Progressive Breakfast for May 21

Morning Message

NC Teachers Shout 'Listen to Us!' to Lawmakers

Why does it take shutting down thousands of schools to get political leaders’ attention? What is this “dialogue people haven’t been wanting to have”? The truth is people who’ve been deciding education policy have forgotten we live in a democracy. For years, it’s been too easy for politicians to ignore teachers because the gap between what goes on in schools and what gets decided in state capitals and Washington D.C. has gotten way too wide. Teachers in North Carolina, and elsewhere, are reminding us of that.

Houston Police Chief Calls For Gun Control

Houston police chief says he’s ‘hit rock bottom’ after school shooting. CNN: “The police chief said he’s tired of the common refrains after mass shootings that ‘guns aren’t the problem’ and ‘there’s little we can do.’ ‘I know some have strong feelings about gun rights, but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue,’ he said. There have been 22 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed in the US so far this year. That averages out to more than one shooting a week. The shooting at Santa Fe High School on Friday comes months after a massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead in Parkland, Florida. Though Acevedo did not describe what kind of gun reform he’d want to see enacted, he said now is the time to do more than pray.”

Farm Bill Collapses, Roiling GOP

House Farm Bill Collapses Amid Republican Disarray. NYT: “The factional rancor threatening Republicans heading into the midterm elections this fall erupted into the open on Friday when a slugfest among moderates, hard-line conservatives and House leaders over immigration and welfare policy sank the party’s multiyear farm bill. The twice-a-decade measure — which would have imposed strict new work requirements on food aid recipients while maintaining farm subsidies important to rural lawmakers — failed on a 213-to-198 vote. It was a rebuke of Speaker Paul D. Ryan by a key bloc of conservatives over his refusal to schedule an immediate vote on a restrictive immigration bill sponsored by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Republican moderates, for their part, were moving in the opposite direction, shrugging off the pleas of their leaders as they worked toward forcing votes on legislation to protect from deportation young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.The fights were striking, not only because of their intensity but also because of the participants… This time, with their districts dominating the Democrats’ target list for the coming midterm races, the moderates are holding firm to their own demands.”

GOP Races To Appoint Federal Judges

The war over confirming federal judges is heating up again. NPR: “Democrats may hold 49 votes in the Senate but for all practical purposes, they have been completely disarmed when it comes to opposing President Trump’s judicial nominees. Now Republican leaders, worried about possibly losing control of the Senate in the November elections, are racing against the clock to push through as many judicial nominations as they can. But even some of their own members are privately worried that abandoning longtime practices and understandings is undermining the Senate’s constitutional power to provide its advice and consent on judicial nominations.”

Trade War With China “On Hold”

Mnuchin says trade war with China is ‘on hold’. The Hill: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday that a trade war with China is ‘on hold.’ ‘We’re putting the trade war on hold, Mnuchin said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘We have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework,’ he added. The apparent detente comes a day after the U.S. and China released a joint statement saying the two nations agreed to take measures to ‘substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China.'”

WH Threatens To Defund Abortion Services

Trump administration will pull funds from groups that perform abortions or provide referrals. WaPo: “The Trump administration is proposing to bar clinics that provide abortion services or referrals from receiving federal family-planning funds, a far-reaching move that would deprive Planned Parenthood and other women’s health centers of millions of dollars a year. The proposal would require a ‘bright line’ of physical and financial separation between clinics that receive $260 million annually in federal funding and any organization that provides abortions or referrals to abortion clinics. The move delivers on a long-held objective of abortion opponents, who are staunch supporters of President Trump. In a statement Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that it ‘would ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortions’ and that Trump ‘is pleased to support” it.'”

KS Signs Anti-LGBT Adoption Law

Kansas governor signs anti-LGBT adoption bill. Truthout: “Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer signed a bill into law on Friday that will allow adoption agencies to refuse same-sex couples. The bill, known as the Adoption Protection Act, was designed to insulate religious organizations that want to discriminate against the LGBT community. Approved in the Kansas Legislature earlier this month, the bill permits agencies to refuse homes ‘for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement of such child would violate such agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.’ Similar adoption bills are being considered in Oklahoma and Colorado, and at least seven other states have already passed such laws. Some of these laws only apply to organizations that do not receive government funding. The Kansas law extends to agencies operating under taxpayer-funded contracts.”

Income Gap Is Toxic To Democracy

The 9.9 percent is the new American aristocracy. The Atlantic: “The meritocratic class has mastered the old trick of consolidating wealth and passing privilege along at the expense of other people’s children. We are not innocent bystanders to the growing concentration of wealth in our time. We are the principal accomplices in a process that is slowly strangling the economy, destabilizing American politics, and eroding democracy. Our delusions of merit now prevent us from recognizing the nature of the problem that our emergence as a class represents. We tend to think that the victims of our success are just the people excluded from the club. But history shows quite clearly that, in the kind of game we’re playing, everybody loses badly in the end.”