taken from the invaluable COVID Tracking Project.

We don’t have to have the ability to test everyone in the country to come out of sheltering in place. We do need to be able to test many people who don’t have symptoms, though, and at the moment we seem to be focusing all our testing on the sick and high risk.— Aaron E. Carroll (@aaronecarroll) March 26, 2020

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

Four factors will determine Trump’s fate

If you think the coronavirus is a passing blip in our national life, you will likely expect Trump to come through this unscathed and still get credit for what was a good economy before disaster struck. If, however, you take seriously the economic and health modeling showing the enormous toll that the virus will take on us, do not expect voters to reward Trump with reelection. The buck does actually stop with him

This chyron on @CNN right now is very important for people to see and understand. pic.twitter.com/QbVyPDEgsL— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) March 27, 2020

This is the chart I’ve wanted to see: growth in COVID cases in a metro by prevalence, not time. If you’ll indulge me, let me explain whyhttps://t.co/DQmHlB9NFq pic.twitter.com/mNflOrYhrV— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) March 27, 2020

Read More

The next coronavirus bailout has to be for the people

Congress is definitely not done with coronavirus response. Everyone but Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans recognizes that, and that includes House Democratic leadership. Right now, they’re talking at least two more phases of stimulus to cover the urgent needs of actual people left out while the Senate was taking care of big business. For a little bit of happy news on that front, the cruise lines Donald Trump wanted to bail out aren’t getting bailed out, not as long as they’re sailing under the flags of other countries to avoid U.S. taxes, and health and safety laws and regulations. So there’s that.

What still has to be done, however, is a lot. On Wednesday, Pelosi said “This is not going to be the last bill.” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the Democratic caucus that there will be not just one, but two more response bills. Among the top issues for House Democrats: funding for state implementation of national vote-by-mail, as much as $4 billion; emergency health and safety regulations for first-responders and medical workers; the full family and medical leave protections they had in their original bill; shoring up pension funds.

Pelosi told reporters that she laid out the following “wish-list” for the next phase with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in addition to expanded family and medical leave and the protections for health worker and pensions:

Increasing SNAP benefits by 15 percent
More funds to state and local governments
Free coronavirus testing, doctor visits and follow-up treatment
Equitable funding for Washington, D.C., residents. “It doesn’t make any sense,” she said of the Senate’s decision to treat D.C. as a territory rather than a state, which deprives the district of at least $750 million more in emergency funding. “It wasn’t an accident. It was a decision. Let’s correct that.”

She also said “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of direct payments.” The House bill had the same amount as the Senate bill in this one-time payment, but also suspends work requirements for people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and had $1.4 billion for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance, to the Senate’s $900 million. The unemployment insurance program boosts in the two bills are basically equivalent, except for $1.36 billion in workforce training for state and local programs, compared to $360 million in the Senate bill.

The direct payments are also problematic because they won’t go to everyone. Foreign workers who still pay federal taxes, for example with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number rather than a Social Security number won’t get the reimbursement. People who don’t have bank accounts and don’t have direct deposit will have to figure out how to cash a check. Homeless people need a place to receive the checks.

This fact sheet provides a side-by-side comparison of what the House had it in its bill versus the Senate version. That’s an adequate response for where we are right now in the crisis. Two weeks, a month from now, even more is going to be necessary. Right now Republicans might be in denial about that. That’s not going to last.

Read More

Top White House advisor suggests coronavirus is the ‘consequential wrath of God’

Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries is one of the Trump administration’s faith advisers. According to the Washington Post, the evangelical Drollinger leads a weekly Bible study that includes Trump Cabinet members Ben Carson and Alex Azar. He also has some tiny-brained theological thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic. In a blog post he wrote on March 21, titled “Is God Judging America Today?” Drollinger explains that while he doesn’t believe the coronavirus is the “forsaking wrath of God,” he does believe America is “experiencing the consequential wrath of God.”

What does that mean? Well … after pulling out some lines that Drollinger believes to illuminate one’s understanding of God’s judgement, Ralph explains that “Since God is just and sin must and will be paid for, wrath—the righteousness of God revealed against sin—is an inevitable consequence.” Does that make sense? It shouldn’t because, like a serpent feasting on its tail, it’s a nothing-burger of a thought. Instead, Drollinger explains that these are the forms that God’s “wrath” comes in.

1. Eternal Wrath:

Hell

2. Eschatological Wrath:

The Day of the Lord

3. Cataclysmic Wrath:

The Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah

4. Forsaking Wrath:

Removing Restraint

5. Consequential Wrath:

Sowing & Reaping

It’s in the center because it comes out more Bible-y like that! You will notice that number 5 is the “consequential wrath” Drollinger spoke of before. Reap what you sow, sow what you reap, sowing and reaping, reaping and sowing.

Just in case you want to begin to understand what our “reaping and sowing” might be, you need not go very much further with Drollinger as he breaks down how “environmentalism” is really “man” going against his creator, atheists and those who don’t believe in the unerring literal reading of the bible to be “suppressing the truth.” And what evangelical breakdown would be complete without an attack on the LGBTQ community? In a thin section he calls “A Sensation Toward Homosexuality,” Drollinger explains that this is exactly what it sounds like.

Finally, Drollinger, who has been giving all of the reasons why this is basically a classic old-school homophobic “God’s wrath” tome, explains that because he believes this isn’t the eschatological, “cataclysmic,” wrath of God, we will have a “human cure for the coronavirus.” You see what he did here? He is basically reiterating the same bullshit that evangelicals have sold to their flocks for a couple hundred years now. But, and this is a very important distinction, he’s repackaging it to explain why the end of the world isn’t actually coming—I mean he does have the ear of the president of the United States and he wouldn’t want the world to end just yet, would he?

Conmen are conmen are conmen. Whether they believe all of their own BS or none of it, they rely on fear and hatred of others while portending to see the future and then lying when they’re dead wrong.

Read More

Senate coronavirus stimulus calls for union neutrality pledge from many companies getting loans

This is … startling, and potentially a big deal. Many companies asking for loans under the Senate’s coronavirus stimulus package would have to pledge neutrality if their workers wanted to organize a union, Bloomberg Law’s Jaclyn Diaz reports.

A provision requiring companies to “make a good-faith certification that the recipient will remain neutral in any union organizing effort for the term of the loan” would apply to businesses employing between 500 and 10,000 workers.

That’s not the only worker-friendly provision in the bill, which requires companies to keep 90% of their workforce through September and prohibits them from offshoring jobs not only during the term of the loan but for two years after.

The neutrality provision “can have an impact on a fair number of organizing campaigns,” former National Labor Relations Board chair Wilma Liebman told Diaz.

There are a lot of questions: What will enforcement look like? What does “neutral” mean for these purposes? (It could mean anything from banning certain kinds of anti-union campaign to, at the dream-come-true end, allowing workers to unionize through majority sign-up rather than requiring a two-step process with workers signing union cards and then also having to participate in an election.) And who got this provision into the bill? And did Senate Republicans not even notice?

Read More

Exclusive interview: Detained immigrant says ‘ICE is not doing anything’ about the coronavirus

For weeks, detained people and immigrants’ rights advocates have warned of the deadly catastrophe that would unfold in detention centers nationwide if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continued to detain people as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States. Detained families told the news media they feared for their lives. Detained people in Louisiana and Texas protested the lack of soap and other conditions that made them ripe for contracting COVID-19, only to be met with pepper spray from ICE. In New Jersey, detained people launched a hunger strike for soap. Containing the virus in detention centers is “physically impossible,” advocates warned, and continuing immigration enforcement “will put ever-more people’s lives in danger.”

Those fears have now been realized.

On Mar. 24, ICE confirmed a person detained in New Jersey had tested positive for COVID-19. Advocates say this is likely just the beginning as the virus is poised to spread through detention centers around the country. According to a detained person in Colorado who spoke to Prism, ICE has wholly failed to prepare or protect detained immigrants. 

Sza Sza (not pictured) is not using her full name for safety reasons. She is a transgender asylum-seeker from Jamaica currently detained at the Aurora Detention Center in Colorado, where 10 people were placed in quarantine for possible exposure to the coronavirus and one employee has tested positive for the illness.

Sza Sza first came to the U.S. on a visa in 1997 to escape persecution because of her gender identity. She overstayed her visa and was funneled into the criminal justice system because of a marijuana charge. She was in legal limbo for years and detained while fighting her case, but she was eventually deported. Sza Sza attempted to return to the U.S. in 2018 to request asylum, but she was swiftly detained and has remained in federal immigration custody ever since. In total, she has spent seven years of her life here behind bars—incarcerated in the criminal justice system and detained in federal immigration custody.

Since 2018, she has been detained in the “LGBTQ pod” at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, Texas’ El Paso Processing Center where she was detained with men, and now the Aurora Detention Center, where she was transferred a few months ago and is detained in isolation because of her gender identity.

Sza Sza told Prism that she is detained in an area of the Aurora Detention Center that has 24 beds, but she is the only person in her unit. She only interacts with medical staff and guards, but given that prison and detention center employees are testing positive for COVID-19, she has serious concerns about her safety and the safety of other detained people at the facility, who she alleges aren’t being given any information from ICE about the pandemic.

In a conversation with Prism Mar. 19—before the first detained person in the U.S. tested positive for COVID-19—Sza Sza told Prism what she was seeing at the Aurora Detention Center. Here she is, in her own words:

I’ve known about [the coronavirus] for a long period of time, but no information was volunteered to us about it in detention. I asked a guard what precautions they were going to take and he turned to me like he didn’t know what I was talking about. I asked the guard if we could have hand sanitizer and he said no because we would drink it. I told him we don’t even have appropriate soap; we are not given antibacterial soap. I don’t know what the soap they give us is made out of, but it’s not regular soap. If they say the soap they give us is helping, that’s an illusion.

When I told the guard all of this—when I said the soap was worthless and pointless against the virus—he said that soap and water were the best disinfectants. I just want something antibacterial so we don’t get sick. Before I spoke up, they hadn’t given us any demonstration on how to even wash our hands properly.

When nothing happened [after I spoke to the] guard, I took my grievance to the captain. They told me [the week of Mar. 9] they don’t have any [coronavirus] cases here [at the Aurora Detention Center]. Later that day after I put in my grievance, I was coming back from pro-bono [legal services] and I saw a girl getting quarantined with my own eyes. I know she’s in quarantine because she was placed by herself and every time medical staff went into the cell they had masks and gloves on. Before she was quarantined, I know that girl was in another unit with many other people.

That same evening, all of a sudden the guards started wearing masks and gloves. I saw them wiping the door handles they touch and using Clorox for their own safety, but what are they doing for us? Nothing. The next day when I saw the guard again, the one who ignored [my concerns] and told me to use soap and water, he was wearing a mask. I said, ‘What are you wearing a mask for, you don’t have any soap and water? That’s what you told me yesterday.’ After that girl was quarantined they finally did a hand-washing demonstration, but they still haven’t given us proper soap.

They think I’m just difficult, but I know something is wrong. I don’t know why they’re not telling us information we need to know. I’m worried it’s too late. ICE capitalizes on what we don’t know. How do you protect yourself against something you don’t understand? They’re counting on us not knowing and submitting to them because we’re scared. But I’m outspoken and I have confrontations with ICE. I don’t think they’re taking proper precautions. It seems they’re not even concerned for themselves—why would they be concerned for us?

People who are detained are aware of the outbreak. It’s taking a psychological effect. They’re scared, but I don’t think they understand the full extent of it around the world and what is happening outside these walls and what will soon happen inside. It’s hard to understand the magnitude, especially because it’s not being addressed here. This virus is killing so many people. Of course I’m worried about how many people it will kill in here.

People from all over the world are in here. Even before they were detained, they were in crowded spaces or crowded camps; because of [Migrant Protection Protocols] they were around other people and now we are all stuck in here under unsafe conditions. It’s my biggest concern right now because ICE lacks care and concern. My lifeline in all of this has been the news channel. I understand the magnitude of what will happen here because I watch the news. That’s why I tell other people here what’s going on.

I don’t want to just save myself. But I also can’t wait for ICE to do something. I’ve made it my responsibility to go to the commissary and try to get the proper soap I need. I have a responsibility to myself and to others to try to be healthy, but it’s cost-restrictive. I’m the one in prison, but they are basically telling me I have to figure out a way to buy soap for my own safety. They’re not taking responsibility for anything.

The likelihood there is an outbreak in here is so high—and ICE doesn’t care. All they care about is bringing more people into detention; all they care about is deporting people. They don’t see us as human; they label us as ‘aliens,’ and honestly I don’t even think it matters if we are so-called ‘illegal aliens’ or ‘legal aliens,’ they just want to get rid of us all.

They call us ‘criminals’ because it makes us sound scary. When you call us criminals, it’s meant to demonize us. Am I a criminal for smoking a blunt or getting charged for marijuana? Is someone a criminal for getting a DUI? That’s what people have to think about. Why do they call us criminals, what is a criminal according to ICE, and why doesn’t the word ‘criminal’ apply to ICE? They break the law all the time. Immigration is a criminal enterprise.

You cannot even ask [ICE] for water if you’re thirsty—how are they going to save us from the virus? Their job is to keep us in here, even if it means thousands of people are infecting each other. Their job is not based on morality. The government knew there would be an outbreak; they knew this would be a pandemic, and they didn’t prepare anything the way they should have.

People in detention need to be protected. We are human just like everybody else. We live and die just like you, and we will die just like you. We all breathe the same air; it’s not like some people breathe Republican air and some people breathe Democrat air. We all breathe the air and we all deserve the same protection, whether we’re citizens or not. [The government] is barely concerned with Americans, so why would they be concerned about immigrants? But what befalls one, befalls us all. We are seeing that now. I don’t want to die from respiratory failure, just like you.

The health care in these institutions basically doesn’t exist. If there is an outbreak in the prison, they are not equipped to handle anything. They actually send us to outside facilities if we have a serious illness. The medical staff here are not trained for serious things. The entire prison industry is not equipped. Nothing good is going to come out of this situation.

If you look at what is happening in the outside world to American citizens, what do you think will happen in here? It’s going to be a nightmare. The health care is so negative and ICE will continue doing raids, they’re going to keep doing enforcement to make sure these beds are filled.

To them, it’s not personal; they will just keep generating revenue. All of this generates money, so why would they abandon it? ICE is cold, just like the name says. I want people to know—the people ICE claims it’s protecting—that we are not a danger to the community. We are in danger in here. ICE wants us to get out of this country, but now coronavirus might get us out of here.  

What do I want people to know? I want them to know ICE is not doing anything. That’s the bottom line. ICE is doing zero to protect us; they think of us as illegal aliens and dump us in cages. Our health and safety is not their concern, even when we’re in their care. Disease, virus, whatever harms us is not their concern.

I feel like it’s my duty and my responsibility to speak out and say what’s going on. Because I have morals. I’m on the side of humanity and justice. This doesn’t have to be dealt with the way they are dealing with it, but what if it’s too late?

Tina Vasquez is Prism’s gender justice reporter. Follow her on Twitter @TheTinaVasquez.

Prism is a nonprofit affiliate of Daily Kos. Our mission is to make visible the people, places, and issues currently underrepresented in our democracy. By amplifying the voices and leadership of people closest to the problems, Prism tells the stories no one else is telling. Follow us on Twitter @ourprisms and on Facebook.

Read More

Team Trump worries that super PAC isn’t doing its job: ‘Attack, attack, attack’

Coronavirus has forced the Trump campaign to abandon its plans for an avalanche of ads attacking former vice president Joe Biden, but Team Trump wants someone running those ads, and there’s growing frustration that America First Action, the main Trump-backing super PAC, isn’t doing it.

Politico cites interviews with “more than a half-dozen White House aides, campaign officials and other Trump allies,” but of course the actual senior Trump aides are unnamed. Other Republican attack specialists were willing to go on the record, though: “With attacks coming from all over, the simple question is: Where the hell is the president’s air cover?” asked former Swift Boat strategist Chris LaCivita. 

LaCivita offered a measure for assessing America First Action’s success or failure: “There are only three words that exist in a super PAC’s role,” he told Politico, “and that’s attack, attack, attack.” 

Trump may have to rise above the political fray—at least by Trumpian standards. That’s why he has a super PAC, another Republican operative suggested, saying: “In the midst of the current pandemic crisis, so that the president can focus on leading the nation and projecting an upbeat message of unity, it seems like the ideal time for his super PAC to be handling political messaging, and that messaging should be defining Joe Biden right now.”

Both America First Action and the Trump campaign have sent cease and desist letters to TV stations insisting they not run an ad by Democratic super PAC Priorities USA Action because it’s “false, misleading, and deceptive.” The ad consists almost entirely of Trump’s own words about coronavirus.

Trump refused to take the threat of the coronavirus seriously, now he wonâÂ�Â�t take responsibility as his administration has been totally unprepared for this crisis. pic.twitter.com/Jdh1GY9HHS— Priorities USA (@prioritiesUSA) March 23, 2020

Read More

‘Termination of DACA during this national emergency would be catastrophic,’ recipients tell SCOTUS

A group of young immigrants who sued the Trump administration over its rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have filed an urgent legal brief with the Supreme Court asking the justices to take the current coronavirus public health crisis into account in their decision, which is expected by this June. The letter, filed on Friday, cites the tens of thousands of DACA recipients who work as medical care professionals—and who the Trump administration is cruelly and despicably seeking to deport as this pandemic is already wreaking havoc on our health care system. “Termination of DACA during this national emergency would be catastrophic,” the plaintiffs say.

“Healthcare providers on the frontlines of our nation’s fight against COVID-19 rely significantly upon DACA recipients to perform essential work,” the letter continues. “Approximately 27,000 DACA recipients are healthcare workers—including nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physician assistants, home health aides, technicians, and other staff—and nearly 200 are medical students, residents, and physicians.” It’s inexplicable that the administration would seek to deport them when, as Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson writes, medical schools are considering early graduation in order to send more medical care professionals out to save lives.

It’s not just doctors who are at risk of deportation should the Supreme Court issue a ruling siding with the administration either—it’s also other vital workers like first responders. “Aldo Martinez, a paramedic in Fort Myers, Fla., is one of about 27,000 young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who work in health care, many of them on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic,” The New York Times reported. “’It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation that we have going on,’ he said on Friday, halfway through a 48-hour shift.”

“As an ICU nurse, I am seeing what this COVID-19 crisis is doing to the people of this country first-hand,” registered nurse Jonathan Magdalena said in a statement released by advocacy group United We Dream. “We are working 12-hour shifts to tend to all the COVID-possible patients, often with very little protective gear. This is my dream job, and I am glad to be on the front lines of the nation’s response to this pandemic. But at a time when the country is asking retired army doctors and other offline personnel to step up to help with this emergency, I worry that any day now, the Supreme Court might decide against me on the DACA case, cutting off one more resource to deal with this threat to our country and to the entire world. There are many people with DACA working in our hospitals and health centers. We are essential workers. Let us help heal this nation.”

BREAKING: We have filed a letter to the Supreme Court in our #DACA litigation w/ @NILC @WiracYLS asking the Justice not to rule without considering the real-world consequences of the #COVID19 pandemic. /1 Full letter here: https://t.co/dBtWUYIEf1 pic.twitter.com/tMDg9aweLf— Make the Road NY ðÂ�¦Â� (@MaketheRoadNY) March 27, 2020

As our @elianadreams, plaintiff in the suit, explains, âÂ�Â�#COVID19 pandemic is devastating our communities, and DACA recipients like me frantically working to support our families and communities, all while trying to keep our loved ones safe and healthy.âÂ�Â� #HomeisHere /3— Make the Road NY ðÂ�¦Â� (@MaketheRoadNY) March 27, 2020

“At @maketheroadny I’m working daily to provide support to 1000s of our members who are being hit hardest by this country. We urge the Court to consider that deciding to take away DACA from us in this moment would be catastrophic, putting us & our families at grave risk.âÂ�Â� /END— Make the Road NY ðÂ�¦Â� (@MaketheRoadNY) March 27, 2020

United We Dream further said that “the Supreme Court has a responsibility to consider the new circumstances,” citing the closure of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices due to the pandemic, “which could delay essential renewals as DACA recipients need to go to these offices in person to have their biometrics taken” for renewal purposes. “This new unknown has caused a ripple effect that compounds anxieties around the real threat of deportations, financial instability, education, access to health care and treatment, and caretaking of their loved ones.”

Of course, DACA should stay not just because many beneficiaries will be critical to our nation’s survival and recovery, but because these are families deserving of dignity and justice—and they belong here. “The COVID-19 pandemic is devastating our communities, and immigrants like me with DACA are frantically working to support our families and communities, all while trying to keep our loved ones safe and healthy,” plaintiff Eliana Fernandez said. “At the community organization where I work, I am working each day to provide support to thousands of our members who are being hit hardest by this crisis. We urge the Court to consider that a decision to take away DACA from us at this moment would be catastrophic, putting us and our families at grave risk.”

Read More

AOC went off on the massive corporate bailout while Americans get ‘crumbs for our families’

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie has decided his opportunity to add an egregious delay to passing the much-needed coronavirus relief bill is to grandstand by demanding that legislators from all over the Untied States, who are already dealing with serious public health issues, scramble back to the House in order to give an in-person vote. Rep. Massie obviously took cues from fellow Kentucky Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, both of whom have added egregious delays to this process at different points in the crisis. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made the trip back to Washington from Queens, New York—a U.S. city dealing with the largest and most frightening outbreak of the disease in our country to date. She came back because people like Rep. Massie want to score political points by saying something about bullshit fiscal conservatism and possibly kiss Donald Trump’s ring.

But Rep. Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t having any of that. Before Democrats were able to defeat the dumb GOP stunt on the House floor and pass the stimulus bill, she used the 60 seconds she was given on the floor to absolutely slam the Republican Party’s handling of this national crisis. She slammed the lack of much-needed medical supplies and specifically raged against Republican senators who were fighting and delaying and hemming and hawing over this massive public relief bill so they could give a no-strings-attached bailout to big businesses. The same big businesses who used their last no-strings-attached bailouts to profiteer instead of creating better businesses that served the American people as a whole. 

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I represent one of the hardest hit communities in the hardest hit city in this country. Queens, New York. 13 dead, in a night, in Elmhurst hospital alone. Our community’s reality is this country’s future if we don’t do anything. Hospital workers do not have protective equipment. We don’t have the necessary ventilators.

But we have to go into this vote eyes wide open. What did the Senate majority fight for?! One of the largest corporate bailouts, with as few strings as possible, in American history! Shameful! The greed of that fight is wrong—for crumbs for our families. And the option that we have is to either let them suffer with nothing, or to allow this greed and billions of dollars, which will be leveraged in trillions of dollars, to contribute to the largest income inequality gap in our future. There should be shame about what was fought for in this bill and the choices that we have to make.

And I yield.

Amen.

Watch the 60 seconds below.

YouTube Video

Read More