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Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
Number of posts: 39,178

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Journal Archives

Pramila Jayapal is fantastic. Would love to see her in the Senate someday.

The Build Back Better agenda that progressives are fighting for isn't some fringe wish list. It's the President’s agenda, the Democratic agenda, and what we promised the American people.

Don’t just take my word for it — hear it straight from


Happy 97th birthday to President Jimmy Carter


The Best Pumpkin Beers to Drink This Fall


There are so many pumpkin beers on the shelves these days that it's difficult to figure out what’s a trick and what’s a treat. We’ve done the tough work of drinking the best pumpkin beers in America to ensure your next six-pack is full of sugar, (pumpkin) spice, and everything nice. Skip the pumpkin spice lattes and slices of pumpkin pie and opt for one of these stouts or ales instead.


British vs American vs Canadian ENGLISH Differences! (very different!)

British vs American vs Canadian ENGLISH Differences! (PART 2)

Kyrsten Sinema Is at the Center of It All. Some Arizonans Wish She Weren't.

The centrist senator is key to President Biden’s agenda in Washington. Her positions have angered some Democrats back home.


PHOENIX — Jade Duran once spent her weekends knocking on doors to campaign for Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the stubbornly centrist Democrat whose vote could seal the fate of a vast Democratic effort to remake America’s social safety net. But no more. When Ms. Sinema famously gave a thumbs down to a $15 minimum wage and refused to eliminate the filibuster to pass new voting rights laws this year, Ms. Duran, a Democrat and biomedical engineer from Phoenix, decided she was fed up. She joined dozens of liberal voters and civil rights activists in a rolling series of protests outside Ms. Sinema’s Phoenix offices, which have been taking place since the summer. Nearly 50 people have been arrested. “It really feels like she does not care about her voters,” said Ms. Duran, 33, who was arrested in July at a protest. “I will never vote for her again.”

Ms. Sinema, a onetime school social worker and Green Party-aligned activist, vaulted through the ranks of Arizona politics by running as a zealous bipartisan willing to break with her fellow Democrats. She counts John McCain, the Republican senator who died in 2018, as a hero, and has found support from independent voters and moderate suburban women in a state where Maverick is practically its own party. But now, Ms. Sinema is facing a growing political revolt at home from the voters who once counted themselves among her most devoted supporters. Many of the state’s most fervent Democrats now see her as an obstructionist whose refusal to sign on to a major social policy and climate change bill has helped imperil the party’s agenda. Little can proceed without the approval of Ms. Sinema, one of two marquee Democratic moderates in an evenly divided Senate. While she has balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag and some of the tax-raising provisions of the bill, which is opposed by all Republicans in Congress, Democrats in Washington and back home in Arizona have grown exasperated.

While the Senate Democrats’ other high-profile holdout, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, has publicly outlined his concerns with key elements of the Democratic agenda in statements to swarms of reporters, Ms. Sinema has been far more enigmatic and has largely declined to issue public comments. Mr. Biden, White House officials and Democrats have beseeched the two senators to publicly issue a price tag and key provisions of the legislation that they could accept. But there is little indication that Ms. Sinema has been willing to offer that, even privately to the administration. On Wednesday afternoon, she and a team from the White House huddled in her office for more than two hours on another day of what a spokesman for Ms. Sinema called good-faith negotiations.

“Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state — not for either political party,” John LaBombard, a spokesman for the senator, wrote in an email responding to questions for the senator about her standing at home. “She’s delivered on that promise and has always been honest about where she stands.” That posture helped her win election to the Senate in 2018 from a state whose voters are roughly 35 percent Republican, 32 percent Democratic and 33 percent “other.” And for all the passions of the moment, Ms. Sinema is not up for election again until 2024.A breakthrough on the legislation could quell much
of the criticism and burnish Ms. Sinema’s image as a deal-maker who shepherded a related bipartisan infrastructure bill through the Senate. But liberals on Capitol Hill do not trust that she is actually willing to support the broader spending package.

A sit-in outside Senator Sinema’s Phoenix office in June to demand an end to the filibuster. Credit...Ash Ponders for The New York Times


Russia could ban YouTube after it deleted two RT channels it said spread COVID-19 misinformation


YouTube could face restrictions in Russia after it deleted two German-language channels operated by Russian state-controlled RT. YouTube said it deleted the channels on Tuesday after they breached its policy on COVID-19 misinformation. Russia's foreign ministry responded by accusing the Google-owned company of taking part in an "information war" against Russia and threatened "retaliatory measures" against the company and German media outlets. According to YouTube's COVID-19 medical misinformation policy, the company does not allow content that "spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities’ or the World Health Organization’s medical information about COVID-19". It also bans videos about COVID-19 that pose "a serious risk of egregious harm".

How did this all start?

RT's German-language channel RT DE was issued a warning for uploading content that violated YouTube's COVID misinformation policy, which left the channel unable to upload videos for a week. During that time, RT tried to get around the uploading ban by using another German-language channel, "Der Fehlende Part", which translates to “the missing part”. "As a result both channels were terminated for breaking YouTube terms of service," a YouTube spokesperson said. Following the channel deletions, RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan went on the offensive, calling YouTube's decision "a real media war declared by the state of Germany to the state of Russia". Simonyan also called for Russia to sanction YouTube, ban German media outlets and close the Moscow bureaux of German broadcasters ARD and ZDF.

Russia's foreign ministry threatens retaliation

In a statement released on Tuesday, Russia's foreign ministry described the actions by YouTube as "unprecedented information aggression". "This obvious manifestation of censorship and suppression of freedom of expression cannot and will not be considered," it added. The ministry accused YouTube of colluding with German authorities to "silence information sources that do not fit into what the German officials view as a comfortable media landscape". It said it had asked Russian authorities to draft and enforce "retaliatory measures regarding YouTube video hosting service and the German media". Russia’s state communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, demanded that Google restore access to RT’s YouTube channels and threatened the platform with fines and a ban if it fails to do so.

'Conspiracy theory'

In Berlin, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the government has “taken note” of the YouTube decision, but denied any role. “Since there are different accounts, particularly on Russian channels, I want to say in crystal-clear terms that this is a decision by YouTube, and the German government, or representatives of the German government, have nothing to do with this decision," Seibert told reporters. “So anyone who alleges that is putting together a conspiracy theory". Siebert added that calls for retaliation against German media outlets were unjustified. “Anyone who calls for such retaliation...doesn't show a good relationship with press freedom, from our point of view," he said. German security services have said they consider RT’s German service to be a propaganda arm of the Russian state. RT, previously known as Russia Today, provides its German offering online but so far lacks a license to broadcast in Germany via a terrestrial or satellite signal.


Manchin on Biden's Reconciliation Bill: 'Definition Of Fiscal Insanity' that vengefully taxes


"Every Member of Congress has a solemn duty to vote for what they believe is best for the country and the American people, not their party. Respectfully, as I have said for months, I can't support $3.5 trillion more in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March. At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question — how much is enough?

What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can't even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity. Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation ignores the everyday reality that America's families continue pay an unavoidable inflation tax. Proposing a historic expansion of social programs while ignoring the fact we are not in a recession and that millions of jobs remain open will only feed a dysfunction that could weaken our economic recovery. This is the shared reality we all now face, and it is this reality that must shape the future decisions that we, as elected leaders, must make.

Since the beginning of this reconciliation debate, I have been consistent in my belief that any expansion of social programs must be targeted to those in need, not expanded beyond what is fiscally possible. Our tax code should be reformed to fix the flaws of the 2017 tax bill and ensure everyone pays their fair share but it should not weaken our global competitiveness or the ability of millions of small businesses to compete with the Amazons of the world. Overall, the amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford — not designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation or vengefully tax for the sake of wishful spending.

In August, I recommended we take a strategic pause to provide time to develop the right policies and to continue to monitor how the pandemic and economic factors are affecting our nation's fiscal situation before we spend more. Throughout September, I have made it clear to all those who would listen the need to means test any new social programs so that we are helping those who need it the most, not spend for the sake spending.

While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot — and will not - support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces. There is a better way and I believe we can find it if we are willing to continue to negotiate in good faith.

If there is one final lesson that will continue to guide me in this difficult debate ahead it is this: America is a great nation but great nations throughout history have been weakened by careless spending and bad policies. Now, more than ever, we must work together to avoid these fatal mistakes so that we may fulfill our greatest been weakened by careless spending and bad policies. Now, more than ever, we must work together to avoid these fatal mistakes so that we may fulfill our greatest responsibility as elected leaders and pass on a better America to the next generation."

If You Think Progressives Won't Compromise w/ Centrists, You Have It Backwards. Liberals are begging

to negotiate with centrists.


The impression has taken hold with many people who have moderate inclinations that the Democratic Party is split between moderate pragmatists and left-wing ideologues who refuse to compromise. “There are growing signs the Biden agenda could collapse because too many Democrats have unrealistic expectations and refuse to compromise,” opined one of those research firms that recirculates conventional wisdom for investors. Charlie Sykes, editor of the center-right Bulwark, claims progressive Democrats are “threatening to torpedo the bipartisan bill (and with it the Biden presidency) if they don’t get what they want.” The truth of the situation at hand is almost precisely the opposite. The people who are willing to compromise and accept half a loaf are the progressives. The ones who refuse to negotiate are the centrists. Just listen to what the progressives are saying:

“What we have said is that if there is an agreement that the president strikes on this Build Back Better agenda, we will vote for the bipartisan bill, we’re willing to negotiate,” Representative Ro Khanna said on CNN. “The president keeps begging [Senator Kyrsten Sinema], ‘Tell us what you want. Put a proposal forward’ … How do you compromise when Sinema isn’t saying anything?” Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal: “They need to tell us what they don’t agree with. And we need to be able to actually negotiate it.” Jayapal, again: “If they don’t tell us what they want to do, which was the president’s message, and if they don’t actually negotiate on the entire bill, then we’re not going to get too close.” Representative Jim McGovern: “I think a lot of us want to make sure we have an assurance that, in fact, there’s going to be a reconciliation bill.”

They are not making implacable demands. They are begging the centrists to simply negotiate. The fear hanging over their position is that, once they have their bipartisan infrastructure deal in hand, some decisive number of centrist Democrats — it would take just one in the Senate or four in the House — will take their ball and go home. Nobody knows whether that would actually happen. But the progressives are hardly imagining this possibility. Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Sinema “has privately told colleagues she will not accept any corporate or income tax rate increases.” No other publication has matched this explosive finding, which might turn out to exaggerate her stance. On the other hand, she has not publicly denied it. Sinema also reportedly opposes both Biden’s plan to allow Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies, and even opposes a scaled-back version designed to be less unacceptable to Big Pharma. The entire Biden program is financed through a combination of taxing the wealthy through higher income or corporate taxes and cutting spending by negotiating lower drug prices.

So if Sinema actually holds the positions indicated by these reports, she would kill Biden’s program outright. Biden’s domestic legacy is only going to be as large as its financing sources, and if Sinema opposes all those sources, the size of the bill she ultimately supports isn’t going to be $3.5 trillion or $2 trillion or $1.5 trillion, but zero. Business lobbyists are very clearly hoping to pass to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill — which, at the insistence of Republicans, does not make any wealthy sources pay even a cent — and then kill Build Back Better. “Business groups and some Senate Republicans,” reports the Times, have “mounted an all-out drive to secure G.O.P. votes for a bipartisan infrastructure bill.” Since Sinema is holding fundraisers with the same lobbyists who are pushing to pass infrastructure and kill Build Back Better, it seems at least possible that she is onboard with their strategy. Perhaps she just wants to scale back Biden’s plan and has some specific objections she can share in private. The problem is that she’s acting like somebody who wants to kill Biden’s program outright. Progressives can’t be blamed for suspecting a betrayal, especially when she refuses to give even the barest reassurance.


Memo to centrists: Progressives aren't your problem. Manchin and Sinema are.


In case you doubted that House progressives would stick to their strategy in the intraparty battle over President Biden’s agenda, they just reiterated their intention to vote against the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday, to pressure the Senate to complete the much bigger social policy bill. “We will only vote for the infrastructure bill after passing the reconciliation bill,” declared a statement from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The reconciliation bill is the multitrillion-dollar social infrastructure bill that is meant to pass the Senate by simple majority. This posture is provoking frustration from moderates and centrists. Many of them appear to understand this standoff as a conflict between themselves and progressives, each side pushing and pulling to get their preferred outcome.

But while there’s some truth to this, in another sense the most serious problem facing the centrists is not the progressives. It’s their ideological counterparts in the Senate, Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). That’s because the Terrible Two are the main impediment to arriving at a reconciliation bill everyone can live with. It’s likely that virtually all House moderates and centrists would support a very robust reconciliation bill with ambitious provisions on climate change, child care, health care, education and many other things, provided last-minute disagreements are ironed out. But Manchin and Sinema seem to be another matter entirely. No one knows what they’ll accept from a reconciliation bill. If they were to be very clear on what they could accept, and persuasively demonstrate that they will vote for it even if the infrastructure bill passes first, it might be easier for progressives to agree to do that.

Which points to another big irony here: If this process implodes, the Democrats who represent swing districts may well suffer most. Passing a broad, popular agenda may not stop Republicans from picking up seats in the 2022 midterms, but if Democrats don’t pass that agenda, they may well get swamped in a wave election. Who loses in a wave election? Not the progressives who represent safe Democratic districts. It’s the ones representing swing districts, often called “frontliners.” Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) understands this well. She is both a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a frontliner in a swing Orange County district. Porter told us that vulnerable frontliners, too, have a great deal to gain substantively and politically from passing a robust reconciliation bill.

Porter noted that many provisions in the infrastructure package are long-range projects that won’t even be underway by the midterms. By contrast, many provisions in the reconciliation bill will have an immediate impact, such as expanded Medicare eligibility and home care services and assistance for child care. “Those are things that will immediately begin to improve the lives of Americans and will begin to immediately improve our economy,” Porter told us. “Democratic members, regardless of your district’s composition, this is what voters want.” Porter said many frontliners are adamant that “we cannot fail” and that “we need to deliver the president’s entire agenda.” Porter also told us she will vote against the infrastructure bill Thursday “if there’s not a framework and an agreement on how we move forward.”


As Sinema resists the budget bill, she is set to raise money from business groups that oppose it.


WASHINGTON — Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the inscrutable Democrat who may hold the key to passing her party’s ambitious social policy and climate bill, is scheduled to have a fund-raiser on Tuesday afternoon with five business lobbying groups, many of which fiercely oppose the bill.

Under Ms. Sinema’s political logo, the influential National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the grocers’ PAC, along with lobbyists for roofers and electrical contractors and a small business group called the S-Corp political action committee, have invited association members to an undisclosed location on Tuesday afternoon for 45 minutes to write checks for between $1,000 and $5,800, payable to Sinema for Arizona. Full vaccinations for the coronavirus will be required, according to the invitation.

The planned event comes during a make-or-break week for President Biden’s agenda, when House Democrats are trying to pass a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill that Ms. Sinema helped negotiate, and trying to nail down the details of a social policy and climate bill that could spend as much as $3.5 trillion over the next decade.

Ms. Sinema has said she cannot support a bill that large, and has privately told Senate Democratic colleagues that she is averse to the corporate and individual tax rate increases that both the House and Senate tax-writing committees had planned to use to help pay for the measure.

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