Monday, May 31, 2021
Republican state legislatures across the country are busy trying to whitewash United States history. They don't want our schools to teach the uglier parts of our history (like slavery, racism, genocide, discrimination, etc.). It's an effort to preserve their power, which is based in white supremacy.
But it's time to move past that and embrace a belief in equality for all citizens, and then make that equality a reality in this country. But that cannot happen until and unless the face (and teach) the truth about our history -- warts and all.
Recently, Jonathan Capehart interviewed Vice-President Kamala Harris. The following is part of his column written after that interview:
“We just have to speak truth no matter how painful it is to speak or hear,” Harris told me Friday during a telephone interview. “And the truth remains that racism is real in America. Sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia — these things are all real in our country. To speak it doesn’t mean that it is about a wholesale attack on the country. But it certainly is about saying, ‘Look, let’s also not approach this with a sense of naivete or denial.’”
Harris is the first Black person, first South Asian and first woman elected vice president, which explains why Harris said, “I feel a heavy weight of responsibility to use the bully pulpit I have in a way that is about elevating public discourse and engaging in public education about issues that [others] may not have thought about or haven’t been presented with a certain perspective.”
That perspective is invaluable, especially this week. For in the annals of America’s fraught history with race, this seven-day period we are now in is most wretched because of what we must remember.
May 25 marked one year since the murder of George Floyd by a White Minneapolis police officer. May 31 and June 1 will mark 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre that killed as many as 300 Black people in a hail of bullets and airdropped turpentine bombs, and completely destroyed their prosperous Greenwood community known as Black Wall Street. In the sweep of history between those two tragic events, so much has changed, and yet too much remains the same.
But we talk more openly and honestly about race and racism today. That “we” includes President Biden and Harris. Many of their predecessors handled issues of race the way we tiptoe across the thinnest of ice — if they didn’t avoid them altogether. Biden and Harris are not afraid to take them head-on — perhaps because the omnipresent subject of race has become so unavoidable. . . .
What happened in Tulsa was more than a tragedy. Harris called it “a crime.” A crime that White Tulsa initially tried to blame on their Black neighbors before pretending it never happened. A crime that Black Tulsa and Black America would never forget. Harris told me it was “the intentionality” of the crime that stands out for her.
O.W. Gurley bought 40 acres of land in Tulsa in 1906 and called it Greenwood. The Black community that grew from it thrived despite Jim Crow laws meant to stunt Black citizenship and advancement. The intentionality involved in creating such success was met by the intentionality of White Tulsa to destroy it.
“This was not an accident. This was not a fight that got out of hand,” Harris said. “It was purposeful destruction.”
That 100-year-old crime and the 2020 murder of George Floyd speak to America’s never-ending cycle of progress and regression on matters of race. Harris believes we can break this cycle, “but in order to have significant change, there needs to be real, significant intervention.” That means tackling the racial wealth gap by addressing access to capital for minority-owned businesses, expanding homeownership and widening access to broadband. All issues Harris has been working on since taking office.
Still, deeds have to be matched by words. “So there are a lot of things that we need to do. But we have to speak truth, and I have to tell you that’s where we can’t let up. Again, no matter how difficult it may be to hear,” said Harris.
After four years of an administration that flooded the American people with white nationalism, White grievance and their attendant lies, speaking truth is exactly what this nation needs from the White House right now. And I’m all for Harris being unafraid to speak it.
Sunday, May 30, 2021
The chart above is from the Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between March 19th and 22nd of a national sample of 1,994 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.
During his campaign, President Biden promised to create a public option for health insurance. He has not proposed it yet, trying to get his infrastructure and family bills thru Congress first. But the public overwhelmingly supports the public option for insurance, with about two out of three voters (68%) supporting the measure. Even 56% of the Republican base would like to see it created.
But the Republicans in Congress don't support it, and they would filibuster it when it is proposed. It's one more example of why the filibuster must be reformed or eliminated to give the American people what they want.
NOTE -- About 55% of voters would support Medicare for All, but that is even more unlikely to pass Congress.
The chart above reflects the results of a new Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between May 18th and 24th of a national sample of 1,316 adults, with a 2.7 point margin of error.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently accepted a case from Mississippi -- that if upheld, would basically outlaw abortion in that state. Evangelicals and other right-wingers are hoping the Supreme Court (which has a larger conservative majority than in decades) will use the Mississippi case to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision (which legalized abortions nationwide in the first trimester.
If the court does overturn that decision, it will be in opposition to the wishes of a substantial majority of Americans. As the chart shows, 63% agree with the Roe v. Wade decision, while only 28% disagree with it. And that is maintained across all genders, races and age groups. Only one group disagrees -- Republicans. Democrats and Independents agree with most Americans.
The charts above are from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). They show that the industry impacted the most by the pandemic recession was the Leisure & Hospitality industry. And this industry hires a lot of low-wage workers (especially women and minorities) -- making those workers the hardest hit.
Here is part of what the EPI had to say:
In February 2021, a year into the pandemic recession, the U.S. economy remained down 9.5 million jobs from February 2020, the last month before the economic effect of COVID-19 began. Repairing employment levels requires more than regaining those 9.5 million lost jobs; we must also consider how many jobs would have been created since February 2020. During the 12 months prior to the pandemic recession, job growth averaged 202,000 new jobs per month. Absent the COVID-19-driven recession, an estimated 2.4 million additional jobs could have been created. Adding these to the actual job losses since February 2020 implies that the U.S. labor market in February 2021 was short 11.9 million jobs. . . .
Saturday, May 29, 2021
The charts above reflect the results of the newest Quinnipiac University Poll -- done between May 18th and 24th of a national sample of 1,316 adults, with a 2.7 point margin of error.
Note that in almost every chart, the Republican base is out-of-step with the public in general and each other group. This base is driving the GOP to take positions that will hurt it in 2022.
The Labor Department released its weekly unemployment statistics on Thursday. It showed that another 406,000 workers filed to receive unemployment benefits in the week ending on May 22nd. While that's the lowest number filing since March of 2021, it's still well above the normal level (which would be 100k to 150k less).
Here is the official Labor Department statement:
In the week ending May 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 406,000, a decrease of 38,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 444,000. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The 4-week moving average was 458,750, a decrease of 46,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 504,750. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500.
The House-passed bill to create a bipartisan committee to investigate the January 6th Capitol riot was a gift to the Republican Party. The committee would have had 5 Democratic and 5 Republican members. That would have given Republicans control over the subpoenas issued by the committee (since 6 members would have to agree to issue a subpoena), and it would have given them an equal say in the report issued by the committee. It was the best of all possible outcomes for the GOP.
That makes it weird that most House Republicans voted against the bill, and Senate Republicans filibustered it when it arrived. And when Majority Leader Schumer tried to invoke cloture to stop that filibuster, enough Republicans voted against that to keep the filibuster alive. In effect, that killed the bill.
Does this mean there will be no investigation in Congress? Not at all! It just means there won't be a bipartisan investigation. Speaker Pelosi will make sure the investigation proceeds. She could assign the investigation to a standing House committee (like Intelligence or Judiciary), or she could create a new committee in the House to do the investigation. Either way, Democrats will control the committee by having the most members, and will be able to issue any subpoena they want (without being blocked by the Republicans). And they will be able to run that committee investigation for as long as they want -- maybe right up until the 2022 election.
If any Republican thought they had killed an investigation that would hurt them in the 2022 election, they were very wrong. All they did was give up any control they might have had in any investigation.
Minority Leader McConnell is smart enough to know this. You might wonder why he did such a stupid thing. It was to save his job. Donald Trump, and his base supporters, are not smart enough to know they were giving up control over the investigation -- so they opposed the committee's creation. And if McConnell had not actively opposed the committee's creation it could easily have cost him his leadership position. Trump and his minions would have demanded that.
Any way you look at it, the Senate Republicans committed a MASSIVE BLUNDER in killing the creation of the January 6th bipartisan investigation committee!
Friday, May 28, 2021
Most Republicans in the House voted against creating a bipartisan committee to investigate the riot at the Capitol on January 6th. The bill is now in the Senate, where it will likely take 60 votes to approve it. Sadly, it looks like there will not be enough Republicans to vote for it to reach the 60 votes (which would take 10 GOP senators).
The Republicans don't want the committee established because they are afraid the report by that committee would embarrass their party, and maybe hurt the party in the 2022 election. For them, party politics is more important that getting the truth about the riot, and passing legislation to prevent it from happening again.
That's not making the families of fallen Capitol Police Officers happy though. They want an investigation. Here's what they had to say:
Thursday, May 27, 2021
That is not true. The jobs these immigrants take are not jobs that American citizens want, or would take. They are dirty, dangerous, and low-wage jobs -- sometimes even below the nation's established minimum wage. The immigrants can't complain about the working conditions or the pay, because they fear they would be deported -- and their employers know that. Many actually prefer to hire the immigrants for that reason.
Of course, there would be an easy way to fix those jobs so citizens would want them -- just inspect the work-sites to make sure they are safe, and mandate a $15 an hour minimum wage. But the same Republicans that oppose immigration also oppose raising the wage to a livable wage and mandating work place safety. They want to to believe U.S. businesses couldn't afford that.
And the GOP policies fail to take into account future needs. The birthrate in the U.S. has dropped for the last six years in a row. With more citizens retiring and the Social Security age population growing, the United States does not have a sufficient birth rate to compensate for that. The country needs an increase in the working-age population, and the current birth rate will not provide that.
That means we need more immigrants -- not less. Cutting off immigration and deporting hardworking immigrants will actually hurt the economy. If the Republicans really cared about creating a strong and sustainable economy (as they claim), they would abandon their current anti-immigrant and low-wage policies. The economy cannot continue to grow with the current GOP policies in place.
The chart above reflects the results of the newest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between May 22nd and 25th of a national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,248 registered voters). The margin of error for adults is 2.9 points, and for registered voters is 3.1 points.
It shows that once again the Republicans are at odds with the rest of America. While the Republicans don't want the January 6th investigation committee established, a majority of adults (56%) and registered voters (58%) do want a committee to investigate the riot at the Capitol.
Republicans are afraid the investigation would make their party look bad, possibly even exposing some members of Congress as being liable (and maybe even Trump). The public doesn't;t care about that. They want to know what happened and who is responsible.
If the GOP is able to kill this committee, it is not going to increase their popularity with the voters.
In fact, more incidents of unnecessary police violence is being uncovered.
More than a year ago, Ronald Greene died after a police chase in Louisiana. The Louisiana State Police said he died when his car struck a tree at the end of that chase. That was a lie!
Video has been recently released that shows Greene was repeatedly tased and beaten after being taken into police custody -- and that was far more likely to have been the cause of his death. In other words, it was another police murder!
At the very least, this is just one more incident showing that police reform is needed in the United States. Far too many people are killed by the police in the U.S., and far too many of them are minorities (especially Blacks).
The following editorial was written by the editorial board of The Washington Post:
RELATIVES OF Ronald Greene said authorities initially told them he died on impact after he failed to pull over for a traffic violation, was chased by Louisiana state troopers and crashed his vehicle into a tree shortly after midnight on May 10, 2019. A one-page statement later issued by police said he was taken into custody after struggling with troopers, became unresponsive and died on the way to the hospital. We now know, thanks to body-cam footage obtained by the Associated Press, that there is far more — horrifyingly more — to the story of how this 49-year-old Black man died. And once again, troubling questions are raised about the conduct, character and credibility of police that underscore the need for reform.
“Okay, okay. I’m sorry. I’m scared. Officer, I’m scared, I’m your brother, I’m scared,” Greene can be heard telling the White troopers as he is subjected to agonizing and brutalizing treatment. He was repeatedly jolted with a stun gun, wrestled to the ground, put in a chokehold, punched in the face and dragged by shackles on his ankles as he lay on the ground. He was left unattended, handcuffed and prone for several minutes — a practice that use-of-force experts deem as dangerous. According to the autopsy, he died due to “cocaine induced agitated delirium complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury, and restraint.” But no manner of death was specified and, according to the AP, police withheld basic documents from the coroner. “Does not add up” was the judgment of the emergency room doctor who questioned the initial account that Greene had died on impact as result of a car crash.
The shifting stories and secrecy smack of a coverup. State police at one point argued the use of force was justified — “awful but lawful” — and did not open an administrative investigation until 474 days after Greene’s death. Troopers so far have faced limited repercussions: The officer who dragged Greene by his ankles was given a 50-hour suspension and returned to active duty. A federal investigation is now underway that could hold law enforcement accountable. The family has also filed a wrongful-death suit.
Greene’s death came a year before that of George Floyd and the release of the video footage coincided with the first anniversary of Floyd’s murder, a case that put an international spotlight on the police brutality that has long victimized Black people. It’s impossible to watch the graphic video of Greene pleading to police and not think of Floyd crying for help under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. How many other cases are there of Black people needlessly killed by police where no video exists that would undermine the official police accounts?
In the wake of Floyd’s death, there have been some modest police reforms on the state and local levels, but federal legislation has stalled in the Senate over disagreement about eliminating the qualified immunity that shields police officers. “I beat the ever-living f--- out of him,” one trooper said of Ronald Greene in chatter picked up on his body-camera mic.
The system is broken, and it is time to fix it so that the people who need protection get it.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
These charts are from the Pew Research Center. They show an economic problem in the United States. The rich have kept getting richer, and at a much faster pace than the rest of the population -- creating a vast and growing gap in both income and wealth.
We must fix this problem or we'll become a nation of "haves" and "have-nots". We are already more unequal than most other nations.
This has been caused by the GOP's trickle-down economic policy. A failed policy in which nothing trickled down (but just went to fatten the bank accounts of the rich).
We must change that economic policy to one where rising productivity is shared among all groups. Fair economics is smart economics, and contributes to a better country for everyone.
I am going to continue to wear my mask in stores and other places where the general public goes. Why? because I simply don't trust people I don't know to be honest about whether they have been vaccinated or not. And that would be true even in a large crowd if everyone had to show their vaccination cards (because there has already been instances of fake vaccination cards being sold).
You might say that doesn't show much faith in my fellow citizens. You would be right. But why should I trust everyone when some of them wouldn't even wear a mask (which is much easier to do than get vaccinated).
I'm not alone. Note the results of the chart above. It shows the results of a new Axios / Ipsos Poll -- done between May 21st and 24th of a national sample of 1,102 adults, with a 3.2 point margin of error.
Most people (88%) trust their family and close friends. And a significant number (71%) also trust their coworkers. But it falls way off after those two groups. Far less than a majority trust anyone else, especially people they don't know.
It's one thing to believe you don't need a mask around people who have been fully vaccinated. It quite another thing to trust others to be truthful about being vaccinated.