Jon Queally

'The Walton family is the real welfare queen': GAO report details how taxpayers subsidize corporate giants' low wages

Pinpointing a reality denounced as "morally obscene" by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a new government study shows how some of the nation's largest and most profitable corporations—including Walmart, McDonald's, Dollar General, and Amazon—feast upon taxpayer money by paying their employees such low wages that huge numbers of those workers throughout the year are forced to rely on public assistance programs such as Medicaid and food assistance just to keep themselves and their families afloat.

According to a statement from Sanders' office, the study he commissioned the Government Accountability Office to carry out—titled "Millions of Full-time Workers Rely on Federal Health Care and Food Assistance Programs"—found that an estimated 5.7 million Medicaid enrollees and 4.7 million SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients who worked full-time for 50 or more weeks in 2018 earned wages so low that they qualified for these federal benefits. In addition, an estimated 12 million wage-earning adults enrolled in Medicaid and 9 million wage-earning adults living in households receiving SNAP benefits worked at some point in 2018.

Upon the study's release Wednesday, Warren Gunnels, staff director and policy adviser for Sen. Sanders, tweeted: "The real looting in America is the Walton family becoming $63 billion richer during a pandemic, while paying wages so low that 14,541 of their workers in 9 states need food stamps—all subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. Yes. The Walton family is the real welfare queen in America."

According to the Washington Post:, based on the GAO report:

Walmart was one of the top four employers of SNAP and Medicaid beneficiaries in every state. McDonald's was in the top five of employers with employees receiving federal benefits in at least nine states.

In the nine states that responded about SNAP benefits—Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington—Walmart was found to have employed about 14,500 workers receiving the benefit, followed by McDonald's with 8,780, according to Sanders's team. In six states that reported Medicaid enrollees, Walmart again topped the list, with 10,350 employees, followed by McDonald's with 4,600.

In Georgia, for example, Walmart employed an estimated 3,959 workers on Medicaid—an estimated 2.1 percent of the total of non-elderly, non-disabled people in the state receiving the benefit. McDonald's was next on the list, employing 1,480 who received Medicaid, or 0.8 percent of the total of non-elderly, non-disabled people on the program.

"At a time when huge corporations like Walmart and McDonald's are making billions in profits and giving their CEOs tens of millions of dollars a year, they're relying on corporate welfare from the federal government by paying their workers starvation wages," said Sanders in a statement. "That is morally obscene."

With the individual wealth of high-ranking executives and members of billionaire families like the Walton's, who own Walmart, soaring even as front-line, minimum wage employees and their families struggling to stay afloat amid the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, Sanders argues that the stark contrast should be a wakeup call for those who have refused to see how unjust and economically backward it is for the federal government, meaning taxpayers, to subsidize the cruel wages that massive profitable companies force their workers to accept.

"U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize some of the largest and most profitable corporations in America," said Sanders. "It is time for the owners of Walmart, McDonald's and other large corporations to get off of welfare and pay their workers a living wage."

"No one in this country should live in poverty," Sanders added. "No one should go hungry. No one should be unable to get the medical care they need. It is long past time to increase the federal minimum wage from a starvation wage of $7.25 an hour to $15, and guarantee health care to all Americans as a human right."

'Naked political ploy': Outrage after Barr memo aims to bolster baseless Trump fraud allegations

U.S. Attorney General William Barr came under fire overnight after issuing a memo to federal prosecutors that critics warn aims to bolster President Donald Trump's continued baseless claims that rampant voter fraud—which doesn't factually exist—cost him reelection.

According to the Huffington Post:

Barr's memo, sent to U.S. attorneys across the country, authorizes an exception to Justice Department guidelines, telling top federal prosecutors they could "pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions in certain cases." Barr wrote that he'd already done so in specific instances.
"Such inquiries and reviews may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State," Barr wrote. "Any investigation of claims of irregularities that, if true, would clearly not impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State should normally be deferred until after the election certification process is completed."

The reversal of longstanding DOJ policy—especially under circumstances when no allegations of significant fraud have been substantiated and as Trump continues his refusal to concede or acknowledge the vote tabulations which show he lost the electoral college and popular vote tallies by significant margins—was seen by legal experts as a brazen effort by Barr to legitimatize the president's baseless and dangerous narrative about the integrity of the election.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, tweeted:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was unsparing in her rebuke:

In response to the memo (pdf), Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, denounced the directive as a partisan effort to give comfort to the president's baseless claims while doing serious damage to the reputation of the DOJ as a non-political arm of the government.

"We condemn Attorney General's Barr post-election attempt to weaponize the Justice Department to breathe life into President Trump's baseless and unsubstantiated claims of vote fraud," Clarke said in a statement late Monday night. "Barr's attempt to interject and activate federal prosecutors is clearly part of a coordinated attempt to sow chaos and discord, and undermine confidence in the electoral outcome."

"Americans," she continued, "will see this move for what it is—a naked political ploy and it will not succeed. This move is especially astounding given the Justice Department's deafening silence regarding countless documented instances of voter suppression and voting discrimination this season."

Speaking with the New York Times, Stephen I. Vladeck, a University of Texas School of Law professor, said the memo is deeply troubling. "It would be problematic enough if Barr were reversing longstanding Justice Department guidance because of significant, substantiated claims of misconduct—that could presumably be handled at the local and state level," Vladeck said. "But to do so when there is no such evidence—and when the president's clear strategy is to delegitimize the results of a proper election—is one of the more problematic acts of any attorney general in my lifetime."

Following Barr's issuance of the memo, the Times' DOJ correspondent Katie Benner reported that Richard Pilger, the DOJ official who heads the voter fraud division, resigned his position in objection to the orders it contained:

Pilger will remain in the DOJ, but stepped aside from his job as head of the Election Crimes Branch.

According to the Washington Post, "people said Barr had first broached a similar idea some weeks ago and that political leadership in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, of which the Election Crimes Branch is a part, pushed back. Those officials were blindsided when Barr's memo was released on Monday, the people said."

'Concede and get the hell out': Anger mounts as Trump refuses to accept defeat

Mixing with the jubilation shared by tens of millions across the U.S. and the world generated by President-elect Joe Biden's declared victory this weekend, increasing levels of anger and frustration were voiced Sunday as President Donald Trump continued his refusal to accept the election results that show he was soundly defeated.

Even as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivered acceptance speeches Saturday night, Trump bucked the tradition of congratulating the winners and instead spent the evening tweeting out false claims that he "won the election" and making evidence-free allegations of fraud.

As CNN reports:

Trump so far has refused to accept the election results, waging a legal strategy to contest them in courts and issuing false allegations of fraud. There are currently no plans to invite Biden to the Oval Office for the traditional meeting between the incoming and outgoing presidents, a historic sign of the peaceful transfer of power. Aides instead are working to craft ways for the President to feel validated even in loss, including through more rallies.
But after claiming publicly and falsely that he won the election, sources say Trump is not denying the outcome privately. And two people said Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law and senior adviser who oversaw his campaign from the White House, has approached Trump about conceding the election.

On Sunday, as the lies and deceit by the president continued, many Trump critics began to lose their patience.

"It is obscene for a president of the United States to talk of a stolen election when he has not put up any meaningful evidence of anyone stealing the election," said Steven Greenhouse, former labor reporter for the New York Times in a Sunday morning tweet. "The President needs to stop putting his narcissistic selfishness over what is good for our nation and our democracy."

Stephen King, the famed novelist and an avowed Democrat, was even more blunt in his proclamation. "You lost, you miserable self-entitled infantile fucker," King declared. "Concede and get the hell out."

In a letter to editor at the Guardian on Sunday, reader Pete Dorey in the U.K. said he fears that Trump's "disputing of the validity of the election result is much more insidious than him simply being a bad loser." Dorey wrote:

By repeatedly denouncing the accuracy of the outcome, even before it has been confirmed, [Trump] is giving his supporters a green light to spend the next four years blatantly defying a Biden government, and generally causing public mayhem, on the grounds that the Democrats "stole" the election from Trump, and that the new government thus has no democratic authority of mandate.

As such, I fear that mass protests, the occupation of public buildings, and intimidation (especially of black communities) by gun-toting Trump supporters, will become a routine occurrence, justified on the grounds that ignoring the "undemocratic" Biden government is the duty of true "American patriots."

If tough punitive action is taken against them, they will claim that democracy and liberty are being suppressed by "radical leftists" in Washington. But if their mayhem is ignored, they will claim that law and order is being undermined due a weak government in thrall to "political correctness" and "snowflake liberals."
Or am I just paranoid?

Ahead of Biden being declared the projected winner by nearly every major news outlet in the country on Saturday, his campaign spokeperson Andrew Bates on Friday said their team was not ultimately worried if Trump—when defeated—refused to leave the White House voluntarily.

"The United States government," said Bates, "is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House."

Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans don't think Democrats 'have the stones to play hardball'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had just three initial words to say Monday night after Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as the latest Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court following her confirmation by a 52 to 48 margin in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate earlier in the evening.

"Expand the court," tweeted Ocasio-Cortez, a sentiment widely shared as the only just recourse after the GOP under President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rammed through the third justice for the nation's highest court in less than four years.

"Republicans do this because they don't believe Dems have the stones to play hardball like they do," the New York Democrat added subsequently. "And for a long time they've been correct. But do not let them bully the public into thinking their bulldozing is normal but a response isn't. There is a legal process for expansion."

Ocasio-Cortez is correct. Democrats—if they are able to regain control of the Senate and the White House, and also retain the House, in next week's national elections—would have the power to make sweeping changes to the Supreme Court, including increasing the number of seats from the current nine. As

MarketPlace recently noted: "Nine isn't a number that's set in stone—the Constitution doesn't state how many justices must be on the Supreme Court. There were originally six justices on the court, with that number fluctuating throughout the country's history."

Shortly after Ocasio-Cortez's tweet, her House colleague and fellow progressive Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) re-shared the message.

"Remember that Republicans have lost 6 of the last 7 popular votes, but have appointed 6 of the last 9 justices," added Omar. "By expanding the court we fix this broken system and have the court better represent the values of the American people."

Author and activist Naomi Klein joined about 350,000 others (as of this writing) by sharing, commenting on, or liking the message on the social media platform.

And other progressives with similar messages followed.

"If the current batch of Democrats won't pack the court, we're going to replace them and do it ourselves," said radio host Benjamin Dixon.

Winnie Wong, political strategist and former advisor to the Bernie Sanders president campaign, tweeted: "Pack the court. Abolish the filibuster."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said that while Republicans "are popping champagne tonight to celebrate how they for shoved aside the wishes of the American people to steal a Supreme Court seat and impose their radical agenda on the country," Democrats are not about to give up the fight.

"Every option needs to be on the table to restore the Supreme Court's credibility and integrity," said Warren. "Every option to expand our democracy. Every option to ensure that all Americans have equal justice in our courts and representation in our institutions."

Following Barrett's confirmation vote, progressive groups vowed to mobilize en masse nationwide to win the November elections and begin the immediate work of undoing the untold damage wrought by the Trump presidency and GOP control of Congress.

"By ramming through a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court that could be the deciding vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic, Senate Republicans have once again shown that they care more about power than people's lives and livelihoods," said Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Stand Up America. "Now, they will answer to the voters."

"The only way to protect our health care, our democracy, and our fundamental rights is to elect Joe Biden and flip the Senate in eight days," Eldridge said. "This illegitimate power grab leaves Democrats no choice but to reform our courts next year, including enacting term limits and expanding the number of seats to restore balance to the judiciary."

Demand Justice, which has focused on stopping the rightward shift of the judiciary under Trump, vowed to fight back with a bold set of progressive reforms to the courts—including expansion:

"Amy Coney Barrett is a threat to the health and safety of millions of Americans," said Meagan Hatcher Mays, director of democracy policy at Indivisible, the progressive advocacy group. "Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate are a threat to the health and safety of our very democracy. And despite what McConnell may claim from the Senate floor, this isn't over. If he thinks that we 'won't be able to do much about this,' he should think again. We can and will defeat his disastrous agenda and restore balance to the courts. It all starts on November 3."

Trump hold for super-spreader rally in Wisconsin — despite warnings of otherwise 'preventable deaths'

With the state of Wisconsin considered "an epicenter of the pandemic in the United States" and an internal White House memo just days ago putting it in the "red zone" for Covid-19 spread, President Donald Trump is being freshly accused of "callous disregard for the lives and health of others" in the state by holding a Saturday rally that public health experts warn will likely lead to death and further illness that otherwise could be prevented.

Saturday's rally is taking place even though top public health officials within Trump's administration warned this week that such events would kill more people. As the Guardian reports:

Earlier this week, Trump's own White House task force issued a warning to Wisconsin, which is considered to be in the "red zone" for high infection rates, saying people should avoid crowds if they want do not want to cause "preventable deaths."

The warning was included in a weekly report issued to governors but not made public. It was reported by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), an investigative non-profit in Washington.

With the rally set to take place in a rural area outside of Janesville, it was reported that attendees would be forced to take shuttle buses—only increasing their exposure to the virus—to get to the event site.

Just days ago, the state was forced to open an emergency field hospital outside Milwaukee due to the surge in cases. On Wednesday, Julie Willems Van Dijk, Deputy Secretary of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, explained to the Capital Times that the facility was opened because Wisconsin's overall health care system was "in crisis" mode. "Many of our ICUs are strained," Van Dijk said. "And every region of our state has one or more hospitals reporting current and imminent staff shortages."

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, decried Trump's decision to go through with the rally, calling it a potential "super-spreader" event that will cost people their lives.

"Wisconsin has had over 10,000 COVID cases in three days," Pocan tweeted Friday night, and asked Trump: "Why are you still holding a super-spreader rally here?"

Pocan later tweeted a video detailing Trump's callous disregard and calling on Wisconsites, regardless of political affiliation, to "stay home; avoid large gatherings; wear a mask" in order to stay healthy and prevent further spread of the virus.

Pocan was hardly alone in characterizing the Wisconsin rally this way. Kara Purviance, chair of the Rock County Board of Supervisors in Wisconsin, appeared on CNN Friday night and also condemned the president's dangerous decision to hold the weekend rally despite record infection rates in the state:

Speaking with CPI for its reporting on the White House's internal task force memo, William Hanage, a Harvard epidemiologist said the fact that the Trump campaign is making rally attendees agree to liability waivers in case they later become sick with Covid-19, "indicates they know the reality because if they weren't worried about it then they wouldn't bother" having people sign them.

"Given the rates of disease currently in Wisconsin," Hanage told CPI, "we can say pretty categorically this is going to produce opportunity for transmission."

Wisconsin's Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Friday lambasted Trump for coming to the state for a campaign stop even as he has refused her repeated requests for increased medical equipment that have been in short supply for months. On Friday evening, she tweeted:

"On April 13, 2020, I wrote to you on behalf of Wisconsinites calling for the supplies needed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic," Baldwin wrote to Trump in a letter sent to the White House on Friday. "In my letter, I urged you to act to deliver this assistance swiftly. It is now six months later, and Wisconsin is still experiencing supply shortages, which couldn't come at a worse time. Wisconsin is currently experiencing one of the most serious outbreaks in the nation, and health care providers continue to share concerns about supply shortages. It is long past time for you to show leadership and take action to support our state with the supplies that we need and deserve."

Kamala Harris team strikes back after David Perdue's 'incredibly racist' attack on her name

Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia was denounced for being "incredibly racist" Friday night after he willfully mispronounced the name of his Senate colleague Kamala Harris, the Democrat from California and her party's vice presidential nominee, at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump.

Perdue—currently in a heated reelection campaign of his own against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff—was just completing his introduction for Trump at the rally in Macon, Georgia when he referred to Harris as "Kah-mah-lah? Kah-MAH-lah? Kamala-mala-mala" and then said: "I don't know. Whatever."


Sen. David Perdue mispronounces Sen. Kamala Harris's first name

While the Perdue campaign said the GOP senator "didn't mean anything by it," it was clear from the laughter by the predominantly white Republican crowd that the overt dogwhistle had its intended effect.

As the Washington Post's White Hosue bureau chief Phil Rucker noted, any feigned ignorance should not be taken seriously. "Perdue has served with Kamala Harris in the Senate for four years," tweeted Rucker. "He knows how to properly pronounce her name."

"Well that is incredibly racist," said Sabrina Singh, Harris' press secretary, in a tweet responding to Perdue's comment. "Vote him out," Singh added, "and vote for Ossoff."

According to CNN:

Kamala is pronounced "'comma-la,' like the punctuation mark," according to the California senator. Harris wrote in the preface of her 2019 memoir, "The Truths We Hold," "First, my name is pronounced 'comma-la,' like the punctuation mark. It means 'lotus flower,' which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flower rising above the surface while its roots are planted firmly in the river bottom."
If elected in November, Harris will become the nation's first Indian-American vice president, the first Black vice president, the first female vice president and the first Jamaican-American vice president. Harris' father was born in Jamaica and her late mother was born in India.

For his part, Ossoff denounced the remarks as part of pattern of discriminatory attacks by Perdue and said Georgians and other Americans "are better than this." Later Friday night, Ossoff appeared on MSNBC where he further characterized the attack on Harris as the "kind of vile, race-baiting trash talk" that Trump "has unleashed from sitting Republican members of the Senate."

In a statement, Nikema Williams, state chairwoman of Georgia's Democratic Party, said "Perdue's intentionally disrespectful mispronunciation of Senator Harris's name is a bigoted and racist tactic straight from President Trump's handbook. He owes Georgians an apology for his offensive display."

A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday showed Osoff, who had been trailing, moving ahead of Perdue with a 6 percentage point lead (51% to 45%), though poll averages show the contenders in more or less a dead heat with just over weeks until Election Day.

Progressive critics warn against applauding social media ban of 'garbage' NY Post story about Hunter Biden

Press freedom advocates and progressive journalists continued to sound the alarm Thursday following moves by both Twitter and Facebook to ban or restrict sharing of controversial New York Post reporting published earlier this week that claimed to uncover new details about the past work of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, based on emails and documents supposedly found by a computer repairman on an abandoned laptop and then given to Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney.

As the Guardian reports:

In an unprecedented step against a major news publication, Twitter blocked users from posting links to the Post story or photos from the unconfirmed report. Users attempting to share the story were shown a notice saying: "We can't complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful." Users clicking or retweeting a link already posted to Twitter are shown a warning the "link may be unsafe."

Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Intercept, was among those critics Wednesday who said that while the reporting may itself have little or no merit, the decision by Twitter to block users' ability to share the Post's article—and to shut down the right-wing newspaper's main Twitter account—was a counterproductive and troubling move with long-term implications that should not be overlooked.

"This whole thing is an absolute gift to the right wing. It was a garbage story that wasn't going anyway, just showed Hunter doing the corruption we know about," Grim argued in a tweet. "Now the right will use this censorship to further delegitimize the election."

Right on cue late Thurdsay morning, Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas were among those charging that Twitter and Facebook, by their actions against the Post's story, were guilty of rigging the election in favor of the Democrats.

Grim's colleague at The Intercept, co-founder Glenn Greenwald, also let loose with his criticisms in a series of tweets Wednesday and again Thursday morning. For his part, in addition to other implications, Greenwald warned that all kinds of crucial reporting based on "unauthorized materials" would be in future jeopardy if such a policy by powerful media platforms was to remain unchallenged.

As one user said in response to Grim's tweet, the policy is not likely to maintain its aim only at reported pieces by right-wing outfits like the NY Post. "Today it was New York Post," the user said, "tomorrow it'll be Jacobin."

Greenwald also condemned self-identified liberals who were applauding Twitter's moves seemingly based on the sole fact that the actions were taken against a right-wing paper that published a story potentially damaging to Democrats. Such applause, he warned, misses the bigger implications of powerful tech corporations in the era of social media having such outsized impact on the public's ability to access information.

"Amazing how liberals are now full-on free market libertarians—let large corporations do whatever they want!—and have no understanding of or interest in monopoly power," Greenwald said.

While Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday came forth to say that the company's handling of the story was "unacceptable," the fault he articulated was not the blocking of content itself but that the "communications around our actions... was not great."

Weighing in on the debate Thursday morning, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who serves the district representing Silicon Valley, said he believed critics like Grim and Greenwald are making valid points but added that he still has questions about where the line should be drawn by platforms like Twitter or Facebook on so-called illegally obtained materials.

In direct response to Khanna's posted concerns and questions, Greenwald wrote: "That one can imagine a case where Facebook or Twitter validly block content—publication of the address or nude photos of a private citizen taken without consent—doesn't justify the broad rule Twitter invoked or repression of this story about the Bidens."

Meanwhile, Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, argued that the problem with Twitter's actions has nothing to do with how the company has communicated its reasoning. Similar to Greenwald, Timm warned such a policy—taken to its logical conclusion—would have woeful impacts on free speech and investigative journalism efforts like the Panama Papers project in 2016 which used internal documents—leaked or hacked or otherwise obtained—that exposed a global network of offshore banking operations and money laundering.

"No one really knows for sure, but there was a lot of speculation that the Panama Papers were hacked and then given to journalists," tweeted Timm. "Should Twitter wipe out all those old links too?"

Timm lamented that Twitter's decision will only serve to increase interest in the story—a dynamic that could be considered a backfire, especially if the nature or content of the reporting is, in fact, dubious.

"Now everyone will be talking about the NY Post story for a week instead of a day," Timm tweeted Wednesday night.

Dianne Feinstein sparks calls for her removal after botching Amy Coney Barrett hearings

Angered by her soft approach during this week's confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett—on top of her failure to embrace progressive reforms to the nation's highest court—the head of a progressive judicial watchdog group on Thursday called for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's removal as the leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"It's time for Sen. Feinstein to step down from her leadership position on the Senate Judiciary Committee," said Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, in a statement. "If she won't, her colleagues need to intervene."

During Tuesday's hearing for Barrett's confirmation, Fallon was among the many vocal critics of Feinstein's performance.

In his statement on Thursday, Fallon argued that Feinstein "has undercut Democrats' position at every step of this process, from undermining calls for filibuster and Court reform straight through to thanking Republicans for the most egregious partisan power grab in the modern history of the Supreme Court."

With Republicans set to ram through a vote on Barrett next week—scheduling a committee vote for Thursday and a floor vote in the Senate on Friday—Democrats have proved unable, or in the minds of some unwilling, to do anything to stop it.

As Elie Mystal wrote for The Nation on Thursday, the only solution to the Barrett "debacle" is expanding the court once Democrats win back the Senate.

"The argument for court expansion is often presented as retribution for Republicans messing with the court, first by blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland, now by rushing the appointment of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's successor," noted Mystal. "But there is a higher purpose for court expansion, one that goes beyond avenging Ginsburg and Garland. Expanding the court now—through raw political power, if necessary—is the best way to reform and depoliticize the court for future generations. Expanding the court is the way to save it. It's a lot like breaking a bone to reset the leg."

While progressive voices, and many Democratic lawmakers, have been increasingly strident in their call for increasing the number of the justices on the Supreme Court, Feinstein has not made her position on the subject known. Asked last month by a New York Times reporter if she would support an expansion, Feinstein responded: "Ask me when we win the majority."

But offering his assessment, Slate's Mark Joseph Stern tweeted Thursday that expanding the Supreme Court is the only viable option for Democrats if they want to actually win the kind of future they say they believe in:

For Fallon, Feinstein's failures—from putting decorum before principles during this week's hearings to dismissing a new generation of Democratic activists clamoring for change like she did with Sunrise Movement climate campaigners in her offices last year—can no longer be tolerated.

"If Senate Democrats are going to get their act together on the courts going forward," Fallon said, "they cannot be led by someone who treats Sunrise activists with contempt and the Republican theft of a Supreme Court seat with kid gloves."

Trump-loving right-wing operatives accused of entrapping NC progressive groups to undermine their election work

Major investigations by news outlets in North Carolina published Friday exposed what appears to be a coordinated—and well-funded—effort by right-wing, Trump-supporting operatives who tried to use donations and fake volunteers to infilrate, possibly with the intent to entrap, pro-democracy advocacy groups in the state focused on promoting turnout and election integrity.

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'No one should be fooled' : Here's why Trump's executive order on drug prices is an election year charade

Advocates for lowering drug prices in the United States are raising alarm over an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Sunday that the White House purports would challenge the nation's pharmaceutical industry but which critics say is just an election year ploy to make it look like the president is finally following through on a 2016 campaign promise he has neglected throughout his term.

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