The Breakfast Club (Far Out)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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AP’s Today in History for April 28th

Italy’s dictator Benito Mussolini killed; Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein born; Muhammad Ali refuses military induction during the Vietnam War; The first space tourist; ‘Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno born.

Breakfast Tune Eric Royer – Mr Spaceman

Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below

PhRMA Is Funding a Think Tank to Derail Medicare for All
Akela Lacy, The Intercept

SINCE 2009, Big Pharma has given a decent amount of money each year to the Third Way Foundation, the parent of the Progressive Policy Institute, a center-left think tank with ties to Democratic Party leadership. The giving wasn’t astronomical, ranging between $25,000 and $75,000, but in 2016, the health care debate in the Democratic Party got real, and the contributions swelled, as Sen. Bernie Sanders gave Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton a scare, running on Medicare for All as a signature issue.

According to tax records, PhRMA, or the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, upped its gift that year to $265,000. With Donald Trump in the White House, PPI’s haul in 2017 from the drugmakers was back to normal, at $50,000, bringing the total since Barack Obama was inaugurated to $615,000. Figures for 2018 aren’t yet available yet, but PhRMA has been getting its money’s worth from PPI, as the group plays a leading role in opposing the Democratic Party’s move toward single payer.

Three years after Sanders’s first run, public opinion has shifted overwhelmingly in support of Medicare for All. Yet in its latest report “A Radically Pragmatic Vision for Universal Health Care,” PPI has worked to cast a majoritarian position as the handiwork of some fringe leftists.

PhRMA, which depends heavily on government patents and money for research and development, has teamed up with other health care interest groups to try to crush the movement for a single-payer system, and spent $28 million on lobbying last year — but that’s only what it had to report. Gifts to groups like PPI don’t legally count as lobbying.

PhRMA is part of a coalition of insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, and investor-owned hospitals in the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future strategizing to defeat Medicare for All. The Intercept reported in November that PAHCF pushed Democratic candidates to run on saving the Affordable Care Act rather than supporting Medicare for All. And Democratic leadership won’t get behind single payer, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi advocating instead to fix the ACA and arguing that we just can’t pay for a nationalized health care system.

Vendors Leave Progressive Challenger’s Primary Campaign Over ‘Galling’ DCCC Threat
Eoin Higgins, Common Dreams

The Democratic establishment is already taking steps to stop insurgent progressive challengers to the party’s incumbents.

Marie Newman, who is challenging Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) in the 2020 primary for the Illinois 3rd District, told Politico on Friday that a number of vendors have already dropped out of her campaign—the direct result of a rule put in place by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) banning consultants and other campaign mechanics from working with anyone running against a sitting Democrat.

“I’ve had four consultants leave the campaign,” Newman said. “We’ve now had two mail firms say that they couldn’t work with us because of the DCCC issue, and then a [communications] group, a compliance group and several pollsters.”

Per Politico:

Consultants who planned to work with Newman said that the DCCC delivered the warning in the nicest terms possible—but that it was a very clear threat to their ability to do business with the DCCC.

…Our Revolution delivered the committee a petition to rescind the rules with 30,000 signatures, but the DCCC is standing firm, an aide told Politico.

Aída Chávez, The Intercept

AFTER SEIZING UNIFIED control of the Colorado state government in November’s wave election, Democrats there did something unusual: They governed.

For decades, the oil and gas industry has had a stranglehold on Colorado politics, but the newly empowered Democrats unveiled a sweeping bill to rein in fracking. The industry spent millions to stop it, but Democrats muscled it through, and it was signed by Gov. Jared Polis, an independently wealthy Democrat who ran in opposition to the industry.

Now the industry is fighting back by threatening to recall state Rep. Rochelle Galindo, who was elected last year and represents Weld County, the state’s top oil and gas producer. Galindo is the first openly gay person or woman of color to hold her seat.

Recall efforts have also been launched against Polis, Rep. Meg Froelich and Sen. Jeff Bridges, but no official petitions have been approved. According to state law, a governor must be in office for at least six months before a recall can be petitioned. Polis opponents would have to obtain 630,000 signatures in 60 days to get a recall election on the next ballot, and the signatures can’t be collected until July.

It isn’t an empty threat, either. The last time Colorado Democrats held a trifecta of control, two Democratic lawmakers were successfully voted out of office in the state’s first-ever recall elections. Former Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron were ousted in an NRA-led effort for their support of tougher gun laws following the Sandy Hook and Aurora mass shootings. Those recalls have haunted Colorado politics since.

A single Weld County rancher, Steve Wells, is bankrolling the effort to push Galindo out of office. Wells, whose property has hundreds of oil and gas wells, has donated $100,000 to the Committee to Recall Rochelle Galindo through his company, according to filings with the Secretary of State’s office.

There was initially another recall effort against the freshman representative that has now been disbanded, pushed by Joe Neville, brother of Senate Minority Leader Patrick Neville; Weld County pastor Steven Grant, who called Galindo a “homosexual pervert”; and gun rights lobbyist Dudley Brown.

“The voters of House District 50 are not going to be intimidated by millionaires and special interests cutting six-figure checks to political operatives engaging in the divisive Washington-style politics Coloradans consistently reject,” Galindo said in a statement earlier this month. “People are free to disagree with the decisions I make at the state capitol, and they’re free to vote for someone else in 2020. I will fight every day for our community and our shared best interests, and even for the people who disagree with me.”

“The reality is, [the oil and gas industries] are not used to not getting their way,” Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a sponsor of the legislation, told The Intercept. “Specifically, they get to say which bills pass and which ones fail, and that’s what led us to the point of where we are now. So they gave it all they got. They spent millions of dollars on TV ads and patch-through phone calls to members to make it feel like there was a groundswell of opposition.”

Fenberg added that the oil and gas industries held rallies at the Capitol, hired an army of lobbyists, and were part of creating an obstructionist atmosphere in the state Senate, in which Republican senators would ask for bills to be read “at length,” a parliamentary tactic used to slow legislation.

Alice Speri, The Intercept

KRAIG LEWIS WAS living in Connecticut and was nine credits away from his MBA when the neighborhood he had spent his life trying to get away from came back to haunt him. Growing up in a mostly poor and at times violent section of the Bronx, Lewis had seen his share of illegal activity. Some of those behind the criminality — mostly low-level drug dealing — were his friends. Lewis hung out with them while also keeping focused on school. Education was his ticket to a different life, his mother always said, and no one could take that away from him.

She was wrong. Three years ago this week, helicopters and armored vehicles swarmed Lewis’s old neighborhood, and SWAT teams and some 700 officers with the NYPD and a host of federal law enforcement agencies knocked down doors at the Eastchester Gardens public housing project and nearby homes. At the same time, 40 miles and a world away, police showed up at the loft apartment Lewis shared with his girlfriend in the seaside city of Bridgeport. Lewis, who had no criminal record and had never been arrested before, was taken away in handcuffs while his 6-year-old son was asleep in his bed. Police drove Lewis to the local station and then back to the Bronx, to a police precinct where he saw dozens of his childhood friends, some for the first time in years.

Like 117 other defendants in the case, Lewis was originally given a court-appointed lawyer. At his first court appearance, in federal court in downtown Manhattan, a judge told Lewis and dozens of his co-defendants that they could face the death penalty, though depending on the specific counts each of them was charged with, they faced a maximum sentence of 20 years or life. Lewis’s bail was initially set at $1.5 million, but prosecutors appealed that and he was held without bail as a “danger to society.”

Lewis spent 22 months in jail before pleading guilty to conspiring to distribute marijuana and once having owned a gun. There was no physical evidence against him — just text messages he had exchanged with friends from his neighborhood, social media photos that showed him socializing with other co-defendants, and the word of an unnamed witness. Prosecutors offered him a 12-year deal, which he refused. By the time they came back and offered him five years, life at the Metropolitan Detention Center had taken its toll. One of his friends there had been stabbed, and Lewis wanted out. He accepted the five years but the judge in the case thought that was too much, calling what had happened to him an “injustice” and releasing him on time served.

Lewis is now a convicted felon, on federal probation, unable to get the financial aid he needs to finish his MBA. He’s back at his mother’s home in the Bronx, living in a tiny room that had belonged to his teenage sister, his law and business textbooks stacked against pastel blue walls covered in butterfly decals. He works odd jobs, delivering Uber Eats and signaling traffic at road construction sites. “This is where I have got to rebuild everything from scratch,” he told me during a recent interview. “I am trying to do legal things and I keep getting the door shut in my face; the illegal activities are wide open in front of me.”

“I worked so hard, I had a plan, and that’s what’s killing me,” he added. “Growing up, you always feared the word ‘felon,’ because it’s like, you get a felony, you can’t do anything in the world.”

“I feel like I’m just going back in a machine. I made it out of the machine, and they grabbed me, and put me back into the machine, and now I’m stuck in the machine.”

Something to think about over coffee prozac

Massachusetts 10-year-olds aim to save lives with 3D crosswalks
Ben Hooper, UPI

April 25 (UPI) — A pair of Massachusetts 10-year-olds are hoping to save lives with a crosswalk they designed to capture the attention of drivers with a 3D illusion.

Isa, a fourth grader at Brooks Elementary School in Medford, said she and her friend Eric came up with the idea for the 3D crosswalk when Eric’s brother had a close encounter with a car.

The kids took their idea to the Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, a young people’s organization they belong to, and local artist Nate Swain was hired to put the idea into action in the driveway of the elementary school.

The crosswalk makes it appear to drivers as though the white lines are elevated from the ground.

“I love it. It looks amazing. Exactly how I pictured it and more,” Isa told CBS Boston. “When you’re walking across you can tell it’s painted, but what we hope is, when you’re driving down, you’ll see it as 3D, three dimensional. So it looks real.”

The city is planning to add similar crosswalks at the other three local elementary schools during the summer.