…once again this seems an unreasonably long scroll…but despite it being sunday I can’t provide a canine accompaniment
…so the best I can do is repeat a tip I might have mentioned before…clicking the little number just above the header image skips you straight to the comments…just sayin’…call it my 2¢
…for whatever reason one of the odd things about having family in the UK & the US is that I’m never quite sure when mother’s day rolls around…in the US it won’t be here for the best part of a couple of months but in the UK today’s the day
…& I guess that’s had me wondering about some stuff
The 365 days between the United States’ panicked retreat from offices and schools and President Biden’s speech on Thursday night, celebrating the prospect of a pandemic’s end, may prove to be one of the most consequential years in American history.The Lessons of One of the Worst Years in American Life [NYT]
…which I guess means some changes are to be expected
Analysts predict U.S. economic growth this year of 5 percent or more. With restrictions easing, and the economy bouncing back, people increasingly have choices. In-person classes, meals, meetings and shopping start to become options. How much that may slow the growth of the digital utilities, from Amazon to Zoom, is uncertain.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/11/technology/pandemic-boom-stocks.html
The bond market is also weighing on tech stocks. Yields are rising as investors expect that a recovery will bring inflation and higher interest rates. So they are selling bonds and tech stocks and buying shares of the old-line companies likely to benefit most during an economic upswing.
Over all, the performance of the tech sector is still extraordinary. The shares of Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Facebook are up between 50 percent and more than 70 percent over the past year. Apple now has a market value of more than $2 trillion.
…but as the saying goes
…the more things change
…the more things stay the same?
The Los Angeles Police Department severely mishandled protests last summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death, illegally detaining protesters, issuing conflicting orders to its rank-and-file officers and striking people who had committed no crimes with rubber bullets, bean bags and batons, according to a scathing report released on Thursday.L.A.P.D. Severely Mishandled George Floyd Protests, Report Finds [NYT]
The judge overseeing the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd, has allowed prosecutors to add an additional charge of third-degree murder against Mr. Chauvin, who is already facing a more serious count of second-degree murder.Derek Chauvin will now face a third-degree murder charge. [NYT]
The jurors will now have an additional murder charge on which they could convict, even if they decide the evidence does not support second-degree murder.
…I mean…some of this stuff sure does make you wonder
Police Chief Erika Shields stepped from one inferno straight into another. After one of her officers fatally shot a Black man in a Wendy’s parking lot, she resigned from the Atlanta Police Department and applied to just one new force: Louisville, where the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor during an early-morning raid had roiled the country and transformed the city into an epicenter of last year’s protests.https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/12/breonna-taylor-anniversary/
Many in Louisville saw Shields’s hiring as a tone-deaf decision that unwisely placed a chief embroiled in her own police-violence uproar into a city still rocked by a similar incident. Shields is now tasked with navigating that opposition while fixing a police department and a city described as “in crisis” by outside consultants hired to examine police policies and procedures.
In a survey, more than 10,000 residents demanded that their next chief develop standards to police neighborhoods consistently and make the department’s racial makeup mirror that of the city. The new chief needed to engage in the community. And, residents said, they had to stop officers from killing people who are unarmed.
“What I experienced in Atlanta allowed me to know exactly how [the Louisville Metro Police Department] was going to process what occurred with Breonna Taylor: ‘We didn’t do anything wrong, we operationally are a sound agency, this was just a mistake by one officer, and most significantly, that this is not race-related,’ ” Shields said. “And so I knew, from where I was sitting, that for LMPD to go forward, it was as much about coming to terms with the racial component of Breonna Taylor as it was the operational component.”
Shields will also have to work with Louisville’s police union. Dave Mutchler, a spokesman for the city’s branch of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the union backs Shields’s goal of driving down gun violence, which has recently surged in Louisville. Combating those shootings means increasing police presence in the neighborhoods where residents least trust officers — a challenge that Shields said will require teaching those officers why they are unwelcome in Black communities.
But Shields said she knows that no matter how much she talks about racial justice in policing, none of it will matter unless her department lives out that goal.
…& with folks pretty much guaranteed to be taking to the streets to mark that tragic anniversary
…what does that look like, you might wonder?
Kentucky’s Republican-majority Senate on Thursday moved forward a bill that would make it easier to arrest protesters for insulting a police officer, a measure that critics say would stifle free speech.https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/12/kentucky-insulting-police-bill/
In addition to criminalizing taunting police, the bill would expand the category of protest behavior considered illegal, heighten sentences for offenses related to “riots” and prevent early release for those violations. It comes as Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, prepares for hundreds of people to gather downtown Saturday to recognize the first anniversary of Taylor being fatally shot during an early-morning raid.
…& I know it’s hard to keep a lot of this stuff in perspective
Mr. Biden is taking steps to ramp up vaccine production, and the administration may have more than a billion doses available by the end of this year, with most ready by summer. That is far more than are necessary to vaccinate the roughly 260 million adults in the United States or even the entire population, once children and adolescents become eligible for shots. Most recently, the administration has focused on Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, brokering a deal to have the pharmaceutical giant Merck manufacture and bottle the shot and announcing plans to secure 100 million additional doses.The U.S. Is Sitting on Tens of Millions of Vaccine Doses the World Needs [NYT]
Under pressure to play catch-up on “vaccine diplomacy,” President Biden says he will help finance vaccine manufacturing capacity but is still resisting exports of doses.Biden Takes First Tentative Steps to Address Global Vaccine Shortage [NYT]
The federal government has now bought enough coronavirus vaccines to fully immunize 750 million people.
That’s three times the number of American adults — raising questions about where all those extra doses might go.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/11/health-202-us-bought-enough-coronavirus-vaccines-four-times-its-adult-population/
Dr Deborah Birx, the former Trump White House coronavirus taskforce coordinator, is taking a private sector job, joining a Texas manufacturer that says its purifiers clean Covid-19 from the air within minutes and from surfaces within hours. [Guardian]
…or I guess for some people to actually have anything resembling perspective
The intuitive reaction to the elections would be to find slightly more-popular political ground to occupy, in part by picking battles carefully. But the GOP’s strategy is the opposite. Instead of appealing to a broader swath of the electorate, Republicans are pursuing a strategy of trying to make Biden and his fellow Democrats less popular.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/gop-gambles-against-popularity-of-covid-relief
But Republicans are calculating that they can win over more voters in the next election, and the one after that, by making everything Biden does controversial by dint of their opposition to it. It is an old playbook, dating back to the days when Newt Gingrich helped Republicans flip the House into their own hands after 40 years in the minority back in 1994.
Looking at the lack of G.O.P. support, you might assume the bill was unpopular, at least with Republican voters. You’d be wrong. Americans overwhelmingly support the package, including a significant portion of the Republican base. According to some analysts, the bill is the most popular piece of major legislation in over a decade.
So Republicans will definitely pay a political price for opposing a measure that the country, including a large portion of their base, seems to want, right?Will Republicans Pay a Price for Opposing the Stimulus? [NYT]
According to Yale history professor Timothy Snyder, Republican leaders’ motives are likely deeply cynical. Snyder proposes a concept called “sadopopulism,” which refers to politicians who purposefully govern in a way that makes life worse for the bulk their supporters. Snyder presents the strategy in a few easy steps:
• Identify an “enemy.”https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/covid-stimulus-bill-passes-republicans-use-cancel-culture-hide-their-obstruction
• Enact policies that create pain in your own constituents.
• Blame the ensuing pain on the “enemies.”
• Present yourself as the strongman who can fight the enemies.
…how did that go, again?
…unfortunately we don’t get to subject those holding public office to the kind of measure open to private businesses
…or…if you prefer a less covid-centric comparison
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., described the pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as people who “truly respect law enforcement” and “loved this country” in a radio interview Friday and expressed worry if the mob had been Black Lives Matter protesters or Antifa members.
…is it, though?
…this might be the problem with the whole short-attention-span thing that’s been in fashion in our media-saturated age
…like ferris bueller once said
The Defense Department’s internal watchdog has concluded a long-delayed investigation into Michael Flynn, defense officials said Friday, sending its findings to the Army in a case that could bring tens of thousands of dollars in financial penalties for President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser.https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/michael-flynn-investigation-russia-turkey/2021/03/12/story.html
Flynn was fired by the Trump administration for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about the case, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, later attempted to take back his plea, and ultimately was pardoned in November by Trump.
Transmission of the investigation to the Army, which has not been previously reported, leaves military officials grappling with how to handle a politically polarizing officer who in recent months alarmed the Pentagon by falsely suggesting to Trump that, as commander in chief, he could declare martial law and force a “rerun” of the presidential election in swing states that went for President Biden. Such a move could have plunged the nation into an unprecedented crisis.
…but some stories give me a different sort of problem with perspective
…& I know the cliché is “not all men”
…but at what point is the flipside going to stop being “yes all women”?
…not that all women meet the same fate
…but how do we deny that too many do?
There are more than 73,000 missing people in Mexico, collectively known as “the disappeared”. Their faces haunt billboards and social media feeds, alongside pleas for help returning them to loved ones. In 2019, #We’reLookingForYou and #AmberAlert were Mexican Twitter’s top trending social or political hashtags. Many of the missing are never found.Hunting the men who kill women: Mexico’s femicide detective [Guardian]
…& how are we supposed to get folks to believe all those women who would just be telling it like it is when the exceptions are…well…fucking it up for everyone while refusing to shut the fuck up…let alone stick to “just the facts, ma’am”
Boebert is a strong booster of gun rights. She arrived in Congress this year after leveraging her fame as the owner of a restaurant, Shooters Grill of Rifle, Colo., where the wait staff often serve customers with open-carry firearms. A sign outside tells customers that guns are welcome.
Over and over, Boebert says she started allowing her staff to carry guns after a man was killed outside her restaurant. But we’ve obtained police and coroner reports that show her story is mainly fiction.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/12/lauren-boeberts-tall-tale-about-mans-death-that-led-her-pack-heat/
…& we wonder why it’s so damn hard to do shit most people agree needs doing, anyway?
In two votes that fell largely along party lines, the House passed legislation that would require background checks for all gun buyers, and extend the time the F.B.I. has to vet those flagged by the national instant check system.
Despite being widely popular with voters, the measures face what is expected to be insurmountable opposition in the Senate, where Republicans have resisted imposing any limits on guns, including stricter background check requirements.House Passes Gun Control Bills to Strengthen Background Checks [NYT]
…oh, yeah…ask a stupid question…get a senate answer
In the first 50 days of the Biden administration, the US House of Representatives has passed major legislation to strengthen voting rights, reform police departments, empower labor unions and tighten gun laws.
The public strongly supports each measure, and Biden is poised, pen in hand, to sign each bill into law. It could seem like the dawn of a new progressive era.
But most analysts think the popular bills are doomed, because to get to Biden, they must first pass the Senate, where Democrats may have a slim majority, but where Republicans are widely seen as having the upper hand.
But critics of the US Senate say that for years now, the chamber has not been a field of fair democratic play, paralyzed by its own internal rules and insulated from the popular will by a 230-year-old formula for unequal representation.
Instead, its critics say, the Senate has become a firewall for a shrinking minority of mostly white, conservative voters across the country to block policies they don’t agree with and safeguard the voter suppression tactics that shore up Republican power.
The numbers are staggering. Currently Democratic senators represent nearly 40 million more voters than Republican senators – but the Senate is split 50-50, with the vice-president, Kamala Harris, wielding the tie-breaking vote. By 2040, 70% of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states, and to be represented by only 30 senators, while 30% of Americans will have 70 senators voting on their behalf, according to analysis by David Birdsell of Baruch College’s School Of Public And International Affairs. The Senate has counted only 11 African American members in its history, out of almost 2,000 total.
But by 1980, a trend started to emerge: Democrats were far more likely to represent bigger states, while Republicans represented many small states.
Because of this trend, the senate started to structurally favor Republicans.
In 2000, Democratic senators represented nearly 3m more people than Republican senators – but Republicans still held the majority.
In 2010, Democratic senators represented 74m more people than Republicans – but they still failed to hold a supermajority.
In the decade since, the structural Democratic disadvantage has only gotten worse.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/12/us-senate-system-white-conservative-minority
…I remember now…to be honest…even just ask a reasonable question
Residential and businesses customers have been complaining about late and inconsistent mail service for months. Credit card companies and utilities have noticed an uptick in consumer calls about late-arriving bills and the resulting late fees and interest penalties. Mail-order pharmacies have instructed patients to put in their refill orders earlier to allow for the possibility of delivery delays.DeJoy asks House panel for more USPS money to support plan that includes slower mail delivery [WaPo]
…get a GOP answer
Amid a contentious hearing over proposed restrictions on Arizona’s vote-by-mail system, a Republican state lawmaker argued that voters who hadn’t participated in recent elections should no longer automatically have absentee ballots mailed to them. The reasoning, said state Rep. John Kavanagh (R), is that Republicans care more about alleged voter fraud than Democrats — and that “everybody shouldn’t be voting.”A GOP lawmaker says the ‘quality’ of a vote matters. Critics say that’s ‘straight out of Jim Crow.’ [WaPo]
The country’s most hotly contested state has calmed down after months of drama, court fights and national attention (even the death threats have slowed). But new storms are on the horizon.A Political Hurricane Blew Through Georgia. Now It’s Bracing for More. [NYT]
We can get a better sense of the effects of one of these laws by looking at a proposal that recently passed the Georgia House. It includes provisions constricting the time frame for voting and access to casting a ballot.
In 2020, Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes. Donald Trump won Election Day voters by 220,000, while Biden beat Trump by nearly 400,000 votes among those who cast ballots by mail. Trump also won in-person early voting by nearly 170,000 votes. Two changes included in the law passed by the Georgia House address those latter processes for voting: a new limit on who can request a mail ballot and a reduced schedule for voting early in person.
In 2020, about 42 percent of ballots cast by mail in Georgia were cast by those aged 66 and older, according to data compiled by the United States Elections Project. In other words, it’s safe to assume that at least half of those voting using that method last year would be barred from doing so moving forward.
How did they vote? In Georgia, exit polls show that voters younger than 50 preferred Biden to Trump. Among voters 25 and under, for example, Biden won by a 13-point margin. If that was uniformly the case for those who cast their ballots by mail, Biden won mail-in voters younger than 25 by 12,200 votes — more than his margin of victory. Of course, Trump also loses votes using this same calculus. About half of voters under 65 who voted by mail were also at least 45. But since Biden’s margins were larger among younger voters than Trump’s were among those nearing retirement age (Trump won those aged 50 to 64 by 6 points), Biden stood to lose more votes.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/11/how-new-voting-restrictions-georgia-could-have-affected-2020-election/
…& if that weren’t enough
Another proposed change would be to limit the duration of early voting on the weekend.
The intent here is hardly subtle. There is a tradition in Georgia, as in other Southern states, that Black churches will encourage their members to vote after services on a Sunday an election. Since Black Americans tend to vote more heavily Democratic — in Georgia, exit polls suggest that they preferred Biden by 77 points — limiting the ability to vote on a Sunday means disproportionately making it harder for Democratic voters to cast ballots.…tell me again how voter suppression isn’t electoral fraud?
…so…would it maybe…just maybe…make sense if we at least tried to make it as easy as possible for those willing to learn to be taught as much as possible about things in the hope that some shit might get better on account of all the smart, well-informed people we could churn out into society for all our benefit…because it sure doesn’t seem like that’s what we’ve been doing?
Whenever I think about student loan debt, one of the first things I think about — besides my own — is a 2018 essay by my colleague M.H. Miller. As one of the 45 million Americans who collectively owe $1.71 trillion for student loans, Mr. Miller wrote about what it is like to have debt — more than $100,000 worth in his case — become the organizing principle of your life, to be incapacitated by it, suspended, at age 30, “in a state of perpetual childishness.”
A lot has changed since Mr. Miller wrote that essay. For one thing, the national student debt increased by a couple of hundred billion dollars. But the most striking difference is how quickly calls for the president to cancel that debt, a vast majority of which the federal government owns, have migrated from the margins to the center of the national policy debate, from a radical demand chanted by activists to a proposal championed by the top Democrat in the Senate.
Here’s how economists, lawmakers and activists are thinking about it.Should Biden Cancel Student Debt? [NYT]
…& I know they say you get what you pay for…but I guess what bothers me is often more that we pay for what we get
…still…if you made it this far I think you deserve at least something that doesn’t seem awful?
…or we could go back to the advice thing?