Weekend Open Thread
[guest post by Dana]
Here are a few news items for you to chew over. Please feel free to share anything you think might interest readers. Make sure to include links.
First news item
RIP baseball legend Hank Aaron:
Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron, the Hall of Fame slugger whose 755 career home runs long stood as baseball’s golden mark, has died. He was 86.
One of the sport’s great stars despite playing for the small-market Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves throughout a major league career that spanned from 1954 to 1976, Aaron still holds major league records for RBIs (2,297), total bases (6,856) and extra-base hits (1,477), and he ranks among MLB’s best in hits (3,771, third all time), games played (3,298, third) and runs scored (2,174, fourth).
“What a marvelous moment for baseball … What a marvelous moment for the country and the world.”
RIP Hank Aaron, one of the greatest of all time.pic.twitter.com/kjrvSK19BM
— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) January 22, 2021
Aaron broke records and broke color lines, but not everyone was happy about it. This is from 2019:
Hank Aaron encountered plenty of racism in his life, but nothing prepared him for the hatred and death threats he received as he chased Babe Ruth’s career home run record nearly 45 years ago.
Among the many hate-filled letters he was sent was one that he shared years later in Sports Illustrated: “You are not going to break his record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it. Whites are far more superior than [slur] . . . My gun is watching your every black move.’’
Aaron, who will turn 85 Tuesday, says the night of April 8, 1974 — when he hit his 715th home run at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to break Ruth’s record — brings back memories that are much more bitter than sweet. The path to breaking Ruth’s mark of 714 was filled with anguish, he said.
Leave it to a politician to exploit his death:
Anti-vaccine pseudoscience peddler Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. used baseball legend Hank Aaron’s death in a desperate attempt to fan hysteria over the coronavirus vaccine late Friday. Kennedy, whose fact-free work has been rebuked by his own family, tweeted Friday, “Hank Aaron’s tragic death is part of a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly closely following administration of COVID vaccines. He received the Moderna vaccine on Jan. 5 to inspire other Black Americans to get the vaccine.” Aaron died at age 86 on Friday morning.
Second news item
Trump conspiring?? Unbelievable, yet so believable:
President Donald Trump conspired with a Justice Department lawyer to oust the acting attorney general so as to further pressure the agency into pursuing his false claims of widespread voter fraud in Georgia. Earlier this month, top DOJ lawyers learned of the attempted ouster of Jeffrey Rosen, according to The New York Times, and a group of them agreed to resign if Trump did indeed fire Rosen and replace him with Jeffrey Clark, a DOJ attorney who had plotted with Trump to bring the DOJ around to Trump’s point of view on the Georgia ballots. The president reportedly pitted Clark directly against Rosen in a pitch contest akin to The Apprentice in a meeting at the White House.
Third news item
Meh. Expect more of this post-insurrection pondering:
MSNBC’s Anand Giridharadas questioned Friday if Fox News “is a thing that should exist in America.”
“Part of this justice is not just on him,” he said. “It’s on the media ecosystem — Fox News and OANN and all these other things — that is not just offering a different point of view, as we all know. It is a brain-mashing machine for half of this country and we see that a large number of brains are already being mashed. We see after the terrorist insurrection that 12% of Americans supported the terrorist attack after it happened. I’m not just worried about a few thousand people on the Hill; I’m worried about several million people who are now down with terrorism as a means of political conduct. They are brain-mashing victims in addition to being perpetrators of this activity. I think we need to shift the debate to say, ‘Is Fox News a thing that should exist in America?’ Is that not a violation of the basic ethics and norms of a civil society, if not of the law?”
Fourth news item
Utter bullshit from an utterly bullshit individual:
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) attracted attention last week when he said in a floor speech that former President Donald Trump “bears responsibility” for the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
But since then, he has seemed to walk back his criticism.
On Thursday, he told reporters that he didn’t actually believe Trump had “provoked” the mob of his supporters.
In an interview airing Sunday on Gray Television’s “Full Court Press With Greta Van Susteren,” McCarthy insisted he wasn’t changing his tune.
“No, I have not changed in that,” he said.
He stood by his assertion that Trump does bear some responsibility for what happened. But, he added, so does every other person around the country.
“I also think everybody across this country has some responsibility,” he said.
Fifth news item
The divide in the Democratic Party likely to become even more significant:
President Biden talks like a soothing centrist. He promises to govern like a soothing centrist. But early moves show that he is keeping his promise to advance a liberal agenda.
Never before has a president done more by executive fiat in such a short period of time than Biden. And those specific actions, coupled with a push for a more progressive slate of regulators and advisers, look more like the Biden of the Democratic primary than the unity-and-restraint Biden of the general election.
Biden also extended a Trump-era student loan payments pause, and foreclosure and eviction moratoriums, that that were set to expire.
One sign of the delicate dance to appease the most progressive members of his party: In response to Biden’s decision to extend the student loan pause, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “OK now let’s cancel them.”
Biden’s campaign said it would ask Congress to cancel $10,000 in student debt for borrowers, CNBC reported earlier this month.
Sixth news item
Asked about how the rioters and rallygoers thought they could change the electoral results, pointing to his and other Republican objections, Hawley claimed: “I was very clear from the beginning that I was never attempting to overturn the election.”
BAIER: Are you trying to say that, as of January 20, that President Trump will be president?
HAWLEY: That depends on what happens on Wednesday. I mean, this is why we have the debate.
Seventh news item
Biden says his mask mandate is common sense. Republicans say ‘kiss my ass.’:
When Joe Biden issued an executive order this week requiring mask-wearing on federal properties, it was framed as the least controversial provision he would issue early in his presidency.
“It’s not a political statement,” he said, “it’s a patriotic act.”
But shortly after the newly elected president uttered that plea, some Republicans made clear that even this ask wouldn’t go over well with them.
“The Biden administration is already headed in the wrong direction,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said on Friday. “Continued federal overreach won’t end the Covid-19 pandemic or put food on the table.”
And within days, it became clearer that opponents wouldn’t just complain about the mask mandate, but actively fight it, too.
“Definitely expect lawsuits from our state, private lawsuits,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a Texas-based GOP strategist and former campaign manager to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
Eighth news item
Courage under fire: Alexei Navalny in Russia:
Protesters took to the streets Saturday in nearly 70 cities and towns across Russia calling for the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny — a massive show of defiance against President Vladimir Putin and his widening crackdowns against challenges to his power.
More than 1,850 people were detained, including Navalny’s wife, Yulia.
The rallies — from Russia’s Far East to central Moscow — came less than a week after Navalny returned from Germany, where he recovered from a nerve agent poisoning in August during a trip to Siberia. Navalny was arrested shortly after stepping off the plane.
Some 40,000 people participated in the Moscow protest, the Reuters news agency reported, while police said 4,000 people took part.
Tens of thousands of others joined protests across the country — sending a powerful message to the Kremlin on the reach and resolve of Navalny’s network. It also underscored the pressure facing Russian authorities who must decide whether to keep Navalny behind bars.
Liz Cheney in the good ‘ol USA:
Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, has faced backlash from within her own party since she joined nine other House Republicans last week in voting to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Since then, more than 100 House Republicans — more than half of the caucus’s members — have committed to an effort to remove Cheney from her role as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.
Cheney’s vote has not only landed her in hot water in Washington, but in her home state as well. The Wyoming GOP issued an unusual condemnation of Cheney’s actions after the impeachment vote last week, releasing a point-by-point criticism of her vote.
About her vote to impeach Trump:
There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.
Ninth news item
In politics and human nature, everything changes and nothing changes:
In 1994, I was teaching U.S. history and American government at Oak Ridge HS in El Dorado Hills, California. I had three bright students who were my TAs. The 20th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation was a few months away. I decided to have my students — Sherilyn Peek, Aaron Leahy and Nicole Poimiroo — take on an extra project. They contacted dozens of people who were in some way involved with the Watergate saga. Politicians, lawyers, political appointees, journalists and others.
They spent weeks, before the internet existed, tracking down addresses. Then they sent a short letter that asked the recipients to respond to one question: What should America learn from Watergate?
Before long, responses started to show up in my mailbox at school…
It’s a fascinating read, especially in light of Trump’s impeachments and his upcoming trial. Read the whole thing.
Bernie Sanders memes flooded the internet this week and some have been pretty funny:
Heh: “People will really put Bernie anywhere but the White House”.
P.S. While not a Bernie supporter, I love this:
.@BernieSanders now capitalizing on viral image, selling $45 Sweatshirts on his website. 100% of proceeds go to Meals on Wheels Vermont. pic.twitter.com/TYGDfVXdIm
— Pat Ward (@WardDPatrick) January 22, 2021
Have a good weekend.