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Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was in the Oval Office, pleading with President Biden.

In the meeting, on March 3, Mr. Blinken implored the president to end Trump-era restrictions on immigration and to allow tens of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing war, poverty and natural disasters into the United States, according to several people familiar with the exchange.

But Mr. Biden, already under intense political pressure because of the surge of migrant children at the border with Mexico, was unmoved. The attitude of the president during the meeting, according to one person to whom the conversation was later described, was, essentially: Why are you bothering me with this?

What had been an easy promise on the campaign trail — to reverse what Democrats called President Donald J. Trump’s “racist” limits on accepting refugees — has become a test of what is truly important to the new occupant of the White House, according to an account of his decision making from more than a dozen Biden administration officials, refugee resettlement officials and others.

Mr. Biden was eager for the praise that would come from vastly increasing Mr. Trump’s record-low limit, people familiar with his thinking said, and he decided to increase the cap even earlier than the usual start of the fiscal year, Oct. 1.

But only weeks into Mr. Biden’s presidency, immigration and the border had already become major distractions from his efforts to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and to persuade Congress to invest trillions of dollars into the economy — issues championed by aides like Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, as more central to his presidency.

Now, a decision to raise the refugee limit to 62,500 — as Mr. Biden had promised only weeks earlier to members of Congress — would invite from Republicans new attacks of hypocrisy and open borders even as the president was calling for bipartisanship. It was terrible timing, he told officials, especially with federal agencies already struggling to manage the highest number of migrant children and teenagers at the border in more than a decade.

The exchange on March 3 took place shortly after Mr. Biden had dispatched Mr. Blinken and two other cabinet secretaries to formally tell Congress that he would increase refugee admissions during the next six months to 62,500 people from the annual 15,000-person limit set by Mr. Trump.

Instead, the president undercut his emissaries and left hundreds of refugees in limbo for weeks.

For the next month and a half, Mr. Biden’s aides stalled, repeatedly telling reporters and refugee advocacy groups that the president still intended to follow through. But the delay had real-world consequences: Flights were canceled for more than 700 refugees who had already been thoroughly screened and issued tickets to travel to the United States.

Under pressure to let them in, members of Mr. Biden’s staff came up with a compromise they hoped would satisfy the president and resettlement agencies. They would keep the 15,000-refugee limit, but lift Trump-era restrictions that would allow more flights to resume. On Friday, White House officials informed reporters of the new policy.

The backlash was immediate.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, posted on Twitter: “Say it ain’t so, President Joe. This is unacceptable.”

Within hours, the president backtracked. The White House issued a statement saying Mr. Biden still intended to allow more refugees into the country and promising to reveal more details by May 15.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, blamed the episode on “messaging” mistakes. But for Mr. Biden, it was another example of his administration’s struggle to make good on a promise to restore the United States’ reputation as a sanctuary for the most vulnerable — a pledge Democrats eagerly made during the presidential campaign to distance themselves from Mr. Trump. It was also an early lesson in what happens when a president builds up expectations and fails to follow through.


SloMoJoe needs to start facing reality about this latest crap/crop of GOPukes. They’re extremists who don’t do bipartisan. We’ve got a very good friend down here who has been waiting patiently for his citizenship papers. His family fled Columbia in the 1980s cos of the Drug War. They are all naturalized citizens who love this country. He has done everything necessary to become a citizen. He’s trapped in the paperwork BS plus tRump getting elected for 4 years. It should happen this year. It better cos this is ridiculous! 🙁


let the republicans cry, the racist babies.


I’m a little surprised that this was leaked and published, tbh. Sad to see issues of fundamental justice like this are so transactional to the establishment.



The international humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders on Wednesday implored the United States, European Union member nations, and other rich countries to immediately end their opposition to South Africa and India’s patent waiver proposal, which would enable the mass production of generic coronavirus vaccines to meet the developing world’s dire needs.

“In this Covid-19 pandemic, we are once again faced with issues of scarcity, which can be addressed through diversification of manufacturing and supply capacity and ensuring the temporary waiver of relevant intellectual property,” Dr. Maria Guevara, international medical secretary of Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement.

“We urge all countries in opposition to this, including the U.S. and the E.U., to stand on the right side of history and join hands with those in support,” said Guevara. “It is about saving lives at the end, not protecting systems.”

Doctors Without Borders’ call came as a World Trade Organization (WTO) council is set to hold an informal meeting Thursday to discuss the proposed intellectual property waiver, which has garnered the support of more than 100 WTO member nations as well as hundreds of civil society organizations, former world leaders, and Nobel Prize-winning economists.

But the U.S. and European countries have repeatedly objected, denying the WTO the consensus support necessary to move forward with the waiver and keeping vaccine production under the control of profit-driven pharmaceutical companies that have lobbied aggressively against the proposal.

With strict intellectual property rules in place, low-income countries have been left largely without access to life-saving vaccines as infections continue to surge across the globe, leading experts to fear the emergence of vaccine-resistant strains that could prolong the global pandemic.


don’t understand why this isn’t front and center, an international scandal.



Who can vote in the next election — and how easily — will depend on where Americans live more than at any point in recent decades.

Red and blue states are on opposite tracks in shaping the electoral process: As Republicans pass some of the most restrictive voting laws of modern times, Democrats are ramping up a strategy to expand voting rights by passing bill after bill to make it easier for more Americans to access the ballot box.

Democrat-led states like New York, New Jersey and Virginia have been busy chipping away at electoral guardrails, approving automatic voter registration and other measures designed to increase turnout, as GOP-helmed Georgia, Florida and Texas are trying to make voting harder under the guise of voter integrity.

“New York had one of the worst voter participation rates in the country and we needed to remedy that,” said New York Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, a Democrat whose automatic registration bill was signed into law in December. “There’s a broader principle at stake when so many states are moving in the opposite direction and making it more difficult to vote for blatantly political reasons.”

The fracture between red states limiting voting access and blue states expanding it may deepen the partisan divide in an already divided nation. The actions are also likely to end up in the courts, leading to potentially years of debate over what is and what is not constitutional.


With DeSantis, Rubio, and Scott as its leading statewide office holders, I would say Florida voters are among the leaders in voting the stupid way.


During a Monday signing ceremony for Florida’s new anti-riot bill (HB 1) backed by law enforcement all throughout the state, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd appeared alongside Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to remind Floridians of how the new legislation –– which grants civil immunity to motorists who crash into protesters –– will preserve the state they “know and love.”

“There’s a reason that this place is fun,” the sheriff explained, holding up what appeared to be stock photos of multiracial families basking in the sunlight of Florida’s beaches. “There’s a reason why we have a 49-year-low crime rate. And the same people that don’t think we should have an anti-rioting bill, or a rioting bill, are the same ones that think we ought to let more people out of prison.”

He continued, “We’re a special place, and there are millions and millions of people who like to come here. And quite frankly, we like to have them here. We only want to share one thing as you move in hundreds a day. Welcome to Florida, but don’t register to vote and vote the stupid way you did up north, or you’ll get what they got.”

Grady also made sure to delineate peaceful protests from riots, alleging that law enforcement, in fact, “want[s] people to peacefully protest when they feel the need.” He continued, “It’s the foundation of our country.” He failed to mention, however, that the distinction between peaceful protesting and rioting is often made blurry by the police’s routine initiation and escalation of violence in what start as otherwise peaceful demonstrations.

DeSantis, notably amused by Grady’s jab at “northern” voters, has touted the bill as “the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country.” He said, “There is nothing close.”


Polk County is right up there with Lake County as the land of the stupid and religious idiots. We’ll see how long this BS stays on the books. I have wanted out of here for decades, but I married a cracker. My sister has retired here, so I just stay patient and keep my fingers crossed for change. Plus, being a political activist helps! 🙂


Florida also known for voting machine shenanigans.


T and R, Ms. Benny!! ☮️😊👍👏 The MN prosecutor did a competent job in this case. Chauvin did not commit 1st degree murder. He did commit the charges he was convicted for. I hope he serves some actual time in a real prison. That might wake up a few LEOs regarding accountability.


He wont see the GP as an inmate. Chauvin isnt that big to begin with and he would be someone’s Prison “bitch” real quick and as an ex cop he wouldn’t last long…


If Yang wins, it would be great if progressives supporting Yang can influence his pro development stance, but I’m pretty skeptical. (Yang was pro Amazon)


Andrew Yang may be leading early polls in the New York City mayor’s race, but he has nonetheless faced skepticism from many left-leaning voters and trails most of his main Democratic rivals in endorsements.

On Wednesday, Mr. Yang will try to counter that skepticism, announcing that he has landed the support of Carlos Menchaca, a city councilman from Brooklyn.

Before dropping out of the mayor’s race last month, Mr. Menchaca had positioned himself as one of the most left-leaning Democrats in the field.

Mr. Menchaca, who is Mexican-American and grew up in public housing in Texas, is best known for scuttling the Industry City rezoning on the Brooklyn waterfront last year — the city’s biggest clash over development since the collapse of the Amazon deal in Queens — and for proposing the legislation that created identification cards for undocumented residents.

He also called for defunding the police, as has Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive whom Mr. Menchaca often praised on the campaign trail, and who would have been a more expected endorsement choice.

But Mr. Menchaca said in an interview that he was drawn to Mr. Yang because of the candidate’s support for universal basic income — even though Mr. Yang’s plan for New York involves a pared-down model — and his proposal to create a public bank to serve low-income and undocumented residents who do not have a bank account.

“We share a lot of values that are rooted in bringing community voices to the table to shape policies,” Mr. Menchaca said.

Mr. Menchaca, who cannot run for the City Council again because of term limits, said he hoped to work in a Yang administration should Mr. Yang win.

He differs from Mr. Menchaca on some issues, most notably on development-related concerns. Mr. Menchaca has been a fierce critic of city rezonings that allow for new development and has raised fears over gentrification, while Mr. Yang says he is generally pro-development. Mr. Yang called the collapse of the Amazon deal a “black eye” for the city and lamented the jobs that could have been created.

Mr. Menchaca said he hoped to advocate for community needs with Mr. Yang during future rezoning battles.

“Government didn’t listen to constituents” during the Amazon deal, Mr. Menchaca said, “and that would not happen in a Yang administration. That’s not going to happen if I’m there or Ron is there.”

Mr. Kim opposed the Amazon deal and a rezoning effort in Flushing, Queens, that was approved by the City Council last year. When Mr. Kim endorsed Mr. Yang early in the mayor’s race, he said he joined the “Yang bus” in part to influence him on issues like rezonings.

“I chose to be on that bus so that I can steer that bus in the right direction,” he said.



Too funny! 🙂


oh my gosh how great is it that he is AG!!!!
T&R Benny!


Article from David Sirota’s newsletter. What’s up with the initials NRA and bad organizations?

When Joe Manchin told attendees at the National Restaurant Association (NRA)’s national conference on Tuesday that the minimum wage shouldn’t be more than $11 and there should still be a subminimum wage for tipped workers, the group’s chief lobbyist couldn’t contain his excitement.

“From your lips to God’s ears,” exclaimed Sean Kennedy, the NRA’s executive vice president of public affairs, who spoke with the Democratic senator from West Virginia as part of a virtual panel entitled, “Seeking Unity: Conversations on Finding Bipartisan Solutions.”

The NRA is a powerful, sprawling lobbying operation, with $289 million in revenue in 2018 and state affiliates around the country. The organization has been leading the charge to block a federal $15 minimum wage and is also fighting a separate Democratic effort to make it easier for workers to form unions.

Manchin, along with Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, were added to the NRA conference line-up after they joined six other Democrats in blocking an attempt by Sen. Bernie Sanders to add a $15 minimum wage provision to the Democrats’ COVID-19 relief legislation in March.

Both lawmakers have also spoken out against efforts to reform the filibuster — a stand that will keep a lid on many key Democratic legislative priorities — and they have recently enjoyed cash infusions from business interests that would be affected by the party’s proposals.

During Sinema’s talk, Kennedy praised senator as a “true moderate.” She responded: “My approach has always remained the same. I promised Arizonans that I would do things differently than some in Washington, and that I would be an independent voice for our state, not for any political party.”

Sinema said she believes that “achieving lasting results on the issues that matter to everyday Americans really requires bipartisan solutions,” and she called on her “colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in my approach.”

In truth, however, Sinema’s political approach and viewpoint on the minimum wage have shifted considerably since she first got into politics. She was at one time considered a progressive.

During his talk, Manchin specifically took aim at Sanders for continuing to push for a $15 minimum wage.

“We’ve been having meetings on minimum wage, and I can’t for the life of me understand why they don’t take a win on $11,” he said. “Bernie Sanders is totally committed in his heart and soul that $15 is the way to go. Well, it might be the way to go, Bernie, but it ain’t gonna go. You don’t have the votes for it. It’s not going to happen. So they’re going to walk away with their pride, saying we fought for $15, got nothing.”

Manchin said there are other Democrats who agree with him that “the path they’re going down is wrong.”

During his talk on Tuesday, Manchin reiterated his opposition to eliminating the legislative filibuster, which currently allows Republicans to block most legislation, outside of spending bills, unless Democrats can find 60 votes. The Senate is currently split 50-50, and Democrats only have a 51-vote majority with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break ties.

“You get rid of the filibuster and we will not be the country we are for this reason: You’ll have the violent swings, extreme swings, every time there’s an election, whichever party is in power,” he said. “It’ll be no different than a lot of European countries are, no different than a lot of developing countries. It’s whoever’s in power, and basically it swings. Everything’s thrown out and started over. We have been a country and we have grown as a country with a consistency that people could depend on.”

Labor activists were thrilled when Manchin on Monday said he would cosponsor Democrats’ landmark labor reform legislation, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act — meaning there are now only three Democrats who have not signed onto the bill. Sinema is one of the holdouts.

But Manchin’s position on the filibuster makes it unlikely the PRO Act will advance at all, as there is basically no chance that ten Republicans will support the legislation.

While Sinema didn’t speak about the filibuster specifically, she said, “What I’m telling my colleagues is that we cannot accept a new standard by which important legislation only passes on party line votes. If we were to accept that, it would set the stage for permanent partisan dysfunction, it would deepen the divisions that exist within our country, and it would further erode Americans’ confidence in their government, which we know is a challenge we face already.”

When Kennedy asked Sinema what restaurant operators should know about communicating with lawmakers, she replied that “Senators need to hear from their constituents… They may have a public position on an issue, but it’s also that person’s job to represent his or her constituents.”

A March poll of Sinema’s constituents found that 52 percent of independents in Arizona and 72 percent of Democrats support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Arizona’s minimum wage is currently $12.15, with a tipped wage of $9.15.


of course there are other sellouts who agree with you, Joe. i never liked the term “bootlicker,” but it seems apt for these politicians and their donors.


Bet a lot of people are confusing the 2 acronyms: NRA.


I’m sure they are as the gun lobby is the most identifiable . The only reason i know is i had to take some sev safe courses years ago and they were a sponser




The federal government has long been a bit player in education. Under an expansive vision being rolled out this spring by President Biden, that would change.

Biden has proposed — or is expected to propose — a half dozen education programs that would constitute the largest federal investment in education in at least a half century. Any one of them would be significant on its own. Taken together, if approved by Congress, they form a cradle-to-college plan that aims to reduce inequities that course through American schools by infusing hundreds of billions of dollars into virtually every level of the system.

“These are truly unprecedented investments in education,” said Sarah Abernathy, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding.
Much of Biden’s strategy is focused on cold, hard cash, a show-me-the-money plan that would more than double federal support to high-poverty districts, rebuild crumbling schools and subsidize pre-K and community college alike. It’s excited educators up and down the system, but left some allies wondering if the administration is doing enough to use the money to drive policy changes by states and districts. For their part, Republicans oppose such sweeping new spending as well as the tax increases proposed to offset some of the cost.