It’s been a year since George Floyd was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes while he repeatedly told the officer he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin was found guilty of murder on all counts last month.
As you can see we have a new installment in what amounts to an expanding vein of coverage of what we might call mini-insurrections across the United States in the aftermath the Trump presidency and the January 6th insurrection. Here Matt Shuham goes deeper on what is on the surface a recall effort in Shasta County, California. But it’s one that is moving in tandem with violent threats from the local “militia”. It’s really a must read piece.
Another one of those sign of the times story. A bar owner in Troy, New York, Matt Baumgartner, reopens with a rule that patrons must show they’re vaccinated before entering the bar. He’s then inundated by calls, something threatening violence in response to his decision. “They’re all saying the same thing: that I’m a Nazi, that I’m anti-American.” Most of the calls seemed to be coming from Florida.
A handful of proponents of the Big Lie have launched bids for secretary of state — elected, state-level positions that will have a say in voting operations for future election cycles.
Bob Dylan turns 80 today.
If you’re inclined to celebrate here’s a series of interviews from 1971 never published until last year. The interviews were conducted by Dylan’s friend Tony Glover, an accomplished musician and author in his own right. The two met when they were both kids playing in the Minneapolis music scene before Dylan left for New York City. Then Glover was the bigger deal. That was the start of a lifelong friendship. And the origin of the relationship makes these interviews much more expansive and open than Dylan’s frequently evasive and secretive way of approaching interviews.
Political violence is always anathema to democracy. This is the case not least because what we think of as civic democracy requires high-trust environments over high-fear environments. The latter make civic life brittle and tenuous. But what is really lethal to democracy is less acts of terroristic, high profile violence (say an Oklahoma City bombing) but when violence and the threat of violence begin to seep into the ordinary process of governmental decision-making. And of late I’ve seen smatterings of examples of this from around the country. The numbers are very, very small – at least the ones I’ve seen. So I don’t know whether I’m simply seeing them more, or whether they are just the knock-on effects of the massive disruptions of COVID or something more persistent and grave.
For a few decades New York City had mayor’s races between representatives of the city’s Democratic establishment and silent majority type Republicans who presented themselves as hedges against the city’s excesses. That role was embodied for a dozen years by Rudy Giuliani. Then it was taken over in a considerably more muted form by Michael Bloomberg. After the transition from Michael Bloomberg to Bill deBlasio that all kind of ended. Republicans have scarcely even registered in the last two elections and there’s little sign they will in 2021.
And yet something funny is happening in this year’s mayor’s race as candidates jockey to succeed deBlasio. The race is being dominated by one candidate running on conventional retail politics (Andrew Yang) and another on public safety (Eric Adams). They’re both in the high teens or maybe 20%. Various candidates supported by the city’s progressive movement, its leaders, influencers, etc. are simply not getting much traction.
A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is now live. Josh and Kate discuss the fate of the January 6 commission as Kevin McCarthy struggles to unify his caucus.
When impeachment was on the table, the House minority leader was all about putting together a Jan. 6 commission in lieu of a trial.
We’ve covered an endless number of stories over the twenty year history of TPM. But if there’s one through-line, one consistent and especial focus throughout, it’s voting rights and democracy. The site started in a contested election, our big stories in 2002 were big voter suppression stories in South Dakota and New Hampshire. The US Attorney Firing scandal was in fact a voter suppression story. Firing those US Attorneys was just a step to get the suppression moving.
I’m proud to say there’s no publication in the United States that has devoted more of its resources to this issue over a longer period of time than TPM. The franchise is the central architecture of equality and the sheet anchor of the American republic. That’s always been the case. But people are especially attuned to that fact now after the shocking events of the 2020 election and the Republican party’s current effort to clamp down on voting across the country.
That’s why we’re launching The Franchise, a weekly newsletter devoted to democracy and voting rights in the United States.
“I’m a politician out of the womb.”
This is how the son of Rudy Giuliani announced his bid for the Republican nomination in New York’s gubernatorial race, a fittingly bizarre statement for an under-the-radar bizarre boy.
Yesterday in a close door Senate GOP caucus meeting, Mitch McConnell announced he can’t support the Jan 6th commission deal which Kevin McCarthy’s negotiator negotiated apparently because McCarthy assumed nothing would ever come of it before it blew up in his face. According to Axios, McConnell hasn’t yet come up with any clear reasons why he opposes such a commission other than vague suggestions about its work interfering with the DOJ’s probes. The main concern is that the commission might subpoena members or “alienate members of the GOP base, as well as former President Trump.”
Earlier this week, the number two GOP Senate leader John Thune expressed support for the Commission and said he expected it to pass. Yesterday he said that after hearing that McCarthy had pulled his support he wasn’t so sure.
Just this afternoon we’ve seen two developments on a possible Jan 6th Commission. The House GOP will formally ‘whip’ the vote, i.e., they’ll use the party apparatus to get all their members to vote no. This seems more than anything to be a signal to Donald Trump from McCarthy and Scalise that they are all-in to protect him. Does anyone GOP member not know what’s expected of them from Trump, McCarthy and Scalise? Of course not.
At the same time, TPM alum Sahil Kapur reports that Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) seems to be in support of the bill. Rounds isn’t a Senate fire breather. But he’s not a Romney/Murkowski type either.
For a few years now, I have covered voting rights closely for TPM. Needless to say, the developments around ballot access and representation are moving more quickly than ever. The stakes have only gotten higher in the wake of President Trump’s election reversal crusade and the restrictive laws that have flowed from it. So we’re happy to announce that we’re launching a weekly voting rights newsletter — The Franchise — that will go right to TPM members’ inboxes every Monday.
In it, I’ll keep you up to speed on the state-by-state voting rights battles, as well as the national trends I am seeing in the war over the ballot box. There’s a lot of noise out there, so I am hoping to distill things down in a way that makes it easy to understand just how and where democracy is under attack across the country. I always appreciate reader feedback, so don’t be shy, particularly if something is happening in your neck of the woods that’s worth a mention in The Franchise. And thanks for reading!
And they hardly see it as a pressing issue, at least not right now.
Kevin McCarthy’s turnabout on a Jan 6th Commission proposal that was negotiated by his chosen negotiator and, by all indications, at his direction is a good reminder – for anyone who needed reminding, and really who are you who needed reminding? – of the reality of bipartisan negotiations in the Trump era. As I noted yesterday, Rep. Katko does not appear to have been freelancing. McCarthy chose him to negotiate on his behalf. And reporting suggests Katko worked from McCarthy’s directives and kept him in the loop. But once the deal was announced McCarthy felt he needed to torpedo it.
I want to take a moment to thank all the former members who’ve rejoined over the last couple weeks. And thanks so much to those of you who’ve become members for the first time. Joining our community and supporting our team’s work is hugely important. It always has been. In many ways though it’s even more meaningful and important now. We get it. It’s been a really long five years of Trump. Trump was brutalizing for some, exhausting for many more. He made news both unwatchable but also unmissable. I long compared the experience of Trump as comparable to life with an abuser. It breeds hypervigilance. Or maybe it’s like news about a sick relative, the last thing you wanted to hear and the first thing you read.
Now that’s done. We don’t know for how long or whether it’s just an intermission. But right now we have a functioning, not-clearly-corrupt executive branch. We even have one that is expansive and reformist in its vision and scope of action. We may have an ex-President at war with the republic … but not a current one. And that, for now, makes all the difference.
From TPM Reader JO’N …
On Josh’s note of two COVID Americas today, I think he’s right. But one thing to notice about the map, and to account for when making sense of the geography of this, is the huge strides that Native American governments have made in getting their people vaccinated. In Montana, the Blackfeet Tribe was away ahead of the rest of the state, with a particularly aggressive outreach and compliance plan.
It’s not for a lack of access in the U.S.
Republicans are still the main the main demographic unwilling to get the COVID-19 shot.
When it was announced last week that Rep. John Katko (R-NY) had negotiated a deal for a Jan 6th Commission I was not so much skeptical as wondering what it was I was missing. Striking a deal usually means you speak for the people who are agreeing to the deal. I saw no evidence this was the case with Katko. It just seemed to me that one Representative had come up with a deal with one other member of Congress, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS). The fact that Katko was one of only ten members of the House to vote for the President’s impeachment over Jan 6th would, it would seem to me, instantly discredit any deal he struck with most Republicans.
Admittedly, the two are the chair and ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee. So it’s relevant jurisdiction. But committee leaders don’t create commissions. That’s something done by congressional leaders and full caucuses. When Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) responded with a skeptical wait-and-see approach, it seemed to me that this was less “agreement” than “proposal”, and maybe not a very promising one at that, inasmuch as it was presented to me as largely adopting the Democrats’ demands.
This morning Politico Playbook sheds new light on the situation which manages to make it both more interesting and more clownish all at once.
The Jerusalem Post is an English-language Israeli paper which is probably best described as center-right-ish, though it’s hard to use these terms in a way that maps clearly to the way we use these terms in the US. It’s current editor-in-chief is Yaakov Katz who in a addition to being a journalist was at one point a national security advisor to Naftali Bennett, a key player in the current dance over the next Israeli government.
As I mentioned yesterday, the current crisis – really several overlapping crises – has been a boon for Prime Minister Netanyahu. At least in the short-term it short-circuited all efforts to form a government to replace him. A key part of why is the aforementioned Bennett. Bennett is an erstwhile Netanyahu protege or junior ally. He’s part of the Israeli right and comes out of Religious Zionism, basically Revisionist Zionism koshered with Orthodoxy. Before the last week’s cascade of violence he was negotiating joining a government created by opposition leader Yair Lapid. It likely would have involved the two sharing the Prime Ministership and Bennett taking the position first. (Not bad for a guy whose party garnered only 7 seats out of 120.)
COVID vaccination, for all the slowdown, remains fast moving across the United States. It seems likely we’ll see a brief surge in shots as parents bring their 12-15 year olds in for their shots. But we’re already seeing the emergence of what in the later months of 2021 is like to be two separate Americas as defined by COVID.
This is a map from the CDC vaccine data portal.
I had missed this article about a very sobering study about the post-acute-illness impact of COVID. Most of us are now familiar with ‘long COVID’, people who continue to have various health problems long after they are past the period acute COVID infection. Some people simply don’t fully recover. Other have various knock-on symptoms or what appear to be recurrences of COVID, even if these are not actually new infections and illness. This study catalogs the likely impact of this phenomenon at scale. They say it will be a protracted health crisis for years to come, both in the US and around the world. The study also found that even people with mild cases of COVID have an elevated risk of death in the six months after they recover. This risk increases with the severity of the original illness.
There’s a lot of stunning and yet not at all surprising information in a new big poll out from Democracy Corps. In short, in battleground states Republicans are pretty much totally united and energized behind Trump, the Big Lie-centric posture of congressional Republicans and well-positioned for 2022. That doesn’t mean Democrats won’t also be united and pumped up. But any questions you may have had about Republicans being divided, demoralized or any essence having second thoughts about the events of the last six months … well, they’re not.
Here’s the overview from Democracy Corps and here’s the whole report. The fine points are a bit more nuanced than I put it above. But not much …
We conducted a large, mostly cell phone survey with an oversample of Republicans in the 2022 battleground for the U.S. Senate, governorships, and House, and it is painfully clear Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham, and Kevin McCarthy know their party. The Trump loyalists who strongly approve of him are two thirds of those who identify as, “Republican.” And they are joined by the Trump aligned to form a breathtaking, three quarters of the party in the electoral battleground states and districts that will decide who leads the country.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson may be one of the most prominent voices spreading vaccine speculation on the airwaves, but social media’s prowess is arguably just as far reaching.
A new study first picked up by NPR has found that there are just 12 people behind much of the spread of disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine on social media, specifically on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
All of Israel-Palestine is on fire today. There is a recurrence of the mix of Hamas rockets from Gaza and overwhelming military response from Israel which we’ve seen episodically over the last 15 years. It’s as horrible as it was each earlier time. You can choose who you think is more to blame. But it is not new. Violence is now erupting in the West Bank. But most novel is outbreak of what the Israeli police chief is calling an ‘internal intifada’, widespread inter-communal violence within Israel proper, particularly in cities with relatively mixed populations, especially Lod.
In these towns there have been Jewish mobs attacking Arab civilians and Arab mobs attacking Jewish civilians. This isn’t unprecedented in Israel proper. But it is certainly at a different and more widespread level than anything seen in many decades. Each dimension of the crisis is distinct but deeply related. They all grow from the century-old conflict over who controls the land between the Jordan River and the sea. But the immediate trigger was violence by far-right Jewish groups against Arab civilians in East Jerusalem and related efforts to evict a group of Arab families from homes allegedly owned by Jews in East Jerusalem. That in itself was, as I’ve argued, tied to the on-going political crisis within Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s increasingly desperate reliance on the far-right Kahanist movement and its electoral leader, MK Itamar Ben Gvir, to remain in power.
What I want to focus on is a clear political reality. This may look catastrophic but it is actually an unalloyed win for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Open and shut. Not even close.
A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is now live. This week, Josh and Kate discuss Liz Cheney’s ouster and the various congressional investigations into the event that ultimately led to her getting the boot.
Watch below and email us your questions for next week’s episode.
You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.