Progressive Breakfast for March 21

Morning Message

There’s Fake News on Your Television, Too

There is increasing public concern about the political manipulation of social media, but there's fake news on your television, too.  And there's about to be more of it, unless something is done to stop the upcoming $3.9 billion purchase of Tribune Media by Sinclair Broadcast Group. If the deal goes through, the hard-right network will reach nearly 70 percent of households in the United States.

Counting Down To New Government Shutdown

Congress stymied on $1.3t bill with days to go before shutdown. Bloomberg: “Congressional Republicans missed another target to unveil a $1.3 trillion spending bill, as talks continued early Wednesday with just days remaining for House and Senate votes to avert a third government shutdown this year. Lawmakers had hoped to announce a bill by the end of the day Tuesday, but disagreements persisted over immigration, border security, tax breaks and a rail tunnel under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. Current government funding expires at the end of the day Friday. House Republicans had already delayed their planned vote by a day, to Thursday. Now, under current rules, a vote might not be held until Friday, leaving little time for the Senate to act. Otherwise, another stopgap spending bill would be needed to keep the government open. Congressional leaders said they’ll work through the weekend if necessary. The House and Senate are scheduled to take the next two weeks off.”

DeVos Defends Stripping Schools’ Budgets, Civil Rights

DeVos faces withering criticism in House hearing. AP: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos faced tough questions from House Democrats on Tuesday on gun control, racial bias and civil rights as she sought to defend funding cuts for her agency. DeVos’ testimony in front of the House Appropriations subcommittee got so tense at certain moments that the chairman made a point of thanking DeVos for her poise when he concluded the meeting. DeVos faced sharp criticism from Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who complained that minority students were being disciplined much more frequently than their white peers for similar infractions. The Obama administration issued guidance in 2014 that instructed schools to pay attention to the problem and make sure they weren’t discriminating against minority students. ‘Your head is in the sand about racial bias and racial discrimination,’ Lee said. ‘Madame Secretary, you just don’t care much about the rights of black and brown children. This is horrible.’ DeVos is now reviewing that guidance, and civil rights group fear she intends to rescind it. She would not talk about her plans at the hearing.”

Lipinski Narrowly Wins IL Primary

What the Lipinski-Newman IL primary means. The Intercept: “Is there still room in a solidly Democratic district for a Blue Dog who opposes abortion rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and voted against Obamacare? And the answer, at least in Illinois’ 3rd District, is probably. For now. The race also answered a different question, one perhaps more relevant to the future of the party: Can the progressive wing of the party mount a powerful enough challenge to entrenched, well-funded incumbents that it can threaten the status quo? Lipinski may have held on, but he got the kind of political scare that no incumbent wants. The answer to that question, clearly, is yes. Lipinski may have held on, but he got the kind of political scare that no incumbent wants. Newman, taking the stage at her election-night party at Marz Taproom in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, declined to concede the race, but said that whatever happens, voters had shocked Lipinski into a more progressive place. ‘No matter what happens tomorrow, we have moved him on immigration, we have moved him on healthcare. I scared the crap out of him on 12 vs. 15,’ — a reference to their debate over the minimum wage — ‘there’s many things we can move him on more, so let’s be clear. The fight is not over. It’s not done.'”

FEC Wrongly Dismissed Claim Against Dark-Money PAC

Judge rules FEC wrongly dismissed complaint against conservative group. The Hill: “A federal district judge on Tuesday ruled the Federal Election Commission (FEC) once again wrongly dismissed a 2012 complaint against a conservative nonprofit after it allegedly failed to register as a political committee and report the millions it spent on advertising before the 2010 midterm elections. The complaint against the American Action Network (AAN), a group aligned with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), was filed by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal watchdog targeting so-called dark money groups. CREW argued that AAN evaded record-keeping and disclosure requirements under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. The FEC, however, dismissed the complaint. It said AAN’s ads did not have the requisite major purpose of nominating or electing a candidate and therefore did not qualify as a political committee.”

New York Sheriff Signs Up To Aid Immigration Crackdown

A Lone New York Sheriff Signs Up to Aid Immigration Crackdown. NYT: “The Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office became one of only 75 in the country to sign an agreement allowing corrections officers to perform the functions of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, as part of a program known as 287(g). The number of jurisdictions taking part has more than doubled since President Trump promoted the program in an executive order in January 2017. The elected sheriff, Patrick Russo, a Republican with 43 years in local law enforcement, has thus inserted his mostly rural county 150 miles north of New York City into the national immigration debate. ‘State police agencies do not and will not engage in such activity, and we are troubled that one local sheriff in the state has decided to participate,’ said Alphonso David, the chief counsel to Governor Cuomo, whose office sits six miles south of Troy. The agreement, he said, is ‘contrary to the public policy and values of our state.'”