Progressive Breakfast for March 22

Morning Message Sam Pizzigati

Moneyball in a Deeply Unequal Age

Since 1871, over 19,000 athletes have played baseball at the major league level. Not one has played any better, most agree, than 27-year-old outfielder Mike Trout. Trout’s otherworldly talent now has a price-tag: a 12-year, $426.5-million contract with the Los Angeles Angels, the biggest player pay deal in pro sports history. That contract has lots of people smiling, and many of them sit in the executive suites of America’s largest corporations. Corporate CEOs love to see big paydays for big-time athletes. Every million a ballplayer makes seems to give top execs and their cheerleaders still another justification, another excuse, for stratospheric CEO pay. How can we rate as “overpaid,” goes the corporate chief executive line, when even a second-string second basemen can take home a few million bucks a year?

WI Judge Blocks GOP Power Grab

Wisconsin judge blocks Republicans’ lame-duck power grab. WaPo: “A Wisconsin judge on Thursday blocked several lightning-fast actions in December by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature to limit the power of its incoming governor, Democrat Tony Evers, and preserve policies implemented by his predecessor, Scott Walker. The GOP has tried similar power-stripping efforts after losing statewide elections in North Carolina and Michigan. Out­going Michigan governor Rick Snyder vetoed some but not all of the bills passed in December. And in 2016, North Carolina’s outgoing Republican governor, Pat Mc­Crory, defeated by Democrat Roy Cooper, signed a number of lame-duck measures, some of which have been successfully challenged in court. In Wisconsin, the legislature acted in what is known as an “extraordinary session,” called with little notice. It lasted two days and one night and sparked heated protests.”

Gillum Aims To Enroll 1m FL Voters

Gillum’s drive aims to register one million new Florida voters to help serve Trump ‘eviction notice’ in 2020. Common Dreams: “Months after garnering national attention with his campaign for governor of Florida, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum unveiled his next political campaign Wednesday—one focused on his state and the future of the Democratic Party as a whole. With his ‘Bring It Home Florida’ initiative, Gillum plans to register at least one million voters across his state before the 2020 election, increasing the chances that Democrats will be able to take the White House from President Donald Trump. Gillum argued that Florida is “uniquely situated” to ensure a decisive victory against Trump, citing the state’s 29 electoral votes, 1.4 million former felons who won back their voting rights in a referendum on Amendment 4 last November, and more than four million unregistered but eligible voters. ‘Now, how many states can you say, by themselves, have the ability to deny this man a return to the White House?’ Gillum asked a crowd in Miami Gardens on Wednesday. ‘We are uniquely situated to issue that eviction notice.'”

SCOTUS To Rule On Gerrymandering In NC, MD

Death blow to partisan gerrymandering? Supreme Court has a chance to make all votes count
. USA Today:
“The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in cases that could lead to historic safeguards on the fundamental constitutional right of all Americans to have their votes count. In considering a Republican gerrymander in North Carolina and a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland, the court has a golden opportunity to rein in partisanship and change the way congressional district maps are drawn across the nation. And what an opportunity it is. In North Carolina, Republican legislative leaders openly bragged that they were drawing a plan that helped Republicans maximize discrimination against Democrats and waste as many Democratic votes as possible. Voters there say the plan worked exactly as expected — and its results have discouraged political organizing and even voting itself. They tell stories about decreasing competitiveness in a state that is known for being a purple ‘battleground.’ In Maryland, the case involves a single congressional district. The evidence is clear there as well. Then-Governor Martin O’Malley said in legal proceedings that the Democrats were trying to make it harder for Republicans to elect a single member of Congress — specifically targeting a Republican incumbent to try and push him out.”

Trump Funneled $1.3m From Campaign Into Business Income

Trump has now shifted $1.3 Million of campaign-donor money into his business. Forbes: “Donald Trump has charged his own reelection campaign $1.3 million for rent, food, lodging and other expenses since taking office, according to a Forbes analysis of the latest campaign filings. And although outsiders have contributed more than $50 million to the campaign, the billionaire president hasn’t handed over any of his own cash. The net effect: $1.3 million of donor money has turned into $1.3 million of Trump money. In December, Forbes reported on the first $1.1 million that President Trump moved from his campaign into his business. Since then, his campaign filed additional documentation showing that it spent another $180,000 at Trump-owned properties in the final three months of 2018.”

What Billionaires Mean When They Talk About ‘Freedom’

What Republicans and billionaires really mean when they talk about “freedom”. Salon: “America is having a heated debate about the meaning of the word socialism. We’d be better served if, instead, we were debating the meaning of freedom. The words freedom and liberty are iconic in American culture — probably more so than with any other nation because they’re so intrinsic to the literature, declarations and slogans of our nation’s founding. The irony — of the nation founded on the world’s greatest known genocide (the systematic state murder of tens of millions of Native Americans) and over three centuries of legalized slavery and a century and a half of oppression and exploitation of the descendants of those slaves — is extraordinary. It presses us all to bring true freedom and liberty to all Americans. But what do those words mean? The billionaire class and their wholly owned Republican politicians keep trying to tell us that ‘freedom means the government doesn’t provide any of the things FDR fought so hard to offer to Americans through the New Deal. Instead, they tell us (as Ron Paul famously did in a GOP primary debate years ago) that, if we’re broke and sick, we’re “free” to die like a feral dog in the gutter. Freedom is homelessness, in the minds of the billionaires who own the GOP.”