Welcome 😄 to Friday’s Roundup of Good News!

After four years of an administration with the goals of malevolence and grift (tempered only by disorganized incompetence) — after decades of Rs maintaining that the government was good for nothing, and most of them actively working to make it so — the Biden administration, in its less than 100 days, has not been letting pansies grow under its feet.

Problems so old that I had become used to them — or because I had given up on them — are finally being addressed.

The most pressing problem has been the pandemic. The CDC reports 255,400,665 vaccinations distributed, and 198,317,040 vaccinations in arms, as of the morning of April 15.

Now, consider infrastructure. On Monday, April 12, the administration released information showing what each state will get. Isn’t this brilliant? Did other administrations do this? They even graded the states’ current infrastructure (the best grade I saw was a C+, but I did not look at them all.)

They’re also addressing potential consequences (inflation) of pumping money into the economy. Biden finally plans to get us out of Afghanistan (I am not sure I agree with him on this, but I do think it’s time to declare the war part over). There’s movement on gun violence (my god, the gun violence is terrible, but this is the GNR). DC statehood. The stacking of the Supreme Court. Racial inequities are being addressed. The domestic terrorist problem. And on, and on.

Biden and his administration are doing so much. They are showing us that competence matters. That the US can lead. 

Come on in and see what is being done, and add all the good gnus you too, can find.


Regular Scheduled Programming

No one here is naïve; we are aware of the many who are fighting to destroy our country. Some of us expected it: the cheating, the lying, the chaos, and yes, even the attempts to cling to power despite the clear will of the people. But we are here to read the efforts and the positive results of those (including us and our fellow gnus) who are working so hard to save our country from those very bad people.  We are furious with them for what they are doing and we are letting them know.  Remember:

💚  There are more of us than there are of them.

💛 They are terrified when we organize.  THERE IS LOTS OF EVIDENCE THAT THEY ARE TERRIFIED!

💔 They want us to be demoralized. We have to keep demoralizing them. Name, blame and shame!  IT IS WORKING! WE HAVE EVIDENCE THAT THEY ARE DEMORALIZED!

💙 The best way to keep up your spirits is to fight. So, take the time to recharge your batteries, but find ways to contribute to the well-being of our country and our world.

🗽 Biden as President!🗽

Biden, Harris and their administration have been hard at work. Here are the last week’s posts at the White House briefing room.

👎 Out with the Bad, In with the Good 👍

One of the horrible things is how terrorists have been trained by our own military, because it has recruited or even nurtured extremists. (Although I have always thought if you were an extremist, you would want to go into the armed forces.) At least the problem of white supremacists is finally being addressed. Stephen Robinson, Wonkette

When Lloyd Austin, the first Black secretary of Defense, took over at the Pentagon this year, he ordered each branch of the military to stand down over the next 60 days to “discuss” the threat posed by white supremacy and rightwing extremism. Presumably, if this was more than just Insurrectionist Book Club, they’d also actually address the threat. After all, a disturbing number of current and former members of the military participated in the January 6 siege on the Capitol,

Friday, Austin announced next steps in identifying and weeding out white supremacists and rightwing extremists. It’s likely more complicated than asking “Would you have coffee with Stephen Miller?” but hopefully no less effective.

NBC News reports:

Under Austin’s instruction, the Pentagon’s top lawyer and other officials will review and update the department’s definition of “prohibited extremist activities” for all service members. Critics have said the Pentagon needs to take into account how extremism has evolved in the digital era, and how some adherents engage in more loosely formed networks.

The secretary also called for updated screening questionnaires for potential recruits to gather information about current or previous extremist behavior “to ensure that only the best qualified recruits are selected for the services,” according to the memo.

The questionnaires, which would be standardized across the armed forces, would also clarify any “demonstrably false answers” that could later hold a service member accountable and form the basis “for punitive action for fraudulent enlistment,” it said.

It is not an easy problem to solve. I’d recommending getting FOX News out of the military TV lineup and working on the crazy evangelical wing of the Air Force. But at least they are addressing the problem.

Finally, connecting the tRump campaign to Russia Josh Kovensky, Talking Points Memo, members only article (sorry)

The Treasury Department provided a big missing link on Thursday to a longstanding mystery from the Trump-Russia investigation: what happened to the internal polling data that Paul Manafort gave to his alleged Russian spy sidekick?

The answer was resoundingly simple: it went to Russian intelligence agencies, via alleged spy and longtime Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik. ✂️ 

It’s not clear why this is coming out now. We don’t have access to the evidence that underlies the claim; we also know that the Trump White House stymied all previous investigations into the matter.

It’s no less important that this came as the Treasury announced new, somewhat tighter sanctions on Russia. I’ll leave unanswered the question of whether those measures are more bark or more bite, but they’re coming as part of a message that the U.S. will impose serious costs on Moscow for election interference and hacking.

This looks as if it is something intelligence knew but could not say during the previous administration.

Letting out this information, in drips, drops, and in a waterfall, is important for discrediting the tRumpists and the Rs. Which leads to more problems, we hope, for both:

💣 Republicans in Disarray 💣

Republicans hoping that tRump will somehow go away…

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Again, the obvious answer is to join with others and abandon him.

One R is open about her contempt for tRump

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GOP lawmaker frustrated with colleagues who got him sick Raw Story Meaghan Ellis, AlterNet

According to MLive, Jason Watts, treasurer of the 6th District Republican Party in Michigan, attended a dinner meeting for his organization on Thursday, March 31. The Republican official noted that he felt obligated to attend due to hushed conversations about the possibility of him being ousted due to his criticism of former President Donald Trump. ✂️ 

When he arrived at the restaurant in Portage, Mich., he was alarmed to see that meeting attendees were nearly maskless. According to Watts, he was one of approximately three attendees who wore a mask while the meeting was underway. 

Shortly after attending the meeting, Watts tested positive for COVID. He also estimated that approximately 6 others became ill after attending the meeting, the publication reports.

Now, nearly two weeks later, he is still in the hospital recovering from the virus. The frustrated Republican leader weighed in on the politicization of masks and the vaccine as he criticized the efforts to undermine public health practices.

We know he should have walked out, but some of these Rs are slow learners. The others refuse to learn at all.

And they have lots of problems.

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 💙 Democrats Being Cool 💙

Some people need to shut up…

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This diary at Daily Kos shows how well the progressives are doing in Wisconsin Steve Singiser

On April 6, progressives got a big boost when Jill Underly easily defeated Deb Kerr in the battle for Wisconsin’s superintendent of public instruction by a double-digit margin. The office, which oversees schools throughout the state, is nominally nonpartisan, but the state Democratic Party endorsed Underly while a host of conservative luminaries (including former Gov. Scott Walker) sided with Kerr.

It might be tempting to dismiss any tea leaves from this contest: It was a spring election in an off-year, turnout was relatively low, and both candidates were, technically, Democrats. But turnout was in fact up 30% compared to the last election for schools chief in 2017, and it would serve us well to look a little deeper into the nature of Underly’s 58-42 landslide win in a state that was one of the closest in the 2020 presidential election. So what happened?

1. KERR’S STRATEGY ON EDUCATION MIMICKED THE GOP’S 2021 RHETORIC ON SCHOOLS. IT FAILED—BADLY

Republicans may try to dismiss the results as irrelevant, given that both candidates were nominally Democrats. Underly’s bonafides were never in question, but Kerr, despite her vocal support from Republicans, claimed to be a “pragmatic Democrat” who supported Joe Biden. Yet for the duration of the race, Kerr mimicked large parts of the GOP’s rhetoric on education. She was an early advocate, for instance, of the “return to school” mantra that has become a conservative staple in the time of COVID. She also took a very GOP-friendly approach to school vouchers.

Kerr made sure to target teachers’ unions, in this case specifically tying them to the “failure” of urban schools to reopen amid the pandemic, claiming that “the five largest school districts have not reopened because they have been strong-armed by the teachers’ unions. Arguments like these were amplified by conservative commentators, like Republican lobbyist Bill McCoshen (himself a possible candidate for governor), who called Underly “the teachers’ union candidate” and declared, “Deb Kerr is for the kids. Jill Underly is for the teachers.”

Republicans have long been convinced that Democrats would suffer for their caution in reopening schools, allowing them to ride voter antipathy toward teachers’ unions to political reward. That theory got a real-life test on April 6, and the result wasn’t even close: a 16-point margin for the “union candidate” in a traditional swing state that Biden carried by less than 1 point last year. And, given all we saw during the campaign, no one can say that the two candidates didn’t stake out contrasting positions on the issue that conservatives were convinced would be a winner for them, both now and in 2022.

There’s more. And it’s important to see reasonable ideas taking hold in places such as Wisconsin.

Then there’s this:

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💙 policies are simply more popular … and more trustworthy

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💜 Unity? 💜

The Biden American jobs program is popular Greg Sargent Washington Post

A new poll for the New York Times by Survey Monkey finds the overall plan is backed by 64 percent of Americans. Importantly, large majorities support both the “real” and “fake” infrastructure provisions: 84 percent support funding for highways, roads and bridges, and 78 percent support funding for ports, waterways and airports (“real”), while 67 percent support funding for mass transit and 78 percent support it for nationwide high-speed broadband (“fake”).

Rs were planning to filibuster everything, but nevertheless decide that maybe not on this. Nicole Lafond and Cristina Cabrera Talking points memo

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced the legislation in an attempt to address the uptick in violent hate crimes against Asian Americans in the U.S. over the past year, a spike that coincided with former President Trump and other Republicans using racist, anti-Asian rhetoric to describe the COVID-19 pandemic. ✂️ 

But after their caucus lunch yesterday, Republicans reportedly expressed willingness to at least bring the legislation to the floor for debate and offer some amendments to the legislation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) already indicated she would vote with Democrats to bring the bill to the floor and other Republicans are planning to do the same, a GOP source told Politico

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday that he at least supports the intent of the bill.

“As a proud husband of an Asian American woman, I think this discrimination against Asian Americans is a real problem,” McConnell said. “I’m hoping we will work out an agreement to get on the bill in a normal way, have some amendments and move to final passage.”

Here’s the vote to advance the legislation:

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📥 Actions You Can Take 📤

Voting rights. This may be the biggest issue threatening our democracy right now. Besides contacting your representatives at the state and federal level to do the right thing (depending on who they are), you can support and contact these organizations:

ACLUAmerican Civil Liberties Union

Democracy Docket — founded by Marc Elias, so important in fighting the challenges after the last election.

Fair Fight — founded by Stacey Abrams

🌱Grass roots. Biden and Harris can do the top-down stuff, but we have to support from the bottom. I don’t know how to deprogram 75 million people, but some things have been written about, such as deep canvassing, and lots of people are talking about this. If you know someone (who did not storm the Capitol), then see if you can be pleasant. Instead of trying to reason with them (logic is obviously not their strong point) distract them with something else. We need to remove the sources of lies and to take down the temperature. If we get more of the Rs to wear masks and to get vaccinated and to vote for Ds, the country will be a better place. We need to coax some of them out of the rabbit holes and diffuse the anger and the crazy.

🏃 Run for something. If you want to run for something, but have no idea what to do, these people will help you. They also like money and volunteers to help those people who are running, so even if you’re not in a position to stand for office, you can help. Note: they are especially planning to target the 57 Rs in local governments who participated in the insurrection.

👎 Defund the seditionists. This is a list with companies that sometimes have donated to the seditionists, and their current approach to supporting or not supporting the seditionists. The list is long. You will recognize many of the corporations, and you probably have a relationship with some — either you are a customer, a shareholder, or maybe even an employee. Contact them and compliment or complain, but let them know you are watching. Forward it to others.

🐍 Schadenfreude 😈

🎩 hpg

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tRumpworld gates are closed to Gaetz Talking Points Memo

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Agate, not related to the story, but appeared when I typed in “gate”.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is currently being investigated by the feds over allegations of sex trafficking involving a 17-year-old, seems to have found himself kicked out of his idolized leader’s orbit.

CNN reports that ex-President Donald Trump’s aides recently denied Gaetz’s request to meet with him at Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Additionally, the aides have reportedly warned Trump against sticking up for the Florida Republican, who publicly volunteered to resign from Congress to defend Trump in the impeachment trial in February.

Note this story is denied by tRump and gaetz, but they are not known for telling the truth.

📣 Let’s Honor Truth ☀️ 

Given all the terrible murders of blacks by police, and how we have seen how bystanders attempted, and failed, to stop the murder of George Floyd, you may be wondering if it is ever possible to stop murder, to intervene. The answer is yes. Now, many times we may not even know about the intervention, because if an interaction does not result in death or severe injury, it gets less attention. In the case of Cariol Horne, we do know. Stephen Robinson, Wonkette

Hey, let’s talk about a good cop for once! I know more than one tune. In 2006, Buffalo Police Officer Cariol Horne stopped fellow cop Gregory Kwiatkowski from choking a handcuffed Black man during an arrest. Here’s how Horne, who is Black, described the scene at a domestic dispute inside the home of Neal Mack and his girlfriend.

Gregory Kwiatkowski turned Neal Mack around and started choking him so then I’m like, “Greg! You’re choking him,” because I thought whatever happened in the house he was still upset about so when he didn’t stop choking him, I just grabbed his arm from around Neal Mack’s neck.

That seemed reasonable, but Kwiatkowski punched her in the nose like a common Tom Buchanan. This required surgery, but Kwiatkowski considered himself the wounded party. He claimed she jumped on his back and struck him with her hands, obstructing his arrest. Kwiatkowski later filed a defamation suit against Horne for $65,000, which he won. He only collected $20,000, though. Buffalo’s not that racist.

Horne was fired from the Buffalo PD in 2008, just a few months before she could receive her pension. She’d served on the force for 19 years, but it was determined she’d put her fellow officers in danger when she tried to prevent Kwiatkowski from strangling a suspect. Kwiatkowski was promoted to lieutenant later that year.

Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. Kwiatkowski got in trouble later for excessive force, they passed a law requiring police to intervene when they see excessive force, and a judge finally overturned the firing of Horne, meaning she is getting her pension and back pay.

She stepped forward and suffered for it. 

🌹 Let’s Celebrate Love ❤️ 

Adopting 7 orphaned siblings  Good News Network

While the prospect of an empty nest is bittersweet, most parents look forward to some uninterrupted couple time when their kids finally fly the coop. But for one California husband and wife, rather than a cozy retirement, they found themselves feathering their nest all over again—with seven adopted kids.

The odyssey began back in January 2019, as Pam Willis was scanning Facebook. She says a post titled ‘Seven Siblings in Need of Forever Home’ “hit her like a ton of bricks.”

The story revealed that after the children’s mother and father perished in a car accident a year earlier, the siblings had been placed in foster care. “In that instant, their sweet smiling faces jumped off of the screen and into my heart,” she posted to Instagram. ✂️

“I think it’s so hard to trust when so much has been taken from your life,” Pam Willis told TODAY. “One night, my then-7-year-old came into our room. I asked her, ‘Did you have a bad dream?’ And she replied, ‘No, I just wanted to make sure that you were still here.’”

A reunion to make you cry… good tears…
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📎Odds & Ends 📎

❤️ We have good people in the country

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☁️ Dutch cities moving to ban vehicles emitting emissions Douglas Broom Ecowatch

Cities in the Netherlands want to make their air cleaner by banning fossil fuel delivery vehicles from urban areas from 2025.

“Now that we are spending more time at home, we are noticing the large number of delivery vans and lorries driving through cities,” said Netherlands environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven, announcing plans to ban all but zero-emission deliveries in 14 cities.

“The agreements we are setting down will ensure that it will be a matter of course that within a few years, supermarket shelves will be stocked, waste will be collected, and packages will arrive on time, yet without any exhaust fumes and CO2 emissions,” she added.

She expects 30 cities to announce zero emission urban logistics by this summer. City councils must give four years’ notice before imposing bans as part of government plans for emission-free road traffic by 2050. The city bans aim to save 1 megaton of CO2 each year by 2030.

🚋 France moving to ban short-haul flights  Olivia Rosane EcoWatch

France moved one step closer this weekend to banning short-haul flights in an

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Some trains in France

to fight the climate crisis.

A bill prohibiting regional flights that could be replaced with an existing train journey of less than two and a half hours passed the country’s National Assembly late on Saturday, as Reuters reported.

“We know that aviation is a contributor of carbon dioxide and that because of climate change we must reduce emissions,” Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Europe 1 radio, according to Reuters.

🐦 I do a lot of other writing. My most recent offering: Hunters of the Feather, a story about a thinker-linker crow who wants to save birdkind from extinction. (It’s really good! It’s really cheap! Buy it! Review or rate it positively! Now available on Audible!) Other stories, based on Jane Austen novels and others on Greek mythology, can be found here.

💙 What You Can Do to Rescue Democracy 💙

It turns out that participation in democracy is not just an every-four-years event but requires active participation, like, whenever you can find time.

Current projects:

Look in the comments for Progressive Muse’s report on Postcards to Voters

And some other ideas:

You can relax and recharge.

You can join protests and freeway blog.

You can help register new voters.

You can smile.

You can get out the vote for special elections.

You can reach out to upset Republicans.  We need to win some back.

You can share your ideas below.

🌻

💙 Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured.” 💙

President Joseph R. Biden

🌹 🌹 🌹

TRUTH MATTERS. LOVE MATTERS.

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