What’s Good, May 7 to May 20
Good News from The Swamp
- A Senate vote to negate the FCC’s proposed Net Neutrality repeal passed 52-47. The Senate’s 47 Democrats and 2 Independents were joined by 3 Republicans: Susan Collins (ME), who had been expected to vote with the Democrats, plus Lisa Murkowski (AK) and The Other John Kennedy (LA). The vote was the culmination of a months-long pressure campaign; the battle to save Net Neutrality now moves to the House, which must pass its own vote for the effort to succeed.
- Meanwhile in the House, Democrats defeated Republicans’ godawful Farm Bill 198-213 thanks to some convenient enemy-of-my-enemy assistance from the Republican extremists of the House Freedom Caucus. The bill included such absurdly retrograde features as slashing food stamps to increase food insecurity among the poor, increased corporate welfare for Big Ag, decreased funding for sustainable and organic agriculture programs, and a loophole by which pesticide applications would be exempt from requirements of the Endangered Species Act.
- A Democratic Congressional candidate in New York became the first female candidate for federal office to receive FEC authorization to use campaign funds for childcare during a run for office.
- The Senate Intelligence Committee published a report finding that Russia favored Trump in 2016, contradicting the parallel House Intelligence Committee report, which found that Russia is cuddly and harmless.
Good News from the ballot box
- Democrat Helen Tai won the special election for Pennsylvania House District 178, marking the first time that Republicans have lost control of the seat in 34 years.
- More than two-thirds of the female US House candidates competing in the Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia primary elections on May 8 won their races: twenty-two Democratic candidates and five Republicans.
- Ohio voters passed a ballot issue overhauling the district-drawing process for the state’s US House delegation. Ohio’s current map is gerrymandered to produce 12 safe Republican seats and a mere 4 safe Democratic seats in a state that is one of the nation’s swingiest.
Good News from America’s statehouses
- Louisiana’s state legislature passed a bill restoring voting rights of paroled felons. The bill had been rejected multiple times earlier in this legislative session but passed with bipartisan support this time.
- A South Carolina bill that would have outlawed virtually all abortions was abandoned after the State Senate’s Republican majority failed their fourth attempt to break a Democratic filibuster.
- Iowa’s Attorney General announced that he will not represent the state in any challenges filed against the state’s recently enacted 6-week abortion ban.
- Maryland became the 11th state to ban the use of “conversion therapy” on LGBTQ youth.
- Hawaii’s state legislature passed a ban on two sunscreen chemicals that are toxic to coral reefs and other marine life.
Good News from far and wide
- North Korea released three US citizens who had been been imprisoned for “anti-state activities.”
- Malaysia’s ruling coalition of the past 61 years was voted out of power, losing 54 of its 133 parliamentary seats and 7 of the 10 state governments it controlled— proving that even a firmly entrenched ruling party protected by extreme gerrymandering can be ejected if their legislative agenda and corruption become sufficiently toxic to the electorate.
- The second of four men facing trial for the brutal beating of an African-American man at the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally was convicted. The jury has recommended a six-year jail sentence.
- The union-hating media conglomerate Tronc agreed to recognize unions representing journalists at its Chicago-area publications, including the Chicago Tribune.
- Vulnerable Republican incumbents are talking less and less about the GOP tax cuts in their campaigning, according to a Reuters analysis. Overall, the analysis found that the number of tax-cut-related messages has fallen by 44% since January.
- Manhattan’s District Attorney will stop prosecuting most low-level marijuana cases, effective August 1.
- At least 38 North Carolina school districts, representing more than half of the state’s 1.5 million public school students, were closed as teachers marched on the state capitol to demand higher pay, greater spending on education, and better working conditions. North Carolina is the sixth Republican-controlled state this year in which teachers have publicly protested education conditions.
- There is a significant chance that no Republican candidates will qualify for California’s governor or US Senate elections in November. An absence of top-of-ticket Republican candidates would likely depress Republican turnout for other elections down the ballot– including the state’s Republican-held US House districts, many of which are high on the #BlueWave target list.
And lastly, a few chaser shots of 150-proof Neener Neener and random acts of kindness to make the Good News go down smoother
- Good help is hard to find: The top White House advisor for global health security, including pandemic response, quit the National Security Council AND THEN a top State Department expert on nuclear proliferation resigned after President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly is also “miserable in her job” and has drafted a resignation letter, although she has not yet submitted it.
- Swamp-on-Swamp violence: in a commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a veiled but obvious criticism of Trump’s unhinged relationship with reality: “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”
- Several big-name conservative bazillionaires, including the Walton family (Walmart), Rupert Murdoch (Fox), and the DeVos family (Amway, Department of Education) each lost over $100 million on investments in Theranos, a failed biotech startup.
- Hedge-fund managers, a reliable megadonor class for Republican candidates, are not ponying up their usual Hefty Bags full of cash this campaign season. The main source of their grievance: the GOP tax scam slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% but still taxes most hedge funds at the top individual rate, which was cut only from 39.6% to 37%.
- Senator John McCain, who is severely ill with brain cancer and is making his funeral plans, has told his friends and family that he does not want Trump to attend his funeral service.
- A Dallas diner observed Mother’s Day by donating $15,000 to the gun control group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America.
- A Brooklyn legal secretary who quietly amassed a small fortune while working 67 years at the same firm willed $6.24 million toward a social service organization that provides scholarships to needy students— the largest single gift from an individual that the recipient group has received in its 125-year history.
- The man who disarmed an assault-rifle-wielding gunman at a Nashville Waffle House created a GoFundMe account to raise a modest $15,000 in support of the shooting victims. A month later, the account had raised over $240,000.