Weekend Open Thread
[guest post by Dana]
Here we go!
First news item
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) withheld support for a joint statement condemning last weekend’s protests against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) because it also wouldn’t include a rebuke of her political views, Axios has learned.
I assumed that there was a consensus that public restrooms were a no-go for harassing politicians. Instead I’m told that being harassed in a public restroom is just “part of the process”. Anyway, I look forward to seeing even more Democrats confront and call out their heathen colleagues in public restrooms.
The Vermont independent on Friday shot down the idea of negotiating with Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona face-to-face, telling reporters on Capitol Hill,”It’s not a movie. I don’t know if you are a movie writer. This is not a movie.”
He labeled Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona as a pair of obstructionists holding up the bulk of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda.
“My criticism of Senators Manchin and Sinema is not their views, but my strong criticism is when the American people, President and 90% of your colleagues want to go forward, it is wrong to obstruct,” he added, per the Associated Press’s Farnoush Amiri…
“Two people do not have the right to sabotage what 48 want, what the president of the United States wants. That, to me, is wrong,” Sanders said, echoing Biden’s remarks from earlier in the week.
How silly is Bernie’s argument? This silly:
[T]his tweet conveniently leaves out the 50 Republican senators. Followed to its conclusion, this would suggest that 52 senators should not be able to block what a minority of 48 senators want.
Second news item
The White House on Friday formally blocked an attempt by former President Donald Trump to withhold documents from Congress related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, setting up a legal showdown between the current and former presidents over executive privilege.
In a letter to the National Archives obtained by NBC News, White House Counsel Dana Remus rejected an attempt by Trump’s attorneys to withhold documents requested by the House Select Committee regarding the then-president’s activities on Jan. 6, writing that “President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified as to any of the documents.”
Third news item
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan Friday to phase out the gifted and talented programs for elementary school students that many educators say discriminate against Black and Hispanic children enrolled in the nation’s largest public school system.
It will be replaced by a program called “Brilliant NYC” that will expand the pool of students being offered accelerated learning, and not limit it to just the incoming kindergarteners who scored well on an optional exam that put them on a path to attend the city’s elite middle schools and high schools.
“The era of judging 4-year-olds based on a single test is over,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Brilliant NYC will deliver accelerated instruction for tens of thousands of children, as opposed to a select few. Every New York City child deserves to reach their full potential, and this new, equitable model gives them that chance.”
Fourth news item
From gassing sleeping towns and bombing hospitals, schools, and bakeries to employing yearslong starvation sieges and using crematoriums to conceal the mass murder of prison populations, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has spared nothing in its brutal pursuit of survival over the past decade.
When men, women, and children took to the streets in the spring of 2011 to call for political reform—many holding roses in the air to represent peace—Assad labeled them “germs.” Ten years later, at least half a million Syrians are dead, 100,000 more individuals have disappeared, and more than half the population remains displaced. More prosecutable evidence of war crimes has amassed against Assad’s regime than against the Nazis at Nuremberg…
Indeed, the world seems to be gradually accepting Assad back into the global community—and thereby helping to normalize the atrocities his regime has committed…
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has also adopted a largely hands-off approach to Syria. And although the Biden administration itself may not be welcoming Assad back into the fold with open arms, it has clearly left open the door for others to do so—shattering international norms and rewarding the 21st century’s most notorious war criminal with a rebirth. One official, speaking anonymously, even admitted the Biden administration will not act to prevent or reverse U.S. allies reengaging with and normalizing Assad’s regime.
Fifth news item
Having made a thorough case that Trump’s tariffs had failed, Tai might have been expected to say that President Joe Biden’s administration is therefore junking them and trying something new. The fact that she neither did that nor explained why the tariffs are staying suggests that its inaction stems from considerations of domestic politics rather than of foreign or economic policy. Unions that support Biden have also supported the tariffs. In the end, the president would rather avoid giving Republicans another rationale for saying that he is soft on China.
The price of not looking soft, unfortunately, is to continue to inflict damage on the U.S. economy in return for nothing.
Sixth news item
Executive privilege held by a *former* president?
Steve Bannon will not cooperate with the House select committee investigating January 6, his lawyer said in an email obtained by CNN that cites former President Donald Trump’s claim of executive privilege. Bannon’s attorney told the committee that “the executive privileges belong to President Trump” and “we must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege.” The letter from Bannon’s legal team goes on to say it may be up to the courts to decide whether he is ultimately forced to cooperate — essentially daring the House to sue or hold him in criminal contempt. “As such, until these issues are resolved, we are unable to respond to your request for documents and testimony,” wrote the lawyer, Robert Costello.
“Though the Select Committee welcomes good-faith engagement with witnesses seeking to cooperate with our investigation, we will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral,” Thompson and Cheney said.
Seventh news item
The U.S. economy added 194,000 jobs in September, after economists predicted employers would hire roughly 500,000 new workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced on Friday.
This month is the second in a row in which job growth fell short of expectations, with the U.S. adding 366,000 jobs in August despite economists’ predictions of 728,000 new jobs.
There are currently 5 million fewer people on payrolls than there were in February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic forced shutdowns of businesses across the country, according to the Bureau. The shortage of workers coincides with high numbers of job openings, with almost 11 million job openings towards the end of July this year.
So, Covid money is running out, eviction moratoriums are decreasing, and with this negative report out, one wonders exactly what are Americans living on? This, as businesses are desperate for employees (see: Help Wanted signs everywhere).
Smart comment from JVW as we discussed this subject this morning: Economists expected 500,000 hires last month and we got fewer than 200,000. How long before the Biden Team tells us that *next* summer will be “recovery summer”??
Eighth news item
Pushing back against cancel culture:
“If this is what being canceled is like, I love it,” the 48-year-old [Dave Chappelle] said in response to a standing ovation. The line, and many more like it, was greeted by rapturous applause from the crowd… At another point, he was more blunt: “Fuck Twitter. Fuck NBC News, ABC News, all these stupid ass networks. I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you. This is real life.”
But that is precisely what the LGBTQ community, and in particular trans women, have objected to after Chappelle used their real lives, bodies and gender identity as punchlines in The Closer. “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. That is a fact,” he says in the special, his last of a string of Netflix specials
California students will soon be required to take ethnic studies to graduate high school.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 101 into law on Friday afternoon, requiring California high school students to take ethnic studies to graduate, starting with the class of 2030. Educators and recent studies attest to the benefits of students learning the histories and cultures of marginalized communities, but a few parents still worry the requirement could create more tensions between students.
Criticism of the requirement:
The editorial board at the Los Angeles Times opposed the bill because it provides too much flexibility for local districts to design their own curricula that could deviate from the state’s own model curriculum. Thousands from California’s Jewish community signed a petition opposing the bill because it would allow districts to use a previous draft of the model curriculum that has been criticized for containing anti-Semitic content.
Victoria Samper, a parent volunteer for Latinx for Quality Education, said she and her organization opposed the requirement because, she said, these conversations about oppression cultivates a “victim mentality” for students. Samper said ethnic studies should focus primarily on the historical figures who overcame adversity.
Have a nice weekend.