Now that the COVID relief bill has passed the nation’s politics are stuck in an uncanny pause or floating space. I can’t think of any analog to it in my living memory or any obvious one in the decades of previous history. Democrats have a big and fairly dramatic legislative agenda. They appear to have buy-in for much though not all of it from all fifty senators in their caucus. The question is whether they’ll make some basic change to the rules of the senate to make it possible to pass legislation with majority votes.
After more than a year of crisis we can all taste the end of the COVID pandemic. The rapidly accelerating rate of vaccinations secures that hope firmly in reality. For the moment though we remain in a standoff with the virus. In key parts of the country we’re actually losing ground.
There’s no question that COVID cases are now on the rise in the Greater New York region and have at least plateaued in much of the Northeast. Michigan, particularly metro-Detroit, is in the midst of surge. Cases there have more than doubled in the last two weeks. New York and Michigan are among 22 states where the number of COVID infections have gone up at least 10% over the last week.
The final results of the fourth successive Israeli election are now in and the verdict is clear: Netanyahu lost. Or to put the matter more precisely, the results make it almost impossible for him to form a government. His bloc, which includes his Likud party and a group of far-right and religious parties, gained 52 seats. You need a minimum of 61 to form a government. Another natural ideological ally, the Yamina party led by an erstwhile Netanyahu lieutenant named Naftali Bennett, has resisted sitting in yet another Netanyahu government. But at the end of the day they probably would. But even that’s only 59 seats, two short of the bare minimum to form a government.
After back-to-back mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder in the past week, gun reform advocates are once again hoping to see an expansion of red flag laws, which allow authorities to confiscate guns from individuals deemed to be particularly dangerous. They’re one of the few gun control measures that some members of the pro-gun lobby will get behind due to their case-by-case enforcement.
Here are some fascinating takeaways from a series of focus groups Democracy Corps conducted with Trump supporters and various varieties of conservatives. One notable thing is the difficulty they had recruiting volunteers. “It took a long time to recruit these groups because Trump voters seemed particularly distrustful of outsiders right now, wary of being victimized, and avoided revealing their true position until in a Zoom room with all Trump voters — then, they let it all out.”
Forty years ago today my mother died in a car wreck. I was twelve. And the trauma and repercussions of that night have echoed down through the subsequent forty years of my life. It is mystifying to me that it was so long ago. Yet in another way it might be centuries, it seems so distant and alien. From the perspective of today I see that it was just a brief prelude before my life, as I now understand it, really began.
I’ve mentioned several times in recent weeks that it is critical Democrats learn (yet another) lesson of the early Obama years. Good policy doesn’t make for good politics. Not by itself. You have to do the good policy and combine it with good politics. That means many things but the first is effectively telling and reminding voters what you did. With the recent COVID relief bill that means an on-going and robust process of messaging connecting elements of the bill with unfolding events over the next 18 months. You can’t wait until a few months before the election. It has to be consistent throughout. The administration may not be putting Joe Biden’s name on all the relief checks. But it’s essential to do something equivalent to that as vaccines rollout, checks hit people’s bank accounts and more.
With that in mind we did an Inside Briefing earlier this week with Guy Cecil, Chair of PrioritiesUSA, which is now the biggest Dem-affiliated outside group. Any such effort will inevitably fall largely on groups like Priorities. So I wanted to get an understanding of, is this happening? What’s the plan? I found the discussion really informative and helpful so this morning we’re sharing the briefing with all members. You can watch it after the jump.
HR1/S1, the big democracy protection bill Democrats are trying to get through Congress this year, is an absolutely critical piece of legislation. It has three main components: 1) expanding and protecting access to voting 2) clamping down on partisan gerrymandering and 3) campaign finance reform. A portion of campaign finance reform creates a federal public financing system.
And 10 days later: A mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado.
In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglass massacre in 2018, the city of Boulder passed landmark legislation banning the possession of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines within the municipality. The city law was challenged with aggressive legal action from gun-rights activists, including the Colorado State Shooting Association and the local chapter of the National Rifle Association.
Both the politics and the existence of Israel have long been matters of great fascination and importance to me. But my interest, engagement, commitment has ebbed as the country’s politics have become not only more right wing but more consistently absurd over the last decade. The animating question of Israeli politics is no longer the Arab-Israeli conflict, questions of political economy or religion but overwhelmingly the question of one man: Benjamin Netanyahu. He entirely dominates what is called the ‘national camp’ and two or perhaps three of the country’s other parties are right wing parties which are founded around their principal’s personal disputes with Netanyahu. Every few months there’s another election. When Netanyahu wins he becomes Prime Minister. When Netanyahu loses he also becomes Prime Minister. Why pay attention?
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) made speculation about his impending bid for retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) seat official last night with a speech that not-so-subtly revealed that the “Big Lie” would be a crucial pillar of his campaign.
My take on the British monarchy is one of general indifference. They’re quaint. They’ve inspired countless costume dramas I’ve enjoyed immensely. I even have some small element of nostalgia for them in the same way I do for dragons or jousting tournaments. But mostly I don’t care about them in any way. But I’ve been struck by the recent efflorescence of pro-monarchism on the American right, something that seems to flow in this particular case downstream from hostility to Meghan Markle, but is yet part of something larger. In the midst of the Markle drama, Trump immigration czar Stephen Miller hopped on to Twitter to defend the monarchy as a symbol of national service and praise the royals he met during President Trump’s state visit as “unfailingly gracious and deeply committed to preserving the traditions and heritage of the UK.” (emphasis added). A week later The National Review published An American Defense of Britain’s Constitutional Monarchy.
Not really, of course.
Like his fellow GOPers’ efforts to raise awareness surrounding the humanitarian crisis at the border, Cruz’s newfound concern for media access is convenient, to say the least.
One of the oddities or ironies – I’m not sure quite what it is – of the COVID Pandemic is that the US and UK, which did so poorly managing the disease vs much of Europe, have done so much better vaccinating their populations. This shows up particularly for the UK which is mostly relying on the same AstraZeneca as the the EU. Now comes word that the EU may block exports of the vaccine and its constituent ingredients to the UK until the manufacturer meets its delivery obligations to the European Union. (Needless to say, some of the knock on consequences of Brexit.)
It’s been a fear for pro-choice advocates for some time — one that grew when Trump was elected and only accelerated after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away late last year.
When will reproductive rights be back in front of the Supreme Court?
Yesterday Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) announced his support for abolishing or dramatically reforming the Senate filibuster. This comes after comments earlier this week from Joe Manchin in which he said he won’t budge from the Senate’s current 60 vote threshold for advancing legislation. That comes less than two weeks after Manchin expressed support for moving toward a so-called ‘talking filibuster’ and only a few more weeks after Manchin insisted he would support the filibuster no matter what and forever. Put this all together and at least on the surface you have a confusing mix of signals – often entirely contradictory – that makes it very hard to make sense of what is happening with the filibuster and thus whether there is any real chance of more legislation this year while Democrats have the slenderest hold on both the executive and the legislative branches of government.
But this time, it’s a bit different.
You’ve probably seen news about the halt in vaccinations across much of Europe in the wake of questions about whether the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the main one in Europe, might be associated with a rare clotting syndrome as a side effect. Here’s the most detailed account of the situation I’ve read, a piece by two top flight science/epidemiology journalists writing in Science.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) been talking about impeachment since January 21, one day after inauguration.
Now, she’s not alone. Sort of.