What’s Good, April 22 to May 6
Good News from the ballot box
- New York Democrat Steve Stern crushed his GOP opponent by 18%, flipping a State Assembly seat that has been Republican since 1978.
Good News from the courts
- The courts issued multiple smackdowns against Trump’s war on reproductive rights: a federal appeals court blocked an Ohio law that would have cut federal taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood, a federal judge issued a permanent injunction preventing the Department of Health and Human Services from cutting grants to Planned Parenthood that fund a teen pregnancy prevention program in Western states, and another federal judge blocked Health and Human Services from terminating grants issued through a Baltimore-area teen pregnancy prevention program.
- A federal judge squashed Trump’s attempt to end DACA, ruling that the government must resume accepting new DACA applications as well as renewals.
Good News from The Swamp
- Rep. Pat Meehan (R PA-07), who had already announced he would not run for reelection this fall in the face of a sexual harassment claim by a former staffer, resigned.
- Several weeks after being asked to resign by Speaker Paul Ryan, House chaplain Patrick Conroy wrote a two-page letter disputing Ryan’s public explanation for removing him, and retracted the resignation letter he had submitted at Ryan’s request. Ryan backtracked and said that Conroy would remain in his position.
- The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being dismissed without judicial review. Four Republicans joined all ten Democrats in voting for the bill.
- Rudy Giuliani, a recent addition to Trump’s legal team, told Fox News host Sean Hannity that Trump reimbursed his attorney Michael Cohen for an $130,000 hush payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels– contradicting previous public statements by Trump and throwing Trump’s legal team into disarray. Trump responded by throwing Giuliani under the bus, saying Giuliani didn’t have his facts straight yet.
Good News from America’s statehouses
- California’s net neutrality legislation, which would be the strongest in the nation if enacted, was approved by key state senate committees over the objections of AT&T and sundry cable industry lobbyists. A similarly aggressive net neutrality bill is heading to the New York state legislature as well.
- The New Hampshire Senate passed a bipartisan bill explicitly protecting transgender people from discrimination. The bill already passed the state House, and the governor has promised to sign it.
- Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a budget bill providing significant teacher raises and new funds for classrooms, ending a weeklong statewide teacher walkout. Next up on the Red State Teacher Strike parade: North Carolina.
Good News from far and wide
- The US armed forces top brass continue to stand up for transgender service members: the Coast Guard announced that it will not ban transgender members unless the administration issues an official policy barring them, and the Air Force Chief of Staff told Congress that he is not aware of any negative effects from transgender personnel in the services, joining the chiefs of the Army, Marine Corps, and Navy, who have all testified similarly in recent weeks.
- HSBC, the largest bank in Europe and seventh largest in the world, announced it will stop funding new coal power plants, oil sands, and Arctic drilling in developed nations, including the Keystone XL pipeline.
- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un signed a declaration committing the two Koreas to denuclearization and formally ending the Korean War.
- The European Union approved a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, which are widely believed to be a major factor in the decline of honeybee and wild bee populations.
- The editors-in-chief of five of the world’s most prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journals released a joint statement criticizing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s plan to restrict the scientific evidence that can be used to inform EPA policies.
- The City of Seattle will retroactively vacate all misdemeanor marijuana convictions in the city, cleaning the record of 542 people, and also requested the dismissal of all outstanding misdemeanor possession charges.
- California, Massachusetts, and 16 other jurisdictions sued the EPA over its effort to weaken auto fuel efficiency and emissions standards and for failing to follow its own regulations.
- Cambridge Analytica, the data consulting firm used by the Trump campaign and at the center of the Facebook data-sharing scandal, is going out of business after the resulting bad press drove away customers and suppliers. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office also ordered Cambridge Analytica to hand over all data and personal information it has on an American citizen who filed an experimental lawsuit, stating that “failure to comply with this enforcement notice [will be] a criminal offence”.
Bad News for racists
- White nationalist and alt-right frontman Richard Spencer is ending his nationwide college speaking tour. Spencer’s appearances generated minimal positive interest but significant legal bills and many protesters. Spencer is also begging his followers for donations to cover his legal fees.
- The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of African-American victims of slavery, lynching, Jim Crow, and racism in America’s justice system, opened in Montgomery, Alabama.
- The two African-American men wrongfully arrested at a Starbucks last month settled with the city of Philadelphia: the city will provide $200,000 in funding for a entrepreneurial training program for Philadelphia public high school students; the two men themselves requested only a symbolic $1 each in restitution.
- The first of four men facing trial for the brutal beating of an African-American man at the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally was convicted. He will be sentenced in August; the jury is recommending 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Bad News for NRA & Friends
- The NRA, America’s #1 proponent of the “good guy with a gun” theory, prohibited guns from Vice President Pence’s speech at the NRA’s annual meeting. Parkland survivors jumped on the NRA for its hypocritical insistence that the same restriction should not apply to America’s schools.
- The New York state financial services regulator fined the underwriter of an NRA gun owner insurance program $7 million for conducting insurance business in New York without a license.
And lastly, a few chaser shots of 150-proof Neener Neener to make the Good News go down smoother
- Good help is hard to find: Veterans Affairs secretary nominee Ronny Jackson withdrew after numerous allegations of irresponsible workplace behavior surfaced AND THEN subsequently announced he will not return to his role as the president’s personal physician AND THEN Vice President Pence’s doctor also headed for the exits AND THEN the doctor who wrote a letter in 2015 praising candidate Trump’s physical condition in suspiciously Trumpian language now says that Trump dictated the letter.
- Trump’s difficulties retaining professional talent extended beyond just doctors: his top personal attorney in Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigations announced he is quitting.
- Swamp-on-Swamp violence: a report attributed to four White House officials claimed that Chief of Staff John Kelly has repeatedly referred to Trump as “an idiot”. That report was only a rumor, but this video of Fox News host Neil Cavuto criticizing Trump’s most flagrant lies, changes of position, and assorted hyperbole from within Trump’s safest space is not.
- The Scott Pruitt dumpster fire burns ever more brightly: former EPA deputy chief of staff and Trump appointee Kevin Chmielewski said that Pruitt was “bold-faced lying” when Pruitt told Congress that no EPA employees had been retaliated against for raising concerns about his spending decisions AND THEN EPA security lead Nino Perrotta and Superfund program head Albert Kelly both resigned AND THEN an EPA staffer was caught peddling negative stories about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in an attempt to divert the spotlight from Pruitt.
- After Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the Supreme Court’s four liberal judges to cast the deciding vote in an immigration ruling, Trump is reportedly upset that Gorsuch is not a reliable conservative.
- Aww, come on, Mr. President, give the poor guy a bit of time to get comfortable in his seat– it’s still shaped like Merrick Garland’s butt!
- A New Jersey Republican organization managed to lose money at its winter fundraiser. It wasn’t a loss for everyone involved, though: Trump National Golf Club pocketed a cool $24K in venue fees.
- And lastly, enjoy this video of a Trumpkin trying and failing miserably to tear apart an anti-fascist protest sign.