Please see my short note below on the first federal Juneteenth celebrated today. Before that, thank you for getting us off to a great start in our annual TPM Journalism Fund drive. If you’ve planned on contributing but haven’t found the opportune moment, please just click here and make today the day. It’s super important for TPM and your money will be well spent.
Yesterday President Biden signed the bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. Today it is being celebrated officially for the first time. Yes, today, June 18th. There are many, many things that can and should be said about this. But here’s one that I’ll focus on today.
Juneteenth will be the second federal holiday focused on the historical role and experience of African-Americans in the American Republic – the other being the celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King. It is also the second federal holiday tied in some way to the American Civil War. But in this case it is only barely so. Memorial Day began as a commemoration of the dead of the Civil War, in both the North and the South. (The precise origins are disputed.) But Memorial Day is connected to the Civil War only as a point of origin for a tradition. The holiday explicitly honors the sacrifices of all who died in the service of the armed forces of the United States in every war and conflict. To the extent Memorial Day is tied to the Civil War it is focused on military sacrifice, which is in key respects apolitical. It honors military sacrifice in the service of the American Republic irrespective of the nature of the specific conflicts which made the sacrifice necessary.
I hesitated a bit about publishing this note from TPM Readers MW and CW since it’s a bit rosy-eyed about TPM and me. I can assure you that it is unsolicited. And I share it because it captures why we have community-supported memberships and part of what your contributions to The TPM Journalism Fund accomplishes. As I’ve been mentioning, our drive continues. If today is the day you want to contribute just click here.
With Josh discussing the TPM Journalism Fund lately we would like to present a note of thanks to the TPM community. If it meets with your approval then please pass this on to your subscribers. Thank you!
My wife and I wanted to express our thanks to TPM and the community for reasons I will mention below. I promise I will try to keep it short.
Joe Manchin has put out his own version of a voting right/democracy protection bill. Tierney Sneed has the details here. Broadly speaking it seems like a watered down version of a Voting Rights Act upgrade and a stripped down version of H.1/S.1, the For the People Act. Like everything else with Manchin, it’s hard to know whether it means anything anyway since his baseline is needing 10 Republicans in support and there’s virtually no chance that happens.
But there is one detail which immediately caught my eye.
I wanted to update you on what seems to be the state of play on negotiations for an infrastructure bill.
There appears to be some momentum for a purported deal created by the latest bipartisan “gang”, either called the G20 or the ‘problem solvers caucus’. (The first step of bipartisaning is to come up with a cheesy or cloying name.) This is the deal which is rather incongruously labeled as a $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal with $579 of “new spending.” That sounds like a $579 infrastructure deal to me. But let’s set that aside for the moment.
Thank you for getting us off to a solid start in our second annual drive for The TPM Journalism Fund. As I explained yesterday, contributions to the Fund provide a relatively small (on a budget percentage basis) but critical part of the budget that allows TPM to remain vital and focused on original reporting about the most important stuff. It’s really important for our future. I explain more about it here and you can click here to contribute.
This afternoon I wanted to tell you about an entirely different thing the Fund accomplishes, how it protects access for all TPM Readers even if they don’t have the financial wherewithal to subscribe.
Here’s a must read story from Josh Kovensky about how Tom Cotton is insisting that China be denied the 2022 Winter Olympics because he says the PRC will use the Olympics to harvest the DNA of the world’s greatest athletes and then use this genetic treasure trove to create a genetically modified race of Chinese super soldiers to dominate the world. I’m not exaggerating or kidding. That’s what he’s saying. Read it here.
This morning ABC News reported that Democrats are no longer seeking translator notes for President Trump’s notorious meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland in 2018. “The Biden administration is looking forward, not back,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), a phrase which is likely more grating to Democrats than any save “bipartisan compromise”. I will say that I am at best ‘meh’ on the Biden administration’s management of the Trump accountability issue. Not surprisingly, this report is being greeted with pretty intense consternation. But there’s a part of this I don’t think people are figuring on.
Put simply, Biden doesn’t need to seek the transcripts or try to talk to the translator. He already has the transcripts. The moment President Biden took the oath of office he, as President, took possession of all the records of the United States government. That definitely includes the notes of that meeting.
I want to start by thanking everyone who took a moment over the last 22 hours to contribute The TPM Journalism Fund. 310 of you have contributed since we kicked off our drive yesterday. Truly, thank you. And all of us here at TPM thank you. I explained below what the Fund is and why it’s so important. If you haven’t yet, please consider clicking here to become a contributor. More on that later today.
This morning I want to kick off by sharing the Inside Briefing we held yesterday with Adam Jentleson. Adam’s a former Harry Reid staffer and relevant to this present discussion perhaps the most important filibuster reform activist. He’s got a book on it called Kill Switch you can find here. As is usually the case with these Briefings, in addition to wanting to make it informative for readers, I was mainly interested to answer two questions for myself. First, where are we on reforming or ditching the filibuster? and Second, what on earth is happening up on Capitol Hill about passing a big infrastructure bill which is supposed to be the centerpiece of the President’s agenda?
If you’re a member the video of our discussion is after the jump.