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jcitybone

Thanks orl

https://www.niemanlab.org/2023/08/in-news-headlines-some-civilian-casualties-are-more-valuable-than-others/

War entails suffering. How and how often that suffering is reported on in the U.S., however, is not evenhanded.

Take, for example, the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen in March 2015 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The media attention afforded to the crises reveals biases that relate less to the human consequences of the conflicts than to the United States’ role and relationship with the warring parties involved.

In Yemen, the U.S. is arming and supporting the Saudi-led coalition, whose airstrikes and blockades have caused immense human suffering. Meanwhile in Eastern Europe, the U.S. is arming and aiding Ukraine’s efforts by helping to counter missile strikes that have targeted civilian infrastructure and to retake occupied territories where horrific killings have taken place.

As scholars who study genocide and other mass atrocities, as well as international security, we compared New York Times headlines that span approximately seven and a half years of the ongoing conflict in Yemen and the first nine months of the conflict in Ukraine.

We paid particular attention to headlines on civilian casualties, food security and provision of arms. We chose The New York Times because of its popularity and reputation as a credible and influential source on international news, with an extensive network of global reporters and over 130 Pulitzer Prizes.

Purposefully, our analysis focused solely on headlines. While the full stories may bring greater context to the reporting, headlines are particularly important for three reasons: They frame the story in a way that affects how it is read and remembered; reflect the publication’s ideological stance on an issue; and, for many news consumers, are the only part of the story that is read at all.

Our research shows extensive biases in both the scale and tone of coverage. These biases lead to reporting that highlights or downplays human suffering in the two conflicts in a way that seemingly coincides with U.S. foreign policy objectives.

wi65

From the WI GQP WISSC Dept of Ok for wee but not for thee.

Rancor flares on the Wisconsin Supreme Court as its new liberal majority moves to blunt the chief justice’s power

Annette Ziegler
Jessie Opoien, Molly Beck and Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MADISON – Three days after securing a new majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the court’s four liberal justices voted to limit the power of its conservative chief justice — a move the leader called “an attempt to gut” her constitutional authority by “rogue justices.”

In response, a liberal justice pilloried the chief for “litigating” the issue “through media releases.”

The justices voted Friday to change the court’s rules, including the creation of a new committee composed of conservative Chief Justice Annette Ziegler and two justices picked by the court’s liberal majority members.

The liberal justices voted to shift powers from Ziegler to the new committee, in some cases eliminating the chief justice as the sole decisionmaker and instead assigning such jobs to the committee, including appointments to the Wisconsin Judicial College, overseeing the state courts director, picking members of state-level judicial committees and the planning and policy advisory committee, and reviewing the court system’s budget, among other matters.

“I think this will have long-lasting, negative effects that go well beyond the current seven members of the court. This is not how we do business,” Ziegler told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Saturday. “Whenever there’s a different majority, you come in and you gut the system and take over? No. That is not how we’ve ever functioned. People may differ in case decisionmaking, and have different views of the law, but the role of the chief justice has been consistent for over 40 years and five chief justices.”

The court’s internal operating procedures were first adopted in 1984, following a reorganization in 1978 that included experiments “with various procedures that seemed to best serve the objectives of collegiality and efficiency.” They have been adjusted over time, but the shift in powers away from the chief justice marks a dramatic change.

“This is fundamentally, morally wrong,” conservative state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley told the Journal Sentinel on Friday. “This is political hacks doing the bidding of the people who bought and paid for their elections. These are not jurists. These are politicians wearing robes.”

Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet, a member of the court’s liberal majority, did not return a phone call on Friday from the Journal Sentinel. In a statement, Dallet said the court’s majority “voted today to advance a number of transparency and accountability measures.”

“First, we have made a series of rules and operating procedures changes to make Court decision-making more inclusive, timely, and responsive. Second, we are committed to making all orders more readily accessible on our website,” she said. “Third, we have voted to reopen our administrative conferences. And fourth, we will be announcing the creation of a bipartisan task force to study the issue of recusal and to present us with recommendations.”

“This initial series of actions is intended to be a first step in making our court more accessible and more accountable to the people of Wisconsin,” Dallet said.

In a subsequent statement, Dallet said Ziegler was asked on May 19 and June 23 to schedule a conference in August to discuss administrative changes, but the chief justice refused.

“Thus, a majority of the court met today, after having given proper notice of the meeting to our colleagues, and with an opportunity for justices to appear in person, by Zoom or to vote by email. Some of our colleagues chose not to participate, and instead the Chief Justice has issued a second press release,” Dallet said.

In a statement released Friday, Ziegler said the move amounted to “four rogue members of the court (meeting) in a secret, unscheduled, illegitimate closed meeting.”
.
Making such changes occurs “when seven members of the court convene with an agenda prepared by the Chief Justice and at a time set by the Chief Justice during the court’s business year, which is September-June,” Ziegler said in the statement.

“The rogue justices’ attempt to go outside of this recognized procedure is an imposition of will and a raw exercise of overreaching power. Any such attempted action is illegitimate and unenforceable,” she continued.

In a statement, Dallet said the liberal justices “continue to be willing to work with our colleagues.”

“I want to reiterate that it is deeply inappropriate for the Chief Justice to continue to refuse to engage with her colleagues, but instead to publicly litigate these issues. It is not my intention, nor the intention of a majority of my colleagues, to continue to litigate internal issues, through the media,” Dallet said.

Asked whether relationships on the court can be repaired, Ziegler told the Journal Sentinel she is “always hopeful.”

“I’m an eternal optimist, so I would like to think that we will be able to work well together,” Ziegler said.

The court’s new liberal majority made its first significant move Wednesday by firing the director of the state courts system.

Randy Koschnick, who has held the position since 2017 when he was appointed by the outgoing conservative majority, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he received a phone call Monday afternoon from liberal Justice Jill Karofsky informing him there were enough votes to “fire you tomorrow.”

On Wednesday, he received the letter terminating his employment.

Ziegler put out a two-page statement Tuesday objecting to the decision to oust Koschnick, saying the move “was made without regard for the Constitution, case law, or Supreme Court rules.”

Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Jill Karofsky and Janet Protasiewicz, who join Dallet in the majority, did not immediately respond to phone calls or text messages seeking comment on Friday’s developments. Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn declined to comment.

Years of bitterness on the state Supreme Court
Friday’s move continues a bitter era on the court that began more than a decade ago.

In February 2010, conservative Justice David Prosser, who retired in 2016, called then-Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a “total bitch” and threatened to “destroy” her during a private conversation about a request to remove then-Justice Michael Gableman from a criminal case.

Prosser later said he “probably overreacted” because Abrahamson and Walsh Bradley, members of the court’s liberal bloc, were “masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements.”

“This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing,” Prosser told the Journal Sentinel in 2011. Abrahamson died in 2020.

Walsh Bradley also said Prosser put his hands around her neck during an altercation in her office in June 2011.

The rancor reached an inflection point in 2015 when Republicans sought to change the way the court selects its chief justice through a constitutional amendment that voters ultimately approved.

Abrahamson was immediately removed as the court’s leader after the amendment was approved, allowing the court’s majority to elect its chief justice rather than rely on seniority.

Four justices on the seven-member court voted to elevate then-Justice Patience Roggensack to chief justice. Protasiewicz was elected to fill the seat the conservative Roggensack held until she retired July 31, creating the new liberal majority.

wi65

Miss him? Not really…. What i do miss back then the GOP told him to resign or else. To bad the GQP of today has morphed into a fascist cult with thier Dear leader whom is a POS that is going to take this country a gereration to recover from once he kicks the bucket.. Tricky Dick will soon have company in that tub…

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wi65

If the GQP made a “Barbie” movie

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wi65

NASA long shot re-establishes full communication with Voyager 2 probe

Aug. 5 (UPI) — NASA scientists say they have now re-established full communication with the Voyager 2 space probe after losing contact with the pioneering spacecraft last month.

The space agency said in a mission update posted on Friday that it used a “shout” issued from its deep space antennas to re-establish a connection to Voyager 2, which is currently located in interstellar space more than 12.3 billion miles from Earth.

NASA lost contact with the probe last month after mistakenly sending it a command that caused it to shift the direction of its antenna by 2 degrees. The agency had been unable to communicate with it since then.

On Tuesday, scientists said they had detected a “heartbeat” signal from the craft.

Voyager 2 now is now operating as designed as it continues on an interstellar mission that began 46 years ago, they said.

Scientists sent the long-distance signal from the Deep Space Network facility in Canberra, Australia.

“With a one-way light time of 18.5 hours for the command to reach Voyager, it took 37 hours for mission controllers to learn whether the command worked,” NASA said in its update.

“At 12:29 a.m. EDT on Aug. 4, the spacecraft began returning science and telemetry data, indicating it is operating normally and that it remains on its expected trajectory.”

The move succeeded in instructing the spacecraft to reorient itself and turn its antenna back to Earth.

Had the long-shot not worked, the probe was scheduled to automatically reorient its antenna towards Earth midway through October.

Voyager is NASA’s longest-running space program.

The Voyager 2 probe was launched in 1977 on a mission to explore deep space.

Thought the Klingons used it for target practice for a minute…😬😬 Seriously just amazed that tech of the 70s is still functional that deep into space– Kudos to NASA. Americans cant buy a decent appliance that will last half that long these days.

Benny

Benny

Lots of levity around this movie (haven’t seen it nor Oppenheimer yet), but I like the jokes.

barbie breaking bad Screenshot 2023-08-07 093219.jpg
Benny

Benny

Benny

Dave Dayen

Sea Change in Democrats’ Approach to the Judiciary

The Gallup organization has been measuring public opinion of the Supreme Court since 2000, and for most of that time opinion has been favorable on net. As recently as July 2020, 58 percent of Americans approved of the Court’s work, versus 38 percent disapproval. Three years later, public opinion has completely flipped. The most recent numbers, from a survey taken last month, show just 40 percent approval, tied for the record low in the series, with 58 percent disapproval, a record high. Just 11 percent have a “great deal” of confidence in the Court in the most recent poll, with 34 percent expressing “very little” support; these are also records.

What has happened in the intervening years is rather obvious: a high-profile ruling reversing Roe v. Wade and taking away a fundamental right, along with numerous other vicious decisions and a string of ethics scandals from the sitting justices. But there has also been a concerted effort by outside groups to appeal to Democrats about the realities of the current Court, countering decades of elite signaling that judges are impartial interpreters of the facts who mostly get things right. On top of that, the campaign stressed the salience of the judiciary in American governance, aiming to elevate judicial issues among an indifferent Democratic rank and file and its policymaking class, which didn’t prioritize judge nominations to the same degree as Republicans.

One of the main organizations that took on this challenge was Demand Justice, founded in 2018. Its co-founder and executive director, Brian Fallon, stepped down last month. Fallon, who was national press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and a spokesperson for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), had been part of that policymaking establishment. But he came to see the lack of attention to the judiciary as an urgent political problem, and set out to do something about it.

His success cannot just be measured by opinion polling. President Biden has nominated 180 judges, and 140 of them have been confirmed, numbers that far outpace his Democratic predecessors. What’s more, Biden has not pulled names from the traditional pile of corporate lawyers. More than half of his nominees have been professionally diverse, with labor lawyers, civil rights lawyers, and public defenders added to the federal bench. Meanwhile, the White House and Democrats in Congress have been more willing to confront the Court and even strip its jurisdiction in legislation. Structural reforms like adding Supreme Court justices, another goal of Demand Justice, are admittedly far off, but there’s a growing coalition for these ideas.

“If you told us at the time [Demand Justice started] that Biden would be nominee, I would have thought there would be a fairly consistent approach as what we saw in the Obama administration,” Fallon said in a long interview last week. “[But] he appointed public-interest lawyers who have been smeared by the Ted Cruzes and Tom Cottons of the world, and have held all Democrats … There’s been party-wide acceptance of the idea. I think pressure will be immense on the next president to keep it going. It will have a generational effect.”

BACK IN 2016, WHEN ANTONIN SCALIA DIED and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unprecedentedly refused even to hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee to fill the seat, Merrick Garland, Fallon told me that the Clinton campaign devoted a week of speeches to the scandal. Few cared. “There just wasn’t any traction to it, voters weren’t galvanized by it,” he said. The following year, when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat Garland never got, there was a live debate over whether to bother to filibuster him, which would trigger Republicans lowering the threshold for Supreme Court nominees to a bare majority. There was a filibuster, but it was half-hearted.

Meanwhile, liberal law professors like Neal Katyal vouched for Gorsuch as well-qualified; Katyal later represented clients before the Court. And he wasn’t alone. Other credentialed liberal legal elites produced constant messaging that Trump’s nominees were not that bad, that the Court wasn’t that bad—often highlighting the occasional “strange bedfellow” rulings with odd collections of justices—and generally whitewashing the Court’s reputation for a liberal audience.

“What contributed to that dulled level of concern among the electorate was that the people on the progressive side that should have raised the alarm were captured by the Court,” Fallon explained. “They were trying to prop up reverence for the Court as a legitimate institution, because they were proximate to that institution. They clerked for the Court, spoke before the Court, worked for institutions that were trying to place clerks for the Court.”

He analogized it to the scene at the end of Animal House when Kevin Bacon’s character, amid absolute chaos at the annual homecoming parade, insisted, “Remain calm! All is well!”

The politicians largely took their cues from this elite, reluctant to go against lawyers or professors with important titles who insisted that Gorsuch or Brett Kavanaugh were well qualified and Supreme Court rulings well within the zone of normal jurisprudence. “We were trying to give courage and backbone to lawmakers to not defer to those elites,” Fallon said. “Only recently have they realized, if we still defer we will be incurring the wrath of our base.”

Demand Justice had a dual messaging challenge: to demystify for the public the reality of conservative judges being “politicians in robes,” as Fallon put it, and to de-credentialize the liberal legal blob’s self-interested effort to deny that reality. Events certainly helped them along. While the Gorsuch nomination was sleepy, Kavanaugh’s was riotous and polarizing, and according to Fallon, fundamentally changed the public’s relationship to the Court. On top of that, the last-minute replacement of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the 2020 election, with Mitch McConnell reversing his position on nominations in an election year, further delegitimized the process, at least among the liberal base. Demand Justice ran campaigns on all of these nomination fights.

“If you track it, the downward trend predates Dobbs,” Fallon said, referring to the abortion ruling. Of course, this undoing of an accepted right accelerated the belief that the Court was largely political, and other decisions, like the invocation of the “major questions” doctrine to prevent the executive branch from regulating greenhouse gas emissions and enact congressionally authorized student debt relief, have more subtly demonstrated the ideological crusade, from a majority that much of the left thinks was ill-gotten.

This has not only soured Democratic opinion on the judiciary, but elevated its salience. Trump won voters who called the Court the most important or an important factor by two points in 2016; Clinton won those who called it a non-factor by 13. In 2020, that reversed; Biden won the single-issue Court voters by six points.

DEMOCRATIC REVULSION AT CONSERVATIVE CONTROL of the judiciary opened space for reformers to call for a different type of Democratic judicial appointee. Fallon spoke to the Prospect in 2019 about his call to reject nominees from “BigLaw,” the constellation of corporate law firms with close ties to the Court that populate D.C.

During the Biden transition, chief counsel Dana Remus sent a letter to Senate Democrats, who play a major role in the nomination process, asking for different kinds of nominees, with different life experiences. “What Republicans have been so good at,” Fallon said, is “if you make a name as a conservative lawyer, you get rewarded. It’s a credential for you to defend abortion bans and fight LGBT rights. For liberals, if you work for the ACLU, that would work against you. Everyone will think you’d be smeared as an activist. Democrats preemptively surrendered to Republicans.”

That has turned around, though not completely. The Prospect has reported on how some senators didn’t heed the White House’s call for professionally diverse nominees, in terms of race, gender, and work experience alike. But the White House, according to Fallon, explicitly asked senators for more names in those cases. “Their instinct consistently has been to look for people who fit the new trend,” he said. Demand Justice played a role in that by helping to identify candidates and endorsing diverse nominees; former Demand Justice official Paige Herwig is now the White House point person for judicial nominations.

Interestingly, one of the only Biden nominees forced to withdraw from consideration, Michael Delaney, failed because of opposition from the left end of the Senate caucus, due in part to his role with a limited-government organization that opposed Biden policies. Virtually all the other nominees have made it through a Senate that has only ever had 50 or 51 Democratic votes during Biden’s tenure. Some nominees from the 50-vote Senate of 2021 and 2022 were imperiled by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who was thought not to be supportive of them. But with an extra vote in 2023, Schumer returned to those nominees and got most of them through this spring, including voting rights attorney Dale Ho, labor lawyer Casey Pitts, public defender Natasha Merle, and reproductive rights lawyer Julie Rikelman. “It’s hard to argue against professional diversity,” Fallon said. “You will end up getting a new perspective that gives us a better judiciary.”

There has been one blind spot among Biden nominees: corporate power. In her very first case, Ana Reyes, a Biden appointee in D.C., was headed toward such a disastrous ruling on a merger between two door lock companies; in response, the Justice Department withdrew the case and settled. The recent loss for the Federal Trade Commission on the merger between Microsoft and Activision was at the hands of Biden judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, who failed to recuse herself even though her son works at Microsoft.

Both Reyes and Corley were corporate lawyers before becoming judges. But even Biden’s professionally diverse appointees have given puzzling answers to Congress on antitrust issues during the confirmation process. Given the damage the conservative courts have created on economic issues—most recently essentially ending fraud as a justiciable crime—the need for a counterweight is critical, and glaring by its absence.

Fallon said that the lack of buy-in from Senate Democrats on diverse nominees was one problem. But the other is that it’s been easier to win the debate with nominees fighting for abortion or voting rights. “We’re still as a party having a war between the old neoliberal approach and the new progressive movement,” he said. “A lot of the people ready for a judgeship are relics of an old system … The next frontier is that we have had for too long Democratic appointees on worker power and antitrust law that are indistinguishable from conservatives.”

Benny

pt 2

THE CONFIRMATION PIPELINE MAY SLOW DOWN a bit because of the tyranny of Senate procedure. The Judiciary Committee, led by Dick Durbin (D-IL), is still upholding the “blue slip” tradition, which gives home-state senators an effective veto over nominees. This parochial patronage scheme has now created a two-tiered justice system. Many of the current vacancies on federal district courts are in states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Florida, where there’s at least one Republican senator. There are eight vacancies in Texas and none of them have nominees.

“I think blue slips are a dying custom, but unfortunately not dying fast enough,” Fallon said. He noted that the Congressional Black Caucus has condemned blue slips as a segregationist relic, and threatened to oppose judicial nominations if the practice continued. It has set up a dynamic where the states with the worst practices on voting rights and other issues also have the most right-wing judges, because Democrats simply cannot fill those sears under a blue-slip system.

Blue slips in their current form are not even a real long-standing tradition. When none other than Joe Biden ran the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1980s, blue slips were not an automatic blockade, merely giving senators time to weigh in on nominees. Biden once moved a nominee to the Senate floor over the objection of Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston of California, Fallon noted. “You don’t need to say you’re getting rid of blue slips, just go back to the Biden rule,” he said.

Democratic views on the courts are shifting in other ways, too. My colleague Ryan Cooper has written about how judicial review should not be viewed with such reverence, and this has actually manifested. When right-wing judge Matthew Kacsmaryk made a bid to eliminate access to FDA-approved abortion medication, Sen. Ron Wyden openly called for ignoring the ruling, and others joined him. In recent laws like the bipartisan infrastructure package and the debt ceiling deal, Congress included jurisdiction-stripping measures that forbade judicial review of things like broadband funding and executive branch prerogatives on regulation. And after the Supreme Court restricted the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, the Inflation Reduction Act reinforced that the EPA has this authority.

Even how Democrats talk about the courts has changed. Fallon highlighted certain “traitors to their class,” former and current law professors and court clerks willing to say publicly that the Supreme Court’s actions are politics in another form. And the Biden administration, despite the president’s institutionalist mindset, has escalated as well. After the Dobbs decision, for instance, the White House was flat-footed for several days on offering any practical alternatives to the ruling despite having had months of advance warning when the opinion leaked. But when the Court tossed out Biden’s student debt cancellation plan, just hours later the president announced his intent to pursue the same relief under different legal authority. He also responded to the Court’s ruling ending affirmative action by saying, “This is not a normal Court,” remarks that were not scripted.

While this isn’t yet an embrace of adding justices or seeking term limits, it’s reflective of the new approach, putting the Supreme Court squarely in the political arena rather than something above it. And it’s a first step to Demand Justice’s call for structural reforms.

“I would agree there’s a shift there,” Fallon said when I asked about these developments. “The last people to admit there’s a shift would be the Biden administration. And that’s fine.”

THE COURT HAS CLEARLY EMERGED as a political villain for Democrats. Their political strategy in 2022 depended heavily on fallout from the Dobbs ruling. The slow drip of ethics scandals has reinforced this. Senate Democrats are now explicitly demanding that Chief Justice John Roberts force a recusal in an important tax case from Justice Samuel Alito, who recently sat down for an hours-long interview with an attorney who will be trying that case.

Justices showed a modicum of sensitivity to this political pressure last session. But clearly the courts will remain unbalanced until the newfound desire to counteract them gains critical mass. The inattention lasted for decades; the shift is only a few years old.

One thing that isn’t as prevalent anymore is the self-sabotage on the left side of the spectrum. Fallon noted an earlier Alito interview with The Wall Street Journal in which he complained about how nobody was defending the Court. “The idea has always been that judges are not supposed to respond to criticisms, but if the courts are being unfairly attacked, the organized bar will come to their defense,” Alito said.

Setting aside Alito’s definition of fair, this has been a real dynamic. And the “organized bar,” the legal blob from both parties, has been eager to prop up the system. Their absence on the Democratic side is a testament to the work of Demand Justice and others to get real about the judiciary and the damage it has caused.

“I think he’s rightly diagnosing something partly responsible now for what’s going on,” Fallon said of Alito. “That chorus has not been there. People who would have been institutionalists are feeling pressure not to do that.”

Benny

We were in the northern burbs of the Windy City over the weekend. Gas was over $4.19 a gallon. But to be fair, IL has some of the highest gas taxes in the country.

Benny

I’m thinking some of this is by design on Trump’s part in order to get clarification on what he can say in public as well as privately. He’s also wishing to fundraise off his threats.

Benny

Ohio’s proxy war over abortion reaches its final battle

An unusual, off-cycle special election is drawing hundreds of thousands of Ohioans to the polls, though not a single candidate is on the ballot.

More than 500,000 voters have already voted on Issue 1, an amendment that would make it significantly more difficult to alter the state’s constitution and bring citizen-initiated ballot measures to voters in the first place. The outcome of Tuesday’s election will have immediate implications for the fate of Ohio’s abortion rights ballot measure this November, but many predict it will shape the two parties’ strategies on ballot measures more broadly.

“There are those who have been holding onto power, despite the fact that they don’t represent the vast majority of their voters, who are watching Ohio and saying, ‘Hey, if this works, this could be our tool to protect our power at the expense of people’s freedoms, at the expense of their democracy,’” said Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio).

Should voters approve Issue 1 on Tuesday, the threshold to approve future ballot initiatives will rise from a simple majority to 60 percent. The push to pass Issue 1 is widely seen as an attempt by Republicans in the state to thwart that abortion-rights initiative later this year — although proponents of Issue 1 insist that it’s not just about abortion, but rather protecting the state constitution from special interests.

Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee, argued that state constitutions should be as challenging to amend as the federal constitution, which requires supermajority votes in both chambers and ratification by a supermajority of states.

“The Founding Fathers made it difficult on purpose because they knew it shouldn’t be changed with the prevailing wind of the day,” she said, adding that the current majority vote threshold in Ohio and many other states “sends the message that if you don’t like what the legislature is doing, you can just put it on the ballot, and soon the constitution will be thousands of pages long and be completely meaningless.”

Few initially expected Issue 1 to draw so much attention during a historically low-turnout election. It’s a technical issue pertaining to ballot measures and, beyond that, the stakes for abortion are complicated by the fact that courts are currently blocking enforcement of Ohio’s abortion ban, making the procedure legal in the state — for now.

But as both sides rake in millions in out-of-state donations, the vote has become a proxy for something larger. The campaigns are working to remind the public that Issue 1 could have dramatic implications for a number of issues that come before voters in the state.

“What we’re trying to explain to folks is that this is a good government measure,” said Ohio Republican Party Chair Alex Triantafilou. “I know our opponents think it’s only about abortion, and there’s no question that we’re the party of life. … But it’s bigger than that.”

Abortion may not be the only popular issue on the ballot this November. Activists in Ohio also submitted thousands of additional signatures for a marijuana ballot initiative after they fell short of the required number last month.

And opponents of Issue 1 are warning of its wide-ranging impacts on a whole host of policy fronts.

“Yes, it has huge implications for reproductive rights,” said Liz Walters, chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, which is advocating against Issue 1. “But if you believe in the right to join a union, if you care about voting rights, if you care about having fair maps, this issue transcends any single issue.”

This isn’t the first time Republicans have tried something like Issue 1. GOP legislatures in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Oklahoma debated bills in recent years that would make it harder to put a measure before voters. Few made it into law, and some of those that did were later struck down by courts.

IL, MI, IN, KY, WV will be paying attention to this special election.

Benny

jcitybone

Bernie op ed on Fox.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/climate-change-threat-planet-we-must-address-it.amp

Obviously, climate change is not real. I’ve heard, you’ve heard, “expert” after “expert” telling us for years how climate change is a “fraud.”

We’ve heard from our friends at the oil companies who made $196 billion in profits last year that the evidence for it is “inconclusive.” We’ve listened to politicians and pundits explain how proponents of climate change are engaged in “fake news,” are part of a “woke conspiracy” or pushing “cult-like” propaganda.

We’ve also heard that, perhaps, if the planet is warming it is part of some kind of natural occurrence which has nothing to do with human activity and the burning of fossil fuel.

What more can be said? Climate change is not real. Or, if it is, it has nothing to do with carbon emissions – and there is nothing we can do about it.

If this is what you believe I would respectfully disagree and I would urge you to get on the phone and call friends and family around the country to hear about what their communities are experiencing. I would also suggest that you check out (reliable) websites and take a look at what’s going on in virtually every part of the world. If you do, here’s what you’ll find.

The last eight years have been the eight hottest on record. This year is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history, and this past July was the hottest month in recorded history. Twenty-one of the 30 hottest days on record occurred this past month.

Across the United States, July broke more than 3,200 daily temperature records. Miami experienced its seven hottest days. Flagstaff, Arizona, and Brownsville, Texas, experienced their eight hottest days. At least 26 cities broke or tied their previous daily temperature records three or more times. Death Valley experienced the highest midnight temperature ever recorded on Earth.

Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock, Baton Rouge, Anaheim, Rapid City, Santa Fe, St. Paul, Corpus Christi, Sioux Falls, Fort Lauderdale, Reno, Helena, Grand Junction, Salt Lake City, San Juan, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Worth, Carson City, Portland – all of these cities experienced their highest temperatures on record.

It wasn’t just daily records. Phoenix recently experienced 31 days in a row at or above 110 degrees. El Paso experienced 44 days in a row at or above 100 degrees. Miami experienced a record 46 days at or above 100 degrees. Austin experienced a record 11 days at or above 105 degrees. Waco experienced a record 44 days at or above 100 degrees. Las Vegas experienced its hottest two weeks on record.

And it’s not just the United States. Dozens of locations in China experienced record-high temperatures last month, including the country’s all-time temperature record of 126 degrees. Rome, Cannes, Palermo, Tunis, Algiers, Tirana, Figueres – all of these cities across Europe and North Africa experienced their hottest days on record.

Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador – all saw multiple temperature records broken. Parts of the Middle East exceeded 150 degrees – near the most intense heat that the human body can survive. It’s winter right now in South America, but that hasn’t stopped temperatures from exceeding 100 degrees in some places.

And it’s not just that temperatures have been soaring on land. Our oceans have never been warmer. Right now, 44% of the world’s oceans are experiencing a marine heat wave. The Mediterranean Sea is experiencing its hottest temperatures on record, more than 9 degrees hotter than average in some places. South of Miami, waters reached 101 degrees. You’re supposed to find temperatures like that in a hot tub, not the ocean.

OK, so it’s hot. But how do we know this heat is so unusual? Couldn’t this just be part of a natural cycle going back millions of years? Is there really a link between extreme heat and human activity?

It is true that the Earth’s temperature does change a lot over millions of years. In fact, scientists believe that about 125,000 years ago it may have been even warmer than it is right now. What is disturbing, however, is that temperatures are rising much faster now than at any time in the past two million years.

Scientists look at a lot of things – gas trapped in ice, tree rings, glaciers, pollen remains, even changes in the Earth’s orbit – to study the natural changes in our climate going back millions of years. What these natural changes tell us is that it normally takes thousands of years for the earth to warm just a couple of degrees. The temperature increases we’ve seen in just the past century should have taken almost a thousand years.

Over the past 100 years, we’ve warmed the planet 10 times more quickly than anything we see in the natural record. Over the next 100 years, we’re on track to warm the planet 20 times faster than anything we see in the natural record. Bottom line: Our planet is warming up much more rapidly than in the past and entering into a very dangerous period for human well-being.

OK, so it’s hot and it’s getting hotter very quickly. What does this have to do with carbon emissions?

The answer is that scientists who look at the natural changes in our climate going back millions of years can see that temperature is closely linked to the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. Carbon goes up, temperatures go up.

And carbon is going up – carbon levels have increased 100 times faster than normal since the beginning of the industrial revolution. At the same time, global temperatures have increased nearly two degrees. What changed at the beginning of the industrial revolution? We began burning fossil fuels, which released a huge amount of carbon into our atmosphere. Carbon went up, and temperatures followed.

OK, so it’s hot and it’s getting hotter very quickly, and those rising temperatures are closely linked to the use of fossil fuels. What does this mean for us?

It means that rising temperatures create more flooding, extreme weather, droughts, wildfires and disease. And that means more human suffering, death, mass migrations and international instability. We’re seeing these impacts right now all around the world.

Near the end of last year, the United States experienced five 1,000-year flood events in five weeks. My state of Vermont just experienced its worst flooding since 1927 – damaging 4,000 homes. Canada is experiencing its worst wildfire season on record with smoke from Quebec creating unhealthy air conditions in large parts of the United States.

Last summer’s heat waves killed more than 60,000 people in Europe alone. Beijing recently recorded its heaviest rainfall in at least 140 years, forcing nearly one million people to relocate. Iran just announced a two-day public holiday, shutting down banks, schools and public agencies because of unprecedented heat which exceeded 123 degrees. In poverty-stricken African countries like Sudan, Madagascar and Somalia, drought and floods have cut food production, leading to a major increase in hunger.

Climate change will not only impact the physical well-being of humans, it will also have enormous economic implications. The Deloitte Economics Institute estimates that if left unchecked climate change could cost the global economy $178 trillion over the next 50 years as a result of lower productivity and employment, food and water scarcity and worsening health and well-being. We’ll also have to spend huge amounts of money repairing the damage that extreme weather causes.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that we can still avoid the worst impacts of climate change, save a great deal of money, and make our energy grid more resilient by transitioning away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Right now, wind and solar energy are the least expensive forms of new energy generation. Period. They’re cheaper than coal, and cheaper than natural gas. There is a reason why, despite enormous opposition from the fossil fuel industry, a conservative state like Texas has increased its solar capacity by more than 500% over the past three years.

Renewable energy also offers opportunities for families to save money. With rooftop solar, for example, you can generate electricity right at home and cut your electricity bills by 80% or more. That’s why I recently passed legislation to make it easier for low- and moderate-income families to install solar on their homes.

I understand that transitioning away from fossil fuels is a contentious and difficult issue and will meet enormous opposition from Big Oil and other special interests. I also understand that it is not just an American issue, and that China (currently the world’s major carbon emitter) and countries throughout the world will have to come together with us to make the cuts in carbon emissions that the health of the planet requires. Whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together.

While the path forward to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future for planet Earth will not be easy, and mistakes will certainly be made, the choice we face is pretty clear. Either we maintain the status quo and continue to see more heat waves, drought, floods and extreme weather disturbances or we move away from fossil fuels and do our best to make sure that the planet we leave our kids and future generations is healthy and habitable.

Frankly, this is not a difficult choice. This is a moral responsibility.

Benny

Benny

Remember, I said IL would also be watching this election – even though it is not contiguous to OH. IN just passed a 6 weeks bill in June. That means people from OH are coming to IL already for abortion care.

Benny

Dave Dayen

It’s Natural That People Feel Bad About the Economy Right Now

Unemployment is at historic lows. The economy is growing more than expected. Inflation is coming down, which is pushing real wages up. Consumer spending is rolling along. Some sectors of manufacturing construction are skyrocketing. And several measures, like economic growth and prime-age employment, have actually rebounded to their trends from before the 2008 financial crisis, an almost unthinkable scenario just a few years ago. Yet The Wall Street Journal, Politico, The New York Times, Politico again, and The Wall Street Journal again all agree: None of this is catching on with the public.

The evidence for this ranges from random interviews at convenience stores to public polling. In a July CBS News survey, nearly three times as many people say they are falling behind economically as those who say they’re getting ahead, and 65 percent view the economy as bad, even as a plurality view the job market as good. A CNN poll from the same time period has negative opinions on the economy outweighing the positive ones by nearly 3 to 1. Consumer confidence is both at its highest level in two years and also around the same level of the Great Recession.

Viewed from 10,000 feet, with a run of good economic statistics and a run of bad economic impressions, it seems that perceptions have come unmoored from reality. But it’s a pretty logical outcome if you think it through. When people are mad about the economy, they tend to stay mad for a while, and they’re even justified in doing so. The Biden re-election team needs to hope that the mood will shift in time for fall 2024—which may depend on whether anything else gets in the way.

The dominant economic story in the country during the Biden presidency is the spike in inflation. While the jobs numbers are prodigious, changes in employment by definition affect a smaller number of people than the price of everything, which affects everyone.

When inflation “goes away,” that doesn’t mean that every price reverts back to its previous level. For the most part, the rate of price increases just levels off. Anyone pissed off about prices at the grocery store is still going to be pissed off, because they’re still high relative to where they were in 2021. In fact, companies continued to raise prices on food in the second quarter of this year, even as supply disruptions eased. An opportunistic trend of volume dropping and profits rising, which means that companies are taking more margin per unit, has taken hold. We may finally be seeing the limits of this profit-skimming, however; Wall Street investors are starting to punish companies that aren’t increasing sales. If companies chase volume with discounts, consumers will see some relief.

The main prices that have fallen already are on gas and energy, but that has ended, in part because of the ongoing heat wave, which prevents refineries from running at full capacity and increases demand for air-conditioning. The positive trends on consumer sentiment are if anything going to go down in the near term, as the most publicly visible posted prices in the country rise.

It seems that the pandemic has created a psychological mass-FOMO (fear of missing out) event in America.

Meanwhile, interest rates have remained at levels mostly unseen in the past couple of decades. They almost certainly will either stay there or go higher for the remainder of the year. If you are in the market for a car, you’re going to pay much more to finance it. If you’re buying a house, there isn’t much inventory for sale, because those selling don’t want to get a new mortgage at these rates. If you do find something to buy, the interest costs are eye-watering. The same is true for ordinary consumer loans. Anyone trying to get a home equity loan or refinance their mortgage, to pull money out of their real estate, will pay a stiff penalty. One amateur model of consumer sentiment sees high interest rates as the biggest single factor in public pessimism.

The whole of Biden’s Build Back Better Act could have eased some of these strains, by reducing costs of child care (now one-fifth of household budgets for the majority of parents according to a new report), housing, and family formation through the expanded Child Tax Credit. But none of that passed, and most of the temporary safety-net benefits from the pandemic have gone away. What’s left of Bidenomics has long time lags: Manufacturing plants aren’t built overnight, bridges aren’t repaired instantly. Of course it won’t trigger an immediate reaction among the public.

So if all of this is true, why is consumer spending still robust? It seems that the pandemic has created a psychological mass-FOMO (fear of missing out) event in America. For a couple of years, a lot of the country was determined to avoid COVID and stay in their homes, or was at least more cautious. That created pent-up demand for leisure activities. In 2023, with the pandemic out of the public consciousness, travel spending is up, restaurant spending is significantly up, and the country is experiencing twin record-breaking entertainment phenomena with Barbenheimer and the Taylor Swift tour. After two years cooped up inside, the desire for humans to have communal experiences is roaring back.

How is all of this being financed? Nearly half of all credit card holders are carrying balances from month to month, and 54 million cardholders have been in debt for at least a year. If you’re spending more on fun, you have less for everything else, so you’re borrowing at high rates and you’re financially stressed. (It should be said that delinquency rates for credit cards are down, which is a good sign.) And other goods are being sacrificed for the good times; while manufacturing construction is up, manufacturing output has actually been down for nine months.

There are other issues, including the fact that half of the country has their own media ecosystem, which has been drumming into their heads since January 20, 2021, that the economy is on the verge of total collapse. And I haven’t highlighted some positive indicators, like higher wages for low-earners (from both minimum-wage increases and a reshuffling of jobs into higher-paid positions). But on balance, we have an economy with higher prices, higher interest rates for borrowing, and frustration from people who want to do more and don’t have the money to do it. There’s a lot of talk of a “soft landing” that avoids recession, but that’s still a landing, at a lower spot than if you’re in midair. People would rather be flying high.

It takes time for these sentiments to fade, even when the economy really has turned around. Ronald Reagan didn’t see the benefits of a stronger economy until a year or so after unemployment began to fall; Bill Clinton and Barack Obama saw the same dynamic. Those rebounds were slow, about a point a month between the summer before their re-elections and Election Day. (Obama’s was even slower, as his economy rebounded more slowly.) You could see this kind of imperceptible change for Biden, if consumer confidence continues on its upward path.

But a lot could disrupt the upward swing. The Fed’s high rates have taken a toll on bank lending, which can depress investment. They could react to rising energy prices by spiking them even more, creating a vicious cycle. House Republicans are almost certainly going to shut down the government at the end of September, and the combination of that and whatever the resolution is, potentially through large spending cuts, could damage the economy. And 45 million borrowers are going to get student loan bills to pay in October for the first time in over three years (though in the details they have removed the consequences for nonpayment for a year, which should mitigate this impact).

The administration is not backing down from touting economic progress, as a recent slide deck sent to reporters shows. They are so far unafraid of seeming out of touch by focusing on the gains and ignoring the losses. It’s natural to get nervous wondering whether this bet will pay off, and to second-guess the strategy; Democrats have turned that into a sport over the years. But past presidencies have shown that this path can lead back to the White House for a second term. It just takes time to work.

wi65

The most important inflation item is the cost of food for millions of Americans. Between Greedflation- Shrinkflation the price of food has only slowed down, prices seem to keep going up albeit at a slower pace. Granted very few items have come down in price but nowhere near to what they were in 2021. People gotta eat and will shell out the money by sacrificing other bills causing even more economic issues.

Benny

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/no-labels-leader-says-group-would-pull-back-from-2024-run-if-trump-is-poised-to-win/ar-AA1eXVz4

Former Republican Rep. Fred Upton of the No Labels project said his group would not run a third party presidential candidate if Donald Trump was on track to win in 2024.

Jacqueline Alemany of The Washington Post asked Upton about the group’s plan in an interview on Tuesday.

“If you don’t want to be part of an effort that helps re-elect Trump, will No Labels pledge to abort their effort to put up a party candidate?” Alemany wondered.

“I think there’s been some statements from the No Labels folks saying that if they saw that this was an effort to give Trump a victory outside of the margin of error, that at the end of the day, we would pull back and not see a ticket go forward,” Upton explained.

“So we really have until July or August next year to see how things all shape out, let alone see the candidates raise the money that they would have to raise to be able to compete in a fair way come November.”

Wasn’t Fred Upton the GOP guy Biden campaigned for in 2017 or 2018?