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People marvel at a refrigerator

First They Came For My Appliances: We Are Here For the Refrigerator Freedom Act

Okay all you naysayers whining shambolic House GOPers aren't doing their job just 'cause they're blocking border solutions, ignoring infrastructure, enabling Ukrainian deaths and barely keeping the government afloat: Listen up. Boldly showcasing their astute priorities, they will fight Monday to liberate your dishwashers, dryers, fridges and other home gizmos from a Marxist "avalanche" of new "Libby Boogyman" rules aimed at keeping the planet from vaporizing into air, and c'mon who cares about that?!

Ever-steadfast in upholding their tradition of chasing fictional ills - Mike 'Election Chicanery' Johnson is now vowing to require proof of citizenship to prevent (brown-skinned) non-citizens from voting even though it's already illegal, also "not a thing" - the GOP-led House Rules Committee meets Monday to discuss six bills to prep them for final votes on the House floor. The six bills are the Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards Act, the Liberty in Laundry Act, the Affordable Air Conditioning Act, the Clothes Dryer Reliability Act, the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act and the Refrigerator Freedom Act. Yes. They are real. They're in response to a number of Biden regulations or proposals aimed at addressing climate change, part of a $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act that seeks to lower costs, reduce energy use, cut pollutants and move to more green-energy practices.

To Republicans, however, they're aimed at letting tyrants "control everything Americans are able to do on a day-to-day basis," part of an insidious plot to allow "others" to come for their stuff, their choices and their God-given rights, evidently including the right to get a back-alley abortion with a coat hanger. (One sage: "REPUBLICANS: 'Keep gubmint OUT of our toasters and dish washers!' ALSO REPUBLICANS: 'We need surveillance cameras inside every cha-cha so we can keep an eye on what women are doing!'") Thus did Arizona's Rep. Debbie Lesko, declaring she is "proud (to) stand on the side of choice for American consumers," devise the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act to prohibit "federal bureaucrats" from issuing an aforementioned "avalanche" of new energy standards "not technologically feasible and economically justified."

In March, Iowa's Rep.Mariannette Miller-Meeks echoed her, introducing and eventually passing theRefrigerator Freedom Act to prohibit the same offenses - now "not cost-effective or technologically feasible" - because Biden has "done nothing but implement outrageous regulations" that only limit choice, increase prices, disenfranchise toilets and blenders, and move us toward dictatorship. MAGA-ites, of course, applaud these red-meat efforts to rescue heat pumps, gas stoves, washing machines, showers and air fryers from domination. "Finally, following American and not Globalist priorities," said one. "I am sick and tired of the government telling us what we can and cannot buy and use." And after 11 GOP-run states sued over some of the changes, a judge dismissed the rules as "arbitrary and capricious."

That could also apply to a House focused on fighting to be able to buy a $7 toaster even if, okay, so it may burn your house down but FREEDUMB! Of course, confronting issues like national security or infrastructure require actual, unflashy, conciliatory, negotiating, attention-to-detail legislative work, and they're barely able to co-exist with their colleagues, never mind opponents, and anyway it's probably about time for another two-week recess, so let's go with hair dryers and ceiling fans. Along with the petty stupidity is the economic irony: Most appliances are made in China, so they're protecting Chinese companies from U.S. regulations, and for things made here, they're ensuring big business can be left alone to make over-priced, planet-killing, deliberately-soon-obsolete crap. Your tax dollars at work!

Predictably, the cognitive dissonance drew its share of mockery, with Digby noting, "We all know the GOP likes to focus on kitchen table issues, but this is ridiculous." Others argued that, "Insurrectionists are now GOP Congresspersons" and that, thanks in part to such diversionary tomfoolery, "The GOP has Ukrainian blood on their hands." "First they came for my appliances," one intoned. "I was not an appliance, so I said nothing." Another suggested a key addition to the GOP agenda: a "Stop Wasting Our Time on Meaningless Legislation Act." There were also triumphant stories of deliverance born of the GOP's hard and noble work. "In honor of the Refrigerator Freedom Act, I just opened my front door and set my newly liberated Frigidaire free," one reported. "Needless to say, it's running."

activists arrested

Sunrise Protesters Arrested at VP's House Demanding Biden Declare a Climate Emergency

Six young activists were arrested outside Vice President Kamala Harris' Los Angeles home on Monday while calling on the White House to declare a climate emergency, according to the youth-led Sunrise Movement.

Harris and President Joe Biden–Democrats who are seeking reelection in November—campaigned as climate champions in the 2020 cycle but have had a mixed record on the topic since entering office.

"My generation is spending our teenage years organizing for climate action because people like Kamala Harris have failed us," said Adah Crandall, one of the activists arrested after blockading the street outside her California residence overnight.

"We're ready to do whatever it takes to win a climate emergency declaration—we will camp out overnight, we will get arrested, we will mobilize our peers by the thousands to win the world we deserve," the 18-year-old continued. "The Biden administration are cowards for not standing with young people."

"The Biden administration are cowards for not standing with young people."

The White House has been praised for climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act as well was a recent pause on liquefied natural gas exports. However, the president has also faced criticism for continuing fossil fuel lease sales, backing the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Willow oil project, and skipping last year's United Nations summit.

Just last week, the Biden administration approved a license for a pipeline company to build the nation's largest offshore oil terminal off of Texas' Gulf Coast—despite surging fossil fuel pollution that is pushing up global temperatures.

Sunrise last week condemned the approval as "very disappointing" and also joined with Campus Climate Network and Fridays for Future USA to announce Earth Day demonstrations intended to pressure Biden to declare a climate emergency.

Biden claimed last year that "practically speaking," he had already declared a national climate emergency; however, as campaigners and experts have stressed, actually doing so would unlock various federal powers to tackle the fossil fuel-driven crisis.

"Our communities in California breathe toxic air from fossil fuels and face fires that destroy our homes," noted 18-year-old Ariela Lara, who was arrested at Harris' home.

"I'm on the frontlines raising my voice for my Black and Latine families and friends," Lara added, "because I know that we deserve to have affordable housing and healthcare, we deserve an administration who will fight for us, but instead of declaring a climate emergency, we are seeing Biden and Harris expand oil and gas production to record levels."

The action targeting Harris came after a February protest at Biden's campaign headquarters in Delaware that also led to arrests.

Joe Biden

US Economy Performs Far Better Under Democrats Than Republicans: Study

A study published by the Economic Policy Institute on Tuesday finds that the U.S. economy does better when a Democrat is in the White House than when a Republican is in charge.

The study looked at GDP growth, job growth, inflation-adjusted wage growth, the unemployment rate, and more. It found that Democrats have had an economic advantage since at least 1949.

"This Democratic advantage is across the board in all variables we measure but strongest in private-sector outcomes—notably, business investment, job growth, and the growth of market-based incomes," it says.

The study shows there is a "pronounced Democratic advantage in nearly every measure of macroeconomic performance." Despite this, the study notes that Republicans are typically seen as better at managing the economy in opinion polls.

"It is difficult to tell what respondents to opinion polls have in mind when they are asked about 'the economy.' For example, respondents often rate the Republican party higher as economic managers yet rate the Democratic party more highly on issues related to healthcare," the study says. "But healthcare is, by far, the single largest sector of the U.S. economy, affecting economic outcomes of households, businesses, and governments in significant ways."

The study also found that economic gains are "distributed substantially more equally" when a Democrat is in the White House.

The study notes that not all of the economic figures can be attributed to policy, as some of it is simply luck, but the trend appears to be that the economy does better overall when a Democrat is president.

"One would expect that the large role of chance would (almost by definition) cut uniformly across the partisan composition of presidential administrations. And yet the Democratic advantage in economic performance by partisan control of the presidency is striking," the study says.

code and agency symbol

Amid Spying Fight, House Passes Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act

While applauding the U.S. House of Representatives' bipartisan passage of a bill to ensure that "law enforcement and intelligence agencies can't do an end-run around the Constitution by buying information from data brokers" on Wednesday, privacy advocates highlighted that Congress is trying to extend and expand a long-abused government spying program.

The House voted 219-199 for Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act (FANFSA), which won support from 96 Democrats and 123 Republicans, including the lead sponsor, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). Named for the constitutional amendment that protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, H.R. 4639 would close what campaigners call the data broker loophole.

"The privacy violations that flow from law enforcement entities circumventing the Fourth Amendment undermine civil liberties, free expression, and our ability to control what happens to our data," said Free Press Action policy counsel Jenna Ruddock. "These impacts affect everyone who uses digital platforms that extract our personal information any time we open a browser or visit social media and other websites—even when we go to events like demonstrations and other places with our phones revealing our locations."

"We're grateful that the House passed these vital and popular protections," she added. "The bill would prevent flagrant abuses of our privacy by government authorities in league with unscrupulous third-party data brokers. Making this legislation into law with Senate passage too would be a decisive and long-overdue action against government misuse of this clandestine business sector that traffics in our personal data for profit."

Wednesday's vote followed the House sending the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act to the Senate. H.R. 7888 would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows for warrantless spying on noncitizens abroad but also sweeps up Americans' data.

The House notably included an amendment forcing a wide range of individuals and businesses to cooperate with government spying operations but rejected an amendment that would have added a warrant requirement to the bill, which the Senate could vote on as soon as Thursday.

Noting those decisions on the FISA reauthorization legislation, Ruddock stressed that "today's vote is a victory but follows a recent loss and ongoing threat as that Section 702 bill moves to the Senate this week too."

"As FANFSA and the 702 reauthorization move to the Senate, lawmakers in that chamber need to take a stand for the rights of people in the United States," she argued. "That means passing FANFSA and reforming Section 702 authority—and prioritizing everyone's First and Fourth Amendment rights."

Jeramie Scott, senior counsel and director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Project on Surveillance Oversight, also praised the House's FANFSA passage on Wednesday.

"The passage of the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale underscores the extent to which reining in abusive warrantless surveillance is a bipartisan issue," Scott said. "We urge the Senate to take up this measure and close the data broker loophole."

Kia Hamadanchy, senior policy counsel at ACLU, similarly said Wednesday that "the bipartisan passage of this bill is a flashing warning sign to the government that if it wants our data, it must get a warrant."

Hamadanchy added that "we hope this vote puts a fire under the Senate to protect their constituents and rein in the government's warrantless surveillance of Americans, once and for all."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a critic of the pending 702 bill and FANFSA's lead sponsor in the upper chamber, called the the House's Wednesday vote "a huge win for privacy" and said that "now it's time for the Senate to follow suit."

Supreme Court protest

Watchdogs' Database Details Right-Wing Efforts to Sway US Supreme Court

A trio of progressive watchdog groups on Thursday unveiled a new database detailing the "troubling connections" between the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing justices, the conservative organizations that have intervened in cases before the court, and the wealthy donors funding them.

Take Back the Court, Revolving Door Project, and True North Research published the database at SupremeTransparency.org, which "shines a spotlight on the complex web connecting justices to powerbrokers and the organizations that those powerbrokers fund, lead, and are otherwise linked to."

The watchdogs found that nearly 1 in 7 amicus briefs filed during the 2023-24 Supreme Court term were lodged by at least one powerbroker-affiliated organization. This affects 32 different cases before the court.

"The current U.S. Supreme Court has gone rogue."

For example, in Moore v. United States—in which the Supreme Court could preemptively ban or limit wealth taxes—half of all amicus briefs were filed by groups affiliated with right-wing powerbrokers.

In Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, groups funded by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch want to scupper the Chevron deference, a 40-year precedent under which judges defer to the legal interpretations of federal agencies if Congress has not passed any laws on an issue. Powerbroker-affiliated organizations have filed more than one-third of the amicus briefs seeking to overturn the Chevron doctrine.

"Far too often people with insidiously close ties to justices like Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, such as Harlan Crow and Paul Singer, signal their interest in the outcome of cases by funding, leading, or influencing organizations that file amicus briefs," Revolving Door Project executive director Jeff Hauser said in a statement.

"There is just as much of a conflict of interest when a justice hears a case involving a benefactor as a named party and one in which the person who illicitly enabled their luxurious lifestyle is 'merely' similarly situated to one of the parties," Hauser added.

According to SupremeTransparency.org:

The current U.S. Supreme Court has gone rogue. The right-wing justices that make up the court's supermajority frequently toy with precedent and the rule of law to issue opinions that not only defy the will of a majority of Americans, but also rewrite constitutional principles, overturn widely respected legal precedents, and gut longstanding rules that protect the public interest.

In just the 2021 and 2022 Supreme Court terms alone, the court overturned Roe v. Wadeafter 49 years; gutted both the decades-old Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act; overturned a 100+ year old gun safety law; eroded the National Labor Relations Act (adopted as part of New Deal reforms to protect workers); broke with their own procedures regarding standing to sue in order to block student debt relief; and reversed decades of precedent to end the decadeslong practice of race-conscious college admissions policies that promoted diversity and redressed discrimination. But this radically reactionary court and its radically reactionary justices aren't acting alone.

"Supreme corruption demands supreme transparency," said Take Back the Court president Sarah Lipton-Lubet. "It's no secret that the many of the rich benefactors cozying up to the conservative justices are the same people who fund right-wing organizations with business before the court."

"But too often, stories about the Supreme Court don't connect these dots—and as a result, they leave us with an incomplete picture," she continued. "The truth is right-wing powerbrokers are seemingly paying to play; they're funding groups that are weighing in on court cases even as they buy access to the justices who will rule on those cases."

"It's just one of the ways our Supreme Court is deeply, fundamentally broken," Lipton-Lubet added. "And it's a reminder of how urgent and necessary it is that we reform this corrupt court."

Last year, the Supreme Court adopted a Code of Conduct that contained few new rules, no enforcement mechanism, and was widely panned as a toothless public relations stunt. Bolder proposals for reforming the high court include term limits and increasing the number of justices.

A protester from the group Code Pink holds up a child

'My Child Is Human': Palestinian American Mother Disrupts Austin Testimony

A week after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers that the U.S. has no "evidence of genocide being created" in Gaza, peace activists disrupted the Pentagon chief's testimony on the Biden administration's 2025 budget request and demanded he acknowledge the humanity of Palestinian children.

"My child is human!" said Nasbeebah Hajjaj, a Palestinian-American woman who held up her 16-month-old son, Hamza. "Stop killing Palestinian children!"

The anti-war group CodePink said Hajjaj immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was two months old, and has lost approximately 20 family members to Israel's bombardment of Gaza since October.

The group targeted Austin's testimony a month after the Biden administration released its 2025 budget request—a proposal that includes $1.1 trillion in military-related spending. Despite growing calls from U.S. lawmakers and rights advocates, the White House has not announced conditions for military aid to Israel, which has been widely accused of human rights violations as it has assaulted Gaza and blocked humanitarian aid from reaching Palestinians.

Israel's bombardment has killed at least 33,899 Palestinians so far, and more than two dozen people have died of starvation in recent months as international experts have warned parts of northern Gaza are facing famine.

At least 13,000 children have been killed, and the United Nations reported in February that 70% of those killed overall have been women and children—even as Israel and the U.S. have insisted Israeli forces are targeting Hamas.

The International Court of Justice issued a preliminary ruling in January saying Israel is "plausibly" committing genocide in Gaza, and lawmakers including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have expressed support for the ruling—but the U.S. has dismissed the court's findings, including at Austin's hearing last week.

While Hajjaj held up her son at Wednesday's hearing, another protester, identified by CodePink as Helen, addressed the defense secretary.

"Secretary Austin, why are you denying Israel's genocide in Gaza? Why are you denying genocide in Gaza?" said Helen, who was arrested after being led out of the hearing. "The whole world sees it! You know the laws of war! You know you have blood on your hands! You have blood on your hands! We have blood on our hands."

The advocates chanted, "Shame on you!" as they were led out of the hearing room.

Outside the hearing room, Hajjaj emphasized that the Biden administration has "the power to stop" Israel's attacks on Gaza by cutting off its military aid—of which the U.S. is the largest international supplier. The Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that the U.S. cannot provide military funding to countries that block American humanitarian aid.

"They just want to continue to arm death and destruction," said Hajjaj.