Another week gone, and here is October 2021 on us, already.
Every night all the calamities of the moment are covered by NBC Nightly News. In a way, the news is always the same.
We’re in a climate crisis.
Hospitals are still filled with Covid-19 patients.
We’re told America could be just weeks away from defaulting on its debt for the first time ever.
And as far as enacting President Biden’s policy agenda, we don’t have 6 major political parties in government, the way the Germans do. We have only two.
I would argue we actually have only the Democratic Party.
(The Republicans are AWOL. They very, very rarely work with the Democrats. They will kill American democracy— and kill us all— if they come back into power).
The moderates and the progressives in the Democratic Party are tussling over two big policy bills.
There’s the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, and a $3.5 trillion social policy bill that includes measures related to climate change, family aid, and expansions to Medicare.
Here’s what Amber Philips writes in today’s Washington Post about the key players in the Democrats’ congressional battles. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.):Leader of centrist Democrats in the House What he wants: A vote on the infrastructure bill on Thursday, which he didn’t get. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.):Leader of the progressive caucus in the House What she wants: Centrist Democrats, particularly in the Senate, to get behind the $3.5 trillion spending bill that would be the capstone of Democrats’ control of Washington right now. Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.):A centrist holdout in the Senate
What he wants: Democrats’ social safety net legislation to cost much less, around $1.5 trillion. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.): Another holdout in the Senate
What she wants: First off, for the House to pass the infrastructure bill. She helped negotiate that in the Senate, where 19 Republicans voted for it.
And like Manchin, she wants Democrats’ social safety net/climate change legislation to cost much less. But unlike Manchin, she’s been more quiet about what she could support, frustrating liberals who feel like they can’t negotiate with a moving target, or no target at all.
Here is a set of slides from Deutsche Welle’s website that shows the outcome of Sunday’s federal elections in Germany.
Angela Merkel’s party (the Christian Democrats) lost ground everywhere.
For the first time since the 1950s, at least three parties will be needed to form a coalition in Germany’s government. (The two largest parties are unlikely to form a coalition on their own).
The Social Democrats and the Green Party made the biggest gains.
‘I want to focus on what we said yes to as a State. We said yes to science; we said yes to vaccines; we said yes to ending this pandemic; we said yes to peoples’ right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression; we said yes to a woman’s fundamental constitutional right to decide what she does with her body, her faith and her future; we said yes to diversity; yes to inclusion; we said yes to pluralism; we said yes to all those things we hold dear as Californians – and I would argue as Americans: economic justice, social justice, racial justice, environmental justice, our values, where as Californians had made so much progress. All those were on the ballot this evening. And so I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their right to vote, and expressed themselves so overwhelmingly to rejecting the division, by rejecting the cynicism, by rejecting so much of the negativity that’s defined our politics in this country over the course of so many years’.
– California Governor Gavin Newsom at a press conference tonight
Good news from California: the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom has failed.
This was a sour-grapes, politicizing-of-COVID effort from the Republican Party of Suffering and Death to unseat Newsom; a waste of $276 million. Per California law they had needed only 50% of the vote to recall Newsom, and install the challenger with the most votes. In this recall it would have been Larry Elder, a conservative radio talk show host and Trumpist. That would have been downright awful.
There was no gay pride parade in downtown this year in Seattle. (It is held on the last Sunday in June every year).
A separate organization puts up an event called Pridefest in June—on Broadway in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. They postponed their event instead of cancelling it, and it was held today.
It turned out that the pandemic is very much with us, even though it is the end of summer. I was not too keen to rub shoulders with everyone out there.
Even so, I walked down to Broadway this afternoon, put my mask on, dodged the people in the street, and took a few pictures. The street was not very crowded, and many people were wearing masks as well.
It’s official: America’s 20 year-long war in Afghanistan is over.
The last cargo plane from the United States armed forces had left at midnight Kabul time on Monday night. Someone on flightradar24.com noted that the United States military has ceased to provide air traffic control functions at Kabul Airport, and that the entirety of Afghan airspace is now without air traffic control.
‘Afghanistan has once more completed a cycle that has repeatedly defined the past 40 years of violence and upheaval: For the fifth time since the Soviet invasion in 1979, one order has collapsed and another has risen. What has followed each of those times has been a descent into vengeance, score-settling and, eventually, another cycle of disorder and war’, writes Thomas Gibbons-Neff for the New York Times.
What a horrible day at Kabul International Airport.
The terrorist organization called ISIS-K (Islamic State Khorasan Province) claimed responsibility for the attacks. ISIS-K was founded by former members of the Pakistani Taliban, Afghan Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
ISIS-K sees the Afghan Taliban as its strategic rivals. It brands the Afghan Taliban as ‘filthy nationalists’ with ambitions only to form a government confined to the boundaries of Afghanistan. This contradicts the Islamic State movement’s goal of establishing a global caliphate. (From ‘What is ISIS-K?’ at theconversation.com by authors Amira Jadoon & Andrew Mines).
Kandahar, in particular, is a huge prize for the Taliban. It is the economic hub of southern Afghanistan, and it was the birthplace of the insurgency in the 1990s, serving as the militants’ capital for part of their five-year rule. By seizing the city, the Taliban can effectively proclaim a return to power, if not complete control.
– By Christina Goldbaum, Sharif Hassan and Fahim Abed writing in the New York Times
Lester Holt spent 10 minutes on NBC’s Nightly News on the Taliban’s unsettling takeover of Afghanistan.
Retired US Army general David H. Petraeus and Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2010 & 2011, said on the radio today, that pulling out is a mistake, and that US forces need to go back in. It’s too late for that. Twenty years of effort and tens of billions of dollars of aid, to train an Afghan army, succumbed to the local corruption and internal strife there. The Biden* Administration has made it clear that the US troops are leaving, no matter what.
*Yes: Joe Biden is still the President of the United States. The delusional My Pillow guy had long touted today as ‘Reinstatement Day’ (which would see Trump put back in office).
Pomp and circumstance: impressive formal activities or ceremonies (Merriam-Webster dictionary). Beefeater: Beef + eater. Prob. one who eats another’s beef, as his servant. Could also be from: hlāfǣta, servant, properly a loaf eater. (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary).
Beefeaters are the yeomen of the English royal guard, who, since the accession of Henry VII. in 1485, have attended the sovereign at state banquets and on other ceremonial occasions.
The name is also given to the warders of the Tower of London, who wear a similar uniform.
Queen Elizabeth II received President Biden and First Lady Dr Jill Biden at Windsor castle today. ‘President Biden and the first lady seemed relaxed, and there were no obvious diplomatic breaches‘ reported the New York Times.
Yes. Like stepping in front of the Queen. Or tweeting about the Prince of ‘a group of large marine mammals’ (‘Whales’).
Today the President spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, and condemned these indiscriminate attacks against Israel.
– Statement from the White House @WhiteHouse on Twitter
It just seems to me that this statement is somewhat tone-deaf. It hides many, many of the complexities of the Israel-Hamas/ Palestine conflict. Yes, Israel has a right to defend itself. What about the rights of Palestinians, who have been forced with an iron fist, to live like third-rate citizens in the confines of the Gaza strip and territories in the West Bank?
The stills below are from a video posted in the New York Times, of the destruction of the Gaza Tower.
Tomorrow marks President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office.
Tonight, he addressed a joint session of Congress, with two women on the dais behind him for the first time in the country’s history (Madam VP Kamala Harris and Madam Speaker Nancy Pelosi).
The president noted that 220 million vaccine shots had been given since he had taken office, and talked about his $2 trillion infrastructure plan.
Biden’s plans are big and bold. All told, there is a total of $6 trillion in the spending plans he has rolled out.
He says he will move ahead with these plans, even if he does not receive a single Republican vote of support in Congress: The American Rescue Plan (the coronavirus relief bill), passed by Congress in March, $1.9 trillion. The American Jobs Plan (infrastructure plan), unveiled Mar. 31, $2.3 trillion (paid for in part by raising the corporate tax rate). The American Families Plan, unveiled this week, $1.8 trillion (paid for by increases in tax collection and high-earner income & capital gains taxes).
The deadly shooting in Boulder today, was the second massacre here in the United States in less than a week. So let me exercise my First Amendment rights, to address all Second Amendment gun fanatics.
The National Rifle Association is a domestic terrorist organization.
Of that I’m 99% sure.
(That the NRA is a domestic terrorism enabler, is borne out 100% by facts).
The domestic terrorist is almost always a white male.
More often than not, he is apprehended ‘without incident’.
(If he were black or brown, he would be shot dead).
The real ‘incident’ would usually be, what — 6, 8 .. or 10? people murdered in cold blood.
.. with an AR15 or something similar, a military-grade weapon that should have been outlawed decades ago,
.. and that the terrorist might have purchased just hours ago, over the counter (as in the case of Atlanta last week).
Is all of this the ‘well-regulated militia’ referred to in the (should-be-repealed) Second Amendment? Not even close. It’s a guns-for-all Wild West, that enables crazy people to go on killing sprees.
‘While it was different for everyone, we all lost something, a collective suffering, a collective sacrifice. A year filled with the loss of life and the loss of living for all of us’.
– President Joe Biden, in a nation-wide address today, on the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of the pandemic
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan bill is about to be voted on for the final time (tomorrow, in the House). Then it will be signed into law by President Biden.
Direct payments will be sent to 150 million households ($1,400 per person), $300/ month unemployment benefits will be extended through September, additional monthly assistance will be paid to families with children, and it will provide funding for vaccine distribution & for state and local governments, and also boost subsidies for healthcare.
In the Senate, Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan through a procedure known as ‘reconciliation’, which enables certain budget bills to pass with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes necessary for a regular bill. (The Senate can only pass three bills a year through this process, and there are strict limits as to what can be in them).
If I have it right, not a single Republican has voted for the bill so far. Their anti-democratic, anti-everything, Party of Perceived Grievances should dissolve. You’re fired, all of you.
One of the latest animal figures I had ordered from Schleich happens to be a poodle. I am naming the white pooch ‘Snowflake’ .. and no, not because of the recent snow here in Seattle.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz took his family to sunny Cancun in Mexico on Wednesday night (to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, no less), leaving behind millions of his constituents in freezing homes with no electricity and no water.
That was bad enough, and Cruz returned the very next morning after a media firestorm erupted. It got even worse. It turned out that their family poodle, named Snowflake, was left behind in the freezing house.
‘The new dawn blooms as we free it, There is always light. Only if we are brave enough to see it. There is always light – Only if we are brave enough to be it.’
— National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman (22), delivering a poem at President Biden’s inauguration
It’s been a wonderful day here in the United States.
We now have President Joe Biden and Madam Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Before they were both sworn in, Lady Gaga sang The Star-Spangled Banner in her Schiaparelli scarlet & black couture, and wearing the largest golden peace dove brooch I had ever seen.
She made me cry (but Garth Brooks did not).
Here is Dr Martin Luther King Jr, speaking on the Mall in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963, after a civil rights march. This is where he delivered his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.
Fast forward some 57 years, and in that time the United States had inaugurated its first black president — twice.
In 2016, though, the archaic electoral college system, and vast social media disinformation campaigns, resulted in the first white supremacist president to be elected.
In 2021, that Capitol building in the distance would be overrun by violent white supremacists, seeking to overturn the free & fair* election results of 2020.
So now there is a vast amount of work to do, to eradicate a pandemic of lies about the election, along with the pandemic of the Covid-19 virus.
*A generous characterization? .. given the voter suppression, the non-stop gaslighting of voters by the sitting president and his allies, and the damage done to the US Postal service, in order to interfere with mail-in ballots and mail-in votes.
The long, grassy National Mall in Washington DC is home to the Lincoln Memorial and the equally iconic Washington Monument. It fills up with people during the inauguration of a newly elected American president. That will not happen this year with Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The Capitol building, and a large area around it, is patrolled and filled to the hilt with National Guardsmen, US Capitol Police, Washington DC police, the Secret Service – you name it.
I guess it is all a fitting end to the unmitigated disaster that was the Trump presidency. The FBI published dozens of ‘FBI Seeking Information’ posters with pictures of the Jan 6. attackers. Several characters been marked ‘ARRESTED’ (dude with feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk; dude with horns & furs, and megaphone; ‘Baked Alaska’, a right-wing social media personality that live-streamed the scene from inside the Capitol with more than 5,100 viewers watching).
Trump is said to entertain the pardoning of at least 100 more criminals, in the final hours of his presidency. One wonders if any of those already arrested by the FBI, will get a pardon. I would hazard a guess and say they will not.
It’s Monday night, and the Instigator-in-Chief is still in the White House.
The Article of Impeachment document has been published.
The latest is that the House will call for a vote on the Article of Impeachment by Wednesday night.
It is starting to look as if Trump is going to be impeached for a second time, with 12 days left in his term. The rats have started to jump ship. Education Secretary Betsy De Vos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger and others have resigned, possibly to avoid getting drawn into supporting Trump’s removal from office with the 25th Amendment. First step to do this is for VP Mike Pence and for a majority of the cabinet, to provide a written declaration to the Senate .. but Pence is not going to do it. (25th Amendment removal requires 2/3 majorities in both the House and in the Senate).
So now to Impeachment 101 again.
It only requires a majority vote in the House to impeach. (The Democrats are in the majority, check).
Three House members already have a draft with one article for insurrection. (Trump encouraged & egged on the rioters of Wednesday; 5 people died, including a US Capitol Police officer).
Nancy Pelosi seems to be ready to have a vote on Monday.
Impeachment in the House is followed by a Senate trial. Conviction & removal requires 2/3 of the Senate, though. Neither the 25th Amendment nor impeachment automatically disqualifies Trump from running in 2024, but a clause in the 14th Amendment Section III can be written into the impeachment, to bar Trump from ever running again.
Whatever happens: Trump is not going to run again for president.
His Twitter account was permanently suspended today (for inciting violence), leaving himself & his 88 million followers in the dark.
He is likely going to be prosecuted for tax fraud and money laundering by New York State. He pardoned criminals, but he will not be able to pardon himself out of crimes that he would be found guilty of by the state of New York.