Good Day, Gnusies! Let’s get straight to the news! (right after we welcome September with some music!)
🎶 Music for September 🎶
Reminder — this is ongoing in the background, no matter how much distraction the Rs try to create:
In Joe Biden, we have a President again
Whether you agree with him or not, it is undeniable that Joe Biden makes the tough decisions and takes responsibility for them, too, providing national leadership that has been sorely lacking. In yesterday’s remarks, the President laid out his strong defense of the decision to end the Afghanistan war:
Biden Lays Out The Costs Of War To Defend His Decision To Leave Afghanistan, Brian Naylor, NPR, August 31, 2021.
Speaking one day after the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war, President Biden on Tuesday forcefully defended his decision to end the U.S. military involvement in the beleaguered country, calling it “the right decision, the wise decision, the best decision for America.”
“I was not going to extend this forever war,” Biden said in remarks from the White House, “and I was not extending a forever exit.”
Pushing back against those who advocate for a small force remaining in Afghanistan, Biden said, “There is nothing low grade or low risk or low cost about any war.”
He said U.S. missions overseas should have “clear achievable goals” and “stay clearly focused on the fundamental national security interests of the United States.” ✂️
He cited the war’s costs to America — an estimated $300 million a day — as well as human costs to veterans and their families, including, he said, the 18 U.S. veterans who die by suicide each day.
Opinion: Biden answers his critics on Afghanistan. Forcefully. Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, August 31, 2021.
His argument that the United States does not have a “vital national interest” in keeping a force in Afghanistan will resonate with many voters — provided he prevents attacks on the homeland and evacuates those who want out. Toward the end of the speech, he became more philosophical, stressing that interminable wars designed to remake countries are done. That is a theme that most Americans will agree with.
In promising to turn our attention to more vital interests and set attainable goals when we do use force, he attempted to bookend 20 years of war with the notion that government had to deploy forces to protect the homeland. He ended with a poignant appeal: “As we close 20 years of war and strife and pain and sacrifice, it’s time to look at the future, not the past. … I give my word with all of my heart: I believe this is the right decision, a wise decision and the best decision for America.”
The good news for Biden is that a significant majority (54 percent in the most recent Pew Research poll) approve of the withdrawal. But opinion on Biden’s performance is decidedly more mixed. Pew reports: “about a quarter (26%) say the administration has done an excellent or good job; 29% say the administration has done an only fair job and 42% say it has done a poor job.” Given the unremittingly negative and often hysterical coverage, that probably comes as a relief to the White House.
That’s 55% of the population saying Joe Biden has done a fair-to-excellent job of the evacuation and a similar majority approve of the withdrawal. It seems the majority of the American people are with the president on this. That’s good news.
Here, have a little smile ☺️
💉 Health News 💉
If you’re wondering, like me, why we didn’t hear about this ages ago — well, your guess is as good as mine. My guess is that with all the disinformation and with how poorly factual information had already been received by 30%+ of the population, I think maybe the CDC and others decided not to give anti-vaxxers any ammo to muddy the waters or introduce more doubt in the early days but instead determined to just concentrate on getting people vaccinated.
Immunity To COVID-19 Could Last Longer Than You’d Think, Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR, August 31, 2021. (since this is freely accessible public media, I am taking the liberty of using a couple more paragraphs):
“If you were vaccinated six months ago, your immune system has been training for six months — you are better ready to fight a COVID-19 infection,” says Ellebedy.
A series of new studies, including two led by Ellebedy, suggests that mRNA vaccines like those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna trigger the immune system to establish long-term protection against severe COVID-19 — protection that likely will last several years or even longer, Ellebedy says. ✂️
The media has largely focused on this decline of antibodies as the cause of “waning immunity.” And it’s true, Bhattacharya says, that this decline in antibodies, combined with the high potency of the delta variant, which began dominating many countries this year, is likely increasing the rate of infection in fully vaccinated people.
“If you get a big dose of delta, as the variant often gives, the virus can slip past the initial wall of antibodies,” he says. “So I think we may be seeing some signs of that. But the [level of breakthrough infections] is probably not as dramatic as I think it’s being made out to be.”
Why? Because the media has largely overlooked several key facts about the antibodies present eight months after the vaccine. For starters, they’re more powerful than the original ones triggered by the vaccine, Bhattacharya says.
Patience is running out for Anti-Vaxxers
Vaccine Refusers Don’t Get to Dictate Terms Anymore, Juliette Kayyem, the Atlantic, August 29, 2021.
For months, institutions and companies have been drafting plans to aggressively promote vaccination or require it outright, and last week the FDA gave them license to click the “Send” button. The same day the agency granted full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, New York City’s public school system announced that its teachers and other employees will be required to get shots. The next day, Louisiana State University made a similar demand of its students and faculty. Within about 24 hours of the FDA move, other major employers, such as Chevron and Goldman Sachs, rolled out new vaccine mandates. In a novel twist, Delta Air Lines announced that it would impose a $200-a-month health-insurance surcharge on unvaccinated employees. Regardless of the reasons for their hesitancy, unvaccinated employees will literally have to pay for it.
What all of these decisions show is that the adults running major institutions in our society want to move forward, and they are done waiting around for vaccine refusers to change their mind. Outside of executive suites and human-resources offices, plenty of other Americans are also craving more certainty. Bars and restaurants that want to stay open are beginning to check vaccination cards—at least in states where supposedly freedom-loving lawmakers haven’t forbidden private businesses from keeping their own customers and employees safe. Couples throwing weddings are demanding that their guests upload proof of vaccination. These people disinviting their anti-vaxxer relatives are saying something important: Getting a shot to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is both a social responsibility and the best way to hasten the end of the pandemic, and if you don’t believe that, we’re not waiting around for you to step up.
Local Leaders are taking a stand for public health
Led by leaders (usually Democrats) in cities, counties and school boards, reality-based ordinary Americans are fighting back against Republican governors who are trying to help spread the coronavirus plague:
Democrats in This Red State Learned to Fight Back Over COVID-19, David Axe, Daily Beast, August 31, 2021.
The Columbia-based University of South Carolina, which with more than 27,000 undergrads is the biggest university in the state, fired first. Harris Pastides, a trained epidemiologist who is now the university’s interim president, issued a mask mandate in late July.
The Columbia city council followed up UofSC’s mandate with its own rule requiring school districts in city limits to mask up staff and students. It was the city’s “moral and ethical obligation” to require masks, Benjamin said. (Benjamin did not respond to a request for comment.)
Richland County, where Columbia is located, backed up the city’s school mask mandate with an identical mandate of its own. “I will admit that county council is not usually in the business of creating policies for schools,” Allison Terracio, a council member, told The Daily Beast. “However, in this case, we needed consistency across all schools in the county in regards to masking.”
With local governments providing cover, the boards of some of the state’s biggest school districts also voted in favor of masks. Molly Spearman, the state education superintendent, called on the legislature to rescind its anti-mask budget measure.
And the Biden Administration is Backing Us
State mask bans face federal civil rights inquiries, Collin Binkley, AP, August 30, 2021.
The department’s Office for Civil Rights announced the investigations in letters to education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. Those states have issued varying prohibitions on universal mask requirements, which the office says could prevent some students from safely attending school.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona accused the states of “putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve.”
“The department will fight to protect every student’s right to access in-person learning safely,” he said in a statement.
It marks a sharp escalation in the Biden administration’s battle with Republican states that say mask-wearing should be a personal choice. President Joe Biden last week asked Cardona to explore possible legal action, prompting the department to examine whether the policies could amount to civil rights violations.
🤔 😐 😄
Illinois is not fooling around Either
City cracking down on businesses that don’t enforce indoor mask mandate, Stefano Esposito, Chicago Sun✶Times, August 31, 2021.
The city issued 16 “notices to correct” and 20 citations to businesses between Aug. 20 and 29, city officials said Tuesday.
Under the mandate, which went into effect Aug. 20, a business can be issued a notice to correct or a citation for either failing to require masks or for not displaying a mask mandate sign.
“As cases continue to rise in Chicago, [the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection} is putting all businesses on high alert and letting them know that we will be strictly enforcing the City of Chicago mask mandate,” the city said in a statement.
Pritzker ‘hopeful’ Illinois’ Delta surge is peaking as Chicago expands COVID-19 travel advisory, Mitchell Armentrout, Chicago Sun✶Times, August 31, 2021.
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Illinois are at the highest levels seen in more than six months, but the Delta variant surge might finally be leveling off, a cautiously optimistic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday
“We all watch the numbers very closely, and when they start to flatten out, that’s always good news,” Pritzker said during an unrelated news conference in Decatur. “The fact is that I think we’ve all lived through this long enough now to not jump the gun and say, ‘Oh gosh, it’s flattened out. Everything is so much better.’ We’ve got to really see the curve heading downward. But I’m very hopeful of that.” ✂️
Nearly 77% of eligible Illinois residents have gotten a shot. That rate is about 71% for Chicagoans 12 or older.
With a citywide positivity rate of 4.3% and an average of 467 new cases per day, city Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said “we’re seeing some real flattening here,” while Delta continues tearing through less vaccinated communities across the United States.
“I think having the masks on universally indoors has really helped slow that increase,” Arwady said.
🥵😫 Republicans in Disarray 😫🥵
Oops! RonJohn let the truth slip out:
Trump fans lash out at Republican Ron Johnson after senator admits Wisconsin election “not skewed”, Jon Skolnik, Salon, August 31, 2021.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., an ardent promoter of Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, had a bizarre moment of clarity this week when he argued that “there was nothing obviously skewed” about the 2020 election results in Wisconsin.
In what appears to be an undercover video filmed by The Undercurrent at the Wauwatosa GOP Chicken Burn on Sunday, Johnson was captured trying to disillusion The Undercurrent director Lauren Windsor (who posed as a Trump supporter) from the notion that the former president lost as a consequence of systemic election fraud. ✂️
Needless to say, Johnson’s admission was met with shock and derision from Trump’s most diehard supporters:
Yikes, Rudy! So. Many. Yikes.
Giuliani’s PR Guru Resigns as Legal Walls Close In, Roger Sollenberger, Daily Beast, August 31, 2021.
Christianné Allen, the 22-year-old MAGA influencer who joined Giuliani’s team in August 2019, has resigned her post at Giuliani Communications LLC effective this week, The Daily Beast has learned. ✂️
Her resignation comes at a stressful time for Giuliani, who earlier this year laid off other staff under financial pressure from mounting legal bills. The former mayor must now navigate a PR team shake-up while fighting on several fronts, including civil suits related to his election challenges and a federal investigation into his alleged foreign influence work. At the same time, Giuliani finds himself increasingly isolated from the Republican Party, and his longtime friend former President Donald Trump seems to have all but abandoned him. ✂️
Allen, whose rise was the subject of a 2019 Politico profile, told The Daily Beast that “to my knowledge, Federal Investigators have not contacted me.” She did not respond when asked whether her communications had been subpoenaed or shared with federal agents.
Oops! Mad Caw Gets Gwned by fellow GOPers!
Fellow Republican rips freshman GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn over “insane” threat of “bloodshed”, Igor Derysh, Salon, August 31, 2021.
“This is insane. Based on a total lie,” tweeted Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican who voted to impeach Trump after the Capitol riot. “This must stop.”
Democrats roundly said that Cawthorn’s rhetoric must be condemned.
“Law and order is the foundation of democracy. When elected officials ignore facts and advocate for committing crimes, that foundation cracks,” tweeted Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn. “Rep. Cawthorn’s rhetoric is a threat to all of us, and it’s time for real patriots to condemn it and marginalize those who propagate it.” ✂️
Former Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., tweeted, “every Republican Member of Congress should be asked if they agree with [Cawthorn’s] call for another January 6th.”
Lots of questions surrounding MAGA lawyer’s “disappearance”:
“The US. Attorney’s Office has had no contact with Mr. Pierce—by phone, email, or otherwise—since Monday, August 23, 2021, when he appeared for a hearing before the Honorable Paul L. Friedman in United States v. Jeremiah Caplinger,” the filing on Monday read. “Since that time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has heard conflicting information about Mr. Pierce’s health and whereabouts.” ✂️
Pierce’s legal work, which includes his firm representing everyone from Kyle Rittenhouse to Rudy Giuliani, has at times been overshadowed by personal drama. As our colleague Samantha Michaels has written in-depth, Pierce was previously sued by a former colleague for wrongful termination, while at the same time he fought a messy custody battle in which he was accused of threatening his ex-wife while claiming that God was working in his favor. Rittenhouse last year fired Pierce last year amid concerns Pierce was using Rittenhouse to promote himself. Rittenhouse’s mother has suggested that Pierce and another attorney, Lin Wood, had left her son in jail longer than necessary to raise more money for a charity they controlled. The lawyers denied this. ✂️
As questions surrounding Pierce’s whereabouts grow—ABC News reports that the phone lines at Pierce’s offices have been disconnected—and reports continue to circulate that he’s been infected with COVID-19, it’s Pierce’s aggressive promotion of anti-vaccine disinformation and conspiracy theories that’s now taking the spotlight.
🎶 MAGA Crackup Music 🎶
🙄 From the “Ya Don’t Say?” File 🙄
More and more cracks are forming in the MAGA wall — and I’m not just talking about that stupid one on the southern border!
Stirewalt was the Fox news editor who correctly called Arizona for Biden, and was later fired:
Former Fox News Editor: Network ‘Failed’ To Stand Up To Trump, Sebastian Murdock, HuffPost, August 31, 2021.
“Fox had the opportunity to use its position to tell the truth for the good of the country and failed to use the power and resources that it had to stand up to Donald Trump,” Chris Stirewalt, Fox News’ former politics editor, said in a recent documentary. ✂️
Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a former military analyst for the network, described the shift from a pseudo-news network to a full-blown propaganda machine.
“The green room over the last several years into the Trump administration when I left, the guests got more and more bizarre,” Peters told “Four Corners.” “More distasteful. The green room started being like the bar scene in the first ‘Star Wars’ film. These people are freaks, and then you realize you’re one of the freaks.”
“Extremism” You Say? No kidding
QAnon-linked convention gets booted out of Las Vegas casino amid warnings from extremism experts, Brad Reed, Raw Story, August 31, 2021.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Caesars has pulled out of hosting the For God & Country Patriot Double Down convention after extremism experts expressed concerns to the casino about hosting it.
“The group’s registration page refers to the COVID-19 pandemic as the ‘plandemic,’ a reference to discredited claims that Dr. Anthony Fauci created the coronavirus to gain power and profit off of the vaccine,” reports the Review-Journal. “The event is organized put on by The Patriot Voice, a group associated with the online alias ‘QAnon John,’ who has been promoting the event on his Telegram channel that has more than 56,000 subscriber.”
⚖️ Justice News ⚖️
I can’t quote enough to really convey how significant this is — go to the link for the history and explanations:
Arizona launches a bold new experiment to limit racist convictions, Ian Milhiser, Vox, August 31, 2021.
Arizona’s conservative state Supreme Court took a surprising step last week that could lead to juries in that state being more racially diverse, and thus less likely to treat racial minorities more harshly.
It announced that it will eliminate “peremptory challenges” in Arizona — a practice that allows trial lawyers to remove jurors from a case, often for arbitrary or ill-defined reasons. ✂️
The stakes are very high if racial minorities are less likely to serve on a jury than white Americans. A 2012 study of felony trials in Florida, for example, found that Black defendants are 16 percent more likely to be convicted than white defendants when no Black person serves on the jury. This gap disappears if the jury has a single Black member.
🌱 Environmental News 🌱
How oysters can stop a flood, Kimberly Was, Vox, August 31, 2021.
In the last century, 85 percent of the world’s oyster reefs have vanished. And we’re only recently beginning to understand what that’s cost us: While they don’t look incredibly appealing from the shore, oysters are vital to bays and waterways around the world. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water every day. And over time, oysters form incredible reef structures that double as habitats for various species of fish, crabs, and other animals. In their absence, our coastlines have suffered.
Now, several projects from New York to the Gulf of Mexico and Bangladesh are aiming to bring the oysters back. Because not only are oysters vital ecosystems; they can also protect us from the rising oceans by acting as breakwaters, deflecting waves before they hit the shore. It won’t stop the seas from rising, but embracing living shorelines could help protect us from what’s to come.
⚡️ Lightning Roundup ⚡️
⚡️ Yer Wonkette: Vaccine Mandates Actually More Effective Than Thoughts, Prayers, Stephen Robinson, Wonkette, August 31, 2021.
⚡️ Teri Kanefield! Why a Trump Lawsuit to “Protect” Executive Privilege Could Backfire, Teri Kanefield, Just Security, August 30, 2021.
⚡️It’s always money: The Snake Oil Theory of the Modern Right, Paul Krugman, New York Times, August 30, 2021.
⚡️ Column: A ‘herculean’ Afghanistan evacuation: Why we should pause to appreciate what our military accomplished, Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune, August 31, 2021.
⚡️ An interesting perspective: All Political Power is Unitary, Josh Marshall, TPM, August 30, 2021.
⚡️ A practical checklist: Looking For A New Apartment? Here’s A Checklist To Help With The Housing Hunt, Ruth Tam and Andee Tagle, NPR, August 31, 2021;
⚡️ Opinion: Afghan refugees will know indifference, bigotry — and also kindness — in America. They will also make it better. Washington Post Editorial Board, August 31, 2021.
We’ve seen this movie before, and we know, too, how its plot is likely to develop. The newcomers will face daunting struggles, some with language, or jobs, money and cultural acclimation. Their children, their lives divided between immigrant homes and American schools, will struggle, too, but many will strive and succeed — often beyond their parents’ wildest imaginings.
They will become as thoroughly American as their native-born peers, and their energy, ambition and pluck will be an enduring gift to their new country.
💗 How Can You 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!
- Join the Truth Brigade. GNR writer, Mokurai, is a member and brings us updates in the comments — check it out!
- 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/
And remember, all politics is local and personal! Let’s work to flip state and local elected positions Democratic!
Sister District Project — organization that is working to help Dems win state legislature races.
Finally, whenever you feel your hope fading, read this again:
The 3.5% rule: How a small minority can change the world — and recall that we are a majority.
Also check this out:
There’s a multitude of people all over this country — in both so-called “red” states and “blue” — who feel just as strongly as you do about this world and its future. We can do this!
💙 RoundUp WindDown 💙
That’s it from me and CG for another Wednesday. As always, I strongly encourage you to make your health and wellbeing a priority. These times are challenging and draining. Recharge yourself regularly: eat nutritious food, get some rest and (if you can) get outdoors every day for a few minutes. Keep well!
I leave you with a picture of Curlygirly PLUS a bonus picture!
People think I am not serious when I say that the Curlygirl does not eat treats. I mean it!
Check out these pictures from the other day. The people at the pet store gave me these chewy bacon cheddar treats that are GUARANTEED irresistible to dogs!
🤔 🙄 😅
Hahaha. There is no such thing as an irresistible treat in CG world.
Anyway, enjoy the pictures!
Happy Wednesday, Gnusies!
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.