Good Day, Gnusies. There’s a lot I wanted to say this morning about impatience; be careful what we wish for; gloom, doom & frustration and other vexations, but I cannot seem to find the words. Lucky for me, Teri Kanefield has the words! Please click on and read these short, smart threads (and pretend that’s what I said, pretty please! 😁)
And this guy stole my words, too:
I’m a Christian Pastor. Evangelicals Have to Be Defeated in 2022. John Pavlovitz, June 5, 2021.
We need a sustained, passionate, dedicated defense of humanity that rivals their relentless assaults on it.
I hear many people say they’re terrified, but being terrified alone doesn’t do anything but help these people.
Be terrified and get angry.
Be terrified and get busy.
Be terrified and go to work.
Be terrified and fight like hell.
I wish more decent people in America remembered they are among the vast majority instead of acting as if they are helpless victims of Republican Christians. We could defeat them, and we need to. We just need to stop lamenting how much damage they are doing and start doing something to oppose them.
Bottom line: We are not going to realistically undo 4 years of TFG’s magafuckery in a few months, much less 40 years of Rfuckery, (or 400 years of white supremacy). Time to adjust expectations and continue the work. Cultivate patience, while doing everything you can to promote justice and progress. As frustrating as it is for us living through this, believe it or not we are making progress at a speed which will look astonishing in the history books. Read on to see what I mean.
🎶 Music for Our Impatience 🎶
Covid Vaccinations for children 6 months+ possible by fall
COVID-19 vaccines could be available for kids as young as 6 months old starting this fall, Kelly McLaughlin and Allana Akhtar, Business Insider, June 8, 2021.
COVID-19 vaccines could be available for children as young as 6 months in the US by the fall, Pfizer and Moderna told The New York Times on Tuesday.
Pfizer announced on Tuesday that it was testing its COVID-19 vaccine in 5- to 12-year-olds. The drugmaker told The Times that it would likely start testing the shot in kids as young as 6 months in the next few weeks.
Pfizer said it hoped to be able to apply for emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration by the fall to administer its vaccine to young children.
Moderna told The Times and Insider that it could get similar FDA authorization by early fall.
Foundation helps Vaccination Effort in Africa
Foundation to spend $1.3B to vaccinate Africans for COVID, Haleluya Hadero and Gerald Imray, AP, June 8, 2021.
One of the world’s largest foundations will spend $1.3 billion over the next three years to acquire and deliver COVID-19 vaccines for more than 50 million people in Africa. It’s a first-of-its-kind effort for a Western nonprofit to bolster Africa’s lagging vaccination campaign amid widespread fears of a third wave of infections on the continent.
The Tuesday announcement from the Toronto-based Mastercard Foundation, which has more than $39 billion in assets, comes days after the World Health Organization said Africa was encountering an alarming mix of a spike in virus cases and “a near halt” of vaccine shipments. The delays have been tied to India’s halt on vaccine exports, among other things. ✂️
The (one-shot J&J) doses bought by the foundation, which has operated independently from Mastercard since its launch in 2006, will begin to be available in August, “in progressively larger quantities,” said Julie Waiganjo, a spokesperson for the foundation.
“It is actually a huge moment, and a moment that I characterize as transformational in our ability to fight the war against this pandemic,” (director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John) Nkengasong told The Associated Press.
Government is here to help!
Opinion: Thank you, Uncle Sam. The vaccine rollout is the biggest government success in decades. Max Boot, Washington Post, June 8, 2021.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is correct when he says: “I think a lot of the mistrust in our country right now is the result of policy failure.” Americans have seen decades of government mistakes — Watergate, Vietnam, 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 crash, the 2020 pandemic and recession — accompanied by government failures to tackle deep-rooted, long-term problems like global warming, gun violence, racial injustice and income inequality. (By supporting the invasion of Iraq, I played my own small part in fostering this distrust.) ✂️
(After getting vaccinated) Now we are able to return to our old lives — eating indoors at restaurants, attending dinner parties with friends, working out at the gym, even watching a movie inside an actual theater. The same is true of our neighbors. New York City, a virtual ghost town at the height of the deadly pandemic, has sprung back to glorious life.
Thank you, Uncle Sam. This wouldn’t have happened without the much-maligned government. Indeed, the vaccination rollout may be the most dramatic governmental success story of my lifetime. Its most obvious rivals — the moon landings, the Persian Gulf War, and the end of the Cold War — occurred so long ago that no one under 30 will have personal memories of them.
The massive mobilization to defeat covid-19 has restored some of my faith in the government’s ability to solve problems. I hope it will do the same for other Americans. Government isn’t always the solution, but it isn’t always the problem, either — and corrosive distrust of authority only handicaps our ability to tackle our toughest problems. Now the Biden administration needs to focus on getting more people around the world vaccinated to reverse the world’s loss of faith in the United States.
Illinois’ pandemic Recovery continues
Coronavirus positivity metric drops to record low — again — as state edges ever closer to full reopening, Mary Chappell, Chicago Sun✶Times, June 8, 2021.
Just days short of the state’s full reopening, Illinois on Tuesday recorded 365 cases of COVID-19 and yet another record low positivity rate.
The tally of 365 cases comes one day after the state logged just 244 — the lowest daily caseload since March 23, 2020.
The seven-day average statewide positivity rate of 1.1% is the lowest since experts started tracking the metric, which is used as a barometer of how rapidly the virus is circulating. ✂️
More than 51% of the state’s adult population is fully vaccinated, state public health officials reported. A total of 11,708,874 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of Monday.
(Nifty addition: Can’t find online, but read in paper edition of today’s Sun✶Times that more than 68% of Illinois’ adult population has had at least one dose of vaccine)
🎶 Music For Pandemic Recovery 🎶
Senate Report on 1/6
Senate report details broad failures around Jan. 6 attack, Mary Clare Jalonick, AP, June 8, 2021.
As a bipartisan effort, the report does not delve into the root causes of the attack, including Trump’s role as he called for his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat that day. It does not call the attack an insurrection, even though it was. And it comes two weeks after Republicans blocked a bipartisan, independent commission that would investigate the insurrection more broadly.
“This report is important in the fact that it allows us to make some immediate improvements to the security situation here in the Capitol,” said Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which conducted the probe along with the Senate Rules Committee. “But it does not answer some of the bigger questions that we need to face, quite frankly, as a country and as a democracy.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday the findings show even greater need for a bipartisan commission to investigate the root causes of the attack, referring to Trump’s unfounded claims about the 2020 election.
‘Bring Your Guns’: Probe Uncovers More Alarming Intelligence Before The Capitol Riot, Claudia Grisales, NPR, June 8, 2021.
Among new public details, the panels say Capitol Police had seen information from a pro-Trump website that included comments about the Capitol’s tunnel system and that encouraged demonstrators to bring weapons to subdue members of Congress and police and reverse the presidential election’s results. ✂️
The committees’ report includes 20 recommendations, such as a review of intelligence handling and for law enforcement agencies to conduct joint training exercises regarding threats in the Washington, D.C., area. Another recommendation could lead to legislation to allow the Capitol Police chief to unilaterally call for emergency backup without approval from a board that oversees the agency. The onerous structure of the board slowed down such requests ahead of the attack and that day. ✂️
The committees also held more extensive, closed-door interviews with top Defense Department officials, including former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
And while they defended their agencies’ actions to respond to the Jan. 6 riot, they also noted they had raised concerns. For example, Miller and Milley asked if permits for the 1,000 to 2,000 demonstrators that day could be revoked ahead of the rally and asked if the district could be locked down, the joint report said.
Schumer signals that he may bring 1/6 commission up for another vote
Schumer: Senate Report ‘Strengthened Argument’ For Jan. 6 Commission, Sara Bolboltz, HuffPost, June 8, 2021.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that huge gaps in a report released earlier in the day on January’s Capitol riot has “strengthened the argument” for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the events, which Senate Republicans have blocked.
The new report “hardly” made “any reference to the actual cause ― the actual impetus ― of the attack,” Schumer said. “With the exception of a brief reference to former President Trump’s remarks at the ellipse, Senate Republicans insisted that the report exclude anything having to do with the cause of the insurrection.” ✂️
Schumer said that he “reserves the right to bring legislation for an independent bipartisan commission to the Senate floor for another vote.” He said the same thing in a letter to colleagues shortly before Memorial Day, noting only that he would do so “at the appropriate time.”
Unlike the do-nothing r’s, a Democratic led congress gets stuff done!
Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill To Boost US Tech Industry, Counter Rivals, Kevin Freking, HuffPost, June 8, 2021.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Tuesday that aims to boost U.S. semiconductor production and the development of artificial intelligence and other technology in the face of growing international competition, most notably from China. ✂️
Supporters described it as the biggest investment in scientific research that the country has seen in decades. It comes as the nation’s share of semiconductor manufacturing globally has steadily eroded from 37% in 1990 to about 12% now, and as a chip shortage has exposed vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain.
“The premise is simple, if we want American workers and American companies to keep leading the world, the federal government must invest in science, basic research and innovation, just as we did decades after the Second World War,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Whoever wins the race to the technologies of the future is going to be the global economic leader with profound consequences for foreign policy and national security as well.”
And, in case you’re fretting about how many extremist judges Rs confirmed…
Great news! Democrats can walk* and chew gum** and juggle*** at the same time! 😁
Biden’s First Federal Judges Confirmed in Bipartisan Votes (4), Madison Alder and Seth Stern, Bloomberg Law, June 8, 2021.
The first of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees were easily confirmed on Tuesday, beginning what Democrats who control the Senate have promised will be a fast-moving effort to approve his picks to the federal bench. ✂️
“Under this Democratic majority, the Senate will swiftly and consistently confirm president Biden’s appointments to the federal bench, bringing balance, experience, and diversity back to the judiciary. Mr. Neals and Ms. Rodriguez are two great examples,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor. ✂️
After the confirmations Tuesday, Schumer teed up a votes to limit debate on Biden’s nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Ketanji Brown Jackson and District of New Jersey nominee Zahid Quraishi. Jackson is considered a top contender if a vacancy arises on the Supreme Court. The Judiciary Committee advanced her nomination, 13-9, in May. Biden has pledged to appoint a Black woman to the high court, if he gets the chance.
And Joe is determined to match or exceed TFG’s judge nominations/confirmations: Senate Democrats start confirming Biden’s judges to ‘restore the balance’ in courts, Sahil Kapur, NBC, June 8, 2021.
Under precedents established by both parties, the 60-vote threshold has been abolished for all judicial confirmations. Nominees can advance with simple majorities.
A separate rule, established in 2019, cut debate time from 30 hours to two hours for certain types of nominees, including those for district court judgeships, so Republicans could quickly confirm Trump’s picks. The precedent will enable Democrats to speedily confirm a number of Biden’s nominees.
There are 71 vacancies in district courts and nine openings in appeals courts, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The numbers are set to rise with additional retirements.
* Pass the big infrastructure bills
** Nominate and confirm federal judges
*** Prosecute insurrectionists and investigate Republican treachery
🎶 Music to Believe In 🎶
One of the insidious ways that Republicans have won battles in their hateful culture war has been by convincing the public that there are no terrible consequences for their extremist agenda. How do they do that? By constantly lying to the public and even passing laws to suppress or even completely eliminate any study of the consequences of their disastrous policies which might reveal the truth. Over the past several decades, Republican legislatures have hampered the study of the catastrophic impact on human beings of Republican policy on reproductive rights, gun control and other so-called hot button social issues. In many cases, studying these problems is impossible because Republicans have made it illegal to report the numbers of harms accurately or in proper context.
Taking a page out of the R playbook, perhaps we are about to start chipping away at that iceberg of lies and subterfuge that has been chilling important research for so long:
There Have Been Huge Gaps in FBI Hate Crime Data for Years. A New Law Aims to Fix That. Ken Schwencke, ProPublica, June 4, 2021.
The FBI compiles national data on hate crimes, but it relies on local law enforcement to supply the underlying information. Reports of hate crimes can slip through the cracks at multiple stages in the process: Victims may not report to the police, the police may not classify reports correctly, and, in some cases, the state may simply fail to transmit the data to the FBI. In many jurisdictions, police aren’t trained to understand what makes for a bias-motivated attack. There are wide disparities from agency to agency not only in what’s reported but in how.
The law Biden recently signed — which includes a section named after Jabara and Heyer — supplies grants to help state and local law enforcement agencies switch to a new reporting system that allows for the type of granular data collection needed to understand hate crimes. It also provides money to create state hotlines where people could report bias incidents if they preferred not to go to local police.
The act also provides additional grants for local law enforcement agencies to train officers about hate crimes or to establish new policies, units or reporting systems related to them. ✂️
Law enforcement agencies covering populations of hundreds of thousands frequently say they have no hate crimes, or don’t bother to report anything at all to the FBI. Hate crimes can be mislabeled, such as anti-LGBTQ crimes being reported as “anti-heterosexual.” Police training on how to investigate and collect data on hate crimes is often inadequate and sometimes nonexistent.
Charlottesville Votes to Ditch Confederate Statues That Ignited ‘Unite the Right’ Rally, Jamie Ross, Daily Beast, June 8, 2021.
The argument about whether to remove the two statues, one of Robert E. Lee and one of Stonewall Jackson, has raged for years. The city voted to remove the monuments in 2017, leading to the disastrous white supremacist rally that ended with the murder of one counterprotester, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was mowed down by a car and killed.
Attempts to get rid of the Confederate statues were then tied up in court proceedings following the rally, when a group of citizens filed a lawsuit and a judge granted an injunction to block the removal. However, Virginia’s Supreme Court dismissed that decision in April, opening up the possibility that the Charlottesville City Council could restart their removal efforts.
According to Charlottesville news network WVIR, that’s exactly what happened late on Monday night. During a virtual council meeting, there was a unanimous vote to remove the two statues from city parks. The precise plan for the statues is still to be decided, but the vote at last makes it official that they will no longer be housed in public spaces.
Workers Are Gaining Leverage Over Employers Right Before Our Eyes, Neil Irwin, New York Times, June 5, 2021.
The change is broader than the pandemic-related signing bonuses at fast-food places. Up and down the wage scale, companies are becoming more willing to pay a little more, to train workers, to take chances on people without traditional qualifications, and to show greater flexibility in where and how people work. ✂️
People are demanding more money to take a new job. The “reservation wage,” as economists call the minimum compensation workers would require, was 19 percent higher for those without a college degree in March than in November 2019, a jump of nearly $10,000 a year, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Employers are feeling it: A survey of human resources executives from large companies conducted in April by the Conference Board, a research group, found that 49 percent of organizations with a mostly blue-collar work force found it hard to retain workers, up from 30 percent before the pandemic.
“Companies are going to have to work harder to attract and retain talent,” said Karen Fichuk, who as chief executive of the giant staffing company Randstad North America closely tracks supply and demand for labor. “We think it’s a bit of a historic moment for the American labor force.”
This bears repeating
Democrats’ Plan to Tax the Rich is Sound and Just
(This long section is basically a nifty shout-out to Joe Biden for the excellent American Jobs and American Families acts, and how important it is that we get those passed.)
The wealthiest people in the world, and the richest corporations, do not pay taxes like the rest of us. They pay either grossly reduced taxes or even none at all. That is because our principal form of governmental revenue-raising is via income taxes (yes, we also pay a ton of other taxes, like on retail sales and property — but a big portion of federal and some states’ revenue comes from income taxes). A person’s tax bill is usually calculated on salary or wage earnings and a few other kinds of income sources (like tips, winnings, large gifts, etc). Regular people pay up to keep our government funded and the country running — anywhere from 10%-37% of their taxable income.
But super wealthy people don’t “earn” their annual money the same way that regular people do. And very few of them pay their fair share to support the government, services and infrastructure that they use just like everybody else.
Some don’t draw any salary or wages at all (if they are living on inherited wealth, for instance, and not working at a regular job), so have little or NO taxable income from employment. They instead have investments, usually cleverly distributed in the most tax-saving ways by their accountants, and wind up paying a tiny fraction on those “earnings” compared to what regular people pay on their wages or salaries. The capital gains tax, for instance is only 15% for up to $445,850 in investment gains or 20% for gains over $445,850. That means, if I have 20 million dollars (inherited, to keep the analogy going) invested in various funds, which gain 3% in a year ($600,000 capital gains income), the most I would pay is 20% on that, although more likely I will reduce the income via numerous tax deduction loopholes for rich people, so that I only end up paying 15% or even 0%. Yes, zero.
As you can see with a quick glance at the two charts I’ve provided, that means I, the wealthy heiress, may pay as little as $0 (depending on how many perfectly legal deductions I qualify for, which usually are plenty), or some 15-20% of those investment earnings up to a maximum of $120,000 (if I wind up somehow still having a taxable income of $600,000 after all my rich person investor deductions — at which point, I fire my accountant and find one who is better with creative, tax savvy investment planning).
Meanwhile, the very successful hard-working professional whose 1030 shows that, after regular people deductions, she has taxable income of $600,000 will pay $222,000!
I’ve simplified that to make the point easier to see — obviously there are a lot of exceptions, variations and factors that determine the eventual amount any one pays, but overall, the general rule is that regular people pay and the rich do not.
This unequal and unjust tax system has been the Republican vehicle for ensuring generational wealth stays in just a few (usually conservative) hands, while spreading the cost around over the millions of ordinary Americans so that few people really notice just how badly we are being fleeced.
Enter the Democratic American Jobs and Family Plans. Joe Biden and our Democratic congress people hope to right this wrong by fixing the tax system so that the rich pay their fair share (and also, as noted in previous GNRs, to collect the tax debts that the rich have avoided paying, which they already owed, even within the sweet IRS setup they currently enjoy). If we can collect moneys already owed, that would be trillions! If we tax more fairly in future, then the burden would finally be shifted slightly from the backs of poor and middle class Americans.
Work like the thorough deep dive into the IRS performed by ProPublica really helps to explain just how unfair and unjustifiable our tax system has been for far too long (at least since Reaganomics got its talons into us). This information needs to be shared widely to build up support for the Democratic plans for a better America. I will put a link to the outstanding full coverage/research done by ProPublica on this topic in the Lightning Roundup. You should go read it! Here are the Cole’s notes:
The Secret IRS Files Short Form: A Quick Guide to What We Uncovered, ProPublica, June 8, 2021.
1. Never-before-seen tax records pull back the curtain on how America’s wealthiest manage to pay so little — if anything — in income tax. ✂️
4. The secret IRS trove demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share.
5. Don’t be fooled by income tax payments that appear to be huge.
6. What America’s richest pay in income taxes is minuscule compared with how much their fortunes have grown.
10. For the ultrawealthy, wages are basically pocket change.
Most Americans rely on wages from their jobs for most, if not all, of their income. But when it comes to the top 25 wealthiest Americans, wages barely register. In 2018, these billionaires reported a combined $158 million to the IRS in wages, a mere 1.1% of their total reported incomes for that year.
Our Democrats in Congress have done the legwork and have secured the ability to pass budget-related legislation through Reconciliation at least twice in this fiscal year. Even so, it won’t be easy but we have a decent shot at this and our Dem leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are fighting hard for it. Let’s give them all the support and encouragement we can — see the links in the Here’s How You Can Help section below to contact your congresspeople and help in other ways, too!
And speaking of the American Jobs Act
This is a process — and if we want lasting change, we have to exercise some restraint and allow our experienced Democratic leadership to navigate it:
Biden ends GOP infrastructure talks, starts new negotiations, Lisa Mascaro and Josh Boak, AP, June 8, 2021.
The president is walking away from talks with lead Republican negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito after the two spoke Tuesday, but would welcome her in the new bipartisan group, according to an administrative official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private negotiations.
At the same time, with anxiety running high as time slips by, Democrats are laying the groundwork to pass some or all of the ambitious package on their own. Biden conferred Tuesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about launching the budget resolution process for Senate votes in July, the White House said.
“The President is committed to moving his economic legislation through Congress this summer, and is pursuing multiple paths to get this done,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. ✂️
The Republican senators offered a $928 billion proposal, which included about $330 billion in new spending — but not as much as Biden’s $1.7 trillion investment proposal for rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, highways and other infrastructure, including Veterans Affairs hospitals and care centers.
Biden has proposed raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, a nonstarter for Republicans, and rejected the GOP senators’ suggestion of tapping unspent COVID-19 aid money to fund the new infrastructure spending.
My guess is that Joe and his team are going to do everything they can to give Rs a chance to do the right thing and take some credit for building a better future for Americans. When they fail to do so, I’m pretty sure Democrats will then have a clear path, morally and politically, to go it alone and they may also go big and bold. 🤞😃
Oh! And look what I just found!
Biden tells Schumer to prepare party-line vote for infrastructure plan as talks with GOP break down, Chris Sommerfeldt, New York Daily News, June 8, 2021.
President Biden is ordering Senate Democrats to start preparing for the increasingly likely scenario that they’ll have to pass his infrastructure plan via a complex legislative process that doesn’t require GOP support, signaling that his patience for negotiating with the Republicans is drying up.
Biden, who has tried to reach a compromise with GOP negotiators for weeks, told Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday to “commence work” on a so-called reconciliation resolution for the infrastructure bill he envisions costing at least $1.7 trillion, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. ✂️
“He urged them to continue their work with other Democrats and Republicans to develop a bipartisan proposal that he hopes will be more responsive to the country’s pressing infrastructure needs,” Psaki said.
However, Psaki noted that he’s telling Schumer to start the reconciliation process because he “will not accept inaction as the outcome.”
More than one Democrat is ready, and Bernie is on board too!
Senate Democrats signal they’re ready to ditch GOP on infrastructure as White House turns to new bipartisan group, Joseph Zeballos-Roig and Kimberly Leonard, Insider, June 8, 2021.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats were preparing to use reconciliation, a tactic to approve certain bills with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate.
“We all know as a caucus we will not be able to do all the things that the country needs in a totally bipartisan way,” he said at a weekly news conference. “So at the same time, we are pursuing the pursuit of reconciliation.” ✂️
“I think we have to move this up as quickly as we can,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told reporters. “I have not seen any indication that Republicans are prepared to support the kind of serious legislation this country needs.”
Sanders said any reconciliation bill would include both of Biden’s infrastructure plans — the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan as well as the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. The first is devoted to upgrading roads and bridges, instituting elder care, and revitalize manufacturing among other measures.
And remember the earlier discussion about tax inequality? Well, at least one Democratic Senator is drawing a straight line from this to that:
Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, said Democrats will still need to pass a second bill through reconciliation, along party lines, even if Democrats can agree with Republicans on a smaller physical infrastructure bill focused on fixing roads, bridges and ports. If they can’t, he said, then Democrats will need to include all they can in a reconciliation package.
Casey is pushing for funding for the infrastructure plan to include Biden’s request for a $400 billion fund that would pay for older adults and people with disabilities to get care at home. He dismissed concerns about high spending.
“Those are big numbers but when you consider what corporations and extraordinarily rich people have taken out of the tax code over 40 years, it’s astronomical,” he said. “Even those numbers we are talking about now are dwarfed by the dollars taken out of the tax code because it was rigged.”
💙 Go Dems! 💙
🎶 Music for Better Days 🎶
Gee, I wonder how they did this!
These next two stories were probably the biggest stories in a big news week. They are connected to each other and not only that, they are probably connected to a lot of other ongoing investigations that we have all been impatiently waiting to see bring indictments. These are international, global criminal enterprises with tentacles everywhere. It will take time to unravel and bring justice to bear — and every step of the way is fraught with challenges and dangers, so again, we all need to be patient. But this news ought to reassure everyone that Merrick Garland’s DOJ is making significant progress (the FBI is an agency within the DOJ, reporting to the AG).
How A New Team Of Feds Hacked The Hackers And Got Colonial Pipeline’s Ransom Back, Vanessa Romo, NPR, June 8, 2021.
“Ransomware is very seldom recovered,” said April Falcon Doss, executive director of the Institute for Technology Law and Policy at Georgetown Law, who described it as “a really big win” for the government. “What we don’t know is whether or not this is going to pave the way for future similar successes.” ✂️
Court documents released in the Colonial Pipeline case say the FBI got in by using the encryption key linked to the Bitcoin account to which the ransom money was delivered. However, officials have not disclosed how they got that key. One of the reasons criminals like to use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is the anonymity of the entire system, as well as the idea that funds in any given cryptocurrency wallet can be accessed only with a complex digital key.
“The private key is, from a technology perspective, the thing that made it possible to seize these funds,” Doss said. She added that cyberattackers will go to great lengths to guard any information that could lead someone to associating the key with an individual or organization: “They’re going to really try and cover their tracks.”
OH! That’s how they did it!
Global sting: FBI-run messaging app tricks organized crime, Mike Corder and Nick Perry, AP, June 7, 2021.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Criminal gangs divulged plans for moving drug shipments and carrying out killings on a messaging app secretly run by the FBI, law enforcement agencies said Tuesday, as they unveiled a global sting operation they said dealt an “unprecedented blow” to organized crime in countries around the world.
The operation known as Trojan Shield led to police raids in 16 nations. More than 800 suspects were arrested and more than 32 tons of drugs — including cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines and methamphetamines — were seized along with 250 firearms, 55 luxury cars and more than $148 million in cash and cryptocurrencies. ✂️
Intelligence gathered and analyzed “enabled us to prevent murders. It led to the seizure of drugs that led to the seizure of weapons. And it helped prevent a number of crimes,” Calvin Shivers, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, told a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands.
Golly, think of the possiblities!
Think of all the criminal networks whose communications have been captured in this sting.
More on the same topic as above, since this is also a global story: Global sting began by creating message service for crooks, MIKE CORDER, NICK PERRY and ELLIOT SPAGAT, AP, June 8, 2021.
When ANOM (the secure-messaging service built by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies) was taken down Monday, authorities had collected more than 27 million messages from about 12,000 devices in 45 languages — a vast body of evidence that fueled a global sting operation. Authorities on Tuesday revealed the operation known as Trojan Shield and announced that it had dealt an “unprecedented blow” to organized crime around the world.
“Each and every device in this case was used to further criminal activity,” said Suzanne Turner, the agent in charge of the FBI in San Diego, where the investigation began in 2016. Users were “upper-echelon, command-and-control” figures in more than 300 criminal organizations.
The operation was led by the FBI with the involvement of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the European Union police agency Europol and law enforcement agencies in several countries, said Dutch National Police Chief Constable Jannine van den Berg.
Australian Federal Police Commander Jennifer Hearst called it “a watershed moment in global law enforcement history.”
Bibi Out: Unusual coalition In
Just Sentence Upheld, this monster will die in prison
Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic loses genocide appeal, Mike Corder, AP, June 8, 2021.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Ratko Mladic, the military chief known as the “Butcher of Bosnia” for orchestrating genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Balkan nation’s 1992-95 war, lost his final legal battle Tuesday when U.N. judges rejected his appeals and affirmed his life sentence.
The ruling involving his 2017 convictions and sentence closed a grim chapter in European history that included the continent’s first genocide since World War II — the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
The now-frail Mladic, often belligerent at his court appearances in The Hague, showed no reaction other than a scowl as Presiding Judge Prisca Matimba Nyambe of Zambia said the panel had dismissed, by a vote of 4-1, his appeals of convictions for crimes including genocide, murder, extermination and terror for atrocities throughout the war that killed more than 100,000 and left millions homeless.
VP Harris in Central America and Mexico
🎶Music for a Better World 🎶
Republicans in DIsarray
MA Gov under fire
Massachusetts GOP in civil war over whether to keep their popular governor — for disloyalty to Trump, Matthew Chapman, June 8, 2021.
Massachusetts’ Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is one of the most popular governors in the country, with even a majority of Democratic voters in the overwhelmingly liberal stronghold approving of his job performance. He maintains this rating largely by bending to the will of the voters and legislature on social issues, while distancing himself from former President Donald Trump.
But according to POLITICO, this distance from the former president has led to discontent from some Republicans in Massachusetts — and the party is arguing over whether they even want Baker to run for another term.
“Baker still has plenty of support within the party,” reported Lisa Kashinsky. “But there’s been talk of a censure and of party rule changes that could make things more difficult for Baker to win the nomination next year. The state GOP chair recently sought to diminish Baker’s authority by knocking him off the committee that determines party endorsements. If the governor chooses to seek a third term in 2022 — he hasn’t indicated his intentions yet — there are signs he could get a challenge on his right flank.”
Oregon Republican Facing Expulsion
Nearman is currently facing criminal prosecution on charges stemming from his actions last December (allowing a mob to gain entry into the statehouse).
Tensions on display in Oregon House, as Nearman expulsion effort moves forward, Dirk Vanderhart, OPB, June 8, 2021.
Discussion over a relatively minor change to Oregon House rules became uncommonly tense Tuesday, as Democrats and Republicans differed on how they want to approach possible expulsion proceedings against state Rep. Mike Nearman over his role in the Dec. 12 incursion by far-right protesters at the Oregon Capitol building. ✂️
While some Republicans appear to dislike the proposal to create a special committee, Nearman said Monday there will be at least the required 40 votes to eject him. “On Friday morning, they’ll vote to expel me, and I believe they have the votes,” Nearman told conservative radio host Lars Larson.
Whether or not an expulsion vote will occur as early as Friday is unclear. Without authority to hold work sessions, the special committee had not yet set a hearing date of Tuesday morning. If the committee were to pass a resolution to expel Nearman, the matter would then need to go before the full House.
Nearman suggested to Larson on Monday that he would allow the vote to occur, rather than pre-empting it with a resignation as former state Rep. Diego Hernandez did earlier this year.
MAGAWORLD also at war with itself
I have very little time or respect for George Conway — a Federalist Society nutter who was A-OK with (and enabled) all the R shenanigans for decades, including one of his pet projects, getting Brett “the boofer” Kavanaugh on to the Supreme Court, along with all the other far right “justices” he supported — but this is a case of “the enemy of my enemy” can maybe cough up a bit of truth now and then. Also, to see establishment extremists who have carefully orchestrated the rising Republican authoritarianism over 40 years now discarding the ultimate tools they hoped to use to execute their endgame is good news for all who value freedom and democracy.
What if This Is Just the Tip of Trumpworld’s Iceberg of Crazy? Daily Beast “The New Abnormal”, June 8, 2021.
Emails between Meadows and the DOJ were uncovered over the weekend. And there’s likely to be more to come. This is only “tip of the iceberg of all the crazy stuff that went on this winter,” George Conway tells Molly Jong-Fast on the latest episode of The New Abnormal. “These guys were doing some wild, wild stuff. And it wasn’t just the campaign and the kooky campaign hangers-on, and the lawyers who were working on the campaign, like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. This stuff was going on in the White House.” ✂️
“You’re running close to sedition here, trying to get government officials to act in support of a conspiracy theory to overturn the results of an election. I mean, there could be a criminal conspiracy involved there. That’s not protected by free speech,” he says.
Conway adds, “Maybe the Justice Department will move on up from the people, the 500-600 people who were at the Capitol [on Jan. 6] to other things. Like who organized the rally, and who at the White House was communicating with those people, and what else those people were doing at the White House to try to keep Trump in office. And I think all of these things relate at a certain level and ought to be fully investigated.”
Breakup in Trumpworld as aides say Jan. 6 planner was fired, Sarah K Burris, Raw Story, June 8, 2021.
President Donald Trump is at a transition in his life after he lost the presidency, lost his Twitter account, lost his Facebook account, and all other social media accounts, before ultimately shutting down his failed blog. Trump has now lost his top fundraiser, according to BusinessInsider.
A Tuesday report revealed that Caroline Wren, “who played a key role in organizing the January 6 ‘Save America Rally'” was fired. The report explained that there was a disagreement over who controlled President Donald Trump’s fundraising apparatus post-campaign. ✂️
“She was moving in on their turf, so I’m not surprised to see they’re gunning at her now,” a Republican strategist told Insider.
“Text messages and an event-planning memo obtained by ProPublica, along with an interview with Chafian, indicate that Wren, a Washington insider with a low public profile, played an extensive role in managing operations for the event. The records show that Wren oversaw logistics, budgeting, funding and messaging for the Jan. 6 rally that featured President Donald Trump,” said the report.
Congress is seeking out information on the Jan. 6 rally, which Wren could certainly provide. 👀
Feckless Old Fa*t only fooling fanbase
Team Trump is noticeably short on team members, Steve Benen, MSNBC, June 8, 2021.
From a distance, it’s easy to imagine Trump surrounded by a small army of sycophantic former White House aides, following a few steps behind him, jotting down his directives as he barks assorted orders.
The truth, however, appears to be far more pitiful. The New York Times reports that the former president slips into Manhattan to work out of Trump Tower at least once a week, but “the place isn’t as he left it.” ✂️
On the one hand we see a former president, who had to shut down his blog because so few people were reading it, standing “mostly alone,” overseeing a “ragtag” political operation. He’s unpopular; he’s facing multiple investigations; and he’s been reduced to muttering absurdities about being “reinstated” to power based on bonkers conspiracy theories and an ignorance about American civics. The phrase “how the mighty have fallen” keeps coming to mind.
On the other hand, we see that same former president leading a major political party, wielding considerable power over the GOP’s direction and priorities, and preparing for a possible third national campaign. ✂️
It’s an increasingly bizarre dynamic, but it’s one the GOP appears reluctant to abandon.
Lindsey Graham, during remarks in which he threw his own family under the bus, alllllmmooosstt had a revelation:
Lindsey Graham wants to kill unemployment benefits because members of his own family ‘ain’t working’, David Edwards, Raw Story, June 8, 2021.
Graham interrupted to assert that the “enhanced unemployment benefit is deterring people from re-entering into the workforce.”
“There’s a lot of jobs out there that are unfilled and will never be filled until you change the benefit structure,” he said. ✂️
“So the bottom line is I think there are people out there that are not bad people but they’re not going to work for $15/hour if they can make $23 unemployed,” he added. “That doesn’t make you a bad person. If you’re working for $15/hour that makes you almost a chump.”
Graham called the unemployment benefits a “real problem.”
“I think we incentivize people not to work because simply they make more money,” he opined. “I’m not blaming them, I’m blaming us.”
He almost realized the truth! He even referred to the fact that most people want to work and find it more dignified to work for their income! So far, so good! Then, he went from that understanding of truth and reality to exactly the wrong conclusions.
When Lindsey said he was “blaming us” for the interesting unofficial general strike dynamic we’ve got going on, he didn’t mean “I’m blaming us for passing laws that kneecapped labor unions and forced millions of Americans to work for starvation wages. We should raise the minimum wage!”. No no no! Lindsey meant, “I’m blaming us for allowing the enhanced unemployment benefits to happen at all, (giving workers enough breathing room to think about just how unfair and cruel our Republican policies have been, and possibly we inadvertently encouraged working Americans to say NO MORE. Dang)!”
Social media knew what he meant, and reacted accordingly:
‘Lying’ Lindsey Graham faces backlash after throwing his own family under the bus to bash unemployment benefits, Eric W Dolan, Raw Story, June 8, 2021.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) faced blowback on social media after claiming Tuesday that members of his own family were not going to work because they were getting unemployment benefits.
The GOP senator said at a budget hearing that enhanced unemployment benefits, which were implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, were preventing people from returning to work.
Many people on Twitter assumed the Graham was lying about his family members. Others said that his comments showed that wages in the United States should be higher.
The good news here is that people had the time to take stock of their own lives during the enforced pandemic shutdown (and those who could not work from home, were confronted with the bitter truth about their “essential” work and how much it is valued; that is, the work is essential, but the workers are not valued). Republicans want to force essential workers to keep working for poverty wages no matter the risk to their health and well-being. It’s unconscionable, and it’s been their goal forever, but it took this international crisis for that truth to be confirmed in all its naked ugliness.
People have woken up and hopefully will not accept the status quo anymore. Someone referred to the reluctance of workers to step back into low-paying jobs and back onto the soul-destroying treadmill that is our unfettered capitalist economy as a kind of general strike. The very thing labor activists were saying we needed years ago has happened somewhat organically — at a grass roots level, even — and it may help start the ball rolling toward real change.
This won’t be news to most people reading here — it’s been written about quite a bit by psychiatrists like Dr Bandy Lee, as well as about people who have personal experience with malignant narcissism — but here’s a reminder that as indictments start to loom, things will get very ugly for the trump crime family:
Mary Trump explains how former president will throw his kids under the bus, Roxanne Cooper, Raw Story, June 8, 2021.
Cuomo began the interview by asking Mary Trump if her uncle would “take one for his kids” if they were investigated by prosecutors focused on criminal activity in the Trump Organization — where both Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump are still on the payroll.
“No, he wouldn’t…I think if that were to happen, if prosecutors were to go after his children, he would fully expect them to take a hit for him, to benefit him. What he probably doesn’t understand is that’s not really how it works. [Prosecutors] “always try to get people to flip so they can go after the bigger target,” said Mary Trump.
“But Donald would never imagine in a million years that his children would do that, although I’m fairly sure they would,” the former president’s niece added. “So if that indeed happens, it’s going to be fascinating because he would never do anything to protect them if it were at his expense.”
QAnon at a Crossroads: Leaders Try to Rein In the Crazy, Will Sommer, Daily Beast, June 8, 2021.
When pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell took the stage at a QAnon convention in Dallas late last month, she was wearing a biker vest with a “Q” patch sewn on the back. And yet, when Powell began speaking, she did the unexpected: she trashed some of QAnon’s most cherished ideas. ✂️
“I don’t have any evidence that there’s some grand underlying plan, pursuant to which all this is going to be made right,” Powell said. “I don’t want to give anybody false hope that this is happening.” ✂️
QAnon now finds itself without a central figure: Trump is out of office; And the anonymous “Q,” whose clues make up the conspiracy theory movement’s basis, has been silent since last December.
Followers of the nonsensical collection of conspiracy theories are now looking for guidance from a diffuse group of leaders in the QAnon movement. And the leaders—some pure hucksters and some pure screwballs—have very different visions for where the coalition should go.
speaking of q craziness — FAFO, Buster
Capitol rioter who chased cop changes heart in court — and denounces ‘silly’ QAnon as ‘pack of lies’: report, Matthew Chapman, Raw Story, June 8, 2021.
“After spending five months ‘languishing in a D.C. jail cell’, Jensen has had a change of heart, calling the conspiracy theory that led him from his home in Des Moines, Iowa, to the nation’s capital ‘a pack of lies,'” reported David Gilbert. “‘[My client] became a victim of numerous conspiracy theories that were being fed to him over the internet by a number of very clever people, who were uniquely equipped with slight, if any, moral or social consciousness,’ Davis wrote in a document filed ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.”
“He simply went to observe ‘The Storm,'” continued Davis, referring to the supposed QAnon uprising moment when former President Donald Trump would declare martial law and throw Democrats and pedophile overlords in prison to await military trial. “He was at the front of the crowd but in no way leading anyone. He was in front of everyone for the now-disclosed silly reason to get Q recognized for ‘The Storm’ that was about to take place.”
A previous filing by Jensen’s lawyer noted that Jensen “did not foresee the destruction of his family” from his involvement in the riot. He was only there because he heeded the president’s call, the lawyer said.
🎶 Music for Q Believers 🎶
⚡️Lightning RoundUp ⚡️
⚡️Yer Wonkette: 70 Percent Of Americans Gay For Gay Marriage, Happy F*ckin’ Pride! Evan Hurst, Wonkette, June 8, 2021.
⚡️ Here’s that deep dive into our unequal tax system I promised: The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax, Jesse Eisinger, Jeff Ernsthausen and Paul Kiel, ProPublica, June 8, 2021.
⚡️ Read this, you’ll be glad you did: Robin D.G. Kelley: The Tulsa Race Massacre Went Way Beyond “Black Wall Street”, George Yancy, Truthout, June 1, 2021.
⚡️ Handy reference guide as we celebrate PRIDE month: A Guide To Gender Identity Terms, Laurel Wamsley, NPR, June 2, 2021
⚡️Outa this world, man! You are now free to move about the cosmos … if you can afford it, Christian Davenport, Washington Post, June 8, 2021.
⚡️Fascinating, long read: How America Fractured Into Four Parts, George Packer, The Atlantic, June 2021.
⚡️Interview with Pres. Obama: Barack Obama on GOP’s war against democracy: “Unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago”, Igor Derysh, Salon, June 8, 2021.
⚡️Day of Reckoning coming, hopefully: The Scandal Rocking the Evangelical World, Peter Wehner, The Atlantic, June 7, 2021.
⚡️Just like TFG does all his criming: “Planned in plain sight”: Why Donald Trump makes no attempt to hide his insurrectionist plots, Amanda Marcotte, Salon, June 8, 2021.
💗Here’s How You Can Help Build Our Democracy Back Better 💗
Put your beautiful bleeding liberal heart into it!
Democratic litigation hero, Marc Elias was the legal eagle behind the 60 Big Lie losses after the election. Here’s his website, Democracy Docket. You can find information about current cases he is fighting to defend voting rights around the country, as well as actions you can take to help fight voter suppression at the link!
Write to voters around the country with Postcards to Voters. Progressive Muse usually posts an update on current campaigns in the comments and you can also check out the website. It’s easy, fun and it really works to GOTV!
🎩 Also, Goody posted a great list of links and I am going to borrow it because it’s great! 🎩
The only way they can win is by keeping people from voting. They are working like heck to make that happen and we need to do all we can to keep 2022 from being a year when they grab the Senate and House back from us.
How do we do that? Fight voter suppression!
What can you do?
- Contact your local representative NOW to encourage them to pass the For the People Act. This link makes it easy to do!
- The ACLU plays a key role in filing lawsuits that often stop voter suppression. Get involved with them at this link.
- The League of Women Voters work year-round to combat voter suppression through advocacy, grassroots organizing, legal action and public education. You can get involved with them at this link
- Volunteer with Black Votes Matter at this link. They have on the ground work in 10 states and people from other states can write postcards, phone bank, fundraise, and text.
- Spread The Vote works to get voters IDs before voting begins. You can volunteer with them at this link.
- CALL YOUR SENATORS and let them know that voting rights are at the top of your agenda!
- Most important: DON’T LOSE HOPE. This is a giant and important fight for us but, win or lose, we keep fighting and voting and organizing and spreading truth and light. We never give up.
HERE’S HOW TO CONTACT CONGRESS:
U.S. House of Representatives:* Telephone: 202-225-3121
* Website: http://www.house.gov/
U.S. Senate:* Telephone: 202-224-3121
* Website: http://www.senate.gov/
💙RoundUp WindDown 💙
That’s it from me for another week, Gnusies. I had hoped to tie it all up with a unifying theme this week, but a series of home repairs and the racket involved sort of short-fused my brain. LOL 🤪
Not to worry, though. The news itself is good enough without me putting a fancy spin on it — although if you want a theme, here’s one: Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day and our bold beautiful better-built country won’t be either. But we’ve already started laying the foundation.
Here’s another: Let yourself believe that our Joe and our Democratic leadership in Congress have the experience, the determination and the fortitude to face the incredible challenges in front of them and us. They are not perfect (no human is!), but they are committed and they are working hard on our behalf. For pete’s sake, they were attacked in their workplace by a horde of violent fanatics who wanted to kill them! And they are still there (knowing the threat still endures) working harder than ever to fulfill the promises we sent them there to keep for us!
Now, I am as anxious as the next liberal to see all of my liberal dreams fulfilled SOON, but I’m sure as hell not going to question the guts or the determination of our Democratic Congresspersons. And frankly, in this fight for the soul of the country (as Joe would say) and for justice, equality and truth, I can’t think of any better people to entrust with our immediate future than these public servants who faced mayhem and murder and still came back to keep working for us.
Let’s give them a chance to show us what they can do, OK?
I’m signing off for another Wednesday. I’ll look forward to your remarks, news and reaction to the VA and NJ primaries in the comments! Thanks for being here!
HAPPY WEDNESDAY, GNUSIES!
Diary edited to add “or 400 years of white supremacy” in introduction. I blame the gremlins who stole my words for stealing that phrase, too.