Good morning, everyone!
Last night, the United States Senate voted 67-32 to advance to debate on an infrastructure package. Tony Romm of The Washington Post has the details.
The twin developments marked an early victory for lawmakers who have struggled for years to turn their shared enthusiasm for infrastructure into actual investments in the country’s inner-workings. Several past presidents had called for robust, new public-works spending to replace old pipes and fix cracked bridges, yet only on Wednesday did the Senate actually move toward delivering on those promises.
The news sparked jubilation at the White House, where Biden this spring put forward a roughly $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan funded largely through tax increases that Republicans swiftly rejected. But the administration’s top aides ultimately proved willing to be flexible in the months that followed in how they pursued some of the president’s priorities. Asked about the deal while traveling in Pennsylvania, Biden sounded a hopeful note, telling reporters: “I feel confident about it.”
Yet the progress still threatened to prove politically fragile in a debate that is only just beginning. Lawmakers must still draft their legislation, which had not been written by Wednesday evening, and calibrate it in a way to survive the narrowly divided Senate. The absence of actual legislative text troubled some Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), who said in a speech on the chamber floor he could not vote to forge ahead Wednesday because the bill is “not ready.”
Jeremy Stahl at Slate says that there is a perfectly good reason that the Select Committee investigating the 1/6 Insurrection seemed to run smoothly.
Indeed, after 3½ years of covering Democratic oversight efforts since Democrats took back control of the House majority at the start of 2019, I can honestly say that this is the first and only time I can remember witnessing a hearing into misconduct perpetrated by Trump and his minions that maintained its presence in objective reality the whole time. (While the House Intelligence Committee’s hearings during Donald Trump’s first impeachment were illuminating and powerful, they were consistently derailed by partisan nonsense.)
Instead of the usual circus, Tuesday’s hearing was four consecutive hours of clean fact-finding and emotionally constructive first-person witnessing to the horrors of Jan. 6. This was possible only because Jordan (and to a lesser extent Banks) was kept off of the panel. Jordan has previously found enormous success as an oversight arsonist on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee, and on the House Intelligence Committee during impeachment. I know Jordan would have derailed any fact-finding effort into Jan. 6 because he already announced how he would have done it had he been allowed to participate during a press conference with Republican House leadership on the Capitol steps on Tuesday.
Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post says, in large part, that Beltway journalists need to “reframe” how they cover The Beltway.
Mainstream journalists want their work to be perceived as fair-minded and nonpartisan. They want to defend themselves against charges of bias. So they equalize the unequal. This practice seems so ingrained as to be unresolvable.
There is a way out. But it requires the leadership of news organizations to radically reframe the mission of its Washington coverage. As a possible starting point, I’ll offer these recommendations:
Toss out the insidious “inside-politics” frame and replace it with a “pro-democracy” frame.
Stop calling the reporters who cover this stuff “political reporters.” Start calling them “government reporters.”
Stop asking who the winners and losers were in the latest skirmish. Start asking who is serving the democracy and who is undermining it.
German Lopez of Vox says that the time has come for mandating the COVID-19 vaccine wherever it can be mandated in the U.S. can.
Unvaccinated people, whether they’re apathetic or resistant, are the reason the coronavirus remains a threat in the US. The country and everyone concerned about the rising case rate should do everything in their power to push these people to get a shot.
The federal government could require vaccination for its own employees, as President Joe Biden is reportedly considering, and offer incentives, financial or otherwise, for others to do the same…
I’ve been talking to experts about mandating vaccines for months. Earlier this year, when I wrote about vaccine passports, many argued that mandates should only be tried as a last resort — we should try improving access and offering incentives first. Only if those options failed should we rely on the more drastic steps.
Well, we’re here. America has made the vaccines much more available to just about everyone who’s eligible. The nation has tried rewards, ranging from free beer to gift cards to a cash lottery, to nudge people to get a shot. Yet we’re stuck. Half of the US population still isn’t fully vaccinated.
It’s time to try that last resort.
Jason DeParle of The New York Times reports that there has been an astonishing drop in poverty across the board but that the historic drop may only be temporary.
The number of poor Americans is expected to fall by nearly 20 million from 2018 levels, a decline of almost 45 percent. The country has never cut poverty so much in such a short period of time, and the development is especially notable since it defies economic headwinds — the economy has nearly seven million fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic.
The extraordinary reduction in poverty has come at extraordinary cost, with annual spending on major programs projected to rise fourfold to more than $1 trillion. Yet without further expensive new measures, millions of families may find the escape from poverty brief. The three programs that cut poverty most — stimulus checks, increased food stamps and expanded unemployment insurance — have ended or are scheduled to soon revert to their prepandemic size.
While poverty has fallen most among children, its retreat is remarkably broad: It has dropped among Americans who are white, Black, Latino and Asian, and among Americans of every age group and residents of every state.
Ben Brasch of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the process has begun to remove the elections chief of Fulton County.
A letter obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows two dozen state senators support a performance review of Fulton elections chief Richard Barron. The letter was written Tuesday, the very same day a front-page AJC story examined the prospect of a takeover of elections in Fulton, home to a tenth of all Georgians.“We’re asking them to simply correct a record they say is easily corrected. Is it or isn’t it? The people of Georgia deserve answers,” wrote Republican Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, who signed the letter.
As written into Senate Bill 202, the State Election Board can replace a county’s election board following a performance review/audit/investigation. Then, a temporary superintendent would enjoy full managerial authority of how the county counts votes and staffs polling places.
Barron was not available for comment due to a scheduling conflict, according to a county spokesman.
A performance review begins upon request of at least two state representatives and two state senators from the county.
Lauren Michele Jackson writes for The New Yorker that she is personally “exhausted” by the ways in which some liberals have chosen to rebut conservative critics of critical race theory.
None of these summations is incorrect, exactly—in an appearance on CNN, Crenshaw herself described critical race theory in similar terms, as a rejection of the idea that “what’s in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it.” And yet there is something about the homogeneity of these definitions, their recourse to coddling cliché, that makes critical race theory seem like just another version of a fluffier and more familiar three-word initialism, D.E.I.—diversity, equity, and inclusion. As with the less robust term “privilege,” the words “structural” and “systemic” are called upon with a suspiciously breezy regularity these days. Rather than carry on the edifying work that these words are meant to undertake—the project of implicating ourselves in the world that contains us—they have become a lullaby by which liberals self-soothe: it’s never you; it’s the system. Ibram X. Kendi, the best-selling author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” told Slate in a recent interview that the divide over critical race theory is based on a misunderstanding that it “seeks to attack white people” rather than “to attack structural racism.” Late last month, Twitter gathered in praise of General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for expressing an “open mind” about critical race theory before the House Armed Services Committee: “What is wrong with understanding—having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?” This expression of tolerance from the seat of power exhibits how defanged the popular apprehension of racial critique has become.
Rasha Younes of The Nation asserts that, in large part, notions of a unified “imagined community” of LGBTQ people is just that: imagined and not based in reality.
While imagined communities serve a purpose, including as a political tool, the assertion that people with a shared sexual orientation or gender identity form a relatively uniform community is depoliticizing. It risks obscuring other intersecting factors that lead to stratification even within the “LGBT community.” Clearly there are issues that affect people based on identity, such as discriminatory laws and policies. But other factors need to be considered when looking at the relative impact of discrimination—almost invariably, those on the social and economic margins are most affected.
Yet, shorthand is necessary, and “LGBT” does help in discussing access to the international human rights framework. To be granted asylum, for example, a queer or transgender person must prove that the basis for their claim is experience of violence or discrimination because of their LGBT identity.
The term “LGBT community” has activist origins signaling political solidarity. But it has also become a convenient acronym in a neoliberal economy where the “LGBT community” has come to be seen as an indispensable niche market—whether for selling rainbow flags or a political candidate. It creates a false dichotomy between “‘in” and “out” groups.
I don’t think that there are many stories that better illustrate what Ms. Younes is saying than our next and final story of this morning.
Two days ago, California-based Democratic donor Ed Buck was found guilty on all charges of a nine-count indictment involving the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean. L.A.-based journalist and activist Jasmyne Cannick has worked tirelessly on the Ed Buck case for four years.
I have to remind the powers that be that LA’s homeless crisis puts men like Ed Buck’s victims in a position where they feel they have no other choice but to play Russian roulette with their life and subject their bodies to torture just to have a roof over their head–even if just for one night.
Lastly, Black parents, stop kicking out your sons and daughters for being gay or trans. Men like Ed Buck are waiting to take advantage of them in the worst way. I can’t tell you how many men I interviewed told me that’s why they ended up where they did.
Ed Buck only got away with it for so long because he was white and because we still don’t believe Black victims–even when they tell us what happened to them.
Everyone have a good day!